Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Food Companies May Say Goodbye To "Sell-By" And "Expiration" Labels : The Salt : NPR

Food Companies May Say Goodbye To "Sell-By" And "Expiration" Labels : The Salt : NPR

Years ago, the UK had similar rules regarding sell-by and use-by dates. They also had a habit of wrapping fresh produce, so a bunch of bananas would be wrapped in a thin plastic bag or 2 zucchini would be on a styrofoam plate wrapped in plastic - with a sell-by date. (So much packaging of produce was a contentious issue then too.)

I remember a bomb had gone off in Ealing in West London and had blown out all the windows of a supermarket. On the news we watched as fresh, yellow bananas filled the backs of garbage trucks. Piles of fruit was discarded because, by law, the grocer had to throw away any food that was past its sell-by date. It caused an uproar but I don't think anything changed at that point. It seemed a simple enough solution to take the produce out of the bag. But laws are laws and instead it was piled into garbage trucks and hauled off.

Expiration dates are often confused and lead to a great deal of food waste. In the US, industry groups are looking to correct that with labeling that clarifies if food is in peak quality, past peak and actually unsafe, hopefully reducing the amount of food wasted. 

Consumers prefer physical coupons

From eMarketing:

Despite Americans’ broad embrace of smartphones, mobile coupon usage has not become as widely and commonly used as might be expected.

According to eMarketer’s most recent estimates, only about half of all mobile device users in the US have redeemed a mobile coupon even once in the past year.

While the number of US mobile coupon users is expected to increase 10.2% to total 123.0 million this year, modest growth is projected in the coming years.

Meanwhile, paper coupons are still far more commonly used.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Linda McMahon Confirmed By Senate as SBA Administrator

The U.S. Senate confirmed on Tuesday, February 14 the nomination of Linda E. McMahon as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

"Small businesses are the engine of our national economy," McMahon said upon her confirmation. "I will work to revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in America. Small businesses want to feel they can take a risk on an expansion or a new hire without fearing onerous new regulations or unexpected taxes, fees and fines that will make such growth unaffordable. We want to renew optimism in our economy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Impulse Purchases Still Happen Mostly In-Store—For Now

From eMarketing

There are lots reasons consumers don’t like shopping at physical stores, including challenges with comparison shopping and long checkout lines. But if there’s one thing people do prefer to do in a brick-and-mortar setting, it’s to make impulse purchases.

However, recent trends in e-commerce suggest this could change in the near future.

A January 2017 survey by CreditCards.com found that 68% of US consumers said their primary location for making impulse buys was “in person in a store.”

Digital methods were much less preferred.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

National Entrepreneurship Week

From here:
Don't miss Microsoft's National Entrepreneurship Week, February 20-24th, 2017. Don't miss their free webinars and you can follow on Twitter at #WININBIZ.

2/22 at 9am PT: The Power of Referral Marketing: How to get your customers talking
Tapping into your existing customer base could be the key to new business growth. 
On the next episode of Office Small Business Academy, learn about the power of referral marketing, and how to design a program that works for your business.

2/22 at 10am PT: Staying Ahead of the Curve: Technologies that Adapt with your business
It used to be that as your business grew, you'd have to increase your technology budget to meet your growth needs. Not anymore. Join the Microsoft's presentation the Staying Ahead of the Curve: Technologies That Adapt with.

2/23 at 10am PT: Small Business Webinar: 3 Tips for remaking your online professional presence
Learn how Yelp and Office 365 can help you connect with customers
With 82% of Yelpers searching because they intend to buy a product or service from a local business, making a good impression is essential to making the sale. Join us for the Small Business Makeover: 3 Tips for Remaking Your Online Professional Presence webcast. You'll learn about some of the Yelp and Microsoft tools the experts use to boost their business.
Register Now

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Will Trump's Tax Plan Benefit Small Businesses?

Because of a Republican-held Congress, and the new Trump administration, there has been talk on a new tax reform. In fact, according to Steven Mnuchin, Trump's [now confirmed] pick to head the Treasury department[now confirmed],that there will be  two comprehensive tax reform plans under this administration. But how will all this affect small business? 

President Trump has repeatedly said that he will cut corporate taxes down to 15%. But most small businesses are in the form of S-corps- partnerships and limited liability corporations (LLC). In response to this, the two plans propose three tax brackets- 12%,25%,and 33%. And to repeal the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)- which, according to the IRS, " applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates and trusts that have income above the statutory threshold amounts."

