Blog Posts by Adrienne Burke

  • Economic uncertainty plagues small businesses, survey shows

    source: NSBA 2012 Midyear Economic Report

    "The constant barrage of negative campaigning and near-complete failure of Washington to govern is having a broad, negative effect on America's small businesses," according to National Small Business Association President and CEO Todd McCracken. NSBA today released its mid-year economic report, which reveals that, since the organization's December 2011 year-end report, the number of small-business owners who anticipate a recessionary economy has jumped from 14 percent to 34 percent and the number who anticipate economic expansion in the coming 12 months has dropped from 20 percent to 11 percent.

    Still, more than half of respondents (55 percent) expect a flat economy in the coming year and the same ratio says their businesses are already growing or will see growth opportunities in the coming year.

    Economic uncertainty was cited by 68 percent of small business owners surveyed as the most significant challenge to the future growth and survival of their business. Other significant

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  • Why every entrepreneur should build a personal brand

    Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding

    Whether you're a lawyer, a landscaper, or a lactation consultant, if you're in business for yourself Dan Schawbel says you should be using personal branding to attract business opportunities.

    Schawbel is the 28-year-old managing partner of Millennial Branding who has, by practicing his own advice, become a bestselling author, syndicated columnist, and nationally sought-after speaker on digital marketing. His target audience is his own Generation Y peers, but his followers, including 127,000 on Twitter, transcend generations. His hero and inspiration is Tom Peters, whose management book In Search of Excellence was published before Schawbel was born.

    Peters himself has said that Schawbel "has taken personal branding to a dimension a million miles beyond where I was." Schawbel credits the technologies that have become available since Peters' heyday. Social networking platforms make it affordable for individuals to leverage the same strategies marketers have used for decades to build

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  • How a tech savvy new mom runs a mobile office

    AdoraPet owner YiShaun Yang says accepting mobile payments has greatly increased her sales.

    As a young corporate attorney, YiShaun Yang dreamed of creating a business that would contribute to society by fostering a love of reading in children. She broke out of the corporate world faster than many with such aspirations, launching her book publishing company AdoraPet before age 30. By the time she had her first child this year at age 32, she had sold thousands of books and was operating in the black.

    Her experience as a solo home-based entrepreneur and traveling saleswoman has made her an evangelist for technologies that have enabled her to be flexible and do business anywhere. In particular she is a fan of mobile payment technology.

    Yang's pocket-sized books, priced at $5.95 each, detail the adventures of Pima and Pico, puppy characters that visit the dentist, work on the farm, fight fires, meet mermaids, play as pirates, and explore space. She sells the eight-book series on her company website, at Amazon, in some bookstores, and at gift fairs and conventions in New York City

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  • #StartupLab engages young entrepreneurs to mentor peers

    StartupLab will offer entrepreneurial mentorship on Facebook

    The Young Entrepreneur Council with funding from Citi today launched #StartupLab, the beta version of a free online program that will engage age-40-and-under business founders to mentor fellow entrepreneurs.

    The program, developed in partnership with dozens of colleges, business organizations, and government agencies, will offer aspiring and existing business owners access to online mentorship via interactive video chats, how-to content, and weekly email lessons. Participating organizations will be able to request in-person mentorship events with young entrepreneurs.

    Young Entrepreneur Council founder Scott Gerber says the program aims to disrupt and democratize the delivery of business mentoring. "We need to get smarter about how we connect with people at the right stage to ensure the right outcome. This is the beginning of a new trend in the digital dissemination of mentorship resources," Gerber says, adding that the initiative is also a step toward alleviating youth joblessness and

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  • Romney’s 5 steps target business, but lack detail

    Romney's acceptance speech offered a 5-step plan for recovery

    Republicans trotted out two more entrepreneurs at the GOP convention last night to reinforce the party's argument that Mitt Romney's business experience makes him better suited than the incumbent to turn around the American economy and create better conditions for businesses.

    When Governor Romney at last took the stage to accept his party's nomination, he too emphasized what he called President Obama's lack of understanding about entrepreneurship and job creation, and outlined his own five-step plan to create 12 million American jobs. The plan was short on details, and at least one report this morning points out that economic analysts predict a gain of 12 million jobs by 2016 regardless of who is in office.

    But a poll of 250 small business owners conducted this summer by Yahoo! and IpsosMediaCT showed that Romney is the candidate favored by more small business owners. And the key issues of concern to those polled are the same ones Romney promised in his speech to address.


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  • Businessman says Romney would boost exports

    photo credit: sakamencho via flickr

    GOP conventioneers appeared to take a break to mill around between speeches by Ohio Senator Rob Portman and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty last night. What they missed was Ohio businessman Steven Cohen's speech explaining how American businesses would benefit from a Romney administration.

    Cohen is President of Screen Machine Industries, Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of construction and mining machinery—portable crushers, screeners, trommels, and conveyors—in North America with dealers worldwide. In July, Governor Romney made a campaign tour stop and speech at the 45-year-old family-run business' Pataskala, Ohio, plant. Cohen returned the favor with a visit to Tampa, Fla., to voice his support for a Romney presidency.

    Cohen stressed that business people like him "need a president who will protect America's patented inventions, guard the value of our currency, and open up new markets for American products."

    Patent protection is a big concern for Cohen, who said products

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  • Top traits of college students who launch startups

    Yale Entrepreneurial Institute helps college students launch startups

    For undergraduate students with a yen for starting their own business, a Yale Entrepreneurial Institute summer fellowship can be a true career igniter. Fellows selected from the Ivy League university's student body receive a stipend, mentorship, legal and accounting advice, and access to Yale's alumni network of successful entrepreneurs and investors.

    Established in 2007, the YEI, as it's known on the New Haven, Conn., campus, has helped launch close to 100 companies, 52 of which are currently active. Among the successful startups to its credit: an online wedding resource for brides-to-be, a forest inventory management software business, and an early-stage medical diagnostics company. Many YEI fellows launch their businesses while simultaneously pursuing full-time studies.

    Yahoo! Small Business Advisor spoke recently with YEI Director James Boyle and Program Manager Alena Gribskov, who both had real-world entrepreneurship experience before joining YEI's leadership, about what makes

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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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