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Derrick Pruitt, owner of Happy’s Java and Soul Food Shack sells the unheard of – home-cooked meals from a drive-up window. After a near-fatal hit and run accident in 2008, Derrick was told he would never work again. Defying the odds, he built his own innovative and successful coffee, barbecue and soul-food business with his wife, Marcella, in Springfield, Oregon.

Ever since she was a six-year-old managing the cherry pickers on her grandparents’ farm, Rita Santillanes and her family have known she was “a natural born boss.”

Now, Rita and her husband John are the owners of four Peppertree Inns – a part of the Best Western Plus franchise – in Spokane, Liberty Lake, Omak and Auburn. The hotels collectively employ approximately 85 people in Washington state including their oldest son, daughter-in-law and John’s sister.

Use the form below to alert SBA of Federal agency bundling or consolidation practices that keep a small business from successfully competing for a contract.

Miami Security Business Owner Protects and Invests in His Community

Can you start a nationwide company from a small town in rural Oklahoma? You can if you follow the lead of Sherrie Schatz and Sheree Lewis, owners of Schatz Publishing Group in Blackwell, Oklahoma.

"We wouldn't have been able to do it without the SBA," said Sherrie Schatz, co-owner. "The 8(a) program has given us a chance to show what we can do."

There's something about Retro-a-go-go! that makes you smile the moment you enter the company's new headquarters in downtown Howell, MI. Maybe it's the fun & functional jewelry, accessories, and home décor that owner Kirsten Pagacz and her product designer husband sell. Perhaps it's the little bit naughty but oh so nice vintage parasols on display, or her stellar team. Whatever the reason, Kirsten and Doug Pagacz have created a successful, predominantly on-line business based on nostalgia and fun.

Thank you for visiting the Office of Small Business Development Center's SBDC Grantees Portal. Content on this site is intended for SBDC Grantees only.

If you have difficulty in accessing any of these materials, please contact OSBDC at 202-205-6766 to discuss special accommodations.

The Office of Investment and Innovation of the U.S. Small Business Administration is proud to present the results of the Small Business Investment Company Program (SBIC) for Fiscal Year 2013. We continue to reach small businesses throughout the country, supporting U.S. jobs across diverse industries, including manufacturing, consumer and business services, transportation, technology, and health.

Select the link below to download the SBIC Program FY 2013 Annual Report:

Worker Classification: What’s at Stake?

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
Published: June 19, 2014

When you need help to run your business, you have to decide whether to hire an employee or outsource the work to an independent contractor. For the most part, independent contractors are on their own when it comes to taxes, insurance, and retirement savings. In contrast, employees are largely your responsibility for these costs. You’re free to opt for the arrangement that works better for your business. But you can’t simply attach a label to a worker and make it stick; it all depends on the degree of control that you exercise. Here’s what’s at stake for your decisions and actions:

Employment taxes

As a rule of thumb, it costs about 10% of a worker’s pay to cover employment taxes, which include the employer’s share of FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes) and federal and state unemployment taxes. What’s more, in most cases you have to carry worker’s compensation insurance. So it costs more to have an employee than an independent contractor.

The IRS uses various factors to determine worker classification. These factors are grouped into behavioral control (whether you have the right to tell the worker when, where, and how the work gets done), financial (whether you or the worker controls such matters as when payment is made, if there is reimbursement for expenses, and who pays for the tools of the job), and the type of relationship created by you and the worker (what both envision, whether there is a written agreement, and the permanency of the arrangement).

If the IRS challenges your treating a worker as an independent contractor and you lose (you should have classified the worker as an employee), you face back taxes and serious penalties. However, you can voluntarily reclassify workers as employees using the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program. If eligible for the program, the cost is only 10% of the tax for the most recent year, with no interest or penalty. Or you may be able to rely on a safe harbor (called Section 530 relief).

Employee benefits

If you have employee benefit programs, such as a qualified retirement plan, you must include employees. Independent contractors are on their own for retirement savings. The cost of employee benefit programs can add another 10% or more of compensation to your payroll costs.

At present, you don’t have to offer health coverage to employees, but that may change. Whether you will be subject to the employer mandate depends on the number of your full-time and full-time-equivalent employees. Starting in 2016, if you have 50 to 99 such employees, you must provide health coverage of your full-time staff or pay a penalty (companies with 100 or more employees face the employer mandate in 2015). The IRS explains how to figure full-time employees, which means essentially working 30 hours per week.

Government mandates

Employees are protected by a number of federal workplace laws (some only apply if the company has a certain number of employees as indicated in parentheses), including:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act bars workplace discrimination of those age 40 and older (20 or more employees)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act barring discrimination on the basis of a physical, mental, or emotional disability and requiring reasonable accommodations for the disability on the job (15 or more employees)
  • Civil Rights Acts bars discrimination in the workplace on the basis of a variety of factors (e.g., race, gender) (15 or more employees).
  • Equal Pay Act mandates equal pay for men and women performing substantially the same work (2 or more employees)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act for minimum wage and overtime rules (2 or more employees)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act for unpaid time off (50 or more employees)

Companies that violate these laws can be subject to government penalties and lawsuits by workers. Employment laws do not apply to independent contractors.

Conclusion

In figuring the real cost of employment, add 15% and 50% of compensation to your budget for taxes, insurance, and benefits for employees (e.g., a $40,000 employee costs you at least $46,000 and, depending upon the benefits package, as much as $60,000). Think about the cost before you add workers to your payroll. And make sure that if you decide to outsource, you do it right. Work with an employment law attorney so that the arrangements you make conform to law requirements.

About the Author:

BarbaraWeltman
Barbara Weltman

Guest Blogger

Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes, J.K. Lasser's Guide to Self-Employment, and Smooth Failing as well as a trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® and host of Build Your Business Radio. She has been included in the List of 100 Small Business Influencers for three years in a row. Follow her on Twitter: @BigIdeas4SB or at www.BigIdeasforSmallBusiness.com

Business Capital and Electronic Payments: Insights from National Small Business Week 2014

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: June 18, 2014

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you know how important access to capital is to success. And we know it, too! During last month’s National Small Business Week (NSBW) events, which were held across the country and online, it was a topic addressed by our speakers and panelists as they shared experience and insights. One of those speakers was Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business at Visa, who talked about using electronic payments for your small business. Here’s a look at what she had to say.

Whether you’re a looking to start a new business or running an existing operation, Zablock starts, entrepreneurs face challenges when it comes to access to capital – an understood foundation to success, given that so many cite lack of funds as a reason for failure in the first few years. But the second piece to this access-to-capital puzzle? The flow of capital on a daily basis, or the “lifeblood” of small businesses, as Zablock puts it.

Citing Visa’s recent quarterly survey of small business owners, in the top five concerns of small business owners is how to manage cash flow. “If a small business lacks a secure, reliable and convenient way to pay and be paid, there’s a good chance you’ll be in a tough place,” Zablock says. You won’t have funds you need to buy inventory, meet payroll or pay bills. And no matter how great customer service is to bring in good business, without capital flow, it can be a recipe for disaster.

That’s where using electronic payments can come in to help. Zablock touts this method as a way to meet daily needs and to address a lot of pain points she’s heard from small businesses. There’s time and cost savings associated with not having to handle cash or checks; not needing to count money; and skipping trips to the bank and avoiding cell phone use for deposits.

Zablock mentioned another interesting finding from the survey – that the top desire of small business owners is to attract new customers and grow their businesses. Until recently, the most important thing on business owners’ minds was to simply stay afloat, not necessarily grow. In more optimistic economic times, entrepreneurs are broadening their looks ahead.

So what’s the connection between wanting to grow your business and electronic payments? Zablock points out that an entire customer base – young adults – are much more inclined toward electronic methods than their parents’ generation of cash or check. Many don’t carry checkbooks or even cash, so supporting electronic payments opens your business up to a different kind of customer. This is increasingly relevant when you consider the use of mobile technologies as well (smart phones, tablets, etc.)

The potential benefits of electronic payment that Zablock mentions are clear: efficiency, cost savings and growing your business. So it may be worth researching further to determine if it’s something you should implement for your small business venture. SBA is also here to help if you have questions about capital. Check out a district office near you and get in touch if you’re looking for financial guidance.

Interested in more insights and stories from National Small Business Week? If you missed the excitement last month, don’t worry – you don’t have to wait until next year! We’ve got a recap here with a highlights reel you can check out to hear from our guests and small business experts.

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

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