What's in the stimulus bill for you? Slow down -- the bill clocks in at 1,000 pages. The New York Times posed this question to a few small business owners and they came up with some interesting answers. Some pointed to the tax credit for hiring disadvantaged workers, (including a demographic oddly referred to as "disconnected youths"), or a provision that would boost SBA lending. Still, it's not all rosy. The Times spoke to Leonard Steinberg, a tax specialist in West Windsor, New Jersey, whose clients are "mom and pop retailers, limited liability companies and S corporations — corporations that elect to have their income pass through to the shareholders." Those type of companies, according to Steinberg, won't see any direct benefit from the stimulus. Ouch.
And the Oscar came from'¶The WSJ has a piece on the 71-year-old family-owned manufacturer, R.S. Owens & Co. which makes the coveted shiny gold statues doled out on Oscar night. Each little man weighs 8.5 lbs. and measure 13.5 inches tall, according to the article. The owner of the Chicago-based R.S Owens won't disclose how much they get for each statue and denies any insider-knowledge of Oscar winners. The company does get two tickets to the event each year, a prize awarded to outstanding employees. (For a deeper look into the world of R.S. Owens, take a look at our story from 2003)
Entrepreneurship may be declining. Case Western Reserve University professor Scott Shane has some disturbing research that indicates that at least one sector of entrepreneurship is waning. As summarized at a Independent Street , Shane argues, that while there's a general perception that entrepreneurship has risen in recent years, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says otherwise. The U.S. self-employment rate has fallen from by .6 percent in the last decade. Keep in mind that this is just one way of measuring entrepreneurship, and that BLS figures on employment are often not the whole story.
Measuring buzz. YouNoodle, the website that purports to use a computer algorithm to put a dollar value on any start-up, has launched a new service. YouNoodle now ranks 27,000 "high potential" startups by how much buzz their getting. To determine the ranking YouNoodle looks at media stories, blog postings, and social networking activity. Right now Craigslist and Facebook claim the highest rankings. See how your start-up rates here, and check out our story on YouNoodle in Inc.'s December issue.
How NOT to attack a competitor. Look no further than the silly and misguided letter that Intuit sent to it's competitor Mint. (We wrote about Mint and its founder Aaron Patzer in our young entrepreneur feature back in October). Intuit doubted Mint's growth claims and that it had so quickly accumulated over 930,000 users. So they decided to write a letter demanding to know how Mint defined the term "user." TechCrunch got a hold of Intuit's decidedly passive aggressive challenge, as well as Mint's response. TechCrunch's summary is right on point: "The bottom line here is that Mint is growing so quickly (it will soon pass one million users—no doubt spurred by the bad economy and tax season), that its competitors literally can't believe it."
How to revitalize the Rust Belt. Saving the Big Three won't revitalize the Midwest -- that's a job for thousands of small businesses. That's the argument is making the rounds among many economists and big thinkers, and BizBox has a pile of links backing it up. For one, Youngstown, Ohio has launched a nonprofit incubator to support entrepreneurship, drawing on Pittsburgh's example. (No word on whether or not Bruce Springsteen has plans to rewrite his elegy to Youngstown's faded industrial glory.)
Deals haven't died. We've all heard about the death of venture capital, the lost IPO market, and shrinking credit. But companies, even those in smaller cities, are actually being sold. Some highlights: The Austin American-Statesman reported today on the sale of Mirage Networks, a network security software company. (Mirage had raised $40 million in VC funding). In Nashua, Maryland, Integrated Labeling Systems, which makes RFID technology, was also sold, the Nashua Telegraph reports. And in Portland, Oregon, Gleukos, an all-natural sports drink maker, was sold for an undisclosed amount, according to the Portland Business Journal.