NEW YORK (
) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. National Entrepreneur Month and Global Entrepreneurship Week.
This week is a busy one when it comes to celebrating our country's entrepreneurs. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama proclaimed that November was National Entrepreneurship Month and this Thursday to be National Entrepreneur Day.
The proclamation coincides with the kick off to
Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)
, which launched on Monday in 130 countries. For the fifth consecutive year, the event features a wide range of events, activities and competitions designed to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystems that are responsible for job creation and economic growth, according to the Kauffman Foundation, the organization that created GEW.
GEW "connects people through activities designed to help them acquire the skills and networks necessary to take the next step, no matter where they are along the startup spectrum," according to a press release. National campaigns in 130 countries are in full swing as more than 24,000 partner organizations hold nearly 40,000 activities, Kauffman says.
The event was kicked off the event by naming the winner to Startup Open, a competition that recognizes the year's most innovative new company. The grand prize went to Dropifi.
"The young cofounders from Ghana took the top prize for their smart widget that replaces static 'contact us' forms -- reading such things as personalities and emotions, allowing companies to better analyze incoming messages and route them accordingly," the release says.
Dropifi won an all-expenses-paid trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in March 2013 to attend one of the world's largest gatherings of startup champions, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
Biosyntia of Denmark won another GEW competition -- the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition. Biosyntia won for its work in helping chemical manufacturers move to biochemical methods while reducing costs and CO2 emissions.
Follow Global Entrepreneurship Week on Twitter at @unleashingideas.
2. Consumers are already shopping for the holidays; are you ready for them?
Every year it seems like the holiday season starts earlier and earlier. According to the
National Retail Federation
annual survey, 52.8% of Americans have already started their holiday shopping, up from 51.4% last year.
The survey polled 9,383 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGinsight from November 1-6, 2012.
"In order to win over savvy shoppers this year, retailers are well aware that their deals have to stand out, and it looks like there's plenty of people eager to get their hands on the exclusive promotions we are already seeing," said NRF CEO Matthew Shay. "With more promotions to come, gift givers will have ample opportunities this holiday season to seek out the perfect gift -- either for themselves or for others."
Shoppers plan to spend a little more too this year on their gift buying. According to a separate NRF survey, the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, up slightly from the $740.57 the average shopper actually spent last year. NRF is forecasting holiday sales to increase 4.1% to $586.1 billion.
3. How to turn a struggling franchise unit into a profitable one.
Smoothie King's Rose Kuhnau shares her experience with taking over a struggling unit in New Orleans and how she turned it into one of the brand's best. According to
, Kuhnau says there are four key points to getting a unit profitable.
Franchisees must recognize their role in the overall mission of the brand. That means continually reinvesting in the business as well as maintenance upkeep and offering strong customer service.
If you're going to make fixes, do it all at once, whether that's a new marketing strategy, new hires or renovations.
Be sure to understand the experience from the other side of the counter. "The reason units get this way is because some franchisees don't reinvest in the business. They come into work through the back door and go straight into their office. Continually experience your business from your customer's perspective," Kuhnau says.
Get operations in check. Try holding weekly meetings with managers, where staff is accountable for weekly cost of goods and labor. Look for other ways to save money and operate efficiently. "Can you lower your phone bill? What are other landscaping businesses charging? What's my retention rate? There are so many factors that can assist you in running sound operations and saving money as a result," she says.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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