Wealth Declines, Default Entrepreneurs, and Zuckerberg Visits Oprah
BY Ryan McCarthy
Your customer is now 18 percent poorer. The average American family saw an 18 percent decline in their personal wealth, reports the Wall Street Journal. That's a total decline of $11 trillion. If you think this is a reason to cut prices, tread carefully. Check out our guide to recession pricing from this month's issue here.
Founder of Cape Cod Chips dies. Like many entrepreneurs, Stephen Bernard's career followed a circuitous path. After getting a degree in economics, he hitchhiked cross-country, fought forest fires in Alaska, sailed to the Turks and Caicos Island, and fished for tuna out of New Bedford, according to an AP obituarytoday. Bernard would go on to found Cape Cod Potato Chips, which brought kettle-cooked chips back into vogue and attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors a year to its plant in Hyannis, Massachusetts. For more on Bernard's life see our coverage.
Entrepreneurial, by default. Today from the New York Times: Out of work and out of options, more people are looking for work as freelancers, aided by websites that allow them to advertise their work and bid on contracts. Traffic for places like Elance, oDesk, and Guru where up last year and looks likely to increase again. The sites deduct a commission, freelances connect with their clients, and businesses are able to fill gaps created by layoffs and hiring freezes.
Lumber as Object Lesson. At the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami last week, 37Signals Founder Jason Fried picked an unusual topic in a talk delivered to software developers: byproducts of manufacturing processes. Beginning by pointing out that web companies still hadn't figured out how to make a lot of money from many new technologies, he described how the lumber industry discovered it could make money selling sawdust. Then he urged software businesses to consider selling (or finding ways to make money from) their intellectual byproducts. Fried's company 37Signals has created ancillary revenue streams by selling books. He summarizes in this blog post: "Think hard about what you do. Look closely at everything you do. There are probably by-product opportunities everywhere. Hell, even your office space could be a by-product. You rent it to work, but what about after hours?"
BBB cracks down. Across the country, the Better Business Bureau is increasing its efforts to combat increasingly rampant frauds that target businesses and consumers. In Milwaukee they're targeting mailings from debt consolidators reports ABC's WISN, while in Arizona the Daily Star reports on free classes for business owners dealing with the rocky economy. Chicago's eNews Park Forest reports on another BBB initiative: warning small businesses to be wary of scams involving bogus awards.
Facebook founder talks to Oprah's. Tech bloggers are speculating about what Mark Zuckerberg's appearance on Oprah later today. Sure to be on the agenda says Valleywag is Oprah's new ad-friendly Facebook page. AllThingsD hears that an as yet unnamed celebrity Facebook addict might call in to talk up the service. The NYT's Brad Stone says Zuckerberg logged in some serious hours with his PR advisors earlier this week to prepare.
Uncle Sam wants you (to work for him). Independent Street has a roundup of resources with great tips on how to get government contracts. The federal procurement process is complicated, and you'll have to navigate a patchwork of rules differing from agency to department to administration. But thanks to the stimulus package, there are plenty of opportunities.