NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today? 1. Is the CARD Act hurting small businesses trying to get credit? It's no secret that small business lending has clammed up since the recession started for a number of reasons, including weaker demand, a weak real estate market making it tough to get home equity lines of credit and tougher overall lending standards. But another factor may be the CARD Act, which went into effect in 2010, offering new protections for consumer credit cards (but not business cards), making many business owners shift their credit to personal cards. While it's still unclear how much the CARD Act affected small business borrowing, it could be substantive, says Bloomberg BusinessWeek contributor Scott Shane. Business cards are an important source of credit for small business owners. A National Federation of Independent Business report cited in the article found that small business owners who use personal credit cards for business increased from 42% in 2009 to 49% in 2011, while those who used business credit cards declined from 64% to 59%. "Swapping cards might not seem significant, but it does illustrate how crucial access to credit is and how important it is to identify and address the factors constraining it," Shane writes. 2. Could you use an incubator? New business owners often try to go it alone when just starting out, without mentors and without outside help, but for some businesses an incubator could be a good way to kick start operations, says Access to Capital, a small business financing resource by Dun & Bradstreet Credibility. Incubators can provide a small company space and equipment rentals for a low price as well as professional business advice and assistance. Some will even invest money into select startups, the article says. Across the country, there are about 1,200 incubators. Different incubators focus on different industries and most will require the business owner to send in an application and be interviewed. Do your homework and determine which incubator might best suit your needs. 3. Here are ways to minimize the impact of divorce on your small business. Divorce is rarely easy, both in terms of financial and emotional effects the parties are subject to, but when one or both of the parties are business owners, the event could have a major impact on the business itself, particularly if there aren't agreements put in place ahead of time, Fox Business says. The business is likely to be a part of the agreement for the distribution of assets in a divorce and likely subject to financial scrutiny and lost productivity as the business owner and possibly employees are taken away from daily tasks to gather information for the valuation. In a worst-case scenario, the business could even be sold in order to "pay the non-owner spouse his or her share of the business," the Fox article says, offering ways to avoid the impact of a divorce on the business. First, if it's not obvious get legal counsel and one that has extensive experience with both personal and business aspects in divorce settlements. However, before it even gets to the point of needing a lawyer, make sure that a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is created to predetermine asset distribution to protect the business. Beyond that, if there are multiple partners in the business, documents should be drawn up ahead of time to address a buyout or valuation if a divorce is filed, the article says. If neither of these agreements exist, hire a joint financial expert to value the business, which could help streamline the process and keep costs down. You may want to enter into a confidentiality agreement to protect sensitive information, the article advises. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski >To submit a news tip, email: email@example.com.
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