Monday, December 31, 2012

Mid-Hudson SBDC Advisors Offer Business Advice

The advisors of the Mid-Hudson SBDC regularly contribute business advice articles to the Times Record Herald.  Check out the wide variety of subjects that they cover here:

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BIZ1011

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is it time for your marketing to include a mobile app?

From SmallBusinessNewz

It is no secret that mobile applications have changed everyday life. People do business, set family reminders, deposit checks, track workouts and spend hours and hours of leisure time in mobile app platforms. Mobile software developer Flurry reported more than a trillion unique app events in November – a number simply unheard of even two years ago. Some food for thought: in January of 2011, around 100 billion mobile applications existed. At this writing, that number has just passed the 1,000 billion mark. Is it time for your business to have a mobile app?

Consumers spend more time with mobile apps than they do watching television. Flurry reports that mobile apps are quickly closing in on Web browsing, which has stayed stable over the past year at an average of 168 minutes per day per consumer, while mobile applications rose from 94 to 127 minutes. Television watching has stayed steady at between 70 to 72 minutes per day for the past three years.

It makes sense, really. There are 6 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, according to mobiTHINKING. Smartphones and tablets have made it possible to be connected at all times and mobile apps mean bypassing laptops and desktops completely to get needed information. The novelty of mobile apps has worn off; they are now an integral, normal part of everyday life

Thursday, December 27, 2012

End-of-Year Charity Giving Tips from the IRS

As 2012 comes to a close, individuals and businesses need to remember some key tax provisions for making contributions to charity. The IRS offers these reminders for year-end giving:

To deduct monetary donations you must have a bank record or written document from the charity stating the name of the charity, the contribution amount and the date.
Contributions are deductible in the year made, even if the credit card bill isn't paid or the check isn't cashed until 2013.
Only donations made to qualified organizations are tax deductible. Make sure the organization you want to donate to is qualified before making any contribution.
Individuals must itemize their deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A or use a short form (Form 1040A and 1040EZ) to claim the standard deduction.

Find more year-end giving tips from the IRS.

Friday, December 21, 2012

'Grunt Funds’ Are Trending in Startup Circles

During software engineer Ryan McGeary’s nine years working at seven startups, he has weathered contentious dramas, legal battles, and broken friendships stemming from arguments about how equity should be shared among founders and early investors... "There’s got to be a better way" to handle equity stakes, McGeary says.

Recently he stumbled across just that: so-called dynamic equity splits, an idea making the rounds among Chicago startups. The concept is described in a book called Slicing Pie, by Mike Moyer, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Northwestern University and founder of venture capital firm Lake Shark Ventures.

More from Business Week.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Small Business Advocate - November/ December 2012

The November-December issue of The Small Business Advocate reflects on many of the Office of Advocacy’s 2012 activities and scans the 2013 horizon. It includes reports on the office’s fall regulatory activities, new research on small business retirement planning, innovation events in Region III, and a tip of the hat to outgoing members of Congress, Senator Olympia Snowe, and Rep. Donald Manzullo.

In This Issue:

2012 Accomplishments, 2013 Horizons

Fall Regulatory Roundup
Mortgage Rules
Patent Revisions
Critical Habitat Analyses
Basel III Standards
Small Business Set-Asides

Reports Examine Small Business Retirement Preparation

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SBA Seeking Nominations for Small Business R&D Awards

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.

Two awards will be given: the “Hall of Fame” award recognizing companies that have an extended period of extraordinary success of research, innovation, and product commercialization; and another, the “Tibbetts Award” with two categories, one for companies that have participated in the SBIR/STTR programs, and another for individuals who advocate on behalf of the programs.

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 Tibbetts Award winners are:
• An Arizona bio strategies company whose genetic engineering accomplishments help combat Gaucher's disease, a rare genetic disease usually fatal in childhood, and
• A three-time award winner from California that developed a state of the art manufacturing facility for the production of aerospace quality composite products for missile defense and commercial space.

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.

Hall of Fame winners have typically included Fortune 500 and 1000 companies like Qualcomm and Genzyme. Genzyme, a 2012 Hall of Fame award winner, evolved from a tiny start-up with just a handful of employees to one of the world's leading biotech companies. This Massachusetts-based company focuses on developing innovative products and services for major unmet medical needs such as rare genetic disorders, organ transplant, osteoarthritis, and renal disease.

Nominations for these awards opened December 17, 2012 and will close 5 PM EST on January 31, 2013. Awards will be presented in Washington, DC, in May 2013. To submit a nomination, please visit sites for Tibbetts Awards (companies and individuals) and Hall of Fame Awards.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Far Reaching Implications of The Social Business Model

From SmallBusinessNewz:


For some time now I’ve been suggesting that social media as we’ve come to address it over the last few years doesn’t really matter anymore because it just is. We’ve given up on seeing it as some separate practice and accepted that it’s simply a function of marketing that must be integrated.

Lately I’ve begun to wonder if social behavior, not social media, is actually much more than we’ve made of it.

We’ve bolted certain socially enabled practices on to our businesses to provide greater reach, customer service and the pretense of connection, but I wonder if we’ve stopped dreadfully short of the true potential of social.

Even those that preach social strategy are generally talking about finding ways to use social tactics to support existing business strategies and models.

My belief is that the real opportunity is to build a fully social business model, one that addresses the total picture of social behavior. One that moves beyond social tactics to a place where social is the business, is a part of every consideration.

First off let me suggest that we’ve always had social behavior, in some cases we’ve had it in our businesses. People have always been attracted to people and causes they believed in and connected with. We’ve always joined forces and collaborated in ways to effect change and grow. We’ve always belonged to communities that supported and nurtured our basic needs and our needs to be social animals.

The significant evolution over the last decade is that technology has allowed us to behave in this manner without the constraint of geography. We are now free to find, join and coalesce around shared ideas no matter where we are. That dynamic has impacted the world of business in ways that I don’t know that we’ve all come to fully appreciate.

Connection is now possible with anyone. Collaboration is now possible everywhere. Community is now possible with everyone. The true social business model involves anyone, everyone, everywhere.

So, if we were to fully embrace this idea we would begin to think of social as something far beyond marketing. Were we to treat this idea as a business model, then we would have to apply core social tenets to every element of the business.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Year-End Payroll Tax Tips and Enhanced Sales Tax Web File

ADP Small Business Services division offered tips and reminders to small business owners, their accountants and other advisors to get a head start on year-end tax preparation to help avoid delays, streamline the tax filing process and improve outcomes.


The New York State Tax Department offers online demos about enhanced Sales Tax Web File. The four demos cover a variety of filing scenarios and you may view them at your convenience.





Friday, December 14, 2012

Facebook, Pinterest Trigger More Offline Actions Than Other Social Sites

From Marketing Profs:

On average, nearly one-half (47%) of social media users say they've taken some type of action offline (e.g., attending an event, meeting someone in person, making a purchase) after interacting with a social networking site, according to a survey from ACTIVE Network.

Across the five social networks studied—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest—Facebook drives the most offline actions overall: 87% of Facebook users have taken some type of action offline as a result of an interaction via the site.

Pinterest (70%) ranks second in generating offline actions, followed by LinkedIn (60%), Twitter (56%), and Google+ (37%).



Thursday, December 13, 2012

General Assessment of the Macroeconomic Situation

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

After five years of crisis, the global economy is weakening again. In this we are not facing a new pattern. Over the recent past, signs of emergence from the crisis have more than once given way to a renewed slowdown or even a double-dip recession in some countries. The risk of a new major contraction cannot be ruled out. A recession is ongoing in the euro area. The US economy is growing but performance remains below what was expected earlier this year. A slowdown has surfaced in many emerging market economies, partly reflecting the impact of the recession in Europe.

The weaker outlook has several causes. A significant drop in confidence is a key driver. This takes place against a background of deleveraging, simultaneous fiscal consolidation across countries and a large multiplier, and weakening global trade. High and, in some countries, rising unemployment is further depressing confidence and spending.

