Opinion: Why I had to sell my wedding ring to keep my business alive

Unless this rule changes soon, I don’t know if my business will be successful. PPP money is always available, but it will expire on March 31 – we’re running out of time. I call on Congress to immediately change the PPP eligibility requirements to include companies established after February 15, 2020 and to extend the application deadline.
Congress implemented the February 15 eligibility requirement first weeks pandemic, when many of us assumed the closures would only last for weeks.
Congress designed the PPP as a stopgap to help small businesses survive the virus’ first major outbreak. The initial pool of funds was supposed to cover eight weeks payroll and expenses and was to expire after three months. I couldn’t have predicted or known at the time what we were getting into by starting a business during the pandemic. When the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, my grand opening was in 10 days.
More than a year later, nearly 100,000 companies have closed, 10 million jobs are still absent from the economy, and nearly eight million Americans were pushed into poverty. Lawmakers have been doing the rounds after a series of PPP updates, but new business owners like me have been blocked from getting the support we need every time.
Many of the people who started their businesses in 2020 are those whose communities have been hit hardest by Covid-19. New data de Gusto and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) shows that nearly half of the women-owned businesses founded by NAWBO members during the pandemic are run by minority women. These women were more than twice as likely as their peers to start a business because they had been laid off or were concerned about their financial situation. Leaders say entrepreneurs are essential to our country’s economic recovery. Yet many of the new business owners who are leading this recovery and supporting their families and communities are excluded from P3 assistance.

I’m sure these women entrepreneurs share my feeling that their businesses are more than business. The Bare Bar allows me to provide good jobs to women in my community and to set an example for my five children. When my son tells his friends that his mom owns her own business or that my daughter wants to follow me to work, it’s worth fighting for.

I fought hard and made sacrifices every day for the past year. In December, my husband and I made the heartbreaking decision to sell my wedding ring so I could afford two months of living room rent – an expense that a PPP loan would have helped cover. Incentives and loans have helped, but they don’t go far. As part of our rental agreement, we had to put our house as collateral. Every penny we earn and every incentive we receive, including the child tax credit, needs to be reinvested in the business rather than towards living expenses like child care. Otherwise, we could lose our home.

The kindness of strangers also made the Bare Bar work. After a woman in Seattle heard my story, she sent me her personal emergency fund with a card that said, “Be Courageous.” Times like this were the highlights of a dark year. I try to find small ways to give back, like providing facials to frontline workers at local hospitals who have kept people’s spirits up.

I am so grateful for the generosity I have received and the sacrifices I have been able to make. In my home state of Colorado, 65% of small businesses I shared my experience of the negative effects of the pandemic. None of us should have to rely on sacrifice and luck to stay afloat, especially when P3 help is still available.

Lawmakers have the power to make my dream come true. They have to use it.

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