Official Bootstrapper Announcement: Resource Guides for A Financially Better You

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 2:32am by Site Administrator

 

Hello Bootstrapper Followers!

Check out the newest addition to our site – a section devoted to educational resources that will help you lead a more financially secure life.  We’re proud to present the most recent addition, Money Matters: A Guide to Teaching Finances to Children.  It’s a five part resource that we recommend you start reading from the beginning, but feel free to jump to the section that speaks most to you. 

Part I: An Introduction to Teaching Financial Independence

Part II: Government-Sponsored Investment Programs

Part III: Actionable Ways to Teach Children Finances 

Part IV: Understanding Credit & Credit Cards for Young Adults

Part V: Trusted Financial Resources for Parents, Teachers and Young People

As always, let us know what you think in the comments or what kinds of resource guides you want to see!

Voting for You: Are the Presidential Candidates Looking Out for Your Business?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 9:59pm by Site Administrator

It is inarguable that small businesses represent the American dream. The family-owned business is a direct reflection of the capitalist system that make it possible for anyone to establish trade of a product or service and to make a living doing so. The image of the little guy doing battle against corporate behemoths has become as much a part of our social fabric as Norman Rockwell’s paintings. As the 2012 Presidential election approaches, small businesses’ interests are high on the lists of both the Democrats and Republicans. 

Why are Small Businesses Important?

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as one that is independently owned and operated, organized for profit and not dominant in its field. Depending on the economic sector a business operates in, this qualifies as a business concern for both the Mom & Pops and small corporation of less than 500 employees. While this is a broad range, the SBA estimates that nearly 80% of business concerns in the U.S. employ fewer than 10 people, and nearly 90% employ fewer than 20.

Small businesses are important to politics. During the last two years of record, the phrase "small business" was mentioned over 10,000 times in Congressional sessions, second only to discussions of taxes and more popular than the phrase "debt limit." Small businesses are important to Washington because they drive two-thirds of the nation’s job growth.

As members of this powerful voting bloc, small businesses have much at stake in the upcoming election. Entrepreneurs are under extremely heavy federal regulation; a recent Gallup poll listed governmental compliance as the most difficult problem these business owners face. They are also heavily taxed; the U.S. has a higher business tax than nearly any other country. Smaller firms bear the brunt of this burden because they lack the resources that let large corporations abuse many tax code loopholes.

Also of growing concern to small businesses is the power that large corporations have in Washington. Corporations may legally donate large amounts of money to campaign funds, which gives big business clout on Capitol Hill. While corporations finance the excessive amount of money spent on campaign funding, politicians will continue to drum up the concerns of small business owners because of their voting power.

Small business owners are very politically active. A survey by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) reports that 97% of these business owners vote in national elections and 94% vote in state elections. Economic and fiscal policy drives these voters, who are rarely known to vote along straight party lines. Both the Obama Administration and Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign have much to prove to this voting bloc, which amounts to a third of the electorate.

 

The Two Sides and What it Means for Small Businesses


Thus far, President Obama’s administration has attempted to assist job growth in small business with 18 tax cuts, some of which were temporary. The SBA has also set a record high for small business loans, of which more than 150,000 were made since 2008. While Obama has also increased the SBA’s funding by $2 billion, business owners are no longer allowed to borrow against personal property to fund their companies – a decidedly unpopular outcome

The incumbent Democrat’s campaign platform includes the Startup America initiative, a capital matching fund for investors. If re-elected Obama promises additional support to the SBA as it attempts to provide $26 billion in loans to the private sector. Additional proposed tax cuts are designed to reward new hiring and investment in these companies. "Small businesses create 2 out of every 3 jobs in this economy, so our recovery depends on them," said Obama on the campaign trail.

Romney’s governmental record in Massachusetts is less than stellar, as startup businesses dropped by 10% during his last year in office. However, his presidential campaign platform contains plenty of juicy incentives for business owners. Proposing enormous tax cuts for households earning over $250,000 per year, Romney claims that small businesses will be largely unaffected. The idea is that a relatively small number of profitable companies under the small business umbrella create the most new jobs, and so, small business as a whole will not feel the pain.

Romney plans to cut SBA funding by nearly 20%. However, he promises to repeal portions of the controversial Dodd-Frank Act that allows banks to tighten the reins on business loans. Another major talking point of his campaign, the promise to end Obamacare, directly affects these business owners. Under the provisions of Obamacare, federally mandated healthcare legislation has the potential to be very costly to business owners. Romney also promises to stop regulatory increases by capping that spending at zero. Business owners struggling under a heavy load of governmental compliance may find this appealing. Lastly, Romney is a believer in state’s rights and if elected, will give individual states the power to develop healthcare solutions.

A Manta survey in August 2012 among small business entrepreneurs revealed a definite swing toward the Romney campaign. Only 26% of survey respondents claimed they would re-elect President Obama, and 61% said they would definitely cast their vote for Romney. President Obama, in spite of the changes he has offered for entrepreneurs, is dropping in popularity among these voters. A prior Manta poll of the same group of voters in May 2012 showed 6% better numbers than in August. The National Federation of Independent Businesses conducts analysis and endorsements of candidates in all elections and offers detailed information for these entrepreneurs.

 

Piggy Bank Getting the Slops

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 1:48pm by Sandy Jones

The economy is shaking currency rates around like loose coins in a jar. With all the noise and fears in conjunction with market fluctuations and international relationships, the currency values are all over the charts. But which moneys are forecasted to do well in the future and which ones appear to be headed downhill for good?

 

Brazil and China

Although minor tensions exist between the two, Brazil has partnered with their biggest trading partner (China) in an agreement to conduct a currency swap. The deal gives their central banks the ability to exchange local currencies worth up to 60 billion reais or 190 billion yuan (equivalent to $30 billion and £19 billion). These funds can be used by the banks to boost bilateral trade, or to build up their reserves for a possible time of crisis.

China has transacted similar deals with Austraila (valued up to $31 billion), Honk Kong, and Japan. Beijing desires an altercated version of the deal, pushing for a settlement in yuan instead of US Dollars in an effort to reduce their dependency on the US dollar. This would actually benefit China’s attempt to make the yuan a global currency. However, as the BBC news reports, China’s slowing economy may be seen as a warning sign by some. According to Brazil’s Finance Minister though, China will continue to be their primary source of trading.

 

India

Financial activity in India has changed as well. Recently, the government increased by $5 billion the amount of their bonds that foreign investors can buy. Following the dramatic decline of the rupee’s value against the dollar, India has sought to increase demand for their currency. Given the 21% drop the rupee took against the dollar, the mere 0.2% increase coinciding with the announcement of higher bond availability was disappointing at best.

In the article released by Bloomberg, noted economists were complaining that the measures taken by the government were temporary and short-term. Sonal Varma, (Nomura Holdings Inc. Economist in Mumbai) put it this way: “The underlying issues of more economic reforms and cutting subsidies are still not being addressed. What has the government done to reduce the fiscal deficit and curb the current-account deficit?”

 

Australia

One of the few remaining AAA rated countries, Australia is gaining more attention for its currency value. China is also the biggest trading partner with Australia, yet even though there were worries over the slowed growth of that country, Aussie’s dollar remained steadfast. This drew the spotlight to the land down under and global banks have shown an increase in Australian dollar purchases.

Most recently, Russia’s central bank looked into the possibility of investing in the Aussie currency. They will allocate about $5 billion (equivalent to 1% of their foreign currency reserves) to Australia’s dollar-assets, including government bonds. In addition to the Russian interest, Germany also investigated the Australian monetary assets and has increased their meetings with Australia’s banks in discussing foreign-exchange strategies.

Even though it appears safer than most other currencies, Australia comes in second compared to the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc according to CNBC.com. Although it remains only a small part of the overall global forex reserves, the Aussie is capable of drawing in substantial capital inflows from portfolio and direct investment flow. While their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains relatively low, the economic growth appears quite positive compared to other countries.

 

Canada

Unfortunately, Canada is not doing quite as well as Australia or China, as pointed out by Bloomberg. In fact, the Canadian dollar dropped a total of 1.12% this month, the steepest decline since December. The decline is due in part to the decrease in retail sales – down 0.5%. Jim Flaherty, Canadian Finance Minister, made known his intentions of tightening mortgage terms to help avoid household debt crisis along with the other measures.

8 Sites Every Small Business Owner Should Bookmark

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 2:32pm by Sandy Jones

A small business owner juggles many things a day, such as making sure the business is running smoothly, optimizing an online presence, redesigning a webpage, and making big decisions on the fly. Luckily, there are many invaluable resources out there for small businesses, which will guide you through anything from getting your business idea off the ground, to finding ways advertise for free, to designing a corporate website. Here are some websites that are great bookmarks for every small business owner, entrepreneur, or business professional.

  1. Entrepreneur.com

    Celebrating entrepreneurs since 1973, this online magazine is a great resource to consult to help build and grow your business. You’ll find topics on innovative business practices, tips on new tools and business technologies to optimize business procedures, and answers to any legal or financial questions. The site caters to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are trying to get their businesses to a new level. It’s a resource worth bookmarking when you need inspiration, how-to, or just want to read about creative business ideas.

  2. Smallbiztrends.com

    An award-winning online publication for small business owners, this resource provides business information, tips, and advice while also keeping you up-to-date on the latest trends and news for your business. With more than 200 freelance writers and guest experts, you’ll surely learn new ways to improve your business. Reaching four million readers annually, the site is quoted regularly in media and is a well-known entrepreneurship platform for discussion and curating new business ideas.

  3. StartupNation.com

    A free service founded by leading entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, this site is a leading online resource dedicated to helping small businesses grow and network. With expert blogs, member-to-member networking, helpful forums, and step-by-step advice, it seeks to be a comprehensive source for entrepreneurial success.

  4. Inc.com

    In 2012, Inc. Magazine won an ASME magazine award for General Excellence. It strives to provide everything you need to know to start and grow your business. Covering sales, marketing, technology, management, and financial advice, it pro provocative articles gathered from the web, as well as original content. You’ll find videos, hottest stories from LinkedIn, interviews with leading executives, and even in depth tutorials on writing a business plan and implementing new marketing strategies.

  5. Business.USA.gov

    On October 28, 2011, the President challenged government agencies to go beyond their organizational boundaries and help America’s business community in a new way: providing a "no wrong door" medium where small businesses and exporters could quickly connect to services and information relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located, anywhere in the world. Federal agencies added their resources onto BusinessUSA, consolidating information onto the site, which helps reduce confusion and simplifies the format. Put in simple terms, the website is a collection of inputs from federal agencies that are committed to helping business owners succeed. Though it is still in its beta format, in the coming weeks, it would be an invaluable resource for anyone looking for reliable business-related information.

  6. BusinessWeek

    News, data charts, advice, analytics, 24-hour support, and around the clock updates are all provided by BusinessWeek. The publication was awarded The Arts & Business Innovation Award and has nearly 310,000 professional service subscriptions. With a radio broadcast, in depth articles, stock market analysis, and even a live television channel, the company behind BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, is a great source for any business professional. You’ll find stories on politics and policy, global economic trends, and a special section dedicated to small businesses. Slideshows, multi-media channels, charts, and photo essays also help condense vast amounts of information into a better visual interpretation.

  7. Forbes

    One of the best business news sources in the world, the magazine and online publication is available in many countries, providing not only small businesses but large corporation business executives with real-time reporting, unbiased commentary, expert analysis, and investing advice.

  8. Fortune

    An affiliated publication of CNN Money, Fortune is the online home that serves as CNN’s exclusive business site. It covers personal finance, retirement advice, small business articles, and analysis of today’s most current markets and technologies. It also provides helpful market data alerts, widgets, calculators, and videos to help you grow your business in all aspects.

 

Couch Potatoes Wanted

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 2:36pm by Sandy Jones

What is your favorite part of your job? The fact that you have an awesome coffee machine? What about the fact that you only have to work three days a week? There can be many benefits of your job depending on where you work. As we struggle to bring down our national unemployment rates, those with jobs often find themselves feeling lucky that they just have a job. Still, there can be pains in having a job. Do you have to commute over an hour both ways each day? Wouldn’t it be nice if some jobs would allow you the option of working from home? Well couch potatoes unite; there are now more options for you to work in the comfort of your fuzzy pajamas.

The Love for Couch Potatoes

Who wouldn’t love to work at home and still get paid? With this concept you could carry a full time job and still have more time to spend with the family. If you have to commute, you would save money on the travel. You could set your own hours and be within the comforts of your own home. Long gone are the days when working from home were just from self-employed workers. Many corporations and businesses are allowing their employees the option to work from home. This privilege can be on occasion or even every day. By working from home you are still contributing to a business without having to be present all of the time.

 

The Advantages of Staying in Your Pajamas

So now that you are hooked on the idea of working from home, it is time to sweeten the deal. There are many advantages for you and your employer if you are working from home.

  • Advantages for the Company: Obviously if you work for a company, they care about their cost and bottom line. So though it may seem like they are doing you a great favor by allowing you to work from home, you can bet there is a reason that benefits them as well. One of the main reasons is that it cuts down on needed office space. If you have a huge company and half of them work from home, then you really only need room for those that are physically in the building. Another great reason that employers are willing to keep you at home is that their attendance and retention rates will be higher. You would have to be really sick to not be able to at least curl up in bed and work. You will also have higher desire to stay with the company longer.
  • Advantages for You: So what is in it for you? Well for one you will save money. Who doesn’t love that? You will not have to commute, you won’t have to pay for as much child care, and you will even save on food because you will be able to eat at home more. Not to mention you will have more time to hang out with your family, as opposed to sitting in traffic.

 

The Disadvantages of Channel Surfing

As you have learned, every good thing has the potential to have something negative attached to it. It is unfortunate fact in life and even laying on the couch all day can have a downside.

  • Disadvantages for the Company: One of the biggest risks a company will take in allowing you to work from home is the potential that you will slack on your work. Who seriously wants to work when their favorite show is on? Employees will also lack the human interaction that they could have with fellow employees. In the digital age we communicate mainly through text and email, but how many times have you misread the tone of something. There could be unnecessary conflict between employees that can only be solved by social interaction.
  • Disadvantages for You: Still not really seeing the possibility of there being disadvantages for you personally? Well there are many that can occur. For one, there is the possibility of your personal life affecting your work. When you are at home all the time, you will be plugged in more to your responsibilities at home and your work could begin to suffer. Another issue is that your health could suffer. If you don’t make time to take care of your health and your body, then you will begin to stay in the house more and more and find it hard to leave.
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