There’s some good news, and some BAD news…. particularly for us and others like us…
The good news:
Loan programs are getting a second round of funding! Those businesses that took large loans from the PPP program are being “looked into,” and some are returning the money, so hopefully more REAL small businesses can get the help they need!!
The BAD news:
We’re most likely STILL not going to qualify for help covering our accumulating expenses for a CLOSED building…😳
The “Mom & Pop” shops without W-2 employees are STILL FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS!! This “one-size-fits-all” stimulus package DOES NOT GET US THE HELP WE NEED!
Many REAL small businesses, especially in their early years, fall into this “Mom & Pop” category in which they are owner-operated, these owners do not take a salary, and they do not have traditional W-2 employees. Instead, they take owner draws from their net profit to live off of, and pay their self employment taxes on the total net profit for the year with their annual tax return rather than on quarterly 941s. This is the category OUR small businesses, Rub & Grub LLC and Sheila Litman LMT LLC, fall into.
Last year was our first year in business and with our HARD WORK, even with all of the startup costs, we were able to make a profit of around $3,000. Not bad considering many small businesses report a loss in their first year/s! How did we live off of this, you may be thinking? I worked another job as an accountant to support our family until we could reach a point that the businesses alone could support us. By October and November we were making enough for me to leave my job at the beginning of December 2019! We were making just enough to get by, but we were FINALLY getting the chance to live our dream through HARD WORK and really investing OURSELVES into our businesses!
Regardless of this, it is fair to question why we think we should be able to qualify for a loan that exceeds our total annual net profit from last year to cover our rent and utility expenses. Under NORMAL circumstances that is a valid question! However, these are NOT NORMAL circumstances, and without a loan or grant or some kind of assistance, we WILL NOT BE ABLE TO REOPEN AT ALL!! Even the existing grants I have found require 3 employees minimum!! We are falling outside the boundaries of all assistance I can find! The existing loan programs using payroll costs or net profit to determine the amount allowed to borrow does NOT work for us!
To use our businesses as an example, through our own physical labor, we EARNED gross revenue of almost $47,000 in 2019. We PAID approximately $30,000 in rent and utility costs and $14,000 in startup costs and supplies. We were growing each month, and our net profit for January and February 2020 alone was more than our total net profit for ALL of 2019! Then our revenue was cut off completely, through no person’s fault, but our rent and utility expenses are still accumulating by the day as our building sits empty. THIS is why using net profit to determine the permitted loan amount during this closure WILL NOT BE ENOUGH FOR BUSINESSES LIKE OURS!! NORMALLY we would not even try to get a loan for our business based on such a low net profit amount, but NORMALLY we would still be earning REVENUE so we would be okay! Just because we haven’t yet built up to a point that we can have W-2 employees with regular payroll expenses, DOES NOT mean that we don’t need ACCESS TO ASSISTANCE for help covering these costs while we are forced to be closed!
I have read in all of the information I’ve researched, and even been told DIRECTLY by a US representative, that we should qualify to get the help we need and that rent and utilities are covered in the loan programs and that we shouldn’t have been denied an EIDL grant advance. YES we SHOULD qualify, and YES they SHOULD be covered, and NO we SHOULD NOT have been denied!!! But because the application process is based on our net profit, we CANNOT qualify for what we NEED, and we WERE denied the EIDL grant. We are at square one after being closed for 40 DAYS and our debt just keeps climbing.
Based on our net profit, the calculation for our permitted amount that we can request for the PPP loan program is only about $800. Yes we worked ridiculously hard building our business and earned $47,000 in revenue, easily paid (on time always) $30,000 in rent and utility costs, but we only qualify for $800?!?!
By June 1st, 2020, we will have accumulated approximately $9,000 – $10,000 in past due rent and utility costs due to our REVENUE being abruptly cut off completely. No matter what our net profit or loss is, our REVENUE is GONE and those bills are STILL THERE WAITING….
$10,000 needed – NOTHING compared to what the big guys are trying to get – and we only qualify for $800…..
Essentially, by using net profit in this calculation, a business’s net profit would HAVE TO EXCEED the amount of its rent and utility expenses in order to be able to borrow what is needed to cover those expenses through the closure. I can GUARANTEE that we are NOT the only small “Mom & Pop” in this situation who are able to live off of a net profit that is less than their total business expenses, so they don’t qualify for ENOUGH! Many small businesses take a while to build up to such a profit, and often sacrifice and barely make enough to pay their living expenses in order to get there.
When I worked as an accountant in a CPA firm I handled accounts for DOZENS of businesses JUST LIKE OURS with high overhead costs and low profits while they built their businesses from the ground up. Even with low profits, the REVENUES of these businesses can be considerable and they go directly into stimulating the economy! Our rent payments allow our landlord to further grow his business, our startup costs included equipment that we purchased from LOCAL family owned companies, we buy as many of our supplies LOCALLY as we can, we pay LOCAL independent massage therapists for our couples massages and massage parties, and we ONLY use SMALL independently owned LOCAL restaurants to cater our parties! We may have only cleared $3000, but approximately $44,000 went directly into the economy, mostly LOCALLY, because of our HARD WORK, DEDICATION, PASSION, SACRIFICE, AND CONFIDENCE IN OUR DREAM!!
THAT DREAM IS DYING RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES…..
We need to be able to apply for assistance based on our gross revenue, and rent and utility expenses. It is the ONLY way I can see that we will be able to qualify to borrow enough for these costs, and the ONLY way that we will have any chance at reopening AT ALL! Maybe some local banks have found ways to help people in our situation, but since our bank does not process the applications and the local banks that do are only doing so for existing customers, I had to apply through an online commercial lender. I am hopeful that I will be able to speak with someone eventually during the process and be able to work something out, as it is the only possible option we have, but I have yet to hear from anyone.
We all know that the businesses that are “too big to fail” always seem to get what they need, sometimes even in cases where there was blatant mismanagement and questionable activity.
Are we “too small to matter?” Because it seems so, with each passing day without help or clear guidance for those of us still unable to have any peace of mind and whose futures and livelihoods are STILL up in the air.
While I am THRILLED to see some of the larger businesses that took advantage of these programs when they did not need the money returning it, and I am glad that many more REAL SMALL BUSINESSES will get the help they need because of it, I fear that we will not be lucky enough to be one of them yet again. And we likely will continue to be denied the assistance we need from these programs unless some exceptions can be made for businesses in our situation, simply because we haven’t yet grown big enough to be the type of small business the government is willing to help.
Even if we do manage to get the help we need at some point eventually, it is painfully obvious that these stimulus packages are designed to work from the top down, which is not surprising since our country as a whole is designed to work the same way. Prop up the huge corporations and the wealthy first, make sure to help out enough small businesses so that they appear to care, and leave the rest of us to fight over whatever scraps are left. It is honestly undeniable at this point unless you are absolutely delusional. It’s up to us to figure it out on our own, so that is what I am trying my hardest to do!
Maybe we will be lucky and work something out under the existing programs…. Or maybe changes will be made to accommodate businesses in our situation….
I’M NOT GOING TO HOLD MY BREATH….
If ANYONE has actual USEFUL information for businesses in our situation, people we can talk to, something I’ve missed or overlooked, PLEASE LET US KNOW!! I am fortunate to at least have some experience dealing with and understanding the accounting side of small business, but I am at a loss for what to do going forward… I’ve been told to speak with an accountant or an attorney for guidance, and I agree that would probably be a smart move! Unfortunately there is that whole thing I mentioned earlier about ZERO BUSINESS REVENUE COMING IN!
We’re stuck, and we’re scared, but WE’RE NOT GIVING UP!!
I’ve read that the purpose of the PPP program is to process loan requests deemed “necessary to support the business’s ongoing activity.” That is EXACTLY what we are trying to do: SECURE OUR BUSINESS’S ONGOING ACTIVITY! Without help with our accumulating rent and utility costs, we will likely not be able to reopen, we will lose EVERYTHING we have worked so hard for, we will be unemployed, and our independent contractors will lose their income and hope that we would be able to eventually hire them as W-2 employees, which we WERE working toward! That is FIVE people whose lives will be extremely adversely affected simply because our business is still building and doesn’t fit this criteria that is holding us to NORMAL loan application requirements based on net profit, and ignoring our loss of revenue caused by a WORLDWIDE DISASTER during UNPRECEDENTED, ABNORMAL TIMES!
We NEED CLEAR GUIDANCE on these issues to get help through existing programs, or we need a program dedicated to helping those of us who don’t fit into their “one-size-fits-all” band-aid of a plan. If “Main Street USA” and us “Mom & Pops” are really the backbone of the American economy as is always exclaimed on the campaign trails, then it’s time to create solutions that will help ALL of us, not just some.
I am positive that we, and many others in the same boat, would gladly work harder than EVER to pay back ANY assistance received if it means not losing EVERYTHING WE HAVE WORKED FOR!! I could care less about any loan forgiveness!! But without ACCESS to that assistance, we will never even get the chance!
RUB & GRUB
2211 Market Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
Rub & Grub is a new, unique experience for couples and/or friends now available in the Ohio Valley! We offer massage therapy services, couples massage, basic massage therapy classes, yoga classes, T’ai Chi classes, and blackjack/ poker classes – all with certified instructors! At the end of the couples massage or any of the classes, a delicious catered meal from a local restaurant is provided! Couples massage and any class participants also receive a take-home care package that contains all of the essentials to practice their newly acquired skills! We also offer massage parties, event space rental, small wedding packages, and Murder Mystery Dinners! Come relax and get a great massage, or learn something new and useful, enjoy a great meal, and most of all have some FUN!!
It is our mission to bring something new and fun to Wheeling, while encouraging and promoting other local business in the area. Whenever and wherever possible, it is our intention to use locally sourced supplies, decorations, furnishings, and catering in an effort to showcase the many wonderful aspects of the Ohio Valley from the past to the present. We display Fostoria glassware, furnishings acquired from local estates or repurposed from local artists and crafts people, antiques from local collections with some produced locally, and all catering comes from local independently owned restaurants; all within a beautifully renovated Victorian in the heart of Wheeling’s historic Centre Market!
For the same price as the typical, same old ‘dinner and a movie’ for your night out, you can have a truly new and one-of-a-kind experience! Learn a useful new skill, relax, or just have some fun and eat a delicious dinner from a local restaurant in an absolutely BEAUTIFUL environment! CALL TODAY!!