en March is Red Cross Month- Learn How to Prepare Your Business in the Case of an Emergency <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Following a tradition begun by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">President Barack Obama has proclaimed March</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> as American Red Cross Month.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Since July 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration has supported a partnership with the </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">American Red Cross</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, participating in events to promote the importance of disaster preparedness for individuals and businesses.&nbsp; Getting the word out about the Red Cross </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Ready Rating program</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> has been a focus of the American Red Cross/SBA relationship.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps a business measure its ability to deal with emergencies.&nbsp; All you have to do is answer the questions, based on what you know about your company and its operations, and Ready Rating gives customized feedback on how to start or improve your business continuity planning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">A recent </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">report by the Small Business Majority</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> and the American Sustainable Business Council estimates the average cost of downtime from small businesses affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day.&nbsp; Since small businesses don&rsquo;t have the resources of large corporations, it&rsquo;s a good idea to build a resilient organization by creating a solid disaster preparedness plan.&nbsp; And Ready Rating is a great, easy-to-use emergency planning tool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">At the Ready Rating site (</span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;">), you can:</span></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Complete an assessment to measure the overall preparedness level of your business</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Create a custom-made emergency plan for your organization</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Access tools to help you complete a hazard vulnerable assessment</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Get tips on implementing your emergency response plan</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Download the Free First-Aid app</li> </ul> <p>Red Cross Month is a good time to take a step to protect your employees, customers and your community by joining Ready Rating, becoming an organization that&rsquo;s prepared to save both lives and livelihoods.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters, the SBA provides recovery assistance in the form of low-interest, direct loans to businesses of all sizes, homeowners, renters, and private non-profit organizations.&nbsp; Visit the </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">website</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> for more information about SBA&rsquo;s disaster loan program.</span></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Wed, 12 Mar 2014 17:36:30 +0000 James Rivera 805871 at 4 Ways to Make Your Company Resilient Enough to Withstand Winter Weather Threats <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Unusual weather patterns in the last few years have wreaked havoc on small business owners across the U.S. Those who were unprepared when big storms occurred faced financial losses caused by power outages, supply chain disruptions and temporary shutdowns.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">According to the <a href="">National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a> (NOAA), 2011 and 2012 were the two most extreme years on record for destructive weather events, causing more than $170 billion in damages, much of that to businesses. Downtime in the aftermath of extreme weather events is costly&mdash;about $3,000 per day for small businesses, according to the <a href="">Institute for Business and Home Safety</a>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">As winter approaches, now&rsquo;s a good time to build a disaster preparedness plan that will protect your organization, your clients and your bottom line in the event of a weather-related emergency. Here are a few tips to get you started:</span></p> <ul> <li> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Review your insurance coverage.&nbsp; </strong>Make sure you understand what&rsquo;s covered, and if you need flood insurance. Check into business interruption insurance, which helps you cover operating expenses if you&rsquo;re forced to temporary close the business. Calculate the cost of business interruptions for a day, one week, a month or six months.&nbsp; Build a cash reserve that will allow your company to function during the recovery phase.</span></p> </li> <li> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Stockpile emergency supplies as needed.</strong> If you&rsquo;re in an area that gets snow, make sure you have a good supply of rock salt or kitty litter, and adequate snow removal equipment. Get a generator and keep it serviced so it&rsquo;ll work when there&rsquo;s a power outage.&nbsp; Store extra supplies of batteries for those devices that need them.</span></p> </li> <li> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Prepare your supply chain.</strong>&nbsp; Develop professional relationships with alternate vendors, in case your primary supplier isn&rsquo;t available. Place occasional orders with them so they&rsquo;ll regard you as an active customer. Create a contact list for important business contractors and vendors you plan to use in an emergency.&nbsp; Keep this list with other documents filed at an easily accessible place, and also at a protected off-site location.</span></p> </li> <li> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Create a crisis communications plan</strong>. Make sure your staff, customers, vendors, contractors&mdash;everyone you do business with&mdash;know what&rsquo;s going on in the aftermath of a disaster. Establish an email alert system, keeping primary and secondary email addresses for your employees, vendors and customers. Use Twitter to provide real-time updates to the community so they know you&rsquo;re still in business and in the process of rebuilding after the disaster.</span></p> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">To find out how disaster preparedness affects your company&rsquo;s bottom line, and for more planning tips, sign up for the free November 12 webinar hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and <a href="">Agility Recovery</a>. The live presentation will be followed by a question and answer session. Space is limited, so <a href="">register</a> now. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Other Resources</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a href="">Winter Preparedness Checklist</a><br /> <a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">NOAA Winter Weather Safety</a><br /> <a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"> Winter Weather Preparedness</a></span></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:01:15 +0000 Carol Chastang 757134 at Is Your Company Resilient Enough to Recover After a Major Disaster? <p>Small businesses play an important role in the nation&rsquo;s economic growth.&nbsp;&nbsp; These small companies are also vulnerable to major financial losses&mdash;to the point of being forced to shut down for good&mdash;as a result of a severe weather event.</p> <p>In 2012 the record-breaking drought that affected the majority of the continental U.S., and Hurricane Sandy caused economic losses in the billions for small businesses.&nbsp; So far this fiscal year the SBA has approved more than 4,900 business disaster loans totaling more than $518 million.&nbsp; The increase in the extreme weather events means that it&rsquo;s crucial for small businesses to engage in disaster preparedness planning.</p> <p>A recent <a href="">report by the Small Business Majority</a> and the American Sustainable Business Council estimates the average cost of downtime from small businesses affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day.&nbsp;&nbsp; Here are some other interesting facts from the report:</p> <ul> <li> Since small businesses don&rsquo;t have access to the capital and resources of large corporations, these companies can suffer lasting economic damage following a single major disaster.&nbsp;</li> <li> Of the 60,000 to 100,000 small businesses negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy, up to 30 percent are estimated to have failed as a direct result of the storm.</li> <li> According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2011 and 2012 were the two most extreme years on record for destructive weather events, which caused a total of more than $170 billion in damages, much of that to businesses.</li> </ul> <p>We&rsquo;re here to help small businesses thrive, and become resilient enough to withstand any kind of natural or man-made disaster.&nbsp; In September, during National Preparedness Month, the SBA and Agility Recovery will co-host free webinars focused on different aspects of business continuity. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The webinars will be held on Wednesdays, at 2 p.m. EDT:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>September 11: Protecting Your Organization by Preparing Your Employee</strong></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Registration Link: <a href=""></a></p> <ul> <li> <strong>September 18: The NEW 10 Steps to Preparedness - Lessons from the Past &nbsp; </strong></li> </ul> <p><strong>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; </strong>Registration Link: <a href=""></a></p> <ul> <li> <strong>September 25</strong>: <strong>Crisis Communications for any Organization &nbsp; &nbsp;</strong></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Registration Link:&nbsp; <a href=""></a></p> <p>To help you get started with your disaster planning, download one of Agility&rsquo;s useful <a href="">checklists</a> that cover tips on how to build an emergency kit, how to do a risk assessment, and what to take when you evacuate.</p> <p>Building a disaster preparedness plan is easier, and less expensive than you think.&nbsp; The time you take to protect your employees, customers, and your assets will go a long way toward making your company resilient and prepared to support your local economy.</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Wed, 14 Aug 2013 18:33:11 +0000 James Rivera 751208 at Five Easy Ways to Safeguard Your Small Business Before Disaster Strikes <p>Eastern seaboard businesses continue their struggle to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.&nbsp; In terms of economic losses, the October 29, 2012 storm will be remembered as one of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history.</p> <p>Many residents and businesses, particularly in the hardest hit coastal areas of New Jersey and New York, were caught off guard by the late-season storm.&nbsp; In addition to the property destruction caused by high winds and flooding, power outrages created big headaches and huge financial losses for many small businesses.</p> <p>Weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting an &ldquo;active&rdquo; <a href="">2013 Atlantic hurricane season</a>. &nbsp;The six-month season, which began June 1, typically peaks between August and October. Now is a good time to put a disaster preparedness plan in place to protect your employees and your business.</p> <p>The SBA and Agility Recovery recently hosted a free webinar giving tips on how to prepare for Hurricane season.&nbsp; But it doesn&rsquo;t matter if you&rsquo;re in the Gulf Coast or the Upper Midwest&mdash;all kinds of risks exist, and small businesses are particularly vulnerable.&nbsp;</p> <p>Go to <a href="">this link</a> to download the slides from the recent &ldquo;<strong>Protect Your Business This Hurricane Season&rdquo;</strong> webinar. &nbsp;You can also <a href=";_sf=2">view the recorded webinar</a> at any time. You will need <a href="">Windows Media Player 9</a> or higher.