Financial training for small businesses is being offered free by the Mid-Region Council of Governments, with two registration dates in March, and limited registration.

The financial training will take the form of a 90-minute virtual class once a week for six weeks, with monthly drop-in sessions where business owners can get answers to specific questions. That’s according to Payton Showalter, a regional planner for MRCOG, who, along with communications manager Augusta Meyers, explained the program to The Independent.

One thing MRCOG has encountered from many business owners is that they don’t have their business finances in the kind of shape needed to apply for coronavirus relief, Meyers said. The training is intended to help any small business get a better handle on its finances, in order to plan for growth as the economy opens back up, Meyers said.

Funding comes from a grant from the Economic Development Association, Showalter said.

“What’s needed for recovery?” Meyers said. “Smaller businesses need a lifeline right now” to get that “basic core stuff in place.” She estimated a cost in the thousands if a business were to hire that kind of financial expertise.

The name of the course should be “becoming a small business owner, even if you happen to be one,” Meyers joked. She said small business owners often “wear all the hats” and may not have time to take a deep dive into things like reconciling accounts, financial reports, and gross receipts taxes.

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Two identical introductory sessions will provide an overview of bookkeeping, presenter Julianna Silva said in a video on MRCOG’s website.

According to the MRCOG website, the introductory sessions will help businesses access funding like grants and loans; learn how to use bookkeeping software; and includes a Business Bookkeeping Toolkit™, with vocabulary terms and information about state taxes.

Silva is the owner of Silva Strategies, and a graduate of Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico.

“Keeping track of finances is key to stability and growth,” Silva said. “They need to be able to produce a really clean set of numbers so decision makers can help get that funding out to the businesses that need it the most.”

She was referring to some grants and loans for coronavirus relief to businesses who have suffered losses during the pandemic.

Meyers said accessing that funding hasn’t been that easy, and that businesses did not expect to need their financial documents to be “at the ready to move forward,” but that is what may be required for grants and loans.

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Classes will be live in a Zoom training, and will be on Monday afternoons, Showalter said. After the introductory session, each session will then deep dive into one topic at a time. Participants can work on their own business finances in the Zoom training, Silva said. Break out rooms will be available “so we can work one-on-one in a confidential setting.”

“I feel really passionate as a small business owner myself, that we really should know our numbers,” Silva said.

The training is offered at no cost to business owners in Bernalillo, Torrance, southern Santa Fe, Valencia and Sandoval counties, but spots are limited. The first introductory session is March 8 from 2 to 4 p.m., while the second is March 15 at the same time.

For more information and to register for the program, visit mrcog-nm.gov/543/Covid-19-Economic-Recovery.