There seems to be a support group for so many these days¬alcoholics, food-oholics, smoke-oholics¬now there's finally one for entrepreneurs. It's an on-line community devoted to helping executives at struggling startups deal with finding an accountant, learning how to survive without a salary, etc. It's gotthebug.com (get it, got the bug?) founded by Aaron Ross, 27, CEO and founder of the San Francisco, CA-based upstart Equipment Leasing.com. Ross is considering launching a sequel site for entrepreneurs ready to call it quits¬keepthefaith.com.
JOLLY, HOLLY YULETIDE FORECAST FOR RETAILERS
Still spending far in excess of their income gains, consumers may well create a record Christmas selling season this year. In the 12 months ending with August, incomes rose 3.7 percent while spending soared 5.5 percent. And September retail sales were up 10.5 percent as compared to a year earlier.
The leaders of the retail surge were, as usual, Dayton Hudson/Target (up 6.9 percent), Wal-Mart (up 7.2 percent) for comparable stores and Costco (up 12 percent). But an even bigger gain was posted by a department store, 13.5 percent by the pricey Neiman Marcus.
EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS ONE, BUT MOST DON'T HAVE ONE
The consensus among cyber experts is: Every business needs a Web site. But three of every four small businesses are not on the Web. A survey by Gallup Organization adds that reluctance to "go cyber" stems from business-security issues and fear that a Web site will be under-used. Yet shopping on the Web is soaring, more than 1.3 billion on-line visits this holiday season, up 71 percent from last year.
Like many traditional retailers, e-commerce needs top-notch service in order to transform shoppers into buyers. Too many Web retailers, fully half of them, simply are not following up, either never responding to e-mailed customer service inquiries, taking more than five days to reply or not having an e-mail address at all.
How would you feel about creating a 150-square-foot beach in your third-floor office just to coddle employees? That's what happened at software start-up Flyswat, San Francisco, CA. Flyswat brought the outdoors inside for hard-working staffers. The beach was created using 3,000 pounds of sand trundled up to the third floor and enhanced with an umbrella, bamboo futon, banana trees, birds of paradise and a thatched gate. The only thing missing is water, but they're working on it.
AMAZON ZSHOPS TO OFFER 500,000 ITEMS
Amazon.com Inc., the leader of the cyber-commerce pack, is opening up its Web site to create a mall of small stores offering 500,000 items. Amazon will charge these merchants $9.95 a month and a small percentage of sales to have their wares listed in zShops, a new section of the on-line retailer's heavily trafficked Web site. Amazon is not the first to create a massive, multi-store on-line mall¬Yahoo!, American Online and Altavista have been operating such services for more than a year. However, Amazon offers a specialized search engine meant to locate specific goods and not just general categories.
COLLEGE DEGREES IN SALES ANSWERING DEMAND
Nowadays, the demand for those who can sell now without on-the-job training has prompted many colleges and universities to offer degrees in plain-and-simple sales, not just graduate degrees in marketing. Industry need is fueling the effort. 3M Co. has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to colleges teaching sales skills, and R.R. Donnelley & Sons reports it narrows its sales-representative recruiting effort to schools offering sales degrees including the University of Akron (Ohio), Baylor University in Texas and Ball State University in Indiana.