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.

YOU Tell the Bank the Amount of Your PPP Loan

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Disqualified? Thank you Politicians!

The Second Round PPP loan and the Targeted EIDL Advance both require businesses to prove their revenue reduced in 2020 from 2019 levels. But many businesses created a smart, creative “Pandemic Pivot” and their revenues are either the same as 2019 or maybe higher. Thus, they are disqualified!

We’re going to see a lot of folks have this problem. Frankly, we’re mad angry at the entire “25% and 30% reduction in revenue” required under the Second PPP and this targeted advance. It was a political compromise for the morons in government who didn’t want to step up and provide proper assistance to American Small Business Owners.

Why should you, or any other Small Business Owner be disqualified from a much-needed program simply because you were smart enough and creative enough to “pivot?”

That doesn’t take away the fact that COVID is ONGOING and the harm to your business—with or without a pivot—is ongoing.

It’s so ridiculous. And, yes, we’ve dedicated this to today’s “Trevor Rant Thursday!”

PPP Application: Who Underwrites The Loan Amount? THE BUSINESS OWNER DOES —> NOT THE BANK!

FYI: the banks, the loan officers, they are NOT supposed to re-underwrite your PPP loan application! They are simply supposed to verify you have submitted all pertinent documentation. Period. This is a common misconception!

The PPP program is a “self-certification” program, including calculating the math to arrive at the loan amount on the application.
Banks make us nuts in oh so many ways.

Schedule a call with us to review what is keeping you confused and possibly up and night wondering how to manage all of this nonsense!

Reconsideration Step by Step

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Please find below our point by point recommendations on how to to submit your Reconsideration request to SBA:

  • NEVER file a 2nd application. You must only submit a Reconsideration request.
  • Send an email to PDCRecons@sba.gov with your request
  • In the SUBJECT LINE put: “Reconsideration: EIDL #XXXXXXXX
  • In the body of the email state simply:
    I hereby request a Reconsideration of my EIDL Loan #XXXXX.  Please find attached the following documents:”
    (
    LIST YOUR DOCUMENTS)

Documents to include:

  • Credit Authorization letter (see below)
  • Credit Explanation letter (see below)
  • IRS 4506T
  • SBA Form 2202 Schedule of Liabilities
  • Business Plan summary (see below)
  • Business Revenue Projection (see below)
  • VOIDED check
  • 2019 Federal tax return (all pages)
  • 2020 DRAFT tax return (all pages; indicate DRAFT)
  • Clear, color scan of front and back of Driver’s License

Your Reconsideration letter should be SUPER SIMPLE. Don’t overload the Loan Officer with details of your struggle.
Keep your explanation to a few concise sentences, such as:
My business was a new enterprise. We were beginning to produce and sell product when COVID-19 caused a severe economic injury.  We have pivoted our Business Plan to adapt to the challenging circumstances of the pandemic (see attached Business Plan Summary and Revenue Projection). We need assistance from the SBA EIDL program to help us to move forward and survive the pandemic. If we do not receive this assistance we will likely fail as a business. If we fail, our employees will be out of work and our business will no longer contribute to the fabric of the American economic community.

  • CREDIT AUTHORIZATION wording: “I hereby authorize SBA to obtain an updated credit report for my EIDL Reconsideration.
  • CREDIT EXPLANATION: Do not discuss your credit score.  Simply address the challenges in life and/or business that affected your ability to pay credit accounts on time.  For example: “In early 2019 I experienced severe financial crisis due to (DIVORCE/MEDICAL/JOB LOSS/ETC).  I have worked to improve my credit.
    KEEP your explanation short, and concise. The Loan Officer will not “judge” you; they simply require an acknowledgment  of your previous credit history problems.
  • Business Plan Summary: Keep it concise and explain the changes you made to adapt to the pandemic and how your business will succeed with these same challenges over the coming 12-24 months.
  • Business Revenue Projections: Broken down by Quarter with annual totals for the next 12 months.
  • SBA Form 2202

Be sure to include on EACH explanation letter your full name, Business name, Business address, EIN and EIDL #.

Sign and date EACH document, including tax returns. WET signatures are preferred.

Next steps after submitting:

After 5 calendar days, call SBA to confirm receipt. At that time SBA Agent might give you feedback on status, but probably too soon.
Be sure to check SPAM folder as SBA emails often wind up there
Be patient with the process. Timelines for Reconsiderations can be all over the map: days, or weeks, or months.  Patience and persistence are the key characteristics of success with SBA EIDL Reconsiderations.

I hope you find this information useful!  If this process seems overly complicated or onerous, our Consulting program covers all aspects of Disaster Relief Financing, including Reconsiderations, and PPP loans, State and Local Grants and any other Stimulus programs to help a business to survive this horrible disaster.

Schedule an appointment to review how we can assist taking your mind off the minutia and the distress out of your day.

Frustrated with Calling the SBA

We know how frustrating it is to spend time and energy following up with the SBA on the status of Your EIDL loan or Reconsideration request!

We’re sharing our experiences from having worked on dozens of EIDL loans and our interactions with SBA Agents. We want to you to know you’re not alone in your frustration, but also to help you to understand how the system works.

1. WE LOVE SBA AGENTS! Every call we experience an SBA Agent who is very professional and eager to help business owners obtain the EIDL financing they need to survive this pandemic.

2. SBA Loan Officers are, to quote an SBA Agent, “Working 15 hour days” on loan requests and reconsideration requests.

3. Okay, once you understand the value of the intrepid SBA Agents and how enthusiastic and hard-working they are, let’s discuss the frustrations of follow up.

4. We did a video on “How To Speak With An SBA Agent” we recommend you watch that for tips on how to make your follow up call.

5. Next, know that SBA Agents don’t always have a complete picture on your loan status. Their system has notes about your file’s progress with “Codes.” We don’t know what those codes are, but let’s hypothesize that a typical code could be something like this: “9837: IRS Form received” or “9822: Email sent to Applicant”.

Trevor has seen coding like this in his previous career as a Mortgage Banker. It’s an efficient way for a system to track the progress of a file.We’ve spoken to a couple of Agents who told us they don’t know what some of the Codes mean when a file is in the Reconsideration system.

6. Apparently, the Reconsideration Team works like a “Black-Ops” enterprise. SBA Agents can’t speak with them and their Codes can’t be deciphered by the SBA Agent you call for a status.

7. Beware of general statements made by an SBA Agent such as “Reconsideration processing times are 5-6 weeks.” Another Agent told us that is not true; she’s seen Reconsiderations take substantially longer. She said the other Agent should never have made that statement. Moral of the story: Take anything an SBA Agent says on general matters with a grain of salt.

8. Don’t think you’re going to call and get very clear guidance. The SBA is STILL overwhelmed with the number of new and Reconsideration requests. There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of confusion, and long waiting times.

9. Remain consistently vigilant, and always polite. Check in regularly on your file. You won’t always get a definitive answer, but once in a while you might discover the SBA sent you an email that you didn’t know they sent! We’ve seen that happen…the email was sitting in the client’s spam folder. Other times, no such email was received. Moving parts. Confusion. Not quite controlled chaos.

10. Patience is a virtue. We know you need this money to help you survive this pandemic. We know the SBA is working diligently. We also know that sometimes some folks in an organization (Bank, SBA, etc.) get a file and it sits there waiting its turn because that person in the organization is overwhelmed, confused, slow, or, maybe, just maybe, even lazy. Think of the real world and how folks work in your business; the SBA is no different.

Contact us with questions or maybe with some good news you’ve experience contrary to our unabashedly vocal disappointment.

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call to review any complications you’re having with your disaster loans.

Can I Apply For Another EIDL LOAN?

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We received this question on Twitter:
I already received an EIDL loan. Am I eligible to apply for another?

The History of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) PROGRAM was that it was established back in 1953. It was created for individual disasters declared in any one of the United States causing homeowners and business owners an economic injury .

For example, this month it may be a tornado in Ohio county. Two weeks from now it could be a flood in the state of Mississippi.

COVID-19 created its own unique disaster. The Small Business Administration (SBA) responded by offering an EIDL loan for the pandemic. We make this distinction because we want to answer this question accurately.

The fact is, you can apply for  multiple EIDL loans, according to the SBA as long as they are for different disasters that have affected you.

In other words, if you received a COVID-19 EIDL loan in April, but your county was affected by a tornado in September (and it’s declared a disaster area), then you can apply for another EIDL for the tornado disaster. We confirmed this with the Small Business Administration (SBA).

You cannot apply for more than one EIDL LOAN for the same disaster. However, the SBA has a provision for up to 24 months (or two years after the disaster), for you to request additional funding above the amount of your original EIDL loan.

Leave a comment below or schedule an appointment with us for a free consultation.

Let us know if this is helpful and what other disaster financing questions you may have.

How to Apply for an EIDL Loan

We've compiled pages of Frequently Asked Questions for you as well as sample EIDL loan application for you to navigate the SBA disaster loan process.

Small Business Surviving COVID

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Some Lenders are beginning to open their doors, and their coffers, to businesses in need of working capital. However, the COVID-19 impact on lending guidelines has been brutal.

Lenders’ guidelines for these types of loans are typically tighter than pre-COVID, and every Lender requires a business applicant to provide a COVID Impact Statement.

Underwriters are taking a close look at how businesses plan to survive the continuing pandemic, especially diligent on management experience, cash reserves, equity, and business planning for pandemic-response.

Today, let’s look at some industries and businesses we expect to thrive and survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Logistics.  The pandemic panic in March and April exposed the weaknesses in supply chains, especially for groceries.  But the resiliency of the industry became quickly apparent with the exponential growth in demand for home delivery of goods from online shopping excursions as so many people found themselves locked-down at home.

Warehouses, sorting equipment, storage accessories, forklifts, robots, long haul trucks and delivery vehicles all have multiple sources of financing available to maintain and grow during the pandemic.

Professional Writers. Yes, writing for business, whether it’s email newsletters, website content, or White Papers, writers can thrive during COVID-19, especially with the trend towards remote working.

The downside to being a professional writer during this time is the influx of amateurs hustling for a work-at-home gig overwhelming the ranks of people you’re competing against.  If you’re a professional writer with Accounts Receivable from reputable business clients, there’s financing available to you to help you grow your business.  And, if you haven’t already applied, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is still available, even if you’re Self-Employed and you file a Schedule C as a Sole Proprietor.

Manufacturing.  Manufacturers can thrive during COVID-19 with three fundamentals in place:

  • Pivot-Planning
  • COVID safety protocols for employees
  • Supply surety

We know of one manufacturer who promptly converted his business to a COVID pandemic perspective by manufacturing components of PPE for health care frontline workers, notably plastic face shields.  He later enhanced his planning to create the decals for grocery stores that direct customers with one-way arrows and six foot social distancing location markers.

A manufacturing firm that can demonstrate its resiliency during the crisis, its ability to protect workers, and the confidence in obtaining necessary supplies for manufacturing processes is sure to find Lenders willing to provide financing, including for Accounts Receivable, Business Lines Of Credit, and Equipment financing.

Online-Motion.  We created this category at Aurora Consulting to define any kind of business demonstrating incredible pandemic-related-resiliency by either moving its business online where it didn’t exist before, or bolstering an existing online presence.  70% of Small Businesses have NO or minimal online presence.

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the need for your business to move online, to create product/service opportunities for consumers to engage with you remotely, and to integrate product deliveries with successful delivery systems.  The Small Business demonstrating sincere “Online-Motion” will find Lenders willing to provide financing providing a recently revised business plan demonstrates the strategies for success to survive.  Our firm Bridge Street Business Plans assists Small Businesses with this vital aspect.

Key Points of Financing Your “COVID-SURVIVING” Small Business:

  1. Management experience: substantial heft with more than three years’ experience.
  2. Equity: Whether it’s cash liquidity, real estate collateral, or other convertible equity, expect a Lender to want at least 30% equity.
  3. Credit. High credit scores, in excess of 700 for principals of the business.
  4. Cash Flow. Demonstrate how your business is cashflow positive during and through the pandemic.
  5. ROCK SOLID Pandemic Business Plan.  State the case for how your business is surviving now, how you will succeed through the crisis with a focus on strategies, profit centers, and an expanded vista that takes into account the new paradigm of limited customers in-store, remote work, online shopping, employee protections, supply-chain strength, and utilization of delivery options.

At Aurora Consulting we’re doing our part to help your Small Business survive COVID-19 with the following services:

  • Flat Fee Financing Consultation.  $750 gets your business a thorough review of your existing business plan, financial statements, and credit report.  We’ll then advise on the viability of finding Lender financing, whether that’s today, or in the future with our suggested strategies.
  • Bridge Street Business Plans.  We created Bridge Street Business Plans to assist our financing clients with a necessary component of a successful business credit application. We understand how to update your business plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic “pivot.”
  • Innovative Financing Products.  We know the Lenders who will lend and we know how they will lend.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. These loans are still available and we’ve become experts in this loan process.

Email us anytime to find out more about what financing products can help you become resilient to thrive beyond COVID.

 

Tough Questions from Lenders

The good news is that Banks and Lenders are opening up their coffers to provide business credit financing. The other news, that’s more anticipated than “bad,” is these Banks want business owners to answer some tough questions about preparedness for further pandemic-related challenges.

If you are applying for business financing—a loan or line of credit—that’s not Disaster Relief-related, here’s a sample from one of our Bankers on what to expect:

  • How has your business been impacted throughout the crisis?
  • How have you and your employees been affected? Your suppliers? Your customers?
  • What are your key priorities over the next 30/60/90 days?
  • How do you anticipate accomplishing these goals? What hurdles do you anticipate?

To achieve a successful response to your application, you should answer these questions with all appropriate gravitas and extreme detail.

  • The Bank wants to know that, should the pandemic-related lockdowns get tighter:
  • How have you planned to get through that?
  • Do you have cash reserves?
  • An employee-furlough action plan?
  • Do you have the ability to provide your services or products with a serious downturn in customer traffic (think early days of lockdown)?

Banks make loan decisions by assessing the risk on the credit profile of the Borrower. As with any aspect of a loan application, the COVID-19 pandemic has created another layer of risk for Banks. Your successful loan application will take that risk assessment into account as you prepare your application for submission by anticipating how to make a Bank/Lender get into a “comfort zone” about your ability to make payments on the loan as other challenges from the pandemic arise.

Reach out to discuss if your answers to these aforementioned questions would suffice. We are your advocate in the process.

Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.