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The Research Network aims the content of this blog primarily at the New York Small Business Development Center (NY SBDC) community on the kinds of things we encounter every day. Views expressed are those of the Research Network staff, and not necessarily those of the New York SBDC or its partners. Comments to an individual post are encouraged. Such comments will be monitored, so please, keep them clean and professional.
Updated: 5 hours 10 min ago

H2NO - restaurant waitstaff training in “beverage suggestive selling techniques”

6 hours 11 min ago
Going out to dinner can be a pricey experience — a few dollars for an appetizer, another ten or more per entree, and maybe even dessert. The only good news for your wallet is that at most restaurants will give you a glass of tap water for free. That’s tradition, at least, and customers are used to it. But if you’re the restaurant — or if you’re a not-free beverage-maker — you’d prefer they choose otherwise.

Which is how Coke and Olive Garden got into a little bit of hot water about a decade or so ago.

The story begins in the late 1990s. The soft drink giant and the restaurant chain teamed up to create and implement something called “H2NO.” (Clever, right?) H2NO was an “education kit” for Olive Garden’s waitstaff training them in “beverage suggestive selling techniques” — in short, it taught waiters and waitresses how to get a customer off of the free tap water and into a more lucrative, paid-for drink choice.

More from Now I Know.
Categories: News from others

Free Webinar Provides Overview of the Trade Mission to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt

October 24, 2014 - 7:25pm
The United States Commerce Department will host a free webinar on Thursday November 12, 2014, which will provide an overview of the US Department of Commerce March 2015 Executive-led Business Development Mission to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. Speakers from the US Commercial Service in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt will provide a brief market overview and discuss opportunities for American exporters in these markets.  
Specific opportunities for U.S. companies include but are not limited to: all security and safety equipment and related solutions for seaports, airports, border crossings, security and safety agencies such as the police, and buildings; integrated monitoring and surveillance solutions; luggage screening devices; fire prevention and control equipment, alarm equipment for building safety, emergency evacuation systems; radio communication systems; and inspection equipment for containers and seaport cargo, border and perimeter control, bomb detection equipment, uniforms, protective apparel & accessories (industrial) and x-ray and scanning equipment. 
The mission will include stops in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco; Algiers, Algeria; and Cairo, Egypt, where participants will receive market briefings and participate in customized meetings with key officials and prospective partners. There will be an optional stop in Beirut, Lebanon.The mission supports President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) to strengthen the U.S. economy and U.S. competitiveness through meaningful job creation.
Register here: http://www.export.gov/eac/show_detail_trade_events.asp?EventID=35631&InputType=EVENT
Categories: News from others

Cronuts versus Donuts versus Cupcakes in NYC - Industry Trends from Yelp

October 24, 2014 - 8:00am
Review site Yelp has launched a data tool which graphs the popularity of trends — like cronuts versus donuts versus cupcakes in NYC — over time. According to the company's blog, the feature is called Yelp Trends, and it "searches through words used in Yelp reviews" to show users "what's hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off." It's based on data and reviews gathered since 2004 when Yelp was founded and is currently only available for major metropolis cities worldwide.



To do your own Yelp Trends search go to here.  
Categories: News from others

Access to Capital: Food, Beverage and Agricultural Enterprises, Syracuse 11/18

October 23, 2014 - 3:44pm

Are you in the food, beverage, or agricultural industry in Upstate New York? On Tuesday, November 18th, attend a free workshop sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and U.S. Small Business Administration. 
Get the inside perspective from experts and lenders about:•        Which type of financing is most appropriate for you•        What lenders look for in potential borrowers•        Alternatives to traditional bank loans•        International market opportunities + financing tools
Light breakfast will be provided.
DATE: Tuesday, November 18th  
TIME: 8:00am-1:00pm
LOCATION: The New York State Fairground, Empire Room                     581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse, NY 13209
REGISTER (http://nyfed.org/1rvlpeq)
Agenda 
Presenting Organizations: Bibby Financial Services (Midwest), Inc., CNY International Business Alliance, Centerstate CEO, Export-Import Bank, M&T Bank, Chase, Central NY Regional Planning and Development Board, Farm Credit East, Greater Syracuse Business Development Corp., J.P. Morgan, New York Business Development Corp., NYS Small Business Development Center, Syracuse First, Slow Money, The Tech Garden, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Small Business AdministrationSponsors:                               

All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made by request in advance to Dan Rickman at 315-471-9393, x 250.
For additional information contact:

Shira Gans, Federal Reserve Bank of NY
Email: Shira.Gans@ny.frb.org
Categories: News from others

How Do Consumers Perceive Corporate Social Responsibility?

October 23, 2014 - 10:40am
ome 84% of consumers are willing to pay more for a good or service from a company they feel is socially responsible, according to a a recent survey by Lab42.

In fact, "buying from a socially conscious brand" ranks in the top 5 drivers (after price, quality, customer service, and variety) that influence purchase decisions.

So, how do consumers view companies as socially responsible?

The biggest indicator for consumers is that the company offers high-quality products, according to 70% of respondents.

Some 69% mentioned the company's reputation for being employee-friendly and fair as an indication of social responsibility.


Read more from MarketingProfs
Categories: News from others

Lending Money to Your Employee

October 22, 2014 - 8:58am
By Barbara Weltman

From time to time, an employee going through a rough financial patch may turn to an employer for help. As member of your small business family—which is how many owners view their staff—you want to be helpful. But lending money to an employee should only be done after considering all the issues.

Practical concerns

There’s no right or wrong answer when someone asks you for a loan. Your decision to help out often depends on the particular facts and circumstances. But before you make a loan to someone on your payroll, here are some of the questions you might want to ask:

*Do you have serious concerns about being repaid? If you aren't repaid, will the loss materially impact you or your business?
What happens if you need to terminate the worker before the loan is repaid (e.g., your business contracts; the employee’s performance becomes unacceptable)?
*Will you be setting a dangerous precedent and become an easy mark for other employees? (Don’t think that word about the loan won’t get around, because people talk.)
*Do you want to have the business lend the funds or make it a personal loan

Alternative ways to help



If you don’t want to become a lender, consider other ways to help a needy employee.

*Advise about loans from your retirement plan. If the employee has an account in your 401(k) and the plan allows loans, the business doesn't have to become a lender. Instead, the employee can borrow up to 50% of his/her account balance (up to a maximum of $50,000). The plan must charge a reasonable rate of interest and repayment must be made in level payments over a period of no more than five years (there’s an exception to this repayment period for loans to buy homes). But caution the employee that if he or she leaves the job—voluntarily or otherwise—the loan must be repaid in full (usually within 30 or 60 days). The failure to do this results in having the outstanding balance treated as a taxable distribution; if the employee is under age 59-1/2, the distribution is taxable and subject to a 10% penalty. Find details about plan loans from the IRS.
*Advance one paycheck. If there is a short-term need that can be met by simply accelerating the payment of wages that will become due soon, consider suggesting an advance. Make sure you, and your employee, understand what an advance means; it’s just a timing issue for payment. You might also warn an employee about taking a “payday” loan from a commercial lender because these short-term loans entail very high borrowing costs.

Make it formal

If you decide to lend funds to an employee, be sure that the employee signs a promissory note to repay the loan. The note should spell out repayment terms (frequency of payments; interest rate; what happens in case of a default). There are numerous templates online that you can use to create a binding promissory note, but you might want to run it by your attorney to make sure you protect yourself.

Be sure to carry the loan from your business as such on your books. This ensures that loan repayments from the employee won’t be reported as income.

If you want to be magnanimous when setting interest, keep the below-market loan rules in mind for tax purposes. If your business lends money to an employee and fails to charge interest at the applicable federal rate, or AFR (an interest rate set monthly by the IRS and which varies according to the length of the repayment period), you are treated as having received phantom income (the uncharged interest, which is the difference between the AFR and interest, if any, that has been charged). This must be reported as income for your business. However, there is an exception: there’s no imputed interest if the loan is below $10,000 and tax avoidance is not the main purpose of the loan arrangement. And, if you personally lend the money, different rules apply to so-called gift-loans. Note: Currently, AFRs are low because the low-interest environment, but if the Federal Reserve acts to raise interest rates in the future, expect to see AFRs rise as well. Find AFRs here.

Conclusion

It’s great to be helpful to your staff, but this is a business and needs to be run as such. If you have any concerns, to quote Nancy Reagan, just say no. And as always, check with your lawyer or accountant for guidance.

(From the Small Business Administration)
Categories: News from others

Female self-employment in the United States:an update

October 21, 2014 - 9:29am
After seeing considerable increases in the 1970s and the 1980s, the share of women in self-employment and the female self-employment rate leveled off in the 1990s and remained relatively unchanged through 2012. While this recent 20-year trend may not be remarkable, the characteristics of female business owners have changed considerably over time...

New trends in female self-employment suggest a positive shift in opportunities for women, especially for those who differ from the “typical” self-employed women of the past. For instance, the percentage of female minorities in self-employment doubled from 1993 to 2012, and more divorced women and women without young children have become self-employed. Earnings trends have also been favorable. Although female business owners still have lower mean earnings compared with other worker groups, between 1993 and 2012 the gender gap in hourly earnings among the self-employed shrank by nearly 20 percentage points for full-time workers and by 17 percentage points for part-time workers.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Categories: News from others

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights - take a 30-minute online course

October 20, 2014 - 9:41am
What is intellectual property and how do you protect your ideas? This course gives an overview of intellectual properties and explains how to protect them. Learn why you should protect your intellectual property. Explore the differences between patents, trademarks and copyrights and discover the process for filing for a patent or trademark and registering for a copyright.

Text-based version of course

Intellectual property worsheet for a small business
Categories: News from others

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