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there are a few things you can do, at no cost, to jump-start your business continuity plan:</p> <ol> <li> <strong>Determine your greatest risk potential.</strong>&nbsp; It might come from wind damage or the inland flooding that typically follows the tropical storm&rsquo;s heavy rains.&nbsp; Meanwhile, your business could suffer financial losses due to road and bridge closings in the aftermath of a hurricane.&nbsp; Power outages are a major threat, especially to businesses in the food and hospitality industries. What would happen if you had to shut down your business for several days? &nbsp;Look at the building where you do business&mdash;inside and out&mdash;and assess the risks. If you do this early enough, you&rsquo;ll have time to do structural upgrades&mdash;like impact resistant doors and windows&mdash;that can prevent possible future storm damage.</li> <li> <strong>Calculate the cost of business interruptions </strong>for one week, one month and six months.&nbsp; Once you&rsquo;ve done that, you&rsquo;ll be able investigate insurance options or build a cash reserve that will allow your company to function during the post-disaster recovery phase. It&rsquo;s also a good idea to develop professional relationships with alternative vendors, in case your primary contractor can&rsquo;t service your needs.&nbsp; Place occasional orders with them so they regard you as an active customer.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong>Review your insurance coverage. </strong>&nbsp;Contact your agent to find out if your policy is adequate for your needs. Consult with a business insurance expert to advise you on the right coverage for your situation.&nbsp;When buying insurance, ask &ldquo;How much can I afford to lose?&rdquo;&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a good idea to know the value of your property.&nbsp; You also may want to look into flood insurance.&nbsp; According to the U.S. Geological Survey, floods are the leading cause of natural disaster losses. Most property insurance policies don&rsquo;t cover basement flooding.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong>Build a crisis communications plan </strong>so you&rsquo;ll be able to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, and contractors know what&rsquo;s going on.&nbsp; Establish an e-mail alert system.&nbsp; Make sure you have primary and secondary e-mail addresses for your employees, and everyone you do business with. &nbsp;Create a Facebook page, and use Twitter to let the community know you&rsquo;re still in business, and in the process of recovering after the disaster.</li> <li> <strong>Consider a Telework Policy. &nbsp;</strong>Prepare for the possibility that employees won&rsquo;t be able to get to work by developing an emergency telework policy. Read &nbsp;&ldquo;<a href="">How To Make Telework Work for your Small Business</a>&rdquo; for more information.</li> </ol> <p>Each month SBA and Agility Recovery hosts a free webinar providing business continuity strategies. The August 13<sup>th</sup> webinar will focus on useful tips for building your own disaster preparedness plan. &nbsp; Space is limited <a href="">so register now.</a></p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="">Four Ways to Safeguard and Protect your Small Business Data</a></li> <li> <a href="">Protect Your Business with Flood Insurance</a></li> <li> <a href="">SBA Disaster Loans</a></li> <li> <a href="">Business Continuity Planning Tips from Agility Recovery</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Managing SBA News and Views Wed, 24 Jul 2013 20:30:15 +0000 Carol Chastang 738831 at Hurricane Sandy Small Business Recovery and Matchmaking <p>On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall resulting in major flooding, extensive structural damage, and significant loss of life.&nbsp; Thousands of individuals were displaced, millions lost power, and business ecosystems were disrupted throughout the region.&nbsp; In fact, small businesses continue to face a number of challenges as they seek to rebuild their companies.&nbsp;</p> <p>In December of 2012, an Executive Order signed by President Obama established the <a href="" title="link to Department of Housing and Urban Development portal">Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force</a> to coordinate federal, state and local resources to identify opportunities for achieving rebuilding success, to support economic vitality, among other objectives.&nbsp; The <a href="" title="SBA's page on Emergency Preparedness">U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)</a> is a key member of the Task Force, and our programs play a significant role in the long-term economic recovery of the region through support for businesses in need of counseling, financing and other resources.&nbsp; SBA approved more than $2.3 billion in disaster loans to 35,900 residents and businesses in states affected by Hurricane Sandy &ndash; making it the third largest natural disaster in U.S. history for the agency. &nbsp;SBA&rsquo;s Resource Partners are also supporting Hurricane Sandy small business recovery, laying a foundation for economic recovery and resiliency, thanks to expanded services funded by <a href="" title="$19 Million in Grants to be Made to SBA Resource Partners To Support Hurricane Sandy Small Business Recovery">$19 million in grants</a>.&nbsp; In addition, we know that accessing commercial and federal contracting opportunities are critical in these rebuilding efforts.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s why the SBA and the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force are teaming up to host the Hurricane Sandy Small Business Recovery and Matchmaking Summit on Wednesday, August 7th&mdash;the first event of its kind in the region since the disaster&nbsp;&mdash;to educate and connect small businesses to commercial buyers from the private sector and federal, state and local governments.&nbsp; The goal is simple: help small businesses in the region to get back on their feet and to compete for opportunities in the region.&nbsp; Here are the details.&nbsp; We hope to see you there.</p> <p align="center"><strong>WHAT</strong>: Hurricane Sandy Small Business Recovery and Matchmaking</p> <p align="center"><strong>WHERE</strong>: New Jersey Institute of Technology</p> <p align="center">University Heights Newark, New Jersey 07102</p> <p align="center"><strong>WHEN</strong>: Wednesday, August 7th:</p> <p align="center">Registration &amp; Resource Expo begin at noon, Program begins at 1PM</p> <p class="rtecenter" style=""><strong>For More Information and to RSVP</strong>: <a href=""></a></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:27:27 +0000 John Shoraka 720391 at Is Your Business Ready for the next Hurricane Sandy? <p>Even before the big storm hits, small businesses start losing money once the severe weather advisories go out. The cost of shutting down, even for a few hours, is a huge expense most small businesses aren&rsquo;t prepared to cover.</p> <p>Hurricane Sandy caught most people off guard. The late-season storm brought flooding and power outages that caused billions in losses. The SBA approved more than 3,600 disaster loans for $393 million to businesses affected by Sandy. When you add the home disaster loans made by SBA, more than 35,400 loans were approved for a total of $2.3 billion.</p> <p>The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1. Now&rsquo;s a good time to start working on a <a href=""><u>plan</u></a> to protect your company from any risk&mdash;be it large-scale disasters like floods and hurricanes, or the sprinkler system failure in your office space.</p> <p>Join the SBA and Agility Recovery on Tuesday, May 28 for a free webinar on the topic of hurricane season preparedness for businesses. Dr. Gerry Bell, a climate expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (<a href=""><u>NOAA</u></a>) will present the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season forecast. After his presentation, Agility Recovery President &amp; CEO Bob Boyd will give tips on how any company can protect themselves from the physical and financial losses that occur when a disaster strikes.</p> <p>The discussion will include tips about:</p> <ul> <li> Data protection</li> <li> What kind of insurance coverage you need</li> <li> <a href=""><u>Internal and external communication strategies</u></a></li> </ul> <p>Please sign up soon, since space is limited. The webinar will be recorded and archived on <a href=""><u>Agility&rsquo;s website</u></a>.</p> <p>Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013</p> <p>Time: 2 &ndash; 3 p.m. ET</p> <p>Register: <a href=""><u></u></a></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Thu, 23 May 2013 21:34:35 +0000 Carol Chastang 636471 at 3 Types of Insurance You May Think You Have But Don’t <p>Insurance is the backstop for business owners when things go wrong. Things happen, but owners want to be financially protected for the unexpected. The problem is that owners may assume they&rsquo;re covered for certain events but find out after such events that they were mistaken. Don&rsquo;t fall into the same trap. Here are three common situations you may assume you&rsquo;re covered for but may need to make changes to be protected.</p> <p><strong>Terrorist events</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;re a restaurant owner whose windows have been blown out by a terrorist&rsquo;s bomb. Or you have a medical office but patients can&rsquo;t access your office because the street is closed following a terrorist attack. Will your business insurance policy help you? It depends.</p> <p>After the September 11 attacks, insurance policies were clarified to <em>exclude </em>coverage for property damage resulting from terrorist attacks. However, businesses can obtain coverage for such events by paying extra. The *<a href="" target="_blank" title="Links to WSJ article"><u>Wall Street Journal reported</u> </a>that about 60% of companies across the country do carry additional coverage for terrorism. Unfortunately, many small businesses don&rsquo;t because of the added cost.</p> <p>So are you covered or not in an event such as the Boston Marathon bombings? It depends on whether this is officially certified to be an act of terrorism. The <a href="" title="Links to NAIC"><u>Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act</u></a> was passed post-9-11 to help insurers pay for terrorism claims. Under this law, terrorism coverage is now necessary for claims resulting from an act of terrorism and basic coverage does not provide protection if the Treasury Secretary, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Attorney all certify an event to be an act of terrorism. <em>Note:</em> This law is set to expire on December 31, 2014, but could be extended by Congress.</p> <p>Even if you have terrorism coverage, it may only provide protection for property damage. You usually need a separate business interruption policy to protect you for lost profits resulting from acts of terrorism and the aftermath. Business interruption insurance pays for your operating costs (e.g., rent, utilities and wages to employees) in addition to the profits you would have earned during the period your business was forced to close. Find more information about business interruption coverage from *<a href="" target="_blank" title="Links to InsureU Online"><u>InsureU</u></a>.</p> <p><strong>Water damage</strong></p> <p>Water damage is the most common type of property damage for commercial buildings businesses, *<a href="" target="_blank" title="Links to ZurichNA"><u>according to one insurance company</u></a>. But there&rsquo;s water damage, and then there&rsquo;s water damage. Some types of water damage are covered by your business owner&rsquo;s policy (BOP), but others are not.</p> <ul> <li> <strong><em>What&rsquo;s usually covered: </em></strong>BOP&rsquo;s typically limit coverage to water damage from within. This means damage that results from freezing pipes, broken pipes or other accidents causing water to be inside your facility.</li> <li> <strong><em>What&rsquo;s usually </em></strong><strong>not <em>covered: </em></strong>BOP&rsquo;s typically don&rsquo;t cover water damage from without (outside your building or under the foundation). This can result from flooding (e.g., from storms, snow melts), water main breaks, or sewer backup.