en We’ll Be Their “Wingman” <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Are you a self-starter? Do you have a general-management skill set? Are you used to constantly changing roles and responsibilities? Are you disciplined and focused? Are you risk-tolerant and able to manage stress?</span></span></p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/Pentagon photo(1).JPG" style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; width: 280px; height: 190px; float: right;" /><span style="font-size: 12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">These are the threshold questions that SBA counselors ask every day to help prospective entrepreneurs asses</span></span><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">s if they have what it takes to be</span><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">&nbsp;a succe</span><span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">ssful small business owner. And when those questions are put to veterans of the U.S. armed forces, they often get &ldquo;yes&rdquo; replies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The military has a track record of producing outstanding leaders, which helps explain why nearly 1 in 10 U.S. entrepreneurs are veterans. Statistics show that vets are 45 percent more likely to be their own boss than their non-veteran counterparts. Veterans own 2.5 million American businesses that employ more than 5.8 million people. These companies generate more than $1 trillion in sales a year. (That&rsquo;s a staggering sum. You could pay the salaries of 57 million Army privates with a trillion dollars.)</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Our veterans have worked hard and made so many sacrifices for our country. They have put themselves in harm&rsquo;s way and often must leave their families behind to keep America safe. At the SBA, we have a solemn duty to work as hard for them as they&rsquo;ve worked for us. No one deserves to live the American Dream more than those who&rsquo;ve put on a uniform and fought to defend it.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">On Tuesday, I attended the <a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">&quot;Boots to Business&quot; program</a> at the Pentagon. In a small classroom of students, primarily service members transitioning out of the Air Force, the SBA put on a two-day &ldquo;Introduction to Entrepreneurship&rdquo; course that focused on how to translate military experience into succeeding as a small business owner. I was inspired by the power and diversity of these heroes&rsquo; dreams: aspirations to open a medical practice, a flight services engineering firm, a cybersecurity company, a photography business, a veterinarian practice, and a barbecue restaurant, to name just a few.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">This year, the SBA will train 15,000 transitioning service members and introduce them to the basics of business ownership. After the two-day intro class, SBA offers an intensive eight-week course to help these leaders evaluate their business concept and develop viable business plans. SBA then continues to provide guidance through our resource partner network in communities across America by offering one-on-one assistance to assess and mitigate risk, comply with regulations, access financing and create new jobs.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I&rsquo;ve started three businesses, and I know it can often seem like a lonely road. But there are resources available; you just need to know where to look. In the military, you get used to being part of a team &hellip; and not just any team, but the finest team in the world: the United States Armed Forces. I promised the members of that class &ndash; and I extend this promise to all veterans &ndash; that if they pursue their dreams of opening a new business, they won&rsquo;t be alone. The SBA will be right by their side, <a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">offering counseling</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">contracting opportunities</a>, and <a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">access to capital</a>.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">The SBA will be their wingman, fighting for them and with them, every step of the way.</span></span></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:19:47 +0000 Maria Contreras-Sweet 825061 at Franchise Ownership Success Starts With Great Training <p>When you buy a franchise, you&rsquo;re paying for the right to use the franchisors proprietary systems. Some of these include their marketing systems, computer and software systems, inventory management systems and more.</p> <p>But, you won&rsquo;t be able to use any of their business systems unless you know how to use them. That&rsquo;s where the franchisors formal training program comes in. It&rsquo;s part of what you&rsquo;re paying for when you <a href="" title="link to franchise article on sba website">purchase a franchise</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Are Franchise Training Programs Good?</strong></p> <p>I can&rsquo;t think of one occasion in which a client of mine told me the training they received from their franchisor was disappointing. But, since this is <em>your</em> money we&rsquo;re talking about&hellip;it&rsquo;s you that will be buying the franchise, it&rsquo;s important for you to make sure the training you&rsquo;ll receive from franchise headquarters will be good. Here&rsquo;s how:</p> <p>Call existing franchisees of the franchise concept you&rsquo;re thinking of buying and ask them to share their views on the training they received. It should be part of your <a href="" title="researching a franchise due diligence ">due diligence</a>.</p> <p><strong>Types of Franchise Training</strong></p> <p>These days, technology plays a major part of company training programs. Expect the franchisor to utilize technology in their training program.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>One way <a href="" title="link to article on franchise technology">franchisors use technology</a> to train their franchisees is to have some setup online. That&rsquo;s right: Part of your training may be online. I&rsquo;ve seen franchisors do what&rsquo;s called pre-training online. Pre-training takes place a few weeks before you arrive at franchise headquarters for in-person training. I&rsquo;ve found pre-training to be a great way for new franchisees to get their feet wet and have a head start on what&rsquo;s to come when they arrive at headquarters for more intensive formal training.&nbsp;</p> <p>The formal, in-headquarters training will end up having the biggest impact on you. The training that takes place at headquarters is pretty intensive. It&rsquo;s designed to prepare you for all of your day-to-day activities as a franchise owner. You&rsquo;ll go through the entire operations manual. You&rsquo;ll be trained on things like:</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Computer systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Inventory systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Point of sale systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Payroll management</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Sales</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Marketing</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Advertising</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="" title="customer service in a franchise">Customer service</a> *</p> <p>You&rsquo;ll learn a lot in a short period of time. (Training programs at franchise headquarters are usually 3-5 days in length)</p> <p>If the thought of learning everything about running your new franchise business in a few short days sounds overwhelming, you&rsquo;re not alone. Every franchisee before you thought the same exact thing, and their businesses are up and running. Yours will be too.</p> <p>You could always ask some of the existing franchisees if the training they received prepared them to open and run their businesses adequately. The answers you get will give you a good idea of the quality of the franchisors training program. And, you&rsquo;ll get a good idea of what to expect as a new franchise owner early on in your business.&nbsp;</p> <p>Franchisors want you to be successful. They know you&rsquo;ll be apprehensive in the weeks and days before you actually open. Their training programs are designed to make sure you&rsquo;re ready.</p> <p>*Non-US Government link.</p> The Industry Word Starting Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:22:30 +0000 FranchiseKing 820821 at Build Your Business with a Great Web Presence <p>47% of small businesses don&rsquo;t have a website. Can you believe it? Establishing a web presence is easier than ever these days and there are so many tools out there that will make it quicker and more influential on your bottom line than ever before. Here are 3 resources that will not only convince you that every small business should have a great website, but guide you in exactly how to make that a reality &ndash; as painlessly and effectively as possible.</p> <h2> Make Your Website Work for You</h2> <p>Do you have one of the 95% of small business websites that isn&rsquo;t mobile-optimized? Get ahead of trends, stand out from your competition and make it as easy as possible for customers to connect with your business by providing them with an easy, enjoyable web impression. The new infographic by SCORE, &ldquo;<a href="">Making Your Website Work</a>,&rdquo; shares the real, hard numbers that put the value of mobile-friendly small business websites, online marketing and SEO into perspective. Did you know:</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 97% of consumers look online for local products and services?</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 70% of smartphone owners have connected with a local business after a search?</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 70-80% of searchers <em>ignore</em> paid ads and focus on search results?</p> <p>The <a href="">infographic</a> compiles 9 statistics about small business website usage into 3 actionable tips to help you make the most of your business&rsquo;s web presence.</p> <h2> Optimize Your Site Design</h2> <p>So you&rsquo;re finally convinced - you have a website, but how can you tell if it&rsquo;s really adding to your bottom line? And adding the absolute most that it could be? SCORE mentor and entrepreneur Dan Beldowicz presents an online workshop, &ldquo;<a href="">Winning with Websites</a>&rdquo; in which you&rsquo;ll learn:</p> <ul> <li> How website design can make or break your online success</li> <li> Why going mobile is a MUST</li> <li> The truth about mobile apps</li> <li> How &amp; when to hire a web developer</li> </ul> <p><a href="">Listen and watch</a> as Dan explains how to optimize your web presence.</p> <h2> Create a Great Customer Call to Action (CTA)</h2> <p>Finally, you&rsquo;ve got to tell customers <em>exactly</em> what you want them to do next. If it&rsquo;s unclear or if there are too many competing options, they&rsquo;ll navigate away from that one important click you really want them to make. Daniel Kehrer, founder of, says, &ldquo;A strong CTA makes it clear what action the customer is expected to take, and why.&rdquo; How does that translate for your specific business? He says,&nbsp;&ldquo;Your approach depends on the action you want to motivate. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase, and you&rsquo;ve already communicated benefits, a simple &lsquo;Buy Now!&rsquo; might be all you need.&rdquo;&nbsp; Daniel explains in further detail and shares <a href="">10 tips for creating strong calls to action</a> to help you turn your heard-earned web visitors into revenue.</p> <p>By now, I hope you are completely convinced that a user-friendly, informative and helpful website is a must for your business and you know how to convert your newfound prospects into loyal customers. The online experience really does reflect the way you would drive sales at your storefront on Main Street: have an easy to find location, create an enjoyable, uncluttered experience and communicate exactly how customers can follow through to your end goal. And to make sure you stay on the right path to your end goal, be sure to get a <a href="">SCORE mentor</a> to be your sounding board.</p> The Industry Word Marketing Mentoring and Training Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:04:42 +0000 bridgetwpollack 820541 at Webinar Series: How to Prepare to Access Capital for Your Small Business <p>Access to capital is the number one concern for entrepreneurs and small business owners. However, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, are you prepared to access capital for your business? SBA and Dun &amp; Bradstreet Credibility Corp. have teamed up for a webinar series this month to help entrepreneurs and small business owners learn how to build business credit and prepare for a business loan. This webinar series is free, but registration is required.</p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">5 Steps to Building Business Credit [SOLD OUT] &nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">A recording of this webinar will be available on&nbsp;</strong><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">SBA&#39;s YouTube channel</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">April 22 | 2:00-3:00 pm EDT</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=";t=71&amp;do=register&amp;s=&amp;rID=432&amp;edID=293">Register</a> </strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In this webinar, 20 +year business credit veteran Amber Colley shares real life business success stories and failures as a result of the care of or the lack of attention to establishing, monitoring and building strong business credit.&nbsp;&nbsp; Learn the basics of business credit and the different ways it can impact a company&rsquo;s ability to manage cash flow, access funding, become a successful supplier, win a contract and more.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Overview:&nbsp;</strong></p> <ul> <li> Why you should care about business credit?</li> <li> Who are we?&nbsp;</li> <li> Understand how business credit works.</li> <li> Concrete steps you can take to improve your business credit.</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Access to Capital: Preparing to Meet Your Lender&nbsp;</strong><strong style="font-size: 12px;">[SOLD OUT] &nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">A recording of this webinar will be available on&nbsp;</strong><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">SBA&#39;s YouTube channel</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <p><strong>April 30 | 2:00-3:00 pm EDT</strong></p> <p><strong><a href=";t=71&amp;do=register&amp;s=&amp;rID=432&amp;edID=293">Register</a> </strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Do you think a bank loan will help you grow your business?&nbsp; Do you know what it takes to get that loan?&nbsp; Have you considered alternative lending options?&nbsp; How about equity options? For many, the journey to access capital for a startup or growing business can feel like a daunting excursion into the unknown. The good news is that there are plenty of organizations in your area that have the resources and assistance to help you prepare.&nbsp; In this webinar, learn about the resources available in your area that provide business and technical assistance, and how to prepare for your journey to access capital.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">Overview:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">What are the lending options available to business owners in today&rsquo;s climate?</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">How do business owners who successfully get loans prepare before meeting a lender?</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">What are the Federal resources available to help you get further educated on your options?&nbsp;</span></li> </ul> Open For Business SBA News and Views Fri, 11 Apr 2014 20:09:56 +0000 ngoriel 819921 at An Uncle You Want to Do Business With <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">At the SBA, one of our core objectives is to </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">provide access to capital</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, but that&rsquo;s not the end of our commitment to America&rsquo;s small business owners. It&rsquo;s the beginning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">We know small businesses need reliable lending to grow, but we also know it&rsquo;s important to provide entrepreneurs with information about business fundamentals, regulatory compliance, how to access government contracts and how to network your way into new opportunities and new customers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">While I&rsquo;m only on Day 5 in my new role as SBA Administrator, it&rsquo;s already abundantly clear to me that the work of our </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Office of Entrepreneurial Development</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> is vital. By working with our partners to provide </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">technical assistance, counseling, training, and mentoring</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, we are providing game-changing advice to help small businesses grow their profits and their payrolls.