10 Jokes Every Small Business Owner Will Identify With

  • Nothing ruins a Friday more than an understanding that today is Tuesday.
  • Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
  • The human brain is a wonderful thing. It starts working the moment you are born, and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.
  • I get plenty of exercise — jumping to conclusions, pushing my luck, and dodging deadlines.
  • If every day is a gift, I’d like a receipt for Monday. I want to exchange it for another Friday.
  • I’ve started a small business building boats in my attic. Sails are going through the roof!
  • A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
  • ‘You all worked really hard this year, I’m giving you all a check for $2,000. If you work the same next year, I’ll sign them’.
  • Why do banks have drive thru windows?
    So the cars can meet their real owners.
  • The proper way to use a stress ball is to throw it at the last person to upset you.

 

What is business agility and why is it important in starting and growing a business? Veteran SBDC Business Advisors weigh in on how to know if your company is agile and what to do if you want to build more agility into your business operations.

  Running on empty and feeling like you could use some fresh ideas to revitalize your business in 2021? Adding a couple inspirational and informative business podcasts to your personal routine may be the ticket to renewed enthusiasm. We have cross-referenced five “Best Of” lists to reveal 10 popular podcasts that consistently make the cut. […]

Business advisor Don Crawford talks about taking an inventory of your business sales tools to create a proven and repeatable selling process.

 

There is no shortage of advice on how to fit social media marketing into the busy schedule of a small business owner. Often it is difficult to carve out time to post, much less keep up with trends and skills needed to be effective. The good news is that successful social media automation just takes a little planning and a commitment to keeping it on your to-do list in order to keep your social media channels working for you.

START BY REMINDING YOURSELF OF THESE IMPORTANT PARAMETERS

What you are trying to accomplish? A clear objective will help crafting your content go a lot faster. Some common social media objectives are:

  • Brand building to increase name recognition and associate it with your product.
  • Attracting new customers by driving people to social sites or website.
  • Educating about a product, service or industry.
  • Supporting sales by answering customer questions and showing them how to use your products or services.
  • Leveraging customer loyalty by giving them a place to talk about their experiences and encourage others to purchase from you.

Who you are talking to? Knowing who you are talking to on social media can help you avoid wasting time on content they don’t care about.

  • What’s their point of view? What do they care about, what do they do? What problem can your product or service solve for them?
  • Consider influencers, buyers and end users. Who is making recommendations and sharing content with your current or potential customers?
  • Know where your audience engages on social media. Compare social site demographics with target market demographics to determine the best channels to reach your target market.

CREATE CONTENT “POCKETS”

Develop categories of hot topics, frequently asked questions, & key messaging you want to convey.  What kinds of things do your customers want to know about you, your staff, your products, services, and related subjects? Make a list. These will act as prompts for content creation.

Use and reuse what you have. Develop an eye for aspects of your daily routine that could be converted to social media posts. You don’t need to post them immediately, just create a way to save the ideas for later.

Use Facebook Business Page News Feed, hashtags, curation sites, and Google Alerts to collect content. Using the categories you’ve created, spend a little time researching applicable social accounts and hashtags to follow that will yield good shareable content.

  • Like possible content pages as your Business Page INSTRUCTIONS
  • View your business page news feed by adding “/news_feed” to the end of your Business page URL. EXAMPLE: https://www.facebook.com/ValleySBDC/news_feed
  • Follow hashtags on Twitter and Instagram for ideas.
  • Find a content curation site you like. Here’s a list of some of the best, many are free.
  • Set up Google Alerts for key topics.
  • Smartphone apps and browser buttons let you save or post content on the go rather than searching for it later.

 

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER.

Include social media content creation and scheduling on your work calendar like other tasks, using shortcuts wherever possible.

  • Don’t post separately in multiple places. Choose a content scheduler that suits your needs (free or paid). This article showcases 15 of the best.
  • Review your content categories and items you’ve saved, then organize them for posting. Write lead-ins that apply to your business for each item you want to use, paying attention to character requirements and image sizing.
  • Write any “sales” related content that needs to be included like new products, special deals, or upcoming events.
  • Make use of services like canva.com to make sizing and graphics for different types of posts easier.
  • Organize and enter content into the scheduler. This becomes your content calendar and dashboard for monitoring all things related to social media.

Measure success regularly. View your social channel analytics periodically to see what posts are working best and adjust your content accordingly.

Need a little more help in developing your own social media routine? Watch the Valley SBDC Events & Workshops page for upcoming trainings you can use.

Whether you’re a seasoned small business owner looking to increase sales by adding an online store or a newbie just starting your business, having an ecommerce option for customers is more important than ever. Even though building a web store for customers is a no-brainer, sorting out the options is more like a brain cramp! Because getting an online store up and running can be such a big commitment of time and money, and choosing a platform prematurely can be a difficult hurdle to overcome later, it’s especially important to understand the terminology, differences between platforms, and perhaps most importantly, your operational capacities for adding ecommerce.

FIRST THINGS FIRST – Know the Terms

What’s the difference between an ecommerce platform and an online marketplace? An online marketplace has multiple sellers like eBay, Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy. An ecommerce platform is software that allows one seller to create and operate their own online store.

Do I need one or the other to sell online? The short answer is yes. The only other options to using a marketplace or ecommerce software are to build from scratch (expensive) or use a plug-in to your website (severe limitations).

Which is best for my business? This is where understanding your business capabilities comes in. In brief, online marketplaces generally have more traffic, provide some marketing and customer service support, and offer simplified store creation. They do not assist with inventory management, charge a commission, and inherently create more competition among sellers. On ecommerce platforms, there is inventory support, but the seller is responsible for a more complex store set-up, attracting traffic, generating leads/sales, and customer service support. Fees only apply to hosting/maintain the site or special added features.

CONSIDERATIONS – What does your business need?

Revisit what you sell, how you source it, and who your audience is. If you have been or will be operating a brick and mortar retail store, look again at your products, supply chain, and customer profiles.

  • Which of your products lend themselves well to online sales? Is your unique selling proposition the same instore/online? How do you know that?
  • Do you have enough profit margin in those products to add the expense of set-up, listing, managing, packing, shipping, and providing customer service required for online selling?
  • Who are your potential online customers, where do they shop, and what are their expectations?
  • Is your brick and mortar store name right for your online store? If it does not make what you are selling online immediately apparent, you may want to explore an alternative domain name for your ecommerce store.

Take a hard look at your technical capabilities, staffing, equipment, and space.

  • Is the technical side of listing and promoting products online a challenge for you?
  • How strong is your existing marketing plan? Do you have a robust social media presence and decent website traffic? Do you have ideas for generating online traffic and sales?
  • Do you have or can you hire the staff or help you needed to manage the tasks of online selling?
  • Do you have the right equipment/systems for great photographs, inventory management, and easy packing/shipping?
  • Where will you do these extra tasks?

Make a budget for costs associated with adding ecommerce.

  • Figure the costs of changes required to add online shopping to your existing operation.
  • Based on your reexamination, decide what your goals and expectations for your e-commerce effort should be.

WHEN TO CHOOSE A MARKETPLACE OPTION

  • You don’t have many different items to sell online and can manage inventory on your own.
  • You are limited in time, expertise, or the ability to hire help, but want to make some products immediately available online.
  • You don’t want to invest in ramping up your online marketing effort right away.
  • You’re willing and have enough profit margin to pay a commission.
  • You understand and have a plan for maximizing your use of the marketplace platform.

Top Marketplace Sites

We looked at current comparisons/ratings of the top marketplace selling platforms, and the following were consistently ranked tops for fast-startup, established programs, and large customer bases.

Amazon
EBay
Etsy
Walmart Marketplace
Facebook Shops

Check the detailed reviews of marketplace sites below for more information.

                                               WHEN TO CHOOSE ECOMMERCE

  • You have a lot of different items to sell online and would benefit from inventory assistance.
  • You have a strong marketing plan and web presence that will transition well online.
  • You can create or can hire someone to create an online store that fits your brand.
  • Your business has the capacity, space, and time to integrate online selling into your operations.

Choosing an Ecommerce Platform  

If you’ve decided ecommerce is for you, it’s time to choose a platform for putting it all together. Fortunately, there are some great ways to break into ecommerce that will get you up and running in no time. When looking at the various options, be sure to think about the following (besides cost):

  • Is it easy to use and have adequate support features?
  • Are there design options to complement your brand?
  • Does it have the integrations you want such as payment options, social selling capabilities, or apps?
  • Is it scalable? How many products can be listed?
  • Are there Search Engine Optimization and customizable URL features?

We looked at four different comprehensive independent reviews of multiple ecommerce platforms and “compared the comparisons.” Given that this decision is always something very personal to your business, it would be worth digging through the articles provided below to learn more for yourself.

If that’s more than you want to tackle and want to just investigate the top performers of 2020, the consensus of the experts seems to be that these four platforms (in no particular order) offer the absolute best tools for launching an online store.

Shopify

BigCommerce

Wix

WooCommerce

Have questions? Schedule a session with one of our business advisors to discuss what’s right for your business.

 

RESOURCES

Marketplaces

The Best 20 Online Marketplace Options for Selling Products in 2020

What are the Top Online Marketplaces?

The World’s Top Online Marketplaces

Selling on Online Marketplaces: Best Platforms for Selling Your Products

Ecommerce Platforms

10 Best Ecommerce Platforms Compared & Rated 2020

Ultimate List of Ecommerce Tools for 2020

8 Best Ecommerce Platforms | Build Your Store Today

The Best Ecommerce Platforms for 2020

 

  Looking to take your ecommerce global? Take this webinar. Learn how to make your ecommerce strategy a gateway to global markets. Discover simple and incremental ways you can start selling online and go global by attending The Fundamentals of International eCommerce webinar on March 11 at 2PM. Register HERE. Ready to get started? Apply […]

Re-opening Small Business: What Customers Want

Harrisonburg-Rockingham, Virginia

From April 23 to May 3, 2020, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce distributed a “Customer Feedback Survey on Businesses Reopening” in advance of restrictions on small businesses and mass gatherings lifting in a phased approach in Virginia. This survey intended to learn how area customers feel about a variety of topics related to public health and what influences the decisions they make about the places they go.

The anonymous survey was shared with residents in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County by the COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce members. The team received feedback from 1,677 survey respondents. The results are being shared with Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County small businesses in order to prepare them for welcoming customers back this spring in a way that promotes public health and safety,

“It is clear from the survey responses that people very much want to feel like businesses are making the health of their employees and customers a priority and will continuing following multiple sanitary protocols for quite some time,” says Andrea Dono, executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. “Regardless of when restrictions will be lifted, customers made it known that they will still have concerns about protecting themselves and trusting that a space is safe. The success of businesses will hinge on their ability to respond to those concerns and build their confidence in coming back.”

COVID-19 Business Assistance Taskforce Harrisonburg-Rockingham Business Support Taskforce members include representatives from the City of Harrisonburg Economic Development; Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism; the Shenandoah Valley Partnership; the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SVSBDC); Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance; the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce; the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council; and JMU’s Professional and Continuing Education.

Survey Key Takeaways:

  • Customers want businesses to make public health a priority and they want them to continue taking precautions that help keep employees and customers safe.
  • Customers want precautions to be posted and shared so they know in advance which precautions are being taken.
  • Many people do not expect to go back to normal routines immediately following stay-at-home order being lifted, and may take a few months or longer to resume normal shopping, dining, and entertainment activity. They expect to see extra precautions being taken for a few months or longer as well.
  • Seeing staff wear masks was more important to respondents than gloves, which elicited mixed responses due to concerns about improper usage.
  • People wish to touch as few common surfaces as possible.
  • The number of people already inside establishments will impact some customers’ desire to enter as well.
  • Confidence in patronizing businesses seems to come from knowing what the businesses are doing to protect people in their establishments as well as knowing that multiple strategies are being used.
  • Making purchases online and curbside pickup have become very popular options that many wish to see continued.
  • While responses varied according to type of business, for the most part, many people will be slower to venture inside businesses immediately following the lifting of the order.
  • Large, indoor events, concerts, conferences, and tradeshows are activities that people wish to avoid in the coming months.
  • People seem slightly more comfortable attending large, outdoor events
  • Buffet or self-service food set ups will make many people uncomfortable for quite some time.
  • Restaurants: Most people stated they would wait a month, two months, or more before dining in (@54%) while 24% said they are ready now and 19% didn’t know or weren’t comfortable with the idea.
  • Retailers: 33% of respondents said they are ready to shop in stores. But, nearly half of the group surveyed indicated they would wait either one month or two months or more before visiting shops and boutiques.
  • Museums, galleries, yoga studios, gyms and fitness centers, and hotels: Most people indicated they would wait 2 months or longer to visit these places.
  • Religious Institutions: 44% of those who attend religious service would wait either one month or two or more months to rejoin in-person religious services. About 38% of those who attend religious services indicated they would be comfortable attending service in-person immediately following the lifting of the stay-at-home order.

How could businesses respond?

  • Follow industry-specific guidelines on re-opening businesses and which precautions to take as they become available.
  • Place automatic hand sanitizer dispensers inside the business.
  • Post signs explaining precautions outside the door and inside the establishment, as well as post online and on social media pages. Ensure all staff are following what is posted.
  • Continue requiring staff to wear masks, including “back-of-the-house” employees.
  • Continue using e-commerce systems and implement e-commerce if you don’t have systems in place.
  • Continue offering curbside pick up and delivery options.
  • Limit the number of patrons inside establishments.
  • Explore “touchless” and no- to low-contact systems for your business, which may include disposable paper menus or posted chalk board menus in restaurants, touchless payment options, door handles that can be operated by foot, and other strategies.
  • Frequently disinfect surfaces, handles, credit card machines, etc.
  • Find alternatives to self-serve food and buffets.
  • Prepare to accommodate a smaller number of patrons or crowds inside establishments while the region continues to flatten the curve. Take reservations or appointments.
  • Use your social media and e-newsletter list to engage your own patrons and ask for feedback on your plans. Many respondents used open answers to say they want to support small businesses as much as they can. Ask them what you specifically can do to get them back.
  • If you made changes during the pandemic that achieved a favorable response, consider continuing those practices or operations (social media sales, videos, family-style meals, etc., video or social media engagement).

The following details share more information and specific responses to each survey question:

1. Which of the following factors do you feel impacts your level of comfort regarding which businesses you would go into? (Select all that apply)

    1. 84% said employees disinfecting surfaces
    2. 67.7% said employees wearing facemasks
    3. 67.7% said how many customers are already inside the business
    4. 54.4% said plexiglass barriers where appropriate
    5. 51.1% said type type of business (bank vs. yoga studio vs. restaurant)
    6. 50.6% said posted practices aimed at preventing the spread of the virus
    7. 46.4% said confidence in the business owner
    8. 36.2% said “foot” door openers
    9. 33.8% said employees wearing gloves
    10. 32.3% said the size of the business
    11. ~<10% said other, none of these, or gave their own responses

2. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, how long will you wait before feeling comfortable going into the following places?

Restaurants: The majority of respondents indicated that they would “wait a month or so,” or will wait “2 months or more” before patronizing dine-in restaurants (about 32.8% and 21.8%, respectively). 23.8% said they would feel comfortable dining-in immediately following the lift of the stay-at-home order. 19.4% of respondents indicated they “didn’t know” when they would feel comfortable, or characterized themselves as generally uncomfortable patronizing dine-in restaurants.

For buffet style restaurants and self-service food stations, in particular, 56.5% of respondents indicated they would be uncomfortable with the idea of buffet style dining, or would not be comfortable dining from a buffet for 2 months or more.

Retail: In contrast, those surveyed seem slightly more comfortable with the idea of patronizing retail locations immediately following the conclusion of the stay-at-home order (32.6%). Still, nearly half of the group surveyed indicated they would wait either one month or two months or more before visiting shops and boutiques.

Museums, galleries, yoga studios, gyms and fitness centers, and hotels: Survey takers indicated they would wait longer to visit these places. The most common response across these categories was “2 months or longer.”

Religious Institutions: 44% of those who attend religious service would wait either one month or two or more months to rejoin in-person religious services. About 38% of those who attend religious services indicated they would be comfortable attending service in-person immediately following the lifting of the stay-at-home order.

3. Would you prefer to see curbside options continue?

More than half of the respondents want to use curbside pickup until the pandemic is over and almost 38% would be interested in permanent curbside pickup.

4. Do the following public health practices make you feel MORE COMFORTABLE or LESS COMFORTABLE patronizing a business?

More people feel more comfortable when businesses take certain precautions. “Hand sanitizer dispensers for customers” was the most popular precaution, followed by “employees wearing masks,” “plexiglass barriers,” and posted prevention practices. Customer attitudes towards employees wearing gloves are a bit more complicated; of those who responded, 59% indicated that they either feel uncomfortable or have a neutral response to employees wearing gloves.

5. Are you willing to pay more for goods & services in a business that implements increased safety precautions?

It is not definitive whether customers would pay more for goods and services. At least 43.3% said they would be willing to pay more, while approximately 35% may be willing to pay more. About 20% of survey takers indicated that they would not tolerate higher prices. Open answers also indicated that public safety shouldn’t be turned into a commodity or become something that only some people can afford.

6 & 7: Are you comfortable patronizing restaurants with fewer tables or limits on the number of dine-in customers? Are you more comfortable going into shops and other non-restaurant businesses that limit the number of patrons inside at one time?

The majority of survey respondents indicated that they are (or would be) comfortable dining at restaurants with fewer tables/fewer customers seated (58.2%), while approx 67% would feel comfortable in shops/retail spaces in which the number of patrons allowed inside at one time is limited.

8. Would you like to see more “touch-free” payment options?

75% of those surveyed are interested in using “touch-free” payment options.

9. While adhering to appropriate social distancing guidelines (however they might evolve), how comfortable might you be in the coming months with the following:

Overwhelmingly, survey takers are not comfortable attending large indoor events, concerts, or conferences in the coming months.

An exception is found in reactions towards attending indoor religious services: 741 of 1,349 applicable respondents indicated they would be very comfortable or somewhat comfortable attending religious services. 342 people said they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending services, while 50 people didn’t know.

Perceptions towards large, outdoor events are harder to gauge; 23% are comfortable attending events; 31% are somewhat comfortable, 13% are neutral, while approximately 28% are uncomfortable attending outdoor events.

Attitudes are also mixed when it comes to smaller gatherings, like yoga classes, workshops, and trainings. 62% say they are either very comfortable, somewhat comfortable or neutral in their attitudes towards these smaller gatherings. Just over 25% say they’d be uncomfortable participating.

10. Think about your ONLINE shopping habits pre-COVID-19. After social distancing restrictions are lifted, how frequently do you expect to shop online with the following businesses:

Survey takers indicate they plan to continue shopping online, even following the conclusion of social distancing guidelines. 832 respondents anticipate that they will shop online “frequently,” and 630 will “occasionally.”

590 respondents anticipate they will frequently shop with locally owned retailers with e-commerce and pickup/delivery options; 733 anticipate they will occasionally shop locally.

700 respondents anticipate they will frequently dine with restaurants that offer online ordering and pickup or delivery. Almost the same amount, 684, indicated they would use e-commerce occasionally.

Across all categories above, only 13% said they rarely or never shop/purchase online.

11. Since COVID-19, have there been any safety precautions or business operations that have made you feel UNCOMFORTABLE? 972 responses.

Survey participants are generally uncomfortable when businesses do not follow CDC/VDH recommendations, particularly misuse of gloves. Other practices customers surveyed were uncomfortable with: customers and/or staff not wearing facemasks, having to sign receipts during touchless payment, too many people in indoor spaces/lack of social distancing, other customers’ behaviors.

We’ve pulled a few sample responses below:

“We have ordered food out a decent amount of times, but we have always been a little nervous about how food was being handled.”

“Gloves, as someone who does biological wet work I see most people and employees using gloves improperly, which actually increases the spread due to cross contamination. Instead of trusting that gloves are being used as they are supposed to I’d rather see hand sanitizer or soap and water used.”

“I feel like people are doing their best. We did get take out one night and the person bringing it to the car had a mask but no gloves. Part of cubside is you don’t see what protocols are happening inside, so maybe they were sanitizing hands between each car. Some of it is simply public perception where the public never cared before.”

