• Sequester’s threats to small business

    A 2.7 percent budget cut might seem trivial compared to what many small business owners have had to deal with during the recession. But reports about what such a slash to the federal budget would mean to small business owners are mostly dire. The cut is due March 1 if Congress does not come up with an alternative this week. Here's a roundup of media reports about how the sequester will impact small business:

    According to The New York Times' "You’re the Boss" blog:

    “The sequester would ... scale back programs at the SBA. According to the administration, loan guarantees would be reduced by $902 million, from $22 billion to just over $21 billion. And the agency told the Senate Appropriations Committee that cuts to its counseling programs would force the agency’s partners to turn away at least 33,000 business owners seeking assistance.”

    On a list of "Eight Ways the Sequester Could Ruin Your Life," The Daily Beast offered this warning:

    "Anyone with a small business should fear the

    Read More »from Sequester’s threats to small business
  • Trusting your team: A business owner’s aha! moment

    Businesswoman Lisa Firestone is a meticulous planner. When she approached her partners at an employee benefits consulting firm 15 years ago with a buyout offer in hand, she had a resignation letter in the other hand and four months of legal and financial strategizing behind her.

    When her buyout offer was rebuffed, she quit and launched her own firm within two weeks. She put her house up as collateral for a bank loan, two key colleagues and almost all of her clients followed her, and her workers' compensation and disability management consultancy, Managed Care Advisors, shot out of the gate.

    Lisa Firestone, founder and CEO of Managed Care Advisors

    “One of the best things I did was have a good business plan that I could put in front of a bank and customers,” says Firestone. “I normally think things out pretty thoroughly.”

    That cautious planning created a stable company that grew steadily for several years. But Firestone eventually came to see that her extreme caution wasn’t always a positive.

    As owner, CEO, and “chief motivational officer,”

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  • We are changing up the format of this post this week. In the past the top section covered a relatively small number of pieces of content from on Advisor itself, followed by a slightly larger number from outside Advisor. But as we add more content partners and writers we are posting and hosting a significantly larger amount of content that is directly useful to small business owners. So we are changing the ratio and will be pointing you to some of the content on the site that you might have missed as well as the very best from elsewhere.

    Business blooming

    We have been adding new content partners and writers quickly recently here at Yahoo Small Business Advisor. As a result our old format where we highlighted a few of our own articles and more good articles from around the web is preventing us from showcasing some of the great content that we have here. As a result we are switching that ratio around and highlighting more of our own content and slightly less from elsewhere. So here are some of the best

    Read More »from Customer service, brandjacking and older entrepreneurs. Small Business Reading for February 22, 2013
  • Love, Growth and Agriculture: Small Business Reading for February 15th, 2013

    Love and Growth

    The big news for small business would seem to be the proposed increase in the minimum wage - at least that's what politicians would like us all to think. The reality is that while this is an issue it still isn't the key issue. Much bigger issues for the typical small business are the burden of complying with regulations and the problem that has been the real key for the past three years or so - getting more customers. And for any individual small business the big problem is the current problem - whatever that might be. But it IS time to think about the possibility of growth, so Chris Myers' advice about growing carefully and not growing broke is timely. And Patricia Lotich wrote about what a bad hire can cost you - so if you are lucky enough to be growing fast enough to be doing some hiring, remember to make the hiring decision carefully.

    It's also a good time to think about making use of cloud technology even if you are a small business. There are starting to be some real benefits

    Read More »from Love, Growth and Agriculture: Small Business Reading for February 15th, 2013
  • In business with your Valentine? Some unromantic advice

    One in four business owners won’t have to make any extra effort to spend time with their Valentine today. They’re in business with the one they love. According to a Manta survey of more than 1,100 business owners, 28 percent of small and medium sized business partners are also romantic partners. More than half of those recommend the arrangement and some even tell Manta it has improved their relationship (though not necessarily their sex life).

