ABCs of Small Business Industry: A is for Agriculture

ABCs of Small Business Industry: A is for AgricultureWelcome to the ABCs of Small Business Industry here on our MyCorp blog! In case you’re just tuning in to join us, each week we’ll be looking into a different industry to see what all you need to get started therein, the types of entities most popular within said industries to form, and the overall job outlook to determine if it’s going to be sustainable to you and your business or not. Last week we kicked off the posts with a look at how to get started in accounting and this week. we’re exploring agriculture and the wide world of food operations, farming, and CSA (community supported agriculture) groups in it!

What do you need to go into the agricultural industry?

Every business is run a little differently than the next, but if you plan on making and/or selling food to the public you must have a food license. This license ensures that the food you’re growing, selling, or making is wholesome and safe for the public to consume and without this type of license in place, your business could face serious consequences. Additional licenses to know about include the retail food license (for businesses selling food directly to the customer) and a food processing plant license (for wholesale use, meaning you can sell not only to the customer but to major grocery store chains and online). There are several rules in place for anyone in food operations to keep in mind before they can receive their license so be sure you meet all the requirements and personnel standards.

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6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in Kindergarten

6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in KindergartenIt might be an overstatement to say we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten, but it’s not far from the truth either. We did pick up some valuable skills in that tender phase of life, like sharing our blocks and saying you’re sorry when someone’s feelings got hurt. Here in the adult world, some of these universal, yet oft-forgotten, truths can still improve our daily lives and those of our employees if we continue to practice them in the workplace.

1) Share.

Sharing sounds like childish, but it’s actually a complex concept. It requires an understanding of empathy and compassion, seeing the needs of others and responding accordingly. Stable leaders have a natural instinct for practicing these traits in the workplace, and when you show your team that you care, it harbors a sense of trust and stability that improves both morale and productivity.

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Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the Cubicle

Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the CubicleAh, summertime. Warm days filled with plenty of sunnin’ and funnin’… but you’re marooned at your computer in the office while seemingly everyone else in the world is outside having the time of their lives. If you feel like it’s time to shake things up this summer at the workplace, take the advice of these 17 entrepreneurial pros to step away from the cubicle and get the team hiking, biking, and zip-lining!

1) “At Clarke, we have garden plots on the campus for people to grow their own veggies as snacks. People line up for the chance to weed, water, and more! We have a day of giving, where we go out as a company and do things like harvest heirloom seeds and work in soup kitchens. We just began the process of converting our campus to having a natural prairie walking path one open to the community as well.”

- Laura McGowan, The McGowan Group

2) “We’re a virtual company so we get 100% of our work done from home and encourage our full-time employees (60+ people) to get up and moving out of their home offices. This summer, our Co-Founder Dennis Najjar instituted the 150 Mile Challenge, challenging employees to walk 150 miles over the course of the summer and rewarding those who complete it with $150 prize. The challenge runs from May 1st to August 31st and nearly half the employees joined in, using FitBits, phone apps and other tracking methods to log their miles. So far we’ve logged more than 2,000 miles! We’ve dubbed it #150ADCMiles!”

- Andrea Boccard, Marketing Manager, AccountingDepartment.com, LLC 

3) “Employees of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, hosted a flash event on June 11 to show support for The New York City Police Museum (NYCPM), which, like Guardian, was displaced from its home following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. However, unlike Guardian, the Museum has yet to return to its home at Old Slip due to the extent of the storm-related damages. Over 100 Guardian employees performed a dance routine at Old Slip Park (adjacent to The NYCPM’s permanent home at 100 Old Slip) for about 3-4 minutes, then quickly dispersed. The official video can be viewed on YouTube here.”

- Ana Sandoval, Manager, Media Relations, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

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5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do List

5 Items Business Owners Must Include on Their To-Do ListStarting up a new business takes a lot of proverbial blood, sweat and tears. From the most basic tasks like choosing what products you will sell and a company name to more complex decisions like how you’ll handle payments and if it’s a good idea to hire your Uncle Bob as manager, it’s a time-consuming and even stressful process. For people who are getting their new business ducks in a row, the following to-do list can help streamline and simplify the entire process.

Register Your Business Name

Have done your homework to make sure your new business name is not shared by anyone else? A business name availability check can find out if your business name is currently being used and can help you avoid spending money branding a name that you cannot adopt. The free, non-binding business name search is simple—the form requires information including your contact information, business name and state. After you have secured your name, you can move forward by filing your Articles of Incorporation with your state or regulatory agency. Each set of Articles of Incorporation forms and fees differ from state to state; follow these four steps to make the filing process quick and seamless. For more on name search and business and trademark information, visit the Learning Center and click “Business Name.”

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4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team Efficiency

4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team EfficiencyOn a regular basis, you probably know by heart that team spirit is very important and that your employees need to come together as a team in order to be successful in whatever branch of business you may be. Even when job applicants submit in a resume, they’re always careful to include a mention that they’re team players and consider what they can bring to the business to be imperative to the team’s overall success. But simply being supportive within a team is not enough. You also need to be able to step up and take all the necessary steps to make the team efficient. Every team has many members and personality types and leading and managing this kind of team isn’t easy to do either. If you want to be successful, you need to inspire your team to reach that point along with you.

Know how to put the team together.

How do you know what kinds of people will best work with you and what characteristics you need to have on board to help out? You can’t compose a team consisting solely of just managers – everyone would be fighting each other to take the reins of the project at all times! If you aren’t even sure of what you should be doing within a team, try taking a test with Belbin.com to find out more about what role is perfect for you and then give the same test to your employees to take for themselves too. You may know your employees well enough already to ensure you don’t need to take this kind of test, but be sure to note that when you assemble the team everyone is able and willing to work together to meet the same goal.

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Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of Experiences

Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of ExperiencesIf your company is going through or has gone through the hiring process, you probably know it is not easy to select a potential candidate. Sifting through hundreds of resumes and cover letters can be not only tedious and frustrating, but sometimes it doesn’t even help you find the best person for the position.

Next time you’re looking for a new hire, instead of hiring someone based on how good they look on paper, try centering your hiring process around personality instead. Here’s why a new hire with a great personality can be a better candidate than one with more experience.

You Can Train From Scratch

In many cases, hiring a candidate with a lot of experience is not always a good idea. Their previous positions may have had different methodologies and strategies than your company, making it difficult for your new hire to do things the way your company likes to. An employee hired with less relevant previous experience, but the right personality, can often have the perfect skills for the job with the help of a little initial training. By training a new hire from scratch, you can teach them exactly what you want, without previous experiences and practices getting in the way.

Every Job is Different

If you are looking at the resume of a seemingly qualified potential hire, chances are they may not be as qualified as their paperwork makes them appear. A one or two sentence job description on a piece of paper and a list of past job experiences does not tell you much about a prospective hire’s past work, making it hard to determine if their past experiences are applicable to the new job you are hiring for. However, picking up on a candidate’s passion, energy and hard working spirit in an interview is something that is hard to miss and can often speak volumes more about a candidate than a resume.

More Personality Means More Passion

By choosing a new employee who truly is interested in and passionate about your company’s goals and services, you will be hiring your company’s next best advocate. Hiring someone who has less experience, but more energy, will help bring you a more committed employee who will work hard to learn new skills to help ensure your success.

For a case study, let’s look at Hydroworx, who specializes in water rehab therapy. They do a lot of sports rehab with NHL superstars like Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. When they were voted in the top of “Best Places to Work in PA” for the fifth year in a row, I asked them how they pulled it off. Their answer was simple: they hire people who were passionate about helping people. They’d pick the person who loved sports rehab over the person who had 10 years of experience but was just looking for a paycheck.

Quality Over Quantity

If you are choosing between someone with more experience and a candidate with a better personality, keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. If you are noticing that the person without as much experience knows more and seems more enthusiastic about your company, then they could be the better overall candidate than someone with more previous relevant work experiences but less enthusiasm. Sometimes a candidate with fewer experiences can be better than an experienced one who has had bad past experiences and may be burnt out.

Choosing the right candidate for your company’s open position doesn’t have to mean hours of reading and comparing resumes and cover letters. It can be as simple as going with your gut.  Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink shows that your gut is right more often than you give it credit for.  Getting a good feeling about a candidates personality is often much more important than a long list of experiences, and it can lead to finding a better candidate.  So make your next job search about passion and personality, and expect nothing less than a great new hire.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania and with his wife and son, writing about social media and doing research for UB Solutions. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.

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How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right People

How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right PeopleAs an entrepreneur, relationships are some of the most valuable assets you’ll ever create. There are the relationships that you form with your customers, with your suppliers and with other small business owners. . You won’t find a column for “relationships” on your balance sheet but you should always be working on growing this asset no matter what.

When you focus your marketing activities in the following three steps, you will be working towards building strong relationships with customers and potential customers. By becoming an authority in your industry, building connections and bringing great value to the table, you’ll find yourself with a stable of strong business relationships in no time.

1. Establish Credibility in Your Industry

The first step is to position yourself as an authority in your industry. Don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials! Take advantage of inbound content marketing and create an informative blog, write a newsletter, and learn to use social media effectively. Every one of the aforementioned avenues are great places to build, grow, and nurture an audience.

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Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small Business

Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small BusinessAs a small business owner, you’ve invested a great deal of time and money creating a company you take pride in. In order to protect it, you may consider purchasing a commercial general liability insurance policy (or CGL for short). But what is a CGL and how can it help protect you and your business? Keep reading for a breakdown of the basics.

What is a CGL?

Commercial general liability insurance policies are designed to protect businesses when they are sued. They usually protect against claims of bodily injury or property damage. According to the American Bar Association, these policies are written using forms generated by nationwide insurance industry organizations. The ABA points out that, “Because CGL policies are products of insurance industry draftsmanship, courts in most jurisdictions construe any ambiguities in favor of the policyholder.”

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Experts Weigh In: How I Keep My Business From Burning Out

How I Keep My Business From Burning OutSummer is finally here, and for small business owners everywhere this is the time to relax and take a breather from last winter’s busy season, keeping up with resolutions from New Year’s, and filing taxes in the spring. But for some entrepreneurs, stopping to take a breather can easily mean just stopping… period. Before you burn out on your start-up, let our panel of 23 professionals fill you in on what you can start doing this summer to pump up your business and have a lot of fun, while beating the summer heat!

1) “We are based in gorgeous Santa Monica, CA, and are a walk away from the beach which means some of the most stunning work breaks you can think of. Given that this summer is the World Cup and we are a very diverse company, we encourage everyone to wear their country’s jerseys and will be showing major games in our movie room. We will also be sponsoring different meals based on the soccer teams playing that day! Every Friday during the summer, we break out the cocktails or head out to our local winery (bodega wine bar) to talk about the week over some yummy drinks for happy hour. For bonding, we have a monthly poker tournament which works well especially since we are growing and adding new faces often. It gives our team a great opportunity to bond with new members over a game of all in or fold.”

- David Daneshgar, Co-Founder, BloomNation

2) “We’re taking advantage of our green rebranding efforts to keep everyone psyched about coming into the office. Aside from bagel Fridays and get-to-know-your vendor meetings, Shoplet is instating an office-wide Share competition, whereby we motivate employees with fun, summer-friendly prizes to participate in our latest social media campaign Care. Share. Grow. (For each Share of a social media graphic, Shoplet plants a tree with Trees for the Future). The latest winner of our Share competition won tickets to a Yankees versus Red Sox game this September! In a way, the competitive spirit around the office unites us. It generates chatter and revs up excitement for our green initiatives.”

- Tony Ellison, CEO & Founder, Shoplet

3) “One way I plan ahead for the summer is by offering my employees a finder’s fee for each employee they refer. My argument is that there are no better headhunters than those who already work for you, especially because they are entrenched in the fast-paced environment every day and understand your business’ nuances, thus know whether the person they are referring can handle the pressure. After any prospective candidate is hired and works successfully for two months, I offer the finder employee a cash incentive of $50. It’s a tactic I’ve used for years and found that it’s been incredibly successful at combating summer turnover.”

- Dan Sacco, Owner, Pancheros Mexican Grill

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Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!

Never Miss Another Sales Tax Due Date!Guess what? You owe sales tax to at least one state this month.

Did that get your heart going? Then you’re like business owners all over the country trying to get sales tax under control but struggling to do so. It’s one of the most annoying aspects about doing business these days, particularly for eCommerce businesses.

Why? Because so many states are trying to get as much money as they can, including from online business owners who sell taxable goods to customers in their state. Do you have an employee in one state? You likely have sales tax nexus there. Do you store your inventory in a warehouse in another state? Then you’re likely required to collect sales tax in that state, too.

Some states want your payments monthly. Some want them quarterly. Some even just annually. But if you’re paying sales tax to a bunch of states, how are you supposed to keep up with all these due dates?

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