Friday, July 29, 2016

Pokemon Go Is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales at Small, Local Businesses.

From Inc

The speed at which Pokemon Go has spread is unprecedented. Less than a week after launch, this augmented reality mobile exploration game has been installed on twice as many phones as Tinder, it has double the engagement of Snapchat, and it is eclipsing Twitter in its percentage of daily active users.

People are spending so much time journeying around looking for Pokemon that getting sore legs from playing for hours on end has practically become its own meme.

Smart businesses have caught on too. As Pokemon Go users traverse their towns in search of Pokemon, local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses are capitalizing on this massive opportunity, driving huge amounts of foot traffic and conversions both with simple in-app purchases and creative marketing campaigns.

To start turning the ambulating gamers around you into your new best customers, all you need is to know how to play the game.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Preventing a Cyber Attack at Your Enterprise

From Zadar Storage

Preventing a cyber attack should be one of, if not the main goal of your IT department. Your press releases need to focus on things like your outstanding awards, exciting new product lines, and the addition of stellar new industry talent to your roster. You don’t want to be issuing press releases trying to explain how you leaked 1,500 customer identities or allowed other sensitive data to be exposed to the deep recesses of the Dark Web (like the much feared and dreaded Panama Papers) — or worse, published on the searchable Internet at large (Sony and Ashley Madison ring any bells?).


These kinds of press releases don’t start in your PR department, they begin at the IT drawing board. Security is no longer something businesses can afford to pile on to their existing IT infrastructures like icing on a cupcake. Security has to be included in the batter and baked into the IT infrastructure at the storage, application, and network levels. Only then is it ready to face the scary user level, not to mention the horrifying customer-facing level. Here’s how to assure a cyber attack doesn’t cause your IT department and the folks in PR some sleepless nights and a round of not-so-flattering press releases.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

NY SBDC Growth Company of the Year - Daughter for Hire

Daughter for Hire LLC, run by Kathleen Rutishauser and Denise Flihan, provides companion care services to senior citizens in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties. The company provides the types of services that allow senior citizens to remain living in their own homes, rather than move prematurely to a nursing home facility, including meal preparation, grocery shopping, assistance with medical appointments, medication reminders, laundry, housekeeping, companionship and advocacy. The company has evolved from a sole proprietor, home-based company into a partnership with an office in Clinton, and revenues that grew by more than 300% from 2013 to 2015. Kathleen and Denise project continued growth of 50% in 2016, which is well beyond the norm of 6% in the personal care industry. Their success is due to the fact that they present themselves as a more professional, polished and compassionate group of caregivers than their competitors. The SBDC has worked with them from the beginning, providing business plan and start-up assistance, and other advice

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Your small business’ marketing sucks

From the New York Daily News

The formula for business success is simple but not easy. At the core, once you have your product or service figured out, your marketing plan should be a natural progression.

In fact, we would challenge the thinking that your business plan and marketing plan are one in the same to a certain extent.

Some small businesses may say, "I don't really need any marketing right now, we are doing alright."

While, you can't argue with a business that has a stable customer base, you have to consider the philosophy that extending the opportunity beyond the first transaction is where the lifetime value of your customer is increased. More sales equals more profits.

After all, marketing is what you do to create awareness for your product or service, and that awareness should be continuous.

Monday, July 25, 2016

What Kids Can Learn from Being Entrepreneurs

From Bplans.com

You think an allowance will help kids learn about how to manage their money? Try being a business owner.

Understanding both personal and professional finances is one of the most important life lessons to learn—the earlier the better. By having a good grasp on spending, saving, budgets, and margins, you show you’re knowledgeable and responsible with money.

Nothing’s cuter than a tween (with the assistance of her father) handing you a contract and telling you that she will clean and service a machine every month if you give her rent-free space to place it.

Truly understanding what you’re selling displays confidence and credibility, as does truly believing in it. Comprehending the ins and outs of your product and business shines through when speaking with customers and clients.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Small Business Recruiting and Hiring Guide

From NECTjobs, which offers a FREE "collection of resources and introductory articles will help guide you on your journey in recruiting new employees for your business."

Depending on job market conditions, a single job posting could receive hundreds of applicants. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because the higher the number of applicants, the wider the prospective talent pool becomes. It’s bad because a higher number of applicants means more clutter.

A large selection of candidates increases your chances of finding the best fit for your business. With so many candidates, you can stack up their resumes against one another and find the best of the lot. This scenario has significant advantages over a job posting with only a handful of applicants to choose from.

