Financial Assistance for Businesses Around the World

financial assistance business COVIDContributed by Tabatha Baca, program coordinator for Entrepreneurs’ Organization EO Accelerator program

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has affected poeple around the world. It’s closed borders, shut down schools and probably ended some marriages.

Small business have been particularly vulnerable to the chaos. Thankfully, governments around the world are working on programs to provide relief. 

Businesses of all sizes that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for financial aid. From wage subsidies, repayment holidays to tax relief and cash influx entrepreneurs can use this shoulder to lean on during these trying times.

The team at EO Accelerator compiled a list of resources organized by country to help you find the right aid. We’ll be periodically updating this resource as new government relief programs become available around the world.

Disclaimer: EO in no way guarantees you or your business will qualify for these programs. For additional information and guidance please connect with your local governance and legal teams.

Middle East
North America
Latin America
Asia
Europe
Africa
Oceania

EO members, visit the #EOTogether site for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together. 

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How to Fix Broken Communications During a Crisis

communications during crisisContributed by Eden Gillott, the president of Gillott Communications, a crisis PR and bankruptcy communications firm. 

Flooded with emails from companies you forgot even existed or don’t remember opting-in for? Hearing lots of gossip about what’s happening? You’re not alone.

In the past few weeks, our inboxes have been overwhelmed with crisis communications that are entirely off the mark. They’re often boilerplate and seem cold, overloaded with information that leaves you with more questions than answers, and, sadly, sometimes in bad taste.

During uncertain times, even the most well-intentioned spread speculation as they try to make sense of a situation that is confusing and overwhelming—a black swan that emerges rarely, maybe once in a generation or a century.

Here are some pointers I’ve shared with clients, which will turn these boilerplate emails on their heads and slow (and hopefully stop) the rumor mill:

Remember that gossip travels faster than fact.

As the saying goes, lies can race around the globe while the truth is still putting on its pants.

How you handle it makes the difference between the gossip controlling you—or you controlling it. We are currently in a time of incredible uncertainty, which is not only unsettling but a breeding ground for gossip.

According to a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Dismantle Office Politics by Being Transparent,” forcing people to read between the lines can result in “misinterpretation and gossip.” Don’t feed the rumor mill with a void of information. The article recommends being “open about your motives.” The rationale? “You can’t expect an organization to operate at a higher moral level than the one you hold yourself to.”

EO members, be sure to check the the #EOTogether site for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together. 

Be consistent and on-point with your internal and external crisis communications.

When you’re considering rolling out changes within your company, you must present yourself in the most favorable light—not just with customers, but with your employees. Your employees take cues from you, so make sure your written and verbal communications are calm and reassuring.

Your employees are the front line of your business. They represent your brand. During uncertain times (i.e., coronavirus, economic downturn, rumors of mass layoffs), have your employees focus on doing their jobs well. It won’t end the uncertainty, but it will give them a sense of purpose and take their minds off their anxiety.

Look at the situation from your customer’s perspective (not your own).

When crafting your messaging, frame it through the lens of the recipients. Their question is always the same: “How does this affect me?” Anticipate their concerns, and the framework of your message becomes clear. What remains is finding the right tone, the right words and the right imagery.

Use subject lines that tell the story at a glance.

People scan their inboxes like they scan the news. They see a headline and decide in a split second whether to read the article or move on. Need more space? Leverage the first few words that show up in email previews to drive the rest of your message home.

Pick up the phone and call your most important people (clients, vendors, investors, etc.)

We often forget the impact a phone call can have. It cuts through the noise and creates a deep personal connection. Even if you don’t get them on the phone, leave a voicemail to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Take a coffee break.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, emotional or distracted, don’t feel pressured to send something out immediately.

Stop and think: Will my actions harm or offend others? Put the material down and let it marinate while you take a break to work on or enjoy something else. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed and able to tackle it with a fresh perspective. It could be the pause that saves your reputation.

Eden GillottEden Gillott is president of Gillott Communications, a crisis PR and bankruptcy communications firm. She’s the author of A Business Owner’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting You & Your Business’ Reputation. She participates in EO’s Accelerator program in Los Angeles, California and also sits on the EO Accelator Board there.

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An Invitation to Explore and Adopt “Capitalism With Care”

conscious capitalismIs COVID-19 the catapult that will vault us into a new era of Capitalism With Care™?

Kent Gregoire is an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Boston and CEO of Symphony Advantage, which helps CEOs achieve ongoing personal and professional success through strategic thinking, advice and planning.

During the Great Recession of 2008-10, Kent guided dozens of CEOs and their companies successfully through the crisis and positioned them to capitalize on the economic expansion that followed. We asked Kent how embracing conscious capitalism during the COVID-19 crisis can benefit companies both in the short- and long-term. Here’s what he shared:

I invite you―CEOs, entrepreneurs, business leaders―to learn how our collective behavior toward planet Earth played a role in the COVID-19 pandemic. It doesn’t need to be that way, and Capitalism With Care is the most effective business model to both elevate humanity and simultaneously protect our planet. And, did you know that Capitalism With Care can also be quite a profitable proposition?

A few years ago, when I began to understand the impact that humans―especially greedy “crony” capitalists―are having on our planet, I turned to Conscious Capitalism, a movement devoted to elevating humanity though business.

Finding My Tribe in EO

Little did I realize that there was a growing number of entrepreneurs who were already on a journey to elevate humanity, to protect the planet. For years I had been leading companies as a caring capitalist, and I was seeking others who were leading small to mid-sized organizations and following similar tenets. I found my tribe in EO. And, I found additions to my tribe when I attended my first Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit.

Last year, I had the opportunity to work with 180 other EO members on the floor of the United Nations during EO’s International Entrepreneurial Summit to sign a formal Outcomes Declaration that detailed how we committed to “… make the world a better place, through delineating 12 special actions that business leaders can implement to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” In the summer of 2020, we will reconvene and continue that critical work.

Intersecting Crises: COVID-19 and Climate

A growing number of people worldwide understand that the biggest threat to humanity is climate change. As we witness what’s happening across the globe with the COVID-19 crisis, in just a matter of weeks after factories with smoke stacks were shut down and cities on mandatory lockdown grew quiet, we’ve seen the smog lift over China and the dolphins gleefully return to the canals of Venice.

Today, we are dealing with a global crisis that is genuinely frightening. It’s killing thousands of people at an alarming rate, and we’ve yet to establish an effective treatment protocol. We’re told it may be 12 to 18 months before an approved vaccine will be available. Even when it’s approved, will it be safe?

The scariest part to me is that if we don’t take drastic measures to protect our planet, the emergence of complex, never-before-seen viruses and bacteria will continue to plague us. COVID-19 is a warning we must take to heart and learn from. We must act now to take drastic measures to restore and protect our planet for those living now and those yet to come after us.

In an article in The Guardian, UN environment chief, Inger Andersen, said that humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences―and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves.

The article continues: “Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a ‘clear warning shot’, given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was ‘playing with fire’. They said it was almost always human behaviour that caused diseases to spill over into humans.”

The article goes on to illuminate how Coronavirus and other viruses jump from animals to humans—because humans are placing a burden on the planet, destructing natural habitats and driving wildlife into closer contact with people. The time to act isn’t tomorrow, it’s today.

So I ask you: What are you doing to take action to help restore planet Earth? If you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, what is your company doing to elevate humanity through business?

Why I Practice Capitalism With Care

I believe that Capitalism With Care is the most effective way to elevate humanity. Everyone wins when we practice caring capitalism. Ironically, companies that practice the four tenets of Conscious Capitalism―Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Leadership and Conscious Culture―financially outperform their peers, and not just by a few percentage points; often by significantly more.

The Conscious Capitalism website explains it best:

There is a better way to be a capitalist. A way that will create a better world for everyone. A way forward for humankind to liberate the heroic spirit of business and our collective entrepreneurial creativity so we can be free to solve the many challenges we face. Conscious Capitalism provides that path.

Conscious businesses will help evolve our world so that billions of people can flourish, leading lives infused with passion, purpose, love and creativity; a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity, and compassion.

I urge you to use this unexpected downtime in the business environment to explore, query and consider adopting the tenets of conscious capitalism in your business. I’m happy to share my personal experience around Capitalism With Care so we can learn together and support each other.

Won’t you join me? #ConsciousCapitalism #capitalismwithcare #EOimpact

EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts. 

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Top Four Survival Tips for Small Business Owners

small business COVID-19Remember when owning a small business was risky but rewarding? Stressful but satisfying? And then COVID-19 hit.

In the midst of a global pandemic, being responsible for your own business—as well as the livelihoods of your employees—very likely seems overwhelming if not completely debilitating. Nobody said entrepreneurship was easy, but certainly nobody predicted this devastating turn of events.

Every day—perhaps every hour—you feel forced to reset your expectations, your goals and your strategy. Will you survive? How long can you support your team? What does your small business look like six months from now, one year from now?

Here are the top four survival tips for small business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Embrace this era of uncertainty as an opportunity.

American author John Shedd is known for the phrase, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” American president Franklin Roosevelt once said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

These are the times in which ingenuity thrives—particularly among entrepreneurs. As EO CEO Carrie Santos observes, “Entrepreneurs do not catch up on news and wonder how they will face the COVID-19 crisis. Entrepreneurs jump in to offer solutions.”

Before you tackle the problems at hand, take time to reflect on your core purpose. Ask yourself: Are there new ways for you to support your goals? Let go of how you operated last week and consider what might make sense in this new reality.

Around the world and across the street, we are seeing examples of entrepreneurs rethinking their process, their product and their way forward:

Distilleries pivot to make hand sanitizer.
Health care laboratories innovate, collaborate and share findings like never before.
Companies from various industries refocus production to make face masks.

2. Focus on your people.

When you first launched, you concentrated on attracting your ideal clients and hiring good people. And so it remains.

Yes, there may be lay-offs. Your revenue will drop. Now is the time to double down on those valuable star employees and loyal customers.

Prioritize your team’s safety and mental health. Implement new, virtual ways to communicate regularly with your team. Clearly outline your benefits and let them know their options. Informed and engaged employees are empowered and dedicated. Lean on industry peers for creative ways to support your staff and stay informed about the latest laws and resources in your area.

How to take care of your restaurant staff during a health crisis.
• The US Chamber of Commerce shares how organizations might design an on-off furlough plan.
• In the US, the government is allowing states to change their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits.
How to rely on and align your frontline employees.

3. Engage with customers and community.

Don’t neglect the clients, customers and community who help your business thrive. They’re weathering this crisis alongside you, so consider their needs as well.

Provide longstanding customers with exclusive ways to support and engage with your business. Reach out to them through social media platforms to lift their spirits and discover how they’re surviving this difficult time. Rise above the chaos and build goodwill through your communications.

Consider offering gift cards toward future services or investments in upcoming projects. Remember, many people are at home and spending more time online, so be sure your website and social media platforms are ready for primetime. Encourage your clients to post online reviews. If possible, create ways to up your virtual commerce.

Ideas for retaining customers during the coronavirus epidemic.
Health and fitness businesses are finding new ways to deliver their services.
Consider “holding your ground” a good thing during this crisis.

4. Proactively identify sources for financial support.

The greatest challenge to maintaining a small business has always been cash flow. Today is no different—but your sources for relief are changing every day.

Whether you’re seeking access to capital or immediate liquidity, it is imperative to understand the options available to you. Now is the time to engage with policy-makers in your area and advocate for your needs.

While governments work to pass relief packages, you might also look a little closer for help. Unprecedented times demand unprecedented solutions, and now might be the moment to reconsider borrowing from family members or exploring alternative approaches to lending.

Three ways to protect your small business.
Peer-to-peer lending provides an alternative means for loans.
Five steps to secure your business in hard times.
The US Small Business Association provides extensive resources and guidance.
• For EO members, MyEO Deal Exchange has waived its joining fees in order to promote EO member cross-investment.

Purposeful optimism is a must

What we can’t know for certain is how COVID-19 will change the business landscape in the years to come. Here’s what we do know: Entrepreneurs like you were born to weather these storms.

You didn’t choose to start a business because it would be simple or easy going. There is something unique in your very DNA that makes you the very best person to navigate the difficult months ahead.

And, if these last weeks are any indicator, entrepreneurs will be stronger next month and even next year. Yes, you and your business will emerge from this crisis different—but also with more resilience and strength.

EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.

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3 Things Leaders Shouldn’t Do During the COVID-19 Crisis

leadership crisis covidContributed by Amy Power, founder of the PR and social media firm The Power Group

Reputations are won and lost during times of crisis. That’s good news if you are a brand that can step in to solve a piece of the pandemic problem by feeding first responders or creating a program to help hourly workers. But for other organizations, it may not be so obvious. 

It is instinctive for most entrepreneurs to move quickly and rush to speak and act, but you can cause your brand serious harm if you don’t consider these tips.

DON’T ask the wrong question.

If you and your management team are asking yourself, “What should we say? What should we do?” then you are asking yourself the wrong question—which may lead to the wrong actions.

In his book, The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis, author Helio Fred Garcia says the right question to ask in any crisis is, “What would reasonable people appropriately expect a responsible organization or leader to do when facing this kind of situation?”

This is the place to start. When you pose this question to yourself or your management team, you’ll find paths you might not have considered. For example, the answer may be prudent measures to ensure public safety, an apology, a new way of serving customers or something free.

EO members, be sure to check the EO COVID-19 Communications Centre for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together. #EOTogether

DON’T think only about yourself.

You want to protect your company, your employees and your family, but a pay-it-forward mentality may help others who will remember you in the long term.

For example, if you have historically supported animal charities, don’t suddenly abandon them. Maybe this is your moment to do more. Find partners to help you with a special project or find new ways to support your long-standing interests.

Worst of all, DON’T be tone-deaf.

In Frisco, Texas, a homeowners association chided its residents about keeping their lawns trimmed and neat. They made no mention of waiving fines during a time when people are especially sensitive about their economic futures. Residents were quick to negatively comment on NextDoor, an online hub for exchanging helpful neighborhood information, goods and services.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Coylumbridge hotel near Aviemore, part of the Britannia Hotel Group, issued a surprising letter to employees which said: “Taking the latest government advice, this letter is to confirm that with effect from 19 March 2020, your employment has been terminated and your services are no longer required. You are asked to vacate the hotel accommodation immediately, returning any company property.”

Amidst the coronavirus crisis, hourly workers were immediately homeless until another hotel stepped in to help the displaced workers.

These tips serve as valuable reminders of how a brand can lose trust by taking the wrong actions. As this COVID-19 unfolds, there will be more examples. Don’t forget: Your future reputation rests on what actions you take today.  

Amy Power on COVIDAmy Power joined the EO Dallas chapter in 2015. 

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Mental Health Should Be Your Top Priority Right Now. Here’s Why

Dandapani

As COVID-19 devastates nations and businesses, there’s a potential casualty you may not have fullly realized: your mental health. Uncertainty around the health of your family, company and employees can be overwhelming. We asked Dandapani—a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and highly rated speaker for Entrepreneurs’ Organization—how to manage stress and the mental health of your staff during this difficult period. (Dandapani is pictured above, photo by Toby Burrows.)

What is your message to entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis?

Looking after your mental health during this crisis should be every business leader’s No. 1 priority.

Why is it so important? Because if you’re operating from a place of mental chaos, everything around you is going to be in chaos: your relationships, your family and your company.

There are so many critical decisions you need to make about your businesses every day—especially in this time of crisis—and you can’t make those decisions effectively if your mental health is a mess.

How can entrepreneurs manage their stress around the pandemic and its economic fallout?

First, you need to take charge of your awareness. To do so, you need a basic understanding of the mechanics of the mind: Your mind and your awareness are different entities. You can control your awareness.
Your awareness travels to different areas within the mind. The goal is to control where your awareness goes.

The mind itself isn’t bouncing around: It’s that ball of light we call our awareness that bounces from one thing to another to another. The lesson here is that you either choose where your awareness goes, or you essentially give permission to someone else to dictate where your awareness goes.

“If you’re not in charge of your awareness, someone or something else is in charge of it.”

If you’re not in charge of your awareness, someone or something else is in charge of it. It may be your environment, TV news, your spouse, kids or family around you.

Read more about simple ways to cope with anxiety during a crisis.

Why do you believe we need to “choose our news”?

Have you heard the saying that the five people you spend the most time with influence the way you behave?

Then, why would it be any different if you’re spending all day watching TV news? You’re giving them your time and awareness, and they’re influencing you with repetitive words and images.

I spent decades learning to control my awareness—and I’m pretty good at it. But if I were to watch the news all day, I can guarantee you it would start to influence the way I think because they broadcast repetitive words and images that take us to the fear areas of the mind.

My recommendation is to stop watching news on TV. When I want information, I go to the source, such as the World Health Organization. It’s important to get information from authorities on the subject who have your best interest at heart.

Choose your news wisely. If you don’t, it can lead to a downward spiral of fear and anxiety.

How can we protect mental health when we’re directed to stay home?

Keep your energy moving. It’s incredibly important to channel your energy into positive activities and keep it flowing.

Energy is like water. When it’s not moving, it gets stagnant. The longer it stays stagnant, the more it becomes mucky and gross. When you start moving that energy, it improves your mood.

It’s like when you go to a yoga class. Think about how you feel before you go and then afterward. Before, your energy is sluggish. During yoga, you’re stretching out your entire nervous system, allowing the energy to flow smoothly through the body. As a result, you feel energetic and uplifted.

“While you’re at home during this crisis, focus on easy wins to keep your energy moving.”

When my energy is moving, it’s easier to channel it to positive areas of my mind. Like a giant round boulder, when it’s just sitting there, it’s hard to move it. But once it starts moving, it’s easier to redirect and channel it.

While you’re at home during this crisis, focus on easy wins to keep your energy moving. Clean or organize different areas of your house, or find creative projects to get that stagnant energy flowing. Once energy is flowing, channel it into making a plan—whether it’s a financial plan for your business or a mental health plan to keep your whole family uplifted while you’re all at home together.

Go for a run, stretch, do yoga. Clean and organize your closets or pantry. Get that energy moving, or it’s going to stagnate, which leads to depressive thoughts.

How do we support our employees’ mental health?

As EO members and all entrepreneurs who run companies weather this crisis, it’s incredibly important to take care of your mental health and that of your employees. I’m assuming that a lot of EO-member company employees are working from home right now.

One question every EO member can ask themselves is, “What are you doing to ensure that your team members maintain an uplifted mental state?”

This is a key point: All business owners need to look after the mental health of their teams right now. There’s no more crucial action than that. Your company’s success is dependent on your team, and so their mental health is everything. You absolutely cannot compromise on that.

“Your company’s success is dependent on your team, and so their mental health is everything. You absolutely cannot compromise on that.”

If they don’t have an uplifted mental state while they’re working from home, how can they perform professionally in a way that can sustain the business? It’s one thing when we’re all coming to a central office on a daily basis and can check in with and support each other.

But now your troops are all in their tents. You need to implement a plan to ensure their mental health. Most importantly: Empower them with tools in how to deal with this. Encourage your team members to channel their energy and make progress in some area of their lives every day. Don’t make it complicated. You don’t have to organize virtual yoga or host unwieldy video conferences.

Consider the long term. Eventually this crisis will blow over. What will be the condition of your employees coming back to your office if you do nothing now to support their mental health?

You don’t want a team that’s broken. When they reunite and get back to business, employees need to be able to pick up where they left off and move forward—at their very best.

EO members, be sure to check the EO COVID-19 Communications Centre for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together. #EOTogether

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COVID-19 Coverage That Delivers Counsel and Comfort

covid-19 media coverage

With so much—not always accurate—information available online, we’re weighing in with 10 articles related to COVID-19 certain to inform and inspire. 

1. COVID-19 Facts Versus Fiction

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets out to debunk some of the top myths surrounding the novel coronavirus—including whether or not the virus can affect young people. 

2. WHO Answers FAQs

Let this compilation of common questions about coronovirus guide and reassure you. 

3. COVID-19 Supply List

Wired magazine delivers a list of gear you and your kids will need to stay safe (and sane) during quarantine

4. A Dose of Feline Levity 

If you agree that it’s important to stay laughing during times of stress, check out these tips on quarantine from a cat.  

5. Astronauts Answer: How to Handle Isolation

Retired astronauts Peggy Whitson and Scott Kelly share lessons on isolation learned in space. 

6. Quarantining With Kids? 

Here’s how a mother of two in Hong Kong reimagined the time home as an opportunity to bond with her children. Plus, tips on entertaining your children

7. The Ultimate Round-Up of Work-from-Home Tips

Business Insider provides a comprehensive list of how to live your best life during quarantine. 

8. How to Care for Your Mental Health During Crisis

Social distancing, quarantine and isolation—they can wreak havoc on your mental wellbeing. Explore ways to support your behavioral health. 

9. 10 Ways Leaders Can Rise to the Challenge During Times of Crisis

Winnie Hart, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Texas, shares how leaders can make something good when it seems impossible.

10. Laughter Remains the Best Medicine for this COVID-19 Patient 

In Israel, comedians prescribe laughter with a side of chutzpa for coronavirus

EO members, be sure to check the EO COVID-19 Communications Centre for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together. #EOTogether

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