Monday, January 31, 2011

Domain Age Tool

Consider using the Domain Age Tool to research that factor when investigating a website. The tool's quite simple to use. Just plug in a URL (or several at a time), click the "submit" button, and you should get back a page showing the site's exact age in months and years.

sba.gov 13 years 7 months old
nyssbdc.org 11 years 2 months old
whitehouse.gov 14 years 1 months old
microsoft.com 14 years 3 months old
mcdonalds.com 14 years 2 months old
pg.com (Proctor and Gamble) 14 years 3 months old
timesunion.com 12 years 1 months old
nytimes.com 14 years 2 months old

Yet there are some, such as ibm.com, walmart.com, and state.ny.us that it is Unable to Determine.

Friday, January 28, 2011

NOVELny Business Resources

For New York State residents, NOVELny provides access to two very useful business databases: Business and Company Resources Center and InfoTrac Custom Newspapers. Access is obtained by logging in with your NYS Driver License or NYS DMV Non-Driver Photo ID Card.

Business and Company Resources Center (BCRC) contains company profiles, brand information, rankings, investment reports, company histories, chronologies and periodicals. Thomson Financials' Investext Plus database is fully integrated in this database, which contains detailed data and analysis on publicly traded companies in a wide variety of industries. The information is contained in reports generated by analysts at leading research organizations worldwide. Information provided may include trends, sales and earnings forecasts, market share projects, and research and development expenditures. The database also contains all content found in Business and Company Index.

InfoTrac Custom Newspapers offers the full-text of several New York State newspapers, including the Albany Times Union, Buffalo News, Syracuse Post-Standard, New York Post, and New York Times.

I use BCRC often for industry overviews and InfoTrac for articles. I highly recommend both databases for industry and company research.

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report

How did it come to pass that in 2008 our nation was forced to choose between two stark and painful alternatives — either risk the collapse of our financial system and economy, or commit trillions of taxpayer dollars to rescue major corporations and our financial markets, as millions of Americans still lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes?

The Commission concluded that this crisis was avoidable—the result of human actions, inactions, and misjudgments. Warnings were ignored. “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.”

Get the Report

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Contractor Database Only Available to a "Select Few" Goes Public in April

The General Services Administration plans to open its Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System database to the general public in April.

The FAPIIS database tracks contractor performance for the government, and until now, available only to a select group of government officials, legislators and contractors.

Under a provision in the wartime supplemental appropriations bill, GSA is required to disclose all information contained in the database except previous performance evaluations.

More HERE.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 marketing trends popping up in 2011

By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
You can say one thing with certainty about new product trends for 2011: They're pretty wacky. That's a good thing.

Even then, chief among 2011's consumer-packed good trends are these: Keep it simple. And better for me. And cheap.

Read HERE.

Monday, January 24, 2011

3 webinars on tax topics for small business owners

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax” --- Albert Einstein

With the holidays behind us, people are now turning their attention to the annual challenge of preparing their tax returns. Although the SBDC isn’t in the business of giving tax advice, it is important for all of us to be knowledgeable about the current tax issues, regulations and schedules that affect small business.

The New York State Small Business Development Center has collaborated with the National Association for the Self-Employed to develop and present a series of three webinars addressing tax topics of interest for small business owners. Although there are no prerequisites to attend any of the programs, you are encouraged to register for all three webinars.

“Top 5 Tax Questions for the Self-Employed”
Presented by: Keith Hall, National Tax Advisor for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

What’s a person new to self-employment to do? This tax webinar covers these key topics:
• What entity form should my business be?
• What should I do first?
• How to pay and plan for estimated taxes
• Automobile deduction
• Meals and travel
Date: February 2, 2011
Time: 9:30 – 10:30 AM
How to register: Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/995180000

***

“Tips for Saving on Your Taxes”
Presented by: Keith Hall, National Tax Advisor for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

Everyone wants to save as much money as possible when filing their return. This tax webinar will offer these tips on maximizing your deductions:
• Hiring your child
• The home office deduction
• Retirement contributions
• More
Date: February 9, 2011
Time: 9:30 – 10:15 AM
How to register: Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/306682753

***

“Preparing an Audit Proof Return”
Presented by: Keith Hall, National Tax Advisor for the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)

No one wants to be audited by the IRS, but in case you are, here are the top ways to come out clean:
• Getting organized
• Search for deductions
• Building your paper fort
• More
Date: February 16, 2011
Time: 9:30 – 10:15 AM
How to register: Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/685768777

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Started in New York State Contracting webinar

“Getting Started in New York State Contracting – NYS Contract Reporter”
(Webinar #7 in the Procurement Webinar Series)
Presented by: Roxanne Mutchler, Government Contracting Coordinator, NYSSBDC Procurement Assistance Center at MVSBDC

Topics to be covered: The Contract Reporter is one of the main resources for contract opportunities in New York State. Train your clients to take full advantage of the information available at this website.

