One-on-one with Houston Black chamber chairperson Carol Guess

The Greater Houston Black Chamber (GHBC) works tirelessly to reach and partner with African-American owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and professionals. The Defender talked with GHBC Chair Carol Guess about what they’re doing to help Black businesses move forward.

Defender: Many small and minority-owned businesses are bracing for the economic impact from the coronavirus. What do you see as being the major challenges ahead for them? 

Carol Guess: Cash flow, lay-offs and closures. Many of our businesses are service-oriented and need human interaction to generate sales. Without receiving this interaction, our businesses will not receive the cash injection needed to conduct daily operations. Accordingly, this will lead to lay-offs for some businesses, and unfortunately, closures, as the end date of this crisis is unknown.

Defender: What will the chamber do to assist those businesses? 

Guess: The chamber is providing continuing information to our members pertaining to measures that can help them sustain their businesses, and also letting the public know that our businesses are open for business.  A couple of these efforts include “chamber chat” sessions with business industry leaders and experts in industries that directly impact our member businesses to provide them with information that can help them sustain during this tough time.  We are also providing information to the public regarding our member businesses that are open for business through our buy Black initiative at www.houstonbuyblack.com and through postings highlighting our members’ products and services through email campaigns, and on our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn platforms.

Defender: Is there anything that business owners can do in the meantime to ride this out?

Guess: First and foremost, we want to make sure everyone takes measures to stay safe. We want the public to stay informed so that they take this coronavirus pandemic seriously, show care for their own safety and that of their employees. We encourage business owners to do all they can to minimize their community spread footprint.

Secondly, businesses can review their product/service offerings to pivot toward what is in demand now, and offer their products/services, if possible, in a manner that fits today’s demand.  They can also take a look at discounting products/services, or suspending or eliminating offerings that are cash or labor intensive to produce. Also, business owners can take advantage of the SBA disaster loan program that Texas is now eligible for and apply at sba.gov to help remedy cash flow issues.