Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fun with labor statistics

On Monday, Roger and I attended a workshop on information sources for labor statistics. Sponsored by the Capital District Business Librarians, James Ross, the NYS Department of Labors’ Regional Labor Market Analyst for the Capital Region, discussed the wild world of statistics available on the NYS Labor Department website.

There’s a lot here, but it is not always easy to get to. Here are just a few things that I found interesting:

Most of us are familiar with the occupational outlook reports available from the U.S. Department of Labor, which offers descriptive job outlooks for a variety of occupations. The NYS DOL provides more detailed and local statistics, offering a ten year forecast for more than 700 occupations, listed by their SOC code. Available statewide and by region, these tables list the current employment figures for that field, projected employment numbers for ten years later, with growth and replacement figures. For those less inclined to crunch the numbers, the occupations are rated on a scale of “least favorable” to “very favorable” with annual salaries, and annual job openings on this page.

The DOL site also links to America’s Career InfoNet, where jobseekers can locate potential employers based on industry, occupation, location or keyword. They might not be hiring, but it gives a picture of the local industry (potential competitors?).

Like I said, there’s a lot more here, it just requires some browsing or a conversation with the right economist.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Taxing Situation

There are those of you who have probably already filed your taxes, and may have found your refunds delayed by last-minute Congressional action.

Then there are those who wait until the last minute. For you folks, you'll have an extra day. Read Announcement Regarding a Change in the Due Date for Certain 2006 New York State Tax Returns to April 17, 2007, which applies not only to those who file in Andover, Massachusetts, but everyone.

Here's a Summary of Personal Income Tax Legislative Changes Enacted in 2006 and Summary of Corporation Tax Legislative Changes Enacted in 2006.

New York State and Local Sales and Use Tax Quick Reference Guide.

New York taxpayers who are preparing their personal income tax returns can take advantage of a host of family-friendly credits that may lower their tax bills and increase their refunds. Some tax breaks, like the New York State and New York City Earned Income Tax Credits, may result in a refund even when no tax is owed.
To view the entire document and rates please visit here.

"Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet"

"Taxman", by George Harrison

Monday, February 26, 2007

Free International Market Reports

This link leads to the Market Research Library of the U.S. Commercial Service. There, you can access (for free) information about a specific country (or a specific industry within a country) from any of the following three reports:

1) Market Research
2) Country Commercial Guides (CCG)
3) Best Market Reports

Again, you can search by specific industry, region of the world, or country. Item #2 is particularly loaded with information. I pulled up the latest CCG for China, and it was 220+ pages of information on market possibilities, contacts within the country, habits & customs, etc.

It's a great for your import/export clients.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

a Second Life for your business?

Lately I’ve been seeing articles and reading blogs all mentioning Second Life, but up until now I hadn’t taken the time to check it out.

Is it a computer game? An online community? A business opportunity? Turns out it is all of the above, and more (although I’m not even going to pretend that I understand everything involved). Members build avatars (they look a lot like the Sims), chat with each other, play games, build things, take classes, and even conduct business.

Introducing his interview with Second Life creator Philip Rosedale on, Michael Fitzgerald writes,

Second Life is a place where anyone can have just that. It is a richly detailed virtual world where anything a computer programmer can imagine can exist: There are minutely detailed replicas of Rockefeller Center and human-size raccoons; sex and sadism and spiritual retreats; conference calls and a currency exchange. Almost all of it is created by the people who pay to dwell in it.”

Lately, it’s getting a lot more media attention, and attracting the interest of both big business and small entrepreneurs. Sweden even plans to open a virtual embassy!

Read more:

What is Second Life?

How do I market my brand in Second Life?

Does your business need a Second Life?

I got my job through Second Life

The You're Not Fooling Anyone Department

10 Lies VCs Know You're Telling
In the quest for capital, many entrepreneurs stretch the truth. One venture capitalist calls them out.
By Guy Kawasaki Entrepreneur Magazine - March 2007

From "our projections are conservative" to "so-and-so are ready to sign us, so you better move fast" or "no one else can do what we do", Guy Kawasaki runs through the standard fare from venture capital seekers. I can imagine the eye-rolling that must go on. I especially liked the advice to entrepreneurs to perhaps plug into Google before traipsing off to a VC, all confident and ignorant of the competitors in the field.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who's That President?

It was Presidents' Day yesterday, and while I can name all of the occupants, and their years of service (useful for games shows, BTW), I'm not always sure of the accomplishments, if any, of many of them. Like the guy pictured. Who IS he?

So here are some links from:
the White House

The Internet Public Library

Grolier Encyclopedia

Here's a link to all of the Presidential Libraries.