Date: January 26, 2011

Time: 9:30—10:30 AM

How to register: Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/305250977

Permit and Licensing Assistance

There are many industries and businesses in New York State that require permits and licensing in order to operate. Restaurants, day cares, liquor stores, contractors, and hotels are just a few of the more popular businesses that our clients start that require permits. In order to find out what NYS requires, the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform provides OPAL - Online Permit Assistance and Licensing.

OPAL provides information for all of the state agencies, as well as contact information, fees, and requirements for applying for the permits and licenses. The site also provides pages of "Helpful Information" on a variety of businesses, not just the ones that require permits. There is a keyword search to facilitate easy searching of the database, as well as the option to search by agency.

Best of all, there is an option to "Choose Business Type", which will guide the user to personalized results by asking detailed questions about the number of employees, legal structure, business stage, as well as pointed questions specific to individual industries.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The gender dividend: Making the business case for investing in women

Source: Deloitte via Docuticker

With a rapidly changing global economy, leaders are urgently seeking an effective method to sustain economic growth. While geography, industry, and technology are important considerations, gender is an imperative factor that cannot be ignored.
Talent is critical to staying competitive, but despite the growing number of qualified women in the workforce, the female talent pool continues to remain underutilized...

Acknowledging and investing in women can yield a significant return—a return known as the gender dividend. To fully capitalize on the gender dividend, however, countries and organizations must go beyond policies that focus on discrimination and develop solid strategies aimed at integrating women at every level. This will require building a strong, dual-focused business case that considers women as both workers and consumers.

The series of papers titled The gender dividend, examines successful models for investing in women. The first installment, Making the business case for investing in women, lays out the rationale behind why governments and organizations must look to women as key to their economic growth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Simpler Path to 2010 Census Data - Eventually

The press release reads:

The U.S. Census Bureau debuts a reinvented American FactFinder today, making online access to 2010 Census data -- and many more statistics -- easier than ever.

The new American FactFinder offers a fresh look, new tools and easier access to a wide range of Census Bureau statistics. Online today, you will find population estimates for 2008 and earlier years and findings from the 2000 Census. When fully implemented, the new FactFinder is projected to have about 250 billion data cells in more than 40,000 tables.


BUT...the note attached to the notification also said: "Please note that very limited data are currently available on this system."

Several paragraphs down:

Users should note that American Community Survey, 2007 Economic Census and other economic survey data are not in the new version of American FactFinder at the present. These data sets can be accessed from the American FactFinder homepage and will be loaded to the new American FactFinder during the coming year.

So the usability by the end of 2011 will be tremendous. The usability by April 1, when most of the 2010 data will be loaded, will be significant. The usability today is severely limited.

Read the whole press release HERE.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IRS 2011 Tax Season Deadline Extended to April 18

Also, Taxpayers Impacted by Recent Tax Breaks Can File Starting in Mid- to Late February

The Internal Revenue Service announced taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns...

The IRS also reminded tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year that they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax return preparers should register immediately using the new PTIN sign-up system available through www.IRS.gov/taxpros.

Who Must Wait to File

For most taxpayers, the 2011 tax filing season starts on schedule. However, tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December mean some people need to wait until mid- to late February to file their tax returns in order to give the IRS time to reprogram its processing systems.

Some taxpayers – including those who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A – will need to wait to file. This includes taxpayers impacted by any of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010 enacted Dec. 17

Those who need to wait to file include:
*Taxpayers Claiming Itemized Deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction that was also extended and which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
*Taxpayers Claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students – covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution – is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit extended last month and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
*Taxpayers Claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23 and Form 1040A, Line 16...

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the recent tax law changes. In the interim, taxpayers affected by these tax law changes can start working on their tax returns, but they should not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes. Additional information will be available at www.IRS.gov.

For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers. The IRS urges taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax law changes and ensure accurate tax returns.

Except for those facing a delay, the IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns on Jan. 14. Additional details about e-file and Free File will be announced later this month.

Friday, January 07, 2011

IRS Tax Calendar for Small Business and the Self-Employed

The James J. Hill Reference Library has once again provided us with a useful resource for small businesses. The 2011 IRS Tax Calender for Small Businesses and the Self-Employed is a 12-month calender with day-to-day instructions on what needs to be done when in regards to business taxes. The "Game Plan for Success" can be printed out in calender form either month-by-month or in the traditional calender layout to remind a business owner when to do what. Each month also highlights a tax topic related to small business; for instance, “Preparation and Setting Up" for January, or “Tips on Wage Reporting” for December. In addition, the calendar also provides Tips for Business Success, a list of Forms and Publications, and a list of online resources and tools available for small businesses.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database

UN COMTRADE is the pseudonym for United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database. Over 170 reporter countries provide the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) with their annual international trade statistics data detailed by commodities and partner countries. These data are subsequently transformed into the United Nations Statistics Division standard format with consistent coding and valuation using the UN/OECD CoprA internal processing system.

