New York Times: This Week in Small Business: The Clock is Ticking

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(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)

The Sequestration Budget Cuts: The Clock Is Ticking

The budget talks continue, and here are four graphs that sum up the situation. Kevin Drum says there is no sequestration deal to be made. Matt Miller says the sequestration isoverhyped. Alex Seitz-Wald believes you should be afraid. Deborah Solomon says that a new proposal from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles “shows how Washington’s affinity for small deals that tackle the deficit incrementally are deepening the nation’s fiscal hole.” Michelle Benjamin says that Congress should employ basic small-business principlesto help balance the budget. Officials at the Federal Reservedisagree on how to increase employment.

The Economy: Gas Prices

January’s producer prices remain about the same butindustrial production falls. Gas prices are approaching record highs. The Nasdaq starts hits prerecession levels. Housing starts fell in January, and builder confidence went virtually unchanged in February. But the Houston real estate market is in an all-time frenzy, and the Small Business Administration says small businesses in Texas continue to grow. TheArchitecture Billings Index surges.

Your People: The Oddest Interview Questions

Some workplaces now offer electric car charging for their employees. Karl Stark and Bill Stewart list three reasons totreat employees like family. These are the six happiest and unhappiest industries to work in. Walter Hickey thinks that an increase in the minimum wage could be a huge boon to small businesses. Cindy Krischer Goodman says that remote employees require care to feel like part of the team. Here are the oddest interview questions for 2013. A new applicationhelps employers provide continuing feedback. These guys gave terrible gifts for Valentine’s Day. And this is why hiring “throwaway employees” is bad policy. A Russian reacts to last week’s meteorite.

Management: A Vegan Baker’s Day

A new study finds that internationally focused small- and medium-size enterprises are more likely to prosper in a global economy. Laureen Wishom offers tips on becoming the go-to expert in your niche, including: “Whatever business you are in, the fastest way to build your reputation and increase your visibility is working together with other people.” Did you know that the ultimate co-working space may have been sitting in the middle of your town or city for decades? Mark Zuckerberg buys more Facebook shares and introduces a $33 million science prize with Sergey Brin of Google. A day in the life of a vegan baker is more interesting than you might think. Lisa Braithwaite suggests trying not to be too perfect, and if you’re experiencing a crisis with your product, Marty Brochstein can help. Steve Pavlina reminds us that “if a goal isn’t tough, it’s probably beneath you.”

Finance: Kickstarter

An index reveals deteriorating credit conditions for small businesses as delinquency rises and personal income growth slows. A 3-D pen project on Kickstarter sets a goal of $30,000 and raises more than $1.5 million. But as 3-D printingbecomes more accessible, copyright questions arise. An 89-year-old grandmother finances her start-up on Kickstarter, too. Julia Kirby explains how crowdsourcing a “daily twist”paid off for Nabisco. Pinterest is valued at $2.5 billion.

Start-Up: The Valley of Death

Martin Zwilling says there are 10 ways for start-ups to survive the “Valley of Death.” Ninety-four percent of the revenuegenerated by start-ups in the United States comes from outside Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. Choire Sicha thinks New York should toss start-ups “a reduced Metrocard once in a while.” This start-up offers locations for cutting-edge board meetings. Stacey Higginbotham says tech start-ups are the luckiest start-ups, and Matthew Lynley shares five rules for building the next big enterprise start-up, including: “Your users are your best salespeople.” A survey shows that starting your own business can lead to a better life. Here’s how someEgyptian entrepreneurs are building start-ups in the midst of a revolution.

Marketing: Tips for Tough Times

Paul Anderson has a few tips for entrepreneurs looking toimprove adoption of customer-management software, including: “Before you migrate your old database to the customer-management software, scrub it to remove outdated, wrong, incomplete and duplicate information.” Anna Farmery explains why brands need to be imperfectly perfect. Patrick Coffee believes that the recent Carnival cruise disaster is also a public relations opportunity. This is how to start meaningfulword-of-mouth conversations by giving stuff away. Adrienne Erin shares a few little-known ways to cook up great content. Wendy Weiss has five tips for selling in tough times. Pete Leibman explains why looks matter. Walker Smith explainswhy people buy. Ivanka Trump introduces a new fragrance. A dog changes expressions quickly.

