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Rebuilding Your Business After COVID-19 : Part 2 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has been raging all over the world since late 2019 and almost every small business has suffered various types of negative financial effects. Having a keen understanding of exactly how much your business has suffered, as well as having a solid plan in place, will dramatically help your business get back on track during this pandemic and hopefully after the danger has passed.

In Part one of this mini-series we covered some ways you can prepare your business.  This part will continue to provide you a few more things you can do right now to prepare your business for a post-COVID-19 world.  VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association wishes you great success and prosperity.

 

4.) Time to Revise Your Budget:

To place your business back on its feet, you may need to invest a significant amount of money and/or resources to make money.   You may need to launch new ad campaigns as well as invest in new marketing materials and collateral.  You may also need to determine if you need new inventory as well as there might be new and improved   equipment that you need to buy.  You may also to hire or rehire employees with additional skills such as eCommerce expertise.  You must have a clear vision of   how much you need to get your business rolling on a day-to-day basis.   It is a reasonable assumption that your pre-COVID-19 budget is no longer applicable, and you need to tweak it for this “new normal”.

 

5.) Put Together a Re-Build Timeline:  

It will take hard work and energy to get your business back following the pandemic and doing everything all at once is not very realistic. Putting together a timeline that prioritizes your most important actions will help you reach each of your re-opening goals in an easier and quicker manner. For example, you may want to start by securing a loan, then rehiring your employees, then restocking inventory, etc. Also, make sure to track your progress each step of the way.   Having a timeline and plan in place will keep you organized.

 

6.)  BE PREPARED!  Put Together A Plan Now for the Next Crisis:

Though this pandemic seems like a once-in-a-lifetime event, the reality is that an emergency of this nature may well happen again and again.   For example, we are seeing a resurgence in hot spots and COVID 19 cases in areas that may have re-opened too soon and may have to close before they can again reopen. Use what you have learned during this pandemic to put together a comprehensive plan to help you insulate your business from future shocks and downturns.

You may want to:

  • Build up liquid cash savings
  • Pay down or pay off any debts
  • Trim your nonessential spending
  • Find ways to help your staff work more efficiently
  • Cut operating costs

 

The more you can prepare now, the better off you will be once the pandemic has passed. Having at least one plan in place will greatly improve your odds of surviving now during these tough financial times and eventually thriving again more quickly and more efficiently.

 

Rebuilding Your Business After COVID-19 : Part 1 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Unless you have been living under a rock or in seclusion, you understand the COVID-19 pandemic has ground many businesses to a halt and wreaked financial havoc all over the world. Many businesses are continuing to struggle as the pandemic continues to rage months after it first began. According to a recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), as of March 30, 2020 approximately 92% of small businesses that responded said they were suffering negative financial impacts as a result of the pandemic. Only 5% said they have experienced no effects at all.

A plan can dramatically help your business get back on track once the danger has passed. The short-term outlook for businesses varies widely depending on your industry.   No one knows what the “new normal” will be and we can only make guesses at how the overall economy will look. There are a few things you can do right now to prepare your business for a post-COVID-19 world.  They include the following:

 

1.) Assess the Overall Financial Damage to Your Business:

Before you can start planning how you will recover, you need to know exactly how your business has been impacted.  Now is the time to collect all of the numbers (from places such as profit and loss or cash flow statements) in order to compare them to previous years and determine just how much it has affected you. Next you will need to take a close look at how at what other parts of your business have been impacted including if you had to lay off workers, you were forced to greatly reduce marketing budgets or it became necessary to have workers perform their jobs remotely from in home offices.

 

2.) Will you Need Funding to Recover?

Your business may need a fresh infusion of cash to get back on its feet. The earlier you get the ball rolling on financing, the better off you will be. Take the time to research your options so that you find the right financing for your individual needs.

There are several options that you may consider, such as:

  • Small business loans and microloans
  • The Paycheck Protection Program (which is designed to provide funding to small businesses that are struggling to retain their employees during the pandemic)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans(short-term pandemic financing for things other than employee retention)
  • Business credit cards
  • Business lines of credit
  • Inventory financing
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Small business term loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders
  • Vendor trade-lines
  • Accounts receivable financing
  • Purchase order financing
  • Equipment financing
  • And more

Each option has its own pros and cons so do your research and always consult a professional if you need guidance.

