Trade relations between the US and China sour. After nearly two years of negotiations, China has rejected claims made by the United States and European Union that its export quotas on raw materials violated WTO rules. According to the US and EU, export duties on raw materials like coking coal distorted the global market, hurting manufacturers of steel and other products. China says it put those quotas in place as an environmental safeguard. China's response comes in the middle of already tense relations, reports the Financial Times. China wants the US to lift its ban on Chinese poultry imports (the EU lifted a six-year ban last year). The US wants China to drop its requirement that computers sold in the country contain an internet filtering software called Green Dam, in large part because it blocks US computer makers from the Chinese market. Brandeis professor Chad Brown tells the Times, "Obviously a continued escalation of these cases against China's exports increases protectionist sentiment. In the current climate of the global economic crisis, this raises the concern of a global spiral of protectionism."
Intro to analytics. You wouldn't write a letter to someone knowing they would use it to play garbage-can basketball before reading it, so why blast out e-mails knowing they'll be relegated to the trash folder? Web analytics tools can be cheap and they are almost always helpful in identifying how to make the most of your online presence. CNN Money reviews a handful of these analytics services and tells the story of one small business owner who more than doubled the amount of time readers spent on his newsletter. Our own Max Chafkin had online-marketing experts review Bonobos.com's analytics reports to find out how the Web site achieved its early success, and where to go from there -- here are their findings.
A frachisee's revolt. If you've visited a casual sit-down restaurant chain in the past few months, chances are you've come across deals like two-for-ones, half-off entrees, and other incentives trying to get you in the door. While the deals have helped chains like Applebee's, Chili's, T.G.I. Fridays stay afloat in a touch climate, some franchisees who operate the individual restaurants have protested the price reductions, The New York Times reports this morning. One such franchisee, Ross Farro, who has seven T.G.I. Friday's in Ohio and Pennsylvania, admitted to removing discount menu inserts after lunch and before dinner because of the effect it was having on his margins. "We're giving the food away," he says. Though some of these casual restaurant chains are struggling, the fast-casual restaurant industry, with more informal restaurants such as Chipotle and Panera that do not provide table service, is one of our Best Industries for Starting a Business. And for more on the dangers of relying on discounts in your restaurants, make sure you check out our forthcoming July/August cover feature, which includes advice from a successful restaurateur with 18 locations in the Denver area.
Networking for the shy CEO. If the thought of mingling at a business conference makes your skin crawl, you might have networking-itis, otherwise known as shyness. But the Times advises that networking doesn't have to start with strangers. You can begin by seeking out familiar faces. "Starting with someone you know makes it easier to get your networking career under way," says Meredith Levinson of CIO.com. It's even suggested that having introverted tendencies can make an entrepreneur more intuitive and analytical, skills that can really help in, say, running a business.
Netbooks in, PCs out. The first-quarter numbers for PC shipments are in and they aren't good: down 8.1 percent from last year and down 14 percent from the previous quarter, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley. And they don't expect those numbers to rise until the last quarter of 2009. As Time.com reported, while the recession continues to impact the technology industry, there is a bright spot amidst the storm: netbooks. They are smaller, faster and cheaper than larger laptops and provide the simple but essential things for every on-the-go business owner. But even while the unit volume of netbooks sales are aiding tech companies, the companies' revenues continues to decline. For more information on netbooks check out this blog post from The Goods.
The new D.C. area resort. The New York Times takes a look today at National Harbor, the new 300-acre resort area along the Potomac River in Maryland that is starting to attract business travelers, condo residents, and tourists. While the area is soon to be the home of a new Disney resort, it is already the home of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, host of last year's and this year's Inc. 500|5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony. All leaders of the entrepreneurial community are welcome, so if you don't want to miss speakers such as Jim Collins, Norm Brodsky, and Tony Hsieh, register now.
Budding entrepreneur among D.C. crash victims. On a somber note this morning, the Washington Post reports that among the victims of the D.C. Metro train crash was 23-year-old LaVonda King, an aspiring entrepreneur. Just last Friday, King signed the paperwork on her D.C.-area salon space, which she dubbed LaVonda's House of Beauty. Prior to boarding the train, King had been talking with her mother on her cell phone about their plans to make fliers to promote the new business. Officials are still looking into the cause of the crash, although overdue brake work is being cited as a possibility.