The Week in Small Business – 09.03.11

by Kevin Casey on September 3, 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.

The Death of the Debit Card?

Small businesses scored a victory a while back when the Federal Reserve limited the transaction fees banks charge each time one of your customers swipes their plastic. It might be short-lived. Banks will test monthly account fees for consumers who use their debit card to pay for stuff. The New York Times notes that Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U.S. bank, will trial a $3-per-month debit card fee in five states beginning in October. A wider rollout could ultimately cause more shoppers to use credit cards, which incur higher fees for the merchants that accept them, nullifying the theoretical savings from the Fed’s swipe fee cap. Speaking as both a consumer and a business: I ain’t paying a monthly fee to spend money. I’ll use cash or credit instead.

Keeping Your Business Ready for Disaster

Some folks continue to toil without power and other resources in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and the season’s not over yet: Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katia are both roiling at sea. Though Katia is currently not expected to present much threat on land, Lee appears poised to impact the Gulf Coast. No time like now to check up your business’s readiness for disruption, whether from natural forces or just bad luck. Check out this advice on where to work when the power’s out at your home or office, these tips on keeping your technology up and running, or this general overview on disaster preparedness for businesses.

Self-Employed and House Hunting? Enjoy the Paperwork

If you earn most of your income on a 1099 — the IRS form used for freelancers, independent contractors, and other self-employed folks — prepare for a more arduous road to home ownership. The New York Times examines the extra hoops would-be home buyers must jump through if they’re self-employed. If you fall in this category, also check out the Intuit Small Business Blog’s post on securing a mortgage as a small business owner.

Tremble at the Freelancer Revolution!

Speaking of self-employment: Check out a new series in The Atlantic from Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz headlined “The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time.” Forthcoming posts promise to examine the impact of self-employment to the conventional wisdom on job security, government regulation, financial stability, and other topics.

Small Businesses Ease Off Borrowing Pedal

Amidst some other not-so-hot financial news, a recent surge in small business borrowing — generally considered a positive economic bellwether — tapered off in July, according to the latest Reuters/Paynet lending data. Borrowing was up 13 percent compared with July 2010, but had seen year-over-year spikes of 22 percent in June and 27 percent in May.

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