Saturday, October 25, 2014

H2NO - restaurant waitstaff training in “beverage suggestive selling techniques”

Going out to dinner can be a pricey experience — a few dollars for an appetizer, another ten or more per entree, and maybe even dessert. The only good news for your wallet is that at most restaurants will give you a glass of tap water for free. That’s tradition, at least, and customers are used to it. But if you’re the restaurant — or if you’re a not-free beverage-maker — you’d prefer they choose otherwise.

Which is how Coke and Olive Garden got into a little bit of hot water about a decade or so ago.

The story begins in the late 1990s. The soft drink giant and the restaurant chain teamed up to create and implement something called “H2NO.” (Clever, right?) H2NO was an “education kit” for Olive Garden’s waitstaff training them in “beverage suggestive selling techniques” — in short, it taught waiters and waitresses how to get a customer off of the free tap water and into a more lucrative, paid-for drink choice.

More from Now I Know.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Free Webinar Provides Overview of the Trade Mission to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt

The United States Commerce Department will host a free webinar on Thursday November 12, 2014, which will provide an overview of the US Department of Commerce March 2015 Executive-led Business Development Mission to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. Speakers from the US Commercial Service in Morocco, Algeria and Egypt will provide a brief market overview and discuss opportunities for American exporters in these markets.  

Specific opportunities for U.S. companies include but are not limited to: all security and safety equipment and related solutions for seaports, airports, border crossings, security and safety agencies such as the police, and buildings; integrated monitoring and surveillance solutions; luggage screening devices; fire prevention and control equipment, alarm equipment for building safety, emergency evacuation systems; radio communication systems; and inspection equipment for containers and seaport cargo, border and perimeter control, bomb detection equipment, uniforms, protective apparel & accessories (industrial) and x-ray and scanning equipment. 

The mission will include stops in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco; Algiers, Algeria; and Cairo, Egypt, where participants will receive market briefings and participate in customized meetings with key officials and prospective partners. There will be an optional stop in Beirut, Lebanon.The mission supports President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) to strengthen the U.S. economy and U.S. competitiveness through meaningful job creation.

Cronuts versus Donuts versus Cupcakes in NYC - Industry Trends from Yelp

Review site Yelp has launched a data tool which graphs the popularity of trends — like cronuts versus donuts versus cupcakes in NYC — over time. According to the company's blog, the feature is called Yelp Trends, and it "searches through words used in Yelp reviews" to show users "what's hot and reveals the trend-setting cities that kicked it all off." It's based on data and reviews gathered since 2004 when Yelp was founded and is currently only available for major metropolis cities worldwide.

To do your own Yelp Trends search go to here.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Access to Capital: Food, Beverage and Agricultural Enterprises, Syracuse 11/18

Are you in the food, beverage, or agricultural industry in Upstate New York? On Tuesday, November 18th, attend a free workshop sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and U.S. Small Business Administration. 

Get the inside perspective from experts and lenders about:
•        Which type of financing is most appropriate for you
•        What lenders look for in potential borrowers
•        Alternatives to traditional bank loans
•        International market opportunities + financing tools

Light breakfast will be provided.

DATE: Tuesday, November 18th  
TIME: 8:00am-1:00pm
LOCATION: The New York State Fairground, Empire Room
                     581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse, NY 13209


Presenting Organizations: Bibby Financial Services (Midwest), Inc., CNY International Business Alliance, Centerstate CEO, Export-Import Bank, M&T Bank, Chase, Central NY Regional Planning and Development Board, Farm Credit East, Greater Syracuse Business Development Corp., J.P. Morgan, New York Business Development Corp., NYS Small Business Development Center, Syracuse First, Slow Money, The Tech Garden, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Small Business Administration

All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made by request in advance to Dan Rickman at 315-471-9393, x 250.

For additional information contact:

Shira Gans, Federal Reserve Bank of NY

How Do Consumers Perceive Corporate Social Responsibility?

ome 84% of consumers are willing to pay more for a good or service from a company they feel is socially responsible, according to a a recent survey by Lab42.

In fact, "buying from a socially conscious brand" ranks in the top 5 drivers (after price, quality, customer service, and variety) that influence purchase decisions.

So, how do consumers view companies as socially responsible?

The biggest indicator for consumers is that the company offers high-quality products, according to 70% of respondents.

Some 69% mentioned the company's reputation for being employee-friendly and fair as an indication of social responsibility.

Read more from MarketingProfs

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lending Money to Your Employee

By Barbara Weltman

From time to time, an employee going through a rough financial patch may turn to an employer for help. As member of your small business family—which is how many owners view their staff—you want to be helpful. But lending money to an employee should only be done after considering all the issues.

Practical concerns

There’s no right or wrong answer when someone asks you for a loan. Your decision to help out often depends on the particular facts and circumstances. But before you make a loan to someone on your payroll, here are some of the questions you might want to ask:

*Do you have serious concerns about being repaid? If you aren't repaid, will the loss materially impact you or your business?
What happens if you need to terminate the worker before the loan is repaid (e.g., your business contracts; the employee’s performance becomes unacceptable)?
*Will you be setting a dangerous precedent and become an easy mark for other employees? (Don’t think that word about the loan won’t get around, because people talk.)
*Do you want to have the business lend the funds or make it a personal loan

Alternative ways to help

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Female self-employment in the United States:an update

After seeing considerable increases in the 1970s and the 1980s, the share of women in self-employment and the female self-employment rate leveled off in the 1990s and remained relatively unchanged through 2012. While this recent 20-year trend may not be remarkable, the characteristics of female business owners have changed considerably over time...

New trends in female self-employment suggest a positive shift in opportunities for women, especially for those who differ from the “typical” self-employed women of the past. For instance, the percentage of female minorities in self-employment doubled from 1993 to 2012, and more divorced women and women without young children have become self-employed. Earnings trends have also been favorable. Although female business owners still have lower mean earnings compared with other worker groups, between 1993 and 2012 the gender gap in hourly earnings among the self-employed shrank by nearly 20 percentage points for full-time workers and by 17 percentage points for part-time workers.

More from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights - take a 30-minute online course

What is intellectual property and how do you protect your ideas? This course gives an overview of intellectual properties and explains how to protect them. Learn why you should protect your intellectual property. Explore the differences between patents, trademarks and copyrights and discover the process for filing for a patent or trademark and registering for a copyright.

Text-based version of course

Intellectual property worsheet for a small business

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sleep Your Way to Higher Productivity

I’ve been feeling really tired lately. It’s that tired feeling that drags on for days and days until you finally give in and have a real rest from work (I’ve planned a week off in October). Trying to work on projects that require lots of thought, mental clarity, and—I can’t even think of the word I want, because I’m tired, which proves my point: It’s hard to do good work when you’re tired.

But there’s a lot of nuance to how sleep affects our work.

Read more from BPLANS

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Enterprises' Top Digital Marketing Priorities for 2015

Some 69% of senior marketers at enterprise companies anticipate an increase in digital spend beyond inflation in 2015, and only 6% foresee a decrease, according to a recent report from Teradata and Econsultancy.

On the other hand, only 48% expect increases beyond inflation in traditional marketing budgets in 2015, and 29% who expect decreases, the study found.

Enterprise marketers expect digital budgets to increase roughly 10% annually for the next five years, with average digital spend reaching 40% of total budgets by 2019, according to the report.

Read more from MarketingProfs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is that health insurance website for real?

Shopping for health insurance online? Before making your final purchase – read on. Health insurance scams have been preying on vulnerable consumers through websites selling medical discount plans.

According to the complaint in a recent case FTC settlement, IAB Marketing Associates, LP et al., was a sham nonprofit trade association offering memberships suggesting it would provide consumers with a comprehensive medical insurance plan...

According to the FTC, consumers never were enrolled in a comprehensive health insurance plan. The IAB plan was essentially a medical discount plan, offering, if it existed, limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals. Many consumers who suffered an accident or illness were shocked to find that their IAB “health plan” covered very few, if any, medical expenses, leaving them with major medical bills.

Here’s how to insure yourself against this scam...

More from the NCPW

Restaurants see best sales trends in two years

The restaurant industry posted its best sales results in more than two years during the third quarter of 2014, amid continuing signs of economic growth, according to the latest Restaurant Industry Snapshot from TDn2K’s Black Box Intelligence and People Report, based on weekly sales from more than 20,000 restaurant units representing more than $45 billion in annual revenue.

Same-store sales grew 1.6 percent during the quarter, a 1.3-percent increase over second quarter results and the best quarter for the industry since the first quarter of 2012. The industry saw positive same-store sales for the second consecutive quarter — a first since the second half of 2012. The gain came on the heels of strong industry performance in September, when same-store sales rose 2.2 percent.

More from Nation's Restaurant News.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Small Business Advocate, September-October 2014

The Office of Advocacy has released the September-October 2014 issue of the Small Business Advocate. The newsletter features Advocacy’s regional advocates’ tour of 1776, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that seeks to nurture local startup businesses by connecting them with a variety of resources. The message from the chief counsel explores the issue of the gender gap in STEM fields. In addition, rulemakings by the DOJ, CPSC, EPA, FCC, DOL and NOAA are discussed. Finally, the newsletter introduces Advocacy’s new staff members.

The newsletter can be accessed here.

In This Issue
1776 Offers Startups Resources and Connections in the Heart of D.C.
Message from the Chief Counsel: Leveling the Playing Field in STEM
Small Movie Theater Owners Discuss Proposed DOJ Accessibility Rules
Advocacy Responds to CPSC on Infant Carrier Rules
Advocacy Comments to FCC on Net Neutrality Proposal
Advocacy Raises Concerns about EPA Landfill Rules

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Consumer spending and U.S. employment from the 2007–2009 recession through 2022

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the latest recession, employment supported by U.S. consumer spending declined by an estimated 3.2 million jobs between 2007 and 2010, over a third of total job declines during that time frame. Compared with the overall economy, consumer-related employment demonstrated relative resilience, recovering in 2012. Through 2022, consumer spending is projected to support stable job growth with increasing expenditures on labor-intensive services like health care. However, consumer spending and its related employment are projected to grow slower than in the past and at rates similar to the overall economy.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

CrossFit Tailors Workout for a New Demographic: Preschoolers

On a recent afternoon at the CrossFit gym in Long Island City, Queens, 3-year-old Ella Reznik bounded toward an array of hoops and candy-colored bouncy balls, her ponytail and her mother trailing her.

Ella’s brother Adam, 4, padded along nearby on rubber black mats and inspected some metal bars bolted to the wall. The gym’s owner and coach, Michele Kelber, greeted the Rezniks and other children with a series of high-fives and smiles. Soon, class was underway: duck, duck, goose; burpees; and dangling from monkey bars.

CrossFit, the hard-core workout regimen, has a growing new demographic to court: preschoolers.

As the issue of youth fitness — from obesity to proper exercise regimens — takes on more resonance in schools and communities across the country, CrossFit Kids and other preschool fitness programs are raising questions about when and how children should start playing organized sports or hitting the gym.

More from the New York Times.

Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Ways to Spy on Your Competition

Most companies are continually looking for ways to get an edge over their competitors, and a time-honored method is simply to spy on the other guys. Technically, it falls under the category of market research, unless, of course, it’s actual spying. But, we’re not going to get into corporate espionage here—we’ll stick with the “market research” strategies that are legal, if somewhat sneaky. In the event that you feel uneasy about spying on your rivals, consider the fact that if you’re any sort of force to be reckoned with in your market, they are probably already spying on you. But, if you’re still not quite comfortable with the word “spying,” think of it as “competitive intelligence.” Competitive intelligence is a means of legally obtaining information that you can use to improve your own products, services, and customer retention.

Read more from

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Good Marketing, Undone

I like to read the newspaper while I’m eating breakfast (I spend the rest of my day reading online). Last Friday, as I was thumbing through, I saw an ad that caught my eye:

“One-day only! Wear (color) in support of (charity) and get 20% off any item in the store!”

Simple. Easy to understand. Some of the proceeds would go to a worthy cause. And a nice discount. I liked it. I already planned to be near the store location Friday evening; I was going to catch a movie with friends. All I had to do was change what I planned to wear to their chosen color. Hm…

If it had been just another work day, I had a couple of blouses which would have fit the requirement. But I was going out after work. I had planned what I was going to wear, and its main color was black. BUT, it had a small sequin flower in that special, required color. A very small sequin flower. Would it be enough? No way to know until I got there. And I had decided to go.

That was good marketing.

Read more from

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Are Consumers Willing to Pay for Content From Online Publishers?

Some 40% of US consumers say they currently pay for news, fashion, sports, or business digital content, even though 70% say they access those categories of content online regularly, according to a recent report from CloudSense.

This reluctance to pay for digital media is true even for the "digital native" generation: 45% of the 16-24-year-olds surveyed say they spend money on any sort of digital content from publishers.

More from MarketingProfs.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

7 Things to Consider When Raising Money from Family or Friends for Your Business Startup

It’s tempting to ask friends and family to invest in your work when first starting a company. Money is tight and they want to help. However, soliciting money from loved ones can be a risky venture. To help mitigate this risk, we asked seven entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council what rules one should always have in place before raising money from family and friends. Here’s what they recommend.

Read more from

Monday, October 06, 2014

Nominate a Business for the 2015 National Small Business Week Awards

Are you a small business owner with an amazing success story to tell?  If so, submit your nomination today for the 2015 National Small Business Week Awards.  Nominations are currently being accepted online at
For more than 50 years, SBA has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions in their local communities, and to our nation’s economy. Winners will be announced during National Small Business Week in May 2015.
Last year, we honored husband-and-wife team Billy Taylor and Brook Harvey-Taylor, the founders of Pacifica which is based in Portland, Oregon as the National Small Business Persons of the Year. With Billy’s entrepreneurial spirit and Brook’s creative vision, the two founders started making candles in 1997.  A bold change in the line of products from home fragrances to beauty and perfume products put Pacifica on a growth path to more than double their revenue over a five-year span, ending in 2014. Since 2010 they have managed to expand their staff each year and now have 110 employees.
Are you our next winner?  Apply online today: In addition to the portal, nominations can also be sent directly to SBA District Offices, which can be located online atdistrict offices.  All nominations must be submitted online, postmarked or hand delivered to the SBA no later than 3:00 p.m. ET on January 5, 2015.
National Small Business Week award categories include:
  • Small Business Person of the Year Awards
  • Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
  • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery
  • Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award- Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award
  • Federal Procurement Award- Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence
  • 8(a) Graduate of the Year Award
  • Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award
  • Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
For more information, visit