Showing posts from August, 2015

Employee Development a Weakness in Many Nonprofits

As we prepare to move office, I came across a set of booklets we have. They are from BoardSource and they cover topics such as Structures and Practices of Non-Profit Boards and Ten Basic Responsibilities of Non-Profit Boards. I went looking for current editions of these works and discovered this article: The BridgeSpan Group surveys non-profit organizations to help them get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. When they surveyed 131 non-profits, what they discovered was that for all their strengths, they were falling behind in other areas. The average score across all statements is 2.92. Overall nonprofit organizations exhibit important strengths: leadership’s vision, having skilled and effective staff, and having an inspiring culture that promotes values and produces results. However, those very strengths are often undermined by what they consider to be their organizational weaknesses, which include their nonprofits’ ability to develop and build staff skills over time. Th

The 10 Most Expensive Paid Search Keywords

The high cost of these keywords is the result of competitive bidding, according to the report. For mesothelioma-related keywords, attorneys set high bids in Google AdWords because they stand to receive large sums of money when a plaintiff in a lawsuit gains a favorable judgment or settlement. One thing to note is that keywords with the highest average CPCs tend to be more niche and do not generally correlate to the biggest overall ad spends. An analysis of 2014 data by Adgooroo found the top keywords by spend are for the most part broader terms, such as "free credit report" and "car insurance." Read more from MarketingProfs

The Booming Mobile Health Industry

The use of technology for bettering health is on the rise. Indeed, wearables and similar markets are projected to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years. In this slideshow, PersonalTech MDM shows where the boom is expected to happen and what practitioners should know. Special thanks goes to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s online Master of Science in computer science program for allowing us to use this data.

What Can Businesses Learn From Katrina?

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans ten years ago this week, it devastated the local business community as well as individual citizens. According to a  report by ABC News , insured losses alone totaled $40 billion. That’s a sobering statistic given the inevitability of disasters and emergencies. It can be especially daunting when you think about the whole range of potential events. Natural disasters, technological failures, pandemic—the list goes on. The good news is that you can take steps now to prepare for disasters, mitigate potential damage and plan for how your business will recover.  Hurricane season  is already underway in the Atlantic and Pacific, and September starts  N ational Preparedness Month  with this year's theme of  " Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today, " so read on for tips, resources and training to help make sure your business is prepared and can recover when disaster strikes. What Did We Learn? Hurric

U.S. small business sentiment slips on outlook

Sentiment among sole proprietors and other small business owners fell in July, according to the latest Thumbtack survey, suggesting similar readings in other surveys. Thumbtack noted concerns about future conditions and referenced headlines about Greece. Inflation expectations fell further and employment sub-indexes were lower. The Thumbtack index of small business sentiment has shown a tendency to anticipate moves in other sentiment indicators. • The Thumbtack sentiment index dropped ... Its three-month moving average has also declined modestly, bringing it in line with declines in major consumer sentiment surveys, although it has remained somewhat more resilient than the Small Business Optimism Index published by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). All four indexes have declined over the course of 2015. Bloomberg See Thumbtack

Labor board says franchise workers can bargain with parent company

Per the New York Times: The National Labor Relations Board in Washington on Thursday made it substantially easier for unions to bargain for higher wages and benefits, potentially opening the door for organized workers at fast food chains and other franchises to negotiate with the larger corporations, like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, rather than with individual restaurants, where they would have a harder time achieving their goals. The ruling, which may eventually be challenged in court in a variety of individual disputes, changes the definition of a crucial employer-employee relationship that had held in some form since the 1980s. Now, a company that hires a contractor to staff its facilities may be considered a so-called joint employer of the workers at that facility, even if it does not actively supervise them. A union representing those workers would now be legally entitled to bargain with the upstream company, not just the contractor, under federal labor law.

How stress affects business owners, executives and employees, and what to do about it.

Are You Stressed?  Saturday, August 15, was National Relaxation Day, a day dedicated to unwinding and enjoying our personal lives. But for most of us, relaxing on the weekend isn't the challenge. We could all do with a little less stress at work, too. In this newsletter, we look at how stress affects business owners, executives and employees as well as what to do about it.   The Biggest Driver of Stress: Lack of Control No one is surprised to learn that owning a small business is intensely stressful. It certainly isn't a surprise to business owners.   One study points to lack of control as the largest source of stress. Even worse, obsessing over things that you don't have the power to change can have physiological effects such as raising your blood pressure and emotional effects like reduced confidence.  Read more about  the leading causes of small business stress  and recommendations on how to manage them.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing Content

Few would argue that a finely-tuned message is key to the success of an email marketing campaign. At the same time, the styling and delivery of the message can be equally, if not more, important than the message itself. The way your email appears to both people and spam filters can make or break your campaigns. Unfortunately, the preferences of users and spam filters are directly opposed in some cases. The only way to ensure that your email gets delivered and received well is to create email content with both sets of preferences in mind. For your convenience, here are our set of email content do’s and don’ts. Do Proofread Your Content – This one should be self-explanatory. Spam filters key in on typos and sentences that don’t make sense as signs of spam. For human recipients, errors look unprofessional and careless. More from HiP

States take aim at HR and social media of employees

Employees' Twitter and Facebook accounts may be a rich source for HR analytics, but laws in many states could block or limit access to some of the data. A top employment lawyer said that at least 21 states have HR and social media laws that restrict employers from accessing employees' Twitter, Facebook and other such accounts. Most of the laws prohibit employers from requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a username and password for a social media account. MORE from TechTarget

Preliminary Statistics From the 2012 Survey of Business Owners are now Available

The preliminary results from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) are now available from  American FactFinder . As part of the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years, the Survey of Business Owners uses a sample of 1.75 million employer and nonemployer businesses. The results provide estimates on firms, receipts, payroll and employment by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. The preliminary release provides a high-level snapshot prior to the final release.

