Small Business, Sole Proprietor: Help Yourself and Our Community by Taking Advantage of the Resources Available

By Timothy Holtkamp, McLennan Small Business Development Center

Update: 4/17/20 both the PPP and EIDL programs are currently closed to new applications. However I fully expect these programs to reopen, and when they do it will be critical that you are prepared to respond extremely quickly when they do. Contact me for help preparing,

Wow, is it just me or does it seem like we have crammed 10 years of concern, change and toilet paper purchasing into the last 2 weeks?

The next few weeks are critical to set the stage for the economic recovery of Waco. It is imperative that everyone do their part to get the word out about the resources that are available.

So, let me explain who should apply for these resources. People who own rental properties (even just one), Hair stylists, Nail techs, handy men or women, churches (just opened up this week), Non-profits, car dealers, insurance agents, Real Estate agents, Uber or Lyft drivers, event planners, photographers, personal trainers, lawn care, anybody that gets paid with a 1099 or files a schedule C on their tax return even if they have a regular job as well.

The reason it is critical that everyone that can, apply for these resources and take advantage of the free ones for certain and seriously consider the loans is because we need to prime the economy to get it moving.

If you plan on sitting back and waiting to see what other people are going to do before you go out and spend your money then start looking at life in the 1930’s because that’s what life is going to look like.

I understand if you feel like you are taking advantage of a social net put in place to help people who are down on their luck. However, that is not what this is at all.

Think 2008 – the banks were too big to fail or the whole of western civilization would come crashing down! The difference today is that instead of a few banks its tens of thousands of small businesses all across the country.

I’m sure some of you reading this are skeptical and think I am being dramatic. I assure you I am not. Unfortunately you will begin to see the breakdown of society in several countries shortly, that just a month ago were great places to live.

That could happen in the United States, but we can avoid it if enough people access the resources available, I feel we can stave off a collapse of society. I’m optimistic that a major depression can be avoided as well. However, some rough economic times are coming. Supply chains are being reworked and manufacturing shifted back to North America, but all that takes time and money, and some cities and counties will be winners and some will be losers.

Just like in college football, money helps you win. My goal is to get every person that is eligible to apply for the SBA EIDl loan to do so. If that happened with the number of people in Waco/McLennan County that have side hustles, and the $1,000 per employee Grant (you count as 1 employee) for just applying, our community could come out of this ordeal in good shape. That’s my goal.

The Small Business Association Economic Injury Disaster Loan (SBA EIDL) program includes an up to $10,000 grant if you are approved for the loan or turned down for the loan or if you are approved and decide not to take the loan. They are selling it as if you get $1000 minimum for just filling out the application. There may be some exclusions, but it only takes 15 min to fill out so do your civic duty and try. (You can pause Tiger King.) I have attached a YouTube video link where I go thru the application line by line showing you how to fill it out. However, if you have any trouble, call or shoot me an email. I have listed both my phone and email as well as the phone number & email to SBA to check the status of your application.

You can also apply at your local bank for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan.  This loan is possible if you are self-employed. If you follow its guidelines, it’s completely forgivable. It’s worth checking out. If your bank does not do the PPP send me an email and I can help find you one that does. Call me if you have questions about it as well. 

How to fill out the application for an SBA EIDL loan

Contact Information

Tim Holtkamp:  254-299-8157 –

SBA Customer Service Line:  1-800-659-2955 –

Link to the Application:

For more YouTube videos, Subscribe to the Texas Business Podcast.

Tim Holtkamp has been a Business Advisor with the McLennan Small Business Development Center for 7 years and is the President of Holtkamp Hill LLC, a private equity company that invests mainly in Real Estate, Agriculture, & Energy. 

Mental Health in the Time of Corona Virus: Taking Care of Yourself is Not a Luxury

From your Heart of Texas Region MHMR (For more posts in this series, click here: Mental Health in the Time of Corona Virus)

During times like these taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury. It is essential. And during this difficult time, when stress is running high, it’s more important than ever. Here are five tips that can help:

Make time for yourself – Right now, much of the personal time that was part of our daily routines may not be available. Without it, we have to be intentional about creating space to recharge and decompress. This could look like taking a shower or bath, walking around the block, or designating time to read. Think proactively of things you can do with this enforced time at home. Get back in touch with hobbies or activities you enjoy but rarely have time for, or make the choice to learn a new skill.

Prioritize healthy choices – The added stress and loss of structure we are all experiencing right now can make it easy to slip into habits that feel good in the moment but can be detrimental in the long term. Make sure you’re eating properly, try to get enough sleep, and create a routine that includes physical activity. Be thoughtful and intentional about how you are treating yourself and your body.

