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The United States Department of Labor (DOL), the Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury Department have recently released the final regulations referring to the expansion of Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA). Two previously impermissible categories of HRAs have been established: the individual coverage health reimbursement accounts (ICHRA), and the Excepted Benefit HRA health reimbursement accounts. Small business owners and their employees are expected to find them particularly beneficial. The 2013 notice from the IRS was more demanding for small businesses offering HRAs, and the recent formal revision offers a better solution. Business owners can now use health reimbursement arrangements as the main health benefit in a manner that complies with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The recent rules and guidelines expand business owners’ ability to offer HRA or ICHRA in conjunction with individual coverage.Individual Coverage HRAFunded exclusively by the employer, this type of coverage serves to reimburse employees for medical care expenses, individual market premiums included. Workers are provided tax-preferred funds to pay for health insurance coverage costs purchased in the individual market, subject to certain conditions.The new rule adds that the employee must be enrolled in individual health coverage (or Medicare) instead of group health plan coverage. This does not include plans purchased outside the Marketplace Exchange such as vision, dental, or short-term limited-duration, that only cover some excepted benefit. The new plan can cover full-time, part-time, salaried, and hourly employees, but not ones who are already using a traditional group health plan.ICHRA is also considered an offer of coverage under the ACA for employer mandate purposes.  An employer is required to determine whether the individual Coverage HRA offers enough contributions for the Marketplace coverage to meet affordability demands. The employer must also verify that an employee and their family, have individual coverage.Excepted Benefit HRAThis means that an employer can offer HRA as an “excepted benefit,” an insured/self-insured plan not integral to a major medical health plan, but still meeting some requirements. The Excepted Benefit can reimburse medical care expenses along with other excepted benefits, including HRA. As the HRA is neither integral to a health plan nor a health plan itself, it’s considered an excepted benefit. An employer must offer this type of HRA together with an option to enroll in a non-excepted group health plan. Still, a group or individual health plan is not a participation requirement—an important improvement in the final rule. Health plan premiums such as Medicare and individual coverage cannot be reimbursed by this HRA. You can only use it to cover medical care expenses, premiums under an excepted benefit (e.g., vision, dental, or short-term limited duration insurance), or COBRA coverage. Finally, the annual HRA contribution limit is $1,800 (adjusted for the expected 2021 inflation).The Departments and a number of federal agencies will issue additional requirements and guidelines regarding this rule. If an employer wants to implement either type of HRA under the final rule, it would be a good idea to seek qualified ERISA counsel.This rule is effective for plan years starting January 1, 2020.

