For a business owner, obtaining the right information is as important as finding the right location, or getting the best price.
The Small Business Development Center in New York is one of only a few SBDCs in the U.S. with a full-time library (which we call the Research Network). Its services are available for free, but only to New York SBDC clients.
If you have a regular need for the forms issued by the SBA (or any other Federal government agency), then bookmark the Federal Forms Catalog at Forms.gov. Note in the left-hand margin, under the heading "Frequently Used Forms," that there's a link titled "Small Business Forms". All of them emanate from SBA. All of the links lead to a PDF version of the form, many of which can be filled out online.
Elsewhere, I can envision how quick access to IRS forms would be useful to certain clients as well.
I took a quick spin around SBA's website, but couldn't readily find a link there to the forms they've issued. Keep it handy.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about a Wall Street Journal piece about the history of the necktie, and how changing rules about business attire have affected that industry.
Here's another change in business etiquette. The handshake may not be in any danger, but according to this USA Today article, the fist bump is making in-roads with the younger set (and presidential candidates):
A new search engine, Cuil - pronounced "cool" - started today. You can read all about its claims of being "better than Google" here and here, among many other places. Apparently, it was having start-up jityters, as one person indicated that one couldn't access it at all fotr a time.
But I got through and tried New York State Small Business Development Center; it actually suggested the whole name after I had typed New York State Sm
My result: We didn’t find any results for "New York State Small Business Development Center" Some reasons might be...
a typo. Please check your spelling. your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute. too many search terms. Please try fewer terms. Finally, try to think of different words to describe your search.
It’s the first item on Google. Meh.
And as a matter of vanity, I cuiled my blogs and they showed on the 7th page, while they're on the first page on Google.
With gas prices rising and the economy worsening, companies are trying to find solutions for the strain that businesses and employees are feeling. The article Should We Embrace the Four-Day Workweek provides a solution to alleviate employee stress while also benefiting the company. The article points out that a Community College in Florida converted to four-day workweek and saved over $200,000 on energy costs for the summer while also reducing sick leave usage by 50% and turnover by 44%.
I am reading about enneagrams which seem to be a Myers Briggs-type personality type system. I was pointed to the book: The Nine Ways of Working by Michael J. Goldberg which looks at how people can work better if they understand the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and how we function.
This made me wonder what an enneagram was and came across the following descriptions as well as a brief test to see what type I might be. So, if nothing else, you feel like entertaining yourself, check out these sites:
I'm not a fan of business meetings. My wife works for a company that seems to revel in them. Sometimes, entire days go by where she does nothing but shuttle from one conference room to another.
I don't hide my dismay. I prefer meetings that focus on a single thing, and then be part of an engaged group of people who share their opinions and reach some kind of consensus. It's a rare thing, but it is possible. (For instance, it's how we developed our presentation for this past year's staff training event.)
I don't call many staff meetings (I like to think I communicate directly). However, I recognize that this is just the opposite extreme from how my wife's company works. There ought to be a middle ground.
This is why I found this article so interesting. It ran in last Sunday's New York Times, and contains eminently practical suggestions for making meetings more efficient, and more useful to the time of everyone involved. I'm going to print it out, and ke…
The Urban Institute has just released a new report addressing the job market for the baby boomer generation. Will Employers Want Aging Boomers? discusses the fastest-growing occupations for those over 55 and the types of skills employers will be looking for in this working population.
From the report's abstract: "Boomers will probably want to work longer than earlier cohorts, but their continued work requires that employers hire and retain them. Employers value older workers for their maturity, experience and work ethic, but worry about out of date skills and high costs. Slower overall labor supply growth will increase demand for older workers and occupations with higher shares of older workers will increase modestly as a share of all jobs. Future jobs will require less physical demands and more cognitive and interpersonal skills, trends that favor educated older workers, but job opportunities for less educated older workers may remain limited."
Advocacy funded, U.S. Census Bureau Statistics of U.S. Businesses dynamic data has been updated to 2005. The data contains firm/establishment births, deaths, and related employment creation and destruction data by firm size, industry, and geographic location.
From 2004 to 2005, firm births numbered 644,122 and deaths numbered 565,745. Firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 78.9 percent of the net employment growth during this period. See the dynamic data sections of http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/data.html for details.
While trying to figure out an idea on what to blog about today, I stumbled across the article Business Books for the Beach. A list of books that entrepreneurs are reading this summer, I thought that it would be the perfect article to highlight on a Friday afternoon with 90+ degree weather across the state. It is a rather short list, so other business book lists are available here and here.
I learned on a listserv this week the existence of ReBrand.com. It is a consulting firm that assists businesses in trying to overhaul the image of a brand in the mind of a consumer (and I'm sure that greatly simplifies the scope of their services).
What I like about the site is their annual list of top rebranding efforts. Here's their top 100 for 2008. This is a list of efforts by a variety of rebranding & marketing companies, so it's not limited to just them.
The name of each company brand is linked to their full story. In most cases, you'll see images of marketing efforts used in the rebranding process. At the bottom of each page is some narrative that outlines the challenges the brand faced, and how they were overcome.
(And, for a shamless local plug, check out the story of Brown's Brewing Company [the second listing underneath the "Best of Awards" heading]. It's in Troy, about 10 miles from where I'm typing this. Given that it's Friday af…
We like to think and plan here at the Research Network, but one of our newer mottoes (thanks Nike), is "Just do it." We have lots of good ideas, but they could just sit around forever as we build consensus. Sometimes it's better just to take action, and if its not the right action, you can fix it later.
Here's some more evidence for the "just do it" camp-
Trulia is a "real estate search engine that includes demographic information," according to the Albany Times Union's Chris Churchill.
The fascinating but slightly spooky Google Maps, street view "allows you to take virtual...tours of about 30 U.S. metropolitan areas," including Albany and Buffalo. One of the pictures of my house was either taken on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, based on the location of the garbage cans.
With gas prices continuing to rise with no end in sight and unemployment rates slowly rising due to the worsening economy, now would be the perfect time to get a "work from home" job. Unfortunately, the majority of "work from home" jobs are scams to make money off of people who don't have the money to spare. To find legitimate "work from home" business opportunities that are available, you just need to know where to look. Here are a few of the sites that can help.
- bbbonline.org – Click on "For Consumers" when you want to research a specific business opportunity. - WomenForHire.com - Offers resources and ideas on working from home. - FTC.gov - Type "work at home" in search box for good and bad business opportunities, as well as information on how find a legitimate business.
Today's New York Times features an article called "Small Business is Latest Focus in Health Fight". It focuses on the efforts of individual states around the U.S. in helping small business employers to provide health care to their workers. (New York isn't mentioned by name, though.)
Two sentences jumped out at me:
1) "Of the 47 million uninsured people in this country, at least 20 million are employed by small businesses or work for themselves — a figure that has increased by an average of more than 500,000 a year since 2000."
2) "State laws now typically make it impossible for businesses to cross state lines to create their own purchasing pools, and small companies have had little success to date in being able to band together in sufficient numbers within state borders."
Regarding the latter, Federal legislation has been introduced that would ease restrictions on small business' forming pools, even across state lines.
You may have come across articles celebrating this very old-school business as an example of extreme customer service success. Dabbawallas are tiffin-meal delivery men in India and have a remarkable success rate for accurate delivery of hot meals. Now, the business journals are looking at this human-driven, personalized service model with interest.
"A new national survey reveals that a startling number of small businesses remain unprepared to face a potential disaster, be that a hurricane, tornado, wildfire or computer virus, and the majority of these businesses have no plans to change. Commissioned by Office Depot, the survey of small businesses shows 40 percent admit they are not ready for a disaster and one-third indicate having no current plans to get prepared."
We'll get inquiries once in a while on finding contact information for school districts around the state. For years, we'd rely on a database generated by the State Education Department that was a bit cumbersome to navigate.
There is a future of droughts and downpours for the U.S.A., according to the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. The specific report is here with the press release here.