WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll (Episode 95)

On today’s WJR Business Beat, Jeff shares insights from a recently released U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife Coronavirus Impact Poll. The survey shows that two thirds of small businesses are concerned about having to close again or stay closed if there is a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

Jeff shares more details from the survey, as well as three recommendations for small business owners and entrepreneurs who continue to battle for their businesses.

Tune in to the WJR Business Beat for more: 

Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Are you an entrepreneur with a great story to share? If so, contact us at editor@startupnation.com and we’ll feature you on an upcoming segment of the WJR Business Beat!

WJR Business Beat Transcript

Good morning, Paul.

Small business owners across America are confronting such uncertainty. We’re all so eager to return to some kind of normal and while that hope fuels us to keep pressing forward, it can also cause compromised decisions about when and how to reopen our businesses. And the price for being hasty is high as we are all now seeing the number of cases swell in many parts across the U.S.

And it begs the question about whether or not we are now dealing with this dreaded second wave of this crisis predicted to be worse than the first. Where is all of this going? When will it end? Will what we knew as normal now be changed, may be gone forever?

According to a survey released earlier this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife that focused on the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on small businesses and their owners, two thirds of small business owners indicate that they are now concerned about having to close again, possibly, or even worse, just simply close permanently if the current pace of cases keeps up or even worse, trends upwards, once the fall season begins.

But entrepreneurs are a hardy bunch and many are fighting hard to do all we can to hunker down and prepare to try to ride this out and get to the other side of it.

And here are some key things that I see entrepreneurs doing and recommend that all of us do as small business owners as we take on this fight.

Number one, don’t panic about the uncertainty. Put simply, we face an uncertain future. That’s a given. Don’t focus on the long view right now. We simply cannot know what life and business will be like a year or two from now. Rather, take it day by day. Focus on survival, steady as she goes.

Two, be flexible. Be nimble. Pivot as required. The business you were in six months ago will be different from the one going forward. This is a given. Those that survive will be the ones that adapt to the new circumstances we all face.

Lastly, know that you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. We’re all confronting tough challenges, confusion, uncertainty and fear over what the future will bring.

Hang in there, entrepreneurs. We’re a hardy bunch and we’re going to do our best to get through this. And if we take it day by day, take it slowly and methodically and don’t panic along the way, we’re going to get through this. We’re going to get through this together.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of StartupNation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

The post WJR Business Beat with Jeff Sloan: Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll (Episode 95) appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

How do I find a technical co-founder to help execute my idea? I have an idea for a website in the real estate field. I have a non-technical business development background and no funds.

I know that this post reads like an /r/startups circlejerk, but I have a business idea for a real estate website that I've developed over the past several months and believe that there's a good fit in the market for it. I have no technical skills and would like to find a co-founder to help me execute it.

I'm willing to give up ~50% equity to the right person, but I cannot offer any money at this point. I do have a clear path to monetization, but that will be several months after the first version of the idea is up-and-running.

Where do I turn for talent that would be interested in working on a project like this? I know it's hard because developers are in-demand and are compensated well.

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Plant Based Meat Industry Evolutionary Analysis Till 2027 | Including COVID-19 Pandemic Business Impact – Owned

Plant Based Meat Industry Evolutionary Analysis Till 2027 | Including COVID-19 Pandemic Business Impact  Owned
“sweden startups when:7d” – Google News

8 Step Process for Evaluating Software Solutions for Your Business

Entrepreneurs are wise to make use of software to automate and streamline day-to-day processes. But knowing which software tool to choose is challenging.


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Here’s a process that will help you decide which tools to add to your list of options and how to evaluate the ones you’re considering.

Decide who will lead the evaluation process

When you’re selecting new software, it’s a good idea to designate who on your team will lead the effort. This person may not be the final decision-maker, but he or she will be responsible for establishing the process for evaluating the software and for collecting testing data. He or she will also solicit input for defining goals and will present the findings along with a recommendation.

