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What is the Best Small Business Credit Card for Establishing Creditworthiness?

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: March 14, 2013

With fast access to cash, convenience and all the perks that come along with it, a business credit card is a standard tool used by business owners.

But did you know that less than 50% of the credit cards obtained by business owners nationwide are actually in the company’s name?

It’s a shocking reality, to say the least, but the good news is there are plenty of business credit cards that cater to savvy business owners like you who understand the importance of establishing business credit.

The majority of cards one can obtain for a business also have a great deal of benefits such as cash back rewards, rewards points, travel rewards and detailed reports.

Those aiming to strengthen the credit of a business must understand that it’s vital to obtain cards that report payment activity to a business credit agency.

When applying for credit, one of the ways to identify a non-reporting issuer is by what’s required on the application. If all that is required is to supply personal information, a social security number and business name, then this card issuer in most cases will solely report to a consumer credit agency.

Take it a step further and simply read the disclosure section on the application. It will read something like, ‘I Authorize the receipt and exchange of credit information on the business signer, including the exchange of information between XYZ credit card issuer and its affiliates.’

Nowhere here does it disclose that the ‘Business’ will be included in the receipt and exchange of credit information it just states the business signer. (That’s you!)

If this is the case, then be aware that you will be personally liable for all debt your company incurs on this card and all payments and any revolving debt will be reported to a consumer credit agency. This type of business credit card is nothing more than a glorified personal credit card with your company name on it.

Now don’t get discouraged, because there are cards that may require a personal credit check. But the good news is payment activity is reported to both consumer and business credit reporting agencies.

While credit cards that fall right into this category may not be my first recommendation, at least it helps establish company creditworthiness because it reports to several business credit agencies.

The downfall is that your company’s revolving credit card debt is still reporting on your consumer credit reports, resulting in a negative impact on your personal credit scores.

Ideally, the best small business credit card is one that reports only to business credit reports. Thankfully, there are issuers offering these types of cards despite the challenges in the economy.

But before you get too excited, know that most issuers will require a personal and business credit check. The most important thing to remember with these cards only your business credit reports will reflect your revolving debt, therefore protecting your personal credit scores.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

5 Tips for Hiring and Empowering Great Employees

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 14, 2013 Updated: September 21, 2016

Hiring employees is probably the most important decision any entrepreneur will ever make. But relinquishing some of the responsibility of your business to others is tough.

The key to getting it right is finding employees with the right value alignment and attitude (often easier said than done). Of course, you need to work at it too. Once you’ve built your team, learning to let go and empower employees is critical if you want focus on growing your business.

These steps are explored in one of SBA’s Learning Center videos–Hiring and Developing Employees—which features insights and tips from successful small business owners who’ve struggled with many of these issues and challenges themselves.

Here are five tips they suggest for growing your business through hiring and developing great employees:

Learn How to Let Go

As you start a business, you’ll likely be wearing many hats. But if your business is going to grow, then learning to let go is critical: “You are a leader for the business,” explains Eileen Spitalny, co-founder of Fairytale Brownies, a $10 million a year online and mail-order baking business headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. “In the beginning, we did bake the brownies; we did wash the pans. But you need to trust people, give them parameters, let them learn on their own, give them feedback and be there as their mentor, not over their shoulder. This is our philosophy.”

Both Spitalny and co-founder David Kravetz acknowledge that letting go didn’t come easy for them: “Looking back, we took too long to let go, and now we realize our team members are going to grow with the more responsibility we give them.” Fairytale Brownies encourages its employees to be proactive in their feedback, offering incentives such as movie tickets in return for suggestions on how they can better run the business.

Encourage Decision-Making Among Employees

Part of learning how to let go is looking for ways to empower your employees and give them decision-making authority. But how much trust can you instill in them without feeling the need to constantly monitor performance or simply “be there” for them?

After reading a self-help book on management skills, Fairytale Brownies were inspired to launch a “$100 Empowerment Policy.” This simple solution gives any team member the authority to spend up to $100 of company money to solve a customer problem without having to ask. “It’s taken a long time to get them to actually give up the money and a lot of times we’ll have to remind them,” explains David Kravetx, “Ninety-five percent of the problems can be solved with $100, whether it’s re-shipping a gift or refunding…and they don’t have to come to me to ask...it’s money well-spent for us.”

Hire the Right Values and Attitude and the Rest Will Take Care of Itself

For Steve Bell, owner of Pacific Cabinets, a multimillion dollar Washington state cabinet business, alignment of values and the right attitude is more important than experience. “If people have the same core values that we have—if they have a great attitude…if they have the ability to learn—then we can hire them and teach them anything they need to know in the business.”

For tips on finding a good match, read: 4 Interview Questions That Get to the Heart of a Candidate’s Potential.

Consider a Trial Employment Period

A new-hire trial period is another option that service-based businesses might consider to ensure a good match. Holly DiTallo, a trainer and co-owner at Scottsdale Education Center in Arizona, uses a two-week trial program to assess new educational contractors, “that’s just about long enough for us to be able to say come back another time or we don’t really think you’re the right fit.”

Fire Quickly if Things Aren’t Working Out

It goes without saying that your goal is to hire great people, but Fairytale Brownies—like many small business owners—learned some tough lessons with problem employees. “We would spend sometimes a year or longer living with an employee who we knew deep down wasn’t working out. We tried to change their personality and we learned that you can teach skills but if someone’s not working out, we will let them go a lot faster than we did at the beginning,” explains owner, David Kravetz.

What hiring challenges has your business encountered? How have you overcome these? Leave a comment below!

Don’t forget to visit the SBA Learning Center for more free self-paced online training courses, quick videos, web chats and more to help small business owners explore and learn about the many aspects of business ownership.

Related Article

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

5 Tips for Ensuring Your Blog Doesn’t Get You into Legal Trouble

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 13, 2013 Updated: September 27, 2016

More and more small companies are using blogging to promote their business. In fact, in 2012, “small business” was one of the fastest growing categories in Technorati, a global blog search engine, with 20 percent growth that year alone (source: Small Business Blogging Proved Effective for the Year 2012 by Rahul Manekari).

Why? Blogs are a great tool for connecting with your customers and sharing your expertise. They also improve your company’s search engine rankings. Search engines love fresh, relevant and local content—and blogs deliver on this need.

While you’re busy wondering what you should be writing about (the articles at the end of this blog offer tips on that), it’s important to assess any potential legal risks you might be taking. Think about it: many bloggers combine original content that they’ve written with quotes, references and even ideas from other bloggers. But at what point does this become plagiarism or an infringement of copyright? Likewise, if you’re planning on showcasing customer quotes or testimonials in your blogs, is this even legal?

Here are five tips for ensuring you stay out of legal trouble as you write your business blog!

Don’t Get Slammed for Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is the number one reason that bloggers get into trouble. Never copy or paste the content of others, whether it’s words, images, video or music, unless you have written permission to do so. For a deeper dive into this topic (in plain English) read: Can You Use or Reproduce the Work of Others on Your Website or Blog?

If you do reference the work or opinion of others, give them credit (you can see an example in the opening paragraph of this blog).

Don’t Bash the Competition

Blogging is about building community and trust, and helping customers feel good about doing business with you. It’s not a vehicle for bashing the competition, price comparisons, or other marketing tactics. Blog writing lends itself to a conversational voice, so slamming the completion can often come across as “catty” and unprofessional. That’s not to say you can’t talk about your products or business in the context of the competition, but focus on how you are different (how your products are made, how people use them, or how to get more out of them)—not how bad/poor/expensive the competitive marketplace is. 

Be Careful When Mentioning Customers by Name

A great way to differentiate yourself is to have customers share their experiences of doing business with you. A nice quote or interview with a satisfied customer would make for a great blog topic. But wait, did you know you must have written permission from a customer before you can use their name or endorsement? The Federal Trade Commission enforces regulations that govern how customer endorsements are used in marketing materials. For a few quick pointers on how to abide by these regulations, plus tips on using customer testimonials in your marketing materials or blogs read:  “Great Service, Will Use Again”: How to Use Customer Testimonials to Market Your Business.

Be Truthful About Any Claims You Make About Your Business

The FTC has clear guidelines on what constitutes “truth in advertising” or “misleading claims”. So be sure that any claims you make about your business or its products and services are correct and can be backed up. This is especially true if you are sharing blogging duty with other employees. If you’re not sure when you might be crossing the line in praise of your products, check out the rules.  More info here: How Lawful Are Your Small Business’ Advertising Claims? – Tips for Getting it Right.

Understand Third Party Blog Terms of Service

If you use a third party blog tool to host your blog, familiarize yourself with its terms of service. For example, who has intellectual property rights for the content you post and what procedures are in place if you believe your intellectual property has been violated? How can that third party use that content? Many blogging sites have terms of service that grant that party a license to host, store, reproduce, modify, publicly display and distribute your content. If this is of concern, then you may want to consider hosting your blog on your own website.

Related Articles

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

The Social Storefront – How to Sell Your Products and Services on Facebook

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 11, 2013 Updated: March 11, 2013

Have you ever considered extending your small business storefront to Facebook?

According to The New York Times, small retailers are having more success than their larger counterparts when it comes to selling socially with Facebook storefronts proving to be a successful outlet for small businesses with less than $100,000 in revenue and fewer than 10 employees.

Yet Facebook storefronts present business owners with a number of challenges. For example, if you have a business page on Facebook, you do not own it; Facebook does, and as such, it is free to change the look, feel, security and functionality of your page when it sees fit. Furthermore, many consumers may be reticent about conducting financial transactions on social media.

If your small business is interested in exploring this new revenue stream, here are some tips to help you get started building your social storefront:

1. Build Your Facebook Storefront

Facebook storefronts are wholly independent of Facebook and are enabled by third party apps and services from companies such as Ecwid, BigCommerce’s SocialShop application and VendorShop Social. Alternatively, you can also have an app developer build you a custom storefront.  

These apps offer a number of social shopping features that you can add to your Facebook business page. Some are free, with options to upgrade for increased functionality, while others charge a low monthly subscription fee. (Note: The Facebook store provider market is an emerging one with new start-ups popping up regularly. Furthermore, established players are increasingly targeted for acquisition. So do your due diligence on this one. Look for providers with a good customer service track record and try not to get locked into time-bound contracts.)

Whichever app you choose, getting started is quite easy. Once your app is installed, you can add product listings; a welcome page to showcase certain products and promotions; a shopping cart; and a variety of payment options such as PayPal. Some apps also include tools to promote your storefront to your fans, via email, your blog or website. 

2. Personalize Your Storefront

Next, personalize your storefront to reflect your brand and appeal to the fans and customers you are hoping to engage with and sell to. Think about adding a human element to your banner image—this will help connect you with your potential buyers. To maximize your Facebook sales, look for ways to engage and connect—post tips that relate to your industry; share articles, images and blogs that might be of interest; and have a dialogue with your fans. Above all, inject some personality into your page—this is a huge differentiator for small businesses, so use it!

The New York Times also suggests pinning and tagging status updates and photos to attract fans and keep your page dynamic. For example, you could run a contest that encourages customers to tag your products in the photos they post on their Facebook page. In doing so, you’ll get free visibility on that person’s wall for all their friends and followers to see. You can also use the pin feature to highlight a product of the week or a special discount.

3. Be Social, Build a Community

Make your page an active one—treat it as you would your own bricks and mortar store. Meet and greet fans, and engage with them. Encourage them to post by asking open-ended questions in your status updates; comment on and like the interaction that follows.

You can also grow your community outside the confines of our own page. For example, follow business pages that relate to your products, industry or neighborhood and interact with folks on those pages (without being overly promotional). For example, if you own a retail store on Main Street, look around and find out who else is on Facebook—your local coffee shop, library, community newspaper? Give them a like (using your business page profile) and join in the conversation with other business owners and their customers. Your business will appear on their wall and help increase your visibility and likeability!

4. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

It’s unlikely that Facebook will ever be your only sales channel. So test the waters before you set up your store and ask your fans and customers if they’d be interested in buying from you via Facebook. Then, once you are up and running, don’t ignore your website or retail location. Small businesses are known to get as much as 15-30 percent of their sales from Facebook, but remember that not everyone is on Facebook, and not all are comfortable doing business there.

