Piggy Bank Getting the Slops

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 1:48pm by Sandy Jones

The economy is shaking currency rates around like loose coins in a jar. With all the noise and fears in conjunction with market fluctuations and international relationships, the currency values are all over the charts. But which moneys are forecasted to do well in the future and which ones appear to be headed downhill for good?

 

Brazil and China

Although minor tensions exist between the two, Brazil has partnered with their biggest trading partner (China) in an agreement to conduct a currency swap. The deal gives their central banks the ability to exchange local currencies worth up to 60 billion reais or 190 billion yuan (equivalent to $30 billion and £19 billion). These funds can be used by the banks to boost bilateral trade, or to build up their reserves for a possible time of crisis.

China has transacted similar deals with Austraila (valued up to $31 billion), Honk Kong, and Japan. Beijing desires an altercated version of the deal, pushing for a settlement in yuan instead of US Dollars in an effort to reduce their dependency on the US dollar. This would actually benefit China’s attempt to make the yuan a global currency. However, as the BBC news reports, China’s slowing economy may be seen as a warning sign by some. According to Brazil’s Finance Minister though, China will continue to be their primary source of trading.

 

India

Financial activity in India has changed as well. Recently, the government increased by $5 billion the amount of their bonds that foreign investors can buy. Following the dramatic decline of the rupee’s value against the dollar, India has sought to increase demand for their currency. Given the 21% drop the rupee took against the dollar, the mere 0.2% increase coinciding with the announcement of higher bond availability was disappointing at best.

In the article released by Bloomberg, noted economists were complaining that the measures taken by the government were temporary and short-term. Sonal Varma, (Nomura Holdings Inc. Economist in Mumbai) put it this way: “The underlying issues of more economic reforms and cutting subsidies are still not being addressed. What has the government done to reduce the fiscal deficit and curb the current-account deficit?”

 

Australia

One of the few remaining AAA rated countries, Australia is gaining more attention for its currency value. China is also the biggest trading partner with Australia, yet even though there were worries over the slowed growth of that country, Aussie’s dollar remained steadfast. This drew the spotlight to the land down under and global banks have shown an increase in Australian dollar purchases.

Most recently, Russia’s central bank looked into the possibility of investing in the Aussie currency. They will allocate about $5 billion (equivalent to 1% of their foreign currency reserves) to Australia’s dollar-assets, including government bonds. In addition to the Russian interest, Germany also investigated the Australian monetary assets and has increased their meetings with Australia’s banks in discussing foreign-exchange strategies.

Even though it appears safer than most other currencies, Australia comes in second compared to the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc according to CNBC.com. Although it remains only a small part of the overall global forex reserves, the Aussie is capable of drawing in substantial capital inflows from portfolio and direct investment flow. While their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains relatively low, the economic growth appears quite positive compared to other countries.

 

Canada

Unfortunately, Canada is not doing quite as well as Australia or China, as pointed out by Bloomberg. In fact, the Canadian dollar dropped a total of 1.12% this month, the steepest decline since December. The decline is due in part to the decrease in retail sales – down 0.5%. Jim Flaherty, Canadian Finance Minister, made known his intentions of tightening mortgage terms to help avoid household debt crisis along with the other measures.

Buckling or Booming Businesses

Monday, June 25, 2012 at 1:36pm by Sandy Jones

Despite the challenge of an ever-changing economy, a few businesses are managing to keep afloat with strategic investments and innovative new products. However, not all companies are able to sustain growth.



Procter and Gamble

For Procter and Gamble (PG), the Euro activity and Europe crisis has exacerbated their downward slide. Since the markets slowed down and growth became stagnant overseas, PG decided to route their investments via China instead. However, as investors.com reports, they ended up lowering their sales and profit direction because the exchange rates were so unfavorable. The predicted Earnings Per Share (EPS) of 79-85 cents are only expected to reach 75-79 cents. Additionally, Organic sales growth is not projected to be 4%-5% but rather 2%-3%.

Businesswire.com continues the story noting that PG plans to prioritize its investments in the highest profit markets and largest innovations as part of their strategic approach to the coming fiscal year. The company has made it clear that they are committed to winning the fight against the odds. Part of their initiatives includes more focus, balance, and a strategic approach to wise investments. They have expressed concern over volatile variables such as commodity costs, foreign exchange, and government policies.


Walgreens

In contrast to Procter and Gamble, Walgreens announced just recently their largest quarterly dividend in company history; the previous 22.5 cents per share rose to 27.5 cents per share. Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson reportedly attributed the success to their commitments to returning cash to shareholders and staying consistent with their goals of paying out a target of 30%-35% of net earnings for long-term dividends.

This was countered by the company’s recent acquirement of nearly 50% of Alliance Boots in a strategic attempt to put a solid foot on the ground in Europe. What impact did this have on consumers you might ask? Due to uncertainty, the Wall Street Journal notes that investors bailed on Walgreen’s shares out of fears that the European gamble won’t follow through and based on the expensive price tag of $6.7 billion. However, Wasson feels confident the move will benefit the company in the long run. If things pan out the way he expects, it won’t be long before they purchase the entire Alliance Boots Company.


Starbucks

Crowned-king of coffee, Starbucks decided to take on a new flavor of business in an innovative endeavor to create a tea-only shop featuring the Tazo brand. Unlike the typical coffee shops, this store allows customers to choose from over 80 varieties of tea and pay for it by the ounce. CNN shares that the location of the store will be in Seattle’s University Village, nearby the company’s headquarters.

Tazo as a brand has been quite successful, especially since Starbucks purchased them back in 1999. Having paid $8.1 million for the tea company, Starbucks has increased the brand’s value to $1.4 billion. Depending on the success of the first shop, Starbucks may continue to build more in the future. However, the company is currently more focused on bolstering the Tazo brand at the moment.

Starbucks is stirring up excitement in Costa Rica too. Daily Finance reports about the recently opened location in San Jose that offers the complete range of beverages to the Latin American coffee consumers. Starbucks has a history with Costa Rica, but although they import beans from the country, this will be the first store located there. In addition to the coffee shop expansions, Starbucks also added a Farmers Support Center in Colombia and plans to open one in China as well in the coming year. Over the next three years, the coffee-king will team up with a joint-venture partner and open 300 new stores in Mexico and Argentina.


Burger King

The New York Stock Exchange welcomes back Burger King (BK) to the public market through a complicated deal the fast food franchise struck in April (rather than a public offering, the chain sold a minority stake to Justice Holdings Ltd.). Burger King modestly offered 16% of their shares to investors and according to Business Week the shares are on the rise. 3G Capital, who controls 71% of BK’s stock, will hang onto that claim for at least the next six months. Burger King also seeks to expand their business overseas, in Russia and China specifically over the next few years.

Speaking of innovations, Burger King just announced a bacon sundae as one of the limited time offers of summer delights on their menu. The NY Daily News gives us the delicious scoop on this frozen salty-sweet treat. Made with soft serve vanilla ice cream, topped with fudge and caramel sauce, bacon crumbles, and accented with a strip of bacon, it’s not surprising the dessert clocks in at 510 calories. Between the 18 grams of fat and the 61 grams of sugar, this treat is sure to give anyone a heart-attack. Thanks to the recent additions of fruit smoothies, wraps, and new salads, at least there are plenty of alternatives for health-conscious consumers.

It seems successful businesses are strategically planting their feet globally to provide added stability and making safe investments to secure their future despite whatever economic changes come their way. Innovation also plays a key role in determining the success and survival of a business.

Providing for the Future of our Children

Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:25pm by Sandy Jones

In America, we want it all. We want the career, the family, and the fabulous life. However, in pursuit of our dreams there are going to be areas that suffer while others prosper. Now that most families have both parents working full time, there is a higher demand for children to be in day care. This shift from stay-at-home parents to working parents has pushed a higher need for child care providers to help a child grow during their fundamental learning years. Since there is a demand for workers, there is also a demand for more child care centers. Being able to start your own business providing child care could be just the change you are looking for in your life.

 

Basics of Starting a Business

Nothing in life is certain, and starting a new business could be one of scariest things that you will ever do. However, sometimes the biggest risks yield the highest gain. If you believe that you have what it takes to start a business, you will want to start right away. One of the first things that you should do is research what style day care you would like to own. Some people would like to have their own business; some will prefer to work from the comfort of their own home. Only you can decide which option will work best with your personality. There are several other steps that you will need to go through but it’s important to start with a few basics.

  • Learn Your State Requirements: Every state is different, and there will be different requirements that you are required to meet before you can be a licensed child care provider. Most states will require you to have some sort of degree and experience in the field. Some states will also require that applicants have child care accreditations. The two main child care accreditations that states look at are the Child Development Associate (CDA) and the Child Care Professional (CCP). Once you have received these you can contact your state and find out the next step in obtaining your license.
  • Find Funding: Dreams of starting a business are great, but you are going to need a way to pay for those dreams. Unless you just inherited some money, chances are that you will be starting from scratch. You will still be able to find funding. There are grants and loans available through the government. Your access to this money will depend on what type of center you want to own. There are other avenues as well. A person wishing to receive funding can look into bank loans, obtain venture capital, ask family and friends for help, or seek help from other businesses. When you go to ask for money you will want to make sure that you have a solid business plan in place that will detail every vision that you have for your center.

 

What Parents are Looking For

To understand the best way to operate your child care facility is to understand what parents will be looking for in a center and how to handle different types of children. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that these parents trust you with their children and are expecting that you provide a safe, educational, and fun environment for their child while they are working. One major requirement is that you and your potential staff understand the fundamentals of early childhood education. Classes can be taken at a local university or are provided by your state. Often times you are expected to continue training continuously so that you are current on all techniques. Another important thing that parents look for is safety. Many states will require that all providers are CPR certified and that each center is inspected regularly. You can also consider calming parental fears by having a security system in place that will allow them to see what has happened in their child’s day. One final aspect that parents will be really interested in is your curriculum. Will their child continue to develop in your care? Will they be able to have fun? Will all their fundamental needs be met?

 

Your Next Move

Now that you have decided that you want to proceed and pursue your dream of being a child care owner, it is important to get started. By understanding that it will be hard work to get your center off the ground, you will be mentally prepared for the road ahead. Find people that have been in your shoes before and ask them about what worked for them and what didn’t. This will help you learn what mistakes not to make and how you will want to operate your own facility. Once you have this understanding you will be able to have a particular niche developed. Your personal niche is what you will use to promote your center and help find clients that will work well within your educational environment.

Comments (0) | Filed under: News

7 Businesses That Failed at Twitter

Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 9:13pm by Sandy Jones

The social media revolution has become an integral component of businesses worldwide. However, some businesses may not entirely grasp how they can most effectively use social media to promote their brand. Occasionally, a Twitter or Facebook campaign intended for marketing value goes horribly wrong. Sometimes this is as a result of third party interferences, while other social media flops are merely due to poorly thought out decisions. Either way, Twitter has proven itself as a powerful force behind both negative and positive publicity for a company.

  1. @Sweden

    Prompted by a government initiative, the Swedish Institute and Visit Sweden, two tourism companies in Sweden, hired the advertising company Volontaire to think up a way that Sweden could promote their country to the world. The result was @Sweden, which enlisted a different Swede each week to represent the country’s personal Twitter account. The Twitter handle has been passed down to a variety of selected Swedes, with ages ranging from 18 to 60 years old, and they must meet a few, simple criteria — be interesting, Twitter-literate, and post in English. However, once the account was passed down to Sonja Abrahamsson, the ambitious PR stunt backfired. Abrahamsson, a 27-year-old mother of two, immediately began posting anti-Semitic and otherwise lewd comments that quickly drew public attention and disgust. "Once I asked a co-worker what a jew is. He was ‘part jew’, whatever that means," Abrahamsson wrote, among many other musings on Jewish culture, "He’s like ‘uuuuh… jews are.. uh.. well educated..?’" While the rest of the world saw the faux pas as an embarrassment for Sweden at large, the Swedish government stuck to their original initiative and did not censor any comments.

  2. #Mcdstories

    When McDonald’s began a Twitter campaign using paid-for Tweets that appear at the top of search engines, it nudged the discussion of their brand using hashtags. The first hashtag, "#MeetTheFarmers," did not instigate much discussion, given that most McDonald’s eaters couldn’t care less about the farming process behind a Happy Meal. However, when McDonald’s issued a comment under the hashtag "#McDStories," comments blew up, and not all of them were exactly positive. One user tweeted, "I ate a @McDonalds cheeseburger a few years ago and got food poisoning so bad that I had to get hospitalized. That is my #mcdstories." Another countered with, "Eating a Quarter Pounder value meal makes me feel exactly the same as an hour of violent weeping. #McDStories." McDonald’s social media director Rick Wion immediately set forth to stop the negative publicity by pulling the #McDStories hashtag off of the trending list. However, McDonald’s still bore the scar of about 1,456 Tweets with sarcastic, horrific, and otherwise negative comments under the #McDStories hashtag.

  3. #CamryEffect

    In an effort to create a marketing campaign based around the new Camry being promoted via Superbowl commercials, Toyota created nine accounts — @CamryEffect1 through @CamryEffect9 — that would send promotional messages to anyone tweeting about the Superbowl at large. The tweets encouraged users to enter a contest to win a new Camry. However, instead of creating a buzz, the unsolicited messages were seen as spam and hastily received criticism from Twitter users everywhere. Users were also angry that Twitter verified nine different accounts for Toyota’s usage, and ensuing backlash prompted Twitter to suspend the accounts immediately, ending the failed campaign in its tracks. One user posted, "Does having a verified @Twitter account give @Toyota / @CamryEffect7 the right to spam people? #socialmediafail." Embarrassed, Toyota issued an apology via Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager Kimberley Gardiner shortly thereafter.

  4. #Amazonfail

    Amazon infuriated customers when it removed the sales rankings of many books with homosexual content due to the fact that they were supposedly all intended for mature audiences. When the sales rankings of a book are removed, they are no longer able to appear on the best seller list. They also may be tricky to search for. As a result, books like The Mayor Of Castro Street: The Life And Times Of Harvey Milk were difficult to find even though they are clearly not erotica, simply because there are gay and lesbian themes present. In response, Twitter became ablaze with conversation about the stint with each comment appearing alongside "#amazonfail." Amazon backpedaled, blaming the issue on a "software glitch," but its incensed customers sought to punish the company by degrading it on social media platforms. Finally, Amazon released a formal apology, noting that the problem applied to a multitude of book genres, and not just those with gay and lesbian themes, including health, mind and body, reproductive and sexual medicine, and erotica. Yet, the damage was done, and if you search for #amazonfail on their Twitter feed, you can still see a couple pages of the drama.

  5. @ChryslerAutos

    A foul-mouthed employee with his hands on the company Twitter handle made Chrysler look like a bit of a jerk when he posted the tweet, "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f***ing drive." The tweet was immediately sent to the feeds of more than 7,000 followers, many of whom retweeted the statement. Chrysler quickly removed the comment and tweeted, "Our apologies – our account was compromised earlier today. We are taking steps to resolve it." The account, operated by social media company New Media Strategies, was initially thought to have been mistaken for a personal account. However, Chrysler expanded on the issue with an in-depth blog post, revealing that the rogue tweeter was actually a disgruntled employee from NMS, and noted that the employee had been terminated. Many felt that the matter wasn’t dealt with very gracefully, especially given that Chrysler had outed themselves as using a separate company to deal with social media when social media platforms are mainly intended to make people feel more personally acquainted with a brand.

  6. @HabitatUK

    Habitat, a home furnishings store, blatantly abused the power of social media by using popular, trending hashtags to promote their brand. The spammy posts were made using not only hashtag topics like "#iPhone" that they knew would have a powerful social media presence, but also tasteless topics concerning the situation in Iran. The result did not gain them more followers, but merely alienated people who did not wish for their feeds to contain misleading hashtag comments. It also effectively showed their customers that they didn’t understand how Twitter works, or didn’t care that their methods for gaining exposure were unethical. The tweets were deleted and Habitat apologized, stating that the tweets were not authorized by the company and were not consistent with their social media strategies. They also addressed a number of tweets that postulated that Habitat was using a third party to deliver tweets to the Twitter community by stating, "In response to speculation, we would like to clarify the hashtags were not uploaded by an agency."

  7. Skittles

    Skittles attempted a social media campaign that turned their entire website into a live feed, combining Skittles’ Twitter, Facebook, YouTube Channel, Wikipedia entry, and photos on Flickr that were tagged as being candy wrappers. The idea was that people would actively discuss Skittles on any of these platforms and it would show up on the website’s main page, providing more incentive for Skittles-related conversation. Instead, the website’s main page became a breeding ground for profane comments and generally unrelated content. Other companies even used Skittles’ page to advertise their own work, taking advantage of anyone else browsing Skittles’ website. Ben Weisman, a marketing expert for the Iris agency which put together Skittles’ website noted that, "Skittles, or any other brand, has to be ready to accept the users’ positive and negative comments." While that may be true, it’s probably not necessary to openly invite negative press via immature Twitter enthusiasts.

Comments (0) | Filed under: Marketing

8 Sites Every Small Business Owner Should Bookmark

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 2:32pm by Sandy Jones

A small business owner juggles many things a day, such as making sure the business is running smoothly, optimizing an online presence, redesigning a webpage, and making big decisions on the fly. Luckily, there are many invaluable resources out there for small businesses, which will guide you through anything from getting your business idea off the ground, to finding ways advertise for free, to designing a corporate website. Here are some websites that are great bookmarks for every small business owner, entrepreneur, or business professional.

  1. Entrepreneur.com

    Celebrating entrepreneurs since 1973, this online magazine is a great resource to consult to help build and grow your business. You’ll find topics on innovative business practices, tips on new tools and business technologies to optimize business procedures, and answers to any legal or financial questions. The site caters to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are trying to get their businesses to a new level. It’s a resource worth bookmarking when you need inspiration, how-to, or just want to read about creative business ideas.

  2. Smallbiztrends.com

    An award-winning online publication for small business owners, this resource provides business information, tips, and advice while also keeping you up-to-date on the latest trends and news for your business. With more than 200 freelance writers and guest experts, you’ll surely learn new ways to improve your business. Reaching four million readers annually, the site is quoted regularly in media and is a well-known entrepreneurship platform for discussion and curating new business ideas.

  3. StartupNation.com

    A free service founded by leading entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, this site is a leading online resource dedicated to helping small businesses grow and network. With expert blogs, member-to-member networking, helpful forums, and step-by-step advice, it seeks to be a comprehensive source for entrepreneurial success.

  4. Inc.com

    In 2012, Inc. Magazine won an ASME magazine award for General Excellence. It strives to provide everything you need to know to start and grow your business. Covering sales, marketing, technology, management, and financial advice, it pro provocative articles gathered from the web, as well as original content. You’ll find videos, hottest stories from LinkedIn, interviews with leading executives, and even in depth tutorials on writing a business plan and implementing new marketing strategies.

  5. Business.USA.gov

    On October 28, 2011, the President challenged government agencies to go beyond their organizational boundaries and help America’s business community in a new way: providing a "no wrong door" medium where small businesses and exporters could quickly connect to services and information relevant to them, regardless of where the information is located, anywhere in the world. Federal agencies added their resources onto BusinessUSA, consolidating information onto the site, which helps reduce confusion and simplifies the format. Put in simple terms, the website is a collection of inputs from federal agencies that are committed to helping business owners succeed. Though it is still in its beta format, in the coming weeks, it would be an invaluable resource for anyone looking for reliable business-related information.

  6. BusinessWeek

    News, data charts, advice, analytics, 24-hour support, and around the clock updates are all provided by BusinessWeek. The publication was awarded The Arts & Business Innovation Award and has nearly 310,000 professional service subscriptions. With a radio broadcast, in depth articles, stock market analysis, and even a live television channel, the company behind BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, is a great source for any business professional. You’ll find stories on politics and policy, global economic trends, and a special section dedicated to small businesses. Slideshows, multi-media channels, charts, and photo essays also help condense vast amounts of information into a better visual interpretation.

  7. Forbes

    One of the best business news sources in the world, the magazine and online publication is available in many countries, providing not only small businesses but large corporation business executives with real-time reporting, unbiased commentary, expert analysis, and investing advice.

  8. Fortune

    An affiliated publication of CNN Money, Fortune is the online home that serves as CNN’s exclusive business site. It covers personal finance, retirement advice, small business articles, and analysis of today’s most current markets and technologies. It also provides helpful market data alerts, widgets, calculators, and videos to help you grow your business in all aspects.

 

Couch Potatoes Wanted

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 2:36pm by Sandy Jones

What is your favorite part of your job? The fact that you have an awesome coffee machine? What about the fact that you only have to work three days a week? There can be many benefits of your job depending on where you work. As we struggle to bring down our national unemployment rates, those with jobs often find themselves feeling lucky that they just have a job. Still, there can be pains in having a job. Do you have to commute over an hour both ways each day? Wouldn’t it be nice if some jobs would allow you the option of working from home? Well couch potatoes unite; there are now more options for you to work in the comfort of your fuzzy pajamas.

The Love for Couch Potatoes

Who wouldn’t love to work at home and still get paid? With this concept you could carry a full time job and still have more time to spend with the family. If you have to commute, you would save money on the travel. You could set your own hours and be within the comforts of your own home. Long gone are the days when working from home were just from self-employed workers. Many corporations and businesses are allowing their employees the option to work from home. This privilege can be on occasion or even every day. By working from home you are still contributing to a business without having to be present all of the time.

 

The Advantages of Staying in Your Pajamas

So now that you are hooked on the idea of working from home, it is time to sweeten the deal. There are many advantages for you and your employer if you are working from home.

  • Advantages for the Company: Obviously if you work for a company, they care about their cost and bottom line. So though it may seem like they are doing you a great favor by allowing you to work from home, you can bet there is a reason that benefits them as well. One of the main reasons is that it cuts down on needed office space. If you have a huge company and half of them work from home, then you really only need room for those that are physically in the building. Another great reason that employers are willing to keep you at home is that their attendance and retention rates will be higher. You would have to be really sick to not be able to at least curl up in bed and work. You will also have higher desire to stay with the company longer.
  • Advantages for You: So what is in it for you? Well for one you will save money. Who doesn’t love that? You will not have to commute, you won’t have to pay for as much child care, and you will even save on food because you will be able to eat at home more. Not to mention you will have more time to hang out with your family, as opposed to sitting in traffic.

 

The Disadvantages of Channel Surfing

As you have learned, every good thing has the potential to have something negative attached to it. It is unfortunate fact in life and even laying on the couch all day can have a downside.

  • Disadvantages for the Company: One of the biggest risks a company will take in allowing you to work from home is the potential that you will slack on your work. Who seriously wants to work when their favorite show is on? Employees will also lack the human interaction that they could have with fellow employees. In the digital age we communicate mainly through text and email, but how many times have you misread the tone of something. There could be unnecessary conflict between employees that can only be solved by social interaction.
  • Disadvantages for You: Still not really seeing the possibility of there being disadvantages for you personally? Well there are many that can occur. For one, there is the possibility of your personal life affecting your work. When you are at home all the time, you will be plugged in more to your responsibilities at home and your work could begin to suffer. Another issue is that your health could suffer. If you don’t make time to take care of your health and your body, then you will begin to stay in the house more and more and find it hard to leave.
Comments (0) | Filed under: Advice

7 Major Companies With Pet-Friendly Offices

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 1:55pm by Sandy Jones

When American Pet Products Association conducted its 2008 survey, it found that 17 percent of U.S. businesses were pet-friendly. Having man’s best friend in the office can do wonders for mood, keeping employees in good spirits, and helps employees bringing their dogs to remember to get up and walk around every once in a while. Likewise, an employee with a pet that would otherwise have to rush home at five PM to let the dog out could stay late working with Fido in tow, increasing productivity. Whether you agree to letting your pup into your cubicle or not, the following seven companies have outrageously lax pet policies, enabling co-workers to sport their furry friends during their nine to fives.

 

  1. Amazon

    Amazon is touted as one of the best dog-friendly companies to work for, thanks to a corgi named Rufus. Rufus was the former editor-in-chief and principal engineer’s dog, and was lovingly brought to work every day in Amazon’s early stages. Rufus pretty much had free reign, playing fetch in the halls, sitting in on meetings, and accepting treats from Amazon’s employees. And while Rufus passed away in 2009, Amazon corporate will forever have a dog-friendly work culture which employees and their four-legged friends can enjoy.

  2. Google

    Google is known for all kinds of work perks, from in-office haircuts to having your oil changed while your car sits in the parking lot during the day, but its dog-friendly policies are among the best benefits of working at Google. The lengthy description that once existed on Google’s policy page has now been reduced to a stub, but with a little digging, you can find the old pet policy in its entirety on Celebrity Dog Watcher. In essence, the policy notes that dogs enhance people’s lives, so they should also serve to enhance people’s work life. The policy is hinged on a few rules, such as only bringing in unaggressive dogs, respecting those with allergies, and gaining permission from your supervisor beforehand, but Google is generally pretty relaxed about bringing canine companions to work. Why Google removed the extensive pet policy from its website is a mystery, but it may be due to the fact that each Google office around the country has slightly varying policies concerning pets.

  3. Zynga

    When Zynga found that its dog-friendly work culture resulted in an overabundance of dogs running around the offices, they didn’t remove the perk from company policy. Instead, they moved to a larger building where they could build a dog run on the roof, thus allowing the pups to better exert their energy. Zynga, the company that brought you "Words with Friends" and "Castleville," was named after founder Mark Pincus’s bulldog. The logo for Zynga also takes the shape of a bulldog, standing attentively. Zynga has taken the initiative to help out the SPCA as well. On their game "YoVille", players can virtually adopt a dog wearing the SPCA vest, resulting in a $2 donation to the organization. As of spring 2009, players have raised upwards of $90,000, helping cover the costs of caring for hundreds of homeless cats and dogs.

  4. Ben & Jerry’s

    Ben & Jerry’s makes some of America’s tastiest and most unusual ice cream flavors. It is also a dog-friendly company. If you navigate to the workplace report on Ben & Jerry’s website, you’ll spot a little gem among the workplace benefits. "Employees at the Central Support office in South Burlington also have an onsite workout facility and a dog-friendly workplace," it reads. According to TheBark.Com, Ben & Jerry’s corporate dog policy began with its graphic designer Sarah Lee Terrat, who began bringing her dog in when she worked late. Over time, other employees brought their dogs while working at night, and that evolved into employees bringing their dogs during the regular work day. The company’s corporate headquarters in South Burlington currently houses 15 to 20 dogs, forcing hard workers like Terrat to take occasional and much-needed breaks throughout the day to let her pooch relieve himself outside.

  5. Sweet Leaf Tea Co.

    The quirky Texas-based tea company with a granny as its logo is remarkably dog-friendly, with two to three dogs parading the office every day. On their blog, an employee writes that "We used to have more [dogs], but they played too hard and caused a ruckus. Now we have a doggie schedule for each week." With a rotating schedule, each employee dog gets its game time at the offices, boosting employee morale and acting as excellent cuddle buddies for snuggle breaks throughout the day. All of the office dogs are profiled on Sweet Leaf’s blog, so the company gives them a substantial amount of love.

  6. QSI Corporation

    QSI Corporation, a subsector of Beijer Electronics, creates industrial and vehicle terminals in Salt Lake City, Utah. With 50 years of hardware and software design and manufacturing experience, QSI tests its products to be able to withstand temperature extremes, humidity, thermal shock, and wind-blown rain tests, among other tests to determine how hardy the equipment is. This company also has a love for dogs. Over 15 different dogs can be seen in and out of the offices each day, keeping the QSI staff company. The late Bushka’s picture remains on the website with the description "The first QSI dog. She’s the one who started it all."

  7. The Honest Kitchen

    The Honest Kitchen is a pet food company based in San Diego, California. Naturally, the company needs four-legged friends to test its product on, so it is a decidedly pet-friendly office. It was also named one of America’s Best Places to Work in 2011′s issue of Outside Magazine. As an organic, holistic pet food company, Honest Kitchen also offers its employees a corporate membership to a nearby fitness center with access to group yoga, pilates and cardio classes, encouraging healthy living even in its staff. There are also in-office showering facilities and kitchens. Honest Kitchen offers excellent pet benefits, including free annual pet checkups, free Honest Kitchen pet food and treats, and the ability to take daily group walking breaks around San Diego with your office pet. They often make company-wide trips to Fiesta Island and OB Dog Beach, two local, dog-friendly beaches.

Comments (0) | Filed under: Fun

The Dow Jones Pendulum Swings Again

Monday, June 11, 2012 at 2:49pm by Sandy Jones

If you have been following the stock market lately, you have probably noticed that it can be very hard to keep up. Our economy is ever-changing and the stock market is greatly affected. The Dow Jones is probably one of the most popular industrial averages that people use. The question remains, who actually understands what it means? With a little bit of background information it is easier to understand the changes that have been occurring lately with businesses and the Dow.

 

 

What Has Been Happening?

The Dow was created by Charles Dow and was officially launched in 1896 comprised of 12 companies. The method that was originally used to calculate the prices is a little more complicated these days. Now the Dow will also look at stock splits, and other actions like mergers and acquisitions. The Dow has also expanded its portfolio to include more than 30 companies. Lately, stock markets around the world have been suffering as different countries are struggling financially. Due to the fluctuations and foreign concerns, the fluctuations have been very visible in the stocks.

Recently, reports have shown some light at the end of the tunnel for the European debt crisis and there was talk that officials could soon reach a solution for many of the countries. Ever since May there has been a drop in the stock market because of the growing concerns. The main focus has been on if Spain would need a bailout or not. Additionally, since Greece is still struggling and now possibly withdrawing from the euro currency union, it is hard to have faith in financial markets. Though there are still things to work out, there is hope. Even the Federal Reserve has talked recently about the possibility of buying more bonds in an effort to boost the American economy. These positive affirmations led to the Dow closing at its highest day of 2012 on June 6. Now that the Dow is rising, can these be a sign of more growth to come?

 

Signs of a Turn Around?

Since the dramatic rise, people are wondering if they can expect to see the stock market continue to rise. Economists believe that in order for this new trend to continue, there will still need to be additional work done in the foreign market. It is imperative that Europe learns a lesson or two from China. With news that the Chinese economy could soon see a slowing of growth, the People’s Bank of China lowered its interest rates. This is the first time since 2008 that it has lowered rates. China’s quick thinking and pressure from the U.S. to make sure that it’s not affected by China’s crisis could possibly give Europe the push it needs to help its troubled countries.

 

Can it Continue?

There is no way to know for sure if these current gains can continue. There are real economic problems that are occurring globally that will need to be handled properly in order for this streak to continue. As with most solutions, there is no easy fix. These global problems will have to be handled in small, precise increments to insure that they are handling the problem effectively. If they can be corrected then there might be continual stock gains. Until then, it is safe to say that though things look great now, we can expect more fluctuations in the future.

Comments (0) | Filed under: News

Oiling the Gears For Market Recovery

Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 2:48pm by Sandy Jones

If it seems like the numbers at the pump are getting lower every day, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. They really are declining overnight. In fact, gas prices have dropped a penny every day for the last 19 consecutive days. Although drivers are excited about the cheaper fuel, the decline indicates several factors that are not necessarily positive. There are five facets that give us a better picture of exactly what lower prices mean.

 

Gas Prices Dropping Nationwide

First of all, it is important to recognize that the drop in oil prices has occurred nationwide. This is not a region or area-specific instance. USA Today reports that in South Carolina, the cost per gallon is down to below $3. In California, the other side of the nation, prices are as low as $4.31 a gallon. Overall the reported average for regular gasoline fell to $3.61.

Furthermore, experts predict that by Labor Day, these numbers could get even lower — possibly reaching $3.40. In comparison, Bloomberg notes that this is nearly 40 cents lower than what the national average was almost exactly four years ago prior to the elections, when the national average topped $4 a gallon.

 

Sign of Weaker Economy

According to the Fortune column of CNN, the decline in price-per-gallon comes attached to a weaker economy both here in the United States as well as around the globe. The drama in Greece over its economy as well as China’s slowing manufacturing activity reduced the demand for oil around the world. The hope concerning the impact of cheaper fuel is that economic activity is encouraged among consumers who save on filling up the tank. However, this stimulation is hampered somewhat by two major factors.

 

Job Market vs. Housing Market

Unemployment rose to 8.2% according to USA Today as only 69,000 jobs were added in May, marking the fewest in a year. The percentage point spike caused the Dow Jones to lose 100 points just minutes after the released report. This doesn’t even take underemployment rate into consideration. That number includes job-seekers who gave up the hunt from discouragement in addition to those who are working part-time and want to be employed full time; that rate went up three-tenths of a percent from 14.5% to 14.8%.

At least the housing market seems to be starting down the road of recovery. Despite the lack of jobs, the overabundance of homes is slowly being filled as people resume renting and buying. Sellers are getting smarter and investing in repairs and practical improvements to their houses and many owners are refinancing to lower mortgage rates so they can afford to keep their house and prevent foreclosure. If the job market doesn’t recover soon though, the housing market may be headed for another downhill slide.

 

Political Implications

With all the changes in the economy and the reduction of oil cost, you would think that the presidential elections would be at least partially impacted. But surprisingly, Bloomberg disproves this theory by pointing out that the approval ratings for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have seen little adjustment.

Hovering around 46 and 47%, Obama’s approval rating has hardly budged over the last few months. It did drop a percentage point to 45% following the latest report on the job market though. It would seem that Americans are less wooed by cheaper gas than they are disappointed in the lack of jobs.

 

Economic Activity Generated

When considering the impact of gas prices on consumer spending, the hope is that the lower cost of fuel will boost economic activity. However, despite the decline so far, money is not nearly as readily handed around as we expected.

Fox News recently highlighted the effect cheaper gas had on Memorial Day travels; an estimated 30.7 million Americans hit the road, driving more than 50 miles per person on average for the holiday weekend. That number is up 400,000 from last year and is solely attributed to lower gas prices and good weather. Despite the increase in traveling, drivers still cut back on the distance they traveled. Half of the survey respondents said they would travel less than 400 miles.

Although travel is the primary area of the economy that is impacted by lower fuel costs, retail stores and smaller businesses hope to be positively affected over the summer by consumer savings being redirected their way. In a best case scenario, the activity boost will spur additional trust and investments by consumers to help the recovery get back on track.

Comments (0) | Filed under: News

The Evolution of American Currency in 20 Pictures

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 8:42pm by Sandy Jones

You probably come into contact or use money almost every day of your life, but have you ever wondered how American currency came to be what it is today? Our money has gone through centuries of evolution in order to get to where it is now. Whether it’s the size, shape, color, or value, numerous changes have occurred throughout the years and the government still continues to make changes even today. Let’s take a look back at the evolution of American currency and how it got to what we now carry in our wallets.

 

 

Comments (0) | Filed under: Cash Flow, Fun
Next Page »