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Tips for Positive Pandemic Mental Health

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

 

  • Consider Your Anxiety about Controlling Your Circumstances:

The pandemic is not your fault. Others will understand this in retrospect. Stay gracious for the gifts the universe gave you. Recognize any blessings that may surround you. Do not howl at the moon about whatever someone could do differently.   Find joy whenever and wherever you can.

  • Open Your Mind to New Methods of Outreach:

We are lucky to have the Internet, given pandemic restrictions about meeting in person. As many have discovered in the past few years, several online outlets provide avenues for connection. Google chat, Zoom and Facetime are among them.

Time with friends and family salves frayed nerves and depressed feelings. Circumstances with the pandemic seem to throw a wrench into our normal outlets. However, online interactions still provide meaning. Even day-to-day, a simple message may provide connection even for those not immediately living with friends or family.

  • Stay Productive:

The lack of a routine confounds many stuck at home. Remember the routine of waking up, eating breakfast, and commuting to the salt mines? Furloughed workers may relish these memories. Same for work-from-home employees. As many times as you may have pounded that snooze button, at least you had somewhere to go. The trip to work provided a new adventure every day.

The unexpected pandemic disrupted our workplace lives. Our sense of validation often comes from our accomplishments. During the crisis, we often must squeeze water from a rock. However, many of us have lists of projects that can fill our day. Consider the pandemic an opportunity to explore new horizons.

Learn an instrument. Practice a language. Redecorate your house. People need to feel useful. Small business owners should get creative about using down-time productively.

  • Do Not Compare Yourself to Others:

The Age of Social Media has brought new strains of peer pressure upon all of us. Now that so many spend so much time at home, the pandemic has exacerbated this stress. Social media is often the only outlet.

Remember, your friends on social media post what they find worthy to post. In the end, we all do. More power to all of us. And many of us not even on social media.

In an age when so many of us have “our own brand,” always remember that the online presences of others does not define us. We should stay confident of our own identity while respecting those of others.

  • Stay Mindful by Journaling:

Keeping a journal is healthy. You have likely developed some new routines during this period. Record your thoughts. Take the time to write down new recipes, insights, and feelings. Mindfulness keeps us aware of our ongoing mental states. Journaling can help with mindfulness. Day-to-day, records of your mental state could well prove benefits to your mental well-being.

  • Get Out of the House and Exercise:

The virus is weakest outdoors. Rather than going stir-crazy in the stuffy confines of our claustrophobic domiciles, simple walks outside do wonders for our mental health. Hikes, jogging, bicycling, and any number of activities can leave us with a new outlook and bring home a sense of relief. Just remember not to “share air,” as the new pandemic saying goes.

A few additional hints from Debbie Gregory, VAMBOA’s founder & CEO:

A few things that help me:   I make sure to acknowledge gratitude for the people in my life and all that I am grateful for each day.  It is nice to add it to your journal too.   This is a good way to begin your daily entry.   Almost every day, even if I am not going anywhere, I still shower, groom, dress nicely if only for me.   This helps me to be positive and when we look nice, we feel better, at least I do.    Once in a while, I do have a pajama day, but it is rare.  For me, it is better to make sure my clothes fit than to hang out in PJs or sweats.   I also go out of my way to make nice, healthy meals and exercise even when I cannot go outside with online classes, an elliptical or exercise bike.  Walking is the best.   The love, affection and devotion from our fur children is priceless too.    I also try to meditate at least once a day and find the joy where I can and often.  I am a glass is half full girl too.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been helpful.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Quick Guide to the New Stimulus Act

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

  • What is the Small Business Administration (SBA)?

The Small Business Administration known as the SBA runs the stimulus programs relevant to small businesses, including the loans under the Paycheck Protection Plan. Generally, financial institutions administer the loans. The mission of the Small Business Administration is “to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters.” The SBA has offices in each state. Contact your local office for information about PPP loans and pandemic assistance.

  • What are Payment Protection Loans?

Payment Protection loans are forgivable loans under the CARES Act, signed by the former President on March 27, 2020. The Small Business Administration primarily intends the loans to ensure that smaller businesses meet payroll.   President Biden is opening a new round of PPP Loans.

  • Criteria for Small Business Loans under the Second Draw Paycheck Protection Plan:

Second Draw PPP Loans started with the second act on January 13, 2021 for select businesses who were original PPP recipients. These businesses must have exhausted their original funds from a first draw loan.

The criteria are the following: (1) money is going to small businesses, defined as having fewer than 300 employees per location. These businesses must (2) have been specifically affected by the pandemic, and (3) must have lost 25% in revenue in any quarter of this year compared to last year.

  • Forgiveness Simplified:

Forgivable expenses now include (1) supplier costs, (2) operations expenditures for everyday functioning, (3) property damage from public disturbances, and (4) safety expenditures. When you apply for forgiveness of the PPP loan, any expenses are tax-deductible.

  • Support for Minority-Owned Businesses and Depressed or Rural Communities:

Businesses in Low to Moderate (LMI) income areas may qualify for additional support. The latest CARES act has set aside $15 billion for initial PPP loans and $25 billion for second PPP loans.

Credit unions and other financial institutions may qualify. Other eligible recipients include small agricultural credit unions, minority depository institutions, certified development companies (CDCs), and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), as well as groups that administer SBA Microloans.

  • Seasonal Employers:

The SBA now defines seasonable employers as those that (1) operate for no more than seven months of the year, or (2) earned no more than 1/3 of their revenue in any six months in the prior calendar. Seasonal employers have different eligibility and forgiveness criteria.

7) Employee-Retention Tax Credit:

The “Employee Retention Tax Credit” Induces employers to maintain payrolls. The new bill expands benefits from employers with 500 or fewer employees to those with 100 or fewer employees.

These businesses may use the credit based on wages from the same quarter in a previous year.  New employers may claim the credit even if they formed in 2019 or early 2020. There is also help managing health plan expenses. Further, the new bill removes the 30-day wage limitation, and even allows certain public organizations to claim the credit.

8) Deferral of Social Security Taxes:

Employers’ social security taxes are deferable for eligible businesses. The new CARES Act relieves those taxes through March 2021, and repayment may extend until late 2022.

9) EIDL Program:

The new wave of PPP loans does not preclude Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Small businesses may receive both. The main caveat is that the SBA now has more power to detect fraud. Also, proprietors need not deduct the EIDL grant from the PPP forgiveness amount. Emphasis remains on employee retention, with $1000 per employee grants still available.

10) Additional benefits for nonprofits:

Individual taxpayers can deduct even more for charitable giving. Nonprofits should emphasize this benefit when soliciting donations. The “above-the-line” charitable contribution is now $600 for joint filers, and $300 for others.

11) Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program:

The pandemic has direly affected arts and entertainment venues. A grants program supports these businesses under the new legislation. Businesses that receive such grants will not receive PPP loans. The new program provides grants to entities with 70 percent or greater loss in revenue. These businesses include museum operators, those involved with the performing arts, and talent agencies.

12) Exemptions:

There are certain exemptions for PPP loans under the new round of CARES legislation. Examples may include entities that receive a grant under the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant Program (such as above), businesses affiliated with the People’s Republic of China, registrants under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and political or lobbying organizations.

 

We hope that this article has been helpful.   We work hard to bring you important, helpful and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Rightsizing Your Business During Tough Times

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The pandemic’s disruption on the economy has been epic and continues. There are many businesses that are able not only to survive but can also thrive in such conditions. Others, not so much. Huge swaths of the economy are struggling. Unfortunately, downsizing is an unavoidable necessity for many small business owners.

Depending on the circumstances and nature of the recession, some businesses seem nearly recession-proof. Examples include essential services including the repair industry, online services, food and beverages, information technology, and health care. Such businesses tend to stand up to economic trauma.

Other companies, not so much.  In this current recession, restaurants, entertainment venues, and luxury goods tend to wash out when consumers tighten their belts. As such, widespread downsizing is inevitable. Fortunately, there are right and wrong ways to downsize.

