Friday, December 9, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Marketing is a key component in your business.

Are you a small business owner who needs help marketing and using social media but believes that there is no ROI on any of the two? Well, think again.

This link provides a snippet of what you are actually saying when you fail to include marketing into your budget.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Importance of Social Media!!

So ...... when we tell our clients that they NEED to be on FB and Twitter and LinkedIn, this is why. This is not your father's business climate. You not only need the customers you have now, you also need to prepare for the customers of the future, and they're on FB and Twitter!

Visit this website to learn

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Our thought is the key which unlocks the doors of the world. ” - Samuel McC. Crothers

Facebook Fans...what are they?

Have you been wondering as a business owner or marketer what the benefits of Facebook fans are? Also, how much more likely are they to do business with you than those who don't "like" you on Facebook. Click below to learn more about benefits of having Facebook fans.

Monday, November 28, 2011

10 Social Media Laws

If you have a small business or are thinking about opening up one, it is vital for you to know how social media works. Nowadays social media is part of our life and one of the best ways to advertise your business. Knowing the following laws of social media, will help your business elevate its audience and take its customer base to a higher level.

1. The Law of Listening

2. The Law of Focus

3. The Law of Quality

4. The Law of Patience

5. The Law of Influence

6. The Law of Value

7. The Law of Compounding

8. The Law of Acknowledgment

9. The Law of Accessibility

10. The Law of Reciprocity

To learn more about these 10 laws, visit the following site

Monday, November 21, 2011

Minority Outreach Program extends services of South Carolina Small Business Development Centers

SC Small Business Development Centers is home to a new and much needed program created to assist minorities in starting or growing small companies. Leading this new initiative is Minority Outreach Manager Garry James.

"We can help walk you through the development of your business plan which will assist in determining whether your idea is feasible or not. We can also assist in exploring ways to expand existing businesses and help determine markets for your products that you may not realize exist. One amazing area where we help is in government contracting. This is called procurement. We have procurement specialists with a wealth of knowledge and experience who help small companies secure state and federal contracts." - Garry James
For more information on this, please visit  -

Monday, November 14, 2011

Calling all small business owners in York County:

With the holiday season around the corner, take advantage of this opportunity to promote your business and attract more customers. On November 17, the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce will kick off its "buy local" campaign to promote locally owned businesses in York County. To find out more about this event, click on the link below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If we all Shop Small, it will be Huge!

This Saturday November 26th, will be the 2nd annual Small Business Saturday! This is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. So make the most of the day. From Twitter posts to posters, the link bellow has all sorts of tools to help your business get new customers and have a great Small Business Saturday!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

BIG NEWS About the SBA 504 Refinance Program!

This could be a huge benefit for small business owners who need to consolidate debt or refinance a loan in order to increase working capital.

The funding was approved last year, but it has taken a while to develop the program and set requirements to qualify.  The criteria for qualifying for these loans for existing businesses has just been finalized. This video will give you the whole scoop!  Click here for the 504 Refinance Program Video

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS (updated by 504LoanExperts as of October 12,2011):

Refinance proceeds to be used for:

1.Owner-occupied commercial real estate.
2.Machinery and equipment.
3.Itemized Business Expenses (such as salaries, rent, utilities, inventory, paying-down payables and other obligations of the business).
4.Closing costs associated with the project.

Loan being refinanced must have been current for the past year with no past dues more than 30 days (loan deferments and/or modifications are now eligible for refinancing as long as borrowers have not been past due on these newly modified terms).

Debt must be two (2) years or older prior to the date the application is received by the SBA.
Small business concern must have been in business for two years prior to the submission of the application.
In addition to a cash contribution, the borrower’s 10% contribution may be satisfied by its equity in the Eligible Fixed Asset(s) serving as collateral for the Refinancing Project or by the equity in any other fixed assets that are acceptable to SBA as collateral. (An independent appraisal of the fair market value of the project assets and any additional assets offered as additional collateral must be provided, dated within 6 months of application submission — we will engage the appraiser).

No refinancing of loans with an existing federal guaranty (includes 7(a), 504 and USDA loans).

Once the SBA has satisfied the immediate demand, it will open the program to the other small business that have balloon notes and ultimately to small businesses that would realize a substantial cash flow benefit as a result of this program.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Marketing tip of the day

Tired of doing marketing research online? Well here is another option – leave the computer and hit the stores! Once you are there, don’t focus on you but focus on the customers. Look at what customers are buying, what are stores offering that’s attracting customers? What ideas can you get from them? What are stores offering as promotions and discounts? With this data you will learn a lot.

Having behavioral data is the best way of improving your knowledge of what people want and a great way to learn more about your target.

By doing this you will see some interesting customer behavior that you wouldn’t be able to find online, so if you’re tired of doing online marketing research... leave the computer and hit the stores. This way you will learn new things about your customers you would never find online!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It’s more than just the sale.....

Usually business owners or marketers feel like their job is to get prospective clients to fall for our marketing and purchase our product. The reality of marketing goes way beyond this.

Good marketers know that they need to manage the entire customer experience and not just a sale. By doing so, not only will you attract clients to purchase your goods and services, but you will keep them, communicate to them and leverage them to be loyal clients in the future. 

As a business owner or marketer, you should always focus on creating happy clients. That’s what it’s all about!  Don’t just focus on the front end but also on the after sale.  Focus on building long lasting relationships with your existing clients and you will see how they do the marketing for you. They will become some of your greatest marketing assets.  

How are you communicating to your clients? Are you just trying to sell them more? Focus on the complete messaging before, during and after the purchase. If you fail to do so, you will see that attracting and retaining clients will become more and more difficult with time.  

By focusing your marketing communication throughout their patronage with your company, you will maintain your current client base as well as setting your company up for word-of-mouth referrals and future growth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 lessons Steve Jobs left us with

The legendary tech genius Steve Jobs passed away on Oct. 5, leaving a great void in the world. However, Jobs will also be remembered for leaving behind a series of memorable and illuminating speeches, which contain words of wisdom.

When reading these, think about how these lessons influence your personal life as well as your own business and how these affect every aspect of our professional and private lives.
• The most enduring innovations marry art and science

• To create the future, you can’t do it through focus groups

• Never fear failure

• You can’t connect the dots forward – only backward

• Listen to that voice in the back of your head that tells you if you’re on the right track or not

• Expect a lot from yourself and others

• Don’t care about being right. Care about succeeding

• Find the most talented people to surround yourself with

• Stay hungry, stay foolish

• Anything is possible through hard work, determination, and a sense of vision

-Steve Jobs

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are You Ready?

