Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities
Jul 6 2013

I received a request to post this info back in April, but just now had the time to get it on the blog.  It’s a bit dated but still useful especially since Austin, Texas made the list for being one of the most friendly places for small businesses!

Small Businesses Rate Utah and Alabama Friendliest States, California and Illinois Among Least Friendly. Austin and Virginia Beach ranked most business-friendly cities.

 (San Francisco, Calif.) April 2, 2013:   Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, today released the second-annual Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey showing that Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas rated as the top-five friendliest states for small business. In contrast, small business owners gave Hawaii, Maine and Rhode Island an “F,” while California and Illinois rounded out the bottom five, both earning a “D” grade. The top performing cities were Austin, Virginia Beach and Houston.

The Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey is the only survey to obtain data from an extensive, nationwide universe of job creators and entrepreneurs in order to determine the most business-friendly locations. While there are various “business climate rankings” that rate locations as good or bad for business, there are no others that draw upon considerable data from small business owners themselves.

“Small businesses are top-of-mind for lawmakers nationwide, but too often their needs are more a matter of conjecture rather than actual evidence,” says Sander Daniels, co-founder of Thumbtack.com. “Some 7,000 businesses owners across the country have told us that they care about a lot more than just taxes – for most businesses, simple licensing regulations and helpful training programs are even more important to their success.”

Some of the survey’s key findings include:

  • Texas had three of the top five cities (AustinHouston and San Antonio), while California was home to three of the bottom five (Los AngelesSan Diego and Sacramento). Newark, NJ finished last in this year’s rankings.
  • Professional licensing requirements were 30 percent more important than taxes in determining a state’s overall business-friendliness, confirming the findings from last year’s study. Furthermore, this year’s research revealed that 40 percent of U.S. small businesses are subject to licensing regulations by multiple jurisdictions or levels of government.
  • Small businesses were relatively unconcerned with tax rates – more than half of small business owners felt they pay about the right share of taxes.
  • African-American and Hispanic small business owners were significantly more likely than their white counterparts to encourage others to start a new business.
  • North Carolina was the most improved state, making strides across multiple categories and rising from a “C+’” to a “B+” grade overall.
  • The ease of obtaining health insurance was an important factor for many businesses. One-third of small business owners rated obtaining and keeping health insurance as “Very Difficult,” versus only 6 percent who rated it “Very Easy.”

“It is critical to the economic health of every city and state to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment,” said Dane Stangler, director of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation.  “Policymakers put themselves in the best position to encourage sustainable growth and long-term prosperity by listening to the voices of small business owners themselves.”

The full results can be seen here and include full sets of rankings, dozens of easily searchable quotes from small businesses nationwide, regional comparisons within states, and Census data comparing states’ and cities’ key demographics against those of other states and cities.

 “The relative ease of running a business where I live is a direct reflection of the way our city and state operate and enforce the rules. They are very orderly and have very clear laws that are easy to follow.  It leaves me with more time to focus on actually running my business.” Trainer – Salt Lake City, UT

 Survey methodology

Thumbtack.com surveyed 7,766 small businesses across the United States. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities toward small business, such as:

  • “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”
  • “Would you discourage or encourage someone from starting a new business where you live?” and
  • “Do you think you pay your fair share of taxes?”

Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics. The full methodology paper can be found here.

What is Thumbtack.com?

Thumbtack.com is a place where you can hire help locally. Need a DJinterior designer,wedding photographer, or house cleanerTell us what you need, and we’ll bring you 3-5 bids on that job to your email inbox within 24 hours. More than 275,000 small businesses and freelancers have listed their services on Thumbtack nationwide.

Media Contacts:

Barbara Pruitt, 816-932-1288bpruitt@kauffman.org, Kauffman Foundation
Sander Daniels, 415-547-0579sander.daniels@thumbtack.com, Thumbtack.com

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Lemonade Day Austin – May 5, 2013 – Entrepreneurial Kids
May 5 2013

Every year there is a nationwide effort to encourage kids to think like entrepreneurs called Lemonade Day.  This year it was held in Austin on May 5 (cinco de Mayo), 2013 and both of my kids participated with some of their classmates.  One location was at the Rookie Triathlon and the other was at Mueller Lake Park. My daughter’s team made a profit of $91.  They split $90 three ways and gave $1 to the 3 year old sister of one of the girl’s on the team.  Her younger sister is so cute and had a sign that said “buy my sister’s lemonade” that she held while yelling the words on her sign.  She drew in many customers by her sheer cuteness and confidence! Although she deserved more than $1, she is only 3 and thought $1 was an amazing amount of money.  My sister and her friends are 7 and 8 years old…oh what a few years of living does to change your perspective on the value of $1. :-)

My son and his buddy are still calculating their returns, but it looks like they made money after deducting costs.  I’ve told both my son and daughter that no gloating is allowed. I have a feeling my daughter’s team performed better mostly because of Location, Location, Location!

Lemonade Day is a great way to teach kids about the economics of running a little business and was started to help teach kids about entrepreneurship.  The kids create signs and are supposed to figure out what supplies they need and how many drinks/snacks they need to sell to make a profit.  It’s fun for the parents too and gives us an opportunity to talk about business, marketing, and selling with our kids.  Those are skills that will serve them well for life!  Gone are the days of steady jobs that last 20 or 30+ years.  Here are the days where most people will hold 10 to 20 different jobs [infographic] at different companies in their lifetime.  Might as well teach them how to pick themselves into the job/career that they want!

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS
May 4 2013

big-austin-gary_hoover-may 2013CELEBRATING 18 Years of BiG BUSINESS, BiG IMPACT AND BiG PARTNERSHIPS

Acknowledging the past, Celebrating the present and Ushering in the future is the theme of BiGAUSTIN’s 18th birthday celebration.  On Thursday May 9, 2013 from 6pm-9pm, BiGAUSTIN is inviting friends of the past and present who have been instrumental in establishing BiGAUSTIN’s status as a leader in the small business development sector.

This event will engage past and present clients, instructors, supporters and all whose stories have inspired 18 years of adventure for BiGAUSTIN.  This interactive event will consist of food, live music, raffles, and networking opportunities for all in attendance.  The BiG celebration will feature the unveiling of BiGAUSTIN’s training room and updated picture displays of current clients and their businesses.

This is a free event and all invited guests are encouraged to bring guests as well.  Attendees will have the opportunity to increase their business visibility and forge new partnerships by sponsoring BiGAUSTIN’s training room.  Sponsorship packets will be available at the event.

BiGAUSTIN is delighted to have distinguished entrepreneur and speaker Gary Hoover, one of the nation’s foremost experts in small business success having created pioneering book super- store BOOKSTOP, which helped change the nature of book shopping in America. This company was sold to Barnes & Noble for $41.5 million when it was just 7 years old. RSVP HERE…

About BiGAUSTIN

BiGAUSTIN is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing training services, one-on-one assistance, and loans to individuals who want to achieve self-sufficiency by starting their own small business.  BiGAUSTIN assists small businesses to successfully grow by providing comprehensive education, tailored business counseling and flexible loans.  BiGAUSTIN’s office which houses most of our staff and our training facilities is located at 5407 N.IH-35, Suite 200 on the 2nd floor.

Media Contact:
Happiness Kisoso
happiness@bigaustin.org

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Do You Have The Guts Not To Fight?
Apr 21 2013

42 film poster.jpgI saw the movie 42 this weekend and it was *very* inspiring.  The theater was packed and people applauded when it was over.  Based on my movie going experience, it’s not often that people applaud after a movie.  It was about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player.  The movie portrayed what he went through to make a name in America’s top sport in the 1940’s.

One line from the movie that resonated with me was said by Branch Ricky, a team executive, played by Harrison Ford in response to Jackie saying “do you want a player who doesn’t have the guts to stand up from himself?”  He responded and told Jackie he wanted a player with the “guts not to fight” (or something like that), when people would surely treat him awfully because of his race, in order to make history and become a baseball legend.  It would be extremely hard for most people to sit back and experience the horrible, racist things he had to endure from slurs to being denied a hotel to stay in when he was on the road with his team.  Yet, he apparently had the strength to “turn the other cheek.”

