How starting a small business helps build your future - IrishCentral

How starting a small business helps build your future - IrishCentral


How starting a small business helps build your future - IrishCentral

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 07:34 AM PDT

The future is something every student, parent, and working individual thinks about. Prices of necessities keep going higher, and the standard of living also goes along the ride. It cannot be helped that one has to think about where they will be in the next five to ten years. 

Perhaps, you are currently employed and you think that you have a stable job that you get to keep forever. Unfortunately, nothing is certain even with big companies and businesses. 

Last 2019, over 8,000 chain stores have closed in the US alone, and that's around 3,000 more than in 2018. That same year, auto company Ford announced 12,000 job cuts by 2020 to save about hundreds of millions in US dollars. With these pieces of information, you really have to wonder whether or not you are secure in your current position.  

Starting a small business

If the above statistics got your attention, you may start to think about what you can do to secure your and your family's future. Time and time again, one idea that proves to be helpful in starting your own small business. Perhaps, it is a big leap from the usual tasks you're used to doing. However, allowing yourself some quiet time to reflect on the advantages versus the cons will help you decide on taking a chance. 

Here are ways how starting a small business can help build your future:

Allows you to have full control over your life's direction

Starting a small business means you have every right to decide what it should be all about and who your target customers will be. It is also up to you to set your working hours and decide how much you want to earn. You can control the entire process without having to sacrifice anything in your life, thus helping you steer your life to a kind of future you've always wanted for you and your family.

Generates steady cash flow

Do you feel that your job is limiting your income potential?  The primary reason why employees strike out on their own and seek greener pastures is to earn more money than they are currently getting. When your salary is not enough to sustain a growing family, it is only natural to change careers or start a business of your own.

However, it would be best if you keep in mind that along with starting a small business means making smart financial decisions. You must first consider how much you want to earn and how much time you are willing to give. In addition, you may use tools or apps, such as Wave, that will help you manage and track your expenses, sales, and revenues.

When you are handling your business well, you are better assured of steady cash flow from your small venture. In time, you will have enough to live the life you want without worries.   

Shapes you to become an expert in your field

Starting a small business allows you to form the right questions, make the right moves, and improve your problem-solving skills. Suddenly, you know how to do your taxes, keep licenses updated, and follow regulations and laws related to your small business. The said skills can eventually make you an expert in your field. When you are an expert, you can approach problems in a systematic manner. 

Furthermore, you learn from various trials and errors, and you apply what you learn along the way. Yes, you may make mistakes, but you learn not to sulk over these failures; instead, you find solutions immediately so you can and move on and deal with other important matters.

Being consistent with your professional ways produces excellent results, as well as products or services that people want and need. Because of this, they eventually learn to trust you and your brand, thus gaining more loyal customers. The bottom line of all this is that your expertise is vital to the longevity of your business and its ability to continue earning revenues, thus giving you and your family better financial security in the long run.

Exposes you to more networking opportunities

By having a business, you become exposed to people who may have specific skills or enterprises that could be beneficial to the growth of your small venture. Other small business owners are also likely to contact you for a project or a collaboration. Small businesses who help each other have a more substantial chance to survive the competitive world. 

Here some of the advantages of networking for your small business:

Building connections leads to finding the right people with whom you can have collaborations or partnerships for a long time. These are like-minded people who share the same mission and goals as yours. Making such connections is also a way of making friends. When you are friends with the people you do business with, the business becomes more fun. It not only helps the growth of your business, but you also gain more positive people in your life who will be around for years to come, through thick and thin.

Networking gives you a chance to stand out and get noticed by the right people. When you offer your best products and services, they will, in turn, put out a good word for you. This way, you are able to gain more customers.

Being at the right place at the right time, such as events for entrepreneurs, allows you to meet other business people who are already veterans in their field. These individuals are fountains of information who may be able to share tips, tricks, insights, and constructive criticisms that you can apply to your own small business.

Surrounding yourself with people who encourage and empower you is also a confidence booster. They uplift and share positive messages that will inspire you to keep doing what you are doing. When you feel good about yourself and your business, you keep going and do anything that will benefit your thriving business.

Enables you to minimize loans and pay off debts

Are you having trouble making ends meet?  Do you often take small loans with hefty interest rates?  A small business can keep you from living off on loans, allowing you to live a debt-free life.

Managing your business well to keep you earning continuously will help you avoid signing contracts to get loans. You must also exercise self-discipline and control your spending habits, especially if being a spendthrift is the reason for your constant need for cash. 

Remember that it also takes money to make money, and your business needs it for operational costs. A fraction of what you earn is also for your family's needs, insurance, savings, and retirement. If you have debts, your business will also help you pay them all off, that is, if you learn to make sound financial decisions. 

Hones your creativity

Do you work nine to five in the office for a pencil-pushing position?  When you start a small business, you take on multiple roles. You are the one to brainstorm ideas, market your offerings, and make necessary changes to your products and services to make them more useful to your customers.

By having a small business, you get to improve your creativity. With this, you're able to come up with various solutions to different issues affecting your business. Creativity is also what enables you to move swiftly and effortlessly within a competitive environment. It inspires innovation and challenges your way of thinking. If you want your business to keep thriving, it is essential to make changes and adapt to them.

Moreover, a creative business person can accept multiple points of view. They can also reimagine concepts that will keep customers interested in their offerings.

You become a better decision-maker

Your decision-making skills are of the essence when you are managing a small business. Unlike large companies with processes and protocols, you are the sole driving force behind the management. Unfortunately, not all small business owners get the chance to receive training on how to handle business operations on their own. But, this doesn't mean that you can't help improve your decision-making skills.

By having a small business, you learn to identify a specific core problem and gather all the necessary information relevant to it. You learn to list down your options, as well as the pros and disadvantages of those choices. From there, you will be able to anticipate the consequences, both good and bad. Through this, you're able to become a better decision-maker, which will not only positively impact your business but also your life in general.

In conclusion...

For a regular employee who worries about the future, starting a small business is the way to go for several reasons. It allows you to have full control over where you want to go in your life and generates a steady cash flow, but only if you manage your finances well. It also enables you to build connections with like-minded people and veterans in the industry to which you belong, as well as shape you into an expert in your chosen field. Furthermore, by having a small business, you get to improve your creativity and decision-making skills. All these things contribute to better financial security and a more flourishing future for you and your family.

How to get a small business loan under the $349 billion aid bill - The Washington Post

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 08:16 AM PDT

Business groups say lenders are moving as fast as they can to make the loans available.

"Right now our focus is on speed in terms of making sure these banks have the ability to get loans onto main street quickly," said Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group that is working with lenders who will be distributing the funds, which are backed by a federal loan guarantee.

Here are the details on how small-business owners can access the new federal Paycheck Protection Program. This article will continue to be updated as new information is made available.

Q: How do I apply for a small business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program?

The application has been posted on the Treasury Department's CARES Act resource page as of Tuesday afternoon. After you gather the information described on the application form you should contact your bank or an approved lending institution to start the application process.

The Small Business Administration has a network of at least 1,800 approved lenders that process small business loans and intends to add more of them. If your bank is not an SBA-approved lender or you don't have an existing banking relationship, you can contact the SBA to find one. Administration officials say the SBA is working on a geo-coded web page where you can view approved lenders near you, but as of Tuesday afternoon the web page was not live yet.

It is expected that most borrowers will be able to apply online through an approved financial institution, a senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Tuesday. If you are contacting a lender for the first time the loans are expected to be handled on a first-come-first-serve basis, one senior administration official said Tuesday.

Q: When will the new funding be made available to small businesses?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that small business loans will be made available starting Friday. That goal was again confirmed by SBA officials as of Wednesday morning. Detailed application guidelines are also available on the Small Business Administration's website.

The initial crush of applications will be limited to small businesses and non-profits, regional SBA administrator Steve Bulger said in an interview Wednesday morning. Loans for sole proprietors and independent contractors will see at least one week of delay.

Mnuchin and other administration officials say they are setting up a system in which borrowers will be able to receive funds on the same day they submit an application. Since the initial steps of the approval process will be handled entirely by the lender, there is no separate review being conducted by the SBA.

"The application has been really stripped down from what we normally use in the SBA," a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Even with the SBA's review out of the way, same-day approvals will still be a challenge. The fastest bank loan applications usually incorporate a 1-week review.

Hicham Oudghiri, chief executive of a small-business-focused data analytics and fraud detection company called Enigma Technologies, said it would be difficult for most banks to meet that target without substantially increasing the risk of fraud. Most small businesses will take days just gathering the documents they need to apply, he said.

"Even the most sophisticated banks will have a hard time short cutting their processes to get money out the door this fast," said Oudghiri.

Q: What costs will the new loans cover?

The new loans will cover payroll costs and employee benefits, mortgage interest incurred before February 15, 2020, rent and utilities under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020 and utilities for which the service began before February 2020.

Payroll costs include salary wages, commissions and tips capped at $100,000 for each employee. It also includes benefits for vacation, parental leave, medical leave, sick leave, some other limited benefit categories. In some cases they also can cover interest on other debts.

Q: How do I prove that my losses are because of coronavirus?

The new loans are available to any business for which "current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations," according to an SBA fact-sheet published Tuesday. Approved lenders will make a determination of need for your business based on SBA guidelines, but without a separate SBA review.

The SBA is preparing to publish specific regulations that might better-define eligibility requirements. That regulation is expected to be finalized in the next few days, regional SBA administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning.

Q: Which businesses qualify under the Paycheck Protection Program?

Small businesses, nonprofits, tribal business concerns that meet the SBA's standard business size definition and veterans organizations organized under 501(c)(19) with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for loans under the program. Self-employed individuals, independent contractors and sole-proprietors also are eligible. To receive a loan, your company must have been in business as of Feb. 15.

It is yet to be determined whether churches and other faith-based organizations qualify for loans under the nonprofit category, regional SBA administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday.

If you are in the food service business, the 500-employee cap is applied on a per-physical-location basis, according to a fact sheet published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There are criminal penalties of up to $1 million for submitting fraudulent information to a federally-insured lender.

Q: I work as a sole-proprietor or independent contractor. Can I receive a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program?

Yes. The law specifically provides for sole proprietors and independent contractors. Regional SBA administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning that loans for independent contractors are likely to be made available one week after the other small business loans, which would translate to a start date of April 10 for those loans.

"We want to make sure we gt the small businesses teed up first," Bulger said Wednesday. "We just want to make sure the rules are in place for independent contractors and self-employed."

The SBA is working on a detailed regulation that will define how independent contractors should apply for loans, including whether their company should count them in its employee totals on loan applications. That regulation is also expected to address the status of 1099 employees and part-time employees. That regulation is expected to be finalized in the next few days, Bulger said Wednesday morning.

Q: I run a small partnerships or S-corporations. Am I eligible?

The SBA is working on a detailed regulation set guidance for these businesses, expected to publish by Friday April 3, one SBA official said Wednesday. This article will be updated when more information becomes available.

Q: How much money can my business receive through the new loan program?

The Paycheck Protection Program provides small business loans of up to $10 million to cover payroll and certain other expenses, or 2.5 times your total payroll expenses for the loan period. Other SBA loan programs, including the federal disaster relief program, offer much smaller loans.

Q: What sort of thing could disqualify me?

The application includes a long list of potential disqualifying factors. You cannot receive a paycheck protection program loan if your business or any of its owners have previously been suspended, debarred, proposed for debarment, declared ineligible, or were voluntarily excluded from the loan program by a federal agency, or are presently involved in any bankruptcy.

You will be excluded from the program if you have ever taken a loan from the SBA that subsequently caused a loss to the government, is currently delinquent, or resulted in default. The application also excludes businesses in which any 20 percent owner is an individual who is currently subject to criminal charges, or who has previously been convicted or otherwise punished for a crime against a minor.

Q: What information should I prepare?

You will be asked to provide basic identifying information for your business, your business TIN number, your average monthly payroll, the number of jobs supported by your company and what specifically you want to use the loan money for. You will also be asked to list all owners who hold at least a 20 percent ownership stake in the company and affirm that they are not party to federal crimes.

You will also be asked to provide the lender with documentation regarding your employee headcount over time as well as your payroll costs.

Q: What time period is covered by Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The new loans apply to costs incurred from Feb. 15 through June 30.

Q: What's the interest rate?

The Treasury Department is initially setting the loan rate at 0.5 percent. However the CARES Act caps the interest rate for the Paycheck Protection Program at 4 percent, so it is possible the interest rate could increase.

Q: What will the payment schedule look like?

The first payment will be due after six months and the full loan will be due after two years, according to SBA informational materials.

Q: It looks like there are a lot of different federal loan programs. Can my business receive funding through more than one?

Yes. Businesses that have pending or existing SBA disaster assistance loans can still receive funding through the Paycheck Protection Program as long as the loans are not being used for the same thing. You also can still apply for a loan if you have an insurance claim pending. A single business cannot apply for more than one Paycheck Protection Loan, however.

Q: What if I'm still paying off a different SBA disaster loan?

The Small Business Administration has made all deferments through Dec. 31 automatic. That means small-business owners do not have to contact the SBA to request deferment. If you have an existing or pending loan through the SBA's disaster assistance loan program, you can refinance it into your Paycheck Protection Program loan, possibly lowering your interest rate.

Q: Can the loan eventually be forgiven?

Yes. The program includes loan forgiveness covering costs for the first eight weeks of the loan for companies able to keep employees on payroll or continue paying bills throughout the coronavirus crisis.

The amount of loan forgiveness will include payroll costs for individuals below $100,000 in annual income, mortgage and rent obligations, including interest and utility payments. If an employee is above a $100,000 annual salary, the first $100,000 will be factored into the company's loan forgiveness total but any amount above that will not. As of Wednesday morning the SBA had not decided whether benefits will factor into that cap.

The total amount of forgiveness will be reduced if your workforce is drawn down through attrition or if wages are reduced. If you are forced to lay off employees because of economic conditions, you may be able to preserve some of your loan guarantee by hiring them back.

It is expected that at least 75 percent of the costs forgiven come from payroll, according to the SBA fact-sheet released Tuesday.

Eligibility for loan forgiveness starts eight weeks after the loan origination date. There is a maximum 10-year maturity after application for loan forgiveness.

Q: If I receive a salary as a sole proprietor, independent contractor, limited liability partnership, or other business that I own, can I count my own salary towards loan forgiveness?

To be determined. SBA regional administrator Steve Bulger said Wednesday morning that this question would be addressed in future SBA regulations. In any case the $100,000 cap for loan forgiveness would likely apply. This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

Q: This article did not answer my question. How can I find more information?

If you would like to suggest an additional question for this article, please email the author at Aaron.Gregg@washpost.com.

Your primary points of contact for information on federal loan programs should be the U.S. Small Business Administration or an SBA-qualified financial institution. You can reach the SBA by email at answerdesk@sba.gov or by phone at 1-800-827-5722. The agency has reported receiving "unprecedented" interest in its loan program in recent weeks but is working to set up new call centers to handle the flood of new inquiries.

You can also follow your regional SBA administrator on Twitter for periodic updates. There are 10 SBA regions and you can find yours by clicking here.

Have a story tip about the small business program or other aspects of how the government is handling the coronavirus relief law known as the CARES Act? Send an email to caresacttips@washpost.com.

I can’t afford rent for my small business because of COVID-19. What can I do? - Marketplace

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 11:16 AM PDT

Over the last few weeks, most restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores have been doing a fraction of their normal business and, in many cases, no business at all. 

For nearly half of small businesses, those lost weeks could be enough to push them into the red. Enough to make it impossible to pay rent, which for many is due today for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. 

Even some big businesses say they can't afford rent. The Cheesecake Factory sent a letter to its landlords in mid-March informing them it would not be paying rent because the virus "inflicted a tremendous financial blow to our business."

That will likely be harder for small business owners to do.

"Small businesses clearly don't have the leverage that those big chains do," said Jared Nicholson, director of the Community Business Clinic at Northeastern University School of Law. "While the landlord is going to be willing to cut a deal with a huge customer, the tiny small businesses may not be able to get that kind of break."

If you're a small business owner who may not be able to afford rent this month or next, what can you do?

Check your lease

"Take a look through your lease and see if there's anything in there having to do with suspending rent obligations during an emergency, during a crisis, or during a time when the government forces your business to shut down," said Arthur Kats, director of the Microenterprise Project at Volunteers of Legal Service in New York. 

Your legal obligations, and your options, largely hinge on what's in your lease. In most cases, Nicholson said, "the answers in the lease, particularly in these commercial leases, are probably not going to be very favorable to the commercial tenants."

That is what Kats is finding so far with small business owners he's advising in New York. "The vast majority of our clients that we're seeing have no automatic right to suspend their rent obligations during this crisis," he said. 

Similarly, most insurance policies do not offer much protection under current circumstances.

"A lot of the policies that people would be thinking about is the business interruption insurance," Nicholson said. "A lot of times that requires physical damage to the property. Every policy is different, everyone has to look at their policy. But at first glance, a lot of these business interruption insurance policies aren't going to cover what's happening right now." 

It's also worth calling your lawyer for help deciphering your lease, strategizing about how to negotiate with your landlord, and figuring out what assistance programs you may be eligible for.

If you can't afford an attorney, there are legal services that do free consultations with small business owners, including small business clinics at many law schools, and non-profit organizations like the Microenterprise Project and Lawyers for Civil Rights, which has a project that matches small businesses with attorneys willing to work pro bono.

With shelter-in-place orders in effect across much of the country, many restaurants and businesses are struggling to stay afloat. (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Call your landlord

If you've gone through your lease and found you're still on the hook for rent, the next step is to try to negotiate with your landlord.

"Call your landlord, say, 'For obvious reasons, I'm going through difficult times. I see a path where I can continue this lease, or I can continue this mortgage and support my business, and we can be long-term partners, but I do not have the cash to pay,'" said Michael Roth, a managing partner at the advisory firm Next Street.

Nicholson at Northeastern said they were getting reports of landlords willing to negotiate. For many landlords, it's mutually beneficial to work something out if it means a tenant's business survives until shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

If you do come to an agreement with your landlord to suspend or defer rent, or pay less, "write that agreement down," Kats said. "Make sure both parties sign it, even if it's by an email, talk to a lawyer, if you have the access, to make sure that that agreement is in writing and enforceable after all of this is over."

It's also helpful to go into a negotiation knowing the financial aid available to you.

"A really important one will be the federal stimulus funds, the loans available through the SBA," Nicholson said. "Rent is specifically made an acceptable use of the proceeds from the loan. And in some circumstances, that expenditure could be forgiven.

"If you call up your landlord and are interested in negotiating, my sense is one of the first questions they're going to be asking is: Do you have those stimulus funds? Is that something that we could work with?"

Apply to the new Paycheck Protection Program

Starting on Friday, small businesses will be able to apply for an emergency loan — much of which can be forgiven — using the new Paycheck Protection Program

The program, run by the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department, came out of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a loan of up to $10 million. Any portion of the loan that goes toward payroll costs, rent, mortgage interest or utilities in the first eight weeks will be forgiven — as long as at least 75% was used for payroll.

This is a "phenomenal, phenomenal product and program that small businesses will be able to have access to," Roth said. But, he added, not everyone will be able to access the funds they need, at least not right away. 

"My biggest advice to any small business is get your documents in order now," Roth said. "Make sure that you have everything. If you have a banker, call them as soon as you can. You're not going to be able to reach them because they're going to be getting 10,000 calls, but just keep dialing, make sure that you are in close contact with them, and do whatever you can to be the first one to apply, because it's going to take awhile to get through."

You can also apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan instead of or in addition to a PPP loan. Unlike PPP loans, though, EIDL are not eligible for forgiveness. If you've already applied for a disaster loan, you may be able to refinance and convert it into a PPP loan to have it forgiven.

Look for local funding sources

At city and state level, there are other sources of funding for small businesses. Philadelphia created a $60 million fund to offer loans to small businesses. Chicago just launched a $100 million fund. Other cities and states are making resources available, too. 

"Unfortunately, there isn't a one-stop shop where you can find this right now," Roth said. "But Google is your best friend. So are the small businesses on the block with you who you've worked with before. Ask them where they're getting funding from. Find your local resources."

And as with the Paycheck Protection Program, he added, act quickly: "The demand… has been out of control."

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Analysis | The Technology 202: Start-ups struggling during coronavirus worry they won't qualify for new small business loans - The Washington Post

Posted: 02 Apr 2020 04:35 AM PDT

with Tonya Riley

Ctrl + N

Tech start-ups struggling during the coronavirus pandemic say there's broad confusion over whether they qualify for the small business loans made available in the massive stimulus package. 

Even some companies that could assist with the response to the pandemic say the uncertainty is making it harder for them to keep operating. 

Justin Bellante, chief executive of health care start-up BioIQ, says his company is looking into delivering in-home coronavirus tests and how its network could assist medical labs. But he is not sure whether his small company can get a slice of the $350 billion pie, due to Small Business Administration rules that predate the stimulus package that disqualify some companies that take checks from venture capital firms from taking federal loans. 

"It's almost schizophrenic," Bellante told me in an interview. "We have an opportunity and obligation to be part of the solution. But on the other side, we have to play defense because we have to navigate through these rules." 

A small business loan, he says, could help the company avoid cost-cutting measures such as cutting contractors or even last-resort layoffs as its corporate customers tighten their belts. 

The outcry from entrepreneurs has triggered a mad dash in Washington to clarify or waive the rules so that start-ups can take full advantage of the programs. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote a letter on Tuesday morning calling on the Trump administration to quickly issue guidance to ensure start-ups can access this form of credit. 

"For these small businesses, as for many others across America, access to forgivable [Paycheck Protection Program] loans will be critical to preserving jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and to securing America's leadership in science, technology and innovation," they wrote in the letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA administrator Jovita Carranza. 

Though many venture-backed start-ups have less than 500 employees and thus appear to be eligible for the small business relief programs laid out in the aid package, they could get caught up in the SBA's complicated "affiliation rules." The rules, as written, could be interpreted to mean start-ups backed by the same venture capital firm would be added together to determine a total number of "employees," even though they are separate companies. Since VCs often invest across companies of varying sizes, that aggregate total would almost always exceed 500. 

Two lobbying groupsthe National Venture Capital Association and TechNet — also sent letters to the Trump administration calling for a fix, which were co-signed by venture capital groups from more than 30 states. 

Venture capitalists and start-ups say any delay in getting companies federal assistance will come with major costs. 

"Everyday that we don't know, layoffs are happening," said Darcy Howe, managing director of KC Rise Fund, which invests in start-ups in Kansas and Western Missouri. "I am empathetic that they're building the plane as they fly it," Howe said. "Things are being done quickly in terms of government timelines. But it's not very quickly in start-up timelines." 

Jan Garfinkle, managing director of health care investing firm Arboretum Ventures, said revenue is already down at many companies she's invested in. Healthcare companies can't sell their products or services to hospitals that are totally overwhelmed by covid-19, and companies making medical devices have had to halt clinical trials. 

"We are having to lay off between 20 percent – and in some cases 50 or 60 percent – of our workforces in each of our companies, because we don't have enough capital to keep them employed," said Garfinkle, who also serves as chair of the NVCA, which represents venture capitalists in Washington. 

The companies each range in size from 10 employees to 150 employees, Garfinkle said, but because her firm has invested in more than 30 companies, the aggregate number of employees across the firm's investments is well over 500, which could disqualify them all from receiving some federal aid. 

At least four of the companies, including BioIQ, are working on technologies to respond to the coronavirus, Garfinkle said. And every single company she's invested in would seek a small business loan if the affiliation rules were changedbut they can't wait for Washington to act. 

"We made decisions to lay people off last week," she said. "We don't have any time." 

Other lawmakers on Capitol Hillespecially those with ties to California's Silicon Valley regionare calling for a quick fix to the problem.

"The archaic rules that discriminate against start-ups were drafted by bureaucrats who may never have met an entrepreneur and probably do not understand the meaning of the valley of death," Khanna told me in an email yesterday. "Literally hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost if start ups with any VC backing are not able to access SBA loans. Ironically, this will harm innovative companies who are helping find cures and vaccines for covid-19, working to procure essential medical equipment, to support telehealth, and to use AI to better understand covid-19 data and help us plan a response." 

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, another Democrat who represents Silicon Valley, sent a letter yesterday to the SBA yesterday calling on the agency to roll back the rules. More than a dozen lawmakers from both parties co-signed the letter, which said that Congress intended to help start-up workers with the small business relief provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Eshoo told me in an interview that lawmakers may not have known or understood the existing rules when the legislation was drafted. She said it would be most expedient for the SBA to issue a waiver, but that she would consider action in Congress if the agency did not. She said it could be a matter of life or death for many small companies. 

"If they don't have any help, they're going to shut the lights off and it will be the end of their undertaking," she said. "Innovation that comes from that sector, as small as they are in size, they're very important." 

Efforts to relax the rules could run into a major optics problem on Capitol Hillbut Eshoo stressed this isn't a bailout for Silicon Valley billionaires. 

While many venture capital firms have raised record amounts of funding in recent years, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Scott Kupor says no firm's reserves were prepared for a global pandemic and the resulting economic consequences. Venture capital firms can deploy some capital into start-ups, he said, but many of his companies are still interested in participating in the small business loan program. 

"The loans can be a potential complement to direct VC investment," he told me in an email. 

The SBA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the calls to relax or at least clarify the rules. But Carol Wilkerson, a SBA spokeswoman, said the agency is presently trying to schedule a joint background briefing call with the Treasury Department. 

Meanwhile, some entrepreneurs say they can't wait more than a week for clarity from the government before making tough calls. Mike Kujak, president and chief executive of the Minnesota medical device start-up, says the uncertainty means he has to "overplan in either having to furlough, let people go or take salary reductions." 

Without a loan, Kujak tells me that he may have to cut 15 percent of his staff. Employees at the 24-person company who remain will have to take salary reductions, with vice presidents and executives taking more significant cut. 

"We'll have to do it by the April 15 payroll," he said.  

BITS, NIBBLES AND BYTES

BITS: Both Facebook and Twitter removed posts from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sharing coronavirus misinformation, Kurt Wagner at Bloomberg News reports. It's an example of how the platforms, which normally refuse to police world leaders, are taking a more aggressive moderation stance when it comes to coronavirus misinformation. 

In the videos, Bolsonaro stated that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective treatment for covid-19. But the efficacy of the drug, which President Trump has also praised, is still under investigation by Centers for Disease Control researchers.

Facebook said the video violated its policies against sharing content that could cause users physical harm. Twitter cited its recently expanded content rules that prohibit the spread of unverified covid-19 information that could put users at greater risk.

Twitter deleted a similar tweet from Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend. 

Bolsonaro declined to comment on the Twitter removal.

NIBBLES: An Amazon worker says he was fired for helping to organize a walkout of 50 employees at the retail giant's Staten Island warehouse yesterday, my colleagues Nitasha Tiku and Jay Greene report. The alleged firing could add more fuel to a growing protest movement of gig and retail workers fighting for safer working conditions and benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

New York Attorney General Letitia James called for an investigation into the termination. "It is disgraceful that Amazon would terminate an employee who bravely stood up to protect himself and his colleagues," she wrote in a statement.

Smalls was asked to stay at home with pay because he came in contact with a diagnosed co-worker, Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski told my colleagues. He was fired for ignoring that order and putting his co-workers at risk, she said. (Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post.) 

But Smalls alleges Amazon hadn't previously warned him not to come in. "They are trying to silence me for speaking up on behalf of the people," Smalls told Nitasha and Jay yesterday. "It's retaliation."

Only 15 of the warehouse's 5,000 employees participated in the demonstration, Levandowski told my colleagues in a statement. Levandowski did not immediately respond to questions about Smalls's termination.

Instacart workers also went on a nationwide strike yesterday and workers at Whole Foods, a subsidiary of Amazon, are planning a sickout today. But so far it's unclear whether the strikes will push companies to meet workers' demands. Instacart told my colleagues that orders were up compared to the week before. Amazon and Whole Foods both maintain they are taking appropriate steps to keep workers safe. 

The protests have drawn support from at least half a dozen Democrats, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) 

BYTES: Facebook's fact-checking partners are struggling to keep up with a deluge of viral coronavirus content, Jeff Horwitz at the Wall Street Journal reports. The pandemic poses a significant stress test for ramped-up fact-checking resources that Facebook helped fund ahead of the 2020 elections. 

One partner, Lead Stories, reached its fact-checking quota for its contract with Facebook by the middle of March, Jeff reports. Since March, the company has fact-checked 200 viral coronavirus claims, including viral posts claiming that a coronavirus vaccine for dogs was being withheld from humans. In the United States, the content is mainly a mix of misguided organic content such as false remedies and political misinformation, such as claims that 60 Democrats blocked coronavirus relief payments in the Senate. 

Lead Stories is just one partner of a coronavirus-specific fact-checking alliance, nearly half of which are funded by Facebook. Members call Facebook's investments essential to increasing fact-checking efforts online.

"We were here before Facebook started working with us," said Cristina Tardáguila, associate director at Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network, which coordinates the network. "But there is no other program like this." 

PUBLIC CLOUD

New York regulators want answers about how the videoconferencing app Zoom, which has surged in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, is protecting users' data and privacyDanny Hakim and Natasha Singer at the New York Times report

New York Attorney General Letitia James expressed concerns that Zoom might not have the resources to deal with a boom in users that has made the platform an attractive target for hackers and scam artists. She also wants to know how the company dealt with past security bugs, including a vulnerability that allowed hackers to access users' cameras. 

The letter also asks what other companies Zoom is sharing user data with, noting a recent Motherboard report that the company shared data from its iPhone app users with Facebook. (Zoom has since removed the feature.)

Zoom might also be violating state requirements that companies protect student data as more teachers flock to the service to teach remote lessons, James said. 

Zoom pledged to cooperate with James's requests and told the Times it takes "its users' privacy, security and trust extremely seriously." 

— More news from the public sector:

PRIVATE CLOUD

— Peak traffic on Comcast's network is up 32 percent since March 1, the company reported yesterday. That number has increased up to 60 percent in some areas during the covid-19 pandemic. A shift to teleworking played a big role: Video and voice-over-Internet conferencing is up 212 percent while VPN traffic is up 40 percent, the company reported.

— More news from the private sector:

#TRENDING

— News trending around the web:

CHECK-INS

  • The Alliance for Securing Democracy  will hold an interactive webinar to discuss narratives and long-term trends in China's information manipulation efforts at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI  will livestream its COVID-19 and AI conference on Wednesday from 9am- 4pm PT.

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