MF 285 : Off kilter sleep pattern and dealing with small business loans and grants
In this episode, I talk a little about the struggle to maintain “normalcy” during this time and navigating through some of the small business loans and grants. Bemovingforward.com.
I can’t sleep
Normally, I go to bed around 10 or 11 pm, wake up early, hit the gym and jump start my day. As of the past few weeks, my sleeping pattern has been completely shot. I go to bed around 3 am, wake up groggy at 9, slog on the treadmill and try to keep to a schedule. The problem I run into is by 6 or 7 pm, I’m exhausted and crash for an hour or so, only to find I’m wide awake by 8 or 9 and can’t fall back asleep and then it starts all over again.
I’ve spoken to a lot of friends who are experiencing this as well and so if you’re experiencing this, know you’re not alone. I don’t have great solutions or hacks for this. So, if you have anything to suggest, I’m all ears.
Retooling a shuttered business
One of the things that keeps up at night, is helping my dad retool his business. Long before this pandemic, we started developing an online channel because as far back as 2016, I recognized that online shopping was displacing, not complementing, retail shopping. Over the past few years, many small shops and retail stores have closed and now, with his store shuttered, we are focusing on the online component solely to stay afloat. However, even that has slowed as the garments my dad focuses on are primarily special occasions such as weddings and proms that are either cancelled or post-poned.
So, one of the things we’re looking into is seeing how my dad can channel and retask his expertise to help produce masks and gowns. My dad has a popular YouTube channel on sewing tips and shortly before his shop closed due to the non-essential business closure order in Maryland, we filmed a tutorial on how to make your own face mask. My dad spent a week coming up with a pattern and trying different prototypes. We decided to share his knowledge with a free tutorial and to give away the pattern for free.
Amazingly, within the first hour, he had 20-30 views and today, he has over a 1000, with comments from all over the world. You can check it out below:
You can download the pattern for free here (note: you do NOT need a Dropbox log-in to download, just skip over to print or download the pattern).
Small business loans and grants
As my dad has been keeping busy with learning more about face masks, we also started applying to the many federal and state grants and loans for small business.
You can find the federal ones here. In addition, Maryland has several programs as well (which you can find here). It can be overwhelming and confusing navigating these so here are some tips that may be helpful if you’re going through this process [Note: the tips below are not intended to be specific legal and/or accounting or financial planning advice. If you need specific assistance with any of these or other programs, please consult with an attorney, business CPA or other small business professional.]
Look at the program details. Take time to see if it’s a grant or a loan. There are differences between the two but for both, you’ll want to see if your business fits the criteria and coverage are. For loans, check to see what the rates and forgiveness amounts are.
Get your financials ready. Thankfully, the forms themselves aren’t that complicated. I found it took me an average of an hour per form. However, you will need to be prepared with financials. Depending on the program you’re submitting for, you may have to provide two calendar years of financial statements, income and payroll statements and more. You may have to contact your business CPA if you have one, or prepare them from software you use to manage your finances if you do it yourself.
Be prepared for delays. Many of the sites are jammed up with businesses applying. The Paycheck Protection Program that launched Friday was slammed with lots of traffic causing sites to crash and several of the SBA approved banks that are handling this program had to temporarily take the applications offline. Be patient and it may be worthwhile to wait until an off-peak hour (especially if you can’t sleep) to apply.
Be prepared to wait. There’s a lot of uncertainty and little information on how quickly the applications will be processed and approved. News is coming out everyday so stay informed. If you have an account manager or assigned business banker, you can also contact him or her. If you have a business accountant, spend an hour or two with them to make sure you have everything you need before applying.
Go easy on yourself
I’ve said it before, friends like Alissa Carpenter have also mentioned this. Go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not “doing enough” or “doing more.” These are not normal times. This isn’t a “staycation.” We are self-isolated and quarantined because of a global pandemic with lives at stake. You can’t be hard on yourself if you feel off or if you’re just not able to expend the energy to do more than do your job and take care of you and your family. In fact, that’s your primary job. Anything else is entirely up to whether you feel up to it – not your ability, not your determination, not your desire or fortitude. Last week, I managed to finish recording my friend’s audiobook but I also had many days and hours when I couldn’t get anything done. It’s a mixed bag of being productive and not being able to do anything. Hang in there and know you’re doing the best you can.
What I’m reading / read
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Fred Rogers (*****): This book is a wonderful collection of essays by Fred Rogers covering everything from childhood to philosophy to parenting. It opens with Tom Junod’s article for Esquire profiling Fred Rogers and was the basis for the 2019 film starring Tom Hanks. A great read that brings much needed positivity with a gentle, simple yet poignant philosophy.
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