Slack Is Giving You Back Your Weekends…And Other Small Business Tech News - Forbes

Slack Is Giving You Back Your Weekends…And Other Small Business Tech News - Forbes


Slack Is Giving You Back Your Weekends…And Other Small Business Tech News - Forbes

Posted: 12 Jul 2020 04:00 AM PDT

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Slack is now letting you choose when you get notifications on a per-day basis.       

Slack will now allow users to select when they receive notifications day-by-day, providing the option to limit or stop receiving pings on the weekends. Users will now be allowed to determine when they want to receive notifications as well as select an option to keep from getting pinged on certain days all together. When users decide to turn off their notifications, a "z" will appear next to their name in Slack, indicating that they are on DND (Do Not Disturb). People will still be able to send users messages and notifications while in those mode, they just will not be notified. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

Over the years I've badgered business owners that turn off their devices on weekends or on vacation. And I still believe that. When you run a business you need to be available 24/7. I know there's life-balance needed, but this is what you signed up for. However, that doesn't necessarily apply to your employees, particularly those working hard from home all the time. They need time off and should be allowed to take the "z" on a weekend.

2 — Notarize and DocuSign are growing and expanding in light of the pandemic.

Notarize and DocuSign both seem to be thriving in the era of COVID-19 and social distancing. Notarize— which is a tool that allows businesses and customers to digitally notarize and sign formal documents— recently raised $35 million and has seen a 400% increase in activity since the pandemic broke. Similarly— DocuSign— which has long been a leader in providing legitimate, digital signatures on official documents, is in the process of integrating online notary services as one of their main products through their purchase of Liveoak Technologies, which is a video conferencing platform that provides additional tools to help verify identity remotely. (Source: GeekWire)

Why this is important for your business:

This is a service that's been needed for a while but has been slow in coming to market. But, thanks to Covid-19 and working remotely we're finally getting more mainstream tools to get our documents notarized instead of standing in line at the auto tags place or persuading a notary friend with a bottle of wine to do it for us.

3 —Venmo is piloting their Business Profile feature to showcase small businesses.

Venmo has announced that they will be rolling out a pilot version of their Business Profile feature in order to help small businesses dealing with economic hardships brought on by COVID-19. With the new feature, users will be able to utilize a distinct QR code as part of their POS (point of sale) in order to help the ease of contactless payments. (Source: Retail Dive)

Why this is important for your business:

With big-name companies such as Amazon and Walmart utilizing contactless payments, Venmo will allow smaller businesses to also keep up through this feature. With over 52 million people using Venmo, the company hopes that the Business Profile feature will help small businesses take advantage of their large network without having a large budget for advertising.

4 — Mmhmm turns your boring Zoom calls into a Weekend Update-style TV show.  

Mmhmm— a computer camera company whose product can be coupled with YouTube, Google Meet, and Zoom— has raised $4.5 million. The camera's app allows users of the mentioned video chat software to turn meeting rooms into a virtual broadcast studio or stage, not only offering virtual and animated backgrounds, but a TV show-style feature. Users using the app and camera have the ability to change the position of their face, other images, while adding other special effects and features making simple video calls look more like a Weekend Update segment on Saturday Night Live. Users will be able to collaborate presentations with other users as well. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

Now that we're getting used to online meetings, the smarter corporate and public presenters will be looking for tools that help communicate their ideas in a more entertaining, user-friendly manner. Expectations for online meetings will go up and the bar will be raised. Mmhmm is a cool app to try if only that it will help your audience stay awake and actually listen to what you're saying.

5— The demand for employee surveillance software is soaring.    

A recent study has revealed that employers are becoming more and more interested in software that helps track employees and their productivity when working from home. Since April, employers have greatly increased their internet searches for queries such as "how to monitor employees working from home" and "work from home monitoring tools" by 87% as compared to before the pandemic hit. According to the study, the unease employers feel with the lack of control and unfamiliarity with having employees work remotely is the main reason behind the spike in searches.  (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

I don't like it and I don't recommend it. If you're making the right hires, you should be confident that your employees can do their jobs and complete their tasks in a professional and independent manner without you surveilling them. You've got better things to do with your time then babysit your work from employees. What is this, pre-school?

Business owner reports COVID-19 small business grant fraud: Rocky River Police Blotter - cleveland.com

Posted: 11 Jul 2020 09:26 AM PDT

Rocky River, Ohio 

Fraud, Center Ridge Road

On June 29 a business owner reported that an unknown person had obtained a small business grant in connection with COVID-19 using the business' information fraudulently.  

Rocky River police officer badge

Kids are treated to Christmas shopping and lunch with Santa with police officers.

Hit/skip

On July 3 the Lakewood Police Department reported that their officers pulled a car over and the driver was arrested for drunken driving. The driver, a 62-year-old Lakewood man, had heavy damage to his car and a witness had reported that the man hit a pole on Wooster Road. Rocky River police officers found damage to a wooden pole and car parts along the curb. The officers responded to Lakewood where they found the man's car that had a piece of wood sticking out of the passenger side door.  The car parts found near the damaged pole also matched the man's car.  He was cited.

Thefts

On July 4 several unlocked cars throughout the city were entered overnight. A resident also reported a bike, valued at $800,  was taken from his garage on Endsley Avenue. 

Read more news from the West Shore Sun

Northeast travel restrictions add to small business owners' struggles - KPQ

Posted: 11 Jul 2020 04:20 PM PDT

gregobagel/iStockBy ARIELLE MITROPOULOS, ABC NEWS

(BOSTON) — Every year, more than 20 million visitors flock to Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which, after being closed for several months, reopened July 1.

But for the first time in its nearly 300-year history, it's largely empty.

"There is no foot traffic," business owner Sara Youngelson told ABC News. "It is so far and few between, it's just been really, really tough."

For Youngelson, who owns five businesses in the Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market area, the past five months have been some of the most difficult of her 30-year career as a merchant in the historic marketplace

Many merchants and shop owners across the Northeast were optimistic that reopening later in the summer could help offset economic damage caused by the pandemic, but with newly instated state travel restrictions affecting tourism, many are no longer as hopeful.

As novel coronavirus cases surged across the country, Massachusetts and seven other Northeast states — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey — implemented a 14-day self-quarantines, albeit with regulations that varied by state.

"Tourism is a major part of our business," Youngelson explained. "We rely on the tour buses, we rely on planes coming in at Logan Airport. We rely on trains, we rely on cruise ships."

The new restrictions have only further reduced the number of tourists, who, from mid-May through October, help generate most of the revenue for these businesses.

There are nearly 150 businesses in Faneuil Hall, mostly small businesses. Many already have closed or are facing a "bleak future," according to Youngelson, who said her sales down 88%, on average, compared with last year.

Small businesses have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with many forced to lay off employees as bills and rent payments mounted. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research projects that about 2% of U.S. small businesses, approximately 100,000, have permanently closed since the pandemic ramped up in March.

In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, travelers from states with high rates of COVID-19 are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

"As states around the country experience increasing community spread, New York is taking action to ensure the continued safety of our phased reopening," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. "Our entire response to this pandemic has been by the numbers, and we've set metrics for community spread just as we set metrics for everything."

Similarly, although although Maine has lifted its 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from five states — New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — people arriving from Massachusetts and Rhode Island still must quarantine upon arrival.

Maine typically sees some 22 million summer tourists, who help account for 17% of the state's employment. More than a third of those visitors, especially day-trippers, were from Massachusetts in 2019.

Popular destinations such as Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island, for which tourism is "the lifeblood of the economy," are really struggling, said Alf Anderson, executive director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

"Overall, most seasonal businesses are reporting losses in the neighborhood of 70% to 75% compared to 2019, and are just hoping to be able to hold on and be around for a fresh start in 2021," Anderson told ABC News.

Not all business owners see eye-to-eye on coronavirus-related safety measures.

Joe Minutolo, co-owner of Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop, said that although business has slowed he "respects what the state has come up with."

But Jean Ochtera, who co-owns Innat Bay Ledge Inn in Bar Harbor with her husband, Jack, strongly disagrees with the steps taken by Gov. Janet Mills, saying she's "being unrealistic."

"There are many families who are losing everything, who no longer have a livelihood. They can't support their children," Ochtera told ABC News. "I understand our key cases will increase if Governor Mills opens up the state, but at least it will give some viability."

Much of the money these businesses earn during the summer sustains them throughout the winter, explained Ochtera, who said she's only making about 20% of what she earned in 2019.

"I have returned over $60,000 by the first of May for summer reservations. We can never make up the losses," she added.

A spokeswoman for Mills said in a statement to ABC News, in part, that the governor "is working hard to protect the health of Maine people and ensure that our state is a safe place for people to visit this summer. She, too, is deeply concerned about our economy, but she can think of nothing more devastating than an outbreak or resurgence of this deadly, untreatable virus during the height of tourism season."

Other states nearby still are uncertain about the long-term economic consequences.

Among the nearly a dozen small businesses along the Jersey Shore contacted by ABC News, many reported that while some local customers had returned, overall foot traffic remained down.

"People would rather stay home and barbecue," said Julia Kurdyla, manager of the Country Kettle Fudge shop in Beach Haven.

Caroline Ranoia, who owns the speciality soap store Blue Eden in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, told ABC News that it has been especially difficult because "90% of my customers are tourists."

"We have a really short season — it's only about 10 weeks for us to really make our money," she added.

Josephine Guarnaccia, a long-time innkeeper at the Mermaid Inn, in Mystic, Connecticut, told ABC News she's seeing about a third as many visitors compared to normal levels.

Randy Fiveash, Director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, told ABC News that the state's leisure and hospitality industry was the sector hardest hit by the pandemic. However, he said that although tough decisions about travel advisories had to be made, he is "cautiously optimistic" that tourism will come back in the long run.

Back in Boston, Youngelson remains concerned, particularly for many families who own businesses in Faneuil Hall Marketplace have done so for generations.

"It is going to be very difficult to stay afloat if this continues," she said. "I don't know how many people are going to be able to keep their doors open."

Copyright (C) 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brush Up on TikTok Marketing at Upcoming Online Event - Small Business Trends

Posted: 11 Jul 2020 09:30 AM PDT

tiktok marketing

If you think TikTok is just for the kids … well, you may be partly right. It's definitely a social media platform for younger generations.

But they're consumers, too. And they could be interested in your brand, if only they knew about it.

An upcoming free online event may help you learn more about TikTok and what it can do for your brand. On July 22, you can check out the online event "How Brands are Winning on TikTok" and see for yourself.

The event promises advice from people who've "mastered" TikTok and know what sort of strategies there can work for a small business like yours. And the best part … it's free!

To learn more and register for this free online event, click the link below.

Register Now





Featured Events, Contests and Awards

And don't forget to check out all these other great small business events coming up in the near future.

Fostering Girls in STEM to be Women in Tech Fostering Girls in STEM to be Women in Tech
July 15, 2020, Chicago, IL

How can we create an environment, in both schools and businesses, which encourages women to enter and advance in the tech field? This event will focus on opportunities in Chicago to engage young girls in STEM education and prepare them for studies and careers in technology. Whether you are a parent, child, manager, or CEO – our discussion will bring relevant insight for all.


How Brands Are Winning on TikTok, Free Online EventHow Brands Are Winning on TikTok, Free Online Event
July 22, 2020, Online

Join in this chat with global digital marketing leaders who have mastered TikTok, as they share what kind of content and marketing strategies can increase growth and brand engagement on this ever popular platform.


Small Business Expo 2020 - BOSTONSmall Business Expo 2020 – BOSTON
August 13, 2020, Boston, MA

Small Business Expo is the most anticipated business-to-business networking & educational event, trade show & conference for business owners, entrepreneurs, start-ups, decision-makers or anyone who works for a small business or is interested in starting a Small Business. Small Business Expo is a FREE one-day event to attend for small businesses to network, attend great business-growth workshops, build new business relationships, exchange ideas, shop from new vendors and learn from leading industry experts.


Small Business Expo 2020 - PHILADELPHIASmall Business Expo 2020 – PHILADELPHIA
October 28, 2020, Philadelphia, PA

Small Business Expo is a FREE one-day event to attend for small businesses to network, attend great business-growth workshops, build new business relationships, exchange ideas, shop from new vendors and learn from leading industry experts. If you are serious about starting or growing your business, Small Business Expo is a "must attend" event. Small Business Expo is the #1 Business to Business Networking Event for business owners, entrepreneurs, start-ups, decision-makers or anyone who works for a small business or is interested in starting a Small Business.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.


SBA Provided $20 Billion to Small Businesses and Non-Profits Through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Program - PRNewswire

Posted: 11 Jul 2020 04:53 PM PDT

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced the conclusion and success of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance program, which provided U.S. small businesses, non-profits and agricultural businesses a total of $20 billion in emergency funding.  In order to assist the greatest number of small businesses, the EIDL Advance provided $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.  Recipients did not have to be approved for a loan to receive the Advance, and the Advance provided an interim but vital source of funds while applicants awaited a decision on their loan application. 

"Following the enactment of COVID-19 emergency legislation, the SBA provided nearly six million small businesses employing 30.5 million people with $20 billion through the unprecedented EIDL Advance program," Administrator Jovita Carranza said.  "This program, built from the ground up in less than two weeks, assisted millions of small businesses, including non-profit organizations, sole proprietors and independent contractors, from a wide array of industries and business sectors."

Having allocated the full $20 billion that was appropriated by Congress, SBA will discontinue making EIDL Advances to new applicants.  By law, the SBA is not permitted to issue new EIDL Advances once all program funding has been obligated. 

EIDL loan applications will still be processed even though the Advance is no longer available.   As a reminder, the loan portion of the EIDL program continues to have funds available at very affordable terms, including a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin.  Every eligible small business and non-profit is encouraged to apply to get the resources they need.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.­

Contact: [email protected], (202) 205-7036
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs & Instagram 
Release Number: 20-56    

SOURCE U.S. Small Business Administration

Related Links

http://www.sba.gov

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