BUSINESS RESOURCE FROM AARP: Visit the AARP Small Business
Center at http://www.aarpsmallbiz.com. Topics include access to
capital, human resources, legal and tax info, sales & marketing,
BANKS. Visit Gomez.com at http://www.gomez.com for ratings
of online banks, brokerages, real estate agencies and mortgage
|GRANTS. From time
to time I'm asked about obtaining a grant to start or expand a
business. Although tough to come by it is possible to find grants
depending on your type of business. Many foundations provide funding
in the form of grants. Check "The Foundation Directory" at your
local library or visit their website at http://fdncenter.org to
find out what foundations may have an interest in your specific
business. The Foundation Center may also be reached at 212 620
ACCOUNT NOTE. A common question asked by merchants accepting
credit cards is, “Must I return merchandise even if I have a no-return
policy?” Visa and Mastercard both assume any purchase is returnable.
However, if you – the merchant – make it clear at the time of
purchase (and on the customer receipt) that there are no refunds
allowed Visa or Mastercard will not allow a chargeback.
FINANCING. Don't forget your credit union! Nearly all credit
unions allocate some percentage of their total assets to commercial
SHIPPING RATES on www.smartship.com. Very useful resource.
In addition you can also track packages that have been sent via
FedEx, UPS, Airbourne, or Express Mail.
ACCOUNTS. One of the most often asked questions is where to
get a merchant account (for internet/telephone based businesses).
I don't have all the details but here is a VERY good possibility
to check out. Costco has a program that is available to their
"Executive Membership," which cost $100/year. Anyone can be a
member. Members have access to a merchant program (Visa,MC, AmEx)
at a discount rate of 1.89% plus 25-cent transaction fee, These
are EXCELLENT rates. Furthermore, only $25 application fee and
NO other periodic charges. Lastly, if you have software (like
icVerify) you may use it with this program. We're going to switch!
This is a great bargain. Check it out. Call Costco at 1 (800)
220 6000. Remember, read about it here first!
RATES. Keep a close eye on your long-distance telephone rates.
As we have noted previously, they can change without notice! Also,
if your calling patterns change significantly, contact your long-distance
carrier since you may be eligible for lower rates.
GOV BUSINESS - PASS
(Procurement Automated Source System) has been an important data
base for small businesses wishing to do business with the government.
PASS is being absorbed into a new program called, PRO-Net administered
by the SBA. The process is easier than ever - you can now register
online. Visit PRO-Net at http://pro-net.sba.gov or go to the SBA
site at http://www.sba.gov and click on PRO-Net.
GSA has awarded contracts to six credit card companies to provide
additional charge cards to government agencies. Federal employees
will use these cards to buy everything from pencils to computers.
In 1997 the government purchased 8.5 Billion dollars of goods
and services using credit cards. Be ready. Ensure you have a merchant
account and are able to accept credit cards in payment for your
services or products.
WISELY - SAVE TAXES! Did you know that if you hire welfare
recipients, teens from low-income families, disabled workers,
and some veterans, you can receive big tax credits? I said credits,
not deductions - i.e., dollar for dollar reduction in your tax
bill. Hire a welfare recipient, for example, and receive a tax
credit of $3,500 against the first $10,000 in wages paid. Get
details at 1 (888) 872 5621
HISTORY. You should check your credit history with the major
national credit bureaus at least once a year. Call or write to
get a copy of your report.
Experian, PO Box 2350, Chatsworth, CA 91313. 1-800-392-1122
TransUnion, PO Box 7000, N. Olmstead, OH 44070. 312-408-1400
Equifax, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374. 1-800-685-1111
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. There is a new way for small companies
to ensure they are visible to government purchasing agents - it's
called Central Contractor Registration or CCR. The government
uses the CCR data internally to expedite the exchange of information
among the various Agencies looking for business sources. The advantage
of CCR is that your small business is on equal footing with the
big guys. You no longer have to register with every local procurement
office to gain bid access to possible contracts of interest. To
register your company into the CCR, visit their website at http://ccr.edi.disa.mil/ccr/.
Registration will require that you have a DUNS number. You may
obtain a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet at 1 (800) 333 0505.
Speaking of DUNS, you should get a DUNS number even if you are
not interested in pursuing Government business. Many of your potential
customers may check D&B to see if you are a "real business." The
DUNS number will allow D&B to identify your business. Get the
number - it's free and takes about 2-minutes over the telephone.
You are given the number immediately.
ETIQUETTE. Don't commit the absolute worst phone sin of all
- putting a caller on hold. The caller's time is as important
as yours. If you have call waiting, get rid of it now. The customer
that you are speaking with is the most important customer at that
SECURITY INFO. Your social security records are important
(especially in light of possible Year 2000 problems!). Get a current
copy by calling the Social Security Administration at 1 (800)
772 1213 and ask for a "Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate
Statement," Form SSA-7004 or get one over the internet at http://www.ssa.gov
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. NASA has a couple of programs of interest
to small businesses. The Small Business Innovation Research program
(SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
The general objective of the SBIR Program is to provide increased
opportunities for small businesses to participate in federal research
and development. The goal of the Congress in establishing the
STTR program is to transfer technology developed by universities
and federal labs into the private marketplace through the entrepreneurship
of a small business. Learn more about these programs at http://sbir.nasa.gov.
U.S.P.O. Don't automatically think the UPS is always the best
choice for shipping at the lowest cost. Many companies that do
a lot of shipping (such as Home Shopping Club an Nieman-Marcus)
are switching to the Postal Service as their preferred carrier.
The reason is cost. UPS is not small business friendly anymore
- home businesses no longer get the lower commercial rates. Consider
the USPO when shipping - we use them almost exclusively and only
resort to UPS if we need really speedy delivery and are willing
to pay the price. Also, the USPO is getting very service oriented
- in fact starting in 1999 there will be tracking services. Get
with it UPS before its too late.
The Public Record Research Library (CD-ROM's and books) contains
titles whose content is based on a variety of public records.
Great for doing research! (800) 929 3811. BRB Pubs., 4653 S Lakeshore
#3, Tempe, AZ 85282
For those with MERCHANT CARD ACCOUNTS, don't forget that Visa
and Mastercard regulations do NOT permit you to charge a premium
for credit card payments. You may, however, give a discount for
Don't forget to periodically review your insurance program. Many
companies are over-insured, have duplicate coverage, of have deductibles
that are too high or too low. Check your policies and if you have
been with the same insurer for a few years, get some new bids.
is a neat TIME-SAVING TIP from Jonathan Ment, Tannersville, NY:Tear
articles of interest out of your favorite magazines and drop them
in a "read while waiting" folder. Recycle the rest of the magazine.
Keep the folder in your briefcase or bag, and read the pertinent
articles while waiting at banks, checkout lines, post offices,
Need to convert one currency into another? Try out this site:
http://www.xe.net/currency which contains a very easy to use form.
Trying to find out who belongs to a phone number? Searching for
a phone number? Try out this fantastic resource: http://www.555-1212.com/white_us.htm
The potential problems associated with computers that are not
Year 2000 compliant are getting a lot of attention and they should
be. It's going to be a mess. As a small business owner, here are
a few items to consider to help keep your business running smoothly:
1. Contact your
suppliers to ensure they will be able to ship your orders even
in the event their computers fail due to Y2K problems.
2. Call your payroll
processing service to ensure they are Y2K compliant.
3. Ask your security
system supplier if your installation is Y2K compliant.
4. Determine if
your cash register (and other point of sale equipment) will
operate properly after 12/31/99.
5. Check to ensure
that your business liability insurance policy will cover any
losses due to Y2K-related problems. Don't take this lightly,
there are going to be a lot of law suits over Y2K-related problems.
6. Ensure that your
computer hardware and all software are Y2Kcompliant.
7. Check with your
merchant card account provider to ensure Y2K compliance.
TIP: Anyone concerned about employees or family members calling
undesirable exchanges (such as 809, 900 or 926 numbers) can request
"call blocking" from their local telephone company.
is always a concern for the small and home business owner. In
most cases your homeowners insurance policy WILL NOT protect business
assets or provide liability coverage. A "small business" policy
can provide liability coverage, business property coverage, loss
of valuable papers and accounts receivable records. If you're
a member of AARP check out their home business insurance program.
Also look to RLI Insurance at http://www.rlicorp.com.
Wells Fargo bank, San Francisco, CA., has a new multi-year program
for women entrepreneurs that offers loans ($5K and up) to start
a business. Check with the bank or the National Association of
Women Business Owners for details.
The internet is a vast knowledge base ... it's just hard to find
what you need! Check out these amazing resources ...
Dictionary by Webster. Search for a word or phrase. This is
a fantastic and very handly resource! Click on "Thesarus" and
get a list of synonyms for your word.
Bartlett's familiar quotations. Search is available which will
list every quotation containing a selected word(s).
Roget's Thesarus. Handier and faster than the "real thing."
The Old Farmers Alamac. No kidding. It even LOOKS like the alamac.
My Virtual Reference Desk An amazing amount of information.
Check it out - there is too much to list here.
Some distracting homepage graphics but get past that and the
information available is very useful and easy to find.
an area code, an address, a location somewhere in the U.S.? Try
this fantastic resource: http://www.555-1212.com/aclookup.html
Be careful about the number of credit cards you accumulate including
Visa, MC, gasoline, retail stores,etc. If you are trying to obtain
bank financing for your small business, the bank will frequently
add up the total credit available from ALL your cards and this
can hurt your chances for approval. Get rid of the cards you don't
use and check your credit rating from time to time by contacting
the credit bureaus (for example, Equifax: 800 879 4094).
A great way to quickly research a business that interests you
is to visit the library and review their periodical index for
relevant magazines. Get current copies and scan them for ideas,
vendors, marketing ideas, etc.
Finding people and businesses: Check out these two fantastic search
sites: http://www.switchboard.com and http://www.Four11.com
rates are going down considerably for small packages. Check them
out before using the post office.
Don't forget your local library as a source of business information.
For example, your reference section most likely contains the following
items that, if purchased, cost hundreds of dollars:
Source (SRDS). A giant volume containing listings of thousands
of direct mail lists, mailing list compilers, brokers and managers.
Phone books from
every major city in the U.S and most other countries.
The Thomas Register.
20 volumes of products and services from Abacuses to Zoo equipment;
2 volumes of company profiles, 3 volumes covering the food industry
and 8 volumes of company catalogs.
dozens of different disciplines.
The Standard Periodical
Directory (Oxford). Every print publication in the U.S. and
Canada including newspapers, newsletters, journals and catalogs.
Looking for the area code for a city or the city for an area code?
Here is an easy to use resource: http://www.555-1212com:80/aclookup.html
|Looking for VENTURE
CAPITAL? Check out http://www.vcworld.com , Venture Capital
World Online. They provide a direct database link between investors
searching for opportunities and entrepreneurs in need of venture
are a fantastic source of information. The problem is that many
Internet providers (ISP's) do not provide all the newsgroups available
(over 15,000) due to limitations in bandwidth and other reasons.
However, check out http://sunsite.unc.edu/usenet-i/search.html
for a database of ALL existing newsgroups.
|LOOKING FOR A
COMPANY OR A PERSON? Check out these comprehensive directories:
Ultimate White Pages
and address directory http://www.switchboard.com
e-mail & web pages http://www.WhoWhere.com
Reverse phone directory-like
Yellow Pages directory
Yellow Pages Online
Send for a free handy booklet, "About Taking Legal Action," provided
by the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009.
|LOOKING FOR A
QUOTATION? Try this website: http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/quote.html
TIP. Getting exercise is always a problem when traveling.
An excellent workout is running (or walking) up and down the stairs
in the hotel/motel where you are staying. It's better than jogging
and a lot more convenient when the weather is bad. Give it a try!
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original
works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and
artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer
software and architecture. Copyright does NOT protect facts, ideas,
systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the
way these things are expressed. Learn more about copyrights at
|Those of you who
have used the THOMAS REGISTER series of industrial catalogs
know what a valuable resource it is. Now search the complete catalog
on line at http://www.thomasregister.com and save the cost of
this expensive resource and gain the advantage of keyword searching.
(both home and business) When you are going to be away for
a few days, turn off your automatic garage door opener. Some models
can be easily opened by thieves.