One of the few saving graces in the COVID-19 pandemic is that small businesses now have access to a wide range of financial programs to help them survive.
Federal, state, and local governments and organizations responded surprisingly quickly to business owners' pleas for help with rent, payroll, and other expenses when customers had to stay home. Many of these programs come in the form of grants and small loans. They're designed to help the country's 30.2 million small businesses stay in business.
How to Apply for Coronavirus Grants and Loans
Applying for funding isn't a quick or easy process. Experts stress the importance of being both prepared and patient before starting any application process.
"Collect all of your documents before you start. You will need your tax returns for three years, as well as profit and loss statements, payroll statements, and employee forms," says Andrya Allen of Crossland Communication. She also advises her clients to:
- Document current expenses and lost revenue
- Summarize your company's experience since the start of the year, with details about the impact on your industry plus changes to your profit statements
- Use your computer's default browser, since many application systems won't operate with alternatives like Google Chrome
- Expect to spend three to five hours on each application
"Triple-check your application for mistakes and make sure you're submitting everything required," adds Jared Hecht of loan marketplace Fundera. He notes that about 75% of Fundera's applications, in the best of times, need some correction. A mistake or missing document in the current, highly competitive situation makes it too easy for the organization to reject your application.
Insurance business advisor Wilfrid Baptiste of Financial Blind Spot tells business owners on his daily COVID-19 webinars to "apply for grants and zero-interest loans first because it's free money." He also encourages webinar participants to look past federal programs to local opportunities. To find them, type "[your city/county/state] COVID-19 small business [grants/loans]" into Google, using all permutations.
State Grant and Loan Programs
Here's a sampling of the small business grants and loans that are available on the state level. For more opportunities, check Baptiste's constantly updated list as well as Fundera's "Best Small Business Grants for 2020, Including Coronavirus Grants."
- Arizona Local Impact Fund
- Arkansas Community Development Block Grant
- Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund
- Cleveland Emergency Working Capital Fund Loan
- Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program
- Los Angeles City Small Business Emergency Microloan Program
- Louisiana Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
- Maine COVID-19 Relief Interim SBA Finance Loan Program
- Manchester, N.H. Small Business Recovery Loan Fund
- Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund (specific to critical needs items)
- Maryland Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program (specific to food and fiber producers, harvesters, and primary processors)
- Miami Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program
- Minnesota Small Business Emergency Loans
- Minnesota Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
- New Jersey Entrepreneurship Guarantee Program
- New Mexico Recovery Fund, L.P.
- New Mexico Nonprofits COVID-19 Emergency Grants
- New Mexico EDD COVID-19 Business Loan Guarantee Loan Program
- North Carolina COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Lending Program
- Pennsylvania COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program
- Southeast Kentucky Downtown Business Stimulus Fund
- Wisconsin Small Business 20/20 Program
- Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants
In addition, consider applying to the better-known national programs that include the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Paycheck Protection Program, Facebook's Small Business Grants Program, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Save Small Business Fund.
Business broker Terri Sherman offers one last tip: "Be patient. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people seeking the same resources you are, so it's a process."
If you need assistance applying, contact your accountant or legal advisor.