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Showing posts from January, 2007

NY Medicaid Provider Manuals

I frequently find questions related to medicare and medicaid a bit daunting. Maybe that's just me, but I was pleasantly surprised by the eMedNY (the New York State Medicaid program claims processing system and part of the NYS Department of Health) website.

Particularly useful to businesses is the page on provider manuals. Using very pleasant-looking icons to represent a variety of services, you can "read about specific rules governing the provision of your care and service to Medicaid recipients. This section also contains billing instructions, as well as pertinent procedure codes and fee schedules."

Small Business Is Big Business (but you knew that already)

The number of small business loans outstanding under $100,000 increased 25 percent between June 2004 and June 2005, according to a report released by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The increase came mostly from credit card use by small business. The report also noted that the number of small business loans outstanding between $100,000 and $1 million increased 5 percent during the same period.

The report, "Small Business and Micro Business Lending in the United States, for Data Years 2004-2005," uses both Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) from June 2005 and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) reports for 2004 to review small business lending activities by financial institutions. This year's edition expands to include savings banks, savings and loan institutions, and American Territories.

The report also ranks lenders in each state by their small business lending activities, as well as ranking large national financial…

New Blog Features

Google has done a fair amount of work to upgrade blogs on Blogger.com. Visually, our blog doesn't look much different, but there are two changes in particular that will be very helpful to you.

First, there's a search field on the top left of the page. You can now search for any postings from the RN blog since its inception in May 2005. In addition, we can now add keywords to every post, providing you with additional subject terms to help you when searching for any of our blog posts. Very cool.

We're still investigating these new changes, and we'll tell you about any more tidbits that we find.

Plan your space without the help of an interior designer or piano mover.

Sometimes, I discover things online that are just too cool not to share. It is Friday, so here's a good one:

Find Your Furniture Room Planner from the American Home Furnishings Alliance.
(Honestly, I was doing research related to the furniture industry when I found this trade association and this addictive tool.)

Here's how it works: you pick a room (bedroom, office etc) and you can add furniture (beds, bookcases, plants etc) to it, resize and reposition everything. Put in windows and doors, and change the way they open. Add a rug, and put it at any angle. Locate the perfect spot for your fuzzy slippers.

Basically, this is a must for anyone who likes to move around furniture, but doesn't have a team of burly furniture movers at their beck and call.

Enjoy.

Leaving On A Jet Plane

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Or not. In addition to dealing with permitted and prohibited items and lost luggage, there's the issue of flight delays.

Flight Delay Information - Air Traffic Control System Command Center. AIRPORT STATUS INFORMATION: "The status information provided on this site indicates general airport conditions; it is not flight-specific."

FlightStats.com. Tracks airport and airline delays. For instance, one could find, as the Wall Street Journal did last month, that AirTran Airways Flight 574 from Atlanta to Newark was on time only 26.4% of the time in November and December 2005, and only 11.1% during the first 26 days of November 2006. Likewise, American Airlines Flight 1914 from Chicago to Newark was on time only 35% of the time during the last two months of 2005, with an average 77-minute delay; in November 2006, the numbers were 14.3% on time and a 67-minute average delay. Registration is required for the site, but it's free.

Also, as you may have heard, effective today, you&…

Source for R&D help

We recently received in the mail a promotional letter for a new website called freeRandD.com. It's premise sounds intriguing. Here's some text from the letter:

"This new site will be of interest to small business owners that are struggling with how to conduct, fund, and staff research and development projects. This may include CAD work, designing a circuit board, prototyping a plastic part or mechanical assembly, preforming high-end design analysis, conducting market research activities, etc.

Not known to many is that there are thousands of university students that are looking for a project of a real world nature to work on. These students are bright and knowledgeable of the latest technologies in design and manufacturing.

That is where freeRandD.com comes in. Our objective is to help bring together talented university students and industry."

Their website allows businesses, government agencies, or nonprofit groups with R&D needs to post (for a small fee) the pa…

More on Communication... or Why Email is Now Easier Than Faxes

While I am on the subject...

We have been trying to streamline our processes and use the tools we have, that perhaps we were not using to their full capability. More and more, we are trying to do things electronically. It has saved an enormous amount on postage, has made our processes more transparent and cut down on a lot of duplication of documentation.

We understand using methods that feel safe and comfortable, and we still encourage the oldest of methods - a phone call- to get in touch with us, but we would request, that if you do prefer to send the written word, then please send it in an email to the RN address. It allows us to share the document between us, and it is instantaneous.

Most faxes that we receive come through our individual fax numbers and are automatically converted into an email. Those that come through the main fax number: 518 443-5275 come through in paper only. Usually Cheryl will run the paper around to a researcher and then that person will have to retype the inf…

Communication Skills

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To my mind what we all do here is communicate.
As researchers, we specialize in guessing accurately how a journalist or research source uses words so that we can extract what we want. If we insist on using words that no-one else does - we won't find what we are searching for.

Advisors communicate with clients to understand where they are, where they've been and where they are going. I'm sure if a client doesn't express adequately what they mean by something like "experience" for instance, it can mean the difference between getting a bank loan or not. 20 years in the business and a summer spent looking over someone's shoulder both could be expressed as "experience" and therefore knowledge.

We share information. We with advisors in the field and advisors with clients. This is particularly difficult to do if we have information that is out-of-date or otherwise incorrect. I am frustrated by using tools that are developed and readily available tha…

Best Free Reference Web Sites 1999-2006

A few postings ago Roger mentioned how helpful librarians can be in sharing information and resources with each other. Here’s another example:

The Reference and User Services Association (a section of the American Library Association) has a committee that creates a list of the best free reference Web sites each year. This list is then compiled and now the combined index of 1999-2006 is available here.

There’s a little bit of everything : ranging from the AARP website to yourDictionary.com, with fun stuff like Download.com from CNET (Ooh! Free music!) and Big Charts (Ooh! Free historical stock prices!) in between.

The list is alphabetical (not arranged by subject), so it’s kind of a gamble as to what you’ll find, but it’s definitely good browsing.

Do Start-Ups Really Need Formal Business Plans?

That's the question posed in the Wall Street Journal last week. The article by Kelly K. Spors, subtitled "Studies Find Often Time Wasted Gathering Data With No Link to Success", appeared in the January 9 edition, on page B-9.

The abstract reads:
Amar Bhide, a Columbia University entrepreneurship professor, found that 41% of Inc. magazine's 1989 list of the 500 fastest-growing private firms didn't have business plans and 26% had only rudimentary plans. A follow-up by the magazine in 2002 found the numbers without a plan have remained pretty much the same. Many business concepts are "transitional in nature," meaning there are competitive advantages to starting the business quickly and by the time you write a full business plan "the opportunity will be gone."
Scott Shane, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, says most studies that discount business-planning are flawed because they don't correct for business failure rates, only account…

New Book Title: Focus

Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington

The table of contents starts with a reminder most artists need to hear:
"Chapter One: You are a Business - Now Let's Get to Work! Whether or Not You Think You're a Business, You Are." Chapter 3 covers "Planning and Logistics: Why a Thrity-Minute Shoot Can Take Three Days to Plan." A chapter is dedicated to "Pricing Your Work to Stay in Business (containing very practical and real-world tips) and the next is on "Overhead: Why What You Charge a Client Must Be More Than You Paid for It."
The author offers a little cold-water on what needs to be paid for in order to achieve long-lasting success. He covers insurance, retirement accounts, accounting and various contracts. Chapter 10 is entitled "Contracts for Editorial Clients including: ""We'll Send Along Some Paperwork": Why You Should Be the First to Send the Contract"
There is advice on negotiating and p…

One man’s trash…

. . . is another man’s resource.

Most of us recycle in one way or another. But how about on a broader scale? Some companies and organizations are doing pretty neat things in order to re-use and recycle.

