This Week in Small Business: Happy Holidays?

(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)

The Fiscal Cliff: Better Than It Looks

The budget deficit widened in October. Robert Rubin writes: ““Now that the election is over, Washington’s attention is consumed by the looming combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases known as the fiscal cliff. That combination poses risks, including economic contraction and erosion of confidence in government. But it also offers a chance to address our unsustainable and dangerous fiscal trajectory.” Kent Hoover analyzes four tax deals Congress can make to avert the fiscal cliff. Try out these five fiscal-cliff situations. Small and midsize manufacturers are already being hit by defense spending cuts. Bruce Bartlett believes that “our long-term fiscal future is better than it looks.” The United States is projected to be the world’s top oil producer in five years (but these two do not appear to be impressed).

The Economy: Interesting Lessons

Retail sales and wholesale prices fell in October while consumer prices (pdf)rose slightly. Hurricane Sandy caused a big jump in weekly unemployment claims. Rail traffic is mixed. Machine tool orders spike. Small-businessoptimism hits a five-month high. Neil Irwin says that earnings season has produced some interesting lessons on where the economy is going.

Your People: Thanksgiving Shifts?

Target employees protest Thanksgiving shifts, and Apple gives in on employee perks. Dave Lavinsky offers a checklist to motivate employees. John Mills shares five ways to improve your manufacturing line’s performance, including: “Don’t obsess over output at the expense of everything else.” A survey shows that the flu virus is set to make workers and businesses ill this season. Elance reveals that online hiring and earnings are far outpacing the traditional employment economy. A new jobs app from Facebook challenges LinkedIn. The overly attached girlfriend now works for Samsung.

Management: What’s Your Business Worth?

Travelers has some advice on preparing for the holiday season. A new report indicates that consumers are finding the lowest prices are not online. Some veterans are growing as entrepreneurs, but fewer are starting businesses. If you’re a vet, entrepreneurial resources are available to you. A father and son visit every N.F.L. stadium and take wounded vets with them. David Kestenbaum explains why Coke only cost a nickel for 70 years, and a restaurant owner shows exactly how much dishes are marked up. A celebrity-owned restaurant gets a scathing review. An 87-year-old doctor still charges$5 per visit. Here’s how some small-business owners are reinventing themselves to survive and grow. Mike Handelsman demystifies your company’s valuation. The Lending Circle announces short-term business loansfor small businesses that cannot obtain bank loans. Joan Hong has advice forselling a business through a broker.

Start-Up: Should You Go to That Conference?

Startup Weekend Milwaukee goes well. Sean Griffin says the next start-up hubwill be in Tulsa. Joe McKendrick believes that if you’re introducing a start-up next year, talent may be harder to find than financing. An Oklahoma public radio station begins a series on how starting an unconventional businessprovides unconventional challenges. Rob Wolfe wants to know if your value proposition is good enough. Paul Jozefak asks whether start-up entrepreneursshould go to conferences.

Mobile: Another Challenger

Small businesses are set to increase their use of mobile technology for eventsin 2013 but a new study suggests that the skill level needed is lacking. Most smartphone owners will use their devices for holiday shopping. Bank of America introduces a mobile payment app. A new national competitor in themobile-payment market challenges Square and PayPal. Visa’s digital wallet is gearing up.

Marketing: Happy Holidays?

A Pitney Bowes study finds most consumers do not plan to spend more than they spent last holiday season, and Matthew Wong suggests ways to meet that challenge. A former New York Times restaurant critic offers six fundamental rules for hosting a great Thanksgiving, and this Thanksgiving music videosomehow grabs more than eight million views. Google is providing a bunch of tools for holiday shoppers. Here are some ways the Skype Professional Network can help small businesses. A study finds that small businesses that have adopted online marketing practices have realized significant business benefits, ranging from improved campaign performance to higher return on marketing investment. Joe Pulizzi shares six small-business content marketing strategies.

Social Media: The Top Pinners

Randy Krum creates a great infographic showing the current state of social media. Pinterest introduces accounts for business, and these are the planet’stop five “pinners.” Here are 10 bets you’ll never lose. One year later, YouTubepulls the plug on 60 percent of its original content channels. Ty Kiisel offers five suggestions for small-business bloggers. A couple of kids come up with a brilliant Facebook marketing idea.

Around the Country: Profiting From Pot

A webinar will explain why small businesses should pay attention to Google Plus. Carbonite offers a free educational webinar for small businesses on priming business operations for the new year. Deborah Sweeney offers tips onpreparing a business for Small Business Saturday. Rebekah Henson has a Small Business Saturday action plan that you can download. The software maker Intuit will grant a wish a day, valued at up to $5,000 each, to 15 businesses this holiday season. Here are the top emerging trends for real estate in 2013. If you’re running a business in the state of Washington, here are five things you should know about employees and marijuana (and here’show to invest in legal marijuana). If you have three minutes, you can take this trip from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66. Philadelphia police officers arestill using typewriters.

Around the World: A Hot Spot for Chinese Students

Bono opens Global Entrepreneurship Week at Georgetown University. To get around a tax increase, a Spanish theater sells carrots, not tickets. The new head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has big dreams for small businesses. South Korea’s unemployment falls to 2.8 percent. John Foley gives China’s new leadership a 6.5 out of 10. The United States is a hot spot for Chinese graduate students.

Red Tape: America’s Meanest Business Owner?

The Department of Health and Human Services is moving quickly on crucialhealth care regulations. A Papa John’s franchise owner says that she will be forced to cut her staff or pay a health care fine of $40,000 that she cannot afford. Wal-Mart asks its employees to pay more for health care. A business owner wants to make his employees regret getting health care coverage. Kate Rogers discusses how small businesses are grappling with “Obamacare.” Gallup says that American entrepreneurs are healthier. Here are a few tax-saving moves small businesses should make before the year ends.

Technology: A New Search Engine

Michael Wolff thinks the age of Apple may be over. This plastic can heal itselfin 30 minutes. A few experts discuss ideas for the application of 3-D printing. A new search engine may give Google a run for its money. Nimble, a popular social customer-relationship management provider, announces developer tools and an app marketplace. And the Oxford Dictionary selects its word of the year.

Tweet of the Week

@deluxecorp – What is the average loss for a business from payments fraud in 2011? $19,200!

The Week’s Best

Kayla Albert explains how failure can help you succeed: “Your failure can offer powerful insight to those around you. We are often very reluctant to share our failures with others because we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to criticism. But the truth is, being open about failure allows others to collect on the lessons we learned ourselves, and in speaking about it, we are more likely to become aware of what all of the takeaways were. We learn a great deal about life from the experiences of others, so the collective experience of failure among the entire human race allows us to steer our lives down a more positive, productive path. Therefore, there is no failure that doesn’t have the ability to help someone, somewhere.”

Chris Brogan says social media isn’t dead, but it’s boring. “It’s boring to talk simply about the tools because the tools are just a way to reach people. We can argue the details endlessly (I don’t believe much in Klout, for instance), and we can announce the premature death of Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and whoever. But it doesn’t matter. When we talk about restaurants (the tools), we mostly talk about the food (the content). When we talk about bands (tools), we talk about whether the music resonates (the content). When we talk about a good book (the content), we never ask what type of computer it was written on (the tools).”

James Fallows has a strategy for avoiding Petraeus-style e-mail disasters: “Never put anything in an e-mail message, to anyone, that would cause you serious problems if it fell into the wrong hands.”

This Week’s Question: What will you do next Monday when this column takes the week off?

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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