1. Featured Articles

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    1. U.S. gives small firms more access to microloans

      U.S. gives small firms more access to microloans
      Under the Small Business Administration program, firms can now borrow up to $50,000 — up from $35,000. And Congress has tripled the amount available to lend out. More accustomed to allocating money by the million, the federal government is stepping up efforts to make loans as small as a few hundred dollars to some of the nation's tiniest companies. The goal is to create jobs, one little loan at a time. "In this environment, every job is crucial," said Eric Zarnikow, who helps run the Small Busin
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    2. 4 Ways to Make Your Restaurant a Success

      4 Ways to Make Your Restaurant a Success
      From Hannah Howard, Serious Eats: You have a prime location, a beautiful dining room, a delicious menu and stellar staff. But your work's not done. In fact, it's never done. Owning and running a successful restaurant means constant evolution. Here are four ways to stay on top of this challenging and potentially hugely rewarding game.   Know your vision. The most confident and successful people know themselves. The same is true for restaurants. If comfort food is your claim to fame, a tricked-out dish that relies on the techniques of so-called molecular gastronomy will feel out of place on your menu.   This applies to service, decor and every small detail of your business. Making your vision crystal clear to your employees and guests will give you invaluable strength.   Change the menu. All businesses rely on regulars; the restaurant biz is no exception. Even a risk-averse diner will tire of ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    3. Immigration Options for the Immigrant Entrepreneur

      Immigration Options for the Immigrant Entrepreneur
      From Guy Kawasaki, Alltop: “America is another name for opportunity.” This is how Ralph Waldo Emerson described American culture, and the quote illustrates why foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs come to the U.S. each year to “make it.” According to Vivek Wadha, Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, 25.3 percent of the technology and engineering companies started in the U.S. from 1995 to 2005 were either founded or co-founded by immigrants.   The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group ranked the U.S. 8th out of 183 countries on ease of starting a business in its 2010 Doing Business study. However, while the report factors in procedures, time, cost and paid-in minimum capital for starting a business in its ranking, it doesn’t account for the immigration process qualification.   Depending on your business plan, the amount of time you ...
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      Mentions: visa
    4. How the New Wave of IRS Audits Will Affect Your Small Business

      How the New Wave of IRS Audits Will Affect Your Small Business
      From Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends: Have you gotten an audit letter from the IRS yet? The agency is auditing 2,000 companies this year at random as part of its Employment Tax National Research Project (NRP).   If you haven’t received an audit letter, that doesn’t mean you can relax. The IRS will continue performing 2,000 random audits each year through 2012. And even if your company never receives an audit letter, the results of the project will have far-reaching impact on all small businesses.   In its announcement of the NRP last November, the IRS said the audits will be “comprehensive.” This is the first NRP in 25 years; its purpose is to see how well businesses are complying with employment tax regulations, which have changed substantially in that time.   As CFO Zone pointed out recently, the main impetus behind the project is the IRS’s desire ...
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    5. 7 Ways to Keep the Sales Rolling in Your Small Business

      7 Ways to Keep the Sales Rolling in Your Small Business
      Don’t get so busy with the day-to-day hustle in your business that you forget to focus your marketing activities on keeping your pipeline filled.  To help you reach your monthly sales goals, I have created a list of 7 marketing techniques you should revisit in the fourth quarter of each year. They are designed to ensure that you focus on revenue-generating activities in your small business. 1. Profile Your Best Customers. Who are your most valuable andRead More From Small Business Trends7 Ways to Keep the Sales Rolling in Your Small Business
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      Mentions: Discover
    6. Building Your Company to Last (Part 1)

      Last week in Vegas was incredible. The events were phenomenal and the density of information, networking and inspiration was off the charts! The panel discussion I moderated at Conquer & Grow, which included Pamela Slim (author of Escape from Cubicle Nation), Clate Mask (who runs Infusionsoft), and Donavan Roberson (Cultural Evangelist at Zappos), was really interesting and [...]
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    7. Make Your Business Special, Then Make Noise About It

      Make Your Business Special, Then Make Noise About It
      From Richard Branson: Thank you for all the questions you have sent – the response has been great. I hope the variety I am answering today will provide interesting advice. Keep your questions coming!   Q: I'm an avid follower of Virgin inventions as well as a marketer. How do I improve my sales? I sell life insurance and would like to build a company from scratch.   - Maina Gachanjah, Kenya   A: The key to improving sales is to make sure your business or product stands out in the marketplace. We have always tried to ensure that Virgin products are innovative, that they offer good value, and that there's a great attitude about service. When you have those basics right, you need to make sure people know about your business: Too many great businesses remain “well-kept” secrets for too long and never get the attention they need to grow and thrive ...
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    8. 3 Ways Small Businesses are Investing in Social Good

      3 Ways Small Businesses are Investing in Social Good
      From Alexander Hotz, Mashable: Lately, a lot has been written about how businesses are using social media to promote social good. Most of the attention has focused on the campaigns of large companies like Pepsi or Pedigree. While the success of those campaigns warrants exposure, small local businesses have also begun using social media to create positive change in their communities.   Below are some examples of how small businesses are investing in social good to partner with non-profits, raise funds and finance micro-loans.   If your company is raising awareness for non-profits through social media, let us know about your work in the comments below.   1. Catherine Zadeh: Partnering with Non-Profits   In 2008, high-end jewelry designer Catherine Zadeh learned that a childhood friend had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. To raise money and awareness, Zadeh fashioned a bracelet, which to her surprise raised over $60,000 for the family of her ...
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    9. Is Your Business Partner Too Close for Comfort?