 

3.) Revise Your Business Plan:

Your business plan may have been working perfectly for your business pre-COVID-19, but now it may need some fine-tuning or outright re-writing. Specifically, you need to consider how your business will be able to adjust to the new normal once to survive during COVID or hopefully after it is gone. Take a good look at what was working for your business before the pandemic that may not work as well now and see where you can adjust or improve to remain competitive in your industry.

If you previously had a traditional brick and mortar shop before COVID-19, you may want to now expand into eCommerce or digital offerings since more people are turning to online shopping for all of their needs. If your employees are now working from home, you may consider keeping that arrangement.  In other words, you need to fine tune your business.

You should also take a good look at the current trends and what your competitors are doing in your industry. You may find a gap that your business could easily fulfill which could be critical to reclaiming and expanding your customer base going forward.

 

The second part of this series will offer you more recommendations including going over your budget, your budget, your re-build timeline and why you should have a plan in place for the next crisis. Stay tuned.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

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The DPA is a powerful tool to be employed to protect the nation.  Now that the nation’s industries are responding to the crisis, the best use of the DPA is as surgical tool for specific issues and as leverage to prompt best behavior and information sharing.

Elected members of the House and Senate now speak of the act daily. It’s also very much in the media.

The Defense Production Act first came into being in 1950 as the Truman administration realized it needed more authorities to mobilize the industrial base to fight the Korean War. The act has been re-authorized by Congress some 50 times since then, undergoing significant revision along the way.

The revisions made took basic two forms. Authorities no longer needed such as those dealing with requisitioning, rationing, wage and price-fixing, and labor disputes—were dropped.

Other revisions have broadened the original narrow definition of national defense.  It now extends to such things as energy security, space security and national disasters.

Of the seven original titles in the DPA, three remain—Titles I, III, and VII.  Here is a quick description to help understand what is taking place today with the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Title I broadly contains the priorities and allocation authorities. The priorityauthority allows the federal government to ensure the timely availability of critical materials and services produced in the private market in the interest of national defense, and to receive items through contracts before any other competing interest. The allocation authority gives the president the power to allocate or control the general distribution of materials, services, and facilities.

The Department of Defense is the most frequent user of Title I, using it to insert priority clauses into its contracts. These provisions requiring contractors to give the Pentagon preference over all other customers in delivering goods or services.

In 2018 the department did this over 300,000 times. The Pentagon used its highest rating to prioritize the delivery of Mine Resistant-Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for the Iraq War, as well as to obtain body armor for troops. The other federal departments use priority ratings much less. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) used DPA-rated contracts only about 2,000 times in 2018, mostly for hurricane response.

The President has delegated his DPA authorities to the appropriate cabinet secretaries. On March 18, he signed Executive Order 13909 delegating his priorities authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).  This marked what the President and the media referred to as “invoking the Defense Production Act.”

Five days later, President Trump signed Executive Order 13910 giving HHS the allocations authority under Title I to stop hoarding and price gouging for medical equipment and supplies.  This authority has already been used in at least one instance to seize hoarded masks and protective equipment.

In the following week, the White House started to get specific about how to wield these authorities. On March 27, the president issued a memorandum telling HHS Secretary Alex Azar to direct General Motors to accept and prioritize contracts for ventilator production. Then, on April 2, the President signed two additional memorandums: the first directing 3M Company to ramp up N95 mask production; the other directing Azar to speed up delivery of component parts to the big manufacturers of ventilators.

  • Now, let us look at Title III. It allows the President to provide grants and loans to develop, maintain, and expand domestic production capacity for resources needed for national defense.

Again, the Pentagon has been the most frequent user of these authorities, using them to provide money—typically in amounts less than $50 million—to companies to help shore up a recognized deficiency in the defense industrial base.  In the last year or two, the Defense Department has used Title III authority to help assure access to rare earths, explosives, and lithium seawater batteries.

In a typical year, the Pentagon asks for about $30 million for the Title III DPA Fund.  In 2020 it sought $34 million.

In terms of recent activity using Title III authorities, the newly-enacted CARES Act appropriates an unprecedented $1 billion to the DPA.  It is anticipated that most of that funding will go to medical manufacturing, including for vaccines and therapeutics. The CARES act also eliminates certain limits on DPA funding and reporting requirements.

The President also delegated his Title III authorities to his HHS and DHS secretaries. (DHS is involved because it controls FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.) Now, both departments can make direct investments in U.S. corporations to increase their capacity to manufacture medical supplies and equipment.

  • The final section of the DPA, Title VII, contains a grab bag of authorities. The one most pertinent today is probably the authority for the government to enter voluntary arrangements with private companies.  Arrangements which, in normal circumstances, might look like sole-source contract awards, are thus permissible using Title VII.

For example, companies have approached the White House offering to make goods such as N95 respirators. Normally such transactions must be openly competed and competitively awarded. Title VII authorities provide for exceptions.

So, that is the DPA in a nutshell: Title I—priorities and allocation authorities; Title III—direct investments, and Title VII—voluntary agreements.

It’s likely that every one of the thousands of contracts being issued by the Defense Department and FEMA to fight the COVID-19 emergency have a DPA Title I rating.. And now that the federal government has developed a better understanding of the situation, General Motors has been directed to produce ventilators, 3M to make respirators, and ventilator parts suppliers to make more. Additional use of DPA authorities is likely in the coming weeks.

Over the last two weeks, we have seen may private like Ford and Toyota volunteer to partner with medical companies to make ventilators; Honeywell, 3M, Hanes, and others to make millions of N95 masks; and Anheuser Busch, Baccardi, and scores of boutique distillers to make hand sanitizer.

The DPA is a powerful tool to be employed to protect the nation.

 

Coronavirus Resources for Veterans

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Are you a Veteran looking for resources, information, and assistance during this pandemic? We have compiled a list of resources just for you. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 contact your local VA hospital immediately by phone. They will assist you further.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association is working hard to provide you valuable and timely information.   We also want to say that we send everyone our heartfelt best wishes during this most challenging time in our history.  Stay well and check out our posts too on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/vamboa and FB:  www.facebook.com/vamboa.

STAY SAFE & WELL!!!!!

 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

The VA has their own dedicated website on the Coronavirus that includes links to resources as well as tips to remain healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Visit https://www.va.gov/coronavirus

The VA also posts regular blogs that include really helpful information. Visit https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/?s=covid-19

 

U.S. Federal Government:

The U.S. Federal Government also has a dedicated website filled with the most up-to-date information and guidance on the Coronavirus. Visit https://www.coronavirus.gov/

 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

The CDC’s website shows up-to-date information on the number of cases currently reported and gives guidance for protecting yourself from infection and what you should do if you, or a loved one, become sick. They also offer resources for traveling, schools, childcare, businesses, community, and more. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

The FDA’s website tracks the medical product and food supply chains for potential shortages and disruptions. The site also has information about ventilators, testing kits, monitoring vital signs, and more. Visit https://www.fda.gov/coronavirus

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture :

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s site has information about food safety as well as pet safety. Visit https://www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

 

Finances & Scams:

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Their scams range from robocalls, fake online stores, fake vaccines or medicines, and even fake officials. Worried about scammers? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a page on their website dedicated to helping people avoid coronavirus scams. Visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

Another good place to look for information to protect your finances from scammers is The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau/s website includes information on how to handle consumer complaints, protecting your credit, dealing with debt, and much more. Visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus

 

Small Business Administration (SBA):

If your small business has been impacted by the pandemic, The SBA’s website is filled with information and resources to help you put together a plan to weather this, loans to help you get through the next few months, directories for people to partner with, counsel, mentor, or train, along with a wealth of other resources.

Even if you are self-employed, you may now be entitled to Unemployment Benefits so check your state and remember that the federal government may increase your state weekly benefits by another $600.    You probably need to file online and it takes time and patience but it will be a big help to you.

 

Housing:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website has helpful information for homeowner relief and HUD assisted residents. Visit https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus

 

Social Security and Medicare:

If you receive social security and need information on any potential changes please visit https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/

If you receive Medicare and need information on any potential changes please visit https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus. Their site also includes information about testing, hospitalizations, and what is covered.

 

Individual States Department of Public Health:

Every U.S. state has its own Department of Public Health. If you need more information from your specific state please visit https://www.usa.gov/state-health and select your state to go to their website.

 

Blood Donations:

The American Red Cross is in urgent need of blood and platelet donations. They are urging all healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give. Donating will help maintain sufficient blood supply levels and prevent shortages as the pandemic continues. Visit their website at RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule an appointment.

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

FEMA is working closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on our COVID-19 pandemic response. FEMA is aware that there is a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19 and to help combat false information they have a rumor control page with the latest facts–versus myths–on the federal response. Visit https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-Rumor-Control

FEMA also has a page dedicated to how you can donate or volunteer, if possible. Visit https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help

 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 virus is spreading from person to person through close contact and respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.  Most states have enacted “shelter-in-place” mandates to limit social gatherings and hopefully lessen the number of people who become infected.

 

However, even in isolation, we all still need to acquire basic goods including food.  A big question everyone is asking is:  Do you need to disinfect your groceries? The mail? What about packages and other delivered items? What should you be cleaning more often?

 

High-Touch Areas:

What are “high-touch areas?” They are all of the things that we touch frequently. These need to be cleaned more often with a good cleanser.

 

They include things such as:

  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Steering wheels
  • Toilet flusher
  • Light switches
  • Faucets and sinks
  • Hand and dish towels
  • Handles on furniture and appliances
  • Tables, desks, and hard-backed chairs
  • Toiletries and makeup
  • Computer keyboard and mouse
  • Handbags, tote bags, laptop bags, etc.

 

Groceries:

Food and food packaging are not the biggest concerns at the grocery store right now, though the surfaces will need to be disinfected. Your biggest shopping risk right now is contact with other people and high-touch areas like shopping carts, basket handles, and freezer isle handles.

 

It is extremely important to practice appropriate social distancing while in the grocery store, avoid touching your face while shopping, use hand sanitizer before getting into your vehicle, and wash your hands thoroughly when you return home.

 

The US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) current guidelines on food safety and coronavirus do not include disinfecting perishable or non-perishable grocery items even though we know the virus itself can live for sometime on surfaces such as plastic, metal, and cardboard.

 

Produce:

Perishables should be cleaned as you would clean your hands. If you cannot wash it, you may want to skip it for right now.  Do not use products like bleach or Lysol on food, they are both designed for surfaces and are not meant to be ingested and can cause illness.

 

Reusable Grocery Bags:

Reusable grocery bags are considered high-touch items. At this time they should be avoided or cleaned after every use to ensure they remain free of any possible contamination.

 

Food Delivery and Takeout:

Similar to grocery shopping, your biggest concern here is contact with the delivery person. If possible choose a delivery company that allows contactless delivery.

 

Apps: Many delivery apps have contact-less delivery options built in that also allow you to pre-tip the delivery workers. It is best if you can avoid touching cash right now as it is also a high-touch surface.

 

Phone: When placing orders by telephone, you can request that the delivery be left on the steps, porch, or driveway outside your home or in the lobby of multi-unit buildings.

 

Pickup: When picking up takeout always practice appropriate social distancing with restaurant personnel and other customers. If possible, pre-pay for your meal before you pick up your food, or use touch-free payment system, rather than cash or credit cards, to avoid cross-contamination.

 

Once you get home with your food, make sure that you remove it from the packaging from the restaurant, throw it away outside of your home, and wash your hands.

 

Here are a few tips:

  • Place delivery bags and containers in the sink rather than on table- or countertops.
  • Transfer food from takeout containers to a plate.
  • Discard all delivery bags, boxes, and takeout containers in the trash or recycling.
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Leftovers should be put in your own food storage containers rather than in takeout containers.

 

For a more in-depth overview of how to handle food, groceries, and takeout watch this YouTUBE video from Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen: https://youtu.be/sjDuwc9KBps.   Many physicians differ with Dr.  VanWingen and feel his advice is extreme.

 

Mail and Packages:

Just as with food packaging and take-out delivery items, mail and packages pose a low risk of transmitting the coronavirus, but it is a good idea to be cautious. Also just like food packaging and delivery items, you should avoid any contact with the person delivering your mail or packages. It is best to have the package left at your door, open all packages outside of your home, dump the contents out without touching them, toss the packaging in the trash, wash your hands, then collect your items.

 

Experts are recommending social distancing, keep your hands away from your face, regular hand washing, and regularly sanitizing high-touch areas. All of these combined are our best measures to prevent getting sick and the overall spread of coronavirus. We all need to be a bit more diligent right now and we can get through this together.

 

VAMBOA asks you to stay safe and healthy.   We are all in this together.

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