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03/30/20: WBE Tools, Resources, Information and Connections Bulletin March 30 – April 3, 2020

General

  • COVID-19 and Cyber Security
  • Capital One: Small business owners show an incredible amount of courage and grit to run their business every day—and we understand it’s taking every ounce of that strength to problem solve in today’s uncertain time. We want to provide immediate ways to help.
  • Please see a compilation of resources at this link.
  • A licensed psychotherapist and financial wellness advocate for WPO sponsor Prudential offers guidance on managing financial decision-making and maintaining well-being during the unprecedented market turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Leading through uncertain times requires agility, empathy, and transparent communication. This Crisis Survival Toolkit will help you adapt to changing circumstances. We’ll be making additions to this toolkit daily.
  • The Wage and Hour Division, of the US Department of Labor, provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
  • The Wage and Hour Division, of the US Department of Labor prepared a one-pager on Employee Rights which outlines the new guidelines for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the families first coronavirus Response Act.
  • Kaufman & Canoles, Attorneys at Law discusses Inventory and Analyze Insurance Coverage and Relief Solutions Upfront in the latest Business Client Alert.
  • ProjectN95 launched The National Clearinghouse to connect healthcare providers with critical equipment.

Connecticut

  • The COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, under the CT state Department of Economic and Community Development, has a phone line dedicated to providing assistance to small businesses. It can be reached at 860-500-2333. Questions specific to small businesses may also be answered by the Joint Information Center at JIC@ct.gov.
  • Governor Lamont launches the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. This is available for businesses with 100 or fewer employees, has a 0% interest rate and has a 12-month term with a 5-month extension per request.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development – NJDOL and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Employers & Businesses Should Know.
  •  COVID-19 JOBS & HIRING PORTALThe State is building a centralized resource to match talent with opportunities in industries on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.The first crucial step is to gather details on employers’ immediate hiring needs. We’ve built an intake tool for employers to share this information which can be directly accessed here: https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.

    You can find more information on intake process on the State’s COVID-19 Business Information Hub: https://cv.business.nj.gov.

    We’re starting the roll-out of this new tool with critical industries like grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services, and warehousing, but over time we’ll expand to work with all industries that need to tap extra deep into New Jersey’s best-in-class talent pool during this extraordinary time.  New Jersey’s  COVID-19 Business Information Portal

New York

  • The State of New York’s disaster declaration was approved on March 19th, which means that the entire state is eligible for U.S. Small Business Administration working capital loans available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Department of Labor is reminding businesses of its Shared Work Program that can provide an alternative to laying off employees during business downturns by allowing workers to work a reduced work schedule and collect partial unemployment insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. Instead of cutting staff, you’re able to reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group.
  • Many businesses and organizations have expressed a desire to support New York State as it responds to the virus outbreak. Individuals or groups looking to volunteer or contribute to the State’s effort should contact the Governor’s Office at covid19assistance@exec.ny.gov.
  • Empire State Development has set up a web portaland FAQ page for individuals and businesses with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions on this website with all COVID-19 info.
  • New York is taking on coronavirus on all fronts, using digital products, data science, & other tools to ensure we keep New Yorkers safe. If your organization is interested in being a part of the NYS Tech SWAT team.
  • APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM: NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop and NYC Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett announced today that loans are available for small businesses affected by COVID-19. Small businesses have begun applying for relief and can access the application here. The Small Business Continuity Fund offers financial assistance to small businesses in New York City as they deal with various challenges in response to the novel coronavirus.

Maryland

  • Employees are creative protective face shields for hospitals in Maryland
    • I run a call center where employees usually work in an office setting. To support social distancing, I’d like my employees to work remotely, which will require equipment such as reliable headphones and laptops for each employee. If they do not have this equipment, I will need to layoff my staff.
    • I could ask employees to use their personal phones and work remotely, but I do not have the funds to support the cell phone packages. If provided funds to reimburse employees for the increased data usage, my business could avoid layoffs.
    • My employees could work remotely if they had a specific software or computer application, but I cannot afford to purchase. Without this software, I will need to layoff my workforce until we can go back to the office.
    • I need my 8 employees to continue to work on site, but I am concerned about their potential exposure to COVID-19 and cannot afford frequent deep cleaning to help limit potential exposure. If I had funds to support the deep cleaning, it would allow my workers to continue to work and would foster a safer work environment.
    • Due to the impacts of COVID-19, my employees have more down time than usual. If I were able to offer the opportunity for them to take project management training online during this down time, they will increase their skillsets, making them a valuable asset to our company and less likely a candidate for layoff.
      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.
      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program for businesses and non-profits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.
      • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.UPDATE: Governor Hogan announced new COVID-19 business relief programs on March 23. These resources are available through the Department of Commerce and the Department of LaborThe entire state of Maryland has received designation for SBA assistance. Small businesses can apply here.https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-programsMaryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance.

      http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/covidlafund.shtml

      COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – Workforce Development and Adult Learning

      Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Labor have launched the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to the pandemic by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. The award (up to $50,000 per applicant), will be a quick deployable benefit and customizable to the specific needs of your business to minimize the need for layoffs.

      Labor is accepting grant applications from small businesses for awards from now through 30 days after the State of Emergency ends (subject to funding availability).

      How can it help me?

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing remote access (ex. computers, printers, etc.) equipment to allow employees to work remotely from home versus being laid off;

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing software or programs that an employee would need to use from home;

      ✔ Supporting businesses that take advantage of the Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program by supplementing the employee’s income and benefits;

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the costs of cleaning/sanitization services so that small businesses are able to keep employees at work on site, but only if a frequent deep cleaning to prevent exposure occurred;

      ✔ Paying for liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery while under emergency circumstances;

      ✔ Providing funds for training or professional development opportunities for employees to avoid layoffs; and

      ✔ Adopting other creative approaches and strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs in the small business community.

      Examples of how a business may demonstrate the need for layoff aversion funds:

  • Get Started Now!View the One PagerCOVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Policy

    COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Application (Excel)

    Submit your completed application to: LaborCOVID19.layoffaversion@maryland.gov.

    Labor staff will process applications within two business days of receipt. Upon approval and receipt of signed contract, payment will be expedited.

    For More Information…
    Contact the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning.

Virginia

  • Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. The Governor has also outlined these additional measures to ensure the health and safety of all Virginians. Effective at midnight on Tuesday, March 24 certain non-essential businesses must close or have restricted operations.
  • The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive overview of resources developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to ensure your business and your employees have the necessary information to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Washington, DC

  • Mayor Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia are investing $25 million in the COVID-19 Recovery Effort and the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrants Program, which will be housed in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

  • On March 24th, 2020, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed  “Mayor Order 2020-053 Closure of Non-Essential Businesses and Prohibition on Large Gatherings.”  This order defines essential businesses and remains in effect through April 24, 2020.
  • A message from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), Director Elliot J. Tommingo – DC veterans, veteran family members, and their caregivers, I know these are trying and uncertain times.  As veterans, we are used to overcoming hardship, but that shouldn’t discount the new challenges we face as a community.  I am proud of Mayor Bowser and HSEMA’s leadership, the DC VA Medical Center response, and most importantly our first responders and medical professionals risking their own health as our “boots on the ground”.  MOVA’s office remains open at 441 4th St NW, Suite #707N, M-F 9am – 5pm.  We are accepting walk-ins for VetsRideprogram enrollment, computer lab usage, and scheduling appointments for claims, pathways to work, and vocational rehabilitation occurring after April 24th, 2020.  Please give us a call at 202-724-5454 for any questions.
  • Small Business Relief: The Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia are investing $25 million in the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrant Program, which will be housed in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The microgrants will be available to businesses, non-profits, and independent contractors or self-employed individuals. Grants will provide financial support for expenses such as employee wages and benefits, rent, and other operating costs. The program will provide support up to $25,000.

Applications and information on the microgrants program can be found at:

https://coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business.

    • Federal SBA Support: Last week, Mayor Bowser also announced the S. Small Business Administration (SBA) accepted the District of Columbia’s declaration for assistance in the form of economic injury disaster loans following the advent of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and DC businesses can apply. While the SBA directly administers this loan program, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), led by Director Kristi Whitfield, is the liaison with the SBA on behalf of the District of Columbia. More information on SBA loans can be found at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business.
    • Unemployment Benefits Waivers: The Department of Employment Services (DOES) is taking action to allow more workers to file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits during the public health emergency. DOES is in the process of updating statutory eligibility requirements for workers impacted by COVID-19. Updates will include waivers for:
    • the seven-day waiting period to receive benefits
    • the work search requirement for those affected by COVID-19 (included in Council emergency legislation); and
    • additional flexibility with the requirement to be able and available to work.

