EX21: Annual check-up: Running a small business should be easier
Good morning, and thank you again for joining us for EX21. I'm Karen Eng of CSMI. There's no denying the passion and enthusiasm across public and private sectors to support small businesses, and considering the increased democratization of digital tools, launching a small business seems to be an increasingly viable path for the world's entrepreneurs. While the pandemic increased economic pressures in many communities, industries and value chains, it is also put a spotlight on entrepreneurship as a powerful economic driver. Massive job loss has compared with record rates of entrepreneurship as innovators adapted or pivoted their business to address challenges and capitalize on quickly emerging opportunities.
Looking forward, leaders are drawing on such lessons to rethink traditional approaches to economic growth in favor of more innovative, inclusive systems. They are studying the support systems that help entrepreneurs - particularly those from underrepresented groups - start and scale new companies. Some are doubling down on policies and programs to encourage the growth of resilient, inclusive economies in which founders are key players. This panel will unpack the challenges that accompany starting and running a business and how governments and technology can lower the barrier to entry. There are thousands of companies and organizations that are deeply embedded in the operations of small businesses, but perhaps none more than the organizations we have joining us today for our panel. Welcome to Alexi Boyd, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, the leading small business advocacy organization exclusively representing the interests of small businesses in Australia.
Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President and Chief Strategic Officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which supports more than 95 thousand small businesses and advocates for small business with politicians and decision makers; and Candace Waterman, President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, a nonpartisan organization that educates and advocates on behalf of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Welcome. So let's get started. Let's start off - In some ways, COVID-19 has been devastating for small businesses. On the other hand, it has produced a record breaking number of new business formations around the world.
So let's dig into this data. Who are starting businesses, why and how are they faring? I'm going to ask Alexi to start us off. Yeah, look, it's really interesting. We've seen a real spike in the number of businesses starting up in the last few months, right in the middle of what is the longest lockdown in the world, apparently, it's being experienced in Melbourne at the moment - and we're just coming to the end of, I think we're up to 13 weeks of lockdown here in Sydney, which is really fun. So but what we're finding is the statistics show that there's an increased number of businesses being set up. Now on the one hand, you could say that's an economic indicator of growth and people have got, you know, real stability and a surety that it's a good time to start the business.
But on the other hand, when you dive down into the diagnostics, we can see that quite a number of those are in sectors of the community, of the small business community, where people have been losing jobs and there's been a pivot towards starting up their own business. Places like I see are the IT sector where businesses where people can actually earn a lot more money as contractors than they can as employees. So it really depends on the data and drilling down into that as to seeing where those businesses, which small business sector those businesses are being set up into, I think it's important to look at the granular level. It is an opportunity for entrepreneurship in some sectors. Definitely where there's there
is growth, but the number of sectors where we're experiencing growth at the moment here in Australia during lockdown are really minimal with compared to the overall devastation that's happening for the rest of small business. So I think it's important to look at the timing of when those businesses come out of the woodwork and it is an opportunity for entrepreneurship. But the the chances and the sectors which can really experience growth are so narrow and so small compared to the broader community that the focus is still very much on those small businesses as a whole who are experiencing such loss. Laura, can you give us your insight? Sure, I think Alexi did a good job of putting this in perspective, I think we have to balance, yes, there are new businesses starting and that's an amazing, it's amazing to see entrepreneurship even under the most difficult conditions and small business owners are often, they have that resilient, positive can-do attitude that you absolutely need at any time - the best of times - to start a business and now is not, as we know, the best of times.
But I think Alexi is also right. We have to look at the overall what's going on overall and unmet. Obviously, what's going on for small businesses is very worrying. We're estimating that we're going to lose one in five and we are going to be a smaller economy coming out of this than going into that. I think that's true for most countries in the world right now. And so it becomes really important to think about how to encourage entrepreneurship and support those that are still hanging on and trying to bridge over to back to recovery and for those new businesses that have started. But it's not unusual in an economic
downturn that people for various reasons would be more entrepreneurial, sometimes because you lose your job, other times - and I think this is particularly true in COVID - people are thinking about what do I really want to do? And there's a whole rethinking of life going on right now. And maybe if you always wanted to do this, you're saying, well, maybe now's the time. Thank you. I know that you have the data, but then there's also an emotional or psychological component to that, and let's let's close this off with Candice.
What are your thoughts? Well, I - thank you for asking the question - I agree both with Alexi and Laura and what was stated and really for U.S. space women-owned businesses I think it's also imperative to look, at again, the drivers, right, of the new business boom during COVID. You know, we know here in the U.S. that COVID affected women more than men, and therefore women started to open businesses out of necessity in a large capacity, right? Many of them lost their jobs due to lack of child care, which is really a big driver from a COVID perspective. They needed flexibilities, flexibility with their schedules to manage the household.
That means being a caregiver for those children or in many cases, being a caregiver to the husband or a partner who may have contracted COVID. Right. That's another reason. And the other is truly for some financial stability. And so I think women, of course,
are natural problem solvers. They saw this as an opportunity to open these new companies, and we're looking at everything from COVID protective equipment to HR functions like team building, managing a decentralized workforce, training on how to show up in a virtual environment which all of us have had to do. And also some of them even expanded their current business. So I really strongly believe those who started their business during COVID will be very successful because of their resiliency, and they had to start during a difficult time. And, you know, I think that they are
going to think differently. They're going to look at their online presence. They're going to look at e-commerce. They function in a virtual world to start with, and many of them are agile from a business model perspective. And at the end of the day, again, I think resiliency with all of them new or existing is the key. I like how you started this
whole thing about women are solution providers, right? We are. In addition to having an all female panel today right now, so. Hey, and I think we can all agree that supporting entrepreneurs is the key to getting our economies back on track.
Let's talk about barriers for entry for entrepreneurs in your country. I'm going to start with Laura, please. Yeah. Well, I think I think Candice just touched on some of them, some of the barriers. Certainly, there's a lot going on
for people emotionally, and that is difficult. We're in, we're in tough times. But aside from that, we also have labor shortages, are really biting hard in Canada. And so finding staff, finding people to help you start, is a big barrier.
Financing is always typically a barrier, and that's, we're hearing a lot about how tough that is and then being aware of all the various obligations that you have to do when you're running a business, that tends to bite you a little bit more, actually, as you're up and running, starting a business isn't the regulatory, the regulatory and red tape hassles of starting tend to not be as bad, but that is yet another thing you have to worry about. There's just an awful lot you have to think about when you're when you're first starting. Agreed. Agreed. Candace, let me know what you think on top of the barriers you already mentioned. For - absolutely for women, it's access to capital and access to markets, right? And that means access to capital is starting. Access to market is
sustainability. And so when you think about that, you also have to think that oftentimes it's access to a supportive resource of folks around you, right? Meaning helping to juggle at home and juggle children, right? The fear of losing health insurance during this time of starting a business can be a barrier, right? They perhaps are working somewhere to Laura's, you know, position earlier stating that people are really looking at what they want to do. You know, you're working at a position and now you still, you know, starting your job. So that could be a barrier.
And and then the ramp up time, right? And I think last is overthinking things right, lack of confidence, meaning suffering from, you know, analysis paralysis. You know, should I start now? How should I start? What should I start? Do I need to bootstrap? What does all of that mean? And these are all, I think, probably just the tip of the iceberg of barriers that we stated so far. So a little self-sabotaging in a way, right, as you're trying to make sure that you're doing everything properly. I love the points that you brought up.
And let's close it off, Alexi, why don't you give us your thoughts? Yeah, look 100% agree with the issue around venture capitalism, particularly for small businesses who are run by women. Some latest statistics here in Australia said only 8% of venture capital investment funding has gone to businesses owned by women in the startup space, which is really disappointing and obviously some work needs to be done there. But if we look at where we are currently, again, similar to what Laura said, we're experiencing real issues with labour shortages both in skilled and unskilled because of all the borders being shut. And of course, now we turn our mind to maybe some issues around supply chain.
So as well as the normal, I guess, hurdles you have and barriers to entry for small businesses, to be starting one right now is quite difficult because there's a lot of issues in the marketplace that wouldn't normally have been there because of COVID. And I also wanted to raise the importance here, where governments should be turning their minds to advocacy while the economies of small businesses grow around the world. What is it that you can do to support small businesses in this growth phase as they rebuild and re-engage with their workforce and get back up on their feet? And that doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of handouts or funding or money to deal with the huge debt problem that small businesses have, but more around the programs. What is it that governments can do at this point to help small businesses get to that growth phase faster than they normally would as we rebuild the economy? And that leads us to the next question, for sure. I know I see CFIB is focused on
working with the government to reduce some of these barriers for entrepreneurs and SMEs in Canada. You talk a lot about lack of access to capital and access to the markets. So Laura, can you tell us what you've learned from some of this work? Well, we're constantly monitoring the top priorities of small businesses through our regular interactions with them in our surveys and also on our helpline, we take about 40 thousand calls in a normal year. COVID, we had last year about 80 thousand. So we're in touch with businesses every single day and the list of worries in the COVID era is very long. So you know, everything from financing that we've already touched on, supply chain, labor shortages we've touched on, debt is a big deal for a lot of businesses right now.
Three quarters of businesses took on COVID related debt to manage through the pandemic in Canada, and the average of that debt is 170 thousand dollars. So of course, we're working with governments to deal with that. But to that, I'll just touch on briefly keeping costs manageable, just we're - our big message to governments right now is do not do anything to increase the costs of small, they just don't have the same financial cushion that they had, they're in debt, they can't afford additional, they're struggling to find labor. They're increasing their wages, sometimes to attract labor. So that's one big piece of it.
And the second big piece is is keeping regulations manageable. And I think this is where there's a huge opportunity for governments. It doesn't cost as much as reducing taxes, and you can give people back money and time by just simplifying the regulatory burden. And through the COVID era, what we've seen as governments can be more nimble.
They can get vaccines approved in a year instead of a decade. Municipalities can approve patios in twenty four to forty eight hours. Provincial or state governments can allow you to see your doctor online and accept electronics signatures. So how do we do more of that? And how do we put the user experience in the front of that? So that's and that's a benefit to all citizens - making it easier to interact with and deal with government and your compliance obligations. That's something that benefits all of us and something we're very focused on. Wonderful. So I'm going to direct the
question - the same question to our other panelists. So Alexi, tell me, what are you hearing from the SMEs in your country that are the biggest pain points when running their firms? But look, isn't it interesting what Laura was saying about how fast governments can move when necessity provides a cause? We're finding exactly the same thing that, oh, look at that you can do things faster than you normally would if given a little bit of a push or a nudge, or it's going to be economically beneficial to everybody out there. And and I think governments, maybe advocacy groups can learn from this experience that governments can move faster and then they could be nudged in a certain direction if the benefits are there. So I think it's important to note that that's part of the puzzle is that the hard work that advocacy groups do in at the federal level in a lot of cases really helps to manipulate small businesses experience on the ground level.
And I think that we've found that the ability for governments to change direction to move legislation in the right way has been really helpful. And never before has small business had such a voice because it's recognized as such an important part of the economy, the biggest employer, it'll be the biggest driver once we're up and running again. So I think it's a great opportunity right now to say, Hey guys, you managed to do this, this and this during COVID.
How about we keep going in that direction? We keep reducing red tape because I think that's one of the biggest barriers, obviously is finding yourself starting up a business and then hitting a brick wall because you've got to fill out another form or you've got to deal with a different government department or you have to, you know, make sure that you're compliant in a way that you hadn't really thought of before. And in one way, COVID has shown that to us as small businesses, we used to think that we only had to deal with Fair Work, which is our industrial relations or Safe Work, which is all about our safety in the workplace. But now there's about 15 other departments that small businesses have had to deal with, and we can't have that happen during a crisis and there are more crises to come. We need to make sure that you simplify and make it easier for small businesses to deal with governments so they can get on with running their businesses, So we don't want them to go backwards at all. So there's a lot of people that - now we are capable, capable of going quicker.
So Candace tell me, tell me what your your insight is on this. Well, I could not agree more with my two colleagues here and with Alexi and Laura. I mean, when you talk about the opportunity to really have policy transform, right, what's going on in the business environment, this is absolutely the time. You know, we're an organization that represents the 12.9 Million women-owned businesses in the country. And right now, as a result of the feedback and conversations that we've had with our women business owners, workforce is top of mind for what is the biggest pain point.
