This Week in Small Business: Cliffhanger!
(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)
The Fiscal Cliff: Tax Moves
Here’s everything you need to know about the fiscal cliff, and here are Grover Norquist’s five commandments. President Obama warns that the fiscal cliffcould hurt Christmas spending. Keith Hennessey thinks the president is bluffing, and Michael Lind thinks the fiscal cliff is a lie. The president consults with small-business owners and makes his fiscal push at a small business in Pennsylvania. John Paglia says that if Congress can reach a fiscal cliff deal it will spur small-business hiring, and David Sims says the uncertainty provides real opportunities. Here are 10 tax moves to make now. The Fed is likely to keep stimulating into 2013.
The Holidays: Don’t Discount
Small Business Saturday spending exceeded expectations, according to research from the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express (here is more analysis). Cyber Monday sales soared but Black Friday numbers were down 2 percent this year, despite this huge line that formed at a dollar store. CNN reported that all Americans over the age of 14 went shopping. And now there’s Giving Tuesday. Kevin Casey learned four small-business lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, including: “Don’t discount.” Overall, retail sales declined in November.
The Holidays II: Bad News for Daily Deal Sites
These are the top holiday marketing techniques for the 2012 holiday season. The Brett Domino Trio provides the ultimate Christmas medley. Jill Konrath has some helpful gift-giving suggestions for small-business owners. This infographic helps us understand the habits of holiday shoppers during a recession. This video lays out 30 holiday marketing ideas in 30 minutes. Here are two restaurant tricks that will boost your holiday sales. And there’s bad news for daily deal sites: small businesses are not keen on Groupon this holiday season, and LivingSocial lays off 400 employees. Ebenezer Snoop reads a cautionary tale of Christmas.
The Economy: G.D.P. Grows
The Fed’s beige book reports weak economic activity. As a fake oil magnatepasses away, Texas growth stalls. Economic activity falls in the Chicago region, and manufacturing eases (pdf) in Kansas. Household income stagnates again. Durable goods orders are flat. New home sales fall, but home prices increased 3 percent in the past year. Consumer confidence is at a four-year high, but Wells Fargo sees an “eye-opening” drop in small-business optimism. Here are the 15 best housing markets for the next five years. Manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region advanced moderately, and global steel production increased despite overcapacity concerns. Gross domestic product growth was stronger than expected.
Employees: Giving Away the Store
Here are a few tips to help you put both holiday bonuses and compensation packages in perspective while motivating employees. Pattie Hunt Sinacole helps you determine when “comp time” can be used. Samsung asks its employees not to binge-drink so much during company events. A grocer gives his store to his employees. An employee of the city of Philadelphia almost gets away with a million-dollar ink-and-toner scam. A new Robert Half study finds most bosses are O.K. with employees shopping online while at work. Howard Dion explains how to reduce your risks. Adam Davidson says there is no skills gap.
Start-Up: The Hottest Start-Up Cities
Here’s some good advice on choosing a market for your start-up, and this is how to craft your hobby into a business. These are the 15 hottest start-up cities in the world, and David Hochman suggests six reasons Los Angeles isbooming with start-ups. Zach Cutler offers six tips for navigating a start-upthrough the first two years, including: “Be flexible.” A new report says thatstart-ups are leading job creation.
Social Media: #Hashtag
Here’s some good advice for using LinkedIn’s endorsements properly. I.B.M.’sBlack Friday report says Twitter delivered zero referral traffic, and Facebook sent just .68 percent. Google is offering a free month of advertising, and Katie Saxon explains how to set up your first Google AdWords campaign. Here’s how to use Instagram for business. Mark Shaw offers Twitter tips. A couplenames their daughter Hashtag, and an Onion parody explains how to use social media to cover up a lack of knowledge.
Marketing: R.I.P. Zig
Seth Godin thanks Zig Ziglar, the sales guru, who passed away this week. Rick Broida has advice on how to hire a graphic-design pro on the cheap. Maria Valdez Haubrich shares tips for using stock imagery: “Don’t get too obvious when choosing the images. Try to engage your public, make them think for a second on the illustration, interact with them.” A guy teaches his speech classhow to communicate using a fake Spanish accent. Robert Passikoff says “saturation leveling” is a marketing trend for 2013. A New York University student inadvertently sends 40,000 e-mails. Laura Hale Brockway offers 19terrible e-mail subject lines, including: “Register to Win Your FREE iPod!!” Here are the seven most powerful words to persuade. A pricing-solution consultant explains why you are under-pricing your proposals. Here’s ahelpful introduction to Google Analytics, and this return-on-investment calculator will help you determine if your marketing campaign is working.
Management: An Instant Board
Brian Turchin explains how to create an instant board of advisers. An entrepreneur continues his 100-day quest for rejection. Selena Cuffe explains how to make your business meaningful. Laura Spencer and Robbi Hess both write about how to make your day more productive and manage your time better (and with the time saved, you can take a dive into the world’s biggest pile of leaves). The team at Women Unlimited shares 10 tips to network your business to the next level. Deb Bailey wonders if getting an M.B.A. can help you become a better entrepreneur. Pamela Yeo, the founder of a start-up that makes jewelry using the metal from deactivated landmines, shares entrepreneurial insights.
Around the World: The Sexiest Dictator Alive
Wells Fargo expands its mobile deposit service nationwide and an entrepreneur expands the Lego universe. Two Powerball winners share a $587 million prize. The pet industry is growing. The existence of an “extraordinary global network” of sham company directors, most of them British, is revealed. If you’re thinking of doing business in Latin America you may want to avoidthese countries. A house stands in the middle of the road in China, and the country’s Communist Party newspaper congratulates the North Korean leaderon being named “the sexiest man alive.” Canada is the ideal country for women starting a business.
Tech: H.P.’s $9 Billion Disaster
Microsoft reports 40 million copies of Windows 8 have been sold, but Don Reisinger says that it still has too much “crapware.” And a new report says sales of Windows devices are down 21 percent from last year and Windows 8 tablet sales are “almost non-existent.” The Chevy Volt now comes with its own application programming interface. David Talbot explains why there is no spectrum crunch. GE Aviation invests heavily in the 3D printing business, and a cool new 3D photo booth distributes figurines in lieu of photos. Tom Foremski is bullish on information technology start-ups. H.P. has a $9 billiondisaster. Here are 10 tech trends for 2013. You can now attach 10-gigabyte files to your Gmail messages. A new report claims that Android-based tabletsare eating away at the iPad’s market share.
Tweet Of The Week
@MarshallRamsey – I didn’t win the Powerball but some nice man from Nigeria e-mailed to let me know I won their lottery!
The Week’s Bests
Brad Farris asks what your team experiences in your presence? “When you are in a place of leadership, sometimes you need to be the person the team needs you to be. The team looks to the leader to set the tone. It’s O.K. to be scared, uncertain or doubtful; but you can’t give in to those feelings. As the leader, you need to show that you have a plan and are ready to execute that plan, regardless of what you’re feeling.”
Todd Wasserman thinks most social media marketing is a waste of time: “The secret to good social media marketing: Make good products and offer good services. If you can’t trick people into ‘liking’ your brand, maybe you can try to make them actually, you know, like your brand. How? Under-promise and over-deliver. Make products and offer services that are really, really good. That’s not to say you should completely forsake social media marketing communication. Every once in a while if you have something interesting to say, then by all means use Twitter or Facebook to say it. But stop posting cute pictures of puppies to win cheap likes.”
This Week’s Question: What’s the perfect holiday gift for a small-business owner?