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What’s the Catch? Why Big Companies Give Money to Small Businesses

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

Just this past week JP Morgan Chase announced a new programOpens a New Window. committing $75 million over three years to help small businesses, particularly ones owned by minorities, women and veterans. Pretty nice, right?

The program includes a $1.9 million grant to the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) to support its programs to connect small business owners with alternative funding sources when they are unable to qualify for traditional loans. The bank also extended its collaboration with a nonprofit lender called LiftFund with another $4.6 million grant, which builds on the grants and financial support it has been giving in the past to organizations that support local entrepreneurs.

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More Profits for the Gun Industry. Good for Them

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

Sprague’s Sports is a small business that sells guns.

The store, which is located in Yuma, Arizona – a town that boasts a population of about 125,000 people – also sells gun accessories such as ammunition, maps, cleaning gear and hats. It sells gun safes and offers repair services for firearms. It offers memberships to those who want to come and be trained how to shoot their guns safely in its state-of-the-art indoor range.

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Is This the Real Reason Restaurants Are Losing Customers?

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

Is the restaurant industry about to enter into a recession? Some analysts think so.

According to this recent pieceOpens a New Window. from the National Restaurant News, “industry same-store sales are falling at such a meaningful rate that they’re signaling not just an industry-wide problem, but could be a ‘harbinger’ for a full-blown recession next year.” Industry analyst Paul Westra has already downgraded 11 restaurant chains, saying that that the fall “reflects the start of a U.S. restaurant recession” and that it “may also represent a harbinger to a U.S. recession in early 2017.”

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Can’t Get a Loan for Your Business? I Don’t Believe it

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

I speak to many of my clients each month about how their businesses are doing — and the health of the economy in general. And to be sure, I hear the usual grumblings about high taxes, slow growth and too many regulations. But you know what I don’t hear? I don’t hear any complaints about getting financing. And there’s a reason for that. The financing environment for small businesses in 2016 is not just good: It’s great. In fact, it’s better than it was before the Great Recession.

Yes, venture capital and angel investing have both recently slowed. But that kind of financing is for a niche of start-ups and tech companies that aren’t truly reflective of small business in America. For my clients – the established small businesses who reside in industrial parks and office complexes around the country and distribute pipes, manufacture film, mow lawns, fix roofs and serve meals – the financing environment is strong. When they want loans to grow their companies they have plenty of options today. Read More…

Costco Drops AmEx: Big Mistake?

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

Just the other week my wife and I went to a highly recommended Italian restaurant in South Philadelphia. It was a typical family place right out of the Godfather – checkered table cloths, big portions, waiters with moustaches wearing white.  But, I was assured, no guns taped behind toilets in the men’s room. We enjoyed the meal. But we won’t eat there again. Was it the food? The service? The ambiance? None of that. It was the payment.

The place didn’t accept credit cards. So I had to pay cash. What is this “cash” that people speak of?  Who has heard of this thing?  I didn’t have cash. I had cash in 1985.  But not today. So I was forced into using an ATM that was conveniently located at the back…for a $4.00 fee. Why no credit cards? My guess is the owner is trying to save on fees (a note: the prices weren’t any lower so I guess those cost savings aren’t being passed down to his customers). Maybe he likes keeping a cash business off the books from the IRS; or he’s padding his pockets with the extra he makes from the ATM. You see these places all the time. Still. In 2016. Take photos. Like full service gas stations, bank branches and tube socks — they are a quickly dying breed.

Which brings me to Costco and American Express. Read More…

Take it From This CPA: Use H&R Block

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

Who’s better when it comes to filing taxes: H&R Block or an accountant? If you’re an accountant like me, my answer may surprise you.

The 2,200-person tax preparation giant grosses more than $3 billion a year and is worth about $5 billion. During the last quarter of H&R Block’s fiscal 2015 year the company earned more than $731 million. And, although the company has had its challenges this year, analysts are expecting to see similar results for 2016 when they release earnings Thursday after market close. H&R Block has figured out how to make lots of money from both preparing tax returns and investing its (and its clients’) cash. Many accountants consider them to be the enemy. But they’re not.

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The Secret to Saving Sears

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(This post originally appeared on Fox Business)

My dog had her anal glands expressed last week. And it got me thinking about Sears.

 You may be thinking: TMI! But anyone who owns a dog knows what I’m talking about. The minute my wife and I saw her scooting around the carpets in an attempt to scratch those intimate places of hers – well, we knew it was time. We didn’t take her to the vet (too expensive) or to Petco (in my opinion, too impersonal). We marched her to a local store called Doggy Style. It took just a few, smelly minutes. All is good.

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