Small Businesses, Big Impact

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By Kelsey Marasigan, STAFF WRITER
Many Americans are struggling to make ends meet over the last year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the year 2020 has seen a surge in small businesses as some saw an opportunity to take matters into their own hands. Students, photographers, nurses, recent graduates and so many others started the venture of owning a small business.

According to Oberlo.com, an educational website aimed to help out small businesses, reported the number of small businesses in the United States reached over 31.7 million in 2020, which makes up about 99.9 percent of U.S. businesses.

One local small business used their mandatory stay-at-home order to their advantage to slow down their fast growing business. Eduardo and Danielle Gonzalez, two California State University, East Bay alumnus, quit both their jobs and started their business, LemonAd Media, in the beginning of 2019.

Their business is a digital content company that specializes in visual storytelling for other small businesses, lifestyle brands, and local restaurants. For the year leading up to the 2020 shutdown, their business was thriving in their industry. Being booked constantly was even starting to catch up with them.

“We were taking clients non-stop,” Danielle Gonzalezes said in an interview. “Back before the pandemic hit the economy was flourishing, I mean people had money to spend and they wanted to spend it on good quality content.”

The first few months of the pandemic, the Gonzalezes finally had time to slow down and reevaluate their business. Then the reality hit that the pandemic wasn’t going to be ending quickly and desperation set in.

LemonAd started taking clients again in the fall of 2020 with strict social distancing guidelines in place. Since reopening, their business has seen growth in revenue since opening again and are no longer in their previous financial situation.

22 million Americans lost their jobs within the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to CNBC. The unemployment rate reached more than 14 percent by April 2020. Today, the unemployment rate decreased to about six percent which is still double of what the rate was in Jan. 2020.

One CSUEB student was one of those who lost their job, only in her case, she lost all three of her jobs. As a full-time student, Maggie Del Grande was constantly busy with work and school before the pandemic hit. With no source of income and new free time, she picked up an old hobby of tie-dying clothes and people took notice.

Midway through 2020, Del Grande started selling the clothes she was dying on her website, ColorMeMags.com, as a way to make money and found out she had a real desire for running a small business.

“My goal is to hopefully make this business of mine a full-time thing so that by the time I graduate in May I don’t have to go looking for a job.” Del Grande said in an interview. “I love to work and finding a new job right now seems nearly impossible with everything going on, so to be able to work for myself is a dream come true.”

California lifted it’s stay-at-home order on Jan. 25 which allows restaurants in some counties to reopen for outdoor dining even though a majority of California counties are under a Tier 1 risk level.