Small Business Snapshot: Funds Drying Up For Startups

Today's small biz headlines include bad news for startups, a free local advertising opportunity and more.
Freelance Writer and editor, Self-employed
October 14, 2011

Today’s roundup starts with the dismal news that funds are drying up for early-stage startups and includes stories about a one-stop government-funding site for clean tech companies and reasons to never ask someone to lunch.

Funds drying up for Silicon Valley startups

Gulp. Looks like the money train following tech startups of late is significantly slowing down. As Pui-Wing Tam of The Wall Street Journal reports, valuations of early stage startups have dropped recently thanks to an overload of companies asking for financing. The good news: VCs are still willing to fund some established companies. *As an extra bonus (or maybe just to confuse you), Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures responds on his blog, A VC, writing that there actually isn’t a ‘cash crunch’ at all. Hmm.

Fed opens portal to green opportunities for small business

Do you run a clean tech startup and need information on government grants? As Carmel Doyle of Ireland’sSilicon Republic writes, you’re in luck. The White House recently launched Green Government Opportunities, a site designed to help SBOs find federal opportunities for funding, licensing opportunities and information on the Navy’s green energy contracts. Yay for simplicity.

Is Tumblr right for your business?

So you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account—isn’t that enough? Not necessarily. As Jim Lodico of Social Media Examiner writes, Tumblr is another great resource to get the word out about your company. The site is a blogging platform that allows persons to ‘follow’ posts and is highly graphical. Businesses that benefit from the site range from dessert companies to non-profits. Check it out—you may attract a slew of new customers.

HopStop offers free advertising to small businesses

Talk about hyper-local marketing. Imagine a hungry customer stepping off the subway, firing up their smartphone and then seeing an ad for your cupcake shop just four blocks away. Score! As Entrepreneur’s Jason Fell writes, HopStop, a company that provides mass transit directions, is now offering 30 days of free ad impressions for New York-based small businesses geo-targeted to customers walking by. Not located in the Big Apple? Don’t worry; the app will soon be available in other northeast cities.

Never ask a busy person to lunch

There are rules when it comes to lunch/dinner/coffee/drink meetings. As Mark Suster writes on his blog Both Sides of the Table, busy people see dinners as obligations, not as pleasurable experiences. If you want to score a meeting, offer to bring coffee to the person’s office and limit the conversation to 30 minutes. They will love you for not taking up the time they could be spending with their families.

Throw a summer sale during Christmas

Yes, this may seem a little strange, but as Mike Michalowicz says on a video for Forbes, standing out (i.e. not scheduling a traditional Santa sale) will catch the attention of customers. Also, consider giving your customers gifts when they shop and offering another service inside your store (i.e. family photos while they shop for toys). Genius!

Case study: muesli company looking for more shelf space

As a little Friday treat, lets look at a small business on the path to greatness. As NPR’s Zach Seward writes, 23-year-old Ian Szalinski, founder of New York-based Muesli Fusion, is currently packaging his own product (he’s already sold 6,000 units), is looking to expand and is nervous about investing in a new product design. Good luck, Ian!