Small Business Tips

October 2018 Archive
Small Business Loans & Grants

We all know money is everything when starting a new business. Fortunately there are many groups that are pleased to give you money for starting up a legitimate business.

Ken Yancey, CEO of Score.org, offers 5 steps on the topic:

1.) Consider city, county, or state assistance programs for qualified small businesses. Some examples include tax abatements, urban-renewal set-asides, rural access, workforce training, and economic development.

2.) Contact your state senator’s or representative’s office. The staff there can be helpful in pointing you toward state funds or programs for businesses.

3.) Take advantage of “in-kind” credits. Like cash, these can be used as matching funds. In one case, a state program counted a company’s $200,000 local property-tax abatement as part of the matching requirement.

Recommended Reading:
How To Fund A New Business
Look to the States for Small Business Grants
SBA.gov – Federal Grant Resources


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Local Currency Helps Small Business
Managing Business Cash Flow
Implementing a Wellness Program
Why Small Businesses are Gullible to Scams
Top Entrepreneurial Schools

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Money |

10 Interactive Marketing Tips

Interactive marketing takes the act marketing a step further by engaging the audience to gain and hold attention.

Interactive marketing is designed to keep the audience occupied while you subliminally advertise your product.

Mike Yapp of iMediaConnection.com offers us the top 10 best ways to create an interactive marketing scheme.

1) Multimedia
2) Opt-In
3) Personalization
4) Tell a Story
5) Include a Compelling Offer
6) Make it Immersive
7) Usability
8) Effective ROI
9) Reshaping the Brand
10) Send to a Friend (Viral Marketing)

10 Best Interactive Marketing Practices

Recommended Reading:

Upcoming Interactive Marketing Events 01/06
InteractiveMarketing.com – Marketing Tips
Create an Interactive Online Experience for Clients


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Elements of a Winning Brand
Choosing a Business Name
Marketing with Postcards
Establishing Your Brand
5 Affordable Marketing Tips

By Chris Brunner
Monday, October 22nd, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |

Will You Retire?

Retirement is not in the plans of most small-business owners, according to the newly-released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

Eight of 10 small-business owners surveyed said they are happy running their businesses and have no intention of retiring. Almost 4 out of every 10 said the only thing that would force them to retire is poor health.

Forty-two percent of small-business owners indicated they may cut back on work, but would never completely abandon their business. Only 19 percent plan on traditional retirement.

Even though retirement is many moons away for me, I feel that I will fall into the 42% of business owners who will cut back, but not completely abandon their business.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom
Reducing Taxable Income with Retirement Funds
Why Trump & Kiyosaki Want Us to Be Rich
Small Business Health Bill to Return to Senate
Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, October 21st, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

10 Opportunities for 2006

This small business forecast is brought to you courtesy of Anita Campbell of SmallBizTreands.com.

This list was subjectively chosen by Anita under 2 requirements:

1) The list is limited to businesses that the mainstream can identify with.
2) The list focuses on opportunities for the average entrepreneur.

That said, here is the Small Business Trends list of Top Ten Promising Business Opportunities for 2006:

1. Outsourced information technology services
2. eBay and Amazon related opportunities
3. Pet-related
4. Food and beverage related niche industries
5. Hobby and avocation-based businesses
6. Anything security related
7. Services for seniors and retired people
8. Information filtering services
9. Hospitality businesses that create an experience
10. Hispanic products and services

[Read More…]


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 3)
How to Sell Your Services Better
Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
Outsource Your Chores and Errands
Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, October 20th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

Broadband Over Powerlines

High-speed Internet connections over powerlines and electrical currents is not entirely new, however, it is little known to the public.

I believe this technology will soon be a viable alternative to Cable and DSL connections. With two-way speeds of up to 25 times that of Cable and DSL, this technology could have a significant impact on all things electronic.

There are, however, some kinks that need to be worked out first… such as interference with certain radio frequencies.

Customers who subscribe to the service simply plug a tiny modem, based on the HomePlug power line standard, into an electrical outlet and connect a cable from their computer for Internet access.

