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Take Better Care of Yourself in 2012

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Owning a small business is a stressful endeavor. Managing inventory, meeting quarterly sales goals, handling personnel issues, trying to plan ahead — the weight of it all can, at times, make you want to go into hiding. A better solution, however, is to find ways to take care of yourself, strengthen your ability to confront challenges, and maintain a positive attitude.

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What Not to Ask in a Job Interview

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Be careful what you say when interviewing potential employees: Various federal and state laws protect job applicants from discrimination related to their nationality, family status, disability, sex, age, or religion. Phrasing a question incorrectly — even if you’re simply making small talk — could put you at risk of a lawsuit.

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Why Do Independent Contractors Cost So Much?

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So you decided to hire an independent contractor instead of a new employee to handle certain tasks, and now you’re experiencing a bit of sticker shock. Why should you pay $80 an hour for a freelance PR consultant when you’d only pay her $35 an hour as a salaried staff member? Is she gouging you? No, she’s not. Independent contractors incur a range of small-business expenses, much like your company, so it’s unfair to compare their rates with the wages of an in-house employee.

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The Pros and Cons of Venture Funding

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An instant infusion of cash is an enticing business proposition, but is accepting money from outsiders in your best interest? Consider the following pros and cons before seeking venture funding or angel investments:

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4 of America-s Best Startup Incubators

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You have a fantastic idea for a business, but not enough cash or connections to get it off the ground. A startup incubator or accelerator may be the ideal solution. These programs provide initial seed funding (in exchange for an equity share), support, mentoring, and the opportunity to spend several months focused on nothing but your business.

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5 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty

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Most companies know that long-term customers are the lifeblood of their business, so it’s important to encourage loyalty in everyone who walks through your door or visits your website. Rather than waiting to see whether a particular customer “deserves” special treatment, try treating every patron as special right from the start. Your improved attitude is bound to drive repeat business.

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5 Ways to Get Fit at Work

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From fab to flab — that-s been the trend among U. S. workers for the past 50 years, as we move from manual labor to desk-based tasks. Between 1960 and 2011, the number of jobs -requiring moderate physical activity- decreased from five to two out of every 10, The New York Times reports.

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The Skinny on SBA Financing

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Last week’s recap of the top U. S. Small Business Administration lenders in 2010 covered data from the federal agency’s flagship program, the 7(a) loan, but that’s far from their only option to help fund your business. We thought it would be a great time to provide a quick breakdown of what else they offer.

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Small Business Drives Sustainability in the Biomedical Industry

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Hospitals and laboratories produce millions of tons of waste every year. Disposing of this waste — from biohazardous material to pharmaceuticals — is a complex process that requires careful treatment at significant cost to businesses. The expense and environmental impact of solid-waste disposal makes waste-reduction strategies an extremely important part of sustainability initiatives for the biomedical industry.

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What Do Shoppers Think of Layaway Services?

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The holiday shopping season has begun, and you’re eager to get customers to visit your store and spend money. If they’re hesitant about paying with credit cards and don’t have enough cash for big-ticket items, why not offer an old-fashioned layaway program, just like those your Grandpa once used?

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5 Ways to Make Sure Your Marketing Efforts Pay Off

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You’ve put in hours upon hours spreading the word about your product, but has all your hard work been worth it? Small businesses often commit one of two marketing blunders: They jump from one tactic to another, or they stick way too long to the “tried and true” ads, says Bonnie Harris, principal of Wax Marketing in St. Paul, Minn. Fortunately, you can gauge your success and resolve any problems by accurately measuring the results of your marketing efforts.

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6 Ways to Motivate Workers by Getting Inside Their Heads

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Neuroscience has good news for small businesses: Employees care more about “interesting work” than financial compensation, says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work. Rock’s latest research paper, published in 2008, and still relevant for managers, argues that motivation is hard-wired into our brains, and he sorts those inner drives into five categories: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.

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8 Ways Small Businesses Can Support St. Jude-s Thanks and Giving Program

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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, has been on a mission to save children’s lives ever since it opened its doors 50 years ago. The hospital treats nearly 6,000 young patients annually, and it is committed to finding cures for some of the deadliest childhood diseases. As a research facility, St. Jude has helped improve childhood cancer survival rates to nearly 80 percent, up from less than 20 percent in 1962.

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4 Tips for Making an Impact with Your Business-s Sign

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Can’t afford TV advertising to drive sales? Don’t fret: A recent survey of 100,000 American households shows that store signs rank second, beating other media, in determining where shoppers will buy. Here are four tips for making an impact with your business sign.

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How to Look and Sound Your Best on TV and Radio

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So you’re going to represent your small business on a TV or radio show. Good going! Here’s how to make sure you look and sound professional during your media appearance. Even first-timers can look like veterans by following these tips:

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Edible Insect Chef Garners Attention

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When Monica Martinez debuted her “pre-Hispanic snackeria” at the San Francisco Street Food Festival in August, customers lined up to try her tacos stuffed with insects and larvae. -Don Bugito is a street-food project born as a continuation of my interest in edible insects,- Martinez says.

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5 Upselling Tips to Help You Supersize Your Bottom Line

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“You want fries with that?” That old McDonald’s standby may not be the most elegant example of upselling, but it certainly works. (Admit it, you took the fries. And you supersized them, too.) Why not use similar tactics to generate bigger sales for your small business? Here are five tips for upselling your customers.

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How to Get Started with Content Marketing

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Selling has changed. Many prospective customers are looking for your help, but before they contact you or come into your store, they visit your website. Are these prospective customers going to find the information that they want and need online?

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How to Create a Digital Media Kit

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The media kits that once neatly packed photos and press releases about your company into an attractive folder to be mailed or given to reporters, investors, and other interested parties have become a thing of the past. Savvy small-business owners today offer these materials in electronic format.

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New York-s Heart and Soul Events Wins $25,000 Grant

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Heart and Soul Events in Frankfort, New York is our final October Love A Local Business grant winner! As a recipient of one of our nine $25,000 hiring grants, it joins WEBIT Services and Ferrin Accounting as finalists for the Grand Prize to be handed out in early January.

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Small Business Funding Made Easier!

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“Accessing capital to start a business can be a daunting process, especially for entrepreneurs who start out with a great idea, but have no real familiarity with the business world.”

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4 Simple Ways to Boost Your Holiday Sales

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U. S. consumers are expected to spend 2.8 percent more on holiday gifts this year than they did in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation. But with much of that money destined for big-box stores that offer deep discounts on merchandise, how can your small, independent business make a dent in the market?

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4 Tips for Selling to Nonprofit Organizations

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The United States is home to more than one and a half million registered 501(c)(3) organizations. And even though such groups’ main focus isn’t to bring in big profits, that doesn’t mean they don’t have cash to spare: For instance, nearly 75 percent of surveyed non-profits have used outside consulting firms for services such as website development and programming. There are ample opportunities to sell services or products to non-profit organizations, but how can you market to a do-good organization without seeming exploitative?

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5 of America-s Coolest Co-Working Spaces

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It can get lonely working from home every day. Coffeehouses aren’t the refuges they used to be: Baristas these days start giving the evil eye to anyone using a laptop for more than a half hour, suggesting you’d better buy a refill or scram. If you-re looking for a place to hang your hat and plug in your computer, the better alternative is to rent a co-working space. More than 300 sites in the U. S. offer professionals shared use of an office for a small fee. To give you an idea of what to look for, here are five of America’s coolest co-working spaces.

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How to Avoid Miscommunication in Your Workplace

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Potential for miscommunication in the workplace abounds, as the uproar over allegations that presidential candidate Herman Cain sexually harassed former employees (which he denies) clearly demonstrates. Overt misconduct aside, problems in the workplace can occur simply because people have different ways of relaying and hearing information. This often results in personal conflicts, project failures, a plunge in staff morale, and high turnover. The worst-case scenario? Misunderstandings can lead to costly lawsuits.

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The Digital Wallet and the Future of Payments

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With the proliferation of broadband networks and mobile devices, the way we pay for things is expected to change dramatically over the next few years. We-ve come from shells and beads to paper money to the ubiquitous credit card over the course of a few thousand years.

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6 Ways to Get Booked on Local TV and Radio Shows

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Landing an interview on a local TV or radio show is an excellent — not to mention free — way to market your small business. Your appearance could even lead to spots on national TV shows like Good Morning America if you prove yourself to be a great guest. Here are six ways to get airtime, no experience required.

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How to Set Up and Use a Google+ Page for Business

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Google+, which debuted this summer as a web-sharing tool and social network for personal use, is now available to businesses, too. Creating a Google+ page is a relatively easy endeavor that could create social-media marketing opportunities for your small enterprise. Here’s how to get started — and what’s in it for you.