When the Federal government shut down on October 1, 2013, “non-essential federal employees” were furloughed—meaning they could not go in to work. And while many Americans don’t necessarily feel that effect on a day-to-day basis, small business owners who were considering SBA loans will definitely see the impact.
About 62% of SBA, or Small Business Association, loan officers went on furlough effective October 1, according to BloombergBusinessWeek. And with that many government employees on furlough, access to small business financing is seriously restricted. In fact, the only SBA loan programs that remain open during a government shutdown are the Disaster Loan Program and the Inspector General disaster-funded and investigatory activities. All other SBA loan programs that small businesses have come to rely on are halted, including the flagship 7(a) and 504 loan programs, SCORE, and the PRIME program.
The impact is expected to restrict access to more than $96 million per day.
Work Around the Shutdown Backlog with Alternative Small Business Financing
Even now that the government has reopened, the backlog will continue to have an impact on small business owners and their access to financing programs. In the meantime, small business owners still have daily operating expenses and biweekly payroll to worry about.
If you’re waiting for the SBA loan process to pick back up, now may be the right time to consider an alternative small business financing arrangement, such as a merchant cash advance. But take care when searching for alternative small business financing. When access to traditional bank financing isn’t available, predatory lenders may “pop up,” offering too-good-to-be-true options for small business owners feeling the pinch.
In August, we explored three characteristics of a quality, trusted merchant cash advance partner (industry expertise, direct funding, and full disclosure). Those considerations are even more important now, and there are a few more to think about:
Reputation and security – Look for merchant cash advance partners who have been helping small businesses with their cash flow needs for decades. A solid partner will have a robust online presence that includes an informational website, comprehensive blogs dating back over time, and up-to-date social media. You want to research the partner’s reputation, and you want to know that they won’t disappear when you need them most.
Overpromising – The right merchant cash advance partner will set realistic expectations with you about repayment plans, interest rates, and availability of funds. You should be comfortable with these terms, and you should understand that if the agreement sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The government shutdown won’t last forever, but the pipeline of SBA loans is full, and the effects of the backlog will linger. Preparing your small business with alternative financing arrangements that make sure you can continue to succeed in any economic climate means finding the right partner for your business.