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By Debbie Gregory.

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The federal Small Business Agency known as the SBA has a few new ways to help small businesses stay in business while we all navigate the COVID crisis. Thanks to H.R. 748 the SBA has been able to expand their loan programs with new offerings for small businesses as well as some specific options for large corporations.

 

What Other Assistance does H.R. 748 Provide?

 

The program also provides $17 billion dollars to small businesses that have existing SBA loans. These funds can be used to pay six months of principal and interest payments on existing SBA loans.

 

1.) Additionally, the program provides $10 billion dollars for disaster loans and emergency grants. Each of these types of loans are limited to $10,000 per small business. These types of loans are quite like the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP described in part one of this mini article series.  They can be used for other operational expenses beyond payroll, mortgage or rent, and utilities.   In theory, any small business that applies for an economic injury disaster loan receives an advance, within 3 days, of $10,000 regardless of whether they eventually are approved for the loan. This $10,000 advance does not need to be repaid either. The loan itself can be for up to $2 million dollars at a low interest rate (currently it is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofit organizations). Repayment terms vary. You can apply for this loan directly from the SBA here> https://covid19relief.sba.gov/.

 

2.) The program also provides $265 Million dollars for SBA business development services. The SBA offers Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) that provide no-cost services for small businesses and entrepreneurs that will assist in critical business areas such as:

  • Consulting
  • Mentoring
  • Training services
  • Business development services
  • and much more

 

What Other Financial Assistance Programs Have Been Added for Businesses that Do Not Qualify for Other SBA Programs?  

 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having severe economic consequences all over the United States. Many larger businesses are ineligible for SBA programs. However, the goal of H.R. 748 is to assist large employers as well. Some of the additions that can help larger companies include:

 

1.) H.R. 748 states that the Federal Reserve can now make loans, as well as loan guarantees, to businesses not covered by other programs.  They can also now make loans to state and local governments. Unlike the SBA programs for small businesses, the Fed cannot forgive these loans and borrowers must repay them.

 

2.) H.R. 748 also provides the federal -19 pandemic. The funds are as follows:

 

  • $25 billion for loans to passenger air carriers
  • $4 billion for loans to cargo air carriers
  • $17 billion for loans to businesses critical to maintaining national security
  • $32 billion for additional financial assistance to air carriers and related employers (such as caterers and airport contractors)

 

Small Business or Large Corporation – if you need help to keep your business afloat while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the United States, then check out what is available to you from the SBA and H.R. 748.   We advise that patience is in order.

 

If you are not yet a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, we invite you to join.  Please be advised that there are not any dues or fees and you can use our seal on your collateral and website.   You may register for membership here:   https://vamboa.org/member-registration/ ‘’

 

Everyone stay safe and healthy!

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Did you know that the Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small businesses obtain the loans they need? The federal SBA provides a wealth of financial assistance, and other services to small businesses across the United States. Recently they have added quite a few new programs to help thanks to H.R. 748.

 

How does the SBA determine whether or not your business is considered a small business? The SBA determines whether you are a small business using either your revenue numbers or your employee headcount (the headcount varies by industry).

 

The main SBA program most business apply and qualify for is a loan guarantee program. The SBA may repay a portion of the amount borrowed by qualified businesses in cases when the small business borrower cannot repay the loan. Loan guarantees reduce the overall risk to the lender, thus enabling the small business to obtain more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate or longer term.

 

The SBA also directly makes low-interest loans to businesses and nonprofit organizations following declared disasters. A disaster loan may be for either covering repairs and replacement of physical assets damaged in a disaster or covering small business operating expenses after a disaster.

 

What is new?   H.R. 748 is!

In general terms, H.R. 748 provides $349 billion dollars for forgivable small business loans. This program is called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and was designed to subsidize small businesses so that they can continue to pay their employees and overhead costs while their revenues have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Unlike a typical SBA loan, businesses will not be required to repay these loans if the money is used exclusively to pay:

  • Employee wages
  • Employee benefits
  • Mortgage or rent for the business’s location
  • Utility bills for the business’s location

 

Instead, the loans will be forgiven after eight weeks. The business is required to clearly document how the money was used to ensure adherence to the loan program’s rules. If the business has not properly documented spending the loan money, or spent the money on other things, they will be required to pay all of it back in full at an interest rate of four percent (4%).

 

Is $349 Billion Enough to go Around? 

The program has enough to provide every eligible employer a forgivable loan for up to 2.5 months of payroll.   With this said many are receiving so much more including businesses that you might not characterize as small businesses.   For example, large public companies and major sports teams have received PPP funds and the the money has been depleted once already and refunded.

