December 8, 2023

You’re the Boss Blog: This Week in Small Business: Everything Is Super!

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

The Deficit: We Await the Supercommittee

Lawmakers on the deficit supercommittee continue to haggle before Wednesday’s deadline. The president is bracing for failure. Paul Krugman is hoping for failure. Ezra Klein brings together everyone’s predictions. Businesses are wary. Jane Wells reports that small businesses will feel defense cuts, saying there will be “a trickle down effect of $2.64 in lost sales in the general economy for every $1 in defense cuts.” Steve Pearlstein laments the failure of global leadership.

Red Tape Update: Health Care Goes Supreme

Trish Turner wonders why our tax dollars are subsidizing Scottie Pippen, Ted Turner and Jon Bon Jovi. General Electric pays no taxes on $14 billion in profits. The Supreme Court agrees to hear health care arguments. Anna Yukhananov and Lisa Lambert discuss what the ruling could mean. Gallup says Americans tilt toward favoring repeal. Rob Lynch offers five reasons small businesses shouldn’t drop their health care benefits. Karen Klein explains why so few small-business owners are using the health care tax credit.

The Small-Business Economy: Super Saturday

Global Entrepreneurship Week was introduced in 123 countries last week. American Express is super-sizing this weekend’s Small-Business Saturday (and teamed with Google to offer a cool way for businesses to tell their stories). Janine Popick reports that Kim Kardashian is helping small-businesses. Bank of America hires Malcolm Gladwell to speak to small businesses. Michael J. Fox does Johnny B. Goode again. A study says that Americans really do like big businesses. The Wall Street Journal announces its most innovative entrepreneur of the year.

The Economy: Structural Shift?

A Federal Reserve report says the chance of recession in 2012 is greater than 50 percent. An updated report (pdf) finds that gross domestic product rose 2.5 percent after rising 1.3 percent in the second quarter. Mark Perry points to a structural shift in the economy: “The Great Recession stimulated huge productivity and efficiency gains as companies shed marginal workers and learned how to do more with less (fewer workers).” Prediction: holiday spending should be about the same as last year (thanks in part to pawn shops!). Scott Grannis has a bunch of charts that show where the economy is heading. Rebecca Black still tops the YouTube charts?

The Data: No Bad Data This Week?

Architecture billing and residential remodeling indexes climb. Industrial production and capacity utilization expand. Machine tool orders surge. Consumer prices and producer prices fall. Retail sales rise and James Picerno is optimistic. But Doug Short says the consumer economy remains in a recession. The United States has the second most efficient labor market.

People: Have You Hired a Veteran?

A report says small-business staffing levels are stable. Sharon Ho gives advice on hiring the right people, and Michael Alter talks about turning them into the right team. Congress approves a tax break for hiring military veterans and Amazon opens its doors. A chief executive explains why he hires vets. A Target employee starts a petition against working on Thanksgiving Day. Darth Vader is promoted to regional director at an electronics chain. Starbucks’ campaign to create jobs surpasses $1 million in donations. Google and Apple top a list of the most attractive employers.

Marketing 1: Social Media Stuff

A report finds that 96 percent of small businesses are on Facebook. Mikal E. Belicove says that Google+ is not good for small businesses: “As of this writing, Google+’s reach is .05 percent of total U.S. Internet users online. By comparison, Facebook’s reach is 63 percent.” Cindy Bates explains how to use Microsoft Bing to promote your business free. A Nielsen survey finds that Indians spend more time on social media than on any other activity on the Internet. Local social media ad spending is expected to hit $2.3 billion in 2015. Jason Keith sums up a bunch of useful social media marketing stats. Here is proof that Americans are still awesome.

Marketing 2: Does Yelp Help?

President Obama and the president of China kiss in a controversial new marketing campaign. MP Mueller reminds us not to forget the clients we already have. Retailers are seeing a split in the behavior of shoppers. Brian Goffman offers 12 marketing predictions for 2012. Amazon goes all out for loyalty. Kara Haas explains how QR codes can help market your services (even if you’re not an accountant). Jonathan Farrington explains why qualification is a process, not a single event. Stephanie Elam and Julie Brayton both wonder if Yelp really helps small businesses. Constant Contact finds small businesses are still slow to adopt social media.

Around the World: Where Are the Innovative?

Ever wonder where in the world the most innovative companies are? A new service will help you expand into foreign markets. Small businesses in Italy are hampered by bureaucracy. Miles of a mysterious network grid appear in Chinese satellite photos. Google creates a start-up incubator in Israel. Bahrain’s Startup Weekend draws a good response. A photographer shares a beautiful 24-hour time-lapse shot of Dubai. An Afghani entrepreneur explains what it’s like to run a business in a war zone. Small-business ingenuity thrives during the recent Thai flooding.

Around the Country: New Jersey and Raw Milk

“The Daily Show” reveals class warfare among the Occupy Wall Streeters and a New York City small-business owner counterprotests. Detroit is running out of money. The New York Times reports that Hispanics are arriving in numbers large enough to offset or even exceed the decline in the white population in many places. A 12-year-old gives a TED talk. New Jersey residents go to great lengths for raw milk. A stuntman does amazing stuff. Natural gas is helping regional economies. The flame-retardant industry spends $23 million on lobbying and campaign donations. Manufacturing in New York (pdf) improves. The Postal Service faces default, and Josh Sanburn explains how it fell apart.

Start-Up: Dirt Cheap?

One report says venture-backed start-up companies continue to be job-creation engines. New farmers find that dirt really isn’t cheap. A start-up raps for financing. A new company achieves a major feat. Jeff Haden lists nine buzzwords your start-up shouldn’t use, including “collaborative partnership”. “When customers pay you, they’re not your partner.” A company helps start-ups find people. Harvard builds its start-up muscle. Adam Dachis gives advice for dating. A start-up invents a spam button for paper mail. The White House honors four Chicago start-ups. Selena Gomez takes the start-up plunge.

Ideas: Preserve Equity

Advice for the day: rather than killing your pets for the insurance, just consider liability insurance instead, O.K.? Thinkers50 lists 50 influential management gurus. Steven Davidoff says wise entrepreneurs know how to preserve equity. A utility executive on solar power: In “three to five years you’ll be able to get power cheaper from the roof of your house than from the grid.” Belinda Parmar offers five things every entrepreneurial woman should know, including: “It will be 100 times harder than you already think.” (An escalator proves surprisingly hard for this woman.) By 2050, the United States is likely to have nine million people 90 and older, up from 720,000 in 1980. A grocery store in Finland shows how to help aging customers. A very bad idea: a dad’s prank goes wrong. The Hunger Games movie looks awesome.

Technology: Warren Buffett Buys a Tech Stock?

Apple warms up to the business market and Arthur Cole recommends 10 Apple apps for companies. Warren Buffett buys a stake in I.B.M. Honda shows off its electric motorcycle. Here’s what it’s like to drive at 462 mph. lists its five best open source accounting software applications. Amazon’s new Kindle sells for $79 (but costs $84 to make). A New Yorker cartoon portrays the downside of the cloud. These may be the droids farmers are looking for. Matt Smith explains how to find out if an online business is legitimate.

The Week Ahead

Scheduled to be released: existing home sales, preliminary G.D.P., personal spending and durable goods orders.

The Week’s Bests

Explanation for What Really Motivates Small-Business Owners. Neroli Makim sums it up: “Being able to provide a valuable product and service to others whilst enjoying the freedom to explore and express your creativity is an extraordinary motivator. Your creativity is inextricably linked to how autonomous you feel; freedom and creativity go hand in hand. When you work for someone else, you are rarely given free rein to innovate and problem-solve at will. … The intrinsic motivation of autonomy drives you in business and the sense of freedom and creativity that comes from it is a great source of fulfillment in itself.”

Reason Bad Hires Happen. John Featherstone explains: “Not properly thinking through the problems and requirements of the job, and the related skills and experience needed for a person to be successful. … There are no shortcuts here. How can you possibly pick the right person for the job when you haven’t clearly identified what kind of qualifications to look for? Proper preparation is critical to a successful hiring project.”

Uses of Psychology. Joe Wilner lists five ways positive psychology can help a workplace, including: “Taking an approach of self-determination offers freedom and autonomy for workers to flourish and become absorbed in the work they do best. This involves employees uncovering their signature strengths and having the freedom to use them.”

 This Week’s Question: Are your employees absorbed in their work?

2:11 p.m. | Corrected A previous version of this post misspelled the name of Mikal E. Belicove.

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.

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