September 29, 2010

Cleveland Rocks Sustainability

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 12:14 pm

Almost every U.S. city has some kind of special program when it comes to bidding on lucrative government contracts. Most of these initiatives are geared towards giving female and minority owned companies as well as local businesses a slight advantage in this arena. These efforts are supposed to offset discrimination and encourage participation from companies that fall within any of these categories.

But today the city of Cleveland, Ohio took a giant leap forward when it launched the first incentive plan dedicated to local, green businesses. The city’s mayor, Frank Jackson, is a long time environmental advocate and promoter of sustainable technologies. Back in 2009, the mayor set himself and his city apart from the crowd by creating the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 project. The “buy local and sustainable” bill follows the agenda Jackson put forward last year and marks true progress on the march towards an energy efficient economy. This law rewards local companies that have completed the beginning stage of Green Plus certification process with a 4% discount on bids for city contracts. Green Plus utilizes the same standards as the United Nations when it comes to measuring a business’s ecological, social, and commercial impact as well as their performance. These criteria, referred to as triple bottom line sustainability, develop a well rounded picture of a company’s relationship with its neighboring community and the world at large. In other words, this organization doesn’t certify candidates unless they are truly worthy of this distinction.

Cleveland isn’t alone in its efforts because Ohio’s Department of Energy will be supplementing the certification procedure with reduced rates and grants for businesses interested in participating in this venture. However, these awards and advantages will be administered to small and medium sized firms; large corporations need not apply. For additional information or to sign up for this excellent opportunity, please visit the Green Plus website here. Remember, only businesses operating in the Cleveland area and other parts of Northern Ohio are eligible. Hopefully, Cleveland’s actions will inspire other U.S. cities to adopt similar policies.

September 28, 2010

Apple Shifts Focus to Commercial Customers

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 10:54 am

Apple, Inc. has never enjoyed much success within the professional realm. Their products are fairly popular with a particularly loyal consumer demographic, but they’ve had a lot of trouble selling themselves to small and medium sized businesses. Other manufactures, such as Hewlett Packard and Dell, basically have this market cornered. Their products are usually significantly cheaper than Apple’s lineup and they have dedicated technicians available to provide personalized service to these types of clients.

But sales figures for Apple’s iPhone and the iPad continue to climb, prompting the company to try and expand its customer base via a new marketing campaign aimed at small business owners. Many entrepreneurs already own iPods, iPhones, and iPads, but haven’t filled their offices with Mac computers for whatever reason. Some are devoted Appleholics outside the workplace, and only purchase iMacs or MacBooks for their homes.
Apple wants to change all that by altering its retail establishments to suit the needs of commercial buyers. The company currently hires a single staff member in each store to handle this consumer niche, but rumor has it that they plan on hiring small business tech support teams for retail outlet. The timing on this move seems right since Apple is set to release Office 2011 software package for Macs soon.

Those reluctant to take the plunge will be pleased to hear about Apple’s attractive leasing program. Upon approval by Apple Financial, your business can enjoy a computing upgrade without putting forward a substantial initial investment. As an added bonus, you may be able to deduct your monthly leasing fees from your taxes. Consult a tax professional to see whether or not you qualify for the deductions. At the end of your lease, you can return the equipment, extend your lease, or purchase everything for fair market value. The lease also includes software packages that do not exceed 20% of the total cost of the hardware, which means you should be able to get everything you need all at once. There are 24 and 30 month plans, along with different options and conditions. For more information, please contact a sales representative at 1-800-854-3680.

Is anyone planning on switching over from PC to Mac? We’d love to hear your reasoning and cost/benefit analysis!

September 27, 2010

Horray for Small Businesses!

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 1:23 pm

Small businesses finally have something to cheer about and loudly at that. Today, September 27th, 2010, President Obama finally signed the Small Business Jobs Act into law. While this bill has drawn its share of criticism, mostly from Republican lawmakers, there are plenty of reasons for small business owners to celebrate its ratification.

