The Week in Small Business – 03.12.11
We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.
Businesses Double Up Their Twitter Use
A report from research firm eMarketer says that Twitter usage among small businesses doubled between Q3 2009 and Q4 2010, to 19 percent of all companies. That also happens to more than double the overall rate of tweeting adults in the U.S. — eight percent, according to Pew Research. But is that a good thing? Not always. Big business provided another reminder this week of the pitfalls of social media: A rep for Chrysler embarrassed the company by publishing an expletive-laced tweet criticizing Detroit drivers. The automaker later fired the agency responsible for their Twitter presence. Here's a no-brainer: If your business has a Twitter feed, know who's updating it. If you keep multiple accounts for personal and business use, know which one you're signed into. Since it's Chrysler, an automotive metaphor seems right: Just because your teenager gets their driver's license doesn't mean you should turn over the keys to the car and forget about it.
Like It or Not, Your Business Has a New Facebook Page
After a month-long optional transition, Facebook on Thursday flipped the switch on the new design and functionality for all Pages. Though the roll-out will be phased — there are a lot of them, after all — you'll no longer be able to use the old look-and-feel. The company did retain at least a version of chronological order for Wall posts: Visitors to your Page can now filter either by Top Posts (based on Facebook's formula) or Most Recent. Facebook this week also formally discontinued support for FBML — or Facebook Markup Language — for third-party application development.
Credit Unions Aim to Increase Lending Limits
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that credit unions are lobbying the federal government to ease restrictions on how much money they're allowed to lend to small businesses, from 12 percent of assets to 27 percent. In a letter to three key U.S. Senators, the head of the Credit Union National Association says that roughly 360 credit unions have maxed out their allowable loans or will soon hit the cap. Those institutions account for well over half of all credit union business lending, according to CUNA president and CEO Bill Cheney, who writes, "Those approaching the cap are those that have experience in serving small business."
Everyone Wants to Kinda, Sorta Get Rid of 1099 Rule. Maybe.
After its mention in the State of the Union address, it seemed that the 1099 rule — and the potential paperwork crisis it might cause beginning in 2012 — would be on the fast track to repeal. But although the House and Senate have each passed separate bills to do so, there's still disagreement on how to pay for resulting multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall. If you've been dreading the reporting requirement, it's sort of a no news is good news scenario: Though everyone on Capitol Hill seems to have agreed to get rid of it in principle, the mechanics of making that a reality still need some work.
Redefining "Business Casual"
They say a perk in working from home is that you don't need to follow a dress code. Apparently, telecommuters and virtual office workers are taking full advantage: A survey conducted by Virtual PBX polled some 600 owners and employees at smaller businesses on their use of virtual or remote offices. Among the lighter findings: Nearly half report "shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops" as their go-to attire when working remotely, while four percent indicate pajamas as their fashion choice. And, perhaps taking a page from The Emperor's New Clothes, more than two percent say they wear nothing at all.
Kevin Casey is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.