These waivers will expand coverage and ensure a faster turnaround period for District workers who have become unemployed or partially unemployed, as a result of COVID-19. When implemented, the waivers will remain in effect until the end of the public health emergency.

Based on the increase in call volume and wait times, DOES encourages residents and workers to visit does.dc.gov to review important information with regard to UI benefits and workplace rights. Similarly, claimants are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance benefits online at dcnetworks.org, using a desktop or laptop.

    • For Veterans in the DC Area: If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, call 202-745-8000, option 3, before you visit the medical center. Consider using virtual care options such as telehealth or My HealtheVet Secure Messaging. To minimize risk for Veterans and employees, everyone who enters the DC VAMC campus will be pre-screened for COVID-19. This may lengthen entry times, so please plan accordingly.

The SE DC Community Clinic located on 820 Chesapeake St., will be temporarily closed beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 to protect the health and safety of Veterans co-located on the campus.

Coronavirus can spread not only illness, but stress and anxiety, too. If you’re feeling uncertain or fearful, see these practical steps you can take to improve your well-being. https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/72665/veterans-stressed-coronavirus/.

If you feel you are in crisis, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/ 7 by phone, chat or text.  Visit: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/.

Webinars and Townhalls

  • WPEO Lunch with the Experts: Join WPEO for a Lunch with the Experts webinar each Tuesday. Hear from an expert and submit your questions for a Q&A session as we navigate business challenges during this unprecedented time.
  • WIPP Webinar: The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. COVID-19: Monday March 30, 2:00pm EST presenters Barbara (Barb) Carson, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting at the U.S. Small Business Administration and Courtney Fairchild, President & CEO, Global Services, Inc; Vice Chair, WIPP Board of Directors. COVID-19: Managing Team Dynamics & Morale.
  • Navigating a Disrupted Workforce: A Discussion on Procurement’s Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic Tuesday, March 31 from 2PM – 3:30PM(brought to you by NIGP) Register Today
  • The Corona Virus Impact on Global Supply Chain– What you can do to help mitigate risk for your organization. (brought to you by ASCM, the Association for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Canada – Available on YouTube)
  • Leadership Communication in a Crisis Thursday, April 2 11:00am EST.
  • Navigating Your Business Through Turbulent Times. a special thought leadership webinar to learn how small and midsize business leaders can navigate the current economic climate to stabilize operations, survive a downturn and position your business to take full advantage of a recovery. Thursday April 2, 1:00pm EST.
  • Webinar – Why Remote Work Makes Teams and Leaders Better Thursday, April 9 11:00am EST.

Tools You can Use

  • How to conduct a remote interview  – As a potential employer, you may already be used to conducting remote interviews, but when all your interviews are remote, what are things you should keep in mind to still get the same impact? Find out in this blog.
  • Why and how to measure disengagement right now – Administering an engagement survey is a great way to get the clarity and data needed to help you navigate uncertainty and make the right decisions for your business.
03/23/20: WBE Tools, Resources, Information and Connections Bulletin March 23 – 27, 2020

General

Connecticut

  • SBA assistance: Connecticut Governor Lamont asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to begin offering disaster-relief loans to Connecticut small businesses and non-profits. The SBA approved his request. Companies can now apply for loans of up to $2 million through a special page on the SBA website. SBA also has more valuable information for businesses.
  • For Connecticut businesses in need of assistance with SBA loans or any other DECD program, a business hotline at 860-500-2333 is available.
  • While the state Department of Revenue Services has closed its branch offices to the public, it may be reached by telephone at 860-297-5962, or by email at drs@po.state.ct.us.
  • During COVID-19 Emergency, Connecticut Utilities Will Stop Nonpayment Shut-offs
  • State of Connecticut’s Actions Related to COVID-19 – A Comprehensive Summary
  • Connecticut’s coronavirus-response team has a web portal with up-to-the-minute news and information about the virus, its impact and how to keep yourself and others safe. You can follow the coronavirus response on Twitter (@Covid19CT) and Facebook (@CTCovid19Response).
  • For Connecticut businesses in need of assistance with SBA loans or any other DECD program, a business hotline at 860-500-2333 is available.
  • Unemployment assistance: Workers directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic no longer must be actively searching for work. And employers who are furloughing workers can use the Department of Labor’s shared work program, which allows businesses to reduce working hours and have those wages supplemented with unemployment insurance. DOL has more information about these and other changes.

