Friday, December 31, 2010

Where to find a lawyer or law firm

To find a lawyer, law firm, or legal services specific to your needs, I recommend Martindale.com. It is possible to browse or search for lawyers by popular practice areas or geographic areas.

Their 140-year-plus history began in 1868, when lawyer and businessman James B. Martindale first published The Martindale Directory. Its stated purpose was "to furnish to lawyers, bankers, wholesale merchants, manufacturers, real estate agents, and all others...the address of one reliable law firm, one reliable bank, and one reliable real estate office in every city in the United States..."

By 1896, The Martindale Directory included the basic information that still appears in the lawyer and law firm Profiles, as well as ratings and a section on foreign lawyers and firms.

In 1930, the Martindale Company purchased the publishing rights to Hubbell's Legal Directory, which contained a digest of state laws, court calendars and a selective list of lawyers and firms. The following year marked the first edition of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory; a two volume set that combined the features of both predecessor publications.

Today, Martindale-Hubbell offers solutions for both professional and consumer markets. Their online destinations contain profiles for over one million lawyers and firms in the United States, Canada and 160 other countries, serving as a fundamental legal resource and marketing tool.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Accepting Credit Cards on Your Website

How to accept credit card payments on your site without a merchant account

Why Do It?
Credit card payments allow you to take advantage of the following types of customers:
1.Impulse buyers.
2.International customers.

Methods of Accepting Credit Card Payments
There are actually two ways in which you can accept credit cards on your site.
1.Using Your Own Merchant Account.
2.Through a Third Party Merchant.

Which Method Should You Use?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SBA Unveils New Website, Launches SBA Direct

WASHINGTON – As part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s mission to ensure that small business owners and entrepreneurs have access to accurate, timely and helpful information, SBA Administrator Karen Mills today unveiled a newly re-designed SBA website. The new site also features the launch of SBA Direct, a dynamic new web tool with a variety of personalization features that will help small businesses start-up, succeed and grow.

...SBA Administrator, Karen Mills said, “While the SBA website has traditionally been an information-rich site, we wanted to make it easier for small business owners to navigate. With the new improved SBA.gov, business owners can access the answers they need, specific to their business profile, in an instant – it truly presents the face of the future of SBA.”

While the site features a variety of enhancements including a full re-design, new content, and improved navigation, the centerpiece is a dynamic new web tool called SBA Direct.

SBA Direct allows visitors to personalize their browsing experience according to their business type, geography and needs. SBA Direct then delivers relevant and targeted information on all aspects of running a business such as the steps involved in getting started, business growth strategies, and how to stay compliant with current laws and regulations. SBA Direct also provides information on the available SBA programs that can help businesses succeed, such as financial assistance, exporting and government contracting opportunities, counseling and training.

“Transforming the SBA into a proactive, responsive and ‘customer-centric’ organization that better serves the needs of the nation’s more than 29 million small businesses is an exciting, yet enormous effort,” said Mills. “We’ve made significant progress, and the new SBA.gov is just one example among many, including record growth capital financing, expedited loan approvals and the acceleration of disaster assistance resources and funds of how SBA has, and will continue to support the growth of small businesses and job creation.”

Other new features to the web site include:
• SBA’s small business search that improves the accuracy and relevancy of search results —saving time and frustration.
• Improved navigation that gives users one-click access to the information they need. Combined with the personalization features of SBA Direct, users no longer have to mine through pages of information to find answers.
• Integration of Business.gov content including a variety of guides and tools that collate information from across government agencies to help business owners comply with laws and regulations, and take advantage of government programs.
• Interactive location-based maps that allow users to quickly find small business resources in their area, including local SBA offices, and other sources of training and support.
• User-rated content gives visitors to the site direct control in determining the most useful and relevant information to feature by small business topic.

SBA’s commitment to using web services to provide small businesses with greater access to the pool of government resources available began in 2006 with the launch of the award-winning Business.gov website, and later with the Business.gov Community initiative in 2009 (the first government-sponsored online community built specifically for small businesses), and more recently with SBA’s own social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The new SBA.gov built on these achievements and best practices as a driver for its transformation. The project is also a flagship for the agency’s Open Government Plan, with the goal of building an online presence for SBA that is transparent, participatory and collaborative.
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SBA.gov Demonstrates Agency’s Commitment to Transformation – Giving Small Business Owners Quick and Easy Access to the Resources they need to Succeed and Create Jobs

SBA NEWS RELEASE
Release Date: December 21, 2010
Contact: Carol Chastang (202) 205-6987
Release Number: 10-73
Internet Address: carol.chastang@sba.gov

Friday, December 17, 2010

Business Stages for Entrepreneurs

While it is unfortunate that the James J. Hill Library can no longer provide us with online databases, there are still offering resources for entrepreneurs. Extremely useful are Business Stages for Entrepreneurs. Business Stages for Entrepreneurs is a free online information resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them grow. The five stages and the information provided for each are:

Exploring - Resources that will help you test your business concept against the current market place.

Beginning - The nine major steps in starting a new business.

Growing - Resources to help your business grow and expand.

Managing - Tips and tools to help your business stay successful.

Maturing - Options for when you've reached your business goals and are ready to move on.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SBA, Microsoft introduce resource to deliver essential tech info to small biz owners

WASHINGTON – A new technology tool for small businesses is now available to help them grow and create jobs. The new education resource, Business Technology Simplified, helps small business owners connect the dots between entrepreneurship and technology to give them a competitive edge.

The U.S. Small Business Administration and Microsoft have teamed up to develop this free, comprehensive guide on how technology can improve the small business owner’s chances for success. The Business Technology Simplified guidebook includes fundamentals on the importance of technology, and on how it can be used to achieve a business’s goals. In the guidebook’s foreword, Earvin “Magic” Johnson writes about his journey in developing a multimillion dollar company and the value of technology to remain competitive...

Business Technology Simplified offers straightforward tips on how to use technology and innovation to make businesses work more efficiently. The guidebook incorporates relevant and practical material on simplifying work tasks, do it yourself marketing, cloud computing, time management, finding and cultivating customers, and much more...

Business Technology Simplified is available in a printed format in SBA district offices and local SBA resource partners, or may be accessed online as an electronic publication and as an electronic distance learning course. The new online course has been created for self-paced access to practical guidance on applying technology to build and grow strong companies.

The Business Technology Simplified online course allows quick access by small business owners to learn more about basic technology tools that can help their companies run more efficiently. The course features an audio guided lesson indexed by modules that includes information on how to use technology to save time in day-to-day tasks, how to better manage a business, mobile solutions that work, and tips on expanding customer base.

To access the course, go to www.sba.gov/training, then click Business Technology Simplified in the Highlighted Courses section. It is one of nearly 30 online tutorials offered by the SBA, and is available 24/7.

About SBA: The U.S. Small Business Administration is the nation’s largest financial backer of small businesses. The SBA’s programs and services help business owners start, run, and grow their businesses, and provide a range of financial, technical, and management assistance. SBA also plays a major role in the government’s disaster relief efforts by making low-interest recovery loans to both homeowners and businesses. For more information on SBA’s programs and services visit www.sba.gov...

or more information on Microsoft technologies for small and mid-sized businesses, visit http://www.microsoft.com/business.

SBA’s participation in this cosponsorship does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs, services and cosponsored activities are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Cosponsorship Authorization #10-7630-140.
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SBA PRESS OFFICE
Release Date: December 13, 2010
Release Number: 10-71
Contacts: Microsoft - Amy Messano (248) 304-2108; SBA - Cecelia Taylor (202) 401-3059 Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SBA Renews Patriot Express Loan Initiative for 3 More Years

WASHINGTON – A very popular initiative that in just three-and-a-half years has provided more than $560 million in loan guarantees to nearly 7,000 veterans to start or expand their small businesses is being renewed for three more years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Patriot Express, a streamlined pilot loan product based on the agency’s SBA Express program, offers an enhanced guaranty and interest rate on loans to small businesses owned by veterans, reservists and their spouses. Over the past two years, due in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, loan volume increased dramatically.

“America’s veterans have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The impact of this program over the last three-and-a-half years has meant thousands of veterans and their families have had the resources to pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs, and at the same time create jobs and drive economic growth at a critical time for our country. Renewing it means we can continue to fulfill our sacred commitment to the men and women who serve our country by giving them every opportunity for success.”

Patriot Express was launched June 28, 2007, to expand upon the more than $1 billion in loans SBA guarantees annually for veteran-owned businesses across all its loan programs. SBA also offers counseling assistance and procurement support each year to more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard and their spouses.

