The Weekly Dispatch: A New Hiring Indicator, Credit in the Mail, and Obama's Big Speech

Last Updated Jan 24, 2011 5:51 PM EST

As part of The Dispatch blog, I'll be scouring the Web every Monday to find must-read news that affects you and your business, and what it really means. If you have thoughts about news for the upcoming week or other issues we should highlight, hit the comments and let me know.

And with that out of the way, here's what I'm reading this week:

1. Get ready to see a flood of credit card offers in your mailbox
Takeaway: Credit card companies are aiming their hard sell campaigns at small businesses now. Why, you ask? A good chunk of these smaller firms were exempt from some of the restrictions in the 2009 credit card reform law. So now card issuers are sending their offers for cards with high interest rates -- rates that can jump much higher with missed payments -- to small firms. But it may be a tough sell, indeed. Even though traditional bank loans are tough for small businesses to get, only a third of smaller firms are now using credit cards for financing.

2. Amazon's getting into the grocery delivery game
Takeaway: Brick and mortar stores should keep a close eye on the new venture, but no need to panic yet. Ten years ago, Amazon's Webvan -- a similar service -- launched and went bankrupt within a year. Though times have changed and more consumers are online, with gas prices on the rise and no delivery fee, the company will have to keep margins tight to make the venture work.

3. In the race to get to market, it pays to be a latecomer
Takeaway: It's not always good to be the pioneer in a whole new market, says the WSJ. Just ask Netscape, Friendster or MySpace. Taking a wait-and-see approach can be more advantageous than being first out of the gate. Not only that, improved versions of original ideas often get credited with leading the industry.

4. Four ways to run a savvy Groupon campaign
Takeaway: Working with Groupon isn't going to have you sitting on a big pile of money. In fact, if you don't do it right, you could end up giving the store away. Go into the deal prepared to haggle with Groupon on the right price point and be smart about how you limit the offer.

5. The Chevy indicator says... small business is ready to hire again
Takeaway: In December, Chevy sales to small firms grew 54 percent year over year, and the increase in capital expenditures likely means small businesses will be ready to hire in the near future.

6. The NFIB: Helping or hurting the small business lobby?
Takeaway: The Huffington Post takes the National Federation of Independent Businesses to task for prioritizing its own political agenda over the needs of small businesses. HuffPo says the NFIB resides firmly in the GOP camp -- even when it means taking positions that don't favor small companies, like dragging its heels on the Small Business Jobs Act. What do you think?

7. What small business needs to hear the President say tomorrow in the State of the Union
Takeaway: When the President delivers this big speech tomorrow night, he needs to focus on policies that will help business and the job market grow. BNET blogger and senior analyst for the Kauffman Foundation says the president needs to continue his commitment to getting rid of unnecessary regulations, make it easier for foreign-born entrepreneurs to start businesses in the U.S., and offer tax incentives for fledgling business owners.

Flickr photo courtesy of Squeaky Marmot, CC 2.0

  • Elise Craig

    Elise Craig has written for BusinessWeek, MarketWatch and washingtonpost.com. She is an alumna of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Georgetown University, and a huge fan of Hoya basketball.