Ep. 25

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Ep. 25: ???????????? ???????????????? ???????? ???????????????????????????????????? ???????? ???? ???????????????????????????????? ???????????????????? with Guest Gerri Detweiler, the Education Director from Nav.

Ep. 25: The role of Financing as a Business Owner with Guest Gerri Detweiler.

Listen to “Ep. 25 | Why All Businesses Need to Apply for the SBA Disaster Loan” on Spreaker.

Home Service Toolbox Ep.25

Brian: Well on today’s episode we’re going to be interviewing Gerri Detwiler, the education director of Nav, and during this episode we’re going to talk about staying prepared and being proactive about your finances and financial education. So, I am Brian, I’m the host and I’m joined today by my co-host, Olivia. How are you today, Olivia?

Olivia: I’m great. Brian. Social distancing week two, it’s going pretty well.

Brian:  Yes, I’m hopefully everyone else is doing the social distancing, but today marks our 25th episode. I feel like I’ve earned my keep now, you know, a quarter of a century old for our home service toolbox show. So, we’re excited about that. But we would like to welcome Gerri Detweiler, the education director of Nav to the show. And Gerri is a business credit and financing expert with more than 20 years of experience. She’s authored five different books, including the most recent ones, finance your own business, Get on the financing fast track. And she also serves as the education director, at Nav, a service that matches small business owners to their best financing options and gives free access to personal and business credit scores. And so, Gerri, welcome to the show.

Gerri: Oh, thank you Brian. Thanks Olivia.

Brian : Well, in light of today’s current standing of the Corona virus, you know, we talked pre-show that we plan, you know, this time, and our guests on our show, months in advance, who knew that we were going to be in the midst of a financial crisis and you know, the whole point of your services and the things that you help the people in the business world is to stay prepared. And now we find ourselves in the midst of needing to have been prepared. So, what’s life like in your business right now?

Gerri: We are busier than ever. I would say I’m used to working remotely, so that hasn’t been a change, but I’ve put in longer days the past week and a half than I have in a long, long time. Except for maybe conferences because we’re trying to keep up with all the programs that are available to small business owners and then disseminate that information to them, help them understand how that might help them. And then also we’re taking calls every day from business owners who are still getting financing. So, depending on where you are in the country or what type of industry, you’re in, there are some lenders who are still lending and so we’re trying to help those business owners get financing, you know, if they still can.

Brian: Well, I mean, who knew? It’s kinda crazy. It’s definitely unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, you know, as small business owners. You know, I’m interested to see, I think I saw the news, I’ve been going every which way this morning, but I believe the things have passed, through the senate and, is that correct?

Gerri: Yes. So right now, they have come to an agreement and so we’re talking Wednesday, March 25th. So right now, the stimulus bill has come to an agreement and they are hoping to pass it later today. The house, has to get a resolution so they don’t have to bring everyone into vote, in the meets the unanimous vote. So, we’re close. We’re, we’re close. So, we don’t know exactly what the final relief looks like, but I can certainly talk about what we’re expecting and then also the relief that is currently available through the economic disaster assistance loan program and some state programs as well.

Brian: Well, awesome. I think this is going to be a, a great show, and I’m excited for our listeners, you know, because you know, most of our listeners are small business owners and I think, you know, the reality is, in the past, when there’s been government assistance, it’s not always been felt at the small business level. And so, I’m interested to hear what you have to say. I’m interested in hearing, you know, where this goes with the government and, all that stuff. So, why don’t you, I mean we have lots of questions, but I mean, I think just because of this, you know, this outbreak, I think let’s just dive right in. What are some of the things that you are aware of? Are we expect to kind of see from, this, this passing of legislation?

Gerri: Okay. So right now, what we do have that’s already been made available to many small business borrowers is the economic injury disaster assistance loan or disaster loans. And those are traditionally loans that are made to businesses in a physical disaster. You know, hurricane, flood, tornado, something like that. So, this is an unusual situation, but they’ve actually modified the applications already to account for economic injury. And that basically means money to help you pay the bills to keep your business open, and, and money that you would have had likely available to pay those bills had not, this disaster occurred. So, it’s designed to sort of tide you through. Now the couple of things that I do like, and first of all, Brian and Olivia, I will say, I know there’s a lot of small business owners who do not want to borrow money. And I get that, you know, if you’ve worked hard to bootstrap your business, I understand. And so far, what we’re seeing doesn’t look like this round of stimulus will include grants for small businesses, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak up to your legislators. If you think grants are the appropriate way to help very small businesses, you know, definitely let your legislators know. But we’ll talk about what’s, you know, what’s here now. So, these loans, the disaster loans are, they’re very attractive in several ways. The interest rate is super low, 3.75%. They can have as long as 30-year repayment periods, and they are offering payment deferral for a year. So, you don’t have to worry about making payments on these loans right now if you by any chance happen to have a disaster loan now because you’re impacted by a previous disaster, they’re also deferring payments on those automatically. So, there’s no payments on those. So, as far as the loan goes, it’s not a bad deal, and the challenge of course is that typically you have a disaster in a limited area and even disasters that were pretty big like hurricane Sandy kind of overwhelmed the SBA. So, we’re a little concerned about how the processing time will pan out for this. But right now, they’re aiming to make decisions in 21 days or less on applications. So, you can apply online for free on the disaster assistance loan website and we can certainly, I can give you that URL so we can put it in the notes. And then, you want to do that as soon as possible. So, even if you don’t know how long you’ll be impacted, how much you’ll be impacted, I highly recommend getting an application in now because you can change it. You can accept less than you can estimate. Say, Hey, I think, I think this is going to impact my business for six months. And maybe it goes longer, maybe it will go shorter. You can accept part of the money. You can accept all the money; you can go back and ask for more money. But this is going to be a big line, right? There’s going to be a lot of business owners lining up. So, I’m encouraging business owners to go ahead and apply as quickly as possible so they can at least get in that queue and hopefully get a consideration within a few weeks.

Brian: Wow. That’s awesome.

Olivia: That’s really awesome.

Gerri: Yeah, we hope it’ll be helpful. You know, it’s, it’s, this is not, this is not easy and I feel for so many small business owners that we’re hearing from some whose businesses have just come to a halt. But Hey, this is one option out there. Now in terms of the stimulus bill, what they are considering is expanding the SBA 7A loan program. So traditionally, most SBA loans aren’t made by the SBA. They’re made by lenders who are participating lenders. And the SBA will guarantee the loan. And the big popular program is called the 7A program. That’s for the code, you know, and the law that enacted that. And it is a working capital loan, very flexible and it usually has about, I think it’s a 70% guarantee by the SBA. They are talking about 100% guarantee by the SBA for these loans. And they’re also talking about making it easier to qualify. For example, one specific qualification that I think will end up being waived as there’s usually a requirement that you have to, you have to not be eligible for similar credit elsewhere. It’s not like you have to get a whole bunch of rejection letters, but it is a calculation the SBA or lender has to do to figure out whether, you know, you qualify for other credit, and if so you don’t qualify for an SBA loan because they’re not trying to be the first, you know, they don’t try to be the first lender, they’re trying to help lend borrowers who are having trouble getting other loans elsewhere. So, that could be a positive development to an opening these loans up to more borrowers. And right now, what they’re talking about is a limit of 10 million dollars or two and a half times your previous year’s payroll. So, in this particular case it sounds like it’s going to be, and again, these are not finalized, so don’t, well we can post a link to an updated article as soon as we see the actual, you know, final legislation. But they’re talking about two and a half times payroll up to 10 million dollars, and then that could provide, and then they’re talking about a forgiveness aspect, so that if you keep your folks employed without significant reductions in pay, then you could have a portion of that loan forgiven and you’d apply for that later. But since there’s no payments right away, you’re not making payments now anyway. So, it’s, you know, it would just be basically funds to inject to keep things going for now. And then at a later date you could apply for forgiveness if you’re able to keep your, you know, keep your employees on the payroll during this time. So, that’s another program. And then there’s a whole bunch of state programs out there. I’m in the state of Florida for example, and we have a $75,000, no interest for one-year bridge loan that is available if you have two or more employees, and other States may have other programs that are helpful. So, we have created a whole list of all the state programs at Nav. Again, happy to share a link with you guys so you can share it with everyone who’s watching and take a look and see what might be available. I think, I think my, you know, my biggest advice for business owners who are struggling right now is just apply for everything like try everything because you want to get the best available funds to get you through this time, so when things do pick up again, you know, you’re still, you still have a business, you’re still able to, you know, to meet that demand that will come in the future and we just don’t know exactly what this is going to look like, how long it’s going to take, et cetera. So, I’m really encouraging business owners to be proactive and give it all a shot.

Brian: I mean this is, this is incredible, to be able to have such a, you know, a great resource, you know, be able to help customers our own business owners. So, I know our audience specifically is in the home service industry, but I mean, to qualify for any of these things that you just kind of said, can any small business owner, I mean, obviously one of the biggest hard-hitting, areas is restaurants right now, you know, are there any limits with that?

Gerri: Yes. And I’m so glad you asked that question because that’s a question I’ve been getting a lot. Like, do I have to have employees? For the economic injury disaster loan, you do not have to have employees. You could be a sole proprietor working out of your home, and you could still apply for this loan. You do have to be a small business as defined by the SBA, but that’s usually 500 or fewer employees. It depends on what business most, most of you are going to qualify as a small business. So, that’s not a big hurdle. And then, you do have to have been in business as of the date of the declared at a disaster, which is in this case January 30th or 31st 2020, and as long as you’re in business before then you are eligible to qualify. So, it really is that the disaster loans really do reach a range of employees. Now there are other programs that sound like you may have to have employees, a certain number of employees, it sounds like that 7A program just because it’s basing the decision based on payroll probably will have an employee requirement. I just don’t know yet at this point. We’ll have to update it as soon as we see the actual legislation and see what the, what the guidelines are.

Olivia: Outside of these programs, do you think there are any other resources or places that small business centres can go and get more information and continue to educate themselves as the situation changes?

Gerri: Yes, absolutely. So, I don’t mean to make a plug, but I’m going to have to say, you know, if your business has not yet been significantly impacted, please reach out to us at Nav. We’re not a lender, we’re a marketplace, but we work with all different kinds of lenders. And if they’re still lending options out there for your business, we want to help you find them, so that you know, you could get at it. Think about this SBA disaster loan. And let’s say it takes, I don’t know, let’s say best case scenario takes 21 days and then approve you another five days to approve it to, to disburse the funds in the first round is $25,000 maximum. So, you’re talking at least a month. But I think realistically we’re probably talking at least a couple of months just because the volume, you know, it’s going to be there with applications coming in. So, let’s say you need funding for a couple months, before you can get this funding or you can get the 7A loan, which could be a very attractive loan for your business. But it’s going to take time to get approved. Then in that case, having some interim or stop gap funding could be really important. And again, I know, I know there are many small business owners I talked to don’t like to borrow. In fact, this is one of the things that, you know, Brian and Olivia fight, if we had done this interview a month ago, I would have been saying, you know, line up credit before you need it because it could be a crisis, or an opportunity for your business, one or the other. And now we certainly know what that means in terms of crisis, right? This is an unprecedented crisis is just hit us all like a, you know, a tsunami. So, I would definitely consider that, we’re happy to help you see what options are out there right now for your small business if they are still out there. If you have a line of credit that does not stop you from applying for an economic injury disaster loan. So, don’t let that stop you. And if you have a line of credit, I would seriously consider drawing on their line of credit. As things stretch out, there’s a very, you know, very, very strong likelihood that some lenders will begin to pull back on the outstanding or open lines of credit that they have with borrowers. And so that might be a prudent move to get you through the next few months while we see how all these assistance programs play out.

Brian : Well, I was just with a client, earlier this morning and you know, so they’re a retail store and they were talking about how their leads, you know, right now things are slower, but they’re still talking to people that they were talking to a few weeks ago. And so, businesses may be okay in quotes today, but the challenge is when those leads start drying up because there is not been communication in the past couple of weeks, there’s going to be, you know, if your sales cycle was a couple months to or just even a couple of weeks, you’re going to find yourself in a month or two in a much worse situation than you are right now. So, I think it’s, it’s prudent, you know, to be able to take this advice.

Gerri: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And there are some parts of the country where they haven’t seen a lot of cases yet. There’s, people are not there. They may not be really slowing down business, certain businesses that much, but I, you know, when it happens, it happens quickly. So, we’re trying day and night to get small business owners to take action now and do what they can. And then as these new developments come out, we’ll share that information and encourage, encourage them to look at those as well. And even if your business is ground to a complete halt as a result of this, I would, you know, I encourage you to check out whether the economic disaster, economic, I should just say disaster loans, whether it’s a disaster loan, I gotta stop saying the whole name, the weather, the disaster, I’m so used to reading all the government documents. So, you need to check that out. Another question I’ve been getting is about credit, right? Because that’s the other thing that I talk about. I’m known as a credit expert. I’ve been talking about personal and business credit for decades now and written a number of books about credit. So, you know what’s going to happen with your credit. I know I was in this field in 2008 when, you know, a lot of businesses and individuals, who would always pay their bills on time, never had a problem, suddenly found themselves unable to do so and their credit took a hit. So, I know it’s tough. I’m encouraging everyone. First of all, if your income has significantly taken a hit or if you really try to, you know, shore up your cashflow because you see this coming, talk to your lenders, because there are efforts on the part of lenders all the way from, you know, your, my, I have Geico insurance and they said we’re not going to suspend anyone for lack of, for non-payment of premium through, I think it was the end of April 30th. There’s a, part of the stimulus bill would give lenders more authority to allow a non-payment, not, not on payment but deferment of mortgage payments so that you cannot have to make your mortgage payment for a few months, so that can preserve cashflow. So, look at all those things on the personal side as well as the business side. Because if you need to, you know, cut back on your business, often for most business owners, the first place they cut back is on the personal side, right? They turned to personal assets. They don’t take as much money out of their business. They try to, you know, do what they can to sacrifice to keep the business running and their employees paid. So, look at all that stuff. And then similarly on the business side, you know, start talking to your lenders and vendors, your suppliers. See whether you can extend terms with them. For example, for supplier-based credit, if you have a business loan, talk to your lender to see what they’re doing. Some of the lenders, like bank of America is offering assistance with small business loans. Funding circle is offering a deferment of a small business loan payments for their clients. These lenders don’t want you to default. They don’t want you to not pay at all and end up in bankruptcy, that would be the worst-case scenario for them. And they also want to see what’s coming down. You know, what options will be there for borrowers. Sometimes they’re a little bit, you know, they may have their own challenges, right? You could have a, I know you could have a location and a landlord who doesn’t yet have their own, you know, form of assistance, so they’re desperate to pay their lender and they may not be as flexible, but it never hurts to ask and to stay in touch with them and let them know that you’re trying to do the best you can. They will appreciate that and hopefully they’ll be able to work with you.

Brian: I mean, I think the reality is, you know, as you said earlier in the podcast that, you know, normally disasters or are very localized. You know, even in a hurricane, you know, you may have an entire state or multiple States impacted, but I mean everyone is going to be impacted by this, you know, if not now soon. And so I think there is some comfort to know that everyone is in this together, and that, you know, we, all have to stick together. We all have to support one another because otherwise, you know, we’re all going to be screwed. I mean to be, you know, flatly, you know, blunt on that.

Gerri: Yeah. And it’s interesting too because credit scores have been at a record high recently. So, you know, this is a pretty interesting time now that the disaster loans that I talked about, they do have a credit review. There are no minimum credit score requirements. Same with 7A loans. There is no minimum credit score, but they do require, they must look at your credit and they can take an explanation. So, if there’s an explanation as to why some payments were late, that may be a mitigating factor. I suspect as this starts to pile up, they’re going to have to do some kind of, you know, over overlooking of recent delinquencies just because some businesses just don’t have any income coming in right, at all right. And so, they’re, they don’t have an ability to make a payment, but I wouldn’t let credit be a complete deterrent. In fact, I would try to, as much as possible to keep current on minimum payments that show up on your personal credit reports. Because personal credit is still a big, big factor in business lending decisions. And then secondly, you know, check your business credit. You can do it for free at Nav, Dun and Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian all have business credit reports. The disaster loan we talked about; we’ll check dnb credit report. And in the past, the 7A loans, and I don’t know if this will change, but in the past, the 7A loans use a FICO score called the FICO SBSS, and it’s a score that’s just for small business owners. And what it does is it can look at the business credit of the business, and the personal credit of the owner, including multiple owners. So, if you have a partner and you each own 50% or 51, 49, we’d look at both your personal credit reports and use that combined data to create a credit score. That score has been required in the past for 7A loans for $350,000 or less. I don’t know if they’re gonna change that requirement, but Hey, it’s as hard as it is to look at your credit at this time. You know, it’s like, who wants to look at their retirement account right?

Brian:  Right.

Gerri: No one does, but, but this may, you know, this may influence the money that you get to keep your business going. So, just, you know, I don’t know, whatever relaxes you. For me, it’d be a big box of chocolate truffles. I just eat those and check my credit. You know, maybe it’s a glass of wine, whatever works for you, but find a way to bite that bullet and do it.

Brian: Goodness. Well let’s pivot, and you know, someone’s going to be listening to this, you know, couple months, it may be even 20 years from now, and they’re like, what happened? Yeah, I don’t care about, you know, all of this. You know, you mentioned that, you know, a lot of small business owners, you know, are weary of getting, you know, loans and credit lines and everything. But let’s ignore the Corona virus for a second. Let’s imagine that, you know, we’re not in this world, we’re not here. So, talk to us about why, having financing for a business, even if you don’t use it, is, puts you in a position to be, more stable and more, I’m looking for the word. Maybe I should just let you speak, but this great, you can actually position yourself better to your competitors if you have financing potentially, and support than those that don’t. So.

Gerri: Yeah, it provides more flexibilities. So, if you get, you know, a big opportunity, a bigger job, maybe even, you know, government contracts, you are able to, you have the funds that you can tap to make that happen. Things don’t always happen organically in a business. You could discover a lucrative opportunity that requires you to staff up, for example, or you need to invest in some new technology for your business, and that’s an upfront expense that you don’t recover immediately. So, having that credit available can be very helpful, helpful, just to help you pivot and grow. And many small business owners with decent credit, good revenues, time in business can get very attractive terms on financing. And that could make the difference between saying yes or no to that, to whatever comes along.

Olivia: Wow. That’s really tremendous. Something that I’ve been thinking since we started this podcast because I’m a writer, that’s part of my profession. What inspired and motivated you to write five books, and what kind of content could our listeners expect from those books?

Gerri: Sure. I kind of fell into it. I wrote my first book way back in the day I worked, I started my career for an advocacy non-profit advocacy organization in Washington DC and back in the day, if you wanted a low interest rate credit card, you would send us $4 in the mail and we would mail you a list of low interest rate credit cards. Most of them out of Arkansas because that’s where they had a good state cap. This is definitely pre-internet and…

Brian: Was that like the swipe, like in order to run the credit card, it was like where you had like the little paper and you had to like…

Gerri: I forgot about that. Yeah, yeah.

Brian: I mean like back in the day.

Gerri:  Yeah you had to, sometimes you had to call in to get the authorization, right? Yeah. I forgot about all that craziness. We were focused more on the consumer then, but, but the cool thing was, the cool thing was I got to work on, so my book came out of that, you know, I wrote the first mass market book that talked about FICO scores way back in the day. But the cool thing was that, you know, I get to work on things like the legislation that gave consumers free credit reports and now we can go to annual credit report.com, get our credit report once a year. That’s required by law. I got to work on the legislation that tells you, you know, those boxes you see on credit application, credit card applications and say, here’s the interest rate, the late fees, the grace period, all that thing, all that stuff.

Brian: Yeah.

Gerri: Yeah. So, when I started, they didn’t tell your interest rate on your credit card until you got it in the mail. So, you’d apply, get it in the mail, and then you’d get a disclosure of what the interest rate was. So, super interesting…

Brian: So, you had no clue what the [Inaudible 27:39]?

Gerri: No, no. You were just basically shopping based on how well they marketed that card. So, here’s the interesting thing though. Now I’m working with small business owners. It’s many years later, I’m not going to say how many, but many years later, and the business world is just like that. There’s no requirement for a free business credit reports, we do that at Nav, but there’s no federal requirement. There’s no law at all that has to do with business credit reports. So, anyone can check your business credit. It could be your bidding on a big job and they check the business credit of each of the applicants, and you may not know that happens. Could be someone’s considering buying your business, or a partnership or whatever it may be. That can all involve a credit check and you don’t know, even your competitors can check your business credit. So that’s interesting. And then on the financing side, currently there’s no requirement that they tell you an APR for business financing. They, and some of them get very creative how they describe the cost of the financing you’re getting. So, I’ll give you a quick example. There was a story in Forbes about a hair salon owner and she was up, she was going to buy, I’m sorry, she was a hair salon employee. She was going to buy the hair salon from the owner who was selling it. And she got a term sheet for financing, and it said on it 15% stated percentage. So, stated percentage. What’s that? In her mind she’s thinking an APR, right? Because that’s what we use to compare our car loans, and mortgages, and credit cards and everything else. Her APR, we have a bunch of free calculators at Nav. And it was run through a calculator. And her APR, well I’ll let you guys guess what her APR actually was. Go high.

Olivia: I don’t know enough about financing to make an educated guess about this. So, I will kindly pass my guess. I feel like…

Brian: Fifty-five.

Gerri: Over 4000%.

Olivia: What!

Gerri: Yeah, yeah.

Brian: I mean, so like… So, for every dollar that is like what, I mean.

Gerri: Yeah.

Brian: That’s crazy.

Gerri: Yeah. Yeah. So, now most financing is not that expensive, but there was a study by the opportunity fund, which helps business owners, underserved business owners and a lot of their clients come to them with, you know, with what I call predatory financing, right? And their average APR is 94%. So, these people have already gone out, gotten financing at an average APR of 94%. Now they wonder why they can’t make the payments and they’re trying to find relief. So, couple things there. One is that California is in the process of, there is legislation that’s in the rule making process that hopefully we’ll have an APR requirement for all small business lending. Nav supported that, we, our CEO testified in favor of that legislation. We think it’s the right thing for small business owners. And then other States, New York, New Jersey and other States are looking at similar legislation. So, if you as a small business owner, you know, have ever felt small business financing confusing, or if you’ve gotten a loan that you later discovered was much more expensive than you expected, I’d encourage you, you know, speak up to your legislators and let them know that, you know, this is important to you because… Small business owners, you know, the theory with legislation is that they are sophisticated. They have advisors, they can hire people to tell them this stuff, but most small business owners they’re time starved, right? They are, they don’t have degree in math, so, and they’re not going to be able to figure out that financing is really expensive. So, we support those efforts.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, I think that you hit, you know, hit nail on the head. You know, the reality is small business owner is typically wearing lots of hats. And, you know, for me, you know, I won’t say I bumped into a business owner, but you know, I wasn’t employed and purchased a business with, you know, a couple of partners and things like that. And so, you know, I’m learning as I go. And so, I didn’t know any of this stuff. I didn’t know what Dun and Bradstreet was, you know. It was years after I’d become a business owner to know what that was. And because we didn’t have like, I don’t know, I still, maybe you could clarify like, I don’t know if we didn’t have an account or we didn’t have any business credit, so we couldn’t get any business credit, you know, we had to work on getting something in our name that was co-signed to be able to then get business credit. And it wasn’t until like last year that we were finally able to do that. And so, it’s, it’s complicated. And I think that having, I mean, I had no clue that, I mean about your resource and you know, until I, you know, bumped into your website. You know, I’ve heard of all these other companies, you know, funding circle and you know, all these other financing companies, but they really, their job is to close the loan. And I think it sounds like you guys are, obviously you’re on the education side, so you’re, you’re really, you really care about educating people. But would you say that the rest of your team works in the same manner?

Gerri: Yeah, we’re very, very heavily education focused. So, our founder, Levi King, sort of like you fell into business, he started a side manufacturing and installation company in rural Idaho when he was in his early twenties. And he didn’t know anything about business credit either. It cost him some jobs, because he didn’t know, in his hate case, he had acquired the assets of a business that had gone out of business and had bad credit. And so, his, their business credit ended up on his business credit, and he didn’t know that, cost him some jobs and then he went on to start a number of other businesses. But when he started Nav, his goal was really to help small business owners understand their information, compare options from multiple lenders, find the best one and hey, then work on getting better qualified for future funding. So, sometimes you know, you don’t have a choice, right? Sometimes you have to do what you have to do and you may not be eligible for a really low rates, say bank loan or even an SBA loan. So, you get what you can and then you grow your business and then maybe refinance into a better financing or apply for additional financing at better terms. But we really, see the long term financial and credit health of our small business customers as key to being successful at Nav. And currently we have over 1.2 million small business owners using the Nav platform to check, monitor their credit and find financing.

Olivia: That’s completely incredible that you have such a wide spread audience and you’re able to connect with so many of these people and have such a tremendous impact on all of those lives.

Gerri: Yeah, it’s tough right now, but we want to help, you know, it’s, we’re doing everything we can to work with lenders to again, stay on top of all the programs and really give our customers the information needed to best voice, you know, a challenging time. But even in the best of times, so we’re talking, let’s say we’re talking in 2022, or someone’s, you know, watch you then. Even in the best of times, you know, this is really important because you just don’t know who’s checking. And like you experienced Brian; business credit does not come naturally like personal credit. With personal credit you get a car loan, they’re going to report to all three consumer credit bureaus, right? It’s going to show up on Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, it’s a given. Business credit isn’t like that. Some companies report to some bureaus, some report to others, some don’t report at all. So, just as you experienced, you have to be proactive about finding companies that report. And I’m constantly updating our lists. We have a list of vendors that report to business credit that are very easy to get and don’t check personal credit. We have lists of business credit cards and which ones do report to your personal credit, which ones don’t, and which ones do report to which business credit bureaus. So, we’re trying to guide our, the small business owner, whether you’re a Nav customer or not, but you’ll get more information as a free Nav customer, it’s free. Then we’re trying to guide them into making smart choices because once you have business credit, then you have more options.

Brian: Right.

Gerri: You have other options that may allow your business to start moving away from personal guarantees, moving away from always using your personal credit and really building credit in the name of your business.

Brian: Well, I think, I’m glad you mentioned that because, we had begun to, I don’t know if there’s a loan or something, but we found out that the source that was financing whatever it was, was not reporting. And I didn’t like just like you, like I just assumed, I assumed, you know, if I get a loan, okay, there’s, and this is after I found out there is business credit. And so, you know, if you get something in the business name, you assume it’s going to be on the business credits. And it wasn’t and they were not reporting. And so, we got, we purchased a car through the business, so we could apparently, I don’t if it’s particular because it was a car or because it was the company Ally, that was it. But they were reporting to the business credit. And so, by doing that, we were able to build that credit. But again, like the people who were helping us in the beginning didn’t even help us understand that we were getting something, but it still wasn’t reporting and still wasn’t really helping us.

Gerri:  I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to compile some of these lists, because the lenders just, so here’s the other thing, and Brian, you probably experienced this with your business credit. They don’t report the name of the creditor, so they don’t report that your car loan is through Ally or bank of America or whoever. They just report that it’s a car loan. And so, it’s very tough on business credit. Even Nav, having so many customers who are showing them their business credit, we don’t know who the names of their creditors are. And it’s tough to, for whatever reason, I don’t know why the lenders, it’s tough to get this information from them. They just aren’t very forthright about it. I have no idea why you’d think it’d be in their interest to let that be known. But it’s, that’s the other tricky aspect of that. So, it’s hard in a number of levels. I can’t just look at a credit report and say, oh yeah, that, that company does report to business credit. I don’t know what it is.

Brian: That’s, that’s crazy. So, I mean, I definitely think that, you know, to give a shout out to you guys. I mean, I’m not a customer in Nav. I’ve never used Nav software, but, I, or, resources, but I’m definitely going to after today, you know, our goal is to create a community, you know, of, people, that are either in industry or help support business owners, and really just educate people. And I think that this is a great example of, you don’t know what you don’t know. And it’s always good to surround yourself with people who were much more qualified in this, you know. I’m now a writer and I’m thankful for people like Olivia who are, because, you know, she can do things with wizardly, you know, in her ways, and she looks at things I do and she’s like, you know. And then I look at you, Gerri, and I’m like, you’re speaking a different language, but that’s okay, because as long as you know it, then you know, we can, you know, get that support. So, what would you say, you know, looking back, just a few years, we, we won’t go back into your age as you said earlier, you know, but just to look back, you know, and, and you’ve learned so much through the years, whether it’s been, you know, in the book writing or in legislation and, or now, you know, with Nav, what is something that you wish you knew back then, that you know now?

Gerri: That’s a great question. What do I wish I had known? I mean, I certainly wish I had known more about business credit sooner. I was introduced to Garrett Sutton, who is a small business attorney and rich dad advisor on Robert Kiyosaki’s team. Great guy. And I was introduced to him about 10 years ago and that’s, that was really how I got interested in business credit because he said to me, he said, “Hey, I have all this small business clients. They’re paying a lot of money for these business credit building programs. What can we do that would be, you know, inexpensive and helpful to them?” And so he and I had created the education that turned into my latest book, ‘Finance your own business’ And I think, I wish I had known that sooner, but at the same time, the timing was so perfect because I wrote the book, I had interviewed the CEO of Nav for my book, and when it came out I thought, well, maybe they’d like to buy some books to give to, you know, customers. It was still pretty young company and instead I ended up there full time for the job. So, the timing turned out to be turned out to be perfect. And I love what I do. I love, helping small business owners in any way I can. And I love the fact that I can take my knowledge about personal credit and business credit and combine it, because most small business owners are gonna use both, right? They’re going to use their personal credit and their business credit and they’re going to figure out a way to make it all work. And so, it’s, I love the fact that I can apply that knowledge in a way that hopefully, you know, helps give them some direction.

Brian: Wow, I think one of the things that I think most employees don’t know is what you just spoke about. Like that, you know, you may be in business, but it’s not like business, people or personal, like it’s all intermingled. Like I’m selling my house right now, it just went into contract. Woohoo, and, but I’m about to purchase a new home and I didn’t, I did not know, that a loss in, on your P and L. I know that it can benefit me, a loss in taxes and when you’re doing all that, but I did not know the loss actually negates W2 income. So, if I, let’s say I have a loss of $20,000, you know, on the previous year, and let’s say I earned $20,000 on W2, well now I have zero dollars to show, to get a personal loan for a mortgage. And I had no clue. And shame on me for not knowing that. But I think, I think it’s so sad because I think, you know, employees, just think that people just have money, you know, you know, out the wazoo like I was seeing on Facebook, you know, with this whole Corona virus, you know, some business, some big businesses are really stepping up to help their employees, like they’re giving them stipends and things like that. And this one person is a friend of mine, you know, they were commenting and they were like, you know, I really wish more businesses would do that. Well, yes, but do you know how, how hard that really is? I mean, like, you can’t just pull money out of like, the hat, you know, a big business owner, Oh, my light just went off. A big business owner, can do that, you know, but with small business owners, I mean, cash is really hard to come by.

Gerri: Yes, absolutely. We did a survey of small business owners this past year, before all the Corona virus thing. And we discovered that, I think it was, I’m pretty sure it was about 56%, said they had to skip a pay check in the previous year. So, workers who worked for a small business need to realize that, you know, they may get paid before the owner of the business gets paid. That’s not an unusual scenario. And we also ask them about their top personal finance concerns, and debt was their number one personal finance concerns. So, some of these business owners, you know, they aren’t paying down their credit card, or their mortgage, or their car loan because they’re trying to make sure that they can keep the business open, and keep their employees paid. And so, it really is, it can be. I just, I, I feel, you know, my heart goes out to all those small business owners right now who are struggling, but they are, they truly are the ones who keep our economy going. And I can’t emphasize enough that, you know, if you’re a small business owner and you’re struggling and you look at all these things we’re talking about in the stimulus and the other programs and you can’t find the right fit and you can’t get traditional financing, then speak up to your legislators, because this is the time where they need to hear from you. They need to know what their small business owners are dealing with, so that there will be other recovery packages. This is, I firmly believe this is number one. This is not the end, right? So, we need to speak up and, and let our views be known. And that’s tough. I mean it’s, you know, a lot of business owners I talked to say I don’t, I’ve never taken, I had a friend who just applied for a disaster loan, she said, “I’ve never taken any kind of assistance” you know, and said, you know what, this is there for a reason. It’s there because the Congress recognizes that if you fail, we all fail. If small business fails, this country fails. And so, it’s there to keep you going so we can all keep going.

Brian: Olivia, I apologize because I have like taken like over this conversation. But I think, so you mentioned legislation so many times and talking to your legislatures. And I’ll be honest, like, I hate politics. I don’t like talking about it. But I, when I hear you say that, I say to myself, what does me talking, you know, what does me writing a letter, or speaking, or emailing, or contacting, you know, some person that I don’t know going to really do? And being that you’ve been in the Washington world and everything, like, can you kind of speak to, because my guess is there’s probably a lot of people like me, they’re like, you know, okay. Yeah, this is not gonna really do anything.

Gerri: Yeah. I actually started, I came to DC and one of my first gigs, I was in college was an intern for a senator’s office and I was answering constituent mail. So, some would write in, and primarily if they ever had a problem with a government agency, then I would try to get a contact to help resolve that problem, some IRS problem, or veterans’ affairs, or something like that. But I can tell you, you know, we had to, we had to report on what we were hearing. And we had to report on the problems, and it very often, very, very often there’s going to be two ways that legislation is going to happen, right? One is that a lobbyist is going to go in there and they’re paid to try to promote legislation and that gets frustrating, because sometimes they aren’t actually doing the work that you know, that we’re doing. So, they don’t, they might write legislation that may not be as practical as we’d hoped, right. But the second way is when they hear from constituents. And when they hear from enough constituents on a particular issue, it can help them to, to make the case for that legislation. And it can help them make the case for what they want to do. And I can tell you small business is important on Capitol Hill, I know it feels like, and I know a lot of legislation that we’re seeing is aimed at bigger businesses, but small business is important. And many legislators do want to try to keep the small businesses in their state or their community, if you’re trying to state legislator open, because they know this is, this is it, right? If we don’t do this, we won’t have tax revenue, we won’t have jobs, people will leave the state because they don’t have opportunities. We need to do this. So, I know I’m being long winded here and it sounds like a civil, what is it, class in civics. But I just feel like it’s a crucial time for us, for those who are small business owners. And I was self-employed for 10 years myself, so I know how I know how the ups and downs, you know, can be, including in 2008 when I was still self-employed and you know, we had the financial meltdown. So, I really just encourage you to speak up. This is the time to do it if you’ve never done it before. And then the other thing is, you know, after you’ve done that or while you’re doing that, or before you do that, look at these programs that we’re writing about. And like I said earlier, get in line, get yourself in line. You don’t have to accept that what they offer you, but get yourself in the line so that when your number comes up, you can make a decision about what’s right for your business at that time.

Brian: Well, speaking about resources, you know, last week on our podcast, we mentioned that we would be developing some resources for our listeners, an email on the blog posts as well as, some eBooks that they can give out to their audiences. And so, we’re going to make this available for free for everyone. You can find that on our Facebook page shortly after this broadcast and we’re excited to be able to put that in, in your hands Because you know, we want to help give you guys the resources to continue just doing business. So yeah.

Olivia: Well Gerri, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today personally as someone who is so unfamiliar with the world of finance, but who is the daughter of a small business owner, and now the employee of a small business owner. I applaud you for what you’re doing for everybody. And I have a tremendous amount of respect for your industry.

Gerri: Well thank you. We’re really trying to help as fast as we can. And thank you for what you’re doing. You’re getting this out there and that’s, that’s a big, big part of it, right? Getting the information out there so that business owners can take advantage of it.

Olivia: Well, like we said earlier, we’re all in this together, so you know, the fact that we can touch so many lives, and collaborate, and do things like this together, it really, it hopefully will build communities to be stronger and we’ll come out on the better side of things in a couple months or weeks hopefully. But again, thank you so much for joining us. And on next week’s episode, we are going to be interviewing Dana Coil, who is the Director consultant for BNI. And we’re going to talk about education and leadership and the importance of credit when it comes to conducting your business. And if you guys really like what we’re doing, please subscribe to our podcast and give us thumbs up, likes and comments that we are available on Apple podcasts and Facebook live every Wednesday. And, we really enjoy having you guys tune in with us every week.

Brian: Well, thank you Gerri. Appreciate your time. Stay safe in Florida. Make sure you keep that distancing, especially from those beaches, so.

Gerri: Well, no beaches for me. Thanks guys. I appreciate it.

Brian: Bye.

Gerri: Bye.