NYT: This Week in Small Business: Reinventing the Toilet

(This post originally appeared in the New York Times)

The Big Story: A Running Mate

Mitt Romney picks Paul Ryan. Here are Mr. Ryan’s positions on small-business matters, and here is a discussion about whether Mr. Ryan is  the right candidate for small businesses. Aaron Carroll digs into Mr. Ryan’s Medicare proposals. Jillian Berman wonders whether Wall Street will like him. The president of the National Federation of Independent Business explains why small businesses are so big in politics. Bill Murphy Jr., offers five lessons in entrepreneurship to be learned from Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney.

The Economy: Breweries and Wineries

July retail sales jump, and some big box retail stores are growing. Breweries and wineries are also seeing significant growth. June conveyor shipments are up 35 percent over the previous year, and industrial production increases.Builder confidence continues to improve, but machine-tool orders slip and conditions in the New York region (pdf) have deteriorated. Small-businessconfidence declines, Google’s Motorola Mobilityis cutting 4,000 jobs, and FedEx is offering buyouts to employees. Timothy Taylor laments the country’sstagnant R.&D. effortConsumer prices stay flat, producer prices climb morethan expected, and Lam Thuy Vo explains what the prices on a very old menucan teach us about the economy. Meanwhile, the nation’s economists arequietly evacuating their families (according to The Onion, anyway).

Technology: Reinventing the Toilet

A new report says New York small businesses face a technology gap; barely half feel they are using technology enough (pdf) to be competitive (and a third do not have a Web site). Among some cool new ideas: bacteria-eating virusesthat may power cellphones, software to prevent texting behind the wheel, an implant that helps blind mice see and an advance that could turn wastewater treatment into an electricity producer. Bill Gates sponsors a reinvent-the-toilet challenge. Samsung expands its lead in the smartphone market but Research In Motion is not giving up. Pinterest introduces iPhone and Android apps. Google Plus introduces studio hangouts for musicians. Americanbroadband growth slows. Brian Moylan suggests five apps  the world desperately needs, including one that will let you do the following: “At a party, you run into a guy who greets you by name. You’ve met before, but you have no idea who he is. Snap a subtle photo of him. The software uses facial recognition software to troll Facebook and Google Image searches to ID him.”

Your People: Do You Delegate Too Much?

Gad Levanon sums up the main trends in the labor market. Josh Tolan explains how to use video to recruit talent. Disney is sued by a Muslim employee over its dress code. Devan Perine reports that healthy employeescontribute to healthy businesses. A Somali pirate becomes professional. Peter Nguyen discusses the delicate nature of delegating: “Not everything in your business should be delegated. … Make sure you are the one signing legal documents, closing deals with big clients, handling big press publications and keeping a close eye on company numbers, even with a C.P.A.’s help.” (Jay Goltz reveals the one task he can’t delegate.) Researchers at Small Business Labs say that Gen Y is delaying adulthood. A trucking company announces aprogram for owner-operators.

Management: The Dumbest Questions

Bradley Collins explains how public libraries are a boon to small businesses. This little accounting trick is behind 30 years of scandal. Here are five ways to make your business stand out, including: “Don’t be a jack of all trades.” The terms “F-bomb,” and “sexting” are in the new Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here are three reasons not to discount your prices. Martin Zwilling says the best entrepreneurs ask the dumbest questions. Marcus Sheridan shares astory of rejection and growth. In this video, Kirby Ferguson explains why everything is a remix.

Your Marketing: No More Robocalls

Citibank’s senior vice president for social media says: “In most cases, customer service in social media or social service is a failure.” But a bigger brain may help. A new tool will help drive customers to buy from more ethical businesses. Telemarketers are now prohibited from using recorded messagesin New York. These five brands use education to engage. Mike Vickers explainshow to become preferred in business. Here are four marketing tips from a Canadian convent and a few e-mail tips learned from “Seinfeld.” Jill Konrath suggests some e-mail prospecting tips of her own. Here are the Ten Commandments for business card marketing.

Start-Up: Immigrants Start Businesses

Immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in America in 2011 — despite accounting for just 12.9 percent of the population. This start-up feeds other start-ups (literally). A tech entrepreneur explains how Europe (yes, Europe!) is rocking the start-up world. A start-up wants to resell old digital songs. A membership club aims to soothe start-up stress with elite deals and access. Susan Schreter learned these lessons from Oprah Winfrey’s start-up,including: “It’s not ever wise to initiate customer-facing operations without 100 percent leadership attention and focus.”

Finance: Join the Club

Robert Moore describes the clubby world of venture capital. Eric V. Holtzclaw offers tips for getting cash faster. A report says that almost half of United States bank account holders will be using mobile banking by 2017. Small businesses are having trouble getting microloans.

Around the Country: Chinese Diapers

Niagara Falls, N.Y., takes a broad approach to attract more people. These five graphs show how crazy it is to compare California to Greece. Real estate in Minneapolis is hot. Syracuse may be the next city headed for bankruptcy. Frito-Lay rolls out more electric trucks in California. A paper mill reopens tomake more diapers for the Chinese, and a Chinese firm looks to invest $1 billion in a Texas clean energy project. Carbonite is holding a disaster-planning webinar for small businesses. A walk-on football player gets a scholarship.

Around the World: Russia Grows, Europe Sinks

Troubles abroad keep cash flowing to the United States. Russia posts a 4 percent growth rate even as Europe sinks back into recession. Africa grows too hot to grow chocolate. Grenada did the best at the Olympics (per capita).

Red Tape: Social Security Turns 77

It’s the 77th anniversary of Social Security, but its surplus is dwarfed by future deficits. An egg-regulation bill is being pushed in Indiana. The newimmigration rules go into effect. The cost of the auto industry bailout goes up, and Michael Panzner believes the job market and auto-buying market are out of sync. Daniel Costa says the State Department just created 4,000 new jobs in Alaska.

Tweets of the Week

@pamslim: Happy Sweet 16th birthday my self-employment. You have given me an amazing life along with a great living. Thank you!

@alanlepo: My new business plan. Rebuild some type of collaboration tool from 1995 using shinny new web and mobile tech and call it innovative.

@TheJoeGirard: You’re not gonna find business sitting down and blaming the recession.

This Week’s Question: Have you tried to get a microloan?


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About quickerbetterwiserblog

Gene Marks is a columnist, author, and small business owner. Gene writes 2 columns/week for The New York Times focusing on issues affecting the small business community. He also writes weekly columns in Forbes and The Huffington Post. His columns are read by millions of small and medium sized business owners around the country. Gene has interviewed celebrity business owners such as Donald Trump and Gene Simmons. Nationally, Gene frequently appears on FOX Business, FOX News, Bloomberg and CNBC discussing matters affecting the business community. Gene also appears quarterly on MSNBC’s “Your Business” program and weekly on various TV outlets in the Philadelphia area. In addition, Gene has appeared as a guest on numerous radio talk shows including The Sean Hannity Radio Show. Gene speaks at industry events throughout the year helping business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies so they can make profitable decisions. Gene has written five books on business management, specifically geared towards small and medium sized companies. His most recent is In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash— Simple Lessons from Smart Business People (Create Space, 2010). And Gene is a small business owner. Gene owns and operates the Marks Group PC, a highly successful ten-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses. The Marks Group PC, launched in 1994, has grown to help more than 600 companies and thousands of individuals throughout the country. Follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In.

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