Posts

Showing posts from 2006

New year, new website...

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Hooray! As I imagine most of you have received Brian's email, you now know that www.nyssbdc.org has a new look and some organizational changes. Many thanks to all who contributed suggestions and materials for this revision.

It's definitely still a work in progress (Yes- no one likes the request for counseling form. Folks will have to sit down to decide what information we need to collect here and what we should do with it before any major edits occur.) The center sites have a new look, but the same information. We will make every attempt to tackle a major revision of those pages in the near future, so start thinking about what you'd like to see on your center's pages.

I hope, however, that some of the organizational changes will better allow the central site to change and grow. And I hope that our clients' happy faces on many of the pages will encourage others to give us a call.

Comments, questions and suggestions (as always) are greatly appreciated.

Happy New Year!

Internet Explorer 7 and the Entrepreneur

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IE 7 is here - got in our office last week -with all sorts of new features such as:
Phishing Filter
Proactively warns and helps protect you against potential or known fraudulent sites and blocks the site if appropriate. The opt-in filter is updated several times per hour using the latest security information from Microsoft and several industry partners.


This means, starting early next year, the address bar in Internet Explorer 7 will turn green when surfing to a legitimate Web site--but only in some cases, not all.

"But the new system adopted for IE 7 has been causing friction, too. Initially, only corporations will be able to get the [green color] online trust indicator--a rule that shuts out smaller businesses. While the CA Browser Forum is still working on final guidelines that would include all legitimate Web sites, those could take a while to complete." Microsoft's Phishing Filter turns address bars yellow if on suspicious sites and red on confirmed phishing sites. Whe…

Plumbing Woes

Well, not that it has helped me this time, but I’m sure these sites will come in handy one day when I am in my next plumbing crisis. Today, I leave it to the professionals. If you are ever so unfortunate as to be in a wet situation, perhaps these sites might help:

www.Theplumber.com

"theplumber.com web site, has been called one of the "best web sites" by the #1 on-line multimedia encyclopedia - Encarta"
"Even Encyclopedia Britannica has linked to us in the past as one of "The Web's Best Sites"
"World Book On-Line Encyclopedia specially selected theplumber.com by their Editors as well theplumber.com was rated a Hot Site by USA Today"


Plumbing at DoItYourself.com
http://www.doityourself.com/scat/plumbing


Plumbing on Wikipedia.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing


www.plbg.com
The Plumbing Education and Information Sharing Site


www.Toiletology101.com
Basics of Indoor Plumbing & Toilet Repairs


~~Murphy's Law~~

"If something can go …

Online resource for specialty food businesses

When we get a question about starting a specialty food business we frequently turn to Stephen Hall’s From Kitchen to Market for some practical advice. There is now an accompanying website for the book, complete with a free discussion forum and a Food Entrepreneur eZine, available at http://www.specialtyfoodresource.com/ .

The eZine has a variety of short, helpful articles and the issues are archived. The forum includes topics like “Pricing your product,” “Getting distributors” and “Understanding the industry” and Mr. Hall seems to be a frequent contributor. Looks like a great way for our clients to ask questions of other entrepreneurs and an expert in the field.

(One CAN Get Some) Satisfaction

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American Consumer Satisfaction Index
"ACSI reports scores on a 0-100 scale at the national level. It also produces indexes for 10 economic sectors, 43 industries (including e-commerce and e-business), and more than 200 companies and federal or local government agencies. The measured companies, industries, and sectors are broadly representative of the U.S. economy serving American households."

A blog post from a Usability and Design firm called Adaptive Path.
The blog as a whole is rather interesting, too.

A recent National Retail Federation/American Express study placed Amazon at the top of online and brick & mortar stores.
***
And, apropos of nothing, Keith Richards turned 63 yesterday.

NationMaster

Sometimes I come across a site and marvel at the amount of work put into its upkeep. A few weeks ago, I read about a site called NationMaster. It's a site where you can glean data for a single country from a huge variety of topics (economic, geographic, income, labor, religion, and on and on).

The site originates in Australia, but collects data from a wealth of resources and arranges them in a very easy interface. Since our clients are interested in importing and/or exporting with just about every nation on Earth, this site is extremely helpful.

As a bonus, this site links to a companion page called StateMaster, providing an additional wealth of data for each state in the U.S. These two sites are great for us researchers, and great for kids out there with a paper to write on the main exports of the Maldives.

(And speaking of kids & the Maldives, NORAD once again presents its annual Santa Tracker website. For those of you interested in tracking ol' St. Nick on Christmas E…

Online Ad Spending

The Future of Web Ads is in Britain
The New York Times

By Louise Story and Eric Pfanner
Published December 4, 2006
According to this article Britain is leading the way – way ahead of the US in terms of online advertising and suggests that maybe we can learn from the UK experience.

eMarketer
NOVEMBER 27, 2006 “An emerging consensus paints a positive picture. The trend began early last week, when the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released new data showing that US Internet advertising revenues reached a record $4.2 billion in the third quarter of 2006.”
British Online Ad Spending Outpacing U.S. By Nearly 2 to 1
Seeking Alpha

Posted on Dec 4th, 2006
Carl Howe (Blackfriars Communications)

The Federal Trade Commission – Facts for Businesses
Dot Com Disclosures
A guide for the ecommerce marketer.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

On Monday I finished a question about marketing to baby boomers. That night, I happened to see a piece on the news on marketing to baby boomers. That to me is a sign that I should blog about marketing to baby boomers.

Here are a few interesting articles (and a video) that discuss some prominent marketing campaigns, the use of baby boomer celebrities in advertising, and offer some information about boomer spending patterns:

Business Week: Love Those Boomers

US News: Oldies but goodies (Personally, I would never refer to baby boomers as "oldies." The nerve!)

MSNBC: Baby Boomers Create New Marketing Frontier

Copyright's a Fuzzy Thing, Sometimes

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Parody: copyright infringement or fair use? It depends.

One interesting article that my colleague Amelia came across is "Who owns Barbie?;
CORPORATIONS ARE SUING ARTISTS OVER POP CULTURE ICONS" by John Petrick, in the September 25, 2005 Sunday Record (Bergen, NJ)

"Parody by its nature requires that you make reference to the original. So once something is determined a 'parody,' there's a lot of breathing room," says John Koegle, an attorney who represents artists.

Nevertheless, some companies feel they should be able to control any depiction of their work in public life. And in some cases, they have prevailed. There was the 1978 case in which Disney sued an underground cartoonist who depicted Mickey Mouse engaged in various adult behaviors. While the artist argued it was clearly parody - or "fair use" under the law - the court didn't buy it and ruled the images were copyright infringement.

In 1994, on the other hand, 2 Live Crew was sued for its…

World Almanac

I freely admit to finding ideas for this blog from other blogs that I read. Not everything, mind you (I am capable of some original thought). For instance, not long ago I read on ResourceShelf.com that the editors of the World Almanac - that most venerable of reference tools - had created a blog of their own last October 1st.

I received my first World Almanac as a Christmas gift when I was eight years old. I won't say that I heard my calling as a librarian that very day (there was an ill-fated stretch of years when I felt destined to play centerfield for the Red Sox), but it was certainly a harbinger of things to come. The WA blog won't necessarily be of everyday benefit to you & your clients, but I include it here as a tribute to an old friend.

SBA Hosts Live Web Chat on Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

WHO: Thomas P. Ochsenschlager, vice president of Taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), will host the SBA’s December Web chat on "Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners."
Chat participants will receive valuable information about the importance of year-end planning and steps small business owners can take to reduce their
2006 tax bills, as Ochsenschlager answers questions on year-end tax savings.
WHAT: The SBA’s live Web chat series provides business owners the opportunity to have discussions online about relevant business issues with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Participants have direct, real-time access to the Web chats via questions they submit online in advance and during the session, with instant answers.
WHEN: Thursday, December 14, 2006, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., ET.
Ochsenschlager will answer questions for one hour.
HOW: Participants can join the live Web chat by going online to www.sba.gov, and clicking…

SBDC on TV

Want to see some SBDC folks on TV? The Mohawk Valley SBDC turned 20 years old, and Syracuse's News 10 was there to cover it. Luckily for the rest of us, this clip is online too, here .

I wanted to share the fun, but also remind you all to send me your clips, your news articles, your business advice. . .

It's nice to share.

Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes, et al.

The Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes provides a general descriptive overview of the taxes which New York State and its local governments impose, and is revised periodically to reflect recently enacted law changes. It does not include non-tax revenue sources such as motor vehicle fees and the Lottery. Instead, it focuses on taxes, especially those administered by the Department of Taxation and Finance.
To download the entire publication, the October 2006 Edition, please visit here.
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Tax Department Announces Discontinuation of Publication 352, which is Income Tax Forms and Instructions and Selected Corporation and Withholding Tax Forms. However, the CD-ROM of the publication is available for sale. View the document.
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For you policy wonks, Streamlining New York's Sales Tax: Examining Requirements for Compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement

The Streamlined Sales Tax Project was founded in March 2000, with the purpose of developing measures to simplify and…

Articles on Electronic Business

Recently, Walter Reid from the Farmingdale SBDC forwarded me an article that originally appeared in Derek Gehl's E-Business column, part of the Entrepreneur magazine website. The article presented brief, straightforward strategies to boost traffic to small business websites. It is not geared at those who are super-proficient in the ways of website marketing, but rather to the (I suspect) vast majority of business owners who are not.

I'm not going to reproduce the article here, mainly because I went to his website & found many, many articles of his that were worth telling you about. The worth of an article is not always just what it tells you, but what thoughts it triggers in your head. Each of these provides a wealth of suggestions & links to other sites, and might be worth keeping in mind the next time you have a tentative e-businessperson in your office.

(Thanks, Walter!)

and I quote...

Ok, so I have not felt inspired. But, today I was dealing with a request for copyright free quotes and this led me to a few sites of general interest. (Incidentally, many quotes are copyright free by nature – since so many of them are from historic personages, but the arrangement of those quotes in a given collection would be copyright protected.)

The usual suspects are:

The Quotations Page is a labor of love created and maintained by Michael Moncur and his wife Laura Moncur. They offer Quotes of the Day , Motivational Quotes of the Dayand the usual search function by author and subject.

There is also Quoteland.com

Wikiquotewhich further breaks categories down to those such as:
Epitaphs
Misquotations
Films
and Proverbs

CoolQuotes.com

IMDb.com also has a Movie Quote page.

And for a laugh:
Things People Said which a collection of quotes from everyday people.

Cyber Monday?

Guess which day of the year is the busiest for most online retailers. Here’s a clue: Its not “Cyber Monday”.

Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, when shoppers return to work and their speedy internet connections, has been heralded as the top online shopping day. Turns out it’s really probably the 12th busiest day of the year. But that’s not stopping online retailers from using this term for their own marketing purposes.

Read about the myth and the reality in this Business Week article.

With all this online shopping, one might think that the paper catalog is a thing of the past. Turns out that catalogs (like many other paper-based products, including books and the clutter on my desk) are not leaving us just because a digital alternative exists.

Read why the catalog is here to stay here.

P.S. The busiest online shopping day is probably between Dec. 5 and Dec. 15.

Copyrighted or Not

The purpose of copyright is right in the U.S. Constitution, Section 8 of Article 1:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

Notice a few things:
-the words copyright, patent or trademark are never used
-the word "limited" is specified
-the exclusive Right is designed to promote progress

Some folks either do not understand this or choose to ignore it.

An example from the workshop I attended is the Boston Globe reprinting the Declaration of Independence last year. At the end, it says (c)2005 Boston Globe. Interesting because the Declaration is not copyrightable! That's true on two fronts, actually: 1) material printed by the federal government (or what would become same) are not copyrightable - so go ahead, steal away from the Census Bureau, e.g., and 2) even if it HAD been copyrighted, the item by now would have lapsed into the public domain. Rememb…

Multiples for Business Valuation Formulas

Wow . . . now there's a snappy, exciting title!

When our clients are buying or selling a business, they sometimes need a formula that they can use to calculate a fair price. We have several books on determining a business' value, but none of them are comprehensive. There are always certain types of businesses for which formulas are not provided.

I've come to like one resource in particular, because it does cover a wider scope of businesses. It hails from ValuationResources.com. Here's a link to a sample of their 2006 version (it's a PDF file, just so you know). Page 1 provides a basic review of some pretty simple formulas, while the remaining 8 pages list multiples for various SIC codes.

We have the 2004 edition in our collection, and plan on purchasing this 2006 edition very soon. Should you ask for a valuation formula in the future, it's very likely that data from this resource will be part - if not all - of the response.

What does your Phone Number Spell?

Phone Spell
http://www.phonespell.org/phoneSpell.html

The PhoneSpell search engine allows you to look up your number to see what it spells. This service offered by Phone Spell works on the honor system - if you find the service useful, they ask that you make an appropriate donation. Seems fair enough:
"The PhoneSpell® search engine provides three 4 services in one! You may have heard that now you can take your phone number with you when you move. Enter a 6 to 10 digit phone number and we'll show you what words and phrases your phone number spells to help you decide if you want to keep it. Opening a business and need a new phone number? Pick a new 7 or 8 digit phone number by typing in an available exchange (first 3 to 5 digits) and see what one-word numbers you can choose from. Searching for just the right toll free number to advertise? Type in letters and we will show you the corresponding phone number. We can even dial the number for you!"

A $3.6 billion industry, an average of $1.07 per pound, and 13.4 pounds per person per year…

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Its turkey! For many of the major holidays the US Census website prepares fun factoids related to that time of the year, calling them "Facts for Features."

Did you know that there are three towns called Turkey in the United States? Or that 1.6 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were produced in the United States in 2005?

Yummy. Read more about it here or just click on the turkey on the left side of the main census page, http://www.census.gov/ .

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

2005 American Community Survey

Here's the good news: there are annual data available from the American Community Survey. It now covers geographies of 65,000 or more, compared with the 250,000 population limit from last year. The ACS is designed to replace the 2010 Census long form questions.

Here's the bad news: because of previous cuts in the Congressional funding, the 2005 ACS does not capture data from group quarters, which include prisons, college dormitories, and nursing homes.

So, for instance, the population estimate for the city of Albany - calculated through a different methodology - is 93,523, down from 95,658 in the 2000 Decennial Census. But the 2005 ACS shows 78,404. One cannot make any population comparisons.

Depending on the category, one may or may not be able to compare other characteristics either. For instance, 2005 ACS data in a place with dorms will skew older than what's really happening, whereas a place with a large nursing home will skew younger. Data on race, place of birth, vetera…

Business Lists & Reference USA

Not a day goes by here without fulfilling a request for a client who needs a list of this business or that. For years, the Research Network used a CD-ROM product called the American Business Disc (ABD) to make these lists possible.

Last summer, InfoUSA announced that it was no longer making this CD-ROM available. The company (like every software provider in the information industry) is trying to steer former CD-ROM subscribers towards their web-based equivalent, called Reference USA.

Many of you might be familiar with Ref USA. It is a common presence on databases offered for free to cardholders of local public libraries (as well as the New York State Library). If you're not familiar with it . . . you're about to be.

Starting later this month, the Research Network will be creating business lists from this website. You shouldn't see much difference in the end product. Oddly, the web version of this product isn't nearly as versatile as the CD-ROM (a lot of useful searc…

Statistics on housing, demographics, quality of life in NYC’s neighborhoods

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Angel Roman sent us a link to an interesting report with housing and community stats by community board, issued by the Furman Center:
State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods 2005.


"Every year the Furman Center compiles statistics on housing, demographics and quality of life in New York City’s neighborhoods from a variety of sources.

"This edition streamlines the presentation to focus attention on the critical data that reveals how the City, its five boroughs, and its 59 community districts, have fared in recent years. It shows how each of the City’s neighborhoods is progressing, both in absolute terms and in relation to other areas of the City. It provides the first independent analysis of the just-released results of the 2005 Housing and Vacancy Survey. Finally, it adds a chapter analyzing how the affordability and availability of housing has changed between 2002 and 2005."

New Arrivals: Books

Flecker, Cody.
Collect Your Money:

Fenix, Walter.
Cleaning Services Bid Estimation:

Hynes, William G.
Start & Run a Craft Business

Mcknight, Thomas
Will it Fly?

Louis, Louise
101 Home Based Businesses for Pet Lovers

Taylor, Don
Up Against the Wal-Marts

Levine, Mark L.
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing

Richards, René V.
Online Marketing Success Stories

Baourakis, George.
Marketing Trends for Organic Food in the 21st Century

Mitchell, Susan
American Generations

Stanberry, Scott
Federal Contracting Made Easy

Pressman, David
Patent it Yourself

Chain Store Guide
2006 Directory of Apparel Specialty Stores

Nonprofits & Charitable Giving

We’ve received a number of questions related to nonprofit organizations lately. The National Center for Charitable Statistics is another good resource for finding information about the US nonprofit sector as well as charitable giving statistics.

The number of non-profit organizations in New York 1996-2004 is located here: the data can be broken down by type of nonprofit (i.e. public charities, private foundations) and includes information on asset levels and/or topical areas.

More interested in household giving statistics? Try this “Table Wizard,” which will yield reports on giving by state, county or income level.

Copyright and Digitization

I attended a workshop last month sponsored by the Capital District Library Council, entitled "Copyright and Digitization for Libraries, Archives, and Museums" by Peter B. Hirtle, the Intellectual Property Officer at the Cornell University Library. Fascinating stuff, copyright in the digital age.

One of things Mr. Hirtle always makes clear is something we librarians at the Research Network try to make clear when we address one of your copyright, patent, trademark or similar questions, which is what he calls IANAL - I Am Not A Lawyer. For many of the issues, the issues are not black and white, which leads to litigation.

Librarians, as users of protected material, have a certain awareness of their obligations. One of the things I DID NOT KNOW is how digitization makes US, the librarians, the users. Whereas when someone goes to the library and uses the copier, or even uses the librarian as his or her agent, the patron is the user. So you'll be seeing some additional verbiage i…

An URL of Your Own

Back on September 18th, I wrote a post that described the Research Network's plans on providing information digitally in response to client requests. Today, we took a big step in making this a reality.

We'd been experimenting in attaching files (Word docs, Excel sheets, PDF files, HTM pages, etc.) for several months, but it was causing unforeseen problems. Our mail server & your mail server may not agree on certain things (like the size of a file being sent, or whether a message would fall prey to a junk mail filter, etc.). As a result, some messages weren’t being received. So, rather than trying to memorize the quirks of 20+ mail servers around the state, a different method was born.

Gus Geidel (our harried but diligent MIS guy) created a section on the main SBDC website in which any of the RN librarians can "drop" a file. More often than not, the file will be several documents stitched together, and saved as a PDF file.

The file name will comprise two parts: the a…

Community

Given the huge popularity of Craig’s List and the spawning of so many other online communities, you may be interested to read this article from Fast Company that offers Craig Newmark’s view of “communities” and how to build them, their shortcomings and best practices.

Are You on Craig's List?
Craig Newmark has organized a community whose members include some of the Web's most influential people. Here is his manual for (virtual) community organizers.
From: Issue nc02 November 2000 Page 26 By: Katharine Mieszkowski
Photographs By: Sam Jones

Free Photos

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Currently, we at the central office have a subscription to an online image database, and several of the photographs that appear on the SBDC website come from this resource. But, as I make revisions to the website (and I hope you’ll see some of them soon), I’m trying to put up fewer “canned” images and more pictures of our gorgeous clients.

But what if you don’t want to pay for images and you don’t have a wealth of smiling faces to put on your website? Try these sources:

U.S. Government Photos and Multimedia
Most images on U.S. government websites are in the public domain, and can be freely reproduced and reused without permission. Browse available images from this site- just be careful to check each source’s policies to make sure you’re in the copyright clear before nabbing any images.

Creative Commons Image Search
For less governmental images, try the search engine at Creative Commons. Images indexed here still may be licensed in various ways (read more about Creative Commons licensing op…

Performance Based Interviewing

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has put together something called Performance Based Interviewing.


PBI "is a method to increase the effectiveness of the interviewing process in selecting and promoting quality staff. With PBI, the interviewer carefully defines the skills needed for the job and structures the interview process to elicit behavioral examples of past performance."

One interesting feature is a bank of interview questions designed by the job function. Following each level is a sample question.

Level I: Frontline staff, those who do not supervise others.
"Give a specific example of a time you had to deal with an upset co-worker, patient, or other customer. What was the person upset about and how did you handle? What was the outcome?"

Level II: Work unit leaders, those who lead the work of a natural group of people, either temporarily (process improvement team leader) or as an ongoing role (foreman, section leader).
"A part of this job is documenting your …

Small Business Statistics

We've mentioned this before (in June 2005, to be precise), but it bears repeating:

If your local media/legislator/campus office contacts you for some immediate data regarding the state of small business, then here are some sites you can visit to get that information:

SBA's Office of Advocacy is the primary resource regarding studies of national & state small business trends. On their home page, note a menu on the left-hand side titled "Research & Statistics". A number of links appear beneath that heading, including "State Economic Profiles" (which provides small business data for New York & other states for the individual years 2002-2006, inclusive).

Other choices on this menu include "Data on Small Business" and "Owner Demographics," both of which lead to pages that cite reports written by Advocacy over the last several years on a wide variety of topics (including women in business, the availability of financing to small firm…

FREE NY TIMES Select

The New York Times had put most of their opinion columns and online archives behind a subscription wall and called it Times Select. It suddenly cost fifty smackers to access their columnists. Not this week.
http://select.nytimes.com/pages/timesselect/index.html November 6-12, 2006

VOTE!

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Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7.
For more information, contact your local Board of Elections and/or the League of Women Voters.

The Small Business Book of Lists

The StreetWise Small Business Book of Lists: Hundreds of Lists to Help You reduce Costs, Increase Revenues, and Boost Your Profits.The broad sections in this book are: Starting Up, High Finance, Where you Work, Day-to-Day, Your Taxes, The Geek Section, Your Customers & Prospects, and Your People.
That sounds like the usual rundown but each of these sections covers lists like:


Ways to Find Your Start-up’s Niche in the MarketThings to do Before Writing Your Government ProposalMost Common Home-Based Business Zoning Issues Questions to Ask When Interviewing and Individual Accountant Best Ways to Reduce Inventories Popular Voice Mail Systems Popular CRM Vendors for Enterprises Tips for creating Your Direct Mail ListJust another good source to add to our repetoire.

Adventures in Real Estate

Perhaps it is just my “nesting" instinct, but this apartment-dweller wants a house. For the time being, I’ll just have to settle for researching housing trends. To that end, here are a couple of good sites:

Money Magazine has prepared several Top 10 lists on the real estate market, including which markets are forecasted to have the fastest growth, slowest growth, and highest and lowest home prices.

This page also offers articles and advice on real estate topics.

For more information on housing in this country, check out Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. They offer some very useful full-text reports, including ‘The State of the Nation’s Housing, 2006,” “America’s Rental Housing, 2006” and “The Changing Structure of the Home Remodeling Industry, 2005.”

All Hallows' Eve

From the ghouls at the Census BOO-REAU:

The observance of Halloween, which dates back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago, has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts, devils and hobgoblins. In the United States, the first official citywide Halloween celebration occurred in Anoka, Minn., in 1921. Over the years, Halloween customs and rituals have changed dramatically. Today, many of the young and “young-at-heart” take a more light-spirited approach. They don scary disguises or ones that may bring on smiles when they go door-to-door for treats or attend or host a Halloween party.

"Trick or Treat!"
36.1 million: The estimated number of potential "trick-or-treaters" in 2005 — 5- to 13-year-olds — across the United States, which declined by 284,000 from 2004. Of course, many other children — older than 13, and younger than age 5 — also go trick-or-treating.

108 million: Number of occupied housing units across the nation — all potential stops for "tric…

Signage Site is Now Running!

The web-based version of the SBDC book "What's Your Signage?" is now up & running. It went live late last Friday. It can be found at http://www.whatsyoursignage.com.

The site is a very compressed version of our 2004 book, and has two purposes. The first is to give small business owners a brief overview on the value of effective signs. Studies have shown that effective signage has a positive impact on sales.

The second purpose of the site is to match small business owners with a sign company near them. The site was developed with a lot of help from the International Sign Association, and they're also letting us use their member database.

Signage doesn't seem to elicit much of a response. It's not always something that is considered when our clients come to us, looking to improve their marketing reach. However, as a cost-effective & hard-working advertising mechanism for a business, it ought to be.

Our website would be just the tip of the iceberg fo…

New Book List

With a bit of a year-end shopping spree, we have updated a number of areas in our collection with titles that we imagined would interest our clientele given the type of requests we get. We have tried to focus on practical titles, many that deal with specific industries. There are a few books that are generally geared to small business owners, on marketing and business principles that are still very interesting. 3G Marketing on the InternetBricks & Mortar: renovating or Building a Business Incubation FacilityConducting Research Surveys Via Email & the WebDan Poynter’s Self Publishing ManualDrive a Modest Car& 16 Other Keys to Small Business SuccessGuerilla Marketing for FreeHow to Create a High Profit Photography BusinessLegal Research: How to Find and Understand the LawMaking Money in the Fitness BusinessOrganic, Inc.Patent, Copyright & TrademarkSpa Business StrategiesStart Your Own hair Salon & Day SpaStarting a Medical PracticeThe 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small B…

New Media Bibliography

Created by David Sheddon, Library Director at the Poynter Institute (a journalism school), this bibliography presents resources for those working in new media. Useful to anyone involved with internet publishing, or those just curious about the information sharing power of the Web.

Links include various histories of the internet, guides to blogging, and internet trends, stats and demographics. There are lists of relevant books too.

Money Supply and Floor Space

I learn so much from being on certain listservs. For instance, from the Business Librarians' list, I've learned that:
M1 Money supply = currency, demand deposits, checkable deposits, and travelers checks
M2 money supply = M1 + savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds
M2 is the more accepted total and is always much larger than M1.

Information on this is released weekly here. Historical data can be found here. Information can also be found here and here , though I find the latter, because of the format, to be less useful.

Small business folks probably won't be asking about these things, but you may have a relationship with economic development folks or others who may wish to know.

Another tidbit I learned are the definitions of a building's floor space:

Gross floor area - "The total area of all the floors of a building, including intermediately floored tiers, mezzanine, basements, etc., as measured from the exterior surfaces of the outside wall…

State Health Facts

StateHealthFacts.org is a website that enables you to view data for any state in the U.S., and see how it compares to the rest of the country. As its name would suggest, the site focuses heavily on presenting health-related data (e.g., level of insurance coverage, Medicare spending, general health measures, etc.). It also has a broad category called "Demographics and the Economy," which might be applicable to a broader variety of clients (and not just those working in the healthcare field).

The Business of Baseball

In honor of the season, how about some baseball business?
On this Forbes site, MLB teams are ranked according to current value, revenue and operating income. There are also graphs of historical value for each team.

Not into baseball?
Try the business of football , basketball , hockey or soccer .

Get a Lawyer

When I first started as a librarian a little over a dozen years ago, someone showed me these thick volumes that listed virtually all of the lawyers in the country, designating their specialty. It was one of those resources that begged to be accessed electronically. In time, the Martindale-Hubbell database appeared online, and for free.

I'm reminded of this because one of our SBDC clients, aware of the resource, was not finding what she wanted. I suspect that she was using the Basic Search mode, which I personally find clunky. I prefer the Advanced mode, where I can select lawyers by city/county/state, and by areas of practice. I'd be inclined to select "lawyer" rather than "law firm", because the lawyer selection will identify the law firm.

Online Retail Statistics

Shop.org describes itself as an "association for retailers online". One of the features of its website is a cool compendium of links that provide helpful statistics regarding online retailing. As you'll soon see, categories studied on this page include "US Internet Usage," "US Online Shoppers," "Vertical Markets," "E-Business Trends," and a few others. Keep it handy when advising your e-commerce clientele.

Art Marketing

I have the feeling that I have visited this topic before, but as I am working on a related enquiry, here is a very short list of sources for artist clients to help them get in-the-know:

http://www.nonstarvingartists.com/Resources/ideas.html
A venue for posting portfolios, searching for artist opportunities, book titles, and advice.

http://www.artdaily.com/
A daily newspaper to check up on what’s going on, who’s doing what, with reviews of artists, galleries and museums from around the world. It has a good long list of artists, exhibition listings, art fairs and other artist and art lover’s resources.

http://www.newyorkartworld.com/
Offers the “Art Clock”, a listing of shows around the world. Features include: Artist News, American Arts, Artists Guide, which is a listing of artist’s resources like movers, journals, insurance, galleries and cooperatives.

http://www.artbusiness.com/
For our purposes, this is quite a good site because it offers articles on so many issues that face working artists…

Business Plans and Profiles Index

Librarians really are nice folks. I sent out an email to one of our listservs in search of an online product like the Small Business Sourcebook (DOL packet staple), and a kind librarian from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh replied with this useful resource.

The Business Plans and Profiles Index, http://www.carnegielibrary.org/subject/business/bplansindex.html, offers online business plans where available, and directs users to print resources as well. Want a sample plan for "Butterflies and Moths, Retail" ? Sure thing. And for the print sources, we at the Research Network may be able to help you find those materials too.

Sales Tax Calculator

We received a question about finding a software product that would calculate the sales tax in the 70-odd taxing units in the state of New York, which I did, but I wondered if the state tax department had anything that one could use online. I called a representative, who said there was none; he was wrong, as I found this free NYS sales tax lookup solution. It's a lot easier than looking up a list of all the communities in NYS, or even using this chart, and a lot more efficient. As the communities document states, do NOT use ZIP code alone as the criterion for assigning sales tax. ZIP Code 12309, e.g., is in both Albany and Schenectady Counties.

That said, if you’re looking for ZIP Codes by county, go here.

I suspect that most merchants are unfamiliar with the sales tax calculator, based on this discussion, where one participant writes: "Ugh... I think I'll just ban sales to New York residents and just be done with it. :-)." Please get the word out that, if one has the s…

Top Venture Capital Firms for Entrepreneurs

A recent issue of Entrepreneur magazine contained this insert, titled "The Top Venture Capital Firms for Entrepreneurs", based on activity during the year 2005. This eight-page PDF file reports a summary of the "Money Tree Report," an annual study of venture capital activity conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers & the National Venture Capital Association.

Companies included here were ranked by the number of fundings to both startup and early-stage companies (defined as those being in business less than 24 months). The actual directory of the companies is extremely brief, and includes just the fund name, the physical location of its main office, and a link to their website.

Many of these names are familiar to me, based on past searches of the Galante's venture capital directory in our collection. If you'd like more information on any funds listed in this PDF, give us a call.

The blogosphere is expanding...

The world of weblogs just keeps growing. But how fast? Check out this blog entry, full of facts about blogs today at http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000436.html . Did you know that the Blogosphere is more than 100 times bigger than it was three years ago? Or that in June 2006 31% of blog posts were in Japanese?

Or go straight to the source at http://technorati.com/ and see just what people are writing about and searching for.

Read more about using blogs as a marketing tool at http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/bot08061.shtml . While this article is about legal "blawgs" and marketing a law practice, it offers good information for anyone considering using blogs for their business.

Co-Packing

Challenges of Co-Packing
Food Product Design
R&D Management
By: Christine M. Homsey, Contributing Editor
April 1999

This article fleshes out the trials and tribulations for marketer and manufacturer, offering some advice on choosing an arrangement.


“Many factors need to be considered when signing a contract with a co-packer. For example, projected product volumes will influence how good a match a marketer and manufacturer will be. If a marketer has very low volumes or a single product to sell, many manufacturers will not want to bother. On rare occasions, co-packers turn away large volumes that would cause them to exceed their capacity or make them too dependent on one customer.” Making Your Business Their Business
Is Contract Packaging The Right Fit For You?
By Mel Duvall
PMT: Packaging Machinery Technology


Onecle
Sample Business Contracts
Here is a sample contract for a co-packing agreement:
Packaging Agreement between Hansen Beverage Company and U.S. Continental Packaging, Inc.

2002 SBO/2004 Employment Size Data/2005 SB Profiles

2002 SURVEY OF BUSINESS OWNERS (SBO), formerly known as the Surveys of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (SMOBE/SWOBE)
"Half of U.S. Businesses Are Home-Based, Majority of Firms Self-Financed, Census Bureau Reports
The Survey of Business Owners (SBO)...provides statistics that describe the composition of U.S. businesses by gender, Hispanic or Latino origin, and race. Additional statistics include owner's age, education level, veteran status, and primary function in the business; family- and home-based businesses; types of customers and workers; and sources of financing for expansion, capital improvements, or start-up. Economic policymakers in federal, state and local governments use the SBO data to understand conditions of business success and failure by comparing census-to-census changes in business performances and by comparing minority-/nonminority- and women-/men-owned businesses."

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau has also released 2004 employment size data on …

Source for Manufacturers' Reps

We used to have password access to an online database of manufacturers' reps. However, the rules of information access are constantly changing, and the site's owners pulled the plug on our access.

I've only recently discovered that you can obtain lists of manufacturers' reps from the Thomas Register site. Some of you may have already discovered this, but for those that haven't, it's pretty cool.

On the home page, type a word or phrase in the "Product/Service" tab for what you're seeking. When you get results, notice the column titled "Modify Results" on the left hand side. Looking down that column, you'll see a box titled "Company Type". Notice "Manufacturers' Reps" is one of the options. The number of reps appears in parentheses (and, if there are none, expect to see a zero).

Click on the link, and boom, there you have it. I'm pretty sure that the TR's geography is limited to the U.S. and Canada, …

Ageism in the Workplace

Another interesting tidbit on the radio this morning was concerning ageism in the workplace – in both directions. The British government is only now introducing legislation to attempt to curb age discrimination in the workplace. On PersonnelToday.com, a favorite magazine for the HR professional, they ran a story in about a small survey done by a consultancy called Water for Fish that revealed that 27% of the recruitment ads in a national Sunday newspaper contained language that might put the listing companies afoul of future laws. The article suggests it may be challenging for companies to rethink their hiring practices. Elements like requiring a specific number of years experience, asking for information that would reveal the applicant’s age, and using language such as “young”, “mature”, “dynamic” or “new graduate” won’t make the cut in the future.

Survey exposes ageism in recruitment ads
PersonnelToday.com

Mike Berry
12 May 2006 09:32

Ageism laws set to transform job adverts
BBC News

By J…

Salary Searching

Indeed.com, one of the free agregator sites of online job postings, has just released a beta version of a salary search tool, available at http://www.indeed.com/salary

Type in the job title you are interested in and a location, and it will provide average salaries for that, and related, positions.

Or change it up and create a comparison of jobs or locations.

The Govt's Role in Aiding Small Biz Federal Subcontracting Programs in the US

From SBA:

Small businesses in the United States have received a share of federal procurement dollars not quite commensurate with their relative importance in the U.S. economy, according to a research study released by the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. The study states that while 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small, they receive about 23 percent of direct federal procurement dollars and almost 40 percent of subcontracting dollars.

The Government's Role in Aiding Small Business Federal Subcontracting Programs in the United States was authored by Major Clark III, Chad Moutray, and Radwan Saade from the Office of Advocacy.

The study discusses the importance of the small business sector to the overall economy and the policy framework for the federal government's involvement in requiring federal prime contractors to subcontract with small businesses. It examines the policy from 1958 to the present; and discusses steps needed to improve the Americ…

2006 Guide to Hispanic Marketing & Media

Each year, the magazine Advertising Age publishes a supplement called the "Hispanic Fact Pack". This year's version can be found here. The table of contents for this 27-page PDF file promises such things as:
Hispanic ad spending by media and categoryTop Hispanic DMAs by media spendingTop web sites by viewers & ad revenuesU.S. Hispanic population by race, origin, projected growthAnd other items, too. It's a macro view, to be sure, but the document provides a nice intro to this subject.

Encyclopaedia Britannica for all

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, www.britannica.com, would like you to know more about their online encyclopedia. Usually available only to subscribers, the renowned publication has just announced that they will make full-text, extended articles available to websites and blogs that wish to link to them.
Users can then see the full entry, rather than the usual stub that appears for non-subscribers.
They even give webmasters the code to add the link.

Here's an example.
Information from Encyclopædia Britannica about business organization
* Don't be put off by the flags promoting full access through a free trial- there are 25 pages of information here. But only for this topic.

Read more in their press release: http://corporate.britannica.com/press/releases/faf.html

ADA

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One recent reference question was about enforcement of the Americans with Disablilities Act. I scowled a bit. Even before I attended a workshop on the ADA at an ASBDC conference a few years back, I knew that the focus of the law was not so much on enforcement, but on creating accessibility. I remember one example from the workshop: a store trying to be more accessible might create a ramp, but that might not be practical; so one dry cleaner installed a bell at the bottom of the steps, so that the clerk would come out to the client. Accessibility achieved.

This is not to say that there isn't any enforcement, and even fines imposed by the US Department of Justice. It's just not the route of first resort. Read more about the ADA here.

The Digital Life

Way back in May at staff training, we talked about your responses to a survey the Research Network had created one month earlier. Among the results to the survey was the majority's wish to have more information transmitted electronically. It's something we were interested in doing, so it's a good fit.

Tomorrow, Amelia & I will be attending a day-long seminar titled "Developing Digital Collections". It's the first of a four-part series, spread out over the next four months, on the subject of employing digitization in a library setting. We're very curious to hear from other librarians who've adapted this to their collection.

On another note, we're also close to upgrading our ancient copier. We'll be switching to one that will allow for scanning documents (for instance, our collection of 80+ start-up information packets), which can then be stored into specific files on our network. Scanning these will take some time, so it isn't like…

En español, por favor

Many of our favorite information sources for general business advice are in Spanish as well as English. The following links provide access to some articles and documents that might be helpful to your Spanish-speaking clients.

Do you have other non-English resources? Things you’ve prepared? We’d love to be more multilingual on our website, so please think about what you might be able to share.

SBA en español: Online Library
http://www.sba.gov/espanol/Biblioteca_en_Linea/

SBDCNet Document exchange en español
http://sbdcnet.utsa.edu/docx/espanol.htm

SoyEntrepreneur.com
http://www.soyentrepreneur.com/

Mi Propia Negocio
http://www.myownbusiness.org/espanol/index.html

International Students

When I get a question about the number of international students in the United States, or U.S. students studying abroad, the source I check first is the Open Doors Report on International Exchange. There is a great deal of free information, such as:
Total Enrollment
Source of Funds
Source of Funds by Academic Level
Fields of Study
Leading Countries of Origin
Institutions with 1,000 or More International Students

while other data, such as
All Countries of Origin
All Institutions Enrolling International Students
Countries by US State
Fields of Study by State
are available in publications to members. A Research Membership is available for $50 for a month's access to all member data.

Here's some more examples of the great free data:

STATISTICS ON INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE IN NEW YORK

From the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report 2005, statistics particular to the state of New York are listed below. Additional statistics are available at IIE’s Web site.

FOREIGN STUDENT…

Remembrance

Being a Monday, it's my day to post to this blog. However, it's a different kind of Monday - a day of reflection for many people in our country. Instead of small business, I had a poem that I read in the aftermath of those sad, chaotic days from five years ago. It speaks of hope, and it reassures me.

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scar…

The Shy Networker

It may be one thing to find opportunities to network, but it is quite another to succeed at it. For many people, the mere idea of networking is frightening, let alone entering a room full of strangers and striking up a conversation. I’ve come across a few articles that have some advice on how to network if you are not a natural.

Learning to Love Networking: How a Shy Guy Became a Master Glad-Hander
Inc. Magazine
August 2006 by Mike Spinney
Describes techniques to overcome anxiety including acknowledging the fear, and then having a plan of attack. First, avoid the boring intro, keep the listener engaged. As an example, the author explains how Reed Thompson, the focus of the story, improved his delivery:
You also have to keep them interested. To that end, he stopped telling people he was a personal financial adviser, which usually prompted glazed-over expressions and a change of subject. Instead, he began describing himself as the founder and president of a company that helps people take con…

Market 2.0

Web 2.0: The power of 2This article gives a very perceptive and thoughtful overview of howWeb 2.0 applications can change the nature of marketing. Some Excerpts:
"Social networks, blogs, user-generated content, tagging, wikis, P2P - all those are about conversation and fall neatly under 'reputation management', which is, essentially, PR," says Howell. Companies need to be out there, looking at what people say about them online, and respond in an open and appropriate way. Ignoring even one customer's negative comments on a blog could do serious damage to a brand's reputation.



Brands can learn an awful lot from blogs and social networks, which they can use to their advantage; not just to get their marketing messages right but also on a deeper business level, by involving consumers in product development.

An interesting example of this approach backfiring:
...car brand Chevrolet placed tools on its site that allowed users to remix and 'mash-up' its latest Ch…

Analysis of 2003 Personal Income Tax Returns

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"This report describes the prominent features of New York’s personal income tax, with particular emphasis on the 2003 tax year. It also includes taxpayer profiles consisting of number of taxable returns, sources of income, federal adjustments, New York modifications, deductions, dependent exemptions, tax liability and credits by NYAGI class, filing status and return type. In addition, it includes separate sections on income, itemized deduction amounts, exemptions, available credits and information on refundable credits. Finally, it compares statistics for 2003 with those from the prior year for most of these items."
The PDF of this report is 125 pages long, but if you feel so compelled to print it out, please note that a number of even-numbered pages are actually blank.

On a related topic, "The Rockefeller Institute of Government has released State Revenue Preview # 65P, the first in a new series of releases covering state tax collections. The Preview provides an early sn…