Social Media: Fourth Place

Chris Garrett lists the five essential skills for today’s online marketer. Sujan Patel has five search engine optimization rules to apply now. A new platform enables virtually anyone to build an online business around knowledge, passions, hobbies and work experiences. A popular blogger considersgetting rid of comments. A new Pew study reveals which customers are using which social media networks. Here are eight ways to get more leads for your business on LinkedIn. Tumblr becomes the fourth place for brands. Among Inc. 500 companies, blogging and use of LinkedIn is up, while use of Facebook is down. Twitter rolls out a new programming tool for advertisers. Yahoo rolls out a new front page. A guy does a back flip in a Mini.

Around the Country: Ending ‘Showrooming’

Office Depot agrees to buy OfficeMax. FedEx offers a new product to help small businesses streamline shipping, while Square continues its quest for small-business domination with its new Business in a Box. Google may open retail stores. Best Buy tries to end “showrooming.” Starbucks introducesdrive-thru video ordering. These are the 21 most on-time airlines. Dan Kois says that reclining in your airline seat is “pure evil.” Drivers on marijuana test their driving skills. These are America’s top 10 cities for small businesses. A Delaware small-business center helps a pub owner expand.

Red Tape: The Postal Service Gets Fashionable

As some businesses criticize the costs of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government announces that it will run 26 health care exchanges. Kent Hoover reports that small businesses will get more (and pay more) for essential health benefits. Projected Medicare spending has fallen by $500 billion. The penny is considered the most wasteful thing the government does, but a digital coin turns four and approaches a $30 value. The cash-short United States Postal Service will introduce a clothing line. Lamar Whitman takes a look at what to expect from the Startup 3.0 bill moving through Congress. This is what you need to know about the Marketplace Fairness Act. State motor vehicle workers in New Jersey call the policeon a man who insisted on wearing a pasta strainer on his head during the taking of his driver’s license photo. A federal watchdog office reportedly saves small businesses $2.4 billion in regulatory costs. Chris Peden explains which version of Schedule C to use to file your taxes, and an Internal Revenue Service workshop provides tax-time help for small businesses.

Technology: From Zero to 60 Million

The F.B.I. collaborates with Facebook. Burger KingJeep andApple are hacked. MTV and BET pretend they are hacked. Some are pointing the finger at China. Outlook.com replacesHotmail and goes from zero to 60 million users in six months. Comcast announces a suite of cloud-based business solutionsthat can be purchased through one integrated Web portal. Google demonstrates how it feels to wear its Glass. Dell’sprofit drops 31 percent. Polly S. Traylor wonders if your business should go PC-free. Here are five apps for stellar small-business management and 10 apps you need todominate your workday.

Tweet of the Week

@JenAbd: The gas price is higher than my GPA.

The Week’s Bests

Mark Suster explains why the “Harlem shake” is the beginning of an important new video trend: “Participation. We are the media. We want to be in it. Create it. Take part in it. Have a say, a vote. Think ‘American Idol’ voting, where the audience gets to feel like they’re participating. And where they’re willing to pay by dialing a paid number to feel like they’re, well, participating.”

Chris Heivly, writing about nondisclosure agreements, explains why he won’t sign your N.D.A.: “I am in the business of backing great teams working on great ideas. Inherent in this new relationship is trust. I am not going to steal your idea. I don’t have time to build a company — I invest in companies. I am not in the business of pitching your idea to others to build. And most important, if I did this just once, I would be labeled, and my deal flow would disappear.”

Christopher Mims explains how robots are eating the lastof America’s — and the world’s — traditional manufacturing jobs: “Not everyone is suffering. Skilled workers, for example, are earning more than ever. So are the very rich, those who own the capital that can be put to work in the world’s increasingly person-free farms, mines and factories. But those who used to make middle-class wages are increasingly slipping into lower-paying, service-sector jobs. That’s led to what M.I.T. economist David Autor calls an ‘hourglass economy,’ with more workers at both the top and (mostly) the bottom of the income spectrum.”

This Week’s Question: Do you think it’s evil to recline in an airline seat?

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

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