Russia vs. American Small Business

The world economy depends on global energy supplies. We were exposed to supply-chain snags during the Covid pandemic, but with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, sanction and export controls against Russia could make things even worse in terms of inflation.

Our reality check is that today a gallon of gas averages $4.10— a whopping 49% more than the $2.75 in March 2021. If your small business has a fleet of cars or trucks, inflation at the pump can tear into profits.

With commodity prices rising, the cost of services will also rise. Businesses often have no choice but to pass along their increased cost of products and services to their customers. A rising tide raises all boats!


So how can a small business protect itself?

According to the Bureau of Labor, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in the prices paid by consumer for goods and services, had it largest 12-month increase since 1982. If you can, it may be wise to stock up on inventory, invest in property and update equipment before the CPI rises higher.

Now that the Federal Reserve Board has decided to increase the federal funds rate, those who anticipated higher rates and place their cash into interest-bearing CDs, money markets, bonds and savings accounts may benefit. The Fed today signaled multiple incremental increases during the coming year.

If you have access to capital, it may be a good time to purchase inventory and the core materials needed for your business. Examine your technology needs. You may be able to do more with fewer people using state-of-the-art automation that requires less human interaction. 

If eligible, look into a fixed-rate loan from the SBA (Small Business Administration) for working capital and to refinance any existing debt on your business.

Talk to your suppliers about long-term agreements and if you rent business space, consider negotiating a longer-term lease. 

Finally, talk to us as well as your financial advisor. Whatever the nature of your small business, the worldwide pandemic followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are reasons to prepare. 

FOOTNOTE

As the crisis in Ukraine continues, people here in the Tri-State offer help to those who need to leave their homes. Read about the Matthew 25: Ministry program and consider a generous donation for drop off at their location at 11083 Kenwood Road, 45242.

Where Are We Going in 2022?

If you are reading this, you made it through 2021 — the year that was supposed to have been the “rebound year” from 2020’s Covid-19-induced disaster for small businesses. While 2021 was not quite the year we had hoped for in terms of supply chains and freedom from government restrictions and mandates, it wasn’t a complete disaster.

After a less than optimistic 2020, last year ushered in over 4.6 million applications for new businesses. Innovation and sheer willpower helped business owners overcome hurdles and adapt, and they now appear poised to rebuild, reimagine, and prepare for a brighter future.

The pandemic’s bright side was that consumers decided to shop small and shop local, as if they could forecast the coming supply chain issues of late 2021. And this inspired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to offer a few “top tips” for small businesses in 2022:

  • Keep track of scarcities in the supply chain and get ahead of them by working proactively with your suppliers.
  • Proactively educate your clients about any changes you make or plan to make as the economic landscape changes.
  • Get creative on sales and marketing opportunities. A workforce working almost exclusively from home during Covid created a dynamic digital marketing landscape. Buyers are reluctant to return to brick and mortar shopping, so online and mobile purchasing habits require our selling and fulfillment methods to have compatible strategies.
  • Consider outsourcing. Hiring part-time experienced freelancers can help you avoid the hiring and training costs of full-time employees and skilled outsourced contractors are in abundance.

Perhaps someone you knew joined “The Great Resignation” of 2021. Covid saw workers quit their jobs at record-high rates to seek a better work-life balance. Now, as small business owners, we may need to rethink and rephrase how we attract and retain a workforce that now wants a meaningful life with work, family, friends and self. 

All food for thought as we collectively head into 2022. We wish everyone a healthy, happy, and abundant New Year. We also like to hear your thoughts on where we are going in 2022. Feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Small Business Holiday Celebrations

December launches the happiest (or most stress-filled?) time of the year for small business. Regardless of which holiday your employees celebrate—Christmas, Hanukkah, or perhaps another, it’s a festive time for office decorating and party planning. Expressing appreciation during the holidays contributes to a fun, cohesive work culture, especially for those offices that were forced to adapt to working remotely during the Covid pandemic. 

Even if you simply celebrate the season without consideration for tradition, your employees will notice the effort and enjoy the camaraderie. Employee gifts are always appreciated, whether it be in the form of individual tokens like a small gift, office party with food, or a long lunch hour at a local restaurant. If you plan to give employees a Christmas or end-of-the year bonus, now is the time to confirm that funds were included in the annual budget.

A recent survey indicated that only 41.5% of small businesses plan to give a holiday bonus this year “if they can afford it.” So many are looking for alternative ways to inspire employees and make the season special.

Decorating the office and being creative are good places to start. More suggestions include holding a Christmas sweater contest, Christmas cookie bake-off, or hosting a catered lunch, potluck, or no-fuss restaurant luncheon. What might be the best motivational idea of all? Volunteering for a non-profit organization or having an office party where, instead of a gift exchange among employees, have everyone bring a backpack full of school supplies, or another item that is relevant to the charity that the gift exchange will support. Giving back is a winning way to bring your team together and still have fun. Plus, it’s a great PR opportunity for your business. Ideas might also include selecting a charity to help raise funds, working in a soup kitchen, or collecting donations for a toys, food, or clothing drive.

If you manufacture a product or provide a service that has general appeal to consumers, offer it to a nonprofit as an auction item. 

The important thing to remember is that it’s been a tough couple of years. It’s time for good cheer and holiday celebrating. What’s your idea this year? Let us know.