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Giving Wisely

Weekend businesses, playing with your food.
February 1, 1998
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/15016

Chances are, you or your family members made a contribution to a favorite charity over the holidays. But what if you want to make an additional charitable contribution during the year on behalf of your company? And what if your business is asked to participate in collecting charitable contributions?

Use caution, says Bennett Weiner, a vice president at the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "When deceptive charity pleas take place, they defraud businesses as well as consumers," says Weiner.

But don't get your purse strings in a knot just yet: "There are a number of things a small business can do on its own to make more intelligent giving decisions," says Weiner. He offers the following list of suggestions to help business owners responsibly give to and gather for charities:

1. Don't just react to appeals as they come in; take the time to develop a carefully defined giving plan, including a concrete, annual donation amount.

2. Assign one person to handle all requests for charity donations. This will save time and eliminate the possibility of duplicate donations.

3. When approached for a donation, ask questions and don't contribute until you're satisfied with the answers. "Charities with nothing to hide will encourage your interest," says Weiner.

4. Watch out for appeal statements that say "All proceeds to benefit charity." This can mean that only the money remaining after expenses are paid will go to the charity.

5. Before placing a canister, candy machine, honor box or coin board in your business, be sure to research the organization first. "When customers come into your store, they're assuming you've already checked out the organization," says Weiner. Don't let them down; your business reputation and customer trust are at risk.

6. To research a charity, consult the local charity registration office (usually a division of the state attorney general's office) and your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB Web site (http://www.bbb.org) can also be a helpful resource if the charity in question has a national presence.

7. To obtain a copy of Give But Give Wisely, a quarterly newsletter that encourages people to investigate before they donate, send a check for $3 to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, 4200 Wilson Blvd., #800, Arlington, VA 22203.

Food Coloring

You've heard the saying before: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." But entrepreneurs nationwide, disregarding this advice, are seeking heat in the kitchen--and finding red-hot sales there--with products tailored to kids.

The recipe for their tasty successes seems simple enough: Take a standard adult product; twist it slightly to appeal to the juvenile market; add a friendly animal, if possible; and serve with as much vibrant color as you can.

Hog Wild in Portland, Oregon, is picking up sales with its Zoo Sticks chopsticks. The sticks are connected into a single utensil, so the brightly colored, animal-topped Zoo Sticks are easy for small hands to use.

Louisburg, Kansas' Rabbit Creek Products caters to the Julia Child in all kids with its Sugar Bunnies cookie mix and rabbit-shaped cookie cutter; Bert's Dirt Pot Chocolate Mousse With Worms and All, which comes in a clay pot; and Brownie Pie for Me and Three, which comes with enough mix and clay baking pots for a kids' party of four.

Courageous Imports in New York City lets kids celebrate with Hip Pomme, its nonalcoholic, sparkling apple juice. While the beverage's label sports a cheery hippopotamus, the 25.4-ounce bottles offer another "kid smart" feature: resealable twist-off caps, in the event tummies fill up before the party's over.

Clip It

By Christina Grace Peterson

Still trying to use paper clips to attach diskettes to your documents? It doesn't work. But now there's something that does: The Fellowes Computerware Disk Clip attaches disks firmly to paper, creating a professional and organized appearAance for any hard-copy document.

The Disk Clip can attach 3.5-inch diskettes to hard-copy documents for mailing, office routing and filing. Its flexible rear-fastening device also allows you to attach diskettes to reports, pockets, bags or briefcases. The Disk Clip, made of platinum gray plastic, is available at office-product and electronics retailers and sells for $4.50 per pack of three. To order, call (800) 945-4545.

Women On The Web

While stereotypes say women fear technology, entrepreneurial women are taking a more proactive approach to new technology than their male counterparts. So says a recent study sponsored by IBM and conducted by the National Foundation for Women Business Owners, entitled Embracing the Information Age: A Comparison of Women and Men Business Owners.

Women Business Owners
Currently subscribe to an online service: 47%
Have a home page on the World Wide Web: 23%
Frequently use the Internet to communicate or send e-mail: 51%
Frequently use the Internet to conduct research: 22%
Use the Internet to review business opportunities or make bids on contracts: 9%

Men Business Owners
Currently subscribe to an online service: 41%
Have a home page on the World Wide Web: 16%
Frequently use the Internet to communicate or send e-mail: 40%
Frequently use the Internet to conduct research: 14%
Use the Internet to review business opportunities or make bids on contracts: 3%

Source: National Foundation for Women Business Owners

Working For The Weekend

By Jessica Hale

Starting a homebased business doesn't have to mean marching into your boss's office and delivering your resignation: Test the entrepreneurial waters first with an idea from 101 Best Weekend Businesses (Career Press, $14.99, 800-CAREER-1).

Author Dan Ramsey provides a step-by-step guide to successfully running your own business while still keeping your "day job." All the business options Ramsey presents require less than 20 hours a week. The alphabetical listing, ranging from aerobics instructor to writer, is based on the experiences of actual business owners. Each business profile answers six practical questions, such as "What will I need to start?" "How much should I charge?" and "Who will my customers be?"

All the business ideas featured can be turned into full-time operations if you decide to expand. None require much start-up capital ($0 to $3,000) or expensive training. Instead, Ramsey shows you how to turn your unique talents and interests into a business without spending your life savings. For example, if you love cooking, think about giving cooking lessons or starting a catering service. If you're a math whiz, consider tutoring others who may not be so lucky. If gardening is your passion, start a plant-care service business. After reading 101 Best Weekend Businesses, you'll never again be able to say, "I wouldn't know where to start."

Contact Sources

Council of Better Business Bureaus, 4200 Wilson Blvd., #800, Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 276-0100

Courageous Imports, 250 W. 57th St., #2429A, New York, NY 10107, (212) 586-6468

Hog Wild, 107 S.E. Washington St., Portland, OR 97214, (888) 231-OINK

Rabbit Creek Products, P.O. Box 1059, Louisburg, KS 66053, (800) 837-3073