Filing for customer divorce. Some small business owners are finding it difficult (and expensive) to maintain relationships with delinquent or discount-hungry customers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Shedding those clients, which was the option chosen by Kishau Rogers, owner of Richmond, Virginia-based Websmith Group, can often make it easier to endure harsh economic times and turnaround sagging profits. By dropping her late-paying customers, Rogers, whose firm develops websites, was able to reallocate 20 percent of her time to other clientele, and put the business's 2009 revenue on track to rise 10 percent. While dropping customers can be risky, "to continue to have a customer that's losing the company money with every transaction is not a good strategy either," said Valarie Zeithaml, a marketing professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For more tips on giving difficult customers the boot, click here -- and be gentle.
Customer Appreciation 101 from the Boston Celtics. With a record of 7-1, and perennially sold-out home games, the Boston Celtics have developed a fiercely-loyal fan base. To help keep that fan base energized, and to show their appreciation, the Celtics have become one of the most social-media savvy teams in all of professional sports. As the Boston Globe reports, the team posts exclusive locker room footage on YouTube, has an interactive stats game on their Facebook page, and regularly sends Twitter messages to their 21,000 followers. A smart move from a team who realizes that while a sold-out stadium is a good thing, it is important not to forget about those fans who couldn't get a seat. As the Celtics president, Rich Gotham, explains, "Now that we're at this sold-out state, it's more difficult to get into the game and fans can't get tickets. We want to make sure we don't forget about those fans. We want to keep them interested and keep them loyal."
The evolution of start-up ecosystems We've covered various start-up hotspots in the past, but Fred Wilson has an explanation of how a start-up ecosystem evolves over time. He says it's important to think of the infrastructure for start-ups, whether in Boston, the Valley, or the next nexus, as growing and developing over decades. The first decade is largely trial and error, decade two is when VCs and companies have firmer footing and a network of resources, and in the third decade, Wilson says the ecosystem is fully formed. Wilson then applies this trajectory to "new startup ecosystems developing in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. It can happen and it will happen. But it takes time. And you can't fast forward because we are talking about experience which can't be manufactured."
Mark Cuban has some advice for Rupert Murdoch. Screw Google! The Dallas Mavericks owner, HDNet founder, and prolific blogger weighs in today on the future of newspapers. He recommends that News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch should simply prevent Google's bots from indexing its papers and instead rely on Twitter and Facebook to get the news out. "TWITTER POSES NO THREAT to any destination news site," Cuban writes. "140 characters does not a story make. Find it on twitter, link to a story on say, FoxNews and everyone is happy...Having to search for and find news in search engines is so 2008." Meanwhile, Cuban seems to be interested in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Things to know before starting a website. Web designer Erik Parkin takes a turn as guest blogger on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's business blog to talk about the four questions you should ask before building a website for your small business. As he explains, simply telling a designer to "make it look cool" doesn't give the designer nearly enough information about what your company does and how you plan on using your website. Parkin's four questions should help any business owner stay focused on the purpose of the website, which is to enhance the business, not detract from it.
A more professional tweet. The big-name partnerships just keep piling up for Twitter. First were the deals with Microsoft and Google to include tweets in search results. Now, as The New York Times Bits blog reports, Twitter has a struck a deal with professional networking site LinkedIn. LinkedIn users will now have the option of sending status updates to their Twitter feed, while also showing their most recent tweets in their LinkedIn profile. The payoff for Twitter? Increased exposure and added revenue, though, not surprisingly, the financial terms of the deal are undisclosed.
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