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Exclusive: The SBA Just Changed the Rules for 59,000 U.S. Businesses in a $150 Billion Opportunity. But Most People Don't Even Notice

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The SBA Just Changed the Rules for 59,000 U.S. Businesses in a $150 Billion Opportunity. But Most People Don't Even Notice

#SBA #Changed #Rules #Businesses #Billion #Opportunity #People #Don039t #Notice

What if I were to tell you that the federal government just changed the definition of “small business” in hundreds of U.S. industries, and that thousands more companies can now compete for nearly $150 billion in government contracts as a result? 

It could be an enormous opportunity. It’s also just the beginning of a series of upcoming rules changes that could mean massive chances to take advantage, for people who pay attention.

It all began with a little-noticed announcement in April that the Small Business Administration had settled on final rules to modify small business definitions in 16 business sectors covering hundreds of industries.

The new rules “make 59,000 additional firms eligible for millions of dollars in revenue and business expansion opportunities,” Bibi Hidalgo, the SBA’s associate administrator for government contracting and business development, said at the time.

We’ll get into the details below. But two things struck me at the outset:

  • First, not that many businesses or even people seem to pay attention. (One smart exception: Justin Ho’s coverage on Marketplace.)
  • Second, the sheer volume of opportunities, especially as government spending has continued to balloon over the last few years. From fiscal 2019 to 2020, for example, total U.S. federal government contracts rose from $595 billion to $665 billion, according to the Government Accounting Office.

And, it’s not all defense contracts and office supplies.

“The government buys just about everything, from soybeans to toddler clothing to cloud computing,” Sam Le, director of policy, planning and liaison at the SBA told me in a video interview Friday. “The government buys everything.”

Another fascinating data point: While overall government spending and the percentage of government contracts granted to qualified small businesses had risen over recent years, the actual number of individual businesses getting those deals has fallen.

In other words, it’s the relatively smart few who pay attention, that have walked away with a bigger and bigger piece of the pie.

“Exactly,” Le said. “The number of dollars is growing, but the number of businesses is declining.”

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That’s why these definitional changes are so interesting. 

With literally hundreds of adjusted definitions, it would be impossible to list them all here, but the qualifications are available on the SBA’s website at sba.gov/size.

What’s more, the most recent changes are just part of a long series. 

In short, while some industries are judged for “small business” size based on each business’s revenue, other industries are judged based on total number of employees in each company, and the employee-count industries are up for review next.

In fact, the SBA has virtual public hearings set for Tuesday and Thursday for anyone who would like to comment on those proposed changes. Additionally, Le said changes in SBA size standards for certain loan programs are set to be released shortly.

Now, I don’t know what business you’re in, and I don’t know how you feel about government spending in general.

But if you’re running a business that might be considered small by any comparative definition, I think this is an opportunity worth following, and maybe even pursuing vigorously. At the very least, perhaps, it’s time to pay attention. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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Exclusive: 5 Ways to Delight Your Customers With Email – TalkOfNews.com

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5 Ways to Delight Your Customers With Email

#Ways #Delight #Customers #Email

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did you know that 61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by companies through email? Millennials will do nothing to slow that down. With an average of 6.4 hours a day, they’re using email more than any other age group.

The potential to reach and convert them is there. Every email you send keeps your business top of mind and has a chance to bring in sales. However, many companies struggle with click rates and generating buzz. They lack the ability to deliver and engage.

On the other hand, look at the businesses that succeed, and you’ll find that they’ll do whatever possible to exceed expectations. The good news is that their actions are fairly easy to emulate. Let’s look into some of the ways you, too, could start delighting your customers, one email at a time.

Related: 6 Out-of-the-Box Ideas to Keep Your Email Marketing Fresh

1. Make it personal — at least call them by name

The days of letters that begin “Dear Sir or Madame” are long gone. The modern customer has come to expect a high degree of personalization. At the very least, your emails should address the recipient by name. Are you doing that?

The more you can fine-tune your personalization, the more effective your emails will be. Start by looking at the kind of data you’ve gathered, and think about how you can use it to target specific groups of subscribers.

Personalization makes the customer feel like they matter to you and they aren’t just another entry in your database. Furthermore, knowing who your customers are helps you better serve them.

2. Remember special occasions

What brands are people loyal to? It’s those that cater to their audience and make them feel special. Your customers always have another option. So, one way you can delight them is through emails that are tailored to their life.

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There are so many occasions you could mark. Use your imagination. For example, suppose your business is jewelry. Could you automate a promotion for everyone who bought a wedding ring with a special offer? Maybe they’re unsure of what anniversary gift to get, or think about what a lifesaver you’d be if your email was what reminded them of the event. Not only could you keep your customer out of hot water, but you may just make a sale.

Those little things go a long way to expanding customer loyalty, and they can also drive up sales. You can delight your customers around those milestone events by giving them an idea and also expressing gratitude for their patronage. Small endeavors to show kinship won’t go unnoticed. Anytime you can use email marketing to strengthen your connection is a win.

Related: Your Email Marketing Is Destined to Fail Without These 3 Essentials

3. Let people choose how often they hear from you

Allowing your email subscribers to set preferences is of great value to them — and you. Some of the people on your list have a lot of time, and they don’t mind getting constant emails from you. Others may get lots of emails or just want to hear from you less. They don’t necessarily want to unsubscribe, but they only want one or two emails a month. Don’t make them feel they have to ditch you.

So, what do you do? Put the ball in their court. Allow them to choose how often they hear from you and also consider allowing preferences on the types of emails they’d like to get.

4. Delight your customers by giving them the occasional gift

Sometimes the best things are a surprise, and your subscribers are likely to agree. Email newsletters that are one-sided and self-promotional begin to wear on the people who subscribe. Of course, they expect that you’ll tell them about sales and product launches, but sometimes, you should show how generous you can be.

At least once a year, do something just because. Perhaps you’ll offer free shipping for a few days or a free bonus on every purchase. Depending on what you sell, it could also be something you create specifically to give away.

Put some effort into something you can be proud of: an eBook, guide, infographic or even an audiobook or video download. Make it useful, and people will appreciate it. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to send a good message about your brand.

Related: Your Reputation Matters in Email Marketing. Here’s How to Protect It.

5. Show up consistently with useful content

Successful email marketers are always raising the bar. They ask hard questions, like “How can I have better emails?” and “Where are my weaknesses?” One thing that won’t cut it is to just coast. Those emails tend to be easy to spot, but hard to notice.

Making an exceptional email isn’t easy, but you must do it consistently. Not being punctual with your emails will cost you in a lot of ways. Sending emails on a set schedule (like every Tuesday or the first day of the month) will improve your deliverability.

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When you send on a schedule, you’re less likely to be categorized as a spammer. Spammers and amateurs send emails haphazardly. The less you resemble a spammer, the better your sender score is and the more likely you are to reach the inbox.

It bears mentioning that emails that don’t reach the inbox have no chance of being successful. That’s why you should send emails that people open and also practice regular email hygiene to get inactive and invalid emails off the list.

So, what can you learn from the emails you get? You’ll learn how to delight more in your emails by looking closely and thinking about the newsletters and promotions you send. Every email should have a purpose. If it doesn’t serve someone, what good is it?

It also pays to learn from the emails you get (both personal and marketing). Did you get an email recently that delighted you? Ask yourself why. What ingenuity or sparkle do great emails have that you can adopt or learn from? Be on the lookout, and learn from the best.

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Exclusive: Small Businesses Are Facing Crippling Amounts of Paperwork. It'll Likely Only Get Worse – TalkOfNews.com

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Small Businesses Are Facing Crippling Amounts of Paperwork. It'll Likely Only Get Worse

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If you think you are pushing more paperwork than ever, you’re not alone. According to a new Small Business Index report released this week from MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 37 percent of business owners say they are spending more time on licensing, compliance, or other government requirements; that’s vs. 29 percent last quarter. 

The papers started piling up during the pandemic, as businesses started applying for funds through government relief programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and employees starting requesting more sick leave due to Covid. While that seems reasonable enough, the time businesses are spending on forms and compliance is still likely to increase in the months ahead as federal agencies are seeking to implement more rules and enforce those already in effect.

