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Vice President Pence’s vacation might just have cost this small business $20,000

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

All small businesses face their own unique challenges. So it is little surprise that safety and weather conditions would top of the list for Bruce and Pam Wood, the owners of the Above It All Balloon Company, located near Aspen, Colo. But even the Woods can’t think of everything.

They learned this hard lesson recently.

For the past 25 years, customers of the Above It All Balloon Company have not only enjoyed scenic floats across the Elk Mountain Range of the Aspen and Snowmass areas but — on landing — a delicious champagne brunch, chocolate-covered strawberries and a personalized flight certificate as a souvenir of the experience. It’s a local favorite and a great business. But unfortunately, as the Woods were recently reminded, running a business such as theirs in an area known for drawing celebrities, VIPSs and politicians, can have its risks. Read More…

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Will new Calif. ammunition law steer more business to gun stores?

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

California’s legalization of recreational marijuana has captured many headlines this year. But could another controversial industry also be getting a boost?

The state’s licensed gun dealers — most of them small businesses — may benefit from a new law that took effect on Jan. 1. The law requires buyers who live in the state to purchase their ammunition face-to-face. That means they can no longer order these products online and have them delivered directly to their homes. Read More…

10 big things we learned about small business in 2017

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

During 2017 I learned a lot of things from many very smart business people reported here. These are 10 of my favorite takeaways.

It’s tough for female entrepreneurs — two of them had to create a fake guy to get their calls returned.
There’s no sexual harassment or abuse here, but the story — in my opinion — is just as important. Do we still live in a world where women in business have to pretend to be men just to get a response from their website developer? Apparently so. Read More…

Facebook wants users who ask for likes to stop asking for likes

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

There are more than 70 million small business pages on Facebook as well as billions of users. For many freelancers, publishers, bloggers, celebrities, small business owners and corporations, Facebook is used to not only engage a community but also to show off to others — prospective customers or clients — just how big their community is. To do that you need likes and for that reason it’s not uncommon to find many on the social media site begging for others to like their pages.

Well, Facebook wants that to end. Why? Their audience tells them that for many, it’s just too much noise. Read More…

Get ready business owners: minimum wages are going up all over the place in 2018

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Minimum wages are going up. Are you ready?

The worker advocacy group National Employment Law Project projects that in 2018 21 states and 38 cities and counties will see their minimum wages increased as a result of ballot measures passed in previous years that will be taking effect. USA Today reports that in Maine, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island, the minimum hourly pay will go up from $9 to $10 next year and larger employers will see an increase to $15 per hour in New York City and San Francisco. Cities in California like Mountainview and Sunnyvale will see an increase from $13 to $15 per hour beginning on the first of the year. Read More…

Attention freelance goalies: Canada’s looking for you!

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

There’s lots of great ways for a freelancer to make some money. You can blog. Do bookkeeping. Put up drywall. You can even be a freelance Santa. But if you like to play hockey and can tend a little goal, well, our friends up north have some opportunities for you.

Just ask 51-year-old Jacques Gravel. The Montreal resident is one of a growing number of not-so-over-the-hill athletes who’s making a few extra bucks by filling in as a goaltender in men’s leagues and other hockey games in his local area. “When the goalie shows up in the dressing room, they’re thrilled — you’re the star of the team and very much appreciated,” he said in this Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News report. Why? There’s a big demand for goalies throughout Canada and Gravel is one of the many part-time entrepreneurs taking advantage of the trend. Read More…

The NLRB took three big actions last week that employers will love

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

In late September, the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency that is charged with safeguarding employees’ rights to organize as unions, became Republican controlled. And the panel lost no time reversing prior Obama-era rulings that affected employers.

“They clearly came to the board knowing what they wanted to do,” Wilma Liebman, a former Democratic NLRB member who once served as chairwoman, said in this National Law Journal report.

Just this week, the board overturned three big regulations that will impact thousands of employers going forward. Read More…