5. More Reading

For some real-world examples of how small businesses are using Facebook storefronts, check out this article from The New York Times: Small Retailers Open Up Storefronts on Facebook Pages.

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Conozca a Angelique Adjutant, Oficial de Relaciones Públicas en la Oficina de Distrito de Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes

By AshleyC
Published: March 7, 2013 Updated: October 28, 2013

Angelique Adjutant, Public Affairs SpecialistCuando un amigo o familiar te pregunta qué haces para ayudar a las pequeñas empresas, ¿qué les dices?

Les digo que soy responsable de fortalecer la presencia de SBA en la comunidad, para que otros puedan realizar sus sueños de independencia económica, de crear empleos y proveer para miles de familias.  La SBA tiene una misión extraordinaria que siempre respaldaré.

 

De todas las cosas que la SBA hace para las pequeñas empresas, ¿cuál es tu favorita?

Tendría que ser la creación de oportunidades. Oportunidades de aprendizaje, mejoramiento, crecimiento y éxito para los pequeños empresarios.

¿Existe una “historia de éxito” de alguna pequeña empresa en particular que te venga a la mente cuando piensas cómo la SBA ayuda a las personas?

Me vienen a la mente muchos empresarios exitosos, y me siento afortunada de haber podido conocerles y contar sus historias.  Pero si tuviera que escoger sólo una, sería la de Jatniel Vázquez, fundador y presidente de Jayvee Air Conditioning en Bayamón, Puerto Rico.  De orígenes humildes, hoy Jatniel es dueño de una exitosa empresa dedicada a sistemas de aire acondicionado industriales y comerciales que genera más de $2 millones en ventas anuales; emplea a más de 15 personas, le paga la carrera de Ingeniería a su hermana, emplea a miembros de su familia y le compró a su madre la casa de sus sueños.  ¡Y todo eso antes de cumplir 30 años!  Jatniel se benefició de los programas de préstamos garantizados de SBA para expandir su negocio y crear empleos.

¿Tienes algún consejo para empresarios y dueños de pequeñas empresas en general?

Empieza pequeño pero siempre piensa en grande.

¿Algo más que desees añadir?

Sí. Como en todo lo demás, la perseverancia es crítica en el alcance de los sueños de cualquier persona. Para citar a Winston Churchill, “nunca te des por vencido, nunca, jamás”.

 

About the Author:

Women Business Owners – How to Get the Start-Up Boost You Need with Accelerator and Mentoring Programs

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 7, 2013

Start-up accelerator programs are popping up all over the country offering industry-focused programs and support for a variety of business owners. Although traditionally focused on high-tech businesses, accelerators now serve a variety of entrepreneurial needs, including those of women, through programs that facilitate mentoring and education, access to investors, and networking opportunities.

Take for example The Women’s Small Business Accelerator of Central Ohio, a nonprofit organization launched last year, with a mission to support women as they launch and grow small and micro businesses. The accelerator, located at 403-409 W. Main Street in Westerville, is just over 6,000 square feet of co-working space divided into four suites, two conference rooms, two kitchens, a creative space, and a training space that accelerator participants can lease at a reduced rate. The accelerator offers approximately 35 office spaces, including private offices and cubicles, available to women-business owners at or below competitive market rates (as low as $225 per month).

To further assist women small business owners, the accelerator offers peer-to-peer support, mentoring, and education (on topics such as writing a business plan with the final goal to secure funding).

The Attraction of Business Accelerators to Start-Ups

A growing segment of the entrepreneurial community, business accelerators clearly offer start-ups many benefits. Yes, the potential access to investors and financing is a huge draw, but for many business owners the attraction comes in the access to mentoring and guidance from a group of experts that incubators or accelerators can provide.

Many of the programs offered are structured and offer a clear path in support of strategic business success. Programs such as The Women’s Small Business Accelerator of Central Ohio typically include educational sessions and interactive monthly roundtables facilitated by small business experts where business owners get to brainstorm real-business challenges and scenarios.