Lack of confidence largely reflects insufficient or ineffective policy responses, both in terms of too little short-term action and a lack of credible long-term strategies. This, in turn, seems to be determined not so much by a lack of understanding of the policy requirements, but rather by failure to reach consensus on the policy response. The fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling in the United States, and the management of the euro area crisis are two cases in point. Policy challenges, both macroeconomic and structural, are present in emerging market economies as well, reflecting a range of country-specific conditions.

Failure to take sufficient action now could have significant consequences on the global outlook. If the fiscal cliff is not avoided, a large negative shock could bring the US and the global economy into recession. In the euro area, where the greatest threats to the world economy remain, progress in adjustment and in strengthening institutions has been significant over the recent past. However, challenging fiscal sustainability conditions in some countries risk sparking a chain of events that could considerably harm activity in the monetary union and push the global economy into recession.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tax Department Extends Call Center Hours To Support Launch of New Online Sales Tax System

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said today it will extend its call center hours in order to assist businesses and tax professionals as they file sales tax returns using a new, online sales tax system.

The enhanced, more user-friendly system was launched in September, but for nearly 250,000 users, December will be their first time using the new system to file returns. The filing deadline is December 20.

From December 13 through December 20, 2012, the call center hours are:

Weekdays - 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 15 - 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The call center's phone number is 518-485-2889.

View the entire document.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advocacy Publishes New Retirement Research

The Office of Advocacy has just released two new reports on small business retirement planning. The research confirms that small business owner participation in retirement plans remains low but is unaffected in recessions.

A study by Advocacy Economist Jules Lichtenstein, Financial Viability and Retirement Assets: A Look at Small Business Owners and Private Sector Workers, uses 2009 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to look at a broad spectrum of individual account retirement assets held by business owners and private-sector workers.

Retirement, Recessions, and Older Small Business Owners, by Tami Gurley-Calvez, Kandice Kapinos, and Donald Bruce, uses the 1992-2010 Health and Retirement Study to focus on individuals nearing retirement. The study finds that older small business owners with IRAs and Keogh accounts are likely to have larger amounts of such assets than workers in the same age group.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to disappoint potential customers

According to this shop's Facebook page, they are open on Sundays, so off I went -- only, when I got there, the place was closed, tighter than a drum. I wondered if maybe I had misread things on FB, so I actually got out of the car and checked the posted hours sign on the door. Sure enough: Sunday, open 10 AM to 5 PM. And yet: lights out, locked up, nobody home. No shopping for me. And no sign on the door saying anything like "Dear Customers, due to unforeseen circumstances we will be closed on Sunday, December 9." Not even a "Out to lunch" or "Gone fishing". Just a locked up store.

More HERE.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Deadlines Approaching for Sandy Recovery Loans

So far the SBA has approved more than $150 million in disaster loans to about 2,500 homeowners, renters and businesses recovering from Hurricane Sandy. If you have a disaster loan application, you should complete and send it back to SBA as soon as possible. The filing deadline for physical property damage disaster loan applications is Dec. 31 for New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. The filing deadline is Jan. 15th for residents and businesses in Rhode Island.

Read more.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Three Steps for Stopping Checkout Abandonment

You've gotten your customer on your site, and even to the checkout page, but (as you well know) your efforts don't end at the "Add To Basket" button. If you want to encourage your website visitors to complete their purchases, you need to double-check your checkout process.

Any e-commerce site owner knows the frustration resulting from the abandonment of a full shopping basket; all online shops suffer from a certain amount of checkout abandonment. But the most likely causes of a high rate of abandonment are few, and they're relatively simple to rectify.

Read more at MarketingProfs.com.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Starting a Business? Tax Department Publication Provides Critical Information

If you're starting a new business, or purchasing an existing one, there's a publication you might want to add to your reading list - the http://www.tax.ny.gov/press/rel/2012/pub20112812.htm Tax Guide for New Businesses (Publication 20) from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

Connect with the Department on Twitter and YouTube.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

6 Business Tax Credits and Deductions to Take Advantage of Before New Year’s Day

From SBA:

The end of the year is fast approaching, but there’s still time to take advantage of a variety of business tax credits and deductions – some of which are new for 2012.

Here are just a few to consider, plus some best practices for maximizing your claims.

Take Advantage of 2012 “Section 179” Deduction Limits.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Section 179 of the tax code provides tax benefits for equipment purchases made before the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

2012 Economic Census – Learn why Business-Owner Response Makes a Difference

From the Census Bureau blog:

The economic census is the U.S. Government’s official five-year measure of American business and the economy. Collected for years ending in “2” and “7,” economic census results serve as the foundation for the gross domestic product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance. This cornerstone of U.S. business activity provides an essential benchmark for our nation’s economic indicators.

Many people rely on economic census data. Chambers of Commerce rely on statistics from the economic census to promote economic development in their industries and local areas. Business associations use economic census statistics for strategic planning. Businesses also use the information to research and identify new markets for their products or services. Government offices, at every level, also rely on economic statistics for making important decisions affecting cities, counties and states.

Monday, December 03, 2012

12 big lessons from 12 years in business

From MicheleShaeffer.com:

There have been nights where I've felt torn. It's not easy to juggle a business and a family. But then I remember the alternative. I could be working a job I probably wouldn't like for 8+ hours a day, with limited hourly income potential, and away from my children completely — probably struggling to break even by the time I figure in childcare and other expenses. Instead I'm home. I'm able to be here for them, work with clients I adore and admire, and create a profitable business. It's worth it.

And If I can do this, I know anyone can. We all have challenges. Yours are different than mine. But we can get through them.

Just know that it's possible–hold on to that and don't give up.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

John Skrobela: the NYS SBDC's Star Performer

From the Business Review:

John Skrobela, a business adviser with the Small Business Development Center at the University at Albany, is the New York winner of the Association of Small Business Development Centers’ State Star Award.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What is E-Verify?


Electronically verifies the employment eligibility of
*Newly hired employees
*Existing employees assigned to work on a qualifying federal contract
Free web-based service
Fast and easy to use
Partnership between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA)

E-Verify is not…
…a system that provides immigration status
…used for prescreening
…a safe harbor from worksite enforcement

Who Uses E-Verify?
More than 401,00 employers are enrolled to use E-Verify at more than 1.2 million hiring sites
More than 2,000 new enrollments per week
More than 20 million cases created to date in FY 2012
More than 17 million cases created in FY 2011
Employers in every industry, state and U.S. territory

98.3% Work Authorized instantly or within 24 hours

How to enroll: www.dhs.gov/E-Verify under Start Here, click Enroll in E-Verify

Required Posters – Must Be Visible to Prospective Employees

What is a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)?
A TNC means that information from an employee’s Form I-9 did not match government databases.
Common reasons for TNCs:
Social Security number (SSN) does not match.
Identification document could not be verified.
Citizenship or immigration status changed.
Name change was not reported.
Name entered on I-9 is different than recorded in government data bases.
Information was not entered correctly in E-Verify.

Handling a TNC
Employees should be informed of the TNC promptly.
Employer should print the TNC Notice and Referral Letter and review it with the employee.
Employees have the right to contest or not contest a TNC.

Handling a TNC Employee Rights
The employee has eight federal government workdays from the referral date to visit or call the appropriate agency to start to resolve the discrepancy.
The employee continues to work during the TNC resolution process.
During the TNC process, the employer should not take any adverse action against the employee.

Photo Match
Allows you to match the photo on a document to the photo that DHS has on file for that employee
Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766)
Permanent Resident Card, AKA “green card”(Form I-551)
U.S. Passport or Passport Card

Photo Match helps detect document fraud.

Do not request specific documents in order to activate E-Verify photo matching; but if an employee chooses to provide one of the above documents, you are required to make a photo copy of the document and retain it with the Form I-9.

Employer Responsibilities

Do not:
Use E-Verify to pre-screen employment applicants
Use E-Verify selectively; you must use E-Verify for all new hires
Influence or coerce an employee’s decision whether to contest a TNC
Terminate or take adverse action against an employee who is contesting a TNC
Ask for additional documentation after obtaining a TNC for an employee

Follow all rules and guidelines outlined in the E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding

Things to Remember
E-Verify cannot be used to verify existing employee unless you are a Federal Contractor with FAR E-Verify Clause.
Form I-9 must be completed before a case can be created in E-Verify.
E-Verify cases must be created no later than the third business day after the employees’ start date.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

StartUP! 2013 Business Plan Competition Orientation

StartUP! 2013 Business Plan Competition Orientation

Thursday, November 29, 2012, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Program Locations:
Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL), Conference Room 018 (Map and directions)

The New York Public Library in conjunction with its sponsor, Citi Foundation, is proud to announce the 4th Annual New York StartUP! Business Plan Competition for New York-based startup entrepreneurs with cash prizes totaling over $30,000. The Orientation will start you off by giving you the basics of the competition.  Attending one orientation session is the first requirement of the competition. 

The Back Of The Napkin by Dan Roam

n his book, The Back Of The Napkin, author Dan Roam asserts that that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, but that we — especially in the business world — are never encouraged to develop it. In this video, Roam shows us how anyone with a pen and a scrap of paper can exercise their imagination and work through any business problem by creating pictures.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BlogTalkRadio: Hurricane Sandy loan programs (good stuff!)

The November 28, 2012 episode of BlogTalkRadio with Brian Cohen covers the various loans and resources that are being made available, and discusses exactly what you need to do if you have incurred a loss due to Hurricane Sandy.

Listen to Edward Gregory Dawson, Public Affairs Specialist
Field Operations Center- East for the Small Business Administration
and
Gloria Glowacki, Associate Regional Director, Stony Brook SBDC, who brings "an expansive background of over thirty years in new business development, small business advocacy, and sales and marketing initiatives to her responsibilities over the past 17 years at the SBDC."

I learned a lot! For instance, there is a December 31, 2012 deadline for some loans, but a July 31, 2013 deadline for economic injury loans, because it takes a while ascertain economic injury.

The FEMA loans don't require a specific credit score, and can be done online, though SBDC assistance is available, and suggested to ease the process. However, the Empire Loan of $25,000 requires a credit score of 650, and must go through the SBDC; there's no payment due in the first sixth months, and interest only in month seven.

Contact any local NYS SBDC office, as the folks there are trained in all of these products.

Also:
FEMA - 800 621-3362
SBA - 800 659-2955; SBA disaster loan page.


How businesses can profit from raising compensation at the bottom

From the Ivey Business Journal:

It has long been assumed that companies stand to increase profits by cutting wages and benefits for employees at the bottom of the corporate ladder. While companies use diverse incentives such as high wages, performance rewards, and stock options to recruit, retain and motivate highly skilled professionals, they assume that employees at the bottom of the corporate ladder can be replaced easily — and don’t need incentives.

We conducted a six-year study of companies around the world that had tried investing in their employees at the bottom of the ladder. We sought to answer: 1) How successful were these companies in improving conditions at the bottom of the ladder and 2) What impact did the improvements have on the firms’ productivity, financial costs, and economic returns.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ethnicity Mapping

The New York Times is promoting this colorful tool based on data from the Census Bureau that gives you a visual representation of neighborhoods and their ethnic makeup. I found it very interesting to look up neighborhoods I've lived in to see how they compare numerically to how I perceived them - it's pretty accurate. But our advisors often look for this type of information on behalf of business owners looking to choose a location for their business or areas to direct marketing. That it is so specific, down to census tract areas which are quite small. Mapping America: Every City, Every Block There are also canned maps other than the racial/ethnic distribution map - foreign-born or the individual broad category of race. The topic areas are race and ethnicity, income, housing and families and education.

Petraeus affair: 5 lessons for companies

From CBS News MoneyWatch:

The unfolding scandal involving Gen. David Petraeus is not confined to the upper echelons of the U.S. military -- it also has been a recurrent drama in the corporate world, felling top dogs at dozens of companies from Hewlett Packard (HPQ) to Lockheed (LMT). Yet while the sexual proclivities of top executives pose a risk to corporate value, rather than to national security, such scandals have common themes -- and similar lessons, experts say.

Aside from ordering chastity belts for corporate chief executives and generals, what can be done to reduce the chance that an indiscretion will damage an organization?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Form I-9

In 1986, in an effort to control illegal immigration, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
IRCA forbids employers from knowingly hiring individuals who do not have work authorization in the United States.
The employment eligibility verification provisions of IRCA are found in Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Individuals who may legally work in the United States are:
Citizens of the United States
Noncitizen nationals of the United States
Lawful Permanent Residents
Aliens authorized to work


To comply with the employment eligibility verification provisions of the INA an employer must:
Verify the identity and employment authorization documents of employees hired after November 6, 1986
Complete and retain a Form I-9 for each employee hired after November 6, 1986
Refrain from discriminating against individuals on the basis of actual or perceived national origin, citizenship or immigration status

The anti-discrimination provisions of the INA prohibit four types of unlawful conduct:
Citizenship or immigration status discrimination*
National origin discrimination*
Document abuse during Form I-9 process
Retaliation
* Actual or perceived

All U.S. employers must have a Form I-9 on file for all current employees.
Exception: Employers are not required to have Forms I-9 for employees hired on or before November 6, 1986.
You may delegate the authority to complete Form I-9 to a responsible agent, however, you will retain liability for any errors.


You must make the Lists of Acceptable Documents available to your EMPLOYEE when he or she is completing the Form I-9.


Section 2: Lists of Acceptable Documents
List A Establishes Identity and Employment Authorization
List B Establishes Identity
List C Establishes Employment Authorization
The EMPLOYEE MUST provide either:
One document from List A OR
One document from List B AND one document from List C


If you discover a mistake on Form I-9:
Correct the existing form OR prepare a new Form I-9.
If you choose to correct the existing Form I-9, line out the incorrect portions, enter the correct information, and initial and date the correction.
If you do a new Form I-9, retain the old form. You should also attach a short memo to both the new and old Forms I-9 stating the reason for your action.

If you discover you are missing the Form I-9 for an employee:
•Immediately provide the employee with a Form I-9.
•Allow employee 3 business days to provide acceptable documents.
•DO NOT backdate the Form I-9.

Form I-9 MUST be on file for all current employees.
Store Forms I-9 securely in a way that meets your business needs – on site, off-site, storage facility or electronically.
Store Forms I-9 and document copies together.
Ensure that only authorized personnel have access to stored Forms I-9.
Make Forms I-9 available within 3 days of an official request for inspection.

To identify the retention date, add 3 years to the hire date and 1 year to the date employment was terminated. The date that is later is the retention date. Example: John Smith was hired on November 1, 1993, and on July 5, 1994, employment was terminated. November 1, 1993 + 3 years = November 1, 1996 July 5, 1994 + 1 year = July 5, 1995 The retention date is November 1, 1996.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Crowdfunding: Disrupting the Old Boys' Network

By David Drake of the SoHo Loft

Crowdfunding for projects and companies is nothing new. In the online arena, however, it is quite young – in 1997 fans of the UK rock group Marillion ran the first recognized internet crowdfunding campaign, raising $60,000 to underwrite the band’s tour of the US. In the years since, other artists have also reached out to their fan bases and successfully invited supporters to finance their recordings and/or tours. Now, the wider business momentum toward crowdfunding is accelerating intensely and is attracting significant attention because the model disrupts the [finance] supply chain and distribution mechanism our Fortune 1000 companies have built and so vehemently protected for a century.

Imagine 200,000 Red Cross blood donors being able to pay $100 each towards the development of the newest leukemia medication? That’s $20 million of funding sourced by the crowd.

Can you hear the vested interests – "No, that’s not possible. Won’t happen. Humbug!"

Really? Get your head out of the sand.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving tips

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, check out USA.gov's Thanksgiving page. You'll find cooking and food safety tips, travel resources, volunteer opportunities, and historical information.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SBA Introduces New Online Portal for 2013 National Small Business Week Awards Nominations

WASHINGTON – A new online portal has been launched by the U.S. Small Business Administration to accept nominations for its 2013 National Small Business Week Awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year award.
The dedicated web portal will make it easier to submit and track submissions of nominees for Small Business Week 2013, and is now actively accepting nominations of noteworthy small businesses.

Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy. In 2013, the 50th year celebration will honor the nation’s 27 million small businesses.

SBA Awards given in celebration of National Small Business Week include the following awards:
• National Small Business Person of the Year (chosen from among state award winners from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam)
• Phoenix Awards (recognizing outstanding accomplishments during disaster recovery)
• Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
• Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
• The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence (recognizes large prime contractors who have used small businesses as suppliers and contractors)
• SBA 8(a) Graduate of the Year (for recent graduates of the SBA’s 8(a) contracting program)
• Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Award (nominations of SBA-funded SBDC Service Centers)
• Women’s Business Center (WBCs) of Excellence Award (nominations of SBA-funded WBCs)
• Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award (nominations of SBA-funded Veterans Business Outreach Centers)

In addition to the portal, nominations can also be sent directly to SBA District Offices, which can be located online. All nominations must be submitted or postmarked to the SBA by January 3, 2013.

Winners of the Small Business Person of the Year awards and winners in the other award categories will be invited to Washington, D.C., to compete for national titles and to attend National Small Business Week events in 2013.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Small Merchants Expect Holiday Sales Boost From Small Business Saturday

With the holiday season all but here, more small business owners are making Small Business Saturday an integral factor in their holiday sales plans, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).

Some 46% of independent merchants plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday strategy, and most of them (67%) say they will offer discounts on November 24, according to the inaugural Small Business Saturday Insights Survey from the NFIB and American Express.

Of those small business owners planning to promote Small Business Saturday, 80% expect a year-over-year boost in sales on that day.


Read more from Marketing Profs.com


Monday, November 19, 2012

Yogurt LOVES New York

From CBS News Sunday Morning:

Chobani, just five years on your grocery shelves, is now the best-selling yogurt brand in America.

It's at the forefront of an even bigger culture shift: Greek yogurt, once a small fraction of the market, will top $1 billion in U.S. sales this year.

"It's very high in protein, it has less sugar, and companies have made it absolutely delicious," said Cornell dairy specialist Tristan Zuber. "So that appeals to American consumers right now. They want something that's healthier."

And it's very healthy for the New York state economy, said Zuber. Upstate New York is now home to all the major Greek brands.

For local dairy farmers, you might just call it a cash cow.

"New York is definitely becoming the Silicon Valley of yogurt," said Zuber. "There's currently 553 million pounds of yogurt that's manufactured in New York. That's a 140 percent increase since 2008."

And the next generation of New York yogurt-makers is already on its way up.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

As Boom Lures App Creators, Tough Part Is Making a Living

Much as the Web set off the dot-com boom 15 years ago, apps have inspired a new class of entrepreneurs. These innovators have turned cellphones and tablets into tools for discovering, organizing and controlling the world, spawning a multibillion-dollar industry virtually overnight. The iPhone and iPad have about 700,000 apps.

In the latest article of the iEconomy series, David Streitfeld discusses the question of how real, and lasting, the rise in app employment might be, particularly with an economy yielding few good job opportunities.

Despite the rumors of hordes of hip programmers starting million-dollar businesses from their kitchen tables, only a small number of developers actually make a living by creating apps, according to surveys and experts. And programming is not a skill that just anyone can learn. While people already employed in tech jobs have added app writing to their résumés, the profession offers few options to most unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers.
***
Read More in the New York Times.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dedicated phone numbers for Hurricane Sandy victims

Here is info on dedicated phone lines for business victims of Sandy:

1) IRS

They promote their Disaster Assistance Hotline at 1-866-562-5227 on some of their disaster recovery pages. Here’s a page dedicated to victims of Sandy.

If you call the toll-free number, you’re given two options. One is specifically for questions relating to Sandy-inflicted damage.

2) Professional Licenses

These are administered by NYS Dept of Education, Office of the Professions. There’s a box (in pink) at the bottom of the home page, titled “Important Information for Licensees Impacted by Hurricane Sandy”. In the last two paragraphs, two different phone numbers are mentioned to replace licenses or registration certificates.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

No Work, no pay? What the law says about compensating employees when the office is closed

According to New York State law, employees paid on an hourly basis generally do not have to be paid for time not worked, assuming the employer has informed the workers in advance that the office will be closed. Under state law, employers are required to pay a minimum level of ‘call-in pay’ if the employee shows up for work but the employer is closed and has no work for the employee to perform, unless the employer has attempted to notify the employee of the closure in advance. For most industries, the call-in pay rate equals four hours at the New York minimum wage rate.

Salaried employees usually must be paid for the entire week, without any deductions, if they worked a portion of the work week but then were unable to work the remainder of the week because of a company’s closure, the premise being that salaried workers may have performed duties, such as calling clients or prospects, from home.

One of our business counselors was told by the Department of Labor that businesses can have their staff file for DUA – Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If the employee was UNABLE to work for any reason they would NOT get compensated by unemployment but if they were ready and willing but the business was closed their claim will be considered. Self employed persons can also file for DUA.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is your own name a business liability?

From CBS News MoneyWatch:

Nearly everyone uses, or has used, a search engine like Google to find information on another person -- no real news there. People look up friends, dates, employees, celebrities and politicians, whether for research, snooping, or just curiosity. And if your name is associated with a business -- whether in the Yellow Pages, on the side of a truck or a real estate sign, or as an owner or executive in the news -- they're checking on you, too. Consider this:

Among U.S. adults who have searched someone online, nearly half have searched someone before doing business with them, and 45% have found something that made them decide NOT to do business.

What's significant here is that people are increasingly making decisions based not only about business information, but personal information about principals and others involved with a company. And this can lead to big problems, because while there may be only one company called John Doe Electronics Repair, a Google search of "John Doe" turns up 45 million results.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

SBA Helps Veterans Start, Grow and Expand Small Businesses


WASHINGTON – As the nation marks Veterans Day 2012, the U.S. Small Business Administration continues to build on its successful programs for America’s military veterans, helping tens of thousands of veterans each year with small business financing, comprehensive business training and counseling and access to federal contracts.

“Around Veterans Day, our thoughts turn to the men and women who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, as well as to all veterans who have made sacrifices and served our country over the years,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “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 the path of small business ownership.”

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau veterans are successful small business owners. Nearly one in 10 small businesses nationwide are veteran-owned. Collectively, these 2.4 million small businesses employ almost 6 million Americans and generate more than $1 trillion in receipts. In the private sector workforce, veterans are 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.
SBA supports veteran business owners through entrepreneurial training and mentoring, access to capital, and business development opportunities through government contracts.

Entrepreneurial Development

This year SBA partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to develop a national entrepreneurship training program for transitioning service members as part of the new Transition Assistance Program. Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup was piloted with all four branches of the services in summer and fall 2012. The Boots to Business program will be rolled out during 2013 providing exposure to entrepreneurship training to all 250,000 service members who transition from active duty to civilian life each year.

In a closely related effort, SBA and Syracuse University continue to expand the success of the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities program. The growing partnership between SBA and Syracuse University, now in its fourth year, provides training on how disabled vets 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. Since 2009, the first year SBA partnered with Syracuse University, 434 service-disabled veterans have participated in the program.

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 programs; Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), that focuses on training, networking and mentorship for women veterans, and Operation Endure & Grow, targets National Guard and Reserve component members, their families and partners.

Access to Capital

In FY 2012, SBA backed more than 3,200 loans supporting nearly $2.1 billion in financing to more than 2,800 Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs) through its flagship 7(a) and 504 loan programs, including $118 million through the Patriot Express Loan program. Patriot Express loans offer many advantages to veterans and to SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide. They feature one of SBA’s fastest turnaround times for loan approval and an enhanced guaranty and interest rate on loans up to $500,000 to small businesses owned by veterans, reservists and their spouses. Patriot Express loans can be used for most business purposes, including startup, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or business-occupied real-estate purchases.

Government Contracting

The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program allows federal agencies to set acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns. Federal prime contracting dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) increased for the fifth consecutive year to $11.2 billion, or 2.65 percent, in FY2011, up from $10.793 billion, or 2.50 percent, in FY2010.

Over the last year, SBA has created a series of online contracting courses called Government Contracting (GC) Classroom to help prospective and existing small businesses, including VOSBs and SDVOSBs, understand the basics about contracting with federal agencies. In addition, the Office of Veteran’s Business Development provides procurement training to SDVOSBs to help them take advantage of federal contracting opportunities under the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program.
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, more than 40 percent of whom are veterans. SBA also has numerous programs creating government contracting opportunities for VOSBs. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/vets and www.sba.gov/reservists.

Friday, November 09, 2012

SBA's Advocacy Publishes New Lending Research

The Office of Advocacy has released two items of lending research.

The Small Business Quarterly Lending Bulletin for second quarter 2012 shows that U.S. economic activity increased in the first half of 2012 at a slower pace than at the end of 2011, and total lending to small firms inched downward. The decline was generated primarily by commercial real estate loans; in general, the climate was supportive of economic growth.

A new report, How Did the Financial Crisis Affect Small Business Lending in the United States?, by Rebel Cole, uses data from numerous sources for the period 1994-2011 to analyze lending to U.S. firms. It finds that bank lending to businesses declined significantly after the crisis, and small firms were affected more than large ones. The study was written under contract to Advocacy. The author of the study, Rebel Cole, is a professor of finance in the Kellstadt College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Please note that the report examines total small business lending and does not distinguish SBA lending from total lending.

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

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Disaster Assistance update

From the Governor's webpage:

You can register for FEMA assistance by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) or visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov (or m.fema.gov from a smartphone or Web-enabled device).

There is never a fee to apply for FEMA disaster assistance or to receive it. There is no fee for FEMA or U.S. Small Business Administration property damage inspections.

Please be aware: Government workers will never ask for a fee or payment. They wear a photo ID. Watch out for middlemen who promise you will receive money, especially if they ask for an up-front payment.

One of the dire consequences of any disaster for many people is the loss of important documents. Often, such documents are needed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state emergency services in order to process assistance applications for those who suffered losses or damage to their homes and belongings.

If papers are lost – like birth certificates, Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses, tax records and so on – you can receive replacements by contacting the following:

Birth certificates: If you were born within the confines of the five boroughs of New York City, visit or write to the Office of Vital Records, 125 Worth Street, Room 133, New York, N.Y. 10013. (A photo ID is required both by mail and in person.) The office advises the fastest way to get records is online at www.nyc.gov/vitalrecords. The phone number is (212) 788-4520.
To download and print an application, log onto http://home2.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/vr/birth1.pdf; to apply online, log onto http://www.nyc.gov/vitalrecords www.nyc.gov/vitalrecords.
If you were born in New York state outside of New York City, log onto www.vitalchek.com or phone 1-877-854-4481. This will connect you to a company called VitalChek, which is contracted with the state to handle credit-card orders. There are modest fees involved.
Drivers’ licenses: Visit any New York Department of Motor Vehicles office. To find an office nearby, log onto www.nydmv.state.ny.us/offices.htm.
Social Security cards: Call the U.S. Social Security office at 800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. For TTY users the number is 800-325-0778, or log onto www.ssa.gov/ssnumber for more information.
Federal tax records: Call 800-829-1040, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time, or log onto www.irs.gov.
New York state tax records and New York City tax records: Log onto http://www.tax.ny.gov or phone 518-457-5181

For copies of your utility bills, bank records, insurance policies, mortgage payments and the like, call the appropriate firm and speak to a customer-service representative.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Too Many Business Objectives Are Worse Than None At All

From SmallBusinessNewz

This time of year many businesses turn to planning as a way to determine the path for the upcoming year. It’s a great practice and one that I support without hesitation.

Taking stock of where you are now and how you intend to move towards the vision for your business as you see it down the road is something that you must do to create positive change and growth.

While the task of annual planning is a necessary one, it’s also one that is fraught with challenges.

The best strategic planning focuses on carving our priorities for the year. The challenge with this is that many organizations see it as a time to create a giant wish list or to do list.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Should business owners want to create jobs?

CBS News:

...veteran entrepreneur and contributing [Inc. Magazine] editor ...Norm Brodsky's position is that, while he and all good business owners are happy when they can give people jobs, creating new jobs isn't -- and shouldn't be -- a goal. I'm a long-time fan of Brodsky and his down-to-earth advice, and an admirer of his tremendous business accomplishments. But I don't fully agree with his argument, or at least the way he frames it.

In his piece, Brodsky focuses on job-creation as it relates to overhead and productivity. He says "no one operates a company with the goal of maximizing labor costs," and of course in that regard he is right. We business owners naturally want -- and are generally obliged -- to generate the highest possible return on every dollar we spend. That means getting the most we can out of our real estate, machinery and people. Certainly no one has "increase rent" as a business goal, and Brodsky is saying the same thing in his labor cost argument. He is looking at the expense angle (the very conservative approach with which I almost always agree), rather than the investment view of hiring.

I look at it a different way, and I don't think it's semantics or nuance.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Recovery Update

SBA Coordinating With Our Federal Partners

Federal response teams are already providing assistance to affected communities. SBA is closely coordinating with federal partners, including FEMA, to share information in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Sandy Response

SBA plays an important role in disaster recovery efforts for businesses and homeowners by providing low-interest loans to rebuild and recover. If you have been affected by Sandy, please visit www.sba.gov/sandy to learn more and apply.

For the latest on the government-wide response to Sandy, please visit www.usa.gov/sandy.

Not affected by Sandy? You can help by sharing this update.


IRS Provides Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Following recent disaster declarations for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS announced that affected taxpayers in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York will receive tax relief. Other locations may be added in coming days based on additional damage assessments by FEMA.

Read more.

Friday, November 02, 2012

FOIA and business

Interesting discussion on the BUSLIB listserv this week. Someone was working with students of an instructor who has assigned the "impossible assignment" of finding the "demographics for a given company: how many female employees, how many male, how many disabled, how many minorities/persons of color, and what positions these hold and salaries they make. The instructor insists that this is a doable assignment."

Many companies give similar info annually to the US Government, such as to the Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), but generally it is released only in aggregate form. Public companies are not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, even though they are "subject to more reporting requirements than private companies by virtue of the fact that their shares are publicly traded."

However, the SEC does accept FOIA requests related to public companies for several reasons. Per the SEC: "A FOIA request is required to obtain non-public records, such
as records compiled in investigations, consumer complaints, and staff comment letters. We will release non-public records, unless the record is protected by one of nine FOIA exemptions. If we can reasonably segregate or delete exempt information from a requested record, we will release to you the rest of the record. In addition to FOIA exemptions, there are three special protection provisions, referred to as record "exclusions." The FOIA exclusions are reserved for certain specified circumstances." Of course, "FOIA requests can take weeks, months or longer to complete," and the request mmust be deemed "reasonable."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

SUNY's NYS SBDC Offers Assistance for Businesses Affected by Storm

The State University of New York’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) today began offering disaster relief services to business owners affected by Hurricane Sandy.

"SUNY is proud to be able to offer assistance to communities throughout New York State as they recover from the damage left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake, whether it is by providing shelter on our campuses, volunteering in affected communities, or helping businesses get back up and running," said Chancellor Zimpher. "I commend the efforts of the SBDC and our campuses across New York for their efforts to help the state get back on its feet."

"The SBDC is committed to helping businesses throughout the impacted areas that were affected by this tragic event," says James King, SBDC State Director. "Our business advisors are trained to deal with this type of emergency, and our objective is to help these businesses get back to being fully operational as soon as possible."

Highly trained, disaster-experienced SBDC advisors are available to assist with the following:
· Completing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan applications
· Finding information about available financial assistance and claim filing
· Filling out requests for loans, claims, and assistance forms
· Helping re-create lost financial records, if necessary, to document losses
· Locating and setting up short-term and permanent replacement facilities
· Assessing environmental cleanup options
· Developing an emergency response plan for the business
· Strategic planning for rebuilding the business and marketing to new potential customers
· Identifying and addressing other issues of concern to affected businesses
· Developing a business continuity plan for response to potential future disasters

In addition, business owners located in declared disaster areas may be eligible for financial assistance from the SBA. For small businesses, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Businesses and private non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations, and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Applicants may apply online using the electronic loan application via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Social Media is Destroying Productivity

So, you’ve just finished a task or an assignment and figure you deserve a little mental break. Why not check Facebook or Twitter? It will only take you five minutes, right? Wrong.

As American students and workers spend more time on the Internet and on social media sites in particular, their levels of productivity are tanking. The average college student might spend three hours checking their various social media sites, but only two hours studying. That discrepancy is reflected in lower GPAs. Workers aren’t faring much better, either. Every time someone at work gets an IM, a Facebook message or a tweet, it takes them a whopping 23 minutes to get back on task. Taken all together, that costs the American economy $650 billion per year in lost productivity. The next time you think about checking a social media site, consider how much time and energy it will actually take.

See infographic.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2011

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics -

Nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2011, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.5 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate reported for 2011 was unchanged for the first time in a decade during which the total recordable cases (TRC) injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers declined significantly each year since 2002, when estimates from the SOII were first published using the current OSHA requirements for recording occupational injuries and illnesses.

The incidence rate of injury and illness cases involving job transfer or restriction only among private industry establishments declined in 2011. Rates remained unchanged from 2010 for all other case types—cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction together; cases with days away from work; and other recordable cases not requiring time away from work.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting was one of only two private industry sectors to experience an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2011 compared to 2010, driven by increases in cases in both the crop production and animal production (primarily dairy cattle and milk production) industries. The rate of injuries and illnesses for the accommodation and food services sector also rose in 2011, driven largely by an increase in other recordable cases in both limited-service
restaurants and full-service restaurants.

Monday, October 29, 2012

SBA’s Growth Capital Program Sets Record For Third Year in a Row

$2.95 Billion in Financing for Small Businesses in FY12

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) debenture program provided a record $2.95 billion to small businesses in fiscal year 2012, a 14 percent increase over last year’s $2.59 billion and an 85 percent increase over 2010, also a record year.

“Over the past three years SBA has transformed the SBIC program to ensure small businesses have greater access to SBIC funds,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “These record-setting numbers are proof that our efforts to streamline and simplify the process have made it possible to get capital into the hands of small businesses more quickly. When an SBIC invests in a small business, it can scale up and create jobs.”

High-growth small businesses continue to face difficulties in accessing patient, long-term capital to grow and create jobs. Since 1958, the SBIC program has helped fill these gaps and has invested approximately $63 billion in more than 110,000 small businesses in the United States.

The FY 2012 volume is the highest single-year volume in the 54-year history of SBA’s SBIC debenture program. Increased volume in the program is due in part to a number of improvements that contributed to an increased number of new SBIC licenses and reduced license processing times.

The SBIC program was created in 1958 to stimulate the growth of America’s small businesses by supplementing the long-term debt and private-equity capital available to them. SBA’s SBIC FY 2012 results included the following:

• Record High Financing to Small Businesses: Total financings to small businesses by SBA’s SBIC debenture program grew to a 54-year record high of $2.95 billion in FY 2012 – 14 percent more than in FY 2011.

• Record High SBA Capital Commitment to SBIC Funds: SBA capital commitments to debenture funds broke another record, increasing to $1.92 billion in FY 2012, up from $1.82 billion in FY 2011.

• Record High Private Capital Attracted to SBIC Program: The SBIC debenture program has attracted more initial private sector capital in FY 2012 than in any year in the history of the program – approximately $1 billion compared to $840 million in FY 2011, the previous high. The average debenture SBIC has raised more than twice the private capital than the average debenture fund of a decade ago.

• More Licensed Debenture SBICs and Faster Processing Times: Thirty new debenture and unleveraged SBIC licenses were issued in FY 2012, exceeding last year’s total of 22 by 36 percent. Additionally, SBIC license processing time improved to just 5.4 months in FY 2012, down from 14.6 months in 2009.
SBICs are privately-owned and managed investment firms that are licensed and regulated by SBA. SBICs use a combination of funds raised from private sources and money raised through the use of SBA guarantees to make equity and mezzanine capital investments in small businesses. There are 301 SBICs with more than $18 billion in capital under management.

As part of the President’s Startup America initiative, the SBA leveraged the SBIC program to launch two initiatives with up to $1 billion in leveraged commitments each for impact investments and early stage investments. These commitments are available to SBICs targeting early-stage firms or businesses located in targeted economic areas or industries. To date, SBA has licensed two impact SBIC funds under its Impact Initiative, while another five have an impact focus in their investment strategies. SBA also has issued a call for Early Stage SBICs under the Early Stage SBIC Initiative, and has issued “green light” letters to six potential applicants.

For more information about the SBA’s Investment Division, SBIC program, Impact Investment Initiative and Early Stage Innovation Fund, go to www.sba.gov/INV. The web site offers much useful information including segments for: SBIC Applicants, SBIC Licensees, Private Partners & LPs, and Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners. The site also includes useful SBIC forms, up-to-date news and reports.

Friday, October 26, 2012

When it's good to go to work contagious

From MoneyWatch:

I love being in an office surrounded by contagious people. Not the sniffling, sneezing, coughing kind who don't stay home when they should, but the kind whose enthusiasm and attitude towards their products, customers and company is absolutely infectious.

Many use the term "evangelist" to describe this, but I think there's a distinction: Evangelism (which I also love) is mostly unidirectional -- true believers, preaching and hoping to spread the good word to the masses, whereas contagiousness is more personal and subtle. When you're truly, "professionally" contagious, the people you deal with catch the fever just by interacting with you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nine Surefire Ways to Make Your Blog Fail

Blogs provide an excellent platform to engage with customers. WordPress blogs reach more than 70 million readers and Tumblr blogs reach up to 39 million. With numbers like those, you can see how important a blog can be, both as an extension of a business site and as a standalone destination.

But many bloggers make basic errors that lessen their blogs' effectiveness. Are you making the same errors? Review the following list of nine unforgivable blogging offenses to make sure you are not committing any of them.

Read more


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Small Business Budgeting for 2013

From SBA:

Now that we're in the fourth quarter of the year, it's time to get ready for 2013. There is much to do from a financial, legal and tax perspective. In this article are guidelines for mapping out your company’s financial plans for 2013. In upcoming articles, you’ll see what legal steps you should take and last-minute tax planning moves you should make before the end of the year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World Economic Outlook October 2012: Coping with High Debt and Sluggish Growth

Source: International Monetary Fund

The recovery has suffered new setbacks, and uncertainty weighs heavily on the outlook. A key reason is that policies in the major advanced economies have not rebuilt confidence in medium-term prospects. Tail risks, such as those relating to the viability of the euro area or major U.S. fiscal policy mistakes, continue to preoccupy investors. The World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast thus sees only a gradual strengthening of activity from the relatively disappointing pace of early 2012. Projected global growth, at 3.3 and 3.6 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively, is weaker than in the July 2012 WEO Update, which was in turn lower than in the April 2012 WEO (Chapter 1). Output is expected to remain sluggish in advanced economies but still relatively solid in many emerging market and developing economies. Unemployment is likely to stay elevated in many parts of the world. And financial conditions will remain fragile.

Monday, October 22, 2012

SBA Increases Size Standards for 58 Industries in 3 Sectors

From Hispanic Business:

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued three final rules in the Federal Register, effective Oct. 24, increasing size standards for firms in three North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sectors: Real Estate and Rental and Leasing; Educational Services; and Health Care and Social Assistance.

Size standards define the maximum size a firm can be and still be considered a small business. The revised standards reflect changes in marketplace conditions and public comments that SBA received to the proposed rules...

To review the three rules and public comments, go to www.regulations.gov. Each has a separate RIN number:

-- Real Estate and Rental and Leasing - (RIN 3245-AG28)

-- Educational Services - (RIN 3245-AG29)

-- Health Care and Social Assistance - (RIN 3245?AG30)

...

The SBA issued a White Paper titled "Size Standards Methodology" which explains how SBA establishes, reviews and modifies its receipts-based and employee-based small business size standards. It is available at

Friday, October 19, 2012

Businesses Concentrate Their R&D in a Small Number of Geographic Areas in the US

From the National Science Foundation:

Businesses perform a large share of their research and development in a small number of geographic areas, two of the largest being the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area (CSA) and the New York-Newark-Bridgeport CSA, according to data from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Partnering With Another Company

Today we present a recent article written by Myriam Bouchard, a certified business advisor with the Mid-Hudson Regional SBDC.  It presents information on the advantages of partnering with other companies as a marketing strategy:

http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121015/BIZ/210150335/-1/NEWS

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Business lessons from the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama describes himself as "a simple Buddhist monk," despite that his honorific is "His Holiness." Either way, it's important to note that [his] public talks... tend to have no religious overtones (or even undertones). On the contrary, his tremendous popularity and appeal... largely come from the fact that he reaches out to everyone, taking religion out of the equation. In fact, he stresses the importance and value of viewing human relationships through a universal, secular lens.

More HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Art of Great Service and When We Stopped Listening

From SmallBusinessNewz

We knew that our company wasn’t perfect – which one is? We also knew that some of our company’s practices wouldn’t go over well with our customers, and that would lead to unhappy customers calling in to complain.

Though they sometimes got vociferous in their argument, we would always listen, offer empathy and look for a way that we could both work together to resolve the issue.

Again, it worked. At the end of the call, the customer would apologize and say they were really sorry that they came over as argumentative – they were just frustrated and felt as if they had no-one to talk to about it. All they wanted was for someone to listen and show that their problems were being heard.

Even if nothing could be done about them, just knowing someone cared made a huge difference.
***
No complaints about this traffic cop

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Small Business Advocate – October 2012

The October issue of The Small Business Advocate (vol. 31, no. 7) reports on the Office of Advocacy’s September conference in Seattle, “Small Business and Government: Maximizing Entrepreneurship, Driving Innovation.” In presentations, panels, and hands-on activities, representatives of government and research institutions came together with cutting-edge, visionary entrepreneurs, small business owners, and investors, to learn how government can most effectively promote innovation and businesses can benefit from a relationship with government.

In This Issue
Conference Sparks Dialog on Government and Innovation
Keynote, Recognition, and Takeaways
Panel 1: Small Business Innovators: The Public/Private Relationship
Panel 2: Maximizing Entrepreneurship: Showcasing Innovation Accelerators
Panel 3: Driving Innovation: Emerging Capital Strategies
Getting It Right—How Can the Public Sector Help the Innovation Sector Thrive? 3
Delaware and Pennsylvania Get Regulatory Flexibility
2012 Research Awards Announced

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is your business a "mensch"?

From CBS News MoneyWatch:

For those who aren't hip to Yiddish, the word mensch is the highest praise one can bestow on another person. It basically rolls all of the finest characteristics and aspirations of humanity into a convenient, punchy, one-syllable word. If someone describes you by saying "what a mensch!" you pretty much can't do better. And though the word originates from the German for "human being," your business can and should be mensch-like too.

The general attributes of a mensch are absolute integrity, steadfast reliability and unfailingly high standards of behavior and character. In other words, a very solid citizen. If you believe, as I do, that genuine humanity is at the core of all great businesses, then a great business should aspire to these same qualities.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SBA Loan Dollars in FY 2012 Reach Second Largest Total Ever

WASHINGTON – With loan volume steadily increasing for the past six quarters, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan programs posted the second largest dollar volume ever in FY 2012, supporting $30.25 billion in loans to small businesses. That amount was surpassed only by FY 2011, which was heavily boosted by the loan incentives under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

Overall, the pace of SBA loan-making is a healthy sign for the economy and the credit markets and is one of the foundations for ensuring the availability of financing to small businesses trying to establish themselves, grow and create new jobs for Americans.

The near-record pace was driven in part by a record year for the Certified Development Company (504) loan program, which supported $15.09 billion in small business credits. The strong performance of 504 loans was boosted by the temporary 504 refinancing program, which was responsible for 26 percent of the 504 program loans made in FY 2012 and 34 percent of the dollar volume. The recently expired 504 refinancing program was part of the incentive package under the Jobs Act.

“Reaching such strong numbers is a clear sign that both the business and lending communities are regaining their confidence in the economic climate of the country,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “It means that the credit markets are increasingly willing to help small businesses establish themselves, grow and create new jobs for Americans.”

Over the past year, SBA began streamlining and simplifying many of the loan programs in order to provide more access and opportunity for both lenders and small businesses. As part of this effort, SBA encouraged lenders to use more of their own paperwork and the agency’s updated processing systems, so that more than 80 percent of its loan applications can now be processed online.

The reengineered CAPLines loan program recorded an increase of almost 400 percent in loan volume and 249 percent in dollar volume. The revamped program, which provides working lines of capital to small businesses such as manufacturers and government contractors, jumped from 108 loans and $118 million in FY 2011, to 532 loans and $410 million in FY 2012.

SBA’s streamlining of the Small Loan Advantage (SLA) and Community Advantage programs also produced encouraging results. The Advantage loan programs entice lenders to make low-dollar loans, which are an important tool for small businesses. Community Advantage jumped from 15 loans and $2.1 million in FY 2011, to 188 loans and $25.2 million in FY 2012, an 11-fold increase in both the number of loans and dollar amount. As of the end of May 2012, SLA had a volume of 188 loans for a little over $20 million. The program ended the fiscal year with 820 loans for $105.6 million. Nearly 80 percent of the year’s SLA loans came after SBA implemented simplified processes on June 1.

These efforts, among other loan enhancements, have resulted in nearly 1,300 lenders returning to SBA lending, and have opened up more points of capital access for small businesses wherever they do business.

During the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, SBA loan approvals supported $30.25 billion (53,848 loans) to small businesses in its two main loan programs, 7(a) and 504, compared to $30.5 billion (61,689 loans) in FY 2011 and $22.6 billion (60,771 loans) in FY 2010.

The totals for FY 2012 include 44,377 loans, $15.15 billion approved under the agency’s largest loan program, the 7(a) General Business Loan program, and 9,471 loans supporting $15.09 billion in small business lending under the 504 Certified Development Company program. The “supported” amount for 504 loans includes the SBA-backed portion and the third-party loans made by commercial lenders as part of the funding package.

For more information about these and other SBA programs, visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov, or contact your local SBA field office.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Steady Increase in Home-Based Workers Since 1999

In 2010, 4.2 million more people worked at home than a decade before, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Home-Based Workers in the United States: 2010 contains findings from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and the American Community Survey. The combined analysis provides timely and comprehensive statistics on home-based workers in the United States.

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the number of people who worked at home at least one day per week increased from 9.5 million in 1999 to 13.4 million in 2010, increasing from 7.0 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers. The largest increase occurred between 2005 and 2010, when the share grew from 7.8 percent to 9.5 percent of all workers, an increase of more than 2 million.

The Survey of Income and Program Participation has provided timely information on home-based workers since the mid-1990s and differentiates by those who work exclusively from home (home workers), those who worked only outside of the home (onsite), and those who worked both from home and at a location outside of the home (mixed workers). The survey revealed that median household income was significantly higher for mixed workers at $96,300, compared with $74,000 for home workers and $65,600 for onsite workers.

According to the American Community Survey, 5.8 million or 4.3 percent of the U.S. workforce worked the majority of the week at home in 2010. This is an increase of about 1.6 million since 2000. Because of its sample size and timeliness, with data collected from about 3 million households annually, the American Community Survey provides both reliable subnational estimates and detailed information about the class of worker, industry and occupation of home-based workers.

Estimates from the 2010 American Community Survey indicate that the Boulder, Colo., metropolitan area had among the highest percent of workers who worked from home most of the week with 10.9 percent, followed by Medford, Ore., with 8.4, Santa Fe, N.M., with 8.3, Kingston, N.Y. with 8.1; and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif., with 7.9.
Detailed class of worker information from the American Community Survey suggested that although nearly half of home-based workers were self-employed, government workers saw the largest increase in home-based work over the last decade. Home-based workers increased by 133 percent among state government workers and 88 percent among federal government workers. There was a 67 percent increase in home-based work for employees of private companies.

“As communication and information technologies advance, we are seeing that workers are increasingly able to perform work at home,” said Peter Mateyka, an analyst in the Census Bureau's Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch and one of the authors of the report. “These changes in work patterns have both economic and social implications. Researchers and policymakers, including those in the fields of technology, transportation, employment, planning and housing, will find this report helpful in future transportation and community planning as well as technological trends.”

Other highlights:
• About one in 10 who worked exclusively from home were 65 and older in 2010.
• About one-fourth of home-based workers were in management, business and financial occupations.
• Home-based workers in computer, engineering and science occupations increased by 69 percent between 2000 and 2010.
• Mondays and Fridays were the most popular days to work at home for those who work both at home and at another location.
• Metro areas in the Southeast, Southwest and West had the largest percentage of workers who worked from home.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Corporate Culture and Ethical Leadership Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

What Should Boards, Management, and Policymakers Do Now?

In 1991, in recognition that the acts of individuals can create criminal liability for their organizations, the U.S. Sentencing Commission expanded the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to include a new chapter on organizational crime. The intent was twofold: to provide a consistent set of guidelines to deter and punish organizational crime and to encourage positive behavior — specifically, the establishment of effective corporate compliance programs. In the two decades since, one of the chief aims of the guidelines has been to encourage basic cultural change within organizations in ways that might reduce both criminal and ethical risk. On May 16, 2012, RAND brought together a group of public company directors and executives, chief ethics and compliance officers, and stakeholders from the government, academic, and nonprofit sectors for a series of conversations about organizational culture, as well as to explore the business and policy ramifications of efforts to build better ethical cultures in corporations. The symposium discussions featured a range of viewpoints on the history and progress of compliance initiatives, the barriers to achieving a strong ethical culture, and what corporate boards, executives, and compliance and ethics officers, and policymakers can do to cultivate such cultures. Participants put forward a range of solutions, many of which sought to overcome the common tendency to view compliance as a legal issue more so than a cultural one.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Jobs Outlook from the Conference Board

Everyone's reacting to the jobs figures released this morning. I thought I would have a look at the Conference Board to see what they had to say: Press Release / News Job Growth Still Slow, But Not Slowing 05 October, 2012 Comment on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Report Kathy Bostjancic, Director of Macroeconomic Analysis, The Conference Board With a gain of 114,000 jobs in September and an upward revision for August, this economy remains on a slow but not slowing growth path. More demand would help, as would fewer ill winds blowing in from a contracting Europe and slower emerging markets. More certainty on taxes post-election would also help. However, right now, slow job and income growth is about all the economy is capable of generating as businesses remain focused on cutting costs. That is the signal from The Conference Board Leading Economic Index® for the U.S. and is consistent with recent readings on consumer sentiment. Lack of demand plus concern about declining profits makes it difficult to generate new jobs at a faster pace.

I also saw that the New Yorker has also covered it, and broken it down to better understand how the Department of Labor crunches it's numbers: October 5, 2012 Obama, the Job Figures, and the Conspiracy Theorists Posted by John Cassidy Briefly,my understanding is that you need to take a long view to make sense of these figures. Data is coming from household surveys combined with data reported from employers do not share the same ebbs and flows resulting in re-adjusting figures once more information is received. In all, it is a slow recovery, but it is a recovery.

Geographic Profile of Employment & Unemployment, 2011

This bulletin presents 2011 annual averages from the Current Population Survey for census regions and divisions; the 50 states and the District of Columbia; and 54 large metropolitan areas, 22 metropolitan divisions, and 41 principal cities. Data from the CPS differ from the official estimates produced by the individual states through the LAUS program. CPS estimates are provided herein because they are a current source of information on the demographic and economic characteristics of the labor force in subnational areas, from the same source as the official labor force data for the United States as a whole.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

4 ways to ruin a sales call

From CBS News MoneyWatch

Like most of you, I get cold calls and e-mails every day -- not spam, I mean "real" sales calls -- most of them for things in which I have no interest, or for which I am not even a prospect. And like most people (I'm making statistical assumptions), I almost never answer or respond. It's not because I have it in for all salespeople -- though probably most of us have a hard spot in our hearts for solicitations -- It's because the vast majority of them botch their door-opening efforts so badly.

I appreciate that these people are doing their jobs and trying to make a living. In fact, as I wrote recently, whenever I get a call, e-mail or message from a salesperson, I remind myself that at my company, and probably yours, we call people to try to sell stuff, too. So I'm not insensitive to the plight of the honest, hardworking sales professional.

The problem is, most of their hard work often goes into turning me off to the point of nearly total disinterest in whatever it is they're selling, even if they were straight-up giving away gold bullion.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

James King Named Chairman of National ASBDC

Albany – The State University of New York and New York State Small Business Development Center (NYS SBDC) today announced that James King was recently elected Chairman of the Board for the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) at the organization’s 2012 national meeting in New Orleans. King is State Director of SBDC.

SUNY is the lead host for the statewide SBDC network, which includes the City University of New York (CUNY), Pace University, and Columbia University.

"Jim King’s election as chairman of the national small business development network is a well-deserved recognition of his outstanding leadership in New York State and of SUNY’s progress toward driving economic development," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "We are pleased to have Jim represent SUNY as he helps shape a national agenda for economic support in communities throughout New York and across the nation."

"I am honored and privileged to lead such a distinguished group nationally," said King. "The ASBDC is a vital part of the SBDC network and I look forward to helping contribute to the critical small business initiative that is so vital to our national economy. The support and partnerships we have in SUNY and within higher education throughout New York State, and the many local, regional, and individual contributors who collectively encourage new and existing small businesses to expand and grow, have made this possible, and I thank each of our partners for the critical roles they play in our ongoing success."

The ASBDC is a partnership program uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations, hosted at higher education institutions throughout the nation. The organization is dedicated to the sound development of entrepreneurs and small business throughout America. Founded in 1979, the ASBDC provides a vehicle for continuous improvement of the Small Business Development Center program, exchange of information among all members regarding objectives, methods and results in business management and technical assistance, and advocacy of America's small business community.

The ASBDC officers and board members are made up of SBDC State and Regional Directors from across 11 different states. King replaces Al Salgado, Director for South-West Texas SBDC, as Chairman.

About the SUNY Small Business Development Center
The SBDC, administered by the State University of New York, has 24 regional service centers located throughout the New York State on SUNY, City University of New York (CUNY) and private university campuses. Since inception in 1984, the SBDC has provided small business advisement services to more than 354,000 New Yorkers. The SBDC also provides training and business research to existing business owners and entrepreneurs. SBDC clients have invested over $4.7 billion in NY, impacting 158,000 jobs.

The SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of New York, local communities, and host campuses. As a result of this leveraged support, the SBDC staff provides confidential one-on-one business advisement services at no direct cost to the citizens and entrepreneurs of New York.

For more information about the SBDC, visit www.nyssbdc.org.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating approximately 468,000 students in more than 7,500 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses with nearly 3 million alumni around the globe. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012
SUNY Contact: David Doyle; David.Doyle@suny.edu; 518-320-1311
NYS SBDC Contact: David Carnevale; 518-641-0614