The Dancing Accountant advises small businesses to pivot, move online during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many small businesses in the Chicago area are struggling to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some owners are getting help from an expert known as "The Dancing Accountant."

CPA Nancy McClelland's firm, The Dancing Accountant, is helping small businesses, such as Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain, learn how to pivot.

Spinning J Owner Dinah Grossman took her talent as a pastry chef to help customers, and now her Humboldt Park cafe is focusing on take-out comfort foods and delivery, which they had never done. They're even selling grocery items.

"We definitely listened to our customers," Grossman said. "We've got a really good following on social media so we're fortunate to be in constant conversation with those folks' messages and finding out what they want."

McClelland encourages small business owners to stay open-minded.

"Look at your existing business and see where you can increase your sales," McClelland said.

She recommends moving sales online, and collaborating with other small businesses.

While waiting to find out about federal or local financial support, McClelland advises small business owners to seek out grants within their industries.

Lastly, McClelland tells businesses to get real with their bottom line, and consider what money is coming in and what money needs to go out.

"Here are the things that I can defer payment, and these are the things I can't. Look at those on a week-to-week basis," McClelland said.

At Spinning J, Grossman furloughed half of her staff and reduced business hours.

For remaining staff, they staggered hours operating to keep everyone safe, with baking done overnight.

"Our first concern is the health and safety of people who work here and our customers, so we're not in a hurry to open our doors and have more face-to-face contact with another until it's the obvious and safe thing to do," Grossman said.

She said they'll continue to assess and adjust, just taking it a week at a time.
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