    Data from Manta's Love, Sex & Marriage in Business survey

    Sounds nice, but the online legal services company Rocket Lawyer offers lovers a dose of reality for Valentine’s Day. If you’re mixing romance and business, Rocket Lawyer founder and attorney Charley Moore says you need to think about pre-nups, post-nups, and corporate governance. He points to some high profile business-couple disasters such as Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy, whose prenup gives Hoppy no rights to any of the $39 million made in the sale of her Skinnygirl Cocktail line—a business he played a part in, and billionaire hotelier

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  • Shaking the Bode Tree: Growing Broke

    Growing Broke

    When you ask a small business advisor what you need to do to create value, the three most often-cited strategies are….grow, grow and grow some more.  Typically, advisors are only referring to your top-line sales because where the top-line goes, your cash flow follows!  While this advice might prove true, it certainly is not the rule.  Let me provide a new phrase for you to consider – Don’t Grow Broke!

    What does this mean?  In a nutshell, not all growth is good and many companies take a good thing (responsible growth) to the extreme and create massive havoc pursuing even more growth and sometimes kill their business.  We have all heard the stories about the restaurant owner that had a phenomenally successful location that was throwing off a ton of cash flow.  The owner was happy, not too over-worked and was making a very good living for herself and her family.  She was lured to expand rapidly  to other locations to take advantage of her company’s success and “not let the best locations

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  • Thumbs Down

    According to a Career Builder Survey, 40% of employers reported that a bad hiring decision can cost companies $25,000 and, 25% of those polled said the cost can be as high as $50,000! More than 68% of employers surveyed stated that they had made a bad hiring decision in the prior year. Poor hiring decisions can affect productivity, morale and work quality.

    “It can be hard to predict how a new hire will fit with the organization or perform in their new role. Even though mistakes happen that are beyond the hiring manager’s control, the more thoroughly the candidates are vetted, the less likely they will be a poor match,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s important that candidates meet as many people in the department as possible – especially if they will work closely together. Also, if candidates say they are proficient in a skill critical to the job, they should provide ample evidence that their experience meets the organization’s

    Read More »from What is that bad hire costing your organization?
  • SBA’s Karen Mills to Step Down

    Just one year after her position was elevated to the Cabinet level, Small Business Administrator Karen Mills will step down, President Obama announced yesterday.

    In a statement, the President said:

    "Over the last four years, Karen has made it easier for small businesses to interact with the federal government by reducing paperwork and cutting through red tape. She has played a leading role in my Administration’s efforts to support start-ups and entrepreneurs. And she was instrumental in the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act. Because of Karen’s hard work and dedication, our small businesses are better positioned to create jobs and our entire economy is stronger."

    Mills joined the SBA job from a career in venture capital, where she had been known for supporting women entrepreneurs as managing director of Solera Capital. Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, a private equity firm.

    Politico observed that Mills's departure hints at a trend:

    "Mills's announcement marks yet

    Read More »from SBA’s Karen Mills to Step Down
  • How your startup can get enterprise-class networking cheap

    The cloud, the cloud! By now most entrepreneurs have heard that the cloud can help their small business operate with the computing sophistication and efficiencies of a big business. But many still aren’t sure just how.

    One great example can be seen in a new service launched today by the Silicon Valley startup Pertino. Pertino’s founders—a team of networking and security innovators with top management experience at Packeteer, Apple, Blue Coat, and HP’s Mercury Interactive—say they aim to bring enterprise-class computing networks to even the tiniest operations.

    With their service, they say, an Internet connection is all a small business needs to build a global network for its employees. No purchase of servers, no hiring of IT professionals, no adding IP addresses. Says marketing VP Todd Krautkremer, “You can create a business-class network without knowing a single word of mumbo jumbo, and you pay $10 a month per user.”

    Pertino’s founders say that, as the workforce becomes increasingly

    Read More »from How your startup can get enterprise-class networking cheap
  • Renewal – new office, new management style. Small Business Reading for February 8th, 2013

    Although a huge winter storm is dumping snow in the NorthEast of the US as I write this, technically we are headed toward Spring and a time for renewal. And renewal also means the workplace. We did our best to cover the theme this week on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor with articles covering office design tips, creating a great small business workspace, retaining good employees as your business grows, and the hidden qualities of great bosses (which can help you renew your management practices.) We also took a very optimistic look at the future for small businesses in Chris Myers' post on the future Fortune 5 Million.

    Renewal

    If you haven't taken the plunge yet, hopefully some of these articles give you the impetus to start your own business — and if you do, we have tools to help. Besides our domain name, web hosting and ecommerce products, we also have just added an innovative marketing dashboard that you can try for free even if you don't use our other products.

    Some other great small

    Read More »from Renewal – new office, new management style. Small Business Reading for February 8th, 2013

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