What's Your Plan B?

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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:

Do you have a Plan B? If you don't, you should. And it doesn't have to mean bailing on your business, the Wall Street Journal reports. It's more about being nimble—-being able to adapt to market changes or evolve as competitors emerge. Staying afloat might mean dropping prices, giving away samples, rebranding, or any number of image-shifting tactics. Sure, it's hard for an entrepreneur to admit their business is heading in the wrong direction. Isaac Barchas, the director of a University of Texas at Austin incubator, says, "Sometimes, it's obvious to everyone except you."

Cashing in on a Christmas classic. For many movie buffs, it just isn't the holidays without at least one viewing of A Christmas Story, the movie which introduced the world to Ralphie, Red Rider BB guns, pink bunny pajamas, and leg lamps. As MSNBC reports, two entrepreneurs have started cashing in on the holiday classic, selling all sorts of items made famous by the movie. However, rather than just a trip down memory lane, the video also highlights the different approaches each entrepreneur has taken in marketing their merchandise and acquiring licensing rights--as one is now the official purveyor of A Christmas Story merchandise and the other is dealing with cease-and-desist letters from the Warner Brothers lawyers.

Christmas shopping on Facebook? Watch out, Amazon. According to BusinessWeek, Facebook is "ramping up efforts to entice companies...to sell wares on its pages and convert more of its 500 million users into online shoppers." Besides for Facebook Credits, which lets users buy in-game products with real dollars, e-commerce is relatively uncharted territory for the social network. However, that may change soon. "In three to five years, 10 percent to 15 percent of total consumer spending in developed countries may go through sites such as Facebook," says one research analyst.

Mixing money and mission. We've told you why running a for-profit company with a social mission can be a dangerous combination for the business owner. Now, The New York Times explores the difficulties charity organizations face when they partner with the rising number of social media sites designed for social good, like Jumo, Crowdrise and Causes. The biggest concern, according to the story, is that many of these sites take a percentage cut of user donations, and they also stand in the way of allowing non-profits to connect to and get to know their donors. In response, however, Causes representative Matthew Mahan argues that these social networking sites attract people who wouldn't ordinarily find certain charities and non-profits, and they cover all the marketing and credit card transaction fees for the charities. Considering the fact that Causes has now raised $16 million in venture funding, however, Jumo founder Chris Hughes admits, "I think there's probably a good conversation to be had about how these sites self-fund."

How private is your smartphone? It may be constantly affixed to your body and require a 4-digit password to unlock. But the information inside your iPhone or Android may also be a lot more public than you realize, the Wall Street Journal finds. An investigation of 101 smartphone apps revealed that 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to outside companies (mostly online tracking companies) without users' awareness or consent. Moreover, 47 apps transmitted the phone's location in some way and five passed along age, gender, and other personal details to outsiders. Among the culprits were popular apps from Pandora and TextPlus 4, both of which sent some form of users' ID, age, gender, and location to various ad networks. Though Apple and Google require permission for apps to obtain privileged information like location (which can be easily skirted to begin with), neither requires apps to have a written privacy policy, the Journal finds.

Apparently, Snookie was big in 1920. Honest. Just try searching her in Google's new Ngram Viewer, which charts the usage of a word through time. Ngram is a database of more than 500 billion words, tied to the search giant's hugely ambitious goal of scanning and releasing pretty much every book ever published, according to Fast Company. Some of the other findings: Usage of the word "men" is tanking, while "women" is on the rise. "Dude" peaked in the 1600s. And the word "Internet" started getting tossed around in 1900. You can check it out here.

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Last updated: Dec 20, 2010




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