The American Small Business Championship Is Coming

The American Small Business ChampionshipEDIT

Running a small business often requires sacrifice. The American Small Business Championship by Sam’s Club is looking to reward 102 small businesses around the US for the sacrifices they have made. This contest is open for entries until Feb. 6. If you are interested, check out the link below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

The American Small Business Championship, Score

Feb.

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Improve Sales, Increase Employee Retention and More

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Improving sales can be tricky for any business. There are so many different strategies you can use to attract buyers, convert sales, and make the overall process easier for both you and your customers. This week, members of our small business community shared some tips for improving sales, along with some other updates. Read on for the full list in this week’s Small Business Trends community and information news.

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Up to 6 Million Americans Have to Pay Obamacare Tax Penalty

If you weren’t insured last year, you may find yourself among the three to six million Americans paying the Obamacare tax penalty. The penalty is $95, “or 1% of income above a certain threshold (roughly $20,000 for a couple). So you could end up owing the IRS a lot of money,” according to Money.CNN.com. For example, if a married couple earns an income of $100,000, they will owe $797. To calculate how much you could potentially owe, there is a Tax Policy Center ACA penalty calculator to input factors, such as age, income and number of dependents. The calculator then estimates your tax penalty.

Americans who remain uninsured in 2015 will be penalized $325 or 2% of their income. For the first time, Americans preparing their tax returns will have to adhere to Obamacare’s mandate. Most taxpayers, about three-quarters, have health insurance through their jobs or government programs and will only have to check a box on the Form 1040. Money.CNN.com reports that “Another 15 to 30 million people will request and be granted an exemption to the mandate by filing Form 8965.” Those who are not accountable to the new requirement are undocumented immigrants, low-income Americans and those whose insurance premiums were more than 8% of their household income.

Between 4.5 and 7.5 million taxpayers received subsidies for insurance premiums upon signing up for Obamacare. They will use Form 8962 to reconcile their actual 2014 income with the figure they estimated in late 2013 to early 2014 when they applied for a policy. Those who underestimated their income will receive smaller tax refunds or owe the IRS money. H&R Block projects that about 3.4 million taxpayers will have to pay back a portion of their premiums.

In the event that people overestimated their 2014 income, they may cash-in a refund for more than they were expecting.

Vintage Toy Collector Turned Passion into “The Underground Lair”

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The Underground Lair in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is proving that you can turn just about any passion into a successful business with enough planning and hard work.

Collector and business owner Dan Wirth has spent more than forty years gathering and trading memorabilia in everything from Star Wars to Care Bears.

Today his brick and mortar location and Underground Lair website sell everything from comics to toys and collectibles dating back more than half a century.

Wirth began collecting when he was 10 years old.

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Top 10 Cities For African Americans

Atlanta, Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C. are the top three 3 cities where African-Americans are doing the best, economically, reports Forbes. While economic conditions for African-Americans vary widely throughout the country, the magazine looked into America’s 52 largest metropolitan areas to list the cities that present African-Americans with the best opportunities. These metropolitan statistical areas were weighed by three factors — home ownership, entrepreneurship, as measured by the self-employment rate, and median household income—all indicators or middle-class success. Data for those is from 2013.

In addition, Forbes added a fourth category, demographic trends, measuring the change in the African-American population from 2000 to 2013 in these metro areas, to judge how the community is “voting.” Each factor was given equal weight.

With its well-established religious and educational institutions, notably Spelman and Morehouse, which are ranked first and third, respectively, by US News among the nation’s historically black colleges, Atlanta has the strongest infrastructure for African-American advancement in the country, according to Forbes. The region’s strong music and art scene has also made it an epicenter for black culture.

Clear evidence of the Atlanta area’s appeal can be seen in the growth of its African American population, up 50% from 2000 through 2013. This is also well above the of 28% average growth in the African-American population in the nation’s 52 biggest metro areas during the same time.

What’s more, some 46.9% the metro area’s black population own homes as of 2013, well above the 38% major metro average for African-Americans. Their median household income of $41,800, also considerably above the major metro average, while their rate of self-employment, 17.1%, is second only to New Orleans.

According to their survey the South accounts for a remarkable 13 of the top 15 metro areas.Pittsburgh, Pa. (at No.48), and Buffalo, N.Y. (No. 46), are among the 10 cities at the bottom of the list.

Here are the top 10 cities:

No. 1: Atlanta, GA

No. 2: Raleigh, NC

No. 3: Washington, DC

No. 4: Baltimore, MD

No. 4: Charlotte NC

No. 6: Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA

No. 7: Orlando, FL

No. 8: Miami, FL (tied)

No. 8: Richmond, VA (tied)

No. 8: San Antonio, TX (tied)