Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lending Money to Your Employee

By Barbara Weltman

From time to time, an employee going through a rough financial patch may turn to an employer for help. As member of your small business family—which is how many owners view their staff—you want to be helpful. But lending money to an employee should only be done after considering all the issues.

Practical concerns

There’s no right or wrong answer when someone asks you for a loan. Your decision to help out often depends on the particular facts and circumstances. But before you make a loan to someone on your payroll, here are some of the questions you might want to ask:

*Do you have serious concerns about being repaid? If you aren't repaid, will the loss materially impact you or your business?
What happens if you need to terminate the worker before the loan is repaid (e.g., your business contracts; the employee’s performance becomes unacceptable)?
*Will you be setting a dangerous precedent and become an easy mark for other employees? (Don’t think that word about the loan won’t get around, because people talk.)
*Do you want to have the business lend the funds or make it a personal loan

Alternative ways to help

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Female self-employment in the United States:an update

After seeing considerable increases in the 1970s and the 1980s, the share of women in self-employment and the female self-employment rate leveled off in the 1990s and remained relatively unchanged through 2012. While this recent 20-year trend may not be remarkable, the characteristics of female business owners have changed considerably over time...

New trends in female self-employment suggest a positive shift in opportunities for women, especially for those who differ from the “typical” self-employed women of the past. For instance, the percentage of female minorities in self-employment doubled from 1993 to 2012, and more divorced women and women without young children have become self-employed. Earnings trends have also been favorable. Although female business owners still have lower mean earnings compared with other worker groups, between 1993 and 2012 the gender gap in hourly earnings among the self-employed shrank by nearly 20 percentage points for full-time workers and by 17 percentage points for part-time workers.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights - take a 30-minute online course

What is intellectual property and how do you protect your ideas? This course gives an overview of intellectual properties and explains how to protect them. Learn why you should protect your intellectual property. Explore the differences between patents, trademarks and copyrights and discover the process for filing for a patent or trademark and registering for a copyright.

Text-based version of course

Intellectual property worsheet for a small business

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sleep Your Way to Higher Productivity

I’ve been feeling really tired lately. It’s that tired feeling that drags on for days and days until you finally give in and have a real rest from work (I’ve planned a week off in October). Trying to work on projects that require lots of thought, mental clarity, and—I can’t even think of the word I want, because I’m tired, which proves my point: It’s hard to do good work when you’re tired.

But there’s a lot of nuance to how sleep affects our work.



Read more from BPLANS

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Enterprises' Top Digital Marketing Priorities for 2015

Some 69% of senior marketers at enterprise companies anticipate an increase in digital spend beyond inflation in 2015, and only 6% foresee a decrease, according to a recent report from Teradata and Econsultancy.

On the other hand, only 48% expect increases beyond inflation in traditional marketing budgets in 2015, and 29% who expect decreases, the study found.

Enterprise marketers expect digital budgets to increase roughly 10% annually for the next five years, with average digital spend reaching 40% of total budgets by 2019, according to the report.


Read more from MarketingProfs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is that health insurance website for real?

Shopping for health insurance online? Before making your final purchase – read on. Health insurance scams have been preying on vulnerable consumers through websites selling medical discount plans.

According to the complaint in a recent case FTC settlement, IAB Marketing Associates, LP et al., was a sham nonprofit trade association offering memberships suggesting it would provide consumers with a comprehensive medical insurance plan...

According to the FTC, consumers never were enrolled in a comprehensive health insurance plan. The IAB plan was essentially a medical discount plan, offering, if it existed, limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals. Many consumers who suffered an accident or illness were shocked to find that their IAB “health plan” covered very few, if any, medical expenses, leaving them with major medical bills.

Here’s how to insure yourself against this scam...

More from the NCPW

Restaurants see best sales trends in two years

The restaurant industry posted its best sales results in more than two years during the third quarter of 2014, amid continuing signs of economic growth, according to the latest Restaurant Industry Snapshot from TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence and People Report, based on weekly sales from more than 20,000 restaurant units representing more than $45 billion in annual revenue.

Same-store sales grew 1.6 percent during the quarter, a 1.3-percent increase over second quarter results and the best quarter for the industry since the first quarter of 2012. The industry saw positive same-store sales for the second consecutive quarter — a first since the second half of 2012. The gain came on the heels of strong industry performance in September, when same-store sales rose 2.2 percent.


