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When COVID hit in 2020, everything changed—from the way you do business to the way you network. And that means how you finance your business changed, too.

So how did small business financing shift over the last year and a half? What innovative new solutions and programs emerged as a result? And how can you take advantage of them to make financing easier, faster, and more efficient? Read on to find out.

Cash Flow Pre-COVID

Pre-COVID, the average business had 37 days of cash on hand, and many consumer-facing businesses like restaurants operated well below this level. When COVID hit in March 2020 and businesses had to close indefinitely, these business owners still had bills and employees to pay and inventory to sell.

Thankfully, the U.S Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Canadian business relief programs helped many of you survive. But they weren’t perfect. Many struggled to access funds in time and others needed more than the loan provided.

The Need for A Diverse Banking System 

While accessing capital has always been challenging for small business owners, COVID put a spotlight on just how tough it can be, especially when it came to lenders.

During the most critical time of the financial crisis (March–May 2020), the major money center banks like Chase and Wells Fargo turned their backs on the small business economy. Rather than helping small business owners acquire PPP, they rewarded key customers with preferred access and enriched themselves at taxpayers’ expense. 

Through their actions, they were demonstrating the importance of a diverse banking system. And that gave other lenders an opportunity to step up. Many local, regional, and credit union banks, who lacked the technical teams and resources, helped fill the void.  

The Path to Recovery

In these ways, the COVID crisis changed small business funding. Now, we all see how important a diverse banking system is in ensuring equal access, how government support helps the small business economy, and how technology can improve access to capital.  

To find out more about the financial impact of COVID, Alignable tracked how small business owners were doing over the last 18 months. This research was used to inform policymakers, the press, and business owners of how this pandemic rippled across the small business economy. You can learn more in our Research Center.  

How Online Lenders Stepped in During the Crisis 

Because big banks failed to help small business owners, online providers had an opportunity to fill the gap. And they had a huge advantage—speed.

Here are a few companies that stepped up fast during the crisis: 

Fundbox

Fundbox provides ongoing access to capital by understanding your real-time cash flow needs through connections to QuickBooks or your financial institution. They recognized at the outset that large corporations were slowing down the payments to small business suppliers. 

So they created a movement called PayToday, which implored large corporations and government agencies to speed up their payments. 

Lendio

Lendio provides small businesses with access to loans by allowing them to submit their information once to solicit quotes from a wide range of lenders. They adapted their platform so it could work for PPP loans as well, thereby providing business owners with more ways to access PPP relief.  

Intuit

Intuit’s Innovation Lab created a simple calculator for business owners to figure out how much PPP relief they qualified for and then guided them on how best to apply.

How Government Support Helped Small Business Owners Survive COVID

The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) did a tremendous job as well, processing a massive level of PPP loan and forgiveness applications, the latter of which has been a relatively frictionless experience.  

While most COVID support programs have ended, a few programs like the COVID EIDL program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans of up to $2 million, and Targeted EIDL Advance, a grant for low-income communities, are still available through the end of 2021.  

Innovative New Solutions to Try

Online lenders like Fundbox, Lendio, and Intuit make financing your small business easier. To learn more about your options and see how they stack up, head over to the Small Business Funding Guide for exclusive offers and more.

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