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:: Have You Considered Exporting?

Top U.S. trade officials plan to spread out across the country this year to recruit small-business owners in the administrations effort to double exports by 2015.

A year after President Barack Obama announced the export initiative to help tackle stubbornly high unemployment, the administration is trying to reach out to the group of business owners that account for nearly two-thirds of job creation but less than a third of total goods sold abroad.

Government to Urge Exporting

:: 4 Biggest Mistakes Small Businesses Make With Social Media

Hate to disappoint, but Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media tools are not magical. They are communication tools and communication is hard work. Connecting with your customers on a deep and emotional level can pay off big time for all businesses, but it can also backfire.

4 Biggest Mistakes Small Businesses Make With Social Media

:: Forum Etiquette

The Internet has become a highly interactive medium. In order to participate in discussion forums and newsgroups, it is important to be familiar with standard and accepted Internet forum etiquette. Here are some tips to help make your forum participation more productive and beneficial...

1. Terms-Of-Service

Read the forum rules and terms-of-service before you begin posting. This way, you can avoid having your introduction to the forum being an accidental breaking of a rule or other misconduct.

Forum Etiquette

:: Tax Problems

Some of the biggest problems small business owners have during income tax filing season are the result of mistakes and oversights they made during the previous year.

Sloppy record-keeping, even when accounting software is used, is a big reason why owners struggle at tax time. Another problem is that owners often short-change themselves by not being sure they are taking all the deductions they are entitled to. That can also be the result of haphazard records, but it also may come from not knowing some tax law basics.

Tax Problems

:: Small Business Loans Drive the Economy

This multitude of causes for the decline complicates efforts of policymakers to return small business credit to prerecession levels. While many small business owners and elected officials are looking for easy answers, boosting bank lending to small businesses will take more than simply intructing bankers to make more loans. And it will require more than the recent effort to boost the Small Business Administrations loan guarantee program, because SBA-guaranteed loans are a tiny sliver of all bank loans to small businesses—about 44,000 of the 1.6 million small business loans made in 2009. The implications are stark: Unless policymakers implement effective solutions to the problem, the small business sector will receive far less bank credit than it used to, hampering the economy for years to come.

Small Business Loans Drive the Economy

:: Common Mistakes with Presentations

A PowerPoint presentation can be an extremely valuable marketing tool for businesses in this day and age. Here are a few common mistakes that you should try to avoid when creating your presentations...

1. Excessive Animation

Excessive animation can really distract from a presentation. Keep animation to a minimum. Transitions between slides may be appropriate, but a constantly-moving animated image on a slide can make the text on the slide difficult to read, and can distract the viewer from the message.

Common Mistakes with Microsoft PowerPoint

:: Business Advice From Richard Branson

1. Enjoy what you are doing.

Because starting a business is a huge amount of hard work and requires a great deal of time, you better enjoy what you're doing. When I started Virgin from a basement flat in West London, I did not set out to build a business empire. I set out to create something I enjoyed that would pay the bills.

There was no great plan or strategy. The name itself was thought up on the hoof. One night some friends and I were chatting over a few drinks and decided to call our group Virgin, as we were all new to business. The name stuck and had a certain ring to it.

Business Advice From Branson

:: Small Business Webinars

The U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery Solutions are offering free Webinars during 2011 aimed at helping small businesses.

The Webinars will focus on potential vulnerabilities to natural and manmade disasters to small businesses.

small business webinars

:: Grant Money for Small Businesses

Small business grants are closer than you think. In fact, the small business grant you need to start or expand your business may be available right in your own home state.

While there are still no direct small business grants available from the federal government, many state development agencies offer direct small business grants and other types of financial assistance designed to encourage and assist entrepreneurs in starting or expand a small business.

The following is a list of links to economic development agency Web sites of each state. Whenever possible, a link to the specific financing resources is listed as well.

Small Business Grants

:: What is Hot What is Not in Technology for 2011

What is Hot
1. Virtual Cloud
2. Mobile Apps
3. Virtual Technology
4. Connectivity
5. Scalability

What is Not
1. Privacy
2. Social Noise
3. Transparency
4. Regulation
5. Land Lines

Read more about What is Hot and What is Not in Technology for 2011

:: More Business Sales This Year

01/12/2011 — one of the most popular online sources of small-business for-sale listings — has released its Fourth Quarter 2010 Insight Report, showing a return to realism by sellers at the end of 2010, and some promising indicators for improvement in the overall marketplace in the coming year.

