April 20, 2024

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: T.G.I.M.


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

THANK GOD IT’S MONDAY Just checking. Are we all still here? Phew.

WE DID IT The debt ceiling has been reached. Barkley Rosser says to forget about it: “Treasury Secretary Geithner should simply ignore the debt ceiling and continue to pay the bills as they come in, thereby avoiding any defaults or spending cuts or financial crises.” Reuters’ James Pethokoukis says we should ignore the secretary’s debt-ceiling scare tactics: “Team Geithner has plenty of flexibility about which bills to pay and plenty of dough with which to do it.” Several small-business owners offer their own ideas for reducing the deficit. The Urban Land Institute says our infrastructure needs a $2 trillion upgrade.

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES A Gallup poll says economic concerns have reached a two-year high. Seeking Alpha’s John Nyaradi tells investors that red flags are everywhere. For example: “There has been a significant rotation into ‘defensive’ sectors like utilities and consumer stocks. (This typically indicates money leaving ‘risk’ assets and often portends market declines).” Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot report lower sales. My kids are freaking out about this story (but Evan Longoria is keeping his cool). Housing starts and building permits fall in April, as does the Architecture Index. Industrial production stays the same because of a decline in manufacturing output. Existing home sales fall. The Philly Fed is weak.

WEAK IS GOOD Some small-business owners are benefiting from higher gas prices. American Airlines says that small-business travel spending is up. The Wall Street Journal’s Kathleen Madigan says that housing weakness is a mixed blessing: “the only sure way for home construction to recover is for supply to decline significantly.” Ezra Klein explains why a weak dollar isn’t so bad: “a stronger dollar is good for buying stuff and a weaker dollar is good for making stuff. What a temporarily weak dollar is particularly good for, however, is recovering from a deep recession.” Mark Perry says that manufacturing profits have returned to record high levels. Kash Mansori is cautiously optimistic about our manufacturing performance: “U.S. manufacturing has done far better during this recovery than what we’ve grown used to seeing over the past 30 years.” And in a new report, the White House reminds us of all the good things our president has done: “17 tax breaks for business owners, more than $50 billion in federal loan guarantees since 2009, and federally supported programs that have provided counseling to more than two million business owners.”

BLOW AWAY THE FOG Goldman Sachs’s chief economist says the next recession is “years away.” Vistaprint’s new index says most of us are pretty happy. Daniel Burrus, technology futurist, says we must envision our company’s future: “Even though we are surrounded by a fog of bad news regarding the economy and a slow jobs recovery, there is a mountain of great opportunity right in front of us. We simply have to blow away the fog to see it.” Stephanie Chandler gives us eight reasons to celebrate being a small business. For example: “Want to leave early and take your kid to the park? Take a vacation? Launch a new product? The only person you need to ask is the one you see in the mirror.” Dude, this California lifeguard is making bank.

PLANKING AROUND THE WORLD A new report from the World Bank predicts that by 2025 China, along with five other emerging economies — Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Russia — will account for more than half of all global growth, up from one third now. Mike Mandel points out that we’ve hit a milestone in trade: “For the first time, imports from China, Mexico, Brazil exceeded imports from the G6 countries.” BlackBerry makes a small-business push into China. Planking takes Australia. Ten Latin America start-ups are worth tracking. The United States trade representative says the government is creating more export opportunities for small businesses. International sales may be booming, but most big companies still rely on the domestic market for their profits.

LINKEDIN CASHES IN The Economic Development Administration introduces a new virtual community of organizations to support technology-based start-ups. LinkedIn is valued at more than $4 billion. Bank of America announces a suite of small-business credit cards. But be careful — some small-business credit cards may put you at risk.

WHAT DO TEXANS LOVE? A state lawmaker in Washington isn’t thrilled about cigar lounges. Unemployment in New Hampshire falls below 5 percent. An editorial says that Connecticut is closed for business. Brad McCarty says that Omaha is a great place for start-ups: “Rather than just having slogans and T-shirts, that Midwestern work ethic is coming into play and Omaha is facing problems with action.” Scholars at the Brookings Institution say that Cleveland has recovered from the recession. Michigan’s regulatory chief says the state has too many regulations. And why is Texas No. 1 for business? Because Texans love puppies, of course!

HELLO SOCIAL MEDIA, GOODBYE BRAINS A new survey says that nearly three-quarters of America’s small businesses are doing social media. But the Northeast is lagging. AdAge provides a breakdown of who these people are. A social media expert, Jason Falls, explains what small towns can teach us about social business. “You must give of your time, energy and compassion to show those there that you are, in fact, a part of the community.” The executive editor of The New York Times says, “Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud.”

DOUBLE SLURPING? GENIUS! ADP releases an Android app for managing payroll. Online cash management tool Bill.com adds document management. In a flash of genius, 7-Eleven is coming out with a dual-chambered Slurpee cup. Sam’s Club launches a health management solution for small businesses. Thinktank NDN launches a clean energy solution series in Washington. The Small Business Administration honors the best small businesses in America.

THE HOTTEST START-UP IN NEW YORK Liz Gannes explains why some young ex-Googlers left to do a social media start-up. Martin Zwilling says we need to do the right thing when starting a business: “Leading people to do the right thing as a team is one of the most challenging things to teach and coach.” Web site Startup Expert offers new services to help entrepreneurs. The San Francisco Chronicle tells the story of Gilt Groupe, “the hottest start-up in New York.” A mobile payments start-up raises $6.5 million. But suprisingly few Americans actually work in start-ups.

MICROSOFT’S BIG WEEK The Blackberry PlayBook is a surprise success. A new version of Peachtree accounting software for small business appears. Ramon Ray says that Google’s new Chrome laptop is built for the cloud professional. Microsoft is defended by Bill Gates, gets a big victory in Google’s backyard and reports that one in 14 downloads is malicious. Dell’s profit jumps. Hewlett-Packard cuts its sales forecast. Here are a few signs you may need a virtual assistant. The C.D.C. issues a Zombie Apocalypse alert.

THE WEEK AHEAD Durable goods, gross domestic product, personal income and consumer spending numbers are coming this week. And on Wednesday you can be proud to be a geek.


TURNAROUND STRATEGY Jane Porter offers strategies for turning around a business. For example: “Instead of cutting staff, author Denise O’Berry suggests taking a closer look at lowering expenses elsewhere within the company. For example, when a small deli she worked with wanted to turn the business around, O’Berry had the owner review the menu offerings more carefully. It turned out that while the deli offered 50 items, customers were buying only 20 percent of them. By streamlining the menu, the business significantly cut expenses related to ingredients.”

CUTTING TO THE CHASE Jason Freedman gives advice on how to e-mail busy people: “Make your ask explicit. If you want a meeting, ask for a meeting. Provide some time options and ask for a specified length. If you want an introduction, ask for an introduction. If you’re looking for funding, tell him you’re currently fund-raising and ask to meet to show him your pitch. Don’t be sly. Don’t hint. Make the process ridiculously easy by just asking for what you want.”

GOING ZEN Mark McGuinness explains how the Buddha solved his marketing problems: “A classic marketing mistake is to look for everyone who could benefit from your product, service or message, and try to persuade them of its value. If we follow the Buddha’s example and focus on the people who actively want what we’re offering (not just the ones who need it), we’ll have a much smaller potential audience — but a much better chance of a positive response.”

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION How do you get a busy person’s attention?

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=d6670d77655902eaad7461be61487f5b

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