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ASBA Business News, Microsoft XP, ASBA Pulse, Valley Home Prices

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



Microsoft is pulling the plug on technical support for Windows XP, the operating system that debuted in 2002.  While experts don't expect much fallout from this, they do advise upgrading systems if possible.

Zillow is reporting that 44% of properties for sale in the valley are beyond the reach of median-income households.  The valley has consistently seen double-digit jumps in home prices since 2012, while wages have been static.  Arizona State University's latest housing report has predicted that local home prices won't budge at all this year, giving income levels a chance to make up some ground.

Yahoo and Reuters is reporting that U.S. and European retailers are launching mobile payment platforms that look to compete with Visa and Mastercard.  Designed to streamline the payment process, they also are looking to increase customer loyalty.  In the U.S., Starbucks has been taking mobile for three years and Best Buy, Target and Walmart have announced plans to launch a joint wallet system.

Many companies have tried to use technology to improve small business lending with data, collecting information about merchants from their social media profiles, online accounting software, and reviews to help lenders decide whether to make loans.  Lending Club and Paypal, now betting with the high tech approach, can also bring borrowing costs down for mainstream businesses that don't qualify for bank loans.  ASBA CEO Rick Murrary says that ASBA Pulse, another program that streamlines the loan process, is "an intuitive program for business owners so they can download their finances to the internet."  Consolidating the information into a nice loan package for banks to get, the business owner can then select which banks they'd like to information sent to, often with a 24-48 hour turnaround.

Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

Tags:  real estate  small business  Technology 

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ASBA News, Arizona Jobs Report, 17,000 Jobs added in March 2014

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, April 28, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



Despite adding 17,000 more jobs, Arizona's unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.3% for the month.  "As there's some growth, there's an equal amount of people that just can't find that right opportunity," says Ryan Naylor, founder of Local Work, an Arizona-based hyper-local job board focused on helping local job seekers find local quality jobs , who recently spoke with Arizona Business News.  A lot of Arizona companies and hospitals are hiring 100 or more employees this month, including Chipotle, Verizon Wireless and Aetna Healthcare.

More consumers than ever are consulting online reviews as a first step in deciding what products and services to buy and local businesses to buy from, with a jump to 85% from 70% in the past two years.

Those who didn't sign up for health insurance through the government marketplace by March 31, may have to wait until October to buy a plan, even outside the marketplace.  It's an economic decision for health insurers to stay viable by attracting young, health people who don't require expensive care.  If they're open year-round, they are more likely to attract those who are sick, newly diagnosed and in need of immediate care.  Meritus, an Arizona-based non-profit insurer, says it intends to sell coverage outside of the open enrollment period and will be the only one in Arizona to do so.  For more information on Meritus, go to asba.com

In celebration of small business week, the Association of Small Business Administrators is honoring Arizona entrepreneurs and small business champions for their contributions to the economy in May, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

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Arizona Lags Behind Other States in International Trade, With Byron Schlomach, Goldwater Institute

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Friday, April 25, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014




Arizona lags behind other states in terms of the total amount of international trade, compared to the size of its economy.  However, Arizona is unique in that they actually run a trade surplus, with exporting more than they import internationally, explains Byron Schlomach, the Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting freedom and prosperity.

The biggest trading partners are and will always be other states in the country, says Schlomach, however, Arizona is behind the curve with international trade.  He says part of that might be Arizona's position, as they are relatively inland, which limits their trade.  Arizona is also an important conduit between California and the more populated areas to the east and could do more if they had more free trade with Asian nations, for example, as Schlomach points out.

If California could get better economically, that would help Arizona, believes Schlomach and believes that one of the dangers Arizona is facing right now is the widening of the Panama Canal.  This will allow ships from Asia to bypass the western coast, therefore bypassing Arizona as a place to add value to those inputs they ship to us, Schlomach explains.

The biggest impediment to the renewal of the TPA, or Trade Promotion Authority, is that much of Congress doesn't trust President Obama, believes Schlomach.

Byron Schlomach is an economist and Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute.  He has written an article, "Arizona's Future Depends on International Trade," for the Arizona Daily Star.  Schlomach spoke with The Arizona Business Network for this interviews, sponsored by ASBA. The Arizona Business Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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Social Media Strategies for Small Business, With Janine Popick, CEO of Vertical Response

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Friday, April 25, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



For small businesses, social media and email marketing campaigns can seem like a huge undertaking.  Vertical Response, an online platform that enables businesses to get up and running really fast with email marketing and social media through an easy interface, works well with small businesses because it's free for those with list sizes under 1,000, says CEO Janine Popick.

Popick's advice for small businesses just starting out with social media is to pick just one platform to start and one that is most comfortable and familiar.  She says to think about what you want to say and what people might be interested in, such as pictures, videos, news items and special discounts.  Set aside 15-20 minutes a week and set up a posting schedule and by doing so, it doesn't need to be done daily, which is especially key for small businesses who don't have a lot of time.

Businesses are definitely embracing Facebook because people are used to it on a personal level, so they understand how that might translate from a business perspective, according to Popick.  She adds that businesses that are marketing or advertising to other businesses find that they get a lot of interest in their business when posting on Linked In.

Popick says that you also don't have to be a prolific writer, as people like to read quick, bulleted information.  People don't have time to read and the "quicker you can get your point across, the better," she adds.

With over 20 years of experience leading direct and online marketing programs, Janine Popick founded Vertical Response, based in San Francisco, California, in 2001.  She spoke with The Arizona Business Network, sponsored by ASBA. The Arizona Business Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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Arizona Labor Statistics Shows Stable Unemployment Rate Despite New Jobs Available, With Ryan Naylor, Founder of Local Work

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



Arizona's unemployment numbers stay the same despite many new jobs added.  Ryan Naylor, founder of Local Work, an Arizona-based hyper-local job board focused on helping local job seekers find local quality jobs, says that the labor statistics account for people actively looking for work and claiming unemployment and is not a true reflection on what the true unemployment numbers look like.

Naylor is finding that as there's growth, there's an equal amount of people that just can't find that right opportunity.  He says there are things that need to change in order for people to find work.  Right now, the unemployment rate for teenagers is 29% in Arizona, so there is a big push for them to find experience and jobs, whether that's temporary jobs, internships or volunteer work to show activity in the community.

Construction and healthcare are two of the more promising fields, says Naylor, with general labor getting employed again with the residential homes being built in the state.  In talking with construction firms, he says specialty positions have been difficult to find.

Manufacturing jobs get a lot of people work, especially blue collar workers, so the Apple plant coming to Arizona is a win for the state, as it creates a lot of momentum, says Naylor.

Ryan Naylor is the founder of Local Work.  He spoke with The Arizona Business Network, sponsored by ASBA. The Arizona Business Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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Heart Bleed Bug and What to Do, With Greg Nickolson, Asset Technology

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



The Heart Bleed bug can swipe a server's memory, where sensitive user data is stored, leaving website vendors scrambling to patch their SSL systems.

Greg Nickolson, of Asset Technology, says that the vulnerability is in the open SSL, which is responsible for securing your data over the internet and encrypts it and the open SSL is an open source of code.  The bug allowed people to actually see usernames and passwords, enabling them to steal this information that would normally be protected.  This is a "major deal because open SSL is everywhere," says Nickolson.

"The best thing we can do now is change passwords and hope that everyone patches their SSL systems," notes Nickolson who also says that no one's been using this maliciously.  He says that all of the work needs to happen on the side of the vendors to patch their systems.

If you change your password today and it was compromised in the past, then those credentials wouldn't work, Nickolson says.  If you're on a site that hasn't been patched, then it's true they can gain access to your new password until it is patched.  Heart Bleed is "creating quite the stir in the tech community,"  says Nickolson.

Greg Nickolson, of Asset Technology, spoke with The Arizona Business Network, sponsored by ASBA. The Arizona Business Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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Advantages of Setting Up a Small Business as an S-Corp, With Rob Wood, Tax Attorney, San Francisco, California

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



The old model of how a company is formed has changed over the years with tax law and the evolution of different types of business entities, says Rob Wood, a tax attorney with Wood, LLP in San Francisco, however some fundamental things have stayed the same.

Businesses need to look at how their business is run, how the income will be taxed and what happens on sale, whether it's anticipated or unanticipated.  Wood says to set it up right from the beginning to avoid getting hurt on taxes.

A C-corp and an S-corp are tax terms that refer to articles of a corporation.  They are very simple and are mostly for liability protection, says Wood,  An S-corp, which stands for Sub Chapter S of the Internal Revenue Code, is a one page form, signed in a certain way and the shareholders have to give consent.  The IRS form is a 2553 form.  Wood says the business is taxed as a flow-through, so the corporation doesn't pay tax, except for a few here and there, and is treated like a partnership.  That's the reason it's attractive, says Wood, because it's a corporation that is an entity with liability protection that's taxed like a partnership.  Wood says most small businesses can qualify and should take advantage of S-corps.

For more information on the article written in Forbes magazine about this, click here.  Robert Wood is a tax attorney with Wood, LLP in San Francisco, California and spoke with The Arizona Business Network, sponsored by ASBA. The Arizona Business Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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Arizona Business News Update, With Healthcare Enrollment and Job Growth Figures, ASBA, Phoenix, Arizona

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



If you didn't sign up for healthcare coverage through the marketplace, you can still get coverage outside of the marketplace, but wouldn't be eligible for premium subsidies.  The Obama administration says exceptions will be made for people who have had continuous problems with enrollment websites.

Even before the law passed in 2010, 8 out of 10 Americans had coverage through work or Medicare and Medicaid.  As far as the deadline, there are exceptions, including those eligible for Medicaid can sign up at any time and those eligible for Medicare can sign up anytime after they turn 65.

If you're insured now but lose coverage due to a job loss, for example, you can use the exchange to find a new policy then.  People can also sign up after the enrollment period in special situations like having a baby or moving to a new state.  The law says those not covered this year will be fined $95 or 1% of their income, whichever is higher and this will increase in later years.

Meritus announced they will be selling individual and family off-market plans outside of the enrollment period without a qualifying event needed.

A new study by Lee McPheters, of ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business has identified the top 10 cities for job growth in 2013.  Phoenix's non-agricultural job growth increased 2.7%, making it number 7 in the country and Arizona's overall non-agricultural job growth increased 2.1%, making it number 10 in the country.  The biggest surprise was what drove the job growth in the Phoenix area, which was information systems, of which Phoenix was number one in the country.

Arizona Business News, a featured network of Sequence Media Group, is brought to you by the ASBA, Arizona Small Business Association.

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Phoenix Job Growth Leading Nation

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



Phoenix is a leading city in job growth but still showing growth at about half the pace of what would be normal in a recovery stage, says Lee McPheters, Research Professor at W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Phoenix is 7th in job growth, which is 2.7% greater than the nation as a whole.  A big surprise says McPheters, is the growth in the information and finance sectors. Phoenix ranked first in the rate of growth and the greatest absolute number of new jobs.  McPheters says this is because finance has several sub-components that are important right now, such as insurance and real estate.

McPheters says that one of the greatest factors that's still slowing down the economy in the state is the number of underwater mortgages and slow population growth.

Lee McPheters is a research professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.  For more information on him, click here.  He spoke with ASBA, Arizona Business News, part of Sequence Media Group.

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Fundation's Approach to Small Business Loans, With CEO Sam Graziano

Posted By Gabriel Salcido, Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, March 31, 2014
Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2014



There are alternatives for small businesses to obtain loans outside of traditional bank loans.  When Sam Graziano started looking into entering the small business loan market, he found a "barbell" in terms of products available to them.  At one end, businesses could walk into a bank for a loan through an arduous process but they had to have the credit quality and collateral available that banks felt comfortable lending to them.  On the other end, there were lenders geared toward sub-prime businesses by providing a payment structure and rates for businesses most likely not to pay back.  Graziano found   a huge gap in the market in terms of customers that were maybe not bankable but certainly not sub-prime.

Graziano started Fundation, providing an easy online application and has customers that could walk into a bank but came to Fundation because they want simplicity.  Fundation customers pay a slight premium as opposed to what they'd get at a bank but what they make up in that is time, says Graziano.

We lend on the possibility that someone won’t pay us back.

The difference between Fundation and a bank loan, says Grazaino, is there's a critical difference in the way Fundation conducts their business and that's simplicity in the way it leverages technology.  "We think of the technology as doing the hard work so you don't have to," he says.  They spent a couple of years developing their system at Fundation that, in essence, when a business applies, they supply Fundation with a limited set of information about who they are and what their business is, which allows Fundation to access a series of third party data services and pull that into their system to get  a good source of who you are and what you are, which helps streamline the process.

Fundation is lending on cash flow and stability so businesses and "we lend based on the probability that someone won't pay us back," Graziano says, which is a numbers game.  The ones that do pay back make up for the ones that don't.  A bank model, to contrast, would expect everyone to pay them back, so Fundation recognizes the fact that because they're no collateral available, when loans go bad, it's unlikely they'll get their money back, so it's a different pricing model, Graziano says.

Graziano believes Fundation will evolve having working with many different partners across the country, as they want to help other service providers to deliver their products to small businesses more efficiently.  Also, "we'll get better at delivery capital more efficiently and smarter and that will allow us to serve a broader base of businesses over time," says Graziano.  "We can grow for quite a long period of time where we have meaningful market share before the banks will get scared of us," he adds.

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