Barbara Payne's Capitalist Cleveland Blog

News and Views: Entrepreneurs a-thrive in Northeast Ohio

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Cleveland the Beautiful

I've joined the photo/blog craze and set myself up to post photos of Cleveland--I LOVE taking beautiful pictures of the beautiful places in Cleveland. Celebrate! Send in your photos of Cleveland the Beautiful, and we'll post 'em.

Cleveland night glow with berries Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Don't get discouraged." Biggest piece of advice from Don's guest on the radio show this past Tuesday--owner of the Cleveland Fusion women's sports team.

Out in an eastern suburb is a company called STERIS that didn't get discouraged--and is now a giant in the global marketplace for health-related sterilization equipment, consumable products and services. Got to attend a special meeting of the Cleveland Engineering Society held out there where we were introduced to some of STERIS's latest and greatest.

Also met another entrepreneur out there who last year won the Top 10 Women Business Owner Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Sue Thomas has since 1993 been president of ESA Engineering Services--whose company happened to be sponsoring the meeting and that works closely with STERIS on many projects.

Sue, who says she was basically a technical writer for many years, learned that the Cleveland branch of the company that employed her was closing down she asked herself, did she want to start over at this stage of her life? The answer was a resounding year.

So Sue put together a purchase offer over the weekend and delivered it personally to the CEO in Pittsburgh. It took three months for the offer to be accepted and in 1993 she became the new owner of ESA Engineering Services, Inc., an engineering and computer consulting service company.

There were some tough times, but everyone pulled together to do what it took to survive, like selling signed art off the walls on E-Bay to pay the electric bill. Today there is money in the bank and that is partially due to the huge advantage of being a women-owned business in the industrial automation arena.

Sue, hats off to your entrepreneurial spirit!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A blog as business

Talk about a creative Cleveland entrepreneur. Eric Olsen has created a sensation with his "sinister cabal of bloggers" over at he's got a very cool deal going with, music and book publishers and so on.

Anyone who's interested can sign up to write for Blogcritics--you can apply to review copies of books and CDs, tickets to concerts, etc. It's an opportunity you shouldn't pass up if you like music, reading, going to live shows, etc. Or you can just write your opinions about culture, politics or the news.

I am in the middle of reviewing a book on an Adobe program called InDesign that does page layout and much more. I wanted to learn the program anyway, so it works out great. In fact, I think I'd better go finish that review right now--Adobe's coming out with new software again soon. Don't want to be behind the times.

Check it out. News, views, reviews and fun at

Oh, and a little tip to you've got a bug. Tried to log in to the site multiple times this morning. Every time I put my zip code and year of birth in, it kept dumping me back onto the same screen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Vertical search

The search business is hot in Cleveland for sure. Great entrepreneurial companies like Emergent Marketing, SageRock, Keyphrase-Marketing. Dynamics Online and others are playing for these high stakes.

Let me know if I left your Northeast Ohio company out!

In the latest edition of my GetMoreCustomers newsletter, I wrote about vertical search--a new way of searching the Internet that may change the rules of the game. The game, that is, of getting found by your most relevant keyword phrase(s) when people are looking for a business like yours. We welcome comments from our local SEO companies on this phenomenon--will it make a difference?

Read the article "Vertical search will change the game." Subscribe to the "GetMoreCustomers newsletter."

Monday, May 16, 2005

What an idea!

Would you look for a job on a website with a ".jobs" extension? Lots of companies are excited about it and have contacted entrepreneur Tom Embrescia at his new company Employ Media.

My recent GetMoreCustomers newsletter was about how vertical search will change the SEO game. And lo and behold, along comes Tom and thinks up this brilliant idea. Who knew that you could go to the mysterious guys-who-control-web-address-names and get the right to own a whole extension? Here's a man who stepped outside the box and fell into a jackpot.

The Society for Human Resource Management says that big companies will love this, as Internet recruiting becomes increasingly de rigeur.

President Tom, former owner of radio stations WMJI and WDOK, is putting his own money in, but the caliber of his board of directors (former Ohio Gov. Celeste is among them) indicates he's not the only one who sees the huge profit potential here.

Congratulations, Tom. A big "Capitalist E" for entrepreneur to you.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Save Cleveland with a cellphone tax?

Are you willing to pay a cellphone tax to keep the City of Cleveland solvent? Baltimore and other cities are trying it, but cellphone companies are crying foul. Why should cellphone use, they say, be singled out for sin-taxing like tobacco?
"In Cities Facing Budget Deficits, Cellphone Becomes a Taxpayer"Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile filed a lawsuit in February in Maryland Tax Court against Baltimore and Montgomery County, which has its own wireless tax. They contend the cellphone fee is effectively a sales tax, which only the state has the right to impose."
One city is proposing a 5% tax. Well, I don't know about you, but we already pay luxury tax on special items and sin tax on drinking (in some states like Ohio we render it directly through the nasal passages because they control the price as well), so I don't see why cell service doesn't fit into that type of category.

I understand the cellphone companies' concerns that this might cut down on the number of subscribers they can enlist. But it seems shortsighted to think that if a major city dies and puts thousands out of work, you'll have a bigger subscriber base.

And also to think that somebody--but not you--should be taxed to keep that from happening. My dad used to say that when he'd hear people complaining, "Why me?" he'd look back on all he'd seen in life and think, well, why not me?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

PC Coach goes long...

Some everyday software programs can be a royal pain if you don't know how to use them effectively. When they're really troublesome, they can even cost you time instead of saving it.

In 1997 Donna Metzger declared herself formally open for business as the PC Coach. Today, as PC Coach & Associates, she works with several other "coaches" to deliver onsite training and consultation services and, now, seminars in their small training facility on the east side. Donna said she'd been talking about doing this for 3 years.

"I knew I had to grow when I woke up one day and realized I had no life," says Donna. "Tax season was always extremely busy," she said, "but all of last year, the speed and amount of business didn’t slow down at all." She counts her time networking in that calculation because "That's how I market." And that networking is bringing results.

"You never want to turn away business," says Donna. "It just doesn’t look positive. But it’s hard to let go and let someone else completely do something. You worry about leaving your customers in other people's hands." So far, she says she's been doing a lot of supervising, but gradually letting go, a little at a time.

So if you want to get some tips and tricks on your Peachtree or Quickbooks accounting software, check out the FREE one-hour seminars.

June 1 Peachtree--8 to 9 am, Quickbooks--1:30 to 2:30 pm
June 22 Quickbooks--8 to 9 am, Peachtree--1:30 to 2:30 pm

Location: 3439 W. Brainard Rd. #264. Reservations 216.378.9195.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Tips on cutting costs

So you're growing your business. It's funny how you run into obstacles you didn't think much about when you started--especially when you start needing to hire help. Here's an item called "How Entrepreneurs of Small and Mid-Sized Companies Can Maximize Their Human Capital without Exorbitant Overhead." It describes a white paper on cutting costs, and thanks to Asset Design Center for sending the heads-up.

"...the premise that entrepreneurs, like most people, prefer to do what they're best at, and that means focusing on their core business. Still, the
economics of profit and loss demand that entrepreneurs must deal with what many
view as a costly distraction -- the management of human capital and programs
that are crucial to the healthy life of the company.

Two components in particular are vital for keeping HR costs in line:

1. Increasing productivity

2. Minimizing human capital expenses

Then it gives 4 focus areas:

1. Hiring the right person for the position. Most companies hire on skill and fire on fit, but that's not the optimum strategy for keeping costs in check. To find top talent, it's necessary for companies to define "superior performance." They can then apply that definition to performance-based behavioral interviewing and other strategic recruiting techniques to attract the best candidates.

2. Improving performance with motivational yet balanced total compensation. A "balanced" total compensation model includes the need to leverage compensation surveys, implement pay-for-performance incentives, offer flexible work schedules, employ non-cash rewards, and motivate employees to find their own ways of cutting costs.

3. Complying with the law. Compliance boils down to not giving the IRS or any other government agency a reason to become interested in a company's activities. Important bases to cover include distinguishing between exempt and non-exempt employees, understanding the difference between full-time employees and independent contractors, and keeping in step with federal and state regulations that include everything from COBRA to ERISA.

4. Offer competitive benefits, communicated effectively. The standard list of benefit categories may look the same for small and large employers, but the plans, features, and services offered can be as different as black and white. A typical offering includes insurance coverage for medical, dental, and vision care as well as short- and long-term disability, life, accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D), and long-term care. For small employers, the level of benefits is generally much lower than that provided by large employers, the level of risk to the employer is much higher, and the cost per employee can be higher as well."

Get a copy of the paper here.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tell us your good news!

Capitalist Cleveland - an audio greeting from Barbara Payne.
this is an audio post - click to play