What Small Businesses Need to Know About The Switch to Chip Card Technology webinar 8/26

Did you know that an important shift is occurring with card payment technology that might impact your business? Keeping up with the newest, most secure card payment technology is very important for small business owners. SBA has teamed up with Square to help small businesses navigate the upcoming transition from magnetic stripe to chip card technology. Webinar | What Small Businesses Need to Know About The Switch to Chip Card Technology Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 2:00 pm ET REGISTER NOW !

Quarterly Lending Bulletin for First Quarter 2015

The Office of Advocacy has released its Quarterly Lending Bulletin, Small Business Lending: First Quarter 2015 . This report shows that small business borrowing conditions continued to improve gradually in the first quarter of 2015. For example, the percent change in small business loans outstanding (in amounts of $1 million or less) remained positive or unchanged for the sixth consecutive quarter. Small business loans outstanding totaled $595 billion and remained relatively flat from the previous quarter, but year-over-year (Q1 2014 to Q1 2015) showed an increase of 1.7 percent. Small Business Lending: First Quarter 2015, can be found on Advocacy's website here.

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect a small business like yours? Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be. The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials-

Grant Money for Artists in the Capital Region

Our well loved Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy is sending out a call to artists and arts organizations. The NYS Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Decentralization program is in partnership with the Arts Center to reach possible applicants in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties. Even more money has been allocated this year than last. The Arts Center will even help with the process.  Deadline to register is October 23, 2015. All the details are available on their website along with other programs for playwrights, poets and other creatives.

Top 5 Email Marketing Blogs to Follow

An article from Expanded Rambling . Also, Infographic: The history of online advertising from My Customer.

Effective Business Signage: 6 Factors

By  Rieva Lesonsky What’s the first thing that prospective customers see when they approach your business? Your signage tells them where you are, draws their attention and attracts them into your business (or possibly drives them away). Summing up your business brand for the world to see, your business signage creates that all-important first impression. How can you ensure it’s a good one? Whether you’re developing signage for a new business, or updating signage for an existing business, here are some things to consider. What are the constraints affecting signage in your area?  

Managing employees

Employee Handbooks The company employee handbook is one of the most important communication tools between your company and your employees. Not only does it set forth your expectations for your employees, but it also describes what they can expect from the company. It is essential that your company has one and that it be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Make certain that it is written in an understandable language which makes the company's policies accessible. The company employee handbook and related personnel policies are usually the first formal communication that you will have with an employee after they join your team. Make sure the first impression is a good one. Similarly, in the event of a dispute or poor performance review, this will be the first place that the employee turns. What Should an Employee Handbook Include? See BusinessUSA

How and Where to Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Everyone has to deal with the nitty-gritty details of starting a business; no matter your industry, getting started safely and legally involves at least a little red tape. You need to make your business an official legal entity, and take an in-depth look at what permits and licenses you need at the local, state, and federal levels to be able to operate your business without fear of being hit with a fine—or worse, having to close down. The term "business license" is a bit misleading as it makes it sound as if there is one license you apply for, sort of like a driver’s license, that you obtain and—voila! You’re legally in business. That is not the case. Read more from Bplans

For Veterans: Boots to Business REBOOT

Veterans: Thinking of starting your own business? The SBDC, VBOC, SBA & the Arsenal Business and Technology Partnership present a free one-week lunch time program for veterans who want to start, expand or purchase a small business. Meets Monday - Friday Sept. 28th – Oct. 2, 2015 From 11:30 am - 1:00 pm – lunch provided at no cost At the Michael R. McNulty Center for Veteran Entrepreneurial Activity, located at the Watervliet Arsenal. Registration required by September 23, 2015 Please contact Amy Amoroso / 518-380-5069 or Kathy Caruso / 518-326-5522

Help Navigating DOL Laws and Regulations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is committed to providing America's workers, employers, job seekers, and retirees — with clear and easy-to-access information on how to comply with federal employment laws. This information is often referred to as "compliance assistance," which is an important part of the Department's efforts to protect the wages, health benefits, retirement security, employment rights, safety, and health of America's workforce. For example: Employee vs Independent Contractor

How Much Funding Should You Raise?

Most businesses need to raise external funding from investors to take their company to the next level. An early stage startup will want to access funds to help further validate its business proposition. A more established business that already has traction may be looking for funding to help accelerate growth. Whatever stage your business is in, if you are seeking investment, determining how much funding you should raise is absolutely critical. The dangers of raising too little : Incorrectly assessing your funding need has serious repercussions on your business. It will lead to inadequate validation of your proposition, or to executing growth initiatives that do not materially move the needle. Whatever the case, the business is left in limbo. The dangers of raising too much : So, raising more funds than are needed is the right approach to take, right? Not necessarily. Just as raising too little is risky, raising too much funding is fraught with its own dangers. More from Bplan

Using “Parks and Recreation” to Teach Economics

Economic educators are always trying to find new ways to breathe fresh air into the economics classroom and to get away from conventional “chalk talk” methods made famous in movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ”  (1986). I know we all remember Ben Stein putting the class to sleep during a macroeconomics class. A new article  in the most recent edition of the Journal of Economics and Finance Education suggests a novel approach for capturing students’ attention: using the TV show “ Parks and Recreation ” to teach economics. The authors, L. Brooke Conaway and Christopher Clark, name this method “Swansonomics,”after Ron Swanson, a libertarian leaning character in the show.  “ Parks and Recreation,” a popular show on NBC, concluded after seven seasons in February. The idea of using TV shows as teaching methods for economics has been researched and blogged about before, specifically with “Seinfeld ,” “ The Simpsons ,”  and “The Office .”  These shows provide teachers with methods to mak

7 Tedious Office Tasks You Can and Should Automate

Why work harder when you can work smarter instead? Several office tasks are perfect candidates to automate -- without sacrificing the well being of your business. In fact, some of these tasks not only save time, but also can actually be done better through automation. Automation makes it less likely that (a) you’ll forget; (b) tasks will fall through the cracks if an employee leaves; (c) mistakes will occur through repetitive entry of information. Here are seven tasks that you can and probably should consider automating to get things done faster and more reliably: More from SBA

8 Creative Ways to Get More Customers

You’ve successfully launched your business, and built up a solid—if small—customer base. Starting small has its benefits; after all, it allowed you the opportunity to cultivate a loyal relationship with your customers. By now, you’ve had time to work out any kinks, and you’re confident that your product or service is truly the best your business can offer. Now, you’re eager to expand and grow your business. But, growing your customer base is much easier said than done. How do you get more customers for your business? I asked the Young Entrepreneur Council for their input, as well as Palo Alto Software’s Caroline Cummings and Tim Shoemaker. From marketing tactics to better networking, try these tips and watch your customer base grow quickly. Read more from Bplans

Sales: A Guide for the Small Business Owner

You have a great product or service. Now you have to sell it. This course will give you an overview of sales plans and other tools to get your product or service into your customer/consumer’s hands. Duration: 00:30:00 Go to

Preparing to Open a Franchise, from the Franchise King

In a previous post  we talked about deciding if a business is franchise worthy. The next step is the big one. It’s one thing to do market research on a business idea, it’s quite another to open your checkbook and put your money where your idea is. Here are a few things you’ll need to do to get your business going, and to get it franchise-ready. Open A Store In the case of Just Socks, my hypothetical idea, the next step assuming that the data found in the market research step was positive for a retail store like this, would be to open one up. And, unless you have the money needed to open a retail store, including furnishings, signage, and of course, inventory, you’re going to need to get a small business loan. The first step: Visit a local bank that offers small business lending, hopefully one that participates in programs administered by the SBA. Loans approved by the SBA offer certain guarantees for participating banks. Check out  SBA LINC , a free tool that connects borr

The Real Reason Your Employer Should Pay You More

Most of us aren't that engaged at work, as it turns out. Even a few years ago, we were wasting tens of billions in wasted meetings and unnecessary distractions at work. Today, some survey takers admit to wasting up to half the day on non-work-related distractions. If that's you, you may just be a bad employee — and admitting that is the first step. For the rest of us, those that are wasting a paltry 30 minutes or so, who feel generally disengaged, the solution may seem a lot more superficial: you're underpaid. This is a major shift from the sentiments of yesteryear, when boomers could pride in barely having two nickels to rub together but still work their way up to a leadership role. Today's reality is that while the economy has made strides toward recovery, wage growth over the last generation has taken a prolonged coffee break. More from Payscale

34 Educational Resources for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

When you’re ready to launch a startup, the name of the game is research. You need to tap every resource you can to learn the ins and outs of business. From securing funding to marketing your business, there’s a lot to consider. There are hundreds of resources online, but searching for worthwhile sites is time consuming and sometimes unsuccessful. So, we did the work for you. We’ve put together a list of 34 resources that will play a role in your startup. This list is broken into categories and is meant to be a one-stop-shop for aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more from Bplans

Upcoming SBA Webinars: Social Media, Affordable Care Act

Webinar | Social Media 101: A Roadmap to Winning Customers  Thursday, August 13, 2015 | 2:00 PM ET     Do you have questions about the best way to market your new or existing small business? Join the Small Business Administration (SBA) and AARP during a free hour-long webinar on August 13 to learn about:  Developing a marketing plan  Using social media  Building a website  Sizing up the competition  And more!  >>  Register Now    Webinars | Affordable Care Act 101