Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Charting a Pathway to a Technology-Accessible Workplace

From the US Department of Labor blog:


Someone recently asked me to name the one thing I couldn’t live without at work. My answer? Technology. I couldn’t do my job – or live my life – as effectively as I do now without information and communication technology (ICT).
4E8A6089Considering that I’m blind, this answer is sometimes met with surprise. Some people don’t realize that individuals with disabilities also rely on technology – as long as it’s accessible – to perform daily tasks. I certainly do. I use a screen reader to relay the information on my computer screen, a Braille note-taking device and a smartphone with built-in accessibility features. To say that I’d be lost without these innovations is an understatement.
Technology is paramount for all of us – whether we have disability or not – and this is particularly true in the workplace. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Which of these 3 types of small business owner are you?


For millions of small business owners worldwide, it's decision time. Pretty much every business owner will want to do better in 2015, however, their decisions regarding how to improve things will differ massively.

They will fit into one of the following 3 broad groups. Do any of these seem familiar to you?

1. Fear focused business owners


More from SmallBusinessNewz

Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Ways to Build Trust in a Business

The most valuable business commodity is trust. Richard Branson, author and founder of Virgin Group says, “Building trust in your brand isn't easy to achieve and it may take time, but it doesn't have to come at a high cost. With honesty, ambition, hard work and attention to detail you can instill a level of trust that will enable you to move forward.”

The fact is that integrity impacts all aspects of business and is among, if not the most important character trait for a company to have. It is the barometer by which your customers, lenders, potential business partners and employees evaluate you and your business. Trust in a business speaks volumes on how a company services and communicates with its customers.

A trustworthy business can be defined many different ways depending upon the person, business, or organization reviewing it.

More from Small Business Administration.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fatal occupational injuries by day of week and month, 1992–2011

During the 20-year period from 1992 to 2011, the majority (83 percent) of all fatal occupational injuries occurred during the traditional workweek, Monday through Friday. A total of 80,645 workers were fatally injured during the day (7 a.m. to 6:59 p.m.) from 1992 to 2011. Another 26,631 were fatally injured during the night and evening hours (7 p.m. to 6:59 a.m.). For 7,815 cases, time of incident was unknown.

From 1992 to 2011, July had the highest number of fatal occupational injuries (11,168), and the fewest number of injuries occurred in February (8,008). Just over a quarter of workers (28 percent, or 32,795) were fatally injured during the summer months of June, July, and August. In comparison, the winter months of December, January, and February totaled 25,380 fatal injuries (22 percent).

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Trashing electronics becomes illegal in New York

If Santa brings you a shiny new laptop, game console or flat-screen TV, don't toss the old one in the trash. Starting Jan. 1, the final phase of New York's 2010 electronics recycling law takes effect, making it illegal for consumers to throw so-called "e-waste" in the garbage. Violators can be fined $100.

Read More at WRBG-TV


Recycling Your Electronic Waste

Disposal Ban: Beginning January 1, 2015, consumers may no longer dispose of certain types of electronic equipment in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, in the trash, or at curbside for trash pickup. Use the recycling options described below.

Two Ways to Recycle Your Electronic Waste

Option 1: Use a Manufacturer's Takeback Program

  1. Go to DEC's list of electronic equipment manufacturers registered in NYS, to find manufacturers, their brands electronic equipment covered by the law, and their electronic waste acceptance program websites and toll-free telephone numbers.
  2. Follow the specific instructions listed on the manufacturer's website or provided over the telephone. The manufacturer is required to provide information on how to recycle your equipment, free of charge.

Friday, December 26, 2014

5 Local Search Tactics You Must Employ Today

Search is pretty much everything these days.

Even businesses that rely on people in their town, coming into their place of business to complete a transaction, are held to the fact that, increasingly, most buying decisions start out with an online search.

The category of local search engine optimization has picked up steam over the last few years as search behavior combined with the rapid growth of smart phone use created a truly mobile search consumer. Services like Yext have cropped up just to help tackle this very specific form of SEO.

Below are five local search tactics that demand your attention today if you are a local oriented business.

Get the NAP right

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone and the search engines obviously want to make sure that when someone is looking for a local business there’s no ambiguity around what and where the business is.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

November-December Issue of The Small Business Advocate Newsletter

The Office of Advocacy has released the November-December issue of The Small Business Advocate newsletter. This edition features a recent trip to the Denver Biz Tech Expo where Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant was the keynote speaker. Also covered is Region III Advocate Ngozi Bell's recent visit to West Virginia for the Women and Technology Conference. In addition, Assistant Chief Counsel Kevin Bromberg received an award from the EPA recognizing him for his work with the agency on underground storage tanks. We also look at two recently-released economic studies and several regulatory matters.

In This Issue

Startup Accelerators Show Promise in Addressing Public Policy Goals
Advocacy Comments on DOJ Movie Theater Rules
Comments to EPA on Petroleum Refinery Rules
Energy Efficiency Standards for Ice Makers Addressed
Regulatory Alert on Proposed IRS Rules
Report Studies Financial Health of Veterans

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Flip Your Media Plan: From Old-School Marketing to Digital in Three Steps

Changes are coming, actually more quickly than they have in decades. Healthcare reform, the rise of healthcare consumerism, and just the general agreement among some very talented marketers that it's time to make important shifts in strategy and resources are all in play.

For healthcare, as well as other changing industries, it's time to rethink marketing—and that starts with flipping our media plans on their heads.

Until we perfect that mind-meld with all our target audiences, there is no better strategy than investing in digital marketing and making it the foundation of our media plans.


Read more at MarketingProfs

Six Tips to Boost Customer Service During the Holidays

It may be a little late to implement these tips into your work force for the holiday, but these tips can go beyond the holiday season. Fist thing’s first management and top level employees should constantly be setting examples to motivate your work force. Secondly managing your staff will always be critical to success no matter what season. 

Following your work force the best way to create loyal customers is to exceed perceived expectations. Impress a new or returning customer and you can count on them passing on their satisfaction. Continuing with satisfaction, everyone enjoys to be rewarded, whether it’s through their pay check or an up lifting comment to brighten their day. And finally analyzing your progress throughout the year is the only to make sure you are preforming efficiently as a team.

From Business Week

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why the Internet's Most Valuable Commodity Is First-Party Data

Most consumers already know the websites they visit collect their data, so when they get personalized offers and content, they're not surprised. Consumers also are increasingly aware of the distinction between first-party and third-party data and that some companies collect third-party data and resell profiles of personal information to willing buyers.

Third-party data aggregation is under attack, which presents an opportunity and incentive for digital marketers to favor first-party data to build a more strategic and personalized marketing strategy.

The more you know about the way your customers engage with your digital properties, the better you can align what you're selling with what customers are interested in. Though third-party data can be useful in the marketing process, a skilled and nuanced first-party data strategy is a more reliable and respectful way to deliver offers with a higher likelihood of engagement and conversion.


Read more at Marketing Profs

Monday, December 22, 2014

SBA Loans Explained – A 101 for Small Business Owners

First, let’s dispel a myth – SBA doesn't make direct loans to entrepreneurs to start or grow a business. Instead, it provides a guarantee to banks and lenders for the money they lend to small businesses owners. This guarantee protects the lenders interests by promising to pay a portion of the loan back if the business owner defaults on the loan. So when a business applies for an SBA loan, it is actually applying for a commercial loan through a bank or authorized SBA lender, structured according to SBA requirements with an SBA guarantee.

Essentially, SBA loans alleviate the risk associated with lending money to business owners and entrepreneurs who may not qualify for traditional loans – thus opening up lending opportunities to thousands of entrepreneurs, start-ups, growing businesses, minorities and veterans. Read more about SBA’s role in the process.

There are several types of loans that business can take advantage of, each developed to suit the needs of your business.

More from the Small Business Administration.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jurisdictions where US has income tax or other bilateral agreement re: bank deposit interest reporting

Revenue Procedure 2014-64 provides an updated list of jurisdictions with which the United States has in effect an income tax or other convention or bilateral agreement relating to the exchange of information for purposes of the bank deposit interest reporting requirements under §§1.6049-4(b)(5) and 1.6049-8(a), as well as jurisdictions with which the IRS and Treasury have determined the automatic exchange of such information is appropriate.

Revenue Procedure 2014-64 will be inIRB 2014-53, dated December 29, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Office of Advocacy Releases Small Business Lending Report

The Office of Advocacy has released its annual report on small business lending. Small Business Lending in the United States, 2013 describes trends in the small business lending market in general. It also provides data on more than 6,000 U.S. lenders, showing the emphasis on small business lending in their portfolios.
The report covers the time period June 2012 to June 2013 using Call Report data from the FDIC, and supplements this with Community Reinvestment Act data from 2012. During this period, small business lending improved, but at a slower pace than large business lending. Soon afterward, small business lending entered positive territory. A data update is provided to cover these trends, extending into the first quarter of 2014.
The report and research summary are available on Advocacy’s webpage, athttps://www.sba.gov/advocacy/small-business-lending-united-states-2013.

Friday, December 19, 2014

All the Statistics You Never Knew You Needed

Have you ever wondered what the average sales price of an item at a garage sale is?  Or maybe what percentage of homes have a a security system?  Maybe you have been looking for statistics on Angel Invsestors?  Well, this is the site for you!!!!

According to Statistic Brain, they are group of passionate numbers people, who love numbers, their purity, and what they represent.  Statistic brain compiles the data but is clear that they do not analyze the data.  Here is a look at their most popular searches, or go to Statistic Brain to search for statistics about what matters to you and your business.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Average annual expenditures on gifts of goods and services in 2013

In 2013, gifts of goods and services accounted for 2 percent of total consumer spending. Among these gifts, consumers spent the largest share on education (25 percent). Most education gifts were for college tuition.

Nineteen percent of gift spending was for housing-related items in 2013. Among housing-related items, the largest share was for housing while attending school.

Eighteen percent of gift spending went toward apparel and services. Consumers spent 7 percent on apparel and services for women and girls age 2 and older, compared with 5 percent for men and boys age 2 and older.

These data come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York makes decision on fracking

The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting oil from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.
That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall in many places around the country, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.

READ MORE from the New York Times

READ the related Albany Business Review story

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses

Learn how to protect your business information online. This self-paced training covers the importance of securing information, the kind of information to secure, types of cyber threats and tips for guarding against online hackers and breaches.

Take the 30-minute course from the Small Business Administration HERE.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How to Use Internet Memes to Market Your Content, Your Products, and Your Brand

The Internet has gone visual. With the world moving at the speed of a tweet, getting your message out there can be tough—especially if you're only using words.

Studies show that our brains are more efficient at processing images than words. Some 75% of Americans have used emoji to communicate to others. Virtual corkboard site Pinterest has 53 million unique monthly users. Even Facebook is leaning hard into the image game, as evidenced by its recent $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, which has 300 million users itself.

Images overlaid with text—often called Internet memes—are a popular way for brands to reach their audiences. Ride that popularity wave by creating your own marketing images for distribution. As your followers and fans share the images, your products, your logo, and your brand spread to people you may not have reached otherwise.



Read more from Marketing Profs

Monday, December 15, 2014

Everything You Need to Know (Taxwise) About Year-End Bonuses

If your business can afford it and you want to reward employees, year-end cash bonuses may be the way to go. In providing this additional compensation, understand what it means from a tax perspective.

Bonuses are treated like other pay

They are subject to income tax withholding, FICA, and FUTA taxes in the same manner as regular pay. In figuring the cost of a bonus to you, factor in employment taxes. For example, if an employee earning $65,000 is given a $5,000 year-end bonus, the cost of that bonus to you is $5,382.50 ($5,000 + $382.50 employer share of FICA tax).

When withholding income taxes on the bonus (called “supplemental pay” by the IRS), there are several options.

More from the Small Business Administration

Friday, December 12, 2014

Does a College Degree Have Value for Entrepreneurs?

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics.

In a recent conversation that has been condensed and edited, Mr. Fine, who is 21 and attends the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, talked about how he got started in entrepreneurship and why he decided not to complete his application for a Thiel Fellowship, which rewards students who leave school to start companies.

More from the New York Times.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why Millennials Engage With Brands on Social Media

Some 84% of Millennials say they like companies on Facebook as a way to show their support for the brand, according to recent research conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, and Ava Lescault, MBA, at The Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Other common reasons for liking brands on Facebook include wanting to receive updates (83% of respondents) and a desire to get coupons/discounts (66%).


Read more from MarketingProfs

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wages of retail salespersons, by state; explore employment and wage data for more than 800 occupations

In May 2013, almost 4.5 million people in the United States were employed as retail salespersons. Nationally, retail salespersons earned an annual mean wage of $25,370. The annual median wage for retail salespersons was $21,140. Among the states, retail salespersons in Washington had the highest annual mean wage of $28,920. Alaska had the highest annual median wage for retail salespersons, at $24,030.

On average, retail salespersons in West Virginia earned the least in May 2013, at $22,920. The median wage for retail salespersons in West Virginia was $19,450.

These data come from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. For maps exploring employment and wage data for more than 800 occupations, see the OES interactive map changer tool. A percentile wage divides the workers in an occupation into two groups: those earning less, and those earning more. For example, a 10th percentile wage indicates that 10 percent of workers earn less than the stated amount, and 90 percent earn more.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Content Marketing: The Leftovers Trick

In the wake of Thanksgiving, no doubt we all lived on leftovers. I, for one, could lunch on turkey sandwiches and snack on pumpkin pie slivers for weeks...

Few meals take as long to prepare as Thanksgiving dinner, so it's a good thing all that food doesn't go to waste. And it struck me this Thanksgiving that marketers could take a lesson from turkey gumbo—what I call the "leftover trick":

After you put all that work into creating that whitepaper, for example, think about what else you can make out of the asset.
Can your marketing team make a meal out of that webinar on social media?
How many weeks of "content slivers" could you eke out of a new survey?
Here are five simple ideas to get you started, all of them so easy you can even do them in a somnolent state induced by too much tryptophan in your system:


Read more from MarketingProfs

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Employment Situation – November 2014

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 6.9 million, changed little in November. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In November, 2.1 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They
were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 698,000 discouraged workers in November, little different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.4
million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Student Debt Among Young Entrepreneurs

The Office of Advocacy has released an informative fact sheet entitled "Student Debt Among Young Entrepreneurs." This publication examines how student debt is affecting self-employment trends among younger individuals. The report finds that student debt is rising and is having a negative effect on the rate of self-employment. It also looks at other characteristics of individuals with student debt.

Find the full fact sheet here.

Friday, December 05, 2014

New Year’s Predictions: 6 Trends That Will Impact Small Businesses in 2015

What does the New Year have in store for small business owners? We asked a few pundits to predict the trends that may affect your small business in 2015.

Small Business Impact: “Being a company that ‘does good’ for its employees, customers and community is a smart and effective focal point, I think that in this era of social media, a company that is solely a bottom-line entity will lose good employees, good customers and goodwill. While some of the ‘too big to fail’ companies may withstand this type of negative public opinion for some time, small businesses do not have the reserves to pivot and rebuild their reputations.

Staples

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Get discovered: Two SEO Tips to Get Your Small Business Website Found

Like a prehistoric masterpiece scratched into the far recesses of an undiscovered cave, it doesn’t matter how awe-inspiring your website is if nobody can find it. Search engines are the archeologists of the digital landscape. An estimated 90 percent of consumers searching for local businesses online use search engines like Google® Bing® and Yahoo® to find them. If you want your business website to get discovered, you need to tap into the power of search.

Just about every website owner today understands the basic concept of search engine optimization (SEO): taking steps to attract the attention of search engines in order to drive traffic to your site. Search Engine Land defines SEO as “the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial,’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” The paid ads you often see at the top of search results don’t figure in.

You’ve likely already taken the fundamental steps to improve your SEO. Your website brims with unique and compelling content. You use relevant keywords all over the place. You optimize title tags and other metadata. You covet backlinks.

But there’s always more SEO-related work you can do to draw visitors to your website. Here are two big SEO tips:

More from ASBDC.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Holidays Are Here! Where Are Affluents Shopping?

Who wants to push their way through crowded stores (let alone find a parking spot) during the holiday season? Based on an August 2014 study by Shullman Research Center, affluents are trying to avoid this. Among US internet users with a household income of $75,000 or more, online-only stores such as Amazon.com and eBay were the shopping venues of choice, cited by 71%.

However, affluents won’t shun brick-and-mortar shops completely. The majority planned to head to discount stores to save a few dollars, and 53% said they would also visit mainstream department stores, likely so they can check off gifts for a wide range of people all at once.

Still, while in-store holiday shopping certainly isn’t dead among affluents, results from September 2014 polling by Time Inc. and YouGov support Shullman’s finding that online may beat out brick-and-mortar this year.

See more at: eMarketer

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Marketing Tips for 2015

We may have barely crossed into the second half of 2014, but if you want to have a big year in 2015, you should jump on your game plan now. As you lay the foundation of your 2015 marketing strategy, here are five marketing trends to give you a jumpstart on your big projects for the rest of this year and next:
Five Marketing Tips for 2015

Monday, December 01, 2014

Challenges with Crowdfunding

It seems that almost every day, there's another startup proudly announcing that it has reached its crowdfunding goal. With so many success stories out there, it's easy for other aspiring entrepreneurs to believe that sites like Kickstarter are their golden ticket to launching a business. But the reality is, crowdfunding isn't always as simple as it seems.

"New entrepreneurs often believe that crowdfunding their venture or project is an easy endeavor," said Sang Lee, founder and CEO of Return on Change. "However, it requires much groundwork as well as a strong support network to truly make it a success. As they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch."

Crowdfunding Challenges