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Welcome to the WISE newsletter, a program of
The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Calculating per diem rates

When working for clients outside of your geographic region, one might have to consider travel expenses such as hotel costs, meals and incidental expenses. The U.S. General Services Administration has a web site that lists its calculated per diem rates by areas within each state. This web site can save you a tremendous amount of guess-work when adding travel costs to a proposal.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Voice mail etiquette

The odds of getting someone's voice mail (or answering machine) are great these days. Often it is not that the person doesn't want to answer the phone, but that she is being pulled in many directions and so lets "the machine" answer the phone.

Since you might encounter a voice mail system when trying to reach someone, it is important that you leave a good message. Broadleaf Technologies has the following advice:
  • Briefly explain who you are and the nature of the call. Get to the point. Don'’t ramble or repeat yourself. Messages should be kept to 30 seconds or less. Studies have shown that listeners will "tune out" after 25 seconds. [If you are very familiar with the person, you will know if leaving a longer message is appropriate.]
  • If you need to speak with someone regarding a topic that will be long and detailed consider leaving a subject matter only message. For example, "Bob, I need to speak to you about... at your earliest convenience." Do not leave a long winded message as a substitute for a conversation.
  • Do not leave bad news, or messages of a personal nature in voice mail. Some messages are not appropriate for voice mail.
  • Be careful what you say and how you say it. Don'’t say something that you may regret. Most systems do not allow you to take back a message once sent. Be careful who might hear your message. Most voice mail systems allow messages to be forwarded to others. You may never know who will get a copy of your message.
  • It is usually not necessary to say the date and time of your message. All business voice mail systems provide a time stamp. It is the home answering machines that generally do not have date and time.
  • If you are leaving a message for someone who may not know you or remember your name you might mention it again at the end of the message with your phone number. [This is vital! Say your telephone number slowly so the person will have a chance to write it down. And consider spelling your name, since the person may not hear it correctly.]
  • Always slow down your speech when leaving information that needs to be written down. Unless they know shorthand they cannot write as fast as you talk....
  • If you want a callback leave a date and time that you expect to be available. Voice mail is an opportunity to reduce phone tag by arranging a callback time.
Two additional tips not on the Broadleaf web site:
  • If you are in the middle of a voice mail message and want to start over, you can try pressing the # key which may give you several options, including one to start over. This doesn't always work, so be careful!
  • If the message is critical important, consider writing a few notes on a piece of paper and have those notes in front of you. If the person answers the phone, you'll be organized! If voice mail answers, you'll be ready to leave a good message.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Presentation excellence

Last month, Tom Peters did two postings in his blog (and a PowerPoint presentation) on presentation excellence. He said that "'presentation excellence' was a great boon to one's career/professional success...[but]...there is little or no formal training in preparing/giving presentations."

We all do presentations at some point, so these hints are worth reviewing and passing along. To read what Tom wrote, look at the following:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Article: Businesswomen at forefront of activity on Elmwood block

One Buffalo business area seems to be feeling the positive influence of women-owned businesses. The Buffalo News writes:
Beneath the obvious construction, there is another undercurrent that women on the block have noticed, but don't know quite what to make of: A casual count finds that during the six years since [Lacy] Abbott arrived, women have come to own and operate more than a dozen shops and businesses on Elmwood from Auburn to Lafayette Avenue. They're selling photo portraits, green tea and vegan coconut pudding, haircuts, dresses, beads, shoes, jewelry, bath stuff, lingerie and toys.

The businesswomen on the block do say the female convergence is intriguing and helpful: the group is neighborly. They watch each other's stores to be sure employees don't lock up too soon; they share advice; they refer people; they collaborate on store-opening-anniversary-celebrating parties.
Lacy Abbott began the trend by opening a boutique for city gardeners. Now this area of Elmwood Avenue is thriving. Read the full story for more inspiration.

Notes & Quotes: Leslie Rose McDonald

During one of the sessions at the WISE conference, Leslie Rose McDonald spoke on "Personal Energy Management: Fueling the Entrepreneurial Flame Without Burning Out." What is personal energy management? She defined it as:
A conscious approach to everyday choice-making which supports sustained energy, vitality, productivity and calm.
Rose McDonald noted that women entrepreneurs exhibit traits such as high expectations, willingness to take risks, and passion for their work that can create a high amount of physical and emotional energy. However, entrepreneurs can have their energy zapped by things such as perfectionism and trying to do too much themselves. Especially in the beginning, we find that we must "do it all", but doing those things that we dislike or that we're not good at will deplete our energy.

During the session, Rose McDonald had everyone take an personal energy management survey. The goal was to identify those activities that give us energy, activities that zap our energy, and those activities that are neutral. Everyone's completed survey was different, since we are all different. Those things, for example, that zap my energy might create more energy for you.

In the end, we were encouraged to continue to do things that conserve or replenish our energy as well as add in activities that help bolster our energy. We were also told to look for ways of stopping those activities that deplete our energy (not always easy to do).

Leslie Rose McDonald left the group with a list of resources. One of the resources is a web site that contains free self-care e-postcards that can be sent to anyone via e-mail. Consider sending them to yourself or someone else as a energy booster.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Women's Opportunity Center

The road to entrepreneurship can start in many places. As we learned at the WISE conference, some women start when something changed in their lives. Many learned the basic skills about running their own business by working with someone else. And before that, there was the need to find a job where the learning could begin.

Sometimes finding that first job can be difficult, especially when you don't have the right skills. In Tompkins County, the Women's Opportunity Center is "non-profit organization dedicated to helping women and men overcome obstacles to gain employment. Of the various opportunities that the center provides, each is a unique and holistic experience that prepares every individual for today’s challenges in the workplace." The Women's Opportunity Center is part of the statewide Displaced Homemakers Program, which includes 23 centers across New York State.

If you're in Tompkins County and looking to get into the workforce (and on your way to becoming an entrepreneur), check with the Women's Opportunity Center to see what services they may be able to offer you.

Blog readers

You may be reading this blog by going to the blog's web site and seeing if there is anything new. However, there is a better way of reading blogs, which delivers the content to you from several blogs (of your choosing) in one place and at the same time.

Blog readers are tools (web sites) on the Internet that allow you to monitor/read many blogs at once. (They are often referred to as RSS readers.) The one I use is Bloglines. It allows me to track many blogs at the same time. I can save items (postings) to read later, e-mail postings to other people, and change which blogs I read at anytime. Bloglines has a notifier compenent that you can download and install on your PC that will tell you when one of the blogs has posted new content.

How long does it take to setup a blog reader? 5 - 10 minutes. Honest.

How often might you check your blog reader to read something? Once a day...more often if you find the information useful.

How many blogs might you read? According to Bloglines the average number of blogs (or news feeds) someone monitors is more than 20. At the moment, I'm monitoring around 50. No, I don't read them all in-depth. Some I only look at the headlines and some I read selected articles. Why do I monitor so many? Because they help me stay up-to-date in my area of expertise, help me generate ideas, and keep me informed.

You can read more information about blog/RSS readers at:

Article: Wikis, Weblogs and RSS: What Does the New Internet Mean for Business?

This article pubished by the Wharton School starts with:
The Internet may be entering a new phase that will decentralize control inside companies, enable employees to collaborate more easily, and drive efficiency. But corporations that want to use the web strategically to build corporate value will not just need to make radical cultural changes, they may also need to master a new vocabulary with terms such as Wikis (software that allows anyone to update and edit web pages instantly and democratically); Weblogs (online journals more commonly known as blogs); and RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, which distribute content from the Internet.
What follows is an interview with three experts who talk about these new technologies and their impact.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Jill on Lip-Sticking

WISE Blog contributor Jill Hurst-Wahl can be found over at Lip-Sticking, talking about blogging, intellectual property, and other things. She also has this to say about this very blog:
The WISE blog was started by Syracuse University’s Michael J. Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship. The Falcone Center is also the driving force behind the WISE conference which has been held for the last three years in Syracuse. In April 2005, over 500 women (and a few men) attended the one-day conference. The blog is an outgrowth of the conference and a way to disseminate information throughout the year. It is one of the things that the Falcone Center is doing to promote entrepreneurship among women. I’m working with the Center to provide content for the blog.

My hope is that the blog will become a place women will turn to for information on events, business tips & techniques, entrepreneurial practices, etc. I hope the blog attracts readers not only from Central New York, but eventually from across the country and around the world. The type of content in the blog will grow over the next few months as we add more guest articles and profiles of women entrepreneurs.
Good work, Jill, and thanks for the plug!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Help Build a Small Business Wiki

SmallBusiness.com, a web site owned by Hammock Publications, is in the process of putting together a new small business wiki, which you can help build:
The Small Business Wiki is a wiki-model encyclopedia of community-generated knowledge regarding all aspects of starting and running a business. This is knowledge from the grassroots and we invite you to participate. As we're in the early stages of launching this wiki, we'd really appreciate your insight and help in building it.
A wiki is a community-built and -edited open source web site designed to help readers get the benefit of the knowledge of everyone. The first such web site was the Portland Pattern Repository, and the best explanation of wikis, not surprisingly, comes from the the Wikipedia, which is published in 47 languages (so far):
A wiki is a web application that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content. Wiki also refers to the collaborative software used to create such a website.

Wiki (with an upper case 'W') and WikiWikiWeb are both used to refer specifically to the Portland Pattern Repository, the first wiki ever created. A lower-case 'w' for 'wiki' is generally used by savvy wiki proponents. The name was based on the Hawaiian term wiki wiki, meaning "quick" or "informal." It is used commonly in Hawaii as part of its rich "pidgin English"—the creole language of the islands.

The small business wiki is, for now, in need of information on incorporation (click here to contribute) and insurance (click here to contribute), but needs help with other entries, as well. Again, the link to the SmallBusiness.com wiki is here.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The power of four

In his blog, Seth Godin quotes Tom Hanks about the power of four. In other words, what impact can only four people have? Curious? Click here for the quote.

So the question now is, what three women entrepreneurs should you partner with and what impact can you all have?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Try something new every day

It is easy to do the same thing every day in our businesses. But does that promote growth? Why not try something new every day? It doesn't have to be something big. It could be how you greet customers in your store. It could be that you try a new product that you want to offer to your customers. Perhaps it is just how you answer the phone. Try...then see what works. Did you do something that you should do again?

Try something new...take a risk...and grow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Using E-mail Signatures

What is a signature block in e-mail? If you look at the bottom of many e-mail messages you receive, you will see information about the person who sent the message to you. Often this is the person's contact information. The person does not type this information at the bottom of each outgoing e-mail message, but rather the e-mail software that the person uses places this text at the bottom automatically. In Microsoft Outlook, for example, the ability to create a signature block is under Options, Mail Format.

What do people put in their signatures? In the beginning, when people were primarily using dial-up connections to do e-mail, the signatures (or signature block or signature files) were small (2 - 4 lines in length) and contained basic information about the person (full name and complete contact information). The reason for keeping them small was due to the speed of the dial-up connections and not wanting to take up too much bandwidth. But times have changed.

Signature blocks have evolved into places not only to post contact information, but also marketing information. Signature blocks are used to promote the person or the business. With more people using broadband connections, the signatures have gotten bigger with some even 10 - 20 lines in length. They can be used both with plain text (ASCII) or HTML e-mail messages.

What about sending a virtual business card instead? Some e-mail systems can attach a virtual business card to an e-mail message. Since these can't be read by everyone and may be seen as unwanted attachments, a regular signature is better.

What should you consider when constructing a signature? With so much variation in what people place in their signatures, here are a few things to consider when constructing (or modifying) yours:
  • Include some or all of your contact information. Some people include everything, while others just give the bare minimum (full name, telephone number and web site address/URL). Since e-mail messages that are archived as part of online discussion groups are scanned by spammers as a way of collecting e-mail addresses, many people have stopped putting their e-mail address in their signatures. They feel that the receiver of the message will know the e-mail address (in the From or Reply-To fields) and not have to look in the signature for it. If you work from home, you may decide not to place your address in your signature as a way of protecting your privacy. For example:

    Jane M. Doeh
    Tel: (555) 555-5555

      • Include your title (e.g., Mr. or Ms.) if you are communicating with people from a different area of the world/culture. We tend to assume that the people we communicate with will recognize if our name is male or female and then refer to us properly, but that is not true when dealing internationally. In order to save embarrassment, include your title (prefix).

      • Highlight what you do. Consider including a brief statement about what you do. This might be your tagline or a sentence about your services. Yes, you could make this as lengthy as you want, but you do want people to read it, so keeping it short will help. If the person wants more information, they can go to your web site or contact you directly.
        Jane M. Doeh
        Tel: (555) 555-5555
        I'll help you get your life organized.
        • Include promotional information, especially if you are offering something special (perhaps for a limited period of time). For example, if you are offering a discount, a class, a book or whatever, note that in your signature. Include a URL where the person can go for additional information.
        • Use graphical elements cautiously. It is possible to add graphical elements, but do test to see how they will look when someone receives them.

        • Test your signature. How you see your signature may not be how others see it. Send an e-mail to yourself that includes your new signature. If you have multiple e-mail accounts, send the message (with the signature) to all of your e-mail accounts so that you can see what it will look like when it is received. Some systems might truncate the long lines differently than you imagine, so doing a little testing can be useful. This, of course, will not ensure that every e-mail system treats your signature as you expect, but it will help.

        • Have a different signature for different categories of recipients. This may initially seem like more work than its worth, but it can be very helpful. For example different signatures for:
        • Personal and business correspondence
        • Existing and prospective clients
        • Types of clients (e.g., retail vs. wholesale, type of products they purchase)
        Your e-mail program will likely ask that you designate one as being your primary signature and then give you the option to change it for a specific e-mail that you are sending.
        • Change your signature frequently. It is easy to create a signature and then use it forever. However, if you change it periodically, people may pay more attention to it (and not take it for granted). Consider changing it at least a couple times a year.

        Thursday, June 02, 2005

        Free online directory of women entrepreneurs

        WISE -- Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship -- offers a free online directory of women entrepreneurs. Please place information about you and your business in the directory. And remember to search the directory when you're looking for a business resource.

        Are you already in the directory? Please check your listing to ensure that it is accurate. If it needs to be changed, upload a new listing, then send an e-mail message to sltayl03@syr.edu and tell us what old record to delete.

        Seminars for women entrepreneurs

        Women TIES (Together Inspriing Entrepreneurial Success) is beginning to offer seminars in Syracuse. For a list of upcoming events, go to this web page.

        Wednesday, June 01, 2005

        Researchers to Study Black Women Business Owners

        From Black Feminisim:
        No surprises here. Black women start businesses for different reasons than men. That’s true of women generally. From what I’ve read women value flexibility, self-sufficiency and the ability to fill a niche when they go into business (as opposed to just making a lot of money). Black women are no different in that regard.

        But a new team of researchers plans to study black women business owners (who make up 40 percent of black-owned businesses), to determine what makes them succeed, how women business owners define success, and how to support other black women owned businesses.