Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Aging in Place

Where are the best places to live successfully as you get older? This study ranks the top 20 metro and rural areas.

Curiously, none of them are on the West Coast and only one, Gainesville, Fla., is in what might be considered a traditional retirement area. Interesting.

It turns out that most Americans want to stay put as they get older. I wrote recently about how contractors and remodelers can take advantage of the desire from aging homeowners to refurbish their houses to accommodate their changing needs.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

The End of Writers?

This article claims that writing is set to disappear as a profession, because there's so much free content available online.

I'm skeptical. Yes, the Internet is changing writing in general, and journalism specifically, in huge ways.

But while lots of people want to write, not everybody can do it well. In fact, most people don't do it very well, from what I can tell as a lifelong avid reader. And I think the public will always be willing to pay something for the best writing, no matter how much free dreck is available out there.

Consider this: There are likely millions of recipes and food tips available for free online. I quit buying cookbooks and used Google recipe for a while, but I was never very happy with my results.

Then, earlier this year, I found Cook's Illustrated. For a modest annual fee, I get unlimited access to quality, tested recipes, detailed product comparisons and instructional videos. It's fantastic and I'm happy to pay for it.

I think that's where writing is going, as readers claw their way through lots of free material of varying quality and decide to continue paying for their favorite stuff.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Trade Ya

Barter is one of those concepts that sounds good, but never seems to get real traction.

Learn how trade exchanges work and whether they can help you conserve cash and win new business in your company's downtime.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Author, Author!

So, you think you want to be an author! Congrats.

Now read these humorous - and practical - tips  on how to write a best-selling business book over at the BW Small Biz site.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Forever Young?

Baby Boomers have reinvented themselves, and remodeled their homes, more than any other generation.

Now, they are set for one last frenzy of remodeling, this time to enable them to stay put as they get older. If contractors, two-thirds of whom are one-man shops, can persuade them they're not forever-young Peter Pans, they can win substantial new business in the next few years.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Don't Get Scammed

Looking for entrepreneurial opportunities? Watch out for sophisticated-looking ripoffs. 

I saw some of these websites and they are pretty persuasive, sadly.

The USA.gov site has these tips for spotting frauds:

The potential employer says you can make fast money working from home.
You are asked to pay money to the employer up front.
Emails from the employer are full of spelling and grammatical errors.
The employer asks for personal and bank account information upfront.
You are asked to transfer money through Western Union or MoneyGram.

Shoeless in Saudi

It's a tough road for a Lebanese shoemaker to export patented products to the U.S. for an Internet "flash sale."

See what my experts advise in this week's column.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teaching Teens

It seems controversial these days, but not everyone is cut out for a four-year college course of study.

There are good jobs - jobs going begging, in fact - in the trades and manufacturing areas where many people have strong aptitude. But because they no longer involve just "swinging a hammer," qualified applicants need to get some post-secondary training in order to do them.

Check out my column about some small manufacturers partnering with high schools to train future employees.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lost In Translation

A reader asks about the future of the translation industry, which is dominated by small firms.

My take? Despite the encroachment of technology, translating and interpreting are pretty much "recession-proof."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hanger Hang-Up

Do those wire hangers from the dry cleaners bug you as much as they bug me?

They're too flimsy to keep using, but I hate tossing them out. I recently donated a bundle of them to the local charity that picks up old clothes from my doorstep. They use them to display clothes in their thrift store.

But it's nice to know that dry cleaners themselves (most of whom are small businesses) are getting into the act. In fact, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (who knew?) aims to recycle enough steel to match six Statues of Liberty:

That's 750 tons of steel. In addition to her 125 tons of steel, Lady Liberty also contains 31 tons of copper and her base is made of 27,000 tons of concrete. As of today, participating cleaners have pledged to reuse or recycle 16 million hangers, the 2012 goal is 25 million.
Here's a list of drycleaners who are participating in the recycling program. Look one up in your area and give them a try.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Road Map to Success

What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

Check out this road map and see how you fit the image:
Rasmussen College