http://www.sba.gov/community/blog/rss/13731/feed en SBA.gov Website Focuses on Specific Needs of Small Businesses http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/sbagov-website-focuses-specific-needs-small-businesses <p>After gathering feedback in small business focus groups in Baltimore, Richmond and Washington D.C., SBA is moving ahead with a series of communication initiatives that highlight how its programs and services can help entrepreneurs. In the process, the agency&rsquo;s website at SBA.gov is pulling in increased traffic and engaging more entrepreneurs via social media.</p> <p>Using a variety of tactics, including the SBA.gov website, email campaigns and <a href="http://www.sba.gov/social-media">social media</a>, we&rsquo;re packaging and sharing information about our programs to provide small business owners with a one-stop resource built around key topics.</p> <p>For example, through targeted outreach and social media, one topic -- how small businesses can <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/online-courses-government-contracting">sell to the federal government</a> and tap into the $100 billion that the government awards to small businesses each year -- saw a 72 percent increase in visits to the government contracting classroom page. Those visits resulted in a 255 percent registration increase in &ldquo;Gov&rsquo;t Contracting 101&rdquo; courses.</p> <p>Another topic highlights resources for <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-businesses" title="women owned landing page">women-owned businesses</a> and has spurred a 92 percent total increase in page views by current or aspiring women small business owners. Other topics include tips to help reduce their taxes and how to take advantage of the President&rsquo;s Startup America campaign.</p> <p>The SBA has listened and acted and is putting the needs of small businesses front and center to demonstrate SBA&rsquo;s continued commitment to better serve the needs of the nation&rsquo;s 29 million small business owners.</p> <p>Interested small businesses and prospective entrepreneurs should go to <a href="http://www.sba.gov/">http://www.sba.gov/</a>&nbsp; and follow us on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/SBAgov">Twitter</a>, <a href="http://www.facebook.com/sbagov">Facebook</a> &amp; <a href="http://www.sba.gov/blog">Blogs</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/sbagov-website-focuses-specific-needs-small-businesses#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/133441 In The Loop Government Contracting Marketing Starting Wed, 04 Apr 2012 14:08:38 +0000 nicoj 133441 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: How Does Your Business Prepare for a Natural Disaster? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-how-does-your-business-prepare-natural-disaster <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Getting back to business after a disaster depends on how prepared you are today. As a small business owner, you invest your time, money and effort to make a venture successful. Having an emergency plan in place before a disaster strikes can mean staying in business after a disaster, and in some cases, saving your company. &nbsp;As hurricane season begins, disaster preparedness is critical.</p> <p>Last month, we asked small business owners in the SBA Community for their advice on putting together a disaster preparedness plan, and for those that experienced a disaster, we asked about the steps they took to help their business recover after the&nbsp;disaster. Here are some of their tips:</p> <p><strong>Invest the Time to Make a Plan</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/inevolvesb" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(54, 111, 184); font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', Times, serif; font-size: 12px; " title="View user profile.">inevolvesb</a>&nbsp;advised businesses take a disaster scenario seriously and make the smart move to put together a preparedness plan, saying &ldquo;it makes good business sense to have a plan. It doesn&#39;t require a huge investment to protect your company either.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Test Your Plan Frequently</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/smallbusinesshelp" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(54, 111, 184); font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', Times, serif; font-size: 12px; " title="View user profile.">smallbusinesshelp</a>&nbsp;recommended testing a recovery plan annually, or more frequently, in order to gage its effectiveness. They commented &ldquo;by testing your plan each year, you ensure that the plan is still up to date and relevant to your present situation.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Backup Your Files Electronically</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/rribeiro" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(54, 111, 184); font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', Times, serif; font-size: 12px; " title="View user profile.">rribeiro</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="/community/users/lifecube" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(54, 111, 184); font-family: Georgia, 'Times New Roman', Times, serif; font-size: 12px; " title="View user profile.">LifeCube</a>&nbsp;suggested businesses use a remote access system to backup valuable IT resources in the event of a natural disaster, or use an IT &ldquo;Cloud&rdquo;. Rribeiro commented&nbsp; &ldquo;if your business is able to operate remotely, while others around you aren&#39;t, not only will your data and operations be safe, but you&#39;ll be ahead of the game.&rdquo;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-how-does-your-business-prepare-natural-disaster#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/120101 In The Loop Wed, 06 Jul 2011 17:01:10 +0000 nicoj 120101 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Advice For Young Entrepreneurs http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-advice-young-entrepreneurs <p>Getting started as an entrepreneur can be an exciting, and at times scary, thought for young people. First-time business owners face many challenges on the path to becoming successful, such as obtaining credit, complying with regulations, and building a customer base.</p> <p>In May, we asked business owners in the SBA community for suggestions they wish someone would have given them before starting a business. Here are some of their tips:</p> <p><strong>Develop a solid business plan</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/johnhenning" title="View user profile.">johnhenning</a>&nbsp;suggested having both a business plan and procedures set up before starting or purchasing a business: &ldquo;systems and processes are important as well as a proven business model.&rdquo;</p> <p><a href="/community/users/wgalkin" title="View user profile.">wgalkin</a> also stressed the importance of having a good business plan, saying: &ldquo;The best advice I can give is to develop a detailed business plan. This can be a lot of work, but it serves to clarify and scope out many issues and also allows you to assess the costs.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Focus on marketing</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/rcaldwell" title="View user profile.">rcaldwell</a>,&nbsp;&nbsp;the owner of an appliance repair shop in Idaho, suggested having a dedicated marketing strategy to attract customers, rather than buying ads and hoping to lure business: &ldquo;Do not think that just because you buy yourself a yellow-page ad that the public will come flocking to your business.&rdquo;&nbsp;Rcaldwell also said that making your advertisements &ldquo;quick and to the point&rdquo; will help you effectively communicate a product to your potential customers.</p> <p><a href="/community/users/wgalkin" title="View user profile.">wgalkin</a> recommended accounting for significant marketing costs in the initial phase of a company.</p> <p><strong>Be strategic about financing</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/ralph-alterowitz" title="View user profile.">Ralph Alterowitz</a>, the President of a Maryland venture capital consultancy, suggested getting a good sense of your financing needs, then taking the time to plan the best way to raise capital. Mr. Alterowitz shared his thoughts about the importance of having a good financing strategy: &ldquo;After building a grounds-up budget&mdash;determining how much money is needed for staff, facilities, equipment, supplies and materials, testing, development and marketing&mdash;the entrepreneur needs to determine the fastest, easiest and least costly way to raise the money needed.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Distinguish yourself from competitors</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/pfleet" title="View user profile.">pfleet</a> suggested trying to find ways to do business differently than rivals, in order to distinguish the business in a fundamental way.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Prepare in other ways</strong></p> <p><a href="/community/users/jrdundon" title="View user profile.">JRDUNDON</a> had three pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs deciding what to do before they start a venture: carefully choosing what type of entity would be best; learning the tax implications of decisions; and being willing to ask others for help.</p> <p><a href="/community/users/carrotandstick" title="View user profile.">Carrotandstick</a> recommended getting information on the success and failure rates of similar businesses in the area before pursuing an idea: &ldquo;If the last 7 pizza shop startups went bust, find out why before you spend any money on dough.&rdquo;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-advice-young-entrepreneurs#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/119801 In The Loop Wed, 01 Jun 2011 20:29:19 +0000 nicoj 119801 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: A Behind the Scenes Look into Lending http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-behind-scenes-look-lending <p><em>Many small business owners will try to apply for lending at some point while operating their business. Mark French and his company Crest Capital have been in the lending business since 1989 and help small businesses with equipment leases and loans as well as software financing. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed Mark, also known as </em><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/4360" target="_blank"><em>CrestCapital</em></a><em> in the Community, for some insight into lending to small businesses. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What financial information do you look at when qualifying a small business?</strong></p> <p>There are two main ratios that we look at when trying to decide if the financial stability of a business, the current ratio and the debt ratio. Many small business owners may feel that this is too much finance and accounting for them, but it is necessary for small business owners to take some time and learn these types of ratios.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The current ratio is the current assets divided by the current liability. If that number is above 1, your business is considered healthy. If it is below one, a lender may see your business as having difficulty meeting current obligations and may not want to lend you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The second ratio, debt ratio, is the opposite, the lower the number the better. Debt ratio is your total debt divided by your total assets. This ratio tells us a lot about the staying power and the past decisions of the business. If the ratio is higher, there is more risk involved.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How can you improve your finances to attract lenders?</strong></p> <p>Retain more earning. If you retire more cash from operation, your cash level is high and it will improve both your current ratio and debt ratio. Personal and business expenses can become blurred for many small business owners, but successful ones can balance this. Having more cash on hand tells us that you are able to save your money and it gives you some slack if you lose a big customer or the economy makes a turn for the worse.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What non-financial information do you take into consideration?</strong></p> <p>The non-financial aspects can also play a big part in whether we do business. We and most other lenders break it down into the Five ;s.</p> <ul> <li><em><strong>Character</strong> - </em><span style="line-height: 18px;">Character is somewhat subjective, but we do look at specific factors. We look at the busines-s lending history. Have all loans been paid back on time? How well are the financials balanced? These factors give us a lot of insight into how the business will handle our loan. </span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><em><strong>Credit</strong> - </em><span style="line-height: 18px;">Credit and character can be broken down into two sub-categories. This would be for business less than 5 years old and those older. This is because 80% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years. This statistic makes it very hard to want to lend. For younger businesses, we will look at the principa-s personal credit history. This is because there is no historical data for the business.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><em><strong>Cash Flow</strong> - </em><span style="line-height: 18px;">Most small business owners understand cash flow. We want to make sure there is money coming in and that the company has enough money to have the cash to pay back the loan. If a payment is due, we want the payment now and not when your customer pays you.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><em><strong>Capacity</strong> - </em><span style="line-height: 18px;">This is similar to depth of a football. If something goes wrong, can your business recover? This refers to if you lose a client, lose a major employee, or the economy takes a turn for the worse. We want to make sure we can get our money back.</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li><em><strong>Collateral</strong> - </em><span style="line-height: 18px;">Most people understand this because it is always been used with lending. We will look at what type of collateral you have to offer just in case things do not go according to plan.</span></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Does your personal credit affect your business credit?</strong></p> <p>Potential borrowers ask of this all the time. The way you handle your personal finances is usually a good indicator of how you do it with your business. Many businesses do not have the historical data to reliable sorely on business credit history. If you have bad personal credit, try to get that corrected. It will take time, so the faster you can get on track the faster it will become better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What surprises you the most? </strong></p> <p>People always think that bankruptcy is an option and that it truly vanquishes your debt. However, the lenders are still stuck with the bill. It is a chain reaction where a lot of people will lose money and have to recover from it. We are a small business as well and that is why we take so much time in qualifying potential borrowers. If someone defaults on a $100,000 loan, it will take a lot of other customers to recover from that.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328" target="_blank">CrestCapital</a></p> <p>Date Registered: August 9, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 27</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 49</p> <p><em>As of 1/14/2011</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Cents/A-Financing-Alternative-Non-Bank-Lenders/ba-p/44109" target="_blank">A Financing Alternative: Non-Bank Lenders</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Cents/Ultimate-Guide-to-Financing/ba-p/29875" target="_blank">Ultimate Guide to Financing</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong><font size="1">Disclaimer </font></strong></em></p> <p><em><font size="1">Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney.</font></em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-behind-scenes-look-lending#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118981 In The Loop Fri, 14 Jan 2011 15:04:46 +0000 JimD 118981 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Recognizing and Rewarding Employees When Cash is Tight http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-recognizing-and-rewarding-employees-when-cash-tig <p>The holiday season is a popular time to recognize employees for a year well done. Many businesses routinely give out holiday bonuses in December as well as host holiday parties.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, with many businesses struggling to maintain a profit and trying to hold on to their current customers, it has become difficult if not impossible for companies to monetarily reward employees.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Balancing recognition, employee morale, and the budget can be extremely challenging. Following are some recommendations from the community on ways to recognize your employees for a job well-done without spending a lot of money.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Giving and Spending Quality Time </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/21371" target="_self">Dandylion</a> suggested treating your employees to a cooked meal - when she owned a childcare center and business was tight one year, she showed her employees appreciation by cooking a meal for them herself.;<em>Just let them know how much you appreciate them in small ways all year lon-a word here and there can mean a lot to someone-</em> said<em> </em><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/21371" target="_self">Dandylion</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/22608" target="_self">KeavysCorner</a> is a small business owner with 3 employees and takes them out to dinner with their spouses. He said, <em'when always="" and="" appreciated="" at="" bosses="" christmas.="" did="" em="" for="" have="" how="" i="" it="" my="" of="" one="" personal="" remembered="" this="" us="" was="" when="" young=""></em'when></p> <p><em'when always="" and="" appreciated="" at="" bosses="" christmas.="" did="" em="" for="" have="" how="" i="" it="" my="" of="" one="" personal="" remembered="" this="" us="" was="" when="" young=""></em'when></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/22894" target="_self">wena_cuyos</a> said not only giving them awards but also planning team-building outings as a suggestion, which allows them to leave work for a while and enjoy free time.</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/22208" target="_self">robwar97</a> suggested giving your employees an extra unannounced half day on New Years Eve, which works well for his call-center employees.</p> <p><strong>Planning and Throwing a Party </strong></p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/22430" target="_self">jgut12</a> keeps his business morale up by throwing a company holiday party at the office while his employees would normally be working.</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/23056" target="_self">weight-training</a> had a catering group come in to set up a party and gave a small appreciation speech for employees.</p> <p><strong>Public Recognition throughout the Whole Year</strong></p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/23694" target="_self">katie_byrd11</a> believes the best way to recognize a valuable employee is by recognizing their talent on a consistent basis. Instead of offering them a one-off bonus, it would be better to give them public recognition within your company. <a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/23694" target="_self">katie_byrd11</a> added, <em'&lt; em=""><em>Remember, a good leader recognizes publicly and condemns privately&#39;</em></em'&lt;></p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/23766" target="_self">bill316</a> also said to hand out the recognition all year. <em'if all="" and="" big="" branch="" but="" department="" do="" down="" em="" face-to-face="" get="" have="" he="" heads="" if="" instead="" it="" managers="" memos="" of="" offices="" on="" passed="" personal="" regional="" s="" said.="" send="" so="" something.="" thank="" that.="" the="" then="" through="" to="" you="" your=""></em'if></p> <p><em'if all="" and="" big="" branch="" but="" department="" do="" down="" em="" face-to-face="" get="" have="" he="" heads="" if="" instead="" it="" managers="" memos="" of="" offices="" on="" passed="" personal="" regional="" s="" said.="" send="" so="" something.="" thank="" that.="" the="" then="" through="" to="" you="" your=""> <p><strong>Gift Giving&#39; Even If I&#39;s a Small One</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When times are tough even small gift-giving gestures are appreciated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10082" target="_self">TShirtsNY</a> said, <em>We always do a Christmas bonus, even if it&#39;s smaller on years when cash is tight</em>. He expressed that employees are your most important investment. When his business needed to downsize, it resulted in asking a little bit more out of the remaining workers. He wanted to reward them during the holiday season, and purchased gift cards at the local food market - enough for them to buy a Thanksgiving turkey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="../../../user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19966" target="_self">crosby52</a> owns a cleaning business and performs random quality checks each day. <em>We used to offer incentives to the cleaners every time they passed with a perfect score. This did get to be a bit expensive so now every time they pass with a perfect score, we put their name into a hat, so to speak, and at the end of each week we randomly draw a name and the team we drew gets their bonus.