Research Resources for All Small Businesses


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This post is brought to you  by the Global Business Union

DEMOGRAPHICS

American Fact Finder
A collection of data files created from U.S. Census County Business Patterns, an annual series that provides sub national economic data by industry.
www.factfinder.census.gov

North America Industry Classification System
Standard used by Federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.
www.census.com/eos/www/naics

Economy
Free Economic, Demographic & Financial Data,Finding and downloading economic data.
www.economy.com/freelunch/

FreeDemographics
Free demographic market analysis reports.
www.freedemographics.com

EASI Demographics
Free reports based on the 2000 Census.
www.easidemographics.com

NC Rural Databank
Statistical information on North Carolina’s rural counties.
www.ncruralcenter.org/databank


GOVERNMENT RESOURCES

US Small Business Administration Website 
SBA Office of Advocacy provides research reports and statistical information on small businesses conditions in the United States.
www.sba.gov

Fedstasts
Provides a full range of official statistical information produced by more than 100 agencies that provide data and trend information on such topics as economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, farm production and more.
www.fedstats.com

Code of Federal Regulations 
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr

Internal Revenue Service 
Tax information for small businesses.
www.irs.gov/businesses/small

Laws & regulations by industry 
Provides a single access point to government services and information to help the nation’s businesses with their operations.
www.business.gov


COMPETITORS INFORMATION

Alexa
There are several toolbar functions helpful in analyzing your online competition. Alexa provides a traffic ranking, users’ site reviews, and a list of related links.
www.alexa.com

Barometer Survey
Is a quarterly survey of 600 top executives in fast-growing companies. They interpret the results – looking for trends and other hot topics among these companies.
www.barometersurveys.com

Hoovers
Basic company and industry information is available free of charge.
www.hoovers.com

Corporate Information 
Search for research reports and other information worldwide by individual company, industry, country, or state.
www.corporateinformation.com

Edgar 
You can find SEC filings for individual companies, summary information, and links to analysis.
www.edgar-online.com


INDUSTRY RESEARCH

NAICS Classification System 
New classification system for industries. Replaces SIC codes.
www.census.gov/epcd/www/naics.html

Valuation Resources 
A directory of resources which address subjects such as industry overview, issues, trends, and outlook, industry financial information and financial ratios, and compensation and salary surveys for a wide variety of industries.
www.valuationresources.com

Mc Kinsey 
Site and newsletter include reports on several functions and numerous industries. You can access full reports with a free registration.
www.mckinseyquarterly.com

ZapData
Free industry reports from Dun & Bradstreet.
www.zapdata.com

Alacra Industry Spotlights 
Detailed proprietary reviews and commentary on the best web-based sources of industry specific content previously available only to Alacra subscription customers.
www.alacrawiki.com


INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Country Market Research 
The TCC provides access to commercial and economic information to help U.S. exporters understand and evaluate opportunities.
www.tcc.export.gov

World Fact Book 
Detailed information about countries of the world including political and economic aspects.
www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook

Buy USA 
Helps U.S. companies find new international business partners in worldwide markets.
www.buyusa.gov

Market Research for Exporter 
Resources for business owners seeking to sell their products abroad.
www.export.gov/mrktresearch

US patent & Trademark Office 
Search for patents and trademarks.
www.uspto.gov

Overseas Private Investment Corp. 
OPIC helps U.S. businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports U.S. foreign policy.
www.opic.gov

US Trade & Development Agency
Advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries.
www.ustda.gov

Getting started with Social Media


Novice Level:  What you can be doing

Diving into Social Media

Just dive in

Dive all in or stick your toe in and test the waters, either way you will have to start somewhere. ick the three commonly used platforms, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and observe  how others use the sites.

How do other small businesses using social media? Depending on their goals, some use it educated, entertain and/or to engage their customers. What is your goal? To reach new customers, fantastic that is in line with every other small business in America and beyond.

Start by creating an account and take the default settings, dedicate an hour a day, to learn, listen and then leverage. The cost to you is time. However, because you are starting out it’s the most inexpensive way. It is one way to learn about more about these tools is attending webinars some free others paid(Brought to you by Rachel Levy) a site curating presentations by other businesses, far richer content as they have visuals with the how-to’. Check out content from Hubspot an Inbound Marketing firm, they have invaluable resources on this subject just to mention a few.

There is information galore online of what not to do but here is what you can do to start. Simple as the only way to leverage these tools is understanding them, not so much, technical aspect but  as another business tool.

  • Create and complete a profile on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn.
  • Invite your clients, partners, and/or vendors to follow/connect or like your business.
  • Share appropriate information that educates, engages and/or entertain your audience.
  • Absolutely measure your efforts, engagement and lead conversion to calculate your ROI.

A month of working on with the tools, you can then formulate a social media marketing plan. Check out this basic template and feel free to modify to suit your needs.

Leverage Free /Inexpensive Tools on the Web and Save Money!


