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Ask SmallBiz

Ask the Expert: How do I make my business more energy-efficient?

Ask the Expert: Loan Options

A reader asks, "What are my best loan options if I have limited qualifications for financing?"

Ask the Expert: Picking a Restaurant Location

A reader asks, "I want to open my own restaurant. How do I pick the right location?" Jo McGarry Curran, founder of MoJo, offers her advice.

Ask the Expert: Retirement Plans

A reader asks, "What are the best retirement plans for the self-employed?" This month's expert, David S. Chang, Chairman and CEO of Chang Holding Co., offers his advice.

Ask the Expert: Flood Insurance

A reader asks, "I heard the National Flood Insurance Program is moving away from 'subsidized' rates. What does this mean?"

Ask the Expert: Franchising on the mainland

A reader asks, "My business is successful in the Islands. How do I know when I'm ready to franchise on the mainland?" Mark Duda, principal with RevoluSun, a Hawaii company with franchises in...

Ask the Expert: Online Videos for Marketing

A reader asks, "I feel like my business is far behind the new media and social media marketing trends. What can I do to keep up?"

Ask the Expert: Independent Investigations

An employee may have stolen a lot of money from our company, but we're not sure. What should we do?

Ask the Expert: Managing Delinquent Accounts

A reader asks, "Delinquent accounts are hurting my business. What can I do to get this problem under control?"

Ask the Expert: Motivating Salespeople to Sell More

New salespeople may outsell your company veterans because they are enthusiastic, fresh and still believe everyone is going to buy. How do you maintain this attitude?

Ask the Expert: Business Payment Options

What is the best way to accept payment from customers?

Ask the Expert: Setting Company Goals

Our company is having trouble turning a list of ideas into a plan. How can we get more focused and achieve our goals?

Ask the Expert: Preparing Your Successor

I founded my family business and am five years away from retiring, but I feel my daughter lacks the commitment to run the business. Any suggestions?

Ask the Expert: Buying a Home While Owning a Business

I'm a small business owner. What should I do to ensure I'm in the best position to finance a new home?

Ask the Expert: Preventing Financial Fraud

How can you protect myself from Automated Clearing House fraud? Our expert provides security tips to protect businesses against hackers.

Ask the Expert: Bring Your Own Device to Work

Beau Monday, Information Security Director at Hawaiian Telcom, suggests safeguards to take if employees are using their own devices on the job

Ask the Expert: Should I Buy Gym Memberships for My Staff?

It might seem like an added expense, but company well programs have a proven ROI.

Ask SmallBiz: Advice on Effective Selling

What's the magic behind professional selling?

Ask SmallBiz: Design Your Logo

I need a new logo for my small business. What should I do to ensure I get the most effective one?

Ask SmallBiz: Building Teamwork on Construction Projects

I am involved in a construction project whose contract provides performance-based penalties and rewards. What can I do to help get all the companies to work together?

Ask SmallBiz: Expansion

I have a successful company and am thinking of expanding to another island. What should I consider before taking the leap?

Ask SmallBiz: Grid Saturation

I'd like to put in solar-electric system to reduce my business' energy costs, but I'm concerned about grid saturation. How does it affect me?

Ask SmallBiz: Business Expenses

What's the best way to pay for my business expenses?

Ask SmallBiz: Exit Packages

One of the key, long-term managers at our family-owned company - someone who is not a family member - is asking for an "exit package" in the event she is terminated or decides to leave the company...

Ask SmallBiz: Leadership

Why do some leaders fail?

Ask SmallBiz: Hurricane Preparedness

How should I prepare my small business for hurricane season?

Ask SmallBiz: Engaging Employees

It seems like a paycheck isn't enough to keep my employees fully engaged in customer service and efficiency. What can I do?

Ask SmallBiz: Solar Tax Benefits for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, what are the tax benefits of installing a photovoltaic system?

Ask SmallBiz: Buying Commercial Property

Dennis Wong of Hawaii National Bank explains how to buy commercial property

Ask SmallBiz: Requesting Public Records for Your Business

A state agency compiled information that might be helpful to my small business. How do I get it?

Ask SmallBiz: Recruiting

I need to hire a general manager, but no one working for me now has the right stuff. How do I find the best person?

Ask SmallBiz: Conversation Starter

It feels tacky to introduce myself and start talking about my business. How can I get over my shyness?

Ask SmallBiz: Selling a Business

Our children have no interest in taking over our business, so my wife and I have decided to sell it. How should we proceed?

Ask SmallBiz: Insurance Coverage

How much business income insurance coverage do I need?

Ask SmallBiz: Picking an HR Company

What should I look for when choosing an HR company?

Ask SmallBiz: Mediation Clause

As I read through the fine print of our new office lease, I noticed it stipulated that mediation would be used in case of a dispute. Should I agree to this?

Ask SmallBiz: Online Reputation

I seem to have no control over the things that are said about my business online. What can I do?

Ask Small Biz: Facebook For Business

I set up a Facebook page for my store. What should I do to engage customers and bring them in?

Ask SmallBiz

I have insurance for water damage, so why am I not covered for a tsunami?

Ask SmallBiz: Paying for a PV System

As a small-business owner, what are my options to pay for a photovoltaic system?

Ask SmallBiz: Selling the Company

I’m nearing retirement and interested in selling my business. How do I determine the value of my company and maximize its value before selling?

Ask SmallBiz: Intellectual Property

Our employees have specialized knowledge and are often trying new things. How can we harness that expertise to add value to our small business?

Ask SmallBiz: Creating a Succession Plan

My wife and I plan to retire in about 10 years. What should we do to get ready to turn over our business to our children?

Ask SmallBiz: Protecting Your Data

My business would be a disaster zone if our data were lost or stolen. What should I do to protect it?

Ask SmallBiz: Creating a Team Environment

We have great employees, but everyone seems to operate from a different agenda. How can we create a team approach?

Ask SmallBiz: Successful Women

How women can succeed in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry

Ask SmallBiz: Leadership Training

We have some great managers in our company but still need to improve our leadership skills. What do you suggest?

Ask SmallBiz: Retirement Planning

I own a small business. How do I go about planning for my retirement and for my (few) employees?

Ask SmallBiz: Remodeling a Store and Being Green

What environmental considerations should we be aware of when remodeling our store?

Ask SmallBiz: How do I invest wisely?

I’ve just sold some assets and am looking for good investments, but I don’t want to be taken in by the next Bernie Madoff. What should I watch for?

Ask SmallBiz: Collecting your debts and solving a cash-flow issue

A lot of customers are long overdue on paying me. I’m reluctant to take them to court, but I’m forced to borrow to pay my employees and bills. What do you suggest?

Ask SmallBiz: Insurance coverage for your business

I’ve worked hard to build my business and I don’t want to lose it in a disaster. How do I know if I’ve got the right insurance coverage?

Ask SmallBiz: Paying taxes when low on cash

My small business has really slowed down, and I am worried that I will not have sufficient cash to pay all of the taxes I will owe. What can I do?

Ask SmallBiz: How do Public Relations and Advertising fit together?

How do public relations and advertising fit together?

Ask SmallBiz: Securities Backed Loan

I own a successful architectural firm in Honolulu. I’d like to expand my business but am having difficulty finding a lender. I have capital assets, including real estate and a portfolio of stocks...

Ask SmallBiz: Transferring Ownership

We are growing our business and want to make sure that we are able to perpetuate it long after we are no longer active in the company. We have no children, so what are our options to ensure the...

Ask SmallBiz: Getting loan approval

I’m a small business owner and I’ve heard about the new ARC loans. How do I get approved for these loans?

Ask SmallBiz: Funding

Our small business develops content and we are looking for funding to innovate its delivery, such as over the Internet and mobile devices. Where can a small company find funding?

Ask SmallBiz: Personal Branding

How do you build a personal brand?

Ask SmallBiz: Dividing Family Stock

What should the owners of a family business consider when dividing shares of stock among their children?

Ask SmallBiz: Budgeting

I have a very small business with shallow pockets. Given the current economy, I am thinking of saving the money I originally designated for marketing and staff development/training for a rainy day....

Ask SmallBiz: Succeed in a slow economy

What types of businesses historically have done well in a slow-growth economy, and what kind of tips can you provide that will improve my chances for success if I want to start a business this year?

Ask SmallBiz: The good and bad for business in Hawaii

How small businesses strive despite bureaucracy, and where Hawaii stands amongst the nation for business.

The Pitch: Citizen Economists

Citizen Economists is a magazine for non-economists. Ten unique regular writers, each with varying educational and professional backgrounds, provide economic analyses of the different industries...

Ask SmallBiz: Tech Savvy

How to determine your business’ technology needs, and office equipment infrastructure.

Ask SmallBiz: Search for a Financial Partner

My engineering design firm is blooming. While I’m comfortable with the tech development, I need a financial partner to manage its growth. How do I begin my search?

The Pitch

The Pitch: Taking the Work Out of Play

Venati Games pitches an idea of merging casual gaming with virtual worlds in a new genre, hopefully combining the best of both worlds.

The Pitch: Self-help Unleashed

Unleashed Technologies markets self-help products via infomercials. The faith-based product provides motivational and applicable advice paired with real-life stories.

The Pitch: Citizen Economists

Citizen Economists is a magazine for non-economists. Ten unique regular writers, each with varying educational and professional backgrounds, provide economic analyses of the different industries...

The Pitch: Grand Plans for Petite Market

Allisonizu designs petite clothing for women 5 feet 4 inches and under.

The Pitch: Makaha Studios

Makaha Studios’ edge in the media market is that it can craft honest, heartfelt audiovisual messages by Hawaii’s most creative youth.

5 Steps

5 Steps to Getting your emails read

Business-writing expert Gail Honda shares tips to ensure that your e-mails get noticed

5 Steps to Networking

5 Steps to Winning Through Your Team

5 Steps to Publishing a Book to Win Clients

What's the best way to attract more clients? Small-business consultant says write and publish your book and give it away to prospects.

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Public Speaker

Motivational speaker and speaker trainer Annette Lynch shares 5 steps to help you overcome nerves and engage your target audience.

5 Steps to Understanding Arbitration Clauses

Increasingly, small-business contracts include arbitration clauses that seek to limit potential lawsuits. Mark Davis, a partner with Davis Levin Livingston, offers these tips to help you understand...

5 Steps to Becoming the Master of Your Time

Once you have a vision for your life that includes your main values and whatever else is most important to you, then take these steps to ensure that vision comes true.

5 Steps to Creating a Risk-Management Plan

You have a business idea and are mapping out your business plan. Here are five steps to ensure that appropriate risk management is included in your overall business plan.

5 Steps to Creating a Clear Sense of Purpose

When properly done, mission statements inspire people by giving their work meaning and proclaiming the organization's purpose. However, some have fundamental flaws. Here are some tips to make your...

5 Steps to Negotiating Conflict

Conflict negotiation arises in many contexts, both business and personal, but successful negotiation does not just happen. Here are tips to help you negotiate a successful resolution.

5 Steps to Starting an eCommerce Business

Maui-based Jennifer Varner, the founder of, helps people start their own ecommerce companies

5 Steps to Creating a Culture of Innovation

Management consultant Vino Mehta offers this guide to creating a culture of innovation

5 Steps to a successful media interview

Lori Teranishi explains how to handle your next media interview

5 Steps to Writing a Business Plan

When starting a business, writing a business plan should be your first priority.

5 Steps to a successful business meeting

Dan Bower, general manager of the Plaza Club, offers some tips for your next business meeting.

5 Steps to Becoming a Sustainable Business

Scott Cooney, adjunct professor at the University of Hawaii's Shidler College of Business, offers strategies on making sustainability work for your business.

5 Steps to a More Civil Workplace

Penelope Paik of Civility International offers a few tips on creating a better work environment with your colleagues.

5 Steps to Creating a Mobile App

Could a mobile app improve your company's customer service?

5 Steps to Social Media Success

Get the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google and Foursquare.

5 Steps to Accessing Capital

SBA's Elizabeth Echols provides tips on how to obtain financing

5 Steps To Email Marketing

Damian Davila, online marketing consultant and CEO of, shares tips for smart email marketing.

5 steps to marketing in Japan

5 Steps to Applying for a Business Loan

First Hawaiian Bank vice chairman Ray Ono explains how to get a business loan.

5 Steps to Getting a Liquor License in Honolulu

Read our how-to guide and avoid repeat visits

5 steps to Writing a Press Release

5 Steps to Private Banking

High-net-worth and business owners can have their own personal banker.

5 Steps to Better Public Speaking

Mark Blackburn, treasurer of Honolulu’s Downtown Business Association Toastmasters, offers tips to help you be an effective speaker.

5 Steps to Make the Most out of Yelp

Here's how to make Yelp your ally and not your enemy.

5 steps to Planning an Event

Philip Richardson of Current Affairs gives these tips on getting the most out of your events.

5 Steps to Start Investing in Real Estate

Kim Kiyosaki bought a single rental home in 1989 and has 2,000 today. Here’s how she did it.

5 Steps to Saving on Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Bob Dove of HEMIC shares his tips on saving on insurance premiums

5 Steps to Buying an Existing Business

Gabe Lee, executive vice president of commercial marketing at American Savings Bank, explains a little about what to act upon when purchasing a business

5 Steps to Making Meetings Work

Attorney Elizabeth Kent of the Hawaii Judiciary’s Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution discusses how to make meetings more efficient.

5 Steps to Handling the Media

Hawaii presentation coach Pam Chambers gives tips on working a television interview

5 Steps to Making a Million Dollars

There's a reason some people are wealthy: they learn to manage their time, resources and passions.

5 steps to Build Trust In the Workplace

According to Kalei Inn, principal consultant of Kalei Inn, Ph.D. and Associates,the key to a peaceful work environment is trust.

5 steps to Boost Web Traffic

Mary Fastenau, president of StarrTech Interactive, explains how to drive more eyeballs to your Web site for little or no cost.

5 Steps to Motivating Employees

Nicholas Mitsakos, chairman of Arcadia Holdings Inc., explains how to keep workers excited for the workweek.

5 Steps to Prevent Credit-Card Processing Rip-offs

Matt Sakauye, senior consultant at credit-card processing firm Gravity Payments, tells you what you need to know if your business plans to accept credit cards.

5 Steps to Stopping Fraud

Protect yourself from fraud with these tips from Bank of Hawaii's Brian Ishikawa.

5 Steps to Getting a Building Permit

Nancy Kaya, owner of Kaya Permit Processors and an 18-year veteran of the business, offers these tips to homeowners and business owners on how to make the process of obtaining a business permit...

5 Steps to Boosting Your Cash Flow

Every business owner should map out a cash-flow strategy and be diligent about following it, especially in these troubled economic times. Here are some easy tactics involving minimal investment to...

5 Steps to Exporting Internationally

Establishing your product in a foreign market takes more than just international postage. Export management firm Tradewinds Global’s president Kevin Kraft offers these steps to exporting.

5 steps to Cutting Costs in a Soft Economy

Local economists and business industry leaders are advising companies across the state to tighten their financial belts for an economic downturn that could last through 2009.

5 Steps for Handling Layoffs

For small-business owners, weathering a recession sometimes means having to layoff employees. While staff reductions are never easy, there are a few things business owners can do to maintain...

5 Steps to Building an Effective Team

How many times have you heard the cliche “There is no ‘I’ in team?” Well, state Sen. Sam Slom doesn’t believe it.

5 Steps to Cost-Effective Marketing

Chief Manini Jim Levine, or Manini Marketing, offers five cost-effective steps to better marketing.

5 Steps for Handling Angry Customers

Customer service can be one of the most rewarding aspects of running a business — except when you’re de­lt an irate patron or client.

5 Steps for Creating Brand Equity

People don’t blow their noses on facial tissues, they use Kleenex. No one uses an Internet search engine, they Google it

5 Steps to an Effective Meeting

How to make your meetings more engaging and more efficient

5 Steps for Handling Independent Contractors

While it might lower labor costs, calling someone an independent contractor when they’re really an employee can lead to legal hot water.

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned: Business Philanthropy

Danny Boren, founder of Maui-based Skyline Eco Adventures, talks about the importance of philanthropy.

Lessons Learned: Launching a New Product

What started two years ago as a healthy vitamin and mineral water to combat jet lag has turned into Aloha Friday Beverages, which are designed to keep everyone healthy, every day.

Lessons Learned: Finding Partners

Scott Mercer of Volta Industries explains how his company expanded with the help of partners

Lessons Learned: Huggo's in Kailua-Kona

Executive chef and butcher at Huggo's restaurant explain where they get their fresh fish

Lessons Learned: Starting Anew

Eric Rose of Morning Glass Coffee and Cafe on coming up with his business idea, hiring the best and keeping it simple and local.

Lessons Learned: Housing Lessons

Terry Brooks of Housing Solutions talks about creating Sea Winds Apartments, a 50-unit project completed using government funding.

Lessons Learned: Overseas Lessons

James Freeman of FSC Architecture + Planning talks about size, technology and what it takes to succeed abroad.

Lessons Learned: Start up Lessons

Shawna Emery and Danni Fry of D&S Fry Plumbing explain growing their young business and working in a male-dominated field.

Lessons Learned: Expanding in the Pacific

Lyon Associates, Inc. is a Honolulu-based, father-and-son engineering firm with projects from Micronesia to Bahrain.

Adapting to Customer’s Needs

Evan Fujimoto of Graham Builders explains how conducting seminars helped identify customers' needs

Lessons Learned: Franchising Lessons

David Lelm of Maaco Auto Body Shop in Kailua-Kona talks about the transition from independent company to franchise

Launching a Business

Matthew Bittick talks about opening Bishop Street Commercial after the Great Recession

Launching a Business Group

As the Kakaako area transforms from industrial to work-live-play, these business owners found a need to organize and plan

Expansion Lessons

Nella Media Group's Chinatown Newspaper started in Honolulu, has expanded to Portland, and wants to add more cities

Connectivity Lessons

Architects Pacific bought all its employees iPhones, and now the team is more efficient, says the CEO

Building Customer Loyalty

Despite being less than a year old, Luibuenos Restaurant in Haleiwa already has a loyal following

Adaptive Lessons

Teri Edmonds changed careers and learned the lost art of shoe repair on Maui

Making a Hobby Your Business

Dustin Tester fell in love with surfing as a young girl. Here's how she turned her passion into a small business.

Exporting Lessons

When the economy tanked, Douglas Smith's business took off via exporting.

Mediation Lessons

John Bates’ job as a mediator is to help find common ground.

Customer Service Lessons

Jeremy Leonard of Pacific Pump and Power explains how his company takes customer feedback and turns it into positive results

Export Lessons

The CEO of Hawaiian Springs talks about rebranding his bottled water and selling it to the world

iPhone App Lessons

Daniel Leuck of software development company Ikayzo Inc. talks about the potential for mobile phone applications.

Competition Lessons

When Whole Foods came to town, Down to Earth differentiated itself and carved its niche

Tech-Buying Lessons

Jmi Bassett of Pacific Dental Implant Solutions finds that doing your research and finding a good consultant can save money when buying high-tech equipment

Adaptability Lessons

Retailer Audrey Fu used to run two trendy boutiques, but now she takes her products directly to her customers' homes

Family-Business Lessons

The secret to operating a successful family business is that the company will only function well if the family functions well first.

Marketing Lessons

Jon Jepson knows the Hawaiian seas like the back of his hand, but when he began marketing for Makani, the $1.8 million catamaran he helped hand-build, Jepson found himself testing new waters.

Telecommuting Lessons

Louis Darnell explains the benefits of telecommuting, which helps businesses save money and improve their employees’ quality of life.

Tech-Startup Lessons

Ben Leong founded Bluewater Multimedia so local graphic artists could have a place to work, but it wasn't easy. Here's his advice on starting a tech business.

Lobbying Lessons

Melissa Pavlicek, state director the of National Federation of Independent Business, fights for small businesses.

Changing-course Lessons

Max Botticelli M.D., president and CEO of UHA, says the company originally had plans to be a university-based practice of medicine but now supplies health insurance.

Success Lessons

Bev Gannon owns two thriving Maui restaurants, Haliimaile General Store and Joe’s Bar, a catering business, and is also the corporate chef for Hawaiian Airlines. She tells us what led to her...

Business-owning Lessons

Geoff Lee’s been a glassblower for 17 years – since his high school days at Punahou School, actually. But as a business owner, he’s relatively fresh to the field. In 2005, Lee opened a...

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SmallBiz Awards

2011 SmallBiz Success Awards

Here's our finalists for Best New Business, Family Business, Most Innovative, Lifetime Achievement, Nonprofit and Community Service Awards.

2010 Smallbiz Success Awards

We profile our six 2010 winners of the Hawaii Business SmallBiz Success Awards

2008 SmallBiz Success Awards

What do a 50-year-old sausage manufacturer in Kapolei, a guitar retailer in Honolulu and a diving specialist in Kona have in common? All are recipients of the 2008 SB Success Awards!

2008 SmallBiz Success Awards

What do a 50-year-old sausage manufacturer in Kapolei, a guitar retailer in Honolulu and a diving specialist in Kona have in common? specialist in Kona have in common? All are recipients of the...

2007 SmallBiz Success Awards

We profile many high-achieving local small businesses, including Assaggio's and Kamaka Hawaii Ukuleles and more.

2007 SmallBiz Success Awards

Stories of High Achievement featuring many local small businesses, including Assaggio's and Kamaka Hawaii Ukulelees and many more.