NYT: This Week In Small Business: Trash Talk

by Gene Marks

(This post originally appeared on the New York Times)

What’s affecting me, my clients and other small business owners this week.

The Big Story: Waiting For The Fed

The Fed discusses possible new action. Dylan Matthews thinks they will act. But Tim Duy believes the chances of QE3 are diminishing. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts a contraction in 2013 and Neal Lipschutz writes that “even if the “fiscal cliff”’ gets resolved, our outlook is still anemic.” However, small business bankruptcies continue to drop and Jeff Miller says we are in the early stages of a long-cycle recovery.


The Economy: Trash Talk

A new National Federation of Independent Businesses study lists the top five concerns of small-business owners. U.S. corporate earnings point to further gloom but the Chicago region shows increased economic(pdf) activity. Import traffic in July was the best in two years but sea container counts show the economy is still struggling. Low demand is keeping unemployment up and weekly jobless claimsunexpectedly rise. Sales of new residential homes rise and the housing recoveryappears to inch forward. Growth in the U.S. chemical industry is expected to remain slow through the end of 2012. U.S. carbon emissions drop and Brad Plumer explains what trash tells us about the economy.

Your Cash Flow: Still Trouble Getting Loans

Capital One says small-business finances improved in the last quarter but an Irish-American pub owner is one of the many entrepreneurs who have faced challengessecuring a loan. Minorities have also been largely shut out from small-business recovery loans. Sian Phillips offers some good tips for saving money at your office and your business. This tiny basketball player will make your jaw drop.

Your Employees: Open Plan Offices Create Stress

The end of a strike at Caterpillar is a blow to the labor movement. Two researchers consider how lighting improvements have impacted productivity. Employees feelmore stressed out and less productive when they work in open-plan offices. Principal Financial Group says the best companies increase their focus on keeping employees well. Independent young workers prefer to work at smaller firms. Emily Suess explains how to fire an employee. Southwest Airlines asks its employees for help. Verizon blacks out vacations near their expected iPhone launch.

Management: Declining With Age

Henry Rollins shares his three rules for success as an artist and entrepreneur. Kevin Purdy explains what successful entrepreneurs do with the first hour of their day. Why pay attention to baby boomers? Because half of adults age 65 or older are online. Carol Roth explains what a 76-year old can teach you about social networking and these old people share their lifetime advice. Entrepreneurial confidence may decline with age but Jerry Seinfeld and Alec Baldwin haven’t losttheir stuff. The Tootsie Roll empire’s secrets are revealed. Scott Anthony explains how to turn customer intelligence into innovation. Cleve W. Stevens says profit should not be the sole goal of your business. Here are a few easy ways to monitor your competition. TED reveals its 20 most popular talks.

Sales And Marketing: Isn’t That Sweet?

Jan Van der Linden and Naveen Jain urge you to bring more science to the art of sales: “Selling based on facts and insights is a critical skill and will become dramatically more important.” Jill Konrath believes that the “the Dreaded D-Zone” isthe root cause of most sales failure. Seth Godin shares some tattoo thinking. Simon Jackobson explains how your small-business can use online CRM to increase your sales. Tennis star Maria Sharapova names her new candy line “Sugarpova.” Here are five ways that getting back to school can get you back to business. These are the five top Google analytics reports for social media marketers. Allison wants you to keep your “snark” positive. Tamara Weintraub shares six tips to make your display advertising work including “…optimize your landing page. Your landing page should not only contain a similar design aesthetic, but it should also contain the same value proposition and feature any offers mentioned on your display ad.”

Your Red Tape Update: The Costs And Benefits Of Regulation

The Post Office vs. Amtrak: which one is more wasteful? A new political survey from Sage finds that 71% of small-business respondents want the Affordable Care Act repealed by Congress. Edward Aldean says that government regulations on business have both costs and benefits: “The burden of federal regulation has grown substantially over the past three decades, with real costs to U.S.-based manufacturing, and continues to grow. But the most costly regulations are those designed to improve air quality, reduce energy consumption, and ensure safe working conditions – goals the public generally favors.” This great graph shows historical tax rates.

Around The Country: A Shortage Of Farm Labor

Deloitte is busy launching a new initiative to demonstrate how inner city small-businesses can better position themselves to compete in an uncertain economy. An Oklahoma kindergartner is banned from wearing a Michigan shirt. Ex-Im Bank plans to open an office in Seattle for small-business exporters. California’s farm labor shortage is the ‘worst it’s been, ever’. A San Francisco grilled cheese purveyor becomes one of a dozen small-businesses from around the country to win theMission: Small-business competition. Even though the economy has small-business owners still scrimping on travel, Steve Strauss offers some great advice on getting around. A few small-business owners teach Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown all about beauty.

Around The World: India Gets Down

In Africa, small-businesses are learning lessons from big companies. The Panama Canal’s growth prompts U.S. ports to expand. India’s CPI is down to only…9.86%! Maelle Gavet says Russia is an amazing country to be an entrepreneur. China’s manufacturing falls to a nine month low yet assumes a growing role in U.S. infrastructure. Further aid for Greece is debated.

Technology: Microsoft Responds To Apple

Apple’s market cap reaches an all-time record. In response, Microsoft updates its logo. The effect of the Internet over the past 10 years is astonishing and Janko Roettgers share five things he’s learned from 20 years of email including: “I’m old. Sure, I also use all of those other ways of communication. But I grew up with email, and it will always be what I’m gonna check first thing in the morning.” A new hover vehicle is unveiled. A Google contractor reveals the dark side of the Internet. Hewlett Packard posts a record quarterly loss and loses 4,000 employees. Brother International launches a new series of color inkjet printers for small-business. Amazon launches a low cost data storage service. This innovator’s camera is at the leading edge of the new field of computational photography. PayPal joins with Discover to boost the mobile payments momentum.

Tweets Of The Week

@garyvee – I have no interest in making the most money in the world. I have an interest in having the most people at my funeral.

@PFripp – Shameless self-promotion is not only desirable, it’s essential. Advertise yourself!

@ValaAfshar – Managers who are first interested, second interesting, will be successful with social media.

The Week’s Best

Steve Cooper feels that among the eight ways fantasy football can boost your business acumen is not drafting the Raiders. “Why? Because I really, really don’t like the franchise. What this means in the business world is don’t go into business with a company or person that you don’t like.”

Anthony K. Tjan says that lack of guts is “perhaps the most common barrier to entrepreneurial success. Guts are about having the courage to initiate, endure, and evolve around an idea. This trait can be absolutely influenced, amplified or acquired over time — and building up guts may thus be the most important way in which entrepreneurs can be developed.”

Question: Are you too snarky?