</li> </ul> <p>You can obtain coverage for water damage that ordinarily is not part of your BOP. This can be done in some cases simply by extending the coverage of your basic policy.</p> <p>However, if your business is located within a flood zone, the only way to obtain coverage is with a separate flood insurance policy from the federal government (not a private insurer). The cost of coverage depends on where your business is located (the closer to a serious flood area, the higher the premiums). Find more about this coverage through the <a href="" title="Links to FEMA"><u>National Flood Insurance Program</u>.</a></p> <p><strong>Home-based businesses</strong></p> <p>Just because you have a good homeowner&rsquo;s policy doesn&rsquo;t automatically give you the protection you need for your home-based business. If a business client is injured in a fall or the inventory you store in your basement is destroyed by a fire, your homeowner&rsquo;s policy probably won&rsquo;t provide protection. There are two ways to remedy this:</p> <ul> <li> Add a rider to your homeowner&rsquo;s policy to cover your home-based business. This option is useful if you have few business visitors and not too much business property to protect.</li> <li> Obtain a separate business owner&rsquo;s policy (BOP). This option is preferable if clients and customers regularly visit your home and/or if you have expensive business property (costly equipment and/or inventory on the premises).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, &ldquo;there are &hellip;unknown unknowns -- the ones we don&rsquo;t know we don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo; You may be unaware of the type of coverage your business should have. Talk with your insurance agent to determine what risks your business faces and learn about additional coverage you may want or need.</p> <p><em>*Denotes non-government website</em></p> The Industry Word Business Laws Emergency Planning Managing Thu, 23 May 2013 12:23:46 +0000 BarbaraWeltman 636191 at 7 Ways to Protect Your Small Business from Fraud and Cybercrime <p>How secure are your small business assets from fraud, identity theft and cybercrime?</p> <p>According to the <a href="" title="ACFE website">Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE),</a> companies with less than 100 employees lose approximately $155,000 as a result of fraud each year. Small businesses also have a higher fraud rate than larger companies and non-business owners. One of the most frequent sources of fraud is credit card abuse &ndash; largely due to the fact that few business owners actually take the time to go through every line item on their bill or choose to mingle business and personal accounts.</p> <p>Other sources of fraud stem from an overall lack of security across the business &ndash; such as inadequate network and computer security and a lack of background checks when hiring employees.</p> <p>Don&rsquo;t be a victim! Here are some tips you can take to better protect your business from some common forms of fraud and cybercrime.</p> <p><strong>Protect Your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts</strong></p> <p>Since this is a common area of fraud for everyone from sole proprietors to employee-based firms, this one goes at the top of the list. Start by separating your personal banking and credit cards from your business accounts &ndash; this will ensure fraudsters don&rsquo;t get their hands on ALL your money. Separating your accounts will also make it easier to track your business expenses and report deductions on your tax return.</p> <p>Next, make sure you use your card wisely. Don&rsquo;t hand over your plastic or your card number to employees or companies with which you don&rsquo;t have a familiar relationship. Switch to online bill pay or make sure you store paper bills securely. Likewise, use a secure mailbox for receiving and sending bills. If you don&rsquo;t have one, deposit your mail directly at the post office (this goes for any mail that contains sensitive information &ndash; you don&rsquo;t want to leave it lying around in an unsecured mailbox).</p> <p>Lastly, be sure to check your online banking every day for suspicious activity.</p> <p><strong>Secure Your IT Infrastructure</strong></p> <p>Every business owner should invest in a firewall as well as anti-virus, malware and spyware detection software. Backing-up is also a must and will make it a lot easier for you to continue working in the event of a cyber attack. This blog offers more advice on what to look out for and digs deeper into your options: <a href="" title="Article about how to protect business data">4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data</a>.</p> <p><strong>Use a Dedicated Computer for Banking</strong></p> <p>This is a great idea from Forbes magazine&rsquo;s <a href="" title="Article about how to protect your business from cybercrime">5 Ways Small Businesses Can Protect Against Cybercrime</a>.&nbsp; Use a dedicated computer for all your online financial transactions and, ideally, make sure it&rsquo;s one that isn&rsquo;t used for other online activity such as social media, email and web-surfing which can open up the machine to vulnerabilities. Avoid mobile banking if you can.</p> <p><strong>Have a Password Policy</strong></p> <p>Another easy step you can take to protect your IT systems is to institute a password policy.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> Make sure you and your employees change them regularly (every 60 to 90 days is good rule)</li> <li> Set rules that ensure passwords are complex (i.e. contain one upper case letter, one number and must be a minimum of eight characters)</li> <li> Use different passwords for different online and system accounts</li> </ul> <p><strong>Educate Your Staff </strong></p> <p>Employees are perhaps your biggest point of vulnerability when it comes to fraud, but they are also your first line of defense. Hold regular training sessions on basic security threats (online and off) and prevention measures &ndash; both for new hires and seasoned staff. Enforce the training by instituting policies that guide employees on the proper use and handling of company confidential information, including financial data, personnel and customer information.</p> <p>For ideas on what to include in your training, check out the resources offered by small business groups like your local Small Business Development Center or Women&rsquo;s Business Center (<a href="" title="Directory of small business assistance in your area">find one near you here</a>), you could also look out for free online webinars from security organizations and businesses.</p> <p><strong>Consider Employee Background Checks</strong></p> <p>One of the first steps to preventing fraudulent employee behavior is to make the right hiring decision. Basic pre-employment background checks are a good business practice for any employer, especially for those employees who will be handling cash, high-value merchandise, or have access to sensitive customer or financial data. This blog offers tips on which background checks you can legally pursue and some tips for doing your own detective work: <a href="" title="Article about conducting employee background checks">Conducting Employee Background Checks &ndash; Why Do It and What the Law Allows</a>.</p> <p><strong>Insure Your Business</strong></p> <p>Fraud and cybercrime does happen; however, you can still seek to cover your damages by purchasing an insurance policy that protects you against any losses that you may incur from crime or fraud. Likewise, find out what your bank is willing to do to help you out if your credit card or business account is compromised.</p> <p><em><strong>How do you protect your business against fraud and cybercrime? Leave a comment below!</strong></em></p> Business Law Advisor Business Laws Emergency Planning Managing Wed, 08 May 2013 10:57:08 +0000 Caron_Beesley 611861 at Hurricane Sandy Update-- Six months later, A Steady Recovery <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s been six months since Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast and signs of recovery are emerging.&nbsp; Businesses are reopening, homeowners are rebuilding and communities are rebounding.&nbsp; I&rsquo;m proud to say that the SBA, together with our federal partners, stepped-up to provide assistance to those affected by Sandy.&nbsp; SBA has approved more than 34,000 disaster loan applications for a dollar total of $2.2 billion &ndash; making Hurricane Sandy the third largest natural disaster in terms of SBA disaster lending in U.S. history. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>One of these loans went to IceStone, LLC, a Brooklyn-based company that makes counter tops from recycled glass and cement. The five feet of salt water that flooded the 55,000 square-foot factory when Hurricane Sandy passed through New York destroyed machinery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.&nbsp; After deciding not to close the business, IceStone CEO Dal LaMagna applied for an SBA disaster loan. Despite the massive volume of applications the SBA was handling during the early recovery phase, &ldquo;the employees at the SBA were still able and willing to respond rapidly at each of the stages of processing, approving, and funding our application,&rdquo; LaMagna said. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>By April, IceStone&rsquo;s $988 thousand dollar loan was fully disbursed, and within days LaMagna and his 127 employees were <a href="">back in the factory</a> building countertops.&nbsp;</p> <p>The deadline for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations in New Jersey to apply for an SBA disaster loan for physical damages caused by Hurricane Sandy is May 1. Visit SBA&rsquo;s <a href="">Hurricane Sandy website</a> for more information.</p> <p>Our disaster recovery efforts haven&rsquo;t just included loans to homeowners and businesses.&nbsp; Nineteen million dollars in grants will be delivered to our resource partners to expand counseling and training services for small businesses and SBA has played an integral role in awarding $190 million dollars in government contacts to small businesses involved in the Hurricane Sandy recovery.&nbsp; Through these additional means, we will continue to help those individuals and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild stronger and provide support for long-term recovery.</p> <p><strong><u>SBA Resource Partners Support Small Business Recovery</u></strong></p> <p>Small businesses recovering from the physical and economic impact of Hurricane Sandy can get both immediate and long-term help from SBA&rsquo;s resource partners&mdash;the <a href="">Small Business Development Centers</a>, (SBDCs), <a href="">SCORE</a>, and <a href="">Women&rsquo;s Business Centers</a> (WBC&rsquo;s), through expanded services provided by a <a href="">$19 million funding package</a> approved by Congress. &nbsp;</p> <p>$5.8 million has already been made available to SBA&rsquo;s resources partners in the areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy to immediately ramp up existing counseling and training services. Our partners play a critical role in fostering economic development in those areas hard-hit, and businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the services.</p> <p>SBA resource partners can now apply for an additional $13.1 million to provide long-term small business recovery, expansion and rebuilding strategies through innovative collaborative approaches between state and local community-based partnerships. This new process for building local recovery frameworks will help to integrate local economic recovery efforts and improve efficiency of services.</p> <p><strong>SBA resource partners</strong> interested in leading the recovery efforts&nbsp; from the second phase of funding have until June 5, 2013 to respond to the related request for proposal, <a href="">Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Program Announcement</a> (# OED 2013-002), which is posted to <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;<strong><u>Government Contracting</u></strong></p> <p>So far $190 million dollars in government contacts have been awarded to small businesses involved in the Hurricane Sandy recovery.&nbsp;&nbsp; That means 28 percent of the federal contacting award dollars have gone to small businesses, with 17 percent of that total going to small businesses in New York and New Jersey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Government Contracting SBA News and Views Fri, 26 Apr 2013 21:07:40 +0000 James Rivera 594001 at Sandy Update 5: A Lending Milestone as Congress Adds Recovery Funds <p><span style="font-size: 12px">Ninety days after Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, the U.S. Small Business Administration crossed the $1 billion threshold of approved loans to more than 16,800 homeowners, renters and businesses. This makes Hurricane Sandy, in terms of SBA disaster lending, the third largest natural disaster in U.S. history, behind Hurricanes Katrina/Rita/Wilma ($10.8 billion), and the Northridge Earthquake ($4 billion).</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">To put this massive storm and the coordinated federal recovery effort into context, the SBA has approved more loans for more money to Hurricane Sandy victims than what we approved for all disasters in fiscal year 2012 (Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012).&nbsp; In FY2012, the SBA approved 15,000 disaster loans for a total of $689 million.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">The sheer size and scope of this disaster created an increased need for more assistance.&nbsp; This week Congress passed an aid package that will provide SBA with an additional $520 million to support up to $5 billion in low-interest disaster loans.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">The bill also provides:</span></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px">$249 million to cover to the administrative costs of making the loans;</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px">$20 million to support SBA&rsquo;s resource partners (SCORE, SBDCs, Women&rsquo;s Business Development Centers) as they help business owners rebuild;</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px">And $10 million to cover salaries and overhead expenses associated with the agency&rsquo;s recovery efforts.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">We continue to process loan applications.&nbsp; Together with FEMA, we have extended the disaster loan application deadlines for states where we have seen the highest demand. The&nbsp;deadline for New York is&nbsp;Feb. 27, and March 1 is the deadline for New Jersey.&nbsp;&nbsp; The Maryland (</span><span style="font-size: 12px">Worcester County) application deadline is March 4, and the deadline for&nbsp;Puerto Rico is March 11.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">If you have a disaster loan application, complete and send it back to as us soon as possible. Don&rsquo;t wait on your insurance payout. Your policy may not cover all the replacement, repair and rebuilding costs&mdash;and the SBA disaster loan can offset the difference.&nbsp;&nbsp; In addition, the SBA will use any insurance proceeds to reduce the loan amount.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px">You can apply online using the <a href="" title="ELA">Electronic Loan Application</a>. If you think you need help filling out the application, or have questions about what documents are required to complete the process, call SBA&rsquo;s Disaster Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. Those with a speech disability or hearing loss may call 800-462-7585. You can also email the center at <a href="" title="ODA"></a>.&nbsp;Visit <a href="" title="Sandy">SBA&rsquo;s Hurricane Sandy website</a> for more information.</span></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:22:44 +0000 James Rivera 454501 at Flu Season Hits US: Seven Steps You Can Take to Prepare Your Business and Employees <p>The 2012-2013 flu season arrived earlier than usual. As the nation braces for increased flu activity, now is the time to prepare yourself, your business, and your employees. Not only is prevention important for physical health, it may impact your bottom line if your staff are out sick. Here are some tips to help you avoid illness and maintain business continuity.<a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Flu" src="/sites/default/files/images/Flu.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 300px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="CDC Flu" /></a></p> <p>1. <strong>Identify a Workplace Coordinator</strong> -This person would be the single point of contact for all issues relating to a flu outbreak and be responsible for reaching out to community health providers and implementing protocols for dealing with ill employees - in advance of any outbreak or impact on the business.</p> <p>2. <strong>Examine Policies for Leave, Telework and Employee Compensation</strong> - Obviously this will vary by business, but the emphasis here is on refreshing yourself and your employees about what your company&#39;s health care plans cover in the event of sick leave as a result of the flu. You should also re-evaluate leave policies to ensure a flexible non-punitive plan that allows for impacted individuals to stay at home. Employees may also need to stay at home to care for sick children or telework in the event of school closures - so be prepared for this by implementing appropriate teleworking infrastructures in advance.</p> <p>3. <strong>Post signs or host a flu vaccination clinic for employees</strong> &ndash; the <a href="" title="CDC flu">Centers for Disease Control (CDC)</a> provides free posters and stock content for your employee newsletter that will remind staff about flu vaccinations and other safety precautions. The CDC also recommends holding a flu vaccination clinic for your employees, among other strategies, for ensuring your employees have access to the seasonal flu vaccine. The <a href="">CDC Flu Toolkit for Businesses</a> provides all of these great resources.</p> <p>4. <strong>Identify Essential Employees, Essential Business Functions, and Other Critical Inputs</strong> - Make plans to maintain communication and ensure clear work direction with critical personnel and vendors (and even customers) in the event that the supply chain is broken or other unpredictable disruptions occur.</p> <p>5. <strong>Share your Flu and other Pandemic Plans with Employees and Clearly Communicate Expectations</strong> - Consider posting a bi-lingual version of your preparedness plan, leave information, health tips, and other flu awareness resources across all your work locations and online if you operate an Intranet.</p> <p>6. <strong>Prepare Business Continuity Plans </strong>- Absenteeism or other work place changes need to be addressed early on so you can maintain business operations. Get tips on common sense measures your business can take from <a href=""></a>.</p> <p>7. <strong>Establish an Emergency Communication Plan</strong> - Hopefully your business already has some form of emergency communication plan. If not, document your key business contacts (with back-ups), the chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.</p> <p><strong>Additional Resources</strong></p> <p><a href=""> for Businesses</a><br /> <a href="" title="CDC Flu">CDC Flu Website</a><br /> <a href="">CDC Flu Toolkit for Businesses</a></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Managing SBA News and Views Thu, 10 Jan 2013 23:26:23 +0000 Stephen Morris 407021 at 4 Ways to Safeguard and Protect Your Small Business Data <p>Are you doing enough to safeguard and protect your small business data?</p> <p>Small businesses are widely adopting data back-up practices to ensure data is retrievable should a disaster occur, but gaps remain. According to a July 2012 <a href="">study</a> by accounting software company Sage, the bulk of small businesses are backing up key data such as financial information, but most businesses back up that data on-site only. Furthermore, the study found that only 38 percent of surveyed small businesses have a formal emergency or disaster preparedness plan.</p> <p>Given the brutal impact of Superstorm Sandy and other disasters that affect small businesses on a regular basis, these are worrying statistics.</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>Backing up on-site may not be sufficient to protect small businesses from natural disasters &ndash; particularly if the business is located in an area prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, fires or flooding &ndash; or more common crises, such as theft or hardware malfunction,</em>&rdquo; said Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager of Sage Small Business Solutions, in a company <a href="" title="Sage Press Release">press release</a>.</p> <p>&ldquo;<em>The development of a preparedness plan that includes solutions for protecting critical information, such us backing up off-site, could be the difference between getting a business on its way to recovery and worrying about its survival</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p>So what&rsquo;s the best way to make sure your small business data is secure and available at all times? Here are four tips:</p> <p><strong>1.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Automate Your Back-Ups and Build in Redundancy</strong></p> <p>Whether you&rsquo;re a freelancer or a 50-person firm, an automated back-up system is a must. Many of us know the value of backing up to a local hard drive (you can buy one that will store terabytes of data for under $100) or server.&nbsp; But you should also consider backing up to a third party or off-site service. If your business property (along with your back-up device) is destroyed in a disaster, you&rsquo;ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your data is retrievable.</p> <p>Cloud back-ups are increasingly popular, whereby companies such as DropBox, Symantec and Carbonite will securely replicate, back up and store your data in the cloud (basically a shared computer hosted by a third party on the Internet). Cloud services are particularly beneficial for small business owners who may not have an in-house IT team to help them manage and administer server back-ups.</p> <p>To help you determine the best approach for your business, read this blog: <a href="" title="Finding the best backup option for your small business">Finding the Best Backup Option for Your Small Business Data</a>.</p> <p><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Consider Server Virtualization</strong></p> <p>According to a survey by CDW, 25 percent of small businesses have virtualized at least some of their servers, with improved data protection cited as a direct benefit. But what is server virtualization? Server virtualization allows you to take one physical server machine and run several virtual server environments (for example, your email, database, and web servers) on it. Essentially, one server performs the work of many. Along with cost benefits, virtualization also makes disaster recovery easier.&nbsp; &nbsp;Read more about the ins and outs of server virtualization in this <a href="" title="Server Virtualization Guide">Server Virtualization Guide for Small Business</a> on <a href="" title="Small Business Computing website">Small Business</a>.</p> <p><strong>3.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Run a Full Service Security Suite</strong></p> <p>Safeguarding data is about more than backing it up. Intrusion attempts, computer viruses and malware all can compromise business data and threaten your systems.</p> <p>Consider installing a hardware firewall. Most firewall systems protect your software, but by the time most firewalls are activated, the threat is already inside your network. But a secure appliance-based firewall between the Internet and your business data will block intruders and threats before they enter your network.</p> <p>Anti-virus and spam filters represent another security layer that protects incoming and outgoing data. Use content filters; they protect local computers from malware threats by blocking entry to potentially harmful websites.</p> <p><strong>4.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Have a Big Picture Disaster Preparedness Plan</strong></p> <p>Approximately 40-60 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster (<a href="">source</a>).&nbsp; While the value of our business data is incalculable, protecting your business and your employees by ensuring you are prepared for the eventuality of a natural or man-made disaster is equally critical. Create a plan of action to lessen the impact of disasters, and a disaster recovery plan to ensure you are up and ready for business sooner.</p> <p>Check out SBA&rsquo;s guides, tools and templates to help you prepare and improve your chances of recovering quickly should the worst happen &ndash; <a href="" title="SBA Small Business Emergency Preparedness Guide">Small Business Emergency Preparedness Guide</a>. You can also visit the <a href="" title="SBA Learning Center">SBA Learning Center</a> for online courses, webinars and other tips to help you with your disaster planning.</p> <p><strong>Related Blogs</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="" title="Disaster preparedness tips">Do You Have an Emergency Plan? 4 Disaster Preparedness Tips for Businesses, Homeowners and Renters</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="Prepare your business for disaster recovery">Is Your Company Prepared to Respond After a Disaster?</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="Tax breaks to help you through a disaster">5 Tax Breaks to Help See You through a Storm or Other Devastating Event</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> Small Business Matters Emergency Planning Managing Thu, 10 Jan 2013 12:44:49 +0000 Caron_Beesley 406171 at Hurricane Sandy: Tax and Financial Implications for Your Small Business <p>The storm that hit the East Coast of the U.S. on October 29<sup> </sup>created devastation for individuals and businesses. Many companies were forced to remain closed for days or even longer because of damage to business facilities, employees being unable to get to work due to the failure of public transportation systems, closures of bridges and tunnels, power outages and long gas lines. Here is what companies should know about tax and financial opportunities to help recover from this storm and the lessons for everyone going forward.</p> <p><strong>Tax relief</strong></p> <p>The IRS has made a number of pronouncements in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to provide relief to affected businesses as well as to those who want to help hurricane victims. Here is a brief roundup of some key items:</p> <p><strong><em>Extensions for filing returns and paying taxes. </em></strong>The deadline for filing tax returns and paying income taxes otherwise due from the time of the storm through the end of January 2013 is extended until <a href=";-Return-Filing-and-Tax-Payment-Deadline-Extended-to-Feb.-1,-2013" title="Links to IRS website"><u>February 1, 2013</u></a>. This means that the fourth installment of 2012 estimated taxes for corporations (otherwise due on December 17, 2012) and for self-employed individuals (otherwise due on January 15, 2013) can be made up to February 1, 2013.</p> <p>Relief applies automatically to businesses within <u><a href=";-Return-Filing-and-Tax-Payment-Deadline-Extended-to-Feb.-1,-2013" title="Links to IRS website">declared disaster area</a>s</u>. Businesses outside these areas that have been impacted by the storm (e.g., records are stored within a disaster area) can call the IRS and request relief at 866-562-5227.</p> <p>Technically, the IRS has no authority to extend the deadline for depositing payroll taxes and excise taxes. However, it has provided relief nonetheless by waiving any late deposit penalties as long as the deposits are made by November 26, 2012.</p> <p><strong><em>Disaster losses. </em></strong>Businesses in an area eligible for <a href="" title="Links to FEMA Website"><u>FEMA</u></a> assistance (an area declared to be a disaster area by the president) that have uninsured property losses can opt to deduct them on their 2012 tax return or claim them on a 2011 return. Taking the loss on a 2011 return requires filing an amended return, which can produce a tax refund more quickly than waiting to file for 2012. Before opting to do so, consider:</p> <ul> <li> Which year will result in the larger tax savings (based on overall income and deductions for each year)? You may not know this until your 2012 return is being prepared in 2013.</li> <li> Taking the loss on the 2011 return does <em>not </em>reduce self-employment tax for that year. The 2012 disaster loss only impacts income taxes in 2011 if the loss is carried back to that year.</li> </ul> <p>If you&rsquo;re eligible for a disaster loss deduction, work with your tax advisor to determine the better year in which to take the loss.</p> <p><strong>Property losses</strong></p> <p>Victims of the storm may recoup some of their property losses and get back to business by insurance recoveries, assistance from FEMA or other agencies and organizations, and through SBA disaster loans (explained later).</p> <p><strong><em>Property damage. </em></strong>If your business property was damaged or destroyed, your business owner&rsquo;s policy (BOP) can provide relief to the extent of the coverage you carry (minus your deductible). Watch for limits on the policy, such as payments for flood or hurricane damage; talk to your agent about this.</p> <p><strong><em>Lost profits. </em></strong>If you have business interruption coverage, you may be reimbursed for expenses you have during your recovery period, such as rent, payroll, and utilities. The coverage also pays for lost profits (defined in your policy). It may also pay for replacement space, such as another office that you use until your own can be repaired.</p> <p>If you don&rsquo;t have such coverage, discuss this with your insurance agent to determine whether to buy it now for protection in case of future disasters.</p> <p><strong><em>Disaster relief grants. </em></strong>If your business receives any disaster relief grants, they are fully taxable. Unlike such help for individuals, disaster relief payments to businesses are always <a href="" title="Links to IRS website"><u>taxable</u></a>.</p> <p><strong>Other relief items</strong></p> <p>Even though you are outside of the affected areas, your business may help with disaster relief efforts. If your business has a leave-donation program where employees can donate unused vacation, sick, or personal days to charity, there is a special rule for donations to storm victims. Usually, the donated leave is taxable to employees, but for donations for Hurricane Sandy relief, the <a href="" title="Links to IRS Website"><u>unused leave is tax-free</u></a>. Employees cannot take a charitable contribution deduction; employers can. Alternatively, employers can opt to treat the donated leave as compensation. The funds must be forwarded to an IRS-approved charity no later than December 31, 2013.</p> <p>If your business obtains a <a href="" title="Links to SBA gov"><u>disaster loan from the SBA</u>&nbsp;</a> for physical damages or economic injury, the loan proceeds are not taxable. Interest payments are tax deductible.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Natural disasters are devastating for those impacted by them. They also serve as warnings to businesses outside affected areas to become better prepared for future events. Work with your tax and insurance advisors to review your disaster preparedness and recovery plans.</p> The Industry Word Emergency Planning Managing Taxes Fri, 21 Dec 2012 13:29:52 +0000 BarbaraWeltman 386831 at Sandy Update 4: Send Us Your Completed Loan Application before the Deadline <p><strong>Update: The filing deadline for New York is now January 28, 2013.</strong></p> <p><strong>Update 2: The filing deadline for New Jersey is now January 30, 2013 and the filing deadline for Rhode Island is January 28, 2013.</strong></p> <p>So far the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $150 million in disaster loans to about 2,500 homeowners, renters and businesses in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island who are recovering from Hurricane Sandy.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet while we&rsquo;ve sent out more than 360,000 applications, about 22,000 have been returned to SBA.&nbsp; If you have a disaster loan application, you should complete and send it back to us as soon as possible.</p> <p>The filing deadline for physical property damage disaster loan applications is Dec. 31 for New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.&nbsp; The filing deadline is Jan. 15<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;for residents and businesses in Rhode Island.</p> <p>Your insurance policy may not cover all the replacement, repair and rebuilding costs &ndash; and the disaster loan is available to cover the difference.&nbsp; You don&rsquo;t have to wait for an insurance settlement, though.&nbsp; If the insurance money covers damage that you&rsquo;ve borrowed for, the overlap can be used pay down the loan.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you think you need help filling out the application, or have questions about what documents are required to complete the process, here&rsquo;s you what you can do:</p> <ul> <li> You can visit a local Disaster Recovery Center or a Business Recovery Center. Here&rsquo;s the link to the center locations: <a href="" title=""></a>.</li> <li> You can also call 1-800-659-2955. Those who have a speech disability or healing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585.</li> <li> SBA Small Business Development Centers are available to help business owners complete loan applications, and give advice on how to rebuild and grow in the aftermath of the disaster. Visit <a href="" title="SBDC locator"></a> to find your local SBDC.</li> </ul> <p>Meanwhile, check out this informative video that explains SBA disaster assistance for businesses of all sizes.</p> <p class="rtecenter" style=""><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Previously</strong></p> <p><a href="">Sandy Update 1: SBA Coordinating with Our Federal Partners</a><br /> <a href="">Sandy Update 2: SBA Standing Ready to Help Businesses, Homeowners and Renters Recover</a><br /> <a href="">Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You&rsquo;re Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Fri, 07 Dec 2012 16:29:02 +0000 James Rivera 377331 at Sandy Update 3: Top Five Reasons You're Eligible to Apply for SBA Disaster Assistance <p><span style="font-size:14px;">A month after Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast, homeowners, renters and businesses are dealing with the challenging task of rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="" style="text-decoration: underline;"><img alt="Hurricane Sandy" src="/sites/default/files/images/Hurricane Sandy Hero.jpg" style="width: 375px; height: 167px; margin: 0px 5px; float: left;" /></a></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:14px;">There&rsquo;s a lot of information out there about different forms of federal assistance, and a lot of confusion about the U.S. Small Business Administration&rsquo;s role in helping homeowners, renters and businesses recover. The SBA is committed to the long-term recovery of the people and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 14px;">Don&rsquo;t let misinformation keep you from getting an SBA disaster loan! Here are the facts:</span></p> <ol> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>You don&rsquo;t have to be a business owner</strong> to apply for an SBA disaster loan.&nbsp; SBA makes low-interest loans to homeowners of up to $200,000 to repair or replace the residence.&nbsp; Renters and homeowners are also eligible to apply for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property &ndash; like furniture, cars, appliances &ndash; that isn&rsquo;t fully covered by insurance.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Most business disaster loans approved by SBA are made at the <strong>4 percent interest rate</strong>.&nbsp; There is no sliding or variable interest rate scale.&nbsp; Businesses that have additional assets, cash flow and higher credit scores that enable them to qualify elsewhere for credit can still get an SBA loan, but at a higher interest rate of 6 percent.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">A notice about the Coastal Barrier Resources Act &ndash; which prohibits residents and businesses in Coastal Barrier areas from receiving federal disaster assistance &ndash; was included in disaster loan packets. If your property is on a coastal area, <strong>don&rsquo;t assume you aren&rsquo;t eligible to apply </strong>for an SBA disaster loan.&nbsp;&nbsp; Once we get the application, we can make the decision to process the loan application.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Even if you don&rsquo;t have insurance,</strong> you can still apply for SBA disaster assistance.&nbsp; And if you do have insurance, don&rsquo;t wait to receive a settlement before you apply for an SBA disaster loan. We don&rsquo;t want you to miss the application deadline.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Your important documents</strong> &ndash; like property records, financial information &ndash; were probably lost in the storm.&nbsp; No worries &ndash; the SBA has resources available to help you complete the disaster loan application anyway.</span></li> </ol> <p><span style="font-size:14px;">There are several ways to apply:&nbsp;</span></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Apply online at&nbsp; <a href="" title="ELA"></a>.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">Visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area: <a href=""></a></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">For information about the disaster loan process, or to have an application mailed to you, email <a href=""></a> or call 1-800-659-2955. Those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired can call 1-800-877-8339.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">To download an application, click: <a href=""></a>.</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size:14px;">To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, register online at <a href=""></a> or use your mobile device at <a href=""></a>.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Previously</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="">Sandy Update 1: SBA Coordinating with Our Federal Partners</a><br /> <a href="">Sandy Update 2: SBA Standing Ready to Help Businesses, Homeowners and Renters Recover</a></span></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Thu, 29 Nov 2012 18:26:21 +0000 James Rivera 370951 at Hurricane Sandy Update 2: SBA Standing Ready to Help Businesses, Homeowners and Renters Recover <p>Many business owners, homeowners, and renters along the East Coast are coming back to find physical damage to their buildings and property as a result of Hurricane Sandy.&nbsp; In addition, thousands of businesses are dealing with the economic blow caused by power outages, damaged inventory, and lost profits from being closed down.</p> <p>The Small Business Administration stands ready to help.</p> <p>How does SBA help businesses, homeowners and renters recover? Three main ways:</p> <p class="rteindent1">1. Businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size can apply for a low-interest disaster loan of up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate or inventory.</p> <p class="rteindent1">2. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, also up to $2 million.&nbsp; With all of the power outages and evacuations, we know that many small businesses made it through the storm, but they&rsquo;ve lost significant amounts of business.&nbsp; In many cases, these businesses will be eligible for EIDL loans to help cover their working capital needs, regardless of whether the business suffered property damage.</p> <p class="rteindent1">3. Finally, homeowners can apply for loans of up to $200,000 to repair damaged real estate.&nbsp; Homeowners and renters can also apply to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property damaged by the storm.&nbsp; In addition, we can sometimes increase a loan by up to 20 percent to make structural improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.</p> <p>Once the disaster declaration is made for your area, there are several ways to apply:</p> <ul> <li> Apply online at&nbsp; <a href="" title="ELA"></a></li> <li> Visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area: <a href="" title="FEMA DRCs"></a></li> <li> For information about the disaster loan process, or to have an application mailed to you, you can either email <a href="" title="ODA Customer Service Email"></a> or call 1-800-659-2955. Those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired can call 1-800-877-8339.</li> <li> To download an application, go here: <a href="" title="ODA"></a></li> </ul> <p>As of last night, more than 292,607 disaster survivors from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have applied for federal disaster assistance, and more than $277 million in Individual Assistance has been approved.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you are a survivor, it&rsquo;s important to take that the first step is to register with FEMA, by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or going online to <a href="" title="FEMA"></a> on your computer or mobile device.</p> <p>Already, we have disaster recovery personnel conducting damage assessments and many more disaster reservists ready to mobilize.&nbsp; In addition, business owners can get free help completing applications and creating plans to rebuild at our local Small Business Development Centers. To find the location nearest you, visit <a href="" title="SBDC locator"></a>.</p> <p>Our commitment at SBA and throughout the Administration is that we will be there until we get the job done &ndash; and we will get it done right. For more about the government-wide response to Sandy, visit&nbsp;<a href="" title=""></a>.</p> <p><iframe frameborder="0" height="298" scrolling="auto" src="" title="Hurricane<br /> Sandy Widget" width="200">&amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;;amp;amp;quot; href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt; Government Resources to Help You Recover from Hurricane Sandy&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;</iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong></p> <p><a href="]" title="blog">Superstorm Sandy Update: SBA Coordinating with Our Federal Partners</a></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Wed, 07 Nov 2012 19:40:22 +0000 James Rivera 358151 at Superstorm Sandy Update: SBA Coordinating with Our Federal Partners <p>Many communities are still feeling the effects of Superstorm Sandy, including power outages and flooding. The importance of listening to instructions and safety information from your local officials and FEMA cannot be understated.</p> <p>Federal response teams are already providing assistance to affected communities. SBA is closely coordinating with our federal partners to share information in the immediate aftermath of the storm.</p> <ul> <li> For the latest on the Federal government&rsquo;s response to Sandy, you can read <a href="" title="FEMA blog">FEMA&rsquo;s blog</a>&nbsp;or follow <a href="" title="FEMA tweets">updates on Twitter</a>.</li> <li> If you need emergency shelter, you can download the <a href="" title="RC app">Red Cross Hurricane app</a>, visit the <a href="" title="RC shelters">Red Cross web site</a>, or check your local media outlets. You should also register on the <a href="" title="Safe and Well">Red Cross Safe and Well website</a>, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. Finally, you can download the <a href="" title="FEMA app">FEMA smartphone app</a>&nbsp;or text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). <em>Standard rates apply</em></li> <li> If you&rsquo;re not in an affected area, please consider donating blood, because numerous blood drives have been canceled as a result of the storm. To schedule a blood donation or for more information about giving blood or platelets, visit <a href="" title="RC blood"></a> or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).</li> </ul> <p>SBA plays an important role in disaster recovery efforts for businesses and homeowners. As disaster assessments and declarations are made, various SBA disaster recovery loan programs become available to eligible applicants. We will continue to highlight these programs as communities turn to longer-term recovery efforts.</p> <p>For more information about SBA&rsquo;s disaster assistance programs, visit <a href="" title="SBA disaster loans"></a> or call our disaster assistance center at 1-800-659-2955.</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Tue, 30 Oct 2012 20:44:10 +0000 James Rivera 353121 at It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month - Tips for Safeguarding Your Business <p>Small businesses are becoming a larger target for criminals seeking to access sensitive data because attackers are well aware that small businesses have limited resources or personnel dedicated to information system security. In an effort to combat cyber-attacks, the Department of Homeland Security established October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month to educate the public about cyber security and to prepare the nation in the event of a cyber-incident.</p> <p>Here are 9 steps your business can take to improve your cyber security:</p> <ol> <li> <strong>Use the FCC&rsquo;s Small Biz Cyber Planner to create a cyber security plan</strong> <p> The <a href="" title="FCC Cyber Planner">Small Biz Cyber Planner</a> is valuable for businesses that lack the resources to hire a dedicated staff member to protect themselves from cyber threats. The tool walks users through a series of questions to determine which cyber security strategies should be included in the planning guide, and generates a customized PDF that serves as a cyber security strategy template.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Establish cyber-security rules for &nbsp;your employees</strong> <p> Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect personally identifiable information. &nbsp;Clearly detail the penalties for violating cyber security policies.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code</strong> <p> Install, use, and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business. Such software is readily available online from a variety of vendors.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Educate employees about safe social media practices</strong> <p> Depending on what your business does, employees might be introducing competitors to sensitive details about your firm&rsquo;s internal business. Employees should be taught how to post online in a way that does not reveal any trade secrets to the public or competing businesses. This type of safe social networking can help avoid serious risks to your business.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Manage and assess risk</strong> <p> Ask yourself, &ldquo;What do we have to protect? And, what would impact our business the most?&rdquo; Cyber-criminals often use lesser-protected small businesses as a bridge to attack larger firms with which they have a relationship. This can make unprepared small firms a less attractive business partner in the future, blocking potentially lucrative business deals.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Download and install software updates when they are available</strong> <p> All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security problems and improve functionality. Configure all software to install such updates automatically.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Make backup copies of important business data and information</strong> <p> Regularly backup the data on every computer used in your business. Critical data includes word processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Control physical access to computers and network components</strong> <p> Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft, so make sure they are stored and locked up when unattended.<br /> &nbsp;</p></li> <li> <strong>Secure Wi-Fi networks</strong> <p> If you have a Wi-Fi network for your home business make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, configure your wireless access point or router so that it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). &nbsp;In addition, make sure that passwords are required for access. It is also critical to change the administrative password that was on the device when it was first purchased.</p></li> </ol> <p>Cyber security is an ever-changing field and businesses must continually adapt to new attack methods.&nbsp; Check out the National Cybersecurity Alliance&rsquo;s <a href="" target="_blank" title="Stay Safe Online"></a> or the FTC&rsquo;s <a href="" title="On Guard Online"></a>, both of which provide information about cyber security issues.