Rex Hammock – Small business information, insight and resources | Fri, 17 Aug 2018 15:28:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 No One Ever Made a Difference by Being Like Everyone Else | #MondayMotivation Mon, 13 Aug 2018 17:44:24 +0000

While it sounds like something the showman P.T. Barnum should have said, it was spoken by Hugh Jackman, the actor-singer who played the title role in the 2017 film, The Greatest Showman.

Photo | Public Domain. Feel free to share.

]]> 0
Thinking of Starting a Craft Brewery? Here’s Where to Start Sun, 05 Aug 2018 14:56:58 +0000

Did you know that the first Friday of August is International Beer Day? We’ll confess: neither had we until Friday night. The event takes place in pubs, breweries, and backyards all over the world (which, come to think of it, happens most every Friday night). But because we’re always glad to raise a glass to celebrate a group of heroes of small business, here’s our belated: Cheers and Happy International Beer Day, wherever you are! And if all this celebrating has you thinking about starting a craft brewery, we have some suggestions.  

Craft breweries in the U.S. have bubbled up from an off-beat semi-hobby to a major industry, comprised primarily of small businesses. However, if you are thinking of starting one, the first thing you should do is join the Brewers Association, the trade association of craft beer brewers and related businesses. The Brewers Association has the educational resources and networking opportunities can help balance your passion with insight and wisdom from the experts.

If you are starting any type of business, check out the Guide to Starting A Business.

A membership in the Brewers Association can connect you with the brewing community. More than 10,000 owners, CEOs, brewers, buyers, marketers, distributors, and managers are individual- or educational-members of BA or work for a company that is a member.

To learn more, pick the membership type that best represents your stage in developing a brewer or related business.

What exactly is an American craft brewer?

According to Brewers Association, an American craft brewer is (1) Small (2) Independent and (3) Traditional as defined by these three criteria:

Small | Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships.

Independent | Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer.

Traditional | A brewer which has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. (Flavored Malt Beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.)

Joining a trade association as an individual is a great way to begin research into starting any type of business. Spending time with owners or executives in an industry is a unique way to access experienced individuals who have gone through the process you are undertaking.

Another great premium of membership in a trade group are publications and digital news published by the organization. For example, membership in the Brewers Association includes a subscription to The New Brewer, the journal of the Brewers Association. The magazine (and additional copies for staff) is included with a paid Brewers Association membership. Single issues are also for sale online.

And once again, cheers!



Also on

Craft Brewing Leads the Way to a New Artisan Economy

]]> 0
Neighbors, Communities, Even a Big Company, are Stepping in to Support Kids’ Curbside Startups Fri, 20 Jul 2018 16:09:06 +0000

Lemonade stands and other curb-side kid-businesses are a staple of summer. Unfortunately, so are the spoilsports who complain about the junior-sized ventures. But be fore-warned, naysayers. Not only are small businesses the second most trusted institions in the U.S., the small businesses run by small kids are likely the most beloved small businesses there will ever be. That’s why we’re loving the stories we are seeing this summer about the reaction to those who call the authorities to shut down the kids.

Don’t be like #PermitPatti

After a video of a lady calling the police (or perhaps just pretending to) asking them to shut down an 8-year-old’s bottled-water-stand went viral worldwide, support from the neighborhood — and from around the globe — started pouring in. And because her reason for selling bottled water was to raise money for a trip to Disney World, a singer named Jonathon Brannon @BrannonMusic even sent her four tickets to the theme park.

Minneapolis 13-year-old discovers the downs and ups of a start-up

Wanting to make enough money to purchase new school clothes for the fall, 13-year-old Jaequan (“jay-kwan”) Faulkner opened a hot dog stand in his front yard earlier this summer. At first, things were going great. His stand, “Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs” even got a shout-out endorsement on the Facebook Page of Bike Cops for Kids, a community outreach program of the Minneapolis police department.

But like many small business owners discover, there are always some bumps on the road to success. For example, Jaequan discovered that to serve food to the public, his stand was required to have a city health inspection. And like “PermitPatti,” someone complained about the stand because it was not officially permitted.

But instead of having to shut down his hot dog stand, Jaequan received hands-on help from the staff of the Minneapolis Health Department, the Minneapolis Promise Zone and the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) who all joined together to help bring Faulkner’s hot dog stand up to code.

The health department staff even chipped in to help pay for his $87 permit.

“We’ve been working with Jaequan on the business side of things, like basic business, finance, marketing, pricing… he’s really been excited about all of it,” Ann Fix, program manager for the Northside Food Business Incubaor through NEON and Appetite for Change, told Heidi Wigdahl, a reporter at Minneapolis’ KHOU News 11.

In the process, Faulkner learned another small business lesson: “Surprisingly, I’m like, dang the city’s not the bad guys in this situation. They’re actually are the ones who are helping me,” Faulkner told Wigdahl. “It makes me feel kind of—not kind of—really proud that people know what I’m doing.”

Country Time Lemonade launches Legal-Ade to bring permits and fines up to date

While it’s being done with a clever, humorous twist (kudos for the photo above), Country Time Lemondade has launced Country Time Legal-Ade, described by the company as “a crack team ready to straighten out lemonade stand-related permits and fines. Legal-Ade will defend kids’ right to a lemonade stand and all the benefits they bestow.”

While the program has a fun twist, it also has some serious longterm bite to it:

Any child fined for running a lemonade stand without a permit can have his or her parent apply for reimbursement. To apply, simply upload the image of your child’s permit or fine along with a description of what your lemonade stand means to your child, in his or her own words.

The submission will be reviewed by the Legal Ade team and if it complies with the terms, the youngster will receive the exact amount to cover the permit or fine, up to $300.00*. (Visit for complete details.)

As you can guess, there’s a social media twist to the program, as well. Every re-tweet the Country Time Legal-Ade video below receives, Country Time will donate $1 (up to $500,000) to help kids next year and beyond.

(Note: If you don’t see the video here, click to and re-tweet this tweet on the @CountryTime Twitter account.)

Photos: Facetime, Twitter, Country Time Lemonade

How to Charge Your Smart Phone When Your Hotel Room ‘Seems’ to Have no USB Jacks Thu, 12 Jul 2018 17:49:30 +0000

I’ve been traveling a lot recently and have grown frustrated with the lack of hotel room USB jacks necessary to recharge my iPhone and other devices. J.D. Biersdorfer of the shares some tips for emergency charging when it seems like there is no place to plug.

TV Input-Output Jacks

First | Look for USB jacks on your TV

No, these jacks aren’t on your TV to serve as a re-charger, but for reasons like displaying photos on your TV. However, on many TVs, those USB plugs can supply a small amount of power to gadgets connected with a USB cable. According to Biersdorfer, “Phone manufacturers recommend that you charge your phone’s battery with the cable and electrical adapter that came with the device, and you use other options at your own risk. However, travelers who remembered their phone’s USB cables but forgot their wall charger cubes have been tapping power from functioning television USB ports for years.”

If the television has a functioning USB port on the back,
you can probably get enough power from it to juice your phone in a pinch.

However… | The phone’s battery won’t charge as quickly as it does with your standard power adapter and the television may have to be on. But the TV’s USB port can do in a pinch if you have no other options and the hotel’s front desk does not have a charger to lend you.

A warning about those built-in hotel room USB ports | Some hotels include USB ports in the rooms. However,  some security experts have advised against “juice jacking” — not plugging a USB cable directly into a public USB jack because of the slim chance of data theft or malware.

Best advice | Always keep a spare travel charger tucked in your suitcase.

Also on

13 Ways to Keep Your Laptop’s Battery Going and Going


Photos | GettyImages

Americans Rank Military and Small Business as Nation’s Two Most Trusted Institutions | 2018 Fri, 06 Jul 2018 23:58:38 +0000

While American’s overall trust in national institutions has fallen to historically low levels, three of the 15 institutions tested annually in the Gallup confidence study remain at their long-held positions atop the list: (1) The Military, (2) Small Business, and (3) Police.

Highlights of the  “Gallup American “Confidence in U.S. Institutions, 2018” 

  • Americans’ average confidence in the nation’s major governmental, economic and societal institutions has leveled off at a historical low point.
  • Not only are the military, small business, and police, the most trust institutions, they are the only three institutions that receive higher confidence ratings from a majority of Americans.
  • The 12 other institutions are trusted by less than 50% of Americans.
  • If you’re looking for some positive metric in the annual research, here’s one: Compared to previous years, the distrust of American institutions didn’t get worse.

GettyImage | USS Constellation returns home from Persian Gulf area, 2003.

Percentage of Americans who trust the following institutions either “a great deal” or “quite a lot.”

74% | Military*
67% | Small Business*
54% | Police*
38% | Church/Organized Religion
37% | The Presidency
37% | Supreme Court
36% | Medical System
30% | Banks
29% | Public Schools
26% | Organized Labor
25% | Big Business
23% | Newspapers
22% | Criminal Justice System
20% | TV News
11% | Congress

*Trusted by a majority of Americans

Source | Gallup “Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Institutions, 2018”, June 1-13, 2018

A Mid-Week Fourth of July Still Gives Retailers Something to Celebrate | 2018 Tue, 03 Jul 2018 14:26:17 +0000

Americans are expected to spend $6.9 billion on food for Fourth of July cookouts and picnics tomorrow, according to the annual survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insight & Analytics. That’s down from last year’s record $7.1 billion as fewer people say they will turn out for the Wednesday holiday but is still the second-highest amount in the history of the survey and per-person spending is up. “With the holiday falling in the middle of the week, a few less Americans will be free to celebrate and that affects spending totals,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “But those who are celebrating by attending or hosting a cookout or picnic, are actually spending more, and retailers will be ready with red-white-and-blue decorations, apparel, and food.”

216 million (87%) |Americans who plan to observe Independence Day
153 million (62%) |Planning a cookout or picnic
$75.35 |Average purchases of food items per person
106 million | Take part in a community celebration or fireworks
30 million |  Attend a parade
31 million | 
Travel out of town
62% | (Percentage of Americans who already… ) own an American flag
51% |
(…) own patriotic apparel like a T-shirt or hat
38% |
(…) own patriotic decorations
27% |
(…) plan to purchase additional patriotic merchandise
44% |
Percentage of consumer ages 18-24 who plan on purchasing patriotic merchandise

Parade photo | Getty
Fireworks photo |

How to Apply for Amazon’s New Delivery-Partner Startup Business Program Mon, 02 Jul 2018 17:27:58 +0000

On Thursday (June 28, 2018), Amazon announced the launch of a “Delivery Service Partner” program intended to help individuals start and grow their own independent businesses by delivering Amazon packages. According to Amazon, successful owners can earn as much as $300,000 in annual profit operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles. Here is an overview of the program and how to apply.

Overview of Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner program

Amazon has a challenge. One of the keys to the continuation of its rapid growth is to have multiple means to deliver products to its customers. (Remember the drones?) On its surface, this new idea sounds like a perfect solution to an obvious challenge. And it borrows tried-and-true elements of various pre-existing business models ranging from independent contracting relationships to franchising to traditional outsourcing. But with a dramatic twist: One of the largest companies in the world wants to be your customer which means these small companies start off, day one, with a solution to one of a new company’s most significant challenges: attracting customers.

Here are some highlights of the program

  • Amazon will take an active role in helping interested business owners start, set up and manage their own delivery business.
  • According to Amazon, successful owners can earn as much as $300,000 in annual profit operating a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles.
  • Amazon says individual owners can build their business knowing they will have the following:
    • Delivery volume from Amazon
    • Access to the company’s sophisticated delivery technology
    • Hands-on training
    • Discounts on a suite of assets and services, including vehicle leases and comprehensive insurance.

Beware of the risks

There is no such thing as a “risk-free” small business.  While Amazon is a juggernaut of entrepreneurship, they try out many concepts that don’t work out. This may be a great opportunity, but not for you.  You should review any opportunity like this with trusted financial and legal advisors. Here’s something Amazon is doing that will help you understand the risks: Part of the application process is a three-week boot-camp to help you understand what running such a business would be like.

The delivery service partner program is another example of the “coopetition between
small businesses and Amazon we’ve covered for the past five years.

Doesn’t Amazon already have something like this?

The new venture is separate from an existing on-demand delivery service called Amazon Flex (previously called Prime Now). Amazon Flex will continue to operate in its traditional on-demand marketplace style (like “uber eats” and countless others). In fact, Amazon has many examples of on-demand economy marketplaces in addition to Amazon Flex, including Amazon Home Services.

Where to find requirements and how to apply

Amazon delivery partner brochure

Promotional video provided by Amazon

Photos |

9 Summer Small Businesses a Young Teen Can Start Mon, 25 Jun 2018 06:46:00 +0000

Last Thursday was summer solstice (6.21.2018), the first day of summer. This means it’s officially time for teenagers who haven’t been hired for a summer job to create their own jobs. Around here, we call that, “starting a small business.” But parents call it, “stop texting on that thing and go find a job.” Here are some small business ideas that can get teens thinking about jobs they can create for themselves. Some can turn into year-round gigs. Some can last a lifetime.

(First published on June 21, 2017. Updated: July 27, 2018.)

1 | Lawn Care/Landscaping

While it’s probably too late to start mowing lawns this summer (mowing relationships started in the spring), homeowners and renters always need weeding and light landscape maintenance.

Talent or experience necessary: If you’ve never worked in your own yard, skip this suggestion.
Equipment needed: A few tools with names like clippers and loppers.
Marketing: Word of mouth, door-to-door, social media, and handing out fliers

2 | House/Pet Sitting/Walking

Pet owners will pay for just about anything that makes them feel that Fido is in good hands. If your parents will let you (and you don’t break any laws), the real money is in providing overnight care of pets when a family is on vacation.

Talent or training necessary: Love of pets and knowledge of handling them
Equipment needed: A few leashes and a mobile phone.
Marketing: Word of mouth, door-to-door, social media, and handing out fliers. Send lots of photos to the vacationing family showing Fido having fun.

3 | Tech Helper

If you are a computer programmer or can fix an iPhone some has dropped and broken, you probably already have a job (subscription required). However, there are lots of people in your neighborhood who would love to have their digital devices organized, updated, explained. And they’d love some simple instructions from a helpful teen.

Talent or training necessary: You must be confident of your ability to provide maintenance, instruction, and help.
Equipment needed: If you need to ask, skip to the next job
Marketing: Social media, fliers, community bulletin boards

4 | Rubbish Pickup and General Hauling Services

Whether it is old furniture, debris from construction projects, or electronic junk that needs to be recycled, there is always a demand for rubbish removal.

Talent or training necessary: Awareness of regulations and fees related to the disposal of specific types of debris.
Equipment needed: A truck
Marketing: Cold calling construction sites. Social media. Fliers.

5 | Parent Helper

A good option for younger teens, this is a great way to get started and train as a sitter. Watch or play with children while a parent is in the home getting other work done.

Talent or training necessary: Experience as a babysitter (or being an older sibling) is a help. Good relationships with adults.
Equipment needed: Bring along some fun things to play with.
Marketing: Call or visit the parents in your neighborhood Do a great job and the word will spread.

6 | Transcriptionist

If you are skilled at quickly transcribing (typing something recorded or somebody’s handwriting), you can provide a transcription service. There is plenty of online competition when it comes to transferring dictation to typed content, your potential customers might prefer to use you instead of a technology they may not be familiar with.

Talent or training necessary: Ability to type fast and accurately. People often have old papers, a family history for example, that they would like to be transcribed, but just haven’t got around to it
Equipment needed: A computer
Marketing: Neighborhood door-to-door, social media, fliers.

7 | Print Photo Digitizing

People have hundreds of photos in shoeboxes and photo albums. They don’t want to ship them away for fear of losing them. Provide same day delivery for small batches of photos and you’ll have a competitive advantage.

Talent or experience necessary: Not much.
Equipment needed: At first, use a drugstore photo center for your scanning. They will save photos to an account or disc. You can then download those file to a service like Dropbox.  As your business grows, you can purchase a flatbed scanner. You must have transportation for pick up and delivery. 
Neighborhood door-to-door promotion, social media, fliers.

8 | Car Washer

Wash cars for your friends’ parents or anyone you know.

Talent or experience necessary: Know the precise way to wash a car. (Watch how-tos on YouTube.) Be able to explain in great detail the way you will wash the car.
Equipment needed: Be professional in the types of materials you use. A car is extremely expensive and your entire summer could be ruined if you harm a car’s paint.
Neighborhood door-to-door promotion, social media, fliers. Create an album of photos of cars you’ve washed and explain how you did the job.

9 | Arbitrage Reseller

Okay, so “arbitrage reseller” sounds like you need a business degree and certification to be one. But all it means is this: Find something that you can acquire or purchase that you can then turn around and sell for more than you paid for it. (Also called, “profit”)

Book Reseller

If you’ve already started college and have textbooks to sell, you can make good money reselling them to sites like BookScouter or Amazon Textbook Buyback. If you don’t have textbooks to sell, start scouring used bookstores or yard sales for volumes in good condition, and then sell them online at a profit.

Toy Reseller

Just like book reselling, toy reselling involves selling toys online at a profit. If you already have a bunch of old toys to sell, great! If not, it’s time to hit the yard sales.

Clothing Reseller

Yes, you can resell clothes just like books and toys


Also on

Neighbors, Communities, Even a Big Company, are Stepping in to Support Kids’ Curbside Startups

Supreme Court Rules That States May Collect Sales Tax on Out-of-State E-commerce Thu, 21 Jun 2018 22:34:35 +0000

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday (June 21,2018) that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence. Brick-and-mortar small businesses have long complained they are disadvantaged by having to charge sales taxes while many of their online competitors do not. And states have said they are missing out on tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. There are other small businesses that sell their products online who have argued that the cost of processing taxes for thousands of different jurisdictions is prohibitive. Over the years, however, sales-tax automation software like Avalara and TaxJar has been developed as solutions for charging, processing and paying sales taxes. 

See earlier coverage of South Dakota v. Wayfair

The ruling overturned the 1992 Supreme Court decision Quill Corporation v. North Dakota which had determined the Constitution prohibited states from requiring businesses to collect sales taxes unless they have a substantial connection to the state.

Determing that Quill was outdated during the era of e-commerce, South Dakota enacted a law that required all merchants to collect a 4.5 percent sales tax if they had more than $100,000 in annual sales or more than 200 individual transactions in the state. State officials sued three large online retailers — Wayfair,, and Newegg — for violating the law.

point of sale system


Justice Anthony Kennedy | In writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy singled out Wayfair, an online retailer of home goods and furniture. “(Wayfair’s) advertising seeks to create an image of beautiful, peaceful homes, but it also says that ‘one of the best things about buying through Wayfair is that we do not have to charge sales tax….What Wayfair ignores in its subtle offer to assist in tax evasion is that creating a dream home assumes solvent state and local governments.”:

Using the Quill decision as precedent, Lower courts had ruled for the online retailers in the South Dakota case. On Thursday, Justice Kennedy wrote that the world has changed since 1992, when mail-order sales totaled $180 billion. “Last year,” he wrote, “e-commerce retail sales alone were estimated at $453.5 billion. Combined with traditional remote sellers, the total exceeds half a trillion dollars.”

Justice Kennedy said the decision left open the possibility that some transactions were so small and scattered that no taxes should be collected. The court also did not decide whether states may seek sales taxes retroactively.

Chief Justice John Roberts | Writing for the minority, Justice Roberts said the ruling will impose small businesses who sell online with new burdens in trying to comply with a tangle of tax laws. “Texas taxes sales of plain deodorant at 6.25 percent but imposes no tax on deodorant with antiperspirant,” Roberts wrote. “Illinois categorizes Twix and Snickers bars — chocolate-and-caramel confections usually displayed side-by-side in the candy aisle — as food and candy, respectively (Twix have flour; Snickers don’t), and taxes them differently.”

“One vitalizing effect of the internet has been connecting small…to potential buyers across the nation,” he wrote. “People starting a business selling their embroidered pillowcases or carved decoys can offer their wares throughout the country — but probably not if they have to figure out the tax due on every sale.”

What about

While is by far the largest online retailer in the U.S., it wasn’t directly involved in the current court review. In the past, Amazon used Quill to avoid collecting sales tax at all. The company has gradually changed its position as it has built warehouses — and thus, created a greater physical presence — all over the country. The company now says it backs a nationwide approach that would relieve retailers from dealing with a patchwork of state laws. When selling its own inventory, Amazon charges sales tax in every state that imposes one, but about half of its sales involve goods owned by third-party merchants. For those items, the company says it’s up to the sellers to collect any taxes, and many don’t.

Correction | In 1992, U.S. mail-order sales were estimated to be $180 billion. An earlier version of the article used the incorrect number, $180 million.

Find more information regarding the
South Dakota v. 
Wayfair decision at

Also on

Supreme Court Reconsiders if Online Retailers Can Continue to Avoid Collecting Sales Tax | 2018


Photos | iStock

Stop Using These Easy to Hack Password Practices & What to Do Instead | 2018 Thu, 21 Jun 2018 07:00:23 +0000

Using a database of 61.5 million anonymous passwords, researches at the password management service Dashlane uncovered some troubling password patterns. The researchers examined the data for patterns of simple mistakes that continue to be made by people who use passwords in daily life.

“It is difficult for humans to memorize unique passwords for the 150+ accounts the average person has,“ said Dr. Gang Wang, Virginia Tech computer scientist who used the list for academic research. “Inevitably, people reuse or slightly modify them, which is a dangerous practice.”

Troubling passwords found by the researchers

1 | Pervasive “password walking”

A high frequency of passwords containing combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that are adjacent to one another on the keyboard. This practice, known as “Password Walking,” simply uses the pinky or ring finger on their left hand to type their entire password. In addition to well-known password walking like “qwerty” and “123456,” Dashlane’s researchers uncovered several other combinations that are frequently used:

  • 1q2w3e4r
  • 1qaz2wsx
  • 1qazxsw2
  • zaq12wsx
  • !qaz2wsx
  • 1qaz@wsx

Problematic Passwords: Password Walking

2 | Love and hate

The researchers uncovered passwords related to love, as well as aggressive and vulgar language. The ten most frequent love/hate-related passwords:

  1. iloveyou
  2. f*ckyou
  3. a**hole
  4. f*ckoff
  5. iloveme
  6. trustno1
  7. beautiful
  8. ihateyou
  9. bullsh*t
  10. lovelove

3 | Branded passwords

The ten most frequent brand-related passwords:

  1. myspace (a holdover from a previous era)
  2. mustang
  3. linkedin
  4. ferrari
  5. playboy
  6. mercedes
  7. cocacola
  8. snickers
  9. corvette
  10. skittles

4 | Music and movies

Pop culture references are prevalent. The ten most frequent pop culture passwords:

  1. superman
  2. pokemon
  3. slipknot
  4. starwars
  5. metallica
  6. nirvana
  7. blink182
  8. spiderman
  9. greenday
  10. rockstar

Dashlane’s suggestions for improving your passwords

  • Use a unique password for every online account
  • Generate passwords that exceed the minimum of 8 characters
  • Create passwords with a mix of case-sensitive letters, numbers, and special symbols
  • Avoid using passwords that contain common phrases, slang, places, or names
  • Use a password manager to help generate, store, and manage your passwords
  • Never use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection