STRIKE IT RICH AT THE REFERENCE DESK!
THE VALUE OF LOCAL LIBRARIES AS RESOURCES
Business Information and Libraries
This year is the centennial of the first business branch of a major U. S. public library. In 1904 the Business Branch of the Newark, New Jersey Public Library opened. This was started by John Cotton Dana, one of the pioneers of modern librarianship. Since then libraries have expanded their business collections and services to serve job seekers, entrepreneurs or the self-employed, the personnel of existing small- and medium-sized businesses, and the personnel of local corporations. By the 1930s business collections that included financial manuals, industrial directories, stock guides, and business journals, newspapers, and trade magazines had become a national phenomenon in urban public libraries. In recent times, public libraries have become part of statewide networks to promote the creation of new businesses, hosted seminar and “how to” workshops, created Web sites of online resources, and, in larger urban centers, created separate business collections and service centers for aspiring entrepreneurs, either for free or for a nominal cost.
I. Rationale for Creating a Business Plan
(from the U. S. Small Business Administration Web site; available from http://www.sba.gov/young/columbiacollege/k_12.nsf/vwHTMLPages/develop.html)
A Well Written Business Plan:
; Helps you focus your energy constructively
; Forces you to analyze the business
; Provides details on the industry's potential
; States your plans for gaining a percentage of that industry
; Clarifies and quantifies your goals and objectives
; Explains your current status and your expected financial and management needs
; Develops effective strategies to deal with expected and unexpected situations
; Identifies critical risks and crucial events
; Serves as a communication tool for potential external financial sources
; Details how you will repay all debts and shows the projected financial results of
Presenting the Business Plan:
; Understand the plan thoroughly
; Rehearse the presentation beforehand
; Be familiar with all presentation equipment that you plan to use
; Expect a critical and skeptical audience
; Be able to handle the questions asked
; Accept any criticism constructively
“Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving 4
years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.”
Of these failures only 10% close involuntarily because of bankruptcy and the remaining 90% close because the business was not successful, did not provide the
level of income desired or was too much work for their efforts. (“Some of the Reasons Why Businesses Fail and How to Avoid Them.” Entrepreneur Weekly, Issue 36, 3-10-96.)
Proper Planning is Essential for a New Business
Business Plan Outline for a New Company – Information Broker
Company: Information North Carolina Inc (INC, Inc)
Industry: Information (all other information services)
NAICS: old 514199
(find NAICS codes at http://www.census.gov/epcd/www.naics.html or using Advanced
Search field codes in ABI/Inform Global)
; WSJ.com Startup Journal http://www.startupjournal.com/runbusiness/
Includes business plan tools, survival strategies, franchising and ecommerce. ; CCH Business Owner’s Toolkit http://www.toolkit.cch.com/tools/tools.asp
Includes ready to use templates and tools to help in the startup process. ; U.S. Small Business Administration http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/
; Business Owner’s ideacafe http://www.businessownersideacafe.com/
; Entrepreneur’s Help Page http://www.tannedfeet.com
Business History and Industry Outlook
This will be the text that describes the thinking behind the concept and will be supported
; Industry Information
This will include trends, strategy, research, problems etc.
Some libraries will have resources such as:
o S&P’S Industry Surveys (electronically part of NetAdvantage),
These resources may be available in a local academic institution – check and refer
Available in many libraries –
o ValueLine – contains one-page industry summaries.
Available to all libraries (in NC) –
o ABI/Inform Global (Complete) – use the Advanced Search and choose
NAICS from the drop down box – click through to the industry you want.
o Business Source Elite – this database often drops the last number in a
NAICS search so maybe use if for general article searches. e.g. search the
term - information professional – then within the citation check the subject
terms and keywords for other words you can use in a search.
o netLibrary – type Plunkett’s into the search box to retrieve industry and
company directories from Plunkett’s Publishing. e.g. Plunkett's Health
Care Industry Almanac. This includes an industry overview, statistics and
o Regional Business News
South Carolina – use the Gale (Infotrac) databases in DISCUS.
Useful Web sites include:
Links to industry sites, companies, regulations, associations.
Industry profiles very much like those in the subscription section of hoovers.com
Includes leaders and laggards, product and management news.
What makes your product or service special? Who do you intend to serve? What fees do you intend (or need) to charge?
; Find someone in the same business (not necessarily the same area) and ask for
; Contact an association – see what help, or statistics, it will provide. For an
information professional this will be the Association of Independent Information
; Check listservs – for this business SOLOLIB-L may have answers.
; Check ABI/Inform, Business Source Elite, Regional Business News Gale
databases in DISCUS (South Carolina)
; Bureau of Economic Analysis
Annual estimates of gross state product. Website features interactive tables and
maps that offer customization by industry, GSP component, state or region and
U.S. Dept of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics ;
U.S. Economy at a Glance – Regions, States, Counties
; County Business Patterns
Provides county, state, and national level business data from 1977 to the most
recent year available. Statistics include number of establishments, payroll (annual
and 1st quarter), number of employees, and number of establishments by size
class for 2 digit SIC industry groupings and from 1997 at the 2-digit NAICS class.
The data is collected annually by the Bureau of the Census
; Economic Development Information System, NC Dept. of Commerce
Provides demographic profiles of each county. Data include unemployment rate,
employment and wages by sector, announced jobs and investments, and
announced closings and layoffs.
; Economic Profiles North Carolina
Information by county from the Federal Reserve bank of Richmond – data
includes types of jobs.
; LINC (North Carolina)
LINC is "the most valuable Web resource for NC statistical data." Features: Over
1000 data items from state and federal agencies; Historical data and projections,
1960s to 2020; State, county, municipality, township, tract, block group, and
block coverage; Definitions and help screens; Customized report capabilities;
Preformatted topic reports, including census profiles; Continual updates
incorporating newly released data
; South Carolina Economic Indicators & Outlook (from the Moore School of
Business, USC) http://research.moore.sc.edu/Publications/Indicators/data.htm
Not only indicators and outlook but also presentations and studies.
; South Carolina Statistical Abstract
; Radius Search
This application lets the user specify a site (point location using lat/long
coordinates or by entering a ZIP code) anywhere in the U.S. along with one or
more radius values in miles. Data includes population, housing, income and race.
Many libraries will have print (or CD) publications such as Demographics USA, Lifestyle
Market Analyst and some New Strategist publications such as American Men and Women:
Demographics of the Sexes
Some of the larger public libraries will also buy – only for their area – MPA Market
Profile Analysis (from Donnelly Marketing Information Services) e.g. Greensboro Public Library.
Use databases such as ABI/Inform Complete, Business Source Elite and Regional
Business News or Gale databases in DISCUS (South Carolina)
What are comparable businesses in the area doing that could affect you.
ReferenceUSA Business enables you to retrieve lists of business. Also check Regional Business News and North Carolina Newsstand or databases in
DISCUS (South Carolina)
Then walk and take notes!
How are you going to get the type of clientele you want to frequent your establishment.
Decide on the type of publicity you need – fliers etc then………
One can purchase mailing lists OR find a library that has ReferenceUSA Business and
ReferenceUSA Residential and make your own lists.
Also there is marketing advice in sample plans at
http://www.bplans.com/samples/wsj.cfm and at http://www.sampleplans.com/
Excellent advice and guides at SBA
Also use any of the databases previously mentioned for articles.
What local and state licenses and permits are needed.
What equipment will you need – check prices in computer/furniture catalogs or http://www.thomasregister.com for companies and online catalogs
Will you own or rent property? Check with local realty contacts, city officials (some
town and cities have commercial property programs) and try PikeNet http://www.pikenet.com/pike?func=showHome
Click on USA/Canada, then choose your state – lists resources and services.
What money will you need……try some of the sample forms at http://www.toolkit.cch.com/tools/tools.asp
And at http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/library/forms.html
Administration & Management
Everyone must give a personal statement when applying for a loan or grant. Forms are at http://www.sbaonline.sba.gov/library/forms.html
How will you manage your business – will you employ others or most likely in this instance,
you will operate as a sole proprietorship. That's a tax designation, which means that you and your business are one and the same. Business income and expenses will be reported on Schedule C of your tax return. About 80% of U.S. businesses are operated as sole proprietorships.
Try some of the NC LIVE databases or Gale databases in DISCUS (South Carolina) and talk to people on list servs e.g at http://www.businessownersideacafe.com/
Potential Problems & Solutions
Be proactive in preparing for the unexpected! Obviously, the best way to avert small business problems is by anticipating them before they occur.
Prepare a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. If you already have developed a plan to handle problems that could disrupt your business, you can quickly move from identifying a problem that has occurred (let's analyze it), to the plan (here's the plan) to solving it (let's get to work). Recognizing a business threat early on will save time, money and larger headaches later.
Use the databases mentioned at other times plus any industry information you have gathered to look at possible problems and opportunities.
One of the best places to check for help in working out this part of the plan is the SBA –
check first, http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/financing/basics.html
At the left you will find all the steps needed in setting out the financial part of the plan.
Check also CCH Business Owner’s Toolkit http://www.toolkit.cch.com/tools/tools.asp
for ready to use templates.
For industry financial information check (if available)
; D&B Industry Norms & Key Business Ratios
; RMA Annual Statement Studies
; Almanac of Business and Industrial Financial Ratios
Whether or not these are recommended to patrons depends upon the sophistication of the user! They can be difficult to understand and sometimes it is easier not to mention them.
The last step.
; Compile all the information into a winning business plan.
; Sample plans and guides may help in formulating the final plan. There is an
excellent business plan workbook at http://www.ksbdc.org . Click on
"freebies", then business plan.
Dana Edge Rita W. Moss Martha Thomas
Western Carolina University University of North Carolina Greensboro Public Library
at Chapel Hill
Business Librarians in North Carolina Division of NCLA (BLINC)