November 2, 2020 en_US As the world continues to evolve in response to the coronavirus, small business owners like Sherita are finding ways to adapt. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A0o8CUcs3/IMG_20191119_115333_071-1.jpg https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/coronavirus/persevere-in-pandemic-times/ Self-employed travel blogger maps a path to persevere in pandemic times

Self-employed travel blogger maps a path to persevere in pandemic times

By Danielle Higley November 2, 2020

Sherita Rankins isn’t a professional with idle hands. In fact, she’s been running full steam ahead since she was 15, working as a model in Chicago. Since then, she’s studied finance and international business. She’s worked in HR and the nonprofit sector and been a director of finance while simultaneously balancing an on-camera career.

Today, Sherita’s a commercial actress and host, a social media influencer, and a blogger. Her website, Busy Wife Busy Life, provides tips for women on everything from food to fashion and finance to travel.

Sherita is responsible for the site’s content and has written every post since 2016. “I live in New York City. It’s my inspiration,” she says.

“I don’t write about anything I’m not passionate about. Lately it’s been difficult, because the things I used to write about—traveling, spring nail art, that kind of thing—aren’t a priority for most people right now.”

Sherita revises her content to meet coronavirus concerns

Sherita is speaking, of course, about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to TSA checkpoint records, the number of travelers this year compared to last began to drop drastically in March 2020. Those numbers have yet to recover. People continue to put vacations on hold in favor of staying healthy at home.

The shutdown has posed an interesting challenge for Sherita, whose past content includes travel tips like Getting the most from your travel rewards.

“Trying to find helpful tips and information that keeps people motivated and inspired during the past six months has been a little difficult.” Sherita says, “I’ve also been trying to keep myself motivated and inspired. It’s a bit of a fine line between time management and just fueling your creative juices.”

Currently, Sherita’s travel posts look less like “Planning your trip to Bora Bora” and more like “What to know when traveling during COVID.” And since she’s a lifestyle blogger as well as a travel writer, it’s not just her advice for leaving town that’s changed. Sherita’s website now covers topics like “How to dress for a Zoom interview” and “Cute ways to update your loungewear.”

Unlike her writing, Sherita says it’s been tougher to pivot her on-camera work. COVID has brought filming to a screeching halt. “Once COVID hit, everything stopped,” she says. “I couldn’t go to auditions. No one was filming commercials.” And even on her site, Sherita began to feel the strain as advertisers began cutting back on the sponsorships that support her income.

“It really got scary for a moment. I was like, ‘Oh, what if no one wants to advertise ever again?’ I had to tell myself, ‘That’s not going to happen. Just relax.’”

But even knowing tough times wouldn’t last forever, Sherita knew she needed a plan. So she began looking into options that could help her and her husband stay afloat financially.

Sherita Rankins

Getting financial aid is a test of patience and perseverance

Like his wife, Sherita’s husband is self-employed. His work took a similar hit when the coronavirus came on scene. As a result, the couple’s two-income household was suddenly subject to a much smaller budget.

“We had savings, but especially during so much uncertainty, you don’t want to spend that right away,” Sherita says. “It’s one thing when you can say, ‘Oh, I’ll get a paycheck in three weeks. I’ll just take the money out of my savings.’ But we don’t know when the world is going to open back up. So I wanted to keep that money for dire emergencies like no more groceries—that kind of thing.”

One of Sherita’s options for financial relief was to apply for unemployment. Another was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“Unemployment, honestly, was a nightmare,” she says. “I applied, but it took over a month before someone actually got back to me. I literally called them 117 times in one day and got through six of those times. But even once I got through, they’d say, ‘We’ll transfer you.’ And they would, but then the transfer site would say, ‘Everyone’s busy. Goodbye.’ And it would just automatically hang up. By the time someone actually got back to me, it was as if a long-lost relative was calling. He was like, ‘Hi, this is Mitch from the New York Labor—’ And I was like, “Mitch! Oh, my God, how are you?’ I actually got my PPP before I got my unemployment.”

But getting PPP loan funding was its own process of trial and error.

“I missed the first round because I wasn’t aware of all of the stipulations,” Sherita says. “I wasn’t sure if I could even apply as an independent contractor.” What’s more, Sherita had a pretty big item on her to-do list that she and her husband would have to complete in order to apply.

“We hadn’t done our taxes yet,” she says. “As a small business owner and contractor, I always owe money.”

For Sherita, the question wasn’t if she would pay, but when? From a position of unemployment, she and her husband had to make a choice: Either pay up and get the loan or hold off and give up that bit of financial assistance.

And then the program ran out of cash.

“I was actually applying through another lender when, in the midst of my application, they were like, ‘Oh, we reached our cap.’ I was mid application, filling it out,” Sherita says. “Then the screen I was on paused for a moment and kicked me out.”

But Sherita, like so many other small business owners, would get another chance. And this time, she and her husband would go through QuickBooks.

QuickBooks offers business owners a faster PPP experience

“This time, I was like, ‘I don’t want to be left behind,’ so I went to my husband and said, ‘Okay, we need to do our taxes.’ He’s like, ‘Right now?’ I was like, ‘Yes, right now.’ It was Sunday, and the application process opened on that Monday. So for the next five hours, we did our taxes. We filed our federal taxes and the readjustment from moving back to New York from California. It was the longest Sunday.”

When they were done, Sherita says she treated herself to some sushi, a bubble bath, and a glass of Champagne. The next day, she applied for the PPP loan via QuickBooks.

“It pulled in half of my data. I just had to override one section because I have two Schedule C’s from acting and blogging, and I wanted to combine those. The application itself took three to five minutes, if that.”

An hour later, Sherita got a message saying her application had been submitted correctly, and she was good to go. Five days later, her loan was funded. “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It was so fast.”

As the world continues to evolve in response to the coronavirus, small business owners like Sherita are finding ways to adapt. “It was difficult and challenging at times, but I feel like we’re on the upswing now,” Sherita says. “Hopefully things will only continue to get better.”

If it’s up to the persevering spirit of small business owners like Sherita, they will.

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Danielle Higley is a copywriter for TSheets by QuickBooks, a time tracking and scheduling solution. She’s been a contributor to MSN.com, FiveThirtyEight, and a variety of HR and business blogs where she can put her affinity for long-form storytelling to best use. Read more