NYT: This Week in Small Business: Free Furniture!
(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)
The Budget: Nothing Yet
The White House’s budget is late, and the president requests a delay in the sequestration cuts. The Congressional Budget Office predicts decreasing deficits but also growing debt even as the economy recovers. Rebecca Thiess explains why there is such a large change in the office’s projections. Neil Irwin says this is the most depressing graph from the C.B.O. report.
The Economy: Manufacturing Surges
Factory orders expanded in December and manufacturing surged in January. But the service sector expanded at a slower pace. Home prices rose last yearby the most in six and a half years and the Financial Stress Index falls to pre-recession levels. Here are 100 startling facts about the economy. A gauge ofbusiness investment plans dropped in December. The Postal Service decides to end Saturday deliveries, and a report from the National Small Business Association indicates that small-business owners are feeling less optimisticthan they did this time last year.
Your People: It’s O.K. to Steal
Markos Kaminis says that unemployment is 11.8 percent, not 7.9 percent, and yet a small-business employment index shows seasonal strength. A study finds retail workers feel least connected to their employers, and another report reveals that many employees are O.K. with stealing corporate data. Claire LaBrunerie suggests that treating employees with respect is one of four simple (and free) ways to improve workplace morale. Here are seven e-mail tips to maximize your relationships. This is why everyone wants to work at a big tech company. A 2-year-old makes shot after shot.
The Super Bowl: A Boon for Baltimore
The Ravens’ Super Bowl victory is a boon for many local businesses — but a furniture store has to cough up $600,000 in free merchandise. Oreo improvised a great ad. Here are the commercials from the night. Patrick Coffee lists the top 10 social media moments, and Debra Donston-Miller shares five social lessons she learned. Funny or Die reveals the cause of the blackout.
Your Productivity: Workflowy
John Jantsch explains how a tool called Workflowy keeps him organized. James Chartrand says the best kept secret for keeping clients happy is to pad your time. Laura Spencer explains how much time you should devote to freelancing. David Siteman Garland says you need to stop obsessing over making your Web site, brand or product “perfect.” A first-grader earns a day off for the entire student body.
Managing Your Business: Lessons From Mark Zuckerberg
Juergen Kneifel explains how one small business does things right. Here are afew entrepreneurial lessons from Mark Zuckerberg. Natalie Sisson has created the ultimate guide to finding laser-like focus in your online business. Lyve Alexis Pleshette shares six secrets of a successful home-based business. Giuseppe Colombi has a detailed analysis of how to set the right price for what you sell. Joseph and JoAnn Callaway wonder if George Washington and Honest Abe would make it in today’s business world. Isabelle Mercier Turcotte explains why women make better business leaders. Geoffrey James says these are the most influential business books of all time, and a bunch of young entrepreneurs share their favorite YouTube channels. Here is why self-help articles can be bad for entrepreneurs.
Starting Up: Avoid Silicon Valley
The health care giant Geisinger introduces a $40 million start-up. An angel investor explains his strange approach to investing. TechCrunch plans its firstpitch-off party in New York. Meghan Casserly says the start-up economy iscreating $1 billion in freelance paychecks. Mark Suster explains how to configure your start-up team. A venture investor-turned-entrepreneur shares the start-up lessons he’s learned. In this podcast, an economist, Matt Yglesias, talks about the difficulty of starting a small business. Peter Cohan says that “insufficient mentoring” is one of five reasons to avoid Silicon Valley.
Marketing: Face to Face
Companies say they expect spending on Web-related promotion to rise this year. A new report says most business-to-business marketing professionalsplan to increase their budgets, with digital marketing a major focus. Another report finds that social media drives less than 2 percent of business-to-business Web traffic. This is how to optimize your social media profiles. Brian Clark says to get over yourself and get on Google Plus. Joel Libava explains Applebee’s social media fiasco. Olga Ionel takes a look at online marketing methods that really work. Brad VanAuken shares the importance of targeting customers carefully. Joe Griffin says there’s a three-point process for getting buy-in for content marketing. Here are a few tips for using postcards as direct-mail coupons. A study concludes that independent businesses benefit from “buy local first” campaigns but still face challenges. Here is how to build your brand with iOS, and here are five ways to make face-to-face networking pay off.
Finance: Revolutionizing Banking
Karen Mills, the Small Business Administration administrator, joins the president of the Kauffman Foundation to present solutions for financing entrepreneurship and strengthening the nation’s economy. She tells small businesses in “middle America”: “We need to expand the entrepreneurial playing field.” Small-business borrowing barely rises in December. Zachary Karabell says that amid the banking dry spell, some small businesses kick-start themselves: “This democratization of finance could in time have as revolutionary an effect on traditional lending and banking as digital music has had on the traditional recording industry.” A new lending engine tries to solvethe small-business liquidity crisis.
Cash Flow: Penny Pinching
Rohit Arora says that if you operate a seasonal business, it’s crucial to make cash flow projections. Jon Stow warns that penny-pinching can be expensive: “If we are inexperienced or simply do not have the time to do something to support, promote or oil the wheels of our business, it will cost us a lot more in sales than if we pay a specialist to help us.” Visa and Square award $200,000to small-business owners but nobody knows what the digital wallet companies are.
Taxes: Overlooked Breaks
These are five overlooked tax breaks for small businesses. The Internal Revenue Service is making home-office deductions easier and offers 10 tips to help you choose a tax preparer. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains the important improvements to two crucial tax credits. Catherine Clifford says that entrepreneurs could benefit from the new research and development tax credit.
Red Tape Update: S.&P. Is Sued
The government sues Standard & Poor’s over its rating of risky mortgage bonds before the financial crisis. The Commission on Civil Rights announces a briefing on the impact of regulatory, licensing and market-entry barriers on emerging small businesses. The House Small Business Committee chairman weighs in on small-business owner concerns. Jan Fletcher has eight tips fordealing with road construction near your business.
Around the Country: Larry King Is Hooked
A California payroll company wants your business to be its valentine. Ernst & Young begins its search for innovative entrepreneurs in Florida and around the nation. This is where not to die in 2013, and these are the 10 states where the most people live on the edge of financial ruin. Amazon creates its ownvirtual currency, and Virginia plans to look into minting its own money (but Canada stops making pennies). An island community in the Pacific Northwest mobilizes to take control of a dump. A Michigan suspenders company hooks Larry King to be its spokesman. Office Depot and Fran Tarkenton form a partnership to empower small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Business joins with Grow America to educate entrepreneurs. Is this the last video store?
Around the World: India’s Rural Olympics
General Motors announces its best sales month in China ever, but the country’s looming worker shortage threatens its economy. India holds its rural Olympics. Argentina freezes food prices. Worldwide soccer may be run by organized crime. Italy’s builders fear slower global demand. Markets in Hong Kong hit their highest levels in 18 months. A former king of England is foundunder a parking lot, but the Blackberry 10 is the new king of smartphone sales in Britain.
Technology: Best Small-Business Apps
Dell is going private. Bryan Glick is feeling sorry for Microsoft. Here’s acomparison of the Microsoft Surface RT and the Surface Pro. Brad Chacos and Chris Hoffman help you decide which version of Windows 8 is right for your business. Paul Mah says these tech upgrades will make your business run faster, and Daniel Saks has five tips for choosing the best small-business apps. Walter Cronkite predicts the rise of home offices (in 1967). The government isnot creating a free nationwide Wi-Fi network. Tracey Schelmetic welcomes you to wearable computing. This is how energy optimization software can reduce industrial power consumption. According to a new report, the cloud market for small and midsize businesses in the United States is now $18.9 billion and is expected to grow 19 percent through 2015. But Charles Babcock says that cloud implementation costs and complexity are surprising many companies.
Tweet of the Week
@StephenAtHome: Without the Canadian penny, what will we Americans occasionally get mixed up with our change? OUR pennies?
The Week’s Best
Brian Barrett says that five days of mail a week is still too much: “In an ideal world, mail delivered every day of the week would be totally feasible. In fact, why stop there? If mail once a day is good, mail twice a day would be even better. Or three times a day. Or, wait a minute, while we’re dreaming, what about correspondence delivered to you personally 24 hours a day, without limit or interruption, at no expense to you or the sender? Oh, wait. We have that.”
This Week’s Question: Will it affect your business when the Postal Service stops delivering on Saturdays?