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As a small business lawyer and business guru, I am asked lots and lots of legal and tax questions.

 

Most of these questions are asked by “newbies” – people starting businesses for the first time.  But even established businesses should be thinking – always – about the legal and tax environment in which they operate.

 

Here are some of the tough legal and tax questions you should be asking about your business right this very minute.

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Making a Good Shopping Experience: A Short Checklist for Online Businesses

by Employee ‎11-23-2016 08:29 AM - edited ‎11-23-2016 08:31 AM

 

Holiday shopping seasonHoliday Ready3.png has begun, and it is going to get busier by the day, especially online. According to Statistics Brain, 90% of holiday shoppers buy some portion of their purchases from web-based storefronts.  

 

Whether your business resides entirely in cyberspace or whether online sales are a subset of overall sales, it is important to make sure your virtual storefront is ready to appeal to buyers and make their shopping experience productive and enjoyable. Here are suggestions that could help you improve revenue this holiday season.

 

Be prepared for heavy online traffic. Expect to see more site activity starting with Black Friday on the 25th with a ramp-up on Cyber-Monday on November 28th and continued high activity through the rest of the season.  Make sure that you have adequate bandwidth to accommodate this traffic without any slowdowns.

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5 Interesting Sources for Seasonal Employees

by Employee ‎11-21-2016 01:52 PM - edited ‎11-21-2016 01:54 PM

Holiday Help-revised.pngThe holiday season is upon us, and many small businesses must supplement their regular staff in order to meet customer needs and continue to provide excellent service.

Where should you look for qualified seasonal employees? Running an ad in the newspaper or other logical places is an option, as is connecting with a temporary staffing agency.  In addition to these “mainstream” sources, here are five sources that you may not have thought of:

 

Contact your local high school or college. Many students have a long break during the holidays and would welcome the opportunity to make some extra money with seasonal employment. Depending on what type of help you need, a local college or high school could be an excellent source. Contact their main administration office and let them know what you need; they can steer you to the right person or department.

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Turn 60 seconds into $200

by Employee ‎11-15-2016 12:37 PM - edited ‎11-22-2016 12:31 PM

 

Small Biz Saturday creative.jpgJoin hundreds of other small business owners to celebrate Small Business Saturday® in a really special way and you could receive $200 worth of AMEX® gift cards*.

 

*Offer ends 11:59 p.m. ET 11/30/16 or when supplies of gift cards have been exhausted, whichever is sooner. Open only to legal U.S. residents, 18 or older, who own a business located in a Verizon service area in one of the following states:  CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and VA.  Void outside area listed and where prohibited.  Limit one (1) gift card award per company.  See Terms at smallbizrewards.verizon.com/amexvideo for complete details. Terms and conditions apply to gift card use.  This offer is not sponsored or administered by American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

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The Verizon Small Biz Rewards program is one of the best kept secrets among participating small business owners, like you.  The benefits of the program are many but the cost to join is nothing, it is free.   

 

This free rewards program offers small businesses the opportunity to earn points by doing what you would normally do. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on qualified Verizon services you are already using*.  Then convert those points into gift cards from favorite retailers like Starbucks or Macy’s.

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Alexandria Wilkis Wilson (2).jpgHaving been active in the start-up trenches for the past 9 years of my career, I can honestly say that there is nothing like the thrill of being a part of a start-up in hyper growth.

 

Many people often say that entrepreneurship is like a roller coaster, and I couldn’t agree more. There are people who love roller coasters and want to ride them again and again. I’m one of those people. I love the crank part of the ride when reaching the tippy top, because it is filled with anticipation, excitement and the unknown. There’s no turning back at that moment you reach the top. The next few minutes are entirely out of my control and yet feel strangely safe to me. Strapped in, it feels like a calculated risk, not a reckless one. Going down in a roller coaster is the really fun part. I like to scream as loud as I can with my hands in the air. Often I laugh uncontrollably, tears in my eyes from the wind, or from joy, possibly even fear? It is such a rush to go zooming downward at 60+ miles an hour, then back up again slowly, only to confront new twists and turns as the ride continues.

 

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Business Digital Voice: The Big Biz Tool for Small Biz Success

by Employee ‎10-12-2016 07:46 AM - edited ‎11-08-2016 10:20 AM

Today, there are still many small businesses that don’t enjoy the advanced telephony features that big-businesses use every day. In the past, on-the-go entrepreneurs had few options for managing incoming and outgoing calls and those proved to be inefficient or cumbersome; they either had to wait to get to the office, which impacted response time to valuable customers, or call from their mobile devices and do without the branding and other features of the in-office system.

Enter digital voice, another name for what is known by techies as “Voice over Internet Protocol” or VoIP.

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You, Your Brand, and Your Worth

by Employee ‎09-26-2016 08:00 AM

Carmen Wong headshot (1).jpgI remember coming home from school one day distraught. Still in my grade school uniform, I told my mother that I had been teased (yet again) for being different—maybe it was kids making fun of my name, or my hair…It didn’t matter. My takeaway was: I was not like everyone else. And that was bad.

 

My mother’s response shaped my life tremendously. She said, “Don’t you know that that’s what makes you special? That there is no other YOU?” It took a moment for her words to sink in. But I recall the shift in me from feeling lousy and unworthy to realizing that maybe she had a point. That maybe, just maybe, if I turned ‘different’ into a plus rather than a minus, I’d be O.K.

 

Decades into a successful career built off of my personal brand, I can say she was very right.

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Verizon Is Helping to Fuel the Adoption of Voice over Internet Protocol

by Employee ‎09-20-2016 07:50 AM - edited ‎11-08-2016 10:21 AM

When the analysts at Persistence Market Research (PMR) announced earlier this summer that the global VoIP services market would more than double over the next eight years it re-affirmed what many of Verizon’s customers already know - there are compelling reasons for businesses to adopt the use of VoIP.

 

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VZMBACAM-79_MBAannouncement_2016PetSweepsWinners_300x150_v1 (1).jpgIs saying goodbye to summer, which is never long enough, bringing your spirits down?  Are you missing the dog days of summer already?  Do you need a refuge from the craziness of increased traffic and the disappointment caused by shorter days?  Don’t despair—we have something that will place a smile on your face and put you in a better mood, regardless of the changing seasons.

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Back to School.jpg

There are parents rejoicing and children lamenting as we enter the Back-to-School season.  We always think of this season as a time for children.  Kids running for the school bus, entering a new grade, or young adults embarking on their college experience—these are the sights of this time of year.

 

You may be experiencing some or all of these occurrences in your household, but how are you utilizing this Back to School season for yourself and your business? Change the paradigm as to how you think about this time of year.  It is not just for kids.  At the core of this season is the idea of new beginnings and learning information that will take you to the next plateau in life.

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Striking the Critical Small Business Social Media Content Balance

by Employee ‎08-30-2016 01:41 PM - edited ‎09-01-2016 12:06 PM

Anyone who caught my recent webinar, “How Shrewd Small Businesses Catch Customers via Social Media,” knows I am a firm believer that small businesses must use social media in conjunction with other digital or internet marketing tools to maximize ROI.

 

As Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report illuminates, the majority of small business owners aren’t connecting sales or ROI with social media spend and effort. While, conceivably, small businesses could use Google Analytics and even paid tools like Simply Measured, the likelihood owners go that direction is low. First, as simple as they try to make it, Google Analytics can be intimidating. Then, Simply Measured prices start at $500 per month . . . what the majority of small businesses can spend on their entire marketing program, offline and online.

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Every community has unexpected tragedies and people who need a helping hand.  We often expect that large corporations will run to the rescue but small businesses can make major impacts on our communities.  Local communities benefit greatly from small businesses as employers and partners in the success of the neighborhoods in which they’ve built their foundation.    It is important that small businesses have a presence in the community by showing their social responsibility.

 

What is Social Responsibility? It is when a company not only focuses on the bottom line but also recognizes their responsibility to society and how they can impact it. 

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Are you looking for ways to improve your small biz website’s rank on Google? Want to learn advanced search engine optimization tactics for your website? Enjoy the latest article by Evan Bailyn, our webinar speaker and best-selling author of Outsmarting Google and SEO Made Easy.

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The Small Biz Rewards Pet Pic Sweepstakes Continues… Is Your Pet Camera Ready?

by Employee ‎07-13-2016 07:13 AM - edited ‎07-13-2016 07:21 AM

Take Your Dog to Work Day has come and gone but the dog days of summer are still here.

 

Did you know Take Your Dog to Work Day was started by Pet Sitters International in 1999? Take Your Dog to Work Day allows employers and employees the opportunity to appreciate the companionship pets provide and promote pet adoption.   Although, the day is over, we encourage you to keep the spirit and the celebration of our furry friends going.  The Small Biz Rewards Pet Pic Sweepstakes is still accepting your pooches’ pictures.

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Verizon Small Business recently conducted a three-month study to find out what online and social media content matters the most to small business owners across America. A diverse pool of over 9,000 Small Business Rewards members completed the study in mid-June 2016. Respondents’ businesses included restaurants, small retailers, home improvement services, beauty salons, real estate companies, medical provider offices, veterinarians, legal services, non-profits, and churches, among others.

 

Here are a few interesting insights from the survey:

Most small business owners who completed the survey are interested in learning more about new technology (40.3%) and marketing (30.4%). Testimonials (12.5%) and new trends (11.6%) sparked a moderate interest. Surprisingly, infographic was the least popular type of content among small business owners (2%).

 

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A guest article by Tyler Cohen Wood

 

 

Tyler Cohen Wood is a cyber-authority with 17 years of highly technical experience and 13 years working for the Department of Defense (DoD). An Internet Intelligence expert and author, Wood is relied on for her wealth of knowledge, insider experience, and tried-and-true techniques.  Join her for a free webinar, sponsored by Verizon, on May 25th at 2 PM ET and learn about data, privacy and how to avoid attacks that can derail your business and life. Register now!

 

A late 2015 report from insurer Nationwide revealed that 63 percent of small business owners have fallen victim to at least one type of cyberattack.1 The risk to small business owners’ intellectual property and tradecraft is greater than ever before. One cause of this is that businesses rely on software and automated remote methods to conduct their business and secure their data and client transactions. The more software, hardware and digital remote devices we rely on, statically the more vulnerabilities we face.

In today’s fast-paced business world, working away from the office using mobile devices for telecommuting and productivity has become mainstream. But how do we know what private data, tradecraft or intellectual property this technology might be unknowingly giving away to corporate spies, hackers or data marketers?

 

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Control the Control-ables

by Employee ‎04-20-2016 01:52 PM

A Guest Article by Rhonda Kallman

 

Well, on this topic I can speak from experience…many times over! One event that happened is worth sharing, if only to highlight that there needs to always be Plan B, C, D, Etc.

 

Given that I had been in the beer industry for 15 years, I expected the battle for shelf space, for recognition from distributors and for the financial backing to sustain a new brewing business wasn’t going to be easy. I remembered what it was like how Jim Koch and I had to bootstrap Sam Adams and how that brand started as a spit in the market. Here I was, in 2001, prepared to go at it again by starting a new beer company that I hoped would be an incubator for the beer industry.

 

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The newness of Spring, brings new growth and there is no time like the present to cultivate your blossoming business ideas that are just waiting to be launched. Or are you an established business that needs advice on how to grow to greater heights? Although entrepreneurs are often at different stages of growth some keys to success are consistent, the need for resources and mentors.

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Don’t Get Caught Up in Foolery

by Employee ‎03-31-2016 09:59 AM - edited ‎03-31-2016 10:01 AM

This April Fool’s Day don’t get caught in business foolery. Enjoy the time you spend building your business but try to stay away from these tricks.

 

1) Dreams Need Structure

 

Don’t be tricked into thinking a great idea is all you need. Dreams are the essence of why you start a business, but without some structure, the dream can become an unruly nightmare.  Create a business plan or a business model.  Determine how your dream will work. How it is structured?  Who is your audience? How is your product made? How do you make money, etc.

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The Biggest Leadership Myth

by Employee ‎03-21-2016 08:53 AM

A Guest Article by Susan Packard

 

“I’m great at brainstorming and getting things started. I’m not so great at follow through. When will I get to be a compete leader?”

 

This was a question a young woman asked of me last fall, when I keynoted a Michigan Entrepreneur’s Day in metro Detroit. It was fascinating to learn about the new business ideas these young, just –out-of-college graduates were cooking up. If you read my bio you might think I’ve been one of those “corporate” types, as I’ve worked in established companies like HBO, NBC and Scripps. But from the time I was out of school I, too, loved to build business ideas. And I was like that young woman who asked the question at the event-- process was not my thing.

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Are you looking for helpful Search Engine Optimization tips to improve your small business' bottom line? Evan Bailyn, our webinar speaker and best-selling author of Outsmarting Google and SEO Made Easy, will walk you through the new opportunities available in 2016 for using SEO to help increase your bottom line in a secure and ethical way.

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Women-Owned Small Businesses Spotlight: Timeline Video

by Employee ‎03-03-2016 03:40 PM - edited ‎03-09-2016 10:34 AM

Twenty-two years ago, Timeline Video started as a home-based business, in Diane Cricchio’s spare bedroom of her rented apartment.   Inspired by other creative women, while working as a video editor, Diane Cricchio, CEO and Creative Director, wanted to give life to stories and share her voice with others.

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An entrepreneur is a professional who discovers opportunities and determines how to leverage those opportunities into greater success for the organization. Entrepreneurs have vision, passion and drive. They see opportunities where others see only risk. They tend to be optimists and believe that they can succeed even when others tell them they cannot. Entrepreneurs develop ideas, sure, but they are also willing to get their hands dirty and do the work necessary to make their vision become a reality.

 

This spirit of entrepreneurship starts with understanding your colleagues and coworkers. Today’s workers want more than just a paycheck; they want to feel a sense of ownership. A true measure of leadership is to create a culture based on dependability and genuineness and a sense of belonging.  Business owners must live the core values of their company’s culture and demonstrate their sincerity by getting really excited about the work they’re doing. Enthusiasm is contagious!

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Finding new customers is, without a doubt, the most difficult and stressful aspect for any business seeking to grow or expand. There are many ways to make prospecting for new clients less like a chore and more like extending your amazing family.

 

Prospecting is more of an attitude than a cumbersome and difficult activity. Since you can’t predict where your next customer lead will develop, it’s good to always have an open mind and spirit for embracing the unknown. You can generate leads almost anywhere, from your child’s basketball game to the grocery line to sitting in the waiting room at the auto shop…or even in the Santa line at the mall. Don’t think of prospecting as quoting product features and service benefits; rather, think about it as relationship-building and giving people a reason to believe in you and your company—and a reason to buy. That’s the magic of any season!

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According to a well-worn business adage, "Customers don't buy products, they buy you." In essence, building strong customer relationships is essential to the long-term health of your business. It’s critical to focus on every aspect of the customer experience to ensure repeat business. From the very first encounter, be sure to show a sincere interest in your customers and remember their preferences.

 

Often customers will both recognize and appreciate that you are paying attention and making a conscious investment in them. Not only does this increase the chances for an immediate sale but it also makes it more likely that your customer will speak highly of you and your business to his or her friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

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Small Business Saturday is coming up later this week on November 28th.  Is your small business "tech-ready" to handle all of your customers' needs? 

 

Tell us how your business is using technology to get ready for this big shopping day and you could win up to $1,000 in American Express gift cards. There will be multiple winners and a variety of prize levels.  Click here to enter your contact information and your response, as well as to view the contest rules and eligibility restrictions.  The contest ends this coming Friday, 11/27, at 11:59 pm ET, so enter now before you get too tied up in all the Thanksgiving holiday festivities. 

 

Did we mention that there will lots of winners and prize levels?  There will be lots of winners and prize levels!  Enter here.

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Today’s smart tip is an amazingly cost-effective way to spread the word about your small business. “Partnership Marketing” is a way of developing relationships with other companies that share similar lists of targeted customers.

 

How partnerships develop is malleable and can take many forms. No matter the nature of your partnership, a collaborative arrangement is a great way to do more with less. It can provide new opportunities for growth while preserving valuable capital and resources. You’ll have a greater presence in your traditional market plus your new alliance will open up opportunities with a broader range of customers.

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Rethink, reinvent and relaunch

by Employee ‎11-10-2015 12:17 PM - edited ‎11-10-2015 12:18 PM

The world is changing at a perpetually increasing pace. How well is your business keeping up?

 

Take a look around. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the growing plethora of social media offerings have forever changed our mobile communications landscape. According to Nielsen, more people now access the Internet using cell phones instead of PCs.

 

Consumer behaviors are also clearly changing in response to these technological innovations. From Baby Boomers to Millennials, the populace is becoming savvier to online buying and selling. They’re also more willing to share their thoughts about products and services through online reviews. Focusing on new ways to attract and keep customers in a generally lukewarm market will give you a powerful edge over your competitors.

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Join Verizon and Clint Bruce for a free webinar on November 13th

by Employee ‎11-04-2015 10:21 AM - edited ‎11-10-2015 12:19 PM

Please join us on Friday, November 13th at 2:00 pm ET for a free, online webinar featuring Clint Bruce.

 

Mr. Bruce, a former Navy SEAL, possesses three traits that help his small businesses and foundation run smoothly: a military background, a disciplined approach, and a passion for what he does. Hear the story behind his motto, “Hold fast, stay true.”

 

Since leaving the U.S. Navy, Mr. Bruce has founded two companies and one Foundation: TRG -- the trusted advisor in risks to America's best businesses, leaders, and families; HoldFast -- a speakers’ bureau that provides world-class speakers to top-tier companies by coaching and employing both veterans and transitioning professional athletes; and, Carry the Load -- a foundation created to help meet America’s desire to honor their fallen firefighters, law enforcement officers, rescue personnel and military during the month of May.

 

To register for Mr. Bruce's live webinar, brought to you exclusively by Verizon, please click here or visit: http://verizon.com/webinar

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About Verizon's Small Business
Get news from Verizon about small business services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon small business 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 Small Business

Photo of Tumara Jordan

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


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