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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

Small scale businesses are easier to set up compared to the middle or large scale businesses that require more time, feasibility reports, ad...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tips On How To "Go Green" For A Start-Up Company

The following is a strategy to employ for being green and saving money in a startup, which would apply for small business as well .....

1. Create user accounts in google. Once you have user accounts for your employees, you can create team calendars with user name and pass word. You can IM, and share presentations online - cuts down on any server hosting.

2. Use DIMDIM software for meetings, sharing presentations. It is 100% free for up to 20 people in a meeting.

3. Buy a pen based screen for your monitor. Utilize this online software to write in MS Word, power point, share and discuss in white board during presentations, take notes - NO PAPER = Green. The cost is $80. Laptops cost $2000. Instead now you have a screen and associated electronic pen, that you can simply "attach" to any laptop and convert it into a pen computer.

4. With DIMDIM, Windows Live, and google, you do not have to print anything in paper.

5. Utilize screen capture softwares to copy a document, use pen based screen to sign documentation - no prints.

6. Utilize electronic scanner software to scan documents online.

7. Use 3rd party hosting sites for storage space of upto 2 GB.

8. Turn off Monitor policy - Turn off all monitors after end of the day. This would cut energy used.

9. ALWAYS hibernate your computer - this will not consume your battery.

10. If your business can install a biogas generator onsite, that could generate electricty from the employees waste generation. [from cafeteria, to food to other stuff].

On comments on President Obama's push to go green .... "we have to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2050".

There are 2 options for this (as of now)......

1. Clean coal
2. Alternate energy sources

1. Clean coal - If a solution is implemented, it will cut down emissions by 50% EASILY, and will create green energy instantaneously. About 80% of our energy needs can be met by coal, and it is an abundant resource. This will not only save money from corporations pockets, but also from consumers pockets.

Note Europe HAD to go solar or wind because they do not have other natural resources! Even it it costs millions to create clean coal, it is the Smart SYSTEMIC Solution. Which will create green energy for 60-80% of the US and the world, and the technology can be exported. It will result in people and companies saving money, and US meeting 40% cut down in emissions easily. The bulk of the expense can be born systemically through a carbon tax, and the money can be used for implementing and maintaining clean coal. Now dumping CO2 underground is not the only solution. The CO2 can be converted to natural gas through biological processing. Which inturn can be utilized for creating clean energy, and subsidized fertilizer. We can very easily meet a CO2 emission cut of 40% in the next 10 years. [long before 2050]

2. In addition to clean coal, there are other options like nuclear [expensive to build]. Albeit this will not meet all of the demand. It also creates another problem of nuclear waste. Solar, wind, and other energy alternatives should also be pursued for the remainder of the 50% CO2 emission cuts. But these are Expensive solutions that take money from consumers and corporations ..... compared to a 1% carbon tax. In addition, in this recession one cannot advocate the cap and trade policy in carbon emissions. Which will further create another financial bubble through carbon trading.

3. Alternate energy sources like solar, wind, nuclear, and natural gas are viable for going "energy independent", and creating cost savings for businesses. But they need to be cost efficient for consumers and not hurt our wallets. It appears right now that the biggest bang for the buck, is clean coal. Clean coal doesn't have to be putting CO2 underground. An alternate solution is to have a bio-refinery that takes in the CO2 and converts it into bio feed and oxygen. Oxygen can be released into the atmosphere, and bio feed can be exported or distributed as health foods, cheap nutritious fertilizer for farmers, and cheap export fertilizer.

The above strategy is not meant to be all inclusive .... but should at least give you some ideas for your start-up or small business going forward. Might even give you some ideas for opportunities to take advantage of the "go green" industry as it grows.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tax Cuts For Business .... The Right Thing To Do

Historically business has reacted positively every time across the board tax cuts have been implemented, under Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43. This would seem to hold true so long as we are below levels of full employment. As rates are cut, investment money is loosened up, and jobs are created via these new investments. So long as there are workers available to fill those jobs, the tax base increases, more than offsetting the tax rate decrease. The result is that revenue increases.

So the answer of course is to cut taxes to stimulate the economy. The conservative approach. It has a 100% historical success rate.

Taken to the logical conclusion, the correct plan would eliminate income tax altogether, as taxing productive behavior is stupid public policy on it's face, and switch instead to a consumption tax which punishes people for what they remove from the economy, not what they choose to add to it. If the consumption tax is a one time tax paid on end-use consumption only, ie NOT a value added tax, the result is that the ~23% embedded taxation that exists in the average price of goods and services in the US drops to the bottom line and becomes profit. In a competitive environment this excess new-found profit is shared with the consumer, up to it's full 23% in the form of competitive price wars. Prices drop. Profit increases or remains the same. US companies become dramatically more competitive in a worldwide environment, and that whooshing sound you hear is investment dollars rushing back into the market to take advantage.

It's amazing the kind of economic engine we could have if we simply stopped using taxes to satisfy our envy, buy votes, and punish productive workers. But as long as it's about "fairness", we'll lumber along being much less than we can be.

If the real end state at all of this is to stimulate the economy and restore jobs - a significant cut (even a tax holiday for several months) in business taxes seems a no-brainer.

If taxes are cut for the right groups, everyone will benefit. Cut taxes for the consumer class and they will buy more of the producer's products. Simple.

What really happened was that Congress used the recession as an opportunity to fund their agenda - hoping that economic stimulous would also result.

I fear the true outcome is that they've p%^&*d away billions and billions, have little job creation to show for it, but have funded a legacy of social programs it will be hard to undo.

I think President Obama has made it clear, he believes that many people have not been paying their "fair" share and he's going to do something about it. Higher taxes, whether through an expiration of existing rates or new taxes, either direct taxation or increased regulatory costs, will cost everyone in this country. A bad plan at a bad time....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Small Business Resource .... Press Release Tool Kit

Here's a great resource to help your small business get publicity for your company. Most Small Business can't hire a marketing or Public Relations (PR) firm, so this is an excellent "Do It Yourself (DIY) resource for PR. It's actually worked for lots of companies all across the country.

You can look it over here: Press Release Tool Kit

This PR Toolkit will help your business get a better understanding of how the media works, how to write a press release, how to identify all kinds of interesting story ideas, how to build a press kit, and most importantly how to work with reporters to get stories in the press.

After you read through the toolkit you will be able to get publicity without having to spend thousands of dollars in advertising or agency fees.

Monday, March 23, 2009

AIG Outrage ..... Who's REALLY At Fault?

I recently received the latest newsletter from Rep. Randy Forbes (my Congressman) and the message really hit home with me.

Like many of you, I am more than ticked at AIG and their giving of bonuses to executives that created their mess in the 1st place .... AND giving billions to Foreign banks. All of it coming out of their bailout money. Meaning "my" pocket and yours.

But even worse .... is the mishandled way that Congress ( sic Democrats) rushed these bills through with no prudent review and zero tangible plans for oversight included in them. Their whining now about AIG bonuses and payments to foreign banks smacks of hypocrisy based on their own mismanagement of the situation .... AND VOTING THEMSELVES A PAY RAISE IN THE LAST MONTH.

Anyway .... below is what Rep. Forbes has to say. I couldn't have said it better myself. Your thoughts / comments are encouraged.


AIG Outrage

Imagine a situation where a husband goes out one day and, in the midst of the current economic situation, decides to buy an expensive new boat. A few weeks later, the bill comes in the mail. His wife opens the bill, steaming as she realizes what he’s done and sees the monthly payment they will now have to make on top of all of their other monthly commitments. As her husband walks into the room, she throws the bill across the table demanding an explanation. Her husband looks down at the bill. Realizing he can’t make the payments and seeing how mad his wife is, he pounds his first on the table and says angrily, “Honey, I am outraged over this bill that we have to pay!”

This situation seems like a scene we’d find ourselves watching on a Thursday evening sitcom. In reality, it is what we found ourselves watching on the news this week as Members of Congress and members of the Administration pounded their fists and cried “outrage” over taxpayer-funded bonuses that went to AIG executives. In fact, the word “outrage” was used in almost every speech on this issue on the House floor this week.

As I watched those Members express “outrage,” I couldn’t help but be irritated about their outrage. I am one of only 17 out of 435 Members of Congress who voted against every single one of the so-called bailout and stimulus packages under both Presidents Bush and Obama. I did so for the very reason that there was no accountability over where the money would actually go. Without accountability and transparency, we will have waste, fraud, and abuse. In fact, there was not even time to read most of the bills before leadership rushed to pass them.

"Americans also have every right to be angry at Congress expressing outrage over a problem it created itself."

Over the past several months, those 17 of us have been calling for more legislative analysis and debate over the bailout bills, and trying to ask intelligent questions about them. At the same time, the Members who have been expressing “outrage” this week were the ones ignoring the rules, rushing bills through by sidestepping the legislative process, and trying to convince the American people that the world was going to come to an end if we didn’t immediately pass each bailout or stimulus package.

Americans have every right to be angry that their money – money meant to be creating jobs and stabilizing the economy – will instead by used to pay more than $165 million in executive bonuses at AIG. This is on top of the revelation over the weekend that roughly half of the taxpayer money spent to rescue AIG was passed on to European banks and politically connected Wall Street investment firms in the first three-and-a-half months of the government bailout.

Americans also have every right to be angry at Congress expressing outrage over a problem it created itself. If individual Members of Congress would have just read the bills, they would have likely realized what most of the analysts have been telling us – that it would take thousands of government bureaucrats simply to monitor where the bailout money is actually going and how it is being spent.

Just as the husband couldn’t realistically expect his expression of outrage to cover for his own irresponsible purchase, Members of Congress cannot expect their outrage to be some type of “Get Out of Political Hot Water Free” card. The American people deserve better. They deserve analysis and debate in Washington. Indeed, it is time that Members of Congress start asking four basic questions before rushing to pass bailout and stimulus legislation:

1. Where is the money actually going?
2. How do we know it is going to get where it supposed to go?
3. Will it actually work once it arrives?
4. How will we pay it back?

I am confident if these questions were asked, there would be more than 17 out of 435 of us standing up against the bailout packages. While we can't redo the mistakes of the past, we can learn from its lessons. Next week, I will begin outlining the principles I believe should guide America’s leaders through our current economic situation – principles that will help open the debate on these issues, put an end to the bailout madness, and put us on an effective course towards economic recovery.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Does This Sound Like Your Approach To Small Business??

"The future belongs to those who fuse intelligence with faith, and who, with courage and determination, grope their way forward from chance to choice, from blind adaptation to creative evolution." ~ Charles E. Merriam ~

I came across this today and it rings deep... it really says a lot about business (and other things too). Especially the small business entrepreneur.

The way I read it is .....

If you're prepared to work smarter, face your fears and act anyway, persevere and never give up even when you can't see clearly, take advantage of the opportunities that come your way and build on them, and be creative in your problem solving, the future is yours!

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Small Business Fax Service Resource

All to often, a new business with a need for corporate faxing either spends big bucks on a fax server, or ends up disappointed with a consumer oriented e-fax type service. They later come to regret that decision much as they would have had they chosen AOL as an ISP instead of a business grade service.

desktopFAXservice.com functions as a business grade fax service agency (not unlike your insurance agent)... gathering the information about your exact faxing needs, and then helping you get the best deal possible with a best of breed business grade fax service.

They have 21 years of experience in the outsourced fax marketplace.

Your business relies on faxing - they know that.... and their service is free.

To learn more go to: Small Business Fax Service

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where Should Small Business Owners Focus In Today's Economy??

