Try Focusing on Work! Wait – What??!

Congratulations to all of us who are living through history. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Are you having as difficult of a time focusing on work as I am? I mean, sure…this novel coronavirus comes along, and we learn all about PPE, symptoms, how much our neighbors love toilet paper; we try to buy masks (sold out) and a thermometer (sold out) and we watch how many videos about how to wash our hands. OK, we’ve got this. It’s a once in a century event. We’ll be careful, but we’ve got this. We miss hugging people, but we’ve got this. 1 in 4 of us are unemployed, but we’ve got this.

During this turbulent time, the President announces that voting by mail is fraudulent, issues an executive order to regulate social media companies, suggests that a former congressman is likely a murderer, and fires five inspectors general. So, you know, super reassuring.

Amidst the fear and grief are nonstop pictures of kindness and beauty. Americans buy groceries for their elderly neighbors. People offer health care workers support in a million little ways and honor them like never before. Everyone learns how to sew masks to donate. Teachers organize caravans of honks and waves to tell their students how much they miss them.

As if we had bandwidth for more, George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer is recorded and shared with the world. We all witness the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of a man pleading that he couldn’t breathe and finally, calling for his mama as he died. It stuns us and makes us feel shamed, angry, hopeless.

Again, amidst our darkest moment of grief and anger, some protests start. In Minneapolis, in a few nearby states, wait, wow, quite a few states, wait, EVERY STATE in the country, wait, the entire world? We all came together and got to experience one of the most beautiful moments in history. More importantly, We The People collectively bear witness and we listen and we learn. We The People get just a little closer to our humanity, just a tiny bit closer to the best of us.

I feel like I have whiplash, THESE WERE OUR LAST 90 DAYS! We’ve lived through terrible luck, terrible incompetence, terrible tragedy. And then, followed immediately by nonstop reminders of how good we can be and our amazing capacity to take care of each other. It happens with everything, by the way. It feels big right now because these events are indeed BIG. But even little bad things are always followed by a good thing. Start paying attention - you will notice.

So anyway, what was I talking about? Oh right. Are you also having a tough time focusing on work?
Thank you to all our customers and our Friends of the Firm. I’m so glad we are going through these times with you. As always, please contact us if we can be of any assistance.

CEO, Fine Point Consulting


PPP Loan Forgiveness Depends on Accurate Reporting and Recordkeeping

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a provision of the CARES Act, offers forgivable low-interest loans to small businesses (under 500 employees) facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty brought on by the crisis. The SBA manages the program, which is intended to assist companies with retaining their employees, maintaining payroll, and covering other (specified) existing overhead costs.

One of the biggest concerns businesses have about the loan is whether it will be forgiven or not. There are a few basic stipulations for the PPP loan to qualify for forgiveness. At least 75% of the loaned amount must be demonstrably used for payroll. Also, if the same level of employees are kept on the payroll for the eight week period, and the remaining (up to 25%) is spent on rent, mortgage interest, or utilities, the SBA will forgive the loan.

During the application process, lenders and the SBA require documentation regarding the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) employees using a set historical period. If there was turnover, or additional employees were working during this time frame, the FTE might be different than the number of actual people on the payroll during the “Loan Disbursement Period”.

When doing the math, an employee at 40 hours per week equals one FTE. It is important to note that overtime does not apply to the calculation. Part-time employees' time is calculated by adding together their average weekly hours worked to equal one FTE.

The amount of PPP loan to be forgiven is based on how much of the loan is used for covered expenses. The number of FTE during the look-back measurement period and the number during the Loan Disbursement Period are used to determine the Forgiveness Reduction Factor. For example, if the business maintains the same level of employees, and the other requirements are met, the entire loan could be forgiven. However, if the number of employees during the Loan Disbursement Period is less than the look-back period, or if salaries have been reduced by 25% or more, the Forgiveness Reduction Factor will be affected.

The Forgiveness Reduction Factor is used to establish the amount of the PPP loan eligible for forgiveness, and a baseline would be refigured for the payroll portion (75%) of the loan.

If employees are laid off at the beginning of the period and rehired, or if wages are decreased at the beginning of the period and then restored, there will not be a penalty when calculating the Forgiveness Reduction Factor.

Another consideration is employees who were laid off or put on leave, who may decide to not return to work. If an offer of reemployment is rejected, that employee can be excluded when calculating forgiveness.

This process can be mind-boggling! Do you have questions about the Paycheck Protection Program? Fine Point Consulting is here to help you navigate the application requirements so you can be eligible for maximum loan forgiveness.

PPP Loan Forgiveness Tips

If you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you should do everything you can within the SBA guidelines to maximize your loan forgiveness. For the best advice and results for your specific situation, work with your accountant or tax professional to apply for loan forgiveness. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you get ready:

  • Judiciously track all eligible expenses incurred and paid during the 8-week period following the loan funding, including payroll, healthcare benefits, retirement plan benefits, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.
  • Make sure your payroll expenses are at least 75% of the PPP loan amount.
  • Consider aligning the beginning of 8-week “covered period” with the beginning of a pay period, rather than the actual date loan proceeds were received.
  • If you were (or still are) closed you may want to begin the 8-week “covered period” when operations resume, rather than the date loan proceeds were received.
  • If you had a reduction in payroll expenses, you want to calculate the reduction based on the average payroll per employee per week rather than the total compensation per employee in an 8-week period versus the prior quarter.

Wellbe

“I love working with Fine Point Consulting, they are always helpful and responsive. They do the heavy lifting to find out how to make it right. They saved us a lot of money.”

Fine Point Consulting has a well-established working relationship with Wellbe, a healthcare technology company. They currently oversee Wellbe’s cash management and forecasting. To improve their cash position, Fine Point performed a variety of analyses on cuts in current spending, provided proposed payment plan options, and conducted several what-if scenarios.


Parallels of Two Pandemics: What An MIT Study Learned About the Economic Effects

When the Spanish flu was first reported in March 1918, it was quickly realized that it had all the traits of a highly contagious and virulent strain of the seasonal flu. One of the first registered cases was a US Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas, and he required hospitalization due to a staggering fever of 104 degrees! Spanish flu spread quickly through the troops at the base - by the end of the month, 1,100 soldiers were hospitalized, and 38 had died after developing pneumonia (a known complication of influenza).

Following the news during COVID-19, we have all seen that pandemics not only affect the health of our bodies, but that of our global economy as well. You can take heart though, because there is light at the end of a pandemic’s dark tunnel.

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Emil Verner led a study recently of the economic effects of the Spanish Flu pandemic. He found that when states are proactive about implementing Non-Pharmaceutical Protocols (NPIs), they experienced an increase in economic activity after the pandemic.

Verner and his colleagues studied the speed of implementation and duration of NPIs deployed during the 1918 pandemic (which resemble many of today’s NPIs). These included closures (schools, theaters, and churches), public gathering bans, and restricted business hours. The researchers found that those communities who intervened more forwardly performed better economically the year following the pandemic.

Even without a lockdown, severe epidemics cause economic disruption through absences from work, unfortunate deaths, and individuals adopting voluntary social distancing measures. The study concluded that since NPIs reduced the duration and severity of the epidemic, it is entirely probable that the NPIs also decreased the death count, and minimized the impact on the global economy.


Has Your HR Caught Up with the ‘New Normal’? Are You in Compliance?

By Janel Day, HR Practice Leader

How has your workplace culture been affected by COVID-19? Do you have policies and procedures in place to adapt to the modified workplace and comply with the new laws and regulations? If you do, how confident are you that your new policies will work, and for that matter, that they are definitely in compliance? The changes leading to our current environment may require you to adjust your employee handbook often to keep open communication with your staff, and set rules or procedures for the “new normal”.

Your employees are probably apprehensive or nervous about going back to work - after all, a lot has changed since the last time everyone worked from the office. Employees are worried about getting sick, they are concerned about their job security, and they are understandably nervous about the well-being of family and friends. As a business owner, you need to make sure the workplace environment is not only safe, but also reassuring to them that you genuinely care about their overall wellness as it relates to their health, economic security, and the health of their loved ones. Clear and easy to follow office policies can help you achieve that. It is important to keep your employee handbook updated with changes that reflect the workplace culture created by COVID-19, so employees have clarity on issues such as remote work policies, safety practices at the workplace, and hygiene standards. We can help you put the right policies together, as well as guide you through implementation and necessary updates.

Verner and his colleagues studied the speed of implementation and duration of NPIs deployed during the 1918 pandemic (which resemble many of today’s NPIs). These included closures (schools, theaters, and churches), public gathering bans, and restricted business hours. The researchers found that those communities who intervened more forwardly performed better economically the year following the pandemic.

Even without a lockdown, severe epidemics cause economic disruption through absences from work, unfortunate deaths, and individuals adopting voluntary social distancing measures. The study concluded that since NPIs reduced the duration and severity of the epidemic, it is entirely probable that the NPIs also decreased the death count, and minimized the impact on the global economy.


Featured Company: Birdwell Solutions

Guest column by Sam Brown, Partnership Coordinator at Birdwell Solutions (www.birdwellsolutions.com)

Birdwell Solutions empowers expression with software through our skilled team members. Whom do we mean by “empowers expression”? Startups and small businesses with new products appreciate our services the most, because creativity thrives among these communities - and that is exactly what we look for in a client. Whether you are looking for a highly-complex native application or simple updates to your website, we are ready to help.

Our clients are often not only using their creativity for their profit, but for the betterment of society. Organizations like Feed the Change, Save the Buzz, and Happy Wellness are all  trying to benefit their communities with a service they know can make an impact. It’s important to note that our clients don’t have to be dedicated to such beneficial goals, but so often it happens that they are (which seems to show more about the community than anything, we think).

In early 2019, Robinson Cook and Ben Pekala founded Birdwell Solutions to help their artist friends by creating a place to showcase their art online. There has been a lot of learning since those early days. Our first app project in the following summer brought Jason Carrington to the team, and we kept growing from there. Since then, we have undertaken many more projects, and evolved into the 8-person powerhouse we are today.

Robinson, a software architect, leads our clients through the ever-changing landscape of technology by staying up to date with cutting-edge software. We build from scratch using ReactJS or React Native, depending on what type of software best serves the client (apps, web apps, mobile apps). On top of building new software, we can make updates and changes to software built in any language or framework.

We foster collaboration at every corner of our process. New ideas continually evolve, and our flexible development allows your software to do the same. We prioritize the delivery of stable, testable iterations, and encourage brainstorming at each of our recurring meetings. This drives forward the mission of the project and uncovers hidden insights to add efficiencies. Tied heavily with our love for collaboration is our desire for inclusivity. These brainstorming sessions give everyone a chance to voice their opinions and ideas freely.

Inclusivity also keeps the Birdwell team strong. By maintaining diverse perspectives and mindsets, our team drives innovation through intrinsic motivation and teamwork, rather than hierarchical leadership. We do not limit our empowerment to clients. Our training is done in an apprenticeship style, to focus on experienced-based learning. This allows creativity to flourish within our teams, and we see new ideas and projects pop up frequently. One day, we hope to be able to offer fully paid training to anyone with the desire to learn, regardless of their existing skill sets and educational background.


Fine Point Consulting is a boutique consulting firm offering expert-level professional accounting & human resources services customized to meet your budget. We help entrepreneurs who are trying to scale fast get more done and stay lean.

Call us today for your free consultation at 877-535-1183 or use the button below

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