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;ll never forget a meeting I had with the head of a public utilities agency back in California years ago. He had worked with a program very much like our </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Emerging Leaders initiative</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, which helps underserved businesses grow their companies and compete for public contracts. This executive told me that he had a strong preference to contract with companies whose leaders had been through programs like ours.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">He said emerging leaders &ldquo;get it.&rdquo; They are more sophisticated. They speak the language of business. They know how to run sound operations and how to problem-solve. He said these small businesses are, plain and simple, better partners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">On Thursday, I attended the kickoff of our Baltimore Emerging Leaders class. The national statistics for small business owners who&rsquo;ve gone through the SBA&rsquo;s Emerging Leaders program are remarkable: two out of three leaders have increased their revenue; three out of four have hired new employees; and nearly half have secured government contracts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The United States government buys more than $400 billion worth of goods and services every year, making Uncle Sam the largest buyer in the world. That&rsquo;s an uncle you want to do business with.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Three months ago, SBA did a focus group with our Baltimore alums who took this class in previous years. We asked them how many of them are </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">&quot;8a certified,&quot;</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> meaning they are underserved businesses that are preferred partners for sole-source federal contracts. Three out of four possess this certification.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">To date, 2,000 business executives have gone through our Emerging Leaders program, and they have secured more than $1 billion in contracts and accessed $73 million in new financing.&nbsp; Emerging Leaders is a program that can open lucrative doors for America&rsquo;s small businesses. It&rsquo;s why I went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday &ndash; my second full day on the job &ndash; to make the case to the Senate Small Business Committee for a $15 million appropriation to fund Entrepreneurial Education in the coming fiscal year.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">A wise man once said, &ldquo;A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.&rdquo; At the SBA, taking care of business is our business, and it has been for 61 years. That means we&rsquo;re committed to ensuring that our small business owners have the tools to compete in the federal procurement arena and realize their full potential.&nbsp;</span></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:53:44 +0000 Maria Contreras-Sweet 819481 at SBA Takes Part in Muslim Business Leadership Roundtable <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">I had the pleasure to recently participate in the</span> <a href=""><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">White House Business Council&rsquo;s</span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"> Roundtable with Muslim American Business Leaders that brought together the business and faith-based community for a dialogue on how to support small businesses that start, grow and create job that sustain our nation&rsquo;s economy. </span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The forum recognized the tremendous contributions of Muslim American entrepreneurs and small business owners.&nbsp; There were nearly 20 business owners in attendance that represented various industries and sectors of small business.&nbsp; The roundtable provided a platform to acquaint business leaders taking part with SBA&rsquo;s programs and services that are available to assist small businesses.</span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Joining me at the roundtable was SBA&rsquo;s John Shoraka, Associate Administrator for</span> <a href=""><span style="font-size:<br /> 10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Government Contracting and Business Development</span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"> and Ann Marie Mehlum, Associate Administrator for</span> <a href=""><span style="font-size:<br /> 10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">Capital Access</span></a><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">.&nbsp; Other participating agencies included the National Economic Council and the Department of Commerce International Trade Administration.&nbsp; </span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The conversation outlined the progress that SBA has made in supporting entrepreneurs, including minority-owned small businesses, and laid the groundwork for greater collaboration in the coming months with these important community leaders.&nbsp; </span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">The SBA was privileged to have a seat at the table to help address the needs of the Muslim American business community.&nbsp; It gave us an opportunity to tell the story of SBA&rsquo;s mission to counsel and assist businesses, and to strengthen the economy of our nation.&nbsp; We were able to provide information about our key programs they can use to grow their businesses.&nbsp; This includes SBA&rsquo;s lending programs that work to address gaps in capital, as well as our government contracting programs that help small businesses compete in the federal marketplace.</span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><a href=""><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">SBA&rsquo;s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships</span></a><span style="font-size:<br /> 10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;"> works to build strong relationships with both secular and faith-based nonprofit organizations to encourage entrepreneurship, support economic growth and promote prosperity for all Americans. </span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">We at SBA recognize the important role of all business communities and networks in economic development at the federal level, and that partnerships can provide effective and valuable steps in moving forward to engage and impact communities, especially those that are underserved and economically challenged.</span><o:p></o:p></p> <p><span style="font-size:10.0pt;font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;">We are working to ensure that the nation&rsquo;s job creators have access to the tools they need to build, grow and strengthen.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/Capture.PNG" style="width: 100%; height: 100%;" /></p> <p><o:p></o:p></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:46:27 +0000 Sarah Bard 818351 at Crowdfunding Sites: Top 3 Tips to Get Funding Once and For All <p>The internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business on a national and global scale. With over 2 billion internet users and growing, the speed and the way in which we communicate, share ideas, and even invest in businesses have changed forever.</p> <p>Now anyone with a computer or mobile device and an internet connection can research, review and become an investor in a business with a push of a button. With the growing popularity of <strong>crowdfunding sites</strong>, it&#39;s clear the idea of advertising to the general public through a crowdfunding platform is far more effective at drawing in investors as opposed to finding traditional investors the old fashion way.</p> <p>To put it bluntly, crowdfunding empowers entrepreneurs.</p> <p>It offers them the ability to raise capital without giving up equity or accumulating debt. Instead, these rewards-based crowdfunding platforms allow entrepreneurs to raise capital from the public in exchange for tangible products or other relative rewards.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s simply one of the best ways to cast a huge net for attracting investors to a business. However, with all the hype and popularity buzzing around the internet, many entrepreneurial hopefuls need to be aware that just because launching a crowdfunding campaign is simple doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s easy.</p> <p>There is a big misconception on what it really takes to reach a funding goal and achieve <a href="" target="_blank" title="crowdfunding resource" type="crowdfunding article"><strong>success in crowdfunding</strong></a>. It&rsquo;s not as simple as creating a campaign and clicking the submit button and waiting for an idea to go viral. The <em>set it and forget it</em> attitude is the number one reason why crowdfunding campaigns fail.</p> <p>Did you know of the roughly 60,000 unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns launched, about 40,000 failed to reach even 20% of their funding goal? The good news is you can succeed in crowdfunding, you just need to know how to prepare for it.</p> <p>Here are three key tips for crowdfunding success:</p> <p><strong>1) Perfect Your Pitch </strong>&ndash; An incredible pitch is crucial for crowdfunding and can make or break landing an investor. People have to be sold on you, your idea and your vision before they will ever invest in your business.</p> <p>For starters, write up your preliminary draft, include pictures and record a video explaining your vision, the offer and why you should <a href="" target="_blank" title="business funding " type="business funding information">get business funding</a>. Let your passion shine through!</p> <p>Send your pitch to family and friends so you can get feedback and make any necessary changes. Once you perfected the pitch, start locating initial backers before launching your campaign.</p> <p>Remember, you don&rsquo;t have to swim with the sharks; in crowdfunding, you get to swim with the goldfish.</p> <p><strong>2) Test Your Rewards</strong> &ndash; Every successful campaign started with a dedicated following. The obvious rewards would be to provide backers with a digital copy, physical product, souvenirs, combined rewards, etc. depending on your business idea.</p> <p>Start by testing your reward ideas with your personal network, make necessary adjustments and perfect your rewards package so it is unique, eye-catching and memorable.</p> <p><strong>3) Get Pre-Pledges</strong> &ndash; Pre-pledges are commitments from those people who fully support your business idea and will be there to invest on day one when you launch your campaign. Since the majority of crowdfunding sites provide a 30-90 day time frame for each campaign, it&rsquo;s vital to launch with momentum.</p> <p>Did you know the most <strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="crowdfunding success" type="crowdfunding success resource">successful crowdfunding campaigns</a></strong> had their campaigns go live only after they had 20-30% of their business funding secured by initial backers? Let&#39;s face it; nobody wants to be the first person to fund money into a newcomer&#39;s campaign.</p> <p>Once you perfect the pitch, test your rewards, get pre-pledges and choose a reputable crowdfunding platform, you will need to establish a marketing strategy to reach your target audience so you can advance the momentum of your campaign once you go live.</p> <p><strong>Crowdfunding sites</strong> are a strong stepping-stone for acquiring investors for a business. While for some it can be a viable option, entrepreneurs do need to conduct their due diligence to decide if this <a href="" target="_blank" title="Business Funding" type="business funding resource">business funding</a> option is best for them.</p> The Industry Word Financing Starting Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:28:52 +0000 Marco Carbajo 818031 at What to Know About Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) <p>When it comes to financing, you probably already know that SBA doesn&rsquo;t lend money <em>directly</em> to small business owners and entrepreneurs, but has <a href="" title="link to programs">various programs</a> to help get small business ventures financed through local lenders. But did you also know that the <a href="" title="link to Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program info">Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program</a> has been helping small business access capital for more than fifty years?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What&rsquo;s the SBIC Program? </strong></p> <p>The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program is a multi-billion dollar program that, in fiscal year 2013 alone, invested $3.5 billion in financing dollars to small businesses! So how does it work?</p> <p>SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds. They&rsquo;re licensed and regulated by SBA and use their own capital plus funds &ndash; borrowed with an SBA guarantee &ndash; to make equity and debt investments in qualifying small businesses.</p> <p>The SBA doesn&rsquo;t invest <em>directly</em> into small business through the SBIC Program, but provides funding to qualified investment management firms that are experts in certain sectors or industries. For every $1 an SBIC raises from a private investor, the SBA will typically provide $2 of debt capital (with a cap of $150 million). Here&rsquo;s a look at how it works:</p> <p><img alt="SBIC flow chart depicts private investor funds and SBA funds funneling into SBICs funneling into small businesses" src="/sites/default/files/images/SBIC.png" style="width: 653px; height: 155px;" /></p> <p>Firms combine their own capital with funds borrowed from the federal government at low rates. In turn, they invest these funds in promising new ventures. And it&rsquo;s all done with zero taxpayer dollars!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are the benefits of the SBIC Program? </strong></p> <p>There are benefits for the SBICs <em>and</em> the small business recipients!</p> <p><strong>Small businesses</strong> that qualify for assistance from the SBIC program can receive equity capital, long-term loans and expert management assistance. SBICs benefit small business owners by opening up greater access to equity capital and expert guidance they may not otherwise get through traditional venture capitalists.</p> <p><strong>Investment managers</strong> participating in the SBIC program can add to their own private investment capital with funds borrowed at favorable rates through the federal government.</p> <p>And ultimately, the national economy benefits from the SBIC program as the small businesses financed by SBICs continue to create jobs and generate tax revenues over the program&rsquo;s life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Want to learn more about the SBIC Program? Visit the <a href="" title="link to SBIC program pages">SBIC Program pages</a>, including the <a href="" title="link to SBIC frequently asked questions">FAQ</a>. Still have questions? Email <a href="" title="link to SBIC email"></a>.</p> Small Business Cents Financing Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:43:23 +0000 kmurray 818001 at Top 5 Small Business Administration Resources for Veterans <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">These U.S. Small Business Administration resource partners have almost 1,500 locations across the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico to help veterans who want to start their own business or grow an existing business.&nbsp; All partners can advise veterans on small business loans and provide training and support on a wide variety of challenges small business owners face, from access to capital to marketing.</span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">Veterans Business Outreach Center</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, support and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans who already own or are considering starting a small business.&nbsp; For more information, visit: <a href=""></a>.&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Women&rsquo;s Business Centers</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Women&#39;s Business Centers (WBCs) are designed to assist women start and grow small businesses. WBCs operate with the mission to &quot;level the playing field&quot; for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the world of business.&nbsp; WBCs offer comprehensive training and guidance on a variety of topics in many languages to help them start and grow their own businesses. For more information, visit: <a href=""><u>;s-business-centers</u></a><u>. </u></span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;">Small Business Development Centers</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) provide a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. SBDCs foster local and regional economic development through job creation and retention. SBDC clients receive free, extensive, one-on-one, long-term professional business advising, low-cost training and other specialized services.&nbsp; For more information, visit: <a href=""></a></span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">SCORE: Counselors to America&rsquo;s Small Business</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.&nbsp; Volunteer business counselors, advisors and mentors provide free, confidential business counseling, free business tools, and inexpensive or free business workshops to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners. For more information visit: <a href=""><u></u></a></span></span></p> <p><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">SBA District Offices</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">SBA District offices offer one-on-one and group programs on a wide variety of business topics for aspiring and existing small business owners, as well as connections and referral to lenders. Ask to speak to a Veterans Business Development Officer (VBDO) or a staff member who is available to help you start, manage and grow a successful small business.&nbsp; For more information, visit: <a href=""></a></span></span></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:03:09 +0000 Rhett_Jeppson 816501 at Delivering on the American Dream <p><span style="font-size:12px;">Today, with appreciation and humility, I begin my work as SBA Administrator and a relentless advocate for America&rsquo;s 28 million small businesses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">My journey as a first-generation immigra</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">nt born in Guadalajara, Mexico,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">to</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;Presiden</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">t Obama&rsquo;s cabinet is one that could only happen in America. I came&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">to this country at the age&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">of 5 with my mom and five siblings. We didn&rsquo;t have much, but w</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">hat we did have was a</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">n abun</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">dance of hope. We didn&rsquo;t speak the la</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">nguage yet, neither the English language nor the language of business, but I was taught to believe in the promise of America.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;"><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/MCS Swearing In 1(1).JPG" style="width: 299px; height: 287px; float: right;" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">This country was founded by risk-takers, resourceful pioneers</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;wh</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">o built this pros</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">perous&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">nation. Entrepreneurialism is our heritage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The American Dream has always been about the opportunity to earn a good educatio</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">n and the keys to your own home, but the expanding American Dream is also about the opportunity to start your own business. I&rsquo;ve lived that Dream, and as SBA Administrator, I&rsquo;m determined to help others re</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">alize theirs, as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Small businesses employ 1 out of 2 workers. SBA is a driving force that helps prop</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">el this economic activity. SBA provides access to </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">capital</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">contracting opportunities</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">consultation through a national network of partners</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, and </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">disaster relief loans</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">. &nbsp;I&rsquo;m energized to begin my work on behalf of this nation&rsquo;s entrepreneurs, who risk so much to start new businesses and create most of our new jobs.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;ve already had a busy first morning on the job. I met with our disaster assistan</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">ce team, which is on the ground in Washington State following the presidential declaration to assist those impacted by t</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">he devastating mudslide. I also met with a group of veterans to thank them and to explore how more of our military heroes can use their skills to become successful small business owners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">John F Kennedy once said &ldquo;All&nbsp;of us do not&nbsp;have equal talent,&nbsp;but all&nbsp;of us&nbsp;should&nbsp;have an&nbsp;equal opportunity&nbsp;to develop our talents.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;ve come to realize that access to the American Dream means access to&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">capital. Entrepreneurs are the difference-makers in our economy. I&rsquo;ve seen the pivotal role the SBA plays in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. I was both a community banker and an SBA lender. I was a small business owner whose small business helped small businesses every day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">As a bank chairwoman, I examined business plans, their viability, and management&rsquo;s ability to execute. This not only strengthened my knowledge of the challenges that small businesses face, it also strengthened my resolve to help them overcome those hurdles and succeed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">When I started my first business almost 20 years ago, I experienced the same challenges that entrepreneurs face today. On any given day, I could be called upon to be the company&rsquo;s human resources director, CFO, spokeswoman, or chief sales officer &mdash; all while competing against larger firms in highly competitive markets.&nbsp;Today&rsquo;s small business owners multitask their way through similar&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">days, relying on their determination, the courage of their convictions, and the power of their entrepreneurial spirit.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">At the SBA, we&rsquo;re working to create the next great American success story. SBA lending has helped launch businesses on a path to the Fortune 500, companies like Apple and Fed Ex. SBA has helped launch an iconic American ice cream brand, Ben and Jerry&rsquo;s. SBA even helped six small businesses partner with NASA to launch the Mars rover, Curiosity, which is exploring the surface of the planet as we speak.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">As Administrator, my mission is to make the SBA an agency that&rsquo;s as innovative as the small businesses we serve. Two out of three new jobs in America are created by small businesses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Millions of middle class families are working for folks who depend on the SB</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">A&rsquo;s ability to facilitate access to capital, counseling and contracting opportunities. We must draw on technology to streamline the process of working with the SBA to make it easier for borrowers to access capital and easier for lenders to lend. The SBA must be nimble and agile to keep pace with our digital age.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Remember when a bank was a tall building you walked into, to do business with a teller or a loan officer? Then ATMs came and transformed our relationship to our banks. Today, Americans can use their smart phone to scan their checks and make bank deposits from their living room. The SBA has to anticipate the kinds of rapid changes that are transforming how Americans access financial services, so our products are accessible and relevant in this technological age.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Demographic changes also require fresh thinking. We know there are more retired people who are looking to start a second career and be their own boss. There are more women and more minorities seeking to join the entrepreneurial class. And data shows that immigrants are twice as likely to file patents and twice as likely to start a new enterprise. As Administrator, I plan to embrace</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;them all with a broad, inclusive vision.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;m determined to get more loans into the hands of entrepreneurs who reflect the diversity of America. We know SBA lending to African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino-own</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">ed businesses, as well as women-owned businesses, can lift up entire communities. SBA must reach more Main Street businesses seeking loans. We&rsquo;ll do this by making it easier for community banks and micro lenders to become our partners.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Through our vast resource network, we can strengthen entrepreneurial education, which is so important to the one million people who get game-changing SBA counseling every year. We will seed start-up businesses focused in high-growth areas like advanced manufacturing. We must build bridges with rural communities, as well as urban centers alike, so they&rsquo;re exporting more and are integrated into the global supply chain.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">With the President&rsquo;s support, I&rsquo;m going to collaborate with my cabinet colleagues to make sure more government contracts are awarded to small businesses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;m eager to get to work to help our entrepreneurs grow their companies &ndash; and the American economy along with it. At the SBA, taking care of business has been our business for 61 years. This agency has been a pivotal force in America&rsquo;s economic comeback story, but we&rsquo;re only getting sta</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">rted.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">So let&rsquo;s get down to business. And I invite you to join me on Twitter at </span><a href=";src=typd" style="font-size: 12px;">#GettingDownToBusiness</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> to begin that dialogue today.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Mon, 07 Apr 2014 21:25:16 +0000 Maria Contreras-Sweet 816031 at How to Use Business Books To Grow Yourself, Your Team, Your Business <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Business books are valuable in that they do more than simply teach you how to run your business more smartly. They&rsquo;re conversation starters, continuing education tools for your staff and more.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Educate Yourself</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The primary benefit of business books is, naturally, that they help you achieve better results in business.&nbsp;Don&rsquo;t know a thing about social media marketing? Pick up a book and teach yourself. Curious about the latest leadership technique? A book can help you with that too.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Books only help if you commit to reading them. You&rsquo;re busy. We all are. But if you set a goal for yourself to leverage the knowledge inside books, you end up a smarter business owner.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">It&rsquo;s not necessary to fly across country or spend lots of money on expensive conferences to glean information from business experts. Instead, budget about $150 a year to buy a book each month on Kindle and get all that knowledge (probably more) from the convenience of your favorite easy chair. Don&rsquo;t have a budget for books? Then don&rsquo;t forget your local library. Many even offer digital books these days.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Share Your Knowledge</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">If you blog for your business, books provide great subject fodder. Writing about what you learn is also a wonderful way to process that information and really understand it. As you read, take notes or bookmark pages (yes, you can digitally bookmark as well) so you can come back to pull quotes for your content. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">As you continue to master your industry as an expert, you&rsquo;ll end up imparting what you&rsquo;ve learned. So that book knowledge can be translated into content for speaking engagements, webinars, social media updates ... even data for your own authored book! </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Give It as a Gift</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Business books also make fantastic business presents. When you run across a great book, buy copies for key members of your team who you think would benefit and give the books as gifts to each. You could even start a mini book club within your organization and discuss the principles in a book. Not only does this make your team smarter, but it also helps you bond. </span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Clients appreciate good books too. Send a book you&#39;ve read to a favorite client along with a note about what you&#39;ve enjoyed in it (e.g., &quot;I especially loved Chapter 7!&quot;) &nbsp;Doing so will build relationships with your clients, and they will appreciate your ongoing investment in your business expertise. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Pay attention when talking to clients or contacts to get clues about what topics they&rsquo;re interested in. For example, if a long-time client mentions he struggles with analytics, that&rsquo;s the perfect cue for you to send him your favorite book on the subject. People notice when you pick up on their interests, and it makes for a more personalized gift. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Thirst for More</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">There will never, ever be a shortage of books. Every day, new ones are published, especially with the surge of self-published authors. It can be a challenge to know which ones are worth reading, and which aren&rsquo;t. At the next Chamber of Commerce meeting or industry mixer you attend, ask others if they&#39;ve read any good business books recently. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues. Ask your social network what to read. Join </span><a href="" style="line-height: 1;" title="Link to Goodreads"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">GoodReads</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and see what your friends are reading. &nbsp;And check out the </span><a href="" style="line-height: 1;" title="Small Business Book Awards"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Small Business Book Awards</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> to see what the community believes are top books for entrepreneurs and small business people.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Make time for reading business books, just like you make time for marketing, sales, and other components of your business. While the results may not be directly obvious, books do help you succeed as a business owner.</span></p> The Industry Word Managing Mentoring and Training Starting Thu, 03 Apr 2014 15:46:24 +0000 smallbiztrends 814211 at Local Resources Explained – Women’s Business Centers, Export Centers, Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers <p>You know from our blog post <a href="" title="link to blog post">SBA, SCORE, and SBDCs Explained &ndash; 3 Essential Local Resources for Small Business Owners</a> that there are a number of resources available to help your business succeed.</p> <p>There are also a few resources available to specific small-business audiences such as women, veterans and those interested in guidance about exporting or government contracting.</p> <p><strong>1. Women&rsquo;s Business Centers (WBCs)</strong></p> <p><a href="" title="link to Women's Business Centers info">Women&#39;s Business Centers</a> (WBCs) provide counseling, training and networking opportunities for women across the United States and its territories. With a network of nearly 100 educational centers, women around the country can receive tailored assistance to help them start and grow their small businesses. WBCs seek to &quot;level the playing field&quot; for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.</p> <p>Offerings vary by location, but you can expect to come into a WBC and get help with questions about developing a business plan; financing and funding sources; certifying your business; bookkeeping; and more.</p> <p><a href="" title="link to SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership">SBA&rsquo;s Office of Women&rsquo;s Business Ownership</a> (OWBO) oversees the WBC network, which provides entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics &ndash; and in several languages.</p> <p><strong>2. Export Assistance Centers</strong></p> <p><a href="" title="link to export assistance info">Export Assistance Centers</a> are customized for small business owners and entrepreneurs interested in taking their business global. There are a number of unique challenges you&rsquo;ll face in the business of exporting, but rest assured that there&rsquo;s help tailored for your needs!</p> <p>Staffed with professionals from SBA, Department of Commerce, Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations, Export Assistance Centers can help you with a variety of topics:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Trade Counseling</strong>: planning and strategy; legal and regulatory issues; documentation and product requirements; trade problems; trade finance and insurance</li> <li> <strong>Business Matchmaking</strong>: contact lists and identifying potential partners; trade missions; trade shows; in-country promotions</li> <li> <strong>Market Intelligence</strong>: country and industry reports; customized market research; background reports; trade data and analysis; commercial diplomacy</li> </ul> <p>Some Export Assistance Centers even have SBA representatives who are available to help you with all of your <a href="" title="SBA export financing">SBA export financing</a> needs.</p> <p><strong>3. Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs)</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re a veteran interested in entering the business world from the military word, then consider the services available from your local <a href="" title="link to Veteran Center info">Veterans Business Outreach Center</a>. One of sixteen centers available can assist you with business topics that are unique to you and questions you may have as you enter into your business ventures. So, what can you expect?</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Pre-Business Plan Workshops</strong>: You&rsquo;ll have the chance to work directly with a business counselor during entrepreneurial development workshops.</li> <li> <strong>Concept Assessments</strong>: You&rsquo;ll get help gauging your entrepreneurial needs and requirements.</li> <li> <strong>Business Plan Preparations</strong>: Important to all business owners is a business plan, so you&rsquo;ll get help developing and <a href="" title="maintaining a business plan">maintaining a business plan</a>.</li> <li> <strong>Comprehensive Feasibility Analysis</strong>: Following the preparation of your business plan, a VBOC will help you identify and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. You&rsquo;ll use the analysis results to revise the strategic planning portion of the business plan, with the ultimate goal being to increase the likelihood of success.</li> <li> <strong>Entrepreneurial Training and Counseling</strong>: Working with other SBA resource partners, VBOCs conduct entrepreneurial training and counseling sessions specifically for service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs.</li> <li> <strong>Mentorship</strong>: When needed, VBOCs conduct on-site visits to ensure you&rsquo;re following your business plan. Additionally, VBOCs review monthly financial statements to determine if you should change your business plan to achieve targeted goals.</li> <li> <strong>Other Business Developmental Related Services</strong>: VBOCs also provide assistance and training in topics such as <a href="" title="exporting">exporting</a>, <a href="" title="franchising">franchising</a>, <a href="" title="marketing">marketing</a>, accounting and more.</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, these extensive services can go a long way to help you on your way to success with a career in small-business ownership. Another great benefit of visiting a VBOC is the chance to meet other entrepreneurs like yourself &ndash; the opportunity to network and exchange experiences with folks going down a similar path can also be tremendously valuable.</p> <p><strong>4. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;d like to go into business with some of the biggest customers around &ndash; the government &ndash; then you&rsquo;ll probably benefit greatly from visiting a <a href="" title="Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)">Procurement Technical Assistance Center. </a>They provide local, in-person counseling and training services (either for free or at a nominal cost) to enable you to succeed with government contracting. Here are some questions you can expect to answer when you visit a PTAC:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Is my business ready for government contracting? </strong>It&rsquo;s not the simplest task to pursue government contracts, and can be especially challenging for your company if you don&rsquo;t have the resources to handle a contract. A PTAC representative can sit with you one-on-one and determine if your business is ready, and help position you for success.</li> <li> <strong>Where do I register? </strong>There are numerous databases to register with to get involved with the government marketplace, including the Department of Defense&rsquo;s <a href="" title="Central Contractor Registration (CCR)">Central Contractor Registration (CCR)</a>, <a href="" title="GSA Schedules">GSA Schedules</a>, and other government vendor sites. A PTAC representative can help you determine where and how to register.</li> <li> <strong>Is my business eligible for any small business certifications? </strong>Did you know that some government contracts are set aside for businesses with special certifications? Examples include <a href="" title="woman-owned">woman-owned</a>, <a href="" title="small disadvantaged businesses">small disadvantaged businesses</a> and <a href="" title="HUBZone">HUBZone</a> businesses. A PTAC representative can help you obtain these certifications if you&rsquo;re eligible.</li> <li> <strong>What about contract opportunities? </strong>A PTAC representative can look into past contracts to see what types of contracts have been awarded to businesses like yours. This will give you a good idea about the overall business landscape and potential competition. A PTAC can also help you identify and bid on a contract, and if you are awarded the contract, measure your performance and help with contract audits.</li> </ul> <p>So regardless of who you are and what kind of business you&rsquo;re starting &ndash; or the type of business you&rsquo;d like to do &ndash; SBA and its resources partners are here to guide you along the way. You don&rsquo;t have to go it alone. These <a href="">and others</a> are available to help you start up, succeed and grow</p> Small Business Matters Mentoring and Training Wed, 02 Apr 2014 11:56:21 +0000 kmurray 813121 at SBA Participates in Business Sunday <p>This weekend, SBA and the Department of Commerce Centers for Faith-based a<span style="font-size: 12px;">nd Neighborhood Partnerships joined forces </span><span style="font-size: 12px;">with the </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Minority&nbsp;</a><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">B</a><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">usin</a><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">ess Development Agency (MBDA)</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> and </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">BusinessUSA</a>&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 12px;">to launch the first Business Sunday event in Washington, DC at the 19th Street Baptist Church.</span></p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/crowdshot.jpg" style="font-size: 12px; float: right;" /><span style="font-size: 12px;">Business Sunday is a program focused on promoting local economic growth and job creation by connecting congregations and communities with the valuable business development resources offered by the Federal Government.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Close to 300 business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders came together for the first Business Sunday, packing the fellowship hall at 19th Street Baptist Church. The event included greetings from Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as well as presentations from SBA, MBDA and BusinessUSA on how to access important technical assistance, business counseling, loans and other practical resources. Participants also had the opportunity to sign up for health insurance for their business or themselves through the DC Health Benefit Exchange. Following the event attendees stayed for more than an hour to network and speak individually with Commerce and SBA staff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Business Sunday is a reflection of President Obama&rsquo;s and the U.S. Small Business Administration&rsquo;s shared commitment to strengthening our economy by empowering our people &ndash; our business owners, entrepreneurs, community development organizations, faith-based groups and others &ndash; to effect positive change at the local level. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners to keep this work moving forward.</span></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Tue, 01 Apr 2014 23:32:15 +0000 Sarah Bard 813071 at Have You Considered a Second Act Career in Entrepreneurship? <p>Did you know that one in four individuals between the ages of 44 to 70 are interested in becoming entrepreneurs? In fact, entrepreneurs over the age of 50, also known as <a href="">encore entrepreneurs</a>, are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneurs in the United States.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">If you are one of the 63 percent of Americans planning to work during retirement, then small business ownership may be a good option for you to use your experience and knowledge gained during your career toward starting a new business.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Each year, the SBA helps more than one million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to start, grow and succeed. If you are thinking about starting a business, the SBA and our resource partners can provide you with the tools to help. During the month of April, SBA and AARP are teaming up to host </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">National Encore Entrepreneur Mentor Month</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> to provide a range of resources to entrepreneurs and small business owners over the age of 50. &nbsp;The events will help connect encore entrepreneurs with mentors such as those from SBA&rsquo;s network of </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Small Business Development Centers</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Women&rsquo;s Business Centers</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, and </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">SCORE</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> chapters that can help throughout the life cycle of an entrepreneur&rsquo;s business.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Events will include speed mentoring, which allows mentors with small business experience and entrepreneurs to share information during one-on-one counseling sessions, and workshops for entrepreneurs to get advice and assistance from successful business owners and community leaders.&nbsp; You can </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">find local events</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> taking place around the country to learn more about how to become an entrepreneur or how you can grow your existing small business.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Now is a great time to explore your options. SBA has free online courses targeted at helping encore entrepreneurs to get started.&nbsp; Go online to access </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">SBA&rsquo;s online small business learning center</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> that offers free courses on </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">how to start</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> your own business and a course designed for </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">women entrepreneurs</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> over the age of 50.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">SBA and AARP are also hosting free webinars on related topics that you can easily access,&nbsp;</span><a href=";eventid=745018&amp;sessionid=1&amp;key=A55041DCCCFE1D2DF5812CFB1D937C50&amp;partnerref=StartaBiz" style="font-size: 12px;">Are You Ready to Start Your Small Business?</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> and </span><a href=";eventid=675319&amp;sessionid=1&amp;key=ADF4E956D7B5B1AE2AB5E6387D86C054&amp;sourcepage=register&amp;partnerref=Webinars%5d" style="font-size: 12px;">Steps to Starting Your Business: Encore Entrepreneurship Webinar Series</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">You can find more encore entrepreneurship information at </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> and </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">We look forward to seeing you at a Mentor Month event and encourage you to visit with our mentors and counselors, as well as explore SBA&rsquo;s online tools to help you to build your own small business.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Mentoring and Training SBA News and Views Tue, 01 Apr 2014 16:57:46 +0000 Tameka Montgomery 812731 at How to Work With Freelance Designers <p>Small business owners often outsource to freelance designers to create their logos, marketing materials and more. While using online services where hundreds of designers bid on your project at the lowest possible price can have its place, there are times when you need an ongoing, personal relationship with a designer&mdash;someone you can work with over and over again and count on to deliver every time.</p> <p>How can you develop this kind of working relationship? Here are some tips.</p> <p>Start by choosing your designer wisely. Your local chamber of commerce, personal and business connections, other small business owners and social media networks are good places to look for designers. If you see a small business with a marketing piece, ad or signage that really stands out to you, contact the business owner and ask where he or she had it done. Good designers will have professional websites where you can check out their portfolios to see whether they&rsquo;ve done projects similar to yours. Ideally, you want to look for a designer who is not only familiar with current design trends, but also has some experience in your industry and working with small businesses.</p> <p>Make a shortlist of several options and contact them for more information about their services. Find out:</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; How does the designer charge? Some designers charge by the hour, others on a per-project basis. If the designer uses a standard contract, ask to see it. Check out factors such as how many revisions are included in the price, whether you will own all rights to the finished product (very important if the designer is creating your logo), and whether the designer charges a percentage of the fee even if you aren&rsquo;t satisfied with the work.</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Who will be working on your projects? Is this a one-person shop or does the designer have partners or employees? You might be impressed with one designer&rsquo;s skills, only to find out a much junior person will be working on your projects. Does the designer outsource to other designers? This isn&rsquo;t necessarily bad, but if the designer is outsourcing to the same type of online design services you were trying to avoid, there&rsquo;s not much point to hiring him or her.</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What other companies does the designer work for? Asking about clients will give you an idea not only of whether the designers is conversant with your industry, but also where you may fall in the pecking order. If a designer has lots of big clients, the reality is you may find your projects falling to the bottom of their priority list. Be sure to address this concern honestly.</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Where is he or she located? Today, it&rsquo;s possible to work well with designers across the country or even across the globe. However, communicating about design issues can be difficult for small business owners. It&rsquo;s often easier to discuss visual issues in person, and if this is the case for you, you&rsquo;ll want to choose a local designer who can come by your office.</p> <p>Once you&rsquo;ve selected the designer, keep the relationship happy and successful by:</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Clearly communicating what you want. Find examples of the type of design you like and explain what you like about them&mdash;is it the color? The use of type faces? The graphics or photos?</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Being open to suggestions. You hired a designer for his or her expertise, so use it. You don&#39;t have to accept designs you hate, but do give the designer a chance to explain the reason behind the design. Perhaps he or she will change your mind.</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Limiting your requests for revisions. There&rsquo;s nothing a designer hates more than umpteen emails asking to change this, that and the other. It&rsquo;s OK to have a lot of input into the design, but instead of sharing every thought as it pops into your head, take some time to review the work, think about it and discuss all the changes you&rsquo;d like at one time.</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Setting clear expectations and deadlines. As with any working relationship, be sure you are clear about your standards. Using project management and scheduling tools like Zoho, Trello or Google Drive is a great way to ensure you have the latest versions of files all in one place so everyone can look at them and share their input.</p> The Industry Word Marketing Tue, 01 Apr 2014 15:00:09 +0000 Rieva Lesonsky 812661 at U.S. International Trade Commission Releases Report on How T-TIP Will Benefit Small Businesses <p>Editor&#39;s Note: This blog is by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and first appeared on&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a>.</p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;"><em>Washington, D.C.</em></strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;&ndash; A central goal of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations is enhancing the ability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in transatlantic trade by addressing trade barriers that may have a disproportionate impact on them. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) believes that U.S. trade and investment policies are made stronger when they are shaped by the broadest possible input, including from SMEs, the engines of growth of the U.S. economy.</p> <p>Pursuant to a request by USTR, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) today issued a new report entitled &ldquo;<em>Trade Barriers That U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive As Affecting Exports to the European Union</em>.&rdquo;&nbsp; USTR requested that USITC undertake this study as part of USTR&rsquo;s effort to gather input from the public on the ongoing T-TIP negotiations. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past six months, the USITC, USTR, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce worked together to convene 28 small business roundtables in cities around the United States, in addition to a hearing held in Washington, D.C., to hear directly from small businesses about barriers to exporting to the European Union (EU).&nbsp; The USITC report identifies cross-cutting and industry-specific barriers that U.S. small businesses have identified as disproportionately burdensome to them, compared to large companies, and also includes suggestions for increasing participation by U.S. SMEs in trade with the EU.</p> <p>Ambassador Michael Froman welcomed the report, stating that &ldquo;<strong>Small businesses are the backbone of economic growth, job creation, and a stronger middle class in communities across America.&nbsp; Nearly 95,000 U.S. small businesses export to the EU, sustaining good jobs at home.&nbsp; Tackling trade barriers in the EU that may disproportionately affect small businesses, and expanding market access for U.S. firms of all sizes through T-TIP, will help U.S. companies, farmers, and workers unlock opportunity by finding new European customers and boost job growth</strong>.&rdquo;</p> <p>The EU is an important export destination for U.S. SMEs. &nbsp;SME merchandise exports to the EU totaled $67 billion in 2010 and $76 billion in 2011 (latest available data).&nbsp; However, many SMEs reported that EU technical regulations and other trade barriers limit their ability to export, and they expressed concern that standards-related measures may pose a greater burden on SMEs seeking to export to the EU than on larger companies.&nbsp; While complying with standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures can be costly for larger firms, it is potentially prohibitive for SMEs because many costs are fixed, regardless of a firm&rsquo;s size or revenue.&nbsp; Small businesses also cited difficulties involving patenting costs, logistics challenges, difficulties navigating customs requirements, and differing tariff classifications for products.&nbsp; SMEs also perceived that tariffs affected them disproportionately, in contrast to large firms.&nbsp;</p> <p>Small businesses also reported industry-specific barriers in chemicals, cosmetics, biofuels, emerging technology products, machinery, electronics, and apparel.&nbsp; For example, SMEs producing machinery, electronic, transportation, and other goods cited a lack of harmonized international standards and mutual recognition for conformity assessment, as well as problems complying with technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures.&nbsp; Agriculture SMEs reported a range of export barriers, including high tariffs, inconsistent EU rules and testing mandates, non-science-based regulations, and a lack of harmonization between U.S. and EU standards.&nbsp; U.S. services SMEs in the healthcare, engineering, testing, and audiovisual industries highlighted the lack of mutual recognition of licensing, credentials, and standards, as well as other issues. &nbsp;In the T-TIP negotiations, the United States and the EU aim to make their approaches to regulations and standards more open, transparent, and compatible while maintaining high levels of consumer, environmental, and labor protection.</p> <p>The USITC report also describes SMEs that have had success exporting to the EU.&nbsp; Those small businesses cited the benefits of U.S. government resources available to SMEs, including SBA and U.S. Export-Import Bank financing programs, and the interagency web portal,&nbsp;<a href=""></a>.</p> <p>The complete text of the USITC report may be found&nbsp;<a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>The U.S. and EU have also issued a joint document on T-TIP opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, which may be found&nbsp;<a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>A T-TIP factsheet describing the Administration&rsquo;s specific goals and objectives, and outlining how this agreement will benefit American businesses of all sizes, workers, farmers and consumers may be found&nbsp;<a href="">here</a>.</p> Open For Business International SBA News and Views Mon, 31 Mar 2014 21:34:09 +0000 ngoriel 812301 at SBA's Disaster Loan Program Explained <p>Did you know that in the wake of a disaster, SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations? In the aftermath of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and other disasters, SBA is the primary source of money from the federal government for long-term recovery assistance.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible? </strong></p> <p>SBA&rsquo;s Disaster Loan Program is <em>not</em> exclusively for small businesses. These low-interest, long-term loans are available for damage to private property owned by individuals, families, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofits not fully covered by insurance.</p> <p> While property owners usually have some insurance coverage, often it does not cover all losses or even the <em>type</em> of hazard that caused the damage. And that&rsquo;s where a disaster loan comes into play.</p> <p><strong>What can I use the loan for?</strong></p> <p>There are actually a few different types of disaster loans available. SBA can provide up to $2 million in disaster assistance for businesses.&nbsp; This includes loans to cover <a href="" title="Go to business disaster loans page ">physical damage</a> and <a href="" title="Go to economic injury loan page ">economic injury</a> losses. Some applicants will qualify for <em>both</em> an economic injury loan and a physical disaster loan.&nbsp; Meanwhile, the dollar limit for the combined loans is $2 million.</p> <p><strong>Physical damage</strong> is probably what you think of first when it comes to a disaster &ndash; the more tangible damages done during a disaster. Businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes can apply. A physical disaster loan can address losses not fully covered by insurance and can go toward repairing or replacing:</p> <ul> <li> Real property</li> <li> Machinery</li> <li> Equipment</li> <li> Fixtures</li> <li> Inventory</li> <li> Leasehold improvements</li> </ul> <p><strong>Economic injury </strong>means that because of a disaster, you&rsquo;re unable to meet your business obligations and pay ordinary and necessary operating expenses. So, an economic injury disaster loan (or EIDL) provides the necessary working capital (of up to $2 million) to help your small business or private nonprofit organization survive until normal operations resume after a disaster.</p> <p><strong>Renters can also apply for disaster loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace their disaster damaged personal property (like furniture, rugs, clothing, appliances&mdash;anything damaged by the disaster).&nbsp; Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate, plus an additional $40,000 to cover personal property losses.</strong></p> <p><strong>How does the process work? </strong></p> <ul> <li> After a presidential disaster declaration, first register with <a href="" title="link to FEMA">FEMA</a>. In most cases, you&#39;ll be referred to SBA for possible loan assistance. Then you should <a href="" title="link to online application">apply online</a>, which is the fastest way to receive a decision about your loan eligibility.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> Your loan processing is next. SBA will conduct a credit check and an onsite inspection to determine your losses. A loan officer will work with you to approve or decline a loan.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> Generally, within five days of signing SBA&rsquo;s loan closing documents, your first disbursement is made. A case manager will work with you to meet all your loan conditions and schedule the rest of your disbursements until you receive the full loan amount.</li> </ul> <p>So when disaster strikes, remember that SBA is here to help. <a href="" title="link to disaster video">Check out this short video</a> to learn more about how, and get <a href="" title="link to disaster assistance program information">more details here</a> about the disaster assistance program.</p> Small Business Cents Financing Managing Mon, 31 Mar 2014 15:53:00 +0000 kmurray 812171 at Celebrating National Women’s History Month <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Editor&#39;s Note: This blog first appread at <a href="">WhiteHouse.Gov</a> on March 27, 2014.</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Forty years ago, women owned just 5% of all small businesses in America. Today, they own over 30%, creating 200,000 women-owned small businesses in the past year. Additionally, between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms with $10 million or more in revenues grew nearly 50% more than all firms of that size, and in 2012 alone, angel investors poured 40% more dollars into high growth women-owned companies than in the previous year.</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">With so many positive trends, now, more than ever, women are poised to thrive as entrepreneurs.</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">But gender gaps persist in certain areas. Men still start more companies and receive more capital to scale their operations, leaving many women-owned small business owners facing challenges to turn their great ideas into successful companies.</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Two of the major keys to bridging these remaining gaps are providing better access and opportunity to startup and growth funding. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has taken a number of steps to fully utilize the federal government&rsquo;s resources in addressing these two critical areas, including all of the following:</p> <ul style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 18px 18px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;"> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 6px 0px; font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5 !important;"> Expanded our lending, making nearly $16.4 billion available through more than 45,900 SBA loans to women-owned businesses;</li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 6px 0px; font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5 !important;"> Set fees for loans under $150,000 to zero, providing greater access to small startup companies;</li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 6px 0px; font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5 !important;"> Increased the number of applicants and investment dollars in SBA&rsquo;s Small Business Investment Company program;</li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 6px 0px; font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5 !important;"> Opened the doors to 23 new Women&rsquo;s Business Centers. The network of Women&rsquo;s Business Centers guide and counsel even more than the 120,000 aspiring small business owners they currently see each year; and</li> <li style="padding: 0px; margin: 6px 0px; font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5 !important;"> Created the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program so women-owned small businesses can tap into the $100 billion in contracts that go to small firms every year.</li> </ul> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Just last month, President Obama announced his federal budget proposal for FY 2015. The proposal provides a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding entrepreneurial opportunity for all Americans, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. His budget invests in infrastructure, research and innovation, and advanced manufacturing, while reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform. All of these priorities are good for women business owners. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">As the President said in his State of the Union Address, &ldquo;When women succeed, America succeeds.&rdquo; Continuing to increase access and opportunities for our nation&rsquo;s women-owned small businesses ensures women can reach their full potential so that when we mark Women&rsquo;s History Month in another forty years, we will be able to see the gender gap as a vestige of history.</p> <p style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px;"><a href="" style="padding: 0px; margin: 0px; color: rgb(51, 102, 153);">Click here for a fuller list of accomplishments by the U.S. Small Business Administration.</a></strong>&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Thu, 27 Mar 2014 16:31:56 +0000 Marianne Markowitz 811011 at Growing Importance of Business Plan Competitions <p>Are you aware of business plan competitions? If you&rsquo;re an entrepreneur, they&rsquo;re an excellent opportunity to present your business and compete for cash and in-kind prizes or, worst case, really good feedback from serious business people. If you&rsquo;re lucky enough to be invited to judge, it&rsquo;s a chance to spend a few days reviewing real-world startups.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been judging business plan competitions for almost 20 years. As I write this I&rsquo;m looking forward to another season judging venture competitions including the University of Texas&rsquo; <a href="" title="Link to Venture Labs Competition">Venture Labs Investment Competition</a>, the <a href="" title="Link to Rice Business Plan Competition">Rice University Business Plan Competition</a>, and the University of Oregon <a href="" title="Link to New Venture Championship">New Venture Championship</a>. Each of these three events pit grad-level business students from all over the world against each other as they compete for cash and in-kind prizes. They submit business plans, do business pitches and answer detailed questions.</p> <p>I find judging these competitions fun, interesting and for me a great way to keep up with the evolution of high-level startups, business planning and entrepreneurship education.</p> <p>The University of Texas started this, as far as I know, with the first &ldquo;Moot Corp&rdquo; in 1984. Moot Corp became Venture Labs Competition three years ago. It&rsquo;s the oldest and possibly most prestigious &ndash; although Rice University is a serious rival. All of its entrants have won other business plan competitions to get to that one.</p> <p>The Rice University contest is the richest. Recent winners have won cash prizes of hundreds of thousands of dollars and total prizes of more than $1 million including in-kind services (like free rent, consulting, legal work, etc.)</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been judging the University of Oregon competition since 1997. I&rsquo;ll never forget arriving on a Thursday morning to discover, to my horror, that I&rsquo;d committed myself to all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My horror changed to real interest as the teams began their pitches. By Saturday I had enjoyed it so much I made sure to stay on the list for the future years. And I&rsquo;ve missed only one year since then.</p> <p>One obvious change I&rsquo;ve seen in this area is the tremendous growth in the number of contests, the interest in contests, the prize money and the seriousness of the startups that enter.</p> <p>The most important change is an amazing increase in the viability of the competing startups. The early Moot Corps were almost entirely hypothetical business plans developed by students as academic exercises. Nowadays most of the entrants in the major business plan competitions are real companies with real prospects. Of the three I judge, a clear majority of the startups that enter will eventually get financed and launch. Both Rice and Texas track angel investments and venture capital financing landed by former contestants in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Winners almost always have viable products, believable management teams, and credible growth prospects.</p> <p>Another change is the length, style and content of the business plans submitted. Today&rsquo;s business plans are much shorter than they used to be, as page limits have gone from 30-40 to 10-20. Judges have to read plans and they want shorter, sharper and more summarized. And &ndash; sadly, in my opinion &ndash; financial projections seem to be less rigorous.</p> <p>Another development is that because of the continuing increase in interest, there is now a good website dedicated entirely to listing competitions, at <a href="" title="Link to"></a>. You&rsquo;ll be amazed at how many events they list. And I hope you find one you can attend, enter or judge. If you have any interest in startups, it&rsquo;s a great experience.</p> The Industry Word Starting Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:30:41 +0000 Tim Berry 810581 at SBA’s 8(a) Certification Program Explained <p>Did you know that the SBA has a program designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace? If you&rsquo;re interested in government contracting, the 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to small businesses for which you might be eligible. &nbsp;</p> <p>The 8(a) BD Program has been essential for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. Ultimately, the program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible? </strong></p> <p>Generally, to be approved into the 8(a) BD program and become certified, your small business must be owned and controlled at least 51% by <a href="" title="link to socially disadvantaged info">socially</a> and <a href="" title="link to economically disadvantaged info">economically</a> disadvantaged individuals who are American citizens.</p> <p>You should also be able to demonstrate potential for business success and possess <a href="" title="link to eligibility criteria info">good character</a>. You can read more details about eligibility requirements by <a href="" title="link to eligibility requirements info">visiting this page</a> on our site.</p> <p><strong>What are the benefits?</strong></p> <p>So, how can the program help you? Once certified, you can take advantage of specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and our resource partners. You may also be eligible for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans, and bonding assistance for being involved in the program. You can receive sole-source contracts (up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing). While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages you to participate in competitive acquisitions.</p> <p>8(a) businesses can also receive sole-source contracts (up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing). While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages you to participate in competitive acquisitions.</p> <p>In addition, 8(a) businesses can form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances your ability to successfully compete for and perform larger prime contracts. You can also participate in the 8(a) BD <a href="" title="link to Mentor-Protege page ">Mentor-Prot&eacute;g&eacute; Program</a> which allows companies to learn the ropes from other more experienced businesses.</p> <p><strong>What else should I know?</strong></p> <p>Participation in the 8(a) BD Program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage; the overall goal of which is to graduate 8(a) businesses that will go on to thrive in a competitive business environment.</p> <p>While participating in the program, you&rsquo;ll have to maintain a balance between your commercial and government business. There&rsquo;s also a $100 million (or five times the value of your primary <a href="" title="link to NAICS code page ">NAICS code</a>) limit on the total dollar value of sole-source contracts that you can receive while in the program.</p> <p>To make sure you stay on track to accomplish goals and follow requirements, the <a href="" title="link to local assistance tool ">SBA district offices</a> monitor and measure the progress of participants through annual reviews, business planning and systematic evaluations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="" title="link to Government Contracting and Certification – What’s It All Really Mean? post">Government Contracting and Certification &ndash; What&rsquo;s It All Really Mean?</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to The Government Contracting Online Classroom post">The Government Contracting Online Classroom</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to Procurement Technical Assistance Centers post">Procurement Technical Assistance Centers</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to Small Business Learning Center – Government Contracting post">Small Business Learning Center &ndash; Government Contracting</a></li> </ul> Business Law Advisor Government Contracting Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:38:07 +0000 kmurray 810511 at SBA Hosts Webinar Series to Help Small Businesses Learn How to Apply for the 8(a) BD Program <p>If you&rsquo;re a small disadvantaged business seeking to be certified in the U.S. Small Business Administration&rsquo;s (SBA)&rsquo;s 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program, the SBA has good news for you!</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The SBA will host a series of 8(a) webinars from April through August to help small disadvantaged businesses learn how to successfully apply for the 8(a) BD Program.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong style="font-size: 12px;">The 8(a) Program &ndash; What is it?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The SBA certifies small businesses considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged under its nine-year 8(a) BD Program.&nbsp; Individuals who are members of certain minority groups are considered to be socially disadvantaged.&nbsp; These groups include: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans.&nbsp; Firms owned by Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations are also eligible to participate in the program.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The 8(a) BD Program helps these firms develop and grow through one-on-one counseling, training workshops and management and technical guidance.&nbsp; It also provides access to government contracting opportunities, allowing them to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace.&nbsp; In fiscal year 2012, small businesses received more than $15.8 billion in 8(a) contract dollars.</span></p> <p><strong>8(a) Webinar: How to Prepare and Submit Your 8(a) Business Development Application &ndash; Tips for Success | April 9<sup>th</sup> and August 27<sup>th</sup> | 2:00-3:00 pm EST</strong></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> This webinar will focus on how the 8(a) BD Program works, its eligibility requirements, and its benefits.&nbsp; It will also provide helpful tips on completing an 8(a) application.&nbsp;</li> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Registration is free, but required.&nbsp; Please refer to the following links:</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;April 9, 2014 &ndash; <a href=""></a></p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;August 27, 2014 - <a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>8(a) Webinar: How to Prepare and Submit your 8(a) Application &ndash; Tips for Success (Entity&ndash;Owned Firms) | May 21<sup>st</sup> | 2:00-3:00 pm EST</strong></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> This webinar will focus on how the 8(a) BD Program works, its eligibility requirements, and its benefits.&nbsp; It will also provide helpful tips on completing an 8(a) application. This webinar is for firms that are Alaska Native Corporations (ANC), Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHO), Community Development Corporations (CDC) and Tribally Owned.&nbsp;</li> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Registration is free, but required. Please refer to the following links:</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; May 21, 2014 - <a href="">http</a><a href="">://</a><a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>8(a) Webinar: Keeping Your 8(a) Business Development Certificate Compliant </strong><strong>| June 18<sup>th</sup> | 2:00-3:00 pm EST</strong></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> This webinar will focus on how 8(a) firms continue to meet the eligibility criteria for the 8(a) BD Program.</li> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Registration is free, but required. Please refer to the following links:</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;June 18, 2014 - <a href="">http</a><a href="">://</a><a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>8(a) Webinar: Overview of the 8(a) Business Development Program </strong><strong>| July 23<sup>rd</sup> | 2:00-3:00 pm EST</strong></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> This webinar will focus on the overview of the 8(a) BD Program along with its benefits. It will also discuss if the 8(a) BD Program is right for you.</li> <li style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Registration is free, but required.&nbsp; Please refer to the following link:</li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;July 23, 2014 - <a href=""></a></p> <p>The webinars are designed to help small disadvantaged businesses get and maintain their 8(a) certification and compete in the federal marketplace.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">To learn more about the 8(a) BD Program, visit: </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;">. &nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Open For Business Government Contracting SBA News and Views Tue, 25 Mar 2014 22:24:35 +0000 Darryl.Hairston 810181 at Don’t Delay: If You’re Self-Employed, Sign Up for Quality, Affordable Health Insurance Coverage Today For Coverage in 2014 <p>The Affordable Care Act&nbsp;provides comprehensive health insurance reforms that ensure Americans have access to quality, affordable health care coverage.&nbsp; Over the past five months, we have seen over five million Americans take advantage of new coverage options provided by federal and state-based health insurance Marketplaces, along with more than three million young adults who because of the new law are able to stay on their parents plan until they turn 26, and the millions more who are able to gain coverage through CHIP and Medicaid.&nbsp; With the open enrollment period for 2014 entering its final days, now is the time for self-employed business owners to sign up for a plan.</p> <p>Enrolling now ensures you won&rsquo;t have to wait until next year to get covered and provides the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing that once you are signed up, no one can take away your coverage if you get sick.&nbsp; Between now and March 31, self-employed individuals can purchase private insurance coverage from a range of options, and depending on income, could potentially quality for additional subsidies like tax credits or cost-sharing benefits through the Marketplace.&nbsp; And for 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans, they can get covered for under $100 per month.</p> <p>Here are the important dates self-employed business owners need to know:</p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">For self-employed small business owners, open enrollment for 2014 coverage ends March 31, 2014.&nbsp; The exception is if you have a qualifying life event that provides you with a special enrollment period such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of a job.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">The next open enrollment period won&rsquo;t be until November of 2014 for coverage beginning January 1, 2015.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">You can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year.</span></li> </ul> <p>In the past, small business owners have paid as much as 18% more for health care coverage than larger companies.&nbsp; The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field, slows cost growth, and with consumer protections like insurance rate reviews and a ban on denying coverage for preexisting conditions in place, provides greater certainty that small business owners can access the coverage they need, when they need it.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Additionally, the Affordable Care Act makes it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to go out on their own instead of staying stuck in a current job because of &quot;job lock&rdquo; or because of the lack of access to affordable insurance options outside of their current employment.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>So don&rsquo;t delay.&nbsp; Join the more than five million Americans who have already signed up for a plan.</p> <p>You can sign up 24 hours a day, 7-days a week at <a href=""></a> or in Spanish at <a href=""></a>.&nbsp; You can call 1-800-318-2596, any time, any hour, and in any of 150 languages.&nbsp; And you can even get in-person help in your own community &ndash; in English or Spanish -- (just visit<a href=""> </a>and punch in your zip code).</p> <p>For more information about other provisions affecting self-employed business owners under the Affordable Care Act, go to <a href=""></a>.</p> Health Care Business Pulse SBA News and Views Mon, 24 Mar 2014 19:51:20 +0000 Marianne Markowitz 809191 at How to Write-off Business Expenses You Pay For <p>As an owner, your company may not pay for every expense you incur on its behalf. Your out-of-pocket costs may be legitimate business expenses that you&rsquo;ll want to deduct. How you do this depends on your business&rsquo; entity type &hellip; and more.</p> <p><strong>Deducting your out-of-pocket costs</strong></p> <p>The legal entity for your business dictates how you deduct the expenses not covered by your company.</p> <ul> <li> <em>Sole proprietors. </em>Independent contractors and other sole proprietors and their businesses are one and the same; in effect there are no unreimbursed expenses. All deductible items are reported on Schedule C. Limited liability companies (LLCs) with a single owner (member) are treated the same as sole proprietors; they too report business expenses on Schedule C (unless they make a special election to be treated differently for tax purposes, which most don&rsquo;t).</li> <li> <em>Corporations</em>. Shareholders can only deduct their out-of-pocket expenses as unreimbursed employee business expenses on Schedule A. This means only amounts in excess of 2% of adjusted gross income become deductible and, if they are high-income taxpayers, a portion of the deductible amount is lost. What&rsquo;s more, if they are subject to the alternative minimum tax, then <em>none </em>of the unreimbursed expenses are deductible. The same treatment applies to shareholders in C and S corporations.