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Small businesses remain resilient during pandemic

(StatePoint) Amid the historic coronavirus pandemic, businesses are adapting by making major changes to their operations, including increased use of technology, according to the latest PNC semi-annual survey of small and mid-size business owners and executives, which concluded Sept. 8.
  Eight in 10 business owners reported that they have made adaptations in response to COVID-19, including safety changes in the form of new procedures or physical modifications, while others have adopted work-from-home policies.
  “Business owners have learned that the previous status quo won’t work now. The majority of businesses have reconfigured their operations and for many, these changes will be permanent,” says PNC chief economist, Gus Faucher. “Their confidence may be shaken, but we know through the history of this survey that business owners are resilient and they know how to adapt to change.”
  According to the survey, half of businesses report increased use of technology since the outbreak began. Nearly three in 10 have added or increased the use of electronic or touchless payment systems, electronic/website-enabled sales or electronic banking/cash flow management services and 19 percent increased use of fraud/identity protection tools.
  The pandemic has also forced many businesses to shake up their product lineups to better align with consumers’ new habits. A third of business owners report making changes either to the way they sell or deliver their products and services or to the types of products and services they offer.
  Despite these positive signs of transformation and resilience, the drop in business activity over recent months forced many to take drastic measures through workforce reductions; nearly four in 10 businesses have cut workers since the start of the pandemic, although for 87 percent of those, the decrease is considered temporary or a furlough. In fact, 58 percent of the businesses who had temporary layoffs or furloughs have already begun rehiring.
  Faucher said that while the worst may be over and economic activity is on the rebound, the “new normal” doesn’t mean a return to robust job and business growth that existed early in 2020.

Honing your small business toolkit during difficult times
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(StatePoint) It’s been a challenging year for small businesses, with local shutdowns requiring many operations to close their doors, some temporarily, all while weathering the ripple effects of a global economic downturn.
  However, experts say that by getting back to basics and honing your small business toolkit, you can run a tighter ship, leaving your enterprise in a better position to survive these difficult times. Here are a few strategies to consider.
Automating Accounting
  Upgrading your accounting software will help you avoid errors that are common with manual number crunching and leave you well-prepared should your business be randomly audited. Keeping your books in order and automating back-office tasks like this will save you substantial time and energy, which is especially important these days when your attention is better spent on the big-picture aspects of running your business. Just be sure to choose a trusted, vetted solution.
Ditching Paper Payroll
  A 2019 survey by Intuit QuickBooks and Kelton Global found that small business owners spend on average 4.5 hours each pay period preparing, calculating, and filing payroll. By automating payroll, you can turn your attention to more pressing needs, such as finding new clients, exploring new digital offerings and maintaining your business.
  Various tech tools can help you get a handle on what may be your largest expense – paying your workers. A payroll service with a one-day direct deposit feature can be especially valuable, as it allows you to hold onto company cash longer. Overall, automating payroll can give you confidence that employees are paid on time and accurately. 
Owning Tax Time
  And while traditional payroll software can be helpful, it may not go far enough – Intuit QuickBooks, for example, has an expanded suite of QuickBooks Online Payroll offerings that enable small businesses to run payroll and file taxes automatically. This saves small business owners valuable time each payroll cycle by eliminating manual data entry and reducing errors. QuickBooks also offers Tax Penalty Protection that guarantees if a customer receives a federal, state, or local payroll tax penalty from an error made while using QuickBooks Online Payroll, QuickBooks will help resolve it with the government and pay up to $25,000 in fees and interest. To learn more, visit
  “Across the board, small business owners today are facing exceptional circumstances, only now they have the option of using new game-changing tools,” says Laurent Sellier, vice president and business leader of QuickBooks Online Payroll. “By overcoming cash flow, payroll and tax challenges, companies can be in a better position to make it through these uncertain times.”