The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is being felt around the world.
Many employees can work from home at this time and a lot of us in the Virtual Assistant community already work from home, but sadly, many employees are being laid off and hours are being cut.
We know this comes with heartbreaking changes to employment status and financial stability.
If you have lost your job during the COVID-19 outbreak there are a few things in place to help assist you through this time. Be patient, don’t give up hope and remember you are not alone in this.
Our hearts break for the families affected by this and we always want to be here to help. It will mean cutting back and being a lot more cautious about how and what we spend our money on.
We will all have to remain patient and persevere as many government agencies are swamped and trying to help as many people as they can.
We have created a list of 5 resources to help you navigate the next few months if you are out of work because of COVID-19.
1. Unemployment insurance
It’s easy to think, “I won’t qualify so why bother?” but unemployment is available to those without paid sick leave or those unable to work due to COVID-19.
While it is state-specific, we encourage you to look into what your state is offering you. There may also be partial benefits for those whose hours have been cut during this time.
If you are self-employed, operate as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, there are now benefits available to you that were not available during the past recession. You are now eligible for unemployment.
The newly passed CARES Act says that a $600 weekly payment on top of your State’s regular benefits is available to freelancers. As it is very new for self-employed to get unemployment benefits, be prepared for it to be a long process and again check your State-specific guidelines first.
This link will help you look up state-specific information. Don’t give up as this is available to you as a freelancer or virtual employee. It is worth making that claim!
There are a few things to prepare before you file:
- Have all your information ready to file.
- File online as soon as possible.
- Again, apply even if you are not sure it is possible.
- Be prepared to wait.
- Appeal if you get denied!
2. Small business loans
It’s hard enough being a small business and in light of this current season, we HAVE to stand behind our communities of small, local businesses. Let’s all support them if and when we can.
If you are a small business struggling to pay rent, employees, and utilities, you may be eligible for loans.
As of last week, the U.S. President passed a bill to provide a large portion of the $2 Trillion stimulus package towards helping small business owners pay employees and pay off loans.
Click HERE to see if you are eligible for Small Business Disaster Loan Insurance.
UPDATE: Unfortunately the Small Business Administration’s loan programs are completely out of money after reaching its $349 billion limit in one week. It is currently not possible to apply. If you already applied, your application will continue to be processed.
You can find more information on loans being paid out here. We will keep updating this post if new information or new funds become available. You can also find updates on the Small Business Administration’s website here.
If new applications become possible again, this was the process to apply:
Be prepared to answer questions about your business. This process could take up to 2 hours, so be prepared with all your necessary information. Here are a few things to have ready before you apply.
Once you visit the sba.gov website:
Step 1: You will be asked to verify your eligibility for the loan. This is a 2 part process, where you’ll need to verify that your small business falls within the given parameters and that your business is not engaged in any activities that would disqualify you from the loan.
Step 2: You will be asked for more in-depth information about your business. Have this information handy before you start applying:
- The legal and trade names of your business.
- Your Federal EIN number or Social Security number.
- For 12 months leading up to January 31st, all gross revenue and cost of goods sold.
- Your number of employees. These loans are for Small businesses of 500 or less.
- The date your business was founded.
Step 3: You will need to answer questions about yourself and any business partners.
- Home address and phone number.
- Social Security Number.
- Your percentage of ownership.
- Place and date of birth.
- Citizenship status.
If you have a business partner we advise you do these steps together so all the information is ready to go.
Step 4: The final step is broken into a few questions. The first section asks about criminal history or any prior issues regarding the federal government.
The next section asks for information of the person helping file the application (if anyone helped you.)
You will then get asked if you would like to be considered for the $10,000 advance on your loans, this is a grant and you can find out more information about it in the CARES Act. This $10,000 advance does not need to be paid back. However, the rest of your disaster assistance loan will need to be paid back, so we advise you to take a minute to look into this carefully before you decide to be considered.
The final step on this page will be to give your banking information. PLEASE make sure you are on the correct government site: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/. This will be the account you wish to have to loan deposited into.
TRIPLE CHECK your information on the final summary page and write down and save the OMB control number. It will be on the top right corner of the summary page.
There is also a disaster loan customer service email: [email protected] if you have any questions.
3. Utility Bill Assistance
Many states are not cutting unpaid utility bills during this time as a means to support those who are unable to pay due to COVID-19. Information on applying for utility bill assistance can be found here.
211.org is another great online resource. You can search for your specific area in the US and see what resources are available in your community. Think of essential needs like food or other specific needs like keeping the internet on, etc.
You can also call in and ask area-specific questions if you don’t find what you are looking for on the website.
4. Companies that are hiring
While many companies are laying off employees, there are some national companies urgently hiring to keep up with the demand for goods during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Here is a partial list of 10+ companies who have said they are still hiring at least through the end of May.
- Magic Ears,
- Trader Joes,
- 7 Eleven,
- Enviro-Clean Services,
- and teleworking software companies like Zoom and Slack.
These are a few that we found but the list goes on.
There are also many companies in your area that could need help. Try reaching out to delivery services like FedEx and UPS.
Call centers are booming at this time and will most likely continue to do so in the future.
Cleaning companies are a necessity as businesses are taking extra precautions to keep their spaces sanitized.
And is it a surprise that pizza delivery jobs have soared during this time? Many pizza shops and restaurants are looking for extra drivers to help with the influx of orders as families choose to stay at home and support measures to stop the spread of the virus.
If you’re interested in working online, check out our free online class here where we discuss what a Virtual Assistant is, how to find legit online jobs without prior experience and how to get started on your work from home journey.
5. Our top free work from home and work online resources for you!
As many non-essential businesses and storefronts have had to close, more and more people are looking to take their businesses online. This requires specific skills that many Virtual Assistants can help manage.
At Virtual Assistant Internship, we want to provide you with as much helpful knowledge as we can to prepare you for the online work world.
You can also grab a FREE ticket to our Work From Home Virtual Summit. It’s jam-packed with expert advice directly from people who have become experts in the work from home community.
When you join the Summit, you’ll also receive updates on new work-from-home resources and weekly work from anywhere job opportunities sent straight to your inbox.
We’re here to give you resources and to help you find new opportunities if you’ve lost your job during this pandemic. We can all get through this together!
Chelsea James is originally from South Africa and works as a virtual assistant to creative entrepreneurs. She specializes in Content repurposing, Social Media and Podcast Management as well as many backend organizational tasks that help simplify the workload for her clients, so they can focus on building their businesses.
She is a content intern for Virtual Assistant Internship and a student of 90 Day VA. Chelsea and her New Yorker husband currently live between South Africa and New York. When she is not working, you can find her doing yoga, paddle boarding and enjoying a good cup of coffee with her precious family. For more information about Chelsea’s virtual assistant services, click HERE. To follow Chelsea’s travels through Instagram, click HERE.