3 Things to Know: Returning to the Office

 

With a decrease in the number of cases, a better understanding about all things COVID-19, and more people being vaccinated, a return to working in the office is either already here or on the horizon for many businesses.

If you are in the process of or are considering moving from remote to in-person work for your team, check out these things we think you should know as you make the transition.

First thing to know: You need a plan.

You might think you can just pick up where you left off when your team was last in the office over a year ago. But a lot has happened since then—and a lot has changed. There is a greater awareness of germs and cleanliness for sure, but there’s also an increased understanding of which types of jobs could be conducted in person and which types of jobs need to be conducted face to face.

Putting a plan in place should start with a thorough analysis and consideration of the needs and desires of your team, your customers, and other people and businesses your business does business with. Use these guidelines as you work on your plan to transition from remote to in-person working.

Second thing to know: Keep a good work-life balance.

One of the lessons coming out of COVID for many workers is that a good work-life balance is important. When people are back to in-person working, it means they spend more time getting ready for and commuting to work and less time with family. It also means certain logistics that were temporarily solved by remote working—including situations with childcare, pet care, and transportation—now mean additional stress for your employees. Being sensitive to these issues and finding ways to help ease the transition will be a win-win for your team and your business.

If you are interested in creating more ways to support a good work-life balance for your team, check out these 10 ideas.

Third thing to know: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

All businesses are different, and not all workers have the same needs and desires. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to working arrangements and schedules. Perhaps a mix of in-person and remote working makes the most sense.

If a hybrid option might be the best choice for your business, check out this recent webinar: The Transition from Remote to Hybrid Working Environments. Learn about industry trends related to in-person and hybrid working as well as the right communication systems for your needs.

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  • Next up: Small Business Administration Updates: EIDL and PPP

    Small Business Administration Updates: EIDL and PPP

     

    EIDL Updates

    Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Applicants can now receive a maximum loan amount of $500,000. The lending limit will also be increased to up to 24-months of economic injury. Businesses that have already received the EIDL do not need to submit a request for an increase; SBA will reach out directly via email and provide more details about how they can request an increase. Any new loan applications and any loans in process when the new loan limits are implemented will automatically be considered for the increased limits. You can learn more here.

    The SBA also announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans until 2022. The agency will extend the first payment due date for disaster loans made in 2020 to 24-months from the date of the note and 18-months from the date of the note for all loans made in calendar year 2021. Click here to learn more.

    PPP Updates

    This week, President Biden signed an extension for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The deadline to apply for a PPP loan has been extended from March 31, 2021 to May 31, 2021. The law also extends authorization of loans to June 30, 2021 to give the SBA additional time to process applications. In late February, the Biden Administration announced several additional changes to the program, including allowing sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support and eliminating exclusionary restrictions on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions or with student loan debt delinquency. You can learn more about these changes here.

    To view all SBA guidelines about the PPP, click here.

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  • Next up: Shining an Outside Light on Your Business

    Shining an Outside Light on Your Business

     

    Whether you’re starting a business, are established in your vertical or at the mature end of the business cycle, you and your business need the insights and experience of a diverse team of financial advisors. A well-structured financial advisory team brings fresh perspective, professional expertise and puts the business’s success top of mind. While an owner may rely on their banker for financial guidance, a CPA, attorney and an industry expert will play pivotal roles on the advisory team. In highly specialized or high growth industries, additional advisors should be considered as temporary or permanent members of the advisory team. 

    This team of outside professionals provides ongoing insights into industry, markets and business strategies more objectively than those working inside a business. This outsider view gives a broader scope to strategy development, issues identification and problem-solving solutions. While each member of the team has a specific area of professional expertise, together they give a full view of where a business is today and how to grow in the future. 

    Kurt Kappa, chief lending officer at First Federal Lakewood, says, “Having the right team of outside financial advisors gives business owners a more wholistic view into their business, their industry and their finances. A trusted team can advise on operations, finances, legal matters and industry and market trends to allow the business owner to stay on course or make necessary adjustments to be successful.”

    Building the Strongest Advisory Team

    Above all, the most important ingredient in an advisory relationship is trust. The business owner must trust the team completely and believe that the team members have the business’s best interests at heart. The advisory team must trust the business owner’s intentions and abilities.  This trust does not mean that differences of opinions will not arise or that the business owner will always take the advice of the advisors. It means instead that opinions and advice are offered and considered thoughtfully and respectfully. 

    To build the financial advisory team, the business owner should self-assess their own strengths and weaknesses before beginning the process of identifying and selecting candidates and advisory team members. Perhaps operations is a strength but understanding tax implications of growth is a weakness. Once the required skill sets are identified, the business owner can reach out to their network, other financial resources and trusted contacts for recommendations on individuals to fill specific roles on the advisory team. This groundwork enables the business owner to leverage what’s working and source team members who can work to leverage the owner’s strengths while closing gaps with supplemental knowledge and skills. Having a clear view of what’s needed makes the process more efficient and focused.

    Time upfront is worth the investment. Taking the time to identify and interview each potential member will ensure clear expectations are set, the right people have the acumen and personalities to work together with each other and the business owner effectively.  The result is a team aligned with the business’s mission and goals.

    Utilizing the Team

    Once the financial advisory team is in place, it’s time to tap into their individual and collective expertise. An ideal advisory team’s diverse skill sets empower the business owner to rely on each individual to provide analysis and counsel in their field. While there may be some cross-over, each will most likely gravitate to what they know best. 

    While one-on-one meetings or even casual conversations will address specific issues or answer certain questions, harnessing the real power of the team involves group discussions and meetings. The frequency is dependent on business needs but some formalized scheduling should occur to allow everyone to participate. Topics may include business development reporting, internal company changes, financial results, pending legal issues or updates on industry, market and regulatory news.  It’s the group who will together dig deeper into results and uncover solutions to drive the business’s strategy forward. 

