Collecting Failed Brands

Laid-Off Workers Starting Businesses. What Makes Virtual Conferences Work? And Why Are We Subsidizing Walmart and McDonald’s?

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Lending expert Ami Kassar says you are NOT going to be able to deduct expenses paid with a PPP loan: “Since the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan are not taxable, you cannot deduct the expenses you paid from the loan proceeds. If you reasonably believe that a PPP loan will be forgiven in the future, you should not deduct the expenses related to the loan, whether or not you have filed for forgiveness. To avoid any doubt, it is smart to submit your forgiveness application as quickly as possible. In the case where a PPP was expected to be forgiven and is not, you will be able to adjust your tax filings retroactively.” READ MORE

HUMAN RESOURCES

The pandemic is reshaping the benefits employers offer: “This open enrollment season — the period in late fall when workers choose benefits for the following year — employers are offering more voluntary medical benefits like ‘hospital indemnity’ plans, paying for couples therapy and providing access to prepaid legal plans for workers concerned about getting their end-of-life affairs in order. In addition to providing more time off or flexibility for child care — perks that have received much attention as the pandemic has dragged on — employers are also offering workers far more access to telehealth platforms and mental health benefits.”

  • “Another voluntary benefit that’s taking off is identity-theft protection, according to benefits consultants.” READ MORE

Why Are We Subsidizing Walmart and McDonald’s? “A sizable number of the recipients of federal aid programs such as Medicaid and food stamps are employed by some of the biggest and more profitable companies in the United States, chief among them Walmart and McDonald’s, according to a new report from Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog."

  • “Walmart was one of the top four employers of SNAP and Medicaid beneficiaries in every state.”

  • “McDonald’s was in the top five of employers with employees receiving federal benefits in at least nine states.”

  • “The next companies with large number of workers on federal benefits include Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Amazon, Burger King and FedEx, the GAO found.” READ MORE

EVENTS

Here’s how to create a virtual conference that works: “If you’re creating an online version of what was originally envisaged as a live event, you need to rethink your schedule, structure and content. A full-day session is one thing when everyone is in the same space, but when you’ve got people dialing in and participating over video, it is absolutely exhausting. Between the focus required to stare at a screen all day and the awkwardness of feeling like you have to be camera-ready yourself, connecting over video is a lot more tiring than connecting in person.”

  • “You may need to break your event up into smaller chunks (like a series), add extended breaks throughout the day, or set it up so that people can jump in and out when they need to refresh their attention.”

  • “In addition, organizers should be sure to publish transcripts of all your presentations so people don’t have to re-watch the videos to absorb key lessons and insights.”

  • “If at all possible, design some portions of your event around audience participation, since most of us are even hungrier for human interaction right now.” READ MORE

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RETAIL

Two entrepreneurs are collecting failed brands, most recently Radio Shack:“Miami-based Retail Ecommerce Ventures, led by Chief Executive Alex Mehr and Executive Chairman Taino ‘Tai’ Lopez, bought the rights to the RadioShack brand in the U.S., Canada, India, Australia, Europe and China, along with related websites, for an undisclosed price last week. Even as U.S. retail sales climbed in October at their slowest pace since the spring, online shopping continues to flourish. Consumers are demanding improved residential workspaces and remote-working setups as the pandemic keeps many of them out of the office, opening the door for RadioShack to fulfill their work-at-home electronics needs."

  • "Earlier this year, [REV] bought the e-commerce business of Pier 1 Imports Inc. and the trademark assets of Modell’s Sporting Goods out of bankruptcy.”

  • “Founded in 1921, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy twice between 2015 and 2017, left in the dust by other electronics retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.”

  • “The company now operates primarily as an online retailer but still has a network of about 400 stores owned by independent dealers. It also has a store-within-a-store concept called RadioShack Express inside about 80 locations of HobbyTown, a hobby, collectibles, and toy store chain, REV said.” READ MORE

SPONSORED

Doing social media right is all about the golden rule: “The more you share with others, the more others will share with you,” says Vikram Rajan, co-founder of Videosocials. “That’s really the secret to ‘hacking’ social media algorithms. That’s what makes Videosocials so powerful. Sure, our marketing app makes it easy for professionals to add any required disclaimers to their videos. Sure, it has push-button posting to YouTube, Facebook Live, and LinkedIn through our automation. But really, it’s how members Like and Share each other that makes Videosocials a cross-promotion community. Members regularly invite their colleagues, friends and peers to be their guests. They can get shared too!” LEARN MORE HERE by clicking on the top right “Be Our Free Guest” button. 

THE COVID ECONOMY

Laid-off employees are starting businesses: “To adapt to the pandemic and the job loss it unleashed, more Americans are becoming their own bosses, setting up tiny businesses to work as traveling hair stylists, in-home personal trainers, boutique mask designers and chefs. A man in Maryland started a mobile car-washing business. Many new entrepreneurs previously worked at salons, gyms and restaurants, in the kind of face-to-face jobs erased when state orders closed swaths of the economy in the spring.”

  • “‘As horrible as [the pandemic] is, and as badly as it has affected so many people, it has pushed people to come up with new ideas and products and services,’ said Steven Hamilton, an economist at George Washington University.”

  • “By the end of the summer, [Damien] Johnson, 46 years old and living in Memorial Park, N.J., was earning about $500 more a week than his previous take-home pay, he said.”

  • “Clients pay less per session than at the gym, but no longer does more than half of what they shell out go to the gym instead of to the trainer.” READ MORE

The biggest outbreaks are in states with the fewest restrictions: “Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worse now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford. Using an index that tracks policy responses to the pandemic, these charts show the number of new virus cases and hospitalizations in each state relative to the state’s recent containment measures.” READ MORE

TECHNOLOGY

Thinking about what workplace technology might look like after the pandemic:“There’s a huge explosion of innovation to make working from home more effective. For example, a big drawback of video calls is that there’s only one channel of communication. You can’t have a side conversation with someone who’s on the call. When you are meeting in a room together you can turn to your neighbor and have a private conversation or speak loudly to the room. With current conference calls, space doesn’t matter. There are no neighbors on a Zoom call. But in conference calls of the future, avatars will have us spaced out around the table. So we can talk directly to those nearby, mimicking what we experience with in-person meetings.”

  • “It’s not just a matter of technology improving. People have to get used to it. At first, people couldn’t do the basics. Now you can lay on more products.” READ MORE

STARTUPS

Marissa Mayer has released an address-book app: “Sunshine is Mayer’s first venture and return to the spotlight since stepping down from her role as Yahoo chief executive after the company’s $4.48 billion sale to Verizon in 2017. At launch, Mayer’s start-up is rolling out Sunshine Contacts, an address book app that relies on artificial intelligence to find and merge duplicate contacts, fill out incomplete information and continually keep that data up to date. The app integrates with the iOS Contacts app as well as Gmail and will be free to all iOS users with an invitation.”

  • “‘The idea is that Sunshine Contacts basically becomes the brain that operates your contacts,’ Mayer told CNBC. ‘Contacts, in our view, should be a living, changing thing.’” READ MORE 

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 40: We’ll Find Something for Them to Do: Starting with a conversation about crucial hires Dana White and Laura Zander have made recently—an operations manager for Dana, a salesperson for Laura—we found ourselves exploring some of the great unresolved debates of entrepreneurship this week. For example, which comes first when hiring: filling specific needs or finding places for good people? With sales people, do you motivate by paying commission or build a team by paying salary? And in finance, do you bootstrap to maintain control or raise capital to grow faster? Dana and Laura tell us what’s been working for them.

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-- Loren Feldman (lfeldman@21hats.com)

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