Calculating Startup Costs; Obama's Small-Biz PItch
BY Kasey Wehrum
How to calculate startup costs. The Wall Street Journal takes a page (literally) from its upcoming book, The Wall Street Journal Complete Small Business Guidebook to give some tips on how to estimate startup costs. The best mantra for this process? The more detail, the better. Start by brainstorming everything you'll need to start--from tangible goods to professional services--then attach prices. You'll need to divide things into one-time costs, like acquiring a permit, and an operating budget for the first six months or year. The article links to a worksheet and gives tips on how to estimate expenses like location, employees, and inventory. But the best advice comes from a University of Pennsylvania business professor who left academia to open up his own restaurant: "Figure out your start-up costs, then double that number. Then double it again. Only then will you have a realistic number."
The president makes his pitch to small businesses. Fresh off the disappointing news about Chicago's failed Olympic bid, President Obama is refocusing his efforts on his healthcare reform agenda, this time hoping to win small-business owners over to his side by selling them on the benefits of his plan. Bloomberg reports on the President's weekly radio address, in which he said he regularly hears from small-business owners who can't grow their companies due to high health-care costs and entrepreneurs who are reluctant to start new ventures because of health-insurance concerns. The Senate Finance Committee is set to vote on their version of the legislation this week.
Capitalizing on high unemployment rates. While an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent might spell trouble for many small businesses, some are viewing it as economic opportunity, the Chicago Tribune reports. Columnist Ann Meyers writes of two area businesses that have dived headfirst into the pool of unemployed workers with the notion that they will be able to hire for lower salaries and train at lower costs since many of those who have lost jobs are skilled laborers. One health-care firm, Extended Care Clinical in Evanston, Ill., has begun a recruiting committee to provide paid nursing education at colleges in a bid to lure new employees. Meanwhile, Chicago-based marketing firm Vodori has doubled its workforce to 23 in one year and plans to add three to five workers by the end of December. "This is a great time to go on the offense," said Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll. "If you're looking to staff up and hire ... you can get them for less money than you used to." Click here for more reasons why hiring during an economic downturn might benefit your company.
Can old media save new media? Given today's news that publishing stalwart Conde Nast is closing four magazines, that prospect seems unlikely. But Fred Wilson flags a story in the New York Times that challenges conventional assumptions about the relationship between traditional newspapers and upstart websites. The Times reports that blog network Curbed is outsourcing its local ad sales to dead tree newspaper the Village Voice. Wilson explains: "Traditional local media companies; radio stations, TV stations, local newspapers, and the like, are in a tough situation. Each of those businesses had a monopoly or near monopoly on their audiences a decade ago. Now none of them do," he writes. "But there is one asset that is still quite significant and the value of it is growing, not shrinking. It is their large, well trained, and well connected salesforces."
The cellphone: an evolution in pictures.PC World takes a look at the history of cellphones--from 88-pound MTA phones that were so heavy and power-hungry they needed to be installed in a vehicle, to the iPhone, a smartphone that finally realized the dream of a computer in our back pocket.
Will Comcast fence Hulu behind a pay wall? Cable companies are up in arms about Hulu, the free online video site backed by a partnership of NBC, Fox, and Disney, but cable giant Comcast does not intend to sit idly on the sidelines. The cable company is in talks with NBC about forming a new company that would own 30 percent of Hulu, according to the LA Times. Given Comcast's well known sentiments about Hulu serving up free content, this stake in the company could give them the muscle to try to change Hulu's business model. Making people pay for content seems to be working for the Wall Street Journal but it remains to be seen if it will work for shows like "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
The business of making history. Today's Washington Post has an interesting profile of one D.C.-area business that has made documenting corporate history into a successful business of its own. The History Factory's team of historians, archivists, curators and designers dig deep in a company's archives to create exhibits, build Web sites, make films, and write books, all for a price tag that ranges from $50,000 to $1 million depending on the project. For example, Brooks Brothers hired the History Factory to produce a book to commemorate the clothier's 175 anniversary and Shell Oil commissioned them to design a museum for the company offices in Houston. Proof that those who don't remember their past are destined to pay someone else to do it for them.
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.