NASE on Micro-Business

Archive for April 2009

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 week with a member I am fortunate enough to have met personally. The blog (and business), Lizzie B Cre8ive is actually run by two women — sisters in law — but I’ve only met one. I’d like to have said there, “I’ve only met Elizabeth,” but that might not have helped you much. Lizzie B Cre8ive is run by Elizabeth Hawkins and… Elizabeth Hawkins. Liz and Beth — sisters in law! lizziebcre8ive1

That quirky story fits well with their business, which is whimsical quilting designs. They both work out of a home studio, Beth in Arizona and Liz in Pennsylvania. Beth was actually an NASE Business Development Grant recipient a few years ago, and she attended one of our TaxTalk seminars when we visited Phoenix.

Their blog can be found here. Lots of color, patterns, and where they find their inspiration for quilt designs.

Most recently, many of their posts are dedicated to their recently published book, Whimsyland.

whimsyland1

Check out fellow NASE Members Beth and Liz! And tell us about your blog in the comments!

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 million and thus exceeds the revenue cap of $29 million for SBA loan recipients.  The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act set aside $730 million for Small  Business Administration programs with the hope that these provisions would spur lending to small businesses.

How will paying premiums under COBRA for former employees affect your business?  Do you think lending to small businesses has increased since the passage of the stimulus?  Do you think car dealerships should be eligible for SBA loans?

Here are some of the top small business articles and blog posts of the week so far:

·         You\’ve finally settled up with Uncle Sam. So what should you do with the extra cash? (CNN Money)

·         Obama Seeks To Root Out Credit Card Issuer Abuses (WaPo)

·         GM Plans Major Summer Shutdown (CNN Money)

·         Will Obama Blow It With Small Businesses? (The Journal Blog)

·         105 Absolutely Free Online Videos and Lectures (SmallBizBee)

·         New Health-Care Rule for Laid-Off Workers Hits Small Businesses (Ind Street)

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 water each day can have a big, positive impact on the environment!

Whether you file your micro-business return annually or quarterly, resist the urge to hide your tax documents in a drawer until your next filing date. NASE National Tax Advisor Keith Hall has these suggestions to help you get a jump on next year’s taxes:

·         Use the 2008 tax return as a road map for 2009 by studying what deductions you may have neglected, such as the home office deduction. Sole proprietors can use the NASE’s Schedule C Planning Tool to help them stay organized.

·         If you have a traditional IRA or SEP retirement account, consider making a contribution earlier in the year than you typically might. Then, watch as those dollars grow, tax-free.

·         Getting your child involved in the family business can really pay off. Your son or daughter could help clean the office, file, sort inventory, etc. Wages you pay will be tax deductible to your business and your child might learn something in the process. Look at it as a new business deduction on money that you are probably giving your child anyway!

 

In addition to tax.NASE.org, here are some great sites that will keep you informed throughout the year.

·         Internal Revenue Service: [http://www.irs.gov/ ]

·         Business.gov: The official business link to the federal government [http://www.business.gov/]

The SBA recently announced the “appointment of several members of the leadership and management team” of newly-confirmed Administrator Karen Gordon Mills.

Let’s hope Mills and these appointees get to work soon!

The NASE has long been a supporter of Small Business Development Centers.

SBDCs offer one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a wide variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations. They are kind of part of the governement (under the U.S. Small Business Administration), kind of part of the private sector (responsible for raising some of their own funds) and kind of part of your local educational community (they are usually located in a community college).

And because they are local to you (there are thousands of them across the country), the NASE has always believed that they offer an invaluable face-to-face service that we can’t always provide. And because they have both government and private funding, they are often able to offer educational classes for free or at cost.

Just last month, the NASE teamed up with several SBDCs across the country and held our tax seminars in their training facilities. It was a perfect combination of the NASE TaxTalk program and the local facilities the SBDCs provide.

I hope you’ll check out your local SBDC and see what kind of training they have coming up. Tell them the NASE sent you.


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