The New York Times Make Your Pitch Contest

7 May

If you are an entrepreneur with a new business or a breakthrough business idea,the New York Times wants to meet you.

Send your pitch on video. Introduce your product or service, your marketing plans, your customer base. Explain what makes your business different — why it is one to watch? Do you need capital? If so, how much and what for? Most important, how are you going to make money? For more suggestions on how to draft your pitch, please watch the video below.

New York Times video

All video pitches that meet the submission guidelines will be featured on The New York Times small-business Facebook page.

Once your video is ready, you can upload it to YouTube and send a link to MakeYourPitch@nytimes.com. And for full rules and instructions, please click here.

Contest ends August 29, 2012

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6 Top Free Business Name Generators!!!

26 Dec

Are you having trouble coming up with a business name?. There are many free online tools to help people just like you.

Here are 6 of the top Business Name Generators.

WORDLAB
Wordlab’s uniqueness is that it provides industry based business name generators. It has more than half a dozen different generators like Team Name Generator, Restaurant Name Generator, Band Name Generator, etc. It also provides a separate domain name availability checker.

NAMESTATION
NameStation is a great tool if you are looking for a business name along with a domain. NameStation return business name ideas along with the domain availability status. It uses keyword lists, brainstorming, dictionaries, etc. to create random names based on your input.It has features like adding prefixes and suffixes, setting minimum and maximum length and combining keywords with many preset categorized wordlists like random adjectives, random nouns, medicine, music, technical, etc. It also has features to include synonyms and custom wordlists.

DOTOMATOR
Use Dot-o-Mator to generate business and domain name suggestions. Enter one or more words, and then choose some prefixes or suffixes (you can also add your own). Click COMBINE to get the results. You can save all the creative business names you like to a scratch board and check availability of related domain names.

COMPANY NAME GENERATOR
Company Name Generator is one of the most advanced free online business name generators. You can customize the generator by selecting patterns of vowels and consonants you wish to have. You can also select a wordlist for prefixes and suffixes. Although this service does not provide domain name availability checker it can provide valuable new business name suggestions.

BUST A NAME
Bust a Name is a complete domain name researcher and generator. You enter a few keywords, set options like domain extensions, prefixes, suffixes, hyphen, etc. and hit ADD. You can then sort, search, save and review related domains names. This is one of the top name generators if you are looking for a business name for an online venture.

WRITE EXPRESS
Write Express helps name businesses, products and websites. You start by entering a word or syllable that is associated to your business. You then choose a wordlist, number of desired syllables and a few more options and hit FIND NAMES. This is an easy to use tool and can help you find a business name from dozens of potential names in quick time.

12 Hot Consumer Trends for 2012

19 Dec

In 2012, much as in previous years, some brands may be staring into the abyss, while others will do exuberantly well. And while we can’t offer any help to defaulting nations or bankrupt companies, we do believe that there are more opportunities than ever for creative brands and entrepreneurs to deliver on changing consumer needs. From Canada to Korea. Hence this overview of 12 must-know consumer trends (in random order) for you to run with in the next 12 months. Onwards and upwards:

1.

In 2012, department stores, airlines, hotels, theme parks, museums, if not entire cities and nations around the world will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors, showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services and perks, and in general, lavish attention and respect.

Read RED CARPET in full (including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods)

2. DIY HEALTH

Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies and apps to discreetly and continuously track, manage and be alerted to, any changes in their personal health.

Read DIY HEALTH in full (including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens)

3. DEALER-CHIC

In 2012, not only will consumers continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but they will do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and thus a source of status too.

Read DEALER-CHIC in full (including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan)

4. ECO-CYCOLOGY

Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling (sometimes forced by new legislation), and recycle them responsibly and innovatively.

Read ECO-CYCOLOGY in full (including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier)

5. CASH-LESS

Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies.

Read CASH-LESS in full (including examples from Google, PayPal and Square)

6. BOTTOM OF THE URBAN PYRAMID

The majority of consumers live in cities, yet in much of the world city life is chaotic, cramped and often none too pleasant. However at the same time, the creativity and vibrancy of these aspiring consumers, means that the global opportunities for brands which cater to the hundreds of millions of lower-income CITYSUMERS are unprecedented.

Read BOUP in full (including examples from PepsiCo, NCR and Aakash)

7. IDLE SOURCING

Anything that makes it downright simple- if not completely effortless- for consumers to contribute to something will be more popular than ever in 2012. Unlocked by the spread of ever smarter sensors in mobile phones, people will not only be able but increasingly willing, to broadcast information about where and what they are doing, to help improve products and services.

Read IDLE SOURCING in full (including examples from Street Bump and Waze)

8. FLAWSOME

Why to consumers, brands that behave more humanly, including exposing their flaws, will be awesome.

Read FLAWSOME in fullhere.

9. SCREEN CULTURE

Thanks to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the ‘cloud’, 2012 will see a SCREEN CULTURE that is not only more pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than ever.

Read SCREEN CULTURE in full (including examples from Sky, 8ta and Huawei)

10. RECOMMERCE

It’s never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012, ‘trading in’ is the new buying.

Read RECOMMERCE in full (including examples from Decathlon, Amazon and Levi’s)

11. EMERGING MATURIALISM

While cultural differences will continue to shape consumer desires, middle-class and/or younger consumers in almost everymarket will embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to be on the rise in 2012.

Read EMERGING MATURIALISM in full(including examples from Diesel, Johnson & Johnson and Sanitol)

12. POINT & KNOW

Consumers are used to being able to find out just about anything that’s online or text-based, but 2012 will see instant visualinformation gratification brought into the real and visual world with objects and even people.

Read POINT & KNOW in full (including examples from Starbucks, eBay and Amazon)

 

Source: www.trendwatching.com. One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.

 

5 Hot Industries to Start a Business in 2012

18 Dec
English: A business centre in Plovdiv

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
Today’s business environment is hyper-competitive and constantly in flux. To increase response time, companies have turned to temporary employees, in an effort to stay productive while managing overhead. This trend is projected to continue through 2012, pushing up the employment rate in this sector by 54%. Interestingly, employment services will be a major player in the home healthcare industry, the sixth best industry to start and grow a business, according to our survey. Hospitals and other medical facilities will rely heavily on temporary workers to meet the needs of the aging baby boomers. All told, between now and 2012, the sector should see a healthy output rate of 5.1% each year.

CONSULTING
As the economy expands and the nature of business becomes more complex, the demand for consultants increases, which helps explain the huge 55% job growth expectation for this industry, as well as a healthy 4.1% per year rate of output through 2012.Business consultants are projected to do well, based on the increasing number of businesses that will need help drafting business plans, budgets, and international strategies. Businesses also will continue to need consultants specializing in government compliance to help navigate the federal government’s sea of regulations.

HOME HEALTHCARE
While employment in the health service industry is projected to grow 28% by 2012, employment in the specialized home health care industry is expected to be nearly twice that, or 54.5%. Each year, over 7.6 million people are provided with home health care services. There are two reasons for this growth: demographics and medical advancements. In demographic terms, the number of people in older age groups is growing faster than the total population because of the post-war baby boom followed by a drop in the birthrate of American woman. Secondly, advancements in medical technologies have extended the lives of the very ill and the very old. The combination of these two factors means that the need for home healthcare and nursing and residential care will grow.

CHILD CARE
When women started pouring into the workforce 30 years ago, a new industry was created: childcare. The child day care service industry has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. It takes in more than $11 billion annually, and it’s projected to get bigger, thanks to an expected increase in the number of woman between the ages of 15 and 44 entering the workforce. With the 40-hour work creeping upwards, parents will need more childcare services, particularly later into the evening and on weekends. For these reasons, the number of persons working in childcare is expected to grow 43% by 2012.

ENTERTAINMENT
The baby boomers are going to be the richest retirees in our nation’s history. So what are they going to do with their cash? Spend it, of course. With plenty of time and a penchant for enjoying life, the baby boomers are expected to drive the arts and entertainment sector, which is projected to increase in employment by 31.3% over the next decade.The arts, entertainment and recreation sector, which includes anything from golf courses to casinos, will also benefit from a younger clientele. Over the last decade, the saving rate among Americans has fallen, partly because of an increase in the cost of living, but also because of increase spending on discretionary items. This trend, coupled with the demand from baby boomers, provides entrepreneurs with many business opportunities.

For more information visit Inc.com





Small Business of the Year Contest 2012 – DREAM BIG & Win $10K

24 Oct

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter by January 6, 2012

Nominate an outstanding business from your community or submit your own application for the 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club.

All award winners will be honored during America’s Small Business Summit on May 22 in Washington, D.C. Blue Ribbon Award® winners will receive one complimentary registration to attend the Summit, courtesy of Sam’s Club.

Nominations are due January 6 and applications are due January 13. The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Awards program is designed to honor our nation’s job creators and recognize their significant contributions as drivers of economic growth.

The winner of the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award will receive a $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Award criteria, eligibility requirements, and the timeline can be found here. See all levels of recognition.

www.uschambersummit.com

9 Crowdfunding Websites for Entrepreneurs and Artists

16 Aug

Here are 9 alternative sources of funding for entrepreneurs and artists who are trying to raise capital for their startup or project.

MicroVentures

Also described as peer-to-peer lending, MicroVentures works with investors as well as with those who need money to get a certain project off the ground. According to their website, MicroVentures works with small companies and businesses in variety of areas:
Biotechnology
Business Products and Services
Computers and Peripherals
Consumer Products and Services
Education

Environment
Electronics
Financial Services
Healthcare Services
Internet Technology
IT Services
Media and Entertainment
Medical Devices and Equipment
Other
Retail/Distribution
Semiconductors
Software
Telecommunications
These companies pay $100 to MicroVentures and then send their business plan to the site for approval. Once approved, this idea will be posted on the website for serious investors to consider.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site that is getting a lot of attention these days. With creative people posting new projects that need funding every day, this site is a place where the bohemian idea can turn into a viable possibility. The process is simple and a person can setup their Kickstarter project in just a few hours. A person posts their project details and creates a funding goal. During a certain period of time, investors and individuals are able to contribute so that the project meets or exceeds that goal. The project will only get the funding if the goal is met.
When the project creator reaches their goal, Kickstarter takes 5% of the monies for their service.

Quirky

If you’re a designer who needs to have financial support, Quirky is a crowdfunding site that supports your creative and inventive needs. The most valuable part of Quirky is the feedback you can receive for your project idea. For a $10 fee, you can post your idea and then see what others think about it. This allows you to create a product or service that is going to meet your market needs, increasing your chances of success. Once you have received feedback, then Quirky will decide whether or not they want to make the product. If they do, then you get paid. With the community vibe, Quirky is more of a progressive site than a straightforward investment site.

RocketHub

At RocketHub, you will find there are two audiences this crowdfunding site helps: Fuelers and Creatives. Fuelers are the ones who invest in the projects that the Creatives post. Unlike Kickstarter, there is more interaction on the RocketHub site, with plenty of resources for those who want to refine their idea before or after they post it on the site. Users can earn rewards or badges on the site in order to promote each other.
On RocketHub, there is a flat rate of 8% for Creatives who receive investments from Fuelers.

Pozible

When you look at Pozible, you will notice this is another crowdfunding site that offers many of the same tools as other sites already listed. What users will want to keep in mind is that local projects that are not based in Australia may not be as well received on this Australian website. Like other sites, companies and individuals will post their projects on the site and then investors will decide whether to invest in the projects or not.

Fees for using Pozible include 2.4% for PayPal transactions, 5% for invitees, and 7.5% for everyday users.

IndieGogo

With IndieGogo, you’ll find a creative crowdfunding site that’s interested in everything from performing arts to gaming ideas. Since one of the partnerships with IndieGogo is MTV, this is a valuable resource for those who want to break into the music and entertainment industry, but need the funding to get started with their unique idea. Like Kickstarter and others, you will need to meet your funding request before you can receive the funds. What sets IndieGogo apart is its use of pre-sales and rewards, which can create buzz for a project, even before it is funded and ready for the public eye.

CoFundos

If you’re interested in creating an open source software project, then CoFundos is the right crowdfunding site for you. Here, developers can post their open source software ideas, get feedback, and then request funds to continue to develop the project. You can post an idea and developers can agree to make your idea into a real program. While funding is not the only source of assistance on this site, donations are expected from those who decide to bid on a project idea.

Fans Next Door

Fans Next Door is a crowdfunding site that accepts all types of creative projects:
Visual arts
Performances
Fashion
Video games
Design
Music
Crafts

Here, posters will post their ideas and then investors will come along and help fund the idea. Since there is a reward system in place, investors are compelled to invest more as they will get more for their investment when they do. And the biggest plus of this European (beta) site is that there are no additional fees outside of the PayPal processing fees.

Crowdfunding is a new way to make sure that smaller companies and artists get the funding they need. By spreading out the investors, funding isn’t as difficult to achieve, but success is.

ProFounder

Profounder operates on the basis that inside everyone’s social circle both online and offline – there are people who are willing to support your dream. Each of those people potentially becomes an investor in your company, and equity is split amongst them. Profounder gives you the tools to raise the capital that you need, and the tools to manage all of the associated book-keeping, legals and compliance fillings. Right now, the site is still very much in alpha status, with registrations due to open in the Autumn. Still you can sign up for status as an ‘alpha entreupreneur’ if you want to start earlier than that, and are serious about using the system.

6 Capital Funding Sources for Minority Businesses

19 Jun
pepto pink office

Image by coco+kelley via Flickr

From our friends at  Inc.com.
Here are six  funding sources worth investigating.

1. Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)

These are grants with strings attached. The way it works is that IDAs are savings accounts that match the deposits of individuals with modest financial means. For every dollar saved in an IDA, savers receive a corresponding match. Savers agree to complete financial education classes and use their savings for an asset-building purpose such as to capitalize a business. There is no limitation on how long you can be in business but there income requirements which vary by county. Typically revenues for business owners fall under $50,000. In addition to earning matching dollars, savers learn about budgeting and receive additional training before purchasing an asset. For example, programs in Oregon let participants save $3,000 and the agency can match them with $9,000, allowing them to use a combined total of $12,000 towards building their business and without having to repay the funds. For more info, review the IDA directory.

2. Capital Assistance

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) recently announced $7.8 million in funding for 27 MBDA Business Centers (MBCs). These centers help minority firms with access to markets, contracts, capital and other strategic business consulting services. MBCs interface directly with minority business owners and managers at the local level. Whether it’s securing working capital from a lender, applying for an SBA loan, or responding to a grant proposal, MBCs help business owners prepare a funding package. Last year, MBCs helped their clients gain access to more than $800 million in financial packages, including working capital, equity investments, and bonding.

 
3. Forgivable Loans

This type of a loan is made with the understanding that if the borrower meets certain requirements, repayment of the loan will not be required. A forgivable loan is actually a grant, says Ough, “because if you do everything right you don’t have to pay the money back.” A stipulation may be that you are required to hire and train employees, Ough explains. She cites for example a particular forgivable loan program that allowed recipients to hire up to five employees. “For every employee you hired you were given $5,000 for each. So, you had up to $25,000 you could use for anything related to supporting the growth of your business.” As a growing business, you are going to be hiring employees anyway. This program gives you an incentive to do so, adds Ough. The Regional Investment Board manages lottery funds in Oregon which are used for economic development purposes. These monies are available to entities in the form of grants or loans to support projects that will create jobs in the region. Just as well, you may be able to take advantage of other state loans programs and loan guarantees.

4. Micro Loans

Poor credit history is a barrier for many entrepreneurs seeking traditional financing. “If you have not positioned your personal credit such that a bank will find you to be a strong enough credit risk, they won’t lend to you,” says Jennifer Spaziano, vice president of business development at ACCION USA, a microfinance institution that lends to 48 states across the U.S., providing loans to upstarts, especially women and minority businesses. ACCION New York is one of hundreds of regional and national nonprofit groups that make micro loans from as little as $500 up to $35,000. Many of these groups are funded by The U.S. Small Business Administration. Cities like San Francisco and New York City have expanded or introduced their own microfinance programs. Each organization has its own lending requirements. ACCION USA has provided over $119 million in over 19,000 micro loans since inception in 1991. To learn more, visit the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s website.

5. SBIR Grants

There is a lot of talk and excitement around technology, particularly coming from the Obama Administration. Review the possibility of obtaining a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant or Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) funding. You might not be in a position to go after venture capital, yet you may need initial funding for early stage research and development, says Ough. For instance, “we are working with a client who has developed a new process for providing a better educational tool for kids with autism. We pulled out an application to apply for the grant through the National Institute for Health.” The SBIR program was established by Congress in 1982 as a means of stimulating innovation with more than $ 2.2 billion dollars set aside annually with first phase funding of up to $100,000. Phase two is a $750,000 award. The SBIR/STTR program reaches out to socially and economically disadvantaged firms. The participation rate of minority- and women-owned firms in SBIR/STTR just within the Department of Defense is roughly 21 percent. Two sites to check out are Zny and SBIR.gov.

6. New Market Tax Credit

For companies looking for commercial ownership or to own their own facility, Ough suggests exploring new market tax credits. This federal program is administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. Designed to provide investments to projects and businesses in low-income communities, the program has expanded to include investments in minority business. NMTC permits taxpaying investors to receive a credit against their federal income tax liability for making qualified equity investments in designated Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit is spread over seven years, amounting to roughly 39 percent of the investment made in a qualified entity. Many states have passed a tax credit for minority business. The provisions and limitations of these credits vary from state to state. Many of them resemble the New Market Tax credit and give tax credits against state income tax to investments that are used to support minority building projects or encourage minority business ownership, which includes women-owned businesses. However, these credits are extremely tough to get and are highly competitive.

In addition, contact your National Chamber of Commerce. There are a number of national chambers of commerce specific to women and minority sectors that offer access to funding sources, including the National Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the Native American Chamber of Commerce.

“To find all the funding sources available in your community, you need to become a great connector so that you get familiar with all the programs available for starting and growing your business,” says Ough. “If that’s not possible, then the next best thing is to find those connectors that can guide you.” Connectors are the top ten businesses, organizations or key players in your community that you get referred to when you are trying to find resources and funding for your specific business.

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