Raising Your Profile: SEO Tips for 2009


Raising Your Profile: SEO Tips for 2009

By Tim Devaney and Tom Stein
January 30, 2009

It’s the most sought-after real estate in the world: the first page of Google search results. If you market or sell online and your name doesn’t appear there, you may as well not exist. logoSound discouraging? It gets worse. A study by Cornell University found that the vast majority of consumers don’t even look past the top few links on that first page of Google results. So what can you do to raise your profile? For starters, you can keep up with developments in search engine optimization. Here’s a good place to start: a blog by SEO expert Matt McGee. His trends for 2009 include: growing emphasis on video, increasing Google dominance and more search presonalization.

Intuit is thinking of you. Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax, has begun a new program called Small Business United. It offers reduced rates or extended trial periods for a range of different online services for small business. It’s also running a Share Your Story contest. Just write up a short story about a small-business experience you’ve had and finish with a quick tip that other businesses could use. All stories and tips are available at the Share Your Story site. Come up with the best story and win $25,000.

If you’re not furious, you’re not paying attention. The American Small Business League has a cool site with a ticker that counts the number of dollars large corporations are poaching from small business. The amount is nearing $8 billion in 2009 alone. The ASBL describes itself as "the only national organization fighting for the removal of Fortune 500 firms, their subsidiaries and other large corporations from federal small business-contracting programs." It reports that federal investigations have found fraudulent diversion of small-business contracts to large coporations in virtually every federal small-business contracting program. It further reports that President Obama has yet to deliver on his campaign promise  to "end the diversion of federal small-business contracts to corporate giants." In related news: the Small Business Administration is ramping up its small-business counseling program. Maybe they’ll offer a course in anger management.

Brother can you spare a drink? alcoholicStats from around the nation are proving the truth of that old adage: when the economy slows down, drinking speeds up. From Massachusetts to Texas, alcohol sales are on the rise. In Washington, even the governor is hitting the bottle. Ted Kulongoski wants to open more state-owned liquor outlets to raise tax revenue. Of course, this does not sit well with owners of local liquor stores.

Source:  http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/contracts-bids/11764708-1.html

SBA pins hopes on venture capitalist


SBA pins hopes on venture capitalist

By Ambrose Clancy
Long Island Business News
January 30, 2009

Change is good. Change can be frightening. Change is a political slogan.

Change is also nothing new to the federal Small Business Administration. Under the Bush administration there were two chiefs and a couple of interim administrators with staff changes arriving and leaving.

The transitions haven’t been completely smooth. Chief Hector Barreto resigned under fire after critics castigated him for making ill-conceived loans in the wake of 9/11 and acting glacially during the post-Katrina catastrophe.

His replacement, Steve Preston, was shifted out of the SBA to take over Housing and Urban Development. The head of that agency split after it was revealed the FBI was investigating him on corruption charges.

President Barack Obama named Maine venture capitalist Karen Gordon Mills to head the SBA on Dec. 22 and she now awaits confirmation by the Senate. Small business advocates are hoping she’ll stick around a little longer than her predecessors.

Thomas Shinick also hopes she can redress the grievances of local small business owners. “There are a lot of frustrations out there,” said Shinick, who teaches courses in small business at Adelphi University and is chairman of the university’s School of Business Advisory Board.

There has been a lack of communication from the SBA to small businesses, Shinick said. “A lot of them aren’t even aware of what the SBA does for them,” he said.  In addition, past sudden changes at the top have triggered a sense of futility within the population the SBA is charged to serve.

Change can happen more rapidly in good or bad ways at the SBA as opposed to other federal agencies because of its size, according to Thomas Sullivan, who served for seven years as the SBA’s chief counsel for advocacy under the Bush administration.

“The SBA’s position is like a motor boat compared to, for example the Department of Agriculture, which is like a cruise ship,” Sullivan said. “You’re able to navigate quicker and change direction.”

The changes at the beginning of Mills’s reign will be more of personality rather than policy, Sullivan said. “Take any company on Long Island and see what happens when every manager changes,” Sullivan said, comparing private corner office changes with what’s happening at the SBA.

By naming Mills before Christmas, President Obama has done the SBA’s current employees a service, said Sullivan. “Anxiety about change leading up to a switchover is much more harmful to an agency’s morale than anything else,” Sullivan said. “Not knowing who your boss will be takes its toll.”

Most people associated with small business believe the Mills appointment is crucial to an economic recovery.
“Economic circumstances will demand that Karen Mills be in the conversation that is usually reserved for West Wing staff,” Sullivan said.

Gloria Glowaki, director of operations at the New York State Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook University, said small business is the engine that will drive Long Island’s economy out of recession. “Anyone with common sense knows it has to start with small businesses,” she said. “Let’s guide the money and make sure it gets down to Main Street.”

Shinick said if Mills can improve communication on the local level by meeting and listening to small business advocates and owners, the economy can begin to grow. He especially is pleased with Mills’s theory of improving “economic clusters.” This concept takes innovative businesses with a wide geographic reach and helps them attract additional suppliers and investors to their area.

One prominent SBA critic doesn’t believe Mills deserves even a honeymoon when she takes control of the agency.

“On day one she needs to start solving the SBA’s number one problem, which is the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants,” said Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League, which has been battling the SBA over the awarding of federal contracts. “We’re concerned Mills, a venture capitalist, will support policies that will divert even more small business contracts to companies owned by venture capitalists.”

For now it’s wait and see on the local level, said Alfred Titone, branch manager of Long Island’s SBA. Titone was thankful the new chief was picked early.

“There’s been no word on policy so far and no one here has any idea what will happen,” Ttione said. “But we all know there’s been a lot of changes in the past eight years.”

Source:  http://libn.com/blog/2009/01/30/sba-pins-hopes-on-venture-capitalist/

Obama Ignores Existing Federal Economic Stimulus Plans

Press Release

Obama Ignores Existing Federal Economic Stimulus Plans

January 30, 2009

Petaluma, Calif. - President Barack Obama's current economic stimulus plan makes no mention of any provisions to address a myriad of problems that have been uncovered in existing federal programs designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

The Small Business Act of 1953 was one of the first economic stimulus plans adopted by the United States government. The purpose of the Small Business Act was to direct federal infrastructure funds to small businesses where over half of Americans work and where the overwhelming majority of new jobs are created. Since 1953, the Small Business Act has spawned a number of federal programs designed to stimulate the national economy and create jobs by assisting small businesses and firms owned by women, minorities and veterans.

During the Bush Administration, many of the programs were damaged by severe budget cuts and attempts by Bush officials to dismantle the Small Business Administration and its programs. (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08995.pdf)

Since 2003, over a dozen federal investigations have been released that found fraud, abuse, loopholes and a dramatic lack of proper oversight in virtually every federal program established to assist small businesses. (https://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html)

The single largest problem that has been uncovered is the diversion of up to $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and hundreds of other large businesses. ABC, CBS and CNN all released investigative stories that found billions of dollars in federal small business contracts had actually gone to corporate giants such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Home Depot, John Deere, Xerox, General Dynamics and European conglomerates like British Aerospace, Rolls Royce and Burhmann NV headquartered in Holland. (ABC, https://www.asbl.com/abc_evening_news.wmv; CBS, https://www.asbl.com/cbs.wmv; CNN, https://www.asbl.com/showmedia.php?id=1170)

In March of 2005, the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General issued Report 5-15 which stated, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today is that large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards." (http://www.sba.gov/IG/05-15.pdf)

Federal law currently stipulates that a minimum of 23 percent of the total value of all federal contracts and subcontracts shall be awarded to small businesses. The American Small Business League (ASBL) estimates that if President Obama's economic stimulus plan includes provisions to stop the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants, over $100 billion a year in additional federal infrastructure funds could be redirected to middle class firms and create millions of jobs with minimal expense to taxpayers.


Obama Dropped Small Business Stimulus Plan Days Before the Election

Press Release

Obama Dropped Small Business Stimulus Plan Days Before the Election

January 29, 2009

Petaluma, Calif. – Just days before the election, President Barack Obama dropped a comprehensive plan to stimulate the middle class economy by stopping the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants. The plan was drafted over the course of three months by dozens of small business experts around the country who had been invited to serve on President Obama's small business advisory panel.

The plan included a number of policies that would have redirected up to $100 billion a year in federal small business contracts back to legitimate middle class firms around the country.

Since 2003, a series of over 15 federal investigations found Bush Administration officials allowed billions of dollars in federal small business contracts to be diverted to Fortune 500 firms, their subsidiaries and thousands of large businesses in the United States and Europe.

A report issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) referred to the diversion of federal small business contracts to large businesses as, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today." (http://www.sba.gov/IG/05-15.pdf

President Obama responded to the investigations in February of 2008 with the statement, "It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants." (http://www.barackobama.com/2008/02/26/the_american_small_business_le.php

The plan included support for a new piece of draft legislation written by the American Small Business League (ASBL) titled the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act. The new legislation would prevent government contracting officials from awarding small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses. The ASBL estimates the new legislation would provide a dramatic boost to the nation's failing economy by redirecting up to $100 billion a year in federal infrastructure funds to middle class firms.

As opposed to other stimulus plans that could cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act would be virtually free to taxpayers.

In December President Obama's transition team stated that up to 40,000 jobs could be created with every billion dollars spent on federal infrastructure projects. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/us/politics/07radio.html?_r=1) If calculations by President Obama and the ASBL are correct, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act could create over 4 million new jobs at virtually no expense to taxpayers.