The answer: It’s delaying everything. Deals and contracts that once seemed certain are sputtering. Opportunities have gone from promising to vanishing.
“I can’t finalize a deal to sell one of my businesses,” says Kryshon Bratton, who owns Bratton Pools and related companies in Houston. We featured her startup story in this video. “The new buyer is getting their funding through SBA. We were scheduled to close and then the shutdown happened.”
Elsewhere, business owners who are government contractors say they’re feeling the pinch. “I’m waiting on a federal contract to kickoff — 6 months or more of work that is stalled due to the agency in question being furloughed,” says Katherine Watier Ong of WO Strategies, a digital marketing firm in McLean, Virginia (disclosure: Ong has advised The Story Exchange). “I have enough of a diversified client set that I should be OK….but if the client doesn’t get back to work and kick off the project at all, I do need to find another big client to fill its place.”
Some business owners in highly regulated industries say work is affected because they need certain approvals or authorizations from U.S. agencies. For instance, Janine K. Iannarelli, the president of Par Avion Ltd., an aircraft brokerage firm in Houston, says the Federal Aviation Administration provides title searches, certifications and letters of authorization when she sells or exports airplanes. At the FAA, positions that are not in “life and safety” are currently furloughed. “I have at least one sale pending where the aircraft will be impacted by this,” she says. “What comes to mind any time I encounter a delay is that old adage of ‘time kills deals.’”
Many entrepreneurs are worried about the economic impact of the shutdown, such as customers or clients facing cash crunches. In Arizona, Estella di Rossi runs a social-welfare nonprofit, The House of Rossi, which relies on area businesses for donations. She was already experiencing a drop in funding. Now, “people aren’t going out as much, aren’t donating as much and communities are suffering now more than ever, while our government is shut down, arguing about a border wall,” she says.
With the White House and federal agencies turning to contingency plans as the impasse drags on, it may be wise for small businesses to do so as well. While there are few resources that talk specifically about how to prepare for a shutdown, business owners may find tips and advice in these articles about disaster planning, cash crunches and business slowdowns: