If your business was not fully prepared to deal with the extraordinary challenges posed by COVID-19, you were not alone.

Results from the recently released NH Small Business Development Center (SBDC) survey of businesses in New Hampshire showed that fewer than 1 in 5 respondents had the proper planning to get through the economic stress caused by the pandemic and be in a position to bounce back.

What is clear from the 2020 Business Resiliency Survey, completed in June and conducted on behalf of the SBDC by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, was that planning for disaster is no longer optional.

Of the 1,549 participants from 172 towns and cities, 73 percent said there is a clear need for resiliency planning in the future. The SBDC has responded by teaming with UNH Extension to introduce the Resiliency Academy, which will kick off this fall with Planning for Resiliency, a free webinar on October 21 and October 27.

The webinars are the first of a series of educational components the Resiliency Academy will offer for small businesses, community leaders and volunteers, municipal officials, economic development professionals and those interested in the economic recovery and future planning of their business base and community.

The Resiliency Academy will also be introducing full-day training sessions in the spring of 2021. Additionally, businesses participating in the program will immediately be paired with an advisor to start the planning process.

“The goal of the Resiliency Academy is to better connect communities and the businesses they support to strengthen everyone’s ability to deal with such misfortune and turn economic recovery into economic growth,” says Liz Gray, state director for NH SBDC.

Just as the success of a new business hinges on a solid business plan, any business needs a resiliency plan to sustain success. Unexpected disruptions will happen; how quickly a business recovers could depend on the planning done in advance.

NH SBDC and UNH Cooperative Extension are helping business owners assess risks and make contingency plans that can help them recover from the immediate threat as well as the disruptions that could continue over weeks or months.

“Resiliency planning, quite simply, is making sure you have a plan in place when that moment of change comes,” Gray says. “Resilience is the ability to adapt quickly to a potentially damaging change, no matter how catastrophic, and not lose everything you have worked for.”

yellow bucket with wildflowers

COVID-19 has served as a harsh awakening for businesses. The ones prepared to adapt were able to tread water and even thrived. Others struggled, some falling by the wayside.

The online review site Yelp recently reported that 60 percent of the United States businesses that closed during the pandemic have permanently shuttered. The analysis was based on 163,735 businesses that self-recorded closures in the Yelp app.

In New Hampshire, the 2020 Business Resiliency Survey revealed that revenues for almost half of the businesses responding fell by more than 50 percent. 43 percent have fewer employees than they did in February, leading to an unemployment rate in New Hampshire that topped out at a record high of 17.1 percent in April.

“That was startling, but we don’t need a pandemic for different sectors to suffer unexpected downturns in business,” Gray says. “We are giving New Hampshire small businesses the tools they need to plan, prepare and become more resilient.”

For those prepared, new opportunities may await. A survey by Deloitte and Fortune of more than 140 CEOs around the country revealed that 77 percent think the pandemic created new opportunities to pursue for their businesses.

For more information about the Resiliency Academy or to register for an upcoming Resiliency Academy webinar, visit the NH SBDC website. Please contact Casey Porter at Casey.Porter@unh.edu or Christine Wolczko at Christine.Wolczko@unh.edu with any questions you may have.