The strength of the country relies on its estimated 33.2 million small businesses, which comprise 99.9 percent of all American businesses. COVID threatened, and in some cases forced, the closure of many small enterprises and tens of thousands are still reeling from the aftermath of the full pandemic.

In an effort to offer some relief, the federal government created the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Program under the IRS that has already helped thousands of qualifying businesses receive up to $26,000 per employee. Unfortunately, not enough small business owners are aware of the program. Others don’t think they will qualify, leaving billions of dollars on the table that could help them recover and continue to move forward.

Companies such as ERC Helpdesk,, have been created to help small businesses determine their qualifications and navigate the ERC program. Now is the perfect time for business owners around the country to see if they make the cut.

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A small business can receive an ERC even if it received PPP. The program is flexible enough that most businesses will likely be eligible. The average claim is $150,000, but there is no cap on the amount.

“I was the owner of a marketing business that assisted dozens of small business owners so I witnessed firsthand the challenges and sweat equity involved in taking such a big risk,” said ERC Helpdesk chief marketing officer, Greg Ross-Smith. “Our founder was and remains a small business owner himself who was initially told his businesses would not qualify for an ERC and there was nobody he could find to make sense of the program. When he finally learned about the program details and what the actual qualifications are, not only did he apply and receive funds, he decided to create a way to assist other small business owners in taking advantage of the funding available for their businesses.”

Here are the basics to see if you qualify:

• Your business is based in the United States.

• You retained and paid W2 employees during 2020 and 2021.

• Your business was impacted by COVID restrictions in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Loss of revenue
  2. Supply chain disruptions
  3. Full or partial shutdown of your business

Now a growing industry, ERC companies are popping up all over so be wary about who you work with. Ideally, try to work with a company you know, or at least one that understands the needs and inner workings of a small business. Often, it helps to work with a smaller sized ERC business that’s accessible and that will work with your submission on a one-on-one basis. Bigger isn’t always better in this industry. Of course, partnering with a company that maintains a high approval rate for its clients is a critical point of measurement as many companies can waste your time and get your hopes up by simply submitting anything knowing the chances of success are slim. Finally, to the degree you can determine it, try to work with a company that will process your application as quickly as possible while focusing on reducing errors that can delay the process.

“So many small businesses are built organically with the participation, support and hard work of family and friends. As a result, we understand the investment of time, resources and relationships that go into every business we work with,” said Ross-Smith. “In the ERC business, integrity, trust and customer service rule and that’s what I’d urge all applicants to consider in navigating their eligibility for the program. Our only goal is to help them qualify and then maximize their efforts and amount of compensation they receive.”