Michigan Chronicle Small Business TOOLKIT 2022

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SMALL

Business TOOLKIT 2022

The Great Return to

In-Person

Employment Presented By

Employee Retention: Keeping Workers and Customers During Tough Business

Supporting Sponsor


The path forward through the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy, small businesses are continuing to grapple with staffing shortages, supply chain disruptions and higher costs. But the pandemic has showcased the resolve, adaptability, and resourcefulness of entrepreneurs and small businesses owners in Metro Detroit. To help support the resolve, adaptability, and resourcefulness of small businesses owners, and National Small Business Month, the Michigan Chronicle continues its commitment to the small business community with the Michigan Chronicle Small Business TOOLKIT 2022. Now in in its third year the Michigan Chronicle’s Small Business TOOLKIT 2022 serves as a road map to help small businesses chart their path forward. The toolkit will provide tips and advice on planning for a range of contingencies, as well as guidance on issues especially critical to not only small business, but to entrepreneurs as well. The Small Business TOOLKIT 2022 resource guide aims to put information and resources at the fingertips of small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them successfully chart a path forward through COVID-19: • Get ready for increased foot traffic • Take time to get serious about your business’s tech capabilities • Build trust with customers • Small Business Loans and Grants Stay Positive, Focused, Healthy and Safe!

Hiram E. Jackson

Publisher, Michigan Chronicle Chief Executive Officer, Real Times Media

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The Great Return to

In-Person

Employment By Megan Kirk

B

usiness leaders across the country have dealt with the woes of the pandemic for more than two years. Now, as the endemic looms on the horizon, business owners are welcoming employees back for in-person work. However, the pandemic introduced a new way of employment and business owners are looking to incorporate new ways of functioning to help employees navigate the new worklife balance. March 2020 helped to create a shift in employment across the country. Business leaders at one point were faced with the hardship of pivoting their businesses and employees to work from home. Now, as pandemic numbers fall and COVID cases continue to decrease, bosses

are implementing plans to welcome employees back in-person for operations. Yet, many wonder what lessons business owners have learned since the pandemic began. The Great Resignation grabbed national headlines as many employees left their places of employment in search of respite from the pandemic and the daily demands of in-person work. Now, a new sentiment -- The Great Return -- is being discussed widely amongst employees and business owners. GoodHire, an entity used for employment and background screening services, conducted a survey of managers across the country resulting in 75 percent of managers surveyed want workers in the office despite proof that working from home has the potential to produce the same outcome. “The survey results emphasize the

disconnect between how managers feel about managing remote workers, and the productivity their teams are maintaining in remote work settings. Clearly, managers are struggling,” said Max Wesman, GoodHire’s chief operating officer, in a press release. “To fully benefit from a hybrid or remote work structure, leaders need to support their managers and implement the right training, tools and programs to create a healthy environment for them to engage with their people wherever they’re located. Organizations that find a work arrangement that satisfies the majority of their workforce will benefit in the areas of recruitment, productivity, employee satisfaction and retention.” Despite vaccination rates and the continual decline in coronavirus cases, employees continue to push for the ability to maintain the established order created by the pandemic. For employees, the return to work means an adjustment to their everyday schedules. Becoming accustomed to saving time, money and gas, employees believe the decision to return to work should rest in their hands. “If you must go to the office, I believe it should still be optional. I am currently working a hybrid schedule at my company, which allows me to be in the office Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday. It saves me gas because I don’t have to come into the office every single day,” said Breanna Turmon, a loan coor-

dinator for a mortgage company. “My company was one of the first to allow everyone to work from home during the beginning of the pandemic. However, recently all employees are being given the option of coming in on rotating days as part of a hybrid schedule.” During the pandemic, employees have been able to prove that working from home is a viable option for certain job skills. With production at an all-time high, employees question if jobs will force The Great Return. “I think employers should have learned during the pandemic that not everyone needs to come into the office every day, and it’s allowed employees a chance to have more of a work-home life balance,” said Turmon. The option to work from home has given employees leverage in their fight to preserve one of the last benefits afforded by the pandemic. Demanding a more relaxed work life, employees offer suggestions to continue work-from-home efforts. “Employers should allow the work from home option to continue in the future due to the positive effects that it has had on the company,” said Turmon. “Many people prefer not to have to deal with the stress of going into the office every day. Also, it allows me to appreciate my co-workers more when I can visit them in the office.”

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Raising Customer

Engagement

By Megan Kirk Despite the last few years of tumultuous economic times for small businesses, the industry is still thriving and seeing advances as the pandemic begins to subside. Though not back from the brink of financial hardship, many small businesses have begun to rebuild and reestablish their businesses due, in large part, to customer support. Across the country, communities experienced a massive economic hit as the pandemic stripped critical businesses forcing many employees to lose their jobs and their financial security. As businesses begin to slowly re-emerge, customers are being held as a key player in the revitalization of the sector. Despite financial challenges, product shortages and other business-related pitfalls,

customers remained true and steadfast helping to keep many enterprises afloat during the pandemic. Customer engagement is one of the key drivers to a successful business. Retaining and building a loyal customer base could mean the difference between either a successful or an ineffective business. Post-pandemic, companies are looking to draw new customers in to help expand their reach while maintaining loyalty to established customer bases. To successfully attract new customers and maintain faithfuls, here are some tips: 1. Stay in touch: customers are always searching for updates on their favorite businesses. Establishing a method of communication can help to inform existing clients and customers of changes, updates and inventory. Email blasts can be one of the most effective tools in

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reaching your base. Creating fun and innovative email blasts can help customers to re-engage with the business and stay abreast of the company’s advances. Text message blasts also work in the same way and provides a more immediate and direct method of communication. 2. Utilize social media: in the digital age, social media has become an invaluable tool in expanding customer bases and reaching audiences around the world. Establishing a social media voice and updating the page regularly will help to keep clients engaged as they will always see the brand’s name in their feeds. Paying to boost posts can also provide an additional platform to be seen. By using paid posts, advertisers, newcomers and existing fan bases will be able to check the business page for products and messages from the brand’s owner. Use social media to display important

messages and keep users engaged. 3. Host a rebranding event: allow customers to join a virtual party or provide a disclosed location where shoppers (and their friends) may be able to come out and support the business in person. A virtual setting allows for an unlimited number of customers to get in on the action. Alternatively, an intimate gathering can be used as a customer appreciation event thanking them for their loyalty to the brand. 4. Provide discounts and exclusivity: let’s face it, who does not love a discount? Shoppers also like the feel of exclusivity with offers of limited -edition merchandise or services. By offering moments for customers to partake, shoppers and utilizers of the business will be able to indulge while supporting the brand. 5. Allow for customer feedback: conversation works both ways and allowing customers to sound off on the things they do and do not like will allow for transparency in the business. It also allows owners the opportunity to tweak any aspect of their business for which customers may have a hard time. While in recovery, businesses may have holes in their business plans that can only be filled with customer feedback. By allowing customers the chance to communicate their ideas for the business, it creates an atmosphere of inclusion and may increase the chances for repeat customers. 6. Harness the power of word-ofmouth: still one of the most powerful marketing tools, word-of-mouth advertising helps to spread the knowledge of businesses quickly. Delivery of quality service and products to loyal customers is invaluable as they will help spread the word of the business. Many shoppers rely on personal experience to determine if they too will patronize a business. Rely on established customers to get the word out!


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2022

Small Business Trends to Look Out for in

By Mike Kappel This past year has gone by in the blink of an eye. Before we know it, 2022 will be here. And, you know what a new year means? A fresh start and a few new trends for businesses. So, what kind of trends should you keep on your radar for the coming year? Let me lay it all out for you.

Small business trends for 2022 New year, new business trends, am I right? It seems like every year there is something that’s all the rage in business. Some trends stay, while others come and go. And in the case of 2022, many trends are likely staying (ahem, remote work). But, experts anticipate a few new ones, too. Although I’m no psychic and can’t predict exactly which trends will become popular in the upcoming year, I do have some hunches, thanks to my 30-plus years of entrepreneurial experience. So, let’s take a look at eight small business trends for 2022 I think will we’ll see in the year ahead. 1. E-commerce businesses will thrive Many trends sprouted in the last year or so due to businesses needing to adapt to survive the pandemic. One trend I’ve seen that will continue to be strong in 2022 and beyond? E-commerce. E-commerce businesses that sell products and services online are becoming huge. Why? Customers can easily and safely shop from home. And, business owners don’t have to worry about having a brick-and-mortar location. Not to mention, business owners can steer clear of some overhead costs; they can do all of their business online. It’s truly a winwin. If you’re thinking about starting a business but are leery about opening a storefront, starting an e-commerce business may be the perfect new trend to follow. 2. Remote work will continue to be popular It’s no secret that remote work took the world by storm in the last year and a half. Nearly half of employees worked from home in 2021 due to the pandemic. And if you experimented with remote work like I did at my company, you probably found that it has quite a few perks for both your business and employees (or as I like to call them, “coworkers”). Chances are, remote work isn’t going any-

where anytime soon. But, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I see it as a blessing. Remote work has taught employers like you and me a lot, like how offering work-from-home options can:

■ Credit and debit cards

■ Boost productivity

As technology advances, more cashless payment options will become available, which means your business may have no choice but to keep up to satisfy customers. In addition to accepting standard payments, consider also adding a cashless payment option or two to your list. That way, you can keep up with the times while also giving your loyal customers a few options when it comes time to pay.

