As with any crisis like COVID-19, there is bound to be confusion, panic, stress and, unfortunately, misinformation. We are here for you. Things are changing by the day if not by the hour. Small businesses are being shuttered by state and local governments to prevent the spread of the virus. While this is certainly the right thing to do to “flatten the curve”, we have been asking ourselves the question, who and where will these folks turn to get relief?
We can’t speak for state and local economic programs and relief, FEMA relief or the IRS tax relief that has been mentioned. These must be investigated by the small business owner themselves. But we can speak to what the SBA is doing at this point, keeping in mind we must stay informed and flexible – as the state of our current situation is changing daily.
THE FOLLOWING IS WHAT WE KNOW TODAY:
- The SBA has set up a Disaster Relief program.
- A State must apply for Disaster Status with the federal government
- Once that status is granted, then small businesses can apply for the assistance
- To determine whether your county within your state is an official disaster, check here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index
- To apply online, visit this link: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
- This is Direct Assistance from the SBA; the banks are not involved but here to provide guidance, point you in the right direction and/or help you gather the necessary information (financials, etc.).
- Congress is proposing a stimulus package which will include enhancements to the SBA lending program which will hopefully incentivise banks to provide access to capital during this crisis so that our small businesses can survive and then thrive once again.
- In the meantime, I suggest the following:
- Check with your utility company to see what kind of relief programs they are offering
- Check with your vendors and suppliers and work with them to ease cash flow. I realize they are suffering too, but a SYSCO will have a better chance surviving than Joe’s Bar & Grill.
- If you have an existing SBA loan, ask for a deferment! Most lenders should be able to provide a three-month deferment to help ease cash flow requirements during this crisis.
- If you have conventional/non-SBA debt, approach your bank about relief in the form of Interest Only payments or payment moratoriums based on your specific situation.
- Speak with your landlord and review your lease with counsel for clauses such as force majeure that may give you rent abatement if you are closed for actions beyond your control.
We must come together as a community to rise above panic, stress and confusion. We need to stay as calm as possible and let the mechanisms of our great democracy kick into gear.
It will happen and hopefully soon. Together we can “flatten the curve” and then get back to business! 44 Business Capital is fully operational and open for business. Our staff is working remotely and safely and are available for your questions and concerns.
Be Kind. Be Calm. Be Smart. Be Well.
We will get through this together.
Greg Poehlmann, senior vice president