NEW YORK (
) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. Bank of America severing some small businesses' credit lines.
Bank of America
is forcing some
to pay off their credit line balances all at once instead of making monthly payments, even though the lines of credit have been used by some struggling business owners throughout the recession to stay afloat, according to the
Los Angeles Times
. The troubled bank is under pressure to raise capital and cut its risk exposure.
If the customers can't pay off their credit line, they will be offered new repayment plans for as long as five years -- with jacked-up interest rates, of course. The squeeze is likely to further strain the hardest-hit small companies and even put some out of business.
The strategy comes in stark contrast to calls by politicians and small-business pundits that say banks need to lend more to the smallest of businesses to jump-start the economy.
2. "Tebowing" your small business performance.
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been the talk of NFL football this year, what with even little kids knowing who and what "Tebowing" is. Putting aside his religious beliefs, there was countless times in which the QB has been placed in impossible circumstances, only to come out on top. And there are for sure
in Tebow's performance.
"Tebow's style of play has been derided as unsustainable, tagged as downright ugly and parodied on
Saturday Night Live
. It's also been lauded by evangelicals, adopted by presidential candidates and accepted by middle America. Yet the most remarkable thing this sensation demonstrates is clutch behavior, doing your best when it's all on the line," according to
One lesson to take from the Tebow experience is having employees stick to what they do best, the article says. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
"Take stock not only of what individual resources you have and what they're good at, but of the strengths you may have in plant and machinery, intellectual property and patents, pricing, systems and financing," the article says. "Nothing wipes out a business faster than attempting to be what it isn't."
Another lesson is to lead by example to raise expectations in the organization. Tebow may not be the best quarterback, but he certainly gets an E for effort by getting "dirty and bloody, playing more like an offensive lineman than a quarterback."
The lesson to be learned is do whatever it is you ask your employees to do. Stand in when a key employee gets sick, pay vendors on time, reward exceptional performance and see how employees look to emulate and contribute for the good of the organization.
3. Fewer VC deals in 2011, but bigger loot.
Even though fewer U.S.-based
exited last year compared with 2010, the deals netted more capital in terms of M&A and initial public offerings, according to
, citing a report by
Last year there were 522 mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and IPOs that netted $53.2 billion for venture-backed companies in the U.S., a "significant" 14% drop in deal activity compared with 2010, but capital raised was up 26% in 2011, the report says.
Also, the last quarter of 2011 was the least active quarter of the year, while typically the final three months of the year is an active time for M&A. Tech companies including
contributed to the bulk of the capital raised last year by the 45 U.S. IPOs. Other notable tech IPOs included
This year, the markets will be looking toward
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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