The Week in Small Business – 04.02.11

by Kevin Casey on April 2, 2011
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We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.

Unemployment Hits Two-Year Low

In the latest sign of a strengthening economy, the U.S. unemployment rate on Friday fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent. The Department of Labor notes that unemployment has dropped a full percentage point over the past four months, its sharpest decline since 1984. Small businesses have been doing their part: The most recent Intuit Small Business Employment Index shows smaller employers added 50,000 new jobs in March.

Do You Like Google Search Results?

Google this week launched a headline-generating change to its core search business, adding a “+1″ feature that allows users to recommend results in a manner similar to Facebook’s “Like” button. Does that affect your day-to-day operations all that much? That probably depends on your business, but if you have even a basic website, the +1 change adds another variable to how people find you online. ISBB’s Michael Essany takes a look at the potential impact for small businesses.

Dealing with a Tough Customer on Twitter

The social media universe provides an ever-expanding array of ways to connect with your customers — but that doesn’t mean those customers are always going to have wonderful things to say about your business. Sprout Social Insights tackles the problem of how best to handle an increasingly difficult customer who’s taking you task on Twitter. (Tip of the cap to @TweetSmarter for the link.)

Best Retirement Plans for Small Business Owners

With the April IRS deadline looming, it’s as good a time as ever to take a look at your retirement planning and contributions, especially if your nest egg includes tax-advantaged accounts. Forbes.com’s Stuart Robinson picks his top three plans for small businesses. It might also be an opportune time to revisit Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose’s retirement advice for business owners.

Are Grocery Store Beer Sales Bad for Business?

A potential update to liquor licensing in Colorado highlights another interesting case of how government legislation can impact local businesses. The proposed change would allow grocery and convenience stores in the state to sell beer — a product currently sold only by liquor stores, who stand to see sales shrink if the law passes. An editorial in The Coloradoan makes the case for how liquor stores and other small businesses — such as craft brewers — will suffer if grocery and convenience stores are allowed to sell suds.

Company Wants to — GASP! — Make Money

A fun(ny) one to close out the week: The Onion offers up an analysis of The New York Times‘ recent announcement that it will charge money for its online version. It’s a trend that all business owners might do well to monitor: In The Onion‘s words, “a groundbreaking new business model… in which the news website will charge people money to consume the goods and services it provides.”

Kevin Casey is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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