By Andrea June 21,2019

It takes guts, determination, and a healthy dose of wild optimism to attempt building a startup of your own. It also takes years of hard work. Despite all this, 70% won’t live to see their 10th birthday. So, what is the startup failure rate in your industry, your city, your niche? And why do so many people give up on the idea they fought so hard for? Most entrepreneurs are aware that it can be difficult to get repeat funding, build a viable business model, and grab their customers’ attention. But did you know most businesses fail simply because there is no market for their product? If you don’t do your market research properly, all your subsequent efforts to stay afloat will have been in vain. It’s important to learn what percentage of startups fail in the industry you’re targeting. Don’t set yourself back by ignoring economic, financial, social, and cultural data on the current state of affairs in your particular niche. And make sure you have a good grasp on what the competition is doing so you can provide a product or service with a point of difference. We’ve prepared an infographic on the latest and most relevant startup statistics to help your business get off the ground. To do this, we’ve compiled high-quality data from independent studies and reports, as well as government websites and academic papers. Our goal? To find out what prevents startups from failing, how to conduct the best market research, where to get funding, and how long it takes to start making money organically. What are the best cities for startups? What are the most profitable industries for startups? It’s worth asking yourself all these questions before you begin investing time and money into an idea that may not succeed. With a steady focus and the right information, you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting the job done. Top Startup Failure Rate Statistics - Editor’s Choice Access to talent (63%) was the critical issue affecting most startups in 2019. Only 6% of U.S. startups believe organic growth will be their company’s next source of funding. Incompetence, at 46%, is the most common reason why businesses fail, according to a Statistic Brain study. San Francisco and Silicon Valley account for 13.5% of global startup deals. 50% of U.S. startups say they were concerned trade policy between the U.S. and China will hurt their businesses in 2019. Of the startups surveyed, 58% started with less than $25,000 and one-third started with less than $5,000. More than 80% of U.S. startups said they planned to add employees in 2019. Startup Failure Rate Statistics Incompetence, at 46%, is the most common reason why businesses fail, according to a Statistic Brain study. (Statistic Brain) In this case, the term “incompetence” refers to a wide variety of inadequacies. These include emotional pricing, no experience in record-keeping, a lack of planning, no knowledge of finance, failure to pay taxes, and spending too much with limited business revenue. The percentage of startups that fail after four years in the U.S. is over 50%. (Statistics Brain) Businesses in the fields of information (63%), transport, communication and utilities (55%), and retail (53%) are the most likely to fail. Their somewhat more successful counterparts include real estate, finance, and insurance (42% failure rate), along with education and health (44%). 65% of entrepreneurs admit they were not fully confident they had enough money to start their business. (Business Insider) Sadly, 93% calculated a run rate of under 18 months. Of these, 25% calculated a run rate of less than six months, while 36% didn't make any calculations at all. Only 9% of businesses fail due to an utter lack of passion. (CBINSIGHTS) How many new businesses fail just because their owners simply don’t care enough to make an effort? Not too many, as it turns out. Still, this is a ridiculous reason to go down. As stated in the infographic, CBINSIGHTS performed post-mortems on 101 failed startups to learn what drove them to an early grave. Mostly, it was a lack of market need, inadequate funding, or an incompetent team. In 2018, there was a decline of about 2% in cultural support, human capital, competition, internalization, and risk capital. (Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018) Unfortunately, the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute has noticed that the overall environment in 2018 is less supportive of startups and entrepreneurship. 56% of companies that raise a follow-up round of funding after their seed are then able to raise a second follow-up round. (CBINSIGHTS) Wondering how to make a startup company successful? Make sure you project a professional, hard-working image to earn subsequent funding. As this research shows, it’s easier to raise a third round of financing than a second one, with only 40% of businesses successfully raising their first post-seed round. After the third round, though, your chances of getting subsequent funding are likely to drop steadily. Access to talent (63%) was the critical issue affecting startups in 2019. (US Startup Outlook 2019) Even the best startup business will face a number of challenges on its way to success. In the 2019 US Startup Outlook survey, nearly 1,400 technology and healthcare startup founders and executives cited the most important public policy issues affecting their business. The most compelling issues other than access to talent were healthcare costs (44%) and cybersecurity (40%). The final three concerns were customer privacy (33%), corporate taxes (22%), and international trade (also 22%). In 2019, 50% of U.S. startups said that their more realistic long-term goal is to be acquired, 7% less than in 2018. (US Startup Outlook 2019) A larger percentage of startups compared to last year say they don’t know what their ultimate goal is, underscoring the difficulty of planning an exit strategy amid increased market volatility. With plenty of capital available, many corporations, private equity funds, and scaling companies have the resources to make acquisitions. Only 6% of U.S. startups believe organic growth will be their company’s next source of funding. (US Startup Outlook 2019) Organic growth is crucial, as startup success statistics show. Other important sources of funding include bank debt, IPOs, mergers, government grants, ICOs, and crowdfunding. 