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:: Get Your Small Business in Shape

Small businesses are running lean these days, but that does not necessarily mean they are in good shape. No doubt this year will be challenging. Crossing the finish line will require being in tip top shape.
Here are some tips to get your small business in fighting condition:

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:: Traps for Small Businesses

Both changes involve so-called 1099 forms, which are reports submitted to the Internal Revenue Service so it can cross-check information from different taxpayers.

The first change is momentous: It requires third parties—credit- or debit-card firms, PayPal and the like—to tell the IRS about their payments to businesses. For 2011 and after, these firms must issue 1099-K forms to the IRS and the taxpayer giving the amount of such payments.

Why does that matter? This information can help the IRS flush out unreported income by small businesses. Cheating and mistakes cost Uncle Sam $122 billion a year, the IRS estimates, making it the largest single element of the $385 billion in annual unpaid taxes, known as the tax gap.

Traps for Small Businesses

:: Facebook Timeline

One of the things Facebook wants to do is make it easier for companies to push offers and specials to its customers. Offers are one way that small businesses can source deals and specials through the Timeline, rather than through targeted ads. According to Facebook, offers are like coupons and don't cost anything to create. When someone claims an offer, they will receive an email that they can show at the Pages physical location to get the discount. Granted, this will only work for businesses with physical locations but it's still a good way to monetize a fan base. Facebook will no doubt build on its platform and continue to try and reach small businesses to advertise on the network.

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:: Required Sick Days - Hurt Small Businesses

Area lawmakers oppose a bill requiring businesses to offer paid sick days to their workers, saying the measure will slow the states economic recovery by discouraging companies from hiring new workers.

The bill, which has generated intense debate but little action in recent years, would require businesses to offer certain amounts of sick time based on how many people they employ.

Required Sick Days

:: Website Spidering

Website Spidering refers to the automated process of indexing a web site by a search engine. An automated program, known as a web crawler or spider, will go through a website following the links on each page, and will gather pertinent information from each page until it has properly indexed the entire website.

Website Spidering

:: Economic Status

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research - NBER the Great Recession as it was styled in the media lasted 18 months, from December 2007 until June 2009. Of course, it still does not feel like the recession is over, mostly because we have not recovered enough to get back to the point from which we fell off the cliff.

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:: Small Businesses Using Pinterest

Pinterest allows members to comment on each others picks and follow their friends pinboards. Users might assemble ideas for home renovation on one board, and showcase their favorite books or charities on others. They can re-pin pictures they like from other peoples boards. The result is an electronic word-of-mouth network that can lead to snowballing attention for a workout regimen, barbecue techniques, or a manufacturers product.

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:: Golden Decade

We might remember 2012 as the beginning of a golden decade – the era that small business value creation became easier and more abundant in driving Global GDP.  There has been no better time to own, start and run a small business than right now.  Particularly online businesses.  The economics of the internet has profoundly closed the resources gap between the haves and have nots.  With cheaper and more accessible technology combining with an emerging global middle-class of several billions  – it should be unsurprising that small businesses will play a more active and vocal role in the global Financial Services policy agenda in the decade ahead.

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:: Shift Away From Manufacturing

A seismic shift to service-based small businesses away from manufacturing, transportation and construction is stifling economic growth and eroding the negotiating power of companies such as truck makers, according to a PayNet study.

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:: Tax Break or Tax Increase?

Last week, President Barack Obama released a proposal to lower the federal corporate tax rate — a move that on its face would seem to be good news for small businesses. But the presidents pitch is not getting rave reviews.

The proposal, released Feb. 22, calls for the top corporate tax rate to fall from its current 35 percent to 28 percent. Manufacturers would pay no more than 25 percent.

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:: Small Business Retirement Problems

No pension, no retirement savings — and no solid plan for how they will fund the latter part of their life. That's the dire situation for many small-business owners.

About a third of small-business owners do not have a personal or business-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401k, a SEP IRA or deferred annuity, according to a new survey from non-profit the American College. Nearly the same number have not estimated how much money they need for retirement.

Many workers feel unprepared for their golden years.

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:: Good Credit Drives Small Business Loans

Now may be the best time in years for small-business owners with good credit to shop for a loan.

Assuming you qualify.  A  litany of factors play into whether a small business is considered a highly qualified loan candidate, and each bank weighs those factors differently. But if you meet a lenders test, you may hold the upper hand at the negotiating table given the current scarcity of such borrowers.

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:: Small Businesses To Credit

The recent rebound of American employment, economic expansion and even a quickened pulse of gross domestic product growth is a direct result of the exceptionalism of Americas tens of thousands of independent businesses.

Although Big Government, Big Businesses and Big politicians are quick to lay claim to this unexpected, if still fragile, turn of events, my contacts with several hundred of these astute small business magnates, have convinced me this backbone of Americas long-term economic durability is primarily the result of privately-owned manufacturers, distributors, contractors, retailers and service organizations that have taken the bull by the horns in an iffy economic climate.

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