How to help your small business survive the coronavirus
These are very difficult times for businesses in the Philadelphia area.
Tens of thousands of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses have been ordered to close, employees are forced to work from home, supply chains are disrupted and orders are drying up. Many of my clients are increasingly wondering if their businesses will survive even this pandemic because no one knows how long the economic situation will last.
But most will survive. This situation will not last forever. Things will turn around and, I believe, bounce back strongly. But in the meantime, if you’re running a small business, you need to do whatever it takes to build up the most important asset you have – and no, I’m not talking about toilet paper. I mean in cash. To do this, I urge you to take these steps immediately.
Get a loan from the Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Administration is offering now different types of small business loans. Usually, the SBA only guarantees loans from authorized banks and the process can take some time. But now, as part of its economic disaster loan program, most small businesses can apply for a loan directly from the SBA. Borrowings can be as high as $ 2 million and carry interest rates ranging from 2.75 to 3.75%. Borrowers can repay these loans over a period of up to 30 years or even earlier. I have been told that because the loans are direct, the approval process and turnaround times are shortened so that you can get the money into your bank account fairly quickly.
Take advantage of more federal relief to come.
Congress is expected to pass a new bailout bill this week and many expect it to offer provisions for small businesses that will include relief for localities, lower payroll taxes and direct payments to individuals. What’s more new invoice is rapidly gaining momentum which will allow small businesses to receive grants (not loans, so no repayment required) from the Small Business Administration which will help them cover their salary costs until June 30. Every small business owner should keep a close eye on upcoming legislation and be prepared to take action.
Request waivers to continue operating.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have ordered the shutdown of non-essential or non-vital businesses. If your business is not essential, then please keep your employees (and yourself) home and safe. However, if you think your business should also be allowed to continue, you can request a waiver both on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey websites. Keep in mind that even if you are not allowed to continue operations at your establishment, both states allow you to continue doing business as long as everyone is at home. If you need help setting up your employees remotely, major online conferencing providers such as Zoom, and Microsoft offer financial incentives and discounts.
Get help from your state.
Right now, most states across the country are waiting for the federal government to provide them with help and direct their small businesses to the Small Business Administration. However, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have a number of business loans and other resource programs in effect that can provide low cost financing to businesses in need. If you need free business advice or advice to get you through these times, you should contact the Small Business Development Centers Advisors at Temple, Lehigh and Rutgers The universities.
Get help from the city.
On Monday, the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) launched the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund, a grant and loan program of more than $ 9 million to support struggling and barely growing businesses. flood in the city. The fund is designed to help companies with annual sales of less than $ 5 million cover their payrolls and save jobs threatened by the spread of the virus. The city is also pushing back the dates for filing and paying property taxes and certain business taxes. For owners of commercial and residential buildings unable to pay property tax by March 31, the Department of Revenue has extended the deadline to 30 days. The 2020 property tax due date is now April 30. The deadline for requesting an installment plan to pay 2020 property taxes has also been extended to April 30. Companies can apply for assistance from the fund at www.phila.gov/COVID-19-business-relief.
Get your tax refund now.
The Treasury Department has extended the date for filing personal returns to July 15, including the requirement to make your final payments for 2019. However, if you think you were entitled to a refund from last year, I recommend file your taxes as soon as possible so that you can claim that money. No refund can be made until all forms are completed. Talk to your accountant.
Think about your employees.
Just a few weeks ago our biggest problem was finding people, right? My belief is that when the pandemic subsides, companies will quickly resume operations and the demand for workers will be strong again. New federal law requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to pay sick leave and family leave. However, there will be an available tax credit and payroll tax relief and if you have fewer than 50 employees, the Department of Labor has the power to exempt you from compliance if the policy would “jeopardize the viability of the business.” business as a going concern. “A great summary of all your workplace considerations can be found at Philadelphia’s Fox Rothschild, website. Think long term – you’ll need these people (and they’ll need their jobs) sooner than you think, so communicate, educate, and take care of them.
Finally, revisit your suppliers.
Your goal is to save money. So go see your biggest suppliers and sellers (you know who they are) and ask for help. Many large companies, such as Facebook and JP Morgan – offer grants to small businesses. But other big suppliers are also getting started. Local giants like CEEC and Comcast offer programs to help not only individuals but also their small business clients. Online lenders such as cabbage and the big banks of Capital One at Wells Fargo waive fees and extend payment terms. Even some owners like the one in Philadelphia Nathan Nichols offer to defer payments. Why? Because, like Daniels, many large companies want to “take the stress off a bit” from their tenants and customers. Call your biggest suppliers and ask for help. If you are like many of my clients, you will be encouraged by their response. They want to keep you in business as much as you do.
There is no coating: this is a bad situation. And that will probably continue until the summer. If you run a restaurant, shop, or business that has been closed due to this pandemic, I am very sympathetic. But we, as business owners, have to rise to the occasion. We have businesses to run and people who rely on us.
Follow the steps above. Save money. Face the storm. We are going to do it.
Editor-in-chief Barbara Laker contributed to this column.