April 9, 2021: If You’re Feeling Small Business Burnout, You’re Not Alone

Gusto Editors

April 9, 2021

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Feeling the burn(out)

Entrepreneurs are known for not giving up, but that doesn’t mean there won’t come a point when they’ve had just about enough. More than a year into an unprecedented pandemic and economic downturn is a more-than-reasonable point, if you ask us.

We’ve heard from business owners before about their teams experiencing burnout, but we’re increasingly hearing about business owners themselves looking for ways to cope with the strain and pain of the past year. We asked Gusto’s Editor-at-Large, Caleb Newquist, to weigh in—because he’s been there:

I’ve burned out at a couple jobs. The first time was early in my career at a high-pressure company filled with overachievers. The second go-round, I was in charge of a website that I helped create, so I was emotionally and mentally committed. This time I didn’t merely hit a wall after prolonged dissatisfaction, it was a constant cycle. I went through waves of burnout, riding things out when they were good, and suffering hard wipeouts when they were bad. 

Over the last year—only a year?—the feelings have been similar. Periods of high intensity followed by varying lengths of… nothing? Virtually everyone who has had the privilege to keep working, has hit that wall. A New York Times story has all the feelings that people are experiencing: “I’m exhausted all the time”; “I feel fried”; “out of ideas”; “so much more work than my brain can possibly manage”; and my personal favorite: “I spent the whole day, and I really didn’t do anything.” Oh, wait, actually my favorite is this: “My brain simply cannot focus long enough to form full sentences.” 

Fortunately, some of us are resisting burnout. Dr. Tai of The Black Girl Doctor has been working through her own burnout while also helping patients deal with theirs. Saya Hillman of Mac & Cheese Productions went on a “selfish sabbatical” last summer (and shares how you can take one, too). After successfully pivoting his events business at the beginning of the pandemic, Sam Eitzen of The Snapbar is now taking a five-to-six-week sabbatical to recover from some burnout-induced health issues. As for me, I had the good fortune to take eight weeks of paternity leave last year with my second daughter.   

Not everyone has access to paternity leave, the luxury of a sabbatical, or the desire to share ALL THE FEELS with a therapist. But hopefully you’ve found some form of self-care—regular naps, long walks with the dog, meditation, cooking for 30 when it’s a party of 1—to fight burnout. Honestly, as long as you’re not harming yourself or others, just do whatever works. No one is going to judge you at this point.

Are you experiencing small business burnout? Share your story with us here, and we may feature it in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.  

SMB Tax Credit Series, Part 2: Employee Retention Credit (ERC)

In the run up to Tax Day on May 17, we’re highlighting some of the most helpful COVID-19 tax credits for small businesses each week.

If you run a small business with employees, you probably already know and love the employee retention credit (ERC), which was established in the CARES Act to help employers with the costs of keeping workers on payroll. But you probably also know that it can be a complicated credit to calculate and claim, especially with updates to the program made in newer legislation.

That’s why we’ve created a host of resources to help you make the most of the credit. First, the basics:

How much is the credit for? 

  • For tax year 2021, the refundable tax credit is 70% of qualified wages paid per employee up to a maximum amount of $7,000 per employee, per quarter and up to $28,000 for the entire year.
  • For tax year 2020, the refundable tax credit is 50% of qualified wages paid per employee up to a maximum amount of $5,000 per employee for the entire year.

How long do you have to claim it? This program will be active through the end of 2021.

And now, the goods:

Next week, we also plan to release a calculator to help you figure out how much you can claim under the ERC. Visit our site at gusto.com/blog to access all these resources.

Tune back in next week for another tax credit spotlight, and see a full list of COVID-19 tax credits here.

Relief updates: EIDL and SVOG

EIDL gets a bump

As of this week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has increased the maximum loan amount for its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program:

Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.

Small businesses and nonprofits can now apply for up to $350,000 more in funding with terms up to two years. The new limits will automatically be applied to new loan applications, and if you already have an EIDL loan that is subject to the current limits, the SBA will reach out directly via email with information about requesting an increase.

Last month, the SBA also extended deferment periods for all its disaster loan programs. Interested in an EIDL loan? Learn how to apply here.

SVOG is live (sort of)

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)—a $16 billion relief fund for live event businesses—was slated to launch on Thursday at 12pm ET, but things didn’t quite go according to plan.

Shortly after 4 p.m., the Small Business Administration — which runs the initiative, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program — abandoned its effort to salvage the broken system and shut it down for the day. No applications were processed.

While the portal is suspended until the SBA can resolve the technical issues, applicants can continue to register for a new account, even if they can’t yet apply. The SBA has stated it will “share advance notice of the time and date before the reopening so all applicants can be prepared and to ensure fair and equal access.” Stay tuned for more updates.

Good news

Depressing headlines are so 2020. Here are some good recent reads:

  • Management Lessons From the Companies Who Are Surviving (and Thriving) During the Pandemic (Gusto)
  • Man says $1 million Virginia Lottery prize will help his small business (NBC)
  • The Latest Workplace Perk: Cash Bonuses for Taking Vacations (Wall Street Journal)

Find the latest relief options in our Small Business Relief Finder.

Want more small business news and resources? Check out past editions in our archive.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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