August 16, 2022

You’re the Boss: This Week in Small Business: Worse Than We Think?

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


A weekly roundup of small-business developments.

Happy Independence Day!

At Monday’s cookout, did you take a moment to think about what could have happened if we had lost the war?

The Deficit: Is It Worse Than We Think?

Many are expecting a two-part deficit reduction program. The BBC’s Justin Webb asks if Americans are in denial over the debt crisis. A reduction in our debt rating could cost $100 billion. A former governor of the Federal Reserve says the deficit is worse than we think: “Only serious long-term spending reduction in the entitlement area can begin to address the nation’s deficit and debt problems. It should no longer be credible for our elected officials to hide the need for entitlement reforms behind rosy economic and budgetary assumptions.” Paul Krugman thinks the Republicans are blackmailing President Obama. The Treasury secretary considers leaving. James Pethokoukis says the G.O.P. should not go wobbly on taxes: “Axing all the Bush tax cuts would chop three percentage points off gross domestic product growth, according to Goldman Sachs, certainly sending America back into recession. Tax revenue would again plummet.” Jared Bernstein liked the president’s press conference.

The Data: Home Prices Could Be Stabilizing

Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region firmed somewhat in June after stalling in May. Home prices increased in April, and a blogger demonstrates that prices are stabilizing. Consumer spending halted and personal income increased which prompts James Picerno to ask if consumers are starting to save more. (I’m thinking of giving up bacon.) Scott Grannis gives himself mixed reviews on his forecasts at mid-year and reports lower truck tonnage. Investors are warned to prepare for the next oil shock. A new TD Bank survey says that 51 percent of small-business owners are optimistic about the economy and 73 percent expect to meet or exceed revenue projections in the upcoming quarter. Twenty-three percent of everything made since the year 1 A.D. has been made in the past 10 years. Small-business borrowing surges. (Or maybe not.)

Starting Up: Homework Will Never Be Fun

Ben Yoskovitz says that start-ups need to make leaps of faith but not blindly. Here are a few ideas to keep your side business moving while you also keep your day job. A battery start-up flows toward introduction. HP steps up its outreach to start-ups. An Austin firm works on a powerful, portable disinfectant for hospitals. A young company hopes to make homework as much fun as video games. Experts at a New York multicultural small-business conference show would-be entrepreneurs a thing or two. There’s a little house of secrets on the Great Plains. A Twitter alum raises $100 million.

Marketing: F.Y.I. on Q.R. Codes

Anuradha Shukla demonstrates how a few small businesses are using Q.R. codes to improve their social media marketing.’s Tim Brookes follows up with seven great uses for Q.R. Codes and how to generate your own for free. American Express lets small businesses trade points for Facebook ads. An award winning marketer explains how to improve your online marketing. Constant Contact launches a free social media marketing guide for small businesses. A survey reveals area codes have the edge over zip codes in boosting small-business image.

Red Tape: Patent Reform

There are rumors that a corporate tax overhaul is in the works. A cash-constrained Internal Revenue Service would become more automated and show less sensitivity to individuals. The Public Forum’s president, Jonathan Ortmans, asks who won after patent reform passes. Cyndia Zwahlen explains how small claims court can be a big help for merchants. New legislation would prohibit American companies from exporting hazardous electronic waste to developing nations. Will California’s “Amazon tax” kill 25,000 small businesses?

Ideas and Opportunities: Gooooaaal!

Say it ain’t so: professional soccer is starting to outdraw professional baseball. Here are five hot industries every small business should know about.

Success Strategies: Work Out, Make Money

The Kaufman Foundation starts an online education program for aspiring entrepreneurs. Founders reveal books that changed their lives. Figures from the Small Business Administration show that small businesses won deals worth a record $97.9 billion, or 22.7 per cent of the government’s contract spend last year. Small medical practices are adapting to survive. A start-up mentor, Martin Zwilling, feels that a healthy start-up requires a healthy entrepreneur — and Derek Flanzraich provides an entrepreneur’s guide to working out.