Patriot Express loans are offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and feature one of SBA’s fastest turnaround times for loan approvals. Patriot Express loans are available for up to $500,000.

The Patriot Express loan can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases. Local SBA district offices can provide lists of Patriot Express lenders in their areas. Details on the initiative can be found at www.sba.gov/patriotexpress.

To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, please visit the website at www.sba.gov/vets.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Occupational Wages in New York State

The New York State Department of Labor provides very useful statistics on wages, both by occupation and industry. Annual wages for each occupation are divided into mean, median, entry, and experienced levels. Wages can be examined at both the state level and by region. This is the best way to determine what a business owner should pay their employees.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Free5500.com

A nifty source. Tip of the hat to Hill Libraries:

Free5500.com contains PDFs of Forms 5500 from companies of all shapes and sizes. What is a Form 5500, you ask? It's a disclosure form required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Depending on the Plan type and other factors, the accompanying schedules may include information such as ESOP (employee stock ownership program) information, financial information, service providers, financial transaction schedule, retirement plan information, and more.

Free5500.com requires free registration to access, but registration lets you search by company name, EIN, state, ZIP, area code, plan type or class, assets, and number of participants, and includes up to 10 years of historical forms. You can also print the PDF formatted documents. Note that the free access may limit you to forms that are at least 2 years old or so (a subscription may net you more current data, as well as other perks such as more robust searching).

Free5500.com is a service of Pension Data Resources, Inc., the publishers of the respected ERISA Red Book. Those who may find this site valuable include those in finance, insurance, securities, law, accounting, and many other related fields, as well as plan participants themselves.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NEW American FactFinder available in January 2011

American FactFinder is the primary tool for accessing data on the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey, Population Estimates and eventually the Economic Census.

This link will help you navigate the new version of the American FactFinder page on the Census website. Please take some time to become familiar with the site before it goes live in January 2011.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Building Purchase Check-off List

Here's a link one of our SBDC advisers found. It's from 1997, and you have to wait for the commercial, but it's useful stuff.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Small Business Advocate

Release Date: December 2010

Volume 29, number 8

The Small Business Advocate is a periodic newsletter that details economic developments and regulatory trends related to small business as well as the latest initiatives of the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

In This Issue
Broadband Survey Published
Chief Counsel Calls for Repeal of 1099 Requirement
Where Will the Jobs Come From?
FCC Broadband Comments
H-2B Program Changes
and more

Thursday, December 02, 2010

One Page Form for Health Care Tax Credit for Small Businesses

December 2, 2010 letter from Karen Mills, SBA Administrator

Dear Small Business Owner,

As I’ve traveled the country this year, I have heard from many of you who are looking forward to the new tax credits, health insurance exchanges, and other tools that will help you provide health insurance coverage to your employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The most immediate benefit of the new law is a tax credit that will help America’s smallest employers and nonprofit organizations (less than 25 full-time equivalent employees with average annual wages below $50,000) who have been hit hardest by premium increases in recent years. Today, I’m pleased to announce that the Administration is releasing a one-page form and instructions on how to claim this credit for the 2010 tax year. In addition, new guidance released today answers questions that many of you have asked related to: your current contribution arrangements, eligibility for certain religious institutions, and participation by multiemployer health and welfare plans. In each case, the Administration has worked to ensure that a broad range of small businesses can qualify.

These credits are available for tax years 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. Through 2013, the maximum tax credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by small employers and 25 percent for eligible tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2014, those levels increase to 50 percent and 35 percent, respectively. Importantly, these credits are just one of many benefits in the Affordable Care Act. Most notably, in 2014, firms with up to 100 workers will be able to pool their buying power and reduce their administrative costs by purchasing coverage through a health insurance exchange.

Finally, the new law strengthens America’s entrepreneurial spirit, overall. For example, it outlaws discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, giving more Americans the ability to break out of “job lock” and start their own companies. The new law also prohibits insurance companies from dramatically increasing premiums for a small business just because one worker gets sick.

Overall, the Affordable Care Act is a critical tool that will help millions of small business owners provide health insurance to people who you often consider to be members of your extended family – your employees. As a nation, we owe you nothing less as you work to grow, create jobs, and lead us toward full economic recovery.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

World AIDS Day

An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and yet one out of five don’t know it. World AIDS Day (December 1) is an opportunity to take action.