Small business information, insight and resources | Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:16:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Confidence of Small Business Buyers and Sellers Drops in 2017 Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:10:49 +0000  

Market confidence among both buyers and sellers of businesses dropped slightly in 2017 compared to 2016, according to, the online business-for-sale marketplace. Its 2017 Seller Confidence Index dropped slightly from 59 last year to 58 this year while its 2017 Buyer index dropped more significantly, to 46 (in 2017) from 49 (in 2016).

The Buyer-Seller Confidence Index is calculated by surveying 2,000 active buyers or sellers of a small business. Scores range from 0 to 100.

100 | Represents signifies a belief that it’s a perfect environment for buying or selling a business
50 | Represents neutral confidence

Overview of seller confidence

The slight drop in seller confidence doesn’t diminish the overall positivity that has persisted since BizBuySell started calculating this data in 2013.

60% | Percent of current owners who believe they would receive a price that met their expectations if they sold their business today.

40% | Believe the selling environment has improved during past year and that they could receive a higher sales price than during the previous year (2016). Among these confident respondents, they base their optimism on these factors:

62% | Improving sales and revenue
43% | Improving small business economy
25% | Increased interest in their business industry

    7% | Percentage increase in the number of businesses-for-sale listings over last year (2016)
4.4% | Percentage increase in the revenue of businesses for sale listings (year-over-year)
    3% | Percentage increase in the cash flow of businesses for sale listing (year-over-year)
5.9% | Percentage increase in the median asking price of businesses for sale listing (year-over-year)

But has the marketplace peaked?

While owners are optimistic in today’s market, there are indications of concern that the marketplace may soon “peak.”

41% | Percentage of owners who believe their business will be more valuable next year (compared to 48% in 2016)
47% | Percentage of owners who believe their business will not increase in value between now and next year (compared to 40% in 2016)
30% | Percentage of owners who believe their business value decreased.




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How Big Data and Machine Learning Improve Small Business Lending Process | 2017 Thu, 16 Nov 2017 19:01:56 +0000

Intuit recently unveiled QuickBooks Capital, a new small business lending product that provides users of QuickBooks access to small business loans up to about $35,000. This new service’s lending process is done using algorithms from within QuickBooks itself. Thanks to Intuit’s big data and machine learning techniques, most borrowers will know whether or not they are approved for a loan in just a few minutes. In this article, Steve King, a partner in Emergent Research and a regular contributor to explains how this and other data-driven lenders are helping small businesses access loans.

Lack of credit is consistently one of the top challenges for small businesses. And for new businesses (those that have been in business less than 5 years), the challenges are even greater. According to the Federal Reserve of New York 2016 Credit Survey: Report on Startup Firms, 70% of young businesses say they need funding to grow. But only 23% of these firms are successful at getting all the funding they are looking for.

70% | Percentage of new businesses say they need funding to grow
26% | Don’t apply
21% | Get rejected
30% | Get partially funded
23% | Get funded

Source: 2016 Small Business Credit Survey. Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Insufficient credit history is why young companies find it hard to get funding

Simply put, they haven’t been around long enough to establish a strong enough track record for lenders to be comfortable providing them credit. And even if they get the credit they’re looking for, small business satisfaction with the lending process is not good

Percentage of successful borrowers who are satisfied with their experience at various lending sources

48% | Small banks
31% | Big banks
23% | Online lenders

How Intuit uses anonymous data to approve loan requests

Intuit has over 2 million small businesses that have agreed to allow the software company to analyze anonymized data in an aggregated format to develop products like QuickBooks Capital. This means Intuit can analyze 28 billion data points in its credit model. (QuickBooks users own their data and have to provide Intuit permission to use their data in this manner).

This database of income-statement, balance sheet, cash flow and transactions data allows Intuit to fully analyze the current financial state of a small business and predict its ability to pay back a loan. It also means Intuit’s credit model has enough data to allow them to lend to young small businesses, even those that have been around less than one year.

Based on the service’s beta customers, this approach is broadening credit availability and making it easier and quicker to get a loan.

Analysis by Intuit of its early QuickBooks Capital borrowers

46% | Had never applied for a loan before.
60% | Would likely have their loan application rejected elsewhere
90% | Say the loan helped their business grow


Also on

Intuit Provides a Peak at Innovative Ways Small Businesses May Work in the Future

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Small Business Optimism Inches Up in October | 2017 Wed, 15 Nov 2017 18:05:46 +0000

More small business owners last month said they expect higher sales and think that now is a good time to expand, according to the October NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism (PDF), released yesterday (11.14.2017). “Owners became much more positive about the economic environment last month, which suggests a longer-run view,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In the nearer term, they are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year.”

NFIB Optimism Index

Based on Ten Survey Indicators (Seasonally Adjusted 1986=100)
Source: NFIB

The October Index rose to 103.8, up from 103 the previous month. The historically strong performance extends the streak of positive months dating back to last November when it shot up immediately following the election.

The tight labor market got tighter for small business owners last month, continuing a year-long trend.

59% | Percent of owners who said they tried to hire in October
88% | Percent of those trying to hire who reported no or few qualified applicants

Hiring activity was particularly high in Florida and Georgia as construction firms are still trying to meet higher demand caused by the recent hurricane.

“Consumer sentiment surged based on optimism about jobs and incomes, an encouraging development as consumers account for 70 percent of GDP,” said Dunkelberg. “We expect a pickup in auto spending as people in Texas and Florida continue to replace cars that were damaged by the hurricanes. We expect the same increase in home improvement spending, partly because of the hurricanes, but also because of the skyrocketing price of homes.”



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Six Types of Email To Send Customers (After the Sale) Tue, 14 Nov 2017 22:11:57 +0000

In the English language, we use the word “customer” to describe two types of marketing relationships: (1) A person considering a purchase (“a customer as shopper”) and (2) a person who has already made a purchase (“a customer as owner.”) Marketers spend most of their budgets on shoppers, but the research tells us that the best return on marketing investment is to cultivate the relationships you have with the owners of your product. The vast majority of the marketing email I receive views me as “a shopper.” But here’s some advice: Work on the quality of the email you send “customers” after they’ve become your “owners” or “members” or “users” and you’ll be more successful at building a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with them.

Six examples of customer email to send after shoppers become owners

Welcome notes

Use a thank-you email as an “onboarding” message. Your customer didn’t just purchase a product, they purchased a solution. How well you communicate with them that you are there to help, the more they will view you as a key member of their team.

“How-to” help

Continuing the “on-boarding” process, use early email as help and support that they may need. Does your company have a customer support department. If so, constantly ask them for the issues customers are seeking advice on. Use the how-to emails to help users before they even ask for help.

Inside information and wisdom

Give owners the chance to feel they are on the inside of information related to your product or service. If appropriate, provide activities like webinars or cooking classes or an early look at seasonal updates of the merchandise you carry.

Requests to stay in touch

Keep customer data up to date. While people tend to hang onto email addresses for a longer time than they stay at the same physical address, you should regularly invite customers and clients to update the information you use to provide them with positive items on this list.

Friends-only email specials

Email your loyal customers to invite them to take part in special events, sales or networking opportunities. Give them the opportunity to benefit from the association with you as a customer or client.

Favor requests

When a customer has been an owner for several months, do two things: Ask them if they are being served well by your business. Later, in a follow-up email, send them one of two emails: (1) Explain how you have used their recommendations to fix whatever they may have been negative, or (2) Ask them to share a review on the appropriate social or professional network for your type of business.


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By the Numbers: U.S. Veteran-Owned Businesses | 2017 Mon, 13 Nov 2017 14:36:01 +0000

As we’ve  often shared, military veterans can be great employees–and great owners–of small businesses. The following statistics related to U.S military veterans who own businesses were issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy in April 2017. The source of the data is the most recent U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners conducted in 2012. That survey had 80 sets of data containing veteran-related information released in December 2015 and February 2016. The complete study and sources can be found in this PDF.

Overview of  veteran-owned businesses

2.52 million |  Businesses in the U.S. that are majority-owned by veterans

442,485 | Veteran-owned businesses with employees
2.08 million | Self-employed veteran businesses (no employees)

9.1% | Percentage of all U.S. businesses that are majority-owned by veterans

$1.14 trillion | Total annual revenues of veteran-owned businesses
5.03 million | Total number of employees of veteran-owned businesses
$195 billion | Annual payroll of veteran-owned businesses

Ranking of industries for veteran-owned businesses

The top seven industries for veteran-owned firms as a percentage of all veteran-owned businesses.

16.6% | Professional, scientific, and technical services
12.2% | Construction
11.8% | Other services
8.6%  | Real estate
8.1% | Retail trade
8.1% | Retail trade
8.0% | Administrative and support

Industries with the highest percentage of veteran-owned businesses

While 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses are veteran-owned, the percentage of veteran-owned businesses varies by industry.

12.8% | Finance and insurance (Percentage of industry businesses owned by veterans)
12.1% | Transportation and warehousing
11.4% | Construction
11.3% | Agriculture, forestry and fishing
10.9% | Utilities
10.8% | Professional, scientific, and technical services
10.2% | Manufacturing

video via YouTube

Veteran-owned firms by gender

84.3% | Male veteran-owned businesses
15.2% | Female veteran-owned businesses

Veteran-owned firms by owners’ race or ethnicity

Multiple categories could be chosen. Self-identified answer.

85.1% | White
10.7% | African American
7% | Hispanic
2.1% | Asian American
1.3% | American Indian or Alaska Native
.3% | Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

States with most veteran-owned businesses

252,377 | California
213,590 |  Texas
185,756 | Florida
137,532 | New York
97,969 | Pennsylvania

States where the highest percentage of all businesses are veteran-owned 

13% | South Carolina
12.2% |  New Hampshire
11.7% | Virginia
11.7% | Alaska
11.4% | Mississippi

Who are the major customers of veteran-owned small businesses?

Major customers are those who account for 10 percent or more of a firm’s sales.

67.6% | Consumers
37.9% | Businesses
5.1% | State and local governments
3.2% | Federal government


Veteran business owners are older than business owners in general.

74% | 55 years old and over (veteran-owned business)
41% | 55 years old and over (“all owners”)

11.7% | Under 45 years old (veteran-owned business)
32.5% | Under 45 years old (“all owners”)

3.4% | Under 35 years old (veteran-owned business)
13.5% | Under 35 years old (“all owners”)


Method of  veteran-owned business startup

85.3%  | Founded (not purchased or inherited) their self-employed business
74.3% | Founded (not purchased or inherited) their business with employees

10.8% | Owners who purchased their businesses
2.7% | Inherited their businesses
2.8% | Acquired their ownership by transfer or as gift

Full Report (PDF) | Veteran-Owned Businesses and Their Owners, Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners

Photo: istock

]]> 0 Guide to Resources for Military Veterans | 2017 Thu, 09 Nov 2017 06:01:29 +0000

In the U.S., Saturday, November 11, 2017 is Veterans Day, a national holiday honoring those who have served in nation’s armed services. When Veterans Day falls on a Saturday, the official national holiday is on Friday. So this year, Friday, Nov. 10, is the day the Post Office and many banks and other businesses may be closed. 

At, we use Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to remind our users that we have many links to resources developed for veterans who own small businesses, or who want to start one.

We also link to resources for employers who want to hire veterans, recognizing the not only their service but the skills, discipline, and other attributes that vets developed while serving.

Bookmark and share the Guide to Resources for Military Veterans

Photo: U.S. Navy


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How to Reduce Your Chances of Being Sued by an Employee | 2017 Wed, 08 Nov 2017 07:00:30 +0000

Had Benjamin Franklin been around for the last 20 years, he might have reworded his infamous maxim to say, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes … and lawsuits.” Because that’s how it feels: No matter how careful you are, how carefully you’ve observed the law, someone will always find a way to sue you. Unfortunately, one major source of lawsuits for small business owners is from current and former employees. (It doesn’t help that there are lawyers who run TV commercials aimed at recruiting clients who they can represent in lawsuits against employers.)

As we know you didn’t start a small business so that you could be sued by employees, we encourage you to seek advice from your attorney on things you might do to lessen your chances of an employee lawsuit. Advice from your local attorney is especially important as laws and regulations can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and state to state.

In addition to the specific advice you should seek from your lawyer, here are a few guidelines:

Treat employees (and customers, suppliers, etc.) with decency and respect.

If we weren’t reading daily reports about people with power taking advantage of those with whom they come in contact, we would assume all business owners and managers would understand this advice intuitively. But that’s obviously not the case. If you don’t follow this advice, chances are you’ll skip the others, also. And frankly, you deserve to be sued, or worse.

Follow labor laws as closely as possible.

If you don’t know what decency and respect are, at least follow labor laws. You can find them explained by the U.S. Department of Labor’s eLaw resource.

Clearly define work expectations.

No matter what their position, employees should always have clear definitions of success regarding their job, and routine reviews to let them know how they’re doing. This way, if they are later terminated, it can be showed how they didn’t meet expectations—and that there’s good reason for letting them go.

