Do This, Not That

The do's and don'ts of using your PPP loan funds

It's important to keep it all straight. Photo by Blake Callahan/Getty

Now that you've taken the first steps toward getting your Paycheck Protection Program loan funds, Texas Citizens Bank is here to help you stay on track by sharing important do's and don'ts about how to use them.

The staff of Texas Citizens Bank, you might recall, worked overtime in April to process $97 million in PPP loans, helping nearly 500 small Houston businesses avoid layoffs or closing their doors completely.

So you would be wise to heed their advice — even the Houston SBA District Office is using these PPP guidelines to help small businesses make the most of their loans.

DO: Use the funds for payroll and authorized expenses only
Your PPP loan is to be used for payroll costs, group healthcare expenses, and other authorized costs, such as your business mortgage expenses or rent, utilities, and interest payments on other debt.

DON'T: Use the funds for other things
Make sure you use your loan only to pay for authorized expenses. You should expect to be audited by the bank or government officials. By avoiding misuse of the funds, your loan may be fully forgivable.

DO: Be organized
Keep records of how you use your loan funds. Opening and using a separate deposit account for the PPP loan funds can make this easy and streamline any auditing process. Contact a TCB banker to find out more about business deposit accounts.

DON'T: Mix loan funds with personal assets
Again, to keep things easy to track, avoid depositing your PPP loan funds into a personal account and avoid the temptation of using the funds to pay for personal expenses.

DO: Keep the rules in mind
Remember that your PPP funds need to be used immediately for authorized costs incurred during the eight weeks immediately following the loan's origination. Also, at least 75 percent of the forgiven amounts must be used for payroll expenses during that time.

DON'T: Attempt to cheat
Unscrupulous borrowers may try to take advantage of the law's gray areas, but please don't. Again, the bank or representative from the government is likely to perform an audit. The last thing you want is to be caught in an act of fraudulent use of funds.

If you would like to download these PPP loan fund do's and don'ts as a PDF checklist, you can do so here.

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Building Houston

 
 

A Houston expert outlines what startups and small business need to know about their communications strategy. Photo via Getty Images

Startup founders often focus on outward victories. However, if they look inward and get internal communications right, this can prioritize, inspire, and retain talent, which is the heart of the company.

Consistent internal communication helps employees to understand the company's core values and mission and the evolving internal policies and procedures — health care benefits, reorganizations, remote work — that accompany a young business. Investing in internal communications also supports external public relations efforts because the best company storytellers are well-informed employees.

Consider these tactics for effective internal communications.

Prioritize messaging

In any startup, internal procedures evolve as the company grows. Take control of the narrative while easing employees' minds by prioritizing internal messaging.

Whether transitioning to a more flexible work schedule, updating healthcare benefits, or rolling out a performance review process, planning messages in advance can help team members understand the change, the impact, and how they can contribute positively to the development.

Well-informed employees help mitigate uneasiness and tend to achieve business goals more quickly. Make sure to allow the employees time to reflect and react.

Support managers

Leaders and mid-level managers play an integral role in internal communications by cascading information throughout the organization. They regularly engage with their employees, so it is important that managers feel confident and supported in their communication skills.

Managers can benefit from a common company language, talking points, or communications training for more effective and productive conversations. By identifying, clarifying, and reinforcing common goals and key objectives for managers, companies can strengthen productivity and eliminate confusion, especially if the company changes teams' roles and responsibilities.

Be consistent

Make sure that the drumbeat remains steady, whether this includes a monthly town hall meeting or weekly CEO emails. Since communication is not necessarily one-size-fits-all, use a communication approach tailored to the workforce.

For example, there might be more effective communication methods than email for employees not behind a desk. As a smaller company, take that time to connect with the team directly because as the company swells, that one-on-one experience will become increasingly difficult to manage.

Listen to employees

Delivering top-down messaging that resonates with the workforce remains critical. However, internal communication is a two-way street.

Allow team members to give valuable feedback. Encourage team members to share their thoughts about the company, concerns, and how to improve communications. Issue internal surveys or hold face-to-face meetings to gain useful insight.

Understanding these critical proof points will enable more effective communication and quick action on any issues.

Be a human

Keep humanity at the heart of internal communications. Amid the company's transition, maintain transparency and recognize the emotional toll some changes can have on teammates. The best talent will remain when they feel connected, informed and listened to.

Greater employee engagement can help build a strong company culture of accountability, authenticity and communication, setting up the business for bigger success.

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Melanie Taplett is a communications and public relations consultant for the technology, energy, and manufacturing industries.

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