Small businesses and entrepreneurs have suffered heavily during the COVID-19 public health emergency. While the pandemic has sent shockwaves across all industries, the small business community has been especially hard hit.
In a paper entitled “The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Business Owners: The First Three Months after Social-Distancing Restrictions,” University of California at Santa Cruz professor Robert W. Fairlie lays out the magnitude of the virus’ impact on U.S. small businesses. During this time period, the number of small business owners dropped by 3.3 million – a full 22 percent – from February to April. Minority business owners were particularly hard hit, according to Fairlie, with African American business owners seeing a 41 percent business drop, Latinx business owners seeing a 32 percent drop, Asian business owners seeing a 26 percent drop and female business owners seeing a 25 percent drop.
There has been a regrowth in small business following the first months of the pandemic. “Over the past two decades, the number of active business owners in the United States has shown a relatively smooth pattern over time with a slight upward trend. What is clear, however, is the dramatic drop in the number of active business owners in April 2020 and the partial rebound in May and continuing rebound in June,” Fairlie writes.
One entrepreneur-focused organization is working to give small business owners and entrepreneurs a leg up in rebuilding their businesses.
Communities Unlimited is launching its first-ever virtual business pitch contest, which is designed to assist small business owners in select Southern states. Entrepreneurs Unlimited: A Pitch Contest is open to business owners in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. The pitch contest is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, held from Nov. 12-18.
Entrepreneurs are invited to pitch their idea for pivoting their business or their idea for a startup. The pitches should address how business owners can adjust to the pandemic’s economic impact, providing a detailed plan on how the business will be started or grown.
Participants will be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes. The first prize winner will receive $3,000, the second prize winner will receive $2,000, and the audience favorite will receive $1,000.
The first 50 businesses to enter the pitch contest will receive one domain name and website from GoDaddy for a year
Pitches will be videoed and can be no longer than two minutes. The deadline for submission is Sunday, Oct. 25 at midnight (CST).
Contest officials will notify the top 15 businesses on Monday, Nov. 2. There will be a live event on Monday, Nov. 16 that business owners must attend in order to be eligible to win.