Here’s another week full of news and events – the US Presidential Inauguration, World Economic Forum at Davos, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Benghazi, Apple slipping to the #2 ranking of biggest companies in the world, North Korea flexing their muscles yet again, women finally allowed in frontline combat in the US armed forces, the Dow Jones Index at an all-time high….. do I need to go on? Let’s try to pick out a handful of news that we can actually use, shall we?
1) 12 Business lessons to learn from Jeff Bezos – Some love him, some hate him. There is no denying that this ex-Wall Street guy has created a behemoth that many have failed to duplicate. While this is a good article, I still go back to the Fortune piece from 2012, which has some interesting stories of this idiosnycratic entrepreneur.
2) Nate Silver at Google – Statistician extraordinaire who did a great job with predictive analytics during the recent US presidential elections being interviewed at the “Authors at Google” series. Worth a listen. Maybe not as much fun as his appearance on The Daily Show where Jon Stewart called him “the Lord and God of the Algorithm”.
3) Founder of Intermix on how he sold his business for $130M - Khajak Keledjian and his brother Haro escaped war-ravaged Beirut for the safety of New York City (well, relatively speaking, of course). They then scraped together their savings and launched Intermix, a national women’s luxury clothing store in 1993. This month, they made headlines when they announced that Gap was acquiring Intermix for a cool $130 million. Nice work if you can get it. But, also, a true immigrant and survivor success story, don’t you think?
4) Davos pessimism about global economy - Big annual fest earlier this week. Clouds over Davos included anemic growth, rising social tensions due to wealth gaps, increased volatility in emerging markets and, of course, government debt globally.
5) The Untouchables (Financial Crisis) – Keeping with the somewhat gloomy tone, PBS put out an excellent documentary on Frontline this week about how none of the financial executives were really punished (beyond a few fines) for their roles in the financial crisis. Even though we’ve read and heard a lot about this since 2008, this documentary lifts the hood even further. So much so that the immediate next day after this aired, Lanny Breuer, the Department of Justice Chief who was in charge of the overall investigation, resigned.
6) Extraordinary tax deductions – Tax season is around the corner. Here’s an interesting inventory of very odd tax breaks that people have been able to get away with. The mind boggles. But, worth discussing with your financial advisor.
7) Local Governments helping local startups – Iowa announced this. But, it could become a blueprint for other states, countries, etc. Interesting policy to take up with your local politicians.
8) Venture Capital Seeker’s Saga – Speaking of startups, here’s a provocative take on why venture capital funding may not work for everyone. Caused quite the Twitter frenzy, let me tell ya….
9) US Census Bureau’s latest on the over-65s, students and self-employed – So, expected changes – more people over-65 in the workforce, more students working full-time (how/when do they study, drink beer, etc.?), while self-employment fell. Hmm. On a related note, USA Today also wrote about more people delaying retirement to continue working.
11) Prosper, peer-to-peer lending firm, raises $20M – So, while we’re not doing more for self-employment, immigrant entrepreneurs, etc., we’re definitely opening up avenues to get business loans. Oh, the irony.
Tips, Tools & Resources:
12) Get a small business makeover – CNBC is planning another reality show called The Big Fix to help all kinds of small businesses in need of transformations. As long as they don’t have Trump involved……
13) Power of analytics to drive loyalty - Since I mentioned Nate Silver earlier, let me close the loop as to why. This is an excellent post about how to use analytics in your business to understand and drive customer loyalty. There are also some additional resources at the bottom of the page that I need to look into.
14) Patent trolls and startups - Patent assertion entities (PAEs or trolls) regularly engage in the practice of sending patent demand letters to unsuspecting startups and small businesses in preparation for going after much larger entities. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
15) Cautionary crowdfunding story – Keeping with the cautionary tone of the previous story, here’s one about Kickstarter and a guy who went bankrupt as a result of a campaign. Sad.
16) Using coupons in your business – Not Groupon-style. Instead of using coupon codes to spur sales at checkout, savvy business owners are finding ways to leverage discounts to track customers, build affiliate relationships and more. Some good tips here.
17) Self-employed and looking for mortgage approval – Not easy. But, here are the facts for how things are in the US, at least.
18) Health insurance for hired sub-contractors – Nope. You don’t have to. Just in case you were wondering.
19) Facebook Places/Deals for Local Businesses – If you’re one of those business owners who shuns social media, think again. I will write a long post on this one of these days. This is going to be the way that most people will shop – no question.
20) What tax preparers charge – If you’re wondering about hiring one this year, here are some numbers to consider.
21) Tax receipt mess avoidance – So, if you’re still going to hire that tax preparer, you may want to ensure you have a better system for all your paperwork.
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