Friday, December 30, 2016

324.3 million Americans, 7.36 billion in the world

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau projected the U.S. population will be 324,310,011 on Jan. 1, 2017. This represents an increase of 2,245,347, or 0.70 percent, from New Year’s Day 2016. Since Census Day (April 1) 2010, the population has grown by 15,564,473, or 5.04 percent.

In January 2017, the United States is expected to experience one birth every 8 seconds and one death every 11 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 33 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the U.S. population by one person every 16 seconds.

The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2017, is 7,362,350,168, an increase of 77,849,375, or 1.07 percent, from New Year’s Day 2016. During January 2017, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.

The Census Bureau’s U.S. and World Population Clock simulates real-time growth of the United States and world populations at www.census.gov/popclock.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Right Way to Think About Credit Lines for Business

From SBA:

Access to cash via a line of credit is an important safety net for a small business. Although there are various types of credit lines available, it is the flexibility it provides that makes it so popular among small business owners.

A line of credit is more like cash on demand for a set amount. You can draw funds up to the credit limit set when your company needs it, and you only pay interest on the funds you withdraw. Best of all, every dollar of principle you pay back becomes available for the company to use again.

The important thing to remember is credit lines for businesses have received an overhaul in the past several years. No longer is a credit line being issued just by banks down the road. Today, there are completely different lines of credit issued to businesses from alternative lenders rather than by banks alone. In addition, small business owners can also get credit lines secured by specific types of collateral such as equipment and accounts receivables.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Workers' Compensation - Resources for Employers

Go here to get information provided by the New York State Workers' Compensation Board to give businesses quick and direct access to workers' compensation information. It is not intended to serve as an endorsement of the State Insurance Fund or any other insurance carrier.

This includes:

The Players in the System
Who Is and Is Not
Covered by the Law
Who Is An Employee?
Who Is an Independent Contractor?
Business Permits - Licenses - Contracts
Out-of-State Employers Working in NYS
Employers'
Rights and Responsibilities
Complying with the Law
Obtaining Insurance
Penalties for Not Having Insurance
Understanding Insurance
When an Accident Happens
Return to Work
Construction Employment Payroll Limitation
Workplace Safety
State Insurance Fund Information

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

W2 Filing Information

From the Social Security Administration:

The new tax filing deadline for both paper and electronic W-2s is now January 31st. Don’t wait until the last minute. Start filing early since Business Services Online (BSO) experiences delays when there is a high volume, especially at the end of the month.

Specifications for Filing Forms W-2 and W-2c Electronically (EFW2/EFW2C)

Dates to Remember

December 12, 2016 - BSO is available for accepting Tax Year 2016, prior year files, and W-2 Online inputs.
January 1, 2017 - Update payroll systems to reflect the 2017 wage base rates. Visit 2017 Cola Factsheet
January 31, 2017 -Deadline for filing paper and electronic W-2s, AND Deadline for providing W-2s to employees.

Use AccuWage to Test Your Wage Reports before Filing with Social Security

AccuWage is Social Security's free service that allows you to test your wage reports before you upload them to Social Security. AccuWage reads the file and informs you of any formatting errors it detects. This year, SSA is offering an online version of AccuWage that comes with the wage-reporting roll for all registered BSO users. For those without a BSO account, the downloadable version is available.

Knowing what errors exists, and fixing them before you submit your file, can save time and eliminate the need for W-2Cs/W-3Cs.

Get Ready Now for the Upcoming Filing Season

Avoid the rush by checking your access and updating your password now in preparation for the upcoming filing season. Visit User Reminders for registration maintenance information.

If you need to call Social Security with registration or wage reporting questions, call now to avoid the busy January timeframe. You can call us at 1-800-772-6270 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Monday, December 26, 2016

4,836 fatal work injuries in the United States during 2015

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

A total of 4,836 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2015, a slight increase from the 4,821 fatal injuries reported in 2014. There were 2,054 fatal work injuries involving transportation incidents, an increase from the previous year.

Within the transportation category, roadway incidents increased in 2015. Roadway incidents accounted for 26 percent of all fatal work injuries. Almost half of these fatalities involved some kind of tractor-trailer truck. Fatal injuries involving pedestrians were lower in 2015, as were rail and water vehicle incidents.

There were 800 work fatalities due to falls, slips or trips in 2015. Falls to a lower level accounted for 81 percent of all fatal falls.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The 2016 Holiday Season

This festive season, or simply the holidays, is a time for gathering and celebrating with family and friends, gift giving, reflection and thanks. To commemorate this time of year, the U.S. Census Bureau presents the following holiday-related facts and figures from its collection of statistics.         
Rush to the Stores
$23.8 billion
The estimated retail sales by the nation’s department stores (including leased departments) in December 2015. A decrease of $0.4 billion in retail sales from December of the previous year. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey
Note: Leased departments are separately owned businesses operated as departments or concessions of other service establishments or of retail businesses, such as a separately owned shoeshine parlor in a barbershop, or a beauty shop in a department store. Also, retail sales and inventory estimates have not been adjusted to account for seasonal or pricing variations.
14.3%
The estimated percentage of total 2015 sales for department stores (including leased departments) in December. For bookstores, the estimated percentage was 12.4 percent. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade Survey

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What not to do when an employee leaves

From BizJournal:

The unexpected resignation of a valued staffer can feel like a gut punch.

Even as you’re reading her resignation letter, your head is filling with questions. What about that upcoming deadline? Who’ll take over her projects? What about her clients? How am I going to explain this to my boss?

They’re all worth careful consideration, but as you ponder your options, there’s one you can reject immediately...