Receiving a large number of candidates requires more effort on your side. Hundreds of job applications necessitates a lot of sorting to find top talent – After all, golden candidates may be buried at the bottom of the pile. As you can imagine, sorting applications takes time. In such situations, it often becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Writing About Technology in Your Business Plan

From Bplans.
Often, a business plan introduces a new technology that requires some explaining.

On one hand, as a reader of business plans for investors, I see way too many business plans that ask a reader to wade neck-deep through technology to get to the business. That’s a great way make your reader run in the other direction! It’s a business plan, not a term paper or thesis. Establish technology as a differentiator, when it is. Tell me about it in relation to its importance to the business. Don’t force me to understand it when I don’t need to.

On the other hand, as a writer, manager, and user of business plans as tools for steering a business, I believe you should discuss your technology in the plan for any business. Even if technology isn’t the driving force of your business or your main differentiator, these days, almost all businesses have to manage technology as part of branding, marketing, and communications.

To the extent that technology matters, I want to see it in the priorities and in specific milestones. Are we developing what we should? Are we using what we should? Are we competitive with tools and process?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Entrepreneurial Operating System®

From EOS:


EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, is a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. Implementing EOS will help you and your leadership team get better at three things:

Vision—getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going, and how you plan to get there

Traction®—instilling focus, discipline, and accountability throughout the company so that everyone executes on that vision—every day

Healthy—helping your leaders become a more cohesive, functional, healthy leadership team

Thousands of entrepreneurial companies around the world are running on The Entrepreneurial Operating System®. Their owners and leaders are getting more of what they want from the business, and you can too.

The EOS Toolbox™ is a complete set of 20 FREE tools, addressing and strengthening all Six Key Components™ of any business. These management tools for business leaders are designed to be easy to learn and use, because complexity reduces effectiveness.

NY SBDC Biomedical Company of the Year – Topical BioMedics

For more than 21 years Topical BioMedics has dedicated itself to helping the multitudes of people suffering with pain  achieve robust healthy living. The company’s flagship product, Topricin® Pain Relief and Healing Cream, which was introduced in 1994, is now a leading natural therapeutic brand. Topricin was developed by Lou Paradise, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who is the company’s president and chief of research, to treat his own painful case of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and relieve the effects of traumatic injuries. Lou’s wife Aurora, the Chief Operating Officer, oversees the daily operations including staff management, purchasing, and inventory. The company’s warehoAuuse is populated by 17 full-time and two part-time employees. The Paradises first consulted the SBDC in the aftermath of 9/11 for help in applying for a disaster loan from SBA. Recently they’ve returned to the Mid-Hudson center to assistance with business expansion. So far, sales are up 30% over 2015, and the company is poised for accelerated growth in the months ahead.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Come up with Hundreds of Business Ideas

From Bplans:
For some people, coming up with ideas is as easy as spotting chewing gum on the sidewalk. For others, it’s nearly impossible.

For me, new idea generation isn’t just easy, it’s something I’m doing all the time and often without trying. I do not believe this is an innate ability, but rather a “skill” that I’ve learned and practiced over the entire course of my life.

While this “learning” has primarily been subconscious, as I’ve run into more and more people who struggle to come up with new ideas, I’ve made an effort to become conscious of how I do it and where I do it best. The fact that research on the subjects of creativity and innovation has become so popular certainly helps too.

I fully believe that anyone who puts in enough practice and who makes a conscious effort to notice problems and identify needs, can improve their ability to come up with new ideas.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Company Research: Corporate Filings

From Kresge Library Services
Financial Reports and Disclosure Documents
To obtain a better understanding of a business entity's current condition, examine the actual legal documents and financial statements filed with government agencies or regulatory organizations
Note: Consult international company registers for U.S. private company information
In the U.S. private companies do not have to disclose any information about their operations. However, the game changes when they are operating abroad. Some countries' legal framework might require them to be more revealing.

International
Every country and securities exchange has different company financial disclosure requirements. To locate filings and documents:
Determine a company's country headquarters or the exchange where it trades stock
Consult a country's business entity registration office, its securities regulatory commission and local stock exchange

Friday, July 15, 2016

"My best employee quit on the spot because I wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation"

From Ask A Manager -
A reader writes:

I manage a team, and part of their jobs is to provide customer support over the phone. Due to a new product launch, we are expected to provide service outside of our normal hours for a time. This includes some of my team coming in on a day our office is normally closed (based on lowest seniority because no one volunteered).

One employee asked to come in two hours after the start time due to her college graduation ceremony being that same day (she was taking night classes part-time in order to earn her degree). I was unable to grant her request because she was the employee with the lowest seniority and we need coverage for that day. I said that if she could find someone to replace her for those two hours, she could start later.

She asked her coworkers, but no one was willing to come in on their day off. After she asked around, some people who were not scheduled for the overtime did switch shifts with other people (but not her) and volunteered to take on overtime from others who were scheduled, but these people are friends outside of work, and as long as there is coverage I don’t interfere if people want to give or take overtime of their own accord. (Caveat: I did intervene and switch one person’s end time because they had concert tickets that they had already paid for, but this was a special circumstance because there was cost involved.)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The high-tech industry, what is it and why it matters to our economic future

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

High-tech industries are an important part of the U.S. economy, employing nearly 17 million workers in 2014. While this accounted for about 12 percent of total employment, the high-tech sector contributed almost 23 percent of output. According to a study funded by the Workforce Information Council, the high-tech sector can be defined as industries having high concentrations of workers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) occupations. Although the term high-tech has been notoriously difficult to define, as technology changes all the time, this analysis provides an approach to defining jobs that are in in this sector.

This issue of Beyond the Numbers applies the approach used by WIC to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on industry employment and output. It provides an overview of which industries make up the high-tech sector and analyzes historical and projected industry employment and output data from the BLS Employment Projections program. This article offers insights on the performance and composition of the high-tech sector and its significance to the U.S. economy.

Identifying high-tech industries
Although the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the government’s official industry classification, does not define high-tech industries, the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system defines certain occupations as STEM occupations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Small Business Success Story - Three Brothers Island Deli & Grocery

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

Johnny, Ray and John Saylak
Three Brothers Island Deli & Grocery
Staten Island SBDC

  Johnny, Ray and John Saylak opened Three Brothers Island Deli & Grocery in the fall of 2015. The deli offers Turkish, Greek and other Mediterranean specialty food products including unique regional teas, preserves and other packaged goods as well as traditionally grilled gyros and kebabs cooked in their kitchen. Two of the brothers, Johnny and John, are US Army veterans who continue to serve in the US military and work at the shop when their tours of duty allow; Ray owns a limousine service on Staten Island. Johnny, a 12-year army veteran, was stationed in Texas where he began creating a business plan with the assistance of the El Paso SBDC office. 

That office reached out to the Staten Island SBDC when the business needed financing, and Johnny was referred to Staten Island Advisor George Telmany. He reviewed their business plan and cash flow projections, verifying that they were realistic and clarifying the weekly revenues needed for a successful business. George told the clients about a newly created veteran loan program offered by the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation and they submitted an application. 

The clients were quickly approved for a $48,000 veteran loan at a 4% interest rate. As they were beginning the build out, they were faced with two unexpected problems: work on the NYC gas lines and extra work needed at the storage space they were leasing. Renaissance representatives conferred with George about the brother’s request for a loan increase of $25,000 to deal with these issues. Ultimately, an increase of $20,000 was approved, bringing the total investment for the project to over $150,000. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mindless crisis management commentary

From Disaster Resource Guide
Once a crisis occurs, the bloviating begins, mostly by PR people. Most of these uninformed comments leave the erroneous impression that if you do maybe three things right, quickly; the problem is over before it begins. It’s sort of like when you were a kid, seeing a show where people were shot for the first time, and saying, “Why didn’t they just quickly jump out of the way the moment they heard gun fire?” The moment you know it’s a crisis, you have, in fact, been shot.

What happens first is Mindless Crisis Management Commentary Errors, mostly made by PR people eager for the visibility such commentary provides.

Seems many of our public relations brothers and sisters know a whole lot less about the patterns of crisis than they let on, including many who write and blog about the subject.

Let’s start with the basic realities of crisis that the instant critics seem to miss or fail to care about. Or perhaps they are ignorant of what gives rise to crises in the first place. What we get instead is mindless commentary.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Small Businesses Leverage Their Size

From AIER:
Small businesses are an important part of our economy and communities, but often we incorrectly assume that their small size is necessarily a competitive disadvantage. Numerous articles have proclaimed the end of Main Street, arguing that “mom and pop” shops cannot compete with the low prices and one-stop shopping of big-box chains. Others have touted the benefits of small business to local economies, emphasizing our duty to support small firms in our communities. In both lines of discussion, small businesses are seen as passive entities, handicapped by their size in our large and increasingly global economy.

This brief takes a different view, showing that the most successful small businesses prosper because of rather than in spite of their size. These businesses often combine niche product offerings, superior customer service, a detailed understanding of local markets, and other attributes that larger firms are less able to capitalize on. After looking at some of the basic economics behind the advantages of smaller firms, this brief reports the results of in-depth interviews with small business owners and managers in New England, Philadelphia, and New York City and provides many examples that other small businesses can use when facing larger competition.

How small businesses prosper
At its core, a firm must gather information about its customers and market and make decisions based on that knowledge.

See also: Why Bigger is Not Always Better in Business

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Employee benefits, industries and occupations, and worker safety & health since 1980

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) initiated the annual Employee Benefits Survey (EBS) in 1979, covering medium-size and large private sector establishments. Respondents to the survey provide data on the coverage and provisions that their plans offer employees, and BLS analyzes the data and publishes statistics on those plans in, among other places, the Review. Data from the EBS began coming in and, together with data from other sources, informed the Review’s pages throughout the 1980s.


In 1915, when Commissioner Royal Meeker established the Monthly Review, the stated purpose of the new publication was to publish “the results of original investigations...[and] notices of labor legislation,” with attention paid to “the current work of this bureau [BLS], the other bureaus of the Department of Labor, or any other Government agencies dealing directly with labor matters.” In addition, the Review would “report [on] industrial accidents and occupational or industrial diseases…industrial and vocational surveys, the better housing of workingmen, and any other activities [aimed at] the betterment of industrial conditions...” In the 100 years since then, it can fairly be said that the Review has done that—and much more. Now the flagship journal of BLS, the Review has become the government’s foremost publication on labor economics,

Saturday, July 09, 2016

America's SBDCs Applaud US House Passage Of HR 5485

The US House of Representatives has passed HR 5485, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations for FY2017.  This bill, which funds the US Small Business Administration, includes $130 million in support for the 63 Small Business Development Center (SBDC) networks and their nearly 1,000 centers across the United States and in DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.  
"We particularly want to thank Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw for his support. This funding increase will enable SBDCs to expand and improve our ability to assist small businesses nationwide, small businesses that are the vital foundation of our national economy.  Every day small businesses face challenges with access to capital, sales, marketing, and a host of other issues. This funding will make sure that SBDCs are there to help them grow and create jobs"

Friday, July 08, 2016

What Trends Are Marketers Trying This Year?

From eMarketer

It’s not surprising that personalized marketing is top-of-mind for many marketers. Personalization can drive engagement and conversions.

June 2015 research from the CMO Council found that higher response and engagement rates were the No. 1 reason to use personalized content, according to more than half of senior marketers worldwide surveyed.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Business Incentive Programs (New York State)

From Empire State Development
The state has created several tax-free programs including START-UP NY and the Innovation Hot Spot Program. These programs assist businesses that are forming, expanding or locating to New York State for the first time. As part of both programs, businesses interact closely with universities and have the opportunity to operate taxfree for a specified amount of time in order to facilitate growth while promoting entrepreneurialism and job creation in communities across the state.

New York State Certified Business Incubator and Innovation Hot Spot Program

Administered by ESD’s Division of Science, Technology & Innovation (NYSTAR), the New York State Certified Business Incubator and Innovation Hot Spot Program was enacted as part of the 2013-14 State Budget and provides financial support for business incubators in the state in order to support entrepreneurial activity. Through a competitive process, ESD has designated 10 Innovation Hot Spots (one
for each of New York State’s 10 economic development regions) and 20 Certified Business Incubators and provides funding to expand services and assist a greater number of early stage companies. These designees are operated by universities, colleges or not-for-profit organizations and coordinate regional incubation activities while focusing their services on a particular industry of strategic interest to that region.

The program is helping to stimulate the creation and growth of early stage companies by improving the availability of necessary support and services in all regions. These include: physical space; shared administrative staff; access tocapital; coaching; mentoring; networking connections; prototype development; and access to other technical services. In addition, client businesses of the Innovation
Hot Spots have access to tax benefits to assist them through their early growth stage. In its second year and with 20 of the current 30 designees in operation and reporting, the program created and retained 1,387 jobs.

START-UP NY

The START-UP NY incentive program partners New York State’s large network of public and private colleges and universities to new, growing and relocating businesses by providing no state and local personal
income taxes for 10 years. By linking new and growing businesses with colleges and universities, START-UP NY provides a unique opportunity for these businesses to take advantage of various resources available at academic institutions – including clean labs, advanced machinery and equipment, 3-D printers, and audio and video equipment – and benefit from connections to faculty and students.