East Coast Businesses Are Struggling Under the Weight of COVID-19

As Congress considers yet another wave of stimulus checks and emergency measures to keep the economy running, many businesses have yet to see any positive results from previous Congressional actions. The East Coast has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, with states like New York and New Jersey seeing the highest case counts and deaths. Even as lockdowns ease around the country, many business owners wonder how they will get access to the funds they need to reopen.

This doesn’t just apply to businesses in large urban areas like New York City or Miami, either. Many business owners in rural communities are struggling to get customers into their stores. Millions of people are without jobs and still waiting for financial aid from the government. This means that they have little to no extra money to spend on non-essential (and even essential) expenses.

So, where does this leave businesses? To be blunt, it leaves them in a particularly tough situation. Should businesses furlough their workers and shut their doors until aid arrives? Should businesses trust that Congress will act swiftly and provide funds for struggling businesses? Or should businesses attempt to provide their services as they always would, working under the assumption that this will all pass over quickly?

There’s really no simple answer. The fact remains that thousands of businesses on the East Coast (and throughout the country) are at a crossroads, with no solution in sight. Money is tight, people are desperate, and the looming threat of a deadly virus is only adding additional stress to the situation.

Fortunately, if your business has received aid from the government or you’ve found ways to keep afloat during the crisis, this is a good time to reevaluate your business processes. For those who have funds on hand, hiring a market research agency could be a great way to study the current consumer base and see how to best proceed in uncertain times. Not only could this help your business survive the current crisis, but it could also help you come out stronger once this is all over.

In any case, the argument over how best to restart the economy rages on throughout the country. Many business owners think it is too soon to lift quarantine restrictions for the sake of public health, while others see it as a necessary measure to revitalize an economy that is teetering on the brink of a depression. As Washington D.C. and all 50 states debate the pros and cons of opening, businesses and workers are forced to sit and take it on the nose.

What happens in the coming weeks will have a huge impact on thousands of small and medium-sized businesses. Will the opening of states help businesses make up for their losses? Will unemployment numbers return to normal levels as businesses regain lost income? Will government aid be enough to keep the economy from sinking into a depression? Only time will tell. In the meantime, all we can do is prepare ourselves for the difficult times ahead and try our best to keep our personal and business financials in the black (and hopefully green).

5 Ways to Add Value to Your Home

Home-improvement projects have become increasingly popular over the years. And, to be fair, what’s not to love about making your house a better place to live? Not only will fixing up your home add to your enjoyment of it, but doing so can also boost the value of your home. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, then make sure to read this blog first. Here are five effective ways to increase the value of your home and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Focus on Aesthetics

When it comes to moving property, curb appeal can be a game-changer. Just as in business, first impressions matter a lot in real estate. As such, homeowners should start their beautification process outside. Planting a tree, adding a well-kept garden, repainting the exterior, or refinishing brick or concrete walls can all make a property stand out more to buyers. What’s more, adding fresh paint to the inside of your home can also improve its appearance significantly.

Cut Energy Costs

Installing smart light bulbs in your home is a small way of reducing energy costs. However, if you really want to dramatically cut down on utility bills and set your home apart from others, consider getting solar panels installed on your roof. Thankfully, there are many reputable companies like Envision Security that can help you make your home much more energy-efficient.

Conduct Regular Maintenance

Just because you’re looking to sell your home, it doesn’t mean you can cut back on regular maintenance. In fact, just the opposite is true. Stay on top of day-to-day yard work and hire inspectors to come out and look at your fireplace, chimney, and basement on a semi-annual basis. Taking care of a small problem now could prevent a big one form occurring –– and costing you –– down the line.

Expand

Bigger is almost always better. Adding on a garage, a porch, or a deck is a major project to be sure. Nevertheless, completing a home expansion will invariably increase the square footage of your home, and thus make it more attractive to some buyers. Only start such a project if you’re committed to doing it right, though. Otherwise, it could end up backfiring and cost you more in the end.

Call in a Pro

Spending just an hour or two with a real-estate agent or interior designer can give you a much better understanding of what you can –– and should –– do to up the value of your home. Plus, they’ll be able to let you know more about the housing market in your area and what you can reasonably expect from your efforts. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call in a professional!

5 Tips for Starting a Successful Company in St. Louis

Starting a successful business anywhere is a tall order. Yet, the reality is that some locations are better than others. The good news for professionals living in the Midwest is that St. Louis is one of the best places to launch a business. Indeed, according to one report, St. Louis is the seventh best city in the entire country to start a business. To that end, today we’ll share five important tips for business owners looking to hit the ground running in the Gateway City. Check them out here:

Pick a Solid Location

St. Louis is unique in that the population of the metro area is quite large, but the city limits are very small. Indeed, though nearly 3 million people live in or around St. Louis, only about 300,000 live within the city proper. As such, it’s important for prospective business owners to pick a location that suits their needs and their industry. Businesses that rely on foot traffic, for instance, will want to consider places like the Loop, Soulard, or downtown to set up shop. Alternatively, it’s possible to land some excellent real-estate properties deals in the suburbs surrounding St. Louis.

Partner with a Local Organization

Any time a new company enters an unfamiliar market, it’s a good idea to partner up with a popular organization with strong local ties. In the case of St. Louis, there are plenty of charitable and philanthropic groups that could use the support of a thriving business. Partnering with a charity is both a good thing to do and a quick way to win some solid PR points.

Create a Strong Company Culture

In order to stand out in a crowded field, businesses need to develop a unique culture and attract talented professionals. Of course, building a strong company culture is easier said than done. It requires lots of hard work and patience. Fortunately, by implementing educational programs like ethics training and career advancement courses, business leaders can mold a positive workplace atmosphere.

Deliver the Goods

St. Louis is located in Missouri, which for the uninitiated, is known as the Show-Me State. Given that fact, it’s good policy for new businesses to deliver on the promises they make early and often. Naturally, this will help you win the trust of local patrons and boost your company’s standing within the community.

Embrace the Area

St. Louis is a major metropolitan area, sure, but it’s got a lot more in common with small towns across America than it does sprawling behemoths like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Thankfully, business owners who tap into the unique culture of St. Louis have a great chance of connecting with consumers and building a company with long-term viability.