Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Agriculture Economic Workshops Press Release

March Road Tour: 4 Cities. 6 Workshops. 24 Opportunities to Grow NY Agriculture.

State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan announced "March Road Tour," a series of workshops that will enhance the awareness and understanding of economic resources available for the agricultural industry.

"Over the past eleven years, Governor Pataki has established numerous programs and incentives to assist farmers and agri-businesses in New York State," Commissioner Brennan said. "We want to make sure these resources are known and thoroughly understood, so they can be utilized effectively on the local level. I encourage anyone interested in agriculture, from farmers to local elected officials, to take the time to attend one of these sessions and learn what the Department of Agriculture and Markets has to offer you and your business."

The free sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following dates and locations.
• Tuesday, March 14 Canton Best Western, Canton
• Wednesday, March 22 New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse
• Thursday, March 23 Batavia Days Inn, Batavia
• Wednesday, March 29 Suffolk Co. Cooperative Extension, Riverhead

The focus of the forum will be to provide first-hand knowledge about agricultural economic development resources that can help maintain and grow agriculture in New York State. The Commissioner will speak at the general session, followed by two breakout sessions where participants will have the option to pick one workshop for each session. Following are workshop titles and descriptions:

MORNING SESSIONS

• Local Farmland Protection: Get pointers from the pros about the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program that helps municipalities implement farmland protection and agricultural viability activities.

• Agricultural Economic Development Programs: Local agricultural processors, manufacturers and producers will get the inside scoop on assistance available for financing their business plans and projects through the Empire Zone program; Beginning Farmer Loan Program; and Grow NY Enterprise loans and grants.

• Programs in Marketing and Promotion: Whether your target is a local farmers’ market or the international marketplace, technical assistance and funding are available to you at no or low cost. Learn more about Pride of New York; direct marketing; Food Export USA; and New York pavilions at national shows.

AFTERNOON SESSIONS

• Planning for Agriculture: Learn how to proactively assure the future of farmland and participate in a question and answer session on municipal compliance with the Agricultural Districts Law and the Law’s effect on comprehensive plans and land use laws and ordinances.

• Successful Grantsmanship: Agricultural producers, processors and professionals interested in applying for grant programs will learn the do’s and don’ts of grant writing as well as the Department’s specific scoring criteria.

• Bootstrap Marketing: Get an introduction to marketing on a budget including branding, public relations, electronic marketing, and customer retention. Learn how the customer sees your products, what you can do to improve your brand, how you can find free marketing tools and do market research.

Anyone interested in agriculture, including farmers, planners, economic developers, government leaders and financial institutions, is encouraged to attend these sessions. Please register no later than March 3, 2006. Registration forms are available on the Department’s website or by calling 518-457-0752. Lunch will be offered to all participants for $10.

The March Road Tour is sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in association with Food Export USA; American Farmland Trust; Governor’s Office of Small Cities; New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation; Cornell Cooperative Extension; New York Farm Bureau; and New York State Association of Towns.

New York agriculture encompasses 25 percent of the State’s landscape and generates more than $3 billion for our economy each year. Currently, New York State has 7.6 million acres of farmland with 36,000 farms.

For more information , contact Jessica Chittenden, 518-457-3136

Monday, February 27, 2006

Wedding Industry Data

As my own wedding day approaches, people around Central know that wedding planning details are never far from my mind. Last week, though, it was sheer serendipity to find a site called The Wedding Report. Clients involved in any of the numerous industries related to weddings would find this site interesting. While the site is primarily interested in selling market research reports, it does provide enough free snapshot data to be of immediate use. The site shows the average amount spent by couples on receptions, invitations, apparel, hair, etc. You can see data on a state-by-state basis (go here for New York State), or enter a ZIP code and get more precise county-level data.

$26,800 for a wedding in Albany County! Good thing I work for the SBDC . . .

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do you and your clients understand e-mail?

Have you ever sent an e-mail that was misinterpreted? The recipient's response showed that your message was completely misunderstood? Apparently, this happens a lot. An article from Wired.com states that recent research shows that people have "only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message" yet "people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time."