Choosing the Right Accelerators for Your Business

It’s important to screen any potential accelerator. Even though the application process can be quite rigorous, do your due diligence first. Who sponsors the group? Can they really bring experts and investors to the table? Research online and talk to previous participants. Have any of them received the funding they needed? Is the accelerator in the right vertical or industry that matters to your business?

Other Sources of Mentoring and Local Assistance for Women Business Owners

There are several alternatives to business incubator or accelerator programs that women business owners can tap. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are one option. Located nationwide, WBCs provide women entrepreneurs with in-person assistance and business counseling programs that can help them start and grow successful businesses. WBCs offer guidance and training on a variety of topics, including business planning and management, marketing, and loan advice.

If you think you need the services of a hands-on expert, take a look at the mentoring and counseling services offered by SCORE. With a network of over 13,000 volunteers (all of whom have business management and ownership experience), SCORE provides free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice to startups and small business owners nationwide. SCORE mentors can help with specific functional advice such as marketing, accounting, and business planning or overall business guidance.

Additional Resources

For more resources, guides and tools to help women-owned small businesses to start up, operate and grow, check out SBA’s Women-Owned Business Guide.

Related Articles

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Should Former Independent Business Owners Look At Franchise Ownership?

By FranchiseKing, Guest Blogger
Published: March 6, 2013 Updated: September 23, 2016

Sometimes, the best-laid plans don’t pan out.

Take business ownership, for instance. Think about how many businesses are started and closed in the US every year. Not every business makes it. But, every small business owner wants to make it. Why else would someone risk their money, and commit the time and energy needed to be their own boss?

Working For Yourself

I’ve been my own boss since 2001. I call the shots. I decide my marketing budget. I decide how much of a salary I take out of my business. I choose when to take a vacation. I choose my days off. I have total freedom and control.* It is as fantastic as it sounds. I don’t plan on giving it up.

A few years ago, a business attorney referred someone to me who was interested in franchise ownership. I contacted the gentleman, and our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi, Jack! I’m returning your phone call from yesterday. The message you left on my voicemail said that you were referred to me because you were thinking of looking at franchise opportunities.”

Jack: “Yes, Joel. An attorney friend of mine knows of you, and he told me to call you for information and advice.”

Me: “Great. So, why are you thinking about looking into franchise ownership?”

Jack: “I had a pretty successful business for 10 years, but I recently had to shut it down. It turns out that the CFO I hired messed up the books big time, and I had to liquidate everything. I owned several retail stores. I’m kind of at a crossroads here. I’m hoping that you can help me find a good franchise.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that you lost your business. This must be a pretty rough time for you.”

Jack: “It is. I was doing pretty well, too. Put my kids through college, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I’d like to find another business. I was thinking about a franchise.”

Me: “Well Jack, I’d be happy to work with you, but here’s my fear: you’ve been an independent small business owner already. You’ve been the guy running the show, right?”

Jack: “Correct. I was the boss. I made the rules. But, I have to tell you; I think that it would be really hard for me to work for someone else…you know, go out and get a job.”

Me: “I totally understand. I can see where you’re coming from.”

Jack: “Yep. No ‘job’ for me, thank you very much.” 

Me: “Well, you do know that if you buy a franchise you’ll have to follow someone else’s system. In franchising, there are a lot of restrictions…a lot of rules, and I’m a bit concerned that some of them may be kind of tough for you to adhere to since you’ve been the one making the rules for the past several years.”

Jack: “Joel, let me share something with you; I’m almost 60 years old. I’m probably not going to be able to find a good job, for what I’d need to be paid. It’s just not realistic. If I were to find a good franchise to own, I really would have no choice but to follow their system. And, I know I could do it, Joel.”

Jack Did It

After our conversation, I was able to spend time on the phone with Jack. He was able to convince me that he would adapt quite well to a franchise business. He spoke from the heart, and I felt that he was really sincere about following someone else’s system.

Jack and I were able to come up with some ideas, and he ended up buying a B2B franchise.* He was even able to get his sons involved, and they eventually took over the business.

It’s a great story, and I’m glad that things worked out for them. But, should all former independent small business owners look into franchise ownership?

