Showing posts from September, 2014

The well-being of the nation's households

For those who track trends, this is the most important time of the year. It's when we get a status update on the economic well-being of the nation's households. The Census Bureau releases the latest income data from the Current Population Survey. The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the latest spending data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. An added bonus this year is the Federal Reserve Board's release of findings from the triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. All three surveys tell the same story: the average American is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Median Household Income Has Stalled The $51,939 median household income of 2013 was not significantly different from the $51,758 of 2012, after adjusting for inflation. This is the second year in a row of no significant change in median household income, according to the Census Bureau , following two years of decline. Median household income in 2013 was 8.0 percent below the median o

How to Get Paid for Everything You Do

From SmallBusinessNewz : Far too often I see business owners and entrepreneurs just getting started that simply don’t value what they do enough because they don’t have the validation that comes with landing high-paying clients. In short, in an effort to gain some traction and some exposure, they give everything away freely, or worse, get talked into doing things for people that don’t value what’s being given. Here’s the deal though – everything you do has some value and you simply must start thinking this way if you even expect to rise above a meager existence. You must start to think about how to exchange value for everything you do. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times when you determine to do someone a favor or support a cause or mission with no thought of being paid for your time – that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that instance when someone – often able to pay – wants you to provide a service for free or for a discount. Or that event that promises

Corporate Tax Reform FAQs, from the NYS Tax Department

From HERE: These FAQs are meant to provide general guidance on topics of interest to taxpayers. However, taxpayers should be aware that subsequent changes in the Tax Law or its interpretation may affect the accuracy of an FAQ. The information provided in these FAQs does not cover every situation and is not intended to replace the law or change its meaning. Business Capital Q. Does business capital include the capital that generates other exempt income? A. Yes, because this capital may also generate taxable business income, such as capital gains from the sale of stock in a unitary corporation that is not included in a combined report with the taxpayer. Q. Are Internal Revenue Code Section 78 gross-up dividends included in the business income base? A. Our current policy of excluding these dividends is being continued. See NYS Tax Law section 208.9(a)(6). Q. Will New York State consider a corporation instantly unitary with a taxpayer when acquired? A. It is a facts and circu

Online Discounts vs. Free Shipping: A Battle of the Ages

Who doesn’t love a good deal when online shopping? Pretty much everyone. But not all offers are created equal, and in July 2014 polling by Retention Science, percentage discounts led the pack as the most effective customer incentive. Among US online retailers, 30.9% said a percentage discount was the most effective customer incentive, the No. 1 response. Meanwhile, 21.8% cited shipping incentives—free or discounted—as offers that worked best for their customers. Though percentage discounts were the favorite, amount discounts weren't very popular... However, a Q2 2014 study by Flagship Research for BlueHornet found age played a big role in whether US internet users preferred a percentage discount vs. free shipping. Consumers ages 18 to 45 favored discounts, while 46- to 75-year-olds preferred free shipping — indeed, shipping costs are a top digital shopping pet peeve for older generations. See more at eMarketer .

Why your small business accountant should also be your small business consultant

Here’s what you know: your accountant can do your taxes. But here’s what you might not know: your accountant can also help you accomplish your business goals. Accountants build up both financial and business acumen throughout their careers, and they’re often willing to share their knowledge with clients. Read more at .

St. Lawrence County Matchmaker - 10/28/14

St. Lawrence County Matchmaker Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 SUNY Canton, Miller Campus Center 8:00 am – Noon Hosted by: SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center , St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and North Country PTAC Sponsored by: What is a Matchmaker? This is an opportunity for businesses to meet, one-on-one, with representatives from the colleges, federal agencies, state and local governments and large regional institutions. Agencies and prime contractors are looking to source products and services from local small businesses. Matchmaking is like ‘Speed-dating’. You will sign up for 10 minute meetings with individual agencies and have that short time to network and share marketing materials. When the bell rings, you move to the next agency on your schedule. Sign-up with agencies will take place between 8:00 - 8:45 am. » View our current list of Agencies and Primes What to Expect? Bef

Rhonda Abrams: Business Travel Blog Series

Smart Small Business Travel To increase orders from your current customers and find new clients, plan a business trip. Travel, an important tool in your small-business tool kit, is an investment in growing and sustaining your business. And as with any investment, you want to get the highest return—in this case, your return on travel. Businesses get an average return of $9.50 for every travel dollar they spend, according to a study the U.S. Travel Association sponsored, which Oxford Economics conducted. And it’s clear why business travel makes sense. In-person interactions close sales and deepen relationships. High Return on Travel Plan One obstacle that keeps business owners from traveling is the belief that they must be on-premise to run their businesses. Can you entrust team members with more of the daily operations so you can focus more on business development? Can you adopt cloud solutions and apps that allow you to be a more effective mobile manager? Must Have Apps

How Your Business Can Master Yelp

In the past decade, businesses have had to jump on the digital train to stay on top of new trends, capitalize on new markets, and expand reach. From social media channels to review sites like Yelp, there’s a lot for entrepreneurs to monitor in the instant feedback, smartphone-crazed world we live in. Yelp, for instance, can have a big impact on the growth of your business. This review site allows customers to rate your business and leave feedback about their experience. If you’re not actively seeking feedback, monitoring the comments, and publicizing the positive reviews customers leave, you’re probably behind the digital eight ball. More from BPlans .

2014 FAST Tech Conference Thursday, September 25 at UAlbany

Are you looking to fund research or start a technology business?  Come and learn about how local entrepreneurs built theoretical business models into viable technology companies.  The program is open to students, faculty, researchers, alumni, and the general public, so reserve your seat today. 2014 FAST Tech Conference   When Thursday September 25, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM EDT Add to Calendar   Where University at Albany - School of Business School of Business Building - Living Room 1400 Washington Avenue Albany, NY 12222 Driving Directions Conference Schedule: 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Check-In and Networking 8:30 a.m. to 9:40 a.m.-Plenary Session   Tales from the Trenches 9:40 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.-Break-Out Sessions   Transitioning from Research to Commercialization   Growing your Start-Up and Holding onto Equity   Building a Successful Team   Turning Data into Dollars 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.-Plenar

3 Things You Need to Do When Choosing Technology for Your Business

As an SMB owner, you want to maximize the investments you’ve made in your business. You want to get more done in less time. And you want to ensure you’re communicating effectively with customers and employees. The right technology can help you do both. Here are three ways you can ensure you’re making the right technology decisions for your business. 1. Know that “free” often comes at a cost. More from the America's SBDC .

Re-branding – how not to alienate your customers

Branding your business is tricky. You have to make sure it comes across as appealing, a ‘must have’ brand that’s not too pretentious. Over time, your company will change leading to a need to refine your brand image, but even the smallest of changes can affect your target market and their perception of your brand. Clive Rohald has written an interesting article in The Drum about how to give your brand identity a makeover without alienating your customers. Here are some of his thoughts. Every company, at one time or another, will feel the need for a brand refresh. The question is, how can that be achieved without it turning into a disaster. 1. Why is there a need for change? More from SmallBusinessNewz .

Why You Should Use In-Person Events to Foster Customer Relationships

Why do people buy from you? It boils down to two things: they found you, and they picked you. Let's talk about "they found you." To get people to find you, you've got to tell them about yourself or someone else has to tell other people about you. If you're the only grocery store in your town, you don't have a problem with people finding you. You stick a sign outside and reach 100% of your target market. Most of us, however, spend a lot of brain cycles trying to figure out how to tell the world about our thing. We use ads, content, social media, and so on to try to spread the word. Moreover, getting someone's attention is becoming increasingly difficult. The amount of stuff being created today—such as photos, tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and emails—is making it hard for our message to squeeze its way into people's limited attention span. Read more from MarketingProfs

Top 30 Startups to Watch

In theory, entrepreneurship sounds awesome. You’re your own boss so you can set your own hours, work from home in your PJs and do work that really matters to you. But as any entrepreneur will tell you, starting your own business is not nearly as glamorous. In fact, it can often be pretty scary and lonely. Entrepreneurs take a great financial risk to get their ventures off the ground, often using their own savings and quitting steady jobs to pursue their dreams. Yes, entrepreneurs make their own hours, but they put in many more of them than the average employee (often 12 a day or more) and, still, they face a high failure rate. Entrepreneur values those who choose to create their own path, and we’re not alone. Empact, a Princeton, N.J.-based company that provides education and networking opportunities to young entrepreneurs, today released its annual list of 100 startups led by entrepreneurs under 35 that should be on everyone’s radar. Those chosen for the Empact100 stood out amon

Top 5 Current Scams in International Trade

#1 The fake freight forwarder company scam. The fraudulent forwarders pose as legitimate companies with spare cargo capacity. Their truck arrives on-time to collect the freight and then disappears, never again to be seen. The Scoop: Here is how it works: Once a signed and sealed agency agreement is in place between both parties and business starts, all appears to be normal. This is until the cargo arrives at the port and no-one has received the original bill of lading from the forwarder in China. When contacted, the forwarder demands a large ransom for the release of the original bill of lading. Companies which refuse to pay find themselves on an expensive rollercoaster ride of meetings with customers, lawyers, insurers and shipping lines in order to obtain the original bill of lading so the cargo can be released. By spreading shipments around a number of shipping lines, fraudulent forwarders can make this recovery process even more onerous. These forwarders may be real companies w

How Much Do Retail Marketers Personalize Websites and Emails?

Nearly one-third (31%) of online retailers in the United States with annual marketing budgets exceeding $1 million do not personalize their websites in any way, according to a recent report from Retention Science. Moreover, of the 69% of companies that do personalize their sites, just 21% offer personalized offers to visitors. A similar percentage (33%) of online retailers with annual marketing budgets under $1 million also do not personalize their websites; of the 67% that do, only 16% present personalized offers. The most popular form of website personalization for large and small companies is product recommendations. Other common site personalization tactics include shopping cart reminders, displaying a customer's name, and social integrations. Read more from MarketingPros

Small Business Quarterly Bulletin for Second Quarter 2014

The Office of Advocacy has released its Small Business Quarterly Bulletin for Second Quarter 2014.  This two-page publication includes figures and tables of economic indicators to show the status of small business.  This latest quarterly bulletin shows promising signs for small businesses.  The bulletin includes data about proprietors' income, establishment births and deaths and various small business employment variables. The Small Business Quarterly Bulletin for Second Quarter 2014 is available online at

Bagel: Taxed Cuts

When it comes to New York, bagels are serious business. And they may also be taxable business -- if a knife comes out. New York, like many other states, exempts groceries from its sales tax. Walk into a bagel place, order a dozen, buy some name brand cream cheese, and go on your way -- that feels like you're grabbing some groceries, and should be left untaxed. New York agrees. You pay the posted price and the state goes empty handed. But what about one of those bagels, cut in a half, toasted, with some store-made scallion cream cheese, some lox, lettuce, and tomato, with some iced coffee to go with it? More from Now I Know .

Five Branding Characteristics That Connect With Women (Without Losing the Men)

Brands have been focused on engaging female consumers for some time now, and with good reason. Women have truly impressive purchasing prowess—$5 trillion to $15 trillion annually, according to consumer research by Nielsen. What many brand leaders are missing, however, is that even though women have been controlling the purse strings, men are shopping more. That means branding and design of packaging, seasonal retail themes, product attributes, etc. don't merely have to engage women: They need to do it without losing the men. Branding for women can be people-inclusive. Here are the five characteristics that can make it so. Read more from MarketingProfs .

Use Your Business Plan to Get Ownership in Writing

Small Business Administration : Way too often, you can add up the percent of ownership in the heads of the partners and discover between them they think they own 200% of the company. That’s because one thinks the idea was worth 50% or more of the ownership, the other thinks the day-to-day work was worth 50% or more of the ownership, and another thinks having written checks and invested was worth 50% or more of the ownership. What I particularly hate in this context is when people spend the time and do the work and develop the business without spelling these things out, and then, when it’s way too late, discover that they had radically different ideas about who owns what. This is a great use of the business plan. If there’s awkwardness about who owns what when friends and family are involved, you solve that with the need to spell it all out for the plan. Don’t wait. Don’t wonder. Talk it out. The business plan is a built-in natural format that all of you can understand. The key

How One Man Got Even With a Debt Collector… in Court

Kevin Jones just did what he felt was right, but you might think of him as a hero once you hear his story. When Jones was hassled by debt collectors to pay a bill he didn’t owe, he did more than tell them to get lost. He sued — and got $1,000 and a whole lot of satisfaction. Here’s how. Jones, 53, provided to an amazingly detailed record of events related to his lawsuit, which was filed in a Cook County, Illinois federal court. The first troublesome phone call came in 2007, but the formula he used to exact sweet revenge on the debt collection firm would work equally well today. The call came on a Thursday night in November, said Jones, who lives in Evanston, Ill. It was an automated call; he didn’t answer, but he did call back. More from .

Endless Summer: How Six Seasonal Industries Stay Warm in Winter

Warm weather facilitates family vacations, outdoor activities and cold refreshment sales, providing several industries with an opportunity to generate enough revenue to sail through the rest of the year. These seasonal industries struggle to remain lucrative throughout the winter months, as frigid temperatures and annual changes in consumer behavior challenge profitability. While many seasonal industry operators anticipate May’s arrival, when demand increases as the sun also rises, these six industries are determined to make a splash year-round, come rain or shine. Amusement Parks More from IBISworld .

Freshening Up for Fall: 3 Ways to Tidy Your Small Business

From the Small Business Administration : Summer is nearly over, signaling the start of school for students and teachers and the end of the fiscal year for the federal government and businesses throughout the country. This change of seasons is also a good opportunity to take a break from the frantic day-to-day grind and find new ways to reboot your small business. Let’s call it a bit of spring-cleaning for fall. Here are just a few ways you can tidy up your business and improve operations: *Glance back at your new year’s goals.

FTC Updates Telemarketer Fees for the Do Not Call Registry as of October 1, 2014

All telemarketers calling consumers in the United States are required to download the numbers on the Do Not Call Registry to ensure they do not call those who have registered their phone numbers. The first five area codes are free, and organizations that are exempt from the Do Not Call rules, such as some charitable organizations, may obtain the entire list for free. Telemarketers must subscribe each year for access to the Registry numbers. The access fees for the Registry are being increased as required by the Do‑Not‑Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007. Under the Act’s provisions, in fiscal year 2015 (from  October 1, 2014  to September 30, 2015 ), telemarketers will pay $60, an increase of $1, for access to Registry phone numbers in a single area code, up to a maximum charge of $16,482 for all area codes nationwide, an increase from the previous maximum of $16,228. Telemarketers will pay the same as last year for numbers they subscribe to receive during the second half of th

Carryovers of Unused Tax Breaks: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em

From the Small Business Administration . New taxpayers, such as recent graduates who’ve just entered the job market, probably have a clean tax slate. But seasoned taxpayers have a history that can impact their taxes going forward. Due to limitations and restrictions, some tax breaks cannot be fully used in the year in which they are generated but can be carried over and used in other years. Failing to know what these are and keep track of them wastes valuable tax breaks that can cost you money. Tax breaks subject to carryovers Dollar limits and other restrictions curtail write-offs for your current and past outlays. Here are some to note:

Webinars for Small Businesses

The IRS broadcasts webinars on a variety of subjects aimed at educating tax professionals on issues affecting them and their clients. The webinars are free. NATIONAL WEBINARS Business Use of Your Home  - September 10, 2014 2014 Affordable Care Act Provisions for Individuals, Families and Small Businesses   - September 17, 2014