A New SBA rule, Online Ads Lag, and Kevin Kelly's Start-up Life
BY Ryan McCarthy
Don't quit your day job. At least not until your start-up pans out. That's what the Wall Street Journal suggests. The WSJ profiles several entrepreneurs who juggled full-time and start-up work. For one thing, it helps to have a partner who isn't a nine-to-fiver. Oh, and about your free time: "You check your personal life at the door," says Brian Spaly, who for a while worked full time at a private-equity firm while building Bonobos Inc., a designer and online retailer of men's slacks.
New SBA rule court hurt sellers, valuations. A new SBA rule could make it an even worse time to sell your business. Starting March 1, the SBA will limit "goodwill" financing to 50 perfect of the loan amount, the Washington Post reports.(The article suggests that, previously, the SBA would finance up to 80 percent of the goodwill portion of the loans it guarantees.) Goodwill, which is typically defined as intangible assets like customer loyalty and intellectual property, is always hard to value. But it's a key component of a small company's worth. For buyers and sellers of small companies, the new rule is sure to increase the importance of having hard assets. Business brokers, not surprisingly, are up in arms.
A report from the entrepreneurial front. Former Business Week reporter and current CEO of Emerald Packaging Kevin Kelly talks about the challenges his business is facing: "Just two years ago, our average customer paid us in 21 days. Today, that has stretched out to 30 days. One customer basically hasn't paid us in five months. And though we've been cozy with our bank for years, they recently tried to renegotiate our credit line. No wonder I'm drinking a glass of wine with dinner, a practice I cut out several years ago in a bid to trim my midsection." There's video, as well.
Obama and entrepreneurs, continued. After his big address to the nation, what can we conclude about the president's agenda and small business? Independent Street breaks it down. Healthcare reform, government investment in renewable energy, and efforts to get credit moving could all benefit small business. But Republicans are worried about the impact of higher taxes on entrepreneurship and job creation. For more of Inc.'s coverage on the stimulus and small business, see here and here.
Brace for the online fallout. Online advertising is expected to fall by five percent for the first quarter of 2009, according to the Wall Street Journal. That may not sound like much, but it could be bad news for a gaggle of Internet start-ups that are already struggling to get to profitability. It's been taken as an article of faith by many that online advertising would somehow buck the recession. In fact, as Sarah Lacy points out, analysts had previously predicting growth of 10 percent this year. This means that business plans that looked good six months ago may look a lot shakier today.
A new spin on the 10-minute break. Make them exercise! That's the advice of a UCLA physician, who says that companies should organize short, paid exercise breaks to help encourage workers to get in shape. Of course, getting workers healthier is a great way to keep health insurance premiums low, but it may also increase productivity, according to the NPR segment that describes the idea. At L.L. Bean's factory, workers take three 5 minute exercise breaks a day, which the company says gives the company the equivalent of 30 extra minutes of work from each employee.
Here's $300, kindly stop doing business with us. If you're using an American Express card to cover any cash flow snags during the recession, you might want to take note. In a bid to rid itself of, well, customers, the company is offering a prepaid $300 credit card if you cancel your account, all under the guise as a helpful service to simplify your finances, reports the HuffPo.
Peanut recall hurts small companies. The Peanut Corporation of America's salmonella outbreak sickened 660 people, the Times reports today, and the same outbreak is also ailing a swath of small businesses. One displeased businessman is Jay Littman, a Las Vegas chef who has a line of baked goods: "I take great pride in my work,' Mr. Littman said. 'My name and my picture are on my products.' Now, at trade shows where he would like to do "goodwill," he said he finds himself talking about the recall."
An extra hot latte. Perhaps, you've heard your local greasy spoon boast about offering a "bottomless cup of coffee"? Well, brace yourself for a topless cup of joe. That's what's offered by the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro, Maine. (The name pretty much says it all). According to the Boston Globe , topless employees will serve up the morning brew at this 18-and-over shop, that's opening up despite community resistance.