While it’s tempting to focus on averting a departure, your best approach is to vow to never be surprised by an employee’s resignation again. That means asking questions focused on the people who remain and learning what job satisfaction means to them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Better Business Bureau info about YOUR business, even if you're not a member

A gentleman from the Better Business Bureau gave an online talk to NY SBDC advisers about how BBB will get businesses in their database if ther business applies to do so, even if the business is NOT a BBB member.

The obvious advantage is greater visibility. So if your business gets an A rating from BBB, it'll be listed on the BBB site right below the members who get an A.

For folks in the Metropolitan New York, Long Island, and the Mid-Hudson Region, go to http://www.bbb.org/new-york-city, hover over FOR BUSINESS, click on Update Your Business Information, then click on the like-named picture.

For folks in the Albany, Buffalo, Rochester & Syracuse regions, go to http://www.bbb.org/upstate-new-york/, then click on Update Business Information.

Also, check out the Non-Accredited Business Resources.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

10 books by women, for women (and maybe for some men, too)

From Biz Journals:

'Tis the season for year-end lists. With that in mind, here's one you can read — about reading.

It's a selection of books that have been published in the past year that caught our eye. They're books published by women authors and with women readers in mind, but perhaps for a male audience as well.

The list features TV personalities and accomplished academics among the authors. Their efforts got people talking about their work and perspectives over the past 12 months.

So, if you're looking for a book to read in the holiday weeks ahead — or, perhaps as a last-minute gift? — here are 10 titles you might want to check out.

1. “How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life” by Caroline Webb

Monday, December 19, 2016

UNdata - a data access system to UN databases

The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched an internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.

Users are often unaware of the full array of statistical information that the UN system has in its data libraries. UNdata addresses pools major UN databases and those of several international into one single internet environment. The innovative design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search.

Useful features like Country Profiles, Advanced Search and Glossaries are also provided to aid research. The numerous databases, tables and glossaries containing over 60 million data points cover a wide range of themes including Agriculture, Crime, Education, Employment, Energy, Environment, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Development, Industry, Information and Communication Technology, National Accounts, Population, Refugees, Tourism, Trade, as well as the Millennium Development Goals indicators. Whilst this initial version of UNdata is fully equipped with all the functionalities for data access, the development team is continuously adding new databases and features to further enhance the usefulness to users. When fully developed, UNdata will have a comprehensive array of international and national databases providing the world instant access to a wealth of statistical information.

UNdata is the brainchild of UNSD, the statistical arm of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the coordinator of statistical activities throughout the UN System. UNSD's core mission is to advance the development of the global statistical system and promote the dissemination of statistical information. This database service is part of a project launched by UNSD in 2005, called "Statistics as a Public Good", whose objectives are to provide free access to global statistics, to educate users about the importance of statistics for evidence-based policy and decision-making and to assist National Statistical Offices of Member Countries to strengthen their data dissemination capabilities. The project is implemented in partnership with Statistics Sweden and the Gapminder Foundation with partial financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Retail Marketers Can Stay Relevant in the Age of Amazon

From Marketing Profs:

To many retailers today, Amazon.com seems unstoppable. The website that ate retail has overtaken a fellow titan, Wal-Mart, as the second-largest seller of consumer electronics, and it has category No. 1 Best Buy in its sights.

As retail witnesses the shuttering of former retail heavyweights, including Sports Authority and Sports Chalet, and the slimming of long-term players, including Macy's, Walgreens, and the Gap, smaller retailers are often left wondering whether there is, in fact, a path to success when you don't have millions to spend on marketing.

Here's the key: An underdog doesn't win by beating a giant at its own game, but by outwitting, outmaneuvering, and out-strategizing it.

Offering hope to retail are the stories of nimble retailers, including Ulta, TJ Maxx, and H&M, which are continuing to grow and open new stores year after year. Those successes prove that although midmarket retailers might not be able to compete with Amazon on price or inventory, they can compete—and win—by harnessing the power of their data and getting creative.

Here are five ways midmarket retail can stay nimble in the face of the Amazon giant.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Online Learning: Bookkeeping

Some are barely more than a minute. Some take an hour or more. While some are highly technical, others are very user-friendly. There are talking heads; they are graphic intensive.

We're talking about learning about bookkeeping online. Even if one delegates the day-to-day task to someone else, every entrepreneur needs to understand the basics about the financials of the business.

Enter YouTube, which has about 66,000 videos that help businessperson with bookkeeping and accounting. Peruse at your leisure to see which ones resonate the most with you.

I DO need to mention Introduction to Accounting from SBA.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top 4 Crowdsourced Logo Design Sites for Small Businesses

From Bplans:

Your logo is the key to your small business brand. Whether you are setting up shop or rebranding, designing your logo is just as important as getting things right on other aspects of your business.

However, that doesn’t mean you have an unlimited budget. With today’s logo design crowdsourcing services, you still have lots of options for good small business logo design.

Many startups and small businesses turn to the web for crowdsourcing their logos, so let’s start with a basic understanding of what crowdsourcing is in this context: Crowdsourcing is using the internet to obtain services by approaching an online community.

A good rule of thumb is this: The designer’s work is only as good as the information and direction you give them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How Consumers Feel About Marketing Emails

From Marketing Profs

Only 15% of Americans say the emails they receive from marketers are frequently or always useful, according to recent research from Fluent.

The report was based on data from a survey of 1,900 consumers age 18 and older who live in the United States.

Some 7% of respondents say the marketing emails they receive are always useful, and 8% say they are frequently useful.

In addition, 29% of respondents say marketing emails are sometimes useful, 33% say they are rarely useful, and 24% say they are never useful.

Younger respondents, those age 18-29, find marketing emails more useful in general than do older respondents (age 30+).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Four Steps to Turn Your Idea Into a Business

From The Simple Dollar:


What was the last great business idea you had? Do you remember it? What did you do with it? Did you write it down?

If you’re like most people, you had a great idea, never wrote it down, told a couple of co-workers or your spouse, and let the idea fade away without taking any meaningful action to pursue it. Or maybe you were worried about other people stealing your idea, so you kept it to yourself thinking you’ll pursue it later. But for most of us, that someday never comes.

Maybe you even went as far as laying out your idea into a business plan.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or someone who has been eyeing a startup or side project to generate some additional income, good ideas often come and go like the seasons in the Midwest.

But what if they didn’t? What if you actually took steps to pursue your ideas and see if they were good?

According to sales expert and personal development guru Brian Tracy, “The average person has four ideas a year, which if any one is acted on, would make them a millionaire.”

Today’s post is going to give you a step-by-step guide to validate your business idea and potentially turn it into a revenue-generating business.

Friday, December 09, 2016

7 Year-End Tax Tips for Small Business

From The Balance:

The end of the calendar year means a lot of things for small businesses. It's time to start thinking about what you want to achieve next year and work on your formal goal setting process. Your are probably in the midst of holiday shopping for your employees, vendors, clients and colleagues. And, of course, it's time to start closing out your books for this calendar year.

In fact, right now is the time to check-in with your accountant to see if there is anything you should be doing to make sure your business ends the year fiscally healthy.

A few small changes can make a big difference in your total income and tax liability for the year.

To get you started, here are a few important year-end tax preparation steps you can take in order to close out the year financially and take advantage of additional deductions.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

From Bplans:

Emotional Intelligence, also known as EI, is the ability to control personal emotions under extreme duress, as well as the ability to empathize and understand the emotions of others.

Studies were first being done on EI in the workplace in 1998. Now, almost 20 years later, it is gaining traction as one of the most important traits for an employee to have...

The reason?

Employees, managers, and company leaders all benefit from a high EI. They are more likely to communicate their needs, understand each other’s preferences, and feel welcome and engaged at the office.

Emotional intelligence is not just “wearing your heart on your sleeve,” but adjusting your behavior to make everyone feel comfortable and confident. When effectively integrated into business, EI is shown to increase profits by over 34 percent for some businesses, and increase employee positivity by nearly 58 percent.

The question then arises: How can a business hire for emotional intelligence?

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

How to Use Scenarios to Achieve Marketing Agility

From Marketing Profs:


Agile companies want to be able to rapidly adjust on all fronts, including Marketing. Companies are interested in marketing that's agile because they believe it will help them deploy the right elements of the marketing mix at the right time to influence the specific outcome they want to achieve.

Scenarios to Facilitate Agility

Scenarios are postulated sequences of events or other developments. Creating scenarios helps you consider a range of possible outcomes and drivers of change. Accordingly, scenarios are a powerful tool for understanding potential situations and then developing appropriate strategies for each of those situations.

In short, scenarios help you anticipate. They help you ask better questions and prepare for the unexpected. They increase your readiness—thus setting the stage for agility. And scenario analysis is an essential part of creating agility.

Creating scenarios that will be useful in helping to make marketing agile requires data and timing information. Therefore, you need answers to the following types of questions...

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Pay Attention to Your Supply Chain

From Entrepreneur:

At the mid-market level, many decision makers believe they lack time and resources and so must prioritize certain aspects of the business over others. Often, the supply chain is not seen important enough to merit scarce resources. However, having a supply chain strategy is equally important for midsize companies as it is for enterprise-level firms.

The most important aspect of a robust supply chain strategy is that it meets the current and future needs of the customer. Customers are more sophisticated and demanding than ever, and understanding them—will inform your long-term supply chain strategy. Talking to them directly is the best way to find out what they need.

Technology can help provide end-to-end visibility across all supply chain channels, and it can speed up process steps. But it’s crucial that mid-market businesses don’t just adopt the latest technology just for its own sake. A solid supply chain strategy will place the customer’s needs front and center when it comes to establishing the need for new technology, and determining the correct solution.

Unlike some other business processes, the supply chain is subject to many external forces. Mid-market businesses can prepare for potential disruptions by being knowledgeable about the latest trends in the supply chain, and analyzing in advance how their business will be affected by a multitude of different event types. Disruption can be deeply damaging—and potentially for a long time to come—from lost customers, to lower revenues, even to loss of brand value.

Besides, choose the critical new supply chain capabilities and prioritize them into a project plan that delivers those goals at a rate of spend your company can afford.

Monday, December 05, 2016

50 Things You'll Need to Do to Start Your Own Business

From NOLO


Thinking about starting a business? You're not alone. Every year, thousands of Americans catch the entrepreneurial spirit, launching small businesses to sell their products or services. Some businesses thrive; many fail. The more you know about starting a business, the more power you have to form an organization that develops into a lasting source of income and satisfaction.

Learn how to evaluate and develop your business idea; decide on a legal structure for your business; choose a name for your business; and much more.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Internet of Things

From IoT 2016:

The rapid advancement and ubiquitous penetration of mobile network, web based information creation and sharing, and software defined networking technology have been enabling sensing, predicting and controlling of physical world with information technology. Every business process can be empowered, and therefore, various industries redesign their business models and processes along Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm. To maximize the social and economic benefit of the technology, issues of interoperability, mashing up data, developing open platforms and standardization across technology layers have to be addressed.

