What’s affecting me, my clients and other small-business owners this week.
The Big Story: A Running Mate
Mitt Romney picks Paul Ryan. Here are Mr. Ryan’s positions on small-business matters, and here is a discussion about whether Mr. Ryan is the right candidate for small businesses. Aaron Carroll digs into Mr. Ryan’s Medicare proposals. Jillian Berman wonders whether Wall Street will like him. The president of the National Federation of Independent Business explains why small businesses are so big in politics. Bill Murphy Jr., offers five lessons in entrepreneurship to be learned from Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney.
The Economy: Breweries and Wineries
July retail sales jump, and some big box retail stores are growing. Breweries and wineries are also seeing significant growth. June conveyor shipments are up 35 percent over the previous year, and industrial production increases. Builder confidence continues to improve, but machine-tool orders slip and conditions in the New York region (pdf) have deteriorated. Small-business confidence declines, Google’s Motorola Mobilityis cutting 4,000 jobs, and FedEx is offering buyouts to employees. Timothy Taylor laments the country’s stagnant R.&D. effort. Consumer prices stay flat, producer prices climb more than expected, and Lam Thuy Vo explains what the prices on a very old menu can teach us about the economy. Meanwhile, the nation’s economists are quietly evacuating their families (according to The Onion, anyway).
Technology: Reinventing the Toilet
A new report says New York small businesses face a technology gap; barely half feel they are using technology enough (pdf) to be competitive (and a third do not have a Web site). Among some cool new ideas: bacteria-eating viruses that may power cellphones, software to prevent texting behind the wheel, an implant that helps blind mice see and an advance that could turn wastewater treatment into an electricity producer. Bill Gates sponsors a reinvent-the-toilet challenge. Samsung expands its lead in the smartphone market but Research In Motion is not giving up. Pinterest introduces iPhone and Android apps. Google Plus introduces studio hangouts for musicians. American broadband growth slows. Brian Moylan suggests five apps the world desperately needs, including one that will let you do the following: “At a party, you run into a guy who greets you by name. You’ve met before, but you have no idea who he is. Snap a subtle photo of him. The software uses facial recognition software to troll Facebook and Google Image searches to ID him.”
Your People: Do You Delegate Too Much?
Gad Levanon sums up the main trends in the labor market. Josh Tolan explains how to use video to recruit talent. Disney is sued by a Muslim employee over its dress code. Devan Perine reports that healthy employees contribute to healthy businesses. A Somali pirate becomes professional. Peter Nguyen discusses the delicate nature of delegating: “Not everything in your business should be delegated. … Make sure you are the one signing legal documents, closing deals with big clients, handling big press publications and keeping a close eye on company numbers, even with a C.P.A.’s help.” (Jay Goltz reveals the one task he can’t delegate.) Researchers at Small Business Labs say that Gen Y is delaying adulthood. A trucking company announces a program for owner-operators.
Management: The Dumbest Questions
Bradley Collins explains how public libraries are a boon to small businesses. This little accounting trick is behind 30 years of scandal. Here are five ways to make your business stand out, including: “Don’t be a jack of all trades.” The terms “F-bomb,” and “sexting” are in the new Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here are three reasons not to discount your prices. Martin Zwilling says the best entrepreneurs ask the dumbest questions. Marcus Sheridan shares a story of rejection and growth. In this video, Kirby Ferguson explains why everything is a remix.
Your Marketing: No More Robocalls
Citibank’s senior vice president for social media says: “In most cases, customer service in social media or social service is a failure.” But a bigger brain may help. A new tool will help drive customers to buy from more ethical businesses. Telemarketers are now prohibited from using recorded messages in New York. These five brands use education to engage. Mike Vickers explains how to become preferred in business. Here are four marketing tips from a Canadian convent and a few e-mail tips learned from “Seinfeld.” Jill Konrath suggests some e-mail prospecting tips of her own. Here are the Ten Commandments for business card marketing.
Start-Up: Immigrants Start Businesses
Immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in America in 2011 — despite accounting for just 12.9 percent of the population. This start-up feeds other start-ups (literally). A tech entrepreneur explains how Europe (yes, Europe!) is rocking the start-up world. A start-up wants to resell old digital songs. A membership club aims to soothe start-up stress with elite deals and access. Susan Schreter learned these lessons from Oprah Winfrey’s start-up, including: “It’s not ever wise to initiate customer-facing operations without 100 percent leadership attention and focus.”
Finance: Join the Club
Robert Moore describes the clubby world of venture capital. Eric V. Holtzclaw offers tips for getting cash faster. A report says that almost half of United States bank account holders will be using mobile banking by 2017. Small businesses are having trouble getting microloans.
Around the Country: Chinese Diapers
Niagara Falls, N.Y., takes a broad approach to attract more people. These five graphs show how crazy it is to compare California to Greece. Real estate in Minneapolis is hot. Syracuse may be the next city headed for bankruptcy. Frito-Lay rolls out more electric trucks in California. A paper mill reopens to make more diapers for the Chinese, and a Chinese firm looks to invest $1 billion in a Texas clean energy project. Carbonite is holding a disaster-planning webinar for small businesses. A walk-on football player gets a scholarship.
Around the World: Russia Grows, Europe Sinks
Troubles abroad keep cash flowing to the United States. Russia posts a 4 percent growth rate even as Europe sinks back into recession. Africa grows too hot to grow chocolate. Grenada did the best at the Olympics (per capita).
Red Tape: Social Security Turns 77
It’s the 77th anniversary of Social Security, but its surplus is dwarfed by future deficits. An egg-regulation bill is being pushed in Indiana. The new immigration rules go into effect. The cost of the auto industry bailout goes up, and Michael Panzner believes the job market and auto-buying market are out of sync. Daniel Costa says the State Department just created 4,000 new jobs in Alaska.
Tweets of the Week
@pamslim: Happy Sweet 16th birthday my self-employment. You have given me an amazing life along with a great living. Thank you!
@alanlepo: My new business plan. Rebuild some type of collaboration tool from 1995 using shinny new web and mobile tech and call it innovative.
@TheJoeGirard: You’re not gonna find business sitting down and blaming the recession.
This Week’s Question: Have you tried to get a microloan?