Do You Know How Your Small Business Is Doing?

Some of the least enjoyable tasks a small business owner must do is managing their books or creating financial reports.  These chores can also be detrimental to the health of any business if they are not done properly or not done frequently enough.  With all the other tasks small business owners do on a daily basis, accounting should probably not be one of them.  There are too many pitfalls for a small business owner to perform their own accounting, and can prove to be financially irresponsible not to have an accountant  do them for them.

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


Survey: small business owners remain optimistic about growth

Small business owners are largely optimistic about their ability to grow business and raise revenue in the year ahead, mirroring Wall Street’s sanguine outlook, according to a new index survey released Wednesday.

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index produced a score of 60.6. That means 60.6% of small business owners currently have “a positive outlook for their company and the environment in which they operate,” according to a statement from the insurance company and the business advocacy group, which plan to update the index every quarter. The survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 small business owners and operators.

A similar percentage of respondents, 60%, expect revenue to rise in the year ahead, compared to 9% who forecast a revenue decline. But they weren’t as eager about boosting their payrolls. About a third of them said they plan to hire more employees, while a majority said they’ll retain their current staffing levels.


Small business owner: Here’s how not to be a starving artist

You live for your art. Every day, you paint or compose music or write short stories or make beautiful hand-crafted objects. But every day, you also need to eat.

If you aren’t  engaging in your art just for pleasure, you’re not only an artist, you’re a small business owner. And if so, it’s all the more important that you realize that starving artists don’t actually last very long.

Here’s a dirty little secret of successful artists: You have to plan on how to make money. Many creative types believe (wrongfully) that if they just pursue their art, the world will discover them, and they’ll become rich, or at least they won’t starve. If only that were true.

Whether you work for yourself or are hired by other companies, especially as a freelancer, here are five tricks to be smart about your art.


Voices 3 key small business questions CPAs must be able to answer

Probably the number one question most clients want to know from their tax professional is, “How much do I owe?” But that’s just the beginning for many small business clients who want their accounting professional’s advice on a variety of business-related questions.

Being able to answer these key questions can help you build a richer relationship that can lead to higher client satisfaction, retention and referrals.

1. How is my business really doing?

Owning a small business can be a lonely proposition; entrepreneurs often feel that nobody really understands their business and the challenges it faces. Their accounting professional often comes the closest, and is someone who can provide real insights.

“I love asking my accounting firm what their thoughts are on my financials,” said Allen Walton, founder of SpyGuySecurity.com. He’s built a multi-million-dollar company in just three years, and worked with a bookkeeper from the beginning, but just hired a CPA last year. With such fast growth, he wants to know whether his business looks healthy and whether there are any areas of concern.


 

Small Business Lending

Looking for a new small business loan?  How about Free business tools for your business?

According to new reports, the loan approval rate has increased this last past month to an all time high.  Which means, it’s a good time for you to apply for that new business loan you were hoping to get. 

Looking for new ways to grow your business?  There are twenty business tools for free you should be using if you want to grow your business.  From shopping carts to accounting apps, these free business tools can make your business a bit less difficult.

To read more, follow the links below.


Small Business Lending at Big Banks is On the Rebound, Says Biz2Credit

Loan approval rates at big banks rebounded after a setback month, the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index has revealed.

Biz2Credit Lending Index April 2017

Big Banks, Small Banks and Institutional Lenders Give Businesses a Reason to Cheer

According to the newly published report, loan approval rates at big banks grew by two-tenths of a percent to a new all-time index high of 24.3 percent. This marked recovery from last month’s stagnant percentage, which ended a seven-month streak of increases.

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO said, “Recent interest rate hikes and the Fed’s announcement that it will start unwinding the $4.5 trillion in bonds on its balance sheets signals a strong economy. Since most small business loans are tied to U.S. prime interest rates, there will be more incentives for banks to approve loan requests as lending in this sector will be more profitable.”


Billionaire Richard Branson reveals his best tips for making great business decisions

If Richard Branson is your dream mentor, you’re in luck — the billionaire entrepreneur just revealed some of his best tips for making business decisions.

Everyone knows how important first impressions are when meeting someone — in fact the subconscious decisions people make within a tenth of a second are so strong that often contradictory facts can’t change them. But you have to fight the urge to rely first impressions when it comes to business decisions, says Branson. “You mustn’t allow that first reaction to influence your ability to objectively weigh the cons as well as all the pros when they are presented,” he advises.

Branson also suggests uncovering an idea or project’s “hidden warts.” They’re there, he assures, because nothing is perfect. You want to know about them early in the decision-making process while you still have the time and ability to deal with the issues. According to Branson, more learning is almost always better, just don’t get into “‘paralysis by analysis’ mode,” he says. At some point you have to decide, “screw it, let’s do it,” as he’s famous for saying.


20 Free Tools Your Small Business Should Be Using Today

Software doesn’t have to be expensive for small to midsize businesses. To help you celebrate National Small Business Week, here are 20 free tools to get your SMB up and running.

Although your small business needs a healthy amount of software to conduct operations, it’s not necessary for you to spend a fortune on web-based products. In our comprehensive testing of business and consumer software, we’ve come across dozens of incredible and free solutions that can help you get the job done. We’ve tested free tools in almost all facets of business — from email marketing to endpoint protection to project management.

To help you celebrate National Small Business Week this week, we’ve compiled this list of 20 free tools that your small business should be using. Fortunately for you, all of the software listed below offer premium versions to which you can upgrade once your business grows. So don’t shy away from the products on this list under the false assumption that you will eventually scale out of this category.


 

Best Cities For Small Businesses. Where Are They?

Even though the number of added jobs for the first quarter of 2017 was not what analysts were expecting, the fact that businesses — if not hiring yet-are compensating employees with higher wages or other type of incentives is good for the economy.

The optimism small business owners indicated were feeling at the beginning of this administration, has not translated completely to added jobs.  When the second quarter arrives, we hope to have a clearer view of added jobs that will boost the optimism of the small business owner for 2017.

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


The best city for small business in America is not in Silicon Valley

New York City surpassed Silicon Valley to become the top city for small business, according to Biz2Credit’s annual study of the Top Small Business Cities in America. New York’s growth has been fueled by the booming real estate market and the construction industry, banking and finance (including fintech), and the city’s thriving technology sector.

New York City overtook last year’s small-business city leader, San Jose, the hub of Silicon Valley, which dropped to the No. 4 spot on the list. Technology companies in Silicon Valley are still thriving, but it’s the supplementary companies that are faced with challenges of growing. The skyrocketing cost of living in Silicon Valley impedes the profits of many firms. Commercial rents, housing and labor costs weigh down non-tech businesses dramatically. Furthermore, taxes are higher in California, in general. Lacking that economic balance in the area has prevented San Jose from reigning as the leader in top small-business cities this year.


Small businesses hired fewer workers in April but gave their employees raises, Paychex survey shows

Small business hiring fell in April, but wages continued to rise for workers, a report by human resources firm Paychex said Tuesday.

The Small Business Jobs Index decreased 0.22 percent from the previous month to 100.50. The pace of small business employment growth is down 0.27 percent from a year ago, the company said.

“The decline in the April index mirrors what was reported last month by (the Bureau of Labor Statistics), which showed deceleration of job growth,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “At the same time, the wage report shows continued growth in both hourly earnings and hours worked over the past year.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that nonfarm payrolls grew less than expected, but average hourly earnings were up by 2.7 percent on an annualized basis.

Paychex said national hourly earnings for the month were $25.67, increasing 2.73 percent, or 68 cents, from last year. Weekly earnings were up 2.92 percent from last year.


These 4 tips will help small business owners drastically boost their earnings this year

Whether you’re running an established small business or just starting your journey toward entrepreneurship, it’s safe to assume most business owners are on the hunt for new ways to grow their enterprise and improve their bottom line.

And we should all want to help them do so. Why? According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses create nearly 70 percent of net new jobs nationally, and drive tremendous growth in our local economies. When small businesses flourish, everyone wins.

My father-in-law is a small business owner. As a result, I have seen first-hand the sacrifices they make on a daily basis, and am driven to design products and provide resources to help small businesses meet their goals and fulfill their dreams.

 In honor of National Small Business Week, here are four ways small business owners (SBOs) can drive business growth this year.


Is Online Advertising Working For You?

For some small business owners, online advertising seems to be a no brainer.  You can use Facebook ads to advertise your business or products, you pay the fees, and you wait for the results to start coming. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Facebook advertising takes work.  You must consistently test what is working for your particular business, before you can actually get any results.  It is true that for some businesses you do not have to do too much for the ads to work, but for the majority of small businesses, testing your ads to see if they are reaching the right audience, seems to be the only way to go. 


62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say Facebook Ads Don’t Work

Are Facebook ads ineffective, or is the problem user error?

In January 2017, Small Business Trends released the results of a survey of over 2,600 small-business owners, revealing that 62 percent of them believe Facebook ads are ineffective. With complaints of little-to-no ROI, these entrepreneurs say they will not use Facebook advertising again. Some experts, however, challenge this viewpoint, saying that properly targeted Facebook ads do indeed provide results.

“When businesses don’t see the results they hope for, it’s usually because they haven’t done enough testing on their ad copy, visuals, and the ideal combination of information to target the right audience,” says Vitruvian Digital Advertising founder Kristie McDonald.

Jeanine Blackwell, founder of The Launch Lab, agrees, saying that marketers aren’t asking themselves the right questions to determine an effective target market for their ad campaigns. “The problem is that most advertisers only use the simplest of criteria to let Facebook know who they want to see their ads, such as gender, age, and income,” says Blackwell.


The Best Accountability For Small Business Owners

When Beth Savage became the owner of PQ Systems, the first thing she did was put together an outside board. “Why not have a board that is there for the sole reason of helping you and your team succeed?” says Beth.

Many business owners are reluctant to create an outside board. Some believe that their company is unique, and a board of outsiders wouldn’t work for their company.

Others rationalize that they already get enough advice from employees, family members, and paid advisors—such as their attorney, accountant or bankers. Still others can’t see the purpose, and they want to hold on to what they see as their autonomy.


Abrams: Sexy small business start-ups

Looking for a small business start-up idea? You might want to look to the bedroom. Because, and I know this may shock you, sex sells.

Romance has been around since, well, Adam and Eve. Businesses related to romance continue to do well and are increasingly mainstream. This past Valentine’s Day, even Burger King got in the act. For a very limited time and only in Israel, the fast food chain included a sex toy in an “Adult Meal.” The story spread like wildfire on social media because who can resist anything to do with sex?

While most sex-based businesses are small businesses, they typically seem seedy and are, often, exploitative. But here are some sex and romance-related small business ideas you that can still tell your grandma about and that won’t land you in jail:

1. Online dating site profile writer. Ask people how they met their partner, and the most frequent response you’ll hear is “online.” But few people know how to write appealing dating site profiles. My senior editor, however, met the man of her dreams on OKCupid. “Before we write anything at work, we research,” she said. “I thought I better do the same thing.” So she figured out how to write a witty, quirky profile, which attracted her perfect match. Friends then started asking her to write their profiles. “This could be a full-time business.” If your customers break up, they need to update their profiles, which means repeat business.


 

Small Business News

News about the high optimism of small business owners  regarding the economy across the US, seem to be a hot topic of conversation. Despite the incertitude of many of the issues affecting the small business community, the optimism according to media outlets seems to be high. The promise of a quick repeal to Obamacare has some small business owners wondering whether this is going to be a good move for them.  For more about this and other stories affecting the small business community, follow the links below.


Small-business owners are full of questions and regrets about the end of Obamacare

With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act likely but its replacement uncertain, small-business owners are weighing their options for the future.

More details may come Tuesday evening when President Trump makes his first address to both houses of Congress as commander-in-chief.

Trump took executive action on January 20 to “ease the burden” of the Affordable Care Act and formally announced the administration’s policy to “seek the prompt repeal” of the law. However, doing so with any speed has proven difficult. The president told a meeting of the nation’s governors on Monday, “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

Dirk Bak is simply hoping for cost controls. His business, SDQ Janitorial in Minnetonka, Minn., has been family-owned for 34 years and had been offering its nearly 200 full-time workers coverage even before the ACA became law.

A great majority of our nation’s small business owners are old, white men

Two weeks ago the Kauffman Foundation, a well-regarded nonprofit group that specializes in entrepreneurism, released its annual State of Entrepreneurship report — and at least in one respect, the news is encouraging. The report found that, despite still being below the peak that preceded the Great Recession, private enterprise is rebounding and entrepreneurs are driving a resurgence of business activity in America.

However, most of those entrepreneurs are still mostly old, white men.

Even as the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, the changes in the composition of our entrepreneurs is not reflecting these changes: 80.2 percent are white and 64.5 percent are male (other reports have put the average age of a small business owner at around 50 years old). The Kauffman report found that minorities own half as many businesses as non-minorities and their businesses start smaller and stay smaller mostly due to capital challenges. Women are also half as likely as men to own employer businesses.


79 Percent of Small Business Owners Remain Confident, Xero Report Says

With unprecedented economic uncertainty in the US and UK, you would expect small businesses would be more pessimistic about the future. Yet, according to the second annual Make or Break 2017 report from Xero (NZE:XRO), small business owners are irrepressibly optimistic going into 2017. Both small business owners (79 percent) and accountants (84 percent) feel more confident about 2017 than 2016.

Make or Break 2017 Report from Xero: Highlights

The optimism was especially true for young businesses with 94 percent of one-year-old and 84 percent of two-year-old businesses saying that they felt more confident going into 2017 than they did in 2016. Over three quarters (79 percent) of small business owners professed confidence in their businesses’ survival in 2017. While nearly a fifth of businesses going through a tougher time said they expected 2017 to be a turnaround year for their business.


 

Tax Deductions and Small Business Surging Optimism in The Economy

Receipts during this time of year become increasingly more important as small business owners prepare for tax filing.  If you have no receipts that prove your expenses then, you may be out of luck.  But, some of the tax deductions for your small business will be at the hands of your accountant.  Make sure your accountant knows and has all the documentation to give your small business the deductions it deserves.

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


5 overlooked small-business tax deductions

Failing to claim all the small-business tax deductions you’re entitled to is like flushing money down the toilet. Deductions are a legal way to reduce the amount of business income that is subject to tax.

Failing to claim all the small-business tax deductions you’re entitled to is like flushing money down the toilet. Deductions are a legal way to reduce the amount of business income that is subject to tax.Keeping good records is key to backing up the deductions, says Barbara Weltman, author of “J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2017.”

“Keep receipts, invoices and other documentation,” she says. “If you don’t have the proof, you could be out of luck.”

 


Small business owners are excited about the US economy – and they’re giving Trump the credit

Small business leaders say they’re more enthusiastic about the US economy, according to a new survey from JPMorgan.

The 2017 Business Leaders Outlook found that small business executives from across the US are more optimistic about the global and national economies and think that the Trump administration will be a positive for the country.

The bank surveyed roughly 1,400 executives, and 80% said they were optimistic about the national economy. That’s up nearly 41 points from the 2016 edition of the survey.

About 68% said they were encouraged about the outlook for their local economies, an 18 point increase from the year before. Only 3% and 5% of these executives were pessimistic about the national and local economies respectively, according to JPMorgan.


Small-business optimism surging, surveys show

Small business owners’ view of the economy is surging and giving them an incentive to hire.

That’s the finding of surveys released last week by two advocacy groups, the National Small Business Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The number of owners who believe the economy is doing better than it was six months ago has virtually doubled from a survey released during the summer, according to the NSBA survey. Forty-three percent of the 1,426 owners questioned had a more upbeat assessment, compared to 22 percent in the summer.

The survey is in line with others showing owners more upbeat after the election and at the start of 2017.

Looking ahead, 54 percent expect the economy to grow during the next year, up from 29 percent.

The more upbeat view is a reason for owners to add jobs, a shift from the recession and its aftermath, when owners said hiring was too much of a risk. Forty-three percent of the owners surveyed by the NSBA said they expect to hire in the next 12 months, up from 33 percent.


 

Social Media For Your Small Business

By now, millions of small businesses have been using social media to boost their sales, their recognition, or their brand awareness.  Many of those businesses are very successful and continue to promote their business and engage their customer base using social media platforms to accomplish their goals.  Are you using social media to your liking?  Are you comfortable engaging and answering questions from customers using Facebook or other media outlets?  For more about this topic, follow the links below.


How to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Should you be using Facebook Live for your business? Is it worth your time and effort? According to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), videos (live and otherwise) are viewed more than four billion times per day. And with Facebook giving priority to live videos in the news feed, you certainly may want to consider this service for getting your business message out.

So how can you make use of Facebook Live to engage with the platform’s over 1.1 billion active daily users, or at least those users who are likely to be customers? Here are a few tips.

Ways to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Give an Inside Look at Your Business

As with Instagram Live or Periscope, you can use Facebook Live to give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and how it works.

You can also use the service to focus on an aspect of your business that your audience would be interested in.


Small Business: How do you become a ‘Social Media Maven’?

Stephanie Boyette Nelson, owner of SBN Marketing, calls herself a “Social Media Maven.” She is highly skilled in social media and search engine optimization (SEO). We met at Earl’s Grocery to talk about how keyword-rich contents help match people to a business. SBN Marketing capitalizes on the algorithms used by Google and other search engines to rank websites.

Nelson, 41, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation in 1997, she started in a sales position with Philip Morris tobacco company, but quickly realized that it was not for her. She moved through several positions in corporate America, all the while developing her marketing skills through seminars and hands-on experience. Nelson noticed how the marketing world was changing from the traditional hard copy mailers to online platforms.


2 Ways Small Business Owners Can Reclaim Time Through Technology

It’s common knowledge that small business owners wear multiple hats. It’s part of the excitement and challenge of building your own business. But while it’s fun and rewarding to develop a strategy, work with clients, carry out marketing plans, improve your offerings, and track finances, it’s also time-consuming. Sure, most entrepreneurs can move mountains, but the last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day.

Finding enough time in the day to check off important tasks is a huge challenge for small business owners. Prioritizing and trusting your intuition to determine what needs to be done (and when) is a constant juggling act. Still, even the most intrepid, energetic entrepreneurs can’t keep all those balls in the air forever. Sooner or later, they realize that there’s too much work to be done and not enough time to complete it.



 

Productivity In The Workplace

Small and big businesses regardless of what industry they are in, try to boost productivity in the workplace to achieve their goals.  Whether they are offering financial incentives, recognition across the company, or extra vacation days, companies will go to extra lengths to reach or boost workplace productivity.

Every company has employees that are super stars and their productivity is unparalleled.  But, as every company have super stars, they have the super “duds” in it as well.  When looking into improving the productivity in your company, you have to take into account that all your employees have to be accountable for the work they do or are supposed to do.  The superstars can only take the team up to a point. Dragging the employees that are falling way below their potential is exhausting and mentally exhausting for everyone else.

Metrics that help you measure the productivity of your employees and yourself are widely available for businesses.  Every employee believes he is productive, but remember that productivity is a very subjective concept for many of us. We do not measure time or productivity equally.  Reading and answering all emails in your inbox may seem like you are productive, even if you do nothing else.  For other people answering all those emails is only the beginning of their day.

When measuring the productivity of your employees-and yourself-take into consideration that employees respond differently to what management or they owner tells them.  For many employees a job performance review and an unsatisfactory review at that, can be more harmful that no review at all.  You have to get to know your employees before handing out advice.  Sometimes a pat on the back, or a nice word at the beginning of the day are for many employees enough to continue working hard for you.  Recognition that they are doing a good job and that you are aware of it, can increase the productivity of many of your employees.

Most workers across the United States have a life outside work. Families, other jobs, elderly parents, financial problems and a myriad of other issues, are a constant reminder that we are humans and have a limited time of hours every day.  Expecting the employee to be a happy and responsive human being every single day is expecting too much.  When asking an employee for X, Y and Z, think before and ask yourself if it is too much.  I do not believe that you have to hire a slacker and let it be, just think that a happy employee will be a more productive employee for you and your company.

Small Business News For February

The United States Department of Labor said last week that claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000.  That means that the unemployment benefits claims in the United States fell down more than 8% from last year. The unemployment rate is 4.7 and according to economists that can be considered full employment, making it a nine-year low in the United States.

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


Small Business Ombudsman ‘fed up’ with banks refusing to change their ways

Australian banks have plenty of critics, and now they can add the Small Business Ombudsman to that list.
Kate Carnell, who has authored a report released today into banking practices, has found lenders are not being fair when they enter into contracts with small and medium-sized businesses.

“Across the board the contracts that were in place between banks and small businesses [were] simply unfair,” she told AM.

“Banks have all the power and the small businesses have no power at all and there need to be some change.”

The ombudsman’s report into banking practices has been released today by the Government.

It found that there is an unequal relationship between the banks and small and medium-sized businesses that borrow from them.


Local restaurants joining the coalition of Small Business United Against Hate

Mike Sherwood of Pizza Nea calls it “coming out of the closet for caring.”

Small business owners have a conundrum that cuts both ways: They don’t have the money or the clout to change laws or legislation the way big business does. All they have are their voices. But if they use their voices, certain customers could turn against them.

“It’s a big risk,” says Sherwood, who came out as proudly anti-Trump on his business social media pages early and often. “Minnesota is 50/50 [politically].”

But, as another small business owner put it in a grassroots meeting on Tuesday night, “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.”

John Sugimura owns PinkU, the modern sushi restaurant that recently opened in northeast Minneapolis. He chose the name, which means “pink” in Japanese, because in that language, it also has connotations of “peace” and “democracy.” He wanted to always gently remind himself of where he came from. Sugimura is a longtime social advocate and activist, but his recent conversion to restaurant owner has taken him out of his usual circles.


Hiring Rebound at Small Businesses in January, ADP Says

HIRING REBOUND: Small businesses more than tripled their number of new jobs in January, adding 62,000, according to payroll provider ADP. That’s up from 18,000 in December, and in line with the average of more than 62,000 per month in 2016. ADP counted the number of jobs at its small business customers, those with up to 49 staffers.

Small businesses were part of an overall trend of stronger job growth last month. ADP reported that businesses of all sizes added 246,000 jobs last month, up from December’s 151,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: The figures suggest that employers are hiring again after scaling back their payroll expansion in the second half of last year. The arrival of the Trump administration, which was welcomed by many small business owners, may have encouraged them to take some more of the risks they’ve been avoiding since the recession, including expanding their staffs. Many owners have said in surveys they’re not willing to hire unless their revenue is strong enough to justify the added expense.

WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR: Employment reports later this week from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Labor Department will give different perspectives on job growth, but will nonetheless help reveal owners’ sentiment about their companies and the economy. The NFIB surveys its members, while the government report will look at hiring across the private sector. It will not break out figures by company size.


 

Small Business News For This Coming Tax Season

There are not many relationships in business as important as that of an accountant or tax advisor and a small business owner during this time of year.  During the months ahead, when many small business owners are already thinking about taxes, the advice these people offered them can be a tremendous financial relief for their business. Small business owners try to minimize as much as possible the amount of taxes they pay every year. The advice a CPA  gives them can save them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Talk to a tax advisor soon, prepare papers and other proper documents to take to him/her and beat the rush.

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


Tax season is here with rising stress levels, headaches for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) – With the start of tax season, stress levels are rising at many small businesses.

Even owners who are organized, keep good books and stay in touch with their accountants can find compiling returns to be a painful process. One reason is that tax laws change often, says Rosamaria Bravo, a certified public accountant with the firm MBAF in Miami. One of this year’s big differences: Partnership returns must be filed by March 15, a month earlier than in the past. And companies known as C corporations have a filing deadline of mid-April, after having a March due date in past years.

“It’s very hard to stay on top of all the information,” Bravo says. “The average business owner is more worried about their day-to-day operations.”

Here’s a look at some lessons small business owners learned:

USING SOFTWARE WISELYWhen Christina Divigard started an advertising agency, she bought accounting software and began keeping the company’s books herself. When tax season arrived, she discovered that out of inexperience, she’d incorrectly entered some information and misclassified some types of deductions. It took two weeks to get her books in order.


The $83,000 Question: How Much Do Regulations Really Cost Small Businesses?

How much does it cost the average small business to comply with government regulations? One recent survey, released just in time for Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, dropped this eye-popping number: at least $12,000 a year. And you don’t even want to know what a start-up spends on regulations in its first year. However, I’ll tell you anyway — a whopping $83,019.

These figures come from the first-ever Small Business Regulations Survey, conducted by the National Small Business Association, which of course makes it its business to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. Among other conclusions, the survey found that 44 percent of businesses spend at least 40 hours a year dealing with federal regulations, and 29 percent spend at least that much on state and local rules. Three-quarters of business owners say that they have spent time reading proposed rules at least once, and of these, not quite two-thirds discover that more than half the time, the rules they’ve read wouldn’t apply to them. About 40 percent of respondents claim that they have held off making a new investment because of a regulation at some point in the past.


Facebook’s Creative Shop: What Can It Do For Small Businesses (And Itself)

The service helps companies spruce up their ads in order to engage more with the platform—and also keep Facebook ahead of its competitors.

Baked founder Matt Lewis never thought about hiring an ad agency to help boost holiday sales at his three bakeries in New York City, but he did want to run some kind of campaign this year to get people to preorder pies for Thanksgiving.

A former ad man himself, Lewis thought he was capable of making social media content that was good enough to draw in some customers. In the past, he’s hired photographers and considered hiring a design agency to spruce up the Baked website. But the costs are high. A photographer would cost him $1,500 a day, and a video shoot, about $3,800 a day. “We don’t really have those funds,” says Lewis, whose warm smile and calm demeanor might lead you to think he’s a yoga teacher, not a baker. “There’s no return, or the return would be so small after you’ve paid everybody out. It wouldn’t be worth it.”