Small Business

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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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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