Terminate carefully and with respect.

Even if you have a good reason for termination, it’s important not to do it brashly. Depending on how you treat the employee, they may either feel furious or fairly treated. So take time to communicate and listen. A decent severance package can also go a long way in calming the waters. Have a document ready with all the information the employee will need. Let the employee know that you or a designated person will be available to assist with any administrative needs that may come up.

Have an employee handbook.

An employee handbook is perhaps one of the most important resources you can create for your small business—especially in terms of lawsuit protection. Within it you should include all vital employment issues: termination, maternity leaves, sick leaves, compensation and benefits, sexual harassment, etc. Make sure, though, that you write it with the help of legal counsel or a reliable human resources consultant. This will help ensure everything is as sound as it possibly can be.

Set up personnel records and keep them current.

Refer to the checklist of items to keep (and not to keep) in an employee’s file. Such files should include any records that may be related to an employee’s performance and record. If you are ever sued, you’ll regret not having such files, if you choose not to.

And when all else fails …

Talk with your insurance provider to make sure you are covered appropriately. No, it’s not cheap, but neither are lawsuits. Keep in mind you’re going to want three guarantees in a policy: the right to select a lawyer, the right to consent before settling, and a per-claim, not per-claimant, deductible.

Bookmark Worthy:


Avoid These 5 Things When You Must Lay Off an Employee

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Why Two Leading Small Business Advocacy Groups Differ on the House Republican Tax Plan | 2017 Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:53:18 +0000

Updated: Nov. 9, 2017
Updated: Nov. 15, 2017
(See bottom of page.)

In their initial public responses to the House Republican tax overhaul plan released last Thursday (Nov. 1, 2017), two major small business advocacy groups issued very different responses.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) clearly opposed a specific part of the proposal and immediately issued this statement from its President and CEO Juanita Duggan:

“The National Federation of Independent Business is unable to support the House tax reform plan in its current form. This bill leaves too many small businesses behind. We are concerned that the pass-through provision does not help most small businesses. We believe that tax reform should provide substantial relief to all small businesses, so they can reinvest their money, grow, and create jobs.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the proposal as noted in this statement from its Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Neil Bradley issued this statement:

“This bold tax reform bill is exactly what our nation needs to get our economy growing faster. A lot of work remains to be done to get the exact policy mix right and move from a legislative draft to an enacted law. We share (House Ways and Means Committee) Chairman Brady’s commitment to permanent reform because temporary tax relief simply will not produce the pro-growth environment we all desire. The business community stands ready to be an active partner with lawmakers over the coming weeks—and every step of the way—as we push to complete a re-write of our outdated tax system.”

Related |’s Side-by-Side comparison of business structures.

Why were the associations’ initial responses so different?

The short answer:

  1. The NFIB membership is limited to small businesses.
  2. The U.S. Chamber has lots of big businesses as members.
  3. Most big businesses will benefit significantly from having taxes on corporate profits cut from their current rate (up to 39 percent) to the proposal’s 20 percent rate.
  4. Most small businesses will not be eligible for the reduced corporate tax rates.
  5. The NFIB is not opposing the cuts in corporate taxes. It is opposing the way those cuts are limited to large corporations.

Why won’t small businesses be eligible for the reduced corporate tax rates?

Most large companies are organized as C-Corporations, the type of business most likely to benefit from the reduction of corporate tax rates. However, most small businesses are organized in ways that pass the company’s tax liabilities to the individual(s) who own the company. Owners of these businesses are required to pay taxes at their personal tax rates. Therefore, they won’t benefit from the reduction in corporate tax rates.

While the plan includes many provisions small-business owners support, the NFIB believes the initial proposal walls off the primary incentives from as many as 95 percent of small businesses—most all of the ones in the service sector.

What to watch for in the coming weeks

  • The NFIB has a history of standing firm in its opposition to legislation its membership determine are inequitable to small businesses.
  • Negotiations over such a broad and complex piece of legislation will take place behind closed doors during the next few weeks.
  • We will update you as the tax bill makes its way through the legislative process.

See related articles on these websites

Small Business Labs | Few Small Businesses and Freelancers Will Benefit from the Pass-Through Provision of the Tax Plan

Journal of Accountancy | Details of Tax Reform Legislation Revealed

Photo by Martin Falbisoner via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Updated (November 9, 2017)

After the release of the Senate tax plan on November 9, 2017, NFIB issued the following statement on behalf of Juanita Duggan, its president and CEO.:

“We are very encouraged by the plan introduced by Chairman Hatch today. It includes real tax relief, allowing small business owners to keep more of their money to invest in growth and create new jobs. Small business represents half the economy and half of all jobs. The Senate should move quickly so that tax reform can be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.”

Updated (November 15, 2017)

After the House passed a version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on November 15, 2017, NFIB issued the following statement on behalf of Juanita Duggan, its president and CEO.:

“Today, the House took a big step toward tax cuts that will help America’s small businesses grow and create jobs.  Small businesses account for more than half the jobs and half the economy.  We look forward to working with the House and the Senate to get good small business tax cut legislation on the President’s desk soon.”

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How Happy is Your City? Gallup and National Geographic Rank Their Top 25 Thu, 02 Nov 2017 13:07:41 +0000

National Geographic, Gallup and Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones of Happiness, recently announced The 25 Happiest Cities in the United States. The rankings are based on an index of 15 metrics including civic engagement, walkability and healthy food options. Boulder, Colo., tops the list. 

The study established 15 metrics—from eating healthy and learning something new every day to civic engagement, financial security, vacation time and even dental checkups—that signal happiness. The National Geographic Gallup Special/Blue Zones Index draws on nearly 250,000 interviews conducted with adults from 2014 to 2015 in 190 metropolitan areas across the United States.

In happier places, according to Buettner, locals smile and laugh more often, socialize several hours a day, have access to green spaces, and feel that they are making purposeful progress toward achieving life goals. “If you want to get happy, don’t try and change your belief system. Change your environment,” he says.

National Geographic’s 25 Happiest Cities in the United States

  1. Boulder, Colorado
  2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
  3. Charlottesville, Virginia
  4. Fort Collins, Colorado
  5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
  6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  7. Provo-Orem, Utah
  8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
  9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
  10. Anchorage, Alaska
  11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
  12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
  13. Salinas, California
  14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
  15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
  18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
  20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
  21. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia
  22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn., Wisconsin
  23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
  24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
  25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

VIA | National Geographic, “These Are the Happiest Cities in the United States

Photo: Boulder, Colo. via istock

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Working and Living on the Road: An Overview of Workamper, #Vanlife Trends Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:29:31 +0000

The nature of migrant work has changed significantly since the Steinbeck, Dust Bowl era. A combination of technological enablement coupled with social, demographic and economic population shifts are resulting in a growing number of thoroughly modern migrant workers.  These individuals are choosing travel-work-lifestyle options like “workamping” (work-camping) or a sub-segment called “van life.” As we often do when it comes to the future of work, we’ve turned to Steve King, partner in Emergent Research, to provide us an overview of the “workamping” trend.

Who and What is a work camper (workamper)?

The folks at (who have a wonderful small business story of their own) coined the term “workamper” (work-camper) 30 years ago and define it this way: If you sleep in an RV at night and work during the day, you are a Workamper. However, as you’ll see below, there are plenty of sub-sets with subtle differences. For example, Workamper’s publications and services are focused primarily on RV and campground seasonal job recruitment. Other nomads are driven by lifestyle reasons or the skills and ability to work anywhere there’s wifi.

53 years old | The median age of Workampers (according to

And while more and more people are seeking work to subsidize their retirement income, there are plenty (as seen in the statistic above) who are far from traditional retirement age who are traveling between seasonal jobs that have nothing to do with either agriculture or the RV and campground industry.

For example, working at Amazon.

Amazon’s CamperForce

Amazon has a seasonal-worker program targeting work-campers and retired individuals. Called “CamperForce,” it is targeted at those who want to work 3-4 months during the lead up to the holiday season at warehouses in Kentucky (although the map above suggests they are expanding to Tennessee).  According to the company, CamperForce employees receive:

  • Paid campsites
  • “Good wages” with time-and-a-half for overtime, plus shift differential
  • A paid completion bonus for those who work through Dec. 23
  • Paid referral bonuses

photo: istock


An interesting sub-segment of the modern-day migrant movement are those who travel and live in vans, working along the way. (A broad term for this is “vanlife.”) Search #vanlife on any social media service and you’ll discover a large community of those who are working and living the #vanlife.

This group can include a segment or workers called digital nomads. people with a location-independent lifestyle and professional or creative skills that allow them to work anywhere in the world there is a good internet connection and a place to park their vans. Think programmers, designers, writers, marketers, etc.

photo: istock

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