With the Trump plan,businesses will be able to elect a max rate for business income at 15%. "The Blueprint" allows for 25%. According to Entrepreneur, "small business owners could realize a savings of up to 28.4 percent on their K-1 income from the companies they own."

To learn more about "The Blueprint" or Trump's tax reform and how it can affect your small business, check out this piece by Entrepreneur.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cross-Border Shoppers Worldwide Favor PayPal

From eMarketer:

When it comes to shopping online, consumers have a variety of different payment methods they can choose from. Most prefer PayPal—or something equivalent to it, like Stripe, Google Wallet or Amazon Payments.

October 2016 research from postal industry service provider International Post Corporation surveyed cross-border digital buyers across 26 countries. More than four in 10 respondents—who purchased goods online in the past three months and made a cross-border purchase online in the past year—said they prefer to pay for their online purchases via PayPal, or an equivalent service.

Matchmaker events in NY, CT, MA, NH, and VT

Recently, a client asked Judy Wolf, the NY SBDC's Government Contracting Coordinator, if there was a source the compiled information on all matchmaker events taking place in NY, CT, MA, NH, and VT. 

Unfortunately, she wasn't aware of such a resource. Fortunately (for the rest of us), she pulled together some really useful information for those states.

From Judy:

In NYS, matchmaker events tend to be coordinated on an agency-by-agency basis. For NY, I'd recommend getting on the mailing lists for the agencies that most frequently organize them, such as the regional PTACs and the SBA.

I do know of the following:

•    March 28 North Country PTAC Matchmaker in Watertown: http://www.wbenc.org/calendar-all/2017/3/28/2017-north-county-ptac-matchmaker-ny
•    The SBA Albany Matchmaker this year is June 20: https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/ny/syracuse/resources/albany-matchmaker-expo
•    The SBA Buffalo Matchmaker looks like it's going to be May 10 this year
•    The Monroe County PTAC is holding a matchmaker Oct 25 this year. Information will be posted on their web site.
•    The NY SBDC will be working with Supplier Connection to host a matchmaker event with private industry in the fall, so stay tuned for that!
•    There's a DoD Northeast regional matchmaker event taking place in RI on Mar 23: http://www.ribusinessmatch2017.org

I also contacted the following asking about any known resources compiling matchmaker events in the other states you listed:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why Small Businesses Should Consider Bitcoin

There are numerous advantages and challenges to introduce Bitcoin and Blockchain technology to your small business. Today we see companies like Dish, Overstock, Microsoft, Dell, and more start to accept bitcoin as a payment. Though these giants have made the introduction, should your small business? 

A cryptocurrency made in 2009, Bitcoin is a decentralized form of digital currency, which means that there is little to no government or bank involvement through any transaction being made. According to Fortune.com Blockchain is a " coding breakthrough—which consists of concatenated blocks of transactions—allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without need for a central authority."

For the entire analysis of the advantages and challenges of bitcoin technology follow this link to Entrepreneur.com.

Here are just some of the advantages: 

Compared to traditional two and three percent merchant transaction fees, Bitcoin has a relatively low cost- around zero to one percent.  This is due to the decentralization of this technology; having no banks review the transaction there is a minimal cost. 

Also, due to this decentralization, there is minimal wait. Blockchain will secure and verify each transaction automatically and process the payment far more efficiently than credit cards do. 

The challenges include: 

Though the United States accepts the use of Bitcoin some countries have not. This can be concerning for business that have international supply chains. 

Also, some say that bitcoin is "unstable" in the sense that traditional currency can be regulated if the economy requires it. Bitcoin, once again due to its deregulation, would not be subject to any sort of regulation put forth by the Federal Reserve.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Are Marketers Skeptical of Native Advertising?

From eMarketer

A new survey reveals that more marketers and agencies are beginning to adopt native advertising. However, the data hints that they aren’t necessarily ready to truly commit to native.

According to a report from Advertiser Perceptions, nine out of 10 marketers and agencies in the US had at least gotten started with native in 2016. Just 10% had not tried it.

Interestingly, though, while the number of marketers who had tried native rose over 2015 levels, there was no increase at all in terms of committed users.

From Wikipedia:

Native advertising is a type of advertising, mostly online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Taxes. Security. Together. We all have a role to play in protecting your data

From the IRS:

In an unprecedented partnership, the IRS, the
states and the tax industry are working together to protect your federal and state tax accounts from identity thieves.
We are asking you - taxpayers, tax preparers and businesses - to join with us to create an even stronger partnership in the face of this constantly evolving enemy. Our "Taxes. Security. Together" awareness campaign is an effort to better inform you about the need to protect your personal, tax and financial data online and at home. People continue to fall prey to clever cybercriminals who trick them into giving up Social Security numbers, account numbers or password information. In turn, criminals use this information a variety of ways, including filing fraudulent tax returns.
As part of the "Taxes. Security. Together" effort, we launched a Protect your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign to raise awareness among tax professionals that they increasingly are targets of cybercriminals and to offer tips on how to respond. 

How taxpayers can help

We’ve listed a few common sense suggestions that can make a big difference. See IRS Security Awareness Tax Tips for a recap of our tips to help secure your data.
A few highlights:
  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong passwords.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect your personal data. Don’t routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don’t leave it lying around.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The NEW Business Express helps with business and professional requirements.

To streamline the process of starting a business in New York State, the state is pleased to offer citizens and businesses access to a comprehensive resource for starting, running, and growing a business in New York.

Using a redesigned platform with new functions, NY Business Express helps a user to quickly learn about and access what they need in one central location.

New York Business Express is open to all citizens, along with current and prospective business owners, without a login. Here are some of the key innovative features offered through this website:

• To get started, visit the Business Wizard, which leads users through a series of questions to create a Custom Business Checklist that helps determine which New York State, as well as federal and local, requirements apply to their business.

• New and returning users are encouraged to utilize the Incentive Guide to find out what New York State incentives and support programs they may be eligible for.

• Those who know what forms they need can access the Business Index at any time to search and access what they need quickly and easily.

• A single phone number provides help Monday-Friday to those who are looking for guidance using the New York State Business Information Center.
Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm with the exception of state observed holidays
+1 (518)-485-5000

New York Business Express aims to improve customer service to individuals and businesses in New York State by creating a clear path to starting a business as well as resources to help along the way.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Census Business Builder Updates

The Census Bureau released updated editions of Census Business Builder that provide major updates and features, mobile-optimization, and performance improvements to this popular suite of tools. Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition and Census Business Builder: Regional Analyst Edition include the following new features:
·       An expanded and customizable dashboard with charts that allow users to compare data at national, state and local area levels and to compare current data to historical trends.
·       New map features, including the ability to download the data directly from the map.
·       Access to information at the state level as well as for counties, cities/towns, zip codes and census tracts.
·       New age category of 21 and older.
·       Fully interactive and downloadable reports.
The Small Business Edition also now includes industry access to all 2,014, 2- to 6-digitNorth American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes; 53 popular businesstypes were supported in the previous version. The Regional Analyst Edition now allows users to build their regions from cities and towns as well as counties.
To learn more about Census Business Builder and these updates, visit <www.census.gov/data/data-tools/cbb.html> and view the promotional videoUsers are encouraged to provide comments on this release by sending their feedback to <census.cofb@census.gov>.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Explaining the Emergence of the Immigrant Entrepreneur

From the Small Business Administration:

Between 1994 and 2015, self-employment rose substantially among those born abroad, and, by 2015, self-employment was much higher among those born abroad than among those born in the United States. This report explains the rise in self-employment among those born abroad and the difference in self-employment in 2015 by birthplace.

The prevalence of self-employment varies with age. Between 1994 and 2015, the population born abroad shifted toward ages with higher self-employment. If the age distribution of those born abroad had not changed, self-employment would not have risen among those born abroad, and self-employment in 2015 would not have differed significantly by birthplace.

Friday, February 03, 2017

How to Use Jargon for Good, Not Evil, in Your Content and Marketing

From Marketing Profs:

In content marketing and in journalism, the word jargon has come to be used mostly as an insult. It's a label that people put on unfamiliar language they dismiss as gibberish.

Jargon has another meaning, though, and it doesn't have an inherently negative connotation: the specialized vocabulary or language that a profession or group uses. Often riddled with industry-specific acronyms and colloquialisms, industry jargon is difficult for outsiders to understand.

Content marketers contemplating whether to use that sort of jargon need to note whether their target audience is general and broad, or specialized and narrow.

If you're targeting a general audience (say, you're writing a beer commercial), you should comply with conventional wisdom and avoid jargon. But if you're writing or speaking to a highly specialized group, as content developers are increasingly doing, you should consider embracing jargon.

Don't avoid jargon reflexively; first, consider the following three criteria for useful jargon that can help make your content more effective.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

How your company can survive the baby boomer brain drain

From BizWomen

The result of this baby boomer retirement surge? A massive brain drain that threatens to destabilize American business. Many companies are unprepared for the challenge...

A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals that less than 40 percent of employers have taken action to address the imminent loss of detailed know-how. Adding even well-trained millennials to the workforce may not be enough to restore the balance when your company is hemorrhaging its veteran employees...

Dorothy Leonard, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, says there is a big difference between information and knowledge. Information is something you can get from Google. Knowledge is the critically important stuff in your head that has never been written down. And companies often fail to retain it.

It is critical that longtime workers transfer the knowledge they’ve gained from decades of experience to employees who will be taking on their responsibilities. Leonard calls it “tacit knowledge.” Unlike a checklist or a binder full of procedures or reports, this knowledge is hard to identify and even harder to pass on.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Economic Impact of Small Business in New York State

From the Office of the New York State Comptroller:

Among the more than 455,000 businesses in New York, over 451,000 are small businesses. In addition, there are over 1.6 million non-employer businesses in New York, which are primarily self-employed individuals. Of the small businesses with paid employees in 2013, almost two-thirds had fewer than five employees, with over 80 percent having fewer than ten employees. These 369,000 microbusinesses provided nearly 943,000 jobs with total payroll close to $40 billion. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees reported total employment of nearly 1.5 million, with total payroll of $63.2 billion.

Over the most recent decade for which figures are available, New York’s small businesses fared better than the nation’s on three key metrics – number of firms, employment, and total payroll. Small business employment in the State rose by a net 1.6 percent, or 59,000 jobs, in the ten-year period through 2013, while declining nationally by 1.1 percent. The number of such firms fluctuated over the period, ending virtually unchanged nationally but rising 5 percent in the Empire State. And total payrolls at small businesses rose 29.7 percent in New York, modestly more than the national average.

Overall, small businesses in New York employed nearly 3.9 million workers in 2013, accounting for a little over half of all private sector employment in the State. In addition, these businesses had almost $190 billion in payroll, approximately 41 percent of total payroll. Firms with 20 to 99 employees comprised approximately one-third of the total small business employment, over 1.2 million employees. The larger firms (those with 100 to 499 employees) had the highest average payroll per employee, nearly $56,000 per year.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Startup Was Hacked: What I Did Right (and Wrong)

From Bplans:

One day in the fall of 2014, when I was still helping run a startup I co-founded (not the one I’m working for now), a client forwarded me an email he thought was suspicious.

The email looked a lot like something my company would send. It linked to a website that looked a lot like ours that offered a great deal on the same service we provided. The site’s URL was almost identical to ours, too.

Right away I had a bad feeling, but my first reaction was to tell myself it was just a competitor that had somehow gotten the email of a single client.

Not a big deal.

Then another client forwarded the same email. And another, and another.

Pretty quickly it became clear that someone had gotten a list of our clients, and was sending them emails to try and trick them into paying the wrong company for our service.

I was angry and worried. Who was doing this? How had they gotten our clients’ information? How much did they have?

Ultimately, I think the way we reacted was mostly good, but we did make a few key mistakes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Google Tackles Bad Ads and—Surprise!—There Are a Lot of Them

More from eMarketer
Pointing not only to an influx of fake news and spam, but also an ongoing challenge to distinguish what's real and what's not, Google took down 1.7 billion ads last year that violated its advertising policies—more than double the amount it removed in 2015.

In a post the company published yesterday, Google said it removed a vast amount of different types of ads.

Google removed more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations and suspended around 6,000 sites, as well as another 6,000 accounts, for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods.

In addition to keeping an eye out for these types of ads, which have been around for a while, Google also saw a rise of a new type of scammer, what it calls "tabloid cloakers," but many know it simply as fake news.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Does Cart Abandonment Really Come Down to Cost?

From eMarketer

Cart abandonment is a major concern for online retailers, and according to new research, shipping costs and overall price are the two major factors that are causing digital shoppers to abandon their items.

According to a Q4 2016 study from FuturePay, which asked consumers about their top reasons for cart abandonment, 86% of respondents said "cost of shipping," while 72% said that the "cost of order became too expensive." Other reasons such as "hassle of return," "lack of payment options," and "security concerns" had much less of an influence on shoppers.

Another study done in August 2016 by Market Track also found that shipping and price were critical to completing digital purchases.