Showing posts from 2015

Self-Made Success: 3 Things Every New Entrepreneur Needs To Know

1. Time is more valuable than money. In essence, there are only three things we can spend in life: money, time and energy. The biggest caveat, however, is only money can be earned. The rest are just plainly lost in the process. That’s why it’s so important to be more stingy with your time than your money. You will need to say no more than you say yes. Most people think, in order to be productive, they should work tons of hours each week. But studies have shown that 35 is the special number. If you’re only working 35 hours a week, it’s hard to make time for office chat and wasted meetings. It’s important to avoid time sucks and to spend your time in the office focused on your priorities. Some of the most serial time-wasters are people who take bits and pieces of your time, which is quite significant in total once you add everything together. Some want to have incessant meetings with you, some want you to speak at their event and some just want your take on anything and everythi

9 Tips for Launching Your Business on Instagram

Set up the basics Create a logo you love and a description that clearly, powerfully and simply explains what you're going to do. Include an email for people to contact. Then, create a landing site that briefly explains what is "coming soon" and a place to capture emails. We used Launchrock, which took under 10 minutes to set up. Plan your content You're going to need lots of quality content that reflects your brand. It's important to create a look that people will recognize as your own. Keeping this in mind in the beginning will also make it a lot simpler to decide what to post. We wanted to feature moms with their kids and share their stories. Now this is what people expect when they come to our feed. Be mindful of the fact that Instagram is a photography driven platform and images need to be clear, beautiful and interesting. Remember that timing matters To ensure you are posting at the best time of day for your market and reaching as many people as you can,

Mother Knows Best: 5 Ways Your Mom’s Advice Can Help Your Business

“Mother always knows best.” We’ve all heard this saying before. Whether she’s kissing a boo-boo or fixing up a meal that just hits the spot, Mom always seems to know the right thing to do in any given situation. So, it’s no surprise Mom’s advice could actually apply elsewhere. Here are five pearls of wisdom worth listening to while dealing with business: 1. Money doesn’t grow on trees. If it did, you wouldn’t need to be in business in the first place. Since you’ll have to work and earn every dollar you make, treat that money with respect. Remember the feeling you had when you made your first sale? Hold on to that. If you lose sight of the value of your money, you’ll find your business starting to spiral out of control. An easy way to save up is to set a budget in advance and stick to it. Even if you have an unexpectedly good month, by resisting the urge to spend (or reinvest) it all right away, you’ll be better prepared to ride out future bumps in the road. 2. If everyone jumped

Here Are 12 Things Entrepreneurs Say Are Invaluable

What is one thing that is absolutely essential for running your business? 1. Taking input from your employees Your employees are your greatest resource. They see a side of the business that you might miss. They are around your product day in and day out, and might have a great idea for its improvement. So, are you taking advantage of this resource—or taking it for granted? Mark Daoust of Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc., says that his employee input is “the most valuable asset” he has in his company. “Even though I am 100 percent owner of my company, I don’t make any significant decisions without consulting multiple people within my company,” he says. He adds: “They see the business from a completely different perspective, which I simply can’t get.” 2. Scheduling time for your personal life When you’re starting out, it makes sense that your personal life takes a back seat. In that mad rush to get your business up and running, you might have slacked when it came to time with friend

3 Tools That Will Turn You into a Designer

I’ll admit that before we started PrestoBox, the best designs I created were colorful Excel graphs in Powerpoint. So non-Millennial. But today, everything has changed. We founded PrestoBox with the belief that good design—combined with technology—could create powerful results. And it does. Over the last few years, I’ve had the good fortune of working with some of the best designers in the country. The creativity that flows from these genius types is fun to experience. However, that’s not me—nor is it a skill of most small business owners. That being said, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that have made my life much easier. We still hire the big-gun designers for major initiatives (totally worth it), but I can get far with these simple design tools—and you can, too. Read more at: Bplans

A Simple Recipe for Startup Marketing Strategy

Why “startup” marketing strategy, instead of just marketing strategy? Good question. The difference is that the startup has to aim more carefully. There are fewer resources and less room for error. The concepts are similar, but you aim for the bullseye, not just the target. It’s not just about the typical startup having fewer resources. It’s also about the likelihood that the startup needs to show the best results quickly, the more traction the better, because it’s inherently riskier in its first struggling phase. Go for the low-hanging fruit. So, the fundamentals still apply. Read more at Bplans

The Psychology of Logo Color in How Consumers View Your Brand (Infographic)

Your logo says a lot about your brand. Are you sending the right message? Across the U.S. and around the world, billions are spent each year by companies trying to build a brand people can't resist. One critical element in brand building (not the only one, of course but one of the most important) is design. As noted by Harvard Business Review, the convergence of brand and design are more important today than ever before. You don't have to look any further than the likes of Apple and Tesla for proof. From Fortune 500 companies to personal brands, it all starts with a logo. Would the Nike brand be as powerful without its signature "Swoosh" logo? What about Apple, with its iconic logo? Size, shape, font, and other design-related details are factors in a great brand design, but color is critical--it even has the potential to affect conversion rate. See, certain colors generate certain feelings; choosing the wrong one can speak to your potential customers in ways you

