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Showing posts from March, 2010

SBA Awards Grants to Help Veteran Small Business Owners

Release Date: March 31, 2010
Contact: Cecelia Taylor (202) 401-3059
Release Number: 10-10
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news/

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced the award of grants to 10 local SBA Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to increase entrepreneurial assistance to veterans. The grants will provide approximately $1 million to fund programs for veterans that promote business ownership and provide services to small businesses dealing with the deployment of key personnel overseas.

Each SBDC receiving funds will promote increased coordination of services to veterans, and will use multimedia tools to connect veterans through distance learning and customized online business counseling by providing services to reach the local veteran business community. Five of the centers were previously awarded grant funds to provide these services, and will now receive a second year of funding. Five centers will receive grant funds for the f…

Are You Sure They're Independent Contractors?

Yesterday, CNN Money ran a story called "Auditors Crack Down on 'Independent Contractors'," echoing a similar story that appeared in the New York Times back in February. We've written before on how the IRS differentiates when a person is an employee, or when he or she is considered to be a contractor. Check out the link in that post to an IRS document that spells out the difference between the two.
Companies who utilize independent contractors are not obliged to pay unemployment insurance, or worker's comp, or Social Security taxes, or Medicare taxes . . .
As these articles mention, at a time where the majority of state unemployment insurance coffers are empty, great interest in auditing companies with significant utilization of contractors has revived. Seven billion dollars is seven billion dollars, which is what the IRS is hoping to generate by conducting these reviews throughout the country.
If your business is in the habit of using contractors, make sure…

DEC Hunting and Fishing Licenses by County

I found a link to the number of hunting and fishing licenses broken down by county in New York State which I thought would be helpful for research. The data on this sheet is broken down by year with the amount of revenue obtained from selling the licenses also included in the data. The document is an ftp and the website to get this information is located at ftp://ftp.dec.state.ny.us/dfwmr/licsales. I got this link by going to the website http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/26368.html and looking at the bottom of the page where it provided the website address where the breakdown of counties would be located.

Businesses Starting to See Value in Social Media

A recent report released from the Small Business Success Index (SBSI) showed that social media adoption by small businesses is, in fact, increasing. Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business sponsored the report and found that over the last year, the number of small businesses using social media has gone from 12 percent to 24 percent.

More HERE, including some downsides.

The video.
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What Not to Do on Your Business Website

The Now Generation

Recently I heard the song The Now Generation by the Black Eyed Peas for the first time. After listening closely to the lyrics, it occurred to me that the lyrics are a good guide to how businesses should handle marketing to the American youth, or in their words, the

"Fast Internet, stay connected in a jet
Wi-fi, podcast, blasting out an SMS"

generation. Actually, I can think of quite a few adults where

"Google is my professor
Wikipedia, checker
Checkin' my account, loggin' in and loggin' out"

is as true with them as it is with their children. Check out the resources below for more information on marketing to today's youth.

Click with Millennials Through Multiple Channels - The Millennials market is motivated and has money, but offering them genuinely valuable services is key to winning their advocacy.

Print is a Youth Market - According to 2007 research from McPheters & Company, the younger generation not only reads digitally, but they also read tr…

Reminder: the Census

March 2010
Dear New Yorker,

Census forms have arrived at your address, and I am writing to remind you to take 10 minutes to fill-out the 10 questions for each person living in your home, and mail it back today.

The Census is safe and confidential. By law, no one other than the Census Bureau staff is allowed to see your questionnaire for 72 years – not even the President. As you know, the census is a count of every person, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, living in the United States and its territories. It is required by the United States Constitution and is the foundation of our representative democracy.

The Census is important. Census data will be used to determine everything from how many representatives you get in our political system to how much money our State will receive from the federal government for essential services like education, affordable housing, and health care.

The Census is easy. I am asking all New Yorkers to fill out the census form for each pers…

Mission Statements & Codes of Ethics

If you are looking for a mission statement to emulate, your first stop should be MissionStatements.com. It includes statements from Fortune 500 companies, but also from restaurants, technology companies, construction businesses, real estate firms, hospitals, day care centers and more. It also contains some slogans/mottos and business descriptions.

The web page says: A company's mission statement is a constant reminder to its employees of why the company exists and what the founders envisioned when they put their fame and fortune at risk to breathe life into their dreams. Woe to the company that loses sight of its Mission Statement for it has taken the first step on the slippery slope to failure.

BELL: The Business Ethics Links Library is "a comprehensive starting point for research in corporate ethics and social responsibility. The database provides access to codes of ethics for U.S. companies and trade and professional associations, ethics sites at college and university busin…

Game Savers

Here's a fun, short article from this month's issue of The Atlantic. Titled "Pac Rat," it describes the efforts being made in certain circles of higher education to save the source code of video games that have long since gone out of favor (and whose intellectual property may no longer be in force). It also speaks to the issues behind technological preservation in general - with so much digitization in force, what becomes of data in general? Can it remain in a non-hard-copy ephemeral state forever? What becomes of the 1,000+ digital photos on my hard drive at home? How about this blog post? I'm fascinated by the judgments that will be made in the not-so-distant future, which reveals what amongst the deluge will live on, and what will fade away.

Sales Tax Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup

If you have a mail order/Internet business in New York State, and you have NYS customers, you need to charge sales tax on the eligible items at the rate of the location of the purchaser. This can seem quite onerous.

Fortunately there is an electronic Sales Tax Jurisdiction and Rate Lookup. You type in the street address and ZIP Code and it will generate the correct rate. Incidentally, trying to find a list of sales tax rates by ZIP Code would be fruitless, since ZIP Codes are no respecters of county boundary.

One thing this lookup does NOT do, however, is to indicate which counties have set aside, at the county level, the sales tax on individual clothing items that cost $110 or less. You need to check this chart.

Census 2010 - It's Only 10 Questions!!!

Every household in the US will be receiving the 2010 Census form sometime this week. The Census has eliminated the long form, so every household will receive the same form. There is some information regarding the Census that is not well known or often debated. The links and quotes below are to help clarify Census issues.

The Cost of the Census

Responding By Mail Can Save Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions:

- The Census Bureau today estimated that if every household completed and mailed back their census form, taxpayers could reduce the cost of taking the census by $1.5 billion. The Census Bureau saves about $85 million in operational costs for every percentage point increase in the nation’s participation rate by mail.

- “It costs the government just 42 cents for a postage paid envelope when a household mails back the form,” said Census Director Robert M. Groves. “It costs $57 to send a census taker door-to-door to follow up with each household that fails to respond.”

Census Confidentiality

When Failing Leads to Success

We all know the feeling of failure. Well, I guess those few perfect people out there don't know that feeling, but the majority of us humans know that failing never feels good. But it can be good for you.

If we are open to learning from our failures, not only can we determine what factors caused us to fail in the first place, but then we can change the way we go forward. So while it's not always easy to view a failure as a learning experience, it may be the best way for your to succeed in the future.

A Silicon Valley Conference About Failing Is Big Success

10 Ways Failure Leads to Success

They spend how much?

Want to know more about the spending habits of your neighbors? Check out Bundle.com.

There are lots of forums and articles about spending topics, and you can take a quiz which will assign you a “spend type” based on your usual spending tendencies.

For our purposes, I think Everybody’s Money, a database on spending and saving trends, is more interesting. You can choose a location and see spending breakdowns. There are broad categories (like Health & Family) which you can then breakdown into smaller categories (like personal care, insurance, and pets). You can compare this data to other geographies, or compare within categories like age, household type or income.

According to their FAQ: “Our data comes from the U.S. government, from anonymous and aggregated spending transactions from Citi, and from third party data providers.”

This data shouldn't’t replace the more detailed consumer expenditure reports we can access from DemographicsNow, but it does seem to be an interesting and fun…

User Profiles on Web MQS

I'd like to offer a friendly reminder that if you have not already, you need to update your admin page on WebMQS. Even if you have done it recently, some updated information may not have been updated and it simply good practice to keep an eye on both your personal data as well as your center data. We rely on the primary email address that you wish to receive mail at to be at the top. We've noticed a few bounce-backs because of incorrect data - in one case data that was years out of date. So, please check your details often!

ClickZ

Over three years ago, I blogged about the efficacy of ClickZ for website user session information. But there's so much more to the site: statistics, white papers, news articles, expert columnists. It is, as it claims, "news and expert advice for the digital marketer."

Boat Owner Data

When doing research for a question on boats over 34ft in length on the DMV website I found it did not provide useful information so I had to expand my search. While doing my expanded search I found a website http://www.boatinfoworld.com/boat/registrations/allegany-county-ny-new-york.asp that provided a description of the boat owners by state and then a further division by county. The site can provide the address of people who have a boat license as well as the length and docking port of the boat. I figured this would be useful information for people who need to know more info about boat owners.

Online resources for finding graphic designers

Small businesses are less likely to have their own graphic designers on staff, so knowing how and where to find designers is important.

The following article describes 10 Fantastic Places for Finding Designers Online. These various tools allow users to find professional designers by location, expertise and to read and write reviews of their work.

Business Cards

Your Business Cards - Top 10 Blunders

Duct Tape Marketing
By Barbara Wayman
Published 02/28/2010

This article covers some key tips on what not to do to create an attractive and useful business card, most of which boil down to 'don't make it look homemade.' and on the other hand there are these great examples: CreativeBits

Changing the outcome

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Someone recently e-mailed me one those heart-tugging stories. This one starts: "A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: 'I am blind, please help.' There were only a few coins in the hat." Usually, these messages get quickly deleted, but this particular one did not.

Go read it here. Or here or here.

The business librarian in me focused on one particular line in the Moral of the Story category: "Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively."

The man rewriting the sign put a creative spin on the situation. He also recognized that doing things the way it had been done before - using the original wording - wasn't that successful, and the methodology had to change. And of course, the overriding message, which we at the Research Network embrace fully, is that signage matters. A lot.

These lessons seem applicable to any entrepreneur.

Yes, Another Article on Effective Marketing with Social Media

This article ("Social Media Helps Some Small Businesses Endure Bad Economy") is something you've seen before, but it bears repeating. Use of Facebook, Twitter, et al. requires imagination, just like any marketing campaign would (but at a much better price). This article focuses on the efforts of certain eating establishments. For those clients seeking inspiration, read on.