Small business owners' sentiment unchanged in May - The Guardian Small business owners' sentiment unchanged in May - The Guardian

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Small business owners' sentiment unchanged in May - The Guardian

Small business owners' sentiment unchanged in May - The Guardian

NEW YORK (AP) — Small business owners remain fairly pessimistic about how business will fare in the coming months, according to a recent survey.

The National Federation of Independent Business says its May index of owners' optimism was little changed, inching down to 94.4 from 94.5 in April. The NFIB, which lobbies on behalf of small business, compiled the index from a survey of its members. It stands at the same level as in February 2011.

One positive component of the index is a 1 percentage point increase in the number of owners planning to hire. But more than a third of those surveyed reported difficulty finding qualified workers for their openings. Three-quarters of the owners hadn't made any changes in their staffing levels in recent months.

Owners remained uncertain about the future. NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said the number of owners expecting their sales to rise in the coming months fell 4 percentage points — the third straight monthly decline in expectations for sales. The number of owners who plan capital outlays, or spending on investment or to expand, fell 1 percentage point.

"There was little improvement in the numbers to suggest that job creation would pick up a lot of steam anytime soon," Dunkelberg said.

The NFIB questioned 681 randomly selected members for its survey. The group's membership includes 350,000 small business owners.

Business traveller: Getting travel approval - Financial Times

June 12, 2012 7:36 pm

Buffett lauds Chicago small business program graduates - Chicago Sun-Times
Story Image

Graduate Dennis Deer of Deer Rehabilitation Services addressed his peers who graduated from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. The commencement ceremonies were at Malcolm X College Tuesday, June 12, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Updated: June 12, 2012 9:04PM

Showing the potential behind even a very small business, billionaire investor Warren Buffett shared the story of how he paid $1 billion to buy a Chicago area business (the Pampered Chef) started by Doris Christopher with a $3,000 loan from her husband’s insurance policy and paid $60 million to buy one launched by a Russian immigrant with $500.

“It finally dawned on me: You’ve got to catch these people early,” he said to 37 Chicago entrepreneurs, prompting laughter from the group at their graduation from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses education program Tuesday.

“I wanted to meet 37 people like I met this morning,” said Buffett, co-chair of the program’s advisory council and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. “These are winners.”

Graduates wrapped up 20 weeks of training at Harold Washington College. The college will have a new focus on small business growth and entrepreneurial professional services, part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s College to Careers initiative, it was announced at the event.

Buffett and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein joined Emanuel at the graduation of the entrepreneurs from the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative, which also is taking place in six other cities.

The five-year program, launched in Chicago last September, is designed to help small businesses create jobs and stimulate economic growth. It includes a commitment of $25 million in small-business loans to Chicago companies, business education and grants for supporting community partners.

The Chicago business owners studied accounting, human resources, negotiation and marketing, among other topics. The program also included one-on-one business consultation and advice from Goldman Sachs professionals.

Dennis Deer, graduate of the program, said he has learned skills to empower his employees to succeed. He is CEO of Deer Rehabilitation Services Inc., a North Lawndale-based company that provides case management, psychological and forensic services to ex-offenders and law enforcement professionals. He recently hired four new employees, raising his work force to 22, and is on track to double revenues this year.

In introducing Buffett at the event, he drew laughter when he said that if last year “someone would have told me I was going to be sitting next to Warren Buffett, I would have slapped them for lying.” He added Buffett is “a gentleman, who knows a good business when he sees one. Mr. Buffett today you have 37 great businesses in front of you and we’re truly honored to meet you.”

Deer said through the program he has learned to spend “time working on my business, and not working in my business.” That also was a key lesson for graduate entrepreneur Danielle Hrzic. She is owner of Gourmet Gorilla Inc., a food service company that provides local and organic meals to schools in northern Illinois. The program helped the company work through its challenge of having grown from a 10 x 10 kitchen with a few employees serving 100 meals, to serving 5,000 meals to about 90 schools, she said.

She has learned how to better analyze the company’s finances and cash flow, be an effective leader and make the right hires, she said.

She added she and her husband have been able to pull away from day-to-day management by hiring a director of operations.

“We haven’t chopped a vegetable in months,” she said. “Because we have that additional support, we were able to obtain additional contracts, so we’ll be increasing our production for the new school year by 50 percent, providing about 7,500 meals.”

She expects revenues to grow from $1.8 million last year to $2.2 million this year.

Business gong boosts hometown status - Brisbane Times
Ben Shipley, founder of Comscentre.

Ben Shipley, founder of Comscentre. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

When Ben Shipley won Young Business Person of the Year at the Lord Mayor's Business Awards last year he had business from all around the world.

But the one place he had struggled to get a foothold was his home town of Brisbane.

Mr Shipley is the managing director of Comscentre, which began in a garage 10 years ago offering technology to small and medium businesses which was previously only available to big businesses.

As nominations opened for this year's awards he said the win had greatly improved his business in Brisbane.

"It was very positive, especially for our Brisbane business, we're a bit of an unusual company in that most of the work we do is interstate and overseas so from a Queensland perspective, which is quite a large market for us, we sort of got some recognition from the home market," he said.

"It was really, really positive, it's been a bit of a weird situation in some ways, we can supply services to Queensland companies and governments and organisations whether or not they did not know about it.

"But we had a lot of southern companies and Asian countries entrust us with their communications but not Queensland companies."

Mr Shipley said his company had entered talks with many businesses in Queensland since he won the award – and it had even opened doors to working with the state government.

"We got meetings with the various people who could help, just the change has been amazing, it's been very positive for our Queensland business in particular," he said.

"Also, to some degree, from a cultural perspective, our Asian customers really do respect that sort of stuff."

Nominations opened across nine categories last week for this year's awards.

Nominations close on July 27 and the categories range from Business Creativity to Business Person of the Year.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said celebrating Brisbane's business achievements was essential in recognising and promoting the city's business community.

“The Lord Mayor's Business Awards showcase our leading business talent and together with the Brisbane Economic Development Plan they aim to maximise every opportunity possible for the growth and prosperity of our economy,” he said.

“I encourage all organisations to nominate for the awards and look forward to seeing some fresh faces at this year's event.”

The 2012 winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner on October 31.

Visit or contact Brisbane Marketing on 07 3006 6200 for more information.

Scottish independence financial plans questioned by former FSA boss Howard Davies - Daily Record

A FORMER head of the UK's financial regulator has questioned the Scottish Government's currency and financial plans for the country under independence.

Sir Howard Davies, a former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, said the SNP position to keep a central Bank of England and the pound is unclear.

"It's not obvious quite how a system with two separate finance ministries and one central bank would work," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.

The comment follows a speech by Finance Secretary John Swinney yesterday in which he underlined the plan to keep a "sterling zone" and the UK regulatory framework if Scots vote for independence in 2014.

Sir Howard referred to the current European Union banking crisis, arguing that its central bank is not prepared to provide money without limit.

"Supposing the Bank of England looked again at a Scottish bank and said 'It's really in trouble, people would would want it to be rescued, but we're not going to rescue it unless we're indemnified'.

"Where would they look for that indemnity? It wouldn't be the UK Treasury, presumably the English Treasury - it would have to be the Scottish Treasury.

"I don't quite know how you can be a servant of two masters, in terms of two separate treasuries and one central bank. I can't think of an analogy where that's the case."

Mr Swinney described the SNP administration's plan to a business audience in Glasgow yesterday.

In his speech, published on the Scottish Government website, he said: "A sterling zone will provide businesses both in Scotland and the rest of the UK with the certainty and stability for trade, investment and growth.

"And as the Bank of England takes on the role of regulator for UK financial services - a very sensible and long overdue position - retaining the pound will preserve the highly integrated UK financial services market.

"That framework is solid and substantial and I know that understanding our proposal is important to many of you in making your decisions about Scotland's future."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the position following Sir Howard's comments.

Asked how a Scottish institution would be bailed out, Ms Sturgeon told Good Morning Scotland: "We've covered this point previously. The Scottish Government, in that scenario, would pay the Bank of England to provide lender of last resort facilities for Scottish banks.

"The Scottish Government has made clear, the SNP's made clear, that an independent Scotland would remain within sterling."

The position is "eminently sensible", she said.

'Diablo 3' real-money auction house launches in US - Digital Spy

Are the financial markets really Europe’s savior? - Reuters Blogs

If the euro is saved, the much-maligned power of global financial markets will deserve much of the credit.

The conventional wisdom among many on the intellectual left is that unbridled financial players threaten to destroy the European Union, one of history’s noblest, war-ending projects. The truth, however, is something else. To be sure, speculators lack noble motives, and global capital is a blunt instrument that tends to overshoot. But markets are forcing European leaders to fix their fatally flawed monetary union, a union that can only last with deeper economic integration and greater political (and democratic) legitimacy.

Last weekend’s agreement by Spain to accept a bank bailout, based on a European aid package of $125 billion, is a dramatic case in point. Senior Obama administration officials, in a series of urgent conversations with their European counterparts, warned that Spain posed the possibility of a “Lehman moment,” with global reverberations that no one could predict. If European leaders didn’t demonstrate to markets that they would pool their resources to address the banking meltdown of Europe’s fourth-largest economy, the contagion could have spread, what remained of U.S. and global growth could have evaporated, and the European Union itself would have been endangered.

In retrospect, it may have been wiser to build Europe without a common currency, one senior Obama administration official told me, given all the historical and national differences. However, now that the euro is used by 17 countries and has become a global reserve currency, the euro zone can’t be dismantled without unacceptable European and global risk. Thus, U.S. officials had been urging European leaders to settle the Spanish bank crisis before the Greek election next Sunday, June 17, and the G-20 meeting June 18-19, to avoid convening on the brink of financial catastrophe.

In the end, however, it wasn’t President Obama who forced a Spain deal through his lobbying with the top three euro country leaders – Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Italian President Mario Monti. (Side note: One does wonder whether British Prime Minister David Cameron isn’t beginning to feel left out). Instead, it was the unrelenting pressure of European and global creditors and investors, who were withdrawing in droves from Spain, unsure whether a German-led Europe would provide the financial bazooka required.

The simple fact is that Europe some time ago ceased having a true monetary union. Although no country has withdrawn from the euro, markets have quit treating it as a trusted, common currency. As Irish economist Colm McCarthy writes: “Europe’s single financial market has been sundered through deposit flight and nation-by-nation re-matching of assets and liabilities.”

At an event jointly hosted by the Atlantic Council and Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung on Friday, IMF chief Christine Lagarde worried about political cycles running behind economic and market cycles, as “a movie we have watched one too many times.”

It looks something like this. Tensions escalate and, out of necessity, policy makers take action. But just enough for the danger to subside. Then the urgency is lost, momentum wanes, then the policy discourse begins to fracture, too focused on their own backyards and not enough on the big picture. And so tensions start to rise again.

But, with the passing of each cycle, we reach a higher and higher level of uncertainty, and the stakes rise. At this point, stability is at stake. Growth is at stake. In the case of Europe, the cycles are now threatening the very existence of the European project.

Markets tell politicians what they don’t want to hear. Economist Jean Pisani-Ferry says bond markets won’t be convinced until they see Europe has a banking union (Europe-wide banking supervision, deposit insurance, and crisis resolution), sufficient tax pooling (so that EU-level institutions can take charge of financial stability), and mutualization of enough of the costs of the crisis to convince markets that their bets against the euro are in vain.

Markets will continue to test Europe’s leaders until they are convinced they are committed to correcting their system’s flaws. And resisting markets is like complaining about the rain, and this one is a deluge. Global markets have a weight that no one anticipated when the Maastricht Treaty created the single currency in 1992.  Since then, global financial stock has quadrupled through 2010 to $212 trillion, from $54 trillion in 1990, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. More stunning yet, Lagarde says the total amount of outstanding OTC derivatives in 2011 was $648 trillion in 2011, compared with just $12.1 trillion in 1992.

Josef Ackermann, former Deutsche Bank chief executive and now chairman of Zurich Insurance Group, said at the Atlantic Council last week that markets have done Europe a favor by forcing upon it financial and structural reforms and greater discipline. “There’s no politician who stood up and said we have to change that – not one,” he said. Without markets shifting credit spreads, he believes Greek profligacy would have gone on for some more years. “We’ve completely changed the discipline of European countries going forward, and that’s a good thing.”

Beyond that, however, he says politicians need to do much more to convince voters of Europe’s value. “A fragmented Europe has no way for self-determination,” he warned. “We will have to accept what the United States, China, India, Brazil and other countries [dictate to] us. This cannot be the future of our children.”

If Europe manages this crisis successfully, Ackermann argues, it will instill a new self-confidence that will express itself globally as Europe jointly conquers a historic challenge. Conversely, it follows that failure could dramatically reduce Europe’s influence and unity for at least a generation to come.

PHOTO: A demonstrator hangs fake Euro notes on her leg during a protest against Spain’s bailout at La Constitucion square in Malaga, southern Spain, June 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

Dads Should Take Active Role in Family Financial Planning - Marketwatch

LEAWOOD, Kan., June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- This Father's Day, kids across the country will honor their dads with thank-you cards, finger-painted masterpieces and other homemade goodies. The holiday is a great time to celebrate fatherhood, and also presents an opportunity for fathers to reflect on their family's level of financial preparation for their children's futures.

"Raising kids comes with plenty of financial responsibility," said Brad Smith, Kansas City President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "But with some education, planning and preparation, parents can ensure a stable future for the next generation of their family."