For starters, the bill contains significant tax cuts that went into effect immediately. How’s that for swift action? There are quite a few notable examples that are worth discussing. Small businesses are now able to write off up to $500,000 of their equipment expenditures, so be sure to save your receipts! The word “equipment” refers to supplies, such as computers, printers, paper, and the like. The self-employed are now allowed to deduct health insurance costs for themselves as well as their families entirely. Anyone who falls under this category knows that this provision is truly a milestone. Health care expenses are extremely problematic for these individuals and this eases some of the burden of paying for their own medical coverage out of pocket. Additionally, qualifying companies will pay no capital gains taxes on key investments for five years.

The bill also tackles the dreaded credit crunch head on. Over 1,300 small businesses have no received their loans under the SBA Recovery Act, and today’s legislation ensures that they’ll obtain access to the necessary funds. The bill also permanently increases the amount of money available through the Small Business Administration’s loan program, which has far reaching implications. The Treasury Department is currently working towards creating a Small Business Lending Fund designed to facilitate lending from commercial banks.

This law alters the way small businesses pay their taxes as well. It simplifies the manner in which companies deduct cell phone payments from their taxes and decreases the penalties associated with making common errors on tax reporting.

In order to make sure that you get the most out of these historic policies, we recommend consulting a trained accounting professional. He or she should be able to answer any detailed questions you may have or at least refer you to the appropriate individual or organization. Contacting your local chapter of the Small Business Association may be a wise decision, too.

September 24, 2010

Bonus Bucks with Bank of America

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 11:49 am

Lots of small business owners are frustrated by the actions by of large banks. Credit used to be available in abundance, but that hasn’t been the case for the last two years or so. Still, every business has to own a bank account no matter what. Not having one makes it nearly impossible to manage the day to day transactions that come with owning a company of any size.

Those weary of their current bank’s policies might want to consider switching their accounts over the Bank of America. They offer a wide variety of products and services that are especially designed with small businesses in mind. Right now they are running a special online only promotion for their small business checking accounts. Basically, the deals works like this. You open this type of account with Bank of America. As long as you deposit at least $750 per month from now until November 21st, they will give credit you an addition $150 as a way of saying thank you for working with them. You are free to spend this money however you’d like, although it’s probably a good idea to buy something for your company or simply save it for a rainy day. They’ll throw in another $50 if you pay bills through their online system two or more times during that same two month period. Online bill pay is a free perk despite the fact that there’s no management fee associated with your checking account (some restrictions apply).

We don’t have much experience with Bank of America directly, but this sounds like a pretty good deal. Anyone interested in obtaining additional information about this opportunity should visit their site here. There’s been some talk about shifting funds away from large banks and into smaller, community banks. Such an approach may be worth looking into as well. At the same time, this is a limited time offer, so you don’t really have much time to ponder this matter. The later you sign up, the less time you have to meet the reward requirements. Signing up in November means that you won’t be able to make deposits over the course of 3 months. In fact, your best bet is to sign up before September 30th to get the most out of this deal.

September 23, 2010

A Conversation Worth Watching

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 12:09 pm

The current political climate is leaving many small business owners feeling confused and fearful of the future. For example, portions of the health care bill are going into effect, but few people are certain as to what these provisions require. There’s also been a lot of grandstanding with respect to small business interests by both major parties on Capitol Hill lately. For example, the Senate just passed a major bill (the Small Business Jobs Act)concerning this subject; it’s awaiting approval from the House at the moment. President Obama has been pushing for this piece of legislation for months now. Meanwhile, the intense debate surrounding the expiration of the Bush tax cuts has included the phrase “small businesses” so much that it’s beginning to sound like the annoying chorus of an overplayed hit single on the radio. Almost everything has been under the microscope, including what qualifies as a small business in the first place. This robust discussion has led some entrepreneurs to falsely believe that their taxes will increase within the next couple of months or that the health care bill will be the end of their companies.

Thankfully, average Americans have a welcome opportunity to question their elected officials next week. Karen Mills, chief of the Small Business Administration, is holding a question and answer session on Wednesday, September 29th that will hopefully clear up some of this misconceptions and misgivings. The conversation can be seen on the web at 11am PST next week. Mills is taking questions from now until 2pm PST on September 27th. Submissions will be reviewed and chosen based on their significance, prevalence, and answerability. Naturally, questions should be polite and reflect the general consensus concerns of small business owners across the nation. In other words, this is neither the time nor the place to request a copy of the President’s birth certificate.

Please send submissions here and return to the site, www.openforum.com to view the live broadcast. The site is actually worth bookmarking because is a valuable resource for companies of all sizes. We look forward to the summit and would love to hear your proposed questions as well as your reactions to the dialogue!

September 22, 2010

Small Businesses Express Subdued Optimism

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 12:07 pm

Monday’s news concerning the end of the recession seemed quite puzzling. Here in Los Angeles, the recession feels far from over due to the high levels of unemployment. Many of our friends and family members are still struggling to find work, which might be why we’re having such a hard time believing that the worst is over.

Many commentators seem to share our sentiments, but the results of a new survey paint a slightly rosier picture than the one we’ve envisioned. Office Depot, the familiar supply company, completes a monthly Small Business Index to collect data on this vital economic sector. The latest survey includes a sample of over a 1,000 small business owners responding to questions during the first week of September.

Their answers are predictable in some areas and pleasantly surprising in others. For instance, the vast majority of those polled stated that they do not intend to hire any employees within the next six months. By now it’s clear that jobs are scarce and firms are not interested in bringing on additional team members. Equally expected are their reservations about the future. Lots of small business owners fear the impact of the health care bill, worry over higher taxes, and don’t believe the credit market will open up any time soon. These are the main reasons they cite for not creating jobs, which is understandable given the uncertainty of the situation.

Nevertheless, more than half of the respondents are forecasting a better tomorrow. These individuals are looking forward to increased profits and overall sales in the next six months, and that’s undoubtedly positive. Should their predictions hold true, the economy will likely experience some slow job growth. That’s not very comforting to those in immediate need, but it’s a sign that we may have finally weathered the storm. Hopefully we’ll be reporting on a robust hiring boom by March of 2011!

September 21, 2010

Wait, the Recession’s Over?

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 10:47 am

Yesterday the National Bureau of Economic Research declared the Great Recession officially dead. Data suggests that the Recession reached its lowest point in June of 2009 and has been slowly heading back on track since that time. They acknowledge that growth hasn’t been steady, but assert that things are improving on the whole.

This news comes as a shock to those struggling with unemployment as well as many small business owners, especially within certain sectors. A variety of industries, such as construction and real estate, aren’t seeing any significant progress. The credit crunch is in full swing, which means it’s very difficult for companies to obtain much needed loans. Nevertheless, manufacturing firms and retail outlets are experiencing resurgence. Back to school sales figures were fairly strong, which likely indicates a successful holiday shopping season on the horizon.

Reporter Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune explains that this information may have been misinterpreted by some people that are unfamiliar with technical economic jargon. He states that this announcement merely means that the economy is no longer contracting. That doesn’t say anything about the speed of its expansion and he cautions that we have a long, hard road ahead of us. His words aren’t very comforting, but his analysis clarifies a lot of misunderstandings.

The Bureau itself concedes that the economy isn’t operating at normal capacity yet. In all likelihood, things will not return to normal for several years. This is particularly evident when it comes to employment statistics. Unemployment is what’s known as a “lagging indicator,” which means that it’s among the last things to pick up after a downturn. Some experts are also expressing concerns over shifting trends in the labor market. These individuals see a long term loss of so-called white collar, middle class jobs. They predict a sharp divide in the American workforce between highly skilled positions, such as physician or lawyer, and blue collar jobs.

We’d love to hear your reaction to the research findings as well as the speculation. Our business has managed to survive the recession so far, but our story can’t be considered typical. In spite of our success, we’re having a hard time believing that things are on the rebound.

September 20, 2010

Excellent Laptops at Bargain Prices

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 12:01 pm

Every small business owner needs a quality laptop in order to manage his/her company efficiently. Having a reliable laptop is as important as owning a dependable Smartphone, which is why we’re happy to report that Dell is having a sale especially for small businesses. For a limited time, you’ll be able to purchase their Latitude E5410, E5510, E6500, E6400, E6410, E6510, and E4300 models at deep discounts. The minimum instant savings totals $345.00, so this promotion is definitely worth looking into.

All of the Latitude laptops feature Intel processors, Windows 7 operating systems, and have at least 2 GB of memory with a 250 GB hard drive. Upgrades are available, although they come with additional fees. You’ll probably want to add the Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 software package, which costs $199.00. Also, you might want to purchase Quickbooks 2010 Pro for $129.00 to fulfill your accounting needs.

Picking the right model naturally depends on your specific needs, but there are a few standouts that we’d recommend for most anyone. The Latitude E6410 gets very high customer ratings for its compact size as well as usability. Plus, this deal includes 3 years of access to Dell’s 24/7 tech support team. With this service, you’re guaranteed to receive agent assistance in 2 minutes or less, anytime, anywhere. That can really come in handy when you’re traveling or preparing for a big presentation.

The Latitude E4300 comes with a Dell Streak, which is their brand new tablet that’s comparable to an i-Pad. The Streak is even smaller than this 13.3’’ laptop and it doubles a Smartphone for ultimate convenience. The Steak normally costs $549, which means you’re really getting an outstanding bargain.

For more information about this amazing sale or to purchase any of these items, please visit the Dell Deals section of their small business resource center. You can talk to a sales representative right away via instant chat. The customer service agent I spoke to was unable to confirm the exact dates for this promotion, but he did warn me that most of their sales only last for one or two days. If you decide to buy a Latitude, please take the time to review it for us!

September 16, 2010

Marketing on Twitter

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 9:23 am

Small business owners have a tough time when it comes to PR/Marketing. Often times they don’t have the resources to employ a PR team, which means they don’t have a lot of time to devote to these matters. This is especially true when it comes to managing social media accounts. Sites like Facebook and Twitter afford an excellent platform for direct consumer interaction, but maintaining them can be a real burden. Making them worthwhile is a different issue all together.

One of the easiest and most rewarding methods of monetizing Twitter traffic is by offering e-coupons to your followers. Consumers are always interested in saving money and this provides an excellent incentive for people to stay involved in your company. Consumers often decide to follow companies in the hopes of receiving perks like this, so you’ll be giving them exactly what they’re looking for. With any luck, they’ll re-tweet the coupon to their contacts and expand your customer base in the process.

Creating a coupon requires zero technical expertise, despite what you may think. Follow this link, then fill out a simple form, and presto! You’ve got yourself a professional looking coupon to share with your customers. Since the coupon is being dispersed via Twitter, the details have to fit the standard 140 character format. It might be a bit challenging to stick to the program on this one, but try to think of yourself as a journalist instead of an advertiser. Journalists are trained to convey the facts in as few words as possible, which sums up Twitter marketing quite nicely. Twitter’s character limit is really an opportunity for you to get creative and play around with the English language, so have fun with your ad! Originality is always appreciated in marketing and it definitely makes for memorable ads.

Do you have any ideas or tips for e-marketing on Twitter? We welcome suggestions from members of the small business community. Although we engage in friendly competition, we’re all in this together!

September 14, 2010

Staples Honors Chicago Small Businesses

Filed under: Company Headlines — admin @ 1:29 pm

As we’ve mentioned before, LocalPAGES is based out of Los Angeles, Ca. Nevertheless, we work with small businesses across the nation, which is why we like to share cool stuff that we come across, even if it doesn’t really apply to our company.

Today we learned that the office supply store Staples is having a contest for small businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area. Almost every small business is familiar with Staples because they’re pretty much a one stop shop for the stuff you need to keep your workplace running. A lot of their customers are independent entrepreneurs, so they decided to create the Small Business Hall of Fame! Everyone who signs up to be a part of this exclusive list will be automatically entered into the sweepstakes. For official rules, entrance registrations, and additional information, please visit the contest’s website here.

Hopefully, this venture will be a success because we’d love to see this contest spread to other areas, such as Southern California (hint, hint). With awesome prize packages, including $2,000 Staples gift card and a yearlong membership to United Airline’s Red Carpet Club, we can easily see this catching on quickly. You know this is going to be great because the contest has the Small Business Association’s seal of approval. Plus, you’ll have 4 chances to win, which quadruples your odds of success. Winners will be announced throughout the month of October, so be sure to check the contest’s website regularly. The winning companies will be featured prominently on the site, which means you’ll get a PR boost along with your sweet prize package. The entrance deadline is November 1st, but early sign ups mean you won’t miss out on any of the drawings!

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