SBA Preferred Surety Bond (PSB) Program increase boosts contract opportunities for small businesses

Small businesses will have more contracting opportunities beginning in FY 2017 thanks to a law President Obama signed recently that increases the maximum Small Business Administration surety bond guarantee percentage by 20 percentage points. The President signed the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2016 on November 25, 2015. Among other changes, the Act increases the maximum guarantee percentage in the SBA Preferred Surety Bond (PSB) Program from 70 percent to 90 percent. “This is the first significant legislative change to the surety bond guarantee program in several decades. It will provide increased incentives for surety bond companies and bond producers to participate in the program, which will expand contracting opportunities for small businesses across the country,” said Frank Lalumiere, Surety Bond Guarantee Program Director at SBA. Surety bonds help contractors bid on projects, both private and public as they protect project owners in the event the contr

7 Strategies for Making Objective Decisions

We all face difficult decisions, but how can we increase the likelihood of making the right choice? Here are seven strategies to ensure you make objective decisions that aren't influenced by irrelevant factors. There's a limit to our objectivity as human beings, but with practice and with solid strategies in place, you can make the most objective decision possible. Try using one or more of these strategies when making your next major decision Read more at inc

Annual Report of the Office of Economic Research, FY 2015

This week, the Office of Advocacy released the Annual Report of the Office of Economic Research, FY 2015. This report details 26 OER publications and eight Small Business Economic Research Forums that were produced during fiscal year 2015. This year, OER produced research on the following topics: ·         Access to Capital ·         Employment ·         Innovation ·         Minority- and Women-owned Businesses ·         Veterans The report includes links to all the original documents. It can be found on Advocacy's website at

Rudeness at Work Is Contagious

If you've had a boss or co-worker tell you to leave your attitude at the door, you can feel better knowing they were probably just trying to protect your innocent colleagues from catching your rudeness. That's right: according to new research from psychologists at Lund University in Sweden, rudeness is contagious, and it can have seriously negative effects on the workplace. The research... defines rudeness as "something that goes under the radar for what is prohibited and that in some way violates the norm for mutual respect." More from .

2016 Standard Mileage Rates from the IRS

Notice 2016-1 SECTION 1. PURPOSE This notice provides the optional 2016 standard mileage rates for taxpayers to use in computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes. This notice also provides the amount taxpayers must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that may be used in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate (FAVR) plan. SECTION 2. BACKGROUND Rev. Proc. 2010-51, 2010-51 I.R.B. 883, provides rules for computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving expense purposes, and for substantiating, under § 274(d) of the Internal Revenue Code and § 1.274-5 of the Income Tax Regulations, the amount of ordinary and necessary business expenses of local transportation or travel away from home. Taxpayers using the standard mileage rates mu

How to Hire Your First Employee

It’s easy to picture the journey to entrepreneurship as a solitary adventure. The late-night brainstorming sessions, the planning, the research—I don’t know about you, but in my mind that’s one lone figure doing it all (fueled by a seemingly bottomless mug of coffee). Hey, if it works, it works—innumerable companies have been started in just such a way. But eventually, all successful businesses will have to start taking on employees, and that’s when the fun really begins. Or at least, that’s the assumption. Before you get there, however, you have to actually complete the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding process. For new entrepreneurs, this can be daunting. How do you go from being a solo venture to one where you’re forced to find and rely on others to help you grow and run your business? Read more at: Bplans

What Do The Best Logos Have in Common?

Getting the right logo can often be the hardest part of building a brand. It’s the one mark that defines you in the marketplace. It’s the holy grail of how you should look. Right? Actually no. Often businesses get themselves worked up in a frenzy, trying to make their logo the next Mona Lisa. What ends up happening? The logo becomes over-complicated instead of being a simple and succinct mark. No question, your logo will lead the charge in your brand efforts. But it really is just one piece of the branding and marketing puzzle. Take a look at some of the most famous brands out there. Think Apple. Nike. Google. More from Bplans .

2012 Survey of Business Owners released today

Nationally, today’s findings  of the 2012 Survey of Business Owners show the number of minority-owned firms in the U.S. rose from 5.8 million in 2007 to 8.0 million in 2012. This includes a 46.3 percent increase in the number of Hispanic-owned firms over the period, from 2.3 million to 3.3 million, and a 34.5 percent rise in the number of black or African American-owned firms, from 1.9 million to 2.6 million. Additionally, the number of Asian-owned firms climbed from 1.5 million to 1.9 million, an increase of 23.8 percent. For added context, total U.S. firms increased 2.0 percent during the same period, from 27.1 million in 2007 to 27.6 million in 2012. The 9.9 million women-owned firms in 2012 were up more than 2 million from five years earlier when there were 7.8 million women-owned businesses, a 26.8 percent increase. As a comparison, male-owned firms increased 6.8 percent from 13.9 million to 14.8 million during the same period. The Survey of Business Owners is a sample s

Binghamton SBDC will help when you want to start a business

Today it has offices in four states, 10 employees and a roster of high-profile and successful clients that would be the envy of any web development company. But Binghamton-headquartered Freshy Sites got it starts on what founder Ben Giordano admits were misguided ideas. He was helped, he recalls now, by a 2009 visit to the New York Small Business Development Center based at Binghamton University. The confidential and free counseling included assessment of his business idea and financial forecasts. "I don’t know how you’d say it but some of my concepts were based on kind of misguided information, I think, and they helped me work through that. They helped me understand the market a little better,” he said. This is the kind of tale counselors at the business development center want to tell. Now, the SBDC, one of 24 across the state, is expanding its staff and array of services, but at its core is assessing new-business ideas of most any kind and training new business people i

Recent additions NYS Division of Tax Appeals

Ever wonder how New York State decides how the state decides whether the application of sales tax is appropriate in specific situations? Here are the NYS Division of Tax Appeals, the Sales tax advisory opinions for 2015 , with previous years available as well. An Advisory Opinion is issued at the request of a person or entity. It is limited to the facts set forth therein and is binding on the Department only with respect to the person or entity to whom it is issued and only if the person or entity fully and accurately describes all relevant facts. An Advisory Opinion is based on the law, regulations, and Department policies in effect as of the date the Opinion is issued or for the specific time period at issue in the Opinion. TSB-A-15(48)S Petitioner asks whether a subcontractor should collect sales tax on its charges for various services to a prime contractor where the prime contractor’s customer is an exempt organization. TSB-A-15(47)S Petitioner asks whether it has Nexus w

Consumer expenditures vary by age

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) publishes information classified by characteristics such as income, household size, and age of the reference person. This article uses 2013 CE data to examine the relationship between age and consumer expenditures. This relationship is important because the aging of the baby-boom generation will influence the overall level and composition of consumer spending in the years to come. Data show that: Outlays on pensions and Social Security increased with age up to 45–54 years before declining. The share of the food budget devoted to food at home increased with age while the share devoted to food away from home declined. Healthcare spending, in dollar amount and as a share of the household budget, increased with age. CE household data classified by age of the reference person show that annual expenditures and pretax income are “hump” shaped over the lifecycle, lowest for the under 25 years group, then increasing to their highest levels for the

How and Why to Collect Customer Email Addresses

Are you collecting customer contact information? Being able to connect with your customers can be extremely beneficial to your new business, especially if you’re keeping a master email list. We asked Janine Popick, the CEO and founder of email service provider VerticalResponse, to explain the top reasons you should collect customer email addresses, and the best ways to get that information. Why you should collect customer emails: Email marketing can increase buying opportunities With a list of email addresses, you can send promotional emails to entice customers to buy from you. Send an email that offers a deal or a discount, Popick suggests. The trick to a good promotional email is to put a deadline on the deal, which encourages customers to act quickly. Without a deadline, your customer can say, “Oh, that’s nice, I’ll have to check it out later.” Odds are, they won’t get around to it. Whether customers shop online or print off a coupon and bring it into your business to us

Small Business Success Story - Eileen Collins - Admin-On-Call

 Eileen Collins of Admin-On-Call Today's small business success story comes from the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College. Eileen Collins came to the Onondaga SBDC in June of 2013 through a referral from the Department of Labor.  She was coming to participate in our 3-day" Fast Track to Business Start-up" course as a requirement for the Self Employment Assistance Program, a DOL program that allows qualified persons to receive unemployment compensation while working on their self-employment business development. Eileen successfully completed the course and her SEAP business planning requirements, and went on to open "Admin-On-Call: Executive Assistant on the Run", a home-based business offering "cost effective Administrative Business Services on an as-needed basis. Perfect for busy Professionals, Sole Proprietors, Home Based Businesses, Large and Small Business Owners". We recently saw an example of Eileen's success

Health Coverage Information Reporting Deadlines for Applicable Large Employers are Approaching

Who Must Report? As a governmental, Tribal, tax-exempt or for-profit employer, if you are an  applicable large employer  you are subject to the Affordable Care Act information reporting requirements. These requirements apply to you whether or not you offered health coverage to your employees. You are an  applicable large employer  for 2015 if you had 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, in 2014. What Must You Report? If you were an applicable large employer in 2015, you must file information returns with the IRS and provide statements to each employee who was a full-time employee for at least one month of the year about health coverage you offered or to show that you did not offer health coverage.

13 Out of the Ordinary Ways to Find the Perfect Business Location

If you’re looking for a business location, you may be wondering, “where on earth do I start?” I’m going to help you figure that out. Once you’ve read this article, you will have a number of creative ideas for ways you can go about looking for your business location. While I’ve never had to find a location for myself, mainly because I’ve never started my own main street business, I have been privy to the process when my father decided to start his own garden center. It’s laborious if you don’t know what you’re doing. But, if you’ve got a heads up on how others do it, you’re way ahead of the curve. Read more at: Bplans

