Archive for June, 2018

Issues beyond Opec will drive oil prices in coming years

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

US shale oil production is set to have a dramatic effect on the global market

What is the Impact of an Online Sales Tax Following the Supreme Court’s Ruling?

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Here is what you need to know about the impact of an online sales tax

You may have heard the Supreme Court this week ruled states can now require collection of sales taxes for online purchases — no matter where in the U.S. the seller might be located. The ruling overturns a pair of older court decisions essentially saying consumers were responsible for paying sales taxes to their state, rather than paying it through the retailer. These older rulings also said in order for retailers to be forced to collect sales taxes on purchases, they needed to have a physical presence in the state where the taxes were being levied.

The ruling is likely to have a major impact on small online retail businesses. Here’s what you need to know:

What Case Did the Court Rule On?

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair. The State of South Dakota originally sued home goods retailers Wayfair and, along with electronics retailer Newegg after passing a law saying out-of-state ecommerce businesses generating more than $100,000 in sales in the state or processing more than 200 transactions annually with the state’s residents should collect sales tax on those purchases and send the proceedes to the state. The Supreme court ultimately ruled with South Dakota, 5-4.

What Previous Ruling Was Overturned?

The most recent ruling upholding the so-called physical presence rule was Quill v. North Carolina in 1992. In it, the court decided retailers could not be forced to collect sales taxes unless they had a physical presence in a state. It still allowed states to collect sales taxes from consumers. But most did not know to remit those payments, so states rarely collected taxes on those online purchases, causing them to miss out on millions in sales tax earnings.

Why Did They Overturn This Ruling?

It’s rare for the Supreme Court to overturn its own rulings, especially rulings made so recently. However, the tech landscape has changed so much in the years since, the majority in the decision felt it was no longer practical for online businesses to avoid collecting taxes on many of their sales when other types of businesses were forced to collect them.

Here is what you need to know about the impact of an online sales tax

What Will This Change for Your Online Retail Business?

If you sell goods online, you probably were already collecting sales taxes on sales in your home state, since you have a physical presence there. However, you weren’t necessarily required to collect sales taxes on purchases outside of your own state. Now, states can require you do so. It’s likely states will react to this decision with updated sales tax rules in the coming weeks.

Did Some States Already Collect Sales Taxes on Purchases from Out-of-State Sellers?

Yes, 31 states had already passed some kind of law requiring sales tax on those purchases. The laws vary in their exact implications. This chart from the Tax Foundation outlines what the laws in each state looked like prior to the ruling.

What is the Impact of an Online Sales Tax?

There are varying thoughts on this subject. But essentially, the ruling means states can now force businesses without a physical local presence to collect sales tax on purchases made by customers in the state. Large retail chains like Walmart already have physical stores in every state, so they were already collecting these taxes. And major online retailers like Amazon also have warehouses in tons of locations. So small retail shops selling online out of one state, Etsy sellers, and independent ecommerce businesses run out of homes are the ones neeeding to make a change. Basically, they’ll have to play by the same rules as the Walmarts and Amazons of the world.

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist said in a statement, “Today the Supreme Court said ‘yes — you can be taxed by politicians you do not elect and who act knowing you are powerless to object.’ This power can now be used to export sales taxes, personal and corporate income taxes, and opens the door for the European Union to export its tax burden onto American businesses — as they have been demanding.”

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council President and CEO Karen Kerrigan said in a statement, “Small businesses and internet entrepreneurs are not well served at all by this decision. The precedent that a business must have a physical presence in a state before it can be required to collect sales taxes on remote sales was a sound standard, but now has been upended by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision will create havoc for small businesses and the marketplace, and opens the possibility that states may use this decision to flex their newfound taxing power beyond internet sales. The dissenting justices were correct in their findings. As appropriately stated by Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent: ‘Any alteration to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress.’ Now, Congress must finally step up. In fact it must do so immediately given the many unanswered questions and issues posed by the ruling. It creates uncertainty, havoc, vast new costs and exposure for small businesses. The fact that small businesses must now act as tax collectors for thousands of separate state and local jurisdiction is outrageous.”

Others, like Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Vice President Daniel Castro, feel like it’s a step in the right direction. Since there were also large online retailers that took advantage of the physical presence rule, he argues the ruling levels the playing field by ensuring that all businesses have to play by the same rules. He said in a statement, “Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that states may require out-of-state businesses to collect sales tax on consumers even if they do not have a physical presence. This ruling ensures that major online businesses cannot operate as virtual sales tax havens, allowing consumers to avoid paying their fair share of sales taxes and unfairly competing with other online and brick-and-mortar retailers. The ruling is the right step forward for the digital economy. E-commerce has grown up.”

What Will This Ruling Cost My Business?

The ruling means states can collect sales taxes on purchases. So the actual money is coming from consumers, rather than businesses. However, it means sales tax will need to be factored into the total cost of each transaction, if the buyer comes from a state charging sales tax online. Prior to the ruling, customers were likely to have those costs factored into purchases from major chains like Walmart but not from independent sellers in the Amazon marketplace. So it could just make your products less competitive when it comes to pricing, potentially leading to a loss of customers.

How Can My Business Comply with This Ruling?

The issue of compliance is a big one for independent retailers, since different states and communities have different tax rates and rules. There are software programs dedicated to helping online businesses collect sales tax for various states. Though this is likely to be an added cost for your business, it’s likely more efficient than trying to process those items manually.

Does This Ruling Affect Offline Businesses

Not directly. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you should already collect sales tax in the state or states where you operate. However, many traditional retail businesses have suffered in recent years due to increased competition from online retailers, with whom they often couldn’t compete on price. So now since online retailers will have to collect sales taxes on all relevant purchases, it evens this part of the playing field for small local shops. Still, it doesn’t change other discrepancies in operating costs between physical and online businesses like overhead.

Could This Lead to Any Other Changes Going Forward?

Some industry associations and advocacy groups worry overturning the physical presence rule could set a precedent and lead to states expanding their collection of sales tax to other online businesses like service providers or enact other rules to favor brick-and-mortar stores over online retailers.

As Castro observes, “…not all states have participated in the efforts to streamline their sales taxes systems. Moreover, states have a history of enacting laws and regulations that discriminate against online businesses to boost local businesses. Congress should continue to monitor and resist any attempts by states to place undue burdens on e-commerce, and policymakers should encourage states to streamline their sales tax systems before requiring out-of-state sellers to collect sales taxes so as to minimize compliance costs, which will ultimately be passed on to consumers.”

Photos: Shutterstock, Shutterstock

This article, “What is the Impact of an Online Sales Tax Following the Supreme Court’s Ruling?” was first published on Small Business Trends


Lucara chief seeks digital disruption for diamond industry

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Eira Thomas turns to blockchain to shake-up $14bn precious stones sector

Gold miner ‘Pog the Dog’ drives some investors barking mad

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

UK-listed Petropavlovsk which operates in Russia has become billionaires’ plaything

Russia backs Opec plan to pump more oil

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Saudi Arabian oil minister makes it clear the kingdom has crude on tap

Growth & Success Con Gives Insights for the Entrepreneur’s Journey

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

7 Offbeat Small Business Growth Strategies to Follow

If you want some sage advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Growth & Success Con 2018 is the place to get it.

The virtual conference for small businesses is taking place September 17 -18, 2018 online.

These experts will share creative ideas and workable business solutions with actionable insights to help your business grow and move forward.

They will offer advice on how to build your brand, manage and overcome fear, develop a mindset for growth and success, increase your confidence, productivity and leadership skills and more. Click the red box to attend the conference.

Register for Free

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Growth & Success ConGrowth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online

This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!

More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

Image: Growth

This article, “Growth & Success Con Gives Insights for the Entrepreneur’s Journey” was first published on Small Business Trends


10 Tips to Ensure Your Small Business Website Delivers Results

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018


Creating a website is one of the most important things you’ll do when getting your business up and running. It can help you market your offerings, communicate with customers and complete sales. So you need to be very intentional about how you create it and then constantly work to improve it going forward. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community to help you create the best possible website for your business.

Include These Critical Factors for Website Success

Every business’s website looks different, but there are some components that should be included in just about every one. To ensure that your website is well poised to help you appeal to customers and meet your goals, check out this Search Engine Journal post by Corey Morris.

Consider the Best Location for Your Content

When you create marketing content for your business, you can choose to keep it on your own website or send it to another location. There are pros and cons to both, so it’s important to carefully consider the options. Julie Joyce elaborates in this Marketing Land post.

Create Quality Content Consistently

Blogging or content creation is a great way to keep your website fresh. But you need to create a schedule that works for your business. In this Content Champion post, Loz James discusses how often you should blog as a business owner. And BizSugar members shared their thoughts here.

Get Inspired by These Trending Typography Designs

Typography is an important component of any website or branding design. So it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the latest trends in typography to improve the look of your website. Lana Miro shares some current design inspiration for your consideration in this DIY Marketers post.

Get More Done with Less Effort

Whether it’s through your website or any other process for your business, efficiency is paramount. If you can get more done with less, then your business can grow faster than ever before. See more in this GetResponse post by Ada Durzynska.

Be a Better Blogger with These Unique Tips

If you have a blog on your website, there are several tried and true tactics you can use to improve it. But if you’ve already got the basics down, you could possibly benefit from the more unique tips in this Basic Blog Tips post by Janice Wald.

Take Charge of Your Bounce Rate and Boost Conversion

Getting people to click over to your website isn’t enough to make it a success. The ultimate goal is to get visitors to actually stay and convert them into customers. So you need to work on improving your bounce and conversion rates. Susan Solovic includes more information in this post.

Start Marketing Before You Have a Product

Your website can be a great way for you to build some buzz before a product launch. In fact, there are several ways you can start marketing your business before you even have a product to offer. Here are some suggestions from Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings. Then you can see commentary from members of the BizSugar community here.

Consider These Success Factors for Shopify Sites

If you host your ecommerce website on Shopify, there are some specific measures of success to consider. Since the platform is different than any other type of website, it’s important that you know what to look for as you progress. Check out this Noobpreneur post by Ivan Widjaya for more.

Promote Your Content on Social Media

Once you post content to your website, you need to find different ways to get the word out and encourage potential customers to interact with it. Social media should be at the top of your list for doing just that. In this Social Media HQ post, Chris Zilles offers some social media methods that you can use to effectively get the word out about your content.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:

Photo via Shutterstock


This article, “10 Tips to Ensure Your Small Business Website Delivers Results” was first published on Small Business Trends


Amazon WorkDocs Introduces Multi-User Collaboration with Benefits for Small Business Teams

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Amazon WorkDocs Collaboration Feature Launched

Amazon Web Services (AWS) just announced a new collaborative editing feature for Amazon WorkDocs with big implications for small business teams. The new capability is made possible as a result of a partnership with Hancom, a company which provides office productivity software.

Because of this partnership, WorkDocs users will now be able to edit Microsoft Office documents in their browser without having to install any applications or connect with another web service. This according to Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for the company on the official AWS New Blog.

Amazon WorkDocs provides an affordable service for small businesses, and many startups use it because of the value it offers. At only $5 per month per user, the service provides the first Terabyte of storage for free along with the reliable infrastructure of AWS for always-on availability. The new editing feature means better collaboration for users no matter where they are.

Amazon WorkDocs Collaboration

According to Barr, users can now create a document and start sharing it with their team members using the collaborative editing capability of Hancom Thinkfree Office Online. Users can create new documents, worksheets, and presentations. They can then share these documents and make changes to files from a web browser.

The editing capability also extends to Microsoft Office files, which can be accomplished from the WorkDocs web application using Hancom. This means users don’t have to worry about switching apps when they want to make changes to Microsoft Office files.

Users can be located anywhere and use any device to access WorkDocs. All it takes is for the WorkDocs administrator to enable it.

Access From Anywhere

As more startups and established small businesses continue to use a distributed workforce, the ability to access resources and collaborate is crucial.

The AWS platform delivers these capabilities to large enterprises every day, and small entrepreneurs can also take advantage of it at price points any small business can afford. This includes a secure and compliant platform where the data is encrypted in transit and at rest with management controls and active directory integration.

The new editing feature is now available for free to all WorkDocs users in the US West (Oregon) Region. Other regions can expect the feature to become available in the next couple of weeks.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Amazon WorkDocs Introduces Multi-User Collaboration with Benefits for Small Business Teams” was first published on Small Business Trends


Your Employees Could Save 33 Minutes and 36 Seconds Per Week with Visual Communication

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Benefits of Visual Communication - Increased Productivity

New research has revealed employees can save 33 minutes and 36 seconds over a 40 hour week by simply using visual communications.

The study — The Value of Visuals: A Business Case for Visual Communications in the Workplace (PDF) — from TechSmith, a company specializing in video production tools for business, points out just how much companies can accomplish if they start communicating more visually.

Benefits of Visual Communication

According to the research, businesses can potentially unlock more than $167 billion in productivity by using visual content in employee communications. This includes screenshots, screencasts, images, videos and GIFs.

In an announcement on the official TechSmith website, CEO Wendy Hamilton explains, “We’ve always known that visuals are essential to the effectiveness of communication, and therefore are essential to instruct and inspire. The essential findings of this study are, first, that visuals matter even more than most assume and second, there is an urgency for leaders to adapt as employee demographics change.”

The research was carried with the participation of 4,500 office workers across six regions around the world including: Australia, Canada, Germany — Austria and Switzerland referred to collectively as DACH — the UK, and the US. The study attempted to measure how 125 office workers undertook three everyday tasks when communicated by visual and non-visual means. The tasks included uploading a post to a website, downloading new software, and filling in an expenses form.

Key Findings

When it comes to adding visual business communication as a way of increasing productivity while saving time, employees in the US will benefit the most because of the long working hours compared to other regions. The US also leads in internal business communications, which is why the research indicates better productivity through visual communication could add $1,721.80 of value per employee.

The study indicated France would see the second greatest leap in productivity unleashing $1456.44 of additional value per employee. Finally, the study estimates businesses in the DACH nations would see $1399.30 in added productivity per employee, businesses in Australia an added $1384.70, businesses in Canada an added $1258.58 and businesses in the UK an added $1258.56.


Benefits of Visual Communication - Increased Productivity

In addition to the financial benefits, the report showed 67% of employees perform better with visual communication instead of text alone. The rate at which they absorb visual information is also 7% faster than with text.

When it comes to comprehension, adding visual content coupled with text increased accuracy by 8%, and using video over text increased accuracy by 6%.

Results led researchers to conclude when visual communication is used at the right time and in the right context it can potentially unlock 6 minutes and 43 seconds a day for each employee. This translates to 33 minutes and 36 seconds in a 40 hour work week and the equivalent to 25 days of added productivity each year.

Effective Business Communications

Small businesses now have access to more communications tools than ever before but choosing the right hardware, software and system can be a challenge. And effective communications between employees, customers, partners and other parties is even more important in an always-connected world.

What the TechSmith research points out is the need to simplify business communication to make it more effective. And adding visuals might just be the way to do it.

Images: TechSmith

This article, “Your Employees Could Save 33 Minutes and 36 Seconds Per Week with Visual Communication” was first published on Small Business Trends


This Week in Small Business, Supreme Court OKs Internet Sales Tax, Etsy Raises Seller Fees

Friday, June 22nd, 2018


Welcome back to another edition of This Week in Small Business.

This is where I look at the week that was in small business news as it appeared on Small Business Trends and offer some more insight.

Online Sales Tax Ruling

And this week, it’s hard to ignore the Supreme Court ruling that now allows states to enact sales taxes on online sales.

This will likely increase the cost of items bought and sold online. If you buy supplies online for your business, you’ll likely see a spike as states approve these taxes. If you’re an online seller, this could complicate matters when it comes to who you tax and how much you’re to collect. This may be a matter of which ecommerce platform best adapts to the changes to make the transition easier on its sellers.

In other news this week, one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, Etsy, announced it was raising seller fees — including shipping charges! That’s a double-whammy that may make some sellers re-consider their plans.

I also took some time this week to discuss productivity hacks, as provided by Larry Kim. And I also looked a little deeper at a piece that published this week on potential reasons why your small business is struggling.

These articles were just a sample of what was happening for small businesses this week. For the rest, check out this roundup from Small Business Trends.

In case you’ve missed any of the previous editions of This Week in Small Business, be sure to check them out at the Small Business Trends YouTube channel. And be sure not to miss future This Week in Small Business videos. Subscribe to the Small Business Trends YouTube channel today.


BambooHR Releases Mobile App Aimed at Speeding Up Your Recruiting Process

Today’s job market is extremely tight, and qualified candidates are being snatched up faster than ever. The new applicant tracking system (ATS) mobile app from BambooHR Hiring was developed to quickly and efficiently let you evaluate the best candidates from your mobile device. According to Officevibe, the best candidates can be off the market in as little as 10 days.


Student Loan Crisis: Are Small Businesses Impacted?

Massive student loan debt is having a crippling effect on the U.S. economy. According to the United States Federal Reserve, 44.2 million students owe $1.52 trillion . This amount is growing by $29 billion a quarter. Student loan debt now surpasses all other forms of debt except mortgages. College debt exceeds what is owed for vehicle loans and on credit cards.


Small Businesses Streamline Recruiting with New Google Hire

When Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) launched Hire almost a year ago, the company wanted to simplify the hiring process. And now it has improved the platform by making it smarter and faster to recruit your next hire. The new Hire has integrated Google AI to deliver one-click functionalities to hire help for time-consuming tasks and repetitive chores.

Give Your Employees Kudos on LinkedIn

Recognizing your employees for what they do has a bigger impact than most owners or managers may realize. LinkedIn is addressing this very issue with a new feature it calls Kudos so you can show your appreciation to everyone with whom you work.

Marketing Tips

These States Have the Most Loyal Customers in the U.S.

Customer loyalty is one of the main goals of any business, achieving it will ensure long-term success for your company. Square has used the data from the 14 million customers who have enrolled in its Square Loyalty solution to come up with some interesting findings, including which states have the most loyal customers.

Small  Businesses Know Marketing is Important but Continue to Under Invest, Survey Says

Small business owners consider finding new customers to be their biggest challenge and consequently label deploying new marketing strategies to reach out to prospective customers as their primary focus to ensure business growth. Despite being most important for small business growth, marketing remains the most underinvested area among small business owners.

eRelevance  Releases New Services to Gauge ROI in Advertising and Business Communications

If you’re a small business owner who feels overwhelmed by technology but lured by its promise, there’s a new idea being floated specifically for you. eRelevance has announced a new suite of tech services flipping the old model of offering small businesses software they can buy and run themselves on its head.

Retail Trends

Could Mastercard Smart Mirror Boost Retail Sales for Your Small Business?

Removing the pain point of the payment process is one of the best ways to improve the customer experience for small and large retailers. The new Mastercard Smart Mirror will be the first of its kind to include a payment function while the customer is trying different outfits using Augmented Reality (AR).

Small Business Loans

Small Business Loan Approval Rates Hit Record High, Biz2Credit Reports

The Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index for May 2018 is reporting record highs of loan approval from banks and institutional lenders. Biz2Credit Lending Index May 2018 The record highs reflect a strong US economy and job growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate is currently at 3.8%.

Small Business Operations

Restaurant POS Lightspeed Announces iOS Integrations

Lightspeed has announced it is integrating Intuit QuickBooks Online and Planday so retailers and restaurateurs can efficiently manage their finances and workforce within the iOS ecosystem. Lightspeed iOS Integration Intuit is going to bring its payroll solution, while Planday will provide a workforce management platform.

Social Media

Expert Advice: How to Use Social Media Video Ads Effectively

According to the IAB Digital Video Center of Excellence, brands and agencies saw how valuable digital marketing was in 2017 for targeting and connecting to niche audiences. And this was especially the case with video ads.


20 Amazing Stats on Women Entrepreneurs from SCORE

SCORE just announced the results of a report on female entrepreneurs. “The Megaphone of Main Street: Women’s Entrepreneurship” features a number of interesting stats on the state of business ownership among women.

More Than Half of Small Business Buyers are Under 50

If you’re looking to sell a business this may be the time — and you may want to look for buyers under the age of 50. The 2018 Small Business Owner & Buyer Demographics study by BizBuySell has revealed 53% of small business buyers are under the age of 50.

Technology Trends

New Orderly Restaurant Food Index Arms Restaurants with Data to Control Food Costs

Controlling food cost in a restaurant is a challenge because it is one of the largest expenses of the business. In order to manage this expenditure more effectively, online restaurant management tool Orderly has launched a Restaurant Food Index (RFI) with a comprehensive directory of prices restaurants pay for their ingredients.

Android Messages Introduces PC Texting for Small Businesses

When it comes to being able to chat on an entire ecosystem, Apple delivers. With iMessage, you can chat on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is looking to do the same with the rollout of Android Messages to run on your computer.

Zelle Forecasted to Soon Be Most Popular P2P Payments App, But Can It Help Your Business?

According to eMarketer’s latest US mobile payment forecast, Zelle will be surpassing Venmo as the most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payment app in 2018. But will the new app be useful to your small business? As one of the newest P2P mobile payment platforms, Zelle has made some impressive gains in a short time.

Zoho Show Aims to Provide Intuitive Presentation Tool for Small Business

When you’re making a dynamic presentation for a client, you need software tools to help you express your ideas simply without the need for a lot of technical expertise. The new Zoho Show has been designed to simplify this process with an intuitive interface allowing you to create your content simply instead of spending your time trying to master the software.

This article, “This Week in Small Business, Supreme Court OKs Internet Sales Tax, Etsy Raises Seller Fees” was first published on Small Business Trends