Friday, August 18, 2017

12 ridiculous phrases smart people avoid at work

From The Ladders:
“Datafication.” “Operationalize.” “Let’s parking lot this.”

These are just a few of the workplace phrases and words that people found “most ridiculous,” according to recent research.

The American Express OPEN ‘Get Business Done’ Survey, released recently, shows that some employees are just spewing words in the office without really grasping what they mean.

“Have you ever heard a coworker say something like, ‘It ladders up to our overarching framework and optimizes the impactfulness of our deliverables,’ and wondered, ‘HUH?’ You’re not alone,” American Express says, comfortingly.

We are all part of the problem: the research found that 88% of respondents said they use jargon without understanding it, and 64% reported using words and terms like this “multiple times” weekly.

Make no mistake: you do have to break the habit. These words make you look silly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to Use Your Business Plan to Create an Awesome Company Name

From Bplans:

Everyone knows that a business name is important. It is the single most used aspect of your future brand. Ideally, yours will be mentioned by reporters, shared by referrals, and hopefully remembered by customers when the need for your solution arises.

A great name like PayPal can introduce your company, hinting at what makes it unique and interesting. PayPal is a payment solution with an upbeat brand and uniquely easy user experience—their name brilliantly captures this value proposition.

An intriguing name like Uber can help build buzz, causing people to wonder, “What is that?” An emotive name like SalesForce can resonate deeply with potential customers, lending a sense of authority.

Naming is often one of the first business activities where the rubber meets the road—where an idea becomes a reality...

We have discovered that a great name evolves from an excellent business plan. A company that has gone through the process of defining their business by writing a business plan generally has a greater sense of self-awareness than a company that hasn’t.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Sweeney’s Market

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Binghamton SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Al Fargnoli
Sweeney’s Market
Binghamton SBDC

The Binghamton SBDC became aware of the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund administered by the Low Income Investment Fund, which provides financial resources for rural grocery stores to upgrade their store equipment and improve the offerings to their community. 

Advisor Ken Homer consulted Tioga County Economic Development to identify rural grocery stores that might benefit from the program. Al Fargnoli, second generation owner and operator of Sweeney’s Market, was one of those with the potential to benefit from a grant. Sweeney’s Market supports its community’s local rural population, which includes low income, food stamp recipients, WIC recipients (women with children) and senior citizens. With Advisor Homer’s assistance, Al prepared a list of equipment to update his vegetable, dairy, and packaged meat display cases. He also included standalone display cases for fruits and vegetables. It took a year for verification of the business’ customer base, financial stability, and verification of equipment and installation costs. 

At the end of the tedious process, Al was finally awarded a grant for $72,752, which enabled him to purchase the display cases and increase the products he could offer to his customers. In addition, Al invested $60,392 to remodel the store. He installed laminate flooring, painted the facility, added new shelving end caps for display, and expanded his office space. The new equipment, remodeling and refurbishing of the store into a modern and attractive retail space resulted in a 16% increase in sales, and Al added six part-time employees. His store was the largest potential grant recipient in Tioga County to receive approval.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reasons Your Business Should Be on Instagram

From MarketingProfs:

People remember 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and 10% of what they hear, according to an infographic by Instagram service provider Gramlike.

So it's no wonder than Instagram is a popular social media platform, and not just for consumers but for brands as well.

With 90% of Interbrand's "Top 100 Global Brands" on Instagram, and 53% of Instagram users following their favorite brands on the social network, according to the infographic, it's clear that the platform can be valuable when it's used well.

The infographic gives tips on how to accomplish exactly that, such as noting that posts with location tags drive higher engagement than those without, and images with faces receive 38% more likes than those without.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Leveraging Webinars To Build Your Powerhouse Personal Brand

From Forbes:

From talking to fellow coaches, clients and business leaders, it’s clear that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way "careers" are built.

Professionals have enthusiastically embraced the power of personal branding to distinguish themselves in their fields. The traditional resume is far less important than it used to be; recruiters now scour LinkedIn to find potential candidates. And as the 9-to-5 corporate mindset gives way to a more gig-focused mentality, it’s less about who you work for and more about building your own personal brand.

Many of these new platform-savvy thought leaders are embracing public speaking as a powerful way to land new clients. In fact, look at any list of the top names in a particular niche, and you’ll likely find one thing in common: They understand how to use public speaking to strengthen their personal brands...

While live public events can be great, there are some definite drawbacks. Yes, there’s the time commitment and travel expenses, for the speaker as well as the attendees, but don’t forget that in-person events often draw a limited audience for smaller immediate exposure potential. It’s no wonder that the leaders I’ve been talking to about this are huge fans of the power of live and on-demand webinars as guest speaking opportunities.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spending Hasn’t Been This High in Almost a Decade

From eMarketing:

US consumer spending levels are nearly back to where they were before the global financial crisis in 2008, according to new survey data from Gallup.

Those polled spent an average of $109 per day in July, excluding spending on normal household bills and major purchases, such as a home or car. That was the highest figure reported by Gallup since May 2008, when the average hit $114 per day.

Daily average spending by consumers in the US fell precipitously soon after, thanks to the Great Recession.

The new data is something of a contrast to Gallup survey data released in May of this year, which found that 60% of financially worried consumers said they preferred saving to spending.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Twenty Percent of Global Commercial Email Fails to Reach the Inbox

From Business Wire:

One in five commercial emails worldwide fails to reach its intended target, according to the 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report from data solutions provider Return Path. This new research reveals that just 80 percent of email is delivered to the inbox, while the remainder—a full 20 percent—is diverted to spam folders or gets blocked altogether.

The report’s findings are relatively consistent with the company’s 2016 and 2015 benchmarks, which reported a 79 percent global inbox placement rate. While this rate has improved slightly in the past year, the significant percentage of filtered messages means that marketers are still missing out on a valuable opportunity to drive meaningful revenue from the email channel.

"Email remains the most popular and effective channel available to marketers, so it’s more important than ever to get it right. If your emails aren’t reaching the inbox, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI," said Return Path President George Bilbrey. "But email filtering continues to evolve, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to deliver only the content their users truly want."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

UPS offers retailers a way to simplify returns

From eMarketing:

In retailers’ fight against Amazon, it looks like there will soon be a new weapon that could help level the playing field against the online retail giant.

UPS said it will introduce UPS Returns Manager, a free online tool that allows e-commerce retailers, especially less well-resourced small- and medium-sized merchants, to not only customize their own shipment rules but also manage return shipments without having to integrate their own IT systems.

For consumers, who in the past had to go to a retailer’s website to print a return label or use a label retailers include in package boxes, the feature allows them to now print a return shipping label directly from’s tracking page both on desktop and mobile devices and through email alerts. Consumers can also print return labels at The UPS Store locations at no additional cost.

The service will be available in the US Aug. 14 and 43 other countries from the UK to Brazil two weeks after that.

Why is this relevant?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Baruch SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Josh Schaffner
Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions
Midtown Manhattan SBDC

Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions packages beverages for small and medium-sized producers, specializing in beers for craft breweries. The company was created to provide a reliable and affordable packaging service to small growing producers who don’t want to sacrifice quality control or presentation in the growth of their product to additional sales outlets. Ninth Planet are the first counter pressure filling canner that goes to the customer! 

Josh Schaffner is not new to the industry. He has been a professional advocate for craft beverage producers since he launched NY Craft Beer Week in 2008. When he saw the canning problem faced by micro-brewers he had his “aha moment.” Believing that small brewers have a right to quality canning services without the huge upfront costs of purchasing the machinery, Josh got to work with a team of engineers to create a mobile canning unit. 

With help from Business Advisor Jesse Karasin at the Baruch SBDC, Josh came up with a plan to can for breweries at their locations. Jesse was there throughout the lending process to work with Josh on everything from the financial modeling to the loan documentation. Jesse helped him obtain a $250,000 loan from NYBDC. Together with his team, Josh is currently canning for brewers in the five NYC boroughs, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He and his team want to be a profitable business that responsibly cares for its employees and the broader business community.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Millennials Most Willing to Use Online-Only Stores for Groceries

From eMarketer:
Nearly half of US millennial grocery shoppers polled earlier this year said they have shopped for some groceries in an online-only store, a dramatic change from just two years ago. And they're not alone.

The finding mirrors a trend of consumers across all age groups increasingly getting their groceries among internet pure plays, although at a more modest level.

A February 2017 survey by food industry research firm Food Marketing Institute (FMI) found that 43% of millennial respondents shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at least occasionally, a rate almost 80% higher than in 2015.

Consumers ages 39 to 52 shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at about half the rate of millennials

Monday, August 07, 2017

Technology, Immigrant Entrepreneurship Fuel Growth

From Forbes:
As the immigration debate continues, a new study indicates that immigrant entrepreneurial zeal and technology are fueling much of the small business growth in America.

New York City is the Big Apple for small business, according to Biz2Credit’s 2017 study of the Top Small Business Cities. New York improved to the top spot after registering the highest average annual revenues, credit scores and length of time in business. The city's growth has been fueled by the booming real estate market, the construction industry, banking and finance, a thriving technology sector, and immigrant-owned service and food businesses.

The annual ranking of the 25 cities is based on a weighted average of data from 30,000 companies with fewer than 250 employees and less than $10 million in annual revenues that applied for financing last year. It looks at the health of small companies in each metro area, the rate of small-business creation, and the economic ecosystem for entrepreneurs, including the cost of doing business, tax climate and local talent pool.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hot retailers include both 'bricks and clicks'

From BizJournals:

Subscription meal kit company Blue Apron, which has delivered more than 150 million meals since it was founded five years ago, is No. 1 on the Hot 100 Retailers list.

The list appears in the August issue of the National Retail Federation's STORES magazine and was compiled by research firm Kantar Retail. It’s based on sales growth in 2016 over 2015, and ranks both public and privately-held retail companies by U.S. domestic sales, with a $300 million threshold for inclusion, according to NRF.

Blue Apron saw annual sales grow 133 percent to $795.4 million in 2016, according to the list.

STORES Hot 100 Retailers' annual list: There is a distinct lack of big-box general merchandise retailers on the chart this year, while there are plenty of businesses that exhibit differentiation in the marketplace, innovative merchandising and an appropriate value proposition for the intended customer base.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

41 Wisconsin Company Employees Have Microchips Implanted

From Mediapost:

A Wisconsin company had its planned ‘chip party’ Tuesday and 41 employees had microchips implanted into them.

Those employees, all who volunteered to have an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip implanted between their thumb and forefinger, now can use their hand to unlock doors, log on to computers and pay at kiosks or terminals that take credit cards.

“It went really well and was a lot simpler than I thought,” Tony Danna, vice president of international sales at Three Market Square, said. “It hurts more when pinching the skin than the syringe implanting the chip. It takes about two seconds.”

There were about 20 employees in the company who did not want them and no one, either those who initially did or did not want them changed their mind, Danna said.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Winter Is Coming: What Retailers Can Do to Prepare for the Holidays

From MarketingProfs:

Retail marketers say developing content and promotions well ahead of time is the most effective thing that can be done to prepare for the winter holiday shopping season, according to recent research from Campaigner.

The report was based on data from a survey of 100 retailers who are Campaigner clients.

Some 62% of respondents say early development of marketing content and promotions is the most helpful approach for preparing for the holiday season.

One-third of retailers who began planning before last September say they had a successful 2016 holiday season; only 22% of retailers who began planning in September or later say they had a successful 2016 holiday season.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Don't Fall For Fake Tech Support Scams

From the Federal Trade Commission:
Some scammers call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple. Other scammers send pop-up messages that warn about computer problems. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer. They claim to be “tech support” and will ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for unnecessary – or even harmful – services.

If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email, or other urgent messages about problems with your computer, stop. Don’t click on any links, don’t give control of your computer and don’t send any money.

Don’t click that pop-up for a “free virus scan”. Scammers create pop-up ads, make fake websites, and call you pretending to be tech support personnel—but they’re not helping you, they’re just taking your money or stealing your information. The elderly are especially vulnerable to these tricks. Share your knowledge with others!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Nine Pin Cider

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Albany SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Alejandro and Sonya del Peral
Nine Pin Cider
Albany SBDC


Nine Pin is a craft cider company based in downtown Albany. Established in 2013, Nine Pin is dedicated to creating exceptional off-dry ciders, and to the orchards that make them possible. Apple varieties are carefully selected and blended to achieve a complex, balanced flavor with a clean and pleasantly drinkable finish. 

Located in the Warehouse District of downtown Albany, Nine Pin Cider is the first cider manufacturer to be awarded a NYS Farm Cidery license in the state. Nine Pin sources apples exclusively from farms in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley. Founders Alejandro and Sonya del Peral are a dynamic mother and son duo that have fostered the development and growth of the business from an annual hard cider production of 10,000 gallons in 2013 to 90,000 gallons in 2016. What started as a boutique manufacturer with limited distribution has grown into a mid-sized manufacturing operation with 14 employees, distribution in multiple states, self-distribution and a sizeable tasting room and retail store. 

In 2013, Nine Pin won a gold medal for a cider called Catskill Thunder at the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. Advisor Kate Baker at the Albany SBDC has worked with the del Peral family and Nine Pin Cider since 2012, when the concept of the business was still in the development stage. Initial assistance included business plan and financial projection assistance for starting the business and developed into ongoing business mentoring, assistance with the management of business finances and the business’ rapid growth. Nine Pin has had two major expansions in the last two years.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Major Payment Data Security Concerns among Consumers

From BusinessWire
A survey* commissioned by Transaction Network Services (TNS) has found that 85% of adults in the US, UK and Australia believe the number of criminals trying to steal credit and debit card data is increasing.

More than two thirds are concerned about the security of their payment card data and 38% feel their private credit or debit card data has been put at risk by a data breach, irrelevant of whether they subsequently were a victim of fraud.

Also from BusinessWire:

A recent study from Juniper Research predicts that worldwide spending on tools to detect and prevent online payment fraud will rise to $9.3 billion by 2022, an increase of 22% over the spend expected this year. The report says that the threat posed by insecure internet of things (IoT) devices will be a primary driver of anti-fraud investment.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

FTC Returns Money to Victims of Business Opportunity Scheme

From the Federal Trade Commission:

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing 2,711 checks totaling more than $372,000 to people who paid American Business Builders and related entities for a home-based business opportunity. The defendants claimed that people would earn substantial income offering payment processing services, credit card terminals, and merchant cash advances to small businesses.
Under a settlement with the FTC, the defendants – which include American Business Builders, ENF, Network Market Solutions, UMS Group, United Merchant Services, Universal Marketing and Training, and Unlimited Training Services – are banned from selling business and work-at-home opportunities and related services.
The average check amount is $137.42. Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days. The FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. If they have questions about the case, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Rust Consulting Inc., at 800-373-9651.
To learn more about the FTC’s refund program, visit

Friday, July 28, 2017

Marketing Highly Unsexy Products

From MarketingProfs:

The appeal of some products is obvious. It's not hard to understand the attraction of an appetizing cheeseburger, a new action movie, or a revolutionary smartphone. Other products, however, have to work harder to explain the problem that they're solving.

Moreover, some industries serve fundamental needs in society—but don't receive the kind of attention heaped on upstarts like Snapchat: Think Oracle, the second-highest earning software developer in the world; its name would likely draw a blank stare from the man in the street.

There is hope, though. Here are 11 powerful steps for marketing products that, on the face of it, might seem totally unsexy.

1. Define the problem that you're solving

Instead of telling people about the reasons that they should like your product, identify what your customers are looking for and frame your pitch around that.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Millennial Demand for CEO Activism Surges

From PR Newswire:

Nearly one-half of Millennials (47 percent) believe CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society, far outpacing the sentiments of Gen Xers and Boomers (28 percent each). An even larger six in 10 Millennials (56 percent) say that business leaders have a greater responsibility to speak out now than in years past.

This is according to CEO Activism in 2017: High Noon in the C-Suite, a report commissioned by global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research. This study follows The Dawn of CEO Activism, among one of the first reports published in 2016 that identified the risks and rewards for companies when their chief executives speak out on hot-button issues.

"Over the past 12 months, the climate in the United States has changed dramatically as business and policy have intersected more deeply than ever before," said Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick. "When dozens of CEOs spoke up about the new administration's decisions regarding issues like climate change and travel to the U.S. from select countries, for example, social media ignited, protests erupted and media attention exploded. Navigating how to communicate a company's point of view in this environment is becoming increasingly complex and important. Future generations will only pay closer attention to how companies communicate around their values when it comes to deciding where to work or who to purchase from."