The Paycheck Protection Program application can be overwhelming and confusing for an independent contractor with gig economy apps like Doordash, Uber Eats, Instacart, Grubhub, Lyft and others.
Womply has created a fast, easy way to apply for PPP funding as a self employed contractor. We'll take a look at the Fast Lane application and how it simplifies the application process.
Don't get hung up on the Paycheck part of the PPP.
Part of the confusion for a lot of gig workers and other sole proprietors is the “Paycheck” in the Paycheck Protection Program. They think that it means this is only meant for businesses that have a payroll.
However, the intent of the PPP is very clear: Independent contractors, gig workers, and other self employed individuals ARE eligible for the fully forgivable Paycheck Protection Program stimulus funding.
In this program, the government sees your earnings as your paycheck. Income earned from Doordas, Uber Eats, Instacart, Grubhub, Lyft, Postmates, Shipt, GoPuff, Roadie or any of the many other gig economy apps is meant to be protected by this program.
Unfortunately, the applications can be confusing. The program works very differently for those of us who are independent contractors than it does for businesses with multiple employees. Yet the same application is often used for both.
Womply introduced the Fast Lane application to make it fast and easy for independent contractors and individuals to apply.
Womply is a registered agent in the SBA program that works with several lenders. They help businesses and sole proprietors find a lender that can handle their applications.
I first discovered Womply because they were one of the first to put out some clear information on how the Paycheck Protection Program works for independent contractors.
Nearly all the early information on how it worked addressed employees and payroll. Information for 1099 workers and self employed individuals was hard to find. Their information helped me with my first article on the PPP.
A lot of gig workers who should qualify had their applications denied. Some because they were just sloppy and didn't have their documentation together. Others because the process was just confusing.
To make things easier for independent contractors, and other 1099 and self employed workers, Womply created the Fast Lane. The Fast Lane is a fast, easy way to submit your PPP application.
In the past, you had to submit a lot of information. Womply then would forward you to a lender, and you have to do it all over again. You had to wade through all the employment portions, often not knowing how to handle it.
With the Fast Lane, Womply gathers the information for you including your tax documents. Then they find a lender that can get your application processed for you.
The application is geared towards self employed individuals. It weeds out the stuff that doesn't apply. It makes it a fast easy application process for the PPP funding.
Who can use the Fast Lane application?
The Fast Lane application is only available to first time PPP borrowers. If you have received PPP funding or an EIDL loan in the past, you cannot use the Fast Lane application.
You need to qualify for the program. You have to have been in business prior to the start of the pandemic. You'll also be asked to certify that your business was hurt by the pandemic.
There are a number of things that can disqualify you, including some felony records and involvement in certain types of business. However, recent rule changes have made more independent contractors eligible for the PPP.
When should you NOT use the Fast Lane?
One, if you have already received the first draw of the PPP funding, definitely do not use the Fast Lane application. There's not much time left. If you're eligible for the second draw and already received the first draw, you'll only slow yourself down submitting your application.
If your gross earnings on your 2020 Schedule C were higher than in 2019, you may not want to use the Fast Lane. New rules from the December Stimulus mean you can use your 2020 income as the basis for your funding instead of 2019.
Womply's Fast Lane is only set up to use the 2019 form. Partly because of the assumption that people wouldn't be ready to use their 2020 numbers, and partly because people needing aid likely had lower income in 2020 than in 2019.
However, if you started mid year in 2019 or even the very start of 2020, you'll obviously have higher overall income for your business in 2020. In that instance, you may want to choose the “NON fast lane” option.
Walking through the Fast Lane application, step by step.
While the Fast Lane is a quick and easy application process for the PPP program, it still helps to see what it's like. I recorded the video below walking through the application. Womply has an FAQ page about the Fast Lane, and about halfway down they have their own video walk through.
Full disclosure: I do have a referral relationship with Womply, and I may receive compensation for some completed applications. I have personally applied through Womply myself and they made things much easier.
There are a couple of things I didn't like. I'll mention those as I do the walkthrough.
That said, I appreciate the fact that they're there making it easier for us. So much of the process was put together focused on businesses with employees. I love that someone came along and made it easier for the self employed.
Getting Started with the Fast Lane Application
The first question on here sums up why I appreciate their approach. They ask what describes you or your business best? There are two simple responses: Either you have multiple employees, or you don't.
The thing about this is, the application can be very different for someone who has employees. You have to get into specific details around what you paid out. Womply tailors the application based on whether you need those details or not.
Next is where you'll enter your contact information. Once that's done, the next screen helps you determine if you can use the Fast Lane.
Understanding the qualifications.
There are five check boxes. Let's be clear here. These are only qualifications for using the streamlined Fast Lane process. These are things that you need to make the process go well.
I have never received a PPP or EIDL loan.
This application is not for second draw applications. It is to make it easier for individuals who have never received the PPP funding.
Don't be confused by the “EIDL Loan” portion. There are two parts to the EIDL program. There was the EIDL advance, which for independent contractors was $1,000 under the original program. And then there was the optional loan.
There are additional steps if you've received the loan. Those steps make it harder for them to streamline the application.
I should note that in the video above, when I walked through, they had a line that said “EIDL Advance is ok.”
I have a US Mobile Phone Number.
Originally I used a landline, and the program wouldn't accept it. It turns out that it's because they use two factor authentication, so they want to make sure you're using a number that they can text a confirmation code to.
I know my Social Security Number.
I have a US bank account that I can access online.
Part of the application process is entering your bank account information so they know where to deposit the funds.
In order to streamline the process, Womply uses a third party app called Plaid. Plaid is becoming pretty widely known as a program that can connect different apps (like Venmo) to your bank.
Some bank accounts don't have a strong online program. You may be able to access your information online, but they don't interface well with other programs. For instance, my credit union couldn't connect to Plaid.
If you have a smaller bank, you may want to check into whether they interface well with Plaid. If they don't, it doesn't mean you can't apply for the PPP, but it might mean that you'll have to use the traditional application instead of the Fast Lane.
I have access to a PDF of my 2019 IRS tax filings including either my 1040 Schedule C or 1040 Schedule F.
You need to have your tax forms in a PDF format. My experience walking through this application was that you're best off finding a way to have both your 1040 AND your Schedule C in the same PDF. It will just make things easier.
Here's my first complaint about the Fast Lane. I'm disappointed they didn't include an option for using your 2020 numbers. The SBA's PPP rules of January 6, 2021 clearly state that you can use your 2019 OR your 2020 Schedule C as the basis for calculating the loan amount.
Using only the 2019 Schedule C unnecessarily limits the aid that an independent contractor can receive. I have no problem with them limiting it to 2019 for purposes of streamlining, but then they need to be clear to applicants that you may be better off using your 2020 numbers, and if so, then apply through the normal process.
Starting the Fast Lane application itself.
Once you check off the information, you'll be sent an email verification link. When you verify your email, you'll then receive a confirmation code via text message. Verify your mobile number, and you can begin the application.
You can see that I used a fake name when running this sample.
Unless the information has changed since you filed taxes, I would recommend making sure everything here matches up with your address and other information on your tax form.
For the date your business started, that's when you began your gig work (if you're a gig contractor). Check your Schedule C from 2019 and see what date you put down for that. It's a good idea that they match.
For DBA or trade name, you only need to enter something here IF you filed a DBA or a trade name, such as when creating an LLC. If you have not officially registered a DBA (Doing Business As) for your business, leave this blank.
Next you'll certify some information:
There's a whole list of things. It asks if the answer to ALL of the questions on the screen is “No.” Read each of those points carefully. In a nutshell (at risk of over-simplifying the above), any one of the following would disqualify you from the program:
- You are barred from the government for aid programs or you're involved in a bankruptcy.
- You are currently delinquent or have defaulted on an SBA or Federal agency loan.
- Whether you are in prison or are facing criminal proceedings for a felony.
- In the past five years you were convicted of a felony involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement or false information on a loan or federal financial assistance application.
- You received an SBA EIDL loan between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020.
- You are the owner of another business
- If you are the owner of a franchise
Only click Confirm if you can confirm that you meet every qualification.
Upon confirmation, you'll be asked to confirm that the United States is the principle place of residence during the time for which you're claiming income for your business.
You'll then be asked if you want to provide demographic information (age, race, etc.). This information is not required and will not be used in the decision.
If you noticed any of the discussion around the new rules that opened things up for the PPP, you might hear information about how many black owned or minority owned businesses received aid. The demographic information helps the SBA track this kind of information.
Next you will connect your bank account.
Remember that this is a streamlined application.
You would be amazed how often the problem with an application comes down to not having an eligible bank account.
Another issue with the bank account problem is that often they have to do this little dance of confirming your bank account with those mini deposits. You know the ones I'm talking about? They send you two deposits of a few cents each, then you have to wait for that to show up before you can confirm the amounts.
That can delay the process by a few days. With a deadline looming, you don't want to take a chance with that delay. Connecting directly will speed up the process.
I'm not sure if you've noticed Plaid before. I explained it above but they're a third party application that makes connections but doesn't give out your bank information to the party using them (Womply in this case).
Unfortunately some banks don't connect well to Plaid. That's usually with much smaller banks. My credit union account doesn't connect well with budget programs and other things like that, so it wasn't a surprise I couldn't use it with Plaid.
Uploading your tax forms on the Fast Lane application
You'll have a few screens that will walk you through uploading your 2019 tax forms. You'll need something that includes your Schedule C AND your 1040 form.
If by chance you're in agriculture and you use Schedule F to report your income and expenses, ignore all the Schedule C stuff I'm saying and replace it with Schedule F.
If you used filing software, your program should be able to print out your entire return as one big PDF. As long as it includes your 1040 and Schedule C (or F) you'll be fine.
If all you have is a paper copy, you'll want to scan those into a single document.
When I walked through this process, I couldn't find a way to upload multiple documents. There was an option after uploading to hit the back button and take you to the upload screen again. However, I don't know if doing that would have just overwritten what you uploaded the first time.
And then, you'll be asked a very important question.
What was on line 7 of your Schedule C? If you had more than one Schedule C, you'll need to add up the total of line 7 from all of them. For instance, I have a Schedule C for my delivery work and one for my website/podcast, so I needed to add the total from both.
This is a big change. Under the old rules, it was line 31 that you had to enter.
Line 7 is the money you brought in to your business. Line 31 is the profit – what's left over afterwards. What that means is, you'll have a larger number now that you're using Line 7, and a larger number means you can receive more in funding.
Explaining your type of business.
Honestly, I'm not sure why they ask this question.
My best guess is that some lenders might distinguish between the three. Maybe it's a sort of demographic question. Independent contractors are self employed, and independent contractors and self employed individuals are all sole proprietors.
When you file your taxes, the IRS only has one designation: Sole proprietor. So I'm not sure why they're asking this question.
If you're a gig worker, I guess just humor them and choose the Independent Contractor. If you're an entrepreneur of some type, honestly I'm not sure if there's a difference between sole proprietor and self employed. Pick one.
Choosing your loan amount.
This one is going to create confusion.
In the follow up screens, they try to clear up the confusion a little. I wish they'd have done that first.
There were two draws to the PPP program. The first one was introduced with the CARES act. Under the new stimulus program from December 2020, Congress opened up the PPP first draw again for those who hadn't applied yet. But they also allowed those who received funding before to possibly qualify for funding again.
I was always under the impression that you had to wait before applying for the second draw. Womply has pointed out that it's possible to put in the application more quickly than I realized.
That's what this screen is all about. You're essentially saying, yes, I want to apply for both draws.
I have two problems with this.
One, you can't qualify for the second draw unless you had an economic loss of 25% or more for at least one quarter of 2020. Womply doesn't mention that anywhere.
Two, they create an expectation that you'll receive both draws. There's a lot of hoops to jump through and I'm not sure there's time.
Related: This tendency to push applications through without vetting whether people qualify is creating some additional problems. You can read more here about PPP loan fraud.
I just wish they were more up front about both.
That said, I'd say choose the higher amount here. Just do it with the understanding that you may only receive the lower amount (provided you qualify and pass the application).
Explaining your type of business. Again…. In another way.
I like to keep content organized. I just feel better when there's a flow. Maybe there's a bit of OCD in me that way.
So that part of me thinks, okay, why not put this with the part about what type of business?
Now it's time to select the industry code. Only it's not a code, you have to pick the category.
See the little arrow at the top right just under the little search box? See how tiny that little bar is? That's the bar you can drag up and down to scroll through all the options.
There are a LOT of options to choose from. And, it's not easy to find them.
You can type in a word and hope it pulls up what you're looking for. If you type in “Delivery” you'll get two options:
- Local Messengers and Local Delivery
- Couriers and Express Delivery Services
Personally I chose Local Messengers and Local Delivery.
Rideshare isn't so easy. Nothing comes up. The two most popular choices that fit would be Taxi Service or Limousine Service.
Don't even get me started on figuring out what to put down as a blogger or podcaster.
If you want an easier place to search through codes, you can go to the NAICS Code Search page. There are two search bars – enter your term in the top bar and click NAICS Search. The titles there will line up with the category names on the Fast Lane app.
Wrapping it up.
Once you found your industry, you're pretty much done.
You'll get this disclaimer before you complete the application.
I think there's a challenge that goes with a streamlined application. It's made to be fast and easy for someone to fill out as an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or a gig worker like those of us who work with apps like Doordash, Instacart, Uber, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Lyft (and the list goes on and on).
Sometimes you can go so quickly that you skip over important stuff. So this is worth the read. (I'm typing it out in case the size of the screenshot makes it hard to read on the image above)
The text of the Womply PPP Fast Lane Application Disclaimer:
Womply PPP Fast Lane collects the minimum information needed to create your official application. This accelerated data collection flow is not a substitute for reading the legal documents you will sign.
Womply is not a PPP lender and is not engaged in making loans or extending credit to consumers or businesses. Additionally, Womply is not in the business of providing legal or tax advice. Instead, Womply is an agent to various PPP lenders, and these lenders compensate Womply for providing you with this PPP application portal and for providing them with other services.
Womply is not a party to your loan application. You are solely responsible for the quality, accuracy, and completeness of any information you submit in relation to your PPP loan application. Womply populates your loan application with information you have provided to Womply; prior to signing your application you must review it for completeness and accuracy. Womply is not responsible for ensuring that your submissions comply with applicable laws, rules, and or regulations.
Womply makes no representations regarding your eligibility or ineligibility for a PPP loan. Finally, Womply does not guarantee that a lender will approve your PPP loan application.
Important takeaways from the disclaimer
Read what you are signing. They mention again, this is designed to speed things up. But stop and pay attention, especially to things like this.
Womply is not the lender. Womply is an agent that connects borrowers to SBA approved lenders. They are only taking the information you provide and then packaging it in the form of an application to send to a lender that can get your PPP application submitted for you.
Womply gets paid for doing this by the lenders. That means that you don't have to pay for the service. In return, Womply does what it can to make it as easy as possible to process as many applications as possible.
Womply is not applying for you. In their FAQ they explicitly say that they are NOT applying for you. I was a little confused by that language. But they make that point because ultimately, YOU are responsible for your application. They gather the information and package it for an application but when it's all said and done, you are the one responsible for your application.
There are no guarantees. There's no promise that you will get funded. You can run into issues because the information you provided doesn't line up. There can be problems because the SBA still doesn't have their act together.
When it's all said and done, you get the confirmation screen.
What happens after your application is submitted?
Womply will compile the information you provided and package it in an application to be submitted to one of their lenders. Womply or the lender may contact you if there are issues with the application. You may be asked to follow up with other documentation.
If everything is good, you should be contacted to approve submission of your application. There will be an electronic signature process.
If you chose the higher amount (for both first and second draws), make sure to stay on top of your email and any information coming from Womply. They'll walk you through the steps to get your second application submitted if there is time to get it submitted. Pay close attention to any instructions and move quickly on completing the application.
Remember, there are no guarantees. Womply is doing this to streamline the application process but they cannot speed up the lenders or the SBA. There is always the possibility that funds run out or deadlines pass before everything gets submitted.
Finally, keep in mind, this is a business program. Treat it like a business application. This isn't a lottery or sweepstakes. Along those lines, remember it's a government program. Don't make up numbers, don't lie on your application. When you give it the care and thought that go with a government and business related application, you improve your chances of being funded.