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Small Business Owners Turn To GoFundMe To Stay Afloat

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Most people would assume that running a business at the start is one of the largest hurdles for a business owner. But, just like losing weight, the hardest part of it all is maintaining your ideal figure. In the business industry, what separates the cream from the crop from the scraps are the ones who manage to keep their company alive in the long run. 

Based on research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly half of small businesses fail within five years of launching. 

And for those small businesses whose sales and profits are plummeting, the future might be unstable and unsure. Sadly, there is no instruction manual on how to save a sinking ship. Every small business is unique, and each one carries its own specific risks and rewards. Still, there are some strategies business owners do to stop taking water in and start sailing once more. 

GoFundMe

GoFundMe, along with other websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, is a tool that business owners have been using since to keep them afloat. These platforms are most notable in assisting/ funding medical, debt, funeral costs, or natural disaster relief. 

Today, crowdfunding is increasingly rampant and used by struggling small businesses, especially when banks and other lenders turn them down. Most establishments tend to ask for support from their loyal customers. 

According to Chief Executive Rob Solomon; Thousands of small businesses, ranging from comic-book shops to drive-inn movie theaters across 19 countries, have now petitioned campaigns for assistance. 

“These independent businesses become pillars in a community, and when they can’t stay open, the communities rally,” Mr. Solomon added.

An Owner’s Perspective

Nick Perry, an owner of a British grocery, a restaurant called Tea & Sympathy, and the fish-and-chip shop A Salt & Battery located in Greenwich Village, out of desperation, started her GoFundMe page just last year when she was not able to pay rent. Her campaign reached $52,000 nearly towards its $100,000 goal. 

 “We just couldn’t pay the rent,” Ms. Perry said. “The rent is so astronomical.”

While having positive results on her fundraiser, with loyal customers stopping by more often and neighbors offering free labor, she says she would still consider turning to GoFundMe in the future.

On the latter, Ms. Perry made changes on her business model and eventually changed payroll companies, reduced headcount, and redid her menu to cut costs.

Making Ends Meet

Another business owner- Peter Glassman of Books of Wonders in Manhattan, launched a GoFundMe campaign, which started on October 22 and has raised more than $23,000 towards its $250,000 goal. The company has 30 employees between its two stores and annual sales, just over $2 million.

Mr. Glassman said he can pay his current bills but needs money to move the bookstore’s flagship from 18th Street to a more affordable and high-trafficked space in the Flatiron District. He added that he struggled to pay the annual $600,000 lease at his current location, particularly after his most recent subtenant, City Bakery, entered financial problems and withdrew.

The bookstore’s uptown store will remain in its current location.

A professor, Bruce Bachenheimer at the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, said that the validation business owners get from their campaigns might not be enough to keep a business open but reassure them.

After a successful GoFundMe campaign, owners might say to themselves, “‘I should hang on, I should keep going,'” Mr. Bachenheimer said.

The Real Struggle

On the other side of the coin, Chris Doeblin, owner of the Book Culture shops in Manhattan, says not every struggling business wants to ask their customers for donations. That is why he started a community lending program just this summer after he encountered existential challenges like rising rents, online shopping (Amazon), the increase of minimum wage, and the inability to borrow money forced him to the brink of closing.

Mr. Doeblin has raised $600,000, which he plans to repay within five years at 4% interest, a far lower rate than he could get elsewhere.

“People are recognizing that there’s a big downside to Amazon and buying things online,” he said. “I hope it’s not too late,” he added.

Fact Check 

Small businesses like retail shops, in particular, are facing a phase-out due to the increasing popularity and demand of online shopping on e-commerce websites.

According to the UBS analysts, roughly around 75,000 retailers will have to shut down their business in 2026.

Guidance

Tone Balzano Johansen, the owner of Sunny’s Bar in Brooklyn, NY, shares the same difficulty and aspirations but has overcome trials and still going.  

To business owners in her predicament, she offers this advice: Don’t give up easily.

“If this means something to you, fight. Fight tooth and nail,” Johansen said. 

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Business

Less Plastic, More Life: How This Youth Leader Is Ending Bali Plastic Bags

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Plastics, at one point in time, may have been a useful and normal part of everyday life. However, because plastics take forever to disintegrate, it has become a global ecological problem.

More often than not, these plastics end up polluting the environment and also end up killing animals who mistake them for food. Because of these environmental concerns, Melati Wijsen from Bali, Indonesia, decided to put a stop on single plastic use forever. And she’s just 18 years old.

The Genesis: Bye Bye Plastics!

Indonesia is the second world’s largest plastic producer next to China. Wijsen saw the ill-effects of single-plastic use in her hometown as plastics were everywhere! The side of the road, the rivers, and the canals – plastics were an eyesore to the popular tourist destination.

Still, the quality of environmental life in Indonesia was rapidly declining as plastic usage increased. Melati Wijsen, together with her sister, just came from a school video showing inspirational leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King when they were inspired to start doing something.

They then formed the non-profit organization called Bye Bye Plastics in 2014, where its primary objective is to ban the use of single-use plastics throughout the community. Their plan of action included encouraging their schoolmates to join their cause and often held meetings during lunchtime!

Within months, the Bye Bye Plastics team was able to mobilize communities to clean the polluted beaches with a whopping 50,000 people clearing more than 150 tons of plastics! Also, the team encouraged businesses to reduce their use of plastics.

By 2018, the team partnered with the Balinese government to ban the use of single-use plastics, which took effect in July 2019. At present, Bye Bye Plastic expanded globally, with 50 teams spread out in over 29 countries.

What’s Next?

Because of the success of Bye Bye Plastic in Indonesia, Wijsen became a prominent youth leader with a global audience. She has spoken to different youth leaders in various prominent platforms such as the United Nations conferences, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Economic Forum.

But she will not stop there. In an interview with Wijsen, she feels proud of her team’s accomplishment. Still, she feels frustrated that the world’s awakening about such a prominent environmental issue took six years in the making. She also vowed to assist with other youth-led initiatives.

Wijsen and her sister founded another non-profit organization, Youthtopia, where its primary objective is to have a support group among other budding youth leaders. It also aims to develop the skills of youth leaders through development activities, peer-learning activities, and online workshops.

To date, Youthtopia has catered to a multitude of youth leaders whose cause ranges from anti-human trafficking to Black Lives Matter foundation. In another interview, Wijsen mentioned that she has all the hope for the youth and their generation because of their passion for making an impact on the community.

When asked for advice to be given to youth leaders across the globe, Wijsen wisely mentioned three actionable steps to take to make an impact:

  • Empower Yourself
  • Collaborate with others
  • Reach out to leaders

Indeed, youth leaders such as Wijsen are inspiring figures not just for the youth but also for anyone—regardless of age, gender, and nationality, to do the right thing and make an impact on the community.

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Business

Taco Bell Is Revolutionizing How We Order

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The ongoing pandemic truly has changed the way of life for many of us. Nowadays, staying in is the norm, and gone are the days where you can go out with friends for a night out drinking and dancing, or even traveling to explore the world!

The world of technology became an advantage as the world shifted online – from ordering food to conducting meetings through Zoom, it truly is a digital era. There is also a noticeable shift in the food industry where there are fewer people who dine in, and more people opt for take-out or drive-throughs instead. Because of the demand for more drive-through establishments, fast food establishments and restaurants are thinking of ways to revolutionize and be ahead of the game.

One example is Taco Bell, which unveiled its latest design last August 26, 2020, to showcase their plans to innovate their drive-thru establishments to keep up with increasing demand due to the shift in consumer behavior. Taco Bell attempts to have a dual drive-thru lane as compared to having the traditional single drive-thru lane that is considered as the norm nowadays.

Topping Industry Charts

Statistics show that Taco Bell served around 4.8 million more cars through drive-thru lanes as compared to the data they had of the same month last year, though in-house dining declined by 8%.

One drive-thru lane will be used traditionally with the drive-through customers, while the other lane will be used solely for pick-up purposes where consumers can order in advance through an app and pick it up for a faster and more efficient process. Other food establishments are quickly following suit, including Shake Shack, Starbucks, and Chipotle. 

The mindset of contactless pick-up of food also utilizes the previously jam-packed parking spots for pick-up services, including building indoor shelves to claim advanced orders. Depending on the demand, the space for indoor services may be significantly reduced.

Treating Their Customers

To keep up with the demand, food establishments like Taco Bell will also redesign their kitchen to go digital and keep up with more online orders and deliver them in whatever means the customers are more convenient to pick up their food.

Customers who order and pick up food using Taco Bell’s App will also earn more points in its loyalty program, which offers a wide array of benefits for its most loyal customers! Taco Bell and other food establishments plan to reinvent their buildings in the city and the more remote parts of the United States. The timeline for these projects is projected to be completed in 2021.

Nacho Ordinary Business

Indeed, the pandemic has changed the culture of humankind and surfaced many weaknesses in the system. Many establishments should be adaptable to these trying times, and while it can be initially challenging, with a little creativity, businesses can once again thrive amidst the pandemic.

Food establishments like Taco Bell have the right idea of coping with market demands to execute a flawless customer experience where consumers experience a hassle-free transaction with their favorite nachos and burritos to boot!  

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Business

A Small Business Survival Plan for Dealing With the Coronavirus

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Although entrepreneurs have already been experiencing these challenges for months now, there has been little conversation about possible solutions. Here, we will tackle some of the most common issues faced by entrepreneurs and points of action that could help your business stay afloat through these trying times.

Managing Your Cash Flow

A primary concern of small business owners is how they will manage their operations costs, considering the drop in revenue. The unpredictability on when the crisis will end adds to the difficulty of planning your cash flow. Here are some actions to consider for you to be on top of your finances:

  • List your fixed costs and variable costs. From there, you will be able to determine which ones are the highest priority that you will need to settle to keep the business operational. If possible, indicate the due dates so that you can schedule your expenses appropriately.
  • Cut down on unnecessary expenses for items that are not profitable 
  • Consider serving furloughs to your employees, especially if you won’t be requiring them to go to the office or can reduce their work schedule. If this won’t suffice, the worst-case scenario is to do layoffs or terminations.
  • Come up with new products or services that could drive revenue
  • Explore business loans and other resources

Transitioning to Online Sales and Marketing

Keeping your customers is key to be able to successfully endure the crisis. A lot of small businesses have now learned to maximize social media platforms to communicate and engage with their loyal customers.

This is a great way of maintaining relationships with the people who patronize your brand. You can also start doing e-mail newsletters if you haven’t yet. It will keep them informed of your latest products, services, and important announcements. 

Online platforms can also help you expand your reach to new markets. Get creative and explore new ways of communicating and selling! By being active online, more people will become aware that your business is highly accessible and may consider trying out your products or services if they haven’t yet.

Lastly, you may want to consider arranging product deliveries or curb pick-ups. This could answer to concerns on physical distancing. Both your employees and customers would appreciate the efforts you put in place to keep them safe.

Business Operations from Home

Currently, almost all small businesses require their employees to work from home for the first time. This could mean that you won’t be able to monitor your team as closely as you used to.

The first step is to establish guidelines for everyone in terms of productivity, work schedule, and the technology they need to function. You may need to come up with new templates to keep track of their output or utilize office apps that will help you manage better. 

There may be tasks that they need to do physically, on-site, or in the office. It is best to determine which ones can be accomplished remotely and which ones cannot. This will allow you to take into consideration who among your employees will be able to be on-location should the need arise.

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