Profit Minded
  • Program pays small businesses to hire injured federal workers

    Would you seek out a new hire who was home with an injury collecting workers’ compensation insurance? What if the government paid you to?

    Partnership for Employment, an initiative of the nonpartisan group Women Impacting Public Policy, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, is designed to incentivize small businesses to hire government workers who are unable to return to their jobs due to an injury.

    WIPP board member Lisa Firestone, who has coordinated the pilot phase of the Partnership for Employment, calls it a “win-win-win” for government, small business, and injured workers.

    As the President and owner of Managed Care Advisors, Firestone’s specialty is assisting with the recovery and return to work of injured federal employees. As a government contractor, she also knows well the challenges of small businesses. Winning a contract can mean you need to staff up quickly. “Small businesses don’t have their own

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  • How a billionaire is changing small business owners’ lives

    Aileron founder Clay Mathile

    Clay Mathile says he feels deep gratitude for two groups of people: those who risk their own capital to create jobs, and the mentors who helped him do the same as owner and CEO of the IAMS Company.

    So, since selling that dog and cat nutrition business to Procter & Gamble for $2.3 billion in 1999, Mathile has gone to great lengths to show his appreciation by helping other business owners be successful. He invested more than $150 million to transform the former “Iams University” employee-training program into Aileron, a nonprofit organization with a mission to ”unleash the potential of private businesses through professional management.” Today, more than 10,000 people a year visit the 70,000-square foot Aileron facility on a 114-acre campus in Tipp City, Ohio, for a variety of management training courses delivered by consultants who have all run their own businesses.

    Business owners who have taken the two-day President’s Course say the experience has been transformative. “Life changing

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  • Marketplace Fairness? Starting a Business? Small Business Reading for May 3, 2013


    The Marketplace

    Small businesses are anxiously following the progress of the 'Marketplace Fairness Act' through the legislative process - it's due to be voted on by the Senate on May 6th and then will go to the House. Basically the bill is going to make all online purchases subject to sales tax no matter what. Essentially if you live in a state with sales tax your purchase will be subject to the sales tax where you live. Currently you only pay sales tax on online purchases if the business in question has a brick-and-mortar location in your state. The new law is a simplification of the current situation but is staunchly opposed by online retailers - and just as staunchly supported by states in dire need of revenue who are annoyed at sites like Amazon and Ebay. It is worth noting that the bill is supported by President Obama but is expected to have a tough time in the House. It is also worth noting that a lot of large brick-and-mortar retailers without large online presences also support the new act.

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  • How to turn social values into a valuable business

    It’s been several decades since big companies started proving that earning profits and being socially responsible are not mutually exclusive. Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Whole Foods come to mind. And IBM, HP, and Sprint topped the Daily Beast’s 2012 list of American green companies.

    But is it affordable for even the smallest businesses to earn a living while being socially and environmentally conscious? Susan Chambers says yes. Her new book, Small Business, Big Change: A Microentrepeneur's Guide to Social Responsibility, offers steps that owners of business with fewer than 10 employees can take to align their life's work with their spiritual and social values.

    Chambers, a writer and editor who is passionate about helping businesses to become agents of social change, provides case studies of numerous microbusinesses that adopted sustainable values. In their choices of vendors, clients, product materials, packaging, employee policies, community service, and more, each company is making

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  • Small business owners with retirement plans are saving more for retirement than average American workers, a Fidelity analysis indicates

    So many Americans are unprepared for the costs of retirement that some predict a looming crisis. But small business owners and their employees who put money into retirement accounts might be in better shape than most.

    In an analysis of the balances of 200,000 small business accounts that utilized its SEP-IRA, Self-Employed 401(k), or SIMPLE-IRA plans, Fidelity Investments found that the plans saw an average balance increase of 20 percent between January 2007 and December 2012. Since a 2008 low point, balances have jumped an average of 64 percent, the brokerage reports.

    The Employee Benefit Research Institute reported last month that less than half of American workers “appear to be taking the basic steps needed to prepare for retirement.” While only 13 percent of American workers are “very confident” they will have enough savings to live comfortably after stopping work, only 66 percent report that they or their spouses have saved for retirement at all, according to EBRI’s 2013

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  • What to do while waiting for equity crowdfunding to come

    This time last year, the business press was abuzz with equity-based crowdfunding fanfare. Yahoo! Small Business was no exception. According to the JOBS Act, the SEC was to have established rules by January of this year 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."

    Equity based-crowdfunding platforms sprouted up, and members of the sector aligned within new industry-standards organizations, ready to serve cash-strapped small businesses as soon as Washington gave the go-ahead. But the rules have yet to come.

    Elizabeth Smith Kulik, founder and CEO of the crowdfunding platform ProHatch, says she’s not surprised. “A lot of the delay is just the regulatory process, review periods, and comment periods.” Sure, Congress gave the SEC 270 days for rulemaking. “But that was if everything was running on all cylinders. We’ve had an election year and a new SEC chair appointed

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  • Shaking the Bode Tree: VCs and Entrepreneurs “failing-on”

    The king is dead. Long live the king.

    As an avid football fan, I am constantly befuddled by how losing coaches actually get hired by other teams. And, I am not talking about the exceptional coach that just had a few bad seasons. I am talking about the habitual losers. You know the ones - that guy you pray gets hired by your arch-nemesis. Take, for example, Dick Jauron. During his head coaching tenure with the Bears, he put up an “impressive” 35 wins against 45 losses (.438 win percentage). He had one winning season during the entire 5 years he was with the Bears. A year later, he gets hired as the Buffalo Bills head coach. What did Buffalo get for this omnipotent choice? An “outstanding” 24-33 record (.421 win percentage) for the next four years and not one winning season. To be fair, the four years prior, the team went 28-36 (.438 win percentage). Buffalo may just be a glutton for punishment.

    What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? It is the surprising willingness (or, even requirement) by VCs to generally only

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  • If you search for time management books on Amazon, you’ll find 106,960 results demonstrating the universal need for help managing this limited resource. Teaching people how to manage their time is an industry in itself, but every one of us can benefit from the valuable skills they provide.

    We all struggle with managing our time and controlling those things that steal our time. Things like unproductive emails, Internet search rabbit trails or conversations that go off on time-wasting tangents are all examples of things we do that rob us of one of the most valuable resources we have – our time.

    Personal time management dictates how well we can juggle our work responsibilities with our home and social obligations. However, time management skills for entrepreneurs and business leaders alike are critical to organizational success. The most successful organizations have figured out the importance of helping people spend time on those things that align with strategic objectives.

    A recent

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  • Benchmark your small business and win the horse race

    Winning the Race

    Maybe it’s an inherent competitiveness or just the pursuit of improvement, but it’s commonplace for people to seek out benchmarks they can use to assess their relative position or performance. It interests people to know how they compare to their peers. Benchmarks have a place in business, too, and can be an invaluable instrument to help business owners succeed.
    Think about running a business like having a horse running in a horse race. Knowing how a company ranks relative to others—before the starting bell, halfway through the race and right before its conclusion—empowers management to evaluate the company’s performance. Armed with that contextual information, they can potentially adapt strategy and affect the company’s final ranking (if there is a “final ranking” at all in business).

    Where to begin?

    The most difficult step in financial benchmarking is acquiring benchmarks to use. Part of the difficulty stems from ambiguity around the word “benchmark”, which could be interpreted as

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  • How a business can succeed without a boss

    Your business without a boss? If you’re in management, you might not find the idea as thrilling as many beleaguered workers would. But, believe it or not, there are companies that run quite well without anyone in charge. (Some of these have been described recently in articles including Inc’s A Billion Dollar Company with No Bosses?, the Wall Street Journal’s Who’s the Boss? There Isn’t One, and management guru Gary Hamel’s Harvard Business Review essay, First, Let’s Fire All the Managers.)

    To imagine a bossless workplace, and understand why and how to create one, Michelle Benjamin, CEO of Benjamin Enterprises and TalentReady, a company that offers strategic talent management solutions, suggests first defining what a boss is. According to, it’s “a person who employs or superintends workers.” But that definition falls short. “It lacks purpose. It doesn’t say what are we trying to achieve,” Benjamin says.

    She believes “the true role of the boss is to communicate the

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(443 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

Editor for Yahoo! Small Business

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