It’s not having a bad product or service that causes eight out of ten startups to fail, some of the reason include,no market research and/or  not understanding the market needs. Experts will tell you startups fail because they are “under capitalized”. That’s a business school term for not having enough funds to muscle your way through the startup period. Alternatively, not having enough capital due to a run of unexpected expenses.

So coming out of the starting gate, do everything you can to preserve cash. It’s crucial to your company’s success. Of course one of the first things you need for your business is making sure you have the right technology solution.

What exactly are the right solutions?

Small Businesses can save a lot of money by leveraging technology solutions available today.

Business Fiscal responsibility.

  • A computer with enough muscle to get your tasks accomplished. What’s right for one business is often far different for another business. Graphic designers needs are different those of accountants.
  • Having the appropriate software solutions. Again, there is a lot to choose from. An expert can be helpful to you, in getting the best solution at the right price point, for your needs. Fair warning, there are a wealth tools or solutions  and it can be overwhelming, I guarantee,  you will find tools and resources you would not have thought off and hence making a decision is a challenge.
  • Good communication tools. No, this is not just having a phone line, website, email and the Internet. Having good communications tools include project management, collaboration tools, business-class Instant Messaging, Social Media networks just to mention a few.
  • Leveraging free/inexpensive solution in the arena of cloud computing. This saves you the expense of the  purchasing software for you PC/Server for your small business network. Explore the vast solutions within the Software as a Service arena. There are the questions regarding the security on these solutions, for which I say to you, someone has to take some ownership on securing your information, whether it,you or the service provider.

Example: Recently, a client, who works for non-profits, thought she got a great deal on a solution that supports the organization’s marketing effort. She paid $$$$ for it, and thought she got a good deal. When we showed her the same solution for less, she was ready to kill the messenger. And that does not take into account the time she could have saved researching on-line. Alternatively, a company with millions in revenue using a free tool to management invoicing as well as book-keeping solution.

Do not spend money, unless you really have to.

Here are some sites to check out for free tools and resources and keep your profits. Do a search on Google there are tons’ resources out there.

Let us know what works for you. The next post will list the solutions out there you can leverage and succeed in growing your business.

http://www.expensefree.com/

Check out NFIB.COM

Check out smbceo.com

We are creating a list of inexpensive solutions for small business, if you have one please post it in the comment section of this posting.

Contact us:  We will be happy to help you find and implement solutions that fit your small business.

Tel:  404-806-6817   | Fax: 404-806-0186            | Concierge at errandmanager dot com   |www.errandmanager.com

We are in the business of making sure “life” does not get in the way of your success.

“Our clients prefer a flexible, technology savvy and ultimate time defender of their precious time

Small Business Struggles and (Planning for 2011)


It’s inevitable every small business goes through  growing pains, with the exception of  the last couple of years where we don’t know who to really blame, the economy, growing pains  or lack of a market or a  combination of  two or all three factors just to mention a few.

With 2011 looming, what can we do  differently?  Top challenges that small business owners face include customer acquisitions, staffing, financing, or and cash flow management. Most businesses help themselves by addressing some key areas that are free or inexpensive small lifting.

Here are five things to start with:

1. Making sure your customers can find you ( business listings, websites plenty free options out there)

2. Embracing social media (it’s not going away your might as well they are free)

3. Educating and engaged your customer on how to effectively use your service (blogs, video,  tutorials, free if you can create them  and or get someone else like these guys to you need help).

4. You are the superstar in what you are delivering however  you need  help in some areasthat you are not great at. (Get help ..or automate as much as you can from ask around the small business community on what to do (fro mbookkeeper,webmaster ….there are many options, from (Free) interns to (may cost you) freelancer)

5. Evaluate what excites you about your business and rejuvenate your business spirit (Free schedule a meeting with yourself and evaluate what’s working and what not).

What does your 2011 To Do list look like?…Pretty much tweaking the following plans your already  have after address your business pain points.

1. Customer acquisition plan for the year

2. Marketing  plan for 2011

3. Sales strategy plan

4. Customer management and retention plan.

5.  Execute, execute! oh, did I mention execute.  Yes, execute 2000% when you can

You may not have the bandwidth to research what’s out there to help you small business however you should know there are so many free and inexpensive solutions to help you achieve this goal.  Email me at concierge at errandmanager.com with any questions you might have about the anything including  the free tools that you can help you  leverage as well as  grow your business.

One of the top most mistake entrepreneurs make is not asking for help.

The Woman Entrepreneur and Technology


With all the technology out there that is supposed to make managing our day to day life easier. It still does not add to 24 hour day although we have tried to maximize the day.

The phone has become the it tool for business, they are on steroids, apps are coming fast and furious to help the time starved woman entrepreneur.Check out some apps that tailored for busy moms on the  Android and iphone

The web has unlimited resources or tools and more women business owners should embrace them. Some business operations can easily be automated shave some time there. From email to invoicing. From employee time tracking to updating your company twitter account.

Don’t know to much about a certain business subject matter, check out webinars they are mostly an hour long and you get some basic understanding a subject matter. You will get an insight on how entrepreneurs apply these solutions and how you can successfully apply them to your business.  The best part is they are free.

You will know enough to ask good questions, when you seek an expert opinion or solution provider for implementation. For example social media, slowly businesses are getting on board, it such new business application, that most business owner do not understand or know how to implement it or what role the application would play in their business. Another good place to start is  blogs by experts in their fields.

A few Women blogs we found out on the web, we love to check out and learn from.

  • Veronica Belmont – Veronica Belmont’s Blog –  Mostly tech and gaming focused, Veronica writes with infectious, geeky enthusiasm about what’s brand new.
  • Dawn Foster  – Fast Wonder – Using a combination of her technical and business expertise, Dawn educates companies on how to get business value from being a part of online communities…without boring us to death.
  • Jenna Wortham – The New York Times Bits Blog – Before writing for The New York Times, Jenna was a culture and technology writer for Wired, and it shows. Her pieces generally focus on smartly outlining digital culture, while simultaneously showing how people are putting new technologies to use in their lives and businesses.
  • Xeni Jardin –  Xeni’s Blog –  Xeni is a stylish and well-known tech culture journalist who watches the industry with both an aesthetic and functional eye. Find her on Boing Boing.
  • Corvida Raven – SheGeeks –  Corvida vets and blogs about useful tech services and tools with an eye to what is going to make your online journey less noisy and more interesting.
  • Adria Richards – But You’re A Girl – InspiredMag called her blog fresh for a reason, because Adria takes on tech – and life – with vibrant and energetic posts.
  • Leah Culver – Leah’s Blog –  People get all hot and biscuit over Leah’s programming speak because she’s a high profile woman in a male dominated industry with an impressive list of successes to boot.
  • Barbara Coll –  Webmama – With nearly 15 years under her belt in the biz, this industry veteran has plenty of insight into what works and what won’t.

Not Getting Things Done?


There is always something getting in way. The one reason to not getting  things done is procrastination. Why do we do it?

We found this reasons on the web and they rung true here goes

  • You are procrastinating because you don’t enjoy a PART of the entire task or job.

If you’re putting off a whole project just because there’s one part you don’t want to do, figure out how you can get away without doing that part. Again, delegate it, or automate it.

  • You are procrastinating because you don’t know how to handle the task or job.

The answer will not drop in your lap. Get help — a someone to teach you how,even better, outsource it to someone who can just do it for you.

  • You are procrastinating because you simply can’t find the time.

Schedule future time to do it, or get rid of other tasks to create the time you need. If you still can’t do this, then you need to find someone to do it for you.

  • You are procrastinating because you feel stuck.

You may just need to get momentum going. Give yourself permission to do just one small part of the project only. Or do the easiest part first. This usually creates momentum, and you end up doing a lot more than you intended to!

  • You are procrastinating because you don’t really want to do what you thought you should do.

This means you may have the wrong objective or strategy in the first place! Is this something you really want to do, or do you just think you SHOULD do it? Or is it an old goal that doesn’t fit you or your business anymore? Your answer may surprise you. Let the goal go for awhile and see what happens.

  • Start Paying Attention!

Once you start paying attention to which activities you put off regularly, you’ll know sooner when to be stricter with yourself or find help to get those tasks accomplished in a more timely manner.

The To Don’t List


Lists are meant to help us meet our goals.

Much like the To-Do list. The To-Don’t  list,  is  the list you absolutely know, that there is no way you can tackle the task on that list. Be it lack of expertise or it is not the best use of your time.

As a business owner administrative tasks would be a task that falls in the category of not the best use of your time and website design is not your expertise. At home, you hate to clean  house, you are no handyman or yard work skills are not you thing and not the best use of your time. This should go on you to don’t list. Outsource this tasks. There is no price on peace of mind.

The benefit of getting this things done is the feeling of accomplishment not having to do everything yourself.

So, the To-Don’t  or To -Do list recognizes that things need to get done. You job is to determine who is the best fit for the job, you or others. Life errands need to get done but not all by you. Businesses has tasks/job are broken down into departments with experts to support them. The same structure can be applied to the personal  life.

To manage the tasks is the assistants, not you.  You create the list but you do not get to do everything on there as it would not be an effective use of your time.

1. The advantage

You will be in a position to take on new opportunities

2. Life changes

Life can turn on a dime, however you will be in a position to take it on because you do not have a back log of stuff on the back burner.

3. Your priorities are.

You are represent to life. Your priorities will be easier to handle. Nothing is pending and you can afford to put something on the pending list and it will not be a mountain because you already to care of things.

4. You can do more with less.

In the event life turns, you have a mole hill not a mountain.

5. You can say ‘no’ more confidently.

Few people like to be told no, and fewer still seem to enjoy saying it to someone else. By drafting a to-don’t list, you can be more confident that the items you are saying no to truly can wait, or can be done by someone else other than you.

6. You have more options.

You may be able to cut back without the mole growing to a mountain.

7. The list are more useful than ever

They help you get more done  with what you have at present time or whatever resources you have and when the lean times come, you can cut back with less items on the to do list.

Life is good!

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