As the novel coronavirus pandemic rages on, small business owners everywhere are searching for help in keeping their businesses afloat as government-mandated stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures threaten to overwhelm them.
Lew Visscher, the founder and CEO of Lew’s List, Inc., is just one person among many dedicated to providing aid to struggling businesses during this tough time.
Lew’s List is an email list of over 11,000 finance and accounting professionals based in Colorado, intended to help members there seek job opportunities. The company recently partnered with High Plains Advisors, Foundry Group, Headfarmer, Keyser and Spencer Fane among others to create the Arizona COVID-19 Finance Assistance Network (AZ FAN).
AZ FAN’s objective is to rally volunteers who are willing to provide aid to small business owners who have questions regarding the current economic situation caused by the pandemic.
After approximately three weeks of focusing on helping small businesses in Colorado, Lew’s List has already gathered 100 volunteers helping 200 companies. Visscher said he hopes to continue to have the same success as he begins work in Arizona with AZ FAN.
“I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a small business that doesn’t have the resources to help them walk through and do some of that planning and strategy, and deal with the Paycheck Protection Program loans and the complexity of the CARES Act,” Visscher said.
Most large, multi-million-dollar companies, Visscher said, have dedicated financial experts and consultants that are in charge of keeping the company afloat, finance-wise. These essential resources are often lacked by small businesses, which can make it difficult for them to survive dire economic situations.
“All of a sudden you look at what your situation is and you say, I’ve got 30 days worth of cash left and I don’t know when I’m going to get open again. How do I navigate through this ordeal with this? And that’s what we try to help them figure out,” Visscher said.
To apply to receive help from AZ FAN’s volunteer network, business owners need to fill out the application where they explain their business model and outline which areas they are struggling with as they survive the pandemic. Within 24-48 hours of applying, business owners should expect to receive a phone call from a volunteer.
Some of the areas that AZ FAN is focused on is improving business cash flow, navigating complicated federal assistance programs, assisting with human capital and tax planning issues and essentially “figuring out how to plan for the worst,” Visscher said.
“What we’re trying to do is help them survive,” Visscher said. “It’s really to give back to the communities that we love and live in.”
Perhaps one of the most important factors of AZ FAN is that the financial assistance it provides is all available to business owners completely free of charge. Visscher said he felt it was his duty to serve his community in this way.
Visscher said he would like to expand his network of assistance to other states in the future as the pandemic continues to ravage the economy across America.