• Tips for invoicing, getting started and a free class: Small Business Reading

    Business IdeasBusiness Ideas

    As most children in the US head back to school and colleges also gear up for a new incoming class, the signs are that Summer is soon going to be over and it's time to gear up for the Fall and holiday seasons ahead. With that in mind we have a mixed bag of content this week including some extra tips around invoicing, getting started in business, creating great content for your business online, how customer feedback can change your business and a free class on business growth.

    We do still have elections ahead so we took a look at what small businesses want to see from policymakers as well.

    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.

    Here are some of the other good small business articles we

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  • Is the interview going well?Is the interview going well?

    By Ramit Sethi

    We are terrible at interviewing. We walk into the interview room without preparing. We spend time worrying about "trick questions" and about what shirt we should wear, instead of the things that really matter. Worst of all, we believe an interview is intended for us to simply answer the questions that the interviewer gives us.

    I say this as someone who's sat on both sides of the table: as a candidate, interviewing against some of the world's toughest companies (like Google and a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund), and as a hiring manager.

    Yet once you can master the interview process, you can secure job offers against other candidates who have many years more experience than you. In today's economy, knowing how to interview is a killer skill.

    That starts with knowing what to avoid doing in a job interview, or what I call "5 Interview Killers."

    1. "I just sort of... and then... and like... and uh... yeah."

    If you ramble, you lose.

    Think back to when you last met someone

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  • How business owners can go back to school for free

    Darden, Wharton, and Stanford are among top-rate business schools offering online courses for free

    Has back-to-school season got you thinking that having some business education under your belt might help you grow your company? Join the club.

    Since it was announced August 7, more than 12,000 people have already registered for a free online course being offered in January by University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business through Coursera.

    "Grow To Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Business" will be taught by Darden professor Edward Hess, author of several books on entrepreneurship. The five-week course promises lessons that will help you scale your business successfully as well as better manage your life. Hess' four Ps—planning, prioritization, process, and pace—and his "gas pedal approach to growth" apply equally to growing your business and yourself, he says.

    "Growth is a zigzag, detour, making mistakes, up and down process," Hess says in an engaging video introduction to the course. "Too much growth too fast not properly managed can destroy your business. This

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  • Four indicators of small business improvement

    Van sales are an indicator of small business optimism

    Things are looking up for small business, according to a variety of economic indicators released recently. Here are four pieces of good news, with caveats, published in various outlets:

    1. Seed funding for startups is up. Way up, in fact, Crain's New York Business reports today: "Venture funding for companies in their very earliest stages has seen a steep increase over the past two years. Dow Jones VentureSource measured a 52 percent increase in venture-capital seed investments nationally in 2011 compared with 2010. A report last month by research firm CB Insights found that quarterly seed-stage funding for Internet companies has jumped dramatically over the past 10 quarters. In the first quarter of 2010, there were 20 seed deals; in the second quarter of 2012, there were 111, more than five times as many."

    Crain's report describes two tech startups that have raised $600,000 and $2 million in seed funding, but acknowledges a downside to the trend: "The amount of money for larger

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  • Policymakers’ top priority? Business owners cite several

    Small business owners name top issues they'd like policymakers to address

    What one issue affecting your business would you like to see policymakers address? Yahoo! Small Business Advisor posed that question to 250 small business owners in a recent survey.

    We reported last week on the results of the full survey, which indicate that Governor Romney will capture significantly more votes from small business owners than will President Obama at the polls in November.

    But the most common replies to our open-ended question revealed that small business owners are fed up with government as a whole. Respondents focused on taxes, regulations, access to capital, healthcare, and jobs and the economy as the issues they'd like to see policymakers address. Several suggested drastic measures for doing away with politics as usual in Washington, and some said they have little hope in politicians' ability to effect useful change.