New Jersey

  • The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ is asking businesses to take a short survey to explore what strategies and ideas can be implemented to support and showcase members and the small business community.
  • BusinessNJ.gov has compiled COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus Information for New Jersey Businesses.

New York

Maryland

  • Baltimore City Government has issued Policy Changes in response to the coronavirus.
  • The Governor of the State of Maryland has proclaimed a State of Emergency and a catastrophic health emergency related to COVID-19.  On March 12, 2020, an order was issued extending state licenses and registrations until 30 days after the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated. See notice.
  • In accordance with the Order, the Secretary of State has issued a Public Notice extending registrations for charitable organizations, professional solicitors, fundraising counsels, and public safety solicitors due during this period are automatically extended until 30 days after the State of Emergency is terminated. This order only impacts registration due dates from March 12, 2020 until the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated. If your registration was due before March 11, 2020, it is delinquent.
  • The state of Maryland announced COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses.
  • The state of Maryland has established a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund.

Virginia

  • The state of Virginia SBA has announced SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for small businesses and private, non-profit organizations.
  • The City of Chesapeake’s Economic Development Department is offering tools and knowledge for small business success during this time.
  • Virginia Department of Small Business  & Supplier Diversity in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had developed a brief survey that will allow their agency to collect data on the impact COVID-19 is having on business revenue and employment.

Webinars and Townhalls

  • WPEO Lunch with the Experts: Join WPEO for a Lunch with the Experts webinar each Tuesday. Hear from an expert and submit your questions for a Q&A session as we navigate business challenges during this unprecedented time. Find this week’s (3/24) webinar information here and next week’s (3/31) webinar information here.
  • Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C. Webinar: COVID-19 Awareness: Employment Law Q&A, Thursday, March 26th, 11:00am – 11:30am EST. Register here.
  • WIPP Webinar: The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. COVID-19: Funding Resources and Options. Every Monday during this challenging time, WIPP will be hosting webinars on The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. March 23, 2020 at 2:00pm ET, presenters are Sue Malone, President, Strategies for Small Business and Barbara (Barb) Carson, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Audience Log-in URL:   https://www.anymeeting.com/687-043-405 | Dial-in Number: 863-208-0120 | Attendee PIN: 954 8393#
  • Wells Fargo Webinar: Managing Treasury Risks in Challenging Times: With the pandemic impact of COVID-19, the list of risks treasurers face seems to grow day by day. In this rapidly changing environment, businesses need to understand the nature and implications of these challenges as well as anticipate potential impacts to their treasury operations. You will be able to log in to the event on Mar 24, 2020 12:00 PM EDT, the broadcast will start at 12:30 PM EDT.
  • AARP – hosting weekly live Coronavirus Information Tele-Town halls on Thursdays at 1:00pm EDT to answer questions about avoiding coronavirus scams and providing resources to family caregivers. Call toll-free (855) 274 – 9507.
  • Vital Voices, Voices of Resilience podcast series will feature leaders across industries and cultures, each sharing unique insights into how they are dealing with current COVID-19 crisis, how they motivate themselves and their teams to stay focused on the larger goal, and where they find the strength and courage to persevere. Launched March 20, 2020.
  • SBA Webinar: Join a live web event with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza on COVID-19’s economic impacts and the SBA’s targeted relief efforts for the nation’s small businesses. SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza will join the Small Business Roundtable and CEOs of the leading small business organizations for a discussion on the needs of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners during the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tools You can Use

03/11/20: Meet the WBEs: Christine Nichlos

Christine Nichlos
WPEO NY WBE
CEO/Founder, People Science

What inspired you to start your business?
In early 1997, I was told by the company president that even though I was doing extremely well, and had a good following throughout the company, that he could not groom me to be president. He went on to explain that he had trouble working with women, but this was his challenge and no reflection of me or my abilities. Ironically, I was working on a new service offering for my employer at the time, so I borrowed some money, cashed in my 401k and created my own company based on the new offering.

Tell us about your business.
Not a Staffing Company, Not an Agency – People Science provides REVOLUTIONARY solutions to today’s recruitment challenges. Since our inception in 1997, clients have relied on People Science to “break the code” of their toughest recruiting efforts. Matching services to our clients’ unique recruiting circumstances, we provide highly effective customized solutions. Our Services include:

  • Talent Acquisition Consulting: Advice, direction and solutions
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing: Assuming the portions, or the entire recruitment function
  • HireGate: Software that completes the talent acquisition cycle

Acquiring talent today is a Science. The Science of People.  We are People Science, We can help.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Getting acknowledged as capable, even though we are smaller than the large players in our space.    Finding Venture Funding for our software. As recent as this year, we were told that we were “in the RFP mix,” because we are woman-owned and the potential client company needs to have diverse companies to be “in the mix,” but not really considered.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
Recently, I am witnessing companies really start to see the value in diverse businesses. The certification process has always helped me keep good records in place that have proved valuable when responding to large companies. I do enjoy the connections I have made when attending the Summit.

What’s your favorite WPEO/WBENC event you’ve attended? Why?
The Summit.  I like hearing what the purchasing teams are looking for in suppliers and of course making the connections.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
It’s always about me: How I feel, what I think and what I do. When I was in corporate America, I always thought of the company as a whole. It has taken many, many years for me to realize the company is about me – quite the opposite of what most new women business owners think.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Question yourself – are you really an entrepreneur?  I do think it is a characteristic. My father was an entrepreneur, and I always swore I would never have my own business. Ha.

Also, lose the fear – it doesn’t really work for you. Business owners often think fear propels us, but this is not so. It’s our drive that propels us – the fear is just a hindrance.

What do you love about being a business owner?
I am an entrepreneur, I love making things work differently.  I love watching others in my company think and perform differently.

Connect with Christine:

03/10/20: Number of women-led startups doubles

By Anne Stych, BizWomen

The number of companies founded by women doubled from 10 percent of global startups in 2009 to 20 percent in 2019, according to new research from Crunchbase.

The data report, which looked at funding trends for female founders over the last decade, also found that the number of funded companies with a female founder has doubled in the past five years.

Read more here.

03/04/20: Meet the WBEs: Jen Portland

Jen Portland
WPEO NY WBE
Founder and Spreadsheeter, Portland Spreadworks, LLC dba Excel Rain Man

Tell us about your business.
We help companies streamline their business processes and analyze and better understand their data – whether it is due to a lack of spreadsheet savvy or merely not having the time to get their work done. Our bread and butter is taking Microsoft Excel, Access and Google Sheets work off of people’s desks with a focus on automation via Macros/Visual Basic. All of our work is custom. I like to think of us as a mail merge on steroids. As our work is very niche and does not fit into the typical buckets for RFPs and Commodity Codes, we best convey our capabilities by showing demos of our sample work to get people thinking of how we can help.

What inspired you to start your business?
Before I started Excel Rain Man, I was working at an insurance company buying reinsurance protection. My colleagues would always ask me for spreadsheet help. I thought to myself, “What happens at places without a spreadsheet guru?” Identifying the problem was the first step. That’s when I knew Excel Rain Man would make a good business. The first 6 years of my business, I worked full time elsewhere. My former employers and connections in the insurance/reinsurance space are now some of our best customers, referral sources and cheerleaders.

What do you love about being a business owner?
I really love making fast decisions with my team that we can directly see the results of. Whenever we see a way to better our business, we do it. When there is a problem, we fix it. I feel super fortunate that we do not have to get bogged down in the bureaucracy that larger organizations have to (understandably) deal with.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Often a challenge I face is on the periphery when people (both men AND women) find out I have my own business – they assume that it is a hobby so I can have a flexible schedule with children. I get so annoyed by this. To me, family/personal life is separate from work, and it is not fair to put women in a place of not having a serious job/business or just assume that they have a family (many people don’t… hello?!?). That said, our customers/prospects have never felt this way or alluded to such. So, I just need to simmer down when people make these comments and know that we have a wonderful business that makes a difference to our customers and is a job creator.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
After getting certified, I started by email-blasting a WBENC supplier diversity contact list – basically cold-emailing everyone saying we were newly WBENC-certified and would love the opportunity to tell them about our business. It is AMAZING the number of meetings we got just by name-dropping WBENC! HUGE WIN!

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t give family and friends a discount! If you do, then what is the point of having a network? Plus, you don’t want to resent the people who love you that bring you business because you are working for less money.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
My advice is all about working smarter:
1. NO DISCOUNTS: Stemming from the best advice I ever received. Don’t discount your services… especially to friends and family.
2. FIRE BAD CUSTOMERS: We make most of our customers so happy. And then there is the customer that will never be happy. That keeps us up at night and maybe I shed a tear over it. NOT ANYMORE. We end that relationship with a soft email or call and suggest some other places to take their business.
3. WORK LESS, PAY OTHERS: Pay others to take things off of your plate… especially the things you don’t want to do. Worst case scenario, you make a little less money and have a lot more fun. More likely, you will get so much more done and be able to take on more customers, be happier and create jobs.

