How to Give Speeches and How to Sell Your Business
BY Max Chafkin
Matt Mullenweg shares his public speaking secrets. You already know how he works. Now, the founder of Wordpress and Automattic posts a video blog about how to be a better public speaker. Mullenweg, who has spoken at numerous Wordpress conferences and performed as an amateur saxophone player, recommends taking a deep breath and remembering that your audience is rooting for you to do well. "[T]he best way to relax is to know your material down cold," he writes. "I think practicing and knowing your material well comes across most in your body language which probably affects how people perceive your presentation more than what you say."
When is the best time to sell your business? It might make sense to bid adieu to your company when times are toughest, but that's one mistake made by many business owners, according to a post by the New York Times. Though you may be experiencing psychological burnout or declining sales--the top two reasons most people sell, the article says--you are probably leaving money on the table if you decide to sell now. "More often than not, business owners miss this critical opportunity," the post says. "It's difficult to think of your business as an investment, but one of the cardinal rules of investing can hold true for owning a business as well." Check out this quiz for more advice on timing the sale of your business.
A spending freeze. Entrepreneurs fretting over rising deficits--and the eventual need to cover those deficits with taxes--will likely be happy to hear the latest news coming from the White House. During tomorrow's State of the Union address, President Obama will propose a freeze on discretionary spending that would save $250 billion over the next 10 years. The Wall Street Journal has the news.
Twitter's first-ever developer conference. Modeled after Yahoo's "Hack Day" events, Chirp, Twitter's upcoming developer conference, will include a 24-hour programming marathon, reports Valleywag. To register, you have to demonstrate some low-level technical expertise to figure out the password, and fork over $470. Not bad considering Microsoft charges at least $2,000. Yahoo, Microsoft, Izea, and HootSuite have already signed up. "It looks like there will be plenty of booze to lubricate the proceedings; Twitter engineers to help with topics like 'Streaming;' and a big bacchanal at the end," says Valleywag. "The vaguely erotic undertones are just a bonus."
Bill Gates gets some laughs on The Daily Show. A surprisingly charming and un-geeky Bill Gates made an appearance on Comedy Central's Daily Show last night and even managed to get in a few playful jabs at the show's host, Jon Stewart. In the interview, Gates discussed his work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, his diminished role at Microsoft, and his recent Twitter habit. When asked by Stewart how he enjoyed Twittering, Gates explained, "We'll see it it works. I'm new to it, but so far so good." After Gates explained that he now considers his role as chairman of his foundation to be his full-time job, Stewart asked if that meant that he could finally get an iPhone "like the rest of us." With a sheepish grin, Gates responded, "I'm a very loyal Microsoft user."
Create a prize to spark innovation. Crafting a challenge, like the ones proposed by the X Prize Foundation, not only helps you keep employees motivated but often pays for itself, says an article on Read Write Web. Prizes can catalyze internal employees or outside developers as in the case of the Netflix prize. "Prizes are an efficient way to get 10 or 50 times your money and you only pay the winner," says Peter Diamandis, chairman of the X Prize Foundation.
Community lenders playing a larger role. With banks cutting back on small-business loans, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are finding a niche in financing small businesses. CDFIs generally lend money to businesses that banks consider too risky. BusinessWeek reports that the federal government allocated $247 million in 2010 for the Treasury fund that supports community lenders and that the CDFI fund received $100 million in stimulus money last year. Banks are also increasing support for CDFIs in order to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act, which many depository institutions became subject to when they accepted bailout money. The 1977 law encourages banks to serve disadvantaged areas.
How to spot trends. Anita Campbell of Small Biz Trends recently held a webinar to answer questions about current small business trends. A few of her ideas: The rise of personal branding, the growing importance of government contracts, and an increased focus on going green.
The downside of the reality TV spotlight. Yes, getting your small business on a reality show can prove successful in getting your name out. (Just ask the College Hunks Hauling Junk founders, who have appeared on ABC's Shark Tank and Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker.) But as The Wall Street Journal reports today, with free publicity often comes unexpected drama.