Perhaps the most prominent concern for parents is paying for college. As the costs of college continue to rise, so does the stress on parents' pocketbooks. It's never too early to start saving for a college education, and doing so allows parents to take advantage of compounded interest. A 529 Plan for each child is a good way to do this.

A few other things for fathers to consider include disability and life insurance - for both parents. These are vital to have in the event of unforeseen health issues and can be a boon when the unexpected happens. Many companies make these policies available for a small monthly payment.

Furthermore, having a detailed will in place will ensure that assets are distributed correctly and that surviving family members receive funds as designated.

Finally, as kids age, dads should take an active role in their financial education. For instance, parents could give their kids a small allowance and help them to prioritize between spending and saving that money. Fathers should also take the time to engage kids in banking activities to teach them how things like checks and debit cards work.

"M&I salutes fathers everywhere for their sacrifices," added Smith. "We wish them and their families the best in planning and preparing for their kids' futures."

About BMO Harris BankBased in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) and M&I® are trade names used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

How Apple manager was so impressed by Steve Jobs' 'F***chop' insult he put it on his BUSINESS CARD - Daily Mail

By Graham Smith


It is hardly the most complimentary of names.

But Steve Jobs once became so exasperated with a senior Apple employee that he called him a 'f***chop' - and the executive was so pleased he put it on his business card.

Andy Grignon, a former senior business manager at the tech giant, shared a photo of his card in a post on social website Geeklist.

Strange compliment: Steve Jobs once called senior Apple employee Andy Grignon a 'f***chop' - and the executive was so pleased he put it on his business card

Strange compliment: Steve Jobs once called senior Apple employee Andy Grignon a 'f***chop' - and the executive was so pleased he put it on his business card

It states, simply: 'Andy Grignon, F**kchop, iPod'.

Just how he got approval for the extraordinary business card has also been revealed.

Mr Grignon said that his card was automatically approved after two weeks, but only because it was not explicitly rejected by a manager.

He recalled the moment he was bestowed with the dubious honour.

He said: 'In the early iChatAV days, one of the many things Steve Jobs called me was a "f***chop".

'When I got to iPod, I thought it would make a nice title.'

Mr Grignon has previously claimed that he was the first person in the world to ever receive a call from an iPhone.

Late Apple boss Mr Jobs was not renowned for pussy-footing around his employees.

Mr Grignon said that his card was automatically approved after two weeks, but only because it was not explicitly rejected by a manager

Mr Grignon said that his card was automatically approved after two weeks, but only because it was not explicitly rejected by a manager

Walter Isaacson, his authorised biographer, told 60 Minutes last year: 'He’s not warm and fuzzy... He could have been one of the world’s worst managers.'

Apple today revealed that it is creating a 3D map of the world in direct competition with Google over online maps.

The computer giant admitted to having a fleet of planes and helicopters which have been flying over major cities around the world.

It also plans to monitor iPhone owners when they drive to create live maps of traffic congestion.

The maps have a special 'flyover' feature that let users virtually fly around major cities.

'We have been flying in helicopters and planes, building up a 3D model of these places,' said Scott Forstall of Apple.

Apple's move to add 3D maps comes on the heels of Google's announcement last week that it would do the same with similar technology.

But Apple has aimed to one-up Google with its plans to use 'anonymous, real time data from iPhone users to keep traffic data up to date.'

The traffic monitoring is part of a new satellite navigation feature in the maps app.

Analysts said the decision to abandon Google Maps, which has provided mapping data for the iPhone since it was introduced in 2007, is the start of a 'mapping war'.

Financial Services Bill - BBC

Assembly members have supported a motion which will help to extend the services of credit unions in Northern Ireland, on 11 June 2012.

The legislative consent motion was tabled by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and concerned the Financial Services Bill which has been introduced in the House of Commons.

The motion sought agreement from members that the transfer of functions relating to mutual societies should be considered by the UK Parliament.

Mrs Foster said the reform of credit unions in Northern Ireland would follow the example set by recent changes to credit union regulations in Great Britain.

These allow the unions to provide a wider range of financial products, including paying interest on savings accounts, and extending membership to community groups and companies.

Enterprise committee chairman Alban Maginness of SDLP welcomed the motion calling it "timely" and "another step in the journey in permitting credit unions in Northern Ireland to expand their services to their clients in Northern Ireland".

Sinn Fein's Jennifer McCann said the assembly had been debating this issue from 2008 and so she was glad to see it moving forward.

She asked for the reform of credit unions to be progressed as soon as possible.

Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend said local credit unions played an important role for many in Northern Ireland and "it is important they are given the proper legislative framework".

Stewart Dickson of the Alliance Party acknowledged that some credit unions would find the changes "very difficult" but welcomed the protection they would bring.

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