50% of U.S. startups say they are concerned trade policy between the U.S.A. and China would hurt their business in 2019. (Exploring the Factors of Startup Success and Growth) Of those, 33% are somewhat worried, while 17% are very concerned. This might be due to China’s “Made in China 2025” plan. This is a strategic project issued by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his cabinet in May 2015. In short, China plans to move past being the world’s “factory” and start producing higher-value products and services. The small business survival rate – which currently sits at 30% past the 10-year milestone – might not drop because of this economic shift. There is another issue, though. According to a Churnbase study, China has more unicorn companies than the U.S.A., in spite of America being the primary source of venture capital. Startup Trends You Can Focus On To Succeed Of the startups surveyed, 58% started with less than $25,000 and one-third started with less than $5,000. (Business Insider) Kabbage recently polled 600 thriving U.S. small business owners to better understand their cash flow issues. Admittedly, these small business owners indicated they had at least some knowledge of how to build a startup. In many cases, this knowledge included experience in financing and bookkeeping (35%), legal and compliance (29%), and marketing and advertising (28%) when starting their business. Maybe the motto that “it takes money to make money” doesn’t apply all the time. Globally, product innovation scores have increased by 22% since 2017, while startup skill scores have risen by 11%. (Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018) The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute came up with these figures. It is one of the top research centers focused on understanding and improving the relationship between entrepreneurship, innovation, and prosperity. Based on the organization’s findings, people are getting better at understanding and identifying successful startup business ideas and turning them into useful products. 60% of U.S. startups expected business conditions for their company to improve in 2019, 1% less than in 2018. (US Startup Outlook 2019) Entrepreneurs’ hopes and dreams are slightly grimmer than in 2017. On the other hand, 31% of respondents believe that business conditions will stay the same. As many as 9% think conditions are likely to get worse, a 4% increase since 2018. On average 15% of micro-enterprises are traders, while the share is 60% for small enterprises. (OECD) The success startups expect to achieve seems to revolve mostly around trade. A 2018 OECD report on entrepreneurship classified micro-enterprises as having between zero and nine employees (zero meaning the owner is the only one working). According to this measure, a small enterprise employs between 10 and 49 people. Organizations’ capacity to channel innovations to the economy is more potent in innovation-driven economies (1.55%) than in efficiency-driven (1.17%) or factor-driven economies (-0.59%). (Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018) Successful startup businesses identify and understand how developed their country’s economy is before they decide what startup idea to pursue. Factor-driven economies rely mainly on unskilled labor and natural resources, while efficiency-driven economies are characterized by more efficient production processes and higher quality. Finally, innovation-driven economies depend on skilled, educated, and knowledge-based labor, with a more developed service sector. Scores on the Global Entrepreneurship Index have improved by 3% on average since last year. (Global Entrepreneurship Index 2018) The GEI analyzes startups’ health based on 12 main factors. These startup success factors include product innovation, process innovation, human capital, cultural support, and the perception of opportunities.  71% of surveyed U.S. startups have successfully raised capital in 2018. (US Startup Outlook 2019) A quarter of these businesses don’t consider the fundraising environment to be challenging. That may be because there is currently a trend of venture capitalists and private equity firms investing larger sums into a smaller deals. These startup trends only apply to high-performing young businesses, however. Struggling startups are finding it increasingly more difficult to raise funds.  More than 80% of U.S. startups said that they planned to add employees in 2019. (US Startup Outlook 2019) The success startups hope to achieve often relies on paying a bunch of new employees to do the heavy lifting, so to speak. As many as 29% of entrepreneurs recognize that it’s extremely challenging to find talent with the necessary skills to grow their businesses. Another 62% say it is somewhat challenging. Startups are most in need of filling product development, sales, and technical positions. Startup Guide: Ageism, Racial Bias, and Venture Capital In 2019, the percentage of startups with at least one woman on the board of directors increased to 37%. (US Startup Outlook 2019) That’s the highest result since SVB started doing research in 2015. Additionally, 53% of startups now feature at least one woman in an executive position, a 10% increase compared to last year. 37% of founders believe startup investors show some kind of age bias against them. (State of Startups) In 2018, the State of Startups annual survey interviewed hundreds of venture-backed founders, who talked about what it’s like running a tech startup today. On average, founders think ageist attitudes begin once they turn 46. In 2018, 26% of surveyed tech startup founders believe a race bias is exists. (State of Startups) Small business stats and startup stats don’t usually cover these issues, but discrimination remains a huge problem. In the State of Startups annual survey of 529 founders, almost 30% agreed people in the American startup scene need to do more to fight racial bias. In 2019, 52% of U.S. startups expected their company’s next source of funding to be venture capital. (US Startup Outlook 2019) That’s down 2% from 2018. Due to limited revenue or high costs, most of startups’ small-scale operations aren’t sustainable in the long run without additional funding. That’s why, after receiving their initial investment, most young startups will either fail or need subsequent investments. As for subsequent investments, 17% of the U.S. startup budget comes from angel investors, micro VCs, or an individual investor. Only a small number of companies become profitable solely thanks to their first investment. As many as 8% hope for private equity, while 7% rely on private investors. On average, a typical angel investor in the U.K. holds their investment for six years. (The UK Business Angel Market) A study of the U.K. Angel Business Market came up with this figure. Startup statistics in the UK show hugely positive signs of continued growth in the angel market. In fact, 41% of angel investors increased their investments during the 2016-17 tax year. Growth has been impressive, with 69% of investee businesses surpassing their expectations. San Francisco and Silicon Valley account for 13.5% of global startup deals. (StartupsUSA) San Francisco tops the list, playing host to nearly 10% of global venture capital deals. In other startup news, New York is the runner up, with 6.5%. London is next, with 5% of global venture capital deals, half of what San Francisco provides. Finally, the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, accounts for almost 4% on its own. Boston and L.A. each account for more than 4% of all startup deals on a global scale. Bangkok takes first place for global growth of venture capital deals, with an increase of more than 600% between 2010 and 2017. (StartupsUSA) Thailand's successful startup industry expected to see double-digit growth in 2018, driven by local funding and foreign venture capital. Local startups are being encouraged by government support, and Thailand is promising as overall costs for startups are low relative to Singapore. Globally, the majority of enterprises (between 70% and 95%) are micro-businesses, meaning they have fewer than 10 employees. (OECD) Startup statistics show that in most OECD economies, small and medium-sized enterprises account for over half of all employment and value added within the business sector. These are either single-person businesses, where a freelancer opens a firm and is self-employed, or a partnership of some sort. Small businesses such as these are easier to manage. Since poor time and resource management are some of the most common causes of the high startup failure rate, this reluctance to start big is probably a good idea. In most OECD countries, venture capital constitutes less than 0.05% of GDP. (OECD) This is according to the OECD, an intergovernmental organization consisting of 36 member countries. The two major exceptions to the small GDP percentage of venture capital are Israel and the United States, where the venture capital industry is more mature and represents more than 0.35% of GDP. Tech Startup Statistics The fastest-growing tech startups are in advanced manufacturing and robotics, which is growing at a rate of 189.4%. (Global Startups Ecosystem Report) According to a 2018 report, advanced manufacturing and robotics has the best five-year growth rate of any tech subcategory. This stat specifically measured early-stage deals from 2012-17. Agtech and new food is the second-fastest-growing sector for startups, with a growth rate of 171.4%. (Global Startups Ecosystem Report) The 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report found agtech businesses to be among the most profitable startups. The agriculture industry employs a huge number of people and adds $3.2 trillion annually to the global economy. Now, digitization is transforming this vital industry, especially in the fields of automation and quality control. Blockchain is the third-fastest-growing tech startup category, with a 162.6% growth rate. (Global Startups Ecosystem Report) Blockchain is still in the emerging phase of the startup lifecycle. This peer-to-peer value exchange eliminates the need for third-party mediators. The technology has applications across myriad industries, particularly within the financial services sector. When you look at tech startup trends, nothing’s hotter right now than blockchain. AI, big data, and analytics are the fourth-fastest-growing tech startups, at 77.5% growth rate. (Global Startups Ecosystem Report) This sub-sector is growing strongly and is much closer than many other sub-sectors to the mature phase, encompassing 5% of all global startups. Worldwide GDP could grow up to 14% by 2030 as a result of AI, which would mean an additional $15.7 trillion for the global economy. Why Some Startups Succeed (and Why Most Fail) Market research: You’ve fulfilled your lifelong dream by starting a real estate agency. But the area you should be covering is already packed with realtors, and your service is surplus to the market’s needs. You fail. Business plan: Identifying market demand is just the beginning. You need to split your business plan into small, achievable goals, and predict potential problems and solutions. Funding: Whether you’re backed by a venture capitalist, an individual contributor, or the government, your business will probably need repeat investments. The best startup advice you can get is to not stretch for cash during your first year, or you might never get off the ground. Location and marketing: An integrated, multi-channel online presence is a must for any business to survive in the 21st century. If you open a coffee shop with no website or social media presence in a neighborhood that couldn’t care less, you’re going to have a bad time. Knowledge: The truth is that some entrepreneurs take up this challenge with little to no previous knowledge of finance, accounting, or their niche. Make sure you enroll in courses to learn the skills you need before you try to break into the market.   Conclusion If you want to succeed, a positive attitude and hard work alone aren’t going to cut it. You need to know, not hope that your business will be a success. The startup success rate becomes less favorable with every year your business keeps operating, and as time goes by, survivors are increasingly rare. You won’t get too many shots at building a profitable company, so time and quality information are of the essence. Don’t be fooled: the myth of the personality cult, maverick tech entrepreneur who makes millions winging it is a sham. If you’re born into considerable wealth, you might be able to pull that off. The chances are, though, that you’ll only succeed if you work harder and smarter than your competition. Over-prepare, read up on all the you can get your hands on, then prepare yourself for the ultimate leap of faith so you don’t become just another number in the startup failure rate.

