The Week in Small Business – 12.10.11

by Kevin Casey on December 10, 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.

“Small Business” Takes Payroll Tax Spotlight

Small business — the phrase, rather than an actual small business — is (again) playing the part of the rope in a political tug-of-war, with Congress wrangling over proposals to extend the current payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. A number of op-ed pieces note one glaring problem with the debate: The many ways “small business” can be defined to suit a particular viewpoint or agenda. The Christian Science Monitor says those muddy classifications may render a potential small business exemption more trouble than it’s worth.

We Don’t Need No QR Codes

About to put some of your marketing muscle behind QR codes? Consider your audience: If your customer base skews younger, the modern-day barcodes might be lost on them. Nearly 80 percent of college students included in a recent study didn’t know how to scan a QR— short for “quick response” — code. CNN.com lists some reasons why the mobile technology might not be catching on. Check out the Intuit Small Business Blog’s 5 strategies for using QR codes.

#DoesThisSweaterComeInRed?

L.L. Bean isn’t a small business, even if its brand evokes a small-town vibe. But the clothing concern may provide an interesting case study for companies of all sizes as it adapts its longstanding catalog-and-phone business to the social media world. The New York Times profiles L.L. Bean’s recently created 10-person social media staff, which is charged with engaging with consumers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. The company isn’t without its social qualms, though. “People will be airing their gripes to a bigger audience,” says the company’s SVP for e-commerce.

No Email For You!

Do your employees spend too much time on email? Consider the approach of one very large business: Atos, a French IT firm, recently announced a “zero-email policy” for its 74,000-person staff. The company’s CEO said the decision was driven by the fact that just 10 percent of the email received by employees was useful — and 18 percent was spam. Instead, Atos will use a mix of instant messaging and social media tools to communicate internally.

Go Bold with Your New Year’s Resolutions

Tired of the same old ideas for how you — and your business — can do better in the New Year? Check out The Harvard Business Review’s “2012 List of Audacious Ideas.” The podcast offers up 13 big ideas for companies to consider for the coming year.

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