You usually don't think of salad as the highlight of a really good meal.
You might, though, if you've been to the Pear Tree Restaurant in tiny Bevier, Mo., just south of Highway 36 in Macon County, and sampled Mike and Al Abbadessa's signature homemade dressings and croutons.
Here's one review from an online travel and dining guide:
"We started with the must-have onion rings made fresh to order, which were perfectly crisp. Next up was the salad, probably my favorite part of the meal. A bowl of fresh greens is served tableside with little dishes of hot garlic croutons and feta cheese. Customizing your own salad is fun, but topping it with one of their homemade dressings is even better! They place a carousel of their three famous dressings for you to mix and match. The Nippy Bleu Cheese is chunky and creamy, the Madam French is classic and their Sweet and Sour house dressing is not to be missed!"
And that's one of the more restrained reviews out there. Some are all in capitals, bolded, with multiple exclamation marks or all three:
"Blown Away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This place is a hidden jewel!! I love it. The food is out of this world and you leave FULL."
A variety of steaks and lobster comprise 80 percent of the Pear Tree's in-house sales, says Mike Abbadessa, running with the baton passed on by his father, Al, who founded the Pear Tree in 1986. The Pear Tree has generated so much great word of mouth and so many awards, including Best of Rural Missouri and a 2005 Reader's Choice Awards for Best Steak, that gourmets flock from all over the Midwest to the unassuming restaurant, located in an unassuming former bank brick building.
"Draw a 150-mile circle around Bevier, that's where our customers come from," says Abbadessa as he drives back from a trade show in Indianapolis to expand his relatively new manufacturing corporation's reach. Pear Tree Manufacturing currently places the Abbadessas' salad dressings, gourmet garlic croutons and seasonings in grocery stores and supermarkets throughout the Midwest. "Last Saturday, we had four tables all the way from Omaha. They scheduled a trip to St. Louis around eating at the Pear Tree. We get a lot of repeat business."
Read this complete story with additional photos.
Looking to help save the environment and save money? The P2 program can help.
The Pollution Prevention (P2) Program from the University of Missouri Environmental Assistance Center (MOEAC), a program of MO SBTDC, can help larger Missouri businesses identify significant energy, water, waste and cost reductions.
P2 is an internship program that accepts only upper-level engineering students who have successfully completed an intensive course in energy efficiency measures, best management practices and applied engineering. The program then matches a company's needs with an intern's experience and interest. Preference is given to students with industrial experience.
By the end of the 10-week internship, companies receive a written report detailing viable alternatives to save money and reduce environmental impact.
Since 2008, P2 interns have helped Missouri businesses save more than $965,000 through proposed reductions in water use totaling nearly five million gallons, nearly 128,000 pounds of hazardous waste and five million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Participating firms agree to pay interns $15 per hour, and interns are expected to work 40 hours a week for the duration of the program. MOEAC can provide monitoring equipment for boilers, compressors, motors, lighting, heating and cooling if a firm does not have them.
P2 interns are available each June for the summer months.
For more information, go to missouribusiness.net/eac or contact Marie Steinwachs, MOEAC director, at 573-882-5011 or email@example.com or Leah Christian, MOEAC research associate, at 573-882-2268 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Businesses have been on Twitter since its earliest days to connect with customers, offer discounts and share exclusive content. The tweets had to be generic, however, to cover an entire customer base.
But what if your tweet is only relevant to a subset of followers? What if you want to make an offer only to some Twitter users?
Twitter has rolled out a new product to help you better target these customers: Targeted Tweets. The new feature allows you to reach a specific audience without sending a tweet to all your followers. It could also help those who only want to reach people using certain devices such as iPhones or Android phones.
Companies that use the new Targeted Tweets only pay when users engage with them, and the tweets that garner the most user engagement are more likely to appear more often. (Engagement means clicking through or retweeting.)
Twitter says they've been testing Targeted Tweets with some of the biggest names in business: @CocaCola, The Washington Post (@wpsocialreader) and @Wendys.
Small business owners have until the end of September to refinance loans at lower interest rates.
The temporary version of the Small Business Administration's 504 loan program, passed as part of the Small Business Jobs Act, expires Sept. 27.
The SBA recognizes how vital these loans are to small businesses. "Market research shows that a large percentage of commercial mortgages outstanding are set to mature within the next few years, particularly those held by community banks," reads an SBA announcement.
Eligible small business owners can refinance a loan and typically get a 20-year fixed rate on the SBA portion of the loan and a fixed, amortized rate on the bank portion of the loan. This can help provide a better cash flow situation.
That rates are at all-time historic lows doesn't hurt. In July, small business owners could refinance at a 20-year fixed rate of 4.66 percent. Rates change monthly, so check with the SBA.
For more information, go to the SBA website at: sba.gov/content/504-loan-refinancing-program.
Cyber crime isn't just targeting giant international conglomerates these days. A recent Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report showed that 72 percent of 855 external data breaches were at companies with 100 or fewer employees. Here are four simple, practical tips to prevent cyber attack:
- Use stronger passwords. This might sound far too obvious, but it works. The tougher the password, the tougher it is to guess. Educate employees on just what a strong password is — combos of letters, numerals and capitals. Then put these strong passwords on all your systems, smartphones, iPads and other devices. Change the default password on routers and point-of-sale equipment as well. Change all these passwords regularly. Larger firms have all employees change their password every 60-90 days, no exceptions.
Learn more at an upcoming training event:
Cyber Security & Economic Espionage: Safeguarding Proprietary Information: Sept. 19.
Happier and more productive employees? Isn't it one or the other?
In 13 words or less — Not necessarily.
A growing number of studies strongly suggest a simple formula at work: HE=HI. That's happier employees equals higher income.
Here are a few tips to plug this formula into your business:
- Get to know your employees. People are more than a resume or time slot. They have families, hobbies, holiday pictures. Taking the time to get to know your people — their values, their interests, their capabilities, their challenges and aspirations — can help you discover untapped skills and abilities and make them feel understood and appreciated.
- Support them. Many managers don't understand the negative consequences of berating, belittling and bedeviling employees whose personality or performance they don't like. One study asked 669 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators in terms of importance. They ranked "supporting progress" dead last. Fully 95 percent of these managers failed to recognize that praise and support are primary motivators, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses. After all, don't you want your people to charge in full of joy and excitement about their work?
Small business owners may forget that Facebook is more than a sharing site; it's a formidable data repository. Yet few business owners bother to access this information either because they don't know how to find it or they don't want to take the time to analyze it.
Some answers can be found on Facebook's Insights Dashboard, which measures your page's user data. Insights can be quite easy to manage once you become acquainted with a few key metrics:
- Track "engaged users."
Don't guess which posts your fans will respond to. Measure which ones are already popular then replicate them.
On Insights, click on the tool icon under your Timeline cover photo. Select View Insights in the dropdown menu, and then scroll down until you see a chart of page posts. Next to each post are several columns, including the number of "engaged users," which measures how many of them clicked on a particular post.
- Monitor incoming traffic from external referrers.
A Facebook page needs visitors to gain traction. That may sound obvious, but many of us forget to drive traffic to our Facebook page.
To find out where your visitors are coming from, go to Insights, click on Reach and scroll down to find "external referrers." You'll see a list of websites and the number of users who arrived from each. Your website and search engines should be near the top. If your external traffic is low, try to optimize for Google, drive leads to Facebook or include social icons and share buttons on your website or blog.
- Pay attention to who's "talking about this."
"Talking about this" is a measure of how many people over the past seven days engaged with your page in any way — tagging it, clicking "like," making a comment, sharing a post. This metric can be critical in increasing the ratio of "talking about this" to "likes." Five to 10 percent week over week is a good target, but the average is much lower than that — closer to 2 percent — for most businesses.
Click Talking About This in Insights. Here you can access the number's change from week to week, demographic information about users and perhaps more interesting, "viral reach."
Viral reach is a measure of how many unique people saw a story published by a friend about your page. A story could be a new "like," comment or share. On Facebook, the more people who talk about a post, the more feeds it reaches — which is why engagement is so crucial.
Empty town squares, ghostly industrial estates, derelict property, vacated lots — the recession has been hard on our cities and towns.
If, like most small business owners, you have a miniscule marketing budget, consider turning vacant property into marketing space. In many cases, it won't be free, but it will still be considerably less than the cost of marketing through normal channels.
- Pop-ups. Pop-up restaurants and shops are the most mainstream examples of repurposing vacant or shopping mall sites, often with seasonal themes, such as a Christmas shop on Main Street or a Halloween store in the mall. Pop-ups are perfect for selling on a seasonable basis but are also good for trial-marketing a new region, product or brand; moving an online business into a semi-permanent brick-and-mortar retail space; or just to create a viral buzz. If you go pop-up, remember to keep your momentum by creating an online community that can follow you via Facebook or Twitter. Fees for pop-up stores will vary considerably by location.
We all know how rapidly technology advances these days. After about four years, on average, most companies seek to replace computers and other equipment. Yet many companies do not realize either the scrap value of these assets or the environmental burden of throwing them out. This is why recycling businesses like EPC, Inc. want to educate people about electronics waste, or e-waste.
"It all has value," says Dave Beal, vice president of EPC. "When you take apart a desktop computer, there is a lot to reclaim." EPC, a leader in electronic asset recovery, specializes in reclaiming those materials. Beal himself is no stranger to the value of recycling: He is an active board member and former president of the Missouri Recycling Association (MORA).
Recycling, however, was not always the end game for the business, formerly known as Executive Personal Computing. Founded in St. Louis in 1985, EPC initially sold accounting terminals.
In 2005 EPC started an electronics scrap (e-scrap) processing center in a 65,000 square-foot facility in Earth City, Mo. "In the first year," Beal explains, "1.8 million pounds of e-waste were recycled." Since then, EPC workers armed with electronic screwdrivers have processed 28.1 million pounds of e-waste. Now EPC is one of the premier asset recovery services in the country, employing more than 200 people in seven different locations.
The Missouri Recycling Association (MORA) offers businesses a chance to learn the benefits of reuse, recycling and composting. The upcoming annual MORA conference features behind the scenes tours of recycling at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and Busch Stadium. And join MORA fans for a Cardinals vs. Brewers game on Sunday, Sept. 9! Visit mora.org for more information and registration.
The Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers and Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers offer a variety of outstanding educational opportunities throughout the year. Here are highlights of some upcoming events.
Need some grant-writing assistance? Let us help you write winning proposals!
Missouri's SBIR Boot Camp is a unique writing workshop for principal investigators (PIs) in small, for-profit businesses that need to accelerate the Phase I proposal preparation process to fit into their busy work schedules.
By pairing PIs with professional technical writers and editors in formal writing sessions, past Boot Camp survivors were able to write >80% of their Phase I proposals in just two days, instead of the 3-4 weeks typically invested in this effort. Reading behind the PIs — in real-time — editors quickly find and correct manuscript errors, organize complex materials and provide the professional "wordsmithing" often lacking in the PI's skill set.
The Boot Camp series currently underway is underwritten by a grant to the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers (SBTDC) from the Small Business Administration. It allows us to greatly reduce the tuition we normally charge for this unique program to a price easily affordable, even for startups.
Here's how it will work: If you would like to work with a grant writer on an upcoming proposal, you may do so at a time convenient to you and the writer. Sessions can be scheduled in six areas of the state: Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Joseph, St. Louis and Warrensburg. The MO SBTDC will help facilitate the partnership between your firm and the grant writer. You may work with the writer for up to two full days at a mutually agreeable location.
The boot camp is underwritten by a grant to the SBTDC from the Small Business Administration.
To participate in a session near you, contact one of the following locations:
- Missouri University of Science and Technology SBTDC in Rolla — 573-341-7584
- Northwest Missouri State University SBTDC in Maryville — 660-562-1701
- University of Central Missouri SBTDC in Warrensburg — 660-543-4402
- University of Missouri SBTDC in Columbia — 573-882-7096
- University of Missouri SBTDC in Kansas City — 816-235-6063
Technology today propelling the innovations of tomorrow
The University of Missouri Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations would like to extend an invitation to attend the Missouri Technology Expo 2012 to be held in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus, Columbia, Mo., from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012.
The Expo was created to 1) promote awareness of ongoing research in Missouri, 2) help innovators establish key relationships with potential commercial partners and market their technologies for licensing or research collaborations and 3) stimulate investment. It's a bridge uniting innovators, academia, community and industry partners and a catalyst for economic development.
The Expo will feature such sessions as:
- Keynote presentation by Tom Schlafly, partner, Thompson Coburn, LLP and president of the Saint Louis Brewery, Inc., makers of the Schlafly beer line
- Tiger Cage, early-stage firm elevator pitches by researchers and other technology representatives pitching university-bred technologies ready for licensing
- The Next Big Thing, representatives from two emerging companies on the brink of commercialization speak on developing commercial products
- Creating your Dream, presented by Greg Scheller, Katalyst Surgical CEO, LLC and former director of entrepreneurship at the University of Missouri, on the arduous road to business development and overcoming common troubles entrepreneurs face
and much more.
The Expo is open to all industry sectors. Priority will be given to attendees known to attract venture capital or acquisition or licensing partners such as advanced materials, energy, life science, nanotechnology, software, semiconductors and chemical and manufacturing innovations.
Registration for the expo is now open. Registration fee is $30, $20 for groups of five or more from the same organization and $15 for students. More information on how to register, on the Tiger Cage elevator pitches and on speakers, transportation and accommodations can be found at research.missouri.edu/otmir/mte2012.
See you there!
MO SBTDC and the University of Central Missouri in partnership with Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler present the 2012 Missouri Business Conference. The conference will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg.
Hartzler will be honorary host.
The conference is an annual celebration of Missouri business where leading business and entrepreneurial minds share how to thrive in any business environment. This full-day conference will be fueled by high-powered panels and guests from leading national and regional companies discussing how to kick-start your business, generate more revenue, increase your processes and decrease costs.
The conference is for anyone interested in starting or growing a small business and an ideal opportunity to connect with small business support and resource providers. Experts and community organizations will also teach you how to plan for, finance and market your small business. For more information visit missouribusiness.net/sbtdc/Hartzler or contact the University of Central Missouri SBTDC at 660-543-4402.
Accredited Member of the ASBDC
Association of Small Business Development Centers.
Representing America's SBDC Network
Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.
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