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A Year of Unforgettable Experiences

Posted on December 23rd, 2020

This year has been difficult for small businesses of all kinds, not to mention their owners, their staff, and their families. But I believe that we can always find the opportunities in a challenging time, and this year is no different. I choose to focus on the valuable lessons we’ve learned, our hard-won successes, and how we can use them to contribute to our momentum going forward.

As we enter a holiday season that may be different from any previous one, it’s important to keep optimism, thankfulness, and gratitude at the forefront. When we reflect on our blessings, it becomes easier to remember why we do what we do and find the motivation to keep moving forward.

What We’ve Learned

Change is rarely easy, but it’s always an opportunity for growth. The lessons we’ve learned over the past year – about ourselves, our communities, and our work – are the result of adapting to unexpected circumstances with dedication and drive. That’s what makes entrepreneurship so challenging and rewarding, and why small businesses remain at the core of our communities.

Here are some of the discoveries that will stick with me.

Expect the Unexpected

Who could have foreseen the ways in which a pandemic would change how we do business, or predict how those changes will continue to shape the future? We can’t plan for every scenario, but there are a few things we can do to ensure that we’re ready to meet any challenges that come our way.

One of the most important steps a small business owner can take is to set aside cash reserves in case of unforeseen circumstances or unanticipated opportunities. Best practices suggest that small businesses should have enough cash in reserve to cover four to six months of expenses. Companies with significant cash reserves had an easier time confronting the challenges of 2020. I hope that, moving forward, more businesses will take this advice and give themselves the freedom to respond to the unexpected.

Reconnect with Core Values

When everything around you is uncertain, there’s a lot of power in reconnecting with your core values. By reflecting on why we do what we do and how we can best serve our communities, we create a guidepost that can help us navigate change.

We all have an origin story – that “a-ha!” moment that changed the course of our life and our work. Think back to the beginning of your story and the value you wanted to provide. Your values (and your value proposition) may be the same or they may have changed, but they should be reflected in your brand identity, your workplace culture, and your engagement with consumers.

Help is Available

One of the things I am most proud of is how our communities have rallied together to support each other through this difficult time. While 2020 is a year that will be marked by a new kind of isolation, we were still able to reach out to each other and provide perspective, resources, and a pathway forward.

Here at e2E, we were able to help small businesses navigate their COVID relief options, access the resources they needed, and weather the Coronavirus storm. I am so grateful for the dedication of our team of experts as they responded to an unprecedented situation with determination, grace, and a spirit of giving. I’m proud we could be an example that help is available to those who ask for it.

Looking to the Future

The lessons of 2020 weren’t easy to learn, but they are part of the silver lining that provides hope for the future. As we move forward together, I know that the discoveries we’ve made, the opportunities we’ve identified, and the challenges we’ve experienced will only make us stronger and more prepared for growth and success.

The team at e2E, LLC is passionate about supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs by giving them access to the expert guidance they need to make the best of any situation. Our experienced professionals provide support in critical areas including budgeting, accounting, HR, payroll, taxes, marketing, and more so that businesses can grow and thrive. Contact us to learn more!


Johnson County CARES Small Business Grant Program

Posted on November 3rd, 2020

Welcome to the Johnson County CARES Small Business Grant Application. The Small Business Grant Program is designed to help address the economic hardships that small businesses are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Grant Program offers Johnson County small businesses a one-time $10,000 grant to help offset business expenses and/or revenue loss incurred due to COVID-19. The Johnson County Commission has allocated $13.5M in small business relief grants allowing 1,350 small businesses to receive grants. It is anticipated that the high volume of applicants will exceed the total grants available.

To be eligible for a grant, your small business (profit or non-profit) must:

  • Be located in Johnson County, KS (Lease/rental/mortgage statement/utility bill with business name and Johnson County address must be uploaded for verification)
  • Have 1 – 50 employees (Employee roster must be uploaded for verification)
  • Have documented expenses from Mar 1-Dec 30, 2020 and/or documented revenue loss for Mar 1-Oct 31, 2020 versus Mar 1-Oct 31, 2019 totaling at least $10,000 directly related to Covid-19 (Receipts/invoices/proof of payment and/or profit & loss financial statements must be uploaded for verification)
  •  
    NOTE: Federal CARES Relief funding guidelines require collecting documentation to verify applicant eligibility.

    Expenses or revenue losses that have been reimbursed from other relief funding sources (i.e. PPP, EIDL, HIRE Fund, CDBG, County Relief funds, etc) are not eligible to be reimbursed by this grant.

    Attached here is the official FAQ for the program and the full business application, both in PDF format.

    Johnson County CARES Small Business Grant Program – FAQ

    JoCo CARES Small Business Application – Final


    Preparing for the Unexpected: The Importance of Cash Reserves

    Posted on September 28th, 2020

    One of the many lessons that this year has taught us is to expect the unexpected. For small business owners, that means being prepared for any number of potential challenges. Who could have foreseen the ways in which a pandemic would change how we do business, or predict how those changes will continue to shape the future?

    In uncertain times like these, the one thing we can be sure of is that challenges will arise. So will opportunities! When they do, we need to be prepared. But how can we prepare for the unexpected?

    In the face of an uncertain future, the single best way to protect your business is to set aside sufficient cash reserves. With the right amount of savings, your business can adapt, invest, react, or cushion itself when an opportunity or a challenge arises. In fact, the ability to do so can make or break a business. As fears of a looming recession persist, now is the time to ensure you’re prepared.

    Why Keep Cash Reserves?

    While it may seem obvious that having enough money in the bank to respond to unexpected challenges or opportunities is important, the majority of small business owners don’t keep enough cash in reserve to provide the flexibility they need. According to the 2020 Small Business Credit Survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Banks (prior to the Coronavirus pandemic), “If faced with a two-month revenue loss, 86% of firms would need to take some action to supplement funding or cut expenses.” While this in itself isn’t surprising, the actions respondents indicated they would take might be.

    47% of firms reported that their first course of action would be to dip into the owner’s personal funds, while 17% said they would simply have to close if faced with a two-month revenue loss. Meanwhile, 56% of small business owners polled said that they had “used funds from their personal savings, friends, or family within the last five years to support their business.” This is a burden owners shouldn’t have to bear, and a great argument in favor of cash reserves.

    But having substantial cash reserves isn’t just about keeping your business afloat through a slow season or financial challenge – it’s also about creating an environment in which you can respond to new opportunities. Whether a new partnership, a product line or service expansion, a technology upgrade, or another opportunity, cash reserves give us the confidence and ability to embrace changes that grow our business.

    How Much is Enough?

    Among small business financial advisors, it’s common practice to suggest that cash reserves should cover between four to six months of operating expenses. That usually provides enough of a cushion to cover an unexpected drop in revenue due to typical factors that might impact a business. To calculate this figure for your business, add up each of your standard monthly expenses (rent, utilities, payroll, costs of goods sold, etc.) and multiply by your target number of months.

    Of course, the recommended amount of cash in reserve varies depending on the kind of business you run and your stage of growth. As Microsoft Business Insights notes, “A year-round business with stable expenses can often keep more in cash reserves. A seasonal business may find it easier to keep less cash on hand.” Other factors may include projected future expenditures or your expectations for growth. For example, if you’re preparing to make an investment, consider those costs in your calculations. If you’re gearing up for a phase of rapid growth, you’ll want more cash on hand to meet new commitments.

    Once you’ve determined an amount that would meet your expenses and give you confidence in your ability to weather a challenge, you have to commit to building up that cash in reserve! Look at your budget to determine how much you can start saving monthly and how many months it will take to create a sufficient reserve for your business. Don’t forget, your budget is a powerful tool for setting and achieving financial goals!

    Be Prepared

    The last nine months have presented us with challenges and opportunities that we didn’t expect. Now, we’ve learned a lot of hard lessons and can be stronger and more prepared as we move into the future. If you still need to be convinced of the importance of cash reserves, consider how a sufficient reserve might have made your life and work easier over the past few months! The time to commit to saving more is now.

    At e2E, LLC, our small business leaders have experience and expertise in every area of small business management and growth, from marketing to finance and beyond. If you’d like to enlist their expert guidance to build a cash reserve or discuss how to use yours wisely, contact us today to learn more!


    What Are You Reaching For? Budgeting for the Upcoming Year

    Posted on September 8th, 2020

    Whether you’re the owner of an established small business or starting a new venture, you may be struggling with the uncertainty of the times we live in. While it’s true that there are a few extra road bumps facing businesses right now, we can take comfort in the fact that some of the best advice in a moment like this is evergreen – make a budget and stick to it! In fact, this is the perfect time to take a step back from the day-to-day and take a close look at where you’ve been and where you’re heading.

    Protecting the financial health of your business is vital to its success. You’ve made it to where you are today through hard work and dedication, so don’t leave your financial future up to chance. The process of creating or reviewing a budget can help small business owners assess their current situation, prepare for the future, and create goals that will help them succeed.

    What Are You Reaching For?

    I won’t spend much time on the typical reasons to make a budget – most business owners understand that budgeting is worth the time and effort it takes to create a clear financial picture. You need to know where you currently stand in order to determine what you’re reaching for!

    This is the aspect of budgeting that inspires me most. It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about what they mean. For many business owners, the budgeting spreadsheet is actually about setting goals and building a strategy for growth. Not only does budgeting help determine what your goals are, it’s a valuable measuring tool. You can look back at each month’s projections to see whether you’re meeting your goals and make necessary shifts to stay on the right track.

    Spending time with your budget means reflecting on what you’re reaching for. So, what are your goals?

    Profitability

    As Devra Gartenstein notes for Chron, “Profitability is the most basic financial goal for any small business.” But reaching true profitability isn’t just ensuring that your revenue is greater than your expenses. “Profitability goals for a small business”, Gartenstein writes, “should be sufficient to sustain stakeholders such as owners or shareholders and to enable the business to save money for expansion or capital reserves.” This is the difference between surviving and thriving.

    Efficiency

    You might be surprised at how often the budgeting process reveals both large and small inefficiencies that could be holding your business back. Whether accidental duplication of costs, redundancies in services, or missed opportunities to save a few dollars here and there, these inefficiencies can make the difference between baseline profitability and your ability to invest in the future. As Jeremy Goldman urges in Inc., “Long-term success in business (is) about making small but significant changes that cut costs and drive revenue.”

    Investment

    The ultimate goal for most small business owners is the ability to invest profits back into their company, creating a foundation for further growth and success. The budgeting process not only helps make those investments possible, it points to the areas of your business that would most benefit from an upgrade. Some companies may benefit from investment in new technology or software, while others may need to invest by increasing spending in areas like marketing and communications, human resources, or strategic planning. Often, the most powerful investments are intangible.

    The CFO Mindset

    As a financial services professional with experience as a CPA as well as in financial leadership positions, I’ve become a tireless advocate for the value of financial guidance for small businesses. That’s why I believe so strongly in the value of the budgeting process for setting goals and ultimately achieving them. Not only that, I highly recommend undertaking this process with expert guidance on your side.

    Most small businesses can’t afford a full-time Chief Financial Officer to handle the budgeting process and offer valuable advice. Luckily, you don’t need a full-time CFO to make informed budgeting, financial planning, or strategic investment decisions. Through e2E, LLC you can gain access to CFO services tailored to your business’s unique needs.

    Flying by the seat of your pants isn’t enough in times like these – you need access to experienced advisors so you can do what you do best and leave the rest to us. Contact our team today to learn more!


    Yes, Your Small Business Needs a Leadership Team!

    Posted on August 25th, 2020

    There’s a pervasive belief that entrepreneurs and small business owners are lone wolves who create their own destiny through solo effort and determination. This can lead people who are driven to start or run their own business to think that they’re in it alone. But, especially in times like these, collaboration and community are more important than ever.

    The fact is, the best entrepreneurs don’t “go it alone,” they’re skilled team players who build up resources by engaging with others and benefit from access to a wide variety of skills and experience. That’s why every small business needs a leadership team.

    Leaders Who Connect

    The ability to communicate effectively is among the most vital leadership skills. This can mean helping customers understand your value, encouraging teams to do their best work, or reaching out for help from trusted advisors. The important thing is to be proactive and connect.

    As a post featured by Tanveer Naseer Leadership states, “the sharper those around you, the sharper you will become.” The advantages of having a community of experienced, thoughtful advisors include not just the ability to seek advice about specific problems, but the continual learning and honing of skills that happens when we’re surrounded by people who support and challenge us. Reaching out for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but of willingness to grow.

    Leaders who understand the importance of connecting with a diverse group of advisors strengthen themselves and their businesses.

    Benefits of a Leadership Team

    Whether you’re assembling an informal network of skilled professionals for the occasional coffee date or curating a team that meets regularly to discuss the direction and growth of your business, you’ll quickly discover several benefits:

    Access to Expertise

    As a small business owner, you probably wear many hats – but that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in every aspect of your business. Maybe marketing is your passion but you don’t understand the best avenues to secure financing, or you’re a great motivator who doesn’t have time to devote to payroll or taxes. The primary benefit of having a team is consistent access to multiple areas of expertise, so you can rest assured that your bases are always covered.

    Different Perspectives

    Varied areas of experience also lead to a diverse array of perspectives. The ability to hear multiple viewpoints before making big choices leads to well-rounded decision-making and better outcomes. While an HR expert may not also be a marketing whiz, collaboration between the two can lead to new strategies that strengthen both aspects of your business.

    Enhanced Accountability

    Another major benefit of working with a comprehensive leadership team is the culture of accountability it creates. As the New York Times urges in an exploration of successful teamwork, “a team is stronger when everyone delivers on their individual roles,” and leadership teams can provide a framework that ensures each member is on track to achieve stated goals.

    Big-Picture Planning

    If we look at each aspect of our business as its own separate island, miscommunication becomes common and it’s very difficult to get a sense of the bigger picture. When you have representation from accounting, finance, HR, marketing, sales, operations, and leadership in the same room (or Zoom meeting) it’s much easier to see how every part of your business works together to create the desired outcome.

    Assemble Your Dream Team

    If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur who wants to grow a successful company, don’t be fooled by the temptation to do it all yourself. Access to expertise in all areas of your business is more accessible than you might think!

    At e2E, LLC our clients benefit from the ability to curate a leadership team that addresses and enhances key aspects of their business and promotes healthy growth. Our subject matter experts in accounting, finance, HR, marketing, and leadership provide all the benefits of a comprehensive leadership team without the cost of hiring full-time staff.

    To learn more about how to assemble a dream team of your own, contact us today!


    Productivity and Employee Management for Remote Workers

    Posted on August 1st, 2020

    Businesses of all sizes are currently undergoing a work-from-home revolution. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated a shift that was already underway, in which working remotely is becoming a new standard (or at least a viable option) for many employees. When done correctly, it’s possible to be just as productive, engaged, and connected as before.

    Global Workplace Analytics reveals that even before the pandemic changed our perception of working from home, “surveys repeatedly showed 80% of employees wanted to work from home at least some of the time.” One-third of those even indicated that they would take a pay cut in exchange for the ability to work remotely. Now that working from home is less of a perk and more of a necessity, how can small business owners navigate this shift and manage employees effectively from afar?

    Benefits of Working Remotely

    First, the good news: B2C notes that “Gallup research finds that ‘optimal engagement … occurs when employees spend 60 percent to 80 percent of their time working off-site — or three to four days in a five-day workweek,’” so our fears about plummeting productivity can be put to rest. In fact, without some of the distractions of office life, employees spend more of their time on the work that truly matters when they’re working from home.

    Not only are they more productive, but they’re also happier working remotely. “Employee turnover in companies that allow remote work is 25 percent lower than in companies that don’t offer that option” and employees who have the ability to work from home are 24 percent more likely to be happy with their work situation.

    There are additional benefits for employers who enable remote work as well. Higher productivity and morale combine with lower operating expenses in terms of space rental and utility costs to make working from home a win for everyone involved.

    Tips for Managing Remote Workers

    There are challenges to maintaining employee engagement and communication when workers are distant from each other, including feelings of isolation and a potential lack of oversight. There are many technology solutions that are making it easier than ever before to connect, monitor, and manage remote workers. But, as the Society for Human Resource Management (an HR professional membership organization and a leader in issues impacting today’s workplaces) urges, “It’s not just a matter of providing remote workers with a new video communication platform and assuming it will be business as usual.”

    Clarify Expectations

    A few themes stand out among the best practices recommended by remote management experts. First, clarity of expectations is key. Managers who adopt a “hands-off” style when in proximity to employees will quickly find that approach problematic when adapting to more remote work. Outlining your priorities, deliverables, and timelines is vital to keeping everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal.

    Communicate with Consistency

    While in-office work lends itself to unscheduled drop-ins and quick chats in the hallway (two reasons at-home workers might be more productive!), coordinating with remote teams requires consistent and thoughtful communication. Many managers have found that starting the day with a short “virtual huddle” is a smart way to check-in about daily goals and progress. While communication is important, a regular schedule that employees can depend on allows them to spend their time most productively without losing touch.

    Collaborate Effectively

    Working at a distance doesn’t mean that collaboration loses its importance. In fact, it’s more vital than ever to provide opportunities for team communication and accountability. SHRM suggests that “Providing a shared document that tracks work activities is one way managers can stay apprised of what their teams are doing,” and also contribute to transparency and cooperation among team members. Task tracking platforms such as Asana, which also has individual and group messaging capabilities, are also highly effective ways to enable collaboration.

    Remember to Listen

    Perhaps most importantly, virtual communication can’t become a one-way street. Listening is paramount, especially when managing workers who are new to remote work. Whether this means being open to sharing concerns about this new way of working or making yourself available to check in about life outside of the office, creating those personal connections with remote workers is more pressing than ever.

    Celebrate Successes

    For some workers and managers, the shift to remote work is joyful and productive. For others, it will present certain challenges. That’s why celebrating the positive aspects of remote collaboration can’t be underestimated. As we move forward into a world where remote work becomes more and more common (whether by choice or necessity), we can’t lose sight of the humanity and resilience of our colleagues.

    At e2E, LLC, we know small businesses inside and out. Our experienced, compassionate consultants in small business leadership, finance, marketing, human resources, and more are available to help you navigate every aspect of this transitional time. Contact us today to learn how we can guide you on your path to success!

    Check out this article and other small business content on e2E’s Blog.


    How Small Businesses Can Adjust to the “New Normal”

    Posted on July 17th, 2020

    As more and more businesses open up and resume operations, we’re slowly returning to what life felt like before the COVID-19 crisis changed our lives several months ago. But there’s no denying that, at least in the short term, many of those changes are here to stay. How can small business owners adjust to what many are calling the “new normal”?

    I’m not just talking about social distancing, wearing masks, and carrying hand sanitizer. These may define the new normal, but they only scratch the surface. The challenge for small business owners is to help customers and staff feel secure, thrive under their new circumstances, and find joy in their daily lives.

