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:: What You Need to Know About Employee Retention Credits

With the tax filing deadline approaching, make sure your company is getting all the assistance available from government programs. For instance, that means checking that you've fully utilized the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), the refundable tax credit designed to make it easier for businesses to keep employees on the payroll.

The credit is getting extended as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion relief package just signed by President Biden. Originally scheduled to end on June 30, ERC will continue through year end, giving business owners access to as much as $33,000 per employee in incentives.

How the credit works, depending on the time frame
First half of 2021:

Eligible employers can claim a refundable credit against the employer share of Social Security tax equal to 70 percent of a full-time employee's qualified wages paid--including certain health plan expenses--from January 1 through June 30, 2021. The maximum ERC amount available is $7,000 per employee per quarter or $14,000 for eligible wages paid in the first half of 2021.

:: Why Are Not Struggling Small Businesses Taking More PPP?

Millions of businesses across the country are struggling, yet many are not taking the latest version of government aid: a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. This is not happening because businesses are better off than they were last year; it is because the PPP still contains structural blockers that are stopping businesses from obtaining the aid they urgently need.

A recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank found that 30% of U.S. small businesses — totaling 9 million — fear they will not make it through 2021 without more government assistance. And yet, many are not applying for aid. The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that seven weeks after round two of PPP began, nearly half the funds remain, and only 31% of 2020 PPP loans have been forgiven to date.

:: Big Business Practices for Small Business Brands

Every business was considered small at some point in its history. Some go big, but some stay small and do quite well. The size of a business in common measurements (revenue, employees, locations) is less relevant than the size of your customer base and the corresponding loyalty of customers.

:: Small Businesses Administration extends deferment for all COVID disaster loans until 2022

The Small Business Administration has extended deferment periods for all of l its disaster loans made either in 2020 or 2021, the agency announced on Monday.

The extended deferment includes the SBAs Economic Injury Disaster Loan – or EIDL – program, which many businesses that did not qualify for Paycheck Protection Program loans or other funding used to bridge the losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All SBA disaster loans made in 2020 will have the first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note, the agency said. Disaster loans made in 2021 will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.

:: How just a few days cost some small businesses thousands on their PPP forgivable loans

For some of the smallest businesses that applied for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, waiting just a few days or weeks would’ve gotten them thousands of dollars more.

But they had no way of knowing what was coming.

The Biden administration in late February announced a slew of changes to the loan program, which offered forgivable loans in return for keeping employees on a company’s payroll, after it reopened in January with $284 billion in funding. Those amendments included an adjusted loan formula that would mean larger amounts for sole proprietors as well as expanded eligibility for small business owners with certain criminal records, were delinquent on student loan debt or were non-citizens.

:: Number of small businesses in distress triple pre-Covid level

This month almost 135,000 businesses are showing strain, as the impact of a year of Covid-19 restrictions reverberates.Businesses in the services and retail sectors accounted for almost three-fifths of those showing distress, said Mazars. Sectors allowed to reopen were faring better, with construction and manufacturing businesses making up 7.9 per cent and 6.7 per cent of those in distress respectively.

:: 12 Resources and Communities Entrepreneurs Should Follow for Industry Insight and Tips

Staying tuned in to the pulse of your industry is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Public groups, online forums and the like are among the most valuable resources for gathering and contributing industry information. But if someone is looking for in-depth insight into their business niche, locating the right groups where this discussion occurs is the first step. T

:: Content Curation

With content marketing, small businesses use content in various formats to build stronger relationships with their customers, capture attention, improve engagement, and improve brand recognition. For small businesses, content marketing is a particularly cost effective marketing alternative that does not require a sizeable budget to run. In addition, content marketing delivers some of the highest overall Return on Investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar spent. And it is an integral part of a solid marketing strategy. This is because it helps to increase leads, generate more leads, get higher SEO rankings, and drive more traffic to your site.

:: Will COVID Stimulus Help or Hurt Small Business?

The data on business startups and closing show a mixed bag across the United States. Some states have seen an increase in new business applications over the past year (February to February) and some states have shown a decline. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are among the weakest regions, with Virginia showing a 3.5% decline in year-over-year applications.

Business closings are harder to track month to month because small business operators do not always file documents when they shutter their doors, and it is hard to distinguish between permanent and temporary closings. Closings do show up eventually in tax filings and articles of incorporation.

:: Google Is Scrapping Cookies This Year, And Other Small Business Tech News

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Google plans to scrap third-party cookies by 2022.

Google announced this past week that it plans to stop the use of tracking cookies on Chrome by next year and— instead— will replace cookies with a profiling system

2 —Recruiting startup SeekOut raised $65M to take on LinkedIn and other talent acquisition companies.

