It’s called “hurry up and wait.”
After a mad scramble to apply for loans through the government’s $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program, women-owned businesses say they’re waiting — some with cautious hope, some with seriously low expectations, all with heightened anxiety.
“All we can do is keep our fingers crossed,” said Lauren Lobert Frison, owner of APEX Physical Therapy, an outpatient clinic in Brighton, Michigan, who applied for about $50,000 to cover payroll costs for 6 employees, despite a 60% drop in caseload. “I would like to keep them employed and being paid as full-time in spite of this, so they don’t have to worry about filing for unemployment and all that comes along with it.
The federal government has already set aside $350 billion to make small business loans as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus bill passed last month — and on Tuesday, the Treasury indicated it would ask Congress for an additional $250 billion. In most cases, the loans are to be forgiven as long as the businesses don’t lay off employees or reduce wages. The government has pledged to repay lenders for the forgiven portion of the loans, which are to be approved by the Small Business Administration.
Many business owners report a fraught process of trying to get documents in order — quarterly tax forms, articles of incorporation, even utility bills — to get their applications in as soon as the program began on Friday. Generally speaking, those companies with reliable accountants, past experience applying for loans or leases, and stable staffing numbers reported an easier time. Businesses with a fluctuating amount of projects who rely on independent contractors (who receive a 1099 form) found it far more difficult.
“We applied for PPP and it was — still is — a nightmare,” said Reetu Gupta, founder of Cirkled In, a Seattle startup that helps students apply for college. Late Monday, she managed to apply through a credit union after her bank stopped accepting applications. “We feel like we got jerked around a lot regarding 1099 payments. We had a large number of those and it became a roller coaster, not knowing what amount we will get.”
But it is still unclear how soon small businesses will receive funds. The banking industry reportedly was not able to process loans on Monday because of glitches with the SBA’s “E-Tran” system, which confirms receipt of loan applications.
In Reno, Nevada, dentist Summer Holloway has applied for a loan through the PPP to cover the costs of seven employees at Floss Dental Boutique. “It has not been told to me at this time when the funding will be distributed,” she said. ” I have been told the banks and SBA are bombarded with applications, rightly so, as this is uncharted territory.”
Karen Hoskin, the founder of Montanya Distillers, a rum maker in Crested Butte, Colorado, said she found the application process fairly straightforward and even managed to call the SBA with a question. “Someone picked up the phone…that seems like miracle,” she said. “However, I have not yet actually received anything from anyone to move this forward toward actual dollars in hand.”