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The closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores has big implications for small business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Last week, Walmart announced that it would be closing 63 of its under-performing Sam’s Club stores at various locations throughout the country. While most of the news centered around the thousands of employees that would be affected by the decision, there’s also another significant group of people that will also be negatively impacted: hundreds, even thousands of local small businesses.

The retailer has historically prided itself on the services it has provided its small business members which include (for an annual fee) discounts on bulk purchases on office supplies, food, materials and other goods, financing, payment solutions and even healthcare insurance. The chain also has special hours to accommodate its small business customers–many of whom start the day early. So it’s understandable why so many local merchants, restaurants, coffee shops and other small businesses were upset to learn of the sudden closures. Read More…

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Are traditional interviews a thing of the past?

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Are you still relying on the traditional interview to select a new employee? If you’re like me, you’ve probably never been 100 percent convinced that it’s truly effective. But we still go through the motions because that’s what we’ve always done.

That trend is starting a change, according to the 2018 Global Recruiting Trends Report released this week by social media giant LinkedIn. Read More…

An eminent domain battle in NYC could put this dry cleaner out of business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

“Eminent Domain” gives governments the power to take over private property if it’s determined that it’s for the public good. Most laws require that the government gives the property owner “just compensation” for the trouble. But what exactly is “just?”

Not $3.5 million, the amount offered by the city of New York to an East Harlem dry cleaning operation with three locations. The lot where the business stands, according to its owner, is worth more than $11 million. Read More…

These two high school kids are making six figures mowing lawns

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

People my age sometimes accuse younger generations–millennials and Gen-Zers–of not working as hard as they did when they were kids. Which, of course, is unfair and untrue. Want an example? Take RJ Duarte and Owen Johnson, two high-schoolers in Golden, Colo. who started a landscaping business back in 2014 called Green Worx.

There was no business plan, no venture capital and no bank loans. It was just RJ, who was doing a little yard work on his own. So much work in fact that RJ needed to bring on Owen…and a partnership was started. The two partners, through word of mouth and reputation, soon found themselves busier than ever.

The company now employs a full-time employee and part-time teams of other high-schoolers (at rates above Colorado’s minimum wage) to help with the day-to-day “heavy lifting.” An article in a local newspaper with a circulation of about 19,000 provided all the free advertising needed to get more clients and the two partners, in 2016, found themselves the recipients of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Ernst & Young Foundation. Read More…

British businesses are bullish for 2018

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

The United Kingdom is among the top 10 largest trading partners of the United States, accounting for about $100 billion in exports and imports so far in 2017. So the health of the British economy can have a significant impact for many U.S. businesses, both big and small. Good news: in 2018, things look like they’re going to be healthy for the British.

That’s the conclusion from a year-end survey conducted by a British manufacturer’s organization and the insurance firm AIG. The study found that 40 percent of those questioned were planning for growth this coming year while only 19 percent were expecting a downturn. The executives’ sentiments were buoyed by increased sales, job and profit numbers that were reported this past year. The weaker pound certainly didn’t hurt either. Many firms said they plan to spend invest in research and technologies to increase employee productivity in the near future. Read More…

More firms are now offering ‘pawternity’ benefits

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Think having a baby is rough? Just try bringing home a new puppy. All babies need is a couple of diaper changes, a few feedings and a burping session once in a while. But puppies? They need way more attention, particularly if you consider all the playing, the outdoor walks in the rain, the house training, the gnawing on furniture, the chewing of shoes, the non-stop barking and…did I mention the house training?

You know what I’m talking about, puppy-owners. It’s exhausting.

But don’t worry. It’s 2018. The labor market is tight, good employees are in high demand and paid time off, particularly for new parents, is a hot benefit many firms are offering. Now some of these firms are taking this concept one step further and offering the ultimate solution to the ultimate first-world problem: paid time off specifically for new pet owners. It’s called “pawternity” and no, I am not joking. Read More…

The Mississippi flag has become an big issue for this small business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

The Mississippi state flag incorporates a confederate flag. Is this good for business?

Not according to some. One merchant who is outspoken about the flag is Jan Rideout. Rideout owns a boutique shop in Ocean Springs, Miss., a small city of about 17,500 residents that also supports more than 150 independent shops like hers. Ocean Springs is known for its beautiful waterfront, beaches and picturesque setting and draws tens of thousands of visitors all year round to its art, music and food festivals. The town’s merchants, however, are concerned that the state’s flag may be hurting business.

Last November — and despite protests — the town’s leaders voted to make it a requirement to fly the flag at its City Hall and other city office buildings. Read More…