Showing posts from December, 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