Small Businesses Generate Big Numbers

Small business is actually big business in the US. We are a small business in California and according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, California is home to approximately 3.7 million small businesses that employ more than 6.7 million people! Across the US more than half of us are employed by small businesses, using the definition of a small business being a company with fewer than 499 employees. Not only are small businesses big in terms of current employment, they have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995! During National Small Business Week let’s all appreciate small businesses for the large impact they have on our economy!

A new intern has begun

A lot has happened here in the past few weeks. We’ve had many people out on vacation, a few days here and there to a week. We've participated in events and have both a new client and a major new project with an established client.  In the midst we also had a new intern start. While school is still in session, spring quarter to go, he is part time and then will be full time in the summer.

Classically interns spend the summer in a role, often the summer after their junior year, and if they do well are offered a full time job, ready and waiting for them after graduation.   We’ve not taken that classic approach.  

We’ve actually preferred to have interns start with fewer hours, while still in classes. As anyone who has had an intern in the past knows there is a lot for them to learn. At the beginning it’s easier for us to train a few hours a day than be faced with full days.   We’re able to ‘chunk’ the learning into manageable pieces and know he’s ready for the next step. By the time his schedule does allow for full time work he’ll be more independent and when summer is over we are hoping to see him continue with us part time.   

Last summer we hosted an intern for one of our clients. The majority of the intern’s work was with us, though they did participate in some events at the client site. We’re lucky, several good universities are nearby so interns can come in to the office and work part time with us during the school year. Having several recent college grads on staff also makes for a welcoming environment to someone still in school, many of us are not far removed from college days! We enjoy having a new team member and a fresh perspective, there will be more interns in our future.

It's National Small Business Week

This week is National Small Business Week and the theme is “SBA: Dream Big, Start Small.”  Did you know more than half of Americans work for or own a small business!  And small businesses create 2 out of every 3 new jobs. The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet has coordinated small business events in Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York City and culminating in Washington, D.C. where national winners will be recognized and awarded.  Additionally, recognition events throughout SBA’s 10 Regions and 68 Districts will be held throughout the months of May and June.

Referential is a small business, have your own big dreams for your small business? SBA resource partners like SCORE, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and Women’s Business Centers (WBC) can provide assistance to help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership.

Intuit's Connect 2014

Yesterday Intuit hosted the first QuickBooks Connect Conference, nearby in San Jose, CA. I was one of the 4,000 or so attendees.  I have to say they did a first rate job.  The panel of speakers was very impressive – Magic Johnson to Martha Stewart, Arianna Huffington to Marc Andreesen and more.   The first panel started with Sekou Andrews and you cannot help but be energized by his presentation and his poetry.  Many of the people I spoke with later really enjoyed listening to Charles Best, founder of Donorschoose.org.  He told great stories about not having the resources he needed as a teacher and finding a way to solve that for himself and so many others.  Very inspiring.  All the speakers had words of wisdom for small business owners and sometimes quite funny stories about their challenges along the way. Of course it was also a chance to see demos, speak with a wide range of vendors with products that complement QuickBooks, and get oh so many questions answered. Well worth the time, I’ll be there again in 2015.

Every business needs a great team

Any business needs a great team to be successful.  Employees are central to that and we’ve been so pleased with our growth and ability to hire quickly.  We’ve also assembled a small team with specialized expertise.  For example, we use a payroll company rather than figure out payroll intricacies and the necessary reporting on our own. We have decided to change one key member of the team, our accountant.  While we manage our finances and track everything through QuickBooks, we don’t have tax expertise in house.  We never quite got comfortable with the approach of the tax professional we’ve used since incorporation and decided it was time to investigate a change.

Since we specialize in customer reference programs no one will be surprised to know we started by asking other small business owners for referrals.  We did additional research to narrow a long list down to a couple of firms and have met with each. While we can’t make a wrong decision, there are big differences in their personal style, firm size, approach to ‘on-boarding’ new clients, and fees.  Whichever we choose, we’re confident we’re about to begin a long term relationship with this new team member.

Commitment to Youth Opportunity

We just hired two recent college grads.  Not only that, we made the pledge, will you?  See smallbizsupportouryouth.com. More than four years have passed since the economy was at it's low point, and yet nearly six million young Americans are both out of school and out of work—a staggering number.

As small business owners, we are committed to addressing this challenge in the way we can best.  Today, we joined the pledge to create meaningful opportunities for our nation’s youth.

Over the next two to three years, Referential, Inc. commits to take one or more of these actions:

1.    Increase the number of opportunity youth hires

2.    Expand full or part-time intern or apprenticeship placements for opportunity youth

3.    Adopt or expand a high-quality mentoring program for local opportunity youth.

4.    Partner with nonprofit training providers to create a new employee mentoring, job-shadowing and recruiting program.

5.    Partner with a local nonprofit or education system to identify opportunity youth to fill entry-level positions

6.    Work with our suppliers to assess opportunities to hire, train or mentor opportunity youth.

We hope your company also pledges to create meaningful opportunities for our youth.

More than half of us work where?

Did you know that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year?  Pretty impressive stats! Every year since 1963, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation through National Small Business Week, which is this week.

Activities include forums and panels discussing trends in small business, business innovation, financing, growth, matchmaking events, as well as networking opportunities and award ceremonies.

From architecture to bakeries, to consulting firms and woodworking - these are just a few of the businesses that will be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration in ceremonies held in in Washington, D.C., May 15-16.  It will be interesting to see who has been chosen as the 2014 Small Business Person of the Year.

See more here: http://www.sba.gov/nsbw/nsbw.

Promotional Items - We're Repeat Customers

You’re bound to need something. Maybe you want to send a gift to your customers at the holidays.   Often companies give away a ‘memento’ when they exhibit at trade shows.  We’ve also needed large quantities of collateral printed, more than we can easily handle in house.  Thanks to the good old web it’s easy to do research and we end up going back to the same company.  We’ve order samples on several occasions – there’s nothing like seeing the color in person rather than on a screen and knowing you’re ordering something made with attention to quality.  We’ve also had a few times, like right now, where we need items quickly.  Feeling confident in delivery matters.  I did just get notified an order placed yesterday won’t ship today – weather means an early shutdown, but we’ll still get things in plenty of time.  And it’s good to know they’re keeping employees safe by sending them home before the weather gets worse. 

As you know we’re repeat sponsors at the Summit on Customer Engagement, which begins February 25 nearby in Redwood City, CA.  Last year we had fun mood pencils, hold them and the black pencil magically turns bright blue.  Stop by and see what we have this year.  Thanks to 4Imprint.com we’re once again very happy with our choice, and are sure you will be too!

When is National Small Business Week?

National Small Business week is this week, with activities beginning today.  Did you know that more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business?  And small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the US each year. Referential, Inc. is a small business that’s proud to have created several new jobs thus far this year. Activities for this year’s National Small Business week will include forums discussing the small business landscape, business coaching services, matchmaking events as well as networking opportunities and award ceremonies. The week’s events culminate in Washington where the 2013 National Small Business Person of the Year will be announced.

In addition to the in-person events, National Small Business Week will also feature daily online forums that will focus on subjects such as exporting and access to capital.  All events will be live-streamed on SBA’s website, www.sba.gov.  Worth a look for all businesses, small and large.National Small Business Week