Saturday, February 13, 2016

One Day at Panda Express.

On a bright day in the flats of San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, the busiest restaurant around is a Panda Express tucked into a shopping center dominated by a Walmart. Running a fast-food operation isn't like other restaurants — here, we dive into the big picture, the tiny systems, and the daily struggles of keeping a quick-service shop humming.

Walnut Grove Avenue is a relatively barren stretch between the 10 and 60 freeways in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley, some 12 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles. There are two big anchors to the suburb: a large Edison utility headquarters, and the corporate headquarters of Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Express. One of LA's few Walmarts looms at the end of a huge parking lot, flanked by a strip mall with a collection of standard-issue retail slots.

While many diners still think of Panda as a shopping mall staple, the chain — founded in 1983 inside the Glendale Galleria mall just a few miles to the northeast — has more freestanding restaurants than food-court spots. Here in Rosemead, a brightly colored, standalone building in the parking lot is Panda's local flagship, a model store that's testing innovations the brand plans to roll out to its other locations, including a larger dining room, flatscreen TVs, and a drive-thru.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Are you or would like to be a veteran involved in the business industry?

 SBDC is a huge advocate for small  business development by our veterans. Here is how veterans are receiving a spark of support in entrepreneurial ventures.

To learn more about StreetShares visit:

Forbes speaks on how businessmen and veterans are uniting 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The State of Small Business: New York

For the entrepreneur, New York offers a stable environment, a large economy, and access to one of the world's busiest regions. Small business owners and professionals in the state don't expect that to change and are largely optimistic about what the future holds. While New York's economy has grown slower than the nation as a whole, it remains the third largest in the country at a GDP of nearly $1.4 trillion in 2014, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). That means plenty of business opportunity, both in New York City and outside, where there are large markets in places like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. New Yorkers are, on average, wealthier than their national counterparts as well, meaning more money to spend on the goods and services small businesses have to offer.

However, the heightened cost of living can prove difficult to manage. Still, entrepreneurs said that if they can overcome the steep expenses associated with payroll and rent, not to mention a tangled web of taxes and fees, operating in New York is an investment that pays off in the end.

As part of our yearlong project "The State of Small Business," Business News Daily plans to report on the small business environment in every state in America. In this installment, we asked a few of New York's 2,057,959small business owners about the challenges and opportunities of operating in their state.

- See more at Business News Daily

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Small Business Success Story -Lake Champlain Physical Therapy

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  North Country SBDC  appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Leonardo Lopes-Gomes
Lake Champlain Physical Therapy
North Country SBDC

Lake Champlain Physical Therapy is a new clinic in Crown Point owned and operated by Leonardo Lopes-Gomes, a board-certified physical therapist. When working at a local hospital, Leo noticed that patients were willing to wait two to three weeks to schedule an appointment with him, and was inspired to start his own successful practice. After eight years at the hospital, Leo took the plunge and decided to start his own business. Lake Champlain Physical Therapy offers outpatient physical therapy treatments. Leo may expand the practice in the future to include other therapies and wellness services such as massage therapy, acupuncture, fitness classes and wellness programs. 

Due to limited collateral, the bank required an SBA guarantee to facilitate lending. Leo visited the North Country SBDC for assistance in preparing a business plan and financial projections to secure funding. Advisor Angela Smith worked with Leo to carefully identify all startup costs and research the local market to build realistic financial projections for this rural practice. 

The outcome was a well rounded business plan and financials, which resulted in the approval of a $50,000 7(a) SBA guaranteed loan though Glens Falls National Bank. A happy Leo commented, “The SBDC provided me with invaluable service! Excellent feedback, advice, attentive and the bank said it was the best business plan they ever saw.” Lake Champlain Physical Therapy offers a full-range of physical rehab services for the general population in the greater Southern Essex County & Ticonderoga Area with offer state of art equipment and personalized one-on-one physical therapy. 

Getting Better at What You Do

There are so many options these days for learning opportunities, often for free. I have only listened or viewed a couple of these in the past but today checked out a course that our clients would be invaluable to a lot of our clients, in particular tech clients. I was searching for a podcast for training people on how to sell. A course on iTunes U that jumped out to me is How to Start a Startup by Sam Altman. It's free! There are over 40 lessons, some video-based units and some podcasts. I jumped to the unit on Sales & Marketing: How to Talk to Investors. It concisely works through the steps of what questions an entrepreneur needs to be able to answer. What to say, when to shut up, and what attitude to you need to be successful. This was a section that I thought would be very interesting for businesses starting out and trying to get funding. Other interesting units are on how to manage, hiring, accounting, and simply "building product and talking to users".

