This Week In Small Business: Surviving Shark Tank
By GENE MARKS
What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.
Washington: Competing Budgets
The Republican House Budget Committee chairman proposes cutting $4.6 trillion over 10 years. The Democratic Senate Budget Committee chairmanoffers a plan combining spending cuts and tax increases. This chart compares the proposals. Cullen Roche believes that government deficits have beendriving corporate profits. Here are five scenes from a sequestered America. Small businesses in military towns are bracing for a hit, but so far the sequester is having little impact on ports. Questions are raised about how the Federal Reserve can withdraw its monetary stimulus without stoking inflation. At least the Twinkie is coming back.
The Economy: Competitive Vigor
Small-business confidence is on the rise, but this chart shows that small businesses are not helping the jobs recovery. Why not? Owners say they can’t find qualified workers. The Employment Trends Index is up, however, and a new report finds that more than 110,000 clean energy jobs were created in 2012. Tracey Schelmetic thinks that big companies may be the answer to small-business growth. Gasoline pushes up producer prices. Manufacturingtechnology orders are off to a slow start this year, but Joseph G. Carson reports that manufacturing is restoring its competitive vigor. Retail sales increased in February, and many companies increased their restocking in January. Companies are sending a record amount of cash back to their investors, and Lance Roberts explains what the markets and Taylor Swifthave in common.
Your People: Nap Time
A new employee tip jar takes credit cards. More employers are setting up nap rooms for weary workers. Kevin Herring shares some advice for getting more production out of low performers. Here are three reasons your tech personmay leave. Rick Hampson digs further into the work-from-home tug of war. Shane J. Lopez says that hopeful employees are more engaged and more productive. This company’s ultimate value is making its employees happy. Intuit and LinkedIn team up to help small businesses “hire smart.” Beverly Flaxington lists seven steps for hiring and retaining the right person.
Finance: Surviving ‘Shark Tank‘
An uptick is reported in small-business loans from big banks, and a lender to small businesses expands to cover 25 states. Karl Stark and Bill Stewart give advice for surviving “Shark Tank,” including: “Show vulnerability.” Here are five nontraditional ways to access capital in 2013. And here are five tips for getting Esther Dyson’s money. Eileen Fisher invites socially conscious women entrepreneurs to apply to its annual business grant program.
Start-Up: Ask Yourself 10 Questions
Catherine Alford has a few ideas for making money extremely fast and easy. The number of start-ups has nearly doubled over the last two decades in New York, particularly in the Bronx. A start-up chief executive’s advice is to “flame out hard.” Alina Dizik wants you to ask yourself 10 questions before quitting a job to start a business.
Management: Incredibly Aberrant
Intacct’s Robert Reid shares his thoughts on building a cloud business. This video explains how to be a boss. Sheryl Sandberg is pushing women to “lean in,” but Penelope Trunk thinks Ms. Sandberg is “an incredibly aberrant example of women at work.” Dennis Crowley talks about Foursquare’s biggest mistake. Pete Leibman says there are ways to become an expert on anything. Mehdi Maghsoodnia believes that in order to grow, you sometimes need to partner with your competition. Dawn Fotopulos says there are six tactics for winning negotiations. Dan Norris shares five sobering truths about small-business analytics.
Sales And Marketing: A Lesson From Dave Matthews
A webinar on March 26 will help you understand two marketing roles your company needs to fill. Jim Connolly says there are three things to focus on if you want to see amazing marketing results. Andrea Johnson suggests three steps to help sales-and-marketing people improve their productivity. Brad Smith explains what the Dave Matthews Band’s new CD can teach you about business follow-up. Billy Joel stuns Vanderbilt with a once-in-a-lifetimeanswer to a student’s question. Art Sobczak wants you to discover what’s missing in this cold-call opening statement.
Cash Flow: Money on the Table
Investing in a surge protector is just one of 10 things Adam Gottlieb says you should be doing to lower utility bills. Jeff Mathers offers a few tips to cutoperating costs in 2013. John Stow explains why the details are so important when you’re buying. Here are a few examples of how you’re leaving money on the table.
Customer Service: What Would Mum Do?
If you want to improve your customer service, ask what Mum would do. Don’t forget that “customers are human, not C.R.M. entries” — one of Pratik Dholakiya’s nine principles of entrepreneurship. Kelly Gregorio says customers are one of four groups you must always make time for. Jim Smith says customer loyalty is one of six opportunities to grow your business in 2013.
Mobile: ‘mCommerce Monsters’
Here are 10 mobile apps no conference attendee should be without. This ishow Google makes money from mobile. A new study concludes that college students are “mCommerce monsters.” Martin Michalik explains why mobile marketing should be integrated into every campaign. Sprint offers special discounts to spur the growth of small businesses and reduce their wireless costs. Baseball fans can now upgrade their tickets midgame.
Online: Marketplace Fairness
New research shows more than 60 percent of small- and mid-size businessesare unaware of new Internet domain extensions. This is what online sellers need to know about the Marketplace Fairness Act. Three nasty landing-page habits may be driving your prospects away. Microsoft’s Outlook and Hotmailgo down for a while. Here are the five pages you must have on your business Web site. Forrester predicts that online retail sales will hit $370 billion by 2017.
Social Media: Tips From Dr. Suess
Here are 15 social media tips from Dr. Suess, and these are the pitfalls to avoid on social media. Pinterest introduces a new analytic tool for businesses. Vistaprint announces a new tool to help small-business owners find, create and post content. Kerry Gorgone warns against creeping people out.
Red Tape: Tax Tips
The 2013 Federal Register has surpassed 15,000 pages. Here are a few tax-preparation basics and 10 tax tips for small-business owners, and the important federal tax dates for 2013. Applying for health insurance may not be easy for your employees. These online calculators can help youunderstand and comply with the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Some small businesses are casting a wary eye on minimum-wage legislation, and Bryan Caplan believes “it is a symbol of larger evils.”
Around the Country: B.B.B. Gives Itself an F
At SXSW in Austin last week, there were fewer start-ups (but more marketers and media). This 12-year-old was pitching his app at the event. A comingawards ceremony in St. Louis celebrates the spirit of innovation, collaboration and imagination in microbusinesses. A program from a utility company will provide $30 million in grants to residents and businesses in three New York boroughs hit by Hurricane Sandy. A Mississippi father gets the best obituary ever. North Dakota’s oil and gas industry just keeps growing. The Small Business Administration kicks off a young entrepreneurseries with events in five cities. The UPS Store is hoping to help small businesses score during March Madness. The University of Texas is investingin student start-ups. The Better Business Bureau in Los Angeles gives itself an F.
Around the World: Valley of Death
China’s steel production gains but a professor of economics says the country’s debt is exploding. Here are 30 young entrepreneurial disruptors in China. Thousands of Chinese students get pumped for exams, while the government tells people to ignore the dead pigs and drink the water. Japan’smachinery orders fall 13 percent. Thirty children from around the world share their favorite toys for the camera. Although some feel the United Kingdom is one of the hottest landing spots for overseas companies that want to make an entrance into the European Union, the country flirts with another recession (could this be related to its “valley of death?”). Nineteen high-impact entrepreneurs from around the world join a network that is leading a global movement to catalyze long-term economic growth. The Reserve Bankof Australia gets hacked. Apple stores in France are banned from forcingemployees to work late. And is this what Americans look like to North Koreans?
Technology: Google Glass Banned
Will computers be controlled with a wave of your hand? Google Glass isbanned by a bar in Seattle. Meanwhile, there is a Google Glass app thatrecognizes people from what they’re wearing. Jeff Gordon takes a test drive in this new Pepsi Max commercial. This photo sums up 25 years of storage. A study finds that only 16 percent of users will retry a malfunctioning app. Here are five free apps for the out-of-office entrepreneur, and here are five ways toincrease the security on your point-of-sale system. Here is the ultimate Linux starter kit for small businesses. Melissa Riofrio spent some time inChromebook exile and found her life got simpler: “I’m not ready to surrender all my content to the cloud, but it’s certainly handy for day-to-day use.” The personal information for a bunch of celebrities is hacked. PCMag offers a new tool to check your Internet speed. PJ Gupta says that having a bring-your-own-device policy is a win for everyone.
Tweet of The Week
@joshuatopolsky – Austin is crackling with a youthful, electric energy. Or I’m being forcibly Tasered. Either way, it’s a lot of fun.
This Week’s Best
Marty Nemko proposes six fresh ideas for a budding entrepreneur, including an innovation in clothing: “Buttoning and unbuttoning a dress shirt takes about two minutes. In our busy lives, saving even 10 minutes a week isn’t trivial. Why not create shirts that, instead of buttons, have Velcro? Not only is it faster, the lines are cleaner, and of course, it’s a boon to people with arthritis, Parkinson’s, who have had a stroke, etc.”
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