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A bad situation getting worse for small businesses - Boston Herald

A bad situation getting worse for small businesses - Boston Herald

A bad situation getting worse for small businesses - Boston Herald

Posted: 13 Sep 2020 02:13 AM PDT

Small businesses in Massachusetts will be crucial to the state's economic recovery. Year after year, these companies have employed nearly half of the state's workforce, and when it comes to creating new jobs, the smallest firms add the most. They may be small, but side by side they are an economic powerhouse. As small business owners work to recoup losses from the forced shutdowns due to the coronavirus and get employees back to work, they face another imminent financial threat. New costs imposed by the state government could send them back down the rabbit hole.

Throughout this pandemic, most small businesses suffered significant losses in revenue, but the severity of that pain has been harder on some. Owners of amusement businesses like laser tag and roller-skating rinks are still ordered closed. People who arrange events or set up convention booths aren't getting clients with gathering restrictions in place. Restaurants and retailers are struggling to make a profit with capacity limits. And charter bus companies and travel agencies aren't getting bookings. Consumers remain hesitant to travel, shop or dine out.

COVID-19 and the resulting job losses led to exponential increases in unemployment claims in Massachusetts, which has been hit harder than most states. The state unemployment trust fund is insolvent and will be $2.5 billion in the red by year-end and $5 billion in debt next year. The Baker administration is borrowing from the federal government to cover ongoing benefits, and states are asking Congress to provide financial relief. But the state requires that massive depletion of the fund to be covered by employers, and that will hit small businesses hard.

As a result, unemployment taxes will rise precipitously next year to start replenishing the fund. A business owner that paid $539 for each employee in 2020 will see that cost rise to $858 next year. And it is expected to go up higher each year after. That's a steep additional cost for small businesses, which will discourage filling vacant jobs or the creation of new ones in the recovery.

That isn't the only pending hike in labor costs. In January, small business owners will also see the minimum wage jump to $13.50 per hour and that also means increasing the pay for all hourly workers — even those much higher on the pay scale.

And don't forget what labor activists referred to as the "most generous" paid family and medical leave plan passed in the nation. That also begins in January, allowing employees to be off for up to 26 weeks. Small businesses are worried whether they can juggle the workload during those long absences as they struggle to resume operations. There are higher costs too, for replacement workers and cross-training existing staff.

The loss of revenue, the added costs of personal protective equipment and continued closures or ongoing restrictions are difficult. Small business owners are doing all they can to stay afloat. But piling on increases in unemployment taxes, wages and other labor costs is too much to bear.

Lawmakers must urgently address these barriers to economic recovery now, because it's not just small business owners left dangling in the wind, it's all their employees, employees' families and the financial future of the state itself.

Christopher Carlozzi is the Massachusetts state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy association

Small business earns big honor: Hastings man named 2020 SBA Nebraska District Small Business Person of the Year - Grand Island Independent

Posted: 13 Sep 2020 06:00 AM PDT

Only $5 for 5 months

HASTINGS — A business in Hastings has earned a big honor from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBA 2020 Nebraska District Small Business Person of the Year is the owner of Innovative Prosthetics & Orthotics at 3211 W. 12th St.

Rakesh Srivistava founded his business in 2006. It provides comprehensive prosthetics, orthotics and Durable Medical Equipment services.

The SBA Nebraska District Small Business Person of the Year award recognizes exceptional business growth, job creation and resiliency.

"I'm excited to recognize Rakesh Srivistava as the SBA Nebraska Small Business Person of the Year for 2020," said SBA Nebraska District Director Leon Milobar. "Small businesses are the life blood of Nebraska's economy, and Small Business Week is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the hard work companies like Innovative Prosthetics & Orthotics perform in our local communities."

A prosthetics user himself due to a childhood accident, Srivastava began his career in a rehabilitation center in New Delhi, India. He relocated to the U.S. in the 1990s and then opened his first clinic in Hastings in 2006. He also operates clinics in Grand Island, Kearney and Omaha.

Innovative Prosthetics & Orthotics will be locally recognized in an awards ceremony at the Hastings location on Sept 25.

Srivastava specializes in prosthetics and orthotics.

Originally from India, he received his degree at National Institute of Rehabilitation Training and Research. In 1997, he moved to United States, attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney for grad school, completed his residency and soon after became an American Board Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist.

Wearing a prosthetic leg for more than 30 years, Srivastava said he is always looking to embrace innovative practices and new technologies within the industry. He also holds certification for working with microprocessor knees, scoliosis bracing and Cascade DAFO for pediatrics, among others.

Srivastava is part of a research team at the University of Nebraska at Omaha on a program called Cyborg Beast, where they are developing an affordable and innovative prosthetic hand with new forward-thinking 3D printing technology.

He has worked closely with Arumina Sinha, the first woman fitted with a prosthetic limb to successfully undertake a mountain trek. He said Sinha has inspired "millions of people along the way and showcasing that anything is possible with proper care."

Srivastava has also worked with Malvika Iyer, a bomb survivor who is well known for her social work and touching stories that went on to affect millions of lives.

He is also involved with nonprofit organizations based in India where he uses his education, talent, time and generosity to assist those who are less fortunate and may not otherwise have access to the care they need.

Since Innovative Prosthetics & Orthotics opened in 2006, the business has grown. The original 600-square-foot clinic with two employees has blossomed into a 5,600-square-foot facility with additional clinics opened in Omaha, Kearney and Grand Island, and an additional 45 employees between his Nebraska clinics and clinical centers in his native India.

The Nebraska Business Development Center, a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, has played a part in the success of the company. Srivastava sought the center's assistance in 2013 with obtaining government contracts and then again in 2015 with obtaining a state prototype grant.

NBDC consultant Sara Bennett has been working with Srivastava since 2018 to expand his current operations to include manufacturing custom-made prosthetic devices using 3-D printing technology.

"Rakesh and his team at Innovative Prosthetics & Orthotics have done an outstanding job in growing the company, providing insight to the industry, and devising innovative ways to adapt prosthetic devices in the market," Bennett said. "He is truly making an impact in improving the quality of life of amputees and prosthetic and orthotic users. Rakesh's giving spirit of improving his community of Hastings and helping to open prosthetic clinics in India further solidifies his character and exemplifies remarkable qualities of an entrepreneur."

Like other small business owners, Srivastava said the coronavirus pandemic in March both caught him by surprise and had a negative impact on his small business.

"I'm very passionate about my business and what I do, and when this pandemic happened COVID affected us a lot," Srivastava said. "Elective surgeries were closed, hospitals were reserving beds for COVID patients, and since we are a referral service our numbers went down to nothing."

He said the timing of the pandemic was also bad as he had just moved to his new Hastings location in February.

"With all the expenses that you put into your business and then all of a sudden you have no new revenues coming in, it just puts you in a pretty tight bind," he said.

Srivastava said shutting down his business was not an option. He turned to the Bank of Doniphan to apply for the SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Program loan that allowed him to keep his business going.

"We got the PPP notification and it was like an angel sent to our small business," he said. "It gave me a cushion to stand back up again. It really saved us from having to shut down the business, because I couldn't afford (to keep it running) after three to four months. We had to pay vendors, rent, and we just moved into a brand new facility with the mortgage to be paid and no income."

During the coronavirus pandemic, Srivastava continued to serve the Hastings, Omaha, Kearney and Grand Island communities. He used his 3-D printing technology to make protective pandemic masks, along with an innovative strap that secures the face mask, making it more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Receiving the SBA Small Business of the Year award means a lot, Srivastava said.

"When you start your journey, you don't know where you will end up," he said. "At some point in your life, you want to be appreciated and recognized for what you do. When you see what you have done has made an impact in not just your life, but other people's lives as well, it is very satisfying."

That is especially true for Srivastava, having been born in a small Indian village, lost his leg as a child, but then working hard, receiving the education he needed to help others, moving to the U.S. and starting his own small business in an industry dominated by large national corporate competitors.

"But I had a very strong belief that what I was going to do would make a difference in my life and other people's lives," Srivastava said. "Receiving this recognition is very encouraging for a small business person like me. If you are honest, hard working and you put your effort in and are consistent — yes, failures will be there, but just take those failures with your real time experience and you will succeed and your will be recognized and appreciated for what you have done."

The small business awards program is part of National Small Business Week, which has typically been observed the first week of May since 1963. National Small Business Week award announcements and celebrations were postponed this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. The 2020 National Small Business Week will be a virtual online event, tentatively scheduled for later this month.

"National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact entrepreneurs and small businesses have on our economy and in our local communities," said SBA Great Plains Regional Administrator Tom Salisbury. "Like many things in 2020, the journeys of this year's award winners took a turn most didn't anticipate. However, themes of ingenuity and tenacity remain the same as small business owners continue to inspire us in new and meaningful ways."

COVID Pandemic Taught Small Business These Important Cyber Security Lessons (INFOGRAPHIC) - Small Business Trends

Posted: 13 Sep 2020 06:00 AM PDT

With working from home the new norm, hackers are exploiting weaknesses in new working practices. The sharp increase in hacking and phishing activity has shone the light on the importance of cyber security.

Exploring the risks surfacing in the post-COVID economy, Data Connectors have compiled an infographic. Data Connectors are providers of the largest cyber security community in the US. The 'Cybersecurity for the Post-Covid Economy' infographic looks at the cyber security risks the pandemic has exposed. It looks at how businesses can make cyber security improvements to protect their tech and data.

COVID Cyber Security Lessons for Small Business

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed working practices, perhaps indefinitely. Remote work is now a common part of the workplace. Research shows 1 in 3 employees believe cyber security of their company is a moderate or major issue.

With hacking and other cyber crime on the rise, it is vital small businesses take cyber security seriously. Protecting systems, networks and devices are important in the race against cyber crime on businesses.

As Itai Sel, CEO of Naval Dome, comments for Data Connectors' infographic:

"Companies are stretched thin and this is benefitting the hacker. It is not sufficient to protect only networks from the attack. Each individual system must be protected. If networks are penetrated, then all connected systems will be infected."

The Threat of Coronavirus-Related Cyber Attacks

In March and April 2020, more than 192,000 COVID-related cyber attacks were reported each week. This is a 30% increase in the number of reported cyber-attacks compared to pre-coronavirus.

Why Business are at a Greater Risk

The infographic asks why businesses are at a greater risk of falling victim to cyber crime. It cites the large-scale growth of working from home, customer-facing networks, and online cloud services as being exploited by cyber criminals.

What COVID Teaches Us About Cyber Crime and Security

According to Data Connectors' research, cyberattacks can spread at nine times the rate of Covid-19. They can also lie dormant for months while they spread.

The economic impact of a digital shutdown could be immense, the infographic warns. For example, a digital virus with the same virulence as Covid-19 could brick or wipe 20 million infected devices.

The Challenges of Recovering from Digital Destruction

The infographic warns that tech companies could struggle to meet the surge in demand of a digital shutdown. Failing to keep up with demand could grind the economy to a halt.

Threat of Cyber Pandemics

The research points to the threat of 'cyberpandemics' and that future pandemics could be cyber-related. Such pandemics could spread faster and further than a biological virus, with an equal or even greater economic impact. A global loss of internet would cost $50 billion per day, says the infographic.

Improvements Small Businesses Can Make to Protect Themselves

Since February 2020, there has been a 600% increase in phishing. 67% of businesses have experienced an IoT security incident. 55% of organizations plan to increase IT/OT alignment.

As businesses continue to work from home, security polices and procedures must be implemented to reflect the shift. Such policies and procedures should include disaster recovery plans. Having a business disaster plan in place, is one of the best ways to prepare for disasters of all kinds.

The infographic advises businesses to adjust insurance coverage to incorporate cyber risk. New policies should also be put int place for mobile security and bring-your-own- devices.

Businesses should also consider increasing bandwidth to move teleconferencing between sites. Secure VPN access should be established for employee workstations. Data should be monitors by adding a cloud access security broker. Network-level authentication should be made part of remote desk protocols.

Company-issued devices need to be managed centrally with remote monitoring, opposed to assigning administrative privileges to end-users.

In the 'new' business climate, businesses need to be more vigilant than ever about the risks of cyber crime.

LimeAid Virtual Conference Addresses Pandemic Challenges for Small Business - Small Business Trends

Posted: 12 Sep 2020 12:00 PM PDT

freshlime lime aid virtual conference 2020

FreshLime presents its annual LimeAid conference this coming Friday, Sept. 18 and it's a chance to network with fellow small business owners and learn from some of the top small business experts in the US today.

Attendees to this FREE one-day virtual conference deals with running a business during the coronavirus pandemic and situating your company for future success. Topics to be discussed include connecting with customers, improving your work culture and positive leadership.

One of featured speakers at LimeAid 2020 is Small Business Trends publisher Anita Campbell. She'll dispel the myth that small business websites are a dying trend and how they can actually help you stay better connected with your customers.

Other featured speakers include:

  • Jay Bean, CEO of FreshLime
  • Brian Cammack, VP of Human Resources at Marriott International
  • Brigham Dickinson, President of Power Selling Pros
  • Larry Furr, Chief Product Officer at Canopy

Be sure to register for this exciting event by hitting the button below. And don't forget to check out all the other exciting small business events in our calendar listing below. Many of them you can attend for free from the comfort of your desk chair.

Register Now

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Educational Webinar: Converting Visitors to LeadsEducational Webinar: Converting Visitors to Leads
September 16, 2020, Online

Learn best practices for optimizing webforms and CTAs in order to maximize the number of visitor conversions on their site.

Free Webinar | New Rules of Marketing: Creating Stand-Out ContentFree Webinar | New Rules of Marketing: Creating Stand-Out Content
September 17, 2020, Online

Join us for a panel discussion with digital marketing leaders from LinkedIn, Chobani, La Colombe, and Unbounce on their content strategies, the ideal content mix, and their top tips for finding, growing, and engaging digital audiences. #BrainStation

LimeAid Virtual Conference 2020LimeAid Virtual Conference 2020
September 18, 2020, Online

LimeAid 2020 is a FREE one-day virtual event during which small businesses will learn the most effective and efficient ways to connect with their customers, improve work culture, implement positive leadership and grow their business during this "new normal" Coronavirus era. In addition, this event will provide networking opportunities where attendees can interact, ask questions, and give feedback.

Getting Started with Zoho OneGetting Started with Zoho One
September 23, 2020, Online

In this presentation, we will walk through an overview of Zoho One using real case studies from Zoho customers to demonstrate different ways Zoho One can support your business.

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs and Communities in the Zoho EcosystemOpportunities for Entrepreneurs and Communities in the Zoho Ecosystem
September 29, 2020, Online, Facebook – Small Business Trends

How familiar are you with the Zoho ecosystem and the opportunities it opens? Join us on Facebook at Small Business Trends as host Brent Leary speaks with Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu along with Zoho Chief Evangelist Raju Vegesna and Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends to learn what the Zoho ecosystem is, and how it's much more than using software and apps. Learn about the many opportunities for businesses to create revenue streams, create jobs and improve their communities. And learn how to leverage the opportunities Zoho has to offer.

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.

November 12, 2020, Online

LinkUpConferenceShow (LUCS) is a digital networking conference that merges the incredibly dynamic worlds of tech and comedy to provide informative and personalized networking opportunities designed to help executives, entrepreneurs, business leaders and tech professionals grow and scale their businesses. LUCS is the tech conference that combines Silicon Valley insights with New York's nonstop energy to bring the technology community a totally new virtual experience designed to inspire, engage and entertain.

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.

Registration open for Small Business Week’s virtual events - ABC27

Posted: 13 Sep 2020 05:30 AM PDT

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — The shooting of two Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies in an apparent ambush prompted a manhunt for the shooter, reaction from the president and protests outside the hospital where the wounded deputies were being treated Saturday night in California.

The 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy both underwent surgery Saturday evening, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a late-night news conference. Both had recently graduated from the academy 14, he said.


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