Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Startup Was Hacked: What I Did Right (and Wrong)

From Bplans:

One day in the fall of 2014, when I was still helping run a startup I co-founded (not the one I’m working for now), a client forwarded me an email he thought was suspicious.

The email looked a lot like something my company would send. It linked to a website that looked a lot like ours that offered a great deal on the same service we provided. The site’s URL was almost identical to ours, too.

Right away I had a bad feeling, but my first reaction was to tell myself it was just a competitor that had somehow gotten the email of a single client.

Not a big deal.

Then another client forwarded the same email. And another, and another.

Pretty quickly it became clear that someone had gotten a list of our clients, and was sending them emails to try and trick them into paying the wrong company for our service.

I was angry and worried. Who was doing this? How had they gotten our clients’ information? How much did they have?

Ultimately, I think the way we reacted was mostly good, but we did make a few key mistakes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Google Tackles Bad Ads and—Surprise!—There Are a Lot of Them

More from eMarketer
Pointing not only to an influx of fake news and spam, but also an ongoing challenge to distinguish what's real and what's not, Google took down 1.7 billion ads last year that violated its advertising policies—more than double the amount it removed in 2015.

In a post the company published yesterday, Google said it removed a vast amount of different types of ads.

Google removed more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations and suspended around 6,000 sites, as well as another 6,000 accounts, for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods.

In addition to keeping an eye out for these types of ads, which have been around for a while, Google also saw a rise of a new type of scammer, what it calls "tabloid cloakers," but many know it simply as fake news.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Does Cart Abandonment Really Come Down to Cost?

From eMarketer

Cart abandonment is a major concern for online retailers, and according to new research, shipping costs and overall price are the two major factors that are causing digital shoppers to abandon their items.

According to a Q4 2016 study from FuturePay, which asked consumers about their top reasons for cart abandonment, 86% of respondents said "cost of shipping," while 72% said that the "cost of order became too expensive." Other reasons such as "hassle of return," "lack of payment options," and "security concerns" had much less of an influence on shoppers.

Another study done in August 2016 by Market Track also found that shipping and price were critical to completing digital purchases.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

17 Federal Agencies and Programs under Threat: What They Actually Cost (and Do)

From TIME magazine:

A host of planned funding cuts to federal agencies, reported last week by The Hill, are part of the Trump administration's desire to eliminate roughly $10.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years -- nearly all of the federal government's discretionary spending.

Yet Trump has vowed not to cut entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security, and promised to beef up military spending, which represents the lion's share of federal spending -- making it hard for him to do more than chip away at the margins of the nearly $20 trillion national debt.

What, then, would the reported cuts accomplish? The answer appears to be defunding a number of projects seen as liberal darlings -- including groups aimed at preserving and supporting the environment, civil rights protections, the arts, minority-owned businesses, and public broadcasting.

Minority Business Development Agency
Budget: $36 million
Cost per American: $0.11
This federal agency helps minority-owned businesses "with the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow," according to its website. The agency also advocates and promotes "minority-owned business with elected officials, policy makers, and business leaders."

Economic Development Administration
Budget: $215 million
Cost per American: $0.66
The EDA supports "distressed communities with their infrastructure needs that will help drive regional growth," promotes "economic development projects that spur entrepreneurship and innovation at the regional level," and "provides direct technical assistance to firms negatively impacted by global trade."

International Trade Administration
Budget: $521 million
Cost per American: $1.60
The ITA helps American businesses sell more products to overseas markets.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership
Budget: $142 million
Cost per American: $0.43
This is a so-called public-private partnership that helps small to medium-size manufacturers become more efficient, build new products, and improve sales and marketing techniques.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Budget: Self-sustaining
Cost per American: $0
Using both loans and loan guarantees, OPIC works to help businesses with annual revenues below $400 million invest in "large scale" operations, such as airports and water systems. "Over the past five years, 71 percent of OPIC projects were in partnership with U.S. small businesses, accounting for over $600 million annually in U.S. exports," according to the State Department.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing

From WhiteHouse.gov

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

Section 1. Purpose. This memorandum directs executive departments and agencies (agencies) to support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States through expedited reviews of and approvals for proposals to construct or expand manufacturing facilities and through reductions in regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturing.

