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U.S. States and Metros Hit the Hardest by the Drop in Oil Prices

oil prices

U.S. States and Metros Hit the Hardest by the Drop in Oil Prices

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent the world economy into turmoil as lockdowns around the world have caused economic activity to grind to a halt. The demand for oil has crashed in the wake of the growing pandemic, sending oil prices diving and even dipping below $0 per barrel. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. employs close to 130,000 people in the oil and gas extraction industry. Many of these workers now face uncertain employment.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from the last two decades shows that employment in the oil and gas sector tends to rise and fall with crude oil prices. Price drops in 2014 resulting from oil surpluses caused the oil and gas sector to shed roughly a third of its workforce. Today, the pandemic combined with a lack of storage capacity for excess oil have caused the price to fall sharply again—a trend that threatens thousands of jobs.

The concentration of oil and gas extraction workers varies widely by location. At the state level, Oklahoma and Wyoming have the highest concentrations of workers in oil and gas extraction at 7.7 and 6.7 times the national average respectively. Texas, with a relative concentration of 5.8 times the national average, boasts the largest number of total oil and gas workers of any state. Many states such as Hawaii, Maine, and Rhode Island don’t produce oil or natural gas and have no employees reported by the Census Bureau.

To find the metropolitan areas hit hardest by the drop in oil prices, researchers at Construction Coverage used data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the relative concentration of employment in the oil and gas extraction industry. Researchers also looked at the total number of oil and gas extraction workers, the median earnings for those workers, and cost of living. To improve relevance and accuracy, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis.

Here are the 25 major U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of oil and gas workers:

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results for all major metros and U.S. states, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/cities-hit-hardest-by-drop-in-oil-prices

Report republished with permission

pandemic

How ‘No-Excuse’ Leadership Can Help Businesses Succeed After the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown created an uncertain future for businesses across the country.

Regardless of this rocky situation, though, the best business leaders will make sure they don’t allow the pandemic to become an excuse for failure, says Troy Nix (www.troynix.com), a motivational speaker, businessman and author of Eternal Impact: Inspire Greatness in Yourself and Others.

“I admire leaders who don’t complain about circumstances or point the finger at someone or something else,” says Nix, founder and CEO of First Resource Inc., an association management company specializing in manufacturing networks.

No, business leaders didn’t create the circumstances that led to the pandemic and its aftermath, but it is their responsibility to get their businesses and their people through the challenges they now face, he says.

“Whenever you’re leading an organization, the ultimate responsibility for any failure is yours,” Nix says. “It may be because you failed to train people properly or because you failed to hire the right person. It may be because you failed to develop a proper strategy or because you failed to develop the right culture. It’s ultimately your failure, and no excuse can ever absolve you of the responsibility of personal ownership.”

This is a mindset Nix learned in his days as a West Point cadet, where excuses were not allowed. To be successful in the coming months, he says, business leaders need to:

Set an example. Ultimately, you would like everyone in your organization to take responsibility and refuse to make excuses. “But you can’t expect that if you aren’t willing to set the example and claim responsibility for any failures yourself,” Nix says. “The best leaders take the high road and there’s no throwing anyone under the bus. Setting an example will have a constant impact on your employees, and they will know they can rely on you and depend on you.”

Do a little introspection. Nix says that, if you feel the urge to make an excuse for any failed business performance, look inward instead and ask yourself the following questions: Could I have acted differently to prevent this outcome? What could I have done to better improve the end result? How did my actions or inactions play a part in the failure? “I guarantee that if you do this and are honest with yourself, you will inevitably find a linkage for errors, disappointments, and fiascos directly back to yourself,” he says.

Take ownership. People don’t understand just how much they affect others when they make the decision to take responsibility for any and all actions. “We must own what we do, and we have to own what others under our command or influence do, even though it might be miles away from us and somebody else is executing the plan,” Nix says. “When you get up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror, are you owning what you are doing, or are you making excuses?”

“Making excuses – whether it’s in the crisis we now face or some other situation – will lead to dead ends,” Nix says. “I’ve seen time and time again that when people take control of their lives and eliminate the excuses, a life of excellence and fulfillment is the end result.”

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Troy Nix (www.troynix.com), author of Eternal Impact: Inspire Greatness in Yourself and Others, is the founder, president, and CEO of First Resource, Inc., an innovative association management company for America’s manufacturers. Nix, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in the armed forces for a decade before moving into the business world.

agility

How Modern Services Enable Agility, Elasticity and Mobility in an Enterprise

Organizations across the globe have been tirelessly working on improving their agility and scalability. Due to a sudden change in the business landscape caused by COVID-19, business leaders suddenly found themselves having to rise to the call to action. The results are staggering – the unanticipated impact and pace of the global spread of COVID-19 caught businesses off guard. Many failed to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances as they were not well-equipped in their ability to scale down impacted resources and operations in response to a halt in customer demand. Some were just not ready to operate their businesses 100% remotely.

Conversely, in sectors such as healthcare and other essential services, several organizations could not keep up with the unexpected rise in demand as they lacked means to quickly ramp up their operations. Most of these companies that could not adapt to the changing circumstances had one or all the three critical traits of the modern enterprise ecosystem missing – agility, elasticity, or mobility.

In this article, we’ll discuss how organizations can make their ecosystem agile and elastic and support mobility – and how these qualities are going to help organizations scale their businesses in the long run.

The role of elastic services in business agility

In today’s world, businesses are faced with a variety of challenges that require they quickly adapt resources to address a dynamically changing environment. After the pandemic declaration, organizations found themselves having to provision new remote working solutions in a matter of hours. Monolithic application architectures are designed for a certain level of capacity. Sudden changes in demand add stress to existing resources, such as a rise in network utilization due to the entire workforce requiring VPN connectivity to on-premise applications. These networks may have never seen these levels of utilization before, and therefore, become bottlenecked, resulting in poor user experience or worse, slow mobilization of resources toward an urgent demand.

Adapting elastic services to actual demand

In other situations, agility is needed to pivot and re-invest resources away from impacted operations or loss in demand. An organization can consume elastic services and managed services to deploy the minimum resources needed to service actual demand. Managed services providers can help business units in distress with predictable, recurring services at fixed annual terms, which allows leaders to re-prioritize full-time staff members to newer product lines or more strategic initiatives. A well-positioned product organization with a properly designed Cloud-Native Architecture can auto scale with the minimum resources needed to run an application and scale out to meet the demands of a growth spurt.

Source: AWS

Flexible, collaborative, and secure digital spaces enable enterprise mobility

In addition to agility and elasticity, the third critical requirement that came to the spotlight during the recent crisis is enterprise mobility. Previously, IT leaders have elected to utilize digital workspaces as a flexible benefit to augment in-person activities with remote capabilities, such as the occasional work from home. However, it was not until the current crisis that several organizations looked at full-scale enterprise mobility as highly differentiating, if not mission-critical to success.

However, full-scale enterprise mobility is not a switch that one can just flip. It needs technological, cultural, and behavioral changes. The workforce, particularly newer generation workers prefer to work from home and operate more on results, rather than “working a shift.” Managed services providers can help businesses design a flexible remote setup that can be further leveraged to drive a culture of collaboration.

How to implement elastic services: The three-step approach

Given the requirements of each business are different, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to ensure the successful implementation of elastic services and guarantee agility, elasticity and mobility in an enterprise ecosystem. However, following the three-step process described below helps organizations design a custom implementation plan suited to their needs.

Step 1 – Discover: Identify the business goals the organization is trying to achieve by implementing these services and the potential risks that can jeopardize the effort.

Step 2 – Analyze: Analyze the business goals and map them to the desired outcomes. Perform capabilities assessment against the current architecture – mapping out demand versus usage patterns and identifying the opportunities for modernization.

Step 3 – Plan: Define the implementation roadmap. Enterprises can choose the buy, build or partner route to implement and operationalize a modern enterprise ecosystem.

Elastic services make businesses risk-tolerant and sustainable

Setting up modern infrastructure and developing it to an enterprise-level, especially during this time of crisis, is a demanding task. However, enterprises must not look at this exercise to combat only the current crisis. An agile, elastic and mobile enterprise ecosystem helps companies tackle new initiatives with less worry. Consumption friendly elastic services can allow organizations to pay-as-you-go with minimal up-front investment costs. This ability allows organizations that can mobilize with high agility a competitive advantage in the experimentation of new initiatives or expansion to new markets while having a risk-managed auto-scaling architecture to turn down resources to what’s minimally needed to keep a foot in the game. Most importantly, the decision to fail fast and stop investing becomes more attainable and less regrettable.

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Joey Lei is the director of service management at Synoptek, a global systems integrator and managed services provider. Prior to joining Synoptek, he was a lead product manager for Dell EMC’s Data Protection Division. Lei managed product lines contributing half a billion in annual product revenues and was a founding product manager for Dell EMC PowerProtect Data Manager, Dell EMC’s newest generation data protection and data management solution. 

Email address: jlei@synoptek.com

coronavirus

How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Diversified UK Business

As the Coronavirus pandemic has altered our ways of living and working – potentially for good – it has sent shockwaves through areas of UK business previously thought untouchable.

The thriving food and hospitality sector has steadily grown over recent years but faces an uncertain future as social distancing becomes a new norm of everyday life.

Of course, some industries have enjoyed something of a boon during the lockdown as their products, services, and expertise have come to the fore, or been adapted to suit the needs of the population.

How have businesses altered their offering?

Many eateries have kept afloat by switching their sit-down service to take-out or delivery, while robotic delivery of food and drink in Milton Keynes could offer a glimpse into the future of the industry, long after Covid-19’s grip on our daily lives has subsided.

The airline industry has been similarly decimated as planes have been grounded but swapping passengers for cargo has allowed some to maintain business.

Land-based delivery services have thrived, especially those connected to online shopping, like our trips to the high street or retail centers have been curtailed by the lockdown.

This has not come without the need for a change to regular services, however, with health and safety now more paramount, businesses have needed to be agile in swiftly adapting sanitary and sterile methods of delivery especially when dealing with at-risk customers.

Can businesses help in the fight against Coronavirus?

Some of the biggest swings in business have seen entities completely change their line of work in a bid to help fight the virus.

Producing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, and gloves, has become a priority for many textile companies.

In the bid to build more hospital equipment, Formula 1 teams used their engineering might take on the task. World champion outfit Mercedes produced a ventilator which was used in a trial by the NHS and made the plans freely available for other manufacturers to build their own versions.

As the need for clear public communication has risen, printing business instant print was marked as NHS supply chain critical, producing an adapted product range including posters, signage, floor stickers and more to be used in a host of healthcare settings.

Will UK businesses recover after Coronavirus?

This is a tricky question to answer, as to how our daily lives will look once the pandemic subsides remains a grey area.

As scientific exploration into the virus continues, the threat of a ‘second wave’ of illnesses sweeping the world is set to make the resumption of our previous ways of life something that is implemented slowly, if indeed some things we used to take for granted ever do return to our daily routines.

Work settings may change, infrastructure will likely have to be adapted to suit a more socially distant population. How crowds gathering in shops, restaurants, bars, concerts, sporting events and more will be managed is almost impossible to predict as simply containing the virus still remains the highest priority.

As some countries begin to tentatively emerge from lockdown and try to get to grips with a ‘new normal’, the world will look to the likes of Australia and New Zealand for cues, while China has also looked to restore many of the social liberties that were taken away when the virus began to spread in its Hubei province.

If your business has been impacted by the Coronavirus, perhaps some of the examples above can help guide you through the rocky times or inspire a change of direction that may bring greater success once the pandemic passes.

history factory

History Factory Launches COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project

Collaborative resource collects, curates and preserves the corporate response to COVID-19 to inform future crisis response

The COVID-19 pandemic has required that corporations respond, adapt, lead, and serve others with greater urgency than any other global event since World War II. As a result, corporations are making history and learning lessons in real-time that can inform a stronger corporate response to the next major global disruption. To make those lessons more readily available, History Factory is launching the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project, a living archival resource to which business leaders can turn for a greater understanding of the corporate response to the current crisis as well as for insight and guidance for how to prepare for and respond effectively to the next crisis.

The COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project is a free and collaborative resource designed to collect, curate, and preserve the real-time history of the pandemic as it is being made by corporations who are responding to the crisis and influencing its outcome.

At c19corporatememory.org, History Factory is combining crowdsourced content from corporate contributors with publicly available media coverage, press releases, social media posts and statements, documents, photography, video and a range of other digital materials related to the pandemic’s impact on the business world. The material is organized in four categories that reflect the realms in which corporations are responding to the pandemic, listed here with an example from each:

-The Changing Nature of Work: Ford engineers continue to work on the new Mustang in their home garages.

-Fighting the Pandemic: New Balance pivots to produce a general-use face mask.

-Leading in a Crisis:  Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford confident of food production but warns of distribution issues.

-Service and Community: Starbucks fights hunger.

The Project’s primary focus is on collecting content from large corporations and has already curated more than 300 assets from such corporations as Airbnb, Kimberly-Clark, Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Uber, and The Walt Disney Company. How these enterprises respond and adapt to the global pandemic will be critical to shaping its outcome, politically, technologically, and socially. The goal is to extract learning from their experiences.

Laurie Barnett, Southwest Airlines’ Managing Director, Communications & Outreach, said:

“By contributing to the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project we can help other corporate executives learn from our experience of the pandemic. And we hope that many other corporations will participate so that we can learn from them. It would be a shame for us as leaders to work so hard to overcome this unprecedented moment without capturing – in a way that can benefit us all – the real-time decisions, innovations and contributions we are making as we rise to meet this challenge.”

Eliot Mizrachi, Vice President, Communications & Content at Page, said:

“Communication leaders on the front lines of their organizations’ pandemic response are hungry for best practices. The COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project is a unique sharing platform that can help corporate leaders find out how others are navigating this historic crisis. I encourage communicators to contribute.”

Jason Dressel, Managing Director at History Factory, said:

“History Factory decided to create the COVID-19 Corporate Memory Project as a pro bono service to provide leaders, corporate communicators, and journalists with easy access to a real-time archive of content focused solely on how corporations are responding to one of the greatest challenges in modern history. With forty years in the business of collecting, curating, and communicating corporate experience, we understand how a resource that showcases lessons learned from this pandemic can help business leaders drive strategy and business planning going forward. We will continue to add to this Project as long as COVID-19 is driving corporate behavior. We hope that it will become an important source of study for years to come.”

History Factory welcomes submissions from all corners of the media and business world. Visit c19corporatememory.org and click SUBMIT to contribute content to the archive or to contact History Factory regarding bulk submissions or very large files.

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Founded in 1979, History Factory is an agency that helps corporations employ their most underused assets – their history and heritage – to enhance and transform strategy, brand positioning, marketing, and communications that drive measurable results.

regulatory

White House Issues Executive Order Providing Agencies with Regulatory Enforcement Discretion to Promote Economic Recovery

The Trump Administration issued its Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery (the “EO”) on May 19, 2020 (Executive Order). The EO seeks to remedy the economic impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by removing certain administrative barriers and providing flexibility in the implementation and enforcement of other administrative provisions and requirements.

Although certain provisions of the EO are vague, Section 1 states the EO’s policy that “Agencies should address this economic emergency by rescinding, modifying, waiving, or providing exemptions from regulations and other requirements that may inhibit economic recovery, consistent with applicable law and with protection of the public health and safety, with national and homeland security, and with budgetary priorities and operational feasibility.”

Section 4 of the EO asks the heads of all federal government agencies to “temporarily or permanently rescind, modify, waive, or exempt persons or entities” from regulatory standards “that may inhibit economic recovery.”  Significantly, Section 5(b) of the EO gives agency heads the discretion to “decline enforcement against persons and entities that have attempted in reasonable good faith to comply with applicable statutory and regulatory standards, including those persons and entities acting in conformity with a pre-enforcement ruling.”  (Emphasis added.)

