The Small Business Administration (SBA) is being provided $50 billion in emergency funds to offer as low-interest loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump announced on March 11th.
According to the White House, these SBA loans are designed to help overcome disruptions caused by the coronavirus, such as being part of state-enforced containment zones, shipping delays, and customers practicing social isolation.
Trump indicated he would be asking Congress for the $50 billion increase.
During his presidential address Wednesday night, Trump also signaled that some individuals and businesses would be able to defer their tax payments for another three months.
“Using emergency authority, I will be instructing the Treasury Department to defer tax payments without interest or penalties for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted,” he said.
These tax payments were originally due on April 15th, 2020, so a deferment would likely push due dates to July 2020.
So what does this mean for you as a small business owner or a self-employed individual?
While the jury’s still out on what criteria need to be met in order to qualify for these SBA loans or tax deferments, it’s still important to take steps to protect yourself, your employees, and your customers.
That’s why we asked other small business owners in our Simply Business community to see what steps they were taking to protect their businesses from the coronavirus. Check out their advice — and ours! — below.
Invest in business insurance.
“I am trying to be very tight with my money right now in case there is a downturn with my business ...I can afford to wait it out, but it will be painful.”
This may not be an obvious step, but hear me out: business insurance can actually protect your income in case you experience any unexpected disruption to your business that may be caused by the coronavirus.
Insurance isn’t just useful in pandemics; it’s also helpful in more common scenarios that business owners face on a day-to-day basis. For example, business insurance may pay for some or all of your legal costs if a customer decides to sue you. Some business insurance policies can even protect you against loss of income in a case where you have to close your business (like if your office is flooded).
Having a business insurance policy is an essential step for everyday protection and can potentially step in and cover your financial losses in specific scenarios, which can provide you with that extra peace of mind you may need in uncertain times like these.
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Be protective of your employees.
“The only preparation I’m doing to keep my business afloat is making sure to take care of myself and my co-workers the best way possible [...] for example, by making hand sanitizer readily available in the work place, and other simple safety measures/precautions…”
If you have employees, you may be worried about balancing concerns over their health and safety with paid sick leave and time off. Not all small businesses can afford to provide a lot of paid sick leave, and that’s OK. However, we do recommend that you encourage any sick employees to stay home, particularly if they’re showing flu-like symptoms. This is especially important if you work closely with the public, as you don’t want customers accusing you of exposing them to illness. If you have the ability to offer remote work to your employees, encourage them to work from home if they need to.
“This does not affect my business or me directly, but the effect the [coronavirus] is having on the global supply chain and the US economy DOES affect me, and tangentially, everyone on this planet.”
-Lei Lani L.
Even if you don’t think the coronavirus will affect you or your business, staying aware of what’s going on can help you prepare your business in case something does happen. If you don’t already, take a couple of minutes each day to tune in on the local news to see if there are any important updates. That way, you won’t be caught by surprise if something happens in the areas where you do business.
Wash your hands!
“I am sharing that people need to wash their hands for 30 seconds, use common sense in paying attention to your surroundings, and if you don’t feel well, don’t go out.”
It’s perhaps the most simple advice, but the impact can help you (and your business) stay afloat and healthy during this uncertain time. Health experts have advised that the coronavirus can be stopped with good hand-washing habits — it really is as easy as that.
As Kathy K. suggests, practice proper hygiene and encourage everyone in your network to do the same!
What do you think of the coronavirus? Are you worried about it hitting your small business, or do you think it’s being overblown? Tell us in the comments below — we want to hear from you!
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!