The Week in Small Business – 12.17.11

by Kevin Casey on December 17, 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.

Amazon Price Check, Aisle Four!

Want to use your smartphone to scan an item on a store shelf to find out if you can buy it cheaper on Amazon.com? There’s indeed an app for that, and it’s raising the hackles of small business owners and at least one U.S. Senator. The Amazon Price Check App for iPhone and Android devices enables shoppers to scan a product in a physical store and compare prices with Amazon.com, further fueling heated debate over the company’s practices. (A one-day discount encouraging shoppers to use the app provided a particularly strong splash of gas on the fire.) An Amazon spokesperson told The New York Times that the app wasn’t intended to hurt small businesses, but to be used at Amazon’s big-box retail competitors.

The End (of the Year) Is Nigh — Plan Now

It’s like they always say: Nothing rings in the holidays like tax planning! OK, no one says that. But shrewd small business owners will mix in year-end tax moves with their eggnog and gift wrapping. Many decisions that could lower your 2011 bill must be made by December 31. (And no matter what: April is just a few calendar pages away.) The Boston Globe offers up 5 ideas in advance of the coming filing deadline. Also check out the Intuit Small Business Blog’s 7 year-end tips that could lower your tax hit.

Happier Holidays for Small Businesses

Take a hike, Scrooge — there’s nothing to see here but holiday cheer. So says this Forbes blog post, noting a mix of financial and survey data that points to a rising tide of optimism among small business owners heading into 2012. Among the good news of late: American Express says that its recent Small Business Saturday brought some 103 million consumers through the doors of local, independent businesses — considerably more than the 89 million it had projected.

At Least We Have Our Health… Right?

That uptick in business optimism might have a dangerous cost. The latest Manta SMB Wellness Index finds that while nearly three out of four small businesses dub 2011 a successful year, 44 percent say that’s come at the expense of their personal health. One in three owners are exercising less, and 22 percent say they’ve packed on some extra pounds this year. New year’s resolutions, here we come!

Psssst, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing Here. #HELP

As Twitter rolls out its newly redesigned site, The Wall Street Journal looks for lessons learned from how three large companies use the platform to interact with customers. One of the core challenges for businesses big and small: Determining who should be empowered to tweet on the company’s behalf. Another: The always-on nature of Twitter and other social sites. Says the Whole Foods exec responsible for @WholeFoods and its 2.1 million followers: “The online community doesn’t recognize office hours — nor should they.”

The Week in Small Business will be on hiatus until the new year. Happy holidays, and we’ll see you in 2012.

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

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