May 2011 Archives

May 10, 2011

Secrets of Chinese Business Owners' Success

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few months, you've probably heard of Amy Chua's infamous book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. After reading the book, small business owner and mother Barbara Taylor wondered if there were parallels between how the Chinese raise their children and how they run their businesses. For her article, Battle Hymn of the Small-Business Tiger Mother, Taylor talked to a number of Chinese business owners in the U.S. What did she learn? In essence, successful Chinese businesses are steered by two principles. The first, avoid debt and manage expenses. Second, expect and demand excellence.

More detail is offered in the following pithy five-point motto:
  1. Every penny matters.
  2. Everyone has to earn his or her keep and add value.
  3. Appreciation of the asset is the driver.
  4. No excuses for failure.
  5. Set goals high and achieve them.
Print those five points out and stick them on your refrigerator. Now go forth and prosper!
May 4, 2011

Woman-owned Businesses: Uncle Sam Wants You

If your small business is woman-owned, the federal government wants to do business with you. After ten years and countless revisions, the U.S. Small Business Administration recently adopted a final rule creating the Women-Owned Small Business Program, offering special incentives for women-owned companies to participate in the $500 billion federal marketplace. Later this year, federal agencies are expected to begin setting aside up to 5% of procurement dollars--more than $20 billion annually--exclusively for competition among woman-owned small businesses.

To qualify as a woman-owned small business for federal contracting purposes, your company must meet three primary criteria:

  1. It must be "small" under the North American Industrial Classification System ("NAICS") code applicable to the procurement. For more on calculating your company's size, see Nolo's article Federal Small Business Contract Eligibility: Is Your Business 'Small'?
  2. It must be at least 51% unconditionally "owned" by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. If, for instance, ownership of a company is split 50/50 between a husband and wife, the company will not qualify.
  3. One or more women who are U.S. citizens must "control" the company's management and daily business operations. To satisfy this requirement, a woman must hold the company's highest officer position, have sufficient experience to effectively manage the company, and work for the company full-time during normal working hours of companies in the same line of work.
If you decide to participate in the Women-Owned Small Business Program, you should carefully review and, if necessary, amend your business's governing documents (such as bylaws, operating agreements, and shareholders' agreements) to ensure that women unconditionally own and control the company. Supermajority voting requirements, for instance, might cause your business to be ineligible.

Despite the red tape, the Women-Owned Small Business program promises to provide substantial contracting benefits to woman-owned companies in the federal marketplace. If your company is woman-owned, now might be a good time to think about adding Uncle Sam to your customer list.

By: Guest blogger Steven Koprince, an attorney with PilieroMazza PLLC in Washington D.C. Mr. Koprince's practice emphasizes government contracts and small business law.
May 3, 2011

7th Annual SF Small Business Week

The 7th annual San Francisco Small Business Week is scheduled for May 16th through 21st. It is part of a national celebration of small businesses and entrepreneurs. The event is free and consists of a series of educational workshops, seminars, and networking opportunities designed to educate and connect the business community.

Most of the educational offerings will take place at the downtown campus of SF State University at the Westfield Center on Market Street between 4th & 5th Streets. There are dozens of seminars and workshops including Marketing & PR: Strategies, Plans, Tactics; Do You Have an Effective Website for Your Business? and Hiring Smart - The Right People, in the Right Seats, Doing the Right Things. For more information, go to the SF Small Business website at www.sfsmallbusinessweek.com.

May 2, 2011

Managing Your Social Media Presence on the Internet

Small businesses used to market primarily through print ads in newspapers, radio, and the spoken word of mouth. No longer. Social media and the Internet have taken over as the most powerful, far reaching, and accessible marketing tools for small businesses. The most popular social media sites include Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook--but there are many other ways to market and promote your business online.

With the ability to reach out so widely and effectively online comes the burden of having to monitor and manage this open communication about your business. To help with this, a new crop of social media management technologies has emerged. These technologies troll the Internet and sort, consolidate, streamline, and store information about your business found on social media sites. Not only can this save precious time, it can be crucial for helping to monitor and manage your online branding and marketing.

People are also starting to appreciate the possible legal significance of sorting and saving this information.  As stated in a recent New York Times article by Tanzina Vega, "Someone may get sued for the content of their social media or the information in the social media may be relevant to the suit . . . If you haven't preserved it, you've lost it."