Showing posts from June, 2016

Five Local SEO Tips for Small Business Owners

From MarketingProfs:

Search engines keep getting smarter, but that doesn't mean SEO is no longer necessary. Your business will lose out to competitors if you're not working to keep it in the public eye.

Although all SEO hinges on great content and a responsive website, local SEO has its own practices and requirements that influence how you rank locally. There are literally hundreds of local SEO ranking factors to consider, but what I've detailed here are five of the most important.

1. Create a targeted landing page for each location

Small Business Success Story -GKIDS Inc

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Manhattan SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Eric Beckman
Manhattan SBDCGKIDS is the distributor of top-caliber, award-winning animated films from around the world. Founded in 2006 by Eric Beckman, past releases include many award winners and Eric is a founder of the New York International Children’s Film Festival. The company has scored four Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations – the most for an independent distributor – with The Secret of Kells in 2010, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita in 2012, and Ernest & Celestine in 2014. 
As his business grew, Eric found that many NYC banks were unable to understand his industry and financing needs. GKIDS purchases rights upfront and receives the revenue in future periods. The revenue stream was fairly consistent and predictable but banks were unwilling to open their minds to …

Telemarketing Sales Rule Now Prohibits Certain Payment Methods

From the FTC:

The Federal Trade Commission wants businesses to know about important Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) amendments that are now in effect. These changes make it unlawful for telemarketers to use three types of payment methods exploited by con artists and scammers.
As of this month, it is illegal for telemarketers to ask consumers to pay for goods or services using cash-to-cash money transfers, such as MoneyGram and Western Union provide, or by providing PIN numbers from cash reload cards such as MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload or Reloadit packs. It also is illegal for telemarketers to use unsigned checks called “remotely created payment orders” to withdraw money directly from consumers’ bank accounts.
As detailed in a press release issued in November 2015, the FTC finalized the payment method bans amendments to the TSR late last year. Business guidance about the new bans is available. New guidance warns consumers that any telemarketer requesting payment using these methods is a scamm…

Employers and Providers: Electronically File Information Returns with IRS by June 30

Self-insured employers, applicable large employers and health coverage providers are reminded that the June 30 deadline to electronically file information returns with the IRS is approaching.
The deadline to provide information returns to employees or responsible individuals was March 31. While the deadline to file paper information returns with the IRS was May 31, electronic filers have more time. This chart provides a reminder about the upcoming filing requirement and the June 30, 2016, deadline.
Action Electronic Filing Due Dates in 2016 for… Applicable Large Employers – Including Those That Are Self-Insured Self-insured Employers That Are Not Applicable Large Employers Coverage Providers – Other Than Self-Insured Applicable Large Employers* Electronically File 1094-B and 1095-B with the IRS Not Applicable ** June 30* June 30* Electronically File 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS June 30*

Out and Down: Mapping The Impact Of Brexit

From The Economist:
Leaving the EU would trigger a recession and set real GDP back by 6% by 2020. This is one of the key findings from the latest report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Out and down: Mapping the impact of Brexit. The report, which explores a post-Brexit landscape and its impact on key industrial sectors, suggests that the impact on specific UK industries would vary by sector and would be largely negative—although some sectors will find themselves more insulated than others.

Other findings include:

The uncertainty caused by a “Leave” vote would upset consumer and market sentiment, causing a 14-15% devaluation of the pound against the US dollar.
Delayed investment and spending decisions would hit real GDP growth most in 2017.
Weaker trade ties would exacerbate this decline from 2018 onwards, therefore, in real terms the UK economy would be 6%—or £106bn—worse off in 2020.
Pharmaceutical exports, access to medicines and research grants could all be at risk. Any…

What Happens to High-Growth Firms?


Because they focus on attracting mature firms through relocation incentives, job creation strategies at the state level are often misguided, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Despite this, many metropolitan regions are increasingly focusing their efforts on attracting and retaining the high-growth firms responsible for an oversized share of job growth and economic output. While considerable research has focused on the important role that startups and high-growth firms play in the national economy, relatively little has been done to apply a regional lens to this phenomenon. New research, tracks high-growth firms over a multiple-year period to assess how their changing operations can inform regional economic development.

In The Role of Entrepreneurship in U.S. Job Creation and Economic Dynamism, researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Census Bureau assess the importance of startups and young firms as contributors to job creation and pro…

Small Business Success Story -Cornerstone Restaurant

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Rockland SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Barbara Nochturft and Andrea D’Andrea
Cornerstone Restaurant
Rockland SBDC
The Cornerstone Restaurant in Congers opened in September 1994 when owners Barbara Nochturft and Andrea D’Andrea, who had previously worked together, decided to start a venture on their own. Since 1994, the pair has served clientele savory and healthy breakfast and lunch options, and looked forward to growing the business. When Super Storm Sandy hit, an extended power outage forced the Cornerstone to close, caused extensive inventory losses, and derailed their growth plans. 
Further complicating the restaurant’s recovery was the inability of suppliers to deliver fresh inventory as soon as the storm passed because many roads were still inaccessible. With true entrepreneurial spirit, Barbara and Andrea never quit. They con…

FTC Action Halts Phony OSHA Scam that Targets New Small Businesses

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a Florida man and his company with bilking at least $1.3 million from newly-opened small businesses by pretending to be a federal government agency, and threatening that the business will be shut down or fined unless they purchase occupational safety and other government regulation posters for their premises.

At the FTC’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted the operation. The agency seeks to permanently stop the alleged illegal practices and obtain refunds for the victimized businesses.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants call business owners, pretending to be the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or some other agency. Using names that sound like government agencies, such as “Occupational Safety and Compliance Administration,” “US Corporate Compliance Office” and “Occupational Compliance and Safety Administration,” defendants tell the businesses that they are not complying with federal law and that the gover…

What Does it Really Take?

So you want to/maintain a business? And now you know why you aspire to achieve these goals. The next enivetiable question is-How do I make this happen?

Small Business Judo: Using Size to Your Advantage

From AIER:

The common narrative about small business usually goes in one of two directions. First, many predict doom for “mom and pop” firms in America, arguing small businesses must be protected from giants like Walmart, who can charge lower prices.

The second narrative focuses on the benefits these businesses bring to our economy and communities, stressing the need for consumers to “support” small and local business. Notably gigantic firm American Express, for example, sponsors Small Business Saturday every December, encouraging people to “rally their communities” to shop at local stores.

In reality, small businesses are profit-driven entities in our capitalist economy. While regulatory protection and goodwill from consumers may help on the margin, what small businesses need are working strategies to offer the market something of significant or unique value.

SEED Program Now Accepting Applicants in the Albany Area

From the Albany SBDC:

Does your business need financing, but the bank will not fund your venture?

Do you or someone you know have a great idea for a business, but no capital to get things started?

Are you looking to expand your business, but lack the necessary capital?

The SEED Program may be able to help! SEED is a character based micro-loan program that is funding entrepreneurs based off of character of the entrepreneur and capacity of the business.

Program Components
 Loans up to $35,000Entrepreneurial Training ClassesOne on One Business CounselingInterns to Assist with Business Plan DevelopmentPeer Support Network
Since the program was established, SEED has successfully funded 54 entrepreneurs that would not have been eligible for traditional commercial loan programs.

Applications for the Summer Session of the SEED Program are now being accepted.

For more information:
Contact Kate Baker

SEED is possible due to a unique partnership between SE…

Disruptive innovation

According to the Wikipedia, a disruptive innovation is "an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995."

Here are some recent articles describing disruptive technologies:

Small Business Success Story -Mindwick, Inc.

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the Stony Brook SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Elena Yakubovskaya
Mindwick, Inc.
Stony Brook SBDC
Elena Yakubovskaya, a research scientist in the Pharmacology SUNY Stony Brook, received her Ph.D. in the field of molecular and structural biology from the Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow. About ten years ago, she was one of the founders of School Nova, a Stony Brook University program that provides supplemental STEM instruction on weekends for elementary school students. Elena is currently the director of a summer STEM educational camp for gifted students. 
During 2014, Elena decided to sharpen her focus on STEM education by starting Mindwick, Inc. to promote early science education among public elementary school students (grades 1-3). When she needed assistance with her venture, Elena was pleasantly surprised to discover th…

How to Reduce Costly Chargebacks at Your Business

From MarketingProfs

When businesses accept credit cards as a payment option, they run the risk of being faced with chargebacks: when credit card users dispute charges on their accounts and demand to be reimbursed for the purchases.

Chargebacks were designed to help credit card customers protect their accounts, and they still do, but they can also become a nuisance for businesses: Dealing with chargebacks can take valuable time away from employees, and it can be costly.

Moreover, frequent chargebacks can affect a company's ability to maintain a merchant account and accept credit card or ACH payments. Also, merchant account providers can impose steep fines associated with high chargeback rates, or they can put funds on hold.

All of that makes reducing the occurrence of chargebacks crucial.

The first step in doing so is to determine the causes of chargebacks. Sometimes, unhappy customers issue chargebacks in an attempt to get their money back without having to communicate with the bu…

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $33.94 per hour worked in March 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Wages and salaries averaged $23.25 per hour worked and accounted for 68.5 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $10.70 and accounted for the remaining 31.5 percent.

Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $32.06 per hour worked in March 2016. Total employer compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $45.23 per hour worked in March 2016.

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), a product of the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits for nonfarm private and state and local government workers.

Metropolitan area costs in private industry

Total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefit costs in private industry are included in this release for 15 combined and metropolitan statistical ar…

Advocacy Recommends FCC Exempt Small Businesses from Proposed Rules to “Unlock the Box”

On May 31, 2016, the Office of Advocacy submitted an ex parte letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking the FCC to further analyze the small business impact of its proposed rules under Section 629 of the Communications Act.   The FCC proposed rules that would require multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to supply certain programming information in formats that conform to specifications set by open standards bodies.  The FCC published an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) with its proposal, but did not attempt to quantify the impact that the rule would have on small MVPDs.  Numerous commenters, including small MVPDs, as well as public interest groups and technology companies supporting the rule, have indicated to the FCC that the proposed rule will disproportionately affect small MVPDs.  These stakeholders have also suggested that the FCC can exempt small MVPDs from the regulations, while still achieving its Section 629 goals.  In comments,…

SBA and AARP Renew “Summer of Encore Mentoring” for Older Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration and AARP are renewing their “Summer of Encore Mentoring” educational events targeting entrepreneurs over the age of 50 who want to start or grow their small business.  Building on the success of last year’s “Summer of Encore Mentoring,” the SBA and AARP will match encore entrepreneurs with successful business owners, community leaders and advisers for advice, counseling and training assistance during the months of June, July and August 2016.
“The face of entrepreneurship is changing in America and more of those faces today belong to entrepreneurs over the age of 50.  Here at SBA, we are focused on building ladders of opportunity that are open, accessible and available to all entrepreneurs,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “We are fortunate to have a great partner in AARP, which has been dedicated to helping those over 50 take control of their future.” The “Summer of Encore Mentoring” will consist of nationwide events that pair encore…

Meet the 2016 CNBC Disruptor 50 companies

From CNBC:
In the fourth annual Disruptor 50 list, CNBC features private companies in 15 industries — from aerospace to financial services to cybersecurity to retail — whose innovations are revolutionizing the business landscape. These forward-thinking starts-ups have identified unexploited niches in the marketplace that have the potential to become billion-dollar businesses, and they rushed to fill them.

Some have already passed the billion-dollar mark at a speed that is unprecedented. In the process, they are creating new ecosystems for their products and services. Unseating corporate giants is no easy feat. But we ranked those venture capital–backed companies doing the best job.

In aggregate, these 50 companies have raised $41 billion in venture capital at an implied Disruptor 50 list market valuation of $242 billion, according to PitchBook data. Already it's hard to think of the world without them.

Small Business Success Story -Medical Gas Technology

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Watertown SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

David Farrell
Medical Gas Technology
Watertown SBDC
David Farrell was working with a private contractor doing work on Ft. Drum when he learned that the contractor had lost his contract. Meanwhile, his friend Bryan Benson, was working part-time with a local company, Medical Gas Technologies, Inc. (MGT), that services, tests and performs maintenance on medical gas and vacuum systems. The market for the company’s services includes hospitals, doctors’ offices and even veterinary clinics. MGT’s owner wanted to retire, and Bryan needed a partner to help purchase, operate and expand the business. 
David entered the NYS Department of Labor Self Employment Assistance Program to retain his unemployment benefits and attended the Watertown SBDC’s seven-week Entrepreneurial Training course. With the assist…

Social Enterprises: Benefit Corporation Guide

There are a growing number of entrepreneurs, investors, consumers, and governments worldwide that are embracing the power of business to create positive social change. Social entrepreneurs are starting businesses that generate earned income (like traditional for-profits) while simultaneously generating a social benefit (like traditional non-profits), and an increasing number of consumers, job-seekers, and investors want to be a part of this emerging social enterprise sector.

Andrew Delmonte, Social Enterprise Coordinator at the Buffalo SBDC, has created the Benefit Corporation Guide. Intended to be a legal roadmap for the small business social entrepreneur, the guide introduces the New York State benefit corporation, and guides prospective social enterprises through both the process of incorporation and the procedures necessary to meet the ongoing requirements of benefit corporation law. Download the Benefit Corporation Guide here.

SBA 504 Refinance Program Made Permanent

Eligible small business owners now have more options to refinance eligible fixed assets and business expenses through the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Refinance Program. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet made the program permanent through an Interim Final Rule in The Federal Register released May 26, 2016. This change will help small business owners ease their financial burdens and create incentives for potential expansion and further job creation.

In making the announcement, Contreras-Sweet said: “As both a former small business owner and a banker, I know firsthand that access to capital is the single most important factor in the survival and growth of a small business. The 504 loan program with its long term fixed-rate can help refinance debt from adjustable rate loans with significant savings to borrowers. Paying off existing loans with a new loan at a lower cost can help increase cash flow, which can be especially helpful in a resurgent economy. That’s why I’…

Programmer, Fired After 6 Years, Realizes He Doesn't Know How to Code

From PayScale:
This week on CSCareerQuestions, a Reddit user reveals an unfortunate situation that sounds almost too much like HBO's Silicon Valley to be true. OP was fired after spending six full years working at a well-known tech company in the Bay Area.

Now, our friend reflects on his time there and admits he may have made some mistakes along the way: for instance, automating his job to the point where he forgot how to code. Let's investigate what happened and see what OP can do to salvage his tech career.

After graduating college with a computer science degree seven years ago, OP landed a job in the Bay Area doing Quality Assurance work for a tech company. And, being the savvy tech person that he is, OP automated almost all of his tasks after eight months on the job. So with most of the hard part of his job done for him, OP had some free time ... six years' worth, in fact. Let's see how he spent it, in his own words...

Making Telecommuting Work for You and Your Business

From the Harvard Business Review:

The study: Nicholas Bloom and graduate student James Liang, who is also a cofounder of the Chinese travel website Ctrip, gave the staff at Ctrip’s call center the opportunity to volunteer to work from home for nine months. Half the volunteers were allowed to telecommute; the rest remained in the office as a control group.

Survey responses and performance data collected at the conclusion of the study revealed that, in comparison with the employees who came into the office, the at-home workers were not only happier and less likely to quit but also more productive.

The challenge: Should more of us be doing our jobs in our pajamas? Would the performance of employees actually improve if companies let them stay home? Professor Bloom, defend your research.

See also, from Forbes: 10 Tips For Working From Home.

Identify Yourself for Success in Business and at Work

by Deb Best:

I recently attended a major nonprofit fundraising event where no name tags were issued, and hundreds of other people in the business community were also in attendance. I was a new sponsor / donor. Fortunately, I connected with a number of people I know in the business community; and for those folks I didn’t know, I had my business card at the ready, and requested their business cards in return.

When I approached the check-out table for the silent auction, I asked why there were no name tags. The young staffer at the table replied: “It’s too much work, especially since we have a lot of last-minute attendees. So we decided a few years ago to stop using name tags.”

Not the right answer.

Small Business Success Story - Blue Sky Landscaping Services

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Queens-York SBDC appears in our 2015 Annual Report

Joanne McNeil
Blue Sky Landscaping Services
Queens-York SBDC
Blue Sky Landscaping Services, Inc. was started in March 1998 to provide landscape design, installation and maintenance. The woman-owned small business located in Howard Beach in Queens, was forced to close in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New York City and devastated the business and the neighborhood. In November 2012, Joanne initially talked to York SBDC Advisor Brian Yeung at the Disaster Relief for Small Business Forum held at the Resorts World Casino. More than anything else, Joanne McNeil, Blue Sky’s owner, needed financial assistance to reopen her business, and she was seeking funds for renovation, equipment, and working capital. 
The hurricane had destroyed the business physically and economically. Over…