July 21, 2024

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: A Union for Owners


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

The Fed: Bernanke Reins It In

In his second ever press conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke reins in growth forecasts and says QE2 will run its course. Agustino Fontevecchia says that the Fed chairman is clueless. Seeking Alpha’s Jeff Miller explains the superpowers of Ben Bernanke. Bob McTeer is happy QE2 is over: “QE2 comes to a formal end this month and just in the nick of time, too, since it’s been flooding the markets with newly printed money, making hyperinflation and a collapse of the dollar inevitable.” But Mark Sunshine is concerned that our slower money supply is sending us back into recession, and Mark Thoma explains how this could happen. Want to vent? Here’s how you can have dinner with President Obama.

The Data: Housing Still in the Basement

Oil prices tumble and new unemployment claims rise. Russell Investments’ state-of-the-economy dashboard has been updated. Vehicle traffic declined in April compared with the previous year. Commercial real estate prices are at a post-bubble low. Existing home sales and the Architecture Billing Index also fell. And Calculated Risk isn’t surprised: “Of course many qualified buyers bought last year — using the ill-considered home-buyer tax credit — and that pulled demand forward. The housing market is still paying the price for that policy mistake.” But housing starts (PDF) increased. First-quarter gross domestic product was revised up and durable goods orders improved.

The Economy: Deficit Reform Draws Closer?

A deficit reform bill gets closer, and then talks break down. Jonathan Bernstein advises us not to panic about the current budget negotiations. The president shows that he really does care about future generations. The Treasury secretary calls for tax increases. I’m calling for a special tax on the Harry Potter industry. A political writer says that corporate tax cuts don’t stimulate job growth. Looking at the top and bottom five states in terms of job growth, Brian Pittelko says, “nationally, the economy is expanding, but not every state is feeling that change.” Small-business lending shows signs of life. Andrew Sullivan says that a growing housing gap could be good news for the construction industry. Greece’s prime minister wins a vote of confidence. Bill Gross says our budget situation is worse than Greece’s. Fortune’s Nin-Hai Tseng reports that demand for loans is dropping at all banks, but the slowdown in small-business lending is hurting local banks.

Starting Up: You Say It’s Your Birthday

A person begs for financing for his iPhone start-up. A new company stores social media posts for background checks, and another venture has come up with an ultrasound alternative to N.F.C. A heavily hyped start-up fails to live up to its hype. A lawyer explains how to introduce a start-up and avoid landing in jail. Small-business coach Andy Hayes explains how much sacrifice it takes to start a small business: “I wish I could tell you how many of your children’s birthdays you’ll miss. I wish I could warn you about how much over-consumption of caffeine you’ll have, and how many nights you won’t sleep because you’re worried about paying your mortgage. I’d love to say that you’ll be breaking even within a year, or that in six years you’ll cash out as a millionaire.” New research from the small-business insurer Hiscox finds that 15 percent of start-ups were started as a result of layoffs. The venture capital industry laments the lack of public offerings.

Marketing: Be a Better Blogger

A blogger offers seven ways to revitalize your blog, including: “Use link clusters. This is where your analytics software comes in. When checking your figures, look out for posts which have attracted lots of traffic via a particular keyword (say, ‘social media tips’). Then, go back in your posts archive and edit previous posts so that they include a text link for ‘social media tips’ which links back to your original high-performing post.” Todd Wasserman reviews five creative location-based campaigns. A social customer-relations management newcomer, Nimble, releases a company-wide product. Geez, I guess advertising really can work.

Management: A Union for Small-Business Owners

Here’s how Facebook would work in real life. A poll of 625 women found that 75 percent of them would not marry a man who was unemployed. A fed-up entrepreneur starts a union for small-business owners. Diana Ransom explains why this week’s court victory for Wal-Mart is also a victory for small business. A working mom explains what it’s like to be a working mom: “Each and every day, I recognize the enormous responsibility that rests upon my shoulders to support my family. But I also recognize that nothing is as important as my mental health.” Sarah Needleman reports that a third of American workers are ready to quit. Russell Roberts says technology does not destroy jobs. Anita Woolley and Thomas Malone write in the Harvard Business Review that women make a team smarter.

Success Strategies: Go Overseas, Young Man

A customer relations guru, Paul Greenberg, says United Airlines could learn a lot from Marriott. A disgruntled customer writes a great letter to an airline. A few experts weigh in on whether franchising makes sense. A small-business owner, Norm Goldenberg, reflects on a half century spent in the pest control and lawn care industries. A new survey finds that nearly a quarter of American small and midsize companies are doing business overseas. Some believe that the National Football League lockout will hurt small businesses. Here are the five deadly sins of bad meetings.

Around the States: Go East, Californians

A Chamber of Commerce study identifies state-level economic development strategies that are working. The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce is introducing an effort to create a downtown work space that could serve as a home base for entrepreneurs and early stage start-ups. A Silicon Valley doctor is making a big impact on the way health care is delivered. The United States Conference of Mayors predicts 3.5 percent growth in the second half of the year and that New York’s economy will be the 13th largest (PDF) in the world. California small businesses rise up against a proposed Internet tax while many companies are leaving the state.

Technology: Putting a Fork in RIM?

A popular mobile application invades Chicago. The F.B.I. seizes a few servers, causing sites to go down. Verizon Wireless will join its competitors ATT and T-Mobile next month in eliminating the option for customers to consume unlimited data on their mobile phones without paying additional fees. Microsoft is introducing Office 365 on June 28. Box.net and Google Docs join forces against it. Google goes after Skype. Uh-oh: RIM begins “cost-optimizing” its employees, and John Biggs says RIM is done. People are spending more time with their mobile apps than on the Internet. New research says that small- and medium-sized business technology spending is trending up. A hardcore laptop is introduced. Robert Scoble predicts that Android tables will make huge gains this year. Internet addresses are now whatever you want. The Internet reunites a long-lost camera with its owner. A girl tries to solve global warming.

Red Tape Update: A New Twist in Health Care

The Chamber of Commerce goes after President Obama’s regulations. A tax holiday proposal may not offer much to celebrate. The I.R.S. increases (PDF) the mileage rate through year end. Ezra Klein says that Medicare is much more efficient than we think. Number crunchers find a health care twist that could let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance. The House G.O.P. nears a patent reform bill.

The Week Ahead: Lots of Consumer Data

Monday’s data will include personal spending and income. Tuesday and Friday will bring two sets of consumer confidence numbers. Friday will reveal this past month’s vehicle sales. And did you know Thursday is the 58th anniversary of the Corvette?

This Week’s Bests

Advice for Getting Market Share Marketer Walter Dailey shares a few lessons. For example: “Seek Out Your ‘Average Customer.’ Every business has an average customer – a person that consistently spends around the same amount and appears at your doorstep like clockwork. In order for you to grow, you must market to people that represent this particular customer. Why? You’re most likely to already have the infrastructure and know-how to be successful with this kind of customer. Growing your share will be a matter of duplicating your existing success, rather than reinventing the wheel in order to cater to an atypical client.”

Reason to Barter Barbara Taylor explains why she loves barter: “While my husband and I feel lucky to still be in business (I, too, am Staying Alive), we have had to regroup and find new ways to bolster our bottom line, which is how I came to have not one or two but three barter arrangements in place at my firm.”

Spin on the World Economy Simon Hunt thinks the United States may have much to gain from a world recession: “Within a decade, the U.S.A. could supplant China as the manufacturing hub of the world … big changes will be needed in Washington for this historic development to occur. The changes will not just be on the fiscal side, but the need to offer businesses the right incentives to produce in the U.S.A. rather than abroad, the permitting procedures to allow the development of the country’s resources, including oil (the U.S.A. could become self-contained), making government less intrusive in households and businesses and so on.”

This Week’s Question What economic metric do you watch for 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://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bb357eef507e3fd8677bd36bf6c12344

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