This Week in Small Business: Looking Stupid on Twitter

 

(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)

The Election: Binders Of Women

Small-business owners award a narrow victory to President Obama in the second debate, where it seemed the only good business is a small business. Of course, it didn’t take long for someone to songify the whole thing or for these reviews of binders for women to appear on Amazon. Matthew Yglesias urges the candidates to stop talking about small businesses and income tax rates: “There are plenty of good ideas out there to spark small-business hiring, but to make them happen, politicians need to take a break from their obsession with arguing about the top marginal-income tax rate and look instead at payroll taxes and monetary policy.” J.D. Harrison writes a small-business guide to the upcoming election. A new survey from The Hartford finds that despite their views on the economy, small-business owners see themselves as largely successful. Oddly, gasoline prices seem to be dropping in important electoral states.

The Economy: Alarm Bells

Two Americans win Nobel prizes in economics. Business inventories increase, lifted by automobile stocks. Consumers are asking, “What fiscal cliff?” as retail sales and industrial production rise. Gallup says economic confidence is at its highest since May. Residential building permits are strong and housing construction surges. Manufacturing in the Philadelphia area expands, but the New York region continues to contract. A forecast says global steel demandwill slow next year. Inflation is up. The federal deficit tops $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row. Third-quarter earnings season has just begun, but companies are already sounding alarm bells about the fourth quarter. Weeklyunemployment claims rise sharply.

Marketing: 140 Characters of Stupid

Rachel Blaufeld says you should get out there and stop hiding behind your computer. Here are four simple ways to get more testimonials for your company. A new holiday card collection from Hallmark offers something for every business. More small businesses are turning to Facebook and mobile marketing to drive growth. Brad Smith explains why you need to start using Google+. Jack Wrigley compares engagement on social media to window shopping on Main Street: “You need to pick products or services you feel will cause someone to stop, walk in the proverbial door, buy what you’re selling, and then tell everybody about it.” Gaz Copeland explains how to look stupid in 140 characters. Amy Porterfield alerts you to a little-known Facebook featurethat can help you monitor customers and competitors.

Your People: Working From Home

Kaylie Astin says that the best employees don’t work because they love their company or boss; they work to advance personal goals. Hospital workers are the least healthy workers. Amazon plans to hire 50,000 holiday employees and may enter the semiconductor business. Eric C. Sinoway has thoughts on when to fire a top performer who hurts your company’s culture. This is how the worst employee ever went on to build a successful company. Here’s why your employees shouldn’t work from home. A new study says the shortage of skilled workers may be exaggerated. Here are the top 10 reasons first-time freelancers fail. The bloggers at Springwise share some outsourcing ideas.

Retail: Fashion Grows

Fashion is the fastest-growing segment of online commerce, and it’s being propelled by a surprising source: men. Gartner says fake online reviews are becoming a bigger problem (Yelp has one answer). Here’s how to turn your slowest foot-traffic day into the most popular day of the week. OpenTable is now offering mobile booking for restaurant customers. This is the danger of having a business van with sliding doors.

Cash Flow: A $41,500 Refrigerator

Here’s why prepaying expenses may not be your best option. Josh Patrick explains why you need to care about the cost of capital: “Owners have to come to a better understanding of what their financial drivers are and figure out ways to produce the needed returns. Or, if that can’t be done, you can do what I did and decide the industry is never going to allow you to make the returns you need and find a way to leave.” This $41,500 refrigerator is the size of a small car. PayPal bolsters its credit offering for small businesses. The Boston Beer Company introduces a program to offer loans to small businesses (and a speed coaching event) in Los Angeles. Small businesses want better cash flow tools from banks.

Management: The Power of Criticism

Ben Horowitz explains how to make yourself a better chief executive: “It’s important that you give people feedback because you want them to succeed and not because you want them to fail.” Deborah Shane wants to know if you are branding your competencies, characteristics and intangibles. Nadia Goodman says criticism can drive you. This is how to create a healthy balancein life. Phil Simon says you are probably forgetting something before making that big speech. Amy Jo Martin explains how Nascar uses access to build loyal fans. Holly G. Green wants you to take her test to determine if you are in theinnovation danger zone. Daniel Kehrer suggests five ways to make service partof your business. A new study says that the “Physical Internet” – a concept in which goods are handled, stored and transported in a shared network of manufacturers, retailers and the transportation industry – would benefit the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over half of global businesses are still constrained by paper invoices. Ashley Halligan suggests four steps nonprofits can take to establish a lasting partnership.

Red Tape: Does It Come With Fries?

Looming federal budget cuts are a big risk to small businesses that rely on government dollars. Michael Keating shares his thoughts on landing a government contract. The Internal Revenue Service offers a free tax calendarfor 2013. According to this infographic, one in three small-business owners have been sued in recent years. Someone paid $9,995 for a gallon of McDonald’s Michael Jordan barbecue sauce from 1992.

Around The Country: San Francisco Empties

MSNBC’s “Your Business” host JJ Ramberg releases a book to help small-business owners hook customers. The American Beverage Association suesNew York City over the mayor’s soda ban. An Entrepreneur Roadshow at Rutgers Business School in Newark will discuss pitching investors, the media and retailers. San Francisco becomes empty in this time lapse video. Waste Management and Sam’s Club team up to provide membership discounts for small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Business takes “I Built My Business” on tour. A guy falls 24 miles out of the sky.

Around the World: A Can of Sardines

As penalties crush the rial, Iranians point fingers. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said leading indicators for the 34-nation body point to “weakening growth in coming quarters” for most major economies. A can of sardines inspired Mark Ruiz — a middle-class, well-educated Filipino from Quezon City, just outside Manila — to begin his road to social entrepreneurship. The world’s most expensive cocktail is mixed in London. China’s economy shows signs of picking up after a seven-quarter slowdown. A Star Wars flash mob appears.

Technology: Bad Week On Wall Street

Wall Street is disappointed by MicrosoftGoogle and IBM. Intel forecasts abig drop in margins and AMD lays off 15 percent of its workforce. Heather Clancy has four more mobile app development resources for small businesses. Paul McDougall says Windows 8 beats the Mac but Brian Barrett advises against preordering Microsoft’s Surface tablet. Here are a few other projectsMicrosoft is working on. Best Buy plans its own tablet. The Consumer Electronics Association releases a list of technologies to watch. A new report says small businesses are underestimating cyber threats. Take a look insideGoogle’s data centers. As the smartphone-user population climbed over one billion this week, adoption of such wireless devices in the industrial environment is inching ever-closer to its own explosive growth period. NCRupgrades its point of sale systems.

Tweets Of The Week

@BobBurg
What separates the star #sales people & exceptional leaders is their unabridged focus on the *other* person.

@NThickett
Great sales people never sell. They solve problems! It all starts with great questions and listening.

‏@DonCooper
#Sales Tip: When prospects really trust you, they’ll buy what & when you tell them to.

The Week’s Bests

Jim Connolly says this is what every business owner needs to know about winning arguments: “I often see small-business owners arguing with their customers, clients and contacts — insisting they are right and the other person is wrong. They insist on winning the argument (imposing their opinion as the only valid one) rather than winning the client. That mindset is toxic to our business.”

Tom Ewer lays out his stress-free approach to business: “The fact is this — best laid plans often go awry. You cannot avoid that eventuality. Most adversities we face become nothing but a blip on the radar in time. So when dealing with business-related issues, consider them in a bigger context. How will this affect you in the long-term? Is your life’s work being destroyed, or are your goals just being pushed back by a day or two?”

This Week’s Question: Have you said anything you regretted on Twitter?

Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa., consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. You can follow him onTwitter.

 

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