Startups: What’s on the other side of fear? Innovation That Excites and Opportunity

March 16, 2020

With COVID-19 being the center of attention in any workplace, friend gathering, or family dinner conversation, something we’ve been missing in the news is how small and medium businesses are being affected and what entrepreneurs and startups can do. 

Financial Assistance

If you’re a company who has five or less employees, you could be eligible for a $10K grant from the City of Seattle.

If you are a small business with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue, physical presence within a few blocks of Amazon’s Regrade and South Lake Union office buildings, are open to the general public, and are reliant on foot-traffic for customers then you can apply for Amazon’s $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund.

The SBA announced it would offer disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. These low-interest loans are available to businesses that have sustained “substantial economic injury” due to the spread of the coronavirus. You can contact any Bank that does SBA loans and ask them what the process is in order to access disaster assistance loans.

These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. You can apply online for Disaster Assistance or call this phone number: 1-800-659-2955

Businesses Supporting Businesses

If you are in a position where you can continue to support your local community please continue to do so. This can come in many different forms. Keep your subscription services, buy gift cards to stores you’d like to shop at next month, pick up your carry out lunch from your favorite restaurant and tip extra. Seattle Good Business Network put together this incredible resource for all the places offering gift cards that are hoping for your support. 

Fireside Chats Notes From Thinkspace

At thinkspace, we had a couple of fireside conversations with members in both locations last week. We invited all the founders and small businesses within our community to join so we could have an open conversation about what’s going on with the Coronavirus and the global economy along with its impact on companies like ours. We would have liked to polish this up more, but we wanted to share the notes and ideas from those conversations. We hope you can take something away from our conversations and continue to help your business and startup and our community to grow.

Take Hold of Fear

These are unprecedented times. How do we define what our companies are going to look like in a post-Coronavirus world? Fear has the ability to paralyze you, but as entrepreneurs we can use our strengths and to look beyond the fear to capture what opportunities lie ahead and take advantage. This foresight will separate those who will succeed from those who flounder. 

How Are You Different? 

Your goal likely includes preventing layoffs so how do you do that in an environment where your business model needs to shift? Begin thinking of alternative ways to utilize your skills and current resources. How do you leverage what you’re best at, and offer a product or service that’s better suited for this new environment?

Startup Funding Pitches

Many startup founders have said all of their meetings with investors have been cancelled or moved to Zoom. With the resources you are saving, how can you elevate your Zoom Pitch? What is the new pitch experience going to feel like? How can you practice and perfect a Zoom Pitch so that it flows without any technology hiccups?

Large Events and Conferences

In Washington State there is even a formal ban on gatherings of 50+ people and other states are following suit. Whether it’s your startup pitch or a major conference that’s now been sequestered to Zoom, we know that there are countless companies are being hit, and now trying to get innovative to make their meeting stand out and be worthwhile as an alternative to being in person. 

One of our members, Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing has already posted a blog highlighting the creative ways to stand out as we take the necessary pivot to virtual events. 

One of the reasons for attending these large events and conferences is to connect and network with others. How can you still get that effect without physically being there in the same place? One way is to find people that would have normally been attending the event and inviting them to have a “Curious Conversation” as described in this TEDx Talk by Traca Savadogo.

Differentiating yourself from your competition is now more important than ever and you might take his advice to include surprises: who wouldn’t be excited to receive snacks or donuts delivered to their office right before the event starts?

How Do You Ensure Social Responsibility?

We can all do our part by sharing alerts in public places. Whether that’s posting about cleaning schedules, products being used, or if there’s been a positive-tested person in the space (and when that was). Overcommunication is always better than lacking information to share. 

Creating a Fund to Support Other Members

The collaborative spirit is something we can all benefit from. Today we can support companies that are struggling. Community support funds can be created, and with potential tax break incentives and grant support that can be explored, a real possibility to help your fellow neighbor. 

Buy Gift Cards to Support Your Favorite Restaurant

As mentioned above, we don’t want to potentially expose ourselves and our family to the public but want to support your favorite locally owned restaurant. Another great idea we discussed was buying gift cards to companies now that you will use in the future. This helps local businesses with loss of revenue now, ensuring they’ll be around when it’s safe to head back out. 

Struggling to find Hand Sanitizer

Did you know that Clorox wipes aren’t the only thing you can use to kill viruses on surfaces? Ultraviolet light, hydrogen peroxide and water mixtures (even on fabric!), and making your own hand sanitizer with aloe vera gel, isopropyl alcohol, and tea tree oil can all help to to kill viruses.

Here’s a quick article we found about Can UV Light Fight the Spread of Influenza?

Be safe and healthy. You know where you can find us and let me know how I can help your company.


Founder and CEO of Thinkspace