How small businesses can cope with the shutdown
NEW YORK — Small businesses affected by the government shutdown are contending with either a drop in revenue or their inability to get help from federal agencies, or both. A look at what some owners are doing, and what owners should do to protect themselves during any future shutdowns:
• Federal contractors who aren’t getting paid and have no orders coming in are trying to increase their business from other customers. Tim Touchette, whose company Attache Corporate Housing manages temporary homes for business travelers including government employees, is working to increase sales from other types of clients. For example, diplomats, lawyers and college professors.
• Many small business federal contractors become dependent on the government for most of their revenue. Jennifer Schaus, who does consulting for government contractors, recommends that they diversify even when there’s no threat of a shutdown. "They should also want to work for state and local governments and some commercial clients," says Schaus, whose company bearing her name is based in Washington, D.C.
• Companies that want to obtain Small Business Administration loans should start the application process now. Although SBA employees aren’t able to review or approve applications, the loan process starts with banks; an application should be completed by the time the shutdown ends.
• Companies shouldn’t expect business to be back to normal right after the shutdown ends. Veterans of past shutdowns have learned that when government employees get back to work, they face a backlog of orders, requests and applications. According to Drew Boling, whose company, Custom Vehicle Upfitters, is a federal contractor, "we’ll still have months to get back on track."
• Having a line of credit or other financial cushion can help a company weather a shutdown. Owners whose companies are dependent on government contracts, or whose customers are government workers, should make sure they always have a financial buffer.