3 —Small business owners adopted new software in 2020 and increased tech budgets in 2021.

:: Selective Survey Finds Majority Of Small Businesses Lack Cyber Insurance Coverage

A survey of small businesses conducted by Appalachian State University in coordination with Selective found that cybersecurity and technology issues were growing concerns for 44% of survey respondents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, only 20% of survey respondents have cyber insurance coverage.

The findings highlight an awareness gap among small businesses about the risks they face from cybercrime. Twenty-eight percent of data breaches impact small businesses, and phishing attacks account for over 30% of breaches, making them the biggest cyber threat for small organizations.1 Cyber coverage from Selective can help small businesses manage and mitigate risks with comprehensive coverage options and cyber threat education.

:: An Entrepreneurs Quick Guide to Invoice Financing for Small Businesses

Invoice financing is a type of business funding wherein the business sells its outstanding invoices or account receivables (A/R) to financing companies to get an immediate cash flow boost. The financing company takes over the invoices, and sometimes be in charge of collecting customer payments (as in invoice factoring).

Invoice financing is a popular financing option for businesses that have to wait 30,60, or 90 days to get their clients payments.

:: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Small Business Funding

Specific PPP provisions of the new law include:

Appropriates an additional $7.25 billion to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the PPP program

Expands PPP eligibility to include:

~ Additional tax-exempt nonprofits, such as 501(c)(5) labor and agricultural organizations and community locations of larger nonprofits, whose lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15 percent of its activities
~ Internet publishing organizations assigned a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code of 519130 and engaged in the collection and distribution of local or regional and national news and information
~ Adds COBRA premium assistance as an allowable payroll cost under the PPP program.

:: With Shopify, Small Businesses Strike Back at Amazon

In a world in which e-commerce has become a necessity for nearly every retailer, it can seem they have only two options: list their goods on marketplaces run by giant companies, or sell to consumers directly, hoping they will make more on each transaction despite fewer sales. In other words, either join a dominant marketplace like eBay , Walmart or Amazon —which by itself represents 38% of U.S. online sales, according to Digital Commerce 360—or hope they can find customers through advertising and word of mouth.

For many small- and medium-size sellers, a third option has emerged, embodied by the rising star of e-commerce, Shopify . This approach gives merchants access to cloud-based third-party services such as payments and fulfillment, but lets them maintain more control of their branding and customer relationships than the biggest marketplaces offer. Shoppers might not even know they’re buying something from a Shopify-powered retailer, and that’s the point.

In addition to making goods available on sellers’ own sites, these software companies—which also include BigCommerce and Magento—can perform the laborious task of listing merchandise on the giants marketplaces. By becoming hubs for managing sales through multiple channels, including social-media platforms, they represent real competition for Amazon and its ilk, potentially giving merchants more leverage when dealing with those entrenched giants.

:: How Smart Phones Have Changed the World

With the ongoing move of smart phones towards near-ubiquity, much of society has come to take these do-all devices for granted. In overcoming the novelty of smart phones, many of us have lost our one-time sense of awe at this technology, and have ceased marveling at the effect it has had on the world around us. However, it is undeniable that smart phones have exerted a huge and multi-faceted impact on society, and continue to do so to this day.

How Smart Phones Have Changed the World

:: How Covid-19 Is Transforming the Business World, According to Scott Galloway

The pandemic is accelerating existing trends.

Covid-19 has initiated some trends and altered the direction of others, but its most enduring impact will be as an accelerant. Take any trend--social, business, or personal--and fast-forward 10 years. Even if your company isn't living in the year 2030 yet, the pandemic has spurred changes in consumer behavior and markets. This is clear in the rapid increase in online shopping, in the shift toward remote delivery of health care, and in the spectacular increase in valuation among the biggest tech firms.

The more disruptive the crisis, the greater the opportunities--and the risks.

:: Why Student Debt Is Crippling Entrepreneurship

After the pandemic knocked the wind out of our economy, recovery plans focused mainly on saving existing small businesses rather than breathing life into new ones. Yet entrepreneurship is critical to emerging from the Covid-induced recession. Startups drive almost all net new-job creation. They contribute disproportionately to innovation, breaking new ground while also spurring midsize and large companies to follow suit. And perhaps most important in the current climate, startups are well-positioned to respond to drastic changes in consumer and business behavior, recognizing and acting on opportunities born of adversity.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, student debt reduces the amount of cash avail­able for startups and affects their credit score, making business loans tough to secure. It also renders more daunting the prospect of failure, which increases risk aversion.

:: Small Business Development Center breaks down how raising minimum wage may affect small businesses

Minimum wage is a complex issue for small businesses, says the Small Business Development Center in Binghamton.

The SBDC adds that, typically, small businesses have a close relationship with their employees and if they could pay them more originally, they would.

They add that they believe some business owners may have to pick up the slack in order to keep costs low.

:: Three Learnings Small Businesses Should Take From 2020 Into 2021

The United States has seen an increase in new businesses formed this year. According to the United State Census Bureau, in week 50, there were over 86,000 new business applications nationwide — representing a 38% increase over filings during the same week in 2019. The challenges small businesses have experienced in 2020 have led to some core lessons that those in the business community need to apply — whether they own an established small business or a newly formed one.

:: How Your Small Business Can Take Down Goliath

The accelerated churn rate of the S&P 500 indicates that at least half of todays top U.S. companies will get replaced by someone new over the next decade. That is a mind-boggling market value of $13.5 trillion up for grabs. And the craziest part is who replaces the old market leaders: It is often companies that, just a few years before, were considered scrappy little startups.

To unseat a champion, a smaller company has to play by a completely different set of rules.

1. Change the basis of competition.
2. Exploit taboos.
3. Optimize for power.
4. Dramatic simplification.

:: A business owner who spent nearly $46 million on Facebook advertising says he has been booted from the platform without explanation

A business owner who spent nearly $46 million over the years on Facebook ads said he got booted from the platform without warning.

Jordan Nabigon, the CEO of the Ottawa, Ontario, content-curation site Shared, said Facebook deleted his companys main Facebook page without warning in October, and without providing an explanation. He shared a Medium post detailing his experience, which has received more than 400 claps from readers.

Nabigon spent $45,870,181 on Facebook advertising between 2006 and 2020 for Shared and his other company Freebies, according to expense reports reviewed by Business Insider. Shared employees three people full-time and 12 contract writers, Nabigon said.

Facebook increased its use of artificial intelligence to oversee advertising and other content during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Nabigon is among hundreds of business owners who said they suffered from Facebook's crackdown on ad policies.

:: Why Small Business Owners Need to Reconnect With Their Mission

Pivoting has become one of those hot topics in mainstream business media. When an economic crisis arises, countless think pieces are written about how to pivot your business to respond to the external environment. But pivoting is a huge gamble, requiring deep resources and the ability to fail with minimal consequences (hence why the term is often associated with venture-backed startups). And, one must ask oneself if there’s even a solid reason to pivot.

As a small business owner, while you might feel pressure to look anywhere and everywhere to increase your top line, resist the urge to pivot. Instead, focus on your mission.  

Define your mission
In the college admissions space, disruption is something we are used to. While high-profile recruiting scandals and a renewed focus on racial inequities have dominated headlines recently, a larger cultural shift was quietly occurring.

:: 5 Hiring Hacks for Small Businesses That Need to Stretch Their Budgets

Finding and keeping the best talent has never been easy. It became the top concern for HR professionals this past year, with more than two-thirds reporting struggles with their recruitment and retention efforts. While the reasons for those struggles run the gamut, they often relate to attracting qualified candidates (49%), retaining star employees (49%) and issues with the talent-culture fit (42%).

For small and midsize businesses (SMBs), any difficulties with finding talented hires end up wasting precious resources. Worse yet, the cost of a bad hire is equal to 30% of the hires first-year salary – without factoring in the potential losses in revenue and time associated with onboarding the wrong person for a job.

:: How To Bring Employees Back To Your Small Business

The Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented financial ripple effect in nearly every industry but hit the small businesses that define America the hardest. Throughout the first six months of the pandemic, more than 60 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. That’s 23 million more than the 37 million who filed claims during the 18-month Great Recession.

By now, many small-business owners who made the difficult decision to shrink or temporarily pause are rebuilding. As they have already learned, though, rebuilding your business is not as easy as flipping a switch and watching your business rebound to its pre-Covid-19 state. As a small-business owner, your plan to rebuild should focus on rehiring employees who can fulfill your immediate needs while simultaneously paving the groundwork for growth in the new norm.

:: 7 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Build Relationships and Grow Your Business

For small businesses,traditional marketing can be expensive and difficult to maintain. Inbound marketing can level the playing field and give even the smallest business a chance to stand out and grow.

Why use inbound marketing?

1. It is cost effective
2. It helps build customers trust.
3. It increases brand awareness and boosts your online presence.
4. It can improve your marketing decision making
5. You can craft customer-focused content.
6. Inbound marketing provides two-way communication.
7. It helps bring in organic traffic to your website

:: Small business ideas: 5 steps on how to go digital with your business

Arguably the most critical aspect of digital transformation, digital payments ensure that small merchants or kiranas can continue to accept or send money and preserve cash flow in an increasingly contactless world.

:: 7 Strategies for Running a Successful Small Business

1. Organize your business documents
2. Have a scalable technology plan ready
3. Plan to spend money to earn money
4. Prepare to outsource tasks
5. Create a blueprint for business continuity
6. Develop a strategy for balancing work and life
7. Build your team

:: Three Learnings Small Businesses Should Take From 2020 Into 2021

1. Have an adaptable business model
2. Diversify supply chain operations
3. Create an omnichannel customer experience

:: The True Failure Rate of Small Businesses

Have you heard that 90 percent of new businesses fail? Or that 50 percent of new businesses fail? Stick around in the entrepreneurial community long enough and you’ll likely hear a wide spectrum of claims, mostly falling between these two extremes.

But what is the true failure rate of small businesses? And should it influence your decisions as an entrepreneur?

What we know about the failure rate of small businesses

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported by Fundera, approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30 percent of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. And by the end of the decade, only 30 percent of businesses will remain — a 70 percent failure rate.

:: Nine Resolutions To Start Your Small Business Year Off Strong

1. Be clear in your direction.
2. Know who your customer is.
3. Focus on the channels that matter.
4. Only talk about what matters.
5. Remember what makes you special.
6. Find your niche.
7. Learn something new.
8. Plan well to save time.
9. Engage with your customers more.

:: How to Dispose of Old Cell Phones; Protect Your Data and Privacy

Whether your cell phone has a broken screen, is no longer the latest technology, or you are simply itching for the latest cell phone model, it is important that you take appropriate care in disposing of your old cell phone.

Retain and Protect Your Data
Cell phones are a treasure trove of information; think of the panic that strikes each time you mistakenly misplace your cell phone. The information contained in our cell phones is meaningful and it is important that you backup any data on the phone that you wish to retain. The data you backup would include: any music, photos, messages etc...  If you are moving to a new cell phone you can often transfer the data you wish to retain to the new cell device.

Protect Your Personal Information
Cell phones often contain sensitive personal data, including passwords, bank information, payment methods, messages, contacts, videos, account numbers and much more. After transferring the data to a new device, information is still retained on your original cell phone.  Providing this type of sensitive information to strangers could put you at risk for identity theft, other other types of fraud, or simply leave you very uncomfortable.

How to Dispose of Old Cell Phones; Protect Your Data and Privacy

:: How to Stop Robocalls on Cell Phones

There is little more frustrating than annoying and unsolicitied phone calls to your cell phone. In many cases these calls are also illegal. How do you stop and prevent these unsolicited phone calls and robocalls to your cell phone?

There are a wide array of tools and options that you can deploy to diminish the number of robocalls you receive.

Register Do Not Call Registry
Cell phones can be registered in the FTCs Do Not Call Registry. You can also  call 1-888-382-1222 from any phone to add it to the do not call registry.  The Do Not Call list takes you off the for-profit business call lists, but it isn't immediate. Telemarketers update their listings only periodically, so it can take up to 31 days to see results.

3rd Party Applications
There are a whole host of third party applications that strive to end robocalls and telemarketing calls. You can download applications like NoMoreRobo, RoboKiller or Spam Block.

Block Specific Phone Numbers
If you are receiving a large number of unsolicited phone calls from the same number you can block that specific cell phone number on your phone.

How to Stop Robocalls on Cell Phones

:: Small Business Struggle While New Businesses Surge: A Paradox?

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that nearly 300 companies that had received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program had filed for bankruptcy. The very next day, the Journal highlighted Americans using the Covid-19 pandemic to take their first steps on the entrepreneurial journey.

Existing small businesses continue to struggle. New entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities. That is what the data appears to be saying about the state of small business and entrepreneurship amidst the third Covid-19 wave.

Small Businesses Suffering, See Rough Road Ahead

In early November, Goldman Sachs surveyed nearly 900 small businesses. They found that four in 10 had laid off employees or cut compensation. If further government relief were not forthcoming, another 38% said they would need to do the same. Half of small business owners had stopped paying themselves.

:: How Long Do Cell Phone Batteries Last

The length of time that a cell phone battery lasts depends on a variety of things. Battery life can be influenced by the type of the cell phone, the type battery, the age of the battery, the applications being used on the phone, even the temperature where the phone is stored and used can impact battery life.

How Long Do Cell Phone Batteries Last?

:: IRS plans a 50% ramp-up in small-biz audits next year

The Internal Revenue Service is planning to ramp up audits of smaller businesses and their investors by about 50 percent next year, following years of persistently low examination rates, an agency official said Tuesday.

The result could be a surge in audits of companies ranging from mom-and-pop retail stores and technology startups to investment funds that have historically faced only infrequent checks thanks to the time and effort required at the IRS.

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