A Hopeful New Year’s Message

By at 1 January, 2021, 12:22 pm

A Hopeful New Year’s Message
“…hope is the companion of power”

For most small business owners and entrepreneurs, the year has been chaotic, brutal and exhausting. But amid the never-ending challenges spawned by COVID-19, many entrepreneurs discovered new opportunities, new ways to do business, and new strengths they did not know they had.

My daily conversations with small business owners (where I learned about their ongoing “pivots” and dealing with the daily grind) always provided inspiration and energy for my SBE Council work – particularly my advocacy role, which was 24/7 this past year. It’s what I love most about my job, and I am grateful and honored that I get to do what I do on behalf of the countless heroic small business owners who are keeping it together for local economies and millions of workers.

We all have to hope 2021 will be better. Much better.

As I was looking through celebrated quotes to close out 2020 and start the New Year afresh, the words of Samuel Smiles caught my attention:

“Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.”

As noted in this week’s Small Business Insider content below, there are millions of Americans who have hope about the future. It is being expressed by their intention to launch a business in 2021. In fact, the intention to start a business – as conveyed by the massive number of people who have applied for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) – is running well above 2019. Isn’t that hopeful and exciting news?

While I will be sharing SBE Council’s agenda in the near future, let there be no doubt that our work will be centered on advancing policy and solutions that will help these new entrepreneurs succeed. Given the massive jobs and business-entity hole our economy is currently facing, the U.S. is going to need many successful small businesses in order to return to strong growth. Policies need to fuel and support small businesses and entrepreneurs, not burden them with new costs or red tape.

So, here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021!

I am definitely looking forward to abundant miracles and bright days ahead!


Karen Kerrigan
President & CEO, SBE Council

Forbes: Small Town Rebounds with Big City Amenities

Over the past 8-plus years, SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan has chronicled the efforts of a group of entrepreneurs – led by SBE Council member Jason Duff (who has testified before Congress twice on behalf of SBE Council and met with White House officials on multiple occasions) – that have been working tirelessly to rejuvenate, remake and restore Bellefontaine, Ohio.

Karen has visited this small-town gem several times, witnessing the steady progress of an amazing team effort led by Jason. Bellefontaine can serve as a model for small towns and Main Streets everywhere and can look to the Small Nation team for inspiration and a path to renewal.

As noted in a Forbes article about Bellefontaine’s restoration:

Ten years ago, Bellefontaine, Ohio was struggling. The boom of a century ago was a very distant memory as 70 to 80% of the first floor spaces of downtown buildings stood empty.

The west-central Ohio town of 13,000 has always had a tourist economy generated by nearby Indian Lake, but beside boat and RV rentals, local businesses had decamped for greener pastures. 

Starting in 2011, all that changed: 15 empty or dilapidated buildings were restored, 38 historic buildings were renovated for new business tenants, and 30 new small businesses brought upwards of 200 new jobs to the area. In the past seven years, seven new restaurants have opened, as have 17 new specialty retail stores. 70% of the new business owners are under 40 years old; 80% are women.

Jason Duff, the driver of the Bellefontaine downtown resurgence, said, “I got sick and tired of watching my hometown die, so we did something about it.”

And that they did. Read the story in Forbes here.


Starting a Business in 2021? Valuable Tips and Advice

In a new SBE Council blog post, chief economist Ray Keating writes:

“As we all know, 2020 has been a brutal year in terms pandemic-related deaths, illnesses and economic devastation. That includes, no doubt, millions of closed small businesses.”

However, there are signs that entrepreneurship will be rekindled post-pandemic, and Keating finds some tips for those who are preparing for entrepreneurship or thinking about starting a business in 2021.


Business Intelligence for Entrepreneurs

In this week’s roundup of timely tips and resources for business owners and entrepreneurs, SBE Council president & CEO Karen Kerrigan includes content focused on consumer trends that have stuck or accelerated in 2020, management advice about planning during uncertainty, and sales and marketing ideas to strengthen the bottom line in 2021. Tips and advice are also provided for startups! Highlights are provided below, and you can access the full content here.

6 Ways to Prepare for the Next Round of PPP, Inc.
The refundable loan program aimed at small businesses will be available to both first-time PPP recipients as well as to those who’ve already received a PPP loan but experienced significant revenue losses in 2020. The new law further expands the slate of expenses eligible for forgiveness, and restores the deductibility of PPP expenses, among other things.”


Head, Heart and Hands: 3 Essentials for Startup Success, Bplans.
“Thomas Edison famously said, ‘Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.’ Much has changed since Edison’s day, but sweat equity is still the most effective kind of startup capital.”

6 Lessons Most Entrepreneurs Only Learn on the Street, Startup Professionals.
“These street smarts, if you acquire them early, can save you a lifetime of pain. It pays to build relationships with an advisor or mentor, or work in the real business world for a while, before you strike out on your own journey.”

SCORE WEBINAR: 2021 Hottest Business Markets Trends
January 7, 2021 – 1:00 p.m. ET

We all know 2020 was not a typical year for small businesses, and the factors that impacted us this year will continue to affect us in 2021.

But, while we’re still facing a lot of unknowns, there are some things we do know. And we’ll discuss them in this webinar.

Join this timely webinar, presented by small business expert and best-selling author Rieva Lesonsky, where you’ll learn about the breakthrough small business ideas and industries that are breaking through and reaching consumers. You’ll find out about America’s changing demographics, attitudes, and consumer behaviors, and how your small business can best adapt and address them, such as:

●The industry that’s soaring right now and how small retailers can take advantage

● How restaurants can transform their operations

● Which consumer behaviors have shifted, and how you can reach those customers

● How COVID-19 has created entrepreneurial opportunities

● How to pivot your small business to address changing consumer demands

Whether you’re a startup entrepreneur or have owned your business for years, you’ll want to learn how you can adjust to and take advantage of today’s changing marketplace.

Learn more, or register for free here.

3 Trends Marketers Can Use to Supercharge Demand in 2021, Inc.
Customer expectations have made a permanent shift, with many expecting more convenience, authenticity, and personalization than ever. Marketers have to embrace these needs if we’re going to represent our brands effectively this coming year.”

Creative Ideas for Local Brands to Run Paid Ads in 2021, Small Biz Daily.
“Though organic marketing strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and organic social media strategies work, they take a lot of time to show results. So, if you are looking for a quick boost of traffic and leads for your local business, then paid advertising is something that you should consider.”

5 Simple Tips to Use Video Reviews to Grow Your Business, Small Business Trends.
“Adding simple reviews can increase sales, as 63% of customers are more likely to purchase from a site that has reviews.  Written reviews can help your ecommerce store flourish, especially if your products cost less than $100.”

How to Reinvigorate Your Outreach Approach in 2021, Bplans.
“If your bottom line has been hurt by lost clients and revenue, then you need to double down on an outreach approach. Although tweaking your strategy will take some time, it’s an investment that will enrich your value proposition for potential and even current clients. After all, your offering could be exactly what people need to solve their own pain points. Start landing deals again by adjusting your outreach expectations with these 5 steps.”

How to Develop Better Foresight to Combat Chaos, Bplans.
“Why is foresight such a crucial ability for leadership during turbulent times? Because good leaders know how to cut through the chaos to focus on what’s important. This ability is even more critical during times of disruption like the pandemic because everyone on the team is experiencing high levels of chaos, emotion, and stress. A calm leader who can cut through the noise and provide direction can ease employees’ minds.”

IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2021, Internal Revenue Service.
“The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2021 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.”


SBA Office of Advocacy: The Pulse of Small Business – An Industry Breakdown

According to the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey, the total share of small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 declined from 51% in the first week of the survey to 29.7% the week of November 16th. There are specific industries more impacted by others, and a new SBA Office of Advocacy infographic highlights the sectors and additional data.

SBA Office of Advocacy: PPP and EIDL Loans Had Significant Impact on Small Business Lending Market

In another bit of research, the Office of Advocacy documents how PPP and EIDL loans impacted the small business lending market.

Axios: Covid 19 Has Been a Disaster for Main Streets, What the Future Holds for Their Banks is a Growing Concern

A recent Axios article looks at emerging 2021 issues, specifically the impact of the COVID economy on community banks. Read the full piece here.

Selecting 4 Key Business Lessons from 2020

SBE Council chief economist Ray Keating combed through a long list of articles offering lessons to be learned from 2020. In a blog post, Keating highlights a few key insights and reminders for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Protecting Small Business, Promoting Entrepreneurship

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