Yes, sometimes it takes more guts not to fight as people like MLK and Gandhi have demonstrated.  Fortunately for Jackie, he had talent, desire, a little luck, and passion for the sport of baseball.  He knew he wanted to win at baseball more than he wanted to rightly punch somebody or stoop to their level.  Like many entrepreneurs, he focused on the end goal and didn’t let the mean spirited, those scared of tolerance/change, or the onslaught of scathing words get him down.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, movie reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

In The Interest of Time…
Apr 2 2013

Congratulations to Eric Tung, a former undergrad student of mine from my adjunct lecturing days at The University of Texas at Austin, for winning the Jackson 5ive video!  It’s strange to know that my former students already have kids of their own, and he has far surpassed his Intro to Entrepreneurship teacher in the world of social media!

There is much going on and my entrepreneurial life juggle has (again) taken precedence over blogging, so I leave you with these interesting reads:

How to Deal with Negative People – Texas Enterprise

Decision making for the indecisive – The Washington Post

Advice for CEOs in We Are Austin Tech Video – The American CEO

Make room for A players: Stars don’t always turn up on your schedule – The American CEO

The loneliness epidemic – Seth Godin

Studying entrepreneurship without doing it – Seth Godin

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

SXSW – 2013
Mar 8 2013

South by Southwest is upon us here again in Austin.  There are tons of people here.  They’ve expanded it to include an Education category, followed by Interactive (for the geeks), followed by Film and Music.  There may be some other categories, but it’s gotten too big for most of us here to keep up with.  I don’t have a badge this year. I attended a few parties last night including the annual High Tech Happy Hour at Molotov and the Start-Up Crawl.  My perspective on the evolution of sxsw interactive is that it’s starting to get unwieldy.  It’s a great time to catch up with many friends and business connections that I don’t normally get to see during the year, but there is so much noise that it’s easy to miss the substance.

Welcome to everyone who is here visiting our fine city!  We have a lot of a lot of interesting entrepreneurial activity going on here and a very open/collaborative community.  I hope the new, viable start-ups get lucky, make some great connections, and generate some good buzz that will sustain their businesses for another year.

 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.
Mar 4 2013

Poe-Quote“I was never insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” – Edgar Allan Poe   Someone on facebook shared that quote recently.  Subsequently, two of my girlfriends told me that Poe was one of their favorite authors.

I saw The Raven last year and it was a dark film.  Reading about Poe’s life it sounds as if his heart must have been “touched” often.  There are more than a few entrepreneurially-minded individuals who had similar characteristics and as we see in the media there are also some famous actors and singers whose sanity has been questioned.  Your heart/passion has to be touched to take on the “insanity” of starting a business!

My guess is that most of us keep our hearts protected, otherwise there might be a lot of “insane” people running around.  Or maybe we could all do with a bit more insanity (i.e., non status-quo) in our lives…without the judgement and cowardice that often goes along with it. As Albert Einstein said, the true definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Poe doesn’t say whether the touch is one that caresses, holds, scares, confuses, or breaks his heart leaving us readers to wonder what he meant or what touched his heart the most.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, random stuff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Much Ado About Women
Feb 27 2013

teach-to-fish-400x478There have been some interesting articles floating around about women and our roles in business and leadership lately.  I’ve posted a few on facebook and wanted to share here:

Richard Branson on Why We Need More Women in the Boardroom (a.k.a. 12 Angry Men) – Entrepreneur

Sheryl Sandberg’s Radically Realistic ‘And’ Solution for Working Mothers - The Atlantic

Are our colleges equipping women to be leaders? - Washington Post

Why I Was Never a “Feminist” – Stealthmode

Why Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s work from home ban is the wrong approach – The American CEO

4 Reasons Marissa Mayer’s No-At-Home-Work Policy Is an Epic Fail - Forbes

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office – New York Times

The Most Powerful Women in Tech – 2012 – Forbes

There are have been many advancements to support women in the workplace and yet women still don’t have equal representation in many areas of senior leadership.  For the first time ever, women are earning more college degrees than men.  Yet at the senior level of most organizations, women are not very visible (i.e., “heard”) and sometimes their actions are deeply scrutinized by both men and women.  It seems to be the ongoing price of progress, and I’m glad I’m living in the year 2013 versus 50 to 100 years ago.  I think women have clearly demonstrated their value in the market place…now if they could earn equal pay for equal work across all job functions, that would be another step in the right direction…

To those men and women who take the time to teach women and young girls how to be leaders and provide them support as well as access to your networks to help them grow and learn from their failures & mistakes, thank you for your foresight, interest, and encouragement!  “Give a man/woman a fish, he/she eats for a day. Teach them how to fish, they can eat for a lifetime.”

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Impermanence of all That Exists
Jan 13 2013

mandala-tibet-jan2013This weekend I went to the Blanton Museum of Art exhibit that showcased Tibetan monks building a sand mandala.  After spending days and hours creating this mandala out of fine, colored sand, they “dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sands to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists.”

I wonder if entrepreneurs who achieve the most success, not only in dollars but also impact on the world, truly understand that everything is impermanent which results in a shift in how they perceive risk.  Steve Jobs could have floundered in his business in the early days, as most entrepreneurs do, instead of becoming a household name for founding Apple and Pixar.  I’m sure he and his team threw away many designs or product ideas that they spent countless hours on, but they kept on painstakingly placing the grains of sand on each next iteration. If a few grains of sand shifted in some of the most popular designs he had envisioned in his head, we may never have known he existed.  And now even he is gone but his company lives on…for now.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun, steve jobs, success | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lincoln and Dealing with Change
Nov 18 2012

I saw the movie Lincoln last night. I left this comment on Fred Wilson’s post about the movie:

I saw the movie last night and was deeply impressed with how it was done and the actors rendition of all of their parts. Watching a movie like this gives you perspective on what we have to deal with today in most of our (very lucky) daily lives. The fear & demons Lincoln had to wrestle with must have been tremendous. One line I remember went something like “We can show people that democracy does not have to be chaos.”

As I observe start-ups and small businesses I’ve been involved with, those who have thrived attempt to manage chaos with some sensible structure, coordination among team members, & meaning. Those who don’t have that belief/skill set tend to build continuously chaotic companies with high turnover. Like with a child, the first year or so of chaos and sleepless nights are understandable, but after that healthy parents and healthy kids are expected to start “growing” up so to speak and communicate differently.”

On facebook I posted: “The movie Lincoln is a must see. So well done. Saw it last night. Definitely gives you perspective regarding what people were dealing with then vs. now. Standing up for your beliefs in a smart, intelligent, strategic way is not easy and most go the easy route because the fear of rejection is so huge in many of us.

The amount of change in our daily lives today gives us very little time to think about our decisions.  We often make decisions hastily without taking the time to analyze what is sometimes an overwhelming amount of information.  We often don’t make decisions at all because we are too used to the the status quo, we worry what people will think of us, or we are paralyzed with the amount of information we feel we need to sift through.  In Lincoln’s time the conflicting information he was receiving was also tremendous, and in his situation there were people’s lives at stake…not just jobs, profits, losses, and Wall Street earnings that many of us deal with today here in the United States.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, movie reviews, working dad | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Marketing Cloud Summit – Austin, Texas – October 25, 2012
Oct 22 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Get a jump on your 2013 marketing planning in this “meeting of the minds” afternoon in Austin, Texas.  Bulldog Solutions, where I work, is one of the sponsors of this event along with many other well known companies in the B2B marketing space.

Join us for an educational summit in Austin, Texas, hosted by the Marketing Cloud™ and featuring Jay Gaines of SiriusDecisions, who will present “2013 Planning Methodology to Maximize Revenue,” SiriusDecisions’ ground-breaking marketing planning methodology. Customers and partners of the Marketing Cloud will then present real-world case studies that illustrate the planning assumptions offered by Jay.  

You’ll learn why:

  • Your marketing must be a BLEND
  • FOCUS on the persona is critical
  • It really is time to MOBILIZE
  • You must ELEVATE to be relevant
  • BALANCE is everything

Who should attend: Marketing and sales leaders responsible for delivering revenue in 2013 in the areas of strategy, infrastructure or programs.

Date:  Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time:  1 p.m. to 5 p.m. CST (followed by a cocktail reception)

Place:  Hilton Austin, 500 E. 4th St. Austin, Texas 78701

Register Now...

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Personality Types and Change Management
Oct 1 2012

Organizational alignment, managing change, and/or getting ready for company growth is not easy.  Companies who spend time addressing organizational health definitely have a competitive advantage.  One way to help assess health is to help management and everyone on the team understand their strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve written on this blog several times about self analysis and assessments from Strengths Finder 2.0 to career inventory tests to reading tons of articles fiction or non-fiction based.

One tool that many companies and business schools use is Myers-Briggs.  I have taken that assessment 3 times and each time I am an ENTJ.  I recently took it again as part of a management team exercise and my T was softer (probably due to the tons of heart related work I’ve done) and my J was stronger (probably because I’ve had to rely more on my planning skills with 2 kids, working full time, consulting part time, and attempting to work on my music).

Below is an infographic on Myers-Briggs Personality Type and Social Media Usage and here are some other interesting articles having to do with how people process decisions and change:

Ten Reasons People Resist Change

7 Social Psychology Studies to Help You Convert Prospects into Paying Customers

Making Choices: How Your Brain Decides

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, singing, social media, social networks, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Appreciate Your Employees. It’s Good For Business.
Sep 19 2012

Infographics are the rave right now.  Spell check hasn’t realized that infographic is a new word.  We create infographics for our clients where I work.  We also, in our spare time, create infographics for ourselves.  I happened upon this cool infographic on HR Morning (via a link from Texas CEO magazine) and had to share.  It’s so obvious to me that thanking your employees is good for business, but for some reason 65% of workers don’t receive ANY praise or appreciation.  They must work where Dilbert works.  Appreciating your kids, your friends, or your partners in life is so important.  A few kind and thankful words can go a long way in fostering loyalty, solving misunderstandings, building bridges, and most importantly bringing out the smiles & laughter. :-)

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, FYI, Just For Fun | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Great Leaders Read All The Time
Sep 16 2012

They (i.e., Harvard Business Review) say that great leaders read all the time.  That is certainly true of many great leaders (e.g., founder/CEO of WholeFoods) but there are great leaders who probably don’t have the time to read especially with family and work responsibilities, and I think they get some of their information in other ways (i.e., short bursts of knowledge that they have to assimilate over time).  There are tons of not-so-great leaders out there and admittedly they aren’t avid readers.  They have a hard time empathizing with others because they haven’t broadened their knowledge base by relating to other people’s stories from different parts of the world.

When I was working on the series of articles on success, I noticed that most of the leaders I interviewed were very well read and a handful had liberal arts, psychology, or humanities degrees.  You can certainly tell when someone is well read, not just in the latest business trends but also in works of fiction and other great classic literature by the way they interact with people.  I wish I had time to read more novels.  I can’t even seem to make it to my neighborhood mom’s monthly book club!

Here are a couple of interesting but short reads:

The Secret Behind Creativity – discusses ideas on how to be creative

MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Dr. Dana Ardi – from Fred Wilson’s blog.  A guest post by someone Fred respects in the world of HR, culture building, and recruiting/retaining great talent.

Author: | Filed under: books, entrepreneurship, success | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is It Really That Easy To Raise Money?
Aug 19 2012

The success companies and artists have seen on Kickstarter make it seem easier to raise money than ever before.  According to the article Kickstarter projects generate millions of dollars, a notable group of people have raised substantially more money than they intended.  According to the article:

Pebble Technology wanted to raise $100,000 to make 1,000 wristwatches that can be programmed with different clock faces, and they ended up with $10.3 million.  The founder of Pebble is 25 years old.

Designer Casey Hopkins asked for $75,000 to make a luxury iPhone dock out of solid aluminum. He got $1.4 million. That was in February 2012 and his project was the first to surpass $1 million.

Artist Rich Burlew asked for $57,750 to put his comic books back in print, and ended up with $1.3 million.

Ouya asked for $950,000 to create a game console and hit $8.6 million in pledges.

Apparently 10% of the films in this year’s SXSW film festival were funded by kickstarter!  That’s incredible!

It seems easy, but there is a finder’s fee: Kickstarter takes 5 percent and Amazon.com Inc. takes another 3 to 5 percent for processing the payments. Recipients are also typically taxed on the funds.

It’s interesting to note that most, if not all, of the people who exceeded their fundraising goals already had a reputation for delivering good products as well as a loyal following.  It would be much harder for someone to come out of nowhere and achieve the same results.

It will be interesting to see how long this trend lasts and if lawsuits will arise if people who contribute their money aren’t satisfied with what they get.  How does one get a refund?

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, fundraising | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »