August 7, 2022

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: How to Sell Out


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

CONFIDENCE FALLS, EXCEPT ON WALL STREET Confidence among small businesses falls to an eight-month low in May, dampened by a deteriorating outlook for sales and hiring, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey. Gallup also says economic confidence plunged. Builder confidence declines, too. An economist says there’s a 99 percent chance of recession in the United States by next year. The director of the Congressional Budget Office says there’s a great deal of pain ahead, but he’s “heartened by the fact that households have de-leveraged, businesses are sitting on cash, and anything that increases individual and business confidence could prompt new spending.” Seventy-seven percent of venture capital executives are optimistic about their industry. Calculated Risk says the slowdown may be temporary. One analyst says a stock market rally is about to happen. Jeff Reeves, an investor, offers 11 reasons stocks will surge soon.

WORKER INCOME COLLAPSES Jobless claims and housing starts are better than expected. Retail sales fall in May, but Scott Grannis says they remain strong. Industrial production edges up. (Just checking: are you really paying attention?) The Southern California housing market continues to disappoint. Consumer and producer prices rise slightly. Cargo traffic in Los Angeles is up. Residential remodeling increases. But our workers’ share of national income is collapsing. The Philadelphia Fed’s index of manufacturing activity is down.

GLOBAL TRENDS TO WATCH Ernst Young reports six global trends are shaping business strategy. A few well known academics explain why American management rules the world. A desire for United States passports is the trend in China. The Dalai Lama isn’t laughing. Greece teeters. A new survey lists five countries women should avoid.

TO STIMULATE OR NOT Ben S. Bernanke warns that we must raise the debt ceiling, but the parties are still a trillion dollars apart on a budget deal. A Seeking Alpha blogger explains where are all the QE2 money went. President Obama courts executives on jobs and proposes a high-tech training plan. Morgan Stanley offers proof that the United States is already solving its debt crisis. Jared Bernstein, a fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, offers our leaders some dos and don’ts. For example: “As federal stimulus fades and states continue to face budget constraints, we mustn’t allow policies that are boosting demand to fade too soon.” John Mason reports that business lending appears to be getting stronger, but Scott Shane says small businesses are still finding it hard to get loans.

TIME FOR THAT DIET? writes about Ididwork, a free tool for remote employees to track their time. A new study from the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute reports those born after 1982 are 100 percent more likely to sell their businesses than older entrepreneurs. I like this info graphic explaining how games can help your enterprise. A study finds that skinny women and overweight men earn the most. Daniel Radcliffe shows us how to succeed in business. A few academics teach us a few tricks to tell if someone’s lying. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court backs the governor’s collective bargaining position. American students don’t know much American history.

RED TAPE Susan Dickenson asks retailers if they were able to claim the new small-business health care tax credit for 2010. Four senators urge the Federal Reserve to crack down on the marketing of business credit cards, but overwhelmed regulators give the financial industry a reprieve. Congressman Sam Graves wants the government to stop withholding small-business payments: “Imagine you own a business that puts a new roof on the local high school. After you do the work, the school pays only 97 percent of what it owes you. Why? On the off-chance you may not pay your federal taxes.” Obama’s top regulator cozies up to business. The Postal Service is trying to cut back to five days. The Democratic National Committee’s chairwoman says Mr. Obama has signed bills with 17 small-business tax cuts (and a fact-checker agrees).

PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES The city of Dallas is busy inspecting small-business signs while two crazy dudes run wild through its airport!

TOP TEN LISTS suggests 10 videos every entrepreneur should watch. Betty White shares her top 10 tips for living a happy life. Jason Del Rey shares 29 things he thinks he learned at one of those small-business summits. DailyCandy’s 2011 Start Small, Go Big Contest is accepting entries. Sunsweet is daring us to eat prunes.

SMALL-BUSINESS TECH UPDATES Before you move to the cloud, you might want to check out this chart. Google makes a $280 million solar investment. This guy thinks Skype could be Microsoft’s best acquisition ever. And Office 2010 is Microsoft’s fastest-selling version to date. Pandora goes public. Here are eight easy steps for creating a scanned signature for your e-mail. A small-business technology expert shares five essential business apps. Maybe it’s me, but there’s no way a dummy is buying this Dummies book. Beware of a new “mass-meshing” attack on small-business Web sites. The United States Senate’s Web site is hacked.

MIRACLE-GRO LIKES WEED Sub-Saharan Africa is booming. A food storage company and crematorium may be joining forces in Minnesota. Atlanta small-business owners get a new opportunity to offer input on growth and profitability. Miracle-Gro and others see big bucks in marijuana. Chicago is determined not to lose its trade show business.

GETTING STARTED Start-ups make their pitches in Boston, and more cities are scheduled. A freelance writer lists nine free programs that help you build a side business. Des Traynor poses some interesting questions for a would-be start-up, such as “How are you going to delight your users? How are you going to engage them, make them advocates, make them loyal? Are you creating passionate users?” A 15-year-old starts and sells his company. OfficeMax’s founder says entrepreneurs must rule their start-up like a benevolent dictator. An angel investor says patent reform could stifle start-ups.

FACEBOOK DECLINES Facebook reports traffic drops in the United States and Canada, but PCMag says Facebook users are spending more time than ever on the site: “People visiting Facebook are actually visiting 40 percent more pages per visit than they were just three months ago.” Which is yet another dumb thing about being in your twenties.

MCDONALD’S LEARNS A LESSON Writer Kathryn Hawkins offers tips for building a better customer survey. Example: “Provide an incentive. Very few customers will take the time to fill out a survey form without the promise of a reward.” A marketing expert says that branding for small businesses is a luxury: “Many small businesses tend to try to mimic the branding efforts of large corporations, and it’s simply not possible.” McDonald’s racist sign hoax reminds us that the Internet never forgets. A new tool shortens URLs while advertising your business.

THE WEEK AHEAD Summer officially begins Tuesday, which is also when we’ll probably hear how bad existing home sales were in May. On Wednesday Mr. Bernanke speaks to the press. Thursday brings unemployment claims and new home sales. Corporate profits from the first quarter are finalized on Friday.


REASON TO NOT THINK POSITIVE A Blogger explains why positive thinking can be counterproductive: “I’m 45. I’m 5-foot-8. It doesn’t matter how much positive thinking I do, I will NEVER play professional basketball. I can be super positive all year long, and I’ll never get picked. Too old, too small. I can use positive thinking tactics to think that I will write a New York Times bestseller but it will never happen unless I start to do the actual writing. And this is where positive action comes in.”

REASON NOT TO MAKE A PLAN Matt Krautstrunk lists his five worst tips for entrepreneurs, including my favorite: “Anybody who tells you that you need a business plan either doesn’t understand the competitive landscape or is ‘old school.’ Nowadays, business plans are used primarily for attracting investors, and often fail to account for changing external factors.”

ADVICE FOR SELLING OUT James Altucher shares nine important things to remember if you want to sell your start-up. I like: “Prepare a year in advance. The first company that I sold (in 1998) I started meeting with all the ad agencies about a year in advance of selling. I wasn’t ready then (I would’ve sold then but I was too small) so I kept everyone in the loop with monthly updates. And lunches or breakfasts every three months just to update on the business in general. By the time I was finally ready to sell we had four or five instant offers.”

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION Do you have an exit plan 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.

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