By Andrea June 23,2019

NASA has selected 363 proposals from research institutions and small businesses across 41 states as a part of NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the Moon in five years’ time. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs will support the selected small businesses in three phases. The investments are valued at over $45 million. Hopefully, the small businesses will help NASA establish a strong presence in the revamped space race, as part of the agency’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach.Nearly a hundred of the selected companies have never received the NASA SBIR or STTR contracts before, and 20% are run by members of underrepresented demographics such as minorities and women. The submitting organizations’ experience, qualifications, and technical merits were considered in the selection process. Additional criteria included organizations’ facilities, commercial potential, feasibility, and work plan effectiveness.The primary goal is to take advantage of the overall small business technological and innovative potential across all states. NASA’s SBIR and STTR programs will stimulate innovation in the private sector, and the participation of talented yet economically disadvantaged business owners. Small businesses and research institutions have received a strong incentive to develop creative, efficient solutions that meet the growing needs of the federal government. The selected companies will work with NASA towards advancing aeronautics, space technology, and human space exploration. The newly-developed technology will also find a number of applications on Earth, including: A smart rover wheel Integrated perception and sensing subsystems can improve rover mobility on the Moon and other planetary objects. Autonomous tractors and off-road vehicles on Earth could also find this technology useful. A laser-based mass spectrometerThis scientific instrument could search for life on other planets, as well as participate in habitat air monitoring and terrain mapping. A light-weight, deployable solar panelLeveraging the newest thin-film solar technology discoveries, this solar panel will enable safe, autonomous operations of unmanned aircraft systems. The compact storage cylinder, a significant advancement compared to previous rigid solar panels, will allow long-time operations in complex, challenging environments. Quicker, higher-quality crater map generationThe new mapping technique will be superior to even the best manual identification efforts. This technology will facilitate NASA’s observation of Mars, and the Moon’s surface features. Screening, testing, and validating of commercial, off-the-shelf hardware simulationThis technology could be used in high-performance computing systems, and assist in onboard electronics selection.There are three phases to concluding NASA’s SBIR and STTR programs:Phase I Programs will estimate the technical, scientific, and commercial merit and feasibility of the innovation in question. All 363 selected proposals are still in Phase I. SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months, and the STTR contracts last for 13 months, both with the maximum funding of $125,000. Phase II Only businesses with Phase I contracts can become eligible to submit a proposal for Phase II. This phase will deal with the development, demonstration, and delivery phase of the innovation. With the maximum funding of $750,000, contracts will last for 24 months. Phase III The final stage involves the commercialization of innovative products, services, and technologies, and is funded from sources other than SBIR and STTR. Phase III can result from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. NASA’s Silicon Valley-based Ames Research Center is managing the SBIR and STTR programs. STMD is behind the pioneering, cross-cutting technologies and capabilities the agency needs to make current and future missions a reality.