    A New Path Forward

    We’ve all learned hard lessons in the past months about what we value, how we relate to others, and how our businesses function during tough times. Now, equipped with that knowledge, we’re ready to forge a new path forward. Here are a few ways we can define that path with optimism:

    New Ways of Working

    The sudden adjustment to working remotely wasn’t always easy, but it’s taught us that we’re stronger than we ever knew. As HubSpot reveals, “77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home.” Without the distractions of office life, employees are more focused on the tasks at hand. While remote communication poses some challenges, many workers say that meeting these challenges has ultimately improved their communication. These are all lessons that we can benefit from as we move forward.

    Keep an eye out for an upcoming post from e2E’s Director of Human Resources, Cristina Martinez, about emerging best practices for remote work!

    New Health & Safety Practices

    Helping customers and staff feel secure in public space has taken on increased importance. As such, it’s important to create and implement health and safety practices. Make your safety practices available to those who want to seek them out, but there’s no need to blast them in an email to every customer – we’ve all seen a lot of those messages already. On the bright side, many of our stores and offices have never been so sparkling clean!

    New Opportunities for Communication

    As I explored in a recent post, business leaders should respond to challenges not by overreacting to yesterday’s news, but by looking ahead and leading with vision. This provides new opportunities to reach our communities with messages of optimism and hope. The businesses that provide for our changing needs, support our communities, and spread joy demonstrate their value in a powerful, indelible way.

    A New Value Proposition

    We’ve been given an opportunity to reflect on what exact value we provide in our communities. Now, it’s time to demonstrate and communicate that value! How does your business make your consumers’ lives better, easier, or more joyful? In moments like these, it’s more important than ever to zero in on our purpose and focus on delivering it in a positive, hopeful way.

    Embrace New Opportunities

    Every challenge is also an opportunity to thrive! Small business owners who lead with this mindset are empowered to make the best of the new normal.

    At e2E, LLC we understand the challenges and opportunities of small business ownership from every angle. Our clients have access to expert guidance in leadership, strategic planning, marketing, human resources, finance, and more. Our team can help you navigate the new normal and create a positive path forward. Contact us today to learn more!


    The Delayed 2019 Tax Deadline is Approaching!

    Posted on June 30th, 2020

    As with many other aspects of our lives and work, the coronavirus pandemic has had some significant impacts on tax filing for small businesses. Many of those changes won’t be felt until 2021, so watch this space for upcoming discussions and information about how the CARES Act will affect 2020 taxes. In the meantime, your friendly local tax and finance experts have been hard at work securing PPP loans and supporting small businesses. Now it’s time for one last push towards tax day!

    Some businesses will have already filed their 2019 taxes in advance of the traditional April 15th tax deadline, but many are no doubt taking advantage of the delayed filing deadline of Wednesday, July 15th, 2020. This is just a few weeks away, so if you haven’t already reached out to a tax specialist, now is the time.

    The People First Initiative
    The IRS has implemented a new People First Initiative designed to support people and businesses who are struggling to pay their taxes amidst the economic uncertainty spurred by the coronavirus crisis. Small businesses that have been impacted by coronavirus-related closures may be glad to know that this initiative, which also extends until July 15th, 2020 (and may be extended) includes relief relating to existing installation agreements and offers in compromise. It also suspends field collection activities, private debt collection forwarding, and field, office, and correspondence audits through July 15th.

    What You Should Know About Extended Deadlines
    The good news for small business owners is that, aside from the delayed deadline, there are no other major changes to how 2019 taxes will be filed. Earlier this year, I wrote about what to expect when filing 2019 taxes, including how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) impacts small business taxes. The information in that article still rings true even though the deadline has been extended.

    Small businesses that have not yet filed due to the delayed deadline do not have to file or pay taxes for 2019 until July 15th, 2020. More good news is that penalties and interest will not accrue before July 15th. In general, all state and local deadlines have been delayed in line with federal deadlines.

    It is important to note that the extension deadline of October 15th for Form 1120 and Individual Form 1040 has not been delayed. Businesses wishing to file an extension should use Form 7004 to do so. Form 4868 is available for individuals that need additional time to file. Also note that Partnership (Form 1065) and S Corporation Form 1120S) tax returns currently on extension are still due by September 15th.

    2020 Estimated Tax Payment Deadlines
    Business owners should also know that there are delayed payment options for estimated tax payments at this time. First quarter estimated income tax payments for 2020, usually due April 15th, have been delayed until July 15th as well as second quarter estimated tax payments, which are generally due on June 15th.

    Contact a Tax Professional
    In uncertain times like these, changing deadlines and regulations may add additional stress for small business owners who already have a lot on their plate. That’s why it’s important to contact a small business tax professional in order to ensure that your tax obligations are met and to develop a plan for future filings.

    e2E, LLC offers expert small business tax preparation services, including identifying problems that may result in IRS scrutiny and reviewing potential tax deductions that could limit your upcoming tax obligations. Our expertise can reduce your anxiety and the burden of adjusting to changing deadlines and regulations. Contact us today to learn how we can help!


    Communication Techniques & Best Practices for Small Business Leaders

    Posted on June 9th, 2020

    These are challenging times for business leaders. While the as-yet-uncertain impact of a global pandemic combines with weeks of domestic unrest, it can feel as though we are facing difficulties on every front. In moments like these, strong leadership is of paramount importance and small business owners are no exception.

    How can we, as leaders in our businesses and larger communities, communicate stability, provide reassurance, and give direction and motivation to those who look to us for guidance? As I’ve recently written, every challenge presents opportunities to grow and change on our individual and communal paths to success. For business leaders, this uncertain time calls on us to become better communicators.

    Principles of Communication in the 21st Century

    David Grossman, a global leader in the communication field, outlined his Top 10 Principles of Communication before many of the drastic changes of our present moment, but they remain as applicable as ever. Perhaps this is because great communication is timeless in its mandate to address the current climate with sensitivity, clarity, and an eye towards inspiration.

    Grossman writes that “Change is constant and leaders increasingly need to be able to deal with ambiguity and adapt to change.” Taking that ambiguity and turning it into a strong message is challenging but entirely possible when we put the evergreen principles of communication to work. By doing so, we maximize our impact on our associates, our customers, and our communities.

    Stay True to Yourself

    These principles include intentionally using our character as a differentiator. True leaders engage through action as well as words and demonstrate our own moral fiber to set an example for our teams. This can mean staying level-headed when surrounded by uncertainty, striving for clarity, and harnessing our own motivation to inspire others to do the same. When we show up and do the work, those around us can find reassurance in our stability and drive.

    Lead with Vision

    As Grossman says, “Leaders inspire others by being able to paint a picture of the future they envision, and encourage others to help them get there.” Vision is the ability, as my colleague Lori Baerg writes, to “adapt, improvise, and overcome,” creating a roadmap to guide your business through the unexpected detours on the road to success. This roadmap gives us the ability to keep our end goal in sight while responding in the moment to our needs and those of others. With vision at the forefront, we can lead with clarity and purpose.

    Prioritize People

    We hear this constantly, but people are truly our greatest asset. As leaders, our priority must always be to provide guidance for the people around us, both our teams and our customers. They are the reason we craft our messages with authenticity and care. When we empower our people through reassurance and inspiration, we enable them to carry our message into their lives and work.

    Communication in Crisis

    Small business leaders in particular may find themselves unprepared when faced with a crisis of the magnitude we’re currently experiencing. Without large leadership teams with the time and opportunity for crisis planning, we may have to react on our feet. But, as McKinsey points out, “What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviors and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday’s developments and help them look ahead.”

    In these cases, it’s extraordinarily helpful to have a support network to rely on. Leaders don’t act alone, they marshal resources and ask for help when needed. That’s why e2E, LLC is so proud of our work with small businesses to provide a wide range of business consulting and support services in marketing, human resources, finance, accounting, and beyond. We believe that when leaders have access to the resources they need, together we can overcome any obstacle.

    Are you a small business leader who could benefit from a network of support and guidance as you navigate this difficult moment? Contact us today to learn how we can help.


    Employee Retention Strategies for the Long Run

    Posted on April 27th, 2020

    One of the biggest questions on the minds of small business owners today is how to retain their valued employees through this difficult moment. As many small businesses experience revenue losses due to COVID-19 and uncertainty about when and how to reopen persists, employers and employees alike are concerned about the future. That’s why it’s vital that business owners have access to the resources and strategies that can help them maintain their teams and be ready to get back to business when the opportunity arises.

    Employers Have Options

    There are several options available to employers during these trying times. Our common goal is to provide employees with the ability to meet their financial needs during the shutdown so that they are ready and able to return to work when it’s over. Don’t rush into a decision without examining the resources that are available. These include:

    Paying Employees (with Federal Assistance)

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that provides tax credits, deferred tax payments, and loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), among others. Its goal is to encourage and enable eligible employers to keep their employees on payroll for the duration of this crisis.

    My colleagues and I at e2E, LLC have developed fantastic COVID-19 Resources to help guide small business owners to the resources that best fit their unique situation, including a CARES Act Flow Chart that outlines which programs your business may be eligible for. I’ll briefly summarize the resources available:

    Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

    As the SHRM explains, “under the PPP, eligible employers will be provided with partially forgivable small business loans to cover certain payroll costs, employer group health costs, and other employer incurred costs for eight weeks after the loan origination date.” A second round of PPP funding recently became available.

    Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans

    The CARES Act provides for advance payments through the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans that can be used “to cover the costs of providing paid sick leave to employees due to COVID-19.” These funds can be procured in addition to a standard EIDL.

    Employee Retention Credit

    For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers who are forced to fully or partially suspend operations “may receive a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages (up to $10,000 per employee) paid during each calendar quarter.”

    In addition, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expanded paid sick leave benefits for workers who are subject to a medical quarantine, caring for a family member in quarantine, or unable to work for other coronavirus-related reasons. The Department of Labor notes that “covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA,” including sick leave and health insurance coverage.

    There may be other methods of assistance available that provide employers with enough working capital to continue to pay employees. I encourage employers to explore all the options for retaining their employees by speaking with a small business HR or finance professional.

    Furloughing or Laying Off Employees

    While this isn’t the decision any employer wants to make, for some businesses (and employees) it may be the best option during this uncertain time. The US Chamber of Commerce notes that some “businesses facing COVID-related closures must make the difficult decision to temporarily lay off or furlough employees.” If this is a necessity for your business, they offer sound advice on how to handle the process.

    For instance, “if you are able to continue operating but simply need to scale back, it may be wise to design an “on-off” furlough plan so your employees are not completely without income for months on end.” If a complete furlough or lay off is inevitable, provide employees with information about the resources they need to maintain financial stability, which may include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

    Discuss your options with an HR or finance professional to help determine the most favorable course of action for employees and employers alike.

    Communication is Vital

    Whether you are able to continue paying employees or forced to furlough or lay them off, clear and honest communication from business leaders will play a vital role in your ability to maintain your team and prepare them to return once this crisis has passed. Be honest about the reasons for your decision and the factors that contribute to its necessity. Be clear about what benefits, incentives, or severance you are able to offer and under what conditions.

    Perhaps most importantly, demonstrate empathy for your employees. They are also struggling through uncertainty and need to hear that you understand and share their concerns. Keep communicating throughout the shutdown, providing updates on your situation when possible as well as psychological support. Maintain your relationships with valued employees through open communication in order to retain their trust and prepare them to return to work.

    This is a difficult time for small business owners, but help is available. The subject matter experts at e2E, LLC are working hard to provide guidance and support during this time as resources and information continue to evolve. Please reach out to us to learn more!


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