Showing posts from January, 2015

January 2015 Issue of The Small Business Advocate Newsletter Released

The Office of Advocacy has released the January 2015 issue of The Small Business Advocate newsletter . This edition features a roundup of the new leadership of the Congressional small business committees. The message from Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant details his accomplishments during his tenure at the Office of Advocacy. In addition, a recent SBREFA panel on infectious diseases submits its final report to OSHA. The newsletter can be found on Advocacy's website here .

"What3v3r Y0u D0 D0nt Writ3 Passw0rd."

The 25 Most Popular Passwords of 2014: We're All Doomed Well, that's an article title that caught my eye immediately.  I also thought that my passwords were not the best ever based on what tech friends have recommended.  Then I read this article.  Here are the top five used. 1. 123456 2. password 3. 12345 4. 12345678 5. qwerty My all time favorites on the list is trustno1 and letmein.  There are also the weird ones, like monkey and master.  Ultimately, if you are using any of these passwords, go change them.  Now.

International Student Data

Did you know that there are more international students in the United States from Asia than any other continent? Or that China alone, excluding the rest of Asia, sends more students to the United States than the rest of the world combined? SEVIS by the Numbers is a quarterly report using data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which SEVP uses to track and monitor the status and activities of nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors who enter the United States. The report highlights key SEVIS data in an engaging way to illustrate trends, values and information on nonimmigrant students studying in the United States. SEVIS by the Numbers Provides Comprehensive Data on International Students  - Highlights from the current report, with a link to download the current report. Student and Exchange Visitor Program Reports  - Archived reports.

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Sorry, folks, I don’t have any cake to share for this celebration, but don’t let that stop you from participating in Data Privacy Day. There are practical things you can do today, and every day, to protect your personal information. Here are a few scenarios where people may share more information than they intend. Scenario 1: At the coffee shop, you decide to use an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot to check your bank balance with an app. More from the Federal Trade Commission .

How to Choose a Brand Name That Can Be Trademarked

Branding experts often advise businesses to choose a brand name that describes their product or service — PlumbingMasters, for example, or Gianni’s Pizzeria. From a legal standpoint, however, these kinds of names aren’t likely to receive significant trademark protection under federal law. If you’ve been struggling to land on a brand name, consider these tips to come up with one that’s both memorable and can receive significant trademark protection. Brand names that are clever, memorable, and original have much more robust trademark rights than ones that are simply “descriptive” of the goods or services you provide. Read more from BPlans

How We Brought Our Employee Turnover Rate to (Nearly) Zero

By Jennifer Kimmich, owner of the Alchemist Cannery, a brewery in Vermont. For nearly 30 years, I have worked in the service sector and in this time I’ve worked alongside the most dedicated, hardworking people I will ever know. These are the folks, many of whom are single mothers, who keep our businesses running day in and day out, cleaning our hotel rooms, working our front desks, and ringing up our coffee and gas in the morning. These are the hardworking Vermonters who, like all workers in the United States, need paid sick time. Years ago my husband, John, and I decided to offer paid sick days to our employees. To the surprise of many small business owners, it was one of the best business decisions we have ever made. See more in the US Department of Labor blog .

Why the Best Presenters Are Boring People

Look around you. Most of today’s top presenters and entertainers are boring people with predictable schedules and habits: -George Carlin was obsessed about not repeating the same joke -Jerry Seinfeld practiced his first Tonight Show bit 200 times -Nelson Mandela loved his 5 a.m. walks -Tony Robbins engages in a writing session for 3 hours every day The best presenters are boring people. And, you can be great as well if you decide to be boring. More from Slideshare .

5 Surprising Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs

There is much written about what it takes to be a successful business owner. Passion, focus, and persistence show up again and again as traits you must have if you want to be an entrepreneur. However, we've uncovered some additional behaviors that don’t traditionally go along with the busy life of an entrepreneur but that can be of great benefit. Here are five traits of successful entrepreneurs that might surprise you. 1. They say no Read more at BPlans

The Most Effective Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Small businesses say good-ol' word-of-mouth remains the most effective marketing strategy, according to a recent report from Infusionsoft. Read more HERE See the Infusionsoft Marketing Report

26 Universal Questions for Positioning Your Brand

How do I position my brand for success? What is the most compelling story I can tell about my business? Those are two of the most substantial questions marketers and entrepreneurs have to answer when running their business. In fact, the answers will determine whether their brand will gain traction in the marketplace, grow, and get shared by consumers—or not. An analysis of over 1,000 case studies from around the world of successful brand building has found that there are 26 different "approaches" to telling a brand story, each representing a different but proven opportunity to positioning your brand and telling your brand story. Each approach can be summarized by a key question (or set of questions), which I share below. Tapping into this collective marketing intelligence by answering those 26 questions will help marketers sharpen their brand positioning platforms and tell better brand stories. The first 10 questions deal with the context in which the brand can be posit

SBA Underscores President’s Cybersecurity Plan; Provides Resources for Small Business Owners

By Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator Cyber-attacks against business and government seem to be unending, and recent hacks to Sony and Central Command have elevated our need to safeguard against potential threats to our online information, records and documents. President Obama has announced a legislative proposal that will make it easier for businesses and government to share information about possible cyber-attacks and security vulnerabilities. “Our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent those kinds of attacks from taking place,” the President said in a statement. At the SBA, we have taken steps to strengthen our public and private sector partnerships on cybersecurity to help small businesses learn how to secure their business information, identify security threats and guard against cyber-attacks. The SBA, in partnership with NIST and FBI, has conducted cybersecurity workshops for entrepreneurs and small business owners a

What Do I Include in a One Page Business Plan?

The problem you solve. This is also called “why-to-buy.” It’s a way to set a target market and potential growth in a single thought. Show the underlying need. And it doesn’t have to be all problems and needs as if your business is going to save the world. Lots of things nobody really needs make good businesses: expensive coffee, gourmet foods, perfume, and so forth. More from BPlans

Poll: Citizens United ruling hurts small business

Despite the Court’s overtures to small corporations, the biggest beneficiaries of the Citizens United ruling have surely not been the small business owners who fuel much of the nation’s economic growth and job creation, but rather some of the world’s largest companies... Most small business owners don’t have the time or money to spend on politics and are increasingly worried about their growing exclusion from the political process. A poll conducted by Small Business Majority found 66 percent of small business owners agreed the Citizens United ruling was bad for small business because it gives big business unlimited political spending power – this on top of 88 percent who negatively view the role money plays in politics. With the Citizens United decision, the political system has become even more stacked against the interests of small firms. Small businesses end up paying the price for big money politics that allow large firms to secure special perks and advantages over their smalle

What Young People Must Know About Entrepreneurship

1. Youth matters. Many entrepreneurs say they wished they started on their path sooner. So when better to start then at a young age?

9 Ways to Thank Your Favorite Customers

How can we thank our customers for their business this past year and encourage them to stick with us throughout the next? How do this in a more personal, human way than automated thank you emails? Nine entrepreneurs from YEC share their simple but effective ways to show appreciation for their best customers. Read more from BPlans

Business Owners Share Their 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again—you’ve no doubt been spending time on vacation and with your loved ones, and now it’s a new year and you’re getting back into the swing of things. Of course, being an entrepreneur, you’re also doing some reflection. How did 2014 go for you? The start of the year is a good time to take stock of what worked well for your business and what mistakes may have been made. It’s also the ideal time to look to the year ahead and decide on some resolutions and goals for what you’d like to accomplish. To give you an idea of what other business owners are planning to do in 2015, we asked entrepreneurs to send us their resolutions. Here’s a compilation of business resolutions for 2015. Read more at BPlans

Cracking Down on Pay Schemes that Cheat Workers out of Millions in Overtime Pay

As more and more companies begin outsourcing key business functions and enlisting the help of staffing agencies to provide workers, a fissure forms in the workplace, disrupting traditional employment relationships. Without a direct employee-employer relationship, these companies oftentimes mistakenly relinquish employer responsibilities which can have an adverse impact on workers who might experience a loss of benefits, inadequate health and safety protections, and sometimes lower pay. The Wage and Hour Division promotes compliance with a number of laws which impact almost every industry in the United States. One way to reach the 7.3 million establishments and 135 million employees covered by WHD laws in the U.S. is through planned initiatives. More from the US Department of Labor .

Big Data Benefits US Businesses

Big Data Benefits U.S. Businesses The   U.S. Cluster Mapping Project  is a  landmark joint partnership  between the Harvard Business School and the US government, created to give businesses access to new tools to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy.  How does it work?  In short, the project uses over 50 million open data records to identify “clusters” of related industries that can be hubs of innovation, jobs and private investment. How does it benefit businesses and communities? The cluster mapping tool helps "promote America's clusters and provide businesses and organizations with the data and strategies they need to capitalize on their region's assets," says U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Read more  on why regional economies are the “building blocks of U.S. competitiveness” or check out  a list of current industry clusters and their corresponding dashboards.

Real World Veteran-Owned Business Advice

Veteran entrepreneur and journalist Paige Thomas King breaks down the truth about owning a small business in this fascinating   article . She makes it clear that while the   government isn’t standing around waiting to hand out free money, there are several places you can go to get   financial assistance. Local events are great ways for veteran entrepreneurs to network and find out more about starting a business.  Discover  entrepreneur and business events near you .  And of course, don’t forget to check out the Department of Veteran Affairs'  newly revamped Veteran Entrepreneur Portal  and the Small Business Administration’s  Veteran’s Small Business Resource Guide  (a PDF).

Five Rookie Website Mistakes You Can Fix Today

The planning. The design. The writing. The programming and testing. Building a website can take hundreds of hours of work over months of time. And then, finally, it's live. The result of all that effort depends on a lot of little things. And some of those little things can often hurt the result—big time. Some common mistakes have big consequences, but they're also fixable. And some of those fixes are easy. This article is about a list of five mistakes that can cause big problems but have easy fixes. Note: The screenshots in this article are from sites that make big mistakes, but to protect their identities we've obscured their logos. Mistake 1: Homepage Headline Hints Read more from Marketing Profs

10 Hot Consumer Trends 2015

Rapidly evolving urban consumer attitudes are transforming our world. With only 5 years to go until 2020, the future seems closer than ever. Trends include using wearables for non-verbal communication, robots keeping us company, and the convenience of using things without the hassle of owning them. The insights in the report come from Ericsson ConsumerLab’s global research program, with a special focus this year on smartphone owners aged 15 to 69 in Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, New York, Moscow, San Francisco, Sâo Paulo, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo – statistically representing the views of 85 million frequent internet users. Report Infographic Presentation

NYS Tax Department issues guidance on START-UP NY Program Tax Benefits

The START-UP NY program* provides tax benefits to approved businesses that locate in vacant space or land of approved New York State public and private colleges and universities, approved strategic state assets, and New York State incubators affiliated with private universities or colleges that are designated as tax-free NY areas. This program will promote entrepreneurialism and job creation by creating tax-free communities across the state. START-UP NY is administered by New York State's  Empire State Development (ESD) . START-UP NY business tax benefits: Metropolitan commuter transportation mobility tax (MCTMT) - exemptions  employers self-employed individuals (including partners) Organization tax and license and maintenance fees - exemption   Real estate transfer tax – exemption for leases Sales tax  – credit or refund Tax Elimination Credit – corporation and income tax   Telecommunication Services Excise Tax Credit   START-UP NY personal income tax benefit:

Have you written your business plan yet?

Too many people try to  start a small business  without first developing a clear roadmap for the trip ahead, making success that much harder.  Don’t be one of them! Take advantage of December as National Write a Business Plan Month and nail the  six steps to writing a solid business plan. Looking for more help? Check out this  step-by-step tool   for writing a business plan.

Online Tax Comparisons

As of January 1, 2015  The links below lists the standard state level sales and use tax rates. Many states allow non-standard rates on many items including meals, lodging, telecommunications and specific items and services. These rates are not represented in the chart. The range of local taxes is also included as a quick reference. This can be used to determine the combined state and local tax rate maximums and minimums.  Sales and use tax rates change on a monthly basis. The chart is for informational purposes only. Specific questions should be addressed to your tax  adviser . Rate information is gathered from various State Department of Revenue materials and various rate providers including Thomson,  Sabrix  and Vertex, Inc. click here If you are seeking information on individual income tax, corporate income tax, sales tax, and/ or property tax collections this link will bring you to a site that will assist you. click here This link will provide you with state

Affordable Care Act 101 Webinars

SBA and Small Business Majority will host a free Affordable Care Act 101   webinar so small business owners can learn the basics of the Affordable Care Act and how they can enroll in health insurance marketplaces. January 8 at 3:00 PM ET :  Click to Register January 15 at 2:00 PM ET :  Click to Register January 22 at 2:00 PM ET :  Click to Register January 29 at 2:00 PM ET :  Click to Register