Small Business Spotlight: Entrepreneur Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Shares What Owners Can Do Now to Survive
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a seismic shift in consumer behavior that has induced stress on business owners.
Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso that business owners must incorporate technology infrastructure for long-term sustainability and listen to their customers to try to anticipate future needs.
“You need to be in touch with them regularly – surveying them – so that you can start getting data back on what it is that they’re looking for, what’s resonating with them and what’s holding them back on being your best advocate,” he said.
Feifer advises business owners to create an email newsletter to communicate with their customers rather than relying on social media.
“If you think that being in touch with your customer by Facebook is good, it’s not,” he said, explaining, “You’re losing people to the Facebook algorithm and you don’t own that audience.”
The Entrepreneur Magazine chief said customers will point owners in the right direction, and oftentimes, it can be a little change that can make all the difference in surviving the pandemic.
Feifer told Connolly and Carousso it is important that business owners look within themselves.
“Ask the simple question of ‘Is this company doing what it needs to do to survive for the next five years?’ Ask yourself that every single quarter and at some point you’re going to start to say, ‘Oh you know what, actually, I’ve noticed that our consumer is wanting this and this and I don’t know if the thing that we’re doing right now is going to last five years,'” he said, noting that type of honest assessment help owners make the appropriate adjustments.
Feifer is an impassioned entrepreneur, himself, running a production company in which he also hosts three podcasts, serves as a keynote speaker, and has co-authored a novel.
“I stopped watching basketball,” he quipped about how he finds the time for his professional endeavors.
But, it’s that entrepreneurial spirit that has been reignited as millions of Americans work remotely and others are starting businesses as a way to reenter a battered labor market.
Feifer told WCBS 880 many Entrepreneur Magazine subscribers are starting a “side hustle.” Starting any business, especially now, he said, requires a keen focus on one’s business plan and market.
“The number one way that people get stuck is that they have 10 ideas and they can’t decide which one and they start to kind of noodle on them all and they get nowhere,” Feifer said. “You got to just start somewhere.”
Creating a valuable service or product right now can be a win-win for the entrepreneur and their current employer.
See examples, actionable advice and new business ideas on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.
By Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Black and brown business owners are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic in ways that makes general government relief harder to obtain and be effective.
“I believe the number’s around 41 percent of black business/minority businesses failed to survive the pandemic,” said Cathleen Trigg-Jones – an ambassador to the Black Entrepreneur Initiative through The Lonely Entrepreneur – a New York-based non-profit organization.
She is a journalist who founded women empowerment content creator iWomanTV and CatScape Productions after serving on then-Sen. Joe Biden’s communications team, which she resigned from in 2006 with Mr. Biden’s encouragement to pursue her career goals.
The President-elect announced his economic recovery plan this week, including proposing targeted relief for minority-owned businesses that have been hit hardest in the pandemic.
“We’re going to make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low income communities in big cities, small towns, rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief,” President-elect Biden said.
His vision is to provide minority business owners priority access to the new round of the Paycheck Payment Protection (PPP) loan and other small business relief.
“It is really lonely when you are a business person and you don’t have that generational wealth or even expertise to fall back on,” Trigg-Jones explained to WCBS 880’s Neil A. Carousso.
Millions of Americans remain out of work as the pandemic goes on its 10th month. New business applications rose 41.8 percent in 2020 from the year previous, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, indicating many are starting new businesses whether they’re taking advantage of an opportunity or doing so for job security.
“When you lose a job and the job market is as poor as it is right now, you have to get really creative to survive,” she said. “You have no choice but to figure it out when you’re hit with a pandemic and it’s either tremble and fall or get very creative and figure out what you’re good at, what are you passionate at, what does your community need and how can you supply that need with very little access to capital.”
The Black Entrepreneur Initiative aims to provide free business training and support to 100,000 Black business owners. Ahead of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Milwaukee Bucks announced it will partner with The Lonely Entrepreneur to provide an unlimited number of signups for free for one year of the training program.
“Milwaukee was the epicenter, really, of social justice and change, and now, they’re the epicenter of the solution,” said Trigg-Jones.
The Bucks were the first professional sports team to walk-off the court in protest last year amid the police shooting of Jacob Blake – an unarmed Black man – in Kenosha, WI in August.
The Black entrepreneur and leader noted Dr. King’s vision of a dream that’s equitable for all has not been fully realized and she believes all business owners must root for each and support one other to succeed in hopes that economic empowerment will lead to equitable education to turn the tide of systemic racism.
“We’re saying, there’s room for all of us at the top,” Trigg-Jones said, adding, “Let’s all help each other, let’s all support one another.”
Watch Neil A. Carousso’s conversation with Cathleen Trigg-Jones above and you can see more information and signup for The Lonely Entrepreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Initiative here.
A portion of this interview aired on The 880 Weekly Rewind with Lynda Lopez Friday night on WCBS Newsradio 880. Listen to the full show, produced by Neil A. Carousso, above.
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Many businesses are facing the grim reality of closing operations this winter as COVID-19 and its new variants surge, but there may be opportunities to pursue before termination.
The new round of small business loans cannot be obtained by large companies unlike in the spring when some corporations were able to take advantage of loopholes in the first coronavirus relief package.
There is an additional five months of support for restaurants and businesses in industries hit hard in the pandemic, namely, tourism, transpiration, retail and performance arts. And, 40 percent of those loans can be used for new services as well as rent and utilities; that’s contrary to the first installment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan which was instituted to make sure employees are paid as part of the loan agreement.
Ian M. Weinberg is a Certified Financial Planner in Woodbury, Long Island. At his firm Family Wealth & Pension Management, LLC, he is advising business owners to manage risk by pivoting into similar services. An example he points to on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight is a clothing company that starts making uniforms for essential workers.
“I know the shipping business is getting huge. How can I take my business that’s in the clothing business and help that evolve and get integrated into this new economy?” Weinberg hypothesizes. “If you’re surviving in what you’re doing but you see that there’s an opportunity to launch elsewhere, you can use these PPP funds to do some of that.”
Sixty percent of each PPP loan must be spent on payroll or the loan would no longer qualify for forgiveness.
He acknowledged many business owners will not survive, but he told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso many of his clients that are in trouble did not adjust their operations.
“A restaurant that didn’t have curbside takeout, didn’t have a digital ordering system, you couldn’t order online and pickup, they don’t take credit cards,” Weinberg said of businesses that closed in the pandemic.
He asserted business owners cannot fall behind the times, but they must keep costs down.
“You can commit technology, you can leverage technology, you can outsource technology, you could outsource your staffing,” Weinberg explained. “We could be running a business that’s an investment banking firm right now, handling billions of dollars just like this: sitting in three Zoom calls. We don’t need any more overhead.”
He told WCBS 880 that he has seen non-profit organizations have much success with virtual fundraisers.
“They were still able to raise a million dollars and their overhead for the event was less than $200,000 because they didn’t have to do the banquet hall, the catering, the staff on site, the liabilities and they’re finding that going digital really helped them leverage their resources and the charity made $800,000 instead of half a million on the same event that people would have showed up to in black tie and tux,” said Weinberg of one charity that he advises.
The financial advisor emphasized there are opportunities right now, but owners have to be flexible and consider options outside the box.
Weinberg told Connolly and Carousso about a large catering business that made one of the most successful pivots he has seen: They applied for a New York City government contract to feed the homeless. That has kept his client’s business afloat.
“They focused their efforts from catering to for-profit organizations and parties and events to identifying a need where the city had to feed people, the city had to pay for that food and the vendor service to do it and they were fortunate enough to find out about it and they went after it,” he said.
See more local examples of successful business pivots and how to use your skills to fill pandemic needs on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.
By Neil. A. Carousso and the WCBS 880 News Team
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The nation and the world watched in horror Wednesday as a pro-Trump insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly occupation that claimed the lives of five people, including a police officer.
Lawmakers, who had gathered for a joint session of Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, and their staff feared for their lives as the violent mob invaded the Senate and House chambers.
Members of Congress were forced into hiding, scrambled to hide under desks, were told to don gas masks and evacuated to undisclosed safe rooms.
Anchor Lynda Lopez hosts an hour-long special, “Chaos in the Capitol – A Nation Divided,” that looks back at this week’s historic events and how they unfolded.
“Chaos at the Capitol – A Nation Divided“ will feature firsthand accounts from lawmakers and reporters who were in the nation’s Capitol when it descended into chaos, as well as analysis on how we got here, what it will take to move forward as a nation, and more.
The broadcast includes interviews with freshman Congressman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, CBS News correspondent Steve Dorsey, former Long Island Congressman Steve Israel, Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer, CBS News election law expert David Becker, child psychiatrist and professor Dr. Llinda Drozdowicz and more.
Below is our segment featuring Becker, as interviewed by producer Neil A. Carousso.
Becker explains Wednesday’s riots are the culmination of a years-long disinformation campaign and discusses what it will take to restore confidence in future elections.
Neil A. Carousso contributed reporting and produced the WCBS 880 Special: Chaos in the Capitol – A Nation Divided, hosted by Lynda Lopez, on Friday, January 8, 2021, which was nationally syndicated on Entercom stations.