Monday, June 30, 2014

BusinessUSA's State Resources Portal

JUST LAUNCHED! There is ONE website where you can find free government programs, grants, events and advisors near you!

BusinessUSA has just launched its newest website feature, the State Resources Portal. Together with the other local resource tools on the site, American businesses can find local resources, events, and business assistance centers in their state. Try it today!
Click the State button at the top of the Business.USA.gov Home Page.

You can also find local resources and events by using the Local Resource Finder on the home page of Business.USA.gov. Simply type your U.S. ZIP Code in the box shown and click GO.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Customer service Words of Wisdom

Collected by Kate Baker, advisor with the NY SBDC office in Albany

1. The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.
Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

2. Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Bill Gates

3. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
Charles Darwin

4. It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.
Henry Ford

5. Well done is better than well said.
Benjamin Franklin

6. Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.
Ross Perot

7. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
Mother Teresa

8. If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.
Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com

9. In the end, the customer doesn’t know, or care, if you are small or large as an organization. She or he only focuses on the garment hanging on the rail in the store.
Giorgio Armani

10. The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.
Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell Computers

Thursday, June 26, 2014

50 Best Cities for Employee Satisfaction

Where in the U.S. will you find the most satisfied employees? And what makes them so satisfied in their jobs? For job seekers looking to relocate or launch their career, Glassdoor has released its second annual Employment Satisfaction Report Card by City (2014), offering a comparison by city of overall employee satisfaction, number of employers hiring, business outlook expectations and more, according to local employees in the 50 largest U.S. metros.

Based on local employee feedback shared over the past 12 months, the San Francisco Bay Area takes the lead for the second year in a row, with San Jose, CA ranking #1 (3.5 employment satisfaction rating) and San Francisco, CA taking #2 (3.4). Both cities are home to several companies that won a 2014 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, honoring the 50 Best Places to Work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Everything your business does, is marketing!

From Jim's Marketing Blog:

Some business owners get it all wrong. They think that they can offer an average service, to average clients for average prices and use marketing to make average sound amazing. The challenge with that approach, is that it has never been harder to hide bad or average work.

A quick search on Google, Tripadvisor, Linkedin and Facebook, etc., allows your prospective clients to build a pretty good picture of your business and what your business stands for. For example, claiming to offer a professional service, yet operating behind a cheap website, littered with bad grammar, is a huge warning sign to prospective clients.

With the majority of people now checking service providers out online, before contacting them, this is a very big deal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BizStats: Free business statistics and financial ratios

BizStats is the home of free, accurate business statistics – well organized and easy to access.

Search for:
industry financial benchmark reports
industry profitability risk data
a selection of other useful industry statistics click here.
free financial calculators, financial tools for your web site or financial glossaries

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Do You Rank More Than 3,000 Franchise Brands?

From FORBES:

A best and worst of franchising list is tricky to put together. The methodology is just as important as the objective of the ranking. For the FORBES “best” and “worst” in franchising, FRANdata considered demand for the franchise brand, success of existing franchisees and franchisor support from the perspective of “lender friendliness”. This brings up another factor we reviewed, transparency and the average investment.

As important as these criteria are, they can also appear nebulous, and indeed some are difficult to measure. In fact, we used proxies. Starting with demand, FRANdata examined a brand’s growth rate over the 2008 to 2012 period. High growth rates may be impressive but they can be misleading. Fast growth can become unsustainable and mask underlying issues. Therefore, as a proxy for sustainable growth and existing franchisee success, we calculated the franchised unit continuity rate between 2008 and 2012

Friday, June 20, 2014

Massachusetts Passes The Highest State Minimum Wage In The Country

On Wednesday night, the Massachusetts House passed a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017. The Senate already passed that wage level, and after a procedural vote there it will head to Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who is expected to sign it into law...

An $11 wage is the highest passed by any state this year. Eight other states have increased their wages so far...

While some worry that higher minimum wages will hurt jobs or businesses, states that already had high wages haven’t had that experience. Washington, which has the highest current wage at $9.32 an hour, experienced the biggest increase in small business employment last year...

More from Think Progress.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories Released

The SBA Office of Advocacy has released Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories, an annual analysis of each state’s small business activities. In a new and improved format, the profiles feature information on small business employment, industry composition, small business borrowing, exporting, and survival rates, as well as business owner demographics. This annual publication provides information for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories and United States.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The High Cost of 'Free': Four Types of Free Offers and How to Calculate Their Cost to Marketers

From MarketingProfs:

Who doesn't like free?

When I worked at Columbia House, the music club company, our best offer was "Buy 1, Get 1 Free," not "2 for the Price of 1" or "Get 2 at half price."

Why did we use "Buy 1, Get 1 Free"? Because it was more enticing to our customers, even though it's the same as "2 for the price of 1" or "Get 2 at half price." We always used this offer. Because it worked! It was our base offer for retaining customers, to which we often added other deals.

We tested this offer over and over and it always yielded the best results in terms of customer lifetime value (CLV): i.e., the amount of revenue that a customer yields over time; minus the cost of product, fulfillment, and shipping; plus the cost to market to that customer. CLV also adjusts for the time value of money.

The reality is that free is never free for the marketer. There's always an expense that has to be paid, even if it's not paid by the customer. Moreover, that cost is often higher than marketer anticipates.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

SBA Adjusts Monetary Based Size Standards for Inflation

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an interim final rule that will adjust monetary based small business size standards (i.e., receipts, assets, net worth and income) for inflation to allow more small businesses to become eligible for SBA’s financial and federal government procurement assistance programs. The interim final rule was published in the Federal Register this week.

SBA is adjusting all industry specific monetary based size standards to reflect the inflation that has occurred since the last adjustment for inflation in 2008. These adjustments are in addition to the recent revisions made to the small business size standards as a result of the SBA’s comprehensive size standards review mandated by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

SBA is also adjusting its program specific monetary size standards with the exception of the new alternative size standard based on tangible net worth and net income that applies to SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs. This alternative standard was established under the Small Business Jobs Act and will remain in effect until the SBA establishes a permanent alternative size standard for these programs.
The interim final rule also clarifies that the size standard exception for “Leasing of Building Space to Federal Government by Owners” under footnote 9 in SBA’s table of size standards applies to all industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Industry Group 5311, Lessors of Real Estate.

These changes are effective July 14, 2014. SBA estimates that more than 8,400 additional businesses will gain small business status under the adjusted size standards and become eligible for SBA’s financial and federal government procurement programs. These changes can also possibly lead to more than $150 million to $200 million in additional federal contracts awarded to small businesses and 80 additional loans totaling about $30 million.

The public may submit comments on this interim final rule to: www.regulations.gov, identified by the following RIN number: (RIN 3245-AG60).

An SBA-issued White Paper entitled, “Size Standards Methodology,” which explains how SBA establishes, reviews and modifies its receipts-based and employee-based small business size standards, can be viewed at www.sba.gov/size.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Stats: stay-at-home moms

I received a request for the number of stay-at-home moms in a particular geography. Posting the inquiry to a listserv, here are some of the responses:

America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2007

Historical Changes in stay-at-Home Mothers: 1969 to 2009

What I REALLY wanted, though, was:
table B23007: PRESENCE OF OWN CHILDREN UNDER 18 YEARS BY FAMILY TYPE BY EMPLOYMENT STATUS. So it also has data for stay-at-home dads as well!

One can go to American FactFinder and find data for fair small geographies.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Have you mastered the art of listening?

From CBS News Moneywatch:

Many people in the business world take classes in the art of verbal communication: how to give a speech, make a presentation, chair a meeting. But the other half of the equation -- listening -- gets scant attention. At least until now. Sheryl Connelly, a futurist who works for Ford Motor Co., spends a lot of time talking and giving presentations. She's also a regular visitor to the TED conferences, where it is no surprise she likes to listen. And it was at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh this week where she talked about listening well.

