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By Debbie Gregory.

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The federal Small Business Agency known as the SBA has a few new ways to help small businesses stay in business while we all navigate the COVID crisis. Thanks to H.R. 748 the SBA has been able to expand their loan programs with new offerings for small businesses as well as some specific options for large corporations.

 

What Other Assistance does H.R. 748 Provide?

 

The program also provides $17 billion dollars to small businesses that have existing SBA loans. These funds can be used to pay six months of principal and interest payments on existing SBA loans.

 

1.) Additionally, the program provides $10 billion dollars for disaster loans and emergency grants. Each of these types of loans are limited to $10,000 per small business. These types of loans are quite like the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP described in part one of this mini article series.  They can be used for other operational expenses beyond payroll, mortgage or rent, and utilities.   In theory, any small business that applies for an economic injury disaster loan receives an advance, within 3 days, of $10,000 regardless of whether they eventually are approved for the loan. This $10,000 advance does not need to be repaid either. The loan itself can be for up to $2 million dollars at a low interest rate (currently it is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations). Repayment terms vary. You can apply for this loan directly from the SBA here> https://covid19relief.sba.gov/.

 

2.) The program also provides $265 Million dollars for SBA business development services. The SBA offers Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that provide no-cost services for small businesses and entrepreneurs that will assist in critical business areas such as:

  • Consulting
  • Mentoring
  • Training services
  • Business development services
  • and much more

 

What Other Financial Assistance Programs Have Been Added for Businesses that Do Not Qualify for Other SBA Programs?  

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic consequences all over the United States. Many larger businesses are ineligible for SBA programs. However, the goal of H.R. 748 is to assist large employers as well. Some of the additions that can help larger companies include:

 

1.) H.R. 748 states that the Federal Reserve can now make loans, as well as loan guarantees, to businesses not covered by other programs.  They can also now make loans to state and local governments. Unlike the SBA programs for small businesses, the Fed cannot forgive these loans and borrowers must repay them.

 

2.) H.R. 748 also provides the federal -19 pandemic. The funds are as follows:

 

  • $25 billion for loans to passenger air carriers
  • $4 billion for loans to cargo air carriers
  • $17 billion for loans to businesses critical to maintaining national security
  • $32 billion for additional financial assistance to air carriers and related employers (such as caterers and airport contractors)

 

Small Business or Large Corporation – if you need help to keep your business afloat while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, then check out what is available to you from the SBA and H.R. 748.   We advise that patience is in order.

 

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, we invite you to join.  Please be advised that there are not any dues or fees and you can use our seal on your collateral and website.   You may register for membership here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/ ‘’

 

Everyone stay safe and healthy!

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Did you know that the Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small businesses obtain the loans they need? The federal SBA provides a wealth of financial assistance, and other services to small businesses across the United States. Recently they have added quite a few new programs to help thanks to H.R. 748.

 

How does the SBA determine whether or not your business is considered a small business? The SBA determines whether you are a small business using either your revenue numbers or your employee headcount (the headcount varies by industry).

 

The main SBA program most business apply and qualify for is a loan guarantee program. The SBA may repay a portion of the amount borrowed by qualified businesses in cases when the small business borrower cannot repay the loan. Loan guarantees reduce the overall risk to the lender, thus enabling the small business to obtain more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate or longer term.

 

The SBA also directly makes low-interest loans to businesses and nonprofit organizations following declared disasters. A disaster loan may be for either covering repairs and replacement of physical assets damaged in a disaster or covering small business operating expenses after a disaster.

 

What is new?   H.R. 748 is!

In general terms, H.R. 748 provides $349 billion dollars for forgivable small business loans. This program is called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and was designed to subsidize small businesses so that they can continue to pay their employees and overhead costs while their revenues have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Unlike a typical SBA loan, businesses will not be required to repay these loans if the money is used exclusively to pay:

  • Employee wages
  • Employee benefits
  • Mortgage or rent for the business’s location
  • Utility bills for the business’s location

 

Instead, the loans will be forgiven after eight weeks. The business is required to clearly document how the money was used to ensure adherence to the loan program’s rules. If the business has not properly documented spending the loan money, or spent the money on other things, they will be required to pay all of it back in full at an interest rate of four percent (4%).

 

Is $349 Billion Enough to go Around? 

The program has enough to provide every eligible employer a forgivable loan for up to 2.5 months of payroll.   With this said many are receiving so much more including businesses that you might not characterize as small businesses.   For example, large public companies and major sports teams have received PPP funds and the the money has been depleted once already and refunded.