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></p></em'if></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-recognizing-and-rewarding-employees-when-cash-tig#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118971 In The Loop Fri, 07 Jan 2011 14:59:07 +0000 sarahmillican 118971 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busines <p><em>Discipline is based on developing good habits. Many small business owners struggle with this and do not notice a lack of discipline until their business gets track. José Rivera is the founder and president of his 8a certified company, Rivera, Sierra, &amp; Company. He provides consulting to governments, small businesses, and non-profits.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed José , also known as </em><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328" target="_blank">riverasierra</a><em> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What skills do small business owners need to have?</strong></p> <p>There are three areas that are important for small business owners to have:</p> <ul> <li>Marketing and the Ability to Get Clients/Work</li> <li>Administration</li> <li>Financing</li> </ul> <p>All three are important and it is extremely rare to find someone that is proficient in all three. That is why you eventually hire people to help you. Along with these three areas, the time allocation is equally important. When starting up, almost 75% of the time is spent on marketing and bringing in new clients. This does not leave much time for the other two. Administration usually gets the last 25%, leaving your financing going unresolved. This is why many small business owners get into trouble with not paying fees or missing returns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You need to be disciplined enough to make sure you force yourself to work on the other areas. It will make your business more successful in the end. If you are disciplined at the start of your business, you will establish habits that allow you to manage your business better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Has being an 8a certified business helped you?</strong></p> <p>Being an 8a has been a godsend for me. If you market your business correctly, you can practically grow overnight. Within the first 3 months after getting my certification, I was awarded a $3 million contract. Over the lifetime of the company, being an 8a has probably given me $30 million in contracts that I can directly attribute to being an 8a.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>To learn more about 8a certification, check out </em><a href="http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html</a><em> </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Was getting the 8a certification easy?</strong></p> <p>The 8a certification was fairly straightforward and I did;t have any problems. However, the 8a certification has created an entire industry of helping small business owners get their 8a certification. My company does help with this as well. Certain areas can be tricky, for example explaining how someone is economically disadvantaged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also takes a lot of corporate discipline. Corporate discipline includes things that as a small business owner, you should be doing from the beginning, but people do-t. Having annual meetings, having meeting minutes, having bylaws are all necessary for the running a concrete business. When trying to get your 8a certification, you need to have these documents in line.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What advice do you have for someone starting a business?</strong></p> <p>Take 6 months and develop your infrastructure. This includes the corporate discipline. Get in the habit of tracking all your finances. Make sure you have bylaws established and you have annual meetings and minutes. Once you have this infrastructure in place, all these tasks become habit and that is what will help you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This can be tough to know what to do, but there are many resources out there. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/" target="_blank">SBA.gov</a> has great information and webinars for starting a business. The webinars really give a new way to get information, since reading a document will only get you so far and gets monotonous quickly. The Secretary of State website for many states has information for business development specific to their state. You can learn of tricks of the trade right on their website.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want to talk to a real person, the <a href="http://www.business.gov/start/assistance.html" target="_blank">SCORE and SBDC offices</a> are useful. SCORE has retired business people that are there to help you. That can provide a great sounding board for your ideas and will sometime offer their own. You do not have to be 8a or have any type of certification to talk with these people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner?</strong></p> <p>The most difficult challenge is new business development. I feel that you should spend roughly 25% of your time trying to get new business. This may seem tough, especially when you account for the cost of spending that much time. For example, if you make $100,000 as income, if you spend 25% of your time, it is costing the company $25,000. This is the main reason why many small business owners tend to cut the new business development short.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bringing on new employees helped some because I was able to get rid of some of my administrative tasks. This freed my time of some, but as a principal of a consulting firm, my clients are counting on me to be active on their work. 25% may seem like a lot time, but if you run out of business, you will be stuck working 100% of your time on getting new clients.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I suggest to all small business owners to track their own hours. There are 2080 business hours in a year. Get in the habit of tracking how much time you spend on given tasks and areas. After 6 months or a year, look at the breakdown. Are you spending enough time of new business or too much time at administrative tasks? It can be very insightful and help you get your business on track if you feel it is heading the wrong direction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328" target="_blank">riverasierra</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 19, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 123</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 138</p> <p><em>As of 12/9/2010</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684" target="_blank">How a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and Navigate all Things In-Between</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Idea-Exchange-Balancing-Big-Picture-Ideas-and-Small-Business/ba-p/44947" target="_blank">Balancing Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><small><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></small></p> <p><small><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></small></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busines#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111911 In The Loop Thu, 09 Dec 2010 13:30:00 +0000 JimD 111911 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busin-1 <p><em>Discipline<br /> is based on developing good habits. Many small business owners struggle with<br /> this and do not notice a lack of discipline until their business gets track.<br /> José Rivera is the founder and president of his 8a certified company, Rivera,<br /> Sierra, &amp; Company. He provides consulting to governments, small businesses,<br /> and non-profits.</em></p> <p><em>Business.gov<br /> interviewed José , also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328' target=_blank>riverasierra</a><em><br /> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>What<br /> skills do small business owners need to have?</strong></p> <p>There are three areas that are important<br /> for small business owners to have:</p> <ul> <li>Marketing and<br /> the Ability to Get Clients/Work</li> <li>Administration</li> <li>Financing</li> </ul> <p>All three are important and it is<br /> extremely rare to find someone that is proficient in all three. That is why you<br /> eventually hire people to help you. Along with these three areas, the time<br /> allocation is equally important. When starting up, almost 75% of the time is<br /> spent on marketing and bringing in new clients. This does not leave much time<br /> for the other two. Administration usually gets the last 25%, leaving your<br /> financing going unresolved. This is why many small business owners get into<br /> trouble with not paying fees or missing returns. </p> <p>You need to be disciplined enough to make<br /> sure you force yourself to work on the other areas. It will make your business<br /> more successful in the end. If you are disciplined at the start of your<br /> business, you will establish habits that allow you to manage your business<br /> better. </p> <p><strong>Has<br /> being an 8a certified business helped you?</strong></p> <p>Being an 8a has been a godsend for me. If<br /> you market your business correctly, you can practically grow overnight. Within<br /> the first 3 months after getting my certification, I was awarded a $3 million<br /> contract. Over the lifetime of the company, being an 8a has probably given me<br /> $30 million in contracts that I can directly attribute to being an 8a.</p> <p><em>To<br /> learn more about 8a certification, check out </em><a href='http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html' target=_blank>http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html</a><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Was<br /> getting the 8a certification easy?</strong></p> <p>The 8a certification was fairly<br /> straightforward and I did;t have any problems. However, the 8a certification<br /> has created an entire industry of helping small business owners get their 8a<br /> certification. My company does help with this as well. Certain areas can be<br /> tricky, for example explaining how someone is economically disadvantaged. </p> <p>It also takes a lot of<br /> corporate discipline. Corporate<br /> discipline includes things that as a small business owner, you should be doing<br /> from the beginning, but people do-t. Having annual meetings, having meeting<br /> minutes, having bylaws are all necessary for the running a concrete business.<br /> When trying to get your 8a certification, you need to have these documents in<br /> line. </p> <p><strong>What<br /> advice do you have for someone starting a business?</strong></p> <p>Take 6 months and develop your<br /> infrastructure. This includes the corporate discipline. Get in the habit of<br /> tracking all your finances. Make sure you have bylaws established and you have<br /> annual meetings and minutes. Once you have this infrastructure in place, all<br /> these tasks become habit and that is what will help you.</p> <p>This can be tough to know what to do, but<br /> there are many resources out there. <a href='http://www.sba.gov/' target=_blank>SBA.gov</a> has great information and webinars for starting a business. The<br /> webinars really give a new way to get information, since reading a document<br /> will only get you so far and gets monotonous quickly. The Secretary of State<br /> website for many states has information for business development specific to<br /> their state. You can learn of tricks of the trade right on their website. </p> <p>If you want to talk to a real person, the <a href='http://www.business.gov/start/assistance.html' target=_blank>SCORE and SBDC offices</a> are useful. SCORE has retired<br /> business people that are there to help you. That can provide a great sounding<br /> board for your ideas and will sometime offer their own. You do not have to be<br /> 8a or have any type of certification to talk with these people. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>What<br /> is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business<br /> owner?</strong></p> <p>The most difficult challenge is new<br /> business development. I feel that you should spend roughly 25% of your time<br /> trying to get new business. This may seem tough, especially when you account<br /> for the cost of spending that much time. For example, if you make $100,000 as<br /> income, if you spend 25% of your time, it is costing the company $25,000. This<br /> is the main reason why many small business owners tend to cut the new business<br /> development short. </p> <p>Bringing on new employees helped some<br /> because I was able to get rid of some of my administrative tasks. This freed my<br /> time of some, but as a principal of a consulting firm, my clients are counting<br /> on me to be active on their work. 25% may seem like a lot time, but if you run<br /> out of business, you will be stuck working 100% of your time on getting new<br /> clients. </p> <p>I suggest to all small business owners to<br /> track their own hours. There are 2080 business hours in a year. Get in the<br /> habit of tracking how much time you spend on given tasks and areas. After 6<br /> months or a year, look at the breakdown. Are you spending enough time of new<br /> business or too much time at administrative tasks? It can be very insightful<br /> and help you get your business on track if you feel it is heading the wrong<br /> direction. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick<br /> Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328' target=_blank>riverasierra</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 19, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 123</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 138</p> <p><em>As<br /> of 12/9/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related<br /> Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684' target=_blank>How<br /> a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and<br /> Navigate all Things In-Between</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Idea-Exchange-Balancing-Big-Picture-Ideas-and-Small-Business/ba-p/44947' target=_blank>Balancing<br /> Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks</a></li> </ul> <p><small><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></small></p> <p><small><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or<br /> opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or<br /> member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The<br /> views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business<br /> Gateway Program Office, the U.S.<br /> Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government.<br /> Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the<br /> Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to<br /> provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or<br /> guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information<br /> contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change<br /> frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the<br /> advice of an attorney</em></small></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busin-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118961 In The Loop Thu, 09 Dec 2010 10:30:00 +0000 JimD 118961 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busin-0 <p><em>Discipline is based on developing good habits. Many small business owners struggle with this and do not notice a lack of discipline until their business gets track. José Rivera is the founder and president of his 8a certified company, Rivera, Sierra, &amp; Company. He provides consulting to governments, small businesses, and non-profits.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed José , also known as </em><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328" target="_blank">riverasierra</a><em> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What skills do small business owners need to have?</strong></p> <p>There are three areas that are important for small business owners to have:</p> <ul> <li>Marketing and the Ability to Get Clients/Work</li> <li>Administration</li> <li>Financing</li> </ul> <p>All three are important and it is extremely rare to find someone that is proficient in all three. That is why you eventually hire people to help you. Along with these three areas, the time allocation is equally important. When starting up, almost 75% of the time is spent on marketing and bringing in new clients. This does not leave much time for the other two. Administration usually gets the last 25%, leaving your financing going unresolved. This is why many small business owners get into trouble with not paying fees or missing returns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You need to be disciplined enough to make sure you force yourself to work on the other areas. It will make your business more successful in the end. If you are disciplined at the start of your business, you will establish habits that allow you to manage your business better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Has being an 8a certified business helped you?</strong></p> <p>Being an 8a has been a godsend for me. If you market your business correctly, you can practically grow overnight. Within the first 3 months after getting my certification, I was awarded a $3 million contract. Over the lifetime of the company, being an 8a has probably given me $30 million in contracts that I can directly attribute to being an 8a.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>To learn more about 8a certification, check out </em><a href="http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html</a><em> </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Was getting the 8a certification easy?</strong></p> <p>The 8a certification was fairly straightforward and I did;t have any problems. However, the 8a certification has created an entire industry of helping small business owners get their 8a certification. My company does help with this as well. Certain areas can be tricky, for example explaining how someone is economically disadvantaged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also takes a lot of corporate discipline. Corporate discipline includes things that as a small business owner, you should be doing from the beginning, but people do-t. Having annual meetings, having meeting minutes, having bylaws are all necessary for the running a concrete business. When trying to get your 8a certification, you need to have these documents in line.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What advice do you have for someone starting a business?</strong></p> <p>Take 6 months and develop your infrastructure. This includes the corporate discipline. Get in the habit of tracking all your finances. Make sure you have bylaws established and you have annual meetings and minutes. Once you have this infrastructure in place, all these tasks become habit and that is what will help you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This can be tough to know what to do, but there are many resources out there. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/" target="_blank">SBA.gov</a> has great information and webinars for starting a business. The webinars really give a new way to get information, since reading a document will only get you so far and gets monotonous quickly. The Secretary of State website for many states has information for business development specific to their state. You can learn of tricks of the trade right on their website.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want to talk to a real person, the <a href="http://www.business.gov/start/assistance.html" target="_blank">SCORE and SBDC offices</a> are useful. SCORE has retired business people that are there to help you. That can provide a great sounding board for your ideas and will sometime offer their own. You do not have to be 8a or have any type of certification to talk with these people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner?</strong></p> <p>The most difficult challenge is new business development. I feel that you should spend roughly 25% of your time trying to get new business. This may seem tough, especially when you account for the cost of spending that much time. For example, if you make $100,000 as income, if you spend 25% of your time, it is costing the company $25,000. This is the main reason why many small business owners tend to cut the new business development short.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bringing on new employees helped some because I was able to get rid of some of my administrative tasks. This freed my time of some, but as a principal of a consulting firm, my clients are counting on me to be active on their work. 25% may seem like a lot time, but if you run out of business, you will be stuck working 100% of your time on getting new clients.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I suggest to all small business owners to track their own hours. There are 2080 business hours in a year. Get in the habit of tracking how much time you spend on given tasks and areas. After 6 months or a year, look at the breakdown. Are you spending enough time of new business or too much time at administrative tasks? It can be very insightful and help you get your business on track if you feel it is heading the wrong direction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1328" target="_blank">riverasierra</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 19, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 123</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 138</p> <p><em>As of 12/9/2010</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684" target="_blank">How a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and Navigate all Things In-Between</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Idea-Exchange-Balancing-Big-Picture-Ideas-and-Small-Business/ba-p/44947" target="_blank">Balancing Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><small><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></small></p> <p><small><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></small></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-discipline-ongoing-challenge-small-busin-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112601 In The Loop Thu, 09 Dec 2010 10:30:00 +0000 JimD 112601 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Balancing Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business-ta <p>Most aspiring entrepreneurs have heard some version of Walt Disne;s famous quote,-If you can dream it, you can do it- Once a big idea starts materializing, it can be hard for entrepreneurs to balance those ideas with day-to-day accomplishable tasks. Successful entrepreneurs need to manage both the'big pictur' and the'small picture' </p> <p>We asked the Community to share with us how they balance'big pictur' ideas with small pictur' accomplishable tasks. Overall, we learned about three very different methods for managing goals and actions.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Method 1: Turn big picture ideas into smaller accomplishable tasks</strong> <p>This method consists of taking your big ideas and breaking them down into accomplishable tasks. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19966' target=_blank>crosby52</a> uses this method and it works well for him. He said,'I would like to get $1 million in sales this year. That breaks down to $2,740 per day and each account make me about $250 / day, so I need to have 11 accounts each day to get to my goal. He then goes and makes tasks based on the 11 accounts a day. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19384' target=_blank>Rick_LaPoint</a> also used this method. He made a list of big picture goals, and then detailed each step that needed to be accomplished in order to see the success he envisioned. Rick also put time constraints on each task, so that he wouldn't be held up on one specific step for too long. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> The big picture ideas eventually get accomplished through the small tasks and small business owners feel as though their big picture ideas are a part of their everyday tasks. Many big picture ideas can be broken down into smaller tasks. </p> <p><strong>Cons: </strong>Some big picture ideas are too big to break down to the accomplishable task level. Trying to make sure those ideas are not lost can become difficult. You may miss new opportunities because you are working on accomplishing small tasks. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 2: Small accomplishable tasks should lead you to your big picture ideas</strong> <p>The opposite of method 1, this method takes the small tasks and morphs it into a big picture idea or goal. Some small business owners feel that their big picture ideas are engrained into them and by working everyday on the small tasks, it is getting to their big picture.</p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/21515' target=_blank>RossDeamau</a> doesn't believe in a big picture. He works every day task by task. For example, Ross writes a blog and doesn't think of how he will get to 10,000 readers. Rather he thinks of how a change will get him 10 more readers. Gradually, Ross will reach 10,000, but his goals are more short term. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/17694' target=_blank>lyncte</a> has feels that his tasks are small parts of a big puzzle and by working on the small parts he is simultaneously working on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/20933' target=_blank>Charlie</a> added, Just ask yourself each day if the smaller tasks support your larger vision. If the answer is yes, you are doing the right thing. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> Small tasks are being accomplished which are leading to the overall good of the business. It also makes you feel as though you are working to accomplish something bigger.</p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> By not having specific big picture ideas, they can be lost over time. By using small tasks, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate the big picture goals with other employees or managers. Big picture goals can be change very quickly, depending on how the small tasks change. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 3: Take time to accomplish small tasks and take time to think of big picture ideas</strong> <p>The last method that our Community members use is separating tasks and goals and allocating time for each. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10725' target=_blank>brittles</a> does small tasks everyday and tries to spend some time each week focusing on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900' target=_blank>finaiddube</a> broke his time into percentages. He spends about 80% of his time on small tasks and 20% researching big picture ideas. </p> <p><strong>Pros: </strong>It is difficult for you to forget about the big picture ideas if you take time to focus in on just those. </p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> Finding the correct balance for you and your business can be difficult. You may also not be translating your big picture ideas into tasks and the big picture ideas never get accomplished. </p> </li> <p>No matter which method you choice to use, balancing long-term and short-term goals can be difficult. Most of the small business owners could agree that there needs to be some type of balance - if not, something may get lost. </p> </ul> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Power-User-Spotlight-Set-Small-Goals-and-Look-Out-for-Yourself/ba-p/39146' target=_blank>Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself</a> </li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684' target=_blank>How a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and Navigate all things In-Between</a> </li> </ul> <div><font size='3'><span style='font-size: 12px; line-height: 16px;'><br /></span></font></div> <p><strong>What's Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480' target=_blank><strong>December 2010: </strong><strong>How are you planning on recognizing/rewarding your employees if cash is tight?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until December 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084' target='_blank'><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business-ta#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111901 In The Loop Thu, 02 Dec 2010 13:30:00 +0000 JimD 111901 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Balancing Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business--1 <p>Most aspiring entrepreneurs have heard some version of Walt Disne;s famous quote,-If you can dream it, you can do it- Once a big idea starts materializing, it can be hard for entrepreneurs to balance those ideas with day-to-day accomplishable tasks. Successful entrepreneurs need to manage both the'big pictur' and the'small picture' </p> <p>We asked the Community to share with us how they balance'big pictur' ideas with small pictur' accomplishable tasks. Overall, we learned about three very different methods for managing goals and actions.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Method 1: Turn big picture ideas into smaller accomplishable tasks</strong> <p>This method consists of taking your big ideas and breaking them down into accomplishable tasks. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19966' target=_blank>crosby52</a> uses this method and it works well for him. He said,'I would like to get $1 million in sales this year. That breaks down to $2,740 per day and each account make me about $250 / day, so I need to have 11 accounts each day to get to my goal. He then goes and makes tasks based on the 11 accounts a day. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19384' target=_blank>Rick_LaPoint</a> also used this method. He made a list of big picture goals, and then detailed each step that needed to be accomplished in order to see the success he envisioned. Rick also put time constraints on each task, so that he wouldn't be held up on one specific step for too long. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> The big picture ideas eventually get accomplished through the small tasks and small business owners feel as though their big picture ideas are a part of their everyday tasks. Many big picture ideas can be broken down into smaller tasks. </p> <p><strong>Cons: </strong>Some big picture ideas are too big to break down to the accomplishable task level. Trying to make sure those ideas are not lost can become difficult. You may miss new opportunities because you are working on accomplishing small tasks. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 2: Small accomplishable tasks should lead you to your big picture ideas</strong> <p>The opposite of method 1, this method takes the small tasks and morphs it into a big picture idea or goal. Some small business owners feel that their big picture ideas are engrained into them and by working everyday on the small tasks, it is getting to their big picture.</p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/21515' target=_blank>RossDeamau</a> doesn't believe in a big picture. He works every day task by task. For example, Ross writes a blog and doesn't think of how he will get to 10,000 readers. Rather he thinks of how a change will get him 10 more readers. Gradually, Ross will reach 10,000, but his goals are more short term. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/17694' target=_blank>lyncte</a> has feels that his tasks are small parts of a big puzzle and by working on the small parts he is simultaneously working on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/20933' target=_blank>Charlie</a> added, Just ask yourself each day if the smaller tasks support your larger vision. If the answer is yes, you are doing the right thing. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> Small tasks are being accomplished which are leading to the overall good of the business. It also makes you feel as though you are working to accomplish something bigger.</p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> By not having specific big picture ideas, they can be lost over time. By using small tasks, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate the big picture goals with other employees or managers. Big picture goals can be change very quickly, depending on how the small tasks change. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 3: Take time to accomplish small tasks and take time to think of big picture ideas</strong> <p>The last method that our Community members use is separating tasks and goals and allocating time for each. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10725' target=_blank>brittles</a> does small tasks everyday and tries to spend some time each week focusing on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900' target=_blank>finaiddube</a> broke his time into percentages. He spends about 80% of his time on small tasks and 20% researching big picture ideas. </p> <p><strong>Pros: </strong>It is difficult for you to forget about the big picture ideas if you take time to focus in on just those. </p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> Finding the correct balance for you and your business can be difficult. You may also not be translating your big picture ideas into tasks and the big picture ideas never get accomplished. </p> </li> <p>No matter which method you choice to use, balancing long-term and short-term goals can be difficult. Most of the small business owners could agree that there needs to be some type of balance - if not, something may get lost. </p> </ul> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Power-User-Spotlight-Set-Small-Goals-and-Look-Out-for-Yourself/ba-p/39146' target=_blank>Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself</a> </li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684' target=_blank>How a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and Navigate all things In-Between</a> </li> </ul> <div><font size='3'><span style='font-size: 12px; line-height: 16px;'><br /></span></font></div> <p><strong>What's Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480' target=_blank><strong>December 2010: </strong><strong>How are you planning on recognizing/rewarding your employees if cash is tight?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until December 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084' target='_blank'><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business--1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118951 In The Loop Thu, 02 Dec 2010 10:30:00 +0000 JimD 118951 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Balancing Big Picture Ideas and Small Business Tasks http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business--0 <p>Most aspiring entrepreneurs have heard some version of Walt Disne;s famous quote,-If you can dream it, you can do it- Once a big idea starts materializing, it can be hard for entrepreneurs to balance those ideas with day-to-day accomplishable tasks. Successful entrepreneurs need to manage both the'big pictur' and the'small picture' </p> <p>We asked the Community to share with us how they balance'big pictur' ideas with small pictur' accomplishable tasks. Overall, we learned about three very different methods for managing goals and actions.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Method 1: Turn big picture ideas into smaller accomplishable tasks</strong> <p>This method consists of taking your big ideas and breaking them down into accomplishable tasks. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19966' target=_blank>crosby52</a> uses this method and it works well for him. He said,'I would like to get $1 million in sales this year. That breaks down to $2,740 per day and each account make me about $250 / day, so I need to have 11 accounts each day to get to my goal. He then goes and makes tasks based on the 11 accounts a day. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19384' target=_blank>Rick_LaPoint</a> also used this method. He made a list of big picture goals, and then detailed each step that needed to be accomplished in order to see the success he envisioned. Rick also put time constraints on each task, so that he wouldn't be held up on one specific step for too long. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> The big picture ideas eventually get accomplished through the small tasks and small business owners feel as though their big picture ideas are a part of their everyday tasks. Many big picture ideas can be broken down into smaller tasks. </p> <p><strong>Cons: </strong>Some big picture ideas are too big to break down to the accomplishable task level. Trying to make sure those ideas are not lost can become difficult. You may miss new opportunities because you are working on accomplishing small tasks. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 2: Small accomplishable tasks should lead you to your big picture ideas</strong> <p>The opposite of method 1, this method takes the small tasks and morphs it into a big picture idea or goal. Some small business owners feel that their big picture ideas are engrained into them and by working everyday on the small tasks, it is getting to their big picture.</p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/21515' target=_blank>RossDeamau</a> doesn't believe in a big picture. He works every day task by task. For example, Ross writes a blog and doesn't think of how he will get to 10,000 readers. Rather he thinks of how a change will get him 10 more readers. Gradually, Ross will reach 10,000, but his goals are more short term. </p> <p><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/17694' target=_blank>lyncte</a> has feels that his tasks are small parts of a big puzzle and by working on the small parts he is simultaneously working on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/20933' target=_blank>Charlie</a> added, Just ask yourself each day if the smaller tasks support your larger vision. If the answer is yes, you are doing the right thing. </p> <p><strong>Pros:</strong> Small tasks are being accomplished which are leading to the overall good of the business. It also makes you feel as though you are working to accomplish something bigger.</p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> By not having specific big picture ideas, they can be lost over time. By using small tasks, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate the big picture goals with other employees or managers. Big picture goals can be change very quickly, depending on how the small tasks change. </p> </li> <li><strong>Method 3: Take time to accomplish small tasks and take time to think of big picture ideas</strong> <p>The last method that our Community members use is separating tasks and goals and allocating time for each. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10725' target=_blank>brittles</a> does small tasks everyday and tries to spend some time each week focusing on the big picture. <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900' target=_blank>finaiddube</a> broke his time into percentages. He spends about 80% of his time on small tasks and 20% researching big picture ideas. </p> <p><strong>Pros: </strong>It is difficult for you to forget about the big picture ideas if you take time to focus in on just those. </p> <p><strong>Cons:</strong> Finding the correct balance for you and your business can be difficult. You may also not be translating your big picture ideas into tasks and the big picture ideas never get accomplished. </p> </li> <p>No matter which method you choice to use, balancing long-term and short-term goals can be difficult. Most of the small business owners could agree that there needs to be some type of balance - if not, something may get lost. </p> </ul> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Power-User-Spotlight-Set-Small-Goals-and-Look-Out-for-Yourself/ba-p/39146' target=_blank>Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself</a> </li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/How-a-Simple-Business-Plan-can-Get-you-from-A-to-Z-and-Navigate/ba-p/41684' target=_blank>How a Simple Business Plan can Get you from A to Z, and Navigate all things In-Between</a> </li> </ul> <div><font size='3'><span style='font-size: 12px; line-height: 16px;'><br /></span></font></div> <p><strong>What's Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480' target=_blank><strong>December 2010: </strong><strong>How are you planning on recognizing/rewarding your employees if cash is tight?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until December 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084' target='_blank'><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-balancing-big-picture-ideas-and-small-business--0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112591 In The Loop Thu, 02 Dec 2010 10:30:00 +0000 JimD 112591 at http://www.sba.gov Two Improvements to Business.gov http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov <p>Would you like a cookie? If so, it will help the Business.gov team improve the website. But what is a persistent cookie and how does it affect you? Persistent cookies are small pieces of computer code that a webpage puts on your browser. The cookie is then used to measure how a visitor navigates the website. This might appear as shades of big brother but our plan is to be anything but.