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Two Minute Tips

Story ideas for covering small businesses

September 15, 2015

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Photo taken from Sebastiaan ter Burg on Flickr

The 28 million small businesses in America employ more than half of the entire workforce, contribute most to the production of new jobs and are responsible for almost half of the nation’s payroll.  Here are some ways you can cover the small businesses in your area.

1. Small business lending

The rate of small businesses borrowing money from banks and other lenders is the highest it has been since 2005. The National Federation of Independent Business shows that only four percent of businesses are not getting the loans they request.

 Interview business owners in your community. Are they feeling more comfortable and optimistic about the economy? Is that encouraging them to borrow?

2. The Hire More Heroes Act of 2015

The Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 may help veterans get jobs in a way that would save businesses money. Currently, companies with 50 or more employees are required to offer health benefits to their workers, which could keep some employers from expanding.

However, veterans who are employed by a company but have health coverage through their veterans association do not count in the company’s 50-employee total. This means small businesses can hire more workers without incurring additional costs.

3. Retirement plans in small companies

According to the Government Accountability Office, only 14 percent of small business owners offer a retirement plan for their employees.

This has led to an increase in startup companies that are looking to offer those small business employees a chance at a retirement plan. The New York Times recently reported on two of these, Honest Dollar and ForUsAll. There may be others in your area.

Talk to employees of local businesses. Ask them how they are planning for retirement–if they get this benefit through their employers and where and if they’ve sourced such a plan for themselves. Look into the emerging companies hoping to offer direct-to-worker benefits in this space.

4. Minimum wage and small business

You’ve probably heard about demonstrations by retail, restaurant, and other workers to raise the minimum wage. If successful, those efforts could also affect small business owners and entrepreneurs. Increased wages could strain already lean businesses with low profit margins.

Recently, our own Adam DeRose wrote this piece on the movement to raise the minimum wage  for retail, restaurant, and hospitality workers. In it, you’ll find story angles that you can localize.

5. New businesses 

According to the SBA, there are 28 million companies in America that are considered to be small businesses, and more than 500,000 new businesses start every month.

The number of nonemployer businesses (businesses that are required to pay taxes but have no other employees) also continues to rise, and currently totals over 23 million.

Find new companies in your area. Talk to them about how they plan to grow.



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