Check out NY Wa$teMatch. According to this site, “NY Wa$teMatch provides reuse, recycling and other innovative waste solutions to boost your bottom line. We help our clients reduce disposal costs, generate revenue and obtain raw materials for free.” They offer a materials exchange service to match sources of waste product with organizations that can use it, as well as technical and research services to strengthen the reuse and recycling markets.

Average length of website user sessions

Among the tools librarians use are...OTHER LIBRARIANS. A librarian posted the query above, and several librarians - including yours truly - came up with some nifty solutions. Here, with her permission, is the summary:

Several people recommended Nielsen and one person mentioned Comscore. Comscore is the chief competitor of NetRatings.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project was another recommended source.

Cyber Alert was recommended as a good source for information on web analytics and definitions of web stats.

ClickZ was recommended as a great source for the definition of a web user and related information & definitions.
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Also, remember the bad old days when someone was quick or smart enough to register a company name before that company did, forcing the latter to buy back its own name - at exorbitant rates - for the URL? I've gotten an occasional request to find out how to do that! Well, tell your clients this: DON'T. It's called cybersquatting, and there is federal…

Business.gov

Way back in August 2005, Roger posted a blog about "40 Government Sites You Can't Live Without". One of the 40 is Business.gov, which is managed by SBA in a partnership with 21 other Federal agencies.

Back in October 2006, I read an e-mail about how SBA has overhauled this site, both in look and content. Rather than ramble on & on in this blog, click here to read what this site can do. If you've never used it before, it can be pretty handy, especially to the start-ups among our clientele, or for those interested in things like licensing & regulatory information.

More on the “Ask a Question” feature…

I hope that most of you have seen the new “Ask a Question” feature on the revised website (if you missed it, click here. )
There are a couple things I want to clarify, just in case you happen to be the happy recipient of a question from the outside world.

This feature generates several emails after the question is submitted. After the questioner chooses their county (and we’re coming up with a way to allow counties served by multiple centers to have an additional choice of center), they receive a confirmation email, I receive a copy of the question (as the webmaster), and the center receives the question. All of these emails come from an imaginary email address, Ask@nyssbdc.org. The email to the questioner specifies not to reply to this address, as it is imaginary and no one reads these messages.

This bit of information is also important to the lucky advisor answering the question. Don’t reply to Ask@nyssbdc.org, reply to the questioner, whose email is listed within the body of the messa…

2007

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Happy 2007! The link will alert you to some interesting things coming up this year, not including New York State's raise in the minimum wage to $7.15 per hour.

On a very practical level, the change in Daylight Saving Time will affect the most people:
Beginning in 2007, DST will start on the second Sunday in March (March 11, 2007), and change back to standard time on the first Sunday in November (November 4, 2007). Under Section 110 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy is required to study the impact of the DST extension no later than nine months after the change takes effect. Congress has retained the right to revert to the DST schedule set in 1986 if it cannot be shown that there are significant energy savings from an extension of DST or if the extension may prove to be unpopular with the American public. One potential issue is that some northern regions on the western edge of time zones will for the first time since the 1974-75 "almost year round&qu…

What Can You Live With?

It's the New Year - time to take personal inventory, and to reassess the status quo. Personally, I'd like to drink less coffee in the coming year, but that afternoon cup from Dunkin Donuts really hits the spot.

What can you live with? This article showcases results from a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. It tries to measure how Americans view everyday consumer items (PCs, microwave ovens, etc.) - as a luxury, or a necessity?

This survey has been conducted at random intervals since the early 1970s. It's fascinating to view the trends that some of these items have taken, and how they'll be perceived the next time around. (Only 3% of those surveyed feel that an iPod is a necessity - what will that figure be in 2010?)

Oscar Wilde once wrote, "We live in an age when unecessary things are our only necessities." That "age" was the 1890s. I wonder what he'd say about the 2000s?

Happy New Year, everyone!