Small Business Tips

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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Tips for Adapting to the Postage Rate Increase

United States Postal Service

In 1847 the first U.S. postage stamps were released, the five cent Ben Franklin and the ten cent George Washington. And, in just a week, the rate for postage stamps will increase to 41 cents – more than eight times that of the Ben Franklin.

You may be asking yourself, why the increase, since we just did this a little over a year ago? The stamp increase is to help cover operational expenses. Last year’s increase was mandated by Congress to fund an escrow account.

While the stamp increase won’t severely effect most business owners, the U.S. Post Office is also changing the postage rates for packages and this may cause a bit of a strain. But don’t worry, there are some ways to work around the added expense.

Continue Reading: “Tips for Adapting to the Postage Rate Increase”

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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 @ 12:12 AM CDT

Money, Operations |

Expanding Your Business Overseas: Money and Taxes

When I bring up the subject of money with regard to expanding your business to the global market, I’m not necessarily referring to your profit margin. More specifically, I’m referring to the actual paper or coin used as payment for the product your provide.

Upon initial movement toward an overseas expansion, you may think that it would be obvious that you accept foreign currencies. However, you are better off not to. The conversions rates for foreign currencies fluctuate so frequently, which means you would probably lose money if you accepted foreign currency from all of your foreign customers.

If you must deal in foreign currencies, there are some options:

1. Forward Contracts – Locks in the conversion rate for when transaction/sale is finalized.
2. Options – Allows for the opportunity to convert funds, but it is not a requirement.
3. Bank in that Country – Open a bank account in the country where you do the most business so that you can deal in currency for both income and expenses there.

Most countries will gladly accept American businesses into their market, providing “special pools of tax-funded R&D money” even real estate specifically set aside for to attract foreign investment. You may even get special tax breaks in those countries as a foreign business.

The U.S. Commercial Service can help you find those countries who would welcome you with open arms. For $680-$800 per day, the Commercial Service’s Gold Key Program will set up appointments for you to meet with potential overseas partners and provide translators. Find a U.S. Commercial Service specialist in your area.

Be sure to hire a lawyer in any country you do business in that specializes in foreign businesses. You will need to have someone who is familiar with your position and that country’s laws so that he can watch your back and make sure you are aware of any changes in tax law, etc.

If you are, in fact, looking to expand your business overseas, I highly recommend that you not only check out the other parts of this post series, but also examine the resources provided at the end of each post before making that transition. Prepare yourself for every aspect of business in any country you select before making that final leap into the well spring of new consumers.

Pt. 1: Why and Why Not Expand Overseas?
Pt. 2: Labor Laws
Pt. 3: Protecting Your Product

• How to Get Started

Currency Resources:
Oanda Currency Conversion Calculator
Bank for International Settlements
Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Other Resources:
U.S. Advocacy Center

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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, April 23rd, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations |

Expanding Your Business Overseas: Protecting Your Product

When starting a business in America, one of the most crucial elements is to get your product or business practices patented or copyrighted. Unfortunately, when it comes to expanding your business to the global market, a U.S. patent won’t protect your money-maker, as they are not enforceable overseas. There are some things you can do, however, to guard yourself from idea theft.

What you should probably do first is file with the Patent Cooperation Treaty under the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). According to John Lanza, a Boston attorney, at a cost of $3,000 to $6,000, a PCT filing can preserve your right to patent your product in most major nations for up to 30 months. That way you can test the waters in a number of markets in order to find your niche.

Once you’ve determined where your product will be most successful, you should file a patent in that particular country. If you don’t, them moment you begin to offer your product copy-cats will begin producing competition with their knockoffs. Obviously the process for filing a patent differs with each location. For more assistance, The U.S. government provides a “tool kit” on international patents at

International patents have classifications, in order to streamline the application process. After all, there has to be a way to determine if someone already has a patent for a particular product in a particular country. For more information of this classification process, visit the WIPO’s International Classifications page.

Danger – be aware of the fact that China is one of the leading countries when it comes to intellectual property theft. Ted C. Fishman, author of China, Inc. recommends that, in order to help protect yourself you should establish a licensing agreement with a Chinese business partner that requires him to provide a substantial upfront contribution to your business expansion. Such an investment will keep him from revealing product specifications to another manufacturer or trying it on their own and will also help to keep other Chinese businessmen from trying to tap in to your market.

Bottom line, protect your most important asset, the product you provide, whatever it may take. Though there may be some cost to it, in the end it would be more than worth it. The alternative, a cheaper knockoff of your product stealing your customers, would be detrimental.

Tomorrow I will cover the monetary and taxation aspects of owning a business overseas.

Pt. 1: Why and Why Not Expand Overseas?
Pt. 2: Labor Laws
Pt. 4: Money and Taxes

• How to Get Started

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
European Patent Office
Patent Pending in 24 Hours by Richard Stim and David Pressman

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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Operations |