Friday, December 30, 2011

10 Ways to Win Back an Unhappy Customer

Very few problems can be as frustrating and difficult to address as an unhappy customer.

That's because there's no single way to "fix" a broken customer relationship. Every situation -- and every customer -- is different. Success depends on your ability to listen, adapt, evolve, and rise to the challenge.

See MORE.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

SBA Accepting Nominations for Small Business Innovation Research Awards

2012 SBIR Tibbetts Awards and SBIR Hall of Fame Awards to be presented in April

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking nominations for awards honoring the critical economic role small businesses play in federally funded research and development through SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Three awards will be given, one for companies that have participated in the SBIR/STTR programs, one for individuals who advocate on behalf of the programs, and a third “Hall of Fame” award recognizing companies that have an extended period of extraordinary success of research, innovation, and product commercialization within the SBIR or STTR program.

The Tibbetts Awards are named after Roland Tibbetts, who was instrumental in developing SBIR, a highly competitive program to ensure small businesses get a chance to compete for federal research and development funding, along with the opportunities it provides to profit from commercialization of the technologies they develop.

The SBIR and STTR programs currently account for more than $2.5 billion per year in federal R&D funds and are coordinated by the SBA in cooperation with 11 other federal agencies with large external research and development budgets.

The awards are presented to companies and individuals that are beacons of promise and models of excellence in high technology. Typical of past award winners are a Maine company that created a self-propelled and eco-friendly “AquaPod” for sustainable aqua-culture. A previous Hall of Fame award winner that won numerous SBIR grants – a major west coast chip manufacturer – started with a staff of 35 and has expanded to a global work force of 17,500.

Selections for Tibbetts Awards are based on several factors, including the economic impact of the technological innovation, overall business achievement and demonstration of effective collaborations.

Nominations for these awards opened December 15, 2011 and will close 5 PM EST on January 31, 2012. Awards will be presented in Washington, DC, in April` 2012. To submit a nomination, please visit tibbetts.challenge.gov (Tibbetts Awards – companies and individuals) and sbirhof.challenge.gov (Hall of Fame Awards).

Release Date: December 27, 2011
Contact: Dennis Byrne (202) 205-6567
Release Number: 11-68
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Harmonized System Code Changes

Did you know that there are major changes to the Harmonized System (HS) taking place in 2012? The bulk of the changes are in food-related chapters (1-21). Other chapters with notable changes include:
Water-pipe tobacco (24)
Biodiesel (27 and 38)
Mercury compounds (=> 28)
Water-jet cutting machines (85)
Video game machines (95)
Diapers, etc. (96)


Visit Export.gov to find out more.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Buying a Business – Key Legal Steps and Considerations to Bear in Mind

Buying a business is often perceived as a less risky option than starting your own business from scratch, however without proper research, due diligence, and consideration for the key legal steps and potential liabilities involved – it can be a risky path to venture down.

MORE...

Monday, December 26, 2011

The new New York State Statistical Yearbook

The New York State Statistical Yearbook provides more than 700 pages of data, tables, graphs and maps on the state's people, economy and government, as well as selected comparisons with other states. Who needs this information? Members of the news media, government officials, citizens and others. The data enhance understanding of the economic and social environment in which state government operates. Such improved understanding is increasingly important as tough decisions must be made in a challenging fiscal climate.

Originated 35 years ago as a joint project of the Rockefeller Institute and the state Division of the Budget, the Statistical Yearbook is now available both in print and online, where data appear in both Excel spreadsheet and PDF format. The Institute is exploring options for placing additional relevant data about New York State government online.

Friday, December 23, 2011

7 Money-Saving Year-End Tax Tips for Small Business

Now is the time to take advantage of a basket of tax opportunities that can help your small business reduce its tax liability and save money come April 2012.

More HERE.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 New York State Business Plan Competition! Applications Now Being Accepted

The College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at the University at Albany, UAlbany's School of Business, the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer, and Syracuse University will host the third annual New York State Business Plan Competition on April 26, 2012.

The New York State Business Plan Competition is a venture creation and innovation competition that was established in 2009 to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New York State's colleges and universities.
The competition encourages students to fully engage in their research and allows them to gain valuable experience through presenting their business plan to potential investors and industry executives. The top applications will be selected by an external panel of judges to present in the final round of the competition and compete for over $100,000 in cash prizes.

Since 2010, over 35 student teams from 13 New York State colleges have presented at the competition. At the end of the 2011 competition, more than $150,000 in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded.

WHO'S ELIGIBLE?
Current undergraduate and graduate students from accredited colleges located in New York State. Teams must have a faculty advisor. Ventures should fall into one of the following categories: Healthcare, Information Technology, Nanotechnology, Clean Energy / Sustainability, Services, Social / Non-Profit.

WHAT'S UP FOR GRABS?
Over $100,000 in cash prizes

WHERE AND WHEN IS IT?
The 2012 competition is being held on Thursday, April 26 at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, NY.

HOW DO I APPLY?
All interested teams should go to http://www.nybplan.com/, complete the application, and submit it to Nicholas Querques at nquerques@albany.edu by 11:59 pm EST on Thursday, March 29, 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Agricultural Marketing Service

For more than 90 years, AMS has provided current, unbiased price and sales information to assist in the orderly marketing and distribution of farm commodities. Reports include information on prices, volume, quality, condition, and other market data on farm products in specific markets and marketing areas. Reports cover both domestic and international markets. The data is disseminated within hours of collection via the Internet and made available through electronic means, in printed reports, by telephone recordings and through the news media.

In particular, check out the Commodities Area, which provides current prices for COTTON, DAIRY, FRUIT AND VEGETABLE and LIVESTOCK AND SEED.

Monday, December 19, 2011

How name mixups can hurt an existing business

An interesting discussion on the internal SBDC listserv recently. Some of the info has been redacted for confidentiality reasons.

One of our advisors has a service provider client who has been in business for more than 10 years. He recently had a telephone call from a customer complaining about his work. He explained to the customer that he had not done work for her and after further investigation of her receipt she realized that the work was done by another company with a very similar name. Unfortunately both company’s are even located on the same street (different towns).

Upon further investigation of the new company my client discovered several dissatisfied customers. He contacted the new business owner who is not willing to change his company name. My client is wondering if anyone has any suggestions on ways to distinguish his company from the other. He is currently in the process of meeting with managers of local home improvement stores to make sure they are aware of the situation and referring the correct company to their customers.

Some of our colleagues chimed in.

*Who has the DBA or LLC?
It seems to me that whomever has registered the business first has the right to use the name. A lawyer can issue a “cease and desist” order to the other company on behalf of your client, IF you client legally registered the name before the other company started using it.

*I think we all need to know what a dba is and what it is good for. My understanding of a dba is that the name is filed in the county where one operates as a business and is allowed exclusive use of that name in that county. Here in our county, when a dba is applied for at the clerk’s office, that name is researched to see if it is already in use. If not, a dba can be issued. If the name is in use, the applicant chooses another name.

The original client may want to consider publishing a notice stating his position and having his attorney write a letter to the other party strongly suggesting SBDC counseling on business formation.

*A DBA filing is not exclusive. We had a new start-up purposefully usurp the outstanding reputation of a lady who had been offering services from her home for many years. The new filing was just down the road, same town, exact same name, etc. In some cases trademark protection makes sense, however, in this case perhaps investing money in advertising, signage, etc. would be effective.

*I’m by no means an expert on trademark law, but a foundation of it is to disallow the possibility of confusing the end user (in this case, a customer). One doesn’t necessarily have to register for a trademark in order to gain legal protection. If the client was first in the door with the name (i.e., registering as a DBA), and has a provable history of operating under that name, then someone who comes along with a similar name, and operating in the *very same* industry, is, by golly, confusing the end user (and damaging the reputation of another). I’m not someone who wantonly suggests legal action as the source of action, but it would seem to me (not knowing the whole story) that the client has a case.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wise Words with Chris Riley | Springwise

Wise Words with Chris Riley | Springwise:

'via Blog this'

I couldn't resist. This interview is with a local graduate (SUNY Albany) who has developed, with his partners, a great product that I can imagine a number of our clients would be interested in.

