Friday, August 31, 2018

Going Green to Make Green



Excerpt of an article by Kristin Manganello,

To read more visit Thomasnet

Sustainability initiatives — which focus on promoting and expanding healthy business systems by addressing various environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors — have become a key focus for consumers and businesses alike. The ultimate goal of implementing sustainable practices is to ensure that the global business community is eco-friendly, socially responsible, inclusive, easier to predict, and financially successful for all involved parties.

Because sustainability is often associated with high implementation costs, there is a common misconception that the expenses outweigh the benefits. For this reason, many companies are still resistant to introduce these practices into their business models. But working toward more sustainable processes offers more than just environmental benefits and a boosted company reputation; opportunities abound for fiscal savings and increased profit margins as well.

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned

As traditional fossil fuels become scarcer, pricier, and increasingly controversial, interest in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, is on the rise. Although the startup costs for these technologies are indeed high, companies that reduce or eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels in favor of more sustainable power sources have the potential to boost their dividends considerably just by lowering how much is spent on energy every year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Bright Spot for Retail?



Excerpt from an article by Krista Garcia

To read more, visit eMarketer

Despite persistent gloom and doom surrounding the retail industry, the first half of the year has been positive for most product categories. According to the newly released monthly retail sales report from the US Census Bureau, for H1 2018, retail sales (excluding auto parts and gasoline) totaled $2.06 billion, up 4.9% year over year.

With the exception of sporting goods, which shrunk 1.7%, and department stores that stayed flat, all other segments experienced growth in H1 2018. Furniture and home goods (5.3%) and apparel (5.1%) saw the biggest gains.

Now par for the course, ecommerce outperformed total retail with 10.0% gains during H1 2018 compared with the same time last year.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Strategy Is Useless Without Execution


Written by Tim Berry
Read more at Bplans

It happens all the time. You take your team away from the routine for a few hours, brainstorm, and develop a brilliant new strategy for your business. And when you all get back into the routine, the routine wins and strategy loses. Nothing changes.

The plan was brilliant on the whiteboard but never got to the real world. What happened?

Your business strategy is useless without execution. Don’t leave that whiteboard without developing key tactics. Make sure the execution tactics you choose are directly in service of your strategic goal. For every action you take, you should be able to say how it relates to your overall business strategy.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Loss of Consumer Trust Can Be Costly

Written by Krista Garcia
For more, go to eMarketer:

It's logical to assume consumers might lose trust in a company after a data breach or misuse of personal information. But many businesses vastly underestimate the severity of these security mishaps in the eyes of their consumers.

An April 2018 CA Technologies and Frost & Sullivan study demonstrates this perception gap. They aggregated variables like consumer willingness to share personal information online and the belief that companies protect their information to come up with a digital trust score ranked on a scale of 0 to 100. US internet users gave businesses a trust score of 61, the same as the global average. But businesses gave themselves an average score of 75 when asked if consumers trusted them.

This is important because levels of trust correlate to spending. Consumers across all levels of trust—low, moderate and high—increased spending in the past 12 months, but low-trust consumers decreased spending by larger margins. Forty-three percent of low-trust consumers (those with index scores under 55) increased spending, while 15% decreased spending. By comparison, 57% of high-trust consumers (those with scores of 70 or higher) increased spending, while only 4% spent less.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Are Shoppers Really That Resistant to Scanning and Bagging Their Own Goods?

Excerpt from an article by Krista Garcia
To read more, visit eMarketer

"Amazon Go got a lot of attention, but it could be downplayed since there was only one small store near the company’s headquarters in Seattle. Could it even scale? That looks like a tentative "yes" as Amazon appears to be expanding the convenience store concept to Chicago and San Francisco.

Walmart's answer, Scan & Go, debuted in August 2017 and worked with in-store devices or an app on a shopper's smartphone. However, it was reported that the retailer had shelved this trial. According to CBC News, after rolling out this service to about 120 US locations over eight months ago, the adoption rates were still low. The goal was to provide convenience, but it appears customers didn’t like scanning and bagging their own items.

There has always been a degree of skepticism about self-checkout, whether because it’s too complicated, shopper preference for human interaction or resistance to the idea of providing free labor and making cashiers obsolete."

Monday, August 20, 2018

Number of Women-Owned Employer Firms Increases

From the Census Bureau

Women-owned employer firms in the United States increased by approximately 2.8 percent in 2016 to 1,118,863 from 1,088,466 in 2015, according to findings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs.
The data also shows that women-owned approximately 20.0 percent (1,118,863) of all employer businesses (5,601,758) nationwide. Additionally, about one-quarter (289,326 or 25.9 percent) of all women-owned employer firms were minority owned. More than half (approximately 153,177 or 52.9 percent) of these minority women-owned firms were Asian -owned.
 The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs provides a demographic portrait of the nation’s employer businesses by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status. Tables released today provide estimates on the number of firms, receipts, payroll and employment for the nation, the states and the District of Columbia, and the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs is being folded into the Annual Business Survey. Announced in June 2018, this new survey will include an innovation content module and replaces the Survey of Business OwnersAnnual Survey of Entrepreneurs and Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey for Microbusinesses.
These data are currently available on American FactFinder. Data will be available on the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs web page under "Data" and "ASE Tables" soon.
For more information about the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, including survey design, methodology and data limitations, visit <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/ase.html>.
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Friday, August 17, 2018

Complaining Customers Can Be Great For Business

Excerpt from an article by Jackie Dana
To read more, visit NameCheap

"Every business needs happy customers and clients to be successful. From repeat business to word of mouth, satisfied customers sustain your business and help it to grow.

But not every customer or client is going to be happy all the time.

Your quest, should you choose to accept it, is to view each complaint you receive as an opportunity to build your business and improve your customer relationships. Let’s take a look at how you can transform your angry customers into your biggest fans and become their hero."

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How Marketers Are Using Original Research in Content

Excerpt from an article by Ayaz Nanji
To read more, visit MarketingProfs

"Marketers are using original research primarily to create blog posts, infographics, and PDFs, according to a recent report from Mantis Research and BuzzSumo.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in January and February 2018 among 698 marketers from around the world (53% work for B2B firms, 16% for B2C firms, 26% for hybrid B2B-B2C firms, and 5% for governments/nonprofits).

Respondents were surveyed on how their firms are using original research, which was defined as research published to gain attention from external audiences (benchmarks, salary guides, etc.), not research conducted to meet internal needs (marketing plans, competitive analyses, etc.)."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Checklist for Choosing Business Software

Blog post from SBA.gov
by Anita Campbell

"Good software can enable your small business to increase sales by saving time and money while expanding capacity.

But you must choose wisely — because the wrong software can be an expensive mistake.

Here is my tried-and-true checklist for choosing software to support your business operations:

Testimonials from Businesses Like Mine

Find vendors with a meaningful number of testimonials from other small business owners. Look for testimonials from businesses like yours — businesses of roughly the same size, in similar industries and trying to solve similar problems.

A software package might work just fine for some businesses, however, it may not help fix your problem.

Financially Strong Vendor

For mission critical processes, I hesitate to put my company’s future in the hands of software or an app that may or may not be updated a year from now.

You see this problem with some mobile apps and content management system plugins. A year or two goes by and the plugins appear abandoned and don’t play nice with newer versions of the software. Plugins may have security issues that leave your business vulnerable to hackings. Or perhaps an app looked promising, but it’s still buggy and unreliable a year later. The more mission critical the need, the more you should insist on financially stable vendors that are committed to their software.

Easy to Use

When you use, for example, an inventory management package meant for large corporations, it might seem good because you’re getting lots of features and functionality. And isn’t more always better?

Not necessarily. If you have a small team, getting more features and functionality can leave you worse off. Why? Complexity.

Complexity means it can take your small team more time than they can spare to master the software because they wear six other hats. The result? Resentment, frustration, failure. Complexity also adds more cost to get the software installed and configured, — especially if you must hire a consultant to set it up or have to pay overtime.

Automation with Other Systems

Today you get the most value from cloud software that passes data and transactions automatically to other systems you use. Doing so lets you harness automation — and that saves money. The last thing you want is to have to manually re-enter data from one system to another.

Always look for software that integrates with other software in your business. Many vendors today list all third party integrations on their websites. Avoid developing your own custom integrations, because they can get costly.

Ability to Upgrade Seamlessly

Find software that meets your needs when you are small, but grows with you. When choosing software, I like to start with a simple affordable package, then upgrade to more features or capacity later. And you want to be able to do it seamlessly without switching vendors or going through a manual conversion process.

Free Trials and Low Risk Terms

Free trials enable you to do a hands-on evaluation for a week or two. After that, with a month-to-month payment plan, or the ability to cancel at any time, you’re not locked in. If the software doesn't work out, you at least don’t have to be stuck paying for it long term.

Follow the above six checklist points and you too can improve your operations with software."

Friday, August 10, 2018

Small Scale Food Entrepreneurship: Cornell's Technical Guide for Food Ventures

From the Cornell Food Venture Center:

The Cornell Food Venture Center provides assistance to validate safety and stability of food products entering the marketplace including:

-Lab Analysis for pH, water activity, and Brix of food and beverage products
-Process Authority approval and Scheduled Process: Product Review, Documentation, and Process Validation
-Resources for Nutrition Analysis, Co-packers, Packaging Suppliers, Shelf-Life Studies, and More!
-Regulatory Compliance: Registration and Licensing with State and FDA agencies
-Small Scale Food Entrepreneurship: A Technical Guide for Food Ventures
-Better Process Control School: Necessary certification for Acidified and Low Acid Food manufacturers.
-Food Science 101
-Presentations and workshops: Interested? Contact Shannon Prozeller

The Cornell dropbox link includes everything you will need to work with the university, register with the State and FDA, information on Small Scale Food Production and more.

Services such as process approval and filing, laboratory work and use of pilot plant facility are available on a fee-for-service basis. Prices vary depending on whether your business is registered in NY or outside NY.

NYS Food Venture Center/NECFE
Cornell University/NYSAES
630 W. North Street
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 787-2273

Information for this post provided by advisor Glamis Haro, in response to a colleague's queestion about tsting dog treats, so the testing isn't limited to human food.





Thursday, August 09, 2018

$12B farmer aid program status

I received a question regarding the announced $12 billion farmer aide program recently announced as a result with the tariff war. Naturally, I called my Congressman's office.

One of his aides reaached out to the USDA Congressional Liaison with the questions I asked. (Her questions in italics). They informed her that most of the responses will be included in the NOFA and the Regulation that is published by OMB by Labor Day, and that they cannot share additional details while it’s being deliberated at this time.

I will follow up after Labor Day.

1- How will farmers have access to the funds? Dependent on what commodities the farmer produces, if they grow something eligible for the Market Facilitation Program (soybeans, cotton, sorghum, wheat, dairy, or pork) then they’ll have to come into their USDA FSA county office to complete the necessary paperwork. More details to be released in the Regulation by OMB later this month.

2- Qualifications/Criteria for eligibility? More details will be released in the Regulation by OMB later this month. Only commodities above are currently eligible for direct assistance. Other commodities will be purchased to be used in our feeding programs/food banks, and others will benefit by our trade promotion branch of the announcement through their trade association.

3- How to apply? Will be released in the Regulation by OMB. USDA will issue more guidance for qualifying producers once the regulation comes out.

4- Expected time frame of when farmers can apply and when they can expect to receive funds? Beginning in September, extended throughout the fall.

5- What is the maximum amount farmers can be granted? To be included in the Regulation that will be released by OMB later this month.

6- Who specifically will be in charge of distributing funds? USDA. The FSA will handle the Market Facilitation Program (Direct assistance), AMS will handle the Food Purchased and Distribution Program (commodity buys), and FAS will handle the Trade Promotion Program.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Is the 609 Letter Really a Credit Repair Secret?

Written by LaToya Irby
Find more at The Balance

A 609 letter is one of the latest internet credit repair “secrets” that claim the ability to remove any kind of information from your credit report - even accurate information––based on a “loophole” in the credit reporting law. If you’ve been working to improve your credit, a 609 letter sounds like exactly what you need to get negative accounts taken off your credit report. What is a 609 letter and does it really work?

Credit bureaus collect consumer credit information from various sources, like banks, then resell that information to businesses who need to evaluate consumer credit applications. Credit bureaus are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which details what credit reporting agencies and information furnishers can and cannot do when they’re reporting consumer information. One of the credit bureaus’ responsibilities is to only include accurate and verifiable information in consumer credit reports.

Use of the 609 letter in credit repair is based on the credit bureaus responsibility to report only verifiable information.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Retirement in the Age of Uber



Excerpt from an article by Mia Taylor
To read more, visit The Simple Dollar

"There are many upsides to the gig economy and freelance work, like the flexible schedule, the autonomy of being your own boss, and, if it’s a side hustle, the ability to earn extra income to pay off bills or save for special purchases. But a path to a stable retirement does not appear to be among the benefits, at least for a lot of gig economy workers.

Betterment, an online investment platform, has just released new research focused on the finances and the future of retirement in today’s self-employed workforce. And it’s not all good news.

Their report looks at the nation’s dated retirement system, and how it has left gig economy workers unprepared. The study notes that the rise of the gig economy is fundamentally changing the way Americans earn, spend, and save for retirement, pointing out that the freedom and flexibility of the gig economy is nice now, but, for many, unsustainable over the long term."

Friday, August 03, 2018

Physical Stores Remain Go-To Channel for Discovery



Excerpt from an article by Jen King
To read more, visit eMarketer

"For the most part, consumers have a game plan when they enter a store—they know what they intend to buy and stick closely to their shopping list. Still, in-store shopping has one advantage that online doesn't: the ability to see and feel items in person.

That's likely why many people end up spending more then they intended to.

A May 2018 survey conducted by AYTM Market Research for Blis asked 2,000 US internet users ages 18 and older whether they spent more than intended when shopping in-store."

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

How to Launch a New Brand: Five Tips for an Unforgettable Debut



Excerpt from an article by Stewart Hodgson
To read more, visit MarketingProfs

"Building a brand for your company is one of the most important things you can do as a marketer.

A brand allows you to differentiate yourself from industry competitors with a unique image, a memorable voice, and an identity that resonates with your target customers. But establishing and launching your own brand from scratch can be difficult—particularly when you're a startup with limited resources.

It can be tempting to rush through the process of market entry and start selling products as quickly as possible, but the way you introduce your company to your customers could have a huge impact on your potential for future sales. After all, you really do have only one chance to make a first impression."