“all workers should wear [facemasks] (properly, provided by the employer as safety equipment, and cleaned by the employer)”

“Inability to pass people in stores with 6 feet of distance. Some aisles are just too small and it doesn’t matter that they are limiting number of people when space is still an issue.”

“The precautions that are “over-the-top” and make you feel like you’re walking into a hospital is what makes me most uncomfortable.  It still needs to feel like a store/restaurant establishment so there can be “too much” precaution taken in my opinion.  Also any establishments requiring patrons to wear a mask or gloves before entering is not ok with me.”

“Businesses not outlining what to do over the phone when I order. PLEASE TELL ME what you expect of me when I pick up.”

“Seeing photos online where employees are not socially distancing inside the business”

“Having to sign credit card slip after touch less transaction”

“Not the businesses themselves, just other people in the businesses who do not-so-smart stuff.”

12. Since COVID-19, have there been any safety precautions or business operations that have made you feel COMFORTABLE?

Out of the 1,077 responses, the most common were: employees wearing masks, hand sanitizer for customers, plexi-glass barriers, employees visibly cleaning, curbside pick up, and paying ahead/online.

13. As a consumer, we appreciate your loyalty to local businesses. Please share with us any other ideas and suggestions that you feel would make your shopping/dining/service experiences more comfortable as we all navigate our new normal.

There were 524 responses that mirrored the overall survey. It is worth noting there is no one single sentiment and for every comment that said businesses should open there was an opposing comment that said it was too soon to reopen. We’ve pulled a few sample responses below.

“I appreciate when businesses share what they’re doing, they’re empathetic to people being weary while still appreciative of peoples business.”

“I live in Massanutten, along with 1000s of others who patronize Harrisonburg establishments, and NO ONE delivers out here (except for Romanos and Dominos). Many of us feel there’s a market that’s being missed. Really wish that Harrisonburg restaurants would reconsider.”

“To promote saving local businesses, but not promote it over practical safety measures either, as hard as that may be to see the businesses suffer. Maybe one central hub can safely bag up and curbside deliver to-go food for all the downtown restaurants so the measures are consistent and dependable, kind of like the farmers market where you can preorder and there is a time to drive through and pick up from multiple vendors and everyone it taking the utmost precautions. Thank you for doing this survey!!!!”

“I’ve found it very helpful when businesses post pictures or even videos on their social media of whatever COVID abatement practices they’re employing and how to properly navigate them…having a heads up as to what’s in store when customers arrive in the store is helpful to successfully navigate whatever system is in place. “

“The following would be my short list:

-Sneeze guards where appropriate

-Doors that can be opened with feet

-Requirement of masks when out in public – This is a no-brainer. All establishments should have their employees wearing masks when they re-open. Patrons should be required to wear masks as well.

-Clearly displayed sanitizing protocols.

-Strong use of curbside pick-up or in-house delivery services. The third party delivery services have not proven to be following adequate sanitizing or safety protocols.

-I feel that any business using any sort of delivery service, in-house or third party, should have to keep meticulous records of each transaction. This would allow for very easy contact tracing. Things to enter into a “delivery database” would be date, time, identity of cook/chef, delivery personnel.”

“No suggestions, just want to iterate that everyone in my house loves our small local businesses. We were shopping local in 2019 and will be shopping local in 2020, 2021, and on. We will continue to purchase things online + use curbside pick up. That’s a promise. “

“Connect with patrons and provide reassurance when possible. People are missing each other but are afraid of each other. If this can be addressed, it will be powerful. “

“Temp check all employees before work”

“If workers went the extra half mile to make their cleaning/precautions visible to the customer, i.e. watching the ABC employee sanitize the pen after I handed it back made me walk out thinking “this is a place I trust” whereas other stores you don’t  “see” the cleaning (which isn’t a critique as long as the cleaning is happening) but for me it’s a mental shortcut to think “I saw them cleaning, it must be clean, I’m comfortable returning there” whereas I do not plan on returning to the previously mentioned business with the improper glove wearing. “

“Proving hand sanitizer for customers and employees and accessible and convenient locations, use of scheduling appointments to provide a way for customers to work shopping/dinning/etc into their schedule- similar to how SPCA limits number of appointments per hour and you have to pre-register online to get a spot. Knowing that employees are taken care of and given paid time off when sick so as not to come into work and spread it to customers because they still need to make money and pay bills. I would be more willing to shop at places I know value their employees like that.”

“Would love to see some of the safety measures and shopping options remain in place until we are somewhat confident that we won’t experience a second surge of this virus. I really appreciate all the measures that local businesses have taken to continue serving the public in a safe manner! I’d also like to see local government promote the fact that supporting local business ALL THE TIME leads to a strong local economy that helps our entire community weather storms like the one we are experiencing now. Thanks for reading! “

“Gift cards! I’d love to have a central place to purchase gift cards to help restaurants get cash now. Also most apps aren’t accepting gift cards now so please add that feature.”

“It is nice when businesses with curbside service have their phone numbers posted in a way it’s easily seen from the curb.”

“The ability to have someone bring out my purchase will absolutely increase local shopping versus online/Amazon/WalMart. I really want to use local/small businesses. If I have a child or dog in the car, it’s not so easy to run in and grab an item. In determining who has the best price, I factor in the customer service. It’s not only about the cash.”

“I wish restaurants would offer more family package meals, so stressful picking stuff for everyone for a big family.”

“I like to see businesses supporting their workers — provide them masks, hand sanitizer, time on the clock to clean and disinfect, etc;  AND increase the pay or working hours for shelf stockers and cleaning staff. Tell me how much of my dollar is going into those people’s pockets and I’ll gladly pay more for your goods or services, patronize your store instead of another.”

“Continuing the combination of curb-side pickup and contactless payment is crucial. We also appreciate when businesses use social media to communicate their actions, new/evolving processes, and options available – this inspires confidence and trust.”

“Improved and easier online checkout process for businesses that offer curbside pickup or delivery. Some are great but others are clunky and difficult to use, and I have been nervous about web security regarding payments with a few. More outdoor dining options at restaurants when weather is nice. Sadly, for the time being, eliminate option for bringing your own cup/container/growler to coffee shops, breweries, etc to reduce cross contamination potential. Offer training and some sort of safety audit for small businesses looking to adapt to this new normal.”

# #  #

Recovery Resources for Small Business This checklist is meant to help guide you through those important questions as you look to reimagine your business and find success in the post-crisis world. Wherever your business may be currently, we suggest starting at the very beginning of the checklist and working your way through.

For millions of people, their biggest hobbies also double as a source of income. For example, some may buy and sell collectible coins, while others take their handmade crafts to trade shows. If you make an income from your hobby, however, you still must report this on your tax return. Much like a business, there are special rules and limits for tax deductions that you can claim for your hobby.

This is why the IRS Small Business blog created an easy list of ‘Five Basic Tax Tips about Hobbies

1. Determine whether it is a business or a hobby

The rules for how you report income and expenses will depend on whether your income activity is actually a hobby or a business. There are nine factors to consider when determining the difference, including whether you make a profit, how often you engage in the hobby for sport or recreation, etc. These are the full 9 factors to consider.

2. Allow hobby deductions

While there are some limitations, you should be able to deduct some ordinary and necessary hobby expenses. An ordinary expense refers to expenses that are expected for that activity, while a necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the activity, but may not be as common.

e Hobby Show_Bruno Cordioli

e Hobby Show_Bruno Cordioli

3. Limits on hobby expenses

Generally, you can only deduct hobby expenses up to the amount of hobby income. If your expenses are more than your income, that is considered a loss from the activity. You cannot deduct the loss from your other income.

4. How to deduct hobby expenses

It is necessary to itemize any deductions on your tax return in order to deduct hobby expenses. Your expenses may fall into one of three types of deductions, with special rules applying to each. See Publication 535, Section A for the rules about how you claim them for each.

5. Use IRS Free File

While hobby rules can be complex, IRS Free File can make filing your tax return easier and available free until October 15th. If your hobby makes %58,000 or less, you can use this brand-name tax software. If  you earn more, you can use Free Fire Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms.