Searching for commercial space for your new business? Try the Web. Online searches can come in handy if you need to look for space after office hours. They're also a great way to get ideas about prices and sizes of commercial properties for long-term growth planning.
Sharon Cole, a principal broker with Mena Real Estate in Mena, Arkansas, thinks many clients prefer her Web site over traditional advertising. "You can find out about different areas and then narrow your search," she says.
There are currently about 10,000 Web pages featuring commercial real estate, according to Iverson Moore of the National Association of Realtors in Washington, DC. Some sites to explore: Commercial Real Estate Network (http://www.crenet.com), International Real Estate (http://www.ired.com), Real Estate Information Connextions (http://www.rei-nex.com) and the Real Estate Cyberspace Society (http://www.recyber.com).
Most sites include a description of each property, its location and size, and the purchase or lease price. They may also describe zoning, neighboring commercial enterprises and parking. Many of them have hyperlinks to local chambers of commerce or other sites of interest.
Many sites include forms you can fill out to request more information--even if you don't see just the location you need. Says Cole, "Our site doesn't list all the properties we have available but a selection of what will interest buyers."
Donna Chambers is a freelance business writer and small-business owner. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Virtual Post Office
The United States Postal Service Web site (http://www.usps.gov) is worth bookmarking. This well-organized, interactive site is packed full of information that can help you make better mailing decisions. Some of its highlights are:
- ZIP codes. Using a fill-in form, you can look up ZIP+4 codes by address, city and state, or two-letter state abbreviations.
- Express Mail tracking. If you've sent something by Express Mail, you can find out whether it was delivered on time.
- Address changes. You can fill in your change-of-address information on a special form, print it, sign it, and send it to the post office with your mail carrier.
- Postage calculator. Here you can find first-class, Priority and Express Mail postage prices for packages you need to mail.
One of the site's best features is the variety of information available on mail-related topics. You can find out how to prepare bulk mail, how to choose the right class of mail and how to send mail abroad. You can even learn how to become a vendor to the Postal Service.
Of Mice and Men
Wouldn't you love to get rid of some of the wires behind your desk, especially those pesky mouse wires that keep getting tangled up? The new wireless mouse from Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc. may solve your problem.
Called the GyroMouse, it can work as either a standard desktop mouse or as a handheld remote control from as far away as 30 feet. Unlike your TV remote control, which uses an infrared device that you must aim directly at the infrared sensor, the GyroMouse uses radio frequency technology. Miniature gyroscopes in the mouse sense the movement of your wrist and move the cursor accordingly.
Although the GyroMouse works on the desktop, its best feature is handheld use. It comes in especially handy if you give computer presentations to clients. Trainers, seminar leaders and consultants may also find it useful. If you and a partner get together at the computer to brainstorm over proposals, marketing materials, or even the budget, you can both have easy access to the mouse. It's also helpful for stores with limited counter space around their point-of-sale computers because you can just hold it in midair and click.
The suggested retail price of the GyroMouse is $99--pricey unless you do a lot of presentations or really need the counter space. Look for the price to come down, however, as competitors jump on the bandwagon.
Mena Real Estate, (501) 394-5000, http://www.mena-ark.com/menareal