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About Ivana V.

Ivana is a staff writer at SmallBizGenius. Her interests during office hours include writing about small businesses, start-ups, and retail. When the weekend comes, you can find her hiking in nature, hanging off of a cliff or dancing salsa.

Blog posts

Small Business

Small business owners in Utah have something to look forward to—the opening of Utah Small Business Development Center Network’s Global Trade Center. Salt Lake Community College's Miller Business Resource Center announced the news on Monday, claiming that the new trade center will offer resources and education for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It will work in collaboration with the old SLCC Global Business Center that was established in 2007. Jim Herrin, the Salt Lake region director of the Utah Small Business Development Center, explained that their aim is to have more businesses find out about the global trade, and establish international training programs. The Utah network is funded by the state of Utah, the agency, and local colleges and universities, Herrin claims, and the program is hiring experts focused exclusively on helping small businesses run smoothly. They will offer person-to-person assistance across all industries and help both established companies and entrepreneurs looking to get started. This can provide an incentive that will help them grow and become more successful. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. While only 1% of them export goods, those companies are responsible for one-third of total US global exports, according to the Department of Commerce. Utah alone exported $11.6 billion in goods in 2017, and small businesses accounted for 49% of that share. It can be difficult for small firms to find the capital to fulfill foreign purchase orders, and it’s even more difficult for them to connect to overseas buyers. That’s why these educational programs are so essential in promoting a healthy economy. US products are considered premium in many countries, so it can sometimes be easier for small businesses to establish themselves in foreign markets than at home. There is less competition, and with the right kind of training, a company can start thriving in a fairly short amount of time. This kind of success can also attract foreign investors and bring in even more profits that help the local market and increase the standard of living for everybody. Through international trade, Utah’s economy can continue to evolve and create more jobs and opportunities for its citizens. The new global trade center can help to identify international trade opportunities and, what’s more, teach business owners how to respond and make the best of them. It can also give access to grants and provide the needed capital to get in contact with foreign buyers. With this new network of connections and resources, Utah’s small businesses can enjoy a new era of growth and prosperity.

June 11,2019
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Startups

Payless ShoeSource is calling it quits. The 62-year-old chain is liquidating its assets and closing down its stores in the largest retail liquidation by store count to date in the US.The once-giant retailer is shutting all of its 2,500 North American shops. "Our liquidation sales will continue to run through the end of June 2019, during which we are offering amazing deals at up to 80% off," the company said via a statement on its website. "Stores are closing on a rolling basis through June."What led to the decline of this decades-old shoe store chain?Payless has been struggling to stay in business for the past two years. In 2017 it filed for Chapter 11 in hopes of reorganizing its debt. Things were starting to look up in August that year when the company cleared $435 million of debt. With plans to provide for omnichannel features like ship-to-home and pickup-in-store, the crisis seemed to have been averted, and the company appeared to be catching up with its competitors.However, optimism in the company’s revival was short-lived. Payless ShoeSource accumulated more debt due to an inventory-flow disruption during the 2017 holiday season. And the 2018 back-to-school season was met with yet another crisis. As a result of a computer breakdown, the retailer overstocked and was forced to sell millions of pairs of shoes at discounted prices during this holiday season. These two inventory-related issues in two consecutive years cost Payless $66 million. The plan for introducing the omnichannel improvements was put into action in only 200 brick-and-mortar stores. Without those features, the shoe retailer couldn't address the needs of modern shoppers, forcing it out of business.The final nail in Payless’s coffin was entering Chapter 22 bankruptcy in February 2019. After that, its creditors decided that liquidating the 2,500 North American stores was the most profitable solution for its lenders-turned-owners. And so began the largest retail liquidation to date, in terms of the number of stores being shut down. In order to sell off the entire inventory of the US shoe retailer - estimated at $1 billion - two of the largest liquidation companies needed to team up. Change in legislation limits retailers’ optionsAs David Wander, an attorney with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron points out to Retail Dive - the critical point was reached in 2005 when the U.S. Bankruptcy Code changed. Until then, he explains, retailers facing bankruptcy had a chance to revise their inventory, replace their suppliers and management team, cut down on the number of stores, and take other actions. Most importantly, the timeframe for evaluating the effects of those changes was a couple of years. It takes time to test new strategies and their impact on the financial bottom line. Following the changes in the bankruptcy code, the law now gives retailers only 210 days to reorganize. This is not enough time to terminate leases and reduce store footprints.The new law has been viewed as a contributing factor behind the recent bankruptcies of Toys R US, Bon-Ton and most recently Payless ShoeSource.