Oh, and that guy pictured is James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States (1857-1861), James K. Polk's Secretary of State, who was totally ineffectual in stemming the tide towards Civil War, most historians suggest. He was our only "bachelor President".

Monday, February 19, 2007

Packaging Blues

I noticed a number of news stories over the weekend that cited the 2006 "Oyster Awards," as given out by Consumer Reports. This article provides an overview of this year's "winners," dedicated to those products sabotaged by companies with an interest in tormenting anyone foolish enough to buy these things.

(Click "Winners" in the left-hand menu. As someone who spent a fair amount of holiday time trying to liberate toys for a 9-year-old, I can relate.)

For all those clients interested in finding packagers for their products, make sure they see this site, if only to know what NOT to do.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Getting into the Stores

For our fashion industry clients, other than, or in addition to, building their own bricks and mortar or online shop, another approach is often to get their designs into larger retailers. Here are a few guidelines and sources to help that process along.

Getting your goods in the department stores.
Katherine Gray
Los Angeles Business Journal
August 1 2005

Get into stores
Nov. 3, 2003
Mary Stewart Center for Entrepreneurship
Ask an Expert

Apparently very useful for listings of US and international fashion events:
Fashion Calendar

Glam Central
A blog worth checking out for profiles of fashion editors, coverage of fashion week and to locate other fashion blogs:

I know you get WWD, but maybe you should run through if you haven’t already and scan articles for the names of buyers at stores that you might market to. As an example, this is a recent one that mentions quite a few people. By the same token, you can check the magazines for the names of fashion editors to see if you can send them a card or something:

And for a slightly different approach:

How to Market Your Clothing Designs to Local Stores
by Diana Pemberton-Sikes
Fashion Job Review

"You don't have to be a big name designer to earn decent money designing clothes. You also don't have to live in a fashion city like New York, London, or Paris."

Licensing Agents for Clothing Licenses
Lists of buyers and licensing agents - though I believe exclusively for-a-fee.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Women buy stuff.

Women buy stuff.

And marketers are paying attention. With increasing incomes and more purchasing power within the family, even traditionally male dominated fields are re-examining their approach to female buyers.

Just how? Check out this New York Times article from October 2006 .

A variety of online resources are popping up to assist the female consumer. Here are two mentioned in the above article:
According to this site, “Women purchase half of the vehicles sold in the United States each year, spending billions of dollars a year in new car purchases. Yet, shopping for and buying a car can be a challenge for women who are first time car buyers or for women who had a bad experience in the past with a car salesman or dealership. The Ask, Inc. web site is a safe place for women to get advice on car purchases, maintenance and other automotive related topics.”
The NYT article cites a study from the National Association of Realtors, reporting that single women are the fastest-growing segment of home buyers, purchasing 21 percent of homes, compared to 9 percent for single men. Be Jane describes itself as “the first branded media company dedicated to serving the fastest growing segment of the home improvement marketplace - women do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) who have the economic staying power and the personal desire to improve their home environment.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

2006 Was the Hottest Year On Record (or maybe not)

In the midst of this cold snap many of us are enduring, think back to the balmy days of December 2006. That unusually mild month may have put the year into the record books. has an article describing the process of determining the temperature, which is over two degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th Century mean, which may suggest evidence of global warming.

I note this, in part, because of the fact that there is apparently more than one way to measure these things, and that 1998 may instead be the "winner". Something for clients, advisors, and especially librarians to remember when they look for, or receive, information is that there may be more than one way to parse the data, about global warming, the number of small businesses, or anything else. (I do believe, BTW, that there IS global warming, and that humans have contributed to it; it's the different methodologies that I wished to comment on.)

And speaking of heat, here's a list of individuals currently running for President, people such as Jim Gilmore and Mike Gravel.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Top Telemarketing & Internet Scams - 2006

Last year, I wrote a posting about our experiences with a scam artist in Canada. We also get lots of inquiries on behalf of clients who are cautious about their dealings with certain companies.

On the heels of this, here's a brief article from the National Consumers League, discussing its recently-released lists of the top telemarketing and Internet scams for 2006. (If you click on the link in its first paragraph, click on the "Telemarketing Fraud" or the "Internet Fraud" icons to read the lists.)

In both cases, the NCL is concerned about the rise of fake check scams. Read the lists, and pass them on to your clients as a warning to the "increasing sophistication" of scam artists' methods.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mass Mailings: Yea or Nay?

Here are a sampling of points of view on mass mailings:
Five Good Reasons to Do a Mass Mailing
From *

Mass E-Mailings: How To, and How Not To
“Getting folks to your web site may take some “push” and bulk e-mail could be
the answer. Here are some cheap and easy ways to get started.”

