Discover more from The 21 Hats Morning Report
Applying for a Job at Your Own Business
With the job market still challenging, it’s important to know what the experience is really like for job candidates who engage with your company. And there's a surefire way to find out.
Here are today’s highlights:
The SBA is not going to forgive honest mistakes on PPP loans.
Local marketers are already using ChatGPT to generate content.
Sign of the times: There’s a growing market for used office chairs.
It’s not just you. Everyone’s confused about the economy and the jobs market.
Do you really know what it’s like to apply for a job at your own business? “Most smaller businesses don’t necessarily have a dedicated HR Department, let alone a Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Department. But you don’t need to have a crew of experts or expensive technology in place to level up your interviewing and hiring processes or your employee retention rates. So how do you put together a hiring process to set your company and your employees up for success?”
“One of the things I like to ask our leaders is, ‘Have you tried to apply for a job at your company? Do you know what that experience feels like? Do you know where it breaks down? Where is it challenging? What does the experience of the candidate feel like in terms of who gets back to them when? How long does it take someone to move through a hiring process? From the point that they engage to the point where you make an offer, how long is that taking?”
“It is still a hot talent market, so people still have options, and I don't know that you can bank on that changing anytime soon. A hiring process in the four-week range is a sweet spot.” READ MORE
The SBA will not make exceptions for businesses that made honest mistakes on their PPP applications: “The problem, known by a coalition of business groups, fair lending groups, and lawmakers as the ‘good faith error’ has left many business owners on the hook for errors they or their lenders made when applying for PPP loans. The businesses applied through a lender and spent the money on appropriate items, but received larger loans than they were entitled to get, leaving them on the hook to pay the remainder.”
“‘We are not in the position to go back and change the rules again,’ SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman said in an exclusive interview with The Playbook. ‘Regardless of if it was good faith or not, our lenders who were paid fees to process and track and ensure accuracy have gone through that process of evaluating forgiveness.’”
“The number of businesses that may be affected might seem large, but is still just a small percentage of the number of business owners that received forgiveness through the program.”
“As of Jan. 8, 2023, the SBA had forgiven about 10.5 million out of the 11.3 million PPP loans it made across 2020 and 2021, with about $758.2 billion forgiven out of $792.6 billion loaned out. That works out to roughly 95 percent of the total amount.” READ MORE
Here’s how Shopify is trying to win sellers from Amazon: “Shopify Logistics is the umbrella under which the company will combine recent acquisitions, its own facilities, and a partnership with freight forwarder Flexport to offer a single service to handle nearly all of the logistics online sellers need. Brown described it as ‘liberating’ entrepreneurs from the biggest headache in e-commerce. ‘That liberation is what we believe will help a customer go from one sale a day to five sales a day to 100 sales a day,’ said [CEO Aaron] Brown, who came to Shopify in 2017 from Amazon.”
“Flexport will allow Shopify merchants to get ‘front of the line access,’ to space on container ships they'd struggle to get otherwise, Brown said. The goods will then be trucked to one of Shopify's warehouses, and the inventory will be spread around a network of warehouses powered by Deliverr, which Shopify acquired for $2.1 billion in 2022.”
“At the core of Shopify's logistics offering is ‘Shop Promise,’ a badge that gives shoppers custom expected delivery dates on merchants' stores and the Shop App. Shopify rolled the badge, a direct competitor to Amazon's Prime shipping program and its newer ‘Buy with Prime’ feature, out last year and expanded it Thursday.”
“The ideal scenario, said Brown, is Shopify merchants using the full suite of services and even starting new e-commerce businesses from scratch without ever having to learn to manage operations.” READ MORE
There’s a hot market for used office chairs: “In the weeks before, the owners of Swivel Office Solutions, based in a nondescript warehouse an hour east of Manhattan, just past John F. Kennedy International Airport, had seen even more of what had become normal since the pandemic: Fortune 500 companies coming to them, saying they needed to clear their office space, and if Unger’s company could do it fast and for cheap, they could have furniture for next to nothing. ‘The office market is just crashing like crazy, said [Zachary Unger]. He and his family-run business have become focused on making the most of it, by relentlessly pushing refurbished, high-end furniture from a bygone era for cheap on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Here, multi-thousand dollar standing desks go for $600, and thousand-dollar Aeron chairs and Mirra 2s cost $500 or less.”
“‘There’s so much product. We have no room in our warehouses,’ Unger said excitedly. ‘At this point, we need to get, like, another 10 warehouses. It's crazy.’”
“Before the pandemic, Zachary’s father, Steven Unger, had made his living buying chairs, desks, and cubicles and then selling them to companies that were opening up. Some of the world’s most profitable companies would need 300, 400, or even 1,000 chairs, and they’d need them quickly. Unger could make it happen.”
“Swivel Office Solutions is one small part of a growing secondary office market that is capitalizing off companies like Meta, Twitter, and BuzzFeed, which have reduced their office space amid a cascade of layoffs within the technology industry, a complex macroeconomic development that also, more straightforwardly, has led to office chairs and desks flooding the market.” READ MORE
Even without crypto companies, Fox says it has sold out its Super Bowl ads: “After enjoying heavy demand for Super Bowl ad spots last year, Fox found itself on the precipice of great success, all while seeking eyebrow-raising prices of $6 million to more than $7 million for a 30-second slot. Then came October. ‘As the economic climate in October changed a bit, people’s enthusiasm to spend $7 million waned,’ explains Mark Evans, executive vice president of sales for Fox Sports. Fox struck a deal for its last bit of available in-game commercial inventory in late January and was comfortable enough Monday with client commitments to declare a sell out for the February 12 gridiron spectacular.”
“As the economy grew shakier, some advertisers that bought units asked ‘for relief for different business reasons,’ says Evans — particularly cryptocurrency companies, which were major buyers of Super Bowl ad time in 2022.”
“One year later, they are all under scrutiny after the implosion of FTX, an exchange that won notice last year for its Super Bowl ad starring comedian Larry David.”
“Fox is also working to sell ad time for hours and hours of pre-game programming on Sunday morning and afternoon, where the price of a 30-second ad can go for $100,000 early in the day and around $3 million just before kickoff.” READ MORE
ChatGPT is already changing the way local marketers generate copy: “The most clear and obvious use case for ChatGPT in local marketing has to do with content creation. SMBs and regional chains without the resources of national brands can use ChatGPT to quickly generate high-quality content to publish across social media, as well as mailers and email newsletters. With the right prompts, users can generate content accurately and quickly — and at virtually no cost to the business. Businesses with their own branded podcasts can even use ChatGPT to generate scripts or questions for podcast hosts to ask their guests.”
“Most local marketers aren’t aware of ChatGPT’s ability to help with SEO strategy. As a best practice, many local marketers will still want to use tools like Semrush or AnswerThePublic to pinpoint which keywords to target. However, with ChatGPT, they don’t have to. A marketer working with a hotel can use the prompt, ‘related questions regarding sophisticated hotels in Arizona’ and ChatGPT will pull up a list of queries.”
“With those queries in hand, the marketer can then use ChatGPT to generate highly relevant articles that answer the queries people are most likely to be searching for. Marketers can also generate blog posts that include keywords meant to drive content to their websites.”
“For example, a potential prompt when creating SEO content for a local coffee shop might be: ‘I’m working with a coffee shop in Seattle, Washington. Please write a blog post about the history of coffee that includes the words sustainable, green, and Seattle’s best roastery.’ READ MORE
Confused about what’s happening in the jobs market? You are not alone: “The U.S. added 1.1 million jobs over the past three months and ramped up hiring in January. That appears puzzling, given last year’s economic cool down, signs that consumers are pulling back on spending as their savings dwindle, and a stream of corporate layoff announcements, particularly in technology. Driving the jobs boom are large but often overlooked sectors of the economy. Restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and child-care centers are finally staffing up as they enter the last stage of the pandemic recovery. Those new jobs are more than offsetting cuts announced by huge employers such as Amazon.com and Microsoft.”
“Employers in healthcare, education, leisure and hospitality and other services such as dry cleaning and automotive repair account for about 36 percent of all private-sector payrolls.”
“Restaurateur Itai Ben Eli, chief executive of Sof Hospitality, which runs Doris Metropolitan steakhouses in Houston and New Orleans and Israeli restaurant Hamsa and Badolina Bakery & Cafe in Houston, said it has become much easier to hire in the past three to four months.”
“One steakhouse recently aiming to hire a sous chef, Mr. Ben Eli said, had ‘too many great candidates, which is a situation that I don’t remember in the past five years happening.’” READ MORE
Even economists are confused: “Many economists and investors had a clear narrative coming into 2023: The Federal Reserve had spent months pushing borrowing costs rapidly higher in a bid to tame inflation, and those moves were expected to slow growth and the labor market so much that the economy would be at risk of plunging into a downturn. But the recession calls are now getting a rethink. Employers added more than half a million jobs in January, the housing market shows signs of stabilizing or even picking back up, and many Wall Street economists have marked down the odds of a downturn this year. After months of asking whether the Fed could pull off a soft landing in which the economy slows but does not plummet into a bruising recession, analysts are raising the possibility that it will not land at all — that growth will simply hold up.”
“Not every data point looks sunny: Manufacturing remains glum, consumer spending has been cracking, and some analysts still think a mild recession this year remains likely.”
“While a gentle landing would be a welcome development, economists are beginning to ask whether growth and the job market will run too warm for inflation to slow as much as central bankers are hoping — eventually forcing the Fed to respond more aggressively.”
“Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro, said that the re-acceleration signs in the economy were ‘undeniable,’ and that inflation could get stuck at unusually high levels as a result — forcing the Fed to keep rates high for longer than expected. ‘They’ve been raising rates for a while,’ he said. ‘All they have to show for it is an unemployment rate at 3.4 percent.’” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Walking Away From a Salary: This week, Sarah Segal tells Shawn Busse and Jay Goltz why she’s decided to take her public relations business back after selling it two years ago to a larger firm so it could handle the back-end stuff and allow her to focus on public relations. For Sarah, the immediate result of the decision to break away has been an exhausting few months starting over, including reincorporating, finding health insurance, and reducing her own pay.
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren