How to motivate employees. Although the new year has generally sparked an optimistic point of view for many small businesses, there are still plenty of employees out there who are wary about their jobs in the recession. For a small business owner, the key is motivation, and there are several ways that a boss can work to improve employee morale. Under Armour's Kevin Plank gives Inc. some helpful suggestions to motivate employees, which focus on communication and maintaining an outwardly positive attitude. The Wall Street Journal also provides some suggestions, such as asking employees for their input on business matters, offering career cross-training, so that employees don't miss out on opportunities for upward growth within the company, and assisting with family matters during the tough economic climate.
The NBA has social media game, too. You may have given up on expanding your three-pointer range, but you can still learn a thing or two from the NBA. Mashable explains how the league has been successful in connecting with fans via social media and how businesses can steal some of their moves.
Lying to your investors. Writing a guest post at the Venture Hacks blog, serial entrepreneur Simeon Simeonov says that it's almost impossible not to lie to your investors (and to yourself) when you're trying to raise early stage funding. Investors, who often need to sell a given deal to their partners, will typically push entrepreneurs to come up with long term plans with enormous revenue and profit projections. These plans rarely have any grounding in reality, but Simeonov says, once you start drawing up astronomical projections it's hard to come back to earth. "After a few pitches, entrepreneurs realize that the distant future is safer territory than the immediate," he writes. "It's easier to boast about 30 must-have features your product will have in three years, than to show the three must-have features in the current prototype." He recommends picking investors comfortable with the fact that most start-ups have no idea where they will be in five years, rather than investors who ask for detailed five year plans.
Make your business card stand out. Your business card is your chance to leave a lasting impression on potential clients and business partners, so it pays to make it memorable. Earlier this week, Inc.com posted a slideshow on 10 creative business card designs. Not one to be outdone, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel posted a sampling of 48 unusually brilliant business card designs on his blog, Quick Sprout. All the cards are great examples of creativity and ingenuity, but our choice for the most effective business card goes to the debt collection firm whose business card is printed on X-ray film and shows an X-ray of a hand with a broken thumb. Now there's a firm that is willing to do whatever it takes.
A social media version of The Real World? Well, not exactly. According to TechCrunch (via MSN), this warped version of "Real World" involves five journalists from foreign radio stations who've agreed to lock themselves in a French farmhouse for five days, using only Twitter and Facebook as their reporting sources, with no cell phones, TV, or Web browsing. In light of Twitter's growing role in disseminating news (and aid) during major events -- most recently the Haiti devastation -- editors say now is a better time than ever to stage a showdown between traditional and social media. "Our aim is to show that there are different sources of information and to look at the legitimacy of each of these sources," says Helene Jouan, senior editor at France Inter. Depending on the efficacy of their experiment, could their findings help spawn a new era of social media-based journalism start-ups, like The Huffington Post?
Foursquare and the future of location. Despite having a slew of big-name investors such as Kevin Rose, Jason Calacanis, and Gary Vaynerchuck, and $8.4 million in funding, the location-based mobile app Gowalla has lagged behind Foursquare in its user count. Though Om Malik has badmouthed the start-up in the past, its CEO, Josh Williams stopped by Malik's office to discuss how he got started and the future of location (including his concern that Twitter will throw it's weight into the ring). Watch the video interview for the full story of how Williams went from running a niche network for software developers, to operating a successful Facebook social game, to entering the location space. Also, see how you can boost your sales with mobile coupons on applications such as Foursquare and Yowza.
Airline Internet service provider raises massive round. Is on-flight internet access ready for take-off? That's the bet a group of investors are making, with The New York Times reporting today that Aircell, provider of the most popular in-flight internet service Gogo, has raised a $176 million round of financing. As the Times's Joe Sharkey reported last week, it's not a question of whether airplane passengers will use the service, but whether they are willing to pay for it.
Apple Tablet rumor roundup. Thankfully the world will be relieved of Apple tablet rumor news on Wednesday, when apple plans to reveal its latest device. But for now, it's hard to keep track of the hourly rumors. CNNMoney makes life a little easier by rounding up the latest as it leaves the mill.