guest column

Houston experts: What business owners need to know about navigating government aid

Now is the time to analyze and manage costs and investments, which will be crucial to capitalize on as we head into an upswing in business. Photo by Hero Images

Although the world may be going back to normal and it feels like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, business owners across the country are seeing lasting negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their companies. Especially in the restaurant industry, local business owners are having to rely on government aid to make sure employees and rent are paid, keeping stress levels very high.

Our company, Cerboni, is a financial firm that works with clients to relieve the burden business owners face by taking things like back-office work, inventory management and more off their plate to give them the freedom to focus on their trade. To help alleviate some of this stress, we are taking an in-depth look at some of the options available to business owners working to navigate government aid applications, along with opportunities for future prosperity.

Don’t let financial opportunities fall through the cracks

While business owners are often pulled in many directions, it's important to make sure you are taking advantage of any help that is available to you. Currently, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, Employee Retention Credit and the Paycheck Protection Program are available to qualifying business owners. Taking the time to figure out which opportunities you should apply for and which ones are the best fit, will greatly benefit your company in the long run.

What to know about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund provides funding equal to pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location for eligible restaurants, bars and other qualifying businesses where onsite sales to the public make-up at least 33 percent of gross sales receipts. Recipients have two years to use these funds, and the money can be used for business expenses such as payroll, mortgage obligations, rent payments, maintenance expenses, construction of outdoor seating and more.

The most important thing to know about this fund is how to calculate the funding amount. For those operating prior to or on January 1, 2019, applicants will calculate the 2019 gross receipts minus 2020 gross receipts minus PPP loan amounts. Applicants that began operations partially through 2019 should average the 2019 monthly gross receipts and multiply by 12, subtract 2020 gross receipts and then subtract PPP loan amounts. Businesses that began operations between January 1, 2020 and March 10, 2021, or those who have not yet opened but have incurred eligible expenses as of March 11, 2021, should calculate the amount spent on eligible expenses between February 15, 2020 and March 11, 2021, subtract 2020 gross receipts, then subtract 2021 gross receipts (through March 11, 2021) and, lastly, subtract PPP loan amounts.

Utilizing Employee Retention Credit

The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for "qualified wages" paid to employers that were ordered to suspend operations fully or partially during 2020 or experienced a significant decline (below 50%) in gross receipts during the calendar quarter. The purpose of the Employee Retention Credit is to encourage employers to keep employees on payroll during the pandemic. Recipients can receive up to $5,000 for each full-time employee retained between March 13, 2020 and December 31, 2020 and up to $14,000 for each employee retained between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. Qualified wages depend on the size of the operation. If the employer averaged more than 100 employees in 2019, the wages are only paid for the time the employee is not providing services. If the employer has less than 100 employees, the wages are paid to any employee during any period of hardship due to the pandemic. Recipients of PPP are not eligible for Employee Retention Credit.

Future prosperity

The restaurant industry was greatly impacted by the pandemic, but if you survived, you now have a great opportunity ahead of you. People are starting to return to a sense of normalcy and want to get back to enjoying things like events, shopping, eating out with friends and family and more.

Now is the time to analyze and manage costs and investments, which will be crucial to capitalize on as we head into an upswing in business. Understanding all of these financial nuances can seem daunting, so Cerboni can assist with knowing how to make the right investments in order to increase sales and profitability – this could be through marketing and advertising, changing up the menu to minimize cost of goods sold or managing operating costs.

For those who want to grow their footprint, the market is hot, and it's the perfect time to expand your market presence through negotiation of better lease terms and lower interest rates. Use this time to strategize on how to not only cut costs, but how to increase sales, and how to ultimately grow.

------

Maria Degaine and Joshua Santana are co-founders of Houston-based Cerboni.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

Check out this curated list of innovation events in Houston for April. Photo via Getty Images

It's time to look at what's on the agenda for April for Houston innovators — from pitch competitions to networking events.

Here's a roundup of events not to miss this month. Mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.

April 4 — A.I. Digital and the Future of Energy

In the latest installment of UH Energy's "Critical Issues in Energy" Symposium Series, the speakers will take a deeper dive into the role of A.l. within the energy marketplace, specifically with what is being done with A.I. and what is capable of being done. In addition to this pivotal look at one crucial aspect of the energy transition, attendees will be afforded networking opportunities with speakers and distinguished guests, and food/refreshments will be provided.

The event is Tuesday, April 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the University of Houston. Click here to register.

April 5 — Creating & Sustaining Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Join us for a fireside chat discussing the growth of entrepreneurship & a panel on demystifying the patent process.

The event is Wednesday, April 5, from 9 to 11:30 am, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 5 — HAN Angel Academy

Learn angel investing best practices from Capital Factory co-founder and chairman, Gordon Daugherty in a half-day bootcamp format for accredited investors.

The event is Wednesday, April 5, from 11 am to 4 pm, at Rice University - Shell Auditorium. Click here to register.

April 11 — Future of Health Care

The Greater Houston Partnership's inaugural Future of Health Care event highlights one of the region's major industry sectors driven by world-class institutions and professional talent.

The event is Wednesday, April 11, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, at the Royal Sonesta. Click here to register.

April 11 — Idea to Impact: Navigating the Challenges to Commercializing University Discoveries

Amazing discoveries are made in university labs every day, yet most of them never develop into widely accessible commercial products. Why? And what can universities do to change that? As part of Rice University's "Betterment of the World" Scientia Lecture Series, join Rice Business on April 11 at 4 pm virtually or in person (Shell Auditorium, McNair Hall) to hear Yael Hochberg, Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Jones Graduate School of Business, as she discusses the challenges in commercializing university research discoveries.

The event is Wednesday, April 11, from 4 to 5 pm, at Rice University and online. Click here to register.

April 11 — Greentown Houston Climatetech Career Fair 2023

Greentown Labs and ALLY Energy welcomes all professionals, students, and soon-to-be graduates to join us for the Greentown Houston Career Fair, which focuses on connecting professionals directly with Greentown Houston’ network of founders, CEOs, and cutting-edge climatetech startups looking for bright and eager talent.

The event is Tuesday, April 11, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

April 15 — Earth Day Clothing Swap Party with Sustainable Fashion & Earth Month HTX

A clothing swap is a fun, alternative solution to thrift shopping or secondhand fashion that allows you to clean out the clothes you no longer wear and in return bring home new additions to your closet - all for free and hosted by Houston startup RESTATEMENT.

The event is Saturday, April 15, from noon to 5 pm, at Patterson Park. Click here to register.

April 17-18 — AI Powered Renewable Energy Workshop

AI Houston Institute of Rice University in partnership with Ion is getting together experts from academia and industry working on the application of artificial intelligence in solving some of the most complex challenges facing the Energy industry as it transitions into alternative sources of energy that are green and sustainable.

The event is Monday, April 17, to Tuesday, April 18, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 19 — Investor Studio Series: Dream Big Ventures x Ion x Mendoza Ventures

Underrepresented founders face a lot of barriers, including rarely seeing VC dollars. However, Dream Big Ventures and Mendoza Ventures are looking to change those statistics to help diverse founders succeed. Join Dream Big Ventures Founder and CEO Staci LaToison, and Mendoza Ventures Co-Founders Senofer Mendoza and Adrian Mendoza, as they discuss the growth of women and Latinas in Fintech, AI, and Cybersecurity in this fireside chat.

The event is Wednesday, April 19, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 19 — The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge Championships

Join Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and support Rice University student ventures at the H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) Championships on Wednesday, April 19. Five student finalists will pitch their ventures to compete for the chance to win a share of $100,000 in equity-free funding.

The event is Wednesday, April 19, from 5:30 to 9 pm, at Rice University. Click here to register.

April 20 — Female Founders and Funders

Calling all rockstar female founders and investors in the Houston area. Mark your calendars for this month's Female Founders and Funders meetup. Coffee and breakfast is provided and the event is free to attend.

The event is Thursday, April 20, from 9 to 10 am, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

Trending News