"If someone said 'CNBC,' you thought they were inviting you to watch Bonanza." -- Clinton Sampson, CEO Bank One, commenting on the difference between the Internet economy and the atmosphere that existed when he got into the business.
24/7 at 5/3
Entrepreneurs work hours long before and after their scheduled open and close. To accommodate their needs, Fifth Third bank has introduced Business 53 Online Banking on the Web at www.53.com. So the next time you're up at 3 a.m. checking the books, you can track payments or expenditures without waiting until the rest of the world wakes up.
"If you don't have your assets on the Net, basically you aren't there." -- Steven J. Kafka, an analyst with Forrester Research explaining the impact the Internet has on business-to-business commerce.
You could use a little spare money, but banks have no interest in loans that don't reach at least five digits. Local economic development corporation WECO, Working for Empowerment through Community Organizing, is accepting applications for microloans ranging from $500 to $7,500. The program is the first of its kind in the Greater Cleveland market to provide funds to existing or start-up low to moderate income business owners with five or fewer employees. Funding comes from the Ohio Department of Development. A committee composed of local business owners will meet monthly to approve an estimated 10 to 15 loans each month through the end of the year. For eligibility guidelines and an application packet, call (216) 881-9650.
Ever feel like that meeting you just attended was a waste of time, two hours of your life you'll never get back? You're not alone and you're not wrong. A survey by Accountemps shows executives spend 7.8 hours a week in needless formal discussions -- 2.3 months a year in wasted productivity. Technology is supposed to make us more efficient, more productive. It hasn't. The same study conducted in 1990 showed we wasted six hours a week or 1.8 months a year.
Keep them awake
Not every meeting is critical, but when you have important information to convey, how do you make sure everyone is paying attention? Eli Mina offers eight ways to keep people awake in your meetings.
1. Give every participant a lead role on an agenda item.
2. Avoid serving sleep-inducing meals (i.e. creamy pastas or chocolate cheesecake).
3. Try stand-up meetings (no tables or chairs, no sitting on the floor).
4. Schedule short breaks frequently (no more than 1.5 to two hours of continuous sitting).
5. Call on silent members to comment.
6. Diversify your discussion activities (i.e. break a large group into small groups and have members report back).
7. Prevent rambling by asking members to communicate concisely
8. Ask speakers to make their presentations interactive and avoid protracted lectures.
The Cleveland District of the U.S. Small Business Administration has selected Jose C. Feliciano, a partner in the national law firm of Baker & Hostetler LLP and president of the Cleveland Bar Association, as the Minority Business Advocate of the Year.
A taste to remember
Cherry bomb. Pina colada. Chocolate and coconut. These aren't the latest jelly bean flavors -- they're bratwurst flavors from The Sausage Shoppe, located in Old Brooklyn, which was featured on a June 29 segment of The Food Network's Extreme Cuisine.
The segment pitted the city's firefighters against paramedics in an effort to identify the 12 flavored brats. In addition to the flavors above, the unsmoked brats included pizza and sweet and sour; the smoked flavors, honey and garlic, pepperoni, sautéed onion and portabella mushroom, mocha, bacon and cheddar, chili and barbeque. The piece de resistance was the Buzz Brats, which contain beer and coffee. There were no sightings of Drew Carey, however.
If you missed it, the show will be repeated. Visit www.foodtv.com for air dates and times.
The end of voice mail?
There aren't too many Americans who haven't experienced the annoyances of intricate voice mail systems. While they've become so ingrained into our business culture they will probably never entirely disappear, their use may be on the decrease.
According to a study conducted by Menlo Park, Calif.-based Accountemps, 73 percent of CFOs said e-mail would be the most commonly used method of communication for accountants by 2006. The telephone came in a distant second with 10 percent, followed by fax, 9 percent, and face-to-face communication, 7 percent. One percent didn't know how they would communicate in the future.Hi, my name is...
In the last 12 months, a lot of new heads have been turned toward Solon-based Keithley Instruments (featured in SBN's April 2000 issue). The high-tech measuring device developer and manufacturer has been a recognized name by the research industry for years, but the Keithley name is still fairly new to some of the firm's new target customers. Keithley Instruments plans to fix this with an aggressive branding campaign set to include full-page magazine advertisements with the "A Greater Measure of Confidence" slogan and Keithley's eye-catching red and white logo. With Keithley Instruments' performance during the last year, it probably won't be long before the firm stops thinking of itself as the newest kid in school.
What's wrong with kids today?
When asked during his recent visit to Cleveland about his opinion of the rampant practice of trading copyrighted digital music via the Web, America Online Chief Technology Officer William J. Raduchel coyly suggested there is something lacking in today's younger generation. "College students seem not to be born with a gene that realizes that a copyright is to be respected."
Nevertheless, AOL may have helped let the genie out of the bottle with the Gnuttella music trading software program created by designers of the Winamp mp3 player that AOL purchased in 1999. In development before the now-ubiquitous Napster hit the media and legal spotlight, the Net giant quickly divorced itself from the project, contending the work was a free-lance project on the part of designers.
Cleveland's ARK Jewelers Inc. recently unleashed its new e-commerce site, boasting more than 30,000 pieces of jewelry. Surf on over to www.arkinc.com to pick up jewelry, gold, or, if the mood hits you, loose diamonds. How viable is an e-commerce strategy for the jewelry business? ARK Jewelry President Cindy Keller contends the business hasn't seen such an explosive demand for jewelry since it opened its doors in 1981.
The birth of e-TV
Sure, we've all heard that eventually, the Internet will merge with your television, so you can check your e-mail during commercial breaks, but a leading electronic retailing association believes watching television while surfing the Web is already an increasingly popular pastime for many Americans. The Electronic Retailing Association reports that nearly 10 million households are watching television and accessing the Internet at the same time, representing 40 percent of all homes that have Internet access.
"Better than the Water Pik"
Four months ago, 28-year-old Jay C. Pearlman walked away from his job as vice president of sales and marketing for a New York City-based candy manufacturer to pursue his dream of owning a toy company. He ended up founding Kabam Products LLC, a manufacturer of interactive health and beauty aids that will be shipping its first item out of Cleveland some time in August. The first item Pearlman is introducing is a toy toothbrush named the "Pop Out Toothbrush." Mark Greenbaum, one of 1,500 dentists in the country with a mastership in the field, believes Pearlman might be on to something. "Kabam has hit a home run," he says. "This is the best idea to hit oral hygiene since the Water Pik and more fun to use."
Business casual gone bad
A growing number of workers are taking dress-down day a bit too literally, suggests a recent survey of executives. While the majority (55 percent) of those polled said they feel their workers dress appropriately on relaxed attire days, 39 percent of managers believe their workers are dressing too casually. "Relaxed dress policies are a proven recruitment, retention and motivational tool for businesses, but they are not without limitations," says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps -- the sponsor of the survey -- and author of the best-selling "Job Hunting for Dummies."
On that note
Ron Redfern, an authority on business casual who has been tabbed by magazines including Men's Health to provide the lowdown on the state of today's work force dress code, believes Fridays are becoming more business slob than business causal. He says the problem is fueled by the lack of employer guidelines about what casual should mean. When a business owner says only, "Don't wear a tie," it often sets the stage for some scary results. Redfern's cure? Be direct about what you expect. "In some cases, people dress nicer on a weekend than they do during the week," he says. "People like to look like a million bucks."
The M&A wave
A study of merger and acquisition activity among privately held companies finds that two-thirds of the owners plan to sell their companies within five years and that the majority plan to make an acquisition prior to a sale. Meanwhile, 36 percent of the owners expect to make an acquisition within 12 months. An additional 30 percent expect to make an acquisition within three years. However, it appears early retirement is not the impetus behind the numbers.
"The driving force behind the M&A activity is economic rather than personal," says Alan J. Scharfstein, president of the DAK Group, which conducted the study. "Only one in three of those planning to sell expects to retire and nearly half say they plan to remain with their company in a nonownership role." The DAK Group surveyed 211 privately held companies of all sizes.
Broadcast on demand
So you heard a rumor on the evening news about your company, but your rampant channel surfing is turning up few results. A Cleveland company will do the watching for you. VMS Ohio offers local and global broadcast media intelligence, whether you are looking for something that aired on a network affiliate, major market or small market station. VMS Ohio's target customers are public relations firms and marketing professionals who want to show results of an effective campaign or just better package their media message the next time around.
Flying the friendly skies
It's been a good couple months for James Mastandrea, chairman and CEO of Eagle's Wings Aviation. First, his company received certification in May from the FAA for its first Citation II jet. That allowed Eagle's Wings to start executive jet charter service, bringing it back to Cuyahoga County Airport for the first time in years.
Then, on June 23, Mastandrea was honored by his alma mater, Cleveland State University, with the George B. Davis Award for Service to the University. Mastandrea, a 1970 CSU grad, is the former top executive of First Union Real Estate Investments, Midwest Development Corp., Triam Corp. and Continental Homes of Chicago Inc. He also served as vice president of Continental Bank and as a financial analyst at Mellon Bank before taking the top spot at Eagle's Wings in 1998.
Mastandrea is a director of the Cleveland State University Foundation and the chairman of its nominating committee. He also chairs the College of Business' Visiting Committee.
In addition to its newly added charter service, Eagle's Wings is a primary provider of aircraft management services for a fleet of Fortune 1000 company-owned aircraft.
Who's got the most successful aquarium site?
So you think you know it all about the Internet, huh? Think again. In a new book, "net.people: The Personalities and Passions Behind the Web Sites," authors Thomas E. Bleier and Eric C. Steinert profile the creators of 36 of the world's most intriguing online ventures. Among the topics discussed are the stories behind how sites dedicated to B movies, action figure collecting, sports and celebrity grave sites were developed. For more information on "net.people," log on at www.infotoday.com.
The next round's on them
Those folks you saw high-fiving each other through the windows of their Prospect Avenue offices were execs at Wyse Advertising, who were celebrating the addition of a new account, Rockwell International Corp. Rockwell signed with Wyse to handle its marketing services for the Rockwell Automation Control Systems, Rockwell Electronic Commerce operating units and Rockwell's corporate needs. The three responsibilities represent the majority of Rockwell's advertising spending and may represent an $8 million to $10 million integrated ad account.
"We have won a new client who not only likes our work but understands how we work and how we have organized to serve its needs," says Mike Marino, Wyse president. "It looks like the start of a beautiful relationship to us."Source of stress
Rising workloads in this "information now" world are the leading cause of stress in the workplace, according to a survey of IT professionals conducted by RHI Consulting. More than half (55 percent) of the CIOs polled say that as customers demand more from companies, with shorter lead times, their workloads increase, leading to higher stress levels.
Second on the list? Office politics, which the CIOs say has a direct effect on productivity levels.
Picking up the pieces
Tired of your neighbor's dog doing its business on your lawn? That was the motivation behind the establishment of Ms. Poop-Scooper, an animal waste removal service business founded by Gwen Barlow-Martinez. Ms. Poop-Scooper scoops for dogs and cats. Elephants, antelope and wild gorillas need not apply. For more information, contact Barlow-Martinez at (330) 724-7360 or spazzycat@IOL13.com.
Looking to put a spin on your company's public affairs news? Who better to represent your company than someone who's done the same job for the government? That's the premise behind HMS Success Public Relations, which in May opened an office in Cleveland under the direction of Nancy Lesic, former press secretary to Cleveland Mayor Michael White. Based in Columbus, HMS was founded in 1998.
What's your business worth?
You may know the name Rand Curtiss from his appraisal business Loveman-Curtiss, one of the region's top business appraisal firms. Well, it's only a matter of time before the rest of the nation knows Curtiss' name as well. That's because he recently expanded his company's reach by taking over the operations of American Business Appraisers of Phoenix, Ariz., one of the country's largest networks of appraisal companies. So, do you think Curtiss appraised ABA before his company bought it?
Web sites while you wait
Any company's Web site can be a chore to launch. John Sancin Jr., president and CEO of Interactive Technologies (www.interactivetechniques.com), took that into consideration when he launched a new automated Web site building tool, ViewasUdo. The idea behind ViewasUdo, says Sancin, is that users can view their site as it is created rather than having to stop work to save the site, go view it, then start work again.
"We want our users to create a totally customizable site that meets all of their specific business needs," says Sancin, "regardless of the type of business they are in."