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Is an influencer promoting your business? Sign an agreement – or risk getting burned

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

These days many a small business may be thinking about hiring a social media influencer to help create buzz about their business. It may be worthwhile. But for one owner of a small cafe in Melbourne, it turned into a disaster.

Con Katsiogiannis, in an effort to draw a cool crowd to his business, last year hired Chloe Roberts, a self-described “gym ambassador”, fellow Aussie and social media influencer. Roberts is no Kim Kardashian (who reportedly charges anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000 an Instagram post, if you believe that) but she’s no Instagram slouch either. As of this writing, she has about 128,000 followers who like to keep up on what she’s doing, where she’s eating and what her tan looks like. Read More…

What’s the dynamic demographic running America’s small businesses? Older people

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

The hot fintech startup genius. That amazing e-commerce savant who created a billion-dollar company selling shoes from her apartment. The cool owner of a cosmetics line. The game-changing inventor of an eco-friendly toothpaste. These are tomorrow’s business owners, right? No, not even close.

Although the media loves to write and feature all of these sexy, young, exciting millennial entrepreneurs, they are far from representative of the people who are actually running small businesses in America in 2019. The majority of small business entrepreneurs are baby boomers.

That’s according to an email survey of more than 2,700 male and female small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the US that was conducted by the small business financing company Guidant Financial and the online credit marketplace LendingClub Corporation. Read More…

Tax season was good news for small businesses – and bad for job seekers

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

A new survey revealed some interesting things about small businesses and this past year’s tax season. Plus some bad news for job seekers and some good news for Donald Trump.

For starters – and despite all the news about smaller refunds and the complexities of the 2017 tax reform legislation – small businesses were actually happy with the way this past year’s tax season turned out. About 51% of the more than 300 small business owners asked in a recent study conducted by the cloud hosting firm Right Networks said their tax season was either “streamlined” or “satisfying” with only 8% saying it was “disappointing”.

The – ahem – accountants (you’re welcome) got much of the credit. Overwhelmingly, in fact. Read More…

A Senate idea to get behind: new bill would help ex-prisoners start a business

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee on small business and entrepreneurship, last month introduced the New Start Act. The legislation is designed to enable the Small Business Administration to award grants, counseling, training and other services to convicted criminals returning back to society after time served, all with the aim towards helping them start businesses.

Cardin is not new to the issue of prison reform. He was a co-sponsor of another bill, enacted at the end of 2018, which reduced sentences for certain low-level non-violent offenders and provided programs to help people who have been in prison rejoin their communities. The New Start bill will take this one step further. Read More…

Here’s one tax that restaurant owners just might approve of

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

Ask any restaurant owner today and they’ll tell you that running their business is not easy. Costs are creeping up, margins are tight and the competition is tough. So the last thing a restaurateur would want is another tax, right?

Maybe not.

That’s what Anthony Myint is hoping. Myint is the co-owner of Mission Chinese, a popular restaurant with locations in the Bay Area and New York. He’s concerned with the environment and particularly global warming. So he has decided to do something about it. And because of his efforts, the state of California will have a new tax this fall that restaurant owners are being asked to levy on their customers. It’s called the Restore California Renewable Restaurant program. But don’t worry, tax-haters: this tax isn’t as onerous as you might think. Read More…

Small business owners: be smart with marketing, and don’t mess with LGBTQ

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

How many times do I have to tell you? It’s 2019!

That means if you’re running a small business, you need to be very careful about your marketing. Your business can’t have a sign showing a sexy cow. You need to be careful of cultural appropriation. And you shouldn’t “play” with the LGBTQ acronym. This kind of stuff will get you in trouble.

That’s what Jamie Smith, the owner of Belle’s Smokin BBQ, a food truck in Williamstown, Kentucky learned. Read More…

Does wearing a fake smile for customers drive you to drink? Maybe

(This post originally appeared on The Guardian)

How nice should you be to your customers? The answer, according to two recent university studies, is a little conflicting.

If you’re too nice, you may find yourself excessively drinking. That’s the conclusion of one study conducted by researchers at Penn State University and the University of Buffalo. The researchers combined phone interviews with other data from the National Institutes of Health to survey more than 4,500 workers across the country and zeroed in on employees working in service industries such as food, healthcare and education. Read More…