How to lower your business bills. According to BillShrink, the answer is to choose your service providers wisely. The service, which gets a write-up in TechCrunch, offers consumers a survey on common purchases such as cell phone plans, bank accounts, and gas and suggests cheaper options. Now the company is moving to small businesses, beginning with an application that is supposed to help you choose a less expensive business credit card. Before you make any changes you probably want to read our article on the five best credit cards for businesses.
The founder's dilemma. We know all you founders think about it: Will there be a day when the company will be too big for me? Well serial entrepreneur Steve Blank has a can't-miss post that delves into the skill-sets necessary to stay on board as your business scales up. You could also take some lessons from Alibaba's Jack Ma and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman.
Foreign entrepreneurs and the Hollywood starlets who love them. Today's tabloids were awash with stories of foreign entrepreneurs and their romantic involvement with two of Hollywood's more (in)famous young starlets. For starters, German Internet entrepreneur Michael Axtmann will hope to make an honest woman out of hard-partying actress Tara Reid, whom he proposed to in Los Angeles earlier in the week. And Lindsay Lohan will be the guest of 77-year-old Austrian construction entrepreneur, Richard Lugner, at next month's Vienna Opera Ball. Lugner has become something of a European celebrity thanks to his appearance on a reality TV show and his history of bringing celebrities to the Opera Ball. Past dates have included Carmen Electra and Paris Hilton.
A case study in cautious expansion. Like many entrepreneurs, Alexandra Mayzler is a control freak. The 27-year-old founder of Thinking Caps Tutoring started the company out of her NYU dorm room using her background in psychology and a careful method of matching students with tutors to build the business up to half a million dollars in revenue last year. "I've put a lot of energy into developing a unique service," she told the New York Times. But since Mayzler wants the company to be a lifelong endeavor she needs to expand beyond 30 tutors working with 300 students, which inevitably means relinquishing some control. Michael Laskoff, founder of AbilTo, an online psychotherapy provider who sometimes counsels Mayzler says, "The quality-control mechanism is Alexandra herself, and there are only so many hours in the day." Here's what Joel Spolsky has to say on why, when it comes to expanding your company, slow and steady doesn't always win the race.
The Funded's entrepreneur training program goes global. The Founder Institute, a training program for entrepreneurs that grew out of the no holds barred, at one time anonymous venture capital review site The Funded, is now offering classes in Singapore, Paris, Los Angeles, and Denver, in addition to existing programs in San Diego, D.C., Seattle, and New York, reports Venture Beat. The Institute's founder Adeo Ressi--incidentally not one of the people we initially guessed was behind the site when Ressi was still working under a pseudonym--is poised to create almost 750 companies this year, far out-pacing incubators like Y Combinator. Because it doesn't invest in each venture, it's able to accept a broader range of companies than a normal incubator. But perhaps most intriguing is the fact that it tries to find the most promising entrepreneurs through standardized tests. Ressi says his goal is to boost the start-up ecosystem and the economy at large.
Biting off more work than you can chew. As any small firm can attest, the days of shrunken employee numbers haven't exactly made it easy to manage workloads. If you've found yourself with more projects than you can handle, Web Worker Daily has offered a few strategies to help you chisel through your tasks without losing any hair -- or clients. First of all, the moment you realize you're in trouble, negotiate the deadline. "Even a short extension will reduce the sense of panic a little," the post says. And while it's important to round up more help to finish the job, such as a freelancer, be sure to bring in dependable people who can operate without direction, or you may end up causing more stress. Other tips include pacing yourself to avoid fatigue (no 18-hour days), and scheduling at least one day a week to regroup. "Don't spend the day trying to catch up on the 10 projects you're neglecting because of this one," the article says. "That won't help."
Amazon announces apps for Kindle. As the tech world buzzes with news surrounding the release of Apple's tablet computer, Amazon has made a move to open its Kindle for a variety of new uses, including music, video, and games. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Kindle apps will be somewhat limited by the device's slowly refreshing screen, but that the move might be most profitable in opening the Kindle up for interactive book content. Similar to iPhone apps, 70 percent of Kindle app revenue will go to the developer. GigaOM predicts that developers will find the Kindle platform best for content-focused apps.
Now for the problem with app stores. Amid all the excitement over Amazon's move and Apple's imminent announcement, Fast Company tries to throw some cold water on this whole app store thing. "The struggles point to the difficulties that other app stores may face, none of which should be a surprise," the article says. "In the age of the Web, developers can get their programs to end users without anyone intervening, so locked-down software sales will always be going against the grain." We tackled this issue in our December story about a rogue app store for the iPhone that had been embraced by some entrepreneurs whose software was rejected by Apple.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey