Competitive bids are offers extended by businesses in which they detail proposed compensation that they will receive in exchange for executing a specific task or tasks. These tasks can range from providing a service for a set period of time to manufacturing and transporting a certain quantity of goods or materials.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response Cleanup and Liability Act (CERCLA), better known to the general public as the Superfund program, was passed by Congress on December 11, 1980. Under CERCLA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given the authority to respond directly to the release or threatened release of hazardous substances onto sites which could endanger the public health or the environment.
Finding computer applications for various aspects of a company's operations has, in recent years, become an increasingly vital task of many small business owners. Indeed, computers are an integral part of the business landscape today, in part because they can be an effective tool in so many different aspects of a business's daily operations.
Computer crimes encompass unauthorized or illegal activities perpetrated via computer as well as the theft of computers and other technological hardware. As firms of all sizes, industrial orientation, and geographic location increasingly rely on computers to operate, concerns about computer crime have also risen, in part because the practice appears to be thriving despite the concerted efforts of both the law enforcement and business communities to stop it.
Computer-aided design (CAD) involves creating computer models defined by geometrical parameters. These models typically appear on a computer monitor as a three-dimensional representation of a part or a system of parts, which can be readily altered by changing relevant parameters.
A computer is a programmable device that can automatically perform a sequence of calculations or other operations on data without human aid. It can store, retrieve, and process data according to internal instructions.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), first enacted in 1985 and revised in 1999, is a federal law that requires most employers to provide continuing health insurance coverage to employees and their dependents who are no longer eligible for the company's health insurance program. Employees can lose eligibility for coverage by terminating their employment, reducing their working hours, becoming eligible for Medicare, or in a number of other ways.
Many successful small businesses eventually decide to expand their operations by either purchasing, leasing, or building a new facility. In some instances, the business in question relocates its entire operation in the new facility.
The term "constructive discharge" describes a situation in which an employee is forced to quit a job because the employer has made working conditions intolerable. Working conditions may be considered intolerable if, for example, the employee is discriminated against or harassed, or if he or she suffers a negative change in pay, benefits, or workload for reasons that are not performance-related.
A consultant is an individual who possesses special knowledge or skills and provides that expertise to a client for a fee. Consultants help all sorts of businesses find and implement solutions to a wide variety of problems, including those related to business startup, marketing, manufacturing, strategy, organization structure, environmental compliance, health and safety, technology, and communications.
Consulting is the business of providing advice to clients for a fee in order to help them solve a particular problem or range of problems within a certain area of business. Consulting services are provided by consultants, a majority of whom have gained their expertise from previous employment.
Consumer advocacy refers to actions taken by individuals or groups to promote and protect the interests of the buying public. Historically, consumer advocates have assumed a somewhat adversarial role in exposing unfair business practices or unsafe products that threaten the welfare of the general public.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), sometimes called the cost-of-living index, measures the average change in prices that typical American wage earners pay for basic goods and services, such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medical care. It is expressed as a percentage of the cost of the same goods and services in a base period.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was established in 1972 with the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Act. The primary responsibility of the CPSC is to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury that could occur during the use of consumer products.
A contract is a legally enforceable promise. Contracts are vital to society because they facilitate cooperation and trust.
Cooperative advertising is the sharing of costs for locally placed advertising between a retailer or wholesaler and a manufacturer. Many manufacturers have a set amount of cooperative advertising funds available per year, distributed as opportunities for collaboration arise.
A cooperative in its simplest sense is formed when individuals organize together around a common, usually economic, goal. For business purposes, a cooperative refers to the creation of a nonprofit enterprise for the benefit of those individuals using its services.
Copyright is a kind of protection offered by the laws of the United States to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, and other intellectual works. Copyright law thus protects a wide variety of creative compositions, including books, magazine articles, songs (both lyrics and music), plays (and any accompanying music), choreography, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and films and other audiovisual works.
Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization's goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor.
Corporate image, or reputation, describes the manner in which a company, its activities, and its products or services are perceived by outsiders. In a competitive business climate, many businesses actively work to create and communicate a positive image to their customers, shareholders, the financial community, and the general public.
Corporate logos are symbols, usually designed for easy recognition, that are used to represent companies. Indeed, logos are a ubiquitous presence on a wide range of materials distributed or maintained by companies, including store signs, business cards, major equipment, stationery, marketing materials, packaging, uniforms, etc.
Corporate sponsorship—also known as event marketing or cause marketing (in the case of sponsorship of nonprofit or charitable events)—is a relatively new form of advertising in which companies pay to be associated with certain events. Corporate sponsorship has been growing rapidly in recent years; in fact, it grew at a faster rate than the growth in overall corporate advertising in the late 1990s.
Cost control and reduction refers to the efforts business managers make to monitor, evaluate, and trim expenditures. These efforts might be part of a formal, company-wide program or might be informal in nature and limited to a single individual or department.
Cost sharing is a process wherein two or more organizations work together to secure savings in one or more areas of business operations. Such partnerships may also be pursued to realize other business advantages—increased marketplace exposure, access to technology, etc.—but cost savings is usually a central component of these arrangements.
Cost-benefit analysis is the exercise of evaluating an action's consequences by weighing the pluses, or benefits, against the minuses, or costs. It is the fundamental assessment behind virtually every business decision, due to the simple fact that business managers do not want to spend money unless the resulting benefits are expected to exceed the costs.
Costs are the necessary expenditures that must be made in order to run a business. Every factor of production has a cost associated with it: labor, fixed assets, and capital, for example.
Coupons are certificates that provide consumers with discounts on goods or services when they are redeemed with retailers or manufacturers. Offered mainly by retailers and manufacturers as sales promotion tools to accomplish specific sales and marketing goals, they are very popular with small business owners because they are so inexpensive to disseminate and because of their historical effectiveness.
Credit is a transaction between two parties in which one, acting as creditor or lender, supplies the other, the debtor or borrower, with money, goods, services, or securities in return for the promise of future payment. As a financial transaction, credit is the purchase of the present use of money with the promise to pay in the future according to a pre-arranged schedule and at a specified cost defined by the interest rate.
A credit bureau is an agency that collects and sells information about the creditworthiness, or the ability to meet debt obligations, of individuals or companies. Consumer credit bureaus maintain and report on this information for individuals, while commercial credit bureaus collect and distribute this information for businesses.
Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs have turned to credit cards to finance their business ventures in recent years. Often, these credit cards were originally secured for personal use, but credit card issuers are targeting business owners for corporate cards as well.
Credit evaluation and approval is the process a business or an individual must go through to become eligible for a loan or to pay for goods and services over an extended period. It also refers to the process businesses or lenders undertake when evaluating a request for credit.
A credit history is a record of an individual or company's past borrowing and repaying behavior. In the case of individuals, these records are collected and maintained by several large credit reporting agencies on behalf of companies that extend credit to consumers.
Crisis management is a business plan of action that is implemented quickly when a negative situation occurs. The Institute for Crisis Management defines a business crisis as a problem that: 1) disrupts the way an organization conducts business, and 2) attracts significant new media coverage and/or public scrutiny.
Business is not conducted in an identical fashion from culture to culture. Consequently, business relations are enhanced when managerial, sales, and technical personnel are trained to be aware of areas likely to create communication difficulties and conflict across cultures.
The most simple definition of cross-functional teams (or CFTs) is teams that are made up of people from different functional areas within a company—marketing, engineering, sales, and human resources, for example. These teams take many forms, but they are most often set up as working groups that are designed to make decisions at a lower level than is customary in a given company.
Cross-training involves teaching an employee who was hired to perform one job function the skills required to perform other job functions. "Simply put, cross-trained employees become skilled at tasks outside the usual parameters of their jobs," Lynda Rogerson noted in an article for Small Business Reports.
Customer retention refers to the percentage of customer relationships that, once established, a small business is able to maintain on a long-term basis. It is a major contributing factor in the net growth rate of small businesses.
The term "customer service" encompasses a variety of techniques used by businesses to ensure the satisfaction of a customer, from friendly and attentive staff to prompt response when confronted with product defects. Successful small business owners often cite this factor as one of the most important in establishing and maintaining a prosperous company.
Data encryption refers to the process of transforming electronic information into a scrambled form that can only be read by someone who knows how to translate the code. Encryption is important in the business world because it is the easiest and most practical method of protecting data that is stored, processed, or transmitted electronically.
Database administration is simply maintaining records of any type—customer lists, vendor histories, or addresses, for example—using computer software known as a database management system (DBMS). As Anne Kerven said in Colorado Business Magazine, "Database management means the transferring of file cabinet contents to an electronic file." Out of that simple statement has sprung a multimillion dollar computer software industry and a thriving database administration consulting niche.
With the rapid growth of the Internet in the late 1990s, international stock markets moved online and became easily accessible to anyone with access to the World Wide Web. As a result, people were able to trade stocks directly from their own computers, a function previously performed only by stock brokers.
Debt collection is the practice of obtaining payment from customers for purchases that have been made on credit. Devising and maintaining an efficient and effective system for collecting on overdue accounts should be a priority from every small business.
Debt financing is a strategy that involves borrowing money from a lender or investor with the understanding that the full amount will be repaid in the future, usually with interest. In contrast, equity financing—in which investors receive partial ownership in the company in exchange for their funds—does not have to be repaid.
Decision making is a vital component of small business success. Decisions that are based on a foundation of knowledge and sound reasoning can lead the company into long-term prosperity; conversely, decisions that are made on the basis of flawed logic, emotionalism, or incomplete information can quickly put a small business out of commission (indeed, bad decisions can cripple even big, capital-rich corporations over time).
Broadly speaking, decision support systems are a set of manual or computer-based tools that assist in some decision-making activity. In today's business environment, however, decision support systems (DSS) are commonly understood to be computerized management information systems designed to help business owners, executives, and managers resolve complicated business problems and/or questions.
Delegation is the practice of turning over work-related tasks and/or authority to employees or subordinates. Small business owners often have difficulty with delegation for a variety of reasons, from concerns about the abilities of subordinates to long-standing "hands-on" management habits (a common characteristic of successful entrepreneurs).
Virtually every business owner makes use of delivery services in their operations. For some companies, reliable, timely deliveries of parcels, letters, and documents are an essential element of their overall business practices.
Demographics are the statistical characteristics of human populations, such as age and income, that are used by businesses to identify markets for their goods and services. Demographics are used to identify who your customers are (now and in the future), where they live, and how likely they are to purchase the product you are selling.
Depreciation is an annual deduction that businesses can claim for the cost of fixed assets, such as vehicles, buildings, machinery, and other equipment. According to tax law, depreciation is defined as a reasonable deduction for the wearing down and/or obsolescence of those fixed assets.
Desktop publishing is the process of using computers and software to design, prepare, and typeset a variety of documents (business cards, fliers, brochures, manuals, resumes, newsletters, periodicals, instore signage). This technology, which continues to change with sometimes dizzying speed, has been embraced by all levels of the business world, from giant corporations to small, independently-owned enterprises.
Successful small business owners recognize that customer satisfaction is one of the essential elements of organizational prosperity. After all, providing quality service that clients appreciate not only ensures repeat business from them, but also encourages future "word-of-mouth" sales.
The term "difficult employee" is typically used to refer to a worker who fails to conduct himself or herself in a responsible, professional manner in the workplace. Effectively dealing with these types of workers can be among the greatest challenges that face smaller business owners and managers.
Direct mail is a type of advertising medium in which messages are sent to target customers through the mail. Newcomers to the field of direct mail often use the terms "direct mail," "direct marketing," and "mail order" interchangeably.
According to the official definition of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), direct marketing is an "interactive system of marketing which uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location." While there are many other possible definitions, the DMA captures the four basic concepts that set direct marketing apart from traditional marketing.
A direct public offering (DPO) is a financial tool that enables a company to issue stock directly to investors—without using a broker or underwriter as an intermediary—and avoid many of the costs associated with "going public" through an initial public offering (IPO). DPOs are a form of exempt securities offering, which means that companies choosing this form of offering are exempt from many of the registration and reporting requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Disability insurance provides policyholders with coverage that replaces a portion of an employer's or employee's income if he or she becomes too sick or disabled to return to the job. While many small business owners carry a variety of other insurance plans (health, fire, theft, and life), a smaller percentage maintain plans that cover themselves or their employees in the event of long-term disabilities.
Customers with some type of disability comprise a huge market of more than 54 million people in the United States alone. This group, which amounts to approximately 20 percent of the total population of the country, boasts approximately $700 billion in annual income (and $175 billion in disposable income), according to the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Disaster assistance loans are utilized by businesses to recover from floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. that damage one or more aspects of their operation, from physical structure to inventory to lost business.
Small business owners are strongly encouraged to make contingency plans for responding to and recovering from disasters that may befall them. Analysts note that disasters—whether they take the form of floods, corporate espionage, fires, or power out-ages—can have a devastating impact on a business's viability.
Discounts are reductions that are made from the regular price of a product or service in order to obtain or increase sales. These discounts—also commonly referred to as sales or markdowns—are utilized in a wide range of industries by both retailers and manufacturers.