There are signs that things are improving every so slightly in the economy ... especially for small business. Jeffrey Gitomer (in spite of his unlikely wardrobe) is a marketing "guru" focused on helping you improve your sales. He's proven himself over and over, and knows his subject well. Listen here while he tells you how to best take advantage of the little boom headed our way.

Small Business Trends for 2012

Melissa Thomas, Greenville Area Consultant with the SBDC, gave us some insight on 2012 Small Business Trends after attending the Association of Small Business Development Centers’ national conference in San Diego. Here are some points for everyone to consider, whether starting a business or looking to redirect their business path or products to fit the coming trends:

  • Every business should have a website and it should be optimized for mobile use. Consumers want value and expect a deal. 68% of people shop with coupons; 69% of consumers go online to comparison shop before making a purchase and 41% of those consumers go directly to a retailer's site.
  • Age 85 and up is the fastest growing demographic. In-home non-medical care is big business. 33% of people 75 and up live alone (40% of them have a disability). There are currently 4,600 adult day-care centers. However, this is not going to be enough. There will be a very steady need for handy-man services, cleaning, lawn maintenance, and companies that provide home-proofing for seniors. Gyms have seen a 300% increase in membership in people ages 55 and up, but they are not catering to them.
  • There are presently 85 million Baby Boomers. They spend more money on online shopping than any other age group. Because most Baby Boomers are almost retired there is a huge need for financial planners. 46% of women in this group were raised to believe men would handle financial planning. Now, 3% of those women say they agree with that... but 49% of women have no financial advisor.
  • There are 75 million children 18 years or younger. There were more kids born in 2007 in the United States than ever before. The U.S. has the largest toy market (other countries are buying our toys). There has also been a trend in certified green toys. Tweens (ages 8-14) have what Thomas calls "pester power". They spend $2,000/year of their own money on clothes, electronics, food, computer games, home furnishings, etc.
  • Popular Businesses:
    • Weddings - consolidated services and wedding rentals (for every aspect of the wedding) are becoming increasingly popular. 60% of people today are paying part of the wedding cost on their own.
    • Men's Health & Beauty - Barbershops have seen a 10% increase in the last 2 years. Yoga studios have seen a rise in male participants. Currently, there are 19 million men's grooming products on the market. By 2014, studies expect that number to be at least 28 million.
    • Retail - By 2015, online shopping will be a 279 billion dollar business.
    • Plus-size - 60% of adults 20 and older are overweight. Bridal wear (2.1 billion dollars/year), bikes, and nightclubs geared toward plus-size people are just a few of the many products and services for which this group will continue to demand.
    • Pets - 62% of families have one. In 2010, 55 billion dollars were spent on pets - this does not include food or veterinary costs.
    • Food - Butcher shops are making a strong comeback. Gluten free food sales have grown 74% from 2004-2008. Food trucks - like the ones in Wisconsin offering pizza after 10 p.m. in the bar districts - are in demand. 91% of people surveyed said they would eat from a food truck. 70% of people eat dessert once a week and it is predicted that pie on a stick will be the next big hit.
    • Cyber security is a 75 billion dollar industry.
    • By 2015, mobility/apps will be an 8 billion dollar business.
    • Translators are a 2.5 billion dollar industry.So … where does your business stand? Are you ready to grow? If you need to refocus your small business as we head toward 2012 and need a little guidance, give your local SBDC a call. We’re here to help you grow! Winthrop Regional SBDC, Rock Hill, SC: (803) 323-2283; Florence Area SBDC: (843) 661-8256; and Coastal Conway Area SBDC: (843) 349-4010.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Marketing tip of the day*

Trim Your Ads
Why have big ads and pay more money? Reduce the size of your ads so you can run more ads for the same cost. You may even be surprised to find that some of your short ads generate a better response than their longer versions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Business tip of the day*

Don't Advertise Like a Big Business

Big businesses advertise to create name recognition and future sales. A small business can't afford to do that. Instead, design your advertising to produce sales. One way to accomplish this is to always include an offer in your advertising this is an easy way for prospective customers to respond to it and to get their attention on your product.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Disaster Loan Applications in North Carolina and SC Counties

SBA’s Deadline is October 18 for Physical Damage

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration reminds homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of the deadline to submit disaster loan applications for damages caused by the severe storms and flooding that occurred on Aug. 5, 2011. The deadline to file an SBA disaster loan application for physical damage is Oct. 18, 2011.

Anyone with insured losses should not wait for an insurance settlement before applying to the SBA. “If someone does not know how much of their loss will be covered by insurance or other sources, the SBA will consider making a loan for the total loss up to its loan limits, provided they agree to use insurance proceeds to reduce or repay their SBA loan,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA Field Operations Center East.

Low-interest disaster loans are available in Mecklenburg County, and the neighboring counties of Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Union in North Carolina; Lancaster and York in South Carolina.

Interest rates are as low as 2.5 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. The SBA sets the loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition.

For additional information, call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955;  (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET or send an email to Loan application forms can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Those affected by the disaster may also apply for disaster loans electronically from SBA’s website at

The filing deadline to return applications for physical damage is October 18, 2011. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 19, 2012.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kauffman Foundation Expands Global Scholars Program . . .

U.S. Graduates Invited to Apply
Media Contacts:
Barb Pruitt, (816) 932-1288 or

Applications available online, due Oct. 17, 2011

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Sept. 22, 2011 — A world-class opportunity awaits U.S. college graduates with innovative ideas for a new business. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is expanding its successful Global Scholars Program to include up to 10 recent graduates from U.S. colleges and universities who will join Scholars from around the world.

During the first five years of the Global Scholars Program, Kauffman hosted students sponsored by governments and organizations from five countries representing 11 nationalities. In 2012, the expanded Program will enable selected U.S. Scholars to learn and network with an international group of fellow aspiring entrepreneurs.

"It is essential that countries seek to educate global citizens whose vision, knowledge and reach extend beyond their own national boundaries," said Wendy E.F. Torrance, Global Scholars Program director. "By inviting U.S. Scholars into this Program, we can engage our next generation of entrepreneurial talent at a global level."

