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.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trading Economics: International trade, finance, labor stats, prices, from around the world

On a business listserv, one librarian pointed out a good resource for global corporate tax rates, 2006 - current, a website called Trading Economics.

But the page is great for so much more: There are real time currency and stock market data for all over the world. Plus it has data on several topics. For instance-

Labor: Employed Persons, Job Vacancies, Minimum Wages, Payrolls, Population, Productivity, Retirement Age, Unemployment Rate, Wages

Prices: Consumer Price Index, Export Prices, Inflation Rate, Producer Prices

Also several other categories, including Markets, GDP, Money, Trade, Government, Business, Consumer, Housing, Taxes

If you are involved in international trade or just want info for markets across the world, check out Trading Economics

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"I'll Be Online Later"; "Please don't"

From LinkedIn

"I'll be online later," you say, grabbing your laptop as you head out the door.

"Please don't," say a growing number of CEOs who are radically rethinking the modern workday. Prompted by Millennials who value work-life balance, an increasingly global workforce spanning time zones, and devices that allow us to connect anywhere, anytime, these CEOs recognize the value of redesigning business to accommodate life, and not the other way around...

In a world that is always on, when does work stop?

In one corner is the argument for flexible hours, the darling of the tech set. When executed well, this approach allows staff to work when they work best while navigating life events that don’t naturally fall before 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. However, probe a bit further and many employees admit that flexible hours often mean "always working," with little or no ability to shut off.

In the other corner is the 9-to-5 (or 6...or 7...) model, which can feel downright quaint in 2016. And yet it is making a comeback. At its best, a set hours policy has clearly defined and predictable boundaries, allowing staff to enjoy life outside of work. At its worst, this model can feel rigid, valuing "face time" over quality work.

So which working-hours policy—one that encourages quality work without burning out your staff—is right for your company? Here’s what four CEOs who participated in our ongoing Human Company Design research had to say...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The anti-'Shark Tank' Innovating Now lab is rigorous but also supportive and collaborative.

From BizWomen:

When Heatherjean MacNeil launched her fashion startup, Proxy Apparel, several years ago, she applied to a prominent accelerator program.

Two years in a row, she was accepted as a finalist. And two years in a row, she found herself pitching her business to the same room of older white men.

The men had money to give, which was good. But there were misunderstandings about market opportunity, the vision behind the potential consumer demand and avenues for growth.

“I think that [more broadly] represents the fact that, particularly in investment circles, there’s such a strong absence of women, so you feel as if you’re the other,” MacNeil told me recently. “And I think it’s harder to understand how to build relationship capital in that context.”

Now, she’s part of a team of women working to create an alternate experience for other female entrepreneurs. MacNeil co-founded with Susan Duffy and Sharon Kan the Babson College Women Innovating Now Lab— or WIN Lab — an eight-month accelerator program focused on female entrepreneurs. It launched three years ago in Boston, and in September, as a testament to the concept’s success, Babson took the program off-campus for the first time, bringing the WIN Lab to Miami.

Monday, October 10, 2016

NY SDBC Advisor Christina Loggia Wins 2016 State Star Award

The New York Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is pleased to announce Christina Loggia, Business Advisor with the Farmingdale State College SBDC, has been awarded the 2016 State Star for New York.

The State Star designation recognizes outstanding achievement in high-quality business counseling and distinguished, long-term service in terms of economic development. Loggia was recently honored during the America’s SBDC Annual Conference in Orlando.

Loggia joined the SBDC in 2013 as an advisor helping Hurricane Sandy victims with NY Rising grant applications, and in 2015 started counseling non-disaster clients. To date, she has assisted more than 300 small business owners and entrepreneurs and has succeeded in helping them obtain more than $6.8 million dollars in small business grants and or loans.

Loggia brings more than 30 years of business experience in the areas of retail, purchasing, human resources, marketing and education to the small business community.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The '8 Great' Tips For Marketing In A Category That Hasn't Existed Before




The '8 Great' Tips For Marketing In A Category That Hasn't Existed Before 

 


Each of these companies have shared the same hurdle  how do you market a solution people don't know exists to a problem they don't yet realize they have?

"Walleye Dawn" Photo courtesy of Steve Wall on Flickr:  https://flic.kr/p/6Vvgqw Some rights reserved.
Forbes' Cheryl Conner writes about a problem we see from time to time — being a field that does not have a marketing rule book.  For most businesses buying an ad and waiting for customers to rush the door is not enough, especially so for those categories that require a little explanation. We can bandy "social media" around as being the tools to gain new customers but business owners need to be able to speak about the problems their product or service solves. The new avenues need content and the content is expertise and storytelling. Most of the methods described in this article are those we recommend but perhaps have been the reserve of the major players, and not for the little guys. Smaller businesses also need to speak to their audience and tell their story.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

From Wall Street to Entrepreneurship: 6 Hard Lessons Learned

From Bplans:


The transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship is jarring for anyone who takes the leap. The work, structure, and indicators of success are different in many ways.

Things you became adept at while working at a company—like keeping your boss happy and navigating office politics—lose their utility when you’re on your own.

It was an exciting environment with a steep learning curve. However, having grown up in a family of small business owners, the pull of entrepreneurship strengthened as I grew older. After several years in the corporate world, I realized it was never going to get easier to make the switch.

Leveraging our financial skill sets, my partner and I started a tech-enabled factoring company that helps innovative B2B businesses and startups fund their working capital. The transition from a white-shoe Wall Street firm to the near absolute freedom of entrepreneurship required enormous adjustments in all aspects of my life.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Compare Password Manager Reviews

From ConsumerAffairs:

Many people log in to multiple online accounts every day, including financial, email and social media accounts. Having strong passwords for each websites helps protect consumers from identity thieves. A strong password is complex, long and unique, and, therefore, can be hard to create and/or remember.

Password managers generate and securely store passwords so that consumers don’t have to remember them, but different ones offer slightly different services and levels of protection. Consumers who understand these features can choose one to meet their security needs.

Link goes to:
Top 10 Best Rated Password Managers
What features matter most?
What are different types of password managers?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Business cases before the Supreme Court this term

From the Business Journals:


The Supreme Court of the United States begins its 2016 term Monday. Virtually by definition, cases that reach the land's highest court are historic in nature, but there are plenty of prominent and divisive cases to go around this term. The session will be further complicated by the court still being down a member after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. If the court splits 4-4 on a ruling, the lower court's ruling effectively stands.

Here are some of the key business cases before the court this term — with what's in dispute and what's at stake.

Samsung Electronics v. Apple Inc...

Monday, October 03, 2016

Why Small Businesses Should Embrace Disruption

From Bplans:

It seems you can’t talk about business anymore without talking about disruption. What everybody can agree on is that the rate of change seen throughout almost every industry, due to new technologies and advanced rates at which ideas spread, is steadily increasing, and shows no signs of slowing down.

The good news for small businesses and startups is that they shouldn’t be worried. In fact, they should be excited! Being small enough, and in the case of startups, fresh enough to take innovative leaps and try out radical new methods and ideas is why these organizations are the ones that drive disruption.

Enterprise level businesses and other large organizations are taking notes, trying to learn from small businesses how best not only to respond to disruption but to instigate it themselves. For small businesses, this is great. Even if they’re not the ones driving change, they’re small and agile enough to adapt to it.

For aspiring startups, this is even better. Establishing a business in a world where ever-changing models, needs, and technologies are the norm means adaptation will be in that organization’s blood. Not only that, but startups can analyze existing markets for weak points and decide which industries are ripe for disruption.