The UN COMTRADE is the largest depository of international trade data. It contains well over 1.7 billion data records for 45 years and is available on the internet!

All commodity values are converted from national currency into US dollars using exchange rates supplied by the reporter countries, or derived from monthly market rates and volume of trade. Quantities, when provided with the reporter country data and when possible, are converted into metric units. Commodities are reported in the current classification and revision (HS2002 in most cases) and are converted all the way down to the earliest classification SITC revision 1. Therefore, if data is received in HS 2002 version, it is converted to HS1996, HS1988, SITC rev. 3, SITC rev. 2, SITC rev. 1 and BEC. The data are permanently stored in the UN COMTRADE database server.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Former RN Librarian Amy Peker New Castleton PL Director

Castleton Library names new director

Amy Lynn Peker will take the reigns of the Castleton Library beginning January 18, 2011. Amy earned a MS in Information Studies with a concentration in library and information services from the State University of New York, at Albany...[She] worked as an Information Specialist with the NYS Small Business Development Center.

Congratulations, Amy!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Backed by Jobs Act, SBA lending in Last Quarter Set Records

Following is the full statement from SBA Administrator Karen Mills:
“In just three months since the Small Business Jobs Act was signed into law, SBA supported more than $12 billion in lending to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. SBA is on the front lines with small business owners and our lending partners every single day. I’m very proud that as a result of those close relationships and partnerships we were able to quickly put this significant amount of capital into the hands of our nation’s largest job creation engine.

“The loan enhancements of higher guarantees and reduced fees first implemented as part of the Recovery Act have been a vital resource for tens of thousands of small businesses at a critical time when lending markets had dried up. Beginning in February 2009, these loan enhancements engineered a significant turnaround in SBA lending, including driving record-high levels of SBA lending in recent weeks. The end result is that the agency helped put more than $42 billion in the hands of small businesses through the Recovery Act and Jobs Act combined.

“These enhancements have been a key piece of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help small businesses drive our nation’s economic recovery. As we transition back to our standard guarantees and fee rates, SBA loan programs will continue to play an important role, as they have for decades, in helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start or grow their businesses and create jobs.

“The Small Business Jobs Act is the most consequential piece of legislation affecting small businesses enacted in more than a decade. While we are proud of how quickly SBA could provide $12 billion in capital to small businesses, we remain focused on implementing other key provisions of this law that will continue to expand access to capital, help small businesses compete for federal contracting dollars, strengthen small business exports and provide other critical support.”

During the quarter, SBA approved nearly 22,000 small business loans for $10.47 billion, supporting a total of $12.16 billion in lending. The amounts are greater than the volume for Jobs Act loans over the same period because they exclude some loans that were not eligible for one or more Jobs Act enhancements.

Background on SBA Loan Enhancements:
SBA expands access to capital for small businesses by providing government-guarantees on loans made by commercial lenders. The Small Business Jobs Act extended higher guarantees and reduced fees on its two most popular loan programs, enhancements first enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

From Feb. 17, 2009, when the Recovery Act was signed, through Sept. 30, 2010, the SBA approved more than $22.5 billion in loan guarantees, which supported more than $30 billion in lending small businesses, due to the loan enhancements put in place by the Act. The enhancements were funded with approximately $680 million in subsidy funds provided during the period.

Following the extension of the enhancements in the Jobs Act, the agency approved an additional $10.3 billion in loan guarantees, supporting more than $12 billion in lending to small businesses from Sept. 27 through Dec. 31, funded by just $505 million in subsidy funds. The three-month extension of the loan enhancements under the Jobs Act financed the highest volume in a fiscal year’s first quarter than at any time in the agency’s history. During the week of Dec. 18-24, SBA supported a record-high $1.95 billion in small business loans, the highest dollar volume since the agency began tracking its weekly loan volumes.

SBA Loan Queue:
Authority to continue the loan enhancements was extended through March 4 by Congress last month. While there is no additional appropriation of subsidy funds to support the loan enhancements, the extended authority does allow the agency to redirect, through the SBA Loan Queue, any dollars that come available from loan cancellations in the coming weeks to new loans with the enhancements.

It is typical that some previously approved loans are later cancelled by the borrower or lender and never disbursed for a variety of reasons. The queue takes this into account and will allow eligible small businesses, in consultation with their lenders, to choose to be placed in the queue for possible approval for a Jobs Act loan if funding becomes available. Small business owners and lenders will have transparent access to the queue via www.sba.gov and will be able to remove themselves from the queue at any time to be considered for a non-Jobs Act SBA-backed loan with all applicable fees and, for 7(a) loans, standard guarantee levels.

Small Business Jobs Act of 2010:
The Small Business Jobs Act included an array of provisions aimed at helping small businesses gain access to capital, compete for federal contracting opportunities, expand exporting opportunities and obtain other assistance to help them grow and create jobs. More information on the Jobs Act can be found at www.sba.gov/jobsact.