In March the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), proposed rule changes that require registrants to include certain climate-related disclosures in their registration statements and quarterly reports, including information about climate-related risks. Small businesses say the regulator’s proposal on climate disclosures will saddle them with a compliance burden they won’t be able to handle, according to the Wall Street Journal. While small companies normally don’t fall within the SEC’s purview, they fear that they will be forced to cough up heaps of information on their roles, however small, in emitting carbon because the SEC wants large public companies to catalog emissions in their entire supply chains.

“Small and independent businesses cannot afford the experts, accountants and lawyers needed to comply with complex government reporting regimes,” the National Federation of Independent Business said in a comment letter filed with the SEC.

Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are creating more rules and regulations. In April Director Rohit Chopra told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that the CFPB will “dramatically increase its issuance of guidance documents, such as advisory opinions, compliance bulletins, policy statements, and other publications,” to ensure businesses follow regulations. For small businesses without full HR staffs or legal teams to keep up with the added paperwork and unnecessary red tape and regulations, these changes can come as a harsh reality.

“[Small businesses] are wading through a seemingly never-ending debate of rule changes and shifting incentives that threaten their fundamental abilities to create, build, and grow the enterprises that will power our economy forward,” said Joe Shamess, General Partner at Flintlock Capital, during testimony before the House Small Business Committee in a hearing on veteran entrepreneurship in June 2022.

Meanwhile, a rare opportunity to overturn the federal government’s ability to police corporations is starting to materialize. Some regulations watchers suggest that the recent Supreme Court of the United States decision in which the Environmental Protection Agency was ruled to have overstepped its authority to curb power plants’ carbon emissions could fuel an easing of red tape in other instances. Similar cases involving the Clean Water Act, among others may follow similar precedent. 

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Exclusive: Bank of England's Bailey warns global economic outlook has 'deteriorated materially' – TalkOfNews.com

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Bank of England's Bailey warns global economic outlook has 'deteriorated materially'

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Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, has said the global economic outlook has deteriorated materially after surging commodity prices pushed up inflation around the world.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

LONDON — The governor of the Bank of England said Tuesday that the global economic outlook has “deteriorated materially” and warned of possible further shocks to come.

Andrew Bailey blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for piling further pressure on commodity prices and already rising inflation, and said that further resilience is needed to mitigate future risks.

“The global economic outlook has deteriorated materially,” Bailey said at a briefing at the Bank of England.

“It is the right time to lock in resilience so that we are well prepared for future possible shocks,” he added.

The warning came as the central bank published its Financial Stability Report Tuesday, in which it outlined a number of risks to the U.K.’s economic outlook. Those include ongoing disruption to food and energy markets as a result of the war, high household and government debt, as well as the continued impacts of Covid-19 in China.

We expect households and businesses to become more stretched over coming months.

Andrew Bailey

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governor, Bank of England

The BOE, alongside other central banks, has been raising interest rates in a bid to bring down high prices. However, Bailey acknowledged that this had made the economic landscape harder for households and businesses, and that there was little sign of let up in the near-term.

“These higher prices, weaker growth and tighter financing conditions will make it harder for households and businesses to repay or refinance debt,” he said.

“Given this, we expect households and businesses to become more stretched over coming months. They will also be more vulnerable to further shocks,” he said.

BOE lifts banking capital demands

The comments came as the Bank on Tuesday lifted its countercyclical capital buffer rate (CCyB) for banks from 1% to 2%, starting in July 2023. Central banks increase the regulatory capital demand when they believe risks are building up.

Bailey said the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee would be willing to continue readjusting the rate as needed.

“Given considerable uncertainty around the outlook, the FPC will continue to monitor the situation,”  he said. “We stand ready to vary the UK CCyB rate — in either direction — depending on how risks develop.”

In sharp contrast to the financial crisis, it is in a position to cushion the economic shocks, not add to them.

Andrew Bailey

governor, Bank of England

Bailey also said the BOE would move ahead with its annual stress test in September, evaluating the U.K. banking system’s ability to handle various potential risks, including higher interest rates, asset price falls and “deep” recessions.

However, he added that the sector looks generally strong and that lenders are much better placed now than during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis to handle a severe economic downturn.

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“The economic outlook is uncertain and undoubtedly a very challenging one for many households and businesses,” he said.

“The banking system is resilient to that outlook, however, or even a much worse one. In sharp contrast to the financial crisis, it is in a position to cushion the economic shocks, not add to them.”

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