Coming together [virtually] for the common good

March 16, 2020
min read

GC invests in powerful positive change that endures — for our entrepreneurs, our investors, our people, and society. To that end, we firmly believe that the private sector needs to take a more proactive role in making a difference during this crisis. On Saturday evening, I partnered with Rachel Carlson, co-founder and CEO of GC-backed Guild Education, to play a role in a grassroots effort starting with the venture and tech communities to #stopthespread of COVID-19.

Over the last 48 hours, we’ve received strong support from 1,200+ business, civic, and government leaders and celebrities who have joined us in this effort and are engaged and committed to #stopthespread. Together, we will help ensure that the country is aware that all of us can lead directly as individuals and change the trajectory of this virus.

Taking care of ourselves and each other has never been so important. Unfortunately, our social fabric has been frayed for quite some time now. Further, COVID-19 requires physical separation, which only compounds feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disempowerment. While it is necessary that we continue to maintain social distancing in the physical sense, coming together virtually as a community and using our voices for the common good to make a difference is both appropriate and critical.

To that end, our focus now for those who have committed to #stopthespread and #leadboldly is to work together as leaders to understand and engage on critical planning to support our communities and the small businesses that serve them, which have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 over these last several weeks. All of us are in a strong position individually and collectively to play a role and make a difference.

Together as leaders, we can use our balance sheets to ensure these small businesses remain a vibrant part of our communities and economy. By keeping small businesses alive and well, we in turn ensure that they can continue to pay their employees, serve the communities that rely upon them, and contribute to the supply chain that is critical to the success of many of our companies and the economy overall.

Some initial ideas include:

1. The supply chain and small businesses

1. The supply chain relies on small businesses. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses are suffering and will not survive the impact of COVID-19 without our help. One thing we can do as business leaders is pay these businesses more quickly for their products and services to ensure that they are around for the long-term.

  • Any well capitalized company should implement a “quick pay” function to pay their invoices to small businesses faster (circumventing the normal billing cycle, which ranges from 30 to 45 days).
  • This will help meet the critical cash flow needs of these small supply chain businesses that are critical to your success.
2. Small businesses as customers

2. If small businesses are your customers, extend your payment terms and provide flexibility.

  • For banks and financial services companies, give these small businesses reprieve on their accrued interest.
  • For real estate companies, consider extending the due date for rent.
  • Any well capitalized company should stop charging interest on outstanding balances.
3. Supporting local small businesses

3. Support your local small businesses with your wallet and your expertise.

  • Create a Shop Small campaign for small business e-commerce.
  • For local small businesses who are online, give them your business.
  • Provide technical support to help local retailers become online capable if they are not already. This is a place where the tech community can lead and might be able to provide something turnkey which would be tremendously impactful for both communities and small businesses.
  • Pre-order goods, buy gift certificates, and gift cards by phone from small businesses that are unable to transact online.
4. Replacing “dining in”

4. Given that people will no longer be “dining in” in many cities, online delivery and takeout will play an important role in our communities. Developing best practices for small businesses for curb-side pickups and delivery AND providing COVID-19 safety principles for any food delivery services are critical.

  • Our grocery stores are not prepared to serve the entire population. Curb-side delivery and pickups are playing an important role in feeding communities. That said, we need to ensure that the businesses and individuals who are leading these efforts are taking every precaution to ensure their own safety and the safety of the communities they are serving.
  • Establishing best practices and safety principles in this growing area is another place for the tech community to lead and make a difference.

At a later point, we’ll work together to determine what we can do to help large companies impacted by COVID-19, but right now, small businesses need our immediate focus and support.

If you are interested in contributing to any of these efforts, or simply and powerfully lending your voice to the existing pledge to #stopthespread, we would be thrilled for you to join us. These are difficult times; coming together to solve issues that benefit all of us as a society is meaningful and timely work.

Be safe and be well,

Ken Chenault & Team GC