    Many respondents had a hard time zeroing in on a single issue. Wrote one business owner, "I would like to see regulations eased so that the economy

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  • Small Business Reading – elections, elections, SEO and building online stores

    The country is slowly gearing up for the election season ahead and small business owners now have a clearer picture of the choices ahead of them now that Paul Ryan has been picked as Mitt Romney's running mate. We took an extensive look at the elections this week, including the results of a big survey we fielded with small business owners that basically showed that Romney is favored by small business owners but not overwhelmingly, that the economy is a big issue for all small business owners, that government roadblocks are seen as a big problem and that the issue of healthcare reform and how it affects small businesses is very divisive. We also took a look at new VP candidate Paul Ryan's attitudes to small business and how his pick affects people's opinions of the race.

    In other, non-election news we also provided some feedback from our customer summit for Yahoo! Small Business merchants. One piece was on ten tips for running an online store and the other was general advice about SEO

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  • SEO for Ecommerce after Panda and Penguin

    Targeting CustomersTargeting Customers

    We recently held a small summit and conference for some of our own customers who use the Yahoo! Merchant Solutions product. It's one of the leading ecommerce platforms and a great way to build your own online store - go take a look here.

    Across the two days of the summit we heard a great deal of advice about SEO and here is a summary from several of the panels.

    How to think about SEO now

    The changes that Google has been making in its search algorithms (and similar changes are taking place at Bing) are all designed to enhance the value of results and find more accurate results that are original and really address the search topic. That means that original content that is clearly naturally created is valued more highly - and that certain kinds of content that Google has identified are devalued. What Google is looking for are the following - is the content written by an expert? Does the page provide substantial value? Does it contain original content? Does it provide description and

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  • Early poll: Ryan doesn’t change small biz vote

    Romney-Ryan ticket has small biz vote

    Many small business owners are still learning what Mitt Romney's running mate stands for. But an early poll indicates that, so far, Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican VP candidate isn't influencing small business votes one way or another.

    In a Manta poll of more than 1,900 small business owners in early August, a significant majority—61 percent—said they plan to vote for Governor Romney on November 6. Manta polled 550 of those respondents again on Monday this week to ask whether Ryan's selection would sway their vote. The percent in favor of Romney changed no more than the survey's margin of error, a Manta spokeswoman told Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. Thirty percent said they plan to vote for Obama.

    The stats might change as business owners get to know Ryan. "With his Path for Prosperity, Congressman Ryan has gotten notoriety, but I'm not sure our members will know him off the top of their head," said Kristie Arslan, president and CEO of the National Association for the Self

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  • Advocate for self-employed argues for tax deductions

    NASE wants permanent full deductions for health insurance premiums for the self-employed

    Both presidential campaigns say they're best for small business, but Kristie Arslan says neither has backed up the claim with substantive plans. "They've never been specific on any of the priorities for the 21 million self-employed Americans," Arslan, president and CEO of the National Association for the Self Employed, wrote in the Huffington Post on Friday.

    Arslan challenged both candidates to respond to three of her organization's requests for specific tax deductions for the self-employed:

    1. Will you support the permanent, full deduction of health insurance premiums for the self-employed so that the self-employed will no longer pay annually, on average, nearly $1,800 in additional taxes than other business owners?

    2. Will you support legislation to make the tax deduction for startup expenses permanent, instead of letting the provision expire at the end of this year?

    3. Will you support legislation to simplify the home office deduction for home-based businesses, by allowing the

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  • What Paul Ryan wants for small business

    Paul Ryan proposes a Path to Prosperity

    In the two days since he was named GOP vice presidential candidate, most media attention has addressed Congressman Paul Ryan's proposals for overhauling Medicare, Medicaid, and other social services. But what does Governor Romney's choice of running mate mean for small business?

    Ryan has said he wants to let "individuals keep more of the money they earn and restore the certainty needed for families and businesses to plan for the future."

    Key points of his Path to Prosperity proposal included that "the free enterprise system is being stifled by an epidemic of crony politics and government overreach that has weakened confidence in the nation's institutions and its economy." His plan, he said, "revisits flawed financial-reform regulations and eliminates provisions that make future bailouts of Wall Street insiders more likely."

    In March, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he is in favor of spurring "economic growth with bold tax reform—eliminating complexity for individuals and

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