June 11,2019
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Small Business

H&R Block Inc. will spend $405 million on acquiring Canadian financial software company called Wave Financial Inc. The decision was announced by H&R Block on Tuesday, June 11. The Kansas-based company expects to close the deal in the next few months, pending regulatory approval. The news was made public the same day H&R Block published its latest quarterly and annual financial reports. The American tax preparation firm, in business since 1955, has been looking for ways to accelerate their small business strategy. The company President and CEO, Jeff Jones said in a press release on Tuesday that he feels Wave Financial would enrich the H&R Block’s offer by bringing it closer to small businesses. Wave Financial provides accounting, invoicing, bookkeeping, payroll, and payment processing services to more than 400,000 small businesses worldwide. Jones explains that bookkeeping and cash-flow management have proven to be major weak points for small business owners, yet they are crucial to successfully preparing annual taxes. “We spend a lot of time with our clients and listening to our clients and when you do that you learn a lot about their unmet needs,” Jones said. “And that leads us to think about product development, innovation and ways we can serve more clients.” H&R Block hopes to meet users’ needs for financial solutions by offering a simple user experience on a single platform through partnering up with Wave Financial. Upon the acquisition, Wave Financial will keep its leadership team, headed by the company co-founder and CEO Kirk Simpson. The company will continue to operate from its Toronto headquarters. “Given the complementary strengths of these two great companies and our shared vision of providing financial help to people who need it, we’re delighted to be joining the H&R Block team,” Simpson said in the release. “We are excited to work together to deliver additional value to small businesses to help them succeed.” Wave Financial is anticipated to generate between $40 and $45 million in revenue for the 2020 fiscal year. Apple Supplier AMS Reports a Positive Outlook for Q3 Driving Europen Chip Stocks Up Back in 2014, H&R Block launched its own software geared toward small businesses. The software provided bookkeeping, tax, payroll, and coaching services to this target group until 2016 when the company made the decision to take it off the market. H&R Block Financial Report The Financial statement published on June 11 reveals that in fiscal 2019 the company made $3.1 billion in revenue. In the same fiscal year, 20.3 million US tax returns were prepared by or through H&R Block.

June 12,2019
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Retail

Trump's trade wars with China and Mexico are proving detrimental to US retailers. A large number of retail stocks plunged in May as a result of the ongoing trade tensions between the US and two of its key trading partners - China and Mexico. Retailers, aware of their dependency on goods imported from these countries, raised their concerns right away but to little effect. Effects on the Market Said tensions resulted in shares of SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEMKT: XRT) dropping by 12.3% in May, as the data from S&P Global Market Intelligence reveals. Many more reputable retailers also saw their stocks decline by double digits, including BJ’s Wholesale (NYSE: BJ), Skechers (NYSE: SKX) and Tapestry (NYSE: TPR) which were down by 12% or Macy's (NYSE: M) and Stitch Fix (NASDAQ: SFIX) who experienced a 13% decline by the end of May. However, at the beginning of May there were few indicators that this downfall was coming. With Treasury Secretary’s announcement of the much-anticipated deal with China being on the brink of conclusion, retail stocks were trading at all-time highs. Events Leading to the Dip in Retail Stocks Market fluctuations began on May 6 after President Trump tweeted about upping the tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% by the end of the week if US demands weren’t met. His threats to impose tariffs on other goods worth $300 billion came into force only to be met with the other side’s countermeasures. The Chinese announced they would be taxing  $60 billion worth of American goods by June. As the month progressed, the Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese smartphone company Huawei, restricting its access to hardware, software, and services from American suppliers. The White House mitigated this measure a few days later with a 90-day deferment. Retailers’ Reactions In late May, Skechers, Adidas America, Nike, and Reebok were among the 170 shoe retailers who addressed the President in a letter, pleading him to waive the tariff hike. The shoemakers warned him that average consumers would be the ones most affected by such an increase, as the annual spending on footwear per US family would go up by $131.93. In reaction to the ongoing trade war, the handbag producer Tapestry moved its production out of China and into Vietnam. However, the strategy had its own set of drawbacks as production in Vietnam hasn’t begun yet. Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette commented on the current tariffs situation in an earnings call on May 15. He said the company would adjust its supply chain if the US hikes up tariffs on goods it imports from China. Where Do We Stand Now? Forex trading sessions which took place in June brought about an improvement in stock value - retail ETF is up by 4.5% What contributed to the advance? The deal with Mexico and indications that the Central Bank would lower interest rates provided that the trade war simmers down. Even though it seems the situation is taking a turn for the better, retailers are still apprehensive about the G20 Summit which is scheduled to take place in Japan at the end of June. And for good reason - Trump is threatening to introduce tariffs on another contingent of goods from China worth $300 billion should the Chinese President Xi Jinping fail to meet him. One thing is for sure - the trade war isn’t over yet.

