According to a Forbes Financial Council post from October 25, 2018, more than 80% of small businesses thrive the first year. However, each year after that is a struggle to continue to grow and prosper. The COVID-19 crisis is making it even harder to stay afloat. Many entrepreneurs and small businesses are facing collapse with no plan towards recovery. The first thing you should do is establish a survival plan.
Capital Shortages During COVID-19
Review your list of ready capital and outstanding collections. Offer discounts or new billing cycles to customers to create a cash stream. Consider rearranging your debt load and contact your banking representative for advice. Small Business Association‘s website has information and applications for grants and low-interest loans. These programs are supported by most local, state, and federal Governments.
Submit an application for financial assistance through the Federal Coronavirus Relief Law or the CARES Act. Tax credits are available for companies if their business was affected by the Coronavirus restraints. If your business has completely shut down or seen a 50% loss in revenue, you can be eligible for a 50% tax credit on wages paid between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
Many banking institutions have their network of financial options in place to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 epidemic. Consider refinancing existing loans, ask about lower interest rates on existing loans, and discuss increasing current credit limits to protect your business. Most banks and credit unions are eliminating late payment charges and offering loan deferrals.
Ask the loan officer about forbearance programs and hardship assistance to get you over the hump. There are even payroll protection loans available for small businesses and freelancers including the Payment Protection Program (PPP). If they are used to retain employees or hire new staff, a portion of the loan can be forgiven. The loan is a federal program that is streamlined to be as quick and easy as possible. You can get the results in as little as one day.
Local SBA and Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) representatives are on hand to offer support and loan information during these trying times. Ask them about microloans, 7a Programs, and 504 Loans to keep your business afloat. They understand what you are going through and they have access to information that you may not realize exists. Do not forget to check with minority organizations for women-owned businesses and HUB Zone loans as well as 8a Business Loans.
Establish Financial and Protective Measures for Your Workforce During and After the Epidemic
Keep your staff informed about any changes regarding company policy throughout the epidemic. Many critical employees are working full-time schedules and necessary or exempt workforces have reduced their hours. Make sure to have a sufficient supply of personal protection gear (PPG) or offer a partial or full reimbursement program for employees who purchase their own. Ask for recommendations to make their job easier and help reduce the stress of the new environment.
Encourage employees to work from home if possible. Offer incentives such as company reimbursement for Internet Services, or supply them with laptops and cell phones. If this is not possible, rearrange the workspace to accommodate social distancing recommendations and shift break schedules to reduce crowding in break rooms and cafeterias. Provide sufficient access to cleaners, cleansers, and sanitation equipment in high traffic areas and at desks. Try to reduce the sharing of keyboards and electronic accessories.
If your business has temporarily closed its doors or had a significant workload reduction, discuss alternating on-site staff or temporary layoffs to save money. Most states have extended their unemployment benefits. There are also city, state, and federally funded programs enacted to help small businesses and their employees through this crisis. Search for assistance online through your local SBA and SCORE for applications and additional information.
The week-long waiting period has been waived for employees if the layoff is a direct result of the health crisis. For employees who fail to be eligible for employment benefits, there is a program called Pandemic Unemployment Insurance. Results vary depending on individual situations.
Insurance Concerns for You and Your Employees
Speak with your insurance agent about business income insurance or business-interrupted coverage to see what type of help is available Do not forget to include outstanding accounts receivable, as they may be uncollectable. The outstanding revenue loss may make you eligible for reimbursement for lost inventory as well as income. Ask your insurance advisor about other programs available that may help reduce operating expenses or reimburse losses.
Health insurance providers are reaching out to the HR departments of the businesses they work with to inform them of COVID-19 payment structures. Many are decreasing or eliminating the cost of testing and services related to the epidemic. Prior authorization has been waived and telehealth programs are increasing patient access to care. Make sure your staff has easy access to this information along with any changes that may occur. Email employees or provide them with printed copies of website links and phone numbers to insurance specialists who can answer their questions.
Take heart in today’s depressed economy. SBA, SCORE, Women’s Business Centers, and government agencies are all fighting to help you stay solvent and productive. Your company is a necessary part of the local economy, so create a plan for moving forward and get the help you need today.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.