Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business Review

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business ReviewLead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business Review5 Best Home Business Ideas for People Who Love Books - News & FeaturesInnovation Finalists Pitch Ideas, Earn Seed Money at Big Idea Event - Colorado College NewsLead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business ReviewPosted: 27 Feb 2020 09:03 AM PSTExecutive SummaryThe economic impacts of Covid-19 are significant, and as the crisis unfolds, many companies are trying to understand, react to, and learn lessons from rapidly unfolding events. While the full impact will only be clear in hindsight, the authors offer 12 lessons based on BCG's ongoing analysis and support for our clients around the world. ababil12/Getty Images The Covid-19 crisis has now reached a new critical phase where public health systems need to act decisively to contain the growth in new epicenters outside China.Clearly, the main emphasis is and s…

Find financing for your small business | Business - PostBulletin.com

Find financing for your small business | Business - PostBulletin.com

Find financing for your small business | Business - PostBulletin.com

Posted: 22 Jan 2020 02:30 AM PST

Choosing the right financing option for your small business — and figuring out which ones you can get — can feel confusing or overwhelming. Over the past few weeks, I have received several requests for help regarding this topic from small business CEOs and entrepreneurs attempting to start a business.

This column contains some great information given to SCORE by Nav Technologies Inc., one of SCORE's many content contributors. In their 2020 Eguide called, "Where's the Money? 10 Types of Small Business Financing and How to Qualify," they suggest some key questions to ask yourself as you seek financing.

How much do I need?

How much you need might be different than how much you want, so be sure to crunch some numbers to figure out how much you need to borrow to accomplish specific goals. Also ask yourself what you might do if you are approved for more than you expected. Should you take it? If you're not sure, your accounting professional or a business adviser such as a SCORE mentor can help.

How fast do I need it?

Some types of financing, including online lending options, can be obtained in just a few hours or a few days. Others, such as traditional bank loans, including SBA loans, can take a month or more to be approved. Many fall somewhere in between.

What are my credit scores?

Some lenders review personal credit scores, business credit scores, or both. In addition, certain negative information that may appear on your credit reports such as bankruptcy (especially open bankruptcies) or business tax liens could affect your ability to secure financing. Simply knowing your scores is an important starting point, but the more important question is, "How do lenders view my credit scores?"

How long has my company been in business?

"Time in business" is a common question on loan applications. Some lenders require that your company has been in business for minimum number of years (more than one year is common) before you can qualify. Lenders recognize that younger businesses are higher risk.

How much revenue does my business make?

A number of lenders will want to know your annual revenue. Some may drill down deeper and look at average monthly revenue, cash flow, and/or debt-to-income ratios. If your business is seasonal or cyclical, lenders may want to review a longer history of revenue. It's recommended (and sometimes required) that you have a business bank account so that you can easily gather this information and provide the lender with monthly business bank statements when requested.

How quickly do I plan to pay it back?

Small business financing is often categorized as short term (usually less than 24 months), medium term (often 2-5 years) and long-term (5 years+). While short-term loans may carry higher interest rates, longer term loans may cost more in the long run because the repayment period is longer.

Do I need collateral?

Some lenders prefer to make loans secured by real estate, equipment or other assets such as outstanding invoices. When you pledge collateral, the lender will use a "UCC filing" to protect its interest in your property. UCC filings appear on business credit reports and, in some cases, multiple UCC filings may affect your ability to get financing.

What is the impact of a personal guarantee?

If you sign a personal guarantee, the lender can try to collect from your personal income or assets if the business doesn't repay the debt. Lenders often prefer personal guarantees. The stronger the qualifications of your business (time in business, revenues and/or business credit scores), the sooner you can move away from them.

What's my industry?

Lenders may place restrictions on the types of businesses they will fund. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and the newer North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes are used by the government to categorize businesses by industry. These codes typically appear on business credit reports and may be used by lenders to identify the types of businesses they will or will not lend to. It's not uncommon for the wrong code to be listed so check your business credit reports to make sure your SIC or NAICS code is correct.

Am I ready to apply?

Businesses often fail to qualify because they fail to complete the application process. Gathering the information you need to apply ahead of time will save you time — and quite often, money.

Tips and advice for small business owners on Talking Points with TPG’s Richard Kerr - The Points Guy

Posted: 22 Jan 2020 06:01 AM PST

Tips and advice for small business owners on Talking Points with Richard Kerr

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The Joys Of Owning A Self-Managed Small Business - Forbes

Posted: 22 Jan 2020 04:15 AM PST


There are many joys we attribute to owning a small business. Often these varied pleasures are very personal: Perhaps we finally attained the freedom of being our own boss; maybe we are thrilled to bring an innovative product or service to a marketplace; or we are simply pleased with the success of our growing company.

There is also the joy that comes from successfully empowering employees to be all they can be. We can give them autonomy, a self-directing freedom to make decisions independent of management, yet aligned with company goals. We could also create a self-managed workplace in which our staff becomes totally accountable for their own contribution to the company's success.

Since 2007, I've worked with owners of very small businesses. Most of my coaching and consulting focuses on transitioning the organization so that the owner has the freedom to choose the relationship he or she wants with the business.

To give owners more freedom often requires that employees take on more and different responsibilities, work more independently and be given the clout to make decisions and live by them. Client successes vary based on why they initially decide to move to self-management. This shift is no small feat, but I think self-management is in the air.

If you're not familiar with the benefits of owning a self-managed company, here are a few. You'll likely enjoy:

• Working less as an employee and more as a business owner

• Working less — period

• Increased employee productivity

• Increased retention

• Greater overall employee satisfaction

Every business owner will define and describe their idea of what they mean by a self-managed company. Depending on the benefits they want to gain, they'll choose the level of implementation that is right for them. Curious? Here's a Q&A list regarding the self-managed workplace.

Who self-manages?

Your employees — at all levels — manage themselves to be fully accountable to their own project, their team, and their management and company goals.

With whom does self-management begin and end?

You and your managers may be the first employees to implement self-management. If your managers directly report to you, then you become less involved in managing them. They, in turn, become less involved in managing supervisors, project leaders and staff, which may include entry-level individuals. New hires should be introduced to self-management during their onboarding. Job candidates should become aware that your culture supports self-management, and interviewers should pose questions that elicit the candidate's experience and comfort level regarding being self-directed and fully accountable for performance outcomes.

What is the manager's job in the new self-management workplace?

Today's managers become leaders. They choose the overall direction of the company, a business, a product, a service, a department and so on. They set measurable outcomes with input from today's self-managed employees. They set the stage for employee success and facilitate only when required.

What's the employee's job in the new self-management workplace?

Today's employees manage their own tasks, run their own projects and solve their own problems with minimal direction from management. They may be customer-facing for the first time. They are empowered to contribute innovations and new directions, especially in their own areas of expertise. In companies where transparency is valued, employees are taught business skills so they can participate in business decision-making.

What are self-managed teams?

A self-managed (a.k.a. self-directed) team is a group of employees who work together setting strategy, goals, schedules, budgets and so on for a service, product or department. Some companies begin a self-managed workplace by creating self-directed teams. For instance, field crew could transition into a self-directed team by relying less on a working supervisor to manage them.

When should a business owner decide to implement a self-managed environment?

Although a new business owner could include a self-managed environment in their business plan, most likely a business owner first learns about a self-managed workplace once they have a few employees and become a first-time manager and/or engage new managers or supervisors.

How do we design and implement a self-managed environment?

The business owner and leaders create a strategy and plan to transform the company into a self-managed one, which is often 180 degrees from how a small business is typically run. They may feel as if they're re-engineering the entire company, and if they are, it could take a year to complete the design.

Regarding implementation, it's too cavalier to just say, "follow the plan" without presenting some recommendations:

1. As the owner, make an educated business decision to transition to a self-managed company and commit to making your own mindset shifts to necessitate change.

2. Get input from employees throughout the transformation, starting with the strategy.

3. Document all company positions, including roles, responsibilities and performance outcomes.

4. Develop training, coaching and mentoring programs for staff on self-management skills and knowledge.

5. Document the cultural attitudes and work habits that promote self-management.

6. Document self-management processes and procedures. Keep these simple enough to fit on a page. Think "many checklists" rather than one large operations manual.

7. Test with one small team. Document results. Revise the plan. Add a second team. If your business is very small, start with one or two individuals, and let everyone know they're participating in a case study for change.

A cautionary note: A self-managed workplace is an extraordinary environment in today's small business. There are probably more articles written about it than companies embracing it, but that shouldn't deter you. Remember, you're the small business owner who is interested in sharing the joy of ownership with everyone you hire. Take the time to peruse the internet to find articles, blogs and success stories of high-performance, self-managed workplaces, then make an informed decision on whether this environment is right for you and your people.

An inspirational note: There are small business owners who have taken the leap of faith and are enjoying the step-by-step success into a self-managed workplace. There's no reason why you cannot be one of these innovators!

Four Tips For Small, Local Business Marketers Looking To Up Their Game In 2020 - Forbes

Posted: 22 Jan 2020 03:30 AM PST


We're at the dawn of a new decade. And with 2020 here, I can't help but think back on how much has changed since 2010 and what changes in the next decade will bring for businesses of all sizes, especially local businesses.

It's no secret that small businesses play a big role in the U.S. economy, creating nearly two-thirds of jobs and accounting for 44% of economic activity.

What's even more notable? Many small businesses get by with little to no marketing.

