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What's a Good Marketing Company for a Small Business?

My dad runs a small business in the Bay Area, California, repairing laser printers and copiers and selling toner cartridge. The repairs take place on-site, and usually are for other small businesses; home printers are generally too cheap to be worth repairing, and you can't get parts. The company consists of him, a printer repair technician, the occasional contract technician, and an answering service for backup. My dad is not technologically saavy, but he can use email (Outlook, arrgh), ACT (sort of), and our user-friendly scanner. He recently got interested in DemandForce as a possible marketing company to attract new business, but the reviews I have read have made me deeply skeptical. So, does anyone know of a great marketing company for a small business providing services and supplies? What should my dad look for and look out for? Advice is welcome, but specific recommendations of marketing companies (especially that you still use) are what I'm most looking for.
posted by Alex Haist on Mar 18, 2014 - 10 answers

You are not my scammy developer

I volunteer for a non-profit organization. We've had a work agreement with a small company (Basically one or two guys) to do Drupal development work for a year. Short story: the point person in our organization is suddenly no longer with us (deceased), the developer has terminated the contract, almost none of the specifications are complete. "Agile development! Hand waving! You don't understand." We're out a LOT of money and he is holding any not yet tested code hostage for another 15K in billing. All invoices past (approved by previous guy) and present (which I don't want to approve) consist of a single line: "X number of developer hours at Y rate = gimme Z money". They are autogenerated since the number of hours is always the max allowable under the work agreement and still addressed to the deceased. We are going to the lawyers soon, but... [more inside]
posted by Gotanda on Mar 16, 2014 - 15 answers

I just got a promotion. Should I have gotten a larger raise?

I work for a local small business. I was just promoted from Assistant Store Manager to Store Manager. The raise that was proposed to me was less than I thought it would be. Is there a standard or accepted percentage? [more inside]
posted by kbbbo on Mar 15, 2014 - 7 answers

Small business owners: how do you keep track of contacts,leads,etc.?

Do you have suggestions for a system that will help me track the many new contacts I'm making as I start up my business? At the moment it's a mish-mash of notebooks, my phone, email, google docs and my (increasingly full) memory of conversations and phone calls. These might be people who've contacted me for a proposal, or it could be someone who says 'You should talk to my friend who does X - I'll put you in touch' and I want to remember to follow up with them later. [more inside]
posted by atlantica on Mar 14, 2014 - 11 answers

Here's your work and, oh yeah, your bill ...

On Monday, I start my first non self- or under-employed job in five years. It is with a very large (4000+ employees) company that's a big player in their field, and I am very happy and grateful to have the job. But, as I'm sitting here filling out the employee paperwork I'm faced with a "New PC Employee Acceptance Form". It seems I will be issued a company laptop, but I will also be charged $70/month that "covers XXX Company's standard for PC hardware, software and maintenance". This was never discussed in my salary negotiations. Questions: Is this normal? and, Is this an expense I will be able to write off at tax time?
posted by Benny Andajetz on Mar 11, 2014 - 37 answers

Buying materials for my job through my own company?

I work for a medium size 40 employee company in a management capacity. I'm responsible for purchasing equipment and software. What sort of legal issues could arise from purchasing the equipment myself and reselling it to the company? [more inside]
posted by dozo on Mar 10, 2014 - 10 answers

Business, Murakami, DFW, and Music

Book suggestions for a gift exchange recipient that combine business, Haruki Murakami, David Foster Wallace, and/or music? (here's hoping my recipient isn't also a Mefite!) [more inside]
posted by divabat on Mar 4, 2014 - 10 answers

Why am I the only one who answers his phone?

Running a small business and I need to strike the right balance between being available and growing my business. [more inside]
posted by jacobean on Feb 28, 2014 - 7 answers

Solve all the (business) problems!

How do I find and learn about creative ways to solve the complex problems that businesses face these days? [more inside]
posted by rippersid on Feb 28, 2014 - 3 answers

Looking for examples of business collaboration.

As the title suggests, I'm looking for various examples of business/organization collaboration, especially ones where people from different industries work together in an interdisciplinary fashion. People combining their expertise in different fields to work on a project together would be especially helpful. For profit, non profit, big corporations or the local PTA, all are great. I am also interested in spectacular failures of collaboration, if you can think of any of those.
posted by a fiendish thingy on Feb 27, 2014 - 8 answers

How can 4 freelancers/entrepreuners buy affordable liability insurance?

Three friends and I teamed up to rent a small commercial office space to use as a shared office, as we've tired of working at home or in coffee shops. We've signed the lease and moved in. I've been tasked with finding liability insurance, but having trouble as the insurance companies don't know what to make of us. I'm hoping Mefites may have creative solutions. [more inside]
posted by lukez on Feb 21, 2014 - 5 answers

burned out lawyer rethinking a new career in teaching

I just left law after 18 years as a sole practitioner. I am burned out. I'm not very money oriented, more into helping people and socializing. I like work that has a beginning and end. I've never been a good employee. I thought that I would like to become a high school social science teacher and I now have a license to teach. I'm a 54 yo female. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Feb 21, 2014 - 26 answers

Incorporate an online-based business in New York or Pennsylvania

I'd like to start on online-base media/information/advice business, and I'm having trouble deciding on where to incorporate. [more inside]
posted by NYC-BB on Feb 18, 2014 - 4 answers

Babysitter Business

My wife and I always have trouble finding a babysitter. Our friends have the same problem. This problem came up at a party last night. Our solution to the problem was a website / app that allowed parents to search for babysitters. There are plenty of services that do this already, but we all agreed that none of the services were solving the 'trust' problem. We felt that none of the existing services were local enough, e.g. tied to our local community / social circles. As a parent, what would this service need to do to put you at ease? Do the babysitters need to be vetted, and if so, how? Referrals? Reviews? Video interviews? Personality tests? What would you need to know to trust a babysitter with your kids?
posted by jasondigitized on Feb 17, 2014 - 16 answers

I need a printed map and a web or mobile app - two birds, one stone?

I need a printed map and a web or mobile app - is there any existing tools/concepts which involve killing two birds with one stone? [more inside]
posted by rutabega on Feb 10, 2014 - 4 answers

A challenging question about tape, money, and copyright law. Dive in!

I have come into possession of a very rare item. How can I make a whole lot of money on it? [more inside]
posted by crazylegs on Feb 8, 2014 - 16 answers

Info about WWII American business links to Germany

Are there any books or other resources about the links American businesses had with Germany leading up to and during WWII? [more inside]
posted by Ickster on Feb 6, 2014 - 7 answers

Count On Us!

NameFilter: Looking for a name for a small tax accounting firm that is marketing itself primarily towards artists and other creative types. [more inside]
posted by Jairus on Feb 5, 2014 - 5 answers

Etiquette about audio recording meetings with customers using Evernote

How would you feel about having a meeting recorded, where you're discussing your business and the problems you'd like to solve? How would you feel being asked if I could record the meeting? [more inside]
posted by infinitejones on Jan 31, 2014 - 23 answers

Yet Another Law School Question

Please help me decide between business and law school! Difficulty level: I need to decide by Monday and also I'm getting married this weekend and my brain is all over the place OH GOSH SO MANY WORDS INSIDE. [more inside]
posted by jaynewould on Jan 31, 2014 - 14 answers

What is the best way for a digital artist to sell prints online?

I run a little, very informal art project on a tumblr blog which has gotten somewhat popular. Recently people have been asking if they can buy prints. I don't have any prints for sale right now, and don't know much about how to set up an online store, or if there's some other method that digital artists find convenient. Would anyone be able to point me in the right direction with this? [more inside]
posted by picklenickle on Jan 30, 2014 - 4 answers

Unlocking Contracted Recurring Revenues to use for Debt Collateral

Every month my company sells roughly $15,000 worth of monthly recurring revenue contracts with five year term lengths. The service sells for $1,000 per month so every month we sign on 15 new customers. $15,000 * 12months * 5 years = $900,000 (total contract revenue for all 15 contracts sold during the month) We've maxed out our borrowing on physical assets held by the company and I need to find a way to unlock these revenue streams to use as collateral for further growth. What's the best way to do this? I would prefer to not have to go to every customer and amend their contracts in any way. Thanks!
posted by Paalen on Jan 24, 2014 - 16 answers

Why can't we be friends (errr fellow permanent employees)???

I'm in a position where I'm currently a "temp to hire" -- I have been looking for a new job because of the uncertainty in my company and have interviewed with a different company who is moving me to the next step of their hiring process and gave me a hire date. I don't want to leave the company I'm currently with but feel I may have to if I'm not offered a permanent position. How do I bring this up to my boss? [more inside]
posted by camylanded on Jan 22, 2014 - 17 answers

Will Twitter give me my biz's Twitter handle if it's taken but inactive?

I recently started a business and have registered the business name with various municipalities. The relevant Twitter account name is already taken, but has never tweeted and has 3 followers. Is there any chance I could get this handle from Twitter? [more inside]
posted by whenbynowandtreebyleaf on Jan 18, 2014 - 5 answers

How to leave one job for another without burning bridges?

I've been at my current job for about 1 1/2 years. I like my job for the most part (not a dream job, but as far as corporate jobs go, pretty good). Recently, a co-work left. I got a call last week and she was wondering if I'd want to go work with her at a different company. It's a small company she's with now, which means I'd be a little higher in hierarchy and she said they're looking to expand. [more inside]
posted by yeahyeahyeah on Jan 16, 2014 - 9 answers

Owner Presence At My Business

My bar / restaurant I opened is in its 2nd year of operation and it's running smoothly while turning a profit. Can I take a step back or should I continue to put in long days at the bar because that's what I'm supposed to do? [more inside]
posted by masters2010 on Jan 15, 2014 - 10 answers

Open domains and business names for a mailing service?

I want to start a service that will put real letters into the mail via a website. I kind of prefer a meaningless name that is simple, unambiguous to spell, and memorable that would grow with the site, if it began to branch out into different areas. And of course, the domain should be open. Any ideas? [more inside]
posted by jsturgill on Jan 14, 2014 - 14 answers

How did you get work when you were starting out?

In November 2013 I started a metalworking shop. My background is specialty metalworking, so bending, fabrication, forming, fine welding, metal patina, etc etc. There is a niche in Vancouver for this kind of fabrication, the work is there, my question is how do I chase it down? [more inside]
posted by seagull.apollo on Jan 12, 2014 - 12 answers

Need a pep talk for someone new to promotions and sales

Help! I'm crippled with anxiety over promoting our business and selling our services!! Looking for tips and tricks from seasoned sales professionals. [more inside]
posted by SheIsMighty on Jan 11, 2014 - 7 answers

Where can I learn modern white hat search marketing and SEO?

My small business used to rank really well for hundreds of terms. But I've dropped for some major terms and been obliterated for others. How do I fix this? [more inside]
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats on Jan 9, 2014 - 12 answers

Where can I go searching for a volunteer non-executive board member?

My small business needs an independent 3rd party to keep a weather eye on us and ensure we stop slacking. Where should I go looking to find someone experienced who could give us 2 hours of their time every month for next-to-do nothing? [more inside]
posted by ajp on Jan 9, 2014 - 6 answers

DIY MBA

I've reached a point in my career where I'm starting to need to knowledge that comes with an MBA, but not the actual degree. What are the best books you've read that cover the hard and soft skills of an MBA? [more inside]
posted by the_shrike on Jan 9, 2014 - 12 answers

Brooklyn restaurant for one-on-one business meeting

I am a free-lance bookkeeper seeking new clients. I would like to meet prospects at a Brooklyn restaurant. Ideally it would be moderately priced, available for lunch or dinner, quiet, well-lit and have wi-fi access. Anything that has 4 out of those 5 would be super, and anyplace with all of them is superb.
posted by layceepee on Jan 6, 2014 - 6 answers

How much more secure are older low tech phones than the more modern ones

Are older phones or phones designed for poorer countries any less susceptible to spying than the latest Apple, Google or Android models? I've read about CEO's looking for the very old brick phones because since they don't have the sophisticated technology of the modern phones, they're harder to monitor or track. I understand the phones w/o apps are clearly more secure regarding third parties because they aren't sending personal data to companies. But what the government and everything else; voice, location via cell towers, SMS; the very basics.
posted by CollectiveMind on Jan 4, 2014 - 12 answers

How to write down life and business goals

It's the goal writing season, and I recently came across an article that explained a specific technique for writing down one's goals. [more inside]
posted by NekulturnY on Dec 31, 2013 - 5 answers

The Cheesecake Factory at Home.

I have a great cheesecake recipe. I want to bake it for a small profit or no profit, mostly for fun and to see what it's like to run a business. It does not have to be an official LLC or anything, but can be. What do I need to know to run this business? [more inside]
posted by ethidda on Dec 19, 2013 - 13 answers

What's that book with the thing?

I'm trying to recall a business/self-help book. The main idea was that setting goals and pacing yourself is counterproductive, and that accomplishment happens by immersing one's self in a big idea. Steve Jobs, etc. I believe the cover was an illustration of a businessman opening a shirt to reveal a superhero costume. There may have been a critique of Tony Schwartz' energy management model inside. It was probably written in the last ten years. Can anyone name the book?
posted by michaelh on Dec 18, 2013 - 2 answers

How to put a value on free?

I run a daily free (tips appreciated) walking tour and would like some ideas on how to work out how much it is worth as a business. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Dec 12, 2013 - 9 answers

How do I create a Share Certificate template?

Looking at the this blank Share Certificate, how would I create a template to print information in the areas I've x'ed on the scan? I'm using a Brother laser printer if that matters, and I have access to Office 2013 and Acrobat Writer. Thanks.
posted by gman on Dec 10, 2013 - 3 answers

Retroactively deducting a business expense?

I've recently started working on a couple of software projects that I hope will generate income in 2014. I'd like to form an LLC, but I'll probably end up doing that closer to completion since it's so expensive. Because my old laptop just wasn't up to snuff for development work anymore, I decided to purchase a new laptop a few weeks ago. Now I'm worried that I may have missed out on a sizable tax deduction. Assuming I can't take the laptop off my taxes in 2013 (no LLC, no revenue), is there any way I'll be able to deduct a purchase made in 2013 as a business expense in 2014?
posted by archagon on Dec 10, 2013 - 13 answers

Looking for a good/high-quality print-maker in the Willamette Valley

Hi MetaFilter! I'm looking for a good printer-maker in the Willamette Valley, Oregon region. Anywhere from Eugene to Portland proper, but a shop than can produce high-quality prints (preferably something along the line of the new Giclée printing process, but not necessarily Giclée prints). [more inside]
posted by jibberish on Dec 8, 2013 - 4 answers

What's the cheapest and easiest way to get a business's credit report?

What's the cheapest and easiest way to get a business's credit report? It's my business (USA corporation.) I'm mainly interested in the overall score and the list of items affecting the score more than the details of each item.
posted by michaelh on Dec 7, 2013 - 5 answers

Does my very small business need a lawyer?

This question made me wonder if I need to do any legal stuff for my small business. [more inside]
posted by BlahLaLa on Dec 6, 2013 - 13 answers

How to register a company name and if under LLC or Corporation?

Hello, I am currently developing a small food business. I am interested in selling my food on weekends at outdoor markets across the city. I think this is a good way for me to get my feet off the ground and see how people respond to my product. What I can't quite figure out is if it is too soon to start thinking about registering the company name and logo? If so, would I register my small business as a LLC business or corporation? I am a bit confused. Would someone be able to help? Thank you!
posted by delasoull on Dec 6, 2013 - 6 answers

Salary negotiation moving from non-profit to for profit company?

Hi everyone- I have a friend who is close to an offer at for-profit company in NYC, but his background is in non-profit. He wants to ask for a salary in the range that his research shows is a fair for his experience level and the industry standard. However, this amount is nearly $25,000 higher than his current non-profit salary, and he is afraid that revealing his salary history will not allow him to negotiate a fair rate. Does anyone have advice or has been through a similar transition themselves? Thank you in advance for your assistance. -FH
posted by Equiprimordial on Dec 4, 2013 - 7 answers

Need Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Accountant to explain IRS issue...STAT!

Can anyone recommend a good 'affordable' accountant that could reach out to the IRS and get the straight scoop on an IRS mishap (on my part mostly) from 2007-2008? Would like to get this straightened out as soon as possible. [more inside]
posted by littleredwagon on Dec 4, 2013 - 2 answers

Hacked Instagram account; can my friend get justice?

A fellow aspiring entrepreneur and friend of mine is in desperate need of help. Time is of the essence! Here's the story: Two years ago he created his own business that sells custom hand-made clothes and products. He owns a website and is on all of the normal social media. One of his most effective tools to connect with customers is through instagram. He's worked hard over the years to develop a fan base of over 27K followers. Mysteriously, last night this account was hacked. They changed the password, hacked the business email, and have taken control of the brand. This account is the business' main source of revenue and advertisement. Although he's trademarked the company and taken all the normal preventative measures, the admin. at instagram claims there's nothing they can do to help. Assuming this is true, what are his available options? Essentially, my friend's ship just got hijacked by some evil bastards and he's going to need a seal team to get it back. [more inside]
posted by intelligentfool on Dec 3, 2013 - 15 answers

How do tattoo parlors stay in business?

I don't know anything about how much tattoos cost. I know I see a lot of small tattoo parlors all over the place. I got to wondering how many tattoos they would need to do a month in order to stay in business. How much does it typically cost to run a tattoo parlor?
posted by curious nu on Nov 30, 2013 - 13 answers

Becoming Fluent in Predictive Analytics

I work in a University managing the broad based direct mail, email and calling programs. I have zero undergrad or graduate experience with math, business or the social sciences. (Aka, I can write a really nice essay...) I would like to chart a path to being recognized as an expert in predictive analytics. [more inside]
posted by meta x zen on Nov 26, 2013 - 3 answers

What to consider and how much to charge for freelance jingles?

How much should I charge companies to write and record 30-60 second instrumental jingles to help sell their products on websites? [more inside]
posted by priested on Nov 20, 2013 - 4 answers

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