A person wearing a red mask and Black Lives Matter tank top cleaning a residential bathroom.

Small Businesses Everywhere Are Struggling. We’re One of Them.

Anna Tsantir and Stephanie Watson

November 13, 2020

A person wearing a black shirt and overalls and a tan face mask handing off a red and white scrub brush to another person outside of the frame.

In the midst of the third wave of COVID-19, many small businesses are fighting hard to keep their heads above water. Two Bettys is among them.

The spring was tough, but we had support

When COVID-19 first hit back in March, Congress was fairly quick to approve a Federal aid package to help both individuals and small businesses. Two Bettys received:

  • A Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, which allowed us to continue paying employees for 8 weeks. The PPP helped us retain workers and minimize layoffs.
  • An SBA loan, to tide us over during lockdown, when we couldn’t clean client homes and businesses.
  • Families First aid, which enabled us to give cleaners paid sick leave when they had to quarantine due to symptoms, a positive COVID diagnosis, having come in contact with a COVID-positive person, or because they were waiting on test results.

This aid was a lifesaver for Two Bettys. As a business with so many hourly employees, the Families First money was especially important. Normally, a cough or fever might cause someone to miss a day or two of work. But during the pandemic, those same symptoms lead to a COVID test and a quarantine period. For an hourly employee who’s only paid for the time they work, being required to stay home for up to 2 weeks with no pay is disastrous.

During the summer and early fall, we relied on Families First aid to pay cleaners and staff who had to stay home sick. If they had to stay home to care for an ill family member, they received partial pay. This aid was a godsend. But after months of use, our Family First money is depleted. And now that it’s cold and flu season (not to mention surge #3 of COVID-19), we need this aid more than ever.

We expected a second round of coronavirus aid this fall. But it ain’t coming.

In early October, Congress proposed a second round of relief for hard-hit small businesses. This plan included PPP money for distressed small businesses, and more Families First (FFCRA) funds, so businesses could continue to offer paid sick leave to hourly employees. Two Bettys was counting on this aid to help us break even this year, and retain staff. Based on the first round, we knew exactly how much PPP funding we needed to stay afloat. We were confident that we’d be able to weather the fall COVID surge and flu season—November, December and January—with this aid.

But this President refused to negotiate with Congress, and shut down the talks. Instead of using the autumn to make a coronavirus aid plan to proactively get ahead of the spikes we’re seeing across the country, this time was spent ramming through the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

This is an egregious failure of leadership. It’s infuriating and it’s economically unwise. There are 31.7 million small businesses in the U.S., employing 60.6 million people. According to a Mainstreet Alliance study, over half of Minnesotans work for small businesses. Without an extension to the PPP and other aid, millions of small businesses have no choice but to again furlough or let people go. Those people then go on unemployment benefits, largely paid by the government during this crisis. So the government pays either way. Small businesses that could’ve eventually rehired people fail right and left, leaving many sections of the economy in shambles.

Two Bettys is fighting hard right now. And we’re not the only ones.

Our company is a couple months away from breaking even for the year, and we’re doing our best to hang on in spite of the lack of sorely needed aid. My goal since this crisis began has been to retain as many employees as possible. For now, leadership has again taken salary reductions. We’ve made painful staffing/contractor cuts, and our entire team is working tirelessly to ensure we won’t need to make any more.

Two Bettys is a member of the Mainstreet Alliance, the Longfellow Business Association and Metro IBA. From being a part of these organizations, we know that we’re not the only local business suffering. Many are on a razor’s edge of survival right now.

Your support goes a long way

Support all of your local businesses! And here are three great ways to help Two Bettys during this challenging time:

1. Sign up for in-home or business cleaning service, or continue your existing service. Rest assured that your cleaner will follow strict COVID-19 protocols. These include firm social distancing rules, mandatory mask-wearing, and having our cleaners do a health screening before every job. We take every possible measure to minimize risk for both clients and cleaners, and prevent the spread. Are you new to Two Bettys? Schedule a free virtual estimate. And please refer your friends and family!

2. Buy cleaning products in our online shop. Now’s a great time to try out some of our do-it-yourself green cleaning kits, like COVID Crusher, Moldy Shower, and Clean Car. These kits are currently discounted, and make great holiday gifts! Looking for a green alternative to bleach wipes? Try H2Orange2, the powerful virucide spray that our pro cleaners use to sanitize and kill viruses (like COVID-19) on high-touch surfaces.
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3. Write to your representatives. Ask your senators and congresspeople to advocate for financial aid for small businesses like ours.

Thanks for supporting Two Bettys and other local businesses. Onward!

Anna Tsantir
Founder of Two Bettys Green Cleaning