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With Jobs Eliminated Daily, is Now the Right Time to Buy A Business?

buy a business

With Jobs Eliminated Daily, is Now the Right Time to Buy A Business?

The economy and job market have been on a roller coaster since the pandemic hit in the early part of 2020.

First, the stock market took a nosedive and reached some all-time lows, only to rebound to all-time highs. The same has occurred in the job market. First, we were experiencing the lowest unemployment in years, only to be followed by the highest unemployment since the Great Depression of 1929.

Presently the stock market is rising, but there is still unemployment, and daily you read about major companies that are either laying off or eliminating jobs by the thousands.

If you have lost your job and find it difficult to find another job in an area of your expertise, then you may want to consider taking control of your future and buying a business. By owning your own business, you have more control of your future. You are allowed to use the talents you were using at your old job and apply them to a vocation that will allow you more flexibility and income.

The pandemic has created chaos in all areas of our daily lives and business, but it has also created lots of opportunities, too. Remember, overall nothing has really changed. People still need to eat, shop, communicate with each other, travel, vacation, read, sleep, etc. The only thing that has changed is how we will do these things after the pandemic is over, and it will be over eventually. Our world will be different just as travel and security have changed since 9/11, but we will still continue to live and thrive, and life will go on.

Buying a business is the quickest and least risky way to get into business, because when you buy a business that is already operating with employees and customers you have a cash flow from day one. If you can’t or don’t want to buy a business, you can start a new business. And in today’s world, if you want to reduce your risk, you may want to consider buying a franchise. A franchise is a business with a proven track record in the industry of which the franchise specializes, and all you have to do is follow the business formula the franchisor provides to you.

If you are really passionate about a certain business idea or concept, then you can start your new business from scratch. Either way, whatever option you choose you will be in control of your future more so than what you would be if you were to get another job – if another job is available.

As I was taught many years ago and live by today: “If it is to be, it is up to me.” Maybe there is a business calling your name now.

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Terry Monroe (www.terrymonroe.com) is the president and founder of American Business Brokers & Advisors. The author of four books, he most recently published Hidden Wealth: The Secret to Getting Top Dollar for Your Business, with ForbesBooks. Monroe is a professional intermediary, consultant, and market maker for privately-held companies and has been involved in the sale of more than 800 businesses. In his 35-plus years of service, he has owned and operated more than 40 different businesses. At American Business Brokers & Advisors, he serves as a consultant for business buyers and sellers throughout the nation. As an expert source he has been written about and featured in The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur magazine, CNN Money, USA Today, CEOWORLD, and Forbes.

small business

The Struggles of Small Business Don’t Bode Well for the Overall Economy

The year 2020 can’t end quickly enough for most small business owners.

Across the country, the pandemic forced many of them to close their operations temporarily – or permanently – and the continued economic uncertainty threatens to kill the ambitions of entrepreneurs who planned to launch businesses but now must put their dreams on hold.

None of that bodes well for the overall American economy, says Andi Gray, president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm.

“Small businesses make up 50 percent of the gross-domestic-product and also employ half the workforce,” she says. “What happens to them determines what happens to the overall economy. We as a country cannot afford to fail them.”

Gray points to the 2008-11 banking crisis as a disturbing example of how a national crisis can sabotage entrepreneurship. In 2008, for the first time, the number of business starts fell below the number of business closures.

“In other words, more businesses were killed off than were launched,” she says, ”and it wasn’t a one-time event. The problem continued on for years.”

The ripple effects? By 2009 small business contributions to GDP fell rather than grew. By 2010 the economic contribution gap between large and small businesses widened four-fold as small businesses struggled to keep up with their large corporate competitors. People lost their jobs, exports dropped, taxes fell and economic opportunity disappeared as entrepreneurs fought to recover. It took over five years for the small business community to get back on track, Gray says. But the damage was already done. By 2015, the U.S. was ranked 12th among developed nations in terms of startup activity.

She worries such lingering effects could happen again – and be significantly worse this time.

“Today’s COVID crisis is far larger and deeper than the 2008 crisis,” she says. “I would not be surprised if it takes far longer than five years for the small business community to get back to producing GDP and employment numbers we took for granted at the beginning of the year.”

In the meantime, small business owners hit hard by this latest recession must find ways to weather the storm. Gray offers a few suggestions for how they can do that:

Stay energized and focused. The single biggest determinant for survival of any small business is the commitment, ambition, and drive of the owner, Gray says. “If you are feeling worn out, take time off to recharge,” she says. “Keep your eye focused down the road, on what’s way ahead, and don’t waste too much energy and sweat trying to control what’s happening right in front of you day-to-day.”

Take care of the finances. If money is in short supply, investigate sources of capital. Put together a bankable plan that justifies increased investment and provides guidance on how best to use funding to recover, expand and weather future challenges, Gray says. “Talk to your banker, the SBA, reputable SBA lending consultants, and private investors to find out what kinds of capital might be available,” she says.

Figure out how to play the hand they were dealt. Small business owners need to get creative and innovative, Gray says. “Rebuild as you protect cash flow,” Gray says. “Find suppliers to replace the ones struggling to perform. Rethink your business model and evaluate customer viability.” In addition, look for new markets to add size and profits, implement processes to cut out waste, and transition more and more customers to internet communication and ecommerce buying solutions. “Decide what size business will be right for you in the future and layout a plan to get there,” Gray says.

Pay attention to employees. As scared as small business owners may be about what the future holds, many of their employees are even more frightened. “After all, you have the resources of your company to use to build solutions,” Gray says. “Employees who live paycheck to paycheck may be running out of options and wondering how long they can hold on – or how long you’ll be able to let them hold onto their much-needed jobs.”

“The good news is that small business owners are known for being nimble, flexible, and resourceful,” Gray says. “Many of them are finding new opportunities by solving problems that didn’t exist, or weren’t priorities, at the start of 2020.”

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Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders (www.strategyleaders.com), a business consulting firm. Gray’s career started in sales, marketing and new business development at Xerox, American Express and Contel. Gray earned an Executive MBA from Columbia University while conducting research on success and failure drivers for entrepreneurial businesses. Gray writes a weekly column called “Ask Andi” in which she provides practical advice to business owners. She also authors a monthly column in Chauffeur Driven Magazine. Gray is also the co-founder of the networking group BOHCA (Business Owners Hemp and Cannabis Association), where she helps industry-specific owners grow their business through strategic planning.

reopen

As Businesses Reopen, a Good Plan and Flexibility are Key

With the economy trying to overcome the effects of COVID-19 and the nation’s political unrest, business leaders face a challenge like never before as stores and offices reopen and try to lure back customers and clients.

“Even before our current crisis, it’s always been important for businesses to respond to unanticipated changes in the market that threatened their product or business model,” says Adam Witty, the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Now, a willingness to adapt to changing consumer habits and ways of doing business will be more important than ever. One big challenge will be that businesses need to have a plan as they work to return their operations to normal, but they also need to remain flexible and willing to change that plan as the circumstances around them change.”

At the same time, all of this will need to be done while following CDC guidelines and taking into account the concerns of employees and customers, says Witty, who also is the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com).

“I’m a big believer in making decisions based on facts and data,” he says. “But if you don’t stay on top of what has been a very fluid situation, you could end up making decisions based on information that is already outdated.”

Going forward, Witty says, businesses need to:

Play the long game. It’s easy to get into a “survive-the-week” mindset, and certainly businesses need to make some things happen now to see them through the crisis. But as they ride out the difficulties in the short-term, Witty says, they also need to create a plan that will help them prosper over the long haul.

Be ready for the worst, hope for the best. With 41 million people who want to work out of work, the path back to normal will not be easy, and most people are predicting the recession will continue at least into early 2021. “Some businesses aren’t going to be able to reopen at all, and that includes big retail chains and local mom-and-pop stores,” Witty says. “That’s going to have a ripple effect in the economy.” So, as much as everyone may hope for a quick turnaround, it’s still best to make your plans based on the idea that the economic downturn will last a long while, he says.

Stay optimistic. These are the most challenging circumstances any business has faced in at least the last 50 years, Witty says. Despite that, business leaders and their employees can’t let gloom rule their feelings and emotions. “When you’re going through tough times,” he says, “it’s better to have an optimistic attitude than a pessimistic attitude.”

“As a businessperson, my hope is that we’ve already seen the bottom, and that each month going forward the economy will get better,” Witty says. “With that said, there is no playbook for this. But the businesses where leaders and employees all work together, plan carefully, and try to keep a positive attitude are the ones most likely to emerge in good shape when this is over.”

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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.

transformation

5 Tips To Focus Your Company’s Transformation As COVID Forces Change

While the recession caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses of all sizes and industries, some are finding new ways to run daily operations, reach customers, re-shape their business, and stay relevant.

But others are still trying to figure out how to transform, and an expert in the field says that launching a transformation begins with setting the right scope.

“Over the years, I have seen an ill-defined program scope cause serious problems,” says Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com), founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey.

“For example, the scope may drift from the originally defined target. The scope is the description of the transformation’s area of focus, and in most cases, the scope is defined as a combination of categories. Examples are functional – sales, logistics, production, operations – and organizational – leadership, technology, processes, management systems. It’s most important that the scope is defined to address the challenges at hand and avoid distractions or wasted resources.”

Bosso has five tips for companies to set the right scope for their transformation:

Articulate the problem. Which problem are you trying to solve? Bosso says that question is at the heart of a company transformation. “Defining the specific problem may take numerous discussions and disagreements,” Bosso says. “The human brain has a natural tendency to drift. Blurry lines sometimes separate root causes and symptoms. This step is generally completed with a well-crafted statement of the problem that the organization is setting up to solve.”

List the ways. “When properly conducted,” Bosso says, “this step helps in visualizing the solution. Listing possible solutions is a way of testing the definition of the problem. This step calls for honest questions and thorough analysis to identify the solution options.”

Identify the means. “This is the stage where you test the capabilities of the organization against solution options by identifying necessary means,” Bosso says. “It comes down to understanding internal means, or levers that would need to be pulled to solve the problem. Potential means available might include people, office space, computer systems, or technical expertise in sales, R&D, inventory management and procurement. The process allows organizations to match the correct means to solutions.”

Capture the enablers. Examples of enablers key to the transformation process are those in program management and data science. Enablers cannot operate on their own to make something happen,” Bosso says. “They are, however, necessary or simply useful for that same thing to happen. For example, change management cannot improve the performance of the sales organization without some level of sales expertise. Once enablers are defined, it is important to capture the various ways in which each enabler supports the transformation program.”

Explore synergies and interdependencies. This step focuses on understanding the overlaps, synergy opportunities, and constraints caused by ongoing initiatives. “Start with a list of all current initiatives that the organization is running,” Bosso says. “The finance department is typically a good source for the information. Meetings should be held with each team, and it’s important to understand that each may be protective of its objective, ways, and means. This could set up turf battles and heated discussions, so explicitly setting the objective of the meetings to understand synergies can help alleviate disagreements and fears.”

“Undergoing a major transformation is really the best hope for struggling businesses to survive in these difficult times,” Bosso says. “There is no time to waste. There are no resources to waste. To get your transformation on target, setting the right scope is critical from the outset.”

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments have taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

leaders

Crisis Management: How Business Leaders Lead During COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed, at least temporarily, the world of work for many people as employees hunkered down at home instead of commuting to an office.

As a result, a lot of businesses are finding out just how strong their corporate culture is and how resourceful their employees are when managers aren’t hovering nearby, says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, and founder and CEO of PFSbrands, the parent company of Champs Chicken, Cooper’s Express and BluTaco.

“One thing my company has always done that I believe is beneficial in times like these is to help employees develop an ownership mentality,” Burcham says. “Ownership thinking means taking accountability for the quality and success of your work, and it comes from actively encouraging a culture that promotes trust, communication, objectivity, and gives employees a stake in the outcome.”

By necessity, many companies are now communicating by phone or video chats, which means having employees who take responsibility for their actions is more important than ever. Yet at the same time, the business’s leaders still have decisions to make and orders to give to those employees.

That means, Burcham says, that it’s also more important than ever for a company’s leadership – and everyone who reports to them – to band together as one strong team.

“Fortunately, many of the things that make for a good leadership team in the best of times are the same ones that help the company successfully maneuver through more challenging times,” he says.

Some of those include:

Promote transparency. Mistakes happen when people don’t have the information they need to do their jobs. When something affects others in the organization, Burcham says, make sure you put it on the “team table” so that everyone can understand what is happening and provide input.

Don’t undercut others to make yourself look good. Disagreements can happen anytime people gather to discuss problems and solutions, but it’s important to keep things civil. “Attack the issues, not the person,” Burcham says. “Work through appropriate channels and be conscious of what your fellow leaders are trying to accomplish.”

Make sure meetings are well organized. Everyone has endured meetings that took too long and got off track. Burcham certainly has and at one time he would have labeled himself anti-meeting. “I felt that meetings were a waste of time. because most of the meetings I’d been in were a waste of time,” he says. Eventually, Burcham grudgingly accepted that some meetings are necessary, but he says it’s important that they have an agenda, a start and end time, no sidebar conversation, and that next steps and accountabilities are created at the meeting’s close.

Accept that a decision is a decision. It’s all right for people to debate and offer differing opinions during the decision-making process, but once a decision is made everyone needs to support it, Burcham says. “You don’t want situations where people continually reopen discussions about decisions that have already been made,” he says. “And passive disagreement is not an option.”

Know that calm is contagious – relax, look around, make a call. Several years ago Burcham adopted this mentality and worked to make it part of his personal mission statement. When faced with situations or conversations that may not be going his way, he mentally takes his brain to this personal mission statement. Burcham says, “I’m naturally a very impatient person and always will be. My personal mission statement has helped me to better control my emotions and it’s been a critical model as all of our companies work to navigate through these challenging times.”

“In the best of times, successful company growth is dependent on the capabilities of its leaders,” Burcham says. “As times grow difficult, how well the business fares also comes down to how well those leaders are able to rise to the occasion.”

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Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

Successful Entrepreneurs

10 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Many aspiring entrepreneurs see business ownership as an avenue to quick riches, a path to becoming “that boss” and creating jobs for the less fortunate, as a ticket to the freedom of working how and when they feel like; as they please! But owning a business is not that easy and convenient. If it was, everyone would succeed at it. The truth is that entrepreneurship can be your ticket to wealth, but it definitely is not your ticket to freedom. If anything, it calls for you to work harder than you ever did before, take huge risks, and fail at so many things without giving up. That is the entrepreneurial spirit.

There are many traits that define successful entrepreneurs. Here are 10 of those:

1. They network

Regardless of the niche they are in, or the success they’ve achieved already, successful entrepreneurs never stop networking. They work with influencers on social media, reach out to potential investors via emails, and generate leads by all means necessary. You will find seasoned entrepreneurs networking with freelancers in a coworking space in Chicago or using a shared workspace to get inspiration for business ideas from likeminded individuals. They regularly host events that create an engaging, exciting, and inspirational platform for their employees, clients, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and challenge the status quo. That helps them to grow and compete more effectively.

2. They are disciplined

Successful entrepreneurs have clear goals and timelines, and data-inspired tactics to accomplish them. They are always ready to cut out anything that weighs them down in order to only focus on things that make their businesses work. They are disciplined enough not to deviate from that path.

3. They are passionate and motivated

They know the problem they want to solve within their niche, and their main motivation is passion; not money. They derive joy in seeing their target clients happy and satisfied. They wake up every morning eager to learn new things; to perfect their skill in order to change the world in a positive way.

4. They are creative

You need a unique, original business idea in order to cut a niche for yourself within a crowded marketplace. And because your fresh idea will always be challenged by newer ideas every single day, you must constantly figure out ways of doing everything better than it’s been done elsewhere. If you wish to remain at the top, you have to challenge the status quo and think outside the box even when you feel like you have the best ideas and strategies. That is why you need to be creative.

5. They are flexible

Flexibility helps entrepreneurs to adjust fast whenever things don’t go as planned, or when new and better opportunities present themselves. Successful entrepreneurs are quick to acknowledge a good idea even when it comes from a competitor. They are always open to their ideas being challenged, and they change tact as soon as they realize things aren’t working as they should.

6. They are persuasive

Entrepreneurs negotiate with stakeholders all the time. You have to persuade the best talents to work for you, clients to trust in your services and/or products, potential investors to buy into your ideas, and your employees to help you actualize your vision. That is why you need to be a persuasive person.

7. They work hard

Entrepreneurs have to work harder than their employees in order to set a good example, and for the fact that they own the vision of their establishments. As much as you can hire department heads to help you manage your business, you must be willing to be the overall supervisor in order to ensure that everything is done as per your directives. Sometimes you will have to work overtime and through weekends in order to catch up with all departments.

8. They are decisive

Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with questions and dilemmas that can make or break their business. Being decisive helps them to make sound judgment under immense pressure.

9. They are futuristic

Future-oriented entrepreneurs know exactly how they want the future of their business to be. They have a plan. They set their goals around a strong vision. They know how to read market trends and predict how those trends will affect their strategies in future.

10. They take risks

You cannot be successful if you aren’t willing to take risks. New marketing strategies, new technologies, and new investment opportunities are all risks that can make or break your business. Some risks are harmful, others are beneficial. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must know how to distinguish between those two types of risks, when to take the beneficial risks, and how to create a plan B in case plan A backfires.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurship is an art that you have to master. Some of the qualities discussed above are inborn, others have to be developed.  But even as much as some of them come naturally to you, you must identify and perfect them if you are to be the best.

small businesses

U.S. Metros With the Most Small Businesses Per Capita

Small businesses across the United States face dire circumstances following the COVID-19 outbreak. While each individual small business might seem inconsequential to the broader economy, in aggregate, these firms are critical to the country’s financial well-being.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees makeup approximately 95 percent of American business establishments and employ 40 percent of private sector workers. These 7.4 million small businesses (or 2.27 per 100 residents) also account for roughly a third of total private sector payroll.

Unfortunately, research shows that small businesses and their workers are particularly vulnerable during recessions and other periods of economic hardship. A recent survey conducted by the New York Fed found that even prior to the pandemic, 64 percent of small businesses faced financial challenges in the preceding 12 months. The same survey reported that a two-month loss of revenue would cause 86 percent of firms to take a serious financial action, such as using the owner’s personal savings, taking out a loan, or cutting staff salaries.

Moreover, small businesses in some industries have a larger economic impact than others. Among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, those in accommodation, food services, and retail trade—coincidentally, the sectors hit hardest by COVID-19—employ the most workers. These industries, combined, account for more than 16 million employees and $362 billion in annual payroll.

Like the businesses themselves, small business employees are also more financially vulnerable than their large-firm counterparts. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fewer small business employees have access to retirement benefits, healthcare benefits, paid sick leave, life insurance, or disability insurance. Troublingly, only half of employees in small businesses have health insurance through their company and only two-thirds have paid sick leave.

While small businesses are a critical component of the national economy, some parts of the country depend more on small businesses than others. To find the metropolitan areas with the most small businesses, researchers at Construction Coverage, a review website for workers’ compensation insurance and construction software, analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked each location according to the number of small businesses per 100 residents. Researchers also included statistics on the total number of small businesses, the number of retail, accommodation, and food service businesses, and the share of workers who are self-employed. For the analysis, small businesses were defined as those employing fewer than 50 workers.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, locations were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: large metros (1,000,000 residents or more), midsize metros (350,000-999,999 residents), and small metros (less than 350,000 residents).

Here are the large metropolitan areas with the most small businesses per capita:

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Construction Coverage’s website: https://constructioncoverage.com/research/cities-with-the-most-small-businesses

small business

How to Lead a Small Business Through Coronavirus and other Troubling Times

With the coronavirus shaking up the economy and upending the day-to-day operations of businesses, it’s perhaps more critical than ever that corporate CEOs and small business owners summon up all their leadership skills.

Employees who usually are just down the hall are now working remotely from home. The supply chain is disrupted. And customers and clients may be changing their spending habits.

But, as important as business savvy and financial expertise can be in riding out all the economic effects of the pandemic, other traits also come into play and maybe just as essential, says Marsha Friedman, a successful entrepreneur who still leads a business she launched three decades ago.

“One of those essential traits is courage,” says Friedman, founder and president of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), a national PR firm. “Thirty years ago when I started my company, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail.”

Friedman, who is also the ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, understands this first-hand. Her firm, like many businesses, endured tough economic times after the 9/11 attacks. Revenue dropped and bankruptcy loomed as a real possibility.

“I had to figure out how to turn my company around,” she says. “It took courage, endurance, and perseverance, but I knew I could not go back, so I had no choice but to go forward.”

Courage is just one of what Friedman calls the 5 C’s for building and maintaining a successful business through good times and bad.

“They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes,” she says. “They can work during the difficulties we now face as well.”

In addition to courage, Friedman’s other C’s are:

Caring. First, care enough about yourself and your dreams to believe you can achieve success even in these daunting times, Friedman says. “Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them despite the troubles we face,” she says. “Be supportive of them throughout this situation that is bringing additional stress to everyone’s lives.” Finally, a good business leader cares about customers, Friedman says. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.

Confidence. Most people have faced and overcome challenges in life. The confidence that allowed them to prevail over those challenges needs to be brought into play in business more than ever right now, Friedman says. “Believing you can reach for and achieve your short-term and long-term goals is essential to getting you there,” she says. “Maintaining your confidence is important to get through these unsettling times.”

Competence. It’s critical to stay up on the disruptions in your industry that the coronavirus is causing. “If you’re forced to downsize, this may be the time to reorganize and tap into the skills and abilities of your remaining team that are different from the roles you hired them for,” Friedman says. “That’s why it’s always important to have hired competent people who you can rely on no matter what the situation.”

Commitment. Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes during these challenging conditions. Friedman says there may be times when this will be not only difficult but downright painful. That was the case for her during those tough times after the 9/11 attacks. “I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go of beloved employees,” she says. “But I never wanted to suffer a failure, and so I stayed committed to the goal and succeeded in pulling the business through those rough times.” 

“As we face the current challenges, you have to stay the course, remain positive and show caring for everyone related to your business,” Friedman says. “Most of all, no matter how dismal it seems right now, you need to have confidence that you are going to get through it.”

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Marsha Friedman, ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, is a successful entrepreneur and public relations expert with nearly 30 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and professionals in the field of business, health and finance.  Using the proprietary system she created as founder and President of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), an award-winning national public relations agency, her firm secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for its clients.  The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies, who shares her knowledge both as a popular speaker around the country and in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself.

commerce

Commerce, Currency, and Credit —and What’s Next

The notions of commerce, currency, and credit are nothing new. For centuries, we’ve found ways to barter, borrow, and repay one another through the exchange of goods, services, or credit. Exchange aside, every form of currency has an assigned value agreed upon by the individuals or organizations participating in the transaction.

Need a house or a plot of land? Everything had a price. Back then, we offered what we had…like goats, cows, or crops. In modern times and with the development of currency, we have turned to coins, paper, plastic, and other forms of credit to define the values of our exchanges.

If we begin to think about the evolution of commerce in the context of innovation, we simultaneously begin to wonder, ‘What’s next?’

As the COO of a fast-moving fintech company, I look to innovation to answer this fundamental question. It will always be top-of-mind for me, in order to ensure that our business is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to contemplating the many ways Americans — particularly those in the small business community — think about and gain access to commerce, currency, and credit.

Today, small businesses are faced with an unfavorable choice when considering taking on additional capital: curb their instinct to innovate and grow, or encumber themselves with debt. While the growth of small businesses will help our economy thrive, we can’t increase our ability to provide funding to small businesses by maintaining the status quo. So how do we inject businesses with funds, without ultimately harming that growth and innovation?  I suggest several ways: decrease our industry’s approval time and simplify the process; provide customized offers and understand the uniqueness of each business through the implementation of artificial intelligence and advanced technology, and restore the innate integrity and trust from the nascent days of commerce.

Here are three topline factors that will drive commerce, currency, and credit — and what’s next:

Convenience

If we look at the transition in the consumer payments industry as a leading indicator, we think about the emergence of fast-pay apps like Zelle, Venmo, or Apple Pay, one thing is clear: convenience is king. Even if it costs the consumer a dollar or two, it beats the basic, but now outdated steps of writing a check, (purchasing and) putting a stamp on the envelope, putting it in the mail, and making sure the mail person gets it on time. Certainly, checks have a role to play in the exchange of money — and perhaps always will — but fast cash apps represent the shift.

If we examine the ways that small businesses have historically gained access to capital, what were once nothing more than hard-copy applications followed up by mountains of paperwork issued by traditional banks that required waiting weeks or even months to hear of an approval, is rapidly evolving into what is now a full-fledged industry dedicated to providing capital in mere days or even hours  —with companies in industries ranging from online retailers to credit card processors, and more, working to deliver working capital in the near speed it takes to complete an ATM transaction. Just as odd as dropping a goat off today to pay for a good or service would seem, so too will be the long timeframe to secure small business capital via a long arduous process.  We are quickly moving to a couple of button clicks on your cell phone and capital will be delivered into your business account.

Channels

When discussing my philosophy about our business, three words colleagues often hear me use are “channel of choice.” They refer to finding our customers by identifying who they are, where they are, and what is their preferred method of communication; and of course, delivering superior user experience.

Which “channel of choice” will appeal to the busy mom-and-pop shop owner who calls us from her landline in search of new ways to gain access to capital for a new storefront facade; or to the construction company that does most of its business and banking online and prefers to be reached via the web; or, to the 20-something app developer who likes to do his business with a simple click on his phone?

Our success is contingent upon creating an appropriate environment and successful strategy for each of our customers, all of whom have varying degrees of means and preferences to interact with us.  While mobile interactions will continue the trend to dominate in preference, there will likely always be a need to handle interactions with just a simple phone call.  And delivering an intentional experience with all of those channels in mind will become the new normal

Caution

Over the past few years, the vulnerability of data, privacy, and information security systems has been exposed. As we move into a more digital environment where every piece of data is at your finger times, it’s incumbent upon us in the alternative financial services industry to evaluate the ways we protect the vast information we hold in similar ways customers expected traditional banks to hold and secure their deposits. The phrase “data is the new currency” is quickly becoming reality and expectations of security from those who provide us that information will be just as high as dropping of a deposit to your local bank. As mountains of information continue to become available, it will become a focus for all to consider how we store that information just as a bank locks up its currency in a vault.

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Herk Christie is the Chief Operating Officer of Expansion Capital Group, a business dedicated to serving American small businesses, by providing access to capital and other resources, so they can grow and achieve their definition of success. Since its inception, ECG has provided approximately $400 million in capital to over 12,000 small businesses nationwide.

small business

Small Businesses: Here’s How They Impact Communities

Every small business owner knows how important it is to have the support of their community. Luckily events such as Small Business Saturdays help bring small businesses and their local shoppers together in order to benefit the community as a whole. This survey put together by OnDeck, a small business loan provider, looks at small business customers to learn a little bit more about how they support small businesses AND also how the small businesses they
support helps the community in return.

why small businesses are important

ondeck second annual small business community impact survey

why small businesses are important

ondeck small business community impact survey