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Week in Small Business part - 63

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1099 Repeal? Not So Fast

Don’t recycle that stack of 1099 forms you’ve been hoarding just yet. The recent proposal to eliminate the 1099 rule, which will require you to report virtually all payments to vendors that exceed $600 beginning in 2012, swung and missed from both sides of the plate this week. U. S. Senators Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, and Mike Johanns, a Republican from Nebraska, each introduced measures to get rid of the rule. Neither garnered the votes needed to pass. The apparent roadblock? That small matter of $19 billion in lost revenue and what to do about it.

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Week in Small Business – 62

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Government Considering Expanded ADA Rules

A story that has yet to make major headlines, but with potentially significant impact on businesses: The federal government has begun considering new rules for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the Associated Press reports could result in wider requirements for websites and other technologies, with compliance costs possibly reaching hundreds of millions of dollars. New rules could be in place as soon as 2012.

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Week in Small Business -61 part

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Black-Owned Businesses Tripled U. S. Growth Rate

The U. S. Census Bureau released data this week showing that the number of black-owned businesses operated in the country surged at a rate of 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million – more than three times the national growth rate. During the same period, receipts generated by black-owned businesses grew by 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion. The recent statistics were published in the agency-s Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Businesses: 2007. The report is compiled every five years.

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Week in Small Business part -60

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Mind Your Twitter-quette, People

If your business is on Twitter — or any other site, for that matter — fashion mogul Kenneth Cole provided a free lesson in what not to do online, unless you enjoy being the object of public humiliation and loathing. Cole posted a tweet this week tying recent events in Egypt to the launch of his spring line. The message was removed, but BNET blogger Lydia Dishman offers a good recap of the tweet and its fallout. Cole later apologized on the company-s Facebook page. Based on some of the immediate responses, his mea culpa may fall short.

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Week in Small Business part - 59

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How Home Prices Hurt Small Business Loans

You don’t need me to tell you the reasons for decreased small business lending in recent years — tight credit, scarce demand, etc. — you’ve heard them all before, right? But what about your house? The general decline in property values of late has had a much greater impact on small businesses than previously realized, according a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

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The Year in Small Business - 2010

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In this special year-end recap, we take a look back at the top stories and trends that affected small business in 2010. We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.

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Week in Small Business part - 58

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It’s Small Business Saturday

Today is the inaugural Small Business Saturday, the American Express-sponsored initiative to encourage shoppers to buy local. We’ll have to wait a bit to gauge the real-world impact, but the online response — including more than 1,000,000 “likes” on the campaign’s Facebook page — has certainly been positive. Here’s to happy returns for participating businesses.

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Week in Small Business part - 57

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Is -Huge- the New -Small?-

The federal government may need to spring for a new dictionary. A recent report finds that 72 of the 100 largest federal contracts awarded to -small- businesses in 2011 went to firms that exceeded the SBA-s definition of the term. Another four companies were listed as -anomalies.- Altogether, those 76 firms earned $16.4 billion in small-business contracts. The report, conducted by the American Small Business League, includes some mammoth names that received federal contracts earmarked for small businesses last year: Bank of America, General Electric, Apple, Microsoft, and AT&T, headline a long list of other -small- companies.

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Week in Small Business part -56

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Payroll Tax Cut Extended

Your employees — and consumers in general — will continue to see a little extra green in their checks at least through the end of 2012. Congress on Friday voted to extend the current payroll tax break — as well as unemployment benefits for millions still out of work — through the end of the year. The White House this week also touted healthcare tax credits for small businesses as part of President Obama’s 2013 budget, saying the proposal would expand the existing credit to benefit nearly 500,000 small businesses. Among other changes, businesses with up to 50 employees — double the current 25-employee cutoff — would qualify for the credit.

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Week in Small Business part - 55

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Gas Prices Causing Chronic Pain at Pump

Any business that budgets for fuel bears a big burden these days. Higher gas prices aren’t new, but with the national average at nearly $3.50 a gallon — and approaching $4 in some parts of the country — business owners are understandably anxious. Some, on the other hand, are just plain angry. Gas prices gouging your bottom line? Check out The Frugal Entrepreneur’s seven tips for keeping costs in check.

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Week in Small Business part - 53

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Super Bowl 101 for Small Business Owners

Unless you run your business from under a rock, you’ve likely heard that this Sunday marks Super Bowl XLVI. Odds are you’re not one of the advertisers shelling out $3.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime, but Fox Business says small companies can still learn from the media craze. For one, know whether and how your marketing spending — no matter the amount — will produce a return on the investment. Related: Can the boss get in hot water for throwing a few bucks into the office pool?

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Week in Small Business part - 52

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Small Businesses Mixed on State of the Union

President Obama this week delivered the 2012 State of the Union, and small businesses earned some notable mentions. “Most new jobs are created in startups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed,” Obama said. Still, reports indicated mixed reviews from the small-business community. Reuters rounded up some of the responses that appeared in local and national media. Among them: VentureBeat’s take on Obama’s emphasis on innovation and helping the entrepreneur who “aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”

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Week in Small Business part - 51

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Could Obama Proposal Hurt Small Biz?

President Obama’s plan to roll up the Small Business Administration and five other federal agencies into a single, streamlined unit is being touted as a potential boon for small businesses. But USAToday columnist Rhonda Abrams is afraid the change, if it goes through, could do just the opposite. Her underlying fear: Could a realigned SBA spend too much of its time and resources helping bigger businesses, leaving the self-employed and genuine small businesses out in the cold?

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Week in Small Business part - 50

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Resolved for 2012: Making More Money

Optimism is an abstraction. Cash, on the other hand, is not. So while less than half of small businesses included in a recent TD Bank survey are positive about the U. S. economy, there-s a more important stat to be understood: 74 percent believe they-ll meet or exceed their revenue projections for the first quarter of the year. It should be noted that the respondents were all in TD Bank-s market, which spans the eastern seaboard. What say you, rest of America? Will 2012 ring in more revenue?

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Week in Small Business part - 49

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Amazon Price Check, Aisle Four!

Want to use your smartphone to scan an item on a store shelf to find out if you can buy it cheaper on Amazon. com? There-s indeed an app for that, and it-s raising the hackles of small business owners and at least one U. S. Senator. The Amazon Price Check App for iPhone and Android devices enables shoppers to scan a product in a physical store and compare prices with Amazon. com, further fueling heated debate over the company-s practices. (A one-day discount encouraging shoppers to use the app provided a particularly strong splash of gas on the fire.) An Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times that the app wasn-t intended to hurt small businesses, but to be used at Amazon-s big-box retail competitors.

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Week in Small Business part - 47

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-Small Business- Takes Payroll Tax Spotlight

Small business — the phrase, rather than an actual small business — is (again) playing the part of the rope in a political tug-of-war, with Congress wrangling over proposals to extend the current payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. A number of op-ed pieces note one glaring problem with the debate: The many ways -small business- can be defined to suit a particular viewpoint or agenda. The Christian Science Monitor says those muddy classifications may render a potential small business exemption more trouble than it-s worth.

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Week in Small Business part - 46

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Will Sales Taxes Strike Down Small Online Businesses?

Amazon. com-s potential impact on local businesses isn-t new news. But usually you hear about how Amazon-s pricing — and its historical practice of not collecting sales taxes on purchases — undercuts much smaller competitors. Yet, while a Senate proposal on internet taxation might be welcomed as good news by some local retailers, other business owners are gnawing their fingernails. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at why small, internet-only retailers are worried about how the potential legislation could hurt them.

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Week in Small Business part - 45

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Black Friday: Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The early reports on the annual consumer craze known as Black Friday indicate, well, craziness. Violence plagued a number of Walmart stores, including a Los Angeles location where a woman used pepper spray to call dibs on several -door-buster- deals. Looking beyond bad behavior, the recent trend toward midnight (or even Thanksgiving night) Black Friday store openings appears to be working — and sticking around for future years as a result. Meanwhile, today marks the second annual Small Business Saturday — promoting local, independent businesses — with online retail-s Cyber Monday to follow. Let us know how your business fares in the comments.

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Week in Small Business part 44

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Will Crowdfunding Appeal to the Masses?

As Congress considers lifting certain Securities Exchange Commission prohibitions on how small businesses raise capital, The Wall Street Journal takes a look at crowdfunding and its potential as a legitimate source of financing. Some crowdfunding sites aren-t necessarily waiting for government approval — creating potentially unsafe ground for small businesses and lenders. Likewise, while the rule changes might be welcomed by businesses — especially those that have had trouble securing a bank loan or other traditional financing — experts question whether they could lead to a rash of uninformed individual investors making risky bets.

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Week in Small Business part - 43

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Small Banks Heart Small Businesses

Looking for a loan? Look for a small bank, says a new analysis of FDIC data conducted by Multifunding. The lending adviser calculated the ratio of small business loans to total deposits as its key benchmark and has been publishing the numbers by region on its website. In New Jersey, for example, Heritage Bank in Randolph doles out some $77.8 million to small businesses against more than $130 million in deposits — a ratio of nearly 60 percent. (You can view all of the Garden State data in a Google Doc.) Considering working with a smaller lender? Check out the Intuit Small Business Blog-s inside look at a community bank.

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Week in Small Business part - 42

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Is Occupy Wall Street Hurting Small Businesses?

The Occupy Wall Street protests might take aim at large banks and corporate interests, but they-re apparently rubbing some small businesses the wrong way, too. The Christian Science Monitor reports that in Oakland, retailers near the downtown Occupy encampment are experiencing losses of as much as half their regular sales. Three businesses there, meanwhile, have backed out of plans to lease new commercial space in the downtown area — at a cost of 350 projected new jobs.

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Week in Small Business part - 41

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Small Business Saturday, Redux

Mark your calendar: American Express and partners are bringing back Small Business Saturday this November 26, the day following -Black Friday,- which has long signaled the official start of the holiday shopping season. The event, first held last year, encourages consumers to shop local, independent businesses instead of big-box retailers. Social media is again a big part of the program: Facebook will give small businesses $100 in free advertising on the site, and Google will offer a tool to create simple YouTube * - s. Consumers get some incentive to shop, too: American Express cardholders can receive a $25 statement credit, and this year FedEx will distribute $1 million in gift cards to be used exclusively at participating small businesses.

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Week in Small Business part - 40

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I-ll Have a Latte, a Scone, and a Loan

Starbucks is getting into the small business lending game — sort of. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera profiles the efforts of Starbucks uber-barista-slash-CEO Howard Schultz to help small businesses acquire necessary financing through the Community Development Financial Instutitions Fund. The coffee giant will kick-start things with a $5 million contribution, and give customers the chance to make smaller contributions when paying up for their caffeine fix. (Tip of the cap to Bloomberg Businessweek-s The New Entrepreneur blog for the link.)

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Week in Small Business part - 39

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NBA Lockout Could Hurt Small Businesses

At the start of last summer, a labor standoff between NFL owners and players threatened the 2011 football season — and to sack sales at a variety of small businesses that profit from the sport. The sides ultimately agreed to a deal and the seasons started on time. Now, the NBA is in the midst of its own lockout, with no end in sight. The league has already canceled the first two weeks of the season and it appears likely more games are on the chopping block. The Wall Street Journal examines how the protracted fight over a $4 billion annual revenue split is impacting the bottom lines of retail stores, parking lots, bars and restaurants, and other smaller businesses that depend on basketball-related sales.

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Week in Small Business - 38 part

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California Amazon Associates: You-re Re-Hired

Amazon. com sent an email to its former affiliate marketers in California this week announcing that they-re welcome back on the payroll. You can now re-enroll in the Amazon Associates Program, though the company notes in its FAQ that traffic referred during the shutdown will not count toward earnings. While the program-s resurrection might be good news for California small businesses that rely on affiliate revenue from their websites, similar taxation battles loom elsewhere in the country. Amazon cut ties with its California-based affiliates in June, but the company reached an agreement with the state last month that delays a new sales tax law but ensures the online retail giant will comply once the change takes effect. Check out the Intuit Small Business Blog-s guide to protecting your affiliate revenue against future changes.

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Week in Small Business - 37 part

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They Say Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

It can be hard on your business, too. Reuters columnist Deborah L. Cohen takes look at the potentially devastating effects a divorce can have on a small business. While state laws, business structure, and a host of other factors are in play, one relatively recent legal development — called -no-fault divorce- — can help minimize the risk of damage to a business during a marital split. And, of course, there-s no rule that says you can-t run a business with your ex.

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Week in Small Business part - 36

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Help Not Wanted: Don-t Inquire Within

Syndicated writer Dana Milbank calls attention to an underlying flaw in the political rhetoric around small businesses and their role in economic growth. Milbank is, in the eyes of the government, a small business — but like many other self-employed people, he-s a company of one with no plans to hire anytime soon. -Like the overwhelming majority of small businesses, I am a one-man operation,- Milman writes. -And, like most small businesses, I would not hire anybody even if the government dropped my tax rate to zero.-

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Week in Small Business part - 35

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Facebook Bets Big on Small Businesses

Facebook will soon serve up $50 in free advertising to 200,000 small businesses — essentially a $10 million bet — as it ups the stakes with Google and other competitors. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a former Google exec, tells USA Today: -I think every small business should be using Facebook. We-re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their business.- The upshot: While Google still dominates traditional internet search traffic, you do have options when it comes to online advertising. Expect Facebook, Google, Microsoft-s Bing-Yahoo platform, and other sites to sweeten their pitches as they duke it out for your dollars.

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Week in Small Business part - 34

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What Obama-s Jobs Plan Could Mean for Small Businesses

President Obama gave a much-anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, in which he outlined a $447 billion plan to create jobs and kick-start a flagging American economy. It has a long way to go to become law, but included some key provisions for small businesses: the plan would slash your payroll tax contributions in half next year, from the current 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent. Your employees would see the same break — as would many other workers, theoretically putting more disposable income in consumer wallets. And small businesses would also stand to get certain tax credits for hiring new staff or giving current employees a raise. Check out CNNMoney-s breakdown of what-s in the President-s proposal.

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Week in Small Business part -33

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The Death of the Debit Card?

Small businesses scored a victory a while back when the Federal Reserve limited the transaction fees banks charge each time one of your customers swipes their plastic. It might be short-lived. Banks will test monthly account fees for consumers who use their debit card to pay for stuff. The New York Times notes that Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U. S. bank, will trial a $3-per-month debit card fee in five states beginning in October. A wider rollout could ultimately cause more shoppers to use credit cards, which incur higher fees for the merchants that accept them, nullifying the theoretical savings from the Fed-s swipe fee cap. Speaking as both a consumer and a business: I ain-t paying a monthly fee to spend money. I-ll use cash or credit instead.

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Week in Small Business part - 32

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How Important is User-Generated Content?

Very, says Mashable contributor Cathy Halligan: Read on for her analysis of how website content created by your customers and other visitors is changing the search engine optimization (SEO) game. That could become even more true: Google this week began rolling out two important enhancements to its +1 button for websites. Both enable users to share content from your site directly with their Google+ network.

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Week in Small Business part -31

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Obama: Recovery Starts with Small Business

As the 2012 election machine begins grinding its gears in earnest, President Obama renewed his emphasis on the role of small businesses in the economy-s recovery. -It’s going to start on the ranchlands and farms of the Midwest, in the workshops of basement inventors, in the storefronts of small business owners,- Obama said, according to a transcript of his remarks. Inc. com notes that the U. S. Small Business Administration will double its funding for rural businesses over the next five years.

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Week in Small Business part -30

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Business Owners Ride the Stock Market Rollercoaster

At the Friday close of the U. S. markets, the carnage was, well, not all that carnage-like: the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1.5 percent of its value this week and the NASDAQ another percentage point. Those are significant losses, for sure, but not too bad considering the 500-plus-point daily swings that monopolized the financial news headlines. CNNMoney takes a look at how Wall Street volatility affects Main Street businesses.

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Week in Small Business part - 29

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Your Facebook Fans Are Far-Flung

A new study suggests that just 15 percent of your Facebook fans actually live in your surrounding area. That might be fine for online or national companies, but should raise an eyebrow for purely local businesses like retail shops. So what the heck are all those Likes worth? Sometimes, as with this Florida OB-GYN, Facebook isn-t a strict matter of dollars and cents. Here are two other ways beyond marketing to get value out of social media. How do you measure your social presence?

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Week in Small Business part - 28

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Businesses Cash in on bin Laden — Sometimes at a Cost

The news this week was President Obama-s Sunday night address announcing the death of Osama bin Laden. As tends to happen during global media frenzies, Reuters reported that some businesses rushed to capitalize on the news. While that can produce a short-term windfall — one t-shirt vendor expected its daily sales to double — it can also sully a business- image, as one Chicago bar learned. The watering hole-s PR firm had to issue an apology for a marketing email promoting bin Laden-themed cocktail names that generated complaints.

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Week in Small Business part -27

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Royal Wedding Bells Toll for Small Businesses

You can run, but you can-t hide from the the Royal Wedding. Business Insider profiles 10 small businesses that earned a slice of the $34 million event. (Perhaps -industry- would be a better word than -event.-) Speaking of slices: Each wedge of the two wedding cakes — made by a small company — was worth $134. Meanwhile, USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams — who notes -I figured the only way to get anyone-s attention this week is to put -royal- and -wedding- in a headline- — takes a broader look at the $70 billion-plus U. S. wedding market and how smaller businesses can cash in.

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Week in Small Business part - 26

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Startup America Lines Up Big Backing for Entrepreneurs

Startup America, the White House-sponsored program to provide funding and other support to entrepreneurs, announced more than $400 million in commitments this week from a variety of partners including Google, Microsoft, HP, and Intuit. Facebook hosted a Startup America roundtable this week on the heels of President Obama-s broader Town Hall meeting at the social network-s headquarters. Read the Intuit Small Business Blog-s recap of the event.

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Week in Small Business part - 25

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Government Set to Shut Down

In spite of burning the midnight oil in hopes of striking a budget deal, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over the federal budget. That means as I write this, the U. S. government is hours away from shutdown, affecting a wide range of federal workers, programs, and services. What does that mean for your business? Get Intuit Small Business Blog-s take. (Update: False alarm!)