Monday, December 27, 2010


Access to First Class Resources:

Outsource providers make substantial investments in technology, processes, and people and they gain expertise by working with many clients facing similar challenges. This combination of specialization and expertise gives their customers a competitive advantage over their competition.

First in a  series of compelling reasons why it makes sense for small businesses to outsource during recession and beyond. For more great tips, check out Next Level's blog, site or FB page.. Find the pros you need and list your own business also on the OED Community.


Monday, December 20, 2010

OUTSOURCING: Is it a four letter word?

Next Level Business Solutions kicks off a discuss and tip series on why outsourcing makes sense for small business.

During a recession, the term outsourcing congers up visions of thousands of American jobs streaming to emerging countries, however is outsourcing to US workers bad?

Let’s look at the definition of outsourcing: “Outsourcing or sub-servicing often refers to the process of contracting to a third-party.” In its simplest form everyone in the country outsources on a daily basis. Every time you go to the grocery, car mechanic, shopping mall, or doctor you are outsourcing. The same is true for your business. You hire (outsource) individuals with specific knowledge and experience to work for you, and the printing of fliers and marketing materials is outsourced to a printer. Next week we will look at why outsourcing is good for a small business in any economy.

For more great tips, check out Next Level's blog, site or FB page.. Find the pros you need and list your own business also on the OED Community.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Small Business Anxious Over Estate Tax

An article of on Thursday highlighted the growing uncertainty that many small business owners face in regard to the back and forth over estate taxes.

While the tax rates are still shaking out for a year starting in 2 weeks, many businesses are left with shifting values. With few businesses having purely liquid assets, the article highlights one owners concern that a thriving business may result in a tax nightmare for his sons. In spite of incremental gifting of ownership, capital investment continually improves the business value. Should growth for this employment engine be penalized?

As the administration and Congress worked to find compromise any of them could live with, owners were left approaching the start of a new fiscal year at the calendar turn with an unclear picture of future liability.

Tell us~ how has the uncertainty over the tax rates effecting businesses you know? Everyone sitting tight? New hires postponed? Ownership shares being held back?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December's OED 500 Winner Announced-- Cheesecake Anyone?

OED is pleased to announce that the fourth quarter winner of the OED 500 is Ruby Wesley of A Taste of Rubies. The New Brunswick, NJ-based specialty dessert company has been recognized for its creativity and perseverance throughout the past year. The OED 500 is a quarterly small business contest started as a way to recognize the flexibility, resourcefulness, and at times extreme measures displayed by American small businesses during our country’s recession. Hit hard by the recession like many small business owners, A Taste of Rubies has weathered 2009 and 2010 through the creativity and determination that is the hallmark of entrepreneurship.

“Ruby formed her business in 2007, just a initial indicators were pointing to slow down,” stated Brian Marshall, an OED Trustee. “The first two years of any new venture are often considered the most difficult. To launch a business under the recent conditions with credit tightening, consumer confidence lagging, and operational costs increasing shows a determination only fellow entrepreneurs can understand. You just keep moving forward, and Ruby has done that month by month, idea by idea. It’s a tremendous success story for NJ Small Business.”

Moving forward has meant creativity and leveraging every possible option to contains costs and entice customers. “It has been a challenge trying to offer affordable prices with the rising cost of goods. We came up with a new service: Dessert Parties as an affordable option for potential clients looking to have parties on a budget. This option allows potential clients to commemorate any occasion on a budget without having to sacrifice quality,” said Ruby. She continues, “We have adjusted, and we have parameters in place that allow us to be flexible and nimble in this volatile economy. We have several revenue streams (catering, wedding, general retail, fundraisers, wholesale and more). This versatile business model gives option and various way to continue earning income.”

To read the rest of the annoucement, visit

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thinking Like An Entrepreneur

“To think is to act.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher.

A popular misconception is that entrepreneurs are strong-willed men and women of action. But the truth is that successful entrepreneurs are strong-willed men and women, first of thought, and then of action.

Their primary everyday action is thinking and relentlessly seeking information to enable them to continually give their customers, employees and suppliers what they need (require) and want (desire) and get what they need and want in return, thereby achieving the ultimate in fair play and fairness

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Building (Business) Relationships Takes TIME

A major skill often requiring some fine-tuning with most entrepreneurs is the process of building relationships with prospective clients and future business associates BEFORE asking for the sale or discussing business participation specifics.
Most entrepreneurs are taught to talk to anyone and everyone they know and meet as soon as they can, about their new business BEFORE someone else gets to them first. This goes against all good business logic.
People do business with those they know, like and trust. New prospects need more than a first meeting to know, like and trust you. In all businesses, it takes time to build relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Be professional, focus on your goals and create a reason for people to do business with you – PERSONALLY!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why You Need A Business Plan

"Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.” – CD Jackson – American publisher

Anyone who wants to build or run a successful business needs a business plan. Building a business is no different then building anything, there are many pieces to put together and many details to cover. If you were building a building (whether a tool shed or a skyscraper) you would need a plan!

The sad truth is that most people plan trips and vacations better than they plan their business ventures. Frequently, it doesn't occur to them that a business plan can help - tremendously.

The process of creating a business plan forces you to take a realistic, more or less detached look at your business in its entirety.

Most people who have business ideas deal with them in a disorganized manner. Putting a business plan together and writing down specifics provides you with the opportunity to evaluate your business in its entirety so that you can proceed to implement it.

A finished business plan becomes a tool that will help you manage your business and work toward its success.

The business plan allows you to take nebulous thoughts and put them in concrete form. It is the difference between those who merely have an idea and those who make money on one.

The importance of planning cannot be overemphasized. It is the key to unlocking the door to success. And once you open that door, what do you find? About a thousand more doors with all kinds of variables, problems, and situations. The only way you can effectively handle those variables in a business venture is to have a logical, well-organized business plan.

By taking an objective look at your business, you can identify areas of strength and weakness. You can pinpoint your needs or details you might normally overlook. A business plan will give you enough information to help you spot problems before they arise. Planning will help you determine how you can best achieve your business goals.

A business plan does several things for you:
• Helps you identify your objectives.
• Helps you develop strategies to meet those objectives.
• Helps you earmark problems and suggests ways to solve them.
• Helps you avoid problems altogether.
• Helps create a structure to your business by defining activities and responsibilities

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How detailed does a business plan need to be?

“Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” - John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), British economist.

The amount of detail in a business plan depends on what the plan is for and how much is at stake.

If you are starting a part-time business that will only take a few hundred dollars and you don’t EXPECT it to become more then a glorified hobby then a short plan will do, a page or two.

If you are going to spend a significant amount of money, want this to be your full time business and you NEED the income from it then you need a full and detailed plan.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Become a "Positive Workaholic"

If you're like many small business owners, you log at least 50 -- possibly closer to 60 or 70 -- hours a week in the harness. You may put in a few late nights each week... spend some hours on Saturday (perhaps even Sunday) wrapping up details...tend to start vacations a day late and return a day early...slip away from the family in the evening to handle a few "just gotta get to" papers, bids, plans, etc. In the constant battle to keep your bottom line in the black, you do the work of two or three employees.

In short, you may be a workaholic. Many workaholics are guilt-ridden, driven souls who -- either due to fear of failure or genuine personal choice -- exist only to work. They neglect their own needs, the needs of their loved ones...even their own health. Ironically, even the business eventually suffers. As they become increasingly task oriented rather than results oriented, the time they put in becomes self-justifying and their productivity plunges. Eventually, they can become so completely addicted to work that they burn themselves out...and burn out their personal relationships as well. They can end up broke, alone and in poor health, plagued with stress-related illnesses.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can become a positive workaholic! Positive workaholics live fast-paced, full lives. They work hard, but they also play hard. Most of all, they get allot done and are generally successful in their business and personal lives.

How to become a positive workaholic: You are a resource. When it comes to efficient, quality productivity, you are a machine that creates value. You are also a human being. How can you operate at maximum effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to building and running your business...and also maintain a satisfying life for yourself and others away from work? Here are a few suggestions:

• Strive for balance in your life. Successful workaholics see themselves not just as business owners, but also as spouses, parents, members of the community, sports fans, charitable volunteers, boaters, etc. Though they may not mix business and pleasure, they make sure they include a healthy mixture of both in their lives on a daily basis.

Suggestion: Devote at least one focused hour each day to something (A) you value and enjoy and (B) that has absolutely no connection to business.

• Be goal-oriented. If you enjoy work for work's sake, just dig a ditch each morning and fill it in each afternoon. Positive workaholics work to achieve specific objectives. They map out their life goals and their business goals. The work they do every day is undertaken to help bring them that much closer to their objectives.

Suggestion: Start by setting aside some time today to sketch out your most important business goals and personal goals...things you'd like to achieve or do by the end of this year. Put a star beside the single most important one on each list. Then develop the daily and weekly activities that will virtually guarantee your success in achieving these goals. This will give you tremendous focus each day.

• Boost your efficiency. Time can be your enemy or your friend. But people who achieve success in business and satisfaction in their personal lives do so partially because they have learned to accomplish more in less time.

Suggestion: Structure your time as if it were gold. Don't walk into work, look around and then decide what needs to be done. Instead, begin each day with a to-do list of what you need to accomplish during that day. That way you can hit the ground running each morning and move steadily and efficiently from task to task.

• Enjoy the trip, not just the goal. Positive workaholics enjoy what they do...and the daily process of doing it. They love to get up and go to work in the morning...and they love to go home in the evening. They resist feeling guilty about either putting in too much time or taking too much time off. If they've planned their work and leisure time properly, they can focus on each separately and forget the other.

Suggestion: Build in rewards for yourself and your family...something to look forward to outside of work. Maybe it's the Thursday all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch at your favorite restaurant or going to a movie in midweek. This expands to get-away weekends and at least one extended vacation each year.

• Build in family time or social time every day...even if you have to schedule it by the clock. This helps safeguard the things you really care about.

Suggestion: Actively plan family time. The best kind of activities tend to be daily routines. Consider things like planned dinners together; helping children with homework; reading bedtime stories; cooking dinner together; etc. This is one of the great advantages of being a business owner. You can leave work at three o'clock to catch your daughter's softball game, spring for pizza with the team afterwards, then put in a few extra hours in the evening.

• Learn to live in "daytight compartments." Owning a business is a high-stress way of life. It can be difficult to simply walk away from work and turn off the problems and concerns of the day. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. The idea is to plan with broad vision, but to live each day as if there were no yesterday and no tomorrow. Focus only on the one right smack in front of you.

Suggestions: Some business owners take a shower every evening after they get home, symbolically washing away the cares of the day. Others may put in long, grueling, highly-structured hours during the week; then on Friday afternoon, they take off their watches, devote themselves one hundred percent to family and social activities and refuse to even think about work until Monday morning. Most of all, no briefcase ever gets in the front door.

• Take time for daily renewal. This could also be referred to as recharging your spiritual batteries. It is very easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees as you slog through a daily schedule. Before long, you could become lost... doubting yourself and questioning the basic premises about your life and your values.

Suggestion: Block out even just half an hour each day for prayer or meditation, to read a few pages from an inspirational book or to listen to a cassette on self-improvement.

• Watch your health. Keep yourself physically tuned up and in peak form, and avoid using alcohol or tobacco as stress relievers. This will make you more efficient, able to focus more on work, get by with less sleep, require fewer sick days and be overall more productive. There is a direct connection between physical fitness and work productivity. (A recent study showed absenteeism among workers who had a high level of cardiovascular fitness was 25% to 40% lower than for less physically fit workers.)

Suggestion: Get regular exercise... even if it only means taking the dog for a half-hour walk each day. Also, learn to eat intelligently. Some foods give you energy, help strengthen your body; others drag you down. Talk to your doctor.

The bottom line: Workaholism needn't be a dirty word. On the contrary, it can be a very positive thing. By becoming a positive workaholic, you can build a prosperous business life and enjoy a rewarding and satisfying personal life.