Business Ideas & Strategies

Reopening Checklist

Before reopening, businesses will need to put health & hygiene protocols into place and train staff. Businesses will need to self-certify that they have met the requirements.

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Strategies for Business Success

The following tips are being recommended by the Napa Sonoma Small Business Development Center, a terrific resource that offers free advising and education to local businesses. We’ve noted how Petaluma businesses are putting these tips into action.

Negotiate Fixed Expenses & Restructure Debt
To reduce expenses, Petaluma businesses are negotiating with landlords and suppliers. They’re also taking advantage of lower interest rates restructure their debt.

If you are a commercial tenant and need legal advice regarding your options, please contact Sonoma County Legal Aid at 559-429-6974.

Embrace Online Business Models

If there was ever a time to put a business online, it’s now. Our downtown shop owners are beefing up their online storefronts, trying out new sales platforms, and investing in advertising. Local personal trainers and gym owners are holding web-based workouts, which helps clients stay fit and connected. And let’s not forget the local wineries and breweries that are hosting virtual tastings.

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Develop New Products and Find New Customers

Experts are telling businesses to “stay nimble” and “pivot.” Take a look at what Petaluma businesses are doing, and you’ll know what that means. Local distilleries have switched from making booze to making hand sanitizer. Restaurants have embracing online ordering, delivery service, and curbside pick-up. Manufacturers are now making protective equipment—from masks to sneeze shields—instead of their usual products. Hair stylists, aestheticians, and other personal services providers are consulting with clients via email, phone, and Zoom meetings.


What has the City been doing for Business?

Since the Shelter in Place started, the City of Petaluma has taken several steps to support the business community.

Our Economic Development team is partnering with colleagues from other Sonoma County cities and the County, not only to share tips and best practices, but also to plan for the recovery ahead.

We’re plugged into industry groups – such as Food Industry Group and the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative – to help us offer solutions to Petaluma businesses in those industries.

City staff from multiple departments have been calling local businesses to check in and offer information about resources available to help them through this crisis.

As we move into the reopening stage, we are working with regional partners to develop best practices for reopening.

What We're Hearing

What we’re hearing – many of our businesses have had to furlough or lay off employees. These decisions are not being made lightly. Most locally-owned businesses are doing everything they can to keep their employees “on the books” as long as possible so they can continue to be eligible for health benefits as well as receive wages. They’re also spending this downtime preparing so that they can ramp up again when the time comes.

On the other side of the spectrum, some employers in essential services industries such as the grocery business need employees. If that is the case in your business, consider contacting locally-owned placement agencies or even other business owners, as they might know the perfect person to fill your spots.

No doubt this is a tough time for our business community. Yet, in true entrepreneurial spirit, we’re seeing numerous examples of businesses leaning into this challenge.

Just as all of us are practicing social distancing and good hygiene for physical health, and finding new ways to socialize for mental health, so our Petaluma businesses are going outside their comfort zones and getting creative in order to keep themselves—and our community—vibrant and healthy.

COVID-19 Signage for Your Business

Below are posters to use in your business. Be sure to check with your HR team to make sure they address all issues in your workplace.

Prevent the Spread 
Social Distancing

What about the CARES Act for Business?

Several programs in the federal Coronavirus relief bill (aka, the CARES Act) are designed to help small businesses. You may have read news reports on the bumpy roll-out of these programs. Unfortunately, we are feeling those bumps here in Petaluma. City staff, the Small Business Development Center, and local banks are working together to help our community’s businesses understand and apply these programs, despite the challenges.

Get more information with the Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act.

The Bottom Line

Petaluma businesses have proven time and again that they are resourceful, innovative, and resilient. They’re also there for each other—supporting local restaurants and shops, holding virtual problem-solving sessions, and checking in with each other by phone or email.

We are #PetalumaProud of you. Let us know how we can help!


City of Petaluma Economic Development Division

Sonoma County Economic Development Board

Small Business Development Center

Small Business Administration

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Ingrid Alverde

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