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.
  • Small Business Spotlight: Business Opportunities Up for Grabs

    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.

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