City-Data.com is a useful website that has collected and analyzed data from numerous sources to create as complete and interesting profiles of all U.S. cities as possible. The website has over 74,000 city photos not found anywhere else, graphs of latest real estate prices and sales trends, recent home sales, home value estimator, hundreds of thousands of maps, satellite photos, stats about residents (race, income, ancestries, education, employment...), geographical data, state profiles, crime data, registered sex offenders, cost of living, housing, religions, businesses, local news links based on their exclusive technology, birthplaces of famous people, political contributions, city government finances and employment, weather, tornadoes, earthquakes, hospitals, schools, libraries, houses, airports, radio and TV stations, zip codes, area codes, air pollution, latest unemployment data, time zones, water systems and their health and monitoring violations, comparisons to averages, local poverty details, professionally written city guides, car accidents, fires, bridge conditions, cell phone and other towers, mortgage data, business storefront photos, a forum and a social network with 800,000 registered members and 12,000,000 posts, blogs, 5,000 user-submitted facts, 20,000 exclusive local business profiles with photos, restaurant inspection results, and more demographics. If you ever need to research any city, zip code, or neighborhood to start a business, this is an excellent site to visit.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I've been checking out the blog put out by WorkingPoint, an "online, small business solution." They have been putting out some interesting articles such as Essential Ingredients for Small Business Success and 19 Ways to Drive a Steady Stream of Traffic to Your Website. It's fun site - periodically, you'll come across the Botpreneur, who is ready for (business) action.
WorkingPoint offers free invoicing, bill & expense management and bookkeeping, with additional services for $10 per month. This article explains that the founders of WorkingPoint "worked for Intuit and were behind the creation of QuickBooks and Quicken. They believed Quickbooks had become too complicated and that the small business software segment was ripe for SaaS-based innovation."
Friday, July 23, 2010
When I am assisting a business with start-up information, I find that industry statistics are particularly helpful. A wonderful source for industry statistics is the Economic Census. A useful information tool available from the Economic Census are Industry Snapshots. 2007 data is available for the majority of 6-digit NAICS codes and snapshots can be obtained for 3, 4, and 5-digit codes as well. Each snapshot provides comparisons between the current census and the previous one. Maps of the United States divided by state are provided that show various industry statistics, including sales per capita, number of establishments, payroll per employee, etc. There is an option titled "Compare YOUR Business" that compares a single business to national averages. And a "Did You Know" feature provides interesting factoids on the Industry. All in all, this is a useful AND interesting tool from the U.S. Census.
The authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other Die and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard have made some related resources available on their website heathbrothers.com.
Free with registration, the tools available here are probably most useful if you have read the corresponding book(s), but are helpful even without that additional context.
There is a framework and first chapter available for each title, plus a podcast series, a guide for creating successful (“sticky”) presentations, and more.
(Tip o the hat to hillsearch.org)
Thursday, July 22, 2010
The US Department is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act this week. I find this to be exciting; at the same time, it seems as though some people seem to find ADA difficult and punitive. While I'm sure that one can find bad outcomes of good intentions in any bureaucracy, the core message of the Act is to make goods and services more accessible to a population that is nearly one in five Americans, and growing.
As the Reaching Out to Customers with Disabilities section indicates that "The ADA asks public accommodations to take steps that are 'readily achievable' or are 'reasonable' or that do not constitute an 'undue burden' to enable people with disabilities to be their customers and clients."
I was at a business conference a few years ago, and a representative laid out some examples about how a business could become more customer friendly. A dry cleaner had a three-step walk up to the entrance. Not only would a ramp been expensive, it would not have been practical, because the angle would have been too steep. The solution: setting up a buzzer at the bottom of the stairs for an employee to come out to the customer and pick up or deliver the dry cleaning.
I was struck by the conversation I had with someone at my former church. There was a debate before I had gotten there as to whether they should build a ramp. Some folks indicated that there were no current parishioners who needed a ramp. The response: "Yes, and if we don't build the ramp, we never will." Subsequently, folks with walkers and wheelchairs and others for whom the few steps were a burden have made good use of that ramp.
Accessibility is not just a matter of "fairness" or "justice"; it's good business sense.
Info about the Disability website and blog; the latter features some great stories.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The SBA is conducting a complete overhaul of its website to make it easier for small business owners to find the information they need. The agency recently launched “The NEXT SBA.gov," a transition site dedicated to sharing its redesign progress with employees, small business owners, agency partners and other agency stakeholders. You can find the site at www.sba.gov/NEXT. The site includes a link to Frequently Asked Questions which provide more details about goals of the redesign. Feel free to submit comments and suggestions using the “What Do You Think?” box at the bottom of the site.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
SBA is now offering a new set of three export-oriented podcasts offering valuable information on issues and challenges small business exporters may find when dealing with specific countries.
The podcasts, featuring interviews with business representatives from Uganda, Cameroon and Bahrain, are part of a comprehensive effort by SBA to promote and support the President’s National Export Initiative. The interviews focus on what U.S. companies can expect when exporting to those countries and provide information relevant to their respective business and import environments...
The podcasts on Uganda and Cameroon include interviews with two women business owners who are members of the African Women’s Business Network, an organization that supports a network of businesswomen’s organizations in Africa. The podcast on Bahrain features an interview with an official of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce.
The podcasts are available online and include transcripts. They provide valuable information on country infrastructure, types of U.S. products and services in demand, cultural tips on how to do business, and other relevant issues.
In his State of the Union Address on Jan. 27, 2010, President Obama announced the National Export Initiative, as part of an effort to promote and achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth for the United States. The president has a goal of doubling exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million American jobs. The SBA is committed to supporting NEI by offering American small businesses the resources they need to break into and succeed in the global market.
In addition to the new online tools, SBA resource partners – Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and SCORE – as well as U.S.
Export Assistance Centers are available to assist small businesses who are interested in exporting in every U.S. state and territory. These resource partners can help entrepreneurs identify potential export markets, facilitate export transactions, develop links between United States small business and prescreened foreign buyers, advise on participation in international trade shows, assist in obtaining export financing and developing or reorienting marketing and production strategies. In addition to counseling resources in every state and territory there are export specialists available at the eight International Trade Export Assistance Centers and SCORE online international trade advisers.
There are 19 U.S. Export Assistance Centers located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States. USEACs are one-stop shops ready to provide small- or medium-sized businesses with personalized local export assistance by professionals from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and other public and private organizations. For more information on USEACs, please visit here.
Contact: David J. Hall (202) 205-6697
Release Number: 10-40
Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
StepByStepMarketing is, according to its website, "an Internet-centric resource for owners and managers of growing and emerging businesses – entrepreneurs and established businesses alike – designed to keep you on top of the latest trends in brand building, marketing, sales, and customer service and relationship building. To help you build profits, take your business to the next level, and gain competitive edge, StepByStepMarketing.com provides you tips, tools, and techniques in a methodical, how-to, step-by-step way that is easy-to-understand and quick and simple to implement."
The site offers daily tips such as how to improve the results of your marketing and tips for retaining lasting customer loyalty. The site also offers several free reports.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
For a summary of what doing business is like in various countries, have a look at the Doing Business project. These reports focus on a select number of topics relating to starting a business including permits, taxes and enforcing contracts for small and medium sized companies.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
"Social enterprise" is the new buzzword within both the nonprofit and for-profit world, encompassing an organization or individual who wish to do well while doing good – that is, achieving the "triple bottom line" of people, planet, profit (that is, having social, environmental, and economic goals).
Presented in partnership with Community Wealth Ventures and the Social Enterprise Alliance, this is a free, searchable directory of nonprofit social enterprises.
Search by keyword, type of organization (think interest/activity area), budget, type of venture, legal status, and/or state. Your search results typically include basic contact information, stated mission, and any specific enterprise or partner venture(s).