From the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

A Step Beyond

If you use business computers, odds are you also rely on some of the productivity applications in Microsoft's mammoth Office Suite. But few folks venture past the most popular features in these broad and deep applications, so Microsoft hopes to show you what else it can do for your business through a series of free productivity seminars it's staging nationwide.

The Microsoft TouchPoint Series is far removed from the usual "How to Build a Graph in Excel" lecture. It starts with a fictitious company and the very common business challenges it faces. You're walked through the search for solutions with the help of Microsoft applications and will likely be exposed to tools you never knew existed. A typical starting point: "How many widgets do you need to sell at this price to reach the break-even point?" Before the end of this task, Excel's "Goal Seek" and "Scenarios" tools will have been dusted off-and a few "If only I had known" comments will probably be heard around the auditorium.

The TouchPoint Series also sheds light on new or lesser-known software apps like MapPoint, which aids in demographic analysis through stats, charts and maps. The seminar content refreshes quarterly, so repeat attendance is welcome. To find out when Microsoft's TouchPoint Series is coming to your area, visit www.mstps.com.

Feed the Need

Web feeds are creating a buzz around the Internet as a way to bring news, updates and information to users through XML-based RSS technology. There's some dispute over what RSS stands for, but the upshot is that it allows Web sites to syndicate their content. Leading companies employing RSS are Yahoo! (http://news.yahoo.com/rss), The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) and NewsGator (www.newsgator.com).

Web feeds can be a smart way for entrepreneurs to stay up-to-date on relevant news and updates. Or consider building Web feeds into your own site as a way to better communicate with customers and users. Web feeds will have to get more user-friendly for widespread adoption, but they're heading that way. For details, check out an RSS tutorial for content publishers at www.mnot.net/rss/tutorial, and visit Web feeds search engine Feedster (www.feedster.com).


From February to March 2004,
1 in 6
U.S. adults accessed the Net via wireless technology.
SOURCE: Pew Internet & American Life Project


28%
of 8- to 10-year-olds have a cell phone.
SOURCE: SBA