What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.
The Big Story: Heading for a Cliff
After a disappointing small-business optimism report from the National Federation of Independent Business, the president pledges to extend the Bush tax cuts for people making less than $250,000 a year and then signs off on a new small-business package. The chairman of the House Small Business Committee responds. Keith Koffler says the president’s proposal would “slam 620,000 small businesses.” Jared Bernstein says, “Boy, are Americans not overtaxed.” Here’s a fact check. The Senate moves forward with small-business tax breaks. This is why small businesses aren’t hiring. Paul B. Farrell says America’s “fiscal cliff” is actually four cliffs. Peter Schiff warns that “the debt burden that the United States will face when interest rates rise presents a much larger fiscal cliff.” Why Paris Hilton’s dogs are better off than you. Nancy Pelosi dances.
The Economy: Taking Credit
Lou Basenese offers five bullish charts for American stocks. Consumer credit jumps, and here’s what it means. Manufacturing technology and conveyor orders are up, perhaps because of the used parts bought by this guy. A Pew study finds that 84 percent of Americans have higher family incomes than did their parents. Nine states have regained all jobs lost to the recession. The housing bust appears to be over. The price of oil drops. There were 3.6 million job openings on the last business day of May, little changed from 3.4 million in April. But May’s job openings and labor turnover continue to look positive. Greg Mankiw says we have not recovered, and a research group says that a recession has already begun. Dwaine van Vuuren disagrees. Corn production in the Midwest is likely to suffer because of the recent heat wave and drought. Our trade deficit (pdf) increased over the past year. Although mortgage rates are at historic lows, mortgage activity increased only slightly. Even so, Otis Elevator keeps going up, and, sorry, but those ballplayers really aren’t as tough as they seem.
Management: The Million-Dollar Tweet
How a few young entrepreneurs turned a Twitter post from Richard Branson into a million bucks. Cara Luckiesh explains how small businesses can think big and grow fast. Ever wonder which big companies are the most — and least — open in their dealings? A new study predicts that physical stores will evolve into showrooms. Peter Cohan suggests six steps to make your product a success. Lisa Hephner asks, is your business really small? Danielle Rodabaugh helps female entrepreneurs better understand surety bonds. Marty Nemko gives hiring advice, including: “After the interview, walk viable candidates to their car. Adopt a more informal tone. Often that gets the candidate to feel, ‘O.K., the interview’s over. Now I can drop the veneer.’” For manufacturing jobs, workers brush up on math. Meredith Wood explains how to use a sample collection letter to make sure you are paid. Melanie Benson Strick offers suggestions for recovering from a dry spell, including: “Think back to why you wanted your business in the first place.” Kira M. Newman proclaims the 10 commandments for entrepreneurs.
Marketing: Groupon’s New Deal
Here are the 12 most misunderstood English words, according to Kristin Piombino. Taco Bell cooks up edible QR codes. Richard Saintvilus thinks Groupon is about to expire — but Andrew Mason tells Bloomberg Businessweek that Groupon wants to be the “operating system” for Main Street businesses. AJ Kumar shares his five-step guide to creating a successful “inbound marketing” plan, including: “Create your viral campaign pieces. To spread the word about your business, your inbound marketing campaigns may include text-based articles that can be shared via social networking profiles, infographic images or videos.” Here’s an awesome way to handle telemarketers. John Jantsch says small businesses should consider sponsoring tribes: “The notion of tribes has become a commonly accepted way to characterize groups of people that are passionate about an idea, product, company or initiative, and I think it applies broadly to the community building that most businesses realize is the key to success.” Here are 16 great marketing ideas for reusing derelict space. Meryl Evans suggests five steps for reputation management, including “snatching up all domain names associated with your business.” Susan Waldman offers a few small-business branding lessons learned from Zappos.
Social Media: Whose Tweet Is It, Anyway?
Global Internet advertising has double-digit growth and outpaces other media. Yet grocery retailers still rely on print circulars. Ann Smarty offers 12 essential social media cheat sheets. Alan Norton says there are 10 reasons he avoids social networking services, including the unclear ownership of the intellectual content that is posted. Amy Porterfield shares three little-known metrics that can help optimize your Facebook page. Kylie Jane Wakefield offers four ways to connect with customers on Tumblr. Mike from Crowdspring has a few lean marketing tips for increasing your company’s lifetime value with e-mail campaigns.
Around the Country: Fastest-Growing Retailers
The Small Business Administration’s chief, Karen Mills, will give the keynote address at a small-business symposium in New York on Tuesday. The winner of this small-business contest in Baltimore gets one year of free electricity. A Houston vendor is charged with bankruptcy fraud. Scranton’s mayor slashes all public worker wages to $7.25 per hour and another California city considers bankruptcy. There are 10 reasons Apple, Facebook and Google chose North Carolina for their mega-data centers. These are the 10 fastest-growing retailers in the country. Federal officials in Eugene, Ore., try to end a 10-week protest. New York is converting payphones into hotspots. In Sun Valley, media and technology heavyweights come out at night. And in case you missed it, here’s a very close look at the Fourth of July, San Diego-style.
Around the World: China’s Inflationary Vortex
As its economy cools, China, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, is on the cusp of a deflationary vortex. While digital payments are still too costly for most small businesses, Starbucks brings mobile payments to Canada and Britain. These countries think the rich deserve to be rich. The most profitable company in the world is in Russia.
Red Tape: A Fall in Spending?
A few cigar shop owners take action to oppose regulations. A Japanese- American family shares its tale of entrepreneurship and immigration. Businesses in South Carolina are required to use the federal e-Verify program when hiring. Regulatory spending is expected to fall next year.
Technology: How to Make a Big Mac
Yahoo loses 453,000 passwords. Symantec finds that a third of global targeted attacks are aimed at small businesses. The Internet of things is coming to a grocery store near you. This start-up could change the way the entire app industry works. Apple products are not green enough for San Francisco. Here’s what it’s like in Facebook’s offices. General Electric gets into the industrial battery business. Amazon could release a Kindle smartphone. Here’s how to make a Big Mac at home. This is what food truck vendors can teach information technology pros. John Brandon thinks these five tech tools for people management are brilliant.
Tweets of the Week
Up at 5am writing on deadline and cursing my readers. I thought once you run your own biz, you get to set deadlines. So wrong.
You’re externally funded, self-funded or profitable. There is no such thing as bootstrapping. Founders’ time has value.
I’m so happy scientists found the God Particle but can they please now make the Facebook Mobile App run faster than my 1990s Apple?
When your e-mail contains an Executive Summary and Table of Contents, it’s too long. Try again.
The Week’s Bests
Adam Fletcher says there are nine signs that you’ve become a Start-Up Hipster, including, “You are Scandinavian/ You dream of being Scandinavian”: “Scandinavians appeal to Hipsters because they are beautiful, which makes them look great in striped V-necks and press photos; smart, as they speak five languages; and they regularly win those best country polls on quality of life and education, but crucially, they are also a little aloof and mysterious. They also regularly sport killer mustaches. Plus, weren’t the founders of Skype Scandinavian? Somewhere around there anyway. Definitely a cold country, with elk.”
Justin Nowak lists five reasons you shouldn’t start a business alone: “Brainstorming with other people is the best way to figure out what your business needs to succeed. By bouncing around ideas, you and your partner can come up with brilliant strategies that can take your business to new heights. You can even use digital tools like collaboration apps to communicate new observations and ideas in between your face-to-face meetings.”
Peter Bregman has a strategy for reducing stress: “Change your expectations. In other words, get used to not getting what you want. I know this isn’t consistent with the kind of go-get-’em attitude most of us have been taught to embrace. But most of the time, fighting reality is not worth the effort. Either you can’t change what’s around you, or the fight is more stressful than the reward.”
This Week’s Question: What’s the most stressful aspect of running your business?