Be realistic – Avoid burnout by setting realistic expectations and giving yourself grace if you can’t meet them. Practice forgiveness and self-compassion. There’s no playbook for this. Remember you are doing your best during a very difficult time. Cut yourself some slack.

Set boundaries – Anxiety may seem rampant right now. With so much worry and uncertainty floating around it can be easy to absorb other people’s fears and concerns without even realizing it. If you have a friend or family member who is in the habit of sending worst-case-scenario news or is prone to sending anxiety-provoking text messages, practice a little emotional distancing. Let them know you sympathize but that you’re taking a break from constant worrying. You can always reconnect when things are calmer.

Finally, remember, being kind to yourself will not only help you stay calm during this difficult time, it will help ensure that you have the bandwidth you need to take good care of yourself. When you prioritize your needs, you’re filling the tank, emotionally and physically, and that means you’ll be in a position to offer comfort and care to others when they need it most.

A Treatise on Stimulus Checks

By Travis Cheatham

Possibly my most annoying quality to people (this is a self-reflection), is that I use the word ‘caveat’ and ‘preface’ way too much.   I rarely am able to tell a story or give a basic thought, without saying, “One caveat, though” or “Let me preface that.”  I panic at the thought of being misunderstood and strongly believe that context matters.  I completely relate to Chidi from The Good Place in questioning my every move and the implications of my actions.  So, for me, the most growth comes from having Eleanors (also from The Good Place)come into my life to challenge me and introduce me to new modes of thinking.

So, as expected, let me now provide an important preface to a discussion on stimulus checks.  I’ll start by saying that if you are one of the many people who have been critically affected by COVID-19, whether that means a loss of your job, an inability to work due to a lack of childcare/schooling, a pay cut from your job, new financial burdens as you directly care for family and friends etc. the rest of this blog entry is not for you.  That’s not to say that you can’t read the rest, but please know this is a fairly niche target audience that I hope will consider what I have to say.

Let me narrow the field a bit further.

For most of my adult life, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck.  I still have enough student loans to make me queasy.  I check my bank account regularly before getting groceries or placing an order to make sure I don’t go into the red.  Right now, I’ve actually been putting off several cheap home repairs because I’m waiting for my next paycheck.  My wife, Amy, and I split paying bills and she has often been the bigger “breadwinner” in our marriage.

Currently, we both work in public schools, which is not a way anyone got rich, but it has at least provided stability.  For once in my life, we both have some money in savings and generally no credit card debt.  All that to say, if you do not really have any form of savings, you were struggling even before we knew the term COVID-19, or the stability of your job is very uncertain, I think it’s fair to say that this blog entry is not really for you either.

For those who are so very blessed to remain in this conversation, I humbly suggest this – the stimulus checks were not made for us.  These unprecedented funds were granted for the vast numbers of people and businesses who are in crisis.  I know we all have debt, things we’ve put off, and things we’ve been saving for.  For me, ultimately, I feel like this is a gift that isn’t really mine.  I know that for many, the stimulus check will be a drop in the bucket and that there will be definite gaps that leave many people in need behind.  So what am I proposing?  That those of us who are fine without our stimulus checks find some way to donate them to those of us who are not fine.

Before the checks are released, I want to issue this request:

  1. Regardless of your spiritual tradition, I encourage you to ponder 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  Even aside from this unusual time, I think one of the greatest joys of donating is finding an organization, business, or cause that speaks to you and that allows you to be a cheerful giver.
  2. Discuss the best use of these funds with your family/spouse.  You are a team and you need to be on the same page.  This is not an everyday occurrence and making decisions like these together strengthens relationships.  Amy and I are still deciding what is best for us as a family.
  3. Think about those around you who are being affected the most.  Is there someone in your life that you are uniquely positioned to help?  Could that help be done anonymously?  Could it be indirect, like contracting them for services?
  4. Consider organizations/causes that you are passionate about and that have a proven history of managing funds well and getting resources to the people who need it.
  5. Regardless of where you land on this topic, support local restaurants and businesses however you can.  Get take-out meals, buy gift cards, and see how they are doing. 

Regarding the greater Waco community, there is no shortage of worthy causes and nonprofits.  In addition, there are many conversations going on right now with organizations like Prosper Waco, Waco Foundation, Cooper Foundation, Rapoport Foundation, Grassroots Community Development, United Way and others about the most effective way to gather, administrate, and distribute funds.  One of the results of these conversations is a new website called Waco Working Together.  In addition to these efforts, I wanted to specifically suggest two organizations:

  • Caritas – They have consistently been Waco’s go-to place for urgent assistance with food, clothing, household items, utility assistance, prescription medication assistance, rent or mortgage assistance.
  • Waco Immigrants Alliance (WIA) – Probably the largest section of our labor force who are 1) directly impacted by COVID-19 AND 2) will not receive stimulus checks are immigrants.  Think about the number of staff in restaurants, hotels, agriculture, construction etc.  WIA can help families that are particularly at risk of becoming homeless, falling victim to predatory lending, and other exploitative activities including notarios who do not properly represent them in their immigration cases.

Finally, for anyone reading this, know that I’m not proposing this is an all or nothing or one-size-fits-all concept.  Any donation is meaningful, so consider what you can do.

Travis Cheatham has worked with local schools and nonprofits for the past 6 years.  In 2019, he was honored as one of the Greater Waco Chamber’s 40 Under 40 finalists.  Travis is the current chair of the Mentor Waco Coalition (one of Prosper Waco’s working groups). Travis is also the Chef/Owner of Cuppa, Waco, TX a catering and food consulting business. Travis is a ’06 Baylor grad who loves this community and loves to travel with his wife, Amy, whenever possible.

Top Five Recommendations for Businesses to get through the COVID -19 Crisis

By Alfred Solano, President and CEO of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

1. Lead by example. You as a business owner /Leader/Entrepreneur are where you are for lots of reasons and people are looking to you for guidance. Be the example by practicing the recommended and ordered current new normal guidelines, social distancing, the new Art of handwashing, protective masks… We all want folks to shop with us, and now more than ever shopping local matters.  Find local online resellers for the products you need when you can.

2. Ask for Assistance. Get educated about the SBA backed Disaster Loans, the current Unemployment rules and opportunities by engaging the local professional community of attorneys, healthcare professionals, CPA’s, bookkeepers, Insurance professionals, bankers, credit unions, and IT pros. We all have access to business support available through Startup Waco, the Chambers of Commerce (10 in McLennan county), Heart of Texas Workforce Solutions, McLennan Small Business Development Center, United Way, Prosper Waco, and the Small Business Administration.

3. Be patient. I heard someone say today that this may be the most difficult thing for an entrepreneur to do because by nature they move at a fast pace and don’t have time to waste. However, these are unprecedented times, and the rulebook and guidelines are fluid and sometimes changing from one day to the next. Likely you will be asked to resubmit information, or for additional information, and deadlines will not be met. My advice is hang in there, stay the course, and do whatever you do to calm yourself – yoga, meditate, run, martial arts, read – and then keep going.

4. Keep great Records. The financial resources offered from recently adopted legislation and other existing resources have requirements that will be reviewed when we get through this situation. If you have a system and have always kept great documentation, then keep doing that.  If you have not, then start now.  This is the perfect time to get a process that works for your business. Having easily accessible records of your financials will pay dividend in the future.

5. Be kind to yourself. Business is absolutely upside down for a lot of folks. The fear of dealing with the Coronavirus disease and loss of work is real. It is also true that in times of great struggle and pressure our senses and abilities are heightened so that we can meet the challenges that exist. So, do what you can everyday and then stop. Close your office door, kitchen table office, laptop, closet, or phone, whatever is now your “Work space.” Then rest or go for a walk, bike ride, a virtual exercise class, lift weights, call you Mom, siblings, children and live the life that you work so hard for every day. I think that there has never been a better time to close down the home kitchen and get some delivery or take-out from that place “You have always wanted to try.” We are going to get through this and no doubt some things will be changed in a bad way, but I am confident that there will be lessons learned and memories made that when we look back at this current reality it will be a (template/mold/turning point) for growing healthy, mobile, and creative commerce.  Be Well!

Alfred Solano was raised in Waco and is a graduate of Texas State Technical College. He is the President and CEO of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce since June of 2018. His community activities include currently serving as a board member of Act Locally Waco, the Family Health Center, Hillcrest Health System, Inc., MCC Foundation, StartUp Waco, and Vice Chairman of Prosper Waco.  After 35 years of working in the business community, Alfred enjoys bringing his experiences and various partnerships and relationships to the membership and community that the Hispanic Chamber works to serve. Rachel his wife can be found around town enjoying all the coolness that is Waco. Alfred and Rachel are very proud of his Daughter Elena who works as a Psychotherapist and lives in Austin. Contact information: 254 754-7111 · ·