What do you need to know about the SMEs stimulus?

What do you need to know about the SMEs stimulus?

What do you need to know about the SMEs stimulus

Congress approved a new SME stimulus aid.

The bill approved $484 billion to help small businesses keep afloat.

The  initial stimulus program included $350 billion for small businesses to cover payroll and basic expenses. Nevertheless, on April 16 the fund ran out of money. That’s why a second, even larger stimulus fund has been implemented.

However, many business people still have questions regarding the stimulus program. Here we’ll answer some of them.

I got a PPP loan, can I also get funding through this new program?

If you were approved for a PPP loan and received confirmation from your financial provider, you should get your funds in about ten days. If you did not receive any sort of confirmation, you probably will not receive a loan from the first PPP program.

The best way to go is to check up with your lender institution.

If you didn’t apply for the first one, you can apply for the second program on May 5, 2020.

What if I didn’t get the first check

If you applied but did not get the first check, you do not have to re-apply, as most lenders did not reject the application, but just ran out of funds to process them. That means your application may be on the priority list for the second term program.

That means they will first process loans that were not funded in the first program.

Does my loan have any use limitations?

They have to be mostly used for payroll. 75 % of the loan must be used to that end, and no more than 25 % can be used for mortgage interests, rent, utilities, and debts. They must be used in the following eight weeks from the reception to be forgiven. If they are not used in that time frame, if they are used for other purposes, and businesses don’t keep their headcount, the loans must be repaid.

What if I want to pay myself with it?

If you are a sole proprietor, you can pay yourself from the funds. But if your company is a corporation, you are not entitled to use the money to pay yourself.

If you’re eligible, it’ll cover your salary up to $100k.

And the Employee Retention Credit?

This is a refundable tax credit launched on March 31, 2020. It was established to help companies keep their workers on the payroll.

The program doesn’t rely on the stimulus package. It’s a 50 % credit of up to $10k in salaries per employee if the business has been impacted by coronavirus. Thus, to qualify, the business must have been at least partially suspended by public order or received at least a 50 % reduction on quarterly earnings.

Nevertheless, you can’t apply for this program if you’ve already applied for the PPP.

What about an SBA loan?

You can also apply for a normal SBA loan.

However, you must take into account that financial institutions may find a hard time to process them right now, so it is wise to call your institution  first to see if they can handle it.

If that is the case, SBA is a fantastic option. If you do not qualify for the PPP or are waiting for it.

Also, SBA payments have been suspended for a six-month period as a relief measure.

The successful German response to coronavirus

The successful German response to coronavirus

German response to coronavirus

We’ve spoken about countries that have mishandled the coronavirus crisis. We’ve also discussed Far East countries such as Taiwan and South Korea that have effectively fought the pandemic.

However, not much ink has been spilled discussing one of the most successful examples in the West: Germany.

The country has successfully battled the virus with a regional, depoliticized approach that has sought significant agreements between the public and private sector.

Likewise, German authorities started testing and tracking early and in a big way.

That is the main reason why Germany has almost 165,000 confirmed cases yet only 6,500 deaths.

What does this mean?

That they’ve done widespread testing and positively identified asymptomatic cases, which has helped them to isolate potential spreaders quickly. Germany has tested more than two million people, which is one of the largest rates in Europe and is pushing to take it to 4.5 million per week.

The German stats translate to around 80 deaths per million inhabitants. In comparison, Italy has a 463 per million death rate, and the US has a rate of 191 per million.

The worst part has passed. In early April, daily new cases reached a peak of 6,000, which has lowered to around 1,400 per day.

Another advantage that Germany had is it had a much larger average of ICU beds per 100,000 inhabitants than most European countries. The number is 34 per 100,000, which is double than France, and triple than the UK.

That is good news. But as countries start to breathe after the worst seems to have passed, the concern has shifted: the economy.

The Germans took a mixed approach. They established a five-week lockdown of schools and stores (with exceptions) but didn’t stop factories and even some offices. Like the US, Germany is a federal country, which means regional authorities have the power to lift lockdowns. Instead of creating a political war, the federal and regional governments have worked together to reduce the economic impact of the crisis.

One good example is Baden-Württemberg, a southern state which is home of Daimler and Porsche and many other manufacturing companies, which are vital for the regional and national economy.

When the crisis began, the regional government established more than 150 special clinics for treating coronavirus cases, which would prevent the virus from getting into the main hospital system. The state boosted its number of officials that would trace the contact of each infected individuals by six and established alliances with private companies such as Porsche to help the government buy masks and protective equipment in China for healthcare professionals and the general public.

They started widespread testing of risk groups such as elderly and people with cardiac issues and treated infected people before they started showing serious symptoms.

The result? A quick drop in hospitalizations and a quick regularization of the economy as the state never forbade factories to work.

The German example shows three main things: first, social distancing measures are not effective if they are not joined by widespread testing. Second, the key to fight coronavirus is to keep politics aside and have a coordinated response. Third, it’s not about having a public or private healthcare system. It’s about having a well-prepared system.

How has the tech market behaved during COVID-19?

How has the tech market behaved during COVID-19?

market behaved during COVID-19

Even though we all may think that technology is doing great at markets and earnings, the true story isn’t that simple.

Yes, the last few weeks have been rough for every single one of us. The increased demand for apps, software and developments from the IT world, we all thought that this market could maintain its numbers and even win this battle market against the coronavirus.

There is a huge reason for that. Billions of people around the globe are now working, studying, learning and staying connected through apps and platforms that the technology and the internet provide us. We may say the whole globe has been experiencing the biggest digital and virtual transition ever. This transformation is inevitably correlated with the output economic output of these companies, the confidence on this market will necessarily grow. This is key because tons of people are surviving the lockdown, thanks to technology.

The truth is some critical services, and even peoples lives are relying on the rhythm of technology developers. As we’ve seen in the past few weeks, machine learning, analytics and telehealth are being used to prevent and fight coronavirus. Technology was up to the challenges. Everyday we saw how apps and software were improved and stepped up their game. This made not only citizens at home rely on it to work during the pandemic, but also governments and the health sector betted hard on it.

With this on the picture, investors and markets paid attention and inevitably turned their attention to the technology market. And that’s the point. Investors were waiting for earnings reports of this sector this week hoping to find good news.

The results weren’t the ones they expected.

The big picture, we have to recognize that the technology sector is by far one the best investments large investors can make during this crisis. In fact, it has been the best performer out of the economic disaster caused by the coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean it will not find any hurt through it.

This week of quarterly earnings results gives us a good idea.

Even giants of the market, such as Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, are being affected negatively. Both Microsoft and Apple are making readjustment on the number of devices their producing. It’s uncertain if it’s caused by supply chain issues, by a reduced number of consumers, or both, but it definitely shows they are not immune to the crisis.

In general, no one really knows how bad the market could get. For example, Apple refused to state its earnings expectation for the next quarter, at the same time, those who offer numbers are being extremely cautious about their predictions for the second half of the year.

This doesn’t necessarily mean these companies will suffer a hard shock from the coronavirus crisis.  In fact, it’s probably one of the safest investments when other industries are in such dire conditions.

Still, there’s plenty of uncertainty regarding the state of the market and companies are being overly cautious, which has investors preoccupied. We’ll have to wait and see.

What are CEOs doing to stay afloat during coronavirus?

What are CEOs doing to stay afloat during coronavirus?

What are CEOs doing to stay afloat during coronavirus

More than 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits.

The recession that is looming ahead points at being the worse since the Great Depression.

Markets are crashing all over the world and businesses are close to bankruptcy

You may ask, what in the world can a CEO do to face the crisis? It’s tough, but many are in action.

No one is crying for them as they make the toughest calls of their careers, such as laying off hundreds of employees or stop paying them during the lockdowns.

Yet, they are expected to take action. CEOs have shareholders and hundreds or thousands of employees they must respond to. If you go into a quarterly earnings conference calls, you’ll probably hear a lot of it’s tough to say.

But some are taking action.

Bahram Akradi is the CEO and founder of Life Time Inc., a health-club franchise. He’s facing incredibly tough and unsolvable issues, such as $1 billion in new developments completely stuck.

But that’s the part he can’t control. What can he control? The more than 38,000 people on his payroll. 90 % of them have been put on leave, however, the company has committed to pay a full 100 % of their insurance premiums and establish a $10 million fund for employees whose essentials cannot be covered with unemployment checks.

Another good example is Ian Siegel, ZipRecruiter Inc. Founder and CEO. When April began, he had already laid off or furloughed a third of the staff.

When the future seems so dark and unpredictable, you have two possibilities: take tough choices now or take them later. Siegel went for the first possibility. He spoke individually with each employee via videoconference and hopes to rehire them as soon as possible.

Other CEOs are facing even bleaker scenarios. Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriot International forfeited his salary, and other executives took a 50 % pay cut as the company will furlough tens of thousands of employees around the world.

However, the situation doesn’t seem as bleak for all. For example, Dr Pepper has seen a demand surge as consumers are piling up bottled water, soda, and juices. The company has 25,000 employees that now face a significant workload. Yes, the future of the company isn’t immediately compromised, but that means Dr Pepper needs to increase its production and keep their workers safe amid the worst pandemic the world has seen since the Spanish Flu.

They are already having health-related issues: a distribution employee tested positive for COVID-19, and coworkers who were in contact with him are now in quarantine, all with full pay.

The company has started to sanitize its plants more frequently and reduce direct interactions between workers as much as possible.

CEOs are making the toughest choices in their careers. However, the poorest choice is no choice. Paralyzing, when facing the hardest challenges of your business is the worst option.

Is AI revolutionizing the diagnosis of Coronavirus? The Biofourmis case

Is AI revolutionizing the diagnosis of Coronavirus?
The Biofourmis case

The Biofourmis case

You’ve probably read dozens of articles claiming that technology is being widely used against Coronavirus.

From robots to sterilize rooms and avoid direct contact with patients to machine learning algorithms that detect new cases, it seems that technology is everywhere in the fight against Coronavirus.

However, how much has technology helped diagnose Coronavirus?

As you may know, that’s probably the toughest part to fight the virus. Tests are scarce in most countries, including the US, meaning testing levels are not ideal. The countries that have been the most successful against Coronavirus aren’t necessarily the ones that have implemented quarantines most effectively, but the ones that have made most tests.

Let’s talk about one AI initiative that may help detect Coronavirus quicker.

Biofourmis is a Boston startup led by Kuldeep Singh Rajput. The company developed a wearable technology and software to analyze patients with cardiac conditions. That means the system detects subtle changes that antecede symptoms such as shortness of breath, and the software finds patterns in the data.

A group of Hong Kong physicians believes the software can be used to detect COVID-19 infection markers in around two days. As you may know, the incubation period of Coronavirus can be of fifteen days. However, the median is to present symptoms in five days. That means Biofourmis’ software could be used to detect early markers faster and may even help healthcare professionals to treat patients with milder symptoms remotely, leaving the hospitals for worse cases.

When the team contacted Singh Rajput to adapt the system for Coronavirus, his team got to work. The process would typically take 2 to 3 months, but the team worked non-stop to get it done in three weeks for testing.

Afterward, a University of Honk Kong team tested the system in a group of around 200 patients, both with and without symptoms. The system sends patient data to the cloud, and patients can also self-report symptoms. Physicians can check the data remotely every four hours, and if they see signs, they can order a test immediately.

The FDA has already approved the Biofourmis system for heart failure. Singh Rajput says they are close to announcing an agreement with healthcare providers in the US for the COVID-19 version of the technology.

That may mean that a more significant number of people that have been exposed to the Coronavirus will be tested faster, and healthcare professionals can monitor a higher number of patients remotely.

So, yes, we are not saying AI will become a Messiah against Coronavirus. Nevertheless, initiatives such as Biofourmis may make a difference in the struggle against the virus, and we’re hoping that’s the case sooner than later.

Are there enough health care professionals to fight against COVID-19?

Are there enough health care professionals to fight against COVID-19?

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US is the largest in the world. That means healthcare providers are as strained as they may be.

