Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - Harvard Business Review

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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…

Small Business Scorecard: Mayor Pete Buttigieg - Forbes

Small Business Scorecard: Mayor Pete Buttigieg - Forbes


Small Business Scorecard: Mayor Pete Buttigieg - Forbes

Posted: 28 Jan 2020 02:20 PM PST

Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major political party, is best known as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He also served as a naval intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2009-17 and was deployed for seven months in Afghanistan during his first term as mayor in 2014. A Harvard graduate and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he worked for consulting company McKinsey & Co. before to pursuing a career in politics.

As mayor of South Bend, he helped the city partner with the nonprofit Accelerator for America to identify "Opportunity Zones" (areas struggling to generate economic growth) that use tax incentives to attract business investment into local communities and help startups get off the ground. In 2018, Buttigieg established a small business incubator in a historically black neighborhood to expand business opportunities.

Under Buttigieg's leadership, South Bend's Department of Community Investment helped growing companies secure $1.2 million in gap financing loans through the city's Industrial Revolving Loan Fund, which helps companies in the manufacturing, transportation, communication, wholesale trade, and service sectors. Buttigieg said that his city-supported projects added 675 jobs in 2017.

Later, the mayor commission a year-long diversity disparity study in 2018 to measure how often South Bend hires minority-owned companies for city contracts. Buttigieg's plan is to use the results of the study to set future goals for working with diverse vendors.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg launched his 2020 Presidential campaign on April 14, 2019. A few months later, in July, he developed his small business policy cornerstone, the Walker-Lewis Initiative, named after two of the most successful African American entrepreneurs in U.S. business history: Madam CJ Walker and Reginald Lewis. The plan is designed to spur entrepreneurship and job creation in underserved communities because he believes entrepreneurship is an engine of economic growth and employment.

Recognizing that people of color face unique challenges to starting their own businesses, including accessing credit, he developed the Walker-Lewis Initiative, which aims to triple the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds during the next decade and to create up to 3 million new jobs in minority communities across the country.

The plan consists of two parts. The first is the creation of a federal Walker-Lewis Entrepreneurship Fund to invest in entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. This fund would co-invest in funds with the explicit goal of investing in entrepreneurs based in low-income and minority communities. The government would co-invest up to $10 billion within five years, which will activate another $10 billion of private capital. Additionally, there would be corresponding efforts to expand access to capital, entrepreneur training and development, and rigorous measurement and data tracking.

The second major initiative is Walker-Lewis Debt-for-Jobs Plan to help young entrepreneurs start businesses. Every student who was eligible for Pell Grants while in school will have his or her college loans deferred and forgiven over a five-year period if they start and maintain a business employing at least three people within five years of leaving school.

Additionally, Buttigieg proposes launching the Walker-Lewis Promise with the goal of awarding 25% of federal's $500 billion dollars in government contracts to small business owners from underserved communities in urban and rural areas. The companies include minority-owned firms (currently nearly 10%) and women-owned firms (currently at 5%), according to contract data on USAspending.gov. Buttigieg estimates that awarding more contracts to business owners who are economically and socially disadvantaged would inject over $100 billion in underserved communities.

"Women of color account for nearly half of all women-owned businesses, over $386 billion in annual revenue, which means lifting up black women not just with our words, but with our dollars," Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg says that if elected, he would convene a task force of diverse and highly credentialed collection of entrepreneurs to identify additional ways to reach our entrepreneurship goals and report back to the President.

The 37-year-old believes "Freedom is an inclusive economy without unfair barriers to entrepreneurship." On Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30, 2019), he tweeted:

Small businesses begin as acts of hope and go on to fuel our economy. This #SmallBusinessSaturday, support veteran, women, and minority-owned small businesses, and help open new doors of opportunity for their owners, our communities, and our country.

Of all the Democratic Presidential nomination contenders, he is the one who has devoted a significant portion of his policy platform and his campaign website to small business growth. He also has a record of helping small businesses grow in South Bend.

However, Buttigieg also released a plan last summer aiming to strengthen union bargaining power, raise the minimum wage to $15, and offer national paid family leave. These initiatives could prove quite costly to small businesses if mandated by federal law.

Scorecard

Past Leadership: A

Future Plans: B+

Overall Grade: A-

Seven ways Trump and Congress can boost small businesses | TheHill - The Hill

Posted: 29 Jan 2020 04:00 AM PST

With President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE's third State of the Union address scheduled for next week, many Americans are wondering if this will be another year lost to partisanship and electoral politics or if there is hope for real legislative action on issues of importance to them. The bipartisan passage of the trade pact known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides an opportunity to build on that compromise and deliver results for the American people.  

