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GSI hosts Thursday BizStreet session on digital marketing strategies

Marketing works. But how best to market in a digital world?

GSI is looking for ways to help area business owners answer the question.

Later this week — Thursday — it's hosting a session termed “Online Marketing, Taking the Next Step.”

The three hour BizStreet Intensive features Chris Reilly of Unleashed Online Marketing  and Ed Reese of Sixth Man Marketing. Spokesman.com did a feature on Ed a few years ago.

The two will describe options for businesses to maximize online presence and marketing. It starts with a coffee warmup at 7:30 a.m. and runs from 8 to 11 a.m. at the GSI first floor meeting room, 801 W. Riverside Ave.

You should register ahead of time, by going here: REGISTER.

It costs $30 for GSI Members / $50 for non-members.

Idaho Friendliest Toward Small Biz

In Thumbstack.com's annual business survey, Idaho ranked as the friendliest state in the nation for small business, followed by Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Louisiana. The online referral company, in conjunction with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, surveyed more than 6,000 small business owners across the country to come up with the list of friendliest states for small businesses.  The survey looked at an array of things including tax regulations, licensing requirements, training and government support. While tax related rules are important, the survey found small business owners also want easy to understand licensing regulations and training programs that are well publicized. You can read why Idaho leads the pack here.

Question: Do you agree that Idaho is a good place to operate a small business?

Small business tax cuts to take effect in 2013

If you own a small business and have yet to do your taxes, the U.S. Small Business Administration has some good news.There are 17 small-business tax cuts already signed into law and an additional five are proposed for 2013, the Tri-City Herald reports.

“These tax cuts are available to all types of small businesses, from main street shops to high growth startups,” said Calvin W. Goings, assistant associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration, in a press release.

Some of the tax cuts are:

•Start-up entrepreneurs can deduct $5,000 for start-up expenditures.

•If you have bought new equipment, you can write-off a larger portion of the cost of that new equipment this year rather than depreciating the cost over time. The maximum amount a small business can expense on new.

•Tax credits are available for starting or continuing to provide health insurance coverage for your employees, and this applies even if you are self-employed.

•Starting in 2010, the process for deducting the cost of your cell phone and monthly bills was vastly simplified.
For more information, contact the local district office in Washington at sba.gov.<a href='http://www.sba.gov/'>sba.gov</a>

Proposed B&O tax break for startups advances

Legislation that would exempt new Washington-based businesses from the state's B&O tax in their first year of operations has cleared a key Senate committee.

Senate Bill 6327, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, advanced with a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Economic Development, Trade and Innovation Committee. It's now waiting for consideration by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Under the measure, news businesses with fewer than 25 employees would enjoy the exemption for two years, plus a 50 percent reduction on their B&O tax bill in their third year of operations.“This measure would make it clear to entrepreneurs inside and outside of the state that legislators want our small-business employers to succeed and that Washington is open for business,” said Padden.

Legislative analysts predict the exemption would cost the state about $2.9 million in lost tax revenue in 2013 and $10.6 million in 2014.

The state's business-and-occupation tax, often called a gross-receipts tax, is heavily criticized on both sides of the partisan aisle because it targets gross revenue rather than profits. The rate differs by industry but all companies are given an exemption on their first $250,000 in revenue each year.

Padden and other backers argue that giving new companies a break could help business startups survive those critical first years in Washington, which currently has the nation's second-highest rate of startup failure.

Day after Black Friday is being called Small (is Beautiful) Business Saturday

Expert Author Laurie BrownSmall businesses who are trying to gain advantages during the coming holiday season are being urged to reate a party atmosphere, especially during the Black Friday weekend.

A number of retail experts are making their suggestions known, advising small business owners to think creative, think friendly, think social media this coming season.

The usual suggestions are back:  Offer treats your store would not normally offer customers, such as cookies, hot cider or even a cup of cocoa. Offer free wrapping, or make extra efforts to find an item a customer can't find in one's own store.

Since social is the buzz term, advisers also say use Facebook and Twitter to connect to customers with updates on merchandise, especially including unique items and great deals.

Laurie Brown, considered a “customer service expert,” urges small businesses to really push their message to their community.

Brown says Small Business Saturday — a sponsored event that some retailers should become an ongoing effort for the day after Black Friday — is an opportunity to shine, and in doing so making an impression and hopefully a customer, in the local community, for life.

Gonzaga hosts third annual Family Business conference on June 2

Managing Relationships in Family Business: The Importance of Communication” will be this year's Gonzaga University Family Business Conference focus, which occurs on June 2.

The now-annual conference will feature Andrew Keyt, executive director of the Loyola University Family Business Center. Keyt (in photo) is considered an expert on family-business issues.

The daylong event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium.The cost is $195 per family member for the first two registrants, and all subsequent family members are admitted for $45 per person. The event includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

A key part of the day will be a discussion about using and strengthening business communication among family members. Several Spokane family business owners will also be part of the panel.

Attendees should be family members and managers of family owned businesses. The conference is sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. To register or for more information, visit www.gonzaga.edu/sbaevents or call Laura Smith at (509) 313-5991or via e-mail at smithl2@jepson.gonzaga.edu.

 

WA Lege Day 46: Baumgartner hazed as ‘too sexy’

OLYMPIA — The Senate passed Spokane Republican Mike Baumgartner's first bill easily Thursday, but not before the traditional hazing of a freshman member.

As sponsor of SB 5500, Baumgartner got to move for its passage late Thursday morning, and decided to address head-on a source of notoriety in the early weeks of his freshman year: being named one of the Inland Northwest's Sexiest People by the Pacific Northwest Inlander.

He set himself up for the razzing that was coming by describing the bill — which requires agencies consider the economic impact of their rules on small businesses, seek business input on those rules and actually listen to that input — as a handsome and debonaire proposal to cure an unsightly problems. “Bold is beautiful,” he concluded.

Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, didn't take issue with the bill. Instead, she took the floor to play a few seconds of “I'm Too Sexy” from her cell phone into the microphone. Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, said took issue with her selection, saying it should have been the version by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

“I'm glad you're bringing sexy back to the Senate,” Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said. “I hope you can give me some of your tips.”

Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, serving as the body's President Pro Tem, later expressed some false surprise: “The president was not aware that there was a shortage of sexy men.”

As is traditional, Baumgartner had gifts delivered to all senators' offices to mark his first speech. He actually sent two, a bottle of Latah Creek's “Spokane Blush” wine, with a quote from G.K. Chesterton about working together, and a lump of coal. His wife is pregnant with their first child and due in June, he said.

“If we don't get out of here in time to see my baby born, I'm taking the wine back and you can keep the coal.”

The session is due to end April 24, but a special session will be called if legislators can't settle on a way to cut an estimated $4.6 billion from the 2011-13 budget. Some legislative staff have been told to be prepared to work through June.

A Valentine’s Day date with the tax man

The Washington Department of Revenue will visit with local business owners in Spokane on Monday (yes, Valentine's Day) to get input on how the agency can simplify the tax process for small businesses.

The visit to Greater Spokane Incorporated's offices, 801 W. Riverside, Suite 100, is part of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s executive order last October to make it easier to do business in the state.

This event is free and open to any businesses, not just GSI members. It will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Information and registration: http://events.greaterspokane.org/default.asp?cale_id=1409&details=true

Small business event on Thursday

Mayor Mary Verner will host a discussion about the issues facing small businesses in Spokane on Thursday Nov. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the City Council Chambers. The Mayor will be joined by three small business owners and also by people who have worked in economic development in Spokane for a long time.
The city will also unveil the results of the small business survey it’s just conducted.
Please join the Mayor at City Council Chambers or watch live on CityCable channel 5.

Mayor Verner focus on small business

Join Mayor Mary Verner on Thursday, Nov. 18, as she hosts a discussion about the issues facing small businesses in Spokane.  The event, called “Let’s Talk: A Conversation with Mayor Verner about our Small Business Community,” will be held in the City Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., from 10:30 a.m. to noon. During the event, the Mayor will be joined by three small business owners who will talk about their challenges during this time of recession.
In addition, the City will unveil the results of its small business survey, which looks at economic conditions, workforce issues, access to capital, and local government’s role.  The City is collecting responses on the survey through Nov. 14; it is available at www.surveymonkey.com - look for Spokane small business survery.

Via e-mail from City Hall

Take the small business survey

Join Mayor Mary Verner on Thursday, Nov. 18, as she hosts a discussion about the issues facing small businesses in Spokane.  The event, called “Let’s Talk: A Conversation with Mayor Verner about our Small Business Community,” will be held in the City Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., from 10:30 a.m. to noon. During the event, the Mayor will be joined by three small business owners who will talk about their challenges during this time of recession.
In addition, the City will unveil the results of its small business survey, which looks at economic conditions, workforce issues, access to capital, and local government’s role.  The City is collecting responses on the survey through Nov. 14; it is available at www.surveymonkey.com - look for Spokane small business survery.

Via e-mail from City Hall

Governor’s order targets barriers to small business

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire today ordered state agencies to develop programs and institute reforms that will boost small businesses faltering in the ongoing economic downturn.

The initiatives range from help with exports, to improving access to credit, to alleviating the burdens imposed by the state’s complex tax structure and regulatory requirements.

The economy is changing, and government must change to reflect the changes, she said.

Some changes have already been made, Gregoire said, and others will be implemented as soon as they can be identified with legislative consent.

“This is all stuff I think we can do ourselves,” she said, noting the state has already expanded business and occupation tax credits.

She sad 400 jobs were created thanks to $1 million in B&O tax credits targeted at rural counties.

Gregoire said 95 percent of Washington businesses have fewer than 50 employees.

“Clearly, small business represents the backbone of the economy in our state,” she said.

Group Health To Stop Some Coverage

Item: Group Health to stop covering small businesses: Employers with 50 people or less will no longer receive insurance/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: A Seattle-based health insurance provider’s decision to stop covering small employer groups in Idaho will leave 450 people in the Coeur d’Alene and Moscow areas without medical insurance come Jan. 1. Group Health’s decision to discontinue insuring groups of 50 people or less is a business decision that has nothing to do with health care reform, said Bob Burden, the administrator for the organization’s coverage area east of the Cascades.

Question: How many times have you had to go through the inconvenience of changing insurance companies as a result of changes made by your company or increasing cost?