The Week in Small Business – 02.11.12

We do the legwork of finding the best in small business news and links. You have more time to do what you love.

Gas Prices Causing Chronic Pain at Pump

Any business that budgets for fuel bears a big burden these days. Higher gas prices aren’t new, but with the national average at nearly $3.50 a gallon — and approaching $4 in some parts of the country — business owners are understandably anxious. Some, on the other hand, are just plain angry. Gas prices gouging your bottom line? Check out The Frugal Entrepreneur’s seven tips for keeping costs in check.

Franchise Fallout

There are potential upsides in buying a franchise — brand recognition, the marketing muscle of a much bigger company, and so forth. But the franchise route can be tough going, too. The Wall Street Journal reports on two ongoing court cases between large franchise corporations and their franchisees and the growing divide between the two sides. In one case, some 185 Cold Stone Creamery franchisees are suing the parent corporation because they want clearer information about how the franchisor sets aside money for marketing purposes.

Small Businesses Share Big Company’s Pain

A story from Down Under highlights the sometimes symbiotic relationship a small business can have with a much larger one — for better or worse. Local businesses in a suburb of Geelong, Australia, are fretting over the fate of a nearby Alcoa plant. The site’s 600 workers, who frequent the 10 or so small businesses nearby, may soon lose their jobs. One shop, Jacinta’s Flower Shop, says there’s normally a pre-Valentine’s Day rush of Alcoa workers on their way home from the plant. This year, sales are much slower.

Old Pastime, New Technology

These aren’t your childhood batting cages. Detroit-area Virtual Baseball takes batting practice into the 21st century with video simulators that create the appearance and timing of a live pitcher throwing heat. (No word on what happens if you charge the mound.) The three-person company expects to hit around $300,000 revenue in its first year of business.

To Do: A Don’t-Do List

If you love making to-do lists for your business — or are simply getting a head-start on spring cleaningUSA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams says there are 11 things you should stop including in them. Two related ones: Spending too little time on social media, and spending too much on it.

About Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey is a regular contributor here, at InformationWeek and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @kevinrcasey.
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