Friday, June 29, 2012

Time Management Tips

"Time is a resource that must be utilized wisely in order for professional and personal goals to be achieved. Goal setting is one of the best ways to make sure time is managed in a manner designed to reach success. A recent video article posted on the online source inc.com highlighted five great time management techniques that are easily understood and employed. The video was created by Scott Gerber. Leadership development within an organization must account for time management work with all leaders. Again, goal setting is the key to effective time management for any successful leader." Time Management: 5 Useful Tips

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Common Social Marketing Mistakes and Solutions

"Unfortunately, the whole B2B/social media relationship isn’t without its own set of growing pains as well. Which is, naturally, to be expected; as exemplified by the aforementioned cat videos and pop stars, figuring out exactly how your business ought to engage on these platforms isn’t perfectly intuitive, nor have these channels been around quite long enough for their to be a widespread, well-established protocol. As a result, a great many businesses are not only failing to maximize the benefit of being present on social media, but they might also be hurting themselves." Here are a few common mistakes in B2B social marketing and how you can avoid them: B2B Social Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TAM, SAM and SOM

Here is a great article from the Up and Coming Blog by Bplans. Having viewed several business plans over the years, a common (and very important) item missing from most plans is a breakdown of the company’s TAM, SAM and SOM in the marketing section of their plan. Wondering what these acronyms mean? Well you’re not alone – many entrepreneurs are not familiar with these terms. Here’s a quick explanation of what they mean, followed by an example:
TAM, SAM and SOM - huh??

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why and How to Beef Up Your Business Credit Score

From SBA:

Do you know your business credit score? Feel unnerved about relying on your personal credit score for business transactions? As a business owner, taking steps to separate your personal and business finances is a smart strategy. Obviously, this means implementing a strategy to build good credit in your company’s name.

What is Business Credit?

Business credit is much like your own personal credit score – it’s a proxy for your business’ ability to repay its debts. When you start a business, this type of credit may not be at the top of your agenda. But as you plan to expand and grow, establishing good business credit will be helpful if you decide to apply for a business loan.

Who Monitors Your Credit?

Business credit, also known as trade credit, is the single largest source of lending and is monitored by business credit bureaus. These bureaus gather data on trade credit transactions and produce business credit reports for the benefit of credit issuers. Credit is measured on a scale of 0-100, with a score of 75 or more being the ideal range.

Good Business Credit Can Open Doors and Bring Many Benefits

Establishing business credit is about so much more than trying to improve your chances of securing a loan.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Doing business in China without getting ripped off

There is a great blog I came across called China Law Blog, which anyone wanting to export items to China. For instance, I discovered in this article that there are Fake China Law Firms...where companies "thought they were paying money to a Chinese law firm for something like registering a trademark in China or drafting a manufacturing agreement. Instead, they paid money to somebody that had set up a temporary website with the sole intention of bilking the unwary."

Also check out Protecting Your China IP. Me Thinks Thou Dost Worry Too Much.

A most useful site.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Everybody needs both Pinterest and LinkedIn

Or so says online marketing expert Tim Peter:

"A few days ago, Mike Moran noted "nobody needs both Pinterest and LinkedIn." And, generally, Mike's absolutely right. Too many guys in black turtlenecks and very cool eyeglasses try to fit their standard portfolio of tricks and tips to your business, without really considering how to various social channels fit your brand's needs. But…Why don't you need both Pinterest and LinkedIn? Actually, you might. Read on to find out why."

Since I don't even have a Pinterest account, I'm behind the curve...again.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Experts’ Advice for Small Businesses Seeking Foreign Patents

According to the expert panel of patent law attorneys that GAO surveyed, small businesses that are considering whether to seek patent protection abroad should identify and assess the full “cradle-to-grave” costs of acquiring, maintaining, and enforcing foreign patents. Other considerations should include the locations where small businesses intend to sell or manufacture their invention and whether the range of benefits obtained from foreign patents, such as increased sales or higher company value, is sufficient to justify their cost. Furthermore, small businesses should try to
understand foreign patent laws and systems and the quality of foreign patent enforcement, the expert panelists said. The small businesses that GAO surveyed agreed that foreign patent costs, benefits, and potential locations were important factors in their decisions to patent abroad. However, some small businesses did not properly evaluate long-term costs and could not determine whether foreign patent benefits outweighed the costs.

The most important step that small businesses could take to improve their foreign patent efforts, according to GAO’s survey of patent law experts, is to avoid disclosing information publicly about an invention before filing a U.S. patent application. The United States permits such disclosure, but doing so can invalidate an applicant’s right to patent protection abroad. The second most important step is to be aware of filing deadlines, which are specified in foreign laws and international patent treaties. Other important steps included integrating foreign patents into long-range business planning and seeking patents in countries where meaningful protection is available and a return on investment is likely.

More info HERE.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Government Resources to Help With Difficult Financial Times

The mission at SBA is to to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise, and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of the nation.

