Advice From Nesha Pai, A Charlotte CPA & Finance Expert

Charlotte CPA
Nesha Pai, a Charlotte CPA, on work and life during quarantine.

Nesha Pai is a speaker, podcast host, author, business-owner, and entreprenuer. Follow her work here: neshapai.com or pick up a copy of her book, Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles, today.

How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
I have a virtual accounting firm and employ stay at home moms, so adjusting to
work-from-home has been fine, but I am being very flexible for my moms now
having to homeschool their kids. We lost 70% of our client base during the
quarantine because most of our clients are restaurants, in the event industry, salons, or
other non-essential businesses. Our biggest impact was helping our clients who
were forced to shut down and being a rock in this for them.

Have you taken advantage of applying for the SBA Loans available?
I certainly have. I have applied for both the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan)
and the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans. As a small business owner,
we need to take advantage of what is available to us. I have already received the
grant portion of the EIDL and am approved for the loan. I applied immediately
when these programs came out. I also encouraged my clients to do the same.

What has been the biggest hurdle in navigating the SBA funding for small businesses?
Understanding what exactly is available and what the differences are. The lingo
in applying for these loans is very legal or accountant-speak so many business
owners do not understand even the terminology or what the loan applications are
asking for. I feel the application process has been complicated. The EIDL loan
application process changed three times online. The PPP Loan process has
been quite upsetting for many business owners as banks had to literally get their
act together overnight in creating online portals and methods to accept
applications.

What have you been doing to help your clients and others?
I have been offering free webinars for groups and in partnership with other
businesses to help folks on a wider level. They have been very successful in
helping businesses understand what all is available under the CARES act. I have
also been updating my social media with relevant information related to these
loans, unemployment, and the stimulus check. I have a consortium of
professionals I work with and get valid real time information from and want to
pass that along.

What actions steps do you recommend that small businesses take right now?
Preserve your cash as best as you can. By now, most have talked to creditors
and landlords. Also, take advantage of applying for both SBA loans and then
wait. Waiting is the hardest part but the funding is starting to trickle down. There
are too many regulations and guidelines for the funding to appear overnight so I
am telling folks that It could take weeks to see any money show up.

Where can small businesses go for help if they need questions answered?
They should already be talking to their CPA, Banker, and Attorney by now. The
IRS, NC Department of Commerce (Employment Security) and the NC
Department of Revenue all have great COVID-19 resources and FAQ’s.

What is the best thing a business can do right now to stay afloat?
Other than filing for the loans and talking to creditors about deferment, they should
innovate! Crisis is a time to innovate and pivot to meet current conditions. I have seen
some amazing small business pivots here in Charlotte.