Friday, December 29, 2006

New year, new website...


Hooray! As I imagine most of you have received Brian's email, you now know that www.nyssbdc.org has a new look and some organizational changes. Many thanks to all who contributed suggestions and materials for this revision.

It's definitely still a work in progress (Yes- no one likes the request for counseling form. Folks will have to sit down to decide what information we need to collect here and what we should do with it before any major edits occur.) The center sites have a new look, but the same information. We will make every attempt to tackle a major revision of those pages in the near future, so start thinking about what you'd like to see on your center's pages.

I hope, however, that some of the organizational changes will better allow the central site to change and grow. And I hope that our clients' happy faces on many of the pages will encourage others to give us a call.

Comments, questions and suggestions (as always) are greatly appreciated.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 and the Entrepreneur


IE 7 is here - got in our office last week -with all sorts of new features such as:
Phishing Filter
Proactively warns and helps protect you against potential or known fraudulent sites and blocks the site if appropriate. The opt-in filter is updated several times per hour using the latest security information from Microsoft and several industry partners.


This means, starting early next year, the address bar in Internet Explorer 7 will turn green when surfing to a legitimate Web site--but only in some cases, not all.

"But the new system adopted for IE 7 has been causing friction, too. Initially, only corporations will be able to get the [green color] online trust indicator--a rule that shuts out smaller businesses. While the CA Browser Forum is still working on final guidelines that would include all legitimate Web sites, those could take a while to complete." Microsoft's Phishing Filter turns address bars yellow if on suspicious sites and red on confirmed phishing sites. When Microsoft has no information on a site, which will be true for many small businesses, the site will remain the standard white."

Verisign, Thawte, and other companies are among the certification authorities involved with the new procedure.

Joy Viren Murphy, sole proprietor of Aunt Joy's Personalized Christmas Stockings, profiled in the December 19 Wall Street Journal, fears that her business will suffer. "For that new customer, are they going to pass me by because I don't have a green bar?"

From the WSJ: "Microsoft says the number of companies left out will be minimal, noting that [LLCs] and partnerships, as well as S and C corporations, will be able to get the certificates and thus green bars. In the future it expects certificate authorities to bring more types of businesses into the scheme."

Mrs. Murphy feels, "the Internet made the world so big for small people like me" but feels the new system "seems like an excuse to shut out the small business like myself and make sure we don't take too many of the dollars from the big boys."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Plumbing Woes

Well, not that it has helped me this time, but I’m sure these sites will come in handy one day when I am in my next plumbing crisis. Today, I leave it to the professionals. If you are ever so unfortunate as to be in a wet situation, perhaps these sites might help:

www.Theplumber.com

"theplumber.com web site, has been called one of the "best web sites" by the #1 on-line multimedia encyclopedia - Encarta"
"Even Encyclopedia Britannica has linked to us in the past as one of "The Web's Best Sites"
"World Book On-Line Encyclopedia specially selected theplumber.com by their Editors as well theplumber.com was rated a Hot Site by USA Today"


Plumbing at DoItYourself.com
http://www.doityourself.com/scat/plumbing


Plumbing on Wikipedia.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumbing


www.plbg.com
The Plumbing Education and Information Sharing Site


www.Toiletology101.com
Basics of Indoor Plumbing & Toilet Repairs


~~Murphy's Law~~

"If something can go wrong, it probably will ."

...and I can vouch for that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Online resource for specialty food businesses

When we get a question about starting a specialty food business we frequently turn to Stephen Hall’s From Kitchen to Market for some practical advice. There is now an accompanying website for the book, complete with a free discussion forum and a Food Entrepreneur eZine, available at http://www.specialtyfoodresource.com/ .

The eZine has a variety of short, helpful articles and the issues are archived. The forum includes topics like “Pricing your product,” “Getting distributors” and “Understanding the industry” and Mr. Hall seems to be a frequent contributor. Looks like a great way for our clients to ask questions of other entrepreneurs and an expert in the field.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

(One CAN Get Some) Satisfaction


American Consumer Satisfaction Index
"ACSI reports scores on a 0-100 scale at the national level. It also produces indexes for 10 economic sectors, 43 industries (including e-commerce and e-business), and more than 200 companies and federal or local government agencies. The measured companies, industries, and sectors are broadly representative of the U.S. economy serving American households."

A blog post from a Usability and Design firm called Adaptive Path.
The blog as a whole is rather interesting, too.

A recent National Retail Federation/American Express study placed Amazon at the top of online and brick & mortar stores.
***
And, apropos of nothing, Keith Richards turned 63 yesterday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

NationMaster

Sometimes I come across a site and marvel at the amount of work put into its upkeep. A few weeks ago, I read about a site called NationMaster. It's a site where you can glean data for a single country from a huge variety of topics (economic, geographic, income, labor, religion, and on and on).

The site originates in Australia, but collects data from a wealth of resources and arranges them in a very easy interface. Since our clients are interested in importing and/or exporting with just about every nation on Earth, this site is extremely helpful.

As a bonus, this site links to a companion page called StateMaster, providing an additional wealth of data for each state in the U.S. These two sites are great for us researchers, and great for kids out there with a paper to write on the main exports of the Maldives.

(And speaking of kids & the Maldives, NORAD once again presents its annual Santa Tracker website. For those of you interested in tracking ol' St. Nick on Christmas Eve - who knows, maybe you've a long-standing beef with the big man - here's your chance.)

Season's greetings to all, and to all, a good day!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Online Ad Spending

The Future of Web Ads is in Britain
The New York Times

By Louise Story and Eric Pfanner
Published December 4, 2006
According to this article Britain is leading the way – way ahead of the US in terms of online advertising and suggests that maybe we can learn from the UK experience.

eMarketer
NOVEMBER 27, 2006 “An emerging consensus paints a positive picture. The trend began early last week, when the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released new data showing that US Internet advertising revenues reached a record $4.2 billion in the third quarter of 2006.”
British Online Ad Spending Outpacing U.S. By Nearly 2 to 1
Seeking Alpha

Posted on Dec 4th, 2006
Carl Howe (Blackfriars Communications)

The Federal Trade Commission – Facts for Businesses
Dot Com Disclosures
A guide for the ecommerce marketer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Marketing to Baby Boomers

On Monday I finished a question about marketing to baby boomers. That night, I happened to see a piece on the news on marketing to baby boomers. That to me is a sign that I should blog about marketing to baby boomers.

Here are a few interesting articles (and a video) that discuss some prominent marketing campaigns, the use of baby boomer celebrities in advertising, and offer some information about boomer spending patterns:

Business Week: Love Those Boomers

US News: Oldies but goodies (Personally, I would never refer to baby boomers as "oldies." The nerve!)

MSNBC: Baby Boomers Create New Marketing Frontier

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Copyright's a Fuzzy Thing, Sometimes

Parody: copyright infringement or fair use? It depends.

One interesting article that my colleague Amelia came across is "Who owns Barbie?;
CORPORATIONS ARE SUING ARTISTS OVER POP CULTURE ICONS" by John Petrick, in the September 25, 2005 Sunday Record (Bergen, NJ)

"Parody by its nature requires that you make reference to the original. So once something is determined a 'parody,' there's a lot of breathing room," says John Koegle, an attorney who represents artists.

Nevertheless, some companies feel they should be able to control any depiction of their work in public life. And in some cases, they have prevailed. There was the 1978 case in which Disney sued an underground cartoonist who depicted Mickey Mouse engaged in various adult behaviors. While the artist argued it was clearly parody - or "fair use" under the law - the court didn't buy it and ruled the images were copyright infringement.

In 1994, on the other hand, 2 Live Crew was sued for its rewritten version of Roy Orbison's classic song "Pretty Woman." The case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the song was "fair use" in that it was a parody. It's a seminal case for artists and their lawyers, in that it's the first to make such distinctions.

Also in favor of artists' rights was a more recent case in which Mattel sued Utah photographer Tom Forsythe for copyright infringement after he created a series of images titled "Food Chain Barbie." The collection showed Barbie dolls posing in every kind of kitchen appliance from blenders to toaster ovens...

Mattel didn't care what he was trying to show. He was using their property in his artwork. Though he earned only a few thousand dollars at the time in sales, the company sued in 1999 and pressed the case forward all the way to California's federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a scathing ruling against Mattel in 2003, the court found no basis for the lawsuit and ordered the giant toy company to pay for all of Forsythe's legal fees and expenses - a whopping $2.1 million worth of pro bono work. The artist prevailed largely on First Amendment grounds.

***
Images of deceased celebrities: There is no copyright involved, is there? Depends. In California, there is a Special Filing called Successor-In-Interest, where the use of the images of Babe Ruth, Kurt Cobain, Audrey Hepburn and many others is regulated. Also, check out the Corbis website.
***
What if you can't find the copyright owner: The University of Texas has a list of steps for obtaining information, from asking scholars to publishing a notice in the newspaper. But when permission can't be gotten because the owner's unknown, can't be found, or won't respond, assert fair use. That's what the Library of Congress does here:

The Library of Congress has exhaustively researched the contents of this collection to ascertain any possible legal rights embodied in the materials. Items included here with the permission of rights holders are listed below. Many of the items in this collection are in the public domain, that is, not subject to copyright protection such as the works of employees of the federal government of the United States.

Despite extensive research, the Library has been unable to identify all possible rights holders in the materials in this collection. Thus, some of the materials provided here online are made available under an assertion of fair use (17 U.S.C. 107).


If the copyright holder then shows up, showing that a "good-faith" effort had been made will strengthen one's position. Use a disclaimer - if true - such as: "We have made every effort to obtain permission for all copyright protected images/text. If you have a copyrighted protected work in this publication, and you have not given permision, please contact us at..." - a piece I cobbled from several different sources.

For more on the limitations of copyright, go here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

World Almanac

I freely admit to finding ideas for this blog from other blogs that I read. Not everything, mind you (I am capable of some original thought). For instance, not long ago I read on ResourceShelf.com that the editors of the World Almanac - that most venerable of reference tools - had created a blog of their own last October 1st.

I received my first World Almanac as a Christmas gift when I was eight years old. I won't say that I heard my calling as a librarian that very day (there was an ill-fated stretch of years when I felt destined to play centerfield for the Red Sox), but it was certainly a harbinger of things to come. The WA blog won't necessarily be of everyday benefit to you & your clients, but I include it here as a tribute to an old friend.

Friday, December 08, 2006

SBA Hosts Live Web Chat on Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

WHO: Thomas P. Ochsenschlager, vice president of Taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), will host the SBA’s December Web chat on "Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners."
Chat participants will receive valuable information about the importance of year-end planning and steps small business owners can take to reduce their
2006 tax bills, as Ochsenschlager answers questions on year-end tax savings.
WHAT: The SBA’s live Web chat series provides business owners the opportunity to have discussions online about relevant business issues with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Participants have direct, real-time access to the Web chats via questions they submit online in advance and during the session, with instant answers.
WHEN: Thursday, December 14, 2006, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., ET.
Ochsenschlager will answer questions for one hour.
HOW: Participants can join the live Web chat by going online to www.sba.gov, and clicking "Online Business Chat." Web chat participants may post questions for Ochsenschlager before the December 14th chat by visiting app1.sba.gov/liveMeeting/liveDec06/intro.cfm and posting their questions online.
To review archives of past Web chats, visit online at www.sba.gov/tools/monthlywebchat/index.html

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

SBDC on TV

Want to see some SBDC folks on TV? The Mohawk Valley SBDC turned 20 years old, and Syracuse's News 10 was there to cover it. Luckily for the rest of us, this clip is online too, here .

I wanted to share the fun, but also remind you all to send me your clips, your news articles, your business advice. . .

It's nice to share.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes, et al.

The Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes provides a general descriptive overview of the taxes which New York State and its local governments impose, and is revised periodically to reflect recently enacted law changes. It does not include non-tax revenue sources such as motor vehicle fees and the Lottery. Instead, it focuses on taxes, especially those administered by the Department of Taxation and Finance.
To download the entire publication, the October 2006 Edition, please visit here.
***
Tax Department Announces Discontinuation of Publication 352, which is Income Tax Forms and Instructions and Selected Corporation and Withholding Tax Forms. However, the CD-ROM of the publication is available for sale. View the document.
***
For you policy wonks, Streamlining New York's Sales Tax: Examining Requirements for Compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement

The Streamlined Sales Tax Project was founded in March 2000, with the purpose of developing measures to simplify and unify state and local sales taxes. The extent to which New York should participate in the nationwide e sales tax streamlining effort is an important state fiscal policy issue.
This report highlights the key features of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement and examines the extent to which New York's current State and local sales tax complies with its provisions. To download the entire publication, go here, which will lead you to a 107-page PDF.
***
Higher top tax rates on individual income, higher sales tax rates, and the existence of state-level inheritance or gift taxes all tend to slightly reduce a stateÂ’s share of the national entrepreneurial stock, according to a study by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The report State Tax Policy and Entrepreneurial Activity also discovered that top marginal tax rates on individual and corporate income do not have statistically significant effects on state entrepreneurship rates, but states with higher sales tax rates tend to have higher entrepreneurship rates. The study was written by Donald Bruce, and John Deskins with funding from the Office of Advocacy.

A copy of this report can be obtained here, and the research summary here. Should you need further information, please feel free to contact Joseph Johnson at (202) 205-6533 or advocacy@sba.gov.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Articles on Electronic Business

Recently, Walter Reid from the Farmingdale SBDC forwarded me an article that originally appeared in Derek Gehl's E-Business column, part of the Entrepreneur magazine website. The article presented brief, straightforward strategies to boost traffic to small business websites. It is not geared at those who are super-proficient in the ways of website marketing, but rather to the (I suspect) vast majority of business owners who are not.

I'm not going to reproduce the article here, mainly because I went to his website & found many, many articles of his that were worth telling you about. The worth of an article is not always just what it tells you, but what thoughts it triggers in your head. Each of these provides a wealth of suggestions & links to other sites, and might be worth keeping in mind the next time you have a tentative e-businessperson in your office.

(Thanks, Walter!)