Identify which problems you’re aiming to solve

Before any evaluation begins, you need to determine what existing issues you’re looking to solve or what processes you’re seeking to streamline or automate.

Also, decide what your goals are for this new software. Do you need protection from a cybersecurity attack? Are you looking to reduce the time it takes to process your payroll? You need to know your goals in order to find the right software to achieve them.

Identify what users need to accomplish

Once you know the problems you want to solve, it’s time to talk with your team members who will be using the software. Create a list of requirements for the software and make sure you clearly distinguish between needs and wants in a prioritized list, as it will come into play when making the final decision.

Also, consider integration capabilities and whether or not your top picks will work with your current platforms and workflows. This new technology won’t be used in a vacuum and even the best options available won’t stand up if they don’t fit with your current processes.


Related: 13 Digital Tools Every New Business Needs

Research and create a list of possible solutions

Find out what technology solutions are available to solve your existing problems or provide opportunities for improvement. Consider targeted solutions that focus on a particular problem or process, as well as all-in-one types of technology that will solve for not only the target problem but will also improve other processes or boost automation. Identify the pros and cons, especially focusing on integration capabilities and the flexibility of the software to scale with you as your company grows. Also, be sure to look at training and customer support options.

Narrow your options

In some cases, you may find several solutions that meet your needs. If that’s the case, you need to select a manageable number to investigate. Narrow down to five or fewer top picks based on the functionality and the fit, making sure that the chosen options meet the requirements you’ve just prioritized.

Take a look at reviews from current users and see what types of functionality they highlight as well as their overall experience. Is the feedback consistent among users? Do the reviews vary by user type?

This may tell you something useful. Consider both functionality and cost in your analysis and factor in up-front and future costs. For example, if the pricing is based on the number of users, you’ll want to consider this additional cost as your company grows.

Designate your testers

Select a couple of people on your team to go through a trial to fully experiment with the software. A demo is fine to start narrowing down options, but a trial is best for thorough testing and will provide more time to explore.

Supply each user with a form to help them map what they liked, didn’t like, what functionality is missing, and whether they would anticipate adopting the software if it was purchased. Ask them to consider how user-friendly the tool is and the effectiveness of the help options available. Make sure they replicate the same task with each of the options you’ve narrowed down to make sure they have a true apples-to-apples comparison as the basis for their feedback.


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Collect the feedback

Once your team has completed all of their trials, collate the information and identify the best options. It’s helpful to create a grid with the top priorities and the aggregated feedback collected for each, as well as some comments with overall opinions.

Evaluate the options and make your decision

With the feedback grid and comments from the testers in hand, make a final decision. Whomever you selected to lead the evaluation effort should present his or her recommendation and the basis for their choice based on the collected data.

Early-stage startups typically have limited funds, so it’s especially important to use all resources wisely. Using technology to improve process efficiency through automation is a great way to make wise use of resources and having a methodical approach to evaluating options will help you make the best decisions for your business.

The post 8 Step Process for Evaluating Software Solutions for Your Business appeared first on StartupNation.

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Spotlight on N. Macedonia: 10% income tax, high business ease and in the heart of the Balkans

How does it sound to start a business or scale up in a country where locals do their best to make you feel at home? If we add here the fact that Skopje is not only home to a close-knit startup community but also ranks first for cost-effectiveness in the Financial Times 2020/21 ‘Tech cities of the future’ ranking, the prospect of starting up in North Macedonia becomes even more inviting. 

In this article I will provide you with local knowledge about the country’s business environment, including the necessary steps for setting up and running a business. 

Macedonian business culture in a nut shell 

The booming startup community nurtures values which speak for empowerment, support, learning, and fast growth. 

Macedonians are warm, polite, and welcoming to foreigners. In their communications, they are usually direct, and don’t hesitate to speak up. At a business meeting, you will be welcomed with a smile and a strong handshake (unless it’s a pandemic). In most circumstances, they are proud of their country and will do their best to represent it in the brightest way. Local partners, collaborators, and employees will usually invest their time and effort not to only deliver high-end services but to show you around and help you immerse in the Macedonian culture. 

Moreover, an increasing number of big companies and startups are seeing the importance of social impact, and Skopje has witnessed an expansion of environmentally and pet-friendly initiatives and apps. Moreover, businesses are becoming more socially responsible than ever before and help vulnerable groups in various innovative ways.

The rise of startups in the country is dictating new trends, where flexible working hours, casual dress code, and working environments with many perks are available. Moreover, working remotely or from the comfort of a co-working space is becoming the new-normal and many founders say that they plan to stay remote even after the pandemic is over. The minimum number of paid vacation days is 20. There are 11 national holidays and a certain number of religious holidays applying to members of different religions.

Speaking of punctuality, Macedonians cannot brag about being punctual like the Germans or the Swiss, although many people are trying to change this. You shouldn’t be surprised if a meeting or an event is 15-20 minutes late. Buses and trains are rarely on time either. Luckily, more and more young people start to rely on bikes and e-scooters.

Team buildings are quite popular among startups and IT companies, which have ‘exploring North Macedonia’ as a task on their to-do list.

Conditions and benefits of opening a company in North Macedonia

Ease of doing business 

In the World Bank’s latest rankings, North Macedonia is ranked 17th in the world for the ease of doing business. This high ranking reflects that the regulatory environment is more conducive to the opening and operation of a local firm. The country scores over 80/100 for trading across borders (93.9), starting a business (88.6), paying taxes (84.7), dealing with construction permits (83.5), protecting minority investors (82), and getting electricity (81). Moreover, for its ease of doing business, North Macedonia holds the best position in the Balkans and exceeds countries such as Estonia (18th place), Finland (20th place), and Germany (22nd place).

Multilingual and highly-skilled affordable talent

Even though North Macedonia is a small country with a population of only 2 million, it has a large pool of educated and highly-skilled professionals, with a satisfactory number in the field of ICT. The country is awash with various learning, networking, and career growth initiatives and events, which only show the aspirations of the country’s talent to keep on track with the most developed European startup communities. Moreover, there is a growing number of private education centres, in addition to the existing universities, which are teaching and training staff on the newest skills required by tech companies and startups. In terms of the English language, North Macedonia is known to have a high rate of English proficiency. If we add to the bargain the fact that there is a great quality-price ratio, it’s no wonder that many foreigners decide to run their businesses from this sunny country.

One of the main challenges though is hiring senior developers. On one hand, there has been a boom of IT outsourcing companies and, on the other,  the trend of brain draining is present. As a result, the companies try to offer as many perks and benefits to the software engineers as possible to attract and keep them. Luckily, the number of students in the field has been enormously increasing and the situation is changing. 

Low cost of living

North Macedonia is extremely attractive to international entrepreneurs due to its low cost of living. Take Skopje, for example; this capital doesn’t lag behind other European cities in terms of the lifestyle and high-quality commodities it offers, and yet, all is affordable for much less than in almost all other European startup hubs. Other cities such as Bitola and Ohrid, which are abound in cultural heritage and natural beauties, are even cheaper. To provide some numbers, you can rent a modern apartment in the Skopje city centre from €250 a month and, as one German visitor once said to me, you can get the “best meal ever” for only €10. 

Supportive startup community

Skopje is the biggest startup hub in the country, with several other cities showing great potential too. However, regardless of whether you are in Skopje or Bitola, the startup community is extremely supportive and moves at a fast speed. New co-working spaces, associations, hubs, and accelerations emerge continually and, most importantly, new founders are welcomed with the warmness of the existing players who clearly understand the importance of empowerment. For entrepreneurs who want to test the waters first, there are programmes such as Entrepreneurs in Residence, which have enabled a number of foreign entrepreneurs to get a first-hand experience of the business climate.

Favourable tax environment

One of the biggest advantages of running a business in North Macedonia is the favourable tax environment. The country has one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the world which is only 10%. The personal tax is also 10%, while the General Income Tax is 18%. Moreover, the government offers a 10-year tax-free operation for investments made in the Free Economic Zones where highly productive clean manufacturing activities are concentrated and new technologies are developed.

The growth of ICT and its key verticals

ICT is the fastest-growing sector and it plays an important role in the economy as a provider of jobs and generator of exports. Hence, North Macedonia has a solid ground for startupers interested in launching a business and conquering the world from a small but supportive country.

Verticals such as e-commerce, digital media, fintech, gaming, blockchain, IoT, tech in agriculture, and edtech are evermore present in the country.

Favourable geographical location and time zone

As a country located in the heart of the Balkan peninsula, North Macedonia benefits from a strategic geographical position at the crossroads of two main European transport corridors linking Central Europe to the Aegean and the Black Sea. The country has two airports, one in Skopje and other in Ohrid, and it is a 2-hour flight away from most of the European cities. Furthermore, Skopje is just a 2-hour drive from Thessaloniki, which is the main port hub for the Balkans and Southeast Europe and connects Europe with Asia and China. 

North Macedonia falls within the Central European Time zone (GMT + 1) along with cities such as Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. 

A downside here is the lack of good transport infrastructure which often impedes the businesses from networking and distribution of products and makes the travelling less pleasant. 

Leisure opportunities: great travel destinations and outdoor activities

It is not unusual for foreign founders who run businesses in North Macedonia to combine their business trips with some leisure. In addition to the lively nightlife, people don’t miss the opportunity to visit Ohrid, a lake city which once had 365 churches and has been referred to as a “Jerusalem of the Balkans”. Alongside its attractive beaches and medieval heritage, people often jump on different tours such as riding horses in the mountainous village of Lazaropole, paragliding in Krusevo, skiing in Mavrovo, or cave exploring in Makedonski Brod. If you are here for business, don’t hesitate to ask a local to show you around (they will gladly be your guide), or just check this local startup for more ideas. 

Setting up a company in North Macedonia 

Open a company in 1 day

Just like in most European countries, the limited liability company (LLC) is a preferred business structure, especially when it comes to startups. The process requires only one day for completion and you don’t need to be present in the country. All you need is to find an authorised agent. The agent submits the required documents signed by you in the Central Registry and the company is established. A North Macedonia LLC can be entirely foreign-owned, with no restrictions on foreign shareholders. 

One should bear in mind that the minimum share capital for this entity is set at €5K and can be deposited in a Macedonian bank account. 

First steps for registering a company

  • Pick up a name
  • Choose an address – you can use the address of a rented/owned office or you can obtain an address from companies that offer virtual office services 
  • Choose a CEO and split the equity
  • Choose an authorized agent of the Central Trade Registry (attorney at law or accountant) to submit your application
  • Get all necessary documents ready and signed

Before you start any activities with your company you need to apply for a company seal, activate a bank account, register for VAT, and apply for registration of the foreign investment within the Central Registry. Additional administrative activities may be required as well, and it is always a good idea to request a list with all required documents and steps from your agent. Most of the banks offer online banking, so before you make the choice make sure to do your research and see which bank would best fit your requirements. And, finding a good accountant or accounting company is a must.

If you want to get a work or residence permit, the procedure takes up to 15 days and you can consult your agent about all the requested documents. 

Just bear in mind that although the Macedonian government is working on digitalising its services, many of them are still not online. 

Supporting organisations

If you decide to start or expand your business in North Macedonia, these are some of the supporting organisations you may want to check.

Another tip is to search LinkedIn for like-minded professionals based in Skopje – they will undoubtedly give you a heads up.

For more information, check out our article North Macedonia: Skopje’s startup ecosystem at a glance.

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