The Global Scholars Program is now accepting applications from outstanding U.S. college students or recent graduates with business ideas in the science, technology and engineering fields who are U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents. Applications can be submitted at, and must be completed by Oct. 17, 2011. The U.S. Scholars will be selected in November 2011 and will begin the six-month Program in January 2012.

The participants will ultimately develop their entrepreneurial skills, ideas, competencies, and capabilities to start a business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Some info on Twitter!

For you, the small business owner, Twitter is an amazing tool that can expand your reach to customers and potential customers. It can allow you to stay in touch and connect with thousands and thousands of people instantly. It can help drive your brand and communicate with customers in a way that you’ve never been able to before. And so much more.

For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that.

If you really feel you can’t or won’t be able to keep up with your Twitter page, you can always make it the responsibility of that young cashier who never seems to have enough to do, or ask your own teenager who I assure you is already totally aware of how to use social networks. They may even enjoy helping you promote your business and being able to teach you a thing or two about the digital world!

If you’re not ready to take advantage of all the free help Twitter can offer to your business, realize this: You can get benefit from Twitter in less than 10 minutes a month. Twitter is a free local, regional and internet listing for your business that takes less than five minutes to set up. So, first: Invest those five minutes and go set up your twitter page!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Already have a small business but thinking about hiring new staff? Here are some helpful questions that will help you decide who the best fit is for your company.

Once you have established your business, having an outstanding staff is essential for it to be successful.

Hiring employees is one of the most important tasks for a business owner. But how do you know who is the right person for the position? Who will bring the most into the company? Who will make the business succeed to your expectations? Anyone can put on a good act for 30 minutes and try to sell themselves as someone that will be the best fit, but how can we tell?

Here are some good questions that will help you see beyond the candidate’s responses:
  • Give an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision.
  • Give an example of a situation when you exceeded your manager’s expectations
  • What have you done that demonstrates your willingness to succeed in a job?
  • How would you convince me that you can adapt to a wide range of people, situations and environments.
  • Why should I hire you??
Remember: your business is only as good as your people.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to set up a facebook page for your business

Today, most companies worldwide use facebook to advertise their companies, so why not you too? Here are some basics you should know about setting up your facebook profile.

Facebook is a great way to advertise your business online; it already has over 300 million users. It offers a large platform to build up a company’s presence and target people that have interest in your industry. It also offers excellent and low cost marketing opportunities for every small business, so to save a little on advertising take advantage of this.

Once you have created your page, take some time to research your competitor’s pages to have an idea of how they are marketing their business. Notice how many fans/friends they have, how many people “like” them, what they are posting, photos, videos, etc. Remember, this is the face of your company, so make it as professional as you can so your clients will take you seriously.

These are just some quick tips for starting your own facebook page.

If you have not yet signed up for it, you should absolutely do so as soon as possible!!

The best tip to start your own business


The best way to help your business idea take place is doing the research. Without research you won’t even know what is happening in that industry. First, there needs to be 3 crucial facts you must consider. The business needs to be something you are great at and have the talent for. It also needs to be something you are absolutely passionate about, because you may be doing this for the rest of your life. And finally, the business needs to make sense. You may love to paint space helmets but if there is no demand for that, your business may not be the most successful out there. So start by opening books or using the web to get started!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tips on developing a website that will differentiate your business

• State what your business does best and define your niche.

• Create a strategy that will differentiate you from your competition convincing your customer that there is no other company out there like yours and why they should pick you.

• Do not create a quick webpage just to have one, create the best webpage out there; remember, this is the face of your company.

• Think about what unique offerings make your company successful and highlight those points on the webpage.

• Incorporate your webpage into a mobile internet application giving your customers access to it anywhere at any time.

• And, we suggest that you take a course or go to a workshop like our “Getting Your Business Online” workshop (check our calendar for the next one), to make sure that your site will not only be helpful and of interest to people, but will also be search engine-ready to make sure it gets found! A beautiful website that never comes up in the search engines won’t be helpful to your business.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Training for New GA's Begins

The enthusiasm continues as training for new Graduate Assistants in the SBDC . It's always such a great experience for us to meet these enthusiastic college graduates as they go on their journey to learn even more about business ..... all with fresh ideas and fresh energy! Today is proving no exception as they express opinions, share thoughts, and learn our procedures.

Call in and make an appointment to talk about your business today!

Welcome to our new Graduate Assistants in our Winthrop Region SBDC office!

This week, we welcomed new GAs to our Rock Hill office at Winthrop University. They are enthusiastically and anxiously awaiting their assignments to work with clients, helping them get their businesses off the ground. Meet Wiseman Chimbani, Reba Prevost, and Caroline Portugal. You'll find them personable, qualified, and ready to assist you in the all important task of creating your business plan.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Introductory Financial/Accounting Principles for Small Business

Tue, August 16, 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: Winthrop University's Thurmond Building, Room 415,
Rock Hill, SC 29733

Cost: $50.00 per person/business.

Description: Financial & accounting principles, with focus on discussion, review and analysis of an Excel workbook which presents financial projections (start-up assumptions, cash flow, P&L and Balance Sheet) of a fictitious enterprise. Entrepreneurs will get an understanding of how good financial and accounting records are kept. Also offering existing businesses an opportunity to review principles they may have forgotten or never implementedRegistration checks should be made out to Winthrop Regional SBDC and mailed prior to August 12th. Those registering at the door should bring cash only. Email receipts will be provided. For further information, call 803 323-2283 Mon-Thurs, 8:30am – 5pm, Friday, 8am – 11:30 am.

Driving directions: Coming from out of town, driving from Interstate 77, take 82B, the Cherry Road exit. Travel toward Rock Hill 3.7 miles to Oakland Ave. Turn left onto Oakland Ave.,then right at the 1st intersection, Eden Terr. (Main Campus Entrance). At yield sign, bear right. The Thurmond Building is the 2nd building on the right. Enter through any entrance and take elevator to the 4th floor.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FANTASTIC! Marketing Seminar for Small Business Coming to Rock Hill!

Presenting . . .

“The 8 M's of Marketing” & “Facebook for Business”

Two Fantastic Workshops Wrapped Up in One Terrific Seminar!

Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time: 9:00 AM TO 3:00 PM

Event Description and Registration:

The Rock Hill Small Business Development Center at Winthrop University, in partnership with the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce and York Technical College, are excited to present a one-day seminar with South Carolina native and international marketing speaker and business consultant, Jay Handler.

The seminar will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 in the Anne Close Springs Library, Room L100 at York Technical College, 452 S. Anderson Road, Rock Hill. Registration must be made in advance (see below). Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Jay will focus on the following timely topics during the one day seminar:

The 8 M's of Marketing - Participants will learn a top-down filter for all their marketing efforts, ensuring a more efficient use of their time and Marketing budgets. Attendees will have the tools necessary to effect change immediately!
Facebook for Business - Anyone who needs to make use of the free (or nearly free) tools available on Facebook to market their businesses or themselves will benefit. You can use more business, can’t you? Participants will start with some basics to get everyone on a level playing field, and then graduate to more advanced tips and strategies that even the expert Facebooker will appreciate!
Jay’s career in marketing started in the radio industry where he served as Senior Account Manager and Automotive Marketing Specialist with ClearChannel, CBS, and Cox Radio. Jay was then recruited to become the original General Sales Manager of ESPN radio in Orlando and later was the first person to bill $1,000,000 in a single year in the history of 107.3 JAMZ in Greenville, SC. He started his text message marketing company, SellPhone Marketing, in 2008, and applied the marketing principles he’d learned in radio to the SMS world. To market his own company, he began utilizing social media platforms, experimented in how to best benefit from what they had to offer, and then began helping other business owners make the social networks work for them. From there it was a short journey to fulfilling his passion of teaching small business-owners the principles that make marketing effective and how to make the most of today’s technology in their marketing. He works with a variety of SBDC offices and Chambers of Commerce throughout NC and SC, as well as national and international conferences on social marketing.

If you have a business to market, you do NOT want to miss this energetic and enthusiastic marketing guru! Register now (through the York County Chamber) for the early bird special of $75 per person for the full one day seminar, to include lunch. This special price ends on Aug. 31. Starting Sept. 1, the registration price will be $99 per person. Please note that your credit card will reflect a charge to the York County Regional Chamber for this event.

For more information about this seminar, contact Carol Daly at the Rock Hill SBDC at (803) 323-2283

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Lucky Entrepreneur to Receive $10,000 Grant!

Starting a Business along SC's Grand Strand? Need a financial boost to make it happen? Have you done your homework. Have a well-thought-out written business and marketing plan? You may qualify to win this one-time start-up grant.

The grant is being funded by a generous reader of The Sun News and being handled by the Grand Strand chapter of SCORE. The grant of $10,000 is open to entrepreneurs seeking to start small businesses. A reader of the Sun News asked them to find someone who wouldn't squander a $10,000 gift. She thought it was a good idea after a relative asked her for money. She wanted to help someone who didn't have relatives who could provide that kind of monetary assistance.

She's serious about helping an individual strike out on their own in a fragile economy that is only now producing enough jobs to reduce the high unemployment rate. She also wants to inspire others to follow their dreams, and encourage those in positions to do so to also provide hands up to those who could benefit. The Sun News and Coastal Carolina National Bank have agreed to partner with SCORE to select the recipient; company and that it can become an annual event with the support of more sponsors.

But for those looking to go into business for themselves, here's what you need to know:
• The grant is limited to businesses in Horry and Georgetown counties.
• Grant applications will be judged by SCORE professionals and a panel of select local business leaders. It must be submitted by Sept. 1, 2011.
• Need a Business Plan that should include:
-- A marketing plan
-- A three-year financial plan
-- Describe the business and detail how the grant money would be used.
• The business must be scheduled to open by Jan. 1, 2012.
SCORE will be offering a number of courses around the Grand Strand focused on "How to Really Start a Business."They will be offered through the Conway Library, Georgetown County Library System, and a few others to be announced.

Visit or to download the application. They can be dropped off at The Sun News or mailed to SCORE Chapter 381, P.O. Box 2468, Myrtle Beach, SC 29578. Applications can also be obtained directly from the SCORE office. Call 843-918-1079.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Export 101 – The Basics of Exporting Workshop

Nuclear Energy Supplier Training

Export 101 – The Basics of Exporting

Summary: The global nuclear energy industry for small companies to be export suppliers. Those companies interested in pursuing exporting of their products and services need to understand the rules, regulations and customs that govern international trade. The SC Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in collaboration with The Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster, the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Commercial Service are offering three seminars to a limited number of small firms who want to seriously explore the potential to export their products.

What it is:

A ½ day session in which experts explain the basics of exporting to companies with little to no experience in international trade.
-- Learn about trade finance and how to limit your risks.
-- Gain a basic understanding of logistics and payment methods.
-- Hear overviews on international markets and the abc’s of export marketing.
-- Most importantly, participants are introduced to local trade experts who can help you long term with export challenges and opportunities.

When/where (three stand alone sessions):

-- August 23rd in Columbia at the USC Incubator.
-- August 25th in Greenville at Clemson’s River Walk campus.
-- September 15th in Rock Hill at Winthrop University

Each session runs 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is free of charge


Who is managing this: The SC SBDC in collaboration with the Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster, under its SBA ‘Innovative Economies’ contract to enhance small business involvement with the nuclear energy industry. Government and industry experts will provide guidance and instruction on exporting.
Who should consider enrolling: Small companies that have done some work with nuclear utilities, engineering firms or Department of Energy sites, and who are looking to expand into exporting. The sessions will accommodate 20-25 people in each class.
How to get more information and qualify for the class:

This is not an open class for the general business public. Our ‘Innovative Economies’ project team will qualify interested companies for enrollment. The sessions are free to those companies who qualify and commit to attend. Companies will have post class follow-up and opportunity for additional assistance.

Contact: Beth Smith, Columbia Small Business Development Center at the USC Incubator, Columbia. 803-777-4550.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Webinar on Disaster Recovery Best Practices

SBA and Agility Recovery Solutions Host Webinar on Disaster Recovery Best Practices

Date: July 12, 2011
Internet Address:

WASHINGTON – Find out what business owners learned after nearly losing their companies to small scale disasters like a sprinkler system malfunction or catastrophic events like widespread flooding during a free webinar on July 19 hosted by Agility Recovery Solutions and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Agility Recovery CEO Bob Boyd will share real stories of entrepreneurs whose business continuity strategies emerged while recovering from major disasters. He’ll also outline some practical applications of disaster preparedness tips, focusing on the concept of not only putting a plan together, but testing it periodically.

Recent events serve as a reminder that disasters have a far-reaching effect in terms of undermining small business success and the revival of local economies. Being prepared for any worst-case scenario will lessen the financial losses and business failures that typically accompany a natural or man-made emergency.

SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies for entrepreneurs via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit to access previous webinars and for more preparedness tips.

Since 1953, the SBA has provided more than $48 billion in disaster recovery funds to 1.9 million homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes in the form of low-interest loans. To learn more about the disaster assistance program, visit

WHO: SBA, Agility Recovery Solutions

WHAT: “Disaster Recovery Best Practices & Lessons Learned” will be presented by Bob Boyd, CEO, Agility Recovery Solutions. A question and answer session will follow.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

HOW: Space is limited. Register at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do You Know What the SBDC Does? Or how?

With constant budget cuts nationally and in our states, we think it's important for people to understand exactly what Small Business Development Centers do ..... and specifically what our South Carolina SBDCs do. We have a significant positive impact on the South Carolina economy, even in the worst of economic times. Read on for more information:

Who We Are:
The S.C. Small Business Development Center network (SBDC) is part of a national economic development program that helps start and grow small businesses in order to create jobs and revenue. The S.C. SBDC operates under a Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration and a consortium of four host universities (USC, Clemson, Winthrop and South Carolina State).

How We Are Funded:
South Carolina’s SBDC is financed primarily by the U.S. Small Business Administration with additional support provided by state funds. The SBA requires a match for receipt of Federal funding. The state matching funds are necessary to keep the program in operation.

What We Do:
SBDC provides private management consulting services at no charge to small businesses statewide, as well as affordable educational programs targeted to the specific needs of entrepreneurs. These services directly result in job creation and retention, creation of new businesses, access to financing, increased sales and resulting taxes into the economy.

The S.C. SBDC provides specialized services that are not duplicated by the Department of Commerce, other SBA programs or other service providers.

Where We Are Located:
The South Carolina SBDC has 17 offices strategically located in both urban and rural communities throughout the state with 40 trained professionals who provide convenient, accessible services to all small businesses in any industry segment. The SBDC serves constituents in all 46 counties.

Our Five Year Results (2006 to 6/2011):

• Jobs created & retained: 6,304
• Government contract awards: More than $1 Billion
• Financing obtained: $815 million
• Businesses started: 506
• Small businesses served: 26,109

2010 Statewide Return on Investment: $89.2 million statewide *
In 2010, for every $1 invested by the state of South Carolina, over $5.85 are invested by the federal government, universities and local partners.

Our Partners:
The SBDC collaborates with university partners to offer student instruction in entrepreneurship, finance and other courses relevant to small-business development. We also partner with organizations like the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), SC Launch, the Women’s Business Center, SCORE, local Chambers of Commerce, Department of Commerce and many others to provide a well rounded offering of complimentary services to our clients

* (2008 per capita personal income figures obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis at

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is Your Business Prepared to Ride Out A Disaster?

The U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery Solutions are offering a free hour-long webinar at 2 p.m. June 21 on “Crisis Communications Planning — The Keystone of Disaster Recovery Response.”

A question and answer session follows the presentation by Bob Boyd, vice president of Agility Recovery Solutions.

SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery Solutions to offer business continuity strategies for entrepreneurs via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit to access previous webinars and for more preparedness tips.

Space is limited for Tuesday’s webinar.
Register at

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coastal SC Area Small Business Forum

Location: Wall College of Business, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC

Date: June 22, 2011

Time: 8am - 5pm

Fee: $75 - Registration ends June 17, 2011 - Someone from the Conway SBDC office will be contacting you with payment processing within 1-2 business days

Details: Interactive workshops for current and potential small business owners - Business Plan Basics - Business Financing - SBA Loan Products – including Women-Owned Small Business set-asides, USDA Loan Products - Using Google to Enhance Web Presence - Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Intellectual Property - Using QuickBooks - Grants - Going Green (4-hour session) - Doing Business with CCU - Social Media Marketing - Search Engine Optimization - 8 (a) Certification, incentives for Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSB)

Don't wait -- 6/17 registration deadline is fast approaching!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Can Your Company Win the Start-Up Open? .......

Is your new company ready to compete? Would you like to enter a competition that could win you the opportunity to grow your business with a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Startup Open is a competition to recognize and reward startups and the entrepreneurs behind them. Held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Startup Open will recognize the top 50 startups in 2011 and award prizes to help them grow their business.

Registration for Startup Open is open until September 15, 2011. Just click on the link above, create and account, and answer some questions about your company. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SBA Introduces New Mobile Application for Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs

New SBA mobile application brings enhanced access to
information and resources . . .

WASHINGTON – Smart phone users interested in starting or growing a small business can now find helpful resources at their fingertips via a new SBA mobile application from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Increasingly, smart phones are the vehicle through which Americans access information. This is certainly true of many entrepreneurs and small business owners and this new application ensures they will have access to SBA’s resources and programs – literally at their fingertips,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “Greater mobility fits with the new user-focused launched recently, and is another example of the steps we are taking to do a better job of connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with the tools to help them start or grow their businesses and create jobs.”

Developed and donated as a gift by Palo Alto Software, Inc., the SBA mobile app will make the search for extensive resources more efficient, whether users are starting a new business or taking an existing business to a new level. The app will first be available for the Apple iPhone®, with future versions for other smart phone platforms.

“Palo Alto Software’s mission is to help small businesses succeed. We’ve developed this mobile application for the SBA because we understand the importance of having the right tools and resources when starting or growing a business,” said Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software. “Ideas can strike entrepreneurs at any moment, and having useful resources available through mobile devices could be the impetus that begins the next big company.”

The mobile app will help users connect with SBA district office staff and SBA-affiliated counselors and mentors who can provide free, personalized small business assistance. The user-friendly format of the app will help answer questions such as: How do I start a business? Where can I go in my area to get free help with writing a business plan? And where do I begin finding funding for my business?

The SBA mobile app also features a built-in startup cost calculator to help estimate the costs associated with getting a business off the ground, plus an SBA partner locator to help users find SBA offices, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE.

Users will also have mobile access to SBA video content and social media alerts to provide them with tips on the go. This will include live updates from the SBA’s YouTube channel and from SBA’s Twitter feeds. The free mobile app can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Want to Expand Your Sales?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Winthrop University's Carroll Hall, Room 200
9:00 am- 12:00 noon
This three-hour workshop will include:
 Government Contracting (and the nuclear industry)
 Getting Registered (the “paperwork”)
 Getting Certified (set-aside programs you may be eligible for)
 Is this for you? (are you “responsible”)
 Topics include bonding, insurance, marketing and accounting
 Getting started (finding work opportunities and networking)
 Topic includes a discussion of subcontracting
 Competition, how the process works

Scott Bellows, PTAC Manager for the SC SBDC

Limited Seating

To register, contact Alice at:
Winthrop University
Carroll Hall – Room 200
701 Oakland Avenue
Rock Hill, SC 29733

Enter the campus through the main gate on Oakland Avenue, and bear right onto Memorial Circle. Go to the stop sign after the 3rd building on your right. Turn right and Carroll Hall will be the building on the right side. Parking is available in the parking lot directly across from Carroll Hall on your left.

“The South Carolina SBDC is partially funded under Cooperative Agreement No. 1-603001-Z-0043-21 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.”
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) operates in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an expressed or implied endorsement of the co-sponsor(s) or participants’ opinions, products or services.” All SBDC programs are non-discriminatory and available to individuals with disabilities.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Right Way to Ask for an SBA Loan

SBA money IS available for a variety of business loans, but what potential borrowers don't always realize is that the SBA funds are not given directly from the SBA ..... those funds are administered by banks, and as such are approved by those banks according to their own company's rules for lending.

But our SBA sources tell us that potential borrowers need to do a little research before heading to just any bank to apply for an SBA loan. Call ahead before going to any bank and inquire as to whether or not that particular bank offers SBA loans; and if so, WHO is their SBA Loan Officer. Not every loan officer handles or understands SBA loans. Once they get the name of the right person to speak with, they need to go ahead and request an appointment with the SBA Loan Officer. This will be a process, as is any loan negotiation, and you'll want to insure that they set aside enough time to really talk to you and understand your concept -- you don't want to stop by unannounced, catch them at a bad time, and have them only half listen to your proposal because they're watching the clock to get to their next meeting. Get that appointment with the right person at their convenience, and you'll up your chances of a successful relationship with your loan officer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Access to Capital -- A Lender's Perspective

NFIB/South Carolina, the South Carolina Banker’s Association, and the South Carolina Department of Commerce are teaming up to present "Access to Capital - A Lenders Perspective". In this session local lenders will offer tips to business owners on how to make successful loan presentations. They will discuss common problems with small business applications and recommend resources to help companies improve their overall loan presentation.

Webinar topics and presenters will include:
• Introduction
J.J. Darby, NFIB/South Carolina State Director

• A Lender’s Perspective
Justin Strickland, CEO – Southern First Bank

• Overview of Funding Sources
Keith Black, President and CEO - Provident Financial Services

Participants can also ask questions of the panel.

Space is limited. RSVP today!
South Carolina Small Business Webinar Series
Access to Capital: A Lenders Perspective
May 12, 2011 11 a.m. to noon

To register, please e-mail or call the NFIB/South Carolina office at 803-254-1476. After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with information about joining the webinar.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nuclear Industry Supplier Information Seminar

South Carolina -- The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, The Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster and the Small Business Development Center will host a FREE Nuclear Industry Supplier Information Seminar on Thursday, June 2nd from 9 am – 12 noon at First Federal, 238 S. Coit Street – 3rd Floor.

The nuclear energy industry is ready to provide the reliable, carbonless electricity our world needs, and the Carolinas' Nuclear Cluster plans to be a part of that growth. Small and medium-sized firms can be part of the planning, construction and operation of these power facilities. The nuclear industry has detailed specifications for its suppliers, and knowing those specs are critical to success.

Firms that could be possible suppliers can benefit from this short seminar:

-- MANUFACTURERS: Pipes, valves, fittings, electrical systems, HVAC,

construction materials, stainless steel.

-- SERVICES: Machine shops, electrical/mechanical/HVAC maintenance, waste,

clean-up, office maintenance, hazmat, painters, radiological protection, quality control, lab services.

What you will learn:

-- The status of the nuclear industry in the Carolinas

-- Basic requirements of nuclear suppliers

-- How procurement officers in the industry operate

-- Availability of advanced business processes that can aid entering the nuclear market

Registration is limited to the first 35 participants. The Nuclear Cluster is providing this session under its "Innovative Economies" project. This session is for South Carolina-based firms.

To register for this event, go online at This event is organized by the Carolinas Nuclear Cluster, a part of New Carolina ( The Carolinas Nuclear Cluster supports the economic development of the Carolinas through nuclear energy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

IRS Tax Workshop Tomorrow -- Don't Forget!

Just a last minute reminder about this all-important tax workshop ..... we only hold these twice a year, and they're so important to business owners. The FREE IRS Tax workshops are taught by a CPA and representatives of the SC Employment Security Commission and Department of Revenue. Come make sure that you are in compliance with all the new rules and regulations for the coming tax year!

IRS Tax Workshop -- Tuesday, April 26, 9 am to 3 pm in Room 415 of the College of Business (Thurmond Building) on the campus of Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC. From the I-77 ramp on Cherry Road, head toward Rock Hill until you come to the main campus at the corner of Cherry Road and Oakland Avenue. Take the very next left on to Park Avenue. You will see the Thurmond Bldg. ahead at the stop sign. Parking spots are available in the small lot to your left of our building on the other side of Park Ave. You can also use any green striped parking spots (Visitor's spots) throughout campus.

Call 803 323-2283 if you'd like to pre-register by phone

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Express Your Pledge' Challenge to Entrepreneurs For Chance at Ticket to 'Big Omaha'

... Competition invites entrepreneurs to express what being a founder means to them.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is inviting entrepreneurs to read its "Entrepreneur's Pledge," and express what it means to them for a chance to win a ticket to Big Omaha, a sold-out event billed as "the nation's most ambitious conference on innovation and entrepreneurship," to be held May 11-13, 2011 in Omaha, Neb.

The Foundation created the "Pledge" for entrepreneurs to not only publicly express their enthusiasm for being a business owner, but also to show their support for entrepreneurship as a cause. Big Omaha's "Express Your Pledge" competition asks entrepreneurs to review the Pledge and explain in 300 words or less what it means to them and at least two ways they could do a better job fulfilling it.

"Like the Pledge itself, Big Omaha's competition gives founders a chance to voice what it means to contribute to our communities and the economy every day, and to have an opportunity to win a seat at Big Omaha," said Nick Seguin, manager of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.

More than 500 innovators and entrepreneurs are expected to attend Big Omaha, which will feature speakers such as Shervin Pishevar, founder and CEO of Social Gaming Network, and Sarah Lacy, senior editor at TechCrunch.

Competition entrants each must complete an application at Entries are due by April 29, 2011, and the winner will be announced the week of May 2. The winning entrant will be responsible for all travel expenses.

The Entrepreneur's Pledge:

I am an Entrepreneur.

-- I am following a dream, pursuing an opportunity, taking charge of my own destiny.
-- I am bringing something of value to society, making a job for myself and for others, and creating wealth that benefits my family, my community, my country, my world.
-- I am one of a movement of millions of entrepreneurs and innovators who made America great, and who will continue to keep our economy going...and growing.
-- I am what I am because many people have helped me along on this journey.
-- I will tell my story, sharing my successes and failures, so that others taking the entrepreneurial path can learn.
-- I will strive to mentor an aspiring entrepreneur.
-- I will make my voice heard by those who make policy decisions that affect me and my business.
-- I will appreciate and celebrate my accomplishments, and the accomplishments of all my fellow entrepreneurs.
-- I will give back to the society that helped me to be successful.
-- I will Build a Stronger America.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SBA Honors Nation’s Best Small Business Contractors

National Prime Contractor & Subcontractor of the Year to be Named During National Small Business Week

WASHINGTON – More than twenty small business contractors, federal acquisition executives and business and industry leaders from around the country will come to Washington, D.C., in mid May 2011 to accept awards for excellence in the federal contracting arena.

Two small businesses from among regional prime contractors and subcontractors of the year will receive the National Prime and Subcontractor of the Year awards honoring small businesses that have provided outstanding goods and services as contractors.

They are among the nation’s top entrepreneurs who will be honored at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week events May 18-20 in Washington, D.C. Under the theme, “Empowering Entrepreneurs,” a series of events and educational forums will mark the 58th anniversary of the agency and the 48th annual National Small Business Week.

The procurement award small business winners provide a broad range of products and services to the federal government and private industry including environmental remediation services, the construction of transmission lines, aviation management and staffing services, and they hail from 18 states from Massachusetts to Alaska.

The three-day event in Washington, D.C., will take place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Events can be viewed virtually through SBA’s free, live webcasting, which will be accessible at Business owners, business organizations, other individuals and the news media can register online at where additional information is available.

Other procurement awards that will be given out during the 2011 National Small Business Week award events include:
• The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence, recognizing large prime contractors who have excelled in their utilization of small businesses as suppliers and subcontractors.
• The Gold Star Award, recognizing exemplary performance of federal staff who manage the aggressive goals and strategic initiatives that help ensure a role for small business in the federal marketplace.
• The Frances Perkins Vanguard Award, honoring government and industry for excellence in the use of women-owned small businesses as prime contractors and subcontractors.

A complete list of all award winners will be available on the National Small Business Week Web site at

Monday, April 18, 2011

1st Annual East Coast Service Disabled Veteran Conference and Expo:

Coming! May 24, 2011 -- The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Council in cooperation with the City of Hampton and Old Dominion University Business Gateway is pleased to present the 1st Annual East Coast Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business Conference and Expo.

Held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton, VA, the purpose of the Conference is to provide an opportunity for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB'S) to come together with federal agencies and prime contractors to network and share information.

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour our Expo Hall and meet other contractors and representatives from prime contractors and government agencies as well as take advantage of our separate networking area for longer discussions.

Read more:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why Export?

This series of videos can help answer all your questions about exporting from the "why" to the "how" ..... check 'em out at Take Your Business Global!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nation’s First Crowdfunding Business Grant Provides Innovative Solution For Mom Business Owners

Moms In Business Grant Helps Relieve #1 Pain Point for Women Entrepreneurs

Henderson, NV March 2, 2011 — The National Association For Moms In Business (NAFMIB), the leading association representing the fifteen million entrepreneur, executive and CEO moms in the United States is launching an innovative business grant using the internet phenomenon of “crowdfunding” to give mom business owners a better chance at launching a new business or current business project. It’s the first business grant competition to utilize crowdfunding.

"Crowdfunding" is a platform to raise money by attracting many small donations from a large group (friends, family, professional contacts) to meet a funding goal. "Backers" give contributions in exchange for rewards or perks offered by the grant applicant - rewards can be any product, service or experience to which the grant applicant has access.

The National Association For Moms In Business has partnered with - a crowdfunding site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs fund their projects - to provide the grant’s crowdfunding technology platform. “We are tackling the # 1 pain point for millions of entrepreneurs – raising the capital they need to start or grow their business. Good business ideas don’t always attract the cash they need from traditional financing sources”, says Sally Outlaw, Co-Founder of peerbackers and mom of two. According to the SBA, Women own over 9 million businesses yet they receive the least amount of financing from traditional sources. Women traditionally own smaller types of businesses that don't meet financial assistance minimums of banks and venture capital firms.

“Moms In Business is giving a crowdfunding business grant rather than using the traditional grant-giving model for three reasons,” says founder and CEO of National Association For Moms In Business, Gina Robison-Billups, “We wanted to provide an innovative way to motivate moms to kick start or grow their businesses. In addition, it's an "everybody wins" scenario where all those that participate have the opportunity to raise money, create exposure and build a following for their business, and lastly, due to the promotional requirements to be successful via crowdfunding, it's a good way to identify those entrepreneurs who will go the extra mile to publicize and build their ventures therefore making them ideal candidates for our grand prize grant of $10,000 in business growth tools.”
The Moms In Business Grant is now accepting grant sign ups. Grant competitors must be a member of the National Association For Moms In Business.

Each grant competitor (whether they raise crowdfunding support or not) receives a hefty prize package just for participating.

Each grant competitor will receive:
• a half-page feature article about their business in Moms In Business Magazine,
• all the money they raise in the crowdfunding competition (less the processing fees),
• publicity on both and
• and a publicity toolkit from PRNewswire valued at $2000

The grant’s crowdfunding competition runs from May 1st through June 15th. At that point, when the Crowdfunding competition portion ends, all grant applicants who raised 80% or more of their funding goal will move on to the semi-finalist round where a team of mom executives and entrepreneurs will judge each application on a point system to decide the $10,000 Grand Prize Grant Package winner.

More information about the grant can be found at or


About National Association For Moms In Business

The National Association for Moms in Business (NAFMIB) is the leading national association representing and serving the needs of 15 million entrepreneur, executive and CEO moms. NAFMIB’s outreach exceeds 500,000 moms in business every year. Founded on the core values of Growth, Balance, Wisdom, and Enrichment, NAFMIB programs offer free education, networking, support and advocacy for moms in business. NAFMIB is viewed as the national expert and recognized voice of the 15 million moms in business in the United States. Go to


peerbackers is a new way to fund entrepreneurs. It is an online funding platform that allows business owners to raise capital from their “peers” – in small increments – in exchange for tangible rewards to those who contribute. It was founded by Sally Miller Outlaw and Andrew Rachmell of Palm Beach County, Florida.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Programs to Help Veterans & Families

Operation Endure and Grow -- A program specifically for National Guard and Reserve soldiers and their families. An 8-week intensive training program to offer cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to National Guard and Reserve soldiers and their immediate family members. Funded in part by the SBA. $75 fee for this online course. Click on the link for more details.

V-Wise -- Program for Women Veterans -- 3-Phase program: 35-day online, self-study course focused on the basic skills of entrepreneurship and the language of business; a 3-day conference to expose participants to accomplished entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators from across the US; and ongoing support and mentorship online through a network of mentor partners. For more information, click on the V-Wise link.

Eligibility for Small Biz Health Care Tax Credits

News Release

To: U.S. Small Business Owners, Their Tax Advisers, Accountants, + Bookkeepers

From: Karen Mills, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

The Affordable Care Act, the health reform legislation passed into law a year ago, is giving small businesses important tools to help them compete, create jobs and drive economic growth. It’s critical that small businesses take full advantage of the new benefits and consumer protections of the law and understand the positive impact health reform will have on their operations. The SBA and the entire Administration is committed to working with the small business community to ensure that they know about tools in the Affordable Care Act that will help small businesses start-up, succeed, and grow. Already, the Affordable Care Act is providing tax credits of up to 35 percent of employee premium costs, helping small business owners reinvest thousands of dollars to grow their business and create jobs at tax time.

Eligibility for Tax Credits

Generally, tax credits are available for small business owners who: • Have started or continued health insurance coverage for employees in 2010 • Contribute at least 50 % of employee premiums at the single coverage rate • Have fewer than 25 full-time employee equivalents (part-time employees are counted proportionately) • Pay their employees an average of less than $50,000 The IRS has provided a simple three-step worksheet

Four million of the nation’s six million small businesses that employ workers could be eligible for these credits. For small businesses, the maximum tax credit is 35 percent of the business’ premium costs, and for small nonprofit organizations, the maximum credit is 25 percent. On Jan. 1, 2014, these rates will increase to 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively. These credits phase out for firms with average wages over $25,000 and for firms with the equivalent of more than 10 full-time employee equivalents.

Effectiveness of Tax Credits to Date

While nearly all firms with more than 200 employees offer health insurance benefits, smaller U.S. firms are much less likely to offer coverage because their premium costs are about 18 percent higher than the same coverage for larger employers. They also have less purchasing power in the health insurance marketplace. Early signs show that these tax credits are stimulating activity in the health insurance market. A Los Angeles Times report of increased market activity in the small group market at the end of 2010 included three examples of how these tax credits show initial signs of promise:

• United Health Group (Minnesota) added 75,000 new customers who work for businesses with less than 50 employees

• Coventry Health Care (Maryland), an insurer that focuses on small businesses, signed contracts to cover 115,000 new workers, an increase of 8 percent.

• Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City reported an increase of 58 percent in the number of small businesses buying insurance. Also, a report from the Lincoln Journal Star in February noted:

• Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska reported a 34 percent increase in health insurance sales to small businesses for 2011. In addition, other insurers such as CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland have announced that they are specifically marketing their products to small businesses due to this credit.

Small businesses themselves have also reported on how these tax credits are helping them provide coverage to employees. Just a few examples from around the country include:

• Mark Hodesh, owner of Downtown Home and Garden in Michigan, was able to claim $15,000 on his tax return this year and hire an additional employee.

• Kiersten Firquain of Bistro Kids in Kansas City was able to start providing coverage to her chefs last year for the first time.

• John and Angela Sweet of Niedlov’s Breadwords in Tennessee had been wanting to offer insurance for some time, and when these tax credits made it more affordable, they “jumped at the opportunity.”

If you are interested in learning more about various health insurance plans that are available in your area, I encourage you to visit where you can quickly compare them. 2014: Higher Credits and “Exchanges” In 2014, the tax credits for small employers who provide coverage will increase from 35 percent to 50 percent. At the same time, small business owners should be aware that states will simultaneously roll out small business “exchanges” that will allow employers with less than 50 employees to band together to leverage their collective buying power, reduce administrative costs, and negotiate fairer rates from insurance companies. These exchanges will be available online, and an independent study suggests that they will help reduce costs and increase competitive pressure on insurers, driving down premiums for small businesses by up to 4 percent.

Repeal Efforts

The President supports eliminating a bookkeeping provision that would unfairly burden small businesses. The Administration continues to work with Congress to repeal the expanded 1099 reporting requirement, which is too big of a paperwork burden on small business owners. Repealing the entire law or preventing key provisions from being implemented, however, would hurt small businesses by:

• Raising taxes on up to 4 million small business owners who provide employees with health insurance coverage

• Preventing the formation of a marketplace where insurance companies compete for your hard-earned dollars

• Stifling the ability of entrepreneurs to break out on their own to help America compete in the 21st century The Affordable Care Act uses market based incentives, such as tax cuts and cost savings, to make quality, affordable health insurance available to all Americans.

There is no requirement, mandate, responsibility, penalty or fee of any kind for small businesses with less than 50 workers who choose not to provide insurance, which represents 96 percent of all U.S. firms. The President has also backed a bipartisan proposal to allow states to implement alternatives to the law beginning in 2014 if those alternatives are able to meet the shared goals of making health insurance affordable and accessible to all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions. Instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Access to affordable health care is the number-one concern for small businesses across the country. I have worked with many small businesses over the years that are looking at every possible option to offer coverage for their employees, who they often consider to be members of their own family. In 2009, I met a small business owner in New Jersey who said that the day she was able to provide health insurance coverage was the day she knew that her business was a success.

I encourage you to work with your tax adviser, accountant and/or bookkeeper to actively explore the tax credits, exchanges, and other provisions in the Affordable Care Act to help you grow your business and create jobs.