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Showing posts from February, 2010

What Comes Next? - Post-recession Advice

Every business owner knows that during a recession, it is difficult for any business to maintain previous levels of income. But after a recession ends, how does a company bounce back? Below are some articles that offer tips and success stories that will help your business exit the recession prepared for the turn around.

9% of Companies Emerge from the Recession Stronger - Here's How (BNET - Harvard Business)

How to Reach an Audience Forever Changed by the Recession (Chief Marketer)

Build a Better Facebook Page

It’s all well and good to talk about the best business uses of Facebook and the best strategies for creating Facebook Fan Pages. But pictures and examples are worth a thousand words.

That’s why this piece from Mashable is particularly helpful:
5 Fantastic Facebook Fan Page Ideas to Learn From

Some tips:

You can have a great looking fan page, but your fans are still going to want to DO something. Good example: Gap’s Baby Gap tab encourages parents to post pictures of their Gap-clad tykes.

Remember that fans want to get something useful from your Page. You can customize your landing page to spell out the reasons to become a fan (like prizes!), just like Walgreens.

If you’re not sure how to build a custom landing page for your Fan page, just follow the links to this article, How to Build a Facebook Landing Page for Your Business.

Are You Cut Out to Be an Entrepreneur?

Take The Test.

Twenty questions you need to ask yourself. Developed by Babson College professor Daniel Isenberg, this piece is from The View from Harvard Business.
***
This is rather entrepreneurial: Caring for Pets Left Behind by the Rapture
For a fee, this service will place your dog or cat in the home of a caring atheist on Judgment Day. By Mike Di Paola, Bloomburg Business Week

Many people in the U.S.—perhaps 20 million to 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by the Rapture. In this event, they say, the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth. But what will become of all the pets?

Bart Centre, 61, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, says many people are troubled by this question, and he wants to help. He started a service called Eternal Earth-Bound Pets that promises to rescue and care for animals left behind by the saved.


(Hat tip to Steve Bissette.)

Source Guide for Renewable Energy

If you are a business in the renewable energy industry or your business has been looking for renewable energy company, then I suggest you bookmark The Source for Renewable Energy, "a comprehensive buyers guide and business directory to more than 16,000 renewable energy businesses and organizations worldwide".

There are many different types of renewable energy businesses that have no clear NAICS or SIC code yet. With no clear classification code, it is difficult to create business lists using our business directory databases. The Source for Renewable Energy allows searchers to "locate renewable energy businesses by geographic location, by product type, by business type and by name, or search for renewable energy businesses using keywords". For example, I could create a list of US Electric Vehicle Battery Manufacturers, a list of US Renewable Energy Trade Associations by Business Name, or a list of Ocean Energy System Component Businesses in the World. As yet, I have…

Beware Health Insurance Scams

I still get faxes, a technology that I'd given up for dead. Mind you, most of these are "blast" faxes, promoting fabulous six-day cruises, or great breaks on group health insurance. (In response to this sentence, we'll now likely get "blast" email comments.)
Surely, I'm not alone, and this recent article from National Underwriter proves that. It quotes extensively from recent comments made by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, stating that small businesses, self-employed individuals, and recently-uninsured people are targeted by plans that prove to be ineffective or worthless.
Periods of high unemployment are especially vulnerable times for those in need, making these scams even more reprehensible.
A money quote:
"Typically, the Coalition said, bogus plans promise full health coverage, affordable premiums, and easy signup regardless of preexisting conditions. Victims often must join a fake trade association or union. This ploy, it was explai…

The Microbusiness Research Institute (MRI)

The Microbusiness Research Institute (MRI)is an organization dedicated to examining the realities and challenges facing the smallest businesses.
"Over eighty percent of the growth in the number of businesses in the United States between 1992 and 2002 came from a surge in the number of microbusinesses (firms with fewer than five employees). Right now, more than nine in ten U.S. firms are microbusinesses."
There are white papers available on the site including one called Microbusiness and the Human Economy There is also a Profile of Microbusiness.

Liquor licenses

Looking for licensed purveyors of alcohol in New York State? I found my Reference USA search for wholesalers surprisingly unsatisfactory. Then I went to the source, the New York State Liquor Authority's web page. Specifically, the Public Query System is quite useful.

One can search by:
premises name or the trade name.
license serial number.
location of the premises.
name of the principal for the license.

One can also use the Advance Search
Find a license according to the City, County, Zip Code, Dates, License Category (on-premise, off-premise, wholesale) and License Status. You may also download the search results, though I had more luck with the Excel than the text, which formatted strangely.

A peculiarity in the system, though, is that out-of-state registrants all show up in the records for Albany County. Thus, the 690 cureent wholesale records are not actually applicable to Albany County.

Appliance swap out - Save energy & money

My washing machine died around the holidays. Thanks to my procrastination and the laundromat around the corning, I managed to go hold out on buying a new one until this Saturday. Good timing, Amelia! Buying a new energy efficient machine this weekend made me eligible for New York's Great Appliance Swap Out, New York's energy-efficient appliance rebate program.

If you're thinking about buying an ENERGY STAR refrigerator, freezer or washer there's still time to apply for the rebate. The program runs until February 21st, and according to the website, there's still more than $12,000,000 in remaining funds.

If you're planning to recycle your older model, you could get $105 for a refrigerator, $75 for a freezer or $100 for a washer. If you need a refrigerator, washer and dishwasher you can get a bundled package and save $555.

Operation: Start Up and Grow 2010

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The SBDC at Onondaga, along with the Syracuse District SBA is presenting Operation: Start Up and Grow on Thursday, March 18 in Syracuse, NY. This is a resource day for veterans and has been a very successful event in the past. The SBDC and SBA have received a lot of good feedback from veterans who attended this event.


This all day event, is at no-cost to veterans, and includes breakfast and lunch.

Please feel free to pass the information on to any veteran that may be interested in attending.

Obama Outlines Latest in a Series of New Small Business Proposals

from the THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary, via the SBA Press Office

President Obama Outlines Latest in a Series of New Small Business Proposals
Successful SBA programs expanded to increase working capital, help
businesses refinance

WASHINGTON – Friday, February 5, in Lanham, Maryland, President Obama proposed the
expansion of two critical Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs, aimed at allowing small businesses to refinance and increasing limits for working capital. These are both legislative proposals designed to help small businesses through what continues to be a difficult period in credit markets.

President Obama said, “The true engine of job creation will always be businesses. What government can do is fuel that engine: by giving entrepreneurs and companies the support to open their doors, expand, and hire more workers. Today, we're taking another step towards assisting small business owners get the capital they need to grow and hire.”

SBA Administrator K…

The Most Common Passwords of All Time

For some reason, I have always thought that a password should be super-secretive and only understood by a few select individuals. When I first heard in a movie that the four most common passwords were "God", "Love", "Sex, and "Power" (which the below articles do not list as the four most common), I thought that those 4 words were very poorly-chosen passwords. Later, I learned that weak passwords involve many elements, including a lack of variation in capitalization or not using numbers and/or symbols. The below articles let you know what the weakest passwords you could pick are and how to make sure your password isn't easy to figure out.

Top 20 most common passwords of all time revealed: ‘123456,’ ‘princess,’ ‘qwerty’

The top 500 worst passwords of all time

If you find your password on one of these lists, I highly recommend changing it.

Recalls

In view of recent news, here is a useful site sent to me by a friend: www.recalls.gov
Here you can look up recalls by class of product and see if you have anything to worry about. You can also search by agency, as well as simply read about recent recalls. It's most useful if you have a product in mind, since there are about a million products say, in the medical category that would never apply to the lay person. So rather than wade through everything, you can type in the product to see what comes up.

Answering questions on the fly in Twitter

Next time you have a tax question, consider going to Twitter for the answer.

TurboTax now has a group of folks on Twitter, prepared to answer tax questions on the fly.

You can read more abou their set-up here:
http://mashable.com/2010/02/01/turbotax-twitter/

Or just go straight to the source and their Twitter feed here:
http://twitter.com/teamturbotax

To see the questions they are answering, click on any of the @username links in the answers.

Will they be able to keep up with the questions as the tax deadlines approach? It’s hard to tell. Still, it’s a good example of a useful service application for Twitter. Do you know any small businesses that might be able to create goodwill with their customers (or SBDC clients?) by answering their questions on Twitter?

Survey customers without invading their privacy

Though it may feel as though it is a losing battle, concerns about privacy permeate the national dialogue, from fears about identity theft to potential TSA full-body scans at airports.

For many businesses, engaging in customer research can mean walking a fine line between gathering vital information for you and intruding on the customer's privacy.
It's a tough nut. You need to know who your customers really are and the reasons behind their buying decisions. But crossing the line to find out too much can be downright perilous.


Here are seven tips.