With the popularity of eBooks and the growing trend of self-publishing, Chris Riley has developed a product aimed at writers and artists. Moglue is a desktop application to create interactive eBooks.
Riley discusses the genesis of the company and the product.

Social media platform connects farmers with local buyers | Springwise

Social media platform connects farmers with local buyers | Springwise:

'via Blog this'

Not to beat the social networking drum too loudly, I believe networks will resolve themselves into something that is actually useful and needed. Once again, a favorite site of mine, Springwise, is there to show how people are innovating.

This article introduces Sustaination, a UK site that hopes to facilitate hooking up local buyers and producers. It is a review and recommendation site for local farmers, growers and buyers. Sustaination has produced a video to explain how it will work.

http://vimeo.com/eddowding/sustaination


Website: www.sustaination.co.uk
Contact: www.sustaination.co.uk/contact

Spotted by: Benj Street

Where Are Small Businesses Spending Their Marketing Budgets?

Based on responses to a survey, local media spend in the US is forecasted to hit $149.4B in 2015 with $37.9B of that being online/digital.

Local search is forecasted to hit $9.1B by 2015 – up from $5.1B in 2010.

The percentage of ad budget spent online continues to sit around 25%.

Businesses that are between 4-6 years old spend 33% of their budget on online advertising.

Businesses that are less than 3 years old spend 38%.

40% have a Facebook page, 14% have a blog, 14% use twitter, and 10% have YouTube videos.

22% intend to create a YouTube video in the next 12 months!

Those siting the importance of online ratings and reviews rose from 42% to 54% since last year.

Over 50% are buying online advertising on their own – though sometimes with assistance.


More HERE.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Career Pathways Toolkit

Improving the skills, knowledge, and credential attainment of American workers is an urgent priority. Labor market forecasts point to significant skills shortages looming in the future, despite high unemployment. If left unaddressed, these shortages could slow the process of economic recovery and reduce our competitiveness in the global economy.

Career pathway systems offer an effective approach to meeting these challenges. Through better alignment of education, training, and employment services among public agencies, they hold the promise of increasing the number of workers in the U.S. who gain the industry-recognized and academic credentials they need to work in the most in-demand occupations.

The new toolkit, released by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, provides a road map for States and local areas interested in applying the career pathway approach to solving pressing workforce challenges.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How tax professionals can use NYS Tax Department's Online Services

Businesses: you may wish to inform your tax preparer about this free webinar

The Tax Department is offering two webinars on December 19 and December 20, 2011, that will explain how tax professionals can use the Tax Department's Online Services to manage their clients' accounts. There is no charge to participate.

The webinar will explain how to create an Online Services account for clients and preparers' own business to:
-file returns on behalf of clients
-sign up for email notifications from the Tax Department
-access other available online services offered by the Tax Department

Expanded e-file mandate
This year, the e-file mandate has been expanded. Now, all tax professionals must e-file their clients' returns. View the e-file mandate information.

The first webinar will be conducted on December 19 from 10:30 am until 12:00 pm. The webinar will be repeated on December 20 from 10:00 am until 11:30 am. Participation is limited to 150 individuals on a first come, first serve basis. You can join the meeting 10-15 minutes before the webinar starting time to assure yourself placement in the meeting.

Sign up:
for the December 19 webinar
for the December 20 webinar

Audio conference information: Provide your phone number when you join the meeting to receive a call back. Alternatively, you can call:
Call-in toll-free number: 1-866-3942346 (US/Canada) Call-in number: 1-404-6659224 (US/Canada) Conference Code: 943 209 8479

Friday, December 09, 2011

Top 6 Social Media Marketing Trends of 2011

Top 6 Social Media Marketing Trends of 2011

Reflect on what has been happening in social marketing in 2011 in this article by Todd Wasserman on Mashable.
While not a year for big changes, this article discusses how it has been more confirmation of who the main players are and for the small business owner, an indication of where they should invest their marketing energy.

Always on Women: Technology

Here is a survey of how women are really using technology today [PDF], from laptops to mobile, from AdAge in collaboration with JWT.

The single most interesting thing was the Millennial Profile of Aimee MacDonald (page 9), who, despite her high-tech lifestyle, learned "the value of a good old-fashioned person-to-person phone call."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Green Building: Federal Initiatives

Source: Government Accountability Office

Economic, environmental, and health concerns have spurred interest in "green building" — construction and maintenance practices designed to make efficient use of resources, reduce environmental problems, and provide long-term financial and health benefits. Federal laws and executive orders direct agencies to meet green building standards in federal buildings and to foster green building in the nonfederal sector; the latter includes private, state, local, and tribal entities and accounts for the majority of the nation's buildings. GAO was asked to (1) identify current initiatives by federal agencies to foster green building in the nonfederal sector and (2) determine what is known about the results of these initiatives.

Full report (PDF)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

How to prove you're a certified small business

I've written here before about the fact that, unlike for women-owned, or minority-owned businesses, there is no certification, as such, for small business in New York State. Yet, certain vendors that offer set-asides for small businesses are looking for such documentation; calls to our office confirm this trend.

Generally speaking, most government procurement entities allow for self-certification; what one US President once called "trust but verify." It appears, though, that some companies have decided to have small business set-asides, and erroneously believe that ALL states have a more systematic procedure, as California reportedly does, or did. What is a small business to do?

If the business is listed in a database such as Reference USA or a Dun & Bradstreet product, perhaps a record from those sources would do. Perhaps a file business certificate a/k/a a DBA, might be enough. But maybe not.

My favorite suggestion, from one of our SBDC advisors, which one should do after checking out Steps to Registering as a Federal Contractor:
"One way to show small business based on SBA’s size standards is by registering in the CCR (Central Contract Registry). As a business register’s in the CCR and sets up their SBA profile, it will confirm based on their NACIS codes and their revenues whether or not they are considered a small business. Yes, it is a self-certifying process, but also with the SBA profile it is confirmed within the system. The small business can direct the larger business to their CCR registration which show’s SBA’s approval that they are considered a small business."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

SBA’s Web Chat to Focus on Tax Essentials For Small Business Owners

Thursday, December 15, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., EST

WASHINGTON – With the end of the 2011 tax year right around the corner, small business owners can help prepare themselves for the upcoming filing season by clicking in to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s free December web chat for tips on potential year-end tax savings.

Chat participants can get valuable information on how to prepare now with useful tax savings tips and a set of red flags on mistakes to avoid.

WHO: Edward S. Karl, CPA, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, will host SBA’s free December web chat on “Tax Essentials for Small Business Owners.” Karl will answer questions about tax deductions and credits business owners can use to reduce their tax payments, as well as other tax-saving tips.

WHAT: SBA’s web chat series provides small business owners with an opportunity to discuss relevant business issues online with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Chat participants have direct, real-time access to the web chats via questions they can submit online in advance and during the live session.

WHEN: December 15, at 1:00 p.m. EST
Karl and AICPA staff will answer questions for one hour

HOW: Participants can join the live web chat on Dec. 15, and also post questions in advance by going online at www.sba.gov, and clicking the web chat event under What’s New.

Advisory Date: December 5, 2011
Contact: Cecelia Taylor
Advisory Number: MA11-31
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Monday, December 05, 2011

Top 100 Canada blogs

What are the influential blogs in Canada? Try Blog Rank. Noticed that Travel blogs dominate the rankings.

You can use the main site to check out other categories as well.

Friday, December 02, 2011

20 Cool Trends in College Marketing

"College marketing is at an interesting crossroads today. Students and colleges have become more concerned with saving money, while at the same time, more technologies for marketing and communication have developed. Often, this means that college marketing departments are able to work smarter and leaner, saving money while at the same time more effectively targeting and attracting the right students to the right campus. Other times, it means that they’re able to better pinpoint what works and what doesn’t, focusing their efforts on what really brings students to campus and keeps them there."

More HERE.

Is any of this applicable to YOUR business?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

SBA’s Disaster Assistance Lending Marks $50 Billion Milestone

Since 1953 the SBA has approved more than 1.9 million loans to U.S. Residents and Businesses

WASHINGTON – Emergency lending by the U.S. Small Business Administration to survivors of natural and man-made disasters since 1953 has surpassed $50 billion, SBA’s head of disaster response told members of the U.S. House Small Business Committee at a hearing on federal disaster response programs.

“Since the agency’s founding in 1953,” said SBA Associate Administrator James Rivera, “the agency has made more than 1.9 million low-interest disaster loans worth more than $50 billion to homeowners, renters, nonprofit organizations and businesses of all sizes.”

The $50 billion in SBA assistance represents loans made to help residents and business owners recover from many of the most devastating disaster events in U.S. history. Since FY 1989, more than $36 billion in SBA disaster loans have been made, with significant portions of that total going to those rebuilding after the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 ($4 billion), 1997’s Upper Midwest Floods ($738 million), Hurricane Ivan in 2004 ($2.2 billion), and the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes ($10.9 billion).

“Over the years SBA’s disaster assistance program has made it possible for small towns and large cities to rebuild, saving jobs and supporting the long-term economic recovery of areas that would have otherwise failed without the help,” said Rivera. “The SBA’s disaster loan program, with its low interest rates and reasonable terms make it possible for disaster victims to handle the cost of rebuilding and take the steps necessary to prevent the risk of being hit by a similar disaster.”

Disaster loans are the only form of SBA assistance not limited to small businesses. The SBA makes low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and non-farm businesses of all sizes. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate. Individuals may borrow up to $40,000 to cover losses to personal property.

Non-farm businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may apply for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged business assets and real property. Small businesses and non-profits that suffered economic losses as a direct result of the declared disaster may apply for a working capital loan up to $2 million, even if the property was not physically damaged.

More information about the disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.

Release Date: November 30, 2011
Contact: Carol Chastang (202) 205-9876
Release Number: 11-66
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Growing Immigrant Population’s Self Employment in the U.S.

For a growing immigrant community in the United States, setting up shop means blending tools of the trade from home with discoveries made in the new country, and there’s a strategy that’s threading through an array of small businesses.

Leila Rodriguez a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of anthropology, presents her research, “Traces of Home, Legacies of Culture: Business Development Among Nigerian Immigrants in New York City.”

Minding Their Own Business – UC Research Examines a Growing Immigrant Population’s Self Employment in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fighting piracy

From HERE

Cyber Monday shoppers looking to score NFL jerseys, DVDs or fancy handbags [had] a better chance of getting the genuine article, after federal enforcement agencies spent Black Friday taking control of 150 websites reputed to deal in counterfeit goods.

As part of the ongoing Operation in Our Sites, the Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized control of the sites’ domain names in the largest crackdown to date on online knockoffs, the department said in announcing the crackdown.

The domain name servers for the sites — the majority of them selling bogus NFL and other sports gear, along with some offering DVDs, UGG boots, Louis Vuitton bags and other goods — were switched to seizedservers.com, a server run by ICE. Many of the sites were registered to people in China, the Register reported.


That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that in this fight against piracy, there is much more far-reaching legislation proposed.

From HERE

The Stop Online Piracy Act... In part a companion bill to the Senate’s "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act," (Protect IP), the bill could punish Web companies that host unauthorized copyrighted content such as movies, songs or software.

Critics of the legislation say that it could increase lawsuits against Web companies or give the government too much power to shut down sites for hosting the content.

Who is for/against it?:... The Motion Picture Association of America is, unsurprisingly, one of the lead voices supporting the bill, but it is joined by allies from the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and, yes, even the International Association of Firefighters, who say that piracy saps the tax dollars that support emergency services.

The list of opponents is even more varied, from Web firms such as Google (which has made a huge push against the bill) to progressive rights groups who say the bill could stifle free expression online to tea party activists who say that the measure gives far too much business-strangling power to the government...

SOPA, critics say, goes even further than the Protect IP Act, because it grants the government even broader powers to go after Web sites hosting copyrighted content. Internet openness group Public Knowledge said that "SOPA is significantly worse than its Senate cousin" because it lowers the barriers to who can be considered liable for IP theft, saying that sites that don’t do enough to prevent piracy — such as search engines — can also be held liable for infringement.

How big of a problem is piracy?: Setting aside the debate of how it should be legislated, there’s evidence that online piracy is a serious financial problem for the country. The Chamber of Commerce estimates that U.S. companies lose $135 billion a year to counterfeiting and piracy.


Just how far should the fight against piracy go? What is the balance between law enforcement and government overreach?

FedEx Express National Service Disruption

From FedEx

The Memphis hub and flight operations experienced substantial disruptions Monday night due to snow and ice. Potential delays are possible for shipment deliveries across the U.S. FedEx is committed to provide service to the best of our ability. Continue to check fedex.com for service updates as well as track the status of your shipment.

Consistent with the provisions of the FedEx Service Guide, the money-back guarantee is suspended for U.S. packages and shipments inbound into the U.S. from international locations with a delivery commitment of Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fuel Economy Guide 2012

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy produce the Fuel Economy Guide to help car buyers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets their needs. ...

This Guide provides annual fuel cost estimates for each vehicle. The estimates are based on the assumptions that you travel 15,000 miles per year (55% under city driving conditions and 45% under highway conditions).

More HERE.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 26, 2011 is Small Business Saturday® – a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities. Please join the SBA and organizations across the country in supporting your local small business by shopping at a small business.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Raise Your Prices or Rates without Losing Customers

Everyone has to increase their prices eventually. If you’re fortunate your customers won’t notice. But in a budget conscious economy, the chances are they will. However, done right, raising your prices should not alienate your customers – particularly if they value you and your services

READ MORE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bribe Payers Index 2011

From Transparency International:

Bribing public officials when doing business abroad is a regular occurrence, according to a survey of 3,000 business executives from developed and developing countries.

Transparency International’s 2011 Bribe Payers Index ... ranks 28 leading international and regional exporting countries by the likelihood of their firms to bribe abroad. Companies from Russia and China, who invested US $120 billion overseas in 2010, are seen as most likely to pay bribes abroad. Companies from the Netherlands and Switzerland are seen as least likely to bribe.

More HERE.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Product Service Codes

Here is a link to Federal Product Service Codes and Federal Supply Codes. Revised Product Service Codes and Federal supply codes Effective 10/01/2011. The red codes expired 09/30/2011 and the blue codes have been added as of 10/01/2011

Product service codes are used by the United States government to describe the products, services, and research and development purchased by the government. Government procurement specialists and government contractors alike require a solid understanding of these codes in order to produce quality partnerships between buyers and suppliers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cyber Security and You

From New York's Libraries Information Network offers this advice from the Office of Cyber Security

1.Use Strong Passwords: Passwords should have at least eight characters and include letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and special characters. It is important to maintain separate passwords for different accounts to reduce the likelihood of one password being compromised, which may make other accounts vulnerable as well. Developing good password practices will help keep your personal information and identity secure.

ALSO
2.Limit the Use of External Devices
3.Avoid Phishing and Social Engineering Attempts
4.Be Cautious When Shopping Online
5.Limit the Use of Administrator Accounts
6.Update Your Software
7.Protect and Secure Mobile Devices
8.Enable Your Firewall
9.Use Anti-virus and Anti-spyware Programs
10.Secure Wireless Networks

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Customer service: A breed apart

From blogger LisaF

So how do you select which com­pany to sup­port with your money? Usu­ally it’s the one with the lowest price at our house. But what hap­pens when all pricing is equal? What tips the scales and get the nod?

More HERE.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Foreign Labor Certification data center

The Foreign Labor Certification Data Center includes an Online Wage Library with Download Data Files, plus Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) disclosure data for the Permanent, H-1B, H-2A and H-2B programs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Impact of Signage on Economic Development

And the SBDC was cited:

Harry C. Alford's presentation to the Signage Foundation Inc.; Mr. Alford is the President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce

In these turbulent economic times, small businesses rely on effective signage to help ensure the continued viability of their companies. While regulations are a necessary part of a complex society, regulatory flexibility is needed to ensure that businesses have the ability to attract new customers and bring back existing ones. Every law and regulation should be evaluated against its impact on jobs. On premise signs[are particularly important to black-owned business, especially those located in economically disadvantaged areas. Therefore, policymakers should develop and implement zoning laws and regulations for signs in a commonsense, business-friendly manner.

More HERE

NOTE that 10 of the 57 footnotes, starting with #13, are to New York State Small Business Development Center, What’s Your Signage? How On-Premise Signs Help Small Businesses Tap Into a Hidden Profit Center, (New York State Small Business Development Center 2004).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Should You Incorporate Your Freelance or Consulting Business?

If you are a consultant or freelancer you’ll be familiar with this often asked, yet perplexing question: Do I need to incorporate? Legally, the answer is no. The truth is over 70 percent of U.S. businesses are owned by sole proprietors, and operate successfully without incorporating. So, if you can legally operate and be successful without it, why would you want to incorporate your business?

READ MORE.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Economy

Explore economic activity in your own community - and across the country.

YourEconomy.org is a business census containing more than 24 million active establishments (over 41 million total) providing detailed information about the performance of businesses from a local to a national perspective.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Analysis of Small Business Innovation in Green Technologi​es

Previous Advocacy-funded studies of small business patenting activity established the existence of a cohort of independent, for-profit innovative small firms with 15 or more patents over a five-year period. The studies also showed that innovative small firms had a higher percentage of emerging technology patents in their portfolios than their larger counterparts. A recent focus on “green” jobs, businesses, and technology led to this study of a subset of these innovative patent holders [PDF]. This project was designed to highlight differences in the patent activity of small and large firms in green technologies and industries.

Small innovative firms in this study are even more productive, measured in terms of patents per employee, than was shown in the previous studies. The current study finds that small innovative firms are 16 times more productive than large innovative firms in terms of patents per employee. Small firms are more likely than larger firms to have green technology as a core part of their business.

The research summary can be found HERE [PDF].

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Employment shows a slight rise

by Isabella Woods

Employment levels have increased slightly according to Bureau of Labor Statistics released last month. The month of September saw an increase of 103,000 in the number of people employed, slightly higher than the monthly average for April-September which stands at 72,000. However, the increase should not be seen to hide the more complex employment picture.

Nearly half of the 103,000 increase can be accounted for by 45,000 telecommunications workers returning to their posts after a strike took them off the employment total for August. The total unemployment figure is largely unchanged by the increase in employment, standing at 14 million. The overall unemployment rate is 9.1%. Since April, the unemployment rate has remained stable, varying only between 9.0% and 9.2%.

Beneath the headline figures, we can see a difference in the fortunes of different industries. Reflecting tightened budgets, there was a fall in the number of government jobs of 34,000. Retail and manufacturing also saw falls. Perhaps surprisingly, construction saw a significant increase for the first time since February, with an increase of 26,000. Professional services and healthcare also saw increases.

Demographic surprise

There were striking differences too in the fortunes of different demographic groups. Worst hit by unemployment continues to be the under-twenties, for whom the rate runs at a high 24% (compared to 8.8% for adult men, and 8.1% for women). Among ethnic groups, there were also stark differences. The rate for white people (8.0%) and Asians (7.8%) is half that of black people (16%). For Hispanics, the rate is 11.3%. So, a black teenager is much more likely to be unemployed than a white adult. Such big differentials in the unemployment rates of different groups can lead to social dislocation and increased disaffection among those groups worst affected. In particular, the long-term unemployed within the worst hit groups may not feel they have any realistic chance of gaining employment. Just under half – 45% - of the total number of unemployed has been so for 27 weeks or more.

So, what are the chances of the picture improving? Growth forecasts at the beginning of the year were fairly positive, and the economy has shown signs of slow improvement. GDP growth in the first quarter of 2011 was just 0.4%, up to 1.3% in the second, and likely to hit 2.0% in the third. Similarly, employment rates are likely to continue to show modest rises, with around 150,000 a month forecast for 2012. These small improvements are not enough to make any significant dent in the overall unemployment rate, and therefore not likely to affect the employment chances of the worst affected groups. The Fed is determined to keep interest rates low, with a 2% maximum target, but that may have to be sacrificed if unemployment is to be tackled. For those on the margins of the economy, even basic economic participation such as the ability to compare broadband suppliers to get the best deal may seem alien: they are too busy struggling to find the money for meals. It will be interesting to see whether the Government and the Fed are able to bring down the unemployment rate, thus helping to bring into mainstream society some of those excluded from it through lack of work.

Isabella 'Izzy' Woods is a travel writer and journalist hailing from NYC, though has been traveling Europe and is settled in London (at least for now). She hopes to relocate her family back home in the near future.

Friday, November 11, 2011

SBA Helps Veterans Start, Grow and Expand Small Businesses

Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Disabled Veterans Expands to Eighth School

WASHINGTON – With thousands of service men and women returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Small Business Administration is welcoming them home with programs and initiatives to help them start, grow and expand their businesses.

“Around Veterans Day, our thoughts turn to the men and women who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to all who have made sacrifices and served our country in the armed forces,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “When you consider the leadership and management skills our veterans develop while on active and reserve duty, it’s no wonder we see so many of them choose a path as entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

SBA provides veterans access to much needed business counseling and training, capital and business development opportunities through government contracts.

Those products and programs include:

Entrepreneurial Development
SBA and Syracuse University are expanding the successful Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program to an eighth school, Cornell University. The growing partnership between SBA and Syracuse University, now in its third year, provides training on how they can start and grow a small business with programs targeted to service-disabled veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their family caregivers, women veterans, and National Guard and Reserve members and their families.

The “boot camp” was created and delivered by a network of some of the best business schools in the country. Last year, the first year SBA partnered with Syracuse University, 129 service-disabled veterans participated in the program.
Since the program’s inception, more than 320 wounded warriors have graduated and more than 150 businesses have been launched by graduates. Participating schools include: Syracuse University, University of Connecticut, UCLA, Florida State University, Texas A&M University, Purdue University, Louisiana State University, and Cornell University.

SBA is also providing $2.6 million through a cooperative agreement over three years for two new programs supporting veteran entrepreneurs.

The first, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), focuses on training, networking and mentorship for women veterans. The three-day, off-site training program, online training and network support structures are delivered in several locations around the nation, and anticipates serving up to 1,400 female veterans over a 36-month period.

The second, Operation Endure & Grow, targets National Guard and Reserve Component members, their families and partners. The goal of this program is to mitigate the small business economic hardship of deployed members and their families. The eight-week online course focuses on the fundamentals of launching and/or growing a small business for those who will sustain the business when the service member is deployed, injured or killed. Initially, 550 individuals are expected to participate. Together, V-WISE and Operation Endure & Grow are expected to serve over 1,950 individuals and their families over three years.

Access to Capital
SBA had a near record year lending to veteran-owned small businesses in fiscal year 2011. SBA lending to veterans in fiscal year 2011 amounted to more than 4,300 loans totaling $1.5 billion in its flagship 7(a) and 504 programs. Since 2007, SBA’s Patriot Express loan pilot initiative alone has guaranteed loans of more than $667 million to nearly 8,100 veterans, reservists and their spouses to establish or expand their small businesses. The initiative, extended through 2013, provided more than 1,560 loans totaling $142 million in fiscal year 2011. Patriot Express is offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and features one of SBA’s fastest turnaround times for loan approvals.

Government Contracting
SBA worked with both contracting officers and veteran-owned small businesses to deliver the highest-ever percentage of federal contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in FY2010, totaling $10.4 billion. Also, through parity legislation, SBA reestablished a level playing field for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses that compete with other small businesses for set-aside contracts.

The Office of Veteran’s Business Development provided SDVOSB procurement training to more than 3,000 SBVOSB’s in 2011 to help achieve the 3 percent SDVOSB goal. The SBA is expanding its outreach to service-disabled veterans with an online contracting tutorial to help veterans and military spouses who own small businesses identify and take advantage of federal contracting opportunities.

Task Force Report
SBA chairs the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development focused on improving and expanding opportunities for veteran business owners. The Task Force recently issued its first Report to the President and included 18 recommendations to increase access to capital, improve business development opportunities, and meet federal contracting goals for veteran-owned small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. You can read the whole report here.

SBA reaches out to veterans through its 68 SBA district offices, 15 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, more than 1,000 Small Business Development Centers, 110 Women’s Business Centers and some 12,000 SCORE volunteers. SBA also has numerous programs creating government contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/vets and www.sba.gov/reservists.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surety Bonds: How SBA Can Help Your Small Business Obtain This Centuries-Old Assurance

The idea behind surety bonding is simple and direct. One person, or entity, guarantees to another that a third person will perform a contract according to its terms. Small business contractors and service companies that want to become more competitive and bid on projects requiring surety bonds, can look to SBA for the help they need to step up to that next level of business success.

Read more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

5 Ways to Get that Federal Contract

The federal government spends more than $500 billion a year on contracts, making it the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. Small businesses throughout the country can and should take advantage of contracting opportunities, which can be a crucial source of revenue to help them grow, innovate and create jobs.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why Your Small Business May Need a Board of Directors

You may think that a board of directors is reserved for large corporations with shareholder investments to oversee and strategic decisions to be made. Some business structures may require you to have a board, but there are several other reasons why small businesses might consider forming a board.

Read more.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Growing Businesses, Creating Jobs

The U.S. Small Business Administration is using November to celebrate entrepreneurship in a number of ways.

It launched the Student Startup Plan to help more college graduates learn how to lower their loan payments in order to get the “breathing room” they need to start a business.

It is hosting a Young Entrepreneurs Series (YES) to help more young people come together, exchange ideas, and get on a path toward building a viable business.

It is kicking off the Apps for Entrepreneurs Challenge, which runs through Nov. 20. It has $20,000 in prizes for the best mobile apps that help America’s entrepreneurs tap into federal programs to help them grow a business and create jobs.

More info.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Stuff Nobody Tells You About Escaping Cubicle Nation

Cubicle Nation by Carmen Sognonvi

Do you fantasize daily about quitting your job?
...
As you sit in your cubicle, it may seem as if the hardest part of transitioning from side hustler to full-time business owner is making your escape.

But I’m here to tell you that life after the cubicle isn’t all unicorns and rainbows either.

It’s messy. It’s emotional.

And that’s okay, because you’ll come out of it a stronger person and a better entrepreneur.

More HERE.

Carmen Sognonvi regularly blogs HERE.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Business name search

When starting a new business, you probably want to check service or trademarks, which often is a way that organizations protect their brand, at the USPTO site.

Here's a link to a directory of all 50 states' Secretary of State sites, where one incorporates.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New Birth, Death, and Employment Firm Size Data

U.S. Census Bureau annual employment size of firm data (partially funded by the SBA Office of Advocacy) on firm births, deaths and job creation has been updated for 2008. Nonemployer data for 2009 was also updated and saw a decline from 2008 levels. See HERE for data.

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact the Office of Advocacy at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How to Use Twitter for Business

"Trying to unlock Twitter's business potential? Maintaining an effective Twitter presence can be a powerful part of your social media marketing strategy," and HubSpot is offering "the know-how to effectively take advantage of it."

"Learn how to leverage Twitter's 360 million users in [their] complimentary guide, Introduction to Twitter for Business, which covers everything from getting started with tweeting to generating leads and sales."

New York State Task Force Report on Tax Preparer Industry

The New York State Task Force on Regulation of Tax Return Preparers,
drawn from a diverse group of tax professionals, business, government
and academic leaders, has issued its report.

The report, required by legislation, recommends a set of minimum qualifications and a comprehensive set of standards for all tax return preparers.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Google and AmEx Do Small Business Contest for Free Advertising

Google introduced a new program in partnership with American Express called My Business Story. This lets small businesses tell their stories through videos, and leads up to the second annual Small Business Saturday, which is aimed at encouraging communities to spend and support local businesses. Deadline is November 15.

More HERE.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

List of Lists

While preparing for a presentation, a colleague stumbled upon this website created by a librarian that lists a series of lists. The specific link is to the business section, but there is a lot more info available. Some of the data are a bit dated, but at worst, it may give one a direction to find more information.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Drop Off Your Unwanted or Expired Medications this Saturday

From USA.gov

Saturday, October 29, you can dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired medications at a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day collection site. Find a drug collection site near you. If you can’t participate in Prescription Drug Take Back Day, learn how to safely and properly dispose of unused medicines.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Incubating Success

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration

Business incubation programs are designed to accelerate the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services, developed or orchestrated by the incubation program manager, and offered both in the incubator and through its network of contacts. A new report funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy; the State University of New York at Albany, the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA), and Cybergroup Inc. identifies best practices and key characteristics of successful incubators that policymakers and practitioners should know as they work to implement strategies to foster economic development.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2010 Guide to State and Local Census Geography

The 2010 Guide to State and Local Census Geography is now available. This Product is an update of the book by the same name that the Census Bureau produced in collaboration with the Association of Public Data Users (APDU) following the 1990 Census. (There was no similar product for 2000.) The 2010 web version offers similar content as the 1990 print version, but also provides links to lists of geographic entities within each state.

This guide provides a nice summary of each state’s geographic structure and some highlights about the state’s geographic history and current geography. Here's New York’s information.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nominate a Small Business Today | National Small Business Week

Every year, SBA honors America’s small business owners by presenting National Small Business Week in Washington, DC and across the country. During National Small Business Week, SBA recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners and the contributions they’re making to create jobs, inspire innovation and strengthen our economy. Earlier this year, SBA hosted one of its most successful National Small Business Weeks.

Now, SBA is gearing up for next year’s National Small Business Week: May 20-26, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Open Call for Nominations
SBA is currently seeking nominations from the public for exceptional entrepreneurs in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to help in awarding a national winner and a winner for each state and territory.

In addition, SBA is also seeking nominations for the following categories:
Champion Awards for individuals or organizations dedicated to supporting small businesses in a variety of categories.
Phoenix Awards for individuals (business owners, volunteers and public officials) whose efforts and contributions have enabled their businesses or communities to recover successfully from a disaster.
To nominate a small business owner in your community, check out the Nomination Guidelines [PDF]. Submissions will be accepted until November 10, 2011. If you have questions about the nomination process, contact your local SBA District Office.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Consumers Cut Back in Hard Times

Some of my SBDC colleagues were interested to know if there is research regarding where consumers cut back first, second, etc., when times are hard. This is different than what one OUGHT to cut back in hard times, for which I find oodles of examples; I was looking for what people ACTUALLY do.

Where Would You Cut Your Household Budget First? (2007) is interesting but flawed, in that it reflects what people saw they would do if there were hard times. But at the time, things seemed rosy.

More useful were Psychology of Bad Times Fueling Consumer Cutbacks (2008) and Consumer Cutbacks: Temporary or Permanent? (2009), which reported on actual hard-times responses.

Also very helpful: Americans Cutting Back on Everyday Expenses to Save Money (Harris poll, 2011).

Addressing the issue from a different angle: 12 Things We Buy in a Bad Economy (TIME - 2011)

But THE treasure trove, if one takes the time to study it, is the Consumer Expenditure Survey from the US Department of Labor, especially the most recent multiyear table (2006-2010 PDF), as well as the ones for previous years, going back to 1981.

Thanks to Alisa Coddington, John Skutnik, Terese Mulkern Terry, and Chantal Walvoord for their wisdom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding current NYS contractors

Our fine SBDC contracting expert, Roxanne Multcher, provided the following tips and links on where to find current NYS contractors.

The best route might be for the business to look at what contractors have purchased bid documents for construction projects and market to those contractors; click on a specific project # to see who purchased bid documents.

NYS consultant opportunities (this is for architects)

OGS Contract Listings:
Commodities
Services
One could look at any appropriate contracts and see who the contract holder(s) is.
New York State calls becoming a subcontractor a “Value Added Reseller” -- To become a reseller, check the contract. VAR participation will be included in the language of the contract. Open PDF attachments: “Contractor Information.” Call the contract holder. If added as a Value Added Reseller, you have NYS contractor status, but you still need to market to agencies

Another way to search OGS contracts – by keyword
Alphabetical list of contracts (PDF)
Active NYS Contract Holders List (PDF)
Review the listing of active contracts. Since it is a PDF file, you can search by keyword in the “Find” field and click the right-arrow to see each and every place where that word(s) appears.
This listing just gives the name of the contractor.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pledge Your Support for Small Business Saturday

The 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. On November 26, pledge to shop small at your favorite local stores and fuel your local economy. When millions of Americans shop small, it could be huge.

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

Check out Small Business Saturday on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Technology and the Innovation Economy

From the executive summary:

Innovation and entrepreneurship are crucial for long-term economic development. Over the years, America’s well-being has been furthered by science and technology. Fears set off by the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of its Sputnik satellite initiated a wave of U.S. investment in science, engineering, aerospace, and technology. Both public and private sector investment created jobs, built industries, fueled innovation, and propelled the U.S. to leadership in a number of different fields.

Link to full report (PDF).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

USDA feasibility study

One of our advisors has a client who is obtaining funding and the lending bank is seeking a USDA guarantee which requires that an independent feasibility study be done.

Here is a link to the manual for the USDA’s Business Program Loan Guarantees Lender Guide [PDF] that describes the feasibility study on pages 11-13.

Also, here is a 3-page overview of the feasibility study [PDF].

See Considerations When Selecting a Consultant.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Developmen​ts in Women-owne​d Business, 1997-2007

The years from 1997 to 2007 were a dynamic period in the U.S. economy. The strong growth early in this period was arrested by the recession of 2000-2001; strong economic growth resumed in 2002-2007. The data reflect an economy moving out of a recession and ending on a high note in 2007. How did women and other small business owners fare during this 10-year period between 1997 and 2007?

The primary goal of this report [PDF] is to place gender in a broader perspective. Business ownership no longer can be analyzed simply on the basis of the owner’s gender; businesses owned by women and men more and more share the same general development patterns. Moreover, the strong growth of publicly held firms, which cannot be identified by the demographic characteristics of their many owners, has led to the need to focus on both privately owned and publicly held firms.

The research summary can be found HERE.

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Joe Johnson at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions about Small Business Finance

This document [PDF] sketches the ecosystem or life-cycle of small business financing. The FAQ format allows users to browse through topics and learn about specific issues. The financial needs of small businesses, which include start-ups, in sectors such as information technology, service, retail, and manufacturing differ. The answers provided represent averages or totals that can be used as figures and trends for differing types of firms.

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Victoria Williams at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jobs Act Loan Incentives Led to Record SBA Loan Approval Volume

Record $12 billion 1st Quarter Followed By Return to Pre-Recession Levels

WASHINGTON – Spurred in part by unprecedented loan volume in the year’s first quarter, small business loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration in FY2011 reached the highest mark in the agency’s history, supporting over $30 billion, continuing the rebound begun in 2009 and returning to healthy pre-recession levels in the final three quarters of the year.

“SBA-backed lending continued the upward trend we saw last year,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Due to the Small Business Jobs Act and a return to pre-recession lending levels, over 61,000 small businesses had access to capital. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and SBA has been there to help them rebound through difficult times over the past few years. First through the Recovery Act and then through the Small Business Jobs Act and new SBA lending programs, SBA has provided small businesses with the tools they need so they can grow and create jobs. As SBA lending levels continue to indicate a rebound in small business lending, we will work through new programs to fill the gaps created in the marketplace.”

During the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, SBA loan approvals supported $30.5 billion (61,689 loans) in lending to small businesses and start-ups through its two largest loan programs, compared to $22.6 billion (60,771 loans) in FY 2010 and $17.9 billion (50,830 loans) in FY2009.

The FY2011 total is the highest volume fiscal year in the agency’s history, surpassing the $28.5 billion mark established in FY2007. The first quarter of the year, at over $12 billion supported, was the most active single quarter ever for SBA-backed loans, with more than four times the dollar volume of the same quarter in 2009 – the first three months of the recession – and more than double the volume of any quarter over the past four years.

The unprecedented quarter was prompted by the enhancements provided under the Small Business Jobs Act, which were in effect. The loan enhancements allowed SBA to raise the guarantee on its 7(a) loans to 90 percent and waive fees on both its 7(a) and 504 loans.

The totals for FY2011 include 53,706 loans $19.63 billion under the agency’s largest loan program, the 7(a) General Business Loan program, and 7,983 loans for a total approval of $4.84 billion, supporting $10.34 billion in small business lending under the 504 Certified Development Company loan program. The “supported” amount for 504 loans includes the SBA share and third party loans that are made by commercial lenders as part of the funding package.

Those numbers compare with 7(a) totals for FY 2010 of 52,938 loans for $12.46 billion, and 504 program totals of 7,833 loans for a total supported dollar amount of $9.97 billion.

While SBA lending has returned to pre-recession lending levels, there continue to be gaps in the marketplace and small businesses that need access to capital. To help fill these gaps, SBA created two new lending programs in FY2011: Community Advantage and Small Loan Advantage. The Advantage lending programs provide streamlined applications for loans under $250,000 with the standard 7(a) guarantee in order to incentive lenders to make smaller-dollar loans. The smaller-dollar loans often go to underserved communities. Additionally, Community Advantage increases the points of access for small businesses by allowing “mission focused” lenders, such as CDFIs and microlending intermediaries, the ability to make 7(a) loans.

In FY2011, SBA has added 30 new lenders to the 7(a) lending program through the Community Advantage program.

The total for 2011 also included approximately $5.8 billion in loans to more than 16,000 start-up small businesses, the most since FY2008.

For more information about these and other SBA programs, visit the SBA Web site, or contact your local SBA field office. You can find contact information for your local SBA office HERE.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Small Business Advocate - access to capital

The Small Business Advocate – October 2011; Vol: 30 , No: 8

The October 2011 issue of The Small Business Advocate directs attention to one of the top issues facing small businesses: access to capital. Advocacy’s September symposium, The Small Business Capital Crunch: Debt and Equity, receives feature coverage, along with three new finance publications. The issue also contains updates to proposed regulations from the Departments of Labor and Treasury, and coverage of the Advocacy’s participation in the Congressional Black Caucus.

In this Issue
Advocacy Symposium Probes the Capital Crunch, 1
Symposium Coverage, 4–7
Chief Counsel Participates in Congressional Black Caucus, 8
Social Media Update, 12

Message from the Chief Counsel
Access to Capital Dominates Advocacy’s September Agenda, 3

Research Notes
Three New Advocacy Finance Publications, 2
Developments in Women-Owned Businesses, 1997–2007, 11

Regulatory News
Advocacy Recommends OSHA Burden Reduction, 9
Labor Department Postpones H-2B Visa Wage Revision, 10
New Staff at Advocacy, 10
EBSA Withdraws Proposal to Update Definition of “Fiduciary,” 11
Tax News
IRS Announces Voluntary Worker Classification Settlement Program, 12

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs, from his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."

Read more about Steve Jobs HERE.

Angel Investors

Links to each website.

ALSO: Download (for a fee) a that list includes company name, street address, telephone/fax & URL where available.
One paragraph organization description (source: the company's web site or press materials).

From the BoogarLists.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics

This page contains credit card statistics -- including statistics on credit card debt, credit card delinquencies, credit scores, credit card interest rates, bankruptcies, average credit card debt and more -- compiled by the CreditCards.com staff.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Stack Exchange

There is a popular programmers Q&A site, Stack Overflow. It is part of a larger network of Q&A sites on a range of topics, Stack Exchange. While it is tech-heavy, there are several decidedly non-technical ones – cooking, photography, bicycles among others.

Notably, there is answers.onstartups.com, described as "Q&A for entrepreneurs looking to start or run a new business."

(Thanks, Al!)

Bureau of Labor Statistics recent statistics

Consumer Expenditures 2010 [PDF]
Multifactor Productivity Trends for Detailed Industries, 2009

Monday, October 03, 2011

Six Things to Consider Before You Franchise Your Business

Of all small business growth strategies in the U.S., franchises are probably one of the most successful distribution systems ever devised. If you are on the cusp of growth, franchising your small business may well be worth a look. But how do you know if franchising your current business is the right option for you?

More HERE.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Employee or Independent Contractor? Feds and States Join Forces to Fight Worker Misclassification

The use of independent contractors are a flexible option for employing workers and a legitimate way to avoid some payroll tax obligations. But government authorities are on the lookout for employers who misclassify their workers, when they are really employees.
Read about the the most recent government efforts to correct this type of activity, whether it was done accidentally or on purpose.

However, a new government (IRS) program allows employers to reclassify their employees on a voluntary basis, drastically reducing any back taxes or penalties owed on the status change. But only if you go to them first.
For more details on what steps you can take to manage this issue, see the story on correcting worker misclassification.



IRS Makes Voluntary Reclassification of Workers Less Taxing

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Census: Hispanics fuel US white population growth

In a twist to notions of race identity, new 2010 census figures show an unexpected reason behind a renewed growth in the U.S. white population: more Hispanics listing themselves as white in the once-a-decade government count.

The shift is due to recent census changes that emphasize "Hispanic" as an ethnicity, not a race. While the U.S. government first made this distinction in 1980, many Latinos continued to use the "some other race" box to establish a Hispanic identity. In a switch, the 2010 census forms specifically instructed Latinos that Hispanic origins are not races and to select a recognized category such as white or black.

More HERE.

Find Government Forms Online

You can quickly find the federal form you need by searching or browsing by name, type, or agency. Find tax forms, postal service forms, and more.

Find government forms now.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The 2012 Statistical Abstract

The Statistical Abstract of the United States, published since 1878, is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.

Use the Abstract as a convenient volume for statistical reference, and as a guide to sources of more information both in print and on the Web.

Sources of data include the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and many other Federal agencies and private organizations.

Protect Your Small Business with Flood Insurance from FloodSmart.gov

Flooding is the number one natural hazard in the U.S. It doesn’t matter where your business is located, it can still be at risk from hurricanes, flash floods, blocked storm sewers, snow melt, and so on, and unfortunately the devastation can be costly. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, almost 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster because just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage and close your doors long enough to lose your customers.

More HERE.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Economic Indicator Database Search Available from Census Bureau

Statistics from 12 economic indicators are now easy to access and easier to use with the new economic indicator database search. With the release of the Quarterly Financial Report for retail trade, all 12 of the Census Bureau's economic indicators are accessible in this user-friendly Internet tool. It provides an easy way to create statistical tables in ASCII text or time series charts in spreadsheet format. Users can select an indicator and choose statistics by item, time period and other dimensions using drop-down menus at http://www.census.gov/econ/currentdata/.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Growing Impact of Credit Unions on Small Business Lending

The report, authored by James Wilcox: State and national data for banks and credit unions for 1986-2010 show credit unions may have provided extra business lending in response to reductions in bank lending.

The research summary can be found HERE.

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Victoria Williams at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SBA & Agility Recovery Solutions Present Free Webinar on Disaster Preparedness Tips for Employees

WASHINGTON – When it comes to putting together a business continuity plan, most CEOs put their employees at the top of the list of valuable assets to protect. Ironically, while the company may be ready to reopen soon after the disaster, the employees may not be able to return. They’re busy trying to get recovery assistance, or working to clean up at their own homes.

Nationwide, homeowners and renters are currently dealing with the post-disaster challenges of dealing with insurance companies, finding reliable building contractors, or trying to normalize their family routines. Recent hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires are a reminder to individuals that planning for a crisis can save money, time and lives.

During National Preparedness Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery Solutions are hosting free weekly disaster preparedness webinars. On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Tom Heneghan, manager of preparedness for the American Red Cross, will talk about best practices for helping employees be ready for any kind of disaster. He’ll also discuss ways individuals can support community preparedness and response efforts.

SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to access past webinars and get additional preparedness tips.

The SBA provides disaster recovery assistance in the form of low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, private nonprofits and businesses of all sizes. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

WHO: Tom Heneghan, manager of preparedness, American Red Cross

WHAT: “Resilient America—Personal & Community Preparedness” will be presented by Heneghan. A question and answer session will follow.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 21 --2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

HOW: Space is limited. Register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/652630793.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bank Liquidity Pressures and the Availability of Bank Credit to Small Firms: Was the 2007-2009 Credit Crisis Different?"

The report [PDF], authored by Joe Peek, finds that liquidity of bank assets became a factor in the financial crisis, as healthier banks tended to shy away from small C&I and small CRE loans.

The research summary can be found here [PDF].

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Victoria Williams at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Best Franchises for the Money

Starting a new business from the ground up can be exciting – developing new ideas and selling these concepts to anyone who will listen is something many people thrive on. But it’s certainly not for everyone. What about those folks whose previous job experience or personality types might not transfer as successfully to starting a business by scratch? Another avenue to consider is franchising. Opening a franchise is no easy (or necessarily cheap) option but it definitely has some advantages: lower failure rates, instant name recognition, buying power, and so on.

There are thousands of options out there – from donut shops to car repair to haircuts. How to decide where to start? There are many rankings of franchises available. One place to start is a list of the “best franchises for the buck” that writers from Forbes have put together. The authors of this report looked at four variables: minimum initial investment, total locations, survival rates, and training hours offered.

So are there some Golden Arches in your future? Take a look to see what made the cut.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Statement from SBA Administrator Mills on ‘QuickPay’

WASHINGTON – SBA Administrator Mills statement on the President’s “QuickPay” announcement today to cut in half – from 30 days to 15 days – the amount of time it takes federal agencies to pay small businesses for the products and services they deliver to the federal government:

“The thousands of small businesses that provide great products and services to the federal government have a big reason to cheer the President’s ‘QuickPay’ announcement today. When small contractors get their money in 15 days instead of 30, it results in a permanent infusion of cash flow into their businesses. They can put that money towards working capital, expanding their businesses, marketing their products, and creating jobs. Their financial footing gets stronger – permanently. With nearly $100 billion each year in federal contracts going to small businesses, cutting in half the time they get paid is a powerful way to help put America back to work now. QuickPay is a smart and powerful boost that effectively delivers billions more dollars into the hands of small contractors so that they can do what they do best – create jobs.”

Release Date: Sept 14, 2011
Contact: Dan Crawford (202) 205-6920
Release Number: 10-51
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Books in Our Collection

NACS State of the Industry Annual Report 2010
The Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing 2010

HOST 2011 U.S. Hotel Operating Statistics Study Report for the Year 2010
STR

AHA Guide to the Health Care Field, 2011 ed.
(AHA Guide to the Health Care Field (Book)

National Coffee Drinking Trends Study 2011
National Coffee Association of the USA

Congressional Yellow Book: Who's Who in Congress, including committees and key staff Spring 2011 Volume 37, Number 2 1

Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Graphic Artists Guild (Author) 2010

Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand Editors of New Strategist Publications 2010 New Strategist Pubns

The Indispensable University: Higher Education, Economic Development, and the Knowledge Economy (American Council on Education Series on Higher Education)
Eugene P. Trani 2010 Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (2010),

The Inventor's Bible 3rd Edition
How to Market and License Your Brilliant Idea.

Restoring U.S. Competitiveness: Navigating a Path Forward Through Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Over the last several decades technology has advanced in ways that our forefathers could never have imagined. However, in recent years, antiquated policies have caused the entrepreneurial ecosystem to become stagnant, thereby threatening the economic growth and innovative spirit that made the United States into an industrial powerhouse. The U.S. economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and public policy at the federal, state, and local levels must acknowledge the realities of the interconnected and complex global economic system.

Source: Center for Public Policy Innovation [PDF]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Health Insurance in Small Firms: Availability, Coverage, and the Effect of Tax Incentives

A new study by the Office of Advocacy investigates health care coverage provided by small firms and the effects of state and federal tax incentives on health insurance availability. States have tried a variety of approaches to improve health plan coverage, particularly health insurance offered by small businesses. The study finds that most existing state tax incentive programs apply to a narrow class of employers. The increase in the federal self-employed health insurance tax deduction in 2003 did create an incentive for some self-employed individuals to purchase health insurance. In 2007, it was estimated that small employers deducted approximately $53.8 billion for health insurance benefits.

The research summary can be found HERE [PDF].

Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Joe Sobota at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Remembering 9/11 and How to Be Part of National Day of Service

"You can find – or create – local opportunities to honor the victims and heroes of 9/11 at www.serve.gov. At that site, you’ll find everything from food drives and neighborhood cleanups, to activities that help honor our military, our veterans, and our first responders."

September Is National Preparedness Month

Disability.gov’s Emergency Preparedness section has quite a few tools and resources that can help people with disabilities and others prepare for, and recover from, emergency situations and disasters. You'll also find information about the importance of including people with disabilities in emergency preparedness efforts - including planning for, responding to and recovering from a disaster or emergency.

Tips to Starting a Consulting Business

Three Tips to Start a Consulting Business
Jennifer Merritt
BY Jennifer Merritt | September 2, 2011

Entrepreneur.com has an article offering sound advice for professionals about to set out on their own as consultants. Building a name for yourself before your departure, joining forces to strengthen your business offering and focusing on what sets you apart.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Relief available to taxpayers affected by Hurricane Irene

President Barack H. Obama has declared certain counties in New York State to be disaster areas as a result of Hurricane Irene. As a result of this declaration, Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox has postponed certain tax filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers in these counties who were directly affected by the storm.
The relief provided for in this notice applies to taxpayers directly affected by the storm in the counties of Albany, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Suffolk, Ulster, Warren, and Westchester. This includes taxpayers residing in or having their principal place of business in these counties. In addition, the relief will also apply to taxpayers directly affected by the storm located in any additional counties in New York State that are declared disaster areas and eligible for federal tax relief after this notice is issued. The relief will also apply to taxpayers directly affected by the storm in counties in other states that are declared disaster areas and eligible for federal tax relief.

See details HERE [PDF].

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

SBDC Client on ABC World News tonight!

As of now (but I'm told these schedules can and often do change last minute), ABC World News plans to air a piece on Robert and Danielle Rosenberg, owners of Moolala yogurt bar and successful NYS SBDC client. If they stay on schedule, the piece should air around 6:45 pm ET tonight on ABC.

Use Confirmation Emails To Build Customer Loyalty

From Step by Step Marketing:

Amazon.com, 1800flowers, Zappos, Lands End, and other online retailers all send emails to confirm that orders have been shipped. If you analyze their emails, you will notice that they contain a lot of “extras” that include a word of thanks, a clickable link to package-tracking information, and incentives to click through to visit the company’s webpage and shop again. There’s a reason why these top retailers add these extras to what would otherwise be utilitarian order confirmations. They understand that confirmation emails offer an opportunity to improve the overall customer experience and build loyalty.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Getting Through the First 72 Hours after a Disaster

From SBA:

Hurricane Irene disrupted the lives of communities and businesses from North Carolina to Vermont last weekend. Business owners were hit particularly hard, as power outages forced many to close for several days.

The first 72 hours following business interruption is crucial. Preparation can make a difference, and protect you from having to shut down for good. To kick off National Preparedness Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery Solutions will host the first in a series of free disaster preparedness webinars during the month of September.

R. David Paulison, former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will present tips on how to be self-sufficient in the days following a natural disaster or other emergency during the webinar on Wednesday, September 7, at 2 p.m. ET.

SBA has partnered with Agility to offer business continuity strategies for entrepreneurs via their “PrepareMyBusiness” website. Visit www.preparemybusiness.org to access previous webinars and additional preparedness tips. Webinars on business and community preparedness, as well as a discussion on best practices hosted by business owners who recovered from recent disasters will be held on consecutive Wednesdays during the month.

The SBA provides disaster recovery assistance in the form of low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, private nonprofits and businesses of all sizes. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

WHO: R. David Paulison, Former Administrator, FEMA

WHAT: “Culture of Preparedness—The 72 Hour Rule” will be presented by Paulison. A question and answer session will follow.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 7, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

HOW: Space is limited. Register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/582741824.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Changes to the State Tax in Compromise Program for the Better!

From one of those nifty tax digests I receive regularly:

Individuals seeking a fresh start from overwhelming tax debts may now be eligible for relief under a new hardship provision in the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance's Offer in Compromise Program.

The new provision enables them to accept offers where collection in full
would cause undue economic hardship. Previously, the program was only
available in cases of insolvency or bankruptcy.

For more information, see the Offer in Compromise Reform web page and this PDF document.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Five Tips for Outsourcing Your Small Business Payroll Operations

If you find you don’t have enough hours in the day to take care of your business operations, your clients and your employees, outsourcing key business functions such as payroll can be a cost-effective business strategy. In fact, payroll is the first function many small business owners look to outsourcing.

Read more.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Leveling the Federal Contracting Playing Field – The Woman-Owned Small Business Program Explained

In an effort to create a more level contracting playing field for women-owned small businesses, in late 2010, the SBA announced a rule that would implement the long-awaited Woman-Owned Small Business contracting program. So what is the WOSB Program and how can you take advantage of it? Here’s what you need to know and the steps you need to take to get your business certified to participate.

Read More.

Monday, August 29, 2011

OPAL down for a week

From OPAL, the New York State's Online Permit Assistance and Licensing website:

If you want to start a new business or expand your current business, this site will help you find the New York State business permits you may need.

However

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to a scheduled upgrade, the online forms will NOT be available from September 6 through September 13, 2011. This website will NOT be available from September 9 through September 13, 2011. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.