NASE Blogs

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Juggling your professional and personal life can be a little complicated at the beginning of the year. You want to get off to a good start with your business and new clients, but you don’t want to put in so many work hours that you’re burned out by March. When you’re kicking off a new year, it’s easy to feel like you have too many balls in the air and not enough hands to catch them, but with a few important changes, you can find work-life balance and set yourself up for a fruitful year. 1. Set Clear Boundaries Set ...
Tuesday, February 07, 2017
If you are wondering how to improve your social landing pages, you are already on the right track. Many businesses — even large, well-established companies — make the mistake of using the same landing pages for all entry points. Social landing pages are funneling customers toward conversion exclusively from your social media networks. Here is how to increase conversions among this specific — and valuable — group. 1. Optimize Each Social Landing Page for Buying Stags Different entry points bring buyers to landing pages from different parts of the funnel. PPC visitors, for example, are arriving at your landing pages ...
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Want to become an independent contractor? Here's what you need to know about surety bonds. Guest Blog Post by Todd Bryant If you want to work on construction, repair, maintenance or other similar projects, yet remain independent, then becoming an independent contractor is the right thing for you. But to become an independent contractor in most states, you will need to get a contractor license. Among the various licensing requirements, such as previous experience and education, there is also a contractor license bond requirement. If you're planning on becoming an independent contractor, getting acquainted with surety bonds is an important ...
Friday, January 06, 2017
The complicated process of filing taxes is often not clearly understood until a person goes through their first tax season. For a person using only a W-2, the experience may have been limited to “painstaking”. For someone who freelances or owns their own business, the process could have easily become mentally painful. If you’re looking for a way to improve the way you do tax season, here are some steps you should be taking. 1. Start Organizing Early The most important thing you can do for yourself this year is start organizing your tax documents. If you are a straightforward ...
Monday, December 12, 2016
Guest blog by Nick Rojas Nick is a writer, entrepreneur, and consultation with a passion for emerging technology and amplification strategies to help businesses succeed. He currently resides in Southern California, with his German Shepherd, Pesto. Check him out on Twitter @nickarojas Small business is entrenched into America. Starting a company from scratch and building it into something formidable is the embodiment of the American dream. There has been a substantial amount of speculation since the 2008 economic recession that this dream is largely dead, however, hard data proves otherwise. Small businesses built from the ground up have generated over 65 ...
Friday, July 22, 2016
Part of the thrill of owning a business or working as a freelancer is the control it seems to offer.  You don’t answer to anyone but yourself; the growth of your capital depends on your hard work, and you’re the one who reaps the satisfaction and the financial rewards of a job well done. Unfortunately, many self-employed folks find themselves subject to another boss: their work.  They find that they and their families have become slaves to the unbelievable effort it takes to maintain a business. Sure, they have the ability to excel in their field, but they’re drowning in ...
Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Did you know that 90% of startups fail within the first five years?  45% will close their doors in the first six months. 62% of startups fail because of conflicts between co-founders. Clearly, the numbers are not in your favor. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The world is waiting on what you have to offer. Your chances of beating the odds and fulfilling your potential as an entrepreneur are much more likely if you heed the following warnings and avoid pitfalls that cause most startups to fail. Expect the Unexpected Entrepreneurs tend to have a glass-half-full mentality. They need ...
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Another year, another tax season, more unjust taxes on the small business community. Despite stepping out of the unemployment line and into a new, job creating small business on Main Street, small business owners could be hit with another unfair tax this year when they file their returns. As I wrote in a recent guest opinion piece for the Las Vegas Review Journal, an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act has dealt a devastating blow to the use of HRAs by the small business community. Due to an IRS interpretation of the new health care law, small business owners, for ...
Monday, February 22, 2016
Note: the following blog was published as an Op-Ed in the Delaware News-Journal, the statewide newspaper in Delaware, on February 22, 2016. In the next few months, thousands of small business will file their tax returns across Delaware. But this year, on top of the myriad complex tax liabilities and unequal deductions forced onto small business owners, they now face another unfair tax by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): a penalty for offering health care support to their employees. You may be a local baker who wants to offer financial help to cover the costs of doctor co-pays or deductibles ...
Thursday, January 28, 2016
By Rose Caiazzo (NASE Guest Blog post) We all know that branding for your business is important… However, have you created an actual "voice" for your company that reflects its branded style?  It’s a fact.  Branding is a very important marketing tool that every business or organization should think about.  Why?  Well, simply put – it’s the personality that identifies a product, service, or company.  In addition, it's been proven time and time again that proper branding can result in higher sales (OK, now we’re talking)!  But, what’s even more interesting?  Truly successful branding is obtained when someone can remember a ...
Friday, December 04, 2015
Every savvy business owner loves a great deal, and we’ve got one for you. As we approach the holiday season, I want to share with you about an amazing event that NASE is proud to be a part of.  The Abounding Business Conference is a day of empowerment for small business owners, coming to 10 cities across the US in 2016 and we are excited to be a part of it. I would like to invite you to come out and hear our President & CEO, Keith Hall, along with several other business leaders. As a valued member, we have ...
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Worker classification is front-page news these days as companies like Uber, FedEx, and Lowe’s face misclassification lawsuits. If you engage with freelancers, consultants, or any type of independent contractor, proper classification is critical. Unfortunately, the rules around classification are not easy to interpret. The NASE’s President & CEO Keith Hall is joining an expert panel for a free webinar where listeners will learn information to help protect their business from massive fines, unnecessary hassles, and lawsuits like the ones you've heard about in the news. The webinar is being hosted by Upwork, the online global freelancing platform where businesses and ...
Thursday, September 17, 2015
By Blair Strasser (NASE Guest Blog post) 5 Strategies to Turn Followers into Brand Ambassadors It is no longer just a good idea for small business owners to create and maintain a presence across several social media platforms; it is a necessity. Thanks to the internet and social media, it has never been easier to start a dialogue with your customers. This is especially beneficial to small businesses with miniscule marketing budgets. But it is not enough to simply gather followers, you want to create customers so loyal, that they will talk up your business to everyone they meet, online or off. ...
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The United States Supreme Court’s recent, historic decision in King v. Burwell, upholding the right of federal premium assistance, guaranteed millions of Americans the right to keep their healthcare. Last month’s ruling, along with the previous 2012 Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, was a profound victory for the ideal that healthcare should be a right of all Americans – rich or poor, individual or small business owner. These decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court mark the existence – and importance -- of the nation’s new healthcare system by keeping the law in tact and ...
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Business credit cards are a popular and valuable resource which, when used responsibly, can help you make purchases and organize your spending, all while getting some perks on the side. Most issuers offer credit cards for small businesses and freelancers in addition to their regular cards, and there are 3 important things you need to know about them. Rewards and Benefits for Business Purchases There are several advantages that business credit cards provide to their cardholders, and the right card for you will be one that fits into your habitual spending. If you’re setting up a home office, for example, ...
Monday, July 13, 2015
The best apps are the ones that give business owners and entrepreneurs flexibility. Whether they sell services or merchandise, rely on employees or work alone, an owner's talents and energies should be concentrated on the things that count. The best apps are the ones that use automation to free up an entrepreneur's already limited time. Here are six apps that help business owners manage their money, their merchandise, their marketing and more.     Get Landing Pages that Pay with Gospaces.com   Gospaces.com is designed for anyone who makes money online, from authors to artists to developers to entrepreneurs. Gospace ...
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
You most likely have used Uber to get you where you want, or NoWait to snag a reservation at a hot, new restaurant, or bought gifts through the online marketplace Etsy. These services, and many more like it, are part of a growing and on-demand business demographic called the "freelance economy." From sharing rides to purchasing items online and even providing accommodation on sites such as AirBnB, individuals can set up their own small business and operate from their driver's seat or couch. Much like the traditional accountant or consultant, they express qualities of not being an employee of any other entity, ...
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
By Nick Rojas (NASE Guest Blog post) Being self-employed, managing your own business and financials as an entrepreneur can be very rewarding, but at other times is challenging. Small businesses are still the backbone of the American economy with over 50% of them being operated from homes rather than traditional office environments. There are more than 22 million self-employed in the US with no additional employees or payroll expenses other than their owner.   Solo entrepreneurs may struggle with their income from time to time, but there are many ways to get the biggest bang from your self-earned buck. Here ...
Friday, January 16, 2015
By Marc Wayshak (NASE Guest Blog post) Prospecting Isn't an Event; It's a Campaign Bill is responsible for sales at his company and considers himself a tenacious worker. Whenever he discovers a new prospect, he enters him or her into the system. From there, he will attempt to contact that person by phone, through email and even via office visit if possible. However, after a number of failed attempts, Bill is likely to toss the person into the sea of dead prospects. Does this sound familiar at all to you? This is the typical approach to prospecting. Besides being disorganized and ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
That is a great question and has become even more important in our modern digital age. When speaking with our sellers we emphasize that buyers do not normally make a decision to BUY from home photos they see on the internet, but they do make the decision to LOOK based upon home photos they see. We also remind our sellers that “the way you LIST is not the way you LIVE”. In other words, a seller should focus on presenting the home is such a way that it will appeal to the highest number of buyers. With that in mind ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Your question is a legal one and I encourage you to seek legal counsel before  signing a legally binding contract. However, I will attempt to answer your question on a broad basis. In a real estate sales contract liquidated damages usually represents a monetary settlement between the parties in the event either party does not perform all of the agreed upon terms of the contract, triggering a default. If a buyer defaults , the liquidated damages are most often deemed to be forfeiture to the seller of the earnest money in title escrow. If a seller defaults, the liquidated damages ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The most common answer to that question is no. In a typical residential transaction, the listing broker charges the full commission (in your case 6% of the sales price) which is split (usually 50-50 but not always) between the listing broker and what is known as the “procuring” (the broker who found the buyer) broker. Each broker then further divides the commission with the agents involved in the transaction, assuming they are different than the managing broker. Keep in mind that real estate agents mostly work as independent contractors underneath a sponsoring broker. This is very common among larger real ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Owning a home on acreage can be rewarding from a personal enjoyment perspective as well as for its potential to appreciate over the long term. In making the decision to purchase, always evaluate what is normal and typical for the area. Assuming your new home will be on a water well and a septic system, you should be fine as long as most other homes in the area on lots of similar size are served by a well and septic system. A critical factor in evaluating rural properties is a thorough understanding of the zoning regulations not only of your ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Great question. I congratulate you on being proactive in choosing a real estate professional. Your efforts should pay  dividends. First, I suggest you perform an honest self-assessment of what characteristics are important to you. Are there certain neighborhoods you have an interest in? A specific price range? Are you looking for someone with youthful enthusiasm or perhaps a seasoned professional  with years of experience in the business? Do you prefer someone with creative flair or a number cruncher? When you have answered these questions, I recommend you reach out to contacts  you have met locally . Request referrals  of real ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I actually get this question quite often. The obvious answer is to sell your home when the demand is highest …and the supply is lowest. The tricky part is determining when that might be. In residential real estate, demand often has a seasonal component and is based upon traditional weather patterns, school calendars, and popular holidays. In Texas for example, demand usually increases in early spring and lasts through mid-summer. The weather is milder , the year-end holidays are over, and those families with children want to be situated before a new school term begins in late August. Demand often ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
In most states, annual property taxes are a factor of local tax rates, the home’s current assessed value, as well as exemptions for which the homeowner might qualify. It is important to make sure you are taking advantage of any existing exemptions which might apply. For example, is the home occupied? In many cases, owner occupants get a break. Are you over 65? Disabled in some way? Check with your local taxing authority to ensure that you are receiving credit for any exemption available. The home’s assessed value is most often the predominant factor in determining property taxes due. The ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Notice the advertising done by other successful companies in your industry. Also, understand that there is a difference between a company that’s been in business many years and may have $50MM in sales, and your start-up company. They have built their brand and are getting volume discounts. Join professional trade associations and learn from them. Do your homework. Consult professionals. Every industry is different and your creative message and your selection of media channels must resonate with your target audience. Determine your budget and test one channel at a time and do it well, rather than diluting your budget across ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Because television covers a wide area, you need multiple locations, or sales people that work the entire area where your commercials will be broadcast. As with any media you need to have frequency and consistency, but first you need to calculate is your product/service a fit for television. You should determine your total media cost and how many leads and sales you need to ensure success. If your media cost is $10,000 and the average profit on your sale is $1200 – you need 8.33 sales to break even. If you’re doing direct response television, you need to ensure you ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Let’s look at the numbers. How many were mailed, how many responded, how many closed? What were the criteria of your mailing list and what was your mailing list source? Do you have proof of mailing from your printer or letter shop (generally this is a USPS form 3602 – or ‘Proof of Mailing’ stamped by USPS). Did you have a strong offer? What were other incentives for recipients to respond? Was this the first mailing to this specific list? Just because a mailing didn’t work, doesn’t mean mail can’t work but there are many steps to implement to ensure ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Yes and no. It depends on your overall objective. If you wish to build your brand and become a well-known and respected name in your area or your industry, you will want to put some standards into place – such as a graphics standards manual. If you provide each manager with your graphic/brand standards as well as approved ads for different advertising channels, you will be able to better control your brand, and be perceived as professional. Your managers can use pre-approved materials at their discretion, or follow the graphic standards manual to create their own ads.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The cost of producing a brochure is largely based on quantity produced (the more you print, the less the unit price) as well as the size and specifications of the brochure. A professional graphic designer experienced in creating ‘print ready’ art can cost between $35 and $150 an hour. The more information you provide at the outset of the project, the fewer hours you will incur. A full color brochure will be more expensive than a 2 color brochure. An elaborate large multi-page coil bound brochure will be more expensive than an 8.5x11 trifold brochure. Prices can range from .25 ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
No. Think of print shops like auto repair shops. You wouldn’t take your 1982 Malibu Classic to the Mercedes dealership for repairs. Print shops have very specific types of equipment. Two color presses, four color presses, eight color presses. Printing presses vary in size and speed. There are digital presses and offset presses. Unless you have a good understanding of printing press capabilities, the best way to find an appropriate shop is by requesting a competitive quote by detailing all the specifications of your job. (A professional print quote form can be provided upon request.)
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Cost is driven by volume, design, how specific your mailing list is, as well as postage. A multipage brochure in a large envelope could $5-10 dollars each on a small mailing. A simple letter in an envelope to your house database – if you’re mailing a larger quantity could cost .50 each.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This depends on several factors.  For instance - your reason for mailing, your target market and the size town you’re mailing into.  If you’re promoting an event in a small town – one time may be sufficient.  If you’re a new business and building a brand, multiple times will reap the most benefits.  As a general rule, a person does not respond without being presented an opportunity at least 3 times.  This does however depend on the offer and the sense of urgency conveyed.  If you are a timeshare offering a free cruise and there is a response deadline, you ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Direct marketing/advertising is specifically designed to be trackable, There is a specific call to action – to bring something in or to connect in some way, mentioning the specific offer advertised.   Trained staff is key to tracking – and key to ensuring your advertising is working. Any time a prospect contacts your company, appropriate questions must be asked to understand how the caller learned of your company or the offer. Careful tracking, then tabulation of all leads from all sources can be assigned to the dollars spent from the different ad sources.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This will vary depending on a number of factors.  However if you are mailing to a prospect list (versus your house list) 1% is considered ‘good’.  However, response rates may be considerably lower the first and second time you mail.  Generally the third mailing to the same list with an excellent offer will produce the best response rate.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This varies according to industry.  Industry associations may provide marketing expenditures as a percentage of revenue. Public companies in your industry may give a figure for their marketing spending in their financial statements (found in their annual reports). With a simple calculation, you can determine what percentage of their overall revenue that represents. A significant difference is businesses that are volume driven versus margin driven.  For instance, WalMart is volume driven thus spend .04% on advertising.  A more upscale store that is less volume driven like Macys may spend 5%.  Service oriented businesses generally start at 5%, although 15% for ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
If depends on what you need to achieve?  If you are incorporating ecommerce, database management, many pages, video – then perhaps.  If you’re doing a simple 4 or 5 page website you could spend considerably less.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Your logo colors are important for a variety of reasons.  When choosing your colors, you should consider your target customer, your industry, your competition and trends.  Understand the psychology behind colors and how different colors are perceived differently.  Choose colors that will achieve your objective.  Do you want your prospect to feel assured, or motivated? Do you want them to have a sense of urgency or a sense of playfulness? Study non-competing companies you admire and respect, and that achieve the same objective you wish to achieve.  Be careful of trends.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Postcards do work for some types of business. It all depends on what you are selling, and your target audience. Postcards work well if you’re a retailer, if you’re promoting an event, offering dry cleaning, real estate, or an oil change – to name a few.  However, if you’re selling a product or service that is of a financial, medical or consulting type nature; an envelope is the best choice.  Envelopes are usually perceived as ‘important’ or ‘personal’ mail.  Recipients sort their mail and treat it accordingly. If the postcard costs less but doesn’t generate a response, then it wasn’t ...
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
With just days until the midterm elections, you can definitely count on one demographic group to show up at the polls: women small business owners. By an overwhelming margin -- 86 percent -- women entrepreneurs intend to go to the polls to cast their ballots across this nation. And who will win their support? They plan to vote for candidates who have a pro-business agenda that supports policies to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. In our first-ever women's entrepreneurship survey, we polled our membership -- a growing number of women running their own small businesses -- about the opportunities and challenges they face ...
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
The small business community, including self-employed and micro-businesses, welcomed a major benefit this tax year: a new, streamlined IRS home office standardized deduction. The new, standardized deduction is available to small business owners and the self-employed as an option for the 2013 tax year (returns filed in 2014). This standardized, $1,500 deduction will allow for nearly 9 million home-based businesses, representing over 50 percent of small business owners, to take the home office deduction if they so choose. The new option represents a big win for America's small businesses and is a great example of government at work for those Mom ...
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
By Marc Wayshak (NASE Guest Blog post) An interview with HubSpot’s founder, Brian Halligan as he shows us how to market in the digital age.  As the first inside salesperson for PTC, a Needham, Mass.-based software company, Brian Halligan got his start cold calling until his “fingers bled,” he quipped during a recent interview with me. Later, when a venture capitalist enlisted him to bring the PTC playbook to a host of portfolio companies, he realized that old industry standbys needed a drastic overhaul if marketers hoped to cut it in an increasingly social-centered world. So in 2006, he and Dharmesh ...
Monday, September 29, 2014
By Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC (NASE Guest Blog Post) breathingspace.com You do your best as a self-employed professional, but some days you are simply swamped by too much competing for your attention. When a flood of items compete for your attention, each item can loom larger in importance than it actually is. Here is a classification system to help you maintain perspective: Classifying Communication Bits: The lowest level of input, bits are single packets of information indicating yes or no, on or off.  In combination, bits add up to data.  Data: The raw numbers in chart form, equations, lists, and ...
Monday, August 18, 2014
My best guess is that you may not even believe me in this week’s blog post, but here it is.  I was on a plane from Los Angeles to Dallas today after a very long week.  I was actually answering an NASE TaxTalk question about S Corporations right on line with the help of American Airlines’ in-flight internet connection.  (Love technology, btw) The lady sitting next to me was a graphics designer and owner of her own small business and noticed the NASE logo on the screen of my laptop.  We talked about her business and about taxes and about ...
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
From Yahoo's Marissa Mayer to Ursula Burns at Xerox and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi, women capture an ever-growing number of top spots at leading corporations -- internationally and in the United States. Compared to the 1960's when women were barred from certain jobs, we have made great strides in earning management positions at various levels to running the show. But despite the gains over the last fifty years, women still only account for 24 of the Fortune 500's Chief Executive Officer positions. The Forbes list of most powerful women includes the likes of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ...
Monday, August 11, 2014
I love small business owners.  I know this sounds kind of sappy, and as the President of the National Association for the Self Employed I probably notice this kind of thing more than most, but it really makes me proud when I see that entrepreneurial spirit.  I was out this past weekend and saw a local high school band having a car wash.  I pulled in and let them do their best.  But that wasn’t the sappy part.  There were three kids, maybe 8 years old, who had set up lemonade and iced tea stand.  Right there in the heat! ...
Monday, August 04, 2014
Posted by Keith Hall It’s August, which I guess means that we are in the dog days of summer; lots of hot weather but also lots of swimming pools and cold glasses of lemonade.  The good news for me is that despite the season there are still lots of questions from NASE members that we get to answer every day.  One NASE member posted a question regarding income earned during a speaking engagement overseas, actually in London, England.  Her question made me realize all over again just how pervasive the influence of small business continues to be.  Way to go ...
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- By now, we've all heard about the challenges and the ups-and-downs of the new health care law. From cancelled plans to delayed programs and technical glitches in online applications, the Affordable Care Act has had its share of problems. However, in the end, the Affordable Care Act -- or ACA -- has turned out to help millions of Americans young and old. Far from perfect, the Department of Health and Human Services declared success with over eight million people enrolled, and over 30 percent being young Americans aged 18-34. The reality of the new law is that if ...
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- It could be your local cupcake shop, neighborhood deli or even your friendly accountant -- all local entrepreneurs fueling not only their local economies, but our national economy as well. One of the things they all have in common is that they are part of a growing movement in America called the small business community. With every dollar you invest in a local, small business, the true entrepreneurial spirit of America continues to thrive. According to the Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about ...