Monday, December 31, 2012

Mid-Hudson SBDC Advisors Offer Business Advice

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

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

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

From SmallBusinessNewz

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

End-of-Year Charity Giving Tips from the IRS

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

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

Find more year-end giving tips from the IRS.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to fix your company

Learn how to dramatically improve your business by determining which of these vital four factors is most in need of repair.

Friday, December 21, 2012

'Grunt Funds’ Are Trending in Startup Circles

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

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

More from Business Week.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Small Business Advocate - November/ December 2012

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

In This Issue:

2012 Accomplishments, 2013 Horizons

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

Reports Examine Small Business Retirement Preparation

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SBA Seeking Nominations for Small Business R&D Awards

The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking nominations for awards honoring the critical economic role small businesses play in federally funded research and development through SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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

The Tibbetts Awards are named after Roland Tibbetts, who was instrumental in developing SBIR, a highly competitive program to ensure small businesses get a chance to compete for federal research and development funding, along with the opportunities it provides to profit from commercialization of the technologies they develop.

The SBIR and STTR programs currently account for more than $2.5 billion per year in federal R&D funds and are coordinated by the SBA in cooperation with 11 other federal agencies with large external research and development budgets.
The awards are presented to companies and individuals that are beacons of promise and models of excellence in high technology.

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

Selections for Tibbetts Awards are based on several factors, including the economic impact of the technological innovation, overall business achievement and demonstration of effective collaborations.

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Far Reaching Implications of The Social Business Model

From SmallBusinessNewz:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

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

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


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





Friday, December 14, 2012

Facebook, Pinterest Trigger More Offline Actions Than Other Social Sites

From Marketing Profs:

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

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

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



Thursday, December 13, 2012

General Assessment of the Macroeconomic Situation

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

View the entire document.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advocacy Publishes New Retirement Research

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to disappoint potential customers

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

More HERE.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Deadlines Approaching for Sandy Recovery Loans

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

Read more.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Three Steps for Stopping Checkout Abandonment

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

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

Read more at MarketingProfs.com.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Starting a Business? Tax Department Publication Provides Critical Information

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

Connect with the Department on Twitter and YouTube.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

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

From SBA:

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

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

Take Advantage of 2012 “Section 179” Deduction Limits.

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

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

From the Census Bureau blog:

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

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

Monday, December 03, 2012

12 big lessons from 12 years in business

From MicheleShaeffer.com:

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

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

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

Saturday, December 01, 2012

John Skrobela: the NYS SBDC's Star Performer

From the Business Review:

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