Friday, September 23, 2016

CyberSecurity Bill Passes US House - would authorize SBDCs to offer cyber support

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Improving Small Business Cyber Security Act of 2016 this week, to help small businesses protect themselves from cyberattacks.

A companion bill is still working its way through the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Chairman of the House Small Business Committee was approved by voice vote on a bipartisan basis.

Here are the main nuggets from that press release:

American small businesses are under cyberattack like never before. By one estimate, 71 percent of cyberattacks occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. With America’s 28 million small businesses making up 54 percent of annual sales in the U.S., the frequency of such attacks and the high costs they create for small businesses could have ripple effects throughout our economy.

Small businesses are often not prepared to prevent cyberattacks or easily recover from the damages of successful intrusions. A report by Internet security firm McAfee found that 90 percent of small businesses do not use updated protocols for protecting sensitive consumer information and a separate study determined that 83 percent of small businesses do not have a cybersecurity plan. Statistics show that nearly 60 percent of small businesses will close within six months after a cyberattack.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

An Absolutely 100% Non-Boring Article About Business Insurance

From Bplans

Almost every business has some form of insurance to protect it from fires, lawsuits, and vandalism—things that are 100 percent not boring.

In fact, the first business insurance policies came from Lloyd’s of London, which used to be a coffee shop where sailors and merchants gathered.

It was a perfect storm: Lloyd’s picked up on how dangerous sailing was and that merchants wanted insurance in case their sailors were thrown overboard, goods were lost at seas, or pirates did pirate-y things. This little coffee shop starting selling marine insurance and soon enough, it became the nexus of the insurance world. Three hundred years later, it still is.

If you’re a small-business owner, chances are you don’t need pirate insurance. If you do, heaven help you. For most business owners, there are four non-pirate kinds of insurance that cover most major exposures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

50 Interview Questions to Ask Applicants

From nectjobs:

Screening for the right person for the job is always a challenge. You need someone not only qualified but with a passion for the work and a desire to serve. You do not always have the luxury of multiple interviews, following up with past employers, calling all character references, or reading through multi-page resumes to help you find the right candidate for the open position.

What follows are 50 quick, easy-to-use, and immediately applied interview questions. These questions will help you to decide quickly whether the candidate you are interviewing is the right fit or not. Each question has been filtered through a vast array of human resources scenarios to determine if any are “questionable” or “offensive” based on current HR laws, regulations, and interviewing rules, (e.g., discriminatory questions based on violations of ADA, Title VI, etc.), and each one has passed the test in the US at the time of this writing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2014 Business Dynamics Statistics

The Business Dynamics Statistics provide annual statistics on establishments, firm startups, and job creation and loss from 1976 to 2014 by firm size, firm age, industrial sector, state and metropolitan statistical area.
These statistics provide snapshots of current and historical U.S. entrepreneurial activity, plus geographic and industry detail about where jobs are being created and lost in the U.S. economy.

Data tables are available by firm characteristics and establishment characteristics, as well as through the application programming interface.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Are you a small business owner with an amazing success story to tell?

If you are a small business siuccess, submit your nomination today for the 2017 National Small Business Week Awards. All nominations must be mailed or hand delivered to the nearest SBA Office no later than 3:00 PM ET on January 10, 2017. Consult the Awards Guidelines for a list of National Small Business Week Awards, eligibility criteria, selection process, evaluation criteria and how to submit a nomination package.

National Small Business Week has served as our nation’s salute to small business owners. That’s more than 50 years of celebrating small business owners who create two out of every three new jobs for Americans. Many household names were previous National Small Business Week award winners, including Ben and Jerry’s, Calloway Golf, Chobani, Dogfish Head, Stoneyfield Farm, Pacifica and Tom’s of Maine. And in recognizing the changing face of America, the SBA’s National Small Business Week awards honor individuals and businesses that reflect our nation’s rich diversity.

All nominations must be mailed or hand delivered to the nearest SBA office no later than 3:00 p.m. ET on January 10, 2017. Winners will be announced during National Small Business Week, April 30-May 6, 2017.

National Small Business Week award categories include:

Small Business Person of the Year
Small Business Exporter of the Year
Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery- Public Official
Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery- Volunteer
Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
Federal Procurement Award- Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence
8(a) Graduate of the Year
Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation
Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service
Women’s Business Center of Excellence
Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year
Small Business Investment Company of the Year


Are you our next winner? Apply today!

Friday, September 16, 2016

How Net 30 Accounts Help Conserve Business Cash Flow

For every business, the cash flowing into a company is essential for covering the day to day expenses necessary to operate a business. It keeps lights on and doors open; cash flow is truly the life blood of a business. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that companies of all shapes and sizes have to slow business growth due to lack of cash flow needed for expansion.
To combat this, a business owner may increase the amount of cash coming in by generating more sales and converting those sales into cash as soon as possible. Another way is to conserve the company’s cash flow.
While there are many ways to conserve cash flow such as cutting costs, bartering, re-negotiating with creditors, and cutting inventory; one method in particular is through Net 30 accounts.
By asking for credit terms from your suppliers you enable your business to hold onto cash for a longer period of time. You can obtain products and services your business needs and defer the payment on those purchases for 30 days, thereby conserving cash flow.
This is called a “Net 30 account”.
The fact is the wait between the time you have to pay your suppliers and the time you collect from your customers is the challenge facing many businesses today. It’s all about proper cash flow management. With net 30 accounts you delay when your cash goes out (30 or more days), at the same time you should focus on improving the speed at which your customers pay (receivables into cash).
Several ways to improve your receivables include but are not limited to the following:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Slow Marketing: How to Deliver Faster Results by Slowing Down

From MarketingProfs:
Marketing is impatient.

We want more leads, more brand recognition, more social shares.

We want a fatter pipeline, fuller funnel, more ideas, and (often) more credit. And we want it now.



Yet, ironically, the companies that will have the biggest marketing wins this fall won't get there by going faster. Instead, they will get there by... wait for it... slowing down.

In our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world... there is a critical need to slow down. Why? Because doing so allows you to achieve real results—faster.

Or, rather, we need to identify those key moments when we need to slow down, because doing so allows the business to grow faster. (And better. And with more integrity.)

We need to invite slow to fuel fast.


Wasn't Ben Franklin spot-on when he said, "Remember that time is money"? Doesn't wisdom hold that when you slow down, you're roadkill?

Nope. The opposite is true.

Although there is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing, there is a critical need for a good slow, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

NY SBDC Manufacturer of the Year – Heidelberg Bread

Heidelberg Bread makes unique products free of preservatives and packaged with old world charm – artisan breads, rolls, baguettes, pastries, muffins, and scones. It’s a local business whose ingredients are sourced from area farmers and other businesses. The business employs local people whose money stays in the community, and the company supports charities such as Compassion Coalition whose mission is to distribute food to emergency food providers. When Boyd Bissell started the company in 1983, he was going against the grain, where the norm in the bakery marketplace was bleached flour and shelf-life extending preservatives. His vision was mass-manufactured artisan bread products with locally sourced, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. Today customer demand is outpacing the bakery’s capacity, so Boyd consulted the SBDC for assistance with financing to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The building expansion project of $5.7 million will enable the firm to dramatically increase capacity. The new plant, which is four times the size of the current facility, is on schedule to open in June

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

From Concept to CEO

A wealth of services are available to entrepreneurial-minded students at the State University of New York.

Those in scientific or technological disciplines can turn their research into a real business with the help of the New York Small Business Development Center, university technology transfer departments, and the SUNY Research Foundation.

Check out our new video HERE.

See other NYSBDC videos on our YouTube channel.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to Get UPC Barcodes for Your Products

From the Wall Street Journal

Universal product codes — UPCs — are the 12-digit numbers that appear under the barcodes on many U.S. products. Getting a UPC means first joining a group to get assigned a unique identification number. They are given out by GS1 US, a nonprofit group that sets standards for international commerce.

Here’s how it works: Businesses pay to join GS1 US, and in exchange, it assigns each member its own identification number that appears as the first part of its UPC. Membership can be pricey -- an initial fee of least $250, plus annual renewal fees starting at $50.

Companies usually need different UPC codes for each product they sell, even if it is just a different size. So companies will add more numbers to their GS1-issued identification code to identify each of their products. You save money by using a UPC code reseller, but if you're selling through major retailers, this isn't an option.

Friday, September 09, 2016

6 Exit Strategies for Your Small Business

From The Balance

Exit strategies are something that every investor in a business looks for. But even if you are running a one person sole proprietorship, you need an exit strategy. For you, as for any investor in a business, the questions are the same when it's time to move on. How are you going to get your money out of the business? And how much money are you going to get?

Having an exit strategy worked out in advance helps ensure that you like the answers to those questions and gives you some control over your small business's future.

The best exit strategy is the one that best fits your small business and your personal goals. Decide first what you want to walk away with. If it's just money, an exit strategy such as selling on the open market or to another business may be the best pick. If your legacy and seeing the small business you built continue are important to you, then family succession or selling to employees might be best for you.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Is Your Company Prepared to Withstand Any Disaster Threat?

When large scale disasters hit an area, the infrastructure failure is particularly damaging to small businesses. Recent flooding in Louisiana points to a hard rule: when your business is cut off from clients, vendors and critical staff, the economic losses continue long after the cleanup is done.
The key to protecting your assets and becoming resilient in the face of a natural disaster, cyberattack, or random power outage is having a solid business continuity plan. The cost of developing a plan is low, compared to the long-term financial losses that could occur when you’re caught off guard by a crisis.
Learn how to build your own disaster preparedness plan during three free National Preparedness Month (NPM) webinars this month hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery. The series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign, and the 2016 NPM theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your Emergency Plan Today.”
The hour-long webinars will be presented from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT each Wednesday. 
These are the topics:
  • September 14: “12 Steps to Preparedness for Any Organization”
  • September 21: “The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes During a Crisis”
  • September 28: “If You Do Nothing Else this Year…” Simple tips to build your organization’s resilience.
Go to this link to sign up for the webinars: https://www.agilityrecovery.com/buildingblocks/
The SBA has partnered with Agility Recovery to offer business continuity strategies through the “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to check out past webinars and for additional disaster preparedness tools.
The SBA provides disaster recovery assistance in the form of low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, private nonprofits and businesses of all sizes. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov/disaster

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

NY SBDC Technology Entrepreneur of the Year – Elena Yakubovskaya, Mindwick

Elena Yakubovskaya, a research scientist at SUNY Stony Brook, earned her Ph.D in the field of molecular and structural biology in Russia. Ten years ago in her spare time, she was one of the founders of School Nova at Stony Brook, which provides supplemental STEM instruction to elementary students on weekends. In addition, she is the Director of Sigma Camp, a summer STEM educational camp for gifted students. In 2014, Elena started Mindwick, Inc. with the goal of promoting early science education for students in grades 1-3. In 2015 Mindwick was awarded a $150,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop "Ready for STEM" - a new educational program for improving reasoning skills in elementary school students. The Phase I “proof of concept” work results were well received when submitted to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, Elena applied for a Phase II $750,000 NSF grant and two new Phase I grants at other agencies. Elena is confident that with the support of the SBDC, her dream of developing a commercialized version of "Ready for STEM" can be realized.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Inventory Shrinkage: Causes and Possible Solutions

From Thrive & ADP

Inventory shrink is a loss of goods either due to theft, damages/spoilage or administrative errors on items moving from a manufacturing site to an end customer. The shrinkage can be referred to as a hit to the margin or loss in profit.

Inventory shrinkage, or the loss of stock, can directly impact your small business's bottom line. According to 2015 data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. retailers experienced $44 billion in losses due to inventory shrinkage in the year prior. Organized retail crime and shoplifting accounted for 38 percent of those losses, while internal theft and assorted administrative errors accounted for 35 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

It's clear that getting a better handle on shrinkage involves a careful process. As shrinkage can be a costly headache for your small business, getting this problem under control may be one of the best investments you can make. By following the suggestions by THRIVE, you'll be better equipped to protect your bottom line.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Tips For Hiring The Best Candidates For Your Small Business

From Forbes

Hiring the right talent is critical to the success of any organization, and it’s especially important for a small business.

One employee’s influence can potentially be felt more strongly in a small business than at a large organization. Likewise, when one person leaves a job at a small company, it can be more difficult to cover his or her responsibilities than it would be at a larger firm, especially since most small-business employees wear many hats. One good employee can also propel the business forward, while a bad hire can set back productivity, damage morale, and cost an employer both time and money.

Small businesses created 79,000 jobs in January 2016, according to the ADP Small Business Report. How can hiring managers ensure that these jobs are filled by the best candidates who can set their small business up for future success?

