• entrepreneurspouseIt's a new year and we've added a great new content partner to our lineup at Yahoo! Small Business Advisor - Business2Community. B2C is supplying us with great articles on marketing and sales in particular and small business in general. We also took a look at how mining 'Big Data' (one of the new business buzzwords) can help even small businesses with sales. The other big topic for the week was how to balance your business and personal life for an entrepreneur so that your spouse can be a partner for work as well as home. We've also continued out Startup Diaries series with more entries coming every couple of days.

    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 business

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  • A “big data” company helps small businesses target sales

    The Radius Intelligence team in San Francisco

    Small business owners may be interested to know that a fellow entrepreneur has raised more than $18 million from investors, including $12.4 in a funding round led by American Express this week, for technology that makes it easier for salespeople to find you and, if you sell to small businesses, for you to find customers.

    Radius Intelligence is the brainchild of Darian Shirazi, who gained notoriety at 17 as Facebook’s first intern and later dropped out of college to start his own company. Descended from entrepreneurs in Iran—one set of grandparents imported fabric to make and sell clothing and another re-manufactured brand-name products such as Nivea and PertPlus for the local market—Shirazi says he grew up thinking about the needs of small businesses.

    He also had a bent for big data. So at 21 he set out with his two Palo Alto, Calif., roommates to build a knowledgebase that would help small service and product suppliers better target their sales.

    Since 2010 Radius has amassed an

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  • 7 tips for marital bliss with a business owner

    Following on our previous post, Agreed to marry an entrepreneur? Some spousal advice, we spoke with Meg Hirshberg, author of For Better or For Work: A Survival Gide for Entrepreneurs and Their Families. The book and her Inc. Magazine column, Balancing Acts, are based on her experience married to business owner Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s largest organic yogurt company.

    Hirshberg, who married at 30 and began raising a family during the 9 years it took Stonyfield to become profitable, offers these 7 pieces of wisdom that might help you adjust a little easier to the particular brand of wedded bliss you’ve agreed to.

    1. Ask questions now. There’s no time like before you’ve exchanged vows to ask crucial questions of your entrepreneur and perhaps even a lawyer to understand what’s at risk if the business goes belly up. Many entrepreneurs take out a line of credit or use their home as collateral for a small business loan, Hirshberg says, so it’s completely

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  • Agreed to marry an entrepreneur? Some spousal advice

    With wedding proposal season behind us, it’s time for those who’ve recently become engaged to an entrepreneur to ready themselves for the ride. According to many who’ve been there, marriage to a business owner can feature experiences you aren’t likely to get when you’re wedded to someone who works “for the man.”

    “You are about to embark on an exciting adventure. Embrace it!” says a New England software developer who stood by her serial-entrepreneur husband for 20 years before he hit on a major success. “This person will make sure you life is never dull.”

    Indeed, journalist Meg Hirshberg, whose husband founded Stonyfield Farm, compares being along for the ride in a business venture to being the passenger in a car he navigated along California's winding coastal Highway 1. “He was driving and loving it, and I was feeling nauseated because of all the twists and turns," Hirshberg recalls. "One person is in control of the wheel, the other is sitting there being jerked around feeling sick."

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  • A simple home office tax deduction is coming

    If you’re among the many small business owners who regularly forfeit the home office tax deduction for fear of attracting an audit or because it is just too complicated to calculate, there’s good news for you out of Washington today.

    The Small Business Administration and the IRS have coordinated to provide “a new, simpler option for calculating the home office tax deduction.” Taking the deduction will no longer require calculating the energy costs, mortgage interest, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and repairs you pay on your home office as a percentage of the entire home. Instead, small business owners and employees who work from a qualifying home office will have the option to deduct $5 per square foot of office space on up to 300 square feet, for as much as $1,500 in deductions annually.

    According to the IRS’s calculations, the simpler formula will save taxpayers more than 1.6 million hours per year in tax preparation time. One hitch: the new rule won’t go into effect till

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  • problemsolvingSolving business problems is what keeps us all employed!  It is an interesting dynamic because once you solve or fix one problem another problem typically arises.  The word problem is defined as “a puzzle, question, set for solution”.  There are good problems (i.e.; increased sales/growth) and there are bad problems (i.e.; decreased revenues/sales) both require the same problem solving process and if problem resolution is successful, new challenges arise.

    So you ask, why would an increase in sales and business growth be a problem?  The problem (albeit a good one to have) is determining how to handle the growth from a process, customer and logistical perspective.  For example, if you have a start-up software company that caters to a specialized niche and growth is faster than projected, your company will be scrambling to find the manpower, service support and logistics to ensure the customer experience is superior for new clients.  Start-ups need to make a great first impression with

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  • Forget New Year’s resolutions; set intentions for your small business

    “New Year’s resolutions are child’s play,” says entrepreneur coach Linda Tomb. “Resolutions are ‘shoulds,’ like ‘I should go to the gym every day.’” And if you set New Year’s resolutions for your business, you’ll be as likely to keep them as you would be to keep that doomed “lose weight” resolution, Tomb predicts.

    Instead, she suggests, do some New Year’s visioning and set some intentions for your business. Too New Age for you? Hear her out.

    Yahoo! Small Business Advisor contacted Tomb for ideas on how to keep your business resolutions. “If you want to keep a promise,” she says, “it has to be lined up with what you really want—not with what you think you should be doing.” To figure that out, Tomb says, “You have to look inside and see what you’re yearning for.” And that’s what visioning is all about. “Resolutions are about tweaks. But what people are really seeking is transformation, and that comes from visioning,” she says.

    Say, for instance, your business resolution for 2013 is to

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  • Law lifts cap on women-owned small business contracts

    Last week we reported on small-business-supportive language contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 that is aimed at helping small businesses win more contracts with the federal government. One provision of the law signed by President Obama on January 2 is particularly promising for women small business owners. It removes caps on the dollar amounts of awards for which women-owned businesses are eligible.

    Not only have government agencies consistently failed to meet the goal to award 23 percent of contracts to small businesses, but they also failed to meet the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program goal to award 5 percent of contracting dollars to women-owned businesses. In 2011, the first year of the program, federal agencies awarded $16.8 billion in contracts to women-owned small businesses, which accounted for only 3.98 percent of federal contract dollars, according to the Small Business Administration.

    Advocates say the caps—$6.5 million for

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  • 9 tips for getting government contract dollars

    As founder of Government Business Solutions, Lourdes Martin-Rosa is a small business owner who has been generating income from government contracts for a decade. Her $3+ million company provides event management and human resources solutions to government agencies. Eager to help other women business owners do the same, she has been advocating on behalf of the women’s procurement program for 12 years and serves as an American Express OPEN advisor on government contracting.

    Contracting can be a lucrative revenue booster for women-owned small businesses, Martin-Rosa says. “It can be very important to have a strong customer like the federal government.” In fact, while fewer than 2 percent of all small businesses that contract with the government generate revenues in excess of $1 million, 42 percent of women-owned small business contractors generate that much or more, according to recent American Express OPEN government contracting survey.

    But there are 83 industries (see WOSB program

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  • Waiting for the equity-based crowdfunding story to start

    Had you asked any entrepreneurship observers six months ago to predict the top small business stories of 2013, equity-based crowdfunding would surely have been on the list. Now, many fear the story might be delayed another year, or worse, end before it ever started.

    The new practice that would allow unaccredited investors to take stakes in small startups through online portals was made legal by the JOBS Act last April. Not to be confused with donation-based crowdfunding—which entrepreneurs and inventors such as Jonathan Lansey have been using successfully for several years—equity-based crowdfunding would allow funders to reap a financial return on investments or loans that help startup businesses get off the ground. Pioneers of a new equity and debt-based crowdfunding sector pounced on the opportunity and prepared for the law to take effect in 2013.

    But to their disappointment, the Securities and Exchange Commission has failed to issue the rules that were mandated by the Act to open

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