■ Attract and retain top talent (anywhere!) ■ Improve work-life balance ■ Because remote work was such a big hit the last two years, I see it sticking around next year (and maybe even for good). 3. Cashless payments will become standard for businesses At one point in time, cash was king. But, move over cash, because there’s a new trend in town taking over payments. That’s right—I’m talking about cashless payments. Cashless payments can include a variety of payment methods:

■ Mobile or digital wallets (think touchfree technology) ■ Payment apps

4. Video marketing will continue to grow in popularity

will continue to next year) is video marketing. So for my old-school marketing friends, what in the world does video marketing include? It can be anything from videos on your website to using social media platforms (e.g., TikTok) to promote your products or services. Video marketing is packed with perks and opportunities for business owners. Don’t believe me? Approximately 84% of people say a brand’s video convinced them to buy a product or service. And, 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support.

So if you want to take your marketing up to the next level in 2022, considAs a business owner, you likely know er incorporating videos into your marthat marketing techniques are ever keting strategy. Test out using different changing. One day a marketing strategy platforms, like Facebook and TikTok, to is in, and the next day it’s out. One mar- market your company using videos (and keting trend that’s taken over (and that don’t be afraid to have fun with it!). May 2022 | Small Business Toolkit | Michigan Chronicle 5


Build It (Company Culture) and They Will Come By Sherri Kolade

tion and precision.

It takes a lot of work to continuously build up a business -- but how does one’s company culture grow in line, too?

“Quality products, innovative marketing and booming sales are all valuable factors in measuring the success of a company. But who makes it possible for these successes to happen? Dedicated, happy employees who are committed to their organization’s values and mission,” notes the article. On the other hand, employees who are lacking motivation and satisfaction might not be interested in pushing along the company’s culture. “Employees are the backbone of your operation, and if they are unsatisfied, other areas of your business will suffer too. Conversely, a workplace where employees are engaged, feel they are supported by management, and can collaborate with other departments will not only help you retain your top employees, it will help you attract new talent.”

According to the Harvard Business Review, company culture, a shared belief system where employees have similar values, shows an “organization’s values and beliefs through shared assumptions and group norms within the workplace,” according to an article. “Company culture can include several elements within the business, including the work environment, company mission statement and core values, management style and workplace ethics. Company culture could be deliberate or come about naturally,” the article noted. The benefits of strong company culture are many, and can include employee loyalty and other benefits like: ■ High employee retention; ■ Better brand image; ■ Increased productivity; and ■ Good teamwork and morale. Business News Daily notes that improving company culture can be effective when implemented properly with inten-

A recent international Glassdoor study noted that when searching for a new job, 77 percent of respondents would consider a company’s culture before applying. Also, American millennials are more likely to care about work culture over salary (65 percent) than those age 45 and older (52 percent), according to the article. Eighty-nine percent of adults polled

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told researchers that it was necessary for employers to “have a clear mission and purpose.” Michelle Berry, owner of Evolution Training & Development, LLC, told the Michigan Chronicle that as her own boss (who provides career development coaching, corporate training and more) it’s no easy feat to create and maintain the culture of a company. “It’s all about relationships,” Berry said, adding that building company culture helps keep people motivated, while employees need to “have some ownership in what they are doing.” “I always say learn your personality colors in terms of working with people,” she said adding that she “thrives” in a positive workplace. “Toxic workplaces I don’t deal with -- can’t handle it.” Some tips on fostering an even better company culture include: Do a company culture audit April Armstrong, CEO at AHA Insight, says that multiple employees should be hands-on with conversations about company culture. “Diverse perspectives need a voice in shaping that culture,” Armstrong said.

“Really changing the culture … you need to model that accountability.” Understanding individual company culture Understand the varying types of company culture and where your company does well – and doesn’t do well – in these aspects. “It’s hard to typify company cultures,” Armstrong said in the article. “Cultures are an amalgamation of factors: environment, hierarchy, public versus private, decision-making processes, benefits and values.” According to greatplacetowork.com, organizational culture or company culture at the root helps employees communicate with each other, make decisions, hire, promote, let go, celebrate employees, and more. “Every company does each of these things, but as in most things, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it,” according to the article, adding that company culture is typically something one can feel, even as an outsider. “Company culture is important because it directly affects company performance on key metrics including finances, employee retention, innovation and customer service.”


Employee Retention:

Keeping Workers and Customers During Tough Business By Megan Kirk Businesses across the country continue to suffer the harsh blows delivered by the coronavirus pandemic. As numbers begin to creep up, entrepreneurs are continuing their efforts to keep their doors open as well as their employees and customers safe. As the third summer with COVID creeps in, owners now have a better handle on their business as well as the steps needed to keep it thriving. For some businesses, the pandemic meant the end of a dream. For others, COVID provided an opportunity to rebuild and rebrand. Minique Rice, owner of The Sugar Parlor, a hair removal studio, was not deterred by the pandemic, however, it did cause a shift in how the business prepared for its client base. Keeping the business afloat was a main priority through safety and prevention. “Because we are in the service industry where you have to actually come in person to receive services our workflow pretty much stayed the same. However, what changed was the preparation. We had to implement safety measures like checking temps and doing questionnaires to ensure that everyone stays safe,” said Rice. “This was something to get used to but because it created comfort knowing everyone

that enters is safe it was something that the team welcomed openly.” As masks became a part of everyday life, business owners were faced with a new challenge. Aside from keeping staff and customers COVID-free, employees were also charged with building and maintaining meaningful relationships with established patrons and newcomers. Despite the mask’s ability to help slow the spread, it also caused less face time with the clientele. “The other thing is now the masks that are required to be worn causes a barrier. So, our team has had to get creative and intentional about truly building those connections despite the hindrance. It’s imperative we connect with our clients due to the nature of the service we provide. They have to trust us to feel comfortable and my team has done a great job at that,” said Rice. Some businesses chose to use the pandemic as a time to rebuild. Allowing for a complete revitalization of staff, operations and functionality, businesses were able to pause and take time to restructure and even pivot. “The decision to revamp was honestly made a long time ago. I didn’t expect to do it during a pandemic obviously. However, it was

something I have always planned to do. I just needed it to be the right time. We actually started our renovation before the pandemic. Everything was then halted when the pandemic actually hit. Looking back, nothing was really right at that time like I thought it was,” said Rice. “Things weren’t really going well before it was halted. So, once we had that window of opportunity it was only right [that] we proceeded with what we initially started. Everything fell into place with all the right people and it just went from there. It just all happened.” Employees help to complete any small business. Yet, the pandemic caused a major shift for workers across many sectors. Low pay, high stress and the instability of the job market created an atmosphere for employees to jump ship. Fear was also a catalyst for many employees leaving their companies. However, to maintain employees, one business owner suggests understanding as one of the ways to keep valued employees in-house. “I would say the biggest thing would be to listen to your customers and listen to your team. Understand what the concerns are

and whatever you can do to create a sense of comfort, do it. You have to start with listening first though. People are afraid and for good reason, so if you can ease their concerns then people will be willing to come to work or come to support,” said Rice. Work-from-home options also helped employees to feel valued as the pandemic forced a new way of viewing employment. As virtual school, caregiving and cases ramped up, employers who were able to provide workers options that fit the ever-changing landscape of everyday life saw a boost in both morale and productivity. This led to a larger retention of employees for some businesses. “I think the other side of this is lots of us have gotten comfortable being home working. Especially knowing we can be just as productive if not more. So, I think in this case finding a way to create balance between the two when possible would be a good way to ease people back in,” said Rice. “Also, thinking of creative ways to make it rewarding to come to work. Events, company paid lunch, contests, or simply motivating and encouraging people to get up and out by reminding them it’s healthy to get out of the house.”

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Prioritizing DEI in Business The Detroit Regional Chamber is helping employers prioritize and implement DEI in the workplace. It is proven that companies that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) flourish the most in today’s diversified and globalized business environment. Businesses that actively promote DEI within their organizations often benefit from improved employee retention, increased diversity among their customer base, and sustained innovation and creativity. This makes sense, as a diverse team can better identify opportunities and solve complex problems. However, many businesses still struggle with creating an equitable and inclusive environment — one of the biggest reasons being not understanding what DEI means. To help businesses in the Detroit region better understand DEI and learn how to implement it internally and externally while promoting a more inclusive economy, the Detroit Regional Chamber offers educational content and growth and development resources through its Racial Justice and Economic Equity initiative. The initiative features a dedicated website, blog, recurring newsletter, town halls, and events.

Blog and Recurring Newsletter The dedicated blog and newsletter promote thought leadership articles, events, opportunities such

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as grants and competitions, and news about organizations that have impacted the region through their DEI work. Blog and newsletter content also reflect timely topics and periods of recognition, such as Hispanic Heritage Month, National Black Business Month, and Women’s History Month.

Data-Based Research and Resources As a trusted source of business data in the Detroit region, the Chamber offers timely economic and social data as a key part of the Racial Justice and Economic Equity initiative. This data provides insight into areas of improvement in which the regional and statewide business community can work to develop solutions for a more equitable economy. It can be found on the initiative’s website and in the Chamber’s signature State of the Region and State of Education reports. In addition, the Chamber has compiled best practices, toolkits, and data-based resource guides from regional and national partners for businesses to learn how to navigate racial justice issues and establish more equitable workplace practices and environments.

Town Halls and Events To help businesses expand their network and stay

updated with what is happening in the region, the Chamber hosts more than 60 annual events, including ones that take a deeper dive into equity-related issues. This includes the 2021 Black Leaders Town Hall Series, which celebrated a historical retrospective of diverse leaders in the region, and the ongoing Blackand Diverse-Owned Business Series, which helps small, medium, and large diverse-owned businesses in Southeast Michigan grow. Through the moderated town hall series, businesses gained insight into regional work to achieve racial justice and greater equity. Through the Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series, businesses receive resources and gain insight from leaders about access to capital, procurement, digital divide, policy needs, and talent – areas that often hinder the growth and development of diverse-owned businesses. The importance of racial justice and equity in business cannot be understated. By understanding diverse communities’ unique challenges and needs, businesses can create a more equitable workplace and marketplace and gain a competitive economic edge. The Chamber encourages businesses and individuals to learn more at detroitchamber.com/equity.


Get connected to the people and resources you need to grow your small business.

Whether you’re just starting your business or looking to scale, the Detroit Regional Chamber offers what you need to succeed. Connect with the community and expand your network at 60+ annual events, including the Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series, market your business through exclusive member-only opportunities, and stay informed of regional news and information important to your business through the Racial Justice and Economic Equity newsletter, blog, town halls, and more.

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rom business deals to networking and beyond – how can companies and their employees keep advancing in the business world while enhancing their own reputations?

It starts with learning how to navigate soft skills efficiently. Soft skills are the non-trackable skills people have that can propel them to the next level in their careers, along with hard skills (trackable achievements), too. “The key differences between hard skills and soft skills are how they are gained and put to use in the workplace,” according to an article from Indeed.com. “Hard skills are often gained through education or specific training. They include competencies like how to use a certain machine, software or another tool. Soft skills are more often seen as personality traits you may have spent your whole life developing. They are called upon when you manage your time, communicate with other people or confront a difficult situation for the first time.” While both skill sets are needed at work, soft skills have their time to shine through personality traits like leadership, communication and time management, according to Indeed. “Soft skills are personal habits and traits that shape how you work, on your own and with others,” the article added. “Effective communication, for example, is a key soft skill many employers seek. Some others include dependability, effective teamwork and active listening. Soft skills are essential to your career and as you search for jobs.” Scott Mautz (who had a two-decade career in middle management at Procter & Gamble) authored a new book, “Leading from the Middle: A Playbook for Managers to Influence Up, Down, and Across the Organization.” Here are some of his tips on improving soft skills like interpersonal management in a company: How do you Come Across?

What Soft Skills Are Needed to Thrive in Business? By Sherri Kolade 10 Michigan Chronicle | Small Business Toolkit | May 2022

When speaking to your boss or others, it’s all in the approach and coming across professionally.

Some of the highest in-demand soft skills include: ■ Integrity ■ Dependability ■ Effective communication ■ Open-mindedness ■ Teamwork ■ Creativity ■ Problem-solving ■ Critical thinking ■ Adaptability ■ Organization ■ Willingness to learn ■ Empathy.

Giving Feedback to the Masses When giving feedback to employees it is important to give specifics without being generic and “bland,” along with options for how to correct the errors of their ways. “Telling someone they’re too analytical isn’t actionable,” according to the book. Giving specific reasons for what they did well and not so well is helpful. “You probably spent too much time and effort analyzing the ABC project and as a result, most of what you did never even got shared with management because it wasn’t very helpful.” Make it Count When correcting employees and helping people better themselves it’s helpful to think in proportion: for every piece of constructive criticism, people want five pieces of positive feedback. Although that is not always realistic, it can be helpful to take the compliment sandwich approach where there is a compliment, constructive feedback followed by a compliment. How to Manage Throughout the Organization When attempting to sway peers, and others, who you might not directly manage, think about the people in your work realm who have influenced you the most. Overall, improving soft skills goes a long way at work and elsewhere through the simplicity of choosing to work smart while building one’s brand efficiently. “No matter what we do, each instant contains infinite choices,” Dorotea Brandin, self-leadership coach and trainer, and catalyst for inner transformation said. “What we choose to think, to say or to hear creates what we feel in the present moment; it conditions the quality of our communication and in the end the quality of our everyday life. Beliefs and attitudes are made of thoughts. Negative thoughts can be changed and by doing so we create for ourselves more pleasant inner states and have a different impact on the people around us.”


The Pivot to E-Commerce New Business and New Ways to Pay

also evolved. Buy now, pay later options are expected to be one of the leading contenders in payment and is projected to be the world’s fastest-growing payment method both online and in-store through 2025. Now that more businesses are transitioning to online services, payment options from global contenders have begun to meet the demands of e-commerce pivots. Mastercard, together with several partners, was one of the first credit card companies to offer customers the ease of shopping online with buy now, pay later options “As demand for buy now, pay later solutions continues to grow, consumers have made it clear they want greater choice, flexibility and control in how they pay – wherever they shop,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, president of North America at Mastercard, in a press statement. “With our vast acceptance and reach, Mastercard is uniquely positioned to enable lenders and merchants to deliver seamless and secure BNPL experiences at scale. Our diverse new partners represent the versatility and agility of our BNPL program, and we’re excited to work together to make BNPL available to millions of consumers worldwide.” As many business owners move to online operations, companies like Shopify are helping to make the transition easier. With the surge of online business during the pandemic, online merchant platforms are seeing a large increase in business. Shopify’s total revenue in the first quarter of 2022 grew upwards of 22 percent leveraging more than $1.2 billion. This represents a two-year compound annual growth rate of 60 percent. To assist with Shopify’s platform in becoming one of the forward companies in e-commerce, the giant recently acquired Deliverr, Inc., a fulfillment technology provider.

By Megan Kirk The introduction of the internet helped to radically shift the way business is done. The later development of social media provided an easier way to reach audiences and expand business scope. Since the pandemic, many brick-andmortar businesses have had to pivot to an e-commerce style of operations that allows entrepreneurs to have more autonomy and flexibility in their business. According to a 2022 report from FIS, a leading provider of technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets firms globally, the world’s e-commerce

market is projected to grow more than 50 percent through 2025 to reach over $8 trillion in transaction value. Financial technology, or fintech, is helping to revolutionize the way online business is monetized and operated thus helping businesses of all sizes generate much needed revenue post-pandemic. Analyzing data from 2021, the report found the pivot to online business had a 13 percent growth in global e-commerce and a 13 percent growth in point-of-sale, or POS transaction value. These numbers help to reflect the steady recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even as more customers return to

the store, it is clear that there is no going back on the innovations we are seeing within fintech,” said Jim Johnson, head of Merchant Solutions at FIS, in a press release. “Consumers are now mirroring the way they shop online while they are at their favorite retailer, creating a more advanced blend of digital and physical payment options than we saw prior to the pandemic. The implications of this are significant for merchants, who now need to innovate and partner with a technology provider who can help them meet the diverse needs of modern-day consumers.” With the evolution of e-commerce business, paying for goods and services has

“While we’ve experienced massive macro shifts since the start of the pandemic, the one mainstay has been that Shopify is the commerce platform of choice for merchants in any environment, with the ability to support commerce on any surface,” said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s president. “This has earned Shopify significant merchant trust and the ability to help them with more parts of their business, which is why we are eager to bring Deliverr’s team and technology to our merchants.” The coronavirus offered a new perspective for business owners to shift the way they do business. As e-commerce heats up, the outlook for businesses will continue to grow with the times.

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them digitize their businesses, but private-sector and social-sector organizations can provide free technology services and managerial assistance. Free or subsidized installation, tech support and staff training can help Black-owned businesses acquire more digital capabilities and become more able to share this knowledge with other Black-owned businesses in their communities.” Black-owned bookstore Source Booksellers’ owner Janet Webster-Jones previously told the Michigan Chronicle that transitioning to online sales made a big difference in the business that she operates with her daughter – though she still likes the in-person touch. “Coming in person is much greater than an [online] buy-sell situation,” she said, adding that while she prefers in-person camaraderie and relationship building, the pandemic forced her hand to “quickly pivot” to online sales. The bookstore, located at 4240 Cass Ave., purposely chose to not go the online route beforehand but coming out on the other side, she has the best of both worlds.

Why It’s Time to Pivot Your Business By Sherri Kolade

Online

Businesses, it’s time to level up. Described as a “shift or turn in a new direction,” pivoting is a strong need for change in a company that is not only a strategic business move but could bring immeasurable benefits in the long run. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies had no choice but to shift into a new mindset or change their priorities to enable their businesses to thrive. Pivoting a company to an online market, while embracing adaptable technologies, is one of the many decisions that can help set up a business for success. TMS, a development hub for web applications, wrote that there are many ways company pivots develop, and many factors that can prompt a business pivot in addition to the shift to online. “A well-executed pivot can be inspiring to witness,” according to the article. “This

successful business strategy has helped dying corporations rise from the ashes. Pivots can have dramatic and highly profitable effects for small businesses too. These kinds of changes could be just what your customers are looking for.

“Business pivots involve a measure of risk. They require a balance of boldness and planning. The key is to keep part of the business stable and supported and part agile and moving. The most successful companies achieve this with bold, lateral thinking maneuvers.” Some pivots could be a change in a target customer market, distribution channel or pricing strategy, too, which could help online businesses “adapt to changing circumstances.” Thinking about shifting to the online marketplace? Forbes said it can be done easily, especially if it’s a small business. Here’s how: Use social media to your advantage and create (if you haven’t already) a business

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account and boost the company’s wares and image online. Tell customers how shopping online is a big benefit. Create a communication strategy announcing the change. Continue open communication channels with existing customers while bringing on new customers.

“That really kept us going,” she said of the over year-long experience. “The online store generated more [customers]. The pandemic changed everything [and] caused a lot of new ways of … thinking new action plans.” The Washington Post reported statistics of others who shared similar thoughts to preferring in-person business to online. Even though in the last couple of years there has been a dramatic turn in online shopping roughly 90 percent of U.S. commerce happens offline. “Small businesses, including restaurants, bookstores and yoga studios, have long earned their keep through brick-andmortar operations built on attracting customers to come in, gather, mingle and spend money,” the article noted while recognizing the pandemic (and endemic) is putting a slight dent in those numbers.

Add on online store/delivery or pickup to your current website

CNBC reported that retail returns increased to an average of 16.6 percent in 2021 in comparison to 10.6 percent a year ago, based on a survey by the National Retail Federation and Appriss Retail.

McKinsey & Company noted in an article that overcoming digital inequities (especially for Black businesses) is not the easiest thing to do.

That totals up to over $761 billion of merchandise that retailers think will end up back at stores and warehouses, according to the article.

“Digital capabilities will increase Black entrepreneurs’ share of opportunities, but the corresponding business services are long-unmet needs,” per the article. “Many Black-owned businesses lack the resources to hire service providers that can help

“As online sales increase, the return rate has also increased significantly, and I don’t think it’s a secondary problem anymore,” said Mehmet Sekip Altug, an associate business professor at George Mason University, in the article.

Build or upgrade your website with platforms like Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix.


Michigan’s Economy: Moving Up and Looking Forward Emerging from the challenges of global pandemic, Michiganders have demonstrated tremendous spirit and resilience – with Michigan’s economy growing stronger every day. Following the challenges of 2020 and 2021, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has shown that Michigan is equipped to create a more equitable, inclusive and resilient economy. The MEDC spent the last year working in tandem with partners across the state aggressively competing for transformational projects and celebrating place-based investments, all while promoting the four-season beauty and opportunities in Pure Michigan. Among those key efforts has been MEDC’s continued focus on supporting and celebrating the risk-takers and small business owners who are the backbone of the state economy. In Michigan, nearly every indicator of the state’s success is influenced and reflected by its small businesses. They play a vital role in attracting talent to live and work in small towns and big cities alike and are economic drivers of the local communities.

Our small businesses have played a critical role in the success of Michigan’s economy – not just the light at the end of the tunnel, but a steady, determined train pushing us through a dark time. After all, it is small businesses that make economic development relevant to most people in the state. The MEDC works every day to achieve longterm economic prosperity for Michiganders by investing in communities, enabling the growth of good jobs and promoting Michigan’s strong image worldwide. However, we have witnessed a clear need to find ways to create a more equitable and resilient economy for all Michiganders. For example, the need for more intentional and inclusive policies to support minority-, veteran- and women-owned businesses in the state has been underscored this year, as the pandemic has been particularly damaging for diverse-owned businesses that make our communities vibrant places to

visit and call home. It is critical that we continue to offer inclusive, targeted support for these small businesses. At the MEDC, we understand our organization is uniquely situated to create significant and powerful economic opportunities for the 10 million residents and businesses that call our state home. Every day, small businesses across the state also play a critical role in fostering inclusive economic growth throughout Michigan, by investing in their workforce to create opportunities for future prosperity. Now, by working together, we can build on our momentum and progress over the past year. From getting Michiganders back to work to celebrating the small businesses across the state, we are optimistic about our collective future. Learn how MEDC helps support the success and growth of Michigan businesses at https:// www.michiganbusiness.org/pure-partnership/.

