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Business Library

The Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber's Business Library is filled with informative, relevant articles for growing a business and advancing your career. If you are a Chamber member and would like to contribute to the library, contact Robin Granger at robing@acchamber.org or 518.431.1434.

Business Operations

Employer Access to Employee Text and Social Media Communications
by David Ganje | Ganje Law Office
Employer access to employee text message and social networking communications is both a new and controversial issue challenging today's courts. What most don't realize is that in the City of Ontario v. Quon, the United States Supreme Court seemingly paved the way for employers (at least public employers) to gain access to private text messages.
JulieAnn Calareso How to Plan a Smooth Business Succession
by JulieAnn Calareso | Burke & Casserly, P.C.
Whether you are an employee, solo entrepreneur, or the owner of a business, estate planning and business succession documents can protect you, your family and your business. Many times a business owner gives no thought to the legal side of a business after its formation. However,ensuring that proper legal documents are in place can allow the business to grow and thrive, even if you can no longer work.
Eric Mower and Associates (EMA), Group B2B Everything I Know about Surviving the Recession I learned from Tom Hanks
by John Favalo | Eric Mower and Associates (EMA), Group B2B
While the business environment is considerably more difficult than usual, it could be worse; it could be a matter of survival. Consider Tom Hanks in "Cast Away" and what he faced as an overweight, citified American stranded on a deserted island. Your plane goes down in a violent storm; everyone is lost but you; and you're in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your clothes and FedEx boxes. The way that Tom lived through hardship – and made it back – provides us with a great model for surviving this recession and moving ahead.
Business Process Improvement Uncovers Gems
by Ann Moynihan | Documentation Strategies
A formal business process improvement (BPI) effort can help to integrate software tools, business processes and human capabilities, but many businesses jump directly to tool selection without looking first at their processes and people.
Stan Simkins | Management Advisory Group Key Management Succession: Plan or Perish
by Stan Simkins | Management Advisory Group
History is replete with stories of companies whose futures were limited because their strong leaders neglected to provide competent successors. Leading financial sources attribute almost half of all business failures on the appointment of incompetents into key management positions. Providing for succession so that trained personnel can assume authority with a minimum of confusion should not be deferred until key executives approach retirement.
Vinny Sastri, Winovia LLC Six Sigma Demystified
by Vinny Sastri | Winovia LLC
Mention the words "Six Sigma" and it conjures up emotions from awe and admiration to skepticism and cynicism. Six Sigma does have a certain sense of mysticism about it, with such terms as "green belts," "black belts" and "critical to quality" in its vocabulary. So, what exactly is Six Sigma? A term coined by Motorola, Six Sigma is nothing new. It is an evolution of various quality initiatives, such as Total Quality Management, and is a standardized, rigorous, data-driven, problem-solving methodology.
Stan Simkins | Management Advisory Group So Much to do, so Little Time
by Stan Simkins | Management Advisory Group
The potential demand for succession planning and conflict management by family businesses is enormous. However, that demand lays virtually dormant. Could denial and ego be the cause of such neglect?
Jeff Sands | Dorset Partners Ten Steps to Improve Your Company Now
by Jeff Sands | Dorset Partners LLC
This too shall pass and we will have sunny days again. But, for 2009, you, me and the rest of the world are in for a tough ride. Now is the time to prepare. During my first business turnaround, my mentor tried to reassure me with a Freudian slip of, "it'll get painful before it gets worse." I know what he meant to say but we both realized the impending accuracy of his statement. It may indeed get painful before it gets worse. Brighter days are ahead if you make the right moves now.

Career Development

What’s Next? Planning the Good Retirement
an interview with Jon Allen, retirement transition coach | Performance Matters, Inc.
Most people ease into retirement without much thought.But Jon Allen, a retirement transition coach, says that’s not always the best way to move into the golden years. "People plan for vacations," says Allen, who is also an Albany-area management consultant and an executive coach. "Shouldn’t they plan their retirements too?" We asked Allen a few questions to learn what services are provided by retirement transition coaches, who focus on planning the non-financial aspects of retirement. Here’s what we learned.

Job vs. Career
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers in Transition LLC
Having multiple careers is an ever increasing trend. The average American may have two, three or even five careers during their lifetime, but even more extensive array of jobs. In the world of work, the terms "job," "occupation" and "career" are often used interchangeably. However, there are some major differences that need to be clarified.
Getting Into Better "Career Shape"
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers in Transition LLC
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to make 2011 a great year by setting some Career S.M.A.R.T Goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Time-Sensitive. If it is not a S.M.A.R.T. Goal, it is unlikely to be achieved. Here's a sample of suggestions to help you to stay in shape.
Dr. Thomas Denham, Careers in Transition Career Assessment and Exploration: Finding Your Passion
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers In Transition LLC
Do you ever feel that your job just ain't doing it for you anymore? You're not alone. Often it's because we are not doing work we feel passionate about. Since we spend more time at work than in any other aspect of our lives, finding our passion is the most important, neglected and difficult tasks in adulthood. It's important for business professionals to understand that there are three important steps to the career development process.
Dr. Thomas Denham, Careers in Transition The Career Be-Attitudes
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers In Transition LLC
The economy is changing the world of work. The new way of doing things requires not only technical mastery but also "soft skills" including integrative ability, reliability, dedication, determination and interpersonal relations. To stay ahead of the game, follow these 10 "be-attitudes" for your continued successful and healthy career development.
Ilana Smith Selling Yourself in an Interview
by Ilana Smith | Northwestern Mutual Financial Network
When going on a job interview, many people do not realize that it is really a sales call. You may not like the sound of that, but it is true. Employers are potentially making a large investment in you and they want to know what's in it for them. Interviewing properly will ensure that they buy brand "you." So before going on your "sales call," make sure you are fully prepared.
Annette Parisi Seven Tips to Advance Your Career
by Annette Parisi | Siena College Career Center
As you contemplate your career, where do you hope to be in five years? Three years? Next year? When you are satisfied with your current position, it can sometimes be easy to get complacent. However, humans are, by nature, geared towards growth. Sometimes that growth is more focused on our personal lives; other times on our professional lives. Here are seven quick tips to help grow and advance the professional aspects of your life while you think about your long-term goals.

Finances

Kathleen Godfrey Ten Important Responsibilities of an Executor
by Kathleen Godfrey | Godfrey Financial Associates, Inc.
When a Last Will and Testament is drafted, one of the most important considerations is the naming of an Executor or Executrix. Presumably, the Executor or Executrix is well-known by the decedent. However, this person often has little knowledge of their responsibilities. While not an exhaustive list, here are ten important responsibilities of an Executor or Executrix.

Generations in the Workplace

Michael Harrington, New Directions Consulting Gen Y: The Fuel That Drives the Engine
by Michael Harrington | New Directions Consulting
The first thing we must realize is that for all intents and purposes Gen Y is no different than the Baby Boomer generation was from the Veterans – a completely different set of morals and ethics, and a strong sense of individuality and paving their own way. Once we understand that, we can move past blaming the "person" for the attributes and accept that they are simply a product of the world they've grown up in. Events such as 9/11, the war on terror, a tech boom and the recent recession have all played a role in the creation of this generation.

International Business

How the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is Changing International Business Practices
by Jeffrey Harfenist and Patrick Hughes | UHY Advisors
When it came to doing business in almost all foreign countries, the practice of paying bribes – frequently justified as paying for access, consultations with 'experts' or streamlining the regulatory process – didn't pose a significant business risk to the arms-length-positioned company involved in the transaction. Bribes were justified as a culturally acceptable business practice to develop long-lasting relationships. In Europe they were even tax deductible.

Internet Security

Brian Rubscha Safer Browsing for a Safer (and More Productive) Tomorrow
by Brian Rubscha | SAGE Computer Associates
Rogue security software infections — which imitate real Windows and antivirus program alerts — are on the rise and have affected popular and trusted Web sites like CNN.com and Facebook. These attacks are hard to detect and currently antivirus software can't protect you from this threat as different versions are being spread every day. There are ways to a safer Web browsing experience that will keep you and your business protected from these attacks.

Managing

Mike Cook, Vitalwork Be Open to Coaching Before You Try to Coach
by Mike Cook | Vitalwork, Inc.
Constant and often unpredictable change is the way of our world in business now and likely will be for years to come. Managers now find themselves in situations that call for very particular kinds of working relationships with those who report to them, relationships that call for uncommon responsiveness and are built with an understanding that almost all skills and a lot of our knowledge will be outdated frequently. I'll call these "coaching" relationships.
Lisa Dunbar From Crisis Management to Controlled Management
by Lisa Dunbar | New Directions Consulting
Today's managers need more than just meeting the crisis of the moment; they need to be anticipating customer needs, improving the execution of all processes and deliverables, designing contingency plans that can be implemented immediately without input, empowering a more resourceful and competent work force, coaching a next generation of leaders and as individuals, and continuing to grow and further themselves.
Mike Cook, Vitalwork The Hidden Enemy of Sustained Success; Affordability
by Mike Cook | Vitalwork, Inc.
Why is it in almost every field of human endeavor that while outstanding performance is difficult to attain it is even more challenging to sustain? The problems we often have in our organizations or as managers start out as a deviation from accepted successful practice not corrected and then, allowed to persist, become "problems." Why would intelligent, successful companies or managers allow this? Because they can afford to ... or they at least think they can.
Mike Cook, Vitalwork Managing in the Middle: "I am a Middle Manager!" Say it Loud, Say it Proud
by Mike Cook | Vitalwork, Inc.
Middle management is not the cul de sac of career development, it is a legitimate destination and offers the opportunity to master and practice some pretty specialized skills that may eventually touch hundreds of lives in a positive fashion. The bad rap the profession has been given has come about primarily as a cultural explanation representing a win/lose mentality and poor selection practices developed by business leaders who did not realize just how critical the manager in the middle really is.
Dan Moran, Next-Act No Issue Goes Unresolved
by Dan Moran | Next-Act
Some people tend to be procrastinators. Why today, do it tomorrow? Worse yet, some let issues fester. Let it be, the issue will go away. I often hear about how an issue with a manager — simple issues — just go unresolved. In the interim, without resolution, one assumes the worst, tension builds and productivity suffers. It is about accountability and respect. You can retain people and build your business through simple ideas -- and not spend a penny.
Mike Cook, Vitalwork Trust — Can I Afford Not To?
by Mike Cook | Vitalwork, Inc.
Can you imagine being a manager and not trusting people? I don't necessarily mean specific people, I mean people in general. Many managers have "handy stories" justifying behavior that might otherwise be considered paranoid. I think you know the stories I mean, they usually include some element of "well you can never be too careful," or "if you want something done right do it yourself." So let's take a closer look at trust in a way that opens space for accountability.
Mike Cook, Vitalwork Which Would You Prefer: "Command and Control" or "Request and Results?" Don't Answer Too Fast!
by Mike Cook | Vitalwork, Inc.
Managers undermine their own power in relationship to the people who report to them by allowing all those people to relate to every request as though it were a demand. Don't confuse what I am saying here as inferring that you should not be insisting that people always give their best. I am talking about how you, as a manager, are connected to those who report to you in terms of what you truly need from them.

Marketing

Marketing Yourself
by Denise Horan | Integrated Management & Sales Consulting
What is the importance of a personal marketing plan? What do you think about when you hear someone talking about his or her "marketing plan"? You probably are thinking they are talking about their company's plan to promote their products and services. Have you ever considered that you may need your own personal marketing plan to promote "you"?
Sue Vellano | Best Cleaners Creating a Successful Image for Your Business
by Susan Vellano | Best Cleaners
Think about how you present yourself. This is most critical if you are a service business ... and who isn't in the service business? The impression you create in face-to-face contact must reflect your position in the market and create a market opportunity for your business every time you speak to others. People are seeking your credibility on the product or service you sell. To establish and maintain your credibility, you must follow your words with action.
Paul Carter The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business Today
by Paul Carter | ClickBasics Internet Marketing
Consider the phenomenal growth in the use of web tools like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This is a sign that customers are finding a solution to information overload by actively going after the information we want rather than just being the passive recipients of messages targeted at us by marketers. I say this is a revolution. And to grow our businesses in the midst of it is to start thinking in an entirely new way.
Rebecca Eppelmann Making the Pitch
by Rebecca Eppelmann | The Record
For many women they find it hard to believe that marketing affects how they shop. But companies devote a great deal of resources to researching consumer patterns. As the primary financial decision-makers in the household, marketing targets women on a widespread basis. And, yes, marketing departments have women figured out. Whether you are sad, happy or scared to find that out, they know — sometimes before you do.
Denise Horan, Integrated Management & Sales Consulting Marketing a Small or Solo Law Practice
by Denise Horan | Integrated Management & Sales Consulting
Gone are the days when a lawyer could simply hang out a shingle, make a few business cards and list his or her name in the phone book to get new clients. Most lawyers now must focus on business development, building relationships and marketing themselves. If you are a solo practitioner or a small firm, marketing can be difficult but it does not have to be that difficult if you follow a planning process, set goals and incorporate continuous marketing into your culture.
Cindy Hermann Marketing Aggressively...Now's the Time
by Cindy Hermann | Mogul Marketing
You're good. Your company's good. You've got great products. Now's the time to let people know it. It is easy to stand out when half the world is afraid and hiding. Many businesses are thriving. People are going to less expensive restaurants that deliver wholesome, reassuring, value. People are going for therapy to help them cope with their 401k statements. People are going to classes to learn new skills and increase their marketability. Alternative energy is thriving. There is opportunity when you look for it.
Denise Horan, Integrated Management & Sales Consulting Planning Your Marketing Strategy
by Denise Horan | Integrated Management & Sales Consulting
Before developing a marketing strategy, you will want to address your corporate vision and goals. Do you know why you are in business? Do you know what you would like your business to be in three years and beyond? Do you have a mission statement? Your vision and mission statement are more important than you may realize. This statement is your message to your clients, vendors and employees. It states who you are, your expectations of your stakeholders and your goals.
Malissa Pilette-McClenon Ten Ways to Improve Your Web Site's Search Engine Rankings
by Malissa Pilette-McClenon | AIDS Council of Northeastern New York
Your organization is great, you do great work, and you have a terrific Web site. The only problem is that no one can find you online. No matter what you do, you are still showing up pages deep in Google searches. But, don't worry; you can fix your low Google ranking with search engine optimization.
chad Advertising Blunders All Small Business Owners Make
by Chad Burkett, Marketing Consultant Albany Broadcasting
Once you’ve worked in advertising for a few years you begin to notice patterns.  There seems to be a level of consistency in the mistakes local advertisers make with their ad dollars.  I’m certain if you’ve  been in business for more than a few months you will probably realize you have made one or all of these mistakes.  Someone once told me it is only mistake if you make it twice.  Once you have read this article hopefully you can avoid these pitfalls.

Professional Development

Kat Koppett, Koppett + Company Everything Is An Offer: A Tip from the World of Improv
by Kat Koppett | Koppett + Company
For those of you who may not be familiar with the form, improv is the art of making stuff up. Improvisers work collaboratively to entertain diverse audiences by taking their suggestions and building stories, scenes, whole plays, in real time with no script or pre-planning. Sound scary? Perhaps. And it is what most of us do in one way or another every day. As the world moves faster and becomes more global and more volatile, there is less time to plan and more need for collaboration.

Retail

Beware of Purchasing Proprietary Credit Card Processing Terminals
by Michele Coons | Retail Council of New York State
When you purchase or lease a credit card processing terminal from your processor, make sure it is not a proprietary terminal before you sign a contract. A proprietary terminal can only be programmed to work with one or two specific processing companies. If you find better rates with another processor and wish to switch, you may have to purchase a new terminal and you may be out thousands of dollars.
Auto Settling Versus Manual Settling Credit Card Processing Terminals
by Michele Coons | Retail Council of New York State
Businesses are accustomed to settling (also called batching out) their credit card processing terminal at the end of each business day or first thing in the morning. Settling is the process of moving the transaction information from your business to the cardholder's (your customer's) financial institution. Your terminals can be programmed to settle automatically or manually. There are pros and cons for both methods and you should examine your individual business to decide which method is right for you.
Rebecca Marion Flach, Retail Council of New York State Digital Phone Lines Play Havoc With Credit Card Processing
by Michele Coons | Retail Council of New York State
Many businesses are making the jump to the very popular and highly advertised digital phone service. Before making the leap, however, give some thought to your credit card processing.

Safety

How to Instill a Culture of Safety in Your Business
by Paul Giannetti | Attorney at Law
No matter the type of business you operate, it’s critical that you cultivate a strong culture of safety throughout your organization. Having employees that feel healthy and safe in their workplace is not only excellent for morale and productivity, but a boon to your bottom line. Workers’ compensation benefits are a major expense for virtually every organization with employees. Employers spent about $ 77.1 billion nationally on workers’ compensation benefits in 2011, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Sales

Lorraine Ferguson, Direct Impact Associates, LLC Get Out of the Slow Lane
by Lorraine Ferguson | Direct Impact Associates, LLC
Like most sales professionals, you're probably concerned about how the economy will affect your business. You're wondering how you'll survive. Your survival instincts may be telling you to look for ways to conserve; to hang on to what you have and weather the storm. It may seem like the correct thing to do...but it's not. When the economy is slowing down, you need to speed up. If the economic pie is getting smaller, you need to get a bigger piece just to maintain your current levels.

Social Media

Erik Bunaes LinkedIn Insights: Step by Step Guide to Becoming a LinkedIn Power User
by Erik Bunaes, president, Endorphin Advisors and Endorphin Business Center LLC
Let's put aside for a moment any preconceptions you may have with social media. In this step-by-step guide, we'll show you first the true value of LinkedIn as today's ultimate online rolodex (for those that even remember those!). Next, we'll show you the specific steps to take to turn yourself into a LinkedIn power user.
Kara Conway Love 8 Steps in Writing a Social Media Policy for Your Business
by Kara Conway Love | The Law Office of Kara Conway Love
Regardless of the size of a company, management should adopt a carefully considered social media policy. Even if the company already has existing policies governing confidentiality of the company's business and trade secrets, along with proprietary information and policies prohibiting use of the
company's computers for personal use, companies still need to focus on the constantly evolving technological world in which we communicate.

Strategy

Denise Horan, Integrated Management & Sales Consulting Are You Ready for Better Days Ahead?
by Denise Horan | Integrated Management & Sales Consulting
Businesses often wait until their sales strengthen before spending time and money on marketing and business improvements. The managers of these businesses hesitate to forge ahead during the "slow periods" for many reasons, conserving money being primary among them. In contrast, the most successful businesses maintain an on-going commitment to continuous improvement … even during the "slow periods."
Deborah Mackin | New Directions Consulting Inc. No-Nonsense Goals for 2010: Developing a Lean and Mean Strategy
by Deborah Mackin | New Directions Consulting Inc.
Someone once said, "A goal is a dream with a deadline." For many organizations, the time is approaching to set goals for 2010. There's always lots of debate about how to set goals and whether they should be stretch goals. Fundamentally, goals occur at three different levels: strategic, operational and tactical. Looking at it from the bottom up, the accumulation of the tactical goals should achieve the operational goals which over a multiple-year process would then achieve the strategic goals.
Jeff Sands, Dorset Partners Preparing for the Recovery
by Jeff Sands | Dorset Partners LLC
I am pleased to announce that The Great Recession will soon end. The consumer will come out of hiding and stores will start moving wall art off their shelves. The sun will shine and our retirement accounts will steadily ratchet upwards in value. Without a doubt, this is true. Recovery is the natural order of things and it is our reward for having made it through the dark times. The great question for everyone right now should be: are you ready for the recovery?
Deborah Mackin | New Directions Consulting Inc. Strategic Planning or Strategic Dreaming: Which are You Doing?
by Deborah Mackin | New Directions Consulting Inc.
So many businesses and organizations are facing futures of uncertainty or tremendous demands; some need to reinvent themselves; others must transform into something completely new and different. The current strategic plan may now be obsolete, even while still in design. As we look to generating new plans, I believe there are some important things to keep in mind. It is helpful to look at an organization at three different levels: tactical, operational and strategic.
Dr. Thomas Denham, Careers in Transition Entrepreneurship: Mind Your Ps and Qs!
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers In Transition LLC
The economy is changing the world of work. The new way of doing things requires not only technical mastery but also "soft skills" including integrative ability, reliability, dedication, determination and interpersonal relations. To stay ahead of the game, follow these 10 "be-attitudes" for your continued successful and healthy career development.
Dr. Thomas Denham, Careers in Transition So You Want to Be An Entrepreneur
by Dr. Thomas J. Denham, MCDP | Careers In Transition LLC
After being repeatedly rejected during a job search that has taken far longer than you ever expected, you may want to rethink where you're putting your energies. Instead of chasing after employers, consider starting a business and switch to chasing after customers.

 Web Applications

Michael Holtzman, Gavant Software Push the Easy Button
by Michael Holtzman | Gavant Software
Today, businesses have many advantages when opting to use custom Web applications. A web application is internet-based software that simplifies and improves workflow. Unique applications can be used internally or externally for employees and customers alike. Web applications are designed to streamline tasks, centralize information, improve communication and facilitate customization.There are numerous advantages, cost savings and new opportunities to explore via Web applications.

Workplace Wellness

What is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?
by Shannon Keyes | Key2Joy
There are many complementary modalities used today in relieving and, in some cases, healing physical and emotional pain. Complementary medicine focuses on using non-traditional (predominantly Eastern) techniques in conjunction with Western medicine to aid the body in healing. One complementary modality that has been used for years with great success on a wide range of emotional, health, and performance issues is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
Seven Steps to Make Your Resolve Stick
by Julie Ann Price | Health-e-Coach
"I resolve to..." For many, that sentence will end with words like "start working out," "lose 10 pounds." Whatever your resolution, if it is health related, you will probably consider starting a fitness routine. How would you like to make this "your year?" You can stick to a fitness program if you have the right ingredients before you start. Just like baking bread, there are steps you need to follow for the best results.
Karen Smith | Rose & Kiernan, Inc.

Why Workplace Wellness is Important
by Karen Smith | Rose & Kiernan, Inc.
Between 70 to 90 percent of health care spending is caused by preventable, modifiable health risks such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Employee health affects more than just medical costs. Unhealthy lifestyle choices often lead to chronic diseases, costing businesses more than one trillion dollars in lost productivity alone. Companies that promote healthier behaviors in their employees will see a significant pay off.

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