Friday, November 27, 2015

6 Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs All People Could Benefit From

1. We do everything by ourselves.

As an entrepreneur, time management needs to be a huge part of your life.
"When scheduling in meetings, you must decide who and what companies are aligned with your business or organization, have your best interest, market your brand and believe in your mission and vision.”

— Tayrin Tapia of Dear Tayrin

The best part about being an entrepreneur is you don’t have a boss.
However, the worst part about being an entrepreneur is you don’t have a boss.
This means you have to manage your time by creating your own schedule.
You have to accomplish goals by setting them yourself.
You have to build a brand by handling customer service, marketing and PR on your own (at least until you build a company big enough to hire employees).

2. We think about solving problems all the time.

“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than trying to solve them.”

— Henry Ford

Entrepreneurs possess a “figure it out” mentally.
We’re strategists.
While most people are complaining about the unfortunate things that happen in their lives, entrepreneurs are thinking about how to prevent these things from happening again.
Our obsession with solving problems is the kind of motivation that brought us everything we see around us.

3. We would rather work than “turn up.”

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

— Samuel Goldwyn

Entrepreneurs aren’t crazy about going out every weekend.
Their vision is so huge, even just the thought of achieving their goals brings them more satisfaction than having drinks at a bar.
Still, balance is key.
All work and no play is a recipe for misery.
But while everyone dreads the thought of Mondays, entrepreneurs look forward to it.

Read more at:Elitedaily

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died.

1) Video stores are about investment

The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice.

Why streaming will never live up to home video
We watch Netflix like we used to watch television on a slow Sunday night, everything blending together as we flip aimlessly through the channels. At first the choice is overwhelming: all of these options and nothing but the questionable "You Might Like" cue to guide us — we stare at the screen like idiots, paralyzed. But then when we make a choice, if we make a choice, it feels unimportant. Another option is only a click away.

If you're actually in a video store, the stakes are different. You're engaged. You're on a mission to find a movie — the right movie. You had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a store. You had to think about what you want, why this movie looks good and not that one, perhaps even seeking guidance or advice. Whether it's from nostalgia, advertising, packaging, reputation, recommendation, or sheer whim, a movie chosen from the shelves attaches you to your choice. Before the film even starts playing, you've begun a relationship with it. You're curious. Whether you've chosen well or poorly, you've made a choice, and you're in it for the duration.

With online streaming, we don't decide — we settle. And when we aren't grabbed immediately, we move on. That means folks are less likely to engage with a film on a deep level; worse, it means people stop taking chances on challenging films. Unlike that DVD they paid for and brought home, a movie on Netflix will be watched only so long as it falls within the viewer's comfort zone. As that comfort zone expands, the desire to look outside of it contracts.

2) An algorithm is no substitute for human interaction

In the last days of the store, daily life at the store got pretty intense. Longtime customers were bereft. We tried to comfort them, explaining how our owner had ensured that our whole collection would soon be available at the public library — for free, even! It didn't help much. Almost to a one, they had the same reply: "But you won't be there to help us."

social image orange is the new black study piper daya

Hulu has overtaken Netflix to become the best streaming service That was flattering and sad, and ultimately all we could do was agree: Yeah, we wouldn't be there. There were tears and gifts and genuine concern (not unfounded) about what my coworkers and I would do to survive, a phenomenon both touching and illustrative of how identified we were with the role we played in their lives. A great video store is built on relationships, in some cases relationships that had gone on for years. Our customers were losing the people who'd helped shape their movie taste, who'd steered them toward things we knew they'd like and away from things they didn't know they'd hate. We were losing the people that we, in our small way, had been able to help. We were all grieving the loss.

Over the years, we'd come to know our customers' tastes, their pet peeves, and their soft spots. Our experience and movie expertise helped us make informed, intuitive leaps to find and fulfill entertainment needs they didn't even always know they had. I've had parents hug me for introducing their kids to Miyazaki and The Iron Giant. Nice old ladies have baked me cookies for starting them off on The Wire. People knew they could come in with the vaguest description — "This guy has an eye patch, and I think there's a mariachi band" — and we'd figure out they were looking for Cutter's Way. Other times, they'd take a recommendation for Walking and Talking and come back saying, "Just give me everything Nicole Holofcener's ever done." If someone asked me for a great comedy, my first question was invariably, "What's one comedy you've seen that you think is hilarious?" I've spent 20 minutes refining exactly how scary was too scary when picking out a horror movie. It's a skill set you develop, a sensitivity to just the right vibrations of interest and aversion.

If you think I'm overrating the power of these connections, consider this: Years ago, I helped a lovely, seemingly upstanding woman choose from several Shakespeare adaptations. The next week she returned, asking about the relative merits of zombie movies. Interesting, I thought.

She started coming in regularly. After months of recommendations and some earnest cinematic dismantling ("Like a handful of romantic comedies thrown into a blender," she said of Love, Actually), I became her go-to movie guy. A year later, I became her go-to everything guy when we got married.

This phenomenon isn't uncommon. We at the store ended up dating and/or wedding customers so consistently that it became a running joke from the boss that we were taking money out of his pocket. (Significant others got free rentals.)

Read more at: Vox

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

FTC Obtains Contempt Ruling Against ‘Yellow Pages’ Scam

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has banned Robert Ray Law and his company, CPU Service Incorporated (CPU) from sending unsolicited direct mail to advertise or promote goods or services, imposed a judgment of almost $400,000, and required them to immediately pay $45,000.

In July 2014, the FTC charged Law and Your Yellow Book Inc. (YYB) with using bogus invoices to trick small businesses, doctors’ offices, retirement homes, and religious schools into paying for unordered online business directory listings. In December 2014, a final order banned them from the directory business and prohibited them from misrepresenting that consumers owe money for a good or service.

According to FTC, Law created CPU to run a virtually identical scam, faxing fake invoices to nearly 150,000 small businesses across the country seeking payment for online computer support and consulting. As a result, in August 2015, the FTC asked the court to hold Law and CPU in contempt of the YYB order.

The order announced today modifies the 2014 order, awards a judgment for the full amount of money taken from businesses, and requires payment of Law’s remaining liquid assets to the FTC.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Division, entered the contempt order on October 30, 2015.

Small businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy to get help in new bill

New bill approved by Congress Monday could make it easier for small businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy to apply for federal assistance.

Authored by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the bill allows many small firms in New York and throughout the country to seek emergency loans from the Small Business Association.

Given the SBA’s slow response following Sandy in 2012, the assistance is long overdue, Velázquez said.

“The fact is the SBA was caught flatfooted when Sandy came ashore and small businesses seeking relief suffered because of the agency's slow response," Velázquez said. "This new law will mean entrepreneurs in New York and up and down the East Coast will get another chance to apply and be made whole through the SBA's loan process."

According to a study done by Velázquez’s office, Sandy businessowners waited on average 46 days for SBA applications to be processed — three times as long as it took SBA to process applications for prior storms.

Velázquez’s bill will also streamline SBA’s lending procedures to give businessowners better information up front on what kind of help they are likely to get.

Read more at: Dailynews

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to Solve Problems in Your Business

Solving problems is a central issue in business ownership. In fact, you might say that business itself is a series of problems waiting to be solved.

But, when it comes to finding the ideal approach, or the perfect process for solving any of the dozens of problems faced by the modern business, things get complicated.There are three methods for problem solving that have proven track records in the world of commerce. These are big ideas that have inspired countless companies both large and small.

Read more at:Bplans

Friday, November 20, 2015

How Your Reptile Brain Responds to Marketing

As the co-founder of SalesBrain, a neuromarketing agency, Patrick Renvoise has spent years helping global companies like Boeing, BMW and even NASA sell more and do more, by understanding the science of attention. We caught up with him in advance of his keynote at eMarketer Attention! 2015.

eMarketer: What's one of the most fascinating things you’ve learned about the human brain and how we pay attention?

Patrick Renvoise: That it’s all about the reptilian brain! Many years ago I read in a neuroscience book that the reptilian brain was the center of attention and that it played a key role in our perception and ultimate decisions. It then took me several years to understand the implications for sales and marketing, but one day I had a big “aha” moment. Since we all know that we need to sell to the decision-maker then we should be able to relate every sales and marketing activities to our reptilian brain.

Raed more at:businessusa

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Business Startup Checklist

What's in the Business Startup Checklist?
Every one of the tasks in our business startup checklist belongs to one of the following overarching objectives:

Free Business Startup ChecklistFind a good business idea
Test your business idea and do market research
Write a formal business plan (if you're seeking funding)
Brand your business
Make it legal
Get funded (only if you need it)
Set up shop
Market and launch your business

See? That's a list you can complete.
Don't forget: we're here to help! Ask us questions, or check out more of our member downloads for other great, free resources.

Read more at: Bplans

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Farmers Grant Fund: 2015 Request for Applications

Program Purpose
New York State has allocated $1 million in the 2015-2016 state budget for the second round of the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. Its purpose is to provide grants to support beginning farmers who have chosen farming as a career and who materially and substantially participate in the production of an agricultural product on their farm. These grants will help farmers improve profitability resulting in the growth of agribusiness and the concomitant tax revenues within the state.

Program HighlightsThe New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will help farmers improve farm profitability through one or more of the following goals:
  • Expanding agricultural production, diversifying agricultural production and/or extending the agricultural season;
  • Advancing innovative agricultural techniques that increase sustainable practices such as organic farming, food safety, reduction of farm waste and/or water use;
  • Creating or expanding partnerships with other entities such as farm operations, institutions or regional food-hubs for processing, selling and/or distributing agricultural products.
Grants may provide a minimum of $15,000 and a maximum of $50,000 for up to 50% of total project costs.

Inside Start-Up NY: Are tax breaks a valuable tool or an expensive waste of money?

Syracuse, N.Y. — The companies approved for the Start-Up NY tax break program in Central New York are working on an impressive array of technological innovations.

The firms are tinkering with DNA testing on brewing yeast, wood products that could replace iron and steel in skyscraper construction and new ways to detect sports concussions.

But three of the five companies were well under way in the region long before Start-Up NY came along, even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched the program as a way to help draw new businesses to the state.

That's allowed. Existing companies can participate if they're expanding.

Read more at: StartUpNY

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Should You Handle Unhappy Customers?

The old adage says “you can’t please everyone.”

However, when it comes to customer complaints, this is often one time you should try to set things right.

Not only that, but a customer complaint can be an excellent way to make your product or service better next time.

While the truth is that the customer may not always be right, a customer issue is almost always a chance to improve your business.

What can you learn from an unhappy customer, and how should you handle the situation?

What can you do when a customer complains about your product or service?

Assess the “weight” of the complaint

From the very beginning, try to weigh the severity of the issue.

While it is important to listen to all customer complaints, acknowledge that some customers will never truly be satisfied.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Fire Prevention for Small Businesses

Fire can have a devastating impact on small businesses and home-based-businesses.

A fire can race through a structure/business in a matter of minutes, giving the employer and employees little time to escape. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data for Texas for 2008,there were 23 work-related fatalities and 60 nonfatal cases requiring days away from work reported as a result of fires or explosions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.39 requires an employer with 10 or more employees to have a fire prevention plan.

A fire prevention plan must be:
• in writing;
• kept in the workplace; and
• available for employees to review.

Read more at: Tditexas

Friday, November 13, 2015

Prepare Your Office for Holiday Closures

Agility Recovery, a business disaster recovery firm, offers some good suggestions on preparing your small business to close during the holidays (or any time, really.) 

They include notifying clients and staff of all closures, changing out of office messages, making a list of all equipment that needs to be turned off, and reviewing deadlines. 

Read the whole post here.

10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service

Why are we as consumers so captivated by stories of great customer service? Perhaps it is because they serve as a much needed reminder that there are companies (and amazing support reps) who still care about their customers.

Every company says that their customers are their #1 priority, but stories show us that many businesses are ready, willing, and able to go the extra mile for each and every one of their customers.

As Benjamin Franklin would put it: “Well done is better than well said.”

Read more at:Entrepreneur

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Can You Create a Great App Without a Tech Background? One Entrepreneurial Mom Shows You How It’s Done

There’s something gutsy about starting an app or creating a product to solve a problem you wish could be solved for you personally. Not only are you seeking out a solution to your problem, you are inventing the solution itself.

With the creation of the MomCo app, Jillian Darlington did just that. MomCo brings mothers together for playdates and friendship, connects them with local businesses, gives them access to forums, and keeps them in the loop on local events.

Learn more at:Bplans

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Spot Pyramid Schemes Before You Sign Up

If you’ve ever been told that you could make easy money and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pyramid schemes often sound like enticing business deals, but fraudsters may use this “business model” - to take advantage of you. Before you invest your time and money, it’s important to ask good questions and do some research on the company.

Here are some typical characteristics of a pyramid scheme:

Emphasis on recruiting No genuine product or service is sold Promises of high returns in a short period of time Easy money or “passive income” (money you earn without doing anything) No demonstrated revenue from retail sales Find more information on identifying pyramid schemes and how to protect yourself at:investor

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Technical Guide Won't Teach You What We Learned Starting a Radio Station

Like most other community radio stations, Radio Boise is a not-for-profit organization. While there is a small paid staff of seven people who help run the station—both part time and full time—the deejays are all volunteers. There’s also a small group of steadfast individuals, including community members, who help keep the station up and running. In 2003, when Radio Boise was in its infancy and only just banding together as a team of like-minded individuals, it was known as the Boise Community Radio Project. It wasn’t until 2011 that the station actually went live on the FM airwaves.

1. Volunteer organization is challenging
It’s kind of like herding cats. That is, you have to accept contributions in bite-size proportions. Continuity is often obtained via chains of volunteers, as opposed to leaning heavily on individuals, for example. That being said, the leadership team that makes up any organization is extremely important, and Radio Boise is no different. Here are a few important management characteristics to remember: Human leaders are more relatable than sterile, robotic management, so it’s important to be human and transparent, along with showing empathy and practicing good listening.


Monday, November 09, 2015

Network and Learn

Interested in networking and learning from others? Tuesday is CX Day, a day full of live and online events devoted to learning from customer service innovators and sharing strategies. So whether you need help justifying the importance of customer service training or just need to sharpen your company's customer service skills, there's something for you.

View a full list of live and online CX Day events at: cxday

Friday, November 06, 2015

7 Reasons You Need to Be Using Social Media As Your Customer Service Portal

When most marketers and business owners think about the advantages of social media for their business, they think about attracting new customers to the business. Smart business owners and marketers focus on relationship building, either through regular content marketing or by having conversations with customers who are already familiar with the brand.

Straightforward and effective, this type of strategy has helped thousands of businesses spark new life into their marketing campaigns—but I believe social media has a much broader potential for business development and customer retention.

Customer service is evolving to match the rapid growth and development of new communication media, and today’s most popular social media platforms are the perfect opportunity to capitalize on that trend. When today’s customers try to get in touch with a customer service representative, they encounter various challenges:

*Find and call a phone number. Unless the number is immediate, just finding the number can be difficult. Wait times, lengthy unproductive conversations, and multiple call transfers are all disadvantages that can leave a sour taste in your customer’s mouth.

Read more at:forbes

Thursday, November 05, 2015

New York Veteran Entrepreneurs Honored During National Veterans Small Business Week Nov. 2-6

Thom Besch
President of Veteran Solar Systems
A native of Rensselaer County, Thom Besch came home to the Capital Region after a 26-year career serving in the U.S. Army. After retiring as a Colonel, Thom apprenticed in a local solar business for four years before launching his own startup solar firm, Veteran Solar Systems, in February of 2014. Thom’s company employs up to five employees and serves mainly residential customers in a one-hour radius of Albany. Resources like the SBA’s Boots to Business training program, SBA’s Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Director Amy Amoroso in Albany, and incubator space at the Watervliet Arsenal have contributed to Veteran Solar’s continued success.

“I came back because this is where my family lives. In trying to decide what I wanted to do next, I thought about defense contracting and changing uniforms for a coat and tie. I believed in the missions and units I was a part of, and I wanted to do something afterwards where I was contributing to something important. After some soul-searching, for me it was renewable energy,” says Thom Besch, President of Veteran Solar Systems. “My business counselor Amy Amoroso connected me with the Watervliet Arsenal for great office space and help with marketing and more from its McNulty Center for Veteran Entrepreneurial Activity. I discovered there are a lot of people willing to help veterans in business; you just need to make the connections and reach out. After being in the military where you always have a boss, no matter what your rank is, it’s nice to have control over your own destiny.”

SBA interviewed Thom about his experience as an entrepreneur and posted the interview on YouTube.

Barry Moore
Owner of JNB Foods
and Amy Amoroso
NYS VBOC Director
After his enlistment in the U.S. Navy in the 1970’s, Albany-native Barry Moore worked as a commercial painter. In between painting jobs, he took the U.S. Postal Service civil service exam and passed with high marks. Barry spent the next 32 years at the Postal Service, rising from clerk to executive, by building a strong background in leadership and management skills.
“In 2011, I decided it was time for something else. I retired and rode off into the sunset on my Harley. But when winter time came and I couldn’t ride, I sat down with my brother and my son Jason to talk about taking my bruschetta into the marketplace. We financed everything ourselves to get started as JNB Foods and were struggling. The spring of 2012 we found help with business planning from Amy Amoroso,” explains Barry Moore. “Our first production was 20 cases of bruschetta and apple corn salsa for the Women’s Expo here in Albany and we sold out. One month later, I had a phone call from a dietician at Shop Rite who had attended the Women’s Expo. She invited us to pitch our products with the store manager and we had our first major success. We were in the right place at the right time.”

When JNB Foods was ready to grow to meet rising demand, Moore used the research resources available at the Albany Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to develop his business plan when he attended their SEED Program in 2012. Today, JNB’s foods are sold in specialty and grocery stores across New York State. Their products such as pineapple salsa and cranberry chutney live up to their company slogan of “Natural. Healthy. Delicious.” In addition to business counseling with New York State VBOC Director Amy Amoroso, Moore also found assistance from the Albany SBDC for trade missions to China with SBA’s STEP program and product placement through Taste of New York stores in Puerto Rico.