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

Monday, October 30, 2006

beetlegrass: 17 things that I've learned over the past years

This freelance illustrator has put together 17 things she (Megan Jeffery) has learned while being in business for herself over the past 17 years. It is a list everyone should read. For example, under # 13, Jeffery writes:
Don't panic. Panic causes productivity and creativity to come to screeching halt.
And under #15, she says:
Do not abdicate your role as CEO of your company to your agent, or to your accountant, or to whomever else has a piece of your business.
What are you waiting for? Go read!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Insight CNY: Dame Anita Roddick

Yesterday was the Insight CNY event at the SU Schine Student Center. There was a panel discussion with several business people, then the keynote by Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. In 2003, Anita Roddick was awarded the titled Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II and now carries the title of “Dame.” Despite the title, she is a down-to-earth person. She is passionate about businesses being change agents. She is a social activist. She is creative, well-read, well-traveled, funny and irreverent. Anita has succeeded and wants to use her success to help others.

Undoubtedly each person who attended the event (and there were more than 300 people there) took away different thoughts from her presentation. Below are ideas and thoughts that I captured in my notes:
  • Syracuse needs to stand for something. It needs to develop something that is unique and capitalize on it. (Or capitalize on some quality that is already has.)

  • The role of mayors – at least in Europe – is to go out and see what other cities are doing. Then bring back that information to their own cities in order to help their city improve.

  • Why is it that success is only measured by a company’s profit & loss statement? Anita created a business that took stands on important human rights issues. How do the accountants and investment analysts measure that?

  • Entrepreneurs march to the beat of a different drummer. They are often outsiders, dreamers, and doers. (She listed other qualities, but I didn’t get them written down.)

  • Entrepreneurs are pathologically optimistic.

  • To be an entrepreneur is to be a survivalist.

  • Entrepreneurship is livelihood creation.

  • Being 20 times bigger is not a goal. Being better by being value-led is.

  • Business is about trading. We trade product for money with our customers. We also trade with our suppliers. At lunch, Anita talked briefly about businesses in South Africa that are built on trading ("this" for "that"). The business models those businesses use do not allow them to be seen as formal businesses, yet they create livelihoods.

  • “The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.” – Gunther Grass

  • We were searching for employees, but people showed up instead. One of the things Anita learned was that she was able to create businesses (e.g., factories) in areas with high unemployment. She was also able to create relationships with suppliers in Africa and South America that were beneficial to those local economies. And she was able to create services that her employees needed (e.g., daycare, although that’s not what they called it).

  • She worked with groups that businesses are not used to working with. For example, she formed alliances with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGOs are democratic entities generally formed around a focused set of goals, and having no affiliation with governments. She also worked with -- and learned from -- Quaker business owners and said she admired their honest business practices.

  • As a business grows it will become less intimate, create more rules, and be less creative. Businesses need to find ways to grow while keeping the qualities of a small business.

  • Dialogue is important and should be honored.

  • Enthusiasm can’t be taught, it must be caught.

  • Businesses need to have a social agenda.

  • Direct selling helps shave away loneliness. (The Body Shop does have a program to sell direct to consumers in their own homes. One of the Body Shop at Home people was at the event from Massachusetts. This has not yet spread to the Syracuse region.)

  • The Body Shop was a communications company. Anita says that because the company was passionate about communicating its values as well as the issues it cared about. Its advertisements were often thought provoking and not about its products, but about social change.

  • We need to create apprenticeship opportunities for young people and help them recognize “the trades” as rewarding and valuable careers.

  • I don’t know if Anita mentioned it during her presentation, but she values public art. Public art can lift the spirits of a community. It can become the focal point of the community.

  • Anita was not “schooled” in business when she started the Body Shop. As with every business owner, if she had known then what she knows now, she would have done some things differently. Perhaps it is because of her naiveté that she built the successful business that she did. Knowing too much can lead people to inaction.

  • Finally, I was struck by the phrase she used to describe the Body Shop. The Body Shop is a multi-local company. In other words, the Body Shop operates globally, yet in each location it thinks and acts locally.
After her presentation, Anita did a book signing of Business As Unusual: My Entrepreneurial Journey, Profits With Principles. Originally published in 2001, this new edition brings the story of her entrepreneurial journey up-to-date. She signed books and talked to people for a long time. It was obvious that she connected with many people in the audience.

How will the discussion continue that was started at Insight CNY? Hopefully everyone who was at the event will go back to their offices and homes, and talk about the ideas that they heard. Hopefully businesses will take a moment to think about the differences they could make in their communities AND then strive to make those differences. Hopefully each person will recognize her-/himself as a agent of real social change. And...yes...hopefully more entrepreneurial dreams were sparked and will emerge (along with the funding to support them).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Event: Small Business Training Program adds session on Nov. 29

The SSIC Enterprise Management Institute (EMI) is conducting a multi-week training program. The programs are held on Wednesdays from 12 noon - 1:15 p.m. at the South Side Innovation Center. (more info)

A session has been added on Nov. 29 entitled "Internet & Business Research." Businesses require good, up-to-date information to fuel their decision-making processes. This session will give business people some of the tools needed in order to conduct their own research on their markets, industries and competitors. The hour will include:

* The information life-cycle
* Overview of Internet search engines
* Tips for locating "hidden" information on the Internet
* The benefits of using a fee-based service for locating information (and how to access them)
* How to locate and tap into people to gather needed information (e.g., experts, surveys, etc.)
* Other resources

The South Side Innovation is located on South Salina St. in Syracuse, next to Dunk & Bright Furniture.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Do your employees treat your business as if they were owners?

Owners care about how a business functions. Owners want the business to succeed. Owners will engaged prospective customers, talk up the business, and see marketing opportunities everywhere. Owners will care about using resources efficiently and effectively.

Unfortunately, sometimes employees don't have the same passion.

For example, at a recent business show, I walked up to one booth where there were at least four employees standing (and only one engaged with another prospect). I looked at the merchandise, handled it, and looked at the booth staff (who were talking to each other). I didn't ask for help because someone should have seen that I was interested (and I was interested). After several minutes, I finally walked away with my questions unanswered.

These employees weren't hungry. They knew that their next paycheck was "in the mail." An owner, however, knows that her next paycheck is coming from the customers (figuratively speaking). Without the customers buying anything, the business will not make money and the owner will be the first person to see and feel the impact.

So today look at your employees and ask yourself if they have the same passion as you do about your business. If they don't, talk to them and find ways to instill it in them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Notes from Connections 2006

On October 12 was the Connections conference held at SUNY Oswego. The event was "designed to bring women of all ages and backgrounds together to explore their entrepreneurial place and power in the Arts, business world, and various fields of Science." There were panel discussions with women in business, in the arts and in science (including a woman who is a real life forensic scientist, like on CSI), and two keynote speakers:
  • Dr. Lois Frankel -- author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office and Nice Girls Don't Get Rich
  • Dr. Mona Lake Jones -- writer, orator and educator, who has been poet laureate for the city of Seattle and for King County (WA)
Lois Frankel asked the audience about the rules that existed in our households as we were growing up. Those rules often impact people and their careers.
  • What were the rules that everyone was expected to use?
  • What rules applied only to the boys in the house?
  • What rules applied only to the girls?
Girls are often taught to be nice, yet being nice is not sufficient for success. More is needed and expected. Frankel is not against being nice, but says that a woman needs to develop other qualities in order to succeed.

Here are some quick tips & thoughts from her talk:
  • You need to be among the first 2 - 3 people to speak in any meeting in order to have a presence and impact.
  • When you give an opinion, do not form it as a question. That gives someone else permission to own what you have said.
  • Men negotiate, are realistic, delegate and manage expectations. (Women are expected to be miracle workers.)
  • You need to build your brand.
  • Leap and the net will appear.
Mona Lake Jones wove words of wisdom with storytelling and poetry. Tips:
  • When you're down, plan how you are going to get up.
  • Keep a pocketful of coping skills.
  • Kindness is magnetic.
Several books were mentioned during the day-long event, including:
Along with the speakers, there were several vendors who exhibited, provided information and sold merchandise. It was wonderful to see women-owned businesses being given exposure at an event like this!

Connections hopes to become a yearly event. Keep your eyes open for information on Connections 2007.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Article: Microloan Pioneer and His Bank Win Nobel Peace Prize

Within the last year, Syracuse University has worked to create a microcredit loan program in Syracuse. This type of loan was begun and popularized by Muhammad Yunus. Now Mr. Yunus has won the Nobel Peace Prize. The New Yotk Times states:
Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize...for their pioneering use of tiny, seemingly insignificant loans -- microcredit -- to lift millions out of poverty.
In a press release from the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which awards the Nobel Peace Prize, they say:
Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.
Congratulations to Mr. Yunus and the Grameen Bank! His work and truly been felt around the world.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Online video clips on entrepreneurship, leadership & business

Do you wonder want entrepreneurs and businesspeople have said on different topics? Would you be interested in learning from a diverse group of entrepreneurs while sitting in front of your computer?

Over the last 10 years, the Cornell University Department of Applied Economics & Management has been interviewing entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Those interviews are available online in the form of "e-clips" -- short video clips on specific topics culled from longer interviews. The collection is searchable and open to anyone to use for their personal education (in other words, non-commercial use). The collection includes women and men from many different industries giving information and advice, sharing stories, and letting us learn from them.

You must register (free) to use the site. Once you've registered, you will be amazed at the world that will open up to you.

WISE Center

On Oct. 11, the business community in the region celebrated Syracuse University receiving a major federal grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to support a new Women’s Business Center (WBC) that will be housed within the University's South Side Innovation Center (SSIC). This new center is called the WISE Center (WISE stands for Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship). You can read more about the WISE Center here.

As SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor said yesterday:
Entrepreneurship is a powerful force that can transform a community. Women-owned businesses comprise more than half of all new start-up businesses and generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year. Now, in previously under-served area like Syracuse’s South Side, women who dream of starting and growing their own business will have access to the resources and expertise to make their dreams come true and to transform not only their own lives, but also their community.
The Center will serve women from all parts of Onondaga County and will also provide services to men. Check the WISE Center web site for more information on the Center's services, as the information becomes available.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Event: Women Who Can

Women Who Can
Wednesday, October 25
5:00 to 7:30 PM
The Corinthian Club
930 James Street
Syracuse, NY

Our first social gathering was a rousing success. Please join us again for drinks, a light dinner, and a chance to visit with friends and business associates. Feel free to bring a business colleague to this unique and fun social gathering.

Cost: $15, includes cash bar and a light dinner buffet

RSVP: by October 18 by calling 422-9918

Monday, October 02, 2006

Workshops from the Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union

Retail 101 workshop
Description: Learn basic information, as well as tips and tricks, about starting your own retail business.
Date/Time: October 4, 6:00-8:00pm
Location: Westcott DayHab center, 512 Westcott St., Syracuse NY 13210
Space is limited; to register, contact Nick at 471-1116 ext. 223 by October 2nd.


Credit Repair for Entrepreneurs workshop
Description: Learn information about improving your credit to benefit your current or potential small business.
Date/Time: November 14, 6:00-8:00pm
Location: Southwest Economic Business Resource Center, 506 W. Onondaga St., Syracuse NY 13204
Space is limited; to register, contact Lori at 471-2720.

Sponsored by Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union and the Southwest Economic Business Resource Center