In an article by Jared Shelly on bizjournals.com, some quotes were shared from Labor Secretary Thomas Perez’s recent visit to Philadelphia. All in all, they paint an optimistic picture for the future growth of the economy, as well as some insights for small business owners looking to add longer term strategy into the preparations of their business plans for 2015. Some stats on the economy from Secretary Perez: The economy is improving, albeit slowly, with 57 consecutive months of job growth and last month the third best out of all of them. While growth statistics may be skewed by larger corporations and tech startups, small business confidence readings continue to show a desire for growth and belief in a stronger recovery to come. Whether or not all small business owners are for wage increases, Perez reports “upward pressure”, in particular where top level talent is concerned, although debates related to minimum wage increases are listed by Perez among “unfinished business” of the recession. Job competition

Small business owners reported feeling more confident in November by a margin that surpassed economist predictions, with the NFIB’s index reading 98.1 after a two point gain. In a Fortune.com article on the increase, it was reported that this level of confidence hasn’t been reached on the index since 2007, a positive sign that indicates small business owners believe in the potential for continued economic recovery. Despite this encouraging news, the indicators that brought about this spike in confidence were all soft indicators, while hiring and spending didn’t budge, which indicates that while business owners are prepared to believe in a stronger economy, they have been conditioned by the capriciousness of temporary gains and costly regulations to look before they leap in terms of spending on expansion. Holiday sales important to small businesses looking to end the year on a high note. The success of Small Business Saturday this year is a promising sign that may have prompted an increase in feelings of confidence, as Black

According to the Biz2Credit small business lending index, approvals for small businesses from big banks fell in October, the first decline in 7 months of growth, dipping by 0.2% from 20.6% in September. The slight decline still reflects some of the strongest numbers since the beginning of the Great Recession, and as business confidence continues to increase (although not necessarily the perception of success), both hard and soft indicators of economic recovery seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit at a sluggish pace. Business owners may be more wary about debt now than at the beginning of the recession. One factor that may effect loan volumes is the fact that small business borrowers have been reticent about taking on debt, with many only seeking financing when it comes time to make capital improvements that are simply outside of the reach of their normal cash flows. For some with bad credit, seeking bank financing has been a relatively fruitless endeavor, with the alternative being seeking

The NFIB’s most recent numbers on small business optimism reported a rise in the month of July, indicating that small business owners are trying to retain a positive outlook on the economy while at the same time bracing themselves for whatever may come. The percentage rise was only 0.7%, bringing the index to 95.7 which according to the NFIB’s breakdown is still a historically low reading. Hiring and job creation have both continued to increase. Holding in a continuous rising pattern, the addition of jobs as well as plans to add them in the small business sector are moving forward slowly. While hiring is a positive indicator, small businesses will be pressed to maintain payroll for new staff and will be counting on consistent sales. Sales readings were mostly unchanged. Sales data for business owners reporting better than usual sales fell by a point, while expected sales volumes also dropped by a point. This isn’t really much to report, with the takeaway being that business owners are

  A recent article on Vox.com raised an interesting point about the aging of the baby boomer generation in relation to entrepreneurship in the US.  As the Boomer generation has passed middle age, the number of American businesses that are over 15 years old has also been steadily gaining since the 90’s. Conversely, the proportion of younger businesses has gone down. When reconciled against the idea of prime business founding years being in a person’s late 30’s to early 40’s, the trend seems to make sense as demonstrating a dip in new entrepreneurship that is directly linked to the aging population. Does age really have a bearing on entrepreneurship? It can be hard to say whether or not a person’s age has the potential to influence their ability to be successful when there are so many other factors involved in making it as an entrepreneur. There are also plenty of examples to point to that would suggest age is not the defining factor in an entrepreneurs

With the NFIB reporting small business optimism levels at their highest since September 2007, the news that businesses are becoming more confident seems like it is worthy of serious celebration. However, there is a large disconnect between the reality on the ground for many business owners and the positive gains in optimism that have been reported. According to  the report, while “soft indicators” of optimism went up which include expectations of future performance, there were no significant gains in hiring and other indicators that traditionally signal the small business sector’s contribution to a growing and improving economy. Until small business owners are able to put their confidence into action, the recovery will continue to move at a slow clip. Business owners are reticent to hire, which would mean taking on more costs for their businesses without a guarantee that they will be able to recoup their costs. In addition, recent regulations have many business owners worried that they will not even be able to sustain the

Navigating the financial landscape that comes with running a small business is often difficult, and it’s made even more tough by the presence of certain potholes and mirages. One common scam that small business owners should be aware of is the grant scam. How does a grant scam work? This type of scam is kept alive by a simple misdirection. Business owners will either stumble across or otherwise be made aware of a grant that their business is able to apply for, which, should they receive it, will give them what essentially amounts to free money. This should be the first logical red flag, but many business owners are willing to take the existence of grant programs at face value as fact. Once the business owners are sold on their grant applications, the next phase of the scam kicks in. You will be sold (or attempt to be sold) an expensive audit of your business plan, additional help filing your request, a one time fee, or

Following debates surrounding the federal minimum wage, small business owners are now in the center of yet another struggle regarding a proposed change in the way they must pay their employees. As reported by smallbiztrends.com, President Obama signed an executive order last month calling for an increase in the threshold of earnings over which employees become eligible for overtime pay. In plain English, the law would raise the threshold from the current $445 per week mark to somewhere around a suggested $640 and include more white collar and managerial employees in the group who would qualify for overtime pay. The rationale behind the law is to give back to those who work hard for the economy. As corporate America has begun to make more profit, the idea that these revenues should be shared with the employees who put in extra hours to make them seems like it makes a lot of sense. However, many warn that small businesses will become unintended collateral damage. While profitable corporations

Small businesses bring diversity and charm to a community, but it can often be hard for them to compete against corporate chains and outlet stores, which, while they usually don’t have the same basic appeal have the resources and often the price points that allow them to siphon business away from local competition. With this in mind business owners and local governments can put together local business campaigns that can help them to raise awareness of local businesses. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons surrounding the organization of a local business campaign. It takes time to plan a local campaign. No matter what the scale of the campaign you put together, in the end it is going to take time away from your schedule to plan it. An answer to this is to try and get other local business owners on board and spread out the responsibilities involved in an awareness campaign. Ideas for supporting local business include printing posters or decals

Tax season is here, and what that means for many small business owners is that they are now meeting with their CPA in order to get their filings done. For one thing, small business owners usually don’t have the time to go through their tax filings themselves, and for another, since they are (usually) not trained in tax law, they might miss some key ways to maximize their tax returns and exemptions. In the end, putting a CPA on your roster is usually worth it if you take the time to make sure the one you choose is the correct fit for your business. Ensure that your CPA works with businesses like yours. If possible, finding a tax professional who specializes in small business is the strongest move you can make. These pros will be able to get you the best return since their specialty allows them the tie and the incentive to keep up to date on changing small business law and regulations. There will

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