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Displaying articles for: January 2012

Employee ‎01-31-2012 12:27 PM

The following is a guest blog from Anita Campbell, the founder of the Small Business Trends website and CEO of BizSugar, an online community for small business owners.

 

 

The mere thought of taxes is enough to take the happy out of the new year. They're not fun, and no one enjoys having to deal with them. But for small businesses that want to stay in business, there's no other option. You can, however, make it a lot easier on yourself by being prepared not just to file your (check out www.bizsugar.com/Taxes), but to respond to an audit, just in case you draw the short straw. Here's how:

Gather All Receipts
To really be prepared for tax season, you should have been keeping all your receipts, invoices, and any other financial paperwork you'd need. Ideally, you'll have them in
organized, labeled files, and not thrown haphazardly into a shoebox. As much as you wouldn't want to go through that mess, it's not really fair to torture your accountant that way either. Not to mention, if you're paying him by the hour, you're going to pay more for the time it takes to straighten out your poor record-keeping.

Even if you've been vigilant about staying organized, you may still find you're missing a receipt or two. Don't wait until the last minute to file because now is the time to contact anyone from whom you need a copy of an invoice or receipt so you're ready when it comes time to file.

Be Aware of Important Dates
Everyone knows personal income tax is due on April 15. Well, usually. This year, April 15 falls on a Sunday, and while that would normally make Monday, April 16 tax day, that date is Emancipation Day, an official public holiday in Washington, D.C., so personal income tax is due April 17, 2012. But as a small business owner, you have some deadlines to meet before then.

If you work with any contractors, you must have their Forms 1099 to them by January 31 (TODAY!), and to the IRS by February 28, unless you file electronically, and then it's April 2. It would normally be March 31, but that date falls on a Saturday this year. And don't let 2012 throw you another curve ball because it's a Leap Year. The forms are still due on February 28 for paper filing. Confused yet? Always, always
double and triple check form due dates with the IRS to be sure you don't miss any deadlines and end up having to pay fees and penalties.


Be Ready for an Audit
Everyone thinks it won't happen to them, but one of these days, your number may come up, and you'll have the tax man knocking on your door. The best way to be ready for an audit is to stay organized. Keep all your old records going back at least six years. The IRS standard audit usually goes back three years unless they determine a "substantial understatement of income," in which case that time period is doubled. The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether this practice will be allowed to continue, but for now, it's best to be ready for anything.

Also be aware that if the IRS decides to audit your small business, they may—and probably will—include your personal taxes. Don't think that because you have an accountant managing your business taxes, you can be lazy or sloppy with your personal records.
As a small business owner, your personal income is inextricably tied to your business income. Keep impeccable records for both.

One last bit of advice—hire an accountant. You may have a knack for accounting. Heck, you may even like it. But unless you're running an accounting business—and even if you are—you need to focus on running your business, not trying to wear too many hats. Bring someone in whose job it is to keep you on track so that you can continue to focus on bringing in revenue and keeping your customers happy. Let your accountant worry about keeping the IRS happy, and you'll be much happier, too.

 

Employee ‎01-30-2012 07:37 PM

In case you haven’t had the time to find some good reads that may help your business, check out these below.

 

As a small business owner, it helps to make your business look bigger so you can better compete; here’s five ways social media can help.

 

And speaking about social media, here are some tips to good linkingClick here to get three ways to make your content search-friendly.

 

Last Friday @VZSmallBiz participated in a live chat in honor of Data Privacy Day.  If you missed it, check out this recent post.  If your company has not reviewed its password policies lately, note this is one area of security that many businesses let fall through the cracks but it’s critical for your overall security well-being.  Read this article to learn more information on how you can strengthen your password policies.  

 

Here’s a quick read about virtualization, one of the fastest growing trends in IT.  There are many misconceptions out there about virtualization.  Can you separate the fact from the fiction?  Read this article to learn more.

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help from Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

 

Enjoy your week!

 

Employee ‎01-27-2012 01:12 PM

Guest post by Michael Kaiser, the Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSAG).

 

In this digital age, your business shares information online on a daily basis. Chances are, you trust that the data are safely protected.

 

But are you doing everything you can to keep that data confidential? Do your employees understand how to protect data? Are you prepared to handle a breach?

 

This notion might encourage you to take a closer look at how your data is being collected, shared, and stored online.

 

January 28th, 2012 is Data Privacy Day (DPD) an annual international celebration designed to promote awareness about privacy and education about best data privacy practices. (http://www.staysafeonline.org/dpd).

 

We’re dedicated to helping improve conditions of online safety and security for all users but we also know that the Internet cannot become safer without everyone doing their part.

 

Improving privacy is our shared responsibility and we’re asking you to help spread the word about the importance of improving privacy practices online.

 

You can help by talking to coworkers and peers about the importance of data privacy.

 

Here are some tips:

 

  • Conduct employee training on privacy as it relates to employment, helping employees learn how to protect the privacy of clients’ and customers’ personal information and teaching employees how to manage their own privacy at work.

 

  • Develop internet privacy policies for your business. The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center is a great resource (http://business.ftc.gov/privacy‐and‐security). If you already have policies in place, review and update them to ensure they address current threats and best practices.

 

  • Create a plan in the event the privacy of customer data is compromised by a data breach.  Check out the Debix Data Breach Incident Response Workbook for ideas: http://www.debix.com/workbook/index.php.

 

  • Communicate with your clients, membership, or workforce about privacy awareness in the month of January in honor of Data Privacy Day using company newsletters, intranets, networks, and other internal communications.  Blog about privacy.  Use social networks to disseminate information and encourage customers and employees to learn more about privacy.  Feel free to use content found at www.staysafeonline.org/dpd.   

 

For more ways to actively manage your privacy, visit the “What You Can Do” section of the Data Privacy Day website: http://www.staysafeonline.org/dpd/get-involved/what-you-can-do and the “Consumer & Business Resources” section of the Data Privacy Day website: http://www.staysafeonline.org/dpd/consumer-business-resources.

 

With these resources, you can help make the Internet a safer place for all digital citizens. Cheers to a successful Data Privacy Day 2012 and increased protection of your information!

 

[Editor’s note: Join a live chat today at 1:30 p.m. ET to get more data privacy tips – search for #privacyday or follow @Verizon.  For more information and to register (for a chance to win prizes) visit http://bit.ly/VZChatReg. Check out this past post (with video) on data security.]

 

 

A few posts back, I talked about our GoPayment solution in conjunction with Intuit and how it made it easy for the entrepreneur or small business owner to accept credit card payments anytime and anywhere.  Today, I’d like to share a success story.  Verizon Wireless customer, YiShaun Yang, owner of AdoraPet, conveys a good business case below.

 

In her own words YiShaun wrote:

 

While I was working as a corporate attorney in a Manhattan law firm, I made the decision to take a leap of faith and start my own business.  I believe children are full of potential and possibility, and it was important to me to create a business that nurtures children’s dreams and development.

 

I started a business in the children’s products industry called AdoraPet (http://AdoraPet.com). 

As an entrepreneur, my business is nimble, but we still need the same tools that an enterprise may need, though in a different version. 

 

I didn’t think I would be able to accept credit card payments without going through the hassle of entering into an onerous credit card processing contract that had termination fees and other obligations. 

 

I had my first holiday fair of the season coming up and time was running out to find a suitable solution.  But one day while in the Verizon store, I saw the GoPayment credit card swiper, and it changed the way I do business and allows me to easily serve my customers better. 

 

I found the online set up process to be incredibly quick and easy.  I plugged in my information online and was able to find out very quickly that my application had been approved.

 

Before the fair, I was able to enter in my different products, their prices, and whether or not to accept tax for each item, which made the actual sales process much faster and more streamlined.

 

I decided to have a special holiday set of all 8 of my children’s books, and even though I was offering a special holiday price, it was more than most people carry in cash. 

 

I was so happy to have GoPayment, especially when a woman came by at the very end and bought 5 holiday sets right on the spot because she was able to pay by credit card!

 

Now, I carry the GoPayment swiper with me wherever I go.  It’s light and compact and comes with its own plastic case, so I can easily toss it into my bag or pocket.  I love the versatility it gives my customers and me, and it helps make running a small business easier. 

 

 

[Editor’s note: If your business is like YiShaun’s where you can sell your products at fairs or on the go; then you will seriously want to consider getting a mobile credit card processing solution so you can accept payment – for your product(s) – no matter where you are!  For more information click here or go to http://bit.ly/wD8LJI

Verizon Small Business Makeover Kicks off 2012!

 

Guest post from Shirley Chun in California, small business marketing manager for Verizon.  To get news specific to California, follow @VZCABiz (www.twitter.com/vzcabiz).

 

It’s a brand new year and my team just launched a contest to give businesses in Californiathe chance to get a “tech” makeover – worth over $5,000!  We know that “Time is Money” and there are so many things to get done in the life of an entrepreneur.  We recognize that it takes planning, marketing, and great customer service to grow a business. 

 

See how Verizon has teamed with key industry leaders like Intuit and Google to provide relevant tools to help you with the foundation of your business from network to websites to applications.  With these integrated tools in place, you can better focus on your business.

 

The Verizon Small Business Makeover contest will run from 1/17 – 3/2/2012 and allows Southern California businesses to tell us about your business and technology challenges in running a small business.  Sign up for a chance to win prizes and tools to help your business succeed!  The Verizon Small Business Makeover Grand Prize includes:

 

  • $2,000 to kick off the new year;
  • HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition laptop;
  • Verizon Wireless LTE LG Revolution Smartphone;
  • Intuit Design Full Services – to build your company website and be found online;
  • Intuit GoPayment – so you’ll be able to accept payment anywhere, even on the go; and
  • Google Personal Support for Google Apps/Email/Domain/Google+ and enjoy personal support to get your business online and engaging with customers and potential social media.

 

Two Ways to Enter:

 

After registering at http://verizon.com/makeover, you’ll be able to:

  1. Share your story for a chance to win a Small Business Makeover for your business worth over $5,000.
  2. Watch our quick, informative videos to learn how to put Verizon Small Business solutions to work for you and earn up to three sweepstake entries for a chance to win a $500 AMEX gift card.

Now is the time to get organized and let Verizon help you kick-start your business for the New Year.  Good Luck!

 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Contest and sweepstakes open toU.S.residents, 18 or older who are an owner, employee or intern of a small business (up to 19 employees) operating for at least two years inLos Angeles,Orange,Ventura,San Bernardinoor Riverside county,California. Submissions become property of Verizon.  For complete rules by which all entrants are bound go www.verizonsweeps10.com/official_rules/.

 

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Congratulations to The Fitness Compound in Huntington Beach

 

Late last year in Californiawe ran the Verizon Fans’ Choice Award to get small business owners to build a company website using Verizon Websites powered by Intuit, an easy do-it-yourself app which enables small businesses to quickly design and set up their own company website.

 

We wanted to let small businesses know that Verizon cares about their business success and that we’re teaming with key industry leaders like Intuit, to help them be productive and successful.  Today many potential customers and/or clients go online first to do research or fact finding and it becomes table stakes to have a presence on the web.  Businesses – no matter how small – need a presence or your company will not be found.

 

Congratulations to Nicholas Rians, owner of The Fitness Compound in Huntington Beach, CA as our Grand Prize winner!  Nicholas received $5,000, a Verizon LTE LG Revolution Smartphone, and 10,000 Bonus Credits as part of our Business Link Reward program (http://businesslink.verizon.com).  The top five finalists are listed below. Congratulations to each of them for getting their website up and running.  We wish everyone continued success.  And now that you know how easy it is to update your website, we hope to see a refresh soon.

 

 

Verizon offers many products, services and free resources to small businesses, for more information please visit the Verizon Small Business Center (http://business.verizon.net).    

 

 

 

 


 

We hope you are enjoying your weekend.   Below you’ll find a few articles which we hope you will find of interest.

 

Have you been considering outsourcing your company’s computer security.  Read the following article for some good reasons to consider it.

 

Is your company in need of a vendor?  Are you afraid of getting burned or don’t know where to look for guidance in the selection process.  Read this article for some tips on where to start.

 

Does your business love to have the latest and greatest in gadgets?  Read this fun article on some top gadgets for your business.

 

Could your website be embarrassing you and not representing your business well?  Check out this article.  Please don’t say you don’t have a website, if that is the case, set one up now, your business needs to be found online. Verizon offers Verizon Websites click here (or go to http://bit.ly/hPSEWu) to learn how this easy-do-it yourself website app will allow you to quickly set up your online “shop” (starting at $4.99 per month).

 

If you missed our first webinar in 2012 presented by the Verizon Small Business Center click here (or go to http://bit.ly/xYxAoR). Small business owner, expert and marketing consultant John Jantsch went over 10 action items any small business can do now to help grow their business.

 

Happy reading!

 

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help from Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

 

Employee ‎01-24-2012 09:56 AM

Guest post from John Jantsch small business owner, marketing consultant, social media expert and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.

 

 

Join me later this afternoon live – January 18th – at 2 p.m. ET as I give you an hour of fast paced, no frills, action-orientated tips that I’ll challenge every participant to employ right away.

 

If you’ve read Duct Tape Marketing, you know I’m a big proponent of marketing strategy, but sometime you just need to take action and do some stuff.

 

In this session, titled 10 Things You Can Do to Rev Up Your Marketing Today, I’ll cover very specific marketing tactics and reveal the action steps and tools required to employ each tactic.

 

Tactics include:

  • The best way to get PR coverage for your business
  • How to get more email list subscribers
  • A systematic approach for promoting your content
  • How to get more links back to your Web site
  • How to turn one time customers into repeat customer

 

And much, much more.

 

I’m looking forward to sharing these practical tips with you – don’t miss out on the live webinar if you can. Register here (or go to http://bit.ly/xYxAoR) to make sure you can attend live or receive a notice when the archive is ready for on-demand replay.

 

 

[Editor's note: Follow the Verizon Small Business team on Twitter (@VZSmallBiz) or search for #vzsmallbiz for tips and insights we’ll share during the live webinar.  Ask John a question during the live webinar and you’ll get a free signed copy of his book: The Referral Engine, courtesy of the Verizon Small Business Center.]

