Friday, January 29, 2016

The Onion: Boss Wants Friendly, Relaxed Company Culture In Place By Friday

Sometimes, parody narratives are far too real. From The Onion:

Warning of severe consequences if he didn’t see results, Pantheon Digital Consulting COO Daniel Abelson, 59, told employees Monday he wants a relaxed, friendly company culture implemented by the end of the week, sources within the organization confirmed. “I don’t care how you make this a laid-back, fun place to work, just get it done, and get it done fast,” Abelson said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why today's CFOs are focused less on numbers and more on people

Recent in-depth interviews with chief financial officers from companies in a variety of industries revealed a set of fascinating insights. The CFO of the future is finding success by going “soft” – getting out of spreadsheets and spending more time thinking about strategy, people, and culture.

Over just the past few years, CFOs in vanguard organizations have become strategic leaders. Rather than merely supporting the company’s operations, CFOs and their teams are working directly with department heads and business units to make the strategic choices that drive the best returns on investment, enhance shareholder value and long-term growth, and beat the competition.

This shift requires the modern CFO to actively collaborate with all parts of the business and untangle questions such as: What is our unique value proposition? What is our market potential in each business in which we participate? How can we increase value to the customer? Do we have the capabilities needed to win?

It demands that CFOs use their unique direct line of sight into the organization’s many functions—such as supply chain, R&D, manufacturing, sales, and marketing— to ensure that the company fully develops and invests in its most important (typically cross-functional) capabilities that differentiate it in the marketplace.

Given these new collaboration and management responsibilities, the CFO’s old education and career track are no longer ideal preparation for the modern version of the job.

The hard quantitative skills that a typical CPA or MBA candidate studies are now table stakes; more strategic abilities and soft skills are increasingly critical.

Today’s CFO must be able to develop talent, build a strong team and shape a winning culture, via influencing and collaboration skills vs. via command & control.

The CFO must also ensure that the organization culture is aligned with the company’s path to creating value - else all their financial and business plans risk failure.

Rather than focus purely on financial outcomes, we are finding that today's chief financial officers are most valuable when they pay attention to three important areas: understanding the value chain, shaping the culture and developing talent.

Read more at:Businessinsider

Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Stop People From Stealing Your Business Plan

Nearly all businesses, whether they are small or large, are comprised of intellectual property (IP) and trade secrets, which can serve as the foundation for commercial success.

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines IP as, “creations of the mind,” which, depending on the business, can take many forms.

One thing is certain:

The more valuable the IP and trade secrets, the more vulnerable they are to theft and infringement.

When starting a business in today’s digital age, one of the most important actions one can take is protecting the intellectual property and trade secrets of that enterprise, from the very beginning.

The intellectual property of a business, which in many instances functions as the lifeblood of a company, is almost always financially valuable and that value increases as the company grows and starts generating revenue.

For any business, it is critical to establish evidence for the creation date and authorship for all IP at the earliest point possible, in order to demarcate clearly who created what and when.

Read more at: Bplans

Friday, January 22, 2016

Which industries need workers? Exploring differences in labor market activity

Interesting new information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Where should new graduates look for jobs? What about career changers? In what direction should career counselors and job placement programs direct clients? Which statistics can government officials use to help determine how to stimulate job growth? How do employers know if their turnover and worker demands are typical? Industries differ in employee turnover patterns, demand for workers, and ability to hire the workers they need. Understanding the labor turnover characteristics of the different industries may help jobseekers, those assisting them, employers, and government officials better focus their efforts.
Each data element in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)—job openings, hires, and separations—provides information about the labor market. However, when all three data elements are studied together, an even more informative picture emerges. The job openings data tell us about the unmet demand for workers; the hires and separations data provide information about the flow of labor. Industries with high turnover and low job openings, such as construction, are easily able to hire the workers they need. But industries with high turnover and high job openings, such as professional and business services, still have open jobs at the end of the month despite their hiring efforts during the month. Those industries with consistently moderate turnover and high unmet demand for labor, such as health care, may be a good option for career changers and students selecting a major, and officials who develop training programs and guide people into them can benefit from knowing which industries these are. Hence, analyzing the demand for and flow of workers by industry could prove helpful both to people looking for work and to those trying to help or hire them.