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Apr<img align="right" alt="HappyComputer.jpg" border="0" src="http://community2.business.gov/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/35i3D087E3017B7DC10/image-size/small?v=mpbl-1&amp;px=-1" title="HappyComputer.jpg" />il of 2009 we wrote <a href="../../../../../../../t5/In-the-Loop/Federal-Cookie-Monsters/ba-p/2237" target="_blank">Federal Cookie Monsters</a> about the policy that the Office of Management and Budget put into effect that banned persistent cookies on websites. Since then, much debate has taken place to determine the best way to improve website experiences without invading privacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reality is that cookies <em>can</em> be used to track a perso;s activity and that can be an invasion of privacy. In order to prevent such intrusiveness, the Federal government has recently published <a href="http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/laws_regs/privacy.shtml" target="_blank">requirements</a> for those agencies that use persistent cookies. The requirements explicitly state that agencies cannot use cookies, or any web technologies for that matter, to track an individua-s activities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Business.gov team is not interested in your individual activities on the site, but we would like to improve the average user-experience. To do so, we use persistent cookies to make two improvements:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Limit how often you are invited to take our satisfaction survey</p> <p>2. Distinguish between new visitors and repeat visitors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Improve the User Satisfaction Survey</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You may have been invited to take a satisfaction survey after viewing several Business.gov pages. In the past, you could have taken the survey only to be invited to take it again the next time you returned to the site. With a persistent cookie, we can limit the number of times yo-re invited to take the survey to once a month, whether you actually take the survey or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, we had removed the invitation from the Community entirely, because members of the Community come to Business.gov repeatedly and were offered the invitation several times a day! Now we are able to invite Community members to take the survey as well but limit the invitation to once a month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you receive the invitation to take the survey, a persistent cookie containing a code with an expiration date is placed on your browser. The next time you visit Business.gov, your browser is checked to determine if a cookie with that code exists and if the expiration date has expired. If the date has not expired, you will not be offered the invitation. Because the cookie only contains a code containing an expiration date, the Business.gov team can never identify you as an individual.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Distinguish Between New Visitors and Repeat Visitors</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another way that we measure how well the websit&#39;s content satisfies visitors is to <a href="http://www.business.gov/about/metrics/" target="_blank">measure how much traffic the site receives</a>. By distinguishing new visitors from repeat visitors, the Business.gov team can determine whether or not the site is valuable enough for visitors to continue to return. In the past, there was no way for us to make that distinction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, when you visit Business.gov, a persistent cookie containing a randomly generated ID code is placed on your browser. The next time you visit Business.gov, your browser is checked to determine if that code exists. If so, you will be counted as a&#39;repeat visito&#39; and if not, you will be counted as a&#39;new visitor&#39;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Again, because the cookie only contains the random ID code, the Business.gov team can never identify you as an individual.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How Do You Prevent Persistent Cookies?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You always have the option to prevent cookies. You can adjust your browser to limit whether or not it automatically accepts cookies by setting it to&#39;Always&#39;&#39;Never, or Only Sites I Visit. The last option prevents cookies from third parties such as advertisers. To find out more, visit USA.gov&#39;s instructions on <a href="http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml" target="_blank">disabling cookies in popular desktop browsers</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What Do You Think?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Do you feel that these are beneficial improvements to Business.gov? Are you concerned about persistent cookies? Leave a comment below.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111891 In The Loop Thu, 18 Nov 2010 12:00:00 +0000 StuartR 111891 at http://www.sba.gov Two Improvements to Business.gov http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov-1 <p>Would you<br /> like a cookie? If so, it will help<br /> the Business.gov team improve the website. But what is a persistent cookie and how does it affect<br /> you? Persistent cookies are small<br /> pieces of computer code that a webpage puts on your browser. The cookie is then used to measure how<br /> a visitor navigates the website. This might appear as shades of big brother but<br /> our plan is to be anything but.</p> <p>In Apr<img src='http://community2.business.gov/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/35i3D087E3017B7DC10/image-size/small?v=mpbl-1&amp;px=-1' border='0' alt='HappyComputer.jpg' title='HappyComputer.jpg' align='right' />il of<br /> 2009 we wrote <a href='../../../../../../../t5/In-the-Loop/Federal-Cookie-Monsters/ba-p/2237' target='_blank'>Federal<br /> Cookie Monsters</a> about the policy that the Office of Management and Budget<br /> put into effect that banned persistent cookies on websites. Since then, much debate has taken place<br /> to determine the best way to improve website experiences without invading<br /> privacy.</p> <p>The reality<br /> is that cookies <em>can</em> be used to track<br /> a perso;s activity and that can be an invasion of privacy. In order to prevent such intrusiveness,<br /> the Federal government has recently published <a href='http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/laws_regs/privacy.shtml' target='_blank'>requirements</a> for those agencies that use<br /> persistent cookies. The<br /> requirements explicitly state that agencies cannot use cookies, or any web<br /> technologies for that matter, to track an individua-s activities.</p> <p>The<br /> Business.gov team is not interested in your individual activities on the site,<br /> but we would like to improve the average user-experience. To do so, we use persistent cookies to<br /> make two improvements:</p> <p>1. Limit how often you are invited to<br /> take our satisfaction survey</p> <p>2. Distinguish between new visitors and<br /> repeat visitors.</p> <p><strong>Improve the User Satisfaction Survey</strong></p> <p>You may have<br /> been invited to take a satisfaction survey after viewing several Business.gov<br /> pages. In the past, you could have<br /> taken the survey only to be invited to take it again the next time you returned<br /> to the site. With a persistent<br /> cookie, we can limit the number of times yo-re invited to take the survey to<br /> once a month, whether you actually take the survey or not.</p> <p>Furthermore,<br /> we had removed the invitation from the Community entirely, because members of<br /> the Community come to Business.gov repeatedly and were offered the invitation<br /> several times a day! Now we are<br /> able to invite Community members to take the survey as well but limit the<br /> invitation to once a month.</p> <p>When you<br /> receive the invitation to take the survey, a persistent cookie containing a<br /> code with an expiration date is placed on your browser. The next time you visit Business.gov,<br /> your browser is checked to determine if a cookie with that code exists and if<br /> the expiration date has expired.<br /> If the date has not expired, you will not be offered the<br /> invitation. Because the cookie<br /> only contains a code containing an expiration date, the Business.gov team can<br /> never identify you as an individual.</p> <p><strong>Distinguish Between New Visitors and<br /> Repeat Visitors</strong></p> <p>Another way<br /> that we measure how well the websit's content satisfies visitors is to <a href='http://www.business.gov/about/metrics/' target='_blank'>measure how much traffic the site<br /> receives</a>. By distinguishing<br /> new visitors from repeat visitors, the Business.gov team can determine whether<br /> or not the site is valuable enough for visitors to continue to return. In the past, there was no way for us to<br /> make that distinction.</p> <p>Now, when<br /> you visit Business.gov, a persistent cookie containing a randomly generated ID<br /> code is placed on your browser.<br /> The next time you visit Business.gov, your browser is checked to<br /> determine if that code exists. If<br /> so, you will be counted as a'repeat visito' and if not, you will be counted<br /> as a'new visitor'</p> <p>Again,<br /> because the cookie only contains the random ID code, the Business.gov team can<br /> never identify you as an individual.</p> <p><strong>How Do You Prevent Persistent<br /> Cookies?</strong></p> <p>You always<br /> have the option to prevent cookies. You can adjust your browser to limit<br /> whether or not it automatically accepts cookies by setting it to'Always''Never, or Only Sites I Visit.<br /> The last option prevents cookies from third parties such as<br /> advertisers. To find out more,<br /> visit USA.gov's instructions on <a href='http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml' target='_blank'>disabling cookies in popular desktop browsers</a>.</p> <p><strong>What Do You Think?</strong></p> <p>Do you feel<br /> that these are beneficial improvements to Business.gov? Are you concerned about persistent<br /> cookies? Leave a comment below.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118941 In The Loop Thu, 18 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0000 StuartR 118941 at http://www.sba.gov Two Improvements to Business.gov http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov-0 <p>Would you like a cookie? If so, it will help the Business.gov team improve the website. But what is a persistent cookie and how does it affect you? Persistent cookies are small pieces of computer code that a webpage puts on your browser. The cookie is then used to measure how a visitor navigates the website. This might appear as shades of big brother but our plan is to be anything but.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In Apr<img align="right" alt="HappyComputer.jpg" border="0" src="http://community2.business.gov/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/35i3D087E3017B7DC10/image-size/small?v=mpbl-1&amp;px=-1" title="HappyComputer.jpg" />il of 2009 we wrote <a href="../../../../../../../t5/In-the-Loop/Federal-Cookie-Monsters/ba-p/2237" target="_blank">Federal Cookie Monsters</a> about the policy that the Office of Management and Budget put into effect that banned persistent cookies on websites. Since then, much debate has taken place to determine the best way to improve website experiences without invading privacy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The reality is that cookies <em>can</em> be used to track a perso;s activity and that can be an invasion of privacy. In order to prevent such intrusiveness, the Federal government has recently published <a href="http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/laws_regs/privacy.shtml" target="_blank">requirements</a> for those agencies that use persistent cookies. The requirements explicitly state that agencies cannot use cookies, or any web technologies for that matter, to track an individua-s activities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Business.gov team is not interested in your individual activities on the site, but we would like to improve the average user-experience. To do so, we use persistent cookies to make two improvements:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1. Limit how often you are invited to take our satisfaction survey</p> <p>2. Distinguish between new visitors and repeat visitors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Improve the User Satisfaction Survey</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You may have been invited to take a satisfaction survey after viewing several Business.gov pages. In the past, you could have taken the survey only to be invited to take it again the next time you returned to the site. With a persistent cookie, we can limit the number of times yo-re invited to take the survey to once a month, whether you actually take the survey or not.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, we had removed the invitation from the Community entirely, because members of the Community come to Business.gov repeatedly and were offered the invitation several times a day! Now we are able to invite Community members to take the survey as well but limit the invitation to once a month.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When you receive the invitation to take the survey, a persistent cookie containing a code with an expiration date is placed on your browser. The next time you visit Business.gov, your browser is checked to determine if a cookie with that code exists and if the expiration date has expired. If the date has not expired, you will not be offered the invitation. Because the cookie only contains a code containing an expiration date, the Business.gov team can never identify you as an individual.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Distinguish Between New Visitors and Repeat Visitors</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another way that we measure how well the websit&#39;s content satisfies visitors is to <a href="http://www.business.gov/about/metrics/" target="_blank">measure how much traffic the site receives</a>. By distinguishing new visitors from repeat visitors, the Business.gov team can determine whether or not the site is valuable enough for visitors to continue to return. In the past, there was no way for us to make that distinction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, when you visit Business.gov, a persistent cookie containing a randomly generated ID code is placed on your browser. The next time you visit Business.gov, your browser is checked to determine if that code exists. If so, you will be counted as a&#39;repeat visito&#39; and if not, you will be counted as a&#39;new visitor&#39;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Again, because the cookie only contains the random ID code, the Business.gov team can never identify you as an individual.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How Do You Prevent Persistent Cookies?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You always have the option to prevent cookies. You can adjust your browser to limit whether or not it automatically accepts cookies by setting it to&#39;Always&#39;&#39;Never, or Only Sites I Visit. The last option prevents cookies from third parties such as advertisers. To find out more, visit USA.gov&#39;s instructions on <a href="http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml" target="_blank">disabling cookies in popular desktop browsers</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What Do You Think?</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Do you feel that these are beneficial improvements to Business.gov? Are you concerned about persistent cookies? Leave a comment below.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/two-improvements-businessgov-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112581 In The Loop Thu, 18 Nov 2010 09:00:00 +0000 StuartR 112581 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Information and Research is Essential http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-information-and-research-essential <p><em>After<br /> a 23 year career primarily focused on restaurant and retail development<br /> throughout the United States,<br /> Tony Ozelis started his own small business, Location Island.<br /> Location Island is a web-based educational magazine that helps small business<br /> owners learn about commercial real estate development. Tony is continually<br /> learning and feels that the more information and research you have the better<br /> off you will be. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov<br /> interviewed Tony, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/2928' target=_blank>LocationIsland</a><em><br /> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How<br /> did you start your business?</strong></p> <p>It all started a few years back when I<br /> started writing a book. It was a guide for the small business owner with some<br /> best practices from larger organizations. I felt larger organizations had an<br /> unfair advantage over small business owners. Many small business owners are a<br /> one-man-show trying to balance and do everything. The learning curve can be<br /> steep, whereas larger businesses hired people with specialties. Small business<br /> owners need a crash course of everything and I was a least starting to develop<br /> that.</p> <p>When I actually started my business, it<br /> was out of necessity. I had lost my job and being over 50, I had to do<br /> something. I turned my book into what is now my website. I have then been<br /> adding to it ever since. </p> <p><strong>What<br /> are some resources that you have found the most useful for building your small<br /> business?</strong></p> <p>I do a lot of research. Many of my friends<br /> consider my business my life-long thesis. If you walk into my office on a regular day, I<br /> have two laptops and an iPad out. </p> <p>One<br /> thing that I was surprised to find when I was starting was government websites.<br /> These had much more relevant information that I expected. Specific websites<br /> that I found very helpful were <a href='http://www.irs.gov/' target=_blank>IRS.gov</a>, <a href='http://www.census.gov/' target=_blank>Census.gov</a>, <a href='http://www.energy.gov/' target=_blank>Energy.gov</a>, and <a href='http://business.gov/' target=_blank>Business.gov</a>. I figured that I am already paying for<br /> these resources with my taxes and I should be taking advantage of them. </p> <p>Not only did the websites give me a lot of<br /> good information, but also I have actually called some of these departments. I<br /> have talked with people and they gave me exactly what I was looking for. I<br /> challenge people to find better resources. </p> <p><strong>Have<br /> you had a great career mentor? How do you suggest finding one?</strong></p> <p>I have been lucky enough to have three<br /> great mentors throughout my career. Finding them is probably the most difficult<br /> part. I worked for a larger business and was able to meet people and start<br /> relationships, but lifelong small business owners have it much more difficult.<br /> Small business owners need to go out and search out a mentor. Some of the best<br /> places would be <a href='http://www.score.org/index.html' target=_blank>SCORE</a>, <a href='http://community.business.gov/bsng/' target=_blank>Business.gov</a> community, or other social media sites like<br /> MeetUp. </p> <p>Mentors are all about sharing knowledge,<br /> experience, and ideas. Therefore, you need to find someone who you feel is compatible.<br /> After you know where to look, finding a great mentor should be too difficult. </p> <p><strong>In<br /> your opinion, what is one thing all small business owners should know?</strong></p> <p>Small business owners need to know their<br /> customers. Customers are always changing. If you assume you know your<br /> customers, chances are you are probably wrong. There is no formula of figuring<br /> your customers out, but if there were, it would create the opportunity to miss<br /> things. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>What<br /> is your greatest accomplishment?</strong></p> <p>My business. I love being able to help<br /> people. I have been teaching what I do for a long time and I have been able to help<br /> many people. My website pulls together many resources from all over. I have<br /> experts writing blogs, compiled data, and resources from across the web. I put<br /> a lot of myself into my business and I take it personally. I love what I am<br /> doing.</p> <p> <strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick<br /> Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/2928' target=_blank>LocationIsland</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: May 10, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 38</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 99</p> <p><em>As<br /> of 11/12/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related<br /> Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/From-Consumer-Spending-to-Wage-Data-for-your-Business-Type-Free/ba-p/5977' target=_blank>From<br /> Consumer Spending to Wage Data for your Business Type; Free Government<br /> Data at Your Fingertips</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or<br /> opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or<br /> member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The<br /> views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway<br /> Program Office, the U.S. Small Business<br /> Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the<br /> Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community,<br /> and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and<br /> accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the<br /> accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked<br /> to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing<br /> provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-information-and-research-essential#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111881 In The Loop Fri, 12 Nov 2010 16:11:00 +0000 JimD 111881 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Weigh In on Contractors compared to Employees http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compare-1 <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many small business owners debate between hiring independent contractors or employees. The IRS and labor laws classify the two differently creating benefits and risks of either. However, are there differences in regards to <em>loyalty, performance, and managerial effort</em>?</p> <p>We asked the community to share with us <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong>your experience with independent contractors compared to your employees</strong></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Small business owners in the Community told us that there are differences in loyalty, performance, and managerial effort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><strong>Loyalty</strong> <p>Most small business owners had only one complaint about independent contracto;s loyalty- the possibility that critical knowledge could be passed to a competitor. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank">jthorf</a> described an experience where he had made some design innovations for a large order and needed help with production. A few months later, his competitors had the same design. He felt as though he had lost his marketing edge. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18358" target="_blank">Developex</a> suggested diligence on your contracts you write for independent contractors. If you truly want to have exclusive rights, you need to make sure that it is in the contract. Make sure your business information stays <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/Make-Sure-Your-Business-Information-Stays-Secret-with-Non/ba-p/21281" target="_blank">secret with a non-disclosure agreement</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the flip side, a lack of loyalty can be advantageous for business owners. One of the most commented advantages was the ability to let contractors go when business slows down. Small business owners feel locked into employee agreements much more than contractor arrangements.</p> </li> <li><strong>Performance</strong> <p>None of the small business owners felt as though independent contractors performed worse than employees did. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a> comments on how independent contractors have the-ability to bring in expertise you may lack quickly&#39; The timeliness on getting someone already performing at a high level is essential for many short-term contracts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19136" target="_blank">JonathanSynnd</a> commented on how independent contractors tend to try to change rates and if they do not deliver on time, your reputation that is on the line. It is a balancing act between what is delivered and the price for it.</p> </li> <li><strong>Managerial Effort</strong> <p>Independent contractors are temporary. This makes them extremely valuable when your business picks up.<a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank"> jthorf</a> said that some of the advantages of using an independent contractor are that you do&#39;t have to allocate space, provide training, or be locked into a hiring decision.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Training was one of the most appealing aspects of using independent contractors. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18872" target="_blank">SmallbizS-O-S</a> feels that the&#39;ramp up and ramp down periods are shorter&#39; This can be very beneficial if you have a highly technical job for a contractor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p'finding and="" challenging="" contractors="" hones="" independent="" is="" most="" of="" one="" reliable="" said="" tasks="" the="" them="" using="" when=""><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a>. <p>&nbsp;</p> </p'finding></li> </ul> <p>Overall, small business owners recognize the differences between employees and independent contractors. Is one better than the other? No, they are just different. It depends on your business and what you need accomplished.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.business.gov/business-law/employment/hiring/independent-contractors.html" target="_self">Hiring Independent Contractors</a> <p>Resources covering the basics including tax requirements and employment information of hiring independent contracts</p> </li> <li><a href="http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-Treasury" target="_self">Independent Contractor or Employee?</a> <p>The IR&#39;s webpage dedicated to how to determine whether you are employing an independent contractor or employee</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480" target="_blank"><strong>November 2010: </strong><strong>How do you balance &#39;big picture&#39; ideas with &#39;small picture&#39; accomplishable tasks?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until November 30. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compare-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118921 In The Loop Mon, 08 Nov 2010 20:04:42 +0000 JimD 118921 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Weigh In on Contractors Compared to Employees http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compare-0 <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many small business owners debate between hiring independent contractors or employees. The IRS and labor laws classify the two differently creating benefits and risks of either. However, are there differences in regards to <em>loyalty, performance, and managerial effort</em>?</p> <p>We asked the community to share with us <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong>your experience with independent contractors compared to your employees</strong></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Small business owners in the Community told us that there are differences in loyalty, performance, and managerial effort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><strong>Loyalty</strong> <p>Most small business owners had only one complaint about independent contracto;s loyalty- the possibility that critical knowledge could be passed to a competitor. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank">jthorf</a> described an experience where he had made some design innovations for a large order and needed help with production. A few months later, his competitors had the same design. He felt as though he had lost his marketing edge. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18358" target="_blank">Developex</a> suggested diligence on your contracts you write for independent contractors. If you truly want to have exclusive rights, you need to make sure that it is in the contract. Make sure your business information stays <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/Make-Sure-Your-Business-Information-Stays-Secret-with-Non/ba-p/21281" target="_blank">secret with a non-disclosure agreement</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the flip side, a lack of loyalty can be advantageous for business owners. One of the most commented advantages was the ability to let contractors go when business slows down. Small business owners feel locked into employee agreements much more than contractor arrangements.</p> </li> <li><strong>Performance</strong> <p>None of the small business owners felt as though independent contractors performed worse than employees did. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a> comments on how independent contractors have the-ability to bring in expertise you may lack quickly&#39; The timeliness on getting someone already performing at a high level is essential for many short-term contracts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19136" target="_blank">JonathanSynnd</a> commented on how independent contractors tend to try to change rates and if they do not deliver on time, your reputation that is on the line. It is a balancing act between what is delivered and the price for it.</p> </li> <li><strong>Managerial Effort</strong> <p>Independent contractors are temporary. This makes them extremely valuable when your business picks up.<a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank"> jthorf</a> said that some of the advantages of using an independent contractor are that you do&#39;t have to allocate space, provide training, or be locked into a hiring decision.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Training was one of the most appealing aspects of using independent contractors. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18872" target="_blank">SmallbizS-O-S</a> feels that the&#39;ramp up and ramp down periods are shorter&#39; This can be very beneficial if you have a highly technical job for a contractor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p'finding and="" challenging="" contractors="" hones="" independent="" is="" most="" of="" one="" reliable="" said="" tasks="" the="" them="" using="" when=""><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a>. <p>&nbsp;</p> </p'finding></li> </ul> <p>Overall, small business owners recognize the differences between employees and independent contractors. Is one better than the other? No, they are just different. It depends on your business and what you need accomplished.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.business.gov/business-law/employment/hiring/independent-contractors.html" target="_self">Hiring Independent Contractors</a> <p>Resources covering the basics including tax requirements and employment information of hiring independent contracts</p> </li> <li><a href="http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-Treasury" target="_self">Independent Contractor or Employee?</a> <p>The IR&#39;s webpage dedicated to how to determine whether you are employing an independent contractor or employee</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480" target="_blank"><strong>November 2010: </strong><strong>How do you balance &#39;big picture&#39; ideas with &#39;small picture&#39; accomplishable tasks?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until November 30. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compare-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112561 In The Loop Mon, 08 Nov 2010 20:04:42 +0000 JimD 112561 at http://www.sba.gov What's Everyone Talking About? Update http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/whats-everyone-talking-about-update-13 <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> </xml><![endif]--><p><strong>Recession Tactics</strong></p> <p>Please share your thoughts with the Business.gov Community about <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/What-is-one-effective-tactic-you/idb-p/Business-Tactics" target="_blank">one effective tactic you&#39;ve taken in response to the recession</a>. There&#39;s not much time left before this thread closes, so submit your ideas before <em>November 3</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Starting a Business in Different Industries </strong></p> <p>Starting any business is a challenge, but things can get even more complicated if your industry is highly regulated. Luckily, our Community members are here to help! Members are helping each other find local and federal resources to get their unique businesses up and running. Have a question about your industry? Post a question! Have info to share? Read some of these threads, and offer your own advice:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1207" target="_self">Starting a food service business</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=988" target="_self">How to set up a retail business online</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=522" target="_blank">Licenses for gift basket businesses</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1307" target="_blank">Opening a bed and breakfast</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Calling all Business Finance Experts</strong></p> <p>As always, the bottom line counts. This month&#39;s questions about taxes, salary, and loans were challenging, but members still gave a lot of insightful advice! If you have more ideas, please feel free to contribute your thoughts in these conversations:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=968" target="_blank">Starting a home-based tax preparer business</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=799" target="_blank">Setting your own salary</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=FinancingMoneyTaxes&amp;thread.id=797" target="_self">Getting a loan to start up a grocery store</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=FinancingMoneyTaxes&amp;thread.id=756" target="_blank">Finding loans for young woman in retail</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Business Planning Tutorials</strong></p> <p>Every day, members post questions in the Community about business planning. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3706" target="_blank">Tim Berry</a>, one of <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/The-Industry-Word/bg-p/IndustryWord" target="_self">The Industry Word</a> authors, has created a series of 13 videos to help small business owners start out on the right foot, especially with forming business goals, prioritizing, planning,</p> <p>management, and forecasting. Click <a href="http://www.business.gov/start/business-plan-tutorials.html" target="_blank">here</a> to take a look! Have comments or questions? Post them <a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board?board.id=BusinessPlanningVideos" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Building Online Businesses</strong></p> <p>We continue to have a lot of great discussions in the community dealing with <a href="http://www.business.gov/business-law/online-business/" target="_blank">online businesses</a> - whether it is about company websites, online advertising, partnerships, or loans. Check out our hottest threads:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1282" target="_blank">Free online advertising</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=971" target="_blank">Running an online business partnership across state lines</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=332" target="_blank">Loans and advertising for new online businesses</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="message-edit-history"><span class="edit-author">Message Edited by ChristineL on </span><span class="local-date"> 10-28-2009</span><span class="local-time"> 05:35 PM</span></div> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/whats-everyone-talking-about-update-13#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118631 In The Loop Thu, 04 Nov 2010 14:20:32 +0000 ChristineL 118631 at http://www.sba.gov What's Everyone Talking About? Update http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/whats-everyone-talking-about-update-8 <p><strong>Recession Tactics</strong></p> <p>Please share your thoughts with the Business.gov Community about <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/What-is-one-effective-tactic-you/idb-p/Business-Tactics">one effective tactic you&#39;ve taken in response to the recession</a>. There&#39;s not much time left before this thread closes, so submit your ideas before <em>November 3</em>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Starting a Business in Different Industries </strong></p> <p>Starting any business is a challenge, but things can get even more complicated if your industry is highly regulated. Luckily, our Community members are here to help! Members are helping each other find local and federal resources to get their unique businesses up and running. Have a question about your industry? Post a question! Have info to share? Read some of these threads, and offer your own advice:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1207">Starting a food service business</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=988">How to set up a retail business online</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=522">Licenses for gift basket businesses</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1307">Opening a bed and breakfast</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Calling all Business Finance Experts</strong></p> <p>As always, the bottom line counts. This month&#39;s questions about taxes, salary, and loans were challenging, but members still gave a lot of insightful advice! If you have more ideas, please feel free to contribute your thoughts in these conversations:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=968">Starting a home-based tax preparer business</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=799">Setting your own salary</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=FinancingMoneyTaxes&amp;thread.id=797">Getting a loan to start up a grocery store</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=FinancingMoneyTaxes&amp;thread.id=756">Finding loans for young woman in retail</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Business Planning Tutorials</strong></p> <p>Every day, members post questions in the Community about business planning. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3706">Tim Berry</a>, one of <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/The-Industry-Word/bg-p/IndustryWord">The Industry Word</a> authors, has created a series of 13 videos to help small business owners start out on the right foot, especially with forming business goals, prioritizing, planning,</p> <p>management, and forecasting. Click <a href="http://www.business.gov/start/business-plan-tutorials.html">here</a> to take a look! Have comments or questions? Post them <a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board?board.id=BusinessPlanningVideos">here</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Building Online Businesses</strong></p> <p>We continue to have a lot of great discussions in the community dealing with <a href="http://www.business.gov/business-law/online-business/">online businesses</a> - whether it is about company websites, online advertising, partnerships, or loans. Check out our hottest threads:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=1282">Free online advertising</a></li> </ul> <ul> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=SelfEmployedHomeBased&amp;thread.id=971">Running an online business partnership across state lines</a></li> <li><a href="http://community2.business.gov/bsng/board/message?board.id=StartingABusiness&amp;thread.id=332">Loans and advertising for new online businesses</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div><span>Message Edited by ChristineL on </span><span> 10-28-2009</span><span> 05:35 PM</span></div> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/whats-everyone-talking-about-update-8#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112241 In The Loop Thu, 04 Nov 2010 14:20:32 +0000 ChristineL 112241 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Weigh In on Contractors compared to Employees http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compared- <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many small business owners debate between hiring independent contractors or employees. The IRS and labor laws classify the two differently creating benefits and risks of either. However, are there differences in regards to <em>loyalty, performance, and managerial effort</em>?</p> <p>We asked the community to share with us <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong>your experience with independent contractors compared to your employees</strong></a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Small business owners in the Community told us that there are differences in loyalty, performance, and managerial effort.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><strong>Loyalty</strong> <p>Most small business owners had only one complaint about independent contracto;s loyalty- the possibility that critical knowledge could be passed to a competitor. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank">jthorf</a> described an experience where he had made some design innovations for a large order and needed help with production. A few months later, his competitors had the same design. He felt as though he had lost his marketing edge. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18358" target="_blank">Developex</a> suggested diligence on your contracts you write for independent contractors. If you truly want to have exclusive rights, you need to make sure that it is in the contract. Make sure your business information stays <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/Make-Sure-Your-Business-Information-Stays-Secret-with-Non/ba-p/21281" target="_blank">secret with a non-disclosure agreement</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On the flip side, a lack of loyalty can be advantageous for business owners. One of the most commented advantages was the ability to let contractors go when business slows down. Small business owners feel locked into employee agreements much more than contractor arrangements.</p> </li> <li><strong>Performance</strong> <p>None of the small business owners felt as though independent contractors performed worse than employees did. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a> comments on how independent contractors have the-ability to bring in expertise you may lack quickly&#39; The timeliness on getting someone already performing at a high level is essential for many short-term contracts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/19136" target="_blank">JonathanSynnd</a> commented on how independent contractors tend to try to change rates and if they do not deliver on time, your reputation that is on the line. It is a balancing act between what is delivered and the price for it.</p> </li> <li><strong>Managerial Effort</strong> <p>Independent contractors are temporary. This makes them extremely valuable when your business picks up.<a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/13013" target="_blank"> jthorf</a> said that some of the advantages of using an independent contractor are that you do&#39;t have to allocate space, provide training, or be locked into a hiring decision.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Training was one of the most appealing aspects of using independent contractors. <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18872" target="_blank">SmallbizS-O-S</a> feels that the&#39;ramp up and ramp down periods are shorter&#39; This can be very beneficial if you have a highly technical job for a contractor.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p'finding and="" challenging="" contractors="" hones="" independent="" is="" most="" of="" one="" reliable="" said="" tasks="" the="" them="" using="" when=""><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/18900" target="_blank">finaiddude</a>. <p>&nbsp;</p> </p'finding></li> </ul> <p>Overall, small business owners recognize the differences between employees and independent contractors. Is one better than the other? No, they are just different. It depends on your business and what you need accomplished.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.business.gov/business-law/employment/hiring/independent-contractors.html" target="_self">Hiring Independent Contractors</a> <p>Resources covering the basics including tax requirements and employment information of hiring independent contracts</p> </li> <li><a href="http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-Treasury" target="_self">Independent Contractor or Employee?</a> <p>The IR&#39;s webpage dedicated to how to determine whether you are employing an independent contractor or employee</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/November-2010-How-do-you-balance-big-picture-ideas-with-small/td-p/41480" target="_blank"><strong>November 2010: </strong><strong>How do you balance &#39;big picture&#39; ideas with &#39;small picture&#39; accomplishable tasks?</strong><strong></strong></a> will run until November 30. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-weigh-contractors-compared-#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111871 In The Loop Thu, 04 Nov 2010 11:30:00 +0000 JimD 111871 at http://www.sba.gov Business.gov Community Hits 15,000 Members and Celebrates Two Super Contributors http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/businessgov-community-hits-15000-members-and-celebrates-two-sup <p>The Business.gov Community hit over 15,000 members early<br /> last week. This marks a great milestone<br /> for Business.gov and the Open Government Initiative. </p> <p>President Barak Obam;s first executive action was the Open<br /> Government Memorandum. It calls for the government to be transparent,<br /> participatory, and collaborative. When<br /> the Business.gov community launched in early 2009, it quickly became a way for<br /> small business owners to collaborative with each other and the government.<br /> Registered members increased three fold in the past year, growing an average of<br /> 30 members a day. </p> <p>Not only has the Community grown to over 15,000, but two<br /> members, <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/4781' target=_blank>BizResearcher</a><br /> and <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1218' target=_blank>phanio</a>,<br /> have earned the rank of Super Contributor. Members receive ranks based on<br /> number of logins, number of posts, and overall time online. </p> <table border='1' cellspacing='0' cellpadding='0'> <tbody> <tr> <td width='194' valign='top'> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'><strong><font color='#993366'>Contributor</font></strong></p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'><strong><font color='#FF6633'>Super Contributor</font></strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width='194' valign='top'> <p>Number of Posts</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>50</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>500</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width='194' valign='top'> <p>Number of Logins</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>10</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>50</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width='194' valign='top'> <p>Number of Minutes Online</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>100</p> </td> <td width='222' valign='top'> <p align='center'>1000</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>When phanio was asked why he continues to regularly<br /> participant in the Community, he sai-.</p> <p-It is just in my nature to help<br /> other business owners. I have the education and experience to help others<br /> and like to share that knowledge. Heaven only knows that we as a nation<br /> could do nothing but benefit for more and more small businesses and this is my<br /> way of doing my part' <p>The Business.gov is grateful for his and BizResearche's<br /> continued participation in the Community. </p> <p>From finding information on SBA loans programs, registering<br /> a business, hiring employees to learning from othe's experiences, the<br /> Business.gov Community provides potential, current, and retired small business<br /> owners a platform. If you have't already, <a href='http://community.business.gov/' target=_blank>join the community</a> to participate and<br /> collaborate with other members and the government. </p> <p><strong>Related Resources:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://www.whitehouse.gov/open' target=_blank>Open<br /> Government Initiative</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Are-You-the-Community-s-Next-Rising-Star/ba-p/2128' target=_blank>Are<br /> You the Communit's Next Rising Star?</a></li> <li>BizResearche's <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Power-User-Spotlight-Small-Business-Event-Planner-Turns/ba-p/15701' target=_blank>Power<br /> User Spotlight: Small Business Event Planner Turns Volunteer Work into a Career</a></li> <li>phanio's <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Power-User-Spotlight-Starting-a-Business-Takes-Hard-Work-and/ba-p/14236' target=_blank>Power<br /> User Spotlight: Starting a Business Takes Hard Work and Dedication</a></li> </ul> <ul> </ul> </p-it> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/businessgov-community-hits-15000-members-and-celebrates-two-sup#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112551 In The Loop Wed, 20 Oct 2010 17:59:32 +0000 JimD 112551 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself <p><em>Inspired<br /> by feeling undervalued as an employee, Stephen Sandecki gave up his job as a<br /> district manager and started his own business. Stephen is an active member in<br /> the Community and shares what he has learned through research and experience. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov<br /> interviewed Stephen, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><em> in the Community, for some<br /> insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How<br /> did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced<br /> you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I used to be a district manager and we<br /> were coming up with some new marketing methods. The company chose a method that<br /> caused people to lose their jobs. This upset me and I felt that I had to move<br /> on.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p>I wanted to hire employees and care about<br /> them. I have not had the opportunity to hire more people yet, but will one day.<br /> I feel that you need to care about your employees and not just the bottom line.<br /> People are your biggest asset and giving them job security is important.</p> <p class='General'><strong><br /> What is the toughest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business<br /> owner? How did you meet that challenge? </strong></p> <p>Getting the ball rolling was the toughest<br /> for me. When you decide to start a business, sometime it is hard to predict<br /> what challenges you will meet. You will face many challenges before you even<br /> start the business. Once you get the ball rolling, you then need to keep it<br /> rolling. There is no room to relax when you are starting. I am a one-man<br /> business. If I stop working or stop giving my full attention, I do not make<br /> money. I overcame the challenge by continuing to push. I worked hard and<br /> reinvested into my business. </p> <p>The rough economy in 2008 put me at a<br /> crossroads. Was I going to continue pushing my small business or do I need to<br /> go back into the regular workforce? I decided to stick with it and it ended up<br /> working out well for me. A company decided to buy a website I developed right<br /> at the same time I needed the money to make a purchase myself. This ended up<br /> increasing my bottom line. </p> <p><strong>What were some of the lessons you learned<br /> that you could share with other business owners?</strong></p> <p>Set realistic goals. You need to come up<br /> with a good game plan. By setting smaller goals, you can accomplish them.<br /> Having goals that you are not planning on accomplishing can just clutter up<br /> your time and does not push you in the right direction. </p> <p>I also found that setting short-term goals<br /> for 3-6 months out make them easier to handle. When starting and running a<br /> small business, many factors will change. Goals with long time frames may<br /> become irrelevant. If you want to open a storefront, what small goals do you<br /> need to accomplish before you actually open the doors?</p> <p><strong>If<br /> you were to give a person who wants to start a business one piece of advice<br /> what would it be?</strong></p> <p>Stick to your game plan and do not change<br /> it all the time. Many small business owners spend all their time chasing<br /> different directions and leads. Others will change anytime someone has a<br /> suggestion or they read about a new technique. </p> <p>Another good skill to have is to<br /> understand all the finances. Finances are the most important part of a starting<br /> business because that is usually the limiting resource. Keep your personal and<br /> business expenses separate so you can see where the money is going and coming<br /> from. If the lines blend, it is hard to control the amount you are investing<br /> and the revenues business is making. Taxes can get confusing, but you should<br /> not rely completely on someone else. Take a community college course on taxes.<br /> It will teach you the basics so you can understand your accountant. </p> <p><strong>What<br /> resources do you use when deciding what direction to take your small business?</strong></p> <p>I do a lot of reading both online and<br /> offline. You do not need to go out and buy a million;how t- books on<br /> business. I use the library and bookstores to look through books. I also talk<br /> with people about their personal experiences and opinions, but remember with<br /> all advice pertaining to your business, take it with a grain of salt. It is<br /> your business and you need to feel confident on what you are doing. Take the<br /> advise and the adapt it to your business plan and your business. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick<br /> Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 30, 2010</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 73</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 92</p> <p><em>As<br /> of 10/07/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related<br /> Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/The-Industry-Word/4-Steps-to-Keep-Your-Business-Planning-Simple-and-Useful/ba-p/10839' target='_blank'>4 Steps to Keep Your Business<br /> Planning Simple and Useful</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/Why-and-How-to-Keep-Your-Business-and-Personal-Banking-Separate/ba-p/35940' target='_blank'>Why and How to Keep Your Business and<br /> Personal Banking Seperate</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or<br /> opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or<br /> member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The<br /> views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business<br /> Gateway Program Office, the U.S.<br /> Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government.<br /> Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the<br /> Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to<br /> provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or<br /> guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information<br /> contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change<br /> frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the<br /> advice of an attorney</em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111861 In The Loop Wed, 13 Oct 2010 09:00:00 +0000 JimD 111861 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself-1 <p><em>Inspired<br /> by feeling undervalued as an employee, Stephen Sandecki gave up his job as a<br /> district manager and started his own business. Stephen is an active member in<br /> the Community and shares what he has learned through research and experience. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov<br /> interviewed Stephen, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><em> in the Community, for some<br /> insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How<br /> did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced<br /> you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I used to be a district manager and we<br /> were coming up with some new marketing methods. The company chose a method that<br /> caused people to lose their jobs. This upset me and I felt that I had to move<br /> on.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p>I wanted to hire employees and care about<br /> them. I have not had the opportunity to hire more people yet, but will one day.<br /> I feel that you need to care about your employees and not just the bottom line.<br /> People are your biggest asset and giving them job security is important.</p> <p class='General'><strong><br /> What is the toughest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business<br /> owner? How did you meet that challenge? </strong></p> <p>Getting the ball rolling was the toughest<br /> for me. When you decide to start a business, sometime it is hard to predict<br /> what challenges you will meet. You will face many challenges before you even<br /> start the business. Once you get the ball rolling, you then need to keep it<br /> rolling. There is no room to relax when you are starting. I am a one-man<br /> business. If I stop working or stop giving my full attention, I do not make<br /> money. I overcame the challenge by continuing to push. I worked hard and<br /> reinvested into my business. </p> <p>The rough economy in 2008 put me at a<br /> crossroads. Was I going to continue pushing my small business or do I need to<br /> go back into the regular workforce? I decided to stick with it and it ended up<br /> working out well for me. A company decided to buy a website I developed right<br /> at the same time I needed the money to make a purchase myself. This ended up<br /> increasing my bottom line. </p> <p><strong>What were some of the lessons you learned<br /> that you could share with other business owners?</strong></p> <p>Set realistic goals. You need to come up<br /> with a good game plan. By setting smaller goals, you can accomplish them.<br /> Having goals that you are not planning on accomplishing can just clutter up<br /> your time and does not push you in the right direction. </p> <p>I also found that setting short-term goals<br /> for 3-6 months out make them easier to handle. When starting and running a<br /> small business, many factors will change. Goals with long time frames may<br /> become irrelevant. If you want to open a storefront, what small goals do you<br /> need to accomplish before you actually open the doors?</p> <p><strong>If<br /> you were to give a person who wants to start a business one piece of advice<br /> what would it be?</strong></p> <p>Stick to your game plan and do not change<br /> it all the time. Many small business owners spend all their time chasing<br /> different directions and leads. Others will change anytime someone has a<br /> suggestion or they read about a new technique. </p> <p>Another good skill to have is to<br /> understand all the finances. Finances are the most important part of a starting<br /> business because that is usually the limiting resource. Keep your personal and<br /> business expenses separate so you can see where the money is going and coming<br /> from. If the lines blend, it is hard to control the amount you are investing<br /> and the revenues business is making. Taxes can get confusing, but you should<br /> not rely completely on someone else. Take a community college course on taxes.<br /> It will teach you the basics so you can understand your accountant. </p> <p><strong>What<br /> resources do you use when deciding what direction to take your small business?</strong></p> <p>I do a lot of reading both online and<br /> offline. You do not need to go out and buy a million;how t- books on<br /> business. I use the library and bookstores to look through books. I also talk<br /> with people about their personal experiences and opinions, but remember with<br /> all advice pertaining to your business, take it with a grain of salt. It is<br /> your business and you need to feel confident on what you are doing. Take the<br /> advise and the adapt it to your business plan and your business. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick<br /> Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 30, 2010</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 73</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 92</p> <p><em>As<br /> of 10/07/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related<br /> Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/The-Industry-Word/4-Steps-to-Keep-Your-Business-Planning-Simple-and-Useful/ba-p/10839' target='_blank'>4 Steps to Keep Your Business<br /> Planning Simple and Useful</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/Why-and-How-to-Keep-Your-Business-and-Personal-Banking-Separate/ba-p/35940' target='_blank'>Why and How to Keep Your Business and<br /> Personal Banking Seperate</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or<br /> opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or<br /> member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The<br /> views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business<br /> Gateway Program Office, the U.S.<br /> Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government.<br /> Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the<br /> Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to<br /> provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or<br /> guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information<br /> contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change<br /> frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the<br /> advice of an attorney</em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118911 In The Loop Wed, 13 Oct 2010 06:00:00 +0000 JimD 118911 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Set Small Goals and Look Out for Yourself http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself-0 <p><em>Inspired<br /> by feeling undervalued as an employee, Stephen Sandecki gave up his job as a<br /> district manager and started his own business. Stephen is an active member in<br /> the Community and shares what he has learned through research and experience. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov<br /> interviewed Stephen, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><em> in the Community, for some<br /> insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How<br /> did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced<br /> you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I used to be a district manager and we<br /> were coming up with some new marketing methods. The company chose a method that<br /> caused people to lose their jobs. This upset me and I felt that I had to move<br /> on.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p>I wanted to hire employees and care about<br /> them. I have not had the opportunity to hire more people yet, but will one day.<br /> I feel that you need to care about your employees and not just the bottom line.<br /> People are your biggest asset and giving them job security is important.</p> <p class='General'><strong><br /> What is the toughest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business<br /> owner? How did you meet that challenge? </strong></p> <p>Getting the ball rolling was the toughest<br /> for me. When you decide to start a business, sometime it is hard to predict<br /> what challenges you will meet. You will face many challenges before you even<br /> start the business. Once you get the ball rolling, you then need to keep it<br /> rolling. There is no room to relax when you are starting. I am a one-man<br /> business. If I stop working or stop giving my full attention, I do not make<br /> money. I overcame the challenge by continuing to push. I worked hard and<br /> reinvested into my business. </p> <p>The rough economy in 2008 put me at a<br /> crossroads. Was I going to continue pushing my small business or do I need to<br /> go back into the regular workforce? I decided to stick with it and it ended up<br /> working out well for me. A company decided to buy a website I developed right<br /> at the same time I needed the money to make a purchase myself. This ended up<br /> increasing my bottom line. </p> <p><strong>What were some of the lessons you learned<br /> that you could share with other business owners?</strong></p> <p>Set realistic goals. You need to come up<br /> with a good game plan. By setting smaller goals, you can accomplish them.<br /> Having goals that you are not planning on accomplishing can just clutter up<br /> your time and does not push you in the right direction. </p> <p>I also found that setting short-term goals<br /> for 3-6 months out make them easier to handle. When starting and running a<br /> small business, many factors will change. Goals with long time frames may<br /> become irrelevant. If you want to open a storefront, what small goals do you<br /> need to accomplish before you actually open the doors?</p> <p><strong>If<br /> you were to give a person who wants to start a business one piece of advice<br /> what would it be?</strong></p> <p>Stick to your game plan and do not change<br /> it all the time. Many small business owners spend all their time chasing<br /> different directions and leads. Others will change anytime someone has a<br /> suggestion or they read about a new technique. </p> <p>Another good skill to have is to<br /> understand all the finances. Finances are the most important part of a starting<br /> business because that is usually the limiting resource. Keep your personal and<br /> business expenses separate so you can see where the money is going and coming<br /> from. If the lines blend, it is hard to control the amount you are investing<br /> and the revenues business is making. Taxes can get confusing, but you should<br /> not rely completely on someone else. Take a community college course on taxes.<br /> It will teach you the basics so you can understand your accountant. </p> <p><strong>What<br /> resources do you use when deciding what direction to take your small business?</strong></p> <p>I do a lot of reading both online and<br /> offline. You do not need to go out and buy a million;how t- books on<br /> business. I use the library and bookstores to look through books. I also talk<br /> with people about their personal experiences and opinions, but remember with<br /> all advice pertaining to your business, take it with a grain of salt. It is<br /> your business and you need to feel confident on what you are doing. Take the<br /> advise and the adapt it to your business plan and your business. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick<br /> Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/9218' target='_blank'>NRiddle</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: March 30, 2010</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 73</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 92</p> <p><em>As<br /> of 10/07/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related<br /> Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/The-Industry-Word/4-Steps-to-Keep-Your-Business-Planning-Simple-and-Useful/ba-p/10839' target='_blank'>4 Steps to Keep Your Business<br /> Planning Simple and Useful</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/Why-and-How-to-Keep-Your-Business-and-Personal-Banking-Separate/ba-p/35940' target='_blank'>Why and How to Keep Your Business and<br /> Personal Banking Seperate</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or<br /> opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or<br /> member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The<br /> views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business<br /> Gateway Program Office, the U.S.<br /> Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government.<br /> Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the<br /> Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to<br /> provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or<br /> guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information<br /> contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change<br /> frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the<br /> advice of an attorney</em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-set-small-goals-and-look-out-yourself-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112541 In The Loop Wed, 13 Oct 2010 06:00:00 +0000 JimD 112541 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Exporting Experiences http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences <p> <p;as 95="" a="" american="" and="" been="" borders-="" businesses="" commerce="" connect="" consumers="" gary="" has="" important="" it="" less="" little="" live="" locke="" more="" never="" of="" our="" outside="" percent="" s="" said.="" save="" secretary="" spend="" the="" to="" u.s.="" who="" world=""></p;as></p> <p>The <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/National-Export-Initiative/National-Export-Initiative" target="_blank">National Export Initiative (NEI)</a> is a multi-year effort to increase U.S. exports. Exporting is a great way to expand your business and take part in the global economy. In fact, companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that do not.</p> <p><a href="http://business.usa.gov/export" target="_blank">Business.usa.gov</a> has recently updated its website and Business.gov has updated the <a href="http://business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export/Import section</a> to provide small business owners with the resources to start exporting. We asked the community</p> <p>Below is a summary of the small business owne&#39;s successes and challenge:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Shipping</strong> <p>Moving products across the country can be difficult and it can get even more confusing and difficult shipping to another country. Choosing a reliable shipping company as well as the appropriate containers is essential for some small business owners.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/14285" target="_blank">gretcyshaw</a> had a problem with a container flooding and then had to airship the materials, which was expensive.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/6130" target="_blank">MarkAse</a> has a wine business and found it challenging to obtain a small-refrigerated shipping container. He found one that holds 16,000 bottles of wine, which is a huge amount.</p> <p>Time is another factor that the community memebers discussed. Trying to estimate shipping time and time to go through customs can be difficult. Unforeseen delays can easily arise at any part during the process. Community members cautioned that new exporters should make sure that you ship well in advance and inform your customers about any delays.</p> <p>Business.usa.gov has information on <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-logistics/shipping-your-product-overseas" target="_blank">Shipping Your Product Overseas</a> including different methods, packing, labeling, and insuring your shipment.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Local Involvement</strong> <p>Finding a local contact on the receiving end of your transaction can be beneficial for your business.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/11339" target="_blank">naymarkd</a> was having problems with the ethics of different countries. A foreign customs officer asked for a bribe to clear a legal container. Naymarkd did not pay this and his container was delayed for an entire week. He then collaborated with a local company to help. It has been more expensive, but he feels it is worth it because&#39;locals get along better with locals&#39;</p> <p>Local contacts not only help receive your product, but can also help sell your product. Finding those connections can be difficult. Taking a trip to the country and finding people that you can trust is important.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Payments and Billing</strong> <p>Dealing with someone 10,000 miles away is difficult, but making sure that you collect is important. Business.USA.gov lists the different <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-financing/methods-of-payment" target="_blank">methods of payments</a> that are used with exports. When deciding what works best for your business, consider time frames, cash flow, and risk. If you send a lot of products on credit and the receiving business does not pay, it can be a long process to get back your losses.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Paperwork</strong> <p>When exporting your products there is no way around the paperwork. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is essential to make sure your container can get where it needs to go. When you ship a container or have large shipment, the paperwork get more complicated. Business.usa.gov has an extensive list of <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-logistics/common-export-documents" target="_blank">common export documents</a> to help you get started.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10082" target="_blank">TShirtsNY</a> shared tips about being able to start shipping internationally by using the documents available at his local Post Office.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Need Exporting Assistance?</strong><br /> Exporting can be very beneficial to your business. Understanding all aspects of exporting is difficult, but there is assistance available.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/internationaltrade/useac/index.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-SBA" target="_blank">U.S. Export Assistance Centers</a><br /> Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.</li> <li> <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/offices/domestic-offices" target="_blank">Contact a Trade Specialist Near You </a><br /> The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.</li> <li> <a href="https://www.ustda.gov/consultantdb/" target="_blank">USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses</a><br /> The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export / Import Section on Business.gov</a></li> <li> <a href="http://business.usa.gov/" target="_blank">business.usa.gov</a></li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong'october 2010:="" compared="" contractors="" employee="" experience="" independent="" to="" with=""></strong'october></a> will run until October 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111851 In The Loop Thu, 07 Oct 2010 14:26:36 +0000 JimD 111851 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Exporting Experiences http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences-1 <p> <p;as 95="" a="" american="" and="" been="" borders-="" businesses="" commerce="" connect="" consumers="" gary="" has="" important="" it="" less="" little="" live="" locke="" more="" never="" of="" our="" outside="" percent="" s="" said.="" save="" secretary="" spend="" the="" to="" u.s.="" who="" world=""></p;as></p> <p>The <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/National-Export-Initiative/National-Export-Initiative" target="_blank">National Export Initiative (NEI)</a> is a multi-year effort to increase U.S. exports. Exporting is a great way to expand your business and take part in the global economy. In fact, companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that do not.</p> <p><a href="http://business.usa.gov/export" target="_blank">Business.usa.gov/export</a> has recently updated its website and Business.gov has updated the <a href="http://business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export/Import section</a> to provide small business owners with the resources to start exporting. We asked the community</p> <p>Below is a summary of the small business owne&#39;s successes and challenge:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Shipping</strong> <p>Moving products across the country can be difficult and it can get even more confusing and difficult shipping to another country. Choosing a reliable shipping company as well as the appropriate containers is essential for some small business owners.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/14285" target="_blank">gretcyshaw</a> had a problem with a container flooding and then had to airship the materials, which was expensive.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/6130" target="_blank">MarkAse</a> has a wine business and found it challenging to obtain a small-refrigerated shipping container. He found one that holds 16,000 bottles of wine, which is a huge amount.</p> <p>Time is another factor that the community memebers discussed. Trying to estimate shipping time and time to go through customs can be difficult. Unforeseen delays can easily arise at any part during the process. Community members cautioned that new exporters should make sure that you ship well in advance and inform your customers about any delays.</p> <p>Business.usa.gov/export has information on <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-logistics/shipping-your-product-overseas" target="_blank">Shipping Your Product Overseas</a> including different methods, packing, labeling, and insuring your shipment.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Local Involvement</strong> <p>Finding a local contact on the receiving end of your transaction can be beneficial for your business.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/11339" target="_blank">naymarkd</a> was having problems with the ethics of different countries. A foreign customs officer asked for a bribe to clear a legal container. Naymarkd did not pay this and his container was delayed for an entire week. He then collaborated with a local company to help. It has been more expensive, but he feels it is worth it because&#39;locals get along better with locals&#39;</p> <p>Local contacts not only help receive your product, but can also help sell your product. Finding those connections can be difficult. Taking a trip to the country and finding people that you can trust is important.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Payments and Billing</strong> <p>Dealing with someone 10,000 miles away is difficult, but making sure that you collect is important. Business.usa.gov/export lists the different <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-financing/methods-of-payment" target="_blank">methods of payments</a> that are used with exports. When deciding what works best for your business, consider time frames, cash flow, and risk. If you send a lot of products on credit and the receiving business does not pay, it can be a long process to get back your losses.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Paperwork</strong> <p>When exporting your products there is no way around the paperwork. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is essential to make sure your container can get where it needs to go. When you ship a container or have large shipment, the paperwork get more complicated. Business.usa.gov/export has an extensive list of <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/National-Export-Initiative/National-Export-Initiative" target="_blank">common export documents</a> to help you get started.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10082" target="_blank">TShirtsNY</a> shared tips about being able to start shipping internationally by using the documents available at his local Post Office.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Need Exporting Assistance?</strong><br /> Exporting can be very beneficial to your business. Understanding all aspects of exporting is difficult, but there is assistance available.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/internationaltrade/useac/index.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-SBA" target="_blank">U.S. Export Assistance Centers</a><br /> Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.</li> <li> <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/offices/domestic-offices" target="_blank">Contact a Trade Specialist Near You </a><br /> The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.</li> <li> <a href="https://www.ustda.gov/consultantdb/" target="_blank">USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses</a><br /> The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export / Import Section on Business.gov</a></li> <li> <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export" target="_blank">Business.usa.gov/export</a></li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong'october 2010:="" compared="" contractors="" employee="" experience="" independent="" to="" with=""></strong'october></a> will run until October 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118901 In The Loop Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:27:27 +0000 JimD 118901 at http://www.sba.gov Idea Exchange: Small Business Owner's Exporting Experiences http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences-0 <p> <p;as 95="" a="" american="" and="" been="" borders-="" businesses="" commerce="" connect="" consumers="" gary="" has="" important="" it="" less="" little="" live="" locke="" more="" never="" of="" our="" outside="" percent="" s="" said.="" save="" secretary="" spend="" the="" to="" u.s.="" who="" world=""></p;as></p> <p>The <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/National-Export-Initiative/National-Export-Initiative" target="_blank">National Export Initiative (NEI)</a> is a multi-year effort to increase U.S. exports. Exporting is a great way to expand your business and take part in the global economy. In fact, companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that do not.</p> <p><a href="http://business.usa.gov/export" target="_blank">business.usa.gov/export</a> has recently updated its website and Business.gov has updated the <a href="http://business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export/Import section</a> to provide small business owners with the resources to start exporting. We asked the community</p> <p>Below is a summary of the small business owne&#39;s successes and challenge:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Shipping</strong> <p>Moving products across the country can be difficult and it can get even more confusing and difficult shipping to another country. Choosing a reliable shipping company as well as the appropriate containers is essential for some small business owners.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/14285" target="_blank">gretcyshaw</a> had a problem with a container flooding and then had to airship the materials, which was expensive.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/6130" target="_blank">MarkAse</a> has a wine business and found it challenging to obtain a small-refrigerated shipping container. He found one that holds 16,000 bottles of wine, which is a huge amount.</p> <p>Time is another factor that the community memebers discussed. Trying to estimate shipping time and time to go through customs can be difficult. Unforeseen delays can easily arise at any part during the process. Community members cautioned that new exporters should make sure that you ship well in advance and inform your customers about any delays.</p> <p>business.usa.gov has information on <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-logistics/shipping-your-product-overseas" target="_blank">Shipping Your Product Overseas</a> including different methods, packing, labeling, and insuring your shipment.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Local Involvement</strong> <p>Finding a local contact on the receiving end of your transaction can be beneficial for your business.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/11339" target="_blank">naymarkd</a> was having problems with the ethics of different countries. A foreign customs officer asked for a bribe to clear a legal container. Naymarkd did not pay this and his container was delayed for an entire week. He then collaborated with a local company to help. It has been more expensive, but he feels it is worth it because&#39;locals get along better with locals&#39;</p> <p>Local contacts not only help receive your product, but can also help sell your product. Finding those connections can be difficult. Taking a trip to the country and finding people that you can trust is important.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Payments and Billing</strong> <p>Dealing with someone 10,000 miles away is difficult, but making sure that you collect is important. business.usa.gov lists the different <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-financing/methods-of-payment" target="_blank">methods of payments</a> that are used with exports. When deciding what works best for your business, consider time frames, cash flow, and risk. If you send a lot of products on credit and the receiving business does not pay, it can be a long process to get back your losses.</p> </li> <li> <strong>Paperwork</strong> <p>When exporting your products there is no way around the paperwork. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is essential to make sure your container can get where it needs to go. When you ship a container or have large shipment, the paperwork get more complicated. Business.usa.gov/export has an extensive list of <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/international-logistics/common-export-documents" target="_blank">common export documents</a> to help you get started.</p> <p><a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/10082" target="_blank">TShirtsNY</a> shared tips about being able to start shipping internationally by using the documents available at his local Post Office.</p> </li> </ul> <p><strong>Need Exporting Assistance?</strong><br /> Exporting can be very beneficial to your business. Understanding all aspects of exporting is difficult, but there is assistance available.</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/internationaltrade/useac/index.html?cm_sp=ExternalLink-_-Federal-_-SBA" target="_blank">U.S. Export Assistance Centers</a><br /> Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S., these centers provide small and medium-sized businesses with local, personalized export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations.</li> <li> <a href="http://business.usa.gov/export/offices/domestic-offices" target="_blank">Contact a Trade Specialist Near You </a><br /> The U.S. Commercial Service provides a network of export and industry specialists located in over 100 U.S. cities and 80 countries. These professionals provide free counseling and a variety of services to assist small and midsized U.S. business export efforts.</li> <li> <a href="https://www.ustda.gov/consultantdb/" target="_blank">USTDA Consultant Database for Small Businesses</a><br /> The U.S. Trade and Development Agency provides this database of companies and individuals providing fee-based consulting services to small businesses interested in importing and exporting.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.business.gov/expand/import-export/" target="_blank">Export / Import Section on Business.gov</a></li> <li> <a href="http://export.gov/" target="_blank">Export.gov</a></li> </ul> <p><strong>Wha&#39;s Next for the Idea Exchange?</strong><br /> The current idea exchange <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/Idea-Exchanges/October-2010-Experience-with-independent-contractors-compared-to/td-p/37578" target="_blank"><strong'october 2010:="" compared="" contractors="" employee="" experience="" independent="" to="" with=""></strong'october></a> will run until October 31. Please submit your thoughts and vote on the ideas you agree with by clicking <a href="http://community2.business.gov/t5/In-the-Loop/Do-You-Kudo-Using-Kudos-in-the-Community/ba-p/7084" target="_blank"><strong>Kudos</strong></a>!</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/idea-exchange-small-business-owners-exporting-experiences-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112531 In The Loop Thu, 07 Oct 2010 11:27:27 +0000 JimD 112531 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Small Business Owners Need to Wear Many Hats http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hats <p><em>Small business owners have to balance many aspects of their business, usually on a tight budget and with limited help. Eric Bryant, owner of New Jersey-based multimedia firm, has experienced the challenges and successes of owning his own business. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed Eric, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><em> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I was;t planning on starting a business, it just kind of evolved and seemed to make sense. I started working for an Internet marketing agency and learned the principals of marketing websites and search engine optimization (SEO). I wanted to see if it worked, so I put what I had learned into practice on my own website. I had no coding skills at the time, but in the evenings and on weekends, I taught myself the basic skills.</p> <p>I then started seeing results of my own website and thought that I could do the same for others. My business had a slower start and it turned into a full-time job in 2008.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?</strong></p> <p>There is-t one single challenge that I face, but a handful. One overall challenge I face is that I have to wear many hats as small business owner. I have to be my own HR, legal, accounting, business development, recruitment, and sales department. I am not an expert on all of these topics, so it takes time to research and a little trial by fire. Some of the specific problems I have struggled with are dealing with legal problems, scaling up my business, and increasing profit margins.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Dealing with Legal Problems.</strong><br /> I had to let an independent contractor go a while ago and she contacted current clients, telling them that I had mistreated her and another contractor I hired. She also told them to ask for refunds. This created a lot of headaches and work for me. I had to take a lot of time away from my business to deal with lawyers and this disgruntled contractor.<br />I have now learned what I need to include in my contracts and how to deal with incidents like this. I hope other small business owners never have to deal with a situation like this, but understanding the differences <a href='http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html' target=_blank>between employees and independent contractors</a> is good to know in the long run.</li> <li><strong>Scaling Up Business.</strong><br /> At first, it was just my wife and me. As we grew we needed to hire employees and contractors. It was extremely difficult to make job descriptions and go out and find the proper people. Currently, I would say I am about 1 for 3 with good hires. You need people to get out there and sell your product, bring in new clients, and support the product, but finding the right people is difficult. </li> <ul> <li><strong>Increase Profit Margins.</strong><br />Trying to increase profit margins is also difficult. Contractors and employees want higher compensation, while clients what more services for less money. I find it difficult to come up with strategies for addressing increasing the profit margins when I am also working on operations of the day-to-day business. Most small busines-s largest expense is labor and trying to balance that with other finances is tough. </li> </ul> <p><strong>What is some advice you have for other small business owners just getting started?</strong></p> <p>As you expand, you will spend many hours working. There is a myth out there that self-employed or small business owners just do a lot at the beginning and once you start hiring people it gets easier. I found that not to be true. I spend just as much time if not more hiring, managing, training, monitoring, and evaluating my employees. The people that you hired will never know all the ins and outs of your business. I found that when your business is starting or expanding, you spend 60-70 hours a week working on different aspects of the business.</p> <p>Some other advice would be to learn as much as you can. Know the legal requirements and tax requirements. Those are important and should't just be brushed over. I am still trying to learn how to expand my business and be a better manager.</p> <p><strong>What are the biggest benefits and opportunities of being a small business owner? What would you miss if you ended up working for someone else?</strong></p> <p>Creativity. I like the ability to create something that is 100% mine from conception to final project. You do not tend to get that opportunity in a regular job. This was one of the main reasons I started my business. I was entrepreneurial-minded person and I got bored at regular jobs.</p> <p>I also like being able to help people. Being the employer, I am now responsible for professional development of my employees. I want to make sure I treat them well and make sure they are happy. I also like being charitable. Our company tries to help people whether they are a struggling small business owner looking for a break or a model trying to break into a competitive market. We help out people with our marketing skills to give people a chance to do great things. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: June 16, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 131</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 46</p> <p><em>As of 09/09/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/5-Things-to-Know-About-Hiring-Independent-Contractors/ba-p/5670' target=_blank>5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/7-Tips-for-Finding-and-Hiring-the-Right-Employee-The-First-Time/ba-p/31227' target=_blank>7 Steps for Finding and Hiring the Right Employee' The First Time</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></p> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hats#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/111841 In The Loop Thu, 09 Sep 2010 12:00:00 +0000 JimD 111841 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Small Business Owners Need to Wear Many Hats http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hat-1 <p><em>Small business owners have to balance many aspects of their business, usually on a tight budget and with limited help. Eric Bryant, owner of New Jersey-based multimedia firm, has experienced the challenges and successes of owning his own business. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed Eric, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><em> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I was;t planning on starting a business, it just kind of evolved and seemed to make sense. I started working for an Internet marketing agency and learned the principals of marketing websites and search engine optimization (SEO). I wanted to see if it worked, so I put what I had learned into practice on my own website. I had no coding skills at the time, but in the evenings and on weekends, I taught myself the basic skills.</p> <p>I then started seeing results of my own website and thought that I could do the same for others. My business had a slower start and it turned into a full-time job in 2008.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?</strong></p> <p>There is-t one single challenge that I face, but a handful. One overall challenge I face is that I have to wear many hats as small business owner. I have to be my own HR, legal, accounting, business development, recruitment, and sales department. I am not an expert on all of these topics, so it takes time to research and a little trial by fire. Some of the specific problems I have struggled with are dealing with legal problems, scaling up my business, and increasing profit margins.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Dealing with Legal Problems.</strong><br /> I had to let an independent contractor go a while ago and she contacted current clients, telling them that I had mistreated her and another contractor I hired. She also told them to ask for refunds. This created a lot of headaches and work for me. I had to take a lot of time away from my business to deal with lawyers and this disgruntled contractor.<br />I have now learned what I need to include in my contracts and how to deal with incidents like this. I hope other small business owners never have to deal with a situation like this, but understanding the differences <a href='http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html' target=_blank>between employees and independent contractors</a> is good to know in the long run.</li> <li><strong>Scaling Up Business.</strong><br /> At first, it was just my wife and me. As we grew we needed to hire employees and contractors. It was extremely difficult to make job descriptions and go out and find the proper people. Currently, I would say I am about 1 for 3 with good hires. You need people to get out there and sell your product, bring in new clients, and support the product, but finding the right people is difficult. </li> <ul> <li><strong>Increase Profit Margins.</strong><br />Trying to increase profit margins is also difficult. Contractors and employees want higher compensation, while clients what more services for less money. I find it difficult to come up with strategies for addressing increasing the profit margins when I am also working on operations of the day-to-day business. Most small busines-s largest expense is labor and trying to balance that with other finances is tough. </li> </ul> <p><strong>What is some advice you have for other small business owners just getting started?</strong></p> <p>As you expand, you will spend many hours working. There is a myth out there that self-employed or small business owners just do a lot at the beginning and once you start hiring people it gets easier. I found that not to be true. I spend just as much time if not more hiring, managing, training, monitoring, and evaluating my employees. The people that you hired will never know all the ins and outs of your business. I found that when your business is starting or expanding, you spend 60-70 hours a week working on different aspects of the business.</p> <p>Some other advice would be to learn as much as you can. Know the legal requirements and tax requirements. Those are important and should't just be brushed over. I am still trying to learn how to expand my business and be a better manager.</p> <p><strong>What are the biggest benefits and opportunities of being a small business owner? What would you miss if you ended up working for someone else?</strong></p> <p>Creativity. I like the ability to create something that is 100% mine from conception to final project. You do not tend to get that opportunity in a regular job. This was one of the main reasons I started my business. I was entrepreneurial-minded person and I got bored at regular jobs.</p> <p>I also like being able to help people. Being the employer, I am now responsible for professional development of my employees. I want to make sure I treat them well and make sure they are happy. I also like being charitable. Our company tries to help people whether they are a struggling small business owner looking for a break or a model trying to break into a competitive market. We help out people with our marketing skills to give people a chance to do great things. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: June 16, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 131</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 46</p> <p><em>As of 09/09/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/5-Things-to-Know-About-Hiring-Independent-Contractors/ba-p/5670' target=_blank>5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/7-Tips-for-Finding-and-Hiring-the-Right-Employee-The-First-Time/ba-p/31227' target=_blank>7 Steps for Finding and Hiring the Right Employee' The First Time</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></p> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hat-1#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/118891 In The Loop Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:00:00 +0000 JimD 118891 at http://www.sba.gov Power User Spotlight: Small Business Owners Need to Wear Many Hats http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hat-0 <p><em>Small business owners have to balance many aspects of their business, usually on a tight budget and with limited help. Eric Bryant, owner of New Jersey-based multimedia firm, has experienced the challenges and successes of owning his own business. </em></p> <p><em>Business.gov interviewed Eric, also known as </em><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><em> in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.</em></p> <p><strong>How did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced you to take the leap?</strong></p> <p>I was;t planning on starting a business, it just kind of evolved and seemed to make sense. I started working for an Internet marketing agency and learned the principals of marketing websites and search engine optimization (SEO). I wanted to see if it worked, so I put what I had learned into practice on my own website. I had no coding skills at the time, but in the evenings and on weekends, I taught myself the basic skills.</p> <p>I then started seeing results of my own website and thought that I could do the same for others. My business had a slower start and it turned into a full-time job in 2008.</p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?</strong></p> <p>There is-t one single challenge that I face, but a handful. One overall challenge I face is that I have to wear many hats as small business owner. I have to be my own HR, legal, accounting, business development, recruitment, and sales department. I am not an expert on all of these topics, so it takes time to research and a little trial by fire. Some of the specific problems I have struggled with are dealing with legal problems, scaling up my business, and increasing profit margins.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Dealing with Legal Problems.</strong><br /> I had to let an independent contractor go a while ago and she contacted current clients, telling them that I had mistreated her and another contractor I hired. She also told them to ask for refunds. This created a lot of headaches and work for me. I had to take a lot of time away from my business to deal with lawyers and this disgruntled contractor.<br />I have now learned what I need to include in my contracts and how to deal with incidents like this. I hope other small business owners never have to deal with a situation like this, but understanding the differences <a href='http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99921,00.html' target=_blank>between employees and independent contractors</a> is good to know in the long run.</li> <li><strong>Scaling Up Business.</strong><br /> At first, it was just my wife and me. As we grew we needed to hire employees and contractors. It was extremely difficult to make job descriptions and go out and find the proper people. Currently, I would say I am about 1 for 3 with good hires. You need people to get out there and sell your product, bring in new clients, and support the product, but finding the right people is difficult. </li> <ul> <li><strong>Increase Profit Margins.</strong><br />Trying to increase profit margins is also difficult. Contractors and employees want higher compensation, while clients what more services for less money. I find it difficult to come up with strategies for addressing increasing the profit margins when I am also working on operations of the day-to-day business. Most small busines-s largest expense is labor and trying to balance that with other finances is tough. </li> </ul> <p><strong>What is some advice you have for other small business owners just getting started?</strong></p> <p>As you expand, you will spend many hours working. There is a myth out there that self-employed or small business owners just do a lot at the beginning and once you start hiring people it gets easier. I found that not to be true. I spend just as much time if not more hiring, managing, training, monitoring, and evaluating my employees. The people that you hired will never know all the ins and outs of your business. I found that when your business is starting or expanding, you spend 60-70 hours a week working on different aspects of the business.</p> <p>Some other advice would be to learn as much as you can. Know the legal requirements and tax requirements. Those are important and should't just be brushed over. I am still trying to learn how to expand my business and be a better manager.</p> <p><strong>What are the biggest benefits and opportunities of being a small business owner? What would you miss if you ended up working for someone else?</strong></p> <p>Creativity. I like the ability to create something that is 100% mine from conception to final project. You do not tend to get that opportunity in a regular job. This was one of the main reasons I started my business. I was entrepreneurial-minded person and I got bored at regular jobs.</p> <p>I also like being able to help people. Being the employer, I am now responsible for professional development of my employees. I want to make sure I treat them well and make sure they are happy. I also like being charitable. Our company tries to help people whether they are a struggling small business owner looking for a break or a model trying to break into a competitive market. We help out people with our marketing skills to give people a chance to do great things. </p> <p><strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>Quick Facts</strong></p> <p>Username: <a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/3498' target=_blank>petrosianii</a><strong> </strong></p> <p>Date Registered: June 16, 2009</p> <p>Total Messages Posted: 131</p> <p>Total Kudos Received: 46</p> <p><em>As of 09/09/2010</em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><strong>Related Articles</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Business-Law-Advisor/5-Things-to-Know-About-Hiring-Independent-Contractors/ba-p/5670' target=_blank>5 Things to Know About Hiring Independent Contractors</a></li> <li><a href='http://community2.business.gov/t5/Small-Business-Matters/7-Tips-for-Finding-and-Hiring-the-Right-Employee-The-First-Time/ba-p/31227' target=_blank>7 Steps for Finding and Hiring the Right Employee' The First Time</a></li> </ul> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em><strong>Disclaimer </strong></em></p> <p><em>Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the Business.gov Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the Business Gateway Program Office, the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the Business.gov Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. Business.gov aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by Business.gov. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney</em></p> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/loop/power-user-spotlight-small-business-owners-need-wear-many-hat-0#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/112521 In The Loop Thu, 09 Sep 2010 09:00:00 +0000 JimD 112521 at http://www.sba.gov