The times may be tough, but a lot of businesses are facing all the same issues they were before. And some of us are still very busy. I suspect some of your usual programs could be retooled slightly to help people take advantage of the opportunities that are the flip side of any downturn.

Put it this way .... don't panic, calm down, and think strategically. A recession provides many opportunities that only happen once every seven years or so.

LEVERAGE low interest rates, low prices, high commercial real estate vacancy rates to reprice your infrastructure and your supply chain.

ENGAGE in carefully calculated risks to finally acquire that competitor who is struggling much harder than you are right now.

TRANSFORM problems like a supplier's contract breach into an opportunity to renegotiate more favorable terms for the long haul.

Yes, we all need to be wise and frugal, but those who spend this year cowering in fear may later regret missing out on rare windows of opportunity.

Plenty of small business owners are investing in growth and expansion, preparing for new venture launches, and otherwise using this time to make wise competitive moves to come out well-positioned when we reach better days. I believe that the small business sector will drive the recovery again this time, just as they usually do.

To make things simple here's 2 areas worth focusing in on ......

1st, now is the perfect time to change your routine and stop being driven by the tyranny of the urgent, now is the time to really pay attention to working on your business, not in it. It is time to plan for the future and to position yourself for the recovery before it happens. Now is the time to put your energy, as the leader, into making sure your team is aligned and focused on the right goals .... those things that will be valuable to the business in the long term.

2nd, there has NEVER been a better time to buy another company. No company has ever grown into a large company organically. They all grow into large companies by buying other firms. Whether you are large or small, or want to buy someone smaller or bigger than you are, now is the ideal time to do it.

Fighter pilots like to say that "speed is life." Likewise, prudent business owners must believe and act as if "cash is life." Buttressing and improving cash flow should be a business owner's top priority in good times, and especially in turbulent times.

Business owners must also recognize that we are witnessing a massive deleveraging of capital - despite the current bargains we see in interest rates. Over the long term, capital will become much dearer. This will drive well-run businesses to insist upon funding only the most robust projects and spending, those that exceed "hurdle" rates in significant excess to the firm's projected cost of capital.

Finally, business owners must be wary of opportunities predicated upon significant government underwriting (through tax incentives, subsidies, etc.). Many of these will prove to be shorter-lived opportunities than the business can justify. And what the Congress giveth, the Congress can take away - often with breathtaking speed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Virtual Assistant .... Make Your Small Business Look Like A Big Business

As a small business you should always be looking for tools which better leverage your time and effort .... and increase your efficiency. Whenever you can do this it always affects your bottom line on the positive side of the ledger.

Here's an example of just such a tool.

For your business, a speech recognition based auto-attendant gives you capabilities as good or better than the big boys....with a virtual assistant called Mandi. This tool will make your small business look, sound, and feel like a big business to your market .... in a good way.

Includes over 30 great features including find me / follow me, voice mail, and email by phone. Unique voice activated functions give you more freedom AND more capapbility all in one package.

You'll be amazed at what your phone can do!

See for yourself and try out the demo here ....

Virtual Assistant

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Starting A Small Business Doesn't Have To Be Overwhelming

Being a small business owner is no easy task. Along with the opportunities come a bevy of challenges that come at an entrepreneur from all directions. Dozens of issues, like funding, accounting, legal, tax, marketing/PR, sales, IT and customer service are all issues for small business owners every day. In summary, if you want to have success in starting your own small business, you better have some knowledge in ALL of these areas.

OR you better know people who can help you.

With this in mind, UnderstandingMarketing.com has started a new chat night for small businesses on Twitter. It's every Tuesday at 8pm EST ..... and they'll talk all things small biz. So please join the discussion, bring a list of questions, and be ready to share advice with others. They're hoping to get professionals from all different areas to participate to make it helpful for all.

UnderstandingMarketing.com - Small Business Chat

Check out their articles on Twitter if you don't know much about it and want to join. It's free and easy to get started.

Twitter Tutorial

Monday, March 9, 2009

How To Recycle Your Cell Phone And Help Go Green

Would you like to recycle your business cell phone .... computer .... laptop .... PDA .... or other electronic "gadget"?

Recycling may be getting easier each year, but let's face it: People are lazy. That's why bottles get thrown into trash bins when recycling bins are a foot away. It's also why technology ends up in landfills .... digital electronics will eventually break or get replaced. But it's hard to know just what to do with the gadgets that get left behind.

Not any more.

Now you can, just go to ..... Go Green

Tip ... they also PAY YOU CASH for recycling your electronic items.

Which means .... you not only do something good for the environment, get rid of unneeded "stuff", but can make a little money doing it too!

Also .... if you know a school, church, youth baseball or soccer league, Boy Scout or Girl Scout group, Walk For Life, or other organization .... this makes a great fund raising activity too. Your business could also do this as a fund raiser for your favorite local charity or community project.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How Can Small Businesses Beat The Economic Bad Times??

One of the best things we ... as small businesses ... can do to turn around the economy is work together and share best practices. Doing so creates an environment where those who are struggling can improve, those who are surviving can thrive, and those who are winning can lead and shine.

Some examples of such master mind brainstorming and sharing include; think big - if you are local think regional, if you are regional think national, if you are national think international – there’s customers out there just further afield; go back to basics, call your customers and ask how you can be of more service.

With this goal in mind ... help others and be helped yourself .... what tips would you share?

It's easy .... simply contribute your thoughts as comments to this blog post. Come back .... read .... share some more .... and don't forget to pass it on.

So .... what are your tips???

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

YouTube And Video Marketing For Small Business .... The Benefit Of YouTube And Google Together

Marketing your small business .... especially in todays economy .... needs to "get out of the box". Be creative .... look for every option that puts your business in front of potential customers. There is no wrong answer.

That said .... here's a question to get your creative marketing juices flowing ....

Is YouTube more beneficial than Google for generating traffic to your business website site?

This depends on your business and what you are marketing. It is that simple.

If what you are marketing is already mainstream and viral in nature, then YouTube may be the ticket to online success. But if it is the new version of Ginsu Knives, chances are that YouTube will not be as effective as keyword searches in Google.

You would not advertise a rock star in a gardening magazine, would you? Every product, service and business has certain ways to market that are best for them. It is our job as marketers to decide what is best for our "stuff", and test, test, test!

The great thing about YouTube and Google as a team is ..... YouTube videos tend to rank high in the results for the keywords targeted on your YouTube Description area. So really you are using BOTH.

Be sure to find the keyword you want to target before you post to YouTube. Or else you could end up in a saturated market and get over run. I personally use google to get my traffic, I am a little camera shy.....

However, I believe that you should strive for traffic from all sources possible, not just Google (even though it's a big player for traffic).

For example, there's a fairly new program available for video submission called Magic Video Marketing. With this tool .... if you're camera shy you don't need to capture yourself, but rather create slideshows and then record presentations over the top and submit that as a video.

Of course you can still do a regular video too.

The program then submits the video to over 35 video hubs automatically, then to blogs, then strips the audio out of the video and posts to podcast hubs.

So in essence you're not just using Google or Yahoo directly. You're going about getting listed highly in their hubs, but in a very indirect yet effective way through the savvy use of video marketing.

Hope this makes sense?

I can see the raw potential of a tool like this ..... submitting videos to many hubs at once for traffic generation. Does anyone else?

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Small Business Perspective On The Difference Between Recession And Depression

In a bit of a diversion from our normal faire here at Small Business Resources Cafe .......

"A recession is when the middle class has no money. A depression is when the rich have no money." - Scott Wolpow

OK ... that's enough humor. This economic situation is not a laughing matter. Especially for small business owners and start-ups (if any are brave enough to attempt a start-up right now).

