The coronavirus pandemic has left an indelible mark on the global economy. Thousands of small and medium businesses immediately felt the crunch when cities all over the country imposed a two-week or longer mandatory quarantine and closed down all commercial establishments, to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Many would have recovered if they were able to return to business as soon as city-wide quarantines ended, but state governments deemed it best to lift restrictions by stages: essential services first (e.g., food and drink, personal care) and least essential businesses last (e.g., entertainment, museums, concert events).
Small businesses that belonged to the less essential categories had to wait longer to reopen, but bills from creditors and landlords did not stop. By the end of September 2020, nearly 100,000 establishments that were shut down because of the pandemic closed for good.
Poor Dissemination of Stimulus & Financial Aid Funds
Acknowledging that small businesses are vital to the economy and therefore need assistance during the pandemic, Congress passed a stimulus package in March to provide emergency financial relief for workers and small businesses. The CARES Act established four temporary loan options:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- SBA Express Bridge Loans
- SBA Debt Relief
Small business owners looked forward to these programs. Unfortunately, the needs outweighed the available resources as the initial funding ran out in only days.
The Challenges Small Business Owners Face When Applying for Aid
In California, small business owners jumped at the chance to get affordable and lenient loans from the government. They might have found more success, however, if they sought small business loans from private California lenders.
The government-funded loan programs had numerous snags, which made it more challenging for business owners to apply. Here are some of them:
- The programs all have limited funding, and the availability of the funding depended on whether Congress could agree on the budget, among other things.
- The debt relief programs were meant to provide aid for small businesses, but loopholes in the section identifying the criteria for qualified applicants allowed large businesses and franchises to avail of the financial aid as well. Many big companies received millions in assistance, while the smaller businesses were left with little to zero funds as a result.
- Businesses with long-established relationships with banks and lenders seem to have had an advantage even though the loan programs were meant to be awarded to qualified businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. This reportedly disproportionate prioritization led to manufacturers and construction firms getting approved for loans first, and restaurants, bars, and hospitality businesses last. There are also data to support this observation: Yelp’s recent Economic Impact Report revealed that approximately 163,735 businesses have reported to Yelp that they have closed for good. The restaurant industry had the highest number of permanent closures at 61%.
- For the first rounds of the stimulus package, the funding went to the country’s largest banks, and not enough went to the smaller, rural banks that also served the smaller, rural business owners.
- The small business owners who did get approved for these loans received just enough to see them through in the short term. In some cases, business owners were doubtful that, even with loans, they would be able to keep their business open for long.
Contact Probably Yes for Your Small Business Funding Relief
The pandemic has created unprecedented scenarios for which many of us, including the federal and state governments, were unprepared.
In the middle of all this uncertainty, reliable and indubitable solutions can give you financial relief and peace of mind.
That’s what we offer here at Probably. We offer working capital loans and small business loans to small business owners in California. Browse our website to learn more about what we do.