Choose Action Over Panic During Corona Shock — preparation is the key

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world, many companies are adapting to the remote work lifestyle. However, numerous small businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge as they are forced to put their business on hold as an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Due to the uncertainties posed by the coronavirus outbreak, with no signs of improvement soon, the demand for small business loans spikes. Many small businesses turned to financial companies like Celeri Network, a small business loan broker that facilitates lending by connecting business owners to trusted partners.

Inspired by a poor experience he had with applying for a business loan, the 23-year-old CEO Justin Cheng started the company with the hope of helping small business owners like him by offering a service that “puts the best loan offers [they] have on the table.”

Since the SBA (Small Business Administration) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the New York-based financial company has been able to work with banking partners approved by SBA to help both the essential and non-essential businesses to get the funding.

While Celeri Network has been encouraging small businesses in need to come to them and have them fast track the applications, Cheng said their existing clients were particularly having difficulties in securing a loan. With transportation companies and restaurants being the majority of their clients, the company had to make some difficult decisions in declining them since they were not qualified as essential businesses in regular loan lending standards. For that reason, Cheng said the company also saw a lot of revenue drop back in March, even though many assumed financial companies are mostly benefiting from this wave of demands.

Though the government is providing economic relief, the young entrepreneur advises to always prepare for unforeseen events like this. Cheng, for example, said he had begun to prepare for the pandemic since he first heard about the virus; Some of the preparations include recruiting, capital raising and applying for more credit cards.

“In Chinese, ‘crisis’ is composed of two words, which are ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity,’” Cheng explained, “if the owners and operators keep that in mind, their businesses will become stronger after the crisis.”

At times like this, according to Cheng, it is especially important to be proactive and communicate with the lender. “Almost every lender in the country right now is going to work with you, just have to be honest and communicate with the lenders on the loan or credit cards you have with them,” said Cheng.

Cheng further explained by providing a case example with American Express; American Express currently offers no late fees as well as interest charges for its borrowers. “If you call now and be honest about not being able to pay the bills because you’re being affected by the virus, they won’t cancel your cards,” Cheng said. “They will only cancel your card if you just decided not to pay and boycott the emails, which could ruin the relationship with the bank.”

Besides getting a loan in times of need, Cheng also suggested business operators to always save at least three to four months’ worth of payroll as an emergency fund in the bank. With Celeri Network, for instance, he kept six months’ worth of payroll in the bank. “It’s certainly a safety method that makes you feel safe sleeping at night, knowing you won’t go out of business the next day,” said Cheng. “However, when you go back to work, you need to pivot your business as soon as possible so you would survive the crisis.”

Another suggestion Cheng provided, was to build a lending relationship and get a line of credit with financial institutions, “even though you may not need to borrow money.”

Neither Celeri Network nor Justin is being endorsed by American Express or other financial institutions. Justin is not a certified financial planner, please do your own research on making any financial decisions.

Published on Kigyo Gaikyo May 2020

*Access Japanese version of this article here *