Heightened market volatility should come as no surprise. This quarter’s list of explanations include some common themes, such as instability in the euro-zone, political squabbling in Washington, and concern with inflation and a slowdown in China.
The 24-hour news cycle makes one feel the markets and economy are suffering a bipolar disorder. The S&P was up +6% in the first quarter. It’s down -8.7% for the year. Gold was on a relentless climb upward, but fell $300 or -16% in three weeks during the month of September. Some say that we are on the brink of a recession, yet companies continue to report healthy results. John Paulson, the renowned hedge fund manager who made billions from the subprime mortgage crisis, is down -30% this year due to his positive bets on banks and other US stocks. S&P drops its credit rating of the U.S., then Treasuries rise.
Stepping back and trying to understand broader trends, rather than focusing on short-term movements, serves my clients best long-term interests and it’s what I prefer to do. I lay no claim to being a seer, but, guided by what the accounting profession calls the Principle of Conservatism, I have formed three convictions.
First, since we experienced a gut wrenching failure of the financial system, unlike anything seen since the ‘30s, it is going to take years for the world’s economy to reach some semblance of equilibrium. The banking sector is a mess. Deficits in the developed world are enormous. The developing world is natural resource starved and export dependent. Fear whipsaws the markets, moving back and forth between “risk on” and “risk off” trades. Remain buckled up and don’t let go of your motion sickness bag.
Second, the U.S. is the world’s leading economy in so many ways. Don’t underestimate its ability to recover. I lived through the malaise of the ‘70s. Arguably, it was far worse for reasons other than a corrupt administration, gas lines, out of control inflation, and high unemployment. It was the time of the Cold War and thousands of thermonuclear warheads were pointed our direction. Somehow, we rebounded and prospered.
A fact: in 2009, the U.S. accounted for 21% of global manufacturing, almost the same amount as in 1990. This is not obvious because advances in productivity have led to less than 10% of the workforce being employed in manufacturing versus 16% in 1990. We are home to … Continue Reading
I am writing this post not because there is any breakthough innovation here, but because it needs to be said. The world needs more hackathons.
I recently participated in my first hackathon at Hackday.tv which was an amazing experience and then more recently attended the demos for the HackNY Fall Hackathon. Two very awesome experiences that helped me realize why this post needs to be written.
Hackathons embody everything that is fantastic about the tech startup world. A bunch of people coming together, taking time out of their day, and building something awesome just for the sake of building something awesome. But there are some amazing side effects and benefits of hackathons that justify the time and energy spent organizing and participating in these events.
Editor’s note: Nasir Ali is the co-founder and CEO of Upstate Venture Connect (@UVconnect) and the founder and Executive Director of the Seed Capital Fund of CNY, a private LLC whose members are actively engaged in funding and supporting early stage tech companies. He also serves on the board of the Upstate Venture Association of New York and Chequed. Original post.
This week I had the opportunity to attend the SUNY conference on Universities as Economic Drivers: Measuring Success. It has been a little over two years since SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher took over the helm of NY’s flagship campus system and a year and a half has passed since she laid out the Power of SUNY strategic plan. My primary motivation was to gauge SUNY institutions’ progress in fostering entrepreneurship on the campus and in their surrounding communities.
The most commonly used reference to SUNY’s role in reviving NY’s economic fortunes was that of an engine. However, I left with the distinct impression that the gear is still in “Park”. Chancellor Zimpher deserves a great deal of credit for committing SUNY to this formidable task and putting a strategic plan together, but the organization as a whole needs to pick a direction to drive in, gas up, and get going.
Herewith, some advice as someone who wants to see SUNY and NY succeed:
SkillAddiction is a competitive casual gaming destination website that provides the tournament platform for players to connect and compete for cash and prizes in fun and easy-to-learn games. The website is a hybrid of a casual gaming portal, a social game, and a casino website because it has the reward of a social game, and players can win real cash and prizes playing these casual games without any sort of gambling. Since SkillAddiction’s official launch in April 2010, the community has had over 1 million tournaments played, and over $400,000 in prizes have been won by players in those tournaments. The website was built on a college-kid sized budget, and is now breaking out of its bootstrapped shell.
How do you show that your startup is moving in the market? You need to prove to potential investors that there is an increase in momentum – a ramp, or even a hockey stick shape growth curve. If your startup is web based then one of the easiest thing to look at is the traffic, and Alexa is one of the best tools out there to do this kind of analysis. It is free, provides an array of data metrics, and is updated daily. I have installed the Alexa toolbar in my browser so I can quickly get an idea of the traffic for the site that I am looking at. If I notice that the blue sider bar is not at least part of the way across – meaning almost no traffic, then I may quickly bounce away from the site.
Fortune’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” issue has been out for a quite a while. I want to emphasize that if you are contemplating starting a business or are involved in any stage of “start-up” right now, this issue should be central to your thinking as you develop human resources policies.
The best time to decide what kind of an employer your new company is going to be is before you hire your first employee, even if that employee is a relative. Make it your goal to be on Fortune’s Top 100 list. Set the tone from day one. Decide that whether or not you are able to make your employees the highest paid in their category, they can at least be the most appreciated, respected, and affirmed.
If your employees know you value them as people and for the gifts, experience and expertise they invest in your company, you will maintain a productive, loyal, and positive workforce no matter how few or how many they may be. While the mood and attitude of employees can’t ensure business success, it can greatly enhance the outlook of an otherwise well-conceived business plan, and the lack of which can spell failure, especially for a start-up.
Editor’s Note: Robert Rich III is President of ROAR Logistics, Inc., a mid-market Third Party Logistics Provider and International Freight Forwarder based in Buffalo, NY with offices in Atlanta, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Peoria, IL.
With escalating gas prices, stricter government highway safety regulations and increased demands to protect the environment, manufacturers are aggressively seeking the most efficient means for transporting products to market. Intermodal freight transportation is becoming pivotal to the transportation industry as it offers streamlined costs and important efficiencies to benefit businesses and the general public.
Intermodal transportation is the process of integrating rail and truck services to move product to market efficiently. Intermodal transportation utilizes the nations’ rail network to transport of cargo that would have otherwise moved via tractor trailer.
For many would-be entrepreneurs, there is the moment of brilliance when the product idea suddenly pops into their consciousness, but what needs to come next?
I can tell you what does follow for most entrepreneurs. They either start building the product, or start writing a formal business plan, or start searching for investors. One mistake is to develop the product in isolation without an understanding of the customer, only to discover that there are billions of people in the world and no one cares. Another mistake is to write a business that is a work of fiction for the sake of checking off the task as done. The result is an execution plan that is followed blindly when in fact, it is based wishful thinking. When I started evaluating project proposals I was taught to ignore the numbers and challenge the assumptions upon which they are based.
The real first step is to go from the first product concept to finding that viable starting point for a new business.