This ad will close in
small-biz-summit.jpg

Whether you're in the business of technology or your business just needs some, the 2009 Small Business Technology Summit ;has something for you.

The summit takes place Tuesday, Feb. 3, in New York City and is co-hosted by Entrepreneur.com tech columnist Ramon Ray, who also serves as editor and technology evangelist for smallbiztechnology.com. So if you're in the New York area, don't miss the chance to attend the event.

hometown-quotes.jpg

I have long been in contact with Krista Farmer,a public relations rep for HometownQuotes.

Some weeks ago, she made a comment about being "blessed" to work where she did. She added that her bosses, Bob and Hunter, had created the perfect working environment, with an open-door policy and babies in the workplace (lucky).

Now, there are plenty of bosses across America that treat their co-workers like friends and they get the best out of them.There's always a fair percentage of good bosses vs. bad bosses. And then I thought, so why not reward good behavior?

So I asked Bob and Hunter some...IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!

content continues below
business-confidence.jpg

On Thursday, January 29, 2009, the Irvine (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce and the University of California, Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business hosted the Business Outlook 2009, an economic forecast featuring presentations by three speakers: Andrew Policano, dean of UCI's business school; Emile Haddad, CIO of Lennar Corp.; and Rick Keller, CEO of The Keller Group Investment Management Inc.

The forecast yielded insights on the state of the economy, the real estate industry, and the performance of the stock market.

economy-grim.jpg

Last year was a rough one for retail-sector employees, and 2009 isn't shaping up to be any better. That's a lot of retail veterans without jobs. The more entrepreneurial minded of those laid-off workers will go into business for themselves, putting their honed skills to use in an environment of their own making.

One franchise is looking to capitalize on that abundance of talent. GNC wants to encourage displaced veterans of the retail industry to open their own business in 2009, and to help them along, the company is offering a 25 percent discount off its $40,000 initial franchise fee ($30,000 with the discount).

stimulus-incubator.jpg

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration asserts that using federal stimulus money to fund business incubator programs instead of using it to expand federal infrastructure projects is a better use of taxpayer dough when it comes to creating jobs and firing up the nation's economy.

The study (PDF), touted by the National Business Incubation Association as a guiding light for some of President Obama's $825 billion in proposed stimulus money, states that backing nonprofit business incubation programs is up to 20 times more effective than investing in community infrastructure projects when it comes to creating jobs.

gordon-gekko.jpgIt's been a week since our new president took office and there's already been some changes made. But the changes that everyone seems to be waiting for are new economic policies.

We'd like to see what Barack Obama is going to do for business.

But since I can't get an interview with our new president, I thought maybe I should head into the lion's den, find the most cutthroat man in business. The most beloved, the most feared. A man who knows money like bees know honey.

Who could that possibly be?

Gordon Gekko.
mcdonalds-economy.jpgFast-food titan McDonald's announced quarterly profits that beat Wall Street's estimates and proved, arguably, that the business of cheap fast food done well sometimes thrives in a down economy. Franchisees own a majority of the burger behemoth's stores worldwide.

The company states that global sales increased 6.9 percent in December, helping it distribute an average $2 annual dividend to shareholders. McDonald's plans to open 1,000 new locations in 2009. Only Subway restaurants plans to open more stores.

obama-green.jpg

President Obama's $825 billion economic-stimulus proposal includes millions of dollars intended to fund alternative energy projects, the weatherizing of American homes and the upgrading of federal buildings so they are more energy efficient. It has some green-energy entrepreneurs excited about the prospect of a flood of federal dollars, but the plan is already inspiring resistance among Republican lawmakers.

"No single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy," Obama stated. "It is time for this moment of peril to be turned into one of progress."

jacquie-warren.jpgJacquie Warren is the president and CEO of the Irvine (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce. On January 29, the Chamber, together with the University of California, Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, presented the 2009 Business Outlook, an economic forecast for Orange County that has relevance for the rest of the country. Here, Warren discusses the event and resources offered to local business owners.

Entrepreneur: How is the Irvine Chamber managing the changes that have come up during the recession?
Warren: One of the good things about having a smaller organization is that you can change on a dime and try and give people what they need. We survey our membership on a fairly regular basis to find out where they are and what they want.

health-insurance.jpg

The latest Discover Small Business Watch survey reveals today that more and more business owners--85 percent--are forgoing health insurance plans for their employees in the interest of cost savings. That number is up from 77 percent last year and 74 percent the year before.

Even among those survey respondents that do offer health insurance, 36 percent have considered dropping the benefit during the last year, according to Discover Small Business Watch.

kid-detective1.jpg

I've been wanting a freakin' watch phone ever since I was a kid.

Ever since I saw Dick Tracy.

I'm talking more about the movie adaptation, of course, as the comic's initial debut was slightly before my time (seeing as how people could read the original comics in "Hoovervilles"). But the movie ... oh, what a movie for a kid to see at that age! It was at exactly the right time, too, when I needed to mature beyond educational programming like Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow to rampant vixens with cleavage and goon mobsters with tommy guns.

jimmy-buffett.jpg

I am a Jimmy Buffett fan. OK, it might be a little more than that. I have a Margaritaville tattoo. For real. It was my first one. You're darn right it hurt. In fact, I told the needle-wielding tattoo artist, "Um, we can probably stop at Margarita." He said, "Too late. I've already got the v done." He may have been lying. But I couldn't chance walking around with Margaritav tattooed on my chest for the rest of my life. I got the tattoo.

I also have the CDs. Lots of them. And I've been to the shows. Several. There's photographic evidence out there to prove it. Grass skirts, large parrot-shaped earrings and coconut bikinis. And that was just me. To be a Jimmy Buffett fan is to be a connoisseur of his music but also to be a member of the culture he created--the endless search for Margaritaville.

restaurant-industry.jpg

It's not exactly breaking news, but it's certainly been made official this week: Restaurants are expected to have their worst year in more than a generation.

While price-conscious franchises such as Subway seem to be taking the recession more or less in stride (the sandwich behemoth plans on opening 1,600 or so stores this year), high-end eateries are bearing the brunt of the downturn--and several closures have been reported in places like New York.

small-biz-owner.jpg

Small-business owners don't need to be told times are tough. They are living it every day. Some are even thriving in this time of economic unrest. But most are toeing the line and looking for ways to make it through the year-old recession. They're looking where they can for assistance and advice.

One organization is helping business owners in Southern California survive and even thrive. The Santa Ana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration and its resource partners, Orange County SCORE Chapter 114, Orange County Small Business Development Center and the Institute for Women Entrepreneurs Women's Business Center, have joined forces to form "tiger teams" to help small businesses that need assistance during these tough economic times. Tiger teams consist of representatives from each organization, who are selected based on the needs of each business. The tiger team will meet with businesses on-site to analyze their operations and make recommendations to help them stabilize and improve their businesses.

president-obama-flag.jpgBarack Obama, sworn in today as the 44th president of the United States of America, praised the nation's heritage of entrepreneurship, labor and charity, and reminded his countrymen that they have a history of not backing down in the face of economic adversity.

"It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things--some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor--who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom," Obama said in his inaugural speech at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.