Doctors and nurses are short on equipment, security protocols are soft, and they are facing inhumane shifts and unparalleled levels of stress.

The epicenter of the US crisis is in New York City, and hospitals around it are starting to face serious staffing problems and, even if there are no official stats, many doctors have tested positive.

Does that mean that when the crisis reaches its highest point, the country will see a medical personnel shortage?

There’s no yes/no answer to that question.

It may be a yes for one particular reason: doctors are more likely to get infected, and due to high exposure, their cases may be complicated. For example, in Spain, 14 % of the official coronavirus cases were medical staff, and in Italy, the percentage was almost 10 %.

And the US seems to be going that road, especially when considering that the shortage of medical gear and insufficient safety protocols. In fact, in Boston, more than 100 healthcare professionals only in its three largest hospitals have already tested positive.

But, it may be a no, if some measures are taken. For example, the US can temporarily allow any individuals that have graduated from medical school to work as a physician. That would pump more than 4,000 professionals who haven’t matched a residency program to enter the workforce. Completing the program is a requisite for licensing and getting board certification.

Such individuals can work as assistant physicians that can perform some procedures, order medications, and assist in treatments. That would help states such as Washington, New York, and Massachusetts to be able to deal with the crisis in a better way.

Thirty states had already relaxed requirements to allow doctors and nurses to practice across state lines during the crisis. Likewise, more than 25 states allowed retired medical professionals to get back to practice swiftly. All this led, for example, the state of New York to have more than 10,000 volunteers in a single day to fight the crisis virus and 62,500 in total.

Furthermore, there are also other reasons to breathe easy. The US has more average healthcare staff than both Spain and Italy, and a better average than South Korea, to name three examples.

Part of the strategy to prevent the healthcare system from being overrun is twofold: 1. Prevent healthcare workers from getting sick, increase safety measures, temporarily relaxing regulations to boost the number of physicians, allowing retirees to return to practice and professionals with out-state licenses.

Such a strategy may ease the shortage of healthcare providers while the worst part of the pandemic passes and may also help the US avoid total healthcare collapse as some parts of Italy and Spain did.

What potential changes can coronavirus bring to the healthcare system?

What potential changes can coronavirus bring to the healthcare system?

COVID-19 is forcing us to make some changes we needed.
COVID-19 is forcing us to make some changes we needed.

As the must-not-be-named virus grows across the whole world, the urgent need for innovative solutions in the healthcare sector increases.

We all must be aware that our health system and the way we see medicine and doctors were built and designed for an era where the patients could only access medicine by going physically to clinics. But, right now, we are experiencing an unprecedented opportunity for the develop a strong response to the crisis with telehealth and innovative technology solutions. These all are demanded by hospitals and clinics that have sent mild-virus cases to their homes and nursing centers to avoid more contact and to have enough beds for those who really need them.

By acknowledging that the majority of cases can be resolved without continuous personal evaluations, we can comprehend that doctors can provide their services and care remotely. This could really make the healthcare system way more efficient, as it would reduce hospitalization costs, would ease the healthcare system freeing up beds for graver cases. It would also minimize contagion risks and provide more comfort to the patient by isolating themselves in their homes.

But what exactly is telehealth? And why it can be revolutionary? Telehealth includes many services: from scheduling our appointments online, going through monitoring some health signs using internet-connected monitoring equipment, to guiding an appointment and cases via video chat.

This method is an essential solution for doctors and nurses in avoiding direct contact with infected patients. Contagion rates among doctors are somewhat high, and many are due to contact with mild or asymptomatic cases. With the crisis close to reaching its worse point, the healthcare system cannot lose any more doctors. Thus, all healthcare professionals that are at the frontline fighting against the COVID-19 will be very grateful for an increase in telehealth to mitigate face to face contact.

Telehealth also is being encouraged by the public and private sectors. Right now, the European Union is now aware that many of its countries, such as Italy, suffer from significant deficits of healthcare professionals, along with unexpected difficulties in the access to medical services. Some of these European countries are now taking telehealth more seriously, as we can see how The ‘Ministere des Solidarites et de la Sante’ (the French health ministry) encouraged telehealth solutions for their population. The US isn’t falling behind on this race. Authorities announced a massive financial investment to ensure that the most affected zones by the virus get telehealth and technological devices that can help them step forward a transition to telehealth solutions.

