Tuesday, October 31, 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 "trick-or-treaters."

Jack O’ Lanterns and Pumpkin Pies
1.1 billion pounds: Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2005. Illinois led the country by producing 497 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $106 million.

Where to Spend Halloween?
Some places around the country that may put you in the Halloween mood are:
Transylvania County, N.C. (29,626 residents).
Tombstone, Ariz. (population 1,569).
Pumpkin Center, N.C. (population 2,228); and Pumpkin Bend township, Ark. (population 307).
Cape Fear township in New Hanover County, N.C.; and Cape Fear township in Chatham County, N.C. with populations of 15,711 and 1,170, respectively)
Skull Creek township, Neb. (population 285)
Press Release

Candy and Costumes

1,241: Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2004, employing 43,322 people and shipping $12.5 billion worth of goods. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 136, followed by Pennsylvania, with 122.

515: Number of U.S. establishments that manufactured nonchocolate confectionary products in 2004. These establishments employed 22,234 people and shipped $7.2 billion worth of goods that year. California also led the nation in this category, with 76 establishments.

26 pounds: Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005; it is believed a large portion is consumed around Halloween.

2,497: Number of formal wear and costume rental establishments across the nation in 2004.

Monday, October 30, 2006

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 for any of our clients when learning about signs. However, the site should make them more informed customers when finding someone who can design and install a sign that works best for their location & their line of business.

This site is available to businesses around the U.S. I plan on notifying SBDCs around the country about its existence, and about what it can do for their clients. Also, I'd like to perform a workshop on the subject at next year's staff training.

I hope to see you there, and hope that you visit the site.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

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 Internet
  • Bricks & Mortar: renovating or Building a Business Incubation Facility
  • Conducting Research Surveys Via Email & the Web
  • Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual
  • Drive a Modest Car& 16 Other Keys to Small Business Success
  • Guerilla Marketing for Free
  • How to Create a High Profit Photography Business
  • Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law
  • Making Money in the Fitness Business
  • Organic, Inc.
  • Patent, Copyright & Trademark
  • Spa Business Strategies
  • Start Your Own hair Salon & Day Spa
  • Starting a Medical Practice
  • The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth
  • The Franchise Handbook: A Complete Guide to All Aspects of Buying, Selling or Investing in a Franchise
  • The Ultimate Guide Electronic Marketing for Small Business
  • The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide

There are a fair number of books we have not yet received so we’ll let you know when we get them in.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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 walls of the buildings".
Net floor area - "The occupied area of a building not including hallways, elevator shafts, stairways, toilets and wall thicknesses."

I can imagine that advisors advising clients who may be thinking of acquiring a building or renting a space may find the definitions useful.

Monday, October 23, 2006

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).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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 .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

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.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

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. Some favorite titles are:
How Not to Succeed in the Art World
I Can't Sell Art Because I'm Not Dead and the Media Are Idiots
Sell Your Art Successfully at Online Auctions
How to Set and Raise Selling Prices
When Your Art Sells, But You Don't Own It
An Art Website that Makes Money

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

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 street address and the ZIP Code, one can easily find the sales tax rate.

What I could NOT find a tax rate collection chart for 8 5/8% that goes higher than $9.99. Do you know where to find one?

Monday, October 09, 2006

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.

Friday, October 06, 2006

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.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

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.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

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 the number of firms, establishments, employment, and payroll by industry and state. In addition, Metropolitan Statistical Area births, closures, and employment changes by firm size for 2002-2003 were released. The data are located here.

Finally, "newly released data show that in 2005, small businesses represented 99.7 percent of all the nation's employer businesses." See the 2005 Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories, listed in the 2006 columns here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

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, but that ought to be enough for the vast majority of our clients.