My answer is no, and it’s because of the rules.

Transitioning from rule-maker to rule-follower is a tough one. It’s one of those things that sound pretty good on the surface…during the planning stage, but when reality sets in, it may not be a pretty picture.

Independent small business owners that have been around for a while-and that have a reasonable track record of success, know a lot about business. They may have some great ideas…ones that the executive team may not want to hear.

There’s a real potential that egos could collide, and I haven’t seen that many good things come of situations like that.

If you’re a former independent small business owner, and you’re thinking of going the franchise route this time, make sure that you’re really ready to use someone else’s business system.

If you can do that, you may end up like Jack.    

*Non US Government Links

About the Author:

FranchiseKing
Joel Libava

Guest Blogger

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become a Franchise Owner! and recently launched Franchise Business University.

How Minimum Advertised Pricing Impacts Your Retail or Online Store’s Marketing Efforts

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 6, 2013 Updated: March 6, 2013

If you run an online or retail business, did you know that you might be prohibited from advertising a manufacturer’s products below a certain minimum price?

Minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies are particularly critical to manufacturers who sell their products for online resale, given the ease at which consumers can now conduct online and mobile price comparisons. MAP policies are also established to help small businesses compete and sell on service and value, rather than entering into a price war with cost-cutting big box stores.

But how legally enforceable are these minimum advertised pricing policies and, as a small business owner, is there a way to get around them in your sales and marketing practices?

The Truth About Minimum Advertised Pricing

Minimum advertised pricing only relates to “advertised” pricing and is perfectly legal under U.S. antitrust statutes. So, essentially, you are limited to advertising MAP-protected products at a certain price, but you can sell these products at any price you choose (often guided by the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price or MSRP).

What Does this Mean for Online Businesses?

Under typical MAP agreements, online retailers can’t “display” any prices that fall below the MAP price. But which part of an online store actually represents advertising display space has caused quite a bit of controversy. For example, say a product is listed on a site for $10. Once a coupon code or other incentive is applied, the actual shopping cart price could come down to $8. Is that still considered “advertising” since a transaction technically hasn’t yet occurred, or is it a commitment to buy and outside the scope of a MAP agreement?

The difference between an advertised price and an actual price that you may be charged has come under scrutiny by U.S. Circuit Courts and FTC rulings, which tend to agree that an actual price displayed in a secure/encrypted shopping cart isn’t subject to MAP – because it’s technically not advertising space, but represents an actual storefront. So in an online world, an actual price may legally end up being a lot lower than the MAP-required advertised price.

In fact, manufacturers are often advised to focus their MAP policies on advertised prices in paid search ads, shopping comparison ads, and internet landing pages but not in shopping carts or other point of sale interfaces.

Look for Alternative Ways to Discount

While it’s not always advisable to lead with price in your marketing efforts, look for other ways to attract customers without breaking any MAP agreements. For example, many manufacturers are okay with your offering free shipping, coupon codes, or a “buy-one-get-one at a discount,” if MAP doesn’t protect that other item. Essentially, as long as the dollar value of the MAP-protected product isn’t reduced, then you are okay. Be careful with coupon codes. It’s safer to advertise the coupon—not the product that it can be applied against—so as not to imply that you are advertising the MAP item at a reduced price. Instead, be clear about what items are excluded from any coupon code promotion.

The Bottom Line

If you are unsure about how your online advertising and marketing practices may border on breaking any MAP agreement you have with a manufacturer, talk to them or consult a legal attorney. Manufacturers do monitor their dealers for potential violations and the law is constantly in flux on this one, so do your due diligence.

For more information about the legality of MAP policies, check out the Federal Trade Commission Guide to Antitrust Laws.

 

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Meet Angelique Adjutant, Public Affairs Specialist in Puerto Rico and USVI District Office

By AshleyC
Published: March 5, 2013 Updated: March 5, 2013

When a friend or family member asks what you do to help small businesses, what do you say?

I say that I am responsible for reinforcing SBA’s presence in the community, so that others may realize their dreams of financial independence, of starting a business of their own, of creating jobs and providing for thousands of families. The SBA has the most extraordinary mission – one I will always support.Angeique

 

What’s your favorite thing about what the SBA does for small businesses?

It would have to be the creation of opportunities. Opportunities for small business entrepreneurs to learn, improve, grow and succeed.

Is there a particular small business “success story” that comes to mind when you think about how the SBA helps people?

There are many successful small business owners that come to mind, and I am grateful to have been able to meet them and tell their stories.  But if I had to choose only one, it would have to be Jatniel Vázquez, founder and president of Jayvee Air Conditioning in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.  From very humble beginnings, today Jatniel owns a successful enterprise engaged in industrial and commercial air conditioning systems, generating more than $2 million in annual revenues; he employs over 15 people, provides for his younger sister’s education in Engineering, employs his family, and bought his mother the house of her dreams.  And all this before turning 30! Jatniel took advantage of SBA loan programs to expand his business and create jobs.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners out there?

Start small but always think big.

Anything else to add?

Yes. As with anything else, perseverance is critical to achieving one’s dreams. To quote Winston Churchill, “never, ever, ever, ever give up”.

About the Author:

Buying a Small Business Overseas – 5 Tips for a Smooth Transaction

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 4, 2013

Interested in buying a business overseas? Whether you’re looking to expand into new markets or are just planning on funding your retirement plans outside the U.S., there are a number of steps you should take to ensure your new venture goes smoothly. Everything from business practices; legal and regulatory requirements; navigating an international sale deal; and language and cultural differences will come into play.  

Here are some considerations and issues to bear in mind as you go about buying a business in a foreign country.

Language

If English isn’t the first language in the country where you intend to buy a business, then learning the local language should be your first priority. If you can’t do this, then you will need to think long and hard about your motivation and determination for going the distance in this new territory.

Measure the Risks to Your Capital Investment

No matter how much capital you have, to lessen the risk, be sure to factor in the many variables that come from buying and running a business. Factor in cost overruns, delays getting started and unforeseen expenses. For example, don’t always assume that cheap labor is always going to be quality labor—you get what you pay for. You’ll also incur many of the employment expenses you incur in the U.S. such as benefits, taxes, sick leave, and social security.

Work with an Expert

As with any overseas venture, one of the most important things you can do when buying a business abroad is to consult an expert. Accountants, lawyers, tax attorneys, and real estate brokers, can all help you succeed with your cross-border purchase. To ensure the best representation, work with experts who have experience in the location and industry in which you are buying a business. But you’ll also need to find in-country experts who are familiar with business and regulatory matters in the country you intend to buy a business.

Do Your Research About Cross-Border Deals

It goes without saying that any business venture requires research, so here are some issues you should bear in mind:

  • Laws and Regulations – Legal and tax regulations overseas can be even more complicated than in the U.S. for business owners. Licenses and permits, for example, can take several months if not years to be granted. You’ll also need to understand how the country handles expatriation of taxes on profits on foreign business owners. Much of this information can be found online, but for more information, reach out to local in-country small business organizations, business leaders and chambers of commerce.
  • Understand the Buying Process – As you seek advice, be sure to ask about the negotiation and valuation process involved in buying a business. What’s included in the sale? You don’t want to be left with a hollow shell of a business when you thought you were getting furniture and fixtures too.
  • Pay Heed to the Competition – As an outsider, it can take a tough skin to make a success of a small business in a foreign location. Be ready for that—look for ways to test the waters of the community before you take the plunge. Also look to the competition to understand your market potential—is there a gap or untapped need that you think your business can serve?
  • Determine How You Intend to Manage Your Business – Will you re-locate yourself (that brings with it a raft of immigration factors), or will you manage it from the U.S. with on-site staff? Could you keep the current owner and hire him or her as an employee? Know your options before you hit the negotiation stage, and weigh the benefits of each.

Be Prepared to Connect and be Agile

Last but not least, buying and running a business—let alone an overseas business—requires tenacity, agility, and deep personal connections. So do your research, weigh the pros and cons, have a plan and heed laws and regulations. But above all, be true to your ambition and drive. Some of the best small business owners succeed not because they stick to the rulebook, but because they look for ways to take the initiative and forge a path for themselves.

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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