For owners of small manufacturing firms like Patrick McGowan of Off the Wall Creative, Government grant announcements since lockdown have been like a drip-feed of hope.
Mr McGowan, who is from Omagh, has said he has hoped that with each announcement, his business will finally be able to qualify for aid.
There are two main grants available from the Department for the Economy here: a £10,000 grant which applies to all small businesses which qualify for small business rate relief, which was then extended to firms qualifying for industrial derating. A separate £25,000 grant applies to firms in retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism. Tomorrow is the deadline to apply for boths.
Last week further details emerged of a £40m hardship fund for those who had missed out on other grants, but it's limited to firms with between one and nine staff.
Off the Wall Creative in Dargan Crescent specialises in signage and branding. And like many firms, its trade vanished overnight when lockdown was announced in March.
"There's no doubt about it, like every business out there, we have been hit fairly hard in terms of a downturn in sales," Mr McGowan said.
"By and large, all the projects we worked on were all postponed or cancelled and there was a real worry that a lot of the customers we were dealing with wouldn't be returning, and it was very, very bleak.
"At the outset it was a very worrying and scary place and at that point in time the furloughing hadn't been launched. Nothing was coming our way and it seemed everywhere we turned a door was closing on us.
"We're one of the many firms that has fallen through the net in terms of support. Initially the manufacturing industry wasn't brought into the schemes for grant support of either £10,000 or £25,000.
"Later it was changed so that manufacturers with a net annual value of under £15,000 did fall into the £10,000 scheme. But unfortunately, because we are Belfast-based, we pay slightly higher rates and have a fairly large production facility so our rateable value meant we weren't eligible. Then there's the new hardship loan but it covers just firms that employ only one to nine people, and we have 13 full-time, so we've missed out there as well."
Castledawson family firm A Line Bedding has been manufacturing beds for retailers and smaller hotels in Northern Ireland and in the Republic for over 50 years. It is not eligible for grant support or the hardship fund. At 12, it has too many staff and it is in too high a category for rates payment to qualify for the £10,000 grant.
Damien Craig, who runs the firm with his siblings, said: "I couldn't believe we didn't fall into any category. We've been very unfortunate and we're not alone.
"Our customers are a range of retailers in the north and south as well as smaller hotels and this has hit business with virtually 100% of our customers closed. That has put a halt on our orders. We had 22 pocket sprung, bespoke beds ordered for a new hotel. They've been cancelled and we've an order that was due to be delivered to a retailer and then lockdown was announced so it's just sitting there.
"In our 50-year history this has been the worst event we've had to deal with yet, and we've been through a couple of recessions.
"I would be hopeful that at some stage the Government would offer something for those of us who have fallen between the cracks.
"With all these stores closed there is nothing happening, no orders and when shops do reopen it will take around two to three weeks to generate orders.
"There will also be additional costings when we do reopen given our tradesmen will need their own tools. We'll have to stop sharing and spacing out employees too, and that will cost."
Stephen Kelly, the head of Manufacturing NI, says the Executive's £10,000 grant scheme should be broadened out by allowing a manufacturing company's de-rated value to be brought into the scheme.
"That could bring in around 1,100 properties, some of which might be able to access the £10,000 scheme, say where an NAV of £30,000 is discounted by 70% to bring it below £15,000 and make it eligible. It would cost the Government £7m or £8m and it would just mean they could keep going for another few months until demand picks up and they're ready to take staff off furlough."
And while furloughing has been warmly welcomed by firms, he says salaries account for only one-third of the costs firms face. And he says that larger firms may ultimately make the difficult choice of making staff redundant as the furlough scheme finishes in October, which could mean the notification of a large number of redundancies over the summer, as firms are required to give 90 days notice if they plan to let go more than 100 people.
And while the Executive's recovery plan last week was welcome, dates would have helped.
"It would really help a lot of business owners if they knew for example that hospitality firms might reopen in September rather than October or even December.
"That's where dates matter, where people can think to themselves, I can go to the bank for money to cover three months - but it it's going to be six months, then that's a different matter." Meanwhile, Tilt-A-Dor in Newtownards has also failed to qualify for grant support. It has a large premises for its work making garage and industrial doors. "We don't qualify for anything and it's just a bit frustrating," says director Caroline Scott. It's been a difficult period and we don't fall into any category of help.
"The hardship fund only covers up to nine employees and we have 18. We have to continue to pay rent, which is very high. We haven't approached our landlord about a reduction in rent as he has business beside us and he too has had to close. He's a fellow businessperson in Newtownards and it just seemed unfair to say it to him. He has a mortgage to pay as well."
The company has been able to continue selling through Facebook and Gumtree as it had clients such as food companies who were still requiring new doors.
"We have tried to continue trading for our trade customers, as if we stop supplying them, they have no business.
"We were very conscious of them and their business so we brought back some of the team off furlough two weeks ago. We lost 60% of our custom when lockdown started in the south but we knew that construction was starting up in the south this week so we brought some staff back in two weeks ago for that."
The furlough scheme has been "fantastic". "It's allowed us to retain our staff whereas otherwise we would just have been making them redundant.
"Apart from that, it has been very, very difficult and we're just trying to get through like everybody else, but there just doesn't seem to be anything out there for us. We have huge overheads and the lorries from suppliers were still coming in and still needed to be paid.
"We just don't know when things will pick up. It will take time to get back to where it was before. We expect there will be a recession and we expect it will be tough for a lot of businesses."
Patrick McGowan also says he's grateful for the furlough scheme, and happily, after the doom and gloom, things are looking up a bit.
"We are now taking employees off furlough again and we are starting to see a good return to normal-ish levels of sales," he said.
"That's pretty much driven by firms returning back and putting in Covid-related signage and notifications re two-metre distancing. So that's quite a turnaround in demand and our saving grace.
"While we're not eligible for grant support, I am incredibly grateful for the job retention scheme because without that there would have been a very bleak outlook for my firm and a lot of others out there. Also, rates relief has helped and the bank was very forthcoming with a moratorium on our mortgage payment.
"A lot of our larger customers have also stepped in and made sure they're sending business our way and paying bills quicker.
"We have been incredibly grateful for that."