Democrats and Republicans battle for the small-biz vote. Speaking from a sandwich shop yesterday in Edison, New Jersey, President Obama declared that, "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation. They are going to lead this recovery." Republicans, however, argue that the democrats' agenda, especially the health-care act and the possible repeal of the Bush tax cuts, will only serve to hurt small businesses. As quoted in the Washington Post, Republican Senator Judd Gregg said that the Democrats have "hit small business with a sledgehammer and now they're going to go around and say they're picking up some of the pieces." At issue right now is Obama's plan to expand tax breaks for small businesses and make it easier for them to borrow money, to which Republicans have raised objections. With both sides aching to be known as the champion of small businesses, it raises the question of whether any effective legislation will actually be passed. Perhaps Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it best when he said,"Both parties claim to be friends of small business. This is the proverbial stall we've had all year."  

Pining for an exit? Think less traditional. While the small business M&A field has been gradually picking up steam, if you're in the market to sell your company, the offers you're getting probably still feel a bit paltry. BusinessWeek suggests that you take a non-traditional approach. "Unconventional deal structuring can maximize a company's long-term value and do wonders to bridge the gap between a buyer's limitations and a seller's expectations," the post counsels. Some examples of strategies include offsetting a low upfront price with a long-term consulting contract, selling to your employees through an employee stock option plan (ESOP), or preparing the company for your departure to give yourself time to tackle other ventures. Before you sign anything, however, be mindful of these four traps to avoid when selling your company.  

Put down that phone. Popular belief has long held that good customer service means having a conversation with a real person, but new research published in the Harvard Business Review finds that companies are overestimating just how much their customers prefer live customer service over automated self service, like ATMs and check-in kiosks at airports. In their research, Matt Dixon and Lara Ponomareff found that those companies estimated customers valued live service twice as much as self service, but that customers are actually pretty much indifferent. While the efficiency and the element of self control offered by self-service machines are possible explanations for the trend, the researchers further hypothesize that "maybe customers are shifting toward self service because they don't want a relationship with companies. For managers hell-bent on deepening relationships with their customers, that's a sobering thought.

So your Facebook got hacked? Big deal. According to Fast Company, the so-called "hacker," who posted info from 100 million Facebook profiles online, only took public data from the site that you could easily find just by Googling someone's name. The man behind the scam says he was trying to alert users of the still-existing privacy issues, despite Facebook's revamped settings. Fast Company concludes: "For those worried about a hacker stealing their data--don't be. There was no hack, there is no security risk. If you want your information to be private, make it private. But if it's public, people can and will find it. That's not a flaw. That's a choice."  

Omniture founder leaving company. His successful growth strategies included organizing a giant 'rock-paper-scissors' game at a trade show and making mistakes "faster than anybody." But now, Josh James, co-founder and longtime CEO of the web analytics giant Omniture, is leaving the company he sold to Adobe for $1.8 billion last year. In an e-mail, James said, "It was a fantastic ride, and it's time to move on to the next gig."  

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