Monday, July 27, 2015

Interested in Doing Business In Cuba? Join SBA Conference Call on July 29

By Eileen Sánchez, SBA Official
Small business owners often tell us that they have many questions about how to enter a new market - and those questions are magnified when it comes to doing business with Cuba.  There have been several changes to the bilateral relationship in recent months, and, to address your questions, I hope that you will join SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet and other senior officials on July 29 at 4:00 p.m. ET to discuss the opportunities that exist for exporting to Cuba.
Today’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana is an historic step marking the new direction in U.S.-Cuba relations announced by President Obama last December. This step was preceded by a series of significant measures: in January, the Departments of Commerce and Treasury amended their regulations to increase travel, trade and the free flow of information to and from Cuba.  In April, during the Summit of the Americas in Panama, President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro.  And after a six-month review, Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism was rescinded.  
Significant challenges remain, and the President has acknowledged the U.S. will continue to press the Cuban government on areas of concern, in particular human rights and basic freedoms.  And the trade embargo remains, which can only be lifted through Congressional action.  Nonetheless, the President’s decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease some commercial and travel restrictions is a step toward increased economic opportunity in our hemisphere - particularly for American small businesses. 
Small Business Cuba Call-In:
The SBA stands ready to share information on how American small businesses can seize the full potential of our rapprochement with Cuba. Join the SBA Administrator and colleagues from the State Department, Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for a conference call to discuss recent rule changes on Cuba.
Date: July 29, 2015
Time: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. ET

Friday, July 24, 2015

Andrew Cuomo On The State of New York Tourism

ust before the July 4th weekend, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a press release on the state of tourism. The release covered tourism in its totality and did not address specific sectors like adventure tourism, winery tourism, historic tourism, and LGBT tourism, the four pillars of I Love NY promotions. It also did not differentiate between business, vacation, or shopping travelers. (Macy’s chief executive Terry Lundgren in 2013 called Macy’s “ a tourist place” with roughly 6,000,000 tourists a year).

That being said, the number of travelers to the Empire State from elsewhere is impressive and the economic impact is substantial.
The headline of the press release boldly declares:

NYS Tourism Impact Exceeds $100 Billion
Tourism Employment Increased By 16 Percent Since 2011
New York Remains Most Visited State by Overseas Travelers for 14th Year in a Row

See more at New York History blog

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

This self-paced training exercise provides an introduction to securing information in a small business.

Topics include: Defining cybersecurity; Explaining the importance of securing information through best cybersecurity practices; Identifying types of information that should be secured; Identifying the types of cyber threats; Defining risk management; and Listing best practices for guarding against cyber threats.

Duration: 30 minutes


Take the course HERE.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The danger of using ZIP Codes alone for trying to determine sales tax

Retailers should be sure to register with the Tax Department and obtain a Certificate of Authority. "Your application (for a Certificate of Authority) will be processed, and, if approved, we'll mail your Certificate of Authority to you. You cannot legally make any taxable sales until you have received your Certificate of Authority."

Based on the literature, I would HIGHLY recommend AGAINST using ZIP Codes alone for trying to determine sales tax, since ZIP Codes cross county boundaries. One needs to charge at the rate of the jurisdiction served.

Is the item taxable? Probably.

There are some free sales tax calculator online, e.g. TaxRates.com and Pitney Bowes for the US; NYS Tax Department and Earth Odyssey for New York only; there are undoubtedly others. And of course, there are paid sites, such as Strike Iron and the Sales Tax Clearinghouse.

One can also Google sales tax calculator software and find a ton of these for sale. These, though, will not make the determination of what items may not be taxable.

For international shipping: if you just mail it, you need to pay the rate for that country, or part thereof. BUT if you ship it via UPS or FedEx, or similar services, if the sender asks for a bill of lading, and no sales tax needs to be charged.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Fancy Do Consumers Want Their Wearables?

Wearable device awareness is high, but ownership—and purchase intent—remain low. Indeed, May 2015 polling by Altimeter Group found that just 7% of US internet users owned a wearable, and a March 2015 study by DigitasLBi put wearables penetration among internet users worldwide at 17%.

What could urge consumers to take the plunge? When April 2015 polling by Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB)—which found that six in 10 US smartphone owners were familiar to some extent with wearables—asked about the most desirable features, respondents stuck with three categories: fundamentals, health and point-of-sale payments—in other words, nothing overly fancy.

See more at eMarketer

Monday, July 20, 2015

U.S. import prices decline 10 percent over the year

Import prices decreased 10.0 percent from June 2014 to June 2015.

