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Archive for the ‘small business’ Category

By Jim Kolettis, Mahar Manufacturing

My wife and I watched the movie “The Social Network” this weekend about the founding of Facebook. It’s an interesting story about the evolution of a business that has essentially changed the world overnight. The model created a footprint for other social networks. And social networks are a game changer for everyone in business.

Social networks allow people to communicate directly, without filters, without news media, corporations or government telling them what or how to think. If you don’t believe me look at the enormous role they are playing in the current challenges in Egypt and the Middle East by allowing people to communicate directly even when the powers that be try to send a different message.

Facebook has become a noun today. It’s part of the culture. And yet, the founding of this idea that became a multi-billion dollar enterprise was in 2004 — Less than seven years ago!!! Just think, it took radio like 38 years to reach 50 million listeners, TV took a little less and the Internet took ten years to reach 100 million users. Facebook, in business 7 years, has about 600,000,000 users.

I am not sure what the implications are for us as a manufacturer. We still depend on “one-on-one” selling. LinkedIn is more of a B2B social network and I have tried to impress on those in my network that I’m available to assist them in any way I can, even if it has nothing to do directly with our product line. It is difficult for me to figure out how I am going to connect and make a sale to a retailer because I am their Facebook friend. I’ll let you know the results as we figure it out.

If you are a retailer, the implications of Facebook are enormous because that’s where the people are, and therefore that’s where retailers should be.

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Small business expert Andre Taylor on how to make your company thrive in 2011.

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Steven Kroll, managing director at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., talks about the U.S. deficit and economy. Kroll also speaks about the tax-cut agreement President Obama reached with Republicans, the performance of U.S. stock and bond markets, and his investment strategy. He talks with Matt Miller and Carol Massar on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” Dan Deming of Stutland Equities LLC also speaks. (Source: Bloomberg)

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By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

As a manufacturer in the school furniture market, the NSSEA School Equipment Show is our biggest show each year.  We talk all year about what our plans are and what we are hoping to get out of it.  We have had a good show this year.

I think most people who are here would agree that the show seems to be smaller than last year’s show. It felt like the traffic in the aisles was way down, and the booth “footprint” felt smaller.  If you came here hoping to set up your booth and draw in new prospects, this had to have been a disappointing year.  None of that, of course, is not a good thing.  However, as a manufacturer of furniture that is too big and heavy to drag around the country showing off to your dealer-partners, we use this week to show new ideas and products while training new dealer sales people.  And this year was a bonus for us since we recently added two new sales team members, so they got to meet many of their key contacts this week.

Our top 30 dealers account for over 90 percent of our sales and most of them were here this year.  If you wandered by our booth you saw a very busy place most of the first two days.  Relationships were renewed or created, there was some “surprise and delight” new product ideas, and generally we had a great week.

One more thing that I found interesting was the number of people in the show hall “before hours.”  I don’t remember seeing so many groups taking advantage of that time for dedicated group meetings in their booths before.  And while there is some extra cost involved, it is a great way to have uninterrupted quality time with bigger groups of customers.

Hope you were in Phoenix this year, too, and that you had a great week, too!

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The Fed unveiled a new plan to buy $600 billion of U.S. Treasurys over the next eight months, hoping to spur growth in a disappointingly slow U.S. economy. Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Craig Barrett, chairman of Irish Technology Leadership Group, talks about the U.S. educational system, corporate outsourcing and tax rates. Barrett, the former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.”  (Source: Bloomberg)

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A new survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on April 13, 2010 suggests that the small companies are not anymore optimistic about the economy today, than they were during the heart of the recession and now.

According the new survey, the pessimistic outlook is slowing down job creation and weakening the overall growth of the economy.  The NFIB’s optimism index indicates that there has been a significant drop in optimistic views in the month of March. The optimism index dropped 1.2 points to 86.8 percent.

The NFIB’s optimism survey began in 1973 and the NFIB’s index has been below 90 percent for the last 18 months. This is the longest period since the survey began. Between the years 1981 and 1982, the index fell below 90 for a brief three-month period.

Small companies say that weak sales and uncertainty about the economy are leading concerns in their day to day life. Obtaining credit from lenders is another issue many small business owners face. About 15 percent surveyed said that it was a lot harder to get credit now, rather than the last time they sought to obtain loans. On a more positive note, the survey also indicated that small businesses are not laying as many employees.

For more information about the NFIB survey, visit http://www.nfib.com/.

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