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We had a chance to sit down with Toby Scammel, the founder of Womply, a platform for small businesses.
He shares the story of how their company saw the small business impact of Covid even before the government, and how they have tried to help.
What is Womply?
Womply is a small business focused technology platform providing a series of marketing and financial solutions to support small business owners. Over the past ten years, we’ve served more than 500,000 customers.
How did Womply Get into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Space with a product to serve the solo self employed?
Our focus has always been small business, but we had historically focused on employer-based firms. Our firm generates a massive amount of data on small business, something we hadn’t surfaced. Last year, right around this time of year, we noticed that something very worrying was happening with small firms – and more especially very small firms – and we started to get concerned.
Trying to do something about this became a huge effort for us – taking us all the way to Capitol Hill, the SBA – and really to anyone who would listen to the alarm bell we were sounding.
Our concern was that very small businesses, under 20 employees and all the way to solopreneurs, were suffering in the pandemic, and needed the help of the administration. We felt the process for them to get PPP support was broken.
Our data showed this to us clearly and we wanted to both advocate and also to practically offer solutions to help.
So, we did both.
How Does Fast Lane Fit In?
We’ve been on this small business support journey since the CARES act was announced in 2020. PPP Fast Lane is a new 2021 offering we created and announced just this week to make it easier for sole proprietors and very small firms to apply for PPP loans and immediately access a network of lenders.
It’s a free tool and integrates into our platform. While we’re not a lender ourselves, we can help prepare a customer for more easily submitting the right information to be considered quickly for loans.
“Due to the combination of SBA draws available for both a first draw and a second draw PPP loan, it’s a chance to gain up to $42,000 in PPP loans for qualified sole proprietors who are well prepared with submission requirements”
A few data points drove us to launch Fast Lane – some of which actually came from MBO’s own State of Independence report, which is really impressive.
Only 3% of PPP dollars have gone to businesses with 0 or 1 employees
Only 5% of PPP dollars have gone to loans under $20,833
That’s why we focused our efforts on sole proprietor firms and helping them try to access, with an approved lender partner network, up to $20,000 in PPP loans. In fact, due to the combination of SBA draws available for both a first draw and a second draw PPP loan, it’s a chance to gain up to $42,000 in loans. The SBA website is a good resource, and we’ve optimized our system to help access both loans.
It’s Even Challenging for Large Firms to Get PPP Loans. Can Small and Solo Firms Expect Results?
It’s clearly a confusing time. The US Small Business Administration has announced a period of exclusive support for solopreneurs and small firms from Feb 24th-March 10th. However, it’s important to know lenders are still waiting on final confirmation of some changes the administration has proposed.
Lenders will now ask non employer firms for a Schedule C filing as well as their 1040. The change is that traditionally lenders were asked to use Line 31 in the 1040, which is the net profit line. This hurt small firms who might be depreciating assets and reduced their opportunity. For example, an Uber drive might be depreciating a car and have a very low number in Line 31.
Now, we’re being told that loan applicants and lenders can use the Gross Income or Line 7 instead. This is a big change for applicants.
If you understand these changes and your application is prepared with them in mind, once the lenders get official approval from the administration – they will be able to move on applications in queue. So be prepared.
What are your future plans in terms of advocating for independents and how can MBO help?
We’re preparing to be part of a bigger coalition of firms – and we are so pleased that MBO’s founder Gene Zaino and your advocacy team will also be a part – that will speak openly to the US administration to ask them to allow applicants to have more time to access funds that are being earmarked for small and solo firms.
With all the confusion on guidance, it’s doesn’t really leave a lot of time for lenders to respond and to actually be able to serve the loan requests before the expiration of this March period.
To best support small firms and solopreneurs – gig workers – the lot, we need more time.
So, let’s work together to make sure that March 31st isn’t the end of the road for small firms seeking PPP support. And that enough self-employed workers can take quickly advantage of the exclusive period from today until March 10th.