Signs Of Spring For Small Businesses
Written by CMG News Contributor, Doug Carleton
Even though the next few weeks may be the worst for the virus since it appeared, the economy is making progress, and there are signs that things may start to improve by late spring, and possibly significantly. Here is just one list of hopeful signs:
The vaccine rollouts are underway and gradually picking up steam, with at least one more vaccine possibly arriving in the next couple of months.
Testing regimens are improving as we learn more about how the virus works. Things like new therapeutics such as anti-body cocktails for at-risk patients and improved at-home testing are becoming more widespread.
As the calendar moves into 2021, the spike in COVID-19 cases from the holidays should begin to diminish. By March, as the weather starts to get warmer, people will begin to do more outside, creating a dramatic benefit for industries such as restaurants. The warming weather will probably eliminate more indoor gatherings in too-close quarters, which have been increasingly dangerous in spreading the virus.
By spring, the combination of the number of people who have already had COVID-19 plus millions more vaccinated people could start to mitigate the virus’s spread. About 19 million people have already had confirmed cases and are less likely to need the vaccine. Also, a sizeable portion of the US population is young children. They have not authorized the vaccine for young adults under 16, and schools for younger children are not dramatic spreaders. So every school that reopens means parents who may potentially be able to go back to work.
As the spread of the virus begins to slow and people start to spend again (remember that large hoard of cash sitting in peoples’ accounts waiting to be utilized), businesses seeing where the economy is going will begin hiring and spending in anticipation of an improving economy.
Then there is the big one – the recently approved stimulus bill. There are two 800-pound gorillas in the bill of particular significance. The first is extended job benefits for the unemployed and relief for small businesses. In the simplest terms, these job benefits give people a chance to survive until at least March when things should already be improving, plus there is the intangible benefit – hope. “Hang on just a little longer. Better times are ahead.” The other gorilla is the relief available for small businesses with the second round of PPP loans. And hopefully, this time, lenders will be more careful about making the loans to large companies that don’t need the money and concentrate more on smaller businesses that need it desperately. And even though they have not finalized the details of how the program will work, it is already known that they are reducing size regulations for potential recipients, meaning that smaller businesses will have funding available.
Other targets in the bill only get a few billion, such as money for vaccine distribution ($48B), colleges and schools ($82B), and transportation ($45B). But every dollar that goes out – wherever it goes, benefits somebody and speeds’ the chances for economic growth.
The days are getting longer. Spring is coming.
This blog entry is a slightly edited excerpt from Doug Carleton's 'The Daily Life Of A Small Business Owner' series. Doug was a mentor with SCORE, Startup Virginia, and Lighthouse Labs, and has 25+ years of experience in small business finance including 12 years in SBA lending. To contact Doug directly, please email him at email@example.com.