Friday, November 04, 2005

Small Firms Drive Inner City Growth

Small businesses are the drivers of inner city economies and job growth, according to a new study released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The report documents the dynamics of America’s inner city economies, which are larger and more active than is generally understood. State of the Inner City Economies: Small Businesses in the Inner City reports that small businesses are the greatest source of net new employment in inner cities. They comprise more than 99% of inner city business establishments and they generate 80% of the total employment in those areas. In all, America’s inner city small businesses employ about 9 million people, or 8% of the U.S. private workforce.
For more information and a complete copy of the report, visit the Office of Advocacy website at

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Choosing Outside Tech Support

Even the most exceptional IT staff doesn't alone possess all the skills required to manage an entire technology infrastructure—-from hardware to networking to operating systems, software applications and Internet connections. The truth is that most companies will, at some point, need to hire a third-party service provider. Brad Cooper and Mark Locheed, owners of the tech firm Kyvon, offer the following suggestions of what to consider when seeking an external IT services provider:
* Choose a service provider that possesses good knowledge and experience with companies like yours. It is essential that they understand your business, the operational pressures that you face, and what you want to achieve.
* Decide which services you require—telephone support, remote diagnostic, or on-site service. Many third-party support services offer these options in “bundles,” determined by your company’s needs.
* Evaluate providers that guarantee security, confidentiality and high availability.
* Don’t necessarily lean towards the low bidder. You get what you pay for. Review which services are included in the contract and which will require additional cost before you sign.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Marketing Tips: Gain More Leads On A Shoestring

Gain more leads without increasing your marketing budget. There are many low-cost methods of attracting potential customers’ attention with direct mail, according to Diane Carson, co-owner of Marketing Xperience LLC. The tried and true method of mailing a “bulky” package with a premium inside still works. However, in order to make your offer really stand out, think about the way in which your package is delivered. Overnight services, such as FedEx, DHL, UPS, will make your customers sit up and take notice, but one other more inexpensive method to consider is certified mail. If you narrow your target list to a highly targeted, smaller database—or “wish list”—you can increase response rates, and at the same time lower your lead cost.
Research your “Wish List.” The more time spent on a list, the more likely you will get the response you are looking for. Purchase lists from associations or lists of known respondents to direct mail. These highly targeted lists—we call them “wish lists”— should include only those companies or individuals with whom you would really want to do business.
Join a trade association and ask for referrals. People buy from people they know, like and trust. Utilize personal relationships within the association to build a personal database and gain referrals.