New TV Program Gives Small Businesses Technology Tips From Peers

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 15, 1997 — Many technology-wise entrepreneurs are thriving because they are accomplishing in minutes what took hours to do in the past. To prevent costly technology mistakes, most rely on the advice of other small-business owners with similar problems and needs. Showcasing some of these successes, Microsoft has produced America at Work, a six-part educational television series that will air Saturday mornings on the USA Network. Premiering this Saturday, Jan. 18, the programs are designed to give small-business viewers information and advice on technology from their peers.

This year alone, small businesses will spend more than $14 billion on computer hardware and software, according to BRG Research. However, with an ever-expanding sea of hardware and software choices, the decision to buy can be more than a little bewildering for the average small-business owner.

“We’re a small business of 23 employees. We simply didn’t have the resources to recover from a costly technology mistake,”
said Karen Iannaccone, owner of Our Daily Bread, a bakery in Blacksburg, Va.
“My biggest fear was spending money on a solution that wouldn’t really solve my company’s problems.”

Yet many small businesses are feeling the crunch to stay competitive.
“We’re a small business trying to compete with low-cost production powerhouses overseas,”
said John Mann, president of Embroidered Corporate Image, an embroidery company in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
“I needed a way to move things through production quickly, without losing any control over manufacturing costs or inventory.”

Both entrepreneurs tell their stories on
“America at Work,”
a video series produced to educate small businesses about the benefits and pitfalls of technology.

Technology Tips From Peers

Produced by Microsoft Corp. and sponsored by GTE and Hewlett-Packard Co., the
“America at Work”
series was designed to let small-business owners who had successfully implemented technology tell their own stories.
“We talked to a lot of small businesses before developing the programs,”
said Vivian Scott, producer of the series.
“We discovered that many entrepreneurs rely on feedback and advice from other small-business owners before making any major business decision.”

Based on that information, the series was crafted to show how successful small businesses solved common problems with technology. According to Scott,
“It’s meant to be less about computers and more about small-business owners talking about their problems and how they solved them.”

Using a 30-minute news magazine style, six episodes were developed to showcase an equal number of common small-business concerns: The Business of Customers – managing and pleasing your customers; From Zero to Sixty in Thirty Days – implementing technology; More Time, More Money: Getting It All Done; Communicate, Collaborate, Cooperate – managing communications with employees, vendors and customers; Road Map to the Internet – a beginners guide; High-Tech/High-Return Marketing. The first of these programs premieres Saturday, Jan. 18, at 9:30 a.m. on the USA Network cable channel. The series continues weekly in the same time slot for an additional five consecutive Saturdays.

In addition to watching each episode, viewers can also call the Microsoft® Small Business Hot Line at (800) 60SOURCE [607-6872] to get more answers about their small-business concerns. Entrepreneurs can also visit the Microsoft Small Business World Wide Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/smallbiz/ for information and advice on how technology can help their business.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Note to editors : If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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