Small Business

RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY: Is designing for blind worth the trouble and cost?Restricted Content

November 27, 2006
Tim Altom
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit stewing in the cauldron of a California federal court. There, the National Federation of the Blind has been allowed to go forward in its suit against Target Brands, which runs Target department stores, claiming that Target should have to make its Web site as easily accessible to the blind as its brick-and-mortar stores. I thought it would be an obscure case, but it's been puffed up into something of...
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'Tis the season for small businesses to party on: Close-knit companies more likely to hold holiday celebrations, but more firms of all sizes are getting into the spiritRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Cory Schouten
While many large companies have decided to scale back holiday parties or give them up entirely in recent years, small businesses continue to spend merrily on the annual gatherings. "They're doing well, making lots of money and want to celebrate with their employees," said Kathy Ray, director of catering at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Employees of small businesses are like families, so it makes sense that those companies would be less likely to eliminate or cut back on holiday get-togethers,...
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SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE MILESTONE ADVISORS: CFOs for hire: Company fills financial gaps Consultants provide expertise small businesses may be lackingRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Jo Ellen
SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE MILESTONE ADVISORS CFOs for hire: Company fills financial gaps Consultants provide expertise small businesses may be lacking Tom Gabbert and Glenn Dunlap started Milestone Advisors three years ago with a couple dozen clients already in tow, parlaying their previous experience and contacts into a new venture. They've been using it to help other businesses shore up their financial foundations ever since. Milestone Advisors provides financial management, strategic planning and related services to small to medium-size businesses with...
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Ex-Lilly execs take on diabetes with Carmel startupRestricted Content

November 6, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
Four former top scientists at Eli Lilly and Co. have formed a Carmel-based company to develop diabetes therapies--a venture observers say has the potential to become the kind of blockbuster success BioCrossroads was built to stimulate.
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9 ways to keep clientele coming back:Restricted Content

September 25, 2006
Ron Ackerman
The most reliable method for evaluating whether your business truly offers great customer service is customer retention. Customer-retention results reflect the customer's decision to purchase more of your products and services. After much research in this area, we know that these "re-purchase" decisions are based on three important evaluations. First, the customer decides whether you delivered the basic service promise. Did you deliver the package on time? Was the repair done correctly? Second, the customer makes some touchy-feely evaluations about...
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Ivy Tech to host SBDC: State hopes partnership will end instability, help local center shine as consultantRestricted Content

September 25, 2006
Scott Olson
The Central Indiana Small Business Development Center hasn't exactly been a pillar of stability that budding entrepreneurs seeking its advice could emulate. The entity, part of a statewide network of 11 such centers that counsel fledgling businesses, has struggled to find a permanent home-and a capable director-for five years. But state officials, eager to end the strife, have stepped in to lead a reorganization they hope will return the center to prominence within the local small-business community. For starters, Ivy...
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Service an edge for small firms: Make most of 'moments of truth':Restricted Content

September 25, 2006
Roger Schmenner
"If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will." This unattributed quote sums up the challenge facing every business, and especially small companies in the service and retail sectors. It's difficult for them to compete with their large counterparts on price-the neighborhood hardware store simply can't sell as cheaply as Wal-Mart. But they can win on customer service by seizing critical moments where customers can walk away delighted or disappointed. Successful service encounters, where these "moments of truth"...
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Experts: Plan for the worst: Anticipate succession before death, illnessRestricted Content

September 25, 2006
Tracy Donhardt
When Beth Dzuba's husband Mark died suddenly 18 months ago, running the leak-detection business he owned was the furthest thing from her mind. A marketing professional at Eli Lilly and Co., she knew nothing about the leak business, let alone how to run a company. The couple-married less than three years-had never even imagined such a tragedy, let alone discussed what to do with the business if the unthinkable happened. Nevertheless, Dzuba found herself dealing with her husband's business even...
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DIFFERENT TAKES: IS IT IMPORTANT FOR COMPANIES TO STAY LOCAL?Restricted Content

September 18, 2006
Mergers not only good for investors Keeping local roots is high priority DIFFERENT TAKES IS IT IMPORTANT FOR COMPANIES TO STAY LOCAL? When entrepreneurs or investors start companies, they do so with a goal in mind. That goal might be to create jobs, create value for investors or shareholders, develop local talent, build long-term capabilities for the company and the state's economy, produce a profit, or all of these. Chances of success rise as we embrace the idea of an...
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Small biz struggles in big-biz computer world RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY Tim Altom:Restricted Content

September 18, 2006
It's true that the rich get richer, although the rich have often learned to portray the burden on the little guy as inevitable and desirable progress. For evidence, look no further than Microsoft Office. It's written for the Fortune 500, not for microbusinesses. Office has long been criticized as a bloated monstrosity, full of obscure features that only big corporations with time on their hands ever figure out how to use. Office products have their own programming language you can...
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Here's a bright idea: Focused marketing:Restricted Content

August 28, 2006
Lorraine Ball
Even companies as large as Coca-Cola know that effective marketing begins with a clear definition of their target customer. Ask yourself this: When was the last time you had a Coke? Not the caffeinefree, diet, cherry, vanilla or whatever variety, but Coke-real, regular Coke. For some, the answer is today; for others, it might be last week, a few months ago, or so long ago they don't remember. I know I have not had a Coke since 1982, and more...
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25A-32A All in the family: Good relationships key to living and working togetherRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Tammy Lieber
25A-32A All in the family Good relationships key to living and working together The family that plays together stays together, as the old adage goes. But what about the family that works together? Many-if not most-of the estimated 450,000 small businesses in Indiana employ more than one family member, local smallbusiness experts say. In some cases, family involvement might be limited to a spouse who helps out with the books part-time or a child who comes into the office occasionally...
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Get a handle on customers, competition:Restricted Content

August 28, 2006
Jerry Clifford
To succeed, small businesses must attract and retain a growing base of satisfied customers. This activity is called marketing. There are two overriding principles: Company policies should be directed toward satisfying customer needs. And profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume. To best use these principles, smallbusiness owners should: Determine the needs of their customers through market research. Analyze the company's competitive advantages to develop a market strategy. Select specific markets to serve by targeted marketing. Determine...
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IEDC shelves proposal to copy Ohio initiative: Program matches promising startups with capitalRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
An Ohio program launched in 2003 to urge development of extremely earlystage companies has already spurred investments worth $239 million in 68 Buckeye startups. Venture capitalists would like to duplicate the program here. But their proposal has been languishing at the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for a month. "We have the application. We haven't done anything with it," said IEDC Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Bruce Kidd. "This is a classic steeple chase. You've got lots of hurdles to...
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Woman sets sights on freedom: Disability isn't keeping shop owner from goalRestricted Content

August 28, 2006
Candace Beaty
Two doors opened for Pam Evans on Aug. 5-one to her own clothing store and the other to her independence. The Cherry Shop represents both to Evans, who lost most of her sight over the course of a weekend in 1998 to a genetic eye disease called angioid streaks. Left with only her peripheral vision, she also lost her career in real estate and corporate sales. After a period of depression, Evans decided she wouldn't lose it all. "I felt...
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Workers can help lower health costs:Restricted Content

July 31, 2006
Philip T.
Health care costs keep small-business owners up at night. According to Forbes magazine, the cost of health care is rising at three times the rate of inflation. Because demand for medical treatment will continue to grow as Americans age, insurance premiums will continue to increase. Some small-business owners' first reaction is to shift rising costs to employees. Others simply eliminate health insurance benefits altogether. While this reduces expenses and raises profit in the short term, it ruins a company's ability...
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Venture Center's Beck plans seed capital fund: Former Rose-Hulman Ventures prez returns to townRestricted Content

July 31, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
Over the last three years at the helm of Indiana Venture Center Inc., one thing became all too clear to Steve Beck: Not much money is available locally for early-stage companies. So he's going to raise some himself. Last week, Beck, 59, announced he's stepping down as Indiana Venture Center president to become co-managing director of IVC Equity Partners, a new local seed capital fund. His IVC Equity cofounder is Scott Prince, 38, a Columbus native and Indiana University graduate...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Impact from small biz smaller than we think?Restricted Content

July 31, 2006
Patrick Barkey
The images are out there, reinforced almost every day. Big business is bad, led by overpaid executives who are out of touch and hire lobbyists to get laws changed in their favor. Or, worse yet, they drive smaller companies out of business. Small business, in contrast, is noble, led by energetic people following their dream, facing special challenges and deserving of our support. Nobody, it seems, is rooting for Wal-Mart to get bigger, and no one ever made a movie...
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SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE: JP PARKER CO.: Business blooming for specialty florist Flower farm, retail shop feed green thumb's growthRestricted Content

July 31, 2006
Jo Ellen
SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE JP PARKER CO. Business blooming for specialty florist Flower farm, retail shop feed green thumb's growth More than 300,000 sunflowers are in various stages of growth on Needham, Ind., farmland, where a third generation carries on the family tradition with a modern twist. These tall summer annuals follow a spring where 1,000 blooming peony plants yielded at least 11,000 stems for a Chicago broker. Smaller plots of delphiniums, larkspur, zinnias, coneflowers, mints, herbs and other greenery also...
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State awarenesss initiative targeting investment fraud: Program touts knowledge to prevent financial scamsRestricted Content

July 24, 2006
Tracy Donhardt
Conservative estimates put the amount of money Hoosiers are bilked by investment fraud scammers at $100 million a year. The high-end estimate for victims of pyramid scams, bogus gas and oil ventures and unscrupulous mortgage practices is closer to $800 million. Those involved in catching and prosecuting the scammers say proactively educating people about investments in general and scams in particular would go a long way toward helping the problem. "Our financial illiteracy is high," said Mark Maddox, managing partner...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Consumers rarely raise banks above commodity statusRestricted Content

July 24, 2006
Jeffrey A.
Toothpaste. Laundry bleach. Cat food. Banking services. Despite the hopes of many bank executives, vast numbers of consumers rarely elevate their banks beyond everyday commodity status. Through traditional advertising and marketing, many banks attempt to differenti ate themselves as the bank of choice or the bank that makes a difference. Repeat the tag line often enough and hopefully potential customers will start to believe it. One fact underscores this unfortunate commodity service status: According to recent market research, the No....
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New business incubator is made for minoritiesRestricted Content

July 17, 2006
Scott Olson
Black business owner Bob Logan is one of four entrepreneurs chosen by the Indiana Business Diversity Council as inaugural tenants of its unusual new incubator, which caters solely to minority-owned businesses.
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FINANCE: How will higher interest rates affect my loan?Restricted Content

June 26, 2006
Jean Wojtowicz
Every time the Q: Fe d e ra l Reserve raises rates, I expect to pay my bank more for financing. I guess I understand the reason for this-the government says it wants to guard against inflation-but the Fed's actions still make it hard for the small-business owner who needs to borrow money. How can I get the lowest possible rates? And what will my bank require of me that they don't now? Or is there any way around this...
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Builder targets entire block: Centex in talks to buy land from Shapiro's Deli, others for downtown developmentRestricted Content

June 26, 2006
Jennifer Whitson
A national home builder is negotiating to purchase an entire downtown block for a retailand-residential development-a project that could temporarily displace the landmark Shapiro's Deli. Dallas-based Centex Corp. says the block southeast of the planned Lucas Oil Stadium is among several downtown-area locations it is reviewing for its first local foray into urban residential development. Brian Shapiro, owner of Shapiro's Deli, 808 S. Meridian St., said he has not reached a final agreement to sell his property. But he hinted...
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SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE: A-1 VACUUM CLEANERS AND JANITORIAL SUPPLIES: Vacuum dealer on his own Franchise dissolution gave owner freedom and more responsibilityRestricted Content

June 26, 2006
Jo Ellen
SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE A-1 VACUUM CLEANERS AND JANITORIAL SUPPLIES Vacuum dealer on his own Franchise dissolution gave owner freedom and more responsibility For his entire adult life, Tony Stahl has been helping other people clean up their messes. From the time he graduated from John Marshall High School, Stahl has had A-1 Vacuum Cleaners as part of his work life, first as an employee and, most recently, as an owner. In fact, Stahl's work with vacuums and customers was so...
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