Wisconsin SBDC staff is curating a list of common questions we’re fielding, with answers, to help address your most important questions.
If you are looking for help in Spanish and Spanish language materials, please visit the Puerto Rico SBDC.
Our staff are available to help answer your additional questions.
Am I still able to meet with a business consultant?
If you are currently scheduled to meet with an SBDC consultant, your meeting will still take place at the scheduled time. Your consultant will reach out to you regarding use of virtual meeting platforms (Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Google Hangouts, etc.) or phone call options. We are not offering in-person consulting appointments at this time.
What do I do first?
Clear communication with customers and employees is an important component of your crisis management process. By letting your stakeholders know that you are being proactive, they can spend their time focusing on other parts of their life and make more informed decisions as they relate to your business.
- Provide links to relevant information
- Giving a glimpse into how your business is being proactive and what steps you are taking regarding cleanliness
- Focus on customer safety and peace of mind
- Provide tips for how the reader can be safe/take action/be part of the community to help your customers feel as empowered as possible in this difficult (and often overwhelming) situation
- Clarify any alterations of policies for customers and/or employees (i.e. more lenient cancellation policies or sick time off for staff, etc.)
- Showing care and concern for you employees and customers
- Provide additional value, if possible (i.e. offering online options or curbside service to minimize contact)
While there is no one “right” way to handle these kinds of communications, it is helpful to stick to your brand, help assuage your client/customer fears and be proactive – both to help keep your operations running smoothly and to share that you have your stakeholders’ best interests in mind.
How can I reduce the risk for my organization?
With the extensive news coverage surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), contingency planning and management is at the forefront of everyone’s awareness. For your small business, this is the time to assess your sources of risk, reduce those risks, and communicate the steps you are taking to your employees and customers.
As any successful business owner knows, eliminating risk entirely is impossible. However, taking careful steps to mitigate risk and communicate clearly with employees and customers may be the keys to help your business stay strong through difficult times.
We suggest that all businesses have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place before a crisis. If you have one, now is the time to put it to work. If you don’t, it’s important to assess what risks COVID-19 presents to your business and put steps in place to mitigate them. In regard to epidemics like COVID-19, factors to consider include: employee healthy and safety, supply chains, cash-flow, and customer response.
Think through your policies. In the case of COVID-19, examples from the CDC include:
- Having flexible sick leave policies (both for the employee and for caring for sick family member) and ensuring employees are aware of these policies. This may include adjusting attendance rules and communicating when these adjustments start and end.
- Revisiting alternative options, such as remote work opportunities. Be proactive about your online policies and procedures; make sure that all employees know your processes, expectations, and confidentiality standards.
- Posting workplace posters that encourage coughing and sneezing etiquette, staying home when sick, and appropriate handwashing.
- Offering more flexibility for customers, particularly in regard to events and cancellations. An example of this is United Airlines’ current policy for flights booked between March 3 and 31.
- Remaining vigilant about preventing workplace discrimination based on race or national origin. The CDC notes in Stigma and Resilience that ”stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease”
- Acknowledge that everyone experiences moments of crisis differently. As a supervisor or leader, it is important to consider your own emotions and support your team. Several links to related resources are included below.
- We recently received some good tips via an email newsletter from Robert Gregg of the Boardman and Clark law firm in Madison. The message encouraged employers to check with their attorneys for legal advice regarding Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) surrounding employee absences due to COVID-19 complications and exposure.
- Understand your insurance policy and what is or is not included in Business Interruption Coverage. Consider how your business insurance will work if your business closes due to an outbreak or other emergency.
- Increase some of your regular practices, such as ensuring routine environmental cleaning, especially of frequently touched surfaces
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP):
Find out more: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp
How do you balance layoffs vs. paying employees?
This is a good question to ask your lender, as each business will have unique circumstances to consider.
Is the interest rate 4% for 10 years or 0.5% for 2 years? I’ve seen both.
This PPP loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1%.
If I accept the PPP loan, do I have to keep employees employed after the 8 weeks of payroll payments? In other words, if after the 8 weeks of payroll from the loan, and we are not back to business as usual, can I furlough my workers after the 8 weeks? If the employees are furloughed, are there any penalties with the loan forgiveness?
The PPP loan forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
Is there a limit of available funds for this?
SBA is authorized to guarantee loans under the PPP through June 30, 2020. Congress authorized a program level of $349,000,000,000 to provide guaranteed loans under this new 7(a) program.
May I choose when I accept the PPP loan and have funds dispersed to my company after approval? I would like to apply and get approval now but not start using the loan funds and paying my employees until sometime in May.
- That specific information is not available yet.
- However, it does have a maturity date of 2 years.
What is the turnaround in payment times?
That information is not available yet.
Is there a credit threshold for this program?
There is not yet a specific credit score requirement for the PPP.
Can economic development organizations classified as 501(c)(6) apply?
The PPP is still defining guidelines, but for now this program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19.Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries. Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ less than 500 workers.
If a client plans to apply for a PPP can they also apply for the emergency $10K grant (EIDL Advance)?
Yes, people can apply for both. Guidelines are still being written for how the two funding opportunities with work in tandem but for now we know the PPP and the EIDL ADVANCE (up-to-$10,000 emergency grant that is part of the EIDL) cannot be used for the same working capital/monthly expenses.
For additional details see this deeper FAQ document from the SBA dated April 6, 2020.
Small Business Debt Relief:
Find out more: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/sba-debt-relief
How does an owner prove what was being paid/funds used for?
That information is not available yet.
Is the SBA deferring payments for six months or actually making payments for six months? I have heard both pieces of language used.
The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months. The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020. Borrowers preferring to continue making regular payments during the deferment period may continue remitting payments during the deferment period. SBA will apply those payments normally as if there was no deferment. After this automatic deferment period, borrowers will be required to resume making regular principal and interest payments.
Other Funding Sources:
Is WEDC planning on anything besides the SB 20/20 program?
That information is not available yet.
How will putting employees on unemployment effect their unemployment insurance? Talk of raising rates and as much as needing to go dollar for dollar.
That information is not available yet.
Are sole proprietors LLC that don’t have other employees eligible for the PPP or unemployment for themselves?
Can I now apply for unemployment (as a business owner)?
When will unemployment info for sole prop and LLC owners be available?
Unemployment is a DWD program, and the answer is not available yet.
What is the best way to help salon owners, beauty businesses that can’t do anything?
Encourage them to apply for EIDL and PPP as they can always decline EIDL loan funds later if they choose.
Business Operated Continuity-related:
What are some things businesses can do to prepare and/or stay afloat? Are you seeing any innovative/creative strategies/solutions they’re using?
All businesses should have a preparedness plan in place for any type of disruption. Proper planning helps to protect employees, lessen the financial ramifications, and help the business continue to support economic recovery in the community. Visit www.sba.gov/coronavirus for more resources.
Specific guidance on:
Capital Access- We understand this situation can strain your capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations. With the state declaration, we encourage you to apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Also, traditional SBA-backed lending is still available and we can help you with that.
Workforce- Your workers are just as impacted as you are and job functions/ responsibilities are likely changing. Keep this in mind as you work through your operations.
For issues related to your workforce, including safety, wages, unemployment, check in with the Department of Labor at https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus.
For mental health issues, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment).
Insurance Coverage– If you have business interruption insurance, now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
Marketing- Communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and what you’re doing to keep your customers protected and meet their needs.
Plan- Prepare a plan for what you will do as this situation evolves, including worsens or improves.
What should a small business do to keep its employees and customers safe?
We want to emphasize that public health is the priority and we’re encouraging small businesses to do their part to keep their employees, customers and themselves healthy by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most up-to-date information on COVID-19, as well as Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond.
Also, the Department of Labor has provided details on workplace safety, leave and additional general resources at https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus.
What should a small business do to avoid being victimized?
Small businesses should ensure that anyone promising assistance is legitimate. The FTC has this page to help businesses protect against scams: www.ftc.gov/coronavirus. More resources for cyber scams can be found here: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2020/03/06/defending-againstcovid-19-cyber-scams.
Is the SBA offering other type of assistance beyond financial help?
Yes, as it has for more than 65 years, the SBA is offering ongoing assistance for small businesses across the country to help them start, grow, expand and recover. This includes various trainings and education offerings, financial and preparedness planning, supply chain assistance and the like.
Where should a small business go to find additional resources for help?
Small businesses should stay up to date with SBA’s ongoing assistance by following @SBA_Wisconsin on Twitter and subscribing to the district newsletter via www.sba.gov/updatesusing their zip code. Also, small businesses can find local educational and counseling resources via www.sba.gov/localassistance.