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Feedback 05/05

Theory of Relativity

I just read with great interest your article on the next generation in family business ("It's All Relative," March). The Family Business Center at Stetson University has invested the last eight years in creating what we believe is the nation's best development program for the next generation in family business (www.stetson.edu/family).

I would like to raise an issue: Why don't more colleges address the crucial career decision of when, how and why people should work with their families. We have not only published a book on this topic, but also created the first family business major in the country.

Greg McCann
Director, Family Business Center
Stetson University
DeLand, Florida

Giving Right

I was delighted to read "Charity Check" by Scott Bernard Nelson ("Personal Finance," March). As the owner of Giving Advice, a business that helps companies create giving programs, I have to say, Scott cited very resourceful websites for business owners who want to do good. As a giving consultant, I emphasize it's not just the check, or that the charity checked out. What is important is the purpose and connection of the gift to the business's objectives and vision.

Companies need to consider long-term strategies to giving that ensure effectiveness--in other words, a giving program that is results-oriented and accountable, managed and measured the same as all other business operations. Go beyond the charity check and focus on your company's positioning and strategy for giving.

Maggie F. Keenan
Owner
Giving Advice
Savannah, Georgia

Design on the Frontline

I was pleased to see that the Editorial Director, Rieva Lesonsky, understood the importance of design enough to initiate a design overhaul and then praise the designers for their work ("Editor's Note," March). However, I was not pleased when she described crucial design decisions as "decoration."

The editor pointed out that choice of font, color and leading were cosmetic changes. Though these changes qualify as formal, there were functional reasons for the choices. When a designer is choosing a typeface and then a size and leading setting, he or she is considering the legibility factor above the cosmetic factor. The ultimate goal is for form and function to work together seamlessly. The choice must be appropriate for the readership and able to fit the needed word count for the average article. Design is too often misunderstood and unappreciated in business. For a magazine devoted to promoting business, the design community would appreciate some proper recognition.

Lorelei Grazier
Designer
Rocket North Design Studio
Arlington, Massachusetts

Is the Price Right?

Your article "E-Tail Therapy" (January) by Heather Clancy mentioned that the owners of Salt-Works were hesitant to spend the "$50,000 to $100,000 it can take just to design a site." While larger e-commerce projects can certainly reach those costs and much higher, many small-business owners can get the job done for significantly less money. Our simplest solutions for small businesses start around $10,000 and go up according to the complexity of the client's requirements. If the average cost for site design for your readers starts at $50,000, either we are grossly undercharging, or those readers are getting ripped off.

Jay Lynn
Vice President
The High Bridge Design Group
Farmville, Virginia

Heather Clancy replies: I think we are both correct, which proves that the word design can be ambiguous in the e-commerce world. Certainly, a nice, basic website can be built starting at $10,000 if an entrepreneur chooses to use off-the-shelf design templates and other cookie-cutter modules. However, SaltWorks has a completely custom-built site because the company predominantly functions in the online world, prompting the higher price tag. Naomi Novotny points out that the database and back-end interface are custom and there was no "real world" precedent. Moreover, the site is completely integrated with SaltWorks' other business systems to handle large volumes of orders and the high website traffic the company receives. In addition, the shopping cart had to support complex shipping requirements to charge accurate shipping costs. The site can handle retail and wholesale orders (again, adding more complexity), has its own customer-relationship management feature and so on. And when it comes to looks, the owners were also pretty particular.

The bottom line: Every entrepreneur will have his or her own requirements; the more custom the site, the higher the potential price tag.


Correction

Suzanne Mulvehill's website is www.profit-strategies.com ("Fear Factor," April).

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This article was originally published in the May 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Feedback 05/05.

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