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True Stories from the Frontlines of the Covid-19 Economic Collapse

Earlier today, billionaire entrepreneur Marc Cuban offered his services to small businesses under pressure by the coronavirus. He received hundreds of responses.

These are cries for help from small business owners as they sink below the black. These are family people supporting family people. They know every one of their employees and are forced to make heartbreaking decisions about their fate.

Below is a selection of true stories from the frontlines of the Covid-19 economic collapse:

I run a cell phone store and we are seeing lower and lower traffic counts. Our people are paid based on sales and with the low amount of traffic the idea of cutting hours and headcount is becoming more and more likely. I’m working the trenches with my people to keep morale high but at the end of the day morale won’t pay our bills. Thoughts?

My wife and I own a boutique fitness studio in NYC which was ranked as one of the best fitness studios in NYC by Financial Times and other media outlets. We tried to speak to the landlords – both are billion dollar companies about rent and they refuse to work with us. Our staff relies on us for that extra income and we are giving issues because people simply are told not to go to gyms. “At this moment we are not extending any rent relief. Unless you hear otherwise, please make sure to continue paying on account as per your lease.” We have 13 instructors and staff, which we would essentially cover for as long as we can; however we cannot offer it since the landlords won’t. Our rents are roughly $20K a month. Our entire philosophy is sweat and be push beyond your limit. We are in a growth period with no investors or debt, yet these landlords do not care. We believe it is our civic duty to cut classes and capacity even more than required. We need advice on these landlords both are billion dollar companies. They have insurance for this aspect and our insurance company has a clause that actually voids are contract for something of this sort. Thoughts?

We survived last major down turn with reducing salaries until things turned around but this is worse

We manufacture upstream parts for oil rigs in China. 23 employees Texas company. Majorly affected our business as we can not receive parts even if we sell them. Along with Coronavirus the drop in oil prices has greatly affected us as parts we DO have in stock won’t be as needed as rigs stop drilling in the U.S. We do NOT want to lay off or even reduce hours if we don’t need to but have to make some decisions here soon. We survived last major down turn with reducing salaries until things turned around but this is worse 🙁 My husband has given his life to his company and we’re sick over having to make decisions that will affect families.Any guidance is appreciated. I suggested possibly a fractional CFO to help? 

Mark my business designs and manufactures custom awards for the NCAA College Conferences; MLB teams; ESPN; Colleges and Universities and major corporations. With the cancellation of all sporting events and major conventions and conferences my business which is usually at the peak season right now has come to a screeching halt with people trying to cancel orders and no new orders. I do not see this turning around until at least the new academic year starts in the fall of 2020. In the meantime I will need to lay-off the majority of my 31 employees. Given the skill set needed it will be difficult to recover from losing my skilled labor. What would you recommend I do?

Here’s my question: if I have sent my employees home to work from home, and encouraged them to practice social responsibility and social distancing to do their part in reducing the spread of the virus. But instead you see on social media that they’re out partying with their friends in large groups. Being part of the problem, not the solution. How we can as employers enforce the right behavior? Can I as an employer take disciplinary actions? Or set some ground rules for our newly distant working relationship? Pretty soon the cities/states will shutdown and make this a legal enforcement, but I have educated my employees to do their part NOW! I wonder if Apple (who closed all stores) sent everyone home with “care for the world” packet with instructions. If they did, I’d love to read it! By the way, I run a social media agency so my employees and I are connected thru various social platforms.

I buy and sell Mobile Homes, I’m doing really good, but I have to purchase agreements for the end of this month. I guess I’m having to buy and hold since in 2 weeks the economy may be in worse shape than now and not many buyers will be willing to drop $20k-$30k for each. Or should I cancel and hold my capital. (Best case scenario, I sell them both within days/weeks and continue to build up in capital during this “recession”)

Mark, my Dad owns a small salad shop in downtown Denver and he has already laid off 3 people. Do you know how he can apply for governmental funds to help recoup his losses?

9 yrs ago I started an education resource company. We work with Schools, Libraries, and Afterschool Programs all over the World to make STEM/STEAM accessible to students from all walks of life. As you know, many schools are shutting down and could potentially cause some big challenges for our small business. We currently are running business as usual but expect the school shutdowns to slow business drastically. Any suggestions on how to “flatten the curve” for small businesses? Thanks in advance!

Mark if my company shuts down and there is a way for me to work from home, are they obligated to let me do my job at home so I can get paid and not laid off ??? I am receptionist for a law firm in NY and can have the calls forwarded to my home landline. Thank you anyway if my question does not get answered but I’m sure your helping so many !!!!

We have an award-winning Italian olive oil company. For the most part we sell only online. Our product arrived before the Coronavirus outbreak. We were planning on doing wholesale and events with local businesses in addition to e-commerce but doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. We are concerned about our e-commerce shop and launching our new products because people might be biased against italian products at the moment. Any thoughts?

Hi Mark, I own a wholesale optical frame business that will be 50 years old next year. It is a family business, and I have been in it almost 40 of those years. I have about 80 people that are on my payroll, and I consider every decision I make as affecting 80 families. While these times are very challenging, I am most concerned about the slow down of the economy and the effects on my employees. I am hoping this is a very short term situation with this virus, and I will work through this one way or another. I do not want any layoffs, if possible. I wish you and the Mavs organization a healthy future. I am a MFFL and am struggling not being able to watch my sports. Let’s all pray for the safety and health of all American citizens and those across the world that are infected by this virus.

I consider every decision I make as affecting 80 families

Dear Mark Cuban, I own an event/experiential marketing company. We design and build consumer experiences for agencies, brands, pro athletes, major sports leagues and high traffic events across America. Our business model and solutions are 100% relied on sold-out stadiums and events to drive sales, loyalty and advocacy for our clients. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on how we can save our business from going under now that all leagues and events have been cancelled.

I’m in the juice & smoothie industry. Do you think it’s smarter for me to go ahead and close or seek to strategize around it? I’m thinking of delivery and pickup only. Also thinking of discounting and shifting towards immune boosting juices & food. I’m also considering a transparent cleaning process and preparation process via video to ease concerns. I’ve had people text and say they aren’t consuming anything they don’t prepare. Also organizing my financial docs for SBA support as it becomes available.

So I am an independent tennis coach in Los Angeles, people everywhere are freaking out.. kids going online school- I can’t offer that since it’s an athletic game with repetitive motions. I am going to try to offer online knowledge, but my hunch says parents and players will say wait til this passes.

I own a small vape company with 2 locations in San Antonio. The issue with the Coronavirus has been affecting me for 2 months already now. Nearly all our products (except e-liquid) comes from China and we have been unable to get inventory since the outbreak in China came on the heels of the Chinese New Year, so it was a double whammy. Sales have been severely impacted due to the inability to acquire inventory. Unfortunately, now that inventory is finally starting to slowly flow in, customers aren’t really coming in because they either think there’s no inventory to buy, or they are social distancing themselves. Worst case scenario for us. The one thing that is NOT going away are our COSTS. Rent, lights and payroll are still there, but sales regrettably are not. Thoughts?

Dear Mr. Cuban, I own a food startup and have paid to attend the Sweets and Snacks Tradeshow in Chicago in May. We are very small and family owned. Would you recommend we still attend the show, if they hold it? Or fight to get our money back, save the expense of travel and prevent the risk of getting sick?

I am in the process of buying a duplex. Some friends told me I should proceed while interest is low, and others suggest to not; because who would live in other half at this time? Well- curious to see what you all think about investing in real estate. Would be my first time buying a home… been planning this for a year- but now I’m confused.

…my whole family depends on this company. Very scary times.

I’m a consultant, contractor, and some might say idea leader in the mass participant events industry (especially racing, especially running).  We’re dead in the water, many of us may fully go bankrupt or get out.  A community that relies on people being excited to get together in a crowd and encourage each other to be healthy and happy has had its, pun horribly intended, legs cut out from under it.    Obviously you know a thing or two about getting people to get together and have a good time at a big event – what do you see as an opportunity to leverage the reasons people go to events into something that the community can use to keep the fire alive, and support us until the (???) time that events can go on?

I’m a commercial kitchen designer that specializes in workplace dining. With everyone working from home, I am worried that companies will realize it is cheaper for them to continue this and begin closing and consolidating offices and shutting down these food programs. We were already seeing some movement toward this but thought we would have the better part of a decade before this actually happened. COVID-19 May accelerate this. How does not only my business but this industry survive especially if this becomes accelerated?

Own a sampling company in CA, all demos cancelled until further notice. Now my 300+ employees all out of work. Going to try and take loans to keep things going as long as possible. My one year old is now out of daycare and my whole family depends on this company. Very scary times.

I must say, these anecdotes are quite distressing to read. It really does seem like we’re hitting another ‘Great Recession’.

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