Category Archives: Small Business

Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program.

PFML_Employer_OverviewWashington is soon to be the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. All workers will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and making ends meet. They can dedicate their time away from work to be the best caretaker they can be. In return employers have access to an inexpensive benefit, save on payroll costs while the worker is on leave, and reduced employee turnover costs.

Workers can begin taking leave in 2020, but next year employers will have some actions to take.

First, employers need to withhold premiums from paychecks starting with the first check in 2019. These premiums are split between employers and workers. Workers foot most of the bill, but employers with 50 or more employees have a portion to pay also. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay premiums but are still responsible for collecting and remitting the workers share.) Premiums are paid to the Employment Security Department by employers quarterly, starting in 2019. Learn more about premiums on the Premiums page.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I win in the gig economy?

The “gig economy” — the market for individuals providing services or working on projects on a freelance on-demand or short-term contract basis — has been a growing trend. While there are no official gig economy statistics available to measure its prominence, we can make some assumptions about its increasing popularity based on other available data. 

According to information reported by the United States Census Bureau, the number of non-employer businesses, the group of individuals most likely to work on gig basis,  was 24,331,403 in 2015. That’s 10% more than the 22,110,628 non-employer businesses in 2010.

And opportunity abounds for independent professionals who take on gig assignments. Many businesses outsource work to independent contractors and freelancers when their staffs are overwhelmed and to avoid the costs of benefits and ongoing payroll that come with hiring new employees.   Continue reading

Personal Property Tax: The forgotten tax for many small businesses?

by Joe Heinrich, Volunteer Business Mentor, Seattle SCORE

Most small business owners are perfectly aware of the Federal, Washington and city taxes they are obliged to pay. However, the one that tends to fall through the cracks is the local Personal Property Tax on businesses by the county in which the business is located. This article explains what personal property is, how to self-report a business’s personal property, how the tax is assessed and how much a business may have to pay in Personal Property Tax.

What is “personal property” of a business?

Taxable Personal Property typically includes items used by a company to conduct business. Examples of personal property which may be assessed include furniture, fixtures, electronic equipment, telephones and machinery. Leasehold improvements and leased equipment are also included as personal property. However, personal property does not include property which is attached to a building or to the land which a business owns as that is considered “real property”.

Exempt personal property includes inventory (i.e., items owned to be resold or used as raw materials to products to be manufactured and sold) and vehicles used on the roadways.  Continue reading

Entrepreneurship is not a solo adventure.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

entrepreneursThe most successful entrepreneurs figure out early on that they are not alone, that they are not infallible and that they need people better than themselves to do certain things.

However, we often have this vision of the entrepreneur as a superman or woman, slaying all the obstacles on the path to greatness all on their own. I’m here to tell you that image is simply not true. If it were, we would only be building companies of one and the term solopreneur would be all the rage.

Entrepreneurs do have good ideas and often strategies for putting their plans into motion. They often have a unique or different vision that others have not imagined yet but what they cannot do is single-handedly make it happen.

I’m reminded of this as I start the new class of Seattle Emerging Leaders at the SBA. These are businesses who have been operating for at least 3 years but at some point, became stuck and could not get past a certain stage of development. As this year’s class introduced themselves to one another, two very similar narratives emerged.

First, they were greatly relieved to be with other entrepreneurs like themselves who felt more or less alone. Realizing that everyone in the class was having the same experience was an eye opener for all of them. Secondly, they realized that part of their struggle was that while working in the business they rarely, if ever, had time to work on it so accountability for that went out the window with the pressing challenges of each day.

Read more on Mary Marshall’s website

Is there an embezzler in your company?

One of the joys of running a small business is how close you and your employees can become. For many entrepreneurs, their staff is more like family. That’s why it can be so painful to think that one of your employees is an embezzler. However, employee fraud is more common than you may think.

In fact, the majority (55 percent) of embezzlement takes place at companies with fewer than 100 employees, according to a study by insurance company Hiscox.

But that’s not all. In addition to being disproportionately affected by embezzlement, small companies also face disproportionately large costs when they are robbed. Consider this: One incident of embezzlement costs small businesses a median of $289,000. Could your business take a hit that big?

Read more here

Is it time to change your business structure?

The process to change a business structure (for example, change from a sole proprietorship to a corporation) is the same as starting a new business.

Use the Business Licensing Wizard to get information and links that will help you do the following:

  1. Create your business structure with the Washington Secretary of State. (Skip this step if you are changing to a sole proprietor or general partnership.)
  2. Submit a new Business License Application to apply for a new Business License. You will be given a new Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number to be used on tax returns and other documents.
  3. Reapply for any applicable specialty, and/or city endorsements (for example, Nursery endorsements).

Note: You will probably need to re-apply for all of the licenses you currently have. For example, if you are a building contractor, you will need to reapply for your contractor’s license with the Department of Labor and Industries.


This information has been borrowed from the Washington State Business Licensing Service website. (link)

Zero cost federal tax deduction — business use of your home.

by Joe Heinrich, Certified SCORE Mentor

Nirvana would be that a small business owner could generate a deduction from her/his business’s taxable income at no cost. Well, that situation is available for many small business owners: the business use of the home deduction. However, not all of small business owners are taking advantage of this deduction due to not knowing about it or fearing that taking the deduction will trigger an IRS audit.

First, the facts. IRS regulations allow a business owner to take a deduction for the business use of the home, provided that the space is used “exclusively and regularly” for business purposes. The space can either be a room, a part of a room, a closet, the basement or garage, or a separate building on the home’s lot.  Continue reading