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Many small businesses have not yet seen their revenue return to pre-pandemic levels. And supply chain issues and staffing shortages are only exacerbating the situation. According to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Banks, 85% of small businesses experienced financial challenges in the past year.
The survey, which was conducted from September through November 2021, asked 11,000 small businesses about Covid-19’s continued impact on their companies and the workforce challenges they’ve been experiencing. Respondents were also asked about business performance, financing needs and borrowing experiences. Some 77% of surveyed firms said the pandemic was continuing to have a negative impact on their business, though 66% had received pandemic-related financial assistance in 2021, down from 87% the year prior. As one might expect, the data shows that the pandemic has disproportionately affected firms in the leisure and hospitality sector, as well as those that are smaller and those owned by people of color. As Forbes Contributor Rohit Arora writesmaking financing available to businesses owned by people from underrepresented communities is crucial to their survival.
It’s not all bleak though. The Biden administration and SBA have prioritized helping Black women-owned businesses. SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman recently announced 10 new grant opportunities worth $1.5 million for private, nonprofit organizations to provide entrepreneurial development services to women, especially those from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
More good news: Small business lending is steadily improvingSlowly. The pandemic has also accelerated the shift to digital lending, and more small business owners are now comfortable with borrowing or applying for credit online.
The past two years have been horrific for the movie theater business—unless you’re Mitch Roberts. While most venues remained shut, he expanded, transforming a mundane trip to the movies into Evo Entertainment’s memorable mix of bowling, arcade games, comfort food and booze. Roberts—a fourth-generation movie theater entrepreneur—is a member of this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 class.
Key quote: “We live in an experience economy. People crave experiences. They want to get together.” —Mitch Roberts, Founder, EVO Entertainment Group
Must-Reads Across Forbes
Going green: As legalization spreads, are opening unlicensed entrepreneurs dispensaries in the Big Apple and other cities to establish a business before corporate cannabis descends. Here’s a look inside the battle for billions in marijuana’s gray market.
NewView Capital, which was founded by NEA veteran Ravi Viswanathan, has raised $2 billion in three years to buy individual and basket portfolio positions from other VC firms. Established in 2018, the company looks to build positions in startups by buying out other VC firms—either a portfolio of their holdings, or taking some or all of an investment à la carte. Viswanathan has two new funds worth a combined $544 million in new capital to do it.
It’s a tough technical challenge to pick up individual items in a warehouse. RightHand Robotics’ advantage: CEO Yaro Tenzer, a Harvard robotics postdoc, and his cofounders had won a Darpa challenge with their gripper before founding the company. The business, which offers piece-picking technology to fulfill orders, has raised $66 million to ramp up its product development and globally.
Entrepreneurship can be daunting when you don’t know where to start. It’s important to create a plan of action and not let the naysayers get you down. These tips will help aspiring entrepreneurs pave their own paths to success.
Founded in 2015 by Kim Folsom, Founders First Capital Partners aims to help small businesses led by diverse and disadvantaged business owners located in low to moderate income areas less connected to the traditional funding networks of Silicon Valley and New York City. The San Diego-based firm combines an accelerator model and direct funding to enable small businesses to grow and scale.