Welcome to CO—'s news feed for small businesses. We bring you all the news you need to run a successful business and keep on top of the latest trends. Updated regularly and always found right here... all in one place.

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All the news you need to run your small business.

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and GrubHub team up to help LGBTQ+ and ally-owned restaurants, bars in need

The LGBTQ+ National Chamber of Commerce has announced that $2 million in funding, raised in partnership with GrubHub, will be allocated to grants for struggling LGBTQ+ and ally-owned food establishments nationwide. Now through October 12, 2021, qualifying restaurant owners who demonstrate financial need can apply for NGLCC/GrubHub Community Impact Grant Program funds ranging from $5,000 - $100,000. Grants will be distributed in November, timed with the NGLCC Back To Business Summit. In an effort to focus assistance where it is especially needed, 30% of the program’s funds will be aimed at aiding small businesses owned by people of color and transgender/gender non-conforming individuals. Eligibility information and applications can be found at the NGLCC website.

PayPal’s new ‘super app’ may help organize your small business finances

PayPal is already one of the most popular payment processing apps for small businesses. Now, the company has announced the rollout of its new PayPal app, a plan that has been in the works for some time. This new “super app” will offer several new financial tools, including direct deposit, bill pay, a digital wallet, peer-to-peer payments, shopping tools, crypto capabilities and more. Additionally, PayPal will be rolling out a new high-yield savings account in partnership with Synchrony Bank, as well as a shopping hub that will automatically present customers with curated discounts and deals from Honey. These new tools and features should help streamline small business procedures with automatic bill payment and direct deposit options.

Apply to have Facebook pay your small business invoices and help your cash flow

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that the company is expanding its Invoice Fast Track program to help struggling small businesses owners with their cash flow amid the pandemic. The social media platform has committed to buying up to $100M in outstanding invoices for small business goods and services, with the goal of loosening cash flow for struggling companies. This initiative is especially geared toward helping women- and minority-owned small businesses, as they have faced the most obstacles during the past few years, wrote Sandberg. Starting October 1, eligible businesses can apply to get any outstanding customer invoices covered immediately, rather than waiting the standard 60 to 120 days.

Applications open October 1 for $6 million in second phase Comcast RISE small business funding

From October 1 - October 14, applications will be open for the next phase of Comcast’s RISE grants which were introduced in June, 2020, as part of the company’s $100 million commitment to provide Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian American and other small business owners of color with funding and services to narrow the economic disparities they face and provide them with resources needed to succeed. Businesses that have been in operation for three or more years in select counties of Miami, Florida; Oakland, California; Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; the Twin Cities, Minnesota; or Seattle, Washington, and who employ 25 people or less, are eligible to apply. One hundred awardees per city will be announced this November and receive their $10,000 award in December. Get more information on upcoming funding eligibility as well as opportunities to receive RISE marketing, media and technical support services, at Comcast RISE.

Goldman Sachs promotes workforce development initiatives with new 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows program

Goldman Sachs has announced that the company is piloting what it considers a major push towards promoting economic recovery and workforce development with its new 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows program. The newly launched program is designed to help address and alleviate the challenges faced by both small businesses and historically underrepresented community college students with a two-pronged plan to facilitate stability, opportunity and growth. The program kicks off in Baltimore, New York City, Dallas and Cleveland where Goldman Sachs will fully fund semester-long paid internships for 250 students according to their interests, matching them with local small businesses in need of recruiting new talent to drive growth. Complete program details including partner affiliates and eligibility can be found at 10ksbfellows.

Local tax deadlines extended for those affected by recent storms

State and local governments have pushed back certain business tax deadlines in areas that were affected by recent severe weather events. Louisiana residents impacted by Hurricane Ida have until January 3, 2022, to file individual and business tax returns and make payments that are due after August 26. In Tennessee, which experienced heavy storms and flooding, the IRS extended the tax deadline to file and pay certain federal taxes in Dickson, Hickman, Houston and Humphreys counties to January 3, 2022. For businesses and residents affected by a tornado in Anne Arundel County in Maryland, multiple August deadlines for monthly business filers have been extended into September and October. If you were recently affected by a storm, check with your local government to see if any of your tax deadlines have been extended.

SBA awards $5.2 million to its PRIME grant recipients

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it would award 27 organizations across the country a total of $5.2 million under its Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME). This program provides assistance to organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs, who may not otherwise have sufficient training, education and resources to grow their business. The SBA says it emphasized projects and partners that offered training and technical assistance to economically disadvantaged businesses. Among the 27 recipients of the awards, 15 were for services in Opportunity Zones and 12 for those serving in HUBZones.

SBA announces significant enhancements to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program

The hard hit small business community will now be eligible for much needed additional financial assistance through several major enhancements that are being implemented as part of the U.S Small Business Administration’s (SBA) COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Effective immediately, applications are open for loans with borrowing limits of up to $2 million vs. the previous cap of $500,000. As part of the loan enhancements, repayments can now be deferred for 24 months from the date they were issued. Also announced, a 30-day exclusivity period during which loans of $500,000 or less will be reviewed, approved and distributed, allowing for easier and and more immediate access to a share of the estimated $150 billion in funds available for capital and operating expenses including payroll, equipment purchases and paying off debt. EIDL funds will additionally now be approved for pre-paying commercial debt and to alleviate federal business debt. A detailed outline of the key changes, important dates and guidance on how to apply is available on the SBA website.

SBA’s National Small Business Week Virtual Summit celebrates resilience and renewal

In honor of National Small Business Week (NSBW), the U.S. Small Business Administration will be hosting a three-day Virtual Summit from September 13 to 15. The event will specifically focus on the resilience of the small business community through COVID-19 shutdowns, vaccine mandates and more, as well as the hopeful renewal of the small business economy. Attendees of the free event will discover outlooks from industry leaders, connect with fellow entrepreneurs, learn how to recover and discover new ways to scale their businesses. This year’s NSBW virtual summit will also share specific opportunities to highlight and elevate underserved communities. Learn more and register on the SBA’s website.

Amazon’s free ‘Accelerate’ conference will feature 30 educational sessions, networking event to help small businesses grow on the site

Entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to grow on the nation’s biggest e-commerce site can now register for Amazon Accelerate, a free virtual conference from October 20 to 21, aimed at anyone interested in selling on the site as well as the Amazon seller community.

The two-day conference will feature 30 sessions providing insights and strategies on starting and scaling a business to building and growing a brand, including a keynote from Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide consumer, who will discuss Amazon’s heightened focus on connecting small businesses with more than 300 million shoppers.

The second annual Amazon Accelerate will also include seller presentations, a virtual networking event so that entrepreneurs can meet with industry experts and peers, and Q&A time so that attendees can get their business questions answered.

Prospective sellers will receive a “Start Selling on Amazon” toolkit, with information on how to register for an Amazon selling account. “We encourage prospective sellers to set up an Amazon selling account prior to Amazon Accelerate to get the most out of the event,” the company said in a statement. Interested attendees can register here.

Veteran federal procurement entrepreneurship training program receives $500,000 SBA grant

In partnership with the National Center for the Federal Veteran Institute of Procurement (VIP), the SBA has awarded $500,000 to advance the efforts of the VIP to provide entrepreneurship training for businesses that are veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned. The grant will span a four-year period of performance and will support efforts aimed at helping to develop the skills necessary to win or successfully execute federal procurement contracts in what is a competitive marketplace. VIP and its best-practices programming for veterans interested in federal procurement opportunities helps meet the federally mandated 3% veteran-owned and service disabled veteran-owned spending goal. To learn more about the program and SBA’s ongoing commitment to the veteran small business community, click here.

Verizon to offer small businesses special access to educational events and tech discounts from September 13-17

Verizon Business is holding Small Business Days between September 13 and 17, whereby small- and medium-sized businesses can visit a participating Verizon store or book a virtual appointment to access discounts on tech and tools designed to jumpstart areas of their business such as communications, connectivity and security. These range from resources such as a small business webinar series to a data breach report on helping businesses protect their operations from today’s cyber threats. Starting September 13, owners of small- and medium-sized businesses will also gain access to Verizon’s limited-time offers and up to $1,000 in savings on tools including a mobile point-of-sale platform for touchless payment transactions. Additionally, all Verizon activation and upgrade fees will be waived. A complete list of offers is available here.

For small businesses with big Twitter audiences, ‘Super Follows’ can help you earn revenue for content

If your small business has a large following on Twitter, you may be able to take advantage of a new program called Super Follows. Twitter is now allowing active U.S. users with over 10,000 followers and more than 25 tweets in a 30-day period to offer paid, subscriber-only content. Super Follows allows users to offer three monthly subscription options ($2.99, $4.99 and $9.99) so they can offer premium access to things like bonus behind-the-scenes content, early previews and subscriber-only conversations, curated especially for subscribers. This program offers a potential recurring revenue opportunity for influential business owners across a wide range of industries.

SBA opens Virtual Business Recovery Center to support Louisiana businesses affected by Hurricane Ida

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, many businesses in Louisiana have lost power, gas or inventory, while others continue to bail out floodwaters or have lost their buildings entirely to the storm. To help, low-interest federal disaster loans are now being provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to specific counties in Louisiana that were most affected by Ida. Virtual Business Recovery Center and Disaster Loan Outreach Centers have been put into place to remotely support small business owners and answer questions about the loan program, which will allow businesses to borrow up to $2 million. Small businesses in the declared disaster area are also eligible to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and steps for applying can be found here.

OSHA and NIOSH issue updated Small Business Safety and Health Handbook

In a partnership with the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an updated version of its Small Business Safety and Health Handbook. The guide provides important information specific to general industry small businesses, including the benefits of workplace health and safety protocols and initiatives and checklists for conducting self-inspections that include identifying different types of hazards. Within each checklist section, there are links to additional information that support each subtopic covered; also included is a comprehensive list of essential resources established to serve businesses as they develop, adjust and improve their internal health and safety standards. Read more about the collaboration including insights from key OSHA and NIOSH executives here.

PepsiCo’s $50 million Juntos Crecemos platform hopes to help Hispanic small businesses grow

Last October, PepsiCo launched Racial Equality Journey, a long-term commitment to support Black and Hispanic businesses in a variety of ways with dedicated funding of $570 million dollars. As part of the investment, the company has announced two key initiatives aimed at infusing much needed financial and infrastructure aid to Hispanic businesses, which were disproportionately affected or derailed by COVID. Juntos Crecemos, or “together we grow,” is a $50 million platform designed to address the specific challenges and support growth within the Hispanic community’s restaurants, bodegas and carnicerias (meat markets). An eight-week customized curriculum focused on improving online ordering and delivery is just one of the many benefits participants will have access to. The $10 million IMPACTO Hispanic Business Accelerator, an extension of the Juntos Crecemos platform, also officially kicked off and will award $10,000 in funding, along with business coaching, to 500 Hispanic food and beverage businesses across 13 U.S. cities over the next five years. For a list of the first 150 grant recipients as well as information on how to apply, visit the Juntos Crecemos platform at PepsiCo.

U.S. Chamber Foundation's Disaster Help Desk is open for Hurricane-Impacted Businesses

If your business has been impacted by Hurricane Ida, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Disaster Help Desk for Business can help your business recover and reopen as quickly as possible. If you’re a business owner or looking to provide aid in the affected regions, please call 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP or visit the Disaster Help Desk for more info. The Disaster Help Desk provides one-on-one expert assistance to small business owners before, during, and after a disaster strikes.

Important tax deadlines coming in September

September is tax time for small businesses, with two important filing dates that should be on your radar. First, if you are self-employed or have other sources of taxable income and expect to owe the IRS more than $1,000 for the year, you are required to file estimated quarterly taxes, with the next payment due September 15 for the June 1—August 31 time period. Form 1040ES can help guide small business owners, freelancers and independent contractors through the process. Next, a 2020 calendar year return is due via Form 1065 for partnerships and multi-member LLCs that timely filed an automatic six-month extension; for S corps that form is 1120S. This guide from the IRS can help you understand and keep track of other important tax filing dates for the remainder of 2021.

Small businesses can expand their reach and delivery options with Walmart’s new GoLocal service

Offering home delivery has been essential to small business survival throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also comes with a logistical and financial burden. Walmart wants to help small businesses affordably expand their reach and capacity by offering white-label delivery services at competitive pricing. Walmart GoLocal allows businesses to leverage the retail giant’s existing nationwide logistics capabilities to offer safe, efficient transportation of all types of retail goods while maintaining direct customer relationships. Small businesses can apply to become a Walmart merchant partner at the GoLocal website.

Small businesses need to improve their LinkedIn presence to fill jobs, experts advise

There are currently 10 million jobs in need of being filled in the U.S., and businesses of all sizes are suffering lost revenue as a result. In a recent CNBC/Momentive small business survey, 31% of small business owners reported having job roles they are unable to fill. There are signs that things are improving, however, as increases in staffing are driven by large corporations sweetening compensation packages with benefits like hefty tuition subsidies to attract employees. Unable to compete with these offers, small businesses are advised by experts to better leverage tools like LinkedIn to shine a light on more values-driven propositions that will help close the gap on the job openings. The insights shared suggest there is an opportunity to go beyond a job post to create a more dynamic presence on the professional networking platform by conveying the company’s mission, values and people-centered ideals; creating engagement, community and conversations; highlighting the company’s best assets, its people; and sharing insights on work culture and options in work arrangements. Read the full story for more of what the experts believe will help move the needle on small business staffing.

EY’s Entrepreneurs Access Network (EAN) seeks Black and Latinx-owned businesses to join its 2022 program

Minority-owned businesses often face a wide disparity in access to resources, capital and networking opportunities compared with non-minority-owned businesses. EY is looking to address this gap with its Entrepreneurs Access Network (EAN), a program designed to help Black and Latinx business owners reach their full potential through coaching, education, capital and connections to other successful minority business owners. EY is accepting applications for its 2022 program through September 17, 2021. Black and Latinx CEOs and founders of any privately held U.S. company that is at least 51% Black- or Latinx-owned and has been in business for two or more years can apply for the 2022 EAN program.

OpenTable partners with CLEAR to streamline proof of vaccination for restaurants

In recent weeks, cities like New York City and San Francisco have made proof of vaccination a requirement to dine at restaurants. OpenTable wants to make this process easier for small businesses to navigate. The digital restaurant reservation company announced this week that it will be integrating CLEAR’s digital vaccination card into its app. This allows restaurants to verify diners for entry with vaccination details, as well as list proof of vaccination as a Safety Precaution on their OpenTable profile page. Diners can then show their CLEAR card via the OpenTable app when they check in for their reservation. This streamlined process will be beneficial to both customers and restaurant owners who want to keep their businesses operating as safely as possible.

Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine gets full FDA approval, with business-imposed mandates expected to follow

Following several months of emergency use status, the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has received full regulatory approval in the U.S. by the the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many believe the official vote of confidence could boost vaccination rates as much as 30% based on polling figures of unvaccinated adults who have opted to “wait and see.” It also could be likely that there will be an increase in the number and types of businesses that require vaccinations for its employees and, where applicable, its patrons. While many large, high-profile corporations have taken bold steps to mandate vaccines company-wide, and legally so, others, including smaller businesses, have been hesitant until full approval. With a new level of empowerment, these businesses are expected to enforce strict vaccination guidelines among workers and customers and take a tougher stand in the name of sustained health and safety. For more approval facts and figures, click here. [More on how to mandate employee vaccines.]

Phase-out planned for Mastercard’s credit, debit card magnetic stripes

Magnetic stripes have been a fixture of credit and debit cards since first introduced in the 1960s to store cardholder data. Now, with chip readers and contactless technologies becoming more pervasive, Mastercard announced that it is the first company with a planned phase-out of the magnetic stripe. Starting in 2024, the company will offer it as an option to customers. In 2029, it will no longer issue cards with magnetic stripes and in 2033, the stripe will be eliminated in favor of cards with EMV chips—fast becoming the new standard and considered to be less vulnerable to damage as well as hackers and cybersecurity threats. Mastercard breaks down everything there is to know here.

IRS requires EIN-holding businesses, charities and others to file updates to responsible party info within 60 days of changes

The Internal Revenue Service is calling upon all businesses, charities and any other entity that has filed an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to update their contact information via form 8822-B within 60 days of making any changes. The agency believes the stepped up effort will significantly help to mitigate impact in cases of identity theft through a system of checks and balances. Having access to accurate and up-to-date information, specifically the name and Taxpayer Identification Number of an organization’s responsible party, can shorten the response and recovery time in cases of fraudulent activity. To build awareness and increase action, this month the IRS began sending out letters to 100,000 business owners with Employer Identification Numbers that appear to be outdated. Learn more about the importance of timely updates and steps you can take to stay current.

Treasury/IRS issue safe harbor exclusions from gross receipts considered for ERC eligibility

Employers claiming Employee Retention Credits as part of their employment tax return can now exclude a number of items from the gross receipts required for eligibility consideration. A joint announcement about the new safe harbor came from the Department of Treasury and IRS which outlined the exclusions, among them: the amount of forgiveness received as part of their loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grants; and Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants. Employers are not required to take advantage of the safe harbor; however, if they elect to, they must follow recommended procedures which include the consistent omission of these amounts with each quarterly filing in which gross receipts are required to determine ERC eligibility. Check out our guide to the Employee Retention Tax Credit here.

IRS announces important new Work Opportunity Tax Credit extensions

The IRS has announced an extension of the 28-day filing period required of certain employers who wish to have qualifying employees designated as living within an Empowerment Zone, specifically Designated Community Residents or Qualified Summer Youth Employees. The changes are part of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program which provides certain businesses that hire workers facing considerable barriers to employment, specifically those identified as Empowerment Zones, with relief in the form of federal income tax credits, calculated as a percentage of employee salaries. November 8, 2021 has been announced as the new deadline for employers to submit their request and proof of hiring from Designated Community Residents or Qualified Summer Youth Employees groups for those hired between January 1 and October 8. Under the extension, there is also guidance for businesses who had their submissions denied when Empowerment Zones designations were expected to be terminated on December 31, 2020 but have since been extended through 2025.

SBA announces availability of supplemental aid for Shuttered Venues Operators Grant applicants

The Small Business Administration is encouraging all live entertainment venues and related businesses to apply for Shuttered Venues Operators Grants, now open for new applications through Friday, August 20th. Click here to access the SVOG portal. While new applications will not be accepted beyond this date, the SBA will soon begin awarding supplemental aid to SVOGs at an amount expected to be 50% of their original grant award, not to exceed $10 million between original and additional aid. In addition, the agency will be inviting select businesses that were either declined or that felt that they didn’t receive adequate help to be reconsidered for additional funds through an appeals process that could help to reverse earlier decisions.

DOE to provide $37 million in funding for SMB climate and energy projects

The Department of Energy has announced that $37 million in funding will be provided to small businesses focused on advancing climate and energy research and advanced scientific instrumentation development projects. The Department’s Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs will oversee the administration of resources that will help to commercialize science and energy solutions, creating impact, opportunity and jobs. The first phase of funding will allow small businesses to demonstrate proof of concept for their proposed innovations with the possibility for advancement to the next phase to develop working prototypes. Letters of intent must be received by Monday, August 30.

Your small town could receive a revitalization grant from T-Mobile

Telecommunications giant T-mobile, in partnership with Main Street America and Smart Growth America, is now accepting proposals from civic and community leaders of small towns in need of funding for revitalization efforts. The company’s Hometown Grants program will award $25 million over the next five years to help up to 100 small towns and rural communities annually. These grants are aimed at helping towns with populations of 50,000 or less achieve greater community connections and engagement through the building or rebuilding of public spaces including town square pavilions, ball fields, historic buildings and libraries. Click here for everything you need to know about the application process.

SBA to host National Small Business Week Virtual Summit

The Small Business Administration has announced plans for its National Small Business Week Virtual Summit. Scheduled for September 13–15, this year’s online event will recognize the resilience of the entrepreneur community as well as focus on the renewal of the small business economy. The event brings industry experts, small business owners and entrepreneurs together for three days of educational webinars, networking chat rooms and important news about valuable resources. Click here for more information and to register for this free event.

New Yelp app filters serve up restaurants requiring vaccinations for patrons and staff

Yelp, the consumer review app, has added new filters for users seeking restaurants and other businesses requiring proof of COVID vaccinations for their patrons and staff. The update comes as the Delta variant poses new health and safety concerns. Users of the app can filter restaurant, nightlife and other related search results to those businesses that will only serve the vaccinated; another filter allows for searchers to select businesses that require their staff to be vaccinated. In each case, search results will feature banners that highlight the establishment’s COVID restrictions and requirements. Yelp has measures that safeguard businesses who promote these restrictions from facing backlash and being negatively “review bombed.” Find out more about Yelp’s efforts and its other enhanced tools for small businesses in this CO— feature.

Shopify launches ‘entrepreneurial hub’ with pop-up shops for startups and small businesses to grow and sell

E-commerce platform Shopify has opened an “entrepreneurial hub” in New York City, where small businesses and startups and can attend workshops and events, including free, 30-minute one-on-one sessions with a business expert for founders and their employees.

Small businesses can also sell via Shopify New York’s pop-up shops, where visitors purchase products from local merchants. The two-story, 8,000-square foot space also features business-growth tools, including a photography studio for taking product shots and a podcast studio. Read more here in Chain Store Age.

SBA is streamlining PPP loan forgiveness

The SBA has launched its own PPP loan forgiveness portal. It is intended to simplify the forgiveness process and allow some borrowers to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA portal. You can find that portal here. To qualify to use the portal, businesses must have borrowed $150,000 or less and, importantly, PPP lenders must opt in. Because not all lenders have opted in, businesses must first determine if theirs has. You can find a list of participating lenders here. If your PPP lender has not opted into the SBA direct forgiveness portal or you've borrowed more than $150,000, you will still need to apply for forgiveness through your lender.

Twitter's new e-commerce feature could benefit small business sales in the near future

Twitter announced the soft launch of a new e-commerce feature on the social media platform. Select companies will be able to test a new “Shop Module” function built into the top of their profiles which will link to products consumers will be able to purchase without leaving the Twitter app.

The businesses chosen for the launch span across several industries, including tech, gaming, lifestyle and more, allowing Twitter to determine which drives the most traffic. Although this is a limited pilot, small businesses can look forward to yet another way to advertise and sell their products through social media in the future.

Groupon’s new marketplace model is designed to help small businesses grow sales

Small businesses looking to attract new customers can take advantage of new and enhanced services from Groupon, the online deals site.

These include promotional campaigns that highlight individual small businesses; improved self-service features that let merchants access the platform easily and change their offers as needed, without the help of a Groupon sales reps; and a new advertising product that lets merchants choose the percentage discount they want to offer.

Hear more on how Groupon’s revamped marketplace model is designed to help small businesses succeed from the platform’s executives, as well as small businesses like Law Beauty Essentials and Moonlit Beauty in this CO— feature.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program extended through 2025

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), established in 1996 to encourage businesses to hire individuals with specific needs for employment assistance, has been extended through 2025. Among those the program aims to benefit are unemployed or disabled military veterans, residents in designated economically disadvantaged communities and those facing long-term unemployment, and for-profit and nonprofit companies with hiring practices that prioritize these groups can be eligible to claim tax credits valued at up to $9,600. The IRS website outlines program and employee eligibility requirements as well as detailed information on how to apply.

Government expands paid leave tax credits to support vaccination efforts

Many employers will now be able to claim tax credits for wages paid to employees who take time off to accompany or care for family members who get vaccinated. The decision, put forth by the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS, also includes comparable tax credits for the self-employed who face loss of wages in the process of helping loved ones through the vaccination process. The announcement comes months after introducing paid leave tax credits under the American Rescue Plan to mitigate the cost of employees taking personal vaccination-related leave. Get the facts on eligibility and how to claim your tax credits here.

SBA 504 loans can help you achieve your post-pandemic growth goals

Planning to expand your business to a new location soon? Small businesses can use a Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 loan to purchase an existing building, invest in equipment for their business, construct a new building or finance improvements to their existing facility. To qualify, your business must be a for-profit company that operates in the U.S., have a net worth of less than $15 million and fall within the SBA’s guidelines for small business. You must also have an average net income of less than $5,000,000 after federal taxes for the two years preceding the loan application. Learn how you can apply here.

Join TikTok's "Small Biz Block Party" Series

If your business still hasn't dipped its toes into the increasingly popular world of TikTok, now is a great time to do it: The social media giant recently debuted its Small Biz Block Party, a series of 20 free workshops designed to help entrepreneurs network, learn from each other and make the most out of TikTok for their business. The inaugural event, co-hosted by Main Street America, will be held virtually on August 5, 2021. The remaining "block parties" will be held in cities across America from August 12 through November 4. The series will close with two additional virtual events: one for veteran entrepreneurs (November 10) and one "open session" Finale Block Party on November 18.

Square introduces banking services for small businesses

Square, the financial services company and integrated mobile payment platform for merchants, has introduced Square Banking for small businesses. The new suite of cash flow management tools is a first step in the company’s mission to support small businesses with a full range of tools scaled to their specific needs. They include savings and checking accounts, with client-set amounts pulled in directly from sales transactions. The early buzz is that Square Banking hopes to provide more accessible banking and financial services to small businesses, working in tandem and integrating with their point-of-sale systems for a seamlessness that, until now, didn’t exist in this way.

New workaround in over a dozen states eases cap on state and local tax deductions for certain businesses

Pass-through businesses in more than a dozen states may now have a way to find some additional relief from the burden of heavy property and state income taxes. Pass-through businesses run, or “pass,” a portion of their revenue through their personal income returns, with a cap for federal deductions set at $10,000 by the state and local tax (SALT) write-off. For those in particularly high-tax states, the cap doesn’t represent enough of a savings. The new workaround, which experts warn is not a good tactic for everyone, would allow business owners to pay a state levy on the business which would cover them on the individual side of their state income tax returns. Read more about the growing list of states providing this potential benefit and how it could impact your business.

New SBA site dedicated to better certification experience for women-owned businesses

In order to be considered for its Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, the Small Business Administration requires applicants to be certified as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or as an Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). No longer accepting self-certifications, the SBA is currently in beta-testing with a new digital platform that will allow businesses to determine eligibility and apply for and manage their certifications in a more streamlined and user-friendly way. The new site features abundant resources to aid applicants including checklists of and respective links to all required documentation that may help these businesses acquire much-needed funding.

$127 million in DOE awards for projects that promote clean energy goals

The Department of Energy announced that small businesses in 26 states with projects that represent innovation and progress in achieving cleaner energy will receive awards totaling $127 million. These 110 grants support efforts in the areas of cybersecurity, renewable energy, carbon management, grid reliability and fusion energy and are administered as part of the DOE’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) programs. The funding is designed to support the Biden Administration's clean energy and net-zero carbon emission goals while promoting small business growth and the creation of jobs in science and technology. To learn more about the awardees and their projects as well as the DOE’s small business programs, click here.

QuickBooks introduces credit card reader for small businesses

Intuit has long been a leader in small business accounting software with its QuickBooks services, followed by QuickBooks Capital, a financial lending option, and QuickBooks Cash, a business bank account. Now the company is expanding into contactless payments with QuickBooks Card Reader, portable hardware that provides small businesses with a new way to take cashless payments in store or on the go with just a swipe or a tap, just the way most shoppers prefer it post-pandemic. The mobile payment device is interactive, allows for customized tipping options and accepts Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit and debit cards plus syncs up with other QuickBooks software to allow for quicker payments and easy financial management. Find out more about the new debut and its small business friendly features.

Spotlight on intellectual property at Invention-Con’s August 18-20 conference

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host Invention-Con 2021 from August 18-20, exclusively online. The event promises to be a great resource for inventors, entrepreneurs and small business owners who will hear from leaders in government and business on topics that span new idea-based creation, innovation and production. Workshops as well as presentations from notable speakers including Senseware’s Serene Almomen and recording artist Ansel Brown will focus on intellectual property and protecting one’s creative interests. Registration is currently open for this free event.

You could win $10,000. MasterCard launches Impact Awards program to help small businesses affected by COVID-19

In association with Bank of America, MasterCard is celebrating small businesses and their contributions to customers and communities — especially throughout the pandemic. The MasterCard Small Business Impact Awards is a program designed to reward four small businesses that match these qualifications with $10,000, and additional winners with a Mastercard Digital Doors Toolkit. To enter, applicants must explain how their business has made a positive impact on its customers, employees and community over the last year. At a virtual award ceremony in October 2021, a panel of small business experts will then choose one grand prize winner and three first prize winners in each of these categories: innovation, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and giving back.

New grant competition supports entrepreneurship among minority university and college students

To advance their mission of nurturing the entrepreneurship that will lead to future innovation and growth, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is now accepting proposals for pilot programs from undergraduates at minority colleges and universities. One program will be established at each type of minority-centered school including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges & Universities, Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions and Alaska Native Serving Institutions. Deadline to apply is 11:59 PM on August 16th. Register to attend a pre-application virtual information session on August 3.

Mark your calendars with these upcoming tax deadlines

The business of small business means staying on top of seemingly unwieldy tax forms and filing dates. Here are some of the key dates and forms that should be on your radar in the coming weeks:

  • July 30: Form 941, your quarterly reporting of federal income and payroll tax withholdings from employee paychecks.
  • July 31: Form 5500 for reporting the status of your company’s retirement savings plans, including condition, investments and participation, to the IRS and Department of Labor. There are different forms for businesses with fewer than 100 employees and those with 100+ employees.
  • August 10 and September 10: Employees whose compensation is based on gratuities of $20 or more are required to report those tip earnings from July, 2021 and August, 2021, respectively, to employers via Form 4070.
  • September 15: For those who filed an extension, this is the final deadline to submit your 2020 corporate tax returns.
  • September 15: Quarterly estimated tax payments due for sole proprietors, LLCs and independent contractors.

Google Meet’s new 60 minute time limit for groups of three or more

Google Meet, the live video meeting platform that is part of the company’s Workspace suite of business apps, has placed a new 60-minute cap on meetings involving three or more people. Meet became a popular option for businesses and families alike during the pandemic when, in April 2020, the company offered free unlimited access to Google users. Google announced end-dates for the free version but extended them through June 2021. Now, at the 55 minute mark, participants get a notification that their meeting is about to end. Learn more about the new restrictions and options to make the most of your meetings.

Pinterest adds tools designed for small businesses

The visual search engine, which saw searches related to supporting small businesses jump 350% at the start of the pandemic, is increasingly making its images shoppable.

This summer the platform is collaborating with American Express on a digital shop that promotes small businesses, the latest in a growing number of features on the site.

These range from Pinterest Shop guides, which promote small business shopping on the platform via Pins, visual boards and search, to the Community Rebuild program, which offers classes on branding and marketing strategy, one-on-one coaching and ad credits to small business owners who are persons of color, disabled or members of the LGBQT community. Learn more from Bill Watkins, head of global mid-market and small business sales for Pinterest in this CO— feature.

Tax credit program could put thousands back in your pocket now

If you’re one of the countless small businesses desperate to retain employees and exhaustively managing staffing deficits while still reeling from loss of business, you may be able to recoup a significant amount of money back on wages paid through the government's Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).

The program is open to businesses with fewer than 500 employees who can show single quarter gross receipts of 50% or less versus the same quarter in 2019 and the potential to receive up to $7,000 on wages paid per employee, per quarter, for 2020 and 2021. Applications are available through the IRS website. Read our full story on the ERTC.

State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) funding helps small businesses go global

For small businesses seeking support to expand beyond U.S. borders, the Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) could be a valuable resource, providing grant money for the purpose of covering costs associated with export development.

The program awards money to eligible state and territory governments which in turn pass the funding down to businesses that apply on the local government level. The assistance provided help to offset costs of initiatives such as learning the fundamentals of exporting, organized trade missions and translation of marketing and website content, among others.

DHS and DOJ launch Stopransomware.gov

A new alliance between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, in collaboration with other federal agencies, has been announced as the government steps up its efforts to combat increasing threats to cybersecurity.

Stopransomware.gov is a new online destination where all who are vulnerable, small businesses being among the most, can find useful tools and information to protect themselves and their organizations from ransomware attacks, all in one place.

These resources include security alerts, guidance on reporting attacks and simple steps that can be taken to mitigate risk. Read more about how stopransomware.gov is committed to equipping Americans with the best resources for safeguarding their information and technology networks.

OSHA updates COVID-19 protection guidance for the unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk

While in most cases U.S. businesses no longer have to take steps to protect employees who are fully vaccinated from dangers related to COVID, OSHA has updated its guidance for those not vaccinated or vulnerable due to certain medical conditions or disabilities.

Developed for workplaces outside of the healthcare setting (which is covered under mandatory OSHA standards for COVID), the guidance for health and safety measures includes granting time off for vaccinations, sustained sanitization efforts, continued physical distancing and proper mask wearing. Read about all of OSHA’s latest recommendations on the Department Of Labor’s website.

Turn your unused domain names into cash with GoDaddy's new ‘List for Sale’

If you are a GoDaddy customer, the domain registry and web hosting service has introduced a user-friendly way for owners of domains that are inactive or no longer needed to sell their names to interested buyers in a more simplified way than previously existed.

List For Sale is its new listing service that provides domain sellers access to over 120 domain registries where tens of millions of domain searches are conducted by interested buyers. The platform offers valuable resources to support sellers including a valuation tool that helps you set your price. While there is no fee charged for listing, GoDaddy takes a commission on sales. Click here for everything you need to know to get listed and properly set up for payment.

Seagrams 7 to fund 22 small business grants to “Keep the Dive Alive”

In 2017, Seagrams 7 anointed July 7 as National Dive Bar Day. In 2021, the day has taken on new meaning as the dive bar industry struggles to reopen establishments post-pandemic. To support these and other struggling small businesses, Seagrams 7 enlisted actress/comedian Iliza Shlesinger to appear in a series of Instagram and Facebook videos and will donate $7 to Main Street Alliance for every share up to $77,000 through July 24. In turn, Main Street Alliance is accepting applications through August 20 for 22 grants made possible by the campaign in the amount of $3,500 each. More about the campaign and application information is available on the Main Street Alliance website.

CO—'s Small Business News You Can Use is written by CO— contributors, led by Andrea Forstadt.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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