Monthly Archives: September 2010

What’s in the Small Business ‘Jobs’ Bill Besides $30B for Banks

Now that the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 is finally law, it’s time to take a look under the hood and see what-all is in there. Last week, I discussed the $30 billion in funding that goes to community banks — hopefully to lend to small businesses, but no guarantee there.Some have noted that calling it a jobs bill is kind of a stretch. There’s nothing that explicitly creates a job in here. The hope is that more funding will allow businesses to do more hiring. We’ll see how that pans out.In the meanwhile, here’s a look at the rest of the Job Act provisions…some of which offer at least a glimmer of hope of getting more funding into small business owners’ hands.
Higher SBA loan limits. The maximum size of an SBA-backed 7(a) loan rises from $2 million to $5 million, and 504 loans rise from a maximum of $1.5 million to $5.5 million. Loan fees for these stay gone for the 2010 tax year now, after earlier being eliminated for ’09.
These changes were sought by many entrepreneurs’ organizations. Clearly, the prime beneficiaries here are bigger small businesses, if you follow me. But those are important to the economy and can be big job creators. At lender CapitalSource’s small business lending group, managing director George Harrop put out a release proclaiming, “This is a very big deal for small businesses — and for small-business lenders.”We’ll see. Let’s hope this isn’t another ARC loan situation, where there’s funding, but rules and paperwork burdens keep much of the money from reaching businesses.Funding for state small-business investment programs: State venture funds have been drained in the recession. The bill allocates $2 billion in new funds for established and new state small-business loan programs. This one’s a savvy move, as the state funds are public-private partnerships that use their own money to leverage bank guarantees and additional funds. So this $2 billion is expected to help catalyze $20 billion in lending.Tax breaks: Once again, I think these help more medium-sized than really small businesses. There’s a 100 percent exclusion from capital gains tax for angel and venture-capital investors on small business investments. This is intended to get more investors putting money into companies again. The Administration says over 1 million small businesses may benefit, receiving investments that won’t bring the investors any capital-gains tax as long as they stay invested in a company for five years.The deal where you can take any credits your business has and apply them against any of the previous five years lives on in this bill, as does Section 179 (depreciation) expensing of up to $500,000 in the year of purchasing business equipment. The “bonus depreciation” of another 50 percent of the equipment cost also got renewed.Two for the smaller fry: A write-off of up to $10,000 of startup expenses for new businesses, and a new deduction for health-insurance costs for the self-employed.The dark side:The jobs bill isn’t all sweetness and light for small business owners, either. One of the provisions many were hoping to see struck that survived is the new requirement that small businesses fill out 1099 tax forms for all their substantial contractors. This paperwork-making pain remains.What do you think of the jobs bill? Is there something in it that might help you hire more workers? Leave a comment and let us know your reaction.




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New App Clues You in on What People Think of Your Website

You want to know what I think of your new website. You got a sec? The
folks over at Zurb have created an ingenious little web application that allows
anyone to conduct a free test of what visitors remember about a website. And
those visitors get exactly five seconds to form a first impression.

Called Clue, the site lets you
quickly capture a page and create an interactive memory test that helps
determine whether people understand what you’re trying to get across on your
website. Just visit the Clue website, submit your URL and create a test that gives you a
unique URL that you can then share with customers, vendors, employees and
others. You ask them to take the five-second test and they, in turn, provide
you with valuable feedback on what they think about the site.

By giving users mere seconds to absorb a web page and
recall the most memorable portions of that page, you’re able to quickly and
accurately identify the best elements on that page — as well as the ones that
don’t work so well.

Want to give Clue a test drive? Just visit http://www.clueapp.com/52+ and test any of the examples at the bottom of the page. If you’re impressed, the next step might be to sign up.In the case of wordpress.com –one of the test examples — results show us that visitors remember visuals or words that expressed “headache,” “signup” and “WordPress,” while not remembering “blogging” or “themes.” That’s good information to know if you’re the head of marketing of the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world.As a business owner, you can use the results from Clue to improve your online positioning, make changes that could reduce your site’s bounce rate and increase landing page performance. In addition, you gather valuable information about your customers, and you discover problems staring you right in the face that you were too blind to see. Clue’s target audience is anyone with a website as well as graphic designers who want to test an idea or a page. Those five-second tests are also perfect for employees who want to help management understand problems associated with the company’s website.The bottom line: This is a great tool for evaluating content pages and should be used before spending one minute on lengthy, costly usability studies. Clue is a quick, easy and free way to help you determine whether your brand messaging is clear and your calls to action memorable.




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Book Review: The Political Brain by Drew Westen

Why write about politics on an entrepreneurial blog?  If you’ve read my reviews long enough, you’ll know that I like to occasionally venture beyond business books for fresh insights. I’ve also written about how political campaigns are entrepreneurial, while the actual role of being a legislator is managerial. Hence you can learn a lot from campaigns. Still, I wasn’t going to review this until I read Seth Godin’s blog post last week which accurately summed up The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen.
From Seth’s blog:The market is not seduced by logic.  People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery.Logic is a battering ram, one that might work if your case is overwhelming. Walmart won by logic (cheap!), but you probably won’t.Seth nailed it. Consumers do not care about logic; they want stories and emotion.  And so it goes with voters and constituents.
Note that while the book criticizes Democrats, it’s written with a liberal bent. Westen makes no apologies for this as he walks through the mistakes made by Democrats in recent years. Yet, if you step back and take out the politics, these are mistakes made by entrepreneurs all the time.1.  Trying to sell your product based on facts and figures, not feelings.  Westen uses the Gore vs. Bush debate about Medicare to demonstrate this mistake at work. Gore relied on facts and figures, and Bush won the exchange by dismissing the “fuzzy math.” Sure, VCs want facts and figures, but consumers? Not so much.2.  Selling your product based on arguments for why people should buy, not by eliciting the right feelings in consumers. People buy based on emotions, not on who has the best arguments for why someone should buy the product. The example here was again from a Gore vs. Bush debate where Bush attacks Gore’s character. Rather than respond to the allegations and insinuations, Gore tries to refocus on issues. This didn’t go over well.3.  Assuming that the same campaign strategy will work for all demographics. What ignites emotions in some regions, i.e. New York and California, may be entirely different from what connects emotionally in the deep South. The same is true of a product. After its anti-woman ad on the Superbowl, it was clear that Bridgestone tires was not interested in selling tires to women. I hope they would have a totally separate ad campaign to run during Dancing with the Stars.4.  Ignoring core values and responding to what the people say they want. One of the problems Westen points to as a downfall of Democratic candidates is that they make decisions based on polling results. Heck, if Steve Jobs ever polled people, do you think they would’ve said … yes, we want this thing called an iPad?5.  Not telling a story. Whether it’s on the campaign trail or in promoting a product or service, the one with the best story wins emotionally.   For political junkies, this book is truly fascinating. Unfortunately, it ends before the Obama campaign. Yet one can see exactly what he did during his campaign to overcome many of the obstacles his predecessors struggled with. For me, however, the highlight of the book was the reprinting of some of the great political speeches, slogans and ads, from Lincoln to Roosevelt to the present.Since it’s election season, The Political Brain is a fun read that just might spark some ideas for entrepreneurs.




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Winning Strategies Event: Join Us in Long Beach Oct. 5

Winning Strategies conferenceMeet us. Pitch us. We want to hear your stories.Entrepreneur is inviting readers to our free Winning Strategies for Business conference Tues. Oct.5, in Long Beach.It’s a day of seminars, speakers and networking. (Here’s the agenda.) But what makes the day particularly special for us is our Meet the Editors session. It’s a chance to meet you, our readers, face to face, and hear about your business in person. Tell us why your business should be featured in Entrepreneur magazine or on Entrepreneur.com and what lessons other readers can learn from it.
If you think your company is newsworthy, let us know why. For example: Have you developed an innovative product, service, or technology?Did you overcome a big challenges or obstacle while starting up or growing?Have you used an innovative or unusual marketing/sales or financing strategy or management technique?Each attendee gets three minutes to make their pitch. Last year, lines looped out the door. The passion and energy was electric. Great ideas come out of these brief meetings, some of which end up on our pages.Here is a link to our pitching guidelines. If we’re interested in pursuing your story, we’ll follow up with you.Hope to see you there.




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New Character Cast On Glee: Will Kurt Get a New Boyfriend?

Looks like the rumors are true, producers for Fox have cast a new character for Glee who could become Kurt’s new boyfriend. Darren Everett Criss has been cast for the role of Blaine, a gay student from another glee club named Dalton Academy Warblers. Other sources say that Criss’ character and Colfer’s character will be no more than friends on the upcoming episodes of Glee. It has even been rumored that Kurt will get with the new character Sam who was introduced on a previous episode.
GleeGlee
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The Situation Wants More Money Now That He’s On DWTS

Posted at “First Class Fashionista”
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino Wants More Cash: The Situation Wants More Money Now That He’s On DWTS!
Looks like Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino wants more money for appearances now that he’s on Dancing with the Stars. Word is, the Dancing With The Stars newbie is now trying to charge 100,000 dollars to show up at Hollywood Parties. However, a source tells E! that “The Situation” was recently denied an appearance for an upcoming gig. The unnamed event planner says he didn’t turn down “The Situation” because of the money, which he says was too much, but because “The Situation” just wasn’t a good fit.
“We didn’t feel he was a good fit for our brand. Plus, that was too much money,” says the event planner. The name of the brand was also undisclosed.
Even though Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino was denied the gig, it is estimated that he will still rake in over 5 million in cash this year.
The Situation The Situation
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Lindsay Lohan Gives Back: Lindsay Visits Homeless Shelter

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Lindsay Lohan Visits The Dream Center
Two days after posting $300,000 bail and being released from jail, it looks like Lindsay Lohan is ready to give back. Lindsay was seen spending time at a local homeless shelter for women and children. A source says, Lindsay Lohan’s business manager encouraged Lindsay to go to the The Dream Center and meet people who are less fortunate than her.
Lindsay Lohan enjoyed her time there and later tweeted, “What a great place The Dream Center is here in LA…had a nice time there today, it’s so important to give back. I feel blessed”.
Reportedly, Lindsay Lohan plans to check herself into rehab Monday morning. Will giving back and checking into rehab keep Lindsay out of jail?
Lindsay LohanLindsay Lohan
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Bone Thugs N Harmony at Gothic Theater Denver

Posted at First Class Fashionista
I was a guest of the talented Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at their concert held at the Gothic Theater in Englewood, Colorado last night! Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are rappers with an unrivaled, unique lyrical style. I have been a fan of the group every since their first album dropped. I knew time had passed, but I didn’t realize Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were celebrating 15 years in the music business.
During the concert, Lazie Bone, one of the members of the group, made the announcement. “We are celebrating 15 years in the music biz and we couldn’t have done it without you!”, says Lazie Bone.
I had never been to a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony concert and I was surprised to find that it was more like a party and they were there not only to entertain, but to just hangout with their fans. There was a lot of drinking and smoking on stage and a lot of smoking in the venue- I guess it was that type of party.
My only complaint is that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony was late. The doors opened at 8 pm, but the group did not got on stage until 10:45. They had a show in Aspen the previous night, so I believe they may have been stuck in our Sunday I-70 traffic. I really didn’t mind waiting because my tickets were free, but the crowd did become extremely restless.
Anyway, let me tell you the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony story. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are from Cleveland. They are all related, except Krazie Bone. He is a childhood friend. The story goes, they grew-up poor and began selling drugs when they were teenagers. Gifted with the ability to sing and rap, they realized that a music career could be their way out, especially after Layzie Bone was shot in the head.
During this time, Eazy E was at the top off the rap game, so they took the bus from Cleveland to LA to see him. When they got to LA, they were eventually able to contact Eazy E by pay phone and performed for him right then and there. However, they didn’t hear from Eazy E after that but when they found out Eazy had an upcoming concert in Cleveland, they went back home. On the night of the Eazy E concert, they made their way backstage and performed for Eazy E again and the rest is history. Good story, right?
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Related PostsVitamin Water Release Party Jet Hotel, Denver Colorado

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Michael Kors Spring 2011 Fashion Forecast

Posted at First Class Fashionista
Michael Kors Spring 2011 New York Fashion Week
The Michael Kors spring 2011 collection was featured on the runway at the Michael Kors Spring 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week held at The Theater Lincoln Center on Wednesday, September 15, 2010.
The Michael Kors Spring 2011 Runway Fashion Forecast: A fresh, but relaxed and casual look. We see a lot of white and khaki with a bit of grey being added to the wardrobe. Leather belts and sandals are the season’s must-haves. A Micheal Kors trench coat may also be added to the relaxed and casual look for spring.
We really hope the half-shirt / belly out shirt isn’t making a comeback!
Click to view larger images of the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2011 Fashion Show

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

Michael Kors Spring 2011 Collection

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Related PostsOscar de la Renta Spring 2011 Fashion Forecast#NYFW New York Fashion Week Spring 2010 ScheduleCynthia Rowley Spring 2011 Runway Fashion Forecast #NYFW

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David Beckham Suing “In Touch Weekly” Magazine

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Looks like David Beckham was serious when he said he was suing In Touch Weekly for writing an article that claimed that he had cheated on wife Victoria Beckham with a prostitute back in 2007. The controversial In Touch Weekly story claimed that David Beckham paid call girl, Irma Nici, $10,000 to have sex and stay the night with him in a hotel five times in 2007. According to reports, Beckham has taken his lawsuit to court and is suing In Touch Weekly, claiming that they published false information, and for quoting the woman who was said to be his prostitute.
Word is, David Beckham is also suing the former call girl, Irma Nici, for 7.9 million in damages to him and his family. Beckham’s lawyer released a statement saying, “She has treated his wife and children with such disregard he is not prepared to let this one go”.
Best of luck to Beckham and his family.
David and Victoria BeckhamDavid and Victoria Beckham
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