COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Markets Small Business

June 25, 2020

What we’re paying attention to today:

Entrepreneur interviews AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky, who talks about the future of tourism, and how in 6 weeks they almost lost everything that took them 12 years to build. I know that local governments don’t like AirBnB, but local governments better listen to his insights into the travel market regardless.

Great interviews with 12 business leaders on rebuilding in the post-pandemic economy by Authority Magazine. Follow this link for the highlights.

The retail trends initiated or accelerated by the pandemic continue, and the CEO of private label credit card provider Synchrony Financial gives her insights on it to Barron’s.

Here is some information on increasing the amount of your Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration

We love everything about markets, so we especially were interested in this article about how COVID-19 was tamed in one of the world’s largest food markets, Central de Abasto in Mexico City.

Yesterday we mentioned how the most optimistic part of the recovery may be in homebuilding. Well today we follow up with an article from Miami Today about how low mortgage rates may be a driving force in the recovery of the real estate market in Greater Miami. Well, I would think in at least certain parts of Miami, not necessarily some of the overpriced and saturated luxury condo submarkets.

Also from Miami Today, the multi-whammy impact on the Miami Beach municipal budget. Now, the Beach’s economy is more diverse than people think, but could become more diversified in not only the mix of businesses that are located but even more importantly in the industry mix of the resident workforce. Look at the difference in how the resident work forces of Miami Beach and Coral Gables are contrasted. Anyway, the Beach demonstrates the hard decisions facing local municipalities, some which will be aggressive in trying to restore economic growth and others that may continue to focus on over-lockdown which will cause even larger budget holes to fill, risking the health safety and welfare of the citizens. Good luck to them, glad I’m not the policymaker.

Is reshoring real? “Kearney recently released the seventh edition of their annual Reshoring Index, which attempts to do just that. The U.S. Reshoring Index tracks total manufactured goods imports from 14 traditional offshoring partner countries including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, as a percentage of U.S. domestic gross output of manufactured goods.”

COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Markets Small Business

June 24, 2020

Today in our world:

Everyone knows we love markets, especially farmers markets, but we also love growing stuff (we even own a spice business on the side). Well, did you know that even though there is a trend for victory gardens, you should have a 70/30 split between blooms and vegetables?

In the residential market, housing is the most optimistic indicator so far during the recovery. Sales of new single-family homes rose 16.6% from April to May.

Barron’s today is guiding business owners on ways to save taxes, including switching the method used to estimate taxes, changing accounting methods, taking advantage of federal relief, and reconsidering the business structure.

While there are more and more stories about businesses pivoting in response to the pandemic, Inc has a great interview with Our Place owner Shiza Shahid, who did not pivot. Additionally, here is Inc’s coverage of the SBA’s new loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program.

If you are considering buying a business, you should read this article from Entrepreneur. about the 3 questions you must ask. Barron’s this morning also has a good roundup of nongovernmental sources of financial aid for businesses.

Entrepreneur webinars are great and insightful. There are three coming up: How to get to market fast and lean; followed by how restaurants can survive in the new normal, closing with How to start a side hustle with little or no money.

Here is a good interview with Amy Liu from the Brookings Institute about the future of the Urban Economy.

What is the impact of the lockdown on your job prospects if you were forced into bankruptcy for reasons outside of your control?

A few weeks ago we told you about the challenges in Bristol Tennessee/Virginia, since state allowed businesses to reopen faster than the other, putting businesses in Virginia at a disadvantage. Well, its happening again in the Quad Cities, where sales on the Iowa side are booming while those in Illinois face continued financial disaster.


June 23, 2020

Busy day today. Great work, but not a lot to report yet so tomorrow’s may be bigger.

From Entrepreneur, a great article about business pivots from a small furniture business in Phoenix. He is a farmer that went from furniture maker to making intubation boxes that protect health care workers. He is now also working on a new product for the remote working world.

Entrepreneur also brings us their 7 habits of super successful business owners. Learn why you should consider these.

Finally, Inc brings us 4 money management tips for entrepreneurs.

Sorry so short, see you tomorrow!

COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Investment Drivers Markets

June 19, 2020

Today in our world.

Everyone knows that we are big fans of startups and entrepreneurial ventures that are launched during economic downturns. In this interview, Big Ass Fans founder Carey Smith talks about building a $500 million company during the Great Recession.

Local and state governments made you shut down your business. Can they also make you reopen? This article explores why a business may not be ready, or may not want to reopen quite yet.

As socially distant recreation grows in popularity, is rollerblading back?

The National Multifamily Housing Council reported the 89% of renters that it follow made payments for their June rent, which is near the historical norm. There is, however, concern that while tenants of professionally managed apartments were able to pay their rent, renters outside of this segment are experiencing hardships. There is concern about this market going forward, especially for smaller properties and rental units that are individually owned such as single family homes and condominiums.

There is also more coverage about the future of restaurants and the easing of regulations by cities to help restaurants recover. This has not been a uniform process around the country, or even within states. In Florida (and the U.S.) Tampa was ahead of the curve with its restaurant strategy while other locations such as Miami Beach lagged behind. New York and Los Angeles are still scrambling to finally help their restaurants.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said the city's licensing board would lift some restrictions and streamline restaurants' ability to use outdoor space adjacent to their indoor dining rooms. (iStock)

Interesting that today, as we move forward planning mobile apps for our services, Entrepreneur gives us the five reasons that eCommerce needs mobile apps immediately. They provide a better user experience, access features only available on cellphones, are great marketing channels, easy checkout and interactive customer experiences.

I loved this article on the words and phrases to avoid. Unfortunately, they omitted one: “new normal.” Ugh.

Its not enough to get your brand out there through all mediums, you need a brand to resonate with your customers. What do you stand for, compared to what customers think you stand for? What need to you serve, and can you serve that need better?

In Miami, a resident is suing the county over its unreasonable radical mask mandates. There is also coverage of David Beckham’s soccer stadium complex and its promises. The investment group has finally submitted its rezoning proposal to the city of Miami.

Up in one of our favorite areas, Florida’s Space Coast, Space Perspective will take tourists to space in the Spaceship Neptune balloon!

Looks like Nashville business owners, who have already suffered tornadoes, COVID-19 and civil unrest, will now have to endure a 34% property tax hike (paywall). On the positive side, California-based health care firm QTC will open an operations hub in Music City, creating 410 new jobs over the next five years. Another example of business flight from California to places like Texas and Nashville. Florida needs to get in on this action. Nashville will begin Phase 3 reopening on Monday, June 22nd. allowing bars and clubs to start operating again.

COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Gig Economy Small Business

June 18, 2020

Here’s what I found interesting in the news today.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting op-ed questioning if there is another exodus ahead for U.S. cities in the wake of COVID-19 and the recent civil unrest. What are the lessons from the prior exits from cities, and what are the factors that impact it this time and ways to address them? What about public sector unions, gentrification, and education? It includes a link to an interesting discussion about public sector unions, and how politics distinguish between organized labor that excludes include police, and the police unions.

I loved this article from Inc Magazine about an entrepreneur that was told by a venture capitalist that he had a billion dollar idea. He passed and leads a much happier life than if he had taken the VC up on it. He did have the luxury of having been through the VC process before with other projects, and decided it was time to stop so much focus on advertising, he would get to see his kids more, and no more chasing unicorns.

Entrepreneur had four articles today. The first was 4 tips for simplifying due diligence.

Business pivots in response to COVID-19 are one of our special interests. This article explores the “9 bloody brilliant ways businesses are navigating meat prices”

I found this article about how Company Builders help startups and entrepreneurs in Latin America, where the fundraising and investor environment is more challenging, valuable given our interest in economic development and revitalization in that region.

The best of them all was an article about the 5 reasons that millennials are embracing solopreneurship – the digital revolution, flexibility, ethics, money money money, and the new options for traditional benefits.


Build Trust

Consumers are nervous. Here’s the safety checklist they want to see.

Building on my last post, this article from explores those issues we raised – control of personal space and trust – and how communities, cities and businesses can use them to their benefit for economic recovery and growth.

Consumers Are Nervous. Here's the Safety Checklist They Want to See


As companies begin to reopen, customers want to know what measures your business is taking for health and safety. Having the standards they expect–and communicating them effectively–could be the deciding factor in whether people come and spend.

Additionally, the article includes a list of new additions that Yelp has added for businesses. The crowd-sourced review app is rolling out new features that help businesses tell customers what to expect at their locations, based on third-party research and research conducted by the company on factors that are most important to users.

Businesses can log into Yelp and update their procedures.

Read more…


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It’s Tuesday, June 16, 2020. In the news today we learned that retail sales were up 17.7% in May compared to April, and only down 6.1% from May 2019. This increase was driven by a 44.1% month to month rise in motor vehicle spending, but non-auto and food sales still beat expectations, including strong gains from apparel and furniture, with clothing store sales rising 188% and furniture 90% from April. 

We also learned that U.S. industrial production increased 1.4% in May, and home builder’s confidence also returned to positive territory in June.

While restaurant and bar sales increased 30% from April, they were still off by 40% year over year. Local governments are getting more active with authorization for restaurants to use sidewalks, parking spaces and even traffic lanes, so expect additional, albeit slow increases to continue as interior occupancy levels are allowed to increase from 25 to 50%. Expect hotel sales to fare even worse, even though today’s report does not track travel or health care spending. 

May is also where unemployment dropped to 13.3% from 14.7% in April, and employers added 2.5 million jobs to payrolls. 

May’s retail sales increase followed three straight months of declining retail sales, and offered a fresh sign that the worst of the economic shock from the pandemic likely occurred in late March and April. 

Consumer spending is the main driver of the U.S. economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of economic output, and retail sales account for about a quarter of all consumer spending. 

Government assistance has provided a boost especially for workers who remained employed, especially since the options on where to spend money were limited by the lockdown. This drove spending especially on hard goods at the house – sales at home improvement stores, car dealerships, and furniture stores especially. Home fitness equipment also saw a surge.

The purchasing power that exists is directed largely at home based activities, entertainment and comfort.

