What Comes after Email and Best Industries for Startups
BY Max Chafkin
The end of email? The Wall Street Journal gets apocalyptic on our inboxes. "Email has had a good run as king of communications," writes Jessica Vascellaro. "But its reign is over." This may be something of an overreach, but Vascellaro's point is sound. She says that services like Twitter and Facebook, which can be used to let employees and customers know where you are and what you are doing, are replacing email in some cases. Meanwhile businesses' increased reliance on these services raises questions about privacy--if you message someone on Facebook, they're likely to take a look at your profile--and clutter--with so many different services things can get confusing.
How to lift your employees' sagging spirits. With the barrage of bad economic news, many companies have morale problems. Today's Baltimore Sun takes a look at one entrepreneur's efforts to keep his employees upbeat and positive. Not surprisingly, the most important recommendation in the article is to keep your employees apprised of how the business is doing. That's especially true when the business isn't doing particularly well. As one HR consultant explains, "It may not make them happy and glowing necessarily, but it provides something to think about even in a tough time and it also creates a tie between the company and the employee."
Beware of angels who charge. Jason Calacanis's latest missive is on angel investors who charge start-ups as much as $25,000 merely for the privilege of making a pitch. "It's low-class, inappropriate and predatory for a rich person to ask an entrepreneur to PAY THEM for 15 minutes of their time," Calacanis writes. "Seriously, what is the cost to the party hearing the pitch? If you answered "nothing" or "the cost of two cups of coffee" you win the prize!" Calacanis asserts that if your idea is good--and you can network--you can kick payola to the curb. And, if you're in the market for funding, check out our directory of angel investor networks.
The best industries for startups. Scott Shane, blogging for the New York Times, writes today about which industries are the best (and worst) for starting a business. The data is not entirely clear--Shane links to research that shows that paper mills, computer equipment, and guided missiles (!) to be among the best, but his data is from 1982-2000 and feels, well, dated. Nonetheless, Shane is pretty sure about one industry that is tough for entrepreneurs: Restaurants. Industries with lower failure rates include auto parts, funeral homes, and gas stations.
Reducing the number of lonely shopping carts. According to the New York Times, the number of online shoppers who actually purchase the items in their shopping carts is dwindling. Though there are lots of reasons for abandonment a big one involves consumers shopping around for a better deal--a problem that experts say can be addressed. Overstock.com, for example, has wish lists that let customers "look at 15 products, throw them in your cart and then sleep on it," said Stormy D. Simon, senior vice president for branding and customer care. Other sites, such as those of Neiman Marcus and Gilt, employ limited-time sales and alerts that notify the customer when a product is about to sell out, both of which nudge the shopper to close the deal soon. For more tips, check out Inc.'s advice on preventing shopping cart abandonment.
Ten up-and-coming teen entrepreneurs. Forget paper routes and babysitting gigs, today's teen entrepreneurs are using technology to make money and create some serious businesses. TechCrunch has a list of Ten Teen Entrepreneurs to Watch, who while not old enough to buy beer, are the brains behind some innovative technology companies. Topping the list is 19-year-old Jessica Mah, who is the co-founder and CEO of Indinero, which has been described as a Mint.com for small businesses. Inc. readers may remember Jessica from our Coolest College Start-ups package, where we profiled Jessica and her previous business, InternshipIN.