June 25, 2024

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: We’re Watching Japan, Libya and Hugo Chávez


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

THE QUAKE IN JAPAN, A GOOFBALL IN VENEZUELA Japanese earthquake damage is estimated at $310 billion and could be the costliest natural disaster ever. Japanese exports suffer. Kate Rogers of Fox revisits how to protect your business from catastrophe. “Small-business owners can determine if they should be seeking disaster coverage by weighing their investment in the business itself, among other factors. If the business is the sole form of income, the risk is much greater than if it is a hobby or part-time project.” Elsewhere around the world, the war industry gets a boost in Libya. And Hugo Chávez of Venezuela says capitalism may have destroyed life on Mars.

REAL ESTATE FALLS, JOBS RISE Mark Thoma says commodity prices are increasing because of world demand. A small-business owner in Georgia is trying not to pass on the cost of high gas prices. Detroit’s population declines 25 percent. Existing-home sales fall to the lowest on record. Meredith Whitney, an investment adviser, says, “Unless the government comes out with a 50-year mortgage, this market is in trouble longer term.” Gallup’s job-creation index is the highest since September 2008. Durable goods orders fall.

ANNE HATHAWAY AND WARREN BUFFETT The Fed earns $79 billion and predicts that the recovery is taking hold. Nonetheless, one of its officials warns that the United States is approaching insolvency. Meanwhile, Warren E. Buffett predicts growth but some think his company’s stock is buoyed by Anne Hathaway. Household balances sheets continue to improve. Scott Grannis says “the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey came in very strong. It hasn’t been this strong since the economic boom times of the early 1980s. It’s very difficult to ignore the mounting evidence of a strong economic recovery.” Architect billings increased slightly in February.

DEFICIT THRILLS The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is thrilled to see 64 senators calling for comprehensive deficit reduction. But Stan Collender, a budget expert, isn’t thrilled at all: “Does a letter that is so vanilla that it could have been written at any time over the past 40 years really indicate any movement on the current budget debate?” James Pethokoukis of Reuters says he thinks President Obama’s budget is wildly dangerous.

A NEW DEFINITION OF SMALL BUSINESS Timothy F. Geithner says that American small businesses need greater access to capital to spur innovation. The Small Business Administration, facing even more cuts, is for the first time in more than 25  years proposing to change the way it defines small businesses. JPMorgan Chase says it will cease its debit card rewards program because of new legislation that would restrict fees. Missouri gets $27 million in incentives for small-business growth. The Small Business Savings Account Act makes its way through Congress.

TAKING CREDIT The health care legislation celebrates its first anniversary and Ezra Klein defends it by saying, “Is it a perfect piece of legislation? Not even close. Will everything work as expected? Almost certainly not. But for all its flaws, it’s a good law. And it’s worth trying.” Many small businesses are still not taking advantage of the health care tax credit.

TECHNOLOGY UPGRADES A Google project manager pitches cloud computing: “Web-based software is much less costly for buyers than traditional software, and programmers can be so much more innovative, that it’s worthwhile for an entrepreneur to say, O.K., let’s start from scratch.” Paul Mah, an information technology expert, gives us eight reasons to upgrade to Internet Explorer 9. Firefox 4 is released. Microsoft jumps to second in video search and introduces a new PC tool for small business. Netflix suffers an outage. BlackBerry’s tablet is scheduled to arrive in April. ATT buys T-Mobile but not for the reason you think. And boy. has computer technology come a long way in 10 years.

THE GROWING APPS MARKET Information Week reports that 38 percent of small- and medium-size businesses depend on mobile apps. Amazon introduces an Android app store, and Apple is not pleased. Minda Zetlin of Inc. asks if you should make a tablet app for your business: “The answer is likely a yes if one, your product or service is one where having tablet access could benefit customers; and two, your customers are the type who use tablets.” Just in time: a flood of royal wedding apps.

SPEAKING OF THE BIG WEDDING General Electric releases a much-needed William and Kate refrigerator. Jack Daniels introduces a new product — perhaps to help us forget the royal wedding. Danny Wong gives us three winning ideas to consider. A dating site features a new single man every day. Score plans an e-business learning Web site for small business. Small Business Television is rebranding itself and has introduced a new Web site. Small Business Opportunities magazine is doing the same. A small business introduces its first electric car. Sales of e-books have doubled. The group buying industry is projected to grow to $2.7 billion this year.

TWITTER’S TAX BREAKS Casey Hibbard explains how one company used social media to make $300,000 in a weekend. Robert Scoble discovers the future of work: “Just when we thought we figured out the new ’social enterprise’ market along comes Convofy.” Twitter shows San Francisco’s businesses how to save a bundle on taxes. A one-legged wrestler shows us how to become a national champ.

IT’S GOOD TO BE GREEN A woman in Canada gets a standing ovation for being green. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce holds its green marketing event on Wednesday. The Clinton Global Initiative holds its university conference this week with a focus on entrepreneurship and a live webcast.

ADVICE FOR SXSW: HAND OUT PILLOWS The Global Entrepreneurship Congress meets in Shanghai this week. April 2 is International Pillow Fight Day. The South By Southwest conference: as seen from a bunch of social media video bloggers — which is yet another reason I won’t attend next year. American Airlines offers a big promo for California business travelers. John Jantsch wants to know the worst business advice you ever received. A third-base coach gives life advice.

SEARCHING FOR HELP WITH SEARCH An American Express survey finds that more than half of small-business owners say they need help with search-engine marketing. A video about why it’s not important to go viral goes viral. Dharmesh Shah shares a few low-cost advertising ideas for start-ups and cautions readers to “think of advertising not as a long-term traffic strategy but as a testing tool to improve your Web site and find out more about your ideal visitor.” An advertising blog discusses how to develop a relationship with the media. Lucy Thornton comes up with a few good marketing themes for April.

A 100-MILLION-MEMBER NETWORK LinkedIn officially reaches 100 million members. Seems like a good time to read the co-founder’s 10 rules for entrepreneurial success.

TRIED TALKING? Whitson Gordon of Lifehacker gives us his top 10 tricks for working while on the go. Example: “Whether it’s that old, dead iPod or the smartphone you’re already carrying with you, you probably have gigs of unused storage lying around waiting to be filled with portable apps, files and other digital travel necessities.” Melanie Brooks of Workawesome.com explains why she uses a leather day planner instead of a smartphone. Greg Schinkel warns against hiding behind our keyboards: “Before you hit ‘reply to all’ and send back a zinger to someone who maligned you, stop and go talk to the person.”


BEST WAY TO GET YOUR CUSTOMERS TO LOVE YOU Ben Yoskovitz talks about the benefits of delighting your customers: “The rewards are immense. Loyal, rabid fans tweet shamelessly about how incredible you are, how valuable your Web application is and how successful your start-up will be.”

BEST WAY TO MARKET WITHOUT A BUDGET Shisha Dublin-Green explains how to market without a marketing budget: “Form an alliance: if you have a hair salon that’s mostly frequented by women with young children and elderly women, you can offer a service whereby you arrange to do their grocery shopping whilst they’re in the salon. You may decide to form an alliance with a local reputable grocer or delivery service to provide this for your customers. This could also be a way to reach out to new customers via your local grocer.”

BEST ADVICE FOR BOOTSTRAPPERS The Smart Bear says that the things money cannot buy are still the most valuable things: “Show proof of your ability to master the things money cannot buy — your ability to learn, change and improve.”

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: How do you bring in customers without spending a lot? We do free webinars every month.

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group PC, 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=063441d74bc12fe3942c9e2c46366c7f

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