January 21, 2021

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


A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

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


Jim Tankersley wonders if the era of uncertainty is over and whether a growth boom will begin. Drex Davis asserts that the Marketplace Fairness Act will bankrupt small businesses. And here is everything you need to know about cronuts.

The Economy: Bigger and More Profitable

Construction spending (pdf) increased in April, the service sector picked up slightly and the trade deficit is $6.3 billion (pdf) smaller than a year ago. Auto sales roared back in May, and Ford truck sales hit their highest levels since 2007. The financial sector is bigger and more profitable than ever. But factory orders rose less than expected, manufacturing declined and Vahan Janjigian believes that manufacturing is on life support. A research paper asks if the information technology revolution is over. A  poll finds that more than half of America thinks we’re still in a recession and only 36 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with the economy.

Jobs: Solid

The jobs report was “solid” but unemployment ticked up and wages are not rising. Private employers added 135,000 jobs in May, and small businesses picked up the hiring pace. Gallup says job creation is the best it has been in five years.

Ideas: Drone Deliveries

Here are 2013’s 100 most creative business people. Amazon starts delivering groceries, and Matt Yglesias explains why. Burger King gets into the delivery game and, not to be outdone, Domino’s uses a drone to deliver pizza. The Dollar Shave Club introduces a very special product for the guy who has everything — and a jilted girlfriend leaves a brilliant note for her guy.

People: Taco Bell Responds

Smoking employees cost employers $6,000 a year, a study finds. A Taco Bell employee appears to lick a bunch of shells, and here’s how the restaurant chain responded. John Patrick Pullen says transparency is essential to a trusting staff. A Cornell professor discusses whether tipping should be banned. These internship stories paint a tough picture for young professionals. Here are Jim’s greatest office pranks. One in 10 young job hunters is rejected because of social media. A peer-to-peer bonus system is made easy for employers. A job site is recruiting only beautiful candidates. A mind-body therapist explains her methods for reducing stress for Google’s employees. Apple employees based in Cupertino, Calif., earned $2 billion in 2012 and the company is poised for another hiring spree.

Cash Flow: Excess Cash

An online resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses releases a guide to help owners get an overview of the different types of Small Business Administration loans. Ked Harley suggests four steps to take before applying for a small-business loan, and Pam Baker summarizes all of the ways you can be paid. Michael Shedlock says the Federal Reserve’s policies and President Obama’s programs are exacerbating the credit squeeze for small businesses. Ian Kerrigan wants owners to think about diversifying their investments, and here are a few places to consider investing excess cash.

Red Tape: Insurance Premiums

The president wants to prosecute patent trolls. The Internal Revenue Service continues to take heat. Here are six ways that the new health care law changes insurance premiums, and a dental start-up sees profit in the law’s gaps.

Women: A New Index

The United States tops Dell’s new index on female entrepreneurship, but unfortunately the opportunities are not as good in India. This is what you should know about women in agriculture. Richard White suggests 10 tips for female entrepreneurs to stay on track.

Management: Three Companies in Five Weeks

A book offers help for easing any manager’s people problems. Jay H. Heyman explains how much a $10 bottle of wine really costs. A Cigna study finds America’s sole proprietors are independent and confident — and often uninsured. And if a tornado destroys your business, here’s what to do. Salvatore Babones says that when it comes to business profits, “it’s the ‘plutonomy’ versus the ‘realonomy’ — and the plutonomy is winning.” R. Kay Green shares six lessons in entrepreneurship. Kevin Owyang thinks you might be a social entrepreneur without knowing it. One entrepreneur sells three companies in five weeks.

Marketing: Getting Leads

John Jantsch suggests giving stuff away to generate referrals. Harry and Sally Vaishnav explain why better packaging improves sales. Ciara Pressler evaluates whether you should hire a publicist or do it yourself. Sara Davidson explores where marketers get leads.

Around the Country: Best Cities

Rieva Lesonsky explains why you should get ready for National Small Business Week. Constant Contact will celebrate the week with Get Down to Business events across the country. A report says that Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle are the cities most friendly to employees of small companies. Two Philadelphia women are selling fashion from a truck. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explain why doubling a city’s population increases its economic productivity by 130 percent. Other countries are seeking entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley. A New York factory of the future fabricates customer-ordered designs with top-of-the-line, industrial 3-D printing machines.

Around the World: Learning From Dabbawalas

A Spanish city is using a network of sensors to improve services and save money. David Rohde explains how privately financed economic initiatives are quietly spreading peace in the Middle East. A recalculation of gross domestic product may help app designers in Nigeria. The International Monetary Fund halves Germany’s growth forecast, and Australia’s economy expanded at the slowest annual pace in almost two years. Unemployment in France rose to 10.8 percent. Brandon Smith reports that Canada could be an entrepreneur’s utopia, and this is what start-ups in India can learn from dabbawalas. A teenage “wakeboarder” takes on a flood.

Start-Up: Big Data

Bill Gates is helping lead a $35 million investment in a networking Web site for scientists. Intel creates a $100 million fund for more “human-like” devices, and Bloomberg L.P. introduces a fund to invest in start-ups. A new company aims to beat Verizon and ATT with free mobile phone service. A 17-year-old entrepreneur learns about starting a business from Jack Dorsey. Here is how to avoid bad advice that can kill a start-up. Dealstruck takes on banks with a “Lending Club for small businesses.” Here are 14 big data start-ups you’re going to hear more about, and Tim Devaney and Tom Stein explain what big data can do for a small business.

Social Media: A LinkedIn Strategy

Here is how to avoid a virus on Facebook that can drain your bank account. Jill Konrath suggests a LinkedIn strategy that can pay off, and this is how Motorola Solutions uses Facebook to generate more engagement. SocialBro raises $1.8 million to help businesses manage, analyze and monetize their Twitter communities, and here are six factors that make a picture popular on Pinterest. The grumpy cat gets a movie deal.

Online: The Best Unsubscribe Message

Andy Crestodina compares your blog to a beer: “an enticing head is just the beginning.” Hubspot creates the best unsubscribe message ever. A case study shows how two artists used online content to build their face-to-face business. Joy Gendusa shares four aspects of pay-per-click marketing that can help you solve the puzzle. Jayson DeMers explains how to build an online community around your business. Daniel Oyston has advice for improving content marketing, and here’s how to not break the law when using testimonials, endorsements and online reviews.

Mobile: A Competitive Edge

Google is closing the mobile app gap, and its Chrome browser starts to take off even as Android dips among mobile operating systems. The Onion reports that a new, improved Google Maps lets users launch missiles at any location on the globe. Foursquare is testing small-business promotions. This is how mobile marketing is changing the way companies appeal to customers. Francesca Louise Fenzi explains why Starbucks’ mobile payment success is good news. Here are seven oddball mobile apps.

Technology: Windows 8

The number of Amazon Web Services servers has exploded. Om Malik shares his thoughts on Salesforce’s decision to buy Exact Target for $2.5 billion. Windows 8 is failing to beat Windows 7 (and XP and even Vista). Insightly integrates its customer relationship management software with Microsoft Office 365 and Outlook 2013. Here are 10 excellent video-editing apps, and this is how to protect your small business from cybercriminals. A teenage inventor tests a homemade submarine. Here are nine great hotels for technology users.

Tweet of the Week:

@saundiela – If a company just can’t seem to make it, you need to look at the top! A good manager is a good checker a good owner checks his managers.

The Week’s Best Quotes:

André Mouton warns that the first quarter was business as usual for cloud companies — and that’s a bad thing : “Cloud companies are growing, and they’re losing money. If that’s all you know about them, it’s enough. Those two facts define the industry more than any hyperbole coming out of Silicon Valley. Much as their predecessors did 15 years ago, today’s tech companies are selling an exciting new technology; and like the dot-coms, they’ve embraced a business model that will self-destruct at the first sign of trouble.”

Derek Thompson explains why work-life balance is so bad: “Although the workweek has fallen, the changing composition of families has put tremendous time stresses on more mothers. Over all, research shows that lower-income men have never had more downtime, while working single mothers have never been more common. The first part is a problem. The second is a crisis.”

This Week’s Question: Where do you get your leads?

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/2013/06/10/this-week-in-small-business-cronuts/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Car Factories Offer Hope for Spanish Industry and Workers

Four years of economic turmoil and the euro zone’s highest jobless rate have made the Spanish labor market so inviting — an estimated 40 percent less expensive than in Europe’s other biggest carmaking countries, Germany and France — that Ford Motor and Renault recently announced plans to expand their production in Spain.

Even before those announcements, other carmakers had committed this year to new plants or expansion totaling as much as €2 billion, or $2.66 billion.

Some experts say such gains in competitiveness and investment are exactly what Spain needs for its economy to recover, and to remove any doubts about whether the country can remain in the euro currency union.

Because Spain, as a euro zone member, no longer has its own currency to devalue as a way of lowering the price of its exports, it is having to find its competitive advantage in lower labor costs. Many economists have argued that societies cannot survive such painful downward adjustments.

But Spain, for now at least, seems to be defying that argument. Its trade deficit has been shrinking — down 28 percent for the first 10 months of this year, to €28 billion, compared with that period a year earlier, according to newly released government data. That is the lowest level since 1972.

Although part of that trade improvement reflects lower imports, it is also a sign of better competitiveness, as employers have been able to impose wage cuts without unleashing violent social unrest. (Protests, yes. Riots, no.)

Automobile executives recognize that the financial crisis provided a wake-up call for a sector whose productivity fell from 2000 to 2007, a period when the Spanish economy was instead driven by a real estate boom.

“From 2008, we suddenly realized that we had lost a lot of competitiveness and needed to work very hard to improve things, particularly in terms of labor issues and logistics,” said José Manuel Machado, who heads Ford’s business in Spain and is also president of the Spanish carmakers’ association, Anfac.

Anfac forecast this month that Spain’s car production would rise 11 percent next year, to 2.2 million vehicles.

Over all, Spain’s unit labor costs — a measure of productivity — are down 4 percent since 2008, according to Eurostat, the European statistics agency.

And in a related measurement, the most recent Eurostat data put Spain’s average hourly labor cost at €20.60, which was well below Germany’s €30.10 and France’s €34.20.

Unlike most other Spanish industries, car manufacturing has no sector-wide collective bargaining agreement with unions. As a result, each carmaker has been able to adjust working hours with its own employees, in response to changing demand.

In return, the companies have promised workers that they will not be subjected to the huge layoffs that have been made in other parts of the economy, which have helped to lift Spain’s jobless rate to a record 25 percent. Since the start of the crisis in 2008, car factories have cut their work force by about 9 percent, compared with 21 percent for Spanish industry as a whole.

“We have lost some jobs, but it has been a proud resistance compared to the massacre in some other sectors,” said Manuel García Salgado, who is in charge of the automotive sector within the Unión General de Trabajadores, one of the two main labor unions in the country. “I don’t want to give lessons to anybody. But at such a delicate moment for Spain, showing that we believe in flexibility and consensus has certainly been highly valued by the carmakers.”

The car sector employs 280,000 people in Spain, including parts suppliers, and accounts for a tenth of the country’s economic output. About 85 percent of the industry’s workers are on long-term contracts.

“When you look at the car manufacturers and suppliers in Spain, a lot of the fat has been cut out since the start of the crisis and what is left now is a very strong skeleton and muscles,” said Marc Sachon, a professor of operations management at the IESE business school in Madrid. “Ford and Renault are now giving further proof that companies are changing their European manufacturing footprint and moving away from places where costs are higher.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/business/global/car-factories-offer-hope-for-spanish-industry-and-workers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix: What We’re Reading: China Finally Runs a Trade Deficit

Economics doesn’t have to be complicated. It is the study of our lives — our jobs, our homes, our families and the little decisions we face every day. Here at Economix, Catherine Rampell, David Leonhardt and other contributors will analyze the news and use economics as a framework for thinking about the world. We welcome feedback, at economix@nytimes.com.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a7d4ffccf3d50ad137f3f185f941861f