Google to sell business software. Your business may already use Google's free offerings for search and email, but Google hopes you'll eventually use it for all sorts of business software. Taking a page from Apple, which has built a billion dollar business selling apps--tiny software applications for its iPhone--Google will soon launch an online store for business software apps, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Google is turning to developers to help fill the holes and develop features its online software lacks, such as specialized editing software or tools to access online files offline," according to the article. "The new store represents its latest attempt to get customers to switch to its online offerings and away from Microsoft programs."

Factoring on the rise. Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have had stories in the past few days about small companies finding cash from sources other than banks and credit cards, which have restricted capital to entrepreneurs since the recession began in 2008. The Times piece covers purchase order financing, which it describes as a twist on traditional factoring. Purchase-order financing, says the Times, involves written guarantees from a buyer who commits to purchasing a product.The Journal's story focuses on asset-based lending, a collateral-based form of financing where borrowers put up equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, or other liquid assets. We told you about the rise of this kind of financing, in some cases known as merchant cash advances, which can have annual interest rates as high as 100 percent, back in 2008. Check out our profile of On Deck Capital, one of the asset-based lenders included in the Journal piece, which has doled out around $50 million to 2,000 businesses.

Social networks a threat to your business? We know there are some business owners who have pulled the plug on Facebook in the office, citing lost productivity Now, there is something else to consider: the risk social networking sites pose to your office's computer network. As's Courtney Rubin explains, a new report from the IT security company Sophos shows that 36 percent of executives surveyed said their office has received software worms, viruses, or other malware from social networking sites in 2009, a 70 percent jump from the previous year.

Marketing to affluent African Americans. Luxury marketers can often be ridiculously inept at catering to or even acknowledging the affluent African American market. AdWeek reviews an upcoming book titled "Black is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans." So why do the ad men bomb so miserably? The article notes that, "one problem is that marketers often seem to adopt a hip-hop approach as their default mode in addressing black consumers, irrespective of the age or social class of the audience they're hoping to reach." Learn more about why demographics are crucial to your business and how one pizzeria revamped its brand to reflect that.

5 Ways to Protect Your Assets. The loss of your home, car, or savings account isn't something to risk just because your business is in debt. Yet in 2005, small business owners dished out $98 billion in tort liability costs. BusinessWeek has some smart suggestions that will help protect yourself: Inventory everything on a regular basis; research laws that protect your assets; avoid personal guarantees if you can; provide liability protection in your contracts; and, of course, buy insurance.

What you have in common with Microsoft's CEO. Sure, he may run a company with 91,000 employees and $58 billion in revenue, but Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer surprisingly deals with many of the same issues that small-business owners face each day. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ballmer discusses Microsoft's outlook for the future, but he also shares his thoughts on his management style. For example, Ballmer says his most important job as CEO is to "pick and shape the right ideas," figuring out which projects are worthy of the company's attention. Another challenge Ballmer says he faces is figuring out how to attract the best employees and hold them accountable for their performance. Both issues probably sound familiar to anyone who's ever run a business.

2010 resolutions for a better business and a better life. Small Biz Trends offers up 10 resolutions for the small business owner in 2010. Their advice includes business-centric suggestions, such as making sure to back up your files and meeting regularly with trusted advisors, and also family-centric ones, such as scheduling vacations.

Inc. is going virtual. Yes, you read right. For the next month, we're abandoning our gorgeous offices and working from homes, coffee shops, airport terminals, and wherever else there is reliable broadband. It's an experiment in virtual work and part of a story that will appear in the April issue of Inc. If you work remotely, or manage a virtual company, we'd love to hear from you.

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