United States Environmental Protection Agency Plaque On National EPA Building

Everything You Need To Know About the EPA SBIR Program

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program requires a deep knowledge of the federal government’s funding processes. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program financially supports marketable ideas that benefit the environment and people. The EPA SBIR includes topics such as Air Quality, Clean and Safe Water, Risk Assessment, Safer Chemicals, Homeland Security, and Sustainable Materials Management.

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The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program awards small businesses of all types the resources they need to create a solution to all manner of issues facing society. Nowhere is that more pressing than in environmental concerns. 

Tasked with addressing those problems is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a department in the federal government that works to protect the country from environmentally borne health risks through research and development. 

What Does EPA SBIR Stand For?

“EPA” refers to the Environmental Protection Agency, a department in the federal government that awards funds through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The EPA is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the SBIR program, giving small businesses the financial boost necessary to get countless ideas off the ground.

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What is the EPA SBIR Mission?

When the EPA launched in 1970 under President Richard Nixon, pollution had already been out of control for decades. There were reports that 400 New Yorkers succumbed to pollution in 1963, while a California oil spill in 1969 decimated the local bird population. Widespread environmental concerns culminated later that same year when a Cleveland stretch of the Cuyahoga River burst into flames due to the deadly combination of an oil slick and the sparks of a passing train. 

That disaster served as the springboard for the EPA’s ultimate mission: To protect the environment and, by extension, human health through policies, research, and development. 

And that’s where the EPA SBIR’s mission comes into play. This federal program is essential to providing small businesses with the financial means to transform their environmentally minded idea from research to reality. 

Every federal agency with a research and development (R&D) budget of more than $100 million is required by law to initiate an SBIR program. 

The SBIR program provides one way to award R&D funding to small businesses directly for the EPA. The goal of the EPA’s SBIR Program is to support the commercialization of innovative technologies that help support the EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. 

As is the case of all federal agencies, the EPA’s SBIR program is split into phases. So, first, let’s look at EPA SBIR Phase I and Phase II details.

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The initial phase of the EPA’s SBIR program requires small businesses to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of proposed R&D efforts. 

  • How Much Funding Does EPA Award for Phase I?

The EPA calls on small businesses to apply for its SBIR Phase I, awarding up to $100,000. Each awardee must demonstrate proof of concept in several environmentally-minded areas, such as clean and safe water, air quality, sustainable materials management, risk assessment, safer chemicals, and even homeland security. 

  • How Long is the EPA’s SBIR Phase I?

Small businesses awarded through the EPA SBIR Phase I program have six months to complete concept development. Subsequent funding in Phase II is based on the results of Phase I.

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The second phase of the EPA’s SBIR program continues all of the efforts that started in Phase I. Phase II funding is also based on the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II.

  • How Much Funding Does EPA Award for Phase II?

The EPA awards up to $400,000 to each small business that completes the requirements of EPA SBIR Phase II. There’s also a commercialization option of up to $100,000 to further develop the technology for the marketplace.

  • How Long is the EPA’s SBIR Phase II?

The EPA’s SBIR Phase II award is good for two years of R&D work. At that point, the technology is taken to market—there is no Phase III in the EPA’s SBIR program.

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How Do I Apply for an EPA SBIR Award?

To apply for an SBIR award from the EPA, you need to start with the basics. That means developing a ground-breaking, innovative research idea that can be commercialized. From there, you need to learn about eligibility, your proposal requirements, and more.

Follow the federal government’s roadmap for applicants for a step-by-step guide through this SBIR application process.

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What are the EPA Solicitation Topics/Broad Focus Areas?

The EPA SBIR program is segmented into six broad solicitation topics, each one covering a dire need to protect the environment and, by extension, protect the health and safety of citizens. Here’s a list of solicitation topics, along with areas of concern that have received funding in the past:

  • Clean and Safe Water: Retrofit technologies to improve the operation of stormwater management infrastructure; technologies to process environmental samples of microplastics; modular decentralized non-potable water reuse for urban applications.
  • Air Quality: Air monitoring technology for air toxics; technologies to reduce exposure to radon in buildings; air monitoring technology for methane from oil and gas storage tanks.
  • Homeland Security: Air treatment methods to reduce the risk of transmitting viruses and bacteria in enclosed or semi-enclosed environments.
  • Sustainable Materials Management: Innovative technologies that will improve the U.S. recycling system; low impact construction materials and technologies to reduce embodied carbon in buildings; innovative technologies that help consumers prevent food waste in the acquisition, preparation, and storage of food.
  • Safer Chemicals: Microphysiological systems for predictive toxicology; post application pesticide drift predictor; PCB-free color technologies.
  • Risk Assessment: Software tools and machine-learning applications for systematic review in science.

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Do I need an External Commercial Review or an EPA Internal Technical/Relevancy Review?

Yes! Generally speaking, proposals require both an External Commercial Review and an EPA Internal Technical/Relevancy Review to net an award. The EPA utilizes a mix of internal and external reviewers to ensure funding is delivered to the most worthy proposals—this process includes reviews for both technical and commercial potential.

Each proposal is judged by peer reviewers, who measure the value of each submission via three sets of criteria:

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What are the Commercial Criteria for EPA SBIR?

Your proposal for the EPA’s SBIR program is measured against commercial criteria, ensuring that the technical innovation will perform in the marketplace. This criteria includes:

  • Market Opportunity:
    Does the technology address a significant market opportunity?
  • Company/Team:
    Does the proposing company have the essential elements, including expertise and experience, that would lead to successful commercialization
  • Commercialization Approach:
    Does the proposal present a convincing commercialization approach/business model that can successfully take the technology to market?

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What are the Technical Criteria for EPA SBIR?

But, hold on! Before delving into commercialization, the peer reviewers will gauge your proposal on a set of Technical criteria. This section examines the following questions:

  • Innovation:
    Does the proposed technology present an innovation that solves the environmental issue stated in the topic?
  • Technical Approach:
    Does the proposal demonstrate a sound approach to proving the technical feasibility of the concept and how to assess success?
  • Technical Challenges:
    Does the proposal address technical challenges, such as cost, competition, competitive advantage, and a lifecycle approach to solving the problem?

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What are the Relevancy Criteria for EPA SBIR?

And finally, the Relevancy Criteria measures the potential impact of the proposal and how relevant it is to the topic at hand. Within this criteria, the submission is judged upon:

  • Its potential in meeting the EPA’s priorities.
  • Its ability to advance sustainability while presenting environmental, economic, and societal benefits.
  • Its likelihood to be widely used, have broad application, and positively impact large population segments.

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What are the Required Registrations for the EPA SBIR?

The registration process for all SBIR awards can be arduous—which is why it’s essential to start early and take it seriously. It’s a process that can take anywhere from six to eight weeks and must be completed before submitting your application. The required registrations include:

Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS)

All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS

number, applicants can begin both Systems for Award Management (SAM) and Small Business Association (SBA) Company Registry. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the proposal.

Employee Identification Number (EIN)

Both an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and a DUNS number are essential to moving forward in the SBIR funding process. The EIN base for the organization is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Identification (ID) number; for individuals, it is their social security number, both of which are nine-digit numbers.

SBA Company Registry

All applicants must register at the SBA Company Registry before application submission and attach proof of registration to their application.

System for Award Management (SAM)

Applicants must complete and maintain an active SAM registration, which requires an annual renewal. SAM registration includes assigning a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations that have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.


A web portal, FedConnect is ideal for finding and applying for federal contracts, grants, and other types of assistance funding.

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Who Are Some Past Winners of the EPA SBIR Award?

Though the process of landing an EPA SBIR award can be grueling, there are plenty of success stories to inspire you along the way.

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GVD Corporation

Spun out of MIT’s Chemical Engineering laboratories in 2001, GVD Corporation is a Massachusetts-based technology firm that sets a new standard for coating solutions. 

The Environmental Problem:

During its research, GVD found that many coatings used by industrial and medical manufacturers release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the drying and curing process. This can be destructive to air quality, causing myriad health concerns.

The EPA SBIR Solution: 

GVD created a mold-release coating that uses no organic solvents with funds granted by the EPA SBIR program. This dramatically improves air quality, resulting in reduced toxic emissions. The SBIR award eventually led to a partnership between GVD and a significant automotive parts manufacturer. 

Green Building Studio, Inc.

A flexible cloud-based service, Green Building Studio Inc. runs building performance simulations to optimize energy efficiency and work toward carbon neutrality earlier in the design process.

The Environmental Problem:

Existing buildings are responsible for a hefty chunk of the world’s total primary energy consumption while also being guilty of consuming a sizable amount of the world’s available water supply. In these facts, Green Building saw a need to design buildings that minimize energy use and conserve water.

The EPA SBIR Solution: 

Through EPA SBIR funding, Green Building Studio, Inc. developed a web-based modeling tool to streamline the design of sustainable buildings. The web service helps designers and architects analyze water use in a structure, eligibility of the LEED® daylight credit, renewable energy potential at the building site, and the natural ventilation potential of the building. 

Bridger Photonics

Located in the heart of southwestern Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Bridger Photonics specializes in state-of-the-art technologies that revolutionize methane detection in multiple industries.

The Environmental Problem:

Fossil fuel combustion is the primary source of CO2 pollution, with electricity generation and vehicle exhaust accounting for most of these emissions. Existing technologies require sampling emitted gases with point-source gas-intake measurement devices, which is time-consuming and tedious. This makes it difficult for regulators to identify or quantify CO2 pollution sources.

The EPA SBIR Solution:

An award through the EPA SBIR program enabled Bridger Photonics to develop a mid-infrared laser for use in a remote CO2 sensor with a high-range resolution for onsite CO2 monitoring and spatial mapping from a distance. For example, the CO2 concentration of a smokestack plume can be determined by directing a laser beam at the distant plume. 


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Become Your Own EPA SBIR Success Story

What those successful EPA proposals have in common is the innovative authors all had the time and the team to perform the necessary research and development.

Far too many crucial ideas fall by the wayside simply because of a slight accounting oversight that could have been easily avoided. Team 80 delivers the services you need to ensure no accounting oversight derails your environmentally sound solution.

Free Consultation for EPA SBIR Accounting Services
Team 80 Director of Governmental Accounting Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Director of Governmental Accounting

Ben has worked in and around small businesses for most of his career. But surprisingly, his professional path started in food service as a chef, not accounting. In 2009 he opened his own catering business. The accounting duties for the catering company fell on Ben’s shoulders, and that was when he realized accounting was a much better fit! Ben is passionate about helping small business owners make their companies successful and brings a highly varied set of experiences to the table to help in this pursuit. When he’s not crunching numbers, he can be found hanging out with his wife and their Miniature Pinscher Milo or pursuing his other passions, which include skiing, windsurfing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, playing guitar, and riding dirt bikes.

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Anti-Hustle Resources for Entrepreneurs

An entrepreneurial life can quickly become overwhelming when you try to juggle too many tasks at one time.

While “hustling” has become a way of life for some small business owners, the Anti-Hustle Movement puts a greater emphasis on the inner well-being and health of everyone in the workforce. Rather than overworking to the point of burnout, Anti-Hustle inspires entrepreneurs to achieve success by working smarter, not necessarily harder.

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Everyday we’re hustlin’.

Somewhere along the way, having a good work ethic became synonymous with entrepreneurial hustle—and now people are expected to burn the candle at both ends and neglect their personal life to reach the pinnacle of their chosen industry.

To be honest, that sounds more like a nightmare than the American Dream. 

We believe it’s time to wake up from that old way of thinking about the entrepreneurial lifestyle. But how does one break free from Hustle Culture? What tools and resources are available to entrepreneurs looking to change their everyday narrative? Also, what is Hustle Culture? 

In this blog, Team 80 answers those questions and more. 

What is Hustle Culture?

Hustle culture refers to the relentless pursuit of money and power. It’s a pursuit that includes working relentlessly and continuously, regardless of the toll it takes on one’s health and personal life. And while the phrase “hustle culture” makes it sound aspirational, another way to put it is “burnout culture.”

Some say the idea of “hustling” rose to prominence thanks to a 2006 song by rapper Rick Ross.

However, the smart money says that the Great Recession of 2008 and the fact that life has grown excessively expensive is to blame for the never-ending work cycle for entrepreneurs. Especially for Millennials and Generation Z, there’s a prevailing thought that one must work long hours and start a side business to weather the rough economic times.

Hustle culture describes the incessant need for entrepreneurs to keep up with an ever-accelerating world. In this culture, entrepreneurs work an insane number of hours, up to 60 hours per week. And when they’re not working, entrepreneurs spend their off time thinking about work. It’s unsustainable and not conducive to a healthy life!

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What is the Anti-Hustle Culture Movement?

The world slowed down considerably during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Not only did office workers clock out and go home for an extended period, many decided not to go back in a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. That event brought with it a wave of Anti-Hustle Culture, a growing disquiet among workers railing against long hours, and an off-kilter work-life balance.

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And within that movement came an opportunity for innovative minds to let their entrepreneurial spirit shine. As a result, anti-Hustle groups were founded, giving other entrepreneurs the resources necessary to reclaim their life without sacrificing all of the benefits inherent in a healthy measure of work hustle. Within the last few years, Anti-Hustle Groups have popped up on Facebook—The Anti-Hustle Club and The Anti-Hustle Academy, for example—with the expressed purpose of giving entrepreneurs the resources they need to avoid the pitfalls of Hustle Culture.

These groups are populated by entrepreneurs doling out advice—nuggets of wisdom, including how to fund an entrepreneurial project, gather human capital, network, and gain the education necessary to arm oneself with knowledge.  Back To Top


Let’s take a look at some of their secrets here:

How to Get Funding for Your Entrepreneurial Idea

Every year, we all gripe about having to hand over our hard-earned money to the government in the form of taxes—but did you know that certain government agencies are holding funds that they have to give to small businesses by law?

That’s right. Federal agencies with research and development (R&D) budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate a certain percentage of their funds. These funds, doled out in grants and other financial awards, are initiated through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA works with 11 specific government agencies, facilitating Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Netting funds via this process can be difficult, with plenty of hustle required, but once achieved, it releases you from the constant worry of disappearing cash.

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Government Agencies that Participate in SBIR/STTR

Innovative ideas that are also marketable run the gamut from environmentally-minded to defense-related. As such, the 11 federal agencies that participate in SBIR/STTR are just as varied as the innovative minds of entrepreneurs.

Here are the government departments that could fund your next big idea:

  1. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers grants to qualified small businesses supporting research related to scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture, particularly those that significantly benefit the public. 

  1. Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) engages with businesses, communities, universities, and workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved living standards. 

  1. Department of Defense 

The Department of Defense provides high-tech, small businesses with the opportunity to propose innovative research and development solutions in response to critical defense needs. 

  1. Department of Education

The Department of Education (ED) funds for-profit technology firms to research, develop, and evaluate commercially viable education technology products. 

  1. Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) selects topics spanning the fields of energy production and use, fundamental energy sciences, energy storage and security, environmental management, and defense nuclear nonproliferation.

  1. Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) seeks paradigm-shifting expertise that can be applied to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. 

  1. Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides qualified small business concerns with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet specific homeland security research and development technology needs. 

  1. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awards contracts to domestic small businesses working on research and development to solve the country’s transportation woes. 

  1. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) searches for entrepreneurs who utilize innovative technologies in the stewardship of the environment, with the mission of protecting human health and the environment. 

  1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) inspires generations of geniuses to investigate impossibly far-away lands by funding the development of space-age technology. 

  1. National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) develops scientific and engineering innovations into products and services with a societal impact.



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Other Types Of Funding For Entrepreneurs 

Funding can come from a variety of sources outside of the federal government. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Crowdfunding. Online crowdfunding sites are all the rage these days. Used to assist businesses in raising money to launch a specific product, crowdfunding is also an excellent way to pre-sell while gathering capital to develop and build products.
  • Bank Loans. Also known as a line of credit, a bank loan requires proof that you have a history of paying back debt. You’ll also need to deliver a business plan, a financial forecast, and perhaps some collateral.
  • Angel Investors. These are high-net-worth individuals who receive an equity stake in return for financing. They are often profiteers who are business savvy and not afraid to share their knowledge with you. While they ultimately want your business to grow, angel investors are not shy about scrutinizing your business plan.
  • Venture Capital. Similar to angel investors, venture capitalists receive equity in exchange for financing. And like mutual funds, venture capital funds pool money together from an array of investors. This means you’ll likely have to cede some control and equity.

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What is Human Capital and the Gig Economy?

A business is only as good as the people it employs—this is true for small businesses, large enterprises, and everything in between. 

All of us possess intangible talents and traits that are not listed on a company’s balance sheet. These unquantifiable qualities are collectively known as Human Capital and include valuable assets such as intelligence and education, training and skills, health, loyalty, and punctuality. All of these qualities add up to equal Human Capital or the economic value of each worker. 

Human Capital is out there, in the workforce, waiting to be scooped up and utilized by employers. A massive amount of talent exists in the Gig Economy, a labor market full of independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers, and temporary workers. 

Flexibility is inherent in the Gig Economy. Independent contractors choose the jobs they want to take on, often collecting multiple gigs at once. As a result, the Gig Economy makes valuable Human Capital more available to employers while giving workers the power to build an ideal work-life balance—it all comes together to fly in the face of Hustle Culture.

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Gig Economy Resources For Entrepreneurs

Whether you’re an independent contractor looking for work or a recruiter looking to fill a vital role, several companies have become a driving force of the Gig Economy. Here are a few companies ensuring the Gig Economy keeps chugging along. 

  • Fiverr: Fiverr.com was started in 2010 offers the opportunity for freelancers in just about any digital creative field to provide their services to a global marketplace.
  • Upwork: One of the largest freelance marketplaces trusted by millions of businesses, including Microsoft, Airbnb, and GoDaddy. Upwork serves both entry-level and experienced freelancers equally.
  • Freelancer: The world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, Freelancer.com connects 60 million employers and freelancers from 247 countries. 
  • TaskRabbit: Connecting people who need help with odd jobs and errands with local people who have the time and skills to do them, TaskRabbit offers flexible, local, one-off, or ongoing jobs to suit anyone’s schedule.  
  • Guru: Boasting hundreds of thousands of clients worldwide, $250 million paid to freelancers, and a high client satisfaction rate, Guru targets professionals rather than entry-level freelancers and offers paid memberships to help users rank higher on the site’s search results.

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Why Networking Is Crucial For Entrepreneurs?

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that “burnout culture” is a more straightforward way of describing the truth behind Hustle Culture. Burnout decimates creativity and stifles a small business’s ability to move beyond the initial stages of entrepreneurship and into the realm of paradigm-shifting success.  

Avoiding burnout will always be one of the top priorities of anyone making their way through the workforce—and networking is one of the best ways to soothe a flare-up of burnout.

A dynamic network of industry peers helps entrepreneurs learn about various topics from a global perspective. Populated by experts in multiple fields, counterparts in your chosen sector, and motivational individuals dispensing sage advice, a good networking connection opens entrepreneurs to a rich bastion of knowledge and opportunity. 

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Remember: you’ve yet to receive the best advice you’ll ever get. That valuable knowledge waits for you when you build a network of like-minded individuals. Here are the best ways for an entrepreneur to build a robust and beneficial network:

  1. Stay In Touch

You’ve already made the trek through schools and various places of employment—these stops along the way to your own business are dotted with people who can become valuable assets. They are your connection to new clients and customers, as well as potential team members. Keep these people in life through simple means: Drop them an email to check-in, engage with them on social media (in a positive way), send them a holiday card, or invite them to a networking meeting you plan on attending. 


  1. Organize or Attend a Meeting

Networking events are everywhere, even online in a virtual world. Plan to attend, volunteer, or organize a network meeting. These events bring all of the important, valuable minds into one place and encourage them to share their knowledge with other attendees. You’ll never know just how beneficial these networking events can be until you attend one! And to organize your own, check out some options on social media platforms, as well as helpful sites such as Meetup.com. 


  1. Get Your Name Out There

And finally, make yourself a valuable source of information. This will inspire people to seek you out. If you’re an entrepreneur, you hold a treasure trove of information to help others in your exact situation. Get your name out there by sitting on panels, speaking at public events, doing a podcast interview, or even starting your own podcast. You can also create an entrepreneurial-themed blog, publish articles in various trade publications, or, as mentioned earlier, plan a networking event of your own.

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Grow Your Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills Through Education

Skilling up expands your knowledge and equips you with the tools you need to become a thought leader in your field. Thought leaders offer unique guidance and inspire innovation based on their expertise and perspective built from years of continuing education. 

Often, those providing education for entrepreneurs were once new to their chosen field. They’ve been there, done that. So your best bet is to absorb their knowledge and apply it to your own anti-hustle lifestyle. 

Check out this handy list of 25 podcasts, books, and other resources for entrepreneurs!


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Accounting For Entrepreneurs: Stop Guessing & Know Your Numbers

Fighting the good fight as an entrepreneur is an endeavor that requires all of your attention. Throw in accounting, and you can quickly devolve into a new level of frazzled. Accounting is a daily task vital to your survival as a small business. But, unfortunately, the time it takes to do it right can take you away from other things that need your attention.

Partnering with an accounting firm is one of the most significant steps you can take in the Anti-Hustle Movement. Bookkeeping, monthly accounting, cash-flow forecasting, operational support, and even out-sourced CFO functionality are all enormous responsibilities—and Team 80 is not only highly skilled at these tasks, but it’s also why we’re here. So make the right choice in work-life balance and find out how you fit in with the crew at Team 80.

Team 80 CEO Sarah Sinicki

Sarah Sinicki

Team 80 CEO

Sarah is a leader focused on serving small businesses in various industries. She has worked with a multitude of companies over the last 25 years and loves helping business owners find success. Sarah is genuinely committed to unburdening Team 80 clients so that they have the freedom to focus on their business. In her free time, you can find her spending time with her husband, two kids, and her Yorkies, Marley and Ziggy. When she is not helping business owners, you can find her in a Reb3l Groove class dancing it out. Sarah is also an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, so if you ever want to talk about hockey, she’s your gal.