And we have an opportunity, you know, to talk through, you know, what are some of the policies that we can put in place from a workforce perspective? I mean, we have, you know, labor costs and such. But how are we implementing those costs? You know, how is it going to impact the small business? And then to Alexi's point, the regulations, you know, there's I think a delicate dance between having the regulations that we need to mitigate waste, fraud and abuse, but still provide a pathway for businesses to enter into the supply chains in the world. And speaking of that, we know our entire supply chain right now is at risk, right, because of the workforce. I mean, economists say that every day. So, you know, I have one person that told me she couldn't even grow her business right now because a lack of workforce, right? And I think that's a big opportunity for us to step back from a policy perspective and say, OK, what are the biggest pain points? How can we fix it, manage it, provide support? But then the other key is how can we do that and reduce the unintended impacts, right? So having programs for entrepreneurs, but perhaps decreasing the amount of paperwork, right, that's needed or decreasing the amount of, you know, agencies they have to deal with, as Alexi said. I think this environment has provided us lots of room for change, right? And it's made us - whether we want to admit it or not - comfortable with disruption.
That is a great way to end that question right there. So one of the biggest challenges - we're going to circle back to to finance - one of the biggest challenges before the pandemic and especially during it has been that unequal access to finance. I want to go through what you're seeing when it comes to persistent disparities in financial inclusion. Candace, why don't you lead us off with that? Oh, absolutely. You know, I really appreciate that candid question right in this candid conversation because I think in order to find a solution, we have to acknowledge that systematic racism occurs in many industries and especially from a financial perspective, right? People of color, women, have been affected at disproportionate rates.
I mean, it's only been two decades since a woman could actually obtain a loan without a male co-signer. Right? And if you're a person of color, you just don't have the same access to financing, right? And in many cases, you know, you don't even have the same terms and conditions on a loan. So we've got to acknowledge that that has occurred and then step back and say, how do we fix that, right? And so we know these kinds of injustices have affected both men and women. You know, they've had to bootstrap their businesses. They look at non-traditional ways of financing. And I see many of them suffer from what I call application anxiety, where they're even afraid to apply for the funds that are available because of fear of rejection or they've counted themselves out.
So that's here in the U.S. Let's talk about in Australia, same stuff just farther away? Just about! We have one of the most heavily regulated financial systems in the world. And in one way that's been, we've been benefactors of that during the GFC. We didn't feel it as heavily because we were so heavily regulated in that sector. But we've just been through a Royal Commission for financial services. And, you know, the banking sector has really been hauled over the coals as to how they lend money, and they had everything investigated right down to the nitty gritty detail. So they've been forced to really
examine the way that they borrow money and have a think about their code of conduct in the way that they implement that in their products and their interfacing with customers. The problem is it's in some ways had a bit of the opposite effect where banks, despite very low interest rates, have actually tightened the way that they, their lending criteria and have become more concerned about the way that they lend money. So we've got this sort of double-edged sword. On the one hand, we've had the entire sector investigated, but it hasn't had the effect that we've desired and it absolutely is something that we need to to examine. We here in Australia, have a banking code of conduct that's currently up for review and pleased to say that the small business groups are being consulted in that process. And what we're asking for is basically, rather than looking at the end customer who's taking that banking product or that loan, actually look at the loan itself and make that the product and put all of your emphasis into the product rather than who you're lending it to. That's completely
irrelevant. And so it's about that practical nature of lending. How how is the code of conduct being implemented? How can we improve the amount of investment going into small businesses and particularly those who are negatively affected by, you know, different backgrounds and such? So it's quite complex - finance is not, is not my forte, but it's definitely something that's continually being discussed in Australia, which is which is good, but it doesn't always end up, the realities of what's discussed doesn't always trickle down to have a beneficial effect for small business. But I think it's great that they are asking small businesses their thoughts on the process, or any kind of revision or improvements perhaps? Yeah, that's after many years of muscling into that territory to make sure that we were heard. Absolutely. That's, that's the role of advocates is to sort of get in there and make sure that the voice that you represent, which is literally millions, is part of the conversation. And I think that that's the
hard work that advocates like the fabulous women we have on the panel today are doing constantly is make sure that voice is heard, make sure it's clear it's backed up with data. It's the reality on the ground of what's happening and that regulators and legislators need to be aware of that constantly. Understood. Yeah. So Laura, up in Canada, probably similar issues as well or similar struggles. Sure, we have many of the same challenges, of course, and financing is always a concern for small businesses. And I just want to pick up on what you were saying a minute ago, Karen, and what Alexi was talking about making sure your voice is heard. And because I think there's an
interesting thing happening in the pandemic, we talked about this with respect to regulation a minute ago, but I think that governments have done a better job actually, at least in Canada, of listening to those voices, partly because they've had to be more nimble. They're not doing these long, protracted consultations. They actually are picking up the phone or having Zoom calls and saying, well, what - how is this affecting you? Will this design of this program work? And I've heard from many in government that they've actually, they see that as something that has improved during this - that that connection and that voice and that being heard. The second point I want to make, a
different point, is just where does this money come from if you can't get it from the bank, right? And so one option is you don't start at all, which obviously isn't a great option for the individual or for society. But the other option is, you know, it's more challenging because you look at credit cards and our data shows credit cards are a huge source of financing for business, and that's less than ideal. I think we all know why that's expensive. Friends and family dipping, into your retirement savings, you know, mortgaging through the pandemic, I know I talked to a lot of business owners who had to sell personal assets. My hairdresser sold his car to get through.
And so this is what happens when the banks aren't looking at your application. That's what it starts to look like for people. So do you think it might be advantageous if the banks and the government and the small businesses kind of collaborate? Because there's so many different aspects to the solution that a small business owner or an entrepreneur would need. I think there's a little crossover between government and and the banks, right, or the credit card companies or things like that. Do you, do you have any insight on public policy and how - I mean, we talked a little bit about that - but are there any other points that you would like to talk about with how the financial institutions can broaden inclusion? Karen, I can I can speak to that. I think that it's not just a very simple, single-touch Band-Aid approach, that there's going to be one product or one solution out there that's going to solve the problems for everyone. There's a lot of groundwork that
needs to go into this and thinking about what the solutions are for different sectors of the small business economy as they recover from COVID, for example. Or, long term, what does the banking sector and the financial sector need to do to make sure that they're being fair and equitable with their lending practices? And then similarly examining what's happening in the venture capital world and making sure that there's fair practices there to make sure everybody is treated equally. It's not a sort of a simple single brush stroke. It needs to be looked at long
term, and it is definitely a problem that small businesses face - and lending in general - but how you find that balance is quite tricky without tipping over the economy and having too many too much risk out there as well? So it's obviously a very large conversation, but it needs to be looked at in a multifaceted way through government support, as well as what the banking sector is doing, as well as what venture capitalists are doing to invest in the future and how small businesses are managing their own funds so, as Laura said, they don't end up dipping into their savings or selling off assets in order to stay afloat. I can totally appreciate what you're saying. Candice, do you have anything to add? Yeah, I was just going to say, I mean that Alexi summed it up perfectly around the sort of multi-layered issues, right? And I would add one more area or resource there: and that is those of us who are in the advocacy space, right, that we are working to help from an education perspective, right, around educating around the financial issues, around application completion, around helping to level the playing field so it's the same rules across the board. I know here in the U.S. we worked really, really hard in advocating for the Women in Minority Equity Act that was introduced in 2019, and then the world fell apart. But it would provide an opportunity for both women and minority companies to obtain financing from private equity firms and venture capital funds without losing their socioeconomic status. Because you have to think about that too, a lot of times when you get funds from non-traditional means, people want a portion of your company.
So then are you still fitting into the social and economic class where it has the programs to sort of fast track you through growth, right? And really thinking about that. And certainly, you know, as I said earlier, at the end of the day, it's also access to those contracts. So get the funding that lasts so that you can do what you need to do. But now that needs to grow. And so that means the pathway, you know, to sustainable and generational financial health is from access to capital - I mean, with access to contracts. Candace, you just raised a really good point we haven't even touched on which is procurement, Which is, of course, sure.
Yeah. And you know what, what is big business doing to be more fair and give more of opportunities to small businesses and particularly those who who need more support, where's the fairness in that? Where's the equity rather than jobs for the boys or or other big businesses benefiting from big business? And similarly with government? I mean, we're having a very big conversation at the moment here in Australia about payment times and making sure that small business doesn't just become a line on the balance sheet because you're withholding funds for them for up to two months. So I think that procurement is part of that conversation as well, making sure that the money gets down into the small business contractors and flows through your supply chain so you don't end up with financing needed in the middle of that supply chain to pay for invoices that should have been paid in the first place? Absolutely, which is why we advocate for for quick pay, right, so that our businesses can receive their money in a net-15 and that waiting on a net-120. Right? So I mean that, again, the cash flow is, I will say "queen" because I service women-owned businesses, right? Cash flow is queen! I know that I couldn't agree more on that quick payment piece. That's something that it sounds like we're all advocating for and it is a really good way then - whether it's governments on the procurement side with small business or big business dealing with small business - one very simple thing they can do right now without a big, long discussion or conversation. That should be a relatively
easy one. Absolutely excellent. So as a small business owner and a minority and a woman, I totally appreciate all your advocacy that you're all doing because I'm taking it very personally and I'm listening to everything you're saying. I have one final question to close out this panel, and I love that you guys are engaging with each other, so feel free to just have a dialogue and I'll just be the fly on the wall listening to you. So what is one thing you would ask policymakers and leaders who want to support entrepreneurship to implement? I'm not going first. Oh oh, I will.
I will go first because this is what I literally do every day. It is access, access, access to government contracting and leveling the playing field and also because we work on both sides of the aisle, right? No pun intended. From a political perspective and then from an industry perspective, meaning both public and private. So making certain that you have
access to contracts, access to the supply chain, you have development for the women business owners or business owners so that they can expand their capacity and fulfill. One of the questions that makes me probably the maddest is if I present a woman-owned or minority-owned company and the buyer says, 'Oh, are they qualified?' Instead of the first question being, 'what do they do?' So if I could do anything, it would be that. That's a that's a great point and I'll jump in too - I just, I'm going to try and actually sneak two in, but one is regulatory modernization. I think it's just so important and it sounds like this big, boring thing. And yet it affects the quality of people's lives. I mean, when you're struggling to
understand a form and you need a PhD in confusing language to get through that, and that means you're spending less time with your kids, you know that, that directly affects the quality of life. And we've got survey results now for Canada and the U.S., we're hoping to get Australia to Alexi, but 80% plus of small business owners are saying that this excessive burden of regulation - we're not talking about the critical stuff to keep you health and safety, that's not what we're talking about - but the red tape piece of this, 80% plus saying this is adding significant stress to their to their lives. And I think there's just a huge opportunity here that's a win-win for for everybody. And, and that stress piece of it. I mean, what I hear on our helplines and from the folks across Canada who are talking to business owners every day is the mental health impact of this on business owners themselves and on their staff? Like that stress is difficult at the best of times. We are not in the best of times.
So I think that regulatory modernization piece so that we can reduce stress and give people back some of their time. Respecting people's time is underrated, and I think that would be the message I would leave. Let's get let's get back to respecting people's time. Ok. That was one, right? Try to stick it in. Thank you. And Alexi.
I'm going to cheat and use an overarching term, which I just thought would be: just move faster move. You've shown us that, that you can pivot like small businesses can and make quick decisions when necessary, but also move faster to continue to learn and connect with small businesses to really understand. We all know that, you know, a large proportion of politicians have had their own businesses, but a lot of them are disconnected from what it means to be a small business owner. So just continue to connect and understand and learn from your constituents about what that means and the impact that what you do has on them. Move faster to cut red tape and and make it easier for small businesses to move faster themselves.
And also, I guess, move faster to digitize, because that is the key to reducing that red tape and making it a simpler journey for small businesses and having everything in one place where small businesses can go to without this, this need to be, you know, running all over the place to try and find the information. So I think probably just learn from what COVID has done when it comes to small business regulation and move faster to get those things happening so that small businesses can get on with with doing what they do best, which is running their business. Wonderful. So some of these lessons are providing the opportunities and the seat at the table, understanding the importance of the person that is the entrepreneur, and then, of course, Alexi, move faster, right? So. Excellent lessons.
Excellent one pointers to take away that are very tactical and very doable. So I can appreciate all of that advice that you have given. So there you have it, lessons we can all draw upon to reduce barriers and support the future of small business. I want to thank each of our
panelists, Alexi, Laura and Candace for joining us today. You guys are amazing and I appreciate all of this advocacy you do on behalf of entrepreneurs. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Thank you. I'd now like to turn it over to our final spotlight.