For many small business owners, their businesses are their "babies," a fact that their financial advisors need to understand, said Alexandra Quitko, wealth advisor at Omnia Family Wealth.

If the owners have to close up shop or lay employees off, it is an emotional trauma, not just a business decision, Quitko said in an interview with Financial Advisor magazine. Omnia, a multifamily office based in Aventura, Fla., serves small business owners and former owners.

The federal stimulus program that is now being implemented, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, is designed, in part, to get these owners through the financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

“Business owners need to be talking to their trusted fiduciary right now to determine which of the programs under the CARES Act is best for them,” Quitko said. “We hope this period of distress will only be for a few months. Our clients need their employees – many of whom are like family – to be there when we come out of this so they can rebuild their businesses and be profitable.”

The CARES Act includes two loan programs that can be used by small businesses. The two programs have different rules, different repayment provisions and can be used for different expenses. Business owners need to understand what they are eligible for and whether they will be required to repay the loans, Quitko said.

The forgivable Paycheck Protection Program is designed to help business owners keep workers on the payroll while the employees are out of work. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program can be used for expenses other than payroll, but also for payroll under certain circumstances. A business owner can obtain both loans under some conditions, Quitko noted. Those not obtaining loans can get tax credits and can delay paying payroll taxes to help with their short-term expenses.

“It’s hard to know now whether these programs will be enough to keep small businesses operating. Only time will tell,” she added. But business owners need to discuss their options with their advisors and advisors have to know the program details in order to help.

“There will be some permanent changes that will come out of this crisis. For instance, some businesses will find employees can work at home and the culture of the firm can still be maintained,” Quitko said.