December 2008

Pre-Venture Training to Get a Great Start – RESBDC Workshops

The Redwood Empire Small Business Development Center offers these three low-cost workshops for everyone considering their own business venture:

Pre-Venture training is a series of training sessions on business fundamentals for people who have developed a business concept, and initiated the planning process to start their business. Upon completion of modules I,II,III and completion of a business plan, the attendee will be assigned a core counselor.

Upcoming dates:

Module 1: Planning and What to Consider When Starting a Business & Legal Aspects of Starting Your Business
January 5, 2009 • 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Module 2: Marketing & Financing Your Business
January 12, 2009 • 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Module 3: Developing Your Business Plan
January 26, 2009 • 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Redwood Empire Small Business Development Center, Conference Room
421 Tenth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Online Reservations Reservations Required!

Is Branding a Waste of $$$$?

Branding Only Works on Cattle by Baskin “Branding expert Baskin plays the merry iconoclast in this witty guide that marshals the latest research and a good serving of common sense to debunk branding’s many myths. The author’s claim that “branding is a waste of money” is likely to be controversial, but his research is sound and persuasive: he covers the failure of the Gap’s Red campaign, the useless Burger King mascot, why Starbucks’ success has nothing to do with branding, and he revisits Coke and Pepsi’s rivalry, which culminated in their multimillion-dollar dueling ads featuring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera that had scant effect on sales. Baskin’s understanding of consumer behavior is nuanced and sophisticated, as are his explanations for why branding myths have so perniciously persisted (he draws parallels between the longevity of outmoded marketing strategies and that of Ptolemy’s geocentric concept of the universe). Baskin is impatient with the resources and energy poured into branding, and readers will be, too, when they realize how little it influences consumer choices—and his well-reasoned, well-written book will garner him a wide and appreciative audience.” PW September 2008

Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known (and Drive Your Competitors Crazy), by Jonathan Salem Baskin

Bravo Roederer Estates Wine

Always happy to see a local business in the national press, SCL Biz was pleased to see Anderson Valley’s Roederer Estate NV Brut mentioned in a short list of sparkling wines published in the December issue of ForbesLife.  Headlined ‘The Sure Bet” the wine is described as “… affordable, reliable, sold everywhere, and, best of all, a treat to drink: fresh, lively, and chock-full of juicy yellow apple and pear flavors.” Cheers!

Consumer Expenditure Surveys

The United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics produces a wealth of statistics for marketing plans and business proposals – you just have to be willing to work a little for the information. The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program consists of two surveys, the quarterly Interview Survey and the Diary Survey, that provide information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. The survey data are collected for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Most of the stats are at the national level, some at the regional (interesting to compare, for instance, home ownership, auto expenses, etc., between West, Midwest, South and Northeast). You can compare expenditures in numerous categories (food, telecommunications, housing, etc.) by various groups (age, ethnicity, income, etc.). Stats can also be compared over a number of surveys – the most recent  data is 2006.

Visit the SCL Biz Guide to Internet Resources for more good websites.

101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home

101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home by Sweeney
101 Internet Businesses You Can Start from Home: How to Choose and Build Your Own Successful e-Business, by Susan Sweeney [Maximum Press, 2009].

“Starting with a guide to defining what is most important—time with family, a flexible schedule, financial freedom, and risk levels—this study moves into an investigation of how online business works, followed by profiles of 101 proven ideas guaranteed to fuel entrepreneurial thinking. From getting started in online and offline promotion, this handbook is sure to accommodate all needs and interests. The guidebook also includes a password that provides access to the companion website, offering the latest internet business news, expanded information, and additional online resources.”

The SCL Biz Guide to Starting a Business has more help for anyone starting a business.

200 Best Small Companies

If you’re looking for inspiration to grow your own small business, check out the Forbes Magazine story (10/27/2008) and list of the 200 Best Small Companies. From #1 GeoResources, an oil and gas exploration company, to #200 Home Diagnostics, that develops glucose monitoring systems for diabetics, it’s a fascinating cross-section of our economy.

Forbes 200 Best Small Companies

And for more help visit the SCL Biz Guide to Starting a Business.

Using Facebook to Grow Your Business

Facebook Marketing by Holzner “With more than 80,000,000 affluent, savvy members, Facebook is today’s fastest-growing marketing opportunity! But traditional marketing methods won’t work here. In Facebook Marketing, best-selling author Steven Holzner reveals new social marketing techniques that do work, and shows you exactly how to make the most of them. Using true case studies, Holzner introduces powerful new techniques from today’s smartest Facebook marketers…and helps you avoid pitfalls that can cost you money and credibility. No matter what business you’re in, you’ll learn how to create bottom-up, “viral” Facebook marketing programs that achieve maximum results at minimum cost!

  • Crafting your Facebook profile for maximum impact
  • Getting into the Facebook community: crucial dos and don’ts
  • Joining the right Facebook Groups—or starting your own
  • Creating a Facebook blog that attracts paying customers
  • Promoting products and services with free Facebook Marketplace classifieds
  • Hosting your own Facebook events: from company picnics to concerts
  • Successfully advertising on Facebook, without overspending
  • Promoting your business within today’s most popular Facebook applications
  • Tracking the results of your advertising
  • Using brand-new viral video marketing techniques
  • Driving even more Web traffic to your Facebook pages
  • Building your own Facebook applications”

Facebook Marketing: Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business, by Steven Holzner [Que, 2008]

Use the SCL Biz Guide to Growing a Business for more marketing suggestions.

Let the Power of Google Help Your Business Planning

Google Insights for Search can help you figure out what people are interested in and what they’re buying and how they’re searching for your product or service. Type in a search term or a product name and see where searches are originating and what search terms are being used.

You can also search by:

  • Category: Narrow data to specific categories, like finance, health, and sports [e.g., apple in the Food and Drink category in the US]
  • Seasonality: Anticipate demand for your business so you can budget and plan accordingly. [e.g., hotel in 2007, 2008]
  • Geographic: Know where to find your customers. See how search volume is distributed across regions and cities [e.g., ski in Australia vs. Switzerland]

Google Insights for Search

6 Steps to Free Publicity

6 Steps to Free Publicity by Yudkin

“Want the world to know who you are, what your company offers, or the urgency of your cause? With the popularity of the Internet, it’s never been easier for an ordinary Jane or Joe to use publicity to spread the word. Whether you want to attract new business, establish yourself as an expert, build your company’s reputation, or introduce a new concept to the community, free publicity is the cheapest, most credible way to do it. This thoroughly updated edition of 6 Steps to Free Publicity, by Marcia Yudkin [Career Press, 2008], includes detailed tips and techniques for utilizing 21st century grassroots publicity techniques–from blogs and social media to viral videos and podcasting – along with the basics of earning ink or air time. It also covers:

  • Getting started–how to overcome fears, feel comfortable with fame, and think up newsworthy publicity angles.
  • How to write tip sheets, pitch letters, articles, and news releases that roll out your message and keep you in people’s minds and files.
  • How to perform on radio, TV, or the Web like a pro.
  • Publicity writing tips that ensure you’ll be easily found online through search engines.
  • Strategies for building an audience of fervent fans online or within a geographical or special-interest community.”

The SCL Biz Guide to Growing A Business can help you with more great ideas for advertising, publicity, and marketing.

More Insight – At the State Level

“Created by the International Business Center at Michigan State University, globalEDGE™ is a knowledge web-portal that connects international business professionals worldwide to a wealth of information, insights, and learning resources on global business activities.”

Known for their international business research they have now turned their attention to US states. Choose a state and, “In addition to demographic, economic, and historical information on each state, you will find data on corporations with headquarters in each state, and links to state-specific resources.”  SCL Biz found it especially interesting to look at the Foreign Direct Investment information for California (or any state) that includes all the usual stats and a section on the impact of trade on jobs, business, prosperity and revenue. Excellent resource and it’s free.

globalEDGE State Insights

Looking for Insight?

If you want to check out the competition, or scout for new markets, take a look at Business Magazine’s Company Insight Center. It’s in Beta (still being tested), but seems to work well.The site profiles over 300,000 private companies (with varying amounts of information) and more than 40,000 public companies, and you will “find stock quotes and charts, news and press releases, financials and key competitors. Research compensation figures, biographies, and board relationships of key company executives. Read up-to-the-minute global sector and industry news.”

Business Week Company Insight Center

Company Search

Opening & Operating a Restaurant – SCORE Workshop

“You will be guided through every step required to open a restaurant and receive pointers about leases, concept, design and equipment,financing, hiring your personnel, menu, food production, as well as details about formalities such as taxes and licenses. In the second half, you will learn how to operate a restaurant: how to prepare quality food, how to provide efficient service, and how to create a pleasant ambiance – and make a living. You will be treated to several bits of wisdom acquired over decades in the business: No free Come-ons, no Two-for-One coupons, no personal checks, no unproductive advertising gimmicks.”

December 13, 2008 • 8:30am – 12:30pm
SRJC, 1520 Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa campus

Information and registration

Finding the Sweet Spot

Finding the Sweet Spot by Pollard Finding the Sweet Spot: The Natural Entrepreneur’s Guide to Responsible, Sustainable, Joyful Work, by Dave Pollard [Chelsea Green, 2008]

“Pollard, a longtime entrepreneurial advisor, distills his extensive experience into sound suggestions in this useful and much-needed book. According to the author, too many individuals hesitate in creating a business in line with their goals, skills and values out of fear or a lack of self-confidence or funds. Pollard argues that entrepreneurship need not imply stress or risk, and he coaches readers through the process of identifying their passion, choosing the right collaborators and discovering unmet needs in the marketplace. Helpful charts and exercises guide the reader in finding where their purpose, passions and gifts intersect; and bite-sized case studies of entrepreneur success studies abound and help illustrate his points. Along the way, Pollard warns against settling for work that is anything less than satisfying. The ideal job—what he calls “natural enterprise” or the “sweet spot”—is an innovative business that touches people’s lives. Pollard gives an insightful overview of the entrepreneurial process, and the book itself stands testament to the success of the author’s methods. ” PW 2008