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Showing posts from April, 2012

This Week in Small Business: Where Is the Recovery?

The Big Story: What’s the Fed To Do?

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee says the economy is expanding moderately. A former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation warns that the Fed is fueling a financial bubble. The Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and a Times columnist, Paul Krugman, battle it out. Josh Bivens says that the United Kingdom’s double-dip recession is proof austerity doesn’t work. Henry Blodget says it’s official: Keynes was right. Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez believe that increasing tax rates is part of a sensible deficit-reduction strategy. Jared Bernstein summarizes the economic impact of raising taxes on high-income households. Social Security’s projected shortfall date is moved up to 2033. President Obama slow jams the news.

The Economy: The Shale Boom

Russell Investments updates its state-of-the-economy dashboard. Among accountants, confidence in the global economy improved substantially in early 2012. USA Today reports that some economist…

The Small Business Authority Hour Focuses on Economic and Employment Trends

The Small Business Authority, announced today the next live radio broadcast focusing on job outlook, economic trends related to hiring and employment trends with recent graduates. The show will broadcast from "The Small Business Authority Studio" at 77WABC Radio in New York. National listeners can also tune in at www.wabcradio.com and click listen live. The program, The Small Business Authority Hour, will be broadcast on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

The show, dedicated to independent business owners across the United States, will feature guest Maury Harris, Managing Director and Chief Economist for the Americas for the UBS investment bank. Maury has been named numerous times to the Institutional Investor (II) All-America Research Team over the past two decades. In the January 2012 edition of Bloomberg Markets magazine, Dr. Harris and his team were cited as having the most accurate week ahead forecasts of U.S. economic data among 78 US forecasters over the two yea…

How to Set up a PayPal Account for Your Business

MakeUseOf How-To Articles How To Set Up A PayPal Account For Your Business April 26, 2012 By Tim Brookes PayPal has long been the leader in online payments. It offers a safe way for customers to pay for goods and services, as well move money around the globe. Most recently Chinese consumers are able to pay using PayPal. Especially for one-off purchases, I prefer PayPal to sharing my credit card details. It is also a good choice when you don't have your credit card handy. They offer services to students whereby parents set up an account with funds and the student gets a debit card they can use. For businesses, high-volume users are charged a fee of 1.9% This is a straightforward explanation of how you can set up an account with PayPal. It covers the various types of accounts and includes screen shots throughout.

Economic Growth and the Unemployment Rate

Source: Congressional Research Service, via Federation of American Scientists

A persistently high unemployment rate is of concern to Congress for a variety of reasons, including its negative consequences for the economic well-being of individuals and its impact on the federal budget (i.e., deficit growth due to lower revenue and higher expenditures). The unemployment rate was 9.5% when the economy emerged from the 11th postwar recession in June 2009. It climbed further to peak at 10.1% in October 2009. The rate then slowly declined before stalling at about 9.0% for most of 2011. Although the unemployment rate has resumed its decline, at slightly above 8.0% in early 2012, it remains at an historically high level.

The slow rebound of the labor market has prompted calls for new measures to stimulate economic growth to avoid a so-called double-dip recession, such as occurred during the early 1980s. The economy contracted in July 1981, 12 months into the recovery from the January-J…

Are you a Small Business that has been helped by SBA? Don’t miss National Small Business Week Video Contest

From the SBA:

It’s almost time for National Small Business Week 2012 - and to kick things off we are launching a video contest.

Each week I travel around the country and hear from business owners about how SBA has helped them start, grow and succeed. I’m often inspired by each business’ ingenuity, and it’s the small business owners I meet each week that are making communities strong and keeping America competitive.

I want to share these stories, and so many more, with everyone. The video contest is an opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs to share their success stories with a larger audience and emphasize how important they are to their local economy.

How to Participate:

Videos can be submitted through Challenge.gov from 12pm EDT April 16 through 5pm May 11. Contestants should produce a short (1-2 minutes), original video to share their story. The list of Contest Rules provides additional details on the required video content and format. All eligible videos w…

To Form an LLC in New York

In order to form an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in the state of New York, there are a few steps you must follow before you are an established LLC.

First, you must choose a business name for your LLC and check for availability. New York law requires that an LLC name contain the words "Limited Liability Company" or "LLC".

Then, you must prepare and file articles of organization with the Department of State.

After those papers have been submitted, you must publish for 6 consecutive weeks stating that you have formed an LLC. This process can require time to contact your county clerk's office to determine in which publications you are allowed to publish. Here at the NYS SBDC, we receive many inquiries about where new LLCs are allowed to publish about their small business, so we put together a list of all of the publications for every county in the state of New York. However, for those starting their LLC in the counties of Queens, New York, or Kings, must stil…

Web Chat: Spring Cleaning for your 2012 Business Outlook

SBA's April Web Chat to focus on keeping business ideas fresh.

