What, me worry? We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but, hey, that seems to be the only kind of news these days. That’s probably why optimism is at an all-time low. A new survey of 805 small-business owners by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) came back with some pretty scary numbers. It seems that the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index (who knew such a thing existed?) just recorded the second lowest reading in its 35-year history. The index encompasses everything from earnings and employment to credit and capital spending. “Unless there is a solid turnaround in January, we are in for a longer-than-usual recession,” said NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg. Tell us something we don’t already know.
E.T. Phone Home: Much has been made about how Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, can significantly reduce your monthly phone bill. Well, this small business in Perth, Australia found the exact opposite to be true. That’s because criminals hacked into its internet phone system and used it to make 11,000 international calls in just 46 hours, racking up a whopping $120,000 phone bill. Ouch! Some of those calls must have been to Jupiter and Mars. The moral of the story: It’s not just your laptop that needs security software. Your phone system does too.
Stick to It. These two Canadian entrepreneurs aren’t letting themselves get chewed up by the brutal economy. They’ve started a lucrative new company, Gum Fighters, that removes wads of chewing gum from city streets. Founders Brett Murray and Marcus Shaper-Kotter invested about $15,000 in two high-end, environmentally friendly gum removal machines and are going around to restaurants, retailers and office buildings where gum is stuck to the sidewalks. Their timing couldn’t be better now that cities like San Francisco are ordering business owners to clean up sidewalk gum or face a fine. The company’s biggest job to date: 5,000 pieces of gum outside a Vancouver office building. One piece of advice for our fearless gum fighters: if you ever expand internationally, stay clear of Singapore. All their gum chewers are behind bars.
Where’d My Trillion Bucks Go? We admit it. We’re big fans of the often-shrill, always-liberal Huffington Post. Why? Because of blog posts like this claiming that the Bush administration cheated small businesses out of a trillion dollars by diverting government contracts meant for them to corporate giants around the world. Just one question: what will HuffPo rant about now that Dubya’s gone?