Recommended Reading:

HowStuffWorks: BPL (Broadband o’ Power Lines)
WiredNews: Broadband Over Power Lines?
Why broadband over power lines is a bad idea


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
Shared WiFi on the Way
But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)
Protect Your Wireless Networks

By Chris Brunner
Friday, October 19th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Technology |

C|net Launches Small Business Site

C|net has launched a new web site:
Best Practices: Tips for Your Small Business

“If you’re in business, you’re looking for solutions. What you do with your systems, software, and services is as important as what you buy. Knowing how to get started, where to turn, and what questions to ask helps you streamline your efforts and make more money.”

There are a few useful articles, but for the most part the site looks pretty bare. Since it is new, I assume that more content will be added over time. Bookmark this and check back in a few months as I have a feeling there will be some good articles posted there.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website
The Importance of a Logo
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
Learning from Google’s HR Techniques
Rules for Networking on MySpace

By Chris Brunner
Thursday, October 18th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Year-End Tax Planning Steps

In the month of December what do you think about… family, food, shopping? At this important time of the year, many business owners don’t give their tax situation a second thought.

What can you do to maximize your tax savings before clock strikes midnight on December 31st?

Barbara Weltman of Inc.com offers these 10 steps:

Step 1: Add to your revenue.
Step 2: Pay off accounts receivable.
Step 3: Make capital investments.
Step 4: Stock up on supplies.
Step 5: Distribute profits.
Step 6: Save for retirement.
Step 7: Make charitable donations.
Step 8: Get slow movers off your books.
Step 9: Adjust your estimated taxes.
Step 10: Get ready for new 2006 tax laws.

Source: 10 Steps to Year-End Tax Planning

Recommended Reading:

MotleyFool – Year-End Tax Planning Tips, Part I
MotleyFool – Year-End Tax Planning Tips, Part II
Google.com Search – “Year End Tax Savings”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Reducing Taxable Income with Retirement Funds
Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor
Personal Savings in Decline
Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom
More Tips for Expo Success

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Taxes |

Fair Tax Legislation

Like most small business owners, I cringe when paying taxes. It’s my duty as an American citizen, however, I question if taking such a large chunk of what I earn is the right way.

Enter the Fair Tax legislation also known as H.R.25.

The Fair Tax repeals the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift tax. A national sales tax of 23% on the use or consumption in the United States of taxable property or services would be implemented. In other words, only the money you spend would be taxed.

1) Liberation of skilled workers.

Burns argues that income taxes fall hardest on skilled men and women who work hard in, and sometimes own, America’s small businesses. The burden of time and fees is the single largest thing that keeps these workers from accumulating wealth.

These workers are not represented by anyone in Congress, whether Democrat or Republican. Our laws are written by special interests that range from the AARP to the nameless lobbyists who tack on special tax breaks that benefit a single company or industry. That’s the way it is. It is an entirely corrupt system.

2) If you don’t spend your income, everyone benefits from it.

By not spending the money you earn, you are saving it. This extra cash flow will open up new capital for our economy. It would provide new cash for bank deposits, inventory for stores and manufacturers, and capital for equipment. Without the drain of taxation, a larger supply of capital would force down interest rates.

3) Greater equity in taxation.

The only true winners in our current tax system are the lobbyist who represent self-interest groups at the ultimate expense American small business owners like you and I. Both political parties fail to recognize that the worlds of work and entitlements are on a collision course.

Recommended Reading:

FairTax.org – Americans for Fair Tax
The FairTax Book by Neal Boortz
Thumbnail Sketch of the FairTax


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
IRS Payments by Credit Card
Alternative Minimum Tax
Managing Business Cash Flow
Reducing Taxable Income with Retirement Funds
IRS Audit Triggers

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Taxes |

Building Your Office

“The most productive office is one that is not only comfortable and attractive, but is also functional.”

Last year when I moved my home-based business into a leased office space, I needed to select a new desk setup. I chose a corner desk with a desk extension off the left side. Behind me I have a bookcase/shelf system that holds various decor and books. The ad photo above shows the desk setup that I purchased.

I love this setup not only because it looks great, but also because it’s extremely functional. The setup fulfills every need I had including a comfortable computer position, a desk for writing and stacking and even an attachment to place sticky notes.

Need a comfortable office chair? They are expensive, but I highly suggest a Herman-Miller Aeron chair. It is by far the most comfortable office chair I have ever sat in (and I’ve tried alot of chairs!). Don’t settle for a cheap alternative!

Recommended Reading:

Consider needs first in office furniture
10 Common Home Office Mistakes
How to Use Artwork to Enhance Any Room


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Standing on the Job
Cut the Clutter!
Aprils Fools Day Office Pranks
Advertising Quality in Your Product
How to Write an Effective Advertisement

By Chris Brunner
Monday, October 15th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Protecting Your Clientele

Headhunting is a common practice these days.

An employee informs you that he will be leaving his positions in order to take up a new job offer. Soon you learn that this new job offer came from a direct competitor. Chances are, your employee will try to take customers with them.

How can you protect the employee/company/customer relationships that you’ve worked so hard to gain?

Restrictive Covenants – require employees who interact with customers or work with confidential information to be bound by a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement or both.

Keeping Former Employees Away From Your Customers

Recommended Reading:

Nolo.com – Non-compete Agreements
FindLaw.com – Non-compete Agreements
Business Owner’s Toolkit – Non-compete Agreements


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Preparing for a Health Inspection
Preparing Your Company for its First Employee
What Employees Want from You
Competing for Business with a Former Employer
Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, October 14th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Ownership |

Absolut Advertising

If you’ve looked at a magazine within the last 25 years, you’ve probably seen at least one Absolut Vodka advertisement.

It’s been named one of the 10 best campaigns of the 20th century by America’s Advertising Age Magazine. To date, it comprises 1,450 original ads, with more added each month.

“Why are ABSOLUT ads so memorable? Why do collectors crave them? Why are famous artists and writers enthusiastic about creating them? The concept is easy and the execution brilliant. First, two simple words — and the first is always the same — second, a single stunning, image that complements the headline. Like a couple in love.

It proves that advertising doesn’t have to be complicated; rather, advertising can and should respect people for their wit and intelligence. The most impressive, impfactful ads are often the simplest. This knowledge is key to the ABSOLUT brand’s success”

–Richard W. Lewis, ABSOLUT Worldwide Account Director

AbsolutAd.com


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Ideas to Generate Business on Valentine’s Day
Polish Your Company Image
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
Why Your Business Isn’t Growing
Baby Boomers Expected to Lead Business Boom

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, October 13th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

What IRS Auditors Look For

As an entrepreneur, you may have or know someone who has been audited by the IRS. If an audit is in your future, stay calm and understand what the auditor will be looking for…

1) Did you report all of your business sales or receipts?
2) Did you write off personal living costs as business expenses?
3) Does your lifestyle square with your reported income?
4) Did you take cash or otherwise divert income without declaring it?
5) Did you write off personal auto expenses as business?
6) Did you claim personal costs as business expenses?
7) Are you filing payroll tax and making tax deposits for employees?
8) If you hire people you call “independent contractors,” are they really employees?

What Auditors Look for When Examining a Business

Recommended Reading:

Top 20 Tips for Surviving an Audit
How to Reduce the Chance of an Audit
Audit Technique Guides by Industry


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Independent Contractors
IRS Audit Triggers
A New Way for Employees to Get Paid
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 1)
Last Minute Tax Tips

By Chris Brunner
Friday, October 12th, 2018 @ 12:10 AM CDT

Taxes |

Marketing with Postcards

Postcards may be one of the best kept secrets of modern marketing.

They can produce a surge of traffic to your web site or a flood of high-quality sales leads. Campaigns are easy to track and almost everyone reads post cards, even the good folks who throw out all your bulk direct mail!

How can you market effectively by using only postcards? Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:

1) Ditch the Sales Pitch.
2) Get Right to the Point.
3) Send your postcards via First Class mail.

