It was a risk, transitioning from software executive to small business entrepreneur and fitness coach. But Brian Keaton of 30 Minute Hit Seattle – Capitol Hill knew it was a risk worth taking. He spent months constructing his ideal gym on East Madison, then hired and trained his dream staff from the neighborhood.
30 Minute Hit’s opening day was Dec. 18, 2019. In the two months that followed, the gym saw a steady stream of new clients eager to take advantage of the free trial. Business was booming, with many trials turning into memberships and a community of engaged kickboxers developing.
And then the pandemic hit. By mid-March, nobody was coming in. By the time the state’s stay-at-home order was enacted on March 23, the gym had closed entirely.
What followed was weeks of navigating services and funding opportunities to stay afloat. Keaton called his landlord and creditors. Comcast waived his next month’s bill. His landlord negotiated a plan. Keaton applied for stabilization funds from Seattle’s Office of Economic Development but wasn’t one of the 250 selected from the 9,000 who applied. He was one of the lucky few to secure small EIDL and PPP loans. Even still, Keaton isn’t certain his business can survive.
30-Minute Hit’s predicament is just one example of the dire situation facing so many of our local businesses. Social distancing is critical for slowing the spread of the virus, and we support the public health guidelines released by our state’s government officials. However, we also take very seriously the impact that an effective full stop of the entire economy is having on small businesses.
It is historically unprecedented for every commercial sector, worldwide, to be impacted on this scale. As Washington State’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce representing more than 1,400 small business, corporate, and nonprofit members, the GSBA is working to connect local businesses with desperately needed financial, operational, and healthcare resources.
We don’t have all the answers, but we know the road ahead starts with small steps in a new direction. That is why we continue to reach out daily to as many members as possible, to find out what we can do to help them move towards recovery and reintegration of their business into the post-coronavirus economy.
This insight informs our dialed-in focus on a selection of immediate action items to support local small businesses. The GSBA is coordinating with stakeholders to provide current information on our state’s response to coronavirus and available business resources. We are actively advocating for financial relief from the city, state, and federal government.
We have created a GSBA Small Business Emergency Resources guide outlining what financial options are available. This page is regularly updated with financial relief options for employers and employees, public health information, and event changes. We’ve developed new programs that provide value to small businesses, like our weekly Rapid Response webinar series which features live Q&A with experts on a variety of topics.
As our small businesses face an existential crisis, many struggle to pay dues to organizations like GSBA. Thanks to our corporate partners, such as Comcast in Washington state, we are able to alleviate some financial barriers for many small businesses and nonprofits in our region. Comcast’s sponsorship ensures that GSBA is able to double down on our work exactly when our help is most needed.
This pandemic will not last forever and together we can rebuild. Many of our members are looking ahead towards adjusting to the “next normal” and we’re walking that path alongside them. Our community is resilient; we have weathered rough times before. Together, we will prevail.