It’s a hard time to be a small business owner. And with the U.S. economy dependent on them—a recent report indicated that small businesses account for 44 percent of economic activity—everyone is trying to figure out a way to help … with decidedly mixed results.
A maze of federal aid and private grant programs is available, each with a list of hoops to jump through and deadlines to meet. To help you sort through what’s out there and what’s right for your business, we’ve collected a round-up of resources available to small business owners, as well as an update on the status of the CARES Act.
Privately Funded Grants for Small Businesses
Facebook made $100M in cash grants and ad credits available to small businesses through its Boost Small Business Grants program. The first round of applications closed in early May. If you didn’t get your application in, check out the program’s website and sign up for emails to get updates. Facebook could announce a new round of funding, and you want to be ready if they do.
In addition to the grants, Facebook has rolled out new tools designed to help small business owners through this time. These include a custom digital gift card tool and a tool that allows you to create fundraisers for your business. They also created a hub with information on their response program, as well as links to other helpful resources.
Google is donating $340 million in ad credits to small- and medium-sized business customers. To be eligible for the credits, you must have an active account, have spent on Google ads in 10 out of the 12 months of 2019, and have spent in January and February of 2020.
There is no application process for this program. Starting in late May, Google will begin rolling out credits in phases to eligible customers. If you’re eligible, you will be notified and will see the ad credit applied to your Google Ads account. You can learn more about the program here.
Google has also partnered with a variety of other organizations to offer small business owners educational resources, network connections, offers and mentorship opportunities. You can learn more about that effort here.
Like Facebook, Google has created a hub with all of the information on their COVID-19 response. You can find it here.
Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund
Verizon is donating $7.5 million to small businesses nationwide. It has made the funds available through multiple rounds of grants. The first three rounds are now closed. You can learn more about eligibility and sign up to get notified of additional rounds of funding here.
The Red Backpack Fund for Female Entrepreneurs
Funded with a $5 million donation from Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, The Red Backpack Fund will make 1,000 cash grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. The funds are designed to help alleviate immediate needs and support long-term recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
Applications for the third round of funding will open on June 1, 2020. Additional rounds will open on July 6 and August 3. You can learn more here.
The GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund
Created by GoFundMe in partnership with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, GoDaddy and Bill.com, the Small Business Relief Fund will issue $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe. They have also created a GoFundMe campaign for small businesses that individuals can donate to. They have raised nearly $2.4 million to date and have issued thousands of matching grants.
You can learn more about the program and eligibility requirements here. Then start the application process by filling out this form.
Hello Alice Covid-19 Business For All Grants
Hello Alice is a digital platform created by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz that helps business owners by providing access to funding, networks and services. With the support of Verizon, Silicon Valley Bank, Ebay and others, Hello Alice is offering $10,000 emergency grants to small business owners impacted by the pandemic. You can learn more and apply here.
Supermaker Entrepreneurial Dream Project
Launched by entrepreneurs Jaime Schmidt and Chris Cantino, the Supermaker Entrepreneurial Dream Project is a grant and mentorship program for new businesses. Two winning companies will win grants of $50,000 each. The winning companies must demonstrate how they are keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive during the pandemic. In addition to the grants, 10 other companies will receive mentorship from Supermaker’s mentor network, including Mark Cuban, Rebecca Minkoff and others.
The organization defines “new” businesses as companies whose products were made publicly available in 2019 or later, or companies that have not yet launched. Applications are due by June 15, 2020. You can learn more and apply here.
Individual states, counties and cities are also making grants and funding available for local small businesses. There are too many for us to list here. We recommend checking with your local small businesses association to see what’s available. Grant Watch also offers an excellent up-to-date grant tracker.
In addition to grants and loans, many companies are making products and services cheaper or free for small business owners. Here are a few resources you may find useful.
Microsoft is making Office 365 available free for six months for small business owners. You can learn more here.
LinkedIn Free Professional Development Courses
LinkedIn has made all of their learning courses free. Here are the resources they recommend for small business owners.
Quickbooks Town Halls and Tools
Quickbooks is holding a series of town halls designed to connect small business owners with experts in a Q&A format. They have also put together a platform to help small businesses apply to the federal Paycheck Protection Program. You can learn more about both efforts here.
CARES Act Updates
The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27. It included about $377 billion in aid for small businesses, which are defined as employing 500 people or fewer. An additional round of funding was approved on April 27, and Congress is currently considering a third round. The funding is administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and is broken down into several different programs.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
The initial round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program was used up in just one week. On April 27 additional funds were approved, and the SBA began accepting applications from participating lenders. You can learn more about the program here and find the list of participating lenders here.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance program provided advances of up to $10,000 for small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue because of the pandemic. The loan advances would not have to be repaid.
As with the Paycheck Protection Program, funding for these loans quickly ran out. Additional funding was approved on April 27, and the SBA began accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis. As of May 14, 2020, the program was only accepting applications from U.S. agricultural businesses. You can learn more about the program here.
Express Bridge Loans
This program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. You can learn more here.
SBA Debt Relief
As part of its coronavirus debt relief efforts, the SBA will pay six months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all current 7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status, as well as new 7(a), 504, and Microloans disbursed prior to September 27, 2020. You can learn more here.
The COVID-19 pandemic will likely be a defining moment for many companies. At Esparza, we believe small businesses are the lifeblood the American economy. We hope this list helps you navigate the maze and find the assistance your business needs.