SBA Supports Buy American – Kiowa County Signal Partnerships

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By Vercie Lark Administrator of Great Plains Region 7, US Small Business Administration

Recently in Seattle, SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman noted, “President Biden’s successful leadership has guided our economy from high levels of pandemic job losses to the strongest job recovery in history, with all private sector jobs now fully recovered.

There is no doubt that America is doing better economically than most countries. The SBA has disbursed approximately $813.7 billion to small businesses in the form of a myriad of loans and grants to ensure small businesses and nonprofits survive during the Covid 19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen this record economic recovery, the strongest economic growth in 40 years, but companies are still feeling the sting of inflation,” Guzman said, “so a lot of them have had to pivot their models or just adapt.”

Again, pivoting and adapting to weather today’s economic uncertainty deserves a second look.

What does pivoting your business model mean? This usually means reorganizing how your business operates, entering new markets, or learning new methods of delivering your products or services.

Most of us recognize how restaurants have “pivoted” during the Covid 19 pandemic. Many have shifted to online ordering, delivery and pick-up, further readjusting employee duties to packaging and at the delivery. Some later discovered that these services continued to grow their customer base and keep them. Others may determine that this is not where the majority of their customers are.

What can small businesses do to adapt?

Above all, find new ways to meet more customers where they are! This is essential to maintaining and growing sales, the lifeblood of any small business. Every business must continually reassess customers’ needs, attitudes, where they are, and the types of interaction they prefer. Then they should increase, rather than decrease, marketing to those customers.

Second, although raising prices has been a common adaptation, it can be difficult to know how much to raise prices while remaining competitive. New start-ups are at an all-time high and may be competing with you. Again, continuous reassessment is needed.

Third, remember that cash flow and liquidity are critical to your survival in times of uncertainty. Consider applying one or more of the following steps that have helped my business survive as a BP gas station and convenience store owner during tough economic times:

· Reduce backorders or discount slow-moving inventory to generate increased cash flow and, if possible, bank savings to provide more liquidity.

· Join or form consortia of small businesses in your industry to get better discounts on bulk purchases of goods and other services.

· Consider raising prices only for items that are in high demand (best sellers) – those your customers love and can’t live without.

· Review your business financial statements weekly to eliminate non-essential expenses to free up cash.

· Increase your credit. Considering short-term loans (3-5 years) to increase working capital can help you in a storm. This is where SBA loan products can help.

Building businesses remains at the heart of American prosperity, and the SBA wants to partner with small businesses as they build America and ensure their customers Buy American. I encourage you to contact us to see how the SBA can increase your chances of success. Nearby SBA offices and resource partners can be found by typing your zip code into the new SBA Local Assistance Finder at https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance .

Mr. Vercie Lark is the Regional Administrator for the US Small Business Administration’s SBA Region 7 covering the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. You can find his biography at https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/organization/sba-leadership

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