For most of us, the initial shock of COVID-19 has begun to set in. Yet, we have now shifted to the disorienting reality that our lives are and will continue to be affected by this unprecedented global crisis. As our nation works to triage our greatly affected economy during this pandemic, I hope to bring guidance and practical steps you can take to ease some of the financial strain on your small business at this time. In this last week, I have been able to make significant money saving changes that are worth sharing—as it is my hope to spread some peace during this time of chaos and uncertainty.
As a reminder, before you make any radical changes or decisions (this applies to both financial and non-financial decisions) …press the PAUSE button and breathe for a minute. A good friend and life counselor has advised my wife and I many times to “pause” and move forward only if we have peace. I encourage you to do the same.
Here are five urgent financial strategies for small business owners during COVID-19:
1) Apply for SBA Loan(s):
Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has several loan options currently, including the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) which can provide a loan up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs. The key here is that it has “Potential 100% Loan Forgiveness for 8 weeks of qualified loan uses like payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities”…(meaning you won’t need to pay this loan back) if you follow their guidelines. I recommend acting quickly on this loan as the application process has already been made available as follows:
PPP: Loans to Cover your Payroll
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other expenses through existing SBA lenders or by visiting www.sba.com (you’ll see the Paycheck Protection Program loan application on the very first screen, currently).
PPP: Loans for Independent Contractors and Self-Employed Individuals
Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other expenses through existing SBA lenders or by visiting www.sba.com (you’ll see the Paycheck Protection Program loan application on the very first screen, currently).
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
The SBA also provides an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) which provides relief from economic injury caused directly by the disaster and permits you to maintain a reasonable working capital position during the period affected by the disaster. EIDL’s do not replace lost sales or revenue but were created as a buffer for situations like COVID-19 that has swept across the globe endangering thousands of small businesses across the United States.
Here’s a great 1-page summary of the PPP vs. the EIDL loans:
2. Defer Payments:
Banks, Financial Institutions and Landlords
Many banks, financial institutions, landlords etc. are offering to defer payments. Take the time to make the calls and see which payments you may be given grace on. BUT – don’t automatically defer your payments the maximum time allowed without understanding stipulations. Consider your financial situation and defer the minimum needed.
In my case, I deferred my truck lease payment for 60 days (2 payments…savings of just over $1,000; but they offered as much as 120 days (4 payments). In turn, they extended my lease agreement by 2 months(but note…my mileage is not extended…so pay attention to this so you don’t go over your miles…but let’s face it, most of us are driving less with the stay-at-home order.
3) Pause Services/Subscriptions:
Many services (bookkeeping, online subscriptions, etc.) are willing to temporarily pause your services and therefore pause your payments.
We use BuilderTrend (a construction software) with a monthly subscription fee. I love it…but for April 2020…I can make my business work without it. I requested to temporarily pause services and therefore skip April’s payment of $329.They agreed to pausing payments…but still allowed me to use the service…and they stated they would be offering me a discount on my normal fees effective May 2020. Win-Win!
Example: Remote Bookkeeping Service
I also use a remote bookkeeping service with monthly fees.They too provided options to their clients, including temporarily pausing several of their services, which for use saved us roughly $1000.
4. Communicate with your Creditors, Vendors, Subcontractors, etc.
Communication is key. If you’re struggling to make payments, do not simply stop making payments (to anyone or any company). Instead, communicate with them.
For creditors, the downsides of not paying them or setting up a formal revised payment plan could result in:
- Unnecessary costs (late fees, penalties, interest, etc.)
- Decrease in credit score due to being reported to the credit bureaus.
For vendors, suppliers, subs, etc., these people are an extension of your business and you should explain your situation to them. Find out who is in dire need of payment versus those that may be able to wait a bit on payment. When the dust settles, you want to be in good standing with anyone/everyone possible in order to continue your business relationships that you have worked hard to build.
Benefits may include:
- Reducing your costs short term.
- Negotiating payment terms and/or amounts(short and/or long term).
- Maintaining relationships & trust.
We recently contacted our vendors and subcontractors—letting them know business operations consist of (our focus being on health & safety while serving our clients and managing our business).We acknowledged we have some outstanding invoices (delayed due to the chaos of the last few weeks) and confirmed we are now settling into a new normal and will get invoices paid.
5) If your business has not been ordered to temporarily close, keep operating.
Keep selling your goods/services to your clients if at all possible. Just because the world seems to be watching every Netflix series right now doesn’t mean this is the time for you to be binge-flixing. You are a business owner and that means now is time to utilize the skills that have allowed you to build what you have, to keep what you have.
Respond to leads and sales calls immediately. Be excited to talk to them. Give them some hope and confidence that the world has not come to an end and you are still here to fill a need that they have.
One final personal recommendation:
Refinance Your Home.
Interest rates are very low currently (i.e. 3.125%-3.75% for 30 year; 3.0% – 3.5% for 15 year fixed) and could be much lower than your existing mortgage interest rate. If so, you could save money on your monthly payment and automatically skip 2 full months of payments. Credit unions are a great option if you are already a member. If you’re not a member currently, there are some credit unions such as SharePoint Credit Union (Sharepointcu.com) that do take in new members. Otherwise, Quicken Loans(quickenloans.com) appears to have one of the fastest refinance processes in place.
We started working on refinancing our home just prior to COVID-19 and we closed last week with Share Point Credit Union. We combined our primary and secondary mortgages, obtained a much better interest rate and reduced from a 30 year to a 20 year mortgage; which not only saves us nearly $300/month but also allows us by default to not have a mortgage payment for 2 months! That’s huge right now, right? We will also end up getting our escrow back from our original lender which held roughly 6 months of taxes and homeowners insurance money…since the new lender requires that money at the time we closed (and they bundled it in with our new mortgage).All in all, this one financial change can be a life-saver, no matter if you own a small business or not.
Insider faith-filled tip:
Yup, you heard me. Keep tithing to your church. Just because you are not currently attending church in a physical building doesn’t mean we should pause tithing. And if you aren’t currently tithing…Start Today. Hmm…so how does giving money to the local church help me save money. It doesn’t save you money…it does SO-MUCH-MORE! Here’s a few reasons to tithe*:
Reason 1: It is an act of obedience.
The Bible teaches tithing throughout the Old and New Testament. At the end of all of this chaos, I want to be aligned with God. In my short 45 years of life…He seems to have this whole world thing figured out better than me (or anyone for that matter IMHO)…so I personally want to be aligned with Him more than any other person, group, organization, political affiliation, etc. etc. etc.
Reason 2: It is an act of faith.
- As we tithe, we trust God’s gracious provisions to supply our needs.
- In other words, we trust God can and will do more with the remaining 90% of our income (than what we alone could do with 100%) by blessing it to adequately meet all of our needs.
Reason 3: It is an act of gratitude.
Every good gift is from above (ref. James 1:17) and so let’s be thankful and show our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.
Reason 4: It is an act of love.
John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Therefore, as we keep God’s commandments to tithe, again and again we manifest our love to Jesus Christ.
Reason 5: It is a commandment with a promise.
- Malachi 3:10 says “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
- He taught us to be faithful and give our tithes to Him, then He will pour upon us, the bounty of His blessings. If we put God to the test by tithing with faith, gratitude and love; surely He will bless us in so many ways that our lives will be greatly enriched!!
Jayme Martin is the co-owner of the multi award-winning design + build firm, Beautiful Chaos®. He has 25+ years of experience in leadership, management, and business growth. Jayme has been a strategic resource to large business endeavors, restructured countless teams and provided thought leadership at executive levels while working for the largest privately held company for the first 22 years of his career. Simultaneously, Jayme founded and launched several businesses and provided leadership via volunteering opportunities. Additionally, he has spent countless hours providing business and financial direction at both professional and personal levels for many years. Jayme currently owns a successful residential remodeling and build firm called Beautiful Chaos Renovations which is the sister company to his wife, Sarah Martin’s company, Beautiful Chaos Décor. As well as being the founder of Beautiful Chaos, Sarah is a multi award-winning designer, author, woman’s leader, and the heart and soul of their marriage, business and family. Together Jayme & Sarah manage and lead Beautiful Chaos along with raising 4 beautiful kids. Jayme & Sarah are also licensed in ministry—with a focus on leading leaders and families.
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