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="" title="FCC PDF">FCC&#39;s Cybersecurity Tips for Small Business</a></em></p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <p><a href="" title="NCSAM">National Cyber Security Awareness Month at the Dept. of Homeland Security</a><br /> <a href="" title="FCC Cyber Security for Small Biz">Federal Communications Commission &ndash; Cyber Security for Small Business</a><br /> <a href="" title="Learn more">Learn more about National Cyber Security Awareness Month</a></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Managing Fri, 19 Oct 2012 16:43:25 +0000 Stephen Morris 340141 at 5 Tax Breaks to Help See You through a Storm or Other Devastating Event <p>Every year, countless businesses across the country experience hurricanes, blizzards, power outages, fires, tornados, and other events that can temporarily disrupt activities and, in some cases, put them out of business. For instance, in *<a href=";itemID=41018&amp;URL=esearch/Fire%20statistics/The%20U.S.%20fire%20problem" title="Links to NFPA Organization Website"><u>2010</u></a>, there were 98,000 fires to nonresidential structures, resulting in $2.6 billion in property damage. Hopefully, business owners are smart enough to carry adequate insurance to offset their property losses and have business recovery plans that enable them to function again. But despite all the planning, devastating events can still cause significant financial hardship to businesses. Fortunately, tax rules can help soften the financial blow.</p> <p><strong>1. Take a tax deduction for property damage</strong></p> <p>If insurance does not cover the damage or destruction to your business property, you can take a tax deduction against your business income. The write-off is the <em>lower of </em>decline in the value of the property as a result of the casualty event, such as a storm or fire, or the property&rsquo;s adjusted basis. The loss is reduced by any insurance proceeds or other reimbursements you receive. If you experience a flood to your workspace and you&rsquo;ve fully written off the cost of a water-logged computer (by claiming expensing or depreciation for the purchase price), you don&rsquo;t get any casualty loss deduction because your adjusted basis in the property is zero.</p> <p>Casualty loss deductions for non-business (personal) property are subject to two limitations: (1) a reduction of $100 per casualty event and (2) a 10%-of-adjusted gross income floor before which any deduction can be claimed. There are no limitations for losses to business property.</p> <p>Use a special <a href="" title="Links to IRS Website page"><u>IRS workbook</u></a> to figure your losses.</p> <p><strong>2. Get a tax refund by reporting a disaster loss on the prior year&rsquo;s return</strong></p> <p>If the loss occurred in an area declared eligible for relief from the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency (FEMA), then your casualty event has become a disaster loss. This gives you the option to deduct the loss on the return for the year of the event or on the return for the prior year. Taking the loss on a return for the prior year generates a tax refund that can be used to help you rebuild your business. If you&rsquo;ve already filed the previous year&rsquo;s tax return, simply file an amended return to report the loss.</p> <p>Find a list of <a href="" title="Links to FEMA Website page"><u>disaster areas from FEMA</u></a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Defer your gain from insurance proceeds</strong></p> <p>How can a casualty loss produce a tax gain? This occurs when the insurance proceeds that you receive are greater than the adjusted basis of the property to which they relate. If, for example, you recover $1,500 for a computer that now has a zero basis (explained earlier), you have a $1,500 gain. This gain is <em>not </em>taxed now if you obtain replacement property within a set replacement period.</p> <p>Find out more about <a href="" title="Links to IRS Website page"><em><u>involuntary conversions</u></em><u> from the IRS</u>.</a></p> <p><strong>4. Take advantage of extensions for filing and other tax chores</strong></p> <p>When disaster strikes, the IRS may grant more time for businesses in affected areas to complete certain tax obligations, such as filing income tax returns. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, the <a href="" title="Links to IRS Website page"><u>IRS said</u></a> that businesses as well as individuals in certain locations have until January 11, 2013, to file their 2011 income tax returns if they had previously obtained extensions of time to file (to September 17, 2012, for corporations and partnerships; to October 15, 2012, for sole proprietors and owners of partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations). The same extension applies for paying estimated taxes for the third quarter of 2012 which is otherwise due on September 17.</p> <p>While the IRS is not authorized to extend the deadline for employers to deposit payroll taxes, or file employment and excise tax returns, it has said that it will abate (waive) any interest and penalties for actions that were normally due on or after August 26 and before September 10, if the deposits are made by September 10.</p> <p><strong>5. Reconstruct your tax records</strong></p> <p>Normally, you must have certain documentary proof to support deductions for various write-offs, such as business travel and meal expenses. This proof may be lost because of fire or water damage resulting from a casualty event. In this case, you are allowed to reconstruct your tax records as best you can, from memory and other sources.</p> <p>The IRS has some guidance on <a href="" title="Links to IRS Website page"><u>record reconstruction</u>.</a></p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>While tax relief is welcome, it is certainly better business practice to be prepared for storms and other occurrences. Talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage, including flood insurance if you are located in a flood zone. Also, review your record protection strategies. Storing tax records in the cloud avoids any destruction in case of a casualty event. Finally, if you experience a casualty or disaster loss, talk with your tax advisor to learn how you can take advantage of tax breaks that will save you money and perhaps generate a cash refund now.</p> <p><em>*Denotes a link to a non-government Website.</em></p> The Industry Word Business Laws Emergency Planning Managing Taxes Wed, 12 Sep 2012 13:42:11 +0000 BarbaraWeltman 297861 at Do You Have an Emergency Plan? 4 Disaster Preparedness Tips for Businesses, Homeowners and Renters <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you run a small business, you understand the benefits of &ldquo;business continuity&rdquo; and the need&nbsp;to get a plan together to protect your company from being shut down by a disaster.&nbsp; As a business owner, you also depend on the well-being of your employees, clients, customers and neighbors to stay in business.&nbsp; So it makes good business sense to do what you can to help them prepare for any kind of disaster.</p> <p>The same basic preparedness tips that work for businesses &ndash; storing important records offsite, having contact information for your employees, clients and suppliers, keeping an emergency kit nearby &ndash; also apply to homeowners and renters.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are a few disaster preparedness tips for homeowners, renters and businesses:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Make copies of your important records, and store them in a secure place far enough away in case a widespread disaster hits, yet close enough to have quick access to those documents when needed.</strong></li> <li> Keep an up-to-date list of e-mail addresses and phone numbers for family members, employees, co-workers and insurance company contacts.&nbsp; Make&nbsp;someone in your family or company responsible for maintaining this list, and for contacting everyone after the disaster.</li> <li> <strong>Do you understand the limits of your business, homeowner or renter&rsquo;s insurance policy? Check in with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage to recover from the disaster.</strong></li> <li> Put together an emergency kit that includes one gallon of water per person per day, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight with&nbsp;extra batteries, a first aid kit and a cooler to keep refrigerated food cold in case of a power outage.</li> </ul> <p>To get help on building an emergency plan for your family, check out <a href="" title=""></a>.&nbsp; If you&rsquo;re a business owner, visit the American Red Cross&rsquo; &ldquo;<a href="" title="Ready Rating">Ready Rating</a>&rdquo; site to learn how to protect your company from being shut down permanently after a disaster.</p> <p>For more disaster preparedness tips, tune into the SBA and Agility Recovery <a href="" title="Agility Recovery">business continuity webinars</a> hosted every Wednesday in September as part of National Preparedness Month.&nbsp; Getting prepared now means saving lives, money, time, and will help you return sooner to life as you know it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Note: Each year, about 80 percent of SBA <a href="" title="SBA Disaster Assistance">disaster assistance</a> goes to homeowners and renters.&nbsp; This year, the SBA has made more than 11,000 disaster loans to homeowners and renters for a total of $405 million.&nbsp; About 1,700 business disaster loans have been approved for $203 million.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Small Business Matters Emergency Planning Thu, 30 Aug 2012 19:39:31 +0000 Carol Chastang 277281 at Our Response to the 2012 Drought; SBA Recovery Assistance Available in Rural America <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Today, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.</p> <p>Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.</p> <p> To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA&rsquo;s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).</p> <p> To find out if your county has been declared a drought disaster area, view <a href="" title="current disasters">SBA&#39;s current disaster declarations page</a>. And to learn more about how to apply for a disaster loan, go to the <a href="" title="SBA disaster assistance">SBA Disaster Assistance</a> section of the SBA Web site.</p> <p>You can also contact SBA&rsquo;s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by e-mail at <a href="" title="email SBA disaster"></a>, or by calling (800) 659-2955. The USDA&rsquo;s <a href="" title="USDA disaster page">Disaster and Drought Assistance</a> site also is a good resource. It includes links to maps of current disaster declaration areas and a weekly weather and drought blog.</p> <p>In addition to our disaster loan program, the SBA, the USDA and the Department of Commerce through its Economic Development Administration (EDA) will be hosting forums in communities impacted by drought conditions. The goal of these forums will be to provide comprehensive information on the federal resources that are available to assist your farm, ranch or small business.</p> <p> At these forums, we will have SBA disaster assistance staff, our field staff and counselors from our resource partner network on hand to ensure you have all the tools and information you need to help your business.</p> <p> For those not able to attend these forums, we will be setting up shop at State and County Fairs across the country to make sure all of your questions are answered and that you are getting the assistance you need. We also will be hosting a series of online webinars and conference calls to provide real-time information and updates over the coming months.</p> <p>Rural America is critical to our nation&rsquo;s economy. And a key to the long-term success of rural communities is access and opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs in these regions. We are focused on making sure that more small businesses in rural communities have the access to capital, counseling and contracting opportunities they need to grow and create good jobs.</p> <p>We know how important credit unions are to rural communities. That&rsquo;s why the National Credit Union Administration will be announcing that an additional 1,000 credit unions are eligible for low-income designation, which exempts them from the statutory cap on small business lending. This allows unlimited lending to small business owners, including farmers. Of the 1,000 credit unions that will be receiving this designation, nearly half are located in a severely drought-stricken state.</p> <p>I travel all over the country meeting with small business owners and entrepreneurs.&nbsp;&nbsp; Some of the most innovative and exciting small businesses being built today are in Rural America. And we are going to make certain that rural businesses not only have the resources they need to endure these difficult drought conditions, but we are going to ensure that they have the tools to emerge stronger and more competitive than before.&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Tue, 07 Aug 2012 20:49:30 +0000 Karen Mills 259621 at Businesses Can Get Drought Recovery Assistance from SBA <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With small businesses that rely on agriculture facing financial hardship as a result of the worst drought to hit the United States in more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week declared drought disaster areas in nearly half of the counties in the U.S. (1,430 counties out of 3,033) in 32 states.&nbsp;</p> <p>A USDA disaster declaration is different from a declaration by the U.S. Small Business Administration. As you might expect, the declaration makes assistance available to farmers and ranchers in the form of low interest loans from the USDA. It also automatically pulls in SBA to offer help in the form of loans to the small non-farm businesses that are affected economically by the drought.</p> <p>Specifically, these businesses &ndash; including small, agricultural cooperatives &ndash; can apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, or EIDLs.&nbsp; Counted among the eligible are businesses that provide seed for crops and feed for livestock, nurseries, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>While those involved in food-producing businesses obviously are hurt financially by the lack of rainfall, some effects are less obvious. For example, serious drought also decreases water levels in lakes, which means recreational boating businesses lose money because people aren&rsquo;t renting houseboats or jet skis.</p> <p>Through SBA&rsquo;s disaster assistance program, small businesses and private nonprofits are eligible to apply for up to $2 million.&nbsp; These are working capital loans and can be used to cover operating expenses &ndash; like utilities, rent, and monthly overhead that would have been paid if the disaster had not occurred.&nbsp; The interest rate is 4 percent for businesses, 3 percent for nonprofits, with terms up to 30 years.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>To find out if your county has been declared a drought disaster area, contact SBA&rsquo;s disaster assistance Customer Service Center by e-mail at <a href="" title="Disaster Customer Service"></a>, or by calling (800) 659-2955.&nbsp;&nbsp; Those with speech or hearing impairments may call (800) 877-8339.</p> <p>The SBA recently simplified its online disaster loan application. You can apply using the <a href="" title="Electronic Loan Appliction website">Electronic Loan Application (ELA<em>)</em></a> at SBA&rsquo;s secure website.</p> <p>The <a href="" title="USDA web page">USDA&rsquo;s web page</a> is a good resource that includes a link to maps of current disaster declaration areas and a weekly weather and drought blog.</p> <p>Visit SBA&rsquo;s website for more information about the <a href="" title="SBA disaster assistance">disaster assistance</a> program.</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Financing SBA News and Views Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:27:21 +0000 Carol Chastang 174030 at Do You Have Enough Insurance to Cover Rebuilding Costs After a Disaster? <p>When it comes to insurance, small businesses stand to lose the most by not having adequate coverage.&nbsp; And while the mega-disasters like last year&rsquo;s Hurricane Irene get a lot of media attention, those cataclysmic events are rare.&nbsp;&nbsp; Smaller disasters, like the neighborhood power outage or the burst pipes that leads to a business shutting down for just a couple of days, hour, can force an under-insured business to close down for good.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="Prepare for a disaster" src="/sites/default/files/images/2887_SBA_HurricaneStatGraphic_v2A.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 185px; " title=" Prepare" /></a></p> <p>Ten months after Hurricane Irene ravaged communities along the East Coast and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Small Business Administration continues to approve disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses.&nbsp; So far SBA has approved more than $132 million in disaster loans to more than 1,400 businesses, to cover underinsured losses.&nbsp;&nbsp; After all the work you&rsquo;ve done to build a profitable business, it&rsquo;s essential to protect your investment with enough insurance to weather the disaster and quickly resume operations.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Here are a few action items to consider when filling out the insurance portion of your business continuity plan:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Review Your Insurance Coverage. </strong>Contact your insurance agent to find out if your policy is adequate for your needs.&nbsp; The policy should be tailored to the individual business and take into consideration not only property damage but loss of revenue and extra expense that occur when a disaster causes a temporary shut-down.</li> <li> <strong>Ask a lot of questions.</strong>&nbsp; Make sure you understand the policy limits, the deductible, and what is actually covered</li> <li> <strong>Consider Business Owner&rsquo;s Insurance.</strong>&nbsp; The Business Owner&rsquo;s Policy (BOP) is a standard insurance package of coverage that a typical small or medium-sized business would need.&nbsp;&nbsp; It includes general liability protection, and business interruption insurance, which provides money to offset lost profits or pay operating expenses the business could have covered if the disaster had not occurred.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong>What about Flood Insurance?</strong> According to the U.S. Geological Survey, floods are the leading cause of natural disaster property losses. &nbsp;Business owners, particularly those running home-based businesses, should consider getting coverage from the <a href="" title="National Flood Insurance Program">National Flood Insurance Program</a>. Most homeowners&rsquo; insurance policies don&rsquo;t cover flood losses.</li> <li> <strong>Know what you own.&nbsp; </strong>Inventory your personal and business assets before the disaster occurs.&nbsp; Record the price and estimated replacement cost of furniture, computers, machinery&mdash;everything of value at your business.&nbsp; Keep receipts, take photos and video of your property, and store that information office at a secure location.</li> </ul> <p>Having a plan in place to restore your business to its pre-disaster condition requires a bit of focus and foresight, and the cash to maintain the right insurance policies.&nbsp; In the long term, it will make a difference when it comes time to deal with the aftermath any kind of disaster, whether it&rsquo;s a massive hurricane, or the water-main break in the alley behind your business.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="" title=" Risk Mitigation">Insurance is Financial Risk Mitigation&mdash;Ready.Gov</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="">Protect Your Small Business with Flood Insurance from</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="Business Insurance">Business Insurance&mdash;Insurance Information Institute</a></li> </ul> Small Business Matters Emergency Planning Managing Mon, 18 Jun 2012 15:36:54 +0000 Carol Chastang 154011 at Is Your Company Prepared to Respond After a Disaster? <p>When a disaster occurs, it&rsquo;s often the misleading bit of information shared by an outsider that gins up rumors about a damaged business shutting down.&nbsp; Obviously, this situation undermines the company&rsquo;s ability to recover. That&rsquo;s one big reason why precise, effective communication &ndash; within the organization, and out to the public &ndash; is vital during an emergency.</p> <p>Now that the Atlantic Hurricane season has begun, it&rsquo;s a good time to set up an effective crisis communications strategy.&nbsp; You want to develop a plan to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, contractors &ndash; everyone you do business with &ndash; is aware of the progress you&rsquo;re making as you recover in the aftermath of a disaster.</p> <p>Here are a few tips to get your company&rsquo;s crisis communications plan started:</p> <ul> <li> Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List that includes a home phone, alternate mobile, personal email, family contact information, and the evacuation plan.</li> <li> Establish an email alert system capable of multiple means of communication to employees, stakeholders and clients.&nbsp; Test the alert system regularly.</li> <li> Consider an online social network platform for web-based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)</li> <li> Having a plan to deal with local media is also essential. With a good strategy in place, the media can become a supportive function as you rebuild after a disaster.</li> <li> Designate primary and secondary spokespersons, and give them training in dealing with the media. Make sure all employees know the name of the spokesperson.</li> <li> Create key message and talking points to ensure consistent messaging.</li> <li> Continuously monitor what&rsquo;s being said and written about your company both online and offline, so you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and messaging.</li> </ul> <p>After the crisis, notify all critical people of your next steps. It&rsquo;s also a good idea to do a debrief with your staff to evaluate lessons learned, and how to improve the plan if necessary.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s a great <a href="" title="Crisis Communications Checklist">crisis communications checklist</a> on Agility Recovery&rsquo;s website.&nbsp; Use it to create your own plan.</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Managing Mon, 04 Jun 2012 15:37:03 +0000 Carol Chastang 150501 at FROM NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK - Recap of Phoenix Awards for Outstanding Disaster Recovery <p>This week we&rsquo;re blogging from <a href="" title="NSBW website">National Small Business Week</a>, a public-private partnership event to honor and empower America&rsquo;s small business community.&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Phoenix award photo" src="" style="float: right; width: 275px; height: 206px; " /></p> <p>We just wrapped up the Phoenix Award banquet, honoring the selfless disaster recovery efforts of four individuals.&nbsp;</p> <p>Al Mignacci, a retired engineer, took the community under his wing after tornadoes hit the Stony Brook mobile home development in Raleigh, North Carolina.&nbsp; He volunteered his time and professional skills to rebuild mobile homes, coordinate other volunteers and personally make construction repairs.</p> <p>Barry O&rsquo;Donovan, owner of Kilkenny House restaurant in Cranford, NJ, worked with SBA to get <a href="">working capital</a> after Hurricane Irene damaged his pub.&nbsp; Through his community involvement and the help of <a href="">SBA&rsquo;s Office of Disaster Assistance</a>, he re-opened only six weeks after the disaster.&nbsp; As Barry remarked, &ldquo;SBA made it easy for me to get the loan and the working capital for my business.&rdquo;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Mayor Gregg Kennedy of Smithville, MS and Mike Fisher of Bastrop County, TX each received awards for outstanding disaster response work as public officials.&nbsp; Mayor Kennedy, a part-time mayor, took a leave of absence from his full-time job to help out his battered town in the wake of a devastating tornado. &nbsp;And Mike Fisher led his county&rsquo;s response to the worst wildfire incident in Texas history, working effectively with state and federal agencies to successfully rebuild Bastrop County.</p> <p>Congratulations to our Phoenix award winners for their outstanding disaster recovery efforts. Learn more about SBA&quot;s<a href="" title="Disaster Loan Programs"> disaster loan programs</a> and <a href="">emergency preparadeness</a> services.&nbsp;</p> <p>Be sure to stay tuned for more updates from throughout the week on our <a href="">live feed</a>, the&nbsp;<a href="">SBA blog</a>, <a href="">Facebook</a>, and<a href=""> Twitter</a> (use hashtag #SBW2012).</p> Open For Business Emergency Planning Tue, 22 May 2012 21:52:16 +0000 nicoj 147971 at