Do new FDA processor rules affect you?

Why rural small business website about pages need photos. Current tech for law firms. Help with hiring. More

You’re probably wasting money these ways

To avoid falling into one of the top five ways entrepreneurs waste money, don’t miss these tips and actions to take this week.

See if new FDA rules affect your food business

The FDA recently released Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food  covers facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the US. If that description fits your business do these three things in order:

  1. Check to see whether you are exempt from registering.
  2. If you aren’t exempt from registering, check whether you are you belong to one of the farm mixed-type and small-scale facilities that are exempt from the rules.
  3. If your facility is fully covered by the rules, check the requirements, including alternate requirements for facilities that supply from farms and small facilities.

Ideas for website about pages

Today’s consumers expect web sites to engage with them. That means having an about page with personality. Here are some About pages for inspiration.  Tip:  In rural communities,  business owner(s) and employees are walking ads for the business; identify them with photos.

Two small business tips for rural NY law firms

Note: A free ALM account is required to read the Legaltech News articles linked to here.

  1. In the legal field, there are still people using the equivalent of pay phones. Here are some ways to tell if your firm is one of the technological laggards, and how to adjust accordingly.
  2. Security should be a top priority for law firms, but when asked this year if their firm was ever infected with virus/spyware/malware, 42.4 percent said yes; 34.9 percent said no; and 22.7 percent did not know. Read more.

Help for small business hiring

This very basic guide to hiring will help if you’re new to hiring or haven’t had to hire in a while.  These tips on social media to fill jobs are useful not only for hiring employees but also for finding freelancers, a.k.a. “1099 workers.”

Franchise list for wannabe business owners

This list of 158 recently started franchises is a good place for a budding entrepreneur to start thinking about what kind of business to start. Even if buying a franchise has no appeal, the list may suggest a problem to solve or need to meet with a new, rural New York business .

More off-road Northville-Placid Trail added

More than 23 miles of new trail on the Northville-Placid Trail route were opened last week The new trail reroutes eliminating 15.5 miles of road walking along the route. Communities along the 135-mile route from Fulton County to Essex County hope the changes will bring more tourists to the area.

North Country picks priorities for state funding

Two projects that would create indoor agricultural opportunities in the Malone area were among 23 proposals across a seven-county region designated last week by the North County Regional Economic Development Council as priorities for state funding .



Waste not, want not

Plan your startup right. Don’t waste money. News from the food front.

Start and maintain a business that cannot fail

Keeping from failing means using your head. If you are just thinking about a business you can use these eight questions to get started right. And if you are already in business, using the questions to reassess your business can lead to bigger profits. Tip: Be sure to use the Actions This Week guidance.

Legal help for those aspiring to be the next Apple

Businesses with fewer than 10 employees rarely need help with IPOs and such, but has a glossary that can be helpful in deciphering legal lingo for those seeking to incorporate.

Make your money go further

PC Magazine‘s newsletter Best Deals not only finds the best deals in technology like computers, cameras, and software, but also offers items such as a $100 CVS Pharmacy Gift Card for $88 (with free shipping) or a year of Amazon Prime for $69. Choose it and other free newsletters from pc.mag.

Do you buy online ads?

Depending on the study you read, the proportion of the ad impressions seen by actual people runs between 2 and 20 percent. So-called click fraud will cost companies more than $6 billion this year.

Online commerce alternatives to Amazon Webstore

Amazon has tapped Shopify as the provider to whom Amazon customers will migrate when it discontinues its Webstore in 2016, but Shopify isn’t the only alternative. Other online commerce options are available that create a mobile, tablet, and desktop website with merchant features such as payment processing, shipping services, and inventory and order management.

