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In this week’s small business focus, we’re talking to someone who was perfectly positioned to help small businesses when the shutdown happened. Regina Unegovsky is the founding attorney of Regal Tax & Law. They’re tax controversy specialists that help businesses out with issues like wage garnishments, bank levies, income tax penalties, and bankruptcy. Basically, if owning someone money is stressing out a client, Regina helps slay those dragons.

Regina closely followed what was happening with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in Washington, DC. The minute it was approved, she acted. Regina recognized that the provisions within the CARES Act would have a profound impact on her clients. She started reviewing older returns and getting client refunds right away. It helped get cash into the hands of her clients long before government relief loan funds had gone out.

As the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) portions of the CARES Act started to take effect, Regina was ready to help clients maintain their payroll and take on that cheaper debt.

Regina Unegovsky Regal Tax and Law small business successNow, she’s working with clients to figure out what’s next. Funds are running out for many small businesses. She’s helping them navigate the difficult decisions like bankruptcy or litigation against non-paying vendors. Regina is also finding them relief from tax debt and helping them renegotiate settlement programs.

Advice for Business Owners

Her best advice for business owners is that this may not be it. There could be a second wave of financial pressure and business owners need to think ahead. The deal to avoid rent now will eventually be due.

Regina thinks many people may consider bankruptcy and if they do, she says get a lot of opinions and get them now.

“Most professionals will give you half an hour or something to get their view. Use this. People are mostly happy to share a little bit of knowledge. Do this ahead of any problem so you have the resources,” said Regina. “You go to the dentist when you notice something wrong, you don’t wait for the root canal. Procrastination is not a strategy.”

As for Regal Tax and Law, Regina is looking towards the future. As a smaller firm, she is already operating lean and mean. She recognizes bigger firms may be laying off quality talent and she’s ready to expand if the right person comes along.

Regal Tax & Law is just one of the many small businesses in the Towne Advisory circle that quickly pivoted and prepared to help clients in the midst of a crisis. For more small business success stories, check out how SchillerLearning began offering options for parents forced into home school. Or how the Wine & Liquor Mart evolved their business to deal with COVID-19. There’s also Security & Cabling Solutions, which is offering safety options for businesses moving forward.

This week we’re highlighting business owner James Basurto, President of Security & Cabling Solutions, better known as SCS. For more than a decade, James’s company has served the Silicon Valley by putting the customer first. It is that customer care that has enabled SCS to be nimble during this latest crisis.

When the stay at home order was issued in March, James sent home his employees and immediately looked at his business model. He realized that clients were going to need new products if they were going to get back to work.

SCS started offering new services, including infrared temperature reading cameras. The move immediately paid off. The company received new construction clients looking to have temperature taking machines installed on construction sites (they kept operating as essential services).

Building off of that, James is investigating FLIR cameras that can take the temperature of retail patrons or employees. The extra security would allow companies to send people home if their temperatures spike.

James believes that many companies may also install check-in kiosks asking people about COVID-19 symptoms before they enter a building. He’s looking into how he can service customers that way.

James has worked in the industry long enough to remember what it was like after the 9/11 attack. There was an influx of business then. He expects to see another surge in industry demand following the COVID-19 shutdown.

James is also preparing for when retail establishments are allowed to reopen. He’s scheduling projects now so that his employees can jump back into work safely when the time is right.

If you missed any of our other small business features, check out Sift+Pour Bakery, Wine & Liquor Mart, Killroy Pest Control, and Professional Coach Amber Setter.

Real Life = Work Life + Mom Life

In this week’s small business success story, we highlight Executive Leadership Coach and sole proprietor Amber Setter. Amber is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) who works with executives and other professionals to help them navigate life transitions.

When the stay at home order was issued Amber’s mom-life and work-life collided. Like many parents, she was suddenly juggling work and family 24/7. She found that many of her clients were experiencing the same problems and her services were needed more than ever.

Amber says while her clients vary, she’s hearing a common refrain. “Our illusion of control is broken. People are being more self-reflective for a moment,” said Amber. She says clients are starting to prioritize and look at what they can and cannot live without.

As for Amber, she’s come up with a game plan for how she handles the stay at home order. Because things are changing so quickly, Amber reevaluates her business needs every week. She knows that being open to flexibility and anchoring back to goals is key to managing in the new normal. She makes every effort to work smarter, not harder.

Amber makes it a point to take care of herself. She sleeps a little more and sets aside time to make decisions during moments of stillness, away from outside influences.

Most of all, Amber hasn’t changed the overall game plan of her business just yet. She keeps her eyes on the horizon, while still being cognizant of the present.

To find out more about Amber, check out this article she wrote for CalCPA aimed at early career professionals.

For a look at some of the other small business professionals we know that are thriving during these difficult times, check out our features on Killroy Pest Control, Wine and Liquor Mart, and Sift+Pour Bakery.

During times like these, it’s always interesting to see what new and innovative ways small businesses are working to reach out to old and new customers alike. About a week ago, we highlighted the Sift+Pour Bakery in Dallas, Texas. This week, we want to take a look at a shop that’s a piece of the Towne Advisory extended family.

frank peggy tavarez wine liquor mart poughkeepsie new york small businessesThe Wine and Liquor Mart in Poughkeepsie, NY is a family business opened by Frank and Peggy Tavarez in 1999. When the novel coronavirus started closing down non-essential businesses, the couple had the opportunity to stay open as an essential business located between two hospitals. Competitors were remaining open and it might have made sense for Frank and Peggy to follow suit.

Instead, they chose the health of their employees and patrons. They shut their doors for the duration and pivoted their business. They invested in a new website, upgraded their inventory system, and added an online ordering system all in under 10 days. They used social media to highlight the business changes and it’s paid off, allowing The Wine and Liquor Mart to continue serving the community once again since the new site launched.

Frank and Peggy have proven that it’s possible to stay in business while still keeping employees and the community as healthy and safe as possible. Way to go Frank and Peggy!

If you know of a small business that’s found a new or innovative way to serve its customers, let me know.