New Employment Eligibility Form Should Reduce Errors, Provide Clarity

Posted on March 27th, 2013

Earlier this month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new employment eligibility verification form (Form I-9), now available for immediate use by employers. Employers who need to make necessary updates to prepare for the new Form I-9 may continue to use other previously accepted revisions (Rev.02/02/09)N and (Rev. 08/07/09)Y until May 7, 2013. After this date, all employers must use the revised Form I-9 for each new employee hired in the United States.

The revised Form I-9 has several new features, including new fields and a new format to reduce errors. The instructions also more clearly describe the information employees and employers must provide in each section.

English and Spanish versions of the new form are available online athttp://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

For more information, please call (888) 464-4218 or visit I-9 Central online.

To order forms, call USCIS toll-free at (800) 870-3673. For downloadable forms and information on immigration laws as well as USCIS programs, regulations and procedures, please visit www.uscis.gov.



Read the original article here: New Employment Eligibility Form Should Reduce Errors, Provide Clarity.

2013 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) – Memorandum from Sen. Vitter

Posted on March 20th, 2013

To: Interested parties

Fr:  Sen. Vitter Office

Re: 2013 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

Da: Thursday, March 18, 2013

To help better inform you on what the 2013 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will include, we’ve compiled several summaries of provisions of the legislation that may be of interest. The summaries included information about some specific provisions that will benefit Louisiana, such as 1.) direct benefits to Louisiana; 2.)  Morganza to the Gulf; 3.) Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund;  4.) Reforms to the Corps of Engineers; and 4)  Project delivery. None of these provisions are earmarks as defined by Senate rules, but rather changes in Corps policy that will have significant positive impact for Louisiana. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Sen. Vitter’s office


15 Great Tools and Apps to Grow Your Business

Posted on March 20th, 2013

Daniel Kehrer shares 15 of the latest tools and apps you need to grow your business!

By Daniel Kehrer
Founder, BizBest.com

One of the great things happening in the digital world these days is the steady parade of helpful applications (apps), web-based tools and online services for small business. Here’s our shortlist of some of the newest, most interesting or under-the-radar tools, services and apps you should know about:

Appbistro (www.appbistro.com) is an app for finding apps. It’s an easy-to-use marketplace (just search or browse) of Facebook business applications – some free; some fee – that can help you create a more engaging Facebook page for your local business.

The ASBDC Loan Center is a new service that aims to connect small business owners with willing lenders. It’s a partnership between the Association of Small Business Development Centers and BoeFly. Visit: www.boefly.com.

JitterJam (www.jitterjam.com) is a web-based social marketing app that combines social media, email and mobile engagement with a contact database and tools to turn social interaction into new revenue opportunities. It helps your business realize measurable return on your social engagement by providing you with a social marketing and customer development system.

Sign Up is a simple (yet flexible) app from North Social (www.northsocial.com) that lets you create contact forms and online surveys directly on your Facebook page so you can easily collect helpful marketing data. You can customize the appearance of the app by uploading a header image and choose whether people must “like” the page in order to view it.

Work for Us (www.work4labs.com) lets you post job openings and even take applications right from your Facebook Page, for free. If your business isn’t yet posting jobs online, this is a great way to get into the game. It also lets you leverage the power of social networking to create awareness of your job openings.

Vimeo PRO (www.vimeo.com/pro) is a new service that makes it easy and affordable for small businesses to host their own high quality videos. This can help restaurants better showcase their food and atmosphere. Real estate agents will find it helpful to show higher quality home previews.

BetterWorks (www.betterworks.com) is a new kind of web-based employee perks program and management system that helps small businesses provide a range of benefits and product or service discounts to employees.

Nefsis (www.nefsis.com) offers business-grade video conferencing, including Nefsis Basic, a free, cloud-based video service for small business.

Buckaroo (www.buckaroo.com) has a new web-based tool that lets small businesses run custom email and social media promotions. Merchants can upload an email list and company logo, and send sharable promotions to customers.

Schedulicity (www.schedulicity.com) has a new app called Deal Manager that helps appointment-dependant businesses control the flow of discounted services generated from a daily deal promotion.

Batchbook (www.batchbook.com) is a handy contact management app lets you easily keep track of your business, personal, and social networking contacts and share them with others. Create a flexible contact database from scratch, or import contacts from another system.

