Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Getty Images Makes Its Pictures Free to Use

Getty Images, the premiere collection of professional quality photos on the Internet, has for years charged licensing fees to those who wanted access to its extensive portfolio, but that is changing.

In a surprise move, Getty Images is freeing up around 35 million photos from its collection spanning over a hundred years so that websites and bloggers can post them without getting smacked in the face by a lawsuit. These images will not contain a watermark, though people who post them will need to use Getty's Embedded Viewer tool and abide by the company's Terms of Use. Acknowledging that its images have been widely pirated on the Web for years by users merely right-clicking on photos, Getty says the purpose of the program is to find new revenue streams for the photographers and the company.
                
Because the metadata remains with the image, users can click back to Getty Images for more information on the image or photographer or to license the image for other purposes. However, one cannot help but wonder whether this change will have a positive or negative effect on the company’s success. It's a real risk for the company, since it's easy to screenshot the new versions for those looking to get an unlicensed version on their hands.

Getty is a name most associate with photography and photojournalism. For them to change their business model so substantially comes as a bit of a shocker. For more on Getty Images’ changes, read  Getty Images Removes Watermarks

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recognizes 304 major U.S. employers as its 2014 "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality".

The list of top rated businesses has grown exponentially from 13 to over 300 since the report’s first launch in 2002. For twelve years, HRC has been working with Corporate America to maintain and establish best practice for LGBT inclusion, and this gathering of over 240 executives from top Fortune-ranked business, leading law firms, and other major employers reflects the absolute best in corporate leadership on LGBT equality. These are businesses that haven’t been waiting for legal mandates, but rather have extended equitable health insurance benefits to LGBT employees and their families, establishing a the new standard of truly inclusive employer-provided benefits, adding transgender inclusive health care coverage. This elite group of companies spans all industries, from manufacturing to banking, as well as all geographies.

Companies receiving the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” distinction scored 100 percent on the HRC Foundation’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index, the national survey of Corporate America’s treatment of LGBT workers.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Prepare, Respond and Recover...yep, there's an App for that....but...

I strolled through the paths of the web wilderness to cull some of my favorite lists of prepare, respond and recover apps for crisis and disaster management….but..you say…but what about...?


But What About …No Cell Service?

“Anyone that’s been through a natural disaster realizes cell service is often times one of the 1st things to go! Sometimes having good cell service is tough enough, so why would you bother downloading apps to your phone if a disaster is going to wipe them out?
Well, a lot of these apps once downloaded do not need to be connected to the internet or have cell service to run them. Many are informational apps and will still be able to show you how to do CPR, act as a flashlight, or pull-up important documents as long as they have battery power.”

Of course, you can’t count on cellular, Wi-Fi service or power to charge your batteries during a disaster, but even a partially charged phone may be able to show you how to do CPR, act as a flashlight or give you access to your insurance documents.

Get Your Go-Bag Ready-
(For more on this topic see our previous blog post (3/28/18) )

If you don't have a go-bag, make one now. Be sure to buy a handful of cheap, disposable backup batteries for mobile devices and throw them in your bag. Check out Ready.gov for what else an emergency kit should contain. Keep it packed and ready.
  
Here are some apps to help you before, during and after the next disaster. 

(more after the jump)

The Secrets of Great Client Relationships

Why does anybody swap suppliers? Sometimes it’s because there is a cheaper alternative but mostly it isn’t. Would you swap dentists because a cheaper one set up next door? This is very unlikely. In reality people keep the status quo and only move on for a reason and in most cases whether they stay or go is up to you.

Here are three of the most popular causes for client departures: 

-“Perceived indifference”: The client thinks you don’t care anymore even though you do. They feel neglected and can only look back with wistful fondness to the days when you were courting them and couldn’t do enough for them. They just want to be loved and cared for but sadly you’re just not hitting the spot any more.

-Poor quality: You simply aren’t delivering the quality they expect for the money they’re paying and because of point 1 above you don’t even know it. Regardless of the product or service you offer great quality is the best form of protection you can get.

-Knock-out deals: One of your competitors has a brain-wave and comes up with a new and innovative product that totally blows your client away. Sometimes this innovation can lower the price but keep the quality; sometimes the price is irrelevant.

If you would like to learn how to become better at improving or maintaining client relationships, please read: The Secrets of Great Client Relationships 

Blog Series - Affordable Care Act - Appeals

Now that Open Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is actually over, the appeal process has started.  Appeals can occur for many reasons, including eligibility, enrollment post-open enrollment,  lowering costs and increasing savings, and more.  The articles below from government agencies can help answer any questions you may have about your right to appeal.  Also provided is detailed information and forms to help you go through the appeal process.

Can I appeal a Marketplace decision? (Healthcare.gov)

Appealing Health Plan Decisions (US Department of Health and Human Services)

The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight - External Appeals (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services)


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Maria Contreras-Sweet is new SBA Administrator

This month, Maria Contreras-Sweet joined SBA as the next Administrator. Learn more about this champion for American entrepreneurs who understands what it means to start a small business, and who has a proven track record of helping other small businesses succeed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Top 5 Small Business Administration Resources for Veterans

These U.S. Small Business Administration resource partners have almost 1,500 locations across the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico to help veterans who want to start their own business or grow an existing business. All partners can advise veterans on small business loans and provide training and support on a wide variety of challenges small business owners face, from access to capital to marketing.

They include Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), which provide a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. SBDCs foster local and regional economic development through job creation and retention. SBDC clients receive free, extensive, one-on-one, long-term professional business advising, low-cost training and other specialized services.

More information from SBA.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reference for Business: Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd ed.

"The Encyclopedia of Small Business is a comprehensive and easily accessible reference source for entrepreneurs that demand practical information that can be applied to their own business. Small business owners can browse over the 600 articles that detail information about financial planning, market analysis, sales, business plans, tax planning, human resource issues and more.

"The Business Biographies are a superb tool for biographical information of industry leaders worldwide. We have over 600 in-depth essays that cover each individual's biographical information, career paths, achievements, leadership strategies and management styles.

"The Business Plans section is composed of actual business plans written by entrepreneurs in North America who are seeking financing for their business. This is a great resource for anybody needing examples on how to structure, compose, and write their own business plans.

"Finally, the Encyclopedia of American Industries is a comprehensive guide to industries in every realm of American business. We cover 459 manufacturing industries, and have over 500 essays about non-manufacturing and service industries."

The bad news about this source is that the latter three sections are quite dated, c. 2002.

The good news is that the articles are largely still general enough to be applicable. And the histories are still interesting, up to when they end.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Impact of New Technology in the Workplace

The continuous growth of new technology available for the workplace presents an atmosphere of rapid change that will not slow down any time soon in the near future. Numerous businesses have experienced the process of implementing new technologies and the various issues that creep up, from an overall lack of employee acceptance to unexpected minor malfunctions. The caveat is, despite some of the nuances, new technologies are necessary for a business to remain competitive, relevant, and increase profit margins.

The proper and efficient use of new technology in the workplace is crucial. The younger generations beginning to enter the workforce are tech savvy and widely accept the evolving nature of technology, but all employees need to be on board for a technological implementation to be successful and beneficial. One way of doing this is to provide plenty of training, specific for various departments if necessary, and during and after training to disperse an employee evaluations survey of how effective the training is and thoughts about the new implementations.

When implementing new technology, you require as many people on your team as possible. Technical difficulties can be avoided if you have a team or Agent to work with you during the implementations process. To learn more about the advantages of implementing technology into the workplace, read The Impact of New Technology in the Workplace

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SBA Announces National Small Business Week

WASHINGTON – Aspiring entrepreneurs, small business owners and others are invited to attend the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week events held May 12-16, 2014.
Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation through National Small Business Week. This year, events will take place across the country to engage the small business community and highlight their importance as innovators and job creators who strengthen the nation’s economy.
Activities will include forums and panels discussing trends in small business, business innovation, financing, growth, matchmaking events, as well as networking opportunities and award ceremonies. National Small Business Week will culminate in Washington, D.C., where the 2014 National Small Business Person of the Year will be named. Candidates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico will be competing for the award. Small business owners and their employees who attend will interact with federal government officials, local elected leaders, representatives from national businesses and other small business experts.

The cities and dates for National Small Business Week are as follows:
• San Francisco – May 12
• Kansas City – May 13
• Boston and Washington, D.C. – May 15
• Washington, D.C. – May 16

Throughout the week there will also be webinars and other live events. Interested individuals can register online at www.sba.gov/smallbusinessweek where additional information on National Small Business Week events will be made available. There will be a separate registration site for the San Francisco event; additional details will be provided at a later date. Events will also be live-streamed on SBA’s website at www.sba.gov.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Up With Labor Market Changes: The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Everyone deserves the opportunity to have an occupation that provides a decent standard of living. Increasingly, earning a middle class income requires that workers have a post-secondary credential and regularly upgrade their skills. The recession accelerated this occupational transformation.  For the nation’s economic well-being, workers and their communities need to adjust to the new realities of the labor market. However, evidence suggests a growing mismatch between worker capabilities and employer needs. Left unchecked, this gap will impair the economic health of the nation and its workforce.

To address this issue, U.S. labor markets require access to current, accurate, detailed statistics. Labor market participants—individuals, educators, and employers—and policymakers at all levels of government need good data to make informed choices about, for example, career paths, training programs, hiring, and public investments. At present, however, labor market participants and policymakers do not have the statistics they need.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the principal fact-finding agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. It is responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. The BLS is an independent national statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labor. The BLS also serves as a statistical resource to the Department of Labor.

BLS data satisfies a number of criteria, including relevance to current social and economic issues, timeliness in reflecting today’s rapidly changing economic conditions, accuracy and consistently high statistical quality, and impartiality in both subject matter and presentation. For more information on BLS or labor market activities, please visit http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Data Show Signs of Improvement in Small Business Lending

Data for the fourth quarter of 2013 show signs of improvement in small business lending. For the first time in fifteen consecutive quarters, both the value and volume of small business loans increased simultaneously—by 0.4 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. For details, see the Office of Advocacy’s Quarterly Lending Bulletin.

Friday, April 11, 2014

SBA Awards Grant to Fund Entrepreneurship Training for Veterans

WASHINGTON – As part of its “Boots to Business” program, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced this week that it has awarded a $3 million grant to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to deliver entrepreneurship education and training to transitioning service members.

“Veterans are a cornerstone of small business ownership,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who met with veteran small business owners within hours of starting at SBA on April 7. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. Veterans have the skills to adapt to many challenges and the leadership and discipline required to own and operate a small business. The SBA is committed to supporting our veterans as they transition back to civilian life and pursue the American Dream by starting businesses when they come home.”

Boots to Business is a three-step program developed to introduce transitioning service members to business ownership and connect them to support resources in their local communities. The curriculum provides valuable assistance for exploring self-employment opportunities by leading participants through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and the foundational knowledge required for developing a business plan.

Funding for the agreement will support instruction, curriculum development, and materials production for the program, which includes two-day courses on military installations and an instructor-led eight-week online course to introduce and prepare transitioning service members for business ownership and connect them to local SBA resources for continued support. The funds will also be used to extend Boots to Business to service members overseas.

The agreement with IVMF enables a consortium of 14 universities across the U.S. to provide instructors for the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program. IVMF will work closely with SBA and SBA resource partners, including the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers (WBC), SCORE and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), who provide essential instruction, mentorship, and access to capital counseling to program participants.

Boots to Business is a training track within the Department of Defense’s “Transition, Goals, Plans, Success” (Transition GPS) program that is designed to support service members as they transition to civilian life. Boots to Business began as a pilot in 2012, expanded nationally in 2013, and was appropriated $7 million in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget for sustainment and expansion. During the first full year of the program, more than 6,000 transitioning service members participated in the two-day “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” class on 140 U.S. military installations.

Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military. These veterans are natural entrepreneurs who possess the skills, experience and leadership to start businesses and create jobs.

Veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners. Nine percent of small businesses are veteran-owned. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employ more than five million individuals. In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

SBA currently engages veterans through its 68 local SBA district offices, 16 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, and its partnership with 1,000 SBDCs and some 12,000 SCORE Chapters.

Each year SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists start and grow their small businesses. To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit www.sba.gov/vets.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

FTC Warns Small Businesses: Don't Open Email Falsely Claiming to be From FTC

The Federal Trade Commission is warning small businesses that an email with a subject line "Pending consumer complaint" is not from the FTC. The email falsely states that a complaint has been filed with the agency against their company. The FTC advises recipients not to click on any of the links or attachments with the email. Clicking on the links may install a virus or other spyware on the computer.

The FTC’s advice: Delete the email. For more information on malicious software (malware), visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov/malware.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

SBA Improves Small Businesses Access to 7(a) and 504 Loan Programs; Enhances Job Creation

WASHINGTON— U.S. small businesses will gain improved access to two major government-guaranteed loan programs once a final rule to that effect issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration becomes effective April 21, 2014.

The SBA recently published a Final Rule on the Federal Register that eliminates or revises several requirements for its two main loan programs, 7(a) and 504. The rule expands eligibility, makes it easier for small businesses to secure SBA-backed financing, and encourages job creation.
“These 504 and 7(a) program enhancements will expand program eligibility and improve access to capital for small businesses. Improvements in CDC corporate governance oversight enhance program integrity and encourages more local involvement,” said Ann Marie Mehlum, SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of Capital Access.

The changes include, but are not limited to:
• Elimination of the personal resource test which benefits borrowers by adding flexibility in the management of their allocation of personal resources to the small business;
• Elimination of the nine-month rule for 504 eligible project expenses which allows businesses a longer timeframe in which to organize and initiate their small business project;
• Revised 504 loan program collateral requirements to allow Third Party Lender to take collateral in addition to Project collateral under certain conditions; and
• Enhanced CDC corporate governance requirements to ensure more board accountability and to reduce risks to the SBA portfolio.

For the full text of the Final Rule as published on the Federal Register, visit HERE.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Webinars – Writing a Good Business Plan, Building Business Credit, Applying for Business Loans

SBA and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp have teamed up for a webinar series this month to help entrepreneurs learn how to build business credit and how to prepare for a business loan. It's free, but registration is required.
• 5 Steps to Building Business Credit
Tuesday, April 22 | 2pm ET
>Click to register

• Access to Capital: Preparing to Meet Your Lender
Wednesday, April 30 | 2pm ET
> Click to register


AARP and SBA Webinar – The Secrets to Writing a Good Business Plan
Have you considered developing a plan for your small business? Learn why it is important to have a small business plan during this free, one-hour webinar on April 22 by joining AARP and SBA as we help age 50+ individuals get your small business up and running.
> Read more

Monday, April 07, 2014

NY SBDC Annual Report: "One business at a time"

From the report:

The strength of the New York Small Business Development Center and one of the things that sets it apart from other small business service providers is its
customized approach to technical assistance. Each entrepreneur or business owner undergoes an individualized assessment with his or her Business Advisor to determine the current situation, issues that need to be addressed, and the desired outcome. They gather information that the entrepreneur uses to make
decisions and take steps toward a productive and profitable future.They work together to develop a strategic plan of action.

Any resident of New York who wants to start a business – or stabilize and expand an existing one – can make an appointment with an experienced Business
Advisor at any SBDC Regional Center. He or she can find an SBDC office by calling a toll-free number or visiting the SBDC website. Potential clients can
request counseling via the website, and the service centers throughout the state offer flexible options for meeting with Advisors. Clients receive
personalized, confidential, and free business counseling; moderately priced training; and focused, accurate, and timely research related to his or her
business and the industry in which it operates.

Since the program was established in 1984, the SBDC has worked with more than 378,800 citizens of New York State. It has helped locate nearly $5.2 billion to start or expand businesses and helped create or save nearly 168,000 jobs.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Blog Series - Business Valuation - Customer List

One of the most difficult aspects of business valuation is setting a value to intangible assets.  Tangible assets are easier to set a monetary value to.  You know how much they cost to begin with and there are depreciation formulas to determine the value of tangible assets over time.  Intangible assets tend to start with no value, and then gain value over time.  Here is some information on how to value one of the most difficult intangible assets, a customer list.

Customer lists are about loyalty.  They are currently a customer because they like the service or product that is being provided by the current owners.  When you buy an existing business with a loyal following, and you plan on offering the same product or service before, the current customer list can be an essential building block to get your business rolling.  But how can a value be assigned to a list of names, addresses, and customer history?  Well, here are some tips.

Valuation of Customer-Related Assets

Due Diligence - Valuing Customer Lists

4 Steps for Calculating Customer Value

Value is in Customer Relations, not Customer List

Buying Customer Lists

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Don't gig for free

My musician/artist friends are forever complaining when governments and corporations want them to "contribute" their services for nothing. "But it'll be great exposure" is the usual response. If you do so, you will be stuck with a lot of unpaid gigs.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Not waiting for customers to complain

From Now I Know:

At the end of 2013, the United States Department of Transportation released its monthly ranking of airlines based by on-time performance. It was bad news for Southwest Airlines, which performed poorly, coming in last on the list for two straight months. The methodology used to make this determination was somewhat controversial – the inspector general of that very same agency stated as much – but if you’re an air traveler whose flight was delayed significantly, that’s hardly any solace.

But that’s OK. When it comes to apologies and explanations, Southwest has a guy for that. His name is Fred Taylor, and he’s sorry your flight didn't work out as planned.

Even if you weren't going to make a stink about it.