Archive for March, 2014

Eni chief guilty of environmental crimes

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Paolo Scaroni to appeal three-year jail sentence and ban on holding public office for offences committed while head of Enel

Exxon expects climate targets’ miss

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Oil group says threat from rising temperatures needs to be weighed against other objectives, including the need for energy in developing countries

Exxon warns on global warming targets

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Oil group says threat from rising temperatures needs to be weighed against other objectives, including the need for energy in developing countries

Think Starting a Business in The US is Hard? Try Italy

Monday, March 31st, 2014

regulations hurt small business

If you think it’s hard to start a business here in the United States, you might just consider how hard people perceive it in other countries.  A whopping 96% of Italians say their government makes it hard to start a business. Greece, Spain and Portugal aren’t far behind — with 93%, 82% and 80% respectively saying their governments make it hard.

And what are some of the places where entrepreneurs think their government doesn’t give them such a hard time?  Try Malta, Sweden and Luxembourg.

This chart from a recent Gallup Poll says a lot about the perception of how regulations hurt small business and startups in Europe today:

Regulatory burden of European entrepreneurs

Meanwhile, back in the United States, don’t pat yourselves on the back yet.  We Americans are not immune from our own perceptions about government interference and obstacles.

There’s a strong perception among small businesses that regulations hurt them.  Citing different Gallup polls from 2013, Professor Scott Shane pointed out how small business owners perceive regulations as being a problem. And business owners — the ones who actually have to comply with regulations – see regulations as more of a hindrance than the average citizen.

Shane wrote:

“Similarly, 72 percent of small business owners said that government regulations were a problem, while only 48 percent of American adults said so.  * * *  Taxes and regulation are problematic for a larger fraction of small business owners than Americans overall.”

Favorable Impression of Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

With unemployment still high in Europe, you’d think entrepreneurship could be part of the answer.  Say the Gallup pollsters:

“While residents in most EU countries are more likely to feel the government makes it hard, rather than easy, to start a business, this perception is particularly troublesome to future growth in countries such as Greece and Spain, where unemployment is not expected to drop much lower than 26% this year. New jobs in these and several other European countries will largely need to come from the private sector after austerity measures forced some of the deepest public-sector job cuts in a generation.”

Many Europeans have a good opinion of entrepreneurs.  They believe entrepreneurs to be good role models, a Gallup Poll says.  Compare this chart to the one above:

Business owners as role models in Europe

And what about the United States?  According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, small businesses and family-owned businesses are trusted more than their larger counterparts or government in North America.   Family owned businesses are trusted by 85% and small and midsize businesses are trusted by 78%.

Bottom line: The majority of people in the United States and Europe view entrepreneurs and small businesses owners favorably.  Yet those same business owners and entrepreneurs believe their governments get in their way far too much and that regulations hurt small business and startups.

Italian Entrepreneur Photo via Shutterstock

The post Think Starting a Business in The US is Hard? Try Italy appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Still Googling Your Contacts? Nimble Says Kiss That Goodbye

Monday, March 31st, 2014

nimble smart summary

Nimble, the customer relationship management application that automatically connects social networks with other contact information, has just kicked it up a notch. The company claims you can quit Googling your contacts to find out more about them.

Nimble recently introduced a new feature called Smart Summary that company executives say accomplishes far beyond what most CRM applications can. The app uses social intelligence when compiling information about your most important contacts.

Smart Summary compiles this information on the fly assembling a user-friendly overview of important information about a contact. Now you can see at a glance what’s most important about all those to whom you are connected.

That includes details like Facebook and LinkedIn connections, Klout score, website URLs and more.

According to Alyson Stone, Director of Content Strategy at Nimble, what’s different about Smart Summary is that the profile is created automatically once you have identified a contact.

The information is pulled from publicly available sources and compiled by the Nimble app into a “dossier-type” format. While other applications may have fields where you can summarize information, you typically have to manually enter it. Or you get bits and pieces of information, without seeing a good overview of your contact. Not only does Nimble create the summary initially, Stone emphasizes, but it updates it daily to reflect changes.

What’s more, the information is “portable.” In an email conversation with Small Business Trends, Stone explained:

“…users can click the Share button next to the Title ‘Smart Summary’ and are then able to quickly email a Smart Summary dossier to anyone. This is aimed at making it easier for people to become known as ‘super connectors’ who help others meet.”

Harvesting Social Intelligence

Unlike searching for available information about contacts on Google, Nimble uses social intelligence, drawing data from social profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare and other social sites.

From these, it creates a mini-profile including experience, education, shared connections, location and more.

In addition to basic background like work experience and education, Nimble’s Smart Summary also identifies shared influential topics with your contacts based on social media activity. For example, if one of your contacts posts regularly on topics like social media or content marketing, these topics might also be listed with his or her profile.

The app uses keywords in common between the you and your contacts to help emphasize common interests and ideas. The mini-profile sits at the right side of your contact screen while the app is open.

According to Stone, the problem that Nimble’s Smart Summary is designed to solve is the overwhelm from being involved in so many social networks. These networks provide so much information that it’s hard to keep it straight. Nimble, she says, aims to address this issue by organizing the important information and helping you step back to see the forest instead of just the trees. First, it takes away the grunt work of inputting all the information manually. Then it frees you of the need to update that information regularly.

But also, Stone says, the app allows you to prioritize the information and contacts you are most interested in keeping up with. This is handled through a “Mark as Important” button that organizes your contacts based on your priorities.

Stone explained:

“Nimble offers you the choice to mark any contact as “Important.” The effect of this action is that the system will present their updates and communications to you at the top of the results. Marking someone as important is a way of keeping the most important people front and center.”

Here’s a closer look at how Nimble’s Smart Summary works:

Nimble, based in Santa Monica, California, was founded in 2009 by Jon Ferrara, who previously founded GoldMine. Nimble has more than 60,000 customers. Well over half of those are small to medium sized businesses.

Like more and more leading apps these days, Nimble offers a freemium model with a free personal plan, and a paid business plan. The company also offers a no-credit card limited free trial. Nimble integrates with over 45 other applications. They include Constant Contact, Freshbooks, Google Contacts, AWeber, Evernote, MailChimp, GoToWebinar, Salesforce, QuickBooks, Magento and Xero.

The post Still Googling Your Contacts? Nimble Says Kiss That Goodbye appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Zhou Yongkang: Downfall of a patron

Monday, March 31st, 2014

The former Politburo Standing Committee member’s network stretched from money and politics to security and oil

Downfall of a patron

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Zhou’s network stretched from money to politics, to security, to oil

Banks’ retreat empowers commodity traders

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Once-in-a-generation shift has caught the attention of regulators as groups such as Vitol and Trafigura consolidate their control over supply chains

Survive Tax Season With Shoeboxed

Monday, March 31st, 2014

shoeboxed review

Tax season strikes certain weariness into small business owners. Some say its fear, but I think it is more likely that we dread the time sink of preparing our own taxes or working with a CPA or accountant.

Enter Shoeboxed – a receipt capture and tracking service that lets you improve how you approach expenses and how you organize receipts.

Shoeboxed Review

Shoeboxed is one of the market leaders in receipt and expense management for small business owners. The concept is you can snap a simple photo with your camera or smartphone and instantly upload the receipt to the web-based service. The goal is to get that receipt out of your “shoebox.” As you upload each receipt, the service asks you how to categorize the item and creates an expense report on the fly.

There’s so much to like with this service. It really is a time-saver and a valuable service. How many receipts do you have piled up on a desktop or in a drawer or envelope? I save all of mine until tax season and then manually tally them up. Silly really, when this could save me so much time, effort, and a bit of anxiety getting all my stuff in order each year. Paid plans start at $9.95 per month.

shoeboxed review

A few minutes after uploading my first receipt screenshot, I received an email confirming that it would be processed within one business day. Your receipts will process more quickly on the paid plans, I’m sure, but you receive 50 free receipts on the forever free plan if you can deal with the slight time lag.

If you upload a bunch of receipts, you will only receive one email saying “submission received.” If the receipt is invalid, not readable, or otherwise unacceptable, the email states that they will notify you separately, otherwise, assume all is well.

shoeboxed review

What I Really Like

  • A confirmation email. Shoeboxed emails you almost immediately that your receipt is accepted and pending. The forever free account has a slight processing delay of up to one business day, but I found it was often less.
  • When you change a category, the system asks you if you want to do this for all similar receipts, as in this example, for Starbucks receipts. It will go back and change existing ones, plus it will not allow you to choose that category again (if you mark that option) in the future.
  • Bulk receipt envelopes. On the paid plans, you can simply mail Shoeboxed that stack of receipts you have been saving all year in what they refer to as a “Magic Envelope.” Pretty handy at this time of year, or a bit earlier.

shoeboxed review

What I Would Like to See:

  • An end to the misleading signup process. Let me be very clear: Shoeboxed offers a valuable service, but in the process of signing up you may click the wrong button and move into a paid option. The landing page shows a super, super simple signup – enter your email for the “forever free” plan. But then it takes you to a full signup page where you have to navigate options and hunt for that “forever free” option that appears at the very bottom of the page. I’m sure you could opt out of the paid plan easily enough, but I prefer to see all options more clearly than one buried at the bottom.
  • A direct link for Android mobile devices. The mobile link on the main site takes you to the iOS version in iTunes. You can find it by searching in Google Play and install it from there.

I mentioned Shoeboxed in a popular article titled, “7 Essential Productivity Tips – and The Tools to Achieve Them.” If you have been struggling with keeping up with your bookkeeping, this is a service you will definitely want to test.

After many years of trying to keep up – I’m now going to start actively using the service for my own financial record keeping.

Images: Shoeboxed

The post Survive Tax Season With Shoeboxed appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Bogus prophecies will not fix the climate

Monday, March 31st, 2014

We cannot let the planet get warmer and warmer but climate change demands action that goes beyond emissions, writes Richard Tol

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