From any perspective, telehealth seems a wise way to go. Some of the countries that have been exemplar dealing with the coronavirus used telemedicine widely to avoid further contact with infected individuals. Others are following suit. Coronavirus seems to be about to bring significant growth in telehealth and to change the way healthcare providers approach medical attention radically.

 

What questions should business leaders to keep afloat during the coronavirus?

What questions should business leaders to keep afloat during the coronavirus?

oronavirus pandemic will affect markets and businesses in the long term

As we start analyzing and predicting how the coronavirus pandemic will affect markets and businesses in the long term, companies and CEOs are trying to keep it going and guarantee themselves a post on their industry’s competition.

At this moment, both public administration and the public sector are in constant brainstorming to be one step ahead in affronting this crisis with the minimum damage.

We took one step onto these discussions and analyzed what questions are managers doing to themselves and their teams to face their challenges ahead.

First things first. How much cash flow do we have? Indeed, this is definitely the number one question and issue that all managers are getting their hands on.

How much cash do their companies have in hand? How much money will be receiving shortly? How much time can they continue paying debts and employers? How about if there’s a leak in maybe 20 or 40 percent in revenue?

From all the answers to these questions, you can go to a second phase: How to mitigate losses and how to lower costs without causing damage to staff members.

This is a question that considers ways to create teams in companies and ambient of solidarity and hospitality around such as harsh environment caused by the crisis. One of the strategies most companies are doing is reducing salaries to 80 percent of their past salary. This helps to reduce cost and reduce the money leak, and also helps the employee to become a potential candidate for the wage subsidy the federal government is providing, which is an extra money everyone needs right now.

The next step is figuring out which operations are the minimum required to allow the company to be sustainable and robust enough to qualify for acquiring debt and continue responding to the clients’ demands and sustaining a relationship with them that keeps the cash flowing.

That last sentence is KEY. Focusing on creating communities and relationships with clients is more crucial than ever. Yes, that’s always important, but at this time, you can’t afford to lose a client. Losing a client means losing money, and losing money means losing staff and endangering your crew’s morale.

The businesses are betting on creating loyalty and empathy with their clients. Maybe they can’t provide financial support right now, but it’s the ideal opportunity to develop a strong relationship.

This is time to stop being afraid of vulnerabilities, share the struggle with your team and clients, and build strong sympathy. When the shockwave passes, your clients and employees will thank you for it. This hard time may create a bridge to work together and overcome it and establishing a bond that could last after the pandemic goes away.

So, the next logical step is adjusting marketing and business strategies.

Some questions made during this final phase revolve around how we relate to market changes and how the company has adapted its strategies to the situation. Maybe it’s time to rely on clouds, remote works, and freelancers. Perhaps a change in the products and offers are needed to be made even before the situation, and you were avoiding it.

Make the changes now. Don’t wait until the crisis goes away… It may be too late. The worse course of action right now is taking no course of action.

So, make the right questions, take a deep breath, and adapt. It’s a time for innovation and bold decisions.

AI and coronavirus: The BlueDot and Nanox cases

AI and coronavirus: The BlueDot and Nanox cases

BlueDot

We all know that IT and AI continuously evolve and have greater effects on many different industries. Big changes are running along with them. But what does IT and AI are actually doing right now for the world when we face the biggest global-scale crisis since WW2? Are they building something tangible and perdurable for humanity? Can we see their results?

The answer is yes. And the best example is the startup BlueDot, based in Toronto. The company found out about the potential spread of the now much-feared virus, COVID-19, way before the whole world started talking about it. On December 31, BlueDot identified the outbreak in Wuhan; many hours after, even the authorities diagnosed many cases. So, basically, the startup team confirmed the information and informed their clients that very same day, a week before the international health organizations and the Chinese government made official statements.

Because of this, BlueDot got their hands and heads to work before the rest of the world. This shows how vital AI companies are, and could be in understanding the danger potential of viruses and pandemics, and to take preventive measures as quickly as possible.

Machines can be trained to process massive amounts of data just as a medical expert does it, with the little difference that a machine doesn’t need to rest and is faster. That means the process is way more replicable and efficient. Thus, medical experts can focus on interpreting the data and finding solutions and making decisions based on them.

But this startup is just one of the hundreds of companies devoted to the cause.

NanoxOne of the other top examples is Nanox, a medical technology company based on Israel. The company is developing to main products regarding X-Ray tests to fight coronavirus.

First, they developed an X-Ray mobile digital system that uses software based on an AI cloud to point out cases of infections to help prevent outbreaks. So, basically, to get better diagnoses, Nanox mixed a large amount of photos databases, crossing them with radiologist medical opinions and studies, annotations, diagnostic reviews, and AI systems. The result is a system that gives swifter, more accurate potential results.

To complement this first tool, Nanox is creating an X-ray device, designed to supply tomographic images of lungs. Their goal is to install the machine in public spaces with large concentrations of individuals.

Both systems are mobile imaging devices that are pretty much low-cost. The company is seeing an influx of investment of funds that are aiming at the potential AI tools have of preventing pandemics. AI can detect diseases immediately, meaning they are faster than regular testing. The best strategy against coronavirus has been widespread testing to isolate asymptomatic and mild cases quickly, which are the ones that infect more people. This is the path Germany and South Korea have taken, and they’ve been able to control the number of cases and the mortality rates.

The role that technology is playing to prevent coronavirus is unparalleled. Artificial intelligence can help medical professionals in identifying the spread of the disease and get better diagnoses swiftly.

How have CEOs responded to the coronavirus pandemic?

How have CEOs responded to the coronavirus pandemic?

Todd Herman studied how CEOs are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen how COVID-19 suddenly forced the entire world to change their daily routine. In most Western countries, businesses and shops all over the place are being forced to shut down, not knowing when they will reopen.

Sure, for some people, it’s perfectly fine. They can work from their homes during the quarantine and have Zoom video calls. But what about the people who only can look ahead? What about the ones who run big businesses with thousands of workers and dependents?

Let’s take a closer look at what the CEOs around the world are doing to smash public fears and keep going.

Are they worried?

Yes, they do worry! They are humans with family and loved ones, too. But they use their worry as a motivation to keep going and finding answers faster.

Todd Herman, a peak-performance coach, studied what CEOs are doing during the coronavirus outbreak. He mentioned that keeping up with the news and the latest advancements is a key factor. And with so many countries suffering, so many labs working on a cure, and so many politicians not knowing what to do, it is incredibly hard.

But high-performance CEOs find a way to do it. They are more likely to know, for example, how South Korea or Taiwan responded to the coronavirus. Taiwan is considered by experts to have had the fastest, smartest, and most measured response in the world. Despite the incredibly close location to China, it has a dramatically low number of cases when compared to other nations.

Another notable attitude is they are working on how to keep selling their products or continue to deliver their services by changing or shifting them. Furthermore, they are working on how to help the authorities and make a positive change for their clients, workers, and societies during the crisis.

Moreover, they are continuously changing their teams and keeping them in constant communication and informed about the present and future perspectives of their companies. Their conversations revolve around “action,” “opportunity,” “merge,” and “buy” because they see the outbreak as an opportunity to start other businesses and hire more talented people. But it’s tough to keep your team motivated during such a situation, so they are working hard on it.

How do they do it? They keep their eyes on the future. The present is tough, but sooner than later it’ll pass. Likewise, it’s going to bring more possibilities for remote work and hiring freelancers and people around the world. They seek to bring calm messages to their crew, with solid communication in terms of growth, sustainability, and opportunities.

So, in conclusion, what are CEOs doing, according to Todd Herman? First, they don’t consume news that fuel fear or negativity on social media. They focus on the news about advancements and companies that are positively dealing with coronavirus. Even as they are aware that the development of their companies is going to decrease, and there might be an economic crisis looming ahead, they talk about opportunity and growth to keep themselves and their teams moving towards sustainability.