3 things Main Street America can do right now to create business resilience
This contributed article by Jeff Jones, president and CEO of H&R Block, originally ran on Nextdoor.com.
As CEO of H&R Block, I’ve seen how during the COVID-19 pandemic our teams have risen to the challenges of the moment and adapted quickly. That included pivoting our focus to providing as much timely and helpful information as possible for millions of Americans, as well as you, the small business owners who fuel our economy and strengthen our communities.
The issues you are facing are personal to me. I am the son of small business owners and watched my parents open and close local businesses multiple times. I’ve wondered many times lately how our family would have fared if my parents were still in business today.
1. Don’t try to go it alone
One of the key lessons for any small business owner is don’t try to go it alone. There is a growing list of resources available to small business owners, from capital to training to mentoring to network-building.
Identify and prioritize what you need most and then reach out to colleagues, leaders, and services where you can find answers to your questions.
We know one of the most immediate needs right now for most small businesses is capital. Even as the federal government and various assistance programs are doing their best to help small businesses keep people on payrolls, you have questions. Every day, we hear from small business owners like you who are just trying to make sense of the various programs.
One of the most common programs has been the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These loans will be fully forgiven by the federal government if funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. H&R Block has published a great resource on PPP loans, where you can learn more about tax considerations for expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans.
2. It’s not just the PPP, though
There are three other CARES Act programs you can look to for relief for your small business during the coronavirus outbreak. The Employee Retention Credit can help keep your employees on the payroll if you’ve stopped doing business or have been affected financially. The Payroll Tax Postponement allows you to defer paying your company’s share of social security contributions. Finally, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan can help pay for paid sick leave for employees, increased operating costs due to the COVID-19 disaster, rent or mortgage payments, or repaying obligations that can’t be met due to revenue loss.
These can be overwhelming and confusing, which is why H&R Block has put together a Small Business Resource Hub to help you navigate all of these issues. Our small business experts have thoroughly researched all of the CARES Act programs so we can answer some of your most pressing questions.
Of course, sometimes you have specific questions that aren’t common for other businesses. That’s why H&R Block recently launched the Recovery Action Plan – an H&R Block consulting service that includes an hour-long, one-on-one phone consultation with a small business expert to discuss various assistance options, eligibility requirements, and potential actions. After the session, you’ll receive a customized action plan outlining the most workable solutions for your business specifically and immediate next steps you can take.
3. Think about the long-term as well
As with anything in life, it’s important you not make decisions solely on the short-term, though.
Once you find the right solution for your business, make sure you’re giving careful consideration to long-term, tax implications.
A payment deferment simply puts it off to a later date; it does not remove the financial obligation. Not being mindful of loan forgiveness criteria could result in paying back the government hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road. For any assistance program, work with a tax professional who can help you understand what will be required of you, later.
Here at H&R Block, we believe strongly in the ideals of Main Street America. As a business rooted in communities all across America, H&R Block knows that Main Street is more than an address. It’s a symbol for connections, resilience, and the value of hard work. While we certainly value technology and all of its possibilities, we know that when our human advantage is combined with digital and data, it is a powerful combination and one we’re excited to bring to small business owners everywhere.
It’s our responsibility to do what we can to help one another in need in the midst of crisis. And more than ever, I’m resolute in my belief that the more connected we are, the better we all will be. Offering direct relief is important and vital, yes, but the more we can support and connect to those in need – the more resilient our entire system will be as we come out of the pandemic.