Important PPP update for 2021
On December 22, 2020, Congress passed a bill renewing funding under the CARES Act, including an additional $284 billion earmarked for America’s struggling small businesses. The rules and application process for PPP loans and forgiveness have been modified, with more businesses eligible for PPP loans, more expenses forgivable, and a simplified application process. Also there is provision for “second draw” PPP loans for businesses that received PPP funding in 2020.
In this 6-minute read:
- SBA recommendations for coronavirus procedures for local businesses
- How to manage employees
- Game plan for the future
- Keep good communication
- Think outside the box
- Free business tools and services
- Emergency funding options
With the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease, your business has probably already begun to see an impact from more people stocking up their emergency storage supplies, avoiding unnecessary retail shopping, and hunkering down in their homes.
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You may see increased absences among employees as they follow standard health procedures for staying home if they start to experience potential symptoms of the disease.
Whatever circumstance you find your business in during this time, this guide is meant to be a one-stop-shop to help you navigate the challenges and impact of COVID-19 on small, local businesses.
SBA’s guidelines for businesses and employers for dealing with coronavirus / COVID-19
The U.S. Small Business Administration has put out a guide for businesses and employers to help with the impacts of COVID-19.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
For businesses that are experiencing a revenue loss during this time, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program will provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million.
Learn if your business qualifies at SBA.gov/Disaster.
Read more: learn how to apply for an SBA disaster loan, complete with helpful walkthrough!
Guidance for businesses and employers
The SBA covers common issues that businesses and employers may experience as the outbreak of COVID-19 continues:
- Strain in capital access as the market fluctuates with drops and surges in demand for different products and services
- Workforce capacity may be strained as employees are impacted by the disease
- Inventory and supply chain shortfalls—make sure that you have adequate supplies for a sustained period of time
- Increased frequency of facility sanitization and the costs associated with it
- Insurance coverage issues—contact your insurance agent to understand what you are covered for during this time
- Marketing—it’s important to maintain transparent marketing to help your customers be aware of any changes in business hours, product availability, cautions that you are taking, etc.
- You need to have a plan moving forward for what to do as the virus continues (more on this later)
What to do if you manage employees
Businesses that have more employees are likely to be impacted by the virus more than sole proprietors will be. Follow the guidelines below to help your employees take the necessary safety precautions to keep the impact of the disease on your business at a minimum.
Follow CDC’s guide for businesses and employers
The CDC has released a guide for businesses and employers to follow when it comes to managing your employees.
Encourage sick employees to stay home. Any employees that show signs of respiratory illness or fever (100.4° F or greater) should stay home until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours without the use of symptom-reducing medications.
Make sure your employees are aware of sick-leave policies and any updates to that during this time. Keep your policies flexible to help employees stay home if needed, whether to manage their own symptoms or help a loved one.
Don’t require a doctor’s note as healthcare facilities are extremely busy and may not be able to provide the documentation in a timely manner.
Separate sick employees and send them home. If an employee starts to show signs of respiratory illness or fever throughout the workday, separate them from your other employees and send them home immediately.
Encourage respiratory etiquette and proper hand hygiene. Place handwashing and cough and sneezing etiquette signs up in the bathrooms, entrances, and other places where they are likely to be seen. Keep hand sanitizer, hand soap, and other hygiene essentials available.
Perform routine environmental cleaning. Routinely clean all surfaces in the workspace that are frequently touched: desks, workstations, doorknobs, countertops, etc. Provide disposable wipes for employees to use to wipe down their own workstations.
Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps. Advise your employees to check for signs of respiratory illness before traveling and if at any point during travel they start to feel ill, to immediately notify their supervisor and seek proper healthcare.
Direct them to the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest travel guidance.
Prepare for potential increase in employee absences
As the virus continues to spread, you should prepare for increases in employee absence. Some ways that you can do this include:
- Allow employees to work from home (if possible)
- Outline priorities for work that needs to be done and making sure your entire team is on the same page
- Identify essential roles and functions and split the responsibilities between those who are available
- Maintain flexibility in employee schedules as K-12 schools close and parents need to be home with children
- Minimize exposure between employees by avoiding large gatherings in close proximity
- Consider banning handshakes or other customary greetings involving physical contact
Coronavirus / COVID-19 game plan for the future
Every business should have a game plan for the future as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. We don’t know exactly how this will continue to impact businesses in the future, but you should have a plan in place as a cautionary measure.
Are you expecting business to drop?
Non-essential businesses that require close proximity to other people, such as restaurants, retail, health and beauty, movie theaters, and others will likely see a drop in business.
There are options in place to help you obtain capital if you experience revenue losses:
- SBA loans and funding programs
- SBA emergency/disaster funding for COVID-19
- Government bailouts, which are intended to help struggling small businesses. Contact your bank for more information
- Private loans: ask your bank what special rates they can offer, or consult a financial advisor.
Prepare for drops in business and try to help mitigate them by going the extra mile to make sure your customers feel comfortable and confident in your business. Share the measures that you are taking to ensure a clean environment for employees and customers.
Are you expecting business to spike?
While some businesses will see heavy drops, others may see increased demand on large scales. Grocery stores, supermarkets, healthcare providers, sporting goods, and other such businesses are already seeing the impacts of this increased demand.
Be sure to plan ahead for acquiring increased inventory and having the supplies on hand to deal with the heavy demand at this time and in the coming months.
Some options you may look into for increasing your inventory:
- Securing loans to assist with the working capital needed to acquire more supplies
- Ordering additional supplies to prepare for the higher demand
- Using multiple vendors/distributors for supplies as they are likely to be impacted by each of their customers increasing their orders
Communicate with your customers
We can’t stress the importance of this enough right now: communicate with your customers. Every person is going to deal with this outbreak differently, and most people are going to try to keep living life as normal as possible.
Be sure to keep your customers updated on any changes to your business as the outbreak continues.
You can do this by maintaining your online presence through:
- Updating hours and policies on your Google My Business listing and other online business listings
- Including any changes to business on your website
Keep your messages positive and show your customers the efforts that you are making to keep business going and maintain cleanliness in your operations.
Think outside the box
Just because more people are staying home doesn’t mean that business has to slow down. You may just need to get a little more creative in how your products and services are delivered.
Womply offers a great free online resource center with helpful free guides and articles. You can also sign up for Womply Free and get awesome tools, including monitoring your online reputation, actionable business and customer insights, and competitor benchmarking for local businesses.
If applicable to your business, this is a great time to come up with some special deals and promotions that focus on home delivery.
You can also volunteer to help out in the community where possible to show that your business is just as involved as ever.
Keep your marketing efforts strong to show that business is continuing and you are doing all that you can to help your customers during this time.
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