Showing posts from September, 2016

Why You Should Stop Worrying About Raising VC Money for Your Tech Startup

From Bplans:

An early question among potential co-founders during discussions about commitment was always “have you raised money yet?” as if it’s a requirement of doing a tech startup.

It seems like a common trend with first-time tech entrepreneurs—and even some more experienced entrepreneurs—to think of fundraising as a required step in the process of starting a technology company. They read articles on TechCrunch about how startups are raising huge, early rounds of funding from VCs, then begin putting together pitch decks and attempt to seek out funding for their own startup.

However, if you look at the history of today’s biggest tech companies, nearly all of them started without raising outside funds. Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft all started in garages or dorms, and didn’t raise money until later on when they were ready to scale up operations. In fact, many companies are successful without ever raising outside money, including PlentyofFish, Balsamiq Mockups, and Shutterstock.

Hiring people with criminal convictions -GREAT database

One may be barred from working in a job that is related to a criminal conviction. Understanding which jobs you can and cannot be hired for has been difficult for employer and potential employee.

As this article from Minnesota states:

The American Bar Association created the Collateral Consequences website to show how different types of criminal convictions affect employment and other resources. The rules about barred occupations and work restrictions are complicated.

The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction—legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record—are hard to find and harder to understand. Now it will be easier to do both. Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and NIJ selected the ABA Criminal Justice Section to perform the necessary research and analysis. The results are now being made available through this interactive tool.

It has several …

The Challenge of Proving the Value of Public Relations Today

From MarketProfs:

Public relations is sometimes referred to as the "persuasion business," and that nickname says it all. PR campaigns are largely about convincing an audience that something (such as an event, a person, a company, or a transaction) is important and supporting that claim with clear reasons.

However, it may be time for the PR industry to start campaigning on its own behalf. Global industry growth slowed to 5% in 2015 marking a significant downshift from its double-digit growth just two years prior. Meanwhile, spending on PR information and software is going up, reaching $2.9B in 2015—a 5.5% increase over 2014.

The diverging dynamics show that in 2016 and beyond, PR needs to be a business of technologically powered proof—not just persuasion.

For the PR industry to grow and thrive, it needs to prove its direct value in the most tangible ways possible.

Amid the ever-evolving digital media landscape, the following best-practices will be integral to proving the val…

New Intermediaries Will Help Scale U.S. Apprenticeships

By  and  Apprenticeships, paid training programs that combine on-the-job training and classroom instruction, are an effective yet underused strategy for training workers for in-demand jobs. In 2014, in an effort to increase the use of apprenticeship as a pathway to middle-class employment, President Obama set a national goal to double the number of U.S. apprenticeships within five years. Since then, the Department of Labor has made unprecedented investments to support the development and expansion of new and existing apprenticeship programs, announcing or awarding $265 million in funding, thanks, in part, to a historic, bipartisan agreement made by Congress and based on the president’s 2016 budget. As part of that initiative, the Department of Labor is awarding 14 contracts to industry and workforce intermediaries to advance two major goals for expanding apprenticeship programs in the United States: *expanding apprenticeships in new industries, and*increasing o…

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Small Business

From the American Institute for Economic Research

Politicians love to talk about small business, but often use the topic for a quick photo op and feel-good story about the economy. However, both major presidential candidates are proposing policies that are highly relevant to small business owners.

Hillary Clinton focuses on “leveling the playing field” between small and large businesses, while Donald Trump advocates policies intended to help businesses regardless of size. A comparison of these proposals highlights an interesting question: How differently should the government treat small and large businesses?

Clinton’s website has a page dedicated to small business, including those photo ops, but also a sizable list of policy proposals. Virtually all of the proposals focus on the premise that small businesses face greater or different challenges related to taxation, financing and regulation than their large counterparts. Perhaps the proposal of Clinton’s that could have the most impac…

CyberSecurity Bill Passes US House - would authorize SBDCs to offer cyber support

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Improving Small Business Cyber Security Act of 2016 this week, to help small businesses protect themselves from cyberattacks.

A companion bill is still working its way through the Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Chairman of the House Small Business Committee was approved by voice vote on a bipartisan basis.

Here are the main nuggets from that press release:

American small businesses are under cyberattack like never before. By one estimate, 71 percent of cyberattacks occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. With America’s 28 million small businesses making up 54 percent of annual sales in the U.S., the frequency of such attacks and the high costs they create for small businesses could have ripple effects throughout our economy.

Small businesses are often not prepared to prevent cyberattacks or easily recover from the damages of successful intrusions. A report by Internet security firm McAfee found th…

An Absolutely 100% Non-Boring Article About Business Insurance

From Bplans

Almost every business has some form of insurance to protect it from fires, lawsuits, and vandalism—things that are 100 percent not boring.

In fact, the first business insurance policies came from Lloyd’s of London, which used to be a coffee shop where sailors and merchants gathered.

It was a perfect storm: Lloyd’s picked up on how dangerous sailing was and that merchants wanted insurance in case their sailors were thrown overboard, goods were lost at seas, or pirates did pirate-y things. This little coffee shop starting selling marine insurance and soon enough, it became the nexus of the insurance world. Three hundred years later, it still is.

If you’re a small-business owner, chances are you don’t need pirate insurance. If you do, heaven help you. For most business owners, there are four non-pirate kinds of insurance that cover most major exposures.

50 Interview Questions to Ask Applicants

From nectjobs:

Screening for the right person for the job is always a challenge. You need someone not only qualified but with a passion for the work and a desire to serve. You do not always have the luxury of multiple interviews, following up with past employers, calling all character references, or reading through multi-page resumes to help you find the right candidate for the open position.

What follows are 50 quick, easy-to-use, and immediately applied interview questions. These questions will help you to decide quickly whether the candidate you are interviewing is the right fit or not. Each question has been filtered through a vast array of human resources scenarios to determine if any are “questionable” or “offensive” based on current HR laws, regulations, and interviewing rules, (e.g., discriminatory questions based on violations of ADA, Title VI, etc.), and each one has passed the test in the US at the time of this writing.

2014 Business Dynamics Statistics

The Business Dynamics Statistics provide annual statistics on establishments, firm startups, and job creation and loss from 1976 to 2014 by firm size, firm age, industrial sector, state and metropolitan statistical area.
These statistics provide snapshots of current and historical U.S. entrepreneurial activity, plus geographic and industry detail about where jobs are being created and lost in the U.S. economy.

Data tables are available by firm characteristics and establishment characteristics, as well as through the application programming interface.

Are you a small business owner with an amazing success story to tell?

If you are a small business siuccess, submit your nomination today for the 2017 National Small Business Week Awards. All nominations must be mailed or hand delivered to the nearest SBA Office no later than 3:00 PM ET on January 10, 2017. Consult the Awards Guidelines for a list of National Small Business Week Awards, eligibility criteria, selection process, evaluation criteria and how to submit a nomination package.

National Small Business Week has served as our nation’s salute to small business owners. That’s more than 50 years of celebrating small business owners who create two out of every three new jobs for Americans. Many household names were previous National Small Business Week award winners, including Ben and Jerry’s, Calloway Golf, Chobani, Dogfish Head, Stoneyfield Farm, Pacifica and Tom’s of Maine. And in recognizing the changing face of America, the SBA’s National Small Business Week awards honor individuals and businesses that reflect our nation’s rich diversity.

All nomi…

How Net 30 Accounts Help Conserve Business Cash Flow

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger For every business, the cash flowing into a company is essential for covering the day to day expenses necessary to operate a business. It keeps lights on and doors open; cash flow is truly the life blood of a business. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that companies of all shapes and sizes have to slow business growth due to lack of cash flow needed for expansion. To combat this, a business owner may increase the amount of cash coming in by generating more sales and converting those sales into cash as soon as possible. Another way is to conserve the company’s cash flow. While there are many ways to conserve cash flow such as cutting costs, bartering, re-negotiating with creditors, and cutting inventory; one method in particular is through Net 30 accounts. By asking for credit terms from your suppliers you enable your business to hold onto cash for a longer period of time. You can obtain products and services your business needs and defer the payment on thos…

Slow Marketing: How to Deliver Faster Results by Slowing Down

From MarketingProfs:
Marketing is impatient.

We want more leads, more brand recognition, more social shares.

We want a fatter pipeline, fuller funnel, more ideas, and (often) more credit. And we want it now.

Yet, ironically, the companies that will have the biggest marketing wins this fall won't get there by going faster. Instead, they will get there by... wait for it... slowing down.

In our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world... there is a critical need to slow down. Why? Because doing so allows you to achieve real results—faster.

Or, rather, we need to identify those key moments when we need to slow down, because doing so allows the business to grow faster. (And better. And with more integrity.)

We need to invite slow to fuel fast.

Wasn't Ben Franklin spot-on when he said, "Remember that time is money"? Doesn't wisdom hold that when you slow down, you're roadkill?

Nope. The opposite is true.

Although there is such a thing as…

NY SBDC Manufacturer of the Year – Heidelberg Bread

Heidelberg Bread makes unique products free of preservatives and packaged with old world charm – artisan breads, rolls, baguettes, pastries, muffins, and scones. It’s a local business whose ingredients are sourced from area farmers and other businesses. The business employs local people whose money stays in the community, and the company supports charities such as Compassion Coalition whose mission is to distribute food to emergency food providers. When Boyd Bissell started the company in 1983, he was going against the grain, where the norm in the bakery marketplace was bleached flour and shelf-life extending preservatives. His vision was mass-manufactured artisan bread products with locally sourced, all-natural ingredients and no preservatives. Today customer demand is outpacing the bakery’s capacity, so Boyd consulted the SBDC for assistance with financing to build a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The building expansion project of $5.…

From Concept to CEO

A wealth of services are available to entrepreneurial-minded students at the State University of New York.

Those in scientific or technological disciplines can turn their research into a real business with the help of the New York Small Business Development Center, university technology transfer departments, and the SUNY Research Foundation.

Check out our new video HERE.

See other NYSBDC videos on our YouTube channel.

How to Get UPC Barcodes for Your Products

From the Wall Street Journal

Universal product codes — UPCs — are the 12-digit numbers that appear under the barcodes on many U.S. products. Getting a UPC means first joining a group to get assigned a unique identification number. They are given out by GS1 US, a nonprofit group that sets standards for international commerce.

Here’s how it works: Businesses pay to join GS1 US, and in exchange, it assigns each member its own identification number that appears as the first part of its UPC. Membership can be pricey -- an initial fee of least $250, plus annual renewal fees starting at $50.

Companies usually need different UPC codes for each product they sell, even if it is just a different size. So companies will add more numbers to their GS1-issued identification code to identify each of their products. You save money by using a UPC code reseller, but if you're selling through major retailers, this isn't an option.

6 Exit Strategies for Your Small Business

From The Balance

Exit strategies are something that every investor in a business looks for. But even if you are running a one person sole proprietorship, you need an exit strategy. For you, as for any investor in a business, the questions are the same when it's time to move on. How are you going to get your money out of the business? And how much money are you going to get?

Having an exit strategy worked out in advance helps ensure that you like the answers to those questions and gives you some control over your small business's future.

The best exit strategy is the one that best fits your small business and your personal goals. Decide first what you want to walk away with. If it's just money, an exit strategy such as selling on the open market or to another business may be the best pick. If your legacy and seeing the small business you built continue are important to you, then family succession or selling to employees might be best for you.

Is Your Company Prepared to Withstand Any Disaster Threat?

When large scale disasters hit an area, the infrastructure failure is particularly damaging to small businesses. Recent flooding in Louisiana points to a hard rule: when your business is cut off from clients, vendors and critical staff, the economic losses continue long after the cleanup is done. The key to protecting your assets and becoming resilient in the face of a natural disaster, cyberattack, or random power outage is having a solid business continuity plan. The cost of developing a plan is low, compared to the long-term financial losses that could occur when you’re caught off guard by a crisis. Learn how to build your own disaster preparedness plan during three free National Preparedness Month (NPM) webinars this month hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery. The series is presented in collaboration with FEMA’s Ready Campaign, and the 2016 NPM theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your Emergency Plan Today.” The hour-long webinars will be presented…

NY SBDC Technology Entrepreneur of the Year – Elena Yakubovskaya, Mindwick

Elena Yakubovskaya, a research scientist at SUNY Stony Brook, earned her Ph.D in the field of molecular and structural biology in Russia. Ten years ago in her spare time, she was one of the founders of School Nova at Stony Brook, which provides supplemental STEM instruction to elementary students on weekends. In addition, she is the Director of Sigma Camp, a summer STEM educational camp for gifted students. In 2014, Elena started Mindwick, Inc. with the goal of promoting early science education for students in grades 1-3. In 2015 Mindwick was awarded a $150,000 Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop "Ready for STEM" - a new educational program for improving reasoning skills in elementary school students. The Phase I “proof of concept” work results were well received when submitted to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, Elena applied for a Phase II $750,000 NSF grant and two new Phase I grants at other agencies…

Inventory Shrinkage: Causes and Possible Solutions

From Thrive & ADP

Inventory shrink is a loss of goods either due to theft, damages/spoilage or administrative errors on items moving from a manufacturing site to an end customer. The shrinkage can be referred to as a hit to the margin or loss in profit.

Inventory shrinkage, or the loss of stock, can directly impact your small business's bottom line. According to 2015 data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S. retailers experienced $44 billion in losses due to inventory shrinkage in the year prior. Organized retail crime and shoplifting accounted for 38 percent of those losses, while internal theft and assorted administrative errors accounted for 35 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

It's clear that getting a better handle on shrinkage involves a careful process. As shrinkage can be a costly headache for your small business, getting this problem under control may be one of the best investments you can make. By following the suggestions by THRIVE, you'l…

Tips For Hiring The Best Candidates For Your Small Business

From Forbes

Hiring the right talent is critical to the success of any organization, and it’s especially important for a small business.

One employee’s influence can potentially be felt more strongly in a small business than at a large organization. Likewise, when one person leaves a job at a small company, it can be more difficult to cover his or her responsibilities than it would be at a larger firm, especially since most small-business employees wear many hats. One good employee can also propel the business forward, while a bad hire can set back productivity, damage morale, and cost an employer both time and money.

Small businesses created 79,000 jobs in January 2016, according to the ADP Small Business Report. How can hiring managers ensure that these jobs are filled by the best candidates who can set their small business up for future success?

Joanie Courtney, senior vice president of Global Market Insights at job-search company Monster Worldwide, urges small-business owners …

How small businesses can deliver good customer service

From The Guardian

Customer service is the badge that every company wants to wear because satisfied customers remain loyal to you and recommend you to others. New customers require time, effort and a significant marketing budget to acquire.

It's not hard to keep customers happy, even though we all know from bitter experience that few companies get it right. All that's needed is to put their needs at the heart of everything you do.

Communication is vital because your customers want to feel valued and respected. They're also looking for peace of mind that they can trust you will deliver what you promise.

Customer service has never been more important; in the current climate consumers are shopping around and demanding more value for money. Businesses that thrive will not pay lip service to customer service, but instead ensure that everything they do is based around doing the very best by the people who choose to buy from them.

How Can Small Businesses Compete with Big Companies?

From Kabbage

People often assume that small businesses are at a disadvantage when competing with big companies. After all, big companies have big company budgets for advertising. They have big economies of scale that enable them to do things faster and cheaper. They can offer lower prices that small businesses cannot match. The idea of competing with big companies is one of the reasons why people think it’s so hard to be a small business owner.

But the truth is more complicated. Yes, big companies have certain advantages that come from being big. But especially today, with the great online tools and resources that small business owners can use to make their businesses run better, it’s often possible for small businesses to beat big companies at their own game.

The people at Kabbage talked with a few small business owners and business consultants about the best strategies for how small businesses can level the playing field and compete more effectively with big companies.