Friday, March 30, 2018

How Do Different Age Groups Consume Online Content?

 Obtained From: MarketingProfs

When planning a website for your business, half the battle is won if you can successfully identify your target audience: You can better customize your website to meet your audience's needs when you have a clear idea of who your prospective consumers are.

But what do those visitors want, exactly, and how do those wants differ by age?
In its infographic on generational marketing, custom writing service Handmadewritings examines what online content different age groups prefer.

The graphic is based on several research reports and studies, and it offers insights that you might consider factoring into your marketing strategies and analysis as you plan efforts to reach the six major consumer generations in the US.

To learn more about the various generations and understand where you might need to tweak your website and content to attract more visitors and improve customer engagement, check out the graphic.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Page Fitness

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Watertown SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report


Jamie Wood 
Page Fitness
Watertown SBDC

Jamie Wood is the proud owner of Page Fitness, located in downtown Watertown. Page Fitness has been internationally recognized by Woman’s Fitness magazine as a World Fitness Elite Game Changer, and was named Fitness Business of the year for North America by Net Profit Explosion for providing exceptional results in Canada and the United States. The Page Fitness program is centered on individuals who are looking to lose 10-50 pounds and interested in living a healthier lifestyle. 
Page Fitness was founded by Jessica and Christopher Page in 2009 and Jamie was hired as their first physical trainer. Jamie is certified in Hardstyle Kettlebell, Crossfit Gymnastics, Crossfit Olympic Lifting and LesMills. In 2015, when the Pages decided to sell the business, Jamie was committed to taking it over and expanding on its success. Today, business is thriving and sales are up 30%. Jamie has a $683,300 investment into the business including funding from Watertown Local Development Corporation, Watertown Savings Bank and the U.S. Small Business Association. 
Currently Jamie employs 13 trainers and staff. Jamie relocated the center to a more centrally located area with an open floor plan that was better suited for his programs. The new location has proven to be more economically feasible. Jamie lowered the price point to broaden his target market, increased the amount of time per session a client receives, and added more value to the training and nutrition packages. “The Small Business Development Center was instrumental in helping me become a business owner,” he says. “They walked me through every step and provided expert guidance throughout a complicated and sometimes difficult experience.” 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A New Tax Scam, and Tips on How to Deal With It

Obtained From: New York Times

If you weren’t expecting an income tax refund but discover a big deposit from the Internal Revenue Service in your bank account, don’t be quick to celebrate. You may have been the target of a clever new scam.

The latest twist in tax-time identity fraud involves thieves who pilfer personal and financial information, often from professional tax preparers. They then use those details to file fake tax returns and have refunds — sometimes as large as $20,000 — sent electronically to your account with plans to collect it later.

 The I.R.S. initially warned about the scam on Feb. 2, urging tax professionals to “step up security and beware of phishing emails that can secretly download malicious software that can help cybercriminals steal client data.”

Monday, March 26, 2018

Submit New FOIL Request

From Open FOIL NY

Open FOIL NY provides a convenient, centralized location to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to more than 50 New York State executive agencies and authorities.

You can easily select a specific agency and submit a FOIL request. If the entity you seek is not listed, please access the New York State All Agencies website for more information.

If you seek records from the following agencies, please visit their website before completing the web form, as certain records may be produced pursuant to a different statute, may require additional documentation or coordination, or have different fees:
Department of Financial Services
Department of Health
Department of Labor
Department of Motor Vehicles
Department of Taxation and Finance
Division of Military & Naval Affairs
Higher Education Services Corporation
Homes and Community Renewal
New York State Insurance Fund
New York State Police

For more information about FOIL, please visit the following links:

The New York State Public Officers Law, Article 6, Sections 84-90

Regulations of the Committee on Open Government, 21 NYCRR Part 1401

Saturday, March 24, 2018

FTC Action Halts a Large Deceptive Business Opportunity Scheme

Obtained From: Federal Trade Comission

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a business opportunity scheme with falsely claiming that people who buy the defendants’ expensive “Amazing Wealth System” will learn “secrets for making money on Amazon” and likely earn thousands of dollars a month.
According to the FTC, the defendants, who have no affiliation with Amazon.com, have made false or unsubstantiated earnings claims, such as, “Get started on Amazon and Make $5,000-$10,000 in the next 30 days. . . even if you have never sold anything online before.”  They charge from $995 to more than $35,000 for a purported exclusive “plug-and-play system” that allows consumers to create a profitable online business selling products on Amazon.com.
Contrary to the defendants’ promises, most, if not virtually all, purchasers do not earn the advertised income. Many of the strategies and techniques included in the “system,” such as posting fake product reviews, are deceptive and violate Amazon.com’s rules. As a result, purchasers who deploy the defendants’ system often experience problems with their Amazon stores, including suspension and the loss of their ability to sell on Amazon.com.
The court has appointed a temporary receiver over the corporate defendants, barred the defendants from making deceptive marketing claims, and frozen their assets pending resolution of the FTC’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The FTC seeks to end the alleged illegal practices and obtain money for return to injured consumers.
The defendants are AWS LLC, FBA Distributors LLC, FBA Stores LLC, Info Pros LLC, Online Auction Learning Center Inc. (Massachusetts), Online Auction Learning Center Inc. (Nevada), Christopher F. Bowser, Adam S. Bowser, and Jody Marshall. They are charged with violating the FTC Act and the Business Opportunity Rule.
The Commission vote approving the complaint was 2-0. The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on March 14, 2018.
This case was brought with the invaluable assistance of the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, Utah Division of Consumer Protection, Utah County Attorney’s Office (Bureau of Investigations), Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Lindon City Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, and Amazon.com, Inc.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Brilliant Role Libraries Play in Supporting Entrepreneurs

From Medium

Dear budding entrepreneur:

Your local library is one of the most powerful tools you have to launch a successful business. As EveryLibrary writes, “Librarians can serve as an extension of your staff and will help you harness the power of these resources to grow your business.”

Sometimes misidentified as repositories for dusty books, today’s libraries are actually cutting edge information hubs designed to help people get the resources, materials and connections they need, whether for work, school, pleasure or all of the above.

Library staffers and resource librarians are some of the smartest folks around — and they’re on a mission to help you get information.

If you’re an entrepreneur, an established business owner, or just thinking about starting a business, head down to your local library. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the role the library staff and resources can play in helping you start and grow a business. Here are just a few ways libraries support entrepreneurs.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Online Buying Fraud on the Rise

Obtained from: eMarketer


If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Online buying scams were the biggest type of consumer fraud in 2017, according to the Better Business Bureau's (BBB's) annual scam-tracking report—up from fourth place a year earlier. The rise of digital shopping and growing comfort with sharing personal information online are factors in this growing category of fraud.

At its most basic, consumers pay for something they never receive, which according to the BBB involves pets and clothing more than other types of online purchases. Most cases involve credit card payments.

The report broke down susceptibility and loss by age, and very clear patterns emerged.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Google Drive How to Organize Files that are Shared with Me





We've recently moved to using Google Drive to share folders of research. For some of our advisors and clients, this may be quite different to how they've worked before. Maybe you've used Google Drive for your own folders and files but have not shared files before. This video can help you navigate Drive, move files and folders to your own library.



This is another video with tips on how to organize and search your folders.



Add files to "My Drive"

If you want to organize shared files, add them to "My Drive."
  1. Go to drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Shared with me.
  3. Click the files or folders you want to add to your drive.
  4. In the top right, click Add to my Drive Add to My Drive.
  5. Click Organize.
  6. Choose the folder you want to add to.
  7. Click Move here.


To download files to your PC, there are 2 options:


Download as zip: 
  • On drive.google.com, right-click the folder and choose "Download"... This will download one zip file with all files in it. You can then open them with the application or program associated with the file. 
    • Our spreadsheets are all in Excel but may not open directly in Drive. Download the file to your desired location or Downloads
    • Open Excel and locate the file to open.
OR
  • Check the checkbox in front of one or more folders, choose "More" then "Download..."

Sync the files to your computer using the google drive client app:
  • Install the google drive app on your computer
  • On drive.google.com, drag the folder shared with you from "Shared with me" to "My Drive"
  • Now all the files should automatically appear on the "Google Drive" folder on your computer


Small Business Success Story - Port of Egypt

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Stony Brook SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

The Lieblein Family 
Port of Egypt
Stony Brook SBDC

Port of Egypt, located on Southold Bay, is a full-service marina offering boaters a wide range of amenities including boat service, parts, storage, and dockage, and is well known for carrying the prestigious brand of Grady-White boats. Family owned and operated with 10 employees, the company was founded in 1946 by the Lieblein family. Katie Sepenoski, a member of the family, is the Operations Manager and has run the business since 2003.
Katie worked tirelessly with the Stony Brook SBDC to submit an application to the New York Rising program after Super Storm Sandy. The business experienced flooding, wind damage and an extended power outage when the hurricane hit and there was substantial damage to the property, buildings and docks. The business was awarded an initial grant of $89,632 in June 2014 to offset some of the storm-related costs. While the existing dockage system had withstood many storms in the past, it was necessary to make improvements to withstand future storm surges. 
In 2015, a year after the initial application was awarded, Advisor Gifty Oduro-Ostrander discussed with Katie the possibility of applying for mitigation assistance under a separate category of the NY Rising program to cover the cost of hardening the docks. Katie worked with the SBDC to complete the application and the company was awarded $100,000 for mitigation and $10,367 for other eligible expenses in July 2016. The business has received the maximum assistance possible under the New York Rising program - $200,000 to date. Now that the business and site have returned to normal, Katie continues to work with the SBDC for continuing business advice and support.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to Put Employees First in the Customer Experience, and Why You Should

Obtained from: MarketingProfs

At many companies, the frontline of customer experience—the contact center—isn't meeting customer expectations. Although brands are adopting new technologies to better interact with customers and understand their wants and needs, the answer to delivering the right experience may be simpler than that.
At the very core of customer experience is human interaction, so to truly see return on customer experience investments, brands should invest in their most valuable assets: agents in the contact center.
According to new research from Calabrio, customer demands are increasingly complex, the number of inquiries are swelling to new levels, and agents feel ill-equipped to solve the ever-growing list of customer requests.
There's a lot riding on agent interactions, and the lack of support has many representatives feeling stressed out, abandoned, and stuck in a pressure cooker of expectation. The effects of a burned out contact center workforce can be devastating: 82% of people have stopped doing business with companies because of poor customer experience.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Credits vs. Deductions

Obtained from: IRS

Learning the A-Zs of taxes seems overwhelming. But with a little planning, research, and attention to detail, it can be easier than you think. Credits and deductions are an important part of the process—though sometimes it's difficult to tell them apart. 

You subtract tax credits from the amount of tax you owe. There are two types of tax credits:
  • A nonrefundable tax credit means you get a refund only up to the amount you owe.
  • A refundable tax credit means you get a refund, even if it's more than what you owe.
An example is the Child Tax Credit.

You subtract tax deductions from your income before you figure the amount of tax you owe. Deductions, such as the Tuition and Fees Deduction for qualified education expenses, can help lower the amount of your taxable income

Friday, March 16, 2018

Peer-To-Peer Payment Apps Can Be Risky

From the Federal Trade Commission:

Online peer-to-peer, or P2P, payment systems let you send money to people quickly...

The use of these services is a growing trend... estimates [suggest] there will be more than $700 billion in peer-to-peer payments in the U.S. in 2018. There are several mobile peer-to-peer apps out there already and banks are also getting into the game. If you use a peer-to-peer payment system, here are some tips to keep in mind.

*In many apps, when you receive a payment, the money is added to your P2P system balance. It’ll remain there until you transfer it to your bank account or use it for another transaction within the system. If you transfer the balance to your bank account, confirm that the deposit went through. The transfer could take a few days or even longer if it’s flagged for additional review.

*Scammers try to get you to pay them in many different ways—including by sending money online—so make sure you know who you’re sending money to. If you use the service to receive money from someone you don’t know personally—maybe as payment for tickets to a concert or a game, or for an item you’re selling—transfer the money to your bank account and make sure the money is there before you send any goods. Read the terms of service if you’re not sure if these kinds of transactions are permitted on the service you use.

*Peer-to-peer payment systems require access to your financial information, so check your account settings to see if you can enable additional security measures that aren’t on by default. Consider turning on multi-factor authentication, requiring a PIN, or using fingerprint recognition like Touch ID.

*Some systems or apps might share information about your transactions on social media. Check social media permissions or settings—some may be set to share your information with everyone by default. Adjust your settings based on what you’re comfortable sharing.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

US Consumers Shrug Off (Some) of Their Spending Worries

Obtained from: eMarketer

One of the most significant changes is that, as the global financial crisis recedes in memory, consumers tend to be less focused on saving. In 2010, 70% of respondents said they were increasingly looking for ways to save money. That number has gradually dwindled down to a low of 40%. 
The McKinsey survey also probed attitudes among those who said their buying behavior changed last year. It found that there was a rough split between those who said they tended to have shifted toward purchasing private-label or less-expensive brands, and those who said they had tended to trade up to more expensive purchases.
The results indicate more buoyant spending patterns than some other recent surveys. For instance, an IRI survey from Q3 2017 found that 65% of US internet users said they anticipated purchasing more private-label products in the future.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Nunzio's Pizzeria & Restaurant

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Staten Island SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Robert Whiteaker 
Nunzio's Pizzeria & Restaurant
Staten Island SBDC

Robert Whiteaker, owner of Nunzio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, has been a Staten Island SBDC client since January 2013. The family owned restaurant known for its Italian cuisine began as a beachside concession in the 1940’s and moved to its current location in 1960. Nunzio’s Pizzeria has been a legacy in Robert’s family for four generations and was an inspiration for other small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The business was severely impacted by the storm with floods over four feet of water throughout the entire restaurant, but Robert and his family were determined to rebuild after the storm. 
Working with Robert to secure an SBA disaster loan, SBDC Advisor George Telmany spent numerous sessions to provide business strategies in an effort to rebuild and reopen the business. The SBA disaster loan was instrumental in their efforts to rebuild the restaurant after the storm. George continues to work with Robert on marketing strategies and ways to promote the neighborhood name. For the past two years, Nunzio’s Pizzeria has hosted visiting MBA Chinese students during tours of Staten Island to learn about small business in NYC. “Without the help of the SBDC, I would have lost my business after Superstorm Sandy,” says Robert, “I’m very thankful for all of their help.” 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Restaurant servers talk about the harassment they endure.

From the New York Times

The balancing act plays out every day in restaurants across America: Servers who rely on tips decide where to draw the line when a customer goes too far.

They ignore comments about their bodies, laugh off proposals for dates and deflect behavior that makes them uncomfortable or angry — all in pursuit of the $2 or $20 tip that will help buy groceries or pay the rent.

There was the young server at a burger joint in Georgia whose customer held her tip money in his hand and said, “So you gonna give me your number?” She wrote it down but changed one of the digits.

There was the waitress in Portland, Oregon who swallowed her anger when a man patted his lap and beckoned her to sit, saying, "I’m a great tipper."

"You can’t just say, 'No, don’t talk to me that way,' or else you won’t get a tip."

Monday, March 12, 2018

11 tax deductions and other ways to cut your 2017 tax bill

Obtained from: Pix11

With all the talk about the new federal tax law that went into effect in January, it’s easy to forget about the old one.
But it’s the old tax code that governs the deductions, credits and other measures you can use to save money on your 2017 tax return due in April.
In fact, it may be your last chance to use some of them since the new law eliminated many.
[In the linked article] are 11 deductions and other tax-trimming measures you shouldn’t overlook:

Friday, March 09, 2018

Census Bureau Economic Surveys

Watch Repair 300x600]
Census Bureau Economic Surveys are a key source for official statistics companies can use:

Monthly and Quarterly are small sample surveys that provide the most TIMELY data available

Annual surveys have larger samples and provide the most up-to-date TREND data available

Every 5 years, the Economic Census measures all businesses and provides the most COMPREHENSIVE data available - Economic Census: Meet James (video)

The form for the Economic Census 2017 is coming this spring electronically

These surveys set the standard for U.S. economic statistics, and are fueled by the data provided by individual businesses

Thursday, March 08, 2018

White House wades into SCOTUS online sales tax case

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Trump administration on Monday urged the Supreme Court to expand states’ authority to collect sales tax on internet transactions, joining a chorus of state officials seeking to overrule a 1992 precedent exempting many online retailers from having to add taxes to a consumer’s final price.

In 1992, the justices “did not and could not anticipate the development of modern e-commerce,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a friend-of the-court brief. “In light of internet retailers’ pervasive and continuous virtual presence in the states where their websites are accessible, the states have ample authority to require those retailers to collect state sales taxes owed by their customers.”

South Dakota is leading a charge to overrule 1992 case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, with arguments scheduled next month. Some 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as organizations representing retailers from booksellers to shopping malls, have filed briefs supporting South Dakota’s position. Catalog mailers and online retailers have opposed the state, arguing that it is too burdensome for many businesses to comply with 50 or more separate state taxing regimes.

The 1992 case held that constitutional provisions assigning Congress authority over interstate commerce prohibited states from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes without congressional assent. While consumers remain obligated to pay sales tax, few know of this duty and fewer still voluntarily comply, robbing state treasuries of billions of dollars, officials say.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Infrastructure Unlimited, Inc.

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Rockland SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report


Gloria Lovece 
Infrastructure Unlimited, Inc.
Rockland SBDC

Gloria Lovece is President of Infrastructure Unlimited Inc., the construction company, she started with her two brothers. The company specializes in the installation and remediation of public infrastructure - notably bridges, railroads and power lines. Her company is a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in NY and NJ with certification pending in Ohio. 
In a male dominated industry, she has worked very hard to overcome many obstacles, including the hydrocephalus that took her father. In addition to taking her father’s life, the disease caused the decline and eventual closure of the family’s construction business and all who worked there lost their jobs - Gloria and her brothers included. Rather than work for another firm, Gloria decided to start her own construction business and convinced her brothers to join her. 
As a startup, Infrastructure Unlimited was awarded its first contract (as a non-DBE prime) sealing 28 bridge decks on interstate highways with heavy traffic and finished the project ahead of schedule. Gloria worked with the SBDC to find additional capital to fund her continued growth and to navigate the process of DBA certification. SBDC Advisor Adi Israeli worked with Gloria to develop the business plans, SBA forms and loan packaging necessary for Gloria’s firm to receive a $375,000 SBA guaranteed loan from M&T Bank. Combined with an additional $355,000 Gloria has invested in cash and equipment the company has grown yet again adding three new full-time positions and bidding on more and larger projects. As an entrepreneur, Gloria is fulfilling her childhood dream of having a company where women and minorities are welcome and able to thrive. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

SBDC Day is Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

From America's SBDC:

SBDC Day is a national, collective proclamation of the success and the impact America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have across the nation in economic development and the small businesses community. America’s SBDC Day will take place on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

SBDC Day will unite the nearly 1,000 SBDC centers across the country and the hundreds of thousands of clients they serve by sharing, in real time, the success stories and notable impacts SBDCs collectively have on the small business community at large. This special day will be celebrated with social media campaigns, public relations initiatives, online and in-person events and more. To learn more about what your local SBDC is doing to celebrate, click on Find your local SBDC.

America's SBDC has developed a national SBDC Day Ambassador program, so that all of America's SBDC partners, supporters and stakeholders can collectively show their support for SBDC Day. All national SBDC Ambassadors will be recognized on the SBDC Day webpage, in SBDC Day collateral and in email communications including a national press release. The deadline for the 2018 SBDC Day Ambassador Program is Friday, March 16th, 2018.

Special SBDC Day Webinar – Digital Marketing Trends for Small Businesses in 2018, March 21, 2018 at 2 PM ET. Entrepreneurs start with a dream. Through hard work, innovation, and determination, they turn that dream into a small business. Register now!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Small Business Loans & Other Financing Options for Women

From Lendedu:

Being a female entrepreneur can come with its challenges.

On top of building a business, many women business owners juggle numerous responsibilities like family or caregiving commitments.

For these reasons, running a business as a woman can feel sometimes like you’re Ginger Rogers, who famously said that she had to do everything Fred Astaire did – except backwards and in heels.

Fortunately, some organizations have realized the added difficulties women entrepreneurs can face in finding funding and have set up grants and investment opportunities specifically for female business owners. There are also several traditional funding opportunities you can access.

This guide can help you navigate the different types of programs that want to give you money to help you grow your business.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Maria Contreras-Sweet, former SBA head, buys Weinstein Co

From the Huffington Post

A group of investors led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who ran the Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama, reached a deal to buy The Weinstein Company, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman confirmed.

“Our office will support a deal that ensures victims will be adequately compensated, employees will be protected moving forward, and those who were responsible for misconduct at TWC will not be unjustly rewarded,” Schneidermann said in a statement.

Contreras-Sweet and her backers, including billionaire investor Ronald Burkle, bid $500 million on the film production company, which included assuming $225 million worth of debt, according to Variety. The deal, which Schneiderman said was reached Thursday, also features an $80-million compensation fund for victims of Weinstein’s harassment and abuse...

Contreras-Sweet, a Hollywood outsider and Mexican-American immigrant, reportedly plans to keep the studio’s employees, projects and assets. But she intends to give the company a new name, according to multiple media outlets.

See also the Reuters story.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Ways to Keep Your Website Relevant in 2018

Obtained from:MarketingProfs


Welcome to 2018, the year you need to update your website's look and functionality for two business-critical reasons: legal compliance and user respect and trust.


The latter is probably long overdue and has been hindering conversions; the former, a long time coming, is looking to become an immediate concern.
The problem? Businesses that set up a website many years ago and have done few, if any, modifications since. They may have updated to integrate new forms of payment or to manage inventory in a more timely manner, but that's usually the extent of it. If that describes your business, then your site is doing a disservice to your business and your customers—and, potentially, your bottom line, because they are non-compliant at a time of looming enforcement of standards and legislation.
* * *
These are all but the tip of the iceberg of changes that are coming to Web design in the very near future. Voice-command integration, engaging micro-interactions, and progressive Web apps are also on the horizon, which elicits the bigger question: Is your website management adequate for dealing with this anticipated sea change?
This may very well be the year you'll need to address the large issue of website development.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Will small businesses benefit from the new tax law?

From PBS:

Since President Donald Trump signed the American Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December, large corporations have made headlines by giving bonuses to employees and raising wages. But much less attention has been paid to small businesses, even though experts believe they stand to benefit significantly from the new tax law...

Three main changes to the tax law will likely help small businesses...: lower individual tax rates, an additional 20 percent deduction for companies filing as pass-through entities, and an expansion of Section 179 filing, which allows for expensing of business-related equipment.

Of course, not all aspects of the tax law will be advantageous to small businesses. For example, the law’s elimination of many deductions — including for certain business expenses like travel costs and membership dues for professional organizations — may incentivize employees to work for larger companies that can afford to absorb those costs.