Four ways your company can benefit from the economic downturn. Smart companies always find a way to transform adversity into an advantage and the recession is no exception. If you haven't used the economic downturn to strengthen your business, the OPEN Forum has four tips on getting started: 1. Renegotiate supplier agreements--now's the time to request better arrangements in exchange for securing a longer-term agreement, even on things like office space. 2. Revamp business processes that got sloppy during flush times. You might find ways to save money, increase money, and avoid unnecessary delays. 3. Diversify new hires--interns, retirees whose salary demands aren't as high, or independent contractors that can reduce your payroll tax and benefit costs. 4. Last, but far from least: Help employees tap their creativity. If you make it clear that every staffer needs to step up to avoid cutbacks, you might be surprised at what skill sets and connections might emerge. For more specific tips on how to make it through tough times, check out our Business Tune-up feature, starring Tony Hsieh, Jack Stack, Jenny Craig, and John Mackey.
Why you shouldn't count on VC money. TechCrunch today reveals the findings of a new Pepperdine University study and if you're a start-up entrepreneur looking for VC money, you may want to cover your eyes. Forty-one percent of small business owners surveyed say they think their companies are eligible for VC money. But guess how many business plans the VCs in the survey say they go through to close one deal?
Italian coffee mogul dies. The man who turned a small family coffee business into a global espresso juggernaut, Emilio Lavazza, has died. The Wall Street Journal carries an obituary and says that Lavazza got his start delivering beans in Turin, Italy for his grandfather's coffee business. Once he became CEO, he developed the first vacuum packaged coffee, which transformed Lavazza into a global brand, while spurring the worldwide popularity of espresso. The Journal notes that Lavazza left the eponymous company, which is privately held, in good hands: The company is now run by the family's fourth generation. For more on long surviving (and thriving) family businesses check out our article on the Success Gene.
20 websites to help you save. Not sure how much to pay for your flight, if your portfolio is too risky, or if you're getting the best rate on your credit card? CNNMoney recommends 20 resources to help you make the smartest money choices.
Bringing augmented reality to the Olympics. While augmented reality is still trying to find its way between gimmick and useful tool, Yahoo has teamed up with one of the major AR development companies, Total Immersion, to bring a little bit of both to the 2010 Olympics, according to an article by ReadWriteWeb. The project involves an interactive information kiosk at the "Yahoo! Fancouver" exhibit, that allows users to search for news, weather, and medal counts during the games. The cool factor? By using a camera pointed at the user, it virtually fits items on the person according to what section they choose, like a press hat for the news option, or country logos for the medals section. "The experience, which also supports some brochure tracking features, is an entertaining way to draw the attention of the event's attendees while also providing them with useful information about the games," the article says. Check this video for a neat demonstration.
National Entrepreneurship Week 2010 kicks off. Tomorrow kicks off the 4th annual National Entrepreneurship Week, a week which has been honored since 2006 to celebrate the value of entrepreneurs to our economy. This year, from February 20 - 27, educators and entrepreneurs across the United States have created activities and events to nurture our nation's entrepreneurial spirit. Each state is headed by a state leadership team coordinator who encourages activities and events in every community, focusing on all levels of education, and the community as a whole.
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