Friday, April 30, 2010

Overstock.com Offers Business Owners an Option

I found out about an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune that talks about a plan hatched by Overstock.com called the "Main Street Revolution Initiative". The first paragraph reads:

"Small and minority-owned businesses have a chance to expand product sales through a partnership with Overstock.com, the Salt Lake City-based online discount retailer."

Here's the page on Overstock's website, promoting the program:

As you'll notice on this site, the company says that the program "is designed to increase the visibility of small and minority-owned businesses which currently lack exposure to national markets. By joining our network these small businesses can reduce their supply chain costs, and open their products to a mass audience."

More information is posted there. Anyone out there tapped into this yet?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting Published: Guidance for Authors

Lately we’ve had a bunch of questions from clients who are authors or aspiring authors. Here are some resources related to publishing your work.

If you are hoping to get the attention of the publishing houses, you may need a literary agent.

Search for an agent here:

Agent Query describes itself as the “the internet’s largest and most current database of literary agents.” Search by keyword, nonfiction or fiction genre, and you’ll get lots of results.

Not sure if you need an agent or need help choosing one?

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America offers a helpful article and resources on literary agents in their “Writers Beware” web pages.

Harold Underdown (author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books) also has a nice piece on “Finding and Choosing Literary Agents

We’ve also just purchased a copy of the 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market which is full of helpful guidance and lists of agents and publishers, etc.

Decide to forgo traditional publishing and self-publish? Search for articles about self-publishing at the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Fed

Federal Reserve statistical releases and historical data have been divided into two pages: Statistics and Historical Data and Surveys and Reports.

Principal Economic Indicators
•Consumer Credit - G.19
•Factors Affecting Reserve Balances - H.4.1
•Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization - G.17
•Money Stock Measures - H.6
Bank Assets and Liabilities
•Aggregate Reserves of Depository Institutions and the Monetary Base - H.3
•Agricultural Finance Databook - E.15
•Assets and Liabilities of Commercial Banks in the U.S. - H.8
•Assets and Liabilities of U.S. Branches and Agencies in Foreign Banks•Charge-Off and Delinquency Rates on Loans and Leases at Commercial Banks
•Insured Commercial Bank Assets and Liabilities, Domestic and Foreign Offices
•Survey of Terms of Business Lending - E.2
Business Finance
•Commercial Paper
•Finance Companies - G.20
•New Security Issues, State and Local Governments
•New Security Issues, U.S. Corporations
•Stock Market, Selected Statistics
Exchange Rates and International Data
•Foreign Exchange Rates -
H.10 weekly, G.5 monthly | annual
•International Summary Statistics
•Securities Holdings and Transactions
•Statistics Reported by Banks in the United States
•Statistics Reported by Nonbanking Enterprises in the United States
Flow of Funds Accounts
•Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States - Z.1
Household Finance
•Consumer Credit - G.19
•Finance Companies - G.20
•Mortgage Debt Outstanding
•Household Debt Service and Financial Obligations Ratios
Industrial Activity
•Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization - G.17
Interest Rates
•Selected Interest Rates - H.15 daily | weekly
Money Stock and Reserve Balances
•Aggregate Reserves of Depository Institutions and the Monetary Base - H.3
•Factors Affecting Reserve Balances - H.4.1
•Money Stock Measures - H.6
Other
•K.8 - Holidays Observed by the Federal Reserve, 2009-2013
•Selected Interest Rates -- Monthly (G.13) - discontinued
•Statistical Release Publications History

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Business Forms

FormNet®

FormNet® is a tool designed to save you the time and expense of creating business documents from scratch. You can download and customize each form according to your needs, and immediately put them to work in your business--all for free.


Areas covered range from Accounting to Human Resources to Office Management to Starting a Business. All free checklists, worksheets, forms and questionnaires.

Earth Day Green Business Guide

The Earth Day Green Business Guide is a document from Business.gov, the official business link to the U.S. Government.

The guide is intended to help "small business owners save money while protecting the environment. From changing a light bulb and using recyclable products to installing energy efficient equipment and systems, every business can make simple changes that save energy costs and natural resources." Small businesses can learn how to:

* Develop an Environmental Management Plan
* Comply with Environmental Regulations
* Develop Green Products
* Market and Grow Your Green Business
* Reuse, Reduce and Recycle Waste
* Explore Green Commuting Options
* Learn about Successful Green Businesses

In addition, the following Small Business Guides also available through Business.gov include special highlights to help you green your business:

* Starting a Green Business - Start an Eco-Friendly Business
* Advertising and Marketing - How to Make Environmental Claims
* Finance - Going Green Makes $ense
* Financing Your Business - Environmental Grants and Loans
* Licenses and Permits - Do You Need an Environmental Permit?
* Taxes - Tax Deductions for Energy Efficiency
* Home Based Businesses - Greening Your Home Office
* Non Profit Organizations - Green Opportunities for Non Profits
* Self-Employment - Run an Eco-Friendly Business

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Patent search sites

Two patent searching sites for any lists of science, law or business resources:

SumoBrain
FreePatentsOnline

Both of the sites are totally free, with powerful search engines, large document collections, and many features that other sites lack, including PDF downloading.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do Green Products Make Us Better People?

Here's an unusual article from the journal Psychological Science that might have no immediate use by any of your clients, but I'm sharing it nonetheless. A study from the University of Toronto argues that certain people, when simply exposed to green products (either in a market, or in advertising), act more altruistically and generously than those who actually buy the same product.

This is an extension of what's known as "priming," whereby consumer behavior can be influenced by exposure to imagery - for instance, seeing the Apple logo inspires creativity in some folks. The authors argue that green products, marketed to promote a higher sense of social responsibility, are meant to inspire within the consumer the motivation to do good works.

Conversely, they also argue that consumers who act on this exposure are the equivalent of the person who runs a 5K, then goes home and eats three Big Macs as a reward for their good work. Through a series of experiments, they noted how participants were more than willing to lie or steal in the immediate wake of buying a green product. See the green product, and feel a boost in your moral self-esteem. Buy it, and you feel like you have moral capital to spend.

I find this stuff fascinating, but, again, I'm not immediately sure of what lesson our business clients could learn from this. Boost security around the store, I guess, if the target market is the green consumer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Environmental and Alternative Energy Information Sources

One of the most useful and interesting publications that I read every month is Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals. Each issue contains guides to the best resources available for different industries, as well as information on how to find certain types of documents (i.e. dissertations) or where to find information on interesting topics (i.e. Dutch Libraries).

The March 2010 issue contained an article titled Environmental and Alternative Energy Information Sources: Part 2: Government Information, Resources, Metasites, and Web Directories. Below is a partial list of the links provided in the article but the entire article is well worth reading and the website above should be checked out.

National Council for Science and the Environments - CRS Reports

Information Bridge: DOE Scientific and Technical Information

DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

US Energy Information Administration

The Library of Congress Science Tracer Bullet Series

Forest Service Research & Development

US Geological Survey's Publications Warehouse

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Federal Government Spending - Who makes what?

FedSpending.org is a database from OMB Watch that is designed to give journalists, analysts, government officials, and regular citizens easy access to information on federal spending. The website tracks government spending, whether it's through contracts for products and services, grants and loans, or other forms of assistance (including Social Security, veterans' benefits, etc.). The data can be as summarized or as detailed as you like - you can even get minute details on each individual government contract transaction.

In the upper left corner of the website, there are three tabs labeled Contracts, Assistance, and Recovery. Select what type of spending you are interested in and click the tab. There are multiple criteria to choose from in basic and advanced search options and though the search was slow, I imagine the database has an extreme amount of data it must search. I clicked on New York State and below is the resulting data on contracts awarded in FY2008.

Competition summary for entire search for fiscal year 2008.

Full and open competition:
$3,675,118,250

Full and open competition, but only one bid:
$738,367,114

Competition after exclusion of sources:
$2,445,928,982

Follow-on contract:
$32,452,159

Not available for competition:
$729,444,334

Not competed:
$4,620,891,272

Unknown:
$423,651,070

Total parent companies for fiscal year 2008:
10,809

Total funding (within this search) for the year:
$12,665,853,182

This total is 2.4% of all awarded dollars for the fiscal year.

2009 Local Housing Market Reports

Every housing market is unique. These Local Market Reports (LMRs) — which reflect data available through 4th Quarter 2009 — provide insights into the fundamentals and direction of the nation's largest metropolitan housing markets. Each downloadable report evaluates a number of factors affecting home prices, including:


•• The health of the local job market
•• Foreclosure rates
•• Housing inventory
•• Debt-to-income and mortgage-servicing-costs-to-income ratios

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Trolling for software

Looking for business or other software? Try Capterra, recommended by a business librarian. You can use the browse feature on the left navigation bar OR search for what you want.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Recovering Economy

Is the recession over? Unfortunately, no. Are certain aspects of the economy improving? YES!

It's Alive! - Consumer spending, the dollar, GDP, and the stock market are all headed higher. The economic story is much more encouraging than it was just one year ago. But that doesn't mean the recovery is complete.

Job Market Brightens as U.S. Payrolls Surge in March - The clouds have parted. After more than two years in which more than eight million jobs were lost, the country’s non-farm payrolls surged in March. Employers added 162,000 jobs last month, and employment numbers in the previous two months were revised upward. Nationwide, the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent. To many ordinary, out-of-work Americans, the recovery may finally start to feel real.

Recession Survival Guide for Small Business - Even the most successful small business will feel the challenges of the rough economic conditions. This guide presents tips, techniques, and experiences from NYS SBDC business advisors, many of whom are small business owners as well. These can be applied to any type or sized business.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Census Data Can Impact Your Business Strategy

April 1 is National Census Day and by now we should all have received, completed, and returned our 2010 Census forms. Because just by answering 10 simple questions, we can all directly affect the quality of life, services, and job creation in our communities. To help ensure communities are counted, the U.S. Census Bureau is asking small businesses to voluntarily raise awareness and advocate the importance of the 2010 Census with its 2010 Census Partner Program.

READ MORE.

DEC's Interactive Maps

If you like maps, I'd recommend checking of the Department of Environmental Conservation's page of Interactive Online Maps.

The DEC offers a variety of mapping tools, including the following:

There are also maps for Chronic Wasting Disease, environmental resources, mineral resources, and environmental facilities.