On the minimum wage one thing is clear: you get what you pay for

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

In 2017, and in the midst of Seattle’s efforts to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour, a University of Washington study was released that proved damaging to supporters of a higher hourly rate.

The study looked at the effects of the city raising its minimum wage from $10.50 to $13 an hour in 2016 and concluded that, although the increase was successful in boosting pay, it had the unfortunate consequence of reducing jobs by about 9%. The report’s authors said there were about 5,000 fewer low-wage jobs in the city because of the minimum wage increase. Opponents of the hike felt vindicated. Read More…

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Apple Launches A Product Blitz…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Apple kicks off a product blitz.

Apple introduced several new products this week, including iOS 12, three new iPhones, revamped iPad Pros, Apple Watches with larger screens, a new entry-level laptop with a sharper screen, a pro-focused Mac mini desktop computer, and new accessories like the AirPower wireless charger. Unfortunately, Apple also said that the new tariffs recently imposed will force it to raise prices for some of its popular offerings like the Watch and AirPods. (Source: Bloomberg)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…

Your Company May Be Able To Deduct More State and Local Taxes Than You Think

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

A lot of people were upset last year when the tax reform bill was passed by Congress.

Sure, there were significant reductions in income tax rates for certain taxpayers, corporations and pass-through businesses as well as a host of other tax incentives. But one big tax benefit was taken away for many: the state and local tax deduction. The bill limited this deduction to $10,000 and that was a big deal for residents in states like California, New York and New Jersey that have a high local burden.

For regular corporations, there remained no cap on state and local deductions. But for some business owners, particularly the owners of pass through businesses like S-Corporations and partnerships, the cap seemed to apply.  That’s because this deduction is ultimately reported on their personal returns.

But wait…that rule was just clarified – and it’s good news for many small business owners. Read More…

These Are 3 Little-Known Metrics That May Tell Us if a Recession Is Coming

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Is a recession coming? Absolutely, positively yes. When? Who the heck knows?

Even with the economy as strong as it is, some economists warn that it could be sometime in the next year. Others are not so pessimistic. The media reports that unemployment is low and that Gross Domestic Product is on the rise. But then “They” say that housing starts have stalled and that wages are stagnant. But then “they” say that small and consumer confidence is at an historical high. Is all this conflicting data really helpful?

I’ve learned, as a result of the Great Recession of 2009, to keep an eye on three little known metrics that helped me to gauge whether or not an economic slowdown is coming. Of course, they’re not completely foolproof. But they each have a reliable history of predicting downturns. Read More…

Are robots coming for your lawyer?

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

There’s a lot of attention being paid to how artificial intelligence technology will potentially replace many low-paid, low-level, unskilled jobs like retail clerks, customer service agents and factory workers. But now a startup is taking aim at a different kind of industry – one with highly skilled, highly paid professionals: law firms.

San Francisco-based Atrium has just raised $65m from a few very well-known venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, General Catalyst and Greylock Partners, and recently welcomed Marc Andreessen as a board observer.

So why all the fuss about a company that just opened its doors only 14 months ago? It’s because Atrium is doing something that hasn’t yet been done: use artificial intelligence to completely disrupt the legal industry, a disruption that could potentially replace many high-priced lawyers with inexpensive machines. Read More…

Businesses are confident in Trump’s economy – but challenges still loom

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

One thing’s for sure: small businesses are definitely feeling optimistic.

Ever since Donald Trump took office in early 2017 there have been dozens of surveys reporting increased confidence among small business owners in the economy. Just last month the National Federation of Independent Businesses said that the confidence level of the small businesses it surveyed were at its second highest level in the 45-year history of their monthly index. A recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey also reported “record high” levels of small business confidence in July.

Now, the US Chamber of Commerce is weighing in. The chamber, which represents about 3 million businesses nationwide, publishes a quarterly Small Business Index with insurance firm MetLife. Its latest report, released last week, showed that almost 70% of small business owners have a positive outlook about their companies and the small business environment in the US. It’s the sixth consecutive quarter in a row that the report showed an increase and a jump of more than seven percentage points since the beginning of the year. (The US chamber is a client of my firm, The Marks Group, but I have received no compensation from them for this report.) Read More…

Xero’s Cloud Accounting Turns To AI …And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Xero expands machine learning features for small businesses.

At Xerocon Brisbane 2018 this week, cloud accounting firm Xero announced new machine learning features for small businesses. Examples of the new offerings are a ‘files required’ feature, which allows advisers to identify and collect client documents in one place; a ‘more intuitive invoicing experience’ that uses machine learning to make it easier to invoice customers and speed up time to pay; and Xero email-to-bills, which expands on an existing machine learning feature for Xero bills, to extract and automatically populate details from any email PDF bill into Xero. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business: Read More…