News from the food front

  • A county-level study shows crop diversity declining nationwide, but New York is in one of the areas with the most crop diversity.  Diversity insulates us  from environmental threats that wipe out whole crops in a region, putting the region, as well as its farmers, at risk.
  • Operators of community-supported agriculture businesses are younger and have more formal education than traditional farmers. CSAs’ direct marketing approach does not insulate them from traditional farm risks.
  • Target has joined Walmart, Google, and Amazon in trying for a slice of the big, lucrative grocery delivery  business. Customers want the convenience of online ordering  plus home- or in-store delivery.
  • Kroger has entered the organic grocery business with main-stream affordable prices,  and its own line of organic products.  Kroger also allows consumers to use social media and other technology in store.
  • Hank’s X-tra Special bean will bake again. Once grown in Ghent, the heirloom bean  is grown again in the Hudson Valley through joint efforts of farmers, restaurateurs, the Hudson Valley Seed Library, and the agricultural nonprofit Glynwood.

Change is a good thing

Standard business failure rate data questioned. Tech and marketing skills you need to learn.  Business research fun.

Convert visitors to sales with good CTA

Crafting a call to action that coverts your website, blog, or Facebook page visitors into buyers is essential to keep marketing costs under control. Learn three questions to ask yourself to help you craft an effective CTA.

21st century tech tools you need

You’ll need to know at least enough about each of these eight tech tools to outsource work to someone who knows their stuff. The more you know, the less likely it is you’ll be ripped off.

Bulk meat buys aided by communal locker

Corning area buyers can purchase meat directly from farmers who deliver it —cut, wrapped, and frozen—to inexpensive, shared freezer space. The Corning Meat Locker is a project of the Finger Lakes Meat Project. [Hat Tip to WSKG News.]

3 upstate counties get state energy grants

Three of five clean energy grants announced Wednesday by Gov. Cuomo went to upstate counties. Oswego and Lewis counties have been awarded state grants to add capacity to existing hydroelectric facilities. Chautauqua county’s grant is for a wind farm.

Startups fail fast—or do they?

It’s long been said that half of all startups fail in the first year. The conventional wisdom is displayed in an infographic of failure rates for business startups, including failure rates for the three most frequently attempted types of businesses.

On the other hand, the Statistic Brain Research Institute’s study in July found lower failure rates: Across all sectors, 25 percent failed by the end of the first year, 36 percent by the end of year two, and 44 percent by the end of the third year of operation. The major cause of business failure: incompetence.

Farmers urged to consider tile drainage

A Northern New York Agricultural Development Program project report encourages farmers to consider the benefits of tile drainage to both crop production and environmental stewardship.

Do some fun business research this weekend

Seeing what folks outside your local area are doing can be a great way to find ideas to adopt/adapt for your business. You can take family or friends along on these three, no-admission research opportunities this weekend:

  • Cauliflower Festival. Saturday, Sept. 26., 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.  Margaretville Village Park.
  • Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. Saturday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cantine Field, Saugerties. [via ]
  • Grains and Planes.  Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday Sept. 2,  1 to 5 p.m.  Meadeville Farm Pumpkin Patch, Seneca Falls. [via]

Learning opportunities coming up soon

The 2015 Sheep & Goat Symposium, Friday through Sunday, Oct. 2 to Oct. 4,  at Cornell University.

Hops handling, post harvest; workshop and microbrewery tour. Thursday, Oct 22 in East Aurora.


Start, expand, or rethink a business

Don’t lose your vision. Do your homework. Look for new opportunities.

Information for trucking industry startups

The Small Business Administration has published two blog posts of information for people interested in starting a trucking business. The first discusses the highly competitive trucking industry and gives guidelines to save a startup  time, money, and energy. The second covers specific rules and regulations of the industry.

Price services a bit above what feels comfortable

If you sell a service, work to attract customers who understand the value of spending more to hire someone who provides service better than the rest. You are better than your competitors, aren’t you?

Exporting to Cuba: What you need to know

Bureau of Industry (BIS) under the U.S. Department of Commerce has printed guidance about exporting to Cuba. The agency has also scheduled phone conferences on the topic at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 13, Nov. 10, and Dec.8. Toll Free Number: 1-888-889-0538. Participant passcode: CUBA

Learn a lesson from troubled golden arches

This year McDonald’s will close more restaurants it owns in the U.S. than it opens, and franchise owners aren’t happy either. The problem: Going trendy and ignoring its fundamental vision of serving good food, fast.

Get free professional-level social media training

Hootsuite, the social media management system, is introducing a new, free social media education program called Podium. Hootsuite’s training is so good, it’s used at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

Amazon launches a $50 tablet and three more

Amazon has four new tablets out. The $49.95 won’t run business software, but it might be useful for such things as:

  • showing a video to a customer at a work site
  • having store visitors  take a survey while they wait to check out
  • getting permission to send customers marketing messages by collecting their email address or cell number while you ring up their sale.

Bloomberg: Rent crisis is about to get worse

With rent costs rising faster than wages, the number of consumers spending 50 percent or more of household income on rent is rising. Especially hard hit will be the poor—more prevalent in rural than in urban areas—the elderly, and children under age 6.  Renters’ problems can present challenges  and/or opportunities for small businesses.

Save on interest on credit card balance

Chase Slate, with its lengthy 0% intro APR and no balance transfer fee, can save you a bundle if you’re currently paying interest on another credit card.

Are you ready for pheasant hunters?

The DEC will release about 30,000 adult pheasants on lands open to public hunting for the pheasant hunting season, which begins Oct. 1 in northern and eastern portions of New York, Oct. 17 in central and western portions.

Could we have some feedback, please?

Budget for bigger expenses

Required EMV technology for card reader terminals and likely minimum wage hike to $15 an hour are on the way.

Business Council expects  $15/hour minimum wage

Expecting that the $15 an hour minimum wage it opposes will be approved in 2016, the New York Business Council is already planning mitigation measures to insert into the law. Ideas include small business tax cuts and special rules for youths seeking entry level jobs.

SBA drought relief help for more than farmers

Farm operations and other upstate entities (including not-for-profits) affected by the drought that began June 1 are eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The disaster declaration covers Albany, Columbia, Essex, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties in New York.

New website search engine available free

Having a search function is essential for a website that’s more than a single page. Swiftype installs with a few lines of code—copy and paste—and gives customers the info they’re after quickly and painlessly.

Swiftype’s free service covers sites up to 500 “documents” (webpages) and includes 1,000 searches a month. With good site navigation and a good site map, I suspect most small business sites would qualify for the free rate.

Email is the Swiss Army Knife of marketing

If your business’s email list isn’t one of its most valuable assets, chances are you are missing out on a lot of business.  Learn what email can do.

Running late for Oct. 1 switch to chip tech?

The Small Business Administration says the majority of small businesses still haven’t upgraded their payment systems to terminals equipped to accept EMV chip cards, leaving the small business—not the credit card company—liable for fraudulent uses of cards at their businesses after October 1. The SBA’s next webinar on the switch to chip card technology is tomorrow, Sept. 22, at 2 pm. Click to register.

Tax code changes proposed to aid farmers

US Sen. Charles Schumer introduced federal tax code legislation designed to match depreciation with the life of agricultural machines, such as tractors. The changes would allow farmers to buy new equipment sooner.

Learning opportunities coming up

Syracuse Food Justice Symposium, “Taking Back Our Health through Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture,” Oct. 2-3 in Syracuse.

“Making the Most of Your Woods,” workshop for woodland owners on/near the Rensselaer Plateau, Oct. 17 in Poestenkill.

“Introduction to Lean-to Maintenance,” Sunday, Oct. 4, 10 AM–2 PM, at Elm Ridge Lean-to near Windham.

Conserve and sustain

NYS reimagines the CCC.  Rural folks seek to pass something of value to future generations. Business branding tips.

US sets food waste reduction goal

The federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve our nation’s natural resources.

NYS starts youth conservation training program

The state is taking applications from youth ages 18-25 for a residential environmental conservation program modeled after Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. Participants will be based at SUNY Morrisville. They will receive room and board and a weekly stipend.

Get out of faked Goggle robocalls

Google is cracking down on independent firms calling small businesses and giving the impression they represent the Internet giant. You can fight back and get rid of those calls.

Agriculture added to post-service options

Rural America sends a disproportionately high percentage of its young people to the military. Now agriculture has been added to the career training and counseling programs 200,000 service members receive each year as they transition out of the military.

Cheap digital tools even startups can add

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get your startup business noticed if you choose the right digital marketing tools. This article suggests six types of tools available in inexpensive versions. Tip: These aren’t once-in-a-business decisions; revisit them every year or two.

Be your customer’s best friend

Here are eight branding tips delivered with a light touch and examples from familiar brands.

Retail customers want it; should you offer it?

Even in rural areas, customers want to be able to buy online and pick up at the store. Should you give them what they want? Here are some things to consider now even if you don’t see yourself adding online buying soon.

Cheese makers keep sustainability in mind

This couple wanted to make cheese. They wound up starting a farm in Washington County that they want to have operate for generations.

Hamlet returns 1853 school to education place

People in the Rensselaerville hamlet of Potter Hollow are passing on rural community values through a Sustainability Group that has renovated an 1853 schoolhouse to make it into an educational place for local children again.

Cornell vet students on reality TV

Nat Geo WILD’s new series Vet School  begins airing Saturday, Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. It was filmed at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Lighter side: Inspiration for your golden years

Doris Long, 101, raises money for charity by rappelling down skyscrapers. What are your retirement plans?

Look at things differently

New methods. New markets. New money. New business space. New skills.

What is Social? Get answer free from Northwestern

Northwestern University began the first of six massive open online courses in social media yesterday. It is 4 weeks, 1-3 hours study/week. Usually folks can get into a  MOOC any time in week one, so if you’re interested, give a click. Unless you sign up for Signature Track, the MOOC is free.

$15 minimum wage will hurt, Farm Bureau says

With its average agriculture wage rate already $12.15, New York State’s rural economy would be hurt by Governor Cuomo’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15, the New York Farm Bureau says.

“Old skills” businesses can be re-imagined

While businesses built on the latest technology make headlines, many small businesses find a niche by putting a new spin on old technology. This entrepreneur has an online framing business.

NY farmers can apply for grant funding

The New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) is seeking proposals for its competitive grant program.  The projects may range from improving operational practices through applied research and education to developing new routes to market for product. Proposals up to $150,000 will be accepted. Applications for funds are due by Nov. 15, 2015.

You’ve heard of minoring in beer? You really can.

This fall,  Paul Smith’s College hospitality students will study the financial impact of the Adirondack Craft Beverage Trail, which extends from Clifton Park to Lake Placid, and suggest ways local firms can enhance their bottom line through creative cross-marketing efforts. The college, which may soon get a name change, also offers a minor  in Craft Beer Studies.

What to consider before you rent business space

Start looking early. Know your needs. Know the potential pitfalls. This article assumes you’ll use a commercial real estate broker. If you won’t, you really need this primer.

Farmers markets have diversified

Farmers markets, like other types of businesses have changed to meet demands for new products and services. They are no longer the primary way to sell local food.

Facebook  Messenger now #2 mobile app

Facebook was booed when it forced people to use Messenger instead of the main Facebook app to reply to private messages , but the strategy paid off. Messenger now reaches 59.5 percent of the app audience, behind the Facebook app, with 73.3 percent. The recently launched Businesses on Messenger is aimed at helping small businesses connect with customers.

FDA issues food safety rule for food processors

The FDA has  issued the final Preventive Controls Rule setting new food safety standards for food processing facilities. The rule will be published  Sept. 17 in the Federal Register,  and compliance timelines will kick in then..