Happy Halloween from COSE: Enjoy These Tricks and Treats from our Members

We asked our COSE members to share their tricks to dealing with the global pandemic, as well as some special treats for you from their small businesses.


‘Tis the season for tricks and treats—and they aren’t just for kids anymore. In this Halloween article our COSE experts share their secrets to handling the COVID crisis, as well as special deals and offerings from their small businesses to you. 

Nicole Ponstingle, COO/Partner at Pandata

TRICK: At Pandata, we were able to immediately pivot to a remote work environment, which allowed for business continuity. We put an emphasis on the mental and physical well-being of our team through an initiative we call PandataCares. Alongside that, we have put an even greater focus on learning for our team, giving them access to courses and certifications that help us grow as a company, but also help them to hone their professional craft. 

TREAT: If you would like to learn about how to use AI for competitive advantage, Pandata is offering $100 off the course AI & Data for Beginners with code: aldhubaib100. Register here

Nevin Bansal, President/CEO of Outreach Promotional Solutions

TRICK: We have expanded our product and service offerings and focused on selling those solutions that are still in high demand, and have sought out partnerships with reputable organizations to get in front of more businesses. We also established more creative ways to work virtually, using Zoom, Monday.com, and other tools to make sure our team stays connected. The biggest thing is that—while we had to make some expense reductions—we actually increased our investment in sales and marketing to make sure we can capture new business and replace lost revenue.

TREAT: At Outreach Promotional Solutions, we are offering 25% off our Website Design & Digital Marketing Services—including a free consultation/assessment. Contact us today.

Monika Moss-Gransberry, President/CEO of MKM Management Consulting

TRICK: Applying for everything I was eligible for such as PPP, EIDL and grants was my trick for surviving the pandemic. While some of my fellow business owners felt like they didn’t really need it, my approach was to get anything we were eligible for because we just don’t know how long this is going to last. That has allowed me to give free strategy sessions to my current and past clients to support them while they figure out how to survive in the short term.

TREAT: We are offering a free strategy session to COSE members in support of their next level pivot in 2021—especially now that we know this pandemic will be here for a while and the recovery will be even longer. Schedule your free strategy session

Raymond Graves, Lead Lender Relations Specialist at U.S. Small Business Administration, Cleveland District Office

TRICK: The CARES Act provided generous funding to local Small Business Development Centers to hire expert consultants to help small businesses survive during this uncertain time. This expertise could include things like human resources, accounting and finance, international trade, digital marketing, and cyber security. Look it up, check it out, and see how they can help you grow.

TREAT: SBA Paycheck Protection Program borrowers may be able to eliminate reductions to their forgiveness—caused by laying off employees or reducing payrates—by taking advantage of certain exceptions and safe harbors. Small dollar PPP borrowers (loans $50,000 and under) don’t even have to do that much—they only have to demonstrate eligible uses of funds, and apply for forgiveness specifically on SBA Form 3508S.

Also, don’t forget to visit the SBA website to review upcoming training programs including New Lender Orientations and SBA Basics webinars, offered monthly.

Timothy Dimoff, President of SACS Consulting and Security Services, Inc.

TRICK: We are focusing on offering our services and products that will help our clients to deal with the COVID situation. We are in the security business, so we have focused on expanding and offering our security services and our expertise to help clients stay safe and to keep their employees and their customers safe.
We are also offering more of our training products via technology such as webinars, etc. instead of in-person training.

TREAT: We have joined forces with a medical entity and are offering a Rapid COVID Antibody Test that is very cost effective and offers results in 10 minutes. It can be conducted at our location or at the employer’s location. The advantage to the employer is that it may help to enable employees to return to work safely. Contact us today.


Jim Smith, Global Executive Coach and Some-Times Troublemaker

TRICK: I have three tricks that I've been using to cope during this global pandemic:

1. CoachWalks. I crave human connection, but cannot meet clients in their offices or mine. As a break from endless Zoom calls, I occasionally meet local clients in the Metroparks where we can walk (the paths are six feet wide) and talk in the fresh air.

2. Social Hours. I’ve said yes to many unstructured social gatherings where we all show up with coffee (AM) or another beverage (PM) and just chat! Sometimes we move through a series of group breakouts, just as at a real network event. It’s a reminder that Zoom is a wonderful tool for remaining in touch. 

3. Reduce Zoom Fatigue. Studies have shown that “looking at yourself” all the time is a huge distraction and stressful for many. Once a meeting has started and I’m certain others can see me properly, I right click on my own image and choose Hide Self View. Especially when I’m talking only to one other person, it suddenly feels more like a normal 1:1 conversation across a table. 

TREAT: Download these 13 Principles of Happiness as a reminder that you can shift your world view.


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  • Next up: Help Determine Which Industry-Recognized Credentials are on Ohio’s List

    Help Determine Which Industry-Recognized Credentials are on Ohio’s List


    The Ohio Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation request your assistance in the industry-recognized credential review process for Ohio’s high school credential list. A survey has been developed to gather feedback that will be used in determining which credentials are valuable in their respective industries. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

    Students benefit from learning job-specific skills that can be used to verify skill mastery and educational attainment. Industry-recognized credentials are also valuable to employers, allowing them to validate the knowledge and skills of potential employees and saving valuable time in assessing the competency of job applicants.

    The process to review industry-recognized credentials requires business and industry representatives who 1) possess knowledge of the career field and 2) have some understanding of human resource and hiring needs. Reviewers are not required to have prior knowledge of the review process or experience with the list of industry-recognized credentials.

    Participate in the industry-recognized credential feedback survey here.

    If you have questions regarding the survey or review process, please contact the credential team at IndustryCredentials@education.ohio.gov.  Thank you in advance for your commitment to ensuring Ohio’s students are earning credentials of value.

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  • Next up: Help Ensure our Community is Counted in 2020 Census

    Help Ensure our Community is Counted in 2020 Census


    Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau undertakes a mammoth task: counting all the people residing in the United States. This count affects the allocation of funding for our community’s public resources (e.g., roads, hospitals, schools), how we plan for the future, and our voice in government.

    Learn more here about the importance of the 2020 Census for you, your business and community.

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  • Next up: How Being a COSE Member Helped My Business in 2019

    How Being a COSE Member Helped My Business in 2019

    From saving money with our healthcare options, to networking, writing and speaking opportunities, hear how small business owners benefited from their COSE membership in 2019.


    We love to hear how COSE makes an impact on its members and their businesses, and we want to share some of the most recent testimonials with you. Hear from some of our members about how their COSE membership helps their businesses grow and succeed, and be sure to let us know at the end of this article if you have a story of your own to share.

    “As a member since 1998, I always leverage COSE events as opportunities to meet people with new ideas and resources, and I certainly expanded my network of creative people last year. But the biggest benefit to me in 2019 was that I got curious about this MEWA thing that COSE kept advertising, and I was delighted when I flipped my coverage to a new plan and saved nearly $12,000 in annual premiums. Woot!”

    Jim Smith

    The Executive Happiness Coach


    "COSE helped my business in 2019 by providing Pandata with access to resources that allow us to attract top talent. Also, by guest blogging for COSE we have been able to further evangelize how data science and artificial intelligence can be used to provide insights and solve pressing business problems for our local business community."

    Nicole Ponstingle

    Chief Operating Officer, Partner



    “My husband retired recently and joined my business. And so in 2019—after being a member for every reason except the insurance—I took advantage of the COSE health insurance through Medical Mutual.  Even after vetting other vendors, COSE had the best pricing for the best benefits. I am thrilled to have my husband home and us working together and I am thrilled to have good coverage for an affordable rate.”

    Monika Moss-Gransberry

    MKM Management Consulting


    “COSE helped my business this year by providing me with regular positive exposure in the 'Mind Your Business' blog. The articles I wrote showcased my content expertise in workplace communication and sales pitches and helped me stay in front of colleagues and clients. I even won an 'Apex Award' for writing from Lake Communicators for one of those pieces. So, thanks for the help, COSE.” 

    Phil Stella

    Effective Training & Communication


    “Without a doubt, I have met several new, unknown business professionals at various COSE events! This has opened the door this past year for me to have lunch, breakfast or coffee with over 50 new professional contacts. The ongoing referral value is endless.

    I have also landed new requests to provide presentations both locally and nationally. And, along with the pleasure of writing several professional blog posts, I was also given the opportunity to be involved in a COSE Member Podcast, which I thoroughly enjoyed as a new experience!

    If you want to meet me for coffee, breakfast or lunch I am more than willing so call me at 330-730-3524 and let’s make it happen!”

    Tim Dimoff


    SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc


    Do you have a story to share? We’d love to hear it. Please contact Marie Zickefoose with how COSE has impacted your business. Haven’t joined COSE yet? Become a member today. Visit us online for more information.

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  • Next up: How to Recognize and Celebrate National Work and Family Month

    How to Recognize and Celebrate National Work and Family Month

    From having one-on-one check-ins with employees to helping workers maximize family time, here are five ways you can celebrate National Work and Family Month at your small business.


    Did you know that October is National Work and Family Month in the United States?

    Established in 2003 by a Senate resolution, National Work and Family Month is designed to communicate and celebrate the progress toward creating healthier and more flexible work environments. It’s also a great time to spotlight and remind employers about the business benefits of supporting programs that focus on creating an effective work-life balance.

    As our country and the world navigate a global pandemic, ensuring the health of workers and recognizing the crucial need for flexible work options is more important than ever before.

    While we will get into more specific elements of National Work and Family Month in future blog posts this month, here are some general guidelines you can use as a small business owner to recognize and celebrate the need for work-life balance.

    Reach Out to Employees
    You don’t need a national designation to catch up with your employees—this can and should happen anytime and on a regular basis—but it’s a good starting point for recognizing National Work and Family Month. Begin by scheduling one-on-one time with each employee, even if it means doing so virtually. Check in and see how things are going during this trying time, ask them what support they need from you, and come up with a plan to help them moving forward.

    RELATED: Why employee motivation matters more in a small business.

    Share Tips with Your Team
    While you’re checking in and measuring the struggles and solutions of today’s work-life situation, also ask your employees what’s working for them. Create a list of tips and tricks to effectively balancing family and career and then share those tactics with your entire team so that everyone can benefit from the exchange of ideas. You might even consider sharing your list with your constituents.

    Perfect Your Program
    Now is a good time to take a close look at what benefits and flexible options you’re offering at your own business and how it is working for your team. Workflex can include family leave, floating holidays, compressed workweeks, telecommuting, alternate work schedules, reduced hours, allowing employees to bring kids and pets to work, and more. It may be trial and error to see what works for your employees and your business, but keep an open mind and try out different possibilities custom-fit for your workers.

    RELATED: Five tips to make working from home work for you.

    Put Family Time at the Top of the To-Do List
    Family care and family time are always important, but even more so during the mental, emotional, physical and economic stress of a global pandemic impacting yourself, your kids, your parents and your spouse. Your employees may be hesitant to take time off during this uncertain time, but it’s crucial that you encourage them to do so and to clear any obstacles that might be in their way. You can also take it one step further by giving out prizes during National Work and Family Month that contribute to family time. Maybe it’s a zoo membership or a gift card to a meal delivery service—anything that might help your employees maximize their time off.

    Walk the Talk
    The life of a small business owner is stressful—many of you are managing a business and a family at the same time. National Work and Family Month is not just for your employees—you need time off and flexibility as well. And, when you take advantage of these opportunities you are leading by example and encouraging your team to take strides toward an effective work-life balance. 

    Let us know on twitter how you’re recognizing National Work and Family Month.

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: How to Support Small Business During the Holidays

    3 Things to Know: How to Support Small Business During the Holidays

    We want to support small businesses now more than ever—and it's important we do so. In this edition of our 3 Things to Know series, we are bringing you three—check that, four—things to keep in mind when it comes to doing our part to help small businesses stay afloat during this trying time.


    We always have an interest in supporting small businesses during the holidays, but even more so during this continuing time of COVID. Now more than ever, your local restaurant, toy shop, clothing boutique and small business service providers are wondering how they will compete with big box stores, online ordering and the additional stress of the economic impact of a global pandemic.

    Here are three things to know when it comes to supporting small businesses during the holidays—topped off by a global pandemic.

    First thing to know: Gift cards are the way to go.
    Purchasing gift cards for the hard-to-buy-for loved ones on your list is a great way to shop local. Kids, teens and adults alike all love receiving a gift card to use on what they want, when they want. Frequently around the holidays, local restaurants, spas and salons, and even some shops will give away bonus gift cards if you buy a certain amount. So in one stop you can cross everyone off your list—while receiving a little extra something in return. Now that’s a win-win.

    Second thing to know: Give yourself the gift of time.
    Maybe 2020 can be the year you actually enjoy the holidays. Take some things off your plate while supporting local services such as house cleaners and snow plow companies. You may not be having the big holiday meals and get-togethers you usually do, but you can still support your local butcher or baker. Skip the cooking altogether this year and have your favorite local restaurant prepare the entire meal. It just might mean you finally have time to relax and enjoy being with the ones you love—in groups of 10 or less, of course.

    Third thing to know: Your friends will follow you.
    You may not have Instagram influencer status, but you certainly have friends who want to hear about your great experiences supporting small businesses. So, shout it from the rooftops—check in at or tag the business on Facebook, tweet it out, and write a review on your local soundboard page. The business will thank you, your friends will thank you, and you will feel good that you made the effort. And that’s a win-win-win!

    Note: If you end up having a not-so-great experience with a local business, try to avoid running to that proverbial rooftop with your complaint. Take a beat, contact them directly and give the business a chance to make it right before going public. 

    And, HOLIDAY BONUS! Fourth thing to know: Our COSE members and partners have offers for you! 
    We are happy to share with our readers a list of special deals and offers our COSE members and partners are featuring for Small Business Saturday on November 28. Keep checking back as we continue to add more—and thank you for your support!

    If you are a COSE member with deals to offer, please email Allison Halco with that information and we will add you to the list.

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