In America, as in most countries, the business cycle is a powerful and long-lasting engine that brings economic recovery and sustained growth to nearly every community. Millions of small businesses, restaurants, retail outlets and other privately owned enterprises have already closed. However, far more are surviving, buoyed at least in part by hundreds of millions of dollars in free government money that they and their clients have received. Small business finance, the crucial support that keeps them going, has become a key economic niche in this recovering economy.
Home based business owners, specifically home based finance companies, have been among the hardest hit by the collapse of the American economy. Many lost their businesses when home values declined and when lenders denied home based business loans they became unprofitable. In response to the distressed conditions in the business world, the federal government provided a variety of federal, small business programs. The Small Business Administration or SBA, which is responsible for much of the business finance activity in the country, has approved nearly a trillion dollars in working capital loans for businesses during the past year. This infusion of new funds has significantly improved the financing situation for many small businesses.
President Obama and his staff have worked very hard to make sure that the small business loan program known as 90 percent financing program is not jeopardized in the final budget. The budget contains several riders that will protect this important program from closure. For example, the budget includes provisions to prevent the SBA from having to withdraw its approval for a portion of its loan program. The rider protects from sudden adjustments in the availability of working capital loans if the availability is predicted to decline. In addition, the rider will ensure that the lender can continue to sell working capital loans to businesses.
The second piece of the puzzle for working capital funding for small businesses involves the successful conclusion of two long-sought opportunities. The Small Business Association and the National Association of Manufacturers are optimistic that the “Mayo Clinic Certification Program” will be successfully completed by the end of this year. In years past, small business owners were required to obtain certification before they could complete business operations management plans with the IRS. The newly proposed legislation will make this process easier and less expensive. Both the SBA and NAHB expect this program to save jobs and increase business revenues.
The third business initiative on the horizon for small business owners concerns the return of the “pandemic” to our nation’s small business communities. The recent outbreak of the West Nile Virus has caused many cities to temporarily shut down business for a period of time. While some city governments have provided extended closures, others have imposed quarantines for all business owners. Although the pandemic has abated, many cities and counties still require owners of small businesses to stay behind the safety curtain until the virus is gone.
For business owners, these mandatory quarantines offer the perfect opportunity to get involved in a program that can both benefit local communities and boost small business employment during this time of hardship. There are many programs available that provide training, advice, and other resources for owners as they deal with the issues that arise from the West Nile outbreak. Many of these services are free or cost-inefficient. In contrast, the combination of expert knowledge, resources, and information provided by qualified professionals can be very expensive. Therefore, partnering with these programs can allow small business owners to reduce their own liabilities while they focus on providing quality service to the communities.
Many small business owners are likely to experience difficult times in the next few months as they try to understand the effects of the West Nile virus on their operations. However, there are also large numbers of small businesses that are thriving and poised to recover from the onslaught of the virus. If these small business owners make the decision to work with a professional, they will discover an excellent source of short-term business financing.
There are several short-term financing solutions currently available to business owners. These include federal grants, state and local financial assistance programs, and private investors. The United States Small Business Administration’s Office of Technology Policy has developed a list of “approved business incubators” that provide grants to small businesses that are experiencing financial hardships. To qualify, business owners must demonstrate a need for new and innovative technologies, as well as a history of business success. To receive approval, business owners must also demonstrate a history of accomplishment achieving superior productivity levels, competitive advantages, and a commitment to using technology to improve their business. To apply for a business incubator grant, contact the Small Business Administration’s office of technology policy today.