Posts

PPP Changes Ease Loan Forgiveness

(Updated  June 24, 2020)

UPDATE:  The deadline to apply for a PPP loan is June 30, 2020. 

  • As of June 20th, approximately $100 Billion remains in the program and available for loans.
  • The modified forgiveness terms makes it much easier to ensure your loan is forgiven.

In an effort to address limitations of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, the Senate passed, and the President sigened, a House version of the legislation to update the program.

As a PPP borrower:

  • You can optionally extend the eight-week period to 24 weeks, making it easier to reach full forgiveness.
  • Your payroll expenditure requirement changes to 60% from 75%, but is now “all or nothing” instead of scaled based on percentages.
  • You can use the 24-week period to restore staffing and wages to the levels needed for full forgiveness. The deadline is also extended to December 31, 2020 from June 30, 2020.
  • You may be able to invoke one of three exceptions if unable to fully restore the workforce.
    1. You can exclude employees who turned down good faith offers to be rehired at the same hours and wages as before the pandemic.
    2. You can adjust calculations if you cannot find qualified employees
    3. You can adjust calculations if you are unable to restore business operations to Feb 15, 2020 levels due to on-going COVID-19 operating restrictions.
  • You now have five years to repay the loan instead of two years
  • Your interest rate remains at 1.00%
  • You are now eligible to defer payroll taxes under the CARES Act, even though you are a PPP borrower.

Inertia: The Science of Business Continuity

Newtons CradleTo paraphrase Newton’s Laws of Motion (with credit to Galileo) …

Absent an unbalanced force, an object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest.

While this holds true for objects in a friction-less environment, it holds true for our businesses as well. Our businesses are in motion, working each day to service our customers with rhythms and cycles throughout each day, week, month, and year.

Our business cycles continue, until we meet an unbalanced force.

Some forces we expect, like changes in the economy that occur over a period of weeks or months.  Others forces are event-driven, such as storms, cyber attacks, and key employee departures. The sudden nature of event-driven forces can catch us by surprise, cripple our businesses in the short-term, and disrupt our normal cycles for the long-term.

A Case in Point

A company here in the northeast manufactures and distributes a customized product that customers generally replace or re-order every 2 to 3 years.  80% of the firm’s business is repeat, creating a strong and stable business. The company was hit by ransomware twice in a 3 month period.  The first attack, scrambled their files and their servers, but left their financial system in place.  They lost a day’s worth of data.  The immediate recovery took 3 days; the full recovery took nearly two weeks.  After three days of cleaning systems and restoring data, the company’s systems were up and running. They then had to enter the initial day lost data and all of the business activity for the 3 days their systems were down.  They allocated 1/3 of everybody’s time to recover the data, reducing productivity by 33% and impacting their responsiveness to customers. To enter the 4 days of missing data took over 10 days with the team working part time.

Inertia Takes Hold

This initial event changed the cycles and motions of the company. Whenever dealing with any business activity during the outage and recovery periods, they need to double check to make sure the information entered was complete and correct. And since some activities, like shipping and invoices related to prior activities, they need to double-check these connections.  Long after the two week recovery period, productivity is still down as the company’s daily motion now includes double-checking information that they are not sure they can trust.

Lesson NOT Learned

With so much focus on getting the business back into its normal rhythm, and the additional cost involved, the company did not act on recommendations that could help prevent a future attack and better ensure their ability to recover should a future attack occur. Whether the second attack was a different attack or they had failed to fully clean their systems does not matter.  The second attack was not caught until after the company’s backup server was hit, rendering their backups useless.  The company lost three years of data.

Inertia Creates a New Cycle

To recover from this attack took more than balancing data entry and on-going business. It was not feasible to manually recreate three years of data. While entering about 6 months of data for the fiscal year, they settled for a solution that created new methods and rhythms with long-term effects. They recalled all of their paper records from storage into an expanded warehouse space.  When a customer calls to re-order product they ordered 2 or 3 years ago, they search and retrieve the physical paperwork so they can create the new order. Every returning customer creates a scramble to find the paperwork in short order. Actions required in an emergency become part of the new normal. Inertia.

What You Can Do

You can be prepared with solutions that balance external forces beyond your control.

  • An educated and aware workforce balances the human manipulation that enables cyber attacks
  • Advanced threat, DNS, and web protections balance the forces of cyber attacks hitting us daily.
  • A robust backup/recovery and continuity system balances the forceful impact of disruptive events, giving you the ability to be up and running in hours not days.

If the company in our case study had implemented the recommended solutions after the first attack, they second attack would have disrupted the business for less than half a day — and may not have happened at all. The investment in communication, prevention, and recovery, while not trivial, was minor compared to the short term recovery and long term impact on the business.

If you are not ready or willing to have your business’ inertia redirected by forces beyond your control, now is the time to act.


Contact us for a free, no obligation, Cloud Advisor Session to discuss your business recovery and continuity needs and plans.


 

Cloud Computing Still Needs a Grand Strategy

In a recent post on Forbes, columnist Joe McKendrick discusses a Cisco-sponsored IDC survey results showing a lack of coordinated cloud strategies among large enterprises.  Nearly half, or 47%, describe their cloud strategies as “opportunistic” or “ad hoc”. The 14% or respondents claiming managed, optimized cloud strategies, report substantial and tangible business benefits. These successes come from how applications are built and deployed, a strategy that does not always work for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

SMB Cloud is Different

Cloud StrategyWhereas most enterprise cloud strategies focus on building new line of business applications and rebuilding existing systems for the cloud, most small and midsize businesses are not building or customizing their own applications. When SMBs do use custom applications, they typically rely on outside firms for development and support. When SMBs move to the cloud, they normally start with “infrastructure” services like email and file services. Existing business applications are often replaced by SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) cloud solutions — either from the current vendor or as a replacement.

SMB Cloud Forward Strategy

Without a strategy, you can end up struggle to get all of the pieces of your IT in the cloud connected to each other and/or your on-premise systems. For you, as an SMB decision maker, a sound strategy will:

  • Identify your business goals and objectives
  • Use these goals and objectives to define and prioritize your near-term and long-term technology needs
  • Create an architecture that defines the pieces — platforms, applications, and data — and how the pieces fit together
  • Drive your decision to go Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, and/or another cloud platform or ecosystem

Creating your cloud strategy requires some thought and effort, but need not be a lengthy or overwhelming task. Starting with your business priorities and answering a few key questions gets you most of the way there. Once in place, your Cloud Strategy will guide your product selections as well as the order and timing of your deployments.


Interested in creating or updating your Cloud Strategy? Contact us for a Cloud Advisor session — for free and without obligation, or complete our Productivity Cloud Questionnaire for a free assessment and recommendation report.


 

Webcasts

Streamlining Security

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, May 17 at 3:00 PM ET

The on-going coverage and hype about the threats of risks of cyber attacks continues. While small businesses are more vulnerable and more frequent targets, the constant fear-mongering does not help. We become immune to the message. 

Streamlining Security: Sound business practices, not fear, should be your motivation to protect against cyber attacks.

In our May 3T@3 Webcast, Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon will identify the most common and most costly cyberattacks facing small businesses. He will then outline concrete, affordable actions and solutions to protect against these types of threats.

View the Recording On-Demand:


Spring Cleaning Your Files

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, April 19 at 3:00 PM ET

Have you counted the number of places where you store your files? How often do you need to search more than one service or location to find what you need? You are not alone! In an era of virtually unlimited and nearly free storage, we fail to keep things organized. The clutter makes it more difficult to find what we need, collaborate with colleagues, and save what we must.

Using the file services you already have will increase productivity, protect your information, and save you money.

In our April 3T@3 Webcast, Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon looks at how small and midsize organizations can most effectively use cloud file services to improve productivity, enhance security and privacy, and lower costs. With an understanding of personal file services – OneDrive and My Drive – and domain file services – Shared Drives and Sharepoint, businesses can build a file service that organizes and protects files in ways that make them easier to find, share, and use. With an eye on best practices, Allen will compare types of file services, define the role and use of desktop file service clients, and discuss ways to eliminate costly, redundant services. He will also share some Quick Tips that your staff can use to make it easier to work as a team.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Beyond Backup

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, March 15 at 3:00 PM ET

We all know that we need to backup our data and our systems. The vast majority of us have backup solutions in place. Most of us will be able to restore our data or recover from a disaster. Only a few of us will be able to do so with minimum disruption to our businesses and our lives.

Being able to restore data is not an option. The real measure of success is how quickly you can get back to work.

In our March 3T@3 Webcast, Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon looks at evolving business needs for data protection and business continuity. He will discuss the difference between “mean time to recovery” (MTTR) and “Return to Normal Operations” (RTO) and how these measures impact your business. He will also map out how restore, recovery, and continuity solutions offer different value propositions for you and your business and how to look at total cost and impact when selecting your solution.  

View the Recording On-Demand:



Business Continuity & Protection

Peak Productivity

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, February 22nd at 3:00 PM ET

We all have our jobs to do. We want to do well. We want to succeed. We want and need peak productivity. 

