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Small Business Blog - daily small business software blog

:: Small Business Survey

In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small business owners stated their biggest challenges are:

1) Economic Uncertainty- 49%;

2) The National Debt- 47%;

3) HEALTH CARE- 39%;

4) Over Regulation- 36%;

5) Taxes- 28%.

Next to the state of the economy and the debt, the most specific fear for small business comprises the impending health care regulations which are proving to be difficult to decipher and threaten profitability.

:: Small Business Wrap Up

Tis the season for year-end wrap-ups and Top 10 lists. While condensing a years worth of events into a single Best Of list can be daunting, looking back can also give us a fresh perspective. In that spirit, we are highlighting some major themes that came up in our small-business coverage this year.

While it is impossible to make a single pronouncement about the overall state of American small business in 2011, a few general observations hold: The business climate is still fairly bleak, as is the mood of many owners. Few companies are planning hiring sprees for 2012, and the hurdles to growing a business weak customer demand, tougher credit requirements remain daunting.

That said, start-ups still started up this year and business owners still invested in new ideas and strategies. Here are some of the other small-business topics that resonated with us this year:

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:: Gift Ideas for Small Business Owners

Waiting to the last minute to buy holiday gifts is often rite of passage in December. But no doubt a holiday list is waiting in an iPhone, on a to-do list in the kitchen or rattling around in your head. But when thinking about what to get the loved ones in life, don't forget the small business owners in your life. Being a part of a community means frequenting local businesses that work tirelessly year round to provide the highest quality products and services. When you have a good relationship with a small business owner, sometimes even a small gesture can mean the difference between a good year and a great year for them.

But what do get a small business owner? Here are five suggestions on both the low and high end, depending on how generous you are feeling this year:

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:: Snail Mail Slow Down to Impact Small Businesses

Snail mail is about to trudge even slower, forcing companies dependent on the postal service, such as prescription-medication firm Express Scripts and thousands of small businesses, to revamp fundamental business models.

The U.S. Postal Services plan to save $2.1 billion a year and fend off possible bankruptcy threatens to end almost all overnight delivery of first-class letters and postcards next year.

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:: Small Businesses Lacking Confidence

MerchantCircle, the largest social network of local business owners in the nation, today issued the results of its seventh Merchant Confidence Index, a survey of local business owners across the country sharing their confidence levels in the current economy, and their expectations of future revenue, marketing spend and hiring. The results of the 2011 Q4 survey of more than 2,500 local merchants indicate that business optimism has decreased over the past six months. The current MCI score is 59.4 out of 100, down 6 percent from the score of 63.2 in June 2011.

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:: Tax Tip for Small Business

As 2011 winds down to a close, many small business owners are scrutinizing year-end tax deadlines in a last-ditch effort to lighten their payment to Uncle Sam come April. One of the smartest moves they can make, including the self-employed is to start a 401(k) plan before December 31st.  It’s important to note that while a few solo 401k plan providers will allow purchases for a 2011 plan through December 31st, a traditional plan for a business with employees would need to be purchased a week or two earlier.

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:: Tips to Identify Your Customers

In order to effectively target your customers, you need to know who and where they are. Customers come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you discern which customers are the best to target?

Tips to Identify Your Customers

:: Retirement a Far Cry for Small Business Owners

Three-quarters of small business owners say so many Americans are financially unprepared for retirement it's reached crisis levels, a survey says.

A survey of small business owners by Nationwide Financial indicates small businesses may add to the problem because only 19 percent of these businesses offer their employees a 401k or other employee self-funded retirement plan.

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:: Financial Literacy

A recent study distributed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute showed that Texans have the lowest financial literacy in the country. The survey revealed that Texans largely do not understand basic financial concepts like interest rates, mortgages, and investments. But this knowledge gap is not limited to Texas alone; it is issue throughout the United States.

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:: Small Businesses Should Take Stock

We know the holidays are always hectic, but it is an important time of year for your business. Not only is this the season when retailers make most of their income, it's also a good time to sit down and strategize, USA Today recommends.

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:: Small Business Politics

Although they are some of the busiest people in the country, small-business owners find time to get involved in the democratic process. Many of them feel they have no choice but to push back on a government that sings their praises while dipping its long arm into their coffers. Not to mention all the times they get nudged, pushed or slapped by its misguided policies.  

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:: Monetizing the Holiday

Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

How to Monetize Christmas some ideas!

Christmas Sneakers

Christmas iPhone Cases

Christmas Return Address Mailing Labels

Custom iPad Cases

Christmas Party Invitations

Christmas Web Design Elements

Christmas Greeting Cards

Christmas Logos

:: Small Business Saturdays

While Black Friday may be known as the busiest shopping day of the year for large retailers, independently owned boutiques are hoping the next day, Small Business Saturday, will be their busiest day of the year.

Small Business Saturday is a day that is designated nationally to supporting local busineses.

:: Technology Review Sites

Technology product review sites can be a valuable resource for small businesses that need to make purchasing decisions. Sites offer expert and consumer opinions, as well as how-to information, competitive pricing locations, and the latest news on technology trends.

Here is a list of technology review sites.

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