Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movie Data

You probably know the Motion Picture Association of America, if at all, as the folks who administer the movie ratings. True enough, but it also collects a lot of statistics as well. They include:

2006 U.S. Theatrical Market Statistics
A summary of 2006’s theatrical performance, looking at box office trends, admissions trends and consumer attitudes.

US Theatrical Snapshot
A brief summary of the domestic box office, admission and screen count trends, including the top five grossing films domestically.

International Theatrical Snapshot
A brief summary of international box office and admission trends by region for the past four years, includes the top five grossing films worldwide.

Movie Attendance Study
An annual study which provides a summary of the demographics of moviegoers and an analysis of the yearly changes in frequent movie attendance.

2005 Piracy Data Summary
A summary of a piracy study conducted by LEK Consulting outlining losses due to piracy, profile of a typical pirate, and a list of worst offending countries.

US Entertainment Industry Market Statistics
Details the domestic performance of the motion picture industry by media, comparing year over year changes and comparisons to historical data.

I find the Entertainment Industry Market Statistics particularly useful, since it also covers home video and DVDs, broadcast and cable television, and PC and Internet usage.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Web & Software Development: A Legal Guide

Josee often tells you about new books added to our collection. Today, I'm going to steal a bit of her thunder (sorry, J!).

We recently obtained an electronic version of the book "Web & Software Development: A Legal Guide". It's published by Nolo, a publisher of self-help legal books for people & businesses (and provider of lots of other titles in our collection). I like the books from Nolo, because they're an honest attempt at boiling down complicated legal issues into terminology that's straightforward. A lot of their titles (like this one) are written by practicing attorneys with practical experience in their chosen specialty.

We bought this book primarily because of a recurring type of request: Is software patentable? And, if it is, is it worth pursuing? I tried researching this question without this book, and the stuff I found was just dense and likely of little use to the client who needed it.

Fortunately, chapter 9 - "Software and Internet Patents" - was a bit of help (though the answer still isn't a simple "yes" or "no").

The book also addresses questions relating to copyright & trademark issues relating to software and website development. So, know that we've got a resource that can at least get at some of the basics behind this still-growing area of the law.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Call for Entries

After reading through Mary's SPD Gazette and seeing what great things the centers are up to, I'd like to reiterate an invitation to send in DVD copies of tv spots, interviews or programs created by the regional centers. We are hoping to collect these materials in the hopes of becoming a depository for materials - printed, electonic or audio-visual for the products of SBDC collective talent. At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, our catalog will be accessible and searchable by the rest of the NY SBDC.
So, if you have materials you've produced that you can share, please do so. At the very least, we can keep a record of what materials are produced around the network and who to contact for a copy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gloria is on tv, and she mentions us!

Want to see your colleagues on TV? Check out these video segments starring David North and Gloria Glowacki from Stony Brook (this link should open one video. There are others on the right, in the "Other videos in BUSINESS Channel" section.)

The videos cover how to start a small business, financing, marketing, franchising, and businesses plans, and many of the services provided by the Small Business Development Center.

And Gloria mentions the Research Network, and our market research services. Thanks Gloria!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taglines

I got an article from the Brand Identity Guru about The Art of the Tagline and Positioning which says, in part:

So how important is a tagline? Well, it briefly represents your brand identity and positioning. If it's off target it hurts you and if you don't have one it hurts you. A tagline can be powerful and actionable.

Let's play a little game. Which taglines do you know and associate with? If you know them and the company they belong to then they've done their job. Does your tagline measure up?
Then their sales pitch. But it's a bit of fun, and maybe you can think of more to suggest to your clients.

Tagline Trivia
What brands are associated with these taglines?

1. You deserve a break today.
2. Be all that you can be.
3. Just do it.
4. It's the real thing.
5. Where's the beef?
6. It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.
7. We try harder.
8. Oh, what a feeling
9. You've come a long way, baby.
10. Mmm mmm good
11. It's where you want to be.
12. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
13. Don't leave home without it.
14. A different kind of company. A different kind of car.
15. The Uncola.
16. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
17. When you care enough to send the very best.
18. Have it your way at �.
19. All the News That's Fit to Print.
20. Put a tiger in your tank.
21. Snap! Crackle! Pop!
22. We bring good things to life.
23. It's not just a job; it's an adventure.
24. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.
25. Nothing beats a great pair of �.

Answers:

1. McDonald's
2. U.S. Army
3. Nike
4. Coca-Cola
5. Wendy's
6. Perdue
7. Avis
8. Toyota
9. Virginia Slims
10. Campbell's
11. VISA
12. Timex
13. American Express
14. Saturn
15. 7-Up
16. M&Ms
17. Hallmark
18. Burger King
19. The New York Times
20. Esso
21. Rice Crispies
22. GE
23. U.S. Navy
24. ABC's Wide World of Sports
25. Leggs


How did you do?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yoo Hoo! Over Here...

"If you want to get a VC's attention, you need to make a stronger statement than that. Here's how."
By Guy Kawasaki
Entrepreneur Magazine
July 2007

Recently I have pointed out an article by Guy Kawasaki on how not to approach a venture capitalist. In the July issue of Entrepreneur Magazine he now goes into what a business ought to do when looking for venture capital. The article is here, but these are the highlights:
"An entrepreneur seeking venture capital can feel like a knight on horseback, looking longingly across the moat at the gleaming spires of the VC's "castle" beyond. How do you bridge that gap and actually get inside the castle walls, where the money is? Here, my shortlist of tips to get a venture capitalist's attention":

1. Get an introduction by a partner-level lawyer. (for connections)

2. If you're in tech, get an introduction by a professor of engineering. (for connections)

3. Get an introduction by the founder of a company in the venture capitalist's portfolio. (check out networking sites to see who else is in their portfolio)

4. Show success. (sing your own praises)

5. Make sure your company is in the right space. (choose who you approach carefully)

6. Send a short e-mail. The ideal length is three or four paragraphs, and make sure it covers these points:
What your company does
What problem you are solving
What's special about your technology/marketing/expertise/connections
Who you are


""Empower entrepreneurs" is Guy Kawasaki's mantra. He is former chief evangelist for Apple Inc., co-founder of VC firm Garage Technology Ventures and author of eight books--most recently, The Art of the Start. Visit his blog at http://blog.guykawasaki.com."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Blogging About Blogging

When I’m not sure what to blog about, I read blogs to get ideas. Today I went to Stephen’s Lighthouse (by super-librarian Stephen Abram), and found a link to another blog posting, about, well, blogging.

This posting, “55 Essential Articles Every Serious Blogger Should Read” from the Entrepreneurial Blog of Matt Huggins, highlights articles and, of course, blog postings, that provide useful information to bloggers. Topics include getting started, creating content, increasing traffic, and making money.

Helpful stuff. This blogger intends to take a closer look, and maybe your clients who are bloggers or would-be bloggers could benefit too…

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Entrepreneurship Myths/Misconceptions

Here's something I got from Heather Robinette, Business Consultant at UALR Arkansas Small Business Development Center a few years back:

I will receive free money or loans because I am a minority, woman, veteran, or ex-convict.
I’ll get rich quick and won’t have to ‘put up’ with people.
I will be my own boss, be free to do whatever I want, and no one will tell me what to do.
I will work less and be able to have more free time if I am an owner versus an employee.
It doesn’t matter what my family thinks about me going into business.
If I know how to do the work, then I can run the business.
I plan to hire someone to run my business for me.
If I build it, they will come. Whenever I turn the key on the door, there will be a line of people waiting to buy my products.
I know my idea will work because my friends and family thought it was a great idea.
I don’t need to write a business plan because I have contracts with my customers.
There is no competition in my area.
The lack of a product or service in an area is the most important indicator of a need for it.
The way to succeed is to have the lowest prices in town.
This restaurant I’m buying did poorly because the owner’s prices were too high. I’ll just lower prices and be more successful.
Incorporating my business will protect me from all liability.
Advertising is a good place to start when cutting expenses.
If I attend a tax education seminar, the IRS will audit my return.
If I attend an environmental management seminar, DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) will visit me.
If I attend an OSHA seminar, I will be visited.
I do not have to put any money down if I borrow from a bank.
There is no way I am going to put my house at risk by using it as collateral for a loan.
I am buying a successful business, so the bank will only look at the profitability of the existing business and not at my credit or experience.
If I don’t pay the payroll taxes I can just declare bankruptcy and they will go away.
I have to be a risk-taker to be an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are born, not made.
Entrepreneurs need an invention.

If they still want to start that business, they should take a look at the articles at StartUp Junkies.org.

Monday, July 16, 2007

IRS e-Newsletter

Even though I'm an information guy by trade, I'm sometimes the last to learn about new resources. I was flipping through a print newsletter that we get from the Georgia SBDC, and it had on the front page an article that looks useful:

"The IRS has started a news service, e-News for Small Business. Distributed every Wednesday, it brings timely, useful tax information right to your computer, including, but not limited to:
* Important, upcoming tax dates
* What's new on the IRS web site
* Reminders and tips to assist businesses with tax compliance
*IRS news releases and special IRS announcements

e-News' convenient format will put IRS tax information at your fingertips. "Useful Links" brings you quickly to some of the most useful information on IRS.gov for large and small businesses and the self-employed.

To start your FREE subscription to e-News, just go to IRS.gov, type in your e-mail address and submit."

And if you didn't hear it here first, then my apologies.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Doing Business: Benchmarking Business Regulations

This World Bank site offers a picture of the regulatory costs of doing business.

You can look at a map decorated with different colored flags to indicate the level of difficulty of doing business there - ranking issues like starting a business, obtaining licenses, employing workers, registering property, paying taxes and closing a business.

For instance, the US ranks as number 3 for ease/difficulty of starting a business, with a 22 for obtaining licenses and a 6 for enforcing contracts. Taiwan ranks in at 62 for enforcing contracts and 148 for obtaining licenses.

The Dealing with Licenses Report totals up the number of procedures and days to producing a license; the Trading Across Borders has a summary of number documents needed for export, cost to export per container.

Singapore tops the chart for ease of starting a business, followed by New Zealand, United States, Canada and Hong Kong.
The site also offers a tidy summary for each country like this one for Denmark.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Business Advice Column

We've added a new feature to the NYS SBDC home page! I mentioned having a "Business Advice Column" when the site revision first came out, but due to lack of content, it hadn't happened. Until now.

So thanks to Doug Boyce and the folks in Mid-Hudson for sharing their articles with Mary, and through Mary, me.

If you have any pieces that would fit in this space, please send them along. Items that haven't been published or have no copyright relationship with a newspaper or publisher would be especially welcome.

I'm planning to change articles every two weeks or so, and articles will be archived here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I-9s for independent contractors

A question we were asked recently: Does a business need to get I-9 forms (employment eligibility verification) from its independent contractors? My answer: No. And yes.
No, it’s not required of them, but if someone, say Wal-Mart, had a bunch of illegal immigrants working 60-hour weeks with no overtime on their behalf, that would look bad for Wal-Mart. Wait, that DID happen.

From this law site: The government is looking beyond the mere labels of "independent contractor" to see if the employer had knowledge of its contractors' practices. In this type of environment, prudent employers who do not want to be the target of a federal investigation or prosecution will review their immigration law compliance efforts and make sure that they, and their executives, are not aware of violations by their contractors...
At a minimum, require your contractors to furnish you with copies of Forms I-9 and supporting documentation for the workers they bring onto your site.

From this legal site: An employer may not knowingly use an independent contractor to obtain the services of unauthorized alien workers. If an employer has knowledge that the contractor uses such workers, the employer will also be liable for an I-9 violation.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Librarians are Cool

Of course, you knew that already.

The rest of the world needed reminding, though, and I'm happy to report that our diligent public relations campaign is paying off. Two articles appeared this past week, focusing on how the newer generation of librarians believe that the skills necessary to bring people & information together in this digital age ought to mean that the musty old librarian stereotypes should fall by the wayside.

I'm wholly in favor of that (though I'm hardly a "new generation" librarian . . . I'm young at heart).

Check them out here:

For New-Look Librarians, Head to Brooklyn (New York Sun - July 5, 2007)
A Hipper Crowd of Shushers (New York Times - July 8, 2007 - registration required)

(By the way, our library doesn't use the Dewey Decimal System [we're a Library of Congress shop]. If you hung out with any of us in Ithaca, though, you'd know that we're still pretty snappy when it comes to classifying beverages from the bar!)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Minority and Women's Business Development Certification

A couple years ago, someone from Empire State Development came to our offices, asking us to help them in the process of getting businesses certified as minority- and/or women-owned. Someone (probably me) asked what the turnaround was, and we were told it was 8 to 10 months. Yikes.

At the NYS SBDC staff training a couple months ago, the same question came up, and we heard that the processing time was half the time it used to be, with even more improvements expected, thanks to the efforts of the Lieutenant Governor's office.

Here's the application. The things I found most encouraging is the fact that applications from other entities, such as Port Authority, are now being accepted by ESD.

Here's the applicable legislation and a website with more information.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Helpful Websites for Client-Authors

The two questions that our author-clients frequently ask the most are, "What publishers specialize in my subject area?", and "Where can I find an agent?"

For the first question, I recommend visiting AcqWeb's Directory of Publishers and Vendors. Note especially the section titled "Publisher Web Sites: Subject Directory". By clicking on any of these broad categories, you'll be led to a page that links to the websites of several dozen publishers.

For the second question, here's the text to an email I sent to an advisor last April. It's still accurate:

"As for literary agents, I'll point you towards another website, here:
http://www.writers.net/agents.html

This site is more than just a searchable directory, though. Note the articles that appear on the right-hand side. They seem to be written by authors who've gone through the process, and have a lot of practical advice. (The first one - Gary Kessler's "Finding a Good Agent or Publisher" - is especially good, and quotes 15% as a standard fee paid to a literary agent.)
Another of these articles referred budding authors to a site called Literary Agent Research and Evaluation, here:
http://www.agentresearch.com/

It's a fee-based service, but might be one worth a look."