      Is Your Business Partner Too Close for Comfort?
      From Jean Chatzky: Brought to you by Courtyard® Hotels Jean Chatzky will be covering a variety of different topics in this space every month. Come back next Tuesday for the third article in this month’s Relationships series. Please leave your relationship questions as comments below and she will address several of the questions at the end of the month.   When you've been in business a long time, your partner – if you have one – can start to feel more and more like family.  After all, you’ve chosen to work together because you get along, either personally, professionally, or both.  You share common, or at least complimentary, interests, and you probably have different strengths and weaknesses that fit together like a puzzle. Soon enough, he’s coming over for dinner on Sunday nights and digging deeper and deeper into your personal life.   Is it a problem?  Not if you ...
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    10. Looking for Innovation in the 'Wrong Places'

      Looking for Innovation in the 'Wrong Places'
      From John Mariotti, Small Business Trends: A Sales & Marketing executive and long-time friend, Steve Goubeaux, once gave me a very insightful thought I’d like to share with you today.  When I asked him for a quote for something I was writing, he said:  “If you don’t go, where you don’t go; you won’t know, what you don’t know.” In other words, look for innovation in the places you never look.   The more I have repeated that bit of insight, the more profound it has become.  We are all creatures of habit. So are larger organizations.  Doing things the way we’ve always done them is comfortable, familiar and easy.  It’s human nature to choose these “easy ways.”    Do you drive to work the same way every day?  Probably!  Do you read the same publications—or the same type of publications?  Sure!  How about TV and the Internet?  Watching the same group of shows or using the same set of websites is also a common habit.  When you do this, what do you get?  You get a lot of familiar and comfortable feelings.   But true innovation often doesn’t make us ...
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    11. Revenues grow 48% with help from YouTube videos

      Editors note: Today’s guest bloggers are Troy Olson, Digital Advertising Manager, and Jeff Loquist, Search Marketing Manager, for ShoppersChoice.com. ShoppersChoice.com owns and operates a family of web stores with a wide selection of products, from barbecue grills and accessories to patio sets.With the tagline, “we smoke the competition,” BBQ Guys has built a hot business around home furniture, fireplaces, and kitchen cookware – but the company’s true passion is barbecuing and grills. We’ve created our own YouTube channel around all things related to outdoor cooking, from recipe how-tos to grill reviews. For us, YouTube has been a recipe for success. Visit the YouTube blog to learn more about how we’ve used Google tools to build a fun, rewarding small business.Posted by Serena Satyasai, The YouTube Team
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    12. Food Truck Envy: Should You Jump on This Hot Food Trend?

      Food Truck Envy: Should You Jump on This Hot Food Trend?
      From Elaine Pofeldt: If you live in a city, you may wonder if it's time to quit your day job and join the legions of food truck owners you see around town. Instead of selling old standbys like Good Humor ice cream and hot dogs, the latest generation sells trendy fare and artisanal offerings.   Among the players in this space are Curbside Cupcakes in Washington, D.C.; Royitos, which sells breakfast tacos in Austin, Texas from an AirStream trailer; and Los Angeles-based Lardon, a truck that specializes in selling bacon dishes, like French toast stuffed with bacon.   You can launch a food truck business at a fraction of the price of starting a restaurant, but can you really make a decent living by jumping on this trend? To get the inside scoop, I spoke with Thomas DeGeest, a native of Belgium who worked at IBM as a management consultant ...
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      Mentions: Washington, D.C.
    13. Does Your Website Speak the Same Language as Your Customer?

      Does Your Website Speak the Same Language as Your Customer?
      From John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing: I’ve said this to just about anyone that will listen: there’s really no secret to ranking well in the search engines. It comes down to three things: keywords, content and links.   The foundational step for any website that hopes to rank well in the search engines is keyword research. Simply put, keyword research is any research that helps you better understand the actual words and phrases your target customers actually use when they turn to a search engine to try to find a business, product, service or answer.   Search engine spiders crawl the Web day and night looking for new content to pour into the engine index, rank for phrases, and serve up when a prospect goes looking.   Layering these phrases into the content and linking aspects of a site is akin to speaking the same language as your customers over the ...
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    14. How to Accept Credit Card Payments on Mobile Devices

      How to Accept Credit Card Payments on Mobile Devices
      From Jennifer Van Grove, Mashable: In recent months, a few new mobile payment solutions have launched to allow for accepting credit card payments via mobile devices -- a small business owner's best friend.   In fact, when using one of the available services, a retailer of any size -- even a farmer's market vendor, babysitter or upstart vegan donut maker run out of a kiosk -- can start selling their products to anyone with a credit card.   The three services profiled here -- Square, Intuit GoPayment and PAYware Mobile -- hail from experienced entrepreneurs and seasoned payment veterans, and each offers a slight variation on the same idea that you can accept payments from anyone, everywhere.   These variations, however, are significant depending on the type of business you run and the amount of transactions you plan to process. You can use the information below to help in the decision-making and merchant setup processes. Make ...
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    15. Are Your Doing Something Heroic

      Are Your Doing Something Heroic
      Are Your Doing Something HeroicThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing Are Your Doing Something HeroicThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing The ultimate quest of any organization or cause is to develop an army of committed fans, customers, employees, volunteers, or contributors. And yet, developing loyalty and commitment, the kind that makes people want to reach for their wallet and evangelize products and companies, remains a [...]
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