The Week in Small Business – 04.09.11

by Kevin Casey on April 9, 2011
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We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.

Government Set to Shut Down

In spite of burning the midnight oil in hopes of striking a budget deal, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over the federal budget. That means as I write this, the U.S. government is hours away from shutdown, affecting a wide range of federal workers, programs, and services. What does that mean for your business? Get Intuit Small Business Blog’s take. (Update: False alarm!)

The 1099 Witch Is (Almost) Dead

The federal government might be going on vacation, but before doing so the Senate passed a bill that would repeal the much-maligned 1099 rule set to take effect next year. The bill had already cleared the House. Next stop: The Oval Office, where it awaits President Obama’s signature. While the hullabaloo and political posturing around the rule grew tiresome, it wasn’t entirely misplaced: If enforced to the letter of the legislation, it would have potentially caused an avalanche of paperwork for small businesses beginning in 2011. In short, you’d have to issue a 1099 to just about everyone that your business spends $600 or more with during the year. The President indicated in his State of the Union address that he would support getting rid of the rule. See above, however: At the moment, he’s grappling with larger concerns.

Don’t Embarrass Your Business with Social Media

Reuters columnist Deborah L. Cohen took a look this week at what lessons small businesses should learn from a recent string of high-profile gaffes on Twitter. The CEO of web hosting firm GoDaddy — no stranger to provocative PR and advertising — became the latest social misfit, joining the likes of Kenneth Cole and Chrysler in the tweet hall of shame. The takeaway: Controversy might generate buzz, but it can also damage the bottom line.

Cap on Debit Card Transaction Fees in Limbo

Robb Mandelbaum of The New York Times checks in with an update on the Federal Reserve’s plan to cap debit card transaction fees. The new rules, which the Fed first proposed in December, would limit the fee levied by card issuers to 12 cents each time a customer swipes their card, instead of charging a percentage of the purchase price. That could be good news for small businesses and their customers. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said this week that the central bank’s board would miss its deadline for finalizing the rules, where were mandated by last year’s financial reform, because of a deluge of public comments on the increasingly contentious proposal.

Did the Recession Create a Lost Generation of Small Businesses?

Based on an analysis of recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Scott Shane, an entrepreneurship professor at Case Western Reserve University, proposes that the Great Recession decimated the ranks of the self-employed, and especially the incorporated self-employed. According to Shane’s account, there are 1.1 million fewer self-employed people in the U.S. than at the start of the recession in 2007.

This Article Is Making Me Thirsty

A delicious dispatch from north of the border: The Toronto Star profiles a recent boom in small craft beer brewers in the Ontario province. The piece touches on some topics of interest to virtually all local businesses, such as pricing and profit margins, government bureaucracy, and finding the funding you need to get your idea off the ground.

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