Support Small Biz During National Nutrition Month

The month of March has been designated as National Nutrition Month, which coincides with Spring and new seasonal produce. Many small business owners have a farmers' market stand and need the support of their community for success - just one reason to start thinking of you and your family's health and visit a farmers' market today.  Some other reasons include:

Find Inspiration
Find the freshest vegetables and fruits of the season all laid out before your eyes.  Farmers’ markets present all of the freshest produce of the season and chances are, new fruits and veggies that you may not have even heard of before.  Get inspired to try new flavors and recipes.

Improve Your Diet
Studies prove that eating a diet largely consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes helps to keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check.  Bring the kids too to help inspire healthy eating habits early on.

Cook for Health
When you shop at a farmers’ market, you want to cook the fresh foods that you purchased.  By cooking your own food, you take control of exactly what you eat, how much salt you use, the portion sizes and the choices of side dishes.  These decisions directly impact your health and gives you a chance to experiment with your cooking to increase the foods you enjoy.

Support Your Community
As mentioned, all small business owners need the support of their community to survive and a farmers' market is no exception. By supporting your local farmers’ markets, you are helping an entire community to thrive.  A farmers’ market is the ultimate small business enterprise with many families working together in the local community to offer a great product that can be used by many.

Find a Farmers' Market Near You
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) keeps an updated directory on Farmers' Market searchable by zip code.

State of the AWA 2017

At our recent AWA Annual Members meeting on December 8th, President Neil Peterson took some time to update members on the association. Following is an excerpt of what he discussed: 

With the year coming to a close, we are proud to look back at our accomplishments as an association. We are pleased to report on our excellent progress and alignment on our first full year following our transition of benefits administrators to Premier Health Solutions. The support of our membership and needs by Premier Health Solutions has provided the stability and continuity necessary for the growth of our association. This year, we had some members hit hard with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. With donations to the American Red Cross and working with partners like Compass and Teladoc, we want to continue to help support those impacted by the recent hurricane and natural disasters as our members work to get their families safe and businesses growing again.  Our focus will continue to be on our members and providing the highest level of satisfaction with their membership and the benefits that AWA provides.

As part of our commitment to providing more choice and flexibility for members, AWA expanded its membership levels and benefits this year by adding new accident benefits, a fixed indemnity plan and a new vision plan. And with our partner Small Business Majority, AWA members have a voice in small business issues facing our country, as well as education resources to start and grow their businesses. By providing timely, relevant webinars and content, Small Business Majority can give you and your small business the differentiators and tools you need to set your business apart from the competition.  With industry-leading benefits and membership levels like these, we hope our members feel an advantage as they work hard to make their businesses successful. 

We are excited about 2018 and the opportunities that lay ahead for associations like ours. With a new executive order signed by President Trump in October focusing on Association Health Plans, we hope to expand the opportunities and benefits available into new directions for our AWA members. We are staying on top of this exciting news as it develops and will share with you what we learn. With resources like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the newsletter and our Blog, we want AWA members to stay informed as we continue to investigate new, competitive benefits and resources that work hard on your behalf. 

As we say goodbye to 2017, we are reminded as an association that we truly are Stronger Together, and we look forward to serving you in the coming year.


Neil Peterson

Preparing Your Small Business for Disaster

As a small business owner, you are fully invested in the success of your endeavor.  But what if the unthinkable happens and a natural disaster strikes? Is your business prepared to stay up and running in the event of a flood or tornado or hurricane?  Planning ahead for disasters can be the difference between going out of business and running a successful one.

Sign up for a Ready Business Workshop and learn about the following ways to prepare:

Program Management

  • Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program
  • Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program


  • Gather information about hazards and assess risks
  • Conduct a business impact analysis
  • Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks

Your preparedness plan should include:

  • Resource management
  • Emergency response
  • Crisis communications
  • Business continuity
  • Information technology
  • Employee assistance
  • Incident management
  • Training

Testing and Exercises

  • Test and evaluate your plan
  • Define different types of exercises
  • Learn how to conduct exercises
  • Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

Program Improvement

  • Identify when the preparedness plan needs to be reviewed or updated
  • Discover methods to evaluate your plan
  • Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements

For more information on building out your program, review and check the Ready Business Pilot Program.

If You Have Recently Been Affected By Disaster

The Small Business Administration offers disaster loan assistance through two loan programs. One helps with the actual physical damages with interest rates not exceeding 4 percent and terms up to 30 years and the other one is for economic impacts, which cover expenses normally covered before the disaster struck.  The loans are up to $2 million.  

Also, be proactive and let your lender know about the situation.  Most of the time they will work with you on deferring payments and waive fees while your business is recovering.  



Practice and Build Out Your Plans

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect.  This is especially the case in preparing for potential disasters. After you have built out a plan, follow up on the details and practice. Here a few more details to review:

Complete and Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) 
By collecting and securing your critical records ahead of time, you will have peace of mind that you have the necessary documents to start the recovery process after an emergency.  Important documents include personal financial, insurance, medical, birth certificates and passports. Make digital copies and save them on the cloud for easy access. Check here for more details on financial preparedness.

Maintain Emergency Savings
Create an emergency savings account that can be used in a crisis.  That rainy day fund might become life-saving when rebuilding after a disaster. Figure out how you can pay your bills if disaster strikes. 

Plan Ahead
Have at least a one-week supply of medications on hand. Read up on your insurance policies. For example, flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect. Read more about flood planning here. Find out if your community is holding any emergency drills so you can participate.

Know How to Access Community Resources
Research where your closest food banks and shelters are in the event of any disaster. Many cities will open up additional shelters if needed in your area, so find out in advance how these will be communicated to those in need.   


Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community

A load of evacuees in the back of a neighbor's monster truck after Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune.

In any disaster, getting outside resources for help can take time due to overwhelming need and demand.  Learn skills you need to help yourself and others until help can arrive.

By taking simple actions immediately, you may be able to save someone's life.  Visit this site developed by FEMA to get trained on how you can help.  Additional options include:

  • Join a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to learn how to safely respond to hazards around us and help organize basic disaster response
  • Learn more about the Citizen Corps - another program aimed to better prepare your community for disaster

Be sure to check on your neighbors. Forty-six percent of individuals expect they will rely on people in their neighborhood following a disaster.  Review here for how you can help your neighbors in times of disaster.

Talk with your Power Company about utility safety. Natural gas leaks can cause fires following disasters. Contact your local gas company to learn how to shut off your meter.

By tapping into the resources of America's PrepareAthon, you can work with your community to increase preparedness and know how to take action when disaster strikes.


Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends

When a natural disaster - hurricane, earthquake, fire, flood, tornado - happens, be sure you know how you will respond. By planning and preparing for a potential disaster ahead, it can help during the time of recovery after a disaster occurs.  This is the first article in a series for National Preparedness Month.

Make an Emergency Plan

Take time to talk with your family over dinner about where you all will meet if a disaster would occur and build out a plan that accounts for all immediate family needs. Download a group texting app so your entire family can keep in touch before, during and after an emergency.

Sign Up for Alerts and Warnings in Your Area

FEMA provides an app with weather alerts for up to 5 locations. Check out this page for more ways to receive alerts and warnings.  Storm radios with battery-powered backup are good for weather alerts, especially when you might be asleep.

Learn Your Evacuation Zone and Have an Evacuation Plan

Make sure your family is all familiar with plan and run through it together.  Practice evacuating in the car with your animals, so they're more comfortable if you need to evacuate in an emergency.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Review the Document and Insure Property guide provided by FEMA. Know what your insurance policy covers before an emergency.  

Plan Financially for the Possibility of Disaster

Flood-proof important documents by putting them in plastic bags to protect against water damage. Consider putting those into a fireproof box to protect against a sudden fire. Keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies. 

Your Summer Health Checklist

Summer is right around the corner. The kids will be out of school and the doctor’s offices slow down – the perfect time to squeeze in your health to-do’s before the next school year starts.

  • Annual Doctor Visit – this is a great time for a well-check visit as germ exposure in the waiting room goes down significantly in the warmer months. Regular health exams and tests help to identify problems before they start.
  • Dentist Check Up – The American Dental Association recommends a visit every six months where your overall oral health will be examined, in addition to cleaning your teeth of plaque and tartar. Your oral health often provides early indicators of other issues like diabetes, oral cancer and vitamin deficiencies.
  • Eye Doctor – It is recommended for children to get regular eye tests every 1 to 2 years to monitor potential changes in vision. Increased use of digital devices has created an unprecedented increase in myopia or nearsightedness.

Don’t forget about basic health safety tips for the summer as well:

  • Hydrate – the higher temps can stress anyone’s body, so be sure to stay ultra-hydrated and take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned places to avoid heat stroke or getting overheated.
  • Pay Attention Around Water – never leave kids unattended and don’t swim too soon after eating.
  • Picnic Safety – summer barbecues can be unpleasant if your mayonnaise or salad with mayonnaise sits out in the sun. Don’t forget about making sure meats are cooked thoroughly as well.
  • Itch Prevention – stay aware when around bees or wasps, as allergic reactions can become deadly. Long sleeves and/or bug spray can help prevent mosquito, tick and chigger bites.
  • Sun Burns – sunscreen in the summer is a must. Add a hat with a brim to help keep your face out of the sun.



