We bring you another small business news recap for this week. Google was in the small business news a lot, as were announcements on jobs, loans and Federal agency appointments. Here are the top small business news stories, put into perspective by the Small Business Trends Editorial Team:
- 42% of U.S. jobs in April were created by small businesses. Released Thursday, the ADP Small Business Report said small firms created 50,000 jobs out of a total of 119,000 in the job market last month. What’s more, the report showed that the biggest job creation among small businesses (accounting for 34,000) came from the smallest of the small, those employing under 20 people. And when you add in medium-sized businesses, the percentage of employment jumped to roughly 64% of non-government jobs created.
- Kabbage Inc. reports lending to home-based businesses has increased. The company, specializing in loans to small, home-run, online merchants, has paid over $200 million in annualized cash advances to more than 100,000 small business customers so far this year. That represents 298% growth in advances from 2012 to 2013, compared with an 8% decrease for SBA loans under $150,000 over the same period.
- The Bank of England and U.K. Treasury announced new incentives to increase lending to U.K. small businesses. UK. banks would get access to discounted funding making small business loans. But some commentators suggest incentives won’t do the trick. If the recent U.S. experience with incentives for small business loans is any indicator, they’re right. We explain why the U.S. and the U.K. need to address fundamental issues peculiar to small business lending, rather than just throwing incentives at banks.
- U.K. Royal Mail rates take a hike. Online merchants, especially small businesses, are now being forced to reconsider how they handle their shipping operations, according to a post at WholesaleForums. There, John Hayes writes that business owners in the U.K. need to examine different ways to manage the new rates.
- Bitcoin exchanges are risky business. The digital currency has had a lot of press in recent weeks, not to mention some wild price fluctuations. Online entrepreneurs have been attracted to a monetary system without borders or regulations, and we increasingly see online businesses accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. But a recent paper by researchers at Southern Methodist and Carnegie Mellon universities says that 45 percent of the exchanges fail.
- Google bids Meebo goodbye, to focus on Google+. Google bought the popular social sharing bar Meebo less than a year ago. But after June 6, 2013 Meebo will be no more. Google plans to focus more on Google+, including the recently launched Google+ Sign-In and Google+ plugins instead. It’s more writing on the wall: Google+ is important and your business needs a presence on it.
- New LinkedIn Contacts update. You may be thinking you already have Contacts in your LinkedIn account. But this update is something different. The new LinkedIn Contacts will let you keep track of your LinkedIn connections and your connections from your address book, calendars and emails — all in one place. There’s a standalone app, too.
- Google Drive adds chat and pictures. Google Drive features real-time collaboration on shared files and documents. But new enhancements have created a whole new feel to that process. We’ve been working with the new Google Drive collaboration this week here at Small Business Trends and share some cool new features.
- What Google Fiber means to small businesses. Provo, Utah is the third city to receive Google Fiber, a super fast Internet service offered by Google. The service provides a 1 Gigabit (100 times faster than regular broadband) connection for just a $30 hookup fee. See what this connectivity will mean to the city’s small business and startup community.
- You can use Wikidata facts too – but maybe not just yet. This new project from Wikimedia is designed to provide data that will make Wikipedia more accurate. Wikidata is also open to everyone including small businesses under a Creative Commons license, for use in apps and other purposes. But with no publicly available API, the information is still hard to access, and there’s little structured data available yet because the project is relatively new. This is “plan for the future” type of news.
- Store your smartphone and tablet files on the Verizon Cloud. Verizon offers 500 MB of free online storage so you can save your chats and call logs along with other files. Additional storage is available for a fee. The 125 GB offer is competitive with a similar offer from Dropbox of 100 GB for the same price.
- Nokia invests in camera phone technology. The company recently put money into Pelican Images, a startup that commercializes the latest camera technology. The move is apparently an attempt to compete with Apple and Android, to make Nokia smartphone cameras the best available. Small businesses that use smartphone cameras in operations, take note.
- Twitter introduces a Mac app. Twitter is rolling out enhancements for Mac users that should make the social network more engaging. Mac App will allow a user to manage multiple accounts, view multiple timelines and use some new keyboard shortcuts.
- What is Google Glass? Our latest one-page “explainer” gives you a quick tutorial on this latest technology from Google, including benefits and concerns like invasion of privacy.
- U.S. small business owners are held in high esteem. Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University, shares data showing that small businesses are esteemed in the West, especially the United States – but not so much in China and other places.
- President Obama nominated billionaire Penny Pritzker for Secretary of Commerce. We hope it’s a signal that the plan announced back in 2012 to tuck the SBA up under the Department of Commerce, along with several other agencies, is dead in the water. Merging the agencies would not help small businesses, in our view.