Sec. 2. Stakeholder Consultation on Streamlining Permitting. The Secretary of Commerce shall conduct outreach to stakeholders concerning the impact of Federal regulations on domestic manufacturing and shall solicit comments from the public for a period not to exceed 60 days concerning Federal actions to streamline permitting and reduce regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturers. As part of this process, the Secretary of Commerce shall coordinate with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration, and such other agency heads as may be appropriate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Do Consumers Care More About Businesses' Competence or Morality?

From MarketingProfs:
Consumers generally value competence more than morality when choosing among service providers, but that effect is weakened if the less-competent provider is seen as an underdog, according to recent research published in the AMA's Journal of Marketing...

The researchers conducted five studies to compare the impact of competence, morality, and warmth on consumers' choices.

The first study analyzed Yelp.com reviews of businesses to see how different attributes correlate to positive evaluations.

Some 88% of the positive online reviews examined mentioned competency attributes (reliable, knowledgeable, etc.).

In contrast, only 56% of the positive online reviews mentioned warmth attributes (friendly, etc.), and just 18% mentioned morality attributes (honest, trustworthy, etc.).

Monday, January 23, 2017

It's Not Just Millennials That Tap into Mobile for Social

From eMarketing:

It's no surprise that millennials' social media time is mainly spent on smartphones. But what about older folks—are Baby Boomers and older users mostly mobile when it comes to social? Turns out, the answer is yes, if not quite to the same extent.

According to Q3 2016 data from Nielsen, even those age 50 and up spend the vast majority of their social media time on mobile devices.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Low-Wage Workers Are Getting A Raise, And Economists Are Getting An Experiment

From FiveThirtyEight:

The new year brought raises — sometimes big ones — to millions of low-wage workers. It also begins the country’s first large-scale experiment in the economic effects of a double-digit minimum wage.

According to data collected by the National Employment Law Project, a workers-rights advocacy group, 19 states and 21 local jurisdictions raised their minimum wages at the start of 2017. Many of those increases were small cost-of-living adjustments, but some of them were dramatic. Arizona, where voters approved a wage hike on Election Day, raised its minimum wage by nearly $2 an hour, to $10 from $8.05... Some cities set the bar even higher...

Low-wage workers are understandably cheering the increases. So is the union-backed "Fight for $15" movement, which defied the odds to put the minimum wage back on the political agenda. Economists, though, are watching more warily. Researchers disagree about how minimum-wage hikes affect the economy, but most studies have found that wage increases have at most a small impact on total employment — that is, there is little evidence for the claim that the minimum wage is a major job-killer.

Those studies, however, have generally been based on minimum wages that were lower — and wage hikes that were more gradual — than the ones many cities and states are seeing now...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

NYS Economic Development Council names next leader

From BizJournals:

Economic developer Alison Lands has been named the next executive director of the New York State Economic Development Council.

Lands, who most recently worked as a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP, was confirmed as executive director designate yesterday by the council's board of directors.

She will replace Brian McMahon, who has served as executive director for the council for 16 years, after he retires on July 1.

Report on the Regulatory Flexibility Act, FY 2016.

The SBA Office of Advocacy released its annual report, Report on the Regulatory Flexibility Act, FY 2016. The report analyzes federal agency compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), as well as with provisions of the Small Business JOBS Act of 2010 and Executive Order 13272, “Proper Consideration of Small Entities in Federal Rulemaking.”

The RFA is Advocacy’s most effective tool for bringing small business concerns into the regulatory process. In FY 2016, Advocacy’s intervention on behalf of small business in federal rulemaking resulted in foregone regulatory cost savings of almost $1.4 billion. These cost savings came from Advocacy’s work on seven rules that were made final in FY 2016.

These and other regulatory successes stem from small business involvement in rulemaking made possible by the RFA. Advocacy facilitated this during FY 2016 through 27 small business roundtables, 20 public comment letters, working closely with agencies on small business concerns, and ongoing federal agency training in RFA compliance.

The report summary and the full report are available here on the Office of Advocacy website.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Manufacturing Industry Jobs Update: December 2016

From ThomasNet:

How can we measure growth for the industry overall? A good barometer is the state of the manufacturing workforce. That’s why we will be regularly diving deep into the latest information from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics to take the pulse of hiring in the industry and to highlight sectors that are growing.

According to the BLS's Employment Situation report for December, a total of 156,000 new jobs were added to the economy. However, despite this increase, the national unemployment rate ticked up one percentage point, from 4.6% in November to 4.7% in December.

Within the manufacturing industry, a total of 17,000 new manufacturing jobs were created during the month. However, the unemployment rate rose slightly, from 3.9% to 4%, meaning the industry finished the year with the exact same unemployment rate as it did in 2015.

As far as year-over-year growth manufacturing job growth, 2016 proved to be a mixed bag. While many sectors either held steady or lost workers, there were some that generated significant growth. These sectors include Food Manufacturing, which added 23,600 jobs for the year; Motor Vehicles And Parts, which added 15,900 jobs for the year; and Miscellaneous Nondurable Goods, which added 12,600 jobs over the last twelve months.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Business trends that will grow in 2017

From Inc

If you haven't noticed, Millennials have been on the rise. They are now the largest living group according to the Census Bureau.

Because so many Millennials are in charge of buying decisions, the world is changing and business trends for the upcoming years will have to cater more to this generation.

For an audience that craves success and technology, here are 10 strategies you may want to consider revamping for 2017.

From Entrepreneur

While it’s no secret that millennials have taken over the workforce -- according to Census Bureau data, they are now the largest living group -- how we groom them for leadership is a test many of us will face in 2017. Sure enough, a Bersin by Deloitte report has predicted that 2017 will be a disruptive year, during which more than three million company chiefs are set to retire, leaving those jobs wide open for up-and-coming young professionals.

So, here’s my advice: Plan ahead. Give your young employees the tools to be leaders now. Don’t wait until you have a void to fill to train them. That’s valuable time you'll be wasting; and, in business, wasted time is hardly a valued commodity.

See also this article from Forbes

Monday, January 16, 2017

Not All Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Are Feeling the Blues


From Emarketer

The divide between retail winners and losers seemed to widen further this holiday season.

The losers seemed to garner most of the headlines over the past week. A parade of retailers, including Macy's, Sears and Barnes & Noble, delivered disappointing holiday sales. Women's apparel retailer The Limited shuttered its 250 brick-and-mortar stores. Retail heavyweight Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reportedly is planning to cut hundreds of jobs before the end of this month.

These retailers share a common thread: brick-and-mortar general merchandise, apparel or book chains, retail sectors that have been hurt by consumers choosing to spend more money online, or on other types of purchases, whether gadgets or home supplies or even experiences.

While general merchandise and discount brick-and-mortar store sales fell 2.8% this holiday season, online demand in the segment actually surged 29%.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Entrepreneur’s Accounting Cheat Sheet

From Bplans:

According to a study undertaken by the Small Business Administration, 28 percent of companies go bankrupt due to problems with the financial structure of the company. Many of these problems could be avoided by following good accounting practices.

Keeping a record of your financial details IS important to the livelihood of your business.

Not only will the correct documents make it easy to file taxes, obtain new loans, and pitch investors, but they will also give you insight into the day to day health of your business, allowing you to make better decisions for the future.

The infographic will guide you through the essential documents you need, including helpful tips on finding an accountant for your small business.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

49% of businesses fell victim to cyber ransom attacks in 2016

From Tech Republic:

Nearly half of businesses report that they were the subject of a cyber-ransom campaign in 2016, according to Radware's Global Application and Network Security Report 2016-2017.

Data loss topped the list of IT professionals' cyber attack concerns, the report found, with 27% of tech leaders reporting this as their greatest worry. It was followed by service outage (19%), reputation loss (16%), and customer or partner loss (9%).

Malware or bot attacks hit half of all organizations surveyed in the last year. One reason for the pervasive attacks? The Internet of Things (IoT). Some 55% of respondents reported that IoT ecosystems had complicated their cybersecurity detection measures, as they create more vulnerabilities.

Ransomware attacks in particular continue to increase rapidly: 41% of respondents reported that ransom was the top motivator behind the cyber attacks they experienced in 2016. Meanwhile, 27% of respondents cited insider threats, 26% said political hacktivism, and 26% said competition.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Women still earn less than their male counterparts

From BizWomen:
In every state, women earn less than men, according to a new report published by Payscale.com. The gaps vary by industry, with larger gaps in finance and insurance and smaller gaps in education...

The survey also found that both men and women said they would be more likely to leave their employer if they knew the company wasn't addressing pay equity.

The key to having a diverse management team at the highest levels is to have a diverse pipeline of future leaders in the development track, said Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona BioIndustry Association...

The PayScale data also shows that women with MBAs feel they are underpaid and also experience inequity in the promotion system.

Also, Pumps and Power Suits: The Evolution of Women's Corporate Dress Code (infographic)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FTC Sends Checks to Nearly 350,000 Victims of Herbalife’s Multi-Level Marketing Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing checks to nearly 350,000 people who lost money running Herbalife businesses. The checks are the result of a July 2016 settlement with the FTC that required Herbalife to pay $200 million and fundamentally restructure its business. This represents one of the largest redress distributions the agency has made in any consumer protection action to date.

“We are pleased to announce that hundreds of thousands of hard-working consumers victimized by Herbalife’s deceptive earnings claims will receive money back,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Along with changes the company will make to its business structure, this is a win for consumers.”

The FTC used Herbalife’s records to determine who would receive a refund and the amount of each check. Generally, the FTC is providing partial refunds to people who ran an Herbalife business in the United States between 2009 and 2015, and who paid at least $1,000 to Herbalife but got little or nothing back from the company. Most checks are between $100 and $500; the largest checks exceed $9,000.

Also today, the FTC released the article Redress checks and compliance checks: Lessons from the FTC’s Herbalife and Vemma cases, which, for multi-level marketing companies, provides guidance drawn from the FTC’s cases against Herbalife and Vemma, including four key principles on compliance.

Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash refund checks. If you have questions about the case, contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Analytics Consulting LLC, at 855-561-1178.

To learn more, read about the Herbalife redress program. For tips on what to look for when joining a multi-level marketing company, read Money back for 350,000 Herbalife distributors.

Monday, January 09, 2017

How one chef responded to a zero-star review

From Tasting Table:

When Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson debuted LocoL, a revolutionary fast-food chain with a social mission, it seemed they could do no wrong.

With locations in Oakland and L.A., as well as a food truck, the beloved chefs were riding high. LocoL serves healthy alternatives at low prices to underserved neighborhoods. The mayor of Los Angeles even attended the opening of the first location last year.

Leave it to New York Times dining critic Pete Wells, who spares no one, to bring the LocoL chefs back down to earth with a no-star review published this week...

So was Wells feeling restless since his last feather-ruffling review? Or is LocoL too good to be true? Choi could have picked a fight if he wanted to but instead...

Friday, January 06, 2017

Convincing Skeptical Employees to Adopt New Technology

From the Harvard Business Review

Bringing new technology and tools into your organization can increase productivity, boost sales, and help you make better, faster decisions. But getting every employee on board is often a challenge. What can you do to increase early and rapid adoption? How can you incentivize and reward employees who use it? And should you reprimand those who don’t?

According to a study by MIT Sloan Management Review and Capgemini Consulting, the vast majority of managers believe that “achieving digital transformation is critical” to their organizations. However, 63% said the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow, primarily due to a "lack of urgency" and poor communication about the strategic benefits of new tools. "Employees need to understand why [the new technology] is an improvement from what they had before," says Didier Bonnet, coauthor of Leading Digital and Global Practice Leader at Capgemini Consulting, who worked on the research and coauthored the study. "The job of a manager is to help people cross the bridge — to get them comfortable with the technology, to get them using it, and to help them understand how it makes their lives better."

Leaders should expect to face luddites, people who aren’t naturally tech-savvy, and naysayers whose knee-jerk reaction is to oppose new things. "There are always some people who have their routines, and they just don’t want to change," says Michael C. Mankins, a partner in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office and the leader of the firm’s organization practice in the Americas. “That [attitude] persists as long as the organization permits it.” Here are some ideas for encouraging the adoption of a new technology.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Macy’s Store Closings

Info from Macy's.

Already Completed 2016 Closings

Laurel Plaza, North Hollywood, CA (475,000 square feet; opened in 1995; 105 associates);

Ala Moana Jewel Gallery, Honolulu, HI (2,000 square feet; opened in 1986; 9 associates);

Valley Fair, West Valley City, UT (106,000 square feet; opened in 1970; 53 associates);


Already Announced Year-End 2016 Closings

Final clearance sales at the following Macy’s stores closing in early 2017 will begin on Monday, January 9, and run for approximately eight to 12 weeks (with the exception of Lancaster Mall*, where final clearance sales are already in progress):

Greenwood, Bowling Green, KY (124,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 63 associates);

Carolina Place, Pineville, NC (151,000 square feet; opened in 1993; 69 associates);

Douglaston, Douglaston, NY (158,000 square feet; opened in 1981; 144 associates);

Downtown Portland, Portland, OR (246,000 square feet; opened in 2007; 85 associates);
*Lancaster Mall, Salem, OR (67,000 square feet; opened in 1980; 53 associates);

Oakwood Mall, Eau Claire, WI (104,000 square feet; opened in 1991; 55 associates)

Year-End Closings

Potential Pain Points When Starting a Small Business

From Bplans:


If you feel restless working for someone else and have come up with your own idea for starting a business, you should consider the challenges that you will face ahead of time.

Owning and running a business is incredibly rewarding—but it comes at a price. Stress, painful mistakes, and sacrifice all accompany the pride, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that comes with creating your own money making machine.

By knowing and preparing for these potential pain points, you will be better equipped to deal with complications when they arise. For an entrepreneur, challenges are almost guaranteed. Even so, no matter how prepared you are, you will need to use your own creativity and innovative skills to overcome some of the difficulties that you will encounter.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Impact of the 2015 U.S. dollar rise on export prices and on the agricultural industry

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. export prices experienced a major decline in 2015, as evidenced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) export price index. Prices for U.S. exports, published in dollar terms, decreased 6.6 percent in 2015, the largest calendar-year decline since the index was first published in 1983. However, the large decline in the U.S. dollar export price index did not tell the entire story. When measured in foreign currency terms, export prices were actually higher because of the strong dollar.

The value of the dollar strengthened against the euro, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, and Canadian dollar. Continued slow global economic and trade growth dampened demand for U.S. exports and influenced U.S. export price trends. The meeting of the strong dollar and lackluster demand for U.S. exports was particularly challenging for the U.S. agricultural industry. This Beyond the Numbers article analyzes what impact the strengthening dollar had on certain agricultural commodities.

The foreign currency perspective
In 2015, the U.S. dollar rose nearly 12 percent over the currencies of the nation’s major global trading partners.1 From the perspective of foreign importers, the dollar’s appreciation increased the relative price of U.S. goods. For foreign buyers, the local-currency price of a U.S. product was more expensive.

The fallout for agricultural prices
Agricultural commodities are primary food products grown and raised on our nation’s farms, ranches and orchards. Agricultural exports decreased in value from $150 bilion in 2014 to $133 billion dollars in 2015—a decline of 9 percent. Because most primary agricultural commodities are traded in U.S. dollars the world demand for agricultural products are constrained by the value of the dollar.

In 2015, a dollar-driven drop in demand for U.S. agricultural goods was compounded by some commodities markets being flush with excess world supply that also put downward pressure on prices. These market conditions pushed the export price index of agricultural commodities down 12.9 percent in 2015. Grains and legumes (beans) and meat (beef, pork, and poultry) provide some of the key price stories of the year.4

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Running A Business As A Creator

From Patreon:

When I got to PatreCon— Patreon’s first conference for creators— I’d hit a wall in my career. My novel trilogy had just been rejected by publishers. Not because it wasn’t good, but because almost no one wanted to commit until all three volumes were finished. Which meant I’d just spent three years writing for free, and was looking at two more years of doing the same.

I arrived at PatreCon feeling pretty helpless. The first night of the conference, we got a tour of Patreon headquarters. As soon as we started walking around, I felt better, though I couldn’t say exactly why. I just felt like I’d come to a safe space...

In talking to other creators, I realized that everyone had stories like mine. Everyone had hit a wall—realizing that even if they were talented, worked hard, and did everything “right,” the game was rigged against them. In fact, that’s how musician Jack Conte came up with Patreon in the first place: he’d once spent $10,000 of his own money building a set for a music video, only to see a meager $200 in ad revenue from YouTube.

My fellow creators were wellsprings of ideas and experiences. And during the conference, through many a workshop, talk, and quiet conversation, I scribbled down four things I had to remember.

1. Artists must be entrepreneurs. Full stop.

Monday, January 02, 2017

An educational business resource: funny business

Here’s a link for a curated list on Pinterest: Funny Business: from academic lessons about humor to corporate blunders, to university journal abstracts on laughter research, to that all-important emergency clown nose.

Business and academic use of humor. Humorous stories of real-world blunders, and cartoons with business-related themes, photos, videos, and books. Humorous stories of real-world blunders,and cartoons with business-related themes, photos, videos, and books.

The new Pinterest board has racked up more than 10k views in less than two weeks.