Monthly Archives: December 2013

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

New Year’s is a time of new beginnings, and there is no better time to improve your business. Take advantage of the momentum and enthusiasm that generally come with new beginnings, and get your small business in gear with these five resolutions:

  1. File all legal paperwork. Go through the endless stacks of documents that have accumulated over time, and continue to file new forms immediately. No more paper stacks!
  2. Take an objective look at your ROI. Analyze IT expenses,different approaches to marketing, computer systems and more.
  3. Stay on top of your tax payments. This quarter’s EST tax payment is due on January 15th, so make sure to have it ready beforehand to avoid additional fees.
  4. Get involved in social media. These networks are becoming increasingly important. Make sure not to get discouraged- establishing a solid presence on these sites takes time and commitment, so be prepared for some serious dedication.
  5. Revamp your website. According to research conducted by GE Capital Retail Bank, 81% of people research companies online before doing any business with them. Your website is often the first impression that potential customers get, so make sure it does your business justice with updated content, professional graphics and a simple, straightforward layout. Consider creating a mobile version of your website as well, as most online browsing is done via smartphones

Holiday Spending Boosts Stock Market

Consumers are showing some renewed enthusiasm and driving economic growth. In fact, stocks rose on Monday to record highs. The Dow is up 73, and the S&P 500 rose 9 alongside a 44 Nasdaq increase. The boost was supported by gains in Apple and Facebook, according to CNBC.com.

Daniel Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, explained: “The stock market bias is to the upside now, but don’t expect there to be very much action at all.” According to Greenhaus, the market will only be influenced if the numbers deviate greatly from expectations.

UBS’s Art Cashin added that the market appears ready for additional gains by the end of the year, but this week may remain dull. “I think you’re going to have a limited audience, and people are going to try to leave early,” he said.

Tuesday is indeed a short trading day in preparation for Christmas Eve, and stocks will be closing at 1 p.m. ET. Bond trading will also end at 2 p.m. The holidays are impacting more than just the stock market, with personal spending rising significantly for the holidays.

“In this latest month of November, consumers are spending quite a bit. There’s been a huge change. Before Friday’s GDP revision, we thought consumer spending was a dull 1.4 percent, and now it’s 3.6 percent,” said economist Chris Rupkey.

“I guess they are spending a lot ahead of the holiday season. Now we think services spending was not as weak as initially believed,” he added.

Frontier Communications Acquires AT&T Connecticut

AT&T is selling its Connecticut operations to Frontier Communications as part of its plans to shift focus to its new 4G LTE network. The $2 billion dollar deal will include AT&T’s 415,000 data, 900,000 voice and 180,000 video residential connections, as well as its local business connections and carrier wholesale relationships in the region.

According to AT&T, the proceeds from the exchange will be put towards expanding its 4G network throughout the United States, as well as attract more business customers and develop its high-speed U-verse internet and video services.

Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Frontier, stated:

“We are excited to be acquiring AT&T’s wireline operating company in Connecticut, where our company has been headquartered since 1946. This is a great opportunity to bring to Connecticut Frontier’s portfolio of products and services, such as Frontier Secure, our industry leading digital security offering that gives customers top-rated online computer protection and premium technical support. We see an opportunity to enhance broadband capabilities in Connecticut.”

“AT&T’s Connecticut business is substantial, well-defined and covers nearly the entire state. Based upon our track record, we are extremely confident that we will leverage this opportunity to deliver an excellent customer experience and shareholder value,” added president and COO Dan McCarthy.

AT&T has stated that the transaction will not effect the financial results of the past year, but will certainly have an impact in the future.

 

Jim Baer on Data-Driven Businesses

Jim Baer, a senior director of Data Science with LinkedIn, recently discussed what he considers the four keys to data-driven business. He explained that data today can and should have a tremendous impact on a company’s success.  Though every business varies, and getting involved in the data world appears a daunting task, companies can benefit greatly by assessing their individual goals and resources. According to Baer, there are four basic pillars upon which businesses should base their approach:

1. Build the Right Data Infrastructure for the Company’s Goals. Baer explains that a solid data infrastructure is the fundamental source of data which will help a company make decisions. However, creating a data infrastructure involves numerous different factors. “There will always be trade-offs between the cost of collecting an wielding data and the benefit for business goals,” he says. “For example, a gaming company may want to collect all of the data on how users play its games in order to create effective features and grow the business. This will require investing in a huge relational database that allows those building the games to ask a broad variety of questions.” Other businesses have different needs, depending on their market and client-base.

Baer suggests approaching the data infrastructure investment with specific goals in mind, as well as a certain degree of flexibility which will allow the infrastructure to grow and shift as the business evolves.

2. Democratize Data Throughout the Company. “Data infrastructure investments won’t provide value unless the data collected is accessible,” Baer says. “The more people who can access and use data to measure performance, evaluate improvements, and learn about the business and customers’ patterns, the better.”

3.   Enable Experimentation. Tools that allow experimentation are crucial, according to Baer. These allow a company to test innovations and treatments, as well as learn from performance data, before any high-stake decisions are made.

“The best experimentation systems will streamline the creation and tracking of test groups, treatments, and results to help simplify the process and scale it across an organization,” Baer explains.

4. Foster a Data-Driven Culture. Such a culture incorporates data in already-familiar processes, and encourages all employees to become more involved in experimentation and innovation. This culture can be supported by constantly consulting the data when decisions are being made. New programs and features should also be backed by data.

 

 

Former Goldman Sachs Employee Launches ‘Nation Swell’

Greg Behrman, a former Goldman Sachs employee, is drawing on his experience in Afghanistan to launch a new movement called “Nation Swell.” Aimed at encouraging small communities to resolve America’s problems, this activist media business is already being supported  by a number of investors.

Scott Lebovitz, Goldman Sachs merchant banking partner, has made personal investments alongside KKR partner Jonathan Smidt and KKR head of credit Nat Zilkha. Seed-rounding funding is also being provided by New Ground Ventures. Greg Romesh of BusinessWeek has also gotten involved.

The Nation Swell website, according to Behrman, is a for-profit site which plans to “tap corporate social responsibility dollars while connecting good ideas to the cash to support them.”

Time magazine journalists have already rallied to help curate content, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal showed up to show his support at a launch event earlier this week.