This might not be too much of a problem at home but be careful - "many companies battle workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail." See Wired.com for the complete article.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Social Networks

Today I was asked if I knew of any networking Internet sites for small business. I tend to see those geared specifically to a particular industry but I thought, there must be some tools for this sort of thing, after all, people love to get connected. So, I came up with a list of tools, while not specifically geared to business applications, certainly could be. It’s kind of sideways from what I started out looking for, established sites with a ready made group of contributors gathered to broadly discuss issues facing small business owners, but, if you can get a group of people on board, potentially very useful. Of course, they are all only as good/active as their members so I suppose, they are what you make them. Some of these do smack of elitism which is annoying at best. I have no personal experience on any of these sites so if anyone else can vouch for any of these or other sites, feel free. Keep in mind that the oldest and probably best networking opportunities come through professional associations.

Entrepreneur's Organization- New York City Chapter
"Network with the brightest new business minds in New York City"
EO is an entrepreneur network, with over 5,000 members. They have a short registration/application and then will decide whether you "share our membership criteria". Seems small and the goal seems to be to meet in person.

MySpace which has been written about a lot lately, has a group for Business & Entrepreneurs with groups on topics like Small Business Entrepreneurs, Black Business Owners, and Real Estate Networking.

Linkedin
Reconnect with long-lost co-workers
Stay connected to colleagues and clients
List job openings and find high-quality candidates
Get the inside track to the job you want
Open doors and reach millions of professionals
This service offers a way to hook up with like minded business people. It seems to be popular for job search purposes but generally a way to stay connected with people you know as well as their people. Like all of these tools they are only as useful as the people who sign up. A matchmaking service for professionals.

Ryze
A free service that allows members to join networks and build personal profiles. They have advanced search features for a fee and with more than 250,000 members, you are likely to find someone in your city or industry. I found WAHM or Work-at-Home-Moms_Network, and Indian Professionals Network, just poking around.
“Members get a free networking-oriented home page and can send messages to other members. They can also join special
Networks related to their industry, interests or location. More than 1,000 organizations host Networks on Ryze to help their members interact with each other and grow their organizations.”

Zero Degrees
“Success Through People.
Finally, a networking service that connects you with influential people who can help
your career, business, and personal life.”
“…imagine being able to instantly store your connections in a secure, private
Internet space. Imagine inviting your most trusted friends and colleagues
to join this space, add their own contacts, and connect with you. Then, picture
searching across this extended network for individuals and organizations that
can help you achieve your business, career and personal goals. And,
finally, getting credible introductions to the people you want to meet through
mutual contacts.”

TRIBE
A free community groups based on profession, city, or interest. I noticed there was a group for disgruntled restaurant workers and a pissed off waiters society. Companies adopt a spot here the same way we use an online service for blogging. In fact you can blog from this site, make recommendations, sell stuff and connect.

Friendster
Friendster seems to be the oldest of the bunch, founded in 2002. It also has by far the greatest number of members, which is the measure of a social networking site.
With fewer features than some of the others, you can still stay in touch and post photos, start a blog, and list events.

“With more than 24 million members, Friendster is the best way to stay in touch
with your friends and it's the fastest way to discover the people and things
that matter to you most. Headquartered in the Bay Area, Friendster aims to
make the world a smaller place by bringing the power of social networking to
every aspect of life, one friend at a time. ”

Orkut
is one of a handful of sites offering to connect groups of friends. The thing about Orkut is that it is very exclusive in that you have to be invited by someone who is already a member. While not geared to business, it may be able to, as they say “expand the circumference of your social circle” through “communities”. So, potentially there could be a small business community.They say: “We are committed to providing an online meeting place where people can socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests.”


There's also eConozco, a Spanish language site offering similar features.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

e-Podunk

Podunk: a term for a quintessential "jerkwater town".

E-Podunk, though, is a great website when trying to find information about places all over the country, including, but hardly limited to, Podunk, NY. One can find a list of attractions, communities, media, cemeteries, and much more, within a certain radius of the town. It provides links to sources of businesses, Census data, weather and much more.

