February 23, 2024

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: The Shutdown and the Showdown


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

NO SHUTDOWN Congress finally funds the 2011 budget. Of course, if these guys can get together, why shouldn’t our politicians?

BUT THERE WILL BE ANOTHER SHOWDOWN The G.O.P.’s Paul Ryan presents a budget with  trillions in cuts. Scott Grannis thinks Rep. Ryan’s vision of reform “may not be perfect, but it is bold, brave, and a big breath of fresh air.” Business Insider thinks the proposal cuts look pretty impressive, and some in Congress put it on the fast track. Meanwhile, Jake Berliner, of think tank NDN thinks Rep. Ryan lives in a magical world: “Forget about the immorality of his budget for a moment, (well, don’t, it’s pretty appalling) the fact is that Ryan’s budget offers no real path to economic growth, other than fudged numbers from the Heritage Foundation, and a questionable, slash-and-burn approach to deficit reduction.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls the proposal “cowardly.”

SLIPS AND DIPS Global manufacturing slips. The World Bank reports a dip in most commodity prices. But more and more retailers succumb to the pressure to raise prices to account for higher commodity costs. The good news is that March retail sales are up. Jeffrey Saut explains why he’s bullish about America’s future. A survey says that Japan and oil are dampening the spirits of small businesses. Mark Perry reports increases in rail, temporary help and air traffic. John Cleese issues a terror alert.

OVER 50,000 HIRED (TODAY) Nathaniel Cahners Hindman asks if the new businesses created since the downturn began will help the economy? Joe Light of The Wall Street Journal says that company sites beat online job boards and social media for job seekers. McDonald’s will hire 50,000 people — in one day. For those of us looking for college grads, a study says the best place to find them is on LinkedIn. For those of us looking for oddballs I suggest looking no further than WorldCon 2011. Career Builder reports that the hiring outlook is the strongest in three years.

AN E-MAIL BREACH Investors are worried about Cisco. MSNBC’s Bob Sullivan explains what’s behind last week’s Epsilon e-mail breach and how it affects us. Yahoo creates a Web site dedicated to the royal wedding. Steve Kehro explains how to commercialize your Facebook fan base: “When guided properly by a community manager, (fans) can quickly develop into brand evangelists. This works best when brands have a storehouse of interactive creative assets to accompany user-generated content and peer-to-peer dialogue. And, the best part is this can be done effectively with a relatively low amount of overhead.”

NEW MARKETING BUZZWORDS Heidi Cohen explains what we need to know about QR Codes. Amber Naslund explains how she “PWNS” her in box. Some feel that the new trend in press releases is humor: “When Groupon disclosed its $950 million round of financing in January, it issued a press release headlined ‘Groupon Raises, Like, A Billion Dollars.’” Fred Sexton, a marketing blogger, thinks Charlie Sheen could be the craziest marketer of all time.

THE END OF SOCIAL MEDIA? Social media marketing campaigns disappoint both Pepsi and Burger King and Jonathan Salem Baskin, a brand strategist, has a reasonable suggestion: “(Companies) need to discover new ways to do the old things that still matter: Offer products and services that someone truly needs, admitting that you want to sell stuff to them, and then properly serving them after they’ve given you their business.” Jim Lastinger thinks that Facebook is in decline: “If you’ve been using Facebook since the beginning, then you’re more likely to see it becoming increasingly meaningless, which is a sad, but predictable, evolution. Back when Facebook was new it was actually exciting to check your stream and see what was happening because the friends that you had were people that you actually wanted to keep in touch with. Twenty Facebook friends in 2005 is worth about 250 Facebook friends today.” Go-Daddy’s social media efforts also fail.

FINALLY! Repeal of the detested 1099 regulation has been passed by the Senate and awaits the president’s signature.

