Entrepreneurial News®

Tune Up Your Website for the Recession

This was a topic in one of our recent Solutions Forum meetings, because it was apparent that one of the attendees hadn’t really looked at his website in some time.

One of my cohorts in the consulting game, Reva Lekovsky, just posted a Tweet to this effect for Europeans, but tuning up your website applies equally well for America.

Do it even if you’re reluctant to spend the money. If you do website promotion correctly, it pays for itself many times over. One of our clients found us on a website that was well done when we had it done, but we haven’t touched it for two or three years.

Our tune up normally involves looking at your search terms on the back of your website, and especially your local search terms, such as ‘Scottsdale hair and nail salon’.

Do you have your latest products and services in the search terms?

Do you have your local or national competitors listed in your search terms? You can question the ethics of doing this listing, but I’m telling you that it works.

Are you using local search terms? Odds are you’re not, because most website developers don’t know to include them.

Do you have videos? Google still loves videos of products of services in use. Even if you shot them with your cell phone.

The Employee Retention Credit

This is another government program designed to reward employers that retained employees during 2020 and 2021. It is a refundable tax credit, but it’s not clear against which taxes: corporate or employer taxes on employees. Some handouts also say that it’s a grant, but that probably depends on whether your original PPP loan was in fact a grant. Some lenders have also converted grants into loans, but you probably know in which category you are.

Your CPA should know about this program, but many do not, which is why I’m doing this blog. The program, like the original PPP, has probably also seen its share of fraud.

You can get up to $5,000 per employee for 2020, and for 2021, the credit can be up to $7,000 per employee. The total can be up to $26,000 per employee, which means there might be other requirements.

Here are the eligibility requirements:

  1. During the government shutdown of 2020 and 2021, you experienced substantial reduction in your operating hours, inability to travel or restriction of group meetings.
  2. You need not have been deemed an ‘essential’ business.
  3. You experienced a shut-down of your supply chain or your vendors.
  4. If you received a PPP grant or loan, you are still eligible.
  5. If you remained open, you must have experienced at least a 20% decline in gross revenues. If you changed operating methods as a result of government orders, you’re eligible

The law was passed in 2022, and there are several entities out there that can help you if your CPA can’t. We don’t make any representations about the worth of any of them.

Not So Fast

I annually look carefully at the Motor Trend new car issue, and a couple of things stood out. This being a business blog, I’m outlining below some business opportunities for some hardy entrepreneurs.

  1. There’s a high degree of EV-ism among the offerings, but with the exception of Tesla’s charger, there don’t seem to be the chargers to support them. Ford, with all of its dealers, could do a charger network.
  2. The cars are all faster and more expensive, but in the middle of a recession, I would think the automakers would rethink this. Arizona is wider open than most states, but most of the cars are in the metro hubs of Phoenix and Tucson. Slower, more efficient isn’t much represented here. Ford’s even cancelling my little EcoSport, at least for the US market. I think this might be a mistake, given current economic conditions around the world.
  3. I applaud Jim Farley at Ford for saying he’s going to put passion back into all of Ford’s cars, and the recent Ford offerings seem to bear his philosophy out. Their cars and trucks seem to have a different slant to things. Market research is much in evidence. I wonder what he’s gonna do with the Escape or the Ecosport? The idea is to not do commodity cars, which is quite sound from a marketing standpoint.
  4.  Motor Trend doesn’t do trucks, but they’re a big segment of the market, and they all have motors. More electric than before, maybe more hybrid. Some of the SUV’s look like trucks, you’re doing pickups, and the vehicles like the Ford Transit bridge to car/truck divide, so think about it, MT.

Don’t Fund the Inflation Bill

Rep. Mast of Florida came up with a novel approach to dealing with the “inflation” bill that was just signed by President Biden.

Don’t fund it. Of course, not funding it assumes that the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in the November ’22 elections. Mast said on Fox News that if the Republicans took control of the House, this bill and others could be on the chopping block.

Maybe some of the funds can be diverted to finish the southern border wall. Ducey’s shipping containers do the job, but they’re certainly not the best representation of the United States. Trump’s border wall was effective and had a certain elegance about it.

So, let’s be wise in where we spend our money.

Whip Inflation Now (WIN)

Let’s hope that the present spending bill doesn’t pass the House of Representatives and the Bidens have to start over, again. A much more balanced bill can be written, I think.

I also think if the Biden administration adopted the ideas below, they might just avert a recession, too.

We borrowed the title from some past bill, not sure where, but the title is catchy.

We have some ideas on how to really stop inflation, probably in about six months or so.

  1. Unblock energy production. I don’t think the Biden bunch understands the degree to which energy goes into many of the things that we consume. This means restarting the Keystone pipeline, and unblocking permitting and leasing for other energy projects. Promote an ‘all of the above’ energy policy. Biden might have to lock the greenies in a basement, but so be it. American industry is not going to kill our planet. We are far more careful about our environment than the Chinese and the Indians.
  2. Unlock the rest of the supply chain. I’m not sure what legislative measures are needed, but I’m sure our vaunted Washington wizards can do it. One of the problems is the change in depreciation in the current bill that disallows expensing of plant and equipment.
  3. Get rid of the minimum 15% tax. Most of my clients don’t pay that much in taxes, because they have extensive depreciation flows that reduce their taxable income.
  4. Once again encourage accelerated depreciation of plant and equipment. This might be in the Trump tax cut plan, but it can be reinforced.

So, these are some modest ideas to whip inflation, and I’d certainly encourage you readers to retweet our tweet on this subject.

People Are Your Most Important Asset

My oldest son was almost laid off by his employer, who is a midsized mortage company.

It would have been a big mistake, not just because he’s my son, but the company owner hasn’t figured out that his people are his best asset. Money is money, but his people make him distinctive. The company is having a bad year, because rates are up and home values are shaky.

And the owner hasn’t diversified into other loan products that might offset some of the cyclicality.

But, bad year or no, keep your people if they’ve done good work in the past. They will again. Even if you have to sell your Ferrari or your classic car.

He’s thinking of changing industries, because the mortgage business is notoriously cyclical, and it’s rather difficult for him, as the sole breadwinner, to plan when it’s hard to say if you’re going to sell something this month and earn some commission income. He’s got savings, but, still.

So, you owners out there who are having bad years, keep your best people, even if it means you don’t get a paycheck.

Rev Up That Red Headed Stepchild

With apologies in advance to one of my ex-wives, who was a redhead, in this uncertain economy, you should make sure that you’re getting the maximum out of all your product lines.

The rev-up includes any product lines that you might have neglected for a while because you were or are doing well with the product lines that you’re emphasizing.

Hence the readheaded stepchild analogy. Lore holds that redheads get neglected by their parents.

How long has it been since you did an analysis of all your product lines and brand names to see if they’re doing as well as you expected when you launched them?

Talk to your customers, past, present or future for the possibly neglected product line or service. They’ll tell you if you are really neglecting the product line.

For example, when one of my companies was putting nickel plating on everything we could produce to resist corrosion, I was talking to one of my big distributors and he asked why we weren’t doing plating on our garden variety exhaust clamps, which was about our first product.

An aha moment ensued. I asked him if he’d pay an extra 15 cents for a plated clamp, and he said ‘sure’. And he bought 250 on the spot.

If you look over your product or service lineup, at a minimum, you’ll probably come out with a product idea or two or five.

And you might find out if your perceived neglect of the one product or service is real.

Now get out there are look things over.

The Credit Ratings Scam

This isn’t a purely business topic, but as many of you know, the fact that you have to have your personal credit rated when applying for business credit makes the topic.

When I was controller for a 70 branch consumer loan company when I worked at Ford, we wanted people to borrow money, make the payments and eventually pay off the loan. But we only made money if there was a loan that was being paid. And our ratings reflected what we wanted.

It seems that the Credit Bureaus have lost sight of this basic tenet underlying the ratings.

I recently paid off a credit card and my rating jumped about 50 points. This seems like too much.

My wife, on the other hand, paid off a credit card and her rating, which is much higher than mine, went down.

Both of us have credit ratings at the three agencies that have probably 50 point divergences in them. 5 or 10 points we can understand.

There seems to be so some divergence, because of in credit usage. My usage is higher than my wife’s, but our payment patterns are similar, but my rating is about 75 points lower than hers. One would think that higher usage, with a positive payment pattern, would be more of a positive.

I’m sure you readers out there have some stories, too, and we encourage you to share them. Maybe we can wake up Sen. Warren’s Credit Committee to do some positive reforms.

COVID 19,20,21,22

Despite all known precautions, I got COVID on June 13, went to the hospital for 4 days, and came out tired and irritable.

The interesting thing was that I decided to have my doctor do a blood test on me to see if I had the COVID antibodies.

The blood test disclosed that I have the antibodies for COVID 20 (the 2020 variant), but not for any of the other strains.

Which means that I could get it again this year, and it might be any one of the variants listed in the title.

What our medical establishment isn’t telling us is that the vaccines only cover one variant at the moment, and if you’re exposed to a different variant, you might still get it.

If you’ve been vaccinated, the illness is more mild, but it’s still annoying .

If you’re an employer, have your employees who have had COVID bloodtested to find out which variant they had, note it in their personnel file, and start lobbying your medical prvovider to include annual COVID tests for those who’ve had it.

It looks like we are heading towards another annual vaccination, such as we have to the flu.

Are Social Credit Scores Coming?

As you may know, social credit scoring is an idea that originated in China, that imposes rewards and punishment based on an individual, or presumably, a business conformance to governmental standards of conduct.

Epoch Times, no journalistic liberal bastion, thinks these standards might be coming to America, through the World Economic Forum.

The standards are being backdoored into society through corporate Evironmental, Social and Governmental (ESG) policies adopted by corporations, but it doesn’t seem that many corporations have jumped on the ESG bandwagon.

There is even a startup company, Doconomy, that has developed a system that can track the carbon footprint of all your purchases, including food and travel, and cuts off your spending when you hit a specified personal emissions limit.

So far, there’s no mention of ESG policies broadly applying to businesses, and let’s hope the Washington Wizards don’t figure it out before the cavalry shows up in November to rescue all of us from the Democrat Congress.

There’s no evidence so far of anyone in Washington mandating social credit scoring for individuals or businesses, and I’m reasonably optimistic that this scheme couldn’t passed through the Congress.

There is some evidence that some banks, notably Chase and Bank of America, have closed accounts of people they deem as reputationally challenged, but that’s about it.

So, thanks to Epoch Times, and forewarned is forearmed.