Thursday, September 26, 2013

Good Business Practices – Lower Your Risk Level

When small businesses fail, it is often because they don’t have enough money to operate or grow. Lenders and investors are eager to work with responsible business owners that provide a minimal risk to them financially. They often will require personal information about you and those connected to your business. While reviewing your provided information they will be looking for competence in your industry and also how much they will be able to trust you.

Ideally you will want your application to show than you are a low risk candidate, and this is best achieved by making sure your application is truthful, accurate and complete.

Plan ahead. Make sure your personal life, your credit history, business plan and operations are in order just in case. With these proper preparations and by building relationships with local banks and loan officers, you will have a much better chance securing your funding when the time arises.

How have you prepared for you future?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Business Practices - Talk with the Experts

Whether your business is struggling to build its reputation or you are just trying to get a leg up on the competition, there are many informational avenues that you can pursue for advice.  Seeking a professional in your business community might be the quickest and easiest way to learn about local licensing and laws, business plans and selling/marketing, but if you prefer a more structured set of answers then business associations and industry groups are for you.

These expert advisors provided through the resources below will provide assistance and networking opportunities that many small business owners are looking for. Be sure to contact your local offices.

What kind of advice are you looking for?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

iOS 7 Quick Tips

Apple unveiled their newest operating system on Tuesday, and already it has been adopted on more the 30% of their consumers. With the mad rush of downloads that followed the release, many users experienced some forms of frustration ranging from crashes and download times to the inability to clear the required space due to their favorite photos. With so many changes drastic and subtle changes from the previous iOS it can be hard to recognize the truly great ones.

Here is a list of some of the new and improved changes.

The compass stills exists with a nice new look, but Apple added a handy new
feature. Once the compass is open, all you have to do is swipe the screen to the left and you now have a level. Laying your Apple device back down on a surface shows the angle and putting it on its side acts similarly to a contracting level.

A new search feature was developed allowing users to search through texts,
emails, apps, songs and contacts in one easy place. All you have to do is swipe down on the main screen.

If constantly needing to update your apps bothers you the wait is over. By going to Settings > iTunes & App Store you can switch updates to automatic.

One of the most convenient new features is the control panel. By swiping the screen up from the bottom the control panel will appear. From this interface you can control screen brightness, WiFi connections, song choice, flashlight, camera and more.

iOS tracks your browsing history when using the internet. This makes it easier for companies to develop ads aimed towards you. This can be switched off by going to Settings > Privacy > Advertising and flipping the Limit Ad Tracking to green.

And last but not least with the change in font the whole iOS has a brand new look, but for some people it might make the text harder to read. Going to Settings > General > Text Size you can drag the slider at the bottom to increase the size of the text.

Sources and Related Articles:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Massachusetts Electric Company Scam Targets Businesses

Recently there have been multiple reports of a male person calling businesses claiming to be a representative of the Massachusetts Electric Co. (National Grid). After informing the business they have an overdue balance, he demands payment over the phone with the threat of shut off. Please note that payment will NEVER be required over the phone and will NEVER asked to be wired.

If contacted by a representative of the National Grid and their claims have no merit in your situation, be sure to hang up and contact the business yourself. This will ensure the problem is dealt with through the proper channels.

As always, BBB recommends that you never give out personal or banking information to unfamiliar people.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Business Expo in Boston, MA

Next month the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts will be hosting the Small Business Expo from 10 am-5 pm on October 17, 2013. The Small Business Expo is the largest nation-wide B2B trade show  conference and networking event for small business owners. Typically this event brings together thousands of business owners and decision makers seeking new products, services and innovations to help their businesses grow.

Why Should You Attend?

-It’s Free!
-Network with other business professionals & check out the exciting exhibitor hall.
-Establish new contacts & clients and reconnect with old ones.
-Further your education by attending crucial workshops & seminars.
-Learn about new products and services that will help grow your business.
-Interact with the movers and shakers of your industry.
-Discover new and innovative technologies.

The Small Business Expo is a one day event to meet thousands of prime contacts in one place at one time. Over the next month leading up to the expo we will be diving deeper into the many benefits offered during the event.

To learn more about this event, please visit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Difference Between Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed

Often seen as one in the same, an entrepreneur and a person who is self-employed may share the similarity of owning a business, but beyond that they begin to stray down vastly different paths.

Defined below, we can see where these two roles intertwine as business owners. But when taking a deeper look we see the major difference being that the self-employed are the business, where as an entrepreneur operates a business.

Self-Employed - Working for oneself as a freelancer or the owner of a business rather than for an employer.

Entrepreneur - A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

Typically the majority of business owners fall under the category of “self-employed”. They begin with a skill or particular set of skills and find that the opportunity to make money arises. This is where the crash course in business begins. From insurance and licenses to accounting and marketing soon many owners are smothered in the infinite amount of hours required to keep the business alive.

While many individuals are still the “owners” of the business, they typically carry all the responsibilities of an employee. This combination of duties can create many limitations on the success of the business. Essentially working anywhere from 2-10 jobs often the self-employed are overworked, underpaid and lucky to get a few days off a year.

On the other hand an entrepreneur is all about risk and reward. They think outside the box for the best ways to succeed and move on to their next venture. While the businesses might be of interest it is really the passion of the start-up and leading something to success that drives them everyday. Often this can lead to selling the business or moving on to start a new one once they have everything set for the future.

With many qualities overlapping, where do you see yourself categorized below?

Entrepreneurs Self-Employed

-Flexible         -Hard Working
-Creative        -Goal Oriented
-Confident -Quality Conscious
-Passionate     -Good Communicator

Sources and Related Articles:
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
10 Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur
Top 10 Personal Qualities for Success in Self-Employment

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Cream of the Crop

With roughly 2 million college graduates expected for the 2013-2014 school year, there will be plenty of employees to go around. But with the shadows cast by the larger firms and corporations, it creates an uphill battle when trying to promote the great job opportunities in small business.

How can you compete with these business giants for the best employees?

First and foremost, you must stand out from your competitors in both your specific industry and the business industry as a whole. You can use these tips as a guide for attracting your desired graduates.

Job Boards. Using sites such as Indeed, Monster and even Craigslist. "These are one of the most effective ways to find fresh grads. To charm the right ones, write engaging ads. Think what specifically will excite these applicants most, and highlight that," explains Tom Gimbel.

Social Media. While many businesses are comfortably using various social media as a way to promote their products or services, it can be just as powerful of a tool when finding future employees. With a combination of sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn you can create a one stop shop for possible employees. With experience, hobbies, lifestyle and even personality highlighted it can be an easy way to pursue the best candidates for employment.

Initiate the Contact. Graduates are often intimidated with the prospect of meeting and interviewing with so many employers. But by initiating contact with alumni networks and college career centers, you can begin the process of meeting potential employees earlier in their careers as interns, volunteers, and mentees. These more informal meetings allow for the creation of bonds and for their potential assessment in a much more laid back environment.

Secondly, looking to fill an open position is a two-way street. Often employers are under the impression that after posting a job, they should sit back and wait to be impressed. But to attract the best employees, you should be trying equally as hard to promote yourself. Using these tips will give you an edge when selling your company to potential employees.

Size. Depending on the size of the company many new hires often sit levels below the decision makers. By highlighting their opportunity to connect directly with leadership teams and owners in small business, it can create a great selling point for your position.

Growth. While it is common to ask potential employees where they see themselves in five years, showcasing your desire for them to take on more responsibility and pursue promotions in the future, creates a common goal.

Rewards. Be realistic the best graduates will cost the most, and many small businesses don't have the budgets to compete with larger ones. This is where you can get creative. Offering products such as an iPad or cell phone depending on the business can often be enough to sway a potential employee.

What are your feelings towards this new generation of employees?

Sources and Related Articles:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Choosing an Internet Marketing Service

Internet marketing services are beneficial to those who want to increase their appearance on various search engines and enhance the visual presentation of their website. 

Use these tips as a guide when choosing Internet marketing services or hiring a marketing consultant:

Ask for Referrals.  Ask friends, family members and colleagues who have had success with Internet marketing services or a consultant for suggestions. Check out businesses through to make read reviews and complaints.  

Understand Your Audience.  In order to hire marketing services that best suit your needs, you first need to understand the audience you are trying to reach. Awareness of your specific audience will condense your search to businesses that have experience targeting your potential clients.

Be Informed.  Before choosing services or a consultant it is important to do your research on current marketing strategies. This preparation will allow you to have a better grasp on the marketing concepts the consultant is discussing. Researching will also allow you to better avoid frauds. Inform yourself on topics such as, search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO). 

Ask for References.  Ask the business for a list of references with a similar target audience and contact a few of the previous consumers. Ask about their experience with the business, if they met their needs, and if they have seen improvements. Keep in mind just because the business works for one consumer doesn’t mean they will automatically be right for you. Ask if the business will provide a proposal detailing how they plan to bring you success. 

Get All the Pricing Details.  Be sure to have the business lay out all the costs and fees associated with the marketing services. It is important not to invest too much money at one time. Ask the business if you can pay a portion of the price upfront and wait until you see results before making the final payment.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Protecting Your Finances

Let's take a look at some good resources for small business owners on how to protect their finances.

The National Federation of Small Business (NFIB-The Voice of Small Business) offers a great checklist titled “Checklist for Managing Small Business’ Finances”. It’s a comprehensive in-depth list that focuses on every aspect of small business financing. You’ll be introduced to areas from “Cash-flow projections” to “Saving and Investing” to “Developing an overall plan so that every dollar coming in flows through proper channels."

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the U.S. government’s dedicated organization for the small business owner. Comprehensive and easy to use, their “Managing Business Finances and Accounting” page offers topics from “Accepting Cash Only, Checks, and or Credit Cards” to “Online Payment Services” to “Setting up a payroll system.” All are tried and true topic areas that can lead to a successful small business operation.

There are other aspects to consider outside of having a well planned, well financed, and optimally running business. Cyber attacks must be taken seriously and anticipated. Protecting your businesses capital and assets means that you insure hackers can’t gain access to your information. Installing anti-virus software, Securing your Wi-Fi, and Systematically purging sensitive data are just a few prudent steps you can take. US News & World Report recently published a very helpful article specifically on this topic that any small business owner or potential small business owner should read.

Lastly, and of great importance, safeguarding your business finances means working with and partnering with reputable companies. Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers free business and charity reviews so that you have the right information about potential partners before you decide to engage in a partnership.

How do you safeguard and protect your small business finances?