A weekly roundup of small-business developments.
What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.
The Budget: SkyNotFall
The sequestration takes effect, and according to Keith Hennessy, the impact is: “skynotfall.” Stephen Colbert offers a creative solution, and things are so bad that one ex-con is accused of sneaking back into jail. Some economists believe the sequestration doesn’t cut spending at all, but $92 million is whacked from the Small Business Administration’s budget, and Kelly Phillips Erb says some small businesses are already taking a hit. A small-business round table discusses the debt. These are four things to know about the next big budget battle, and do you also know who is one of the most influential people in the formation of the White House economics team?
Small Business Statistics: The Bright Side
The latest employment numbers bring “great news.” Despite the Dow Jones industrial average’s record close, small businesses are still struggling and although the recovery is lifting profits, many analysts conclude it’s still not adding jobs. A survey shows steady job gains in February and Intuit’s small-business employment index edged up. Moderate growth continued in the Philadelphia region. But small-business hiring was down in Pennsylvania and small-business closings increased in Missouri. Lending to small companies weakened in January, and Destiny Bennett explains the real reason small-business owners are not getting loans. A survey finds more baby boomer owners are selling their businesses. On the bright side: now is a great time to be in the tax business!
The Economy: Surpassing Saudi Arabia
The United States was the world’s largest petroleum producer in November, surpassing Saudi Arabia for the first time in 10 years — but an oil price analyst is doubtful about the potential of American oil production. Lance Roberts believes an asset bubble is indeed growing. Ezra Klein offers a few reasons to be optimistic. Economic activity in the nonmanufacturing sector increased for the 38th consecutive month, and activity in the manufacturing sector increased for the third consecutive month. Home prices nationwide increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.7 percent. Lumber prices approached an eight-year high. And these 100 facts about the economy will blow your mind.
Management: Don’t Quit the Day Job (Yet)
Forbes publishes its annual list of billionaires. GoDaddy’s founder warns against quitting your day job too soon. Mikey Rox lists 25 ways to raise your creativity, including: skim through a magazine. In this video, a blogger says Groupon and its former chief executive, Andrew Mason, should be ashamed. Marc Andreessen and B. Horowitz take a crack at annotating Mr. Mason’s goodbye memo. Jeff Cornwall tells a story of how he knew it was time to fire a customer. Patricia Lotich lists her top 10 small-business resources. These are five potentially disastrous financial mistakes every entrepreneur should know about. An online grocery store uses its customer-purchase histories to predict when items will run out. A receivables management firm offers an “A to Z of receivables management.”
Your People: The Cool Kids
Yahoo reins in telecommuters, and Best Buy copies it. A study reveals that more than 600,000 commuters travel more than 90 minutes to work every day. A new national survey finds more than a third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunity for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors. Kirsten Chiala takes a look at how companies and employees are benefiting from “telework.” Richard Juman suggests three ways to inspire a healthy corporate culture. Chucky terrorizes drive-thru employees. A company offers an alternative to the student loan by connecting prospective employees with potential backers who are willing to invest in their career goals. Data crunchers are now the cool kids on campus and these are the top 50 apps employees sneak into work. This is one of the craziest buzzer beaters you’ll ever see.
Start-Up: Blowing It
After selling her start-up for $70 million at age 25, the founder blows through her fortune and heads to prison. These are the steps to follow to set up a home-based small business, and these are the funniest home Wi-Fi names. A new contest challenges you to explain what your start-up does and why anyone should care in six seconds. A crowdfunding site is started to drive the “new American dream.” But a start-up guru doubts that crowdfunding will happen.
Around the Country: A Start-Up Video Store?
These are the 10 American companies with the best reputations. And here are 13 stores you will never shop at again (but this passionate owner of a video-rental store in Pennsylvania doesn’t care). A “Grey’s Anatomy” star tries to turn around a failing coffee business in Seattle. Texas leads the country in business relocations and expansions. The 2013 Startup Law Summit is scheduled this week in Chicago (a city that needs a “start-up growth anchor” according to Microsoft’s C.E.O.). San Francisco’s Bay Bridge lights up. Social entrepreneurship programs at Yale and Stanford Universities are scheduled for high school students this summer. Here are four underrated tech hubs to watch, and here are the 10 cities with the highest tax rates.
Around the World: Singapore Is No. 1
Singapore ranks as the top Tier 1 economy since 1980. German car sales plunge as Europe’s auto crisis deepens, and some believe the fourth euro crisis cycle of panic has officially begun. But private business activity in the euro zone in February was not as bad as feared. Some believe that Spain still has a long way to fall. Since 2008, Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden have cost the shipping industry $900 million to $3.3 billion per year. A plague of locusts descends upon Egypt. Swiss voters approve limits on executive pay. This is why Auntie Anne’s Pretzels failed in China. Tim Fernholz claims that America is terrible at globalization. iYogi makes a big small-business bet in India.
Social Media: Pronto!
Facebook redesigns its news feed. Twitter kills TweetDeck. Mark Veverka warns that if your company or business does not have a social media strategy, it better get one pronto! A coming webinar features a social media expert who will explain how to use Facebook and LinkedIn for lead generation. Nick Bilton writes that it “seems as if Facebook is not only promoting my links on news feeds when I pay for them, but also possibly suppressing the ones I do not pay for.” Hospitals with the most Facebook likes have lower death rates. Jeff Bullas explains how to use Pinterest’s group boards to get more exposure for your business. These are the basics of social media marketing for business-to-business companies. Here are nine amusing travel hacks, and the Raiders’ Desmond Bryant is the target of a hilarious meme. An awkward British guy invites Mila Kunis out drinking.
SXSW: Ten Austin Start-Ups
Here are the 10 Austin start-ups you need to meet at South By Southwest this week. Pizza Hut plans to hold 140-second job interviews there. You can get a free ride in the SXSW TechCab by confessing your sins. An Austin entrepreneur shares his SXSW tips. Andrea Swensson explains why she’s not going this year.
Marketing: Too Watery?
Kelley Robertson says this is how not to use a referral. Derrick Daye shares seven ways to generate ideas from customers. Allison Carter warns you not to start content marketing if you are not willing to wait at least six months before seeing results. Online survey tools may be the most effective way to engage existing customers. Chris Robinson explains how business owners can increase site traffic through video. Here’s the only way to market with SnapChat. Wal-Mart introduces a program supporting businesses owned by women worldwide. This is how Budweiser responded to accusations that its beer was too watery.
Cool Ideas: Forgive Us
A company offers digitized magazine subscriptions for waiting rooms. A new type of silicone exhibits both viscous and elastic properties. A flexible battery stretches 300 percent. This video explains how 3-D printing will change the world, but this infographic shows how long the 3-D printing revolution will take. Apple is said to be planning an iWatch and a fingerprint-sensing iPhone, and it now seems that the latest fashion is wearable computers. An entrepreneur auctions off his name to the highest bidder. To predict trends before they happen, G.B. Oliver recommends keeping an eye on pop culture. A company regrets printing Bible quotations on toilet paper.
Technology: Google Glass for Guys
Evernote is hacked. Jon Xavier lists seven Apple products whose reality didn’t live up to the hype. Adriana Gardella wants to know how you handle laid-back technology vendors. These are four apps for getting rid of paperwork. A new case helps you get a better Wi-Fi signal on your iPhone. A programming error costs Microsoft 561 million euros. A survey shows that small businesses have heavy exposure to data breaches. A new backup tool will help manage your overstuffed Gmail account. And here’s how guys will be using Google Glass in the future.
Tweet of the Week
@alexia – “You going to SXSW(i)?” — Everyone even vaguely related to tech, right now.
The Week’s Best
Bob Phibbs wants to know if you are too weak to become stronger: “It isn’t so much what you decide to reach out for, but it is that moment of decision. Going from the weakness of I’m overwhelmed, I don’t need anyone else, it won’t work, etc. to one of strength — this will allow me to work smarter, focus my attention, make my business competitive. That’s why I pay for my Web designers to carry out my vision. That’s why I paid for a one-day coaching with one of the smartest marketers around. That’s why I do a lot of things. And I know a lot of you do too.”
This Week’s Question: Why aren’t you going to SXSW this year?