Foster loyalty in non-family employees

Brooke Rouse

Brooke Rouse

You may have observed quality of service and success in many family-owned and operated businesses; a sense of commitment and desire to provide a great product or service by the staff. The question however, is how do you develop employees to be as loyal as your family? [Read more...]

Job hunting? There’s an app for that

Jill VanHoesen

Jill VanHoesen

According to a February Learnvest article, “politicians and pundits had a field day with the Congressional Budget Office’s recent report on the Affordable Care Act and whether it would lead to Americans walking away from jobs now that they no longer had to worry about health care.” This is really only one component of what is a larger growing worry: the number of Americans who are dissatisfied with their jobs and what that can mean to your business and the economy. [Read more...]

Mom-and-pop operations booming

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

Travel to 23938 Shoulette Road in Redwood and you’ll find a nice story about business success. The mom-and-pop business located here has been operating for 20 years, and now a son is coming on board, hoping to call it his own someday. They are expanding their product line and are excited about the future.
Roberta and Kurt Hanni own and operate Spruce Acres Custom Cutting and Spruce Acres II Retail Shop. On their website, www.spruceacresmeatshop.com they explain how their meat processing business grew from butchering animals for a few local neighbors to cutting beef, pork, deer and exotics. They provide vacuum packaging and their facilities include two walk-in coolers, scales, an upright hot smoker and rotisserie hot smoker for finishing hams and bacon. [Read more...]

Cultivate a productive environment

Lynn Pietroski

Lynn Pietroski

Retaining and attracting quality staff can be a challenge for small businesses and even nonprofit organizations, but it’s not impossible and does not always cost a lot of money. The concept of a happy workplace equaling a productive workplace tells a truthful tale. It can be broken down simply: if an employee fits well into an organization’s culture, they’ll likely work well with their peers and co-workers and develop a positive working relationship with their boss or superiors. [Read more...]

Secure working capital with new tool

Larry Covell

Larry Covell

Working capital for a small business is always in short supply. One option that a small business owner has to raise capital is to enter into a secured transaction. A secured transaction is the use of personal property such as inventory to secure a loan. The personal property is used as collateral for the loan. One popular example of a secured transaction is the use of a loan to buy a motor vehicle. If the owner fails to make the necessary loan payments, the creditor can repossess the motor vehicle and sell it at an auction. [Read more...]

Grow business with viable resource

Bill Owens

Bill Owens

As I travel across Northern New York and speak with many business leaders, I hear repeatedly about the need for economic development policies that support sustainable, market-driven small business expansion. One such federal agency, the well-known, yet often under-utilized Export-Import Bank is particularly well equipped to implement such policies so that U.S. companies may grow by accessing new export markets. [Read more...]

Top five business financing myths

Sarah O'Connell

Sarah O’Connell

Most new businesses are going to need some money to start up. And while you may be able to self-finance if your costs are minimal, most startups need to look elsewhere for financing, whether it’s a public lender such as Jefferson County Local Development Corporation or a commercial bank lender.

Your business plan will show the lender that you have made a great case for the loan through your research, management skills, understanding of your target market, personnel needs and so on. Then you come to your financial projections. This is where your small business advisor can help you put together a conservative and realistic picture of how your business will achieve its revenue goals to cover inventory purchases, business expenses and loan repayment, with enough left over to provide you with a personal income.

When we SBDC advisors sit down with clients to help them with the process, myth and reality often collide. Here are five of the most common myths that we hear in our office:

1) Grants — This is probably the number one question we get. “Where do I find a grant?” And then: “Because my uncle Bob’s second cousin’s best friend got a grant to start his business.”
While it may be true, we will need more specific details about the source of that grant, because in general, grants are not available to for-profit businesses unless it’s for something very specific (such as façade improvement). [Read more...]

Ensure telemarketing compliance

Jill Van Hoesen

Jill Van Hoesen

The rules have changed for new or existing customer telemarketing phone calls or advertising SMS text messages, cellphone or residential landlines with the latest Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulation. This new ruling, effective Oct. 16, removes the “established business relationship” exception and replaces it with the obligation of the telemarketer to receive “prior express written consent” to make telemarketing calls or send marketing text messages using an auto dialer or robocall technology.

This is the third regulation, stemming from the FCC’s Feb. 15, 2012 ruling, which also brought further consumer protection with call abandonment calculations and automated opt-out requirements, effective in November 2012 and January 2013.

Does your business use an autodialer or pre-recorded voice calls to market and advertise to new or existing customers? Do you make telephone calls or send text messages that include advertisements? If so, have you received a traditional written signature “opting in” from customers you plan on marketing to? Or did you receive an electronic or digital form of signature via your website or SMS message reply? [Read more...]

Ag land costs less to communities

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

Recently, I heard about an official from a local town saying farms are not considered businesses. While I was disappointed to hear this, albeit secondhand, it is not the first time this has ever been said. And while one of the local farms in that town employs approximately 40 people with some earning salaries of $50,000-plus, we won’t focus on whether a farm is business or not. I think common sense prevails with most officials and they recognize that farms are indeed very valuable businesses to support in their communities.

Instead, let us focus on the cost of community services from “open working land,” “commercial and industrial,” and “residential development” classifications of land use in a community. Cost of Community Services Studies are case studies used to determine revenues versus a community’s public service costs based on current land use. COCS is a snapshot in time of costs versus revenue for each type of land use. Developed by American Farmland Trust in the mid-1980s, COCS studies provide an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure fiscal relationships, putting working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses.

According to Rebecca Roberts from the Center for Land Use Education at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, COCS studies cannot predict future revenue or expenditures or analyze specific development proposals. Instead, COCS studies provide a baseline of current information to help local officials make informed land use and policy decisions. [Read more...]

Collaboratation key to our vitality

Lynn Pietroski

Lynn Pietroski

The greater Watertown area is fortunate to have several agencies that drive its economic development. Most chambers of commerce have a separate division that focuses on economic development, but at the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, we work in collaboration with those agencies in our community to maximize results.

When you think of economic development, most likely you hear the words: small business, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, tourism, workforce development and many others. Moreover, economic development is also about job creation, retaining and generating new business for our community, marketing the community and being one of many resources for economic growth.

The role of the GWNC chamber, in partnership with the area’s economic development colleagues, is to promote the “product” that is being sold, such as housing opportunities, education, workforce development and leadership opportunities.

Chambers of commerce and economic development organizations must work together, co-exist, understand and acknowledge the critical role each organization plays in the community and the region. [Read more...]