Friday, August 29, 2008

Free Business Magazines

Business Net, "the go-to place for management", has a section of their website that lists free business magazines for those that qualify. There are hundreds of magazines listed that can be subscribed to for no cost. Since it would take forever to list all of the publications that are available, the categories listed are:

Agriculture
Automotive
Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals
Computers
Construction
Education
Engineering
Executive & Management
Finance
Food & Beverage
Government
Health Care
Human Resources
Industrial & Manufacturing
Internet
Information Technology
IT Data Management
IT Security
IT Software & Development
IT Storage
Insurance
Mechanical/Machine
Meetings & Travel
Multimedia
Network/Communications
Purchasing & Procurement
Retail
Sales & Marketing
Small & Medium Business
Telecom & Wireless
Trade/Professional Services
Transportation & Logistics
Utility & Energy

With such an eclectic selection, there is sure to be a publication for most, if not all, of our clients.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Advertising Opportunities

Like a lot of struggling smaller cities, in our area, we see businesses that have survived severe changes downtown. There is a drive to increase the traffic to downtown areas and convince businesses to locate there over malls. But sometimes, the cityscape doesn't give an accurate picture of what is going on behind closed doors. Walking down the street, so many businesses that appear defunct from the street are actually viable. Now, I know word-of-mouth is great and all, but these businesses could do more to get someone not already familiar with them in the door. Improving signage, cleaning up window displays and generally smartening up their "face" would go a long way to improving business. Developing a unified image may help develop new business. An example of another way to improve a brand identity is with shopping bags. The lastest Entrepreneur Magazine has a short article by Gwen Moran entitled It's in the Bag that looks at how a business can take advantage of eco-friendly trends and get their message across as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blogging for Your SBDC - Roger and Amelia go to Chicago

As some of you know, Roger and I will be presenting at next week's ASBDC conference in Chicago. As part of our presentation, "Blogging for Your SBDC: Implementing Web 2.0 Technologies at Your Center", we've created a page of resources related to blogging and other Web 2.0 stuff. Some of these resources I've blogged about before, but now they are in one place, along with with links to blogs and other 2.0 creations from SBDC centers around the country.

Enjoy:

Blogging for Your SBDC: Resources
(This list is by no means exhaustive, but is designed to give you a few more ideas about how to use Web 2.0 technologies, and how they are being used by other SBDC centers.)

Blogs & Blogging:

40+ Free Blog Hosts from Mashable.com
Trading Links - Any Real Value? by Gail Hornback
Copyright & Fair Use Overview: Website Permissions from Stanford University

Existing SBDC Blogs:
Clarion SBDC (PA) Knowledgebase
Hawai`i Business Research Library News Blog
Coastal Bend SBDC (TX)
Georgia SBDC
North Country SBDC (NY) BizConnect Blog

RSS:

Build a Feed from Virginia’s Community Colleges (turn RSS feed into javascript for html pages)
100 Cool Things You Can do with RSS by Alisa Miller, Accredited Degrees
Choosing an RSS reader, Search Engine Watch

Podcasts:

iTunes - Making a Podcast articles
Audacity – Free Sound Editor and Recorder
How to Create Your Own Podcast - A Step-by-Step Tutorial, About.com

SBDC Podcasts:
Georgia SBDC
Raritan Valley Community College SBDC
Shasta College SBDC
SBA Podcasts (Including several recordings from PA SBDCs)

Twitter:
All a Twitter: Want to Try Microblogging? School Library Journal
Psst! Are you Twittering yet? Federal Computing Weekly

SBDCs on Twitter:
nys_sbdc (NY)
MBowers030 (Ohio)
NorthMetroSBDC (Colorado)

Facebook:

Top 10 Business Applications for Facebook, Duct Tape Marketing
Why You Need to Make a Facebook Fan Page for Your Website Now, Search Engine Journal

SBDCs on Facebook:
Fan Pages:
Greater Louisville
NYS SBDC
Group Pages:
California
LMU Small Business Development Center

Learn and Play:

Links related to various "23 Things" Web 2.0 learning programs, Stephen Abram
Go2Web2.0 - Web 2.0 Sites Directory

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SCORE Template Gallery

When I started working at the SBDC, lo those MANY years ago, there seemed to be this silly internecine fight between the SBDC and SCORE, for a number of reasons.

So when I saw the SCORE Template Gallery described in the J.J. Hill Library blog, I knew I had to share it: "When you're starting a new project, there's nothing more reassuring than a template. For guidance and first steps, you might think of a template as a roadmap."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stay-at-Home Moms

Here's a website called BeyondMotherhood.com, a matchmaking site where employers and stay-at-home mothers can find one another. Founded by Shannon Davis, a stay-at-hom mother herself. The site was created originally to service northern Ohio, but is growing in appeal.

Its existence is predicated on the fact that there is a wealth of employable talent that companies can tap into. It offers a venue where mothers can still utilize their business skills, while finding a schedule that's flexible enough to give them the time they need with their children.

The site appeals to employers by reminding them that stay-at-home mothers are ideal candidates to fill a need on a quarterly, seasonal, or project basis, or who have expertise that is only needed a few times a year. Such women possess the necessary skills, education and experience to do the job, but don't necessarily want to be brought on as full-time staff.

For $75, a company can post a single listing on the site for 30 days. If there are more postings, then that price comes down. This might be a tool useful to some of our clients. Keep it in mind.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dressing for Success

Although the days when a suit and tie were everyday attire for every individual going to work are gone, what you wear to work can still make an impression. Casual business attire and Friday jeans day are still opportunities to prove that you are best man or woman for a raise or promotion. Business Network has compiled a list of articles and videos on What to Wear to Work. According to the article, "whether you work in the most dressed-down computer games company or the most buttoned-up management consultancy, our feature package will help you choose what’s appropriate, what’s not, and what will get you to the top."

Five Rules of Style for the Business-Casual Workplace

Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Look

Dress for Business Success Video

How to Order a Custom-Made Suit

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Books in the Collection

Here are two of our latest additions to the collection with a summary of their contents:

Kid-Focused Businesses (Entrepreneur Magazine's Step-By-Step Startup Guides)
Party Planning
Gift and Bath Products
Educational Toys and Games
Plus Size Clothing
Cooking Classes


Ward's Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures 2008
Documenting the Performance and Impact of the U.S. Auto Industry
Sections include:
Production/Factory Sales
Retail Sales (cars, trucks, top selling, Canada, Mexico and Leasing)
Registrations (Cras and trucks and vehicles retired from use)
Automotive Trade (US Exports and world trade data)
Materials (consumption by material type)
Ownership (Population per vehicle, drivers, thefts)
Transportation Expenditures (inlcudes fuel and licensing taxes)
Travel Trends
Automotive Businesses (Facilities, capacity, profits)
Environment/Regulations (fuel consumption, prices, taxes)
Traffic Fatalities (By state, characteristics, countries)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Make it (and sell it) yourself…

Looking to make and/or sell your own designs? Here are a few resources you might want to know about.

Etsy.com, “your place to buy and sell all things handmade,” has been in the news quite a bit lately. It’s an online marketplace, where artisans can set up their own shop, post an item for 20 cents, and pay a 3.5% commission when it sells. Just about everything you can think to make (and some things you’d never think of) are for sale here, and you can search in some creative ways (like by color.)

Ponoko, “is the world’s first platform for anyone to share, buy and sell product plans to make individualized goods.” Ponoko works in several ways. Designers can create and upload product designs, choose materials, and Ponoko will manufacture and deliver the final product. Or you can design it, and then display it in the Ponoko showroom, and someone else can buy it from you.

Ready to take the plunge to buy only handmade gifts? Check out the Buy Handmade Pledge. You can sign up and say, “I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me.” I know it’s a little early to be thinking of holiday gifts, but for those of us who don’t want to be knitting every spare moment in Decemeber, now’s the time to start planning : )

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Canadian dollars per litre

On a website, I saw a reference to the price of gas as 1.279. Initially, I didn't get it. Then I realized I was on a Canadian website and it was a reference to Canadian dollars per liter. So what is that in US dollars per gallon? And how do I figure it out without having to do two calculations, one for liter to gallon and another for the currency.

Google, of course. To use my example, type: 1.279 CAD per litre in USD per gallon and click "Google Search". When I did it at noon on August 11, the result was "1.27900 (Canadian dollars per litre) = 4.58349234 U.S. dollars per US gallon". By the way, it doesn't matter if you spell it "litre" or "liter".

What you will need is the three-letter code for currency, which you can find several places, including here, one of the sites noted on this website.

More about Google's unit conversions here.

Tip of the cap to Arthur @ AmeriNZ, who mentioned this on his podcast.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Feeling Lucky

This Saturday is the 139th annual Travers Stakes at the Saratoga Racetrack. It's a big deal in these parts. I won't be partaking, though, in the wagering. Vacation has left me a bit short, and, honestly, I'm not much of a handicapper.

However, in honor of the big race, check out the Center for Gaming Research. It's a website designed & operated by (where else?) the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. The site is geared towards three distinct groups of people:

* The academics, for whom a users guide is tailored for researchers of all ages (including us!).
* The media/industry guide helps those in the media and casino industry find the information they need.
* The "just curious" section, which is broad information aimed at those just getting started.

The information available is not just for the state of Nevada, so it's relevant to a blog being written in New York.

Friday, August 15, 2008

See Through New York

A new website has been created by the Empire Center to allow New Yorkers to see how state funds are spent. According to the website, "See Through NY is a web portal -- and more. It's designed to become the hub of a statewide network through which taxpayers can share, analyze and compare data from counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and public authorities throughout New York." The website offers access to state payrolls, contracts, expenditures, and more.

Although lauded by freedom of information individuals and organizations, the site is troublesome to state workers who do not enjoy having their personal salary and contract information open to the world. For more information, click here for an article from The Times Union and here for a blog post from Roger Green.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mobile Shopping

It was only a matter of time before consumers would have the option of shopping via their cell phones. The more you do on your cell phone, the more you expect to do. This story is about Ralph Lauren and how they are making it possible to make purchases from their phone-friendly store via mobile.

Polo Ralph Lauren to launch shopping by cell phone
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=polo-ralph-lauren-to-laun
Scientific American
By Martinne Geller

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sources for Psychographics

Occasionally we'll get a request for psychographics. We have The Lifestyle Market Analyst demographics, which can tell you a lot about popular activities and interests of a metro area, or how those lifestyles overlap (i.e., how many people interested in fashion clothing also care about fine foods?). We also have MOSAIC lifestyle descriptions for determining lifestyle groups by geography from the Demographics Now database.

But for those of you that want more, here's a couple of freebies (thanks to the J.J. Hill blog for pointing them out)

Newspaper Association of America's Consumer Segmentation Snapshots
While there's a focus on newspaper readership, this site offers profiles of different consumer buying groups for finance, technology, buying styles, food/cooking, health, vacation/travel and automotive purchases.

From Claritas (a Nielsen company) - You Are Where You Live
Enter the zip code you are interested in and the "segmentation system defines every neighborhood in the U.S. in terms of 66 distinct lifestyle types." (Note: Clicking on the name of the lifestyle type will explain the group, but once you've seen this page and click the back button, your search will be unavailable. Try opening the lifestyle descriptions in a new window or tab to avoid losing your results..)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Word clouds

I've read about word clouds, a/k/a tag clouds, how they reflect which words are being emphasized in a website/blog or newspaper or any written document. From Tag Crowd here's the one done on July 15, 2008 of the NYS SBDC website:


created at TagCrowd.com


And here's the one for this blog:


created at TagCrowd.com


Other sites that can generate clouds are Wordle and the Tag Cloud Generator.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wake Up! - 12 Rules for a Better Brain

How's your brain feeling today? Right now, at 10:30 in the morning, mine is a bit sluggish. When asked "How are you?" by coworkers first thing in the morning, "tired" is the word I've used the most. No different today.

I need more sleep. A fellow named John Medina would agree. He wrote a book called Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. In it, he puts forth his 12 rules for a better brain.


Most of the rules are pretty obvious: exercise more, eat better, get more sleep. However, he's built a website where he lays out the science behind each of them - how a portion of your brain is physically influenced by external factors. For instance, regular exercise stimulates a part of the brain related to the thalamus, which aids in memory. A lack of sleep hinders your attention span, promotes moodiness, and impacts your logical reasoning. Your brain will better retain new information if exposed to it repeatedly.

And so forth. I find this stuff fascinating (it, uh, provides mental stimulation). If you're at all interested in how people learn, and how customers do what they do, then check out this site. All of these rules are presented in both text & video format (again, repeated exposure to new information helps in learning . . . a tip for website designers).

Best of all, the author is a strong advocate of never scheduling meetings around the 3:00 hour, but instead believes we all ought to take a brief siesta to re-charge ourselves. I've been lobbying for that around here for years!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Federal Minimum Wage Increase

As of July 24th, the minimum wage has been raised to $6.55. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 required three minimum wage hikes over a three-year period, with the final increase going into effect July 24th, 2009. This summer also marks the 70th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 - 2007

Minimum Wage Laws in Individual States

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Feedback Model

I have suggested the language podcasts on iTunes. They also have business podcasts on various issues. I've been listening to one called How to Give Feedback About Attire on Manager Tools by Michael Auzenne and Mark Horstman. It's free and you can also get it from their website.
One of the sessions I listened to was about talking to employees about dress codes. It is interesting and talks to this team's approach to managing employees in general. For the purposes of this topic they discuss the ways managers talk to employees - making judgements versus offering feedback on employee behavior with an explanation of impacts. In this scenario, not criticizing clothes specifically, but talking to the choices employees make and how to separate the person from the behavior. They describe situations where a dress code is too specific and tries to codify clothes. The difficulty is where a person is not breaking rules but is making choices that creates less than positive results. The model works in most scenarios.

Feedback Model
The object is not to focus on the past - what is right or wrong but to focus on desired future behavior.

They urge managers to talk to directs - If you want to change performance, change behavior. Delegating to others can backfire by not having the conversations happen in the best way and may end up aggravating an already upsetting situation.

4 steps to the feedback model

1. Ask: can I give you some feedback?
2. When you... describe behavior/statement of fact, without judgement
3. Describe impacts (A/B/C)
4. Offer positive or negative feedback

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New venture capital resource

We have several resources related to venture capital at our disposal at the Research Network. Here's a new one I saw on the ResourceShelf blog. It's the Venture Capital Database .

As described on by Alain Sherter on TheDeal.com:

"The database, which lists information on 492 VC firms and nearly 6,800 venture investors worldwide, is based on information from the National Venture Capital Association, supplemented by Winn's own entries. It provides links to firms' Web sites, email addresses, locations and investment parameters, including assets under management and minimum and maximum investment. In a nice touch, VCDB displays firms in Google Maps, which gives entrepreneurs an idea of their proximity to investors. Even more useful, it provides biographical info on individual VCs, along with links to their blogs, if they have one. The database is searchable by firm and VC, location, investment size and alma mater."

Worth checking out? Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Small business certification

I've gotten this question a couple times now this summer, so I thought I ought to address it here.

Q: There are women-owned certification programs, minority-owned certification programs, and small business disadvantaged certification programs,, such as 8(a). Is there a small business certification program? If not, how do those programs that require small businesses fill them?

A: According to my sources - the SBA and a very nice woman at the NFIB - there is no small business certification as such, as there are women, minority and small disadvantaged programs.

Wait, you say, so how do they get SB for contracts, etc.? They assume they are telling the truth, but then require documentation (payroll records, tax records, etc.) to make sure. Trust but verify.

BTW, it’s the same for veterans – no certification, but one will need to bring in the documentation at some point.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Joining the Family Business

In today's online Wall Street Journal there's a brief article titled "Wait to Work for Family". We sometimes get inquiries regarding succession planning from small business owners who, upon retirement, hope to keep things in the family. This article suggests that grown children are likely more effective - and more confident in their decision-making - if they don't join the business right out of school. It's obvious - small businesses kept in the family stand a better chance of survival if the next generation is as motivated as those who founded it.