Joanie Courtney, senior vice president of Global Market Insights at job-search company Monster Worldwide, urges small-business owners to be methodical about finding employees who are a good fit, both in terms of the experience they bring to the position and the degree to which they will complement the company culture. Business owners also need to be clear about the roles and responsibilities of the position. For example, a director position at a small company could be different from a position with the same title in a large organization, even in the same industry.

Friday, September 02, 2016

How small businesses can deliver good customer service

From The Guardian

Customer service is the badge that every company wants to wear because satisfied customers remain loyal to you and recommend you to others. New customers require time, effort and a significant marketing budget to acquire.

It's not hard to keep customers happy, even though we all know from bitter experience that few companies get it right. All that's needed is to put their needs at the heart of everything you do.

Communication is vital because your customers want to feel valued and respected. They're also looking for peace of mind that they can trust you will deliver what you promise.

Customer service has never been more important; in the current climate consumers are shopping around and demanding more value for money. Businesses that thrive will not pay lip service to customer service, but instead ensure that everything they do is based around doing the very best by the people who choose to buy from them.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

How Can Small Businesses Compete with Big Companies?

From Kabbage

People often assume that small businesses are at a disadvantage when competing with big companies. After all, big companies have big company budgets for advertising. They have big economies of scale that enable them to do things faster and cheaper. They can offer lower prices that small businesses cannot match. The idea of competing with big companies is one of the reasons why people think it’s so hard to be a small business owner.

But the truth is more complicated. Yes, big companies have certain advantages that come from being big. But especially today, with the great online tools and resources that small business owners can use to make their businesses run better, it’s often possible for small businesses to beat big companies at their own game.

The people at Kabbage talked with a few small business owners and business consultants about the best strategies for how small businesses can level the playing field and compete more effectively with big companies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NY SBDC Minority Entrepreneur of the Year – Percy Caraballo, Cutting Edge Lawn Service

Percy Caraballo, the son of Cuban immigrant parents, saved pocket change stored in 5-gallon water containers, as seed money to start Cutting Edge Lawn Service and Landscaping. He had one lawn mower and one landscape trailer when he launched his business. Percy’s fleet is valued in excess of $1M today, and comprises 13 trucks, seven trailers, four chippers, and a stump grinder. Cutting Edge provides lawn service, landscaping, tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, and snow plowing/removal for regional, municipal, public authorities and commercial accounts. Over the past eight years, Percy has managed his operations without an accident, earning him an award for sustaining a 100% accident-free safety record. He has 28 PT/FT employees providing year-round services. Percy consulted the SBDC for procurement assistance that led to his obtaining MBE Certification. Advisors Vanessa Primus and Cynthia Clune also provided solicitation reviews, helped interpret contract terms and conditions, and coached Percy in contract management.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

You're Being Sued: A Guide to Handling a Business Lawsuit

From BND


You hoped it would never happen, but in the back of your mind, you knew it could: Your small business is being sued.

Whether it has been filed by an employee, client, vendor or even another business, a lawsuit against your company will likely cost you a lot of money, whether you win or lose. It's normal to feel overwhelmed, upset and indignant, but if you want to keep your business and its reputation intact during this time, it's important to handle every step of the process carefully.

Business News Daily spoke with legal, human resources and insurance experts to compile a step-by-step guide to help you through your lawsuit, along with critical mistakes to avoid along the way. Please note that this article does not replace professional legal counsel, and if your business is being sued, we urge you to consult an attorney before taking any action.

Monday, August 29, 2016

He said "For Free?"

From SAS

So you’ve decided to open up a business, but like most people just starting out, your budget is probably lacking. Some startups may require a sizable investment to move forward, while others can get away with a smaller budget. But with everything from letterhead to office space to utilities, how can you determine what kind of capital you’ll need to get going? And what should you spend it on?

According to the Small Business Administration, you will have two types of costs: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are those that recur at around the same amount, usually every month, e.g. rent and insurance. Variable expenses, like commissions, shipping and inventory, are related to the sale of a product or service and will differ each month depending on your sales. Then you’ll have one-time costs such as web design or signage. The SBA recommends creating a spreadsheet to help you calculate your startup costs, and be sure to note what is absolutely necessary, and what can be put on the back burner.

While you’re working on what you do need to spend money on, take a look at their list for a few things you can get for free!