How to stay in business during Coronavirus for small businesses, restaurants, local shops and bakeries.




We know you’re reading articles and trying to find actual solutions on how to proceed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown.  While local chambers of commerce and SBA offer some insights, nobody gives you actual directions or even answers on what to do next. We want all of us to make it through this and come out more experienced and stronger.

The reality is that the restaurants, small local shops and all public gathering places are not going to be able to operate in the near future.  While we all hope it is just a period of few weeks, you need to prepare for more. Things we will touch on are: employees, funds and cash flow, online operations and marketing through pandemic.

Your Employees

We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep your employees working. They were there for you before the shutdown and they will gladly stand by you once this crises passes.  We understand that it’s not easy while you fear you won’t have enough funds to make it through the next few weeks. Below steps should help you with that, and here are the things you need to consider.

How many employees can I realistically keep on a payroll for the next 30 days?
While we cannot do this math for you, we will give you tools to continue your sales throughout this period in order to allow everyone to work.

Reduce the amount of days rather than terminate. 
A reduced income is a lot better than no income at all. Think about families and their most basic needs.

Assign other tasks.
Due to the reduced volume of customers, not all employees will be involved in  direct operations.  Task them with helping to organize, remodel the interior, getting your business converted to online sales, or task them with deliveries.


While this is the biggest concern for nearly all small business owners, here are things you can do today.

Business Grants
Your local government will be or already is offering grants to small businesses. This is very fluid and changing very fast. Visit your local state resource to take advantage of this offering.

Facebook is offering $100M in grants to small businesses.  Click here to sign up for alerts about this program.

Tax day has officially been moved to July 15th. If you were saving money to pay the IRS – use that money now and delay your payment.  This is to help you with cash-flow today.  If you were expecting a return, file today and use that as operational cash.

SBA Loans
If your small business is struggling during these uncertain times, consider applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. Two particular loans will be available and may apply to your business: SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Tradtional SBA Loan.


If you thought only big businesses can afford online stores and digital sales, it’s time change that mentality.  Today, more than ever, you have to adapt your business to online sales.  We know this is a big, and often expensive step. While today the sales are down and people are not willing to spend money on takeout and retail as they normally would, this will change.  After cooking three meals a day for their kids each day, people will come to the point where they are ready for a change and a touch of normality.

Where to start? There any many online services where you can build your own site. We know this often seems like an enormous challenge, as you are not a web designer, just like we are not a thin crust pizza experts.  But we are great at helping small businesses. We can and will help you. Watching what is happening around the globe, we have decided to make it as easy as possible for you to start selling online.  Contact us with a note of what your needs are. This will keep our extremely talented designers busy, while allowing us to do something good for our fellow small businesses. At this point all we have is the know-how and we are ready to use it to help others.

  • If you are a small retail business, bakery, cafe, restaurant or a farmer that needs immediate help getting online and be able to continue your sales via ecommerce,  fill out THIS FORM.


It’s not the time to come up with a new marketing campaign to boost your sales.   This is a time when PR matters. Most of all, you don’t have to spend extra to advertise right now.  There will come a time for it and when the public is ready.

If you are planning to continue to use social media, use it to communicate with your customers about your operations, about the precautions you and your team are taking to assure public safety. If you own a small restaurant and just added delivery, curbside pickup or online sales as a service to continue to serve your clients, be sure to talk about it in a positive way.

With all of the social media feeds being flooded with fearful messages and statistics, focus only on the facts and things that may help your clients make it through this difficult time. Understand your clients’ state of mind and their readiness to consume any brand advertising.

If you are currently using Google Ads to promote your business, watch your activity.  It might be best to pause it for a week or two.  People are not searching Google the way they have been a few weeks ago.  They are focused on news and your advertising dollars are not best spent.

Right now we are advising our clients to hold off on spending in most industries and markets. Focus on investing in-long term solutions and digital strategies that will help your business in a long run.


Lion Tree Group is a local advertising agency and a design house located in Madison, Wisconsin. Our tried-and-true approach helps clients Get Their Lion’s Share via our personalized marketing and advertising strategies. We focus on getting the most of your marketing budget, while keeping your cost per lead down. We create brands, experiences, and messages through graphic design for our clients because powerful brands don’t happen by accident.

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