May 27, 2024 XXVI

Business Owners' Idea Cafe Makes Big News for Small Biz

We're proud that Idea Cafe's longevity since 1995 as a prime small business destination is of such interest to the media. In fact, we receive so much great press we can't keep up with it. But here's a partial taste of the buzz re Idea Cafe. Also, read what business owners themselves say about Idea Cafe.
"Since the drop in the Nasdaq Stock Market, some of the biggest names in small business internet sites have closed, consolidated with competitors or scaled back..." (,,, "But don't fret. Despite the cloud over these, entrepreneurs have options when trolling the Net to get information and tools, receive advice and chat with others.
   One site that deserves mention is Idea Cafe, which couldn't be more different than many of its struggling bigger and better-financed rival destination sites.
   This long-established site, which describes itself as 'a fun place for serious business'... has plenty to offer for serious entrepreneurs... Its discussion boards ("CyberSchmooz"), have very lively chats in different categories.
   Despite no advertising, the site gets traffic -- ranking No. 9 among the top 10 online small business centers, according to market research firm, Cahners In-Stat.
   Many rival sites are run by people who've never owned a business and 'don't really understand the market,' Ward (Francie Ward, Idea Cafe CEO) said. 'It's like the Tortise and the Hare. We just keep plodding along and growing.'"

Idea Cafe Tops SCORE'S List of 35 Hot Small Biz Sites!
For SCORE's 35th Anniversary, they selected 35 Web Sites for small biz to bookmark. Idea Cafe heads the list.

PBS-TV Internet Cafe
"Some of the SOHO sites on the web are deadly, but here's one that's fun," noted award-winning host Stewart Chiefet, "and there's good solid information at Idea Cafe." As Idea Cafe founder Francie Ward explains on the broadcast, "Owning a business is a really stressful thing, but you've got to lighten up to handle that stress."
Stewart: "One of the things I really like on your site is the Fridge -- that is such a great idea!"
Francie: "We have so much information on Idea Cafe and we change it so often that this is our answer to archives. But like any fridge, we have to clean it out from time to time."

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Report TV

Nationally syndicated news program
"This is where you want to land when you really need a break! Go visit Idea Cafe!" -- Ronalee Roha, Kiplinger's Business Editor --"This site is fun: there's Coffee Talk with Experts, Financing... and, oh yeah, The Fridge. Idea Cafe's Fridge is great!" "There'll come a time when you need to smile, and that's when you'll head back to Idea Cafe."
And Kiplinger's quotes Francie Ward, Idea Cafe founder: "People can get some help with what they're trying to do right now to make their dreams happen"

Dow Jones Business Directory: Best Sites for Business
"Idea Cafe, an enjoyable read, is a well-rounded collection of information and resources for small-business professionals. If you stop by, you will find a site that is easy to use with major areas highlighted clearly on the home page. Excellent resources available."

Fast Company

"Favorite Bookmark -- Idea Cafe: Startup ideas and support for people who want to 'break out.'"

Microsoft's Technology Resource Guide in Newsweek:

"Idea Cafe: A fresh, fun approach to business. Idea Cafe combines advice, info, resources and 'Lite Bytes' with interviews with leading entrepreneurs, interactive self-exams, budget sheets, and contests, along with 18 financing sources for your business and in-depth info on using the web for business communications."

Inc. Magazine
"Hot Sites for Growing Companies: IDEA CAFE's Biz Directory."

IWay Top 500

Idea Cafe ranked 4th in top 25 Financial Sites (after Charles Schwab Online #1, Fidelity Investments #1, and Chicago Mercatile Exchange #3, followed by Wells Fargo (tie for #4), MasterCard #5, Wall Street Journal Interactive #6, etc.):
    "A top financial site! Designed to meet the needs of the small business entrepreneur, Idea Cafe does that and more. It can be best described as an online community of business people helping each other to succeed.
   You'll find a kinder, gentler approach to business, stressing marketing through cooperation."

San Francisco Chronicle

"Small Business Technology: Building Business with the Net Top Web Sites: Idea Cafe: The Small Business Channel"

Wall Street Journal features Idea Cafe as a best-of-breed Site Catering to Small Business

According to The Journal, "all-in-one web sites catering to small business have popped up like T-shirt peddlers at a rock concert." but WSJ felt only Idea Cafe and six others were worth mention. The Wall Street Journal lauded Idea Cafe in particular for its:
• Online tools, forms, and how-tos
• Distinctive fun and friendly homepage ("if somethat garish")
• Candid and helpful Coffee Talk With Experts discussions
• Spirited active CyberSchmooz community, and
• Overall "friendly and engaging feel."

The Journal quoted Idea Cafe CEO Francie Ward regarding why Idea Cafe has been so successful in creating its bond with small business. "So many companies trying to reach small business don't have a clue," Ms. Ward says. "That's our language. We know what kinds of problems (small business owners) are dealing with."
-- For the full story,, Special Reports/Breakaway-Focus on Small Business, Full Service Sites

Idea Cafe named "BEST! Website for Small Business" by C/NET
Idea Cafe: The Small Business Channel There's always something on the back burner (and on the front burner, for that matter) at the Idea Cafe. This gathering place of "success tips for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs" sports colorful, upbeat graphics and a selection of articles covering topics from finance to how you work. Meet, mingle and network in the Idea Cafe's CyberSchmooz lounge, where folks discuss business volunteer opportunities, weird tax deductions and the first year in business. This "fun approach to serious business" is the blue-plate special of the day.

Wall Street Journal
Technology and Small Business...
Five Web sites that are worth a click

As many entrepreneurs know by now, the Internet can be a great resource -- and an equally great waste of time. Yes, you can find new ideas for products, markets, financing, whatever -- and much of it free. The only trick is finding them. The Web may contain wads of information, but it's so unruly and disorganized that many people give up long before they come cross even a glimmer of anything useful.
   Think of it as traveling to New York and trying to choose a restaurant. You certainly can't try them all, and the likelihood of finding a truly terrific one at random is pretty slim. But if you start off with a list of recommended places, the chances of finding an outstanding one become much greater. With that as the backdrop, let me offer a quick tour of five Web sites with strong potential to help out small-business owners. --
As business magazines continue to proliferate, their Web cousins, Zines, are on the grow.
   Idea Cafe is one of these. Francie Marks Ward, the site's self-titled "chief cook and bottle washer" has a good feel for the challenges facing small-business owners. Her description of how the site picks its offerings indicates she has spent enough time talking to entrepreneurs to know what issues matter to them.
    Idea Cafe offers a mix of small business profiles, how-to articles and other news-you-can-use features
   For example, the "Cyber Schmooz" discussion groups provide a good networking forum. A recent message from "Stacey" offered a good illustration.
   Stacey wrote: "I have just started my own home-based desktop-publishing business. I am planning to design resumes, newsletters, fliers, as well as other publishing needs. I need a way to get new clients without spending a lot of money. Help...please."
   Two days later, Jodie Skolnick posted a number of suggestions on how to target and reach potential clients. This type of time-shifted networking from the convenience of a computer is a lot more efficient than buttonholing people at a trade show.
   Many of Idea Cafe's offerings have a decidedly whimsical touch. "Yoga@Your Desk: Skull Stretches a la Jim Carrey" and "Vampire Wake Me Ups" are sure to provide some laughs, if not relief from ergonomical maladies. And for people looking for a higher source of guidance, there's even a "business" horoscope section."
By Paul Cox

Pick of the Week!

Financial Times, Australia
"Idea Cafe serves up a business info feast... insights on starting, running and growing a business. Interesting interviews, news, and also offers some valuable links to management and marketing resources."

WebNow: Your Guide to the Best Sites
"Ranked #1 (In Career Category) Idea Cafe: The Small Business Channel. Isn't it about time you had fun getting information to help with your small business? ...Idea Cafe offers serious advice for small-business folk, but in a fun format." -

Continental Airlines Magazine
"Idea Cafe, a business site in the form of a neighborhood coffee shop. This confetti-strewn site, deemed a "Fun approach to Serious Business," has its topics organized like magnets on a refrigerator door. One day you might try email marketing tips with a side order of financial advice, the next you might sample stress-busting paper airplanes and an interview with a top business exec."

The Vancouver Sun
"Favorite sites: Idea Cafe for "a great budget worksheet" and small business links. "You just plug in your numbers..."

Best Site at
"This site is colorful AND informative. It's all about starting up and running a small business. It offers great advice, reviews of new technology, and profiles of entrepreneurs to inspire you. When I finally save up enough to start that fashion design company, this is where I'll go for smart advice."
"Idea Cafe is a well known site that helps small business owners run their business better. It is also very fun and easy to use."

BusinessWeek Online
"Idea Cafe... the most-visited forum for small business on the Web"

Idea Cafe ranked as a Top Ten Online Business Center (OBC)
Cahners In-Stat Group, the respected high-tech market research firm, has rated Idea Cafe among the Top Ten OBCs two years in a row, and made special note of Idea Cafe's lifestyle content.

Small Business Marketing for Dummies Recommends Idea Cafe:
"A site full of ideas for small businesses. Click on Running Your Business to reach an area crammed with tools and tips." for more

Black Enterprise Magazine
"You'll find tips on how to formulate and implement a bold and cogent plan... You'll also find a multitude of financing sources at"

TechWeek Live
"Web Full of Ideas for Financing Your Small-Business Dreams" --The "Cookie Jar" on Idea Cafe's Financing Your Business

Netscape Netcenter
Again selects Idea Cafe Site of the Week

Fast Company
"Sites to See: Idea Cafe. Practical columns and articles, random fun stuff, and a virtual watercooler where you can seek investors, complain about working alone, or boast about being the boss."

PC World
"Beating the Small Business Blues: Idea Cafe has lots of information on borrowing money and luring investors.
If you're not sure what kind of financing you need or whether your collection process will keep the money rolling in, take one of the site's handy self-help exams. (also) gives advice on everything from how to motivate your employees to managing your supply chain."

"Check Out Idea Cafe -- a lively site with resources, information and expert advice -- as well as entertainment and a chance to interact."

Upside Magazine
"Site Spotlight: Are you really going to let all those 24-year-old snot-nosed kids cash in on the Net while you waste away as a high-paid, soulless desk jockey? Why pass up the chance to build your own company?
Idea Cafe. No hard-sell here -- Idea Cafe goes for laughs. Go light with your daily business horoscope, or legitimate with the Biz Guide to Web resources, planning advice, all-important money connections and the CyberSchmooz networking space. For inspiration, turn to interviews and profiles of successful entrepreneurs."

USA Today
"Tap Idea Cafe. Get your creative juices flowing with help from Idea Cafe. Dealings range from budgets to a Biz Horoscope. Who says you can't mix business with pleasure?"

Biz: The Journal of Small Business
(by American Cities Business Journals)
"10 Great Websites for Smallbiz:
   Idea Cafe is one of the hippest entrepreneur sites out there, with a snappy approach to business and management issues. Look for an interesting discussion of the colors that will be "in" for business. Free."

Washington Business Times
"Idea Cafe is colorful and fun as it presents feature articles and a financing area that provides 40 pages of information and self-exams to direct the user on how to get money needed to finance a business, with budget sheets, loan-application tips and more."

PC Novice Guide to the Web
"Idea Cafe bills itself as "An All-You-Can-Eat Financing Feast," and it delivers. You can connect with other small-business owners and obtain tips for running your business. You'll find advice about business planning and technology as well. You'll have a difficult time finding a better site for small business advice."

Sunny Side Up. Imagine a cafe where you can order information as easily as you order a cup of coffee. There is such a place; it's called Idea Cafe: The Small Business Channel(sm) -- an Internet reality that offers a virtual feast of small business fare."
"At Idea Cafe, you'll find infomation, hotlinks and everything you could possibly want to know about managing your small business."

Price Costco Connection
"Idea Cafe, a place where small-business owners can find information and success..."

Harcourt Brace Publishing
"Idea Cafe is our 'Week's Accounting Top Five Sites'...
Valuable content, well-designed and technologically impressive... Idea Cafe stands out as being cream of the crop."

See also Kudos
To hear The IDEA behind IDEA CAFE in our own words, check out About Idea Cafe


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