Blessings to You. Peace

Holiday Wishes (2017)

Advertisements

Keep Your Eyes on High

cam00261-snow.gif

Janie was a woman of mystery that every man was intrigued about in Eatonville. The men in the town could not understand why she chose to be married to Mr. Joe Starks, who was almost twice her age. What they came to understand was that Starks was a smart man that came to their town with great ideas and with money. It was his ideas and money that garnered him to be elected the town’s mayor.

On the other hand, the town’s women felt that Starks could have chosen someone better, like someone his own age and they couldn’t understand why he chose someone young like Janie. Despite what the town felt Stark and Janie had that special something, that connection that kept them together “til death do them part.” When Starks died Janie decided to leave Eatonville to embark on another adventure, this is when she met Teacake. Teacake was different than any man that Janie ever knew. Not only was Teacake much younger than her but he provided her with the adventure, excitement, and love like she’s never felt before.  As Janie tells it Teacake made her insides feel like some live bumble bees.

Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neal Hurston is about how your choices can affect the decisions that you make, how passion becomes the center of your world and how watching God during tragic occurrences and taking action can guide you to where you were meant to be.

B.E.S.T. Publishing (A Division of Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
bestpublishing@jabezenterprisegroup.com

Changing Direction

DSC_9343reflection_stamp-1 (resize)
Image Courtesy: Aldwyn Gallery

 

Change can be quite confusing for some people. In the book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. you will be taught the simplistic ways in how change can become either a blessing or a curse.  Met the four characters in the book: Haw, Hem, Scurry, and Sniff.

This book is an easy read but the message is powerful. As you navigate through the pages you may see yourself or determine how closely you resemble some of the characters when it pertains to making a change in your own life. The cheese in the book represents change and the maze represents the pathways that you will encounter whether in your environment, life or a specific situation.

Let’s more closely view each of these characters. Haw, only responds to things when he sees something better coming along otherwise he will just settle for where he is; Hem, resists change because he fears that the change will turn out worse than his original state; Scurry, is about action and Sniff, sees the necessity to make the change early. Can you see yourself yet?

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D. is ideal, if you are looking for a way to successfully transition through the ebbs and flows of life. As an added bonus Johnson provides a set of slogans that you can keep to remind you of the various aspects of change called The Handwriting On The Wall with statements like Anticipate Change, Adapt To Change Quickly and Be Ready to Change Quickly. Enjoy!

B.E.S.T. Publishing (A Division of Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
bestpublishing@jabezenterprisegroup.com

 

 

Being A Business That Benefits

Up until this point, you should have seen a variety of different articles that I have crafted for you from health care and access to capital to taxes. From the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate to the numerous Small Business Policy Forum’s panel of experts these articles were written with you in mind, the business owner. I wanted to provide you with a wealth of information that you can benefit from in running your business.  If you have missed any of the articles, click here:

  1. Tax Reform or Tax Cut
  2. ObamaCare vs the ACA
  3. Back to Basics

In my last article, we will discuss the various aspects of portable benefits (includes healthcare, and retirement). We all know that small businesses have to get creative to acquire and maintain great talent.  In order to do this, they must provide an assortment of benefits but should portable benefits be one of them?

Let’s look at this conversation two ways:

  • Scenario One: As an employer, you are responsible for a lot of people from your employees to their families but what happens when your employee decides to leave the company? Should you be responsible for their portable benefits? If so, for how long? Or should they be responsible for their own?
  • Scenario Two: Your business uses several freelancers and contractors, you depend heavily on their talent and the services that they provide. So what happens when they decide to leave the company? Yes, they are not your employee but should you be responsible for their portable benefits? If so, for how long? Or should they be responsible for their own? Are your answers the same as it would be if they were your employee?

Regardless, of the way that you answer either of these questions, understand that the workforce is shifting. Retirees and millennials are entering the workforce and most are opting to become freelance or contract workers. With this type of workforce, establishing a universal portable benefits system is ideal.

In today’s marketplace contractors and freelancers has a focus on not only getting paid but seeking to assure that their healthcare and retirement benefits are paid, current and available when needed.   Having a universal system would also help those employees that decide to leave a company but later determine that they wish to become an independent contractor or freelance worker instead. A portable benefit system should not only provide options to suit several needs but be affordable.

During the Portable Benefits: Creating An Infrastructure for Entrepreneurs to Thrive panel myself and a few other industry experts discussed what portable benefits could mean to small business owners including freelance and contract workers. In all honesty, small business owners want to see that their employees get the best because they are the ones that are helping to make the company profitable.

According to panelist, John Scott, Retirement Savings Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts, “66% of full-time employees are offered portable benefits, 48% of the employers want to help their employees save for retirement, and 22% of employers lack an internal administrative resource that will allow them to start and maintain a portable benefits system.”

For the sake of argument, let’s focus on retirement. While there are a lot of choices out there, there are several types of plans available, let’s explore a few:

For the sake of healthcare should the U.S. adopt a system that is universal for everyone as I discussed in ObamaCare vs the ACA? One thing that is prohibiting more small business owners from offering portable benefits is costs. From administrative setup and upkeep to contributions, should there be some type of subsidy programs in place to help offset these costs?

If so, should the programs be subsidized by the federal government? Or should this be a local or State financial responsibility? “Individuals that wish to do so, should be able to provide their own portable benefits and not be subjected to a specific employer but there must be multiple plans and options available, like a common or shared interest program,” Shilpa Phadke, Senior Director, Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress.

With some support, this will allow the new and emerging workforce the ability to take on the responsibility for their own future and not leave these critical pieces in the hands of others, especially since they are not an employee of the company. As a portable benefits plan is being created it should meet the needs of the freelancer or contract worker with minimum financial disruption during their Golden Years. As previously stated we business owners need to get creative in how we acquire and maintain the talent to run our businesses.

There are several ways that companies are becoming creative in their efforts to obtain the deliverables that they require. Below you will see several examples of which the first two companies offer full portable benefits, the third company offers partial portable benefits and the last offers no portable benefits but provides the revenue that freelancers and contractors can use to fund their portable benefits plan:

  • Company 1: 26-hour work-week for full-time employees but these employees are paid for a 40-hour work-week. This helps to offset the childcare and costs that these employees may encounter otherwise. By implementing this small step, this small business owner has been able to increase their revenue and productivity while creating an asset for their employees.
  • Company 2: One of my clients, offers several company benefits from wholesale catalog discounts; vacation, sick and family leave; and charity contributions matching to other types of personal flexibility. The interesting thing is that the majority of the benefits that this company offers if out of the company’s Profit and Loss (P&L). We all know that normally these costs are what the small business owners use to live off of but instead, this client passes these profits on to their employees.
  • Company 3: Employees may not be provided a full portable benefits package but they are instead offered profit sharing and are co-owners of the company that they work for.
  • Company 4: I work with several freelance and contract Since I am unable to provide them with portable benefits, I try to look for ways to provide them a long-term Return on Investment (ROI). One option is that I offer them revenue sharing on a project, that has a long-term, steady income flow. In this case, the workers obtain revenue for a number of years, which they can use to invest and fund their portable benefit accounts.

For those small businesses that offer an entrée of portable benefits including family leave should there be tax credits?  It is difficult to determine how portable benefits should roll out for small businesses, freelancers or contract workers but it should exist. Here are some other discussions about portable benefits that may interest you:

If you have any concerns about how portable benefits will affect you consider the following:

  • Contact your local representative or your State’s Senator
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
  • Consider an Op-Ed (Opinion-Editorial)

Once again I thank you for your support and the opportunity to serve you.  Subscribe to The JEGroupZone to stay up to date on articles and information about initiatives, programs, and issues that will affect you and your small business. As always, if you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to cover or talk about on your behalf in the near future please feel free to contact me at Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup).

“Don’t just stand by, be a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
https://jabezenterprisegroup.com/

 

Back to Basics For Business Growth

Photo Courtesy: Small Business Majority

Being a business owner is not for the weak at heart. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to juggle all of the balls and to keep them afloat in the air. Business owners have a lot of pressure on them because they are responsible for a lot of people from the community and their employees or subcontractors to their families.

Despite the fact that small businesses are the catalyst for job creation, economic growth and stimulating the community, accessing capital for their business is still a thorn in the side for many, primarily within the diverse communities. The Access to Capital: The Key to Small Business Growth and Economic Development panelist was candid about the culture of the financial institution practices on lending. With their gut-wrenching advice they were able to provide us the tools and resources that we would need to stay in the game.

As we all know the lending practices today has adversely affected millions of underrepresented and disadvantaged businesses for centuries from home to business ownership. When a small business owner, particularly from the diverse community, applies for a loan there are continual biases and prejudices that the system possess. You can provide every documentation required, have collateral and still can run up against a loan denial.

There is a great deal of discrimination in lending,” David Newvill, Director of Federal Policy, Prosperity Now. One of the business owners that attended the Small Business Policy Forum was transparent about his lending experience. Here is an overview of what he displayed to us:

He has been in business for over 10 years. He needed funding to help take his business to the next level. He provided all of the required documentation, however, he experienced a glitch. The glitch was that according to Sage Stream Reporting, which was used for credit reporting by the financial institution that he was working with, his profile came back not creditworthy. The irony was that he stated that Sage Stream Reporting had the wrong person and that their findings of his creditworthiness were incorrect. These errors that were reported by Sage Stream Reporting is what caused his application to be denied, despite the fact that he tried everything to correct the mistakes that Sage Stream Reporting had made.

As you can see outside of the three big credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax or Experian there are other companies coming online that is tremendously affecting business lending. Everyone in attendance including the panel of experts wanted to know exactly who is Sage Stream Reporting. The irony is that no one knew or had ever hear of this company, including the panelist. Isn’t that interesting?!

Do you know who your lenders use to access information about you? “Only 53% of those that apply for loans actually receive the requested amount,” Joyce Klein, Director of Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning, and Dissemination (FIELD), Aspen Institute. As a small business owner, my question is why only 53%?

There is truly something wrong here. “Be aware of merchant cash advance services,” Joyce Klein. What is she talking about?

Just like Sage Stream Reporting has entered the marketplace so has unregulated sharks pertaining to lending. These sharks are ready to offer you an unsecured loan but at a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR).  In order to obtain access to capital to help grow your business, these lenders require access to your checking account.

The purpose for this access is so that they can debit your account for daily payments and if you decide to pay off the loan early, there is an early prepayment penalty attached. Don’t wait until you need the money for your business growth locate a lender now and get your ducks in a row. If you feel pushed up against a wall you are more than likely to get a loan at any costs.

For the larger institutes that are regulated like your major bank, these financial institutions do not see the value in lending to you. As they see it, the costs to underwrite a loan is the same, whether the dollar amount requested is $2,500, 25,000, $250,000 or $2.5 million dollars. The bottom line is their bottom line!

Manny Hidalgo, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Capital Access indicated that SBA has been fully aware of the biases that minorities are receiving within the banking community so they are creating more programs that are designed to help offset some of the costs and risks that big banks may face in lending to diverse communities. “SBA lenders look at other things outside of your FICO Score. We also have a Lending Match Program that is designed to match lenders with business owners,’ says Manny.

In today’s marketplace business owners should be aware of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights,” Jessica Milano, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy, U.S. Department of Treasury, which is designed to operate using better lending practices. There are six key initiatives that these Rights operate under:

  • The Right to Transparent Pricing and Terms
  • The Right to Non-Abusive Products
  • The Right to Responsible Underwriting
  • The Right to Fair Treatment from Brokers
  • The Right to Inclusive Credit Access
  • The Right to Fair Credit Practices

I have a suggestion, let’s go back to basics. How does that look? How would it work?

Going back to basics is looking at lending institutions with a vested interest in your business success. Take your money out of the major banks and begin looking at partnering with your local, community bank. Another back to basic move would be to look into crowdfunding programs like KIVA. Or borrow from family and friends and if they need an incentive consider revenue sharing or providing them a share in the business.

Lauren Stebbins, Vice President of Small Business Initiatives, Opportunity Finance Network provided several other back to basic resources that can be beneficial to business owners that are seeking the necessary technical assistance and programs to help finance their needs:

Remember, as a small business owner you must continue to make your voice heard and to stay up to date on small business issues by reaching out to these organizations and your Senators now:

Once again I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and for your support.  If you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to talk about on your behalf within the near future please feel free to contact me.

“Don’t just stand by, be a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
www.jabezenterprisegroup.com

 

OBAMACARE VS. THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

20171017_120639

ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) my question for you is, is it the same thing? In today’s political climate, the ACA, also known as, ObamaCare is such a controversial issue. There are people out there that have such a bias against President Obama and his legacy that they want to eradicate him at any cost.

The irony is that when surveyed people stated that they would prefer to keep their Affordable Health Care but did not want to have anything to do with ObamaCare.  The interesting thing is that they did not realize nor understand that it is the same thing. It is such an issue that there are so many articles written around this.

The sad part is that there are so many people out there that are either too ignorant or too prejudice to understand exactly what they are saying. Here are a few of the articles that you may find interesting on the subject:

The bottom line is why can’t we have Universal Healthcare in the U.S. like other Countries? While the healthcare system is not perfect in those Countries healthcare is the least of their concerns. This is the same with the ACA.

There were several presidents that tried to accomplish enacting a healthcare system but it didn’t work until President Obama. In conversations with the Preserving Health Care Benefits for Small Businesses panelists and the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Policy Advisor and Staff we were provided with enough information to help us to understand the issues around the ACA.  The burning question is will the ACA be repealed or replaced?

“The ACA is not a perfect system but at least it is operating in the right direction. It needs a little massaging. The focus needs to be on improving what is working and replacing what isn’t.”  Kevin Lucia, Research Professor and Project Director, Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR), Georgetown University’s Health Policy. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

To start we will begin with the Murray-Alexander Deal. In this deal, the two Senators wanted to get some movement as it pertains to the ACA, so they struck a deal that they believed would be a win-win. The deal reflected on the subsidies that are a major part of the ACA.

These subsidies also are known as Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSR), are the federal reimbursements that healthcare providers receive to supplement the out-of-pocket expenses that those within the underserved communities are unable to afford or pay for.  The CSR issues have been heavily talked about in the news because President Trump is opting to not reimburse the healthcare providers for these costs.  With the Murray-Alexander Deal, it will help to remove “the emperor has no clothes syndrome” because as everything stands now pertaining to the ACA and the lack of getting any type of resolution it has become so embarrassing for both sides of the House.

While some of the Congressional party are willing to move forward in getting a resolution to the plan the issue is at what costs? Hence the Murray-Alexander Deal.  Also, what will the American people have to give up just to get a plan that will not be a detriment to each household or small business owner?

On the table was the skinny repeal, what does this mean? The skinny repeal is a scaled down of the ACA which is estimated that it could be passed with some of the following elements removed:

  • Individual mandate of requiring individuals to purchase insurance
  • Employer mandate for companies with at least 50 employees
  • Other social services programs that affect millions of Americans

As a business owner is it important to know and understand how the ACA will and can impact you and your business. If the ACA is not massaged or improved it can get worse. Let’s explore how the ACA rolls out:

  • Overall health insurance premiums are decreasing, however, there are some people who’s premiums has increased because it offsets those with pre-existing conditions, as well as those that previously did not have healthcare insurance;
  • The focus shouldn’t be on eradicating the legacy that President Obama has created during his terms in office at the expense of the people but instead focus on how to best serve the people;
  • If the plan is totally replaced or repealed instead of parts of it, there could be at least 20 million people that could once again be without healthcare. Is this Making American Great Again?;
  • The healthcare providers are unsure as to the stability of the ACA, particularly the CSR, so they are beginning to attach a 12% surcharge to some of the policies. The surcharge is to help offset their losses, in case the CSR are eradicated under the new plan;
  • Without the government assistance each State would have to pay for their own CSR; and
  • Other States could be affected because patients could cross over into other States for services such as within the Washington Metro Area (D.C., Virginia, and Maryland).

Now let’s consider some suggestions including those of the panel experts and the HELP Team:

  • “Locate a broker that understands all of the aspects of the ACA including the risks,” says Lucia;
  • “For high deductions create standard benefits package vs non-standard packages which allows flexibility. Thoroughly read your policy whether it’s a Bronze, Gold, Silver or Platinum plan to understand what is and isn’t covered,” says Mila Kofman, Executive Director, DC Health Benefits Exchange Authority;
  • Restructure the billing codes for services. It is the billing codes that determine what the costs will be. There are known cases of medical fraud due to billing codes for services which are assisting in taxing our healthcare system;
  • Why are the costs in the U.S. so high? What are other Countries like Australia and France doing pertaining to medical costs that seem to escape our medical system? Let’s look at best practices of other systems throughout the world and implement some of them;
  • Carefully look at the Medicaid Expansion and its effect on each State;
  • Make ACA markets more stable so that insurance companies can price and forecast better;
  • Create more robust outreach to get more millennials insured;
  • Wraparound ABTC services from early childhood, outpatient, and transitional housing to school-based; and
  • Let’s rebrand the ACA and call it for what it is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and not ObamaCare. Once people are fully educated that these two plans are the same then the conversation, acceptance, and support would become different.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment Season. Under the new leadership, the marketing dollars have been tremendously decreased, therefore, the public will not be timely notified when they can either change their provider or enroll in a health care plan. For this year the enrollment timeframe is from November 1 to December 15, 2017.

According to Adam Rochon, Owner, Sequoia Employee Benefits & Insurance Solutions,  “Business owners should get ready for carrier changes in some areas because Blue Anthem is or has pulled out. Some of the healthcare providers’ websites are not fully operable or functioning properly. Also, you may experience shortened operating hours due to staff shortages. “

As a small business owner you must continue to make your voice heard and to stay up to date on small business issues reach out to these organizations and your Senators now:

Please do your part and let your voice be heard. “Show up, speak out, testify if needed before Congress, write articles to your local papers, and get ready to rally behind the causes when needed, “ says Lucia.

We need the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more than ever.

Thank you for this opportunity to serve you and for your support.  If you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to talk about on your behalf within the near future please feel free to contact me.

“Don’t just stand by, be a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
https://jabezenterprisegroup.com/

 

 

IS IT A TAX REFORM OR TAX CUT?

20171017_062222

In today’s climate, it is so difficult to understand what to do and who to trust. The Republicans say this and the Democrats want that but what does it all mean to us as small business owners? I will roll out some of the conversations that are circulating around not only during the discussions with the industry experts that I encountered during my Washington, D.C. trip but what others are saying including the media.

With the information that you will receive from this article, you will be able to make an educated decision as a business owner. To start off the conversation let’s consider what Donald Marron, Economic Policy Initiatives Institute Fellow & Director, Urban Institute stated during the Ensuring Tax Reform Promotes Small Business Success panel discussion, “Is It Spinach or Ice Cream? Ice Cream is the soft sale in what we are hearing and seeing but in actuality, we are receiving and eating spinach. For most of us, spinach represents a food that we dislike, in this case, spinach displays what is truly going on.

So here we go pertaining to the proposed tax policy. The panel that Marron was a part of were full of financial, policy and tax industry experts, that provided us with a wealth of information. So the question really is, is it a tax reform or tax cut? The answers depend upon who you are asking.

Let’s look at a few tax issues that are being proposed and circulating:

  • Doubling the standard deductions
  • Tax credits for child dependent families, as well as, nondependent
  • Reduction of corporate taxes
  • New tax rate for pass-through taxes for small businesses

Here is how it rolls out according to the panelists:

The purpose of taxes is to provide the economic support that the Country needs to fund itself primarily for the well-being of the various social programs that our Country and its people need from transportation, Social Security and health care to education. Mark Mazur, Robert C. Pozen Director,  Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, indicates that while the tax system worked in the 50s and 60s, in its current state it isn’t. Due to the economic shift that we are and have been experiencing for decades, our system needs some massaging.

The last tax reform was allegedly in 1986. According to @RepTomEmmer “Last time we had major tax reform, I was rocking the flannel look most days. Safe to say we need tax reform now: GOP Tax Reform https://fairandsimple.gop/.”

As a part of the changes, the state and local tax deductions will be eliminated but the standard deductions will be doubled. While this may be great for some states the states that will be hardest hit will be California and New York. One of the panelists, CPA Anne Zimmerman, Zimmerman & Co CPAs, Inc. ran one of President Trump’s prior year taxes and indicated that according to the new proposed tax laws if passed, he and the upper echelon will subsequently be paying nothing in taxes and instead will be gaining by a windfall.

While Trump initially thought that he would be able to immediately get his proposed tax bill passed, he is now weighing his options and hopefully, he will begin to see the error of his ways. Any tax bill being proposed should be for the people especially for those that voted for him based upon his promise to Make America Great Again. Is this new tax proposal Spinach or the Ice Cream?

Research, read and digest all of the information that you can to find and determine for yourself if this proposed tax bill will either Make America Great Again or will instead cripple us and take us back to the Stone Ages. Here are some suggestions to consider including those of the panelists:

  • Wage credit – Ryan Abraham, Business & International Senior Tax Counsel, U.S. Senate Finance Committee
  • Lower loopholes for corporations
  • Offer a proposal of solutions
  • Talk about the specific issues while focusing on what is not working and massage what is working
  • Remove our vs their conversations because taxes will affect us all either directly or indirectly when it comes to purchasing power. If people are being taxed too much they will not have the economic capital for purchases. This is what causes a recession/depression to occur.

As a small business owner you must continue to make your voice heard and to stay up to date on small business issues reach out to these organizations and your Senators now:

So is this a tax reform or tax cut? It all depends on who you ask. What are your thoughts?

I thank you and appreciate the opportunity that you have afforded me to represent you once again. I will continue the fight to assure that the voices, needs, and concerns for the small businesses are being heard. If you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to talk about on your behalf within the near future please feel free to contact me.

“Diversity and inclusion are not only for employees, it’s for business owners also.  Become a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor

Blessings and keep on dreaming…..

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
https://jabezenterprisegroup.com/