Impacted by COVID-19? Special assistance is now available.

What? Already! June Starts the Beginning of Hurricane Season

For those of us living in Florida, we received an indication that the Hurricane Season is beginning when the first named storm formed in May (Tropical Storm Arthur). While it did not pose a threat to Florida, it was a good reminder that businesses should prepare (for those that do not have them) or update their contingency and emergency plans. This alert also applies to those of you not likely to be affected by a hurricane, as every area has natural threats of some kind. Whether they are from earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, or volcanic eruptions does not matter. What matters is that your business is prepared to protect its staff, mitigate any risks, regroup after the event, and sustain its operations.

Protecting Staff – Your business should already have a fire drill plan, first aid kits, and posted emergency numbers to deal with any issues in the workplace. You should also have primary and secondary emergency contact numbers for staff. Primary ones are immediate family, and secondary ones are family or friends they might go to if they had to evacuate their home. Contacts should include cell phones as well as email addresses. You should give your staff the resources they need to create family emergency plans as well. A good source of information can be found at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Mitigating Risks – For known or expected risks, you should have mitigations in place. If an area has potential for earthquakes, securing shelves to the floor or wall can prevent them from falling on anybody. Keeping breakable and heavy items at a lower level will lessen the danger to people if they fall off a shelf. Areas with floods can keep flood dams on hand to keep water from entering doorways and could make sure that drains and drainage areas are kept clear. Hurricane shutters can keep windows and doors from being broken or blown open, and a backup generator can protect any perishable items a business may have. A safe room can protect customers and staff in the event of a tornado and be used as a storeroom as long as sufficient space for people is left open. Volcanic eruptions, at least in the U.S. seem to provide some advance warning, so the mitigation in this case might be to have an alternate location in mind, and pre-planned access to trucks for moving equipment and inventory if the area is likely to be evacuated in the near future.

Regrouping After the Event – When the event is over, having your insurance policies and contacts at hand will speed up the process of making claims if needed. If there is damage and you are fixing it or having it fixed, remember to take photographs first to document the damage. Having your tax returns and financial statements on hand will expedite applications for any emergency grants or loans that may be available. All information should also be in hardcopy form in the event that access to electronic versions is not possible due to Internet issues, power failure, or hardware problems.

Reopening – Contact your staff, customers, and vendors (you should have lists for all of them) and let them know when you plan to reopen. If your site is too damaged to reopen quickly, having a potential alternate location to operate from temporarily may be the best approach. Especially if you have to relocate temporarily, but otherwise in all events, use news, press releases, and social media to let the community know you are open for business again.

Sustaining Operations – If possible, have a commercial line of credit (or even a credit card) on standby for disaster recovery as it will help with one-time costs and offset any initially low cash flow following reopening. It will also provide a buffer between any costs incurred and when insurance or emergency loan monies are received. Review what happened, which mitigations worked, and which ones didn’t, and update your plan for the next time a business disruption occurs. If your premises were damaged and you have to rebuild, incorporate future mitigations into the construction. Stronger windows, additional drains, and other similar items can eliminate or reduce future damage.

You should never fear storms or natural events… they happen! In business, disruptions happen. What you should do is be aware of what may happen, make plans to minimize the impact, and plans to recover from any outcomes. Planning and preparing for disruptions will make your business more resilient and sustainable.

 

By Dr. Phil Geist, Associate Director (West), Small Business Consultant, Florida SBDC at UNF

 

Asian American Pacific Islander Entrepreneurs Recover Significantly from the Pandemic

Headshot of Janita R. StewartAccording to The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing racial group in the United States.  There are more than 1.9 million AAPI-owned enterprises in the United States; nearly 10% of all businesses in the United States, or about 1 out of 10 businesses. During AAPI Heritage Month, we are honored to recognize the tremendous accomplishments of AAPI entrepreneurs, especially as all small businesses across the nation are striving to recover and excel through today’s global pandemic.

While we celebrate the many contributions of the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American populace to our Nation, we also recognize that AAPI communities and small businesses face challenges accessing capital and opportunities.  Many of the AAPI-owned small businesses need assistance to access available resources such as business development counseling, small-business loans, and government procurement opportunities.  This is where the SBA steps in.

Last year, the SBA backed $11.5 billion in traditional 7(a) and 504 Loans to AAPI entrepreneurs. These loans contributed to the $814 billion in revenue that is produced by AAPI-owned employer firms per year. To help maintain these levels of success, many AAPI entrepreneurs took advantage of the recovery programs provided through the Economic Aid Act as well as found success through SBA’s fundamental small business programs.

By Janita R. Stewart, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Southeast Acting Regional Administrator, serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

Tips to Accessing Capital in 2021

With programs like the Employee Retention Tax Credit, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending program set to expire on December 31, small businesses may be wondering where they can go for capital. Florida’s banks were among those leading the nation in Payment Protection Program lending, according to Florida Bankers Association CEO Alex Sanchez. The new year, he said, will likely bring with it a strong economic recovery driven by a reliable vaccine and pent-up demand for activity. Banks, he continued, will be ready to lend the money that drives a significant portion of economic activity – including a possible second round of PPP loans. [Source: Miami Today]  While small businesses wait for an agreement over the next stimulus package and the re-authorization of the PPP forgivable loan program targeted at small businesses, here are a few things that small businesses can do to prepare.

  1. Using your tax return as a strategic instrument in accessing capital in 2021.  You need to file it early and show enough net income + depreciation + interest to cover any new debt payments at a ratio of at least $1.25 for every dollar of debt.  If you are going to apply for a loan you don’t want to show a business loss, file late or for an extension on your taxes.
  2. Spend time closing out your 2020 books and get your finances in order.
  3. Start contacting lenders to find out if they are participating in the PPP program.
  4. The Florida SBDC at UNF highly recommends meeting with one of our consultants before seeking finances.  We can assist you with your business plan, packaging your loan, financial projections, etc.
  5. If you are unable to wait to speak to an SBDC consultant here are few links to some lending opportunities:
    1. Ameris Bank (Apply at your local bank)
    2. https://us.accion.org/
    3. https://www.umwsb.com/
    4. https://ffcfc.com/Rebuild-Florida-Business-Loan-Fund
    5. https://www.lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/rural-relief-small-business-grants/

To read tips from ASBDC resource partner Rhonda Abrams, CEO of the PlanningShop on how to take advantage of programs under the small business provision of the new stimulus package click here.

For the most up-to-date information on how the SBA will implement legislation, please visit www.sba.gov or subscribe to email updates at www.sba.gov/updates.

 

By the Florida SBDC at UNF

Strategic Planning Fundamentals

Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to provide direction to an organization. Through this activity, the mission, vision, values and goals are identified. While not always an easy process, the results are well worth the effort. Going through this process allows the organization to set priorities, determine where to focus energy and resources, strengthen organizational operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are all working toward common goals, establish agreement regarding intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction, as needed, in response to a changing environment. A product of strategic planning is the generation of fundamental documentation that answers the following organizational questions:

Who am I?
Who do I serve?
What do I do?
Why do we do it?

These questions should be answered with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning not only takes a look at your current position, but articulates where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress and includes how the organization will know if it is successful.

Minimal Components of a Strategic Plan

The strategic plan is the documentation created from the strategic planning process. While there are many variations and templates of what should be included, most agree that the following are minimal components.  Continue reading here.

Preparing for the New Normal

A lot of adjectives have been used to describe our current situation: chaotic, once in a lifetime, strange, unusual, and unprecedented, along with others that are less politically correct. Everybody using one of them agrees that this is not a normal time. But what is normal? Dictionary.com defines ‘normal’ as “conforming to the standard or common.” It defines ‘normalcy’ as “the quality or condition of being normal, as the general economic, political, and social conditions of a nation.” I think we can all agree that the general economic, political, and social conditions we are experiencing today do NOT conform to what is (or was) standard or common.

When the pandemic is declared over, the conditions we experience will not be the same as before, they will be what is commonly referred to as “The New Normal.” To be prosper and be sustainable, businesses will have to adapt and adjust to the New Normal. The situation we face will not be unusual; following virtually every major disruption of the previous norm, the generations that were affected by it, either economically, physically, or psychologically, developed new business and consumer practices, personal preferences, and social mores. 

The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 resulted in an international awareness of conditions that spread disease, the need for people with cold symptoms to stay home and not circulate in society, and the need to create and maintain hygienic conditions in food processing, medical spaces, and public venues. The Great Depression of the 1930’s brought about the federal government’s oversight of financial markets, federal aid to states, and programs like Social Security. The older generations developed a focus on frugality and the need to save for the future rather than spend for today as the economy recovered. World War II changed society’s perception of the role of women in the workplace. As the economy boomed in the aftermath of the war, the age of consumerism began with households vying to purchase ‘the latest and greatest.’ More recently, the attack on the World Trade Centers on 9/11 changed our perception of security, social mores, and public acceptance of background checks.

How does this relate to today, and more specifically to business owners? We can expect that when the pandemic ends, what we viewed as normal conditions and standards will change. What we don’t know is how it will change, and which changes will be permanent versus those that are temporary. We do know that business owners must begin now to anticipate what might change, make adjustments to their business model and then monitor it and adapt to actual and future changes. They must be proactive rather than reactive and must be willing to make decisions with imperfect information. That is not to say they should not research customer needs and industry and market trends. It is saying that they must make decisions based on the best information available at the time and then adjust as conditions change and develop.

An example of early decision making is a story by Cameron Ridle, posted on 4/21/20 on the RTV6 Indianapolis website in which he describes how Jasen Lockwood, owner of the Runway Barber and Beauty Lounge is preparing for reopening by getting gloves and masks for all barbers and customers, setting up shifts for the barbers so only every other barber station will be used at a given time to create social distancing, and obtaining disinfectant sprays so each customer can see the clippers and scissors being cleaned before they are used on them. Jasen has checked with his barbers and customers and has taken actions that will make them feel comfortable when he is able to reopen.

On April 21st IndustryWeek.com posted an article about what manufacturing will look like after Covid -19. It notes potential trends to employ more automation to lower costs as more processes are brought back to the USA instead of using overseas suppliers, and describes how plants and processes will be restructured to provide more social distancing and have additional personal protective gear available for employees. Functions that can be performed remotely may be shifted to work-at-home to allow greater spacing between office employees. Supply chains and vendors will be re-examined for reliability and multiple sources of key components will become normal. 

Whether your business serves consumers in a retail setting, is in healthcare, manufacturing, travel or recreation, or any other category, it will be affected by the New Normal. Whether your business is in an essential category and open now, or waiting for the lockdown to be lifted, you are not likely to return to ‘business as usual’ in the future. You must begin now to research customer preferences, employee concerns, industry trends, and regulatory changes to be able to prepare for the future. Chambers of Commerce, industry associations, news outlets, universities and other reputable organizations are all posting data, information, predictions and trends that you can use. You should also be polling your customers, employees and vendors to determine their concerns and preferences for the future. 

Your business needs to be READI for the New Normal:

R – Research the New Normal including emerging trends and review information periodically for updates.

E – Engage others in your review process: customers, employees, suppliers, and vendors.

A – Adapt your business model to the New Normal conditions.

D – Decide on what actions you need to take for your business to prosper in the New Normal.

I – Implement your plan, then review periodically by returning to “R” and repeating the process.

By Dr. Philip R. Geist, Area Director, Florida SBDC at UNF

Disaster Capital Resources

Federal appropriations for the SBA EIDL (loans and advances) and the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) have been exhausted.  Additional funding is being considered by Congress.

The Florida SBDC at UNF is here to provide access to the disaster capital and resources your business needs to recover, rebuild and grow. For businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19 here is information on low-interest federal business disaster loans. 

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee and Forgiveness
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020. You can apply through any of the existing SBA 7(a) lenders or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Here is a link to the application.

U.S. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. Impacted businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and private nonprofit organizations may apply for low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. A $10,000 advance on an EIDL may be available even if your EIDL application was declined or is still pending, and will be forgiven. Click here to learn more and apply.

SBA Debt Relief Program
The Debt Relief Program provides immediate relief for new and existing borrowers of SBA’s regular loan guarantee programs. For existing borrowers with a regular 7(a), 504 or micro-loan, SBA will automatically make payments on your behalf for a period of six months. For new borrowers, SBA will automatically cover payments due prior to September 27, 2020.  Click here to learn more.

Local Jacksonville Small Businesses
The City of Jacksonville and VyStar Credit Union are collaborating on a loan program to assist local small businesses affected by the COVID-19 response. Click here to learn more and apply.

For more information to help you with your business recovery efforts, including details about Small Business Disaster Loan Programs; information on Where to Find Assistance; Additional Resources; and more please visit our regional and state SBDC website pages at:
Florida SBDC at UNF Coronavirus Small Business Resource Page 
Florida SBDC Network COVID-19 Business Disaster Assistance Page

Paycheck Protection Program

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Guarantee and Forgiveness


Program Overview 
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.  SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.  The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.  

Who Can Apply 
This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19.  Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries.  Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible at the store and location level if the store employs less than 500 workers. This means each store location could be eligible.

How to Apply
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.  

Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.  

What Do You Need to Apply

  • Application
  • 3 Years Business Tax Returns (Signed and Dated)
  • 3 Years Personal Tax Returns (Signed and Dated) If 2019 is not complete, send copy of extension and W-2.
  • Interims (if you don’t have 2019 taxes done, make sure you have P&L and Balance Sheet for 2019 and copy of the extension
  • Interims for this year (January – March)
  • Mortgage Statement or Lease Agreement
  • Utility Bills
  • SBA Personal Financial Statement
  • Details on the costs outlined below. Monthly data here for expenses incurred prior to February 15, 2020. They are looking for the average monthly costs from the last year.
    • Payroll information:
    • 1099 (If you have independent contractors)
    • IRS Forms 940 and 941
    • Payroll Summary
    • If you are a business where employees get tips and they include in their tips in their W-2’s, copies of those W-2’s

Please continue to visit our websites for updates to resources for your small business:

Florida SBDC at UNF Coronavirus Small Business Resource Page

Florida SBDC Network COVID-19 Business Disaster Assistance Page 

 

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Activated for COVID-19

Florida small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) may now apply for short-term, interest-free loans through the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program.