It is still unclear what shape the recovery will take. While one or two months of positive economic news does not make a trend, and there are many workers still unemployed and businesses shut down that will never reopen, it is important for cities to understand what all of this means for them as the lockdown continues to ease.

There is a lot of pent up demand right now. Going forward, many consumers will want to venture out and begin to resocialize but will be very aware of their surroundings and look to maintain control of their personal space. They will look for opportunities to play and stay local, near their homes, where they will have a stronger sense of trust in their surroundings, neighbors, and favorite businesses.

The desire to maintain control of their space will be a benefit for urban revitalization, especially in places with public parks and gathering spaces where there is plenty of room for social distancing and easy opportunities to avoid, or leave crowds. This will be more of a problem for enclosed malls, at least in the near term. Cities should work with their business community to take advantage of the situation and capitalize on the challenges facing traditional malls at the moment and draw customers back downtown.

Local businesses are hungry for customers to return, and many will begin to offer the value that consumers seek, which will help counter the ‘wal mart and dollar store’ effect that has such a negative impact on small businesses. The hyper-local trend by consumers in the near future, especially those that remained employed and have seen an increase in purchasing power, will benefit downtown areas and small businesses that understand it and work to grow their share, hopefully building a long term customer base through trust, credibility and customer service.

The key will be value in what both the private and public sectors offer to their customers. Leave the luxury indulgences to other places and continue to provide the thing that online retail and manufactured, inauthentic shopping centers cannot provide: quality experience in a quality environment.

Connecting people to their place (community) has never been more important, and the lesson that we always teach our clients about is to focus on the three things that strengthen that connection: Aesthetics, Activities, and Openness. The communities that double down on these three items, in a Post-COVID context, will likely prosper and recover much better when compared to those that don’t.

This will create an environment of growth as new businesses and entrepreneurs seek out those places and markets that have adjusted and built trust and credibility with their customers and residents. Economic downturns are the best time to start a new business or entrepreneurial venture. In addition, many unemployed people will decide that launching a new business is better than an endless job search and reloading the state unemployment website. So remember, this is the time that new ideas and products get launched, and those entrepreneurs are watching you.

BusinessFlare Approach Entrepreneurship Small Business

Be an Island

Forget the Moat and Make Your Startup a Tropical Island.

Forget the Moat and Make Your Startup a Tropical Island

Good article from Interesting because this approach can work not only for startups, but will also fit into the BusinessFlare Approach to Economic Development and help guide cities and communities.

There are four ways for a business to become an island, according to the author.

1-Aim to Please. Focus on serving their customers. This is as relevant, if not more so, to local governments, especially ones that are looking to attract new businesses, workers, and residents. This is where most local governments need to focus since one of the most consistent complaints from consituents (customers) is that cities have poor customer service.

2-Don’t Copy. Move Beyond. Businesses should not replicate what others are doing. Get inspired, then use your strengths to go beyond. This is a good economic development lesson, because cities can’t replicate the success of another city due to many factors. Your city can get inspired by the San Antonio Riverwalk, but you can’t have it so don’t try. Learn from it, then chart your own authentic path.

3-Build on your Strengths. Every business is unique and should function based on individual strengths and weaknesses. Same for cities. Start with who you are, what you know and who you know.

4-Maximize Value, not Output. Valuable experiences are what a business’s customer craves. Keeping costs down is important, but increasing value is more so. The same applies to city services. Increase the value for the cost and economic growth and quality of life will follow.

Read more…

Entrepreneurship Small Business

Go With Your Gut

Much of decision-making is grounded in historical data, but there’s something just as important to consider when making decisions: your instincts.

How to Trust Your Gut to Make the Right Business Decision

One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein (at least, according the that so very reliable internet): “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.” In my work I spend alot of time crunching numbers and analyzing data, but I don’t let the data drive desicions or plans. There is so much more to it, and what can’t be quantified, especially in revitalization and economic development, is crucial to success.


“For entrepreneurs and startups forging new paths, there may not be enough data to inform the best decision. Historical patterns — the causes and effects of prior decisions, either yours or from companies that inspire you — may not repeat themselves in the same way they did before. This is especially true in the current economic conditions; the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the present and future for both existing companies and entrepreneurs alike. The past may be a poor indicator of what’s to come.”

Read more…


The Price of Fear

Covid-19 Derails Retirement Plans of Older Small-Business Owners

Via the Wall Street Journal…

“Mr. Dreibelbis is at a crossroads like millions of small-business owners who are at or near retirement age. More than 40% of the 30.7 million who own small businesses are 55 and older, and the majority of them have poured their savings into their shops and companies. Many have been hit by coronavirus closures at a time when they were within a year of selling in order to fund their retirement. They have to decide whether to invest more time, energy and money in businesses they have put their hearts into, or cut their losses. At their age, they don’t have the time to start over.”

“What to do next is not just a financial decision, but an emotional one as well. Many began with a dream and spent decades fulfilling it, raising children along the way, some of whom joined them at the counter or warehouse. They and their business are often a part of the local community and provide jobs and gathering spots for neighbors. Closing that chapter means beginning another one that many associate with their last.”

Read more…