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov, the official web portals of the U.S. government, have put together helpful information on how to get help for difficult financial times.
If times are tough for you and your family, or your employees, sign up for the e-mail updates below:
Sign up in one-click for information to get help with difficult financial times and to receive featured updates from USA.gov.
• En Español - Suscríbase con un clic para obtener información que lo puede ayudar a superar dificultades económicas y recibir actualizaciones de GobiernoUSA.gov.

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov will highlight government resources that will help you with unemployment, jobs, training, housing, debt and credit, family issues, health care and insurance.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What Do Employers Really Think About Social Media?

"Are you tweeting in your meetings? Do you complain online about your co-workers’ annoying quirks? If so, your employer probably doesn’t appreciate you sharing proprietary or negative information about their company with the world. But can they do anything about it? Yes, if they have a social media policy.

"While employers adore social media for brand promotion and marketing, they don’t like it when an employee opens up a party popper of bad news about the company that can cover the world in seconds."

Read more HERE.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Small business trends are positive

The Small Business Quarterly Bulletin from Advocacy's Office of Economic Research is a brochure-style publication that contains commentary and analysis on the current employment and financing trends of small businesses.

From the current issue:

"While small firms with 20-499 employees provided three-quarters of the net employment growth since the end of the downturn, more recently, even the very small firms (fewer than 20 employees) and large firms (500 or more employees) showed solid net increases (Chart 4). Increases were driven by existing firms, as birth and death employment essentially netted each other out leaving little to no impact on the overall employment level. The decline in employment from births over the last decade has been accompanied by a corresponding decline in employment from deaths."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Local Businesses Build Local Communities, by Rhonda Abrams


If you want to do something to help your community, the environment, and yourself, there’s one easy step to take: Patronize your local small businesses. As a small business owner, you can also hire local contractors and use local service providers.

Once, Americans put their trust in local companies. We preferred to buy from the shop down the street or hire the contractor who lived in our community. But after decades of incessant marketing by huge corporations, many Americans now trust national brands more than their neighbors.

As small businesspeople and entrepreneurs, let’s help reverse that trend. After all, it’s in your own best interest to shop from local stores and patronize local service providers and contractors.

It’s a wise choice to buy from local, small businesses. Why?

Read more HERE

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

COMMITMENT TO AMERICA TAKES CENTER STAGE AS MANUFACTURING SECTOR GROWTH CONTINUES

ThomasNet.com's latest 2012 Industry Market Barometer® most notably shows continued growth and confidence among respondents in the manufacturing sector. Overall, this survey, with responses from 3,700 professionals, reveals an emergence of pride for the "Made in America" brand.

Companies are extremely committed to keep jobs at home where skilled labor is in demand, but also concernedly short of hands.

Read the full report and find out:

What's driving and sustaining business growth;

Where employment opportunities are and the challenges that surround hiring;

What are manufacturers’ key investment areas;

What can help change the image of American manufacturing;

And more!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remember the Customer’s Name

"Don’t you love when someone remembers your name? Make an effort to remember your customer’s name when working with them. They will appreciate your extra effort to make them feel important."

This site asks: What’s your trick to remembering your customer’s name?

Among the good ideas:
1. Stop telling yourself that you are bad at remembering names
2. Repeat their name 4-5 times during your first conversation
3. Use a mnemonic device to associate their name with something else
4. Practice

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ownership Characteristics of Classifiable U.S. Exporting Firms

This first-ever report describes findings from the merging of two Census Bureau data products, the 2007 Profile of U.S. Exporting Companies and the 2007 Survey of Business Owners. The merged data provide new insights on the ownership of U.S. exporting firms by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. Among other findings, the statistics show that exports accounted for 14.4 percent of total receipts of minority-owned exporters compared with 5.4 percent of total receipts for nonminority-owned exporters.

Friday, June 08, 2012

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grants

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is accepting applications from eligible building owners and leaseholders for financial incentives to improve the energy efficiency of new and substantially renovated buildings. The New Construction Program offers technical assistance to identify and evaluate energy-efficiency measures, capital financial incentives for installation of cost-effective electric measures and additional incentives for green buildings.

* Eligibility: Businesses, local governments, not-for-profits and private institutions, public and private schools, colleges and universities, multifamily buildings (seeking green building certification), and health care facilities. Eligible applicants are New York State electricity or firm gas distribution customers of a participating utility company and who pay into the System Benefits Charge.

* Funding: A total of $90,981,268 is available.

* Deadline: Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis from January 4, 2012 through December 31, 2015 or until funds are fully committed, whichever comes first.

* Contact: E. Stephen Finkle
esf@nyserda.org


Thursday, June 07, 2012

How NYS sales tax applies to charges for shipping and delivery

When a taxable product or service is sold, any charges for shipping or delivery that the seller includes on the bill become part of the receipt subject to sales tax.

If the product or service being sold is not taxable, any charge to the customer for shipping or delivery is also not taxable. This also applies when the customer gives the seller a valid resale certificate or other exemption document.

When taxable and nontaxable products or services are combined into a single charge on one bill, the entire bill is taxable, including any shipping or delivery charges.

When charges for taxable and nontaxable products or services are listed separately on a bill, sales tax is not collected on the nontaxable charges. However:
If only one charge for shipping or delivery is listed on the bill, the entire delivery charge is treated as part of the taxable portion of the bill.
If the charge for shipping or delivery is fairly allocated between the taxable and nontaxable products of the bill, then only the shipping or delivery charge allocated to the taxable products on the bill is taxable.

Sales tax is not imposed on transportation services. Therefore, if a delivery service is sold independently from the sale of the taxable property being transported, the charge for the delivery service is not taxable. For the sale of the delivery service to be independent of the sale of the property, the customer must have arranged for the transportation and the customer must be charged for the delivery on a separate invoice.

Read some examples HERE.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

3 Disastrous Hiring Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

From HERE:

Small business owners struggle with many issues, but one of the biggest challenges is finding help (even in a down economy) that is reliable and trustworthy.

In my experience working with successful entrepreneurs, problems in hiring nearly always come down to one common source which is both easy to identify and difficult to fix… it’s you!

Not to worry, it’s me as well.

Most owners are unprepared to be the manager and fall into the role suddenly when the business becomes too much to manage alone.

This pressure, combined with a lack of experience, can lead to disastrous hiring decisions.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Using the New American Fact Finder, v. 1.1

American FactFinder (AFF) is the Census Bureau’s primary dissemination tool for many Census Bureau Programs, including:
Decennial Census
American Community Survey
Population Estimates
Economic Census of the United States
Economic Census of the Island Areas
Survey of Business Owners
Commodity Flow Survey
County & ZIP Code Business Patterns
Nonemployer Statistics
Annual Survey of Manufacturers

These programs listed above account for more than 60 datasets and publish data for over 12 million different geographies.
To accommodate this large amount of data, AFF follows a topic based approach. You build a search by selecting keywords and filters from different search menus. As you add additional keywords and filters, the search results become limited to only the tables that meet the criteria. Once you have refined the search results to a suitable level, you can either download or view one or more tables. The table(s) will display the data selected.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Foreign-Born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics - 2011

The unemployment rate for the foreign born was 9.1 percent in 2011, down from 9.8 percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The jobless rate of the native born was 8.9 percent in 2011, compared with 9.6 percent in the prior year. The foreign born made up 15.9 percent of the labor force.

Data on nativity are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 households. The foreign born are persons who reside in the United States but who were born outside the country or one of its outlying areas to parents who were not U.S. citizens. The foreign born include legally-admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants. The survey data, however, do not separately identify the numbers of persons in these categories.

Friday, June 01, 2012

NYS SBDC Technology Company of the Year: Mary Carol Chruscicki & Pat Baskinger, AgileX


From the Mohawk Valley SBDC

Mary Carol (“MC”) Chruscicki and Pat Baskinger, became unemployed in the spring 2011 when the Northrop Grumman office in Rome closed. Rather than collect unemployment, they decided to open Agile-X, a business that provides very specialized services relating to hardware, software and communication systems. AgileX principal investigators are experienced leaders in the research and development of secure information and communication capabilities for airborne, maritime and ground platforms from concept through operational deployment in theater. AgileX experience and toolset enables the analysis of alternatives and the impact assessment of the technologies and architectures on mission effectiveness and mission assurance. The clients worked closely with Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome to develop mobile networking technology to equip planes deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. AgileX works closely with its partners to build quality components and systems for their Government and Commercial customers. In 2012, the clients started another division – Agile X Tactical – to focus on homeland defense products such as “smart targets”. Smart targets can be used over and over and wirelessly send the shooting results back to the shooter. The women also own Reindance Stables, which opened in 1991 and provides lessons, boarding and horseback riding training. Ms. Chruscicki was a major force in the development of the newly formed Cyber New York Alliance, a 501c) 6 not-for-profit corporation formed to create a partnership that will assure the legacy of cyber innovation and excellence. She serves as Executive Director of the organization. Government Contracting Coordinator Roxanne Mutchler assisted the clients registering on the CCR and ORCA and answered many procurement-related questions. The clients have attended many procurement events recommended by Roxanne. She also has provided higher-level guidance such as information on joint ventures/teaming, pre-award contract audits, government contracting accounting compliance, and recommendations for networking for Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) support. The result: Agile-Xhas a six-month contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) that started January 25, 2012 and another contract with a boat company in Florida. The clients submitted a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant request in January 2012 to the AFRL and should hear the results by June. The Cyber New York Alliance is going well with several high-level technology days held and the hiring of a three-star general as a consultant.

Picture courtesy of the Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY)