Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's Still Loading?!

From: eMarketer

Video streaming quality issues continue to be a big problem for the advertising and media industries. Whether they’re caused by problems with slow internet connections, or high demand for streaming video content during peak periods, the continued troubles are turning off viewers and causing headaches for media executives.
Finding evidence of video viewers’ distaste for bad-quality video isn’t difficult. The latest example comes from a Q1 2017 study released by video performance and analytics firm Mux.
According to the company’s investigation of US digital video viewers who stopped watching videos due to various streaming issues, about 85% said they gave up because the load time took too long, while a nearly identical percentage said stalling and the dreaded problem of “rebuffering” caused them to end their viewing session.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Fund a Business When You Still Have Student Loans

From Bplans

Starting a business from scratch isn’t easy under any circumstances. But for members of the millennial generation, many of whom still sit atop a mountain of student loan debt, it can seem virtually impossible.
Student debt has risen dramatically in recent years to become the largest single debt source among those under 40. In fact, the average class of 2016 graduate will be saddled with $37,172 in student loan debt—enough to crush the entrepreneurial spirit of any would-be business owner.
Even so, if you have a business idea you believe in, there’s no reason to put those dreams on hold. With some careful planning and financial management—and a bit of luck—you can overcome your debt burdens and turn that killer idea into a reality.

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Small Business Week 2017

From: SBA

National Small Business Week 2017 kicks off at the end of this month with an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. where national award winners including the naming of this year’s national Small Business Person of the Year will be recognized and awarded for their achievements.
National Small Business Week is being held from April 30-May 6 and is an annual event hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration to recognize the nation’s top small businesses, entrepreneurs, small business advocates and champions.
In addition to the awards ceremony April 30 – May 1 in Washington, D.C. with SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, a roadshow will take place in cities around the country, and several online events.
Events throughout National Small Business Week are made possible thanks in part to the support of leading companies and organizers who serve as cosponsors.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

How Google eats a business whole

From The Outline

Google’s Featured Snippets are not only often wrong, they’re also damaging to small businesses that depend on search traffic. launched in 2008 because Brian Warner, a former finance major working at a digital media company, wondered what Larry David was worth.

"Honestly, I wanted to know how much money Larry David had," Warner said. "I think Curb Your Enthusiasm had just come back, and I was like, 'God, he must have made so much money from Seinfeld.' I Googled something like 'Larry David net worth' and the results were garbage."

According to, Larry David is now worth $400 million. Warner acknowledges that it’s an inexact science, but he and his employees don’t simply conjure their numbers. They look at real estate transactions, news reports of large purchases and salaries, and sometimes even correspond with the celebrity or their reps. Floyd Mayweather, whose net worth Warner estimates is perhaps the most-Googled due to his infamous spending habits, has personally sent the site screenshots accounting for his assets...

This line of questioning — how much celebrities are worth — is popular enough that Warner was able to quit his day job in 2012 to focus solely on the site. At its height, he said it had a 12-person staff.

Then Google happened.

For most of its history, Google was like a librarian. You asked a question, and it guided you to the section of the web where you might find the answer.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What to Do With Physical Stores?

From eMarketer.Retail

A survey of retail executives, the vast majority of them from primarily brick-and-mortar chains, found widespread concern about enhancing the value of their physical stores.
The polling from RIS News and Gartner found that more than one-third of respondents said optimizing stores and upgrading store-level bandwidth and infrastructure would be a top challenge in the coming years.
Worry about physical stores fits the industry narrative of the moment, with chain after chain announcing new or expanded efforts to shutter brick-and-mortar locations. A recent study estimated that efforts to close stores actually need to be accelerated if the industry as a whole is to address a glut of retail space. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Consumer Expenditures in 2015

From Bureau Of Labor Statistics

This Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) Annual Report presents integrated data from the 2015 Diary and Interview portions of the CE, including data tables. The tables show average expenditures, income, and characteristics for consumer units1 classified by the following characteristics: quintiles and deciles of income, before-tax income class, age of the reference person, size of the consumer unit, composition of the consumer unit, number of earners, housing tenure and type of area (urban or rural), region of residence, occupation, highest education level of any consumer-unit member, race, and Hispanic or Latino origin. This report highlights spending patterns for 2015 from the CE, including a brief discussion of expenditure changes for the year, and provides a description of the CE survey.
Consumer spending increased 4.6 percent in 2015, according to annual data from the CE. This follows an increase of 4.7 percent in 2014, previously recorded by the CE. The average annual expenditures by consumer units (CUs) increased from $53,495 in 2014 to $55,978 in 2015. Accompanying the 2015 increase in expenditures was an increase of 4.1 percent in average income before taxes from 2014 ($66,877) to 2015 ($69,627). Prices, as measured by the average annual change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U, U.S. city average, all items, base period 1982–1984=100), rose by 0.1 percent in 2015, compared with the 4.6-percent increase in spending. In 2014, prices increased by 1.6 percent, compared with the 4.7-percent increase in spending

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Top Skills Employers Want

 From: The Balance

What skills are most important for companies that are hiring? There are some skills and qualities that employers require of all applicants for employment, regardless of the position they are hiring for.
These are called soft skills, and they include the interpersonal skills and attributes you need to succeed in the workplace.
In addition, there are the more tangible skills you need in order to do the job effectively.
These are called hard skills, and they are the specific knowledge and abilities required to do the job. There's a difference between hard and soft skills. 
You’ll need both for most jobs, and it's important to show employers that you have the skills they need when you're applying and interviewing for jobs.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How To Start A Home-Based Small Catering Business

From 99 Business Ideas

A catering business is a perfect opportunity for the people who love to cook. It is a profitable business and ensures lucrative margin to the owners.

Additionally, you can start this business as part-time. As your business grows, you can consider giving your full effort. In this post, we intend to explore 
how to start a home-based small catering business.Catering is a financially profitable and self-rewarding business.

However, It is a demanding career. It requires stamina, an ability to work under pressure, and excellent interpersonal skills. And the success of this business hugely depends on the personal reputation. You do not need special education or training to become a successful caterer. However, taking some courses at culinary institutes or vocational schools can significantly help improve the quality of your food offerings. 
Instead of taking classes, you can also work for an established caterer to know the inside of the business operations. Additionally, small caterers generally cater a wide range of functions and events. The list includes birthday parties for children, breakfast in bed, candlelight dinners, holiday party, picnics, family reunions, company dinner parties and wedding receptions.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Which Brands and Social Networks Do Teens Think Are Cool?

From MarketingProfs;

US teenagers age 13-17 say YouTube and Netflix are the coolest brands, according to recent research from Think With Google.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted by YouGov in June 2016 of 1,100 people age 13-17 (Generation Z) in the United States. Respondents were asked to rank 122 popular brands on how known they are and how cool they are.

The purpose of this magazine is to provide a glimpse into the world of teens in the US through the lens of what they find cool. Cool is an indication of what people pay attention to, what gets them excited, and can often act as a manifestation of their hope and dreams. Unlike millennials, this group is ambitious, engaged, and feel like they can change the world. For Generation Z, what’s cool is also a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves, their peers, and the brands they hold in the highest regard. What you’re looking at is proprietary research conceived and executed by the Brand Team for Consumer Apps at Google. We hope it serves as glimpse into the minds of the most informed and connected generation yet—Gen Z.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Recidivist Robocaller Settles FTC Telemarketing Complaint

From the FTC:

Justin Ramsey permanently banned from robocalling individuals, calling numbers on the Do Not Call Registry

The FTC has obtained a settlement order with Justin Ramsey, the ringleader of telemarketing operations that blasted illegal robocalls to consumers and called phone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. The order bans Ramsey and his company, Prime Marketing LLC from placing robocalls to individuals to sell goods or services, initiating sales calls to numbers listed on the DNC Registry, and selling data lists containing phone numbers listed on the Registry. This settlement resolves the Federal Trade Commission’s charges against Ramsey.
Ramsey and Prime Marketing also agreed to a $2.2 million civil penalty, which will be suspended upon payment of $65,000. The full judgment will become due if they are later found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
According to the FTC’s January 2017 complaint, in 2012 and 2013 Ramsey and several co-defendants illegally blasted millions of robocalls to consumers and also placed millions of calls to phone numbers listed on the DNC Registry. In just one week in July 2012, the complaint states, the defendants made more than 1.3 million illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide, 80 percent of which were to numbers listed on the DNC Registry.
From 2014 through 2016, Ramsey continued his unlawful telemarketing through his new company, Prime Marketing. Just during April and May of 2016, Ramsey and Prime Marketing initiated at least 800,000 calls to numbers listed on the DNC Registry.
Each of the defendants in the case, except Ramsey and Prime Marketing, settled the Commission’s charges at the same time the agency filed its complaint. If approved by the Court, the settlement with Ramsey and Prime Marketing will resolve all remaining claims in FTC v. Ramsey and conclude the action.
The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the proposed stipulated federal court order settling the charges against Ramsey and Prime Marketing LLC was 2-0. FTC staff filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
NOTE: Stipulated court orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Private Collection of Tax Debts—Here's What You Should Know

From the IRS:

The IRS will begin contacting some taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being transferred to private collection agencies. But watch out for scammers who might claim to be associated with the program to try to steal your money. Keep in mind, the IRS will always send you a letter first before assigning your account to a private collection agency (PCA).

Learn more about this new private debt collection program, including how to avoid tax scams and protect your taxpayer rights.
Starting this month, the Internal Revenue Service will begin sending letters to a relatively small group of taxpayers whose overdue federal tax accounts are being assigned to one of four private-sector collection agencies.
The new program, authorized under a federal law enacted by Congress in December 2015, enables these designated contractors to collect, on the government’s behalf, unpaid tax debts. Usually, these are unpaid individual tax obligations that are not currently being worked by IRS collection employees and often were assessed by the tax agency several years ago.
Taxpayers being assigned to a private firm would have had multiple contacts from the IRS in previous years and still have an unpaid tax bill.
“The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The IRS also urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers who might use this program as a cover to trick people. In reality, those taxpayers whose accounts are assigned as part of the private collection effort know they have a tax debt.”
The program will begin this week with a few hundred taxpayers receiving mailings and subsequent phone calls, with the program growing to thousands a week later in the spring and summer. Taxpayers with overdue taxes will always receive multiple contacts, letters and phone calls, first from the IRS, not private debt collectors.
How the New Program Works
The IRS will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency (PCA). First, the IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and their tax representative informing them that their account is being assigned to a PCA and giving the name and contact information for the PCA. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.
Only four private groups are participating in this program: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; Conserve of Fairport, N.Y.; Performant of Livermore, Calif.; and Pioneer of Horseheads, N.Y. The taxpayer’s account will only be assigned to one of these agencies, never to all four. No other private group is authorized to represent the IRS.
Once the IRS letter is sent, the designated private firm will send its own letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming the account transfer. To protect the taxpayer’s privacy and security, both the IRS letter and the collection firm’s letter will contain information that will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate.
The private collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and like IRS employees, must be courteous and must respect taxpayer rights.
The private firms are authorized to discuss payment options, including setting up payment agreements with taxpayers. But as with cases assigned to IRS employees, any tax payment must be made, either electronically or by check, to the IRS. A payment should never be sent to the private firm or anyone besides the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. Checks should only be made payable to the United States Treasury. To find out more about available payment options, visit
Private firms are not authorized to take enforcement actions against taxpayers. Only IRS employees can take these actions, such as filing a notice of Federal Tax Lien or issuing a levy. To learn more about the new private debt collection program, visit the Private Debt Collection page on
Watch out for Phone Scams
The IRS reminds taxpayers to be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms. The IRS will be watching for these schemes as the collection program begins, and this effort will include working with partners in the tax community and law enforcement about emerging scams.
People should remember that these private collection firms will only be calling about a tax debt the person has had – and has been aware of – for years and had been contacted about previously in the past by the IRS.
“Here’s a simple rule to keep in mind. You won’t get a call from a private collection firm unless you have unpaid tax debts going back several years and you’ve already heard from the IRS multiple times,” Koskinen said. “The people included in the private collection program typically already know they have a tax issue. If you get a call from someone saying they’re from one of these groups and you’ve paid your taxes, that’s a sure sign of a scam.”
If taxpayers are unsure if they have an unpaid tax debt from a previous year – which is what the private collection firms will handle – they can go to and check their account balance: If the account balance says zero, that means nothing is due, and you typically wouldn’t be getting a contact from the IRS or the private firm.
Whether or not a taxpayer’s account is assigned to a private collection agency, the IRS warns taxpayers to beware of scammers pretending to be from the IRS or an IRS contractor. Here are some things the scammers often do but the IRS and its contractors will never do.
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes, and if a case is assigned to a PCA, both the IRS and the authorized collection agency will send the taxpayer a letter. Payment will always be to the United States Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
“Unexpected and threatening calls out of the blue from someone saying they’re representing the IRS to collect a tax debt is a warning sign people should watch out for,” Koskinen said.
For more information, visit the “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” page on

Don’t Wait to Hear from the IRS or a Contractor

As always, the IRS encourages taxpayers behind on their tax obligations to come forward and either pay what they owe or set up a suitable payment plan. This means there’s no need to wait for a phone call or letter from the IRS or any of its contractors.
Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several payment options, and taking advantage of them is often easier than many people think. These include the following:
  • Most people can set up a payment agreement with the IRS online in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months. Taxpayers can choose this option even if they have not yet received a bill or notice from the IRS. With the Online Payment Agreement, no paperwork is required, there is no need to call, write or visit the IRS and qualified taxpayers can avoid the filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien if one was not previously filed. Alternatively, taxpayers can request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465. This form can be downloaded from and mailed along with a tax return, bill or notice.
  • Some struggling taxpayers may qualify for an offer-in-compromise. This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination regarding the taxpayer’s ability to pay. To help determine eligibility, use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier, a free online tool available on
“If people have a problem paying their tax bill, we encourage them to reach out to us,” Koskinen said. “We have many programs designed to help people who are having trouble meeting their tax obligations. It’s better to reach out to us sooner rather than later for help, because interest and penalties on unpaid taxes can add up quickly.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Small-Business Websites Expected to Be as Top-Notch as Large

From eMarketer

Consumers know what they want, and when it comes to visiting a small business’ website, they expect the same experience they would get from a larger chain.

If website visitors don’t get that experience—whether because the site doesn’t provide simple information like an address or business hours, or because it has a poor mobile experience—then they are left with a bad impression.

Best And Worst Crisis Management

From Crisis PR – Top 10 Best and Worst

A reputation is a delicate thing, which can take years to build up and mere moments to sully.
And the way a company communicates with stakeholders and the general public during a crisis can be pivotal in determining whether it bounces back stronger than ever or is irrevocably tarnished by its response to the situation.
Whether it’s adversity towards a product or tragedy, reputation is one of the key elements to business success and companies will work hard to retain one thing from their customers – trust.
See More

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Small Business Payments Toolkit – A Free, Informative Resource

From the Federal Reserve Bank's Business Payments Coalition:

The Business Payments Coalition recently released the third version of its Small Business Payments Toolkit. This document, available as a free download, encourages the adoption of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments by small businesses. Checks are the main way small businesses make B2B payments. This is a problem because checks are expensive, labor-intensive and prone to fraud. Using plain language, the Toolkit educates small businesses on the benefits of using electronic payment types such as Automated Clearing House credits and debits, wire transfers, and credit and debit cards instead of checks. It offers tips on working with bankers and covers what small businesses need to know to get started making and receiving electronic payments. It provides practical information on how to avoid losses due to payments fraud. An extensive resources section has links to additional information.

The Toolkit isn’t just for small businesses. Corporations that want to motivate their smaller trading partners to give up checks, small business bankers, advisors and anyone else interested in learning more about B2B payments and/or helping small businesses improve their payments processing will find it helpful. Visit this link to download this free resource:

The Business Payments Coalition is a group of payments industry participants that conduct volunteer work to fulfill their mission of increasing the efficiency of business-to-business (B2B) payments and promoting straight-through-processing.  New members are always welcome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Best Industries for Starting a Business in 2017

From NerdWallet

This could be the year you decide to stop working for someone else and start your own business. While your individual skills and interests are key to determining what type of venture to pursue, the last thing you want to do is start a business in an industry with a gloomy outlook. Here are five industries with promising futures, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research firm IBISWorld and financial information company Sageworks.

Monday, April 10, 2017

5 Mistakes Made When Starting A Business

From Bplans

It is daunting to start your own business—very daunting. There are a hundred and one things that can go wrong, and inevitably it will the thing that you’re least expecting.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you are starting up a business for the first time, or kicking off your latest venture; it doesn’t get less challenging. This is why advice from people who have gone through something similar can be both hugely helpful and crucially important.

I should know: I have started a few online ventures, the most recent of which has grown into a market-leading VPN site. But the road has not always been a smooth and straightforward one, and I am the first to admit that I have made a few mistakes along the way.

But if reading this helps you to avoid these five simple—yet costly—mistakes, then it will be a few minutes very well spent. So here is my run-down of the five biggest mistakes I made when starting my business (so you don’t have to make them too)

Friday, April 07, 2017

Households spent an average of $528 on pets in 2015

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 2015, households spent an average of $528 on pets, or about 1 percent of average household spending. Pet expenditures include pet food; pet purchases, supplies, and medicine; pet services; and veterinary services. Average household spending on pet food jumped from $190 in 2014 to $230 in 2015, or from 37 percent of average household spending on pets to 44 percent.

Average household spending on veterinary services, which reached over $200 in 2008, was $133 in 2015, or about 25 percent of average household expenditures on pets. Average household spending on pet purchases, supplies, and medicine, which represented 34 percent of average household spending on pets in 2010, measured only 22 percent of pet expenditures in 2015, falling from $163 to $116 over that period.

On average, households with one consumer spent the least on pet expenditures in 2015 ($360), while households with two consumers spent the most ($672). Average household spending on pets by households with two consumers increased by about $100 from 2014 to 2015, while average household spending on pets in households with 5 or more consumers decreased by about $150 over the same period.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Four Ways to Use SIC and NAICS Codes to Boost Marketing Effectiveness

From MarketingProfs:

For over 60 years, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system has served as a widely accepted structure for the analysis of businesses participating in the US economy. Marketers have long looked to the SIC system and its predecessor—the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)—to simplify the processes behind identifying, segmenting, and targeting potential customers and prospects.

But what if you don't have a lot of marketing experience in an industry? Perhaps you are just starting out and need to quickly understand the makeup of your potential customers and prospects, and profile them.

Understanding SIC and NAICS can seem like a daunting task, but having a cursory comprehension of these systems can help you support various marketing activities.

The US Census Bureau assigns one code to each establishment based on its primary activity (generally the activity that generates the most revenue). Classification codes are typically derived from information that business establishments provide on surveys, census forms, and administrative records.

SIC is a four-digit, top-down code: The first two digits of the code sequence define the major industry sector, and the second two digits further refine the sub-classification of that sector.

NAICS is a newer, six-digit version of SIC, first put used in 1997. Though NAICS has largely replaced SIC, some areas of government and business still use SIC codes, so it is important to understand both classification systems.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Top Skills Employers Want

From The Balance:
What skills are most important for companies that are hiring? There are some skills and qualities that employers require of all applicants for employment, regardless of the position they are hiring for.

These are called soft skills, and they include the interpersonal skills and attributes you need to succeed in the workplace.

In addition, there are the more tangible skills you need in order to do the job effectively.

These are called hard skills, and they are the specific knowledge and abilities required to do the job. Here's information on the difference between hard and soft skills.

You’ll need both for most jobs, and it's important to show employers that you have the skills they need when you're applying and interviewing for jobs.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

U.S. House Committee on Small Business Hearing April 5

Don't Miss U.S. House Committee on Small Business Hearing, "Taking Care of Small Business: Working Together for a Better SBA"

Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 11 am EDT

Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator will appear in front of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business. The hearing titled, "Taking Care of Small Business: Working Together for a Better SBA" is scheduled to begin at 11:00 A.M. on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Honorable Linda McMahon was sworn in on February 14, 2017 as the 25th Administrator of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). From 1980 to 2009, Administrator McMahon was active in her family's company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., eventually becoming President and Chief Executive Officer. WWE began as a small regional company and grew into a large, global business. The Committee will hear from Administrator McMahon about her priorities for entrepreneurs and the SBA.

To view hearing click here.

Updated County Profiles for NYS

Cornell Program on Applied Demographics has updated the series of county profiles it published a few years ago. PAD got many requests for an update and finally, it is here.

This update consists mainly of updated data, but also includes some changes in charts and tables. PAD also decided to concentrate on Demographic, Social and Economic data in this update and not update the agricultural and related data that was in the 2013 version.

The updated profiles can be found here.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Automation: Taking or Changing Jobs?

From the American Institute for Economic Research:

In March 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made headlines by saying that the displacement of jobs by artificial intelligence was “not even on our radar screen … 50-100 more years” away.

This drew a host of shocked responses from those who point out that AI and automation have already eliminated millions of American jobs and may replace many more in the next 5 or 10 years, let alone 50–100. In fairness to the secretary, his comment responded directly to a question about artificial intelligence. In the broader discussion, he spoke about low-paying jobs being replaced by automation, which many of the critiques consider together with artificial intelligence.

The impact of automation is of unquestionable importance: One report released on the same day as Secretary Mnuchin’s comments suggested that 38 percent of U.S. jobs are at “high risk” of automation in the next 20 years.

Friday, March 31, 2017

What Should All Entrepreneurs Know Before Starting A Business?

From Entrepreneur:

By Brandon Turner, Real Estate Investor and Co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast!

Starting a business is exciting -- and scary.

I've started more businesses than I'd care to admit. In my experience, it's a bit like driving through a heavy fog where you are only able to see a few feet in front of the windshield -- you don't know what's up ahead until it's upon you. However, the longer you are an entrepreneur, the better you can navigate through that fog.

As I've been driving through the fog for over a decade now, I thought I would take today's post and boil down 15 of the biggest lessons I've learned over the past decade of building and growing businesses. Consider these tips "stuff I wish I had known when I was young and stupid."

From Forbes:

By Nicole Robinson, CEO, Gloss and Glam.

Starting my company Gloss and Glam was the best thing I ever did. But before I opened my business, I spent countless hours speaking to lawyers, accountants, and other entrepreneurs trying to figure out next steps. Save yourself countless hours -- and the possible headache of making a huge foundational mistake -- by getting these five things straight before you start up

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Email Design Trends: Past, Present, and Future [Infographic]

From MarketProfs:

Email has come a long way from rich-text messages and hidden images, and today some emails are works of art. They contain animated gifs and they're responsive by device. So if that's the present, what does the future of email design look like?

The folks at EmailMonks took a stab at answering that question in an infographic that looks at email design trends over the past year and predicts what we can expect to see as 2017 moves along.

Some throwbacks from 2016 that we're continuing to see are lightweight animated gifs in emails, flat design, and design that builds suspense as the user scrolls on a mobile.

Last year also gave us some technical updates to email, such as how emails render in Gmail, and iOS 10's allowing embedded video, the infographic explains.

Moving forward, EmailMonks predicts, we'll be seeing...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Millennials aren’t coddled—they just reject abuse as a management tactic

From Daily Inequality:
Younger employees keep getting stereotyped as insecure and needy - perhaps the rest of us need to reconsider why we find it normal for bosses to be jerks

Recently, the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine circulated a video meant to make its instructors aware of "student mistreatment." With a minor-chord piano medley providing the soundtrack, viewers were asked to avoid putting students on the spot with questions, to minimize "cold and clinical" interactions, and to cultivate "safe" learning environments for the young residents.

It seems a little like something created by The Onion, but the video was sincere, and its message will be familiar to a lot of employers dealing with people in their 20s. For many who remember what business was like pre-Internet, millennials seem an appallingly sensitive lot, having been protected from the vagaries of the world by helicopter parents, trigger warnings and—to especially cynical critics—sheer narcissism. "Aren’t young people coddled?" is now as safe an icebreaker as, "Did you see last night’s Seinfeld?" would have been 20 years ago.

It’s a stereotypical view and, of course, an incomplete one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Are We Ever Really in Equilibrium?

From AIER:

One mistake made frequently by economists is to focus on the destination rather than the journey. We like setting two sides of an equation equal, solving for a variable and focusing on that neat and tidy result.

But a little common sense shows that even the most canonical equation in the field, “supply equals demand,” requires a process to become true. Firms don’t know the magical market clearing price, they must experiment to find it, and every time there’s a shock an adjustment process must ensue. If shocks are frequent enough, that process would never end—a complex real-world economy might be all journey and no destination.

Alexander Salter has an interesting post at the Sound Money Project about nominal versus real interest rates that echoes the scenario above. Economists like to think central banks can only influence real variables in the short-run.

Monday, March 27, 2017

There Is One Thing that Would Help Make Mobile Purchasing Easier

From eMarketer:

What’s stopping mobile users from making purchases on their phones? Unfortunately, the solution is out of the hands of retailers.

For one thing, the screens are too darn small.

That was one of the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey conducted in September 2016. The data was part of a UK-focused report that compared consumer usage and attitudes in the UK with those in China and the US.

According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, some 147.3 million people in the US will use a mobile device to make a purchase this year. That works out to slightly more than 55% of all mobile phone users.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

FTC Charges Online Marketing Scheme with Deceiving Shoppers

From the Federal Trade Commission:

“Free” and “risk-free” trials come with hidden charges

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a group of online marketers with deceptively luring consumers with “free” and “risk-free” trials for cooking gadgets, golf equipment, and access to related online subscription services.

According to the FTC, the defendants asked people for their credit card information to cover shipping and handling, and then charged them for products and services without their consent. The FTC’s complaint alleges that Brian Bernheim, Joshua Bernheim, Jared Coates, Robert Koch AAFE Products Corp., JBE International LLC, BSDC Inc., KADC Inc., Purestrike Inc., and BNRI Corp., formerly known as Bernheim and Rice Inc., violated the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

According to the complaint, the defendants’ websites, TV infomercials and email deceived consumers by prominently claiming that their products and services were free, without clearly disclosing that they would start charging consumers if they did not cancel their “free trial” or return the “free” products. They also misrepresented their return, refund and cancellation policies. Specifically, they buried these terms in pages of fine print that people could reach only through a tiny hyperlink.

During the purchase process, the defendants signed consumers up for more “free” trials after forcing them to click through as many as 14 upsell pages to reach a final confirmation page. According to the complaint, many of those pages included poorly disclosed, or undisclosed, additional “free trials” that resulted in yet more unauthorized charges.

The defendants marketed their products under various company names, including Kitchen Advance, Gourmet Cooking Online, Gourmet Cooking Rewards, Medicus Golf, Kick X Tour Z Golf Balls, Golf Online Academy, Golf Tour Partners and Purestrike Swing Clinic.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Common IT Wisdom That Keeps You Secure

Re-posted from the NYS Enterprise Information Security Office's March 2017 Newsletter.  

View more of their great newsletter topics here

From the Desk of Thomas F. Duffy, Chair

Day in and day out, employees hear the same things from their IT staff about cybersecurity and safety. Though they may sound like a broken record, there are very important reasons and rationale behind these practices and advice. Keeping safe and secure while connected isn't just about how your system is set up - it is also very much about how you end up using it. Below, we discuss some common IT staff wisdom and provide some background information and the rationale as to why it definitely merits your attention.
Make sure you lock your screen when you are away from your desk:

Screen locking policies exist for a reason. Even if you are leaving for just a few minutes at a time, be sure to lock your screen. Though physical intruders are rare during daytime and in conventionally secured offices, intrusions do occasionally happen. Screen locks also thwart opportunistic insider attacks from other employees that may seek to obtain information or access information beyond what they should normally have. If you don’t adhere to a screen locking policy, an attacker can simply walk up and start manipulating or stealing your information without having to even work at getting in to your system. And remember, you are ultimately responsible for everything done under your login!

Don’t write down your passwords or user credentials:

The same concept applies here as in establishing a screen lock on your system. On the rare occasion a

Thursday, March 23, 2017

YouTube Losing Major Advertisers Upset with Videos

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — AT&T, Verizon and several other major advertisers are suspending their marketing campaigns on Google's YouTube site after discovering their brands have been appearing alongside videos promoting terrorism and other unsavory subjects.

The spreading boycott confronts Google with a challenge that threatens to cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

YouTube's popularity stems from its massive and eclectic library of video, spanning everything from polished TV clips to raw diatribes posted by people bashing homosexuals.

But that diverse selection periodically allows ads to appear next to videos that marketers find distasteful, despite Google's efforts to prevent it from happening.

From: Fox Business News

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute

From the New York Times:

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down [last week], was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million.

In 2014, three truck drivers sued Oakhurst Dairy, seeking more than four years’ worth of overtime pay that they had been denied. Maine law requires workers to be paid 1.5 times their normal rate for each hour worked after 40 hours, but it carves out some exemptions.

A quick punctuation lesson before we proceed: In a list of three or more items — like "beans, potatoes and rice" — some people would put a comma after potatoes, and some would leave it out. A lot of people feel very, very strongly about it.

The debate over commas is often a pretty inconsequential one, but it was anything but for the truck drivers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NYSBDC to Celebrate Inaugural SBDC Day March 22, 2017

The New York SBDC will join other SBDC centers across nation in celebrating the first annual SBDC Day on March 22. SBDC Day is a national recognition movement to share the small business success stories and notable impacts SBDCs have fostered in communities nationwide. Clients, guests, and prospective entrepreneurs are encouraged to stop by NYSBDC locations to meet the staff and learn more about the SBDC.

Since 1980, America’s SBDCs—the nation’s largest small business and entrepreneurial assistance network—have helped aspiring and emerging small business owners achieve the American dream of entrepreneurship. SBDC Day will celebrate the collective impact and success SBDCs have across the nation and in local communities each year.

With nearly 1,000 locations across the country, SBDCs provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources needed to succeed. In 2016, America’s SBDCs provided 1.3 million hours of consulting to 192,205 client businesses, resulting in 100,233 jobs created; $6.9 billion in sales growth; $4.6 billion in capital investments; and 17,864 new businesses started.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Difference Between Cash and Profits

From Bplans

Although cash is critical, people think in profits instead of cash. We all do.

When you imagine a new business, you think of what it would cost to make the product, what you could sell it for, and what the profits per unit might be. We are trained to think of business as sales minus costs and expenses, which is profits.

However, we don’t spend the profits in a business. We spend cash. Profitable companies go broke because they had all their money tied up in assets and couldn’t pay their expenses. Working capital is critical to business health.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the cash implications as clearly as we should, which is one of the best reasons for proper business planning. We have to manage cash as well as profits.

Friday, March 17, 2017

2015 Annual Retail Trade Survey

From the Census Bureau:

This report provides national estimates of total annual sales, e-commerce sales, end-of-year inventories, purchases, total operating expenses, inventories held outside the United States, gross margins, and end-of-year accounts receivable for retail businesses and annual sales, total operating expenses, and e-commerce sales for accommodation and food service firms located in the United States.
The Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) sample covers employer businesses classified in retail trade sector and accommodation & food services sector located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ARTS excludes data for businesses located in the U.S. territories. The data are published on a North American Industry Classification Systembasis and the estimates are used to benchmark the monthly retail sales and inventories estimates each spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

FTC Offers Tips for Businesses Impersonated as part of a Phishing Scam

From the Federal Trade Commission:

Think consumers are the only ones harmed by phishing scams? It’s not just a problem for computer users but also for the businesses that the scammers are impersonating. And people who have been scammed may look to the business that was impersonated for help.
The Federal Trade Commission has long provided advice to consumers about steps they can take to avoid phishing scams. The FTC has released tips and a video for businesses on how to respond if they are impersonated as part of a phishing scam. Among the steps businesses should take include notifying customers as soon as possible through social media, email or letters; contacting law enforcement; providing resources for affected consumers; and reviewing the company’s security practices.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When Do You Really Need Insurance for Your Business?

From BPlans

As an entrepreneur, you know that not every part of the job is glamorous.

Buying insurance can feel like a hassle, but if you invest in finding the right policies now, you’ll save yourself from potential legal headaches and unexpected costs down the road. You probably have a lot of questions surrounding what specific risks different types of coverage actually protect against, and whether or not they apply to your business.

When it comes to insuring your business, factors like your location, industry, and the number of employees can all affect what coverages are applicable. To ensure your new business is protected in any scenario, here’s a list of common business insurance policies that may apply, and how they actually work for you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Retailers: Brace for a New Wave of Generational Disruption

From eMarketer

Retailers, still struggling to adjust to millennial shopping preferences, face a new wave of disruption from the youngest millennials, with Gen Z in their wake.

While there are some similarities between the youngest millennials and their older predecessors, there are also distinct differences, according to an Accenture survey of nearly 10,000 consumers ages 18 to 37 across 13 countries. For instance, while Facebook remains the most popular social platform for both younger (21-27) and older (28-37) millennials, YouTube is actually the most regularly used social media platform among the very youngest group, those 20 and under.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the younger shoppers said they regularly use Instagram, compared with only 40% of the older ones. Echoing other survey findings, the study found the younger group was twice as likely as the older millennials to use Snapchat.

Why does their social media preference matter?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Here's How to REALLY Prove Marketing's Value

From MarketingProfs

Research published in AdAge at the end of 2016 helped decode today's five CMO priorities. Two of those priorities fell squarely into the domain of marketing performance management (MPM). The first priority was measurement. However, the study revealed that not just any kind of measurement will do: To be effective, you need to be able to measure Marketing's impact. The second priority was the need to do a better job of justifying Marketing investments.

AdAge was not alone in shining a light on those CMO priorities. The trend toward more compelling measurements of value were reflected in a Chief Marketer article that identified six trends for 2017, three of which included some type of measurement: cross-channel measurement, more sophisticated marketing measurement, and real-time attribution.

And a Forbes article predicted that 2017 is the year Agile Marketing will be taken more seriously. Why? Because "agile marketing results in a measurable improvement in marketing performance."

In another instance, Steven Wastie, CMO of Origami Logic, wrote that "2017 will the year of data and measurement.... Marketers will be under more pressure than ever before to prove accountability."

Perhaps you see the pattern emerging: For today's marketers, the challenge really isn't measurement; there is an abundance of metrics. The challenge is measuring Marketing's value and performance.