The SBA Adjusts the EIDL, But Keeps It Confusing

With access expanded and loan limits lifted to $2 million, there may be a rush for the money.

Good morning!

Here are today’s highlights:

  • Lessons from companies that have succeeded at working remotely.

  • A startup brings modern technology to property management.

  • And should there be religious exemptions to employer vaccine mandates?

FINANCE

The SBA is increasing access to EIDL loans and offering up to $2 million: “For the 177,300 businesses that applied for grants for the vastly over-subscribed Restaurant Revitalization Fund program but did not receive any cash, the Small Business Administration has a solution: Get a loan. On Tuesday, the SBA published an interim final rule which took immediate effect. The SBA is expanding access to its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, low-interest loans for businesses and nonprofits damaged by the pandemic, to certain businesses—like restaurants with up to 20 locations, provided each location has no more than 500 employees. With more than $100 billion left in lending authority, and other aid programs out of commission, the agency expects demand for EIDLs to surge.”

  • “Considering that most restaurants successfully applying for RRF grants needed more than $280,000 on average, the expanded EIDL should more than cover their needs.”

  • “Whether getting that amount via a loan will be what will keep them from teetering over the edge is another question.” READ MORE

Ami Kassar, meanwhile, notes that the SBA has not officially announced the EIDL loan limit hike to $2 million: “But as some business owners logged onto their portal this morning, a button called ‘Request an Increase’ was visible. This button takes applicants to the EIDL application for up to $2 million. If you don't see that button, you are not currently eligible for the increase.”

  • “Per small businesses that have already filled out the $2 million application, there is no attestation required about the impact Covid has had on your business.”

  • “The interest and term of these loans are still 3.75 percent fixed (2.75 percent for non-profits) for 30 years with no prepayment penalties. Payments are deferred for 24 months after the original closing date of the loan.”

  • “Personal guarantees are required for loans over $200K by all 20 percent or more owners and all general partners/managing members.” READ MORE

SMALL BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY

Knock is automating property management: “Knock makes a customer-relationship management platform that helps property managers control all aspects of the rental process online, from tracking their inventories and communicating with tenants to booking showings with potential renters. Today, Seattle-based Knock's software manages 1.75 million housing units and serves more than half of the U.S. property owners on the National Multifamily Housing Council's top 50 list. Back in 2014, 20-something co-founders Demetri Themelis and Tom Petry quit their finance jobs because they saw an opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology to real estate.”

  • “In all, we met with hundreds of property-management companies. Sometimes they were cold drop-ins. We'd invite them into the Winnebago for Cheez-Its and a cold beer and to talk business. We spent months learning everything from their perspective: how they communicate with renters, what the rental journey looks like, where we could streamline things for the property manager.” READ MORE

HUMAN RESOURCES

Quartz has ranked the best companies for working remotely. Here’s what they’ve learned: “Flatfile, Loom, and Workato—respectively the No. 1 companies on our lists of top small, mediums, and large employers—used the lockdown year to finesse their policies and deepen their understanding of how to foster a high-functioning workplace online. For these three companies, going remote wasn’t just a contingency plan or a nice-to-have accommodation for employees—it’s been core to their success. Flatfile, Loom, and Workato share common traits: They’re US-based tech startups that are in the midst of rapid expansions. All three companies cite their ability to hire and support talent virtually anywhere in the world as a competitive advantage. Two of the three also have used their own products to make remote work easier and engaging for their virtual workforces.”

  • “Flatfile’s founders made a decision to employ primarily senior staffers who need less supervision. Says Boskovic, “We only hire people who are on the top third quartile of their talent bracket. This allows us to have people who can get going with very little oversight and generally drive their own growth in the company.’”

  • “Among the benefits at Flatfile, every employee gets a $10,000 allowance to design an ideal home office.”

  • “For Flatfile, the investment makes plain business sense. ‘Companies oftentimes pay upwards of $20,000 to acquire a new employee, and the replacement cost of employees is significantly north of that,’ Boskovic explains, factoring in recruitment and training expenses.” READ MORE

For some employers, the challenge is getting employees to bond with colleagues they may never meet in person: “The coronavirus pandemic, now more than 17 months in, has created a new quirk in the work force: a growing number of people who have started jobs and left them without having once met their colleagues in person. For many of these largely white-collar office workers, personal interactions were limited to video calls for the entirety of their employment. Never having to be in the same conference room or cubicle as a co-worker may sound like a dream to some people. But the phenomenon of job hoppers who have not physically met their colleagues illustrates how emotional and personal attachments to jobs may be fraying. That has contributed to an easy-come, easy-go attitude toward workplaces and created uncertainty among employers over how to retain people they barely know.”

  • “Many of those workers who never got the chance to meet colleagues face to face before moving on said they had felt detached and questioned the purpose of their jobs.” READ MORE

Editor’s Note: I’m going to record a one-on-one 21 Hats Podcast episode next week with William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, who really did see the Great Resignation coming. We’ll talk about what exactly he foresaw and how he thinks companies can cope. If you have questions for William about this or other topics, send them to me by replying to this email.

A Texas startup says it will open an out-of-state office because it’s struggling to recruit employees to Texas: “Solugen, a Texas chemicals company, said it plans to open a new research and development facility outside of the state because its social policies are making it difficult to recruit employees, Axios reported Tuesday. The Houston-based startup said it will more than double its R&D team over the next two years, with the company eyeing Massachusetts and California for the new facility, according to the Axios report. The organization employs about 115 people.”

  • “‘We've come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don't feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it's become a no brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere,’ Chief Executive Officer Gaurab Chakrabarti told Axios. “ READ MORE

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THE COVID ECONOMY

A former pastor says there should be no religious exemption to employer vaccine mandates: “Religious exemptions to employer mandates are a precious right in our democracy. This is why it is especially important not to offer such exemptions to coronavirus vaccine mandates. They make a mockery of Christianity and religious liberty. Now that the Food and Drug Administration has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, government agencies, universities and businesses are instituting vaccination requirements. This has prompted a wave of requests from individuals to opt out of such requirements by claiming a religious exemption.”

  • “First, there is no actual religious basis for exemptions from vaccine mandates in any established stream of Christianity.”

  • “The consensus of mainstream Christian leaders — from Pope Francis to Franklin Graham — is that vaccination is consistent with biblical Christian faith.”

  • “Even the sect of Christian Scientists, which historically has abstained from medical treatment, has expressed openness to vaccines for the sake of the wider community.” READ MORE

MANAGEMENT

Carey Smith is back with another hot take, this one about greedy business owners: “Why is it that the arc of the capitalist universe so often bends toward avarice? What is wrong with people like Jeff ‘Still Not an Astronaut’ Bezos, who allows his employees to be worked to the bone, only to skyrocket into space and then giddily thank them for paying for it? AYFKM? They give capitalism a bad name, and that galls me because when it’s done right, there’s no better system for creating economic prosperity.”

  • “A few years back, a Seattle CEO was all over the news for cutting his own $1 million salary to pay each of his employees and himself the same reasonable living wage.”

  • “While everyone was singing his praises, I thought people were missing the more important story: What was he doing paying himself $1 million in the first place, when that amount was nearly half of his projected net profit?” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

 Episode 75: I Don’t Pay for Podcasts. Why Would I Pay for Yours? In our most recent episode, Karen Clark Cole, Paul Downs, and William Vanderbloemen start with a discussion of how 21 Hats might finally take the plunge into monetization. We also discuss Karen’s decision to forgo less-profitable revenue, William’s grand experiment of unplugging for seven weeks, and Paul’s attempt to balance personal and company responsibilities. Plus, we consider the impact of The Great Resignation, and we look for lessons to take from last week’s discussion about mental health.

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren