NASE Blogs

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - While not all of us can be interior designers (or should be, considering our penchant for hot pink and polka dots), there are still simple things you can do with the design of your home office to increase your comfort and productivity.    As this article from Entrepreneur outlines, seemingly small considerations like adequate lighting and storage space can make a big difference in how much work you can get done in your home office.    Share any home office design tips that have helped you in the comments!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron -- I'm back from Southern California, where I was lucky enough to present a "big check" to this year's NASE Future Entrepreneur scholarship recipient. It's a favored part of my job, and understandably so. I get to meet moms and dads brimming with excitement over their child's success, ambition and business. It's also cool when the scholarship recipient has a younger sibling, who is hopefully influenced by the attention their brother or sister is getting. This year's FE had all that -- a start up company, proud parents, and a younger brother who actually helps in ...
Friday, July 10, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - According to this article in The Washington Post, senior Treasury Department officials are considering a proposal to expand the scope of the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to strengthen the SBA's popular 7(a) loan program.   This initiative would be a shift from the original purpose of TARP, as it would direct billions of bailout dollars towards saving jobs instead of righting the financial system.  The loans would have few restrictions and could be used for a variety of immediate expenses, and the government would cover most of the losses on the federal ...
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Here are some of the top health care headlines from the past week: White House and Hospitals Are Reported to Be Near Deal (New York Times) The Obama administration and major hospital associations are nearing a deal for about $150 billion in cost savings to help pay for an overhaul of the nation’s health care system. Updated story in Washington Post. Self-Imposed Health Care Deadline Looms (National Public Radio) Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are returning to work on efforts to craft a bill to overhaul the nation's health care system. House and Senate leaders have ...
Monday, July 06, 2009
Posted by Kristie Arslan - From day one the Obama Administration has been touting that they were going to foster a different kind of government. Transparency, participation and communication were going to be front and center. As I work on health care reform however, it is evident that Congress unfortunately didn’t get the memo on this new citizen-friendly, collaborative process. Recently, I spoke about the micro-business perspective on mandates at a briefing sponsored by the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage. In my concluding remarks, I highlighted that our recent survey of micro-businesses showed that while they want government involvement in regulating the ...
Friday, July 03, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The health care reform debate is constantly evolving. Here are some of the week’s top health care headlines to help keep you up-to-date on what’s being said: Healthcare Reform Debate Heats Up In The House (The Small Business Watchdog) Power player, the House Ways and Means Committee, debates the idea of a public option. Health reform FAQ: Cutting through the noise (CNN Money) Confused about what health care reform would look like and how it would change your world? You're not alone. Little Known Info About the Self-Employed and Health Reform [Survey] (NASE on Micro-Business) President Obama Comments ...
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to accompany Kristie, the Executive Director of the NASE's Legislative Office here in Washington, D.C., to a briefing on health care reform at the new Capitol Visitors Center. The briefing, put on by the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage, was aimed at members of Congress and congressional staff and focused on the potential impact of an employer mandate for health coverage on small businesses. Along with Kristie, representatives from the Retail Association of Massachusetts, the National Retail Federation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spoke at the briefing. ...
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - Traveling for the long weekend? It's not too late to save on your travel needs with help from the NASE. Filed in one of our more fun benefits categories, the NASE group discounts can help you save on rental car discounts from Budget, Hertz, and Enterprise. Or, compare your hotel rate for this weekend against the savings you can get through NASE's hotel savings program -- 10% off Wyndham, Ramada, Baymont Inn hotels, and more! The NASE can also help with more than just saving a few dollars on your travel needs -- being there ...
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - When talking about those small, rectangular pieces of plastic you keep in your wallet, many people use these words interchangeably. However, as this informative Small Business Trends article shows, these words can mean a big difference to you and your business. Check out the considerations that author Adam Jusko outlines in the article to make sure you're choosing the right card for you. [Hat tip: Small Business Trends]
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Posted by Kristie Arslan - As I watched the news announcing the 150 year sentence for Bernie Madoff, the mastermind behind a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, my thoughts were focused on his victims. In this time of economic uncertainty, their nest eggs disappeared before their eyes and they will likely never receive full restitution. Like Madoff’s victims, the self-employed also experience a high level of uncertainty about whether they will achieve financial security to allow them to retire. Close to 4o percent of micro-business owners are not at all confident or have little confidence that they will be able to ...
Monday, June 29, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - President Barack Obama spoke via ABC News’ “Nightline” to Americans about health care reform during a special edition of the program from the White House on June 24, 2009. The President specifically addressed the concerns of the self-employed and small business owners in response to a question from Gary Cloutier, a self-employed body shop owner from Massachusetts, who is currently unable to afford health insurance. President Obama’s comments on the self-employed and health care reform start at the 4:00 mark of this video clip of the interview. The other clips of the interview are also ...
Monday, June 29, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - Every time we ask the self-employed to tell us what’s on their mind, they don’t disappoint. This week, I’ve been knee-deep in efforts surrounding the recent release of our survey on the health reform perspectives of the self-employed. Here are some cool tidbits I learned from the results (print version): The self-employed are following the health care debate like hawks. When asked how many had heard the term “public option” in relation to discussions surrounding reform, two-thirds indicated they were familiar with the term, and of those, 71 percent identified it correctly as “a health ...
Friday, June 26, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Volunteering makes you feel good, and according to this Small Business Trends article, it can also be good for your business. From giving business to other small business owners to teaching your skills to people in your community, author Lisa Barone suggests a bunch of great ways to make new connections, which could lead to new business. What kinds of things have you done in your community lately? Have these activities led to new business or contacts? [Hat tip: Small Business Trends]
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - NASE has jumped from a Facebook group to a Facebook fan page. It's a subtle difference, but one that we think gives a better user experience. On our group, if you posted a question on the wall, it was hard to reply directly to your question. Instead, we had to create a new wall post, but there might be three or four other comments in between your question and our answer. On the fan page, when you post a question or comment, a thread is created, so you can know immediately what others said about ...
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - As all small-business owners know, access to capital and credit is important to running a business. However, the economic downturn has made access almost unattainable as banks are tightening lending standards and cutting lines of credit. According to the National Small Business Association, 59 percent of small businesses were relying on credit cards to help finance their day-to-day operations as of April, up from 44 percent at the end of 2008. Small-business owners have also been spending more on their credit cards, making up 11 percent of revenue for Visa and MasterCard today from 3 ...
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Often times when policymakers are putting together economic recovery and stimulus packages, it is usually micro-business and the self-employed that are left out in the cold. This is not because legislators don’t care about micro-businesses, but rather because they are do not realize that the needs of the self-employed differ greatly from a small business with 25, 50 or 150 employees. In February, President Obama signed into law the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), a stimulus package which included various spending projects and tax cuts to spur our ailing economy. In addition to some ...
Friday, June 19, 2009
The health care reform debate is constantly evolving. Here are some of the week’s top health care headlines to help keep you up-to-date on what’s being said: Q+A - Where Does Health Care Reform Stand In US Congress? (Reuters) Congress Considers Single Payer Health Care System (House Committee on Education and Labor): Lawmakers in the House recently held a hearing to examine the option of a single payer health care system amongst the many proposals for health care reform currently being discussed by legislators. Much of the debate was inspired by a bill that would establish a single payer system ...
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - What a busy day! Awarding $30,000 to a deserving NASE Member and her business made for a hectic and exciting few hours here at the NASE offices today. The staff at the NASE offices had the opportunity to meet our 2009 Achievement Award winner, Tiffany Washington, and her family this morning. Tiffany's parents, grandmothers, 3-year-old son, and Chantelle, the assistant she was able to hire because of how much her business grew from the NASE Business Development Grant she received in 2008, were all on hand to see Tiffany receive her big check. Everyone was ...
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - As of Monday June 15, small businesses will begin accepting applications for loans from the America's Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program. The temporary program will provide loans up to $35,000 for viable small businesses with immediate financial hardship to allow these businesses to stay open while they get back on track. ARC loans are deferred-payment loans for established, viable, for-profit small businesses in need of short-term assistance in making principle and interest payments on existing and qualifying business debt. These loans have no associated SBA fees, are 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA and will ...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Posted by Kristie Arslan - My days, and nights, have recently been spent reading through the 615-page draft version of the health reform bill released by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.  Talk about bedtime reading.   It is a monster of a bill, known as the Affordable Health Choices Act, which will certainly change the way our health care system works today. According to Sen. Kennedy and his colleagues on the committee, health coverage will be a requirement rather than a luxury.  All Americans would be required to purchase a “qualified” health ...
Monday, June 15, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - While any parent would want to be sure that the toys their child is playing with are free of lead and other toxic chemicals, legislation passed to assist in the event of toy recall may put small-business owners out of business. A provision of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) requires that children's products carry a label or permanent mark with manufacturing details.  However, many small toymakers and artisans are frustrated by the complexity of the regulation and may not be able to afford to comply, and the regulations may take effect as early ...
Monday, June 15, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - As any of my friends can tell you, I love cupcakes.  But I have to say it had never occurred to me that cupcakes could help start a small business that had nothing to do with baking.  According to this Wall Street Journal article, entrepreneurs are finding creative ways to raise the money they need for their businesses since loans are still difficult for small-business owners to obtain. From selling cupcakes to turning to friends and neighbors for investments, small-business owners seem to be using innovative ideas to find the funding they need.  Have you ...
Monday, June 15, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - It's one of the best parts of the job -- meeting members whose business has been helped by the NASE. This Thursday, we'll get to meet Tiffany Washington. She received an NASE Business Development Grant last year worth $3,000. She used that money to purchase tax preparation software for her accounting practice, and more than doubled the size of her startup with it. Because of her tremendous success and her goals to continue growing her business, the NASE is awarding Tiffany with an Achievement Award this Thursday. The award isn't just a pat on the ...
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - I read this AP story about high school students having to forgo their dream colleges as I was knee-deep in the NASE scholarship program myself. The story is a disappointing one, about how many students need to go to their second or third choice colleges this year because they are less expensive or offered a larger financial aid package. But the article also made what I've been working on for the past week even more exciting. Late last week I listened in on the phone interviews of the top three candidates for the NASE Future ...
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Check out this cool post from Inc.com on tools for paperless faxing.  These sound like great tools for those entrepreneurs on the go, those that would like to use less paper and save some trees, and everyone in between!
Friday, June 05, 2009
Posted by Kristie Arslan - Since health care reform has risen to the top of the priority list for the Obama Administration and Congress, I spend a lot of my time trying to insert the self-employed perspective into this debate.  I will tell you that often this is not an easy task.  As of late I have been asked quite a bit about the National Association for the Self-Employed’s perspective on mandates. Congress has been batting around the idea of including in a health reform bill an employer mandate, requiring employers to provide and share in the cost of health ...
Friday, June 05, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - I'm not sure quite what it is about the first week in June, but for some reason Washington is buzzing with talk of health care reform.  This week I've been fortunate enough to attend two discussions on health care. On Tuesday at the Brookings Institution I heard Christina Romer, Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, introduce the Council's new report on the economic case for health care reform.  In her comments about the report, Ms. Romer said "we examined the fact that small businesses are currently disadvantaged in the labor market because employer-sponsored ...
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - Tonight, the NASE has to shut down part of its Web site. It's an important part -- the Member log-in area -- and it'll be down for a few days. That's the bad news. For someone like me, who likes to do everything online, it's a drag for me to consider calling the NASE Member Services 800-232-6273 phone number to get information I might need between now and Monday. Things like the phone numbers to favorite benefits, or even to submit a question to one of the NASE business and financial consultants -- I have ...
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - As part of February's American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, eligibility for the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) was expanded to unemployed veterans and unskilled younger workers.  The WOTC offers tax savings to businesses that hire workers belonging to any of 12 targeted groups, including unemployed veterans and unskilled younger workers. Have you hired someone between January 1st, 2009 and July 17th, 2009 that qualifies you for the credit?  Make sure you submit Form 8850 before August 17th to request the required certification for these workers! For more information, details and guidance, check out IRS.gov.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The SBA's Office of Advocacy recently released the latest version of their annual study on lending to small firms.  The study found that for the year ending in June 2008, the rates of small business and micro-business lending were down from the previous one-year period, but were still in positive territory.  The largest increase was in the number of micro-business loans (loans under $100,000), which increased by 15.7 percent. The whole study has detailed and interesting information, but be sure to check out the tables of top lending institutions organized by state and territory.  The ...
Friday, May 29, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 (H.R. 627/S. 414), a bill designed to protect consumers from unsavory practices employed by credit card companies, was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. The NASE was disappointed to see that an important amendment introduced by Senate Small Business Committee leadership, Senators Landrieu (D-La.) and Snowe (R-Maine), failed to pass. The amendment would have extended these protections to the business credit cards of firms with 50 or fewer employees. However, we still applaud the efforts of Congress and the Administration to increase ...
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - This week's member blog comes from Adam Edelman of Refined Technology Solutions, based in Baltmore, Md. Adam has been an NASE Member for six months now, and has owned his business since 2002. Refined Technology Solutions helps small- to mid-size companies grow their business through the integration of marketing and technology. Adam says he started his blog, Marketing on Demand, "to discuss the different ways in which the 'marriage' of marketing and technology can help businesses acquire and keep clients." Started just a year ago, Adam's goal is that "people will see the blog as ...
Friday, May 22, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The House passed a bill on Wednesday by a vote of 361-64 that limits the ability of credit card companies to raise fees and interest rates for credit card holders.  The Senate voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 90-5 on Tuesday.  President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation by the end of the week. While the bill offers protections for consumer credit cards, protections may or may not extend to small business owners depending on how your business is incorporated and the type of card you have. The legislation doesn't apply ...
Friday, May 22, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - What wonderful people! This year’s National Small Business Week was jam-packed with stuff to learn about, people to meet, and old friends with which to reconnect. The conference site was crammed with folks who care enormously about small businesses, either because they own one or they are with organizations/businesses that advocate for them. Our very own Kristie Arslan, Executive Director of our DC office, even attended an event hosted by the White House. I had a great time meeting with smarties like Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch (blog) and Rieva Lesonsky of GrowBiz Media (Q&A). ...
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - We've been hearing a lot lately about "necessity entrepreneurs" - people who might not have been planning on starting a business, but did so after they were laid off. Keith Hall, NASE's National Tax Advisor and the man behind the NASE TaxTalk program, encountered a number of necessity entrepreneurs at the tax seminars he hosted around the country this March. He said that at each seminar, there were always a handful of people filing their business taxes for the first time this year after unexpectedly losing their jobs. The NASE grant review committee commented on ...
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The SBA recently announced that some small businesses suffering financially in the economic downturn may be eligible for a new loan program.  The SBA will begin guaranteeing the America's Recovery Capital (ARC) loans on June 15.  According to an SBA press release: "ARC loans are deferred-payment loans of up to $35,000 available to established, viable, for-profit small businesses that need short-term help to make their principal and interest payments on existing qualifying debt.  ARC loans are interest-free to the borrower, 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA, and have no SBA fees associated with them." SBA Administrator ...
Friday, May 15, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - It seems that SBA Administrtor Karen Gordon Mills has jumped right into work, recently speaking to entrepreneurs and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on the implementation of provisions from the economic stimulus.  Be sure to check back for any news from National Small Business Week!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - National Small Business Week is starting on Sunday, and while some NASE staff will be attending workshops and events here in DC, you can celebrate National Small Business Week no matter where you are thanks to your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Your local SBDC is a great resource throughout the year, with free access to consulting, training and other resources for your business, and many SBDCs are hosting special events during National Small Business Week.  Find your local SBDC for more information on National Small Business Week events and other resources.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - A group of leading health care organizations representing hospitals, private insurers, the medical-device industry, health care union workers and the pharmaceutical industry met with President Obama on Monday to discuss a plan to cut the growth rate of health care costs by 1.5 percent per year over 10 years. The goal has been a vision of Obama’s since the campaign trail and is expected to save American families about $2,500 annually. The groups in attendance were the Advanced Medical Technology Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical ...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - I've worked for the NASE for seven years now, yet I'm still learning new things about the benefits package we offer our small-business members. Last week I met with representatives from Assist America, an NASE benefit. Assist America describes themselves as "global emergency services," but you may not be entirely sure what that entails (I wasn't). And that's too bad, because it's an invaluable service you get for free as an NASE Member. Here's the deal. You travel -- for business, for family vacation, it doesn't matter. You're more than 100 miles from home, something ...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Just because tax season is over doesn't mean the NASE is done thinking about taxes!  The NASE's National Tax Advisor, Keith Hall, testified at the House Small Business Committee's Subcommitee on Finance and Tax hearing on how tax code complexity hinders small business last week. Keith testified before the committee in support of simplification of the tax code and the creation of a standard home office deduction.  Money quote:    “The home office deduction is a prime example of a provision of the tax code that needs simplification. The forms and instructions are too complicated. The paperwork requires too much recordkeeping and takes too ...
Friday, May 08, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - With banks and regulators more concerned with balance sheets than lending and the news that according to the federal government, Bank of America needs to raise a $33.9 billion cushion in case of any further economic downturn, it looks harder and harder for small businesses to gain access to financing they need. What is a business owner to do?  According to a New York Times interview with Doug Tatum, a consultant specializing in the finance issues faced by growing companies, business owners need to stop thinking about borrowing money. Money quote: "Entrepreneurs have a limited amount of bandwidth, and they ...
Friday, May 08, 2009
Posted by Kristin Oberlander - The NASE helps bridge the gap between small-business owners and the media. When you share your personal experiences, you can help bring about positive change for the self-employed and micro-business owners. Plus, you and your business can receive free publicity!                                                                                                                                                   Find out more by clicking here.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - A few weeks ago, I wrote about an experience with an NASE Member -- the creator of the SPIbelt, a product that holds your keys or wallet or iPod while exercising. When one of my colleagues read the post, she ordered one, too. We joke around the office that peer pressure is the best way to motivate others to exercise! And while we have friendly competitions about the pace of our latest 5k, or how many push-ups we can do because we think it's fun, it's ultimately really good for our employer, too.   The cost ...
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - I loved this post from Small Business Trends: "Now is the Time to Get Free Publicity for Your Product in Holiday Gift Guides." Who's thinking about the holidays when the tulips are blooming, the days are getting longer and the jackets are coming off? Smart small-business owners, that's who. Are you considering pitching your product in a holiday guide this year? Tell us about it.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Small Business Administration has implemented a temporary alternate size standard for small businesses looking for access to capital through the agency's 7(a) loan program.  The 7(a) loan program is the SBA's largest lending program.  The alternate standard will be in effect from May 2009 through September 30, 2010.   The SBA estimates that more than 70,000 small businesses will be eligible for loans through the temporary alternate size standard.  The temporary standard will allow businesses to qualify for the 7(a) loan program based on net worth and average income, with those not exceeding $8.5 ...
Friday, May 01, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - The Senate filled the last vacancy in Present Obama’s Cabinet on Tuesday by voting to confirm Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Sebelius, a Democrat, was confirmed by a vote of 65-31. As HHS Secretary, Sebelius will oversee the government’s largest health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and control a budget of over $600 billion. Soon after being sworn in, Sebelius was already at work helping with the government's response to the swine flu outbreak. Sebelius will also be spearheading the President's plan for health care ...
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Posted by Maureen Petron - Just because the NASE is relatively new to blogging doesn't mean that our members are! That's why we're starting a Member Blog of the Week series here on NASE on Micro-Business. We want to learn about your business and how you're using your blog to promote your business. Is your blog linking to other social media like Twitter or Facebook? Let us know!  Put a link to your blog with your name in the comments of this post if you want to be considered as a featured Member Blog of the Week! We start this ...
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - Briefly noted: The extension of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage under COBRA as part of the economic stimulus bill goes into effect this week.  Firms with 20 or more employees are responsible for 65 percent of health insurance premiums for former employees for up to nine months.  The IRS has information to help employers claim credit for these payments.    President Obama's task force may be looking into changing SBA guidelines so that car dealerships could qualify for SBA loans.  While tens of thousands of dealerships are at risk of closing, the average dealer has revenues of $40-45 ...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Posted by Molly Nelson - While turning off lights and adjusting the thermostat when you leave the house can be simple but impactful ways to save energy, what is a small business owner with a home office to do?  Since a home office that is unlit and at an uncomfortable temperature doesn't sound like the most comfortable working environment, the Environmental Protection Agency has released some helpful tips on greening your home office without sacrificing productivity. Even if you were too busy to make it outside and plant a tree for Earth Day this week, remember that little things like recycling or using a bit less ...