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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!


Don’t Panic! Small Businesses Can Weather the Coronavirus Storm

Posted on April 13th, 2020

There’s no question about it – many small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges as our communities respond to the coronavirus crisis. In this time of uncertainty, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed or distressed. But don’t panic! There are many resources available to small business owners and help is just a phone call or e-mail away.

e2E, LLC’s commitment to serving entrepreneurs and small businesses is as strong as ever during this difficult moment. Our dedicated team is responding as quickly as we can to new information and gathering critical resources to help our clients weather the coronavirus storm. We encourage small business owners to take a deep breath and consider the options that are becoming available to them.

Government Response Highlights

We’ve all been inundated by news about the virus and our government’s response over the past few weeks. Here is a quick summary of the major legislation and its impact on the small business sector:

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
Enacted on March 6th, this bill “provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.” This includes funding for small business loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (which are outlined in greater detail below).

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Passed March 18th, this act established paid leave and enhanced unemployment insurance for workers furloughed or laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak, among other initiatives.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

Enacted March 25th, this $2 trillion stimulus bill includes $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually. It also adds to unemployment benefits and earmarks an additional $500 billion in loans or investments to businesses, municipalities, and states.

SBA Coronavirus Pandemic Disaster Loans

There are several different loans and grants that are available to eligible small businesses, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and sole proprietors (among others) through the SBA. We’ve developed a CARES Act Flow Chart that can help business owners determine their plan of action, but we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss the options available for your unique situation. A business finance professional’s expertise is vital in order to understand the complexities of each offering as details continue to emerge.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

This low-interest loan of up to $2M can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. It does not cover lost sales and cannot be used to pay off existing debts.

EIDL Forgiveness/Advance Grant

As part of the EIDL, emergency grants of up to $10,000 may be available. The grant does not need to be repaid as long as funds are applied to approved uses, which include providing paid sick leave, maintaining payroll, making rent or mortgage payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

This program provides loans that cover 250% of a business’s average monthly payroll costs from the past year, up to $10M. Loan forgiveness is provided for uses including employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

SBA Express Bridge Loan

This pilot program allows small businesses with an urgent need to access funding while waiting for the decision or disbursement of an EIDL. Loans are available for up to $25,000 and provide working capital to cover operational expenses and support the survival or reopening of the business.

SBA Small Business Debt Relief Program

This program provides a financial reprieve to businesses suffering during the coronavirus pandemic by paying the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans (or new loans taken out before September 27th, 2020) for a period of six months.

Don’t Panic! Ask for Help

At e2E, we understand that many small business owners are feeling overwhelmed by the details and complexities of the resources that are becoming available to them. But please, don’t panic – we’re here to help!

This is a difficult and uncertain time, but we are proud to be able to help our clients identify and access the resources needed to keep small businesses and their communities thriving. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for guidance and support!


Small Businesses: You Can’t Afford NOT to Have a CFO

Posted on April 2nd, 2020

I grew up working in the family business and have spent a lot of my adult life supporting small businesses as a CPA and finance and accounting professional, so I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many companies grow and thrive. If there’s one thing businesses that do well have in common, it’s that their leaders understand and embrace their strengths. Some are visionaries, others are great motivators or team builders. Successful business leaders play to their strengths and, just as importantly, know when to seek advice.

My message to small business owners is this: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether in good times, tough times, or uncertain times like these, the experience and knowledge of trusted advisors are central to your success.

The Value of Financial Guidance

A Chief Financial Officer plays one of the most important roles in growing a business. From understanding cash flow to securing financing and participating in strategic decision-making, a CFO’s unique perspective can make the difference between success and failure. Many small businesses can’t afford a full-time CFO, so they go without this vital expertise. Luckily, a CFO consultant or advisor can provide the same advice and perspective at a fraction of the cost.

Here’s why your small business can’t afford NOT to have a CFO:

Cash Flow Analysis

Understanding a company’s cash flow is crucial to its success. In fact, studies have found that 82% of small businesses that fail experience cash flow issues, making it the number one reason for business closure.

Many entrepreneurs don’t have the financial expertise to analyze cash flow, forecast future revenue, and create an accurate cash flow budget. That’s why a CFO with experience in cash flow analysis can add tremendous value to a small business’s financial planning and decision making. By identifying which expenses are beneficial and which aren’t, forecasting revenue under a variety of different market conditions, and determining how much a business should keep in cash reserves, a CFO can help businesses avoid common mistakes and stay on the path towards growth.

Financing Opportunities

Another key area in which a CFO creates value for a small business is in identifying and securing financing. It takes money to make money, and access to capital is essential in order to invest in your business’s growth. Not only can a CFO help your company gain access to funding opportunities, they can also help determine how that capital can be spent in the most productive and beneficial manner.

In uncertain times like these, as small businesses struggle with unexpected closures or dips in revenue, a CFO’s skill set is even more vital. Emergency loans may be available to companies impacted by COVID-19, and a finance professional can help you secure those funds and prioritize their use to make it through this difficult time.

Strategic Decision-Making

In many small businesses, strategic decisions are made by a very small group of leaders. Most often, business owners are left to make major decisions on their own. A CFO advisor’s perspective can be an extraordinarily valuable addition to the strategic decision-making process. An experienced CFO who understands cash flow, investment strategies, and a business’s big picture financial situation can ensure that important decisions are financially sound and optimize profitability.

The Power of an Outside Perspective

In addition to their lower cost, CFO consultants or advisors have an additional advantage over a full-time CFO. Our wide breadth of experience working with diverse companies across multiple industries provides a unique perspective. While understanding the intricacies of each business’s financial situation, we have an outside-in viewpoint from which we can identify opportunities that leaders who are stuck in the day-to-day might miss.

As the Finance Practice Leader at e2E, LLC, I have the honor of working alongside small business leaders every day and contributing to their achievements. There’s no better feeling than helping a business owner overcome a challenge, deepen their understanding, or reach a new milestone. If you value the expertise a CFO can offer to ensure your growth and success, contact us today!


Refreshing Your Brand, Reclaiming Your Story

Posted on April 2nd, 2020

Have you visited e2E’s new website? If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take a look! You might notice that some things have changed.

Our mission and commitment to helping small businesses grow and thrive aren’t going anywhere, nor is our team of experts, but we’ve refreshed our branding and website to help communicate our goals in a compelling new way. This isn’t a rebranding – you’ll see that our logo retains the “e2E” styling that represents the path from entrepreneur to Enterprise, and our favorite color, orange, is more prominent than ever – it’s a brand refresh.

What’s the difference? And why might your company want to consider a brand refresh of your own?

Rebranding vs. Refreshing

Rebranding is a major undertaking. Companies decide to rebrand themselves for a number of different reasons, whether recovering after a major misstep, realigning their target market, or adjusting to a merger or acquisition. Rebranding includes major changes to the components of a brand’s public face, including logos, taglines, mission statements, and sometimes even the company name. Often, the entire “brand story” is rewritten.

In contrast, a brand refresh is about updating a brand without substantially changing it. For Iconic Digital, Jason Hutcheson uses the example of updating your wardrobe. You may want to totally change your look and rebrand your image, or simply refresh it by buying a suit or dress in a similar cut and color to one that you’ve worn and loved for years. A brand refresh “still reflects your style and image. It simply shows an updated, more relevant and essentially more professional you!”

While a rebranding consists of major changes to a brand’s story, a brand refresh tweaks a story that already works in order to make it more compelling and relevant to today’s audience. Refreshing your brand means bringing the elements of your brand that have historically been successful into the future while retaining the core identity you’ve created that resonates with your target consumers.

A Successful Brand Refresh

There’s often a public outcry when major brands go too far or lose their way when updating their image. In recent years, Tropicana orange juice walked back a brand refresh that left consumers cold, and who can forget the disaster of New Coke in the 1980s? Brand refreshes that go well don’t always make a big splash, but they do pay off as companies attract new audiences, new business, and have the opportunity to revitalize themselves internally and externally.

As CircleStudio reveals, “Branding is the process of defining, conveying and maintaining your firm’s core value and differentiators. It’s about figuring out who you are, what you stand for, why your clients should care and then conveying it in a meaningful and consistent way.” A successful brand refresh keeps a company’s DNA and brand story intact. Often, this is because the mission statement is kept at the core of the effort to update a brand’s visual identity and communication strategy.

A throughline of consistency is vital in a successful brand refresh. After all, you’ve invested so much time and energy in establishing your brand’s value and recognition. Refreshing your brand is an incredible opportunity to reconnect with your core values, reflect on what works and what doesn’t, and give yourself a boost of new energy and new business.

