Monday, August 20, 2018

Number of Women-Owned Employer Firms Increases

From the Census Bureau

Women-owned employer firms in the United States increased by approximately 2.8 percent in 2016 to 1,118,863 from 1,088,466 in 2015, according to findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs.
The data also shows that women-owned approximately 20.0 percent (1,118,863) of all employer businesses (5,601,758) nationwide. Additionally, about one-quarter (289,326 or 25.9 percent) of all women-owned employer firms were minority owned. More than half (approximately 153,177 or 52.9 percent) of these minority women-owned firms were Asian -owned.
 The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs provides a demographic portrait of the nation’s employer businesses by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. Tables released today provide estimates on the number of firms, receipts, payroll and employment for the nation, the states and the District of Columbia, and the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs is being folded into the Annual Business Survey. Announced in June 2018, this new survey will include an innovation content module and replaces the Survey of Business OwnersAnnual Survey of Entrepreneurs and Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey for Microbusinesses.
These data are currently available on American FactFinder. Data will be available on the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs web page under "Data" and "ASE Tables" soon.
For more information about the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, including survey design, methodology and data limitations, visit <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ase.html>.
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Complaining Customers Can Be Great For Business

Excerpt from an article by Jackie Dana
To read more, visit NameCheap

"Every business needs happy customers and clients to be successful. From repeat business to word of mouth, satisfied customers sustain your business and help it to grow.

But not every customer or client is going to be happy all the time.

Your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to view each complaint you receive as an opportunity to build your business and improve your customer relationships. Let’s take a look at how you can transform your angry customers into your biggest fans and become their hero."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How Marketers Are Using Original Research in Content

Excerpt from an article by Ayaz Nanji
To read more, visit MarketingProfs

"Marketers are using original research primarily to create blog posts, infographics, and PDFs, according to a recent report from Mantis Research and BuzzSumo.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in January and February 2018 among 698 marketers from around the world (53% work for B2B firms, 16% for B2C firms, 26% for hybrid B2B-B2C firms, and 5% for governments/nonprofits).

Respondents were surveyed on how their firms are using original research, which was defined as research published to gain attention from external audiences (benchmarks, salary guides, etc.), not research conducted to meet internal needs (marketing plans, competitive analyses, etc.)."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Checklist for Choosing Business Software

Blog post from SBA.gov
by Anita Campbell

"Good software can enable your small business to increase sales by saving time and money while expanding capacity.

But you must choose wisely — because the wrong software can be an expensive mistake.

Here is my tried-and-true checklist for choosing software to support your business operations:

Testimonials from Businesses Like Mine

Find vendors with a meaningful number of testimonials from other small business owners. Look for testimonials from businesses like yours — businesses of roughly the same size, in similar industries and trying to solve similar problems.

A software package might work just fine for some businesses, however, it may not help fix your problem.

Financially Strong Vendor

For mission critical processes, I hesitate to put my company’s future in the hands of software or an app that may or may not be updated a year from now.

You see this problem with some mobile apps and content management system plugins. A year or two goes by and the plugins appear abandoned and don’t play nice with newer versions of the software. Plugins may have security issues that leave your business vulnerable to hackings. Or perhaps an app looked promising, but it’s still buggy and unreliable a year later. The more mission critical the need, the more you should insist on financially stable vendors that are committed to their software.

Easy to Use

When you use, for example, an inventory management package meant for large corporations, it might seem good because you’re getting lots of features and functionality. And isn’t more always better?

Not necessarily. If you have a small team, getting more features and functionality can leave you worse off. Why? Complexity.

Complexity means it can take your small team more time than they can spare to master the software because they wear six other hats. The result? Resentment, frustration, failure. Complexity also adds more cost to get the software installed and configured, — especially if you must hire a consultant to set it up or have to pay overtime.

Automation with Other Systems

Today you get the most value from cloud software that passes data and transactions automatically to other systems you use. Doing so lets you harness automation — and that saves money. The last thing you want is to have to manually re-enter data from one system to another.

Always look for software that integrates with other software in your business. Many vendors today list all third party integrations on their websites. Avoid developing your own custom integrations, because they can get costly.

Ability to Upgrade Seamlessly

Find software that meets your needs when you are small, but grows with you. When choosing software, I like to start with a simple affordable package, then upgrade to more features or capacity later. And you want to be able to do it seamlessly without switching vendors or going through a manual conversion process.

Free Trials and Low Risk Terms

Free trials enable you to do a hands-on evaluation for a week or two. After that, with a month-to-month payment plan, or the ability to cancel at any time, you’re not locked in. If the software doesn't work out, you at least don’t have to be stuck paying for it long term.

Follow the above six checklist points and you too can improve your operations with software."

Friday, August 10, 2018

Small Scale Food Entrepreneurship: Cornell's Technical Guide for Food Ventures

From the Cornell Food Venture Center:

The Cornell Food Venture Center provides assistance to validate safety and stability of food products entering the marketplace including:

-Lab Analysis for pH, water activity, and Brix of food and beverage products
-Process Authority approval and Scheduled Process: Product Review, Documentation, and Process Validation
-Resources for Nutrition Analysis, Co-packers, Packaging Suppliers, Shelf-Life Studies, and More!
-Regulatory Compliance: Registration and Licensing with State and FDA agencies
-Small Scale Food Entrepreneurship: A Technical Guide for Food Ventures
-Better Process Control School: Necessary certification for Acidified and Low Acid Food manufacturers.
-Food Science 101
-Presentations and workshops: Interested? Contact Shannon Prozeller

The Cornell dropbox link includes everything you will need to work with the university, register with the State and FDA, information on Small Scale Food Production and more.

Services such as process approval and filing, laboratory work and use of pilot plant facility are available on a fee-for-service basis. Prices vary depending on whether your business is registered in NY or outside NY.

NYS Food Venture Center/NECFE
Cornell University/NYSAES
630 W. North Street
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 787-2273

Information for this post provided by advisor Glamis Haro, in response to a colleague's queestion about tsting dog treats, so the testing isn't limited to human food.





Thursday, August 09, 2018

$12B farmer aid program status

I received a question regarding the announced $12 billion farmer aide program recently announced as a result with the tariff war. Naturally, I called my Congressman's office.

One of his aides reaached out to the USDA Congressional Liaison with the questions I asked. (Her questions in italics). They informed her that most of the responses will be included in the NOFA and the Regulation that is published by OMB by Labor Day, and that they cannot share additional details while it’s being deliberated at this time.

I will follow up after Labor Day.

1- How will farmers have access to the funds? Dependent on what commodities the farmer produces, if they grow something eligible for the Market Facilitation Program (soybeans, cotton, sorghum, wheat, dairy, or pork) then they’ll have to come into their USDA FSA county office to complete the necessary paperwork. More details to be released in the Regulation by OMB later this month.

2- Qualifications/Criteria for eligibility? More details will be released in the Regulation by OMB later this month. Only commodities above are currently eligible for direct assistance. Other commodities will be purchased to be used in our feeding programs/food banks, and others will benefit by our trade promotion branch of the announcement through their trade association.

3- How to apply? Will be released in the Regulation by OMB. USDA will issue more guidance for qualifying producers once the regulation comes out.

4- Expected time frame of when farmers can apply and when they can expect to receive funds? Beginning in September, extended throughout the fall.

5- What is the maximum amount farmers can be granted? To be included in the Regulation that will be released by OMB later this month.

6- Who specifically will be in charge of distributing funds? USDA. The FSA will handle the Market Facilitation Program (Direct assistance), AMS will handle the Food Purchased and Distribution Program (commodity buys), and FAS will handle the Trade Promotion Program.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Is the 609 Letter Really a Credit Repair Secret?

Written by LaToya Irby
Find more at The Balance

A 609 letter is one of the latest internet credit repair “secrets” that claim the ability to remove any kind of information from your credit report - even accurate information––based on a “loophole” in the credit reporting law. If you’ve been working to improve your credit, a 609 letter sounds like exactly what you need to get negative accounts taken off your credit report. What is a 609 letter and does it really work?

Credit bureaus collect consumer credit information from various sources, like banks, then resell that information to businesses who need to evaluate consumer credit applications. Credit bureaus are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which details what credit reporting agencies and information furnishers can and cannot do when they’re reporting consumer information. One of the credit bureaus’ responsibilities is to only include accurate and verifiable information in consumer credit reports.

Use of the 609 letter in credit repair is based on the credit bureaus responsibility to report only verifiable information.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Retirement in the Age of Uber



Excerpt from an article by Mia Taylor
To read more, visit The Simple Dollar

"There are many upsides to the gig economy and freelance work, like the flexible schedule, the autonomy of being your own boss, and, if it’s a side hustle, the ability to earn extra income to pay off bills or save for special purchases. But a path to a stable retirement does not appear to be among the benefits, at least for a lot of gig economy workers.

Betterment, an online investment platform, has just released new research focused on the finances and the future of retirement in today’s self-employed workforce. And it’s not all good news.

Their report looks at the nation’s dated retirement system, and how it has left gig economy workers unprepared. The study notes that the rise of the gig economy is fundamentally changing the way Americans earn, spend, and save for retirement, pointing out that the freedom and flexibility of the gig economy is nice now, but, for many, unsustainable over the long term."

Friday, August 03, 2018

Physical Stores Remain Go-To Channel for Discovery



Excerpt from an article by Jen King
To read more, visit eMarketer

"For the most part, consumers have a game plan when they enter a store—they know what they intend to buy and stick closely to their shopping list. Still, in-store shopping has one advantage that online doesn't: the ability to see and feel items in person.

That's likely why many people end up spending more then they intended to.

A May 2018 survey conducted by AYTM Market Research for Blis asked 2,000 US internet users ages 18 and older whether they spent more than intended when shopping in-store."

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

How to Launch a New Brand: Five Tips for an Unforgettable Debut



Excerpt from an article by Stewart Hodgson
To read more, visit MarketingProfs

"Building a brand for your company is one of the most important things you can do as a marketer.

A brand allows you to differentiate yourself from industry competitors with a unique image, a memorable voice, and an identity that resonates with your target customers. But establishing and launching your own brand from scratch can be difficult—particularly when you're a startup with limited resources.

It can be tempting to rush through the process of market entry and start selling products as quickly as possible, but the way you introduce your company to your customers could have a huge impact on your potential for future sales. After all, you really do have only one chance to make a first impression."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Consumers Love Personalized Offers, but Only If They Opt In

Excerpt from an article by Krista Garcia
To read more, visit eMarketer

"According to an April 2018 survey of US internet users by verification services company SheerID and Kelton Global, more than two-thirds of respondents said an offer just for them is more important than a promotion sent to everyone, and 94% would take advantage of an offer that wasn’t made available to the public at large.

What would these consumers do if they were given an exclusive offer? Nearly half said they would make a purchase sooner than normal, while 41% would look for products to buy so they could use the offer, and 38% would treat themselves to something they wanted but didn't really need. This would be the nudge to make a purchase, but fewer would spend more or buy a more expensive product.

As many studies have shown, consumers want personalized offers, but they also want control over how much a brand or retailer knows about them."

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Sharing Economy Boom: What it Means for the Supply Chain

Excerpt from an article by Megan Ray Nichols
To read more, visit Thomasnet

"You probably already know about consumer sharing services such as Uber and Airbnb. These services involve the peer-to-peer acquiring or providing of goods and services, which are selected by users via an online platform or app.

This system is mutually beneficial, since the people who rent out their cars or houses on these marketplaces and platforms can earn money and develop a positive reputation, and the people purchasing have a viable, often much more affordable and personalized alternative to traditional services.

When the greater economy subsides, the sharing economy rises. In these situations, people generally have less individual wealth to devote to temporary goods or services, prompting them to search for shared resources. The sharing economy is also growing as the supply chain shifts. Consumers now expect fast deliveries, from anywhere in the world. As a result, shared fulfillment centers and trucking are gradually becoming the new reality."

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Paypal is a Serious Small Business Lender

Excerpt from an article by Bob Coleman
To read more, visit ColemanReport

"Paypal, Amazon and Alibaba pose more of a threat to traditional lenders than the Fintech industry.

As Fintech ebbs and flows, these high tech giants are starting to put up some serious small business lending numbers. Amazon just passed $3 billion.

Last year Paypal also topped $3 billion in small business lending in the United States.

In the US, PayPal offers two financing programs, including one that is similar to the UK program, which takes a percentage of merchants’ PayPal revenue and is underwritten primarily on PayPal sales without a credit check. The other program available in the US is closer to a conventional business loan, taking into account a variety of credit factors and repaid with weekly payments from a business bank account."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Here’s what happens when startups go wrong

Article by Scott Kirsner

Read more in the Boston Globe

When things start going south at a startup, no one wants to talk about it.

The stream of self-congratulatory press releases and social media messages dries up, and executives suddenly stop replying to interview requests. Laid-off employees have typically been asked to sign nondisparagement agreements, so they clam up, too.

Those reasons combine to make it tough to write about the most challenging stage of a startup’s existence: when it has burned through its bankroll, and will either die, get acquired by another company, or figure out some way to survive.

[Cue Gloria Gaynor]

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Rise of Robots in Industry 4.0

Excerpt of an article by Megan Ray Nichols
To read more, visit Thomasnet

"According to recent studies, approximately 2.6 million industrial robots will be active by 2019 — or one million more units than just a few short years ago. It's a record-setting pace that yields mixed reactions from the public. While some are skeptical of the role of robots in the future workplace, others are more than willing to embrace industrial robots and all the opportunities they provide in Industry 4.0.

Big data is just as critical to Industry 4.0 as industrial robots. Many of these next-gen, AI-powered machines utilize advanced data sets to monitor day-to-day operations, provide recommendations, and even learn from their mistakes.

Robots are especially popular in predictive maintenance. By monitoring the condition of production hardware and comparing it to recent trends, industry benchmarks, and manufacturers’ specifications, automated robots diagnose machines before they fail. This functionality gives operators and technicians the opportunity to intervene before something goes wrong.

Robots aren't necessarily replacing the jobs of qualified professionals."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Home Health Care License

From Health.ny.gov

As part of the New York State Fiscal Year 2018‐2019 budget, a new law was enacted which places a two‐ year moratorium on the processing and approval of applications seeking the licensure of Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LHCSAs). This moratorium became effective on April 1, 2018 and will continue until March 31, 2020.  The full language of the moratorium can be found in Section 9‐e of Part B of Chapter 57 of the Laws of 2018.

To comply with the statute, no LHCSA application can be accepted for processing unless it meets one of the statutory exceptions.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Women's Earnings Lower in Most Occupations

Excerpt from an article by Amy Newcomb
To read more, visit Census.gov

"Women continue to earn less than men in nearly all occupations, but this is more pronounced in fields that predominantly employ men and in professions with a comparable mix of men and women. The largest pay gap is within the finance and sales professions.

Overall, women are also more likely to be employed in lower-paying jobs.

“The pay gap has narrowed over the last 50 years,” said Lynda Laughlin, chief of the Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau. `However, the gender pay gap continues across the board in almost all occupations. In 2016, median earnings for women was $40,675, compared with $50,741 for men.'"




Friday, July 13, 2018

What to Do if Your Accountant Makes an Error

Excerpt from an article by Brian Eckert
To read more, visit Bplans

A certified, professional accountant can be a valuable partner to a small business at all stages, from formation, to financials, to the sale of the business. Handling your own accounting might seem like a money-saving strategy, but it may not be the best use of your time. Aside from that, do-it-yourself accounting can sometimes result in expensive mistakes.

Paying a professional can have benefits that far outweigh the added costs. But if an accountant makes an error or gives advice that has financial consequences for your business, it can create the sort of setback you were hoping to avoid by hiring a pro in the first place.

As the business owner, you may incur liabilities or suffer losses that stem from an accountant’s negligence. If this happens, you may be able to hold the accountant legally responsible for financial losses that their actions (or failure to take action) result in.

Suing isn’t always the first, best, or only course of action. But if your accountant made a costly error and is unwilling to set things right, you should understand your legal rights and options.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

What is Dropshipping, and Is It Best for Your Online Retail Business?

From MarketingProfs

As an online retailer, you have many options for fulfilling orders from customers, so it's important to figure out which business model is best for your goals.

In this article, we'll cover the difference between dropshipping and other order-fulfillment options. We'll also detail the pros and cons of each order-fulfillment method so you can decide which option is right for your business and needs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Save Magnolia Park, Burbank, CA

From News from ME:

I do not live near "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" (as the great Gary Owens called it) but I fear for it. What's going on there, as described in the video below, is happening all over this country. It's the squeeze-out of non-chain businesses being replaced by cookie-cutter corporations.

From YouTube:

The retro charm of Burbank's unique shops is what makes Magnolia Boulevard a must-visit destination for all. Beloved by the community and visited by people worldwide, we are now in danger of losing everything that makes this strip unique.