Your People: Avoiding Mistakes

Here are 13 insanely cool resumes that led to interviews at Google and other top jobs. Jeff Haden suggests a way to avoid a hiring mistake: “Decide how many individuals who possess your most important attribute will be enough. If you get more, great — if not you’ll still be O.K.” American Airlines announces more benefits for small and medium-sized businesses expanding globally. A workspace idea: floating desk and lamps. Speaking of mistakes, MySpace is sold for $35 million. The Dodgers file for bankruptcy.

Around The Country: Thank You, Mr. Mayor

North Dakota is booming. Virginia is the top state for business. A couple of Reuters bloggers say that most state governments are well equipped to create policies conducive to growth. Philadelphia’s mayor says no to a sick leave bill that could harm small businesses. Gay weddings mean big business and Mayor Bloomberg wants gay people to marry in the Big Apple. Red ants are invading southern states. A few savvy women entrepreneurs lead fast-growing businesses in Atlanta. Minnesota shuts down.

Around the World: Sacrebleu!

Small companies feel the pain in China. In Prague, there’s a new shopping mall that caters just to men. Yahoo is bigger than Mongolia. Vietnam’s high interest and inflation prove a challenge to small-business owners. A U.F.O. is spotted over London. Entrepreneurs are recovering more quickly in France than in the United States!

Finance: Credit Card Tips

A blogger gives strategies for accepting credit cards. Example: “While comparing companies, look to see what additional options are available. One example of this might be swipe capabilities for your cellphone. This allows easy processing by swiping the credit card rather than entering the card numbers by hand.”, and Visa start a new program that will extend small business access to microloans in American cities. My advice is to borrow a few bucks from this guy. The chief operating officer of a cost-containment firm lists five ways we can reduce operating expenses.

Technology: Office 365

Microsoft rolls out Office 365, prompting three small-business questions from Ed Bott. Thomas Claburn lists four reasons Google Apps beats Office 365. Arik Hesseldahl poses seven questions for Google Apps executive Shan Sinha. For example: “When you get into these companies and governments, are you displacing Office and Exchange? Or are you enhancing them or coexisting with them?” Paul Mah shows what we can learn from Dropbox’s security breach: “In my opinion, the fact that cloud storage has to be accessible from any location on the Internet places it at greater risk.” Andreas Bernstrom discusses how 4G will affect the way we communicate. Here’s what our e-mail address says about our computer skills. Network World says desktop PCs are dead. Google introduces its Facebook competitor. Skype now has video calling for the Droid.

The Week Ahead

Factory orders on Tuesday. But this is a week of (un)employment news: ADP’s non-farm employment change numbers and weekly unemployment claims arrive on Thursday, and the official unemployment rate is announced Friday (along with consumer credit numbers). On Wednesday take your Webmaster to lunch (a burger and a Red Bull is probably sufficient).

This Week’s Bests

Advice for Valuing Your Start-Up Bill Clark offers nine steps to consider when valuing your start-up. “You need to consider the time it would take for someone to copy your idea. Simple ideas often have low barriers to entry; they’ll have to fight off “me-too” companies very quickly. For example, Groupon and other ‘deal of the day’ sites. Start-ups with high barriers to entry present complex ideas that may require a lot of time, money and effort, and therefore face less competition. However, high barrier to entry (longer first-to-market exclusivity) may be more attractive, and therefore more valuable, to potential investors.”

Suggestion on How to Be More Productive (and Still Get Eight Hours of Sleep) Prime Sarmiento explains: “Follow your rhythm. Do the most important task at a time which fits your body clock. I’m not a morning lark and prefer to write most of my analytical reports in the afternoon. I can’t force myself to write in the morning – it just won’t happen as my mind is sharper after lunch. I instead spend my mornings on routine stuff: responding to e-mails, drinking coffee and running errands.”

Thoughts on Embracing Change Tory Burch tells entrepreneurs to embrace change: “Entrepreneurs have a great ability to create change, be flexible, build companies and cultivate the kind of work environment in which they want to work.”

This Week’s Question Do you think you’re adaptable to change?

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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