8 Things You Can Do to Ensure Your PPP Application is Approved

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Applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan? Here are our top tips for speeding up the approval process.

Congress has passed a third round of stimulus that goes into effect the week of January 11th. This includes $284 billion in relief funds for small businesses to be made available through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and a slew of updates for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program that will go into effect on January 15, 2021. Click here to learn where you can apply for the new PPP funds and here for up-to-date information on the EIDL changes.

Now it’s good to remember that the application and allocation process for the original PPP program was anything but smooth. The funds made available through the CARES Act were exhausted in just under 2-weeks, and even with a more careful rollout, it’s likely that this next round will go just as fast. 

To give you the best chance of getting your application approved before the money runs out, here are our tips from first-hand experience, (applying for our company and helping various nonprofits) to help you apply.

1. Determine the amount you are eligible for

The maximum amount you qualify for is based on your average monthly payroll (details about what is and what is not included are here) times 2.5. If you’re in the hospitality industry, such as restaurants and hotels, you can actually qualify for three and a half months of payroll costs, up to $2 million. Take your average monthly payroll and multiply it by 3.5 times. 

Depending on if you apply through your bank or an SBA-approved fintech lender, this may or may not be calculated for you. Be sure to ask about receiving a CARES Act Report to help simplify this process.

2. Calculate the amount that can be forgiven

You are for 8 weeks of payroll, rent, and or mortgage interest and some utilities. But you must spend 75% of the money on payroll, and you must maintain your full-time employees and not lay people off. You can get the details about forgiveness calculations here.

3. Determine eligible expenses you’ll cover with the PPP Loan

Make sure your business can use the PPP money appropriately so that you can ask for forgiveness. Some businesses have large rent or mortgage payments and would use more than 25% of the PPP loan for rent and or mortgage. Other businesses may have already laid off or furloughed employees, and it may not make sense to bring those employees back. But it could be just what your business needs to receive loan forgiveness.  

If you have not yet put together a profit and cash flow forecast to understand your current financial situation, and how the PPP loan would help (or not), now is the time.

4. Have your paperwork ready

While the SBA has an application that they have given banks, many banks have their own process. You will need:

  • Tax returns for at least 2019, but if you have 2 years of tax returns easily available, get those ready. 
  • Payroll reports that show clearly how you achieved your total loan amount.
  • Legal company formation documents or organization legal structure/setup, ownership, etc. 
  • You will need to document in one way or another how COVID-19 has negatively impacted your business. The easiest way to do this is to compare your sales from February to April 2019 to your 2020 sales for the same months. Also document the downturn in sales from January 2020, monthly, through the current month. The last piece is to create a forecast of the continued impact on your sales based on the current trends. If you followed step 2 correctly, you should have this forecast scenario in hand already.

Second draw loan qualifications

One unique aspect of this round of PPP funding is that you can apply for a second time. These second draw loans have a separate application and are meant for those that have, or soon will, exhaust all the funds from their original loan. 

Your business qualifies for a second draw PPP Loan if

  • Your small business, nonprofit, veterans organization, agriculture coop, sole proprietor, or other eligible organization has less than 300 employees.
  • You must have used or have a plan in place to use your original PPP funding.
  • Your business must have at least a 25% reduction in revenues in at least one quarter in 2020 compared to that same quarter in 2019.

The 25% reduction in revenue is the part you need to focus on. You need to make comparative reports that don’t include funding from the original round of PPP. Additionally, if you’re only seeking a loan of $150,000 through the same lender you worked with the first time, you may not need to provide quarterly revenue information.

5. Work with a local bank if possible

Not everybody banks with a local community bank, but if you do, you will find you are more likely to be able to work with a real person and get more information and better service throughout the process. The larger banks have long lists of businesses and organizations that have applied, and many have stopped taking new applications. You may need to move your business bank accounts to the local community bank to get into their queue, but it may be the difference between getting and not getting PPP money.

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6. Apply through multiple lenders

If you applied for the first round of PPP last year, we recommend that you apply through the same lender. They already have your information on file and are likely familiar with your business and status from the first round of funding. What’s changed with the January expansion, is that it’s safe and beneficial to apply through multiple lenders.

You cannot get more than one PPP loan this round, but thanks to the SBA’s E-Tran system, which is how your lender submits your application, they will only process your first completed application. If approved, the SBA will reserve your funds and assign you a PLP (preferred lending partner) number. You’ll then receive closing documents from your lender and they’ll finalize your loan. 

At this point, any other applications that have been submitted will be automatically rejected by this system with no complications to your approved loan. For a full rundown of this process, check out this article by Bench

*Editor’s note: Special thanks to LivePlan reader, KC, for notifying us of this update to the PPP application process. They also noted that it’s best to be courteous and withdraw any open applications once you’ve been approved. But don’t do this until you’ve received an SBA loan number and promissory note to sign.

7. Check out one of the fintech companies that is processing PPP loans

There are several fintech companies that are working directly with SBA-approved partners to process loans. Not every organization from the first round is participating, but a good portion are already taking applications. The biggest issue with these companies is that for the most part, they are using technology to fully automate the process. This makes it easy and simple for current customers that have that info on file but can lead to misfires for those that just joined or that are just applying. 

If there is something “wrong” or filled in incorrectly they will just reject you, most of them without telling you what is actually the problem. But it doesn’t hurt to get in line and see what happens.

8. Follow up!

Wherever you applied, don’t be shy. Email, call, and ask for information. You should be getting responses and you should be getting information. Once your application goes through and the funds are allocated by the SBA, your lender has 10 business days to get your loan documents and fund your PPP loan. 

If you do these 9 things when applying for a PPP loan, you stand a better chance of your application being approved and the money from the loan being made available to you much more quickly. If you’re looking for more insight into what you can do to help your business survive and thrive through this crisis, check out our recent writeups listed below.

Crisis Planning Resources

How to create a plan to save your company in a crisis:

When facing an economic crisis, it can be difficult to think about the future of your business. The need to survive takes precedence over planning and that can lead to both short and long-term problems for your business. But there are steps you can take to save your business and pivot to recession-proof success. Read More.

Why You Should Update Your Budget and Forecasts in the Age of Coronavirus:

Don’t let times of uncertainty lead to panic and rushed decisions. Instead find ways to adapt and plan, starting with reviewing your budget and forecasts. Read more.

Paycheck Protection and SBA Disaster Loan Checklist:

Streamline the loan application process and get your emergency funding faster with the right documents and reports. We’ll show you exactly what you need today to win an SBA loan. Read more

How to Manage Cash Flow in a Crisis:

Cash flow management in a crisis is absolutely vital. Check out our five tips to improve your cash flow and help your small business survive and thrive. Read more

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Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007. She and her husband, Noah, founded a UK software distribution company in 2001 that was acquired by Palo Alto Software in 2002. Sabrina is a successful Internet expert, having served as Director of Online Marketing at Commtouch, Senior Producer at Epinions, and founder of her own Web consulting company, Lighting Out.
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