There is something on just about anything you want to learn and the format is easily fit into a busy schedule. Like Coursera, most of these courses are offered by known schools and universities you will recognize and are stand-alone or supplement campus study. If your client (or you ) need a refresher on just about any topic, consider an online course.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

What to do when going back to the drawing board

Have there been reasons to make drastic changes to your business? If you are in the stages of possibly rebranding the SBA has a STEP-BY-STEP process to help guide you back onto the road to success.Here is what you need to do when going back to the drawing board.

Rebrand Your Business, Step By Step

Graphic of words on a chalkboard signifying business brainstorming

Monday, February 08, 2016

What Kind of Thinker Are You?

We all aspire to work better together. Technology is making some of that effort easier. But digital tools are only part of the answer. It’s people who ultimately make the difference.

The problem is that technologies for collaboration are improving faster than people’s ability to learn to use them. What can be done to close that gap? A year ago we set out to find the answer, drawing on the collective experience of dozens of collaborative communities and learning organizations. Here’s what we found.

In most organizations, there’s a standard set of tools we use to form, lead, and manage teams. These include personality tests, skill profiles, and team roles. When you put a team together, you consider people’s personalities: are they an introvert or extrovert, risk-taker or risk-avoider, analytical or intuitive? You consider their skills: What is their specific area of talent, experience, or expertise? And you consider their potential role on the team: What will their contribution be to the team’s purpose?

We normally think of roles as being about what people do, such as team leader, project manager, or researcher. When you need a decision, you go to the team leader. When you want a status update, you go to the project manager. When you need something investigated, you go to the researcher.

But in today’s marketplace, the smartest companies aren’t those that necessarily out-produce the competition. Instead, it’s the organizations that outthink them. And while there are plenty of tools that help us quickly understand what our teammates do, it’s harder to tell how they think. Research shows that it is ultimately how teams think together that most determines their performance.

Read more at:Harvardbusinessreview

Friday, February 05, 2016

Four things every small business owner should know about taxes

Blood pressures are rising at many small businesses now that tax season is underway.
Owners can make the process easier by being organized and watching out for tax pitfalls, accountants say. Here are four tax issues small business owners should be thinking about now and year-round:

Here are the major keys Star Tribune has to give:

Keeping records matters

Tax time, a teachable moment

Employees and freelancers

Your home office and car

To learn more visit:

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Create Success: 5 Proven Steps To Achieving Your Business Goals Now

You know the feeling: You’re motivated, excited and focused as you work toward your dream. Then, life happens.

The initial excitement you felt fades away. You want more traffic for your blog or website, but it becomes harder and harder to make yourself sit down and write.

You find yourself creating excuses. Days and then weeks go by. Those ambitious goals you dreamed up are nothing but far-off fantasies dancing around in your head.

You feel guilty for not following through, and you say to yourself:

-I’ll never be able to stick to my goals.
-I don’t push myself hard enough.
-I need to stop being so lazy.
-I’m a failure.

But, I have great news for you: Your dreams don’t have to fizzle out like a defective Fourth of July firecracker.

In this post, you’ll learn:
-Why getting crystal clear about your goals will amplify your results
-How to achieve goals by measuring your progress to stay on track
-How to break goals down into smaller, manageable chunks (so you don’t feel overwhelmed)
-How to prepare like a pro for inevitable setbacks that could derail you
-Three word-for-word scripts that you can use to find an accountability partner
-A quick step-by-step action plan that you can implement today to start reaching your goals
-Here are three steps for creating goals that matter to you:

Step 1: Use This Secret to Craft Great Goals

Determining the outcome you want to achieve is the first step. An outcome goal is the end result, and it sets your direction. When thinking about your outcome goal, it’s extremely important to be crystal clear about what you want to achieve. And as a rule of thumb, you should know these two facts:

Vague goals will get you mediocre results. Specific goals will get you amplified results. Why? Because vague goals aren’t goals; they’re wishes.

Read more at:Elitedaily

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Small Business Success Story - Creative Sports Concepts

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the Albany SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Michael Taylor
Creative Sports Concepts
Albany SBDC

Creative Sports Concepts specializes in the sales, service, and rental of interior and exterior sports surfaces, primarily basketball flooring. Additionally, the company offers related equipment for sale and rent, special event production, and logistics coordination under its current service umbrella. Under the direction of owner Michael Taylor, Creative Sports Concepts has grown since its formation in 2012 into a trusted industry solution provider for organizations needing permanent court installations or floor resurfacing, as well as those pursuing high-end temporary events and customized private gymnasiums.

The company, a regional authorized dealer for Connor Sports Flooring, now has a national presence with mainstream customers like Under Armour, Nike, and Jordan Brand. Mike Taylor has been working with the Albany SBDC for the past year in identifying growth opportunities and better organizing his financial reporting. As a result, he has better positioned his company to take advantage of incentive programs and funding opportunities. Creative Sports Concepts was recently approved for $300,000 in SBA funding, primarily to assist in expanding equipment offerings and providing much-needed working capital as the business continues large contract relationships with Nike and similar partners. Mike continues to work with the SBDC on a much larger ambition: relocating the business to owner-occupied property that will provide enough space to resurface up to 4 full-sized courts for many of the Northeast’s NCAA basketball programs.
“When I was referred to SBDC by my bank to help me plot the vision for my business future, I didn't know what to expect,” says Mike. “Now I can say it has been an invaluable and enlightening experience and I thank them for their help and expertise.”

Health Information Privacy

The HIPAA Rules apply to covered entities and business associates.

Individuals, organizations, and agencies that meet the definition of a covered entity under HIPAA must comply with the Rules' requirements to protect the privacy and security of health information and must provide individuals with certain rights with respect to their health information. If a covered entity engages a business associate to help it carry out its health care activities and functions, the covered entity must have a written business associate contract or other arrangement with the business associate that establishes specifically what the business associate has been engaged to do and requires the business associate to comply with the Rules’ requirements to protect the privacy and security of protected health information. In addition to these contractual obligations, business associates are directly liable for compliance with certain provisions of the HIPAA Rules.

If an entity does not meet the definition of a covered entity or business associate, it does not have to comply with the HIPAA Rules. See definitions of “business associate” and “covered entity” at 45 CFR 160.103.

Learn more at: the Health and Human Services website

Monday, February 01, 2016

Why You Should NOT Leave Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur

The truth is that being an entrepreneur is harder than running Merrill Lynch. (And I’m not just saying that; I actually ran Merrill Lynch.) It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Sure, it’s great not to have to attend the Operational Risk Committee meeting and sit through the page-by-page review of the 226-page deck. I can’t tell you how great.

But for those of you thinking of leaving your big-company job to be an entrepreneur, here’s why you shouldn’t:

Read more at:LinkedIn

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Onion: Boss Wants Friendly, Relaxed Company Culture In Place By Friday

Sometimes, parody narratives are far too real. From The Onion:

Warning of severe consequences if he didn’t see results, Pantheon Digital Consulting COO Daniel Abelson, 59, told employees Monday he wants a relaxed, friendly company culture implemented by the end of the week, sources within the organization confirmed. “I don’t care how you make this a laid-back, fun place to work, just get it done, and get it done fast,” Abelson said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why today's CFOs are focused less on numbers and more on people

Recent in-depth interviews with chief financial officers from companies in a variety of industries revealed a set of fascinating insights. The CFO of the future is finding success by going “soft” – getting out of spreadsheets and spending more time thinking about strategy, people, and culture.

Over just the past few years, CFOs in vanguard organizations have become strategic leaders. Rather than merely supporting the company’s operations, CFOs and their teams are working directly with department heads and business units to make the strategic choices that drive the best returns on investment, enhance shareholder value and long-term growth, and beat the competition.

This shift requires the modern CFO to actively collaborate with all parts of the business and untangle questions such as: What is our unique value proposition? What is our market potential in each business in which we participate? How can we increase value to the customer? Do we have the capabilities needed to win?

It demands that CFOs use their unique direct line of sight into the organization’s many functions—such as supply chain, R&D, manufacturing, sales, and marketing— to ensure that the company fully develops and invests in its most important (typically cross-functional) capabilities that differentiate it in the marketplace.

Given these new collaboration and management responsibilities, the CFO’s old education and career track are no longer ideal preparation for the modern version of the job.

The hard quantitative skills that a typical CPA or MBA candidate studies are now table stakes; more strategic abilities and soft skills are increasingly critical.

Today’s CFO must be able to develop talent, build a strong team and shape a winning culture, via influencing and collaboration skills vs. via command & control.

The CFO must also ensure that the organization culture is aligned with the company’s path to creating value - else all their financial and business plans risk failure.

Rather than focus purely on financial outcomes, we are finding that today's chief financial officers are most valuable when they pay attention to three important areas: understanding the value chain, shaping the culture and developing talent.

Read more at:Businessinsider

Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Stop People From Stealing Your Business Plan

Nearly all businesses, whether they are small or large, are comprised of intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets, which can serve as the foundation for commercial success.

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as, “creations of the mind,” which, depending on the business, can take many forms.

One thing is certain:

The more valuable the IP and trade secrets, the more vulnerable they are to theft and infringement.

When starting a business in today’s digital age, one of the most important actions one can take is protecting the intellectual property and trade secrets of that enterprise, from the very beginning.

The intellectual property of a business, which in many instances functions as the lifeblood of a company, is almost always financially valuable and that value increases as the company grows and starts generating revenue.

For any business, it is critical to establish evidence for the creation date and authorship for all IP at the earliest point possible, in order to demarcate clearly who created what and when.

Read more at: Bplans

Friday, January 22, 2016

Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity

Interesting new information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Where should new graduates look for jobs? What about career changers? In what direction should career counselors and job placement programs direct clients? Which statistics can government officials use to help determine how to stimulate job growth? How do employers know if their turnover and worker demands are typical? Industries differ in employee turnover patterns, demand for workers, and ability to hire the workers they need. Understanding the labor turnover characteristics of the different industries may help jobseekers, those assisting them, employers, and government officials better focus their efforts.
Each data element in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)—job openings, hires, and separations—provides information about the labor market. However, when all three data elements are studied together, an even more informative picture emerges. The job openings data tell us about the unmet demand for workers; the hires and separations data provide information about the flow of labor. Industries with high turnover and low job openings, such as construction, are easily able to hire the workers they need. But industries with high turnover and high job openings, such as professional and business services, still have open jobs at the end of the month despite their hiring efforts during the month. Those industries with consistently moderate turnover and high unmet demand for labor, such as health care, may be a good option for career changers and students selecting a major, and officials who develop training programs and guide people into them can benefit from knowing which industries these are. Hence, analyzing the demand for and flow of workers by industry could prove helpful both to people looking for work and to those trying to help or hire them.

Job openings and hires

Studying job openings relative to hires reveals substantial differences among the industries. In some cases, hires (measured over the course of a month) are much greater than openings (on the last day of the month); in other cases, the gap between them is small.1 For a few select industries, openings exceed hires. Comparing industries by analyzing the number of openings or hires yields little information because industries vary greatly by size. Converting the number of hires and openings to rates—by dividing the number of hires or openings by the number of people employed in the industry—allows for meaningful cross-industry comparison. Figure 1 presents the hires and job openings rates by industry. For the United States (total nonfarm industries), the job openings rate averaged about 91 percent of the hires rate in 2014. In several industries, the hires rate far exceeded the average job openings rate: construction; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and retail trade. In several industries—for instance, mining and logging, professional and business services, and accommodation and food services—the hires rate exceeded the job openings rate to a lesser degree. The exceptional industries in which the job openings rate exceeded the hires rate were information; finance and insurance; health care and social assistance; federal government; and state and local government.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Listen to Bcast:, the Palo Alto Software podcast

The folks at have completed the first full season of their podcast, The Bcast. They're on hiatus now, so this is a great time for you to catch up on all the episodes.
Season one covered a wide range of topics to help you start and run a better business, from bank loans and lean business planning, to niche marketing and customer service.
Here are some of season one's most popular episodes:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Small Business Success Story - N.K. Bhandari Architecture & Engineering, P.C. (NKB)

Today's small business success story comes from the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College.

Christopher R. Resig
Christopher R. Resig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, became President and owner of N.K. Bhandari Architecture & Engineering, P.C. (NKB) in January 2015. Chris has been with the firm a total of 18 years.

For over 35 years, NKB has provided architectural and engineering services for Federal, State, Health, Corporate, Industrial, Higher Education, K-12 Education, and Facilities clientele. Representative projects include: Customs and Border Protection Renovations at Robert McEwen Custom House in Ogdensburg, NY; Hanley Federal Building Façade Restoration, Syracuse, NY; Massachusetts National Cemetery Phase III Expansion, Bourne, MA; New Parking Structure, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Juan, PR; Corning Inc. Process Research Center North Addition, Corning, NY; and Grant and Scott Barracks Restoration at USMA, West Point, NY.

Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Dispute an Error in Your Credit Report

Have you found a mistake in one or more of your credit reports?  The Mid-Hudson SBDC has compiled guidance on how to fix an error on your report.  

How To Dispute an Error in Your Equifax Credit Report

If you find an error in your Equifax Credit Report or in any of the products that contain information from your file, you should initiate an investigation with us free of charge using one of the three methods described below. We will investigate your concerns directly at the source (creditor, collection agency or courthouse), respond to you within 30 days, and send you an updated copy of your Equifax Credit Report via US Mail. If you are in the process of applying for a loan, immediately notify your lender of any incorrect information in your file. Your lender will need to reorder your credit file and score once any changes have been made to your information at Equifax.
To initiate an investigation, you will need to have a current copy of your Equifax Credit Report. If you do not have one, you can purchase one online for immediate online access. You can also call 1-800-685-1111 to receive a copy by mail.

Confirmation Numbers

You will need to have your Equifax Credit Report confirmation number handy when initiating a dispute. If you purchased your Equifax Credit Report via the Internet, your confirmation number is located at the top of your credit report. If you received a copy of the information in your credit file via US Mail, the confirmation number is located in the upper right hand corner.

Some consumers may not receive a confirmation number. This is either because your credit file is affiliate-owned or you have purchased your credit report through an Equifax reseller.