The import price index for fuels and lubricants (which makes up 12.0 percent of imports) declined 40.7 percent from June 2014 to June 2015. Over that period, petroleum prices decreased 41.3 percent and prices for natural gas declined 42.7 percent.

In June 2015, prices for nonfuel imports declined 2.3 percent over the year. The decrease was led by a 6.7-percent drop in prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials (13.4 percent of imports).

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

One Potentially Humorous Way to Weed Out Job Applicants

From Inc.

Jennifer Walzer, CEO of Backup My Info!, offers a strategic hiring tactic you probably haven't used before.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The State of Customer Service in 2015

One-third of consumers who contact a brand on social media with a customer service issue never get a response, according to a recent report from the Northridge Group.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in March 2015 of 1,017 adults in the United States. Consumers were polled on their expectations and experiences with customer service problems and inquiries in the past year.

When consumers do get a response on social media about a customer service issue, the answer comes from the brand within an hour only 38% of the time.

Some 42% of respondents say they expect a response from companies on social media within an hour.



Read more from MarketingProfs

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How Patenting Changes May Affect Small Innovators

The Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the U.S. Small Business Administration, released an Issue Brief entitled “Patenting and Innovative Startups: Putting the America Invents Act (AIA) in a Broader Economic Context.” The issue brief summarizes some of the potential small business outcomes of the AIA and contextualizes those outcomes for innovative startups. This issue brief finds that policy changes that affect patenting could affect innovative startups as they may heavily utilize patents to raise funds to continue to innovate.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Video Marketing Today

As our intake of user-generated content has increased, businesses have capitalized on that material and in turn, relaxed the style of corporate media. We see ads copying the style of social media, and the use of popular social media stars to promote brands. The use of humor is becoming even more expected. There has been an increase in the use of various short video-based communication formats across the Internet. From Vines, SnapChats, Instagram and Twitter joining the already established YouTube, FaceBook and Tumblr, very young people in particular are comfortable using these methods and video content is proliferating. Small business brands need to be relevant, and it would be wise to consider video as a vital part of the marketing mix. Any dedicated person with a smartphone can start making video content, but it is an opportunity for videographers whose meat-and-potatoes are wedding videos and christenings to expand their clientele. Some businesses are especially suited to using video to promote themselves. Those that perform services, or manufacture products that may be a bit mysterious to potential customers can seize an opportunity to show-and-tell. For an acupuncturist who may want to reassure nervous first-timers, or a gym that wants to promote their new facility, video may be the perfect vehicle to showcase their business. In the past videographers who specialized in corporate videos may have gotten into a rut of creating staid productions with talking heads and long shots of business parks. Whoever was to blame, there are other options today. Humor is a popular approach and there are writers and producers able to deliver. Small business owners needing a fresh marketing approach and videographers looking to expand their market should think about video.

Here are a few articles and sites offering some information on options and trends:

Which Social Media Platform is Right for your Business?
Hootsuite Blog
by Evan Lepage

Trends in Corporate Video Production
Direct Images Interactive - Insights Blog
by Cydne Stewart

Agency Arms Race Grows for Video Production
Advertising Age
by Maureen Morrison

Webby Awards 2015
Honoring the Best on the Internet





Supplier Connection Webinar - Understanding the Procurement Process of the Kellogg and Caterpillar Companies

Supplier Connection is a FREE, Web-based portal that allows small businesses to register to become suppliers to Fortune 500 corporations, mid-market firms, and other enterprises.  It is open to any small business with less than $50M in revenue OR less than 500 employees.  https://www.supplier-connection.net/SupplierConnection/index.html

Supplier Connection is offering a webinar on July 28 at 1:00 PM for clients to learn about the procurement needs and best practices for doing business with the Kellogg and Caterpillar companies.  Speakers include Charly Ugorji, Supplier Diversity Manager at Caterpillar, and Debra Quade, Supplier Diversity Manager at the Kellogg Company.  Each will share how procurement works at their corporation and what they look for in suppliers.

Small businesses will have the opportunity to ask questions during a Q&A session at the end of the webinar.


Call 877-789-BIDS (toll free) to reach the NY SBDC Procurement Assistance Center with questions about this program or general procurement assistance.

 

The Power of Going Mobile for Small Business

How often do you pick up your smartphone throughout the day? When you wake up; when you’re standing in line for your coffee; when you get a notification? According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, the average person looks at their phone 150 times a day. With 57% of customers saying they would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site, the power of mobile for small businesses is undeniable. Here are a few tips to get started:

Put your website to the mobile test.

