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.