David Malcolm, San Diego Entrepreneur, Discusses Small Business Recovery Needs
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Despite major corporations dominating the media, such as tech giants Amazon, Facebook, and Google, small businesses remain the backbone of America. Though, after a year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's undeniable that small business owners are navigating a difficult and drastically changed landscape.

Among the many entrepreneurs in the U.S. who have weathered financial crises and led their companies safely through the storm is David Malcolm, a San Diego businessman with a knack for leadership, creative problem-solving, and an eye for long-term financial health. Malcolm is President of Cal West Apartments Inc. and was named to the National Small Business Association (NSBA) Leadership Council earlier this year. NSBA operates on a staunchly nonpartisan basis and is the oldest small-business advocacy organization in the nation.

"As a small-business owner and member of NSBA's Leadership Council, I feel an obligation to vocalize the struggles and needs of small businesses, especially regarding laws and regulations, to the people in Congress," stated Malcolm.

Visit any downtown, business center, restaurant, or employment website, and it's evident that small businesses across the nation face a hiring crisis. Those that are especially suffering are in the service industry. The tug and pull small business owners are facing revolves around attracting, developing, and retaining talent without compromising financial health.

"There is no 'fairy dust' to solve the issues surrounding employment," said Malcolm. "All businesses will continue to struggle with this issue until the government steps in and helps."

The coronavirus pandemic closed the doors of an unprecedented number of small businesses - 200,000 more businesses than the annual average. The shift to working remotely for social distancing purposes demolished the traditional business models of brick-and-mortar restaurants, gyms, hotels, travel organizations, and retail companies focused on selling a plethora of consumer products.

David Malcolm states that the financial health of small businesses will continue to be at risk if proper steps are not taken to address specific issues with the specific interest of small businesses in mind.

"First, we need our children back in school so moms and dads can go back to work. Our elected officials need to demand that schools open and stay open with sufficient support and funds to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment.

"Second, our elected officials need to stop paying workers large sums of money to 'not work.'

"Third, employers need to ensure a safe working environment for their employees," said Malcolm.

Safe office space is a controversial topic that plays a part in the hiring crisis as vaccination rates in the United States along with concern over the Delta variant both increase. More and more people are getting vaccinated, but the surge of new and repeating COVID cases continues, casting a cloud over business operations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the number of new COVID cases averaged around 150,000 in the United States by the end of August, a drastic increase compared to 14,000 a day in July. Pfizer confirmed that recent data from the U.S. and Israel showed a modest dip in their vaccine's protection from COVID-19; however, the vaccine still provides significant protection from severe illness and hospitalization. While most COVID-era unemployment programs established by the CARES Act have expired as of early September, indicating the U.S. economy is stabilizing, small business owners are still scrambling to adapt to the times while ensuring business needs are being met without sacrificing the well-being of employees.

"We all need to understand that vaccinated people can get COVID. This means a safe environment is needed with or without vaccination. It is our experience that productivity, creativity, and greater success occur through in-person interactions in the work environment. This can be done in a science-based, safe environment," said Malcolm.

At Cal West Apartments, Malcolm has embraced taking steps towards a safe work environment by installing air filtration systems and personal behavioral protocols. Providing his employees with peace of mind on safety issues allows greater productivity and enjoyment while working at Cal West Apartments.

In addition to utilizing new tools to ensure employee safety and well-being as an organization's top priority, there are other ways business owners can move forward in these challenging times. Small businesses can offer flexible employee policies to better cater to the needs and happiness of employees. When in competition with generous unemployment payments, small businesses have to think about what will captivate workers and make them want to stay. Attractive employee benefits can include: granting employees the option to work remotely as needed, rethinking and upgrading paid time off, supporting those with multiple responsibilities or other necessary job roles through flexible work hours, and constantly clearly communicating any changes promptly.  

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) states that one of the most critical elements of business recovery is advance planning. Business owners can better prepare for unpredicted future devastations by writing a business continuity plan. Embracing outside help, such as assistance with writing a business continuity plan at ready.gov, is a part of being flexible and adaptable to whatever is affecting usual business.

The SBA has also enhanced the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to aid small businesses hurting from the delta variant. Now, the escalated borrowing limit is $2 million, and the program provides 24 months of deferment, as well as grants to pay down higher-interest business debt. The SBA is readily receiving new applications as soon as possible from small businesses seeking to utilize the recent alterations to the EIDL program.

Though there will always be entrepreneurs and business owners who can adapt with the times, creating new businesses to meet contemporary norms and needs or keeping the same company afloat over the years, the government can still make changes to better support and strengthen the health of small business in America.

"Washington continues to put 'roadblocks' for the small business owner," said Malcolm. "I wish Washington had the following rule: for every new law or regulation, congress must remove an existing law or regulation. Just look at the regulations, disclosures, document requests, etc., to get a home loan. With today's technology, a small business loan or a home loan should be easy, but regulations have made it harder than ever. The small business owner needs to demand that their congressman get government 'off their back' and let them grow and create opportunities for the community."

About David Malcolm

David Malcolm of San Diego is an influential real estate professional, entrepreneur, and community leader with over four decades of work experience. Mr. Malcolm is an esteemed graduate of Harvard Business School's Presidents Program, a licensed real estate agent and broker, and a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). He has run and advised multiple public and private companies and held several municipal and statewide public offices.

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