Small business owners and self-employed Americans are the lifeblood of the country's economy. According to Everlance, the explosion of gig economy workers — such as driver's for Uber and Lyft — is part of a growing self-employed demographic, which now represents 33 percent of the economy. It shows that by this year, nearly 27 million workers will have left their full-time jobs to start businesses, bringing the number of self-employed entrepreneurs in the U.S. to 42 million.

As entrepreneurship continues its steady growth and the demographic of work keeps evolving, there are seven areas where both sides of the political aisle in Congress can work together — and with the White House — to achieve support for the small business community: 

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1) Retirement options: Many small businesses don't have the same retirement benefits and opportunities as large corporations. We must implement creative retirement options for small businesses, such as those included in the recently passed bipartisan SECURE Act, so that all Americans can retire with dignity regardless of job, status and employment structure. 

2) Tax equity and simplification: With the nation's new tax code now in its third year, it is important to build upon it by continuing to reduce the tax burden on small businesses, while also streamlining the tax code to make it easier and simpler to file annual tax returns.

3) Health care: We need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act by making access to health care more affordable for small business owners. Last year's Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) rule change was a good start, but we must find additional options for small businesses to gain coverage, or to ensure their continuity of coverage. 

4) Predatory lending: In an attempt to expand business operations, small business owners often seek loans. However, some lending entities use practices that are unfair or abusive, leading to loans that are unwanted, unaffordable or predatory in nature, with high interest rates and hidden fees. Policy leaders must not only crack down on these lending agencies, but also implement policies that protect borrowers and their businesses. 

 5) Access to capital: With the recent Senate approval of Jovita Carranza to lead the Small Business Administration, we must focus on opening new lines of capital by not only making sure the process is easy to apply for, but also that small businesses readily receive the money in a timely manner to invest in starting or growing business operations.

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6) Promoting entrepreneurship: With the creation of each new small business, someone steps out of the unemployment line and into self-employment. We must continue to support, reward and foster the growth and expansion of new and existing small businesses through positive public policies.

7) Deregulation: The Trump administration and Congress have worked to cut many regulations affecting small businesses that prevented them from getting ahead. However, many regulations continue to hamper small business owners' ability to grow, expand and save money. We must cut more red tape and burdensome regulations, such as unnecessary and excessive licensing requirements, to allow them to spend time on business operations and not just government paperwork.  

Even during an election year, with a high-profile impeachment trial under way, these seven opportunities to achieve bipartisan policy fixes to support the mom-and-pop businesses throughout America could go a long way toward rebuilding trust in the workings of government.  These are not major public policy changes; rather, they represent small opportunities to come together and show the political will to support small businesses and our national economy. 

America's small business community is not a Republican or Democratic demographic; it represents Americans as a whole. Many business owners around the country share the hope that President Trump and Congress can come together and cooperate to find solutions to issues that impact millions of American families. 

Keith Hall is president and CEO of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), which represents more than 27 million entrepreneurs and advocates on behalf of the self-employed and micro-business community.

Fredonia wins 'Small Business Revolution,' small businesses set to receive makeovers - WKBW-TV

Posted: 28 Jan 2020 05:03 PM PST

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's a party in Fredonia. The Chautauqua County community won a nation-wide contest for some of their small businesses to receive a televised make over.

The name of the show is Small Business Revolution. It's hosted by Ty Pennington and Amanda Brinkman. It can be streamed on their website.

Tuesday night, the Fredonia Opera House and Preforming Arts Center was the site of a viewing party to watch the announcement live.

The community won $500,000 for seven businesses to be made over. While, Western New York helped Fredonia be the chosen location for season five of Small Business Revolution, the producers of the show will choose which businesses are redone.

The show will return to film in March.

Watch the announcement below:

Closing The Small Business Financing Gap: The ABCs Of Merchant Cash Advance - Forbes

Posted: 29 Jan 2020 04:00 AM PST

"There is an $87 billion gap in financing for small businesses," said Marina Linhart, CEO at Next Street. The firm advises cities, foundations, large institutions, lenders, and nonprofits that serve small businesses on how to do it better. 

Undercapitalized companies have lower sales and profits, generate fewer jobs, and are more likely to fail. Evidence finds that women entrepreneurs are dissuaded from applying for credit, ask for less financing than men do, are approved less often, and pay more for credit. Key to closing the gap "is having access to the right form of capital in the appropriate amount that is needed." noted Linhart. "Alternative finance provides a very useful product for very specific circumstances for businesses." 

The good news is that there is an array of not just new financing options that are now available but also ones that have been around for years. The bad news is that the abundance of options can be overwhelming to the entrepreneur. Even if you have consulted with a professional, understanding why some options are expensive but maybe still right for your situation is essential. 

Factors such as being a startup, having an inconsistent cash flow, needing money fast, not having a good credit score, not having collateral, and wanting a simple application process should weigh into your decision. As the clothing retailer, Sy Syms said, "An educated consumer is our best customer." What is valid for shopping for clothing is even more true for financing. 

A tiny percentage of growth companies will raise angel or venture capital, but even they should know about non-dilutive financing options, so they do not give away too much of their company. When investors own a share of your company, you may need to consult them on how you run your business. And finding the right investors can be time consuming. Lenders and most alternative funders do not take an ownership stake in your business. They have no say in the way you run your company. However, you must pay the money back within a set time frame, so having cash flow is critical. 

"Merchant cash advance has been around for decades," said Christine Chang, CEO, 6th Avenue Capital. She has spent her 25-year career in the alternative credit sector at companies such as Charles River, Credit Suisse, and New York Private Bank & Trust. Merchant cash advance (MCA) is not technically a loan; it gives you an upfront sum of cash in exchange for a slice of your future sales, such as credit card / debit card sales. Or, Automated Clearing House (ACH) advance, which uses a small business's bank account deposits and bank statement cash-flow to determine funding and repayment. Money is repaid on a daily or weekly fixed schedule. It's a good source of short-term (12 months or less) financing. 6th Avenue Capital uses technology to help its underwriters be more efficient in its due diligence process, but it also interviews entrepreneurs to understand their personal story. 

MCA and ACH advance are expensive. They are a form of capital that has been associated with predatory lending, are unregulated, and unsecured financing, commented Chang. "We have a policy of radical transparency about the total cost of capital. Our average factor rate is between 1.25 and 1.5, with an average of 1.32." For every $100 a small business receives, it pays $32 for the use of the money over the prescribed period of time. 

Because the industry is not regulated, "we really do a lot of self-regulation," she said. While 6th Avenue Capital would welcome regulation to eliminate the bad actors, it also recognizes that sometimes regulation can hurt those constituents it is trying to help. The Dodd-Frank Act enacted in 2010 had the unintended consequence of making small business lending less profitable. However, even before then small business lending was in decline. Big banks have been moving their focus to lend to mid- and large-size businesses, and some small banks shuttered. As a result, the company is a member of the Independent Lending Platform Association and the Small Business Financial Association. Both organizations are active lobbyists on Capitol Hill, advocating for both small business and lender interests. 

When you are not a bank, marketing to small businesses looking for financing is a costly endeavor. It may sound counter intuitive, but 6th Avenue Capital has strategic partnerships with other small business financiers. When a small business is not a good match for a bank or credit union loan, they make referrals to other reputable funders. For that reason, other alternative financing options make referrals to each other. Industry specialists and associations make referrals, too. And, finally, mission-based organizations, such as Next Street, make referrals. 

When entrepreneurs need short-term financing fast — 24 to 48 hours — an MCA or ACH advance may be worth the cost. A variety of companies use this type of funding to fill the gap:

  • During the federal government shutdown, when SBA loans stopped flowing.
  • When a fleeting opportunity to buy expensive kitchen equipment at a deep discount presented itself to a restaurant.
  • When a skincare startup received a big order from an impressive retailer and did not qualify for traditional invoice factoring.
  • After Hurricane Harvey left Houston decimated, a construction company needed equipment fast to help the city rebuild.
  • When a home-based e-commerce business needed to stock up for the holiday season and did not qualify for traditional factoring.

Importantly, once your company has grown and established its ability to repay, it can move up the credit stack to cheaper sources of capital.

When seeking financing, be prepared. You need to decide if you must raise capital (and how much), what you will use it for, and during what period you will spend it. How fast do you need the money? Determine your funding needs by estimating the related costs for this particular phase of your business. Estimate the revenue as well. Do a monthly cash flow analysis. This analysis will highlight the period for which you need outside financing. Find out what all your financing options are.

What types of financing are you considering?

Tips for Taking a Corporate Trip with Your Small Business - Atlanta Small Business Network

Posted: 28 Jan 2020 10:00 PM PST

Although conferences and trade shows are great places to find new clients, learn about your industry, and recruit new employees, getting to those conferences and trade shows can be painful when you're a small business. Unlike a large corporation, you probably don't have a designated department to organize your travel or a massive network of discounts already in place. 

But if there's anything small business owners and employees excel at, it's overcoming obstacles. So here are a few tips to help you and your employees have a productive, comfortable and smooth corporate trip.

1. Consider both travel agencies and open booking

Many small businesses default to using open booking (your employees go on whatever travel site they prefer, book their tickets, and apply to be reimbursed.) Other businesses practice a variation on open booking where one employee, often a department head, compares prices on travel sites and either applies for reimbursement or buys everyone's tickets on a company credit card. Still others work with an affiliate travel agency. 

Which method is best? Unfortunately, there's not a simple answer to that question. Using a travel site allows employees to easily compare prices and choose flights and hotels that work with their schedules. However, travel agents are often experts at finding group deals that individuals don't have access to. 

Before making a decision on whether to use a travel agency or open booking, make sure that you compare costs of both. The reservation method that instinctively comes to mind may not be the best one for your business. 

2. Set a budget that your employees can work with

If you're asking your employees to apply for reimbursement for their travel costs, you'll need to set a realistic budget for them. Although establishing a budget is common sense, often businesses underestimate how much employees will reasonably need to spend on food, rideshares, and last-minute transportation changes. It's better to slightly overestimate how much you may need to reimburse employees than to set a budget so strict your team can't possibly stick to it.

You can also look into budgeting software and loyalty programs to help you save money without restricting employees. Dozens of software programs exist to help owners and employees keep track of business expenses as they occur, so you won't be caught off guard by a stack of receipts at the end of the trip. Many banks and credit cards also offer loyalty programs with cashback and other perks for small businesses. 

3. Look into multiple forms of transportation

Transportation is one of the most expensive parts of business travel, so it's important to consider all of your options carefully. Would it be more affordable for your group to fly or to use a form of ground transportation, such as a charter bus

corporate trip
Image by Falcon Charter Bus

During the planning process, you may want to get a quote from an area charter bus company, such as Falcon Charter Bus, and then divide that quote to see whether the per-person cost is greater than or less than flying. Start your research early, because with both flights and charter buses you can often save money by booking several months in advance. 

If you do opt to fly, make sure you consider both connecting and direct flights and avoid any unnecessary upgrades. Just because you're flying for business doesn't mean you have to fly business class. However, you may not want to book a nonrefundable ticket that can't be changed just because it's cheap. The cost of canceling and booking a new ticket might outweigh the benefit of an initially inexpensive ticket. 

When you fly to your destination, you'll also need to take into account how to get your employees from the airport to the hotel and the conference center. Rental cars offer great flexibility but can also be quite expensive and require your employees to be comfortable driving in an unfamiliar city. Rideshare services might be less expensive than rentals if your employees are doing a limited amount of driving, but if you have a large group who would need many rideshares, those costs can add up as well.

For groups of more than a dozen people, a minibus rental may be one of the easiest and most efficient ways to get to all of your destinations. How much it will cost per person depends on how many days your trip lasts, how far the bus has to travel, and how many people will be on the bus, so make sure you do the math and decide which option is most affordable and convenient for you. 

4. Choose between hotels and corporate apartments

Many people automatically default to booking hotels when planning business travel, but for longer trips, renting corporate apartments may be more affordable. Major cities often have hundreds of furnished, comfortable corporate apartments to choose from. You can also request a long-term minibus to shuttle employees from their apartments to the office if you need to. 

5. Don't be afraid to have some fun

Once you've lined up all the essentials, like transportation and lodging, you may want to add some fun activities to your business trip. A group outing to a restaurant, a museum, or a sports game can bring your employees together, keep clients engaged, and get everyone excited about an upcoming business trip. If you're looking for ideas, Falcon Charter Bus has created a few sample itineraries to help you explore cities like Tampa and Miami. 

Start Planning Your Business Trip Today

Make your next work trip an exciting and productive experience for your business, not a stressful and overly expensive one. If you're willing to research and plan ahead while remaining flexible and open-minded, you can save money on your trip and still accomplish all of your business goals. And after meetings and presentations are done, don't forget to relax, bond, and have an amazing time with your team.


The Atlanta Small Business Network, from start-up to success, we are your go-to resource for small business news, information, resources.

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