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…

COVID-19 Entrepreneurship Small Business

Establish an Entrepreneurial Edge

What happens after the Great Shutdown?

How to Establish an Entrepreneurial Edge After the Great Shutdown


Entrepreneurs are constantly seeking an edge or an advantage. In fact, most entrepreneurs are wired to look at the world from an opportunist’s perspective and are regularly working an angle, an approach, or a way of attacking a business opportunity that others have missed or have left exposed.

Read more…

Entrepreneurship Small Business Starting Over

4 Tips for Starting a Business

Starting a business in an economic downturn.

4 Tips for Starting a Business in an Economic Downturn

From Entrepreneur .com…

Find your niche, give people what they need, ready yourself, and reap the benefits of launching during a recession.

Read more…

Small Business Starting Over

An Entrepreneur’s Checklist

For starting a business at home.

An Entrepreneur's Checklist for Starting a Business at Home


Once you have an idea and a passion, starting a business can feel like a whirlwind. While it might feel like you have to dive in head-first right away, taking a step back to plan and organize can set you up for long term growth.

Before you begin your business journey, here are a few tasks and helpful reminders to check off your list.

Read more…


Orlando and Tampa Make the List

Orlando’s low cost of living and high percentage of tech jobs pushed the metro area into the top spot on a new ranking of best places to work in tech in the nation.

SmartAsset released a report of the best places to work in technology in the U.S. Tampa also made the rankings, coming in at No. 18.

The SmartAsset report analyzed 50 metros in the nation, narrowing the list down to the top 25 based on five criteria: percentage of workforce in tech, average tech salary, ratio of the tech salary to the average salary, percentage of job listings in tech and the cost of living.

According to the report, the Orlando MSA breaks down as follows:

• Workforce in tech: 4.33%

• Average tech salary: $93,300

• Ratio of the tech salary to the average salary: 1.82

• Percentage of job listings in tech: 23.6%

• Annual cost of living: $20,333

BusinessFlare Approach

Governing for Economic Development

Very happy to announce that BusinessFlare® Publishing Group‘s first book, Governing for Economic Development, was released today as an eBook and paperback on Amazon. The audiobook will be out later this month. You can download your copy here!

All too often local governments focus on economic development tactics without a strategy, seemingly throwing things against the wall waiting for something to stick. The BusinessFlare® Approach provides a base of understanding that helps local governments implement strategies and tactics that can improve their local economy and grow their tax base within the limitations of their resources. BusinessFlare is an approach that is based in the evaluation and adoption of strategies and tactics to improve six areas of economic development influence: investment drivers, common business climate themes, community connections, economic development values, opportunities and implementation. The former economic development director for Miami Beach, Kevin S. Crowder’s BusinessFlare Approach is based on one of the most significant local economic development successes of the last thirty years and is presented in a way that is relevant to every community. The book also contains bonus material about craft breweries, markets, and resident recruitment.

Sales from this eBook support the BusinessFlare® Academy, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting micro-entrepreneurship and providing economic development education for local elected officials.