Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Business lessons from the Grateful Dead. With over 30 years of touring, a fiercely loyal fan-base, and instantly-recognizable merchandising, the Grateful Dead established themselves not only as music icons, but as quite astute businessmen as well. Using excerpts from the recently-released book, "Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead," the Boston Globe has an interesting slide-show of eight business tips and strategies from the band that even non-hippies can appreciate. For example, readers may be surprised to learn that the Dead were at the forefront of the "freemium" model, allowing fans to record the band's live shows with their own taping equipment, but releasing high-quality concert recordings for sale as well. Some of the other lessons to be learned from the band include the importance of embracing diversity, defying convention, and rewarding loyal customers. The Globe also points out that the Grateful Dead's famous improvisational-style also serves as a bigger business lesson. As they explain, the band's "authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it's doing."
Why you shouldn't motivate employees with money. It seems like a relatively small and sensible decision for Goldman Sachs to bar employees from swearing in their emails. But Business Insider posits that, unlike entrepreneurs who reap greater "psychic satisfaction" from their work, Goldman's employees only have their salaries as the measuring stick of their job fulfillment. Once you start stripping away pieces of office camaraderie, such as a little collegial cursing, your employees' reasons for sticking around will also dwindle. Find out why business owners are the happiest profession and how to improve your own employee retention.
Would anyone pay for Twitter? Roger Ebert thinks so. At least he doubted the results of a recent Annenberg study, which claimed that zero percent of those surveyed said they would pay to tweet. Ebert, an avid twitterer, thought that number egregiously low. So he set up an online poll with SurveyMonkey, and sent it to each of his nearly 200,000 Twitter followers. Ebert wrote in a blog post for the Chicago Sun Times: "Like everyone else, I've been fascinated by the ongoing mystery of how Twitter pays for itself." Well, 20 percent of responders to Ebert's (admittedly very informal and non-scientific) poll said they indeed would pay for the service. Should Twitter take the dive and charge users? Ebert: "I don't have any answers. I succeeded only in proving 0.00% was too low."
Why Facebook's "owner" waited so long to come forward. By now, you've probably heard of the man who claims he owns 84 percent of Facebook thanks to a contract he says Mark Zuckerberg signed back in 2003. His name is Paul Ceglia and Bloomberg tracked him down in his Upstate New York town to ask him about, among other things, why he waited so long to come forward? "His answer...was he forgot about it," Bob Van Voris writes. Even better than his reason for waiting is the event that ended up jogging his memory: an arrest by state troopers on charges that Ceglia, a small business owner, hasn't been delivering wood pellets that his customers have already paid for. The arrest "got him looking through old files to find assets to pay back customers...one of those files held a forgotten 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg," he claims.
Group deals a mixed blessing for local businesses. New customers are usually always a good thing, but for businesses who entice them by offering group coupons, they may arrive in overwhelming numbers. Group coupon buying, which has taken off in the past year or two through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial, among scores of others, has drawn thousands of customers to small and local businesses, but the Chicago Tribune reports that many of them are struggling to deal with the sharp uptick in business. The article describes one nail salon in Chicago that scrambled to serve 5,000 new customers who bought a coupon in June. Customers experienced long waits and inadequate service, and the salon saw its ratings on websites like Yelp tumble. "If you're prepared, it can be a really great thing," one business owner who offered half-price massages on Groupon tells the Tribune. "If you haven't used your foresight or you haven't extrapolated what's going to occur, it could kill your business." For tips on using websites like Groupon to boost sales, check out this article.
Crowdsourcing your life. Putting t-shirt designs to a vote is one thing. Putting life decisions to a vote is quite another. 20-year-old video blogger Dan Brown is conducting a social experiment, putting his life in the public's hands. For the next year, he'll be taking viewer suggestions on what to do day-to-day and documenting his journey on the Internet network Revision3. Though Brown says he does have veto power and won't accept any suggestions that do harm to himself or others, he tells Mashable, "Daily life is going to be affected — I don't know exactly what it means for relationships with friends and relationships with people I know in real life. I guess we'll find out when we get there."
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.