Small Business Week 2017

As declared by the President of the United States, April 30-May 6, 2017 is National Small Business Week, a time to recognize the important contributions of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than 50 percent of our country either owns a small business or works for one.

As a small business owner, this week is your time to celebrate your accomplishments and get additional attention for your business.  Create a Shop Small marketing campaign by leveraging free resources, like these listed in a recent Entrepreneur article*:

  • Content Idea Generator by Portent - simply enter a subject like Small Business Marketing to provide you with a series of new, unique angles on that subject to help inspire the creative process
  • Hemingway App - helps you create clean and concise messages to help break through the noise 
  • Pablo by Buffer - create compelling images for your content
  • Open Site Explorer - gives you some basic search engine optimization by reviewing a URL and returning all inbound links with its page and rank authority

Small Business Week is also a great opportunity to reaffirm your message on social media by using #SmallBusinessWeek and other SMB hashtags on various social media platforms.  This is the perfect time to share the story of how your business began to help raise awareness of the importance of small businesses to the American economy.

Be sure to review the Small Business Week website for helpful hints and tips, as well as to take advantage of the informative webinars and training SBA will be providing throughout the week.


Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Conventional wisdom tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We know not to skip breakfast, but why?

In addition to starting your day off right, there are legitimate health reasons to make sure we refuel in the morning.  New guidelines released by U.S. doctors now state that planning meals and snacks in advance and eating breakfast every day may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

By eating more of our daily calories earlier and consuming less at night, this may help to reduce the odds of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiac or blood vessel disease, according to the scientific statement from the American Heart Association.

Before you grab a donut or pastry, studies show that eating a healthy breakfast with whole grains, lean protein, fruits & veggies and low-fat dairy supports heart health and overall weight management. 

Planning ahead for a nutritious breakfast is key. When it is time to rush out the door, have something healthy at the ready with some of these make-ahead recipes.

Fig, Applesauce and Almond Breakfast Loaf

Avo-Tahini Toast

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Egg and Toast Cups

Frozen Breakfast Parfait Pops

Quick Breakfast Burritos

2017 Tax Changes for Small Business Owners


Don’t be caught unaware of the latest changes in tax laws and other rules that might impact your small business for 2017.

Equipment Purchases

Get a bigger tax break in 2017 if you are buying certain types of equipment.  The Section 179 deduction will be $510,000, which is an increase of $10,000 from 2016.  Small businesses can deduct up-front versus depreciating the costs of equipment like computers, vehicles, manufacturing machines and furniture, as well as some types of property.  Not eligible – air conditioning and heating equipment, land and land improvements like paved parking areas.  Learn more about Section 179 deductions and depreciation in IRS Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property –

Stand-alone HRAs Available Again

Stand-alone HRAs are back for small business owners in 2017.  Through the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress recently resurrected HRAs (“qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements”) for employers with fewer than 50 employees.  This is a great way for small business owners who aren’t required to offer health insurance to their employees, but want to help them pay for coverage.  There is a limit of $4,950 for an individual employee or $10,000 for an employee’s family expenses.

New Filing Dates for Some Business Tax Returns

Congress passed two new laws changing the deadlines for many businesses to file important documents and returns with the IRS.

The first law created changes that affect partnerships and companies classified as C corporations:

  • Partnership returns are now due March 15. This is a change from the previous due date of April 15.
  • C Corporation returns are now due in April, changing from the previous date of March 15.

The second law passed in December requires employers to file W-2 forms and some 1099 forms with the government by January 31.  Employers were already required to give those forms to employees by January 31, but now they must also be filed with the government by that date.

Using Your Car for Business

The new mileage for business use of a car is set at 53.5 cents per mile for 2017.  That is a decrease of half a cent from 2016.  According to the Associated Press, “The government takes into consideration the fluctuating costs of operating a car when it sets the standard mileage rate each year. The rate is one of two methods for an owner to account for how much was spent on using a car for business; the second is to deduct the actual expenses for the car. An owner opting for actual expenses must calculate the percentage of miles the car is driven for business reasons, and apply that percentage to expenses like lease payments, fuel, maintenance, repairs and insurance. An owner can also deduct depreciation.”

Important to note: If business owners want to use the standard mileage rate, it must be used in the first year that it is being used for business purposes.  So either the year you acquire the care or the first year that the owner is in business.   Learn more about deducting your car for business in IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses.

Implement the New I-9

Starting January 17, you must use a revised form for verifying the legality of a new employee to work in the U.S.  The new Form I-9 only needs an employee’s last name and some sections have been simplified.

Additional Resources

Be sure to check the Small Business Administration for more information on filing and paying taxes -



USA Today