ABC Solutions

18 Small Business Opportunities in 2020

Deciding on the kind of business you want to start is a very big decision. Some require specialized skills that either the owner or employees will need. Others require a substantial initial capital outlay. In any case, it’s always a good idea to consider the health of the industry you’ll be entering in.
While we are not giving any kind of investment advice in this article, we thought it’d be fun to list the business ideas that will be recession-proof in 2020, many of which were also fast-growing in 2019. They are not in any particular order.
1. Bicycle shops
Demand for bikes ramped up this year when people started staying at home due to shelter-in-place orders. They saw the need to exercise close to home, and a bike is the perfect accessory to get people out of the house safely.
2. Building services
This group includes businesses that provide services like office and home cleaning, landscaping, and pest control. New demands in cleaning will continue for some time.
3. Software development
Businesses with skilled developers are in demand as other businesses look to automate more and more of their processes. Workers with skills in artificial intelligence and virtual reality are in very high demand. In 2020, we added a huge demand for video conferencing tools, and other tech tools we need to work from home.
4. Online publishers
While the traditional print media such as book publishers and newspapers are declining in growth, online publishers are thriving. This category includes bloggers as well as the internet stars on YouTube that are making great money through online ads and product endorsements. The fast pace of the news in 2020 has simply accelerated this trend.
5. Building finishers
This category includes construction companies that provide drywall, painting, and flooring to finish out a building or house. Th need will continue in 2020 as offices, shops, and other businesses remodel to meet social distancing and other safety rules.
6. Outpatient care
An alternative to going to the hospital emergency room, these care facilities are growing fast. For patients, they are less hassle than making an appointment with a doctor and far less expensive than ER bills. Once tests and treatments for COVID-19 become universal, these places will become good alternative for people with mild symptoms.
7. Administrative services
There’s a growing need for businesses that need additional administrative support beyond what employees can provide. Virtual assistants are included in this category as well as staffing companies that provide temporary clerical workers onsite.
8. Physicians
If you’ve ever been in a doctor’s office waiting room full of people, you know that this area is in demand. This include offices of physicians of all specialties.
9. Professional drivers
Professional drivers fall into two categories: truck drivers and delivery/taxi services. The demand for truck drivers is always increasing as online orders and ecommerce steadily grows. Many of these drivers are independent and own their own rigs as well as their own businesses.
Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and DoorDash, to name a few, have increased the demand for professional drivers who can deliver food, medicine, or people to where they need to go.
10. Data processing
The demand for data hosting, server farms, and data processing continues to grow as our appetite for technology increases.
11. Warehousing and storage
Places like self-storage facilities will be in demand for a couple of reasons. Families have more stuff than they have room for. And as families continue to be mobile, they will need temporary storage space. All you have to do is look on your street at all the cars that don’t fit in their garages to see the demand in this type of business.
On the commercial side, increased ecommerce demand and the need for pickup and delivery services has increased the need for warehouses for businesses in the distribution space.
12. Construction
In most places, construction is booming, so there is a demand for general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and businesses that support construction.
Architects should be busy re-designing spaces, such as offices, restaurants, nursing homes, day care centers, and jails, to name a few, to keep people safer.
13. Medical and diagnostic laboratories
Even before COVID-19 came on the scene, this type of business was growing fast for several reasons beyond standard medical test ordered by doctors. People are getting DNA tests on their own, and nutritionists are doing more testing as people realize diet is a huge factor in health and personal energy.
Now that COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment require a variety of tests, these labs will be busy for a long time in the future.
14. Ecommerce wholesalers
There is a growing number of people who sell items on ecommerce platforms such as eBay and Amazon. While a few source these items through agreements with manufacturers, many visit flea markets, donation centers, and resell shops to make their purchases and repurpose the items.
Smart wholesalers that have their systems set up can help brick-and-mortar shops without an ecommerce presence sell their items while they are shuttered.
15. Professional services
Fields that are fastest-growing include technology and marketing consultants. An interesting new type of security consultant is one that trains groups on how to deal with violence in the workplace and schools.
Attorneys are busy helping individuals update their estate plans and will likely be busy with divorce filings after COVID-19 has let up some. Accountants have new laws to communicate to their clients, and many small businesses want their books caught up now.
16. Educational services
This broad group include elementary and secondary schools and junior colleges. It also includes adult career education, including businesses that teach trades skills, computer skills, and business skills.
Companies that provide an online component to learning will be in demand for quite a while.
17. Real estate agents
Competitive, yes. But the average home sells twice as fast as it did eight years ago, so the number of transactions have doubled, increasing demand.
18. Personal services
While a broad category, the areas seeing growth include personal trainers, personal nutritionists, and wedding planners, to name a few.
If your business falls into one of these categories, congratulations. If you’re considering starting a business and you have the skills needed to start one of the businesses above, what are you waiting for?

Cool Tech Tools: Apps that Get You Places

If you’re unlucky enough to have a car without GPS navigation maps, the next best thing to use is your smartphone. This article will take a look at apps that help to get you from point A to point B.

Google Maps

Google Maps is the all-around favorite, whether you own an iPhone or an Android.  The default navigation system on the iPhone is Apple Maps, so you will need to download Google Maps to get it.

The database is robust, mostly up-to-date, and shows not only places but also traffic congestion.

Waze

Waze is a crowd-sourced app that is good for current traffic conditions.  It has some fun features, such as the speed limit of the road you’re on. You can even set it to warn you when you’re speeding. Waze users let others know where local police are checking for speeders, although this is a bit of a controversial use of the software.  Other user reports include the locations of construction, road hazards, gas stations, and toll roads. A carpooling feature is also available.

At this writing, Google Maps and Waze, both owned by Google, are the only apps available for Auto navigation on the Android.

Komoot

Do you prefer to cycle or hike?  If so, Komoot’s AllTrails app maps all of the hiking and cycling trails around your town.  It lets you know the distance, elevation, and suggested fitness level of each trail so you can plan accordingly.  You can set routes and save them as well as favorite your local trails.

There’s no fee to use the above apps.  The following apps require a fee to use.

Bird and Lime

Don’t have your own rideYou may have seen people riding on motorized scooters or simply seen scooters parked on sidewalks scattered here and there. Welcome to the new field of micromobility. If you need to get somewhere that’s too short a distance for a car but too long to walk, you can unlock one of these rides with an app and hop on. A couple of companies in this space include Bird Rides Inc. (bird.co) and Lime (li.me), and Lyft.

Uber and Lyft

Of course, if you want a car, you can get a quick ride via Uber or Lyft as well as rent a car at all the traditional places.

Try out these apps so you can get where you want to go.

How to Work from Home More Often

If you agree that “there’s no place like home,” then you may also have a wish to work from home more often. In many cases, you can, and here are some tools you need to get started.

If the products and services your business sells can be sold or delivered digitally, then you’re a candidate for working from home most of the time. If you have a storefront where customers visit to purchase your products and services, you can still perform some of your business duties remotely or rely on staff to greet and serve the customers.

You may also be able to be proactive about moving more and more of your business online. Some examples include:

  1. Hold more business meetings online instead of face to face.
  2. Encourage employees to work from home if their presence does not require face-to-face customer meetings.
  3. Provide online training for clients who cannot travel to an onsite course.
  4. Move your scheduling online by providing an app for clients to book their own appointments.
  5. Move your products online by using a shopping cart.
  6. Provide a delivery option in your business. (This may have you or your staff traveling more and not less unless your items can be delivered via a shipping service.)

Meeting with Customers

The next best thing to greeting customers in person is using video-conferencing.  You can easily start with FaceTime (for iPhone users). Android users have it a little tougher, but many use Facebook’s Messenger, Google’s Duo (both parties need to download the app), or imo (ditto on both parties).

If you have more complex meeting needs, software like Zoom is perfect to get you started. Hardware-wise, you’ll need a webcam, and a microphone is preferred. If you have a cell phone, you can use the mic and speakers in the headset provided.

Simply create your account at Zoom, and set up a meeting.  Invite people by emailing them a link to join you. Join the meeting at the set time, and conduct your business with your customer. You can hide your webcam if you’re shy, and you can share your screen in case you want to go over a report or something else with your client. Zoom has a free account option and can be found at https://zoom.us.

And remember, if you’re a little too shy for videoconferencing, you can always conduct business with clients using the good old-fashioned telephone or email.

Sharing Documents with Customers

If you have documents to share with all of your customers, you can post them online on your website. If you have private documents, you can use portal software to securely create a private section of the portal exclusively for that client. Apps that can do this and that are not accounting-specific include Citrix ShareFile and Box.com.

You can also share documents that don’t have sensitive financial or company information with clients using Google Drive. Simply create them, then share them using the email addresses of the appropriate clients.

Receiving Client Communications

Already customers are reaching out to businesses via all of the social media platforms as well as the messaging platforms, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Your virtual team can easily track all of these incoming messages by watching for notifications from anywhere in the world.

You might also be using an industry-specific app for customer interactions. For example, if you’re in the wellness space, MindBody apps are ubiquitous. If you’re an attorney, you’re likely using Clio.

Keeping in Touch with Your Team

You can use the same tools mentioned above to connect with your team members, but you will probably want one or two more apps – a private messaging app for when urgent things come up that need an immediate answer, and in some cases, a task management system.

Software like Slack is perfect for you to stay in touch with your team and keep communications private. It provides messaging functionality and more.

For task management, there are literally hundreds of apps to choose from. The simplest is something like Todoist, and typical small business options include software such as Asana and Monday.com.

If you want a Swiss-army-knife suite of tools that perform many of the above functions and are deeply integrated, Microsoft Teams fits the bill by providing a full collaborative platform for businesses of all sizes.

There’s No Place Like Home

We hope these apps provide you with the ability to stay in touch with your customers and your business while working from home, sweet home.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan and the Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Loan

On Friday, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law, and one part of it includes two loan programs for small businesses.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan

Owners of businesses, including nonprofits, with less than 500 employees that have been impacted financially due to the coronavirus can apply for a nonrecourse loan up to the lesser of $10 million or roughly 2.5 times the average monthly payroll (there is a formula to calculate the loan amount) to help them maintain their employees.

The proceeds of the loan must be tracked separately, preferably in a separate bank account and only be used to cover payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage interest, and health insurance costs. A portion of the loan can be forgiven if it has been used properly. If any employees were terminated during the loan period, forgiveness will be reduced accordingly.

The loan terms are 2 years, payments to start in 6 months, and 1% interest. You can apply at any SBA-approved 7(a) bank; here is a list of some of them: https://www.sba.gov/article/2020/mar/02/100-most-active-sba-7a-lenders

The loans are first-come, first-served and are available until the $349 billion fund runs out or June 30, 2020, whichever is sooner. The application form is here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf. However, many banks have created their own applications and have also created additional conditions. For example, Bank of America requires borrowers to have an account with them.

Wells Fargo is no longer taking any more applications. https://update.wf.com/coronavirus/paycheckprotectionprogram/

Chase was encouraging borrowers to get in the queue here, and right now, it’s down:  https://recovery.chase.com/cares1

Bank of America has already taken billions of applications and is taking them here:

https://about.bankofamerica.com/promo/assistance/latest-updates-from-bank-of-america-coronavirus/small-business-assistance

Here is US Bank’s page: https://www.usbank.com/business-banking/business-lending/sba-loans/paycheck-protection-program.html

Fifth Third is taking applications: https://www.53.com/content/fifth-third/en/alerts/covid-sba-cares-act.html

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

A second option is the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Owners of businesses, including nonprofits, with less than 500 employees that have been impacted financially due to the coronavirus can apply for a loan up to $2 million to help them cover payroll, rent, and utilities. There is a $10,000 forgivable advance that is supposed to be funded in 3 days.

The interest rate on this loan is higher and payments start in one year. There is no forgiveness on this loan (except for the advance). A business cannot get both loans.  If a business has already applied for the EIDL, it can be rolled into the PPP loan.

Application is through SBA. https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance

Please be cautious when applying for any loan.  There are very strong penalties for failing to comply with the requirements of these loans. If you need help with the payroll computation or setting up tracking for the loan proceeds and subsequent spending, please reach out any time.

Mobile Accounting? It’s Here, Now

That’s right: The future is here! Now that it’s officially 2020, it may be time to jump on that accounting app bandwagon if you haven’t already done so. The exciting news is you can actually do a lot of your accounting tasks from your phone instead of your computer.

Here are just a few examples of accounting things you can do on your phone.

Banking

Are you still trudging to the bank to make your deposits?  If so, there is a better way! Simply download your bank’s mobile app, login, and look for the Make Deposit function. Get the check you want to deposit, write “For Electronic Deposit Only” on the back and endorse it. On your phone, enter the amount, then take a picture of the check. Presto! Hit Deposit and the money will be in your account in no time.

Receipts

Shoeboxes of receipts are a thing of the past. (Thank goodness, we say, as we wipe our forehead!) Send your receipts to your accountant simply by taking a picture of them and sending them via email or through a document entry system like Receipt Bank or AutoEntry.  You’ll need to set this up to connect with your accounting system, but once it’s set up, it’s a real time-saver.

Accounting

Wondering how much income you made last month? Download your accounting app on your phone and login to get many of the features that you have on your computer onto your phone. You’ll need to be on a cloud system like QuickBooks Online or Xero, or possibly have a hosted desktop solution in order to have this functionality.

Payroll

There’s no need to be tied to your desk on payroll day if you can submit or approve payroll from your phone.  Many payroll systems have apps you can download so you can be free of your computer.

Add-ons

There’s a mobile app for almost any add-on you might need, such as TSheets for time tracking or Square for taking payments.

Artificial Intelligence

There are even some apps where you can talk in plain English and get a plain English answer back. These apps are using artificial intelligence which is exploding in the accounting space.  You can ask questions about your cash flow or check a metric that you like to follow.

Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to find out more or get help moving some of your accounting functions to your mobile phone.

If you find yourself on the go more often than not, having constant access to your business accounts and these features will be beneficial.