Of course, agencies must act within their statutory and regulatory frameworks and must also comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, but the EO potentially has broad implications across sectors and agencies, including for international trade.  As an example of how this EO might affect certain trade issues, consider the following:

-Importers should not expect to be exempted from exercising reasonable care, paying duties, participating in antidumping or countervailing duty investigations,  or complying with any other CBP, Commerce or ITC statutory or regulatory requirements.  Per Section 5(b) of the EO, Agency heads have enforcement discretion “as permitted by law,” meaning agency heads cannot override a statute, even if they believe that doing so would aid economic recovery. However, for matters that have already been placed within the “enforcement discretion” of an agency, the government has the ability to be more lenient in accordance with the EO. For instance, an agency could seek to enforce minimum penalties within a range of statutory options, although the agency could not ignore statutory requirements altogether.

-Similarly, if CBP discovered that certain imported apparel violated CPSC lead content standards, CBP and the CPSC could extend a more lenient resolution by permitting the shipment to be reconditioned or reexported rather than destroyed.

Another potential question is how evenly any leniency in trade and customs matters will be applied since the Trump administration has made tariffs and restrictions on Chinese imports and exports a pillar of its political platform. Because of the broad nature of the EO and because any action will be at the agency head’s discretion, we reiterate that it is difficult to determine the EO’s exact effects at this time. However, we can expect that affected companies and individuals will seek to use the flexibility and leniency provisions of the EO, effective immediately.

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Robert Stang is a Washington, D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s Customs group.

Jeffrey Neeley is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s International Trade Remedies team.

Julia Banegas is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

 Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

paradigm shift

Will COVID-19 Spark a Paradigm Shift for Businesses?

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the global economy and reshaping businesses in lasting ways. According to our own research, the U.S. economy is expected to see a sharp recession for the first half of 2020, likely to be followed by a U-shaped recovery. What’s more, the number of business bankruptcies is expected to increase by 25% and unemployment is likely to surpass 20% in the next few months.

As governments, leaders and industries around the globe grapple with the effects of the pandemic, one thing is certain: the fragility of businesses has been exposed. The question we are faced with now is what the aftermath will look like. Will the consequences of this crisis permanently mark the business world? Will we see a paradigm shift in the way businesses transform their strategies and priorities?

A shift in business values

As we shift into a post-pandemic world, will the traditional drivers of a capitalist society (productivity, profit and growth) be re-evaluated by businesses? I believe the answer could be yes. We’re already seeing younger generations less attracted to capitalist values, according to a study published last year. If they want to attract and retain the next generation of top talent, companies must get more in tune with societal movements to attract younger generations and strengthen the meaning in their actions with a clear vision that has a reinforced long-term impact.

I also believe that this catastrophic event will force a greater partnership on a national level between governments, businesses and individuals. We’ve already seen this group come together to encourage solidarity and altruism during this time. Across the U.S., businesses are repurposing their products and services to help fight the pandemic and individuals are stepping into action to shop for their neighbors and set up support systems all while celebrating those on the frontlines of healthcare and emergency services each night. Even state governments are working together to allocate resources across state lines to combat the spread of the virus. This movement toward unity is what the country needs to emerge stronger post-pandemic.

Closely aligning business with altruism

It is possible that this very same concept of solidarity becomes a strong value in the business world too. Businesses who once competed against each other are coming together. We see this with the explosion of innovation at pharmaceutical companies who are joining forces to find a vaccine while large-scale manufacturers and small businesses have stopped their usual production in order to manufacture ventilators, hand sanitizer and medical masks.

Even our credit insurance industry is taking action. In Canada, credit insurers are partnering with their Export Credit Agency to offer government-backed insurance plans. In France, its main actors have recently mobilized with the government to reactivate support systems (known as CAP) with a global budget of 12 billion euros in order to help companies survive the impact of the economic deadlock. In Germany, credit insurers and the government have collaborated to guarantee the payment of compensation to businesses up to 30 billion euros. In other countries like the U.S and U.K, industry leaders are moving to create similar partnerships to better support their countries’ economies.

As companies begin to think through what a post-pandemic world looks like, a closer and more harmonious relationship between different businesses could be what’s needed. Instead of being passive on subjects that require a collective approach, businesses need to join together to adopt like-minded social, environmental and governance standards.

History has taught us that massive events can trigger important changes thereafter. For COVID-19, this could be synonymous with business transformation as companies are forced to rethink and realign their priorities. To prepare for the aftermath, companies must adapt, anticipate changes and accelerate their transformation to link work with a greater purpose. While a “before” and “after” are certain for the pandemic, the future of business and the extent of this paradigm shift remains to be determined. It’s not enough to just survive this unprecedented crisis but rather companies must emerge more innovative and united.

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Virginie Fauvel is the Chief Transformation Officer and Board Member for the Americas Region at Euler Hermes 

business owners

What Small Business Owners Can Do to Steer Their Way Through a Crisis

As the nation’s economy continues to struggle because of the impact of COVID-19, small business owners and their leadership skills are being put to the test.

They face the task of adapting to the crisis and helping their employees adapt as well. But just what steps can business leaders take to keep employee morale high, make sure the business stays afloat, and manage their own concerns about the future?

One of the most important things is to be transparent with employees about where the business stands, says Adam Witty, ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Face the facts head-on and don’t try to sugarcoat it,” says Witty, the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). “Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try to mitigate those negative impacts.”

Witty suggests other steps business leaders need to take as they manage their way through the crisis:

Over-communicate. With remote work, communicating is more important now than ever. In an office, much of the communication happens naturally as people drop by each other’s offices or pass in the hallway. With everyone spread out, communication can easily fall by the wayside so it needs to be more intentional. Witty says it’s critical to use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangouts whenever possible to interact with employees. He also makes a point of sending at least three company-wide video messages a week. “In times of great uncertainty, communicate more not less,” he says. “In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are bad stories.”

Project calm. When a leader is anxious and fearful, everyone will pick up on that and they, too, will become anxious and fearful. “If your employees see that you are worried, they will begin to think it is all over,” Witty says. That doesn’t mean to fake it or to pretend the situation isn’t bad. “We can’t control the situation we find ourselves in,” he says. “But we can control how we react to the situation, and how we react will dictate our results.”

Consider introducing new products or services. Now is a good time to get innovative, Witty says, so brainstorm with your team about alternative ways to bring in revenue if your usual sources have been disrupted. For example, some restaurants that were strictly sit-down establishments pivoted to offer takeout and delivery. Witty’s own company created new publishing and marketing products aimed at potential clients who may be more cost-conscious during these tough economic times.

Finally, Witty says, have a plan.

“Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing week in and week out,” he says. “As we continue to move along through this crisis, that plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 makes some pieces of your plan obsolete.”

He suggests meeting weekly, if not more often, to keep updating the plan to reflect the new realities. Then communicate the plan and its latest adjustments to your team.

“When employees know the leaders have a plan,” Witty says, “it creates calm and confidence.”

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Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street JournalInvestors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

self-employed

Metros With the Most Self-Employed Workers

The coronavirus pandemic has cost a record number of Americans their jobs as much of the economy shut down in mid-March. Even as some states start to reopen, many businesses will remain closed or operate in a reduced capacity, meaning millions of workers will remain unemployed.

According to Census Bureau data, there are over 15 million self-employed workers in the U.S., making up about 9.7% of the nation’s workforce. Self-employed workers are especially vulnerable during economic downturns since they do not have the same type of job protections as other workers. The CARES Act provides emergency government aid to workers affected by the pandemic, including the self-employed, who might normally fall through the social safety net. But these funds have been difficult to secure and can have long wait times. Furthermore, confusing messaging around the loans leave many self-employed workers unsure about what the funds can be used for.

The self-employed, which for the purpose of this analysis includes those adults who operate either incorporated or unincorporated businesses, are represented in every industry sector except public administration. Other services—a catchall industry sector that includes, among others, car repairs, barbershops, salons, dry-cleaning, and pet care services—has the largest share of self-employed workers at nearly 26%. Both the Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining industry and the Construction industry have high rates of self-employment, at 24% and 23% respectively.

