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emp-flex.jpgMore and more employers are turning to flexible work schedules--if that's what you want to call them--for bottom-line relief. According to a report in today's New York Times, the voluntary four-day work week is becoming more common as businesses look to cut their workforce costs in a down economy without laying off employees.

Unpaid vacations, forced time off, wage freezes and pension cuts are also becoming popular for entrepreneurs looking to hold on to their workers without taking a bath.

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Two days ago, I wrote a blog about Batman and Ironman.

Or at least the businessmen underneath the armor. Who was the better entrepreneur, Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark? Which company was better, Wayne Enterprises or Stark Industries?

I wanted to know. So I asked three of my friends to weigh in on Wednesday.

Now, I'd like to compare their perspective and insight to the reason and logic of an all-star panel of actual entrepreneurs and financial experts.

Alone, they are presidents, founders, professors and directors, but together, they are...The Panel of Truth & Justice!

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Batman and Ironman both saw some wild profits for their name this year, but nobody thinks to ask them for business advice.

And it's a damn shame.

When Batman has The Joker by his purple collars, nobody wonders about his employees' benefit plan. 

And when Ironman is wrecking hell on MODOK, nobody asks, "What kind of expansion do you think his company sees? How are they doing in today's global market?"

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Small businesses are in dire need of some support and representation right now, especially in government, so we only hope that Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., is up for the fight. On Monday, the Senate Leadership announced that Senator Landrieu will chair the United States Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the 111th Congress that convenes in January.

Senator Landrieu will be replacing Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., who is leaving the Committee to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Newsweek today reports on the success of Apple iPhone applications, which have netted even some small entrepreneurs as much as $1 million in revenue. Seemingly innocuous apps such as a virtual electric wind instrument, a sloshing, virtual mug of beer and a digital firecracker have been earning easy money for a cottage industry of tech-savvy programmers.

Apple gets 30 percent of the revenue on apps sold through its App Store (the only legitimate way to get third-party programs on an iPhone). Programmers take the rest. The little programs--games, calculators, music makers and more--range in price from free to more than $20.

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The Entrepreneur Growth 2.0 conference invaded the convention center last week in Long Beach, Calif. Business owners got the chance to hear Robert Kiyosaki speak, attend breakout sessions and mingle with other entrepreneurs.

One of the popular sessions was called Pitch the Editors, and it gave attendees the chance to talk to Entrepreneur editors for three minutes. Not a lot of time, you say. Well, it's about two-and-a-half minutes longer than most consumers are going to give, so the owners came prepared. Pitchers brought samples of their products, explanations of their ideas and diagrams of their dreams, all in hopes of catching the right ear. And while there were far too many ideas to include in the magazine and on the website, we wanted to highlight a few products/ideas here.

coffee-ent.jpgI'm not a doctor.

"What? Come on, Jake, but you know the remedy for so many things...snake bites...marketing campaigns...zombie apocalypses..."

OK, OK, so I am a doctor of sorts. Actually, let's just say I am a doctor. Let's say I just saved your life (as you were infected with the virus from the second season of Heroes). It took me quite a few hours, an andidote and several rolls of Playdoh to keep you breathing on my dining room table. I'm sleepy. The day has worn on me.

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The folks over at babycenter released this year's list of most popular baby names, and it's the usual train wreck--desperate parents deluding themselves into thinking their children are unique and special snowflakes.

So what does this have to do with small business? Well, businesses and even ideas are entrepreneurs' babies. Now think about how many times, for good or ill, you've conjured an image of someone in your head based solely on that person's name. If someone did the same thing to your business, what would they see?

cali-economy.jpgThe latest UCLA Anderson Forecast for the California economy was released today, and it foresees a recovery from recession for the Golden State late next year.

It sounds like good news, and it surely offers some hope for entrepreneurs, but in the meantime the report says California business and unemployment will continue to falter, with any bounce back coming slowly in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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I recently discovered a show that I really like. And by "discovered," I mean "I'm sure it's been on for a while now, but I'm too old to be watching MTV."

Anyway, the show's called "Exiled," and it involves taking some of the obnoxious little debutants who previously had their opulent Sweet 16 birthday parties documented by the network and sending them off to remote areas of the world for a week so that their parents don't have to go through the trouble of actually instilling some sort of values in them. It's infuriating to see how the girls behave, but thanks to schadenfreude, it's also very satisfying to watch them suffer. And it might just be at least one small step in helping our economy.

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We had the pleasure of meeting many entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners who lined up to pitch the editors of Entrepreneur at the publication's Growth 2.0 conference in Long Beach, Calif., this week.

Some of the more interesting businesses that pitched their stories to us included the following:

computer-virus.jpgComputer viruses infected an all-time high number of machines this year, with "malware" programs that take over terminals and use them as launching points to infect more hardware becoming the biggest headaches.

Finnish computer security firm F-Secure reported this month that the amount of malicious software it has detected has tripled since 2007, with the numbers doubling those of the past 21 years combined.

Lyved-Logo.jpgAndrew Galasetti is a lot like me.

Well, the more successful version anyway.

During my first semester of college, I started a website called Zaftig. I used a slow FTP server and a mildly senseless homepage-building program my parents bought me for Christmas when I was 16. I wanted Zaftig to be a community blogzine (before "blog" was in every sentence). My friends wrote articles, fiction and poetry for the site. I updated it with political links and my brother, at some point, drew a series called "The War of 2011: Vegetarians vs. Carnivores." It was a fun deal, but I became busy with college, postponed the site, and lost the passwords and software.

fashion.jpg"Sixty percent off is the new black." --the New Yorker magazine's Patricia Marx, writing about the deep discounts at New York fashion retailers; echoed today in the New York Times.



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We recently started frequenting a local outpost of one of the fastest-growing franchises in the nation--Sport Clips. The concept alone has to make any entrepreneur green with envy (and probably green with cash if he happens to own one).

Sport Clips is a hair salon for men. Fine. Simple. Well done. Where Fantastic Sam's and Supercuts are unisex, Sport Clips offers a no-question, no-fuss, moderately priced place for manly men to get their manes trimmed. Guys who come here don't have to worry about catching a cloud of hairspray or inhaling the skunky vapors of a coloring job in progress. No--it's all clippers and buzzing sounds and Jim Rome on the tube here.