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How to Stay Financially Afloat During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Brian Kantor

If you’ve found yourself furloughed or unemployed due to COVID-19, or if your startup, small business, or side hustle trajectory has taken a harsh 180 in this new stay-at-home economy, this article is for you.

As the founder of Pour My Party, I am always interacting with current and potential vendors and partners as I work to grow our business. Not surprisingly, I’ve gotten tons of messages and bounce backs alerting me that my contact is no longer there or has been temporarily relieved of their duties. In many cases, I’m actually getting proactive notes from people asking if I’ve heard of any job openings or if I know anyone looking for a temp.

When these calls, notes, and messages began piling up, it got me thinking. What would I do if I needed to make a little extra money before feeling like I had to turn to Amazon for a warehouse gig (a noble, yet dangerous, role in this era of perpetual viral transmission)?

As one question led to another, I realized that this back-and-forth seemed pretty common and tough to sort through. As such, I’ve assembled this article in a decision tree format to help people take stock of their current situation and make moves accordingly.

Opening question: What industry are you in?

Before you start going through the process of actually looking for work, it’s important to realize that organizations within many industries that depend on hourly employees have set up funds to help support those amazing people.

While many of our day-to-day clients/partners are the business owners themselves, my company still relies heavily on the spirits and hospitality industry as a whole. As the hourly employees of those businesses are crucial to their success, they’re also indirectly critical to ours as well.

Along these lines, if you or someone you know has been downsized in one of these industries, there may be free money available to help soften the blow. There is absolutely no shame in applying for help. Eater has put together a comprehensive list for the hospitality industry, and has put together a similar list specifically for bartenders. (Note: If you depend on the bar and restaurant industry—aka, if you’re someone who has ever had a drink at a bar or eaten at a restaurant—and have the means to help, please consider donating.)

While we’re on the subject of asking for help, if you own one of these businesses, or any small business for that matter, Leslie Nilsson, the founder of Brooklyn caterer Bartleby & Sage, has put together a helpful resource of grants and loans available, as well as the stipulations surrounding them.

If you’re in any other industry and no longer gainfully employed, your first step should be Googling whether there is any sort of financial assistance available to you. Again, since it bears repeating, there is no shame in taking a handout in times of need. Let this inspire you to lend a helping hand when your pockets are full.

After you’ve identified whether or not there is any “free money” available, take another hard look at your industry and ask yourself …

Plan A: Is this industry as a whole still viable?

If the answer is yes, then think about (or Google) what parts of that industry are still seeing success in the current economy. When you find those answers, figure out if you can sidestep into another part of your industry.

For example, if you’re a caterer and usually create amazing food for events, can you leverage your existing kitchen in a new way? Perhaps you could pivot to a delivery-first model and essentially become a “ghost kitchen” with no storefront.

If you have a shop that crafts bespoke suiting, can you transition into making facemasks and selling them online? If you’re a personal trainer, can you set up video sessions or classes?

Plan B: If your whole industry has been cut off, then look to your broader skill set for inspiration

In other words, ask yourself what skills you have that can be leveraged elsewhere. If you’re in sales, for example, can you sell something else?

Maybe your experience is in selling cars. Since few Americans are upgrading their minivans this year, but a ton of hospitals are buying PPE, perhaps you can start selling swabs to hospitals and municipalities.

Can you become a freelancer?

If you previously were a staff web designer for a media company that downsized, can you freelance in web design for another company or business in another industry? Sites like Fiverr and Upwork are great places to flaunt your skills to those in need of freelance help.

Can you become a consultant?

Maybe you’re a remote employee and have quickly become an expert at incorporating Zoom and Webex into a productive workflow. Can you consult for a brick-and-mortar business transitioning into remote work best practices?

Maybe you’re an associate brewer at a craft brewery that was forced to close its doors due to your state’s specific social-distancing guidelines. Can you consult for a brewery in another state with different regulations? Can you consult for a couple of founders looking to launch a brand new brewery in the next few years?

Can you teach a class/course?

Virtual learning is hardly new, but now that people are staying home much more than they were pre-COVID, their available time to learn a new skill or to hone one they already have has gone way up.

If your career skills, or even your hobbies, are things that others may want to learn, this could be an amazing way to not just offset a COVID-19 furlough, but also to build long-term passive income.

Some of the more popular programs are Thinkific, Thrive, Teachable, and Podia. All have their pros and cons, and this article from Learning Revolution helps to break down all you need to know on these and others in the space.

Plan C: Explore unskilled remote work opportunities

If you don’t have the skills or patience to freelance, become a consultant, or teach an online course, does that mean you’re out of luck? Not so fast.

While the corona economy has obviously crushed tons of jobs, it has also created quite a few new ones and expanded others, all of which will ultimately need to be filled by someone. Why not you?

Related Articles:

Financial Help for Freelancers and Independent Contractors Affected by the Coronavirus Crisis
Where’s the Money? The Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions About CARES Act Loans
Small Business Relief: COVID-19 Resources for Startups
Newly Available CARES Act Loans: 10 Things Small Businesses Need to Know

Call centers and customer service

Not only are call centers for healthcare facilities getting overrun by people trying to schedule COVID-19 testing, but also financial institutions are seeing an influx of people trying to delay or renegotiate mortgage payments, and technology services are getting overrun by people trying to renegotiate existing contracts or set up new accounts. Broadly speaking, call centers and customer service roles across the board are certainly in increasing demand.

Take Zoom, for example. While they may not have really ballooned from 10 million users pre-COVID-19 to 300 million today as they had initially reported, they’ve still seen tremendous growth. To handle that tremendous growth and the technical issues sure to arise from that growth, someone is going to need to man the phones, right?

CNBC assembled a solid list of 18 companies hiring remote workers during the pandemic. Note that this list includes a mix of both skilled and unskilled positions. Don’t let the exact open positions listed here dissuade you from clicking through just because you’re not qualified for those specific roles. Many of these, including Amazon, are hiring unskilled call-center employees as well. Click through each for up-to-date availability.

COVID contact tracing

This is a perfect example of a job that didn’t exist before the pandemic, but that has rapidly found relevance, and will be in need of a sizable workforce almost immediately.

As Americans begin returning to work slowly but surely in the coming weeks, a critical requirement in keeping potential future mass outbreaks low is by keeping a close eye on the clusters of people surrounding new positive cases. As such, state and local governments will be hiring contact tracers to work with COVID-19 patients to help them recall where they’ve been and who they’ve come in contact with so that other people who may have been infected can be notified and encouraged to self-quarantine.

According to Business Insider, the Fund for Public Health in New York City is offering a $57,000 salary with benefits for contact tracers. Not a bad deal at all.

Last resort: When all else fails, become an “essential worker”

First, let me start this off by saying that including this here is in no way intended to minimize the hard work and bravery displayed by existing warehouse workers or delivery drivers. It’s their courage that has people from cities across the country cheering from their windows to honor these folks.

What I am suggesting, however, is that warehousing and delivery jobs often do not need specialized education and are certainly in demand right now.

Amazon announced in April it was hiring 175,000 warehouse jobs to handle the surge in orders from its platform. If you have a college degree and don’t feel like you’re up to the challenge of running the floor, someone is going to need to manage these new employees and handle associated operations. This massive new workforce should ripple positively (from a hiring perspective at least) across the organization.

And it’s not just Amazon.

This single FedEx warehouse in California announced in early April that they’d be hiring 600 new employees to handle increased demand due to coronavirus. According to its own website, FedEx Ground has approximately 600 facilities in the United States, as well as 39 regional hubs. That math displays the potential for a ton of jobs.

Stay strong

Our world is upside down. Many of us have either lost our job or have been forced to scale back the businesses we own. It’s tough. While our current situation can seem overwhelming, it is not impossible to get back on our feet.

If we take a marked, measured approach to evaluating our strengths and situational details, we can formulate a game plan that starts with the “best” opportunities and one-at-a-time moves us closer towards those areas of last resort until we find something that works. Ultimately, even these last resorts will still put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.

Stay strong, stay proud, stay spirited. Brighter days are ahead. We got this!


RELATED: Laid Off? 10 Lessons I Learned From My Job Search

About the Author

Post by: Brian Kantor

Brian Kantor is a creative entrepreneur always looking for new, enriching experiences. He has launched three startups: Pour My Party, UPlanMe and Gimme Dat Beet. His corporate background lies primarily in digital marketing and ad sales with stints at Rolling Stone, BlackBook, and Hearst Media. He is also a novice real estate investor. Brian is offering free 30-minute coronavirus consultations with small business owners to help navigate this new normal and uncover potential new avenues for success. Schedule 30 minutes directly on his calendar here, and feel free to email him with any questions at hello at pourmyparty dot com.

Company: Pour My Party
Connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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