Do networking groups provide a benefit?

Most seasoned business professionals agree that networking is an incredibly significant part of their success, but many people just starting out have not grasped the importance of joining a networking group or how to make the most of their time, according to Jan Plutzer, COO at Apcera. During her career, she also discovered that cultivating a collection of both informal and formal networking groups was even more beneficial to her than having an individual mentor in her field.

Using an informal combination of business partners, employees, bosses, and current and former co-workers, she was able to bounce her ideas and problems off of a diverse group of people that had a keen understanding of her background. The best groups will not merely agree with you at every turn but rather provide brutal honesty and ask tough questions to uncover the best way of handling a situation. Her group helped her navigate challenging career choices such as leaving a prestigious job to join a startup as well as merely acting as a sounding board for new ideas and directions.

Many different types of formal networking groups exist that can fulfill a variety of roles for a young professional. Jan recommends joining groups with others in your field or that share your title to gain access to the most relevant experience. Similarly, special groups for women or minorities can help provide an added layer of support for people that might feel left out of more traditional groups. If there isn’t a group in your area, then creating one can be a great option that only requires one extra trusted professional to get started.

Importantly, just joining a networking group or participating in a few events is not enough to gain all of the benefits. To reach its full potential, networking requires effort to maintain and build new relationships as well as to provide benefits to the other members of the group that will be relying on you for the same support.

Business group helps fund some small businesses

Many small businesses are started to help solve a problem or innovate upon existing solutions, and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) exists to provide funding to those that qualify, according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

This group was formed in 1982 to help identify the feasibility, commercial potential, and technical merits of young projects and gives more money over time to successful teams.

Currently, the division has around $2.5 billion across a variety of federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, that are looking across America for projects aligned with their goals. Joining the program is possible through one of their local events or conferences that serve to educate potential participants on how the program works as well as highlighting important calendar dates and deadlines. Once accepted, Phase 1 businesses can receive up to $150,000 and up to $1 million over time based on their criteria for success. Because each federal agency will be looking for different types of projects, it is crucial to sort through everything to find the place with the best fit. There are also opportunities during the early application stages to speak with agency contacts about questions and details.

Small operators should remember that their local Small Business Development Center will provide them access to an advisor that can help them navigate the hurdles involved with getting SBIR funding. In addition, they also offer free general business counseling as well as inexpensive training options.

Can I use my home insurance for my home business?

Especially with how easy and inexpensive it is to have access to equipment like printers and copiers now, many small business owners in Cypress, TX are choosing to operate from home in order to save money. A lot of them assume that the homeowner’s policy will cover whatever happens in the home, but unfortunately a lot of the time this will probably not true. A policy that you obtain through InsureUS or another insurance company will have limitations and exceptions, and most policies have rules about how the property will be used. This makes sense because different kinds of ventures carry different kinds of risks, and insurance is about risk assessment.

If you have a physical office space, you may want to talk about property and liability insurance. Some of the most important things to protect are your equipment and records, and you may have some expensive electronics that allow you to work from home. These may include computers, furniture, and other items specifically for your home office.

Liability insurance is also important. If clients come to your home business in Cypress, TX, they could fall and become injured on your property, or become injured in another way. Also, if you are making a product or providing a professional service, you want to be protected from liability if someone becomes injured using your product or taking your professional advice.

The good news is that you may be able to offset some of the costs by claiming them as business expenses. If you have a home business or are thinking about setting one up, call InsureUS today so we can help protect you,

Entrepreneurs that startup in the same field as their family do well

While not typical, sons that decide to start a business in the same field as their fathers tend to fare much better than those striking out in their own direction, according to a study published by Germany’s Institute of Labor Economics. In it, they analyzed the data from Norwegian firms between 1999 and 2007 to discover that while only four percent of new entrepreneurs decided to start their own business this way, they were found to perform much better than their peers in a variety of metrics. Results were the same whether the father had started a business himself or had just worked as an employee in the field.

Survival during a business’ first four years is often a very telling sign of its future success and the sons in the study were able to achieve a six percent increase over similar firms that did not have a family influence. Most remarkable, however, is that sales, total assets, and the number of employees in these companies was around double their peers which landed them in the top five percent of their industry for those respective categories.

Although there is no direct, measurable cause for the advantage, the study identifies the edge as ‘dinner table human capital’ as many interviewed participants said that they learned much of what they knew from simply listening to their fathers around the dinner table at night. They would recount stories of success and failure as well as discuss problems that they were facing within their walls and as an industry as a whole. The children were also likely to have a head start on building relationships in the marketplace and were able to use their father’s name to establish trust.

For grads: Best places to start career

Congratulations to this year’s grads who have left academia just when the economy is booming, employers are hiring, and unemployment is historically low.

The question is where to start the new career.

A new study by WalletHub ranks 180 cities based on 27 metrics, including number of entry-level jobs, average salary, housing affordability, and friendliness to singles and families.

At the top of the list with the overall best rank was Salt Lake City, Utah, with number 1 quality of life rank and a number 3 professional opportunities rank.

Coming in second overall was Orlando, FL, ranking number 1 in professional opportunities and number 6 in quality of life.

Rounding out the top 10, the next top cities in order are Atlanta, GA, Charleston, SC, Tempe, AZ, Austin, TX, Columbia, SC, Denver, CO, Raleigh, NC, and Grand Rapids, MI.

Affordable housing considerations took California locations down on the list, with all but one of the least affordable cities located in California (Oakland, Los Angeles, Glendale and San Francisco.)

The lone non-California location ranked as least affordable was New York City.

Meanwhile, Iowa ranked most affordable twice (Cedar Rapids and Des Moines), with other cities including Overland Park, KS, Sioux Falls, SD, and Garland, TX.

Grads are most likely to be able to get jobs in Charleston, SC, Orlando, FL, Columbia, SC, Salt Lake City, UT, and Atlanta, GA. Cities with the least available entry-level jobs were Bridgeport, CT, Santa Clarita, CA, Garden Grove, CA, North Las Vegas, NV, and New York City.