From the March 1998 issue of Startups

Less is more, right? Well, not necessarily. Take hot sauces, for example, the current darlings of the specialty foods market. If you're considering developing a spicy sauce for sale, be aware that when it comes to product names and labels, bolder is better. If you want to grab customers' attention, you need to create names and labels that are as sizzling hot as the products they promote.

Fletcher Grant's Inc. in Homosassa, Florida, offers heat lovers its Kiss of Fire hot sauce, while Atlanta's Oak Hill Farms reminds consumers of the power of feminine fury with its Scorned Woman hot sauce.

Pepper Island Beach Inc. in Lawrence, Pennsylvania, manufactures hot sauces that evoke the forces of the great outdoors with such titles as Habanero Hurricane and Crocodile Soup. And the products in San Luis Obispo, California's Mo Hotta Mo Betta spicy foods catalog certainly prove they aren't for the meek. Some of the sassy hot sauce titles include Dave's Total Insanity, You Can't Handle This Sauce, and Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally. Yeehaw!

Biz Quiz

By Jessica Hale

You know you're an entrepreneur at heart and that whatever business you choose will be your own, for better or worse. But how do you decide which business is best for you?

For those who, at twenty-, thirty- or even fortysomething are still asking themselves the question "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Nicholas Lore wrote a book to help explore the answers: The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success (Fireside, $14, 800-223-2336). Using more than 100 self-tests, exercises and diagnostic "inquiries," The Pathfinder guides you through the process of identifying and achieving the business of your dreams. Beginning with your childhood fantasies, Lore helps you see where your true interests and talents lie by asking questions such as, "What qualities made your childhood career fantasy so compelling?" and "What special talents did the job you dreamed of at age 5 allow you to utilize?"

The "inquiry" sections of The Pathfinder will help you explore, in detail, eight categories essential to choosing the perfect small business for you. The categories will challenge you to discover your "natural talents and innate abilities," your unique "personality traits and temperament" and your "willingness to stretch your boundaries." Pathfinder advice such as "go for vitality, not comfort" and "be unreasonable" will motivate you to push the envelope of the decision-making process, becoming an active and even joyous participant in finding your own unique entrepreneurial path.

For Women Only

Attention, women would-be business owners: The following is a brief listing of some of the assistance programs available nationwide for women in business:

  • Boston: The Center for Women & Enterprise offers multiweek courses, workshops, roundtable discussions, and the inspired "brown-bag lunch series," featuring successful women entrepreneurs who share their experiences. Write to 45 Bromfield St., 6th Fl., Boston, MA 02108 or call (617) 423-3001.
  • Chicago: The Women's Business Development Center offers a number of workshops, including "The FastTrac to Business Ownership" and "Business Finance Program." Write to 8 S. Michigan Ave., #400, Chicago, IL 60603 or call (312) 853-3477.
  • San Francisco: Women's Initiative for Self Employment provides bilingual entrepreneurship training, technical assistance and financing to low-income women who want to start small businesses. Write to 450 Mission St., #402, San Francisco, CA 94105 or call (415) 247-9473.

The Sound Of Music

The only thing worse than putting your customers on hold is putting your customers on hold without giving them anything to listen to. With On-Hold Plus, you can project a professional, courteous image to your customers--even when you're not talking to them--by playing professionally produced on-hold music and messages.

The OHP 3000 Recordable Digital Music-On-Hold Playback System includes a continuous-play, digital, on-hold message player; CustomWorks CD-ROM script-writing software; HoldTracks audio CD with royalty-free music and messages; an audio cable; a built-in monitoring speaker; and easy connection instructions. If you don't already have an electronic phone system (PBX), you'll also need to purchase the MOH 150 adapter, which enables any ordinary one- or two-line telephone to play music on hold. With this equipment, even the smallest office can sound like a million-dollar corporation--for a fraction of the price.

Suggested retail prices: OHP 3000, $199.95; MOH 150, $59.95. To order, call (800) 727-4642.

Get The Facts

If you're thinking of doing business with a new company but would like to make sure they're reputable, help is available. Dun & Bradstreet and WinStar Telebase Inc. recently launched Biz@dvantage (http://www.bizadvantage.com), an online business information site that allows you to conduct company background checks before signing on the dotted line.

Three main reports are available on a pay-per-use basis: the D&B Payment Analysis Report ($45), which details a company's payment habits; the D&B Business Information Report ($62.50), which provides information on a company's history; and the D&B Supplier Evaluation Report ($85), which provides data to help evaluate suppliers.

"With our service, it's pay as you go," says Jeff Cutler, vice president of sales for WinStar Telebase. "There are no minimums, no setup fees and no training fees. It's a tremendous boon to have that kind of information available to a small business."

Once at the site, you can also obtain patent and trademark information, review journals and newsletters and search through a series of free resource guides.

Tiny, But Mighty

  • Small businesses account for 99.7% of all United States employees.
  • Small businesses employ 54% of the nation's private work force.
  • Small businesses are responsible for 52% of all sales in the United States.
  • Small businesses contribute 50% of the country's private gross domestic product.

When it comes to keeping the U.S. economy humming, small business packs a big punch, as the figures above show.

Source: U.S. Small Business Administration

Contact Sources

Mo Hotta Mo Betta, P.O. Box 4136, San Luis Obispo, CA 93403, http://www.mohotta.com

On-Hold Plus Inc., 5820 Oberlin Dr., #203, San Diego, CA 92121, http://www.onholdplus.com

Pepper Island Beach Inc., (412) 746-2401, http://www.pepperisland.com