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: FAQs with Phil: Should I use a laser pointer for my slides?

    FAQs with Phil: Should I use a laser pointer for my slides?

    Our resident communications expert Phil Stella answers the question, Do laser pointers still have a place in presentations?

     

    In this Mind Your Business series, FAQs With Phil, COSE’s own Phil Stella answers some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners have regarding how to communicate effectively*. 

    Q. Should I use a laser pointer for my slides?
    A.  Don't let the technology tail wag the presenter dog.

    As a person who has given many, many presentations over the years, I have some opinions about using laser pointers—as you might expect I would. For decades I have seen presentation technology change and evolve—yet the laser pointer is still here. 

    Let me walk you through why I don’t care for the laser pointer, but also how you can use it more effectively if you do feel the need to use one. 

    One major downside of the pointer is the need to look at the screen when using it. I regularly rant about not turning your back on the audience to read a slide to them. Using the laser pointer has the same effect. When you’re turned around looking at the screen and directing the laser pointer, you’ve immediately lost eye contact. Eye contact during a presentation is so important for many reasons, and they all have to do with establishing audience connection. If you can’t look your audience members in the eyes, they will be less engaged—no question. And you won’t know who is paying attention, or if there appear to be questions or concerns from attendees. Without facing your audience, you can’t read the room. And they will think you’re just another presenter, not caring to establish a connection or become invested in your listeners’ experience. 

    Another less serious and more amusing result is the likelihood that a jittery hand would make the red dot jump around like a buzzing bee. Talk about magnifying your nervousness so everyone can see it more clearly! It not only means you’ve lost a connection with your audience from lack of eye contact, but you’ve just provided them with a huge distraction.

    If a slide with a chart or graph is so complicated that you really need the pointer to help the audience understand it, then it really must be a terrible slide. If you have so much copy on a slide that you need to highlight certain parts, you have too much copy on the slide. And needing to use the pointer, points that out. You would be better off if you invested time to create more effective slides and animate or zoom in for emphasis or clarity.

    With all of that being said, if you must use a laser pointer, use it wisely. Practice with it so when you point things out on the screen, you look at it in silence as much as possible. This will minimize loss of eye contact. You can then turn back around after pointing to the portion of your slide you’re referring to and reengage with the audience as you continue your talk.

    Additionally, it’s good practice to just leave the pointer on the podium or table when not in use so it doesn’t otherwise limit gestures and become something to play with. The last thing you need is to have less eye contact, a buzzing bee laser pointer, and something in your hands that you fiddle with as you’re talking.

    So, I hope you get my point about avoiding this evil little device as much as possible. It only weakens your image and reduces your credibility.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

    *If you have a question for Phil, please send him an email at Phil@communicate-confidently.com

     
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  • Next up: Start Delegating Your Way to Success Today

    Start Delegating Your Way to Success Today

    You think nobody can do it as well as you or that it takes more time to explain it to someone else than to do it yourself. But being able to effectively delegate is a key to any entrepreneur's success. Learn why and how.

     

    It’s time to review the Art and Science of Delegation—an essential leadership skill for entrepreneurs—and discuss three important questions.

    Question No. 1: Why don’t entrepreneurs delegate?
    There are lots of reasons why entrepreneurs have difficulty delegating and they all seem logical at the time:
       No one can do it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than you can. So, why bother delegating?
       It takes more time to delegate the task than to do it yourself.
    •   If you want it done right or right now, then do it yourself.
    •   There isn’t anyone to delegate to. You just don’t have competent people or those you can trust enough.
    •   You don’t want to give up power or authority.
    •   You like doing the task—it’s fun, or at least enjoyable. The task makes you feed good and compensates a little for all the things you have to do that you don’t like.
    •   And a major reason that most people won’t admit: You don’t know how to delegate.

    RELATED: Dealing with owner fatigue

    Question No. 2: Why should you delegate more often?
    Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the reasons why we should delegate more, but often the reasons are right in front of us. 
    •   If you spend too much time working in your businesses, you can’t be spending enough time working on your businesses. And that’s where real innovation, growth and improvements come from.
    •   If you’re doing too much, you’re too involved in the daily operations and the business can’t survive without you. Therefore, you can’t sell it or leave it to your kids.
    •   Owners can’t do everything equally well. You should spend most of your time on the most important tasks of running the business, like visioning, planning, customer relationship building and being the face of the business. The other tasks can and should be delegated in part or in whole.
    •   Delegation is a great way to develop skills on your bench and give junior level staff a change of pace and focus. And some of them will likely do the task better than you could anyway.

    Question No. 3: How do you make delegating work?
    Now that we’ve established the why, let’s talk about the how. There are things you can start doing right now to get yourself on the path to delegating.
       Stop using the excuses in #1 and embrace the wisdom and reality of the reasons in #2.
    •   Commit to making task analysis, process improvements and delegation all critical strategies for your organization.
    •   “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” asserted management guru Peter Drucker years ago. So, consider time a rare and valuable resource and measure how well you use it.
    •   Have each key manager log his or her time use in 15-minute increments over different days in different weeks. List incoming calls, texts or emails separately. Then analyze the results.
    •   Embrace Process Mapping – identify major processes critical for the operation of the office/business and have each person involved in that process map it or list step by step how he or she does it.
    •   Share the maps in a group meeting, merge the various steps and create a composite best practice procedure for that process. Document it, create job aids for training new people on it and evaluate performance effectiveness and efficiency against the procedure.

    RELATED: Read more by Phil Stella

       Learn about the ‘Urgent/Important’ matrix where each task is evaluated according to how urgent and important it is. Low urgent/important tasks are potential for eliminating or delegating. High urgent/important tasks deserve more emphasis.
       Another method is to assign an arbitrary value for your time—a high dollar/hour amount. Then, create three groups of tasks: 1.  Those for which you are paid too much—a high probability for dumping or delegating. 2.  Those for which you are paid fairly—keep doing them. 3.  And most importantly, those tasks for which you are not paid enough. These represent your best and highest use, so spend more time and effort on them, the result of delegating or dumping the lower value items.
       You get what you ask for and model, so start small and simple by effectively delegating to your subordinate staff.
    •   Teach them how to do it right. If you don’t know how, hire a specialized consultant who can help you.
    •   You get what you reward, so make effective delegation part of their written performance objectives and include factors affecting their salary increases.

    As you’ve seen, effective delegation is both an art and a science. Properly done, it generates significant value for your team, your organization and yourself. And don’t tell me it won’t work … until you can tell me it didn’t work.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com,440-449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  

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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: Steps to Dealing with Aggressive Customers

    Steps to Dealing with Aggressive Customers

    No matter how carefully you consider various policies at your small business, you may encounter customers who don't agree with your decisions. These steps can help you deal with customers who turn aggressive in your workplace.

     

    The pandemic has brought a new wave of issues into the forefront for small businesses. One of the biggest and most challenging is how to deal with customers who are refusing to follow the rules and pose a risk to employees and other customers. Unfortunately, even asking customers to wear a mask has become a huge and sometimes violent issue. What can you as a small business do to make sure your customers abide by the rules, including wearing a mask or social distancing? How can you keep your employees safe in such a volatile situation?

    Let’s begin with how your staff deals with customers. You want to retain these customers because they are important to your bottom line, but you also have a responsibility to keep everyone safe. This is where good training comes in. Training your staff to deal with aggressive or complaining customers/clients can help to prevent or diffuse a potentially violent situation.

    RELATED: Good customer service is key to small business success.

    Most customers act out based on their genuine feelings or opinions. This comes from an emotional place and it is important to understand that. Today with the pandemic lingering for so very long and how it has been politicized, many people are experiencing higher levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and anger. This may cause some people to transfer their feeling of frustration, anger or anxiety to your staff. While this is sometimes scary and has the potential to become violent, there are steps you can take to prevent an altercation:

    Step No. 1: Communicate consistently. Post your rules on safety measures clearly so they can be seen. This includes masks, social distancing and other safety measures you have taken. Put them on your door, on your website, and include them in any social media you use. Send an email blast to your customers and clients. Put them on your menus and on any other communication or marketing pieces you use. If your customers have to make appointments or reservations, remind them at that time of all your protocols. 

    Step No. 2: Include your staff in all protocols. In the cases of COVID, have your staff wear masks and follow all rules. This reinforces that you are serious and sends a cohesive message.  

    Step No. 3: Never minimize an issue. This will make your customers feel like they are being patronized and puts them on the defensive, which can lead to violence. 

    RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff

    Step No. 4: Don’t argue. Instead of arguing back, simply say you understand and then take action to resolve the issue. This doesn’t mean you are agreeing that they are right or that you are apologizing, it just means that you are telling them you understand their issue and their feelings. But stick to your rules. Don’t make exceptions—that will send the wrong message.

    Step No. 5: Come up with a quick resolution. The person who takes the complaint or issue must be able to deal with it and come up with a resolution. It doesn't matter who has seniority. What matters is that the issue is fully resolved.

    Training your employees to handle complaints and issues properly, promptly and consistently is crucial—especially during these high-stress times. Acknowledge employees who successfully diffuse issues to reinforce that they did the job well. Happy customers/clients are return customers/clients. 

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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