Trainual Logo Purple

Need money? These small business grants are ready to help.

April 20, 2022

The NBA Playoffs kicked off this past weekend. Who’s setting up the office bracket?

In this week's edition:

  • Making the gig economy work for your scaling business.
  • How going green can help bring in the green.
  • Small business grants you can apply for today.
  • Why service industries are leading the economic comeback.


The gig economy can benefit your bottom line.

Graphic: One woman and one man sit on a couch together, working on laptops.

Remind me — what’s the gig economy?
Chances are you’ve seen a few headlines promoting the “rise of the gig economy.” AKA, a system where people work independently and take part-time work or projects rather than (or in addition to) full-time work. And it’s booming.

What’s with all the hype?
The most recent data shows that the U.S. has reached a grand total of 59M gig workers (and counting). The Statistica Research Department even predicts that by 2027, the U.S. will have more “giggers'' than non-gig workers.

Why? Simply put, gig workers report being healthier and happier working on their own terms. After all, independent work brings freedom and flexibility that just doesn’t come with regular, full-time work.

How about me? Can I reel in some gig economy benefits?
Good news: small businesses stand to reap some of the biggest benefits from the gig economy. Why? You can hire an independent worker from any country, with any level of expertise, for any amount of time. And just in the U.S. alone, over one-third of workers participate in the gig economy. Talk about a huge candidate pool.

Plus, when you hire gig workers:

  • You cut full-time hiring and retention costs.
  • Give full-time workers more bandwidth to get their jobs done.
  • Receive the exact expertise you need right when you need it.

Okay, I’m sold. How can I get in on hiring gig talent?
When it comes to hiring gig workers, just remember: you don’t want to share all of your secret-sauce with independent workers. After all, they’re not one of your devoted full-timers.

So before you hire your next gig worker, you’ll want to implement a useful training process just for them that shares just the right amount of info. We’ve created a helpful guideline for what documentation SMBs should share with freelancers, contractors, and consultants:

  • Company info. Give gig workers insight into your business — your story, vision, mission, and so on. You provide them with company material to reference, so they give you quality work in return.

👉 Learn what else to share with gig workers.


Sustainability tips for making and saving green

Graphic: A woman sitting at a table, surrounded by thought bubbles, which depict a recycling symbol, a plant, a bicycle, and a money bag.

We’re talking cash money, right?
Yes! Since it’s almost Earth Day, we want to give you two big reasons your business should give sustainability a shot: to make green and to save green.

How does that work?
“Going green” and “being sustainable” have become popular catchphrases in the last few years. Especially when it comes to how companies do business.

Recently, Starbucks made headlines when they announced plans to phase out their disposable cups. By 2025, the coffee-and-frap titan plans to have customers bring in their own mugs or use one of Starbucks’s own reusable versions.

A big reason so many businesses are embracing sustainability: it’s a popular cause amongst consumers. In fact, 70% of millennials said they would be willing to pay more for products and services from eco-friendly businesses. Plus, green practices can help businesses save money in the long run, from lower energy bills to tax credits.

Okay, so how do I start?
Here are a few easy tips:

  • Reduce your energy consumption. By reducing the energy your business uses, you can lower your energy bill costs. Just switching to LED light bulbs alone can save you up to $1,000 a year.
  • Offer eco-friendly transportation options. Providing eco-friendly benefits is a good way to help retain and attract employees. If you can, try investing in public transit passes for your employees, or organize a carpool program.
  • Switch to the cloud. Public data centers (buildings dedicated to housing computer and storage systems) are so energy efficient that switching your business software to the cloud could lower your energy consumption by 87%.

👉 See all five tips.


Which small business grants are best for me?

What’s a small business grant?
Here’s the long definition: a small business grant is a limited investment from government agencies, nonprofits, or major corporations that provides funding for startups and smaller companies.

TL;DR: it’s money. And it’s a great choice for business leaders who might not be ready for the capital funding process.

What’s the catch?
There are tons of grants to choose from, but your business’s eligibility to apply depends on a lot of different factors, like your size, industry, or demographics.

Plus, these applications can be longgg. Meaning, you’re going to be putting in a lot of time and effort for a grant that you may not end up getting, especially if it’s competitive. Alongside the research into each grant, you’ll need to prepare the application and an essay or video about who you are, why you’re applying for the grant, and what you plan to do with the funds.

But the payout is pretty sweet: you won’t have to repay most grants (they’re not loans) or promise equity in exchange for the funding.

Which grants should I look at?
Again, the grants you want to look into will be super dependent on your unique business situation. Look at search engines like and GrantWatch. Here are some to get you started:

👉 See the full list.


SMBs are back, baby

That’s great, but what does it all mean?
2020 was pretty bleak. No need to rehash the-pandemic-that-shall-not-be-named. But the truth is, it forced a lot of companies and businesses across the country to shut down their offices, close their storefronts, and board up their warehouses. Good news, though: a recent analysis by a Washington think tank says that business isn’t just back  — it’s thriving. Their research shows that “by the third quarter 2021, the number of physical locations had bounced up by 7% above what it was two years prior, pre-COVID.”

That was fast.
Yeah. This particular rebound was faster than the post-2008 crash. And for a couple of good reasons:

  1. The U.S. government’s pandemic business stimulus package helped keep some companies afloat.
  2. The service industry helped lead the charge. While retail and restaurants were largely affected by COVID-19 restrictions, it seems that information, professional, and social services picked up their slack. In fact, the jump in physical locations was a direct result of the boom in service industries — including SMBs.

Must be all gravy from here on out!
Not so fast. While it’s definitely good news, this positive trend may be impacted by supply chain snags, shifts to remote work models, and labor supply. The best advice is to use this hectic time for some introspection — focus on what’s working for your business and lean into that.


This week's highlight reel

  • Stop… audit time. No, not your taxes. (Woosah.) We’re talking about your social media plan. It’s good practice to review it regularly and assess what’s working — and what’s not (i.e. ax the Will Smith memes). Here’s how to do it.
  • It’s all coming back to me now. Remember when you semi-lucidly bought that llama waffle maker on Amazon at 3am? Yeah, us either. Good thing for Amazon’s return policy. But what exactly happens to all those regrets returns? The solutions aren’t always sustainable and eco-friendly, but Amazon’s making moves to make sure they will be.
  • It was 99 cents.” While all the goods and services around us continue to climb in cost and price (oh, hi inflation), AriZona’s managed to keep the price of their iced tea at an unbelievable 99 cents thanks to a very stubborn co-founder. He’s not the hero we deserve, but...
  • Speaking of AriZona iced tea… Might want to grab a few to wash down your “Shaq-A-Roni.” Shaq single-handedly scored a new multi-million dollar endorsement with Papa John’s guaranteeing that part of the proceeds of his self-named pie will go to charitable causes — and keep his face on the box.


Here’s what else is on The Manual’s mind

Were you a busy bee this week? We got you — here's the hottest SMB news:

Organize the chaos
of your small business