The skills of listening, Connelly argues, are really life skills: treasuring the precious and always limited time that you have. Why waste it?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2012 ZIP Code Business Patterns

2012 ZIP Code Business Patterns provides data on the number of business establishments by employment-size class for detailed industries. Statistics are provided for about 40,000 ZIP codes nationwide.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Roadmap for Inner City Business Data Collection

Small businesses are significant job creators, particularly in distressed inner city neighborhoods. And yet, information on businesses, especially in inner cities is often incomplete.

ICIC’s recent study of the accuracy of business data in Boston discovered startling inconsistencies between public and commercial databases:
• 43% of businesses in a leading commercial database were not found in public city and state databases.
• A walking inventory of commercial districts in inner city Boston revealed that 30% of businesses in the commercial database did not exist, and new businesses were identified that were not included in the database.

Insufficient small business data creates barriers for cities to connect their small businesses with support resources. It also hinders the efficacy of private sector "buy-local" efforts.

To address this issue, ICIC developed a roadmap to help cities identify business information gaps and collect more comprehensive data on local businesses. The roadmap includes recommendations for building a business directory, finding the right partners and utilizing crowdsourcing.

Download A Roadmap for Inner City Business Data Collection


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Good non-profit info from The National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits is a trusted resource and advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits. Through its network of State Associations and 25,000-plus members – the nation’s largest network of nonprofits – it serves as a central coordinator and mobilizer to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country. It identifies emerging trends, share proven practices, and promote solutions that benefit charitable nonprofits and the communities they serve.

See more HERE.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Data Analysis in the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis

The Data Analysis team within the Office of Trade and Economic Analysis (OTEA), as part of the International Trade Administration, seeks to provide a solid foundation of trade and industry data to support the development of national trade policies.

The Office of Trade and Economic Analysis provides industry and policy decision makers with information on the impacts of economic and regulatory policies on U.S. manufacturing and services industries, as well as provides a solid foundation of trade and industry data to support the development of national trade policies.

OTEA performs in-depth industry analysis on the effects of both domestic and foreign policy developments on U.S. business competitiveness. Our core projects are benchmarking the environment facing U.S. industry, analyzing regulatory reform outcomes, issuing antitrust exemption certificates for export trading company mergers, and assessing foreign investments in the United States.

OTEA publishes research papers that analyze global competitiveness, employment, and the environment. OTEA also does research and analysis to support the National Export Initiative.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Report: Minority Entrepreneurs Must Jump More Hurdles

Hispanic Business:

Minority entrepreneurs who feel their road to success is more difficult than others may not be imagining things.

Sterling Bone, an assistant professor at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University, said research he has completed shows that entrepreneurs who are minorities face more obstacles to success and deal with the rejection they sometimes experience differently than their Caucasian counterparts.

Bone's conclusions were recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research, a top academic publication. He collaborated on the paper with Glenn L. Christensen, Garrett Research Fellow, and associate professor of marketing at the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, and Jerome D. Williams, the Prudential Chair in Business and research director of the Center of Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development at Rutgers University.

Their research included sending "mystery shoppers" to banks seeking information about loans. They also did in-depth interviews with 39 people who already own small businesses in the United States about their work and the obstacles they have faced. Their research included conducting an experiment that asked minority and nonminority consumers to apply for a loan and asked them how they felt about themselves before and then after they were rejected.

People often refer to this nation as a land of opportunity, Bone said, but the truth is the opportunities are very different for some people just because of their race.

Friday, June 06, 2014

D&B’s U.S. Economic Health Tracker

D&B delivers a monthly perspective on U.S. small business health, jobs growth and overall business growth. Read the U.S. Economic Health Tracker, and peruse the archive for previous reports and visit related videos and webinars for the latest trends. New updates are published the Tuesday prior to the first Friday of each month.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

5 Confusing Things About Business Credit Cards

From Credit Card Forum:

Before he got a credit card for his cellphone repair and parts wholesale business iPhillyfixit, founder Corey Bates used PayPal’s small business funding services. Unsatisfied with the delays in getting money, he got a credit card from Citizens Bank.

Getting a credit card for his business was a good move, Bates says, and a smart way to keep on top of his finances as his business grew from an eBay-based side gig he started in 2010 as a high school student to a venture that allowed him to quit his restaurant job, join forces with a new partner and open up a shop in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

In addition to letting him redeem reward points for cash back, helping him keep track of his businesses expenses and soothing tax headaches, the card gives him financing flexibility.

“If you do need to buy something and don’t have the money at the moment, you can buy it and pay it off within the month,” Bates says.
Indeed, business credit cards have much to offer small business owners. But the world of business credit can be confusing territory to navigate. Even those who are savvy about personal credit can be thrown for a loop by these five business credit surprises.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Small Business Advocate: May 2014

The May 2014 issue of The Small Business Advocate is a special conference edition that highlights the events from the Office of Advocacy’s Region VI Symposium which took place in New Orleans. The symposium brought together members of Advocacy with small business leaders and entrepreneurs from around Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas). The diverse participants shared their big ideas, best practices and barriers with Advocacy staff to take back to Washington, D.C. The newsletter includes details from presentations given by small business leaders, breakout sessions and site visits.

In This Issue

New Orleans Symposium Provides Valuable Lessons on Region VI Challenges and Successes
Idea Village Connects the Local Community with Entrepreneurs
Message from the Chief Counsel: The Gumbo of Entrepreneurship
Advocacy Staff Dialogues With Small Business Stakeholders in Breakout Sessions
Fostering Regional Innovation Accelerators
Understanding the Waterways of Southeast Louisiana
Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends: Small Business, Big Aspirations
Historic Theater Owners Share Concerns over Regulations
NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility Puts Its Vast Facility to Good Use


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Six Easy Metrics to Measure an Influence Marketing Campaign

From SmallBusinessNewz:

Measurement is one of social media’s key advantages over traditional marketing and advertising.

Prior to social media’s rise as an essential business solution, marketing campaigns were primarily through print, media including TV and radio, and direct mail. The use of flyers, posters, billboards and print editorials were the staple method of promotion, often complemented with radio spots or television ads.

The main problem with these methods is that it was difficult to pinpoint which ones were working and driving foot traffic to a brick and mortar store.

If a business sent 10,000 flyers out, how could they guarantee their intended recipients saw all 10,000?
Or if a radio spot played during a certain time of day based on that radio station’s demographics, how could the brand be sure a certain percentage of that audience heard and acted on that ad?
The answer to both questions is simple – they couldn’t. If there was increased foot traffic to a location or more calls to a call center for a company’s information pack, more often than not the source of that referral was virtually impossible to identify.

Social media changed that.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The National Ombudsman: Protecting Small Businesses and Promoting Government Accountability

Who is the National Ombudsman? 

The Office of the National Ombudsman assists small businesses facing unfair or excessive federal regulatory compliance or enforcement issues such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, and retaliation.
As an impartial liaison, the Office of the National Ombudsman directsreported regulatory fairness matters to the appropriate federal agency for high-level fairness review and works across government to address those concerns, reduce regulatory burdens, and help small businesses succeed.
Congress established the Office of the National Ombudsman in 1996 as part of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). The Act ensures that businesses, small government entities, and small nonprofit organizations have a means to comment if they experience unfair regulatory enforcement actions by federal agencies.

The National Ombudsman Can Help

  • If you’re a small business or represent one, a non-profit organization, or a small government entity (population 50,000 or less) – and –
  • If your comment or complaint directly involves a federal agency and federal regulation

How to File a Comment or Complaint with the National Ombudsman's Office