Storm-hurt firms find new homes

first_imgChristine McAtee hopes to go back to New Orleans some day, but for the foreseeable future, The Woodlands, Texas, is where she’ll live and run her marketing firm. McAtee, owner of Adventures in Advertising/Insignia Marketing, is one of thousands of small-business owners forced to leave the city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and start over someplace else. The storm left water in McAtee’s home and her office, but the dampness that pervaded everything was just as destructive, damaging files and leaving computers inoperable. And with the city paralyzed, it was clear it would be hard for McAtee to rebuild her company and take care of her two children. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.There were awful moments as she salvaged what she could: “You think, this can’t be happening, when you slip and fall in the grime and you’re covered with who knows what and there’s no running water to wash it off with.” And outside her office, it was catastrophic. “There weren’t a lot of people around. I looked around and thought I was deathly scared to lose the business I’d built all those years,” she said. McAtee decided to look for temporary office space in another city, with the expectation that she’d move back to New Orleans, where she was born and grew up. But so many other business owners were competing for space, and she thought about having to uproot her business again at some point. So, she decided, “instead of going for temporary office space, I looked for something I wouldn’t have to close down in a few months.” McAtee ended up in The Woodlands, near Houston, opened an office and continued working; while she had New Orleans clients who were displaced, her company also has many clients in other cities. She believes the move saved the business, because it allowed her to get back to work faster. “We’re back on track, where we should have been at this time,” McAtee said. “I can see the growth starting to come back.” But she’s also hoping someday to go back to New Orleans: “We’ll see what happens.” For Greg Mangiaracina, the move from New Orleans to San Antonio is permanent. After seeing how the storm had unsettled his family, the safety of his wife and children became paramount. Like McAtee, Mangiaracina, owner of A-Pro Home Inspection Services, knew he had to act quickly to save the business. The problem he faced was the destruction of the city’s infrastructure – his business includes running training programs for franchisees from around the country and without a functioning airport and tourism industry, he couldn’t get people to come to New Orleans. Mangiaracina said he knew he could survive – “I could go back to New Orleans and be in an engineering firm” – but he felt a responsibility to the 120 franchisees in his system, so he knew he needed to move. He had a Sept. 30 deadline for getting a new training facility set up somewhere else because he had a class scheduled then. So he chose San Antonio: “I was looking for a place relatively free of natural disasters, a large city that had easy access to around the country. I needed a place that had good tourism.” The training facility was intact, although Mangiaracina’s original leak detection business, the one that spawned the franchise system, was destroyed. With help, he loaded trucks with 7,000 square feet of furniture, including stadium-style seating, and transported the facility’s contents to Texas, set it up and made his deadline. The move has been fortuitous; Mangiaracina said his sales have doubled. But, he said, he’s not going back to New Orleans. “I can’t put my family through this again,” he said. Relocating was easy for Andrew Jaeger – he was already opening a San Francisco version of his New Orleans restaurant, Jaeger’s House of Seafood and Jazz. But he still plans to restart his business back home. Jaeger said his New Orleans restaurant, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, had little physical damage, but the dearth of tourists meant he had had little business. “We tried to reopen it a few weeks later,” after the storm, he said. “We eventually closed it – we were waiting for it to get better and it never quite did.” Jaeger said his new restaurant is doing well, and that “I feel fortunate that I was here before.” But he goes back to New Orleans every few weeks to help out friends and relatives including his brother, whose restaurant was wiped out. Jaeger’s keeping an eye on the city’s recovery and waiting to see when he’ll be able to return.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

CuttingEdge Cost Cutters

first_img Hear from business owners and CEOs who went through a crippling business problem and came out the other side bigger and stronger. What business owner isn’t trying to save money today? While online businesses often don’t have the overhead that comes with a big office and lots of staff, we are often hit with lower profit margins that come with online competition and numerous businesses out there competing with our goods and services. We find ways to get creative about getting our message out there and letting people know about our website, but without coupling the advertising with lower costs, survival is difficult.So what are some technologies online business owners should be looking at to save money? We’ll explore a few of them and what benefits–and potential drawbacks–they bring to you in your online business.First, let’s look at faxing. Multi-function high quality fax and copy machines are pretty inexpensive today; so many businesses choose to have one around anyway. But if you want to go purely online and have fax files sent to you in PDF format, lots of people know about eFax. But the lesser known product myFax, one I have been using for years, also allows you to very inexpensively purchase a toll-free number for your faxing needs.What about video conferencing? We all see the commercials for gotomypc.com, but what about some other options? Skype allows you to hold conference calls and bring in multiple participants, significantly cutting down on telephone costs. You can use Skype for phone calls, and if you travel a lot, their international package is second to none.Another solution out there is k7.net , which is an online messaging system that allows you to create your own private voice mail system and have the voice mail forwarded to your e-mail. If you are willing to have a 206 area code, you can get the service for free. Signing up is easy and there are other paid options there as well. Check out Google Voice too–while it isn’t as tested yet, it is another option.Check out the latest product your wireless service provider, including my favorite, Sprint’s AIRAVE. Not only does it solve coverage issues for those of us working in areas with high call-drop rates, but it also allows your employees and contractors to jump on the system and not be charged anything for calls while they’re within the range of the AIRAVE. This can be a huge cost savings for your team and a nice service to offer them, but it isn’t available in all areas yet.Another great product is Yousendit . Rather than paying for a server to sit in your office or host a large FTP server and pay for hosting and bandwidth, YouSendIt has a range of solutions–free and paid–that allow you to send files to others through their system by sending an e-mail with a link to the files to download. It stores the files for seven to 14 days depending on the level of service you have.Are you still mailing out newsletters or updates to your customers? Consider using systems that not only integrate with your website so new customers can sign up (and you don’t have to manage any subscription updates, freeing you up for content), but also provide you with business-savvy templates that go out in HTML and non-HTML format. My favorite one is Your Mailing List Provider , which has many options for inexpensive mailing lists. There are many solutions out there so look for one that will save you time and money.Last but not least, I want to touch a bit on online stores and product fulfillment. Who wants to have warehousing costs or storage fees or use up office space (to save us money of course) on inventory? Consider third-party tools like the beta of ShopIt for Facebook, and look at tools like fulfillment from Amazon.com. You can send your products to one of 20 Amazon warehouses around the country and as orders come in. All products will be in Amazon branded boxes, but the packing slip will also have your business name on it. Monthly storage fees are 45 cents per cubic foot plus an extra 15 cents per cubic foot during the fourth quarter. Shipping charges depend on the item, but are usually between $3 and $6 including fulfillment fees for a one-pound item. October 6, 2009 4 min read Listen Now Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Problem Solvers with Jason Feiferlast_img read more

Far Too Many Adults Still Using Parents Phone Plan

first_img Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now In a new survey of 1,000 Americans across all ages conducted by Let’s Talk, a website devoted to helping users find the right mobile-phone carrier, the results were, in its words, “startling.” Some might say sickening. The survey found a full 49 percent of young adults age 18 to 24 are still getting their smartphones’ voice and data service paid for by their parents (or another responsible adult in the family).The number drops quite a bit when they hit 25 — the age you can also also rent a car with less hassle, so it’s the magic number where everyone becomes instantly more responsible. Only 16 percent of people age 25 to 34 are using a plan paid for by parents. Finally, at ages 35 to 44, the number goes down to 7.5 percent. After age 45, Let’s Talk didn’t ask, probably because those are the parents.Across the entire group of 1,000 respondents, Let’s Talk found a full 73 percent were on some kind of shared family plan (where everyone probably pays, but they get a cut rate) rather than an individual plan; that goes up to 79 percent for ages 18 to 25. Family plans may facilitate Peter Pan Syndrome, but they also save money.Let’s Talk’s top choice overall is T-Mobile’s Magenta Family plan, which comes with free Netflix. That’s a strong incentive not to get your own carrier.If you’re over 18 and actually looking for some independence, read The Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans You’ve Never Heard Of. August 6, 2019 Enroll Now for Free This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. This story originally appeared on PCMag 2 min readlast_img read more