By Andrea June 24,2019

Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, is awaiting a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The July 16 meeting will be held at 10 a.m. EST, and as of yet, no information about witnesses has been released. The hearing will be broadcast to the public.The goal is to examine “Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations.” Libra’s features, business plan, and potential risks will undergo close scrutiny at the hands of the Congress members, and any further work on Libra will likely be delayed.Facebook characterized Libra as a “global currency and financial infrastructure,” a digital asset powered by Facebook’s new version of blockchain. Facebook claims its ambition with Libra comes down to reaching 1.7 billion people worldwide who still don’t have access to a bank account.Still, the Banking Committee has met Facebook’s seemingly altruistic plan with caution. In an open letter they published last month, the Committee demanded answers about Facebook’s work on Libra: how it works, and whether Facebook sought any input from market watchdogs and regulators before putting it in motion.Even before Facebook went public with its vision for a global cryptocurrency, it sparked the interest of the Congress with its social media monopoly. Together with Google, Facebook controls 82% of the digital advertising market. This monopolization has triggered an antitrust investigation that will dig deep into Facebook’s Google’s, and Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior. Currently, banks and financial institutions have limited access to personal information and data. If Facebook, a company which holds more personal data than most governments, establishes Libra, it will significantly diminish other organizations’ chances at the consumer payment market. Facebook’s Libra project threatens to increase its monopolistic efforts to the financial market exponentially, in keeping with Facebook’s monopolistic business style.Still, killing off payment market competitors is not the officials’ only concern. Privacy has become a burning issue after a series of data theft and data leakage controversies, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Its insight into consumer purchasing habits and patterns is unprecedented; if Facebook successfully mints its own coin, the public would get a chance to witness the greatest anti-competitive trust case in history.Following today’s news on U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing, committee member and 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “Facebook has too much power and a terrible track record when it comes to protecting our private information. We need to hold them accountable—not give them the chance to access even more user data. #BreakUpBigTech.”