More from America's SBDC

Monday, July 13, 2015

IRS Webinar on the ACA Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Upcoming IRS webinar for the Affordable Care Act: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit (SBHCTC).

Date: 8/5/2015

Time: 1:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Location: On-line Webinar
Contact Name: Susan Jensky
Contact Email: Susan.R.Jensky@irs.gov

Event Information: The IRS will discuss the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit, who qualifies and how to report the credit. SEFCU will discuss the market place and how they can assist you in choosing a health care provider to offer your employees.

This webinar will be conducted via WebInterpoint. Pre-registration is required.

To pre-register, email Susan Jensky at mailto:Susan.R.Jensky@irs.gov. Include the following information:

Name:
Email:
Job title:
Name of organization you represent:
Affiliated organization (ie: chamber of commerce, SEFCU, etc.):
Phone number:

Covert Discrimination: What You Need to Know About Coded Job Listings

Sometimes employment discrimination is obvious; for example, a particularly bigoted manager or supervisor may use racial slurs or explicitly admit to discriminatory intent. Those cases are rare, however. More often than not it is much harder to prove employment discrimination because employers who want to discriminate have become quite good at hiding their intentions. One trick these employers use is using coded language in their job postings. They list job qualifications that are a pretext for eliminating certain job candidates. This is particularly common when it comes to age discrimination.

"Digital Native" and "Recent Graduate" Can be Code for "Young"

More from Payscale

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Geocoding System Map

The FFIEC Geocoding/Mapping System (System) helps financial institutions meet their legal requirement to report information on mortgage, business, and farm loan applications. Geocoding refers to the Metropolitan Statistical Area/Metropolitan Division (MSA/MD), State, County, Census Tract combination (address information) that must be provided for each reported loan application and the System allows institutions to enter a street address to determine the corresponding geocode. The System also provides Census demographic information about a particular census tract, including income, population, and housing data.

Go to FFIEC

Friday, July 10, 2015

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rates [Infographic]

Boost your email's chances of being opened by following these quick tips from Sikich.

"Before sending your emails, tell your recipients what type of content they can expect and how often they'll be hearing from you," states Sikich.

When you do send the email, send it from a real person. Avoid impersonal info@company.com email addresses.

Also, spend time crafting an engaging subject line: "64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line," states Sikich.

Find out more about critical email elements and how they increase your email's open rates by checking out the infographic from Marketing Profs

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Rising to the challenge of a 21st century workforce

As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we are currently enjoying the longest run of private sector job growth on record―64 consecutive months to the tune of 12.8 million new private sector jobs overall. We’ve come a long way since late 2008 and early 2009 when the economy, on the brink of meltdown, was shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month.

The resilience of American workers―together with the ingenuity of our businesses and leadership from the Obama administration―pulled us out of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. And I have every confidence that our workers, ever innovative and industrious, will continue to be our most valuable economic asset a quarter century from now.

But still we face lingering and looming challenges. For about the first 25 years of the post-World War II era, wages rose more or less in line with productivity. But from 1973 to 2013, productivity has continued to soar (an increase of 74.4 percent), while hourly compensation for the typical worker has virtually flattened (up only 9.2 percent). Over the last four decades, workers have not received their fair share of the value they have helped create. They are serving the economy better than the economy is serving them.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Consider A Resale Franchise

You’re considering going into business for yourself. Perhaps you’re looking into a franchise, but you’re not sure you’re ready to start a brand new franchise outlet. Even with all the support and systems in place to aid new franchisees, the thought of tackling a brand new franchise outlet can be intimidating to some. An attractive option for those individuals may be a resale franchise opportunity.

Franchises all over the country will routinely be resold by the previous franchisee for a variety of reasons. These outlets may be a little more “ready-made” for an immediate business opportunity, yet all businesses aren’t created equal. Also, you may not know which franchises are for sale. Many times, the franchisee must work back through their franchisor in a resale opportunity. You need to find the right guidance and investigate, there’s no substitute for performing your proper due diligence throughout the business investigation process.

More from America's SBDC

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Importance of Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation under the ADA

On June 11, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and United Airlines announced a landmark consent decree resolving ongoing litigation about what it means to reassign an employee as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To understand the significance of this agreement, we must first understand why reassignment as a reasonable accommodation is so important. When Congress passed the ADA in 1990, it recognized the need for a national legal framework to protect the employment rights of people with disabilities. Employment is a hugely important part of our collective lives. In addition to a paycheck, a job can provide other benefits, such as self-esteem and a sense of belonging, and for 25 years, the ADA has helped employees with disabilities obtain and maintain employment.

More from the Disability Blog.