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As we’re still coming to terms with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s clear many small businesses will experience a delay or complete interruption in their supply chains. aerial-view-photography-of-container-van-lot-1427107.jpg


Whether it’s the needed supplies to run your business, such as paper goods or cooking oil, or actual merchandise to sell, the unknown nature of the global pandemic will continue to make finding suppliers a challenge.


The Fragile Supply Chain


This global health crisis has revealed the fragility of the supply chain. According to an article in The Atlantic, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) found nearly “75 percent of the businesses it contacted in late February and early March reported some kind of supply-chain disruption due to the coronavirus. And 44 percent of the companies didn’t have a plan to deal with this kind of disruption.” ISM’s CEO, Tom Derry, told The Atlantic, that while this is “a little have to realize there’s almost no industry sector—[in] manufacturing and nonmanufacturing—that isn’t reliant on China in the United States.”


What normally took a few days to move across the world or the country can take weeks or months. Even Amazon is feeling the effects from a shortage of stock, the increase of online orders and not enough workers to fulfill them all.


To get around the delays in normal supply operations, many small business owners are turning to local suppliers to keep inventory in stock.


When one Southern California sunglasses wholesaler found his orders from Chinese factories delayed by more than 45 days, he quickly contacted alternate sources to fill his orders. Adam Rizza, cofounder of Sunscape Eyewear, already had a backup network of local suppliers to call on when his regular international suppliers faced weeks of delays.


“We sourced goods from local distributors,” says Rizza, although he admits “it did affect our margins.”


A good backup plan is key to surviving a crisis situation.  Part of that is establishing supportive, friendly relationships with others in your industry.


“We had good relationships with other eyewear distributors before we became one ourselves,” says Rizza. If you haven’t developed those relationships yet, start now—even if it’s with your competitors. “Most business owners are well aware of all the competitors in their space,” says Rizza, so it can be easier to start with them. “The one thing we have seen during this difficult time is that our competitors are coming together and helping one another.”


Finding New Supply Sources


In addition to reaching out to other local businesses for supplier recommendations, contact your city, county or state’s economic or business development offices. Check with the local chamber of commerce in your area for member lists. You can also get assistance from your local Small Business Development Center or SCORE office. Although face-to-face appointments are not available now, SCORE is offering remote mentoring appointments.


Online marketplaces are a good place to source products, just be sure to check stock levels and delivery estimates for the best outcome. Websites such as Shopify, Amazon Business, and Alibaba all have both international and domestic suppliers ready to make deals.


When you’re creating a new supplier network, investigate new suppliers in North and Central America as well as around the world. Choose new suppliers from different regions so you’re not stuck in case of a regional disaster. Establish these relationships as soon as you can, you don’t want to wait until the next calamity to get to know these suppliers.


You also need to check in with your current transportation providers. Do they offer multiple methods of getting your products to you? If not, consider expanding your transportation network as well. It’s important to do business with a company that can pivot from one transportation method to another when necessary.


No one knows when the coronavirus pandemic will start to abate globally.  Take the time explore and expand your supplier contacts so the next time supply chains freeze up, you’ll be prepared.



About Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png


Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.


Web: or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

To help taxpayers weather the economic fallout of the coronavirus, the IRS has extended the April 15 federal income tax filing and payment deadline by three months to July 15.helloquence-OQMZwNd3ThU-unsplash.jpg


“During the three-month postponement, taxpayers won’t be subject to interest or penalties for filing after April 15,” says Mitchell Drossman, National Director of Wealth Planning Strategies for the Chief Investment Office of Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank.


Here are answers for some key questions you may have about the extension and your personal taxes, according to the Chief Investment Office of Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank. As always, it’s best to consult your tax advisor for guidance on what the tax extension might mean for you.


Who qualifies for the postponement?


The relief applies to any taxpayer with income tax returns and payments usually due on April 15. That includes individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, companies and corporations. There are no limitations on the amount of tax that may be postponed, and taxpayers do not need to make a formal request in order to take advantage of the postponement.


What tax filings and payments are or aren’t covered?


The provision applies to all 2019 federal income taxes. Self-employed people may also postpone filing and paying their estimated quarterly taxes for the first quarter of 2020, normally due on April 15, until July 15. But self-employed taxpayers should keep in mind that their estimates and payments for the second quarter will still be due on the usual date of June 15. And note that filings and payments for gift taxes are not postponed.


Does this mean more time to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement plan or HSA?


Yes, at its coronavirus site the IRS states that the deadlines for 2019 contributions to IRAs, company-based retirement accounts and health savings accounts will all be extended from April 15 to July 15.


Are state and local taxes postponed as well?


“States generally follow the federal due dates, but it is best to check with your individual state,” Drossman says. For example, while California has extended its filing and payment deadline to July 15, Massachusetts suggests that residents use existing provisions to request extensions. Other states have yet to announce extension plans.


Can taxpayers file for an automatic extension beyond the July 15 deadline?


Tax payers have traditionally been able to request a 6-month tax extension by filing the proper paperwork by April 15—a move that’s particularly useful for filers whose taxes are complex. However, they’ve still been required to pay their taxes by April 15. Under this year’s tax postponement, the deadline for requesting this 6-month extension is now July 15. Taxes are still owed on July 15, 2020, and the filing deadline becomes Oct. 15.


Is there any reason not to take advantage of the federal extension?


If you believe you have a refund coming this year, filing your return on April 15 rather than taking the postponement could mean you receive your check sooner. Whatever your situation, it’s important to speak with your tax advisor before making any decisions.


For More Information visit the coronavirus site at

As you well know, starting and owning your own business is expensive – rent, labor, insurance, etc. It all adds up. And in a time of economic uncertainty like now, cutting back is likely high on your to-do list. black-calculator-near-ballpoint-pen-on-white-printed-paper-53621.jpg


The question though is, can you do so without cutting back essential services?


Cutting employees might seem like a good way to trim your costs, but the fact is, laying off staff comes with its own set of problems - among them, a possibility for reduced productivity, loss of morale, loss of operational knowledge, and potentially, loss of customers.


The point: Business owners often say their most valuable asset is their employees. And most mean it. If that is true, what makes the most sense right now is retaining that asset and getting creative by cutting elsewhere and in unexpected places.


Here are three ways you can cut the fat without gutting your business and laying off staff:


1. Reduce hours and adjust schedules


In Portland, Ore., there is a beloved store called Kitchen Kaboodle. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, business fell off a cliff, and the owners were faced with tough choices: Close or fire almost everyone.


In the end, they did neither.


Instead, for the next few years, the store went to a shortened schedule, staying open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Ideal, no, but no one was let go and the store eventually came back stronger than ever.


So yes, one way to lower payroll costs is simply reducing hours. Offering full-time employees a part-time position is a win-win for everyone when the alternative is not having a job at all. Most people would rather work with their employer than lose all their income.


For you, it provides your business full coverage, though with a reduced staff, for a part-time budget. Ultimately, this method also provides that your seasoned staff members can have job security and your customers can have the service you are committed to.


Another method for reducing costs is optimization of business hours. If you are open 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, you might not be using your time and money wisely. Instead, have a smaller staff for slower days, and a full staff for the busier times. If some days are not profitable at all, do what Kitchen Kaboodle did and consider closing those days.



2. Improve operational efficiency


The next option is to consider how your business can operate more cost effectively while maintaining - or even improving - its efficiency.


This can look a few different ways:


  • For one, you should call suppliers and renegotiate your contracts, looking to pay less for your supplies. No doubt that today, vendors will be willing to have that conversation.


  • If that doesn’t work, shop around: you never know what other deals might be out there unless you look.


  • Efficiency could also take the form of in-house changes. Instead of printing your documents, go paperless. Have people bring their own food; sorry, no free lunch right now.


  • Ask your team to suggest places of waste – they will know things you do not.


The coronavirus is an opportunity for your business to be hypervigilant in its own practices. In tough times, a little goes a long way, and either renegotiating with your suppliers or reforming in-house policies and behavior can save costs in the long term.


3. Think differently


Time to get creative. Instead of continuing to use that high-priced marketing consultant, consider bringing marketing and advertising in-house. Find out who on your team best knows social media and unleash their creative powers. This option will cut costs while still providing your business some much needed marketing muscle.


Or what about that basement space you’re using to store old items? Instead of letting the space go to waste, perhaps try to clean it and sublet it out to another business who could use the discounted space.


Bottom line: The coronavirus will go away and when that happens, you will be glad you kept the band together to make some new, beautiful music when the time comes.



Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Asksteve strauss headshot.png an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3359-412423/steve+strauss+headshot.png


Web: or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.


Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

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