Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MWBEs getting bonded to help win more state contracts

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a new program to eliminate some of the challenges minority and women-owned businesses face when bidding for state contracts.

Cuomo's program, launched Feb. 21, provides MWBEs and small businesses with surety bond assistance. Surety bonds, or letters of credit from insurance companies, act as promises the insurance companies will cover a specific amount of a contract cost, should contractual obligations go unmet.

Two A-plus rated surety bond companies, Travelers and ACE, are taking part in Cuomo's program, ensuring companies contracting to MWBEs up to 30 percent of the principle contract cost. In addition to surety bonds, New York state is collaborating with intermediary lenders to create more working capital loans for contractors.

Cuomo says entrepreneurship, innovation and diversity are New York's strength.

More HERE.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Claim the Home Office Tax Deduction for Your Home-Based Business

Did you start a home-based business in 2011? Confused about what home office costs you can deduct when you file your tax return for 2011?

The IRS home office deduction gives many small business owners a tax advantage allowing them to write-off certain home costs. However, it’s important to understand the rules of the road so that you don’t raise red flags with the tax authorities.

More HERE.

Monday, February 27, 2012

How Twitter Can Help Small Businesses

For years the question, “What is Twitter,” was among the top searches in Google. While the answer is varied depending on who’s answering, what’s consistent across the board is that people find value in the network for very personal reasons.

That means that people are weaving emotional connections in the network based on the people they follow and those who follow them back. This includes friends of course, but also organizations, athletes, celebrities, musicians, as well as their favorite businesses.

So as a small business owner, entrepreneur, or service provider, why is this, or Twitter for that matter, important to you? More specifically, how could Twitter’s indefinable characteristics improve your business?

More HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Free Ebook: How to Use Pinterest for Business

Learn how to increase traffic, leads and sales by reaching more than 11 million people on Pinterest.

Pinterest isn't just another social media network.

What appears to be the fastest-growing social media site ever has become a huge traffic referral (arguably, more powerful than Google+) for all businesses. An increasing number of companies are leveraging the platform to reach a new audience, increase visits to their websites, and generate leads or retail sales. And guess what? It's working.

More HERE.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marketing Is the New Selling

Taking Things Into Your Own Hands

In order to thrive in today’s digitally driven business environment, sales folks need to think and act more like marketers. I suppose to some degree this has always been true, but it is painfully so now that prospects have access to mounds of information, have tools to deflect unwanted sales messages and have the ability to freely publish both flattering and unflattering information about the companies with whom they choose to do business.

So, in order to survive in this new world order salespeople need to take things in their own hands and connect much more deeply with the marketing side of things. I’ve often said that getting marketing and sales on the same page was one of the biggest challenges for departmentalized business, but now it’s become an individual challenge.

In the traditional model marketing owned the message while sales owned the relationship. In the new model there can be little distinction. Marketing must get better at relationship building and sales must get better at message building and delivery.

More HERE.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Power of the Rule of Three in Marketing Your Small Business

What, exactly, is the Rule of Three? It’s a rule that basically states that more than three “whatever” is confusing and overwhelming – either visually or mentally, or both.

That makes it especially helpful if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who likes to give too much…As in: too many options, too much rambling content, too many bullet points, too much info crammed into a speech, etc.

The Rule of Three is a fascinating thing. Why? Because it seems to apply in so many different situations. And many of these situations are related to effectively marketing a business. So if you’re an entrepreneur, it makes sense to understand how, when and why to apply it.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

4 Spring Cleaning Ideas for Small Businesses

Have the urge to do some spring cleaning this year? Be sure to funnel some of that energy toward making effective changes in your small business. Mary Lee Gannon, CEO of StartingOverNow.com, specializes in productivity solutions for people and organizations. HERE, she offers four ideas for jump-starting your spring cleaning efforts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Many small business owners favor "Buffett rule"

The business community is dead-set against raising taxes on the rich, right? Sorry, trick question. It's fallacious to think that there is single, monolithic bloc of company owners and managers out there all singing from the same economic hymnal.

Many small businesses, in contrast to U.S. multinationals, largely back the so-called Buffett rule, a plan made famous (or infamous) by legendary investor Warren Buffet that would hike tax rates on top income-earners, according to a new survey.

More HERE.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Got Backup? Finding Best Backup Option for Small Business Data

How are you backing up your small business data? If you are like most small businesses, you could be compromising your business and its data on a daily basis.

A 2011 survey by Carbonite, a provider of online backup solutions, found some facts about data loss that may surprise you:

Forty-eight percent of American small businesses with between two and twenty employees have experienced data loss, up from 42 percent in 2010.
Top causes of data loss include hardware/software failure (54 percent), accidental deletion (54 percent), viruses (33 percent) and theft (10 percent).
Thirty-one percent of business owners surveyed think backing up company data is a hassle.

Scary, huh?

If you’ve ever lost a laptop, or been left stranded by malware or some other problem, then you already know the detrimental effect it can have on your business. For many, it can mean disaster.

More HERE.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grow Your Business with Bing Tools

Kick off 2012 with new online strategies to drive more business to your site. Join this webinar to learn how you can take full advantage of all the online marketing solutions Bing has to offer.

During this one-hour session, you'll learn how Bing tools can help you:

Quickly improve your website's rank on Bing and Yahoo! Search results pages.
Make sure your site "gets found" by the customers you want.
Drive immediate traffic to your site through flexible pay-per-click search advertising on Bing and Yahoo! Search.

More HERE.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Branding Yourself - Can It Be Done?

Branding yourself can be extremely challenging.

The main reason is that you are too close to the subject, as well as being emotionally and financially invested. The only way to figure out if your brand perception matches your brand reality is with a neutral outside perspective. (By the way, it doesn’t have to be me; it can be a small focus group of trusted friends or colleagues… which would be free for you, aside from the time investment.)

Once you have the details of your brand perception, and where your branding gaps exist; you will be able to see the BIG picture where all the puzzle pieces finally fit (woo-hoo, clarity)! Then your branding success will come from self-packaging with powerful images and action words. This, along with a ‘can-do’ mindset and proper promotion will create a powerful brand.

3 keys to branding success HERE.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SBA’s Final Rule Increases Size Standards, Expands Eligibility for Small Business Programs

The U.S. Small Business Administration published a final rule in The Federal Register that will increase some of the size definitions of small businesses in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Other Services sectors.

The final rule will increase 37 of the revenue-based size standards in 34 industries and three sub-industries in the “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services” sector. It will also increase one size standard in the “Other Services” sector.

As part of an ongoing review of all size standards, the SBA evaluated all of the revenue-based size standards in these sectors to determine whether to revise the existing size standards. SBA took into account the structural characteristics within individual industries, including average firm size, the degree of competition, and federal government contracting trends to ensure that size definitions reflect current economic conditions within those industries. Under provisions in the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, SBA will continue its comprehensive review of all size standards for the next several years.

After receiving numerous public comments to the proposed rule published in The Federal Register on March 16, 2011, the SBA determined that increasing the size standards in these industries:
• will enable more small businesses to retain their small business status; and
• will give federal agencies a larger selection of small businesses to choose from for small business procurement opportunities.

SBA estimates as many as 8,350 additional firms will become eligible for SBA programs as a result of these revisions.

See the SBA-issued White Paper entitled Size Standards Methodology, which explains how the SBA establishes, reviews and modifies its receipts-based and employee-based small business size standards, as well as other information about “What’s New with Size Standards”.

Ways to Build Strong Client Relationships

High-profit salespeople recognize that a lot of little things go into building great client relationships. Taken individually, those things may seem like no big deal. But taken collectively, they compound into such a difference in your sales.

More HERE.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Best Business Plan Tool for Startups

If you’ve ever started a business, been involved with a Startup, or know somebody who has; a business plan in a static state is good for a matter of days. It is not that the process of planning is bad. It is that fact that things in the business world change at warp speed. I recently found a solution to this problem that I am going to share in the post below.

Recently I came across a tool called www.fundingroadmap.com. In their own words they are a “..fast and easy multiple choice planning platform built in the cloud.” So….what does that mean? It means it has never been easier to build a business plan. It means it shows you everything you need to take your idea and put some meat to it. It means that when you show this to an investor it shows you know what the hell you’re doing.

More HERE.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Economic and Geo-Political Implications of China-Centric Globalization

The last 30 years have witnessed the era of globalization which has been marked by the creation of an integrated global economy. Globalization has been the product of both policy and market forces, and U.S. policymakers have persistently been in the vanguard. However, what began as a project of globalization has been transformed with little explicit public discussion into a project of China-centric globalization.

More HERE [PDF].

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Power of the Rule of Three in Marketing Small Business

What, exactly, is the Rule of Three? It’s a rule that basically states that more than three “whatever” is confusing and overwhelming – either visually or mentally, or both.

That makes it especially helpful if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who likes to give too much…As in: too many options, too much rambling content, too many bullet points, too much info crammed into a speech, etc.

The Rule of Three is a fascinating thing. Why? Because it seems to apply in so many different situations. And many of these situations are related to effectively marketing a business. So if you’re an entrepreneur, it makes sense to understand how, when and why to apply it. More HERE.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

5 Ways to Strike Sparks of Creativity

There are times when you or your staff are feeling less than inspired but creative problem solving is essential. And there are some people— maybe even you—who fear the blank page or any situation in which they must use their creativity (technical term: getting creative-now-o-phobia). Getting started is often the most difficult part of the creative process. Rather than worrying about the finished project, start by creating sparks. Think of them as embryonic ideas that still need a lot of nurturing before reaching maturity. Don’t worry about the finished project just yet—instead, focus on rough concepts that ultimately can be molded into a final version. HERE are five fun techniques that will help generate creative sparks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Check out this inspiring talk on women entrepreneurs.

Advice, Tips on Starting a Business Offered In SBA Web Chat

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s February web chat will offer business start-up advice for entrepreneurs. If you are considering starting a business in 2012, SBA can be valuable resource to help you find a mentor, improve your business skills and get training to help boost your ideas.
WHO: Janice Washington, state director of the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network, will host the February web chat on "New Year, New Business: How to Start it Right." An experienced business consultant and former business owner, Washington will answer questions about the early steps to take when starting a business, and the tools and resources that can help to get a small business idea off the ground.
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 advance, and during the live session. Participants will gain valuable information on how to participate in the program to gain increased access to government contracting opportunities.
WHEN: Thursday, February 16, 2012 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (ET)
HOW: Participants can join the live web chat, and also post questions before the February 16th chat, by going online to www.sba.gov, and click on the web chat event under What’s New.
To review archives of past web chats, visit online at sba.gov.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Taking The Minimalist Road To Success

Minimalism can be seen as a design movement, a philosophy, a way of life, a set of guidelines or a combination of all of those. There's no hard and fast definition of minimalism, but there is one common principle that's shared wherever it's defined: focus on the essential and eliminate the non-essential.
So what's that got to do with your business, and making it better?
Well, it's about perspective. In a culture that's very stuff-oriented, examining a philosophy that's at least partially about "less stuff" can help you gain some fresh perspective. More HERE.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Internal Revenue Service Webinar: Worker Classification

Presented by the Internal Revenue Service
February 15, 2012, 2 p.m. EASTERN, 1 p.m. CENTRAL, Noon MOUNTAIN, 11 a.m. PACIFIC

This FREE webinar is for:
• Tax practitioners
• Small business owners & industry organizations
• Payroll professionals
• Tax exempt and Government entities

Learn about:
Employee and Independent Contractor issues and the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program including:
• Defining workers as employees and independent contractors
• What to consider in determining a worker’s status
• Looking at important Forms SS-8 and 8919
• How to treat corporate officers
• Determining if you qualify for federal employment tax relief under Section 530
• Details about the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program

Note: CPE credit is not being offered for this webinar

Register & Attend:
Click on the link to register for the session

Information:
• Visit www.IRS.gov and search Webinars for information about other events.
• This event will be archived on the IRS Video Portal for later viewing approximately three weeks after the date of the event.

Sponsored by: IRS Small Business/Self Employed Division

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Do You Have Your Employees' Respect? How to Recognize and Fix Broken Relationships

Ever feel that your employees don’t respect you? You may think: “So what!” But that would be a mistake. The trouble is that when an employee starts to lose respect, your authority and control can quickly be undermined. Even if you are not aware of a problem employee, the effect can be toxic. Productivity levels drop, accountability diminishes, and the problem behavior can spread to others. But there are things you can do to develop, maintain, and even recover the respect of your employees without resorting to disciplinary measures.

Read more.