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Small business mentors face challenges during pandemic

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Posted at 10:19 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 10:19:05-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Over the last year, small businesses have tried to adapt to the pandemic, but some weren't alone in their efforts.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has been working hard to help businesses not only survive but thrive during difficult times.

"You have to pivot to survive, and a lot of our small businesses have had to do that, and organizations that serve small businesses have done that as well," said KSBDC State Director Kristina Joyce.

When pandemic mandates and closures began to impact businesses, the KSBDC, which offers business coaching, training, and education, stepped up its clients' support. Joyce says this included creating training webinars, providing state guideline updates, and offering financial advice. Joyce says the center wants to make sure clients are prepared if this situation happens again.

"We don't ever want another pandemic, but we want to pandemic-proof our businesses," she said. "My suggestion is to be a lifelong learner in your business."

J. Render's Southern Table and Bar in Lexington, one of the center's clients, had found that support extremely helpful, especially when it came to staying updated with changes early on.

"My coach Stu in particular, he was my sounding board," said J. Render's co-owner Gwyn Everly. "I would email him, and I would wear them out. 'I heard this. I heard that. I saw this.' And he would do the same thing with me, and it helped me to know what I could do to save my business."

Unfortunately, the pandemic did lead to small business closures. Joyce says that was an area the center was still able to offer support.

"We've had some requests for, 'How do I close my business the proper way?' Because a lot of times you don't want to think about that, that you've got to close your business, but when you do that, you have to make sure you close it correctly," said Joyce.

Joyce says they hope that help sets up affected business owners to be successful in the future if and when they open a new business.