NASE Blogs

Monday, August 02, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson  - I have to admit, I wasn't surprised to read on Good Plum that according to Google, one out of every five searches on Google are related to location. Regardless of the type of business, I will more often than not look up a business online in order to check out their website and also their location on Google maps before actually venturing there. All of this brings me back to the point of Good Plum's post - does your business use Google Places? Also, don't forget to create your business page on the Water Cooler. ...
Friday, July 30, 2010
Posted by Rosemary Hambright - My, my, my…where did July go?  If you’re wondering the same thing, take this moment to pause and reflect on the past week.  Better yet, peruse through this week’s line-up of hot small business links!   While last week Senate appeared on the verge of implementing the Small Business Lending Fund, yesterday they rejected the bill 58-42.  NASE’s own Kristie Arslan provides more details on our Staff Blog.  She was on CNBC earlier this week supporting the bill.   If this news comes as a blow, there might be some consolation for you.  Gene Marks, a ...
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Members of the Senate decided today to put politics over progress by blocking movement on the Small Business Jobs Act (H.R. 5297) when it came up for a crucial procedural vote. Unless an agreement can be reached, the bill is likely to languish in the Senate. The debate on the Senate floor consisted of the usual acrimonious banter with lots of finger pointing about the unfairness of the majority and the obstructionism of the minority. What is truly unfair is that Main Street will likely be left out in the cold again to weather this ...
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Yesterday's New York Times shared the story of Amanda Keppert, the owner of Mandy's Korner, a hot dog stand in San Jose, California. With people eating out less, Keppert was worried that her business wouldn't survive the economic downturn. She applied for loans, but was rejected by numerous banks - until she found a local microlender working with well-known international microlender Kiva. Keppert obtained a $6,500 loan through Kiva, allowing her to purchase needed equipment for her business. Although many people associate the concept of microlending and microlenders like Kiva with the developing world, according ...
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Q: I own a landscape business and want to get certified as a green grower. The certification requires me to take classes, which cost money. And I must pay a certification fee. Can I deduct those costs as business expenses? A: Yes, all of those costs are legitimate tax deductions for your business. In fact, if you take additional classes as part of your continuing education in the landscape industry, you can also deduct those costs. And if you’re required to pay an annual fee to maintain your green certification, that cost is also deductible.
Monday, July 26, 2010
When it comes to putting information out over the Internet ... I hold everything pretty close to the chest. But I must have done something in a past life that has gotten me on every business opportunity sucker list in the country. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't have emails slipping through my spam filter inviting me to a seminar that will change my life or promises just by opening my checkbook I'll be on the way to changing my address to 840 Easy Street, U.S.A. I don't really think I'm any smarter ... or less ...
Friday, July 23, 2010
Posted by Rosemary Hambright – Once again, it’s time to share the scoop on the world of small business. On Monday, Entrepreneur.com weighed in on the implications of the Wall Street Reform for small business which President Obama signed into law on Wednesday. The New York Times explained the changing demographic of SBA loan recipients, and Small Business Trends reported that TARP is not living up to expectations on Tuesday.  That same day Bloomsberg Businessweek reported that start-ups are at an all-time low.  However, in a positive display of optimism Businessweek also featured 10 success stories of nationally recognized brands ...
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -While vacation is a necessary and important break for small business owners, it may also be a good time to do some thinking about the big picture of your business. Just as that song title you were searching for only pops into your head when you've moved on to thinking about something else, vacation offers the distance from which you can look at your business and think about making changes. OPEN Forum suggests six topics to get you thinking while you're searching for seashells by the shore. [6 Things to Think About on Your Summer Vacation]
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Posted by Rosemary Hambright - Has your small business ever been ripped off or conned? Scams pose an unfortunate but real threat for small businesses.  Misleading telephone book ads, deceitful websites and other types of fraud can cost the self-employed dearly.  Last July, the Office of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray developed a complaint resolution program to help small businesses and NPOs in Ohio recover funds lost to deception.  In the year since its inception, the initiative has rescued upwards of $115,000 with an average of $1,500 per small business. If you’re based in Ohio and are the victim of ...
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Q: I just started a welding business and am terrified of getting audited by the IRS. Are there any things I can do to make sure I prepare all of my taxes correctly? A: As a new business owner, you have the opportunity to get started right with respect to tax preparation. Tax preparation isn’t just about filling out tax forms. It’s also about maintaining adequate records and staying organized so you can avoid potential problems. My advice is to follow the three Cs of tax preparation: 1. Careful record keeping – Keep accurate records and notes so you can ...
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
There never seems to be a lack of challenges when it comes to finances ... especially when you’re trying to balance both your business and personal income and outflow!   If you’re like tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across the country it’s not unusual to have to make some tough financial decisions from time to time ... “Who do I pay this week? The credit card company that I know is about to hit me with late fees ... or the printer who is holding my direct mail piece that I hope will bring new customers and dollars in the ...
Monday, July 19, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -  As you may have noticed, the Old Spice Man has been all over Twitter and YouTube lately. A few experts have even culled some lessons for small businesses from the viral success of the Old Spice campaign. If you weren't a loyal Old Spice customer, did this campaign prompt you to give the brand a second look? Has the success of the campaign inspired you to create YouTube videos about your product or business? [Old Spice is New Again – The Power of an Integrated Marketing Approach] [Lessons From the Old Spice Man] [Old Spice ...
Monday, July 19, 2010
Posted by Rosemary Hambright - Small business was a hot topic in national news last week!  Senate passed the Wall Street reform 60-39 on Thursday afternoon.  CNN Money reported on the nature of the relationship between credit cards and small business credit, and Seth Goldman explained why his small company Honest Tea stood their ground against their investor Coca-Cola to the NY Times.   Entrepreneur.com offered advice on how self-employed people can improve their finance IQ, and Small Biz Daily assembled a list of helpful websites for female entrepreneurs.   And if you’re looking for a family friendly activity, the ...
Friday, July 16, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - The Obama Administration can add another notch to their "win" column with the final passage this week of the financial regulatory reform bill.  The legislation is expected to be signed into law by the President next week.    "From now on, every American will be empowered with the clear and concise information you need to make financial decisions that are best for you. This bill will crack down on abusive practices and unscrupulous mortgage lenders. It will reinforce the new credit card law we passed banning unfair rate hikes, and ensure that folks aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft ...
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -  Over at EGO blog, Brett Owens wrote an interesting post about new entrepreneurs waiting for the perfect moment to start their business. Instead of waiting for the stars to align, Owens suggests simply starting your business, and dealing with problems as they arise. When did you decide to start your business? Were you waiting for "the opportune moment," or did you jump right in? Share your story in the comments! [Why Aspiring Entrepreneurs Should Stop Planning And Start Doing]
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Q: What are the contribution limits in 2010 for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs? A: The contribution limits for individual retirement accounts depend on your age.If you’ll be age 50 or older by the end of the year, the limit is $6,000. If you’ll be younger than age 50, the limit is $5,000.The reason for the difference is catch-up contributions, which are designed to help people save more as they move closer to retirement age. Be aware that the maximum contribution is a combined limit. In other words, you can’t contribute that amount to both a Roth IRA and a ...
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - On the eve of expiration for a number of key small business tax deductions and with the Small Business Administration running out of funding for small business loans, the U.S. Senate finally wakes up and begins to pay attention to small business.  The same sector of the business community they have been touting will pull us out of this economic downturn.    With the guidance and leadership of Senator Mary Landrieu, the current chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senate leadership has finally introduced legislation that includes help for our nation's smallest ...
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Posted by Rosemary Hambright - NASE members blogged about some really great stuff last week! Keith Birkemeyer, a pest control professional from Arizona, gave his expert opinion on the top 10 deadliest spiders in the world, posted an article about a plague positive squirrel discovered in LA and offered advice for dealing with bedbugs. Katrina Harrell, an NASE enthusiast based in North Carolina, stressed the importance of a proactive P.L.A.N. for tax season. What do you have to share at the Water Cooler?
Monday, July 12, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - In remarks to a Federal Reserve conference investigating how to increase lending to small businesses, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was clear in his support for getting more funds to small businesses. "Making credit accessible to sound small businesses is crucial to our economic recovery," Bernanke said. "More must be done." One option that has been put forth is increasing the amount of assets credit unions can lend to small businesses. While Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is co-sponsoring one such proposal (to increase the amount of assets credit unions are allowed to lend from 12.25 ...
Friday, July 09, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson -If you're looking for information about the health insurance options available in your state, the Department of Health and Human Services' new online resource, HealthCare.gov, can help. By answering a few questions, HealthCare.gov helps consumers research and compare private health plans, determine their eligibility for existing public insurance programs, and view applicable health information and recommendations. Read more about HealthCare.gov here, or visit the portal here.  
