January 23, 2020

You’re the Boss Blog: The Last Video Rental Start-Up?

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

As noted in Monday’s Dashboard summary of the week’s small-business news, Miguel Gomez introduced a very unlikely start-up late last year in Ardmore, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Ready? It’s a retail shop called Viva Video! The Last Picture Store. That’s right, it’s a video rental store. In this age of streaming videos and movie downloads, can an energetic entrepreneur breathe life into what most people assume is a dying business?

Why video rentals?

I worked for 13 years at another local video store which closed this past October when their lease ran out. They weren’t interested in dealing with a move, so I set about trying to find a place that could make sense. The store still had a steady business and a very loyal clientele, so as long as I could find somewhere that kept our overhead costs low, I saw a possibility to continue the store.

Did you have much experience?

My wife and I were managers of the store that closed, so aside from seeing the desire in the community to retain a video store, we were lucky enough to know the financials as well and to make our decision based on that information.

How are you going to compete against online services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix?

Online services do have plenty to offer, but the personal experience is impossible to match. Our store caters primarily to a very film-literate clientele — a group of people that don’t just want access to whatever is thrown their way. A brick-and-mortar location is still the best way to learn and browse smaller titles, whether they be quirky art house fare like “Moonrise Kingdom” or foreign films like “Le Havre” or “The Skin I Live In.”

Don’t online services have user recommendations, too?

Online recommendations end up being a lot safer than those from a real life person, and those online recommendations can end up narrowing your field.

Are you concerned about finding new videos and DVDs and other inventory?

Not in the immediate future. The studios definitely seem like they would like to get out of the physical media game, but to a greater degree than the consumer does. Physical DVD collections are much easier to browse and a good way to show off your tastes to friends. I believe we will continue to see physical media for some time.

Will you be operating an online store?

We will have an online presence but not an online store.

How important is location?

Our location is along the main drag and has plenty of parking, a necessity for a video store. Our town is also a very walkable place with plenty of would-be customers in addition to the ones we hope to bring over from the previous store.

What was your initial investment?

The start-up investment to launch the store came from my personal savings and a loan from my family. A video store is not terribly complicated or expensive in terms of equipment. You need a location, employees, computers, shelving and the movies pretty much. I was able to purchase much from my former employer at a very reasonable price. I’ve always been a movie collector, so I had many movies already.

Did you have a business plan?

Yes. My business plan has us projected as accomplishing profitability after running the store for two years.

What’s your marketing plan?

We are trying to host a variety of events to let the community know we are here and to help foster a love of cinema. We are going to be hosting a screening for the Cinedelphia Film Festival, we will be hosting an outdoor screening for a community event in June, and we hope to have many more such events in the near future. We have plans to add a cafe and ice cream to the shop, as well as a sitting room to read about films and discuss them.

Do you have any competitors?

There aren’t too many video stores left in the country, but the ones that are left are all pretty great. Baltimore has Video Americain, Seattle has Scarecrow Video, Austin has both I Luv Video and Vulcan Video, San Francisco has both Lost Weekend Video and Le Video … so there are communities still supporting video stores, as long as the video stores have stellar inventories.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?

The generosity of customers that want us to be around! One customer has helped me paint the place, put up shelving, everything imaginable. Another customer has loaned us his collection of Blu-ray titles. Barry Solan of Video Americain called us up to cheer us on for starting a new store in this day and age, and then let me purchase rarities from his stock at a greatly reduced price to help us fill in some of the gaps in our inventory. On the first day I opened, before I could even let people walk into the shop, we had people signing up for monthly plans to show their support.

Do you think your store will still be around 10 years from now?

A very well run store with the right inventory, staff and clientele will be able to make a go of it. It’s not an easy business, but anyone in this business right now is in it because they love it.

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/12/the-last-video-rental-start-up/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: It’s On

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Sequester: Already Hurting?

The sequester budget cuts take hold, and Jim Tankersley says it will sock an already vulnerable economy. Scott Sumner explains how we got into this mess. Some feel the sequester cuts are already hurting small businesses. But E. Scott Adler and John Wilkerson say things are bad, but not bad enough, and another blogger says there are nine great things about the sequester. James Walter and Corey Ross say that alternative lending for small businesses will get a boost.

The Economy: Pricing Pressure

Steven Hansen says new home sales in January were “beautiful,” but the economy grew only 0.1 percent in the last quarter. Manufacturing sentiment improved in Richmond, manufacturing activity increased (but at a slower pace) in Texas, and manufacturing activity was down in Chicago. Home Depot’s co-founder says small businesses are struggling. Consumer confidence rebounds but is still at recession levels. New orders for durable goods (pdf) fell but music sales are growing for the first time since Napster. An Ernst Young report says that pricing pressure is among the biggest risks and opportunities ahead this year.

The Fed: Currency Realignment

The Federal Reserve chairman defends the central bank’s monetary stimulus (here’s the full speech). Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir say Ben S. Bernanke’s challenge is to “prime markets for a policy turn.” And Paul Krugman says Mr. Bernanke is a hippie. The dollar surges, and one blogger believes there will be a realignment of the currency system. Al Bredenberg says that ending currency manipulation will help manufacturers.

Management: A New C.E.O. for Vistage

Ben Schiller thinks that Whole Foods may be a viable model for the future of capitalism. A new report advises couples to run their weddings like small businesses. Here is how an owner of a technology company powers his business (and this is how this guy became an accomplished party crasher). Vistage International names a new chief executive, and Groupon fires Andrew Mason, who writes an awesome goodbye letter. Rhonda Campbell explains why expanding your production capabilities is necessary to keep your customers satisfied. A document-filing service explains how to make mistakes intelligently. Brian Solis shares some fascinating facts on business failures. A chocolatier shares her thoughts about running a niche business. And a new study answers the big question: Do small-business owners have better sex?

Your People: Time Wasters

Yahoo’s chief tells her employees they can no longer work from home. Wellness incentives at many companies are becoming financially attractive. But if that’s not your thing, then a company sweepstakes may help your employees become healthier. Joanne Tucker explains why you need to have a written health and safety policy: “You, as the employer, have overall and final responsibility for health and safety in the workplace.” These are the 10 biggest time wasters at the office. More employees are raiding their retirement accounts. This is how one successful company hires and fires employees. A determined teenager walks 10 miles to a job interview (but another business owner hires him instead). A naked guy gets locked out of his hotel room.

Finance: Banks Are Doing Fine

The banking industry’s earnings were 19 percent higher than last year and the second-highest ever. But JPMorgan lays off 4,000 workers. January’s leasing volume was up 16 percent from a year ago. Scott Grannis says there is no shortage of money but here are a few reasons banks still aren’t lending to you. A mom-to-be lets online voters pick her baby’s name for $5,000. Capital One Financial expands its partnership with a global microlender. Gary Emmanuel says there are five reasons equity-based crowdfunding won’t work. A Kickstarter-funded film wins an Oscar. Here’s how to pitch a venture capitalist when you’re in high school. A bookkeeper gives advice for using tools (and common sense procedures) to prevent financial fraud, and Savannah Bobo says here’s what to expect if you use an automated payroll system.

Mobile: Payments Heating Up

MasterCard expands its mobile payment system. Samsung offers a new mobile payment service. Another IOS app is introduced to help small and growing businesses accept credit card transactions. Google is chipping away (pdf) at Apple’s mobile market for businesses. These are the three winners from the Mobile Premier Awards. Francisco Rosales offers compelling proof that mobile is changing business. Here are five mobile apps that can help you learn more about your customers.

Start-Up: In Prisons

Start-up mania hits California’s most notorious prison. Chris Groscurth says “competent leaders” are among the three must-haves for changing a start-up’s culture. A start-up quietly delivers smart wires to big power players. Janine Popick says these are the wrong reasons to start a business. Joshua Turner feels there is never a wrong age to start a business. Jenny Fulbright offers advice for starting and running a service business. Bruce Nussbaum says “indie capitalism” is on the rise.

Around the Country: Selling Pickles to China

An owner of a “bicycle academy” explains why he chose a Volkswagen van for his business. Michigan’s Black Chamber of Commerce celebrates Black History Month by promoting entrepreneurship. Brad Tuttle explores the “smoking hot network” for gently used cars. March will be small-business month for a bunch of northern Ohio communities. A North Carolina small business increases sales of pickles in China and becomes the Ex-Im Bank’s 500th “express insurance” customer. Macy’s and Penney are fighting over Martha Stewart.

Around the World: Another Cruise Ship

A new study from DHL finds the world today is less globally connected than it was in 2007. The British economy grew more than previously thought in 2012. In July, Honda plans to do something it hasn’t done for almost 50 years. South Koreans chow down on McDonald’s french fries, while North Korea approves 28 model hairstyles. Taiwan’s smaller start-ups realize that co-working is the way to go.  A report from Italy explains the election mess. An abandoned Russian cruise ship drifts towards Europe. China suffers a lull in manufacturing and its biggest weekly cash drain ever. The Onion warns that Chinese third-graders are falling behind American high school students in math and science.

Red Tape: Start-Up Legislation

The Internal Revenue Service reminds that it has a small-business and self-employed tax center. Nelson Nigel asks if your company is ready for government procurement: “The tendering process is something you’re almost always given only a single shot at. If you fail to make a good impression the first time around, you’ll usually have a hard time getting the government to give you another chance.” Felix Salmon says the pending Startup Act 3.0 is a no-brainer.

Marketing: Pricing Secrets

Here are the answers to questions about lead nurturing and marketing automation. Chris Penn says the secret to setting prices is to base them on value. Heidi Cohen says there are four cornerstones of content marketing, and these are the four types of content people love to share. When selling, Geoffrey James believes that you have three decision makers to win over. And Mike Major says you should avoid these four sales mistakes. David Frey lists 13 elements of effective advertising. Here’s a place to get some marketing training for the Web. Anum Hussain says there are eight big marketing campaign mistakes to stop making.

Social Media: Using YouTube

Here’s how to make the most of Twitter’s promoted advertising. Anna Farmery shares three social media tactics for business-to-business consumers, and Louise Julig explains how business-to-business marketers are benefiting from Facebook. Here are 20 examples of how some companies advertise their text-messaging campaigns through their Web sites. And this list defines all of the social media marketing acronyms. Liz Lockard says these three Google Analytics insights will matter to your business. Jim Smith shares thoughts on getting the most from YouTube. A baby tries to nap, but it’s just not happening.

Technology: A 3-D Car

Microsoft upgrades its cloud-based Office 365 for businesses while two small businesses say yes and one says no to the Microsoft Surface Pro. A brilliant machine separates Oreos. An innovative motion controller for PCs starts shipping in May. This is a practical guide to live chat implementation. Here are six utilities to supercharge your laptop. A Skype competitor hits 175 million users. Deimar Gutierrez says 3-D printing is the new hotbed of innovation and that it will affect every business. It will be used to build NASA’s spare parts and rocket engines, and a 3-D printed car is as strong as steel, half the weight, and nearing production.

Tweet of the Week

@indecision – One way to get people to care about sequestration is to get Jennifer Lawrence to say something wacky about it.

The Week’s Bests

Jennifer Warawa wants to know if you’re really listening: “Maybe there are clues about career challenges, struggles with a project or just general dissatisfaction. Maybe an e-mail was an employee’s cry for help and because you only had time to gloss over it, you missed their message all together. It’s no wonder so many people today feel disconnected or unheard – most people don’t have time (or make time) to listen.”

Glenn Muske says that you have a secret advantage to use in battle against huge marketing budgets. “Small-business owners develop deep connections with their customers. Those connections arise from close interactions. In such an interaction, the owners can identify the specific problems the customer is trying to solve. They can find the unfilled niche and learn how to attract an audience.”

This Week’s Question: Do you let employees work from home?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/this-week-in-small-business-its-on/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: Dish Mobs

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The State of the Union: ‘Incredibly Ambitious’

The president delivers an “incredibly ambitious” State of the Union address. Republicans respond by taking an awkward water break and saying the speech dims hopes for a deficit-reduction deal. Here’s a summary in graphs. Kent Hoover thinks President Obama gave little attention to small businesses, and John Tozzi explains what happened to his big plans. Preschoolers just find him boring. Here are 17 brilliant faces Joe Biden made during the speech. Professional employer organizations applaud the president’s commitment to lifting burdens on small businesses. As mentioned in the speech, Apple will make Macs in the United States (but create only 200 jobs). The president and business groups differ on minimum wage, and a business coach explains why folksiness works in speeches.

The Budget: Big Cuts

The United States posts a $3 billion surplus for January and the slower growth of health costs is easing the deficit. Tax revenues are expected to double by 2023. Richard Kogan shows just how big the pending automatic sequestration cuts will be, and Catherine Clifford explains how the cuts could affect small businesses.

The Economy: A Gulf in Optimism

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job openings were little changed from the previous month. Gas prices hit a historic high. Small-business confidence is still low, and Catherine Rampell reports on the gulf in optimism between small and large businesses. Affluent Americans are downbeat on the economy, and even though there’s some consumer optimism, Americans are struggling to save. Export price deflation continues, and Brian Lane investigates what’s behind the declining number of factories. But machine-tool orders rose in December, and farmers enjoyed their strongest net income in 40 years. Retail sales increased for the third straight month.

Marketing: Dish Mobs

American Express introduces a purchase-by-tweet service, and Emily Guy Birken explains how retailers manipulate their customers into spending. This is the best Final Jeopardy answer ever. G.B. Oliver has advice for getting blogs to mention your products. Here are three marketing tips for lawyers, and here are seven magical marketing lessons from Disney World. Prowling “dish mobs” aim to benefit local restaurants. Bobbi Klein says that your best friend may hold the keys to your next big client. And make sure you are not making these five sales mistakes.

Your People: Plotting an Exit?

And speaking of mistakes, here are four not to make when managing older employees. Bacardi Bottling faces penalties for alleged safety violations after a temporary worker’s death. Warm weather makes it harder to think straight. A start-up reinvents the workplace with reclaimed pallets. Rob Toledo offers ways to collaborate with coworkers remotely. E-mail, surfing the Internet and watching TV are among the worst office-productivity killers. In a sign of economic recovery, more people are quitting their jobs, and Brian O’Connell warns that your best employees may be plotting an exit. A Canadian university’s “puppy room” offers stress relief during exams.

Men Versus Women: Socially Savvy

Female-owned small and mid-size businesses are more upbeat and socially savvy than those owned by males. These are the jobs with the biggest (and smallest) pay gaps between men and women. Female entrepreneurs say search engine optimization and social media are the future of  marketing. Anne Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning for the State Department, explains how companies can make life better for both women and men. Angel investors are looking to finance companies led by women in Ohio (and beyond). A leading mobile and online advertising company does a “data dive” and finds that men and women behave differently on the phone. A high school girl makes a shot that must be seen to be believed.

Management: Five Hot Franchises

Justin Timberlake joins the “dumb creative director” hiring boom. Carnival customers experience another cruise-ship nightmare, and Will Ferrell handles security at a Lakers game. Rhonda Campbell says it’s time to automate your business processes to save time and money. The owner of an auto-detail business explains the importance of details like calling people back on the same day. These are five hot franchises you may want to consider, and here’s how doing a store makeover can take your business to the next level.

Online: Social Media in 20 Minutes a Day

Here are five W’s that are instrumental to your Web site’s success. Debbie Hemley lists 26 ways to market your business with Tumblr. Michael Boland explains what Google’s enhanced campaigns mean for small- and mid-sized businesses: “Google is using the stick instead of the carrot.” Google Plus is gaining ground with brand marketers. Chris Silver Smith says there are thousands of things small businesses can do to improve their ranking and appearance in search engine results, but the top S.E.O. tactic right now is to incorporate the author markup. Saman Kouretchian says there are four reasons your small business needs to be on YouTube. Amanda Jacobs has tips for managing your social media in 20 minutes a day. This guy puts an end to Harlem Shake videos.

Red Tape: Most-Taxed Cities

Virginia cuts its state employees’ hours to avoid providing health care coverage. The Obama administration introduces a Smart Disclosure Data community to “empower Americans with the data and tools they need to make more informed choices in the marketplace.” Here’s why you should take advantage of government contracting opportunities. These are the 10 most taxed cities in the United States, and this is not a good way to watch an archery competition.

S.B.A.: Karen Mills Steps Down

The economic environment is turning around for America’s small businesses, according to a new report released by the Small Business Administration. The S.B.A. recognizes Doreen Wade as the Massachusetts Small Business Person of the Year. It also announces one webinar series promoting entrepreneurship education and small-business growth and another about retirement savings plans for small-business owners and their employees. The S.B.A. also announces a program to train entrepreneurs in underserved communities. The National Small Business Innovation Research Conference is scheduled for May 14-16 in Washington. And Karen Mills steps down as head of the agency.

Finance: Managing Receivables

This is everything you need to know about offering trade credit. A Main Street lender raises $42 million. Meredith Wood says that “only accepting checks” is one of six ineffective ways to manage receivables. Matthew Toren outlines seven steps to ensure a successful online fundraising campaign. A panel discusses the secrets for start-ups looking to work with big corporations. Jeff Thomson says that there are signs that indicate when a small business needs a chief financial officer.

Around the Country: Your Favorite Small Business

A Russian company opens a location in northern Kentucky, and zombies attack Montana. Joe Brancatelli believes that the the US Airways-American merger will “stink for business travelers, at least for a while.” An unofficial spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill dies of a heart attack. Banana Joe wins big at the Westminster Dog Show. North Carolina approves steep benefit cuts for the jobless. A subcontracting school is introduced in Washington, D.C. A contest lets you nominate your favorite small business to win a $5,000 giveaway.

Around the World: It’s Raining Spiders

Economist Mark J. Perry predicts an acceleration in global economic growth, the 30 most powerful bankers explain how to fix the world economy (hint: let the bond market do it), and Paul Krugman says Sweden has the answers to America’s tax problems. The International Energy Agency trims its outlook on global oil demand. The European Union and United States are negotiating a potentially game-changing free trade deal. Industrial production in Europe increases more than expected but Germany’s economy shrinks and Anthony Harrington wonders if Britain is going bust. But the London Stock Exchange is changing its rules to try to lure the next Google. Spiders rain down on Brazil. India’s industrial output shrinks again, and its car sales are the worst in a decade. China tops the United States in global trade, while Japan’s economy sinks deeper. Egypt bans YouTube for a month. Here’s how long it takes to become a millionaire in various countries.

Technology: Apple’s New Products

A privately held Dell may be a boon for entrepreneurs. Microsoft plans to introduce interactive TV shows before the end of the year. Bill Gates says he likes to “tour interesting things with my kids, like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos.” QuickBooks Online gets an iPad app to help small businesses do their books on the go. A tech analyst expects the small and medium-size business cloud market to grow. Apple has 100 people working on a wristwatch — and a bunch of other interesting products reportedly in development. Here’s everything you need to know about 3D printing, and here’s what happens to those kids who win the Google Science Fair.

Tweet of the Week

@neiltyson – Times have changed: Kennedy: “Let’s go to the moon.” Obama: “Lets repair our infrastructure.”

The Week’s Best

Brad Farris says that giving honest, immediate feedback is a leader’s first job: “Good feedback is future-oriented, giving people something to move toward, not something to move away from. When you tell someone, ‘I never want you to say that again,’ that says what not to do, but isn’t very helpful about what he could or should be doing. Try offering your feedback in the form of ‘I wish …’ or ‘I’d like to see …’ or ‘How could we …’ These phrases offer a direction for the person to pursue.”

This Week’s Question: Has your company made a Harlem Shake video? (Will you promise not to?)

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/this-week-in-small-business-dish-mobs/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week In Small Business: Leave the Building

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Big Story: Immigration Reform

A bipartisan group of senators reveals an immigration reform plan, and President Obama backs “start-up visas” for foreign-born tech entrepreneurs. One blogger says it’s a good plan for small businesses. Beth Goodbaum hopes it will boost high-skilled manufacturing. Here are five things economists know about immigration. Ezra Klein says that to fix the economy we need to fix immigration. Kid President gives a pep talk.

The Other Big Story: G.D.P. Contracts

A decline in gross domestic product means the economy shifted into reverse in December. Joe Weisenthal says it’s because of the big drop in military spending. The White House blames lower government spending overall. John Nolte disagrees. This chart sums up the decline. The Federal Reserve continues its stimulus plan, and Evan Schnidman congratulates the Fed on reaching its $3 trillion benchmark. Bob McTeer says “it’s just a number.” Some prominent economists argue that our deficits are not the real problem. Mark Thoma urges an investment in infrastructure as a way to reduce long-term debt.

The Economy: A Five-Year High

Texas manufacturing expands, manufacturer optimism increases, and Gallup says weekly optimism surges to a five-year high. Home prices continue to rise and household debt has fallen by $833 billion since 2008. Personal income increases the most in eight years and consumer spending is up slightly. But the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index is back down to 2011 levels, and some are blaming tax increases. Orders for durable goods increased, but Doug Short is more concerned about core orders. A popular index finds small-business revenue is falling but employment rising. ADP says there were 192,000 private jobs added to payrolls in January but unemployment claims jumped and the unemployment rate remained unchanged. John Elkington and Charmian Love look at the ways capitalism is changing to make a better world. And Volkswagen says everything will be all right.

Your People: Leave the Building

Erin Hatton laments the rise of the permanent temp economy. Fewer small businesses are offering employee benefits. Ken and Scott Blanchard explain how to get your team emotionally engaged. Margaret Heffernan suggests ways to make employees more creative, including: “Leave the building.” Russ Anderson has tips for designing your home workplace. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg says employers should ask female employees if they plan to get pregnant. This infographic shows how brilliant women make their businesses bloom. Lebron James tackles a fan who sinks a $75,000 shot. S.N.L. says YOLO, and a surfer may have ridden a 100-foot wave.

Management: Pricing

Steve Woods explains how big businesses are fueling small-business growth. Nadia Goodman suggests four strategies to sharpen your focus. Jim Connolly summarizes what every business owner needs to know about prices and fees: “Your prospective clients don’t care that you need to earn X every month. They care that the value they receive from you is greater than the price.” Ben Yoskovitz lists six things you need in order to pivot successfully. Seth Godin explains why small businesses fail. Intuit grants a small-business owner’s wish. Cats kill billions of creatures every year.

Starting Up: A New Incubator

Donna Harris reports on new start-up communities. A start-up that makes thermostats is worth $800 million. Taylor Soper lists 10 social media tools every start-up should have. The New York Times introduces a start-up incubator. This Web site lets you compare start-up salaries and equity, and this is how two undergraduates went from forever alone to thousands in sales. Get ready: mantyhose (a.k.a. brosiery or guylons) is headed our way.

Marketing: Google Takes Second

Google+ is now the No. 2 social media site for active users, and this tool helps bad spellers. Facebook shows that a mobile strategy is mandatory. Chris Garrett says the secret element of successful marketing is momentum. Rohit Bhargava explains how great brands rethink their expiration dates. Bob Phibbs offers five ideas to market your services and products. Rhonda Campbell has suggestions for marketing a successful business event. Penelope Trunk explains how to ask for help. Successful sales representatives have moderate temperaments.

Retail: Mom And Pop Are Back

After getting crushed by big-box stores during the 1980s and 1990s, mom-and-pop shops are enjoying something of a rebirth. Barnes Noble learns that it pays to be small. Most retailers are not expected to charge extra when customers use their credit cards. Foursquare courts small-business owners with a new mobile app, Intuit announces new technologies small businesses will use to pay their bills, and both Angie’s List and Verizon announce collaborations with mobile payment service Square. Meanwhile, the intrigue continues at Downton Arby’s.

Finance: Save on Expenses

Chase tops $20 billion in 2012 small-business loans, and Bank of America’s chief tells his employees to give customers better service. Carlo Pandian has suggestions for saving on common expenses. Juan M. Sánchez and Emircan Yurdagul explain why corporations are holding so much cash. Scott Wolfe Jr. explains what a mechanics lien is and how it can help construction businesses collect. Here are five principles to follow when buying a business. Acquisitions of private tech companies are up, and Karen Klein looks into what’s driving the spike.

Red Tape Update: Getting Squeezed

James Pethokoukis says not to expect tax reform anytime soon. If you’re filing your W-2s late, you may suffer penalties. Make sure to ask these questions before hiring your new tax preparer. The Internal Revenue Service is hiring new employees faster. Here are five reasons a small business should incorporate. These small businesses are being squeezed by local regulations. A new site helps small businesses track and comment on proposed regulations.

Health Care Update: Good Times

The White House reminds small businesses of the things you need to know about the Affordable Care Act, and the Small Business Administration releases a health care Web site. Paul Christiansen says that to outsmart “Obamacare” you must “go protean.” The Angry Bear sums up the future of your health insurance premiums. Some experts see good times ahead for small businesses under health care reform. The panel charged with helping devise solutions to the nation’s health care workforce crisis is having a workforce crisis of its own. Aaron Carroll believes that being a doctor is still a great gig.

Around The Country: Thank You!

A new competition from Grow America awards $35,000 to innovative small businesses. An entrepreneur introduces a campaign to thank small businesses. A well-known restaurant chain releases an entrepreneurial challenge. Colleges in Texas and Pennsylvania start entrepreneurial programs. Entrepreneurs in the state of Washington are looking to cash in on cannabis, and a small business in Portland, Ore., wants to reinvent the kiln. A company near Philadelphia gets into the slippery business of shipping eels, and a Startup Weekend is planned for Honolulu. A new analysis from Atlas Van Lines finds that for the seventh consecutive year, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of inbound moves and Wyoming had the highest percentage of people moving out. A scandal grows in higher education. North Dakota struggles to cope with its oil-boom prosperity. Noah Smith says it’s going to be a whole new world for solar energy. The wind industry has a record year.

Around The World: $217 in the Bank

Iceland teaches a few lessons on how to solve a banking crisis. France’s labor minister says the country is “totally bankrupt.” Zimbabwe has $217 left in the bank. South Korea leads the world in per capita plastic surgery. Charles and Camilla take a ride on the tube. Retail sales in Germany decline. Vladimir Putin hires Boyz II Men to promote Russian fertility. Canada’s G.D.P. increases. David Beckham pledges his salary to charity. These are the top 10 ways to tell if you’ve been hacked by the Chinese.

Technology: Seven Shows For Geeks

These three start-ups are eager for the release of the BlackBerry 10, and this is everything you need to know about the new BlackBerrys. Thorin Klosowski says that you don’t need to give up your smartphone; you just need to change how you use it. Amazon dominates the worldwide Android tablet market. Justin Kownacki explains why “The Avengers” is actually the ultimate explanation of geek culture, and a 29-year-old game developer lists his seven favorite TV shows for geeks and nerds. Microsoft signs a huge deal with the Department of Defense and releases a new cloud-based version of Office. Here are 11 tech women to watch in 2013. Here are five innovative tech solutions for common small-business problems. Here’s a guide to this year’s crop of 3D printers. And in what was just another week in the cloud, Twitter, Amazon and Facebook all suffered outages.

Tweet Of The Week:

@justinwolfers: Underneath the bad GDP report, we see solid growth in consumption and investment. Actually, it looks like private spending was humming along.

The Week’s Bests:

Lewis Edward explains why storytelling is so important in small-business sales: “The best professors that I ever had were ones which engaged the class into the discussion by incorporating real examples into their teaching. By storytelling, my instructors were not only helping me learn and retain the information but also making me enjoy doing so. When explaining how your business can help new clients, engaging them with a good story will prove much more advantageous than simply lecturing them on the benefits.”

Andrea Simon offers six ideas for turning innovation into an actuality, including: “Get out of your office, often, and go explore how people are using your products. PG requires their brand managers to get out of their offices and spend time with customers who are actually using their products. What does this do? Try spending a day in the life of your customer and see what you could learn about their pain points, challenges and opportunities where you could play a role in helping their business grow.”

This Week’s Question: Will immigration reform help your business?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/this-week-in-small-business-leave-the-building/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: Facebook Search

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Economy: Housing Starts Soar

The bull market may be on shaky ground. Machine tool orders fall 11 percent. Manufacturing slows in the New York region. But there is also good news: home prices, retail sales and factory output all rise, and housing starts (PDF) soar. Job seekers per opening fall to a four-year low, and jobless claims are at a five-year low. Consumer prices rose only 1.7 percent in 2012, and the producer price index is down. Builder confidence holds steady. House Republicans agree to lift the debt ceiling. Here is a rundown of all the approaching fiscal deadlines and their consequences. The threat of sequestration looms over the manufacturing sector. Ben S. Bernanke wants Congress to get rid of the debt ceiling.

Facebook: A Busy Week

In the same week that Justin Timberlake helped introduce a new and improved MySpace, Facebook took on Google with its new graph search, introduced a free calling service for the iPhone and disrupted the server business. Here are five things Facebook’s new search function means for business. Christopher Wallace believes that Facebook’s timeline makes promoting a business more effective. This is how two sisters used Facebook to get a puppy and @brettryland tweeted: “I waited four years for a Justin Timberlake song for this?”

Around the Country: Liberals Pay Extra

December’s home sales in Southern California were the highest in three years, which must mean California is back from the brink! Or is it? (And the state’s former governor takes some time out to answer questions on Reddit.) A Michigan-based company encourages entrepreneurs to let all of their business frustrations (and joys) out into the world through competitive storytelling. A Utah small business that sells smoothies charges liberals a dollar extra. The owner of a machine shop in Ohio reveals his biggest mistake. These are the worst cities for bedbugs. The national flu outbreak is affecting small businesses. Startup New York is helping small businesses after Sandy, and New York City is encouraging the growth of businesses owned by women. FedEx announces the winners of its small-business grant competition. A turnaround expert is looking for companies to fix for a new TV series.

Around the World: Japan Chooses Stimulus

The World Bank cuts its growth forecasts as developed nations lose steam. Euro zone factory output falls, but Italian machine tool orders rose 3.5 percent in 2012. Britain is expected to drop from the world’s top 10 economies by 2050. Germany’s economy shrinks. A third of Greek workers are uninsured for social security benefits. Paul Krugman admires Japan’s recent stimulus efforts. United Airlines is now offering Wi-Fi on some overseas flights. Some feel that the road for a start-up in Africa can be like a video game: each time a player slays a monster, a larger one appears. These are the smartest cities in the Asia-Pacific region, and these are the most polluted cities in each industrialized country. A worker outsources his job to China and makes a profit.

Health Care: Premiums Rising

As 2014 approaches, more small businesses are worrying about exceeding the 50-employee limit. Health insurance premiums have been rising, and consumers may experience another series of price shocks later this year (and 18 human heads are found at O’Hare Airport). The Department of Health and Human Services publishes new rules on Medicaid expansion and state exchanges. Support for Medicaid expansion is growing among governors of both parties. A Gallup poll finds that American workers who are engaged in their work and workplace are more likely to report a healthier lifestyle than their counterparts.

Management: A Party Boy Explains

Dan Smith wonders what you would do if someone tried to steal your success. A college party boy explains how he built the company behind the Golden Globes (but no one can explain Jodie Foster’s speech). These are the five biggest Internet entrepreneurs of 2012. More than 60,000 people have signed up for a Darden business school professor’s free online course on how to expand a company. Matt Wilson believes that a great way to get ahead is to become a “university entrepreneur.” And The Onion reports that most small businesses fail within the first six hours of being on fire.

Employees: Wal-Mart and Public Relations

Here is why some employers are paying employees to lose weight. Wal-Mart says that it will hire any military veteran honorably discharged within the past 12 months (but is it just public relations?). Bank of America cuts 14,600 employees. This may be the greatest penalty shot ever.

Finance: Looking for Sponsors

Mariah Courtney believes that factoring gives invoice financing a bad name. An online learning company raises $103 million. A new online service hopes to help entrepreneurs connect with the next generation of business leaders. Read this to remind yourself how long you should keep your business documents.

Mobile: Are You Prepared for SoLoMo?

Galaxy S device sales top 100 million. Tablets now surpass smartphones in paid search advertising spending, and last month 11.3 billion online video ads were watched. A Pitney Bowes survey finds that 27 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 say they activate quick response codes. Court Cunningham lists 10 trends to watch in local marketing and predicts that the number of small and midsize businesses with mobile sites will triple. A webinar this week will explain how to prepare your brand for today’s SoLoMo — social, local, mobile — environment.

Marketing: How to Manage Sales Executives

Rohit Bhargava receives the best birthday promotional e-mail ever. An Experian marketing survey finds that e-mail still generates traffic and revenue. Joshua Lockhart has 10 great tips for dealing with angry, trollish or rude e-mail. Andy Crestodina says you should avoid making Web site navigation mistakes, like having a nonstandard style: “Putting your navigation in standard places makes your site easier to use. That means a lower bounce rate, more pages per visit and higher conversions.” Josh Pigford explains how to write fun and engaging survey questions. Chris Keller suggests marketing methods for small businesses that have the best return on investment. Steve Reeves says the secret to managing sales executives is “not to bother.” An idea: combine the return of the National Hockey League with your own promotional items. G.B. Oliver believes that including your business card is never a bad idea.

Social Media: S.M.O.?

Allison Stadd has the essential social media acronym glossary, including terms like S.M.O. (social media optimization). Farhad Manjoo is passionate about why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. This is how the tennis star John Isner aces social media. Mark Schaefer asks whether everybody really needs a social media strategy. Monster.com and Score team up to provide a social media marketing workshop. According to the latest social media statistics, approximately 172,000 new members join LinkedIn per day. Community forums are among the seven viral marketing tools Abel Velazquez says you might not know about. What if businesses could rate customers the way customers rate businesses?

Retail: Google’s New Coupon

Retailers had an unexpectedly strong December, and many are remaking their store strategies. Google shows off a new digital coupon product to take some of the pain out of using coupons in a grocery store. PayPal expands its retail store payment service. A Twitter vice president tells retailers how to start on social media. Nathan Hanks suggests five ways to win when serving local businesses, including: “Live amongst your customers.”

Red Tape: Home Office Deduction

While a pretend president practiced for the inaugural, the real president took on the gun industry. These tax loopholes slipped under the fiscal cliff radar. The Internal Revenue Service announces an optional $1,500 home office deduction in lieu of depreciation. A fan sues the San Antonio Spurs for resting top players. The Small Business Administration announces changes in a contracting program for small businesses owned by women and introduces an online marketplace that streamlines the government contracting process for small businesses.

Technology: Rogue Clouds

Here’s a recap of what mattered to small businesses at the Consumer Electronics Show. PC sales slump, despite Microsoft’s Windows 8 release. Here are three more reasons businesses are sticking with Windows XP. “Phablets” are catching on. CNET becomes embroiled in a scandal. Mathew Ingram considers ditching his precious iPhone: “the main attraction is the openness of the ecosystem that Android takes advantage of.” This is what would happen if Jesus had an iPhone. Heather Clancy shares eight options for taming small-business expenses. A new app can send self-destructing files to users that are just perfect for undoing a bad decision. A new Symantec global survey reveals a surge in rogue clouds and other hidden costs.

Tweet of the Week

‏@EricKleefeld
BREAKING: House GOP now refusing to raise debt ceiling unless Jodie Foster explains her speech from last night.

The Week’s Bests

Jon Ferrara explains how to build presence for truly social selling: “Identify those individuals and companies whose needs mesh with your strengths. Formalize connections and continue to talk, listen and watch (and even keep an eye on your competition and gather a bit of intelligence!).”

Paul Morin says a sense of purpose is especially important during tough times: “Without a ‘why’ or sense of purpose, it’s likely that regardless of how precise and well-thought-out your goals may be, you will find it hard to persevere toward achieving them, especially when the inevitable tough times come along.”

This Week’s Question: Will Facebook’s new search capabilities help your business?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/this-week-in-small-business-facebook-search/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: YOLO!

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Deal: A Not-So-Grand Bargain

A “fiscal cliff” deal is reached and after all the drama this chart sums up the impact. One provision could head off a doubling of milk prices. Here’s what’s in it for small businesses. Jared Bernstein says the fiscal debate has killed the economic debate. Kevin Drum says we don’t have a spending problem, we have an aging problem. One blogger believes that the biggest beneficiaries of the resolution are puppies. Bruce Bartlett explains when the deficit will be fixed. John Boehner is re-elected House speaker. Hugh Hefner marries. These are the four business gangs that rule the country. Next up: the debt ceiling.

Happy New Year: Small-Business Predictions

This infographic shows what’s in store for small businesses in 2013. The editors at Springwise.com offer 10 business opportunities for the coming year. Here are 12 buzzwords you can expect to hear. Here are 20 quotations you can use to prosper. Here are 21 predictions from social media experts. Both Constant Contact and Marla Tabaka spot marketing trends they think will affect small businesses, including “the rise of MomPopolies.” Here are six e-mail marketing and four hyperlocal trends to watch. Oh, and here are eight major tech predictions and four predictions for your finances. A Pennsylvania psychic counselor predicts an avalanche that “will destroy many lives.” Amanda MacArthur suggests 12 worthwhile small-business resolutions. Here are the top five reasons your employees will quit. This video recaps 2012 in four minutes.

The Economy: Auto Sales Are Strong

Many economic bloggers ended 2012 feeling pessimistic. The Restaurant Performance Index contracted, and SurePayroll’s November small-business scorecard is down. Construction spending also fell, and small-business borrowing slowed. But manufacturing (pdf) picked up in December, and don’t forget that the drilling boom for shale oil is remaking America’s energy picture and has brought net oil imports to a 20-year low. Borrowing rates are as cheap as they have ever been in America, and domestic auto sales were very strong last month. The unemployment rate stays steady, online labor demand (pdf) increased, the private sector added 215,000 jobs, and the Philadelphia Fed’s leading indexes (pdf)  projected growth. A physics teacher imparts real life lessons.

Start-Up: A Well-Known Blogger Tries the Start-Up Life

These are 13 promising East Coast start-ups to watch in 2013. A start-up wants to be the Spotify for e-books. Bruno Aziza shares some advice from his start-up adventure: “Unless you are working on something truly different, or have a compelling story to tell, nobody will pay attention. … Unless you can truly add value, nobody cares.” This 15-year-old thinks he can reinvent how we consume news. A well-known blogger plans his own start-up. Jay Patani says interns are the unsung heroes of start-ups. Or maybe baby boomers are more essential?

Marketing: Content on the Cheap

Can you guess the most annoying and hated words and phrases of the year? (Yes, “whatever” made one list, and so did “YOLO” and “fiscal cliff.”) An influential marketing blog picks the most influential marketing books. Andy Sernovitz offers a few suggestions for rescuing unsubscribers. Michael Stelzner explains why stories attract customers. Mathew Donald has five brochure-designing tips, including: “Do not slack off during the proofreading process.” Marcus Sheridan has eight renegade methods to use content marketing to dominate your industry, including, “Reward your competitors”: “Stop pretending your competitors don’t exist. Your customers already know they exist, so find a way to deal with it, to your advantage.” Ryan Derousseau explains how to introduce a content strategy on the cheap.

Your People: Stupid Things Bosses Say

Cullen Roche examines what makes people successful. Jeff Schmitt says there are seven types of employees you should weed out, including the viruses: “You can’t expect them to be slavishly sunny and loyal to you. But you can expect them to be helpful, respectful and protective toward each other.” Jeff Haden says there are eight stupid things bosses say to employees, including: “Sure, I’ll be happy to talk to your brother about a job.” You won’t believe how many people applied to work at Comcast last year.

Management: The War on Fraud

A 16-year-old maker of motorcycles proves that passion trumps experience. In this economist’s guide to year-end charitable giving, Dean Karlan advises not to divide donations among many charities: “If there is one that is doing the most good for the cause you care the most about, then every dollar you give to the one doing the second best work is a dollar not given to the one doing the best work!” Here’s how to beat “the overwhelm” of entrepreneurship. Adrian Swinscoe says the relationships you have with existing customers are your keys to success. Volvo owners have the best credit scores. Daniel Hood files a dispatch from the war on fraud. Here are five ways to stay healthy at work.

Social Media: Twitter Tools

Here’s how to start your social media year off with a bang. Jeff Bullas lists six social media trends you should not ignore, including: “Facebook will continue to strengthen its grip as the dominating and the de facto social network of choice.” A webinar explains how to leverage social media effectively and efficiently. Did you know there are still a few cool things you can do with your blog post after you hit publish? These are the top 20 Web sites every blogger should know and the six top Twitter tools for business. And if your business is not a big user of social media, don’t worry: you’re in good company.

Around the Country: Honk if You Love Someone

Avis buys Zipcar. Polaroid is creating branded retail stores. Texas was the best place for small-business job growth in 2012. Jeff Jordan wonders if American malls are dying (Russian malls certainly are not). One man goes on a quest to make a city smile: “Honk if you love someone.” Entrepreneur magazine’s Growth Conference is this week in Dallas. Constant Contact and the City of Chicago Treasurer’s Office announce a small-business online marketing contest. Meet the “poshest” entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley (even though they will probably be wiped out by climate change in the next 40 years). This week, 150,000 people are expected to converge on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.

Around the World: What’s Up in Iceland?

Indian manufacturing hits a six-month high. Chinese manufacturing expands. Unemployment falls in Spain. And do you ever wonder what’s really going on in Iceland? This may be the best review of “Les Misérables” ever.

Technology: Michael Arrington Is Bored

Here are 10 objects that prove that 3-D printing will change the world, and Dylan Love lists the best 3-D printers. Michael Arrington is bored: “Yeah, yeah, mobile. I get it. … But really a lot of the mobile stuff out there is just radioactive decay from the iPhone launching in 2007. 2007! Old news! Ancient platforms!” Even so, enormous changes are on the horizon for the smartphone. These are the 15 best gadgets of 2012, and here are 13 technologies you won’t see in 2013. Steve Kovach says Windows phone users have one big problem. A bunch of well-known (and not so well-known) companies want us to go paperless in 2013. A mobile messaging app processed 18 billion messages on the last day of 2012.

Tweet of the Week

@AaronCBaker: I’m hoping they release some sweet beepers at CES this year

The Week’s Bests

Eric Barker says there are 10 things you should do every day to improve your life, including laugh: “People who use humor to cope with stress have better immune systems, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, experience less pain during dental work and live longer. Laughter should be like a daily vitamin.”

Scott Grannis says the fiscal cliff resolution goes a long way toward explaining why this has been the weakest recovery in history: “The burden of our debt binge is already upon us because we have borrowed trillions of dollars to support consumption, rather than new investment. What matters in the future is how productively we spend the proceeds of future bond sales, not how we pay off the bonds we’ve already sold. We can make progress on the margin if we can reduce federal spending relative to the size of the economy, since that in turn will reduce the amount of the economy’s resources we waste. Allowing the private sector to increasingly decide how to spend the fruits of its labors will likely improve the overall productivity and strength of the economy, because the private sector is most likely smarter about how it spends its own money. We’ve got to get the government out of the way if we are to move forward.”

This Week’s Question: Will the fiscal cliff deal help or hurt your business?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/this-week-in-small-business-yolo/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week In Small Business: YOLO!

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Deal: A Not-So-Grand Bargain

A “fiscal cliff” deal is reached and after all the drama this chart sums up the impact. One provision could head off a doubling of milk prices. Here’s what’s in it for small businesses. Jared Bernstein says the fiscal debate has killed the economic debate. Kevin Drum says we don’t have a spending problem, we have an aging problem. One blogger believes that the biggest beneficiaries of the resolution are puppies. Bruce Bartlett explains when the deficit will be fixed. John Boehner is re-elected House speaker. Hugh Hefner marries. These are the four business gangs that rule the country. Next up: the debt ceiling.

Happy New Year: Small-Business Predictions

This infographic shows what’s in store for small businesses in 2013. The editors at Springwise.com offer 10 business opportunities for the coming year. Here are 12 buzzwords you can expect to hear. Here are 20 quotations you can use to prosper. Here are 21 predictions from social media experts. Both Constant Contact and Marla Tabaka spot marketing trends they think will affect small businesses, including “the rise of MomPopolies.” Here are six e-mail marketing and four hyperlocal trends to watch. Oh, and here are eight major tech predictions and four predictions for your finances. A Pennsylvania psychic counselor predicts an avalanche that “will destroy many lives.” Amanda MacArthur suggests 12 worthwhile small-business resolutions. Here are the top five reasons your employees will quit. This video recaps 2012 in four minutes.

The Economy: Auto Sales Are Strong

Many economic bloggers ended 2012 feeling pessimistic. The Restaurant Performance Index contracted, and SurePayroll’s November small-business scorecard is down. Construction spending also fell, and small-business borrowing slowed. But manufacturing (pdf) picked up in December, and don’t forget that the drilling boom for shale oil is remaking America’s energy picture and has brought net oil imports to a 20-year low. Borrowing rates are as cheap as they have ever been in America, and domestic auto sales were very strong last month. The unemployment rate stays steady, online labor demand (pdf) increased, the private sector added 215,000 jobs, and the Philadelphia Fed’s leading indexes (pdf)  projected growth. A physics teacher imparts real life lessons.

Start-Up: A Well-Known Blogger Tries the Start-Up Life

These are 13 promising East Coast start-ups to watch in 2013. A start-up wants to be the Spotify for e-books. Bruno Aziza shares some advice from his start-up adventure: “Unless you are working on something truly different, or have a compelling story to tell, nobody will pay attention. … Unless you can truly add value, nobody cares.” This 15-year-old thinks he can reinvent how we consume news. A well-known blogger plans his own start-up. Jay Patani says interns are the unsung heroes of start-ups. Or maybe baby boomers are more essential?

Marketing: Content on the Cheap

Can you guess the most annoying and hated words and phrases of the year? (Yes, “whatever” made one list, and so did “YOLO” and “fiscal cliff.”) An influential marketing blog picks the most influential marketing books. Andy Sernovitz offers a few suggestions for rescuing unsubscribers. Michael Stelzner explains why stories attract customers. Mathew Donald has five brochure-designing tips, including: “Do not slack off during the proofreading process.” Marcus Sheridan has eight renegade methods to use content marketing to dominate your industry, including, “Reward your competitors”: “Stop pretending your competitors don’t exist. Your customers already know they exist, so find a way to deal with it, to your advantage.” Ryan Derousseau explains how to introduce a content strategy on the cheap.

Your People: Stupid Things Bosses Say

Cullen Roche examines what makes people successful. Jeff Schmitt says there are seven types of employees you should weed out, including the viruses: “You can’t expect them to be slavishly sunny and loyal to you. But you can expect them to be helpful, respectful and protective toward each other.” Jeff Haden says there are eight stupid things bosses say to employees, including: “Sure, I’ll be happy to talk to your brother about a job.” You won’t believe how many people applied to work at Comcast last year.

Management: The War on Fraud

A 16-year-old maker of motorcycles proves that passion trumps experience. In this economist’s guide to year-end charitable giving, Dean Karlan advises not to divide donations among many charities: “If there is one that is doing the most good for the cause you care the most about, then every dollar you give to the one doing the second best work is a dollar not given to the one doing the best work!” Here’s how to beat “the overwhelm” of entrepreneurship. Adrian Swinscoe says the relationships you have with existing customers are your keys to success. Volvo owners have the best credit scores. Daniel Hood files a dispatch from the war on fraud. Here are five ways to stay healthy at work.

Social Media: Twitter Tools

Here’s how to start your social media year off with a bang. Jeff Bullas lists six social media trends you should not ignore, including: “Facebook will continue to strengthen its grip as the dominating and the de facto social network of choice.” A webinar explains how to leverage social media effectively and efficiently. Did you know there are still a few cool things you can do with your blog post after you hit publish? These are the top 20 Web sites every blogger should know and the six top Twitter tools for business. And if your business is not a big user of social media, don’t worry: you’re in good company.

Around the Country: Honk if You Love Someone

Avis buys Zipcar. Polaroid is creating branded retail stores. Texas was the best place for small-business job growth in 2012. Jeff Jordan wonders if American malls are dying (Russian malls certainly are not). One man goes on a quest to make a city smile: “Honk if you love someone.” Entrepreneur magazine’s Growth Conference is this week in Dallas. Constant Contact and the City of Chicago Treasurer’s Office announce a small-business online marketing contest. Meet the “poshest” entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley (even though they will probably be wiped out by climate change in the next 40 years). This week, 150,000 people are expected to converge on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.

Around the World: What’s Up in Iceland?

Indian manufacturing hits a six-month high. Chinese manufacturing expands. Unemployment falls in Spain. And do you ever wonder what’s really going on in Iceland? This may be the best review of “Les Misérables” ever.

Technology: Michael Arrington Is Bored

Here are 10 objects that prove that 3-D printing will change the world, and Dylan Love lists the best 3-D printers. Michael Arrington is bored: “Yeah, yeah, mobile. I get it. … But really a lot of the mobile stuff out there is just radioactive decay from the iPhone launching in 2007. 2007! Old news! Ancient platforms!” Even so, enormous changes are on the horizon for the smartphone. These are the 15 best gadgets of 2012, and here are 13 technologies you won’t see in 2013. Steve Kovach says Windows phone users have one big problem. A bunch of well-known (and not so well-known) companies want us to go paperless in 2013. A mobile messaging app processed 18 billion messages on the last day of 2012.

Tweet of the Week

@AaronCBaker: I’m hoping they release some sweet beepers at CES this year

The Week’s Bests

Eric Barker says there are 10 things you should do every day to improve your life, including laugh: “People who use humor to cope with stress have better immune systems, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, experience less pain during dental work and live longer. Laughter should be like a daily vitamin.”

Scott Grannis says the fiscal cliff resolution goes a long way toward explaining why this has been the weakest recovery in history: “The burden of our debt binge is already upon us because we have borrowed trillions of dollars to support consumption, rather than new investment. What matters in the future is how productively we spend the proceeds of future bond sales, not how we pay off the bonds we’ve already sold. We can make progress on the margin if we can reduce federal spending relative to the size of the economy, since that in turn will reduce the amount of the economy’s resources we waste. Allowing the private sector to increasingly decide how to spend the fruits of its labors will likely improve the overall productivity and strength of the economy, because the private sector is most likely smarter about how it spends its own money. We’ve got to get the government out of the way if we are to move forward.”

This Week’s Question: Will the fiscal cliff deal help or hurt your business?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/this-week-in-small-business-yolo/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: Gangnam Style!

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Economy: Big Bird Wants Out

Small-business confidence remains at recessionary levels. Wholesale sales and inventories (pdf) are soft. The International Monetary Fund lowers its global growth forecast. Both imports and exports were weak in August. However, machine-tool orders rebounded, and the Federal Reserve reports that the economy “expanded modestly” in September. A team of investment professionals believes that a fiscal cliff solution will be reached. David Rothkopf wonders if world leaders understand the third industrial revolution that’s taking place. Neil Irwin explains what’s really going on. Shale gas could lower manufacturing costs. Meanwhile, there was a vice-presidential debate, and Big Bird just wants out.

The Data: To Trust or Not?

For each job available, there are three and a half people looking for work, and Lance Roberts wonders if the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent or 22 percent. Bill McBride demystifies how the rate is computed: “Most of the decline in the overall participation rate has been due to changing demographics.” Mark Thoma believes we can trust the data. Meanwhile, no one knows why a single mysterious computer program that placed orders (and then subsequently canceled them) made up 4 percent of all stock market quote traffic last week.

Your People: Tracking Employee Hours?

Brad Farris answers the big question: what to pay employees. Here are five tips for paying part-timers. The Evil HR Lady explains why tracking employee hours is dumb. Kevin Kruse says the Taj Hotels have five ways to recognize employees. Here are a few ways to nurture creativity. Sajjad Masud believes there are five characteristics to look for when hiring talent. A study concludes that there is no evidence that increasing the employment of older people reduces job opportunities or wage rates for younger people. Are your unpaid interns suffering? Here are five things entrepreneurs can learn from art students. And wait, is this really a university for monsters?

Starting Up: The Making of K-Pop

A new platform provides tools for young people to set up a business. YouTube adds 50 new channels, including hip-hop choices from Russell Simmons and Jay-Z. John Seabrook looks at cultural technology and explains the making of K-Pop and the “Gangnam Style” craze. A start-up offers failed entrepreneurs a million-dollar signing bonus. Hermione Way wonders whether you can have a start-up and still be sexy. Stella Fayman explains why fake it until you become it should be every entrepreneur’s mantra. Here’s the secret to getting paid to do what you love. Rieva Lesonsky shares tips on starting a business without losing your shirt.

Marketing: It’s All About Image

These are six things your customers won’t tell you — unless you ask. Some franchises are incorporating the election into their marketing. Pamela Wilson explains the business of images. A new technology can recognize and grab information from products that appear in online images and video so they can be offered for sale. Stephanie Miles shares five ways small businesses can expand their e-mail marketing lists. Stephen Shoff says that a good e-mail marketing tool can make it easier to follow best practices. And Sonia Thomas shares her e-mail marketing tips. This infographic describes the needs of online shoppers. James Gardner takes a look at the conversion rates of eight small-business landing pages.

Social Media: Ask a Teenager

Online reputation management is important to non-Internet businesses, too. Here are four easy ways to monitor what’s being said about you online. Matt Owen gives tips for optimizing LinkedIn’s new company pages.  A team of search engine optimization consultants makes predictions for 2013. There are three types of social businesses. Terri Cettina explains how teenagers can help with social media marketing: “If you’re using social media for your business, you’ll look more knowledgeable if you know the latest abbreviations and language. Have a teenager point out important online phrases and conventions.” A social media expert says your business will suffer if you ignore the iPhone.

Management: The Scent of a Business

Lisa Evans says lavender is one of six scents that can transform your mood and productivity. Christopher Walken reads Honey Boo Boo. A life-changing experience led this chef to look for efficiencies. Jon Stow has a story on how not to run a business. A new season of Project Grow starts off with how to make a million this year. Gil Garcia shares his experiences at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School.

Around the Country: Gas Prices

Florida and California dominate the list of the 10 weakest markets. Brad Plumer explains why California’s gas prices are going haywire. Here’s how to prepare for Small Business Saturday. In Pennsylvania, the Internal Revenue Service and state troopers raid 197 video poker locations. The 2012 wife-carrying champion is announced. A new General Motors tech center in Michigan will employ 1,500. A restaurant group in Massachusetts says that a pending bill will put a chokehold on small businesses. EBay unveils same-day delivery. Here are 10 American industries with surprisingly poor prospects.

Around the World: The Price of Eggs in Mexico

A new report from the World Bank looks at whether entrepreneurship can be taught in poor countries. Valeria Maltoni says happiness is the world’s best brand. Mexicans are coping with egg shortages and price spikes. Growth in Britain is the fastest in five years but industrial output falls. Prank signs show up on London’s Underground. A group argues that Britons should work a four-day week: “We would all be happier and healthier if we spent more time outdoors, taking up ‘gardening leave.’” Iraq could become the world’s second biggest oil exporter. This is how a Chilean start-up initiative is changing Latin America. A Paris-based music streaming company raises $130 million.

Cash Flow: Is Google a Better Bank?

Google introduces a credit card for small businesses, and Martha White wonders if companies like Google and Wal-Mart can provide a better banking experience than actual banks. Most venture capital money flowed into the same funds last quarter. Kevin Kaiser offers some tips on managing your new office space. A woman gets a $15 quadrillion phone bill.

Red Tape: The Chaos of Online Sales Tax

Lou Carlozo explains what the end of tax-free online shopping would mean for small businesses. Jim Tierney says online sales taxes would create e-commerce chaos, but a business owner believes that they would restore competitive balance. Your tax filing extensions have run out! New York State has the worst tax climate (pdf) in the country. The Small Business Administration’s loan dollars in the 2012 fiscal year reached their second highest total ever. The Obama administration gives $20 million to 10 public-private partnerships to support American manufacturing and encourage investment. Olive Garden’s owner puts President Obama’s health care law to the test. A District of Columbia board approves forcing small businesses into its health exchange. NASA is gung-ho about small business. Al Gore cashes in on green tech.

Technology: The iPhone Is a Miracle

PC shipments are set to decline for the first time in 11 years, and one analyst thinks Hewlett-Packard’s stock is worth negative $2 a share. Groupon introduces a point of sale system for restaurants, and the retailer Urban Outfitters says it will never buy a cash register again. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others join forces to start a new resource for Web standards. A new report finds that two-thirds of small-business mobile-device users believe their companies would lose competitive ground without them. Apple is expecting to ship 10 million iPad minis. Farhad Manjoo of Slate thinks the iPhone 5 “is a miracle.” Allen Gannett explains what big data can mean for small businesses. Verizon introduces a new tool to accelerate productivity for small and medium businesses. Microsoft will introduce Office 2013 for both iOS and Android. A cloud-based operating system is in the works. Natural gas trucks are gaining momentum. Here’s how to set up free text-message alerts when your Web site goes down. Polycom is trying to build a better conference call. Autos become the center of innovation. A life-altering way to make a grilled cheese sandwich is invented.

Tweets of The Week

‏@ConnectedStrat Busy people get things done. Busy people don’t use being busy as an excuse for delays, non-responses dropped balls.

@LeadToday
When you tell people it’s your way or the highway the highway starts looking pretty darn good.

@MeghanMBiro
Hire someone who understands what culture you’re trying to build

Bests of the Week

Eric Pangburn explains why you aren’t born great – and why that’s O.K. “When you understand that failure is your own fault, it’s easy to get depressed about it – but that’s not the real lesson here. … Rejection can be a great tool for self-improvement. Think of rejection as a form of free education. Whenever something you wrote gets rejected by a client or by a blog owner, ask why. Sometimes they’ll provide their reasons; sometimes you’ll be left to figure it out by yourself.”

Alice Walker says to go to the places that scare you. “If you want to have a life that is worth living, a life that expresses your deepest feelings and emotions, and cares and dreams, you have to fight for it. You have to go wherever you need to go, and you have to be wherever you need to be, and place yourself there against the forces that would distort you and destroy you.”

This Week’s Question: How would an online sales tax affect you?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/this-week-in-small-business-gangnam-style/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: About That Replacement Ref

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

Economy: What Fiscal Cliff?

A new survey finds chief financial officers less optimistic about economic growth. Brad Plumer explains why fears of a fiscal cliff are not hurting the economy, and Jared Bernstein reveals important new research on a fiscal cliff issue. Defense contractors brace for federal budget cuts. Economic advisers to President Obama and Mitt Romney squabble. Zachary A. Goldfarb says that under Ben Bernanke the Federal Reserve has become more open and forceful. The chief of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank anticipates that the economy will “gain momentum over the next few years.” A new book tries to help entrepreneurs reignite the economy. A bacon shortage threatens the world.

The Data: A Seven-Month High

Manufacturing growth improves in Texas and the central Atlantic region. Home prices notch their biggest gains in seven years. Consumer confidence rises to a seven-month high, and consumers step up their spending. But new home sales fall slightly and orders for durable goods plunge. And revised gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012.

Finance: Could It Get Any Worse for B. of A.?

A new Visa study says cash flow concerns top the list of small-business worries. One of the biggest lenders to small businesses will soon be on the auction block. Even when consumers are comfortable using new payment technologies, studies show they sometimes prefer paying cash. Here’s why used car prices are rising. The replacement ref who made that controversial call last Monday is a vice president for small business at Bank of America. Did Iran attack our banks (and lose its sense of humor)?

Start-Ups: A Start-Up That Helps Start-Ups

Tim Ferriss explains Y Combinator’s contribution to the start-up scene. This is a start-up that helps start-ups. A solar panel start-up will tap a $197 million loan guarantee. Amazon may be getting into the wine business — and it’s also lending money to small businesses. A San Francisco start-up offers scooter rentals. The Wall Street Journal names the top 50 start-ups.

Selling: Replace Your Reps

Jill Konrath suggests cold-calling strategies. Matthew Bellows explains how small companies can stand out when selling to big companies: “Showing your prospects the characteristics that set your company apart is key to moving the conversation beyond a checklist comparison.” To sell well, John Jantsch says, you must tell stories. Laura Spencer has some advice for dealing with tire-kickers and other bad clients. Lars Lofgren explains why you should replace your sales representatives with ambassadors.

Marketing: Are You a Jerk?

These are the top cities in America for social-media-savvy small businesses. Jessica Levko says there are 10 signs that you’re a social media jerk, including: “You’re attached to your smartphone.” A show with Martin Sheen explains how small businesses can use social media to find new customers. These are the most important local business directories for search engine optimization. A new Facebook service facilitates the creation of “couponlike” promotions. Erica Ayotte explains how to use Instagram to promote your business. These are five types of images that will enhance your online marketing. A few entrepreneurs share their promotional swag secrets. Annette Du Bois thinks your marketing may be a turnoff. Here’s a case study on how a clothing company lifted its sales 205 percent with daily deal e-mails. This is what a Las Vegas casino can teach you about marketing. These are the five most effective business-to-business word-of-mouth marketing techniques.

Around the Country: Hipster Neighborhoods

Friday is Manufacturing Day, and the United States unveils a “Make It in America” contest. HLN introduces a new weekday series about “Making It In America.” Nissan invites “Edisons in training” to win a $50,000 grant (as well as a brand new 2013 Altima). FedEx introduces a small-business grant competition. Brooklyn booms as record rents drive construction. These are America’s hippest hipster neighborhoods. New York’s first chief digital officer discusses how she achieved 80 percent of the goals laid out in her “digital road map.” A supply chain management firm wins an award for small business from the Air Traffic Control Association. A cash mob hits a small business in San Antonio. A small-business owner in Dallas gives 240 customers a month the opportunity to “act like psychopaths.”

Your People: Happier and Healthier

Norm Brodsky says it’s cost of goods sold that determines whether you can afford another employee: “Once you know your gross margin, it’s easy to figure out the new sales you’ll need in order to break even on the addition of another employee to the payroll. You simply add up all the new costs associated with that new person — salary, benefits, extra phone usage, travel and entertainment, whatever — and divide by your gross margin.” A lawyer suggests that if you’re going to fire employees, you should let them know. Barclays’ chief executive plans to pay his employees based in part on whether they are good citizens. Executives at Research in Motion thank their developers with this awful video. New research concludes that the argument that a chief executive will leave if he or she isn’t well compensated is bogus. Freelancers are happier and healthier than full-time employees. Here are 13 office trends that will disappear in the next five years. These communication tips will make your business buzz with productivity. A Wisconsin news station uses a replacement weather guy.

Red Tape: On Taxes and Cheating

A workplace pregnancy bill is introduced in the Senate. Clint Stretch discusses taxes and cheating: “The I.R.S. estimates that in 2006 alone, the Treasury missed out on $385 billion in revenue due under the current tax law from a combination of underreporting of income, overstatement of deductions or other benefits, or nonpayment of taxes owed. To put that in perspective, increased revenue of $385 billion annually likely would be enough to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and to permanently patch the alternative minimum tax.” The Small Business Administration wants to help entrepreneurs over the age of 50. Thomas P. Hanrahan suggests 10 safeguards against consumer lawsuits, including: “The more variety there is in how you promote, the harder it is for a class-action plaintiff to prove that every consumer was taken in by the same misleading message.” Deborah Sweeney offers her small-business checklist for September.

Management: The Return of Myspace

This article discusses the benefits of being done versus being perfect. Mr. Sexy tries to bring back Myspace. The Queen of the Fuzzy Slippers warns us that problem solving is a productivity issue. Nadia Goodman shares three easy exercises to increase your creativity. Here are five incredibly useful tips from TED Talks. Cassie Mogilner says you will feel less rushed if you give time away. Here’s how to find the peak time to do everything. Going for a coffee is among the top 20 time-wasting activities. “The Daily Show” weighs in on the replacement refs.

Technology: Verizon’s iPhone Secret

Google introduces a new service for entrepreneurs and reports that its Play Store hit 25 billion app downloads (thankfully, it’s not run by the National Football League). Here’s how smartphones are changing health care. A puppet shares 10 useful mobile apps for businesses. A woman gives a dubious explanation for why she is waiting in a line to buy an iPhone. Jim Ditmore suggests six things he’d like to see in a future smartphone. Verizon’s iPhone 5 has a secret feature. Here are the 12 best practices for mobile device management for your company. Consumers will soon be able to get their hands on a much-talked-about light field camera. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In the near future, developers say car apps will be big and Facebook may be the social network of the past. An 11-year-old girl wins $20,000 from ATT for a road safety app. Toyota reveals a new robot to help around the house.

Tweets of the Week

@smallbiztrends: I am getting my car serviced and guy says “you’ve only driven 5K miles in 10 months.” I reply “I run a Web business!”

@gitomer: They don’t want your brochure. They want answers to their situations and concerns.

The Week’s Bests

Jeet Banerjee says that when finding a business idea there’s nothing wrong with imitating: “Some of the greatest business ideas have been imitations of others in different ways. If a certain solution has a large market share and not enough competition, you can definitely create a successful business. … If you find a business with a solid business model, feel free to implement their model into other industries. Many ideas are so strong that they have the ability to work in different niches with just a bit of fine tuning.”

Brett Martin explains how to avoid being cheated by a contractor: “Know who’s on the job site. You might sign a contract and make payments with a person who isn’t doing all of the work. Ask upfront if your crew will subcontract parts of the job to somebody else. If so, do the same research into that person’s business as you did for the general contractor. It’s awkward to have a perfect stranger show up on your doorstep ready to swing a hammer, but beyond that, the balance between contractors and subs can lead to some of the biggest headaches on a big project — delays, incorrect installations, damage to finished work and all sides blaming the others for errors while no one takes accountability.”

This Week’s Question: What would you do to revive Myspace?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/this-week-in-small-business-about-that-replacement-ref/?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: Best Facebook Pages

Dashboard

A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.

The Big Story: The Democrats

Four big ideas from entrepreneurs were presented at last week’s Democratic National Convention, and the president said America’s problems could be solved. Introducing Run DNC! The Small Business Administration’s Karen Mills spoke to the delegates. Meanwhile, both the national unemployment rate and weekly unemployment claims decline slightly as private employment and online job demand rise. Stocks return to their 2007 levels. Geoffrey James says there are eight ways Washington could really help small businesses. And Charlotte and Tampa were nice but doesn’t this convention look like more fun?

The Economy: Twilight of Public Companies?

Auto sales surge and productivity grows faster than previously believed. Economic activity in the nonmanufacturing sector increases for the 32nd consecutive month. But manufacturing contracts and construction spending (PDF) fall. Small-business lending rises. An economics professor reports on the twilight of the public corporation. Kim Kardashian weighs in on the economy.

Social Media: Best Small-Business Facebook Pages

A new study shows that social media is surging at large companies. Jason Keith says there are five misconceptions about social media — including that it’s just for pleasure. Jeff Korhan asks whether your social network is an online community or a club? Twitter announces plans to certify third-party apps for businesses. Jeff Bullas says there are two ways to advertise on Twitter without spending a lot of money. Lisa Peyton offers nine Twitter lessons she learned from tennis pros. The Social Media Examiner names its top 10 small-business Facebook pages. LinkedIn adds Facebook-style alerts. Pinterest becomes the fourth largest traffic driver in the world. Don Power has four tips for managing multi-author blogs. And while you may be focusing on social media, be aware that online reviews can have more impact — and here are six ways to turn a critic into a fan. These were YouTube’s most shared ads in August.

Your People: A Virtual Company’s Culture

Sandra Bellamy wants to know if you are a manager, leader, teacher or coach: “Businesses are expecting more from their managers and more from their employees. They rely on the manager to get the employees to do more work, to work harder and to work smarter. How can they do that if they are merely managing the team?” Nadia Goodman offers five tips and tools to create a company culture in a virtual business, including: “Welcome new employees with a virtual orientation.” Robert Wagner lists a few facts about employer background checks and credit reports. J. Daniel Marr says that in discrimination claims, employees must prove intent. Here’s some advice for recruiting in a tight labor market. Bane takes a telemarketing job. Michael Essany says there are four easy steps for handling payroll. Keith Elwin is the world’s pinball wizard again. This guy demonstrates how to win at table tennis. A cool video captures  5050 years in 150 seconds.

Management: Sexy Little Numbers

Om Malik says timing is everything when starting a business. You decide: did Chipotle cheat on pennies, or was the company just saving time? David Novak of Yum! Brands discusses global brands and growth. Leslie Young reminds us that McDonald’s was once a fairly small operation: “That means that small businesses can offer their customers consistency too. All you need to do is figure out the process that helps you to ensure that you give everyone consistently good results.” Jason Tezgerevski suggests five benefits of writing press releases, but Mickie Kennedy asks how often you should do this. Henry Hutcheson warns that shareholder arrangements in family businesses can be tricky. A new book says small-business owners can learn from their “sexy little numbers.” These are the management secrets of the N.F.L. (is managing health insurance one of them?).

Marketing: What Is the Goal?

Joan Woodbrey Crocker shows how to find out which keywords your competition is targeting. Here are a few dos and don’ts for writing search-engine text ads. Brad Smith says you can increase your sales without increasing your traffic. Matthew Toren says your inbound marketing must “reach out to your readers to solve their problems.” For maximum productivity, search — don’t sort — your e-mail. A marketing firm says the goal of marketing is not to be good at marketing. Reputation management services are still trying to make the connection to small businesses. Shane Vaughan asks which type of local Web site is best for your brand? This is how trade shows can improve business. Martin Zwilling says these marketing rules command customer attention. Five small businesses receive marketing makeovers from American Express OPEN and Facebook.

Around the Country: Office Pranks

In the United States, 22 million businesses are one-person companies making an average of $43,000 a year. In Florida’s employment recovery, minimum-wage jobs lead the way and health care coverage may soon be only a few clicks away. Meanwhile, a crackdown on small-business self insurance in California faces a delay. A biker takes on San Francisco. In Alaska, small businesses have big market share. In Washington, the White House brewery kicks into action, and a Sears in the Midwest gets a jump on Christmas. A web seminar says retailing is going mobile. The pranksters at College Humor are running an office pranks contest. Karen Klein reports on what limits Hispanic entrepreneurs.

Around the World: Maple Syrup Theft

The United States falls in worldwide competitiveness. Spain is set to surrender its rank as 12th-biggest economy to Australia. A glut of product announcements from the portal and search giant Baidu shows China isn’t just copying western ideas. The Economist provides a global debt clock. German exports (PDF) continue to fall. This is how they watch movies in India. Timothy Taylor writes about supply, demand and the theft of 10 million pounds of maple syrup from a Canadian storage facility. New research from the University of Bristol suggests that American parents are not the only ones overspending on college tuition.

Your Finances: Putting Cash to Work

Here’s how not to pay too much in credit card processing fees. Andrew J. Sherman has a novel idea for putting cash to work: What if our largest companies used their idle cash as collateral to secure loans for small businesses? Loan processing in the cloud is called a “game changer.” A Wall Street summer intern shares his diary.

Technology: Steve Jobs, Reincarnated

Voice mail is in decline. Super WiFi is on track to be more widely available in 2013. A start-up prepares to manufacture electronics that conform to skin, arteries, and organs, allowing new surgical and measuring methods. Skype celebrates its ninth birthday. Sage’s ACT! software is 25. With 65 percent of the market, Apple has three rumored iPhone upgrades that could be particularly meaningful to entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs is rumored to have been reincarnated as a warrior-philosopher. Amazon announces a new Kindle Fire.

Tweets of the Week

@darrenrovell: Krispy Kreme says that any1 who comes into a participating store on Sept 19 dressed in a full pirate outfit gets 12 free donuts.

 ‏@pkedrosky: Approx 0% of people who use cliche “Not out of the woods yet” have ever had to even think about getting out of real wilderness.

The Week’s Bests

Dr. Jeff Cornwall questions your intestinal fortitude: “Having guts to be an entrepreneur does not imply that you take careless risks – quite the contrary. Having guts to be an entrepreneur means that you are ready through experience to carefully and prudently manage and mitigate the risks that lie ahead.”

Roger Altman explains why he thinks the economy may surprise us all: “The U.S. has made a huge leap in industrial competitiveness. Unit production costs are down 11 per cent over the past 10 years, while costs have risen in almost every other advanced nation. The differences in labor costs compared with China are narrowing. Consider the automotive sector. In 2005, Detroit’s hourly labor costs were 40-percent higher than at U.S. plants owned by foreign car makers, according to research by Evercore Partners. Today these costs are virtually identical and the Big Three car makers have regained market share. Furthermore, personal savings rates are up to 4 per cent – from near zero before the crisis – and are expected to stabilize. This will spur higher levels of private investment and even further productivity gains.”

This Week’s Question: Do you think we’re out of the woods yet?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/this-week-in-small-business-best-facebook-pages/?partner=rss&emc=rss