Tuesday, January 31, 2012

David Strom on Startup Weekend, or How To Star A New Company In 50 Hours Or Less http://ping.fm/MbXJa Sounds really cool to me. #SmallBiz
Newsflash: Store brands ain't always cheaper, according to the Wall St. Journal. Do your customers know that? http://ping.fm/cVK6M #SmallBiz

Monday, January 30, 2012

via Gene Marks: CNBC's Phil Simon on 6 things #SmallBiz can learn from the big guys http://ping.fm/WCfyd What about vice versa?
Everybody loves the Home Office Tax Deduction, right? Not Mitt Romney. And the Wall St. Journal can't make up its mind! http://ping.fm/hILen

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2 Views On The Home Office Deduction – From The Same Source!

Lots of really small businesses – and remote workers – work out of home offices. And many of those folks want to take a tax deduction for that space. It’s one of the most popular tax deductions out there – but it’s also a red flag for the IRS, often triggering dreaded audits. 

So what’s a small business to do? Well, if you asked the Wall Street Journal last week, you’d have gotten two very different answers 

On January 24th, the Journal published a helpful collection of Tips To Help You Claim A Home Office Deduction. Author Barbara Weltman lays out the basic rules and concludes with suggestions to talk to your tax adviser (uh, thanks, then why am I reading this?) and keep good records, and a link to the relevant IRS Publication: Business Use of Your Home.  

So far so good.

But four days later, on January 28, the Journal warns against taking the deduction in a very different piece on What You Can Learn From Mitt’s Tax Return. In a slick interactive tour of the return, Laura Sanders lauds Mr. Romney for a variety of effective tax-lowering strategies, including Item D:
D. If you have a "Schedule C" business, think twice before claiming a home-office deduction. The Romneys didn't take one on either of two Schedule C forms, which are for business results reported on personal returns. The Romneys used their Schedule C forms for director's fees and speaking fees.
Not only do home-office deductions raise red flags at the IRS, but they can come back to haunt taxpayers when the home is sold: Part of the gain on the home's sale may not be eligible for the $250,000 or $500,000 tax exclusion because taxpayers who took depreciation deductions in prior years have to reduce the exclusion by that amount.
In addition to raising taxes in many cases, this poses a record-keeping problem, Mr. Ochsenschlager says.
To be clear, it seems that the second article is addressing taking a deduction for depreciation on your home office, not other expenses, such as rent (like the Romneys would be renters!) Bottom line: while the home office deduction may be a tempting way to save a few bucks, if the freaking Wall Street Journal can't figure out if it's dangerous, it may not be the best choice for most small businesses. Hell, it’s making me think twice even as I write this sitting in my very own home office.

Does Your Small Business Need An IT Person?

Technology is incredibly important to many small businesses, yet they often struggle with the expense of hiring a dedicated IT person. And even if they do decide to bite the bullet, a one-or-two person IT staff can’t possibly be experts on every technology issue faced by a typical small business?

It seems that big companies see this problem as a market opportunity. At least according to a recent Wall Street Journal article — Small IT Market Attracts Big Companies — that notes moves by Apple and Best Buy to buy companies dedicated to the market. The article cites IDC research saying “U.S. businesses with less than 500 employees spent roughly $23.5 billion on IT services last year, and are projected to spend $27.2 billion on IT services by 2015.”

That’s a lot of money, but the numbers don't really address how much of that is spent by small businesses (500 employees is more mid-size).

To me, the growth opportunity here comes in small businesses NOT having to invest in these kinds of services, or at least reducing their expenses. Ongoing trends like the consumerization of IT (think iPhones and easy networking) and cloud computing (think Gmail and Salesforce.com) are making it easier than ever for small businesses to handle their own technology needs.  

Sure, at some point in a company’s growth cycle, they may need more IT oomph, and then they can look to hire an IT person or hook up with a IT services provider. But in the meantime, I think small businesses should look for every opportunity to leverage technology without having to resort to paying extra for someone to do it for them. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Does your #SmallBiz need an IT person? The WSJ says it's a market opp for big biz. I say avoid it as long as you can http://ping.fm/VkFg5
Would you buy glasses in a yurt? NY Times on a pop-store that sells 'em in one in Soho http://ping.fm/zhL1e I love yurts, but... #SmallBiz

Friday, January 27, 2012

Notes From MacWorld/iWorld 2012

I had a good first impression walking into MacWorld 2012. Unlike the last couple years, it seemed MUCH less like iPhone Case World. Of course, there were still plenty of accessories on the fringes of the show, and I did see this combo iPhone case / bottle opener. Because it really makes sense to spend $20 to turn your $300 smartphone into a $0.39 church key!

I was also pleased to see that the show had a business component: MacIT. But even though vendors throughout the show commented on how Mac use in companies continues to grow, this area was banished to the third floor and seemed relatively sparse and poorly attended.

Imagine what would happen if Apple actually made an effort to meet the needs of business customers and IT departments? Instead of continuing to struggle to force their way into the business world, Macs might be as common in businesses as they have become among consumers!

But most of the show's energy seemed focused on media creation, like this performance by moe.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

AllBusiness had what #SmallBiz can learn from Lady Gaga http://ping.fm/p8lfA Now GigaOm has what you can learn from a crime boss! http://ping.fm/zzgEt
A good time to sell your business? BizBuySell says more small businesses changed hands in 2011, but mostly flat http://ping.fm/i4YXz #SmallBiz
WSJ says big banks are lending again. Yay. http://ping.fm/Grgn2 But will #SmallBiz get any of that cash?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Romney's tax rate is 15%. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/us/politics/facing-pointed-attacks-romney-urges-focus-on-obama.html What's yours? Mine is higher than that...
I love David Strom's Startup Rules of the Road, especially "keep your recurring costs low" http://ping.fm/vXGPW #SmallBiz
Check out Springwise's top 10 biz ideas for 2012. My faves? Pothole-detector app and "thermodynamic stones!" http://ping.fm/2HzMb #SmallBiz

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Slate says big businesses innovate better but shouldn't be monopolies http://ping.fm/uWeLw I don't believe they innovate better #SmallBiz

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ooops, lets try that #SBA story link again: http://ping.fm/negXk
Obama elevates Small Business Administration to Cabinet level. Why aren't I more excited? http://ping.fm/pNBR9 #SBA #SmallBiz

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What you look at DOES make a difference: 10 inspiring small business office views. http://ping.fm/yTTzI #SmallBiz

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

@HarryMcCracken: The Consumer Electronics Show means business, too. Thank the Consumerization Of IT http://ping.fm/8DypQ #CES #AllBusiness
AllBusiness Daily News: Consumer borrowing surges. Not necessarily good news for small businesses. http://ping.fm/R9Dop #SmallBiz

Monday, January 9, 2012

AllBusiness Daily News: Ultrabooks to the rescue from Lenovo, Acer, others. Do small businesses care? http://ping.fm/WHBH6 #SmallBiz

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hiring is picking up. These 5 tips can make sure you don't make an offer to the wrong person http://ping.fm/a4Nxj #SmallBiz
Study: Parking at first available spot then walking saves time (+ more) over looking for a “better” spot. I knew it! http://ping.fm/gC8eX
AllBusiness Daily News: Recovery up and unemployment down! Does it look that way to your #SmallBiz? http://ping.fm/rmdis

Thursday, January 5, 2012

10 Radical ways REAL entrepreneurs raised cash in a bad economy. Bet there are a couple you never thought of! http://ping.fm/7lji3 #SmallBiz
AllBusiness Daily News: Cordray appointment to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is GOOD news for small businesses http://ping.fm/pqMIq #SmallBiz

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AllBusiness Daily News: #BofA to drop/restructure its risky #SmallBiz loans. Thanks sooooo much! http://ping.fm/Jn3rL

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Evil HR Lady says "Hire someone you hate." Good advice, but I say "Hire someone, anyone!" http://ping.fm/rmweV #SmallBiz
AllBusiness Daily News: Consumer confidence keeps rising. So aren't I more confident about the economy? http://ping.fm/GvECQ #SmallBiz