From labor quality to costs of materials, small business owners are experiencing inflation in a way that many never have before, and JPMorgan Chase has been working with hundreds of businesses in the DMV to help keep their doors open during these times of detriment.
With August being Black Business Month, Kristina Sicard, Vice President and Senior Business Consultant with Chase, offered insight on how small business owners can navigate through the difficult economic situation.
“I would say focus on controlling what you can,” Sicard said. “Focus on talent retention or raising employee compensation if you have the ability to do so.”
Sicard also said, “it’s important to do forecasting and place orders ahead of time, maybe for the next two seasons to stay ahead of supply chain issues. It may also be a good opportunity to leverage a business line of credit or get a business loan to help finance the extra inventory costs.”
“This is a great way to help with capital expenditures. I think it’s being strategic. Take a step back and look at ways to reevaluate all processes, while keeping an eye on the prize to stay vigilant in maintaining your business,” Sicard said.
Many of the issues that Sicard has heard from customers stem from rising fuel and food costs, as well as materials for construction and supply chain issues.
According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, nearly 90 percent of small business owners say inflation is their top challenge right now.
Chase is there to help entrepreneurs strengthen their companies.
“We help with resources so business can thrive and continue to add to the domestic global economy with our mentorship program. My job is to work one on one with business to help coach them through some of these challenges,” said Sicard.
For Ian Callender, the owner of Suite Nation, a full-service event and design agency in the District, inflation is not the main issue it’s staffing.
“Everybody in this area, actually all over the world, is impacted by staffing. In order to protect our bottom line, we had to change our business model a little bit,” Callender said, adding that instead of having his locations open at anytime, they are now only open for special and corporate events.
Callender said when business owners communicate, they can learn from each other during difficult times.
“When we deal with challenges, we sit and deal instead of communicating with people who may be going through the same thing to kind of learn and understand how they were able to navigate through. My challenges, and failures may be your successes. It doesn’t make sense if all of us fail in the same way,” Callender said. “If we see one failure, we should all work together to ensure that failure isn’t seen anywhere else in the network.”
Chase has played a role in helping Callender maintain and grow his business.
“Being a part of the mentorship program has been a blessing. We were able to understand some of the dynamics of business that I might not have homed in on,” he said, adding that the classes Chase offers increased his business savviness. “I do think there is a way to amplify some of those challenges that we have, whether it’s staffing, access to capital, funding or workforce development.”
Callender said he is optimistic about the future.
“I think the light at the end of the tunnel is to not overextend your capacity. Small steps help with big steps.”