The fourth quarter tends to be a busy time for business brokers in general, as buyers and sellers want a transaction completed by the end of a calendar year — although here is my recent take on the market. According to the report, there was moderate, but steady improvement during the fourth quarter, which saw an increase in total transactions of 11 percent compared to the same period in 2009, some of which may be attributed to uncertainty surrounding the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts. The total number of closed transactions for 2010 was up 3 percent, largely as a result of a strong fourth quarter.

Small-business valuations, however, continued their downward trend, with average revenue multiples down 2.1 percent and the average cash-flow multiples down .6 percent.

complete article

:: Veteran Business Certification

To further advocate for Veterans, VA announced that companies identifying themselves as small businesses or Veteran-owned businesses to gain priority for some Department of Veterans Affairs contracts must now provide documentation verifying their status within 90 days of receiving notice from the agency.

complete article

:: Are Small Businesses Hiring?

The jobs drought in the U.S. saw some rain in December. And small business owners across the country have varying reactions to the precipitation.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to from 9.8 % to 9.4 % in December with the economy adding 103,000 jobs, the Labor Department reported Friday. That was the biggest one-month drop since April of 1998, and the last time it was this low was in May of 2009.

Of the 103,000 jobs added in December, 47,000 were in the leisure and hospitality sector, and 36,000 were in the healthcare industry.

Things may be looking up, but what are business owners themselves actually saying about hiring?

complete article

:: 11 Social Media Resolutions

This list is meant to be a list of goals to accompany your social media plan – not serve as a standalone social media blueprint. Remember that there is no end-all-be-all social strategy for all companies, so make sure that you are not making your brand the square peg forcing itself into a round social hole. So, onto the social media resolutions for 2011!

11 Social Media Resolutions

:: A Look at 2010 in Business

The year of 2010 was considered a rough year for the United States. There was a variety of economic issues, a tragic oil spill, and two tumultuous wars. The world's troubles were no less; they also included evident with failing economies, political struggles and natural disasters.

The environment faced both natural and man-made disasters in 2010. An earthquake in Haiti rocked the country to its roots early in the year. European travel and United Kingdom travel was suspended, disrupting travelers schedules for the better part of a week. When a volcano in Iceland erupted, making it too dangerous for commercial flights to fly. The Gulf of Mexico was tainted by an oil spill of massive proportions. Destroying  a way of life and ecosystem throughout the Gulf. The oil gushed unchecked into the serene waters, for more than 100 days.

2010 Reflections, 2011 Predictions

:: New Years Tech Resolutions for Small Businesses

Theres no telling what the future will bring, but one thing is sure: In the world of technology, nothing stays the same for very long. The year 2010 wasn't terribly turbulent for tech, but 2011 is shaping up to be more of a thrill than you might expect. From Androids scorched-earth march across the industry to malware threats that we have yet to wrap our arms around, it seems as if everything is about to change.

With that in mind, here are nine resolutions for the small business operator to think about for 2011.

9 Resolutions for Small Businesses

:: Innovative Small Business Funding

Funding extended through 2018 for the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Program

Small businesses in the science and innovation field got good news recently when the U.S. Senate reauthorized two National Science Foundation programs, aimed at helping entrepreneurs gain access to capital.

In one of the final moves of the year, the Senate passed a bill which will extend funding for the Small Business Innovation Research Program and the Small Business Technology Program, both of which were established in order to help small businesses get better access to federal dollars and development funds. Thanks to the passage, the program will be funded through 2018, after relying on short-term funding to solve the issue.

Innovative Small Business Funding

:: Small Businesses Heros or Victims?

Over the last two years, it has been widely reported that small businesses create more jobs than big businesses and thus are critical to the recovery. It has also been widely reported that small businesses are getting squeezed — by the credit freeze, by skyrocketing costs like health and unemployment insurance, and by cheap imports, to name a few examples.

So, if you own a small business, is the deck stacked against you? Can you overcome all of the obstacles? Is it harder than it used to be to start a business? Is it going to continue to get harder? Are the banks going to loosen up? Is the recovery ever going to reach small businesses the way it has big businesses? Which is it: Are small businesses going to be saviors or victims?

Small Business Future

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