As of 2018 (the most recent year of Census data available), these three industry sectors accounted for over 5 million self-employed workers, but a combination of non-essential business closures, disruptions of the food supply chain, and a hold on construction work in many states will likely drive these numbers down.

While almost 10% of workers are self-employed at the national level, the self-employment rate varies considerably across cities and states. Montana and Vermont claim the highest percentages of self-employed workers in the country, at 14% and 13.4%, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia has the lowest share of self-employed workers, with just 6.3% of workers who are self-employed.

To find the locations with the most self-employed workers, researchers at Volusion used data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the share of workers who are self-employed. Researchers also looked at the total number of self-employed workers, the median income for self-employed workers, and the median income for all workers.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size. Small metros contain 100,000-349,999 residents, midsize metros contain 350,000-999,999 residents, and large metros contain 1,000,000 residents or more.

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the largest percentage of workers who are self-employed:

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Volusion’s website: https://www.volusion.com/blog/cities-with-the-most-self-employed-workers/

pandemic

Pandemic Thinking: How to Keep your Head in the (Long) Game

The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling and toppling many U.S. small businesses. Often called “the backbone of the economy,” small businesses that are managing to survive face an uncertain future.

As states start to reopen, consumer spending is in steep decline while unemployment skyrockets and many people remain hesitant to venture out. But RJon Robins, founder/CEO of How To Manage A Small Law Firm (www.howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com), says some entrepreneurs find their businesses in trouble because they had the wrong mindset toward customers all along.

“Small business owners everywhere are infected by pandemic thinking,” Robins says. “But they were infected with this thinking before the pandemic. It’s only now the strategic weakness of short-term, fear-based, transactional thinking in all different kinds of businesses is becoming more obvious. Pandemic thinkers ask the wrong question, ‘What can you do for me today?’ Rather than, ‘How can we work together to build a long-term mutually-profitable relationship?’

“Business owners who built long-term relationships with customers and clients can weather this storm. Those who didn’t think this way before can adopt elements of this kind of thinking and they’ll start seeing the benefits almost right away.”

Robins offers small business owners three tips on how to develop long-term relationships that benefit both customers and businesses:

When first meeting, look ahead at the relationship 10 years from now. “The scale of a person’s thinking has a lot to do with whether they win the game,” Robins says. “Look for all opportunities to be of service, even in some small way, to earn the right to call the person a client. Every deal doesn’t have to be a grand-slam. Just get on base. Just get into the game. That way you can discover opportunities to be of greater service and have a client for life.”

Show you care.  “A lot of people don’t know how to show that they care. Ask yourself when is the last time you called to check on a former client to find out what’s happened in their life or business since the last time you did business together?” Robins says, “What are their plans for the future? What can you take off their plate and help them with today even if what they need is just someone to help them think things through? Good relationships built over time are especially evident during the pandemic. Ironically, though, a pandemic is a perfect time to begin a marketing campaign like this and besides, you probably have a lot of free time on your hands anyway.”

Have a long-term business plan. “A business being run without a 12-month, forward-looking budget is like a car being driven with a windshield covered in mud, and on an unfamiliar road with no particular place to go,” Robins says. “A business that is being run without weekly cash-flow projections is like a person stumbling around in the dark in an unfamiliar house. To take an active, consistent interest in your clients and develop programs encouraging them to keep coming back, it helps to have a long-term written plan for your own business.”

“Businesses generate revenue by solving problems for their clients and customers,” Robins says. “And right now there’s an abundance of problems, which is another way to say there’s an abundance of opportunities. Whether you already have or decide to begin developing great long-term relationships with clients, it’s an investment that will pay long-term dividends.”

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RJon Robins is founder and CEO of How To Manage A Small Law Firm (www.howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com), the leading provider of management services  for the solo and small law firm market. In 2019, How To Manage a Small Law Firm was named by Inc. as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the country for the fifth consecutive year. A graduate of American University and Nova Southeastern College of Law, Robins is a member of The Florida Bar and The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.