Entrepreneurship 101: The Best Sites for Young Entrepreneurs

When starting a business, it is important to know where to get the best information. The basics of sales, marketing, and advertising are all topics to keep in mind while laying the groundwork. Here's a list of some sites to keep in mind. 1. Score Entrepreneurship These sites cover many topics like financing and marketing. They also have a search box tool for narrowing down information. 2. SBDCMichigan The Michigan SBDC created an online workshop for small business owners. Each class follows topics like Writing a Business Plan,Marketing Your Business, Financial Management, Business Legal Issues, and more. 3. SBA SBA Starting Managing Business The Small Business Administration offers free information in all aspects of starting a business. They also offer a regularly updated "Guide to Starting a Business." 4. Ecorner Lynda Ted Talks Many who are looking to start a business value information from success stories. People find sites like Ted T

The Salvation Army Just Killed Your Excuse That You're "Out of Change"

Last year, Slate’s Jordan Weissmann observed that the rise of e-payments might be changing the way we tip. At coffee shops where we once might have tossed our change into a jar, services like Square now prompt us to pay much more. This has been a boon for baristas and others who depend on gratuities, since they otherwise might not receive anything from the swipe of a credit card. Now street-level charities like the Salvation Army are getting in on the action, testing the waters of our digital generosity. This experiment comes via DipJar, a New York-based company that makes small canister-like credit card receptacles. When you slide a card into one of them, it automatically charges a set amount—typically a dollar, though merchants can set it to other quantities—to the attached account. The machines produce a satisfying dinging sound as the payment goes through, clearly indicating to all involved that a virtuous act has been performed. Now, as BostInno’s Dylan Matt reports, DipJar has

SBA Reopens Disaster Loan Filing Period for Superstorm Sandy Survivors

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it has reopened the filing period for survivors in all states affected by Superstorm Sandy on December 2, 2015 to apply for low-interest disaster loans.  The new filing deadline for physical damage and economic injury losses is December 1, 2016.    “The additional time for businesses, homeowners and renters to request federal disaster loans will go a long way in continuing to support the rebuilding efforts of the communities affected by Superstorm Sandy,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “I want to thank the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Small Business Committees for their leadership on this issue.  We look forward to working with them to make sure the needs of small businesses are met.” The recently approved Recovery Improvements for Small Entities (RISE) After Disaster Act of 2015 gives the SBA Administrator the authority to make disaster loans for Superstorm Sandy for a period of one ye

A Deep Dive into Patent Trends, Facts

Looking for a deep dive into U.S. patent trends to help inform your next invention? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) PatentsView tool allows individuals to explore nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States. Data has been categorized and is easily searchable by patent titles and types, inventors, assignees, patent classes, locations and dates. So whether you're looking for the top inventors of the 1980s or the total amount of patents a company owns, the tool can serve as a source of history and inspiration. Read more at: patentsview

Small Businesses’ Growing Role in International Trade a Factor in U.S. Export Potential

This week, the Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the U.S. Small Business Administration, released an issue brief entitled “Small Businesses Key Players in International Trade.”  The issue brief spotlights the role U.S. small businesses play in international trade, and finds that small businesses are important to consider when assessing U.S. export potential and policy tools such as free trade agreements.”  Find the full Issue Brief  here . International trade makes up 30 percent of the U.S. economy, and U.S. exports of goods and services reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2014.1 While total exports have grown 44 percent since 2009, the pace of export growth has been slowing in recent years.2 U.S. businesses, particularly small businesses (firms with less than 500 employees), face a host of challenges when selling products and services abroad; these may include high tariffs, financial risks, and customs clearance delays. Despite the challenges, international markets o

3 Ways to Make Your Email Stand Out

Employees spend nearly one-fourth of their workday, on average, sorting through their email inbox, a study by McKinsey found. Email is the most used form of communication in the workplace, but it's also easy for the emails you send to be quickly deleted or marked as irrelevant. Salespeople, particularly those who rely on email as their first point of contact with prospects, need to ensure their emails are relevant, appropriate, and able to cut through the noise of a busy inbox. Needless to say, so do marketers. Here are my top tips for crafting an email that will encourage opens, generate interest, and warrant a response. 1. Perfect the subject line A subject line is the gateway into your email. It needs to instantly grab the receiver's attention to ensure your email doesn't end up in the dreaded junk folder. First, keep it short: A recent analysis by MailChimp suggests fewer than 50 characters—but still descriptive. Place the most descriptive words at the beginnin

Prevent Spreadsheets from Strangling Your Startup

Entrepreneurs are the lifeline of any economy, and high-growth start-ups in particular are responsible for the great majority of new job creation. It’s worrying, then, that according to several reports the number of new businesses being created in the U.S. has been stalled since the end of the recession. As a mentor to many start-up entrepreneurs, I find this slow-down concerning, and I see one reason that’s rarely spoken about and needs a closer look: what I call spreadsheet asphyxiation. I repeatedly hear from young entrepreneurs that, as fund managers come in, they introduce too many controls for cash flows, income projections, budgeting, risk analysis, financial modeling – the list is endless. Start-ups can’t be assessed using conventional business metrics. Yes, they require diligent oversight. But in my experience, this can be achieved without an excessive emphasis on controls if a start-up entrepreneur has clarity at all times on four simple questions. First, what specific pro

6 Characteristics Of Entrepreneurs All People Could Benefit From

1. We do everything by ourselves. As an entrepreneur, time management needs to be a huge part of your life. "When scheduling in meetings, you must decide who and what companies are aligned with your business or organization, have your best interest, market your brand and believe in your mission and vision.” — Tayrin Tapia of Dear Tayrin The best part about being an entrepreneur is you don’t have a boss. However, the worst part about being an entrepreneur is you don’t have a boss. This means you have to manage your time by creating your own schedule. You have to accomplish goals by setting them yourself. You have to build a brand by handling customer service, marketing and PR on your own (at least until you build a company big enough to hire employees). 2. We think about solving problems all the time. “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than trying to solve them.” — Henry Ford Entrepreneurs possess a “figure it out” mentally. We’re strategists

I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died.

1) Video stores are about investment The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice. Why streaming will never live up to home video We watch Netflix like we used to watch television on a slow Sunday night, everything blending together as we flip aimlessly through the channels. At first the choice is overwhelming: all of these options and nothing but the questionable "You Might Like" cue to guide us — we stare at the screen like idiots, paralyzed. But then when we make a choice, if we make a choice, it feels unimportant. Another option is only a click away. If you're actually in a video store, the stakes are different. You're engaged. You're on a mission to find a movie — the right movie. You had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to a store. You had to think about what you want, why this movie looks good and not that one, perhaps even seeking guidance or advice. Whether it's from nostalgia, advertising, packagi

FTC Obtains Contempt Ruling Against ‘Yellow Pages’ Scam

At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a  federal court has banned Robert Ray Law and his company, CPU Service Incorporated (CPU)  from sending unsolicited direct mail to advertise or promote goods or services, imposed a judgment of almost $400,000, and required them to immediately pay $45,000. In July 2014, the FTC charged Law and Your Yellow Book Inc. (YYB)  with using bogus invoices to trick small businesses, doctors’ offices, retirement homes, and religious schools into paying for unordered online business directory listings.  In December 2014, a final order banned them from the directory business  and prohibited them from misrepresenting that consumers owe money for a good or service. According to FTC, Law created CPU to run a virtually identical scam, faxing fake invoices to nearly 150,000 small businesses across the country seeking payment for online computer support and consulting. As a result, in August 2015, the FTC asked the court to hold Law and CPU in contempt

Small businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy to get help in new bill

New bill approved by Congress Monday could make it easier for small businesses hurt by Hurricane Sandy to apply for federal assistance. Authored by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the bill allows many small firms in New York and throughout the country to seek emergency loans from the Small Business Association. Given the SBA’s slow response following Sandy in 2012, the assistance is long overdue, Velázquez said. “The fact is the SBA was caught flatfooted when Sandy came ashore and small businesses seeking relief suffered because of the agency's slow response," Velázquez said. "This new law will mean entrepreneurs in New York and up and down the East Coast will get another chance to apply and be made whole through the SBA's loan process." According to a study done by Velázquez’s office, Sandy businessowners waited on average 46 days for SBA applications to be processed — three times as long as it took SBA to process applications for prior storms. Velázquez’s

How to Solve Problems in Your Business

Solving problems is a central issue in business ownership. In fact, you might say that business itself is a series of problems waiting to be solved. But, when it comes to finding the ideal approach, or the perfect process for solving any of the dozens of problems faced by the modern business, things get complicated.There are three methods for problem solving that have proven track records in the world of commerce. These are big ideas that have inspired countless companies both large and small. Read more at: Bplans

Small Business Saturday, November 28: Muppet ads

The Muppets have a series of American Express ads in support of Small Business Saturday, November 28 . If you have to shop this coming weekend, support small businesses!

How Your Reptile Brain Responds to Marketing

As the co-founder of SalesBrain, a neuromarketing agency, Patrick Renvoise has spent years helping global companies like Boeing, BMW and even NASA sell more and do more, by understanding the science of attention. We caught up with him in advance of his keynote at eMarketer Attention! 2015. eMarketer: What's one of the most fascinating things you’ve learned about the human brain and how we pay attention? Patrick Renvoise: That it’s all about the reptilian brain! Many years ago I read in a neuroscience book that the reptilian brain was the center of attention and that it played a key role in our perception and ultimate decisions. It then took me several years to understand the implications for sales and marketing, but one day I had a big “aha” moment. Since we all know that we need to sell to the decision-maker then we should be able to relate every sales and marketing activities to our reptilian brain. Raed more at: businessusa

Business Startup Checklist

What's in the Business Startup Checklist? Every one of the tasks in our business startup checklist belongs to one of the following overarching objectives: Free Business Startup ChecklistFind a good business idea Test your business idea and do market research Write a formal business plan (if you're seeking funding) Brand your business Make it legal Get funded (only if you need it) Set up shop Market and launch your business See? That's a list you can complete. Don't forget: we're here to help! Ask us questions, or check out more of our member downloads for other great, free resources. Read more at: Bplans

New Farmers Grant Fund: 2015 Request for Applications

Program Purpose New York State has allocated $1 million in the 2015-2016 state budget for the second round of the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. Its purpose is to provide grants to support beginning farmers who have chosen farming as a career and who materially and substantially participate in the production of an agricultural product on their farm. These grants will help farmers improve profitability resulting in the growth of agribusiness and the concomitant tax revenues within the state. Program Highlights The New York State New Farmers Grant Fund will help farmers improve farm profitability through one or more of the following goals: Expanding agricultural production, diversifying agricultural production and/or extending the agricultural season; Advancing innovative agricultural techniques that increase sustainable practices such as organic farming, food safety, reduction of farm waste and/or water use; Creating or expanding partnerships with other entities su

Inside Start-Up NY: Are tax breaks a valuable tool or an expensive waste of money?

Syracuse, N.Y. — The companies approved for the Start-Up NY tax break program in Central New York are working on an impressive array of technological innovations. The firms are tinkering with DNA testing on brewing yeast, wood products that could replace iron and steel in skyscraper construction and new ways to detect sports concussions. But three of the five companies were well under way in the region long before Start-Up NY came along, even though Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched the program as a way to help draw new businesses to the state. That's allowed. Existing companies can participate if they're expanding. Read more at: StartUpNY

How Should You Handle Unhappy Customers?

The old adage says “you can’t please everyone.” However, when it comes to customer complaints, this is often one time you should try to set things right. Not only that, but a customer complaint can be an excellent way to make your product or service better next time. While the truth is that the customer may not always be right, a customer issue is almost always a chance to improve your business. What can you learn from an unhappy customer, and how should you handle the situation? What can you do when a customer complains about your product or service? Assess the “weight” of the complaint From the very beginning, try to weigh the severity of the issue. While it is important to listen to all customer complaints, acknowledge that some customers will never truly be satisfied. Bplans

Fire Prevention for Small Businesses

Fire can have a devastating impact on small businesses and home-based-businesses. A fire can race through a structure/business in a matter of minutes, giving the employer and employees little time to escape. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data for Texas for 2008,there were 23 work-related fatalities and 60 nonfatal cases requiring days away from work reported as a result of fires or explosions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.39 requires an employer with 10 or more employees to have a fire prevention plan. A fire prevention plan must be: • in writing; • kept in the workplace; and • available for employees to review. Read more at: Tditexas

Prepare Your Office for Holiday Closures

Agility Recovery, a business disaster recovery firm, offers some good suggestions on preparing your small business to close during the holidays (or any time, really.)  They include notifying clients and staff of all closures, changing out of office messages, making a list of all equipment that needs to be turned off, and reviewing deadlines.  Read the whole post here .

10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service

Why are we as consumers so captivated by stories of great customer service? Perhaps it is because they serve as a much needed reminder that there are companies (and amazing support reps) who still care about their customers. Every company says that their customers are their #1 priority, but stories show us that many businesses are ready, willing, and able to go the extra mile for each and every one of their customers. As Benjamin Franklin would put it: “Well done is better than well said.” Read more at: Entrepreneur

Can You Create a Great App Without a Tech Background? One Entrepreneurial Mom Shows You How It’s Done

There’s something gutsy about starting an app or creating a product to solve a problem you wish could be solved for you personally. Not only are you seeking out a solution to your problem, you are inventing the solution itself. With the creation of the MomCo app, Jillian Darlington did just that. MomCo brings mothers together for playdates and friendship, connects them with local businesses, gives them access to forums, and keeps them in the loop on local events. Learn more at: Bplans

Spot Pyramid Schemes Before You Sign Up

If you’ve ever been told that you could make easy money and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pyramid schemes often sound like enticing business deals, but fraudsters may use this “business model” - to take advantage of you. Before you invest your time and money, it’s important to ask good questions and do some research on the company. Here are some typical characteristics of a pyramid scheme: Emphasis on recruiting No genuine product or service is sold Promises of high returns in a short period of time Easy money or “passive income” (money you earn without doing anything) No demonstrated revenue from retail sales Find more information on identifying pyramid schemes and how to protect yourself at: investor

A Technical Guide Won't Teach You What We Learned Starting a Radio Station

Like most other community radio stations, Radio Boise is a not-for-profit organization. While there is a small paid staff of seven people who help run the station—both part time and full time—the deejays are all volunteers. There’s also a small group of steadfast individuals, including community members, who help keep the station up and running. In 2003, when Radio Boise was in its infancy and only just banding together as a team of like-minded individuals, it was known as the Boise Community Radio Project. It wasn’t until 2011 that the station actually went live on the FM airwaves. 1. Volunteer organization is challenging It’s kind of like herding cats. That is, you have to accept contributions in bite-size proportions. Continuity is often obtained via chains of volunteers, as opposed to leaning heavily on individuals, for example. That being said, the leadership team that makes up any organization is extremely important, and Radio Boise is no different. Here are a few import

Network and Learn

Interested in networking and learning from others? Tuesday is CX Day, a day full of live and online events devoted to learning from customer service innovators and sharing strategies. So whether you need help justifying the importance of customer service training or just need to sharpen your company's customer service skills, there's something for you. View a full list of live and online CX Day events at: cxday

