The Emotional Toll of the PPP Loan Process

by DogwoodDad

First of all, the concerns expressed here in no way, shape or form compare to the pain of those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, of those who have had to endure hardships on the frontline of this crisis. God bless them all.

I am, however, surprised by the emotional toll that this PPP process is taking, and I am sure many others are feeling the same. Yes, the process of preparing and submitting applications is stressful, as it seemed like every lender has a different interpretation of the requirements, and wants the data cut a slightly different way. Yes, the process of waiting for the lenders to review the applications is stressful. And yes, the process of waiting for the SBA to render a decision is stressful. If the SBA ever approves my app, I am sure the process of waiting for the funds to be deposited will be stressful as well, since the lending bank is not “required” to fund the loan post-approval. I am finding, however, that the most stressful piece of this is the all my mental second guessing of whether I did the “correct” things to maximize the probability of getting a loan approved. Did I apply to enough lenders, or too many? Did I interpret questions correctly, and provide the correct information? Is there some unseen landmine I should have anticipated?

I guess this stress is related to the potential downside of making the wrong decisions. For small business, it goes beyond the dollars and cents. Without this loan, bankruptcy is a real possibility for my small business. But, to me, even worse than losing the business I’ve spent the last 20 years creating is the prospect of looking my 12 employees in the eye and telling them I can no longer pay them. Like a lot of small business owners, I think, they are my extended family. Prior to starting my own small business, I worked for several large companies, and on a few occasions had to do mass layoffs of a room full of people. This is far worse, however. These employees are my friends. I see them in church, at the ball-field, and in the grocery store. I know their kids and spouses, and have been to their graduations and weddings. They have been tremendously loyal to me. I kid you not – I would rather get this damn virus and take my chances than have to let these people go.

The guilt and remorse associated with potentially making a wrong decision that puts these people’s livelihood at stake is brutal. As small business owners, we are used to, for the most part, controlling our own destiny. That’s one of the things we love about running a small business. However, this PPP loan process is so random, and such a black box, I feel totally helpless. I’m not the only one, I am guessing. While I appreciate the fact that there this program was created and funded, did the process need to be so random and arbitrary? Hopefully if, God forbid, something like this ever arises again, there is a better process in place that is understandable, manageable, and equitable.

Sorry for the long post. Don’t mean to be a whiner, but felt like I had to air out a few emotions, as others in the same boat may be feeling this way as well. Good luck all.