Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why more people aren’t going green

For some reason I was under the impression that going green has become trendy and popular enough that most people have gotten on board. But I guess I was wrong.

According to research from GfK Roper Consulting, 60 percent of the people polled believe green products are too costly – six percent more than felt that way in 2006. In addition, 28 percent say they are “too busy” to do what it takes to become green. Hmmm.

Forgetting the implications of what would happen if the whole planet’s ecosystem collapsed – including the cost and time involved with trying to survive a James Cameron-like disaster – the fact is going green doesn’t always have to cost more and take more time. In fact, sometimes it can cost less and save time.

That’s certainly the case with MyFax. It eliminates an expensive piece of office equipment, the dedicated fax machine, saving both the initial cost and the challenge of safe disposal when it has finished its useful life. It also helps reduce paper costs – documents arrive electronically, so you only print what you choose to print. It saves on electricity too, since you don’t have to power a separate machine just for faxes. (For more on how MyFax helps conserve natural resources while saving you money, check out this site.)

As for those that think they’re too busy, MyFax lets you send and receive faxes through your email account, whether it’s on a PC, laptop, smart phone or other device. No more trying to track down a piece of paper, and no more having to go all the way back to the office to view or send an important fax. It’s a great way to save time while keeping the work flowing.

The bottom line is there are ways to both go green and save money and/or time. We’ve shown you ours. What are some of the ways you do it?

Friday, December 18, 2009

More money for small businesses

Looks like there is some good news for small businesses as we head into 2010. The U.S. Congress has approved an increase in funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) according to a New York Times article.

Part of that money will be used to hire more employees, which should hopefully speed the application and approval process. But there should also be more money available for loans at a lower cost. The government is also looking into continuing to guarantee 7(a) loans at 90 percent, which makes them a lot more palatable to local banks that are still reeling from the collapse of the loan market in 2008.

Running a small business can be financially challenging even in good economic times. In the current economy it’s downright nerve-wracking. These increases to the SBA, along with a continuation of the stimulus package (hopefully), should help ease some of the burden.

Have you taken advantage of an SBA loan yet, either a regular loan or one of the microloans they’re offering? If so, what has been your experience?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Students exhibit fax art in Baltimore

Bet you never knew faxing was an art form. Me either, until I saw this article about an exhibit currently running at the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore.

They are showing drawings from several students that were sent to the museum by fax. Each week a different school is highlighted, so there is a wide range of art styles and drawings to view. The article says the program is there to encourage students to explore the relationship between technology and art, among other things.

Even more interesting is that the student exhibit is part of a larger program featuring fax artwork from Kay Rosen, Tauba Auerbach, Johannes Wohnseifer and Pierre Bismuth. Who knew there were so many artists working in the medium of faxing?

If you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the student exhibit runs through December 20.

Which begs the question: have any of you ever seen or even participated in a fax art exhibit?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Surviving the 2009 holiday season

For many of us, the phrase “surviving the holiday season” means limiting weight gain to five pounds or fewer or shopping without getting pummeled by our fellow shoppers. For small business owners, though, there are some other, more serious considerations according to this post in the Mainstreet Business Journal.

One of the biggest is making sure customers don’t get so distracted with the holidays that they forget to pay their bills on time. Most people like to take a little time off around the holidays, and when they do they tend to lose track of the normal rhythm of the business.

Monitoring your receivables, and reminding customers about payment, becomes critical at this time of the year. After all, if you don’t receive payment before December 24, you probably won’t see it until after January 4, 2010.

Another good one is to involve your employees in what’s happening in the business. If they feel like they have more of a stake in it they’re likely to work a little harder and give a little more of themselves.

Something else you can do is find a way to reward employees even if you can’t pay regular bonuses. For most people the reward isn’t about the amount, it’s about appreciation and recognition of their efforts. Give each one an extra day, or even a half day, to go shopping or take care of other needs. Buy them a nice but inexpensive gift, or give each a plate of cookies with an apology that you couldn’t do more right now. Doing something, no matter how small, shows that you value their contribution. That goes a long way, especially in tough times.

What else do you think is important for businesses to do to survive the holiday season?