Skills for Small Business for Employers

Skilled worker

Skills for Small Business for Employers


Through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Skills for Small Business program, up to $2 million from the Skills Development Fund is dedicated to the backbone of Texas’ business community—our small employers. Small businesses can apply to TWC for training offered by their local community or technical college, or the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). TWC processes the applications and works with the college to fund the specific courses selected by businesses for their employees.

This exceptional opportunity supports businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and emphasizes training for new workers though it also may help upgrade the skills of incumbent workers.

  • Skills for Small Business emphasizes training newly hired employees, those who have been hired by the business up to twelve months prior to the date that TWC receives an application.
  • The program pays up to $1,800 for each new employee being trained and $900 for existing employees per 12-month period.
  • Funding for training is for full-time employees.
  • All training must be provided by a public community or technical college, or the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). No third-party vendor training is allowed.
  • Training must be selected from active course catalogs/schedules— credit, continuing education, online or other available unpublished courses.
  • Employers must pay the prevailing wages in the local labor market for the trainees funded under the grant.

How to Apply

  • Identify new or incumbent employees to be trained.
  • Identify each employee’s job/occupational title and corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code. Employers may use the Texas AutoCoder to find the best match between job titles/descriptions and SOC-coded occupations.
  • Identify employee’s wages. Wages must meet or exceed prevailing wage for the area where the business is located.
  • Identify the two-year public community or technical college nearest your location using the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s College Locator.
  • Apply online in the upper right hand corner or complete and submit the application directly to TWC, by email: [email protected] or fax: 512-463-7187.
  • View the Skills for Small Business FAQ for additional information on completing and submitting applications to TWC .

For assistance, contact TWC’s Workforce Business Services staff at 877-463-1777 or [email protected]

For more information click HERE.

Meet Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew, Founder & CEO at Hawkins Bucklew Jewelry Designs and Showroom 808


Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew is an entrepreneur whose journey has been woven together with a common thread: the empowerment of women. She is a proponent of equality and women’s rights, something she has held close to her heart throughout her career.

Sheila was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned a B. S. Degree in Business Administration from Duquesne University. Sheila began her professional career in retail buying and store management. She lived in Washington, D.C. before moving to Austin, TX.

Through her servant leadership roles in the Austin community, she began to want to do more, she wanted to impact her global community by empowering women. In 2014 during Austin Fashion Week she launched Hawkins Bucklew™ Handcrafted Jewelry Designs as the face of her mission and the financial arm of the Hawkins Bucklew™ Foundation.

These two Hawkins Bucklew ventures tied perfectly together the common threads of Sheila’s creativity, business expertise, and passion for helping the under served.

In 2017 Sheila was selected by the U.S. Department of State for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Award. A flagship program of former President Obama, the Reciprocal Exchange program supports American professionals in their travel to Sub-Saharan Africa to engage in collaborative projects that demonstrates a substantial impact on the community and country of an African Fellow. Sheila partnered with Hauwa Liman, a Nigerian Fashion Designer to host their inaugural “Creative Entrepreneurship Bootcamp” in Lagos, Nigeria. This project focused on entrepreneurial programs for women who were creative entrepreneurs.

Sheila remains active in her local community as a member of the Greater Austin Black Chamber, the Four Point’s Task Force in District 6, and Jewelers of America. She is also a former member of The Links, Inc. Town Lake Chapter, National Black MBA Association, National Council of Negro Women, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (RE-ALTIST). Sheila enjoys volunteering in the community dedicating her time to such organizations as the Capital City Black Film Festival, Austin Area Jazz Festival, and SXSW. Sheila has been featured in articles of the following periodicals: The Austin Chronicle Newspaper, Community Impact Newspaper, Austin Women’s Magazine, Tribeza Magazine, Eclectic Shades Magazine, and British Vogue.

Her most recent awards include the 2018 Profiles of Prominence Award given by the Austin Metroplex Chapter of the National Women of Achievement, Inc., the AFTV5 African Champion Award for 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year, and in September of 2018 Sheila was honored with the African Community Service Award given by the African community in the Washington, D.C. area. Sheila’s personal manta “I Am Because You Are” is what keeps her engaged in the community. Knowing what she has accomplished could not have been possible without the efforts of those who had come before her. Her current mission is to inspire mankind by empowering women through jewelry design. She hopes by sharing her personal story she can positively impact the lives of others.

