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Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

One good move

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In a bull market for business growth, who has time to find a larger location to accommodate a larger staff? Your focus is on business growth, not business location. For Bob Fisher, president and CEO of FORESIGHT Corp., the solution came in using a tenant representative when he needed to move his rapidly growing 10-year-old e-commerce business. The best part: Using a tenant rep didn’t cost him a thing. FORESIGHT started in a 1,250-square-foot location and later moved to one measuring 5,600 square feet. When it was time to move again, Fisher decided to use a tenant rep to find…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

Lessons from the bleeding edge

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You run a healthy business with a consistent track record, but you still aren’t enjoying the benefits of being online. As a small business owner managing three online efforts and acting as a consultant to six clients with eight Web strategies, I can safely say it’s not from a lack of trying. Over the past two years — with some misgivings — many business owners have set up Web sites on promises of greater sales, more leads and reduced promotional costs. They were warned that the world would leave them behind if they didn’t invest now. But neither the promises…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

Growing at e-speed

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Plenty of fortunes are being made today by growing companies at e-speed — the blinding pace of the Internet economy — but at what potential cost? It is very important that we always evaluate our motives and measure our potential loss compared to our potential gain. If things are not done for the right reasons, you’ll get nothing but trouble for your efforts. People have many reasons for wanting to grow a company at e-speed. Some primarily want to go down in history for making a name for themselves, some are looking to get rich quick, and still others are…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

E-mail alert

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E-mail can be an extraordinarily useful tool. It allows you to reach customers, suppliers and vendors cheaply and effectively. Your list of contacts can be as valuable as any proprietary database you own. But use it inappropriately, even unintentionally, and it can be a PR nightmare. The Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce — a committee created by Congress to make recommendations on the future of Internet business —offered regular e-mail updates for anyone willing to share his or her e-mail address. True to its word, every few weeks, an e-mail appeared, giving the time for the next meeting or suggesting…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

Consumer confidence

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There is something about the idea of sending a credit card number out over public telephone lines that makes many people cringe. Although buying online may be safer than using your credit card at a restaurant, hacker attacks that disabled popular Web sites including eBay and Yahoo for the better part of a business day in February are high-profile proof that even the largest e-commerce sites can fall prey to online miscreants. The reality of doing business online is that your customers need to trust that their personal information will be safe with you. In fact, there is a whole…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

Browsers to buyers

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Millions of people worldwide are surfing the Web. And businesses are trying to sell them everything from office supplies to furniture online. Some are succeeding, some aren’t. Part of the difference between winners and losers is in the products they are trying to move; part of it is simple site design. Small consumer goods, such as books and CDs, have fared well. Furniture and apparel sales haven’t been as strong. “The apparel industry is a little more complex,” says Christina Thodt, vice president of new business development for Knowledge Strategies Inc., a consulting and technology firm. “It’s driven by trends…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:41

A cut above

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It’s inevitable: A stressful week of deal making, board meetings and operational fire-snuffing leaves your body aching. There’s nothing you’d like more than a massage to melt away the pain. Susan Snyder understands your trouble. As a licensed massage therapist at Ladies & Gentlemen in Mentor, Snyder sees it every day. It’s one reason behind L&G’s newest treatment — La Stone Therapy — also known as hot-and-cold rock therapy. The technique involves massage therapy using hot and cold smooth stones to help increase blood flow in the muscles. “We’re trying to give people an escape from their daily lives,” she…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Working on the slam dunk

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If you can’t afford the high-dollar price tags that accompany the sponsorship deals at Cleveland’s most prestigious sports venues, you’re in good company. However, a newly revived push to bring amateur athletic events to town may provide some reasonably priced sports marketing alternatives. David Gilbert, president of Greater Cleveland Sport Commission, says one needs look no farther the recent U.S. Figure Skating Championships and first round of the NCAA Final Four Championship —- events brought to Cleveland by independent organizing committees —- to see the region’s support for amateur athletics. But outside the glow of national television coverage are scores…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Trade leads

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The following leads are provided through the database of the World Trade Center Cleveland. The database offers 14,000 leads a year from around the world, updated daily. The World Trade Center is a member-based organization that provides these leads on a fee basis. The following are offered as a courtesy to SBN readers. If you are interested in more detail on any of the following leads, you can e-mail the World Trade Center Cleveland at wtcc@clevegrowth.com or call at (216) 592-2242, for the full text at no charge. Each month, SBN will focus on leads from a different countries or…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

The Internet-powered organization

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Your business is Web enabled, but are you getting the most out of your Internet initiative? Do you use your Web site and the Internet to shrink your supply chain, lower costs, do business with vendors and clients or expand your market share? And do you know the legal issues that affect you? However you use the Net, if your company wants to achieve hypergrowth in this dizzying age of e-speed, there are several ways to do so. But if you’re not employing a strategic Web-based initiative, you’re already falling behind your competitors. In this special Internet guide, SBN explores…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Register rebellion

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Service, service, service. Everyone is emphasizing customer service because it’s often the only differentiating factor in a world filled with commodities. Advances in technology, distribution and manufacturing have made your product or service look a lot like your competitor’s. Prices can only be cut so low, so service is the only thing left. The customer is always right, service with a smile, be consultative in your sales approach — these mantras sound great in the board room, but often are difficult to implement with a sometimes belligerent public. And one researcher says that trying to be pleasant to customers can…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Making the tough decisions

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It happens too often. You launch a new product, service, sales initiative or marketing program with fanfare and the best of intentions. But as soon as the kickoff is over, your eyes turn to results. At first, sales trickle in. Then, the trickle becomes drizzle. But that’s where it stops. The downpour never comes. The program is neither a success nor a failure. Once again, the market response to a new initiative does not meet expectations and these questions remain unanswered: Do we have the right product or service? Have we positioned it correctly? Are we packaging, promoting and pricing…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Health clips

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Drug my wallet Roughly one-third of Americans on Medicare have no insurance coverage for prescription drugs, and many of those with coverage still have high out-of-pocket expenses. While some Medigap plans — offered through private insurance companies — are designed to cover prescription medications, experts say the system isn’t working. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, seniors with Medigap coverage spend an average of $570 a year on prescription drugs, while those without the extra coverage spend only $20 more. Broken cures Repairing a bone fracture requires a healthy diet — adequate protein, calcium, vitamin C and other…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Fortune teller

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Diane Swonk arrived in Cleveland the Monday after the mid-April Wall Street plunge that had some wondering whether the dominant bull market of the late 1990s was nearing the end of the line. Swonk, a senior vice president for Bank One and president of the National Association for Business Economists, was in town to address the local chapter of the NABE. However, it wasn’t long before the economic forecaster, known for her frequent appearances on CNN, CNBC and PBS, was asked what she thought the April 14 dive meant for the long-term health of Wall Street. The essence of her…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Prepare today for tomorrow

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I was stretched out in a hammock by the sea in a small fishing village on Grand Cayman in early April when news of the stock market’s sudden dip reached me. My wife, Laura, and I sipped iced tea and watched the palm trees sway rhythmically that week as day traders and other investors in the U.S. panicked, sending the NYSE and NASDAQ into a nasty tailspin. While sellers frantically chased the falling knife that was their dwindling profits, the two of us didn’t even work up a sweat. Sure, like most young professionals, we have a bit of money…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Delicate blend

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With the Internet quickly becoming the preferred forum for information, entertainment and shopping, it is no surprise that business owners are racing to use it as a recruiting and training tool. What other venue links you with users worldwide? And aren’t those users — bright, young people with valuable skills who are computer-savvy and capable of navigating the Web — the ones you’re looking for to add to your company? Under the fair assumption that computer users have something to offer today’s corporations, human resources personnel have picked up the vibe and are running with it. Mary Antal, manager of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Business black belts

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Mistakes happen. As a manufacturer, you might keep track of the number of defective parts per million produced in your factory. As a service provider, it’s the number of flawed transactions. However you track them, mistakes are simply part of the process, something you have to live with. But mistakes dump money into the trash bin. At least that’s the philosophy put forth by proponents of Six Sigma, a customer-focused statistical approach to measuring and eliminating mistakes. In case you’ve forgotten your college mathematics, Six Sigma means six standard deviation from the mean. For practical purposes, it means fewer than…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

Behavioral matters

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The recent opinion has been that managed care is quickly running out of places to squeeze costs; the easy savings are gone, and all that’s left is to nit-pick every last nickel. This would mean that health insurance premiums would be on the rise at a much greater pace than they have been the last few years. But managed care may have one area that hasn’t been fully tapped. A recent study by the Center for the Advancement of Health indicated that if behaviors were better managed, chronic diseases, disabilities and premature death rates could be reduced. Nearly half of…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:40

A deeper look

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Ten years ago, executives at Waxman Consumer Products wanted to start a training program for their employees, but weren’t exactly sure what skills everyone needed — and from what point they should begin the training. To solve their dilemma, they hired a firm to perform psychological assessments of each employee, then used the results to determine where everyone stood and how to move forward. The testing was successful, helping the Bedford Heights-based company grow. Today, Waxman uses psychological assessments as a standard part of its recruiting process, says Charlene Levkanich, director of human resources. “It helps us identify candidates for…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Visionary's playbook

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Keith Krach has high expectations for the Internet economy. "This is the second Industrial Revolution," said the CEO and chairman of the board of Ariba, to members of the World Trade Center of Cleveland at the annual conference in May. "It's not only a technology shift, it's also a business model shift and a cultural shift." The revamping of the conventional business model is readily evident. Through the Internet, companies can access global economies of scale, develop process efficiencies and do business at a real-time pace. It's truly a win-win situation for everyone involved, Krach says. But you'd better do…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

The power of implementation

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By Joel Strom Over the past several months, this column has been devoted to operational succession planning, a process that ensures that you and your organization not only have a will, but that you have a way to make the future more secure. Here is a quick review of the first three steps: 1. Establish the vision to determine where you want the plan to take you. 2. Assess the current situation in the organization to determine the size of the gap between your vision and the reality. 3. Develop the plan to close the gaps and reach the vision.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Take it to the people

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In 1994, Katherine and Wayne Kleski only needed $3,000 and their living room to start a business that now boasts $8.1 million in annual sales. Of the four employees with whom the husband and wife team began the business, three were family members. This year, Katherine’s Collections at Silver Lake looks drastically different — the Kleskis employ 55 people and recently outgrew their facility in Twinsburg. The duo has a history of consistent growth, which seems likely to continue. Wayne Kleski worked in the gift industry for 25 years before going into business with his wife. He creates original designs…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Shifting into second

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Two years ago, Jim Browning took a leap of faith on his company's ability to adapt its technology to a completely new market. Today, Browning's Corsa Performance (SBN, February 1999) has garnered nearly a 50 percent market share against 14 competitors in the niche after-market industry of exhaust systems for high-performance vehicles, specifically the Corvette. "Our technology on automotive mufflers has set a new standard," says Browning, who in 1998 brought in a retired NASA acoustic engineer to help with design work. "What this has done is allow the combination of unrestricted air flow with a sound eliminating the resonance."…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Quest for excellence

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Overcoming the odds is a trait shared by many entrepreneurs. The ability to face failure, pick oneself up and continue on despite the warnings and naysaying of others is something few people can lay claim to. But each year, Ernst & Young LLP honors a select group of those people who have enough faith in themselves and belief in their business acumen to take everything that’s thrown at them and find a way to succeed. The 11 winners and 22 finalists of the 2000 Entrepreneur Of The Year program demonstrate a wide range of truly unique success stories in a…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Nurturing the seed

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The motive of venture capitalists is easy to understand. "We put money in to get more money out," says Daniel Kellogg, managing director of Crystal Internet Venture Funds LP. How likely they are to get that return on investment is the risky part. That said, investors at all levels are taking the risk in record numbers, and there is more venture money flowing into businesses than ever before. In 1993, venture capitalists raised about $20 billion, says Shanti Mittra, a partner with Primus Venture Partners Inc. In 1999, that skyrocketed to $100 billion. Kellogg and Mittra were part of the…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Mixing up the right medicine

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At a monthly meeting in January, Athersys’ director of molecular biology began the session with a slide depicting an F-18 fighter jet at the moment it was about to break the sound barrier. “When they go supersonic, under the right conditions, there’s this cone that forms around the nose of the aircraft and sort of snaps off as the jet goes through that visual embodiment of the sonic boom,” says Gil Van Bokkelen, CEO of the 6-year-old biomedical technology company. “He presented this picture and he said, ‘When I think about where we’re at, this is what I think of.…
Monday, 22 July 2002 09:39

Insider incentives

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It’s the kind of drama that would play well in Hollywood. A lowly employee discovers his company is overcharging the government, only to meet a wall of corporate opposition when trying to bring the problem to light. Ultimately, he strikes out on his own to expose the truth, because the public deserves to know. And, in the end, his only compensation is the knowledge that he made the right decision. That might make a decent plot for a movie, but the truth is, the federal government is willing to pay employees who expose businesses that overcharge Uncle Sam. It is…