All Articles Tagged "small business"

Small Business-Friendly Cities: Where To Move Your Startup For Success

October 11th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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According to the U.S. Small Business Administration more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. The stats aren’t too encouraging, but there may be something you can do to give your new firm a fighting chance.

Want to give your small business a better chance of thriving? Move. Some cities are more small business-friendly according to a new report from credit card comparison website CardHub.

CardHub’s study examined the 30 largest metropolitan areas around the country and ranked each city’s small business work environment based on 10 criteria, including small business job growth, salaries for new hires, cost of living and stress index, reports The Huffington Post.

The list is surprising. Minneapolis and San Antonio, for example, beat out Los Angeles and Chicago to make the top 10. And bankrupt Detroit came in last out of all 30 cities.

Phoenix and Riverside, Calif.,  were among the cities with the fastest growing small business communities, but they ranked among the bottom 10 for work environment. Here are the top three:

1. Denver: Number of businesses with 20 employees or less–51,938
2. Boston: Number of businesses with 20 employees or less–84,781
3. Minneapolis: Number of businesses with 20 employees or less–61,523
In the top 10, Kansas City landed in the last slot. It has 32,875 businesses with 20 employees or less.

Seeking A Career In Public Relations? These Takeaways From Our Twitter Chat Could Help

October 4th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Yesterday, MadameNoire Business hosted its first Twitter chat (yay!) with Tia T. Gordon, founder and CEO TTG+Partners, a PR firm specializing in issues of diversity and education. During our hour online, we discussed everything from the current state of public relations to running a small business.

Twitter chats will become a regular part of MN Biz’s features, so keep an eye peeled for notices about them when they happen. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter, which will also have reminders about chats and other events that MN Biz is hosting or participating in. The hashtag for our Twitter chats will be #MNBizchats.

But back to yesterday’s event. There was a great conversation happening yesterday. Here are the highlights.

Help Is On The Way! Small Businesses Struggle With Obamacare

October 2nd, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

From Black Enterprise 

Professional employer organizations (PEOs) are a possible solution to help small companies maneuver through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. With enrollment for health care reform beginning Oct. 1, (shutdown or not) many entrepreneurs are still be wondering how to deal with some of the hard to understand new requirements the law will bring.

Anish Rajparia,  president of ADP ’s Small Business Services division, ADP TotalSource and ADP Retirement Services in Roseland, New Jersey, estimates that now only about 5% to 10% of U.S. small businesses use a PEO. But he believes that at least 30% to 40% of small businesses should consider the tool as an alternative option to help them deal with the many complexities of Obamacare.

PEOs are firms providing services that allow companies to outsource their management of human resource duties, including  employee benefits, payroll, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance claims and other administrative  tasks. The goal: Relieve the PEO client of those functions so the entrepreneur can focus on running the business and increasing the bottom line.


Read more at 

The Pros And Cons Of Working At A Small Company

September 10th, 2013 - By Tanvier Peart
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We hear politicians all the time talking about how small businesses are the heart of this economy. For entrepreneurs across the country, there’s hope that these small businesses will blossom into something long-lasting and prosperous. With tons of people making the decision to pursue their own ventures, there could be a small company near you looking for staffers. The question becomes whether it’s a good idea to work for them.

Honestly speaking, they are not for everybody as some people seek a level of stability that a bigger company can offer. As with everything in life, there are pluses and minuses when it comes to smaller places of business. Here are some pros and cons of working at a small company.

On A Path To A Doctoral Degree, Kevia Jeffrey-West Found Her Calling In Jewelry Design

August 29th, 2013 - By Michelle Alerte
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Love jewelry? Want to be eco-friendly? Then you should know about Kevia Jeffrey-West’s sustainability jewelry and her business, Kevia, a word meaning “beautiful child.” The business officially launched in the winter of 2005, and has grown since, with Jeffrey-West’s designs appearing on TV shows like Desperate Housewives and magazines like InStyle. But before she launched her business, Jeffrey-West was in a PhD fellowship program in education and research and policy at the University of California Santa Barbara Recently. I asked Jeffrey-West some questions in hopes of getting to the heart of  Kevia’s start and its designs.

MadameNoire: How did you become interested in jewelry design?

Kevia Jeffrey-West: While studying in Zimbabwe on an undergraduate study abroad program I walked by a store that sold loose stones. The stones drew me in and I began to collect locally-mined and cut stones, sketch designs, and found local jewelers to make my creations. When I returned two years later to do post-baccalaureate research I again began to design pieces for my personal collection. I am not sure that I would have thought of selling my work if a local boutique hadn’t asked me to make items for their store after they noticed a necklace I was wearing. Designing is definitely my calling.

MN: When did you know jewelry design would be your career?

J-W: In my case, I initially resisted becoming a designer because I had spent most of my energy advancing a career in research. Designing seemed like a risky career move. Luckily, the universe kept pulling me in the direction of fashion and it reached a point where I was making money. I was completely content spending my time designing and my academic work became increasingly hard to prioritize. I took a year off from my doctoral program in 2006 and began working on the business full time. Once I was fully committed, the business took off and continues to grow steadily. Eight years after I designed my first pieces I couldn’t be happier doing anything else.

MN: Describe the growth of your business.

J-W: That this began as a hobby and grew into my lifelong passion and dream still seems surreal to me. Starting with just a small collection for a boutique and growing into a completely sustainable brand that is releasing new styles five times a year is incredible. Our customers are women who each have their own interpretation of every piece. Kevia’s designs simply complement their individual style, which, in my opinion, is the best part about my collection.

MN: How did sustainability come into the picture?

J-W: Sustainability has always been at the core of my philosophies and values, so when I started my line, I knew that I wanted to incorporate these practices into my pieces. Even though I was armed with an education and work experience in environmental policy, I had to learn to apply those principles into the fashion business. Initially, I made each piece domestically, but then realized that most of the raw materials on the market — wire, metal sheets, stone — were being imported from China and India then resold in the U.S. My firsthand experience living in Zimbabwe and witnessing the positive impact fair trade can have in developing countries, prompted me to look for opportunities that would allow me better control of the entire manufacturing process, including the sourcing of raw materials.

‘Dough to Grow’ Contest Helps Small Business Owners Win Capital To Expand Their Companies

August 21st, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Dough to Grow contest


While small businesses are emerging alive and kicking through the Great Recession, obtaining financing for a company continues to be a challenge for owners. But through Valpak’s Dough to Grow contest, small business owners can win prizes totaling $10,000.

Submit a captivating essay illustrating why you need dough to grow and collect votes from family and friends on social media, to nab the first place spot and $7,500. Second and third place winners win $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. The winners are chosen by the following factors: “number of votes, creativity and energy in business growth strategy, demonstration of solid leadership and management, and positive impact of the community,” a press statement says.

The coupon company says it’s stepping in to help the whopping 65 percent of small business owners who are unable to obtain adequate funds for their company.

“At Valpak, we recognize that our local economies depend on small businesses to stay healthy and thrive,” said Michael Vivio, president of Cox Target Media, providers of Valpak.

Last year’s contest winner was a fitness trainer who owned Crossfit Business — with only one client at a park. With his $10,000 award, the former veteran was able to expand his business by purchasing workout equipment and paying a staff in his own facility.

The contest starts on September 1st and ends on October 31st. Winners are selected on November 11th and will be announced on Thanksgiving Day.

The Business Of Creativity: Experienced Artists Offer 6 Tips For Making It As A Freelancer

August 1st, 2013 - By Michelle Alerte
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"Seher Sikandar"

Seher Sikandar via Facebook

Being a freelance anything is a scary proposition. It becomes up to you to generate your own buzz, your own money, and your own business network to keep the dollars flowing. Even more intimidating is the idea of generating a living through art. MadameNoire Business recently sat down with freelance photographer Seher Sikandar and freelance visual artist and illustrator Olalekan Jeyifous (nicknamed Lek) for insight into what it takes to live your passion…and be able to eat at the same time.

1. Learn To Network

For Sikandar, who moved to NY from San Francisco, learning to network has been a particularly important lesson. And when Sikandar talks about networking she doesn’t mean unnatural schmoozing while trying to slip your business card in someone’s back pocket. For this photographer, networking means connecting authentically with friends. Seher advises occasionally shaking off the natural obsession to work and the complacency of staying home and remembering to connect over lunches and gatherings with friends. Keeping them abreast on your freelance goals and efforts makes it possible for someone to suggest you for a project or recall a key person you “just have to meet.” In fact it was a family friend connection that opened the door for Sikandar to NBC’s Lifestyle section and photos capturing Tina Turner and Maxwell in concert. And coffee with a friend’s aunt landed her a major job with Woolite during Fashion Week.

Of course your friends can’t be the only people you talk to, so even when Seher does go to an industry event, it’s best to go alone or meet a friend there. This way while you have someone to anchor you, you are still able to walk around on your own.

For Nigerian-born, Cornell graduate Lek the connections he made during architecture school continue to sustain him. According to Lek people who go to school for architecture end up in such a wide variety of places the possibilities are endless. A school connection opened the door for him to work at DBox in NY, a firm that did a lot of architectural visualization and renderings as well as computer-generated imagery and design for fashion and sports editorials. After four years he broke amiably from the company. And his first freelance architectural clients were small jobs that DBox couldn’t take on and sent his way. Lek’s first mural work with Starbucks in Harlem also started through a school friend From there Lek has created murals for several more Starbucks’ including the flagship store in Chicago, the Barclay’s Center location, and an upcoming store in Times Square.

2. Un-self-conscious Self-Promotion

This was an important and somewhat uncomfortable lesson for both artists. “Even though you’re desperate and need the money, my emails would say, ‘I recently wrapped up a major project and am looking for interesting new work.’ So that it always sounded like I’d just finished doing something amazing,” Lek said laughingly. Additionally, Lek has redone his website to keep it fresh and has also placed his artwork on, a website dedicated to showcasing and discovering creativity that has generated work.

Surprisingly Lek doesn’t use much in the way of social media. His Instagram is linked to his Twitter account allowing him to post once and have the effects regenerated. While he occasionally posts information about an upcoming exhibit or pictures of art, Lek believes it is important to use social media to give people an insight into who you are. He has discovered that clients like to know who you are as a person: what your thoughts are, what you like to do, etc. and that his social media outlets are a way of letting clients not only fall in love with his work but also his easy-going and lighthearted personality.

Looking back Lek admits that at the beginning of his freelance career, self-promotion wasn’t one of his strong suits. He had several large exhibitions where he didn’t mention it to, or invite, anyone. Now Lek proudly states that if he could go back he would mass email everyone he knows, including countless curators and gallery owners, for the purpose of making a further connection and keeping the potential for future shows alive. “It’s a learning curve,” Lek says of what he knows now that he didn’t know then.

As Sikandar so simply put it, “Get over your own fears and hang-ups to market yourself. If they don’t remember you, they can’t offer you the job.” To that end Sikandar uses her Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page to post about her interests in both portrait as well as food photography. She also maintains a personal goal of having a work-related post at least once a week. Even if the work is considered a “work in progress” it’s important to put it out with that label, because what is important is content. Seher is able to generate “sticky” content for her Instagram feed based on her Live Concert photography where she’ll have images of Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna. She has seen first hand the increased likes and followers she gets through her focused social media efforts.

Seher has also worked hard to create a strong website presence. Something that is clean: in font, layout, and minimal sections; and uncluttered. She advises that artists get several professional opinions on their site to ensure that it is not only maneuverable and appealing to you but for others as well. “Remember, people want to align themselves with those they see as being ambitious, productive, and talented,” Seher says.

Analysis Shows More Cyberattacks Target Small Businesses

July 29th, 2013 - By Liz Burr
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From Black Enterprise

Cyber criminals are going after small businesses more than ever, with startups at the greatest risk. Targeted attacks on small businesses increased 42% in 2012 from the previous year, according to a new report by the $6.9 billion security software giant Symantec Corp, headquartered in Mountain View, California.

Symantec’s 2013 Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 18, highlighted cumulative data of attacks in 2012. One of the main findings was that 31% of all targeted attacks are directed at small businesses with less than 250 employees. Moreover, cyber attackers target startups as quickly as two months after a new business sets up its website and exchanges its first emails and instant messages.

For more about the cyber-threats against the nation’s small businesses, click through to Black Enterprise.

Straight Talk: Challenges That Women Face When Starting A Business

July 17th, 2013 - By Erin Bush
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Owning a small business is challenging even in good times, as any entrepreneur will tell you, but the rewards outweigh the difficulties. Women now have the remote control to conquer their destinies through entrepreneurship, earning, owning and making decisions about money every single day. The risk of owning your own enterprise isn’t for everyone, male or female, but women are finding their niche in the empire-building world!

Lending To Small Business Increases But The Loans Are Smaller

July 16th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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There is good news and bad news when it comes to the state of funding for small businesses. A new report finds that even though the U.S. is still in a recession, small business lending conditions have been slowly improving. However, the size of the loans is getting smaller.

According to a new annual report on bank lending to small businesses published by the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy,  while the number of loans to businesses in general has been increasing since mid-2009, lending to small firms has been slower to bounce back and the average small business loan size has continued to decline, reports Yahoo!

“I can report that the overall picture looks better than it did a year ago. Although lending to small businesses was still down, the decline was less than in 2010 and 2011, an indication of progress,” wrote Winslow Sargent, SBA’s Chief Counsel for Advocacy, in the introduction to the 2012 research report. Sargent also predicted that year-by-year changes in small business lending will become more evident as the economy continues to get better.

The SBA Office of Advocacy examines the lending patterns of national and local depository lending institutions. It defines a small business loan by the size of the loan, not the size of the company receiving it. So, a small business loan is any commercial real estate or commercial & industrial loan under $1 million, with “macro business loans” falling between $100,000 and $1 million, and “micro business loans” being under $100,000.

And SBA data found that small business borrowers are “losing ground in competing for business loans.” This is despite low interest rates and a steady 3.25 prime rate since 2009. SBA economists point out with persistent economic uncertainty, lenders remain cautious about lending and small businesses hesitate to take on debt.

The SBA also found that:

• Total small business borrowing from depository lenders remained subdued, while large business borrowing actually increased. The value of small business loans outstanding decreased by 3.1 percent in 2012, compared with 7.0 percent in 2011, while large business loans in excess of $1 million went up by 12 percent in 2012, compared with 5.8 percent the previous year.

• In 2012, the value of micro business loans was $138.2 billion, compared with $139.5 billion a year earlier.

• Small business borrowers were less successful than large business borrowers in being awarded business loans in 2012.

According to SBA, non-depository lenders, such as credit unions and finance companies, have become increasingly important. It added that “although the banking industry has undergone major consolidation, the market for small business loans tends to be local in nature.”

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