Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
What you can learn from Ronald McDonald. You may not be in the burger business, but every company can stand to take a few lessons from McDonald's, who managed to not only to survive the recession, but thrive in it. As Mint.com reports, the fast-food giant saw store sales increase 4.6 percent in August, while competitors like Burger King struggled to stay afloat. What's the secret? Besides its recession-friendly pricing, McDonald's has enacted a number of strategic business moves that have helped the business flourish despite the down economy. Some of the savvier moves include taking advantage of lower TV advertising rates as a way to increase their marketing efforts without a substantial increase in their advertising budget and analyzing store sales to rapidly adjust prices based on customer demand.
When the Valley blew up. A full-fledged firestorm erupted yesterday when Michael Arrington of TechCrunch faced off against a group of Silicon Valley "super angel" investors. Never one to shy away from drama, Arrington actually walked into the very restaurant where he alleges the investors were colluding to fix company valuations, keep other investors out, and counteract competition. Such accusations could lead to serious prosecutions if they turn out to be true, but the "angels" are starting to fire back. 500 Startups founder Dave McClure agreed he was at the meeting, but vehemently denied Arrington's claims in a profanity-laced blog post. Other attendees have issued public and private denials, or have concurred with McClure that the meeting was very different than Arrington's account of things. For an even closer look at Arrington's in-your-face approach, check out this The Way I Work article.
Not love, but Like. The question for small businesses today is not whether a customer likes their product, but whether or not they Like it. On Facebook, that is. In a Financial Times article published yesterday, writer David Gelles notes that more than 350,000 sites and retailers have begun to use the Like feature on their websites, which means that when a user clicks the button, a line of text is automatically displayed on their personal Facebook profile with a link back to the item they Liked. With good reason, this has become an ideal way for companies to increase traffic to their sites. Essentially, Facebook has given companies a way to quantify the success of e-word-of-mouth marketing. For example, Gelles writes that IMDB has seen traffic from Facebook double since it installed the Like button throughout the site. "Facebook is subtly compiling a map of the Internet," he says, whether you Like it or not.
Creepy, crawly, and going green. Can the booming bedbug-infestation control industry also jump into the green trend? That's the question a post on the New York Times website ponders, as nearly 400 pest-control workers, entomologists, and inventors discuss the matter at an Illinois (anti-)bedbug convention. While the bedbug-zapping industry is keeping lots of people employed, there's no silver bullet to eliminating them in the post-DDT era. Popular ideas included freezing, heating, and vacuuming. The least-popular solutions involve potentially toxic chemical sprays or dusting. What's clear? This field is wide open for innovation.
BlackBerry takes on the iPad.. We've already met the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, and now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry, is about to unveil its own tablet computer. The Journal's sources report RIM could introduce the tablet, which includes a seven-inch screen and built in cameras, at a developer conference in San Francisco next week. The company, which has faced some hard times lately, accounting for just 18 percent of the world's smartphone sales, will also be introducing a new operating system for the tablet. Though the tablets won't be available for sale until the fourth quarter of this year, the Journal says the new system could prove to be "a worthy competitor to Apple's and Google's platforms, and could go a long way toward addressing complaints that RIM's devices are slow, unstable and hard to program for."
Staff editor KASEY WEHRUM has written for Inc. magazine on subjects ranging from the businesses behind professional bull riding to gadget inventor and father of the infomercial, Ron Popeil. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Worth, Budget Travel, and on MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn.