The Week in Small Business – 07.02.11

by Kevin Casey on July 2, 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.

Amazon.com Drops California Affiliates

California small businesses that rely on revenue from the Amazon Associates Program got some bad news this week: They’re fired. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will require online retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax on orders that originate in the state. Amazon.com cut its California affiliates loose to bolster its claim that it has no physical presence in the state — and therefore shouldn’t have to collect sales taxes on behalf of the government. Over at InformationWeek, the CEO of ChannelAdvisor outlined the two — yep, there’s only two — options for small businesses scrambling to keep the affiliate cash flowing.

Fed Passes Modified Cap on Debit Fees

The Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to limit debit card fees at 24 cents per transaction — twice the 12 cents it had previously proposed. Some retailers are upset about the compromise, reports The Washington Times. Still, small businesses that accept debit cards should still see savings under the new cap — The New York Times notes that under the previous rules, the average fee was around 44 cents per transaction.

Google Gets a Plus

There was much ado this week about Google’s new social networking play, called the Google+ project. It’s in a “limited field trial” at the moment, and earlier this week Google stopped handing out invites to test the service. It’s worth keeping a social eye on, though, as it moves toward a more public launch. Google has had some false starts in this arena (Remember Buzz? No?), but the preview seems promising. Not to be outdone, Facebook said it will unveil something “awesome” next week. Mashable reports the awesomeness will manifest in the form of a video chat feature powered by Skype.

Small Business, Meet Small Claims Court

A Los Angeles Times piece takes a peek inside the small claims court system and the benefits — and potential challenges — its presents to small business owners. The story notes the small claims process can be a relatively inexpensive method of dealing with nonpaying customers and settling other business disputes — no lawyer necessary. That said, it’s an imperfect system, and actually collecting on judgments can prove to be a thornier issue. As one business owner says: “It’s the last tool you want to use.”

What Wyoming and the Cayman Islands Have in Common

Hint: It’s not the scuba diving. Rather, a Reuters investigation sheds light on seedier side of business incorporation and how Wyoming has joined better-known havens for hiding financial assets. The report uncovers a single address in Cheyenne with more than 2,000 businesses registered to it and takes a look at the world of shell companies — as well its more wiley cousin, the “shelf” company. Needless to say, not your garden-variety dba. The piece notes that a cottage “mass incorporation” industry has sprung up as a result.

Kevin Casey is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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