As an entrepreneur, the use of legislation and integration of public-private small businesses and banks is confounding. Why are we creating unnecessary intermediaries and middle-men, slowing down the national response to this crisis? Neither the small businesses asked to provide weeks of unplanned, paid leave to team members, nor the banks asked to facilitate programs such as the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) are prepared, or capable of handling these demands as instructed. Outside of not being prepared or capable, by the time small businesses and banks are organized and/or able to execute the directives, many firms will have perished and many people will have already been forced into unwanted unemployment.
The logic behind these designs escape me. For the few of us small business owners that are fortunate to be a position to absorb and comply with the directives for paid leave and still continue to push forward toward greener pastures, it will ultimately be good for competition, however it would not appear good for the overall economy, likely annihilating economic strength and potential growth for an extended period of time. Outside of paid leave, the elected body seems to have failed to realize the time necessary for banks, small community banks especially, to vet and fully understand the terms, conditions, and stipulations of the Payroll Protection Program within the larger CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) act. Having spoken to one large bank and one small bank today, both are anticipating approximately thirty days of due diligence to fully understand the PPP before being ready to provide any funds to customers.
Depending on your region many businesses in the Northeast have already experienced approximately two-weeks of little to no revenue, now preparing to provide and fund paychecks for the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), mandatory two-weeks of paid leave for individuals under quarantine (New York & New Jersey have statewide mandated closures). While the Department of Labor (DOL) has stated it will not enforce action on employers prior to April 17th, 2020, this date proves basically irrelevant as it appears the financial situation will only continue to become more dire as time passes. While the PPP appeared to offer a momentary glimpse of hope through this pandemic, it has quickly been dashed as entrepreneurs and small business owners realize the bill was created in haste, with little to no consultation or pre-distributed information provided to lending institutions. As of a quick Google search, the only financial institution to offer any useful information was US Bank. Currently US Bank is accepting basic contact information with a promise to be in touch as information and details are finalized.
As for the US Small Business Administration (SBA), Covid-19 disaster relief loan, the process has been streamlined significantly over the past week. Having completed an application approximately a week ago, and then again later today, after tirelessly trying to log in to check the application of the first submission, the process is at least 10x easier with information primarily found on your entity’s profit and loss statement. However, having waited over one week thus far, with no response, it would also appear the SBA is either ill-prepared, ramping up, or simply does not fully grasp the urgency of this dire financial forecast.
Entrepreneurs and business owners are encouraged to look for every plausible avenue possible to move forward. It is likely that many of us will end up in the fight for our lives as we attempt to keep our firms afloat and navigate an uncertain timeline of when the country may return to normal and what the economic landscape may look like when that does happen. Use the same skills and tenacity that brought you into business for yourself. Pull out all the stops, use any leverage you may have, and plead your case to any viable investor or lender that will listen. Don’t be discouraged by the many NOs you may receive. Remember you have been successful this far and you will continue to be successful, but you have to fight.