Peninsula Small Business Talk

from the Peninsula Executives Association

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Posts Tagged ‘small business owners tips’

New Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave Regulations with Maureen Clark, Clark Associates

Maureen Clark, Clark Associates highlighted some new guidelines for businesses with 15 or more employees.

In California, new regulations state that employees who have completed 90 days of employment and who need time off work to donate bone marrow may receive up to five workdays off.  For employees planning to donate an organ, the leave is up to 30 days.  You may require that they use sick leave or vacation leave if it is available.  If there is no sick leave available, the employees are still entitled to time off.  The specific length of the leave is to be determined by the doctor.  Medical coverage remains in force throughout the leave.  The leave may be taken in one or more periods of time.  The employee may need to take time off for office visits in addition to the surgery.

Maureen Clark, Clark Associates has prepared a handout that is attached in PDF form at the bottom of this post with detailed information about the regulation.  You may share this information with other business owners.  If you have tips for small business owners that you want featured on the PEA blog, email Neal with your ideas.

Donor Leave Details by Clark Associates

Catering in 2011 with Bobbie Fakkema of Events, Etc…

Bobbie Fakkema of Events, Etc… recently shared with PEA how she has created new business opportunities in the recession.  Bobbie stressed during her talk how important it is to be flexible and willing to change.  She started a new branch of Events, Etc… last December called No Box Catering, providing local organic sustainable lunches for corporate workers without cafeterias.  She drops off platters of food that include a meat, vegetarian, salad, bread and butter, and dessert combination.  Then they come by to pick up the trays after the meal.  Currently, this branch of Bobbie’s business has about 150 clients, and although her short term goal is to serve 500 lunches per day, her long term goal is 4,000 per day.

Bobbie’s favorite type of job is event catering.  She showed PEA members some beautiful pictures from the many events she has catered over the years.  One of her favorite events was a birthday party featuring tables with green leaves for the tablecloth.  In lieu of traditional flowers, they used pods for flowers.  This is the type of event that Bobbie would like to see come back.

Although there are still concerns for Bobbie in the catering business (like increasing food costs), she prides herself on her focus on providing healthy, beautiful food!

You Created a Facebook Business Page – Now What?

Another great guest post from Kim Tucker of All Reasons Moving.

Now that you’ve created your Facebook business page, you should:

–Log in every day, check for customer comments. If someone posts a question or comment to your page you want to respond right away. A customer will not be happy if they ask a question or post a comment and don’t get a response for weeks or months.

–Post a new feed at least once a week. Really you should be posting two-three times per week but if you find that too demanding start with once a week.

–Post pictures. You can post pictures of your product. Highlight your staff if you have employees. Post specials you may be running. Post pictures of your work.

–Do you have a Blog? Post the link to your blog on your FB Page so people can click the link to read and comment on your Blog.

    Social Media is about Networking. If you go to an event to represent your business, you can’t expect to get business standing in the corner waiting for people to approach you. You need to introduce yourself and make new friends and new connections. You need to work the room, the same applies with Social Media.

    Thanks again, Kim!

    Claim Your Site Today!

    PEA member Kim Tucker has a great tip for small business owners looking to improve their Google juice.  Do you have a tip you would like to pass on to fellow PEA members? Please send them to Executive Director Neal Coogler.

    Now on to Kim:


    Have You Claimed Your Site?

    by Kim Tucker, All Reasons Moving

    Have you claimed your site?  In most cases your business is already listed on many different sites and all you have to do is “claim” it. It’s FREE!

    A good resource is to go to http://getlisted.org. Type in your company name and it will tell you if you have claimed your business on such sites as Google, Bing Yahoo and a few others.  From there you can click on the links and register your business.  Claim your business today!

    Back to Neal:

    If you are thinking of creating your own blog, check out Kim’s site for a great example of small business blogging. Thanks for the tip, Kim!

    Winter Tips for Your Garden

    by Peggy Calhoun

    Here are a few winter garden tips from PEA member Peggy Calhoun of Garden ANew to keep your plants healthy and your garden looking great:

    • Wrap frost tender plants with small Christmas lights to protect them from a freeze.  It puts out a couple of degrees of heat and could protect the plants from freezing.  Note that the new LED lights do not generate heat so use the original type of lights.
    • Wait until the danger of frost is past to cut back frost tender plants that may have been damaged, around March 1-15.  The dead leaves from the first frost will protect the underneath part of the plant.
    • Mulch exposed soil areas to protect the roots of plants from lower soil temperatures.  It also helps to hold moisture in the soil and reduce weed growth.
    • Clean gutters and downspouts of fall leaf litter (add to the compost pile) and divert water from downspouts away from the foundation of the house.
    • Turn your irrigation controller to ‘rain’ or ‘off’ during the rainy season.  If there has been no rain for two weeks, turn controller on manually and run through each station to keep plants and trees hydrated through a dry spell.

    Peggy Calhoun has been designing gardens for over 19 years. With her clients based mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area, she specializes in residential garden design. Peggy is an active member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) and was the 2003 SF Bay Area APLD design competition winner. See samples of her work at her website:  www.GardenANew.com

    How Hard is it to Get a Loan?

    by Julie Stern Fukuhara

    The short answer is: pretty hard, but still possible.  Julie Stern Fukuhara, Stern Mortgage outlined the five main obstacles to getting a loan and how to make things easier during her classification talk last Thursday.

    1. Loan-to-value issues.  Lenders are very conservative these days on the appraised value of your home.  They are taking the lowest appraised value that they can find, so be prepared for a very low estimate.  In one case, a client whose home was thought to be worth $1.6 million came in at $650,000.   To add to the client’s frustration, the home across the street (also owed by this client) was appraised at $1.2 million.
    2. Specialized loan officers. Some loan officers will simply tell you that your loan can’t be done when what they really mean is that it can’t be done through that particular lender.  There may still be some options out there.  If your loan is owed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there are programs out there that allow you to go to very high loan-to-value loans.  The rates may be higher with this type of loan but still not a bad rate.  You may also want to look further than one bank.
    3. Lenders being flooded with loan applications.  Lenders laid-off thousands of workers after the crash and for the most part, have not re-hired to replace them.  A loan application that once took 21 to 30 days to process now can take 30 to 40 days to process with no delay from the borrower.  Julie recently had a client who started a loan application in December of 2009 who came to them because it was still not done in August of 2010.  When dealing with large lenders, knowing where to go and who to contact can really help smooth the process.
    4. Picky underwriters.  Seriously, it has gotten so bad that Julie recently had an underwriter ask for a letter of explanation documenting the fact that a credit inquiry was for the credit report in the underwriter’s hands.  She also wrote a letter of explanation on a name change for a woman who was recently married.  An advantage of working with a loan broker (like Stern Mortgage) is that they will deal with these requests on your behalf.  One last example: underwriters are asking for letters explaining any large deposit, which can sometimes be deposits over $1,000, so she has had to write letters explaining salary deposits.
    5. Income variations.  Lenders like to see regular deposits of the same amount.  Even bonuses are making them skittish, much less the income variations of the self employed.  Lenders will use the net income reported on your last two years of tax returns to determine your average income, which can be another problem if your deductions are high.  Lots of business owners tend to leave income in the company; Julie suggests that you pay yourself a regular salary and then lend it back to the company to show a monthly fixed income.

    To make things easier on yourself:

    • Make sure you work with someone you can reach.
    • Save all of your documentation.
    • Get your documentation in as soon as you can.
    • Keep your business credit cards separate from personal.
    • Show higher net income on tax returns.
    • Take retirement distributions monthly.
    • Don’t wait until the last minute.
    • Decide what rate you will be happy with and go with it.