How is your business directly impacted as an entrepreneur? What steps are you taking to prepare for the immediate and long-term future of your business?
The federal government has extended unemployment benefits to include self-employed individuals, however it is unlikely, if you have staff, assets, liabilities, etc. that such a safety net will allow your business to continue to operate. Most small businesses, especially businesses that are following a moderate or moderately aggressive growth path (I don’t support full on aggressive growth, it’s too risky in my opinion), the revenue required to drive such ventures is tremendous. That being said, there are some business specific opportunities available, specific options include the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), or the SBA Express Bridge Loan. Additionally, if you already have a pre-existing relationship with the SBA, you may also qualify for the SBA Debt Relief Program.
While these programs seem to capture the essence of the urgency many small businesses and entrepreneurs are currently facing due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, thus far it has fallen far short of meeting the timeline needs of small business. Many of us, depending on your businesses’ geographic location are almost a month into this revenue-halting crisis. Deferring the payment of liabilities where possible, we are still forced to deal with issues such as unemployment, ensuring paychecks and livelihood for our employees, balancing the obvious need for revenue with a desire and need to operate safely, all the while trying to navigate, understand, and utilize the ever-changing timelines, directives, and policies of our elected leaders. To be frank, the situation sucks.
The daily struggle to keep your business afloat and viable for the future adds tremendous strain to mental health. The balancing act of not letting your hard work and your dream simply toil away into nothingness while also not putting your family, friends, and employees at risk is overwhelming. This situation creates a warlike scenario for many entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. Just as the fog of war affects the mind, the lack of answers and support can make decision making exhausting. The current economic and societal environment presents no clear options and no clear path forward. As the business owner, you have to pick a decision, work within the confines of potential consequences and re-evaluate that decision each morning. Whatever your decision is that day, do not give up. Find ways to keep moving forward, creating enough revenue to survive another day. Do this everyday until the storm passes. As risk mitigators by nature, and historically driven individuals, do not let the uncertainty wear down your will. You have been successful up to this point, and you can continue to be successful as we slowly gain a sense of normalcy and norms. You have to fight.
While the government assistance option does not look too promising at this point, don’t ignore it. Apply for every opportunity that applies to you. The EIDL program is currently offering a $10,000 advance (potentially forgivable too). Originally available within 3 days of processing your loan request, new guidelines are suggesting 7 to 10 days. This likely might not be true either, but if you do not apply, you will not receive it. The longer you can hold out, keep your company operating, paying your bills, maybe it will show up in just the nick of time. The PPP is also available, just as the EIDL, the PPP is vague and not properly prepared, however any relief would help at this point. Find a bank accepting the treasury provided application, and submit your package. It may never come to fruition, but again, maybe it will. It’s worth the time it takes.
For the long term, start dreaming. As this situation subsides, and people return to normal(ish) routines, there is going to be tremendous opportunity for those people and firms that can find their way through this. Make no mistake, there is going to be loss of competition. The firms that survive will be efficient and well-prepared. Start thinking about where you want to take your business next. How do you want it to look in 2021. Write down some goals. Now is a great time to start working on them. There are some equipment deals to be had. Software and applications have some good sales and promotions going on. Do the math and make educated guesses. If you are confident in your assumptions there will be some huge payoffs available as we come out of this pandemic.