</li> <li> <em>Partners and LLC members.</em> Out-of-pocket business expenses that an owner is required to pay on behalf of the entity are an offset to business income; they are subtracted on Schedule E (the deduction is labeled &ldquo;UPE&rdquo; for unreimbursed partnership expense). There are no separate limitations on these deductions as there are on business deductions claimed by shareholders on Schedule A. However, as the <a href="" title="Links to Tax"><u>Tax Court has pointed out</u></a>, no deduction is allowed for the owners if the entity would have paid the expense under the terms of the partnership agreement or past business practices but the owners failed to ask for reimbursement.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Reimbursement arrangements</strong></p> <p>You can sidestep the need for personal deductions if your business agrees to cover all of the expenses you incur on its behalf. It&rsquo;s advisable to put this arrangement in writing, specifying what you need to do to receive reimbursement.</p> <p>Corporations can set up accountable plans to reimburse employee business expenses. The plans create tax savings for both the corporations and owners because reimbursements are not treated as taxable compensation; there are no employment taxes on the reimbursed amounts. To be treated as <a href="" title="Links to site"><u>an accountable plan</u></a>, all of the following three conditions must be satisfied:</p> <ol> <li> Expenses reimbursed under the plan must have a business connection (a condition that is usually easily satisfied).</li> <li> Employees must adequately account to the company for expenses within a reasonable time (generally within 60 days after the expenses were paid or incurred). Accounting means providing the company with proper documentation of expenses (e.g., an expense account form or other statement&mdash;on paper, electronically or via mobile).</li> <li> Employees must return to the company any excess reimbursement or allowance within a reasonable time (generally 120 days after the expense was paid or incurred). Advances usually can&rsquo;t be made more than 30 days before the time of the expenses.</li> </ol> <p>While most employee benefit plans have nondiscrimination rules, such rules don&rsquo;t apply to accountable plans. There is nothing in the conditions of accountable plans that would bar a corporation from limiting reimbursements to owner-employees (i.e., not reimbursing other employees) if it makes business sense to do this.</p> <p>Technically accountable plans cannot be used for the expenses of self-employed owners (such plans are limited to reimbursement of employee business expenses). However, partnerships can have a reimbursement arrangement for owners. Partnership agreements should specify their reimbursement policy, which may include or exclude certain reimbursements. For example, if partners want to deduct unreimbursed expenses, there should be a reimbursement policy stating that partners are required to cover such costs and that the partnership will not pay for them. Unreimbursed costs can include indirect partnership expenses, such as partners&rsquo; cell phones and local travel (e.g., between the office and clients and customers).</p> <p><strong>Keep good records</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to lose track of items you pay for on behalf of your business unless you have a recordkeeping system. You may want to use a separate credit card on which you charge only business-related items. Take advantage of apps that let you track business expenses and capture receipts on the go.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>Questions? Be sure to ask your tax advisor about the best way to handle business expenses so you&rsquo;ll maximize your business deductions for legitimate business costs.</p> The Industry Word Taxes Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:38:11 +0000 BarbaraWeltman 808301 at How to Calculate the Cost of Food for Your Culinary Business Venture <p>Are you hungry for information about launching your food-service small business? While there&rsquo;s a lot of shared <a href="" title="link to information about starting a business">information to get started across all industries</a>, the food industry poses unique opportunities and questions. One of the most common we see is how to calculate the cost of food.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s one approach from small-business expert Sam Ashe-Edmunds, who dishes out <a href="" title="link to food cost article">food-cost calculations</a> into nine steps to help ensure that you&rsquo;ll be able to keep a consistent menu, please customers and remain profitable. Here&rsquo;s what he has to say:</p> <p><strong>Step 1</strong>: Pick a dish to start and list all of its ingredients &ndash; even condiments and garnishes. You&rsquo;ll want to make sure that the portion for each dish is the same so that it always <em>costs</em> the same.</p> <p><strong>Step 2</strong>: Calculate the cost of each ingredient. Take a head of lettuce, for example. If it costs 75 cents and you get 30 leaves, the lettuce cost for a dish that includes <em>one</em> lettuce leaf would be about 2.5 cents. Ashe-Edmunds reminds us to include a proportion of any expenses directly related to purchasing foods, such as delivery fees or interest.</p> <p><strong>Step 3</strong>: Add up the costs of all the ingredients for the dish, but don&rsquo;t include costs for labor or actually serving the dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 4</strong>: To start figuring out if you&rsquo;ve priced the meal right, divide the menu price by the food cost to calculate the percentage of the price that comes from food. If you charge $10 for a meal for which food costs are $5, then your food cost is 50 percent.</p> <p><strong>Step</strong> <strong>5</strong>: Now, you&rsquo;ll want to determine overhead cost per meal, which includes everything <em>not </em>related to food that&rsquo;s required to run your restaurant. This includes things such as labor, rent, marketing, taxes, etc. So, consider what it will cost to run your restaurant on a daily basis &ndash; then divide that number by the number of customers you think you&rsquo;ll serve every day. If your overhead is $1,000 per day and you have 200 customers each day, your overhead <em>per person</em> is $5.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"><strong>TIP</strong>: Keep employee meals and food theft in this overhead figure as well, because they&rsquo;re not included as direct costs to serve a meal but can&rsquo;t be left out.</p> <p><strong>Step 6</strong>: Using your overhead costs as a guide, decide your ideal food-cost percentage. If you charge $10 for a meal and your overhead cost is $6, then your food costs can&rsquo;t be more than $4 to break even. Want a $2 profit per meal? Then you&rsquo;ll have to charge $12 for that particular dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 7</strong>: Take a look at the prices listed in your menu to figure out if they&rsquo;ll cover your overhead and food costs &ndash; and if you&rsquo;ll be able to make a profit. So if you&rsquo;ve calculated an ideal food-cost percentage of 20 percent and a dish uses $4 of ingredients, you can&rsquo;t sell that dish for any less than $20.</p> <p><strong>Step 8</strong>: You <em>may</em> need to calculate different food-cost percentages for different services or items, such as a breakfast menu versus dinner menu, because of different requirements &ndash; some less, some more &ndash; to satisfy each dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 9</strong>: Finally, examine your sales by item to determine if your food-cost percentages are adequate to keep your restaurant in business. If it turns out you&rsquo;re selling at primarily a low cost, you might need to raise prices (or lower food costs) to be profitable.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"><strong>TIP</strong>: Get a more complete picture of your food costs by checking out total food costs per service and dividing them by total sales. Then you won&rsquo;t have to calculate the actual cost of each menu item.</p> <p><a href="" title="link to food cost article">Ashe-Edmunds&rsquo;</a> offers just one approach to determining the cost of food. You can explore these additional resources from around the web for more insight:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="" title="link to How to Make Food Costs Projections For Your New Restaurant article">How to Make Food Costs Projections For Your New Restaurant</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to A Quick Guide on Pricing Restaurant Menu Items article">A Quick Guide on Pricing Restaurant Menu Items</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to Restaurant Operations: Food And Menu Pricing For Your Restaurant article">Restaurant Operations: Food And Menu Pricing For Your Restaurant</a></li> </ul> Small Business Cents Managing Starting Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:03:21 +0000 kmurray 807951 at Is The Green Franchising Scene Still Active? <p>Maybe my radar screen just needs a bit of a tune-up.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s because the word &ldquo;green&rdquo; hasn&rsquo;t been on it as of late.</p> <p>For a while, it seemed like <a href="" title="sba article on green business">everybody was talking about green</a>.</p> <p>Green energy. Green chemicals. And, green franchises.</p> <p>A few short years ago, I was talking and writing about what&rsquo;s turned out to be an entire new sector in franchising. I was very excited about the business possibilities. I launched a green franchise web directory. I helped a solar energy franchise get the word out about their opportunity. I tried to learn all I could about all things green. A good friend of mine in Florida, experienced with green energy and technology, brought me up-to-speed on the latest and greatest developments. I was seriously &ldquo;energized&rdquo; by all of it.</p> <p>Solar energy intrigued me, and still does. Before the recession, there was pretty much only one solar energy company offering franchises. Now there are several. I just don&rsquo;t hear about them much. What does that mean? Is interest in solar energy fading?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I wrote about green franchising <a href="" title="green business link">on</a> back in 2010. The article included a couple of different green franchise concepts. I think my enthusiasm showed back then.</p> <p>Included in that article was information about environmentally-friendly cleaning agents.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Residential and commercial cleaning services (of the franchise variety) are jumping on the green bandwagon. Some of them are starting to use cleaning products that are non-toxic, and that won&#39;t hurt our environment.&rdquo;</p> <p>If my memory serves me correctly, Maid Brigade, a franchisor who I had done some work for, was really the first residential cleaning franchise to get serious about the green movement. As a matter of fact, <a href="" title="link to maid brigade website green cleaning product use">they still are</a>*. But, I&rsquo;m not hearing about the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions as much as I used to. What&rsquo;s changed?</p> <p>Maybe the seemingly waning interest in green and the business opportunities that surround it have to do with <a href="" title="link to article about the recession">the great recession</a>*, and the necessary belt-tightening that went on during that time. Green products and services generally aren&rsquo;t cheap. Maybe our priorities have changed because of the hit we took when the economy took a turn for the worse.</p> <p>I have another theory. Maybe we&rsquo;ve all gotten so used to hearing about solar energy, wind energy, and safe chemicals, we are just well...used to hearing about green things. What do you think? Are green initiatives so commonplace now that we&rsquo;re just used to hearing about them?</p> <p>&nbsp;<strong>Green Franchises</strong></p> <p>There are plenty of opportunities you can choose from in the franchise world that are considered green. <a href="" title="link to green franchise opportunity examples">Here is an entire page of them</a>*. Just make sure they&rsquo;re truly green.</p> <p>A writer for Franchise Direct wrote about what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;greenwashing,&rdquo; which is when companies aggressively market themselves as green, but aren&rsquo;t.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;When selecting a green franchise, make sure they are truly green. A lot of &ldquo;greenwashing&rdquo; occurs as franchisors try to profit from the hype without putting forth the effort required to be truly green. In some cases a franchise spends their entire green budget on promoting the fact that they are a green company rather than using the money to implement green practices. Also be aware that some green &ldquo;awards&rdquo; displayed may not be legitimate.&rdquo;</p> <p>Make sure the green franchise you&rsquo;re interested in truly is green.</p> <p><strong>The Future Of Green Franchising</strong></p> <p><a href="" title=" link to green biz info">Businesses that offer and use green products and services</a> are going to win in the long-run. As more people get educated about the importance of clean and sustainable energy, more of them are going to demand it in their everyday lives. There are franchise businesses out there right now that provide it. One day there may even be franchises that sell and install wind farms. The opportunities are endless.</p> <p>In the not too distant future, almost all of the cleaning agents we use around our homes and offices will be free of damaging toxins. Franchises in the residential and commercial cleaning sectors that aren&rsquo;t using green chemicals will have to&hellip;again because of consumer demand.</p> <p>Green franchising isn&rsquo;t going away. The sector just needs to be re-energized a bit.</p> <p>*Non U.S. Government links</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> The Industry Word Starting Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:01:42 +0000 FranchiseKing 807591 at How to Buy an Existing Business <p>Are you ready to enter the business world but nervous about starting from scratch? You may be considering buying an existing business, which certainly has its perks when compared to establishing your own, brand-new operation. But there&rsquo;s still plenty to keep in mind, and success isn&rsquo;t guaranteed by simply writing a check and getting the keys. Here are a few tips to help you <a href="" title="link to information about buying an existing business">do your due diligence as you explore buying a business</a>.</p> <p><strong>Considering the pros and cons</strong></p> <p>There are many favorable aspects to buying an existing business such as an existing customer base, a team of employees and drastic reduction in startup costs. You may be able to jump start your cash flow immediately because of existing inventory and receivables.</p> <p>But there are also some downsides to buying an existing business. Purchasing cost may be much higher than the cost of starting a new business exactly <em>because</em> the initial business concept, customer base, brand and other fundamental work has already been done. Also, be aware of hidden problems associated with the business (like debts the business is owed that you may not be able to collect).</p> <p><strong>Choosing a business</strong></p> <p>There are many different types of businesses to buy. To narrow down the list of potential businesses you might be considering, ask yourself:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>What are my interests?</strong> If you have absolutely no idea what business you want to invest in, first eliminate businesses that are of no interest to you.</li> <li> <strong>What are my talents?</strong> Being honest about your skills and experience can help you eliminate unrealistic business ventures.</li> <li> <strong>What are my conditions for a business?</strong> Consider if a business has a condition that is unfavorable to you, such as location and time commitment.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Doing your research </strong></p> <p>Once you have found a business that you would like to buy, it is important to conduct a thorough, objective investigation and to <a href="" title="link to SCORE article about how to value a business">determine a fair and equitable price for the sale of the business</a>. You&rsquo;ll want to examine information such as tax returns, financial statements, employee files, contracts, leases and any <a href="" title="link to list of important documents">other important documents</a> related to the business.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>TIP</strong>: You should enlist a qualified attorney to help review the legal and organizational documents of the business you are planning to purchase. Also, an accountant can help with a thorough evaluation of the financial condition of the business.</p> <p><strong>Buying a business</strong></p> <p>When you&rsquo;ve decided to move forward with buying a business, the sales agreement is the key document you&rsquo;ll need to finalize the purchase. This agreement defines everything that you intend to purchase including business assets, customer lists, intellectual property and goodwill. If you do not have a lawyer to help you draft the terms of the sale, you should at least have one review the agreement before you sign it.</p> <p><strong>Closing on a business</strong></p> <p>The closing is the final step in the process of buying a business. Once again, you should have legal counsel available to review all documentation necessary for the business transfer. This page details <a href="" title="items you should address during your closing">items you should address during your closing</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you think buying an exiting business could be the right path for you, there&rsquo;s a lot of information available to help you succeed, including this <a href="" title="link to">article from</a> and <a href="" title="link to">additional guidance from</a>.</p> Business Law Advisor Starting Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:57:18 +0000 kmurray 807581 at Global Accelerator Network and SBA co-host Accelerator Demo Day in Austin and Unveil Competition <p>Tuesday, in downtown Austin, TX and coinciding with the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) hosted an Accelerator Demo Day at the Capital Factory.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">To kick off the event, Pravina Raghavan, Deputy Associate Administrator in the Office of Investment and Innovation at the SBA, announced that the agency will be running a $2.5m contest for accelerators to compete with each other for cash awards. The cash awarded to contest winners is intended to assist accelerators in funding their operations and focus on opportunities for growth.&nbsp; The overall goal of the competition is to award capital to the best in class models focused on strengthening the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystems nationwide.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">This event marked the first of three events that SBA and GAN plan to co-host in 2014. GAN is a worldwide network of accelerators that provides members with access to a large network and mentorship opportunities. On a list of the top 15 accelerators in the country put out by Yael Hochberg at MIT and other experts, 10 out of the 15 are members of the GAN. The event in Austin, and the others to come, provide opportunities for accelerators to give brief pitches on their models to a room full of accelerators, aspiring accelerators, startups, entrepreneurs and potential funders.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">At our first event, 13 accelerators gave 5 minute pitches. We heard from accelerators based in Detroit, Cleveland, Memphis and Houston (to name a few). They also were representative of several sectors ranging from film, to energy, to biotechnology. All are focused on long term support of startups and on creating jobs to strengthen their communities. Pitches were followed by networking which was possibly the most fruitful part of the day.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">We look forward to more successful Demo Days in the coming months, and stay tuned for more details on the competition.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12px;">Please email </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> with any questions.</span></p> Open For Business SBA News and Views Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:25:22 +0000 Javier.Saade 806161 at March is Red Cross Month- Learn How to Prepare Your Business in the Case of an Emergency <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Following a tradition begun by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943, </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">President Barack Obama has proclaimed March</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> as American Red Cross Month.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Since July 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration has supported a partnership with the </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">American Red Cross</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, participating in events to promote the importance of disaster preparedness for individuals and businesses.&nbsp; Getting the word out about the Red Cross </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">Ready Rating program</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> has been a focus of the American Red Cross/SBA relationship.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Ready Rating is a free, self-paced, web-based membership program that helps a business measure its ability to deal with emergencies.&nbsp; All you have to do is answer the questions, based on what you know about your company and its operations, and Ready Rating gives customized feedback on how to start or improve your business continuity planning.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">A recent </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">report by the Small Business Majority</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> and the American Sustainable Business Council estimates the average cost of downtime from small businesses affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day.&nbsp; Since small businesses don&rsquo;t have the resources of large corporations, it&rsquo;s a good idea to build a resilient organization by creating a solid disaster preparedness plan.&nbsp; And Ready Rating is a great, easy-to-use emergency planning tool.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">At the Ready Rating site (</span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;"></a><span style="font-size: 12px;">), you can:</span></p> <ul> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Complete an assessment to measure the overall preparedness level of your business</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Create a custom-made emergency plan for your organization</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Access tools to help you complete a hazard vulnerable assessment</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Get tips on implementing your emergency response plan</li> <li style="margin-left: 38.55pt;"> Download the Free First-Aid app</li> </ul> <p>Red Cross Month is a good time to take a step to protect your employees, customers and your community by joining Ready Rating, becoming an organization that&rsquo;s prepared to save both lives and livelihoods.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters, the SBA provides recovery assistance in the form of low-interest, direct loans to businesses of all sizes, homeowners, renters, and private non-profit organizations.&nbsp; Visit the </span><a href="" style="font-size: 12px;">website</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> for more information about SBA&rsquo;s disaster loan program.</span></p> Open For Business Emergency Planning SBA News and Views Wed, 12 Mar 2014 17:36:30 +0000 James Rivera 805871 at Is Bad Credit Stopping You from Getting Business Loans? <p>In a recent <a href=";utm_campaign=082412+AM&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank" title="report" type="report">report</a>, over 63% of business owners attempting to find funding say they most often targeted banks. Unfortunately, the success among these respondents of actually getting a business loan was a low 27%. &nbsp;</p> <p>However, recent news suggest small business owners considered creditworthy are discovering it to be easier to get business loans from traditional banks. This is good news for the economy since access to funding for small businesses is a part of job and economic growth.</p> <p>Unfortunately, bad credit plagues a large percentage of small business owners as a result of the financial crisis several years back. The fact remains that it&rsquo;s harder for smaller businesses &shy;&ndash; even with stellar credit ratings &shy;&ndash; to get traditional bank loans than it is for larger businesses.</p> <p>Access to capital is the single largest roadblock most business owners face when growing their business. With a <strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="unsecured business loan info">business loan</a></strong>, these businesses can hire new employees, purchase additional inventory, buy or upgrade equipment and increase their marketing efforts.</p> <p>So what can a business owner do if bad credit is preventing them from getting a business loan?</p> <p>The good news is there are alternative funding programs and solutions providing business owners the opportunity to obtain a business loan or line of credit regardless of having bad personal credit. Instead, other factors are taken into consideration such as bank deposit history, credit card sales, credit partners and other data sources.</p> <p>Here are several factors that can get you a business loan regardless of having bad credit:</p> <p><strong>Bank deposits </strong>&ndash; A business with regular bank deposits can put its cash flow to work with <strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="revenue based loan info">revenue-based loans</a></strong>. This program is based on the deposits going into the business bank account on a monthly basis. Typically, a business can obtain a business loan equal to 10% of its annual gross deposits regardless of having bad credit. Another benefit of this program is the time it takes to get funded, which is approximately 7 business days.</p> <p>Keep in mind the loan term can be as long as 18 months with this program, with rates slightly higher than a traditional bank rate. It requires no collateral, financials or tax returns. Repayments are made in small increments every day via ACH from the business bank account.</p> <p><strong>Credit card sales</strong> &ndash; This type of funding program, known as a merchant cash advance, provides businesses with upfront cash in exchange for a portion of future credit card sales. For businesses that have regular monthly credit card sales but struggle with bad personal credit, a merchant cash advance may be a viable option.</p> <p>However, be very selective on what merchant cash advance provider you select. Some providers can cost as high as 38% while others can be as low as 12%. In addition, when it comes to repayment, the majority of merchant cash providers take a fixed percentage of your daily credit card receipt volume until the advance you took is paid back. Other <strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business merchant cash advance info">business cash advance providers</a></strong> may offer a fixed monthly installment payment for its repayment method.</p> <p><strong>Credit Partner </strong>&ndash; Using a business partner(s) as a credit partner for obtaining lines of credit in the form of <strong><a href="" target="_blank" title="sba blog" type="business credit card info">business credit cards</a></strong> can be a viable solution to overcome a personal credit challenge. A business partner who has strong credit scores is the best place to look. You may also want to consider someone who may be interested in participating in your business as a potential credit partner.</p> <p>This method does bring risk to the credit partner because they are cosigning with the business to obtain funding. However, it&rsquo;s important to note the type of unsecured business credit cards I am referring to will not appear on the personal credit reports of the cosigner unless they go into default.</p> <p>There are many other types of funding programs that offer small business owners the opportunity to get business loans or access to cash without having perfect credit or subjecting themselves to all the rigorous analysis, cumbersome paperwork, lengthy process and aggravating timelines that comes with a traditional business loan. &nbsp;</p> The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:24:42 +0000 Marco Carbajo 805661 at Is There a Form for That? An Introduction to Commonly Used Exporting Forms for Your Small Business <p>If you&rsquo;re a small business owner interested in exporting &ndash; or are already navigating the international arena &ndash; you know there&rsquo;s a lot to get organized. The resources available from <a href="" title="link to"></a> can help you with all the stages, from training and market research to information about financing. also offers a wealth of information about <a href="" title="link to documents information">documents that are used in exporting</a>. Here&rsquo;s a rundown of a few of the most common.</p> <p><strong>Common Export Documents</strong></p> <p><em>Commercial Invoice</em>: A commercial invoice is a bill for the goods from the seller to the buyer. Governments often use them to determine the true value of goods when assessing customs duties.</p> <p><em>Export Packing List</em>: An export packing list features much more detail than a standard domestic packing list. It lists the seller, buyer, shipper, invoice number, shipment date and more. It also itemizes quantity, description, type of package (such as a box or crate), the weight and even more details.</p> <p><em>Pro Forma Invoice</em>: An exporter prepares a pro forma invoice before shipping the goods. It lets the buyer know the goods to be sent, their value and other key information. It also can be used as an offering of sale or price quote.</p> <p><strong>Transportation Documents</strong></p> <p><a href="" title="link to airway bill information"><em>Airway Bill</em></a>: Airway bills are required for any airfreight shipments and are shipper-specific. For example, USPS, Fed-Ex, UPS, etc. have individual airway bills</p> <p><a href="" title="link to bill of lading information"><em>Bill of Lading</em></a>: A bill of lading is a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier. A straight bill of lading is non-negotiable. A second, negotiable type is known as a shipper&#39;s order bill of lading. This can be bought, sold or traded while the goods are in transit. The customer <a href="" title="link to Bill of Lading information">usually needs an original as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.</a></p> <p><em><a href="" title="link to EEI information">Electronic Export Information (EEI</a></em>): This is the most common of all export control documents. It&rsquo;s required for shipments above $2,500 and for shipments of any value requiring an export license. It has to be electronically filed via the <u>AES Direct</u> online system, which is a free service from Census and Customs. If you&rsquo;re shipping to Canada, you don&rsquo;t need an EEI unless an export license is required.</p> <p><strong>Export Compliance</strong></p> <p><a href="" title="link to Export Licenses information"><em>Export Licenses</em></a>: An export license is a government document that authorizes the export of specific goods in specific quantities to a particular destination. Some countries require an export license for most or all exports; others require it only under special circumstances.</p> <p><strong>Certificates Of Origin </strong></p> <p><em>Generic Certificate of Origin</em>: Some countries require a Certificate of Origin (CO) for either all or just certain products. In many cases, a statement of origin printed on company letterhead is sufficient, although some countries require that it be notarized. You should verify if a CO is required with the buyer, an experienced shipper/freight forwarder or the Trade Information Center.</p> <p>Check out <a href="" title="link to"> </a>&nbsp;for more information about these and more, including documents required for shipping specific products and destination-specific requirements. You can also visit <a href="" title="link to BusinessUSA exporting information">Business USA&rsquo;s Exporting Portal</a> for additional resources.</p> <p> <strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="" title="link to A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 – Getting Started blog post">A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 1 &ndash; Getting Started</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 2 – Getting Financing blog post">A Small Business Guide to Exporting: Part 2 &ndash; Getting Financing</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to Small Business Exporting – Insights from National Small Business Week 2013 blog post">Small Business Exporting &ndash; Insights from National Small Business Week 2013</a></li> <li> <a href="" title="link to 6 Steps to Assess Your Small Business’ Readiness to Export blog post">6 Steps to Assess Your Small Business&rsquo; Readiness to Export</a></li> </ul> Small Business Matters International Mon, 10 Mar 2014 12:13:53 +0000 kmurray 805181 at