Profit Minded
  • Are special interests hijacking small businesses’ advocates?

    Hidden Agenda?

    The National Federation of Independent Businesses calls itself “America's leading small business association, promoting and protecting the right of our members to own, operate, and grow their businesses.” It’s the group that took its lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the law was unconstitutional and that it would stymie growth among small businesses, and even force some to shut down.

    Another small business association, the non-partisan Small Business Majority, filed a Friend of the Court brief in defense of Obamacare. It said the Affordable Care Act would save small businesses money and potentially increase their competitiveness. But that group has already been linked more strongly to liberal causes and the Democratic Party than to small business interests.

    Still, it seemed curious that NFIB would go to such lengths making the complete opposite argument on behalf of its members, when most of them would not be impacted by the new

    Read More »from Are special interests hijacking small businesses’ advocates?
  • An entrepreneur’s app helps you hunt down your next collaborator

    PeopleHunt at work

    Maybe it’s the result of being born in Mexico City, raised in New York City, carrying an Irish passport, and living in Berlin, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, London, and San Francisco by age 34, but Adrian Avendano is obsessed with meeting and collaborating with new people.

    So, as a software engineer and self-proclaimed hacker, he set out to master the science of connecting: What conditions need to exist for like minded people in a crowd or a city to find each other and create something together?

    With his partner and fellow hacker Ellen Dudley, an Irish biomedical engineer, Avendano developed an iPhone app called PeopleHunt that aims to facilitate useful human introductions. A bit like Meetup, but for enabling spontaneous, one-on-one interactions, the app has spawned numerous business and personal relationships among more than 2,500 users. It has also captured $40,000 in equity-free financing, and sparked interest in the Bay Area investment community, he says.

    With the slogan "life's a

    Read More »from An entrepreneur’s app helps you hunt down your next collaborator
  • Career Mistake

    There are some core mistakes that can derail any career if you aren't careful. Make sure you don't make them...

    • Don’t Quit Networking Once You Get a Job: People are usually vigilant about networking when looking for a job but stop once they're hired. Your long term career success is dependent on your ability to continue to build strong business connections as well as nurturing current relationships.
    • Put More Focus on Benefits: When looking for a job, weighing the options is about much more than base pay. The role, manager and compensation are all important factors in deciding whether to join a company, but benefit programs (such as work-hour flexibility, health and wellness programs and family leave policies) and company culture are critical factors as well. More than ever, the lines between work and home life are blurring and working for a company that understands that can save you a lot of stress and money.
    • Be the Driver of Your Own Destiny: Too many people depend on their manager or
    Read More »from Tips for Avoiding Career Missteps
  • Late for Meetings? You’re a Typical Boss

    Late for meeting

    Even before he took the oath of office, New York City ’s new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, was raising hackles around town: He runs chronically late. A mock Twitter account set up to track his arrival record at press conferences, @HowlatewasBdB, won more than a few followers before being closed.

    But NYC reporters aren’t the only ones annoyed by waiting around for leaders who are tardy to their own meetings: Nearly 60 percent of all business meetings are delayed; more than half of participants admit to being less than punctual; and CEOs, CTOs, and company founders are the worst offenders, according to a recent “State of the Modern Meeting” report.

    Blue Jeans Network, a provider of cloud-based video collaboration services, says it produces the semi-annual survey and report about meeting trends “because most professionals claim to spend half of every business day in meetings.” The company says its research demonstrates how technology is reshaping business meetings worldwide.

    To be sure,

    Read More »from Late for Meetings? You’re a Typical Boss
  • Prototype

    You’re an independent, would-be inventor with an idea for a new product. You’ve even designed it with computer automated design software or printed out a model on a MakerBot. Next step: Manufacture an industrial grade prototype.

    Our recent article about Rainbow Loom inventor Cheong-Choon Ng explains his decision to go to China for an injection mold of his small, plastic handloom toy: U.S. manufacturers quoted him $20,000 just to make the mold. In China he could get the mold and his first batch of products for half that. And half was all that the first-time entrepreneur had to his name.

    But, as our story explained, he paid for that decision when his first shipment of 10,000 plastic loom hooks arrived mis-sized. It took him a year to file each one down by hand at home.

    Had Ng known about a company called Proto Labs, he might have had an easier time.

    Brad Cleveland, CEO of the Maple Plain, Minn., company, says his ideal customer is “anybody who needs a protoype or low volume production and

    Read More »from How Proto Labs makes manufacturing in the USA possible for more inventors
  • How a 15-year-old entrepreneur got her product into Nordstrom

    Fish Flops founder Madison Robinson meets one of her Nordstrom customers

    Yahoo editors have selected this article as a favorite of 2013. It first ran on Yahoo Small Business on May 31 and was one of the most popular stories of the year. The article describes how teenager Madison Robinson won big success for her line of colorful flip flops for kids.

    She launched her business two years ago, but Houston teenager Madison Robinson has yet to face something most new entrepreneurs do: rejection. Every store buyer she has approached has placed an order for her Fish Flops for Kids shoe brand.

    Robinson came up with the idea for her sea-creature-adorned flip-flops with battery-operated lights when she was just 8, living at the beach in Galveston Island, Tex. Her dad Dan, a former banker turned t-shirt designer, helped her turn her drawings into a product and get samples made. More than 30 stores placed orders the first time they exhibited at a trade show, so he hired an overseas manufacturer and started shipping in May 2011.

    Launched with “friends and family” financing,

    Read More »from How a 15-year-old entrepreneur got her product into Nordstrom
  • Survey: Projecting growth, most small businesses optimistic about 2014

    In spite of everything—limited loans, cash-strapped customers, healthcare woes, and a government shutdown—it’s been a half decent year for many small businesses. At least that’s what the Rocket Lawyer Semi-Annual Small Business Survey shows. The online legal services provider surveyed 1,000 of its customers who own U.S. small businesses and found that more than half experienced growth that met or exceeded their expectations in 2013, and 80 percent expect 2014 to be even better.

    Business owners aren’t wearing rose-colored glasses, though. Economic recovery is still a top concern: 50 percent say economic uncertainty is the primary impediment to their growth and 30 percent are still significantly worried about overall economic growth and health.

    Priorities for the New Year? Business owners surveyed put marketing and brand initiatives ahead of raising funds, developing new products or services, hiring, or international expansion. More than 40 percent say they’re focused on increasing their

    Read More »from Survey: Projecting growth, most small businesses optimistic about 2014
  • Smarts, Luck and Hard Work

    Hard Work

    When the confluence of these three things happen simultaneously there can be magic in the air. Of course, that’s the magic everyone is seeking. Whether they are seeking to become a newly minted entrepreneur or whether they are a seasoned industry veteran. Corralling the smarts, creating the luck and putting in the hard work takes effort.

    The good news is… each of these can be learned and earned.

    For those seeking to stand out in their career there is work to be done upfront. Those that put in the work up front will find that their hard work will pay off as they “create” their own luck and it will all seem like magic to an outside observer. But, they’ll know how much hard work went into their overnight success.

    Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. ~ Thomas A. Edison

    Sure there are those that happen upon a great idea or have a flash of inspiration, but these magical situations are rare. It’s even more rare to know what to do… and then to do everything just

    Read More »from Smarts, Luck and Hard Work
  • 5 Creative Marketing tactics small businesses can use without breaking the bank

    Shawn PrezThe holiday season marks the time when companies begin bombarding consumers with expensive commercials and marketing campaigns. Toys “R” Us, for example, spent $88.3 million on marketing for the holiday season in 2012. Small businesses, with more down-to-earth budgets, often get lost among the multi-million dollar campaigns for major retailers and brands.

    This year, small businesses should focus on using unique marketing methods to reach a larger audience, instead of trying to compete with big retail advertisements and glitzy marketing campaigns. The following are five cost-effective and creative marketing tactics that will help your small business get recognized this holiday season:

    1. Social Media Marketing: Seventy-seven percent of adults in the 30-49 age bracket use social media, according to Pew Research Center. Since this age range represents a significant portion of those in a household with purchasing power, make sure you target your audience through social media platforms such as
    Read More »from 5 Creative Marketing tactics small businesses can use without breaking the bank
  • MobileShoppingByDayGraphic

    Americans spent $1.1 billion shopping on their mobile devices on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Purchases made by smartphone and tablet accounted for more than 20 percent of the $5.28 billion in online sales during the three super shopping days, according to an Adobe Digital Index analysis based on nearly 900 million visits to 2,000 retail sites and 3+ billion visits since Thanksgiving.

    In total, $7.4 billion in online sales were generated over the five days from Thursday through Monday.

    It was a record-setting weekend all around, and especially for mobile device shopping, according to Adobe, which tracks online sales and says its Adobe Marketing Cloud funnels 7 out of 10 dollars spent online with the top 500 U.S. retailers. Total online sales for the 5-day opening weekend of holiday shopping season rocketed up 26 percent from 2012, while mobile sales jumped 80 percent.

    “Consumers took full advantage of their mobile devices to shop on Thanksgiving Day and ‘omnishop’ while

    Read More »from Thanksgiving weekend shoppers send retailers a message: We’re going mobile


(442 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

Editor for Yahoo! Small Business

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