 

Who is Eligible for Assistance? 

All businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees are eligible. There are also a few businesses that will qualify even though they have more than 500 employees. For example, a business may have more than 500 employees per location. Some sole-proprietors and self-employed people are also eligible for relief. Loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

How Much Money can you Get? 

You can qualify for about 2.5 times your average monthly payroll, or up to $10 million dollars. You do not even need to prove that you could potentially pay back the loan; instead, you simply need to prove that you have been running your business prior to February 15, 2020. This sometimes translates into the money going to businesses that don’t need it and there has been some widespread fraud.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this mini article series.   Part 2 will provide information on other assistance programs that H.R. 748 provides. There are even a few programs designed for specific types of large corporations.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association believes that small veteran and military business owners should benefit first.   They made huge sacrifices for our nation.  We are disheartened to see huge corporations receiving this money and the program running out.

 

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, please consider joining.  We do not charge dues or fees and members can use our seal on your collateral and web site.   Here is a link to register to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

Inventory Management for eCommerce

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By Debbie Gregory.

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We hope that you enjoyed the first two articles in the Inventory Management mini-series.   This next article is about Inventory Management for eCommerce.

Clearly, eCommerce stores have very different inventory tracking needs than retail businesses do. The system can help you manage both your physical inventory as well as your online inventory. Working with an inventory management system can have some outstanding benefits for you and your company, even if you use drop shipping and have no physical inventory.

What are some good practices for eCommerce Inventory Management?

1.) Forecast Your Needs:

Like traditional retail stores, eCommerce shops also need to forecast their buying needs based on past sales. You should have a plugin for your online shop that allows you to view your point-of-sale analytics in real time. This will tell you which parts of your site are performing well, and which ones are not and what are the hot products or services that are in most demand.

One huge upside to eCommerce sites over brick-and-mortar stores is that you can easily get rid of underperforming products or seasonal products without having to pay in advance for the items or put them on clearance. You can forecast what you believe that you will need, and pivot as the need arises, usually with a simple click of your mouse.

2.) Use a Centralized System:

Currently, Excel is no longer the best tool for tracking inventory. There are quite a lot of apps and cloud-based inventory programs, from the very basic to the very complex, that are available.  If you are not already using one, it is time to switch over to the right one for you.

Depending on which application you choose, you can find inventory management software that will:

  • Alert you when inventory is low or expiring
  • Create customizable packing slips and barcodes for order fulfillment
  • Track all of your sales and inventory in real-time. This allows you see all the inventory levels of each one of your stores in one single place.
  • Create customized promotions and gift cards
  • Use your Point-Of-Sale data to monitor inventory turnover
  • Easily sync all the data from your Point-Of-Sale system, retail software, online store, and accounting software
  • Generate reports based on customer buying data
  • Help you integrate with the major retailers to reach even more customers

3.) Utilize Drop Shipping

One of the great things about an eCommerce store is that you don’t have to have your inventory physically in your possession. You can sell a variety of products from a variety of suppliers. You never have to actually handle the products or pack them or ship them yourself. You also won’t tie up a lot of your capital in inventory that may or may not sell quickly. The drop shipper will simply send out the order for you and they will even send it using your own branded packaging materials and paperwork.

4.) Delegate and Outsource:

Depending on how big your operation is, you may have someone who is managing your inventory for you. They may be the ones making the counts and forecasting the inventory needs. Utilizing centralized software makes delegating this task much easier as you and your employees can all see the same data in real time.

We hope the first three articles in this series on Inventory Management has been helpful to you.   Please stay tuned as there is much more valuable information ahead.  In the meantime, if you need to replace and upgrade computers and peripherals, VAMBOA has partnered with Dell Technologies to offer members and friends significant discounts.  Please check them out here:  https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Inventory Management for Retail

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By Debbie Gregory.

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We hope that you enjoyed the prior article in this mini-series on Inventory Management.  This second article is about Retail.   Keep in mind that retail outlets have very different needs than other ecommerce businesses. Retail stores are really required to have their inventory on-hand as compared to online stores that may utilize drop shippers and do not actually have any physical inventory.   Often, they do not need to tie up capital with inventory until clients place their orders.

Below are some good practices for retail inventory:

1.) Automate It:

The best thing you can do for your business is to automate monitoring your inventory levels for each of your products. Having the input on exactly what people bought and how many they bought, in real-time, will enable you to keep appropriate inventory in stock. Set your system up to alert you at a preset level so you can refill the item(s) as quickly as possible. This will also help you keep better track of past performance and allow you to make better seasonal forecasts. It also means you will have what your customers want in stock and this translates to greater revenues.

2.) POS Analytics:

POS (Point-Of-Sale) analytics allow you to do more than simply track your inventory.   Point of Sale analytics will tell you quite a lot about your company’s overall performance, how every product is selling and how many items you sell over time. These analytics let you know which items are performing well and those that are not.

A POS analytics system answers important questions including:

  • What are my best-selling products?
  • Are these products strong sellers all year long, or is there a special season when they sell better?
  • Do some products perform better in one part of the store than another?
  • Which of my stores perform better than my other stores (which specific locations perform better than others)?
  • Which items were purchased with coupons?
  • Which items are purchased together the most?

3.) EDI:

Electronic data Interchange (EDI) is a cloud-based system that replaces the old-school email, phone, and fax order placements. EDI combines all the typical documents needed for a single transaction including purchase orders, purchase order acknowledgments, advanced shipping notifications, packing lists and invoices into one easy to use digital system. Your staff will no longer need to compare different physical documents to place an order, confirm inventory, send incoming shipment alerts, confirm what was shipped, bill for items received,and more.

4.) Practice Order-to-Shelf:

Order-to-shelf (OTS) Inventory Management is a new trend that was started by several grocery stores to reduce their storage and labor costs. It is just like the “just-in-time” inventory process many automotive manufacturers use. Basically, everything that you need for the day arrives that morning and you sell everything by the time you close your store for the evening. The next day a truckload is waiting for the process to begin again. This reduces spoilage and cuts down on storage costs since you are not storing anything, and nothing will go to waste.

VAMBOA hopes that this second article in our mini-series on Inventory Management has been helpful to you.  Stay tuned for the rest of this informative series.   We want to remind you that VAMBOA has joined forces with Dell Technologies to provide special discounts to our members and friends.  With the new normal, there is a huge need to update our computers and peripheral products.  Here is a link to the discounts:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Inventory Tracking Software for Your Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

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VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association is pleased to provide this mini-series of articles on Inventory Management for our Veteran and Military Business owners.  The first article in this series is about the right Tracking Software for your Business.  We hope that these articles answer your questions, offer you valuable information and are enjoyable.

Proper inventory management is a valuable tool that makes running your business so much easier. If you do not have a system in place, you will need to find and select the right one that will work for your company size, inventory size, and your budget.

Below are the main factors you need to consider before selecting your inventory tracking software platform:

1.) Cost:

The cost of purchasing and/or upgrading your system is one of the major concerns for any business. This is certainly one of those “you get what you pay for” items.  You need to be sure that the system can handle your specific business needs right now as well as allowing you room to grow with what you anticipate needing in the not too far off future. Do not select a system that is so inexpensive and cannot handle what you need it to do.  At the same time, do not select the most expensive and feature-rich option if you are not planning on growing into a major national retail chain.  In other words, do not buy more than what your needs will be now and going forward.

2.) User-Friendly:

The next biggest concern is how easy the system will be to integrate and use. You need to find a system that is user friendly so that you don’t waste a ton of time and energy trying to figure it out and training yourself and others.

3.) Integrations:

You need to be sure that the inventory software integrates with your other business tools.  For example, your inventory management software should be able to integrate with your accounting software, shipping software and your email newsletter provider. Integrated systems should allow you maximize your free time of on some of your other daily tasks.

4.) Detailed Reports:

You will likely need an inventory tracking system that provides detailed reports about your inventory. You need to be able to easily see which products are the most popular in your product offerings and which ones are not so you don’t waste money with the unpopular ones that are not selling.

5.) Product Customization Options:

You need to be able to change your products quickly and easily and not just the quantity. You need to carefully select the right software that allows you to quickly change item prices, shipping, and other important information.

6.) Customer Support:

This is very important from the get-go when you are trying to implement the new system or if there is a major update to the system later. You need to select a platform from a reputable company that you believe will be in business for some time. Additionally, it is very important to make sure that they include support in the purchase of your new system. Test out and call support prior to your purchase and make sure they are there to easily respond to your needs.  Make sure that customer support answers call and emails in a timely manner. If they do not, you might seriously consider another vendor.

We hope that you enjoyed this first article in our series.   VAMBOA also wants to let you know that we have partnered with Dell Technologies and if you need to update your computers and peripherals, please check out the special discounts just for VAMBOA Members and Friends here:  https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

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