 

 

Happy Friday!  Below you’ll a few articles which we hope you will find of interest - some offer good tips and insights to help you run your business better.

 

Are you finding your social media responsibilities overwhelming?  Learn how to share the duties with your team.  Read this article for some helpful tips.

 

Building your brand is critical for your business but can be challenging to say the least when you are starting out as a complete unknown in the market.  Read this article for some guidance on how to get started.  

 

Are you looking for more ways to build up your existing brand?  Read this article on a new concept that can help.

 

While many of us have been emailing for years, it’s always good to review some dos and don’t of emailing – particularly how you shouldn’t email when you are mad.

 

Here’s an article from Guy Kawasaki with tips to write an enchanting business plan.  If you missed Guy’s tips to be enchanting, check out his webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.  Note, we start up our webinar series next week featuring John Jantsch.  Click here to register or to see past webinars (or visit http://bit.ly/vAOtIb).

 

It’s Friday the 13th and what we should fear the most is cyber-attacks.  In a recent report, cyber-attacks against governments and businesses are among the top five risks in the world in terms of likelihood.  If your business doesn’t have the right security measures in place, your company is vulnerable to such cyber-attacks.  If there is interest click here to see the many security solutions Verizon offers businesses of all sizes or click here.

 

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help from Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

 

 

This post is from Paul Macchia, a one time small business owner and now national PR manager for Verizon Wireless.  Paul is at CES and sends this update.

 

 

As we hit the ground running in 2012, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners and entrepreneurs are contemplating how to streamline their workflow operations and increase revenue.  One key area on the short list of considerations is implementing and enhancing mobile technology to amp up business capabilities this year. 

 

This week, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Verizon Wireless unveiled new devices, including tablets, smartphones and mobile hotspots,that are sure to capture the attention of SMB proprietors.  Here are a few great options:

 

  • The Verizon Jetpack allows the sharing of blazing fast Internet connectivity via the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network with up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices.  This is ideal when the need to work remotely becomes apparent.  Those who travel internationally can access the Web in more than 205 countries, including more than 125 with 3G speeds, on their Wi-Fi-enabled devices to stay connected no matter where business takes them. 

 

  • The first global-readyBlackBerry® Curve 9370is ultra sleek and lightweight, but super powerful.  Running on Verizon Wireless’ 3G network, it’s equipped with the latest BlackBerry® 7 operating system, which means business doesn’t stop when you’re away from the office. 

 

  • Powered by Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network, DROID 4 by Motorola is another deceivingly slim smartphone.  It offers small business customers a full five-row QWERTY keyboard along with government-grade encryption to keep sensitive business data secure.

 

  • Spectrum by LGoffers one of the brightest and sharpest displays available on a mobile device, which is great news for small business customers who need to view images and videos while away from a computer.  The device also features a Qualcomm® 1.5 GHz dual-core processor combined with 4G LTE connectivity, ensuring your company continues to operate while you’re on the go. 

 

  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 is a great option for small business owners, ranging from realtors to restaurateurs, looking to implement tablets this year.  Powered by the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network, this tablet offers a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor and HTML5 Web browser that are sure to fire up any business.  

 

If you are at CES, stop by the Verizon booth (Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall, Booth #30259) to check these devices out.  For information about products and services for small businesses, visit www.verizonwireless.com/smb.  Customers can also go to any Verizon Wireless Communications Store to speak to a small business specialist.

 

For more information about Verizon at CES, visit www.verizonwireless.com/ces or follow Verizon Wireless news on Twitter at @VZWnews

 

Employee ‎01-06-2012 11:23 AM

Happy New Year!  We hope it’s off to a great start!  Below you’ll find some interesting articles that’ll give you some tips and insights to make it a great year!

 

Need help setting goals?  Read this article that might give you a few ideas on how to kick start your company and make goals this year.

 

Green is in and it’s here to stay.  Have you thought about “greening” your office, but considered it an overwhelming task?  Read the following article that can help your company get started with tips to reduce energy consumption.

 

It’s a New Year and a good time to expand your business and get more customers, but can your business be found online?  Read this article that might provide some solutions for this problem. Also, check out this article for tips to make your website mobile-friendly.  If you don't have an easy to update website, you may want to consider this service.

 

Check out these trends to embrace this year to have an edge over your competition.

 

Lastly, join our free live webinar next Wednesday as John Jantsch offers ten tips to turn any business around in 2012.  To register click here or go to .

  

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help from Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

       




Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Business Markets Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.


Kelly Boyd

Marketing Analyst, Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Kelly Boyd

Kelly is a member of the OOF Verizon Business Markets Creative & MarCom team where she leads social media marketing.


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