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A Model for Smart Growth

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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

The Trader Joe's way. Today, Fortune investigates the tightly-managed, highly-secretive growth model of grocery chain Trader Joe's. The privately-held company, which launched 43 years ago in Pasadena, CA, reported $8 billion in sales last year, similar to its publicly-traded competitor Whole Foods. The only difference is Trader Joe's did it with a fraction of the merchandise, sold at a fraction of the cost. According to Mark Mallinger, a Pepperdine University professor who spoke to Fortune, this scaled-down path to growth is indicative of the chain's desire to be "a national chain of neighborhood specialty grocery stores." As the company does grow, though, maintaining that balance becomes particularly difficult, especially when the company outsources much of the production of Trader Joe's branded products to huge corporations like Frito-Lay. Still, the story notes, Trader Joe's has managed to create a corporate culture full of Hawaii-shirted employees, that continues to make customers feel like they're shopping at the local corner store. Fortune writes, "If Trader Joe's can maintain that kind of mojo, it could end up the biggest neighborhood store ever."

One CEO's lesson in letting go. Delegating authority is a notoriously difficult undertaking for many business owners to accept, especially when it comes time to bringing in an outside CEO. In a Q & A in The New York Times, Lisa Price, founder of the beauty products company Carol's Daughter, explains how she learned to calmly accept that an outside CEO might not be such a bad thing. Price explains that while juggling a lot of issues, it helps to put an actual dollar amount to the value of your time and then determine whether or not it is cost-effective for one person to handle every single task. "I did something as long as it made sense to me to do it," she said. "And then, once it made sense to turn it over to someone else--either because it could get done better, or because I could spend my time making more money elsewhere--I did it." Thinking of doing the same? Here's Method co-founder Eric Ryan on how to hire a CEO.

Step away from the Facebook, employer. A new law in Germany could make scoping out prospective hires on the social-networking website verboten. The proposal, which has yet to be signed into law, is designed to protect more privacy of employees, but we have our doubts about the ability to enforce such an edict. Weirdly, Googling your potential hire would still be totally legal, Der Spiegel reports. (Via TechCrunch.)

What to expect from an outsourced worker. Marcia Turner always had trouble delegating, that was until her one woman marketing agency hit a revenue ceiling. When she realized she needed a website to expand, and that she could not design one for the company herself, her eyes were opened to the joys of outsourcing (via CNNMoney). While she had used a virtual assistant within the U.S., she had never outsourced work overseas. She was looking to do some market research about the size of the ghostwriting industry, but since it was not yet a revenue-generating concern she wanted to keep costs as low as possible, and so she turned to a company in Bangalore, India. What she found was that she could "certainly turn to [the company] for administrative help in the future. But only when the data I need is well-defined and finite." If you have trouble letting go, you should read our list of 10 things you should never micromanage.

Are you a "secret sharer?" Sharer of an office, that is. The New York Post examines the proliferation of co-working spaces, shared office rentals, and "space stations" in the era of the solopreneur, citing the census statistic that close to 90 percent of U.S. businesses in 2007 consisted of a lone individual. Plenty are choosing to not work at home - rather, they're choosing to rent office space, back-office services, and conference rooms from other companies, like The Intelligent Office in Queens, New York, or OfficeLinks, which has several New York locations and one in Chicago's Willis Tower.

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Last updated: Aug 23, 2010




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