Time Is Of The Essence

Time. It is something we all have an equal measure of, but something we can often take for granted. Time, in moments of crisis as well, comes in short supply. Many have famously quipped about time.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – William Shakespeare
“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” – Theophrastus
“One cannot buy, rent, or hire more time.” – Peter Drucker

Every moment counts. We all have our go-to analogies and as a former Army officer, mine of course are military-related. It was captured quite well in Band of Brothers Episode 7, when LT Dike froze in the attack on the village of Foy and his men were pinned down. CPT Winters quickly assesses the situation and sends LT Spiers to relieve Dike and continue the attack. It’s in these moments, we begin to understand the true value of time and see how the effect of delay can be catastrophic to our collective success.

So too with this stimulus bill passed by Congress last Friday to help curve the critical effects of the current pandemic . As featured on our special episode of More Than Profit with John Lettieri, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Economic Innovation Group (EIG), and Ross Baird, Founder of Blueprint Local, although the bill is a step in the right direction it would have been even better three weeks ago. The New Localism reported “many small businesses are living on the brink. The average small business has 27 days of cash flow and for many restaurants, it’s more like 16 days. For these businesses, shutting down operations for even a few days risk running out of cash. And, “when you run out of cash, as a small business you’re dead,” says Karen Mills, former Administrator of the SBA.”

With 16 days of cash and an SBA going into this pandemic staffed at 60% capacity, many of the businesses that will be needed for the economic snapback in order to rehire the workforce currently unemployed, may not be here.

Let’s embrace the moment, push aside fear and scarcity, and work collaboratively with others.

Which is why, we got to work late last week to put together a Small Business Continuity Loan Fund with some amazing community partners. We were able to catalyze and coordinate this new fund of almost $1 million dollars to help provide loans to small businesses of up to $25,000 at 0%. This fund is specifically designed to help support the most vulnerable businesses in our community. Across the country, communities like AtlantaBirminghamIndianapolis and Kansas City are doing the same thing. Local leaders recognize we need to step in, and even alongside what the SBA will be rolling out, in order to preserve the Main Street we all enjoy.

Additionally (and surprisingly), we have gotten several calls from manufacturers converting production to support the relief effort, but banks are simply too slow to help support their efforts. Last week I was connected to someone at our state economic development agency asking if I knew anyone that would do an expedited loan for a company with an approved purchase order from the state. They had a packaging company willing to make and package 50,000 gallons of hand sanitizer at-cost. 60% of the raw materials were donated, but this wasn’t their core business. They had a guarantee of payment but no cash to acquire the remaining inventory to fulfill the order. Access Ventures was able to provide a 0% loan of $250,000 against the purchase order (they were doing it at-cost given the circumstance) and we were able to get donated legal to draft the closing documents. We were able to sign the documents and wire the money by EOB Monday!

I tell this story not to simply highlight our recent efforts but to show how with a flexible mindset and a little creativity communities can come together to address some of the most critical needs of our local economies. I am greatly encouraged by the coordination I see in communities across the country to respond in moments like this. But it is important we do not delay. Let’s embrace the moment, push aside fear and scarcity, and work collaboratively with others. Choosing to believe in the abundance of compassion and resources if we truly work together in moments of crisis like this.

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