Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Business Liability Insurance: It’s Not One Size Fits All

Starting a small business is not a one size fits all-process. However, one best practice that all small businesses should consider is liability insurance. It’s no surprise that most of the information out there about liability insurance comes directly from insurance providers, so it is important to do extensive research to ensure that you are relying on objective information to make business decisions. The SBA offers a wealth of information on liability insurance for small businesses that can help. Here are a few points to consider as you work to ensure that your business has complete protection:

Liability insurance protects you from a variety of legal claims including bodily and personal injury as well as property damage that can occur during day-to-day business operations. If you do not have employees, you may not be required by law to have insurance, but you should still be prepared. A single incident can unravel all of the hard work that you have done to build your business.

What you may not know is that there are different types of business liability insurance for every imaginable risk that your business might encounter.

More from SBA.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Startup in a Day

The Startup in a Day initiative aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business by reducing the amount of time it takes to register and apply for permits and licenses on the local level. Cities and Native American communities across the United States are encouraged to get involved.

The SBA is conducting two prize competitions for U.S. cities and Native American communities. Both competitions will award prizes to support the development, implementation, and improvement of online tools that will let entrepreneurs learn about the business startup process in their area, including how to register and apply for all required local licenses and permits, in one day or less.

Startup in a Day Competition – Start Small Model: The first competition will award up to 25 prizes of up to $50,000 each for cities. Up to two (2) prizes of $50,000 each are available specifically for Native American communities.

Startup in a Day Competition – Dream Big Model: The second competition challenges cities and/or Native American communities to develop an “open source” Startup in a Day solution, which can be replicable and scalable to other localities. One (1) $250,000 prize will be awarded.

For information on how your city and/or Native American community can take the pledge, please email startup@sba.gov

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Do You Protect Your Creations?

If you created something original, you may have a certain degree of protection against someone else using, claiming, modifying, or selling it. In other words, you may have intellectual property. Knowing how to legally protect your creations is essential to retaining ownership of them.

In the simplest terms, intellectual property (IP) pertains to things you create with your mind; not the ideas themselves, but the expression of the ideas in some form.

A thought or notion that’s been floating around your head may be a great idea for a future product or service, but it isn’t yet intellectual property.

There are four common types of IP:
Copyrights
Patents
Trademarks (including design rights)
Trade secrets

Read more from BPlans.com

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oswego SBDC's Larry Perras Honored Posthumously with Economic Development Award


Larry Perras, director of the Oswego SBDC until his death in 2014, was honored posthumously with the 2015 Martin Rose Economic Developer Merit Award by Operation Oswego County.  

Jim King, NY SBDC State Director, writes,

"Many of us remember Larry as a soft-spoken but extremely dedicated and effective member of the SBDC family who spoke several times at SBDC Advisory Board meetings, presented at Staff Training and collaborated with many of us on projects across the State where he shared his expertise and talents. Larry was dedicated to helping others and often said he found his ideal position with the SBDC. All of us who knew Larry are much better off for the experience and having worked with him."

Read about this award here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

10 Ways to Find out What Your Competitors Are Doing

Competitive analysis has become an essential part of business marketing activity and has made it possible to perform qualitative strategic planning. While analyzing your competitors, you should know what you are looking for and how it can help your business.

It is not about stealing your competitor’s ideas; it’s about revealing their strengths and weaknesses, and finding your own company’s competitive advantages. Only unique brand positioning will eventually bring your company customer loyalty and business success.

If you’ve wondered what your competitors are up to, that shows you’re thinking strategically and want to have confidence in your own company’s approach. There are plenty of ways to check on your competition that are totally above-board.


Read more BPlans

Monday, June 22, 2015

Payroll Concerns for Remote Employees

Generally, the employer must withhold income tax in the state where work is performed (there is an exception that is explained later). If an employee who resides in another state works exclusively in that state (different from the employer’s state), then taxes are usually withheld only in the employee’s state. (The employer is in State A and the employee lives in State B and does all the work for the employer in home State B, so the employer should withhold State B tax for the employee, assuming State B has an income tax.) I say “usually” because there are exceptions that permit the employer not to withhold state income taxes in the employees’ state.

If the employee resides in the employer’s state, tax for that state must be withheld even though the employee works exclusively in another state. And there may be additional withholding obligations in the state in which the employee works.

Already confused? If an employee works a few days in each location, things become even more complex, if that’s possible.

More from the Small Business Administration.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

California Says Uber Driver is an Employee

It was only a week ago that I saw a request for information on how Uber drivers were defined. This appears in today's New York Times:


 TECHNOLOGY

California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor

How to Improve Your Company 3-Times Faster than Your Competition

If you run your company like most business owners do, you might take a deep look at your business numbers once every three months. Frankly, that’s not a terrible strategy. You have time to see how things are going and you aren’t spending too much time on the books. At least you’re actually looking at your numbers—which puts you well ahead of many other small business owners.

But, reviewing your key numbers only once a quarter can limit the opportunities you have to evolve your strategy and grow your company.

If your company closes its books quarterly and only looks at results quarterly, you’ll have a hard time adapting and evolving quickly to situations that arise within your business. That’s because you are only stepping back, reviewing your strategy, and course-correcting your business four times a year.

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to make your company more nimble and agile than your competition.

read more from LivePlan

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tips for Building an LGBT-Inclusive Workplace

As a small business owner, you can show your support by implementing these best practices for an LGBT-inclusive work environment. Creating a safe space for LGBT employees and customers can make your business more appealing to a diverse group of employees and a growing market of consumers.

The Business Case for Equality

The pace of acceptance of the LGBT community has been driven in no small measure by the business community. While commonly identified with large corporations, small businesses have also participated in making equality part of their business model. Fostering an inclusive and friendly business environment is a way to hire and retain employees, as well as help you break into corporate supply chains. Furthermore, by projecting an inclusive business model, small businesses have the opportunity to sell to the LGBT community, which has an estimated $830 billion in buying power.*

More from the Small Business Administration

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

10 User Experience Testing Tools Marketers Need to Know About

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works!" Steve Jobs said.

Each one of us interacts with information differently, and a design that works for one person may turn someone else off entirely.

No matter how much effort you've put into designing your website or mobile app, the proof of the pudding is in the testing—user testing, which allows you to learn what the actual users of a product think about it and how they use it.

Here are 10 tools that will help you gain insight into what you can do to improve user experience (UX) and win your users' hearts, minds, and business.



Read more at MarketingProfs

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to Pitch Your Business by Email

But, pitching can come in different forms, and one of the most common ways to pitch your business—even in our technologically advanced age—is the “pitch email.”

Email is everywhere. It’s used by nearly everyone, it’s more personal than social media, and it’s less obtrusive than a phone call. When you need to introduce yourself and your company to someone, email often just makes the most sense.

So what’s the best way to go about pitching your business by email? After all, you want to be sure you aren’t just sending emails into a black hole where they’ll be deleted without a second thought. Even worse, you want to make sure you’re writing in such a way, or pitching in a way that won’t end up annoying the very recipient you’re trying to entice. A bad email can actually “burn bridges.”

Here’s where you can start.


Read more from BPlans

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Contentious Domain

Imagine your a small-town entrepreneur, looking to build a local business. You may end up using your last name as part of the company name... That's all fine and good and rarely causes a problem. If you were really ahead of the curve -- say, you knew about the Internet in the early to mid-1990s -- maybe you even registered yourself a domain name, your last name followed by the now-ubiquitous dot-com. If you did, chances are you ended up something with a lot more valuable than you bargained for.

Unless your last name is Nissan. In that case, you probably ended up with a big headache -- and a lot of legal bills.

Since the 1980s, Uzi Nissan -- that's his real name -- has owned a number of small businesses branded with his last name. In the early 1990s, he started the Nissan Computer Corporation. He registered the Nissan.com domain in 1994.

More from Now I Know.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five Simple Ways to Make Your Press Release Stand Out

No matter what industry your company is a part of, you're bound to be facing competition—a lot of competition. To stand out from a sea of lookalikes and wannabes, your company must reach out to the right people.

That outreach starts with maintaining an effective network of press relations.

For a lot of companies, finding PR success can be extraordinarily frustrating—especially when just starting out. But the good news is that it's actually fairly simple to get your brand name out there and in the media.


Read more at MarketingProfs

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Upward Trend in Venture Capital Investments

The Office of Advocacy released a small business fact sheet, "Putting Recent Venture Capital Gains in Perspective," by Economist Jonathan Porat. According to the fact sheet, the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 had the highest level of venture capital investment in a first quarter since the year 2000. This upward trend is part of a sizeable post-recessionary rebound in venture capital. The fact sheet also examines the data on venture capital investment deals since 1995 and looks at the five biggest venture capital deals in Q1 2015, all of which are technology startups from California.


The fact sheet can be found here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Does Your Business Have a Marketing Plan?

By Rieva Lesonsky

Marketing is crucial for small business owners. But all too often, we approach marketing in a haphazard fashion, adding a new element to our marketing mix “on the fly” without stopping to think about whether it makes sense for our overall business goals.

It’s great to keep your marketing fresh and up-to-date by marketing your business in new avenues. But if you don’t take the time to assess each part of your marketing mix and how it fits into the larger scheme of things, you could be wasting time and money—and not getting the results you desire.

Creating a marketing plan for your business can help ensure that you’re maximizing each marketing dollar you spend and that your marketing message is truly getting across to your target customers. So how do you get started?

Think of your marketing plan as kind of a “business plan” for your marketing. In fact, if you are a startup, a marketing plan should be part of your overall business plan. If you’re beyond the startup stage, you still need a marketing plan to set the stage for your efforts throughout the year.

Here are the essential elements your marketing plan should cover.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Biggest Marketing and Business Challenges of Today's Professional Services Firms

Our understanding of behavioral psychology and technology innovations are changing the professional services landscape. We're not only accumulating tremendous amounts of data into consumer behavior in general, but we're learning specifically how professional services marketing and branding can influence buyers' behavior.

But this new understanding raises some big questions for firms. Which business challenges are the most urgent? How should one prioritize marketing efforts?

These questions have been answered through a recent survey of over 500 professional services firms conducted by the Hinge Research Institute. The survey sought insights from senior decision-makers at industries including management consulting, accounting and finance, marketing, technology, legal services, and architecture, engineering, and construction.

What are firms' top challenges?

Survey respondents were asked to list the major issues they face. One challenge very clearly stood above the others.


Read more at MarketingProfs.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Lack of Paid Leave Compounds Challenges for Low-Wage Workers

For U.S. workers, access to employer-provided leave is closely related to how much they earn. Specifically, low-wage workers have substantially less access to leave benefits from their employers than higher paid workers. This was one of many interesting findings in a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics article, A look at pay at the top, the bottom, and in between.

while less than two-thirds (61 percent) of workers in the private sector have access to paid sick leave, an even lower proportion (only 30 percent) of workers among the lowest paid 25 percent have access to paid sick leave. In sharp contrast, the highest paid 10 percent of workers are almost three times more likely to have access to paid sick leave than those in the lowest paid 25 percent.

Across all paid leave categories, (holidays, sick leave, vacation, personal, and family leave) workers in the lowest 25 percent of wage earners are two to four times less likely to have access to any form of paid leave compared with workers in the highest paid 25 percent.

More from the US Department of Labor.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Businesses Equally Owned by Men and Women

Equally-owned businesses (EOBs) represent a significant share of firms, employment, and receipts. These firms are frequently overlooked in discussions about business owner demographics. To say that 30 percent of firms are female-owned suggests that the other 70 percent are owned by men, when in reality, 53 percent are male-owned, and 17 percent are equally-owned by men and women.
Compared to other firms, EOBs are more likely to be family-owned or owned jointly by a married couple, but less likely to be minority-owned or veteran owned.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

The 5 Best Credit Card Processing Companies for Startups

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got 100 things to check off your list before you can open for business. Among the most important, but often overlooked, is providing a means through which your customers can pay you.

Given that over 75% of transactions involve either a debit, credit, prepaid, or gift card, that means finding a credit card processor.

For most entrepreneurs, the search for merchant services starts with their bank, as most banks either offer their own credit card processing service, or have a relationship with a provider that they recommend. Although you may love your banking services or trust the brand name you’ve seen over the years, those credit card processing companies generally aren’t the best solution for startups, because they are expensive and because they don’t offer the flexibility or services provided by startup-oriented providers.

While compared to choices that startups face like where to sign a lease, or what equipment to buy, choosing your credit card processor may not seem like an important decision. When you consider, however, that a bad choice can mean fees that total 1 to 1.5% of your gross income, it may be one of the most important decisions that an entrepreneur faces.

More from LivePlan.com

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

New website lists the critical first steps after identity theft

News about data breaches at banks, stores, and agencies is an everyday occurrence now. But if your private information has been compromised, it doesn’t feel commonplace to you.
The sooner you find out, and begin damage control, the better off you’ll be.

 IdentityTheft.gov, a new website, offers step-by-step checklists of what to do right away, and what to do next, depending on the information that’s been stolen or exposed. It lists warning signs indicating your identity was stolen, and gives websites and phone numbers for organizations you’ll need to reach. And, it has sample letters for disputing fraudulent charges, correcting information in your credit reports, and getting business records relating to the theft.