Reclaiming Your Story

Another benefit of a brand refresh is the ability to harness public perception, notable successes, and your company’s journey into a coherent story that you write yourself. Especially in the era of social media and other online platforms, a brand’s story can become co-opted by outside voices. Refreshing your brand is a chance to reclaim your story and assert your identity in a powerful and intentional way.

e2E is thrilled with our new look and updated message. We’re sending out a big “Thank You!” to the brilliant, collaborative team at J.Schmid who helped us define and create it.

Our brand refresh is a reminder that our commitment to providing expert advice and mentorship to entrepreneurs and small business owners is as strong as ever. To learn more about how we can help your brand grow and thrive, contact us today!


Vital Leadership Skills for Small Business Owners

Posted on February 25th, 2020

Are successful small business owners born leaders or do they learn leadership? There’s a distinct difference between being a boss and being a leader, and while not all entrepreneurs become leaders, every business owner has the opportunity to nurture their leadership skills.

Key elements of true leaders include a visionary mindset and a sense of strategic direction. They are able to look into the future and see the potential within themselves and others. They seek mentorship, garner wisdom, and take proactive steps to achieve goals beyond the status quo.

These are the leaders who inspire those around them to work towards a greater future as well. Small business owners who embrace leadership are often rewarded with growth and exponential success. I say “embrace” leadership because it’s not something we either have or we don’t; leadership is something that can be learned, and successful entrepreneurs are always learning.

Learning to Lead

Small business owners who are motivated to become better leaders can intentionally cultivate a skill set that will help them lead with vision, purpose, and clarity. In my experience working closely with many entrepreneurs and small business owners (and growing a successful business myself), these are the leadership skills that make a difference:

Vision

In order to lead effectively, you have to know where you’re going. Ask yourself “What does my company want to become?”. Through answering this question, you can develop a vision statement that articulates guiding principles for you and your team.

Planning is also key to developing and sustaining your vision of the future. Where do you want your business to be in 5 years? 10 years? Creating a financial model is a helpful tool for setting goals and illuminating the path that will allow you to reach them. When you know where you’re going, you’re able to take decisive action and lead those around you down the right path.

Inspiration

Once you’ve developed your vision for the future, can you inspire your team to help it come true? “Leadership is defined by action,” the balance notes, and the best leaders inspire through their example. That means living by your vision and guiding principles. True leadership is demonstrating growth through your own commitment to improving yourself and your work, not just demanding growth from others. “Therefore, in developing your own skills, you have to act in ways that are fitting to your leadership vision and your self—all the time.” When your team admires your work ethic and integrity, they’ll be inspired to bring out the best in themselves.

Collaboration

That doesn’t mean that leaders act alone. In fact, the best leaders are good listeners who seek advice, ask questions, and actively include others in their journey. The best teams are communicative, transparent, and engaged in the success of all of their parts.

FundingCircle writes that “Collaboration empowers employees with your confidence… (and) allows them to make contributions that scale beyond their individual role and make them feel valued.” Make it a point to actively solicit feedback, opinions, and ideas from your team. When everyone’s unique talents are being nurtured, your company will be at its strongest and most effective.

Delegation

For entrepreneurs and owners who’ve needed to wear many hats while launching and growing a small business, this skill can be one of the most difficult to embrace. But just because you can do everything doesn’t mean that you should! The ideal outgrowth of collaboration is the ability to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to trusted members of your team or outside advisors. This doesn’t just lighten your burden; it also increases the investment in success across the organization.

Growing a small business requires lots of different skill sets, so don’t hesitate to seek help and advice when needed. Enlisting the experts for assistance in planning, finance, hiring and HR, accounting and bookkeeping, or more is a smart way for leaders to delegate vital services while they focus their time and talent in ways that make an impact.

At e2E, LLC, our subject matter experts enable small business leaders to assemble their dream team of advisors and support services to promote growth. Contact us today to learn more!


Top Line Revenue Drives Bottom Line Success

Posted on January 30th, 2020

In most areas of our lives, it’s easy to see how our investments of time, energy, and money create value over the long term. Consider the expense and exhaustion of raising small children, and the joy we receive from watching them grow and learn! But for some reason, it can be difficult for small business owners to take the long view when it comes to growing their company.

Often, this is the result of an intense focus on the bottom line. A healthy bottom line is vital to any business, but we can’t lose sight of the additional factors that will contribute to our long-term success. It’s important not to sacrifice the bottom line with frivolous spending – but some areas of investment, such as marketing or personnel budgets, are what drive top line growth and ultimately increase profits. Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Top Line Revenue

First, a quick refresher for those of us who aren’t so financially minded. Top line revenue, as the balance explains, “refers to the money a company generates by providing goods or services to its customers.” That’s your gross revenue, or simply how much money is coming in the door. Bottom line profit is the figure you get once you’ve deducted all the expenses involved in making that money. That’s your net profit, or “profit after all expenses, taxes, interest, and other costs have been paid, depreciation estimated, and the books closed.”

It makes sense to prioritize the bottom line. That’s how much money you ultimately made. However, most owners distribute out their earnings instead of investing a healthy portion of them into their future growth. Don’t lose sight of the big picture and the potential investments that could catapult your company to a higher level of success!

Focusing on top line revenue means focusing on growth. When we look for ways to increase the top line, we’re able to prioritize our potential and make investments that lead to expanded opportunities.

Taking the Long View

Too many entrepreneurs deprive themselves of the ability to innovate, invest, and grow by stockpiling profit rather than investing some of it. Instead, take the long view. For example, increasing your marketing budget now will result in snowballing sales over the long-term. If you invest in building your client or customer base, increasing your sales, or hiring a consultant or staff member whose skills can help you grow, your bottom line may decrease in the short term. But, those initial expenses will pay off in the long term, earning back your investment and contributing to your bottom-line success for years to come.

The truth is you have to spend money to make money. Studies demonstrate that entrepreneurs and business leaders often regret not spending more on marketing early in their development. In Entrepreneur, Chief Revenue Officer Victoria Treyger notes that “On average, marketing/advertising spend is companies’ smallest expense each year. However, marketing is a key investment for any business, and many wish they’d invested sooner.” Effective marketing investments are one of the fastest ways to increase top line revenue and ultimately grow the bottom line over the long term.

Be smart, of course! Look at your financials and create a budget that allows you the freedom to invest in new growth strategies – and then stick to it. A budget gives you something to strive for and establishes healthy parameters for your expenses. You can always pull back your spending if it becomes necessary, but when you don’t invest in growth, growth doesn’t happen.

Invest in Your Success

As e2E’s Marketing Practice Leader, my commitment is to our clients’ growth. I bring years of experience as an entrepreneur, marketer, and communications leader to the table to help you develop strategies that lead to top line revenue and bottom line success. If you’re ready to invest in your success, contact us today!


Female Entrepreneurs Fight the Funding Gap

Posted on August 9th, 2019

It’s sad but true: women who start their own businesses are still struggling to access the financing options available to men. All Raise, an organization dedicated to increasing diversity in tech and entrepreneurship, has found that only 15% of available venture investment goes to businesses with at least one female founder. For businesses founded by all-female teams, that number drops to 2%. (more…)


Small Businesses Strategies to Increase Agility

Posted on August 9th, 2019

The startup and small business community have always been a model for larger businesses when it comes to “agility” – the ability to remain flexible, make quick decisions, and prioritize efficiency and effectiveness. Agile businesses are better able to maintain stability during times of change and to make the changes that they need to be successful. What does it mean to build an agile business or increase your existing company’s agility? What are the trademarks of an agile business that small business owners should cultivate? (more…)


Financial Modeling Powerful Tool For Your Small Business

Posted on August 9th, 2019

Do you have a financial model for your startup or small business? Entrepreneurship is complicated and demanding, but there’s one step many entrepreneurs fail to take that can bring stability and predictability to an early-stage or small business. Whether applying for financing, planning inventory needs, or preparing for investment in new equipment, space, or personnel, having a sound financial model is vital. (more…)


Women in Leadership: Supporting the Paths Less Traveled

Posted on August 9th, 2019

Women who seek leadership positions, in businesses large and small, face different obstacles than their male counterparts. In 2019, 18% of senior leadership positions in large organizations are occupied by women, according to IBM’s Women, Leadership, and the Priority Paradox, while roughly 40% of small businesses are women-owned. IBM also found that “women won’t achieve leadership parity with men until 2073 without employer intervention.” One thing is for sure; today’s female leaders aren’t waiting around for that intervention to take place. (more…)


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