I am continually awed at the amount of excellent knowledge I find in some unusual and accidental places. Over the past few years, I have taken the time to actually read some magazines that have ended up in my USPS mailbox. I have also managed to look up some recommended Web sites and subscribe to some very good e-zines, i.e. newsletters on the Internet.
Most of us get so focused on our trade magazines and window treatment
books that we never think to look at other valuable resources. Do
I have time to look at every nugget of information that is in all
of my mailboxes? No! But I do keep my eyes open for anything that
might relate to my business or yours!
COSTCO WHOLESALE CLUB
You are going to think this is a commercial for Costco, but I assure
you they know nothing of what I’m saying here. The Costco Connection
is the magazine that members of Costco can receive. When I first joined
Costco, it was automatic with your membership. Now only the higher
memberships get it automatically, but any member can request it. I’m
so glad that I had taken the time to read it and did continue my subscription.
Yes, this magazine’s major content is about selling Costco and
its products, but they have outstanding tidbits of business information.
And I do mean tidbits. For the most part, the information is not more
than 1/4 - to 1/2-page long, but they do have longer interviews. There
are regular columnists like David Horowitz on the last page. He is
a consumer advocate, www.fightback.com, and his information is always
helpful to me. The best part of the information in this magazine is
that it is a small part of the magazine and is short and to the point
with phone numbers and Web sites for further information.
The following are Web sites that I have found over the years in this
• backup.com; ibackup.com; and dataprotection.net/— all
are Internet back-up services so you don’t have to store your
backup data off site.
• sbtv.com/default.asp is about small business television (SBTV)
created by Jane Applegate. She says, “SBTV.com’s sole mission
is to cover stories of interest to entrepreneurs around the world.”
In order to view this site’s content to the fullest you will
want to download free software that will run videos if you don’t
already have it. You also can just listen to the audio.
I watched an interview with Wally Amos. Wally is a very inspirational
and successful entrepreneur and The Costco Connection usually has
a half-page article by him. I always read what he has to say, and
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this in-person interview.
An invaluable article on Hewlett-Packard, listing the company’s
management beliefs that have made its sterling reputation, was all
in 1/4 page! Most of its 11 rules are applicable to any small business.
You could have read this while waiting on hold on the telephone.
To me, the yearly membership fee is worth all I learn from the The
Costco Connection. If you are a member and are not receiving this
publication and wish to, ask at your local Costco help desk. If you
are not a member but are going to join, remember to request the magazine
Think about industries that are related to our industry.
• CNA Magazine—This is a trade magazine to the retail craft
industry and is published by Krause Publishers. I receive this magazine
because I purchase from Krause. However, subscriptions are available.
The Web site is exclusive to subscribers, so you will just have to
take my word on how good the magazine is.
CNA always has very good business information. If you operate from
a storefront, you will receive much excellent business information.
Frequently good business issue Web sites are mentioned, and the one
below is a good example.
• profitsplus.org/index.html—Tom Shay, speaker, author,
entrepreneur and fourth-generation merchant. This Web site has a retail
store focus (see D&WC, March 2000, page 88), but plenty of good
general business help including a free business knowledge test and
a financial test applicable to any business. I encourage you to take
the test. You may surprise yourself! He also offers a free retail
• Apparel Magazine, (bobbin.com/bobbin/ index.jsp)—This
is the home page because it used to be the Bobbin magazine. I do not
subscribe to this magazine now but I used to. The main reason you
may find this magazine helpful is the equipment and notions resources.
You may be able to find good information by just searching the Web
Office Solutions is a wonderful magazine that I have no idea how I
started receiving. It has outstanding business articles, and the best
part is you can find these on its Web site. The one below is a good
• www.os-od.com/home/default.php is the home page. Click on the
button beside “Don’t Neglect Records Management!”
Do not stop with the good articles. The advertisers show many office
management tools that you do not always see in your local office store
and, of course, they offer their Web sites. The one below is an example.
• www.pendaflexlearningcenter.com/—Pendaflex Co., manufacturer
or office organization products: Free on-line classes covering the
use of software, business etiquette, business planning and much business
You may qualify for receiving this magazine free if you purchase office
supplies. I knew you would like that!
Of course, we all know that the U.S. government has much information
on the Internet. Finding what you are looking for is the problem.
The sheer amount of government information makes it difficult to easily
present. In other words, it’s likely not to be easy to find what
you need. But do not let that stop you.
• sba.gov/—The U.S. Small Business Administration offers
free information including over 100 tips on marketing. One very nice
feature is that you can list your business card for free. I entered
mine, and then I did a search over and over again. Each time, I had
to go back and change the product or service.
When you list, think first of the key words that you think your customers
will look under and then put those exact words in your product listing.
I did a search for draperies and found 35 listings. Not very many!
Think about using it as a marketing tool. You are listed on the SBA
Web site. Doesn’t that conjure up a feeling of credibility?
• www.irs.gov/—This site is where you will find lots of
things, but the big issue that continually comes up in our industry
is how the Internal Revenue Service defines who is an employee and
who is an independent contractor.
Let me warn you, the information is there but you will have to jump
through hoops to find it. I gave up book marking it a long time ago
because they kept changing the location on the site. Well, what do
you know? They have changed it again!
Even though I had all the information I was looking for, I still had
a hard time finding it. When I did, I discovered that it is now in
a .pdf file, requiring you to have Adobe Reader to open it. That is
a free download so that in itself is not a problem, but not being
able to cut and paste or save in it another format may be. This document
is 58 pages long and guess where the index is? Page 57!
I’ve done your homework for you. At least this worked the day
I was writing this article. I would give you the URL, but they would
just change it again. In the box, “Search IRS Site for,”
look for “Employee or Independent Contractor.” You will
get a long list (8,444), but look for, “Employee or Independent
Contractor?” because there is also one that is “Employee
vs. Independent Contractor.”
Fortunately, this time anyway, this article was second in the list.
Click on it, and at the bottom of the article is a link to Publication
15-A. Click on this and it takes you to the .pdf file. You only need
to read or print pages 1 through 8. The key numbers and words I have
used in the past are #21: Publication 15A—Employer’s Supplemental
Tax Guide: 2. This is for future reference when they change the site
Of course, you can look for most anything on the Internet. I do recommend
investing in cable or DSL. When I only had a dialup connection, I
would never have searched the Internet for information. It took too
long to load the pages. DSL is not available to us, but am I ever
glad I installed cable. I didn’t know how much I was missing
on the Internet. Now pages load so fast that my patience is rarely
I’m not sure how I found the following e-newsletter, but I’ve
been receiving it a long time. Since my “store” is my Web
site, it is important for me to know what’s happening and what
I need to be doing in Web marketing.
• www.wilsonweb.com/wmt/ offers the e-marketing newsletter Web
Marketing Today Free Weekly. This is my favorite e-newsletter. It
is very brief and to the point. Dr. Wilson seems to stay current on
what’s happening in e-commerce. If you have a Web site and are
planning to add to your income via your site, this newsletter is a
AUTHORS AND MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS
Many renowned people have their own Web sites. If you find a public
personality that you really like, check the Internet to see if they
have a Web site. The one below is titled for my favorite small business
book, one I often recommend.
• www.e-myth.com/ is from “E-Myth Revisited,” written
by Michael Gerber. This Web site offers many resources and services
for sale as well as free business information, and it has a free e-newsletter.
The newsletter articles are wonderful and make good common sense,
but it also sends out sales-only e-mail to its list.
What I have offered here is just an appetizer of what is available
to you as a businessperson and entrepreneur. Is the Internet important?
You bet! But there are also many hardcopy magazines and books that
are totally unrelated to window coverings that could offer you phenomenal
help. Keep your eyes open and become worldlier. Take time and check
out at least one of my resources. With all this new education, you
never know how far you and your business might go!
Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 26-year veteran of the drapery
workroom industry. Having owned drapery workrooms
as one person and as a company of nine, she is now president of Workroom
Concepts a consulting firm offering educational resources to the
industry on its Web site (
www.workroomconcepts.com ). Her experience
in both the retail and wholesale window covering arenas has contributed
to her success as a business consultant. A professional speaker and
writer, she has authored several industry products including Order
in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications and Price
Your Work with Confidence, available