NASE Blogs

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron -- One of the stops for the NASE TaxTalk seminar tour this month was at the Enterprise Center at Salem State College on Boston’s North Shore, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. The Enterprise Center is a small-business incubator and educational center. Business owners can go for seminars, one-on-one training, and even rent low-cost space to house their start-up. The center is home to over 30 businesses, each with a small office, and close access to peers and counselors. These business incubators are expanding nationwide, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. ...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - April 15th has come and gone, and once again millions of micro-businesses got less tax relief than they are entitled to because of the ridiculous complexity of the home office deduction. Each year, almost 60 percent of Americans who are self-employed fail to take a home-office deduction. In round numbers, this means that $7.25 billion remained in the federal treasury instead of registering on the balance sheets of America’s smallest businesses this year alone. The fact that so many people don’t use the deduction even though many small businesses are struggling to survive speaks for ...
Monday, May 10, 2010
    Q.  I am planning to start a business and have the option of starting it from scratch or purchasing a franchise in the same professional line. What are the advantages and disadvantages of franchising versus creating my own identity?   A.  The world of franchising has changed a great deal over the past 20 years … some for the better and some for the worse. While the failure rate of start-up businesses during the first few years is commonly in the 40-percent to 50-percent range, franchises tend to realize a lower failure rate of around 10-percent to 20-percent. ...
Friday, May 07, 2010
A coalition of small business organizations, including the NASE, has banded together to contest a House proposal that would hike taxes for service sector S corporations. In a letter to the Committee on Ways and Means, the coalition states, "this proposal would increase taxes on small business owners who are fully complying with the law. It will add to the tax code’s complexity by creating new categories of business activity that will have to be defined and litigated." The specific details of the bill have not yet been released, however legislation with similar ends has been introduced in the past. ...
Friday, May 07, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - BizBox notes that SBA Administrator Karen Mills said earlier this week "that the SBA would make low-interest loans available to small businesses along the Gulf Coast threatened by the massive BP oil spill." The SBA is offering working capital loans of up to $2 million at an interest rate of 4 percent with terms up to 30 years.  In an interview, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Blair said her agency was urging banks to take the crisis into account when dealing with borrowers in the Gulf Coast region. For more, visit the SBA's Disaster Assistance website. [Help ...
Monday, May 03, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Small Business Trends points to a study that could impact your bottom line - according to the  findings of Dan Kennedy's study, "sixty eight percent of clients who leave do so because they feel unappreciated, unimportant, and taken for granted."  I wonder if making those clients feel appreciated, important and valued would keep some of them from leaving?  Share any thoughts on showing customers and clients your appreciation in the comments!   [Sixty Eight Percent Is Yours To Keep] 
Friday, April 30, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - We know that small business owners wear many hats, from bookkeeper to office manager to janitor, but this Wall Street Journal article highlights another role that many business owners are unexpectedly having to take on - that of bill collector. The article states that: "About 40% of freelancers had trouble getting paid in 2009, according to a survey released in mid-April by the New York-based Freelancers Union, a 135,000-member organization for independent contractors across the country in fields such as media, technology, and advertising."   The WSJ cautions that the problem could get worse as ...
Friday, April 30, 2010
U.S. Capitol building Want to keep up to date on the small business rules and regulations being debated in Washington, D.C.? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter, Washington Watch. You'll get a synopsis of the week's most relevant issues for small business delivered right to your inbox. Is a weekly update more than you can handle? Check out the latest issue of Washington Watch Quarterly to find top stories from the past three months.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Have you checked your mailbox lately?  If so, you may have noticed a postcard from the IRS indicating that if you have a small business, you may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Many small business owners and self-employed individuals are confused about what assistance is now available to help pay for health coverage since the health reform legislation has become law.  Here is some guidance on whether you can expect to see any benefit from reform. Small Business Health Care Tax Credit  This new tax credit kicks in immediately and ...
Monday, April 26, 2010
  Around this time every year several million people suffer the ill effects of a highly contagious ailment known as PTS. For those of you not familiar with PTS, the symptoms start around mid-February or early March and include periods of heightened anxiety and stress followed by periods of anger and finally a short period of exhilarating relief.   What ... you may ask ... is PTS and is it curable? You'll be pleased to know that PTS (Post Tax Syndrome) is curable and every year tens of thousands of Americans discover how to deal with the symptoms and actually ...
