July 22, 2024

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: Fat, Flat and Falling


A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

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

Jobs: Ugh!

Unemployment rises to 9.2 percent and weekly unemployment claims exceed 400,000 for the 13th week in a row. The National Federation of Independent Business says small-business hiring in June was “a bust” and another survey shows wages rising (and here’s why my kids have jobs this summer). A Bloomberg opinion piece argues that as bad as the employment picture looks, “the official Labor Department figures understate the magnitude of the crisis.” A few bright spots: The auto industry, seeing new life, is on a hiring spree. ADP says private hiring jumps. Gallup’s job creation index is the highest since 2008. And Harry finally defeats what’s his name (oh, come on, as if you didn’t know!).

The Debt Ceiling: Working Toward Compromise

Things are getting so tense that President Obama cancels his vacation and gets aggressive in less than 140 characters. Scott Grannis reports an unusual pickup in the money supply. Conan starts car-pooling with staffers. An investor tells us what we need to know and Bruce Bartlett offers five myths about the debt ceiling. Here’s one economist who’s not so gloomy: “I think what’s going to happen will be that the debt ceiling crisis will be resolved without upsetting financial markets or depressing the economy in the near term.”

The Data: Flat, Fat and Falling

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index shows a slower expansion in June. The office market vacancy rate was flat in the second quarter compared to the first. Americans are getting fatter. Factory orders rose in May. Consumer bankruptcy filings fall 8 percent in the first half of 2011. Mall vacancies rise. The Los Angeles Times reports that gas prices are unlikely to rise much more this summer.

The Economy: It’s No Joke

Female business owners show cautious optimism about the recovery. Analysts at an investment firm say “hasta la vista, soft patch (PDF): “It’s no surprise to us that the Dow has now fully recovered back to where it was when the soft patch started to materialize. Stay long and stay positive, the soft patch is fading into the pessimistic abyss.” Kevin Spak says that even in this economy corporate profits are soaring. Meanwhile, Scott Shane reports that small-business owners are working harder for less. Smallbizlabs says the small-business economy is finally improving. An editorial says the stimulus was a joke for small business.

Red Tape Update: I Demand That You Audit Me

The New York Post predicts that in six short months, a new dark age will descend on America. Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says “a simple perusal of the Federal Register shows over 430 rules costing over $65 billion so far this year alone.” Representative Sam Graves says we can’t create jobs without lifting the weight of regulations. Holly Sklar and Scott Klinger say that real patriots pay taxes. A business owner loses his fight to get audited. The recent dip in commodity prices could begin to act as a delayed tax cut. Does the United States have the second lowest corporate tax burden in the developed world? According to Ezra Klein this is the most important graph in health care policy: “It shows that we pay more than any other health care system and, to add insult to injury, have ended up with more government than most of our competitors, too.” Writing for Forbes, Sally Pipes says the small-business health care tax credits are having a minuscule impact.

Marketing: The Greater Good

Ever wonder what are the top 20 brands on Facebook? A new report says that 22 percent of small businesses use Facebook ads. Doug Ross lists 10 great rules for attracting people to your blog. Rene LeMerle shares her top five free social media automation tools. Roost’s survey of small businesses found that almost three-quarters believe social media to be a more effective marketing activity than paid search. Heidi Cohen gives us five ways to improve our social media marketing. For example: “One of social media’s unstated rules is the focus on the community and the greater good. If you’re only thinking about how to promote the next product or sale, you’ve missed the point of social media.” Michael Fauscette explains the business uses of Google+.

Management: It’s Magic!

Jamahl Keyes, the “Magic Motivator,” gives some business growth tips. Matthew DeLuca explains how a boss can take a summer vacation. These chief executives have a special advantage.

Success Strategies: Drinking and Puppies Don’t Mix

Flying cars are approved by the Department of Transportation. A Toledo small business wins the cupcake wars. A design firm proposes changes to how sales receipts look. Pet stores ban drunk puppy buying. The mobile payments market is expected to reach $670 billion by 2015. The N.F.I.B. celebrates the next generation of entrepreneurs with scholarships. What is the most important question a start-up looking for money should ask? An inventor takes it one step too far. And a little squirrel shows that sometimes you just have to be lucky.

Your People: The Advantages of Not Making Too Much Money

Regina Woods lists five ways to motivate employee bloggers, such as, “Share the results regularly. Hold your bloggers accountable for their work by posting their progress.” Entrepreneur’s Carol Tice thinks that owners who don’t pay themselves too much have an advantage — “putting their pay on a more even keel with workers. That likely also helps as owners are usually there on the front lines, looking workers in the eyes every day.” A guy eats 69 hot dogs. Eric Pages breaks down the 1099 economy: “Based on my experience, I see several segments within the broad category of the 1099 economy: the reluctant 1099ers, the entrepreneurial 1099ers, and the ‘gig economy’ work force.”

Around the Country: Virginia Is for (Old) Lovers

A sandstorm hits Phoenix. West Michigan veterans can get free business training. New York State thinks that fracking can save it. Virginia men live longer than Mississippi men. Austin tops the list of the 50 cities of the future — but my vote is with Denver.

Around the World: I’m With Switzerland

China raises interest rates. Namibia strikes black gold. The world’s youth would rather be in Australia or New Zealand. Britain’s best-selling newspaper closes. London has $34 billion of luxury homes currently in development. A Swiss political party tries to ban PowerPoint.

Finance: Hey, I’m No Squelcher

Mortgage applications fall. The Troubled Asset Relief Program makes a $10 billion profit. Office Depot offers a small-business loan program. Time’s Roya Wolverson wonders if small businesses will squelch the recovery: “For many economists, small-business lending is the safest gauge of the economic recovery’s strength. Too bad it’s headed in the wrong direction.” Investment advisers’ use of social media may spark regulation.

Technology: Keep The Faith In I.T.

Facebook teams up with Skype. New cyberattacks are aiming at small businesses. The software giant SAP focuses on smaller companies. Chief financial officers don’t have faith in information technology people, but boards do. Verizon is the latest to end unlimited data. ComputerWeekly has a case study showing how a business can benefit from software-as-a-service. Score’s Ken Yancey offers five commonly held beliefs about using technology in your business. Amazon invests big in a data start-up.

The Week Ahead: Trade, Retail, Geekness

A ton of new data hits us this week: Trade numbers, retail sales, producer and consumer prices, inventories and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey. And Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke gives midyear testimony to Congressional committees, once he’s done embracing his geekness.

This Week’s Bests

Connection Between Small Business And Libya A Harvard professor, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, lists three reasons everything goes better with partners. For example: “There truly is strength in numbers. Lining up others who feel the same way about a barrier or an obstacle makes change more likely. Coalitions lend credibility. They provide cover for controversial decisions, so that you’re not a target for retaliation, or at least not alone — a principle used in the air cover around Libya. In Nigeria recently, I was asked what small and mid-sized businesses can do to behave responsibly in the face of government corruption. The answer: Companies should get together and meet with officials as a group. A multinational has decided to take the lead.”

Reason To Outsource The Under30CEO gives us four reasons why every business should outsource. For example: “Outsourcing gives you access to experts in fields related to your business. Marketing gurus, certified public accountants, certified human resource professionals, and customer service coordinators are ready and waiting to help you grow your business. Outsourcing puts you in a unique position to stay informed as well as learn and gather information from industry experts.”

Marketing Lessons StartupSmart’s Jason Rose gives us six marketing lessons in six months: “Lesson four: Don’t do everything. You need to set realistic expectations around what you can do from one day to the next and that requires discipline as well as self-confidence. You will inevitably hear what other companies are doing and read the advice of marketing gurus, and the impulse to copy and obey will be immense. But before you do that, work out what is achievable and more importantly what your priorities are.”

This Week’s Question: Are you glad you have a partner?

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=46eb4c59aff239e8abd2b1d1bffc53cf


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