Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Evolve or Die

Small businesses must change with the times, or go the way of the buggy-whip makers. 

A new survey showed that more than half of small companies surveyed have reinvented their operations in the past two years. Check out my column on the topic, and while you're there take a look at Roscoe, the Bed Bug Hunting Beagle, and watch the ABC news report on how he does his thing. He's pretty amazing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaming Up For Success

Small- and mid-sized companies that team up to win government contracting work are more successful than those who try to go it alone.

Read my column on the topic this week.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dancing Fool

I am such a sucker for stuff like this, I think because it uniquely demonstrates such a tantalizing possibility: That we are all the world's people and none of the artificial barriers, despots and borders should be able to keep us apart forever.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Amway Et Al

My story on how regulation of the multi-level marketing industry failed to go through made the Bloomberg website today.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doing Good by Doing Well

Check out America's most-promising social entrepreneurs for 2012.

Our readers nominated some fascinating companies doing all sorts of terrific work around the world and here at home.

Look at the slide show and then cast your vote for the top company of the year.

Innies Vs Outies

No, we're not talking about belly buttons. (Greatest name for a body part ever, except for the funny bone.)

We're talking introverts vs extroverts and how they perform as CEOs. Check out this fascinating article on the topic from Amex OPEN.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Woman In The Moon

China sent its first woman astronaut into space this week. The news prompted a source of mine, James Chan, to muse about a Tang dynasty poem that tells the myth of Chang'e, the goddess who lives on the moon.

The poem, by Li Shangyin, predicts the regret Chang’e must feel, for though she has gained the perfection of heaven, she no longer has love and companionship. The poem "strikes an unbearable melancholy and anguish in the heart of anyone who understands and values love and human companionship," James writes. (Pretty artsy stuff for a business consultant, but as a former English major, I'm with him all the way!)

Watch the YouTube video of James reciting the poem and remembering his own childhood growing up in Hong Kong, where his mother's longed to have the same opportunities as a man.

Here's the poem's literal translation:

On the screen made with mother-of-pearl, shadows of burning candles get deeper and deeper
The Milky Way (Long River in the sky) gradually descends with nightfall and the morning stars have sunk low.
Chang’e should regret having stolen the magical pill (of immortality)
Because, every night, facing the deep blue sea, an azure sky, her lonely heart yearns for her love.
"All Chinese people, with no exception, knows of the myth and the story. I hope my inadequate command of the English language could help you come up with a translation that gets into the hearts of all Americans. That would be lovely," James writes. No need for my help, James, your translation is beautiful, thank you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reveal Day

Last week, I wrote about how Internet addresses are about to multiply exponentially due to applications for new "top-level domains" - i.e. the .com, .net, and org extensions.

Today was "reveal day," when ICANN (the organization that controls Internet names and numbers) put out the final list of all new top–level domain applications.

Here are some noteworthy items from my source who studies these things:

Amazon applied for 76 new gTLDs. Google applied for 101. Microsoft for 11. Facebook and Twitter did not apply.

Bloomberg applied for .Bloomberg, so our website may change sometime in the future - or maybe not.

There are 230 domains for which at least two applications were submitted.
Some interesting matchups to watch: Who will get .Tires? Goodyear or Bridgestone? Who will get .Mail? Google or Amazon?

After a comment period, ICANN will begin releasing the new domains early next year. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Negotiable

Negotiating confidently takes practice and confidence. It's often a weak point for small business owners and the self-employed, who give away too much, too soon.

Recently, a self-employed friend got caught off-guard with a request for her hourly rate. Flustered, she blurted out a price $10/hour lower than her already-undervalued compensation rate.

She needs the work and is happy to have a new contract. But a deep breath and a dose of nerve could have made the job far more worthwhile.

Here's a book that might have helped: The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Negotiating (Allworth Press, June 2012).

I haven't read it, so can't vouch for it, but I'm encouraged to learn that the author is a long-time small business owner himself. And I like the idea that it includes some sample negotiation scenarios, because I learn best by observing a process rather than studying it academically (and I bet a lot of self-employed/small biz owners feel the same!).

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Reality Check

Inventors have it tough. Getting from concept to prototype to market successfully is like navigating a mine field.

Not the least of the pitfalls are scammers who flatter and cajole their way to taking the naive inventor's money and showing no results.

Check out my column of cautionary advice to a frustrated inventor.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fill 'er Up

A Redwood City, CA small business wants to change the way you fuel your car. Check out my profile of Propel Fuels