Below are some mistakes to avoid when rightsizing your business:

  • Eliminating Entire Business Functions Unnecessarily:

Before eliminating an entire division or business function, consider the feasibility of across-the-board cuts. That function may well come in handy further down the line. Your business during tough times should become leaner and meaner, while remaining versatile. Use caution before eliminating an entire department or function. Even when the time comes to tighten your belt, a business should stay prepared for whatever challenge awaits and be prepared for the future.

  • Failing to use Empathy with Staffing Changes:

When the time comes for layoffs, empathy and kindness counts a great deal. When laying off employees, do so with compassion, and consideration for overall circumstances. The same goes for schedule and salary changes. Downsizing mistakes can affect the employer’s relationship with his or her remaining workers. Any staffing agencies the business uses may also hesitate to work with such a business. Finally, wide repercussions can follow a reputation as a cruel employer.  Makes sure you are following all applicable laws as well.

  • Misreading Economic Circumstances:

An economic downturn is a good time for positive thinking. Employers in a recession need to get down to business. Plan for the worst-case scenario.  Protect your bottom line, and ensure core operations are safe even as opportunities may drive up.

  • Inventory Hoarding:

Inventory can be painful to lose, especially at less than its full value. However, inventory is also expensive to store and maintain.  Business owners should liquidate when necessary and makes good business sense. Cash on-hand serves the company better than depreciating stock in the warehouse that is taking up space and perhaps expiring.

  • Practice What You Preach:

Hardship is a two-way street in an economic downturn. Employers should demonstrate their own willingness to sacrifice. Concrete lifestyle changes show a spirit of togetherness against adverse circumstances. A recession is the wrong time for fancy vacations and glamorous purchases. You and your employees are in the same boat. Show it. You need to work together in order to come out in a positive way.

  • How to Adapt to Rough Times:

Staying realistic can be a challenge when a business’s course takes a painful turn, especially with the current challenges from the pandemic. Sometimes, the best course is to sacrifice, and grin and bear it. An owner should keep the faith while rolling up his or her sleeves. The economy is cyclical, and circumstances will change. A recession is a time to weather the storm. Owners should understand that good proprietorship entails sucking up the bad with the good. Remember that even if the business fails, things will get better.

Even during these challenging times, it is important to stay positive and focused both personally and professionally.   VAMBOA wishes you great success.

We hope that this article has been helpful.   We work hard to bring you important, helpful and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Small Business Funding for Veteran Businesses

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Grants and loans for your small business are quite distinct entities.  It is important to understand the differences.  Loans may provide favorable terms and reduced interest rates, as well as better forbearance and deferment policies. Grants should be favored. Grants are yours to keep. A brand-new entrepreneur with a startup is well advised to research grant opportunities first and foremost, before taking out loans as needed.

This article will provide some of the important distinctions.

Small Business Grants

Whence come small business grants for veterans.   Grants generally come from two sources:  They come most of the time from governments and private organizations. Remember, though, that grants generally come with conditions.

Organizations that provide grants rarely bail out startup businesses or businesses deep in debt. Grant money is selectively distributed, and the benefactors choose their funding paths carefully. Nonprofits, minority-owned companies, and medical firms with experimental treatments are examples.

Many grants go to rural small businesses, in order to help maintain economic vibrance in the surrounding area. Organizations that provide the grants usually hope the money will go to the public good.

Veteran-Owned Businesses are yet another example. Many resources online provide information for small-business grants designed for Veteran Business Owners.

The following website is an excellent resource for private organizations that provide small business grants for Veterans: 12 Small Business Grants for Veterans in 2021 (fundera.com). Another good resource is Grants for Veterans Starting a Business – Kabbage Resource Center | Kabbage Resource Center.

The federal government also provides grants to help many types of struggling business owners. Grants.gov is a great resource for government-sourced small business loans for veterans.

Small Business Loans

What about small business loans? Terms vary depending upon conditions of the debtor, creditor, loan administrator, and society in general. Thorough research is key, as loans carry greater risks than grants.

The Small Business Administration is an excellent resource for those who choose this lending route. The relevant website is SBA Business Loan Information for Veterans | The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov

First steps for considering a good veteran’s SBA loan include the following questions: (1) how much money fits your current business needs, (2) the purpose of the loan, (3) the loan terms, and (4) your own plans and financial circumstances.

Fraud

Dire consequences await those who dishonestly accept small business grants. These grants come from governmental or private institutions with a purpose. Never lie to accept a grant. The same goes for loans. Private institutions can pursue you in civil (and criminal) court.

As for the government, it is never a good idea to lie to a government institution. You will have to pay back the money, and they will find a way to make you do it, even if they had already deposited the money into your bank account by mistake.

Takeaways

Funding resources for veteran owners of small businesses are readily available. Finding various private or public sources of funding may take some detective-work but do your research because there are many options.  You should find the one(s) that are right for your business and your needs.  We hope the resources provided may provide a step-in-the-right-direction and a starting point. honest   Whatever your path, consider your financial resources, personal circumstances, and long-term capacities.  VAMBOA wishes you great success.

 

VAMBOA hopes that you have enjoyed this article.   We work hard to bring our audience timely and important information.

We do not charge members any dues or fees.  If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, please join here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Members may use our seal on their web sites and collateral and will receive special discounts and other important information.

When and How to Sell a Small Business

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Business owners commonly build and then sell small businesses. Creating and selling businesses might be quite lucrative, depending on your expertise. Aside from being financially necessary, such a venture can be financially healthy in and of itself.

Successful business owners find various reasons to sell parts of their hard-won entrepreneurial ventures. At times, the business owner needs cash flow. At other times, the owner has encountered another entrepreneur with special expertise, who may further develop that portion of the business according to their own interests. The trick is to consider the right circumstances for you.

First, that business (or portion thereof) might have become a liability. Perhaps a home business requires a great deal of heavy moving, and the owner has suffered an injury. Maybe the business has developed in a new direction and the older parts of the company might better serve another organization. Maybe costs have increased, suppliers have left, or labor has become scarce in that region. In each case, a sale might be worthwhile.

Second, perhaps selling the business was the plan from the start. Perhaps a spark of inspiration led to the creation of that widget, but others have better resources to build that concept. In such a case, building the business short-term may be lucrative and productive. Selling the business might provide the end-fruits of the owner’s labor. The new business can carry on the concept with their own expertise and resources.

Third, the owner may simply be doing too much. Sometimes, a business expands too quickly. Skilled labor can be difficult to find even in an employer’s market. A sale may offer the company more value-added than an expensive hiring process. Often, a different organization has the resources to manage the workload for a part of your business.

Fourth, sometimes the market becomes risky for certain endeavors. For example, property management companies do best when real estate sales slump and more people rent. Real estate agencies do best when the market is hot. Sometimes, one business might raise capital selling resources to another when the two businesses are counter-cyclical. The economy frequently shifts so that one company’s resources might better serve another.

Fifth, the sale may pave the way for collaboration with another company. A partial sale is an excellent way to start an ongoing relationship. Suppose you own a computer repair company, and no longer need certain equipment. Another company may buy the equipment, then keep you on-call for service in the future. Additionally, the sale can establish ongoing synergies that may allow access to bargain deals or valuable expertise. Business relationships form over time, and sales of a part of a company may provide a future partner with intimate perspective. With growing familiarity, the partnership may become quite lucrative.

Whether to sell part of a company may depend on the changing circumstances of the owner, the economy, or the clients. Businesses are interdependent, and their needs often complement each other. Timing and long-term vision determines the best window for the best opportunities.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that you have found this article on “When and How to Sell a Small Business” to be helpful and that it provides you valuable information.

VAMBOA invites you to become a member.  There are not any dues or fees.  VAMBOA is the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.   You can also use the VAMBOA seal for your collateral and website.   Below is a link to join and register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

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