While “hacks” are trendy, productivity is boosted when we understand how to best use the tools we have.

In our February 3T@3 Webcast, Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon takes a look at features and tools that can save you steps, simplify your day, and boost your productivity. Whether you run Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, learn how to get more done, more efficiently.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services

Keep IT Simple

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, January 25th at 3:00 PM ET

For small and midsize businesses, particularly solopreneurs and very small businesses, information technology is a double edged sword. Solid IT services are critical to your success, but they consume your time and budget.

Using managed services ensures you have effective and affordable services and frees up time and money to focus on your core business activities.

In our January 3T@3 Webcast, our CEO, Allen Falcon, provides an IT roadmap for solopreneurs and very small businesses (those with fewer than 5 to 10 people). The roadmap is designed to ensure you have the communication, collaboration, and security features and functions you need, along with the services and support to prevent IT headaches and disruptions to your business. Allen will also walk through a value analysis, looking at the hard, soft, and opportunity cost and savings of well-managed IT services.

Please join us, and bring your questions, for this informative session.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services

2022 is Here; What’s Next?

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, December 14th at 3:00 PM ET

It was not all that long ago that we thought the COVID-19 pandemic would be winding down and we would be returning to normal.  And while the shape and direction of COVID-19 pandemic is different now, the impacts are still very real and significant.

COVID-19 triggered fundamental changes in the economy, markets, and society that alter the way we need to operate our businesses and work as individuals.

In our December 3T@3 Webcast, our CEO, Allen Falcon, will cover the societal, economic, and market forces at play and how small and midsize businesses can adapt. From the “great resignation” and a broad labor shortage, to supply chain disruption and the shift to remote/hybrid work and office, Allen will explore ways small and midsize businesses can better leverage technologies and resources to respond to these challenges. And, to help your business survive and thrive.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services

Four Cornerstones for Cloud Security

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, November 16th at 3:00 PM ET

As Cyber Security month has come and gone and we still face increasing security challenges when protecting our businesses, customers, and employees. The rate of attacks against small and midsize enterprises continues to increase, as does the sophistication of these attacks. Beyond regulatory compliance and insurance risk, these attacks disrupt operations and put your operations, cash flow, and reputation at-risk. The good news: you can create a sound security foundation without breaking the bank.

Four security cornerstones create a solid foundation for your cloud security

In this month’s 3T@3 Webcast, our CEO, Allen Falcon, defines and details the four cornerstones for cloud security. He will delve deeper and walk through a road map for using the four cornerstones across your IT services and your organization.  With this road map, you will be able to:

  • Assess your security footprint
  • Identify security gaps
  • Prioritize changes and security services

Please join us, and bring your questions, for this informative session.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services

Cloud File Services

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, October 19th at 3:00 PM ET

As we continue to adapt to post-COVID realities, our businesses face new market pressures as well as new needs and expectations for how our teams will work and collaborate. Remote work is here to stay; Cyber security remains a challenge; Business continuity plans are necessary; Budgets must be respected.

Moving To A Cloud File Service Is A Strategic Approach For Access, Security, And Resilience

In this month’s 3T@3 Webcast, our CEO, Allen Falcon, dives into the what, why, and how of managed cloud file services. Allen will discuss:

  • When cloud file services are a viable replacement of on-premise file services
  • Providing native access to desktops, laptops, and mobile devices
  • Security and privacy
  • Backup/recovery
  • Data loss prevention

Allen will also discuss migration strategies and ensuring consistent services for in-office and remote users.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services

Manage Cloud Services Primer

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, September 21st at 3:00 PM ET

Over the past decade, the dominant trend in IT services for small and midsize organizations has been managed services.  Instead of unpredictable fees for services as delivered, managed services provide businesses with well-defined services and a predictable monthly fee. Managed services include monitoring and active administration, not just reactive support. While reducing IT-related disruptions, services are generally limited to infrastructure and are priced based on the number of users, servers, and other devices under management.

Managed Cloud Services Address the Shift in IT Services and Resources.

In this month’s 3T@3 Webcast, we look at key differences between managing on-premise and cloud-based IT services.  Our CEO, Allen Falcon, will discuss how Managed Cloud Services differ from traditional managed and “break-fix” services. He will also explore how, beyond cost savings, Manage Cloud Services offer strategic  security, services, and business advantages.  

Please join Allen to understand if, and how, Managed Cloud Services are the right solution for your IT and business needs.

View the Recording On-Demand:



Managed Cloud Services