With the recent passage of another financial stimulus package, small businesses still have reason for skepticism that they will receive needed payroll assistance.
When major restaurant chains, huge financial organizations, and publicly held companies moved to the front of the line for assistance, there’s good reason for doubt. But make no mistake about it that we, as entrepreneurial small businesses, will continue to strive to make it through the COVID-19 health care crisis as it continues its rampage through our communities.
Why? Because as small business owners that’s what we do. We fuel the country’s economy. We have a vision for success. We have survived despite the fact that statistically making it through the first few years of business is a long shot, at best.
But this situation is different than previous downturns simply because it affects all of us – restaurants, Uber drivers, law firms, and, yes, large publicly traded companies. And, it threatens our physical, financial, and emotional health.
Where do we go from here?
The first few stimulus packages, designed to restore order have generated confusion throughout the small business community for good reason. Moving forward, the message is clear. While we hope for clarity and financial relief, small businesses must be prepared to go it alone. This will take cooperation and compassion when it comes to doing our best to keep employees while maintaining relationships with hurting clients.
While the stimulus packages were formulated with good intentions, the results have been discouraging, especially for small businesses.
- Payments of stimulus checks have been delayed
- Many small business owners have complained that banks have prioritized large loans to larger companies, potentially allowing the banks to collect more substantial processing fees. Law suits have been filed
- Publicly-traded companies, large restaurant groups, and hedge funds have depleted the PPP fund
- Small businesses may be better-served using the funds to pay rent or restructure business models, rather than using it strictly for payroll
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Paycheck Protection Program as it is currently structured.
U.S. News & World Report recently reported: “The Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform association on Tuesday published the results of a survey of more than 500 small businesses.
That report found that 44% of respondents had to close their businesses as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. More than two-thirds, 68%, had applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, but only 28% were approved. And only 15% said they’d actually received their loan.”
These are not necessarily complaints. They are merely observations of good efforts that have taken a turn that isn’t helping small businesses.
Moving forward it’s important for small businesses to develop strategies to assist clients while maintaining our own health. The common denominator is that they desperately want to stay in business and we want to keep them as clients. It is a delicate balance, especially when the stimulus and relief checks seems to be delayed.
We have developed our own PPP plan (https://www.patonmarketing.com/ppp), which in a nutshell, offers expanded services at no extra charge along with favorable payment plans. It shows our clients that we are now truly in a real “partnership”. The plan has other features:
- Recognition that this is a time when client relationships must be re-evaluated
- Survival is the key, so concessions on both sides must be made
- If one business survives then we all survive. We all must work toward mutual survival
- We’re showing confidence in these companies with hopes that these relationships will continue after the crisis ends
There’s no question that these are difficult times. But as small business owners, we have struggled before and have emerged stronger by adapting, changing our models, and taking a long view into the future. As small business owners, we can be agile, adaptable, and visionary, all characteristics than can serve us well today.
Todd Paton is President/Founder of Paton Marketing (www.patonmarketing.com), a digital marketing firm based in Pompano Beach, Florida. The company specializes in reputation management, website and app development, and social media campaigns.