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

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.

Give Your Taxes Your Attention 365 Days a Year

Numerous tax experts agree that addressing your tax liability effectively requires planning throughout the year. Those business owners who reap the most benefits consider their taxes year-round, rather than waiting to focus on tax payments just a few weeks before the filing date.

A typical small business qualifies for roughly a dozen tax deductions. For example, you may be able to claim deductions on the following:

  • Cars operated for business purposes
  • Business-related travel expenses
  • Purchases of office supplies, furniture, equipment, and software programs
  • Telephone expenses
  • Contributions toward insurance policies, retirement plans, and pension funds

It’s surprising how many small businesses never take advantage of these deductions, mainly because they suffer from the “tax-planning-happens-but-once-a-year” syndrome. To fully benefit from these deductions, it’s important to maintain your expense records throughout the year. Click here to continue reading.

by Brent Ross, CPA of Ross, Hughes & Associates, CPAs, PLLC & SBRN Member

Creating Clarity in 2020

What do you most want to accomplish in 2020? Business growth? Better health? Less stress? Make a written list so you can see it in black and white.
There! You have taken your first step in creating clarity for the New Year! Believe it or not, that’s quite an accomplishment. Many people say they want to do something but never take the first action step. Now the fun begins!
So, how long is your list? Do you have just a few key items, or does it resemble your holiday grocery list?  Either way, I am happy to say that you CAN accomplish everything on your list! Yep, seriously! First, though, let’s review and fine-tune it.
In my Time Management Tool, you are taught to prioritize your To Do list. Since this is a pretty important “to do” list, we’re going to apply a similar process to your 2020 goals by aligning them with your values.
  • WHY do you want to accomplish this?
  • Do these fall under things you “Should do,” are “Expected to do,” or things you “Want to do”?
  • HOW will accomplishing this benefit you?
  • If you don’t accomplish this, what will happen?
  • If you don’t accomplish this, how will you feel?
Now, review your list again:
  • Cross off anything you marked that wasn’t “Want to”
  • Circle the items that bring you the most benefit
  • Highlight the items that will make you feel good/proud/successful

Click here to continue reading.

by Karen D. Nutter, CBK Coaching & SBRN Member

S-Corp Reasonable Compensation

Our last post helped you choose which entity is most suitable for your business. So what if you are an S-Corp? Are you confused about salary rules?

Is This Your Situation: Confused About Salary Rules in an S-Corp

You’re in business to make money to feed your family, send the kids to college or drive the sports car of your dreams. But when you’re a shareholder in an S corporation, how and how much you get paid can be controversial and a red flag for the IRS.

What is an S corporation?

Businesses are organized in many ways. In an S corporation, business income and losses pass through the business and become part of each shareholder’s personal tax return.

Why is that a good thing?

S-corp shareholders, who work as owners and employees, can save money on Social Security and Medicare taxes. The money they retain can be considered a distribution of earnings, which is exempt from payroll taxes.  Even better, S-corp officers and board members decide how much (or little) actual salary shareholders receive. If you own the S corporation where you work, you make that salary decision.  Continue reading here.

 

by Brent Ross, CPA, CFE, CPEC & SBRN Member

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