Monday, April 26, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - NASE Staff blog favorite Becky McCary of Small Biz Survival is writing a book with Barry Moltz about rural entrepreneurs, and they are asking you to share your story with them.  You can share your rural entrepreneur story here, or if you have a small business experience to share about another issue, we're listening!  Visit Tell Your Story to share your true-life experiences with the NASE. [Share your rural entrepreneur story, Small Town to Small World: Add Your Story to My Next Book]
Friday, April 23, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - This week, President Obama headed up to New York to again speak to Wall Street about getting on board with efforts to improve accountability and increase safeguards to protect consumers from the abusive practices of financial institutions that led to the collapse of the financial markets.  His speech dovetails with the efforts of the Democratic leadership in the Senate to pass financial regulatory reform legislation. Per usual, debate surrounding this topic has taken an increasingly partisan tone.  Along with Republicans, financial institutions and various business organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have come out in opposition to ...
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight has been created as part of the health reform effort to lead implementation on the law's objectives. Among the branches that the agency includes is an office to implement the exchange program in 2014, as well as a customer service office to answer consumer questions and concerns. The following offices, among others, will make up the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight: Office of Insurance Programs - responsible for the high risk pool program and the early retiree reinsurance program Office of Insurance Exchanges - develops and oversees the exchanges, grants ...
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Did you know that today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day?  After you turn off lights that you aren't using and go outside to hug a tree, Inc. has ten ways that you can bring sustainability into the daily operations of your business.    Share any other green business or sustainability tips in the comments!   [10 Ways to Mark Earth Day at Your Company]
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -Keith Birkemeyer has owned ProBest Pest Management since 2005, and has been an NASE Member since 2008.  ProBest provides pest management services to families and businesses in the Gilbert, Arizona area.  Keith has worked in pest control since 1982, and his knowledge and experience is obvious from ProBest's website and blog. Among other things, the website has educational information on pests that are health risks or poisonous, and even has a kid's section with games and information for science fair projects. ProBest's blog has interesting and educational posts on local all the way to global pest ...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Q: I started a new business several months ago and I operate out of my home. I have heard I can deduct my expenses for the home office. Is this true? And how do I do that? A: The amount of the deduction will depend on the space that you have allocated to the home office. The key is that you use a portion of your home “regularly” and “exclusively” for business, then you would qualify for the home office deduction. This is true even if you rent your house or apartment. The exclusive part is usually the more difficult ...
Friday, April 16, 2010
CFED delivers tax preparation services, financial products and business development services to entrepreneurs through a network of dedicated local, nonprofit organizations. They are a finalist with Sam’s Club Giving Made Simple campaign to win a $1 million grant for its important work supporting the self-employed. Vote for CFED and its Self-Employment Tax Initiative to bring free tax assistance to start-up and low-income self-employed businesses. If you’re a member of Sam’s Club please vote once a day between now and May 2. If you would like to receive daily email reminders to vote for CFED please email seti@cfed.org. To vote and ...
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Q: I'm working on my taxes, and I wonder this every year but forget to ask; can I deduct the cost of my NASE membership dues? A: You can deduct membership dues for business associations like the NASE on your Schedule C as a business expense.  However, keep in mind that any amount of those dues that is used by the association to pay for lobbying efforts is not deductible.  For example, the NASE has determined that $7 of each member's annual dues goes toward lobbying.  To deduct your membership cost, total up your dues payments for the year, and ...
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron – I’m just back from traveling across the country with NASE’s TaxTalk seminar program, where one of the top questions at each presentation was, “Can you recommend a CPA in my area?” Unfortunately, I couldn’t give a satisfactory answer. And I was even more frustrated because we are so close to having one. Ok, so even next year I won’t be able to give the micro-business owners who ask an actual name of a local CPA. But I will be able to tell them about the NASE Water Cooler, a new online community where NASE Members ...
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Maybe you've had your head in the sand for the past few months, or perhaps you just like the pressure of a looming deadline, but either way you can't get around the fact that tomorrow is Tax Day.  If you haven't filed yet, there is plenty of advice out there.  The NASE's National Tax Advisor Keith Hall offered his own tips last month, and be sure to join this Facebook group to commiserate with fellow procrastinators. Good luck! [Tips for last-minute filers; Tips For Those Filing Their Taxes At The Buzzer; Can’t Make the April ...
Friday, April 09, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - In running your business, you probably communicate with clients in many different ways - in person, but also through email and your Web site, in printed materials like advertisements or flyers, and perhaps also through social media like Facebook and Twitter.  In each of these mediums, it is important to remember to keep communications professional and avoid grammatical or informational mistakes, but also to let your personality shine through and show clients that you aren't just another run-of-the-mill business.  [Errors In Marketing Copy Make Your Business Look Stupid, There Aren't Any Jobs Because These Five ...
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - It is easy to become wrapped up in personal conversations while out at a restaurant or other public place, however business owners would be wise to avoid talking about sensitive information within earshot of strangers.  Denise O'Berry points out that you never know who might be listening. [Watch What You Say Because You Never Know Who’s Listening] 
Monday, April 05, 2010
Question:        I’m a female and own my own business but am really being hurt by the economy. If I’m going to survive, I need to find $20 or $30 thousand in working capital until things turn around. Where do I find funding for a struggling business that is having trouble paying its bills? Answer:          While it might not be very comforting ... you are not alone. We hear scores of others repeating your situation every week and there are hundreds of thousands of micro businesses around the country that are walking in your shoes. Sadly, lenders are not being any ...
Monday, April 05, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Are you thinking about applying for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan?  If so, watch out for firms offering to help you apply for funds available through SBA programs. In a press release, the SBA says they "have received several complaints from small businesses about abusive marketing practices, scams, and exorbitant fees charged by firms offering to help them obtain a loan, grant, or other federal funds, from SBA." Read the whole press release for more information, and remember that you can get FREE assistance in applying for SBA funds in person or over the ...
Friday, April 02, 2010
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Fixes made to the health reform law and passed by Congress were signed into law this week by President Obama. Congress added measures to extend health coverage to additional uninsured Americans, address the Medicaid "doughnut hole," and made other regulatory and revenue changes. The next step for health reform is the implementation phase in which federal agencies such as the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service begin the process of issuing regulations and putting the new law into action. Read about the particulars of the reconciliation package ...
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - If your Web site is looking a little rough around the edges, you don't want to trust that facelift (or total reconstruction, as the case may be) to just anyone.  Karyn Greenstreet of Self-Employed Success offers some great advice to small business owners looking to hire someone to help with updating their Web site.  [How to Choose a Website Designer]
Monday, March 29, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Do you ever have days where you blink and suddenly six hours have gone by?  Over at OPEN Forum, small business and productivity bloggers and consultants offer their tips for creating more (productive) time in your day.  You might not be able to turn back the clock, but hopefully these tips will help streamline your days! [80 Ways to Steal Valuable Minutes for Your Work Day]
Friday, March 26, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - With the time ticking by faster and faster, that white expanse of paper continues to sit, the flashing cursor (or your idle pen) mocking your lack of progress.  Writer's block has struck all of us at one time or another.  The knowledge that you are facing down a deadline often only makes your predicament even worse.  Luckily, Chief Home Officer has some suggestions for preventing writer's block.  I agree with all of the points in this post, but I would add one other suggestion - take a quick walk break, or get up and get ...
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - If you are anything like me, you're sick of thinking about taxes or worrying about getting them done. It's exhausting! So, I'm providing you with a no-guilt break with two fun links on our page. Just imagine I've also offered brownies with coffee or milk and my efforts to comfort will be complete. Tax links that will not bore you: TaxTalk Postcards - Read the adventures of the NASE crew as we travel around the country in March to give free seminars on maximizing your deductions. The behind-the-scenes antics are some of the best parts ...
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Today, President Obama will be signing into law the health reform legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives.  While reforming our health care system has been a frequent topic in Congress, the debate heated up once Mr. Obama ascended to the Presidency with Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House.  Throughout the process, a large number of small business organizations expressed their dissatisfaction and/or outright opposition to the final health reform bill.  In a recent survey conducted by the National Association for the Self-Employed, three in five micro-business owners indicated that they did ...
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Seminar tour co-planners, NASE's Maureen Petron stands with Kristi Gunster It’s gorgeous country out here. A bright, sunny day for our seminar in Centennial, and then a four hour drive up to Casper, Wyoming. We decided to drive the four hours because we’d probably spend just as much time getting to the Denver airport and taking a puddle jumper up to Casper. Lots of flat land, with huge, incredible rock structures jutting out. The directions from Centennial to Casper had four steps – turn right out of the parking lot at the Centennial SBDC, get on I-25 North, get off ...
Monday, March 22, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - The daffodils are blooming, and even though it is raining a bit today, it is time for spring cleaning!  Freelance Folder has come up with a list of things that probably need your cleaning attention, from your computer files to your physical fitness.  Give a little love to those first flowers of spring that are showing up in your garden, but don't forget your home office!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sometimes I am amazed at the approach some small business owners take with their customers ... and their livelihood! Here's my point from a real life experience ... I was talking with a client we’ll call “D.A.”. We were trying to move more dollars down to the bottom line by decreasing his inventory so he wouldn't have so much money tied up in “product” sitting on the shelves. One key part of our discussion concerned deciding what products should be discontinued and put on sale to streamline his product line. In the process of creating our “hit list” D.A. took ...
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Videoconferencing is a great tool for your business, allowing you to meet with clients or vendors but avoid the costs of airfare and hotel accommodations.  However, just because it is a video conference doesn't mean that you can skip the effort you would put forth before an in-person meeting.  Small Biz Bee offers some spot-on suggestions for making sure your videoconference is a success. [4 Tips for Practicing Proper Videoconferencing Etiquette]  
Thursday, March 18, 2010
An evening on the town on Austin’s 6th Street might not have been the most restful way to prepare for the first ever double seminar day in TaxTalk history, but it was fun! After an invigorating jog before sunrise, the NASE team made our way to the Texas State University SBDC for our first seminar of the day. The university was on spring break, so while we didn’t see many students, we had no trouble finding a parking space.  There are a lot of numbers involved in doing your taxes, but sometimes it is other numbers that can catch your ...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - With widespread concern over Internet scams and identity theft, privacy is paramount for your business.  Although having a privacy policy is good for customers (because it protects their information) and good for business (because customers trust that their information is safe, according to Inc., a survey by security researcher Ponemon Institute found that 56 percent of small businesses don't even have a privacy policy posted on their Web site!  With many of those surveyed indicating that "substantial" security protections and accurate data collection and use would encourage their trust in a business (60 percent and ...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Keith, Maureen and Molly of the NASE (first, middle, last) pose with SBDC staff. Posted by Molly Nelson - It was another early morning at the North Texas SBDC at El Centro College for our fourth seminar of 2010.  Because the seminar was so close to the NASE's headquarters in Grapevine, Texas, we had a great showing of employees and friends of the NASE - Maureen and me from the NASE's DC office, as well as John Hearrell and Scott and Barbara Scribner joined Keith at the seminar. The staff from the North Texas SBDC was so helpful and welcoming. ...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Business owners wait for Keith to begin the tax seminar. It's pronounced like aisle with an "L" at the beginning and we were fortunate enough to have a additional NASE team member with us for this seminar. Robynn is our superstar in the Chicago area, and she was kind enough to let us crash her office so we'd have a quiet place to do a webinar with the Wyoming SBDC network. The Lisle event was a great sized seminar – 20 people. That means it’s small and intimate enough that the attendees feel comfortable asking questions from the start, and ...
Monday, March 15, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to this post on Small Business Trends, "Seventy-four percent of small-business owners recently surveyed by consulting firm Information Strategies said they would use money from their 401(k) to maintain cash flow or to expand their businesses, Business Week reports." Seventy-four percent seems like a lot of people to me, and this figure also alarmed post author Anita Campbell.  She outlines some scenarios in which using your retirement account for funding may (or may not!) be a good idea for your business.   [Should You Tap Into Your Retirement Account to Fund Your Business?]
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Purple Pig, Chicago, IL Next stop on the trail is Chicago! We’ve never been to most of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) where we are holding seminars this year. So we never know what we’re going to get when we pull up to a location. The Illinois SBDC/Duman Microenterprise Center is at 216 W. Jackson Blvd., #700, Chicago, IL. The cab driver pulled up and “216” was directly above… a liquor store. We scrambled to checkthe location and confirmed that it was, indeed, the address. Thankfully, the entire building above the liquor store was also “216” also, and ...
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - While you may have noticed that appliances like your refrigerator or dishwasher are designated as Energy Star-rated, did you know that many appliances that you use in your small business are also Energy Star-rated?  OPEN Forum offers a helpful checklist to determine which Energy Star appliance is best for you, and also notes best practices for getting the best results from your appliances.  [Energy Star Office Equipment for Your Small Business]
Friday, March 05, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - I think it's fair to say that most small business owners want to avoid legal trouble if possible.  While using social media to promote your business and bringing on an intern or two can seem fairly innocuous, check out these posts from Entrepreneur and Small Biz Survival to make sure you're not doing things that can turn into a liability for your business. If you still have questions after reading these posts, the attorneys at Legal Club may be able to help.  [Protect Yourself: Social Media and Legal Liability, Are unpaid internships legal]
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -First impressions are important.  Somehow Trimalchio in West Egg doesn't quite grab you like The Great Gatsby does.  Perhaps Jane Austen knew this better than F. Scott Fitzgerald, as she scrapped the title of First Impressions for her novel in favor of the less direct, but certainly more memorable, Pride and Prejudice. I'm not sure if the folks at Freelance Folder are Austen fans, but they have a great post on how to avoid making bad first impressions on potential clients.  [Bad First Impressions That Can Drive Potential Clients Away]
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Tackling our first tax seminar of 2010 in Salem, Oregon I love tax season because I enjoy getting out to talk to self-employed business owners about what they do. Unfortunately, I also have a bit of a reputation around the office for cutting it close when it comes to arriving at the airport. I almost didn’t make the flight on Monday morning due to multiple accidents on the freeway in my hometown of Dallas. After I got through security, I ran to the gate and got directly on the plane. Let's just say it's a good thing that I am ...
Monday, March 01, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Dr. Jeff Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind has a neat post today about the rise of co-working spaces.  According to Dr. Cornwall, co-working spaces are where, "self-employed people and freelancers can come together in a common space. Unlike traditional executive suites, co-working spaces offer more than just space and office support. Co-working space usually has a very open environment that fosters interaction, collaboration and even shared work projects." Are you working from a co-working space?  Would you consider it if there were a space like San Francisco's Citizen Space in your area?  Let us know ...
Monday, March 01, 2010
Even though a lot of small businesses are feeling some rough seas of the economy ... other businesses are experiencing the rewards of their blood, sweat and tears. For some, customers are banging down the doors throwing money at them and vendors are happy to negotiate prices that will get products off their shelves. Yes, for some people the entrepreneurial life is good! The question is ... how long will it last? For those of you that are discovering a cash cow in your business ... be careful about leaning back in that $2,000 executive massage chair remembering those by-gone ...
Friday, February 26, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - I've been meaning to start working on my taxes for about a month now, but somehow things keep getting in the way, like that Bikram yoga class I've been meaning to take, and this great book I'm reading and all of those dishes in my kitchen that really need washing.  If you're a bit of procrastinator like me, you might as well admit it...and then tell all of your friends by joining our new Facebook fan page! If you want to be a bit more proactive about things, you can also join some of our ...
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Federal Reserve's new rules for credit card companies go into effect this week.  Here is the Federal Reserve's outline of the changes that you should expect from your credit card company.  Visit their Web site for more details.  Your credit card company has to tell you: When they plan to increase your rate or other fees. How long it will take to pay off your balance New rules regarding rates, fees, and limits: No interest rate increases for the first year. Increased rates apply only to new charges.  You must tell your credit card ...
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Q: I heard I could hire my child and take a tax deduction. How does that work? A: Allowance isn't deductible, but wages are! Put your child to work and take the deduction! First of all, don't go out and have kids just for this - that's a bad idea. But if you do have a kid, put them to work in your business. They can file things, answer the phone, clean your home office...anything you can think of that is appropriate for them to do. It will give them a chance to learn about your business, and also teach ...
Monday, February 22, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Not rain nor sleet nor potential package pilferers have a chance against this mailbox!  The New York Times writes about the couple behind the company Architectural Mailboxes, and how they were inspired to create something new from the trusty mailbox.  The author notes that, "By correctly anticipating how the high-tech future would change the way we shop, they updated one of the most low-tech items around: the repository of snail mail, the trusty mailbox. Along the way, they responded to a growing concern — identity theft — that established mailbox suppliers had failed to address." ...