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Established Businesses and Growth


  • Submitted on 07 December 2011

    Business SuccessI know it’s tough to build a business and keep it growing through the years, because I’ve done it. Don’t forget that good business planning can help a growing business stay focused and efficient, even as you manage the daily routine and changing markets. Here are my three favorite easy ways to get back on track with business planning. These are all things I’ve done myself.

    Listen actively to a few of your customers

    I mean this as exactly what it says. I’m not saying you do a market survey or a focus group. I’m saying you really talk to a few (aim for 10 or 15) customers. Get on the phone, tell them you’re the owner or manager, make an appointment, and talk to them about what they think about your business. Make it interesting for them. Ask them interesting questions. Ask them what you do well and what you do poorly. Ask them what else you could be doing. Ask them about other businesses they like and don’t like, even if not related. Ask them what they think about trends, social media, organic food, green technology … make it a real conversation.

    And the talk isn’t what’s important here – it’s the listening that matters. You spark conversation, and then you shut up and listen. And have the good sense to listen well to criticism, not block it out, and learn from it. And do it as the owner of the business, or trusted top managers only. Don’t pay somebody else to do it. You need to see people’s faces, or at least (if you’re on the phone) hear voice inflection. You need to do the listening. The goal is to refresh your sense of what your business is really doing for whom, and why they care.

    We always hear about doing customer surveys or focus groups, which can be valuable when done right, or if they are taken with healthy skepticism. Unfortunately, they are rarely done right and are almost always given too much importance.

  • Submitted on 06 December 2011

    Business ContinuityHere are a few things your can do – at no cost – to jump-start your business continuity plan:

    Determine your greatest risk potential.  It might come from loss of heat, frozen pipes (which can burst, causing water damage), or loss of access caused by icy conditions.  What would happen if you had to shut down your business for several days?  Look at the building where you do business and assess the property damage risks. If you do this early enough, you’ll have time to make structural upgrades that can prevent possible future storm, wind, water or earthquake damage.

    Calculate the cost of business interruptions for one week, one month and six months.  Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able investigate insurance options or build a cash reserve that will allow your company to function during the post-disaster recovery phase. It’s also a good idea to develop professional relationships with alternative vendors, in case your primary contractor can’t service your needs.  Place occasional orders with them so they regard you as an active customer when you need them.

    Review your insurance coverage.  Contact your agent to find out if your policy is adequate for your needs. Consult with a business insurance expert to advise you on the right coverage for your situation.  When buying insurance, ask “How much can I afford to lose?”  It’s a good idea to know the value of your property.

  • Submitted on 06 December 2011

    Employee Rights Under the NLRA PosterAs of January 31, 2012, most private sector employers are required to post a notice advising employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The notice should be posted in a conspicuous place, where other notifications of workplace rights and employer rules and policies are posted. Employers also should publish a link to the notice on an internal or external website if other personnel policies or workplace notices are posted there.

    For further information about the posting, including a detailed discussion of which employers are covered by the NLRA, and what to do if a substantial share of the workplace speaks a language other than English, please see the National Labor Relations Board Frequently Asked Questions. For additional languages visit the National Labor Relations Board website.

    You may download and print the notice using the links below. You may also fill out this form or call 202-273-0064 and copies will be mailed free of charge.

  • Submitted on 25 November 2011

    As the economy continues to gain traction, many small retailers are forced to put more of their economic eggs in the holiday season shopping basket.  Hoping to take advantage of an uptick in consumer confidence, a three-month end-of-year holiday splash is possible, but may be more difficult this season.

    So hiring extra help for the hoped-for push should be thought out more than ever.  Here are some ways to help make short-term hires pay off.

    10.  Have a Staffing Plan

    Know what it takes to get specific tasks done, and how long it should take for a competent person to learn what you want them to do.  Resist the temptation to be over-optimistic about what you will need to handle holiday season volumes.

    9.  Know How Much a New Hire Really Costs

    Recruiting, hiring, training, employment taxes, wages, etc., all have costs.  Compare these costs against the expected benefits in increased revenues or saved expenses.  Are you making a wise decision versus paying some overtime to existing staff?

     

  • Submitted on 25 November 2011

    2012 OSDBU Procurement ConferenceThe OSDBU Procurement Conference is a national conference fostering business partnerships between the Federal Government, its prime contractors, and small, minority, service-disabled veteran-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone, and women-owned businesses. Now in its 22nd year, the OSDBU Directors Conference has become the premier event for small business throughout the United States.

  • Submitted on 10 November 2011

    Small businesses in emerging industries – like clean energy – have cutting-edge ideas that are strengthening our country and changing the world. Today, we’re helping them continue to do just that in two major ways.

    First, unlike larger firms, many small firms don’t have the staff or time to search for all of the federal opportunities that can help them grow and create jobs.

    We’re pleased to announce that they’ve got a new tool with green.sba.gov, where they can find all federal opportunities in a single location.

  • Submitted on 26 October 2011

    Previous Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)-funded studies of small business patenting activity established the existence of a cohort of independent, for-profit innovative small firms with 15 or more patents over a five-year period.

    The studies also showed that innovative small firms had a higher percentage of emerging technology patents in their portfolios than their larger counterparts. A recent focus on “green” jobs, businesses, and technology led to this study of a subset of these innovative patent holders. This project was designed to highlight differences in the patent activity of small and large firms in green technologies and industries.

    Overall Findings

  • Submitted on 18 October 2011

    The face of America – and of American agriculture – is changing. The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of USDA’s most recent Census of Agriculture.  The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well.  In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of minority-owned businesses grew more than 45 percent between 2002 and 2007.

    American AgricultureTo reflect the diversity of our agricultural sector and business community, USDA is stepping up its efforts to continually supplement its seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees (ATACs) with new members, especially those who represent minorities, women, or persons with disabilities. We believe that people with different backgrounds and views will make the work of these committees, and thus of USDA, more effective.

    Applicants should represent a U.S. entity with an interest in agricultural trade and have expertise and knowledge of agricultural trade as it relates to policy and commodity-specific issues. For example, Robert Anderson of Sustainable Strategies LLC has served at different points in time on both the Fruits and Vegetables ATAC and the Processed Foods ATAC. Of his experience, Anderson said, “I had the opportunity to meet directly with the highest levels of international trade leadership in the United States and globally. Most importantly, the U.S. government actually seeks our input, listens, and responds to the needs and expectations of the U.S. agricultural industry.”

    At a time when our economy is trying to rebound from a serious recession, having a voice on one of these committees can make a significant impact on the government decisions that affect our economic future. That’s because agricultural trade plays an extremely important role in the health of our nation’s economy. U.S. agricultural exports have consistently contributed to the positive U.S. trade balance, creating jobs and boosting economic growth. In fiscal 2011, U.S. agricultural exports were forecast to reach a record $137 billion, which supported more than one million jobs in America this year.

  • Submitted on 14 October 2011

    Proposed rules published today for comment in The Federal Register by the U.S. Small Business Administration would adjust the size definition of small businesses in 52 industries in two broad categories of businesses, ranging from travel agencies and movie production to waste management.

    The proposed adjustments to size standards in 15 industries in Sector 51 of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), “Information,” and in 37 industries in Sector 56, “Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services,” reflect changes in marketplace conditions in those sectors.

  • Submitted on 11 October 2011

    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) is one of eleven awardees in a Small Business Teaming Pilot Program designed to help small businesses work together to compete for federal contracts, grow, and create jobs.

    On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, the most significant piece of small business legislation in over a decade designed to provide critical resources to help small businesses continue to drive economic recover and create jobs. The Small Business Teaming Pilot Program, one of many beneficial programs made possible by the Small Business Jobs Act, awards grants to organizations for training, counseling, and mentoring to help small businesses enter into teaming relationships and compete for larger federal contracts. Teaming may take the form of joint venture and mentor-protégé relationships.

    As one of eleven grantees selected from hundreds efforts to of applications submitted, the National Center was awarded $500,000 that will go toward creating jobs, businesses, and cooperative efforts between businesses and tribes nationally and within Indian Country. The organizations in the pilot program will help small businesses find other firms interested in teaming, form teaming arrangements, and find and bid on larger contracts. Grantees will leverage their existing resources and collaborate with SBA District Offices, resource partners, and other federal, state, local and tribal government small business development programs.

Did you know...

Between 2002 and 2007, minority-owned firms outpaced the growth of non-minority firms in gross receipts, employment, and number of firms. Minority firms are an engine of job creation.
Graph for MBE Growth

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