Thursday, August 31, 2017

Manufacturing Day - October 6, 2017

From the Census Bureau:
Observed on the first Friday in October.
Key Stats:
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures. This infographic contains statistics indicating that manufacturing establishments show gains in receipts, but lower employment over time.
Manufacturing Day
Source: 2014 Annual Survey of Manufactures. 
More Stats:
Source: Census Library.
Source: Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, & Orders.
The Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, & Orders (M3) survey provides broad-based, monthly statistical data on economic conditions in the domestic manufacturing sector. The survey measures current industrial activity and provides an indication of future business trends.
Source: Industry Statistics Portal, Business Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

From the Department of Homeland Security:
USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Most Important Attributes of Effective Online Influencers

From MarketingProfs:

Consumers say they are most likely to trust online influencers who come across as credible and who appear to have actually used the products/services incorporated into their posts, according to research from IZEA.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in 2016 of 1,000 consumers age 18-70 in the United States who use social media.

Some 67% of respondents say the credibility/believability of an influencer is highly important in making sponsored posts effective; and 64% say it is very important that the influencer seems to have actually tried the product/services incorporated into posts.

Less than half of consumers say an influencer's popularity/follower count makes sponsored posts more effective.

Monday, August 28, 2017

79% of customers expect an immediate response

From Zendesk:
Two-dimensional customer service is a thing of that past. Customers are pushing brands harder than ever to earn their loyalty. They want the personal attention that comes from dealing with a human, but the speed and accuracy associated with automated systems.

This newly released report details the findings of a consumer survey, with 89% of respondents agreeing that brands need to offer a consistent customer service experience across all channels to retain their loyalty. See the numbers for yourself and as we examine the emerging trends of 2017.

Zendesk recently commissioned research firm, Loudhouse, to explore this important and perplexing challenge. The research conducted illuminates four key trends of which important conclusions can be drawn:

This report explores these key areas further, providing deep insight for businesses keen to stay ahead of their competition through improvements in their customer service strategies.

Friday, August 25, 2017

'Psychologically scarred' millennials are killing countless industries

From The Independent:

Millennials' preferences are killing dozens of industries.

There are many complex reasons millennials' preferences differ from prior generations', including less financial stability and memories of growing up during the recession.

“I think we have got a very significant psychological scar from this great recession,” Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger told Business Insider...

“Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants,” Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith wrote in a letter to shareholders earlier this year...

Beer penetration fell 1% from 2016 to 2017 in the US market, while both wine and spirits were unmoved, according to Nielsen ratings.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My 5 Worst Productivity Mistakes

From Brooks Digital:

A few years ago I was in a serious battle with overwhelm at work.

I was constantly feeling stressed about all the different projects that needed to be moved forward. While my inbox tugged me in five different directions, I had this ever-present feeling of guilt about the things I knew I really should be doing, but kept putting off.

And even when I wasn't working, the stream of notifications, emails, and texts kept me half-present with my friends and family.

It was exhausting. I knew there had to be a better way.

So I set out to find the root of the problem and learn how to get more of the right things done without my responsibilities having an iron grip over my mind 24/7.

And while I'm still not perfect, I've grown tremendously. I’m in control of my schedule, can be more present with my friends and family, and I’ve canned the nagging guilt...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Automation and technology can create jobs, not just take them

From LinkedIn:

Robots are going to take our jobs, they say. I say, "Only if that's what we ask them to do!" Technology is the solution to human problems, and we won't run out of work till we run out of problems. Entrepreneurs need to set their sights on how we can use big data, sensors, and AI to create amazing human experiences and the economy of the future, making us all richer in the same way the tools of the first industrial revolution did.

Yes, technology can eliminate labor and make things cheaper, but at its best, we use it to do things that were previously unimaginable! What is our poverty of imagination? What are the entrepreneurial leaps that will allow us to use the technology of today to build a better future, not just a more efficient one? Great entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are using technology to do more, not just to do the same thing more cheaply. That is the secret both to business success and to making the world more prosperous.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

“To keep silent is to jeopardize the reputation of the company.” .

From the New York Times:
After Nazi-saluting white supremacists rioted in Charlottesville, Va. and President Trump dithered in his response, a chorus of business leaders rose up this past week to condemn hate groups and espouse tolerance and inclusion. And as lawmakers in Texas tried to restrict the rights of transgender people to use public bathrooms, corporate executives joined activists to kill the bill.

These and other actions are part of a broad recasting of the voice of business in the nation’s political and social dialogue, a transformation that has gained momentum in recent years as the country has engaged in fraught debates over everything from climate change to healthcare...

“In this maelstrom, the most clarifying voice has been the voice of business,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation and a board member at PepsiCo. “These C.E.O.s have taken the risk to speak truth to power.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

How to Deal with Angry Customers (According to Science)

From ImpactBnd:

As the outward face of the company, a customer service representative (CSR) is one of the most important players on your sales team.

If those on the frontlines have poor judgment when it comes to working with the people that perform end-purchasing, even the most stellar business plan or innovative product can be undone.

Anyone who works with customers knows a single negative interaction with a client can overshadow the effects of even dozens of positive ones.

It’s the same on the receiving end. If you consider customer service experiences, chances are you recall the time a meal took forever, when it came out it was wrong, and the manager refused to apologize and spilled sauce on you, rather than the scores of times your dinner went without a hitch.

Why? Because great customer service is seamless and meant to look easy.

However, like a bad magic act, when the tricks fall flat, audiences start to walk out in droves, and the consequences of poor service do not end with just one disappointed client.

Friday, August 18, 2017

12 ridiculous phrases smart people avoid at work

From The Ladders:
“Datafication.” “Operationalize.” “Let’s parking lot this.”

These are just a few of the workplace phrases and words that people found “most ridiculous,” according to recent research.

The American Express OPEN ‘Get Business Done’ Survey, released recently, shows that some employees are just spewing words in the office without really grasping what they mean.

“Have you ever heard a coworker say something like, ‘It ladders up to our overarching framework and optimizes the impactfulness of our deliverables,’ and wondered, ‘HUH?’ You’re not alone,” American Express says, comfortingly.

We are all part of the problem: the research found that 88% of respondents said they use jargon without understanding it, and 64% reported using words and terms like this “multiple times” weekly.

Make no mistake: you do have to break the habit. These words make you look silly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to Use Your Business Plan to Create an Awesome Company Name

From Bplans:

Everyone knows that a business name is important. It is the single most used aspect of your future brand. Ideally, yours will be mentioned by reporters, shared by referrals, and hopefully remembered by customers when the need for your solution arises.

A great name like PayPal can introduce your company, hinting at what makes it unique and interesting. PayPal is a payment solution with an upbeat brand and uniquely easy user experience—their name brilliantly captures this value proposition.

An intriguing name like Uber can help build buzz, causing people to wonder, “What is that?” An emotive name like SalesForce can resonate deeply with potential customers, lending a sense of authority.

Naming is often one of the first business activities where the rubber meets the road—where an idea becomes a reality...

We have discovered that a great name evolves from an excellent business plan. A company that has gone through the process of defining their business by writing a business plan generally has a greater sense of self-awareness than a company that hasn’t.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Sweeney’s Market

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Binghamton SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Al Fargnoli
Sweeney’s Market
Binghamton SBDC

The Binghamton SBDC became aware of the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund administered by the Low Income Investment Fund, which provides financial resources for rural grocery stores to upgrade their store equipment and improve the offerings to their community. 

Advisor Ken Homer consulted Tioga County Economic Development to identify rural grocery stores that might benefit from the program. Al Fargnoli, second generation owner and operator of Sweeney’s Market, was one of those with the potential to benefit from a grant. Sweeney’s Market supports its community’s local rural population, which includes low income, food stamp recipients, WIC recipients (women with children) and senior citizens. With Advisor Homer’s assistance, Al prepared a list of equipment to update his vegetable, dairy, and packaged meat display cases. He also included standalone display cases for fruits and vegetables. It took a year for verification of the business’ customer base, financial stability, and verification of equipment and installation costs. 

At the end of the tedious process, Al was finally awarded a grant for $72,752, which enabled him to purchase the display cases and increase the products he could offer to his customers. In addition, Al invested $60,392 to remodel the store. He installed laminate flooring, painted the facility, added new shelving end caps for display, and expanded his office space. The new equipment, remodeling and refurbishing of the store into a modern and attractive retail space resulted in a 16% increase in sales, and Al added six part-time employees. His store was the largest potential grant recipient in Tioga County to receive approval.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reasons Your Business Should Be on Instagram

From MarketingProfs:

People remember 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and 10% of what they hear, according to an infographic by Instagram service provider Gramlike.

So it's no wonder than Instagram is a popular social media platform, and not just for consumers but for brands as well.

With 90% of Interbrand's "Top 100 Global Brands" on Instagram, and 53% of Instagram users following their favorite brands on the social network, according to the infographic, it's clear that the platform can be valuable when it's used well.

The infographic gives tips on how to accomplish exactly that, such as noting that posts with location tags drive higher engagement than those without, and images with faces receive 38% more likes than those without.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Leveraging Webinars To Build Your Powerhouse Personal Brand

From Forbes:

From talking to fellow coaches, clients and business leaders, it’s clear that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way "careers" are built.

Professionals have enthusiastically embraced the power of personal branding to distinguish themselves in their fields. The traditional resume is far less important than it used to be; recruiters now scour LinkedIn to find potential candidates. And as the 9-to-5 corporate mindset gives way to a more gig-focused mentality, it’s less about who you work for and more about building your own personal brand.

Many of these new platform-savvy thought leaders are embracing public speaking as a powerful way to land new clients. In fact, look at any list of the top names in a particular niche, and you’ll likely find one thing in common: They understand how to use public speaking to strengthen their personal brands...

While live public events can be great, there are some definite drawbacks. Yes, there’s the time commitment and travel expenses, for the speaker as well as the attendees, but don’t forget that in-person events often draw a limited audience for smaller immediate exposure potential. It’s no wonder that the leaders I’ve been talking to about this are huge fans of the power of live and on-demand webinars as guest speaking opportunities.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spending Hasn’t Been This High in Almost a Decade

From eMarketing:

US consumer spending levels are nearly back to where they were before the global financial crisis in 2008, according to new survey data from Gallup.

Those polled spent an average of $109 per day in July, excluding spending on normal household bills and major purchases, such as a home or car. That was the highest figure reported by Gallup since May 2008, when the average hit $114 per day.

Daily average spending by consumers in the US fell precipitously soon after, thanks to the Great Recession.

The new data is something of a contrast to Gallup survey data released in May of this year, which found that 60% of financially worried consumers said they preferred saving to spending.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Twenty Percent of Global Commercial Email Fails to Reach the Inbox

From Business Wire:

One in five commercial emails worldwide fails to reach its intended target, according to the 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report from data solutions provider Return Path. This new research reveals that just 80 percent of email is delivered to the inbox, while the remainder—a full 20 percent—is diverted to spam folders or gets blocked altogether.

The report’s findings are relatively consistent with the company’s 2016 and 2015 benchmarks, which reported a 79 percent global inbox placement rate. While this rate has improved slightly in the past year, the significant percentage of filtered messages means that marketers are still missing out on a valuable opportunity to drive meaningful revenue from the email channel.

"Email remains the most popular and effective channel available to marketers, so it’s more important than ever to get it right. If your emails aren’t reaching the inbox, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI," said Return Path President George Bilbrey. "But email filtering continues to evolve, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to deliver only the content their users truly want."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

UPS offers retailers a way to simplify returns

From eMarketing:

In retailers’ fight against Amazon, it looks like there will soon be a new weapon that could help level the playing field against the online retail giant.

UPS said it will introduce UPS Returns Manager, a free online tool that allows e-commerce retailers, especially less well-resourced small- and medium-sized merchants, to not only customize their own shipment rules but also manage return shipments without having to integrate their own IT systems.

For consumers, who in the past had to go to a retailer’s website to print a return label or use a label retailers include in package boxes, the feature allows them to now print a return shipping label directly from’s tracking page both on desktop and mobile devices and through email alerts. Consumers can also print return labels at The UPS Store locations at no additional cost.

The service will be available in the US Aug. 14 and 43 other countries from the UK to Brazil two weeks after that.

Why is this relevant?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Baruch SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Josh Schaffner
Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions
Midtown Manhattan SBDC

Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions packages beverages for small and medium-sized producers, specializing in beers for craft breweries. The company was created to provide a reliable and affordable packaging service to small growing producers who don’t want to sacrifice quality control or presentation in the growth of their product to additional sales outlets. Ninth Planet are the first counter pressure filling canner that goes to the customer! 

Josh Schaffner is not new to the industry. He has been a professional advocate for craft beverage producers since he launched NY Craft Beer Week in 2008. When he saw the canning problem faced by micro-brewers he had his “aha moment.” Believing that small brewers have a right to quality canning services without the huge upfront costs of purchasing the machinery, Josh got to work with a team of engineers to create a mobile canning unit. 

With help from Business Advisor Jesse Karasin at the Baruch SBDC, Josh came up with a plan to can for breweries at their locations. Jesse was there throughout the lending process to work with Josh on everything from the financial modeling to the loan documentation. Jesse helped him obtain a $250,000 loan from NYBDC. Together with his team, Josh is currently canning for brewers in the five NYC boroughs, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He and his team want to be a profitable business that responsibly cares for its employees and the broader business community.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Millennials Most Willing to Use Online-Only Stores for Groceries

From eMarketer:
Nearly half of US millennial grocery shoppers polled earlier this year said they have shopped for some groceries in an online-only store, a dramatic change from just two years ago. And they're not alone.

The finding mirrors a trend of consumers across all age groups increasingly getting their groceries among internet pure plays, although at a more modest level.

A February 2017 survey by food industry research firm Food Marketing Institute (FMI) found that 43% of millennial respondents shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at least occasionally, a rate almost 80% higher than in 2015.

Consumers ages 39 to 52 shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at about half the rate of millennials

Monday, August 07, 2017

Technology, Immigrant Entrepreneurship Fuel Growth

From Forbes:
As the immigration debate continues, a new study indicates that immigrant entrepreneurial zeal and technology are fueling much of the small business growth in America.

New York City is the Big Apple for small business, according to Biz2Credit’s 2017 study of the Top Small Business Cities. New York improved to the top spot after registering the highest average annual revenues, credit scores and length of time in business. The city's growth has been fueled by the booming real estate market, the construction industry, banking and finance, a thriving technology sector, and immigrant-owned service and food businesses.

The annual ranking of the 25 cities is based on a weighted average of data from 30,000 companies with fewer than 250 employees and less than $10 million in annual revenues that applied for financing last year. It looks at the health of small companies in each metro area, the rate of small-business creation, and the economic ecosystem for entrepreneurs, including the cost of doing business, tax climate and local talent pool.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hot retailers include both 'bricks and clicks'

From BizJournals:

Subscription meal kit company Blue Apron, which has delivered more than 150 million meals since it was founded five years ago, is No. 1 on the Hot 100 Retailers list.

The list appears in the August issue of the National Retail Federation's STORES magazine and was compiled by research firm Kantar Retail. It’s based on sales growth in 2016 over 2015, and ranks both public and privately-held retail companies by U.S. domestic sales, with a $300 million threshold for inclusion, according to NRF.

Blue Apron saw annual sales grow 133 percent to $795.4 million in 2016, according to the list.

STORES Hot 100 Retailers' annual list: There is a distinct lack of big-box general merchandise retailers on the chart this year, while there are plenty of businesses that exhibit differentiation in the marketplace, innovative merchandising and an appropriate value proposition for the intended customer base.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

41 Wisconsin Company Employees Have Microchips Implanted

From Mediapost:

A Wisconsin company had its planned ‘chip party’ Tuesday and 41 employees had microchips implanted into them.

Those employees, all who volunteered to have an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip implanted between their thumb and forefinger, now can use their hand to unlock doors, log on to computers and pay at kiosks or terminals that take credit cards.

“It went really well and was a lot simpler than I thought,” Tony Danna, vice president of international sales at Three Market Square, said. “It hurts more when pinching the skin than the syringe implanting the chip. It takes about two seconds.”

There were about 20 employees in the company who did not want them and no one, either those who initially did or did not want them changed their mind, Danna said.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Winter Is Coming: What Retailers Can Do to Prepare for the Holidays

From MarketingProfs:

Retail marketers say developing content and promotions well ahead of time is the most effective thing that can be done to prepare for the winter holiday shopping season, according to recent research from Campaigner.

The report was based on data from a survey of 100 retailers who are Campaigner clients.

Some 62% of respondents say early development of marketing content and promotions is the most helpful approach for preparing for the holiday season.

One-third of retailers who began planning before last September say they had a successful 2016 holiday season; only 22% of retailers who began planning in September or later say they had a successful 2016 holiday season.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Don't Fall For Fake Tech Support Scams

From the Federal Trade Commission:
Some scammers call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple. Other scammers send pop-up messages that warn about computer problems. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer. They claim to be “tech support” and will ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for unnecessary – or even harmful – services.

If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email, or other urgent messages about problems with your computer, stop. Don’t click on any links, don’t give control of your computer and don’t send any money.

Don’t click that pop-up for a “free virus scan”. Scammers create pop-up ads, make fake websites, and call you pretending to be tech support personnel—but they’re not helping you, they’re just taking your money or stealing your information. The elderly are especially vulnerable to these tricks. Share your knowledge with others!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Nine Pin Cider

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Albany SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Alejandro and Sonya del Peral
Nine Pin Cider
Albany SBDC


Nine Pin is a craft cider company based in downtown Albany. Established in 2013, Nine Pin is dedicated to creating exceptional off-dry ciders, and to the orchards that make them possible. Apple varieties are carefully selected and blended to achieve a complex, balanced flavor with a clean and pleasantly drinkable finish. 

Located in the Warehouse District of downtown Albany, Nine Pin Cider is the first cider manufacturer to be awarded a NYS Farm Cidery license in the state. Nine Pin sources apples exclusively from farms in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley. Founders Alejandro and Sonya del Peral are a dynamic mother and son duo that have fostered the development and growth of the business from an annual hard cider production of 10,000 gallons in 2013 to 90,000 gallons in 2016. What started as a boutique manufacturer with limited distribution has grown into a mid-sized manufacturing operation with 14 employees, distribution in multiple states, self-distribution and a sizeable tasting room and retail store. 

In 2013, Nine Pin won a gold medal for a cider called Catskill Thunder at the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. Advisor Kate Baker at the Albany SBDC has worked with the del Peral family and Nine Pin Cider since 2012, when the concept of the business was still in the development stage. Initial assistance included business plan and financial projection assistance for starting the business and developed into ongoing business mentoring, assistance with the management of business finances and the business’ rapid growth. Nine Pin has had two major expansions in the last two years.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Major Payment Data Security Concerns among Consumers

From BusinessWire
A survey* commissioned by Transaction Network Services (TNS) has found that 85% of adults in the US, UK and Australia believe the number of criminals trying to steal credit and debit card data is increasing.

More than two thirds are concerned about the security of their payment card data and 38% feel their private credit or debit card data has been put at risk by a data breach, irrelevant of whether they subsequently were a victim of fraud.

Also from BusinessWire:

A recent study from Juniper Research predicts that worldwide spending on tools to detect and prevent online payment fraud will rise to $9.3 billion by 2022, an increase of 22% over the spend expected this year. The report says that the threat posed by insecure internet of things (IoT) devices will be a primary driver of anti-fraud investment.