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Showing posts from March, 2006

Untitled

One of the things I love about the World Wide Web is the ability to track down your favorite poem, book, or movie simply by entering keywords into a search engine. Here's a poem that I have posted next to my desk:

Sometimes, oh, often, indeed, in the midst of ugly adversity, beautiful
Memories return.
You awake in wonder, you awake at half-past four,
Wondering what wonder is in store.
You reach for your clothes in the dark and pull them on, you
have no time
Even to wash your face, you have to climb Megunticook.

You run through the sleeping town; you do not arouse
Even a dog, you are so young and so light on your feet.
What a way to live, what a way...
No breakfast, not even hungry. An apple, though,
In the pocket.
And the only people you meet are store-windows.

The path up the mountain is stony and in places steep,
And here it is really dark -- wonderful, wonderful,
Wonderful -- the smell of bark
And rotten leaves and dew! And nobody awake
In all the world but you! --
Who lie on a high …

Managing Change

I started work on a request today on change management, an area I’ve looked at often in previous incarnations as a librarian for an HR consultancy and as it is something we all have to face, it might be interesting to see how the “experts” think it should be done. Many of our established clients are faced with the reality of shifting gears after years in the business, perhaps they can put some of these ideas to use. Here are a few direct lifts from sites explaining change theory.

Change Management 101: A Primer
Fred Nickols 2004

Fred Nickols of Distance Consulting provides an overview but succinctly boils down some basic strategies:

Four Basic Change Management Strategies

Strategy Description
Four Basic Change Management Strategies


Empirical-Rational
People are rational and will follow their self-interest — once it is revealed to them. Change is based on the communication of information and the proffering of incentives.
Normative-Reeducative
People are social beings and will adhere to cultural …

Hispanic business

Every once in a while, one of our centers gets a call from a reporter. That was the case last Tuesday, when the 2002 SURVEY OF BUSINESS OWNERS (SBO) came out with the release of the Final Estimates of Business Ownership by Hispanic or Latino Origin. It showed that the Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002 in the Albany area actually dropped in relation to 1997, though the population had increased.

Complicating the story further was the fact that the the 1997 data were in SIC, while the 2002 data were NAICS-based. Also, the definition of the Albany metro area changed. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA used to include Albany County, Montgomery County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, and Schoharie County. The current definition, however, excludes Montgomery County.

There's a new beast in the Census terminology, though, the Combined Statistical Area. The Albany-Schenectady-Amsterdam, NY CSA includes the newly configured Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Are…

Demographics - An Interesting Blog

Demographics is at the heart of nearly every question we answer at the RN. To do so, we have several tools at our disposal, including several from New Stragetist Publications.

I recently learned of a blog now being published by this publisher on the subject of demographics. It's called DemoMemo, and can be found here. Its primary author is a woman named Cheryl Russell, who also once worked with the late, lamented magazine American Demographics. It's updated nearly every day, and is filled with references to demographics - sources, data, interpretations, etc. - that are quite interesting and bound to be useful not only to librarians, but to your clients as well.

NYS Small Business Awards

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The New York State Small Business Awards are presented annually to honor outstanding small businesses.
Awards are presented to the Small Business Person of the Year (last year's winner-Frank S. Falatyn, President and CEO of FALA Technologies, Inc.); Small Business Advocate of the Year (last year- Raymond M. Nowicki, managing partner of Nowicki & Co.) ; and Small Business Not-for-Profit Organization of the Year (last year- Staten Island Economic Development Group)during a ceremony which recognizes the exceptional achievements of the award winner.

All completed applications are considered. The governor may also designate candidates for honorable mention. Any small business is eligible for nomination.

Applications for the New York State 2006 Small Business Awards are available here. The deadline is April 30, 2006. For more information, please contact the Small Business Division of Empire State Development at 518 292-5220.

China on my mind

Besides doing reference, each librarian is responsible for various other duties. I update the web site and this week that has focused on the upcoming U.S. - China Trade & Business Development Conference in Albany. Logos have been added for various organizers and sponsors, the agenda has been tweaked, and a PDF questionnaire was posted this morning. I added a Times Union article that highlights the conference in the news section. And you'll notice a direct link to the conference details on the homepage. If you haven't already registered or passed on the details to some of your clients, please visit the conference web site.

Starting Startups - Finding Investors

So, I started with the idea that I would highlight the issue of finding venture capital for start-ups after reading a brief article in the April issue Entrepreneur Magazine entitled All Aboard? By C.J. Prince “Is your company’s concept so cutting edge that investors won’t touch it? Here’s
how to get their attention- and their money.” The article suggests taking proactive steps while waiting to hear from VCs and sweetening the deal. The Entrepreneur site also has many other articles on their site relating to raising venture capital,

But, while looking for tidbits on brand new ventures finding investors I happily ended up on Paul Graham’s website who wrote Hackers & Painters among other titles. I got caught up reading How to Fund a Startup, Nov 2005 and got sucked in. Mr. Graham is also a partner in Y Combinator, which is described as a venture firm focusing on software and web start-ups. Paul Graham, an essayist, and program designer and it seems, all-round big-head. Besides an impre…

Census Ranking Tables

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Ranking tables are charts that rank states, counties and places by a variety of criteria. Some examples are the percent of:
People 65 Years and Over With a Disability
Households That are Married-Couple Families With Own Children
People Who Have Completed a Bachelor's Degree
Civilian Employed People in the Manufacturing Industry
Occupied Housing Units That are Owner-occupied
Occupied Housing Units That Were Moved into in 2000 or Later
Households With Retirement Income
People Who Lived in a Different House 1 Year Ago
People Born in Asia
Children Below Poverty Level
People Who are White Alone, Not Hispanic or Latino
Married-Couple Families With Both Husband and Wife in the Labor Force
Workers Who Traveled to Work by Public Transportation
Civilian Population Who are Veterans

You can find this information on the Census page.
Go to American FactFinder
Click on Data Sets
Select 2004 American Communities Survey
This will generate a pulldown menu, from which you should pick Ranking Tables

A couple notes: the …

Cyberthieves

Back on January 30th, I posted a bit about a dubious company calling itself "SBA Express". Among other things, the post warned against "phishing," a common method of conducting fraud by e-mail scammers.

However, a recent article in the New York Times talks about a new form of cybertheft. Here's an excerpt:

"In some countries, like Brazil, [phishing] has been eclipsed by an even more virulent form of electronic con - the use of keylogging programs that silently copy the keystrokes of computer users and send that information to the crooks. These programs are often hidden inside other software and then infect the machine, putting them in the category of malicious programs known as Trojan horses . . .

These criminals aim to infect the inner workings of computers in much the same way that mischief-making virus writers do. The twist here is that the keylogging programs exploit security flaws and monitor the path that carries data from the keyboard to other parts of…

Franchise Offering Circulars

We are often asked to do research on a particular franchise. Recently, I learned of a resource for franchise offering circulars (UFOC). In NYS, the client may call the Office of the Attorney General to find out if a certain franchise is registered with the state. If so, the client can obtain a copy of the franchise offering circular on file, but must pay for the photocopying costs. Now, the State of California has scanned the franchise offering circulars and makes them freely available through the Web via the Cal-EASI Database: http://www.corp.ca.gov/caleasi/caleasi.htm or http://134.186.208.228/caleasi/pub/exsearch.htm.

This morning, I typed 'Juice Zone' into the company name field of the Cal-EASI Database. The results showed a Franchise Registration on file. By clicking on that 'Franchise Registration' link, I could then view a list of available documents - including the Offering Circular. Most (or all) of the documents are in PDF format which requires Adobe Acrobat R…

Wal-Mart: Sleeping Giant?

The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart
Fast Company
Issue 102 January 2006 by Charles Fishman “Every year, thousands of executives venture to Bentonville, Arkansas, hoping to get their products onto the shelves of the world's biggest retailer. But Jim Wier wanted Wal-Mart to stop selling his Snapper mowers.”A good article about how one guy took the long view, understood his company’s own mission and stayed true.

Charles Fishman also writes the Wal-Mart Blog, on the Fast Company website.

This entry I found interesting. I have wondered with the huge backlash against Wal-Mart and (at least in my part of the world) the desire to support local business instead of national monoliths, how Wal-Mart would respond, if at all. In this blog Charles Fishman tells how Wal-Mart does seem to be responding to the market and how no-one is picking up the story. I imagine people feel it may be too soon to congratulate them when there is so much else wrong with how they do business. But it does seem that Wal-Mar…

Branding

I got an e-mail from a business, Brand Identity Guru a leading Corporate Branding and Branding Research firm, located in Boston, Massachusetts, which is trying to sell its services. Can't speak to that, but there is some common sense in the introduction:

What Is Corporate Identity, Brand Identity & Brand Image?

1. Corporate identity:

Corporate identity is a company's visual presence, which involves the corporate logo and design strategy for corporate marketing collateral. Corporate identity does not encapsulate brand identity, which is best defined as the soul of your company. However, a corporate identity may, and often does, reflect a brand identity. But some ad agencies, marketing companies and graphic design agencies would have you believe that brand identity is the same thing as corporate identity and that changing a logo or design strategy will change the brand identity. However, this is not the case. There are many intangible factors that weigh in on a brand identity. …

Phone problems

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We have discovered that when you call the SBDC offices and you use some of the menu items, they may not work the first time. For instance, when you dial my extension, or the Research Network's, you may get a message suggesting that it is an invalid extension; it is not. You may experience a similar problem when using the name menu.
I recommend dialing the same extension number again, or try the name menu again.
Our technical support people are aware of the problem and are trying to identify the cause.

Tech-Based Economic Development Resource Center

Mary Hoffman pointed out to me recently the Tech-Based Economic Development Resource Center. This Web site features a searchable database collection of 3,700 reports, written by government, industry, foundation and private sources on a wide variety of subjects.

These subjects include entrepreneurship, small business, manufacturing, information technology, and several others. You can search by topic, geography of origin, date of publication, author, and/or keyword. You can combine these fields in a search to find more precise content (for instance, a search combining "New York" and "small business" yields a 2002 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York called "Small Business: Big Challenge - A Survey of Small Firms in Upstate New York"). Links to the Web site of the original report are provided.

This is a handy tool when doing prep work for legislative visiting/testifying, or preparing responses to RFPs, or the many other policy-driven aspects o…

Zillow and Real Estate

Several new real estate web sites have emerged. I found Zillow particularly of interest. In a Newsday article, columnist Meghan Daum succinctly describes what the site will do for you: "When the address of almost any home in the United States is typed into the system, Zillow provides an estimate of the market value of the property, the most recent sale price of that property, the approximate square footage, the values of the neighboring homes and a satellite photo of the whole street. " Zillow isn't quite perfect yet as it is still technically in the beta phase. My own testing showed that my parents' house was estimated at $100,000 more than recent sale prices of other homes in the neighborhood, but the site is adding more data every day.

Sites like Zillow and others could affect the real estate agent profession. In New Scotland, New York, the assessor's office has recently reassessed every home in the town. That data - including a photo of the home, square…

Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship

Every once in awhile I come across a site that is so helpful I don't even want to pull anything down for a request, I just want the business owner to go there directly. This is one of them. While I have used it to pull off a piece of information, I think it is a resource food entrepreneurs should be familiar with. The Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship at the New York State Food Venture Center is a wonderful resource for food product manufacturers. It is a concise site but with very practical information.

For instance, the listing of Small Co-packers and Commercial Kitchens is a good place to start for those looking to get started and includes packers of Kosher and gluten-free products.

They offer a page on developing a business plan for the specialty food marketer as well as a brief guide to getting a product to market; a list of trade group links and agencies; a flowchart of sorts describing the process of product development and information on required product analyses fo…

11 Top Questions to Ask Before Renting a B2B Mailing List

By Alan Sharpe

If the most important part of any business-to-business direct mail package is the list, how can you be sure that you have a good list before you drop your money (and your reputation) in the mailbox? Answer: Ask the right questions before you rent that list.

1. Who is on the list, exactly? Knowing makes all the difference. So make sure you can select names by job title or function.
2. What is the source of the list? Is the list a compiled list, where names and addresses are compiled into a list from directories, newspapers, trade show registrations and other public sources? Or is the list an opt-in list (such as subscribers to a particular trade publication, or buyers from an online store)? Lists of names that are compiled from phone books and directories usually age more quickly than names from opt-in lists and usually produce more undeliverable mail.
3. Are the names on the list known buyers? The best B2B lists contain names of business people who have bought your product …

Best Performing Cities 2005

Last week, I did research for a client who was interested in demographic & economic performance for a city outside of New York. I used some traditional in-house & Web-based resources to generate a response. However, in my e-mail this morning, I was reminded of another source.

The Milken Institute releases its Best Performing Cities report every year, and the 2005 version has just been released. The report ranks the 200 top-performing large cities, as well as the top 179 small cities, based on an index of its own creation. The index is heavily influenced by such factors as job growth, wage growth, and what it calls "high-tech GDP growth".

The highest ranking NYS large city on the list is Poughkeepsie (my hometown), with Albany-Schenectady-Troy ranking second (where I currently live). Just a coincidence.

To read the whole report, go here.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes aren't simply a west coast phenomenon. Apparently, since 1737 New York State has experienced 6 earthquakes over 5.0 on the Richter scale plus 4 others ranging V to VII on the Modified Mercalli (MM) Intensity Scale (see the list on pages 27-28 at http://www.nysstatistics.org/yearbook/04/data/O_1.pdf). The North Country has experienced the majority of the significant earthquakes - most recently on April 20 and May 24, 2002. Alaska and California, however, have experienced the largest earthquakes on record for the U.S. And worldwide, the deadliest earthquake on record took place January 23, 1556 in Shansi, China with a death toll of 830,000.

Global Online Freedom Act of 2006

A brief article on CNET News.com explains the difficulties of a truly global economy. US companies are facing restrictions as to what the content of their websites can contain…and feeling the strong reaction to their complicity at home. Here are a few views of the issues:

February 17, 2006
Time to Export Your China-Based Website
Entrepreneur.com
Posted by Teresa Ciulla @ 02:54 PM
“According to proposed legislation that's scheduled to be introduced shortly in Congress, nearly every U.S. company with a website located in China will have to move it elsewhere or its executives could face prison terms of up to a year… The bill, currently titled the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006, was drafted by Rep. Christopher Smith (NJ-R) in response to recent
reports of censorship in China by some of the major internet players, including Yahoo!, Google, Cisco and Microsoft. If passed by Congress, the CNET article says the bill "would dramatically change the business practices of corporations with…