May 2022 | Small Business Toolkit | Michigan Chronicle 13


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DISCOVER NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR YOUR BUSINESS. No matter what stage your business is in, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is here to help you succeed. By connecting you to the resources your business needs, granting access to necessary capital and introducing you to the right partners, the MEDC helps your business reach new potential. Find out how we can help propel your business forward with customized support at michiganbusiness.org/pure-partnership T:10"

14 Michigan Chronicle | Small Business Toolkit | May 2022


Small Business Survival By: Megan Kirk Small businesses have been faced with an uphill battle since the start of the pandemic. Many have not recovered, but there are some that managed to keep their doors open with the support of the community. Now, as many small businesses look to rebuild, they are hoping to leave the dark days of the pandemic behind them and focus on brighter days ahead. According to the State of Michigan, there are more than 900,000 small businesses across the state and are responsible for the employment of close to two million Michiganders. Since the start of the pandemic, experts estimate multi-million-dollar losses in revenue for small businesses. Despite the grim numbers, small businesses that were able to survive the clutches of the pandemic are cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead. Local businesses have received support from the community and it has made the difference in helping to keep doors open. Although many of the surviving businesses faced tough economic hardships, it also helped to create a new lane of creativity for small business owners. Developing ways to remain motivated, entrepreneurs began innovative initiatives to keep customers and employees engaged. “We were able to survive through the pandemic but it was hard. We dropped down to appointments only and based our business solely on referrals. We had to offer contests and incentives to pull customers in so that they could patronize our business,” said Crystal Mitchell, CEO of Sitting Pretty Spa. Aside from economic struggles, small businesses were gravely impacted by the high rate of COVID transmissions. As employees began to contract the virus, small businesses lost key manpower needed to keep companies afloat. With a low number of workers due to various factors including home life, caregiving and virtual school, businesses found staffing issues to be one of the main hardships faced during the crisis. Despite mask mandates and new COVID protocols, many small business owners found themselves without employees. “Some of the challenges we faced were [that] a lot of my employees were getting sick although we enforced a strict mask policy -- somehow, they would still get sick,” said Mitchell. “So, one week five were sick and quarantined and then the next week the other five. It was hard to stay fully staffed and a lot of people were afraid to come in even with masks.” As small businesses saw a record number of closures and faced mounting economic pressures, communities rallied behind their local businesses in an effort to keep them alive. Organizations also stepped in to provide much needed economic support to small businesses that found themselves unable to afford to pay their employees, purchase business essentials or pay costs associated with storefronts. The Michigan Small Business Relief Program provided more than 2,500 businesses

a total of $20 million dollars in low-interest loans and grants to help with the bailout. As federal funding began to hit states, local municipalities were able to step in to help fill the gaps. “The community of Southfield has patronized my business and has referred family and friends. I was also granted a $5000 grant through Oakland County that helped tremendously with keeping our doors open,” said Mitchell. More than two years into the pandemic and small businesses are just now beginning to recover. While some have been forced to close their doors for good, small business owners who managed to retain their business during the pandemic are hopeful. Funds are still available for small business owners who may need additional help in continuing to rebuild. Through grants, loans and crowdsourcing, funding for small businesses may be available. Though scarce, business owners are

being encouraged to find programs that will provide economic support. All is not lost as recent reports show small businesses are once again on the rise in Michigan proving the true grit and willpower to make and keep local businesses as the cornerstone of the community. “Small businesses form the backbone of Michigan’s economy and are the anchors of communities across the state. Through tough times, they’ve shown grit and innovation to continue getting things done for their customers and employees,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press statement. “Recent data shows that entrepreneurs are fired up, starting tens of thousands of businesses and creating nearly 170,000 jobs. While the numbers are encouraging, we must build on this momentum by making investments to retain and recruit more workers, expand operations and attract additional investment. Together, let’s keep getting things done for Michigan’s booming small business community.” May 2022 | Small Business Toolkit | Michigan Chronicle 15


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16 Michigan Chronicle | Small Business Toolkit | May 2022

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