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Could a Controversial Name Help Your Business Succeed?

Fat Ho. That’s the name of a new burger joint in Waco, Texas.

Lakita Evans, the 24-year-old African-American owner of Fat Ho Burgers, is just trying to be funny.  Her restaurant serves up dishes such as the Supa Dupa Fly Ho with Chz, the Bad Mamajama, the Toasty Ho, and the Sloppy Ho Brisket. Fat Ho Burgers opened on March 22 and has become a smash hit, even though it’s named after an obese, loose woman.

The web site reads: “We take pride in our exceptional southern homemade cooking, especially our hot...juicy...fat homemade burgers that are all the rage! Since its grand opening, people have traveled from all over to enjoy our delicious homemade menu items such as the Supa Dupa Fly Ho burger, Sloppy Ho brisket sandwich, and much more! Come see us soon for Waco's best hamburgers and homemade cooking!”

But not everybody is hip on the Fat Ho name. Indeed, the nearby Gospel Café, a religious-themed café and bookstore, doesn’t like it one bit.

With that in mind, what should you consider as you name—or rebrand—your business?

Entrepreneur magazine published 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Naming Your Business back in 2005, and these pointers are still good to keep in mind today. You can read the full article in Entrepreneur. Here are the tips in a nutshell:

Mistake #1: Getting the "committee" involved in your decision.
Mistake #2: Employing the "train wreck" method of creating a name.
Mistake #3: Using words so plain they'll never stand out in a crowd.
Mistake #4: Taking the atlas approach and using a map to name your company.
Mistake #5: Turning your name into a cliche.
Mistake #6: Making your business name so obscure, customers will never know what it means
Mistake #7: Taking the Campbell's soup approach to selecting a name.
Mistake #8: Choosing the wrong name and then refusing to change it.

Check out this video on the controversy surrounding Fat Ho Burgers.

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Death, Taxes and the Small Business Owner

The 2010 tax deadline is just a week away. That could mean some long nights ahead if you still haven’t finished getting your receipts together. Or, it could mean preparing for a heavy tax bill if you didn’t plan correctly.

But whether you waited to the last minute or have been prepared for April 18, 2011 since Dec. 31, 2010, it’s likely that you felt the impact of federal tax issues in some way, shape or form. That’s because tax codes are complex and inconsistent.

So much so, in fact, that the National Small Business Association figures that dealing with the administration of federal taxes is depleting small businesses of their time and money. In other words—and here is where the “death” part of the headline comes in—dealing with taxes is killing a measure of productivity and profits.

"One in three small-business owners spends two full work weeks every year dealing with federal taxes, and the overwhelming majority (87 percent) are forced to pay an outside accountant or other tax return preparer," says Larry Nannis, CPA, NSBA chair and shareholder at Levine, Katz, Nannis + Solomon, P.C. "The federal tax code is a massive resource drain for small businesses."

What’s the worst part of dealing with federal tax issues? Most small businesses point to payroll taxes as the most burdensome task, both financially and administratively. In fact, only 44 percent of small businesses report using an external payroll company. Even small businesses that use a payroll company spend plenty of time dealing with payroll taxes.

Sixty-three percent of small businesses handle payroll internally—and the new W2 reporting requirement that begins in 2012 will make dealing with federal tax issues even more draining. That’s because new W2 reporting requirements demand employers report health care spending.

But wait, it gets worse (as you already know). What happens when there is an IRS audit? Despite the fact that new research shows the IRS misappropriated an undue responsibility of the tax gap upon the small business community, audits are rising. Most small business owners don’t even take the deductions they could on their return for fear of an audit. Only 47 percent of eligible small business owners use the home office deduction, primarily due to concerns it will "red-flag" their return for an audit.

"The time for a serious debate on broad tax reform is now," says NSBA President Todd McCracken. "The ever-growing patchwork of credits, deductions, tax hikes and sunset dates is a roller coaster ride without the slightest indication of what's around the next corner. This is unsustainable and unacceptable."

Check out these tax deduction tips and advice:

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Small Businesses Benefit from ‘All in the Family’ Hiring

Who would you rather hire? Your brother in need or a complete stranger?

A Hiscox study answers the question for you. Well, sort of. The small-to mid-sized business insurer conducted a survey of 1,000 small business owners to track family hiring practices. The results: 21 percent employ a family member. Of that group, 43 percent cited the downturn as a reason for recruiting a relative.

Nearly a third (30 percent) of family-run businesses choose to employ a relative to help them find work and 11 percent say it was to help those who had been made redundant. But the benefits were hardly one-sided. A whopping 94% believe that a family hire benefits their businesses.

Let’s drill down into the advantages:

  • 57% say it came down to trust

  • 45% cite reliability as a benefit

  • 44% know their family members “will work hard”

  • 40% point to relevant experience

  • 16% say it creates a recognized family brand


"The silver lining of the tough financial climate has been the discovery of the 'family talent pool'. The trend of SMEs turning to trusted family members who may be available and have the right experience has strengthened their businesses,” says John Heaney, an SME insurance expert at Hiscox.

With advantages, of course, come drawbacks:

43% say there is a danger associated with work-life balance
25% are concerned it will bring family politics into the business

“Understanding the risks to your business means that you can put strategies in place to ensure they don't become a problem,” Heaney says. “For example, think about succession planning and set out a long term strategy so all employees within your company are clear on their role and expectations for the future.”

The conclusion of the matter?

Grant Gordon, director General of the Institute for Family Business, says family firms are a proven breeding ground for entrepreneurship and working in a family business encourages greater resourcefulness as well as teaching family members valuable lessons.

"Overall the family business sector has weathered the recession well and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in family members should ensure these firms remain competitive as we emerge from the downturn,” Gordon says.

Check out this video on how to hire top performers.

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Survey: Office Kitchens Make Employees Happy

Bare cupboards and empty coffee pots are enough to make anybody frown.

Whether it’s food or drink, U.S. workers usually have to leave the office to fill their bellies. The downside: it hinders productivity.

So says a survey from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples. The survey suggests that having a fully stocked kitchen, with food, coffee and amenities, can lead to more content and productive employees. This is part of the secret to virtual office productivity. When workers work from home from a virtual office, they have food and drink readily available and can continue checking e-mails even while they gnosh.

According to the survey, 73 percent of workers say a well-stocked kitchen would make them happier at work, while 57 percent say that kitchen amenities could lead to a more productive workforce. That doesn’t mean you need to do major construction. Simple additions like a small refrigerator, microwave and pantry could encourage employees to stay in the office for breaks rather than venturing out, saving everyone time and money.

“Making small investments in the company kitchen can lead to significant benefits in any workplace,” says Lisa Hamblet, vice president for the facility solutions and services business of Staples Advantage. “Our recent survey found that 72 percent viewed the office kitchen as more than just a place to get coffee. To them, it represents a place for impromptu meetings, as well as a space to help keep energy levels high. This provides an opportunity for employers to create a workplace kitchen that boosts their workforce’s productivity and camaraderie.”

Recharging Your Batteries
About 80 percent of respondents agree it’s important to get away from their desks periodically to stay focused. Let’s put this into perspective. About 85 million people leave the office routinely to get coffee. Respondents estimate each trip taking 20 to 40 minutes, equating to more than two billion minutes each day, or 10.6 billion hours per year, of lost productivity. That’s amazing!

“Although our survey found people are stepping out from time to time, overall, employees are working longer hours. With staff spending more time in the office, employers should consider making it a more comfortable environment,” concludes Hamblet. “Our survey suggests that simple and easy improvements can make all the difference from an OK day to a great day at the office.”

How to Create a Happy Kitchen
Here are some Staple tips for creating a healthy, happy kitchen that will keep employees in the office and help drive greater satisfaction—and productivity.

Provide several beverage options
: Consider adding coffee, tea, flavored water, or hot chocolate to your cabinets.

Offer a wide range of snacks: More than 85 percent say they want healthy snacks and beverages added to their office kitchen.

Supply first aid materials:
Your office first aid kit should include everything needed in case of an accident and should be kept in a central location, easily accessible to all employees.

Stay clean and healthy: Offer a broad assortment of cleaning supplies that employees can utilize to keep the kitchen and their personal work spaces clean and germ-free.

Make the environment a priority: Supply recycling bins and “green” supplies. Protecting the environment was noted as a priority for those surveyed, and 96 percent would like to see recycling bins in the office.
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Smart Ways to Expand Your Small Business

A new ADP survey says companies with fewer than 50 employees increased payrolls by 117,000 last month. That's the biggest hiring surge since 2006.

Want more good news? Paychex, a company that manages payroll accounting for companies with fewer than 100 workers, said checks per client rose 2.8 percent from a year ago in the first quarter of 2011. That's the biggest gain in two years.

For many small businesses, particularly sole proprietors and mom-and-pop operations, growth brings with it challenges as well as opportunities. The key to growing your small business is to do it the smart way, according to Carol Roth, author of The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks, and Rewards of Having Your Own Business.

Here are some of Roth's tips that may help.

1. Learn to delegate. You were smart enough to start your own business. Now use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify, standardize, automate, and delegate tasks in a way that can't be screwed up by the average employee (think McDonald's). Create a list, and every time you have a task you would delegate to an employee, add it to the list. Not only does it get you in the habit of delegating, but over time you have created a job description so that you know who you're looking for when you're ready to hire.

2. Hire thoughtfully. Beware of "hiring gotchas." For example, spend time putting together a hiring strategy and good questions in advance. Educate yourself on what you can't by law ask in an interview, and research what other companies pay for such a position, as well as benefits you're willing to offer (before the applicant asks). You might want to steer clear of hiring friends and family. If you're clueless about how to find a good pool of candidates, consider using one of the new, low-cost virtual services, such as Elance.

3. Expand by outsourcing. Let's say you're ready to offer new services to your existing customers, but in order to motivate these customers and woo new ones, you have to do social marketing. The problem is, you have no clue how to do it. That's okay! Smart business owners don't try to do everything themselves-they outsource professionals to help them focus on what they do best. There are great new online enterprises like Deskelf that will match your needs with virtual helpers-from accountants to social media marketers. And they don't have to be expensive-Fiverr, for example, links you to professionals who do tasks for as little as $5!

4. Partner up. Imagine you're a professional photographer/videographer who's got more gigs than you can handle. Find another business owner in your profession and partner up so you can take on more jobs without having to hire new employees. Another way to grow your business is to expand your menu of services. For example, you have a lawnmowing/landscaping business and you find someone who maintains pools. By partnering up, you can offer your clients a twofer-weekly pool service and property maintenance. Finding complementary businesses that don't compete for customers creates a win-win for both small businesses.
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