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Showing posts from 2005

Upscale

"Upscale." "High-end."

Advisors seeking information from the Research Network often use these terms when they make their requests at their clients’ behest. But do your clients have any sense of what these terms mean when they say them?

High-end does not merely mean that the items or services provided sell for a higher price, an assumption I’m getting when an advisor merely "passes through" the clients’ question (not a good idea, by the way.) Upscale means that the product being sold is not only more expensive but also of a higher quality than the average product of its type. In the service sector, it means a greater amount of time and effort being exerted. The client cannot just slap a higher price tag on what they are doing and expect to receive it, at least over the long term.

There are some industries that are more mature, so that the sense of upscale is well-defined. The restaurant industry has codified upscale. Restaurants are divided into limited…

LaGuardia SBDC on TV

The Small Business Development Center at LaGuardia Community College helped a couple from the Philippines achieve their American Dream: a veterinary clinic. More than 1,100 budding entrepreneurs were assisted by the center, which was created following 9/11.View the CUNY-TV segment. (Requires Real Player or equivalent.)Running Time: 3:24

Succession plans without children

Back in September, Jan Pisancyzn spoke to a reporter from the Democrat & Chronicle. Jan offered advice for business owners whose children do not want to take over the business.

Look at a trusted employee or two who have demonstrated some skill in running the business. In the case of a restaurant, the head chef might want to take over.Talk with competitors - and in the case of restaurants, suppliers - who may be interested in buying it.Look into hiring a business broker who does for businesses what real estate agents do for home sellers.Be realistic with expectations of how much the business is worth. Ask yourself, what is the current demand for this kind of business and what is a realistic price for the business.Regarding item #4, the Research Network can help, too. We have a few sources in our reference collection that contain valuation formulas and rules of thumb plus chapters describing methods of determining a fair price. The titles we have are:Handbook of Business Valuation ed…

Mature Audiences

The Research Brief from the Center for Media Researchran an article today on how mature audiences (35 to 54 year olds) are more likely to be watching streaming video than the average consumer. The article states that according to comScore Networks "State of the Consumer Streaming Market," “the research confirmed that 35 to 54 year-olds are 20% more likely to watch online video than the average Internet user, and 25 to 34 year-olds are 12% more likely than the average Internet user to watch a stream online.” This flies in the face of the widely held belief that streaming video is the domain of the younger age brackets. This should tell advertisers something: they need to be creative to speak to this important consumer demographic. As this article attests, this presents a great opportunity for advertisers to put their best foot forward and present their products and services in innovative ways.

More on the ACS

As I mentioned back in July, the American Community Survey is now the new source of Census data.

Go to the Data Sets section of the Census page. Click on any of the tabs to the right (data profiles, detailed tables, e.g.) Pull down the counties of New York. You'll only find 15 of the 62 counties for the state: Albany, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Orange, Rockland, Westchester, plus the counties of New York City and Long Island. Why is that? Because this is data based on sampling, and only the locations that have 250,000 people have data that are "statistically significant" in this round. You'll also notice that the data are presented differently than you may be used to, with a lower bound and an upper bound. In fact, these parameters have been calculated before, but not shown.

Next year, the threshold will be 65,000, as the Bureau expands the process. The places with 20,000 to 65,000 people will be calculated based on a rolling three-year average, so there wi…

SBA Increases Small Business Size Standards Due To Inflation

Some of you may have already seen this, but I'm posting here for general consumption. This and other SBA news items can be found here.

"SBA Increases Small Business Size Standards Due To Inflation
Interim Final Rule With Request For Comments

SBA has adjusted its monetary-based size standards (e.g., receipts, net worth, and financial assets), for the effect of inflation that has occurred since the last inflation adjustment in February 2002. Since the last inflation adjustment, the general level of prices has increased 8.7%. This action restores small business eligibility to businesses that have lost that status due to inflation. In addition, this rule changes the process for determining the size of small business concerns applying for SBA Business Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from a test considering only the primary industry of the applicant, to a two-part test considering both the primary industry of the applicant and the primary industry of the applicant …

Misspelling?

These days I'm feeling a bit out of the loop. I'm not up on the latest trends in fashion. So, when we took a recent request on hip-hop clothing, I knew I had to do some background research. One of the clients was interested in several brands. I found myself getting nowhere on my search for the brand Academic. I tried doing a literature search, even narrowed the search to a specific fashion industry publication, WWD (Womens' Wear Daily), but found nothing. Darrin stopped by and I explained my quest. He suggested that the spelling of the brand might not be so obvious (and I had already searched for Baby Phat, another spelling for a clothing brand that wasn't exactly intuitive). I pressed forward searching under alternate spellings and lo and behold, there is a hip-hop brand called Akademiks.

If you have a research request for a brand, company name, or trademark, you'll save the Research Network some time (and get more accurate information) with the correct spelling. W…

De-accessioned Books from the RN

These are books offered to the Regional Centers from the RN shelves. In most of these cases we have purchased the latest edition. While in some cases it is not advisable to rely on information from an outdated volume, some of these may still be quite useful. Please contact me should you be interested in having any of them. First-come, first-served.


Bond’s Franchise Guide 1999
DMA Statistical Factbook 2001
Franchise Opportunities Guide 2002
Kids Count Databooks 2000, 2001, 2002
New York Public Sector
The Community Sourcebook of County Demographics 2004
The Community Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics 2004
The Lifestyle Market Analyst 2004
The Service Business Planning Guide by Warren G. Purdy
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2003

New York State County ZIP Codes

The Empire State Development Library created a list of the NYS County zip codes arranged alphabetically.

"Please note: Zip codes bear no relation to county or other administrative boundaries. They are established by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery. In many cases a zip code may cover areas in more than one county."

For instance, 10466 is primarily a Bronx ZIP Code, but it also appears in part of Westchester County.

Albany County, NY (county)
Zip Code(s): 12007 12009 12023 12041 12046 12047 12053 12054 12055 12059 12067 12077 12083 12084 12110 12120 12122 12143 12147 12158 12159 12183 12186 12189 12193 12202 12203 12204 12205 12206 12207 12208 12209 12210 12211 12303 12304 12309 12469

Allegany County, NY (county)
Zip Code(s): 14060 14065 14536 14708 14709 14711 14714 14715 14717 14721 14727 14735 14739 14744 14754 14777 14802 14803 14804 14806 14807 14813 14822 14836 14846 14880 14884 14895 14897

Bronx County, NY (county)
Zip Code(s): 10034 10039 10451 10452 10453 10…

In Which State Should You Incorporate?

Last week, I sought an answer for a client who was planning to open businesses in more than one state. Part of the question focused on which state, then, should her corporation be registered in.

I found some information in a book we have in our collection. Here's an excerpt of what it says:

"So what state should you incorporate in? It's my opinion that you should incorporate in the state where you are doing business. That is, where your office is located. There are only two reasons to incorporate in another state - first, if you are going to have offices in many states, and second, for tax planning. If you are going to have offices in more than one state, Nevada makes a good choice because it is 'friendly' to corporations. Also, since Nevada has no state corporate income tax, you can lower your taxes by shifting income there from a taxable state. Needless to say, this is a sophisticated tax strategy meant for those with large tax bills and a good CPA.

The bot…

Top Inventors

This article gives an overview of author Kevin Maney's quest to identify the top inventors in the U.S. His own attempt to cull a list from the database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office proved futile. He called in some experts who were also befuddled and concluded: "The question, with variables including inventors with same last names and multiple names on patents, is apparently a database operator's nightmare." So, Maney was left to try other avenues to come up with some prolific patent-holders. The top inventor may surprise you. Click on the title of this entry, Top Inventors, to find out.

Spamalot: Disposable E-mail Accounts

We’ve all grown accustomed to a certain amount of SPAM in our e-mail accounts, and I know many who choose to sacrifice an account on one service or another to SPAM while keeping their main address free of junk. Naturally then, there are products available to outfox spammers. Here are a few.

GishPuppy.com
Assures you can “take back your email” by registering with their free service which enables you to make aliases that you can use for online registrations and then easily delete whenever you want. This service is praised for it’s simplicity.

Jetable.org Disposable Email
These aliases automatically expire after a certain amount of time; 1 to 8 days. They are not connected to your actual email at all, so the down side is they stop forwarding to your regular email when they expire and cannot be manually reinstated.

Emailias.com
Offers a few more features. You set up an emailias button in your toolbar and when a registration asks for your email address, you click that button and it generates an …

O Canada

It used to be that when I would Google for some obscure statistical figure, as often as not, I would hit on something from Statistics Canada, which would be irritating, because I wanted numbers for the United States.

Statistics Canada is a centralized statistical agency that serves the federal and provinical governments. It originated in 1919 as the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. It conducts over 400 surveys.

While some of the raw statistics are available on the page, many of the reports are only available for a price. It is supposed to operate on a cost-recovery basis.

One section that is totally free, as far as I can tell, is the Canadian Census.
It is similar to the U.S Census in that it depends on self-enumeration (the US since 1970, Canada since 1971). Both countries use short forms (100% response requested) and sample data long forms. Some of the geographies (metropolitan areas, census tracts, blocks) are comparable.
Conversely, Canada has collected data about religion since 18…

Native American Capital

We frequently receive requests on behalf of clients who are Native American, wondering if they qualify for any grants based on their heritage. As usual, there aren't any grants available specifically for Native American businesses.

Recently, though, I received an e-mail that announced the arrival of a company called Native American Capital. Their mission, according to their Web site, is to "foster and promote business and economic development in Indian Country through investment of private equity capital in promising new and developing high growth businesses in Native American and Alaskan Native communities."

As they are new, I don't have much information as to their effectiveness. However, if you've clients of Native American descent who have a promising business venture, this is a potential source that ought to be investigated.

Al Hirsch

Allyn Hirsch, Certified Senior Business Advisor, at Stony Brook, has retired after 10 years of service.
Allyn’s background was in the defense industry and expertise in engineering and technology, which had enabled him to offer clients a wide variety of assistance, especially manufacturing companies and inventors of technical products. He had assisted clients in obtaining venture capital as well as traditional bank financing.
Allyn is a graduate of Polytechnic University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His last day was November 30.

He was one of the top five counselors in 1998.

We in the Research Network will miss him, not only because he asked really well defined questions, but also because he always showed a personal interest in our well-being.

Evaluating Web Content

Ever come across information on the web and wondered about its accuracy? Here in the Research Network we try to evaluate web content by checking for:
credibilityauthorityreliabilityrelevancedatesources behind the text, andscope and purpose.For example, a recent article in USA Today found a false Wikipedia 'biography' for John Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy's administrative assistant in the early 1960s. Seigenthaler himself found the inaccurate text on Wikipedia and his son located the same inaccurate information on Reference.com and Answers.com. "Representatives of the other two websites said their computers are programmed to copy data verbatim from Wikipedia, never checking whether it is false or factual."

So, how do you know if the Wikipedia entry you found or anything else on the web is true? Use the web with caution, verify facts and try to find cooberating evidence from articles or books by experts in the field. Keep in mind that just because it's in print d…

New Books on the Shelves

Federal yellow book:
Fall 2005

New York State government directory 2005-2006

New York State Farm fresh guide 2002-2003
Central Region
Western Region
Metro Region
Eastern Region

Clinkinbeard, Curtis J.
Hypergrow your business -- double, triple or quadruple
any business by harnessing the natural laws of growth.

Aiken, Richard
The Relationship between wildlife watchers, hunters, and anglers
Report 2001

Private and public land use by hunters
Report 2001

We also get a number of special issues and supplements from journals in our collection that we don't always get to share. A few on my desk are:

Advertising Age's

Hispanic Fact Pack: An Annual Guide to Hispanic Advertising and Marketing, 2004 and 2005
Fact Pack: An Annual Guide to Advertising & Marketing, 2004 and 2005
Agency Preview Guide 2004
Point: Marketing at C-Level, March 2005

American Demographics

Marketing Tools Sourcebook 2003
Diversity in America

Good business

Purloined verbatem from an e-mail. For all except the first article, tou will have to register with BNET, but it's free.

BusinessWeek has a great interview/book review on the importance of details to customer service.

Author Michael Levine says that operational details, such as limited hours and dirty bathrooms send a message to customers about the general quality of a business.
These details have a more significant effect on customers than you might think:

"The consumer mind has a logical and emotional part, and if you don't speak to both, you will lose them, especially when they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely.
"We're living in an age of anxiety. When people are not hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, the emotional side will win the debate with the logical part of the brain 80% of the time. When they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, emotion wins 100% of time. We are often hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, so it's exceedingly dangerous if you're a…

Grocery Items - Private Label Database

The Web site for Private Label Buyer magazine has a searchable database of their 2005 Supplier Source Book:
http://www.privatelabelbuyer.com/guide/

This magazine describes itself as being geared towards supermarkets and other retail chains selling store-brand products. This section of their Web site is aimed at buyers for supermarket or grocery stores.

Every supermarket has a line of products that they sell as their own, but, in actuality, are obtained from one of these manufacturers.

Clients who've manufactured a product typically sold in such a place have this site, then, as a possible marketing tool. The site allows for three ways to search - by a specific company name, by a location, or by a product category.

If you have a client who's interested in getting placed on this database, contact information for the staff at Private Label Buyer can be found here:
http://www.privatelabelbuyer.com/contact.php

Tourism Research Sources in New York State

I was very excited to go to a session at the State Data Center affiliates meeting in late October. It was designated with the title listed above. We often get requests for regional tourism data. I was less excited at the end of the session.

I assumed that the folks who bring us I Love NY would have great statistics that would show the success for ther campaign. Unfortunately, most of these statistics are for sale, if they are available at all. The state Department of Economic Development receives merely a summary of the data compiled by D.K. Shiffet & Associates. For your clients to buy them would be extremely expensive (five figures).

As for the hotel occupancy numbers, they are tallied by Smith Travel Research, which will cost at least a few hundred dollars. Fortunately, many newspapers subscribe, so we CAN often provide data based on articles.

Other sources cited but not discussed:

Travel Industry Association of America Decent state level data.

U.S. Department of Commerce. Good …

WebMQS - Contact/Prep/Clerical time issues

This post covers two distinct situations:

1) There've been questions asked recently at certain Regional Centers regarding what constitutes clerical time in the Counselor Hours section for WebMQS case records. Some advisors feel that they're doing clerical work (such as doing data entry on WebMQS), while others feel that clerical work is exclusive only to office managers or other support staff.

To clarify, time spent by the advisor to prepare for a client meeting, to review documents, to follow-up after a meeting, and in completing other tasks relating to the case (including data entry for WebMQS) should be counted as Prep Time.

Conversely, time spent by the office manager or other support staff to prepare for a client meeting - such as making copies, assembling information packets, and so on - should be counted as Clerical Time.

2) To reiterate from my 6/20 blog posting, some advisors are in the habit of adding the time spent in communicating a request to the Research Network to t…

Small Town Shops and the Web

An article in yesterday's New York Times discusses how "the Internet is allowing small stores...to develop the niche products that shield them against big-box retailers." Small-Town Shops Bulk Up on the Web gives several examples of small-town shops meeting success through a combination of Internet sales and Main Street store fronts.In upstate New York, downtown Ithaca is a hub of new retail activity and tourist trade generated by Internet marketing and sales. "There's an upside and a downside of marketing on the Internet," said Gary Ferguson, the executive director of the Ithaca Downtown Partnership, a business development group. "The floral business has been changed dramatically by the Internet. More and more people are buying flowers online. We had a business called Plantations that had been here for 30 years and had a hard time with the transition and didn't make it. "On the other hand, we have three used-book stores, and they do half thei…

Customer Relationship Management

Wikipedia has a pretty tidy definition of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) exists “to enable organizations to better manage their customers through the introduction of reliable processes and procedures for interacting with those customers.” This is a bit more than a mere definition; it covers some tips on improving customer relationships. Worth a visit. Obviously written by someone who cares, albeit with some differences of opinion on whether CRM is a “real” area of expertise. These pages can be quite lively with discussions about issues relating to the main topic.
I would argue that these “specialties” pop up because so many businesses fall down in these areas. There is often money to be made on someone else’s failures. So, it seems that there is the idea behind CRM and then the technology.

IT Toolbox: CRM Knowledge Base
A community of IT professionals sharing best practices, discussion groups, and newsletters as well as white papers and links. One of many key topics, CRM or Cu…

Bureau of Economic Analysis

The BEA, a federal agency, is where you will find an Overview of the Economy, including:

Sales of U.S. Tourism Industries

Gross Domestic Product

Personal Income and Outlays (including Disposable Income)

U.S. International Transactions (including Balance of Trade)

Most of these are detailed, but national. One obvious exception is the Gross State Product

Click on the article title for more data.

Languages - Who Speaks What, and Where?

The Web site for the Modern Language Association has a feature that "displays the locations and numbers of speakers of the thirty languages most commonly spoken in the United States."

If you have a client who seeks to know where a certain language/ethnic background is located, this site is a decent starting point: http://www.mla.org/census_main

The site combines mapping & data tables that are simple to use & understand. Like many sites have done, MLA has taken a lot of information that you can find yourself on the Census Bureau Web site, but re-packaged it in such a way as to make it a snap to find language-related data.

Identity Theft Prevention

Roger has touched on the issue of identity theft in a previous post or two. Today, I came across an excellent article on preventing identity theft written by a woman whose identity has been stolen three times. It contains steps to identity theft prevention including "Ten Things to Do Today" and "Seven Things to Do By Next Week" as well as what to do if your identity is stolen and lists of contacts to help. Where should you start? Read the article from Information Today at http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/nov05/ebbinghouse.shtml. Take action on the author's suggestions: request a credit report, consider getting a P.O. box, and perhaps add a photo ID to your credit card and/or debit card. These are just a few of the tasks that can limit the odds of identity theft.

Latest Volume of Business Plans Handbook

Here's the list of sample business plans from volume 11 of the Business Plans Handbook:

Adventure Travel Lodging Company: Cobra Travel Adventure Group
Brewpub: Hopstreet Brewery
Cigar Company: Smokescreen Cigars
Construction Development & Real Estate Firm: Black Pearl Development & Real Estate LLC
Construction and Home Rehabilitation Company: Pedro’s Construction
Daycare Facility: Rachel’s Clubhouse
Giftware Company: Jenni Frey Gifts
Handmade Greeting Card Company: Heartsongs
Handyman Service: “I’m the Man!” Handyman Services
Homeless Shelter: Sister Joan of Arc Center
Interior Design Company: Make It Your Own Space Inc.
Interior Painting Service: Eyecatching Interiors LLC
Internet Loyalty Program: Tunes4You
Internet Services Portal Site: Net Solutions
Massage Therapists: MASSAGEWORKS
Mentally Disabled Care Facility: Welcome Home Organization
Motorcycle Dealership and Racetrack: Zoom Motors
Online Mortgage Company: Valuable Mortgage
Pizzeria: Coastal Pizza
Private Investigator: FBEyes

Also, Fi…

Proprietary Schools

The Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) oversees and monitors non-degree granting proprietary schools in New York State. The Bureau is responsible for ensuring that the overall educational quality of the programs offered will provide students with the necessary skills to secure meaningful employment and for protecting students' financial interests while attending proprietary schools. BPSS licenses/registers proprietary schools and credentials proprietary school teachers to ensure that appropriate standards are met. The Bureau investigates student complaints and conducts comprehensive investigations of schools to assure compliance with Education Law and Commissioner's Regulations. Proprietary schools under BPSS jurisdiction include trade and business schools, computer training facilities, and for-profit English as a Second Language (ESL) schools.

So, if you have clients who want to start a school to teach bartending, pet grooming, cosmetology or barbering, modeling…

Business Lists - How Old is the Information?

Creating lists of businesses is a daily occurrence at the Research Network. The (vast) majority of time, we use the American Business Disc to create them. Clients use these lists for mailings. Often we hear of how the list is out-of-date.

ABD is one of several products published by infoUSA. Since so many of you ask for lists, I called infoUSA to learn just how the data in ABD can be.

Subscribers to the ABD (such as ourselves) get two editions every year. Both editions represent a snapshot of a database that is constantly changing. These snapshots are taken roughly at the end of a calendar year (that's the first edition), and at the end of June (the second edition). (They don't take the snapshot at the same time every year, which is why I say "roughly".)

The CDs are then distributed to infoUSA customers on a staggered basis. The first edition is ready to be mailed starting in March or April, while the second is sent out starting in October or November. We typica…

Hurricane Vehicle Fraud Database

If you or your clients purchase used vehicles, this free resource, Hurricane Vehicle Fraud Database, may be of interest. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has compiled a database of vehicles and watercraft affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The information in the database was gathered from a number of sources, including insurance companies, salvage yards and state and local authorities. As a result, the NICB has not independently verified most of the information in this database and cannot, therefore, vouch for the accuracy of this information. In addition, there may be many additional vehicles and watercraft affected by the hurricanes not included in this database.

Inventors New Show

ABC has another reality-TV program idea from the producers of American Inventor. Now inventors will have an opportunity to show their stuff on American Inventor, the new prime-time program set to premiere in early 2006. Contestants can show off their product and have it voted on by the American public, with hopes to win the million dollar prize for best concept. Auditions are being held through November and December for those of our clients who are less tight-lipped about their inventions. Host City is New York for December 7th. Time and place have yet to be set.

“An embodiment of the ultimate American dream, the show will uncover the hottest new product and make some struggling inventor's dream come true. The show will celebrate the best in homespun American ingenuity and will turn one person's idea into the next big thing.”

There are some products that are ineligible:

Drugs
Medical devices
Plants
Adult entertainment products
Firearms and explosive devices
Hazardous chemicals or ma…

SBIR

In anticipation of the SBIR conference taking place in Albany in a couple weeks, I urge you to familiarize yourself with the Small Business Innovation Research program by going here. You'll find an overview of the program. Click on the Announcements and Solicitations button on the left, and you'll be directed to the SBIR websites for the 10 participating agencies, which are:

Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Transportation
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation

There are three phases of the grant process:

Phase I is the startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately 6 months support exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.

Phase II awards of up to $750,000, for as many as 2 years, expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&…

Purchasing Power/Workforce Info by ZIP Code

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has created a page that is a real time-saver. They've taken data that you can find from the Census Bureau - if you had LOTS of available time - and the built a useful Web site around it.

The aim of the site is to provide data on a) consumer purchasing power and b) a workforce overview. Data can be found for specific ZIP codes, metro areas, or Census tracts.

At this Web site http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/ETI/PurchasingPower/purchasing.htm, you'll find these options:
Purchasing Power by Census Tracts for custom made printouts of purchasing power for 16 retail categories and data on the workforce population for any U.S. census tract. Purchasing Power by ZIP Code for data on retail expenditures for 16 consumer areas, retail and business establishments, and the available workforce for all residential zipcodes in the U.S. Purchasing Power Rankings for Top 100 Metro Areas for ZIP code rankings of each of the 16 retail expenditure categories for the 100 …

Have you updated your info. in the Internal web site today?

This week, after completing a question for a business advisor, I realized that I didn't have a mailing address for the new outreach office. (1) I quickly logged into the Internal web site but found no information. (2) Then, I called the main regional center and left a message. So, the package sat on my desk until the next day. I waited and waited, but still no call back. I couldn't call the business advisor himself because his original request was via e-mail and did not list the outreach office phone number. (3) Finally, in late afternoon of the second day, I called the main regional center again and was able to get the phone number and address, but not the ZIP code. I thought this was the last step, but I had to (4) call the outreach center to get the ZIP code. So, after 4 steps, I managed to get the package in the mail.

The point of all of this is my plea for all of you to take a look at your center's information as well as your personal contact information in the Interna…

Pet Peeves

Survey Says…Internet Pet Peeves: What Drives Consumers Away From Your E-Business Hostway Corporation

Pet peeves about commercial websites or how to drive customers away. Top three: of course, pop-ups, required registration, and required installation of extra software

“…more than 70 percent of consumers say they’re unlikely to purchase from, or even return to, a Web site after encountering these pet peeves..”

All Merchants
More of what not to do on your website including dead links, worn-out phrases and solid pages of text. A few points to consider when designing a web site while considering your audience.

Customer service is good business

For your clients in all lines of business, not just service and retail. For all except the first article, you will have to register with BNET, but the registration is free.

BusinessWeek has a great interview/book review on the importance of details to customer service.

Author Michael Levine says that operational details, such as limited hours and dirty bathrooms send a message to customers about the general quality of a business.
These details have a more significant effect on customers than you might think:

"The consumer mind has a logical and emotional part, and if you don't speak to both, you will lose them, especially when they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely.
"We're living in an age of anxiety. When people are not hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, the emotional side will win the debate with the logical part of the brain 80% of the time. When they're hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, emotion wins 100% of time. We are often hungry, tired, angry, or lonely, s…

Creating a Newsletter?

Over the summer, I heard from someone at the Brockport SBDC. She was helping in the creation of a center newsletter, to be distributed among past clients & other friends of the program. She was looking for any sources of royalty- or copyright-free articles on the Web.

If you're in the same boat, you might want to check out what I found:

* http://www.articlecity.com

* http://goarticles.com

Both of these sites break down their content by subject, and both have a heading for "business". So if (or shall I say, when) you're pressed for time, check out these sites for possible content ideas.

Ethics and Competitive Intelligence

Two librarians of the Research Network attended a program on competitive intelligence last week. Speaker Ellen Reen discussed the importance of ethics in any research and analysis whether for your employer or your own business.

First and foremost, the issue of ethics in competitive intelligence must be considered. Always clearly identify yourself prior to first person interviews and avoid conflict of interest. It is important to establish policies for your organization to prevent unethical or illegal practices. Further research into the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals' Code of Ethics and Fuld's Ten Commandments can aid in developing standards for an organization. For example, the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret a federal crime. If you or your employees conduct unethical or illegal activity, your business could be at risk. Ultimately, speaker Ellen Reen likes to ask, "…

Hiring and Keeping Good People

Apparently more than 60% of small business owners feel that finding and retaining qualified staff is their number one problem. I poked around and found a few articles and books that summarize some of the issues and offer a few suggestions.

Drive a Modest Car & 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success
By Ralph E. Warner
Nolo Press
Suggests researching what similar jobs pay in your area, particularly those with lowest pay, “if you don’t, these penny-conscious employees are sure to feel slighted, and you’ll quickly lose the most efficient ones.” Warner also suggests looking at workers with comparable skills within your own organization; pay should reflect the level of skill and responsibility of the person in the job. Consistency and fairness will encourage loyalty and trust.

Great Salespeople Aren't Born, They're Hired: The Secrets To Hiring Top Sales Professionals
by Joe Miller, Patrick Longo(Editor)
Demonstrates how to narrow choices among a variety of styles of salesperson, and a…

If You Don't Understand It...

One of the SBDC advisors called last week with a question. It happened that his client e-mailed him with a question about glass, but it didn't jibe with the rest of the question, which was about pottery and dinnerware. So he wrote back to the client and asked if perhaps she meant glassWARE; indeed, she did. The question is conveyed to the library and everybody's happy.

Let's imagine if the advisor hadn't taken the initiative to clarify the query. The Research Network finds information about glass, sends it to the advisor, who passes it on to the client. The client is dissatisfied; that's NOT what she wanted. The beleaguered advisor has to contact the Research Network to ask them to redo that part of the question, which is frustrating to the librarian who wants to get it right the first time. It becomes a waste of time for all involved.

Here's a good rule of thumb: If you get a question e-mailed or faxed to you, please read it to make sure it makes contextual sen…

Venture Capital Research

Once in a while, we'll get inquiries as to the names of venture capitalist firms that might be a potential source of financing for certain clients. To find them, we utilize a CD-ROM titled "Galante's Venture Capital & Private Equity Directory". It provides descriptions of thousands of VC firms either headquartered or with branch offices here in the U.S.

All CD-ROMs in our collection have their own quirks, requiring us to know their unique whims in order to get the most out of them. This one is no different.

Should you require such a search, it would be helpful for us to know the answers to as many of the following as possible:
The funding stage at which the company is currently. In other words, does it need seed money, or is it a startup, or is it still in research & development?For what industry is the business seeking the funding? Galante's has 31 broad industry categories, including "Transportation," or "Medical Devices," or &quo…

Small Business Drives Inner City Growth and Jobs

Small Business Drives Inner City Growth and Jobs
Small businesses are the drivers of inner city economies and job
growth, according to a new study released today by the Office of
Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Read the SBA press release, the research summary or the complete 30-page report (in PDF format).
- posted to PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance, Tue, 11 Oct 2005

Standards

Here’s a list of organizations whose business it is to track standards from various bodies, covering many industries with their descriptions attached.

American National Standards Institute
“The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private, non-profit organization (501(c)3) that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system.”

Master List of ISO Standards
“ISO is the leading developer of International Standards. ISO standards specify the requirements for state of the art products, services, processes, materials and systems, and for good conformity assessment, managerial and organizational practice. ISO Standards are designed to be implemented worldwide.”

The World-Wide Web Virtual Library--Standards and Standards Bodies
“World Standards Services Network (WSSN), is a network of publicly accessible World Wide Web servers of standards organizations around the world. Through the Web sites of its members, WSSN provides information on …

Housing, Construction and Business

New York State Quality Communities Program

In the October issue of Grants Action News, the Department of State announced the availability of funding through the New York State Quality Communities Program which may be of interest to regional SBDCs. Under this program, funds are available for planning projects that revitalize downtowns, develop strong economies and protect environmental resources. Eligible applicants may apply for grants by submitting proposals that incorporate one or more of the following programs: Intermunicipal Growth, Community Growth, Community Open Space, Mountain Communities, and Community Center.

ELIGIBILITY: Counties, towns, cities, villages, local public authorities, public benefit corporations, Indian tribes/nations, and not-for-profit corporations.

FUNDING: Contact the Department of State for details.

DEADLINE: December 5, 2005.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Requests for applications and forms along with other pertinent information are available for downloading from the Quality Communities Clearinghouse We…

Trust

From selling products online to selling relationships, businesses need to gain the trust of their customers. Whether they are buying a book or finding a roommate, the customer needs to know that their personal data is in safe hands. Especially for an older generation who are not at all comfortable with online retailing, our clients who are looking to this group as potential customers need to know how to address their fears. I am often surprised at vendors who offer no assurance of security on their websites and yet expect sales. Here are a few articles on the subject.


Building Trust on the Internet
Making Your Client's Privacy Your Business

Inspiring Trust Online
SitePoint By Jennifer Johnson

VeriSign
Probably the best known name in ecommerce security, they offer a widening number of tools for the online business, from payment processing to database tools. You will also find a number of guides on their site explaining the issues facing ecommerce businesses like: What Every E-Business Sh…

Return to vendor

You might call them liquidators, or odd lot processors, but there is a whole industry out there called reverse logistics. From http://www.logisticstoday.com/displayStory.asp?nID=6417:
Reverse logistics is the process of moving goods from their consumer destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal. It includes processing returned merchandise due to damage, seasonal inventory, restock, salvage, recalls and excess inventory, as well as packaging and shipping materials from the end user or reseller.

Check out the main page cited above. You should also view a a 283 page report on Reverse Logistics trends.

Launching a New Product

Advisors across the state are no stranger to clients who've developed a product that could be the Next Big Thing, if only they knew how to get it to market.

Not long ago, the Research Network purchased a compact, 45-page primer on this very thing. It's called "The Complete Guide to Marketing and Launching a New Product," and was published in 2004. Its author, Matthew Yubas, has been a marketing consultant to small businesses for 20 years.

Sections in the article are short and simple, providing tidbits on such things as how to price properly; how to brand the product; a launch checklist; using direct mail effectively; and others. Often the text will direct a reader to other sources for additional information.

Again, this is a brief introduction to the methods of bringing a product to market, and likely reiterates information that you provide your clients during the consultation period. However, clients who are simply bewildered at where to begin, and how to organize …

Tapping into the Hispanic Market

By the year 2020 the Hispanic population is projected to reach 53 million, with buying power projected to surpass the $1 trillion mark by the year 2010.
The median income of Hispanic households rose by 20% from $27,977…to $33,565...between 1996 and 2001 while the median for all households increased...6%.
Of all ethnic groups, Hispanics frequent the mall the most (10.1 times per three-week period) and stay the longest (91.5 minutes).These factoids and more can be found at HispanSource, a web site devoted to Hispanic market info. This site is a one-stop resource for locating marketing and research findings, reports, and references related to marketing to the Hispanic community. HispanSource is a joint creation of several parties—the City of St. Paul, Minn.; the James J. Hill Reference Library; Aguilar Productions; and Latinocreative.com. All are located in the St. Paul/Minneapolis (Minn.) area. Note: HispanSource is free but requires registration.

On Burnout:

“Burnout is spiritual, physical, emotional and/or mental exhaustion, usually resulting from one or more long-term, unsatisfying efforts. Burnout seems to be on the rise in organizations, resulting in poor health, poor performance and conflicts in the workplace (internal conflicts and conflicts with others).” by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD http://www.managementhelp.org/prsn_wll/burnout.htm

With the pressures of finances and looming deadlines, it is easy for companies to forget that their biggest asset is the people who keep the business going. When negative attitudes are not kept in check, they spread, morale falters and productivity suffers. Managers need to spot and fix problems before they contribute to an overall negative atmosphere.
For a very complete explanation of burnout and it’s symptoms and effects, visit http://www.fmi.uni-passau.de/worterklaerungen/burnout.html

Negativity in the Workplace
Brian Norris

Brian Norris is selling something. Seminars and training programs - but he doe…

File it for later

One of the SBDC regional centers actually reproduces much of the information it receives from the Research Network and puts in into a vertical file, by category.

Now, I’m not suggesting that YOUR center do that, but you might consider making copies of frequently requested data, information that many clients, and the center itself, could make good use of. Most of what we send out does not change on a weekly or monthly basis. Some of this includes:

Traffic patterns
Demographic information, especially from the print sources:
-Community Sourcebook of County Demographics
-Community Sourcebook of ZIP Code Demographics
-Lifestyle Market Analyst
Industry data specific to the region

A new center director came up to Central and visited the library. He indicated that the demographic information we pulled for him will be of use for several of his clients.

Also, a center may have a number of requests for the same type of general information, the type included in the DOL packets. Maybe there are lots of…

Small Business Blogs

Now that you're accustomed to reading the Research Network blog, you may want to branch out to read other blogs. For example, do a search in Google for "small business blogs" and the results show a plethora from which to choose. Here are a few worth noting:
The Small Business Blog from AllBusiness.comSmall Business TrendsFresh Inc., the Inc.com WeblogEntrepreneur.comThe Entrepreneurial MindOnce you start reading, it's hard to stop. Let us know what your favorite blogs are.

The Business of Art

Visual Artists and Craftspeople

The New York Foundation for the Artstops my list for information on the business of art. They offer articles on all the key topics for any working artist – money, legal issues, marketing, mental health, and also include interviews and profiles on working artists. They also include a classified section and lots of information on grants, fellowships and residencies.

Arts Marketing.org
A walk through the steps an arts organization (in the broad sense of the word) needs travel to reach their marketing goals. Includes case studies like a look at a successful direct marketing campaign completed by an arts museum, rebranding and attracting the family audience.

The Graphic Arts Guild
An essential resource for graphic artists, they publish the GAG Pricing & Ethical Guidelines Handbook that every graphic designer should already know but also have a good website that has one immediately useful feature: Ask Mark, a tip sheet with intelligent answers to common issues…

Census business data

I went to a workshop on Census data this summer, and I foiund some things that may not be clear to you or your clients:

Census does economic surveys on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, depending on the survey. These tend to be of limited detail, and mostly national.
Census conducts the Economic Census every 5 years, the years ending with 2 and 7. The data are industry specific and addresses a detailed geography, often down to the county level. While the Economic Census does get sent out to businesses, the Census Bureau also relies on administrative records, such as filings of federal tax schedules relating to businesses.
The Economic Census does NOT cover Agriculture or Government. The Census of Agriculture is run by the USDA. while the Census Bureau does a separate Census of Governments.

A reminder: Census Bureau surveys are CONFIDENTIAL, which means that it does not give individual or business data to the IRS, or USCIS (the former INS). This allows more effective gathering so …

Small Business Fax Transmissions

In 2003, the FCC was proposing a revision to Federal law that would mandate all for-profit businesses to have express written permission from a recipient before sending them a commercial fax. Small business owners complained that faxes were an established marketing tool for many of them. The proposed rule change would have made it illegal to send unsolicited faxes to even long-time customers.

However, the FCC relented. In July 2005, the Junk Fax Prevention Act was signed into law. Among other things, the Act recognizes the "established business relationship" rule. Now, unsolicited faxes can be sent if 1) the sender can prove an established business relationship with the recipient, and 2) the fax contains a conspicuous notice on its first page enabling the recipient to opt out of any future faxes. Businesses must obtain fax numbers directly from the recipient, or from published sources such as phone directories, company advertisements, or the company Web site.

The phrase …