Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • NJ Business Owner Down 100% Remains Optimistic As Companies Suffer Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW JERSEY (WCBS 880) – A new survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reveals small businesses are being crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Seventy-six percent of United States small businesses are negatively impacted, according to a NFIB Research Center survey of 300,000 owners who employ 1-360 workers. It was conducted on March 20. Ten days earlier, the NFIB survey revealed just under one-quarter of small businesses reported the same.

    Boxcar founder Joe Colangelo tells WCBS 880 his business is down between 98-100 percent from last month. The decline began on March 9 when he saw a 20 percent drop from the previous month. By the end of that week ending on March 13, Boxcar was down 75 percent.

    “First thing you have to do before you come up with any cool new ideas is attack that expense line,” Colangelo said. “We were able to find from advertising, marketing and all these other subscriptions basically $20,000 a month in savings.”

    Boxcar provides a commuter parking solution by teaming-up with churches and other organizations that have empty lots to offer strategic parking in the suburbs near mass transportation.

    Colangelo told his team Monday morning, “We’re in the relationship business, figuring out how we can help people, and that’s a business that’s never going out of style.” Despite tough times for his commuter parking app based in New Jersey, he remains optimistic that he can create new uses for his software.

    “In the long-term, we got to keep our eyes open and our head on a swivel, because if there’s other ways we can serve our customer’s needs, we got to really think about how we could do that so we aren’t completely exposed to a single point of failure,” Colangelo said.

    Five percent of small businesses are positively impacted with likely “stronger sales due to a sharp rise in demand for certain products, goods, and services,” according to the NFIB survey.

    Small businesses employ nearly half of the workforce in the U.S. They contributed roughly two-thirds of net employment gains in the nation since 2011, according to the Small Business Administration.

    The federal government made its application for interest-free loans available Monday for small businesses. New York City Small Business Services also has a loan application online for payroll expenses.

    Colangelo said his attorneys have advised him to sit on the fastball before applying for loans.

    “We saw first 3.25 percent loans, now we’re seeing 0 percent interest loans, and, you know, there’s stuff working its way through the Senate – potential grants, right, things that don’t have to get paid back,” Colangelo said, adding, “You don’t want to take advantage of one of those [loans] if you could avoid it, and then find out that taking advantage of a 3.25 percent loan precludes you from getting a grant.

    Colangelo tells WCBS 880 he has seen the best in people through this national crisis from customers asking if they can buy gift certificates to redeem in the future, so he could pay his workers, to a local elected official in New Jersey offering his home equity line of credit to Boxcar to assist the business in staying afloat.

    “We don’t need it, we’re really well positioned,” Colangelo said. “I’ll never forget that.”

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