NASE Blogs

Sunday, November 16, 2014
That is a great question and has become even more important in our modern digital age. When speaking with our sellers we emphasize that buyers do not normally make a decision to BUY from home photos they see on the internet, but they do make the decision to LOOK based upon home photos they see. We also remind our sellers that “the way you LIST is not the way you LIVE”. In other words, a seller should focus on presenting the home is such a way that it will appeal to the highest number of buyers. With that in mind ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Your question is a legal one and I encourage you to seek legal counsel before  signing a legally binding contract. However, I will attempt to answer your question on a broad basis. In a real estate sales contract liquidated damages usually represents a monetary settlement between the parties in the event either party does not perform all of the agreed upon terms of the contract, triggering a default. If a buyer defaults , the liquidated damages are most often deemed to be forfeiture to the seller of the earnest money in title escrow. If a seller defaults, the liquidated damages ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The most common answer to that question is no. In a typical residential transaction, the listing broker charges the full commission (in your case 6% of the sales price) which is split (usually 50-50 but not always) between the listing broker and what is known as the “procuring” (the broker who found the buyer) broker. Each broker then further divides the commission with the agents involved in the transaction, assuming they are different than the managing broker. Keep in mind that real estate agents mostly work as independent contractors underneath a sponsoring broker. This is very common among larger real ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Owning a home on acreage can be rewarding from a personal enjoyment perspective as well as for its potential to appreciate over the long term. In making the decision to purchase, always evaluate what is normal and typical for the area. Assuming your new home will be on a water well and a septic system, you should be fine as long as most other homes in the area on lots of similar size are served by a well and septic system. A critical factor in evaluating rural properties is a thorough understanding of the zoning regulations not only of your ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Great question. I congratulate you on being proactive in choosing a real estate professional. Your efforts should pay  dividends. First, I suggest you perform an honest self-assessment of what characteristics are important to you. Are there certain neighborhoods you have an interest in? A specific price range? Are you looking for someone with youthful enthusiasm or perhaps a seasoned professional  with years of experience in the business? Do you prefer someone with creative flair or a number cruncher? When you have answered these questions, I recommend you reach out to contacts  you have met locally . Request referrals  of real ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I actually get this question quite often. The obvious answer is to sell your home when the demand is highest …and the supply is lowest. The tricky part is determining when that might be. In residential real estate, demand often has a seasonal component and is based upon traditional weather patterns, school calendars, and popular holidays. In Texas for example, demand usually increases in early spring and lasts through mid-summer. The weather is milder , the year-end holidays are over, and those families with children want to be situated before a new school term begins in late August. Demand often ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
In most states, annual property taxes are a factor of local tax rates, the home’s current assessed value, as well as exemptions for which the homeowner might qualify. It is important to make sure you are taking advantage of any existing exemptions which might apply. For example, is the home occupied? In many cases, owner occupants get a break. Are you over 65? Disabled in some way? Check with your local taxing authority to ensure that you are receiving credit for any exemption available. The home’s assessed value is most often the predominant factor in determining property taxes due. The ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Notice the advertising done by other successful companies in your industry. Also, understand that there is a difference between a company that’s been in business many years and may have $50MM in sales, and your start-up company. They have built their brand and are getting volume discounts. Join professional trade associations and learn from them. Do your homework. Consult professionals. Every industry is different and your creative message and your selection of media channels must resonate with your target audience. Determine your budget and test one channel at a time and do it well, rather than diluting your budget across ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Because television covers a wide area, you need multiple locations, or sales people that work the entire area where your commercials will be broadcast. As with any media you need to have frequency and consistency, but first you need to calculate is your product/service a fit for television. You should determine your total media cost and how many leads and sales you need to ensure success. If your media cost is $10,000 and the average profit on your sale is $1200 – you need 8.33 sales to break even. If you’re doing direct response television, you need to ensure you ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Let’s look at the numbers. How many were mailed, how many responded, how many closed? What were the criteria of your mailing list and what was your mailing list source? Do you have proof of mailing from your printer or letter shop (generally this is a USPS form 3602 – or ‘Proof of Mailing’ stamped by USPS). Did you have a strong offer? What were other incentives for recipients to respond? Was this the first mailing to this specific list? Just because a mailing didn’t work, doesn’t mean mail can’t work but there are many steps to implement to ensure ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Yes and no. It depends on your overall objective. If you wish to build your brand and become a well-known and respected name in your area or your industry, you will want to put some standards into place – such as a graphics standards manual. If you provide each manager with your graphic/brand standards as well as approved ads for different advertising channels, you will be able to better control your brand, and be perceived as professional. Your managers can use pre-approved materials at their discretion, or follow the graphic standards manual to create their own ads.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The cost of producing a brochure is largely based on quantity produced (the more you print, the less the unit price) as well as the size and specifications of the brochure. A professional graphic designer experienced in creating ‘print ready’ art can cost between $35 and $150 an hour. The more information you provide at the outset of the project, the fewer hours you will incur. A full color brochure will be more expensive than a 2 color brochure. An elaborate large multi-page coil bound brochure will be more expensive than an 8.5x11 trifold brochure. Prices can range from .25 ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
No. Think of print shops like auto repair shops. You wouldn’t take your 1982 Malibu Classic to the Mercedes dealership for repairs. Print shops have very specific types of equipment. Two color presses, four color presses, eight color presses. Printing presses vary in size and speed. There are digital presses and offset presses. Unless you have a good understanding of printing press capabilities, the best way to find an appropriate shop is by requesting a competitive quote by detailing all the specifications of your job. (A professional print quote form can be provided upon request.)
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Cost is driven by volume, design, how specific your mailing list is, as well as postage. A multipage brochure in a large envelope could $5-10 dollars each on a small mailing. A simple letter in an envelope to your house database – if you’re mailing a larger quantity could cost .50 each.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This depends on several factors.  For instance - your reason for mailing, your target market and the size town you’re mailing into.  If you’re promoting an event in a small town – one time may be sufficient.  If you’re a new business and building a brand, multiple times will reap the most benefits.  As a general rule, a person does not respond without being presented an opportunity at least 3 times.  This does however depend on the offer and the sense of urgency conveyed.  If you are a timeshare offering a free cruise and there is a response deadline, you ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Direct marketing/advertising is specifically designed to be trackable, There is a specific call to action – to bring something in or to connect in some way, mentioning the specific offer advertised.   Trained staff is key to tracking – and key to ensuring your advertising is working. Any time a prospect contacts your company, appropriate questions must be asked to understand how the caller learned of your company or the offer. Careful tracking, then tabulation of all leads from all sources can be assigned to the dollars spent from the different ad sources.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This will vary depending on a number of factors.  However if you are mailing to a prospect list (versus your house list) 1% is considered ‘good’.  However, response rates may be considerably lower the first and second time you mail.  Generally the third mailing to the same list with an excellent offer will produce the best response rate.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
This varies according to industry.  Industry associations may provide marketing expenditures as a percentage of revenue. Public companies in your industry may give a figure for their marketing spending in their financial statements (found in their annual reports). With a simple calculation, you can determine what percentage of their overall revenue that represents. A significant difference is businesses that are volume driven versus margin driven.  For instance, WalMart is volume driven thus spend .04% on advertising.  A more upscale store that is less volume driven like Macys may spend 5%.  Service oriented businesses generally start at 5%, although 15% for ...
Sunday, November 16, 2014
If depends on what you need to achieve?  If you are incorporating ecommerce, database management, many pages, video – then perhaps.  If you’re doing a simple 4 or 5 page website you could spend considerably less.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Your logo colors are important for a variety of reasons.  When choosing your colors, you should consider your target customer, your industry, your competition and trends.  Understand the psychology behind colors and how different colors are perceived differently.  Choose colors that will achieve your objective.  Do you want your prospect to feel assured, or motivated? Do you want them to have a sense of urgency or a sense of playfulness? Study non-competing companies you admire and respect, and that achieve the same objective you wish to achieve.  Be careful of trends.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Postcards do work for some types of business. It all depends on what you are selling, and your target audience. Postcards work well if you’re a retailer, if you’re promoting an event, offering dry cleaning, real estate, or an oil change – to name a few.  However, if you’re selling a product or service that is of a financial, medical or consulting type nature; an envelope is the best choice.  Envelopes are usually perceived as ‘important’ or ‘personal’ mail.  Recipients sort their mail and treat it accordingly. If the postcard costs less but doesn’t generate a response, then it wasn’t ...
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
By Marc Wayshak (NASE Guest Blog post) An interview with HubSpot’s founder, Brian Halligan as he shows us how to market in the digital age.  As the first inside salesperson for PTC, a Needham, Mass.-based software company, Brian Halligan got his start cold calling until his “fingers bled,” he quipped during a recent interview with me. Later, when a venture capitalist enlisted him to bring the PTC playbook to a host of portfolio companies, he realized that old industry standbys needed a drastic overhaul if marketers hoped to cut it in an increasingly social-centered world. So in 2006, he and Dharmesh ...
Monday, September 29, 2014
By Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC (NASE Guest Blog Post) breathingspace.com You do your best as a self-employed professional, but some days you are simply swamped by too much competing for your attention. When a flood of items compete for your attention, each item can loom larger in importance than it actually is. Here is a classification system to help you maintain perspective: Classifying Communication Bits: The lowest level of input, bits are single packets of information indicating yes or no, on or off.  In combination, bits add up to data.  Data: The raw numbers in chart form, equations, lists, and ...
Monday, August 18, 2014
My best guess is that you may not even believe me in this week’s blog post, but here it is.  I was on a plane from Los Angeles to Dallas today after a very long week.  I was actually answering an NASE TaxTalk question about S Corporations right on line with the help of American Airlines’ in-flight internet connection.  (Love technology, btw) The lady sitting next to me was a graphics designer and owner of her own small business and noticed the NASE logo on the screen of my laptop.  We talked about her business and about taxes and about ...
Monday, August 11, 2014
I love small business owners.  I know this sounds kind of sappy, and as the President of the National Association for the Self Employed I probably notice this kind of thing more than most, but it really makes me proud when I see that entrepreneurial spirit.  I was out this past weekend and saw a local high school band having a car wash.  I pulled in and let them do their best.  But that wasn’t the sappy part.  There were three kids, maybe 8 years old, who had set up lemonade and iced tea stand.  Right there in the heat! ...
Monday, August 04, 2014
Posted by Keith Hall It’s August, which I guess means that we are in the dog days of summer; lots of hot weather but also lots of swimming pools and cold glasses of lemonade.  The good news for me is that despite the season there are still lots of questions from NASE members that we get to answer every day.  One NASE member posted a question regarding income earned during a speaking engagement overseas, actually in London, England.  Her question made me realize all over again just how pervasive the influence of small business continues to be.  Way to go ...
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- By now, we've all heard about the challenges and the ups-and-downs of the new health care law. From cancelled plans to delayed programs and technical glitches in online applications, the Affordable Care Act has had its share of problems. However, in the end, the Affordable Care Act -- or ACA -- has turned out to help millions of Americans young and old. Far from perfect, the Department of Health and Human Services declared success with over eight million people enrolled, and over 30 percent being young Americans aged 18-34. The reality of the new law is that if ...
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- It could be your local cupcake shop, neighborhood deli or even your friendly accountant -- all local entrepreneurs fueling not only their local economies, but our national economy as well. One of the things they all have in common is that they are part of a growing movement in America called the small business community. With every dollar you invest in a local, small business, the true entrepreneurial spirit of America continues to thrive. According to the Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about ...
Friday, April 18, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- The Small Business Administration (SBA) is our nation's direct link between the administration and America's small business community. The agency provides benefits such as advocacy and support, loans and access to capital and entrepreneurial development to ensure the small business community continues to move our economy forward. Our nation's smallest businesses -- the self-employed and micro-businesses -- represent the heart and soul of America's middle class. We are your neighborhood accountants, dentists, popcorn trucks and bookstores. We also embody the true entrepreneurial spirit of America where starting and operating your own business offers a sense of pride and accomplishment. Yet, ...
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-- Nearly one year after Karen Mills announced her resignation as head of the Small Business Administration, President Obama announced the nomination of Maria Contreras-Sweet to lead the organization pending Senate confirmation. Maria Contreras-Sweet, herself previously a small business owner, comes to the position with significant private and public sector experience that will no doubt be significantly important to her as she works to quickly move on key areas of concerns for the small business community, including the continued implementation and impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses, access to capital, and continued regulatory burdens ...
Friday, January 10, 2014
Another holiday season has come and gone and hopefully all of your best wishes came true.  Most of us are now focused on the New Year with high expectations and new commitments for success.  And in many cases that includes those high minded New Year’s resolutions that probably include losing a few pounds or maybe just striving to get in shape.  Committing to better health is a great way to start the year whether that includes a better diet, a daily walk or short jog, or maybe even just one less dessert each week.  The key is to just pick ...
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Posted by Katie Vlietstra Individuals and families will see a little less in their paychecks starting January 1, 2014- wage earners and self-employed individuals who make more than $200,000 (individual) and $250,000 (couple) will be assessed an additional .9% Medicare surtax on top of the existing 1.45% Medicare payroll tax as well as a 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income (investment dividends, rental income, interest and capital gains on property). Individual and families falling below the $200,000 will experience new restrictions on medical expense deductions and flexible spending accounts, including penalties for spending money on non-qualified medical expenses (simple human ...
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Guest Blog by Ben Seidel As you may have noticed, Facebook rolled out their star rating system onto business pages last month. In reality, the star rating system has been in place on Facebook's mobile app for places for quite some time. However, November is when they officially rolled it out for business pages on the standard browser version of Facebook. The Good and Bad The placement of the star ratings on the Facebook page could not be more visible. If you have ratings, the page will aggregate this data into the 5 star rating graphic and display it directly ...
Monday, November 04, 2013
Earlier this week, the NASE submitted a statement for the record to the House Ways and Means Committee in response to the committee’s hearing on the status of the ACA enrollment.  In the NASE statement, we expressed our concerns that leading up to the October 1st launch, the administration was not providing sufficient details and answers regarding the Exchange Marketplace.  With the lackluster launch, we are now asking congress to eliminate the open enrollment deadlines for the 2014 calendar year and to delay the individual mandate penalty for one tax-filing year. By pushing back the deadline, congress would give you, the ...
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
As many of you already know, starting at the beginning of the month, the Government shut down for 16 days.  Standard & Poor estimates that the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion during that span.  While many government employees were directly affected, they were not the only ones.  Many small businesses felt the effects of the shutdown in every corner of the country. Of the many government contractors, many are self-employed and felt the full force of the shutdown as there contracts (paychecks) were frozen.  Additionally, those self-employed small businesses that were in the process of getting an SBA ...
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Last week, we released an infographic to increase awareness about the upcoming changes to Health Care and how it relates to the twenty three million self-employed in this country.  Next week, on October 1st, national and state health care Exchanges will begin open enrollment.  Currently, the federal government has provided limited details and incomplete information which makes it difficult to plan and make decisions regarding your health care in the future. We provided this press release to spread the information that we have compiled and to help get you the tools you need to make decisions.  Be sure you check ...
Monday, September 23, 2013
Earlier this year, we here at the NASE announced a partnership with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) and Fundable to launch a crowdfunding contest.  The contest was a great success for many small businesses and the winner that emerged was The Cookie Bar from Las Vegas, Nevada. To win the contest, participants had to be the first one to reach their goal.  The Cookie Bar set a goal to raise $10,000 and at the time of writing this, they have raised over $11,000. Not only will they receive the money they raised but for winning the contest, the ...
Monday, July 15, 2013
(Posted By: Javan Porter) The SBA’s Office of Advocacy annually publishes a report that tracks lending to small businesses. The report shows how small businesses are financed, or in the worst case, denied the financing they need. This could be the banking industry’s worst nightmare. Small businesses are too important to the economy to be heckled by lenders. This analysis provides the critical answers on how much they are heckled and why. The 2012 report revealed that small business loans are declining as business loans in general are increasing. This is a testament of the current lending environment and a ...
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Joe Pielago of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. received the NASE Future Entrepreneur award in 2009. After four years at the University of San Francisco, he recently graduated with a BS in Business Administration. Read on to join us in catching up with Joe. NASE: Four years goes by quickly! Tell us about your college experience. Joe: My time at USF has been spent in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, and in the best city ever. As a student I held multiple jobs including coaching a club swim team, bartending, lifeguarding, as well as marketing internships, brand building, and of course ...
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Posted by Javan Porter  The Obama administration took some muscle out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by pushing the Employer Mandate implementation to 2015. The administration has started marketing efforts, but this mandate must be a hard sell. The policy calls for any business that employs over 50 full time workers (30 hours per week) to provide insurance for their employees. The conundrum that is the ACA implementation has caused companies and the general public to panic. This panic has caused the Obama administration to believe that it will further suppress the growth of a sluggish economy. Valerie Jarrett, ...
Monday, July 08, 2013
The NASE has created to two page brief that highlights the Affordable Care Act and its impact on America's smallest Businesses.  It is a great tool that breaks down the complicated legislation and makes it easier to understand. Click here for the Affordable Care Act in Brief PDF file
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Last week, the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), an advocacy and research organization for entrepreneurs, partnered with Fundable, a crowdfunding platform partner focused exclusively on startup companies, to launch a contest helping startups and existing business fundraise to start or grow their company.   Crowdfunding a new, proven (and sound) fundraising phenomenon that is coming on strong: it’s a collective effort of individuals and entities that pool their money through a variety of ways, usually through the Internet, to support a ...
Friday, June 14, 2013
Posted by Ben Seidel - Imagine that you're using your computer to finalize a document or send out an agenda with critical last minute details, and the power goes out due to a storm (especially if you live in the Midwest, like me). Your computer instantly shuts down, and you are left wondering, "So, when was the last time I hit that save button?" What many do not realize is that you are not only facing lost files, but your computer can also be harmed. Irregular power surges, voltage drops (brown outs), and outages can all cause irrevocable damage the ...
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Posted by Javan Porter - If President Obama is the coach of the team for creating new jobs, his quarterback is small business. The coach may lay out the game plan but small businesses play the game. Small businesses have created two-thirds of new jobs in America. The President as the coach understands the importance of such a strong quarterback and has issued a proclamation announcing this year’s National Small Business Week for June 17th to 21st. Get more information about National Small Business Week here. National Small Business Week consists of conferences throughout the country highlighting the achievement and ...
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Posted by Javan Porter - As a micro-business owner, you must make difficult decisions that carry ramifications that reach far beyond your office walls. Although the high health insurance costs that your employees face may worry you, an opportunity for you as the business owner to offer assistance is through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). An HRA allows an avenue for an employer to contribute towards an employee’s health insurance costs. The employer can simply add the contribution amount they decide on directly to the employee’s paycheck. HRA plans have no participation requirements, so businesses of any size can create ...
Monday, May 13, 2013
Posted by Molly Nelson - Wondering how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may impact your business, or how to achieve health business growth? Two webinars happening this week might have the answers you need. "Small Businesses Beware: Why You Can't Afford to Ignore the Affordable Care Act" Hosted by ADP and HR.com Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 11 a.m. to noon ET Register for the webinar on the Affordable Care Act.  "Death by Growth: Are You at Risk?" Small Biz Club Success Saturday webinar Saturday, May 18, 2013, 11 a.m. ET Register for the webinar on business growth. 
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Small Business Administration recently announced that they are amending regulations to allow greater access to federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.  This signals the commitment by the SBA to continue to advocate and support woman business owners.  Previously, Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses had a limit to the contracts they could receive.  With the rule change, the contracts can be at any dollar amount.  This will not only help federal agencies reach their goal of five percent of contracts going towards WOSB but more importantly, get the funding in the hands of these entrepreneurs.  ...
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Posted by Katie Vlietstra-  On April 30th, the Department of Health and Human Services released the new, simplified exchange health care application for both individuals and families.  The simplified application process will allow for the individual or head of household applying for health insurance to verify possibly eligibility in other federally administered health care programs, including the Health Insurance Marketplace (exchanges), Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and access to tax credits to pay for premiums.  Applications to secure health insurance in the marketplace will be accepted starting on October 1, 2013, but we recommend spending some time and ...
Thursday, April 25, 2013
A buzz has been created recently as reports that the U.S. Treasury’s funding of the Small Business Lending Fund grew by over $1.5 billion between the third and fourth quarter last year.  This is exciting as getting funding to local banks and community development loan funds and in the hands of America’s smallest business is a great way to stabilize and grow the U.S. economy. Getting money to the self-employed will lead to more jobs and stronger communities. Our very own President & CEO Kristie Arslan also weighed in saying “Seeing the growth in small-business lending is a promising signal ...
Monday, April 15, 2013
Posted by Keith Hall (NASE Tax Expert) - Well, it's here. April 15th and the tax return is due today. My guess is that a bunch of us have not completed all of the detail that we had hoped to and now we're not sure what to do. First, don't panic! If you need more time to complete your tax return, the IRS will automatically grant you an additional six months to file the return by simply asking them. If you need more time, simply complete IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income ...