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

An AFF2 how-to guide

With the Census Bureau's Legacy American FactFinder ending by the end of 2011, you may find this how-to guide from Michigan’s Dept of Technology for AFF2 helpful.

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.