Forming a Picture

The COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Playbook project has reached its half-way point. After four weeks of extensive data collection and analysis, we are starting to fit the pieces together to create the final picture as we spring towards the finish line.

COVID-19 small business recovery survey

When you open a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and dump the pieces onto the largest table that you can find, there is always the thought “what did I get myself into…” that flashes by.

As you sift through the various pieces, turning them this way and that way, you don’t realize that an hour has passed. Then an hour and a half.

At this point, some people break apart the corner of blue sky they made and sweep the pieces back into the box, walking away. However, there are those who simply cannot walk away. Those who are driven by the desire to see the forming of the picture they set out to create and keep turning the pieces, fitting them together, and are not afraid to take them apart to try again.

The COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Playbook is much like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. We have been pulling together King County librarians, SCORE mentors, interviews and surveys from small businesses owners, website designers, and secondary research. And good news–I believe that we are starting to see how they all fit together to form the final picture.

When we first set out on this project, we knew that we had to reach out to the small businesses within the Ascend Cities network in order to understand the needs and challenges our small businesses are facing. Working together with David Bauer from Hemispheres, we crafted a survey to be sent out to 280 small businesses across 16 cities in the US. We also conducted 28 in-depth interviews with business owners to hear their story. After three weeks, we are finally processing the results, connecting the dots, and gaining valuable insights.

On the back-end, our team of researchers and analysts have been combing through massive amounts of shifting information to assemble an honest and transparent image of our current position as well as where we are likely to be headed in the coming months. Synthesizing primary and secondary research, we are now in the thick of crafting industry specific insight on what change will look like and providing recommendations on how to be resilient and ready for the future. This will be valuable to our small businesses as we all brace ourselves for the end of the lockdown, the changes in our society, and falling into “the new normal”.

There is always something exciting about the moment when form begins to take shape from pieces that, on their own, carry little meaning. As forms turn into figures, and figures into a story, we can’t wait to share with our small business community our findings as we wrap up our mission: to make a change.

Guest post by Christina Tsai, BA 2021