No one could have predicted the calamity that Coronavirus, or Covid-19, would bring — especially small business owners.
Small businesses have been hit hard by the economic fallout. In states where a “shelter in place” mandate is in effect, businesses deemed “not essential” — such as family-owned retail stores — have been forced to lay off employees and close their doors. Restaurants and food trucks are only allowed to provide take out services, while others have been mandated by state governments to close altogether. Tourism is shut down. And so is the economy.
If your small business has been impacted by this pandemic — whether you’ve had to make a few cutbacks, lay off employees or close your doors entirely — what can you do to help your business?
Know there is help — but you have to ask for it. More specifically, you have to apply for it.
Because of this crisis, there are many ways to get financial help including:
- Financial aid from the Federal Government
- Aid from your state or local government
- Relief from your bills
- Aid from Commercial companies
- Alternative Options
Next, we’ll look at each one in depth so that you can find the aid your business needs — now.
Financial Aid From the Federal Government
Small Business Administration “Economic Injury Disaster” Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing “designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).”
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance to help small businesses “overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.” The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
These loans can be used to pay for:
- fixed debts
- accounts payable
- other bills that can’t be paid because of the coronavirus impact
Who can qualify? Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible.
You can apply online or, if you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, call 1‐800‐659‐2955 for assistance.
Financial Aid From Your State Or Local Government
Aside from the Federal Government, State and local governments are also providing help for small businesses. Here are a few examples.
NYC Small Business Services
The NYC Small Business Services is offering grants and loans to businesses in “specific categories of size and revenue impact.”
According to the information provided, “businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decrease by 25% or more will be eligible for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 to help retain employees and ensure business continuity.”
Click here to apply or learn more.
New York City Employee Retention Grant Program
For small businesses with one to four employees affected by the Coronovirus, the New York City Employee Retention Grant Program is providing a grant of up to $27,000 that covers 40% of payroll costs for two months.
In order to apply, you must:
- have proof that you lost 25% of your revenue due to the impacts of the coronavirus
- be located in one of New York City’s five boroughs
- have been operating for six months or more
- have no current tax liens or legal judgments
To learn more or apply, click here.
San Francisco COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund
The COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund allows small business owners impacted by the Coronavirus access of up to $10,000 for employee salaries and rent.
To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Businesses Resiliency Fund, small businesses must
- have at least 1 employee and no more than 5 employees
- demonstrate a loss of revenue of 25% or more
- have less than $2,500,000 in gross receipts
- be engaged in activities that are regulated by the City and County of San Francisco and have a license/permit associated to that regulation
Learn more or apply by clicking here.
Los Angeles City Small Business Emergency Microloan Program
For Los Angeles residents, the Small Business Emergency Microloan Program “provides financing needed to strengthen small business enterprises” due to coronavirus. Loan limits range from $5,000 to $20,000, and there are two interest rate options:
- option 1: 0% for a term of 6 months to 1 year
- option 2: 3% to 5% for a term of up to 5 years
Learn more about the fund or apply by clicking here.
Emergency Bridge Loan
If you call Florida home, short term loans — thanks to the “Emergency Bridge Loan” — are available to coronavirus-affected small businesses.
All designed counties in Florida qualify for loan. For the first year, loans are interest-free. After that, the interest rate rises to 12%.
Other qualification details worth knowing before applying:
- Applicants must have been established prior to March 9, 2020
- Applicants must have suffered economic injury as a result of the designated disaster
- Applicants must be a business with 2 to 100 employees
Learn more or apply by clicking here.
COVID-19 Business Loan Guarantee Program
The New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) created a program “to assist businesses seeking emergency loans or lines of credit to deal with negative economic impacts from COVID-19.”
The program can guarantee either a portion of a loan or line of credit up to 80% of the principal or $50,000. Loan proceeds can be used for:
- working capital
Learn more by clicking here.
Michigan Small Business Relief Program
The Michigan Small Business Relief Program will provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses because of this crisis. According to the information provided, “the funding is divided between $10 million in small business grants and $10 million in small business loans to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce.”
The grant funding alone will provide grants of up to $10,000 to support small businesses.
- the company must be in an industry outlined in Executive Order 2020-9, or demonstrate it is otherwise affected by the COVID-19 outbreak
- the company has 50 employees or fewer
- the company needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business
- The company is able to demonstrate an income loss as a result of the EO, or the COVID-19 outbreak.
Click here to learn more or apply.
What If My State Or City Isn’t On This List?
If you don’t find your state listed here, visit your state and/or city’s business website to see what options they’re offering, and most importantly, stay up to date on their process and requirements.
Financial Relief From Your Bills
Many credit and billing companies are seeing the need to help their customers who are experiencing a loss in revenue — again, all you have to do is ask. Here are a few examples.
Bank of America
For small business owners, Bank of America is accepting requests to defer payments and refunds on late fees for credit cards and loans.
Capital one is telling its customers: “We also understand that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Capital One is here to help, and we encourage customers who may be impacted or need assistance to reach out to discuss and find a solution for you. Should you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact us.”
If you have a business credit card with Discover, they have said: “We have support in place for qualified Discover customers who experience hardship as a result of the outbreak. Please contact our customer service teams.”
It’s not just Bank of America, Capital One or Discover; many companies are offering help to business owners. If you are facing a loss in revenue and significant bills, call the customer service phone number today, explain your situation, be prepared to negotiate, and ask how they can help you.
Several programs are offering help to small businesses.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook has committed to offering up to 30,000 small businesses $100 million in cash grants and Facebook advertising credits.
The grants will be provided to businesses in more than 30 countries. Click here to learn more information.
James Beard Foundation’s Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
“To help bring swift economic relief to these essential businesses,” the James Beard Foundation is in the process of creating a fund that will be “gathering support from corporate, foundation, and individual donors to provide micro-grants to independent food and beverage businesses in need.”
Learn more about the fund by clicking here.
Loans From Kiva
Learn more by clicking here.
Square is refunding all software subscription fees for the month of March for existing sellers who currently use the following:
- Square Appointments
- Team Management
- Square Online Store
For small business owners, they are also waiving curbside pickup and delivery fees for the next three months.
Learn more by clicking here.
There are other lesser-known options for financial relief during this time.
Utilize Your Network
It’s during times like this that you need a strong network and strong friendships. There may be members of your network who are active investors and are not tremendously impacted by the coronavirus as your business is; try to set up an appointment with them and ask for help.
Start a Crowdfunding Campaign
If you’re a restaurant owner, and your restaurant has been a staple in the neighborhood for years, consider asking for help in the form of a crowdfunding campaign. If you don’t know anything about crowdfunding, read this guide.
File Your Taxes
In order to give Americans more time to file their taxes, the deadline has been extended by three months.
But this doesn't mean you should wait three months to do your taxes. If you’re expecting a tax return for your small business, file now so that you can have that money in hand for your small business needs.
While the economy and business has slowed, it doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. If you have extra time on your hands, use it to your advantage and further your business and entrepreneurship knowledge.
- Learn how to build your business credit score
- Make sure you aren't making these 10 small business mistakes
- Learn how to track and manage your cash flow better than ever before
- Become your own PR agent and get your product on TV
- Discover 6 ways to get and keep clients
Editor’s Note: Here at WealthFit, our goal is to help you understand how Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is impacting your finances. To read more about the symptoms and how to get tested, you can find these resources from the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC).
Cash Lambert is WealthFit's Managing Editor. He is the author of Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism.