Monday, December 31, 2018

The State of Blogging: Post Length, Publishing Frequency Trends

Written by Ayaz Nanji
From MarketingProfs

Bloggers are writing longer posts and spending more time crafting pieces than in years past, according to recent research from Orbit Media.

Some 46% of bloggers say the blog posts they write are typically between 500 and 1,000 words long.

The proportion of bloggers who typically write posts under 500 words has steadily declined since 2014, while the proportion of bloggers who typically write posts longer than 1,000 words has steadily increased.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Mobile Payment Trends to Watch for in 2019

By Rahul Chadha
From eMarketer

Mobile payments have been thought to be on the cusp of widespread adoption for several years now. But most US consumers have responded to the technology with a noncommittal shrug.

Proximity mobile payments—those used at the point of sale—haven’t quite taken off the way that payment platforms hoped they would. On paper, the idea of a consumer whipping out a smartphone, tapping it against a payment terminal and going on their merry way seems like a no-brainer. The reality has been a bit different.

There are a handful of solid reasons for the case against dramatic proximity mobile payment growth. But one key way that consumers can become familiar with contactless payments is via public transit. Several major metropolitan areas in the US—including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia—have either announced plans to install contactless payments at mass transit stations, or have already rolled them out.

Monday, December 24, 2018

7 sneaky ways restaurants get you to spend more

Written by Kendall Little for Bankrate

We’ve all been there: You go out to dinner with a set budget, having already decided what to order and set aside the perfect amount for a tip. Then, your bill comes at the end of the night and you’ve somehow spent way beyond your limit.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s science behind persuading you to spend more. You can scope out the city’s best happy hour deal, take advantage of online coupons and even save on your first round of drinks at home, but restaurateurs and menu engineers have nearly perfected the psychology of making you spend money during a night out.

Here are some common tactics restaurants use to get patrons to fork over more cash.

Friday, December 21, 2018

SBA Proposes Significant Changes to Its SB Regs

By Samuel S. Finnerty

From Piliero Mazza

On December 4, 2018, the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued a proposed rule (“Rule”) to implement several provisions of the National Defense Authorization Acts (“NDAA”) of 2016 and 2017 and the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities After Disaster Act of 2015 (“RISE Act”), as well as other clarifying amendments. The Rule will likely garner a lot of attention in the coming weeks, as it proposes a number of sweeping amendments that could have a significant impact on small business government contracting.

Indeed, the proposed revisions address key small business issues such as subcontracting plans, the non-manufacturer rule (“NMR”), Information Technology Value Added Reseller (“ITVAR”) procurements, limitations on subcontracting (“LOS”), recertification, size determinations, and the ostensible subcontractor rule. Below, we summarize some of the more notable amendments that will impact small business procurement.

Consistent with the 2017 NDAA, the Rule states that it shall be a material breach of contract when a contractor or subcontractor fails to comply in good faith with its subcontracting plan requirements, including failing to provide reports and/or cooperate in studies or surveys to determine the extent of compliance.

The Rule provides a number of examples of what constitutes a failure to make “good faith” efforts, including, among others, (1) failing to timely submit subcontracting reports and (2) failing to pay small business subcontractors in accordance with the terms of the contract. The Rule also provides that failure to make a good faith effort may be considered in any past performance evaluation of the contractor.

SBA is proposing to implement certain provisions of the RISE Act to establish contracting preferences for small business concerns (“SBC”) located in disaster areas and to provide agencies with double credit for awards to such concerns. Under the Rule, SBA would use the existing FAR definitions to provide that an agency will receive credit for an “emergency response contract” awarded to a “local firm” that qualifies as an SBC under the applicable size standard for a “major disaster or emergency area.”

According to the Rule, a concern is “located in a disaster area,” if, during the last twelve months, it had its main operating office in the area and that office generated at least half of the firm’s gross revenues and employed at least half of the firm’s permanent employees. The Rule provides a number of factors that SBA will consider if the firm does not meet the foregoing criteria in order to determine whether the firm resides or primarily does business in a disaster area.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Providing Big Business Customer Service as a Startup

Written by Jamie Lowary

 Article from Outpost


You’re a founder or co-founder of a startup. You don’t just wear many hats, you wear them all—you’re customer support, IT, marketing, sales, sometimes even the building maintenance guy or gal when the fridge starts smelling funky.

 Not only are you pulled in eight different directions, you entered into a competitive market and you’re challenged with finding a way to stand out among the noise.

You have limited resources whether it be time, employees, or budget and are feeling unproductive by switching gears all day long.

 Providing great customer service and a positive overall customer experience is one competitive advantage that could separate you from the masses. And, guess what? You don’t need a massive budget or unlimited resources to accomplish it.

Monday, December 17, 2018

5 Key Ingredients in Creating a Small Business Website

Written by Marco Carbajo

 Article from SBA

A website is an essential element for running a successful business. A business without a website can potentially lose out on great opportunities since potential customers can’t reach you, find you and learn about you online.

Creating a small business website can lead to many different ways to market your business and help it grow much faster than relying on traditional marketing methods alone. If you’re looking for a way to reach more customers, or people to influence, the internet is where your business needs to be.

 With over 78% of adult Americans using the Internet and a remarkable 2.2 billion people online worldwide, it’s no surprise that small businesses with websites experience an average of 39% greater revenue per year than those without websites, according to the Small Business Administration.

 Not only does having a small business website establish credibility with consumers; it also is the first face of your company that lenders will see. It’s an important first step to complete prior to applying for credit and opening a business credit file.

 For starters here are five key ingredients in creating a small business website that are essential.

 1) Home Page – The home page is the very first thing that a website visitor will see. Make the first impression count by having a clean, well laid out, and easy to read home page. Be sure to have a navigation menu so visitors can reach other pages of your site with ease.

 Place your logo at the top of the home page and have a headline and content that enables your visitors to quickly understand what your business has to offer. Also, make a place to display any social proof such as testimonials, trust seals, awards, number of satisfied customers, stats, media appearances, reviews, etc.

 2) Products/Services Page – Create a page that highlights all of your products or services. Next, create a separate page for each product or service that provides greater details, features, benefits, testimonials, costs, terms and conditions and purchase instructions.

 At the very least you should provide a short summary of the products or services you offer along with links to other pages on your site that provide more information.

 3) About Us Page – This page tells visitors who you are, when your company was founded and what your mission is. Describe what separates you apart from other businesses in your industry. Remember, facts tell but stories sell so share your story and what led you to starting your business.

In addition to your About Us page be sure to include all the ways to connect with you on social media channels. This provides you another way to connect with your visitors and build trust and a relationship with them.

4) Privacy Policy Page – Your privacy policy page is a statement that discloses the ways your website gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer’s data. Many state and federal laws require a website privacy statement so be sure to create one.

5) Contact Us Page – This page is crucial since it provides your visitors a way to get in contact with you. At the end of the day, if you want to generate business from your website, make it easy for visitors to contact you.

At the very least, your contact us page should have an online submission form, your company phone number and an email address that is clearly visible. If your visitor completes the online form be sure to redirect the page to a thank-you page that explains when and how you’ll be contacting them.

 Creating a small business website is a must-have for any business whether you are a brick and mortar operation or home-based business. It’s a digital business card that provides online searchers the ability to find your business, learn about your business, and connect with your business at the click of a button.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Is Your Business Prepared for an Emergency?

Article from USA.gov

Businesses and their staff face a variety of hazards:

 Natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

Health hazards such as widespread and serious illnesses like the flu.

 Human-caused hazards including accidents and acts of violence.

 Technology-related hazards like power outages and equipment failure.

 There is much that a business leader can do to prepare his or her organization for the most likely hazards.

 The Ready Business program helps business leaders make a preparedness plan to get ready for these hazards. The Ready Business Toolkit series includes hazard-specific versions for earthquake, hurricane, inland flooding, power outage, and severe wind/tornado. Toolkits offer business leaders a step-by-step guide to build preparedness within an organization. Each toolkit contains the following sections:

 Identify Your Risk

 Develop A Plan

 Take Action

 Be Recognized and Inspire Others

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

7 Benefits of Manufacturing in the United States

Written by Jill Worth


 Article from The Rodon Group

When looking for a manufacturer that will provide you with quality, savings, and a quick turnaround, it’s essential to consider the location of your facility.

While many companies are moving overseas in search of cheaper production and labor costs, it often pays to keep your company based right here in the United States.

 In fact, there are numerous benefits to choosing a manufacturer based in the United States over those found abroad––, especially in the long run. Below, we discuss seven of the main advantages.

 Choosing U.S.-based manufacturing means creating jobs here at home for Americans. Many customers value companies that are rooted in their communities and employ their neighbors and friends, and therefore will choose those products over your competitors for that very reason.

 By keeping your manufacturing in the United States, you can be sure that you’re supporting the local and national economy and helping American families thrive financially, which in turn further stimulates the economy at all levels.

Manufacturing currently provides some of the highest wages in the country for industrial workers. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries that specialize in producing goods paid an average salary of $56,799 per year—more than $10,000 above other popular working-class sectors such as healthcare or teaching.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Updated SBA Loan Chart

Written by Bob Coleman

 Article from Coleman Report



SBA has compiled a very good chart summarizing all of its loan programs with updated fees as of October 1.You may download it here.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Here are your new income tax brackets for 2019

Written by Darla Mercado

 Article from CNBC


The IRS has tweaked income tax brackets for the new year, adjusting them for inflation.

 Next year’s standard deduction will be $12,200 for singles and $24,400 for married couples who file jointly. Personal exemptions will remain at zero.

 There will be no penalty for failure to maintain minimum essential health coverage in 2019. This year, the penalty was $695.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

National Tax Security Awareness Week

From the Internal Revenue Service:

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry will hold a National Tax Security Awareness Week December 3-7, 2018 to encourage individual and business taxpayers to take steps to protect their tax data and identities in advance of the 2019 filing season.

The IRS announced steep declines in tax-related identity theft in 2017 following the success of the Security Summit effort. Key indicators of identity theft dropped for the second year in a row in 2017. This includes a 40 percent decline in taxpayers reporting they are victims of identity theft in 2016. Since 2015, the number of tax-related identity theft victims has fallen by almost two-thirds and billions of dollars of taxpayer refunds have been protected.

The Don't Take the Bait awareness series is focused on the need for tax professionals to increase their computer security and be cautious of spear phishing scams. Tax professionals must remember that they have a legal requirement under federal law to protect taxpayer information.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

New York State Is Probing Abuses in Small-Business Lending

From Bloomberg LP
Written by Zeke Faux and Zachary Mider

New York’s attorney general has opened an investigation into potential abuses by finance firms that offer quick money to small businesses nationwide, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office is looking into whether merchant cash-advance companies engaged in fraud or abused the state court system, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Last week the office subpoenaed one of the largest cash-advance companies, Yellowstone Capital LLC, the person said.

"It’s reprehensible to defraud, deceive and harass small-business owners through predatory debt-collection practices and the abuse of our court system," Underwood said in a statement to Bloomberg News that didn’t provide details. “If a company is engaging in fraudulent and deceptive conduct, we want to know.”

Monday, December 03, 2018

Pennsylvania Tax Obligations for Out-Of-State Vendors

Article from Pennsylvania Department of Revenue

Any entity making taxable sales or performing taxable services in Pennsylvania must be licensed to collect and remit sales tax.

Pennsylvania’s sales and use tax rate is 6 percent. An additional 1 percent local sales and use tax applies to sales in Allegheny County; an additional 2 percent local sales and use tax applies to sales in Philadelphia.

 No tax is due on out-of-state deliveries made by a vendor or common carrier. However, deliveries made within Pennsylvania are subject to sales tax.

 Any business that does not have a permanent physical location in Pennsylvania, but makes taxable sales in Pennsylvania on an irregular basis, is required to register for a transient vendor’s license. Transient vendor licenses are renewable on a yearly basis so long as the taxpayer timely files and remits all sales tax.

 All other out-of-state vendors, making taxable sales in Pennsylvania, are issued sales tax licenses, valid for five years and renewable so long as the taxpayer timely files and remits all state taxes. Sales and transient vendor licenses must be prominently displayed at all events.

Department of Revenue enforcement agents have the authority to issue citations to people who sell items subject to Pennsylvania sales tax without valid sales tax licenses. Penalties for making such sales may include a fine between $300 and $1,500 for each violation and imprisonment up to 30 days for failing to pay the fine