7 Reasons You Need to Be Using Social Media As Your Customer Service Portal

When most marketers and business owners think about the advantages of social media for their business, they think about attracting new customers to the business. Smart business owners and marketers focus on relationship building, either through regular content marketing or by having conversations with customers who are already familiar with the brand. Straightforward and effective, this type of strategy has helped thousands of businesses spark new life into their marketing campaigns—but I believe social media has a much broader potential for business development and customer retention. Customer service is evolving to match the rapid growth and development of new communication media, and today’s most popular social media platforms are the perfect opportunity to capitalize on that trend. When today’s customers try to get in touch with a customer service representative, they encounter various challenges: *Find and call a phone number. Unless the number is immediate, just finding the nu

New York Veteran Entrepreneurs Honored During National Veterans Small Business Week Nov. 2-6

Thom Besch President of Veteran Solar Systems A native of Rensselaer County, Thom Besch came home to the Capital Region after a 26-year career serving in the U.S. Army. After retiring as a Colonel, Thom apprenticed in a local solar business for four years before launching his own startup solar firm, Veteran Solar Systems, in February of 2014. Thom’s company employs up to five employees and serves mainly residential customers in a one-hour radius of Albany. Resources like the SBA’s Boots to Business training program, SBA’s Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC) Director Amy Amoroso in Albany, and incubator space at the Watervliet Arsenal have contributed to Veteran Solar’s continued success. “I came back because this is where my family lives. In trying to decide what I wanted to do next, I thought about defense contracting and changing uniforms for a coat and tie. I believed in the missions and units I was a part of, and I wanted to do something af

Health Insurance for Small Businesses

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act health insurance for small businesses begins again on November 1st. Read more about the requirements at: Healthcare If you currently provide health insurance to your employees, make sure you are up-to-date on the changes to the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. sba

How to Choose a Business Location

If you’ve been thinking about starting a business for a while, chances are you’ve got an idea of what your business location is going to look like. That’s great, but it’s not enough. Choosing the right location is about so much more than finding the place that looks closest to the one you’ve envisioned. It’s about being somewhere your customers will see you, about being in a competitive location, about staying within budget, and about meeting local and state regulations and laws. Read more at: Bplans

Top Markets Series: A Market Assessment Tool for U.S. Exporters

The International Trade Administration's Top Markets Series is meant to help exporters determine their next export market by comparing opportunities across borders. Each report ranks future export opportunities within a particular industry based on a sector-specific methodology. The reports provide a detailed assessment of the competitiveness landscape within a sector, as well as the opportunities and challenges facing U.S. exporters in key markets. Each report is available for download. Interested exporters can also download or view individual case studies within larger reports. ITA’s Top Markets Reports are developed by its Industry & Analysis business unit, whose staff of industry, trade, and economic experts provide detailed analysis to strengthen the export competitiveness of U.S. industry and support strategies to unlock export and investment opportunities that benefit the U.S. economy. Read more at: Businessusa

11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About

In 2014, there were close to 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a 68 percent increase since 1997, according to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express. This percentage increase exceeded the national average of small business growth by 1.5 times. It also illustrated what we already know: Women entrepreneurs are having a tremendous impact on the small business landscape nationwide. Yet to continue to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find funding for their ventures. And, alarmingly, women entrepreneurs are increasingly being turned away by banks for small business loans. Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources -- such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans and crowdfunding. Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are another great option for women seeking extra funding for their business ventures. They just take a l

2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business

The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at unearthing products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families through local business competitions that culminate in a live pitch Final Round. During the InnovateHER Finals, up to 10 Finalists will compete for the Top Three cash prizes totaling $70,000 provided by Microsoft. This year, the national InnovateHER Finals will be held on March 16 & 17, 2016 in the Washington, D.C. metro area as part of a larger Women’s Summit. We know that our workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work. And as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address unique challenges increas

National Veterans Small Business Week

November 2-6, 2015 SBA empowers veterans, active duty service members, Guard and Reserve members and military spouses through entrepreneurial training and education programs, business technical assistance, counseling, special access to capital programs and federal procurement training and access to opportunities. Join the conversation at #MyVetBiz to share veteran stories, encourage community members to highlight local veteran-owned businesses in their community, and show gratitude and support to veterans and their families. ,br> Find local events at: SBA

Danny Meyer on tipping: It's a broken system

Danny Meyer, head of the New York City-based Union Square Hospitality Group LLC, set off a nationwide conversation last week when he announced that he planned to do away with tipping at his 13 full-service operations. Numerous restaurants across the country add standard service charges of around 18 percent to 20 percent, particularly for larger parties, to their checks, and a few restaurants, such as Alinea in Chicago and Lazy Bear in San Francisco, have done away with traditional reservations and have switched to all-inclusive, non-refundable tickets. Meyer is taking a different approach by raising menu prices and telling his customers that “hospitality” is included in the price. “I’m not waging a campaign on behalf of our entire industry. I’m doing what I think is right for our company,” Meyer told Nation’s Restaurant News. However, Meyer clearly hopes to change the way full-service restaurants compensate their employees. In fact, he said for his plan to work, his staff needs to

Disaster Assistance for Businesses

Hurricane Joaquin has come and gone but the damage still remains, especially for businesses in North and South Carolina. Explore our disaster assistance tool to read about the resources available to help your business recover. buisnessusa

Leveling the Field

Did you know that the SBA recently issued a final rule that alters regulations governing the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) program? The change, that becomes effective October 14, 2015, makes it easier for agencies to award sole-source contracts to women-owned businesses and helps meet the government’s goal of awarding 5 percent of all federal contracts to women. Read more how this change helps the SBA support women-owned businesses and how to gain WOSB-certification for your company. Looking for more information? Be sure to check out BusinessUSA’s resources for women business owners. You'll also want to read about the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) which oversees the Women's Business Centers (WBCs) network. WBCs provide entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) with comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics, and in several languages. Learn more at: sba

October is National Energy Action Month

Boosting the U.S. Clean Tech Industry October National Energy Action Month's goal is to "achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment." Are you looking for financial resources to help grow your clean technology business? The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched the Small Business Vouchers Pilot program to provide clean tech businesses with access to world-class researchers, facilities and expertise at national laboratories. The program is open to businesses with fewer than 500 employees and will serve as a starting point for bringing the next generation of clean technologies to market. Find out more about the program and if your business qualifies at sbv . You should explore the many opportunities for green businesses on BusinessUSA, including government solicitations, grants, challenges, and more.

Think Multitasking Is Good for Business? Research Says It Isn’t

Do you juggle several tasks at once during your workday? If so, multitasking probably tops your list of skills. But is multitasking really beneficial to productivity? There’s a lot of research that suggests it hurts productivity, rather than helps it. Multitasking decreases productivity Many people assume that multitasking can improve their productivity. After all, if you can send emails during a meeting, or scan reports while listening to a conference call, you’re being more productive, right? Not necessarily. One study reported in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that students took far longer to solve complicated math problems when required to switch to other tasks. In fact, they were 40 percent slower than those that didn’t have to keep switching. The study suggests that no one actually multitasks; in reality, they just do a whole lot of “task-switching.” Read more at: liveplan

Angels Change The Ratio For Women Entrepreneurs

Women build and leverage the ecosystem While venture capital’s track record with women makes you want scream with frustration, the new angel numbers will make you want to jump for joy. For nearly all metrics, the numbers hit record heights in 2014, according to the Center for Venture Research, which researches angel investments. In 2014: 26% of all angels were women, increasing by an impressive 43% from the previous year. 36% of all companies seeking funding were women, increasing by a whopping 83% from the previous year. 28% of all companies receiving funding were women-run, a substantial 44% increase. 15% of all women-run companies succeeded in raising capital vs 22% for their male counterparts. “Typically, when there is a surge in the number of entrepreneurs seeking angel funding, the overall yield [success rate] goes down,” said Jeffrey E. Sohl, director of Center for Venture Research. The 15% success rate is within the historic norms for entrepreneurs raising capital from a

The Rise and Impact of Digital Amnesia

As part of its commitment to help people protect what matters most in their online-enabled world, Kaspersky Lab wanted to better understand how digital devices and the internet affect the way consumers recall and use information today – and what, if anything, they are doing to protect it. We commissioned research firm Opinion Matters to survey 6,000 consumers, aged between 16 and 55+, split equally between male and female, with 1,000 from each of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Benelux. The results suggest a direct link between data available at the click of a button and a failure to commit that data to memory. Kaspersky Lab has termed this phenomenon Digital Amnesia: the experience of forgetting information that you trust a digital device to store and remember for you. More from The Rise and Impact of Digital Amnesia .

The Power of Roundtable Discussions

When it comes to decision making, colleagues and peers can help provide objective opinions as well as present new ideas you hadn't considered. Programs like CEO Xchange support entrepreneurs by providing them with a confidential setting to discuss vital business issues, opportunities and trends with other colleagues. CEO XChange presents top executives with the opportunity to broaden their business perspective and gain new knowledge by engaging in collaborative thinking and problem-solving - giving them the ability to more effectively lead their companies. And research has shown that personal and peer coaching, like that found in CEO XChange, can contribute significantly to entrepreneurial skill development and decision making. Learn More: ucf Read more at: Businessusa

10 Tips to Improve Business Efficiency

Your company is running smoothly enough, but you know things could be better. Sometimes, a project gets hung up a few days too long, or meetings that once felt productive and useful now seem to drag on for hours. It can feel like wheels spinning in the mud, and it’s hard to get that traction back. How can you fix these kinds of issues? By focusing on improving the efficiency of your business. I asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council for their tips on how they keep their businesses running efficiently, which in turn helps them be more productive. Read more at Bplans

How One Creative Freelancer Like You Almost Didn’t Get Paid

Justin Barker, a producer at Creative Live, recently completed an instructional product video for a startup company in San Francisco. When this company refused to pay him and the contractors that he had hired, it was taken as highly offensive. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for creatives to get stuck with unpaid invoices and lame excuses from some clients; Justin is not alone. This is happening to creative entrepreneurs more frequently than other entrepreneurs. Read more at Bplans