Blog Posts by Adrienne Burke

  • How Mitch Goldstone’s lawsuit could be your gain

    Mitch Goldstone, CEO of ScanMyPhotos.com, won a $7.25 billion settlement against credit card companies in favor of merchants.

    While politicians have been arguing over who's doing more for small business, one independent businessman with no campaign agenda has dedicated the last seven years of his life to pursuing a lawsuit advocating for merchants like himself. Mitch Goldstone, the CEO of ScanMyPhotos.com, became a small business hero last week when he won a $7.25 billion settlement—the largest private antitrust settlement in U.S. history—that promises to put large sums of money back into the pockets of millions of businesses that accept credit cards.

    Goldstone, of Irvine, Calif., was the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed in 2005 that alleged that Visa and MasterCard illegally fixed interchange fees—the so-called swipe fees that U.S. merchants pay the card companies for the privilege of accepting consumers' credit payments.

    Yahoo! Small Business Advisor spoke with Goldstone as he celebrated his legal victory last week.

    Yahoo! SBA: This is a real David vs. Goliath story. How did it start?

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  • Tax cuts, credit cards, and an entrepreneurship incentive

    More business owners are getting credit with personal cards

    Small business issues continue to hold center stage in election season. Here's a roundup of current events and reports from around the web this week related to small business and politics, including new legislation that would support immigrant entrepreneurs, various explorations of the access-to-credit crisis, and a discussion of tax cuts and small business.

    Supporting immigrant entrepreneurs

    A Democrat and a Republican in the House have teamed up to introduce a bill that would offer green cards to foreign entrepreneurs who live in the U.S. and establish and invest a minimum of $125,000 in a business here that creates and sustains full-time employment for at least three U.S. workers over two years. The National Small Business Association blogged its support for the legislation, which it says would also modify the EB-5 visa program to attract additional foreign investment.

    Fewer debt delinquencies

    Small business lending in June hit its lowest point since October, but was up two percent

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  • Ten ways to not get burned by a daily deal promotion

    These tips for making the most of a daily deal promotion come from merchants who’ve tried them, from Rice University business school professor Utpal Dholakia, who studies the industry, and Groupon Communications Director Julie Mossler.

    1. “You must prepare for your Groupon.” That’s NYC Bagel Deli owner Corey Kaplan’s number one piece of advice. “You have to be prepared for what you’re selling. You have to be able to afford to have that paper on the street,” he says. Rice University’s Utpal Dholakia adds, “Be careful in calculating your margins. Think about the terms of your offer and be sure you have a high margin on the item being offered. The daily deal salesperson tries to get the business to run a deal that will be attractive to the daily deal customers, but that is not necessarily in the interest of the business.”
    2. Don’t offer deals too often. Kaplan advises against offering more than one deal a year. “I don’t want to make the consumer think the regular price of my food is high. I
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  • What it takes to succeed in the daily deals game

    The story of the demise of Washington, DC, restaurant Back Alley Waffles went viral today because its owner blames Groupon’s payment scheme for putting him out of business. Waiting a month for partial reimbursement on the $2,600 worth of waffles he served to coupon holders while continuing to fulfill discounted orders was too much for the cash-strapped startup to handle. So Craig Nelsen shuttered his waffle house after only three months in business, leaving hundreds of coupon holders high and dry.

    Groupon, which will now refund the unserved diners for their purchases, explained its payment practice in a statement that was published today on several news sites (including the Huffington Post, the Mail Online and the Washington Post). Protecting itself from being left holding the bag when merchants go out of business before fulfilling their coupon orders is one reason Groupon staggers payments over three months, communications director Julie Mossler told Yahoo! Small Business Advisor.

    But

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  • Tax code complexity costs employers billions

    At a time when Republicans and Democrats can't seem to come to terms on anything, most politicians are in agreement on one thing: the corporate tax code should be simplified.

    Tax code complexity costs employers billions

    We reported here several weeks ago that far fewer small businesses than the Federal government expected had claimed a tax credit made available to them through the Affordable Care Act. Business owners cited the complexity of complying with the tax code as a major impedance.

    Now in a front page story titled, "Firms Pass Up Tax Breaks, Citing Hassles, Complexity," the Wall Street Journal reports that this is true not just for health insurance tax credits but for many other tax breaks available to employers. Fed up with paperwork and leery of inviting IRS scrutiny, businesses are opting to skip deductions for energy efficient buildings, for hiring unemployed veterans and workers from disadvantaged groups, for increasing research, and for producing goods domestically, according to the Journal's report.

    Though large

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  • Daily deals promos better suited to certain businesses

    Daily deal promotions are not sustainable marketing strategies for most businesses

    Many business owners who offer "daily deals" promotions wind up losing money, failing to win new customers, or driving away loyal patrons when the coupon crowds descend. Nevertheless, the marketing trend is here to stay. That's the opinion of Utpal Dholakia, professor of management at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, who has become something of an expert on the expanding industry that includes companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial.

    Dholakia, who first began researching and writing about small businesses' use of discounted online coupons two years ago, says he was pessimistic about their sustainability. "People are offering their products at half price and only getting one-quarter of the revenue," Dholakia tells Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. "I wrote an entire article this time last year looking at specific deals, and I was extremely negative."

    A year later, however, Dholakia says he has found some business owners who are happy with their returns on daily

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  • You know you’re a business owner when you work on vacation

    Of business owners who take vacation this summer, most will work while away.

    Nearly half of small business owners say they don't have time to take a vacation this summer. And a large majority of those who do, will work while they're away.

    According to a national survey of more than 1,200 small business owners conducted in June and released today by the online small business community Manta, 7 in 10 small business owners will be checking work email and documents on their mobile devices from vacation spots this summer. A majority say they're working more this year than they did last year, and most also say that having a mobile device along will actually help them enjoy their summer break.

    But that might be because they'd go through the pains of withdrawal without it. In the office, small business owners say they use their mobile devices frequently. Online communications--email, IM, Skype, and social media--are the most common method by which small business people communicate with customers, vendors, and partners. Just 26 percent interact with customers in

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  • Eliminating taxcuts for high earners bad for small business?

    Would extending tax cuts to all create jobs?

    When he proposed an extension of Bush era tax cuts for families earning under $250,000 a year, President Obama this week suggested the move would benefit all but two percent of households. But because those earning above $250,000 would experience a tax increase, Republicans characterize the proposal as a massive penalty on small businesses. A bigger tax bill would prevent small business owners from creating jobs at a critical juncture in the US economy, the argument goes.

    Jeffrey Cornwall, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, explains in The Entrepreneurial Mind blog at the Christian Science Monitor: "Many who fall into this proposed tax increase are entrepreneurs. We know that for every 1% increase in the marginal tax rate that we can expect a 1.5 to 2.0 percent decrease in start-up activity."

    In an editorial on the subject, the Wall Street Journal points out: "Congress's Joint Tax Committee—not a conservative outfit—estimates that in 2013 about 940,000

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  • President announces six new ideas to help small business

    After attempting to appeal to small business owners earlier this week with a proposal to extend Bush-era tax cuts for households with income under $250,000, President Obama today buttered up small businesses again. The White House announced of a set of six initiatives designed to help small businesses expand and create jobs by streamlining some cumbersome processes for getting paid by the government and for getting certain government loans and bonds. The plan also addresses two tax credits.

    In a statement, the White House said five of the initiatives are "immediate executive actions" and the sixth is a legislative proposal.

    The package aims to help Federal small business subcontractors get paid faster; reiterates the President's support for permitting small businesses to write off up to $250,000 in capital investments in 2013; revamps the Small Business Administration's Small Loan Advantage program; streamlines application paperwork for SBA surety bonds and SBA's Disaster Loan Program;

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  • You’re a business owner, but are you entrepreneurial?

    Gregg Fairbrothers teaches Dartmouth business students to be entrepreneurial.

    How can a business owner be more entrepreneurial? That's one of the questions Gregg Fairbrothers tackles in his book From Idea to Success: The Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network Guide for Startups. Fairbrothers managed and started oil and gas exploration and production companies on three continents before switching gears to teach entrepreneurship as an adjunct professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. He wrote Idea to Success with Tess Winter last year to walk readers through the process of launching a new company, product, or service from concept to business. Now he pens the Ideas to Success column for Forbes with Catalina Gorla to further explore ideas about what makes a startup successful.

    This week, Yahoo Small Business Advisor spoke with Fairbrothers about small business owners and entrepreneurs, which are not necessarily two terms with the same meaning.

    YSBA: Not all small business people feel that the term "entrepreneur" applies to them. Do you consider anyone who has

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