Blog Posts by Adrienne Burke

  • National small business week interview: American Express

    Small Business SaturdayTwenty-five years ago, American Express was the first company in the financial services sector to create a team and business unit dedicated to serving small businesses and offering small-business-specific products. Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, Senior Vice President of Customer Marketing and Experience for American Express OPEN, says those years’ experience and time spent getting to know the needs of small businesses is what inspired American Express to broaden its focus beyond offering credit cards to giving small businesses tools and resources that can enable them to do more business and grow.

    In this exclusive National Small Business Week interview with Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, Reilly shared American Express OPEN’s insights about small businesses in the U.S.

    How important do you think small businesses are to the overall economy?

    According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses create more than half of U.S. jobs and more than half of our $11.7 trillion GDP.

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  • Consciousness raising for startup success

    Asked what business tasks they could do better, "being more efficient" was top on the list of one in five entrepreneurs who responded to a recent national survey of small businesses. A cluttered calendar, daily distractions, and an overwhelming to-do list can keep any busy business owner from succeeding, and time management tips like the ones we shared here last week can help you streamline your schedule.

    An uncluttered mind is key to entrepreneurial success

    But getting control of your time is just one of three steps that business coach Linda Tomb recommends to business owners who seek greater success. Hand-in-hand with clearing the clutter from your calendar goes clearing the clutter from your mind, she says.

    Tomb's consultancy, Unleash Your Business, helps women entrepreneurs "grow a small business into a big business…with heart." In part two of our three-part "Time, Focus, Money" interview with Tomb, she says, "Focus is about taking charge of the thoughts that are occupying your brain. You can work till you drop but still be

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  • Best candidate for business? Entrepreneurs divided

    Small business owners are split

    With regard to who is the better candidate for small businesses, President Barack Obama has only a slight edge over Governor Mitt Romney, according to a survey of small business owners commissioned by Office Depot. The Office Depot Small Business Index, conducted in April and released today, revealed that 53 percent of small business owners see the current President as the top small business advocate, while 47 percent chose the former Massachusetts Governor.

    The Internet-based national survey, which interviewed 1,002 owners of businesses with between 1 and 99 employees, also asked respondents how they feel about the state of their business. Compared to a year ago, more small business owners say they are "much more or slightly more optimistic." There has been a drop in optimism, however, from January 2012. Survey interviews are conducted monthly.

    The survey also asked about measures of success. Most respondents define success as "being profitable" (73 percent); "having a work-life

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  • How Does Your State Rate on Small Business Friendliness?

    How does your state rank on small business friendliness? If you run a business in California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, or Vermont you probably aren't saying "great." Those states all got failing grades in a recent national poll.

    Giving the grades were more than 6,000 small business owners who were surveyed by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation. Business owners were asked about the economic health of their businesses, their state’s overall friendliness towards small businesses, its regulations, and the availability of networking/training programs there. Thumbtack.com, a provider of online local services search directories, translated the answers into a point system and awarded small-business friendliness grades to 45 states and 40 cities.

    The survey data, released this week, could be “used by would-be entrepreneurs to decide where to start their companies and by governments to determine where they excel and where they can improve,” Thumbtack.com suggests.
     
    The results, presented in a

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  • Go from Frazzled to Focused: Five Time-Management Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

    Linda Tomb says to start your business day being still.

    Having once birthed a baby and a business in the same month, Linda Tomb knows a thing or two about the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs and working moms face. After a decades-long business career, during which she helped to expand a chimney sweep service across three states, launched three high-tech companies, and secured several million dollars in venture funding for a dot-com startup, Tomb turned her attention to helping other women figure out how to balance life and motherhood with business ownership.

    Today, as owner of Unleash Your Business, Tomb offers one-on-one and group coaching targeted at female entrepreneurs. Though she has come to the conclusion that "there's no magic pill—every working woman needs to arrive at her own tailored solution for achieving balance and flow," Tomb says there are some issues that trip up just about everyone. So she's devised a three-step free teleseminar to help. It's called "Time, Focus, Money: The Three Step Solution to Unleash Your

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  • Crowdfunding a Promising Option for Businesses Seeking Loans and Investors, Report Indicates

    Equity- and debt-based crowdfunding could help U.S. businesses

    We've reported here about the JOBS Act, which is designed to make it possible for small businesses and startups to use social media and friends-and-family networks to raise investment or debt-based capital through "crowdfunding." U.S. entrepreneurs won't be able to take full advantage of this practice until the SEC establishes rules (expected by January 2013), but a report released yesterday shows the significant amounts of money organizations around the world have already raised using several different crowdfunding approaches.

    According to the crowdfunding research firm massolution, 452 crowdfunding platforms worldwide raised a total of $1.5 billion for more than 1 million campaigns in 2011. Massolution reports that the majority of those campaigns were in the donation-based crowdfunding category, which is unregulated in the U.S., and that North America was the largest market for fundraising with $837 million raised by 532,000 campaigns.

    But outside of the U.S., in places where

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  • Dr. Phil on starting a business: passion is currency, patience is crucial

    Dr. Phil says passion and patience are the keys to success in starting your own business. The celebrity mental-health professional should know. His 10-year reign as the popular daytime-television life coach might make him seem more entertainer than entrepreneur, but Phil McGraw is a small business success story.

    The former clinical psychologist spent 25 years in private practice, including more than a decade running a Texas forensics litigation consultancy that won Oprah Winfrey as a client, before switching gears to devote himself to a startup media business. Today Dr. Phil has more than 1,500 hours of national television programming to his credit, as well as numerous awards, and 21 Emmy nominations. He has also penned six New York Times bestsellers, which he markets alongside 30 more books and audio products as a Yahoo! Small Business customer with Dr. Phil’s Online Bookstore.

    In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Small Business, which you can view in its entirety below, or see

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  • How to get beyond the fear of being your own boss

    Conquer your inner saboteur

    "Fear is the biggest reason people don't start their own businesses," says Paska Nayden, a business coach in Fairfield County, Conn., who serves a national clientele. "Fear comes into play when you're making any kind of life change, such as getting married, starting a family, or switching careers. And it becomes louder when you're considering starting or buying your own business," she says.

    After a 30-year career at IBM, Nayden faced her own fears when she decided to leave the corporate world for home-based work with more flexible hours. Even her mother urged her to stay with an employer, but she has succeeded in carving out a niche as a coach who helps people explore options in franchise ownership. As much counselor as coach, Nayden has, through surviving three debilitating battles with cancer, honed a talent for showing others the way to face frightening, life changing events. I spoke with her about how she helps would-be entrepreneurs overcome fear.

    YSBA: When it comes to starting

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  • Do Romney’s 10 Deliverables Address Your Small Business?

    Mitt Romney (photo credit: Gage Skidmore via flickr)

    The economy, and in particular small business, has taken center stage in the Presidential campaigns this week. Mitt Romney and President Obama both took the opportunity to emphasize how bad the other is for the growth of US businesses.

    An Obama campaign ad released this week accuses Romney of outsourcing American jobs to Mexico, China, and India and argues that the corporate tax breaks Romney wants will go to aid the companies that still do.

    Romney told crowds along the campaign trail that President Obama's policies have made life more difficult for entrepreneurs, and said the administration is "anti-small business."

    Meanwhile, a new seven-minute Obama campaign video declares that the President rescued the auto industry, created 4.1 million new private sector jobs in the last 25 months, and brought middle class taxes to historic lows.

    But a Romney campaign ad, called Broken Promises, points out that the nation's total public debt has reached a record $15.6 trillion under this

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  • Small business owners say clean energy policies are good for growth

    Clean air standards are good for business, survey says

    A majority of small business owners in six U.S. states support EPA standards and believe they're conducive to job creation and economic growth. That's according to results of a survey of 600 small business owners in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia commissioned by the Small Business Majority, an advocacy group focused on policies that create jobs and maximize business opportunities and cost savings for small businesses.

    Although more than half of survey respondents said their businesses would be impacted by EPA oversight of greenhouse gas emissions, more than three-quarters agreed that EPA should determine limits on new power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, and 56 percent support EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, even if it would bring increased utility prices. More than 80 percent surveyed support new EPA requirements to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxics from power plants.

    "Across all industries and at

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