Blog Posts by Adrienne Burke

  • Business in a hurricane disaster area? Here’s SBA loan info

    The most-visited item on the Small Business Administration's loan information website today is the Disaster Loan Application. SBA announced yesterday that various disaster recovery loan programs will become available to eligible applicants as disaster assessments and declarations are made.

    President Obama has already declared disaster areas in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and additional announcements are expected.

    If your small business sustained physical damage or "economic injury" as a result of Hurricane Sandy, you may be eligible for SBA assistance. Businesses must submit loan applications directly to SBA in order to get an inspector to estimate damages. SBA says it strives to make decisions within 18 days, and advises against waiting for insurance settlements before applying for an SBA loan in order to avoid missing filing deadlines. The application-filing deadline for physical damage loans is December 31, 2012. The deadline for economic injury loans is July 31, 2013.

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  • Socially networked small businesses help customers navigate storm

    Connecticut farmer Patti Popp used Facebook during the storm to ask customers to keep an eye out for row covers that blew away.

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, power was cut to every resident in the Connecticut village of Easton, where more than 100 trees had fallen on utility wires. Even most of those with generators to power their homes couldn't get TV news or listen to the reverse-911 calls placed by the town's first selectman. Throughout town, phones, internet, and cable service were knocked out by the storm.

    Nevertheless, news flowed among neighbors over Twitter, Facebook, and email about open restaurants, businesses offering wifi access, where to buy a bottle of wine, and which local service stations weren't yet sold out of gas. An unofficial "mommy network" shared knowledge about open movie theatres and other activities for kids home from school for at least a week. And tragically, news that an Easton fireman had died in the line of duty during the storm circulated so quickly that many residents knew the hero's name before local newspapers published it online.

    Smart small business owners who

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  • 4 tips for managing month-to-month money worries

    Money, not managing, is the biggest stressor for small business owners, according to a new study. More than 60 percent of business owners surveyed reported increasing stress levels associated with running their business, 45 percent said they spend more time than they'd like to on money management, and one in three said managing finances is the number one source of that stress.

    How can a small business owner minimize financial worries? We asked Jay DesMarteau, Head of Small Business and Government Banking at TD Bank, which conducted the survey. DesMarteau says creating a real-world financial plan whether you are just starting or have been in business for 20 years can help. Here, in part one of a two-part interview, he shares some basic tips for conquering month-to-month money management woes.

    Anyone can take a DIY approach to setting up a financial plan, but you should also be able to get some free advice from an expert where you do your business banking. "It's not like you have to pay

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  • Small businesses disagree with CEOs, say tax wealthiest

    On the same day that the CEOs of more than 80 major U.S. corporations pushed for a federal-deficit-reduction plan that would rely on lower tax rates but a "broader base," a poll revealed that a majority of small business owners believe that those CEOs should pay higher taxes.

    The Wall Street Journal broke the news this morning that the big business CEOs issued a "manifesto" urging Congress to immediately pursue gradual "pro-growth tax reform." Their 225-word statement petitioned for a comprehensive plan that, among other measures, "broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit." The CEOs pointed to the recommendations of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, which calls for a combination of budget cuts and increased tax revenue, as an "effective framework for such a plan."

    The statement urged bipartisan action and reforms to all areas of the Federal budget, and seemed to suggest that neither Presidential candidate's tax plan goes far enough. But the CEOs'

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  • Foreign policy debate addresses businesses at home

    Monday's Presidential Debate in Boca Raton, Fla., marked the last chance for President Obama and Governor Romney to go head-to-head on whose policies would better support small business. The evening's theme was foreign policy, but there was plenty of discussion of domestic policies, as well as of how each candidate's approach to foreign relations would influence U.S. businesses, jobs, and trade.

    And yet, small business owners were left after this debate with as little concrete information as they were by the previous three about how either candidate's policies might improve their prospects, increase their access to capital, or encourage and support entrepreneurship and the increasing numbers of self-employed Americans.

    The candidates got in their first small business quips in response to Bob Schieffer's question, "What do each of you see as America's role in the world?"

    Obama charged Romney with having proposed "wrong and wreckless policies" at home and abroad. Romney took the

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  • Still undecided? Review the top 7 small biz issues

    Small business owners fear what comes after the election

    Despite both presidential candidates' promises to cut taxes for small businesses, reports today on a new survey of small business owners say a vast majority of them believe the reverse will happen. More than three-fourths believe their taxes will go up next year, according to a survey from The Hartford. USA Today reports:

    Both candidates have said that if their opponent wins they will mess it up for small businesses. Are those the negative messages that owners are taking home?

    The Hartford's study, which surveyed more than 2,000 small-business owners, shows they are hanging on to every word the candidates say on small-business policy. About 83% of them say they'll be thinking about it when they cast their votes.

    "All they're hearing is how one side is going to screw it up and how the other side is going to screw it up," says Garrett Sutton, author of Run Your Own Corporation. "That has an effect with business owners. They're sitting on their hands waiting to see what's going to

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  • Debate 3: Candidates aren’t asked, talk small biz anyway

    Presidential candidates answer small business questions that aren't asked.

    Last night's Presidential debate was presumably the last chance for the candidates to battle over whose policies will best serve small business; the one remaining debate on October 22 will focus on foreign policy. But none of the questions posed to the candidates by citizens in the Hofstra University town hall session yesterday inquired specifically about small business. President Obama and Governor Romney nevertheless managed to make 23 mentions of the term that has been a campaign favorite--Obama 7, Romney 16.

    Katie Vlietstra, Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of the Self Employed, who live-Tweeted the debate at @GAatNASE, called the event entertaining television but frustrating for small business owners. Considering that the self-employed account for at least 76 percent of small businesses, Vlietstra said, "It seems to me that both candidates and campaigns are missing the boat when talking about small business."

    President Obama claimed that 97 percent of

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  • Small biz profit margins at pre-recession rates, report says

    Net profit margins are returning to pre-recession rates, a report shows

    Small businesses this year saw net profit margins increase by the highest rate in seven years, according to a report generated by the Raleigh, NC-based financial information company Sageworks.

    The report reflects activity exclusively among privately held companies with under $1 million in annual sales in more than 20 industry categories including real estate, construction, retail trade, scientific and technical services, healthcare, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing. Sageworks collects more than 1,000 financial statements daily from certified public accountants and banks nationwide. The company generated its report from this audited data.

    According to the report, in the last 12 months profit margins of small companies were up 6.01 percent over the year-ago period. It marks the first period since 2005 that profit margins rose more than 6 percent. In 2004, profit margins among the group rose 6.65 percent, and in 2005 they rose 6.78 percent. Profit margin increases were

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  • VP debate provides no new info for small business

    VP candidates' debate didn't answer small biz questions

    As it did during last week's presidential debate, "small business" came up frequently during last night's vice presidential debate. Together, Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan invoked the term 17 times in response to questions from Martha Raddatz. But, as with the presidential debate, the candidates delivered no direct statements about what they would do for small business owners.

    Biden and Ryan did not address any of the topics small business organizations told Yahoo! Small Business Advisor they would like to hear discussed during the debates: they offered no plans for improving small business access to credit, not a word about crowdfunding or innovative approaches to supporting startups, and no mention of entrepreneurship nor steps the country could take to encourage self-employment and nurture small business.

    In fact, small business was mentioned during the vice presidential debate almost exclusively in the context of tax reform. Specifically, the candidates and

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  • Smallest of small businesses need credit to fund growth

    Microbusinesses have a tough time getting credit

    A new poll of microbusiness owners contradicts another recent report that small business owners have a gloomy outlook on the economy. Instead, according to the survey conducted by three small business organizations, most owners of businesses with 10 or fewer employees are optimistic about the future of their business and about the economy.

    The Association for Enterprise Opportunity, the National Association for the Self-Employed, and Small Business Majority retained Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to survey 470 microbusinesses online in August. The organizations say that many microbusinesses have been growing and expect to continue growing: over half report increased sales or revenues over the last two years and another 50 percent plan to hire within the next two.

    National Association of Self Employed CEO Kristie Arslan says microbusinesses, including the self-employed, are key drivers of the US economy. Based on the survey results, NASE predicts that the 22 million self-employed

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