Anyone listen to President Obama's address to Congress recently? Or any of his frequent "campaigning while in office" speeches (you won already ... now stop talking and start LEADING). Sorry .... but the guy just doesn't get it.

In a depression prices cannot be sustained by the market. So there is a tendency for prices to fall rather than rise. [Ahhh .... maybe the oil companies should reread that last part. Seen gas prices lately?]

* Because incomes are insecure people restrain their buying.
* Because sales are difficult firms restrain employment.
* Because the outlook is uncertain investment is restrained.

This is a circle of events that feeds on itself. It will only reverse when people have confidence in the future.

That's where good political leadership and strong business leadership becomes essential.

Throwing any amount of money at the problem CANNOT fix it. It's not about the money. At heart, the problem we have is a moral one. How should humans live on a finite planet.

We thought we had a wonderful idea about that. We should invest in industry and improve production and when we were very productive we would ALL be RICH.

We now know that long before we all get RICH, we destroy the environment, we become engaged in resource wars, and we destroy the social conditions that make a good life possible. We also know that in a global economy, we can't solve this problem at a national level.

We cannot rebuild a new world economy based on the old model. The result of that would be a short term victory and a long term disaster. Pouring too much money into the economy now can only buy that wrong solution.

We need wise heads. We need to understand that the secret of success is to get the core of what we are doing right.

One could argue that a recession might even be necessary every once in a while to let the economy re-group and adjust to different circumstances. With the introduction of the automobile, the horse-and-carriage industries suffered a recession. When the damage from such adjustment gets so big that the entire economy can't recover from it, (e.g. when too many people were involved in the horse-and carriage industry lose their jobs, can't become automobile workers, and can't buy cars because they have no income anymore) we have a depression: then the automobile industry etc. suffers as well.

Back to the attempt at humor in the begining of this piece ..... explained with a different simile:

"Recession is when the rich guy fires his gardener and makes him drop the rake on the lawn. Depression sets in when the rich guy can't see the rake because the grass grew too high, steps on it and gets hit in the face. Now both are hurting."

The difference between recession and depression is that a recession is short lived, and depression goes on, and on. and on, and sadly that's where we are at.

The real reasons go back to Bretton-Woods, but particularly the decision of the USA to move off the gold standard in 1971. That worked well for the USA. The US Dollar became the default reserve currency of the world. That led directly to the political view in the USA that "deficits don't matter". So successive governments, especially the Republicans have stoked the fire of inflation with deficit spending, that should have led to a decline in the value of US dollars, but because of the reserve currency status that didn't happen. Instead, wonder of wonders, people in foreign currencies ended up paying the USA a premium to use the US dollar in foreign exchange transactions. Effectively the USA let it's financial affairs get out of hand and the rest of the world paid the price. (From the USA's point of view, nice work if you can get it.)

But in economics, the real costs of what people choose to do eventually come home. You now definitely have a depression. So the question is how long will it last?

It will last until the structural problems that caused the depression are fixed. In the USA, the real problem is being avoided by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Business interests fund both parties, and they are entirely focused on how to "save" the business interests of the people who fund them.

Really .... where's the "common sense people" in all this back and forth. On the outside .... not being listened to (at least by those who need to be listening). As usual. Can you say Nancy Pelosi "pet mouse" project"??? Or better yet .... Chris Dodd's and Barney Frank's "give them a house" (chanted in the same cadence as "let them eat cake"). Or Obama's theme song .... "spend more and more now" (sung to the tune of "who let the dogs out").

Who's going to lead us out of all this .... whenever that eventually happens .... is small businesses. All they have to do is give us a chance. If they don't kill us off before hand.

What we really need is a Mike Huckabee "common sense" hammer to hit "them" all upside the head. Or another Joe The Plumber Kodak moment. "Them" being both the political leadership in Washington and the big business stuffed shirts (the guys getting our money .... so where's YOUR bailout).

Here's hoping .... but I won't hold my breath.