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Showing posts from January, 2006

Transportation Statistics

http://www.trbcensus.com/ Census Data for Transportation Planning

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ctpp/ Census Transportation Planning Package (CTPP) is a set of special tabulations from the decennial census designed for transportation planners. CTPP contains tabulations by place of residence, place of work, and for flows between home and work.

http://www.transtats.bts.gov/Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Intermodal Transportation Database

http://www.bts.gov/pdc/ BTS books for sale

"SBA Express" - A Case of (Almost) Identity Theft

Not long ago, I heard about a client of Bernie Ryba (from the outreach office of the Stony Brook SBDC in Great River) who had an experience worth sharing with all of you.

Bernie's client - a well-educated man - received a phone call from someone saying they were from SBA Express, and that his loan application had been approved, and that they needed his Social Security Number to finish processing. The client was somewhat confused, as he hadn't applied for any funding. However, he assumed that his advisor spoke with SBA, who in turn spoke with SBA Express. "They have 'SBA' in their name," he reasoned. "Why wouldn't they be legitimate?"

With this in mind, he gave the rep his Social Security Number. It didn't take long for him to regret it.

He called Bernie, and asked if he'd heard of the company. Bernie had not, and asked for the toll-free number they provided (1-877-545-2174). He called, and pretended to be someone looking for financing. He a…

Seven Deadly Sins for Managers

I came across an article on FreePint intended for library managers but the advice may be applicable to anyone in an office environment. Maybe you (or someone you know) has these qualities that often aren't effective in managing staff or interacting with others:
MicromanagementLack of communicationFostering divisivenessAbusivenessFailure to listenAvoiding conflictTaking credit for others' workRead the complete article at http://www.freepint.com/issues/050106.htm#tips for more discussion on the seven deadly sins as well as a list of Seven Desirable Strategies.

Entrepreneur Start Up Guides - Update

We’re keeping 10 years worth of the Entrepreneur Start-Up Guides. With the New Year comes de-accessioning the oldest of the bunch which in this case are:

1221 Computer Consulting ©1995
1321 Credit Consulting Service ©1995
1034 Janitorial Service #1 ©1995
1034 Janitorial Service #2 ©1995
1265 Making Money With A PC ©1995
1359 Operating a 900 Number For Profit ©1995
1154 Travel Agency ©1995
1296 Vitamin & Health Food Store ©1995

The revised list of available guides is:



NO. TITLE
1817 Apparel Business ©2000
AUCTION – see EBAY BUSINESS
BAKERY – see RESTAURANT
BARBER SHOP – see HAIR SALON…
1186 Bar/Tavern ©2001
1278 Bed and Breakfast #1 ©2003
1278 Bed and Breakfast #2 ©2003
BRIDAL CONSULTANT – see WEDDING…
1136 Business Support Services ©2000
1076 Car Wash ©2002
CATERING – see RESTAURANT
1058 Child Care Service ©2001
CHILDREN'S APPAREL – see CLOTHING…
1816 …

Help Me, Rhonda

Rhonda Abrams is a businesswoman who writes a syndicated weekly column about entrepreneurship, printed in several newspapers across the country as well as appearing online. She's a big fan of the SBDCs, as this column will attest.

Her December 30, 2005 column is entitled Websites for Entrepreneurs, and I recommend it. It includes:

Synergos Technologies "If you’re thinking of doing business in a location, or just going on a business trip, you’ll find this website a quick and easy way to find information about that city." Some of it is Census data, but other data includes weather, school districts, and travel distances to other cities.

Library of Congress State Govt. Page
State and Local Government on the Net
"Need to know what state laws apply to your business? Find a link to your state and local governments at these websites."

Industry association links: "I think trade associations are an amazing source of information, data, and advice for entrepreneurs; sin…

Developments in the Patent Process

I've recently come across two interesting documents regarding the current state of the U.S. patent system:

1) "Blackberry Picking," by James Surowiecki, from the 12/26/05 - 1/2/06 issue of The New Yorker. Surowiecki examines the recent case involving Research in Motion (or RIM), the Toronto-based company that brought the BlackBerry technology to widespread use. In this piece, he discusses the phenomenon known as "patent trolling," whereby small companies with patents find their fortunes not by bringing their creations to market, but rather by suing for infringement those companies that expend the effort. In addition, the author cites data showing that understaffing at the USPTO enables patent trollers to thrive.

2) "Competition, Innovation, and Racing for Priority at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office," by Linda Cohen and Jun Ishii, from the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. This 45-page study challenges the long-standing Americ…

The Value of Networking

Most of the articles I come across on networking have to do with job seeking, but it seems (from what I hear from advisors), that our clients can often benefit from these skills as well.

Many entrepreneurs need to get the word out and possibly exchange services with other start-ups. Networking offers a great deal to the new business owner:

They can meet a variety of people, often building knowledge of their industry. It is a method of low cost advertising and a way to find bartering opportunities, maintain relationships with other professionals, potential clients and gain referrals.

Some articles:

10 Tips for Successful Business Networking
by Stephanie Speisman

Offers tips like:
…Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow…
…Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you cou…

Shopping the Seasonal Sales

Your clients, both as retailers and customers, may appreciate this article from All Things Frugal- Home of The Pennypincher E-zine Tightwad Tidbits Daily & The General Store

Maximize your Money by Seasonal Shopping

We all know that certain items go on sale at different times of the year.

Here is a list of items that regularly go on sale- when and why. Most of these are common sense. Most items go on sale at the beginning of the season they are used in, due to competition. They also go on sale at the end of the season during clearance sales. There are also traditional sales, probably started to fill in the gaps, and inventory clearance sales at the end of the year on almost everything.

January

*Winter clothes- inventory clearance of clothes, shoes, boots, purses and other seasonal items.
*Holiday Clearance- the festivities are over for while. Look for sales on all holiday or festive items.
*This is a great time to buy wedding gifts or gifts for children.
*January White Sale- The traditi…

Follow-up on NYSL/NYPL and Novel Databases

Back on 6/2/05, I blogged that the New York State Library and New York Public Library's databases are accessible to all New Yorkers with a library card. Well, things just got easier. Now you can skip the library card application and log into http://novelnewyork.org/ with a valid New York State driver's license (or DMV photo ID). You and your clients would probably find these databases of interest:
Business & Company Resource Center-includes company profiles, brand information, company histories, SEC reports, periodical articles, and links to relevant Web sites.New York State Newspapers-includes the following seven full-text newspapers from around New York State: Buffalo News, New York Times (from 2000 on), New York Post, New York Observer, Syracuse Herald American, Syracuse Herald-Journal, and Post-Standard (Syracuse).

The International Telecommunications Union

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), whose mandate is “to maintain and extend international cooperation between all its Member States for the improvement and rational use of telecommunications of all kinds” and with members across the globe, they are well placed to offer reliable information relating to the telecommunications industry.
You can find maps and graphs, statistics on the number of telephone lines, broadband penetration, and mobile cellular subscribers among other ICT indicators for most countries you can think of. They also have a who’s who directory, and a section on industry regulations in this densely packed site dedicated to telecoms issues and developments.

Publications include the World Telecoms Indicators 2004; and the ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things as well the practical guideline handbooks dealing with security issues or regulations and standards.
Based in Switzerland, the reports available for purchase or download are in Swiss francs.

Independent contractor or employee?

Some employers have made the fateful decision to furlough their employees, only to hire them back as "independent contractors" to avoid governmental obligations that an employee requires, such as matching Social Security payments. Can they do that? Well, "it depends."

The IRS has a PDF document here that describes the definitions of an employee and an independent contractor. (Saying they are independent contractors does not necessarily make them so.)

"What's Your Signage?" Wins State Award

In late December, I heard from a woman named Mary Redmond. At the time, Ms. Redmond was the Acting Director of the New York State Library. In addition, she serves on a committee called the Government Information Roundtable for the New York Library Association, or NYLA/GIRT.

The purpose of her call was to inform us that What's Your Signage? was named one of two winners of NYLA/GIRT's 2004 New York State Notable Documents Award. More on that story can be found here:
http://www.nyssbdc.org/News/FullArticle.cfm?id=134

If you recall, the book serves as an introduction to the value that an effective sign can provide a small business. It took the better part of eight months to create. It is the result of work done by myself, Mary Beth Bobish, and Josee Fonseca, with invaluable design work done by SUNY Central Administration's David Schillinger.

If you were with the SBDC in April 2004, then you should have received a copy of this book. If, for whatever reason, you don't have…

SBA Newsletters for You

SBA offers several free e-newsletters to keep you up-to-date on a wide variety of information and business opportunities for small businesses. Subscribe to one or many and receive e-mail notification as soon as items are published. Here's a sampling of the available newsletters:BUFFALO, NY NEWSLETTER
This monthly newsletter provides current events, lender reports, and up-to-date information on SBA programs and small business issues.
REGION 2 NEWSLETTER
Inside Region 2 is a quarterly newsletter focusing on SBA news in New York State, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as program and policy updates from SBA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
SBA BUSINESS LOAN GUARANTY
Be among the first to receive emails with Agency approved, time-sensitive information regarding SBA's business loan guaranty programs.
SMALLBIZOPPS
SBA's Office of Government Contracting offers this newsletter to help small business owners understand how to market to federal agencies and private in…

Minority Business Directories

There are several sources useful when searching for minority or women owned businesses in an area of sector. Here are a few I have used:

Empire State DevelopmentMinority & Women Owned Businesses Searchable Database
This database can searched by:Economic Development Regions Business Market Areas Certification Types Gross Sales Product/Services TypeFederal ID number
8(a) Sources"The comprehensive source for current information on federally-certified minority and woman-owned businesses."Business Research Services, publishers of business directories and electronic directory products, offer this online service, searchable by company name, industry and location.They also publish the Set-Aside Alert, a newsletter for small, minority, and woman-owned business issues and contracting news. BRS also create custom-generated electronic directories for a fee.


The MWBE Directory: The Source for locating minority and women owned businesses.
This is their own description o…

Help us to help you

Happy 2006!

Here are some ways we can better serve you in the new year:

When you have a reference question, please call the Research Network at extension 149 or e-mail the Research Network .

Each of us have days that we do telephone coverage. We really prefer that, in most cases, that you call us with your reference query. It may be a bit of an interrupter in terms of working on questions, but the tradeoff is that we believe that we get a better understanding of the query.

However, when you call an individual librarian who may be out, or may be trying to work on getting the reference out, it slows up the process, for the librarian, and ultimately, for you.

If you have a complex reference question and no one is available, please leave a number so we may call back.

It is a rare occurrence that none of the librarians are available, but it does happen: staff meetings, building fire drills, or occasionally, when we're all already on the phone. Leave us a message; we will call you back.

Please…

Resolutions

I'm not a strong believer in waiting until January 1st to create a list of tasks whose completion is to be a test of my resolve. Challenge and self-improvement are year-round endeavors.

However, sitting here in an empty office on January 2nd, with nothing but an iPod to keep me company (an old Jackson Browne song is playing, for those keeping score), I can't help but feel reflective. Starting tomorrow, the whirlwind begins again in earnest, and workday reflection won't be available for a long, long time. With that, here are some long-term items that the Research Network strives to accomplish in 2006:

1. Reduce the turnaround time. For a variety of reasons, it's hovering around three weeks right now, which is unacceptable to all of us. Talk about a year-round endeavor - this has been at the top of our list for several years running.

2. Finish the signage Web site that preoccupied all of 2005 (this is near & dear to me especially).

3. Explore what it takes to get…