In the News
An article in this week’s edition of Buffalo Business First reports that although levels of entrepreneurship are the highest they have been in the last 15 years, few of these new enterprises are hiring employees. This data comes from a recent study conducted by the Kauffman Foundation. It seems that while the recession is providing a ripe environment for start-ups (particularly, new tech start-ups), it’s not easy for these individual proprietors to establish and staff their new enterprises.
Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselor Andrea Lizak weighs in: “The main problem is that entrepreneurs can’t afford to hire, so the transition [from entrepreneur to business owner] is difficult.”
Are we reaching a phase in which entrepreneurial growth does not necessarily coincide with job creation or economic growth? Kauffman Foundation president and CEO Carl Schramm says that this trend could have “both short- and long-term impacts.”
It’s clear, however, that the small business sector is growing…gradually. The monthly small business index (compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business Owners) “has hit its highest level since December 2007,” Kent Hoover reports for Business First. Businesses are also investing in equipment (computers and software), according to a study by the NPD Group. So why aren’t small businesses hiring?
What we see here are two parallel issues:
From a broad perspective, how do we invest in small business in a way that promotes job creation? What kind of regulatory atmosphere fosters job growth in the small business sector?
On an individual level, how does one make that transition from sole-proprietor to small business employer?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not an economic strategist. So I’ll defer to the real economic advisers for solutions to our nation’s high unemployment.
But for the individual entrepreneur, we have some insight:
As a sole-proprietor, you are the entirety of your company. But, as you might come to find, you can’t do everything. Still, it’s not as simple as finding the right person and signing their paychecks (if you can even manage to do that, that is). Other administrative and tax-related steps must be taken, such as applying for an EIN, filing I-9s and W4s, and reporting new hires to the state. The SBA outlines these steps in this comprehensive article.
If you’re not yet at this point, then you’re main challenge is how to grow your business. For that, we encourage you to talk to a counselor and explore what specific resources are available to you. You can also check out our small business self-audit to determine what areas you need to work on to establish your business or take it to the next level. Also, I recommend tuning in to this video series put on by SBA and Dell about small business growth strategies.
It’s important to know that this kind of information and support is out there. Because in the grand scheme of things, it’s in everyone’s interest when a small business succeeds, grows, creates jobs, and contributes to our rebounding economy.
What are your thoughts on small business and job creation? What is your experience with the transition from sole-proprietor to small business owner and employer? Let us know in a comment below.
Remember when we wrote back in March about the work being done to promote contracting opportunities for women and minorities in small business? While those initiatives were focused here in New York State, they coincided with SBA’s initial proposal in February to account for the under-representation of women business owners in federal contracting.
Well this month, the SBA has made its rule official: to implement a women-owned small business (WOSB) contracting program. Because the federally-set minimum of 5% contract allocation to WOSBs has not yet been met, the program will offer the tools and support needed to make up for this deficiency. Astoundingly, 83 different industries have been identified (by this RAND study) in which WOSBs are under-represented or substantially under-represented.
There are some noteworthy provisions of the new rule:
- “Women-owned” is defined as 51% ownership and control of the business by a female US citizen. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.
- The final rule removes the requirement, set forth in a prior proposed version, that each federal agency certify that it had engaged in discrimination against women-owned small businesses in order for the program to apply to contracting by that agency.
- The proposed rule allows women-owned small businesses to self-certify as “WOSBs” or to be certified by third-party certifiers, including government entities and private certification groups. WOSBs that self-certify are required to submit a robust certification verification, to complete the certifications at the federal Online Representation and Certification Application (“ORCA”) Web site, and also to submit a core set of eligibility-related documents to an online “document repository” to be maintained by the SBA.
You can read the full run-down of the final rule components here: PDF
SBA will begin a 120-day implementation process for the program. Contracts should be available in early 2011.
You may know that the Canisius College Women’s Business Center has taken increased measures in the past year to help women in business become certified and obtain contracts, particularly with our certification and contracting webinar series. We look forward to continuing this necessary focus on contract procurement opportunities for women-owned business and working with the SBA as it implements this crucial program.
What do you think about the final rule? Have you experienced the certification and contracting process? Leave a comment.
Did you know that, even in 2010, there is still a considerable pay gap for women in the United States? According to the Corporate Gender Gap 2010 Report, issued by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, women make, on average, only 77% of the average male income. This incredible margin exists despite the fact that women account for more than half of the workforce (52%) and over half of college graduates. With the majority of our “human talent” represented by women, how is it that we are still consistently underpaid and undervalued, compared to our male counterparts?
In an effort to acknowledge this continued disparity, next week, on April 20th, the Women’s Business Center will be observing Equal Pay Day. This day, which symbolizes how far into 2010 women must work to earn what men made in 2009, was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to spread public awareness of gender wage disparity. That day, we ask that you wear red to illustrate how women are still “in the red” when it comes to their pay.
We also invite you to an event hosted by the Canisius College Women’s Studies Department and the Women’s Business Center scheduled for that Tuesday: “Equal Pay Day: A Dicussion and Workshop on Closing the Gender Pay Gap.” A panel discussion will address the realities of the gender pay gap issue and the following workshop will present tatics for women and students to effectively negotiate their salary. This event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information.
*all statistics from The World Economic Forum. Click here to access the full reports.
What do you think about pay equity? Leave a comment.
WASHINGTON – The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) is warning small businesses to use caution if they are contacted by firms offering to help them apply for funds available through SBA programs.
SBA and SBA’s Office of the Inspector General (SBA OIG) have received several complaints from small businesses about abusive marketing practices, scams, and exorbitant fees charged by firms offering to help them obtain a loan, grant, or other federal funds, from SBA.
Some of these complaints include:
- Firms charging small businesses high fees to provide assistance applying to SBA funding programs. Some firms allegedly guaranteed that the small business would obtain SBA funding if they paid the fee. SBA does not endorse or give preference to specific private companies or their clients.
- Firms charging small business for services never requested after the small business gave bank account and routing information to a caller claiming to be a firm offering assistance. SBA recommends that small businesses never provide social security numbers, bank account information, or credit card numbers to anyone; and, never over the telephone.
- Firms alleging that a small business would be issued a “foreiture letter” that would make the small business ineligible for any SBA funding for three years if the small business refused to use the firms services.
When electing to use a third party to apply for SBA funding programs, small businesses should also bear in mind:
- Small businesses can get free assistance in person or by calling one of SBA’s 68 District Offices [you can contact the Buffalo District Office at (716) 551-4301] and from information on SBA’s website. They can also get assistance from Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and SCORE Chapters, either free or for a reasonable fee. Location and contact information can be found on the SBA’s website.
- Small businesses should ask for references and confer with trusted colleagues and institutions, such as the Better Business Bureau, when selecting service providers.
- Small businesses should clearly establish and document: (1) What they are being charged; (2) When they will be charged; (3) What they must do; and (4) What services they will receive.
SBA’s Office of the Inspector General will investigate and respond to all complaints. SBA encourages anyone with knowledge of a misrepresentation regarding SBA Business Loan Programs, or any other SBA program, to contact SBA OIG by calling the OIG Hotline toll-free at (800) 767-0385, or submitting an online report at the SBA OIG website, and click the link for “Report Fraud Waste or Abuse.”
In other small business news, the SBA also announced that it will be extending Recovery funding through the month of April.
The $40 million extension is estimated to support about $1.4 billion in small business lending.
The SBA will continue to waive loan fees and provide higher guarantee levels for 7(a) loans until April 30th, 2010, or until the funds provided by the bill are exhausted.
To find out more about securing small business funding through the SBA, click here.
Click here to leave a comment.
Whether or not you agree with the legislation, the benefits it brings to small business owners and employees is indisputable. Steve Strauss, small business expert and USA Today contributor writes (in this article) that, overall, the bill is good for small business. Just consider the status quo, he says.
• Only 49% of businesses with 3 to 9 employees (the vast majority of small businesses) offered any type of health insurance to their employees in 2008, down from 58% less than a decade ago.
• 29% of employees at businesses with 25 employees or less were uninsured in 2007, and the number is certainly higher today.
Strauss goes on to say that, “the main reason health insurance is so expensive for small business is that there is a narrow pool of people being insured. Bigger companies with more employees are better able to spread the risk, so premiums are lower, and they also have more buying power due to their size.”
What the bill does is allow small businesses and the self-employed to purchase insurance plans through cooperative pools, or exchanges. “By pooling small businesses together,” Strauss writes, “these purchasing cooperatives are expected to offer rates that should be lower because of 1) increased group purchasing power, and 2) bigger pools of insured customers.”
But mandates for small business employers to provide health care coverage is what seems to have most people upset. These mandates, he says, will have little effect on small businesses, and exempt businesses with less than 50 employees. But even those companies are expected to buy in because of incentives like low cost through exchanges and the various tax breaks and credits included in the legislation.
Additionally, these benefits are also expected to lead to a boost in employment at small firms now offering coverage, or where affordable coverage has become available through purchasing pools.
So even if you think health care reform is a pill you just can’t swallow, know that these changes do in fact benefit small business and hopefully you’ll be seeing these changes soon.
What do you think about the bill? Leave a comment.
Today, WBC Executive Director Melinda Rath Sanderson is in Albany, participating in a Public Hearing held by the New York State Senate MWBE Task Force, New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and the Assembly Sub-Committee on Oversight of MWBEs. At the hearing, which aims to reform Article 15-A, Melinda will be testifying about our experience at the Women’s Business Center with MWBE goals, current participation, and state agency practices.
You may have seen that we recently held a webinar series with William Lobbins of the Erie County Equal Opportunity Division and Gerald McDuffie from Empire State Development about MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise) certification and government contracting. So we definitely realize a need for these kinds of opportunities for women and minority business owners, as well as the need to make small business owners aware of these kinds of opportunities.
The NYS Senate Task Force has similarly acknowledged that minority and woman business enterprises have “historically experience difficulty in obtaining access to capital” and now, in the midst of a global credit crisis, these issues need to be addressed with stronger legislation and more accessible procurement opportunities.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
Here in Buffalo, the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women and the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library are presenting a whole month of events. See the full line up here (adobe pdf).
If you’re on Twitter, I recommend following @womenable, published by Julie Weeks. She has a great series of “You Go Girls” posts in honor of Women’s History Month. She tweeted this great article yesterday about the diversity of women entrepreneurs, “The Power Girls.” Check it out here.
Are you doing anything to celebrate this month? If you’re local, do you plan on attending any of the special events?
Hi! Happy February!
I just wanted to stop in and share with a piece of relevant advice we came across. It comes form Janet W. Christy, author of Capitalizing on Being Woman Owned: Expert Advice for Women Who Have or Are Starting Their Own Business.
In light of the status of the economy and small business in 2010, she advises:
“Watch government announcements closely. In 2009, two characteristics of the stimulus package (officially the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT) became apparent. First, the money was going to come through the same channels it has always come – for example: road and bridge money would go to Departments of Transportation or cities or counties to award contracts. Second, most of the money was going to come very slowly. It is important to pledge to watch the government announcements about stimulus packages, incentives and other money related actions because those announcements will provide information about who will receive the money, how it can be used and may include clues about if and how Woman Owned Business can be involved.”
I’m sure many of you, like me, watched the State of the Union address last week. The focus, as predicted, was on the status of small business and jobs in our struggling economy.
President Obama offered these incentives:
“I’m proposing that we take $30-billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.”
At this time, these are just executive proposals, so we remind you to watch the legislative process, see what is passed, and how it can ultimately benefit you.
What do you think about these proposals?
Leave a comment!
This past weekend, the Senate bill on health care reform was cleared for debate during Saturday’s session. Much discourse has taken place as the issue has gone from campaign platform to its current state in the legislative process, with talking points ranging from the cost and its effect on the national deficit to the availability of basic health coverage for the currently uninsured.
But what implications are there for the small business owner?
Click here to read the White House’s fact sheet on How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Small Business and this report from the Council of Economic Advisors which examines the specific challenges faced by small businesses and their employees in respect to the health care debate.
Are you a small business owner? What do you think about health care reform?
Click here to leave a comment below.