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May 10, 2012

Smartcompany News and Analysis: Fashion retailers shut down cheap overseas online sales, Abbott tips red tape cuts, The great Zuckerberg hoodie debate, Why mums are crucial to SMEs

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It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday and, in Entrepreneur Watch, James Thomson pays tribute to the women who are so often the rock upon which an entrepreneur’s support network is built – and he suggests three Mum Tests that can help guide your business.

We also look at moves by fashion importers to block brands offering cheaper prices to Australians through overseas websites, examine Tony Abbott’s budget reply speech and ask Aunty B to weigh in on the great debate surrounding Mark Zuckerberg: Is a hoodie appropriate business attire?

How I
How I made a rundown property business viable
When Matt Buchel took over Tropical Lifestyle, it was rundown. Here’s how he made it a $7 million business. BY PATRICK STAFFORD.

Advertising and Marketing
MARKETING STRATEGIES: Generating growth opportunities
Optimising lead generation is a priority for high-growth firms that is too often overlooked. Here are some key ways to generate leads for your company. BY TOM McKASKILL.

Aunty B
Why can’t I get results from a staff member in a remote location?
To borrow an old cliché, the problem isn’t you, it’s her. That being said, there is a solution.
Aunty B

Selling strategies
Trent Leyshan
A good salesperson does not take a combative approach to customers.
Ask the Experts

Property Investor
Michael Yardney
The sooner you banish the myths about wealth creation, the sooner you can take the path to financial freedom.
Smart Blogs

Female Entrepreneur
Naomi Simson
All sorts of facts and figures and bits and bobs were bandied about at an eCommerce roundtable I attended this week.
Smart Blogs

Change Maker
Colin Benjamin
Here are the 10 things you need to know about how your business can deal with the radically changing business world.
Smart Blogs

Entrepreneur Watch
James Thomson
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s worth thinking about how your mum can help guide your

The Economist | Politics this week: Highlights of news corerage from May 5th - 11th, 2012

The Economist

» François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, won France's presidential election, beating Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right incumbent, by 51.6% to 48.4%. He will be inaugurated on May 15th; a day later he will travel to Berlin to meet with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Top of the agenda will be the German-backed "fiscal compact", which the Frenchman has threatened to scupper if it is not accompanied by growth-promoting measures. See article»
» The success of fringe anti-austerity parties in Greece's general election made it impossible to form a coalition government. New elections will probably be held in June. The stockmarket tumbled, and many analysts concluded that the chances of Greece leaving the euro were rising. See article»
» In the first round of municipal elections in parts of Italy voters turned away from mainstream parties, particularly Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom. Some saw the results as a warning to Mario Monti's technocratic government which is pushing through unpopular austerity measures. See article»
» The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, who govern Britain in coalition, both received a thumping at local elections. But Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, was re-elected for a second term, defeating his Labour rival, Ken Livingstone. See article»
» In a lavish ceremony in Moscow, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated to his third term as Russia's president, after four years as prime minister. Hundreds were arrested amid violent scenes at anti-Putin protests a day earlier. Mr Putin said he would not attend next week's G8 summit in America. See article»

Defiant defendants
Click Here! » Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others were arraigned at a military tribunal in Guantánamo Bay naval base for plotting the attacks on New York and Washington of September 11th 2001. The men refused to recognise the authority of the tribunal and declined to listen to the translation. Their trial is likely to be delayed for at least a year. See article»
» The CIA announced that it had foiled a plot to blow up an aeroplane using an enhanced and possibly undetectable "underpants bomb". In a breakthrough for Saudi intelligence the device was reportedly handed over by a double agent. See article»
» After years of equivocation, Barack Obama declared that he supports gay marriage. See article»
» Richard Lugar, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, lost in a primary to a tea-party-backed challenger in Indiana. Much of his 35-year-long Senate career has focused on dismantling weapons of mass destruction around the world. See article»

National reaction
» Japan agreed to take control of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and inject ¥1 trillion ($12.5 billion) into the operator of the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear-power plant. One of the world's biggest ever nationalisations, this followed the suspension of the last of Japan's reactors because of lingering safety concerns. More than 50 reactors had previously supplied 30% of the country's power. Tepco has been crippled by compensation payments and other costs as a result of the accident. Moody's downgraded the debt ratings of seven Japanese electric-power companies. See article»
» Al Jazeera was forced to close its English-language bureau in China after the government refused to renew the credentials of its Beijing correspondent. Melissa Chan, an American citizen, is the first accredited foreign journalist to be expelled since 1998.
» Tensions over the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea escalated as Chinese travel agents cancelled tours to the Philippines and the government issued safety warnings to its citizens there. Anti-Chinese protests are expected in Manila.
» A man sentenced under Thailand's strict lèse-majesté laws died in prison. 61-year-old Ampon Tangnoppakul, nicknamed "Uncle SMS", was sentenced to 20 years in November 2011 for sending four text messages deemed to have insulted the monarchy. See article»

Joining forces
» Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who heads the Likud party, struck a coalition deal with Shaul Mofaz, a former army chief of staff who heads Kadima, the country's main opposition party. Mr Netanyahu may now consider promoting policies that could drive out the coalition's religious parties and a far-right party led by Avigdor Lieberman. See article»
» Algerians voted in a general election. Some 44 parties competed for seats in a parliament that has been toothless under the presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has ruled since 1999. He has promised to give elected members of parliament a role in writing a new constitution. See article»
» Supporters of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were trounced in the country's parliamentary election. They are now far outnumbered by conservative factions tied to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
» South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing seven areas on its side of the disputed border between the two countries, saying the acts violated a UN-backed ceasefire.
» Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, showed her determination to shake things up by dropping the currency's peg to the dollar, causing the kwacha to devalue by 50%.

Taking control
» Argentina's Congress approved the nationalisation of 51% of YPF, the country's biggest oil company, that had belonged to Spain's Repsol. The government named Miguel Galuccio, an oil engineer, to run the firm. See article»
» The Haitian parliament confirmed Laurent Lamothe, a businessman and former tennis player, as the country's new prime minister. Michel Martelly, the president, nominated him after the resignation of his predecessor, Gary Conille, which had left the country politically paralysed.
» Mexico's presidential candidates faced off in their first debate. Enrique Peña Nieto, the front-runner and the former governor of Mexico state was accused of running a corrupt administration and being soft on crime. The media focused their attention on a female production assistant whose outfit was deemed to be too revealing. See article»

The Economist | Business this Week: highlights of news coverage from May 5th - 11th, 2012

The Economist

» The Spanish government in effect nationalised the parent company of Bankia, a troubled lender formed from the merger of seven savings banks. Rodrigo Rato stepped down as chairman of the bank, which is struggling with souring property loans. The Spanish government is expected to inject more funds directly into Bankia and to insist that other banks set aside around €35 billion ($45 billion) in fresh provisions. See article»

Euro crisis, part XIX

» The inconclusive outcome of elections in Greece on May 6th led to sell-offs in stockmarkets across the globe, amid doubts about Greece's ability to meet the terms of its international bail-out and to stay in the euro zone. The main Athens index fell by 10% over two days, to a 20-year low. The Euro Stoxx index of 50 leading euro-area equities has fallen by 15% since mid-March. See article»
» HSBC, the world's fourth-largest bank by market capitalisation, beat expectations, with first-quarter pre-tax profits of $4.3 billion. The bank is undergoing significant restructuring. It has shed 14,000 full-time-equivalent jobs (5% of headcount) over the past 12 months and has disposed or closed 11 separate businesses since the start of the year.
» Andrew Moss resigned as chief executive of Aviva, a British insurer, after shareholders voted against the firm's pay policies. The company's share price has fallen by 60% during Mr Moss's five-year tenure. He leaves with a payout worth £1.5m ($2.4m). See article»
» Commerzbank lost a court battle in London against 104 bankers seeking unpaid bonuses totalling €50m ($65m). The bonuses had been promised to Dresdner Kleinwort bankers before it was sold to Commerzbank in late 2008. Commerzbank itself reported first-quarter operating profit of €584m, a fall of 49% on a year earlier. It also announced that it had met the European Banking Authority's capital requirement, largely by shrinking its balance-sheet. See article»
» Mark Zuckerberg, the 27-year-old boss of Facebook, was the star of the show as the social network took to the road before its stockmarket listing on May 18th. The company intends to raise as much as $12 billion by selling shares at $28-35 each, which would give the company a market capitalisation of between $77 billion and $96 billion. See article»

Not very evil
Click Here! » A court in San Francisco found Google guilty of infringing intellectual-property rights for copying nine lines of code from Oracle's Java software in its Android operating system. Jurors could not agree whether the infringement was fair use or not. As a result, Oracle cannot seek damages above $150,000 from Google, some way short of the $1 billion it had hoped to receive. See article»
» Yahoo! announced that it had appointed a special committee to conduct a thorough review of its boss's academic credentials. Scott Thompson, who has been in charge of the ailing internet company since the beginning of the year, apparently claimed in company statements that he had a computer-science degree as well as an accounting one. The error was pointed out by a hedge fund, Third Point, which owns a 6% stake in the firm. In a memo to employees Mr Thompson said he "deeply regrets" the error.
» The unemployment rate in America fell slightly in April to 8.1%, its lowest rate since Barack Obama took office. The fall was largely attributable to people leaving the labour market; the number of people employed actually fell by 169,000. At 63.6%, the labour-force participation rate is at its lowest level since 1981. See article»
» Fears of a German recession were lessened as trade data from the world's third-biggest exporter revealed that the value of exports increased by 0.9% in March compared with the previous month, to €91.8 billion ($121 billion); imports increased by 1.2%. German industrial production also increased by a surprising 2.8% in March. France's trade gap narrowed in March to €5.7 billion from €6.3 billion in February.

Arctic explorers
» Statoil of Norway signed a co-operation agreement with Russia's Rosneft to explore several oilfields jointly. The joint venture will explore four offshore fields in the Arctic, plus a technical study of two onshore fields in Russia. Signed under the watchful eye of Vladimir Putin, it is the third such agreement that Rosneft has signed in the past month, after similar deals with Exxon Mobil and Italy's Eni.
» A Russian plane crashed into a hillside on a demonstration flight in Indonesia. The Superjet-100 built by Sukhoi disappeared from radar screens shortly after take-off from Jakarta with 46 people on board. It is not clear whether the accident was a technical or human error, but it could scupper Sukhoi's efforts to sell its first commercial aircraft.

NYT Global Update | Top News: Dozens Killed in Large Explosions in Syrian Capital.


Dozens Killed in Large Explosions in Syrian Capital

Two car bombs exploded outside a key intelligence compound in Damascus, Syrian state media said.

While Obama Trumpets Gay Marriage, Foes Seek New Topic

On Thursday, President Obama's campaign sought to capitalize on his new declaration of support for gay marriage, even as some Republicans tried to shift back to the economy.
The Caucus

Bullying Story Spurs a Romney Apology

An examination of Mitt Romney's teenage years at a prep school describes an episode in which he bullied a fellow student.

Video: Yemeni Camel Jumpers

As western Yemen rests of the brink of revolution, poor villagers hold on to an enduring custom.

Op-Ed Contributor

Game Over for the Climate

If Canada exploits the oil in its tar sands, civilization will be at risk.

Two Sudans Brace for a War Both Thought Was Over

Years of fighting were supposed to end when South Sudan won its independence from Sudan last July, but instead both countries are once again mobilizing for war.

Parents of P.O.W. Reveal U.S. Talks on Taliban Swap

Frustrated by stalled negotiations, the parents of an Army sergeant abruptly disclosed that he was the subject of secret negotiations.

Afghan Police Forces Deflect Taliban Attack on Governor

Fighting that killed three police officers put the spotlight on the local Afghan police forces that are seen as a critical hedge against the Taliban as Western forces begin their withdrawal.

Spain Takes Control of Its Top Real Estate Lender

The Economics Ministry described the Bankia intervention as "a first step to guarantee its solvency," suggesting that it would follow up with a capital injection.

In Spain, a Debt Crisis Built on Corporate Borrowing

The debt load of Grupo A.C.S., a giant construction company based in Spain, reflects the country's severe financial struggle.

Europe May Need More Power to Deal With Bank Crisis

After failed efforts to restore confidence in their sickly banks, European governments face growing pressure to give officials more powers to shore up shaky lenders.

Bing to Be Revamped in War for Search Engine Supremacy

A Microsoft-Facebook alliance plans an overhaul of Bing in an effort to loosen Google's grip on the search engine market.

So How Do We Talk About This?

If it hasn't happened already, it will: at some point, even by accident, your child will click on pornography.

A Circle of Tech: Collect Payout, Do a Start-Up

The windfall from Facebook's public offering may prompt some employees to leave, in what could be one of company's lasting legacies - a new generation of tech tycoons looking to create or invest in, well, the next Facebook.

2 Spanish Clubs, Worlds Apart in Approach

Atlético Madrid won the Europa League by adding players through trades, while Athletic Bilbao stocks its squad with players from the Basque area it calls home.

For Juventus, Still Work to Be Done

The Serie A champion has rebounded from its darkest moments in the 2006 match-fixing scandal, but it still needs to make some changes if it wants to be a power in European play next season.

Decathlon History Is His in the Making

A big-leaping decathlon prodigy is hoping to reach his discipline's heights at the the London Games.
News Analysis

A Watershed Move, Both Risky and Inevitable

In expressing his support for same-sex marriage, which remains a controversial issue, President Obama has clearly come to recognize that the forces of history appear to be changing.

Romney Reaffirms Opposition to Marriage, or Unions, for Gay Couples

The question of precisely what legal status and protections should be granted to gay couples is emerging as an issue of the sharpest possible contrast between the two presidential candidates.
Opinionator | Townies

Drink and Thrive

An essential journalistic skill no one tells you about: bartending.
Op-Ed Columnist

Your Vote: Man vs. Morel

How do you feel about the defeat of Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary? Choose A, B, C or D, please.
Op-Ed Columnist

Poverty's Poster Child

Some of the toughest and most persistent poverty in America exists on Indian reservations, like Pine Ridge in South Dakota. But it's not hopeless.