Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. -

Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

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small business

Saint Vincent center offers advice, connections for small business startups - Tribune-Review

Posted: 24 Feb 2019 10:30 PM PST

Before an entrepreneur reaches the point where they feel comfortable calling themselves a small-business owner, there's the daunting prospect of first starting a business.

In the case of someone like FlexScreen President Joe Altieri of Plum, he was able to put in place a group of investors to help launch his business.

For those who may need advice and a few connections, there are places like the Saint Vincent College Small Business Development Center.

"We work with 'pre-venture' folks as well as existing established businesses," said Jim Kunkel, executive director of the college's center, one of 18 in Pennsylvania.

"In the small-business world, the backbone of financing comes from commercial banks," Kunkel said. "There are a lot of banks out there, and different banks have different cultures and approaches to small-business lending. But that's generally the launch point."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year. That number that reaches 50 percent at five years.

With such a high failure rate for U.S. start-ups, banks can sometimes be hesitant to lend. Kunkel said the SBDC also works with alternative lenders: regional or county-based organizations with programs for incubating small business.

"They tend to be a little more flexible in their guidelines. They tend to take a little bit more risk with start-ups, and quite frankly, it's not unusual to see start-ups have both commercial bank as well as alternative-lender participation," Kunkel said.

Lenders also want to see a market analysis, he said.

"They want to see future projections, and they'll send these entrepreneurs to the SBDCs, and we put on paper a vision for the business, and then we try and quantify it," he said.

SBDC officials look at things like annual revenues within the industry an entrepreneur seeks to join, try to determine if there is a local market for such a business and a reasonable opportunity for a new business owner to borrow money and pay it back.

"Small businesses are not profitable right out of the gate," Kunkel said. "So we try and find the appropriate firm for a start-up to get sufficient capital and have a higher probability of success."

Kunkel pointed to the Progress Fund in Greensburg as one example of an alternative lender.

"They're focused primarily on travel and tourism, but they've been around for 20 years or so, and they've lent money to start-ups like microbreweries and bed-and-breakfast places," he said.

The Saint Vincent College SBDC covers Westmoreland and Fayette counties, serving as an outreach to local communities.

"We really are management consultants," Kunkel said.

For more on the SBDC, visit the website and search "Small Business Development Center."

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 412-871-8627, or via Twitter .

Small business owners can get help through new Gainesville program - Gainesville Sun

Posted: 24 Feb 2019 03:36 PM PST

The city of Gainesville has partnered with Community Bank & Trust of Florida to offer a loan program designed to help small business owners create jobs, grow businesses and strengthen the economy.

The opportunity has arrived for small businesses within Gainesville city limits to get help financing the growth of their ventures.

The city of Gainesville Department of Doing has partnered with Community Bank & Trust of Florida to offer the Opportunity Loan Program, which is designed to help small business owners create jobs, grow their businesses and strengthen the local economy.

Administered by Community Bank and Trust, the loans given by the bank will be backed by $80,000 deposited in the bank Feb. 13 by the city of Gainesville, said Erik Bredfeldt, director of economic development with the city.

The city money serves as a "loan-loss reserve" in case businesses fail to repay the loans, something the city and bank hopes never happen, Bredfeldt said.

"That money doesn't get touched otherwise," Bredfeldt said.

Besides being located within Gainesville city limits, other program requirements include having a business license issued by the state of Florida, proof of completion of participating in an entrepreneurial or other small business capacity training with a mentor, and having a three-year business plan, Bredfeldt said.

The mentoring aspect of the program is significant because the mentors help the businesses getting the loans understand the fundamentals of how to succeed in business, Bredfeldt said.

"They provide the capacity building component of the program," Bredfeldt said.

Capacity building involves developing organizational and management skills that increase the chances of a business succeeding.

The authorized mentors in the program include:

• America's Small Business Development Center of Florida, an arm of the federal Small Business Administration that offers free business consulting and low-cost business training.

• Gainesville Entrepreneurship and Adversity Program, a joint project between the University of Florida Warrington School of Business and the city of Gainesville that is structured to expose its participants to the entrepreneurial journey, issues with bookkeeping, marketing, operations and getting resources. It serves community members and small-business owners suffering from adverse economic, physical or related circumstances.