By Andrea June 25,2019

An Irish healthcare startup Nutrias has discovered the first healthcare ingredient using artificial intelligence (AI). It plans to discover another four within the next 18 months.Nuritas has raised $65m (£51m) from a series of high-profile investors such as U2’s Bono, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, and the Edge. It has also raised money from serial entrepreneur Ali Partovi, an early advisor to Dropbox, and the European Investment Bank.The startup’s machine learning method for drug discovery now prides itself on a 60% success rate — surpassing the results in the rest of the pharmaceutical industry by a long shot.The first ingredient with medicinal effects was discovered in collaboration with the German chemical giant BASF (BAS.DE), and it helps treat inflammation. By the end of 2019, the healthcare product should hit the market in a number of sports nutrition products, said CEO Emmet Browne, in his interview for Yahoo Finance UK.“We believe not only that we have launched the only healthcare ingredient found through AI, but we will, in fact, launch the second, third, fourth, and fifth within a 12–18 month period as well,” Browne commented in the interview.Such ingredients usually take five to seven years to discover, at an approximate cost of $35m. Nutrias has achieved the same goal in two years. “To have something in market that quickly is just exceedingly disruptive by comparison to what's normally the case with that particular arena,” said Browne.A three-stage process is all this startup needs to discover new healthcare products, starting with a manual identification of a range of possibilities. Once this stage is finalized, machine learning steps in to narrow down the options. Somewhere around 60% of identified ingredients will show the bioactive activity the scientists are searching for, according to Browne. “In effect, what we do is use artificial intelligence to unlock nature's secrets. That’s the depth of it.”“Nature carries an exhaustible reserve of bioactive opportunities,” Browne said, noting that the “vastness has until now made it relatively impenetrable to the 20th-century process of discovery.”Founded in 2014 by Dr. Nora Khaldi, an Irish-Algerian scientist, Nuritas combines AI and genomics to discover and unlock natural Bioactive Peptides with a wide array of health benefits. In a world of mounting health issues, a growing number of chronic diseases, and a rapidly aging population, Nutrias is trying to offer preventative options at an affordable price.Nutrias is also a founding member of a coalition of tech and health experts, pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations called the Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. They aim to use AI and machine learning to build a healthier world for everyone. 

By Andrea July 01,2019

The mental health of business owners reflects on the local economy and affects millions of lives. Understanding the mental health risks and the pressures business owners face is, therefore, of utmost importance for the population as a whole. In 2019, the Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) both recognized this concern and decided to join forces and conduct in-depth research on the mental health of Canadian business owners. Titled, “Going it Alone: the Mental Health and Well-Being of Entrepreneurs in Canada,” the study aims to identify key issues and find ways to improve entrepreneurs' mental health by implementing appropriate health protection measures. The report is based on a survey of nearly 500 entrepreneurs. As many as 46% of entrepreneurs experienced low mood or mental fatigue, while 62% were hit hard by depression at least once a week. 46% of business owners also reported that mental health issues and exhaustion affected their ability to work. Still, in spite of the results some may find worrisome, only 20% of entrepreneurs claimed that they felt the need to seek health support or services. On the other hand, 79% of respondents reported feeling satisfied with their mental health at least once a week. There’s a number of obstacles on the business owners’ path to seeking help, number one (36%) being the mental health stigma. Entrepreneurs often fail to report mental health issues for fear of negative repercussions and resort to just running with it instead. Ironically, 46% of those surveyed reported their organization is working towards ending mental health stigma, according to the report. Mental health costs (34%) and the lack of access to adequate support (22%) are some additional setbacks. Some issues seem to plague female entrepreneurs at a higher frequency than their male counterparts, according to the report. This includes a depressed mood, feelings of inadequacy, and being overwhelmed. Also, entrepreneurs whose businesses are still in the early stages of development report more mental issues. A growing business with an uncertain future, sources of funding, or growth rate is a minefield of potential stressors, so this comes as no surprise. Creating a safe environment where business owners can address their mental health issues, anxieties, and worries is of major importance. People must be able to report their condition without any repercussions.Even though the study was conducted in Canada, the situation in the U.S. is unlikely to be much better.In an emailed release, Brian Fielkow, the CEO of Jetco Delivery, said: “I’m not shocked by this at all. Based on what I see with my clients, I expect that this rate is even higher in the United States. Business owners are so busy taking care of their employees that they forget to take care of themselves. They also hide their depressed feelings to keep up company morale.”In conclusion, the report states, “We need a more nuanced narrative that allows entrepreneurs to show their vulnerability and ask for help when they need it.”

By Andrea July 01,2019

A leading U.S. retail group says that it’s prepared to offer their assistance to antitrust investigators set to look into the alleged “anti-competitive conduct” by Google and Amazon.The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) represents Target, Best Buy, and Walmart and is ready to offer its insights to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. “It’s pretty clear to us that the FTC and different relevant regulators should be taking a much closer look at these platform companies,” said Nicholas Ahrens, vice president of innovation for Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), in an interview. “We are here to help.”RILA has joined an avalanche of companies such as Yelp, News Corp., Oracle, and Tripadvisor in an effort to provide key information against Google and Amazon. Taking part in an ongoing investigation, this retailers’ group commented on the competitive harm the dominant tech platforms present before the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee.On Sunday, RILA wrote a letter to the FTC, suggesting the tech platforms are creating an “information bottleneck,” with enough power to skew markets and evade the traditional power of price competition. RILA also cited its concerns over Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies favoring their own products over those of other retailers selling on their platforms. The tech giants also collect data on competitors and might be using it to enable the proliferation of counterfeit goods.It should be “quite concerning to the commission that Amazon and Google control the majority of all internet product search, and can very easily affect whether and how price and product information actually reaches consumers,” the trade group said in a letter, responding to a series of hearings the agency held on competition policy.Amazon and Google’s representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.The FTC will oversee the investigation into Facebook and Amazon, while the Justice Department is set to probe Google and Apple, Bloomberg has reported. Last month the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee launched an extensive antitrust investigation into the tech industry, scheduling a hearing on the way Google and Facebook have affected the news industry.RILA also pointed to Amazon’s dominance in the field of eCommerce, where it accounts for almost 50% of U.S. online sales. Amazon, both a marketplace for third-party sellers and a retail giant, has drawn scrutiny over whether it’s using the abundance of sales data to prioritize its own products over those of smaller vendors. The EU is already investigating the issue and has prompted calls to break up the online retailer and other tech platforms.Amazon claims it’s only behind a small percentage of the total U.S. retail market and even suffers strong competition from the likes of Walmart.“RILA does not file this comment to complain about competition from Facebook, Google, Amazon, Visa, or any other technology or payments platform,” the group said. “Indeed, retail leaders comment to ask for more competition, not less. But all competition must be on a fair and level playing field.”

By Andrea July 02,2019

In support of 53 local small businesses, The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. will provide funding or other assistance in cash grants through Motor City Match. Reportedly, 11 of the winning businesses are receiving nearly $500,000 in a matching grant competition that supports entrepreneurship in Detroit. The other companies received business plans, space, or design awards.One gaming and entertainment business will receive a $60,000 cash award to help renovate a building and purchase furniture and equipment. Other winners include a coffee shop, a certified nurses’ aide training center, a clothier, and a microbrewery. The program aims to build up retail density by providing help with building plans, space, and design. Over 1,300 entrepreneurs have benefited from the program during its five-year lifetime. To qualify for the MCM grants, businesses must be based in Detroit for at least two years, enough to demonstrate a benefit to the local community.According to Detroit Economic Growth Corp. Chief Executive Kevin Johnson, “small-business success is crucial to the overall prosperity of Detroit, including adding neighborhood jobs.”DEGC is a vital citywide tool in supporting businesses and bringing in new companies and investments to stimulate the local economy. It has also been deploying both place-based and job creation strategies, from identifying potential development opportunities and negotiating agreements, to managing construction projects.An advocate for local businesses of all sizes, DEGC’s economic development experts have been eliminating growth obstacles and creating new opportunities to both emerging and expanding businesses.Since its inception, the Motor City Match has awarded $7.5M in cash grants to as many as 170 entrepreneurs on their way from “idea to open.” Business owners belonging to minority groups account for 81% of grant winners, 70% are women, and 63% are Detroit residents.“Small-business success is crucial to the overall prosperity of Detroit, including adding neighborhood jobs, building our city’s middle class, and creating a culture of entrepreneurialism in the city,” said Kevin Johnson. “The MCM program launched as the first of its kind in the country nearly five years ago. Fast forward to 2019, and we’re seeing increased small-business density in our commercial corridors and new opportunity for residents to share Detroit’s prosperity.”

By Andrea July 02,2019