The small-biz lifeline isn’t going smoothly

April 6, 2020
The Hustle

Who else spent the weekend Googling mask designs? When this whole quarantine thing started, we promised ourselves we’d learn a new skill — but we definitely didn’t expect it to be mask-making. And as it turns out… the hands behind today’s email aren’t much for sewing. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Bobby will add some mask pointers to his WFH tips. In the meantime, that old Bonnaroo bandana will have to do…

Oh, one more thing: We’re launching a new podcast on Thursday. Keep your eyes peeled for updates later this week. 👀

Corona Cash

The race is on for the government’s small-business rescue loans

But it got off to a bumpy start.

Last Friday, lenders began accepting applications from small businesses that want to tap into $349B in coronavirus relief funds to keep their companies afloat.

Chaos set in REAL quick

Some big banks said at first that they weren’t ready to start processing loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Some financial institutions that did begin taking the applications were criticized for placing restrictions on who could apply.

  • As of Sunday, Citi’s website said that it was “not yet able to accept the loan applications.”
  • Bank of America is accepting them, but it’s essentially limiting eligibility to current small-business clients.

The Small Business Administration typically processes about 60k loans in an entire year, and NBC News reported Saturday that the system was overwhelmed. An email from the SBA to lenders apologized for “ongoing technical issues.”

Some companies and smaller banks are worried that the money will be eaten up by the largest players, putting rural businesses at a disadvantage.

The Associated Press reported last week that lobbyists for big hotel and restaurant chains are trying to help their clients get around the PPP’s $10m cap on loans.

If your business is in Startupland, you might be SOL

The SBA clarified that religious organizations are eligible to receive loans under the PPP.

But venture-backed startups may still be on the outside looking in. Experts told The Wall Street Journal that the SBA’s affiliation rules make it hard for investor-backed startups to access the money, even after the Treasury Department tried to clear up confusion around them.

Looking for more information about how your business can access coronavirus relief money? Check out our complete guide.

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Entertain Yourself

People are turning to Google Docs for quaran-tainment

It’s either a sign of the depths of our boredom, or the endless creativity of the human spirit: Google Docs have emerged as an unusual outlet for people to entertain themselves in isolation.

Because nothing says excitement like word-processing software

People have used Google Docs (or, more specifically, Google Sheets) for all manner of charitable efforts.

They power “mutual aid” groups that run errands for vulnerable groups and distribute money to people in need.

But as Quartz discovered, Google Docs can be fun, too:

  • There’s a Google Doc escape room that sends players on a dark and dreamlike choose-your-own-adventure journey.
  • The comedian Marissa Goldman started a GOOGLE DOC PARTY, a comedy show that takes place in its own doc.
  • The Akron Art Museum compiles a weekly crossword puzzle using clues from fellow museums.

BYO slides to the PowerPoint party

A 6-pack of slide decks is another way to liven up your sad, self-isolated Saturday nights.

Ask your friends to prepare a short presentation on any topic of their choosing (the more obscure, the better). Get together on your favorite video conferencing platform. Presto, it’s a party in a Zoom meeting.

If you need a little inspiration, just check out some of the decks on Twitter:

  • “Which members of One Direction could I defeat in martial combat,” by Kendra, “sword owner and 1D scholar.”
  • “What is the ideal level of banana ripeness?” From responses to a prompt on a Hinge profile.
  • “Childhood characters that were definitely gay (but everyone was too homophobic to admit it.)”
  • 8 reasons why Cheesecake Factory is chaotic good. And why they must be stopped.”
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Check out these free Slack resources to help you and your team stay in touch better

Ahhh, Slack. Everyone’s favorite communication tool for the office is now everyone’s favorite communication tool for, well, everywhere.

Slack knows many users and teams are in a difficult spot lately, so they took the time to create this totally free set of WFH resources to help you stay connected while you’re spread out. It includes… 

If you’ve been feeling unproductive, out-of-touch, or you just straight-up miss your team, Slack is here to help put you back on the right path. And for that, we love them.

We <3 Slack →
The Corona-Conomy

Trends community highlights: Unexpectedly hot items for your socially distant lifestyle

Adrian Salamunovic got a message most entrepreneurs would only dream about. 

“Hey all,” he said in our Trends Facebook group, “a producer from the Today Show reached out to me to ask me to source ‘Best sellers during social distancing.’”

He asked our Trendsters to highlight solid businesses that are selling well in tough times. The responses came flooding in, and here’s the cool part: They’re not just toilet paper and WFH essentials.

Even the suggestions covering the industries you might expect (ahem, booze biz) highlighted products you might not think about. Here’s a sampling.

  • Traveller Collective: Clips and necklaces that commemorate past travels. “We have no disruption to our supply chain and have currently not seen any dip in sales.” (Hunter Durham)
  • Aura Frames: Digital photo frames. “… our sales have actually picked up since the crisis and we’re getting a lot of inbound press requests.” (Christine Zalocha)
  • Rainy Day Letters: Send people letters full of kind things other people have to say about them. “Things are pretty shitty right now, and mental health is a big worry, so our service/product is seeing a lot of attention.” (Wyatt Cavalier)
  • Proof Alcoholic Ice Cream: Say no more. “We are seeing incredible growth at the grocery store level and also increasing orders with our e-commerce partner.” (Jenn Randall-Collins)

Want more ideas? Start your Trends trial to join the conversation.

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The Hustle Says

Complex ranked all the Tiger King characters. If you haven’t watched the #1 series on Netflix yet, what are you waiting for? Thanks Complex.

Be better than K-Cups. If you’re looking for a home grinder with cafe capabilities, get the Ode Brew Grinder before anyone else does. 

It’s a great time to buy stocks. No, seriously — when are you gonna see prices potentially lower than this? Find which ones might have the biggest upside in 2020 with Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor service.*

*This is a sponsored post.

Weird Weather

Cloudy with a chance of confusion: Coronavirus messes with the forecast

When you’re stuck inside all day, you may not care about the weather — whether the sun is shining, the clouds are glooming, or it’s raining freakin’ frogs. (Seriously, it wouldn’t surprise us at this point — we see you, Idaho earthquake.)

But some parts of the business world care about the forecast quite a bit, thankyouverymuch. Commodities markets (like food and gas) rely on accurate predictions to anticipate demand.

And the corona-crisis means the forecast is hazier

Why? It’s all about airplanes. The ones that AREN’T flying, that is.

Meteorologists use forecast models powered by hundreds of thousands of data points collected from commercial flights. The data began disappearing when planes were grounded.

  • Last month, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts said it had seen a 65% reduction in reports over a roughly 3-week period.
  • The World Meteorological Organization said European weather services were collaborating on ways to fill the gap.

In the meantime, the forecasts won’t go completely dark. The most important observations come from satellites. There’s even a crew of pilots that flies missions to gather weather data — they’re known as the Hurricane Hunters.

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📉 Yeesh. A new analysis from The Wall Street Journal found that shutdowns have decimated 29% of the US economy’s daily output.

📹 It’s launch day for Quibi, the buzzy mobile video service. Is that a case of good timing, or the worst timing?

🏥 A new tradition in some big US cities: making some noise to show appreciation for essential workers.

🐐Goat 2 meeting: You can invite a goat to your next Zoom meeting.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Pat Earnmaker (VP of Mask Styling), Nick “No Sewing Skills” DeSantis, Bobby Durben, Meg Furey-Marquess, and Michael Waters.

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