The devastation from Superstorm Sandy, shown here on Nov. 14 near Fairfield, Conn., has caused many skeptics to consider the likelihood of climate change.(Photo: Jessica Hill, AP)
Every year brings change for small businesses: new laws and taxes, new challenges, opportunities, and concerns.
coming year presents even more changes and uncertainty because of laws
already passed and the potential fiscal cliff that Congress keeps
So what does 2013 have in store for small businesses and entrepreneurs?
• New ways to raise money.
A few months ago, Congress passed the JOBS Act, an acronym for
Jumpstart Our Business Startups, enabling entrepreneurs to raise up to
$1 million from the general public and not just wealthy, "accredited"
investors, as has been the law.
This is intended to enable companies to use fundraising platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Fundable to launch startups or new products.
Securities and Exchange Commission is charged with coming up with rules
for these platforms by January 2013. Dozens, if not hundreds, of
fundraising platforms are poised to launch. While the SEC is expected to
take a conservative approach to help prevent fraud, expect to be
intrigued and confused.
• A flood of health-insurance ads. In late 2013, expect to be bombarded by health insurance companies because you're going to need health insurance by 2014.
when the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act requiring
everyone to have health insurance takes effect. And if yours is a fairly
good-size business - with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees
such as 100 half-time workers - beginning in 2014, you'll also have to
provide minimal health insurance for your employees or, in many cases,
pay a fine.
Many states will launch their own health-care
exchanges where small businesses and individuals can comparison shop for
more affordable and understandable insurance plans.
• A tax rebate for some small companies.
If you're a small employer with less than 25 employees and average
wages of $50,000 or less in 2013, you're entitled to a tax credit of up
to 35% of what you pay for your employees' health insurance.
This amount goes up to 50% in 2014.
is not a deduction. Credits are worth more because they count as
payments of your taxes, so you could get money back from the government
if you have no tax liability.
• A smaller paycheck.
As part of the economic stimulus package, Social Security taxes were
reduced by 2%, but that benefit disappears on the last day of 2012.
beginning Tuesday, your employees will have a 2% higher bite taken from
their paychecks. Expect some complaining. And this affects
self-employed and business owners as well.
• Payroll confusion.
If your small business has payroll employees, you're going to start the
year befuddled, not knowing how much to withhold from employees'
paychecks for income tax.
The Bush tax cuts, which lowered taxes
on all Americans, expire at the end of 2012. President Barack Obama and
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed to maintain the lower taxes
on virtually all Americans, but a faction of the Republican Party
refuses to raise taxes on those with high incomes.
If no agreement is reached, taxes go up for everyone.
Look to your payroll company for advice on withholding. if you prepare payroll yourself, the American Payroll Association advises using 2012 withholding tables for the time being.
• Floods, hurricanes, drought. No, the end of the world is not scheduled for 2013, but the past few years have proven that climate change is here.
means many small businesses will be hit with weather-related
emergencies and disasters, and you need to be prepared wherever your
company is located. Make sure you have offsite backup of all key files
and data, emergency plans in place, and good insurance - and do that in
• Tweets, posts and hangouts in your future.
In 2012, you may have proudly proclaimed that you don't tweet, wouldn't
be caught dead on Facebook and don't even know what Pinterest is.
2013, social media is an undeniable fact of business life. People
routinely ask their friends, or search on social media for a new
hairdresser, lawyer or electrician.
You have to be visible in social media, taking up more of your time, or hire help.
of what Congress or the weatherman does in the coming year, I hope 2013
brings you and your small business success, health, and joy.