Helpful Tips When Applying for COVID-19 Disaster Relief

Small businesses everywhere are making the supreme sacrifice to help control spread of the coronavirus. Many have had to reduce services, others have laid off employees, and increasing numbers have closed their business until it’s safe to reopen. Fortunately, financial assistance is available to help your business remain viable. Here are some tips to help you take full advantage of this disaster relief.

What’s Available and Where Do I Apply?

The recently enacted federal stimulus bill is intended to help businesses with cashflow and liquidity issues. In many cases, sole proprietors and self-employed persons are eligible too. Help is available from these programs:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - This provides forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Funds must be used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage, rent, and utilities occurred between February 15 and June 30, 2020. Forgiveness is based on whether you maintain or quickly rehire employees. Eligible lenders are gearing up now. Yahoo Financial offers this update on their readiness. Some are electing to work only with existing customers so start with your current lender if possible. Here’s the application you’ll need to complete. There is a funding cap on this program and it expires June 30, 2020, so apply now.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) - The SBA is also providing direct working-capital loans up to $2 million. Plus, you can get a $10,000 advance grant on the loan, reportedly in a matter of days. Applicants must follow a 3-Step Process and provide the required documentation. Here’s a link to apply. The NFIB offers this handy comparison between EIDL and PPP loans.
  • Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program - If you already have a relationship with an SBA Express lender, you can quickly access up to a $25,000 loan. Contact your existing SBA lender to apply.
  • SBA Debt Relief - Depending on the type of SBA loan, payments are automatically paid or deferred for up to six months. No application is required for this one.  

In addition to federal assistance, a number of states, municipalities and corporations have launched their own assistance programs. Forbes has complied this partial list but you will want to check your state’s Governor or Chamber of  Commerce website for up-to-date information.

Getting Help Fast

Navigating the maze of new programs can be daunting, especially when you need the assistance now. But you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some resources that can help you figure out what’s best for your business so you speed up the process.

NFIB - Here’s a video webinar from the National Federation of Independent Businesses explaining how to apply for a PPP or EIDL loan. They discuss what financial statements you need to apply.

Private Advisors - Companies like Fundera are offering assistance to small businesses  applying for PPP loans. You can upload your supporting documents to their online platform and they will help you submit it to participating lenders. There may be a charge for this service.

SBA Disaster Field Offices - SBA is providing  counseling and assistance to businesses rebuilding after a disaster like COVID-19. Their district offices are also available. In addition, you can follow SBA on their Twitter page to get updates as they occur.

SCORE - This organization provides free assistance from expert mentors. They’ll help you identify which source works best for your business, gather the financial statements needed, and offer advice on how to best use the funds. They are also offering several webinars on coronavirus-related topics.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce - This checklist provides a useful guide to calculate your average monthly payroll costs. That’s helpful when applying for a PPP loan. It also explains what lenders will be looking for to grant the loan.

Clearly, this is a challenging time for small business owners. But there is action you can take now to help your business survive. Use these tips to help you access the financial assistance available and position your business for ongoing success.