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6 Contests Offering Small Businesses Cash and Other Goodies

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As the tight lending market persists in hindering small business growth, some well-known companies are on a mission to inspire entrepreneurs and small businesses across the country to greatness. (We presume you-re already well acquainted with Intuit-s own Love a Local Business, right?)

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7 Must Have iPad Apps for Small Business Marketing

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Little more than one year old, Apple-s groundbreaking iPad has changed the face of mobile marketing forever, particularly among entrepreneurs and small business owners who find increasingly efficient and affordable marketing opportunities made possible by the now ubiquitous tablet computer.

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How to Turn Your Facebook Network into a Summer Job

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Summer’s almost here — and if you’re in high school or college, it’s probably time to start sending out applications for a summer job. But instead of trudging from door to door to find out who’s hiring, why not do the whole process without leaving your computer? Here’s how to get a job using a site every teen sinks countless hours into: Facebook.

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Does the IRS Think Your Small Business Is a Hobby?

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If you-re like most small business owners, you started your company as a sideline and watched it grow. You may have another business or work for an employer while you build up your fledgling venture. And although you may not spend all your time on your small business, you plan for healthy bottom lines down the road. In the meantime, you can use your operating losses against your other sources of income and reap some tax benefits.

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Your Business Needs to Start Paying Closer Attention to LinkedIn

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In the growing social media family, LinkedIn is kind of like the bookish older sibling — it stays in to do homework while Facebook and Twitter are out having all the fun. The site-s professional nature makes it easy to forget that LinkedIn is, in fact, a social site. That-s largely by design: LinkedIn is strictly business. That means no baby pictures or status updates about your neighbor-s barking dog. The site is for professional networking, first and foremost; the personal stuff can (or should be) checked at the door.

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5 Hiring Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

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Are you ready to bring on a new employee? Be careful: Making mistakes in the hiring process can cost you big time. If your new staff member doesn’t work out for one reason or another, it can cost nearly half of that employee’s annual salary to replace him, according to an analysis by IMG. Here are some common hiring boo-boos to watch out for.

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Why You Should Consider Hiring Ex-Convicts

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When you’re looking for a new employee, a criminal record is usually a huge red flag. But does it really have to be? People who’ve been to prison have paid for their crime, and are usually grateful and willing to work hard for a second chance. Hiring an ex-con can be a risk, but here are some reasons to think about taking that risk.

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Gary Vaynerchuk on The Thank You Economy

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In the last five years, Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family wine retail business from $4 million to $60 million. Now, in addition to running Wine Library, starring in Wine Library TV, and authoring the New York Times-bestseller Crush It! Why Now Is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion, Vaynerchuk is consulting with large and small companies, showing them how to brand themselves effectively in the digital age.

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How a Portland Pizza Joint Mixes Culture with Cuisine

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Portland, Oregon has plenty of options for pizza. Many of them, like Lonesome’s Pizza, use gourmet ingredients like shiitake mushrooms or fresh basil. Lonesome’s Pizza doesn’t even have a seating area (it’s delivery-only), yet this scrappy newcomer managed to move into the black after its second month of business.

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How to Secure Your Computers on a Shoestring Budget

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Online security news, recently headlined by the Epsilon breach, is fairly ominous these days. Malware, phishing, botnets, zero-day bugs — you don-t need to know what they mean to understand none sound good for your business. So what-s a home or small office, especially one with limited budget or technical expertise, to do?

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Should Your Small Business Have a Social Media Policy?

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Coca Cola and FedEx have one, as does Intel, Reuters, and Tufts College. Even the Cleveland Clinic, American Red Cross, and Easter Seals realize the importance of having one. We-re talking about a social media policy, also referred to as an internet posting policy, blogging policy, code of online participation, and a slew of other names. And according to Bottom Line Law Group attorney Antone F. Johnson, you should have one too.

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Drop And Give Me 20&- Small Business Lessons

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On most mornings when you enter Gymtowne Gymnastics in Moss Beach, California, you hear the cacophony of a successful gym: excited children’s voices, encouragements from the coaches, and of course thumping feet running across the floor. It is presided over by Bill Strom, the owner of Gymtowne, who took over an existing gym a little over 18 years ago and made it into a flourishing part of the Half Moon Bay community.

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A Mother-Daughter Duo’s Recipe for Small Business Success

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Running a salsa business with her mother showed Cindy Pickering the challenges of starting a food business, including getting permits and paying for kitchen space. That’s why Pickering and her daughter Jennifer Palmer opened a new business - Your Pro Kitchen - in 2008. Inside this 3,500 square foot space, Florida’s aspiring foodpreneurs get access to a commercially licensed kitchen, help with the permitting process, and much more.

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What to Give This Administrative Professionals Day

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Hallmark and 1-800-Flowers begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-Flowers end_of_the_skype_highlighting consider it a holiday, and if you-re a small business manager you should too. We-re talking about Administrative Professionals Day, commonly known as Secretary-s Day (the International Association of Administration Professionals (IAAP) formally changed it in 2000). Forgetting to recognize this day is almost as bad as forgetting your spouse-s birthday, your wedding anniversary, or refilling Fido-s food dish. In other words, it-s a big deal!

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To Megan Hargroder, Social Media Is All About Conversations

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The recession hit many young college graduates especially hard as they were left wondering how and why their anticipated careers and dreams could have vanished so prematurely. Yet, there are also shining examples of how today-s graduates are adapting to this new digitally-driven landscape and laying out the foundation for the future of business.

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How to Choose a Franchise to Purchase

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If you want to run your own business but don’t want to go to the trouble of launching an idea from the ground up - or just don-t have an idea - purchasing a franchise may seem like a good opportunity. But how do you know whether a franchise purchase is a wise investment? Here are a few indicators.

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Jeff Clark Keeps Focus on Waves, Customers

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Jeff Clark is a legend in surfing circles as the discoverer of Mavericks, a spot off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California, with some truly large and powerful waves. He describes it as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world,” and the top surfers who travel the world to ride those waves would agree. When I had a chance to talk with Jeff at his Mavericks Surf Shop, I learned that his approach to conquering large waves also informs his approach to serving business.

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In the Trenches: Pricing Feedback Rolls in

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Last week, I wrote about the first public step in our plan to change our pricing structure via newsletter and more direct customer outreach. The plan has paid dividends as we-ve received excellent feedback so far, the two main points of which have been:

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The Intuit Small Business Blog Goes Mobile

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Even though we still feel like the new kids on the block, every couple of months we make an improvement to the Intuit Small Business Blog, from adding link suggestions to related articles to creating a small business dictionary.

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Mindflash CEO Donna Wells on the Future of Employee Training

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Ten years ago, -employee training- often meant a conference room filled with bored employees watching a PowerPoint presentation or participating in lame “trust-building” exercises. Not anymore. Companies like Mindflash are redefining training with interactive and user-friendly tools that allow large and small businesses to customize their online training programs. Donna Wells, CEO of Mindflash and an Intuit and Mint. com alumnus, shared her insights about this growing market.

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10 iPad Apps for Small Business Finance

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Apple-s latest member to the -i- family, the iPad, is not just another fancy electronic device. It-s turning into a lean, mean piece of hardware capable of turning small businesses into efficient mobile operations. Get control over your finances with these top small business finance apps for iPad.

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10 Top iPhone and iPad Apps to Help Your Business Go Green

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Want your business to go green? (It-s Earth Day, after all.) There-s an app for that! There are a number of iPhone and iPad apps that can help make your small business more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Whether it-s finding 100 percent recycled toilet paper or locating a green manufacturing partner, here are 10 green applications that you can download to reduce your company-s carbon footprint - and in some cases your business-s expense account.

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Week in Small Business - 04.16.11

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Obama Signs 1099 Repeal

If you-re scrambling to make Monday-s tax deadline, this news won-t do you much good. It will, however, lighten your paperwork load in 2011 — or at least keep it from gaining serious weight. President Obama on Thursday signed into law the long-simmering bill that will remove the 1099 rule from last year-s healthcare reform. The rule would have required your business to issue 1099 forms for just about all spending in excess of $600 annually. In a blog post, SBA Administrator Karen Mills called the repeal -a big win for small businesses.-

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Why Blogs Matter for Women

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Some 55 million women read blogs monthly and blog use continues to grow, almost at the same pace as social networking, a new report from BlogHer says.

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Maintaining a Work-Life Balance: 5 Tips from Entrepreneurs

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When you run a business, there’s no such thing as a day off. There are always clients and vendors to deal with, employees to manage, and all kinds of miscellaneous fires to put out. So how can you keep your business from consuming your entire life? Be clear about forming boundaries. Check out these tips from small business owners on how best to create a proper balance between work and life.

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5 Tips for Tracking Your Business Expenses

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Did you lose a week of otherwise billable time sorting through all of your credit card charges and paper receipts to work out how many of your purchases were business expenses? If so, it’s time to step up your organizational efforts and implement a system for tracking your business expenses in real time. Here are a few ideas for building a better system.

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How to Choose a Small Business Accountant

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If you’ve just spent weeks puzzling over all of the IRS forms and guidelines and still feel like you barely know the difference between a 1040 and a 1099, it may be time to admit defeat and hire an accountant to handle all your paperwork for next tax season. But how can you choose a qualified, reliable, and affordable accounting professional to handle all of your business’ confidential financial data? Here are a few ways to go about it.