• Innovation Hub, a UF business incubator that offers help to startup companies.

• Santa Fe College's Center for Innovation and Economic Development, whose mission is to foster innovation and economic development by adding value and providing enrichment to individuals and organizations within the business community.

• SCORE North Central Florida, a network of volunteer business mentors who provide free answers to business questions.

• Working Food, a nonprofit organization that works to cultivate and sustain a resilient local food community in North Central Florida through collaboration, economic opportunity, education and seed stewardship.

John Roberts, vice president of commercial banking with Community Bank & Trust of Florida, said borrowers will need to provide a business plan that includes projections that indicate their ability to repay the loan, show their plan will create new jobs and that the proposed business is filling a need within the community.

The loans are for $5,000 to $10,000 and are for businesses that "run the gamut," Bredfeldt said.

The mentors can play a big role in vouching for how probable the chances are for a business to be successful because of the relationship they developed with the business, Bredfeldt added.

A recommendation from a mentor weighs a lot with the bank, and mentors can play a role in helping the bank resolve repayment problems if they arise, he said.

The interest rates on the loans will be the fixed prime rate plus 2 percent, Bredfeldt said.

Roberts said Community Bank & Trust of Florida is excited about the possibilities the program has to have in impact on the community.

"At CBTFL, we feel that small businesses are the backbone of our community," he said. "Job creation starts with small businesses, which help a local community grow and prosper. We feel that by helping small business we are helping individuals and the community prosper."

To learn more, call the city at 334-5000 or find information and resources at

33% of Small Business Owners Struggling to Find the Motivation - Small Business Trends

Posted: 25 Feb 2019 06:00 AM PST

Do you still have the same passion for your business as when you first started? A new study from Vistaprint has revealed 33% of small business owners in the US say they don't have the same motivation as in those early days of their entrepreneurial journey.

In the study, more than a third or 36% said they experience this lack of motivation several times a year. The reason, of course, will vary from owner to owner, but Vistaprint says they can get their mojo back and get excited about what led them on this path in the first place.

For small business owners, the high level of stress which goes along with running a company is one of the biggest reasons for losing their enthusiasm. In the study, stress is identified as one of the primary contributors for losing one's motivation.

In an emailed press release, Vistaprint Customer Strategy and Insights Director Simon Braier compared starting a business to starting a relationship. Braier said,  "There is the honeymoon phase that carries you through for a while, but long-lasting relationships and businesses both require a lot of work and can come with a few rough patches."

And as anyone who has been in a relationship knows, you have to be on top of things if you want it to succeed. Braier added, "By consistently reminding yourself why you started your business and seizing new opportunities you can avoid slumps in motivation and keep the spark alive."

Small Business Motivation Statistics

The study comes from a survey which was carried out in February 2019 with the participation of 365 small businesses owners with 0 to 10 employees.

The survey was also administered in Canada with 371 respondents, and the UK with 294 respondents.

In the US, the top reasons for losing motivation was high levels of stress at number one, followed by lack of regular/stable salary, and lack of work-life balance.

The respondents in the UK gave a lack of regular/stable salary as their number one cause followed by stress, and lower than expected potential. In Canada the lack of regular/stable salary was on top, followed by stress and lack of work-life balance.

The fact all three countries identify high levels of stress as the top two reason highlights the role stress plays in one's motivation to continue to do what they are doing.

As to how they were able to identify their lack or loss of motivation, respondents in the US gave procrastinating on necessary business projects as their primary reason. The other reasons were not posting on social media and not updating the website as often.

Running a small business means staying on top and any procrastination will eventually be responsible for the downfall of the company. With more small business now online with e-commerce, not updating a website or posting on social media is also a recipe for failure.

Respondents in Canada and the UK also said procrastination was their top reason for identifying their lack of motivation.

Keeping the Passion Burning

In the survey, Vistaprint also asked the participants in all three countries how they keep their passion alive over the years and if they could offer some tips for small business owners.

The first tip is a great one. They said, "Remind yourself why you started your business in the first place." You might think you will never forget why you started your business, but as the survey points out high-level stress and other issues can make you forget.

Some of the other tips are: seek new challenges and set new goals, refresh your brand, create partnerships with other businesses/brands, hit the "reset" button by taking time away from your business and more.


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How to Compete for Employees When Unemployment is Low - Small Business Trends

Posted: 25 Feb 2019 04:30 AM PST

Small business owners are now facing the lowest unemployment rate in a 50 years. Many of them are worried about how they can compete for the best employees for they need desperately for their company.

How to Recruit when Unemployment Is Low

On this week's Small Business Radio Show, Himanshu 'Sue' Bhatia, who was named one of Fast Company's "Top 25 Women Business Builders in North America", talks about how every small business owner can find the best people. In the interview, her advice includes:

1. Establish a company culture that people want to work for. Sue explains that if you are going to get the best people, they must ultimately be attracted to your company as a place to work. It is also critical that current employees refer their friends. When they are happy, they will invite other future team members to join them. I think that even some of the fans of the company can become a future part of the team. Sue reminds us that your culture must embrace all the generations in your company and not just cater to one group.

2. Establish a local reputation. Sue believes it is easy to get press in the Business Journal publications that are in many metropolitan cities. She also suggests pursuing awards like "The Great Place to Work" so future employees will again be attracted to your company.

3. Become socially responsible. Sue reminds us that people want to now work with companies that are socially responsible with the future of our country. I always think that most employees want to be part of a mission that is bigger than them that they could not achieve on their own.

Sue also believes that we need to re-skill the work force and prepare our graduating students better. This was a problem she emphasized when she recently attended the White House Economic Summit. They discussed how many students graduate with a degree that does give them the proper skills so they can pay down their debt. LinkedIn released the list of the top soft and hard skills needed in 2019 that included cloud computing, analytical reasoning, AI, emotional intelligence skills, time management and adaptability. In fact, Sue emphasizes that 65% of children entering elementary school today will be doing a job that does not yet exist!

Listen to the entire interview at The Small Business Radio Show.


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4 Cash Flow Challenges Facing Small Business Owners Today -

Posted: 24 Feb 2019 05:20 PM PST

Cash flow concept

You should probably have a good handle on your company's cash flow, but do you ever wonder how your company compares with other small businesses? Intuit QuickBooks recently released a global study, the State of Small Business Cash Flow, which reveals the cash flow challenges experienced by small business owners and self-employed workers around the world. The study is also an in-depth assessment of the behaviors and attitudes of entrepreneurs experiencing cash flow challenges.

As I read the study, the section on cash flow issues faced by entrepreneurs caught my eye. According to the study, 69% of small business owners are kept up at night with concerns about cash flow. What drives cash flow issues for the self-employed? Let's take a look at the top four factors.

1. Managing receivables

Receivables, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a balance of money due to a company. The business has provided services to a client or customer; however, the client still owes the company payment for those services. Until receivables are repaid in full, they are referred to as outstanding receivables.

One-third of all small business owners in the United States estimate their companies have more $20,000 in outstanding receivables, according to the study, and the average outstanding receivables for U.S. small businesses is $53,399.

2. Managing payments

How do small business owners manage payments? The study reveals 53% will send out invoices which bill customers and/or clients for services on a specific date. On the flip side of the coin, 47% of small business owners use advanced payment. This allows entrepreneurs to charge customers and/or clients for services before they receive them, or right when they do.

How long does it take money to process for small businesses? More time than you might think. Sixty-six percent of small business owners revealed the greatest impact on their company's cash flow is the amount of time it takes money to process after receiving payments. Nearly one-third (31%) of small business owners say they wait more than 30 days for payments.

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3. Employee management

Small business owners are not the only ones impacted by not receiving pay. A lack of readily available funds makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to pay employees on their payroll. More than two in five (43%) of small business owners with cash flow issues have been at risk of not being able to pay employees by their assigned payday.

Unfortunately, 32% of small business owners surveyed have paid their employees after their paydays. As illustrated by events like the recent partial government shutdown, the impact late pay has on employees can be dire. Many individuals live paycheck to paycheck, and when a small business employer cannot pay on time, employees are likely to start looking for jobs at companies that can provide dependable pay.

4. Getting capital

What happens when it becomes too difficult to have liquid finances available? Some small business owners turn to loans and other forms of capital for financial support.


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