The community information is useful, especially gathered, as it is, in one place, though one could find the data in various locations. However, the religion by county data is not readily available in most sources.

They've provided studies of the most liberal place in each state (for NY, Ithaca), best home town (Batavia), highest coffee quotient (Westbury). Single women should move to Wyoming County, single men to the Bronx.

The item I'll likely use the most, however, is the ancestry section, which delineates the places with the greatest concentration of peoples of different ancestry. Haverstraw is 26.95% Dominican; the town of Kiantone is 21.8% Swedish; Montauk is 9.53% Columbian; Manhasset Hills, Herricks, Garden City Park and Searingtown are all over 12% Asian Indian.

A great source, and many thanks to Angel Roman, director of the Boricua SBDC in Brooklyn, for pointing it out.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bringing New Food Products to Market

We receive a lot of questions on behalf of clients who have new recipes and new food products, but aren't sure on how to bring them to market. For them, I'd recommend either (or both) of these:

1) Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship - This group is part of Cornell University's "NYS Agricultural Experiment Station". The mission of this Center is to "provide comprehensive assistance to beginning and established food entrepreneurs, thus promoting sustainable economic development of rural communities." While they are not a source of grants or loans, they are a source of answers on things such as labelling requirements, laboratory testing needs, packaging, and other issues critical to the start-up of a new food line.

2) From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty
by Stephen F. Hall. 4th edition, 2005-06

The Research Network has this book in its collection. According to its blurb, this book "will show you how to:

  • Identify a winning product and its most appropriate markets.
  • Get your product ready to market.
  • Advertise, promote, and sell your product.
  • Create your own success niche.
  • Professionalize your business.

Also included is updated information about the role of the Internet, health and organic food markets, the latest government regulations and technological advances, and contact information for dozens of valuable resources."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Online Training

There seems to be a trend lately in offerings of online training for small business. This morning I came across the small business how-to seminars from the New York Public Library's Small Business Resource Center. Topics include:
  • Pricing your product or service: Break Even Analysis Primer
  • Quick Guide to Building a Successful Export Business
  • Retail Essentials: How to Open and Run a Successful Retail Store

Each session can be viewed in parts - watch the video and text slides together, or download the audio only to an MP3 player.

You can also find links to other online training opportunities on the NYS SBDC web site.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Latest Additions to the RN Collection

In no particular order, here are the latest additions to the shelves.

Joe Rubino ed.
The Ultimate Guide to Network Marketing
37 Top network marketing income-earners share their most preciously guarded secrets to build extreme wealth.

Joe Rubino and John Terhune
15 Secrets Every Network Marketer Must Know
Essential elements and skills required to achieve 6 & 7 - figure success in network marketing.

Ukers’ International Tea & Coffee Directory & Buyers’ Guide 2006, 51st ed.
Published by Tea & Coffee Trade Journal

National Association of Convenience Stores
State of the Industry
Convenience Store Totals, Trends & Averages 2005


Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006
The National Data Book
US Census Bureau / US Department of Commerce

Progressive Grocer's
58th Annual Consumer Expenditures Study

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Environmental hazards

One source of data on environmental hazards is the US EPA. They have a web accessible database on "toxic release inventory" or TRI. They describe it as:"The TRI Explorer provides fast and easy access to the TRI data to help communities identify facilities and chemical releases that warrant further study and analysis." Find it here

Socioecomic Trends 2000 and and Well-Being Indicators 1950-2000, 408 pp., 8.53 MB, is put out by the state Office of Rural Health. It's a large PDF here.

The Pollution Locator focuses especially on Superfund sites and is located
here.

Lead Exposure Status Among New York Children by county and ZIP code comes from the state Department of Health. Get tables here.

Also from the state Department of Health, Cancer Data for New York State Counties
here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

What are you reading?

Every time I go to a conference, a speaker suggests a book to me that I wouldn't normally read. Cynthia Cheng-Correia of KnowledgeInform spoke to the Upstate New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. She mentioned being blown away by the conclusions drawn in Freakonomics. I got the book out of the library and was intrigued. For example, the authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, argue that the drop in violent crime rates can be traced to a drop in violent criminals. A drop in violent criminals can be traced to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion - thus, less unwanted children born into the world. From the author's web site: "Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime."

This may sound like crackpot economics. Before you jump to your own conclusions, read the book for the author's complete analysis. And make a suggestion here for a book that you've read that offered something unexpected.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Direct Mail Success

www.MarketingProfs.com
Four Ways to Raise Direct Mail Response Rates
by Tony Attwood
February 7, 2006
"About 90% of the direct mail I see uses one of two copywriting techniques. In my view, neither works. The truth is there are only four ways of writing a direct mail ad that will raise your response rate. Here they are. "
Business Know-How®
http://www.businessknowhow.com/QandA/mailrespon.htm
Q & A Mail Response Rates?
by Janet Attard
"Mail response rates vary greatly. They are influenced by who you send the mailing to, what you say in your letter, whether or not you are reaching the right person, when the letter arrives, and the phase of the moon."

Direct Marketing Association
DMA 2005 Response Rate Report
“Hailed as the most exciting research DMA has ever produced, this landmark report delivers response rate benchmarks specific to your marketing campaigns. Compare media, costs, response rates and ROI.”

Microsoft Small Business Center
Direct-mail tips for sophisticated marketers By Joanna L. Krotz
“Now more than ever, you need serious smarts and meticulous planning to develop a successful direct-mail campaign.”

Entrepreneur.com
Open More Doors with Dimensional Mail
September 12, 2005
“Want high response rates on a budget? Reach your top business-to-business prospects with dimensional, direct-mail pieces.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Helping Your Clients Protect Their Intellectual Property

I attended a web conference a couple weeks ago, offered by the US Department of Commerce, about how foreign entities have intruded on property rights of American businesses. They have enlisted the SBDCs to get out the word.

According to the presentation, counterfeiting accounts for 5% -7% of global merchandise trade, with lost sales of $600 billion in 2005. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they:
-Lack other product lines to fall back on
-Lack financial resources
-Have liability hazards

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are Private Rights:
-Legal protection for an investment
-Protection provided under national legislation and international agreements
-They include patents, trademark, and copyright
-For more information about patents and trademarks go USPTO or call 800 786-9199
-For more information about copyright, go the copyright Office or call 202 707-3000

The Department of Commerce recommends that SBDC advisers discuss IPR with your clients prior to new product development, and certainly prior to exportation. Whether to obtain IP protection is a business decision. Specifically, how important is IP to your client's business model? Can their goods or services be copied or imitated? How could counterfeiting, piracy, or infringement affect their business?
Since IP rights are territorial, the client should consider IP in countries where companies wish to produce, sell, or market their products now and in the future.

What is the IP climate of the countries where you intend to do business? Go here for more info on that, specifically the Special 301 Report and the National Trade Estimate.

To help your clients obtain IPR protection abroad, encourage them to register in current and potential markets here. There is some protection for international registration: Madrid Protocol for trademarks and The Patent Cooperation Treaty, for instance.

A key resources is www.stopfakes.gov, which has special toolkits for dealing with China, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, and Russia.

While the Department of Commerce wants to help your clients enforce their IPR abroad, the right holder has ultimate responsibility. Commerce can only provide guidance. Your clients should go to www.export.gov/ call 1-866-999-HALT. IP experts can suggest strategies to evaluate IPR problems.

Specifically in dealing with China, follow the 3 R’s: Register, Record, Remedies. The US Government can help companies navigate through China’s legal system:
-provide list of attorneys and/or consulting firms
-monitor and inquire about case status
-help your clients enforce their IPR in China through a one-hour consultation:
e-mailphone: 202-662-1034
a href="http://www.export-legal-assistance.org/" target=_new>ELAN website

Other Steps to Consider
-Work with legal counsel to develop an overall IPR protection strategy
-Develop detailed IPR language for licensing and subcontracting contracts
-Conduct due diligence of potential foreign partners

Resources to Assist Your Clients
Trade Compliance Center/ Office of IPR: Ensuring companies benefit from U.S. trade agreements
Their objectives are to:
Ensure that foreign countries comply with their trade commitments
Help American firms facing foreign trade barriers and unfair trade practices
Inform American firms about their rights
Helping Companies Fight Back, Case by Case
Identify unfair treatment
Form a compliance team
Apply agreement analysis
Craft an action plan
Work with other government agencies and our embassies if necessary
Raise the issue with appropriate authorities to resolve the problem.
Go here

For more information, including finding out when there may be a conference in your area, contact Cassie Peters
International Trade Specialist
Intellectual Property Rights
Market Access and Compliance
U.S. Department of Commerce
e-mail
(202) 482-6276

Monday, February 06, 2006

Research Network Subscriptions

Hey folks -

Increasingly, what we access on behalf of SBDC clients is electronic in origin. However, we still get value from the printed word. A good number of articles are copied from those journals and newspapers we have under subscription. In case you were curious, here's what travels among our in-boxes:

Advertising Age (weekly)
Agency Sales (free - monthly)
Black Enterprise (monthly)
Boating Industry (free - monthly)
Business First – Buffalo (weekly)
Business Week (weekly)
Capital District Business Review (weekly)
Central New York Business Journal (weekly)
Chronicle of Higher Education (weekly)
Consumer Reports (monthly)
Crain’s New York Business (weekly)
Entrepreneur (monthly)
Forbes (biweekly)
Fortune Small Business (monthly)
Government Technology (free - monthly)
Hispanic Business (free - monthly)
Inc (monthly)
Information Outlook (monthly)
Journal of Commerce (weekly)
Long Island Business News (weekly)
Oswego County Business (bimonthly)
Pet Business (monthly)
Playthings (monthly)
Professional Carwashing & Detailing (free - monthly)
Rochester Business Journal (weekly)
Sales & Marketing Management (monthly)
Searcher (monthly)
Signs of the Times (monthly)
Tea & Coffee Trade Journal (monthly)
Wall Street Journal (weekday + Saturday)
Westchester County Business Journal (weekly)

With the exception of the Wall Street Journal, we keep two years of each item on our shelves.
Many of these titles are indexed on the electronic databases that we use, so articles over two years old are still accessible.

They don't take up much space, they're quiet, but require a lot of oversight. Our publications collection, then, is much like a high-maintenance cat.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Kauffman Foundation's eVenturing

Geared to those who are building companies that innovate and create jobs and wealth, Kauffman eVenturing is the trusted guide for entrepreneurs on the path to high growth. The site provides original articles, written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and aggregates “the best of the best” content on the Web related to starting and running high-impact companies.
Entrepreneurs will find eVenturing to be an interactive, vibrant, and vital place to make important connections, access help and advice, and find relevant, practical “just-in-time” information and tools..

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Marketing to Women

Center for Women’s Business
Knowledge that Means Business

This concise site offers a picture of the state of women-owned businesses.
It includes stats by state, metro area, minority group, and publishes a number of reports for sale, as well as some for free.

Their fact of the week:

Women-owned businesses in nontraditional industries such as construction,
manufacturing, and transportation/communications are more than twice as
likely as women-owned businesses in more traditional industries to be
certified as a women's business enterprise (44% of business in
nontraditional industries vs. 21% in traditional industries).
Source:
Center for Women's Business Research, Women Business Owners in
Nontraditional Industries: Changing Traditional Views,
October 2005.


SBA Online Women’s Business Center
Naturally the SBA Online Women’s Business Center is a great resource for tips, SBA publications, a neat list of links to business magazines and news sources. In their library they include a few documents geared specifically to marketing the small business in their small business management series. Their FAQ page also offers a list of succinct guidance on a number of popular topics. And of course, the SBA links to our own very informative SBDC web site.


Inc.com
The Six Costliest Mistakes You Can Make in Marketing to Women
From: MarketingProfs.com January 2003
By Andrea Learned

And finally, to see what other marketers are doing and a look at women’s power in the market place check out:
LookSmart Find Articles.com:
The New Women’s Market
Growth Strategies
February 2005