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How to Obtain the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Under the Second Round of Covid Relief

You might be surprised that you qualify, so don’t leave money on the table!



February 4, 2021 15 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For the average small-business owner, it’s hard enough to understand how to get a piece of the latest round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money, let alone how to access the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC or “Credit”).

In fact, under the CARES Act (the first round of relief signed into law in March of last year), employers were not allowed to obtain both a PPP loan and claim the Credit. Thus, most small-business owners gave up on even learning about or considering the ERTC.

However, under this second round of overall coronavirus aid, business owners are able to get aid from BOTH provisions. Yes, you can tap into the PPP and claim the ERTC!

Thus, the ERTC is a critical provision in the massive 5,500-plus-page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 for small-business owners to understand and possibly utilize.

Which companies qualify?

  • Any sole proprietor, limited liability company (LLC), S-Corporation or C-Corporation is eligible, if they meet the additional criteria to qualify.
  • Any company with less than 500 employees (Full-Time Equivalent employees, FTE) as of December 2020 may participate in the program and apply for the ERTC. (Previously, only business owners with less 100 employees could participate.)
  • In order to claim the Credit, a business must have experienced a decline in gross receipts by more than 20% in any quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Related: New Stimulus Bill Includes Second Round of PPP Loans for Small Business and Forgiveness Rule Changes Favorable to Borrowers

The following Diagram illustrates the five steps to compare and calculate if you qualify:

How much is the Credit?

  • The credit is 70% of Qualified Wages for the allowed amount, per quarter, paid between January 1, 2021 and before July 1, 2021.
  • Each employee’s allowable wage amount is $10,000 per quarter in 2021, excluding any owner and their family member’s payroll with combined ownership in the company of 50% or more (more on this below).
  • So, the maximum any employer may receive as a credit per un-related employee in 2021 is $14,000 ($7,000 per quarter). (This does not take into account coordinating this credit with PPP. More on that below.)
  • But also, don’t forget about qualified wages paid between March 13 and Dec 31, 2020! The credit is 50% of qualified wages paid during this period, but only up to $10,000 per employee of annual wages paid (more on this below, along with the rules regarding owners and their family members’ payroll amounts).
  • Thus, the maximum any employer may receive as a credit per employee in 2020 is $5,000. (More below on the possibility of going back and getting the credit for 2020.)

Example: XYZ Enterprises, LLC (taxed as an S-Corporation) plans to have two full-time employees in 2021 that will each be paid $9,180 ($18 an hour) during first and second quarter of 2021, including three part-time employees in the first quarter and five part-time employees in the second quarter that will each be paid $3,060 ($12 an hour) a quarter. The Corp will pay health-insurance premiums for the two full-time employees, pre-tax, of $500 per month, or $3,000 per quarter for both of them combined. Thus, total Qualifying Wages of the employees and the calculation for the ERTC is set forth below in Table 1 as follows:

* More below on how this amount works in conjunction with the PPP, and if an employer can go back to 2020.

What payroll is considered Qualifying Wages for the ERTC?

Qualifying Wages is a critical term to understand, in addition to what it includes when calculating the ERTC. It’s more than just gross pay. First, Qualifying Wages includes both full-time and part-time employees’ payroll amounts.

Next, you are allowed to add any qualified health plan expenses/premiums you paid on behalf of the employee to this figure. This generally includes both the portion of the health-insurance cost paid by the employer and the portion of the cost paid by the employee with pre-tax salary-reduction contributions.

However, the qualified health plan expenses do not include amounts that the employee paid for with after-tax contributions. More here at the IRS website on how to determine and calculate Qualifying Wages.

Can you the Owner get the Credit for your personal payroll or profit?

This is the golden question, isn’t it? Regrettably, the answer is somewhat in a gray area. All we know regarding this particular detail comes from the Newsroom and the FAQ section regarding the ERTC.

For sole proprietors, the answer is no. The IRS in FAQ #23 makes it clear that they are not going to allow the ERTC for sole proprietors under their interpretation of the CARES Act. They also clearly state that the FAQ section has not been updated under the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, enacted December 27, 2020. Most professionals agree that the new legislation doesn’t change the rule for sole proprietors.

However, FAQ #23 does not address corporations, or more specifically, S-Corporation owners. In fact, FAQ #59 states that S-Corporations are allowed to take the ERTC for their employees (assuming the business owner complies with all the other rules, including not claiming payroll for the ERTC that was covered with PPP money).

FAQ #59 further states that payroll for “related individuals” of the S-Corporation owners cannot be used for calculating the ERTC. However, it conspicuously does not state that the “owner” is considered a related individual.

So, when it comes to the action owners of S-Corporations holding 50% or more of the stock, the safe bet is to consider them a “related individual,” and thus the owner cannot receive the ERTC on their own payroll. This cautious interpretation would fall in line with other rules in the code regarding self-dealing or prohibited transactions (i.e. Section 1372 of the Internal Revenue Code requires that 2% or greater shareholders be treated as partners in a partnership for this purpose, making them self-employed individuals instead of employees).

Thus, for purposes of this article and the advice we are giving our clients, until we see definitive guidance and a stance from the IRC on the issue of payroll for owners of an S-Corporation owning 50% or more of the entity, we would not claim the ERTC on their wages.

But what we do know, according to IRS FAQ #59, any and all payroll for a “related individual” cannot be used in determining the allowable ERTC in 2020 or 2021. These individuals include any of the following with a relationship to an owner of the company who owns 50% or more in value of the outstanding stock:

  • A child or a descendant of a child;
  • A brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister;
  • The father or mother, or an ancestor of either;
  • A stepfather or stepmother;
  • A niece or nephew;
  • An aunt or uncle;
  • A son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

In summary, if you aren’t employing a third-party unrelated to you personally, it would be advisable not to try and claim the ERTC, even if you meet all of the other qualifications.

What happens if my company had a recovery later in 2020 or 2021?

Finally, be aware that if your company actually had a significant business recovery before the end of the 2020 or has one in 2021, your eligibility for the ERTC may end.

Under the new Covid law, a business owner is no longer allowed to take the ERTC in the quarter immediately following a quarter where their quarter gross receipts exceed 80% compared to the same calendar quarter the year before.

For example: If a business has a 2020 second quarter where revenue is down 33% compared to the same quarter in 2019, the business qualifies for the ERTC in first and second quarter of 2020 and would continue to qualify for the rest of the year. However, in fourth quarter, revenue in the business is up by 82% compared to the same quarter in 2019. At this point, the company no longer qualifies for the ERTC in fourth quarter 2020. In fact, the company only qualifies up to the point where sales increased above the 80% threshold and is limited to claiming the ERTC for qualified wages in first, second and third quarter 2020. See the following illustration Diagram 3.

Additionally, this same rule applies into the first and second quarter of 2021. Thus, if you have a dramatic upturn in sales (80% rule) in second quarter 2021 compared to second quarter 2020, then your eligibility for the ERTC would end with first quarter 2021.

How does the ERTC work with PPP?

The good news is (and it’s significan), under the new legislation, business owners are entitled to both the first and second round of PPP and the ERTC. However, PPP funds and ERTC cannot be used to cover the same payroll costs. But all is not lost; it just gets tricky.

If a business owner plans carefully and does good record keeping and accounting, they should be able to maximize the benefits of both PPP and ERTC, creating thousands of dollars in tax-free money!

First, let’s assume a business owner qualifies for the second round of PPP under the new 25%-reduction-in-sales rule.

Next, since the threshold to qualify for the ERTC is lower than that of the PPP (a 20% rule), it’s then obvious the business owner would thus qualify for both.

NOTE: Stated otherwise, if a business owner qualifies for PPP under the sales comparison test, then they automatically qualify for the ERTC. They also need to then “coordinate” the two benefits in taking advantage of them both to the greatest extent possible.

In order to exploit both benefits, it’s important the business owner take into account the following points and then a three-step strategy:

  • The application deadline for the latest round of PPP is March 31, 2021. (It might behoove a business owner to delay applying for PPP up until the deadline in order to maximize their ERTC benefit.)
  • Remember, 40% of PPP monies can be used for items other than payroll, such as mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to Covid-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020 and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations. (Thus, it’s critical to use no more than the 60% of PPP money for payroll since those payroll dollars can’t be used for the ERTC).
  • Next, PPP money must be spent on payroll and qualified expenses over 24 weeks from the day the disbursement is received. This is referred to as the ‘”Covered Period.” (A business owner will more than likely want to use every week of this period rather than spend the PPP money quickly, in order to get the most out of the ERTC.)
  • Finally, keep in mind that the ERTC is up to 70% of $10,000 of qualified wages paid to each employee in each of first and second quarter 2021 only — not in third or fourth quarter. (However, PPP money can be spent in third and fourth quarter because of the 24-week period.)


  • The business owner should only used 60% of their PPP funds for payroll (if possible) and the rest on qualified expenses.
  • Next, they should spread out the PPP money used for payroll as long as possible (within the 24-week period), and if they haven’t already applied for the PPP, maybe wait until the end of March, but not miss the application deadline.
  • Then, the business owner should max out the ERTC credit in the first and second quarter with payroll expenses not used with PPP money.
  • Here is an example to illustrate how this strategy could potentially be used.

    For example: Assume a business owner (not in the accommodation or food service industry) qualifies for both the second round of PPP and the ERTC. They receive $80,000 in PPP funds on February 1, 2021. Presumably, since they received $80,000 in PPP funds, their average monthly payroll would have been $32,000 ($80,000/2.5). Their 24-week Covered Period would also then be from February 1–July 19, 2021. Further, we want to assume that the business owner has the ability to spend 40% of their PPP money on other expenses than payroll. This would require that only $48,000 (of the $80,000) must be spent on payroll over the 24-week period. Thus, the business needs to spend approximately $8,000 a month on payroll out of the PPP money over that period. If it can meet this minimum, then the entire PPP loan should be forgiven. Finally, we need to know the number of employees and their expected payroll over the time period they are eligible for the ERTC and need to spend the PPP money. See the table of employees below (Table #2) and the diagram of allocating payroll during the time periods (Diagram #3).

    I think it’s important to recognize that placing any PPP monies received into a separate bank account and carefully tracking what expenses they are used for is absolutely critical to staying out of hot water in a potential audit.

    Also, one last nuance to keep in mind when coordinating the payroll expenses for PPP and the ERTC: Qualified Wages include payroll costs for group health-care benefits paid pre-tax by employees, such as the employee share of their health-care premium. Moreover, ERTC guidelines do not prohibit including in Qualified Wages expenses accelerated for group health benefits paid in first or second quarter. These are different rules compared to the PPP program and need to be taken into account when calculating which payroll costs for the ERTC and which ones are paid for with PPP money.

    Can a business owner go back and claim the ERTC for 2020 if they didn’t already do so?

    Yes. Assuming a business owner meets the 20%-reduction-in-sales rule for any quarter in 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2020, the business can claim the ERTC for 2020 and the first two quarters in 2021.

    However, the ERTC is worth different amounts for 2020 and the first two quarters of 2021. For wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021, the ERTC can be applied to 50% of qualifying wages up to $10,000. This means a maximum of $5,000 per employee could be credited back to your company if it qualifies.

    How do I receive this credit?

    Let me first start by stating what you don’t do to get this credit:

    • You don’t apply through your bank.
    • It has nothing to do with your PPP application process.
    • You don’t apply through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    • You don’t even send the IRS a specific application for the ERTC (unless requesting an advance).

    The ERTC is a refundable tax credit that is typically claimed when eligible employers report their total qualified wages for purposes of the ERTC for each calendar quarter on their federal employment tax returns (Form 941: Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return).

    However, employers that want to reduce their payroll deposits in anticipation of receiving the credit, or want to receive a payment in advance from the IRS, may submit a Form 7200. This means potentially having the ability to get the tax credit back early in the form of a check from the IRS.

    The IRS has a dedicated web page, “How to claim the Employee Retention Credit FAQs,” explaining how and when to file certain forms. Nonetheless, it’s advisable you speak with your tax advisor or payroll company to make sure you coordinate the application and payments, especially if you also plan on utilizing PPP funds.

    Presumably, if a business is going to go back and claim the ERTC for 2020, it would need to first determine which payroll was paid for with PPP funds and then calculate which qualifying wages would be eligible.

    Next, the business owner would go back and amend the appropriate quarterly Form 941s for 2020 and claim the credit. However, the IRS has not given specific guidance on this procedure.

    Related: The IRS Increases 2021 Contribution Limits to SEP IRAs and Solo 401(k)s for Business Owners

    In summary, the ERTC is an opportunity for business owners with W-2 wages for employees to obtain some significant help from the government. A business owner should carefully determine if they qualify and seek out professional guidance from their tax return preparer and/or payroll company to make sure the proper forms are filed. Be careful to not leave any money on the table under this new legislation if you can help it. Get involved in the process. You are the captain of your ship!

    Mark J. Kohler is a CPA, Attorney, co-host of the Podcast MainStreet Business and author of the The Tax and Legal Playbook- Game Changing Solutions For Your Small Business Questions, 2nd Edition, and The Business Owner’s Guide to Financial Freedom: What Wall Street isn’t Telling You. He is also a partner at the law firm Kyler Kohler Ostermiller & Sorensen, LLP and the accounting firm K&E CPAs, LLP.




    7 Quick Ways to Make Money Investing $1,000

    If you’re shrewd, you can turn one thousand bucks into even more money. Here’s how.



    If you’re shrewd, you can turn one thousand bucks into even more money. Here’s how.

    Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

    If you’re sitting on at least $1,000 and it’s scratching an itch in your pocket, consider investing it rather than spending it on something frivolous. But the question that then beckons us is: Can you really make money quickly investing with just $1,000?

    The answer to that is a resounding, “Yes.”

    While there are plenty of ways you can make money fast by doing odd jobs or generating it through things like affiliate marketing or email marketing, actually making money by investing with just $1,000 might present more challenges, and frankly, more risks. That is, of course, unless you know what you’re doing.

    However, all risks aside, even if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you still may be able to conjure up $1,000 to put towards an investment if you’re creative.

    Before you dive in, there are some mindset principles that you need to adhere to. Moving beyond the scarcity mentality is crucial. Too many of us live our lives with the notion that there’s never enough of things to go around — that we don’t have enough time, money, connections or opportunities to grow and live life at a higher level.

    That’s just a belief system. Think and you shall become. If you think you can’t get rich or even make a sizable amount of money by investing it into lucrative short-term investment vehicles, then it’s much more of a mindset issue than anything else. You don’t need to invest a lot of money with any of the following strategies.

    Sure, having more money to invest would be ideal. But it’s not necessary. As long as you can identify the right strategy that works for you, all you need to do is scale. It’s similar to building an offer online, identifying the right conversion rate through optimization, then scaling that out. If you know you can invest a dollar and make two dollars, you’ll continue to invest a dollar.

    Start small. Try different methods. Track and analyze your results. Don’t get so caught up on how you’re going to get wildly rich overnight. That won’t happen. But if you can leverage one of the following methods to make money by investing small, short bursts of capital, then all you have to do is scale — plain and simple. You don’t have to overthink it.

    Related: 13 Easy Investing Apps and Websites for Millennials

    How to invest $1,000 to make money fast

    If you have $1,000 to invest, you can make money a variety of ways. But there are some methods that trump others. The play here is speed. We’re not talking about long-term, buy-hold strategies. Those are terrific if you’re looking to invest your capital over at least a two- to five-year period. We’re talking about ways you can make money fast.

    Even when it comes to markets that might take time to move or have longer cycles, investments can often turn into realized profits and quick gains by leveraging the right strategies. What’s the right strategy? Sure, long-term works. Real estate and other time-intensive strategies will eventually get you there.

    Raghee Horner of Simpler Futures says that “long-term interest rates are the next big trade,” while Jim Cramer of Mad Money says that “there are tons of people who are late to trends by nature and adopt a trend after it’s no longer in fashion.” By jumping in and out of long-term investments like that, you’re far more likely to lose your shirt than if you time your short-term plays just right.

    It’s not so much about trying to catch the latest trend. It’s not about becoming a webinar guru like Jason Fladlien or Liz Benny — or even building out sales funnels or optimizing your conversions. Investing your money is more about paying careful attention to indicators that can really move the needle in the short-term as opposed to the longer term. It’s also about leveraging and hedging your investments the right way without putting too much risk on the line.

    That doesn’t mean that you don’t need a long-term strategy. You definitely do. But if you’re looking to create some momentum and generate some capital quickly, in the near-term, then the following investment strategies might help you do just that.

    1. Play the stock market.

    Day trading is not for the faint of heart. It takes grit and determination. It takes understanding the different market forces at play. This isn’t something intended for amateurs. But, if learned and learned well, it is a way where you can quickly — within the span of hours — make a significant amount of money with a relatively small investment.

    There are also ways to hedge your bets when it comes to playing the stock market. Whether you play the general market or you trade penny stocks, ensure that you set stop-loss limits to cut any potential for significant depreciations. Now, if you’re an advanced trader, you likely understand that market makers often move stocks to play into either our fear of failure or our greed. And they’ll often push a stock down to a certain price to enhance that fear and play right into their pockets.

    When it comes to penny stocks, this is further exaggerated. So you have to understand what you’re doing and be able to analyze the market forces and make significant gains. Pay attention to moving averages. Often, when stocks break through 200-day moving averages, there’s potential for either large upside or big downside.

    Related: What’s a Cause of Stock Market Crashes? Too Much Testosterone, Science Says.

    2. Invest in a money-making course.

    Investing in yourself is one of the best possible investments you can make. While you might not be able to pinpoint an actualized return on investment, there’s no money that’s better spent. Invest in yourself. Invest in your education. Learn. Adapt. Grow. Discover what you’re passionate about.

    There are loads of money-making courses on the internet. The hard part is choosing the right one. From ebooks to social media marketing, search engine optimization and beyond, the possibilities are endless. While many money-making gurus might pop up on social media, not all courses are created alike. Spend time doing your due diligence and research to choose the one that’s right for you.

    Related: Mark Cuban’s 3 ‘Smart Money Moves Everyone Should Make’

    3. Trade commodities.

    Trading commodities like gold and silver present a rare opportunity, especially when they’re trading at the lower end of their five-year range. Metrics like that give a strong indication on where commodities might be heading. Carolyn Boroden of Fibonacci Queen says, “I have long-term support and timing in the silver markets because silver is a solid hedge on inflation. Plus, commodities like silver are tangible assets that people can hold onto.”

    The fundamentals of economics drives the price of commodities. As supply dips, demand increases and prices rise. Any disruption to a supply chain has a severe impact on prices. For example, a health scare to livestock can significantly alter prices as scarcity reins free. However, livestock and meat are just one form of commodities.

    Metals, energy and agriculture are other types of commodities. To invest, you can use an exchange like the London Metal Exchange or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, as well as many others. Often, investing in commodities means investing in futures contracts. Effectively, that’s a pre-arranged agreement to buy a specific quantity at a specific price in the future. These are leveraged contracts, providing both big upside and a potential for large downside, so exercise caution.

    Related: What Starbucks Teaches About Marketing Commodity Products

    4. Trade cryptocurrencies.

    Cryptocurrencies are on the rise. While trading them might seem risky, if you hedge your bets here as well, you could limit some fallout from a poorly-timed trade. There are plenty of platforms for trading cryptocurrencies as well. But before you dive in, educate yourself. Find courses on platforms like Udemy, Kajabi or Teachable. And learn the intricacies of trading things like Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and others.

    While there are over 3,000 cryptocurrencies in existence, only a handful really matter today. Find an exchange, research the trading patterns, look for breakouts of long-term moving averages and get busy trading. You can use exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken or, along with many others, to make the actual trades.

    Related: 6 Cryptocurrencies You Should Know About (and None of Them Are Bitcoin)

    5. Use peer-to-peer lending.

    Peer-to-peer lending is a hot investment vehicle these days. While you might not get rich investing in a peer-to-peer lending network, you could definitely make a bit of coin. Which lending platform do you use? Today, there are many to choose from, but the most popular ones include Lending Club, Peer Form and Prosper.

    How does this work? Peer-to-peer lending platforms allow you to give small bursts of capital to businesses or individuals while collecting an interest rate on the return. You get more money than you would if you placed it in a savings account, plus your risk is limited because the algorithms are doing much of the work for you.

    Once you identify the offer, you can dig in and do some research — then, you can either take the deal or not. You’ll have your risk evaluated based on a proprietary algorithm that includes employment and credit history, and you’ll be able to make the decision to invest based on a variety of well-thought-out data.

    Related: Why Peer-to-Peer Lending Could Be a Good Investment Choice

    6. Trade options.

    When it comes to options, Tom Sosnoff at Tastyworks says, “Trade small and trade often.” What type should you trade? There are loads of vehicles, such as FOREX and stocks. The best way to make money by investing when it comes to options is to jump in at around 15 days before corporate earnings are released. What type should you buy? Money calls.

    The optimal time to sell those money calls is the day before the company releases its earnings. There’s just so much excitement and anticipation around earnings that it typically drives up the price, giving you a consistent winner. But don’t hold through the earnings. That’s a gamble you don’t want to take if you’re not a seasoned investor, says John Carter from Simpler Trading.

    Related: 2 Strategies for Making Money Day Trading With a Bit Less Risk

    7. Flip real estate contracts.

    Making money with real estate might seem like a long-term prospect, but it’s not. There are ways you can take as little as $500 to $1,000 and invest it in flipping real estate contracts to make money fast. How? Use a system like Kent Clothier’s REWW to first understand how the market works. It’ll then provide you with the data and tools to identify vacant homes, distressed sellers and cash buyers.

    While most people think that real estate is won by flipping traditional homes and doing the renovations yourself, the fastest money you can make in real estate involves flipping the actual contract itself. It’s arbitrage. Identify the motivated sellers and cash buyers, bring them together and effectively broker the deal. It might seem odd on the first go, but once you get the hang of it, you can become a mini-mogul in the real estate industry by simply scaling out this one single strategy. It works, and it’s touted by some of the world’s most successful real estate investors.



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    Let Go of Assumptions and Reset Your Brand Mindset

    Many small businesses make the mistake of trying to please everyone. You can’t, so stop trying.



    Many small businesses make the mistake of trying to please everyone. You can’t, so stop trying.

    Franchise Your Business

    Schedule a FREE one-on-one session with one of our Franchise Advisors today and we’ll help you start building your franchise organization.

    May 13, 2021 4 min read

    Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

    The following is an excerpt from Sean and Thora Dowdell’s Brand Renegages: Our Fearless Path From Startup to Global Brand, out May 25 on Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order it now via Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop. Find out more about Sean and Thora at

    Small-business owners make several common misguided assumptions about branding, including:

    • Small businesses do not have brand recognition.
    • My business is too small to be a brand.
    • There are so many competitors in our industry that striving for individuality is pointless.
    • Having the lowest price is the only thing that matters to my customers.

    Do you recognize any of these assumptions in your own mindset? If so, your thought process may be a bit misguided. It took several years in business for us to start to recognize these limiting mindsets. We didn’t realize that we could truly stand out as a national brand from other tattoo companies.

    Related: To Build a Powerful Brand, Begin on the Inside and Move Out

    We started out small, but eventually realized that we could become a recognizable brand that people sought out based on how they related to us and not simply because we were the closest or cheapest. We knew that we had created something different within our industry when we realized that most of our clients were women.

    We made a conscious choice when we opened Club Tattoo to disassociate ourselves from the stereotypical image of tattoo and piercing parlors as dark, dingy and dirty. We didn’t put up old, grubby and outdated art on the walls, like most of our competitors at the time. We created a brightly lit interior with a roomy lobby and put the art designs into neat books that were laid out nicely onto our lobby tables.

    We were an upscale “studio” rather than a “parlor,” and our clients could see we were different from the moment they walked in the door. Do you feel that your company could benefit from branding itself differently? Before you dive into figuring out what your brand is, ask yourself what you want out of your brand. You should know the answers to the following questions so you can create a solid strategy that will help you achieve your desired outcome.

    So what’s your goal? Ideally you might want all these things, but what is your priority? Pick one, start with a goal, and build a strategy to accomplish it. Do you want to:

    • Make more money?
    • Stand out from your competitors?
    • Be more consistent?
    • Be more effective?
    • Be better appreciated by your clients?
    • Make a difference in the world?

    Related: Treat Your Brand Like a Relationship: 8 Ways to Reignite the Romance

    Many small businesses make the mistake of trying to please everyone. You can’t, so stop trying. We had to come to this realization quite early when some clients would come in and expect us to price match with our competitors down the street. When we refused, we had angry customers on our hands. Nobody wants that, but we had to decide who our clients were going to be.

    We chose to be an upscale experience, and we made it clear to our clients that we were not going to be the least expensive choice in the market. But we knew who our target audience was, and we had a fairly good idea of how to get in front of them. In the end, we helped our entire industry change their approach to business as a result.

    • Small businesses do not have brand recognition.
    • My business is too small to be a brand.
    • There are so many competitors in our industry that striving for individuality is pointless.
    • Having the lowest price is the only thing that matters to my customers.



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    How a Big Idea and a Big Heart Can Come Together for Big Success

    Inside the launch of a company that aims to make dental care better and safer for all.



    Inside the launch of a company that aims to make dental care better and safer for all.

    May 12, 2021 4 min read

    Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

    Tara Tan is a New Zealand-based founder and CEO of Grin Natural, an all-natural oral care brand that’s bringing innovation to the beauty category while inspiring more sustainable choices to consumers around the world. Tara studied at the University of Auckland and graduated with a Master of Commerce, majoring in finance.

    Her own life journey as an Asian mother sparked Tara’s commitment to bringing much-needed change to the industry due to concern about the oral care products her daughter will be exposed to and the belief that all parents deserve access to more environmentally friendly solutions.

    In a recent interview on Medium, the entrepreneur described two factors that inspired her to start Grin Natural Products…

    Notice an un-tapped niche

    “My husband and I were anticipating our first baby. We began hunting for natural, safe products for us to consume and feel good about using. We noticed that we could not find a toothpaste that was effective yet toxic-free such as artificial flavors, sweeteners, parabens and sulfates—so we set out to make one.”

    Be aware of every demo

    “When we started, our goal was to create the best toothpaste that not only we would be proud to use, but our next generation, would love, too! As a mum, you find yourself not only thinking about your own child, but you also want to look after everyone as well as the planet. We’re all humans and part of this one ecosystem; we need to support each other to live happier lives together.”
    Related: Take Care of Your Teeth With This Amazon’s Choice Oral Hygiene Set

    Immediate accolades & plenty of partnerships

    Grin Natural products appeared live on the Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager within just weeks of launching into the US Markets. They were additionally, awarded, via half a million votes, top spot in the NZ Best In Beauty contest in the best natural beauty product, best innovation, and best sustainability champion categories.

    Over the past five years, Tara has successfully managed the Grin brand’s growth, launching into eight international markets and building social good partnerships with some of the world’s most respectable organizations including UNICEF, PADI, UN Environment Programme and Baby2Baby, (a Los Angeles-based, national non-profit organization that provides children living in poverty with diapers and clothing).
    Related: 7 Electric Toothbrushes for Healthier-Looking Teeth

    “We are so grateful to Grin Natural for their commitment to providing thousands of oral care products for children living in poverty who COVID-19 has impacted,” said Jen Armstrong, COO of Baby2Baby. “After months of lost income from the pandemic, the families in our program are struggling to provide the most essentials like toothbrushes and toothpaste to their children, and it is donations like this that allow families to reallocate their limited funds to other critical needs, food or even rent.”

    Grin Natural’s responding grin was, well, never more natural…

    “With an increased dependency on local charities to deliver on their mission and a rise in displaced low-income families due to the pandemic. We believe that low-income families should not have to sacrifice their health because of their socio-economic status,” said Tara. “Therefore, what better time to start this joint partnership than in February, which aligns with our mission to curve oral health literacy and to join Baby2Baby in their mission to provide families in need with oral care essentials.”

    The timing of the commitment between Grin Natural products and Baby2Baby arrives during the celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February. The NCDHM promotes the benefits of good oral health and dental care hygiene habits among children. Grin Natural plans to deliver $50,000 worth of products to Baby2Baby over the next 6 months and they require everyone’s support to share a grin. Through said campaign every purchase made on allows them to give oral-care products to the families living in poverty supported through Baby2Baby.

    While Grin Natural continues to make big waves across eight international markets with endorsements from dentists and healthcare practitioners, Tara is committed to creating all-natural oral care for happy, healthy families with all-natural toothpaste eco-friendly oral care essentials for kids and adults. She is also committed to giving back as part of the organization’s mission, bringing more families products irrespective of their social-economic status.
    Related: How This Dental Care Center Leveraged AI Robots & Technology To Combat the Pandemic




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