Financing for 2017 Hurricane Season Business Recovery

Businesses in several states and territories are struggling to recover after recent hurricanes. Harvey, Irma, Jose and Nate all had an impact on residents and businesses in the U.S. And for small businesses especially, recovery can be a lengthy process.

But the early stages of recovery can be critical for small businesses. If you wait too long to secure financing and get your business back up and running, it could be too late. In fact, 40% of small businesses never recover after a disaster.

Vernon Tirey, founder and CEO of LeaseQ, an online marketplace for business equipment financing, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The most important thing for any business is their customers. And the longer you delay serving your customers, the more risk there is that your customers will go get that service someplace else. So it’s very important to get back to operating as usual as quickly as possible.”

Sources of Financing for 2017 Hurricane Season Business Recovery

So if your business was impacted by one of the recent storms, you could very well be looking for financing options to get your business back up and running. Here are some options for you to consider, broken down by state.

Texas

Small businesses were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas on August 25 through September 3. and many still are struggling to keep their doors open to customers. Here are funding resources for small businesses recovering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
Businesses in certain counties in Texas may be eligible for up to $2 million in loans to aid with disaster recovery efforts. Additionally, the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and SCORE offices are available to help businesses with financial counseling and other services.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Texas. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you use for your business.

Houston Recovers
Houston Recovers offers resources for businesses and individuals trying to recover from Harvey and other disasters. This includes a list of banks in the area offering low interest loans to businesses.

Houston Business Development, Inc.
Houston Business Development, Inc. offers several different types of business loans ranging from $5,000 to $5 million. You can use these loans for equipment, real estate or working capital.

Louisiana

Certain counties in Louisiana were also impacted by Harvey, and then again by Nate in early October. Here are some resources for those businesses affected.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Louisiana Economic Development Small Business Loan and Guarantee Program
Qualified businesses may receive between $5,000 and $1.5 million in guaranteed loans and financial assistance. Businesses must create or retain at least one job, depending on the amount of the loan.

Mississippi

Parts of Mississippi were adversely affected when Hurricane Nate made landfall in early October. Here are some resources for businesses in those areas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Small Business Capital Fund of MS
The Small Business Capital Fund of MS provides non-traditional financing options for small businesses. Small businesses can apply for loans for equipment, location rehab or working capital.

Alabama

Hurricane Nate also made an impact on some counties in Alabama. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

LiftFund Alabama
LiftFund is a non-profit organization in Birmingham that helps businesses access loans, microloans and training. Small businesses can access loans of up to $1 million through this program.

Florida

Hurricane Irma made a huge impact in many parts of Florida from August 30 to September 16. For businesses in the state looking for financing options, check out the list below.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
FEMA and the SBA recommend that businesses and homeowners in disaster areas in Florida apply for loans through the SBA. Businesses may be eligible for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or other assets.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Florida. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you might use for your business.

Enterprise Florida Small Business Loan Support Program
Enterprise Florida offers credit and microfinancing options to small businesses needing help with startup costs, equipment, inventory, real estate or working capital. Amounts and rates vary depending on the type of financing your business requires.

LiftFund Florida
LiftFund Florida is a non-profit organization that helps small businesses access capital through business loans up to $1 million, microloans and business training.

Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Irma and Maria made a huge impact on the island of Puerto Rico. With many still struggling to rebuild, here are some resources for businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance
FEMA is offering disaster recovery assistance for individuals and families in Puerto Rico to help with things like debris removal and repairs to bring locations up to safety standards.

Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico
The Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico offers loans and financing options for small and medium sized businesses that qualify. You can apply online or by phone, though amounts and rates vary.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands also suffered due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office, which also features a location on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center
The Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center also offers resources for small businesses in the area, including advising and support to help small businesses find other funding sources.

Disaster Assistance Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Where Small Businesses Affected by the 2017 Hurricane Season Can Turn for Funding" was first published on Small Business Trends

The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

Disclosing an influencer-brand relationship in blog posts, social media posts or other types of content isn’t just a good idea — it’s an actual requirement.

Small Business Trends caught up with Rachel Honoway, CEO of Performance Marketing Association at the recent Influencer Marketing Days conference in New York City’s Times Square. The Performance Marketing Association is a trade association for the performance marketing industry, which includes things like affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.

Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

At the event, Honoway discussed some of the legal issues involved in both affiliate and influencer marketing. One of the biggest requirements for influencers and affiliates is disclosure. Per the Federal Trade Commission, influencers must let consumers know they’re receiving compensation for posting about a particular brand or product, no matter what format the content or compensation might take.

Honoway elaborated, “What happens is a lot of influencers and even the brands want to be able to get product reviews and these blog posts and these Instagram posts out there that look authentic. But it’s a little bit of a gray area there because the FTC says consumers need to know that this was a compensated positioning, right? This was an actual advertisement. But just the compensation might not have been as straightforward as something like a TV ad or a radio ad.”

That disclosure might take a lot of different forms depending on the type of content you release. For example, you might include a short sentence in a blog post. But in an Instagram post, you could just use #ad. However, Honoway warned against using any language that could be confusing. The FTC has said not to use #spon in posts, for instance. To simplify, Honoway recommends using “the mom test” or “the grandma test.”

She explained, “If you sent your mom to that page, would she know that there’s a material relationship between you and that brand. If not, if she can’t look at that and say, ‘oh I get it, he’s getting compensated for this in products or in exposure or sometime — or money,’ then you have to say that.”

This article, "The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends

The Relationship Between Customer Loyalty and Data Security

There’s a strong connection between customer loyalty and data security, according to a recent report from Bank of America Merchant Services and Forrester.

If your small business isn’t updating its data security tools and payment processing methods regularly, it could really cost you.

The Relationship Between Customer Loyalty and Data Security

According to the Small Business Payments Spotlight, nearly 40 percent of consumers have had their credit or debit card, bank account or other personal financial information stolen. And 20 percent of those consumers who have had their information stolen said they would not shop with a small business that has experienced a data breach.

In addition to the tangible cost that small businesses have to pay in order to resolve the breach, which could add up to more than $50,000 according to the report, suffering such a breach could cost you even more in lost customers.

Of course, there are things you can do to provide some extra protection and security for your data and the data of your customers. The report offered a few areas where small businesses could look to improve, including updating POS systems to accept EMV chip card payments, investing in employee training for handling payments securely and purchasing security software.

Bank of America Merchant Services’ Head of Small Business Jill Calabrese Bain said in a company release, “As we reviewed the data from small business owners and consumers, the surprisingly strong connection between customer loyalty and payments security and convenience really stood out. We were intrigued to find that nearly a third of small business owners want and need more education about mitigating fraud and other risks to payment security.”

The Small Business Payments Spotlight features even more insights about payment security and consumer preferences. You can view the full report on Bank of America Merchant Service’s website.

Hacker Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Suffering a Data Breach Will Cost You Customers Who’ve Been Hacked, Too" was first published on Small Business Trends

Spotlight: EcoEnclose Offers Earth Friendly Shipping Supplies

Shipping materials have a reputation for being wasteful and bad for the environment. But what if you could get a more eco-friendly solution? That’s exactly what EcoEnclose is trying to provide.

The company sells a variety of shipping materials made with recycled and recyclable content. Read more about the business and what it has to offer in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells earth friendly shipping supplies to ecommerce businesses.

Saloni Doshi, Owner and Co-CEO of EcoEnclose told Small Business Trends, “Our comprehensive line of products includes shipping boxes, poly mailers, kraft mailers, tape, shipping labels, envelopes and void fill. We try to provide all the materials that an ecommerce business would need to ship their product. The majority of our products are made with 100 percent recycled content and are also fully recyclable. Additionally, we offer design and print for most of our boxes and mailers, with minimums starting at just 250 to 500 units, which we have found very helpful to many of our small business customers. We custom cut boxes to any size and style, with no minimums. Finally, we offer advice and education to those businesses that want eco-friendly shipping options.”

Business Niche

A commitment to helping the environment.

Doshi says, “Our values are clearly evident in our products and services. Plenty of companies claim to have some recycled content in their packaging, but we work hard to maximize both the recycled content and post-consumer recycled content, and we have pushed this beyond what the industry had previously said was possible. We also prioritize Made in America because most packaging is otherwise made in China, where claims around sustainability and raw materials are extremely difficult to verify, and from where shipping of products have a high environmental footprint. Regarding services, we spend a lot of time talking with and advising our customers on the impact and opportunity of eco-friendly packaging. Because of our efforts, we are becoming the leading educational resource for eco-minded ecommerce businesses.”

How the Business Got Started

By recognizing a gap in the shipping market.

Doshi explains, “The company’s founder was running a cloth diaper business and was dismayed by the fact that she had to ship her earth-friendly diapers in virgin plastic poly mailers. Thus, EcoEnclose was born.”

Spotlight: EcoEnclose Offers Earth Friendly Shipping Supplies

Biggest Win

Achieving the impossible.

Doshi says, “In looking for a poly mailer that was made with recycled content, manufacturers claimed it could not be done. That the process and machines to make poly mailers with could not work with a high level of recycled plastic — as these raw materials are inconsistent. We found a U.S. manufacturer that would work with us in testing more and more recycled content. Each time the test worked and they said we couldn’t go any higher. But we tried it. Until eventually they got to a mailer made with 88 percent recycled content, and then one with 100 percent recycled content.”

Biggest Risk

Launching a product with different standards.

Doshi explains, “Right now, it feels like the biggest risk is something we are about to do — introduce a new product line that does not yet meet our typical environmental standards. It is a very common shipping solution that is largely available only with virgin material and that many companies have decided they simply cannot live without. All of our manufacturing tests with our targeted recycled content have failed thus far. It’s been very slow and frustrating, and unfortunately, we will not be able to hit our recycled content goals …for now.

“But we have decided to move forward with launching a product because we are eager to bring the market something more earth-friendly than they can currently get. To us, replacing a slew of virgin packaging with an alternative that has 40 percent recycled content is a great step in the right direction and it is a significant improvement for the planet. We have also learned that manufacturing partners are much more willing to invest in new tests after we have proven the market; so we believe strongly there we will improve on the product.”

Lesson Learned

Be intentional with your team members.

Doshi says, “Let go of employees more quickly when it makes sense for them and the business. We are a small business, so one tough employee, who lacks the work ethic and commitment we look for, and (more importantly) brings negative energy to the warehouse can single-handedly destroy our culture.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring more sales and marketing support.

Doshi says, “Today, if you actively search for eco-friendly shipping materials, you will likely find EcoEnclose. But there are so many businesses out there that don’t have time to look or don’t realize how eco-friendly shipping can help their brand, their sales and the environment. We need help getting that message out.”

Spotlight: EcoEnclose Offers Earth Friendly Shipping Supplies

 

Team Tradition

Celebrating with cardboard cutouts.

Doshi says, “We are very into cardboard cutouts (that our team designs, and we cut from our machine). We celebrate every birthday with a personalized cardboard cutout. For example, MJ (Michael Jordan)-obsessed Kyle got a cardboard Jumpman and guitarist Rocco got a cardboard guitar. Each month, the team develops a fun cardboard cutout that goes out in as many customer orders as we can get them in. A few of our customers have said they collect them and put them up in their office. A few favorites — Valentine’s Day heart with our logo (a bird) cutout from the inside, Statue of Liberty for July 4th and snowmen for Christmas.”

Favorite Quote

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. ~Dr. Seuss

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: EcoEnclose; Top Image: Justin Fleury (Fulfillment Manager), Michael Dooley (Warehouse Associate), Kyle Wente (President), Tim Stokes (Design Manager), Juli Clark (Customer Service Associate), Eric Bonfils (Warehouse Associate), Stephanie Morales (Operations Director), Sage Lee (Printing Manager); Second Image: Saloni Doshi, Owner and co-CEO; Third Image: Sage Lee (Printing Manager)

This article, "Spotlight: EcoEnclose Offers Earth Friendly Shipping Supplies" was first published on Small Business Trends

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business

According to recent research, the pop-up business segment has grown to be valued at $50 billion in the U.S. That means there’s a lot of potential for stores and businesses to take advantage of this growing concept.

Pop-Up Shop Examples

If you’re interested in creating your own pop-up, or wondering if this concept might apply to your small business, check out these eye popping examples for inspiration.

Jewelry Pop-up Shop in Store

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Jewelry Pop-up Shop in Store

Taylor Morgan, a California based jewelry brand, hosted a pop-up at a local West Elm store to help its products reach new potential customers.

Eyewear Shop at Pop-up Mall

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Eyewear Shop at Pop-up Mall

Chakshu London is a prescription Eyewear retailer that held a pop-up event at the Boxpark pop-up mall in Shoreditch to give customers an easy way to try out different frames and look at the designs in person.

Japanese Pop-up in New York

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Japanese Pop-up in New York

The Arcade Japan is a concept pop-up store that brings products from Japan to a new market in New York.

Christmas Pop-up Shop

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Christmas Pop-up Shop

Popular online retailer eBay has utilized a pop-up model to bring certain products to consumers in a retail setting during the holiday shopping season.

New Product Line Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - New Product Line Pop-up

When Birchbox, the popular beauty subscription box, offered a special line of gifts for men, the business opened up a holiday pop up shop in New York.

Temporary Mall Location

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Temporary Mall Location

American Girl only has a few store locations around the country. So to bring its products to even more customers, it sets up temporary mall locations periodically, especially around the holidays.

Curated Goods Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Curated Goods Pop-up

Warby Parker offers a pretty wide selection of glasses at its full retail locations and online. But it also brought some curated collections, along with a selection of books, to temporary pop-up stands in New York and California.

Mobile Fashion Truck

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Mobile Fashion Truck

Nomad is a mobile fashion boutique in a repurposed truck. So the owner can constantly move to different pop-up locations.

Valentine’s Day Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Valentine’s Day Pop-up

You can also use pop-ups to celebrate other holidays. Lauren Conrad and some partners put together a pop-up shop with some unique products for a Valentine’s Day theme.

Mall Pop-up Events

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Mall Pop-up Events

Rachel Zoe also hosted a pop-up featuring her fashion line at The Grove mall in California. To celebrate, she also held contests and other special events to bring in even more shoppers.

Home Goods Market Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Home Goods Market Pop-up

The Artifox, a home decor brand, is hosting a pop-up shop at the Canal Street Market, an established venue for pop-ups in New York.

Pop-up Library

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Pop-up Library

Penguin Books teamed up with retail shop Whistles in England to host a pop-up library, filling the retail store with books along with other items for sale.

Twin Peaks Halloween Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Twin Peaks Halloween Pop-up

It’s not just stores that can benefit from a pop-up concept. Showtime is using a pop-up diner during the Halloween season to promote the show Twin Peaks.

Handmade Flower Pop-up at Coworking Space

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Handmade Flower Pop-up at Coworking Space

Pop-ups can take place at a variety of different locations. Posy & Pot, a shop that sells handcrafted paper flowers, hosted a pop-up and workshop at WeWork Moorgate, a popular coworking space.

Special Edition Products Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - pecial Edition Products Pop-up

Offering some limited edition products or just want to promote items that not many customers know about? Coca-Cola promoted these items at pop-up shops around Europe.

Pop-up Wine Bar

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Pop-up Wine Bar

The Pop Inn is a pop-up wine bar in Australia that constantly moves to different pop-up locations to serve customers rather than having one set location.

Pop-up Coffee Shop

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Pop-up Coffee Shop

Similarly, Slow Coffee is a new coffee shop in England that just makes use of pop-up events rather than sticking to a set location.

Traveling Martini Bar

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Traveling Martini Bar

Grey Goose creates a unique experience with its “world’s most intimate martini bar” a pop-up bar in a truck featuring cocktails made with its popular line of vodka.

Story and Brunch Theater Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Story and Brunch Theater Pop-up

The Marsh Theater in California recently hosted a brunch pop-up with playwright and performer Charlie Varon.

Pop-up Restaurant with Noted Chef

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Pop-up Restaurant with Noted Chef

Borough Wines & Beers is a beverage company that teamed up with chef Oded Oren to host a pop-up restaurant experience featuring the company’s drinks.

Halloween Restaurant Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Halloween Restaurant Pop-up

Another restaurant pop-up concept, Strongman’s Tipple, a cocktail events company, is hosting a Halloween themed pop-up with a restaurant and event space in London, with themed drinks and other special menu items.

Halloween Drinks Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Halloween Drinks Pop-up

You could also go with a smaller assortment of items. Unreliable Narrator in California is currently hosting a Halloween pop-up just with themed drink items.

Bakery Pop-up for a Cause

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Bakery Pop-up for a Cause

Junction Bakery & Bistro in Virginia hosted a pop-up event at its location with a special menu to raise funds for disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

Tattoo Artist Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Tattoo Artist Pop-up

Even service based businesses can make use of the pop-up concept. Wild Riot is an events company in California that recently hosted a pop-up with local tattoo artists offering discounts on their services.

Wine and Workout Pop-up

25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business - Wine and Workout Pop-up

Skeleton Root, a winery based in Ohio, recently hosted a pop-up workout class in collaboration with the local Pure Barre, giving customers the chance to enjoy a class and then a nice glass of wine.

Amazon Treasure Truck Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "25 Eye Popping Pop-up Shop Examples to Inspire Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends