Get your business a bar code. Everyone knows that Google helps customers find your business online, but today's tech-savvy window shoppers are now using Google's technology to get the skinny on your brick-and-mortar business as well. The Boston Globe reports that businesses like Finale Desserterie & Bakery are now placing a bar code in their window which customers can scan with their smartphones and quickly get info on sales, prices, menus, and even reviews from other customers. The bar code program is part of Google's "Favorite Places" initiative; all the details of which can be found at Google's Local Business Center.

The real influencers of Silicon Valley Forget Steve Jobs and Mark Hurd. San Jose Mercury News whittled down a list of 100 nominees to find out the 10 people driving Silicon Valley's innovation economy. "The Four Steps to Epiphany" author Steve Blank, dubbed "the Thinker," made the list for his simple, but revolutionary emphasis on testing hypotheses on customers first. Blogger Charlene Li, "the Forecaster," helps companies embrace and navigate the social web. And Clearstone Venture Partners' Vish Mishra, "the Connector," got picked for being the go-to guy for Indian entrepreneurs through his leadership role with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE), which has become a major resource for entrepreneurs across the Valley, in part from its annual conference, which drew 3,600 last year.

The year in patents. As part of their annual year in ideas issue, the New York Times magazine designed a matrix to classify the worst patents of 2009. Under "Department of Questionable Judgment" are patents for a bacon comb, a leg-mounted scent dispenser, and a pinning system to control people. Patents for a shoelace reel to loosen or tighten shoes and a clapping tool for cheering were filed under "There Must Be an Easier Way." And patents for a combined handbag/towel and a combined manure fork/fan-type shavings blower naturally fell under "Apples and Oranges."

Google strikes a blow against locked phones. In this month's Inc., we look at the how entrepreneurs have developed an underground app ecosystem in order to get around the restrictions guarding Apple's iPhone. Now Google looks to be entering this market. The search company sell an unlocked smart phone running its Android operating system directly to consumers. The Wall Street Journal has a nice roundup of the news, suggesting that the phone will come bundled with Google voice, which had been banned from the iPhone. Fred Wilson thinks this is good news for consumers and software entrepreneurs.

Where to woo clients or celebrate at home and abroad The recession hasn't slowed down the number of restaurants around the world earning Michelin stars. BusinessWeek selected 45 of them, located in 24 of the world's most important business destinations, like Joel Robuchon in Vegas or Quintessence in Tokyo, to help you find the spots to wine and dine.

HuffPost to businesses: you tweet, you pay. If you've been following Inc.'s advice on how to make money through Twitter, you'd know that since the site's surge in popularity, companies have been scrambling to squeeze some dough out of America's new favorite social networking tool. The Huffington Post has joined the fray and figured out a way to cash in -- though not by very favorable means, say our friends over at Fast Company. Businesses and marketing professionals who want their tweets to show up in the reader comments on the HuffPo blog or in Twitter feeds adjacent to the articles on the HuffPo site (in the hopes of picking up traffic from HuffPo readers) will now be charged a fee. Fast Company asks, "Will this turn into a horrible, confusing mess of truths, opinions and PR-spun info that doesn't necessarily paint a picture?"

The new disruptors. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch took a look yesterday at the latest "innovators" in journalism, and let's just say he doesn't like what he sees. "[J]ust as old media is complaining about us," he writes, "look for us to start complaining about the new jerks."

Should start-up founders scrap their business plans? A business plan might seem like the perfect road map for your budding company, but HubSpot, a web marketing company, has raised $30 million in VC over two years without a formal business plan, writes the Wall Street Journal (via AllThingsD). Instead, HubSpot chief exec Brian Halligan outlines a few types of documents you do need including a one pager and a crisp concise PowerPoint (I guess no one told Craig Newmark that). Not convinced that conciseness is key? Check out our guide to building a business plan.

Best Business Books. Looking for gifts for clientsInc. compiled a list of our favorite entrepreneurial tomes for 2009. The New York Times also has some helpful suggestions on its You're the Boss blog, including, The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up, by Inc.'s own Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham.

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