FIGHTING THE MAN Business groups and legal observers nationwide are closely monitoring a small family-owned California company caught up in a potentially precedent-setting foreign bribery trial. Builders and fire officials in Florida spar over a sprinkler rule. The National Federation of Independent Business in Florida vows to hold lawmakers to their promises.

OPPORTUNITIES A Chinese luxury Web site is looking for products to sell after getting a $20 million investment. More TV viewers are cutting the cord. Retailers take note: 25 percent of shopping conversations are posted online from consumers while they are shopping in your store. Ever wonder why sales of Coke to Jewish people increase this time of year? Ucilia Wang reports that utilities will have to change “as more home and business owners install solar panels, wind turbines and other electricity- and heat-generating equipment.” An enterprising guy figures out how to suck coins from vending machines. The online table booking business is taking off. FounderLY introduces an open platform for sharing start-up stories. Some small businesses are looking across the border to expand.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH The Small Business Administration extends its real estate program through 2012. Dun Bradstreet is offering free credit-building advice this month. According to a new study, 75 percent of  banking fraud on small and midsize business this past year occurred online. Scott Shane tells the government “next time you do a bailout, do a better job with small business.” As for me, next recession I’m going into the pet business. Jim Basey, chairman and chief executive of Centennial Bank in Denver explains why small banks are good for small business — as long as we don’t bank on a Friday.

GOVERNORS, BIG AND SMALL Iowa’s governor intends to ease rules for small businesses. To generate more small-business jobs in her state, especially in potentially lucrative fields like technology, a New York senator lists a series of legislative steps she is introducing or co-sponsoring. Somebody’s aiming at small-business owners in Colorado for a scam. The Kauffman Foundation lists the six states with the highest start-up rates. And wait a second — this child actually got to be governor of New Jersey for a day?

IN PRAISE OF OLD PEOPLE Jodi Glickman gives some advice on leading older employees. For example: “Be confident. Your first task is to come from a place of strength when talking to your (older) employees or your team. Start with what you know. Speak with conviction. Give those you manage a clear sense of where you’re headed with any new project or client. Assume that your ideas are good ones until you hear otherwise.” Take heed — because if you don’t manage your old people properly, they may shut down your country’s access to the Internet.

COMPETITION USA Today introduces the 2011 Small Business Challenge. Ernst Young is putting a call out for some entrepreneurial winning women. Hewlett-Packard offers 10,000 ways to build your business — and $10,000, too.

LEADERSHIP Victoria Livschitz explains how she shattered the glass ceiling. A Wall Street Journal report explains why some people get so much done on so little sleep. Google’s Larry Page spends $900 million his first day as chief executive.

TAXES Time is running out to claim $1.1 billion in 2007 tax refunds.

NEW PRODUCTS A new iPhone app counts your calories when you take a picture of your next meal. Richard Branson’s next venture is under water. Google is creating $100 million of original content for its YouTube channels.


BEST REASON TO QUIT THE INTERNET Julien Smith, a blogger, explains why: “Our brains are not wired to be made happy by the Internet. Our emotions, like fear and joy, are based in a primal understanding of the world. This is something we can’t escape. Saying the Web is important to your life is like saying that television is important. It might be social, sure, but it’s still media. It can help connect but it also divides in a very fundamental way. Touching a screen isn’t the same as touching a person. The best stuff happens outside the Web. Outside is new and frightening, not comfortable.”

BEST REASON NOT TO TRUST THE MEDIA How can you trust anyone who falls for this April Fool’s joke?

BEST EXAMPLE OF OUR SHALLOW SOCIETY The Economist says it’s not about the clothes you wear — it’s about the label: “In (one) experiment, volunteers watched one of two videos of the same man being interviewed for a job. In one, his shirt had a logo; in the other, it did not. The logo led observers to rate the man as more suitable for the job, and even earned him a 9 percent higher salary recommendation.”

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Does the way people dress affect your decision to buy, sell or hire? I know it can affect mine.

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=329d07c018e1f2ef31600fbcbb8003ae

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