The Weekly Deep Dive

December 23rd, 2021                                                                    Issue #95

As a micro-business owner, getting the word out about your business can be challenging. While larger companies have the resources to advertise frequently and on a large scale, smaller businesses need to focus their resources on other things like paying employees or purchasing tools and merchandise. 

Still, many people, especially in tight-knit communities like our own, would prefer to purchase from small businesses rather than chain stores and big corporations. Consumers just need to know what small businesses in their area are providing the products and services that they need. That’s where advertising tailored specifically to micro and small businesses comes in. 

Did you know that 46% of searches on google are looking for local businesses? Therefore, creating and verifying local listings is obviously an essential part of getting the word out about your business. Using a google business profile is one of the best ways to ensure that your business will be the first result when people search for “restaurant near me” “tailor near me,” and so on. Also make sure your business has a presence on local listing sites too, consistent information across the web will help you pop up in more searches, and also helps create a positive customer experience. 

Everyone loves to get free stuff, so why not start a customer loyalty program? This incentivizes customers to keep coming back. You decide what incentive you’ll provide customers, how often, and how to keep track of the program. Customers will love the rewards, and will appreciate the commitment you show to your customer base. 

Local online and print news publications are also a great way to get some exposure. Using display advertising, a type of online advertising that shows ads directly on local news sites and other sites on the web. If you have a logo to use in your ads that customers will recognize, this is also really helpful for branding and making sure that people in the community recognize your business! You can also run ads in local print newspapers, or have your business listed in the appropriate section. 

Local advertising helps you to connect with local customers and develop a loyal customer base. For micro-businesses, this is an essential part of success. It also helps to strengthen our communities and increase ties between community members, which is invaluable.

Grants and Opportunities


In response to COVID-19, The Vermont Community Action Partnership and The Micro Business Development Program have come together to establish the E.M.B.R.A.C.E. (Economic Micro Business Recovery Assistance for the COVID-19 Epidemic) direct grant program to support the smallest Vermont micro-businesses owned by an individual with a "household" income at or under 80% of state median "household" income. The grants will be in the amount of $5,000 and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying micro-businesses, defined as having five employees or less including the owner.

We are currently accepting applications for those existing businesses who have NOT received EMBRACE Grant funds in the past.

Please visit our website for more information and to apply.

How It Works

  1. Program staff helps you develop a plan to save up to $1,000 over a two-year period.
  2. The program matches every dollar you save (up to $1,000) with an additional dollar.

    This means that if you:
    Save the allowed maximum of $1,000    +
    The program gives you a match of $1,000 =
    You'll have $2,000 saved to help you achieve your goal.

  3. You attend classes to help you learn how to better manage your finances.
  4. You can access your matched funds after you've successfully saved for at least 12 months and have a written plan showing how you'll spend the money to reach your goal.


How To Apply

Contact your local Community Action Agency.

Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) was created to help renters dealing with financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For eligible households, the program offers rental and utility assistance to help Vermonters avoid eviction or loss of utility service. ERAP was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021.

Who is eligible for VERAP?

  • Must be obligated to pay rent on a residential dwelling in Vermont. 
  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • You’re able to demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. 
  • The household has an income at or below 80% of area median income (AMI) Vermont Income Limits.

What are the benefits?

  • Rent  
  • Back rent (arrears) to April 1, 2020 
  • Utility bills, this includes electric and gas, fuel oil, wood and pellets  

What documentation is needed?

  • 2020 W-2s or Income Tax Form (e.g. 1040).
  • Current pay stubs (last 2 months)
  • Lease or rental agreement or letter of attestation from landlord
  • Eviction notice (If applicable)
  • Unemployment Compensation Benefits letter (if applicable)
  • Documentation for other income sources (Social Security or Disability, Child Support, Alimony, Pension as applicable)
  • Legal Name of your landlord
For more information please click here :
Mileage Smart Program
Capstone's MileageSmart program helps you pay for your next car, which means you'll cut your transportation costs and stretch your monthly budget. Not only can you get up to $5,000 towards the purchase price, but you'll also be investing in a high-efficiency vehicle that will save you money for years to come. Click the link below to learn more about this fantastic opportunity. 

 "Without MileageSmart, we would not have been able to afford a newer car with better gas mileage which will help us cut down our costs. My husband has been driving for Lyft, so this is exactly what we needed right now!"  --Rachel Lohia of Richmond, new owner of a 2017 Kia Niro.

My Future VT

Need training or looking to start a new career? My Future VT is a free, statewide resource to find career advice, training, and support. Anyone thinking about next career steps should start here. 
Educational Opportunities

Critical Questions & Information Needed to Do Proper Business Planning

You have decided to start a business and fulfill your entrepreneurial spirit and dream of working for yourself. Starting a business is a tough decision and needs proper planning.

Believe it or not, there are several ways to methodically ask yourself the proper questions to determine if you are ready and what you need to do.

Join this hands-on webinar session, led by SCORE Mentor John Tile, which will cover:

  • The basics of a business plan and will provide a few samples
  • A step-by-step process to develop the key information for your business plan
  • What you will need in order to do a simple business plan for yourself and a more detailed business plan if you need a bank loan

Upon completion of this webinar, you will have the key information that you will be able to use with your SCORE mentor in follow-up sessions to develop your formal business plan. 

  • DATE & TIME: December 28, 2021, 1:00pm EST 
  • FEE: Free
Click Here to Register
Micro Business Spotlight
Sarah Letteney 

Sarah Letteney (she/her) is an artist living and working in Burlington, Vermont. She has published illustrations with The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal, and exhibited at The Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vermont. Her minimal lines and limited palette turn complex emotions and experiences into light (sometimes funny!) drawings that help us all feel more heard, and less alone. The ways we celebrate, grieve, change, and explore our relationships and surroundings are frequent themes in her work. You can reach Sarah at to chat about illustrations projects or collaborations, and see more of her work at, or follow @smallsuture on Instagram to follow along!

Want to Be Featured in The Micro Business Spotlight?

All Micro Business Development Program businesses are eligible for this free advertising opportunity, as long as you have an open and operating business with photos and a working web link.

Please Email Kate Harrison: for more information.

The Final Word

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."

– Robert F. Kennedy
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