By Bob Weibel
Found on eFuse “The friendly place to learn to build a better web site."

also in Guerrilla Marketing Articles:
What Guerrillas Know About Email
by Jay Conrad Levinson

Gail Goodman: E-Mail Marketing
Building Your E-mail List
By Gail Goodman
March 06, 2006
"Got a pocket full of business cards from that last networking event? Don't forget to ask permission before adding those names to your e-mail marketing list."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Media Ownership: Who Owns What?

It's hard to keep track of who owns U.S. newspapers, publishing firms, tv stations, radio stations and the like on any given day. Luckily, the Columbia Journalism Review will manage that information for you.

Their "Who Owns What" page features major media-owning corporations, listing their outlets in a variety of forms. The site also presents corporate timelines for several of the largest companies, and has links to media ownership news items as well.

Useful if exploring bias in the media, or if you just want to keep tabs on what's happening to your favorite media conglomerate.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Say Pepsi, Please

I read an interesting story last month: "How Pepsi Opened Door to Diversity; A 1940s All-Black Team Targeted a New Market And Broke a Barrier" by Stephanie Capparell, in the Wall Street Journal: January 9, 2007. pg. B.1., adapted from her new book, The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier in American Business.

Here's the article abstract:

Their jobs turned most of the men into Pepsi fanatics. Said team member [Jean Emmons]: "All of my friends had to buy Pepsi. I kept stockpiles of Pepsi in my house. All the places I went had to have Pepsi. If I was out with someone and they ordered Coke, I might have thrown a glass of water in their face. . . . My wife would say, 'I think you're going crazy -- Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi!'"

He launched three major press campaigns from 1948 to 1951. For the first, he found accomplished African-Americans to profile for a "Leaders in Their Fields" series -- about 20 names in all. The campaign compared the professionals with Pepsi, a "Leader in Its Field." It began in April 1948 with United Nations diplomat Ralph Bunche. That series was complemented in the upstart Ebony magazine by a seven-ad series drawn by award-winning African-American cartoonist Jay Jackson, known for his biting satire of racists and red-baiters. For his third series, Mr. Boyd took a crew to the campuses of black universities to photograph top students enjoying Pepsi.

All the way, they continued to break down color barriers to their careers. Mr. Boyd proudly takes credit for helping open the door to diversity. "It was a contribution to social progress," said Mr. Boyd of his work at Pepsi. "I didn't make that much of a dollar. I wasn't paid on the basis of other executives. It was at the beginning."

However, as the article noted, it wasn't easy. Pepsi's decision to go after the black consumers, based on the assessment that they were missing out on a part of a $10 billion market, was done somewhat quietly, lest they offend some of their white Pepsi drinkers. The team of black employees hired to promote the beverage were not only paid less, but suffered not a few indignities.

If you're interested in reading the whole article, please let me know, and I will make it available to you.

Not so incidentally, the little boy in the graphic was the late Ron Brown, who would grow up to be Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton.

"PEPSI and PEPSI-COLA are registered trademarks of PepsiCo, Inc.", and used with permission.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tons of info at Melissa Data

We've written occasionally about Melissa Data's website before. There is a wealth of data available. Instead of me listing the highlights for you, below is a list of information that is provided by the site. I've broken it down by the level of geography by which data can be found. With respect to providing research for our clients, I find the links for home sales, nonprofit organizations, business credit reports, and income tax returns especially useful.

U.S. Addresses - Verify & correct any U.S. address.
Canadian Addresses - Look up & correct Canadian addresses.
Carrier Routes Radius - Displays the Carrier Routes in a radius around a given street address.
People Finder - Locate anyone anywhere with public records.
Business Credit Report - Comprehensive financials and credit risk facts. Easy-to-read format.

By ZIP Code
Home Sales - Get the monthly home sales and selling price by ZIP Code.
Income Tax Statistics - Income statistics by ZIP Code.
House Numbers by ZIP - Use this address finder if you know the ZIP and the house or building number.
Street Names by ZIP - Find any address nationwide by street name.
Geocoder (Lat/Long) - Get the latitude & longitude for a 5 or 9-digit ZIP Code.
ZIP Codes in a Radius - Get a list of the ZIPs in radius from a center ZIP Code.
ZIP/City/Phone - Get geographic & demographic info related to a ZIP, city or phone.
ZIP Code Demographics - Get demographics linked to any ZIP Code in the U.S.
Climate Averages - Find daily and monthly average temps and rain fall by ZIP Code.
Business Counts by ZIP - Get a list of business counts and SIC codes by ZIP Code.
Carrier Routes by ZIP - Displays Carrier Routes within a map of a 5-digit ZIP Code.
ZIP Code Maps - Displays a map with the boundary of a 5-digit ZIP Code.
Nonprofit Organizations - Get information on nonprofits by ZIP, Name or Tax I.D.
Campaign Contributors - Find contributors to federal campaigns by ZIP Code.
AM, FM & TV Stations - Find broadcast station facilities for location and identification by city, state or ZIP.
Congress Maps - Maps of congressional districts and info on representatives, by state or ZIP.
Nearest Mailing Houses - Find a preferred direct mailer or letter shop in your area, by ZIP Code.
Nearest Post Office - Find closest Post Office that accepts bulk mail, by ZIP Code.

By Area Code
Area Codes in a Radius - Displays a list of Area Code + Prefix combinations in a radius.
ZIP/City/Phone - Get geographic & demographic info related to a ZIP, city or phone.
Phone Numbers - Get location information on an area code or phone number.

By City
Crime Statistics - Get counts of violent crimes for major cities in the U.S.
ZIP/City/Phone - Get geographic & demographic info related to a ZIP, city or phone.
IP Location - Find city, state and country of an IP address worldwide.
U.S. Demographics - Census demographics linked to city, state or county.

U.S. Place
Names - Info on over 1 million places or historical sites in the U.S.
Worldwide Place Names - Info on over 5 million populated or historical sites worldwide.
City Maps - Displays a city or town boundary map and demographics.
County & Place Maps - Displays a county boundary with a selected city or town within.
AM, FM & TV Stations - Find broadcast station facilities for location and identification by city, state or ZIP.

By County
Fatal Vehicle Accidents - Info on number of fatal vehicle accidents by county and state.
U.S. Demographics - Census demographics linked to city, state or county.
County Maps - Displays a county boundary map with cities, towns & roads.
County Subdivisions - Displays boroughs, townships, villages, districts & barrios.
County & Place Maps - Displays a county boundary with a selected city or town within.

By State
Fatal Vehicle Accidents - Info on number of fatal vehicle accidents by county and state.
IP Location - Find city, state and country of an IP address worldwide.
SIC Codes - Get counts of businesses based on type or SIC code by state.
U.S. Demographics - Census demographics linked to city, state or county.
AM, FM & TV Stations - Find broadcast station facilities for location and identification by city, state or ZIP.
Congress Maps - Maps of congressional districts and info on representatives, by state or ZIP.

By School District
School District Maps - Displays public school district boundary maps.
Public Schools - Get information on schools by name, district, or location.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Changes in Information Delivery

In our efforts to convert to a purely digital information distribution library, we created a section on the SBDC website where we'd put large PDF files for you to download. The page was password protected, and the files would only be available for a week or two before being removed.

This method didn't solve the problem of how you get the information to the client. If we can't attach these big files in an e-mail to you, how would you do the same to a client?

Starting this week, we've come up with a new method. Some of you have already seen it happen. Instead, we'll be sending you a link directly to the file. It'll look like this:[filename].pdf

The old method is no longer in place, so don't worry about remembering passwords.

Another plus is that you can forward that link directly to your clients. There won't be an issue with the client seeing files meant for other people, as there was in the old system. Obviously, this solves the problem of how you transmit information to your clients. They can now view, save, and/or print as much of the file as they need.


For the client's benefit - as well as yours - we suggest that you upgrade your version of Adobe Reader to the latest version (8.0). It's free, and it's painless. We suggest this because we're creating PDF files on our end, using the latest version of Adobe Standard. With it, we can attach additional files to a PDF (like business lists, or sample business plans from Business Plan Pro). Some older versions of Adobe Reader won't detect these attachments. The new version will.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Green Business

More and more we are hearing ads from established companies touting their "green" efforts. lately Hannaford has been running ads about how they are environmentally responsible and we've all heard a lot about what Walmart is doing to improve it's reputation. Here are couple of sites that offer businesses some advice on getting with the program...

Greening Your Business: A Primer for Smaller Companies

"This GreenBiz Essential offers tips and resources for small and mid-sized companies, though many larger firms likely will benefit, too. The links in this document are culled from the more than 2,000 resources found on"

October 16, 2006
Greening Your Business
Business Week Online
Tip of the day

Sustainable Business Reference Library

"Join in the Fun! Wouldn't you rather get your energy from clean solar or wind sources than dirty oil? Of course you would! Wouldn't you rather feed the world on food that hasn't been doused in disease-causing chemicals? A no-brainer! We are the future of business: organic products, renewable energy, green building, recycled products. Isn't it about time? "

This site aimed at business owners offers the following sections:

Sustainable Business Insider - an online trade magazine
Green Dream Jobs - job site
Progressive Investor - a monthly newsletter
Business Connections - a networking service
Events Calendar - "sustainability-oriented conferences"
Resource Directory - web sites, databases and resources