June 12,2019
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Finance

Hong Kong stocks dropped on Wednesday as a consequence of political protests against an extradition bill that has been shaking the city-state since Sunday. The Hang Seng index lowered by 1.7% as the stock market closed on June 12. Property companies Wharf Real Estate Investment and New World Development were hit the hardest, falling by 5.4% and 4.2% respectively. The controversial bill which would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau was scheduled for debate by lawmakers in a Legislative Council on Wednesday morning. However, tens of thousands of protesters blocked key roads leading to the government offices located in the financial district, thus preventing the debate from taking place. The meeting was later postponed by the officials.The once-British colony was returned to China in 1997 when it was granted a semiautonomous legal system by Beijing for the next 50. Both its citizens and foreign companies enjoyed the freedoms the city-state allowed, but the proposed bill threatens to limit them and chase foreign capital away. The largest demonstrations in the last 30 year could have dire consequences on the Hong Kong economy, critics warn. "People loved Hong Kong because it was China, but it wasn't China. If Hong Kong is going to become more like China, of course, they're going to be looking elsewhere including Singapore” said Richard Harris, the CEO of Port Shelter Investment Management to CNN.Asian analysts have a more optimistic take on the situation—they predict the protests will affect the market similarly to how the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations did. The chief economist of GE Oriental Financial Group, Francis Lun believes the stock market will be shaken but he doesn’t expect it to crash.Even though protesters are growing in numbers daily, Carrie Lam, Chief executive of Hong Kong, is determined to move forward with the extradition bill. In a statement issued on Sunday, April 29, Lam said the proposed law is designed to close the loopholes in Hong Kong’s legislative system that allows fugitives from mainland China to seek protection in the city.

June 13,2019
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Small Business

U.S. Small Business Administration’s Microlender of the Year Award presented to the Arizona-based non-profit organization called PPEP Microbusiness & Housing Corporation.Dr. John Arnold founded the organization in 1967 with the aim of helping struggling farmers in rural Arizona get the financial assistance they needed. Ever since then, the nonprofit has been focused on providing loans to the state’s agrarian community, covering 67% of the state, Arnold said to Tucson Local Media.Microlenders are organizations that offer small-balance loans to low-income groups or individuals. The Small Business Administration (SBA) considered microlenders as essential to the success of small businesses in rural areas. And PPEP Microbusiness & Housing Corporation is one of the two microlenders Arizona small entrepreneurs and low-income families rely on.The award ceremony was held on June 6 at the organization’s headquarters in Tucson. Craig Jordan, who presented the award on behalf of the SBA, used the opportunity to praise PPEP for its efforts in helping the community by providing small loans as well as technical assistance. He underscored the importance of the nonprofit’s decades-long efforts to support small businesses in the area.“Every award that we’ve received, we don’t take lightly,” Arnold said at the ceremony. “And it also gives us an opportunity for us to present recognition to our board, to our loan review committee, finance staff, and those that do the loans out in the field.”After the award ceremony, the organization welcomed its new Executive Director  Yasmin Badri. Prior to joining the Tucson nonprofit microlender organization, she worked as a consultant with the World Bank and the IMF in Washington, D.C. Born in Germany to parents of African descent, Badri also worked for the United Nations and UNICEF in Sudan as a media consultant. Before undertaking her new role in PPEP in May 2019, she had founded her own microlender service.She too expressed her appreciation for the award, acknowledging the colleagues who have been in the organization longer than her. “It means a lot for us. This is an effort that’s been done by the staff members and our whole team. I am new and won’t take credit for it. But I am so proud to be here and to be a part of this team effort and this accomplishment.”In her speech, Badri emphasized her commitment to continuing the great work of those before her and the goal of expanding the organization’s reach in order to help even more underserved borrowers.