Picnik (www.picnik.com) is a terrific – and free – online tool for any small business that needs to edit, crop, resize and share photos and other images, but can’t afford the time and money buy and learn Photoshop software. Offers an easy to use yet powerful editing tool. Get creative with choices of effects, fonts, shapes and frames.

Dlvr.it (www.dlvr.it) is a nifty social syndication tool that can help you manage and distribute content to your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and other social networking locations.

Updater (www.updater.com) is a helpful online tool to manage your offline mail. This tool arms you with the ability to control who can access and use your postal mailing address, and gives you a way to stop unwanted paper mail. Also simplifies change of address.

Carbonite (www.carbonite.com), a leader in online backup solutions, launched a Carbonite Business solution specially made to get small business into online backup, with anywhere-anytime access to stored files.
Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Daniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. Read more of Daniel’s tips at www.BizBest.com, follow him at www.twitter.com/140Main and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danielkehrer.


5 Steps to Turn Leads Into Sales

Posted on March 15th, 2013

By Rieva Lesonsky

Sometimes the sales process seems like an endless rollercoaster. You find a good lead, get your hopes up, wait for a response, only to be rejected. It doesn’t always end that way, but it’s hard to stay positive when you never know how many leads will turn into real sales. Here are 5 steps to help you increase the percentage of leads you close and give your business a boost:

Calculate. First, do you know your sales leads-to-close ratio? Take a specific period of time, say six months. Calculate the number of leads and closed sales during that six months. Then divide the number of leads by the number of closed sales. Turn that number into a percentage out of 100 to estimate just how many leads you need to close a sale. Once you know your ratio, you can have a realistic view of how many leads it will take to make the sales you desire.

Act. Acting quickly on leads is key to turning them into sales. Develop a system for following up on all leads within a set time. If you have a support staff, have sales assistants help by making initial follow-ups to gather information so salespeople can respond in more depth.

Organize. Use technology to your advantage. Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Salesforce.com. CRM makes sure you don’t drop the ball on leads by keeping track of every step in the sales process. You can also set up automated responses such as replies to email inquiries that let prospects know you got the message and when you’ll follow up.

Delegate. Create accountability by making sure your sales team knows who is responsible for following up on what types of leads, such as online inquiries, emails or phone calls. Track their follow-up and see where roadblocks occur.

Monitor. Figure out what sources give you the most leads, and then which give you the most leads that convert to sales. Try to pinpoint why that is and put more of your money and effort into the sources that get the best results. Your CRM system can help with this task.


About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at twitter.com/rieva and visit her blog at SmallBizDaily.com.

Visit her website SmallBizTrendCast to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Click Here to read more: 5 Steps to Turn Leads Into Sale | Score.org

5 Cheap Marketing Ideas You May Not Have Considered | NFIB

Posted on March 13th, 2013

Get outside, don’t be afraid to rebrand, and more.

Looking for ways to boost your business that won’t cost you a fortune? Four small business owners share some of their best proven tips.

1. Get creative with re-branding.

Atlanta-based public relations executive Tony Wilbert left a large national firm to found his own a little more than three years ago. Now he’s gone from employing just himself to nine people. Originally, he named his business Wilbert News Strategies. Over time, he found that the name confused people; some thought he was in the news business when in fact he was in the public relations business.

Over the summer, he elected to re-brand the company “The Wilbert Group.” But instead of spending $25,000 on a campaign, he spent $2,000 to host a breakfast. “We decided to have an event with friends, clients, prospects, people from the state, city (governments), and media,” Wilbert says. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, and Patch all attended the 7:30 a.m. breakfast event. “It was pretty effective. We got news coverage out of it.

“We showed, ‘Hey, we’re a PR firm and we have relationships with the media. They’ll give up time and come out at 7:30 a.m.’ We had other PR firms saying ‘Wow, brilliant move.’ Our clients liked it because they’re all fascinated by the media, they don’t understand it. They were able to ask (the media) questions. They usually don’t get to ask questions.”

RELATED: Pitching Your Business to the Media Outside the Traditional Press Release

2. Use trade and other associations.

Nidal Ibrahim once ran his own magazine based in Huntington Beach, California, called “The Arab American Business Magazine.” He went to the National United States-Arab Chamber of Commerce for a membership list, which essentially became his subscriber base of 10,000 across the country

“I think these days especially, if you’re a small business, there are chambers that are proliferating in all kinds of directions—geographically as well as from a segmentation perspective,” Ibrahim says. “In other words, if you’re working in Mobile, Alabama, you might want to get in involved with the local Mobile chamber. If it’s a smaller town, then the smaller town’s (chamber). I see where organizations and chambers are organizing around, for example, technology or health care. So whatever type of business you’re in, whatever type of niche you’re focused on, there’s probably someone out there who can direct you or put you in touch with the kinds of people you need to be reaching.” Here’s how to get in touch with NFIB in your state.

RELATED: Which Business Groups Should You Join?

3. Get involved in your community.

Dana Vannasse owned a travel agency in the exclusive Boston neighborhood of Beacon Hill from 1968 until he closed up 10 years ago, but he still works from home with the clientele he built up in his retirement. He was involved with the Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club but he went the extra mile beyond those organizations.

“I would tell anyone, ‘It’s like an undertaker: You got to know the territory’ and you have to go to the local restaurant and chat with those people and you have to belong to Rotary and go to church and do all those things,” Vannasse says.

The neighborhood included an Episcopal church, which housed a bishop, and two Catholic churches, among other denominations, he says.

“We had them as clients,” says Vannasse, whose clients also included Julia Child. “It was really kind of funny. I remember one bishop told me, ‘Dana, you do more for me than I could do myself.’ Because the diplomacy it took to run that kind of business and know a lot of the goings-on, it was interesting.”

4. Get out the door.

Jason Freier is the chairman and CEO of Hardball Capital, which owns two minor league baseball teams. He says to take your most recognizable asset – whether it’s a logo, mascot, special personality or offer – and hit the streets.

“Bring your message to the people rather than waiting for them to come to you,” he says. “We do a mall store through the holidays. We participate in parades and show up at public events. Anywhere a large number of people are, we go there. It’s cheap publicity (costs are less than running advertising) and more impactful (we get to touch potential customers personally).”

5. Enhance what you’re doing already.

“If you’re already spending money on TV, radio, print, and online,” Freier says, “make sure you are capitalizing the methods that let your potential customers reach out to you. Include a QR code for a quick scan, your website address, a coupon. Give people something to do or interact with.”


Read more here: 5 Cheap Marketing Ideas You May Not Have Considered | NFIB.

Re-posted from NFIB: National Federation of Independent Business



Posted on March 8th, 2013

Senate Committee on Small Business - Landrieu Header 

March 7, 2013
Contact:   Robert Sawicki, (202) 224-3655

After success in Acadiana, Landrieu and Google bring “Get Your Business Online” to Baton Rouge

WASHINGTON – Senator Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced that Google will bring its “Get Your Business Online” (GYBO) workshop back to Louisiana. The event will be held on Monday, March 25, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Turner Gallery in the Shaw Center for the Arts, 100 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge, La., 70801. Those wishing to attend are encouraged to register at www.LouisianaGetOnline.com or call 1-800-986-6958.

Google’s GYBO initiative gives small businesses free online tools to create their own website and provides training to entrepreneurs about the process. Participants also receive a unique domain name without a charge for one year. Last August, Senator Landrieu partnered with Google to host a GYBO event in Acadiana, which drew the participation of 150 local businesses. One of these business owners was Lauri Wallace, who developed an online presence for her Shreveport-based jewelry design company Just Ask Creations, after attending the GYBO event. In addition to the GYBO events, countless businesses have benefitted from the GYBO Louisiana website.

Creating a small business website is critical for small businesses when 97 percent of people go online to find a local product or service. In Louisiana, approximately 64 percent of small businesses in the state do not have their own website.

“In the past, the success of a Louisiana business could often be determined by its proximity to major roads such as I-10 or I-20,” said Senator Landrieu. “The Internet has now changed these traditional business models that small businesses once relied on. Now it is no longer a luxury to have an online presence, it is a necessity. This event will help entrepreneurs both in the Capital Region and around the state jumpstart their businesses by getting online.

“Google’s ‘Get Your Business Online’ initiative is helping these small business owners create an online presence and compete in an ever growing global market. That is why I am excited to partner with them to bring this event to Baton Rouge, and I look forward to continuing to help bring these educational tools and resources to the more than 380,000 small businesses in Louisiana.”

To date, Google has held GYBO events in all 50 States and Washington, DC; in doing so, they have helped more than 100,000 businesses shape an online existence with 200 plus seminars.


East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
1808 Front St, Slidell, LA 70458 | (985) 643-5678

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