Job openings and hires

Studying job openings relative to hires reveals substantial differences among the industries. In some cases, hires (measured over the course of a month) are much greater than openings (on the last day of the month); in other cases, the gap between them is small.1 For a few select industries, openings exceed hires. Comparing industries by analyzing the number of openings or hires yields little information because industries vary greatly by size. Converting the number of hires and openings to rates—by dividing the number of hires or openings by the number of people employed in the industry—allows for meaningful cross-industry comparison. Figure 1 presents the hires and job openings rates by industry. For the United States (total nonfarm industries), the job openings rate averaged about 91 percent of the hires rate in 2014. In several industries, the hires rate far exceeded the average job openings rate: construction; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and retail trade. In several industries—for instance, mining and logging, professional and business services, and accommodation and food services—the hires rate exceeded the job openings rate to a lesser degree. The exceptional industries in which the job openings rate exceeded the hires rate were information; finance and insurance; health care and social assistance; federal government; and state and local government.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Listen to Bcast:, the Palo Alto Software Bplans.com podcast

The folks at Bplan.com have completed the first full season of their podcast, The Bcast. They're on hiatus now, so this is a great time for you to catch up on all the episodes.
Season one covered a wide range of topics to help you start and run a better business, from bank loans and lean business planning, to niche marketing and customer service.
Here are some of season one's most popular episodes:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Small Business Success Story - N.K. Bhandari Architecture & Engineering, P.C. (NKB)

Today's small business success story comes from the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College.

Christopher R. Resig
Christopher R. Resig, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, became President and owner of N.K. Bhandari Architecture & Engineering, P.C. (NKB) in January 2015. Chris has been with the firm a total of 18 years.

For over 35 years, NKB has provided architectural and engineering services for Federal, State, Health, Corporate, Industrial, Higher Education, K-12 Education, and Facilities clientele. Representative projects include: Customs and Border Protection Renovations at Robert McEwen Custom House in Ogdensburg, NY; Hanley Federal Building Façade Restoration, Syracuse, NY; Massachusetts National Cemetery Phase III Expansion, Bourne, MA; New Parking Structure, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Juan, PR; Corning Inc. Process Research Center North Addition, Corning, NY; and Grant and Scott Barracks Restoration at USMA, West Point, NY.


Monday, January 18, 2016

How to Dispute an Error in Your Credit Report

Have you found a mistake in one or more of your credit reports?  The Mid-Hudson SBDC has compiled guidance on how to fix an error on your report.  

How To Dispute an Error in Your Equifax Credit Report

If you find an error in your Equifax Credit Report or in any of the products that contain information from your file, you should initiate an investigation with us free of charge using one of the three methods described below. We will investigate your concerns directly at the source (creditor, collection agency or courthouse), respond to you within 30 days, and send you an updated copy of your Equifax Credit Report via US Mail. If you are in the process of applying for a loan, immediately notify your lender of any incorrect information in your file. Your lender will need to reorder your credit file and score once any changes have been made to your information at Equifax.
To initiate an investigation, you will need to have a current copy of your Equifax Credit Report. If you do not have one, you can purchase one online for immediate online access. You can also call 1-800-685-1111 to receive a copy by mail.

Confirmation Numbers

You will need to have your Equifax Credit Report confirmation number handy when initiating a dispute. If you purchased your Equifax Credit Report via the Internet, your confirmation number is located at the top of your credit report. If you received a copy of the information in your credit file via US Mail, the confirmation number is located in the upper right hand corner.

Some consumers may not receive a confirmation number. This is either because your credit file is affiliate-owned or you have purchased your credit report through an Equifax reseller.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Social Media Planning - Worksheet #5 - Social Media Platforms

This week we’re sharing some helpful worksheets you can use to evaluate and plan your social media marketing.  They come from our “SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS” planning guide.  Come in to your local SBDC for a copy of this book - 65 pages of step-by-step social media instructions.  

Social Media Marketing Worksheet #5: Social Media Platforms

Choose the platforms that will be best for your business and focus your energy on doing those platforms well. Don’t try to manage social media accounts on every platform out there. Select the ones that will work best with your company culture, brand vision, and available resources. Once you’ve decided which social networks you want to join, use this worksheet as an example for organizing your account information in one location. Keep this information updated and on hand. It will be especially helpful if you have multiple people managing the company’s social media accounts.

http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/socialmedia/SocialMedia-5-platforms.pdf


What to Know Before You Start Your Business

Bplans.com knows a thing or two about what it takes to start a business. The Managing Editor of Bplans, Candice Landau, distills what entrepreneurs and the leadership at Palo Alto to get to what entrepreneurs need to figure out as they stand on the threshold of being business owners. It includes legal issues, working through business ideas, and resources for helping to figure out your vision.

Here is an example of the type of things you need to know before you start a business:


2. Start working through your business idea

Do your research and validate your idea:

You’re probably going to be doing this at the same time as you write your business plan.

This is why we strongly recommend starting with a one page pitch first. It’s the lean format of the business plan—the format that will allow you to adapt fastest as you progress through the startup phase. More importantly, it will allow you to play with ideas before you even start.

As you work through this section, the key things to keep in mind or figure out include:

Your business identity
The problem you are solving
Your solution to the problem (your product or service)
Your customer
The competition
The sales channels you will use to reach your target customers
Your marketing activities
Your team
Your business model (or how you will make money)
Milestones
Partners and resources

A good online course will guide you through these steps. This will include everything from conducting the market and industry research and validating your business idea, right through helping you refine your mission or vision.


Read more at:Bplans

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Social Media Planning - Worksheet #4 - Social Media Goals


This week we’re sharing some helpful worksheets you can use to evaluate and plan your social media marketing.  They come from our “SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS” planning guide.  Come in to your local SBDC  for a copy of this book - 65 pages of step-by-step social media instructions.  

Social Media Marketing Worksheet #4:

Social Media Goals: Your social media marketing goals should be unique to your business and overall company vision. First, determine current challenges facing your social media presence. These might include: no current content or presence, low website traffic, weak audience engagement, minimal brand awareness, or poor brand reputation or customer service. Once you’ve identified current challenges you should produce strong social media goals and clear plans of action to meet these challenges.  This worksheet shows what a completed goals worksheet would look like.

http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/socialmedia/SocialMedia-4-goals.pdf

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Social Media Planning - Worksheet #3 - Competition Investigation

This week we’re sharing some helpful worksheets you can use to evaluate and plan your social media marketing.  They come from our “SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS” planning guide.  Come in to your local SBDC for a copy of this book - 65 pages of step-by-step social media instructions. 

Social Media Marketing Worksheet #3:

Competition Investigation: Dig deep and analyze the competition. Use this worksheet to examine your competition’s social media platforms, content, and engagement.

http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/socialmedia/SocialMedia-3-competition.pdf

Using Supply Chains to Grow Your Business

Until a few years ago Steve Cronce’s Raphael Industries did $1 million dollars a year of specialized industrial painting for customers within driving distance of their plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One of them happened to be GE Healthcare, which sent Raphael “dead” X-Ray tube parts for re-coating and re-commissioning. Challenged by other entrepreneurs in Scale Up Milwaukee’s Scalerator program to come up with a plan for rapidly ramping up his business, Cronce wondered: “What if I redefined Raphael as a strategic link in the global medical imaging supply chain, rather than as a paint shop?” This supply chain epiphany is taking Raphael toward $10 million of work a year by burrowing into GE’s global network as well as serving its competitors. He is poised to become the leader in this segment of a multi-billion dollar market. “By serving as GE’s and other equipment makers’ supply partner, the whole world is now my scope. I am no longer limited by geography.”

This story leads us to a question: Which sounds sexier: sassy Silicon Valley startup or nose-to-the-grindstone supplier? No doubt the tech startup wins the popularity contest hands down.



Read more at:Harvardbusinessreview

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Social Media Planning - Worksheet #2 - Current Social Media Presence

This week we’re sharing some helpful worksheets you can use to evaluate and plan your social media marketing.  They come from our “SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS” planning guide.  Come in to your local SBDC  for a copy of this book - 65 pages of step-by-step social media instructions.  

Social Media Marketing Worksheet #2:

Current Social Media Presence: What does your social media marketing look like today? Use this worksheet to make note of the platforms you’re using, how many followers you have and their level of engagement.
http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/socialmedia/SocialMedia-2-current.pdf

Using LinkedIn to the Fullest

Marketingprofs.com is likely well-known to do you for their articles and great advice on marketing for small business. They also offer video tutorials like their Take10 program. Marketing professionals offer focus on specific topics to get you up to speed.You can even watch them on your mobile device through their app. They are available in real-time but you can also purchase single sessions for $10 on-demand.

This tutorial is by Viveka von Rosen of Marketingprofs.com who is the author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.

Take 10: Use LinkedIn's Newest Features to Boost Your Profile
You created your LinkedIn profile five years ago, and it looks fine.
So why spend more time on it? ...
...
In just 10 minutes, LinkedIn expert Viveka von Rosen will share how you can start using LinkedIn's newest features to boost the effectiveness of your profile. You'll learn how to create a custom hero image to help define your business and how to add media to increase your credibility and add life to your profile. Plus, you'll walk away with tips on using Publisher and the new keyword feature to attract more leads.
Read more at: Marketingprofs

Monday, January 11, 2016

The 4-Step Code of Conduct for Winning at Online Reviews

Discipline is essential to running a proper business. The most successful business owners have great habits. Whether checking inventory at the end of the day or following up on each and every email before closing up shop, it’s the little things that make big differences.

You need the same kind of discipline when managing your online ratings and reviews.

While some business owners may think they don’t have to deal with what happens on rating-and-review sites, they’re wrong. They do. Yelp processes 26,000 new reviews per minute, and customers pay more attention to them than ever before. You need samurai-esque discipline when it comes to managing your online reputation. (highlight to tweet)

The Manipurated Code of Conduct can help give you that katana-sharp edge. By following these four simple rules, you’ll see steady improvement in your ratings and reviews.

Step 1: Do This Everyday
The first step of discipline is consistency. This means checking your ratings and reviews sites every single day.

At first, this may seem like overkill. But keep in mind that studies have shown even a one-star bump in your Yelp rating can contribute up to 9% more sales. For restaurants, that figure is even higher—a half-star improvement in your Yelp rating can lead to a 19% increase in peak-hour bookings.

With numbers like that, how can you not manage your reviews daily?

If you’re not getting updates daily, make sure you do. Encourage customers to rate your business. Give them some incentive (a simple discount or $5 gift card works wonders). More reviews add up to a better search ranking—both in Yelp and on Google.



Read more at:convinceandconvert

Social Media Planning - Worksheet #1 - Google Your Business

Do you have big plans for improving your small business social media efforts in 2016?  We do too.  This week we’ll share some helpful worksheets you can use to evaluate and plan your social media marketing.  They come from our “SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR SMALL BUSINESS” planning guide.  Come in to your local SBDC for a copy of this book - 65 pages of step-by-step social media instructions.


Google Your Business: You should assess your current social media presence before beginning a new social media marketing strategy. Whether you’re starting from scratch or starting over, you might find that your brand, product, or service is already being talked about in key social media networks. Evaluate what comes up from a search for your business with this worksheet. 

http://www.nyssbdc.org/resources/socialmedia/SocialMedia-1-Google_your_business.pdf

Friday, January 08, 2016

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

While the old adage of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” might conjure images of a John Wayne-esque steely resolve, ignoring sleep flat out is a horrible idea.

Headlines nowadays are filled with information about sleep deprivation killing everything from your productivity to your moods, and with that, the notion of sleep being for the weak has fallen out of vogue.

The jury is in: Skimp on sleep, and you pay the price.
But how much—and how well—do you need to sleep to feel rested, recharged, and ready to tackle all of the challenges an entrepreneur faces in everyday life?


Read more at: liveplan

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Contracting Corner: A Few Good Rea$on$ to Consider Government Contracting

This is the first post in our "Contracting Corner" series from Judy Wolf, Government Contracting Coordinator, Mohawk Valley SBDC & NY SBDC Procurement Assistance Center

Interested in government contracting? There’s good reason to look toward this area of opportunity. According to USAspending.gov, on the federal level in FY 2015 alone, more than $428 billion were spent on nearly 3.4 million contracts. More than 127,000 of those contracts were awarded in New York State, bringing nearly $9.4 billion into New York.
Add to that the fact that it is written into law that the federal government has to do everything in its power to funnel 23% of its spending to small businesses, and this equates to great opportunity for entrepreneurs!

Federal agencies take this responsibility very seriously. Recent measures to enforce the importance of these goals include adding measurements to the evaluations of senior federal agency officials tracking progress toward meeting small business utilization goals. As you can imagine, these goals are now getting some very close attention from federal agencies.

New York State itself has what are called “centralized contracts” in place for commodities, services and technology – such as fuel, vehicles, office supplies, food, elevator maintenance, IT hardware and software, and other frequently and universally needed items. There are nearly 1500 of these contracts that can be tapped into by any state agency, public authority, local government, public school, or nonprofit or volunteer organization.

Individual agencies also contract for a variety of other products and services that aren’t covered by the centralized contracts. The Office of the State Comptroller has to review and approve all contracts valued at more than $50,000, and in 2014 (for example) this included nearly 24 thousand contract transactions valued at $44.4 billion 1 .  That’s a lot of money flowing into government contracts.
Similar to the federal small business utilization requirements, New York State has a strong utilization requirement for minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) – 30%, more than any other state. As you can imagine, this makes New York a very popular state in which to get certified as an MWBE!

All this, and we haven’t even touched on the possibilities of contracting at the local government level. There are multiple doorways into this potentially lucrative arena, as well as considerations on whether this is a good avenue for your company and how to make the most of it if you decide to go there. Stay tuned! Upcoming blog posts will touch on these topics.

Young Money: 7 Reasons To Start A Business Sooner Rather Than Later

There are plenty of reasons to start a business while you are still in your 20s.

Many people shy away from it — not because they don’t believe in their idea, but because they think they will be better at executing it once they are older and have more experience, more knowledge and more connections. Some of these arguments might be relevant, but most of them are just excuses not to step out of your comfort zone, so you continue the normal, everyday path of life.

Once you start thinking seriously about the advantages of starting a business now versus starting a business when you are older, you realize being young has several invaluable advantages:

1. It’s a learning opportunity.

Starting a business teaches you more than any university business course ever could. You get hands-on experience and get to see if the principles you learned in your classes are applicable in the real world.
You also learn a lot about yourself: What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Are you a people person or a number cruncher?
The number one argument of people who want to wait with regard to starting a business is they feel they don’t know enough, and hope they will be better equipped after a couple years of work experience.
The counterargument: If you start your business now, you might fail miserably, yes. But at least you’ll learn to do better next time around.
Maybe your business idea is not the best. You might have to end your project after a couple months. However, this has a positive aspect.
Once the real big idea crosses your mind, you will already have the experience and knowledge of how to start your own business.
What if your first idea is, in fact, the big one? Well, you better start executing it immediately, before someone else capitalizes on your idea.



Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A new, federal Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) certification process

Your opinion is important! The Small Business Administration (SBA) wants your input on how to design and implement a federal Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) certification process to replace self-certification. 

The SBA is seeking input and comments on certification of WOSB and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB) in connection with the WOSB Federal Contract Program (set asides, sole source, etc). 

SBA is planning to amend its regulations to implement section 825 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (2015 NDAA), which removed the statutory authority allowing WOSBs and EDWOSBs to self-certify. SBA intends to draft regulations to implement the statutory changes.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

5 Ways The Introduction Of 5G Will Change How Small Businesses Operate

Each new generation of communication networks allows technology to flourish.
When 5G becomes available by the end of this decade, what will it mean for small business owners and the tools we rely on?
With data transfer rates greater than tens of megabits per second, 5G will be 1,000 times faster than what we currently experience. This will make the possibilities for communication and marketing endless.

Here are five ways 5G could help you bring your business to the next level:

1. New Ways To Communicate With Clients

One of the first ways 5G could open up business prospects is through the capability of new forms of communication.
If you’re an entrepreneur, blogger or small business owner of any kind, you probably already rely on services like Skype and WhatsApp to stay connected to your contact list.
The mega-fast speeds of a 5G connection will enable new forms of communication.
Think 3D holographic phone calls, rather than just flat streaming video.
This will make virtual meetings increasingly life-like.

2. A More Reliable Connection

To make calls like that or to keep up with website updates, you also want to have a network that’s not going to suddenly drop out on you.
In order for 5G to work the way proponents want it to, it will need to be configured so data connection drop-outs will be eliminated.
Many are talking about how 5G will lead to self-driving cars, smart cities and remote surgeries. But these are the types of technology in which a sudden drop in data could be deadly.
Lower latencies are essential to 5G, and small business owners will reap the benefits.



Read more at:Elitedaily

Monday, January 04, 2016

Developing Markets: The ABCs of Political Risk Insurance

A growing number of U.S. companies are expanding their operations into developing nations. But while the rewards can be significant, it can mean dealing with risks like including political instability that can hinder or harm normal business operations. That's where political risk insurance comes in.

In the first installment of an ongoing series of interviews with various U.S. federal agencies about their most critical business programs, we talk with John Moran, vice president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) about political risk insurance.

But while some risks in business can have downsides such as rapidly shifting geopolitics, taking beneficial risks in the form of opportunities is part of every successful entrepreneur's DNA. In this newsletter we cover both opportunities and risk reduction across topics such as global markets, healthcare coverage, partnerships and patents.


Read more at: Businessusa

Saturday, January 02, 2016

WHAT DID 2015 DISASTERS TEACH US ABOUT PREPAREDNESS?

The year 2015 began with a powerful nor’easter that dumped several feet of snow in Massachusetts, forcing major road closings and flight cancellations in the Northeast. In October, heavy rains in the Charleston, South Carolina area resulted in flooding that caused widespread losses. The year ended with deadly tornadoes and floods sweeping through the Midwest and the South.
The factors that cause financial losses to small businesses exist every day. A solid business continuity plan will protect your organization and your assets while ensuring a quick recovery when a disaster occurs.
Join Agility Recovery and the U.S. Small Business Administration on Tuesday, Jan. 12, for a free webinar that will take a look at how small businesses handled disaster-related losses in 2015, lessons learned, and the resulting best practices.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Five Reasons Your Global Marketing Is Failing (and How to Fix It)

Reaching international markets has become easier than ever because of the variety of digital tools available.

Simply translating your website into a local language and waiting for the new customers to come rolling in can be tempting: Your marketing is rock solid at home, so why wouldn't it work just as well abroad?

This article will cover five common reasons why that kind of thinking won't win you new customers, and it'll offer suggestions for achieving success.

1. You didn't choose the right audience
One of the biggest mistakes companies make with their global marketing is that they think of the world as an extension of their home market.

How much time did you spend analyzing your home market's buyers' profiles, their habits, behaviors, needs, and motivations?
When expanding abroad, you need to do make the same amount of effort for every market that you decide to enter. You'll need to take an in-depth look at whether potential customers will have a need for your business and whether there are already established players there before you, among dozens of other factors.


Read more at:Marketingprofs