It’s no exaggeration to say the next 6 months may be the most important 6 months ever for your small business. The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses is expected to be somewhere between devastating and utterly apocalyptic, with TheStreet.com forecasting that half of all US small businesses could go under “by the end of June.” This June.
Small businesses in large cities will be hit particularly hard, as shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in some cities have been extended to May 1, 2020, or beyond. Small businesses nationwide going more than a month with no revenue could trigger a worse recession than any previous downturn we’ve seen in our lifetimes.
That’s why surviving these next 6 months is so crucial for your business. The most important factor right now is halting the spread of the virus because nothing could be worse for the economy—or the country—than hundreds of thousands of deaths. But finding ways to keep your business afloat during this severe rough patch will determine whether the business survives. You need to immediately look hard for access to additional capital, new streams of revenue, and generous new loan programs.
Small Business Loans from the COVID-19 Stimulus Package
You’ve been hearing about Congress’ $2 trillion relief bill for a while, but it was not passed and signed into law until the tail end of March following several weeks of Washington, DC drama. And only a fraction of that $2 trillion is going to small businesses.
Still, a hefty sum of nearly $350 billion was made available via Small Businesses Association (SBA) loans under what’s called the Paycheck Protection Program. When the first round of funding ran out, a second round was passed for an additional $310 billion. That program makes loans of up to $10 million available, and you’re going to like the terms under which they’re structured.
Provided you keep all employees on payroll for the next 8 weeks, the government “will forgive the portion of the loans used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.” And you can have 100% of the loan forgiven if you use it all for these purposes.
Paycheck Protection Loans are completely separate from SBA disaster loans, also still available to small businesses in sums of up to $2 million for coronavirus relief purposes. Regrettably, those loans take weeks to clear, a timeline that may not work under the current difficult circumstances.
Instead, you might want to consider an online small business loan that can deliver capital in as little as 24 hours.
How to Defer Loan, Rent, and Tax Payments
One way to generate revenue is to just defer your outstanding payments that are due. If you’re doing your own small business taxes, you’re probably aware that Tax Day has been extended out to July 15 and that you can defer your tax payments until then “without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed.” There’s additional huge relief for self-employed business owners, as your first estimated quarterly income tax payment, previously due on April 15, is also now moved out to July 15.
One of the mistakes small businesses make in a crisis is not finding available revenue that’s sitting there to use. Those tax obligations can wait until mid-July, and similarly, you might want to inquire with your landlord or creditors about delaying rent or outstanding invoice payments. It’s quite fair to assume that all of their clients are having trouble making payments right now, and they’ll be eager to make arrangements in hopes of having as many of their customers as possible weather the storm.
Paid Sick Leave Tax Credits
There were more tax benefits for small businesses associated with that stimulus package, particularly if you’ve had any workers need to take time off for sick leave. The IRS and the Treasury Department are offering “dollar-for-dollar” refundable payroll tax credits for sick leave that any of your employees may have needed. If your business has fewer than 500 employees, any paid time off you gave your employees for their own health needs or to care for their families can be 100% reimbursed to you in the form of a payroll tax credit.
Other Forms of Available Credit
None of these forms of government assistance will be available to your business immediately, but you can get capital from some traditional credit sources. A wide range of business credit cards offers attractive features like no annual fees or 0% introductory rates. A merchant cash advance can provide up to $200,000, and the funds could be available in as little as 24 hours. You could also consider the Help Small Business gift card program, which helps you create custom gift card links for your customers, to keep bringing in revenue until business picks back up.
There are also a number of state efforts in all 50 states—these are far too numerous to list here. But your state or city likely has a Chamber of Commerce coordinating these support programs, so it may be of great benefit to do some searching or networking around those.
If you’re lucky enough to be open during these ever-extending lockdown orders, please do take care to practice safe small business coronavirus precautions to protect your employees and customers. If your business is not able to remain open right now, this may be the right time for a small business loan to get you through what may be the most challenging 6 months for your business.