Sheila, a life-long learner is a 2019 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania in their Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy. This gained knowledge centered around social business enterprises has helped launch Showroom 808; a collaborative marketplace for creative women entrepreneurs.

What Local Registrations are Required?


Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

Whether you operate your business in a corporate office or a home office, some type of permit, licensure or registration will most likely be needed. The type and method of securing these permits and licenses often vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; so it is important to contact local governing bodies to make sure you have the proper documentation. However, almost every business will require some form of permit or license.

Get specific information

Our best advice is that you seek information that is specific to your location. The registration process in Chico, CA may be completely different from the one in Atlanta, GA. Often, your local city or county clerk will be the best person to speak with and should be able to direct you to the necessary paperwork required to legally run your business within the jurisdiction. If any state or federal documentation is required for your business type, the city office should also be able to advise you on this. Obtaining a permit or license may also require a minimal fee.

While changes in local law can impact your licensure or permit status, local governments are required by law to notify businesses within their jurisdiction of these changes. So keep an eye out for any communication from your local government. The Small Business Administration’s website ( also has a robust database on the required registrations for your business at the federal, state, and local level.

Home-based businesses are not exempt from these requirements many times, and a special permit may be required to conduct business in your home due to zoning laws. Depending on your area (some local governments allow almost no commercial activity in residentially zoned areas while others may require special permits, etc.) you may be required to obtain special permission or a variance in order to conduct business out of your home. To find this information, we would recommend going to the horse’s mouth and asking your local authorities, as they will be most familiar with the particular requirements of your area.

While this article addresses local registration, some businesses may also require separate state and/or federal permits and licensure. State licensure is often required for the following business types:

  • Accountants
  • Bill collectors
  • Private security guards and private investigators
  • Real estate agents

This is just a small sampling of some business types which may require special state licensing. Again, the best advice will be to contact your local government for more information on any licensing required for your business type in your business location.

Industries that are heavily regulated by the federal government may require additional permits or licensure at the federal level. Examples of these business types include:

  • Drug manufacturing
  • Ground transportation
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or firearm manufacturing
  • Preparation of meat products

Again, these represent a small sample of the types of businesses which may require federal licensure. And again (you can probably guess where we’re going here) it is important to contact your local governing bodies for more information on the types of permit or licensure that is required for your business type in your location.

Your LegalShield attorney can help with local requirements. Contact George Ellison with any questions at [email protected] .

Meet Roland Murphy, President of the United States Disability Chamber of Commerce and Naval Chief Petty Officer Retired


Roland Murphy’s cultural competency is built on a lifetime of military leadership and international experiences. Acknowledging the strong connection between disability, innovation, diversity and inclusion; the challenge he faces as the founder of the Disability Chamber of Commerce is to help future leaders and fellow professionals understand that connection.

The United States Disability Chamber of Commerce is a national business organization representing the interests of more than 64 million people with disabilities and the 8 million small businesses designated as

Disabled Owned, Certified disability-owned business enterprises (DOBEs), Veteran disability-owned business enterprises (V-DOBEs), Service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprises (SDV-DOBEs), Certified Disability Confident U.S.A. businesses, and Organizations that assist people with disabilities.

In less than three years, the The United States Disability Chamber of Commerce has assisted their now 500 members, 75 disabled and veteran owned companies. With Roland’s strong leadership the chamber has helped these businesses with ideation, built their websites (with additional training to update the web sites), assisted with marketing tools, set-up their business in accordance with SSI, SSDI, medicaid income rules, and introduced business owners to grants to apply for or fundraising ideas to make their businesses a reality.

In his professional opinion, diversity means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing individual differences, which can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio economic status, age, physical ability and religious beliefs. Accepting and exploring these differences in a safe, positive and nurturing environment to him is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Roland,Murphy (80 % disabled )

Naval Chief Petty Officer Retired (Naval Expeditionary Forces Sailor of The Year)

President United States Disability Chamber of Commerce

President The Disability Chamber of Commerce (Non-Profit)

Workforce Development Manager Housing Authority Of The City Of Austin

Goal Setting for the New Year’s Marketing Efforts


By Monica Peña with MUNDU Media, LLC

When communicating the value of services or products to potential customers and clients, there are several things to keep in mind to make sure your company is always moving forward.

Keep the consumer in mind. Efforts should always have the correct target audience.

Be realistic. Make sure to create goals that can be accomplished.

Incorporate action items in your schedule. Taking time to strategize on the requirements to make your goals achievable will make all the difference.

Determine how to measure outcomes. The benefit of creating metrics is to define which efforts have favorable results and which do not.

When needed, modify. Don’t be scared to adjust goals as needed.

Remember that goals should not be handled as something for the far off future, but should be worked on in a consistent basis and reflected upon with pride when accomplished.

When Should I Incorporate?


Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

When it comes to incorporation, timing is everything. Incorporate too soon, and you may be stuck paying unnecessary fees and taxes, filing unnecessary reports, and just generally wasting your time and money. Incorporate too late and you could face unlimited liability. Here are some factors to consider when timing your incorporation.

Multiple Founders

No matter how well a business with multiple founders may start, there is always the potential for disagreement and, worse yet, dissolution. To avoid this, incorporation may be a good option. After incorporation, founders are limited to the number of shares purchased. This means that each founder’s investment in the company is determined simply by the number of shares owned. This eliminates the potential for disagreement based on the amount of investment in a company by the founders. Incorporating will also allow the founders to transfer shares without potential dissolution of the business. If property (especially intellectual property) is part of a business, incorporation is a wise choice to maintain the right of the business to that property rather than any individual founder.

Contract Agreements with 3rd Parties and Employees

Incorporation status can also impact the liability of the business to 3rd parties. Liability to a 3rd party in an unincorporated business points to the owner(s)/partner(s) and may remain there even after the business has incorporated. In this case, it is the timing of the agreement with the 3rdparty, more than the timing of incorporation, that matters. Here’s an example. An unincorporated business contracts with a 3rd party to purchase supplies. In this case, the owner(s)/partner(s) of the unincorporated business are liable for this purchase agreement, even if the business incorporates at a later time. Any employees hired by the business before incorporation could also be held liable for this agreement. However, employees hired after incorporation would not be held liable. For those employees hired after incorporation, liability would fall upon the business. For this reason, before an unincorporated business hires any employees, it is wise to consider the liability issues that may arise. Note that 3rdparties can also include customers of the business.

Of course, there are other factors which should be considered when deciding whether or not to incorporate. But the general rule of thumb is that once your business idea is more than just a twinkle in your eye, you should start looking at incorporation options.

Need to incorporate? Launch by LegalShield makes it easy.

Contact George Ellison with any questions at [email protected] to get started today.

Business Name vs Trademark


Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

Two things that you to be aware of as a business owner are business names and trademarks. You will have to register your business name with the Secretary of State. If there are no other businesses using that name in the state, then no other business in that state can take and use your business name, and your business is the one that will be identified under that name. A trademark is not a legal name but rather a type of property. It has value, and is a way for you to brand your goods or services.

Differences Between Protecting a Business Name and a Trademark

One difference between a business name and a trademark is time and complexity. A business name is a very simple matter. After all, it’s just that: a name, so that others can identify you and your business. A trademark, since it is a type of property and has value, will be a more complex process. The application process, whereby your trademark would be registered by the federal government, can take up to six months, or even longer. Part of why it takes so long is that there is so much more to look into with a trademark, enforced by both state and federal governments.

Another important difference is the scope of the protection. The protection of a business name is just in the state where it is registered. And different states have different rules about just how unique a business name has to be from any others that are registered in the state. In some, a subtle difference is enough, while in others there are much tougher guidelines to keep names from being too similar. Either way, though, a business name in one state does not have to differ from names that are registered in other states. By registering with the Secretary of State, no other business in the state can use that name, but other states are completely open. And it’s even possible for corporations to use a name that’s already claimed in a particular state so long as they file a DBA, assumed business name, or trade name (which one will depend on the state, of course).

With a trademark, however, you have exclusive property rights. If you own a trademark, then you can prevent anyone else from using it—anywhere—and trademarks can be used to cover not only business names but also logos, phrases, symbols, designs, images, or any combination thereof. What you trademark, called the mark, must be different from any other mark owned by another. Depending on the mark, it might be enough to change design elements such as fonts, colors, and images to keep the marks from being deceptively similar—as long as a mark does not decrease the value of an existing mark or cause confusion among consumers about the identity of the different marks.

You must apply with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which initiates an examination period lasting up to and beyond six months. After the examination period, where a number of procedural and substantive questions are studied and taken care of, your trademark then enters the next stage: a 30-day waiting period. During this period, other parties can challenge the proposed trademark by initiating an Opposition Proceeding. If you get through the waiting period and no challenges have been substantiated, then, finally, the trademark is registered.

Federal Tax ID

Another important step for your business is getting a Federal Tax ID number, or an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Whether you are a sole proprietor or a corporation, you need an EIN to legally conduct business. The IRS uses the EIN as a way to identify a business entity. Fortunately, the number is easy to get. There are multiple ways you can get an EIN from the IRS:

  1. Fill out Form SS-4 and return it by mail or fax to the IRS (the form is available at
  2. Fill out an online application, where you answer a series of questions about your business. Be aware, though, that you must complete the entire application in one session, so you have to have all your information ready when you fill it out.
  3. An authorized third party may apply for the EIN. The third party must be authorized by, depending on the business entity, the sole proprietor, the general partnership, or the corporation itself (not just a shareholder).

An EIN is included when you form your business with Launch by LegalShield.

Contact George Ellison with any questions at [email protected] to get started today.

The Benefits of Incorporation


Provided by George Ellison with LegalShield®

One of the most important decisions a business makes is choosing how it is organized. Incorporation may be wise, but for some, it may be unnecessary. Each business should carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of incorporation before choosing. The biggest benefits of incorporating are the 3Ls: Life, Liquidity, and Liability.


A good way to understand a corporation is to imagine it as a separate “person” (with limited rights and privileges). Incorporating a business means creating that corporate “person,” making the business separate from the owner (in a sense, the business “lives” on its own). The corporation actually exists independent of its shareholders/owners and employees. The corporation itself continues to exist in perpetuity until and unless the directors and shareholders decide to dissolve a corporation. In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the owner is synonymous with the business – what affects the owner might affect the business. The owner’s personal debt or liability could lead to creditors to pursuing the assets of the business regardless of whether or not the debt or liability is related to the business. An owner’s personal bankruptcy can also open up a business’s assets to any creditors the owner or partner is liable to. By incorporating, the personal finances of the owner or partner remain separate from the finances of the corporation, allowing the business to continue without disruption. In the event of an owner or partner’s untimely death, the business is generally dissolved regardless of the wishes of the owner or partner(s). All of this can be avoided simply by incorporating the business as a separate entity.


As much as we like to think that business owners should remain committed to the success of their business, there may be times when an owner or partner needs to leave the business. One big benefit of incorporation is that it allows the transferability of interest from one person to another. Generally, a partner cannot transfer his/her interest to another without the express consent of other partners. If a partner decides to leave the partnership against the will of the other partners, the partnership is automatically dissolved. Incorporating a business removes this limitation and lets shareholders/owners freely transfer their interest to another without the approval or consent of other shareholders. Some small businesses may see the transferring restrictions as a good thing to help control how a shareholder may transfer his/her interest and to whom. In that case, incorporation allows this flexibility as well. The free transferability of shares is a default rule, but by is not mandatory for all incorporated businesses. Businesses can place restrictions on the transferability of certain shares. Incorporation lets the business decide whether or not to take advantage of this option. More importantly, incorporation prevents a minority shareholder from being able to dissolve a business without cause.


One of the greatest benefits of incorporation is that it limits the liability of the shareholders. Any debt or liability against a specific shareholder remains separate from the corporation. The opposite is also true. Debts or liabilities against a corporation don’t open up the shareholders’ assets to creditors. A shareholder’s liability in any corporate debt is limited to what the shareholder invested, unless there is fraud. In a sole proprietorship or general partnership, the owner(s) and/or general partners are totally liable for any debt or liability against the business. If the business can’t pay the debt, the creditor can go after personal assets of an owner or partner until the debt is met. In a corporation, a creditor can only go after assets to the extent the shareholder is invested into the corporation. As a result, the corporation can make business decisions without endangering the assets of its shareholder, beyond the level of each shareholder’s investment. Risk is necessary and unavoidable in business. However, anything that minimizes investor risk will make a business more attractive to investors, so the limited liability aspect of business incorporation makes it a huge advantage for most business owners.


The major detriment to incorporation is taxes. In a sole proprietorship or partnership, taxable income flows directly to the owner and/or partners and is taxed at the individual’s income tax level. However, the corporation is considered a separate entity, and therefore its income is taxed first under a corporate tax. If remaining income is distributed to shareholders, that income is taxed again based on the individual’s income tax bracket. This is essentially double taxation. The marginal tax rate for a corporation may also be significantly higher than the marginal rate for sole proprietors. Although this characteristic may deter a business from incorporating, double-taxation can be avoided by taking advantage of the options given to a corporation by various states. Two options include incorporating as an S-corporation or filing as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). As an LLC or S-corp, taxable income flows directly to the shareholders/members (without being taxed twice) while maintaining the benefits of incorporation. The 3Ls are important, but they are not the only benefits. There’s also a psychological benefit to incorporating that goes beyond the numbers or legal concerns. Incorporation can seem daunting, but it’s an exciting moment in the life of a business. Conceived as an idea, a business is born at the point of incorporation. This psychological step of seeing the business as a real entity will motivate and inspire you to greater achievement.

Reduced Chance of Tax Audit

Sole proprietors are more likely to file an incorrect tax return, as many are self-prepared. They also tend to under-report revenue and over-report deductions. In recent years the IRS has audited a higher percentage of sole proprietor tax filings than corporate filings. In tax year 2006 for example, a Schedule C filer had a 1 in 32 chance of being audited. For non-business filers, the odds were 1 in 124. It clearly shows that sole proprietors are a lot more likely to be audited.

Build Credibility

Establishing a professional identity helps increase credibility with your customers and sets you apart from the competition. Most businesses choose to incorporate to reinforce their legitimacy to customers and suppliers. Adding “INC.” or “LLC” after your business name adds credibility and professionalism that goes a long way with many customers.

You can certainly file all the necessary incorporation documents yourself. However, when you consider the time involved for filing, administering, and maintaining all of these documents, it makes sense to get help. Let us help you get it done, so you can spend time actually growing and running your business.

  • Forming a business with Launch by LegalShield is a cost-effective way to protect personal assets and gain potential tax savings.
  • Our incorporation services start at just $145 (plus required government fees).
  • Lawyers charge, on average, over $200 per hour. With our document filing services, you’ll know exactly what you are getting, and how much it will costs from the very beginning.

With Launch by LegalShield, it’s easy. 

Contact George Ellison with any questions at [email protected] to get started today.

Marina Bhargava, President and CEO of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce


Marina Bhargava is the President and CEO of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC). She oversees its overall operation and execution of the Chamber’s goals and objectives.

Marina earned her B.A. and M.A. in economics from Northwestern University. Her career has been in a variety of industries, ranging from benefits consulting at Hewitt Associates to family owned plastics manufacturing. Prior to joining the Chamber, she was the Language Access and Outreach Coordinator for Asian Family Support Services of Austin, a domestic violence agency where she created trainings for and built relationships with the various Asian communities in Austin, and recruited and managed 20 contract interpreter advocates.

Marina currently serves on the board of Community Advancement Network and as an advisory board member of Indie Meme. She was a member of the Austin Area Research Organization’s McBee Fellows Class of 2015 and served on the Mayor’s Task Force for Institutional Racism, Economic Prosperity Commission, E3 Alliance’s Student Success Strike Force committee, and Austin Community College’s Equity Leadership Advisory Team.

RSVP for the Summer’s Biggest Communications Event

Look ahead a few weeks to Thursday, July 28 for Pierpont’s annual Summer Shindig and RSVP now to reserve your spotThis year, we’re convening in Google Fiber’s gorgeous space downtown for the one evening a year when communicators from every industry, role and specialty come together to network and learn more about what’s happening in Austin’s communications space. RSVP here

Meet Austin’s Top Communicators

Hosted by seven communications organizations in Austin with 150+ guests in attendance, we promise you’ll leave with at least one business card, a new friend or two, and maybe even a new coworker.

Taste Local Wine & Beer

We’re bringing the wine bar (and a brewery or two) to you. With wine and beer tastings from The Rotten Bunch, you can try a few new varieties and enjoy some local Austin brews in one place.

Thursday, July 28, 2016
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Google Fiber
201 Colorado St.
Please RSVP by
July, 27, 2016
Thank You to the Hosts of Summer Shindig 2016

Women Communicators of Austin
Austin Alliance for Women in Media
Austin American Marketing Association 
Austin Advertising Federation
North Austin Influencers
Society for Marketing Professional Services

For questions about Summer Shindig, contact Kristen James at 512.448.4950or [email protected].

summer shindig 2016

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