More from Nation's Restaurant News.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Small Business Advocate, September-October 2014

The Office of Advocacy has released the September-October 2014 issue of the Small Business Advocate. The newsletter features Advocacy’s regional advocates’ tour of 1776, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that seeks to nurture local startup businesses by connecting them with a variety of resources. The message from the chief counsel explores the issue of the gender gap in STEM fields. In addition, rulemakings by the DOJ, CPSC, EPA, FCC, DOL and NOAA are discussed. Finally, the newsletter introduces Advocacy’s new staff members.

The newsletter can be accessed here.

In This Issue
1776 Offers Startups Resources and Connections in the Heart of D.C.
Message from the Chief Counsel: Leveling the Playing Field in STEM
Small Movie Theater Owners Discuss Proposed DOJ Accessibility Rules
Advocacy Responds to CPSC on Infant Carrier Rules
Advocacy Comments to FCC on Net Neutrality Proposal
Advocacy Raises Concerns about EPA Landfill Rules

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Consumer spending and U.S. employment from the 2007–2009 recession through 2022

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the latest recession, employment supported by U.S. consumer spending declined by an estimated 3.2 million jobs between 2007 and 2010, over a third of total job declines during that time frame. Compared with the overall economy, consumer-related employment demonstrated relative resilience, recovering in 2012. Through 2022, consumer spending is projected to support stable job growth with increasing expenditures on labor-intensive services like health care. However, consumer spending and its related employment are projected to grow slower than in the past and at rates similar to the overall economy.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

CrossFit Tailors Workout for a New Demographic: Preschoolers

On a recent afternoon at the CrossFit gym in Long Island City, Queens, 3-year-old Ella Reznik bounded toward an array of hoops and candy-colored bouncy balls, her ponytail and her mother trailing her.

Ella’s brother Adam, 4, padded along nearby on rubber black mats and inspected some metal bars bolted to the wall. The gym’s owner and coach, Michele Kelber, greeted the Rezniks and other children with a series of high-fives and smiles. Soon, class was underway: duck, duck, goose; burpees; and dangling from monkey bars.

CrossFit, the hard-core workout regimen, has a growing new demographic to court: preschoolers.

As the issue of youth fitness — from obesity to proper exercise regimens — takes on more resonance in schools and communities across the country, CrossFit Kids and other preschool fitness programs are raising questions about when and how children should start playing organized sports or hitting the gym.

More from the New York Times.

Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Ways to Spy on Your Competition

Most companies are continually looking for ways to get an edge over their competitors, and a time-honored method is simply to spy on the other guys. Technically, it falls under the category of market research, unless, of course, it’s actual spying. But, we’re not going to get into corporate espionage here—we’ll stick with the “market research” strategies that are legal, if somewhat sneaky. In the event that you feel uneasy about spying on your rivals, consider the fact that if you’re any sort of force to be reckoned with in your market, they are probably already spying on you. But, if you’re still not quite comfortable with the word “spying,” think of it as “competitive intelligence.” Competitive intelligence is a means of legally obtaining information that you can use to improve your own products, services, and customer retention.

Read more from BPlans.com

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Good Marketing, Undone

I like to read the newspaper while I’m eating breakfast (I spend the rest of my day reading online). Last Friday, as I was thumbing through, I saw an ad that caught my eye:

“One-day only! Wear (color) in support of (charity) and get 20% off any item in the store!”

Simple. Easy to understand. Some of the proceeds would go to a worthy cause. And a nice discount. I liked it. I already planned to be near the store location Friday evening; I was going to catch a movie with friends. All I had to do was change what I planned to wear to their chosen color. Hm…

If it had been just another work day, I had a couple of blouses which would have fit the requirement. But I was going out after work. I had planned what I was going to wear, and its main color was black. BUT, it had a small sequin flower in that special, required color. A very small sequin flower. Would it be enough? No way to know until I got there. And I had decided to go.

That was good marketing.

Read more from BPlans.com

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Are Consumers Willing to Pay for Content From Online Publishers?

Some 40% of US consumers say they currently pay for news, fashion, sports, or business digital content, even though 70% say they access those categories of content online regularly, according to a recent report from CloudSense.

This reluctance to pay for digital media is true even for the "digital native" generation: 45% of the 16-24-year-olds surveyed say they spend money on any sort of digital content from publishers.

More from MarketingProfs.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

7 Things to Consider When Raising Money from Family or Friends for Your Business Startup

It’s tempting to ask friends and family to invest in your work when first starting a company. Money is tight and they want to help. However, soliciting money from loved ones can be a risky venture. To help mitigate this risk, we asked seven entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council what rules one should always have in place before raising money from family and friends. Here’s what they recommend.

Read more from BPlans.com

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nominate a Business for the 2015 National Small Business Week Awards

Are you a small business owner with an amazing success story to tell?  If so, submit your nomination today for the 2015 National Small Business Week Awards.  Nominations are currently being accepted online at http://awards.sba.gov.
For more than 50 years, SBA has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions in their local communities, and to our nation’s economy. Winners will be announced during National Small Business Week in May 2015.
Last year, we honored husband-and-wife team Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor, the founders of Pacifica which is based in Portland, Oregon as the National Small Business Persons of the Year. With Billy’s entrepreneurial spirit and Brook’s creative vision, the two founders started making candles in 1997.  A bold change in the line of products from home fragrances to beauty and perfume products put Pacifica on a growth path to more than double their revenue over a five-year span, ending in 2014. Since 2010 they have managed to expand their staff each year and now have 110 employees.
Are you our next winner?  Apply online today: http://awards.sba.gov. In addition to the portal, nominations can also be sent directly to SBA District Offices, which can be located online atdistrict offices.  All nominations must be submitted online, postmarked or hand delivered to the SBA no later than 3:00 p.m. ET on January 5, 2015.
National Small Business Week award categories include:
  • Small Business Person of the Year Awards
  • Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
  • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery
  • Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award- Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence
  • 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award
  • Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award
  • Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
For more information, visit http://awards.sba.gov.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Business-Cycle Conditions: Fiscal Policy Drag Diminishing

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 will be remembered for its severity—a cumulative decline of 4.2 percent in real GDP, the loss of 8.7 million jobs, and a harsh toll on the banking system with more than 400 bank failures from 2008 to 2011. The Great Recession should also be remembered for the massive increase in the federal budget deficit it spawned. As a percentage of GDP, the budget deficit reached 9.8 percent in fiscal year 2009, the highest since 1945 and the highest ever excluding the World War II period (Chart 1). Through another lens, the six-year cumulative deficit from 2008 to 2013 totaled almost 41 percent of GDP, well exceeding the total of about 26 percent for the six worst years of the Great Depression.

Statistical Indicators of Business-Cycle Changes

Like the proverbial double-edged sword, fiscal deficits can be both helpful and detrimental. The positive aspect is that the strong federal fiscal response likely helped initially to support the recovery. The negative side is that the nation’s cumulative debt position deteriorated, raising concern about the long-term outlook for the economy. In addition, very large deficits cannot be maintained indefinitely, and as expenditures are reduced, they tend to restrain economic growth.

More from the American Institute for Economic Research

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Manufacturing in America

In recognition of the third annual Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3, the Census Bureau releases an update of an infographic highlighting a wide range of statistics pertaining to the manufacturing sector of the economy. Topics explored include manufacturing employment and payroll compared with other sectors, production by specific manufacturing industries, and state-level statistics. Internet address: <http://www.census.gov/how/infographics/manufacturing_2014.html>.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Is Etsy the New Silk Road for Copyright Infringement?

Frompetapixel:


While browsing through my image search results on PIXSY (a new service that finds and invoices image theft for you), I was surprised to see my picture for sale on Etsy (above). My immediate reaction:

1. What an ugly mousepad. I’d never print my photo like this.
2. The seller seems to be stealing thousands of photos. How could Etsy let this happen?
3. Who had the nerve to think they could do this?

So my picture was the party and I wasn't invited. I decided to see what I could do to notify the seller and contact Etsy about the problem.

What did I find out? Etsy is selling thousands of stolen photos and doesn’t seem to care. Their system lets sellers hide their contact information, and Etsy will not disclose the identities of sellers stealing work even after being presented with clear evidence.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Top Four Reasons Consumers Abandon Online Shopping Carts

More than one-third of consumers (37%) say they most often abandon an online shopping cart because they decide at the last minute that the purchase is too expensive, according to a recent report from Offers.com.

The second most common reason for not completing an online purchase is finding a better price on another website.

Just 20% say they almost always purchase the items they put in their online shopping carts.



Read more from MarketingProfs

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

7 Bookkeeping Habits Every Entrepreneur Should Adopt

Badly tracked finances can cause your business a world of problems—from poor cash flow to improper tax filings and beyond. These kinds of problems can put a young business at serious risk.

Good bookkeeping habits, on the other hand, can help a business thrive—and not just survive.

Dallas-based financial writer and founder of Careful Cents, Carrie Smith, shared her advice on what good bookkeeping means for entrepreneurs, and the good habits to adopt that will guide your business to success.

MORE from BPlans.com