June 13,2019
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Small Business

The Congressional Committee on Small Business showed its support for small businesses  in the cannabis industry in two instances this weekLetter to the Small Business AdministrationAt the federal level, marijuana remains illegal. However, it can be purchased with a medical prescription in 33 states, and adults can obtain it for recreational purposes in 10 states and in District Colombia. With the marijuana industry and the tax revenue it generates quickly growing in recent years, lawmakers have increased their efforts to provide basic financial resources to businesses in the niche.We saw an example of said efforts on Wednesday. The Small Business Committee addressed the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) in a letter that voiced their concerns about SBA’s existing policies.  Currently, rules that prevent operators from the pot industry and those indirectly involved with it from gaining access to funding and other SBA resources are in place. Aware of the negative impact such rules have on small businesses across the country, seven congressmen and women signed the letter sent to the SBA on June 11.“Under this  Policy, small businesses in states with legal marijuana are effectively forced into making the unfair choice between being able to access SBA-backed lending or conducting business with a large and growing sector of local economies in states with legal marijuana,” they wrote.The Committee proposed it should work together with the SBA on “minimizing burdens and maximizing access to capital for small businesses looking to engage in this emerging industry.''Scheduled HearingThe House Committee on Small Business scheduled a hearing to discuss the opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses arising from the flourishing pot industry and the challenges they face.The Congressional Committee announced a hearing titled “Unlocked Potential? Small Businesses in the Cannabis Industry” yesterday in a notice on its official website. The hearing will be held on June 19, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C.At next week’s hearing, the Committee Members will have an opportunity to examine the challenges small businesses in the marijuana industry currently face. The obstacles of “indirect” cannabis businesses - the ones that are not directly involved in the production or distribution of pot products - will be discussed too. A live stream of the hearing will be available on the Committee’s website.

June 13,2019
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Finance

The alleged attacks on two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz that occurred on Thursday morning spiked the oil-stock prices.The two vessels that suffered explosions belonged to Japan and Norway. The Japanese tanker was transporting 25,000 tons of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore at the moment it caught fire. The Norwegian-owned tanker sailing under the Marshall Islands flag was carrying 75,000 tons of naphtha, a flammable petroleum product, from a UAE port to Taiwan when it got hit by an unknown object.The effect of the events on major indexesThe U.S. reacted immediately, sending U.S. Navy rescue teams to the location and accusing Iran of the aggression. With heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, oil futures surged. The Wallstreet’s S&P 500 Index rose by 0.4% with oil companies leading the way. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended the day with an increase of 0.6%. Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 0.4% too.Both West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark and Brent Crude, the global oil producer, went up by 4.5% yesterday. The Europe Stoxx 600 oil and gas sector stocks grew by 0.2%.Market analysts’ view of the situationSam Stovall, chief investment strategist of U.S. equity strategy at CFRA doesn’t foresee the Strait of Hormuz being closed as a result of these alleged tanker attacks, though he is not surprised they are influencing oil prices.“The market seems to be ignoring China trade and geopolitical issues and focusing on the strong economy, rising productivity, and low unemployment,” he told MarketWatch."Two opposite forces are in the game for oil traders: the global economic slowdown and rising stockpiles pressure the oil prices downwards, while the ongoing tensions in the Middle East push the prices upwards," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst at London Capital Group to Business Insider on Friday morning.Other Stocks that Budged YesterdayWhen the Stock Market closed on Thursday, June 12, Target Corp. increased by 0.1% after the company said it would raise its quarterly dividend by 3.1% to 66 cents a share. Tyson Foods Inc. shares saw an increment of 0.8%. The rise in stock prices was motivated by an announcement that the company is entering the alternative protein market with a new plant-based meat product under the Raised and Rooted brand.RH shares swelled by 16% following the retail company’s earnings report, which surpassed the shareholders' expectations. The retailer formerly known as Restoration Hardware expressed its confidence in mitigating the negative effects of the U.S.-China trade war, saying it had taken several measures to secure its financial goals.DryShips Inc. stocks soared by 23% after the bulk shipping company disclosed it received a buyout offer from SPII Holdings INC.Shares of Fiverr International Ltd. went through the roof, jumping 90% to $39.90 per share after the software company made its public debut on Thursday morning. The company, which operates as a bridge between freelancers and companies seeking their services, had estimated its shares at $21 for its initial public offering.

June 14,2019
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