Small Business Optimism Index Drops Most in its History

The engine of U.S. job growth receives a blow.

 The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 8.1 points in March to 96.4, the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history. Nine of the 10 Index components declined, which is evidence that economic disruptions are escalating on Main Street as small businesses struggle to keep their doors open. The small business sector is anticipating and bracing for continued economic disruptions going forward. The full report (PDF) can be seen here. Here is an overview.

  • The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose 12 points in March to 92, the highest level since March 2017
  • The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 8.1 points in March to 96.4. That’s the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history. It also ended a historic run of 39-months of business optimism above 100.
  • Predictions of better business conditions in the next six months declined 17 points
  • Real sales expectations in the next six months declined 31 points to a net negative 12%, the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history.
  • Thirteen percent of firms thought it was a good time to expand, a decline of 13 points from last month
  • Job openings fell three points to 35%

“Small businesses are living through the coronavirus pandemic right now and it’s hard to say what the severity of the disruption

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Free Webinar | April 4/14: How to Adapt Your Messaging to the Sudden Change in the Marketplace

Join Neil Gordon, a communication consultant, as he discusses best practices when changing up your brand’s messaging.

2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the COVID-19 scare changing the way we all do business only several weeks ago, established companies are now scrambling to adapt to a whole new and sudden shift in meeting customers’ needs. And with existing offers already in place and ready to be sold, it can be tempting to simply make those same offers and hope for the best. But given how people are now buying for very different reasons, how is a company supposed to pivot their messaging without redoing their entire business model from scratch?

A brand is defined not by the offers it makes but the impact it has. And a successful pivot comes from the business’s leaders having clarity around this underlying impact. When it does, they can adapt their messaging to address a different problem the customer now has but still make their original offer – or at least a slightly modified version of their original offer. Then, as they address this need in the short-term, they have the option to build out other offers as a part of a longer-term strategy.

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Join Neil Gordon, a communication consultant who focuses on

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Making Treasury Great Again: Covid-19 will put cashflows into the boardroom

Corporate treasuries, which were already evolving before the coronavirus crisis struck companies around the world, are set for a quicker shake-up as the providers of goods and services realise that central visibility on cashflow and credit will be vital in a disrupted world.

For years, the treasurer role has been becoming more strategic, with company boards paying more attention to medium- and long-term funding.

However, the demand and supply shock dealt by the Covid-19 pandemic will push more operations into the orbit of the treasurer and other senior executives. Pressure will come from the C-suite and the boardroom for greater and more frequent oversight of the nuts and bolts of operational financing.

A survey conducted in March by the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT), with responses dispersed either side of the full onset of the coronavirus crisis in the region, found that 55% of treasurers considered cashflow forecasting to be their top priority during the next 12 to 24 months.

Treasury, even in large corporations, can be a surprisingly antiquated affair. While digital options for secure operations, such as signing documents, have long been available, take-up of many remains patchy.

“The tracking and tracing of incoming payments becomes much more important when there is a shortage of liquidity”

– Jan Dirk van Beusekom, BNP Paribas

The first reaction at

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Intesa Sanpaolo’s UBI Banca takeover faces hurdles

Intesa Sanpaolo chief executive Carlo Messina

Will Intesa Sanpaolo’s attempt to merge with UBI Banca hasten a long-awaited wave of bank consolidation in Italy – perhaps even at the hands of UBI, if the Intesa takeover falls through?

UBI and its advisers, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, are hoping that regulators and shareholders will think so, as the two banks await the outcome of a protracted inquiry by Italy’s anti-trust authority.

Intesa’s UBI merger, if it happens, would be Europe’s biggest bank takeover in a decade. It would combine Italy’s biggest bank by domestic share, Intesa, with one of the strongest lenders in the rich north of the country, UBI. But it faces a barrier in the form of opposition from UBI’s biggest shareholder pact, representing politically influential local bank foundations in Piedmont and Lombardy, and powerful entrepreneurs in Bergamo, UBI’s home town.

According to a source at Intesa, when chief executive Carlo Messina announced the deal in mid February, he anticipated opposition by UBI’s board and the shareholder pact, which represents 19% of shares. He had, however, hoped for anti-trust approval by the end of June, which now looks unlikely.

Material adverse change

This has given more time for UBI to work on alternative deals: albeit behind the scenes, as Italian takeover rules prevent more open defence actions during

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How to Apply for a Small Business ‘Payroll Protection Program’ Forgivable Loan

Update | With the anticipated passage of an interim bill by Congress and the President, new legislation is anticipated by Friday, April 24. We will update this article when the legislation is passed.

Resources | The Guide to Coronavirus Pandemic

NOTE: The Payroll Protection Program ended on April 16, 2020. For more information, see: PPP Funds Exhausted: SBA No Longer Accepting Loan Application

While not all small business owners experienced smooth sailing when they tried to apply for a Payroll Protection Program loan beginning last Friday, the program is too important for small business owners to ignore. It’s worth noting, also, that the legislation that enacted the program was overwhelmingly passed overwhelmingly just one week before the application process began.

Late in the day on Friday, treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted that $1.8 billion in loan applications had been processed, mostly all from community banks. “Big banks are taking in large amounts but have not yet submitted their numbers,” he said. In the same tweet exchange, President Trump said he would request Congress to approve more money for the program.

The information below was prepared by the SBA as an overview of the program. (Note: is not affiliated with the SBA.)

Contents you’ll find below

  • Loan Information
  • Who Can Apply
  • Loan Details and Forgiveness
  • Other Assistance
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Launching a New Site? Make Sure You Understand Digital ADA Compliance

Any business’s online presence must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the old cliche goes, “Presentation is everything.” Having great content for your website is an important starting point, but ensuring that it is presented in an appealing way will make all the difference in whether visitors stick around. Unfortunately, far too many companies and brands ignore the needs of users with disabilities when implementing a design update or launching a brand new site. And this can prove costly, as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is increasingly being viewed as applicable to websites and mobile apps.

The result? Celebrities like Beyoncé and major corporations like Domino’s are getting sued when disabled users find themselves unable to fully use their websites. Domino’s especially has faced negative press.

Even without lawsuits, failure to make web accessibility a priority could result in significant losses for your business. The 2019 Click-Away Pound Survey found that 69 percent of individuals with disabilities “‘click away from a site with [access] barriers.” Despite this, only 8 percent contact site owners about their problems. This means a non-ADA compliant site could be losing money without your even knowing it. As such, few things are more important than making sure

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