Recently, ZenBusiness surveyed thousands of small business owners dealing with the coronavirus crisis. One thing was clear from the survey results: People need more info.
More info for understanding COVID-19.
More info on how to get grants and loans — right now.
More info to help them run a business during this difficult time.
Between our small business survey and the April 2nd webinar, we received hundreds of questions from small business owners related to topics like getting financial assistance and benefits from the government, unemployment options, and the recently-announced ZenBusiness Grant Program.
Below, we’ve organized and answered the most frequently asked questions from our community of small business owners dealing with the coronavirus crisis:
I just started my LLC in 2020. Can I still apply for the small-business loans and financial help I’ve been hearing about?
Yes. As long as your business suffered a loss as a result of COVID-19, you are eligible to apply.
What if my LLC wasn’t generating any revenue yet? What can I still apply for and get financial help from?
For those businesses that have not currently generated any revenue, you are still eligible to apply. There is no data to indicate that a business that is elibile to apply for the Economy Injury Disaster Loan will be disqualified for the $10,000 grant.
I’m self-employed and the only employee of my LLC. What can I still apply for and get financial help from?
If you are self-employed, the CARES Act stipulates that you can claim your “wage, commission, income, net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation,” up to $100,000 a year when applying for Paycheck Protection Program.
Does my small business qualify for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)? What about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or aid from the CARES Act?
Almost all businesses qualify for both the U.S. Small Business Association’s EIDL and aid from the CARES Act such as PPP loans.
Use this link from the SBA for more information on the coronavirus relief options available.
Does it hurt any of my applications to apply for the EIDL, unemployment, and aid from the CARES Act?
We have not seen any information that taking a strategic approach and considering or even applying for all of the available support avaiable through the CARES Act or the Families First Coronoavirus Response Act will hurt your other options. To find out how your state determines eligibility for unemployment, please go here.
If I receive EIDL or PPP funds, are there restrictions on what I can use them towards? (Such as real estate, payroll, credit card debt, etc.)
Each of these programs is meant to preserve employment across the economy. While there are not restrictions on what you can use the money for, in order for these loans to be forgiven they must be used for things like payroll, rent, mortgage payments, or utilities.
I have a specific question about how to answer something on one of these applications. Where can I get help with this?
For guidance on how to answer specific questions about your small business for certain applications, you can contact the U.S. Small Business Administration by calling them at 1-800-659-2955.
I’m self-employed and the only employee of my LLC. Do I have to “fire myself” and close my business to get unemployment benefits?
This can vary state-to-state. We haven’t seen anything that suggests you have to shut down your business to collect unemployment, but usually you will have to show lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Again, unemployment benefits vary from state to state, so here is a great website that can help you determine your state’s benefits and eligibility requirements.
If I receive unemployment benefits, do I have to refuse new business or clients that come in during this time?
Typically unemployment offices want people to earn income, even if it is a temporary situation. All money earned should be reported to your unemployment office (they should advise you on the process) and usually benefits are paused or lessened when money is coming in for the purpose of allowing benefits to stretch out over a longer period of time. See your state’s unemployment office for information as it pertains to your specific situation here.
If my employees collect benefits from the CARES Act, will they have to stop collecting before they can return to work?
Unemployment benefits typically end once work has been secured and money is coming in. The goal of unemployment is to bridge the gap while looking for a new job. For specific information on your state’s benefits and requirements, please go here.
Can you give us more info on the ZenBusiness Grant Program? What is it? How do I apply? How many people will be selected? What are the criteria for being chosen?
The ZenBusiness Grant Program is to support our customers during this hard time. To fund this program, we’re donating up to 10% of the money we generate from new customers signing up for our plan offerings. Grants will be $1,000 and will be given to a selection of customers that apply. This grant is available for all customers with an active recurring subscription, not just new customers.
If you’re part of our customer community and would like to express interest in a grant, start by going here and submitting your information. The ZenBusiness team will email you the grant application as soon as it is finalized.
The number of people selected depends on the revenue we book for the month.
Whether or not a small business is chosen for a grant is then based on the funds ZenBusiness has available to give the program, the answers to the questions in the application, and other terms & conditions presented with the application.
While this is all going on, is it smart to still start my small business right now?
A note from Ross Buhrdorf, CEO of ZenBusiness:
Starting a business is more about you as the entrepreneur and what you are planning to do as the business than the economic environment you launch in.
There are many opportunities that are now available as a result of what is going on in the world. This is always the case in situations like these, and you have to identify and go after them. Trust me, others certainly will.
Here at ZenBusiness, we know many businesses that have thrived during a crisis by digging in and seeing the opportunities. As an entrepreneur, you get to choose what you want to do and how you do it.
If you have an idea and have spotted opportunities, we think now is a great time to launch a business.
Is it smart to reduce or stop my marketing spend right now?
You should certainly take a hard look at your existing marketing efforts, see what’s still working, and cut what’s not.
Staying top of mind with your current and prospective customers is really important right now, however, so consider using that spend on efforts like promoting posts on Facebook and Instagram for instance.
For more inspiration and examples on this, see our resource on how to run your business virtually right now.
Are there loan options for people wanting to start new businesses right now?
Outside of loan options from entities like the U.S. Small Business Administration, there do not appear to be loans available for those wanting to start new business at this time based on our research. However, ZenBusiness is offering grants of up to $1,000 to a selection of new customers. You can apply for the grant by going here.