Entrepreneurial

from Reuters Money:

Tax rule change causes big small-business ruckus

In the big tax fights of this year, the coming changes to who must get 1099 forms would hardly seem to rate. But for the vast majority of small businesses, these new rules will hit far harder than the estate tax, despite political posturing on that front.

USA-POLITICS/OBAMAThe new rules on 1099 forms, which were attached to the health care bill and are set to go into effect in 2012, call for all businesses, no matter how small, to file 1099 forms for goods as well as services, if those goods cost over $600 (the current threshold). It also gets rid of the distinction between corporations, which previously did not need to receive 1099s, and unincorporated entities, which did.

As someone who is considered a small business for tax purposes (as are all sole proprietors, consultants and self-employed people), I can't help but think what this might mean for me. If I buy a new laptop, I'd better get the taxpayer ID number for Apple or Lenovo (depending on if I go Mac or not) and send that form off to wherever their tax department is located. And if I think I might spend more than $600 on pens, notepads, paper and the like at Staples over the course of the year, well, I’d better get their taxpayer ID number, too, and send them a form.

The 1099 form isn't so bad if you've got the data, but the recordkeeping quagmire seems pretty clear. Will businesses that occasionally offer their employees pizza in a conference room need to get the local pizza place’s taxpayer identification number, then track the cost of all those pies to see if they amount to $600? Will truckers be required to send 1099s to the service stations where they fuel up? What about a company’s payments to the electric company to keep the lights on in the office? “It is a tremendous new administrative burden, and it is so senseless,” says Steve Henley, a national tax practice leader at CBIZ MHM, an accounting and financial consultancy.

The theory, of course, is simple: All that paperwork should help close the “tax gap,” the chasm between what Americans owe in taxes and what they actually pay. And  this provision is expected to bring in $17 billion over ten years, which would help offset the costs of the health care bill.

New payroll app targets small business

Making payroll has always been a bit of a fraught experience for Shelley O’Sullivan and her husband at their five-employee construction firm located just north of San Francisco. But a simple mobile app has reduced that anxiety.

“The hassle we were always having with the computer issue is that we do payroll on Thursday and so we have to be home and input it by 3 o’clock to get the checks (out) by the next day,” said O’Sullivan, whose husband started using the iPhone app offered by their payroll service provider, ADP, a month ago. “Now that we have an app he’s out in the field and hits a button and boom, it’s done.”

O’Sullivan said the app is especially handy for their construction business, as they normally spend a lot of time outside the office on sites.

Will Momzelle appeal to nursing mothers?

Christine Poirier designed her own nursing top to help her feel less insecure about breastfeeding in public after the birth of her first child. Her invention turned into a business and now she faces the challenge of expanding her Toronto-based apparel company, Momzelle, into the U.S.

The target audience for Momzelle is straight forward: new breastfeeding, active, urban mothers (see original story here).

“They want to be able to go to restaurants, cafes, meet their friends outside in parks and just have a baby and have a life as well,” said Poirier, adding they’ve sold close to 10,000 shirts this year, which retail from C$45 to C$70.

Small business bill passes, now what?

As President Obama gets set to sign off on the $30-billion small business lending bill, people want to know one thing: how will it help me?

That’s what small business owners like Bruce Freeman want to know. Freeman, who runs Proline Communications, a marketing and consulting business in New Jersey and writes a syndicated column “Ask The Small Business Professor”, said the the $12 billion in tax breaks included in the bill will help, but the larger $30-billion portion earmarked for small community banks should instead be given directly to small businesses.

“Give it to me. Don’t give it to somebody else to then hopefully, maybe, get it to me,” said Freeman, who would prefer to get the money in the form of tax credits, or some other more direct assistance. “Give it to me in the form of beer bottles with the name of my business on it, but give it to me. This loan stuff is ridiculous, because I don’t know if I could ever get one.”

Small businesses need cash, not rhetoric

– George A. Cloutier, a graduate of Harvard Business School, is the founder and CEO of American Management Services, one of the Nation’s largest turnaround and management services firms specializing in small and mid-size companies. He is also the author of the bestselling book, “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

The lack of serious small business aid proposals, empty rhetoric, and general intransigence by the Republicans has anointed the Democrats by default as “The Party of Small Business.”

The Obama bill to inject $30 billion into community banks with the primary focus of expanding small business lending, is hardly a panacea. But Republican attempts to block the bill, for a variety of political (although not practical) reasons, amounts to more stumbling and bumbling by the opposition that has produced no worthwhile alternative.

Big business pipeline for small business

CORRECTED: the Universal College Application was created by ApplicationsOnline LLC and not the NCAA as was previously stated.

With President Obama’s small business bill stalled in Congress, big business is trying to pick up the slack.

Six of America’s largest corporations – IBM, AT&T, Bank of America, Citigroup, Pfizer and UPS – have banded together to create a “one-stop shop” for small and mid-sized businesses looking to sell to them and take advantage of the nearly $150 billion awarded collectively in contracts each year.

Online backup crucial for small businesses

– Vance Checketts is the VP of Operations for online storage company Mozy. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Among the myriad challenges small and medium businesses (SMBs) are currently facing, data loss is an often unanticipated – but very real – cause of revenue and productivity loss.

Businesses of all sizes depend on files and email stored on desktops, laptops, and servers for their very survival. Natural disaster, theft, or even something as commonplace as a cup of coffee spilled on a laptop is not just an IT nightmare. Such events can literally put a small business out of business.

Toura finds niche, now must exploit it: experts

Toura’s Web-based tool that creates virtual museum tours for handy download onto a visitor’s mobile device is exciting, but experts said founder Aaron Radin needs to get some more big-name clients on board and ramp up sales to fully command the space.

Radin, who launched Toura with co-founder Sayoko Knight Teitelbaum 18 months ago, has already created apps for the Art Institute of Chicago, Washington’s the Smithsonian Institute, the Pace Gallery in New York and the London Royal Academy of Arts. In addition Toura’s app publishing platform has been used to produce some shopping and travel guides (read the original story here).

“It was clear to me that any museum has content or has access to content and either through lack of technology or access to technology, they did not necessarily have a way to take that content and distribute it to what is obviously an increasing audience – peoples’ mobile devices,” said Radin, who offers his proprietary Web-based publishing tool – The Toura Mobile App Producer – to clients for free in exchange for a 50-50 split of the revenues from each downloaded app, which ranges from 99 cents to $5.99.

Why Junior shouldn’t take over your business

Entrepreneur and author John Warrilow believes business owners are engaging in a “twisted form of child abuse” when they pass their companies onto their children.

In his new book, “Built to Sell: Turn Your Business Into One You Can Sell”, Warrilow offers his advice to creating a sellable company and argues that 99 percent of businesses can’t sell because the companies can’t be run without their current owners.

In a recent telephone interview with Reuters, Warrilow said business owners should have the best possible exit strategy before they consider handing over a company to their children.

Save the pelicans and small businesses

– George A. Cloutier is the founder and CEO of American Management Services and the author of the bestselling book “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

For the last two months we have been inundated with photos of oil-covered pelicans and other marine animals victimized by the oil spewing forth from the ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill in the Gulf is obviously disastrous, but it pales to the economic “oil spill” that has destroyed small businesses over the last two years.

Pelicans and small business owners are faced with surprisingly similar situations: they are victims of disastrous events beyond their control. They are faced with a life-threatening struggle for survival, in which many have already passed due to lack of assistance, or are facing an uncertain future with promises of government intervention.

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