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SBDC Releases Free COVID Response Guide for Entrepreneurs

MADISON – Since 1980, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at UW-Madison has been supporting entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses. This year was meant to be a celebration of the statewide organization’s 40-year anniversary – yet it was just days before SBDC Day March 18 when it became clear how far-reaching the impacts of the coronavirus were going to be.

Since March 2020, SBDC consultants have:

  • Met with 243 clients on COVID-related questions for an average of 1.7 hours per client
  • Helped clients obtain $8.32 million in COVID-related local, statewide and federal aid
  • Transitioned or posted 15 classes online, including several new offerings

As the magnitude and constantly changing nature of the virus left many entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed, UW-Madison SBDC staff decided that a structured recovery workbook could help business owners sort out their thoughts and be better prepared to pivot – perhaps multiple times over – as they learned more about the virus and the economy.

Navigating the New Normal: A Practical Guide to COVID Response for Small Businesses was the result of this effort. In creating this workbook, SBDC business consultants took into account some of the early conversations they were having with business owners in March and April and – recognizing both that coronavirus would be sticking around for a while and that overly detailed information about constantly shifting health guidance and government programs would not serve clients as well – decided to root the structure of the publication in solid business planning and best practices.

By working through the guide – including reflection questions, checklists and goal-setting prompts – business owners can:

  1. Reflect on where they were and the decisions they made at the beginning of the crisis to see how those decisions impacted the business.
  2. Re-evaluate their business more holistically by identifying what best practices they would like to begin, continue or enhance moving forward.
  3. Refocus their business plan by narrowing down their ideas into top-priority SMART goals that they can then act on themselves or assign to another member of their team.

UW-Madison SBDC Director Michelle Somes-Booher notes how this publication can help clients: “2020 has been a year of uncertainty, which can leave business owners spinning their wheels, not knowing where to go next. In Navigating the New Normal, we use a checklist format to help them reflect on their experiences, realize how much they’ve already accomplished and think through their next steps in a structured way. Our goal is to bring them back to their business planning basics and help them evaluate.”

The final product of the workbook, downloadable at https://sbdc.wisc.edu/covid-19/response-resources/, can provide business owners with a clearer path moving forward. In addition to this guide, the SBDC – funded in part by the Small Business Administration — also offers a wide range of courses taught by experts in their respective fields as well as no-cost business consulting.

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