A 2019 survey we conducted with Atomik Research of 504 small business owners across the U.S. uncovered some surprising findings about the state of small business marketing. Consider these findings:

• Nearly a third of small business owners do not believe they have enough resources or bandwidth to effectively market their businesses.

• More than a quarter of small business owners say their lack of knowledge about marketing hinders their marketing efforts.

• The majority of small business owners (60%) do not run any paid ads on social media, even though they believe it would be effective.

But small business owners are a passionate bunch. Nearly all small business owners surveyed (95%) believe owning a small, local business is rewarding.

My prediction is that 2020 and beyond will bring an explosion of local business marketing. With millennials increasingly becoming entrepreneurs and business owners, and digital and social advertising platforms becoming more affordable and accessible, the world of small business marketing will only grow in 2020 and beyond.

Here are four tips for small, local business owners to up their marketing game in 2020.

1. Look for low-hanging fruit with community events.

There are simple, easy steps local business owners can take to dip their toes in marketing and naturally connect with customers in their communities.

Events like Small Business Saturday, community festivals and other "shop local" events are natural ways to increase visibility in the community. But while nearly 80% of small business owners believe their community supports Small Business Saturday, only 40% do any sort of promotions for this event.

This is the year to change that. There are many easy and low-cost ways to connect with customers via community events throughout the year. Run a special sale or giveaway. Offer a loyalty program that rewards repeat customers and referrals. Connect with your customer base through multiple channels — email marketing, social media, text messaging — to ensure your business remains top of mind.

2. Get hyperlocal.

Small business owners don't have to market to the world. When it comes to local business marketing, it's all about building strong connections with the community. And there are a variety of channels to help small business owners do this.

Understanding the digital landscape — search engine marketing, website optimization, social media and more — is a key element to effectively leveraging the digital space to target the right local customers. Making sure business listings including location, hours and reviews are updated on local directory sites is also critical for small businesses to be found when customers are looking for business information on the go.

3. Think paid plus organic with social media.

Sixty-two percent of small business owners we surveyed feel social media marketing has the highest ROI for their business. And they're on to something. Customers are already active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more — so social media is the perfect place to keep customers engaged and up to date on business news, products, specials and more.

But while many local business owners are active with organic social media updates — meaning posting photos, videos and updates to feeds similar to personal pages — 60% of small business owners do not run any paid ads on social media.

In 2020, small businesses should consider the value of a paid social media strategy to complement organic content. With even a minimal investment of money, a paid social media strategy can target hyperlocal demographics and help small businesses reach new fans, gain new followers and turn prospects into customers.

4. Plan and analyze for best results.

As they say, hope is not a marketing strategy. A solid, effective marketing strategy needs insight in planning and ongoing analysis to gauge if efforts are successful.

Small business owners should take a step back and reflect on past marketing efforts. What were the goals? Did marketing efforts yield the intended results? What worked well, and what could have worked better?

Make sure marketing plans for 2020 focus on key areas of business growth. This could be promoting high-profit products or services, launching new offerings, or targeting and reaching new customers.

Throughout the year, make sure to track results. There are a variety of tools to measure the success of digital marketing campaigns in particular — search engine, social media and Google Analytics, just to name a few. Ongoing analysis will help small business owners see what's working and adjust course on efforts along the way to get the most bang out of their marketing efforts.

There's no doubt about the value small businesses bring to communities across the country. And I believe local business owners are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to marketing efforts. In fact, 80% of those surveyed plan to actively conduct marketing efforts in 2020. I can't wait to see what the new year and this new decade bring for small business marketing.

IN-STEP gives small businesses international opportunities - Country 103.9 WRBI

Posted: 22 Jan 2020 06:45 AM PST

Statewide—The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) launched the Indiana State Trade and Export Promotion (IN-STEP) program to develop and expand export opportunities throughout the state, assisting Indiana small businesses with identifying, marketing and selling Hoosier-made goods in international markets. 

IN-STEP, which will support company growth and job creation by diversifying small businesses' customer bases, offers eligible companies reimbursements of costs associated with export-related activities like participating in international trade missions, foreign trade shows and export educational programs, as well as other export services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Total reimbursements under IN-STEP cover up to 50%, or $12,500, of small businesses' export expenses. 

The program, which is launching with the support of a two-year grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will provide up to $660,000 in funding for small businesses. Applications will be available on a rolling basis until all funds are distributed or up to August 31, 2021.

Qualifying criteria is as follows: 

  • The business must be in operation for at least a year.
  • The business must be new to exporting or market expansion.
  • The business must be an Indiana Small Business Development Center (Indiana SBDC) client. 
  • The business must be in accordance with SBA size standards, which categorize small businesses based on measures like industry, number of employees and annual receipts. Use the SBA's Size Standards Tool to see if your company qualifies.
  • The business' goods must be made in the U.S. or composed of at least 51% U.S. material.


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