Is The New Tax Bill Favorable To Your Business?

With the ups and downs of small business optimism index this year, October saw a small upward trend again and once again small business owners believe now is the time to expand, and hire.   They believe sales will keep increasing and the economy as a whole.

The retail industry sees an increase in sales due to the holiday season, and as a small shop owner, sales do increase dramatically.  The question now is whether the sales will keep up after the holidays are over and Americans settle to their business as usual, or whether they will again go back to the normal pre-holiday sales. The index may again adjust itself to reflect the normal optimism before this holiday rush.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


8 small business losers under Republicans’ tax bill

If you’re a small business owner hoping to get a tax cut under the proposed Republican tax reform, pay close attention. While there will be a few small business winners, most owners will see no benefit, and you might be one of the many losers.

While both the House and Senate bills are still subject to revision, both contain a provision directly aimed at small businesses. And it’s got a whopper of a bait-and-switch.

Whenever you hear them talking about lowering the rate on “pass through” income — the kind almost all small business owners report — remember this: It won’t lower taxes on at least 70% of the money you make. It won’t help the overwhelming bulk of small businesses.

How did we get here?

During the Presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised to lower business taxes.   But he meant “corporate” taxes — with a new lower rate applicable only to “C” corporations, generally the largest businesses.


NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Inches Up In October

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for October came in at 103.8, up 0.8 from the previous month. The index is at the 93rd percentile in this series. Today’s number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 104.2.

Here is an excerpt from the opening summary of the news release:

More small business owners last month said they expect higher sales and think that now is a good time to expand, according to the October NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

“Owners became much more positive about the economic environment last month, which suggests a longer-run view,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In the nearer term, they are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year.”

The first chart below highlights the 1986 baseline level of 100 and includes some labels to help us visualize that dramatic change in small business sentiment that accompanied the Great Financial Crisis. Compare, for example, the relative resilience of the index during the 2000-2003 collapse of the Tech Bubble with the far weaker readings following the Great Recession that ended in June 2009.


Modified House tax bill hits right notes for small businesses

The House is expected this week to pass the most comprehensive tax reform in more than 30 years. The measure is aimed at boosting the U.S. economy, mainly by reducing taxes on businesses. The Senate introduced its plan last week, which leaders expect to pass before the end of the year.

The respective versions will have to be reconciled, and potential obstacles remain, but the elusive goal of tax reform is within reach. Every American has a stake in the success of this effort, for no other public goal is possible, including national security, better public education or a modernized infrastructure, without stronger, faster economic growth.


 

Small Business and Funding

When the time comes for small business owners to finance a part of their business through a loan, things can get quite complicated.  Many banks – especially for small businesses- look into your personal finances to see if you have the credit and trustworthiness to hand you money. Personal credit scores and ending balances for the month in your checking account means something for the banks, and being aware of that fact can make your chances of getting a loan much greater.

For this and other stories, follow the links below.


The GOP says its business tax plan will help workers and small businesses. It won’t.

Instead, it’s a gift to people with lots of capital.

To understand the business tax provisions in the Trump tax proposals, begin with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s insight that the rich are different from you and me — they have more money.

In particular, they have more capital. (Ever polite, economists call piles of money that have been invested “capital.”) Business tax reform really is an exercise in how we should tax capital income — that is, returns on investments. And because the rich have lots more capital than do you or I, the benefits of the multitrillion-dollar business tax cuts proposed by the Trump administration’s tax “framework” necessarily will be vacuumed up by the most affluent Americans. Business tax reform has only a modest connection to the economic future of working stiffs, and the small connection that does exist is a second-order effect.


Small business jobs hurt as hurricanes close retailers

NEW YORK — Hurricanes that swept the southern U.S. last month shut many retailers and put hiring on hold at small businesses.

That’s the finding of payroll provider ADP, which said Wednesday that its small business customers cut 7,000 jobs during September. Many small and independent retailers in Texas and Florida had to close before and during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and many suffered significant damage from wind, rain and flooding. That slowed hiring, and employees at some stores were laid off. The Labor Department reported a jump in applications for unemployment benefits following the storms.

The hurricanes also curtailed overall hiring, ADP said, counting 135,000 new jobs at companies of all sizes, the smallest gain in nearly a year. Without the storm, hiring would likely have been closer to the average monthly pace of 185,000 for the last two years, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which helps compile the ADP reports.


7 Things About Funding Sources that Small Business Owners Don’t Know — But Should

Getting funding for your small business is essential but not always as straightforward as you might think. Here are 7 things about funding sources you might not know about but should.

Small Business Funding Facts

You Need to Keep a Positive Ending Balance

Hanna Kassis works for Segway Financial. He says a small business should not only have money in a bank account before they apply for a loan, but a specific amount at month’s end.

“Lenders want to see that you’ve got a positive ending balance,” he says. “Say you’re anticipating needing a merchant cash advance at the end of the month, go put $500 dollars in your bank account.”

Your Personal Credit Score Affects Your Business Financing


 

Small Business News And Information

We must not believe in polls or pollsters ever again, or at least for the near future.  Predictions were wrong when pollsters assured us of an imminent victory for  Hillary Clinton. And, according to them, small business owners’ optimism before the election was assuredly flat.  After the election, the pollsters tell us small business owner’s optimism is soaring. It is soaring so much that despite their great optimism about the new president elect, they are holding onto investing, waiting to see what it’s going to happen when he actually takes office.  As is everyone.

Follow the links for more about this and other stories.


One key thing is missing from small business owners’ euphoria over Trump’s win

Several surveys show that President-elect Donald Trump’s win was a confidence boost for business owners. However, they’re not immediately planning to invest more.

On Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business’ report on small businesses continued this trend.

“What a difference a day makes,” said Juanita Duggan, the NFIB CEO, in the release. “Before election day small business owners’ optimism was flat, and after election day it soared.”

The headline Small Business Optimism Index jumped by 3.5 points to 98.4. Like Wall Street, small business owners are betting that Trump’s promises to ease regulations and cut taxes would support their bottom lines.

In fact, compared to the bigger companies — whose shares have rallied since the election — small business owners  are likely more excited about these prospects because they have less muscle to cope in the current environment.


8 Powerful Ways to Market Your Business on a Limited Budget

When money is tight, think outside the box.

According to HubSpot, the third top marketing challenge for companies is the lack of budgeting resources. Unless you are a startup with venture or angel capital, you probably have a limited marketing budget. Here some ways you can market your business on a limited budget.

1. Go guerilla.

Guerilla marketing looks to leverage creativity, imagination and originality in place of a big budget. Smart small businesses with a limited budget often use guerilla marketing to compete with huge companies. There is no shortage of creative guerilla marketing ideas. Here are just a few examples:


In the shadow of Trump Tower, small businesses suffer

The holiday season is typically a busy one for Judge Roy Bean Public House in midtown Manhattan.

The bar and restaurant had been on a solid run, up 20 percent overall for the year, and owner Peter Pernicone had high hopes for strong sales to close out 2016.

Then came Election Day.

The small business is located in the shadow of Trump Tower on West 56th Street, which is now swarmed with New York police officers and Secret Service agents, guarding President-elect Donald Trump as he makes the transition from businessman to commander-in-chief.

“For November, we’re down 30 percent,” Pernicone said. “They’re keeping the streets open, then closing them down. There’s no rhyme or reason. We don’t know what to expect. The police presence on the corner has been intimidating, and tourists are scared to walk down 56th street.”


 

It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Brand (Part 1)

business (2)It used to be small business owners could avoid all the talk about brands and branding.  No one knew if the concept was just hype that would eventually fade – like many business ideas – or if it was going to be around for a while.  Well, it’s here to stay and you can’t ignore it any longer.

In fact, if you’re like most owners, you’ve ignored it for too long all ready.  It’s time to get serious about developing your brand.  The more mainstream the concept is the more your customers expect it.  More and more often how you create and manage your brand will be directly linked with your sales.

The idea of creating a brand for their business is confusing to a lot of owners, mainly because they think of branding as an “it”.  They believe a thing (i.e. website, logo, catch phrase, product, service) is the brand.  But, it isn’t a thing.  Your brand is how the customer perceives and experiences your company.

The experience is composted of and produced by several different components, which make up the whole.  These parts, when put all together, create an image or idea about the business in general and its products specifically.  Let’s look at an example of how the parts of a brand contribute to how it’s perceived by its target audience. 

What do you think when you see the word Nike – the Wimbledon short dresses controversy, funny/inspiring/stupid commercials, football, shoes, a surprise announcement to discontinue its golf equipment, swopes, Olympics, Iron Nun, how hard it is to navigate the web site on your phone?  Each piece contributes to Nike’s general brand, both the good and bad.

The need to create a brand can seem overwhelming.  If you’re like most owners, you’re probably having trouble keeping up with all the other things a business needs (production, regulation, finances, quality, personal).  But, it doesn’t have to be difficult or mystifying.

It’s nothing more than a comprehensive, “whole package” way of selling.  The way to create a brand is to break the process down into small manageable pieces that you, your employees or other professionals can do over time.  Part 2 of this series will look at the specific components you’ll need to put this package together.

Small Business News For The Entrepreneur

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It seems that after so many months of uncertainty about the US economy, reports are becoming more encouraging for the US. A  Deutsche Bank strategist writes that in the last past two weeks the US market has surprisingly jumped into positive territory for the first time in almost two years.

With more jobs in manufacturing and services, the result should be a positive economic growth for the small business owner as well.

To read more about this and other  stories, follow the links below.


How These Entrepreneurs Are Living the Startup Life 24/7

If you occasionally get nostalgic for college – missing its around-the-clock access to homework help and social outlets — or if you’re tired of the lonely business owner’s life, you may be captivated by the idea of living with a group of entrepreneurs. But could you take the constant stream of ideas, the high energy, the 24/7 lifestyle? To some, such as Chandler Bolt, this living situation is nothing short of a profitable dream come true.

Bolt, the founder of Self-Publishing School, has lived in San Diego for the last year with four other super smart and motivated online entrepreneurs. The goal in creating the living arrangement was to create an intentional community of likeminded business people intent on improving every level of their lives – from physical to financial.

“I thought, ‘Why not put five people in a house?’” Bolt, said. “I thrive best when there’s work going on around me – knowing there’s stuff always happening.”


12 tips for creating a must-read business blog

Business owners, bloggers and online marketers discuss what small businesses can do to drive traffic to their blogs, increase their page views and keep readers coming back for more.

Too often business owners start blogging in the hope that it will drive traffic to their business, only to quickly fall into the trap of posting stale or sales-heavy content that gets no or few views. Then they become frustrated and either blog less frequently or abandon their blog, wondering why they bothered.

1. Think about and write for your target audience. “Think about the audience you are trying to attract to your blog and share content that is relevant, interesting and valuable to that specific demographic,” says Arsineh Ghazarian, cofounder & CEO, Zveil.

July Small Business Job Growth Is Positive, Paychex CEO Mucci Tells CNBC

Paychex (PAYX) CEO Martin Mucci discussed the country’s July small business job growth, which slowed from last month, on CNBC today.

Entrepreneurship – What Kind of Smart Are You?

business (7)There used to be only one kind of “smart”.  You took a test which measured your intelligence quotient (IQ) and were assigned a number based on the results.  The higher the number, the smarter you were and the more likely you were to be a success.  Fortunately, that way of thinking is now known to be flat out wrong.

We all know someone who is book smart, but no one can work with her because she’s completely clueless on how to interact with people.  Then there’s the charming, personality guy who doesn’t know how to turn a profit.  There are many kinds of intelligence. 

Word smart

Word smart people know how to communicate their ideas, visions and goals, which inspires others to support them. They’re able to create loyalty in employees, sell customers, write business plans, teach using funny and interesting stories, influence important people and raise money from investors.

Words matter.  Lack of communication, across the board in all industries, is the biggest complaint workers have about their bosses. It’s a fundamental part of human nature to want to know what’s going on and, more importantly, how we’re going to be affected by it.

Self smart

One of the abilities of the self smart person is the capacity to understand herself (i.e. motivations, limitations, strong points, fears, hopes, wants vs. needs, drives) through others’ eyes.  It’s impossible for us to see ourselves as others see us, we all have blind spots.  Some peoples’ spots are much larger than others – you know who they are. 

Successful entrepreneurs welcome people who challenge them, who “call them on their s***”.  Self smart people seek out feedback from others, it gives them insight, which they use to learn, grow and move forward. 

Number smart

Successful people comprehend profit, loss and margins.  They use financial information to make decisions and do their planning.  This occurs over the life span of the company, beginning with start-up costs and ending with exit strategies.

The lack of number smarts is the biggest problem most entrepreneurs have.  It’s estimated that 80% of businesses fail in the first 5 years because the owners weren’t aware of or didn’t care how vital it is to know and do the math. 

People smart

This kind of smart is having good social or people skills. It’s being able to read and interact with all types of individuals.  These are people who’re energized by and like to work with others. 

Their knack of effectively interacting with people shouldn’t be confused with an ability to communicate (word smart).  They often talk at, rather than with others.  They’re the personable “glad handers” who can efficiently work a group without really saying anything.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur it helps to know which kinds of intelligence are your strengths and which are your weaknesses.  You can focus on your positives and learn to overcome or compensate for your negatives.  The more you know about them the better chance you have of achieving your goals. 


2016 Small Business Outlook

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What’s your outlook for 2016? Did the interest rate increase change your outlook for 2016? Have some of the business decisions for next year changed, because of this increase?  Many business analysts believe small business owners are looking forward to a better 2016 despite the rate increase and a slow economy that didn’t see an increase in their revenues. At the end of the year though when many small business owners are reflecting about what they did right and what went wrong during the year, they are also planning about the next year, and so far the outlook is positive.

For more about this follow the links below.


Paid Leave Policies Can Level the Playing Field for Small Business

The fourth quarter is the busiest time of year for most small business owners. Many of them are working overtime to meet the holiday rush and tie up loose ends before the new year–which means they’re leaning more than ever on their employees to help get things done. This busy season reinforces what small business owners already know: good employees are their best assets, and keeping workers happy and healthy is key to a strong bottom line. Small business owners can take many different steps to retain talented and productive employees, like offering higher wages or health insurance. But what many people may not know is that paid leave can be an effective benefit to help attract and retain a talented workforce.

Paid leave has been a hot topic at the national and local level. Lawmakers around the country are weighing initiatives to allow workers to earn paid sick days or implement family medical leave insurance pools. Maryland’s Montgomery County recently approved a law allowing employees to accrue a limited number of paid sick days, and in the beltway, D.C. is weighing a law that would establish an insurance pool to provide up to 16 weeks of paid family leave.


Small Business Owners Bullish on 2016 Outlook

Small business owners are charging full speed ahead into 2016 despite some concerns over growth in the last year.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Business Index, which is measured each economic quarter and measures small business owner optimism, says the overall index score fell by several points in 4Q. The report attributes the decline to a drop in the number of small business owners reporting increases in revenue.

While small business owners may feel somewhat negative about their progress (or lack thereof) in 2015, The Bank of America (BAC)Small Business Report says 78% plan to grow their business over the next five years, compared to 67% a year ago.

“There was a marked jump over a year ago, and while Millennials continue to be the most optimistic generation, there was notable increase across the board,” said Bank of America Small Business Executive Robb Hilson.


With 2016, we small-business owners get another chance to do it better

For all the good that happened in my business this year, 2015 also brought its share of frustrations.

Twenty-fifteen, you’ve been a good year, but I can’t say I’m altogether sad to see you go.

We had some great times, like the September afternoon when a client called from out of the blue to propose a much bigger contract. Wow! I felt on top of the world that day.

You also taught me some key lessons about business, and I finally broke free of a vendor relationship that simply wasn’t working for me. Looking back, I wonder why I stayed so long, and I am now much happier in my new arrangement.And then there was the economy. I can’t speak for others, but 2015 was the year I finally saw the unmistakable signs of a robust recovery, not the slow gains I’d seen in previous years emerging from the Great Recession.


Ohio Job Growth, Outsourcing, and Health Costs

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Many small business paying for health insurance coverage for their employees have seen an increase in their premiums year after year, and they expect 2016 will not be any different. And although paying for health insurance coverage for their employees is an expense that keeps increasing, the alternative is not something they are considering doing.  To retain or attract top workers for their companies, the incentives they offer are as important as the salaries they promise.

For more about this and other news follow the links below.


Should your small business outsource IT?

Depends on how small a business it is.

To outsource or not to outsource, that is the question many small businesses struggle with.

For certain support tasks, like payroll, outsourcing is universally considered the small business protein shake: without it there’s no way to compete with the big guys. But for other business functions, outsourcing is more like the candy bar: it’s tasty at first, but in the end, there’s little real benefit.

IT was once considered a no-brainer for small business to outsource. After all, good IT is expensive and hard to find. Why further stress a fragile revenue stream with another salary?

But in more recent years, IT evolved from a purely supportive department to an integrated revenue driver. For companies who rely on their IT for innovation, outsourcing IT is not a no-brainer; it’s unthinkable.

So what is right for small business: outsourced IT or an internal department? Let’s examine what they need to consider.


Small business health costs: Up this year and next?

The vast majority of small businesses are paying more for health insurance for their employees under the health care law, and many expect their costs to keep going up next year, according to a survey by the advocacy group National Small Business Association.

Ninety percent of the 810 owners surveyed said their costs are up in 2015 over last year, and 84 percent expect to pay more in 2016.

The number of companies that offer health benefits to their employees fell 5 percent to 65 percent this year from 2014, the survey found. The largest decline came in companies with 10 to 20 staffers; 73 percent are offering benefits versus 86 percent last year.

But nearly half the owners provide health insurance to more than 80 percent of their workers. Almost all the owners — 94 percent — believe offering health insurance is important to recruit or retain top workers.


Local entrepreneurs report growth, job gains

COLUMBUS — The Columbus chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s annual EO Global Entrepreneur Indicator shows overall growth and opportunity in central Ohio.

The indicator is intended to reflect top Columbus entrepreneurs’ economic experience during the past six months and their outlook for the coming six months.

Seventy-five percent of those involved in the Columbus survey say employment rose in the past six months; the numbers were 70 percent in Cleveland, 56.8 percent in Cincinnati and 58.3 percent globally.

However, only 60.7 percent of those surveyed locally expect an increase in hiring over the coming six months. That’s in contrast to 80 percent in Cleveland, 67.6 percent in Cincinnati and 62.8 percent globally.

Those surveyed in Columbus reported strong profit and revenue numbers both in the past six months and in their outlook for the coming months, besting the percentages of the other Ohio cities’ entrepreneurs in most cases.


Learning to “Do the Math” May Save Your Business

business (5)Remember when you were in high school and complaining about math class?  What was it you said, “I’ll never need this stuff in the real world?”  Well, now that you’re the owner of a small business, depending on your product or service, when it comes to geometry you still might be right.  But, when it comes to other types of math, and the need for them, you were mistaken.

Being able to “do the math” matters.  So much so, that it can be the difference between having a successful or unsuccessful company.  The stories of seemly successful businesses — ones with good products or services, clients and a well known brand — closing because of bad financial management are legion.

One of the biggest mistakes 90% of owners make is not knowing or understanding the importance of their numbers.  They don’t know if or which of their customers generate a profit, nor do they know how much a profit it is.  They don’t understand a fundamental concept — if you don’t have a profit margin, you can’t sustain a business.

The margin is simply how much out of every dollar a business earns it actually gets to keep.  For example: $1.00 (earned) minus $.90 (expenses) equals $.10 (profit).  The profit margin is 10%.  Many owners keep investing money, not understanding this straightforward tenet, hoping to “get the company on its feet”.  However, there’s no reasonable, mathematical way for that to happen if there’s no profit (margins can be either positive or negative). 

Owners should always know their margins, if they’re positive or negative at the very least, because the volume of a business doesn’t give an accurate picture of its financial health.  A company with $5 million in revenue can actually be losing money if it has a negative margin.  Let’s do the math for the fictional ABC Company.

In 2012 ABC had a net income (money they got to keep) of $500,000 from sales of $5 million, which gave it a profit margin of 10% ($500,000 divided by $5 million).  In 2013 they got a new customer, which increased costs.  But, because they ball parked the bid instead of doing the math, they made $500,000 again, only it was on sales of $5.5 million, resulting in a 9% margin. 

In 2014 the client offered ABC more business, which they took once more without running the numbers.  Again, expenses increased resulting in the same net income of $500,000 on $6 million, about an 8% profit.  So while the company increased its volume by a million dollars over 2 years, it actually reduced its returns.  Some businesses become so upside down they can’t get out of the hole they’ve dug, because selling more puts them further in the red.

Unfortunately, thousands of businesses have closed due to this phenomenon — even though they had customers and money coming in their margins weren’t good enough to sustain them.  The math is irrefutable, your product or service can’t cost more to produce than what you’re charging for it, and the only way to know that is to figure it out.


Minority Owned Businesses and Gov. Kasich’s Budget

54642287Minority owned businesses have increased over recent years, and the US government knows the important growth these businesses provide to their local economies, and the nation’s economy  overall.  The increased in minority owned businesses have more than double compared to those of non-minorities nationally, and the City of Cincinnati, Ohio is now looking into promoting the inclusion of minority owned businesses for the State.  To read more about this and other topics follow the links below.


Ohio House Markedly Improves On Gov. Kasich’s Budget Plan

Last week, Ohio House leadership introduced a substitute bill to Governor Kasich’s proposed budget that would make many notable improvements to the tax plan. This is good news, because the proposed tax plan that came from the Kasich administration was deeply in conflict with itself.

The central element of the governor’s proposal was to reduce the individual income tax, which Kasich argues has “sucked the vitality out of this state.” The internal conflict, however, came from the revenue offsets the governor chose, which would have placed greater hindrances on, well, economic vitality. When first details emerged, I wrote on Forbes that the governor’s plan may be a tax cut overall, but that doesn’t make it good policy.

The governor’s proposed hikes included an increase in the state’s unique Commercial Activity Tax (arguably the most distortive tax in Ohio’s code), a hike to cigarette taxes, new taxes on electronic vapor cigarettes, hikes in the severance tax, and a hike to the sales tax. When done correctly, tax swaps can reduce highly harmful taxes while offsetting revenue losses by leaning on less distortive taxes. The Kasich proposal, by contrast, leaned on economically distortive, nontransparent taxes to make the ledger balance.


Here’s how Cincinnati is pushing for minority-business inclusion (Video)


Sorry, small business: Middle-market companies create most net new jobs

Companies with revenue between $10 million and $1 billion created 2.1 million out of the net 2.3 million new jobs added over the past seven years, according to an American Express/Dun & Bradstreet analysis.

Maybe it’s time for politicians to drop their rhetoric about small businesses creating most of America’s new jobs — since 2008, it’s actually been middle-market companies that have driven job growth.

That’s according to a new analysis from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. It found that middle-market companies — businesses with revenue between $10 million and $1 billion — created 2.1 million of the 2.3 million net new jobs added over the past seven years.

Middle-market companies “have been the unsung heroes of employment growth,” said Susan Sobbott, president of global corporate payments for American Express.