Small Business Beat: City provides bridge over financing obstacles

Gulia Ismalovia (right), and husband Robert Adams participated in the City of Chicago's Small Business Solution Station program, which provided tools to help get a loan for Furtastik, a new dog-grooming and day-care business in Lincoln Park. Photo courtesy of the City of Chicago.

By Terri Colby

Financing is always a hurdle when it comes to turning your bright idea into a small business. But don t let the credit crunch put a damper on your dreams without examining all the options.

Chicagoan Gulia Ismailova got some help with financing and other start-up issues from the Small Business Solution Station, a city of Chicago program that helps entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running and current owners stay in business.

In July, thanks to a micro-loan program that she learned about from the city, Ismailova opened Furtastik, a dog-grooming and day-care business at 2750 N. Ashland Ave.

“If it were not for the Solution Station, we may not have known about ACCION Chicago and the types of smaller loans they have available for businesses that are just starting out, said Ismailova. We also learned so much by attending the free business workshops offered by the city.

Ismailova used the loan to purchase equipment for her business. And she also took advantage of the city business classes.

The Solution Station, located at City Hall inside the Business Assistance Center, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and offers free one-on-one business counseling. The organization offers help with business plans, legal advice and access to small=business micro loans and other financial advice and programs.

The Business Assistance Center also offers weekly free classes on topics such as marketing, employment law and doing business with the city. Information on all Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection programs is available online at

Tax-related paperwork to grow

The IRS national taxpayer advocate says a provision in the new health-care-reform law could increase tax recordkeeping requirements and costs of millions of small businesses, charities and self-employed workers, according to USA Today.

Beginning in 2012, small businesses and others will be required to provide Form 1099s to anyone from whom they had purchased more than $600 in goods during the year. That would mean sending a Form 1099 to the IRS and the store from which you purchased a $700 computer, for example.

Current law requires 1099s for services, such as payments to independent contractors, but not for goods.

The provision is aimed at providing the IRS with more information about income and deductions reported by small businesses. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the new requirement will raise $17 billion in tax revenue in 10 years, money that will be used to offset some of the costs of health-care reform.

IRS taxpayer advocate Nina Olsen told the newspaper recently that the requirement could force small-business owners and others to hire additional accounting services and buy new software. But a movement is afoot to exempt some small-business purchases made with credit or debit cards from the new requirement.

College tackles owners roadblocks

Sometimes, a bit of brainstorming and a fresh approach are just what it takes to work through a thorny business problem. Business owners can get just that from the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

UIC is offering consulting services to Illinois small businesses with at least three full-time employees that have been generating revenue for at least two consecutive years.

Teams of students from the College of Business Administration, overseen by professors, are matched with companies and typically spend 10 to12 weeks as consultants, researching the problem and proposing solutions. Past consulting projects have dealt with everything from marketing and strategic analysis to e-commerce.

“We tap into the creativity and fresh ideas of students to create tailored solutions that cost dramatically less than professional consulting services,” said Rod Shrader, faculty director of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, which houses the development center.

Contact 312-996-4057 or for more information about the project. There is an administrative fee if selected to participate.