Ambiguity and Uncertainty

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Ambiguity and uncertainty are not words that Small Business owners embrace in their daily vocabulary. Even fishing professionals, sailing the chilly vastness of the North Atlantic in search of Cod, Haddock and Mackerel, don’t use those words. They set out on their fishing forays with a sense that they will find fish using their experience and knowledge, helped along by some modern technology.

Call the SBA with a question that requires a definitive answer, though, and you get an uncertain or ambiguous answer. Call multiple SBA representatives with the same question and get multiple answers.

Small Business owners have come to rely on the SBA during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a vital financial lifeline to keep their businesses alive as they struggle with the various challenges of the pandemic disaster. When a Small Business owner asks questions, whether they’re general questions about the EIDL process, or specific questions about the Small Business’ EIDL application, they expect specific and hopefully detailed answers.

Question to the SBA: “Now that the loan will be declined for Reconsideration because the IRS hasn’t processed the tax return, how long does the applicant have to file another Reconsideration?”

I don’t even remember what the answer was because it was so vague and ambiguous.

“Good morning SBA, what is the current turnaround time, on average, for EIDL Reconsiderations?” or
“Hello SBA, if I file a Reconsideration request today, how soon can I expect that my file will be assigned to a Loan Officer at the Reconsideration team?”

The Small Business owner cannot get reasonable or certain answers to these questions.

Trevor worked in retail electronics in the 1980’s in customer service. When a customer brought a VCR or stereo system in for repair, he could provide the customer with a reasonable expectation for turnaround time for their repair. Even if they had to order parts for the device to repair it, they could know within a reasonable range of time, when those parts were due to arrive and when the technician could be expected to complete the repair.

They knew the repair intake process, the repair tech servicing queue, the quality control check process, and even when the product was on the truck for delivery back to the store for customer pickup. And this was with electronics repairs where anything could happen with the electronic device once it was on the repair bench and the tech tried to solve the repair problem.

Customers had a reasonable expectation to receive unambiguous information about the repair process.

“Hi there SBA! Can you please give me a status on my EIDL Reconsideration file?”
The Answer most often: “In process.”

What does that mean? Where in the process is the file? Has a Loan Officer reviewed the tax returns, read the transcripts from the IRS, etc.???

As a Mortgage Banker, Trevor knew every step of the way where the Applicant’s file was in the loan process: appraisal on order, appraisal received, verifications received, submitted to Underwriting, quality control review, clear for closing, and etcetera and etcetera.

While writing this blog, one of our clients for Reconsideration sent me a text message,
“This is like the old Heinze ketchup commercial, ‘Anticipation, it’s making me wait.’ Guessing no news is good news?”

When a Small Business owner begins their business day, they do so with a clear understanding of how their business operates, what they have to do to achieve their business goals, and their certainty in their methods for success. When they run up against the constant lack of clarity and certainty with their urgent EIDL financing requests at the SBA, their COVID crisis anxiety increases exponentially.

This is unacceptable.

The Small Business Administration, in its mission to advocate for Small Business, needs to do a spectacularly better job of providing clarity and specificity and to remove ambiguity and uncertainty from the process.

If you would like to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to review, resolve, ruminate about your EIDL loan, please schedule a call here.

3 Confusing Errors with the SBA

1. Was your EIDL Loan Declined for “Unverifiable Information?”

We’ve seen the latest SBA reaction to new EIDL applications and EIDL Reconsiderations: They decline the loan due to unverifiable information. Based on conversations we’ve had with SBA personnel and documents we’ve submitted, this appears to be mostly the SBA’s way of preventing fraud on these loans by requesting additional levels of documentation, essentially to prove it’s a real and legitimate business and not a fake farm in Maine.

Your best course of action follows the advice we continually give: Be patient and persistent with the process. We know you’re desperate for the money and in our professional opinion, SBA is overreacting to fraud by making all the legitimate businesses jump through hoops to get this desperately needed funding.

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Be prepared to submit the following:

  • 2019 tax return
  • Signed IRS 4506T
  • SBA Form 2202 Schedule of Liabilities
  • Driver’s License
  • VOIDED check

Be prepared for other possible verifiable information about your business such as:

  • Articles of Formation
  • Proof of filing your EIN with the IRS or DBA certificates or other registrations with your town, city, county or State
2. How to submit your Driver’s License to the SBA for your EIDL loan or Reconsideration

Since December, we’re seeing more and more that SBA Loan Officers are requesting an image of your Driver’s License by way of an actual smartphone photo that you snap and email directly to the Loan Officer. In other words, they won’t accept a PDF. As with our other video about “unverifiable information” this appears to be yet another level of fraud prevention on the part of SBA to confirm that you are a legitimate and real person.

3. Wet Signatures and your SBA EIDL Reconsideration

More and more since February, on the many Reconsiderations we’re working on, the SBA loan officers are requesting an ink or “wet” signature on forms and documents you submit. In other words, they’re not accepting electronic signatures. For the average Small Business Owner, this might not be much of a hassle, unless you don’t have access to a printer and scanner.

Many folks these days don’t. It’s certainly inconvenient for our process at Aurora Consulting since we’re busy assisting our clients on their Reconsiderations and preparing their documents and sending to them for electronic signatures so they can keep running their business to keep their business alive during the pandemic.

As we have always stated in our documents submission videos for the SBA Reconsiderations: Be sure you sign and date your forms and now, more than ever, sign with a pen, scan it and submit it.

Information keeps changing because procedures keep changing.

You are welcome to book a free 15 minute consultation with our office to review anything that is keeping you up at night or has you so confused, you’re not sure what to do.

Tracking Receipts for Your EIDL Funding

The question posed by an anxious Small Business Owner: “Do we have to turn in receipts for everything we spend on the advanced GRANT? If I get it, I’m scared to make sure I document everything properly that I need to. How are you spending yours? I’m unsure where I can use it and what’s off limits.

Even though the “Advance” technically doesn’t have to be repaid, it’s still considered part of the EIDL program by SBA.

Therefore, in common sense terms you should keep records and receipts. In general business terms: Why would you NOT keep records and receipts? These are tax deductible items after all since they’re expenses against your business income. AND…tracking income and expenses is an essential monitoring tool to grow a business.

How can you know if you’re earning and growing if you’re not tracking income and expenses?
These are the reasons why it makes perfect business sense to track receipts and to keep good records.

Our opinion: There’s been so much confusion around these programs, mostly due to SBA’s terrible messaging and lack of clarity on these very questions. It’s disgraceful that we all have to hunt around the internet to collect “anecdotal” evidence from other Small Business Ownres to educate ourselves about the important fine points of these programs.

There should be a simple to read guide on the SBA website that anticipates and answers these questions.

We’ve had clients telling me since last April how they’re “terrified” of using their EIDL monies incorrectly. That’s an absolute shame.

In the early days we were more forgiving of SBA’s failures because, well, it was COVID and EVERYONE EVERYWHERE was overwhelmed. But a year into this thing you’d think SBA would have gotten its act together, especially in the light of their allocating SBA staff to contacting EIDL Borrowers for “Resolution Letters” and “Hazard Insurance” (good luck getting a definition of what that’s supposed to be!).

How about, instead of wasting tax dollars on staff salaries for that nonsense SBA allocated those folks to processing the loans? Or that they invested tax payers’ money on creating online materials that’s accessible to every Borrower and interested prospective Borrower with clear, detailed information on the EIDL and PPP programs?

Short answer: The terms of the EIDL Agreement are clear: receipts and records can be requested by SBA in the future.

Seriously, if we ran our respective businesses this way, we’d be OUT of business.