The Problem with Crowdsourced Knowledge

We believe crowdsourced knowledge can be useful for two reasons ONLY.

    1. Ascertaining general knowledge on a topic with which you’re unfamiliar.  An example is changing a tire on a car.  If you’ve never changed a tire on a car and you either ignore the instruction manual in the glove compartment or don’t have one (you can download it online in most cases), then crowd-sourcing other people’s experiences with changing tires can be useful to the extent that you’ll learn special tips or come to understand the general concepts: jack, bolts, tire pressure, etc.
    2. Obtaining referrals to experts.  After learning of other people’s experiences with changing a tire, you may decide there’s too much at stake—such as the car falling off the jack. For this reason, you may decide to not undertake the job yourself.  You seek out advice from expert providers of tire-changing services.

Both of these concepts are valuable, but should only be used as a starting point if you have absolutely no knowledge or experience of the task or information you’re researching.  Or, if the task is complicated and requires true expert knowledge of the subtleties and nuance of the information.

The starting point of using crowdsourced knowledge can become a “fork in the road” to move forward with the activity you’ve been researching.

You can choose to take the knowledge and seek out an instruction manual for the car you wish to change the tire on.  You can then do the work yourself, guided by the instructions created by an expert—in our example, the vehicle manufacturer.

Or you can choose to conduct additional research on the experts you’ve seen recommended:

    1. You might look up each expert’s online reviews through other platforms.
    2. You might seek out the expert’s professional credentials through government regulatory authorities or check out the professional biography of the expert.
    3. You might ask your trusted circle of friends, family and colleagues if they have used any of the recommended experts to obtain further information and enhance your research.

Using these additional activities, the crowdsourced research can lead you to find a high-quality expert in the area you’re researching.

But there’s a small alleyway off the side of the road where the “fork” in the road lies. We call that “shortcut alley” because too many people don’t want to take on the extra work necessary to find the best results for the information they seek.  Instead, they want the shortest way to solve their problem. 

They’ll take the crowdsourced information they’ve obtained at face value as the be-all and end-all of expertise.

They fail to use the crowdsourced knowledge solely as a starting point, and then do the extra work necessary to gather data and inform the ultimate decision with comprehensive research.

In our opinion, this is a disaster in the making more often than not.  Yes, the crowdsourced information can often be very useful, such as learning to add a dollop of butter to your oatmeal at breakfast.  But when it comes to more complicated topics, the crowdsourced expertise is anything but expert.

We learned this through the pandemic as we sought to provide free expert information to small business owners trying to navigate the United States Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 disaster loan program.  Often, we’d encounter business owners telling us that our information was wrong. They would challenge us with the information they’d crowdsourced.  Our pushback was to say that the experience of one person was unique to that person and that the loan program was too complicated to rely on the one experience of one business owner with their particular scenario.

We continue to encounter these crowdsourced-fake experts as many small businesses fail or continue to face challenges repaying these COVID-19 disaster loans.  The crowdsourced-fake experts would have people believe they can simply walk away from the loan, to either ignore the consequences or, worse, to go about their days thinking, “The government will never come after me.

Because we rail against this terrible advice, we’re sometimes accused of being fear-mongers so we can sell our products and services.

While it’s true that we’re a small business and we have products to sell and services for hire to earn a living, we also give away volumes of free expert advice through our YouTube videos, free downloadable guides, and responses to video comments. Our expertise is derived from our respective careers in the financial services field, from the work we did during the pandemic, and from the ongoing work we do to assist small business owners with their interactions with the SBA post-pandemic.

In today’s New York Times, an article about a basketball player’s dream of owning a home in Canada provides probably the most succinct insight into the reasons why simply “crowdsourcing” your expert knowledge is a failed concept if you don’t do the additional work. This is a tale of the worst aspects of bad crowdsourced experience, and the shortcut mentality that led to a financial disaster.

In the article, the basketball player must vacate the house he purchased because nefarious characters continually show up at the house looking for the previous occupant.  The previous occupant is a person named Aiden Pleterski, a self-styled “crypto king” who declared bankruptcy in 2022, while owing 26.8 million Canadian dollars to more than 150 investment clients.

He’s under investigation for the massive financial fraud involving monies that he is alleged to have stolen from investors.

Pleterski had no professional or educational experience or expertise. In this quote from the article, you can see where Pleterski learned how to become a financial whiz: “Mr. Pleterski said he first became interested in cryptocurrency after using it to make purchases for video games and began trading it when he was still in high school. He started out with money from his family and his earnings as a part-time baseball umpire. His knowledge of trading and financial markets, he said, came from “YouTube videos, Google, quick Google searches.”

“The business, Mr. Pleterski said, operated through his personal bank accounts until December 2021, when he set up his company at the suggestion of a former landlord. His only record-keeping, he said, consisted of his texts and WhatsApp messages with customers. While Mr. Pleterski did create spreadsheets for a handful of customers who demanded them, he acknowledged that the investment return they showed was just “a general ballpark figure” he came up with after looking at his bank accounts.”

We understand that the nuances of some activities, such as interacting with a complicated program such as the SBA’s COVID-19 loan program can make the search for expert knowledge more challenging.  But we’ve too often heard from people—as recently as yesterday, in fact—how they wish they’d found us sooner.

The small business owners we spoke to yesterday are not “shortcut” people by any stretch of the imagination. They had a question during the pandemic about how to properly use the funds their business received from the COVID-19 EIDL program. They sought out expert advice and received a referral to an expert.  But that professional ultimately gave them bad advice, so bad in fact, their business might be in legal jeopardy should the US Government investigate the use of the funds and then discover the improper utilization.

Based on our conversation, we know these business owners were so desperate to get an answer to their question, that they failed to go to the next step of taking their crowdsourced referral to investigate further the background of the expert. They did not read online reviews of that expert’s professional services or acumen.  They did not research the expert’s professional credentials or professional biography.  They simply accepted the crowdsourced recommendation, contacted the expert, and followed his bad advice.

Too often the desperation to resolve a problem quickly can lead to taking shortcuts.

When it comes to your COVID-19 EIDL, there are no shortcuts. The program is complicated and there are substantial real consequences to making bad choices and bad decisions. Whether you need to make a simple change to your business or if you’re facing challenges in repaying the loan, take the time to thoroughly research and locate the expertise you need to make the best decisions possible.

If you don’t invest the time to thoroughly research, if you take a “shortcut” and accept the crowdsourced knowledge as the ultimate expertise, you may discover the car falling on top of you as you try to change the tire with the badly sourced fake expert advice.  

And it’s going to hurt. A lot.

17 Q&As from Our YouTube Channel

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Linda Rey and I set out to provide thoughtful, truthful, and accurate information to struggling Small Business Owners.  Literally, on March 18, 2020, we discussed how scammers, sharks, bad bloggers, and click-baiters, would emerge from the slimy depths of the internet to give bad information, poor advice, and misleading directions.

We’ve been answering questions ever since. During the pandemic, while we processed hundreds of EIDL applications for a total of $70M in approved funding, we answered questions on free phone calls, email inquiries, and our live YouTube broadcasts.

We’re passionate about Small Business and we want to do our small part to demonstrate our commitment to their success. Here’s a sampling of recent comments and questions we’ve received in response to a variety of our YouTube videos.

Q: The only choice, it seems, is to bk the loan if you truly can’t pay. I’d say ignoring sounds like a bad idea. Many of these youtubers have people thinking forgiveness is coming. One was cheering because he heard people saying loans were being charged off. He has no idea that’s not a good thing, yet he pumped that nonsense.

Our Response:

The Federal government has a long memory.” That’s why ignoring your COVID-19 EIDL is a BAD idea!

Even if you’re making your payments, you might be inadvertently ignoring simple basics to comply with the terms of the Loan Agreement you signed. Things like submitting annual financial statements or notifying SBA of changes to your business. Failing to comply is literally considered a DEFAULT by SBA in the Loan Agreement!!!!

Our Post-Closing EIDL Blueprint has all the info you need to remain compliant and NOT IGNORE the COVID-19 EIDL!

As for filing bankruptcy: this is another one of those topics tossed around carelessly by the pseudo-experts. While filing bankruptcy could potentially discharge the debt, that means you may have to ALSO file a personal bankruptcy. AND THAT MEANS starting all over with your credit. Or, even worse, having to include your other personal assets and liabilities in your personal BK just because you listened to some fool pretending to give expert advice!

There are other ways to manage a challenge with payments. Our Post-Closing EIDL Blueprint discusses remediation in depth.

Q: I’m closing my small business down due to health reasons. There’s no personal guarantee. Am I personally affected?
 

Our Response:

Trevor and I are truly sorry to hear about your having to close your business! We have seen so many small business owners suffering during these uncertain economic times.
 
You should be aware that, even absent a personal guarantee, according to the SBA’s Loan Authorization and Agreement (LAA), you may still have a personal liability for a defaulted loan. Meaning, SBA could potentially come after you for repayment of the debt. This is one of those murky areas where SBA’s poor communications fails to provide clarity.

If a business has a COVID-19 EIDL and is closing down, you must contact SBA, whether or not there’s a personal guarantee. SBA has a process for every situation and challenge, and closing a business is no different.

Q: You need to go back and research personal property. It clear states that you guaranteed the loan . With your personal assets. So that’s what my attorney’s said and my CPA if the loan is over 200 thousand

Our Response: 

1. We created our Post-Closing Blueprint to delve deeper into complicated concepts like this.  If you purchase the guide today, you will receive free updates through December 2024. We’re updating the guide occasionally due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 EIDL requirements.  In our recent experience, SBA is literally changing the rules on the LAA, and, we know that internally they are still working out procedures for the new challenges facing the COVID-19 EIDL Borrowers, including defaulting loans, hardship accommodations, and the concepts of personal guarantee and personal liability.

2. SBA’s communications for this complicated topic are terrible. As with so much about the SBA program, it is nearly impossible to get clear guidance on a challenge or an answer to a question.  Your Attorney and your CPA are reading this one way, and I’m reading it in a different way because of my background as a Loan Officer.

The other element to your comments is that it is difficult to properly explain these complicated concepts in our videos. We do our best, but our Post-Closing Blueprint provides a more comprehensive discussion on these topics.

Our intention with our guide is to provide background to help the Small Business Owner come to an understanding of complicated SBA concepts instead of solely relying on a “pat” answer to a complicated question posed to an attorney or CPA, which is, IMHO, what happened in this case.

Our guide gives you all the information and tools you need to manage your COVID-19 EIDL. We made our best effort to untangle the complications of SBA’s confusing communications.

Q: ⁠what if you have less than 20% ownership but also have a personal guarantee w loan over 200,000?

Our Response: 

We define and explain the personal guarantee in great depth in our expert guidebook “Post-Closing Blueprint” but a short answer is this: personal guarantee means the guarantor(s) (business owner(s) with 20% or greater ownership interest) will take over the responsibility to repay the loan in the event the business entity cannot make payments.  The assets of the business owners are not considered collateral for the purpose of the EIDL, but those personal assets can be seized in legal proceedings that result in a judgment.

Click to Watch Video Where we Answer This Question
Click to Watch Video Where we Answer This Question

Q: Thank you for your response. However, I do know of a loan over $200,000 with (4) personal guarantees. None of the members personally own more than 20% but collectively own over 51% of the company. Each name is and was included in the loan and it was approved. Was this a mistake to have the loan issued in the first place? Are the members liable as a collection even though they don’t personally own more than 20%. Thanks Again guys love your videos.

Our Response: 

I often saw where an SBA Loan Officer would request a “list” of all owners with less than 20% ownership and require that all ownership percentages total out to 100%.  But the “list” did not require SSNs or similar personal information, only a full name and percentage of ownership.  The fact that a person with <20% has their name on a “list” with an EIDL application does not mean they are on the loan.

If they were required to sign the EIDL LAA, that’s a whole other story, and likely the application was prepared incorrectly.  If so, SBA probably didn’t question it as so many of those early applications went through an automated process.

Q: Would the same apply to a sole prop business?

Our Response:

It’s not unusual for Small Business Owners with COVID-19 EIDLs to express confusion and concern about various requirements and restrictions imposed by this SBA program.

That’s why we created our comprehensive expert guidebook “Post-Closing Blueprint” as your single source “go-to” reference guide before you interact with the SBA.  We urge Small Business Owners to purchase the guide now because the EIDL is a 30-year loan and many questions and issues will come up.

If a Sole Proprietor has the equipment they use for the business enterprise, then the equipment can be considered collateral.

Click to Watch Video Where we Answer This Question

Other “intangible” assets such as Accounts Receivables, payments due on contracts, etc., are considered collateral. Our guidebook delves into the definition of collateral and business assets in detail.

Click to Watch Video Where we Answer This Question

Q: Any chance they may extend the 10% hardship payment longer than 1 year?

Our Response:

The SBA’s hardship accommodation is actually six months, not one year.  And, as per the SBA’s comments on their website, at their discretion, SBA may extend a hardship accommodation an additional six months.

In fact, the EIDL program generally allows for SBA to provide multiple hardship accommodations throughout the life of the 30-year loan!

As you may know from watching our YouTube videos, we only focus on facts, and we tend to demur from pure speculation. We don’t want to disappoint, that’s why we don’t speculate and why we prefer to focus on facts.

That’s why we stridently urge Small Business Owners to aggressively communicate with their U.S. Senators and Congresspeople to implore the federal government to both reauthorize the SBA and to enhance remediation for Small Business Owners with the COVID-19 EIDLs.

Congress controls the process!  Let them know how you feel and about the help you need to continue your recovery from the pandemic!

Q: The issue…for me at least…the economy is still crap. And my business has not recovered 100% so my income has declined and cost of living has increased. I really fear I will have to BK at some point.

Our Response:

We’re always disappointed to hear how Small Business Owners continue to struggle in this post-pandemic era.

We believe the U.S. Congress can certainly do more to relieve the suffering by providing some guidance to SBA to either increase deferments for the COVID-19 EIDLs, or to lower the interest rate, or, heavens-to-Betsy, offer FORGIVENESS!!!!

In the meantime, with our experience over decades in business ourselves, through all kinds of economic “storms” including recessions and the global mortgage meltdown, maybe we can offer you some kind and positive advice?

First, Trevor, a retired Loan Officer and “student of economic history” believes the economy is doing much better than most folks believe!  Yes, he knows that’s an unusual take, but it’s based on actual economic metrics, and ignores all those confusing media messages (you know, “There’s a recession coming!” “No recession!” “Is it recession yet?” and blah-blah-blah).

Second, from our own experiences, we believe that, when the going gets tough, the tough get going by focusing on ONE THING: Marketing!  We have so often seen how small businesses suffer at the hands of their own failures to increase marketing efforts.  In our opinion, the best way to overcome most business challenges is to get out there and try to find more customers.  The only way to do that is to invest 85% of your time and effort (and money) on MARKETING.

We can personally attest to how our increased marketing efforts have helped us to build our new business initiative after the SBA’s COVID-19 program ended, effectively “putting us out of business” in May 2022.

Marketing works! We truly hope you’ll find a way to overcome the business challenges facing your small business and that filing for bankruptcy will only be a distant and unrealized concept!

Q: I feel its vital folks out there get a sense for what is really happened to small businesses and what heartache and hardship we were put through. I mean the sba can cancel the interest and allow businesses to pay back the loan at hardship accommodation mode for 5 years. This is going to take a long time for mom and pop places to recover from. And county level officials need to be proactive and hold urgency when small businesses get their licenses taken away. We cant wait for legislation for next year for this to help. We need help at real time! Both parties need to mature up.

Our Response:

SBA cannot cancel interest and is not currently allowing hardship accommodations for 5 years.

We discuss SBA’s hardship accommodation and other loan remediation policies, including providing strategies for Small Business Owners to negotiate and communicate with SBA in our comprehensive Post-Closing Blueprint guidebook.

We stridently urge businesses with the COVID-19 EIDL to purchase our guide as their “GO-TO” reference before interacting with the SBA.

Q: Does the SBA automatically put a lien on you assets if the loan amount is 50k ? If I am current would their be a lien on my property?

Our Response:

We answer this question in detail in our Post-Closing Blueprint.  We encourage business owners with a COVID-19 EIDL to purchase our guide as the “GO-TO” reference before interacting with SBA for any questions or concerns about the EIDL.

The short answer: SBA put a UCC lien against the business assets for a COVID-19 EIDL if the loan amount was greater than $25,000.00.

There is no lien against your personal assets.

The lien is there from the beginning of getting the loan; they don’t put additional liens later on.

Q: They accused me of fraud six ways from Sunday, they denied my loan by accusing me of fraud, isn’t that negligence and character defamation? They did the same to hundreds of legitimate SBOs, so I’m wondering why we’re not banding together and filing a class action…I was shocked at how focused they were on fraud, against all logic and common sense, and they refused to hear me out or entertain the idea that they were wrong. Maybe the reason they’re making such a big deal about the alleged d fraud is because they finally realized they were actually negligent AND defamed innocent people’s characters, but don’t want to get sued…?

Our Response:

Call SBA Disaster Customer Service at 1-833-853-5638. Explain briefly the history of your application, focusing on these four key elements:

ONE: You Signed the Loan Agreement for a COVID-19 EIDL (You should have this in front of you on the call with the SBA Disaster Loan number located in the upper left hand corner of the agreement)

TWO: You never received the funds
THREE: You were told your file was flagged for “fraudulent activity”
FOUR: You want to confirm that you do NOT have a COVID-19 EIDL loan with SBA that needs to be repaid.

The SBA representative will transfer to the servicing center if a loan was funded. You will need to repeat your story again, but your goal is to ensure you have NO DEBT for the COVID-19 EIDL program.

Please note that we offer a one-hour phone consultation where Trevor will call SBA with you on the line if you prefer to have our expert professional assistance. You can schedule the paid consultation call here.

Q: ….so I get it…that’s why I continue to make monthly payments. Yet I wonder if defaults reach a serious level what in your opinion will Congress or the SBA attempt to do to prevent their defaults from snow balling well beyond any foreseeable limits? Obviously the US government isn’t benevolent unless you are a too big to jail bank but are the bureaucrats that heartless?

Our Response:

We literally have no idea how SBA and/or Congress will react to a high number of COVID-19 EIDL defaults. There’s no true precedent, except for maybe Hurricane Katrina where a portion of the SBA disaster loans were ultimately forgiven thanks to a strenuous campaign by political representatives from Louisiana.

Currently, the mood in the Senate, at least, led by Senator Joni Ernst, seems to be to demand that SBA aggressively enforce collections on ALL COVID-19 EIDLs.  There does not seem to be a mood to accommodate and support Small Business Owners, the so-called “backbone of the American economy.”

The best course of action we can recommend is this:
1: Begin a constant communications campaign with your United States Senators and your local Congressional representative.

2: Demand that Congress create a response to these defaulted loans and future defaulting loans to help business owners emerge as undamaged as possible, including forgiveness, loan remediation to include longer hardship accommodation periods (currently six months), and potentially reducing the interest rate on the COVID-19 EIDLs.

3: Demand that Congress reauthorize the SBA and EXPAND the SBA with funding and expanded Congressional guidance.

Q: I have an eidl loan that was $50,000. I am a sole prop, i do not have or own any business assets, did not put up any collaterall , i rent an apt, finance my car and basically have a dead seasonal service based self employment type ” business”. I cannot pay this loan back – what will happen?

Our Response:

We’re so very sorry to hear about your situation!  So many small businesses continue to suffer due to the economic ravages of the pandemic.

We know that SBA is wrangling internally with issues about defaulting COVID-19 EIDL loans. Their procedures are evolving frequently.

When all is said and done, even without collateral and without a personal guarantee, a defaulted federal debt is a serious problem. We address this issue in our comprehensive expert guide, the Post-Closing Blueprint.

We’re hoping you and other folks in your situation will rely on our guide as the primary reference source BEFORE you interact with the SBA to try to resolve the defaulted loan situation.

One word of caution: a lot of the “urban mythology” out there would have folks believing “the SBA is never coming after me and my little business” leading them to simply ignore the debt obligation.   We believe this is a tragically horrible strategy.  The federal government has a long memory and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of their collection efforts, ever.

Especially as several US Senators are urgently pressing the SBA to aggressively enforce collection on these debts, even those loans for less than $100,000!

Don’t ignore the debt; contact the SBA to work out a resolution. Use our guidebook to prepare you before you contact the SBA. We wish you all the very best in this terrible situation!

Q: a general question about ERC and worry about being scammed

Our Response:

In our experience, the IRS sends the refundable tax credit to THE BUSINESS, not to the ERC consultant. Hopefully, you did not give the consultant access to your bank account.  

The ERC consultant on our Referral Partners team gets paid by the Client AFTER the Client receives the IRS refund and the consultant has to trust the Client to pay the consultant fee.  

The IRS scam warning focuses on consultants who take fees upfront and/or who improperly process ERC requests, including with incorrect documentation or for ineligible businesses. Get our FREE ERC Guide.

We created a FREE ERC guide. Click on image to download.

Q: So what are my options if I’m not able to pay back my loan? I’m sure there are thousands of people out there that cannot pay these loans back

Our Response:

We’re sorry you’re experiencing difficulties with repayment of the COVID-19 EIDL.  So many Small Businesses suffered through the pandemic and subsequent economic difficulties.

We’re not sure what “…not able to pay back my loan” means, whether your business failed, or you’re still in business and cannot afford to make any payments at all, or if you need temporary assistance with a reduced payment until revenue improves.

We tried to anticipate all three of these situations and more in our Post-Closing Blueprint where we provide detailed guidance to answer questions like yours.  

We assembled our expert comprehensive guidebook based on our experience with SBA processing, our experience as financial services professionals, and over the past 9 months, speaking with Small Business Owners and the SBA to get the right answers to questions like these.

Our guidebook gives you strategic solutions including WHO and HOW to call at SBA, SBA forms you might need, TEMPLATES for submitting requests to SBA, and Step-By-Step instructions to help you resolve challenges with the SBA loan program.

Keep in mind that, while a business may be unable to pay these COVID-19 EIDLs, these are legal debts and SBA will require repayment in one way or another, either now or in the future through debt collection practices.  In other words, these loans are not simply a matter of “walking away.” Hope that helps!

Q: I am in the trucking business and with everything and the stimulus that I borrowed, it is going badly for me and I cannot pay the full monthly payment, if this economy does not improve, then they can do what they want with me and what I have been able to achieve so far

Our Response:

We are sorry to hear your business is still struggling.  The harsh realities of the pandemic combined with the following economic issues such as supply chain and inflation is certainly impacting millions of Small Business Owners.

SBA will allow you to pay a reduced payment of as little as 10% of the monthly payment (must be a minimum of $25.00) for a six-month period.  You can request this hardship accommodation on your MySBA portal.

If the issues are more urgent, then we recommend using our Post-Closing Blueprint to guide you on how to call the SBA, who to speak to, and the SBA’s forms and process.

5 FAQs about the SBA EIDL Loan

square thumbnail to promote a live youtube show. Linda Rey and trevor are leaning on each other and the caption reads: EIDL UPDATE: COMMON SENSE or Chaos.

Click to download this free guide.
Click to download this free guide.

There are five sections in this post that address various issues people inquire about with us on an almost daily basis.

  1. Our Post-Closing EIDL Blueprint
  2. COVID-19 EIDLs are not Forgivable
  3. Fake Forgiveness Freaks
  4. IRS Form 982
  5. Our consulting services to assist COVID-19 EIDL Borrowers 

Our Post-Closing EIDL Blueprint is our comprehensive, expert guide that outlines all SBA EIDL obligations, restrictions and questions that may come up with the COVID-19 EIDL.

One of the FAQs we get on an almost daily basis is when a Borrower is having difficulties making payments. We address this in our Blueprint.

All the topics covered, in our Blueprint, can be found in the table of contents including “Make A Payment Toward Your EIDL.” You can then click through to “Hardship Accommodation.”

The navigation link takes you directly to the section on how to request lower payments.

COVID-19 EIDLs are not Forgivable

If you call SBA’s customer service number, as Trevor did this morning, the initial menu prompt states the loans are NOT Forgivable.

You can request a reduced payment by as much as 90% (see the section in our guide about “Hardship Accommodation”) for six months. It may be possible to request additional extensions (subject to SBA approval.)

A business owner cannot pause payments.

 

 

 

 

SBA’s position on difficulties repaying the COVID-19 EIDLs is this: They expect Borrowers to pay, no matter the circumstances. This includes the ever-so-drastic event of a business partner embezzling the disbursed funds, which happened to one of our clients.

You can learn more here about how we found out that our client’s “partner” was indicted today.

Fake Forgiveness Freaks

We know there is lots and lots of chatter on the internet and elsewhere about these loans being Forgivable, and apparently all kinds of misinformation from alleged “experts” on how to manipulate the SBA system to make the loan Forgivable.

These “fake experts” have folks chasing fantasies to get their loans Forgiven, including a new class of scammers offering to negotiate an “Offer In Compromise” with SBA–for a FEE of course.

SBA’s internal procedures are still evolving. That’s why we provide FREE UPDATES to our Post-Closing Blueprint through December 2024 so you have the latest and most accurate information about the program.

IRS Form 982

This form does not pertain to Forgiveness of an SBA COVID-19 EIDL. This form is used to reduce the tax liability when a person or business receives a “discharge” of indebtedness (such as settling a collection account for less than the full balance because the amount of settled reduction is considered taxable income disclosed on IRS Form 1099-C).

From the IRS website: “Form 982 is used to determine, under certain circumstances described in section 108, the amount of discharged indebtedness that can be excluded from gross income.

Our latest information, directly from reputable sources at SBA, is this: If a COVID-19 EIDL defaults, SBA will attempt to recover the debt, but they will ultimately transfer the defaulted debt to the IRS for collection. IRS then can collect through liens, wage and benefits garnishments, and tax refund seizures.

Our Consulting Services

We offer consulting services to assist businesses in navigating a variety of questions and challenges with their COVID-19 EIDLs. We have been assisting with these services since September of last year.

If a U.S.-based business is in need of our services to assist with their COVID-19 EIDL, we will prepare and send a consulting proposal that outlines the objectives, scope of work, estimated time to complete, and cost.  

 

NOTE: We also offer consulting services for Natural Disaster loans and general business activities. Click HERE for natural disaster consulting. 

 

Aside from our specific expertise with the program and familiarity with required procedures and forms, we’ve come to learn that many CPAs and attorneys are providing incorrect information to their clients about this program. They may mean well, but their ignorance of actual SBA protocols can be very harmful, in our opinion, to the business due to the misinformation they provide.

A CPA or an attorney may have general knowledge of the COVID-19 EIDL program. With good intentions to help their clients, we’ve seen how their answers are attempting to be helpful, but often miss the mark with specifics about some of the complicated challenges and SBA communications of this program.

Pretend you inherited your Great Uncle’s 1963 Jaguar E-Type.
Trevor at Lime Rock Park, CT where Paul Newman Used to Race
 
It needs maintenance, or maybe a repair. You take it to your local mechanic, the one who has changed the oil and rotated the tires on your 2001 Honda for the past 22 years.
 
With good intentions, your mechanic may attempt to help you with maintenance or repairs on the classic Jaguar.  
But a mechanic who specializes in Jaguars–especially old ones–is probably a better choice, don’t you think?
 
Does that help you better understand the difference between your CPA/Attorney and Aurora Consulting?
 
We processed hundreds of EIDL files during the pandemic to obtain $70M in approved funding. We gave away free advice about the program to thousands of Small Business Owners. We spoke to hundreds of SBA Agents.
 
Since September 2022, we’ve assisted dozens of Clients and others with questions and problems with their COVID-19 EIDLs.
 
  • How many COVID-19 EIDLs did your CPA/Attorney process?
  • How many SBA Agents have they spoken to?
  • Did they read the SBA’s EIDL SOP (all versions)?
Where are you going to take that Jaguar now?

Advice from Trevor the Loan Officer: Obey The Speed Limit!

Working on EIDL Reconsideration files for more than a year, we’ve learned the many reasons that loans have been declined and why many Small Business owners are continuing to have tremendous difficulty with the SBA EIDL process. Simply, it’s mistakes folks make when completing their EIDL original applications.

Trevor, a 30 year veteran loan officer learned long ago to take his time when completing a loan application. He also learned long ago to triple check information, cross-verify documents and account numbers, and generally, obey the speed limit.

As a result, his loan applications have a higher rate of approval, including the many EIDL applications he’s submitted since last year.

The following two examples support our theory that Small Business owners are rushing and making mistakes.   Completing your application (or any other documents you submit to SBA) isn’t going to get you the money faster than the time you take to slow down to complete the EIDL application so that it’s accurate the first time. On average, Trevor spends approximately two hours to complete an application for each one of our clients.

Here are the actual mistakes…one of dozens and dozens:

“I put an incorrect phone number on my application because I sped through it.”
“In my rush…I put the bank account number (in place) of the EIN.”

Please slow down, pay attention and review and double-check the information you are providing to the SBA. They will not contact you to verify, they simply decline.

For information about Natural Disaster EIDL vs. the COVID-19 EIDL, please visit this page for information about that distinctly different process.

How to Apply for an EIDL Loan

An updated sample of the EIDL application with Trevor's commentary on what changes the SBA has implemented when underwriting your EIDL loan.

Blue Button Strategies

Here’s our recommended strategies while you are waiting for the infamous “BLUE BUTTON” to become functional on the SBA portal for your EIDL Increase request:

Manage your anxiety. Schedule TWICE daily check-ins, once in the morning, the second in the evening.  The money’s not going anywhere, it’s not running out, and you’re not going to miss a “place in line” with millions of other EIDL applicants if you don’t submit your request within a few hours.  You can wait the day. Doing so will reduce your stress.  When you feel yourself getting stressed about not checking the BLUE BUTTON every three minutes, do the following mundane, boring, functional stuff instead:

PREPARE.  We’ve seen SBA coming back recently and requesting additional documents for the EIDL Increase requests.  YES, it’s true, we’ve seen some requests were automatically approved.  That’s the BEST CASE, obviously. Don’t assume the “BEST CASE” scenario; assume the worst case and PREPARE for the SBA request.  Here’s a list of documents we’ve seen SBA requesting to approve the EIDL Increase.  One important note: don’t assume SBA already has your documents from the list below. If they ask for it, submit it again, in an updated form (current date for your signature instead of a date from two months ago, for example).

LIST:

  • 2018 and 2019 COMPLETE Federal tax returns
  • Driver’s License: COLOR legible PDF scan front and back. If the image is blurry, do it again until it is CRYSTAL CLEAR
  • VOIDED check for the destination bank account to deposit your funds. BE SURE this is the SAME account you entered on your original EIDL application. BE SURE you don’t reverse the ROUTING number for the ACCOUNT number. Yes, we’ve seen people do that!
  • SBA Form 2202. THIS is IMPORTANT.  Have a form that is current because SBA wants to confirm if you have incurred any other debt in the name of the business entity since you applied, including existing EIDL and PPP loans or other types of financing. Remember: ONLY business debt in the name of an business entity; personal debt does not go on this form. EIDL and PPP go on the form no matter whether you are an entity or a Sole Proprietor.
  • Business Plan and Revenue Projections for 2021.  See our BLOG post about how to prepare.

Here’s what we’ve experienced at Aurora Consulting in our two plus years of assisting Small Business Owners to obtain financing, including the EIDL COVID-19 loans and PPP loans:

  1. Small Business Owners don’t want to be bothered with the basic building blocks that are boring
  2. They don’t want to take the boring time to write boring business plans
  3. They don’t want to take on the mundane task of doing some basic fifth grade math to calculate income and expenses
  4. They don’t want to bore themselves to tears by spending time organizing basic documents into a neat and orderly and presentable fashion

Maybe YOU are NOT in this bucket. GOOD.

Much of what we do at Aurora Consulting is to shepherd our clients through these basic and boring tasks.  Here’s the problem: BORING leads to financing success.

Eliminate your stress about the BLUE BUTTON by BORING yourself.  It’s much simpler than you think.

Planning and Projections for Your EIDL Loan

The request for a business plan can pop up at any time. We saw this before and during COVID. 
SBA was asking many EIDL applicants for Business Plans and Revenue Projections. Frankly, this is something you should have AT ALL TIMES if you consider yourself a Small Business Owner, even if you’re a “gig economy” Schedule-C Sole Proprietor. You can’t truly measure your success without a plan.

When Trevor was a 100% commissioned Loan Officer at a Mortgage Banking company, he had a 22 page Business Plan with Revenue Projections, and he was an EMPLOYEE.

We put together a list of questions for our clients so we can prepare the necessary information for their SBA EIDL applications.

We’ve developed questions to assist in preparing a 2021 Business Plan Summary and Revenue Projection:
SBA recently is asking many EIDL applicants for Business Plans and Revenue Projections. Frankly, this is something you should have AT ALL TIMES if you consider yourself a Small Business Owner, even if you’re a “gig economy” Schedule-C Sole Proprietor. You can’t truly measure your success without a plan.

When Trevor was a 100% commissioned Loan Officer at a Mortgage Banking company, he had a 22 page Business Plan with Revenue Projections, and he was an EMPLOYEE.

We put together a list of questions for our clients so we can prepare the necessary information for their SBA EIDL applications.

We are happy to share it with you here. Wishing you all SUCCESS in everything you DO!

We’ve developed questions to assist in preparing a 2021 Business Plan Summary and Revenue Projection:

QUESTIONS

  • What actions did you take in MARCH 2020 to adjust or “pivot” your business to survive the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • How did those actions help: have you maintained a steady flow of business, did your business decline?
  • Are you continuing those actions into 2021?
  • Have you originated new business concepts to continue your business productivity into 2021?
  • If yes, what are these new concepts?
  • How will the EIDL program assist you to maintain the continuity of your business?
  • How will the EIDL program assist you to support the “pivot” concepts you’ve created?
  • IF you never created any “pivot” concepts, would the EIDL program assist you/encourage you to do that? How?

REVENUE

  • What is the percentage decline in 2020 to your Gross Revenue from 2019?
  • What is the percentage decline in 2020 to your NET INCOME from 2019?
  • If your net income is lower, is that due to the pandemic? If so, how?
  • Without EIDL assistance, what do you anticipate to be your Gross Revenue in 2021 for EACH QUARTER?
  • With EIDL assistance, what do you project to be your Gross Revenue in 2021 for EACH QUARTER?
  • Will you incur new, different expenses in 2021 than you’ve had in 2019?
  • If so, what specific expenses and how much in dollars?

If you want more information about untangling how a business plan works, especially for financing purposes, click below for our business plan outline guide.

If any of our videos or blogs have been helpful, useful and productive, please leave us a positive review on our GOOGLE PAGE. It helps other business owners seeking vital SBA information for their business, not to mention, it’s a kind exchange of information.

Ambiguity and Uncertainty

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.

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.

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.

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

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.