Thursday, April 26, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., ET
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration’s April web chat will highlight ways to keep your business ideas fresh. Do you have questions about how to sharpen your business ideas, how to organize your business or new ways to market your business?

WHO:
Octavia Kuransky, program development manager for SBA’s Central Alabama Women’s Business Center, will host the April web chat on “Small Business Spring Clean: How to Keep Your Business Ideas Fresh.” A small business owner in her own right, Kuransky will answer questions about how to get a fresh business outlook for 2012.

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

5 Small Business Lessons From Mad Men

A fan of the hit series Mad Men? Based on an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in the 60's, check out some lessons from the show that would be useful for business owners:

Don’t depend on one customer for all or your major part of your business: In the episode the newly formed company which is a small business faces the loss of the client “Lucky Strike” brings home the horror of a business losing their biggest customer. Ideally the best strategy could be to continue to get more new customers so that your entire business is not dependent on one customer.

Take risks. Don’t be afraid to let a client go under compelling circumstances: I am not 100% sure about this so I hope you can give me your experiences. In the series when the company decides to go after the business of American Airlines they decide to drop another profitable existing client. If you are a proponent of a “bird in hand is worth two in the bush” then you would be cautious with this.

Offline networking and shaking han…

The Things Customers Can Do Better Than You

Many firms assume that customers can do just one thing of real significance: buy their products and services. It's time to seriously challenge that assumption, as many companies are doing by looking to customers to fuel their growth engines.

Facebook, for example, has close to 1 billion customers who don't pay a cent. Yet the company is receiving valuations of $50 billion and more — despite having just 3,000 or so employees — because of the extremely high-potential, non-purchasing value such customers provide. In a phrase, Facebook and other forward-thinking companies look to their customers to grow their businesses.

This isn't genius at work. In fact, entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, are simply recognizing — and acting upon — entirely obvious realities about customers and their desires and competencies, choosing to leverage these rather than fight against them, as so many firms do. Here are five examples:

Customers know more about eac…

Managing a Virtual Team

Teams that are geographically-dispersed, or virtual, have now been used and studied for more than three decades — yet we all still wrestle with how to get them right. Managers frequently ask for best practices for managing their global teams, and recently we've noticed some common themes. Here are the three questions that keep coming up again and again, and what the research tells us about how to address them:

1. When and how often when do we need to meet face-to-face (FTF)?

Despite the appeal of completely virtual teams, most team leaders try to convene their teams for face-to-face meetings at some point — leading them to ask how often and when should they do so. We share two robust findings to consider when planning face to face meetings.

First, research by Maznevski and Chudoba, Carmel, and others finds that FTF interaction is especially important early in a team's life, particularly when the team is comprised of people who don't already know each other. "Early,&q…

SMBs Are Prime Targets for Hackers

As more and more companies are falling victim to security breaches, a lot of businesses are worried they could be next. These concerns reached a new height over the course of 2011 as Sony, Citibank, and even certain areas of the government were hacked.

More HERE.

Secrets of the Most Productive People

The path to productivity is not a new assistant or project management software. It's these four shared characteristics.

1. They have a life.

Far from being the maniacally focused, late night or early morning types, truly creative innovators or problem solvers have a rich life outside of work. One of the finest CEOs I've known, Carol Vallone, founder of WebCT, coached her local softball team. She said it's where she honed her leadership skills. It also meant she had to take her mind off work and think in different ways. No wonder academic research keeps showing that external commitments are highly correlated with high achievement.

2. They take breaks.

It's easy to think that you'll get more done if you never stop. But what's clear from neuroscience is that we can easily get resource-depleted (tired) and can quickly become rigid and narrow minded (tunnel vision). In other words, we get stuck. Taking a break—just walking around for a minute—can reset and refresh…

Deloitte Industry Outlook 2012

Deloitte is a company that provides audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting services. For a limited number of industries, they provide 2012 industry outlooks. Check out the Top Ten Issues in 2012 for Commercial Real Estate or the Insights into the Future of the North American Natural Gas Market for an idea of what's available.

Thinking About Becoming a Franchisor? Here Are Some Tools...

Technology has certainly made an impact in the way we do business these days. It’s practically impossible to run a small business without it. In the world of franchising, technology is a very important part of the actual business model. A good franchisor with good technology makes it a lot easier to be a franchisee-an owner.

If you’re considering franchise ownership, make sure that you find out what’s being used by the franchise company that you’re thinking of joining. Make sure that the systems in place are designed to help you succeed as a franchisee.

For the full article, click here.

Jump in Small Business Employment

Employment at small businesses increased in March at the highest rate in over two years, according to payroll figures from Intuit.

Intuit’s Small Business Employment Index indicated that small business employment increased by 0.3 percent in March, while monthly compensation and the number of hours worked also increased.

Intuit estimated that small business employment grew at an annual growth rate of 3.8 percent. The figures are based on small businesses with fewer than 20 employees that use Intuit Online Payroll. Another payroll provider, ADP, also reported an increase in small business hiring in March, but SurePayroll saw a slight decline.

“This is the strongest small business employment report we have had in a long time,” said Susan Woodward, the economist who worked with Intuit to create the index. “Yet at the same time, the hiring rate has remained flat at just above five percent since May 2009. This indicates that small firm employees are staying with their current employers, r…

U.S. Postal Service Launches Innovative Technology for Small Businesses

The U.S. Postal Service wants the small business world to know about its direct mail shipping service for small businesses, called ”Every Door Direct Mail.”

With Every Door Direct Mail, small businesses including restaurants, auto dealerships and doctor’s offices can send out direct mail campaigns such as postcards and brochures, with postage rates as low as 14.5 cents.  The remarkable thing is that you don’t need a mailing list with specific addresses and/or names, or a postal permit. Such items typically drive up the costs and effort in a direct mail campaign.

Instead, the Postal Service’s website provides an online mapping tool.  You  can choose a city, county, zip code or even a neighborhood (i.e., within a 5-mile radius of a specific address).  You just choose the area, and the direct mail will be delivered without the need to affix labels or print specific addresses.

The tool is fairly easy to use.  Once you’ve registered your business and learn it the first time, t…

Import Export International Business Help Center

The International Business Help Center provides 300 pages of resources and information about worldwide B2B and Import Export opportunities. This web based international trade center was created to assist companies expand into new foreign markets, provide training for individuals wishing to start an export import business and help importers locate reliable sources of new products.
For access to more information and services, click here.

7 Tips for Getting Your Marketing Message Right

From HERE -

How do you describe your business to the world? What words sum up your brand identity and what you have to offer? Are you clearly explaining your business value?

It takes a little time and thought to get your marketing message right, which is why so many small businesses fall back on their “About Us” page or product descriptions to describe what they do and for whom. The problem with this approach is that this message is always about the business itself, and not about those you are trying to connect with – your customers.

Getting your marketing, positioning, and brand statements right is an essential step

Ramble, Stalk, Split Up: What NOT To Do When Trying To Get Into a Business Incubator:

For the full article, here.

Want to get into TechStars? You're not the only one. Of the 1,500 who apply, only 1 percent actually get in the prestigious accelator program. The good news? You can learn from other founders' success and, of course, failure. Here are some tips we learned from the 2012 applicants to New York's TechStars program.


Do
Send progress reports...


Do
Show your personality...


Do
Fight back...


Do
Cop to your shortcomings...


Don't
Stalk the admissions committee...

Don't 
Ramble...


Don't
Lose your co-founder...


Don't 
Request a nondisclosure agreement...

The Demographics of the Jobs Recovery

This report from the Pew Hispanic Center analyzes labor market trends in the economic recovery from 2009 to 2011. The focus is on the change in employment by race, ethnicity, gender and nativity. The data for this report are derived from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Data from three monthly surveys were combined to create larger sample sizes for individual groups of workers.

Changes In Sales Tax Clothing Exemption Effective April 1, 2012

Sales of eligible clothing and footwear for less than $110 are exempt from state sales tax 

Beginning April 1, 2012, the New York State sales tax clothing exemption is restored to the original less-than-$110 threshold.
Sales of eligible clothing and footwear costing less than $110 per item or pair are exempt from the state's 4% sales tax and local tax in those localities that enacted the exemption.
These sales are only exempt from the ⅜% Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD) tax in those localities within the MCTD that enacted the exemption from their local tax.

5 Tips for Setting Your Salary as Business Owner

From  HERE -

If you’re a sole proprietor with no employees and very little business overhead, what you pay yourself is pretty much what you earn in sales minus your costs and taxes. But what happens when your business grows, or you enter a partnership, or take on employees – how do you determine what your salary should be?
As a business owner, setting your own salary can be a tricky task, especially in markets that see highs and lows. Here are a few tips to help you determine the best way to "pay the boss.”

No Magic Formula

There is no magic formula for setting your salary because so much depends on the development stage of your business and how it’s doing.

Facebook's Timeline Disrupts Some Businesses

Stephen Terrell expected a group of happy users when he updated his company's Facebook profile page to the new Timeline format, allowing his mostly senior-citizen customers to register for a contest to win a trip to Hollywood to meet nonagenarian actor Betty White.


Instead, there was an explosion of anger and confusion.   MORE