Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

July 3, 2012

Francis Unson:

There’s no fool-proof way to be successful but the five simple reasons entrepreneurs fail comes up over and over again. Learn from these issues and increase your chance of success.

Originally posted on David Cummings on Startups:

As I think back to my many entrepreneurial endeavors that failed (e.g. post mortem of a failed product), several clear themes come to mind. It isn’t that any one issue or challenge was the culprit, rather there were a number of items that colluded together. Also, most were within my control and I still failed.

Here are five simple reasons entrepreneurs fail:

  1. Not giving it 100% - it’s hard enough to succeed when working on something full-time that entrepreneurs working on an idea part-time are even more likely to fail because they won’t make enough progress to figure out how to make it successful
  2. Premature scaling – resources are scarce so a self-inflicted death is more likely when staff or resources are added before a business model is found (see startups shouldn’t hire a VP of Sales)
  3. Building product in a vacuumcustomer usage is oxygen for…

View original 139 more words

NADCAP Certification

June 14, 2011

The National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program, or Nadcap, is a global cooperative standards-setting program for aerospace engineering, defense and related industries.  The Nadcap Program, which is part of the Performance Review Institute (PRI), was created in 1990 with the purpose of coordinating industry-wide standards for special processes and products.  PRI’s mission is “to provide international, unbiased, independent manufacturing process and product assessments and certification services for the purpose of adding value, reducing total cost, and facilitating relationships between primes and suppliers.”

The National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program, or Nadcap, sets standards for aerospace engineering, defense and related industries. What fields do Nadcap certifications cover?

Spacetron Metal Bellow's Nadcap certification for Aerospace Quality Systems (AC7004)

In order to obtain Nadcap certification, you must complete the following steps that apply to your field of testing such as Fluid Distribution Systems (FLU), Heat Treating (HT), Materials Testing Laboratories (MTL), Non-Metallic Materials Testing (NMMT), or Non-Destructive Testing (NDT).  There are many benefits to being Nadcap-certified.  Showing that your company is Nadcap-certified tells other companies that you are ensuring that the best practices are implemented in your operations.  General quality systems are not enough to satisfy requirements in chemical processing, heat treating, welding, coatings, laboratory testing, NDT, painting, and other processes.  Nadcap goes much farther in ensuring the quality of specific operations based on best practices.  Although receiving Nadcap certification can be a lengthy process, in the end, certifying your company will guarantee more work for your company and happy customers that may very well provide that work in the future.

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Joie Montoya

2 Unique Photos Captured Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Flight

May 20, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavor took off on its final flight on May 16, 2011, with one more flight left scheduled for the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  As of Monday, Endeavour had logged more than 116 million miles, circled the Earth some 4,500 times, spent 283 days in space and carried 170 people, including the last two people to fly a Space Shuttle for the first time.  Once Atlantis flies, it will be three years, at best, before Americans are launched again from U.S. soil.   This was a once in a lifetime event but even for those who missed the launch, a lucky few managed to take photographs of Endeavor’s flight into space as it happened.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from an iPhone on a Delta flight. Courtesy: Stefanie Gordon

The first picture had been shot with an iPhone.  Stefanie Gordon, a passenger on a Delta flight from New York to Palm Beach, Florida, witnessed the Space Shuttle break through a layer of clouds and continue to soar up into space.  Thinking quickly, she pulled out her iPhone and immediately began taking pictures and video of this amazing sight.  She knew she captured something remarkable when she uploaded her pictures to Twitter and, soon after, her phone “just started going crazy” with notifications for new Twitter followers.  Within a few hours, she was fielding phone calls from ABC, the BBC, and CNBC.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from Senatobia-1 Balloon at 64,000 ft. Courtesy: Quest For Stars

The second picture was planned and taken by a balloon camera. “Senatobia-1” was launched from Bronson Sports Complex in Bronson, Florida at 7:30 am on the morning of the launch by Quest for Stars, an educational non-profit organization promoting Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) studies.  The helium-filled balloon caught Endeavour’s flight path in a series of five pictures as it reached 64,000 feet.  The camera payload ultimately reached over 95,000 feet before the balloon burst, releasing the payload for a parachute landing and recovery by Quest for Stars’ ground crew.

Both of these photographs will go down in history as capturing the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final flight from two unique perspectives.  With any luck, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be documented by future scientists, engineers, and astronauts who wish to take part in NASA’s next generation of manned missions to outer space.

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Joie Montoya

Where is the Space Shuttle Endeavour Headed?

April 21, 2011

After making its final flight in April 2011, the Space Shuttle Endeavour will take up permanent residency at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  It won’t be an easy transport but definitely worth it to those who live in California.  The estimated cost to move the 75-ton Space Shuttle is about $29 million.  On top of that, a special exhibit showroom will be constructed at the center.  Although the exhibit won’t be complete for at least five years, I’m sure many are looking forward to standing next to this amazing spacecraft up close and personal.  The Space Shuttle Endeavour has one last mission to fly but so far, it has already traveled 115.5 million miles and has spent 280 days, 9 1/2 hours in space.  In June, NASA’s Space Shuttle program will end with the Space Shuttle Alantis’ last flight.

NASA's Space Shuttle Program is ending in 2011 with Space Shuttle Endeavour's and Atlantis' last flight.Brendan Kownacki, director of Strategic Innovation for Merge Creative Media in Washington, once said that the Space Shuttles are an important symbol.  “The Space Race with the Russians began as a sign of technical savvy and nationalism, and has yielded dozens upon dozens of inventions and technological advancements.  I think the shuttles represent innovation and imagination and the idea that America has a bright future beyond what we see or know or can grasp.”  I agree with his statement very much and am glad that the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be placed at a center so close to home.  Many worked on making the shuttles a reality and I am proud to say that my father was one of those people.  I feel that everyone who was involved in making the shuttle deserves special recognition.  Even though the Space Shuttle program will be ending this June, the opportunities that came from it will endure for generations to come.

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Joie Montoya

 

What to Do if the IRS Audits You

April 19, 2011

The best thing to do if you receive a notice saying you will be audited is to not panic.   You should speak to the auditor and refer him or her to your tax professional so that you have a better understanding of the situation.  Getting the situation organized is a great thing to do.  Make sure you ask the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, why you have been selected to be audited.  Some reasons could be that you were randomly selected by computer; your business was part of a program to test compliance in the industry; or an employee, co-worker, or competing business told on you.

Even though you filed your taxes on time, the information you provide, correctly or otherwise (but especially the latter), may raise red flags and trigger an IRS audit. If you are audited, do the following.When handling an audit, be sure to do the following:

  • Be organized
  • Give them only the documents needed to support the deduction being questioned
  • Never give the IRS agent more or less information than is requested
  • Answer questions honestly, but briefly
  • Never give the IRS the original, and often, only copy of a document.  Make copies of the requested document(s).
  • Don’t chatter or exchange casual conversation.  Each comment only gives them more information.
  • Stay calm.  Don’t be argumentative or belligerent.
  • Wait until your representative has time to review any documents before you sign one

If you are aware of what you should be doing and have all the correct information, the audit should go smoothly.  Having a representative with you could help you stay out of trouble, legally.  Always be prepared when you are speaking with anyone from the IRS.  You do not want any mistakes to happen when dealing with them.

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Taylor P.

 

Tax Season

March 3, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service, better known as the IRS, opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18, 2011 to file their tax returns.  This year, Emancipation Day, a District of Columbia holiday, falls on Friday, April 15th.  By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines the same way federal holidays do, giving taxpayers an extra three days to file.  The IRS suggests that taxpayers use e-file, which is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds due to recent tax law changes.  For those not using an e-file, here are a few things to bring to your tax preparer, whether you are a business owner of any size, a homeowner, or a student.

January through the first half of April marks Tax Season, a period when Americans file their taxes with the state and federal government. In order to make filing your taxes as smooth as possible, here is a list of the paperwork you should prepare in advance.For every tax payer:

  • Last year’s Federal and State tax returns (for new clients)
  • Income/Wage statements:
    • W-2’s
    • 1099’s
    • Alimony received or paid
    • Commissions received statement
    • Brokerage account year-end statements
    • ESPP statements
    • Stock options sale papers
    • Rental property income and expenses
    • Partnership, S Corp, trusts, or estate yearly statements
    • Pension or retirement income statements
    • Social security income yearly statement
    • Unemployment income yearly statement
    • State income tax refund statement
    • Gambling and lottery winnings (and losses, if you have winnings)
  • Car, motor home, and boat registration paperwork
  • Donation receipts
  • IRA contributions
  • Child care expenses and provider information
  • Medical expenses
  • State taxes paid
  • Unreimbursed employment-related expenses
  • Job-related educational expenses
  • Casualty or theft losses
  • Foreign taxes paid

For Homeowners:

  • Mortgage interest year-end statement
  • Home equity year-end statement
  • Property tax information
  • If you sold your home, purchase and home improvement information

Businesses:

  • Income and expense reports
  • Mileage logs for autos
  • Receipts for business assets purchased

Students:

  • Tuition and education fees
  • Student loan information
  • Grants and scholarship information

By bringing all the necessary paperwork listed above, you will help make your tax preparation as quickly and easily as possible.  You receive most of these documents in the mail from January to February.  Organizing paperwork is a great, time-saving idea.  You can create binders for each year and in them, you should save receipts, pay check receipts, old Federal and State tax returns, and other important documents.  This is a great idea for two reasons.  The first reason is that you will be organized and, should you need a certain document, you will know where to find it.  The second reason is, if disaster or an emergency strikes, you can have all your important files in a secure location, since some of the documents cannot be replaced.  Organizing your important documents now will save you and your tax preparer from headache in the future!

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Taylor P.

National Pancake Day

February 28, 2011

National Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, is a tradition celebrated by Catholics throughout Europe and English-speaking countries around the world.  Every year, this tradition falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent, the season of fasting.  In most countries with sizable Catholic populations, Pancake Day is held to consume foods that contain ingredients such as sugars, fats, and eggs, which cannot be eaten during Lent.  Enjoying a final feast of pancakes before Lent is a way to not waste certain ingredients because, by the end of Lent, these ingredients would have since spoiled.

Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday — call it what you will, but foods that contain sugar, fats, and eggs are restricted by the time Lent begins.  IHOP gets into the spirit by offering free pancakes.The International House of Pancakes, or IHOP, is a chain of restaurants that sells breakfast foods.  They are most famous for their short stack pancakes.  Beginning in March 2006, IHOP commemorated National Pancake Day in its own way by giving away free short stacks, while asking in return that costumers leave a small donation to contribute to a local charity.  Each year, they raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities.  So far, $5.3 million have been raised for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.  Last year, over $2.1 million was raised.  Their goal is to raise $2.3 million this year.  Since the beginning of National Pancake Day at IHOP, 10.1 million buttermilk pancakes have been given away.  On Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 starting at 7AM and ending at 10PM, IHOP will be giving away free pancakes.  Make sure to head there early!

UPDATE

IHOP‘s National Pancake Day takes place on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  Get there early for your free short stack of pancakes!

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Taylor P.

Short Sale Mistakes a Realtor Should Not Make

February 18, 2011

Have you ever gone to an open house and you hear the realtor mention that the house is on short sale?  If you aren’t familiar with real estate terms, “short sale” can sound like a positive thing, but unfortunately, it’s not.  A house that is on short sale can, in fact, take months longer to buy than a house that is simply for sale or for lease with an option to buy.  For a realtor, this type of house can be harder to sell, depending on their clients, so the way they handle a short sale or present the house on short sale can make or break the deal.  Here are a few things your realtor should avoid when dealing with a short sale.

  1. A house that is on short sale can take months longer to buy than a house that is simply for sale or for lease with an option to buy.  Here are some common short sale mistakes your realtor should avoid.Make sure you are familiar with the short sale process; do not go into it blind.
  2. Do not hire an unqualified professional to negotiate with the bank.
  3. Do your homework!  Make sure you keep following up with bank representatives regarding the short sale.
  4. Do not price the property above market value to try to cover full payoff.
  5. Do not submit an offer that is too low or buyer financing that is not strong enough.
  6. Do not pay any upfront fees for someone to facilitate a short sale.
  7. Do not be unaware of how to approach business cases to lenders.
  8. Do not expect the process to be much shorter than is realistic.

Make sure you are confident with your realtor and that you can trust him/her to get you through the short sale process securely.  With an increase in short sales this year, both home buyers and home sellers should look into the process to avoid any confusion in the future.

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Joie Montoya

PVC Pipes vs. Copper Pipes

February 10, 2011

Choosing between PVC pipes and copper pipes is not a decision you make very often.  Usually, you would make this decision when you move into or out of a house.  The decision you make will affect the value of the house, so let’s weigh the pros and cons of each type of pipe.

Copper pipes

When installing or upgrading the piping in your house, apartment, or building, what should you install, copper or PVC pipes? Joie weighs the pros and cons of each type.Pros

  • Copper pipes increase home value.
  • They can last a lifetime.
  • They can withstand higher pressure.
  • Copper acts as a biostatic.
  • They can contract and expand with temperature.
  • They can be installed in small places.

Cons

  • Copper pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes.
  • In the winter, the pipes might freeze or burst.
  • There have been reports of metallic tastes in the water.

PVC pipes

When installing or upgrading the piping in your house, apartment, or building, what should you install, copper or PVC pipes? Joie weighs the pros and cons of each type.Pros

  • PVC pipes weigh less than copper pipes.
  • They can withstand high water pressure.
  • Less expensive than copper pipes.
  • Less noisy than copper pipes.

Cons

  • PVC pipes do not tolerate flames well.
  • They do not flex well under pressure.
  • The amount of toxins in PVC leaks may cause health problems such as cancer or neurological damage.

In my opinion, I feel that investing a little more money into copper pipes would be the best choice because the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially in the long run.  Because of the increase in property value that comes with the installation of copper pipes, you will realize a return on investment on your property should you sell your house or building in the future.  The longest-lasting repairs you can make to your house or building should begin from the inside, with copper pipes.

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Joie Montoya

Mixing it up with Interior Design

February 3, 2011

It may be easy to come up with ideas for redecorating your house, but the total cost of making the changes may make you think twice.  Costs aside, many design questions may come to mind, such as: What would go best with this?  Will I have to change other things in my home to match this?  Will I like it in the end?  The best thing to do when redecorating is to plan ahead and then, shop around for the materials you will need.  Here are some tips to think about when you are planning to redecorate your home.

When planning to redecorate your home, keep these modern rules in mind for mixing it up. Interior design is dynamic and ever-changing, so try to keep up!When looking at patterns and paint, go with something you are most comfortable with.  Scale is important to think about when looking at patterns.  You don’t want all your patterns to be scaled similarly, so choose them in small, medium and large.  Scaling down your furniture also serves to create a larger floor.  There are different types of patterns you can add such as stripes, plaids, checks, floral, and organics among countless others.  Start by comparing different patterns until you find a pattern you will enjoy for years to come.  When you are piecing everything together, make sure there is balance throughout the room.  You want your eyes to be able to flow through the room.  If you keep your decorating at your comfort level, you will love it.  The way you decorate doesn’t have to be straight from a magazine.  Let your creativity flow!

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Taylor P.

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