What a great piece ["The Thinking Tree," SBN September 2000] on a topic one would not expect to find in a business magazine.
I think I'm even more impressed with your reaction and reflections. When we are humbled by a child, we are truly blessed.
Please take a picture of your son and his thinking tree. It will serve as a reminder for both of you that life is more than meeting deadlines, chasing dollars and letting others decide what is important.
I enjoyed reading your magazine and am looking forward to the next issue.
Roadway Pharmacy Inc.
MC2 knows how to net new projects during the slow holiday season: Give clients a good laugh. The downtown firm's 1999 holiday "card" was an exercise plan to ward off unwanted calories.
"Last year we tried to come up with something fun and lighthearted and poking a little fun at ourselves and how much people eat around the holidays," says Brock Poling, the interactive marketing agency's president.
The company's CD-ROM holiday greeting, "Season's Eatings," allowed 500-plus clients, community VIPs and prospects to burn "FOUR whole calories" by clicking on treats such as cheese, cake and cookies as they flew across the computer screen.
"Now simply repeat this process 875 times for every pound you've gained," reads the greeting, "and the weight will be gone."
"Our intention is certainly to say, 'Thank you,' to people who've helped us through the year, and obviously to reinforce that we do a good job of multimedia and interactive work," Poling says, noting the greetings, produced in house for less than $500, generated eight or 10 new projects for the company.
This was the second interactive holiday message by MC2; its 1998 CD-ROM allowing recipients to "download" peace, love and joy won the company an ADDY.
Look for a repeat performance for 2000; MC2's creative types begin work on the greeting this month.
Our October story "It's not a typo" turned out to have a typo of its own. The article gave an incorrect phone number to call for more information. The correct number for AASF Publications is 899-8999. We apologize for the error.
Women business owners have been slow to seek out equity investors -- those who fund businesses for a share of the company's ownership.
However, 44 percent of equity investors interviewed in a study conducted by The National Foundation for Women Business Owners earlier this year say they have seen an increase in proposals from women business owners in just the past year.
Although these equity investors are beginning to back businesses owned by women, this funding source remains largely untapped. So where are women business owners turning for equity capital? According to the study:
- 73 percent of women business owners receive initial investments from family members or friends.
- 73 percent have received equity capital from individual angel investors.
- 25 percent have received equity capital from corporate investors.
- 15 percent have received equity capital from venture capital firms.
The study shows it pays to be persistent. Women entrepreneurs who have equity financing contacted an average of more than 15 funding entities, while women still seeking equity financing have contacted fewer than 11. Source: The National Foundation for Women Business Owners, www.nfwbo.org
The International Telework Association & Council completed a study this year that covers the growth and characteristics of telework in the United States. Here are some of its key findings:
- There are 16.6 million regularly employed teleworkers in the United States who work at least one day a month and are at least 18 years old.
- About 9 million U.S. workers telework at least one day a week. In 1995, according to FIND/SVP, there were 8.5 million teleworkers. While 9 percent of U.S. workers telework, 41 percent believe their jobs could be performed in their homes.
- While a few years ago most teleworkers worked for small- to medium-sized organizations, half now work for organizations with at least 1,500 employees.
- Of all teleworkers, 54 percent are employees, 13 percent are contract workers, 9 percent are operators of home-based businesses and 27 percent are self-employed teleworkers.
- The highest proportions of teleworkers are in the New England, Mountain and Pacific states.
- Males make up 65 percent of the home-based work force. The average teleworker is in his or her early 40s, slightly older than the average nonteleworker surveyed.
- Four out of five teleworkers commute to work on days they are not telecommuting. Their average commute distance is 19.7 miles, vs. 13.3 miles for nonteleworkers.
- One out of every five telecommuters reports that his or her direct supervisor is in the same state.
On page 16, SBN presents the winners of the 2000 Pillar Award, sponsored by Medical Mutual of Ohio. The award honors companies of all sizes for giving back to their communities.
Its purpose is to encourage a charitable environment and recognize creative efforts that make a difference through a four-pronged effort to:
Publicize the issue of community service as it applies to the realities of today's competitive business world; share creative ideas about how companies of all sizes are having a positive impact in their communities; honor companies that go well beyond the minimum expectation of community service; and create a sustaining fund, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, to aid local nonprofit organizations in their mission to serve the people of Northeast Ohio. Including this year's donation, the sustaining Pillar Fund contains in excess of $30,000.
This year marks the third year of the Pillar Award. Nominations are judged by an independent panel. For more information on next year's event, contact SBN at (216) 228-6397.
Marlite a specialty interior wall system manufacturer in Dover, has redesigned its Web site at www.marlite.com to provide better information to its customers.
The Hoover Company, North Canton, has been awarded the Supplier Performance Award by Retail Category for the fifth straight year for the floor-care category.
Excell Consulting Group of Wooster and Palitto Consulting Services Inc. of Wadsworth have formed a partnership with the intention of improving both companies.
Waikem Auto Group of Canton has completed the purchase of Petty's Jeep in Massillon. The dealership has selected Innis Maggiore Group to handle advertising and promotion for its 14 area automotive franchises.
Cohen & Co., Canton, has merged with Mather, Pfeifer & Potts Inc., a Stark County CPA firm.
Research conducted by Yankelovich Partners in 2000 indicates American consumers have strong opinions about smoke and other air quality issues. Consider that:
- 80 percent believe businesses should find a way to accommodate both nonsmokers and smokers in their establishments.
- 86 percent believe ventilation can have a lot or some impact on addressing smoking issues.
- 91 percent agree they would be more likely to go to an establishment that had a state-of-the-art ventilation system vs. one that did not.
What you can do
Restaurant and bar owners
- Control airflow to minimize smoke drift from smoking sections to nonsmoking sections.
- Properly maintain -- and consider redesigning -- ventilation systems to help contain kitchen odors, grease and tobacco smoke, as well as regulate room temperature and humidity.
- Adjust ventilation systems to peak business times to make them more cost effective.
Hotel owners and managers
*Watch the air quality in guest rooms and common areas closely, as these reflect upon the management's commitment to cleanliness and attention to detail.
* Make flexible accommodation policies for the lobby, restaurant, bar/lounge and meeting rooms to allow for differing preferences of these audiences.
*Ensure proper housekeeping procedures are followed, as this can contribute to cleaner, fresher air. For more ideas, go to www.pmOptions.com/home/home.asp.
Inviting press attention is one of the best ways to grow a small business, but many businesses don't know how or where to begin. Lee Esposito, principal of Lee Esposito Associates, offers the following dos and don'ts for generating publicity.
- Become a student of the media. Read local newspapers and business journals and watch news broadcasts to discover patterns or trends and learn which reporters cover your specific industry.
- Read national stories and watch network news broadcasts for opportunities to publicize your business. Local editors and reporters often are eager to put a local slant on national stories.
- Contact reporters or editors to introduce yourself and your business. Be prepared to let them know what's new or unique about your business and how it will benefit their readers, viewers or listeners.
- Tie your product or service to a quirky national holiday or celebration. For example, a pizza chain that offers a peanut butter and jelly pizza received extensive media coverage by tying its pizza to the April 2 celebration of National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.
- Disappear after the interview. Be available throughout the process to assist with additional facts, figures or questions.
- Use jargon. Instead, use colorful, everyday language when describing your product or service.
- Ask for or expect special concessions because you are an advertiser.
Medical Mutual of Ohio
As one of Ohio's largest health care insurance providers, Medical Mutual of Ohio devotes its community service efforts toward health-related and educational issues.
Last year, the company was a major sponsor of the MS Walk for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Heart Association Heart Walk.
The co-founder and title sponsor of the Pillar Award for Community Service, Medical Mutual contributed 92 volunteers to the Meals On Wheels program and provided Christmas gifts for 210 underprivileged children.
"We're a long-time Cleveland company," says Jared Chaney, Medical Mutual's vice president of corporate communications. "The health and well-being of a community is what our business is all about."
Under the leadership of its S.H.A.R.E. volunteer committee, which stands for Share, Help, Aid, Reach and Educate, the company encourages its 2,500 employees to get involved in causes they support. In upper management, 27 executives serve on 48 nonprofit and charitable boards.
The impact of community service hit Xerox Connect employees last year when they treated 65 children from one of Cleveland's YMCA centers to a Cleveland Cavaliers game and dinner at Gund Arena.
"When it was all done, we had a couple of the employees here with tears in their eyes because the kids had such a good time," says Dave Fazekas, Xerox Connect Great Lakes Region vice president. "They were hugging them when they were leaving. A good number of these kids had never been to a Cavs game before."
Xerox Connect, an information technology consulting, outsourcing and systems integration subsidiary of Xerox, also provided technical expertise to set up computer kiosks free of charge at the Great Lakes Nature Center in Bay Village. Projects like these are not only the right thing to do, but good for the company, Fazekas says.
"It makes the employees feel good to see good things happening, and we can make a mark within the community," he says.
Xerox Connect is in its second year of sponsorship for the Pillar Award.
Mars Employment contributed its job hunting and placement expertise to help residents at the Women in Transitional Housing center in Cleveland. By teaching the women resume writing, interview skills and personal presentation, Mars Employment helped give them a second chance at life.
"We should give back because I think we're so fortunate," says Marilyn R. Sims, president of Mars Employment. "We've been very lucky, but I don't know that it's all luck; a lot of times you have to do it yourself."
Other than providing job-hunting skills, Mars gives employees time off to help clean and paint rooms in the women's shelter in between tenants. Sims also sits on the board of directors.
"I didn't want to be the kind of a person who sits on the board of directors and not know what really happens," she says.
Mars Employment is involved in annual events to raise money for Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and the Ronald McDonald House. This is its first year of involvement with the Pillar Award program.
The environment you work in is important to all businesses, big and small. COSE knows this. Its been helping Cleveland-area small business owners with health insurance and purchasing programs since 1972.
"I think that we are out there every day with lots of players trying to make this place a better place to live, and a better place to work," says Steve Millard, executive director of COSE. "It's important to recognize the efforts of businesses of all sizes. But when you look at some of the smaller businesses whose efforts sometimes go unnoticed, it's good to be able to highlight some of the interesting things they're doing."
COSE, a nonprofit organization, is designed to be a resource. Not only does it provide resources for its members, nonmember companies also receive COSE's help, so the organization can try to improve the places they work and live.
Outside the company, employees provide tutoring for local elementary schools and speak for Junior Achievement. COSE also encourages them to get involved in local boards and helps them schedule time for community service efforts.
This is COSE's first year of involvement with the Pillar Award.
Renaissance Worldwide, an information technology and business consulting firm, formed The Renaissance Community Project in October 1996 and has contributed to the efforts of more than 150 charities, including The American Cancer Society, The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Make-a-Wish Foundation, American Ireland Fund, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and others.
Though many are national charities, the company encourages participation in local causes such as homeless shelters, schools, community arts programs and food pantries.
"Part of our culture has always been an awareness of our community and a dedication to contribute to its well-being," says Melissa Blatnik, Ohio branch recruiting manager for Renaissance Worldwide. "We encourage the participation of our employees, families, consultants, business associates and friends in making a difference in our world."
This is Renaissance Worldwide's first year of involvement with the Pillar Award.