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Gen-Yers vs. Boomers

In the battle of the generations, entrepreneur style, who would win–Boomers or Gen-Yers? According to a recent study by OPEN from American Express , it’d be a close tie. Believe it or not, both generations actually agreed on several key issues. For example, both agree the economy is strong and opening their business was a good idea. “It’s good news for the economy when both the established generation and the generation representing the future of small business are optimistic about economic growth and their own success,” says Susan Sobbott, president of OPEN from American Express.

But there are also several instances that didn’t bridge the generation gap. About 75 percent of Gen-Yers, ranging in age from 18 to 29 years old, say that ‘having fun is a priority in my business’ compared to about 66 percent of Boomers, in the age group of 42 to 64 years old. Passion was the driving force for 55 percent of Gen-Y business owners when they started their business, compared to only 40 percent of Boomers. One of the largest areas the generations couldn’t agree on is risk-taking. About 72 percent of Gen-Y entrepreneurs say they like to take risks, though only 53 percent of Boomers could say the same.

Fitness of the Future

 

Have you heard of “exergames”? How about “exertainment”? If you’re under the age of 15, chances are you’re one of the trendsetters already doing it. But adults are only just starting to become interested in this growing fitness trend . Exergame machines, also known as interactive exercise equipment, are no longer just for kids at arcades. Some machines are making their way into high-end gyms, YMCAs and sports training centers. Their appeal: They’re actually fun and don’t feel like exercise.

Some game and video makers are convinced that exergames will eventually replace traditional gym equipment. But so far, the traditional gym chains haven’t caught on to the trend. Only a handful of Bally’s have Dance Dance Revolution, a popular, high-energy dancing game in their children’s area. ClubSport, a chain based in Northern California, Oregon and Nevada, also offers video-integrated bikes. Critics say exergaming machines may seem too complex to adults who aren’t familiar with Wiis or Xboxes, and that adults will dismiss the machines as being too kid-friendly and not enough for a serious workout.

But exergames are helping schools across the country fight the growing childhood obesity epidemic. Schools are using Dance Dance Revolution in place of PE in some states and more than 1,500 schools are expected to be using the game by 2010.

 

Network at TiEcon 2007

It’s recognized as the world’s largest convention for entrepreneurs. It’s TiEcon 2007 , a two-day convention in Santa Clara, California, featuring speakers like Meg Whitman, President and CEO of eBay Inc.; Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media; and Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. The theme of the event is “The New Face of Entrepreneurship.” It will focus on the increasing number of business owners who are Boomers, Gen-Yers and mid-career women. Panels will cover topics like where VCs are investing, social entrepreneurship and Web 2.0. The Entrepreneur’s Bazaar will give entrepreneurs the chance to share one-on-one time with industry experts in the areas of venture capital, legal and finance. TiE, which stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise, is a not-for-profit network of entrepreneurs and professionals founded in 1992.

Only Happy When it Rains?

A new study at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who are always in a funk and never have anything uplifting to say could severely hamper their co-workers and office environment. A bad mood sucks the energy out of the workplace and consequently puts others in a bad mood. “We engage in emotional contagion,” said Sigal Barsade, a management professor at Wharton, who studies the influence of emotion in a workplace. “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.”

Likewise, a positive countenance spreads across an office and drives people toward good performance. Being a “glass is half full” kind of person not only benefits your health and relationships, but also enhances your ability to make decisions and handle stress. “Positive people cognitively process more efficiently and more appropriately,” Barsade said.–Jessica Chen

SBA Names Small Biz of the Year

Two sisters from Lumberton, North Carolina have been named National Small Business Persons of the Year by the SBA. Bobbie Jacobs-Ghaffar and Lesa Jacobs’ healthcare business, Native Angels Home Care and Hospice, received the award during SBA’s two-day Small Business Week 2007 conference. The sisters, both members of the Lumbee Indian Tribe, launched their business in 2000 with only one cell phone, two patients and a certified nursing assistant. Today, the company has 301 employees and serves 760 patients daily, bringing in annual sales of more than $9 million.

In selecting the winner, SBA looked at factors such as the company’s record of stability, employment and sales growth, financial condition and community service. What set this entrepreneurial duo apart? “Bobbie Jacobs-Ghaffar and Lesa Jacobs epitomize the hard work, the risk-taking and the creativity that are the characteristics of successful American entrepreneurs,” said SBA Administrator Steven C. Preston. To find out about the other award-winning entrepreneurs, go to

It’s Never Too Early to Invent

A new website and media campaign are encouraging children to use their imagination to come up with technological innovations of the future. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is working with the Advertising Council and the National Inventors Hall of Fame in launching the new initiative InventNow. The program targets kids between 8 and 11 years old. On the program’s website, children can upload their design ideas and share inventions with peers through message boards. The site also encourages young inventors to protect their ideas by learning about copyrights, trademarks and patents.

