Showing posts from February, 2006

Agriculture Economic Workshops Press Release

March Road Tour: 4 Cities. 6 Workshops. 24 Opportunities to Grow NY Agriculture. State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan announced "March Road Tour," a series of workshops that will enhance the awareness and understanding of economic resources available for the agricultural industry. "Over the past eleven years, Governor Pataki has established numerous programs and incentives to assist farmers and agri-businesses in New York State," Commissioner Brennan said. "We want to make sure these resources are known and thoroughly understood, so they can be utilized effectively on the local level. I encourage anyone interested in agriculture, from farmers to local elected officials, to take the time to attend one of these sessions and learn what the Department of Agriculture and Markets has to offer you and your business." The free sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following dates and locations. • Tuesday, March 14 Canton Best Western,

Wedding Industry Data

As my own wedding day approaches, people around Central know that wedding planning details are never far from my mind. Last week, though, it was sheer serendipity to find a site called The Wedding Report . Clients involved in any of the numerous industries related to weddings would find this site interesting. While the site is primarily interested in selling market research reports, it does provide enough free snapshot data to be of immediate use. The site shows the average amount spent by couples on receptions, invitations, apparel, hair, etc. You can see data on a state-by-state basis (go here for New York State ), or enter a ZIP code and get more precise county-level data. $26,800 for a wedding in Albany County! Good thing I work for the SBDC . . .

Do you and your clients understand e-mail?

Have you ever sent an e-mail that was misinterpreted? The recipient's response showed that your message was completely misunderstood? Apparently, this happens a lot. An article from states that recent research shows that people have "only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message" yet "people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time." This might not be too much of a problem at home but be careful - "many companies battle workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail." See for the complete article .

Social Networks

Today I was asked if I knew of any networking Internet sites for small business. I tend to see those geared specifically to a particular industry but I thought, there must be some tools for this sort of thing, after all, people love to get connected. So, I came up with a list of tools, while not specifically geared to business applications, certainly could be. It’s kind of sideways from what I started out looking for, established sites with a ready made group of contributors gathered to broadly discuss issues facing small business owners, but, if you can get a group of people on board, potentially very useful. Of course, they are all only as good/active as their members so I suppose, they are what you make them. Some of these do smack of elitism which is annoying at best. I have no personal experience on any of these sites so if anyone else can vouch for any of these or other sites, feel free. Keep in mind that the oldest and probably best networking opportunities come through profes


Podunk: a term for a quintessential "jerkwater town" . E-Podunk, though, is a great website when trying to find information about places all over the country, including, but hardly limited to, Podunk, NY . One can find a list of attractions, communities, media, cemeteries, and much more, within a certain radius of the town. It provides links to sources of businesses, Census data, weather and much more. The community information is useful, especially gathered, as it is, in one place, though one could find the data in various locations. However, the religion by county data is not readily available in most sources. They've provided studies of the most liberal place in each state (for NY, Ithaca), best home town (Batavia), highest coffee quotient (Westbury). Single women should move to Wyoming County, single men to the Bronx. The item I'll likely use the most, however, is the ancestry section, which delineates the places with the greatest concentration of peoples of diffe

Bringing New Food Products to Market

We receive a lot of questions on behalf of clients who have new recipes and new food products, but aren't sure on how to bring them to market. For them, I'd recommend either (or both) of these: 1) Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship - This group is part of Cornell University's "NYS Agricultural Experiment Station". The mission of this Center is to "provide comprehensive assistance to beginning and established food entrepreneurs, thus promoting sustainable economic development of rural communities." While they are not a source of grants or loans, they are a source of answers on things such as labelling requirements, laboratory testing needs, packaging, and other issues critical to the start-up of a new food line. 2) From Kitchen to Market: Selling Your Gourmet Food Specialty by Stephen F. Hall. 4th edition, 2005-06 The Research Network has this book in its collection. According to its blurb, this book "will show you how to: Identify a winni

Online Training

There seems to be a trend lately in offerings of online training for small business. This morning I came across the small business how-to seminars from the New York Public Library's Small Business Resource Center . Topics include: Pricing your product or service: Break Even Analysis Primer Quick Guide to Building a Successful Export Business Retail Essentials: How to Open and Run a Successful Retail Store Each session can be viewed in parts - watch the video and text slides together, or download the audio only to an MP3 player. You can also find links to other online training opportunities on the NYS SBDC web site.

Latest Additions to the RN Collection

In no particular order, here are the latest additions to the shelves. Joe Rubino ed. The Ultimate Guide to Network Marketing 37 Top network marketing income-earners share their most preciously guarded secrets to build extreme wealth. Joe Rubino and John Terhune 15 Secrets Every Network Marketer Must Know Essential elements and skills required to achieve 6 & 7 - figure success in network marketing. Ukers’ International Tea & Coffee Directory & Buyers’ Guide 2006, 51st ed. Published by Tea & Coffee Trade Journal National Association of Convenience Stores State of the Industry Convenience Store Totals, Trends & Averages 2005 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006 The National Data Book US Census Bureau / US Department of Commerce Progressive Grocer's 58th Annual Consumer Expenditures Study

Environmental hazards

One source of data on environmental hazards is the US EPA. They have a web accessible database on "toxic release inventory" or TRI. They describe it as:" The TRI Explorer provides fast and easy access to the TRI data to help communities identify facilities and chemical releases that warrant further study and analysis." Find it here Socioecomic Trends 2000 and and Well-Being Indicators 1950-2000, 408 pp., 8.53 MB, is put out by the state Office of Rural Health. It's a large PDF here . The Pollution Locator focuses especially on Superfund sites and is located here . Lead Exposure Status Among New York Children by county and ZIP code comes from the state Department of Health. Get tables here. Also from the state Department of Health, Cancer Data for New York State Counties here .

What are you reading?

Every time I go to a conference, a speaker suggests a book to me that I wouldn't normally read. Cynthia Cheng-Correia of KnowledgeInform spoke to the Upstate New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. She mentioned being blown away by the conclusions drawn in Freakonomics . I got the book out of the library and was intrigued. For example, the authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, argue that the drop in violent crime rates can be traced to a drop in violent criminals. A drop in violent criminals can be traced to the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion - thus, less unwanted children born into the world. From the author's web site : "Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime." This may sound like crackpot economics. Before you jump to your own conclusions, read the book for the author's complete analysis. And make a suggestion here for a book that yo

Direct Mail Success Four Ways to Raise Direct Mail Response Rates by Tony Attwood February 7, 2006 "About 90% of the direct mail I see uses one of two copywriting techniques. In my view, neither works. The truth is there are only four ways of writing a direct mail ad that will raise your response rate. Here they are. " Business Know-How® Q & A Mail Response Rates? by Janet Attard "Mail response rates vary greatly. They are influenced by who you send the mailing to, what you say in your letter, whether or not you are reaching the right person, when the letter arrives, and the phase of the moon." Direct Marketing Association DMA 2005 Response Rate Report “Hailed as the most exciting research DMA has ever produced, this landmark report delivers response rate benchmarks specific to your marketing campaigns. Compare media, costs, response rates and ROI.” Microsoft Small Business Center Direct-mail tips for sophis

Helping Your Clients Protect Their Intellectual Property

I attended a web conference a couple weeks ago, offered by the US Department of Commerce, about how foreign entities have intruded on property rights of American businesses. They have enlisted the SBDCs to get out the word. According to the presentation, counterfeiting accounts for 5% -7% of global merchandise trade, with lost sales of $600 billion in 2005. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because they: -Lack other product lines to fall back on -Lack financial resources -Have liability hazards Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are Private Rights: -Legal protection for an investment -Protection provided under national legislation and international agreements -They include patents, trademark, and copyright -For more information about patents and trademarks go USPTO or call 800 786-9199 -For more information about copyright, go the copyright Office or call 202 707-3000 The Department of Commerce recommends that SBDC advisers discuss IPR with your clients prior to new product

Research Network Subscriptions

Hey folks - Increasingly, what we access on behalf of SBDC clients is electronic in origin. However, we still get value from the printed word. A good number of articles are copied from those journals and newspapers we have under subscription. In case you were curious, here's what travels among our in-boxes: Advertising Age (weekly) Agency Sales (free - monthly) Black Enterprise (monthly) Boating Industry (free - monthly) Business First – Buffalo (weekly) Business Week (weekly) Capital District Business Review (weekly) Central New York Business Journal (weekly) Chronicle of Higher Education (weekly) Consumer Reports (monthly) Crain’s New York Business (weekly) Entrepreneur (monthly) Forbes (biweekly) Fortune Small Business (monthly) Government Technology (free - monthly) Hispanic Business (free - monthly) Inc (monthly) Information Outlook (monthly) Journal of Commerce (weekly) Long Island Business News (weekly) Oswego County Business (bimonthly) Pet Business (monthly) Playthings (mo

The Kauffman Foundation's eVenturing

Geared to those who are building companies that innovate and create jobs and wealth, Kauffman eVenturing is the trusted guide for entrepreneurs on the path to high growth. The site provides original articles, written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, and aggregates “the best of the best” content on the Web related to starting and running high-impact companies. Entrepreneurs will find eVenturing to be an interactive, vibrant, and vital place to make important connections, access help and advice, and find relevant, practical “just-in-time” information and tools..

Marketing to Women

Center for Women’s Business Knowledge that Means Business This concise site offers a picture of the state of women-owned businesses. It includes stats by state, metro area, minority group, and publishes a number of reports for sale, as well as some for free. Their fact of the week: Women-owned businesses in nontraditional industries such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation/communications are more than twice as likely as women-owned businesses in more traditional industries to be certified as a women's business enterprise (44% of business in nontraditional industries vs. 21% in traditional industries). Source: Center for Women's Business Research, Women Business Owners in Nontraditional Industries: Changing Traditional Views, October 2005. SBA Online Women’s Business Center Naturally the SBA Online Women’s Business Center is a great resource for tips, SBA publications, a neat list of links to business magazines and news sources. In their library they include a few