7 Tips for Successful Postcard Marketing

Recommended Reading:

10 good reasons to market with postcards
Marketing With Post Cards
Postcard Printing – Design Postcards Online


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing
Polish Your Company Image
How Accessible are You?
10 Interactive Marketing Tips
Remembering Your Customers

By Chris Brunner
Thursday, October 11th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Defeating Spam and Phishing

An estimated 45 percent of all e-mail is defined as spam, costing business worldwide $20 billion a year in lost productivity and technology expenses, according to the Radicati Group, a market research firm in Palo Alto, California.

Following are five critical tips which will help you create a more productive workplace that is better protected against spam and phishing attacks–even if you have minimal or no IT staff.

1) Make sure your employees are aware of “phishing” attacks.
2) Educate employees on the how-tos of secure e-mail usage.
3) Protect your business from being “phished.”
4) Let your employees have some control.
5) Choose an e-mail security solution that’s right for you.

Recommended Reading:

What is Phishing?
How to prevent spam


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing
How Accessible are You?
Cybercrime on the Rise
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 1)
Leaders as Strong Public Speakers

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

IRS Redesigns Form 941

The Internal Revenue Service recently unveiled the redesign of Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.

The redesigned form features an improved layout, plain language instructions, simplified deposit reporting and paid preparer identification. The form is also scannable, which the IRS expects will reduce transcription errors.

“… The IRS wants to simplify its forms,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “The new Form 941 will help achieve that.”

Form 941 is used to report wages, tips and other compensation paid, as well as Social Security, Medicare and income taxes collected.

IRS Unveils Redesigned Employment Tax Return


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
IRS Payments by Credit Card
IRS Puts Small Business Under the Microscope
Estimating Income Tax
Estimating Self-Employed Tax
IRS Audit Triggers

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Taxes |

3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology

Thinking of investing in new technology for your business?

Vendors have recently slashed prices for computers and other technology. “What you used to spend $2,000 for, you can get for $950 to $1,200,” says Alan Pearlman, an attorney and computer consultant. “I don’t think there’s a better time to buy than right now.”

Be on the lookout though. The prices of PC parts are on the rise and will be passed on to you, the consumer.

How can you pay less while getting more than everyone else? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Renegotiate existing contracts for consulting and network services.
2) Make sure you need whatever new technology you do buy.
3) Set up a system to keep doing it.

Finally, keep in mind that newer technology isn’t always better!

Recommended Reading
How to Buy Computer Equipment for Your Business
When Should I Upgrade My Computer Hardware?


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Protect Your Wireless Networks
A Newer Way of Avoiding High Energy Bills
More Tips for Expo Success
Broadband Over Powerlines

By Chris Brunner
Monday, October 8th, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Technology |

Cut the Clutter!

Look around your desk right now. Feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the clutter? If so, don’t you think it’s time to loose some of that weight by getting rid of all the papers and notes you don’t need anymore?

Nancy Van Valkenburg of Utah’s Standard Newspaper, Online Edition offers the following advice:

The first step is to start making those delayed decisions. … suggests clients sort papers into three piles using the F.A.T. system. The letters stand for File, Act and Toss. … advocate positioning files and tools by proximity based on the frequency of your need for them.

… compare an office to a kitchen. A coffee maker or toaster you use every day may be kept on an otherwise clear kitchen counter.

Things to do: Get organized

Recommended Reading
Five Cures for Office Clutter
Organizing Office Clutter
Tips to Tame the Office Clutter Monster


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Tips for Sorting Through Overwhelming Files
Building Your Office
Help Wanted: Advertising Job Openings Online
Direct Mail Marketing Tips (1 of 2)
You Cant Replace Face Time

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, October 7th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Developing a Reputation

In business a good reputation can carry your company a long way.

Your reputation alone can actually earn new business without spending a dime on advertising. If people know you are good at what you do or that you have a superior product, not only will they come back for more, they may also tell their friends about it.

About.com offers this comprehensive five part article on what you can do to develop your reputation with clients and potential customers in a variety of ways.

1) Be Prolific
2) Be Ubiquitous
3) Be Generous
4) Be Dependable
5) Be Credible

Recommended Reading:
Do What You Say You’ll Do
How to Gain Immediate Credibility
Word-of-Mouth: The World’s Best-Known Marketing Secret


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Communicating Competence
Remembering Your Customers
Advertising Quality in Your Product
Marketing Strategies for Halloween
Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, October 6th, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Ownership |

Independent Contractors

While running a small business, there may come a time when you need a job done, but you don’t want to bring someone on full time to do it. This is where an independent contractor steps in.

The definition of an independent contractor has recently been disputed in a Utah courtroom. Read more about this story and the results of the charge and appeal in the Salt Lake Tribune.

For more help in determining whether a person who works for you is an employee or independent contractor, read IRS publication 15a.

Recommended Reading:
Employee or Independent Contractor?
Independent Contractor VS. Employee – State of Missouri
IRS.gov – Independent Contractors vs. Employees


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Becoming a Government Contractor
What IRS Auditors Look For
Preparing for Disaster
Finding An Employee That Matches Your Leadership Style
Determining Your Employee’s Salary

By Chris Brunner
Friday, October 5th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |

The Networking Boogie Man

Many business owners cringe at the idea of attending an event where you know nobody — and are expected to get to know as many people as possible. It’s a part of business, and a fear that some of us have to overcome to be successful. Like it or not, conducting business requires a little face-to-face time.

Australian author Mary Morel offers some advice on this topic in her article “Network Your Way to the Top”.

You will probably get most out of networking if you choose a few networking groups and go to their meetings regularly. The more often you attend networking events, the stronger relationships you build and the more you enjoy yourself.

As with any marketing, you will get better results if you take a strategic approach. Networking events aren’t the place for a sales pitch, though you may give someone your business card and possibly your brochure.

Network Your Way to the Top

Recommended Reading:
Get People Talking About You
Top 10 Networking Skills for 2005
Networking Strategies for Shy Professionals
8 Ways to Use Business Cards to Network and Market Your Business


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Networking with Business Cards
How to Profit From Networking
Ways to Promote Yourself
Building New Business Contacts: Networking 101
Testing New Marketing Ideas

By Chris Brunner
Thursday, October 4th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Networking |

Freelance Your Expertise

I remember the time before I started my own business. I was stuck in the rat race spending 40 hrs a week making other people wealthy.

Do you have a special talent that you could monetize? Do you have the ability to fulfill the needs of thousands (even millions) of people?

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1) Offer a service you know people want.
2) Take the time to establish yourself.
3) Don’t rush to quit your job until you save some money.
4) No matter what your field, contracts are important.
5) Establish an accounting system.

How to Freelance Your Expertise

Recommended Reading:
Making it as a Freelancer Journalist
Evolt.org – Freelancing Tips
Building Your Freelance Business on a Shoestring Budget


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
5 Affordable Marketing Tips
Find a Financial Planner
Pulling Your Teen Out of the Financial Hole
Remembering Your Customers
The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Ventures |

The Importance of a Logo

Your identity is an extension of your business that communicates visually, through appearance, and emotionally, through symbolism. Curtailing or ignoring thought, revision, and growth in the design process will hurt your finished product and corporate image.

Have a graphic artist professionally create your logo based on how you want your customers to view your company. For instance, when the GreatFX logo you see above was designed, I wanted something that would show speed, quality, and modernism. The end result was a design that only took a few revisions before we had a winner.

Having a logo created professionally may cost a bit more in the short term, but will pay off multiple times in the long run. A professional logo is one of the best investments a business owner can make!

Recommended Reading:
The Importance of a Logo
Logo Design Articles
More Logo Design Articles


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
What is Branding?
Advertising Quality in Your Product
Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

What is Branding?

Many people think branding has to do specifically with product design. While product design helps facilitate the branding process, branding is actually much more intricate.

Branding starts with your consumers brains and not with your product design. Branding is not how your product looks. Nor is it how your consumer feels and perceives your product. Nope. Branding is making your consumers think that there is no other product except yours!

Recommended Reading:
Building Own Brand Important for Small Companies
What is Branding?


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Establishing Your Brand
The Importance of Branding
Elements of a Winning Brand
The Importance of a Logo
Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses

By Chris Brunner
Monday, October 1st, 2018 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing |