Small Business Brief for 11/10

Politics and Government

Post-Election Hope on Health and Fear on Unions The election of Barack Obama as president presents small businesses with an opportunity for health care reform but an imminent threat on labor issues. That was the assessment of small business groups that congratulated Obama on his election victory and pledged to work with him to restore the economy.

Obama Team Debates Initial Priorities
President-elect Barack Obama and his advisers are debating whether to press forward with economic-recovery initiatives individually or to attempt change on several fronts at the same time.

SBA Provides Link to Federal Post-Disaster Contracting Opportunities for Small Business

Information about federal contacting opportunities for small businesses able to support post-disaster cleanup and rebuilding in areas devastated by recent storms and flooding is now accessible through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Contracting Assistance Center.

Economics and Labor Issues

Productivity Rises as Employee Hours Drop
The productivity rate in the third quarter rose faster than expected even as working hours were reduced at the fastest clip in six years, according to a new Labor Department report.

Polls: Companies Slashing Raises and Planning Layoffs
It appears companies are being strategic about how they reduce their workforces, as they are paying involuntary severance packages rather than voluntary ones. It may indicate companies are making a greater effort to weed out low performers rather than just offer buyouts and see who takes them.

Law and Regulation Enforcement

Only Deduct the Business Use of Your Car
Business columnist Karen E. Klein's advice is to keep track of business mileage separately from personal mileage since only the business use of a car may be deducted from taxes. She also discusses cultivating a banker to get a loan and raising your company profile through networking.

Get Legal Advice Before Facing a Lawsuit
Asking a lawyer how your company can avoid being sued is as important as getting fire insurance.

Doing Business

How to Do Business Like the Mafia

This article from Great Britain's Guardian newspaper lists 7 rules for running a successful business—legitimate or otherwise—based on the example of jailed Cosa Nostra chief Bernardo Provenzano.

Small Business Employees Using More HSAs
Health savings accounts lower the cost of health care for employers and give employees a tax hedge. This year, A Kaiser Family Foundation study indicates that 8% to 13% more small-business employees are using such plans.

Sales and Marketing

Where to Sell Online
There is a wide assortment of e-commerce sites from the general to the very specialized that can help you sell your junk or expand your online retail operations.

Building a Sales Machine

Even among small companies, sales should be managed like any business function.

Why Niche Marketing Works
Susan Friedmann, a small business marketing consultant and author of Riches in Niches: How to Make it Big in a Small Market, says it's hard for a generalist to make a mark these days, but becoming an expert with a narrow focus can pay off big time. (Podcast)