Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Minnesota-Based Marvin Windows and Doors Has Lessons for All Businesses

Yesterday, the Star Tribune published a timely story about Marvin Windows and Doors, a Minnesota-based, privately owned business that has prospered since 1912 by treating its stakeholders well and by generously giving back to the communities in which it operates -- in good economic times and otherwise.

Sue Marvin, president, and part of the third generation now running the company, divulged the company's design for success: "If you take care of your customers and you take care of your employees, your shareholders will be just fine."

Owners and managers of businesses large and small could learn a thing or two from this near-century-old enterprise that thrives well beyond the bottom line. Invest a few minutes to read the story: http://budurl.com/MarvinWindows.

* * *

On that note... Here's some recommended reading for current and would-be entrepreneurs and business leaders: "In Pursuit of the Common Good: Twenty-Five Years of Improving the World, One Bottle of Salad Dressing at a Time," co-authored by the late Paul Newman and A.E. Hotchner, founders of Newman's Own -- the first green food company to use all-natural ingredients, and still the most successful.

By "shamelessly exploiting" opportunities -- and, yes, well-deserved global celebrity -- Paul Newman and Newman's Own Foundation have contributed more than $280 million to thousands of charities worldwide.

Enjoy this informative, fun and inspiring read!

SOURCES: Marvin Windows and Doors [photo], Star Tribune

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Elance Releases September 2009 Work Index

Elance just published its September Elance Work Index, which ranks the hottest skills in demand on the Web today. In September, PHP, graphic design, Flash and article writing are among the fastest-growing skills in demand.

Here's a complete list of Elance's Top 10 skills in September 2009:

1. PHP
2. Graphic Design
3. Adobe Flash
4. Article Writing
5. MySQL
7. CSS
8. Microsoft Office Excel
9. Content Writing
10. WordPress

==> http://budurl.com/SeptemberElanceIndex

GoodBiz113 ad partner Elance is the leading site for online work, where businesses connect with independent professionals to get work done.

Privately held and headquartered in Mountain View, Cal., Elance delivers an immediate, cost-effective and flexible way to hire, manage and pay independent professionals and contractors online. Companies tap into Elance’s skilled talent pool to distribute their work, while professionals use Elance to meet clients, stay independent, and get paid for delivering great results.

To read testimonials from diverse clients and businesses -- e.g., entrepreneurs, marketing agencies, IT consultants & developers, professional services firms, non-profit organizations, Web development firms -- using Elance, go to:

==> http://budurl.com/ClientTestimonials

Discover more about how Elance works:

==> http://budurl.com/DiscoverElance

SOURCE: Elance Inc.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SBA, Homeland Security Issue Small-Biz Prep Guide for H1N1 Flu

Yesterday, Small Business Administration [SBA] Administrator Karen Mills and Department of Homeland Security [DHS] Secretary Janet Napolitano [pictured] announced the availability of a preparedness guide designed to assist small businesses in planning for the possibility of an H1N1 flu outbreak this fall.

During a call with reporters, Mills made clear the importance of flu preparedness for small businesses. "Small-business owners should take the time to create a plan, talk with their employees, and make sure they are prepared for flu season," she said. "For countless small businesses, having even one or two employees out for a few days has the potential to negatively impact operations and their bottom line. A thoughtful plan will help keep employees and their families healthy, as well as protect small businesses and local economies."

Outbreaks of H1N1 flu are occurring now across the country, and will likely coincide with the return of seasonal flu this fall and winter. The preparedness guide offers small-business employers tools and information to help them plan for and respond flexibly to varying levels of severity of an H1N1 outbreak -- which may lead to increased absenteeism and, if the outbreak becomes more severe, may include restricted service capabilities and supply-chain disruptions.

Employers are encouraged to put strategies in place now to protect their employees and their businesses in advance of the fall flu season. Included in the preparedness guide are tips on how to write a continuity of operations plan, steps for keeping employees healthy, frequently asked questions about the 2009 H1N1 flu, plus a list of additional resources that employers can access online.

To download the 10-page preparedness guide [pdf], please visit http://www.sba.gov/flu.

