Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

A Christmas and New Year's greeting from the Staff at Winthrop Regional SBDC in Rock Hill, SC
Please note that our Winthrop Region SBDC offices will be closed for holidays beginning December 20, 2013 and will not re-open until January 2, 2014. We'll see you in the new year!

A Christmas and New Year's Gift to Women Everywhere ...

We seldom post this kind of information, but wanted to acknowledge the 1-year anniversary of an important non-profit that provides information to women everywhere, but is actually located right here in York County, SC.  Take the time to learn a little bit about what has become the #1 killer of women in the U.S. .... heart disease.  Did you realize that?  We didn't either.  That's why we decided to make you aware ..... start the new year on a good note .... learning how to live a heart-healthy life so you'll be around to celebrate the holidays for many, many years to come!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Community & educational development

The Federal Grants and Loans Directory is now available. Our new and revised
2014 edition contains more than 2800 financial programs, subsidies, scholarships,
grants and loans offered by the US federal government.
In addition you will also have access to over 2400 programs funded by private
corporations and foundations. That is over 5200 programs available through
various sources of financial providing organizations.
NEW: You will also have access to our live Database that is updated on a daily
basis. This product also provides daily email alerts as programs are announced.
The Database is also available with IP recognition. This allows you to login
without a username or password (Great for libraries or educational institutions
who want their users to access the database).
Businesses, students, researchers, scientists, teachers, doctors, private individuals,
municipalities, government departments, educational institutions, law enforcement
agencies, nonprofits, foundations and associations will find a wealth of information
that will help them with their new ventures or existing projects.
The document is a fully searchable PDF file for easy access to your particular
needs and interests. Simply enter your keywords to search through the publication.
It is the perfect tool for libraries and educational institutions to use as a
reference guide for students who require funds to pursue their education.

Contents of the Directory:
-Web link to program announcement page
-Web link to Federal agency or foundation administering the program
-Authorization upon which a program is based
-Objectives and goals of the program
-Types of financial assistance offered under a program
-Uses and restrictions placed upon a program
-Eligibility requirements
-Application and award process
-Regulations, guidelines and literature relevant to a program
-Information contacts at the headquarters, regional, and local offices
-Programs that are related based upon program objectives and uses

Programs in the Catalog provide a wide range of benefits and services
for categories such as:
Business and Commerce
Community Development
Consumer Protection
Cultural Affairs
Disaster Prevention and Relief
Employment, Labor and Training
Environmental Quality
Food and Nutrition
Income Security and Social Services
Information and Statistics
Law, Justice, and Legal Services
Natural Resources
Regional Development
Science and Technology

CD version: $69.95
Printed version: $149.95
To order please call: 1 (866) 645-1051

Please do not reply to the sender's email address as this address is only for outgoing mail.
If you do not wish to receive information from us in the future please reply here:
This is a CANSPAM ACT compliant advertising broadcast sent by:
AMPU, 4044 W. Lake Mary Blvd., Unit # 104-221, Lake Mary, FL, 32746-2012

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Truth Behind Government Grants for Small Businesses

Financing has always been a big concern for small businesses and many entrepreneurs look for financing in the form of grants. However, there are strict guidelines for government grant eligibility. For instance, eligibility depends on what kind of business you’re in and the benefits that the government and taxpayers may receive from investing in your business. This article by the SBA lists some key information that entrepreneurs should know about government grants. Some of that information is included below. For the full article click on the following link:

Federal and state governments do not provide grants to: start a business, pay off debt, or cover operational expenses. However, federal grants are generally aimed at specific industries and causes that are identified by the government which include scientific and medical research, conservation efforts, and so on.

State business grants are available, but are closely tied to the agency’s agenda, for example to advance regional economies and promote causes such as clean energy development. State grants are also geared towards larger businesses and may also require that the grant be matched or combined with other forms of financing such as a loan.

If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development (R&D) then you may qualify for a federal grant under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs encourage small businesses to undertake R&D projects that: meet federal R&D objectives and have high potential for commercialization.

According to the SBA, the bottom line is that if you are looking for free money then you won’t get it from the government. You won’t have much luck securing this type of funding unless you fill a specialty area. So if you are looking to start or grow your business, you should consider exploring other funding options such as loans or crowdfunding. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3 Agreement Types Every Entrepreneur Needs

Chas Rampenthal who is a legal counsel at LegalZoom, an online provider for legal solutions, has some advice for entrepreneurs who are wondering about legal agreements. In this article he discusses three main agreement categories that almost any business can benefit from. It is best to put these agreements in place early in order to mitigate future legal risks. These categories include:
·        Owner Agreements- All owner agreements have similar functions of ensuring that “the deal between co-founders is set in stone so that everyone can focus on building the business”. These agreements outline ownership percentages, capital contributions and disbursements/salaries, and details of what will happen to the business if you decide to part ways.

Ø  Operating agreement
Ø  Shareholders’ agreement
Ø  Founders’ agreement
Ø  Partnership agreement

·        Worker Agreements-These agreements include employees as well as independent contractors. If someone is working for you then you need to have the terms of the deal fully fleshed out before the work commences. The agreement should set out the duties, timing, payment, and assignment of inventions, confidentiality, non-solicitation, and other engagement specific details. Another thing entrepreneurs need to watch out for is improper classification of workers. The penalties for this can be stiff including back pay, benefits, vacation and even tax and withholding problems.

Ø  Independent contractor agreement
Ø  Employee Agreement

·        Customer and Vendor/Supplier Agreements- Within the e-commerce industry, these contracts are typically “click wrap” agreements that specify the terms of service and privacy policies that set the service level and expectations for the consumer. When it comes to vendors and suppliers, these agreements ensure that your needs are met and by proxy, the needs of your customers. The terms of the agreement should include indemnification, exclusivity, and limitations of liability.

Ø  Customer agreement
Ø  Vendor/Supplier Agreement

For the full version of this article click the following link:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Make Your News Releases Count!

So ..... you plan to put out a News Release to try to get some free PR for your business. Do you know what makes your information "special" enough to keep it out of the trash? The prime thing to remember is the phrase, "VIVA LA DIFFERENCE." You need to dazzle a journalist (online or off line) with what makes YOU and YOUR BUSINESS different from thousands of others that he/she could write about.

Make sure you call attention to yourself in a way that catches their eye first, then holds their attention long enough for them to realize that there may be a story in it for them. And you only have about the time it takes for them to read the first paragraph.

While you want to appear professional and organized, writing a news release that says "professional and organized" isn't going to get you any publicity -- lots of businesses are professional and organized. What's new and different about you? What makes YOU 21st century . . . ahead of the pack? What's going on in your industry right now that you can take advantage of and use to get some publicity? Can you add humor or "tips" to make it newsworthy and give it pizzazz or purpose?

Also, don't overuse PR. Nothing turns off reporters more than the person who clutters their desk with a new release every week. Wait for the opportune time, which by the way, is NOT to announce the launching of your new web site. That was news a decade or more ago. Now it's routine in the business world, even if it is a new concept for you. Things that may work for you: a seasonal message that you can impart (news release in the guise of an article); a major change of some sort in your company focus or administration; development of a unique, new product and how it will benefit the consumer; expanded services that make you stand out from the crowd in your industry; volunteerism -- "local company volunteers to paint home for elderly hurricane victim" -- something that makes it "NEWS" as opposed to "looking for a free ad".

We're all looking for free advertising and reporters know that. But remember, newspapers and magazines (even the modern online variety) aren't in business to give away advertising. These publications exist on paid advertising fees. So when we "push it" by being obvious in our attempt to get free ads, they lose interest and may actually decide that you have nothing at all to say that they want to hear -- ever. That's when your releases start to the hit the trash almost before they get out of the envelope (or the email).

My final suggestion: don't put all your eggs in the News Release basket. There are many effective ways of calling attention to your business. How can I write releases for my clients when I feel that way? Because sometimes they can work very, very well. But it's a rare instance when a News Release captures the elusive heart of an editor. So if you're going to use them, use them with discretion and objectivity, and make every word count.

--- © Carol Daly Auclair (reprinted with permission)