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Showing posts from October, 2006

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, …