Sacramento is home to vast numbers of small businesses, the target of a new set of webinars presented by the University. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep)
By Cynthia Hubert
As restaurants, stores, offices and other businesses across the region slowly begin to open their doors again, Sacramento State experts are offering them information and resources for surviving the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The College of Business Administration is collaborating with the U.S. Small Business Administration on a series of free webinars for companies and nonprofit groups that have been upended by the COVID-19 crisis.
The series offers practical insights from Sac State business professors, SBA specialists and others about financial resources and best practices and strategies for recovering from the effects of the coronavirus, which has shuttered most businesses since March.
Topics to be covered during the next seven weeks include the impact of the pandemic on data and network security, tax implications of COVID-19 for businesses, how companies can safely open their doors again, marketing lessons from the pandemic, and tools for planning for the next crisis.
“Crises tend to cut across different functions of businesses,” said Ryan Fuller, an assistant professor of Management and Organizations at Sac State who helped launch the webinar project. “We really wanted the webinars to be practical, and to cover a variety of angles and disciplines.
"We’re trying to be responsive to the present needs of small businesses and nonprofits.”
Their current needs, he said, are unprecedented. Plexiglas barriers and social distancing are just the beginning. For example, businesses have new technology risks and data challenges now that more people are working remotely. Rules for filing and paying taxes have changed. Marketing strategies are increasingly important.
“It’s complicated,” Fuller said. “Our normal way of being and of doing business is a thing of the past. We have old habits that we will need to change in order to keep everyone safe. It really is a paradigm shift, and we all have to be open to changes.
“Our goal is to do some public education and offer some hope,” he said. “I want business owners and nonprofit leaders to feel as though there are answers out there to address the crisis, and to view the University as a resource.”
The webinars could also be used as teaching tools for faculty members, he said.
According to the California Budget & Policy Center, the businesses most seriously affected by the state’s economic shutdown include leisure and hospitality industries such as hotels, bars and restaurants; retailers; and personal care services such as hair and nail salons. But nearly all businesses have suffered.
A recent study led by Fuller found that nonprofits in the Sacramento region have been battered by the crisis, with nearly 70 percent saying they have curtailed operations and a majority of respondents estimating they would be unable to survive more than six months under current conditions.
The webinar project is an example of how the U.S. Small Business Administration, which offers small-business loans, federal contracting certifications, and technical-assistance resources, collaborates with organizations in the region, said Janelle Green, a lead economic development specialist in the federal agency’s district office. The office has recently partnered with organizations including the Better Business Bureau and United Way, she said.
“We want to support partners that have missions similar to ours,” Green said. “We’re excited about how Sac State is trying to engage the community in its role as an anchor university. Together, we can get the word out and effectively reach small businesses in the region.”
The webinars will help area businesses “be better informed and more successful in navigating the current challenges, and more aware of the resources available to them,” Green said.
The first session, launched Wednesday, June 10, features Joseph Taylor, chair of Sac State CBA’s Information Systems and Analytics department. Taylor discusses how to manage technology risks and address data and network security challenges during the pandemic. Green provides an overview of federal programs and services, including COVID-19 assistance, standard SBA loan programs and other resources offered by the agency.
Green is a contributor in all seven weekly sessions. Participants can ask questions at the conclusion of each webinar.
Other speakers include Selvi Stanislaus, executive officer of the California Franchise Tax Board and a faculty member in CBA’s accounting department; and Cameron Law, executive director of Sac State’s Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.