Toddlers Go Clubbing

Just because you enter the world of parenthood doesn’t necessarily mean your clubbing days are over. That’s because an increasing number of adult nightclub venues are opening their doors to parents with children under the age of 8 for special afternoon jam sessions. The trend slowly emerged several years ago with musicians like Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner, who offer groovy tunes for the whole family. Now, adult venues are catching onto the idea that Generation X parents love their children, but also want to stay hip. Clubs like World Café Live in Philadelphia and 12 Galaxies in San Francisco bring in bands with names like the Terrible Twos and the Sippy Cups to help kids and their rockin’ parents get jiggy with it.

One program that sets out to satisfy both parents and children is Baby Loves Disco, now available in 18 cities. Children enjoy the bubble machines and healthy treats, while their parents can take advantage of a fully stocked bar, a disco ball, and even massages and eyebrow shaping. As more and more twentysomethings become parents, I would imagine this trend will become even more popular. So if clubbing’s in your veins, why not tap into this market?

Airline Miles Made Easy

Frustrated by credit card airline rewards programs packed with limited flight selection and black-out dates?  Then Discover’s new Business Miles Card could work for you. The card is designed to give small-business owners the ability to earn miles faster and travel with no restrictions. With the Business Miles Card, business owners can fly on any airline at any time. In addition, business travelers can book their own travel through any travel source at any time, eliminating the hassle of redeeming credit card points.

Social Butterfly

Friday, April 13, was an especially lucky day for a select few. At the close of the day, judges from the 2007 Global Social Venture Competition declared Emeryville, California-based Revolution Foods the winner; D.light, Feed Resource Recovery and Verdacure tied for second.

The competition, which was started in 1999 by University of California-Berkeley MBA students, is open to “social ventures”–financially self-sufficient businesses with a positive social impact. Teams, which must include a graduate business student, submit business plans and are judged at several stages on criteria such as feasibility, ROI, social impact and scalability.

Revolution Foods, founded last August by Berkeley MBA graduates Kristin Richmond-Groos and Kirsten Tobey, provides healthy lunches and nutrition education to schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company has reasonable prices, employs environmentally responsible practices and offers its employees benefits and above-average pay. The founders were awarded $25,000 for their venture. The second-place winners each received $5,000.

A record 157 teams from 80 universities in 20 countries entered this year. GSVC will begin accepting entrants for the 2008 competition this fall.–Lindsay Holloway

Retailers Are Going Green

Consumers are starting to demand eco-friendly clothing, and retailers like Patagonia and REI are happy to oblige. Outdoor companies are manufacturing more and more green gear using organic and recycled materials. In the category of outdoor apparel, fibers like bamboo, hemp and soy are becoming popular alternatives to traditional cotton. Sales of organic cotton are expected to hit $2.8 billion next year, up from $583 million this year. If you’re trying to imagine how it would feel to wear bamboo clothing, it’s actually not much different from linen. And, as an added bonus, it has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients that actually prevent odor. Another up-and-coming natural product for the environmental consumer is socks made of corn. They can be found at some REI outlets and other retail shops across the country. Though they’re priced about 20 percent more than the average sock on the market, they stay drier than cotton.

But it’s not just outdoor clothing manufacturers getting in on the trend. Sustainability was a central theme of London Fashion Week, and rock-star Bono is working with his wife and a designer to create an eco-friendly line.

One-Stop Marketing Shop

If your company’s in need of some PR, but doesn’t have the budget for a full-service ad agency campaign, believe it or not, you’re in luck. The PRstore was originally launched in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2001 and has since spread to 18 states. The retail concept is geared toward assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs with their marketing, advertising and PR needs. The stores are located in casual retail settings and have a walk-in mentality. PRstore offers services like consulting and concept development, writing and producing printed materials, and creating websites, print ads and even media spots. Store owner Dan Neavitt said the store’s concept is part of a growing trend catering to business owners and consumers wanting to direct projects on their own. More than 300 stores are expected to be in operation across the country in the next five years.

Search Engine Targets Small Biz

Tomorrow, Local.com will begin offering a new service it says will help small businesses compete “with the big boys” in the online ad world. As MediaPost explains, Local.com’s new “Local Verified” service gives businesses the choice of paying an annual fee to receive top placement in its localized search results. For a premium listing with the website, businesses can expect to pay $249. Is it worth it? According to comScore, it is. The site found that almost half of consumers who visited a local search website visited a local retailer as a result of their search. And it doesn’t hurt that Local.com attracts about 10 million visitors per month.

Local.com also provides free listing services for businesses not wanting to purchase the premium services. “Local Promote Basic” is the name of its free online listing service, which allows local businesses to post and update their business’ name and contact information, even if they don’t have a website.

Social Networking Out of the Box

Think you have to be logged on to your PC to get in on social networking? Nowadays, that’s not the case. New mobile devices and online services are allowing the tech-savvy crowd to continue updating their websites, even if they’re not sitting in front of a PC. New networking sites like Twitter, Radar and Jaiku are just as addictive to the younger set as BlackBerrys are for professionals. The new technology allows sites to merge mobile phones and the internet so that users can download photos or send texts from their phone to their online channel of choice. But how will sites like these become profitable? Daniel Graf, co-founder of social networking site, Kyte, says his company may eventually charge companies to advertise on the site. He would then share revenues with the channels’ creators.

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