Small Business

Embarking on a new Venture: New leader planning progressive changes at center, not a total revampingRestricted Content

April 30, 2007
Scott Olson
The new leader of the Indiana Venture Center is beginning to put his stamp on the not-for-profit that mentors promising startups. James Eifert, 64, is the former president of Terre Haute-based Rose-Hulman Ventures who took charge of the center in December following the July resignation of Steve Beck. Beck left to become co-managing director of IVC Equity Partners, a new local seed-capital fund. Chief items on Eifert's to-do list are broadening the donor base, revamping the Venture Center's proprietary network...
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EYE ON THE PIE: Whom will the state subsidize next?Restricted Content

April 2, 2007
Morton Marcus
Last week, I was walking on the Statehouse grounds and I saw some folks with large green pins on their lapels. "What do those stand for?" I asked. "Small businesses need Electronic Gaming Devices" one wearer told me. "That's for bars," I commented. The reply I got was not friendly. In the newspapers and on TV during the same week, there were features about horse breeders "needing" more state subsidies from slot machines at racetracks to "keep the industry alive."...
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Invoice-borrowing a growing credit optionRestricted Content

March 26, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
Bank loans and credit cards are common solutions to small businesses' cash-flow crunches, but small-business owners increasingly have another option: using unpaid invoices as collateral to borrow money from investors.
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EYE ON THE PIE: Indiana less entrepreneurial than nationRestricted Content

March 26, 2007
Morton Marcus
For many people, owning a business is a dream. As a nation, we idolize such people as "entrepreneurs." We assemble data that show "small business" as the heart of the economy (even though the definition of "small" is fewer than 500 employees). Let's look at this segment of the economy. Oops. The data we have are not as good as we want. We do not know how many proprietors or business operators are full-time and how many are part-time. It...
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SBDC network gets new chief

March 26, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
After about seven months without a leader, the Indiana Small Business Development Center network has found one in Jeff Heinzmann. An attorney by training, the 39-year-old is charged with getting the statewide system of 11 regional centers on track in their efforts to help entrepreneurs get started and grow. Despite their connection, the Indiana centers for the most part have operated independently, and some-like the central Indiana office serving Marion and the surrounding counties-have struggled for stability. Heinzmann aims to...
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Sarbanes reprieve possible: Lawmakers consider extension for small bizRestricted Content

March 19, 2007
Scott Olson
Small public companies yet to comply with the stringent accounting provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could receive a reprieve from federal regulators weighing a one-year extension. Section 404 of the act requires public corporations to assess their internal accounting controls to ensure their financial reporting is accurate-and requires accounting firms to vouch for those controls. To comply with the act, which was enacted in the wake of financial scandals at Enron Corp. and MCI WorldCom, public companies have devoted thousands...
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Tax break would reward patent producers: Indiana legislators view bill as way to attract young, innovative high-tech companies and solo entrepreneursRestricted Content

March 12, 2007
Scott Olson
A bill weaving its way through the Indiana General Assembly could give the state an edge in attracting and growing the type of high-tech ventures several states covet. Indiana House Bill 1461, introduced by Rep. Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, advanced to the Senate after sailing through the House of Representatives on Feb. 26 by a vote of 95-3. The legislation that was referred to the Senate's Economic Development and Technology Committee would provide a tax incentive that would shield income from...
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Making connections: Networking groups help business owners reach outRestricted Content

February 26, 2007
Cory Schouten
Small-business owners know building relationships helps build business. But cultivating strategic connections also takes time-one commodity that's always in short supply. That's where networking groups come in. A growing number of such organizations are working to connect busy business owners so they can trade advice and customer leads in a short span of time. With weekly or monthly meetings, the groups promise a one-stop opportunity to make dozens of contacts that can lead directly to sales. One of the fastest-growing...
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New NFIB boss knows politics: State chapter to devote more time to campaignsRestricted Content

February 26, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
Kevin Hughes cut his teeth in the political world. Now he's taking a bite out of small business, as the new state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. Hughes, 30, has never owned his own business, but he worked for six years at the Ohio State Legislature as a legislative aide and for the Senate Republicans there. He also worked on several campaigns. In 2004, Hughes took a job as the Midwest regional political director for NFIB in...
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Interstate 69 corridor luring more distribution buildings: Unlike busy Plainfield market, where projects are huge, Fishers, Noblesville attracting smaller warehousesRestricted Content

February 19, 2007
Scott Olson
Two massive developments with sizable retail components along the Interstate 69 corridor in Hamilton County are helping to spur the construction of several nearby distribution centers. The light industrial space rising near Fishers and Noblesville is unlike the monstrous warehouse projects prevalent west of Indianapolis in Plainfield and popping up within the Anson project near Whitestown. They instead are mediumsize warehouse or showroom space meant for small businesses expected to populate Hamilton Town Center and Saxony at the Exit 10...
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Cross-border investment in real estate on the rise: Local brokerages playing a role in growing trendRestricted Content

February 19, 2007
Jennifer Whitson
In 2006, $645 billion was sunk into real estate investments across the globe, according to a recent Cushman & Wakefield report. Of that, $187 billion was sent across borders to invest. And companies everywhere are chasing the most cost-effective spots to locate factories and needed hubs for office space. With all that cash changing hands, several locally based companies have made sure they're positioned to help play a part. Take Indianapolis-based HDG Mansur, for example. In the field for 25...
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Forensic engineering firm seeks defense work: New initiative hopes to help other local firms follow in Wolf Technical's footstepsRestricted Content

February 12, 2007
Peter Schnitzler
After 30 years in the forensic-engineering business, Wolf Technical Services Inc. has analyzed everything from deadly car crashes to patent infringement. Now, Indianapolis-based Wolf is hoping to diversify into a new area: federal defense contracting. It's a field local corporate leaders hope Indiana will tap much more frequently in the years to come. "We don't quite know at the moment where this could lead," said Wolf Director of Client Relations Joseph Ward. "And that's the fun part." The 30-employee Wolf's...
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CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: It's déjà vu all over againRestricted Content

February 5, 2007
CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary It's déjà vu all over again Every once in a while, I'm struck by the same-ness of things. My last column was filed from Florida, as was last year's second column in January. This week's is being written upon my return from a publisher's meeting in Puerto Vallarta, as was last year's first February column. That's a little scary. Is my life getting to be that predictable? Remember my passport debacle from last year? This year in...
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Small-business optimism drops: National business group forecasts slow-but-steady growth in 2007, unlike torrid pace that kicked off last yearRestricted Content

January 29, 2007
Cory Schouten
Small-business owners aren't nearly as optimistic about 2007 as they were heading into last year, thanks to a slowing economy and lower spending rates, a report from the National Federation of Independent Business shows. Still, many small businesses in Indiana and elsewhere expect to grow steadily and add to their work forces in 2007. In the next three months, 14 percent of small businesses plan to create jobs and 26 percent plan to make a capital expenditure, the NFIB says....
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Program to offer cyber help for charities: IUPUI initiative creates database of consultantsRestricted Content

January 8, 2007
Tom Murphy
The IUPUI Solution Center soon will expand into cyberspace, launching a free Web site not-for-profits can use to network and find consultants. Its new Nonprofit Solutions Initiative will run the site and provide a database of consultants grouped by 25 areas of expertise. The site also will offer advice on how to work with them. The Solution Center, launched in 2003 with the help of a Lilly Endowment Inc. grant, helps bolster small businesses and not-for-profits. The new initiative, which...
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Small talk with new SBDC chief: Central Indiana counseling office gets fresh start after years of uncertaintyRestricted Content

December 25, 2006
Cory Schouten
Victoria Hall this year took over the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center, which counsels more than 500 Hoosier entrepreneurs annually. Hall, a former vice president for H&R Block Tax Services, oversees four employees, including three business counselors. She also teaches part-time at Ivy Tech Community College, which hosts the local SBDC. She earned her MBA from the Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne. One of 11 regional centers in Indiana, Central Indiana SBDC has been plagued in recent...
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Small biz unsure about '07: Legislative agenda is clear, but advocates still worriedRestricted Content

December 25, 2006
Cory Schouten
Big changes at the Statehouse, including a shift to Democratic control in the House of Representatives and a leadership switch in the Senate, mean there are more unknowns and more unpredictability. Meanwhile, top issues such as health insurance, tax reforms and regulatory changes provide a minefield of concerns for small-business owners. New health insurance mandates could add to already skyrocketing premiums. New local taxing authority could increase the burden on small businesses. Changes to the state's regulatory structure could dramatically...
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TOM HARTON Commentary: Business in a hole climbs outRestricted Content

December 4, 2006
Everyone says owning a restaurant is hard work. But for Tracy Robertson, not owning one has been much harder. Robertson's restaurant, the 745 Bar & Grill, hasn't served a burger or a beer since the afternoon of Jan. 25, 2005. That's when the 745 literally fell into a hole. A cook, a bartender and five patrons escaped just moments before the restaurant collapsed into the excavation pit for what is now the 757 Mass Ave condominium building. In an instant,...
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Surveillance success: Greenwood-based security firm's rapid growth draws national noticeRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Cory Schouten
They all have high-tech surveillance systems from Greenwood-based American Sentry Guard. The company specializes in building and distributing "intelligent video" systems capable of linking digital video with other computer-based information, such as sales transaction records. Clients include schools, banks, casinos, government agencies and small businesses. Founded in 1999 by father-son team Jack and Jeff Brummett, American Sentry has become one of the nation's fastest-growing privately held companies. This year, Inc. magazine ranked the company 150th on its "Inc. 500" list,...
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State's venture capital incentive seldom usedRestricted Content

November 27, 2006
Peter Schnitzler
Since the inception of the state's Venture Capital Investment Tax Credit in late 2003, investors have claimed only about one-third of the $37.5 million in credits available, according to an IBJ analysis of the program.
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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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