The purpose of the loan program, which was activated by Governor DeSantis, is to help business owners bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other longer-term resources, such as insurance proceeds or federal disaster assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Through the program, qualified small businesses with two to 100 employees affected by COVID-19 can apply for loans up to $50,000 for one-year terms. To be eligible, a business must be located in Florida, have been established prior to March 9, 2020, and demonstrate economic injury as a result of the virus.

To complete a bridge loan application by the May 8, 2020 deadline, and for more information about the program, please visit www.floridadisasterloan.org.

Connect to other resources for your small business here.

Recession-Proof Business Planning

A strong economy can mask underlying problems at a small business. When the next recession hits — and historically speaking, it’s already overdue — will your business be healthy enough to not only survive, but possibly even thrive? It can be — but only if you have the right plan in place.

Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks
Every small-business owner says they want to grow their company. But how many are really prepared for the challenge?

Often, a vital step in growing your business is being able to raise cash quickly to capitalize on a sudden opportunity. Oddly enough, a recession can present some prime opportunities for growth, as some of your competitors might decide to sell off their assets at an attractive rate when faced with financial distress.

And the first step in raising cash is to have a lender-ready business plan.

SBA Loan Basics
Anytime you apply for an SBA loan, your package must include a business plan that meets the underwriter’s requirements. Those minimum requirements include 12 to 36 months of:

  • Profit-and-loss projections
  • Balance sheet projections
  • Cash flow projections

And that’s just the financial portion. You’ll also want to include an executive summary with notes on market size and demographics.

A word of warning: When writing a business plan or applying for a loan, it’s not a good idea to describe your potential market as “everyone.” That’s just a sign that you haven’t done your homework.

A dentist, for example, could reasonably argue that everyone in the world needs dental services. But the bank could just as reasonably counter that one dentist can’t possibly treat everyone in the world. So it comes down to the dentist defining the geographic area their practice will encompass, explaining why that area isn’t already saturated with dental-service providers and defining what sets the new practice apart. Continue reading here.

Opportunities for Black-Owned Businesses Are Thriving

By Ashley D. Bell Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Black History Month is celebrated every February; a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant roles that African-Americans have played in shaping U.S. history.  I am honored to highlight the significant role that African Americans have made in shaping our economy through entrepreneurship and community investment.

The Small Business Administration has helped to power the American dream for many African American entrepreneurs across the nation and in the Southeastern Region. The SBA backed $210 million in loans to African American owned small businesses across the 8 Southeastern states last fiscal year. $2.3 billion in federal contracts were awarded to the SBA’s 8(a) certified firms; small businesses that have proven to be economically disadvantaged. Over 100,000 start-up and existing entrepreneurs last year were counseled and trained through the extensive resource partners we work with such as SCORE, the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. The SBA has driven entrepreneurs successfully to the website LenderMatch to help connect a lender to the specific loan needs of a small business owner. We are reaching more entrepreneurs today more than ever before; and this is just the beginning.

Last year, I was humbled by receiving the Drum Major for Justice Award from the President of the Perry County Civic League, Albert Turner, at the historic Marion Baptist Academy located in Marion, Alabama. During the ceremony I explained, “I accept this honor on behalf of our lost loved ones whose deaths have paved our path. I know without any uncertainty that I would not be here today without the sacrifices of those like brother Jimmie Lee Jackson who was killed organizing for voter rights here in Marion. And for the life and legacy of Marion’s favorite daughter Coretta Scott King.”  I mention this award and this occurrence, because it helps to show just how important history is and it ties right into this year’s theme for Black History Month:  African Americans and the Vote, recognizing the struggle for voting rights among both black men and women throughout American history.

We have come so far over time, and yet we have a lot more work to do. My job won’t be finished until each and every African American owned small business has knowledge of what opportunities exist for them towards their success from the programs and services of the SBA to the multiple growth options made available through Opportunity Zones, through supply chain demand, through public and private contracting opportunities, access to capital, and the list goes on. I look forward to continuing to deliver services and opportunities to black-owned businesses across the nation through my role as Regional Administrator for the SBA and as a Policy Advisor on Entrepreneurship & Innovation for the White House office of American Innovation.

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