Monday, April 14, 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.

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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Surprising Truth: What Truly Motivates Employees?

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Daniel Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. He also gives some examples of new approaches that modern day companies have created in order to maximize employee capability and business success.

His speech is based on the ideas of his non-fiction book “Drive”, which was published in 2009. In this book, he argues that human motivation is largely intrinsic, and that the aspects of this motivation can be divided into autonomy, mastery and purpose. He argues against old models of motivation driven by rewards and fear of punishment, dominated by extrinsic factors such as money. 

If you have 10 minutes to spare please check out this informative video. Its progressive ideas will really stimulate ideas on how to make your workplace a more cohesive unit. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

"Disasters don’t discriminate"... Or why you want a home AND office B.O.B

Even savvy Business Owners realize that reacting to a disaster scenario requires employees to take a certain level of personal responsibility. Employees that know and adhere to their business disaster plan will still want to secure their families and cannot help your organization until they have stabilized their own survival needs. All italicized notes are mine~ BDS

"Spies and certain military personnel have them. Even mobsters and other criminals have them. And you should have one too.


I’m talking about a “Bug-Out Bag,” a ready-to-grab-at-anytime kit that gets you out the door and long gone, quickly and safely, when things go south.
Even though you probably aren't going to have a foreign hit squad on your trail, or Federal agents ready to kick in your door, there are still a number of situations where the Average Joe needs to have a bug-out bag — or a “Get Home Bag” (see below) — packed and ready to go."

Blog Series - Affordable Care Act - The Deadline

The Affordable Care Act continues to dominate the minds of many Americans as the deadline for registration approaches.  As it stands right now, Monday March 31st is the deadline for registration for the ACA, with unregistered individuals facing fines.  Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that due to a surge in registrations, the deadline will be extended.  But they did not state exactly when the deadline will now be.

Needless to say, people's emotions regarding the Affordable Care Act continue to run high.  Polls indicate that opinions of the ACA are at an all-time low.  With 6 million individuals already registered, and more registering everyday, the news and opinions will continue to pour in, and I will do my best to keep you informed.  While these articles are not specific to Small Business, they will help you know what is currently going on and what is coming next.

Obamacare applicants to get more deadline flexibility (CNN)

Poll: Obama's health care (US News and World Report)

The Affordable Care Act Is Working (Politico Magazine)

Four Years of Obamacare Failures Is Long Enough (Forbes)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who must be registered for sales tax purposes

If you will be selling property or services in New York State that are subject to sales tax, you may be required to collect the sales tax from the person to
whom you make the sale. In general, the sales tax you must collect and remit is computed using the combined state and local rate in effect in the locality where you deliver the taxable product or service to the customer. If you must collect sales tax on your sales, then you must register for sales tax purposes with the Tax Department and obtain a Certificate of Authority (see How to Register for New York State Sales Tax (TB-ST-360)).

You must also be registered for sales tax purposes to issue or accept most New York State sales tax exemption documents. For example, even though wholesalers may never collect sales tax because all of their purchases and sales are for resale (and, therefore, are eligible for exemption from sales tax), they must still be registered to legally issue and accept most exemption documents. For additional information on who must be registered for sales tax purposes, see Do I Need to Register for Sales Tax? (TB-ST-175).

If you are required to register for sales tax purposes but fail to do so and you engage in business without having obtained a valid Certificate of Authority,
you will be subject to a penalty. The penalty is up to $500 for the first day business is conducted without having obtained a valid Certificate of
Authority, plus up to $200 per day for each day thereafter. The maximum penalty for engaging in business without obtaining a valid Certificate of Authority is $10,000. See Sales and Use Tax Penalties (TB-ST-805).

If you change your organizational structure (for example, from a sole proprietorship to a corporation, a limited liability company, or a partnership), the new organization must register for sales tax purposes and obtain a new Certificate of Authority. The new business must obtain its own Certificate of Authority before it begins operating. You must also file a final return for your existing business and surrender the Certificate of Authority that was issued to the existing business. See Amending or Surrendering a Certificate of Authority (TB-ST-25) and Filing Period Indicators on Final Sales Tax Returns (TB-ST-270).

If you are purchasing, transferring, or assigning either part or all of the assets of an existing business, there are specific rules that apply to the transaction. For more info, read A Guide to Sales Tax in New York State.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 Ends April 8, 2014

The ASBDC wanted to make sure all small business owners are aware of an important occurrence next month. As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide technical assistance for Windows XP and Office 2003, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. According to Microsoft, more than 20 percent of small businesses are still using the XP platform, which Microsoft first introduced in 2001.

What does this mean for your business?
1. There will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.
2. Without critical security updates, PCs could become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal or damage business data and information.
3. Anti-virus software will not be able to fully protect PCs running Windows XP once the OS is no longer supported.
4. Businesses that continue to run Windows XP after support ends may be exposed to potential security threats, and may even risk breaching compliance standards depending on the industry in which they operate.

How do you stay protected?

To stay protected after support ends April 8, you have two options:
1.Upgrade your current PC: Very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1, which is the latest version of Windows. You may want to download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able. For more detailed information, read the FAQ.
o Download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant
o Tutorial: Upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows XP
2.Get a new PC:
If your current PC can't run Windows 8.1, it might be time to consider shopping for a new one. The average price of a PC is considerably less expensive than the average PC was 10 years ago.

What does it mean if my version of Windows is no longer supported?

Which version of Windows am I running?

For more information on the Windows XP and Office 2013 end of support, click here.
***
This is not meant as promotion for Microsoft products, merely informing those who ARE using them that they may have difficulties in the future.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Office of Advocacy Publishes Updated FAQ about Small Businesses

The Office of Advocacy’s Frequently Asked Questions About Small Business, has been newly updated. Reading the FAQ is the best Q&A session about small business that you will ever have. The four-pager is a reference guide to better understand small businesses’ status and role in the economy.

Monday, March 24, 2014

8 Ways to Say No Without Hurting Your Image

f you want something done, ask a busy person. The old saying rings true, but it also spells doom for that busy person. When you develop a reputation for being responsive and generous, an ever-expanding mountain of requests will come your way. This may be why Warren Buffett says: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

For those of us who enjoy being helpful—or just plain polite—this is no easy task. Every “no” is a missed opportunity to make a difference and build a relationship. And if it comes across the wrong way to the wrong person, it’s also a surefire way to brand yourself as selfish and rude.

More from LinkedIn.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Six Tips to Get Your Customers Talking About Your Brand at the Dinner Table

Employees and even executives sometimes start to think about their customers with an "us vs. them" mentality, particularly in times of stress—during, say, the busy holiday season or when a customer has a complaint. That's a dangerous mindset, especially if it becomes habitual.

Competitive advantage these days demands customer-centricity. The more customers your organizations can engage meaningfully—especially those who care enough to tell you how to do things better—the better off you'll be.

Social media, where you can see eye to eye and develop interactive relationships, is a terrific venue for doing that. And if you use it not just to engage but also to empower, you'll transform a customer from someone who likes your product to someone who feels like a part of your product.

That's an important shift, because the latter customer is the one who is far more likely to find every opportunity to tell people, online and off, why they think what you do is so great.


Read more from MarketProfs.