    From time to time, topics or issues out of the advisory team’s expertise may arise. For example, during the pandemic, many businesses found additional health and safety expertise and the ability to understand and act on pandemic-related relief programs invaluable to running their operations. Outside advisors added to the advisory team on a temporary basis helped fill these gaps.  

    “While a core advisory team is critical, businesses can often benefit from additional outside opinions and views,” said Kappa. “Inviting a specialized expert to participate on an ad hoc basis can enrich the board’s ability to more quickly address changing needs.” 

    Evolving the Team 

    As the business evolves, the team of advisors may change to meet business needs. Some advisors focus on a particular size or type of business such as start-ups or rapidly expanding businesses. For example, perhaps a local one-person accounting practice worked well in the beginning phase of the business, but a larger firm is needed as the business grows organically or by merger and acquisition. During a mid-cycle phase, the business may require more specialized advice for lending and legal options. At the other end of the business life cycle, management may need to begin planning exit strategies and need the advice of a more sophisticated advisor to create and implement a workable plan. 

    “Having an effective advisory team over time is a process,” said Kappa. “While consistency allows advisors to really get to know the business and it’s great to engage those who meet your needs where you are, those needs can and probably will change over time.” 

    Measuring Success

    From organization to acquisition and everything in between, the financial advisory team engages with the business owner, industry experts and each other to shine outside light on the business. Even when it seems to business owners that another hour in the day can’t be found to meet, discuss and learn, relying on a financial advisory team will make the business stronger in the longer term.

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  • Next up: State Makes Numerous Unemployment Compensation Announcements

    State Makes Numerous Unemployment Compensation Announcements

     

    Small businesses across the region are struggling to find employees and fill jobs to continue operations and meet customer needs. For an update on some of Ohio’s recent unemployment announcements see here:

    Federal Bonus Payments – A growing number of states are rejecting enhanced federal Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payments, saying the extra $300-a-week supplement is providing an incentive for some to avoid work at a time when some employers are struggling to find labor. The Governor announced unemployed Ohioans will no longer be eligible for weekly federal bonus payments of $300 starting on June 26, 2021.  

    Work Search Requirement – Ohioans will once again be required to search for employment on a weekly basis as part of filing for and receiving unemployment benefits. From mid-March through December of 2020, the federal government authorized states to waive these requirements. Ohio then resumed the requirement for new unemployment claims on and after December 6 of last year while exempting existing claims. Effective on May 23, 2021 all claimants, regardless of when they first filed a claim, must search for work.   

    Work Refusals – Lt. Governor Jon Husted has outlined the process for employers to report work refusals on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) website. More information can be found at jfs.ohio.gov, unemployment.ohio.gov, and OhioMeansJobs.com. Employers reporting work refusals should be prepared to provide their name, email address, Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), claimant name, claimant ID or the last four digits of the claimant’s Social Security number, and additional details about the specific situation.

    System Audits – The State Auditor’s office is currently conducting two audits – one into the unemployment system’s anti-fraud efforts, the other into the system’s customer-service issues.

    Federal Debt Proposal – Governor Mike DeWine has proposed using more than $1 billion in federal relief money to balance the state unemployment fund. Ohio requested a line of credit worth up to $3.1 billion last year during the height of the coronavirus crisis to help pay a record surge of unemployment claims. Paying off the debt would be a relief to Ohio businesses because the state unemployment system is paid for through premiums paid by employers. GCP has long-called for a solution to this ongoing problem. 

    If you too are struggling with unemployment compensation challenges, we invite you to join us on May 20 at 4 p.m. to talk with others who are working to overcome the same challenges as all small business owners across the region work to build a growing thriving company.   

     
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  • Next up: Thank you for attending COSE Day at the Capitol!

    Thank you for attending COSE Day at the Capitol!

     

    Thank you to all those who attended this year’s virtual COSE Day at the Capitol! Thanks to COSE small business members, policymakers in our state’s capital learned more about the critical challenges and opportunities facing small businesses. The day also served as an opportunity for business owners to hear directly from state legislators about their priorities.

    Speakers included Governor Mike DeWine, House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, Senate President Matt Huffman, and a panel discussion featuring Peter Voderberg, Chief of BroadbandOhio, Sheryl Maxfield, Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce, and John Logue, Interim Administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

    In addition, five state leaders received Small Business Advocate of the Year Awards. Speaker of the Ohio House Bob Cupp, State Senator Sandra Williams, State Representative Stephanie Howse, Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud, and State Treasurer Robert Sprague each received the award, which recognizes those who have sponsored, endorsed, supported, or drafted legislation or led initiatives to advance small business growth throughout Ohio.

    Special thanks go to the event sponsor, Taft Law.

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  • Next up: Urge the U.S. Senate to Extend the PPP Deadline

    Urge the U.S. Senate to Extend the PPP Deadline

     

    The American Rescue Plan Act – a $1.9 trillion bill – was recently signed into law by the President.  Key provisions were included that will aim to support broadband services, public transit, and small businesses.  Ohio is expected to receive more than $5.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan.

    Meanwhile, and as taxpayers await possible further guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, a bill to move the PPP application deadline from March 31st to May 31st was approved by  the U.S. House of Representatives, passing in a 415-3 vote.  The legislation now moves over to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

    The nearly unanimous vote came after several dozen business groups endorsed the PPP Extension Act of 2021, H.R. 1799, which extends the filing deadline for PPP applications by 60 days and provides an additional 30 days for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to finish processing applications received by May 31st.

    Our partners at the National Small Business Association (NSBA) are among the groups that have endorsed the legislation.  Please click here to take a moment and urge your U.S. Senators to support this legislation.

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