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Business Web Site of the Week – Business Performance Dashboard

Benchmarking – or the comparison of one performance to the overall average performance – happens all around us. Sprinters have stop-watches. Police officers have radar guns. And businesspeople have the Business Performance Dashboard.

The Business Performance Dashboard, a new tool from Entrepreneur.com, can help you compare your business to the average business in your industry and of your size and age. This can help you pinpoint areas in need of improvement and those of excellence. The tool focuses largely on sales issues, and includes sales-per-employee statistics, sales by business age, and more.

So how does your business measure up? The Business Performance Dashboard is a fine first step in answering that question.

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Back to the Books

While it’s true that more business information can be found online now than ever before, it’s also true that hitting the books is not yet an obsolete strategy for business research.
Consider: if a publisher has collected information it sees as sufficiently valuable, that publisher will not give it all away for free on the Internet, but rather, print it between the covers of an old-fashioned book, and hope that someone will purchase it. Chumps that we are here at the Hill Library, that’s exactly what we’ll do, when we see resources that may be of use to the entrepreneurs and small business owners that are able to visit the library in person.
Here is just a sampling of the many books and journals we have added to our print collection over the past months, and we continue to add similar resources regularly. To see what we have for your research question, view the library catalog and search by a title, author, or subject keyword. If you can’t make it to the library in person, check with a library in your area to see if any of these titles are available, then read while you pretend you’re at the Hill Library. Or consider a HillSearch membership, which, among other benefits, would entitle you to up to 24 document deliveries (pages or articles or sections of print books) per year.
Food Industry

  • Functional ingredients
  • The food retailing industry speaks
  • Technomic top 500 chain restaurant report
  • The U.S. food marketing system: recent developments, 1997-2006

Healthcare / Pharmaceuticals

  • Directory of investor-owned community hospitals, hospital management companies & health systems, residential treatment facilities & centers, key management personnel
  • Assisted living & extended care facilities
  • HMO-PPO digest
  • Consumer healthcare
  • Supermarket pharmacy trends

Business Startup / How-to

  • Start your own clothing store and more: children’s, bridal, vintage, consignment
  • Start your own executive recruiting business
  • Start your own photography business: studio, freelance, gallery, events
  • The specialty shop: how to create your own unique and profitable retail business
  • From entrepreneur to infopreneur: make money with books, e-books, and other information products
  • Craft, Inc.: turn your creative hobby into a business
  • Financing business growth: proven strategies for women business owners from women business owners
  • Selling art without galleries: toward making a living from your art
  • Smart start-ups: how entrepreneurs and corporations can profit by starting online communities
  • Construction business management: what every construction contractor, builder & subcontractor needs to know

International

  • Doing business with India
  • Dancing with giants: China, India, and the global economy

Industry data

  • Leisure market research handbook
  • The state of the nation’s housing 2007
  • Used-book sales: a study of the behavior, structure, size and growth of the U.S. used-book market
  • U.S. – International travel and transportation trends: 2006 update
  • 2006 CHA attitude & usage study: craft industry

Industry journals

  • Bottled water reporter
  • Venue safety & security
  • Electronic news
  • The Nilson report

E-commerce

  • Selling online subscriptions summit 2007: transcript
  • The … e-commerce market research handbook

Marketing

  • Beyond buzz: the next generation of word-of-mouth marketing
  • Branding a store: how to build successful retail brands in a changing marketplace
  • Citizen marketers: when people are the message
  • Creating customer evangelists: how loyal customers become a volunteer sales force
  • Riches in niches: how to make it BIG in a small market
  • The art of digital branding

Misc. / Management

  • Retail store planning & design manual
  • The changing role of the COO: is the chief operating officer headed for transformation or extinction?
  • The right projects done right!: from business strategy to successful project implementation
  • Environmental sustainability: the power of green 
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Ready, Willing, and Enabled

What determines how effectively employees work?

Surely recruiting and hiring the right people in the first place is important. And compensation can play a role in employee motivation. But a new study from the Economist Intelligence Unit (called Ready, Willing and Enabled) finds that the most effective employees are those that feel enabled to do their jobs well.

Common sense, right? Well, if you think so, good for you and good for your business, because the study finds a direct positive correlation between the success of an organization and how enabled that organization’s employees feel.

To enable employees to do their jobs well, the following is required, according to the study:

-The autonomy sufficient to make the best decisions for the company
-Tools to do the best possible job
-Access to financial resources to buy these tools
-Enough people to handle the workload
-A collaborative working environment
-Performance incentives
-Clarity of policies and procedures

If you’ve got these, you’ve probably got enabled workers. And if you’ve got enabled workers, you’re probably flourishing.

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2008 Hot List – Best Businesses, Markets, Trends & Ideas

With this list, Entrepreneur magazine has “busted out the crystal ball to predict the hottest industries for the coming year.” Considering the examples of upscale frozen desserts, specialty lingerie, or household management for the rich, the focus is actually on some pretty specific sub-sub-sub-industry niches, but it’s an interesting compilation of possible trends.

Each area of potential growth is placed within a broader category (food & beverages, health, apparel, tech, seniors, kids, green, etc.), and each contains statistics and/or anecdotal examples that explain why the magazine feels these segments are the ones to watch.

Give the list a once-over. You may find something that lends support to your current business strategy. Or it may provide just the spark you need to take off with your entrepreneurial idea.

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Your Web Site Looks Old and Outdated

Or does it? When was the last time you checked?

In the spirit of new year resolutions (it’s not too late!), the Search Engine Land blog offers ten easy things you can do to make sure your Web site is current. None of them require a Web design team. None of them require a huge time commitment. All of them, however, will ensure that your site never looks old and outdated.

As long as you keep this list handy for next year, too.

The two items that most frustrate me about outdated Web sites are here – old staff listings and broken outbound links. What are your Web site pet peeves?

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The Death of the Corporation and the Re-Birth of the Partnership

Besides Bill Gates playing guitar hero with Slash, there’s been some interesting news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A lot of that news focuses on corporate partnerships.

A New York Times blog entry (called Death of the Corporation) reports on some of these prominent partnerships and explores how more and more companies these days can’t survive on their own. From TV-maker Panasonic’s uselessness without high quality programming to Blu-ray’s big market share bump thanks to Warner Brothers, the way businesses do business seems to be changing, at least in the consumer electronics industry.

Is this a trend that will affect your industry? Are there partnership possibilities that are passing you by? How could you expand or streamline your business with the right partner?

These are all forward-thinking questions to ask. For more direction on advancing your business through partnerships, check out the Biz Info Library’s collection of articles on the topic.

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Business Web Site of the Week – 101 Dumbest Moments in Business

There are certain lists that you just don’t want to be on. The FBI’s Most Wanted, for one. Another is Fortune Magazine’s 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.

The Dumbest Moments list brings together the biggest business blunders, gaffes, and snafus from 2007, for your edification and enjoyment. Learn more than you wanted to know about animal products in M&Ms, little furry animals in a Taco Bell, and big subprime problems at Merrill Lynch.

While this list is a breeze for the casual reader, the 101 companies and businesspeople making the list will surely be living these dumb moments down for some time to come.

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And the (Economic Census) Survey Says…

If you’re into free business research and have an Internet connection, you’re probably a fan of the Census Bureau. You know we are.

This, then, is happy news: The survey for the 2007 Economic Census went out a couple of weeks ago. Peruse this press release to find out more about the survey, which tracks U.S. employer businesses and is conducted every five years.
This same release also offers an excellent introduction to the vast amount of information you can find using Economic Census data.

Let the waiting – for forms to be returned (due Feb. 12) and results to be published (one to two years!) – begin.

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Google Tricks: Beyond Quotation Marks

Forever dedicated to making your life easier, Lifehacker offers up the Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tips. Learn how to use Google to:

10. Get the local time anywhere
9. Track flight status
8. Convert currency, metrics, bytes, and more
7. Compare items with “better than” and find similar items with “reminds me of”
6. Use Google as a free proxy
5. Remove affiliate links from product searches
4. Find related terms and documents
3. Find music and comic books
2. ID people, objects, and foreign language words and phrases with Google Image Search
1. Make Google recognize faces

Visit the site for an explanation of each of these search tips, and don’t miss the additional tips left by readers in the comments section.
[via Phil Bradley – thanks!]

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Business Web Site of the Week – PDF Online

You’ve spent hours drafting a document outlining your new business proposal. But as you’re about to send it off, you stop and think: “I wish there were an easy way to make this look more professional.”

PDF Online is the answer. This site takes numerous types of documents – such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint – and converts them into PDF. Just upload your original, give a name to your file, and enter your email address. Within minutes you’ll have a professional, secure, and portable PDF file in your inbox.

So go ahead and send off that new PDF proposal or project or report; it’ll be a big hit.

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