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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Taking Advantage of the Internet for your Business: Do's and Don'ts

Trisha Torrey's listed the "do's" from her WISE session on her web site, along with additional information. Even if you think that you do it all, this is a list worth reviewing.

Her second tip is,"DO provide content that is clear and concise." We often use too many words and talk around a subject. Our readers, however, want the facts without reading though tons of stuff. Earlier this month, Seth Godin wrote, "If you're writing for strangers, make it shorter." His take-away:
the stuff you're putting online or in your blog or in your brochures or in your business letters is too long. Too much inside baseball. Too many unasked questions getting answered too soon.
Keep it clear, concise and to the point.

By the way, Trisha Torrey has also written columns on using your web site for marketing and those are available here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

13 Niches to Investigate

MSNBC ran an article recently written by Entrepreneur.com entitled "13 Niches to Investigate for Your Part-Time Business." (Actually, there are people who do these full-time, but that wasn't the focus of the article.) And what are the 13 niches?
  • Personal services
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Outdoor recreation work
  • Pet services
  • Feng shui consulting
  • Alternative health services
  • Grooming services
  • Spiritual work
  • Senior-focused services.
  • Business writing and services
  • Home design and services
  • Culinary services
Read the article for details on each. Maybe you'll be inspired to great a new business that matches your passion!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Business Plan Resource Support Site

Bird Library at Syracuse University maintains a site that is designed to be used in conjunction with" The Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans" produced by the Department of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises. The site includes resources that can be used in gathering information for the various sections of a business plan. If you are writing or updating your business, then you might want to check out this site to see if you could benefit from any of the resources listed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time for you

You're a woman entrepreneur who is working hard to build an enterprise that wisely uses resources to create an expanding business. Likely you're finding that you are working all the time. Can you find time just for you?

The Royal Bank of Canada addresses this topic on its web site in a section entitled "Time For You." Time for you includes sections on "time" as well as sections on "financial planning." The topics covered are:
  • We all Need Vacations: Get the Most out of Yours
  • Achieving Work-Life Balance
  • How to Have a Debt-Free Christmas
  • Holiday Survival Techniques
  • Dream of a Chocolate Holiday
  • Ten Steps to Managing Your Time
  • Balancing Work and Life
  • Tips for Self-Nurturing
  • Use the Good Dishes - Finding Joy in Everyday Life
  • Escaping the Superwoman Trap
  • Financial Fitness for Couples
  • 12 Fast Financial Planning Tips for Women
  • Protecting Your Assets Part 1: Estate Planning Pitfalls
  • Protecting Your Assets Part 2: ABC's of Estate Planning
The Ten Steps to Managing Your Time are excellent. They include:
  1. Prioritize
  2. Delegate to qualified people
  3. Share work with friends
  4. Use time-saving technology
  5. Outsource
  6. Empower others to share in the workload
  7. Create an open-door policy
  8. Multi-task
  9. Get a good night's sleep
  10. Invest in "me" time
Check the web site to read about each suggestion.

Welcome to Expanding a Business (and more on risk-taking)

On the Royal Bank of Canada web site is a helpful section on Expanding a Business. The section includes the following topics:
  • Making the decision
  • Develop your strategy
  • Making growth happen
  • After the expansion
Under "Making the decision" is a discussion on "risk and rewards." The risks include:
For example, the personal risks in expanding a business include impact on ones health as well as adverse impact on ones family. The Bank believes that many risks can be mitigated through planning. For example, an entrepreneur might plan family time so that it continues to occur, or plan how to overcome awkwardness that comes with growing pains. Perhaps everything can be planned away, which is why the Bank also notes that one must be able to tolerate the stress and discomfort that will come with risks and business expansion.

The section on risk and business expansion is very interesting to read. The information is clear and applicable to businesses outside of Canada.

Also on the Royal Bank of Canada's site is a business "solutions center," which this information on expanding business is a part. The solutions center includes other sections on:
  • Starting a business
  • Business succession
  • Women entrepreneurs
  • Young entrepreneurs

Dr. Myra Hart on Risk-Taking

Dr. Myra Hart was the keynote speaker at the WISE conference in April. She is a professor at Harvard University and one of the founders of Staples.

Dr. Hart noted that risk-taking is often tied to monetary risk where business is concerned. She said that if risk-taking keeps you from getting money -- perhaps risk associated with a sale, getting a loan, etc. -- then it is a problem. In order to overcome it, you need to find ways of making the risk tolerable, if the risk cannot be eliminated.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Clueless - Part 2

On Wednesday I wrote about Seth Godin's posting called "Clueless." Also on Wednesday, Tom Peter's blog carried a similar story about United Airlines. Sadly, we tend to talk about bad customer service much more than the good.

Good customer service stands out to us when we're given what we don't expect. That may be a smile, a suggestion, or assistance. It occurs when a business remembers that we are its customers and the ones that help it pay its bills.

Unfortunately, when customer service is good, it is often unnoticed because out attention is drawn to bad customer service. For example, when you are at a diner for breakfast and the coffee keeps coming, you don't really notice. You are able to pay attention to eating and the conversation (or the newspaper) rather to trying to get more coffee. You do, however, notice when your coffee cup in empty and the wait staff is nowhere in sight.

Do you want to be remembered for giving bad customer service? Can you build your business so that good customer service is the standard, and often employees go the extra mile and make that good customer service stand out? Remember...it's your customers that pay your bills. Without them (and their repeat business and recommendations), you wouldn't be in business.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Clueless

Seth Godin has a blog posting entitled "Clueless" about customer service. He tells several stories, with the best about the treatment of a elderly woman who has used the same bank for 70 years. (You'll need to read the posting for the story, I don't want to spoil it.)

Of course, this brings up the question of how clueless we are in serving our own customers. Do we do things that drive customers away rather than drawing them towards us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

African American Women and Entrepreneurship

In February, the National Women'’s Business Council (NWBC) published a series of facts about businesses owned by African American women. Among those facts was this:
The ten states with the highest survival rates from 1997 to 2000 among African American women-owned employer establishments were: Oklahoma (89% survival); New York (87%); Arizona (83%); Maryland (81%); Nebraska (81%); Alabama (79%); Michigan (78%); Wisconsin (78%); Pennsylvania (77%); and Washington (77%).
Overall the NWBC reported both positives and negatives that these businesses are facing. The most overwhelming positive is that businesses owned by African American women exist AND are having a positive impact.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Describe the clouds

One story that has circulated this week about Peter Jennings is how his father made him describe the clouds when he was a child. The lesson he was teaching was that you had to be able to describe what you were seeing and be able to distinguish "this" from "that."

We often describe things too simply and assume that our listeners will get the full picture. Instead -- as Jennings learned -- you need to keep the explanation simple, yet endeavor to build a complete picture. Sometimes that meant including pictures, sounds and even silence.

As you describe your products and services, think of new words to use and new stories to tell. Find ways of keeping your explanations simple, yet meaningful.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Event: Oct. 15 - Nov. 19: Start-Up: Syracuse Entrepreneur's Bootcamp

Anyone who has ever wondered if they have what it takes for entrepreneurship can find out at Start-Up: Syracuse Entrepreneur's Bootcamp, presented by Syracuse University's Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship. In its third year, Start-Up is a series of intensive education sessions designed to help entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs develop the skills necessary to take their idea or existing venture to the next level.

For six Saturday mornings starting Oct. 15, Start-Up attendees will be trained on topics like developing a business concept, creating winning business plans and making smart decisions on the critical financial, legal and marketing tactics for victory in a competitive market. Start-Up's curriculum is built from key elements of SU's program in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises, offered in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. A team of faculty and guest instructors provide fun and interactive hands-on experiences tailored to train participants how to grow ventures with impact. Participants learn approaches that create results, and how to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes. Start-Up is a solution for busy professionals who do not have the time or resources to enroll in a full-time entrepreneurship program.

Instructor Bill Walsh is excited about this year's series. "It is an outstanding opportunity for people who have started a business, or who are considering it, to get everything they need in one program," he says. "There is nothing easy about being in business today - this gives you the tools you need to survive." Walsh is an assistant professor in the accounting department at SU and a partner in a leading Central New York accounting firm. This is his third year as an instructor.

No business background is required to attend Start-Up. The only requirements are curiosity and a driving desire to learn more about entrepreneurship. A $600 fee covers tuition, and a limited number of $200 scholarships and $600 Metropolitan Development Association scholarships are available to qualified applicants. Sessions take place in the Whitman School's building, Oct. 15, 22 and 29 and Nov. 5, 12 and 19, from 8:30 a.m.-noon. The registration and scholarship deadlines are Sept. 23, and space is limited.

Start-Up: Syracuse Entrepreneur's Bootcamp is presented in partnership with Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC, KeyBank, the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and CNY, and the Central New York Business Journal. Community sponsors for Start-Up are City of Syracuse UBOC, CNY Technology Development Association and the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on Start-up: Syracuse Entrepreneur's Bootcamp, or to register, visit
http://whitman.syr.edu/eee/falcone/bootcamp/ or call 443-3550.

QUESTIONS? CONTACT:
- Shelly Heinrich
- Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship
- Suite 116 Whitman School

Phone: 443-3550
Email: sltayl03@syr.edu
URL: http://whitman.syr.edu/eee/falcone/bootcamp/

Friday, August 05, 2005

How much is that discount and what does free mean?

An organization in the region is doing a raffle at an upcoming meeting and members are being asked to donate free or discounted services to be used in the raffle. Hopefully the raffle will spark conversation among members as well as get the members to know and use each other's services more.

Looking at the messages circulating about this raffle, I was reminded of an old lesson learned.
When you give away free time or give a client a discount, does the client know the value of what is being received?
We often forget to qualify the gift. For example, you might give a coupon for 15% discount off of your service, without stating what the normal price is. Without knowing the normal price, the coupon holder doesn't know the value of the coupon and how much money she is being saved.

If I give you two free hours of consulting, you may appreciate the gift, but you'll appreciate it more if I tell you what I normally charge. In fact, you might take the two free hours more seriously if you realize how much money you're saving.

Of course, we don't always want to blurt out our fees, but don't leave the person wondering. Find a tactful way of telling the person the value of your services. You might do it with a sentence on the coupon or gift certificate. You might reinforce it when the person uses your services by stating how much it would cost to do "another" hour or whatever it is.

Finally, we assume that when we give someone an opportunity to use our services at a discount rated that they will jump at the chance. Unfortunately, that isn't always true. Sometimes the service doesn't match the person or the timing isn't right. If the idea is to get someone new to use your service, then consider if you want the offer transferable. Can the person give the coupon (for example) to a friend? If yes, then you might want to mention that and remove all doubt.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The World's 100 Most Powerful Women

If you had to list off the most powerful women in the world -- living, of course -- who would you select? If you looked at someone else's list, how many names in the top ten would be familiar to you?

Forbes.com has issued its list of the world's 100 most powerful women, as well as a list of near misses. In the top ten are the presidents of the Philippines and Indonesia. Can you guess their names? Would it surprise you that the former Vice Mayor of Beijing is #2 on the list? This is definitely a list that we should get to know and women who deserve our admiration for the positions they have achieved.

Article: IRS to Put Focus On S Corporations

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The Internal Revenue Service is planning to conduct special audits of about 5,000 closely held businesses as part of a wide-ranging research program to help combat tax evasion and improve compliance.

These audits, scheduled to begin later this year, will focus on returns filed by a type of business known as an S corporation, IRS officials said this week. With a typical S corporation, the income, losses and deductions flow through directly to shareholders, instead of being taxed at the corporate level.

The IRS notes that S-Corps are "the single most popular corporate entity choice."

Read the full article for more details and reactions to this move by the IRS.