 

Who is Eligible for Assistance? 

All businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 employees are eligible. There are also a few businesses that will qualify even though they have more than 500 employees. For example, a business may have more than 500 employees per location. Some sole-proprietors and self-employed people are also eligible for relief. Loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

How Much Money can you Get? 

You can qualify for about 2.5 times your average monthly payroll, or up to $10 million dollars. You do not even need to prove that you could potentially pay back the loan; instead, you simply need to prove that you have been running your business prior to February 15, 2020. This sometimes translates into the money going to businesses that don’t need it and there has been some widespread fraud.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this mini article series.   Part 2 will provide information on other assistance programs that H.R. 748 provides. There are even a few programs designed for specific types of large corporations.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association believes that small veteran and military business owners should benefit first.   They made huge sacrifices for our nation.  We are disheartened to see huge corporations receiving this money and the program running out.

 

If you are not already a member of VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association, please consider joining.  We do not charge dues or fees and members can use our seal on your collateral and web site.   Here is a link to register to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

COVID Pandemic Business Lessons

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By Debbie Gregory.

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It does not matter whatever area your small business is in; it looks very different today than it did last year. Unfortunately, it might never look quite the same again. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced every industry to drastically change the ways in which they conduct business to keep both their employees and customers safe.

Below are a few powerful lessons that you can take away from this pandemic and ones that will assist you in changing your business for the better:

1.) Be Flexible:

COVID-19 tossed a massive wrench into all our plans this year. Regardless of when you re-opened, when you plan to re-open, or if you never closed your doors, you must be flexible and creative when solving current problems. If you can embrace these challenges, your business will not only survive, but should grow once the pandemic has passed.

2.) Consider Alternatives to The Standard Office:

Many businesses have been forced to close entirely or work with a very limited amount of staff in the office while the rest worked remotely from home. Many businesses are now choosing to allow their employees to stay remote indefinitely as they close physical offices to save on overhead. If you can do it, now is the perfect time to embrace working with reduced overhead while providing your employees more flexibility in their work schedules.

3.) Utilize Technology:

Utilizing tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Skype businesses are keeping employees connected, focused, and on-task. These tools also continue to facilitate camaraderie by allowing virtual team lunches, meetings, happy hours, and more.

Technology is also helping companies keep on top of customer service with chatbots, messengers, newsletters, and other online tools; as well as helping companies expand their offerings with things like online stores. Technology has made the transition from traditional office to home-office incredibly simple as well as boosted how companies can find and communicate with their customers. Helping to keep business marching forward, keep up morale and keep everyone feeling connected to one another.

VAMBOA recognizes that many small businesses may need to update their computers and technology.   For this reason, VAMBOA has made the decision to partner with Dell Technologies to VAMBOA members and friends significant discounts on their outstanding technology products.  Here is a link to check out what they offer:  https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

4.) Involve Your Customers:

When looking for new and creative ways to boost your business during these challenging times, it is an excellent idea good to involve your current customers.  You need to find out from them how you can better serve them.  They may have a few ideas that you would never have thought of without their input. Some businesses have pivoted to online sales, at-home kits that are delivered, virtual meetings or gatherings and much more. Your customers know what they want and adding their desires to your offerings may open up a whole new revenue streams for your business.

5.) Pivot:

If your business is not open, you need to find a new way to get your offerings into the hands of your customers. If you have not yet added other services or ways for people to purchase your offerings, now is the time to do so!  If you are a restaurant then offer curbside pickup, online ordering, delivery services, or at-home meal and dessert kits. If you are a retailer then open an online store. Find ways to bring people together and connect your products and services to them.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and will continue to dramatically change the way small businesses operate as we head into the future. To survive and thrive, you need to find new and unique ways to continue to serve your customers.

Please check out the discounts for VAMBOA members and friends offered by Dell Technologies to upgrade your computers and technology here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Rebuilding Your Business After COVID-19 : Part 2 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has been raging all over the world since late 2019 and almost every small business has suffered various types of negative financial effects. Having a keen understanding of exactly how much your business has suffered, as well as having a solid plan in place, will dramatically help your business get back on track during this pandemic and hopefully after the danger has passed.

In Part one of this mini-series we covered some ways you can prepare your business.  This part will continue to provide you a few more things you can do right now to prepare your business for a post-COVID-19 world.  VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association wishes you great success and prosperity.

 

4.) Time to Revise Your Budget:

To place your business back on its feet, you may need to invest a significant amount of money and/or resources to make money.   You may need to launch new ad campaigns as well as invest in new marketing materials and collateral.  You may also need to determine if you need new inventory as well as there might be new and improved   equipment that you need to buy.  You may also to hire or rehire employees with additional skills such as eCommerce expertise.  You must have a clear vision of   how much you need to get your business rolling on a day-to-day basis.   It is a reasonable assumption that your pre-COVID-19 budget is no longer applicable, and you need to tweak it for this “new normal”.

 

5.) Put Together a Re-Build Timeline:  

It will take hard work and energy to get your business back following the pandemic and doing everything all at once is not very realistic. Putting together a timeline that prioritizes your most important actions will help you reach each of your re-opening goals in an easier and quicker manner. For example, you may want to start by securing a loan, then rehiring your employees, then restocking inventory, etc. Also, make sure to track your progress each step of the way.   Having a timeline and plan in place will keep you organized.

 

6.)  BE PREPARED!  Put Together A Plan Now for the Next Crisis:

Though this pandemic seems like a once-in-a-lifetime event, the reality is that an emergency of this nature may well happen again and again.   For example, we are seeing a resurgence in hot spots and COVID 19 cases in areas that may have re-opened too soon and may have to close before they can again reopen. Use what you have learned during this pandemic to put together a comprehensive plan to help you insulate your business from future shocks and downturns.

You may want to:

  • Build up liquid cash savings
  • Pay down or pay off any debts
  • Trim your nonessential spending
  • Find ways to help your staff work more efficiently
  • Cut operating costs

 

The more you can prepare now, the better off you will be once the pandemic has passed. Having at least one plan in place will greatly improve your odds of surviving now during these tough financial times and eventually thriving again more quickly and more efficiently.

 

Rebuilding Your Business After COVID-19 : Part 1 of 2

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By Debbie Gregory.

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Unless you have been living under a rock or in seclusion, you understand the COVID-19 pandemic has ground many businesses to a halt and wreaked financial havoc all over the world. Many businesses are continuing to struggle as the pandemic continues to rage months after it first began. According to a recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), as of March 30, 2020 approximately 92% of small businesses that responded said they were suffering negative financial impacts as a result of the pandemic. Only 5% said they have experienced no effects at all.

A plan can dramatically help your business get back on track once the danger has passed. The short-term outlook for businesses varies widely depending on your industry.   No one knows what the “new normal” will be and we can only make guesses at how the overall economy will look. There are a few things you can do right now to prepare your business for a post-COVID-19 world.  They include the following:

 

1.) Assess the Overall Financial Damage to Your Business:

Before you can start planning how you will recover, you need to know exactly how your business has been impacted.  Now is the time to collect all of the numbers (from places such as profit and loss or cash flow statements) in order to compare them to previous years and determine just how much it has affected you. Next you will need to take a close look at how at what other parts of your business have been impacted including if you had to lay off workers, you were forced to greatly reduce marketing budgets or it became necessary to have workers perform their jobs remotely from in home offices.

 

2.) Will you Need Funding to Recover?

Your business may need a fresh infusion of cash to get back on its feet. The earlier you get the ball rolling on financing, the better off you will be. Take the time to research your options so that you find the right financing for your individual needs.

There are several options that you may consider, such as:

  • Small business loans and microloans
  • The Paycheck Protection Program (which is designed to provide funding to small businesses that are struggling to retain their employees during the pandemic)
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans(short-term pandemic financing for things other than employee retention)
  • Business credit cards
  • Business lines of credit
  • Inventory financing
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Small business term loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders
  • Vendor trade-lines
  • Accounts receivable financing
  • Purchase order financing
  • Equipment financing
  • And more

Each option has its own pros and cons so do your research and always consult a professional if you need guidance.

 

3.) Revise Your Business Plan:

Your business plan may have been working perfectly for your business pre-COVID-19, but now it may need some fine-tuning or outright re-writing. Specifically, you need to consider how your business will be able to adjust to the new normal once to survive during COVID or hopefully after it is gone. Take a good look at what was working for your business before the pandemic that may not work as well now and see where you can adjust or improve to remain competitive in your industry.

If you previously had a traditional brick and mortar shop before COVID-19, you may want to now expand into eCommerce or digital offerings since more people are turning to online shopping for all of their needs. If your employees are now working from home, you may consider keeping that arrangement.  In other words, you need to fine tune your business.

You should also take a good look at the current trends and what your competitors are doing in your industry. You may find a gap that your business could easily fulfill which could be critical to reclaiming and expanding your customer base going forward.

 

The second part of this series will offer you more recommendations including going over your budget, your budget, your re-build timeline and why you should have a plan in place for the next crisis. Stay tuned.

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