Why The Power of Ideas is the New Business Sensation

The Power of Ideas is the New Business Sensation

Created by The Economic Times of India during the economic downturn of 2009, The Power of Ideas scheme aims to create entrepreneurs and help them to develop successful businesses through investment and mentoring.

The Power of Ideas Helps Entrepreneurs

More than 12,500 business hopefuls submitted ideas to The Power of Ideas scheme in 2015. Of these, 1,000 potential entrepreneurs received mentoring and training from business leaders and venture capitalists. To date, The Power of Ideas scheme has fully funded 20 new business ideas across India.

The Economic Times set up The Power of Ideas program to overturn the traditional business wisdom that says companies should lie low and ride out the economic storm.

 The Power of Ideas scheme encourages business hopefuls “to break free of the corporate chains suppressing their entrepreneurial energy and write their own destiny.”

The Power of Ideas 2016 Program

The Power of Ideas program returned in 2016, this time backed by the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology. The government is helping to fund the scheme as well as offering its own knowledge and expertise to help the country’s next generation of tycoons.

India’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship also supports The Power of Ideas. It has created a support network for mentoring entrepreneurs, developing them to the point of being “investor ready.”

How “The Power of Ideas” Works

The Power of Ideas is a four stage process:

  • Submission: The Power of Ideas applicants fill in a business summary format online. The Power of Ideas offers free “startup sessions” to help entrepreneurs with their application. Submissions are welcome from all types of business, from established companies with a good idea to inventors developing product prototypes.
  • Mentoring and Elevator Pitches: Hundreds of experiences evaluators check through all submissions to The Power of Ideas scheme. Approved applicants receive one-to-one mentoring from business experts to give them the necessary skills for pitching their ideas to would-be investors.
  • Incubation: The most promising applicants from The Power of Ideas elevator pitch stage get their business ideas developed at the Indian Institute of Ahmedabad, a business incubator, for 10 days. This is an all expenses paid residential course.
  • Felicitation Dinner: The lucky applicants to The Power of Ideas who make it to this stage attend a networking event and dinner with potential investors. They are guaranteed funds from venture capitalists and angel investors to help them develop their business idea.

The Power of Ideas is a unique partnership between government, academia and business. The collaboration has proved so successful that other nations may follow suit and set up their own version of The Power of Ideas.

The IRS Website–Small Business Expenses

The IRS Website--Small Business Expenses

A trick of the trade for a tax professional in a super hurry is to “Google” the tax subject and then select the IRS link that rises to the top of the Google search. The IRS website is very large. The entire Internal Revenue Manual (their in-house training and instructions) is posted on their website. Learning to use their advanced search options is helpful, but can still be a time-consuming endeavor. There are 15 areas into which a taxpayer can narrow its search for information on the IRS website.

Most Taxpayers Do Not Know About the Business Section of the IRS Website

The IRS has a series of Small Business Video and Audio Presentations pertinent to many current tax issues. The page can be found at this link http:/www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=97726,00.html and speaks for itself. There are topics ranging from business income, cancelled debt, recordkeeping, closing a business, employment taxes, employing family members, the IRS collection process, online auctions—to list a few. These presentations are well-done and when possible (if not limited by the complexity of the topic), very complete.

On this page also is a link to the “Small Business Tax Workshop Video.” This is a good video, AND in conjunction with the other videos on this page PLUS a taxpayer’s consultation with its tax professional, should give many a small business owner (self-employed or corporate) a good basis for knowing what is needed to keep the records organized and claim their legitimate deductions.

Finding Other Information Relating to Self-Employment on the IRS Website

Reading the menu bar of this busy website is helpful. Underneath the IRS logo in the upper left corner there is a ribbon-type menu. It starts with “Individuals,” followed by “Businesses.” Using this menu bar can save a searcher time.

Once the searcher (or taxpayer) clicks “Businesses” on the ribbon menu, a set of business types appears immediately below. Then also notice on the left are several other links within the website relating to topics that may be of interest to small business owners.

The Taxpayer Is Responsible for the Veracity of Its Federal Income Tax Return.

Learning how to find relevant information on the IRS website is an art because of the size of the website. Learning how to zoom in on the topics of interest to a business taxpayer can be very helpful to a taxpayer in expanding upon the knowledge it gains from short articles on the Internet.

Marketing a Small Business for Little to No Cost

Marketing a Small Business for Little to No Cost

Many people associate marketing with television, radio and print ads, but marketing includes any tools or strategies used to spread awareness and good word-of-mouth about your business. Potential clients or customers typically need to see your business name several times before they will be willing to pick up the phone and dial your number. Good small business marketing does take time, so don’t expect instant results. Use marketing tools to plants seeds for future business opportunities. It can take three months or more to see results from most low-cost marketing strategies.

Business Marketing Points

Figure out what sets your business apart from the competition. Why would a prospective customer choose your business over other local businesses that provide similar services? Check out the competition. Make a list of all the things that make your business better. These will be your key marketing points.

Media Marketing: Submit Press Releases

Write press releases about anything your business does that is even remotely newsworthy. Submit your press releases to your local community newspaper and area newspapers with wider readership. When newspapers have a small amount of blank space to be filled, they often use press releases to fill that space. You will also be putting your name in front of local media representatives. If a reporter needs to interview someone in your business field, she is more likely to contact you if your name is familiar to her. Did your business donate to a local charity auction? Submit a press release. Do you offer a service no other local business offers? Submit a press release. Are you teaching classes or running a promotion? Submit a press release. If you have a website for your business, publish your press releases to a “news” or “press release” page.

Social Media Marketing

Set up pages on social networking sites solely for your business. Utilize Facebook and Myspace. Update your status at least daily, and list any special offers, sales or promotions. Ask current clients to “follow” or “friend” your business; that way, friends of your current clients will see your information as well. Remember to stay positive in your posts on social networking sites and avoid any political, religious or negative posts or comments. These pages represent your business, not your personal views.

Blog Marketing

Start blogging about your business and the services you provide. For example, if you run a massage therapy practice, write blogs about the different types of massages you provide, what first-time customers should know, and how massage therapy helps with different issues. Create two to three new blog posts each week. Share your blog posts on the social networking sites you created for your business. Use keyword research and search engine optimization to help web users find your blog. If you aren’t confident in your writing skills, find someone to ghostwrite your blog for pay or trade.

Marketing Communications: Newsletters for Clients

You can create an email newsletter that lists any specials, sales or promotions, links to your social networking pages, and information from your blog. Direct this newsletter to current clients and encourage forwarding to anyone who might find the information useful or interesting. If possible, include a special offer, discount or printable coupon that can only be received in the newsletter. Make sure you avoid spamming by always including a link to unsubscribe. Many online services, such as Constant Contact, offer tools to help design a newsletter as well as email database subscription services.

Marketing Communications: Newsletters for Referrers

It may be helpful to create an email newsletter for people who are likely to refer business to you. For example, if you run a massage therapy practice, you may get referrals from chiropractors; direct an email newsletter to local chiropractic care providers and let them know why they should refer their patients to you. Include information from your list of things that make your business better than the competition. If you offer any incentives for referrals, include that information as well.

Marketing with Online Classified Ads

Many people find service providers by searching craigslist.com or other online classified ads. Consider paying the fee to post ads in the appropriate section. Keep your ad short and to the point, but make sure to include information about specials, promotions and sales. Update your ads weekly.

Directory Listing Marketing

Find listings for your business on as many online directories as possible and check them for accuracy and completeness. Claim listings whenever possible. Find your business on online map services and claim those listings as well. Keep the information current.

Marketing with Referral Programs

Word of mouth may be the easiest, least expensive way to increase your client base. Create a referral program to reward current clients for referring new clients to your business. Include an incentive. For example, if you run a massage therapy practice, give the referring customer a discount on his next massage, or offer a free half-hour massage for every five paying referrals. Make sure all current clients are aware of your referral program. Always thank people for referring new customers to you.

Acquire Testimonials for Marketing

Ask current customers for testimonials about your business. Have a form for customers to fill out, and ask them to fill it out before they leave. Send emails to current customers asking for testimonials. Testimonials can be used on your website, blog, social networking sites and online ads. Make sure customers are aware that their testimonials may be published online.

Benefits of Starting a Small Business: Personal and Economic

Benefits of Starting a Small Business

Practically all governments provide small business help in different forms. The help ranges from small business advice to small business services such as organizing training programs. They do these things not just for the votes of the small business owners but also because they realize that the economy of the country depends on the contributions from small business.

Benefits of Starting a Small Business

Running her or his own business in an expression of freedom and dignity for the small businessperson and it also provides the person with a living. Small business owners can enjoy the rewards of their own skills, decisions and efforts. This is far from the case of a corporate employee, who typically has to spend a lot of time in political manoeuvres to protect his or her interests.

Small businesspersons are typically very interested in what they do and become quite skilled in doing it. They are also more well-rounded persons with multiple skills, including people skills. They have the opportunity to live their passions.

 Small businesses are less strictly regulated than big businesses, which have to file numerous returns with the government, and publish full information about their operating results and other aspects. Big businesses are also closely watched by the general public and receive a great deal of criticism for everything they do. As a small businessperson, you can remain more of a private person and focus on serving your customers and your community.

And many small businesses earn big money.

Benefits to Customers

Studies have indicated that small businesses are more ethical and responsible in their conduct than big corporations, which are often managed by ruthless managers who have worked their way up the corporate jungle the hard way. They are typically far removed from the customers they serve.

Small businesspersons, on the other hand, are close to their customers and realize that their very survival depends on satisfying their customers. The very small businessperson typically knows each and every customer individually and can cater to each in a personalized way. “Small is great for customers” as Dr Wilson remarks in an article on Small Business Benefits. As he remarks, the attempt to find the person who can help you will usually drive you batty in a megacorp.

Small business marketing tends to be more customer-oriented than a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) exercise.

Benefits to the Economy

Studies have revealed that more than half the jobs in the U.S. are created by small businesses. They contribute more than one third of the total national income. And they drive innovation, accounting for more than half the technological innovations. They can also adapt to changing conditions in the market with far greater agility than corporate behemoths.

This is the major reason for governments to encourage small businesses. It is jobs that sustain an economy and innovations that lead to progress and growth. Any sector that contributes so hugely in these areas cannot but be critical to the economy.

Benefits to the Public

As mentioned earlier, studies have indicated that small businesses are more responsible and ethical. In general, they act more responsibly towards the environment and their communities. Few small businesses can cause damages such as a major oil spill or a major economic disaster that big businesses can.

The public is safer with small business, though they cannot do without big business in such sectors as constructing a huge dam or creating the communication infrastructure.

Small businesses sustain a country’s economy by creating more jobs and innovations, contributing in a major way to the national income and being more responsible in their behaviour. They are also able to meet niche customer needs that have too little volumes to interest big corporations. Above all, small businesses allow the small businessperson earn a living with independence and dignity. Benefits of small business are indeed many.

Spring Cleaning for Small Businesses: Spruce up the Shop to Gear up for a New Season

Spring Cleaning for Small Businesses

Even the most well organized business owner gets a bit bogged down during the Autumn/Winter seasons. A stray Christmas poster lingers on a back wall or a bin filled with discounted holiday items continues to sit on an out of the way counter. Spring is the perfect time to get the shop or office back in shape and looking its best.

Make a List of Tasks and Necessary Repairs

The first step is often as simple as walking through the building with a notepad and a pen in hand. Write down every item that needs attention, from the dusty vent near the ceiling to that table with the wobbly leg that needs to be repaired. This list is important for two reasons. It helps the business owner remember all those little things that tend to get overlooked and it can become a master checklist for Spring cleaning tasks that employees should work on during down time.

 Redo all Windows and Table Displays

It doesn’t matter how many rave reviews that witty and attractive window display received in November. Several months later, customers have seen it so many times that it has become stale and uninteresting. Follow these steps for a fresh new display area:

  • Remove everything from display areas, including backdrops or table cloths.
  • Be sure to clean and repair all items that will go back into these areas as part of the new displays and store any items that won’t be used until next year in clearly labeled containers.
  • Wash all windows, vacuum all floor areas and touch up any chipped paint. Polish any wooden surfaces in the display area.
  • Set up an attractive new display in Spring colors. Remember to keep things simple and uncluttered.

Reclaim Cluttered Areas

Bulletin boards for patrons to hang notices or ads on and racks that contain helpful literature are nice touches for businesses that want to become a bigger part of the community. However, as time passes, they start to look very cluttered and messy. Those out of date, faded and torn notices just start to make these areas look unattractive and less useful.

For a quick fix, remove all items from that outdated bulletin board. Put a fresh piece of paper on the board or give it a few coats of paint to spruce it up. Then, date each notice that is still valid and rehang them all neatly on the board. If you date each notice as it is hung, you can see at a glance which ones are ready to come down and it will be much easier to keep the board looking attractive.

Walking into a building that is freshly cleaned and has beautifully organized displays and community areas will make even the most tired business owner feel great. Even better, customers will enjoy the inviting atmosphere of a business that took the time to do a good Spring cleaning.

Free Small Business Inventory Control Software: Simple Assets Inventory Tracking and Management Systems Review

Free Small Business Inventory Control Software

Inventory software help people track equipment or materials of their assets in the business of retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution. For example, a book store owner can find the stock of each book anytime with the help of book inventory software in his computer, while a wine retailer can track how many bottles of 2002 burgundy wine he has through a wine inventory program.

People can choose commercial or free inventory management systems for their business.

Barcode Inventory Software for Material Requirements Planning and Point of Sale

Proprietary inventory software may cost hundreds or thousands of US dollars, which depend on the differences of software companies, versions, numbers of users, and sometimes even the cost of hardware. For example, an edition of Wasp Barcode Inventory Software is priced at around $400, which uses a laser barcode scanner to automatically identify and record the inventory objects and track the sales. This kind of inventory system can be used as Point of Sale (POS) software or Material Requirements Planning (MRP) software. The best products in this catalogue also include Teklynx International, IntelliTrack, Seagull, IBM, Intuit, and Quickbooks inventory software.

Simple Online Web Based Inventory Systems

Online inventory software offers an easy way for business owners to get started. They can just sign up and use the inventory system online in minutes while don’t have to download or install any software. This kind of services includes:

InventoryBox is an online inventory management system. It integrates the functions of purchase management, point of sale, vendor management, accounting and invoicing services. InventoryBox offers a free version without the function of multiple-location inventory management, with which a user can send only 10 documents a month. Their unlimited enterprise version is priced at $99.95 a month.

Another online inventory service provider Visual Inventory offers a different pricing tactic. They sell their professional version at a set price of $1,995, which has no monthly fees.

Free Inventory Management Software Download

While commercial software or online services may cost thousands of dollars, there are a lot of kinds of free inventory management software available for small business owners or home users. They include:

Best Accounting Basic is inventory and property management software based on Best CashBook. Though this program is not freeware, anyone can get a key for free now. It offers the functions of financial and sale management, order management, inventory control, customer relationship, supplier management, and tax accounting.

NolaPro is a free web based inventory system that integrates the functions of ERP, accounting, and payroll software. It includes the modules of inventory tracking and management, payroll accounting, Point of Sale (POS), tax accounting, order management, and shopping cart. It allows unlimited simultaneous users and has no data restrictions. NolaPro is a good choice for online book or wine inventory systems.

Free inventory software are mature for traditional assets and property management, while modern systems using bar codes or RFID tags may need supports from software companies.

Patrick Mackaronis: Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business

Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business Affordably I

The following is a post from Brabble director of business development Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of entrepreneurship and startups, and has been a self-starting businessman for years.

Starting a successful new business will always come with certain costs attached, especially if the prospective new business owner wants to sell tangible goods they have made or plan to purchase at wholesale prices and re-sell for a profit.

Selling One’s Own Products and Services

If the new business owner wishes to sell products they have made themselves, there will be the cost of the items involved and any special equipment required for the running of the business. The good news is that in many cases the entrepreneur has probably been working on these items as a hobby for years and will have gradually built up equipment and supplies.

In most cases, the entrepreneur should also be able to run the business out of their own home, in which case they can derive some tax benefits in the form of deductions for the percentage of the home which is used solely for the purpose of running the business, such as a spare room or garage.

They will probably also already have a computer and some sort of software to help with recordkeeping and accounting. Setting up a website should take more time than money, as will online marketing of the new business. In terms of effective market research, from having worked in the field for some time, they should have a good idea of who their market is and how much they can realistically sell their products for.

The main issue in starting a business such as this will be leveraging time and effort. With only 24 hours in a day and many people working a regular job and dealing with family issues, their time to produce their goods will be limited. Similarly, anyone offering a service such as dog-walking, babysitting, in-home day care and so on will also find that they have only so many hours in the day to work and need to balance all of their time demands plus continue to market their business effectively. Therefore, any price charged needs to reflect the value of time, a fair rate and a livable wage unless the new business owner intends it to remain more of a hobby than a stream of income.

Selling Wholesale Products

For those wishing to sell wholesale, there will be the price of the products to be sold and a location in which the work is to be conducted. This could be a small office, showroom or a stall at the local market, all of which will entail paying rent of some sort, which will be tax deductible. If the new business owner plans to sell online, there will also be picking packing and shipping costs and the cost of the packaging itself, such as boxes, cartons and bubble wrap. Remember to keep all receipts for tax purposes.

These start up costs can add up very quickly, but one way to avoid this is to buy on consignment, only paying for the products once they are sold. Business owners can also get a line of credit, or pay within a certain time frame, such as 30, 60 or 90 days.

The new business should have a website and its own bank account and business identity as some form of corporation in order to protect the owner in terms of tax considerations and legal issues. There are far more deductions permitted to a corporation such as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or an S Corporation or C Corporation than to an individual. They will probably want to set up a completely separate computing and accounting system for this type of business, which will also add to the start-up costs. Finally, they might have to consider hiring staff to help them run this type of business.

Congress Attempts Small Business Assistance: Bills Slowly Move Through the Houses

Congress Attempts Small Business Assistance

Democrats in both houses have proposed legislation to solve some of the capital problems small businesses still experience. If passed during the economic recovery, the bills would increase the government backing for bank loans and offer owners the opportunity to develop science and technology for the government.

Senator Landrieu and Representative Velazquez Still Follow President’s Lead

For the second year, the chairs of the two small business committees are acting to fulfill the President’s small business agenda. Senator Mary Landrieu (LA) said she supports all of his initiatives for increasing both the activity on main street and export volume. In her words, the measures are “simple, inexpensive ways we can make a big impact.” (Landrieu Praises President’s Commitment to Make Small Business a Key Priority). Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY) also approves of the agenda.

Obama made statements during the State of the Union speech proposing to help small businesses grow and create jobs. The first goal is to put more government dollars behind loans and credit offers so entrepreneurs can secure funds to finance plans. With more capital in the coffers, companies can afford to hire more workers.

Proposed Legislation Would Support Enterprise Success

The lawmakers are concerned many entrepreneurs still do not have the finances they need to float their boats during this period of economic uncertainty. Now that the recession has continued for over a year, reduced lending has prevented new start-ups and limited growth. More than 85 percent of the jobs lost were at small businesses.

Bill measures would increase government financial assistance to close the funding gap caused by the large drop in available credit. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship approved the Small Business Job Creation and Access to Capital Act last December. If passed by the House, the money for the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan guarantees would increase and the guarantee limit would go up. The House passed similar legislation with a bipartisan vote of 389 to 32.

Without legislative action, two popular SBA programs for scientific and technological development will end. Entrepreneurs can benefit from government funding when they agree to work on new ideas for the Small Business innovation Research program or the Small Business Technology Transfer program. The two programs will receive lengthy extensions to 2020 and 2015, and more budget funds, if the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act passes the House.

The Small Business Export and International Trade Act would raise the SBA’s limits for total outstanding loans to small businesses that engage in international trade. Senators chose this proposal for the years Obama wants to create jobs by increasing exports. The congresspersons know owners of small enterprises contribute 29 percent of the export volume, but foreign trade is often too costly.

The House’s Ranking Republican Committee Member Stays on Middle Ground

Although Representative Sam Graves (MO) believes in creating jobs by stimulating small business growth, he opposes the legislative plan because owners would have too many financial limitations. (Opening Statement for Hearing on “Increasing Access to Capital for Small Business,”). With higher taxes to pay for health care, the greater loan funds are offset. In the Republican’s view, the enterprises can rely on entrepreneurial initiative to grow again if capital availability returns to a middle level, in between the height in 2010 and the low in 2013, and government does not regulate the growth.

Assistance Depends Upon Adequate Bipartisan Support in the House

The price small businesses have to pay for taxes could limit Republican support. The Senate Committee led by Mary Landrieu has approved the slate of bills that increase availability of funds for enterprises here and abroad. But, the full Presidential agenda has House Republicans concerned the funds will not be enough for owners to overcome cost concerns.

Representative Velazquez will have to convince enough Republicans they can trust that giving the SBA more money will improve the numbers of success stories. Without entrepreneurial success, the bipartisan goal for job creation can not be met.