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Ever watch "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central?  Recently, host Stephen Colbert went to work in his bunny slippers, courtesy of the NASE's Not So 'Bunny' Campaign.  Take a look:  http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/mon-july-5-2010-michio-kaku The NASE has been working hard to get the word out to policymakers and media about the important role the self-employed and micro-businesses play in our nation's economy.  We are trying to chip away at the stereotype that America's smallest businesses simply sit home in their pajamas and slippers and don't contribute much to their community and local economy.   To do this, we need your ...
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Q.  I use independent contractors and have heard horror stories about businesses being nabbed by the IRS for not treating independents as employees resulting in fines in the thousands of dollars. How can I protect myself from getting in trouble with the IRS?   A.  The independent contractor question has been an ongoing “gray” issue with the IRS for years. All you have to do is read IRS publication 15 (Circular E) to see how convoluted the definitions of employee and independent contractor are. While there have been and are efforts in Congress to get a more definitive clarification on just ...
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - As a Millennial (or member of Generation Y, if you prefer), I was interested to come across quite a few stories this week about Millennials in the business world. AllBusiness seems to be running a special report on the next generation of entrepreneurs, with a number of stories on Gen Y. While some authors are pointing to the success of Millennial entrepreneurs, others are suggesting that my generation get up off the couch and get real about working for ourselves. AllBusiness' Small Business Blog also says that Millennials are getting a hand in getting into ...
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron – I had a great time last week in Ellsworth, Maine, meeting NASE Member Doug Springer. Doug is the 2010 NASE Achievement Award recipient. He gained that honor by using a $4,000 grant from the NASE to purchase equipment for his gymnastics center – and enroll his largest male class since he opened his doors eight years ago. Molly Nelson from the NASE and I traveled up to meet Doug, his wife and three adorable daughters. We were able to hang out at the gymnastics center (Molly was even brave enough to try out some of ...
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
While small businesses are still trying to come back from the economic downturn, many are starting to see some improvement, even to the point of hiring employees.   That’s a nice improvement compared to the last two years when NASE ShopTalk consultants were fielding lots of calls from members on how to downsize their work force. And after talking with hundreds of business owners in that position one thing was really clear ... many employers didn’t know what they could and could not do as required by law. Things like how to deal with state regulations and what they had ...
Friday, June 25, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Grab a lemonade and take a break from the heat with some small business news that you may have missed this week. Via Consumerist, double-digit premium increases prompted a stern warning to insurers from the White House this week. The SBA has changed the hours of operation of its mobile Business Recovery Centers to make it easier for businesses affected by the oil spill to get loans. Jeff Cornwall gave advice on how to break up with a business partner, and Entrepreneur offered best practices for online banking. OPEN Forum suggests taking advantage of virtual ...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
When it comes to health insurance, self-employed business owners have long purchased health coverage in the individual market or obtain coverage through a spouse. The new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, offers micro-businesses and the self-employed the choice to keep the plan that they already have, provided it meets certain requirements. Some of the most widely touted benefits under the new law for individuals include: No lifetime limits on coverage for all plans; No rescissions of coverage when people get sick and have previously made an unintentional mistake on their application; Extension of parents’ coverage to most young ...
Monday, June 21, 2010
Question         I hired an employee several years ago and as a condition of employment I had her sign a non-compete agreement stating she would not work for a competing business in my industry. She quit earlier this year and went to work for one of my competitors. Can I stop her from working for my competition based on the non-compete agreement that she signed? Answer            Not knowing All of the details it is hard to speculate ... however, there is likely little you can do to uphold the non-compete agreement unless she receives some sort of financial benefit from not ...
Monday, June 21, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - As an NASE Member, you have access to discounts on incorporation services and DBA registration through BizFilings. If you are unsure if forming an LLC is the right thing for your business, our guest blogger, Julie Henningfield, offers some pros and cons to help you decide. Remember to consult with our small business experts at ShopTalk if you have any additional questions! What are the pros and cons of forming an LLC? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recent data reflects that the number of self-employed workers choosing to incorporate their small business has climbed ...
Friday, June 18, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Today, the third Friday in June, is apparently the happiest day of the year. I just learned about this today, so here are some links that I hope are even more informative: While the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would create a $30 billion fund intended to boost lending to small businesses, Inc. shared 25 tips for perfecting your e-mail etiquette. OPEN Forum asks if being the most innovative person in your business could actually be a detriment to your business, and women and minority business owners of construction and construction-related businesses ...
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron -- Have you clicked on the “Water Cooler” tab in the navigation yet? Why not? You’re missing out on a great opportunity to promote your products and services to other NASE Members, network, and support fellow micro-business owners. Similar to other social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn that you may already be familiar with, the Water Cooler is a community made by and for NASE Members. It’s a place where you can come to advertise your business to other NASE Members, find a fellow NASE Member in your area whose design (or plumbing or photography) skills ...
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - If you're looking for a change of scenery from your home office, after July 1st you may want to visit your local Starbucks and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced this week that the Wi-Fi would be provided by AT&T, and that Starbucks would also be offering exclusive access to free articles, music, videos and other content through a partnership with Yahoo!. Previously, customers who purchased and registered a Starbucks card and used it in the last month could access the Internet at Starbucks at no additional charge after logging ...
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Have that cup of coffee in hand? Google does, too, after a recent update to its search-indexing algorithm. CIK Marketing clearly explains what the "Caffeine" update means for those of us who aren't the most SEO-savvy. According to CIK, the Caffeine update, "means that Google now has the capability to find and display new content published to the Internet within seconds. Be it a blog post, news column, or wiki update, Google will find it faster, and thus so will you." To make the most of Google's update, CIK suggests that small businesses focus on ...
Monday, June 14, 2010
Q: I would like to purchase a bicycle for my business that I would use instead of my car to get to my client sites at home and when I travel. I would also use the bike to attend promotional bike centric networking events put on by groups promoting small businesses in the area. Is this a legal expense, since I will be using the bicycle as a means of promoting my company? A: If the bike is indeed purchased primary for business, then it indeed would be a deductible business expense. The personal usage of the bike, as it ...
Monday, June 14, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan - The Obama Administration is trying desperately to create jobs and boost our sluggish economy. But the public increasingly thinks the President’s economic policies are making things worse. The latest Pew Research Center survey clearly illustrates the pessimism that continues to loom like a dark cloud over the nation. For the first time, more people now believe that Administration policies have made economic conditions worse (29%) than they have made them better (23%). For the nation’s self-employed, the root of that pessimism is frustratingly simple: the Administration talks a good game about supporting small businesses while ...
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - With the summer job market for teens looking bleak, are you encouraging your child to follow in your footsteps and start their own business? Entrepreneur's Daily Dose argues that it may be time for kids starting their own business (and their parents) to look beyond the lemonade stand. The article suggests pet sitting, lawn care and social media consulting as better (ok, more profitable) alternatives. Would you encourage a child starting a business to go with an old standby, or to try something different as Daily Dose suggests? Share a story of a favorite summer ...
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Question         I am a Limited Liability Company doing home remodeling and am the only person in the LLC. I have no employees as I hire only contract labor but one of my clients is asking for proof of workers compensation insurance. It is my understanding that I am only required to carry workers comp if I have employees but the client is saying I must give them proof of insurance. So, who is right?     Answer            You are both right. You are right in that while workers compensation insurance requirements vary from state to state, commonly the principals of a ...
Friday, June 04, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - Here we are again - another Friday, another link roundup. It was interesting to see a WSJ article about employers loaning money to employees who were in a bind - the most recent issue of Self-Employed had a similar story. Denise O'Berry had tips on how to avoid falling for small business "get rich quick" scams, while SmallBusinessNewz encourages small business owners to use hyperlinks in online press releases. You're the Boss featured an emotional post about doing what you truly love (full disclosure: I do cry at commercials, but the post is still worth ...
Monday, May 31, 2010
Are you planning some vacation time this summer? Or ... does the economy still have you worried and you’re afraid to risk that your business might not be able to afford having you gone for a week? Sadly ... entrepreneur-types can get so blindsided that they put the business ahead of everything else ... including the family ... and we're not sure whether to wear the whole “12 hours a day, seven days a week” attitude as a badge of honor or make it our biggest complaint. One minute we're boasting about how many hours we put in to keep ...
Friday, May 28, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - As part of National Small Business Week (NSBW), the SBA honors the top small businesses from across the nation. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama honored these award recipients and made remarks on the state of small business in America. The NASE's General Counsel, Mike Beene, attended the event in the Rose Garden. Here are some of his thoughts about the event: Some days renew your enthusiasm to fight for the self-employed. I had the privilege of attending a Rose Garden reception where President Obama recognized this year's National Small Business Week small business award ...
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron -- Meet Doug.  He’s an NASE Member just like you. He runs a gymnastics center in Maine. He took advantage of an NASE benefit and applied for a business development grant. And he received one: $4,193 to purchase equipment. That’s where Doug’s story becomes extraordinary. Doug didn’t buy just any equipment. He purchased men’s training equipment. He felt he needed to introduce the sport to more boys in his community. And, based on his current client demographics, he knew that men’s gymnastics was an untapped market that could bring in a steady source of revenue. Doug’s ...
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It’s a fact ... most businesses big and small spend the majority their marketing dollars and marketing efforts looking for new customers. Ask a business owner what their marketing goal is and most will tell you, “Trying to entice people to pick-up the phone so the business can dazzle them with their products and abilities”. And while we are so busy trying to get a message out to people who don't know us, we ignore a mother lode of potential customers who have their checkbooks waiting for us to tell them what to put on the pay-to-the-order-of line. So who ...
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Q: I attended the TaxTalk seminar in Casper, WY, in March. You mentioned some tax perks to hiring your spouse. Can you explain that to me?   A: The key benefit to hiring your spouse is related to the benefits of a Health Reimbursement Arrangement used to maximize the pre-tax payment of medical expenses. For about the last 25 years, the IRS has allowed small businesses to adopt Heath Reimbursement Accounts for their employees as authorized under Internal Revenue Code Section 105. The NASE HRA 105 plan is such a plan, thus the name 105. These Plans allow for your ...
Friday, May 21, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - You should really be outside enjoying the weather, but since you're still here, take a look at some things you may have missed around the interwebs this week. Watch out for crooked loan agents trying to take advantage of small business owners applying for SBA loans! In some happier news, the Kauffman Foundation reports that entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. rose to its highest rate in 14 years in 2009, and Inc. has a guide for getting certified as a minority-owned business.  FreelanceFolder suggests using Zen practices to increase productivity (as I try to surreptitiously ...
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Posted by Maureen Petron -- Notice anything new in the top navigation here at NASE.org? We just launched the Water Cooler, NASE’s online networking community. NASE Members can update their profile, promote their business, join (or create!) groups of other members based on geography or interest, ask for advice, and even upload pictures of their goods or services.   Why did we create the Water Cooler for NASE Members? User Michael Davis said it best in his profile: “It can get pretty quiet here working alone!” A lot of NASE Members work from a home office, and don’t have employees ...
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Q: I can take advantage of the $8,000 first-time homebuyer’s tax credit because I just closed on my first house last week. I have already filed my taxes for 2009 and got my refund. Do I file an amended return to the 2009 taxes or do I wait and file for the $8,000 credit on my 2010 tax filing? A: You actually have the choice of whether to claim the additional credit on your 2010 or your 2009 return. My guess is that you would prefer to amend the 2009 return and get the money faster rather than waiting all ...
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Posted by Kristie Arslan – Found deep within the new health reform law is a little known provision that will increase tax regulation on America’s small businesses beginning in 2012.  Yes, that’s right.  Not only did our policymakers pass a health reform bill that will provide little to no bottom-line savings for the self-employed and micro-businesses, but they paid for a portion of their “reform” efforts by heaping additional IRS reporting requirements, paperwork and fines onto the backs of our nation’s job creators.  The IRS currently has a reporting requirement for businesses who hire independent contractors.  If a business hires ...
Monday, May 17, 2010
  Question         I've been in business for three years and realize I need help in improving my business. I have read about business coaches and have done some research on the Internet but the more I read the more confused I become. I have also read good comments as well as negative comments from people who have used coaches. How can I find a business coach who can help me in my business?   Answer            Before beginning your search for a business coach (or other professional) it’s important for you to outline your specific needs and expectations (similar to a ...
Monday, May 17, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - The IRS released guidance today on the new health care tax credit under the Affordable Care Act to help small businesses determine whether they qualify for the credit and estimate the amount of the credit they may receive.  According to the IRS guidance, small businesses that receive state health care tax credits may still qualify for the full federal tax credit, and small businesses are allowed to receive the credit for additional dental and vision coverage as well as regular health insurance.  The credit is designed to encourage small employers to offer health insurance coverage ...
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Posted by Molly Nelson - There is so much information out there that it is sometimes hard to sift through it all for the pieces that are truly valuable.  So, here's hoping you can find something useful for your business in this little almost-Friday link roundup! Small Business Trends names some free desktop applications that can help your small business, while Good Plum has tips for organizing your actual desk. Entrepreneur suggests how you can help your business keep score, and CNN Money has five things to tell you about being audited and also wants you to bribe your employees ...