What’s your favorite WPEO/WBENC event you’ve attended? Why?
I made some INCREDIBLE connections at two WPEO NY events: Prime Suppliers and Second Tier Opportunities (at New York Life) and the NY Annual Breakthrough Breakfast. Because these events were so worthwhile, I am trying to attend as many events as I can and have already booked my tickets to Nashville (for WBENC’s Summit & Salute). While there are so many networking events to choose from across all of the organizations I touch, WPEO has moved to top and I am weeding out some of the others in the interest of time.

Connect with Jen:

 

02/14/20: Quality Control: Bad Content Does You No Favours

By Lisa Bragg, CEO & Founder of MediaFace

I hear it all the time: “people are hungry for content.” As the owner of a content company, I’ve probably said it more than once, myself. But let me clarify: people are hungry for goodsophisticated content.

Calling the volume of content released on a daily basis a “glut” would be an understatement. It’s a deluge, an avalanche. A new blog post is released every 0.5 seconds – to say nothing of videos, podcasts, Tweets, Instagrams, TikToks… And most of it is garbage. There’s a mix of human and machine work at play to make sure that the good stuff gets seen. Popular content is form-agnostic: there are viral short stories and viral chickpea curry recipes in addition to viral videos and Tweets. People still want what they consume to have meaning, and meaning still means that they connect with it, and can discuss and dissect that connection with other people.

Read more here.

02/10/20: Black In Business: Celebrating The Legacy Of Black Entrepreneurship

By Ruth Umoh and Brianne Garrett, Forbes

African-Americans have played a profound role in shaping the U.S. business landscape. Technological innovations like the traffic light, automatic elevator doors and even caller ID all sprung from the minds of creative black luminaries.

To honor their business achievements this Black History Month, Forbes spoke to a number of founders, investors, activists, celebrities and experts on the black diaspora. What emerged from these conversation was a rich, complex portrait of black entrepreneurship, one that highlights the black community’s tremendous creativity, as well as a resilience that was born, in part, out of hardship and necessity.

Read more here.

01/28/20: Goldman Sachs Won’t Take Companies Public If They Have All-Male Corporate Boards

By Kim Elsesser, Forbes

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told CNBC that the investment bank wouldn’t take companies public unless the company had at least one “diverse” board member. Although he didn’t define exactly what he meant by diverse, he said the focus was on women.

“Starting on July 1 in the U.S. and Europe, we’re not going to take a company public unless there’s at least one diverse board candidate, with a focus on women,” Solomon told CNBC from the World Economic Forum. He added, “And we’re going to move towards 2021 requesting two.”

Read more here.

01/22/20: INVESTING IN WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES

By The NWBC Council

THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S BUSINESS COUNCIL ISSUES POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ON INVESTMENT IN WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2020 – In its new Annual Report, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has issued policy recommendations on angel investment tax credits with the aim of incentivizing new investments in women-owned firms.

The NWBC submitted its 2019 Annual Report to the President, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the House Committee on Small Business, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

This report recaps NWBC’s 31st year and provides the findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations of the Council. NWBC Chair Liz Sara, now in her second year at the helm, has concentrated the Council’s efforts on three important policy initiatives: improving access to capital for female founders, encouraging more women to start and grow companies in STEM-related fields, and removing obstacles for women business owners in rural areas.

Read more here.

01/14/20: Ditch the Funnel and Build Better Relationships with Consumers and Teams

Lisa Bragg, CEO & Founder of MediaFace

I don’t need to ask you if you’ve heard of the funnel before – of course you have. Called the “marketing funnel” or “sales funnel,” it’s a model for how customers interact with a business leading up to conversion to a sale. It imagines a large number of people at the funnel mouth, who either proceed on down the line to buy, or drop off at some point. Some marketers and salespeople think that analyzing those drop-off points can strengthen your sales process and convert more of those people into buyers.

In that respect, the funnel can be a helpful visualization tool. For the most part, though? It’s killing your chance to build trusted relationships with your audience, and keeping the functions of your business from working in concert with each other. Read more here.

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