This Week in Small Business: The Pope’s on Twitter (Are You?)

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(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)

Fiscal Cliff: Mr. Burns Explains

Bruce Bartlett says the real issue is the debt limit. John P. Hussman says we are already headed toward recession. Brian Lucey has a dictionary of austerity. This is the teetotaler’s solution to the austerity crisis. Some small firms are fretting over higher taxes, but others are actually pushing forincreases. Businesses warn of the impact from tax increases on older people. Joan McCarter says small-business owners are more concerned about cuts to entitlements. Capital One Bank finds small-business confidence holding steady. Confused? Montgomery Burns explains all.

Economy: The Most Expensive Year for Gas

Car sales in November could be the highest since February 2008 and light vehicle sales are the highest since 2007. Fracking is helping American crude production rise to its highest point since 1998, but 2012 will still go down asthe most expensive year for gas. Richard Richter offers six reasons 2013 may be the turning point for the electric vehicle industry. Construction spending in October (pdf) is 9 percent above the same period last year. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Leading Index for October is projecting economic growth. US Airways reports strong traffic numbers. Theunemployment rate falls, nonfarm productivity is up (pdf), but ADP reports that only 118,000 jobs were added in November. And the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index has slipped into contraction territory. The National Association of Manufacturers reports a sharp decline in optimism. Intuit says small-business employment increased but revenue fellfor the eighth consecutive month. Here are 26 economists you should be following on Twitter.

Management: Your December Checklist

Tori Rodriguez explains how to use your ears to influence people. Lewis Edward shares seven ways to work smarter, not harder. Barbara Corcoran has12 tips for small-business owners, including: “Don’t rush out to get a patent.” Deborah Sweeney has a small-business checklist for December. A guy who spent 15 years in prison now owns a multimillion-dollar company (Dave’s Killer Bread), and three small-business Davids take on Goliaths. Here are 36great quotations from the late Zig Ziglar.

Your People: Honey Boo Boo

The Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation matches the contributions of full-time employees to a specific college savings plan. These companies are the top small-business job creators in America. Here are three things you should know before hiring an intern. Clare Fenwick explains the real reason thattalented employees leave. Barbara Walters thinks Honey Boo Boo is one of the most fascinating people of 2012. Here are six steps for dealing with angerin a high-pressure workplace, including: “Get yourself to the nearest private bathroom.” General managers earn $114,000 on average. Holiday parties bounce back, and Michaela Moloney explains what to do if your party goes bad.

Social Media: Pinterest’s Secret

Here are 101 social media marketing stats to guide you into 2013. Brian Reilly explains how to use Google Analytics to improve marketing. Doug Rekenthaler says that “delayed gratification” is among the dumbest excuses small-business owners use to avoid blogging. Sarah Kolb-Williams believes that blogging is one of three steps to expanding your small business. Ian Cleary suggests five tools to attract a relevant audience to your blog. This video parody shows everything that’s annoying about Instagram. Staples and LinkedIn introduce a small-business group. Lili Beck offers three ways brands can use Pinterest’s “secret boards.” Heidi Cohen shares five Pinterest marketing tips, including: “Skip stock images.” Here are a few best practices for your business’s Twitter account, and here are six ways to use your Facebook timeline for business marketing. The pope joins Twitter!

Marketing: Pizza Hut Perfume?

Here’s how to sell marijuana legally in four inconvenient steps. Pizza Hut offers a limited edition perfume. Here are five tips for optimizing your time and knowledge for better lead generation. Yaseen Dadabhay offers a reminder that you are responsible for marketing your own business: “No one — and especially not the marketing agency — is as passionate about your product as you are.” Get ready for ads that follow you from one device to the next. Have you considered these nontraditional ways to use stickers to make your business popular? NPR asks what’s next for daily deals?

Cash Flow: Pink Slips

Small-business lending picks up but many continue to be unhappy with the banking industry. Citigroup cuts 11,000 jobs. Here’s a one-hour webinarabout crowdfunding, and Ed Norton’s crowdfunding service takes fund-raising to the masses with a light and funny attitude. A new online lending platform is introduced by a leading provider of small-business working capital. Here are five small-business apps that promise “stellar” financial management. Participation in retirement plans remains low among small-business owners.

Starting Up: Where Ashton Kutcher Invests

Tim Berry has some thoughts on trying to start two businesses at once. Ashton Kutcher invests in seven types of tech companies. The next frontier for start-ups will be the local neighborhood, but Mary Meeker says the future is all about the wallet, education and health care. Here are nine tech trends that willmake someone billions of dollars. Here are 11 intriguing start-up founders. Y Combinator cuts its start-up class size, and Nick Leiber writes about whether budding entrepreneurs can improve their start-up odds by saying yes to college. Marc Andreessen says not every start-up should be lean. Dan Lyons sheds no tears for start-ups that can’t raise more money. Scott Gerber believes that Bravo’s “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley” is bad for entrepreneurship. Jake Finkelstein says that advertising your start-up is a bad idea. Yahoo acquires a tiny mobile video-chat start-up.

Around the Country: Men

The University of Southern California and Verizon are hosting a forum in Los Angeles to discuss how to help small businesses become more sustainable. A University of California, Davis study finds California company leadership is still dominated by men. Jay-Z takes the subway (and introduces himself to a non-fan) en route to one of his performances at the new Brooklyn arena. Sam’s Club is the latest big business to jump on the small-business bandwagon. Small-business owners in Montana say they need more customers to help them create jobs and that big corporations pay less than their fair share of taxes. There will be a franchise expo in Miami in January.

Around the World: Manufacturing Contracts

Even though global shipping reached a record volume, euro-areamanufacturing contracted for the 16th straight month. Manufacturing contraction eased, however, in Britain. A bank and a technology cluster aim to help entrepreneurs in Greece. Clean-burning stoves in Mozambique lure big investors. This is how companies like Google and Amazon minimize their European taxes.

Red Tape: More Health Care Fallout

The Small Business Administration is prepared to counsel small businesses harmed by the National Hockey League lockout. Small employers are weighing the impact of providing health insurance, and the Cheesecake Factory’s chief executive warns that the Affordable Care Act will be “very costly.” Greg Anrig wonders if the states can sabotage the plan. Deanne Katz says that failing to get a license is one of five common legal mistakes that entrepreneurs make.

Technology: Printing Guns!

Google decides to charge businesses to use Google Apps. Don Reisinger thinks employees are to blame for the war between iOS and Android in the office. A report shows that one in five employees uses Dropbox for work documents. Evernote releases a business application. A 3-D-printable gun part fails on the sixth shot. Bruce Temkin explains why some Staples employees refuse to sell computers to their customers — but the office supplier does plan to offer in-store 3-D printing soon. These are the 15 most overpriced gadgets of all time. Bob Lefsetz shares a list of things everybody knows, including: “Creating an app is a waste of time.” Lewis Black is too tired to scream about technology. Tim Cushing explains how software piracy in developing markets creates new customers. Here are three gifts to interest girls in engineering. This is the only sensible way to stack Tolkien’s work in a bookstore.

Tweet of the Week

@ValaAfshar 
“we have Twitter, we’re a social business” is like “we have an oven mitt, we’re a gourmet restaurant”

The Week’s Bests

Ryan Derousseau compares your ability to innovate to “The Nutcracker”: “I question why people really go to ‘The Nutcracker.’ Is it because of the choreography or because it has become a staple? Do they leave with enjoyment and excitement or leave with a ‘Well, I can check that off my list’? I would argue the first portion should always be the goal, but the latter is reality. And it goes the same in business. Are people leaving your company or service with a ‘Well, we got that done’? If so, it’s not likely to lead to repeat business. Instead, make them thrilled for coming. Make them hunger for more help. Make them want to come back. Because until you’re as old as ‘The Nutcracker,’ you will need repeat business to survive.”

Charles Fishman celebrates the recent insourcing boom: “Oil prices are three times what they were in 2000, making cargo-ship fuel much more expensive now than it was then. The natural-gas boom in the U.S. has dramatically lowered the cost for running something as energy-intensive as a factory here at home. (Natural gas now costs four times as much in Asia as it does in the U.S.) In dollars, wages in China are some five times what they were in 2000 — and they are expected to keep rising 18 percent a year. American unions are changing their priorities. … U.S. labor productivity has continued its long march upward, meaning that labor costs have become a smaller and smaller proportion of the total cost of finished goods.”

This Week’s Question: So who started on Twitter first, you or the pope?

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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