From Business Insider:

Many industry experts and excited consumers have pegged The Internet of Things (IoT) as the next Industrial Revolution or the Next Internet. Because it will be the future of the way businesses, governments, and consumers interact with the physical world.

From Forbes:

IoT is centered on the idea that there is a tremendous amount of sensor data that could be used to run value chains more effectively. Within demand management, however, there are already huge amounts of data that too few consumer goods and food & beverage companies fully leverage – Point of Sale (POS) data.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How Big is Your Potential Market, Really?

From: Bplans



Whether you’re a startup or an up-and-running business, you should know what your total potential market opportunity is for your products or services.

Assisting many companies over the years, as well as judged several business plan competitions, and it's surprising how most business owners can’t confidently tell you their total market potential. They say things like, “My market is everyone who eats dessert,” or, “Everyone in my community who drives a car,” or, “Anyone in the world who uses social networks.”

You may think these are your markets, but you need to drill-down and get more realistic and specific about the true size of your market, or lenders and investors will question your credibility.

That leads us to TAM —Total Addressable Market. When looking at TAM, you need to know how to calculate it, what it’s used for, and why it’s important—but all three numbers can be helpful to reference while you’re writing your business plan.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SaaS and Subscription Businesses: A List of Top Resources

From Bplans:

Bplans loves SaaS (or “software as a service”). It also loves SaaS businesses, subscription businesses, and the subscription business model in general. So, the company has made an effort to create resources to help you learn more about what running a SaaS or subscription business actually entails, and give you the tools to start and run one successfully.

Here, you’ll find all of the best SaaS and subscription business resources, starting with a detailed definition of a SaaS business (so if you’re still unsure what it actually means, don’t worry—it's covered), all the way through how to grow your SaaS or subscription business, and inspiration from some truly bizarre subscription products out there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Request a Waiver of the One-Year-in-Business Requirement for NYS MWBE Certification

If you are a company that may qualify for a waiver of the one year in business requirement (typically licensed professionals going into business for themselves who can meet all the qualifications, are generating revenue, etc, but haven't been in business for a full year), here are updated guidelines from the ESD Certification Help Desk on how to make that request and what's required as support documentation:

A one year waiver for a business entity requires the following documentation before it can be forwarded to the Executive Director for final approval:

1. A letter requesting the one year waiver for the business entity in question to the NYS ESD Division of Minority and Woman Business Development explaining the services or products you provided leading up to the start of your new company;

2. The majority owner(s) current resume(s) typically listing training, and dates of employment history with brief explanation of role and responsibilities;

3. If applicable, any relevant license or certification or training that indicates your training and experience in the field or industry that your new business occupies or may require;

4. Proof of revenue generated by your new business entity. This simply means that you must have been able to sell your products or services and have received payment for those services under the auspice of your new company. There is no limit to the dollar amount of activity; only that you have been able to sell your services as this company.

Monday, November 28, 2016

SBA Increases Surety Bond Guarantees to 90 Percent

The Small Business Administration increased its guarantee percentage for bonds issued in the Preferred Surety Bond Program from no more than 70 percent to no more than 90 percent, per Public Law 114-92 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016.

SBA guarantees will be 90 percent if the original contract is $100,000 or less, or if the bond is issued on behalf of a small business owned and controlled by socially or economically disadvantaged individuals, veterans, service disabled veterans, or qualified HUBZone and 8(a) businesses. In all other cases, the guarantee will be 80 percent.

The increase will be effective Nov. 25, 2016. The new guarantee limits will expand bonding opportunities for many small businesses. For more information about the Surety Bonds Guarantees Program, please visit https://www.sba.gov/surety-bonds .

Friday, November 25, 2016

Our aging workforce

From the US Department of Labor:

It’s a fact: our workforce is aging. By 2024, nearly 1 in 4 people in the labor force are projected to be age 55 or over.

This is a big change from 1994, when people ages 55 and older represented only 11.9 percent of the labor force – a share smaller than those held by other age groups: 16-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54. But by 2024, their projected share will be the largest among these age groups.

There are two reasons for this trend. The first is an aging population: baby boomers − those born from 1946 to 1964 − are moving into older age groups. By 2024, the youngest will be 59 years old.

The second reason is an increasing labor force participation rate among older workers. Research shows many older people are remaining in the labor force longer than those from previous generations. According to one study, about 60 percent of older workers with a “career job” retire and move to a “bridge job”; that is, a short-term and/or part-time position. Another study found that about half of retirees followed nontraditional paths of retirement in that they did not exit the labor force permanently.

The big question is why: Why are older workers choosing to remain in the labor force?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Business Wizard license center option: "Contact us!"

Looking for assistance for a specific type of business NOT showing up in the very useful Business Wizard license center website?

There is a "contact us" link on the license center website, on the page where all of the drop-down menus are for the type of business. One of our NY SBDC has called often and has found the representative to be very helpful in helping to determine how to categorize certain business entity types. Sometimes it ends up being in more than one category.

For instance, our advisor had a taxidermy business, which does not show up as a choice. After several calls, the representative found the one person in the state who knew about the one law that applied to taxidermy!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies 2016

From Fast Company:

Our axiom when we set out to build our list of the World's Most Innovative Companies has always been that whatever challenges may be buffeting business--political uncertainty, market instability, international unrest--there are always pockets of extraordinary achievement.

We partnered with data-analysis outfit Quid to help us identify a broader pool of candidates; that breadth reinforced our conviction that a new wave of business practices is increasingly taking hold across the world.

And we were inspired by what we found.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Small Business Saturday - THIS WEEK!

From: SmallBusiness.com




Small Business Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. In 2016, Small Business Saturday will be November 26. The day is intended to encourage American shoppers to consider small retailers and merchants as they think of their holiday shopping.



It comes as an answer to the Friday after the U.S. Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday of November) called Black Friday and the following Monday called Cyber Monday. Both of those days have come to be associated with discounts and promotions at large retail chains and ecommerce businesses.



Small Business Saturday is a promotional effort intended to encourage consumers to support local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Small Businesses Can Do Well By Doing Good

From: Forbes



Being a small business has its advantages. For example, it is generally easier for small or mid-sized companies to embrace social causes than it is for big companies.Interestingly, many of these socially-minded small businesses are finding that “doing good” also helps their bottom line



SaraBella was designed with a social agenda in mind. The underlying premise was that it was possible to change the fly fishing industry while simultaneously making a difference in the local community. The results have been astonishing.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Reality Checks Before Starting Your Own Business

From Forbes


I have a certain friend who called me a while back, all excited about his latest revelation. “What if you could go to a web site and find all the recipes you could make today, with just the ingredients you already have in your kitchen? I’m going to start a website to offer this service!”

I’m sure you all realize that there could be quite a distance between a great idea and a great startup. But many people don’t have a clue on how to bridge the gap. So, trying carefully not to rain on his parade, I suggested to my friend that he complete the following analysis as due diligence on the idea before spending his life savings (and others) to roll out a solution:

I’m sure that many of you could add additional “idea due diligence” items, from bitter experience... By the way, if team experience and resources are the only limitation, it is better to give your idea away to a qualified group, rather than selfishly sit on it, or run it and yourself into the ground trying to make it work. Nobody wins with that approach.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New York SBDC Receives National Accreditation from Association of Small Business Development Centers

Albany – SUNY Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright today announced that the New York Small Business Development Center (NY SBDC) has earned full accreditation from the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), a national accrediting body for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The NY SBDC also received accreditation for its specialized Technology Services, one of only 15 programs in the country to earn this supplemental technology accreditation. The NY SBDC provides expert management and technical assistance to start-up and existing small businesses across the state.

The NY SBDC is administered by State University of New York and funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of New York, and host campuses. Since its start in 1984, the NY SBDC has worked directly with 427,740 businesses, helping them to invest $5,870,293,418 in the state's economy. They, in turn, have created or saved 188,301 jobs. “National accreditation demonstrates that SUNY’s program upholds the highest of quality standards and services,” said SUNY Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Alexander Cartwright. “My congratulations to State Director Jim King and the SBDC network on being recognized for their ongoing support of the economic well-being of our critically important entrepreneurial and small business sectors.”

The SBDC Accreditation Committee reviewed all areas of New York’s program, including leadership, organizational management, strategic planning, client and stakeholder focus, service delivery, and program performance. Their high standards ensure that the public investment in the program from the federal government, the state government, and the host institutions results in strong returns for New York’s economy. This is the sixth time the NY SBDC program has been awarded accreditation or the predecessor certification. Notably, in this year’s accreditation report, the NY SBDC received four commendations highlighting best practices:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Women Business Owners – Find the Help You Need to Start Up and Grow

From SBA:

There’s no doubt about it, women are a rising force in American entrepreneurship. Here are some fast facts on women-owned businesses:
•The latest Census data indicates that 7.8 million U.S. businesses are owned by women. This represents a stunning 44% increase from 1997-2007, twice the growth rate of men-owned businesses.
•Women-owned firms now make up close to a third (29%) of all nonfarm businesses across the country.
•These firms generate a total of $1.2 trillion annually and employ 7.6 million people.


Clearly, women-owned firms are not in the minority. Neither are they a small niche market, but they are a major force in the U.S. economy.

Monday, November 14, 2016

How President-Elect Trump's Immigration Plan Would Impact Employers & Entrepreneurs

Visa PitStop

As November 9th, here’s what we do know in terms of where Trump stands on immigration that would significantly impact U.S. employers and foreign entrepreneurs based on his August 31, 2016 10-Point Speech on Immigration.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement entered into by Canada, Mexico and the U.S., in 1994, a new professional visa category (TN visa) was created to enable Canadians and Mexicans to enter the U.S. and fulfill certain occupational work here. The Agreements allows for any party to withdraw under Article 2205, by providing written notice six months in advance to all parties.

Trump wants to impose new requirements for all immigration-related visas, particular for the H-1B, by requiring employers to first test the labor market by 1) attempting to fill any open positions with U.S. workers first before hiring foreign workers and 2) by requiring employers to pay a certain prevailing wage level.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Veteran's Manufacturing Story

Taken from ThomasNet:

Over the next five years, one million service men and women will transition out of the military and into civilian life. So this Veterans Day, we should not only thank veterans for their service and dedication; we should also show our appreciation by making their transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

Seventy-one years ago, Richard McCarthy was in the middle of such a transition. After serving in the Pacific during World War II, the 21-year-old veteran headed back home to Pennsylvania, eager to start the next phase of his life. He not only did that; he started a career, a business, and a legacy for his family.

In 1941, Richard was a high school senior with a budding interest in machining. In fact, he recently started serving as a machinist’s apprentice in a railroad company. However, on December 7 of that year, Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the United States was drawn into World War II.

Ten months later, just weeks after graduating and celebrating his eighteenth birthday, Richard was drafted into the military.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Role of Mobile in Holiday Shopping

From MarketingProfs:

Some 90% of consumers say they value having a mobile device with them when holiday shopping in-store, according to recent research from Opera Mediaworks.

The report was based on data from a survey of 800 consumers in the United States who use mobile devices.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents say they use a mobile device to check competitors' prices when holiday shopping in a store, 36% say they look up product reviews, and 30% say they sign up for store promotions/discounts.

Some 40% of respondents say they have made a purchase because of a mobile advertisement, and 57% say they would do so if an offer were relevant.

Check out the infographic for more findings from the report.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

How Millennial Business Leaders Are Changing SMB Marketing

From Marketing Profs:

Millennial small and midsize business (SMB) leaders are more likely than Baby Boomer SMB leaders to spend their marketing budgets on digital channels, such as social media and video, according to recent research from Magisto.

The report was based on data from a survey of 218 Millennial (age 28-29) SMB owners/leaders and 275 Baby Boomer (age 60+) SMB owners/leaders.

Millennial respondents spend more than half (58%) of their marketing budgets on digital channels, on average.

Baby Boomers spend only 14% of their marketing budgets on digital channels, on average.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

FTC Offers Advice on How to Avoid and Respond to Ransomware Attacks

Following its September workshop on Ransomware – malicious software that denies access to computer files until the victim pays a ransom – the Federal Trade Commission is offering tips on how consumers and businesses can protect devices and respond to ransomware.

The FTC offers How to defend against ransomware to help consumers. Businesses can find guidance in Ransomware – A closer look and the accompanying video, Defend against Ransomware.

From Ransomware - A closer look:
Ransomware is a form of malicious software that infiltrates computer systems or networks and uses tools like encryption to deny access or hold data “hostage” until the victim pays a ransom, frequently demanding payment in Bitcoin. In the typical case, the criminals demand between $500 to $1,000, but some have demanded as much as $30,000.

Panelists described a wide variety of ransomware variants. For instance, some hackers will delete the victim’s files if payment isn’t made within a specified period of time, and many newer variants use highly advanced methods of encryption. Ransomware can be incredibly profitable to criminals, many of whom now have the resources to hire professional developers to build increasingly sophisticated malware.

Ransomware incidents have skyrocketed in the past year

Monday, November 07, 2016

Empire State Purchasing Group has a new site

The Empire State Purchasing Group has updated its website. The original URL (empirestatebidsystem.com) will now take you to http://www.bidnetdirect.com/new-york, where your old vendor login and password should still work.

"All participating local government purchasing departments invite vendors to register for exclusive access to RFPs, bids and awards on the bid system. Registered vendors benefit from more bid information in a central location, less paperwork and an easier method of doing business with New York local governments."

Creating a new vendor account to be able to access bid information is simplified. It lets the user poke around and see what our clients see.

To create a free account, simply DO NOT SELECT a paid program and hit NEXT. It will sign you up for the free account. You'll need to renew your subscription every six months, but it's free. The site now includes a search functionality for bids that should create more ease of use when trying to find a bid.

However, our SBDC procurement advisors have noted that the interface can be a bit wonky, making you think you might have to pay for information you may not have to. So if you have any questions, contact your local NY SBDC and ask for assistance.


Friday, November 04, 2016

Fundamentals of Lean Business Planning

From SBA:

Every business owner should be aware of lean business planning. It’s a perfect compromise between the old-fashioned formal business plan that is too big and static, and the kind of small steps and analysis that is the watchword of lean manufacturing and lean startups.

It’s all about taking small steps and evaluating results often. And planning, for real businesses, isn’t about the big plan; it’s about the management it causes.

Why would you, as a business owner, care about planning? I hope that’s an obvious answer, related to focus, priorities, and getting things done. Planning, done right, is about managing your business better. Set expectations, track results, and manage the difference between what you expected and what happened.

You know you can’t do everything.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

DBE Application “Tripwires”

Have you ever heard of DBE and DMWBD?


DBE stands for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. The DBE program is designed to remedy ongoing discrimination and the continuing effects of past discrimination in federally-assisted highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance transportation contracting markets nationwide. The primary remedial goal and objective of the DBE program is to level the playing field by providing small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals a fair opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts.


DMWBD is the abbreviation of the Department of Minority and Women's Business Development.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

How to Prepare for a Trade Show and Justify Your Budget

You’re back in the office after the show. You’ve thanked everyone, collected all the leads–and even collected more leads this year. The show was a success!

As you prepare next year’s budget and you think about why it was a success, and why your budget should be increased (or not decreased), you’re forced to justify your participation in each show and simply increasing leads isn’t enough.


So what’s next? Prepare in advance for budget justifications. SBA provides 4 steps to guide you prepare your budget justifications. See part 1 and part 2.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Industry Classifications in Different Countries

You have probably known NAICS, the North American Industry Classification System, which was developed as the standard for use by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, analysis, and publication of statistical data related to the business economy of the U.S.



With NAICS we can classify and search a specific industry very conveniently and accurately. However, there is no central government agency with the role of assigning, monitoring, or approving NAICS codes for establishments. NAICS Codes are self-assigned based on the establishment’s primary activity. Besides NAICS, there are lots of industry classifications in the world using by different countries. And there are also some similarities and differences between them.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tax Preparation for 2017

From Watson CPA Group:


Starting and running a small business can be very challenging, but very exciting. Probably more of a pain in the butt, yet most business owners start a company to do something they love. That passion can be a great motivator, but it can also be a detractor. Proper tax preparation and planning, recordkeeping of your small business tax deductions and money handling is a must. This is just the operational stuff- you also have to consider entity structure, exit strategies, risk mitigation, retirement planning and all that hoopla.
From Quickbooks:

Managing your business finances does not have to be eat-your-spinach drudgery. The key, of course, is to create a realistic plan with a budget, record your transactions correctly, review your results regularly and always keep good records. Your comfort level with the three basic financial reports that evaluate your fiscal health is also essential: the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement.

LWS says that small business should start thinking about next year's taxes. By getting an early start now and making sure you’re doing things properly, you can make your life a lot easier come January 2017.






Friday, October 28, 2016

Smart Steps to Sustainability 2.0

From Smart Steps Greening Guide:

As a small business, there are many opportunities to partner or benefit from EPA sustainability programs, tools and research. Whether your business is in need of reducing its energy, water and resource use or needs to better understand what green products are available for purchase, EPA can provide your small business with assistance in reaching your sustainability goals. Consider joining into a voluntary partnership with EPA.


ENERGY STAR’s Small Business Network, which lists more than 12,000 small businesses, throughout the country, who have committed to improving their energy efficiency with ENERGY STAR. These leaders recognize that saving energy is not only good for the environment, it’s good for their bottom line. The small businesses that have joined this network are varied in size and in industry. Everything from an auto collision repair shop in Dover, Tennessee to a home improvement firm in Oxford, Massachusetts are proud to carry the ENERGY STAR promotional mark to show their customers and clients that they are committed to saving energy. EnergyStar Workbook for Small Business has excellent guidance for a variety of small business types.
Want to green your business but need financial assistance to help get you there? There are federal and state grant and loan programs that might be just the right “green incentive” to get you on your path towards sustainability. Here are a few listings to help you find the right program for you.

SBA ‘s Listing of Environmental Grants and Loans provides small businesses find financial resources to pay for energy efficient upgrades, for innovative environmental products and technologies and to support environmentally friendly business.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency provides source information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency throughout the United States.

Also see other sustainable plans in Business.










Thursday, October 27, 2016

Social Media Advertising for Small Businesses

From Business 2 Community:

You’ve raised capital, built a website, and opened the doors to your small business — now what? Raising awareness for your business and promoting it are essential for ensuring your success and thankfully that task is now easier than ever. With an estimated 78% of Americans now on social media these sites and apps have become go-tos for entrepreneurs looking to engage with customers and potential customers alike.


However today it’s no longer enough to just be on social media. Recent changes made to how these platforms display content have been detrimental to small businesses — even those with large fanbases and followings. That’s why small business owners should seriously consider advertising on these networks in addition to their typical posting. Not only have many of the top social networks made it easy for entrepreneurs to target the right users and consumers for relatively little money but new opportunities for businesses to promote themselves are also developing all the time. For all these reasons and more social media advertising is now a must for any small business.
From Quickbooks: In 2016, mobile phone users are doing more than checking email and Twitter accounts. On the contrary, a recent Google study (PDF) reveals that 82% of smartphone owners have used their phones to check competitor prices before making purchases in stores. Moreover, a third of users wound up buying from a brand other than the one they planned based on the results of these searches.

Clearly, mobile is having a significant impact on customer buying behavior, and companies that don’t take advantage of this trend are missing out on plenty of potential sales.

You can also find some social media advertising tactics in Hiveage.








Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Trend of Business Migration

From Washington Post:

Census population data show that suburban America is, once again, outgrowing central cities. Even exurban counties, those beyond suburban areas, are gaining population faster than urban ones, for the second year in a row. And the growth that the densest places in the country have enjoyed since the housing bust is actually slowing down.

See The Business Journals:

After taking a hit during the recession, the suburban office market’s comeback is well underway — and businesses of all sizes are starting to take notice.

Although there’s no shortage of available space in the suburbs — the national vacancy rate for suburban office properties was 15.1 percent in the second quarter of 2015, versus 10.6 percent for buildings downtown, according to CBRE — demand is on the rise. A total of 13.3 million square feet of suburban space was absorbed last quarter, more than double the quarterly average of 6 million square feet since 2010, allowing office landlords to push rents as vacancy continues to fall.

This article also tells us some specific factors small business owners should take into account when they make trade-off between choosing cities and suburbs.

Article from The New York Times also analyzes this trend:

For decades, many of the nation’s biggest companies staked their futures far from the fraying downtowns of aging East Coast and Midwestern cities. One after another, they decamped for sprawling campuses in the suburbs and exurbs. Now, corporate America is moving in the other direction.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Accreditation Review 2016

In August a review team from the America’s SBDC Accreditation Committee visited the Central Office and Regional Centers across New York State. The review team was led by Katie Sewell, Idaho SBDC State Director. The other team members were Arizona SBDC State Director Janice Washington, Kansas SBDC State Director Greg Panichello, and Georgia SBDC Associate State Director Beth Melnik (who also serves as the Chair of the Accreditation Committee).

The team was in New York for a week, beginning with a review of the Central Office in Albany. The reviewers were then escorted by NY SBDC senior staff to the Albany Regional Center and departed to conduct separate tours of Regional Centers in the northern, western, central and eastern, and greater NYC and Long Island regions of the state. Reviewers met with Regional Center staff, Advisory Board members, SBA District (3) officials, and representatives of NY SBDC partners and allies. Three of the reviewers were accompanied by observers from SBDC programs (TX, NC and MD) who wanted to observe and train on the accreditation process. Upon returning to Albany the reviewers related a summary report of findings on the NY SBDC program, based on their observations and a written report was provided following Accreditation Committee review and approval.

Accreditation is critical for SBDCs and essential for the national SBDC program to be recognized as a consistent provider of high quality business education and advising resulting in credible economic impact. Accreditation qualifies each SBDC to apply for federal (SBA) funds, administered by the Office of Small Business Development Centers. 

Based on the review team’s on-site review, final written report and presentation by the accreditation review team to the full Committee, the Accreditation Committee at its meeting in September voted to accept the recommendation of the review team to fully accredit the New York Small Business Development Center Network, without conditions. The NY SBDC also applied for and earned the specialized Technology and Commercialization Accreditation, also without conditions. The SBA’s oversight division, the Office of SBDCs, concurred with the Committee’s findings. National Accreditation is a five year acknowledgement that will expire on December 31, 2021. The SBDC Accreditation process is based on continuous improvement and the National Baldridge Standards of excellence in service. This helps ensure that every SBDC program is continually undergoing self-analysis and growth in a dynamic improvement effort to fully meet the needs of America’s small business and entrepreneurial sectors.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Healthcare plans for small business

From Healthcare Trends Institute:


Entrepreneurs and small businesses may still be looking at first quarter results and getting a feel for how their year will go. But that’s not the only thing they should be considering at this point, they need to start thinking about health insurance and not wait until the fall.
Open enrollment always has a way of creeping up fast and taking the time to reconsider your health plan or consider offering health insurance for your group should be explored now.

From AWANE:

Health insurance continues to consume a large portion of a business' money and often payroll is the only expense that tops it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in March 2016, health insurance benefits cost small businesses (with less than 50 employees) an extra $1.61 for every hour worked by an employee. Multiply that by a 40 hour work week, and that comes out to almost $65 a week, $260 a month or over $3,000 a year, per employee.

In other words, health insurance costs small businesses a lot of money, and businesses more than ever need to gain a clear understanding of the issues driving costs and how best to manage them. So when small businesses consider healthcare plan for 2017, they should take more factors into consideration.








Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Things You Should Know Before Your Company Go Public

From People's United Bank:


Your business is growing, but not as quickly as it could and you know it. You need capital to fuel expansion - to move into new markets, hire more staff, increase service and product offerings and grow more profitable with ever-expanding margins.


Instead of borrowing expansion capital, maybe it's time to consider going public - selling ownership shares of your business to the public.


But going public isn't as easy as simply offering stock to outside investors. Your business needs a solid track record of profitability, increasing revenues and reasonable margins in a healthy, growing industry or market sector. Investors want to see a strong management team, a vibrant corporate culture, a sound business infrastructure and growth potential. Lots of growth potential!

 
From Investopedia:


An initial public offering (IPO) is the first sale of stock by a company. Small companies looking to further the growth of their company often use an IPO as a way to generate the capital needed to expand. Although further expansion is a benefit to the company, there are both advantages and disadvantages that arise when a company goes public.


There are many advantages for a company going public. As said earlier, the financial benefit in the form of raising capital is the most distinct advantage. Capital can be used to fund research and development, fund capital expenditure or even used to pay off existing debt. Another advantage is an increased public awareness of the company because IPOs often generate publicity by making their products known to a new group of potential customers.










Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to Issue Bonds for Small Business

From wikiHow:


Corporate bonds are a financial tool that a corporation uses to raise funding. They are an alternative to acquiring loans from a bank or issuing shares of stock. Corporations use the money from bond sales to finance a variety of improvements, like business growth, new factories, or new equipment. When an investor buys a corporate bond, he is essentially buying an IOU from the corporation that is to be paid back after a pre-determined time (the maturity date).



The bond will also typically pay coupon payments, which are interest-based payments made to the bondholder at regular intervals (usually semi-annually). Corporations usually enlist the help of investment banks, which function as underwriters, to organize the creation, marketing, and sale of the bonds.

 
From Chron, which also tells you how to issue bonds :


Issuing bonds lets your corporation remain privately owned while you raise money to grow your business. You can sidestep most Securities and Exchange Commission regulations by issuing your bonds as a private placement, which lets you sell your bonds directly to investors by following your state’s procedures. Before you can sell your corporate bonds, you must provide information about your bond issue to state regulators. You need to calculate the size of your bond issue and the interest rate before filing the required state documents.


Before issuing bonds, there are some things you probably want to know. Articles from Investopedia may help you with this.








Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ways Small Businesses Can Benefit from The Sharing Economy

From Go Digital:


Consumer interest in the “sharing economy,” a popular term that’s been loosely defined as an economic ecosystem built around the sharing (renting) of assets, is exploding.


Along with consumers, an increasing number of rising companies and small business owners are finding that they, too, can benefit from collaborative consumption. From big-name companies, such as Airbnb and Uber, to smaller marketplaces like DogVacay, Getaround, and LiquidSpace, businesses increasing in popularity and local merchants are exploring new ways to get in on the action.

 
According to a 2014 report by Nielsen, the consumer peer-to-peer rental market is now worth an estimated $26 billion. Sixty-eight percent of global consumers say they’re willing to share their own assets, and 66 percent say they’re willing to seek shares from others. Businesses are generating extra revenue by renting their own unused assets to consumers, and many are working with other merchants. By taking advantage of peer-to-peer marketplaces on their own terms, small business owners are finding that they can capitalize on the collaborative consumption trend to gain access to the products and services they need to grow their companies.

Monday, October 17, 2016

101 Small Business Ideas to Inspire You to Start a Business

From The Balance:

If you are looking for a small business idea to kickstart your path to entrepreneurship, you are in the right place. This list of 101 small business ideas includes everything from personal services, to retail opportunities, to environmental services, to pet-related ideas, to technology businesses. Use this list to identify the business idea that is perfect for your situation.

It's time to take the next step, and evaluate the business ideas that made it to the top of your list. Doing this research at the beginning of the process is vital to avoid wasting time and money on a business idea that flops.