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Verbatim: President Obama Clarifies How Health Insurance Reform Plan Will Benefit All Americans

Last evening, President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress and the American people just how he wants to bring peace of mind to U.S. citizens who have health insurance, and affordable coverage to those who don't. He clearly articulated the three key points of his comprehensive health insurance reform plan:

1] It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.

2] It will provide insurance to those who don't.

3] And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.

After President Obama declared, "The time for bickering is over... Now is the time to deliver," countless people of all political stripes and backgrounds immediately weighed in on the President's plan. Here's a select sampling of how some people -- e.g., medical professionals, politicos, pundits -- think his health insurance reform plan will serve America's individuals, households and small businesses...

"I think it was a very good speech. [Obama] made it quite clear this is a very important priority for him and the American people. He also made it quite clear that he is going to 'call out' those who make false statements and use scare techniques...

"I think he was clear that he wants individual mandates, employer mandates/pay or play, critical insurance reforms including guaranteed issue [of insurance], no pre-existing condition exclusion, [and] some type of meaningful public plan, ... but [he] didn't seem committed to that solution. These are all good." -- Dr. Patty Gabow, M.D., CEO, Denver Health [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"I think they go back to committee, they find out what the Senate [Finance] Committee is going to report, then they hammer a bill out.

"I think this is a president that's under no illusion that he's going to get a lot of Republican support. He may get one Republican senator, if he's lucky, but I think that he's hoping that this talk of fiscal responsibility is going to keep some of those moderate, conservative Democrats with him in the House. He took something from Hillary Clinton, he took something from medical malpractice from the Republicans -- to the disdain of lots of liberal Democrats. So there was something in there for everybody." -- Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"Over the last month, we’ve watched the debate over health insurance reform get off track, thanks to special interests that benefit from the broken insurance system we have now. In his speech today, President Obama dispelled the myths and misunderstandings that have been swirling around this issue. And he brought back into focus how important it is to all Americans that we reform our broken health insurance system...

"We’ve entered a new phase of the debate marked by this historic speech. My colleagues and I are more determined than ever to put the best ideas -- from Democrats and Republicans -- on the table, so we can pass a meaningful health insurance reform bill that lowers costs and improves coverage for Coloradans and all Americans. The time to act is now." -- U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col. [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"Democracy Corps, a nonprofit liberal group, was doing some focus groups tonight with dials, and I was checking in with them as they were doing those. Obviously, most of what [Obama] said was way up with Democrats. And that matters because, ultimately, this is in the hands of the Democrats.

"But he scored very well with independents, as well. And it is those Blue Dog Democrats who care about fiscal issues that he was really speaking to -- both at home and in the hall. And when he said the Bush tax cut, the war in Iraq, and the prescription drug plan exploded the deficit, he was talking to them -- because a lot of them voted for that. So he's going to be able to take them behind a closed door now and say, 'Hey, bud. You jacked up the deficit under the last president. You gotta help me now.' And I think that's going to be a powerful argument behind closed doors. He said it very politely in public tonight." -- Paul Begala, Democratic strategist [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"Tonight, President Obama reminded us of exactly what is at stake in the health care debate, and of why we owe it to the American people to enact reform that makes a meaningful departure from a status quo that isn’t working for families and small businesses." -- U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Col. [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"My sense is he very much endorsed the [Sen. Max] Baucus plan tonight -- the moderate Democratic plan. He had very little to nothing about taxation in here... He didn't come out four-square for the public option. I think this is very much what they're trying to build in the Senate side.

"My sense of the speech is whether it reversed the tide, which I think was the real test. Had he given this speech three months ago, when there was a glow about his presidency, I think he could have swept the country. It was a very well-crafted speech. But now, given everything that's happened, millions of Americans that voted for him will say tonight: 'We saw the Obama we elected.' They will be really excited by this speech. But for a lot of others, I don't think it moved them very much. I'm not sure it will heal the divide. Maybe it will move some of the independents, like Paul [Begala] said. But we're so dug in, I'm not sure it ultimately moved the people he needed to move to reverse the tide." -- David Gergen, senior political analyst [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"I agree with the president that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. The best way to achieve this is by offering a strong public option that will not only bring down rising costs, but will also ensure competition and transparency among private companies within the insurance exchange. No one will be forced into the public option, but they will have that choice as an affordable alternative." -- U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"I think he clearly laid out his objectives. This was his goal. There are two lines here I want to repeat: 'While there remain some significant details to be ironed out...' That's what was missing tonight. The other thing, to the point about the Medicare, he talks about how to reduce the waste and inefficiency in Medicaid and Medicare to pay for most of his plan. And the proposal will cost $900 billion... I think he did not quiet the little anguish that'll go on among those senior citizens.

"Now, the key thing here is he laid out his goals. He laid out his objectives. The details will come from Congress. There's a lot in this thing that could be challenged tonight." -- Ed Rollins, Republican strategist [09/09/2009]

* * *

"Skyrocketing health care costs are breaking the budgets of hard-working families, small businesses and states. Too many Coloradans are one illness away from bankruptcy. President Obama is right: the status quo is unacceptable. Fixing our economy requires responsible, moderate reform that will provide security and stability for those who have health care and access to affordable insurance for those who do not." -- Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]

* * *

"Overall, we support his call for health care reform. I think he showed good leadership on the issue. I think he did a good job on calling on both parties to pass meaningful reform." -- Jeff Korsmo, executive director, Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]

* * *

"It was very clear that [the president] wasn’t just talking to the people in that chamber; he was talking to the people of this country. What I liked about the speech is it really put a blueprint out there for what needs to be done, and he dispelled a lot of the myths surrounding the debate." -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]

* * *

"I've talked to thousands of Minnesotans as I traveled the state during August, and no matter which end of the political spectrum they're on, people want real reform. I think we heard the same message from the president tonight that I have heard from my constituents: Now is the time to fix our broken health insurance system to lower costs, improve quality, and ensure choice of health plans." -- U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]

* * *

"I'm pleased that the president came out tonight and told Americans the three basic goals his plan meets, how it meets those goals, and what it will mean to them. Time is of the essence -- Americans have waited decades and they can wait no longer for reform. The cost is too high for our families, our businesses, our health care providers and our communities to bear any longer." -- U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]

The public is invited to attend a rally on health insurance reform with President Obama this Saturday, Sept. 12, at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. The event is free and open to the public. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No ticket is required. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.; program begins at 12:30 p.m.

To read the full text of President Obama's remarks to Congress, go to: http://budurl.com/SupportHealthReform.

In May 2009, shortly after he was told that his illness was terminal, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] -- who devoted his 37-year career in the U.S. Senate to championing health care for all -- wrote a letter to President Obama and asked that it be delivered upon his death. To read that letter, referenced during Obama's speech to Congress, go to: http://budurl.com/KennedyLetter.

To read President Obama's full plan for health insurance reform, go to: http://budurl.com/HealthReformPlanFull.

To download a concise, printable version of President Obama's plan [PDF], go to: http://budurl.com/HealthReformPlanPDF.

To learn about HealthierUS, a new national initiative to improve people's lives, prevent and reduce the costs of disease, and promote community health and wellness, go to: http://www.healthierus.gov/.

Want to know exactly how health insurance reform will benefit you? Take the "What's in Reform for You?" quiz: http://budurl.com/RealityCheckQuiz

For information and updates regarding health insurance reform, click on these sources:
* AARP: Myths vs. Facts About Health Care Reform
* American Cancer Society: Access to Health Care
* American Medical Association
* American Nurses Association
* Americans for Stable Quality Care
* CNN.com: Health Care in America
* Doctors for America
* FactCheck.org
* FactsAboutReform.org
* Families USA
* Federation of American Hospitals
* Health Care for America Now!
* Health Insurance Reform and Medicare
* Health Insurance Reform Reality Check
* HealthActionNow.org
* HealthReform.gov
* Kaiser Family Foundation
* Main Street Alliance
* NOW on PBS/Health Care Reform
* Setting the Record Straight
* Urban Institute's Health Policy Center

SOURCES: CNN.com, Denver Business Journal, Post-Bulletin, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

SBA Offers Free Online Course on Winning Federal Contracts

The U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] just launched a new online training course to help strengthen access to contracting opportunities for small businesses -- including those owned by women, minorities, disadvantaged individuals and veterans.

The free training program, "Recovery Act Opportunities: How to Win Federal Contracts," is part of a federal government-wide initiative announced last month by President Obama, and being led by SBA and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"Government contracts can play a key role in helping small businesses turn the corner, in terms of expansion and job creation," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills [pictured]. "But make no mistake, the benefits the government receives are equally as impressive. Working with small businesses allows the federal government to work with some of the most innovative companies in America -- often with direct contact to the CEO.

"The SBA online training course can help businesses access the federal purchasing system, and position themselves to compete for the commercial opportunities offered by government contracting."

In announcing the government-wide initiative, President Obama reiterated his Administration’s commitment to providing "our Nation’s small businesses with maximum practicable opportunity to participate in federal government contracting."

As part of the initiative, federal agency procurement officers are participating in more than 200 events over the next several weeks to help connect small businesses with contracting opportunities. Additionally, SBA and Commerce are expanding their outreach to contracting officials across the federal government, to ensure they have the tools to meet their annual contracting goals and increase opportunities to small businesses -- including those owned by veterans, women and minorities, as well as those enterprises located in designated HUBZones.

As part of the outreach to small businesses, the comprehensive online course uses both audio and script to provide information about the federal marketplace, contract rules and, most importantly, how to sell to the government and where to find contract and Recovery Act-related opportunities.

The new training portal is a free online training course designed to assist entrepreneurs during this period of economic recovery. This self-paced instructional guide provides an overview of the federal procurement process.

The "Recovery Act Opportunities" course is available on SBA’s website: http://www.sba.gov/fedcontractingtraining. It's indexed by subject matter to allow ease of use, and includes multiple direct links that highlight the best contracting resources.

The course also includes practical and fundamental steps to engage small-business owners in the federal contracting process. It is one of more than 24 online tutorials offered by the SBA, and is available 24/7.

For more information, please visit SBA's website: http://www.sba.gov/.

SOURCES: U.S. Small Business Administration, The White House

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

SBA Administrator Mills Encourages Americans to Plan for Disasters During National Preparedness Month

Citing current wildfires in Southern California and several storms impacting coastal regions, the U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA] is encouraging Americans to be prepared. In a message posted today on YouTube, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills [pictured] reminds the public about National Preparedness Month and the devastating effects of disaster, encouraging everyone to develop and implement disaster preparedness plans.

"There’s a tendency to think that a large-scale disaster is not going to happen 'where I live,'" Mills. "We should all realize that storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters can strike at any time and anywhere. Taking responsibility for your own post-disaster recovery is a good step toward protecting your family, your business and your community."

The U.S. Small Business Administration is one of many federal, state and local government and private-sector coalition partners participating in this September’s National Preparedness Month.

The Administrator’s video can be found at www.youtube.com/sba.

To prepare for disasters, SBA offers the following tips:

Develop a solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business, and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors. Homeowners, renters and business owners should ask an out-of-state friend, colleague or family member to be a "post-disaster" point of contact, supporting the flow of information about short-term relocations, recovery, additional sources of assistance, etc.

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage -- at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn’t covered. Companies should consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Flood insurance is essential. To find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit the website at www.floodsmart.gov/.

Copy important records. It’s a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location in fireproof safe deposit boxes. You should have copies/backups of important documents ready to take with you if you have to evacuate.

Create a "Disaster Survival Kit." The kit should include a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, non-perishable food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic sheeting and garbage bags, cash, and a digital camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm.

More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners and renters are available on the SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.

The Institute for Business and Home Safety [www.disastersafety.org/] also has information on protecting your home or business. To learn more about developing an emergency plan, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign website at www.ready.gov/; or, call 1-800-BE-READY to receive free materials.

Following a disaster, the SBA makes low-interest loans to homeowners, renters and non-farm businesses of all sizes. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate. Individuals may borrow up to $40,000 to cover losses to personal property.

Non-farm businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size may apply for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged business assets and real property. Small businesses that suffered economic losses as a direct result of the declared disaster may apply for a working capital loan up to $2 million, even if the property was not physically damaged.

To learn more about the SBA’s disaster assistance program, visit the website at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.

SOURCE: U.S. Small Business Administration

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