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Small Business,

Meet Facebook
and Twitter

How Small Businesses


Are Profiting From
Social Media
By Hilary Markow
Page 4

In This Issue:

Going Nuts for Get Your Financial House Plan for the Future
Illinois Nut & Candy In Order Challenges Lie Ahead
By Mendy Rimler By Moshe Klein By Jewish Business News Staff
Page 6 Page 8 Page 10
CONTENT FROM THE PUBLISHER
3 BUSINESS NETWORKING
CALENDAR Dear Reader,
4 COVER STORY
For decades, “building a business” meant working long
Small Business, Meet Facebook
and Twitter hours, creating value for customers and generating referrals
How small businesses are profiting from family and friends.
from social media
By Hilary Markow It still means that, but today small business owners must do even more. In
this month’s cover story, “Small Business, Meet Facebook and Twitter: How
6 FEATURED BUSINESS
Going Nuts for Candy at Small Businesses Are Profiting From Social Media,” Hilary Markow looks at
Illinois Nut & Candy how small businesses are creating Web sites, building Facebook and Twitter
By Mendy Rimler presences and becoming fluent in the language of social media.

8 IN MY OPINION Here at Jewish Business News, we like to take advantage of our social
Get Your Financial House in Order
media opportunities. In addition to the magazine, we’ve got a Web
By Moshe Klein
site (www.thejewishbusiness.com), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/
9 FEATURED NETWORKERS groups?gid=3615240), and Twitter (www.twitter.com/jewishb2b) accounts
and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jewishb2bnetworking). All of
9 BUSINESS ETHICS these help us connect with you, our readers.
Making the Mundane Holy
What has your experience been with these new communication frontiers?
10 SMALL BUSINESS FORECAST
Plan for the Future Have you tried riding the social media wave?
By Jewish Business News Staff
JBN is scheduling events, speakers and workshops on social media for the
12 SMALL BUSINESS remainder of 2011. If you are interested in finding out more, please email
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE events@thejewishbusiness.com and you will be included on any event
notifications.
14 JOBS BOARD

As always, please let us know how we are doing with the magazine. Send all
comments and suggestions to editor@thejewishbusiness.com.

To Success,
On the cover:
Cover montage images from iStock Photography
Shalom Klein
Publisher: Shalom Klein
Editor: Gerald Burstyn
Contributing Editor: Moshe Klein,
Khane-Faygl Turtletaub
Distribution Coordinator: James Austin
Advertising/Sales Coordinator: Leah Alpert
Creative Director: Michael Borkovec
Writers: Blanca Campos, Jeff Kamen, Hilary Markow,
Mendy Rimler.

Check www.thejewishbusiness.com for updates.

© 2011 Jewish Business News. All rights reserved.


Reproduction in part or whole without permission
is prohibited. Editorial, publishing and advertising
offices: 3564 W. Dempster St., Skokie, IL 60076,
Phone: (888) 477-4466.

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February 1 February 8 February 18


Caffeinated Connections Networking Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Emerging Trends in Business: The Secret of Winning Federal
Morris Graduate School of Management
Intellectual Property Contracts
1000 E. Woodfield Road, Suite 100
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. 7:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.
Schaumburg, Ill.
Members: $20/person; Non-Members: $25/person Complimentary for Chamber Members; $10 for
(Register online: http://goo.gl/VBFza)
McAndrews, Held & Malloy, 500 W. Madison St., Non-Members
Suite 3400, Chicago, Ill. 200 E. Randolph St., Suite 2200, Chicago, Ill.
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce (Register online: http://goo.gl/JpY1Z) (Register online: http://goo.gl/gR25i)
Build a Successful Marketing
Strategy with Bing and Yahoo! Search X Team Dinner Club Networking February 21
12 Noon - 1:30 pm Event Career Support Group
Cost: $20 per person by January 26th; $25 per 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
person after January 26th. Microsoft, 200 E. Cost: $5 Skokie Public Library
Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago, Ill. 13301 S. Ridgeland Ave., Palos Heights, Ill. 5212 Oakton St., Skokie, Ill.
(Register online: http://goo.gl/zXTGK) (Register online: http://goo.gl/fZcin) (Register online: http://goo.gl/LMgO6)
Illinois Statistics: Median Household income - $63,000

February 2 February 9 February 22


Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Chicago HR Whine and Dine Jewish B2B Networking
Crossing the Finish Line: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. February Networking Meeting
Completing College Elephant and Castle, 111 W. Adams St., Chicago, Ill.
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
8:00 am - 10:30 am (Register online: http://goo.gl/GEXPF)
GCG Financial, 3000 Lakeside Dr., Suite 200S,
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Chicago, Ill. UIC Family Business Council (Register online: http://goo.gl/cLAYK)
(Register online: http://goo.gl/D9k4J) Social Media Strategies and Tips for
Your Small Business Building a Resume
Chicagoland ExecuNet 3:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Networking Meeting Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street & Skokie Public Library
4:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago, Ill. 5212 Oakton St., Skokie, Ill.
Kendall College (Register online: http://goo.gl/jWy3x) (Register online: http://goo.gl/k3i5M)
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DePaul University: How to Find Your February 24
February 3 Company’s Weakest Link Park Ridge Edison Park Bowling
Lakeview Networking Luncheon 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Challenge
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The Metropolitan Club at Willis Tower 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Ines Kinchen & Flourish Studios 233 S. Wacker Drive, 66th Floor, Chicago, Ill. Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce, 6715 N.
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Chicago, Ill. (Register online: http://goo.gl/0NvQp)
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February 16
Industrial Council of Nearwest Financial Solutions for Business
February 7 Owners
Computer Class: You Can’t Chicago: Where in the World Is Your
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Google This Next Customer? Skokie Public Library
9 a.m. – 12 noon 5212 Oakton St., Skokie, Ill.
7:00 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Illinois International Trade Center at ICNC (Register online: http://goo.gl/fHpj1)
Skokie Public Library
320 N. Damen Ave., First floor, Chicago, Ill.
5212 Oakton St., Skokie, Ill.
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Sustainable Business Fundamentals North Central College
Cutting Edge Events: Chicago Improve Your Face-to-Face
3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Networking Event Various fees; check online Networking Skills
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Haworth Showroom, 312 Merchandise Mart, 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon
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District Bar (Register online: 455 S Brainard Street, Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium,
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www.thejewishbusiness.com Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. 3


Small Business, Meet Facebook
and Twitter
How small businesses are
profiting from social media
By Hilary Markow
What do you get when you cross a spa with a wine boutique? And how
did a small business develop from a concept to a venture working with
Groupon in less than a year?

Let’s drink a toast to social media.

Uva Spa and Wine Boutique opened last September. But its Facebook
page went up a full six months earlier, in March.

“We got started with our Facebook account before we even opened, to
get a read on interest in the business and let people know what was to with people, learn what they like — or don’t like — and build a community, are
come,” Iris Alicea, Uva’s owner, said in an interview. “We got fans and people the acknowledged giants in the field.
talking about the concept. We used it as a tool to educate about wine-based skin
care services and about wine. We created a dialogue between our fans and Uva.” According to a survey of 500 small business owners conducted by Network
Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s
In fact, some 60 percent of Uva’s customers were Facebook fans even before Smith School of Business, the number of small businesses using social media
the store opened in Harwood Heights. What’s more, Alicea developed Uva’s doubled from 12 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2009.
business strategy based in part on the kinds of queries she received from her
Facebook fans. “We got questions from them and applied some of that learning In May of 2010, FedEx Office released the results of its third annual “Signs of the
to our business plan.” Times” national small business survey. The report found that 46 percent of small
businesses have plans to grow by improving their company’s online presences,
At present, Uva counts 438 fans, 80 percent of whom have bought services at while another 36 percent plan to utilize social media/networking Web sites to
the boutique, which offers luxurious skin care services for face, hands and backs build business.
using products made from wine and grape seed essences. (Uva is Spanish for
“grape.”) Uva also sells distinctive wines and rents space for parties and special Daniel Rosenberg, a social media specialist at Foreseeresults, which delivers
events. online customer satisfaction analytics, said that social media is here to stay.
“Facebooking has become a way of life, the population of Facebook is 600
And that’s just Facebook. Uva uses Twitter to post alerts for special deals “if million … Twitter has nearly 125 million users.”
you’re in the neighborhood” and to inform followers about wine tastings and the
health benefits of antioxidants. He advises businesses of all shapes and sizes to leverage that reach, “whether it is
through simply social networking or disseminating general information about a

‘Social media is not the only tool


cause or promotion.” The true value of Facebook, said Rosenberg, is “the overall
volume of users and content Facebook owns and its retention in terms of users.”
to grow business, but it’s one We spoke with owners of several small businesses in the Chicago area to see how
you can’t ignore.’ they were leveraging Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses. It turns
out that some are just getting started online while others are veterans. But all
Alicea credits her daughter Tracey Garcia, who, like Alicea, has a marketing acknowledge the importance of social media for creating relationships that can
background, for building and maintaining Uva’s social media accounts. Tracey turn “fans” and “followers” into paying customers and clients.
spends about 10 hours a week on the site and checks it every day for questions
or comments. “You need to respond to people quickly and keep their interest,” It’s Worth It
Alicea explained. “If you don’t put up anything new, people don’t come back.”
Alicea also established a Uva Web site, (www.uvastore.com), for which she “We’ve secured a Facebook page and a Twitter account and plan to go active
spent about $200. in [the first quarter of 2011],” reports Avi Lev of Worthy Insurance Group, a
Chicago-based full service property and casualty insurance brokerage whose
Recently, Alicea used Facebook, Twitter and its Web site to drive people to Uva’s commercial division serves specialty niches in healthcare companies and real
Groupon deal. The Uva team opted for Groupon’s Merchant Store, which lists estate.
offers for a week and lets store owners save money by composing their own deal
descriptions. Getting the word out to a sizable database of Facebook and Twitter The company’s Web site, worthyinsurancegroup.com, already extends a personal
followers resulted in immediate calls and business during the holidays, mostly welcome, testimonials and the ability to follow company news and offers on
from new customers. Not bad for a business less than a year old. Facebook and Twitter.

Social media is not the only tool to use to grow a business, but it’s one you can’t So what are his plans for Facebook and Twitter? “Our goal is to relate to people,
ignore. And Facebook and Twitter, which allow small business owners to connect communicate who we are,” Lev shared. He said he plans on his pages being

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“informative, but in a way that is also personalized,” and establishing personality
profiles for himself and his three employees to showcase their commitment to Fan Interest With Facebook
helping clients. He also plans on using YouTube to feature client testimonials,
Inspired by social media success stories? Here are some Facebook basics and insights
an effective touch in an industry that has long recognized the importance of to get you started.
referrals.
1. Log into Facebook and click on “Advertising” at the bottom of the page. Then
click Pages and Create a Page. Select the category of your business and fill in the
Worthy Insurance Group plans to spend up to $700 a month to maintain its new
details. As in many things, the more, the better — your company logo, photos, videos,
social media outlets, using third party professionals Lev met through networking. links to your Web site and blog — and remember keywords. Keywords are those that
people will use to search for you, so make sure you write the words that describe your
A Design All His Own services or products.
2. Your Facebook page should feature all the important information about your
When Dream Kitchens, Inc., an award-winning, full-service kitchen and bath company. For example: the overview, Web site and contact information, news and
design, installation and construction company, moved from Skokie to a 2,500 status, PR, Twitter updates and customer interaction.
square-foot showroom in Highland Park, owner Rick Glickman could no
3. Before launching, devise a plan for how you will use the page. You should be
longer depend on foot traffic and neighborhood familiarity to draw customers.
able to answer these questions for starters: Which of my customers/clients are on
Facebook? What interest or value will my Facebook page provide them? How will I
“That’s when I started seeing social media as a logical way for people to notice keep them interested? How will I maintain my page? How will I measure the success
me,” Glickman explained. “Facebook was one way to reintroduce Dream of my page?
Kitchens to Highland Park and to the community at large, to stay in front of
4. Get the word out! People can become fans of your page (as opposed to your Profile
people. I use the analogy of a business as a tree; even though you’re standing “friends”) but only if they know about you. After you invite your friends and family,
still, you still need to grow. Social media is nutrition for growth.” have them invite others. Then network by contacting people working in related fields,
or anyone who would benefit from the information you’ll provide and invite them to
Now with 80 “likes” and 104 active users a month, Glickman updates his become fans of your page.
Facebook page weekly and tracks who’s coming to see photos of design ideas 5. After your small business has 30 “likes,” you will have free access to Facebook
and his showroom. He also posts news on remodeling projects, promotions, Insight. This analytic tool tells you how well your page is performing by providing
services and a link to dreamkitchens.com, where potential customers can see data on users, including monthly active users, daily new “likes,” total “likes,” etc., and
Dream Kitchens featured on hgtv.com. “interactions,” including daily post views, daily post feedback, daily story feedback,
most recent posts and daily page activity. Both are important and have many uses, but
Glickman is currently using software that updates his Web site and Twitter and your “interactions” can really show the effectiveness of your work.
Facebook accounts simultaneously. “Being active on social media and linking 6. Whether the people on your page are family, community or tribe, be a good host
to it shows people we’re proactive, modern and on the cutting edge, staying and feed their interest. Keep them entertained and ask questions that engage them in
on top of what’s new, to demonstrate you’re on top of what’s going on in your conversation. You can even offer exclusive Facebook Fan incentives to reward them.
own industry. We’re using it to show creativity that they won’t find someplace Encourage people to come early and often and feel connected to your brand. That in
else. It reflects who you are.” turn will encourage them to share your page with their network.
-- Hilary Markow
Bang for the Buck

Rich Levy, owner of the new online company b2bucks, is a firm believer in
social media. His three-month-old start-up, b2bucks.com, is like Groupon for
small business, offering discount deals on products and services. It’s a win-
win, as buyers save while participating companies get major exposure.

Levy started using Facebook in late 2007, as “there was a definite tipping point
that year when the site transitioned from college kids to professionals.” Now?
“It’s everything. It’s the new media. When you consider that one in 10 human
beings on planet earth is on Facebook.”

His three-person company works from home and coffee shops. Like many
savvy start-ups, the Internet is their true office. It took just three months for
b2bucks to get 176 Twitter followers and 213 Facebook likes. About half
of the email addresses b2bucks uses come through social media, with the
other half coming from lists. “We have grown completely organically with
no advertising,” Levy explained. “From zero to almost 400 people actively
watching this space [b2bucks.com] simply through social media and viral
email campaigns.”

When asked what other means of reaching customers, besides social media and
email, they’re using, Levy replied, “the press. For example, we are offering
discounted garage parking on our site this week. The same week that the city
is raising rates by 20 percent. So we want to be all over this.” No doubt, it will
appear on b2bucks.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

To use social media effectively (see sidebar), plan to let people know what and
who you are, listen to what they want or need and feature information that’s
engaging and relevant. When you use real-time social media like Facebook and
Twitter, you don’t have to meet someone face-to-face to get to know them —
or eventually, get their business. And we can all toast to that.

Hilary Markow is a freelance writer in Chicago and owner/creative director


of Good Thinking, LLC, Creative and Marketing Services.

www.thejewishbusiness.com Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. 5


Going Nuts for Candy
at Illinois Nut & Candy
By Mendy Rimler

While chocolates, toffees, nut brittle and other sticky confections have always satisfied
our sugar cravings, Illinois Nut & Candy is taking candy to the next level. David Levine, the “Kosher Willy Wonka” making deliveries in the Illinois Nut Caravan.

Since the candy store opened in 2004, founders David and Melissa Levine have been Willy Wonka” by Fox Business News, employs a staff of four to 10 personnel,
serving up a wide array of chocolates and candies to a local and national customer base. depending on the rate of business, which usually spikes before Jewish holidays. At
The largest kosher candy store in the Midwest, Skokie, Ill.-based Illinois Nut boasts those times, the store is a hub for holiday shoppers who descend on Illinois Nut for
over 1,500 candy variations. Popular with consumer and corporate customers alike, holiday-themed chocolates like chocolate Dreidels for Chanukah, the 10 plagues in
Illinois Nut specializes in personalizing candy to serve party or advertising needs. chocolate for Passover, or a chocolate Hamentash for Purim.

“We’re more than just a candy store; we cater to our customers’ needs. We sell lactose- According to Menachem Lubinsky, CEO of Lubicom Marketing Consulting and
free, gluten-free, sugar-free, organic and vegan-friendly candy ,” David Levine said. editor of Kosher Today, a leading news and information service for kosher food and
“We work together with our corporate clients and offer them the ability to advertise beverages, specialty confectionary and chocolate gifts is a growing niche in the kosher
themselves by putting their logo on chocolate, or creating promotional products, like the specialty industry.
chocolate phones we did for a phone company, or chocolate hammers for a handyman.”
“Personal buying has slowed because of health concerns, but more and more people

Illinois Statistics: Electricity - 8.38 cent per KWH


Of course, kids like the store, too. With its endearing Candyland facade, Illinois are buying specialty sweets and chocolates for gifts,” Lubinsky said. “In addition, the
Nut provides a fun and truly sweet experience for kids who never leave without a online presence of kosher specialty food is growing tremendously.”
complimentary candy. “I’m known as the candy man,” David chuckles.
Continued on page 13
David, who carries chocolates instead of business cards and was dubbed the “kosher

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www.thejewishbusiness.com Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. 7
Get Your Financial House In Order
A recipe for business success
By Moshe Klein
In recent years, I have been called upon as a consultant to work with 1. Decide your role in the business and stick to it.
organizations and businesses that need help restructuring and reorganizing after 2. Hire people for all of the other responsibilities.
they have failed to properly keep their financial houses in order. 3. Set up weekly staff meetings to review and discuss all aspects
of the business.
It may sound as though I am being harsh when I say this, but while I understand 4. Hire an outside accountant or auditor to review your books.
that every business is different, one theme remains constant: a well-organized 5. Create a management “open door policy” to encourage idea
and managed business stands a greater chance of succeeding than a poorly exchanges.
managed one. Forgive the analogy, but a meat-eating smoker has a much higher 6. Talk to your clients.
risk of early death than a vegetarian non-smoker. It’s true and the facts are there 7. Talk to your employees.
to prove it. 8. Network and talk to your peers.
9. Set monthly/quarterly meetings with your board of directors.
I recall one not-for-profit organization that hired my firm to do bookkeeping,
accounting and consulting. It was clear the project would be challenging. The In my opinion, a business owner or manager who religiously follows these simple
“books” were a mess: QuickBooks had not been updated for almost six months guidelines will have his or her financial house in order. It’s simple. By constantly

Illinois Statistics: Gasoline - $2.99 / Gasoline Tax - 32.5 cents per gallon
and blank checks had been handed out to staff for “expenses” like candy. reviewing every aspect of your business with a qualified team of professional
Vendors had not been paid for months – even years in some cases. You get the associates, employees and consultants, you stand the greatest chance of correctly
picture. identifying your business management strengths and weaknesses. The results
will likely be a business that will be enjoyable to manage and profitable enough
Normally, I wouldn’t agree to service a client like this for any amount of money. to support your family for years to come.
However, the director of the organization pleaded for my help. Further, he
pledged to change his ways and heed my guidance.
Moshe Klein is an accountant and small business consultant. His firm, Moshe
Well, we made progress over the first few months. We worked hard to correct and
Klein & Associates, Ltd. is based in Chicago and services clients throughout
update QuickBooks to accurately report all income and expense transactions. the United States and Canada. To respond to his column, write to Moshe at:
We created a list of vendors and staff that were owed money and created a tiered mk@thejewishbusiness.com.
repayment structure. We even set up certain “best practices” for running the
business office.

‘A well-organized and managed business


stands a greater chance of succeeding
than a poorly-managed one.’

Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break. As soon as the director saw that
things were getting better, he reverted to poor record keeping and reckless
spending. The organization fell further in debt, and the trust that was repaired
with employees and vendors eroded rapidly.

With a basic and lasting commitment to putting his financial house in order, this
director could have placed his organization on proper footing. Unfortunately,
most business owners and managers don’t pay attention to business basics.
When left unchecked year after year, poor management results in financial ruin.

By the way, the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t look kindly upon businesses
that don’t keep good records. In fact, audits of small businesses are on the rise.
Even the not-for-profit realm is considered fair game these days.

Have you ever been through an IRS audit? If you have, then you know that
you will be expected to produce receipts and documents for every line-item
transaction that makes up your business and/or personal returns going back
several years. Oftentimes, these demands result in a last-minute and very costly
scramble to recreate years of financial records. Setting up and keeping your
financial house in order from the get-go could have prevented all of this.

Allow me to share some advice with every business owner and manager reading
this column. It’s my recipe for business success.

8 Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. www.thejewishbusiness.com


Rabbi Marc J. Belgrad Business Ethics 101:
Seeking Job in Organization
Personal motto: I enable organizations to Making the Mundane Holy
articulate and fulfill their missions.
A concern for ethical business practices is among the highest
My work: I organize, strengthen and build
communities through dialogue and education. priorities of Jewish legal literature. Maimonides (12th century Spain/
What sets me apart: My ability to listen to those North Africa), the great Jewish legalist and philosopher, begins
involved and to utilize their insights in building a his exposition of the laws of courts and civil administration with
stronger organization.
an explanation of the verse in Deuteronomy (16:18), “You shall
Marina Chudnovsky appoint magistrates and officials….” He details those civil officials’
Zarem Golde ORT responsibilities: “They stand before the judges; they make their
Motto: Never give up on anyone, never deprive rounds to the markets, squares and shops, fixing prices, regulating
someone of hope.
My work: I generate ideas to further school weights and correcting abuses.”
development and plan program improvements.
What sets me apart: The concept of tiredness is Biblical law requires the establishment of accurate weights and
foreign to me. I am fearless, fair, flexible, caring measures. The Jewish exposition of that law calls for periodic self-
and confident that I will succeed.
inspection and the appointment of an independent inspector as well.
Andrew J. Vass False or deceptive packaging and labeling is similarly forbidden. One
Illinois Statistics: Gasoline - $2.99 / Gasoline Tax - 32.5 cents per gallon

New York Life who engages in these unfair practices violates the biblical prohibition
Motto: To bridge the digital divide and help people
against “placing a stumbling block before a blind person” by playing
prepare for retirement.
My work: I help people plan for the future using to consumers’ weaknesses — as well as, of course, the prohibition
tax-advantaged, safe, established programs. against lying.
What sets me apart: Honesty, integrity and a
genuine concern for others.
‘Jewish ethics encourages the individual
to go beyond the letter of the law in
Locate these and other business networkers and create your own profile online at determining one’s obligations to others in
www.jewishb2bnetworking.com/directory the economic realm, as in others.’
Jewish civil law is also cognizant of laws and regulations in the wider
non-Jewish societies among which all Jews lived for centuries. The
authority of the government is recognized in such statutes as that
which requires Jewish subjects (in our day, citizens) to pay the taxes
levied upon them fairly and honestly. “The law of the land,” according
to Talmudic regulation, “is the law.”

More broadly than the dictates of law, Jewish ethical literature


prescribes the application of general ethical principles in one’s
business affairs as in every other aspect of one’s life. One is expected
to take precautions not only to avoid taking unfair advantage of those
with whom one does business, but also to guard against creating the
impression of impropriety. For the sake of one’s own good name
and for the reputation of the Jewish people, one must remain above
suspicion and be perceived as fair and honest, even at the cost of some
legitimate gain.

Jewish ethics encourages the individual to go beyond the letter of the


law in determining one’s obligations to others in the economic realm,
as in others. No one is expected to agree to be taken advantage of, but
one is to take even greater care not to gain from any advantage one
has over others. In this way, one brings to one’s own life and one’s
community a measure of the holiness with which Jewish spiritual
practice seeks to imbue even the most mundane affairs.

Courtesy of MyJewishLearning.com, a comprehensive and interactive


online Jewish learning resource.

www.thejewishbusiness.com Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. 9


Plan for the Future
Challenges Lie Ahead
By The Staff of Jewish Business News

In January, we told you that in some regions of the country and in some economic
sectors, the economy was beginning to show signs of a recovery. Indeed, in the
Chicago area, we are already seeing unemployment decrease (though it remains
unacceptably high), a slight pickup in manufacturing and encouraging retail sales
results coming out of the recent holiday season.
However, the economy continues to be pulled down by rising gas prices (in many
areas around Chicago the average cost per gallon is well over $3.25), continued
declines in home values and a very sluggish real estate market. Moreover, business
office vacancies remain at high levels, and there is no immediate demand surge
expected. This high vacancy rate in office buildings and retail storefront locations
correlates negatively with forecasted government revenues, mortgage default rates
and the confidence of the small business community.
To make matters more challenging, in early January, lawmakers in Springfield
raised the personal income tax rate by 67 percent and the corporate tax rate by
46 percent to close a huge budget gap. Higher taxes on an already overburdened

Illinois Statistics: Diesel Fuel Tax - 43.5 cents per gallon


population concerned about further job erosion, home equity and buying power
could translate to reduced spending at the small business level.

Telling Economic Indicators


We’ve compiled a handful of economic indicators to help the small business
owner better assess the future direction of the economy.
Bankruptcy filings: According to federal court records, the rate of personal
bankruptcy filings in Illinois continues to increase. Per 1,000 people, 6.35 filed
for bankruptcy protection in 2010 compared to 5.64 people in 2009. In 2008, the
rate was only 4.26 per 1,000. Of those filings in 2010, 77 percent were Chapter 7
(full liquidation) vs. 23 percent for Chapter 13 (reorganization).
Negative equity mortgages: According to Corelogic, Inc., there are
approximately 1.5 million mortgages on single-family homes in the Chicago
area. More than 365,000, approximately 24 percent, have negative equity,
meaning that more money is owed on the mortgage than the estimated value of
the home. Illinois ranks sixth in this category after California, Florida, Arizona,
Michigan and Georgia. Another 81,000 single-family homes in the Chicago area
are considered near negative-equity properties.
Poverty level: According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the population of
the Chicagoland area stands at 8.6 million. In Cook County, a full 15 percent
live below the poverty line. In Kane County, the poverty rate is 9 percent and in
Lake County, it’s 8 percent. Almost all counties in Illinois have seen increasing
poverty rates in recent years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Unemployment: A recent U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics report shows that
unemployment rates in Chicagoland continue to fall from a March 2010
peak. The civilian labor force in the area is estimated at 4.1 million people.
Approximately 9.5 percent of that force is unemployed and actively seeking full-
time employment. These figures do not reflect those people who are considered
“underemployed” or who have simply stopped looking for work.

For February 2011, our small business forecast remains stable but challenged.
Of course, the political will to cut spending on entitlements and spur job growth
in Washington, D.C. and Springfield will help enormously. Businesses should
hold a firm and steady course and continue to work a business plan focused
on restraining spending, maintaining sales growth and improving bottom-line
margin and profitability. Avoid carrying credit card debt for business use and
prepare for slow sales performance with ups and downs for the long haul until
the job market improves. Once that happens, a real and meaningful recovery will
be close at hand.

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www.thejewishbusiness.com Jewish Business News - A publication of Jewish B2B Networking, Inc. 11
Provided by the Small Business Advocacy Council

Federal Update: Tax Relief Act of 2010 under Illinois law currently extended to spouses. The law will go into effect
By Blanca Campos in June 2011. Here’s a look at some of the ways the law could affect small
businesses.
On Dec. 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief,
Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 Health benefits: Although not explicitly noted in the law, it appears that
(H.R. 4853). This compromise tax package centers around a temporary, employers will be required to provide couples in civil unions the same health-
two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts and includes additional provisions care benefits afforded to married couples. However, there’s a lot of complexity
designed to promote economic growth. It is estimated to cost $858 billion when it comes to benefits, as there are two types of health insurance plans.
over 10 years. Here are some important aspects of the act. Insured plans (in which employees are covered by an insurer) fall under state
law while the federal Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)
Extension of bonus depreciation and Section 179 expense: Bonus depreciation governs self-insured plans (in which the employer, not an insurer, pays for
is intended to help businesses depreciate purchases faster against their taxable health benefits). Since federal law does not recognize civil unions, self
income, thereby encouraging businesses to invest in more equipment. The employers with self-insured plans will not be required to offer couples in civil
act increases first-year bonus depreciation deductions from 50 percent to 100 unions the same benefits as married couples.
percent for new additions of machinery, equipment and certain real estate
leasehold improvements made after Sept. 8, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2011. Pension benefits: A surviving partner to a civil union will have the same
survival rights under his or her partner’s pension that a spouse has under that
The estate tax: This tax was a key issue in the policy debate because of its pension.
implication on estates containing small businesses and family-owned farms.
For 2010 only, there was no federal estate tax. Beginning in 2011, the tax is Standing to bring wrongful death suit: In the rare case that a business’s acts

Illinois Statistics: State Sales Tax - 6.25% (local taxes can raise this up to 8.5%)
restored. It sets $5 million as the exclusion rate for individuals and $10 million cause the death of a partner to a civil union, the surviving partner will have
for married couples. Estates larger than that would pay 35 percent in estate standing to bring a wrongful death case against the company.
tax; 35 percent would also be the rate set for gift tax and generation-skipping
transfer tax, which covers gifts to grandchildren. Finally, business owners considering entering into a civil union should know
there will be no tax benefits, such as filing a joint federal tax return or the tax-
For deaths in 2010, there is a choice of retaining the “no estate tax” regime free transfer of property at a partner’s death. This is due to the Federal Defense
or applying the 2011 estate tax system with the $5 million exemption. This is of Marriage Act, which prohibits partners in civil unions from receiving any
important practical relief for smaller estates for deaths that occurred in 2010, of the federal benefits of marriage.
as it avoids the complicated carryover basis rules and reporting that applied
under the no estate tax regime. The Small Business Advocacy Council is a non-partisan group with over 160 members,
including law firms, real estate brokers, accounting firms and others.
State Legislative Update: Illinois Civil Union Law
On Dec. 1, 2010, the Illinois Senate approved the Illinois Religious Freedom
Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716). The law will provide same-sex
couples the same legal treatment previously available to married couples. At
its essence, the bill says that two people, whether the same or opposite sex,
who have entered into a civil union, are entitled to the same legal treatment

FEATURED BUSINESS
Continued from page 6

To that end, the Levines offer their full selection online at www.raisingthecandybar.
com, where customers from anywhere in the U.S. can order chocolates and
confectioneries. Locally, David makes deliveries in the “Illinois Nut Caravan,” an
eye-turning minivan that has been painted from bumper to bumper with pictures of
colorful candies, nuts and chocolates.

From handmade Viennese crunch toffees, 25 types of candy apples, an award-


winning peanut crunch and a flourless chocolate cake, the wide variety promises
something to satisfy everyone’s palette. On Fridays, the Levine’s sell freshly baked
chocolate chip, cowboy and pecan shortbread cookies using his mother-in-law’s
original recipe.

“When I have a new project, I tell David about it and he always tries his best to help
me out and give me what I need,” Andrea Herman, an artist who lives in Skokie
and a regular customer at the store, said. “There’s an excellent selection at Illinois
Nut, and David always works with my budget and preferences to provide exactly
what I need.”

Disneyland may very well be the happiest place on Earth, says David, who wishes
his customers “a sweet day” before they leave his store. “But we’re definitely the
sweetest place on Earth.”

Mendy Rimler is a freelance writer living in Detroit. To respond to this


article, write to mr@thejewishbusiness.com.

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