3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: March 19

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Sales tax law should treat all businesses the same. Online selling giant eBay ( EBAY) is pushing to change the definition of small e-commerce retailers to include those businesses doing as much as $30 million in annual sales, all to exempt a group of sellers from the Marketplace Fairness Act, reform legislation that would require online-only companies to start charging sales tax.

"If eBay gets its way, Main Street retailers will have to continue fighting their uphill battle against big cyber sellers," according to an opinion piece by former SBA Administrator Hector Barreto for The Hill. "EBay should not be allowed to preserve special treatment in the tax code for a handful of giant multi-million dollar online sellers at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of small businesses on Main Street."

2. March Madness makes your employees unproductive. The NCAA basketball championship kicks off this week and that means an inevitable drop in productivity from employees.

A March survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that nearly one-third of workers spend at least three hours per day following the tournament during work hours.

The global outplacement firm estimates that March Madness will cost American companies at least $134 million in "lost wages" over the first two days of the tournament, as an estimated 3 million employees spend one to three hours following the basketball games instead of working, the survey says.

"At the end of the day, March Madness will not even register as a blip in the overall economy. Sequestration is going to have a far bigger impact. Will March Madness even have an effect on a company's bottom line? Not at all," CEO John A. Challenger said in a press release. "But, if you ask department managers and corporate IT managers, March Madness will definitely have an impact on the flow of work, particularly during the first week of the tournament.

"Starting the day after selection Sunday, people will be organizing office pools, researching teams and planning viewing parties. When the games begin around noon, eastern time, on Thursday, many companies will probably notice a significant drop in Internet speeds, as employees start streaming games and clogging up the network's bandwidth," Challenger said.

3. Earn an MBA-lite. Teaching entrepreneurism is an increasingly growing field. More colleges and universities are offering entrepreneurship or small-business certificates as a way to help people get their businesses off the ground. They don't carry the credit or cachet of an MBA, but they take less time to obtain and cost less too, according to New York Times .

While classes cover the basics -- marketing, tax and legal issues, business plans, fund raising -- the programs are tailored to meet the needs of the surrounding community, the article says. However some say it's important that certificate programs are taught by experienced mentors.

Others say the certificate programs are preferable because they can be nimble in their offerings. Julie Doyal, program coordinator for the Northwest Michigan College's Extended Educational Services, said the college recently added classes on how to use Etsy to its small-business certificate program.

Several years ago, "who would have even known what Etsy was? And even within Etsy, it continues to change," she told The Times.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

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