Coronavirus Business Update




New PPP Extension Becomes Law

Last week an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program was signed into law. ADP fills in some of the details of the PPP Flexibility Act:

  • Extends the amount of time borrowers have to use PPP funds from eight weeks to 24.
  • Extends the deadline to rehire laid-off and furloughed employees and still qualify for loan forgiveness from June 30 to Dec. 31.
  • Reduces from 75% to 60% the amount of PPP money that must be spent on payroll expenses for the loan to be forgiven completely.
  • Gives borrowers five years to repay the loan instead of two years.

There’s also detailed information about the PPP Flexibility Act on The National Law Review.


Grants to United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Comcast Business  has partnered with NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises to provide a $50,000 grant to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)—America’s largest Hispanic business organization, representing over 4.37 million Hispanic-owned SMBs.  The grant will support Hispanic-owned businesses impacted by COVID-19.

In addition to the grant, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises in partnership with USHCC, is providing resources and guidelines to businesses in the language of their choice, as well as tips on how to navigate the Small Business Debt Relief Program—the CARES Act, the program that provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans. This information, as well as other resources to guide business owners can be found here.

Comcast Business is enabling businesses of all sizes to stay online and connected during these unusual times, with access to free Xfinity hotspots, tools to manage a business from any device, anywhere, and a team of experts and engineers available 24/7. In addition, Comcast Business has instituted enhanced safety measures to protect the health of its customers while continuing to install services and provide the best possible service.


Guide to Help Humanize the Health Care Debate

United States of Care (USofCare), a nonpartisan organization committed to ensuring that every American has access to quality, affordable health care,  just released a new guide to help policymakers, advocates, and other key stakeholders humanize the health care debate and COVID-19 response. USofCare conducted an ongoing listening project to better understand people’s shared needs in response to COVID-19, combining public opinion analysis, survey research, and in-depth interviews throughout the country. The guide summarizes what they learned, advice on connecting with the public, as well as how to prioritize solutions.

USofCare says, “We’ve consistently found that centering the conversation around shared needs and values opens new avenues for more people to be part of the conversation and the solution. Our most recent survey confirmed our focus on four critical shared needs that are emerging in response to the pandemic, including the desire for:

  • A reliable health care system that is fully resourced to support essential workers and available when needed, both now and after the pandemic
  • A health care system that cares for everyone, including people who are vulnerable and those who were already struggling before the pandemic hit
  • Accurate information and clear recommendations on the virus and how to stay healthy and safe
  • Being able to provide for ourselves and our loved ones, especially as we are worried about the financial impact of the pandemic

They’re recommended policy priorities to federal and state policymakers, including:

Lead with values and emotion: The findings show that centering the conversation around shared needs will open new avenues for more people to participate in the health care debate and the design of new solutions.

State and federal officials should show how they are listening to the public by proposing durable, people-centered policy solutions. These solutions should address not only the short-term challenges but also be designed to remove the long-standing barriers in our current health care system. People need to feel heard and that the health care system is there to support them.

Public Opinion Key Findings: There is a conflicting set of emotions, with Americans feeling concerned (53%), anxious (47%), uncertain (44%), frustrated (35%), and also hopeful (33%) and grateful (23%).

The most pressing concerns for the majority of respondents are the health and safety of their loved ones (66%), followed closely by their health and safety (55%). The next most pressing concern is for “my own and my family members’ employment and financial situation,” (44%) except in the GOP groups, which stated that reopening the economy is of higher importance. Participants were least concerned with “getting back to my job” (around 20%).

The pandemic illuminated deficiencies in our health care system; many respondents reflected on the fact that the U.S. was caught unprepared to handle the pandemic, and our losses have been higher than those of other countries.


Montgomery’s Recover Together Small Business Relief Fund Now Accepting Applications

Applications are open for the Recover Together Small Business Relief Fund in Montgomery to help small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Small Business Relief Fund will provide flexible, one-time grants between $1,000 and $7,500 with a cap of $7,500 per award to provide working capital for small businesses in the Montgomery area as these businesses work to continue or resume operations following COVID-19-related impacts.

The Small Business Relief Fund is accepting grant applications online via through June 15, as funds remain available. You can go to the same site to make individual or corporate donations. Or if you want to donate by check, donors should indicate that the contribution is intended for the “Small Business Relief Fund” in the memo field and mail to P.O. Box 79, Montgomery, AL 36101. All contributions are tax deductible.

For more information about growing a business in Montgomery, visit the Montgomery Chamber.


Tools & Resources 

Immediate Cost-Cutting Relief

Cerity, a direct to small business workers’ compensation carrier, partnered with to provide immediate cost cutting measures to small businesses. Payroll4Free and Cerity are providing a new model of flexible cost saving platforms with the ability to provide free online payroll services and Pay-as-you-go (PayGo™) workers’ compensation.

The partnership between Cerity and Payroll4Free provides immediate cost cutting benefits to small businesses, instantly providing free online payroll services and pay-as-you-go workers compensation. A few additional benefits from this partnership include:

  • Free online payroll services
  • No upfront costs. No money down.
  • Pay workers’ comp premium only when you pay employees.
  • No “guesstimates.” No surprises.
  • Automatic debits – one less bill to remember to pay.
  • Drastically reduce workers’ comp costs while protecting your business in uncertain times.

Learn more about the partnership.


Polls & Surveys


State Of Small Business Report Reveals Recovery Outlook

Alignable’s State Of Small Business Report for June has just been released, offering an inside look at what’s really happening among small businesses as they reopen across the U.S. and Canada.

Based on Alignable Pulse Polls of 88,000+ small business owners, their biggest concerns about recovery include having sufficient financial resources and helping customers overcome COVID-related fears associated with returning to their businesses.

Highlights from the report reflect small business owners’ struggles, early triumphs, and other sentiments.

  • Reopening Surge! 68% of small businesses are open now—a promising start. However, only 40% are fully open—the remaining 28% currently offer fewer products or services. And 3% say they’re closed for good.
  • Feeling Anxious About Customer Fears: Less than 50% of customers have returned, and 25% of business owners worry they’re scared to come back. Making customers feel safe and comfortable is priority No. 1.
  • Employment Situation: Only 47% of pre-COVID-19 employees are back on the payroll, but small businesses expect to hire another 7% by the end of June.

To see a variety of other small business sentiments, trends, polls and analysis about the recovery process, click here for the full report.


Small Business Owners are Concerned About Cash

Another Alignable poll taken just last week shows rent and other expenses continue to be a big issue for almost half of the small businesses in the U.S. And in a related poll, only 6% say their rent has decreased for June and 4% say it’s actually increased.

Based on other Alignable research, some of the challenges leading to payment issues include:

  • PPP Problems: Over 40% of small businesses failed to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans as they didn’t believe they would qualify, or they didn’t trust the loan forgiveness terms. Some 15% of small business owners tried to get the loans but were denied or large banks never processed their applications.
  • Cash Crunch: 26% are afraid of cash reserves running out.
  • Slow Recovery: 56% of open businesses say less than half of their customers have returned.
  • COVID-19 Impact Remains Strong: 74% say the virus threat continues to have a negative effect on their businesses.

Industries with small business owners struggling to pay rent in full, include: retail (Mom & Pop Shops, salons, barbers, florists, etc.), restaurants, construction, arts & entertainment, hotels/motels/B&Bs, and transportation (taxis, Uber and Lyft).

However, small business owners in industries including financial services, insurance, utilities and real estate have been less affected by COVID-19 and were among the 52% of businesses paying their June rent in full.


Small Business Response to COVID-19

Verizon Business released findings from a recent survey, Small Business Response to COVID-19, to better understand the impact small business owners and decision makers feel COVID-19 has had on their businesses. The survey, conducted by Morning Consult, focused on SMBs that are currently open or plan to reopen. One of the survey’s key results is that small businesses have renewed confidence—68% believe they can recoup COVID-19 related losses.

Key findings:

A Renewed Confidence: The small businesses that have weathered the pandemic to date express an overall optimism and the financial wherewithal to eventually reopen.

  • 68% of small businesses believe they can recoup COVID-19 related losses
  • 46% of small businesses that remain open say their businesses will be able to stay open for more than six months if the pandemic continues in the same way
  • 48% of small businesses say it’s unlikely they will need to resume operations with a smaller staff
  • While 78% of small businesses indicate declining sales, only 24% say that they have missed or withheld any payments of bills (rent, utilities, etc.).

TJ Fox, President of Verizon Business Markets says, “Many small businesses are focusing on the future by investing in new ways to adjust to the new work from home model, optimize revenue and find ways to succeed in the new business as usual.”

Small Businesses Need Help Beyond Financial Assistance: While much of the small business news coverage has focused on government financial aid programs, the survey results suggest small business owners are in reality seeking more practical advice and assets to help them survive and thrive.

  • Expertise Needed For Recovery: Small businesses cite Financial (54%), IT (42%), E-Commerce (42%), and HR (40%) as the key areas of advice they would like to tap into.

Small Businesses are Adapting Their Businesses to the New Normal: As these small businesses have faced challenges both in managing remote employees, rules and regulations surrounding opening and venue capacity, and the overall downturn in the economy, they’ve found and continue to investigate new ways to drive the bottom line. These pivots include:

  • 43% plan on expanding their businesses through digital and related technology
  • 30% already added ways in which they deliver products and services digitally

To date, Verizon’s total COVID-19 crisis commitment now stands at over $55 million in contributions and donations to non-profits around the globe. You can find more information on Verizon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.


Startups & Early-Stage Fundraising

DocSend, a secure document sharing platform, recently released a report exploring how startup founders are navigating the new realities of early-stage fundraising as a result of the recent economic downturn. Of the startup founders in its customer community that were surveyed, most appeared optimistic about their business prospects, yet 55% of those actively fundraising say they have less than six months of runway at their current funding levels.

The report, DocSend Startup Index: The COVID Impact, provides a snapshot from April and uncovers the make-or-break decisions startup founders are being forced to make to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting global circumstances. These decisions range from modifying company valuations and fundraising timelines to reducing headcount and operational costs.

According to the report, 65% of fundraising startups say they are either maintaining (38%) or growing (27%) their businesses—an optimistic and positive outlook in the face of a pandemic and market downturn, while 60% of non-fundraising startups reported the same confident outlook. But the report also points out a stark reality—only 9% percent of fundraising startups say they have more than a year of runway with current funding.

In spite of the short runways, 64% of fundraising startups have not changed their target valuations. But 50% of founders actively fundraising say they’ve shifted the timing of their fundraising pursuits due to current market conditions.

In some cases, the pandemic is creating new demand opportunities for startups—40% of fundraising founders and 33% of non-fundraising founders say the current economic climate has accelerated their product release timeline because they have seen increased demand for their products or technology.

For many, fundraising is critical for survival and more challenging in a virtual business world. The pitch deck, which is now primarily presented via conference call or secure document sharing, is becoming even more crucial. Compared to just three months ago, founders report VCs are asking for different information in pitch decks before they accept a (virtual) meeting:

  • 32% say they are asking for more information on the company’s market opportunity and “why now?” proposition
  • 24% say investors are asking for more information on the startup’s business model
  • 23% say investors are asking for more information on finances

“One of the hardest parts of running a startup business—fundraising—has become protracted, unpredictable and almost completely virtual overnight,” Russ Heddleston, cofounder and CEO of DocSend says. “For founders who face an uncertain future and still have some runway left, now may be a good time to step back and re-trench. Instead of trying to raise money against serious headwinds, rethink your product plans, business model and other aspects of your business, and then wait for the market to improve.”

The new report is part of the DocSend Startup Index, an ongoing series of proprietary data and insights on startups and fundraising progress at different stages of the startup journey, from pre-seed to seed to series A and beyond. To view the full results, download the report.


How are Airbnb Hosts Coping During Covid-19?

Airbnb and short-term rental property owners have felt the first-hand effects of Americans putting travel on hold due to Covid-19. To gain insight into how Covid-19 has affected short-term rentals, IPX 1031 recently surveyed both part-time and fulltime Airbnb hosts as well as guests who have used the platform.


  • 47% of hosts don’t feel safe renting to guests, while 70% of guests are fearful to stay at an Airbnb right now.
  • 64% of guests either have cancelled or plan to cancel an Airbnb booking since the pandemic started.
  • Airbnb hosts expect a 44% decrease in revenue this summer (June-August). Hosts have dropped their daily rates as much as $90 on average.
  • 45% of hosts won’t be able to sustain operating costs if the pandemic lasts another 6 months (16% have already missed or delayed a mortgage payment on one or more of their properties).
  • On average, hosts have lost $4,036 since Covid-19 began to spread in the US.

Check out the full report from IPX 1031.


The Epicenter Exodus

As the U.S. starts reopening a just released survey reveals a many residents from coronavirus hot-spot states would voluntarily pack up and move to areas not as crippled by the virus. From the cities to the suburbs, many Americans want to hit the road. The only problem?  Many fear if they do move, they’ll be labeled with the ‘COVID Cooties’!

That sentiment comes from a new survey of Americans conducted by Our Town America, a  leading new mover marketing franchise, which reveals a large percentage of residents living in the 10 states with the most Covid-19 cases would consider moving—even though many have lived in their state for more than 20 years, or even their whole lives. The states with the most coronavirus cases are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Florida.  

The survey reveals:

  • More than 40% say they’d consider movingbecause they live in a coronavirus hot spot state. More than half live in the suburbs, while over 30% live in the city.
  • Of those who would move, 53% say they would move to an area of the country less affected by the coronavirus for peace of mind(44%) and because there’s less chance of a resurgence of coronavirus (40%). Some also say it’s important to live somewhere their kids can start school sooner.
  • When would they move?Only 19% say they’re ready to move NOW, while 64% say they’d want to move by the end of the year.
  • Yet they do fear they will be stigmatized with ‘COVID Cooties’—68% worry because they come from a state heavily infected with the virus, new neighbors will avoid them.

Numb Nation 

The  survey shows many Americans are “shell-shocked by Covid-19.”  As the nation reopens, 76% say they’re still worried about the virus, 64% say they’re also concerned about the future and 33% say they don’t believe the state they live in will ever get back to pre-pandemic normal.

  • People are most worried about their families, health, and finances: 35% say they or someone in their family lost work or a job. And 46% say they want better mental health. Those with kids also ranked their children’s well-being as a top worry.
  • The South Atlantic states rank as the top areas people would move to right now—from Florida up to Delaware.
  • Of those eager to move 28% say they’d move to a warmer climate, of those 53% say warm weather is better for their physical and mental health and 17% believe the virus has less chance of spreading in warmer temperatures.


Get informed—Read it!


When Will Tech Workers Be Willing To Return To Work?

The results of this survey from TrustRadius may surprise you.


Your Post COVID-19 Contingency Plan

Every small business needs a Post COVID-19 Contingency Plan. Business coaches Roger and Susie Engelau of Inspire Results business coaching explains how to develop one.


Get informed—Advice


Top 10 Free Tools to Protect Remote Workers from Cyberattacks

A recent survey by Arctic Security found the number of hacked companies worldwide more than doubled since January of this year. So, it’s no surprise that employers and employees alike are worried about the rise in COVID-related hacking, especially considering how many are now working remotely. Interested in safeguarding against future attacks, the experts at Specops Software have compiled a list of the top 10 free IT tools for businesses dealing with remote workers.

  1. TightVNC is a free desktop sharing software particularly popular with business users and IT managers. For IT managers, it allows for the complete monitoring and control of another computer remotely, eliminating the fear of not knowing what an employee is up to.
  2. Clonezilla is a free, open-source toolkit designed to clone disks and hard drives, as well as facilitate backup and disaster recovery—perfect for businesses requiring uniform set-ups across their remote workforce.
  3. Windows Sysinternals is an easy-to-use utilities site that helps managers and admins to manage, troubleshoot and diagnose Windows systems and applications.
  4. The Microsoft Account Lockout and Management Tools are a great set of applications for when something goes wrong. It presents a range of tools allowing admins to manage accounts and troubleshoot account lockouts.
  5. A fork of mRemote, mRemoteNG is a nifty open source software that allows for the effortless viewing and monitoring of remote connections across an employer’s workforce
  6. The great range from BooZet freeware eradicates the fear of losing files ever again. Its four types of freeware allow the user to index contents across a range of disks, backup drivers, view saved 3DMark results easily and clean systems.
  7. An enhanced version of the original Windows app, Notepad++ is a powerful text editor which includes a multitude of features such as, 27 programming languages, supporting syntax highlighting, synchronized edits and views, and more.
  8. PuTTY is the perfect open source terminal application for system admins, developers, network engineers and other IT professionals that need to connect to remote systems. It is great for basic technical chores alongside secure file transfers via a range of methods.
  9. The Specops Password Auditor is a neat little tool to ensure the security of passwords across a workforce. Specifically, it allows the admin to scan their Active Directory for password-related security vulnerabilities.
  10. Lastly, the Specops Password Notification enables IT admins to configure password expiration email reminders to be sent via their own SMTP server, letting IT admins communicate password expirations to remote users.

Specops’ cybersecurity expert, Darren James, offers some advice about how employers can  best protect their business and employees:

All IT security is based upon the premise that you need to give the right access to the right people using the right device. When you apply this to remote workers, the following areas need to be considered:

How they are connecting to the company data/system:

  • Cloud – accessible via a web browser.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Which type will depend on what the machine supports. Is it user initiated (you log in and press a connect button) or machine initiated?
  • Remote Desktop Services – Citrix NetScaler or MS Remote Desktop Gateway server.

The type and location of data/system they need access to:

  • Is it cloud or on-premise?
  • Is it sensitive information? Does exposing the data to remote workers contravene any privacy laws?

The location of the user accessing the data/system:

  • Does the system react differently depending on whether it’s accessed over a WAN or LAN?
  • Are they accessing the data from home, public location, different country?
  • Physical security – is the device encrypted, locked down and does the device need a privacy filter?

How the user is authenticated to use data/systems:

  • Password, 2FA, MFA.
  • Authenticated device.
  • If a password expires, how is it reset and updated?

How they should be allowed to use data/systems:

  • Should it be presented via a Virtual Desktop rather than VPN?
  • Should they be allowed to Print locally/Screenshot?

Coronavirus stock photo by Maridav/Shutterstock