September ’23 – From the Publisher

Climbing the Obed

As a small business owner, my company, like most others, was adversely affected by the pandemic. Anything to help survive was welcome. And, like almost every other business, I heard about the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) program, but the endless solicitations I received made it feel like a scam. And the accountants I spoke with were hesitant to express an opinion. So much like the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that ran out of funding with thousands of approved loans in the pipeline, I just didn’t pay any serious attention to the program. That was until someone referred me to Don Lawson. 

I called on Don in hopes of learning how the ERC program really worked. His explanation checked out, and I gave it a shot. The process was painless, and Don got us approved for the credit. I started wondering if all of my business colleges had applied and to my surprise only about 10 percent were even aware of the opportunity. When I would tell them about my experience with Don, they all wanted an introduction. The more people I introduced him to, the more I learned about his story, and the more impressed I became. Don brings a level of expertise that will potentially bring millions of dollars into the hands of local business owners. In doing so he helps ensure positive growth in our business community. As much as I would like to have the time to call everyone I know to make sure they are taking advantage of this, that’s just not realistic. Instead, I wrote an article in this issue to explain how Don’s company, Smart Business Accounting, can help if you had a business that kept employees working during the pandemic. 

Around the same time I met Don, a corporate consolidation prompted me to look for a new company to help me with my back office administrative workload. My friend Brooke Allen introduced me to Wes Brown, the national sales director for Lyons HR. As I was showing him a preview of the upcoming March cover with Dr. Edwin Spencer sitting on the riverbank with his fly rod, he told me that he had hunted with Edwin; in fact, Wes took him turkey hunting for the first time. Doesn’t take much for me to go down the conversational rabbit hole of hunting and fishing and the more we talked the more I realized we were kindred spirits. 

Wes took the time to educate me on all of the services a certified professional employment organization (PEO) offers, and frankly, I was amazed. This would be a game changer for my company. This would allow the company to grow in new and different ways, where I could offer more to my employees. 

I started asking my peers if they were aware of the financial and time savings and again to my amazement, most were totally unaware that they could offer health insurance with large group rates and could see big savings in their workers compensation insurance premiums. 

A healthy thriving business community is essential for the proper growth of our area, and it is my opinion that these two companies are really working to help the business community prosper. 

East Tennessee is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. With that comes good and bad, hopefully most of the growth, although challenging, will be good for us. This kind of growth offers big opportunities in the business arena. 

Opportunity, however, does come with a price. I don’t think that anyone who opens a small business realizes just how much administrative time and effort will be required to run their new company. I believe they go into business a little bit naive when it comes to that aspect of self-employment. Certainly, that was true for me. And though I have gotten much better at the process, the fact remains that it takes a lot of time. When I see an opportunity to reduce my admin workload I jump at the chance. 

Self-employment requires constant learning and good coaching. Take the time to seek out some help to make your business life more enjoyable. Who knows, with some extra money and more time maybe we can take a day off and go fishing. See you on the water.

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