4 Steps to Help Small Businesses Succeed

4 Steps to Help Small Businesses Succeed

While local municipalities can’t provide the level of financial relief to small businesses that the US Treasury can, local officials can take strategic actions to improve the survival odds for local businesses. Below are some ideas for you to help your community succeed amidst the ongoing obstacles and pressure of the pandemic.

Promote your local businesses

Promote local businesses by publicizing open stores with street signs or offering free digital downloads to help businesses market effectively. Encourage residents to shop locally by linking store sites to virtual town hall meetings. Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus teamed up with the Orange County Department of Tourism to remind community members of the power of keeping their dollars local. In a Small Business Saturday promotion, officials pointed out that for every $100 spent locally, $73 stays in the Orange County economy. Your local government can continue to support struggling businesses by helping to make connections through webinars and networking.

Create a central, online resource to distribute information

Be a source of information to your business community by creating a simple, user-friendly digital one-stop shop for resources, tools, and information. One shining example is Dutchess County’s Youtube channel which regularly releases videos featuring County Executive Marcus Molinaro and various health officials and guests. We recommend you designate a staff member to update your site daily with relevant local, state and federal news, as well as guidance on how businesses can apply for SBA loans, and how to contact local SBA-approved lenders or other business support organizations. On Monday, the SBA re-opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to small businesses who have not already obtained a PPP loan. Today, the program will reopen for small businesses who have drawn a PPP loan in the first stage of the program. The PPP has been expanded to be more accessible and flexible for businesses, seasonal employees, nonprofits – including 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, and direct marketing organizations. The loans can now cover operating expenses, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection costs. Your guidance for local businesses could be the difference between a thriving downtown and more boarded up storefronts in 2021.

Team up with others to support the community

Consider forming a centralized Covid-19 donation and relief center to provide bridge funding to struggling small businesses and families. Some cities are partnering with nonprofits to create a lifeline for low-income families who have lost income due to pandemic hardships, like the City of Kingston in Ulster County. Kingston partnered with the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) to provide up to $3,000 in rental assistance over three months for dozens of households that submitted to a lottery. Selected applicants will be notified later this week, and local officials describe this effort as crucial to protecting residents against eviction. Municipalities can get creative with funding through a combination of local resources, philanthropic dollars, or by redeploying Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to small businesses.

Gather data to make the case for funding

Collecting relevant local business data can help inform your municipality’s future budgets as well as your approach to state and federal advocacy. For example, Sullivan County has partnered with the County Visitors Association, chamber of commerce, and two economic development agencies to form a Recovery Working Group that has sent out needs assessment surveys to all of their member businesses. The group aims to use this data to help streamline business’s access to capital and make a unified case for support to the state and federal governments. If you haven’t already gathered data that’s unique to your community, now is the time to start asking questions and recording information. Some ideas include:

“What is the risk of your going out of business?”                                                            

“What areas of your business are you most concerned about?”                                                  

“How many employees do you estimate you will have to lay off?”

In this overwhelming time, businesses need reliable sources of information to help them navigate financial assistance and survive so your local economy can thrive. We hope these ideas will inspire new initiatives to further support the businesses that are unique to Hudson Valley. As you support your communities, we are here to support you. Contact our dedicated team today and get answers to financial questions with a free consultative appointment.

Sources: NLC, ICMA, ELGL

Balancing the Books and Budgeting in 2021

Balancing the Books and Budgeting in 2021

We are less than two weeks into the New Year and while we are still adjusting our expectations for the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic, it’s a good time to consider your annual budget. Determining the right amount of raw material for current demand is hard enough in a “normal” year, so it’s safe to say it is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the manufacturing industry. Particularly for small to medium-size manufacturers, having a budget helps everyone to work towards the same goal and prepare for unexpected disruptions. This process helps answer critical questions about what the next 12 months will look like. What are your future projected sales? Are you expecting margins to improve next year? Do you plan to hire or fire employees? Do you have any significant upcoming capital expenditures? Planning now means smarter saving and spending for the next 12 months. To succeed in a highly competitive market, you need two things to be in sync. Your team and your technology.

Keeping Communication Consistent

In a survey of more than 1,500 small to mid-sized manufacturing company CEOs, 82% said that speaking to their employees was challenging. How can you leverage what’s at your fingertips to save time and money? Utilize enterprise messaging apps and other mobile tech to gather feedback from employees on the floor to stay in constant connection. A recent Google white paper report reveals 53% of frontline workers use messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger up to six times a day for work-related reasons, but 68% of them said they’d stop if given approved instant messaging apps for corporate communication tools. This data clearly shows that frontline workers need a way to communicate while they’re at work. Consider adopting a platform that will allow you to streamline training, offer real-time company updates, improve collaboration, and build company confidence. As AI and manufacturing technology systems advance, these tools can boost employee productivity and efficiency. Staying connected and creating a flow across factory floors is crucial if you want to succeed in the coming year (and decade, for that matter).

Make the Most of Your MRP

Computer-based inventory management or material requirements planning (MRP) is designed to improve productivity, estimate quantities of raw materials, and schedule deliveries. MRP is designed to answer three questions: What is needed? How much is needed? When is it needed? This process allows your business to plan more accurately by tracking product series, managing quality levels, expiry dates of materials used, transparency in overall processes, and standards. Keep in mind the system that makes sense for your unique needs, size, and budget will vary. Here are the top three ranking systems based on the latest industry reviews, for you to explore:

1. Fishbowl Manufacturing

Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to midsize manufacturing companies. The app offers QuickBooks integration for accounting management, as well as tools for inventory control, MRP, and job shop floor control/manufacturing execution. It is an inventory-centric system, with features for barcoding, asset management, raw materials management, and customized reporting. It automates the quoting, ordering, and purchasing processes.

2. Oracle Netsuite

NetSuite Manufacturing Edition offers an integrated inventory, warehouse management, accounting, and financial management, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), and an e-commerce platform. Offered as a cloud-based solution and delivered over the web, NetSuite can be used by manufacturing businesses to manage production orders, ensure base inventory level restocking, and ensure the success and quality of special orders. In addition, the system also supports inventory for multiple locations, assembly management requirements, bill of materials, work order management, diverse methods of measurement, barcoding procedures, and other necessary business processes in the manufacturing industry.

3. E2 Shop System

E2 by Shoptech Corporation is a manufacturing solution that offers scheduling, purchasing, shipping, customer management, and accounting. It’s designed specifically for job shops, contract, and a variety of make-to-order manufacturers. E2 estimating allows users to create both “quickie quotes” and complex estimates on labor, overhead, material, etc., that can be faxed or emailed with attached drawings or pictures. These quotes can be automatically turned into orders, with no double entry required. E2 automatically generates shipping labels and packing slips and then tracks shipments online to multiple shipping addresses.

Integrating your personnel communication with your technology workflow can feel overwhelming and tedious when you’re reevaluating your annual budget. But by forming a plan now, you will be able to better anticipate future growth and better navigate financial speedbumps. We hope these ideas will inspire new action plans to help your team succeed. As you support your business, we are here to support you. Contact our dedicated team today and get answers to financial questions with a free consultative appointment.

Can My Company Afford to Go Green

Can My Company Afford to Go Green


Depending on which side of the grass you’re standing on, it’s a term you either love or hate. For years, the misconception that going green is too costly for small and medium-sized contractors has prevented companies from getting a piece of the sustainable construction market action. A market which, I might add, is projected to top $523 billion by 2026. As customers have become increasingly aware of environmental concerns, research and development of sustainable materials have exploded. What does that mean for you? More building options, more growth opportunity, and a wider pool of potential clients if you’re willing to shift with the changing times. There are several innovative ways to go green. Some may be more relevant than others in your daily operation. Here are a few examples to get your creativity flowing:

  • Use of RMC (Ready Mixed Concrete) instead of bricks to reduces wastage
  • Radiant-cooling technology
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Biodegradable or recycled construction material usage
  • IoT Integrated Automated Building Systems
  • DGU Windows to reduce sound and heat from coming in
  • Shadow concept construction

Off-site fabrication, improved on-site maintenance, lean practices, and landfill avoidance – the list truly goes on.

The reality is, as state and local governments get serious about going green, the opportunity for your business to integrate innovations is there for the taking. Consider that 77% of millennial consumers agree they will pay more for products from sustainable sources, according to Nielsen. Now more than ever, environmentally conscious clients are willing to trade off a slightly higher upfront investment for ongoing savings, especially when a contractor can prove their suggested design will perform as desired with advanced energy use modeling.

If you’re just breaking into this arena, it’s best to follow New York’s green building requirements, you can reference guidelines here. For starters, you should know financial solutions exist to make going green more affordable and cost-efficient for your operation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides grants for qualified, environmentally responsible programs and The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers still more options for green solution construction. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority offers financial and technical assistance programs and the New York Financial Incentives for Renewables and Energy Efficiency finds state and local financial incentives that promote renewable energy upgrades. Your organization can even achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating by adhering to guidelines outlined and advocated by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED-certified buildings qualify for tax benefits and incentives from tax credits, grants, and expedited building permits to reductions or waivers in fees. When you consider the federal tax credits for building energy efficient projects, you can start to see the true value of incorporating green practices.

Around the globe, countries are continuing to build incentives for going green.

The UK recently introduced the Green Homes Grant and similar structures are likely to be introduced in the states. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has already rolled out an aggressive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030. They’ll no doubt need to further incentivize, support, and partner with contractors to accomplish that hefty goal. This could mean huge financial motivations for your client pool down the road, all the more reason to be progressive and familiarize your team with green practices now. In many instances, reducing energy consumption has gone from being a “good idea” to a business necessity. The more you explore adopting environmentally-friendly technology and materials, the more we think you will find building green is good for public health, the environment, and your bottom line. Have questions about your business plan? RBT’s dedicated team is here to answer your pressing questions. Contact us here, today.