Monday, September 3, 2018

Interested in Joining the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks?

As a U.S. business who targets EU or Swiss nationals with your products or services, you might consider joining the EU-U.S. and the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks (an overview PDF contains key information about the Privacy Shield scheme). Both Frameworks require a self certification. The U.S. government provides a “How to” join the Privacy Shield consisting of two parts: part one deals with eligibility together with constructing a compliant privacy policy (with additional links describe the necessary contents of your company’s privacy policy); and part two covers identification of an Independent Resource Mechanism, required fee payments, placement of an active verification mechanism, designating a contact individual or officer for your business, reviewing your application (paying attention to the items required to self-certify), and submission of your application (check out the PDF guide to online submission). The site also has FAQs about the Privacy Shield Frameworks as well as information on how the Privacy Shield Frameworks are enforced. You may also view the texts and underlying documents of the Privacy Shield Frameworks through the site. Additionally, review the benefits of joining the Privacy Shield Frameworks as described by the U.S. Government. Finally, take a look at the searchable database of companies presently self-certifying under the Privacy Shield Frameworks. The U.S. Department of Commerce through the U.S. International Trade Administration operates the above described website and its contents, so be sure to check the site often for updates. Any determination by your business to join the Privacy Shield Frameworks is the sole responsibility of you and your company undertaken after careful review of all applicable requirements, documents, and regulations.

Daniel H. Erskine, an international attorney, practices in New York and Connecticut focusing on international law, civil litigation, appeals, and business transactions. Attorney Advertising; USE OR VIEWING OF THIS BLOG OR ANY OF THE WEB PAGES LINKED TO IT DOES NOT ESTABLISH OR OTHERWISE CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The NIS Directive EU Cybersecurity

The Directive on security of network and information systems (the NIS Directive) requires transposition into European Union Member's domestic law by May 9, 2018 (definition of an EU Directive). The NIS Directive, adopted in July 2016, entered into force in August 2016. The UK's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) published an Introduction to the NIS Directive, which provides an overview on on the application of the NIS Directive; a second web site sets out top level objectives of the NIS Directive. Objectives guidance on managing security risks, protecting against cyber attack, detecting cyber security events, minimising cyber security event impacts, examples of supply chain cyber attacks, assessment of supply chain practices, and the 12 principles of supply chain security are posted on the NCSC website. The NSCS also published an Introduction to identity and access management. The Cyber Assessment Framework (CAF) will be published by the end of April 2018. A table setting out the 14 NIS principles together with related guidance and objectives was updated in March 2018. There are a number of infographics covering various topics concerning cyber security and a glossary of terms. You may read the consultation related to the NIS Directive, which is now closed for further detailed information and guidance on applicability of the NIS Directive to your company or business. The NIS Directive applies to “operators of essential services” and "digital service providers." Essential services operators are designated by member state governments. Digital service providers include online marketplaces, search engines, and cloud computing services. Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/151 of 30 January 2018 established rules for application of the NIS Directive to digital service providers and incident reports. The UK implemented the NIS Directive through The Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018 on 10 May 2018. The NIS Directive addresses security requirements or goals as well as incident reporting together with possible implementation of fines or penalties as determined by EU member governments. The Directive works together with the GDPR Regulation and is, generally, part of the overall EU regime on data security, privacy, and the single digital market.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dealing With The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) maintains a web guide to prepare for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect throughout the UK in 2018.  The guide provides links to relevant GDPR provisions as well as discussion/analysis on applicable GDPR definitions, principles, processing structures, security, accountability, data breaches, exemptions, applications, and international transfers.  The guide also links to applicable EU Article 29 Working Party guidance.  The guide is updated by the ICO on at least a monthly basis.  Part of the guide links to a 12 step preparation outline for SMEs and companies generally to begin conforming processes and procedures to GDPR requirements. Further discussion of GDPR occurs sporadically on the ICO's blog.  The ICO complied two partially interactive self assessment check lists (one for data controllers and the other for data processors) that contain useful information accessed through the "More Information" tick boxes below each question. Another UK government site describes the new Data Protection Bill 2017 with the UK Parliament's site outlining the progress of the bill through both Houses and Royal Assent.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Starting & Growing Business in New York State

The New York Empire State Development’s Small Business Division has put together a unified website collecting various New York State programs/services offered to New York small business to start-up or expand their small businesses. The site contains a 52-page guide to owning and operating a small business in New York State as well as a directory of New York State small business programs. There is also a link to discover more information about becoming a New York State government contractor and qualifying to bid on New York State government procurement contracts. Finally, the site links to various financing and lending programs offered by New York State government entities--and contains a searchable directory of alternative lenders in New York State catering to small businesses.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Technological Innovation Government Programs

For small businesses looking to conduct research and development, while needing funds to realize their small business technology, check out The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR "is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization." Progressing in three phases (I to III) with funding of up to US$150,000 in phase I (6 months) and up to US$1,000,000 (2 years) in phase II, the "SBIR funds the critical startup and development stages and it encourages the commercialization of the technology, product, or service, which, in turn, stimulates the U.S. economy." The program started in 1982 (President Regan) and encompasses several US federal agencies.

Another US federal government program focusing on small business technology companies is The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) . The STTR "expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena." Like the SBIR, the STTR is a three phase program offering the same monetary support as the SBIR to small businesses who partner/collaborate with research institutions/laboratories. The goal of the STTR is to "[i]ncrease private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D."
  • Funding opportunities are listed online, and include current solicitations as well as future opportunities.

If your small business technology enterprise resides in New York (the Empire State), then check out the Empire State Development's Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) site. NYSTAR lists a number of programs offered in the State of New for New York companies on the left hand side of their site (click thru the links listed for more info). If your high technology small business is located in Connecticut, take a look at the venture capital program called Connecticut Innovations.

Daniel H. Erskine, an international attorney, practices in New York and Connecticut focusing on international law, civil litigation, appeals, and business transactions. Attorney Advertising; USE OR VIEWING OF THIS BLOG OR ANY OF THE WEB PAGES LINKED TO IT DOES NOT ESTABLISH OR OTHERWISE CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Barriers to Digital Trade

In January 2017 the Congressional Research Service drafted a report entitled Digital Trade and U.S. Trade Policy. The Report (43 pages long) complies information from across various sectors to describe barriers faced by US companies in exploiting and pursuing digital trade opportunities abroad. The report follows on a US Trade Representative Fact Sheet on Key Barriers to Digital Trade released last year, among several US governmental initiatives to identity and, possibly, remediate trade barriers to digital commerce. The International Trade Administration housed in the US Department of Commerce describes, via their site, foreign trade barriers as "any barrier that impedes a company's ability to trade in a foreign country." The site gives examples of "common trade barriers" to include "Tariff and Customs[;] Service Barriers [;] Standards [;] Testing [;] Labeling [;] Certification [;] Rules of Origin [;] Government Procurement Contracting [;] Intellectual Property Protection Problems [;] Excessive Government Requirements [;] Excessive Testing or Licensing Fees [;] Bribery [; and] Investment Barriers".

Companies facing trade barriers may report or complain about them to the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance for investigation. Your US company might also check out the US Department of Commerce's Country Commercial Guides, which contain (in most of the 125 countries covered) concise discussions of trade barriers within each country guide housed as a submenu under the "Trade Regulations, Customs & Standards" sidebar link. There are also a couple of webinars about "Website Globalization" your US company might want to check out, collectively entitled "Preparing Your Website for Global Commerce."

Daniel H. Erskine, an international attorney, practices in New York and Connecticut focusing on international law, civil litigation, appeals, and business transactions. Attorney Advertising; USE OR VIEWING OF THIS BLOG OR ANY OF THE WEB PAGES LINKED TO IT DOES NOT ESTABLISH OR OTHERWISE CONSTITUTE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cybersecurity Tools

If your business operates online, then your business/company should seriously address cybersecurity issues. The Small Business Administration (SBA) dedicates a page describing and linking to "Top Tools and Resources for Small Business Owners". The page features links to fact sheets, webinars, online courses, and other federal agency resources. One such resource derives from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) that provides and generates, through an interactive web site, a Small Biz Cyber Planner that a company may use to "create and save a custom cyber security plan for your company, choosing from a menu of expert advice to address your specific business needs and concerns." There is also a link to the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Resilience Review (CRR), "...a no-cost, voluntary, non-technical assessment to evaluate an organization’s operational resilience and cybersecurity practices." The CRR page contains a number of downloadable forms and resource guides. An additional SBA webpage contains their "Social Media Cyber-Vandalism Toolkit", which
...provides guidance and security practices to small businesses using these tools in their online operations. Suggestions and resources prepare users to respond to cyber-hijacking, and will empower digital users to make informed choices and enact future policy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Check out Global NY & OpentoExport if you are a New York or UK business

If you are a New York state small business thinking about exporting to foreign countries or already selling your products abroad, then take a look at Global NY. The new program offers assistance to New York state small businesses who export as well as foreign businesses looking to invest in New York. Peruse the services and programs offered by Global NY, which include loans, grants, export marketing assistance program, state trade expansion program, and applications for each. If your a UK based SME, then consider looking at Open to Export's country guides as well as seeking out assistance from UK Export Finance. The UK Department for International Trade and the Enterprise Europe Network , which also has a New York Branch (The European-American Business Organization, Inc.) for New York small businesses who seek to trade with Europe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Social Media and Employees

Chances are your small business utilizes social media to connect with its customers and employees on a daily basis. Your small business may want to check out the Federal Trade Commission's ("FTC") Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking, which provide guidance on compliance with truth-in-advertising requirements contained in the FTC act. The FTC opines the Act's requirements apply to small business' social media. You may also want to check out the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") for information on how the National Labor Relations Act applies to union and non-union social media activities. The NLRB has a short policy statement on the Act's applicability to employee social media use here and a more complete statement here. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") together with the FTC publishes Background Checks What Employers Need to Know as well as Background Checks: What Job Applicants and Employees Should Know addressing your small business' use of social media in the hiring process.

Monday, February 1, 2016

UK Tariff Tool Classify Imports and Exports

Is your UK small and medium sized business (SME) involved in import or export? If so, check out the UK Trade Tariff tool and accompanying guidance document "Classify imports and exports using the UK Trade Tariff" outlining the use of the tool for your SME's import or export activities. The guidance document provides basic information about classification codes, links to additional information (and resources), as well as an email address for classification enquiries; reference is also made to the process of obtaining Binding Tariff Information rulings.
The free on-line UK Trade Tariff is available for your use to look up classification codes. This offers easy access to tariff information by providing commodity code and duty rate listings together with a search engine to facilitate enquiries and allow self-service to commodity code information.-UK Government Guidance Document.
A number of industry/goods specific guides are published by the UK government detailing classification issues. The UK government also published more generalized information on beginning to import or starting to export.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking to Enter New Top Export Markets

If your a small business or a medium sized business looking to access new export markets look to the International Trade Administration's Top Markets Series. The Top Market Series analyzes future export opportunities across various commercial sectors. The Series page links to a number of reports complied by the US government to assist exporters in reaching new international markets. After consulting the reports your small business or medium sized company may check out the International Trade Administration's Data & Analysis page where numerous links take you to hard data on export activities emanating out of the United States. Try also reviewing TradeStats Express for more statistical data on export and import matters.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beware Foreign Domestic Laws

Sending personnel overseas into a different country subjects your sales people, executives, and employees generally to the domestic laws (called municipal laws in international law parlance) of the country they visit. Equally important is whether the personnel you send over to another nation possess dual nationality with the country they travel to; dual nationality (see the US Department of State's definition here) could mean your employee's US citizenship is disregarded under municipal law. The US Department of State maintains a checklist for preparations to undertake before traveling abroad, which emphatically cautions:
"While traveling, you are subject to the local laws even if you are a U.S. Citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and it is very important to know what's legal and what's not. If you break local laws while abroad, your U.S. passport won't help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the U.S. Embassy cannot get you out of jail."
Recent news stories of foreign country based employees of US employers are replete with illustrations of municipal (local) law violations leading to long internments, debilitating conditions, and inaccessibility to outside advisors. While certain international treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Charter as well as non-treaty (called customary international law) instruments like The Universal Declaration of Human Rights instill a system of individual rights nations should protect and recognize, enforcement is largely left to internal governmental processes within individual nations. There are advisory complaint procedures set out in either treaties themselves or through the UN system (a list of such bodies is maintained by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights). Remember nations need to sign (and ratify) treaties and may not possess a system for direct effect of the treaty rights in their domestic governmental systems.
Be aware many nations permit private citizens to initiate criminal complaints under local criminal laws to redress ostensibly private grievances through prosecution under substantive criminal law and procedure codes with punishments of imprisonment available in resolution of the dispute.
Certain US laws limit the ability of US citizens to sue, in US state or federal courts, foreign governments (for example the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act).
Diligence in exploring a country's municipal law before sending your employees overseas hopefully avoids local foreign law violations.
As a starting point, use of the US Department of State's Country Information pages provide general preliminary advisories on specific countries, their local laws, and visa requirements (consider work authorization requirements as well). Proactively engaging foreign country travel issues with your personnel helps to educate and manage the risks associated with foreign business travel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Methodological Approach to Negotiating International Business Contracts

The United States government has declared increased exports are the path for financial recovery. In particular, the Small Business Administration declared exports are the principal method to buttress American small business. So, how do small businesses effectively negotiate in the international market? Equipping oneself with a negotiation strategy permits a business to maximize benefits and foster relationships—if you use the appropriate method of negotiation. What is the negotiation method a small business should arm itself with to reach an agreement with a foreign company? This article sets out a negotiation strategy, which small businesses may use to effectively enter into the export business and conclude an international agreement.

1. Prepare
Preparation is the key element in any negotiation. Familiarize yourself with the other company you desire to do business with and the market place they operate in. Look to the publicly available information about the company. Most foreign companies maintain English version websites that contain a wealth of information about the company. Governmental websites, like,, UK Trade and Investment's Export Country Guides, and the Enterprise section of the European Union’s website contain key data, advice, and insights about foreign markets. Utilize the transparency of governmental agency to cull necessary data on the foreign company to evaluate market conditions in the country or region the business operates.

Ask initial questions about the other company to identify their objectives. Evaluate whether the foreign company’s interests are compatible with your company’s aspirations. Dialog at the beginning stages of a negotiation fosters increased information sharing when the actual deal is made—and, equally important, will persist after you executed your contract. Many misunderstandings at the deal-making stage may be avoided by dispelling misconceptions at the preliminary stage.

Begin to identify the type of deal you want to accomplish. If you make goods, then you probably want a distribution agreement. If you provide a service, then you most likely seek a general services contract. Establishing the type of deal you desire leads to more substantial considerations. Ask yourself whether your company seeks a long-term or short-term deal and whether your company can bear transactions costs (like license fees, customs duties, etc.) alone if the other company is willing to share such costs.

Inquire of your own company why you seek to enter into a deal with a foreign company. Do you desire the relationship to coax prospective domestic business partners into relationships with your company, or do you desire foreign company associations to grow your company into a multi-national enterprise? Asking why will help your company to determine your priorities in negotiating a deal with a foreign company.

Much like a good football coach, a well thought out game plan will minimize wasted time, misconceptions, and likely lead to a successful result.

2. Recognize Cultural Differences
A tremendous consideration in international business is the participants’ cultural acuities. Culture strikingly affects the manner and method of negotiation. Investment in learning about the other side’s culture plays a pivotal role in succeeding in negotiations. Remember that all Europeans do not act alike, nor do nationals from other geographic regions, like South East Asia.

Consider use of the other culture’s language or providing translation in order to conduct a successful negotiation. Examine the type of dress you will ware to the negotiation table, the mannerisms you will use, and the physical place where negotiations will occur. Each may dramatically affect the outcome of your discussions.

Culture may also affect the type of tactics you employ in negotiation, so be mindful that threats may terminate negotiation in some locales whereas promises may have the same effect in other regions. Considering all of the above, do not let cultural differences discourage you in your quest to transact internationally because behind cultural divides lies the reason your two companies came together in the first place—to make money.

3. Effectively Negotiate
Use your preparation to identify your soon to be business partner’s objectives, as well as your own. Both parties want to maximize their individual benefits. Don’t be afraid to be creative and propose innovative methods during negotiation. Realize each of you are at the table to grow your respective businesses or because both companies see an inherent benefit in establishing the relationship.

Try to uncover that benefit during negotiations by asking open-ended questions to elicit more information from the other side.

Utilize and employ tactics. Tactics are calculated actions taken to move the other party toward your objectives. During a negotiation you will utilize tactics to induce the other party to agree to your goals. A good tactic is setting an agenda to guide both parties in the negotiation. The agenda does not have to be a 20 page tome, but could be a page outline of bullet-point key issues you want to discuss. To create an agenda look back at your objectives identified in your preparation and give your agenda to the other side before the negotiation. Letting the other side revise and comment on your agenda facilitates negotiation and removes uncertainty. Even if the other side does not want to use an agenda take the document with you to the negotiation for your own use to focus talks on the issues you need to discuss.

Be flexible on small issues and concede items you view possess little value to your company. Ceding a small issue to the other side may induce greater agreement on items more important to you. Do not fear structure in negotiation and do not fear innovation arising during a negotiation. Both structure and innovation do not need to oppose one another in negotiating a deal.

Make sure you have a deal-maker on the other side of the table as well as on your side. Without individuals authorized to make the deal you are wasting valuable time and energy.

Realize both sides are imperfect. You will be nervous and say the wrong thing just like the other side. Welcome to the human race! Every human is prone to error—it is in our nature. Do not let these blunders end the negotiation—persevere through these red-faced moments.

4. Ethics
Ethics are a consideration in an international business negotiation. Ensure that professionalism is maintained and appropriate tactics are employed to avoid possible criminal or civil liability. Do not get caught in a gross misrepresentation or outright falsehood. Honesty goes far in negotiation and the relationship that follows a successful deal. Though, you should utilize the skills that got you to the negotiation table—an ability to get the deal done.

5. Get It In Writing
No matter how wonderfully you negotiated an agreement—get the agreement written down and signed by the other party; make sure the final agreement is signed by an authorized party or deal-maker. The written agreement may go through a couple of variations. Throughout the redrafting process ensure that key negotiated items are not altered. In other words, make sure the essence of your deal remains intact.

The best way to get an agreement written down is hire an attorney. Despite the cost of hiring counsel, it remains a good idea to have a lawyer to draft the agreement. This investment may avoid larger financial liabilities resulting from a poorly worded agreement. Remember you want to spend your holidays leisurely not standing before a foreign tribunal. Do not be afraid to ask the lawyer to keep the language of the agreement simple. Increasingly, attorneys understand business perspectives and realize the importance of the deal to your company.
Also, consider the law is not only different in other countries, but in different states you transact business in. A lawyer may also help you with writing (or rewriting as the case may be) your contracts to ensure an appropriate law and court system possess sole jurisdiction over any disputes arising out of your agreements.
Lastly, remember you negotiated the deal, so make certain the provisions of the agreement reflect the bargain you struck. Just as dialog is important with your business partner, the same principle applies to your lawyer.

In summary, the method necessary to approach international negations is to: (a) prepare for negotiating the deal; (b) effectively negotiate by structuring discussions; (c) focus on both party’s objectives; (d) use appropriate tactics during the negotiation in light of cultural and ethical considerations; and (e) set down the agreement in a writing signed by the authorized representatives of both parties.

Remember you are human and will inevitably make mistakes. Do not let these errors cause the negotiation to fail.
Disclaimer: The above article is only for general informational and educational purposes, not for the provision of legal advice or a legal opinion. Use or viewing of this article or any of the web pages linked to it does not invite or establish an attorney-client relationship.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sanctions List to Check Before Doing Business

Before doing business with a prospective new business partner or customer your US or UK small business should (and may be required) conduct due diligence on your new prospect. Some lists to check are UK-HM Treasury's Consolidated List, EU Sanctions List, EU Regimes Sanctions List, UN Sanctions List, OFAC Sanctions Lists, and Consolidated Screening List.

Monday, January 19, 2015

SizeUp your Business & NY Business Financing

Looking for market data on how your small business compares; check out the Small Business Administration's online tool Sizeup. The tool helps by "benchmarking [your small business] against competitors, mapping your customers, competitors and suppliers, and locating the best places to advertise." You will need to create a sign in to access some of the options. Your New York small business may also retrieve labor market data from the New York Department of Labor's statistics site. There you will find wage data by occupation, employment projections, and regional data (among other items). In addition, your New York small business might want to look at business financing options at New York Business First's website. The site details programs available for New York small and larger businesses offered throughout New York State. Also, reference to Empire State's various business programs may prove useful for your New York small business or your SME located abroad. Their International Division has offices overseas (there is one in the UK in London).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Looking for Export Trade Leads...

If your small business is interested in export related sales leads take a look at the Empire State Development Marketing Assistance Service Program. There you will find a description of the sales and marketing assistance program offered by New York State promoting "Made In New York" products. There is an application you need to complete to qualify for the program. On the federal level you may want to check out, which offers a range of market entry and expansion services (some for a fee). While your small business is getting new export sales leads, you may want to pursue the Small Business Administration's Export Loan Programs. There is a short explanation of the International Trade Loan Program as well as Export Express Loan Program and Export Working Capital Program. All normally require an application. If you are a UK SME, take a look at the UK trade and Investment International Trade Services for Exporters. There you will find information on trade sales leads (registration required) and UK Export Finance. A good overview of UK Export Finance is available on their Overview Page describing the various programs offered.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your Small Business Can Now Use US Ambasadors

A recent program rolled out by the United States Department of State permits US small business owners to directly connect with American Ambassadors to discuss available in-country business opportunities. The program is called Direct Line and features US consular officers as well as local government officials available for conference calls and webcasts at predetermined dates and times. To learn more about the Direct Line program visit the data sheet webpage. You may also want to check out the US State Department's Business Information Database System (BIDS), which is a newly developed website for small business international commercial opportunities. Interested in a particular country to find small business opportunities, then go to any US Embassy or Consulate webpage and click on the business tab (e.g. US Embassy London, England). The business webpages contain useful links to items such as exporting to the country (e.g. Exporting to the UK) as well as contact information and trade show data. Also, your small business might want to peruse the Investment Climate Statements issued by the US Department of State for concise analysis of economic and political in-country factors (e.g. United Kingdom Investment Climate Statement).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Small Business opportunities and match program with the NRC

Does your small business operate in the nuclear energy field as a support service or goods supplier? If so take a look at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's small business Annual Small Business Seminar and Matchmaking Event that discusses how to do business with the NRC. Check out the NRC's page entitled Other Useful Small Business and Acquisition Links for additional information on small business opportunities and 25 online courses from the SBA focusing on small business issues. The NRC's Small Business Contracting Programs page contains information on NRC and other government agencies contracting programs for small businesses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Interested in Small Business Opportunities with the GSA

If your small business is interested in federal government contracts / procurement take a look at the U.S. General Administration's one page PDF containing a host of useful links to small business opportunities with the federal government and the GSA. Also, peruse The Office of Small Business Utilization that provides training in federal government contracts / procurement. Review the materials and webinar Doing Business with GSA: An Overview for New Vendors for additional small business information. The GSA also has a small business help website with additional information, FAQs, and videos.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Importing into the US; Made sure to exercise "Reasonable Care"

If your small business is importing goods into the United States check out the US Customs and Broader Protection's Reasonable Care Checklist to help meet your regulatory burden of ensuring reasonable care is exercised when importing merchandise. Also, your small business should look at US Customs and Boarder Protections's Informed Compliance Publications, which detail a number of areas related to import of merchandise and discuss issues concerning specific goods. Some noteworthy Informed Compliance Publications are: Entry (describing getting your small business goods into the US); ABC's of Prior Disclosure; Customs Value; and Recordkeeping.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Small Business Cyber Security for UK Small Businesses

With the explosion of cloud computing and general internet online activity (think social media) small businesses need to assess their security from business and compliance perspectives. Small businesses in the UK need to be extra vigilant about cyber security given the increased regulations applicable to personal data and data security. Check out Cyber security: what small businesses need to know published by the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills. The Guidance paper provides a brief overview cyber risks and protection measures. Your UK small business may also review A practical guide to IT security published by the UK Information Commissioner's Office that briefly discusses data security and your obligations under statutory and regulatory regimes.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Check Out The Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment Tool

The United States Patent and Trademark Office hosts an Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment Tool that covers the following categories: "IP Strategies & Best Practices[;] International IP Rights[;] IP Asset Tracking[;] Licensing Technology to Others[; and] Using Technology of Others." The IP Awareness Assessment Tool also has additional optional categories covering": Copyrights[;]Design Patents[;]Trademarks[;]Trade Secrets[; and]Utility Patents. Take the full assessment, which consists of 62 questions or use the Pre-assessment to customize the IP Assessment Tool to your small business specific Intellectual Property. The IP Awareness Tool is a good way to identify your small business Intellectual Property assets and relevant protections available to secure your small business IP. The Tool provides a good basic overview to familiarize your small business with IP issues.

Monday, June 9, 2014

BusinessUSA Exporting Wizards

If your small business is looking to enter the export market or your small business seeks to expand its export capabilities, then try out BusinessUSA's, a government-run website with resources for small business, Export Wizards to gain information on a wide range of offerings and support provided by the U.S. government. There are two wizards, the first entitled Beginning Exporting addresses a small business just entering the export market, while the second wizard, entitled Expanding Exporting, contains information for a small business accustomed to the export trade. Both interactive wizards ask questions in a guided format, which produces a results page with links to further information to assist your small business in entering or expanding your business' export trade.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Small Business Opportunities with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

If your small business is inclined toward nuclear energy, then take a look at U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)'s small business website. The site features a link to the NRC's "Annual Small Business Seminar and Matchmaking Event" including information about prime and subcontract opportunities for small business. Also, the site has information on the NRC's small business contracting programs and general tips for contracting with the NRC.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Looking for Info on EEOC Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices?

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posts a concise list of prohibited employment practices/policies on its website. The site provides a brief truncated overview of practices employers should avoid to comply with federal laws. Clicking on the Discrimination by Type link brings you to pages giving a basic description of prohibited policies and practices according to federal employment legislation. The EEOC's website is a good starting point for small businesses seeking to comply with federal employment laws related to discrimination or begin to discuss implementing a compliance small business program should your small business be subject to federal employment discrimination laws. The EEOC provides basic guidance on "How Do You Count the Number of Employees an Employer Has?" as well as "Coverage of Business/Private Employers" to aid your small business in determining coverage of federal employment discrimination legislation. The website may not provide fully up to date information due to new case decisions and legislative changes.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Contracting with the U.S. Department of Energy

If your small business is looking to contract or secure a federal procurement contract from the U.S. Department of Energy, then take a look at the Department of Energy's Small Businesses: 101 on Doing Business with the Department of Energy site. The site contains information on general federal contracting, contacts within the Department of Energy related to small business goods and services procurement, and details on small business outreach events. Of interest, are links to webinars and (System for Award Management) as well as FedConnect, the government acquisition and grants portal. Your small business might also want to review Braddock’s Procurement Opportunities Guide-2013 Edition An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Selling to Governments and Corporations for general information on government contracting transactions.

Friday, October 25, 2013 Foreign Trade Webinars and Virtual Townhalls

The U.S. Census Bureau has a series of webinars on foreign trade relations (exporting) covering a variety of topics ranging from introduction to exporting to updates on recent regulatory initiatives on The Bureau also runs virtual town halls on export issues, the next one is November 5. The Go Global series details governmental resources available to small businesses, including trade data and trade finance. The site is a good source for information related to exporting and collects resources from several government sites concerning international business transactions applicable to small businesses.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BIS Online Training Room

If your small business is looking for free online training related to exports, try the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, online training room. The site features various webinars, videos, and transcripts dealing with issues related to export controls and compliance, including an export 101 series providing introductory overviews of the U.S. export regime.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Basic Guide to Exporting and Export Business Planner

If your small business is interested in learning about exporting or wants to brush up on some export basics take a look at the's A Basic Guide to Exporting. "For more than 70 years, A Basic Guide to Exporting has been the resource that businesses have turned to for answers to their questions about how to establish and grow overseas markets for their products and services." The Guide concisely covers a number of export areas in separate chapters, including marketing, finding buyers, licensing, and the like. A more detailed guide, around 170 plus pages, called the Export Business Planner is published by the Small Business Administration. The Export Business Planner contains information on financing, marketing and business plan templates, as well as other worksheets.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

U.S. Commercial Service’s International Company Profile

If your small business needs to vet a potential overseas business partner consider using the U.S. Commercial Service's International Company Profile service. The International Company Profile provides:
A detailed credit report on a prospective overseas sales representative or partner in approximately 15 days or by the date negotiated with the overseas’ office[;]A listing of the company's key officers and senior management[;]Banking and other financial information about the company[;]Market information, including sales and profit figures, and potential liabilities.
The service charges small businesses a fee based upon whether the small business is new to exporting or an established exporter, which (for example) ranges from $350 for first time small business exporters to $600 for seasoned exporters. For an example of a specific country International Company Profile check out the UK's page.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises

If you are looking on information on the regulatory environment, including country ranks for starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, and employing workers in a particular country check out Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises produced by the World Bank, which "assesses regulations affecting domestic firms in 185 economies and ranks the economies in 10 areas of business regulation." Also, try the data webpage for additional information on particular countries and regions that you may want to discover for your small business.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

USTDA Consultant Database for Small U.S. Businesses

Interested in obtaining a government contract with the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)? Check out the USTDA's Consultant Database for U.S. Small Businesses where your small business can register for "agency's desk study (DS) and definitional mission (DM) contracts for small businesses," which the USTDA "reserves 100%" for small business. Generally, a DM "is intended to help USTDA to find, examine, and develop potential projects in a host country (or countries). These contracts, reserved exclusively for US small businesses, typically range from $40,000-$75,000 and involve a visit to one or more countries to develop potential projects for USTDA funding." A DS "is a discrete analysis of a well-defined project proposal (see USTDA Model Proposal Format). A DS reviews and evaluates all aspects of a project proposal, including the Terms of Reference and budget, and recommends whether USTDA should provide funding for the project. DSs typically range from $2,000 to $8,000, do not involve travel, and are carried out exclusively by small U.S. businesses."

Monday, December 31, 2012

Doing Business Guides at

If you are looking for information on foreign countries to export your U.S. small business services or goods to check out the Country Commercial Guide also known as "Doing Business in" guides. "With information contained in the Guides you can learn about market conditions, purchasing power, consumer trends, distribution channels, navigating entry constraints, best sectors, key contacts and much more." The guides also appear on a left side link after selecting a country from the list appearing on this site.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Superstorm Sandy & Small Business Administration

The U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest federal disaster loans to New York residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Check out the SBA's website.
According to the SBA there are three ways to apply.
1. Apply in person at any Disaster Recovery Center or Business Recovery Center. SBA disaster representatives are at these centers to meet individually with New York residents and business owners, explain how an SBA low-interest disaster loan can help pay for their disaster losses, answer questions, and help each individual complete their application.
2. Apply online using SBA’s secure Web site at (available at most centers)
3. Apply by mailing your application to SBA at 14925 Kingsport Rd., Ft. Worth, TX 76155-2243