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Turning things on end to achieve results!

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Back To School

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Back To School

Back To School

It is that time of the year when schools are beginning again after the summer break. Some schools will start shortly and others have already begun.  Today I will take a look at the good and the bad of back to school.  I wrote about back to school memories in 2012 as well, click here to read what I had to say.

The good:

  • Traffic gets better with fewer people on the road during morning and afternoon rush hour.
  • High School football games offer a fun way to spend a Friday night.
  • Child care expenses are greatly reduced. Having nearby relatives has substantial benefits.
  • Going shopping for some new clothes. I typically wore jeans and T-shirts in high school but was made to dress up in elementary school.  Getting bell bottoms was a big deal.
  • Seeing your friends again on a regular basis. Things might be different in today’s connected world.  We did not have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype/Face Time, cell phones or the internet when I was in school.
  • Having your mind filled with knowledge and to continue your lifelong journey of learning. (I am sort of serious)

The bad:

  • For the kids, it is the homework, getting up early and the lousy slop that they call pizza at the cafeteria.
  • Finding out that you have a first period gym class or worse a challenging subject like calculus or physics.  After the summer off and sleeping in you don’t want to tax your body or your brain that early.
  • The drama associated with the bus ride for the elementary school kids. On top of that, it seemed like every year I would get on the bus first in the morning and be the last to be dropped off in the afternoon.  Spending 45 minutes on a bus is no fun.
  • Traffic gets worse during the morning and afternoon rush hour.
  • For the parents the running kids to various school related activities.
  • For the parents they also have to deal with homework every night making sure the assignments get done. I personally think they assign too much homework these days.
  • For parents taking a hit to the budget to get clothes for the new school year can be a shock.

I hope this brings back some memories for you and I hope that back to school is mostly a good thing for you. Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

August 28, 2016 at 8:01 am

Facebook Revisited – What Can We Learn

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Success and Failure Road Sign

On this date in 2012, Facebook became a public company with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that raised $16 Billion.  Read about it here.   I was skeptical – read about my thoughts here.  One of the problems with Facebook at the time of the IPO was their inability to get traction in the mobile browsing area which was rapidly becoming the most common way people were using the internet.  They needed to get advertising revenue in this area or they were going to be left behind.  In short, they have figured it out.

A snap shot of Facebook’s first quarter results this year is as follows:

  • Revenues of $3.543 Billion
  • Net Income of $512 million
  • Earnings per Share of $.18

You might want to point out the stock price has been around $80 per share and that it is trading at about 80 times earnings for the trailing twelve months.   In contrast, the S & P 500 stocks traditionally trade, on average, at 15-17 times earnings.  Facebook has a lot of upside potential and that growth potential is part of why it trades at such a higher multiple.  The stock price is not Facebook’s “fault” the market determines the value so let’s move on.

What can we learn from this?  I can think of a couple of things; persistence and addressing weaknesses.  Facebook leadership knew they had to figure out the mobile advertising revenue problem and they didn’t stop until they got it right.  According to the management’s discussion and analysis section in the Q1 2015 SEC 10Q filing, they have 936 million daily active users worldwide and 798 million of those are on a mobile device.  Mobile growth is averaging about 44% per year since Q1 2012.  The number of daily active users from traditional personal computers have decreased on average by 19% during the same period.  It seems like they figured it out at the right time as mobile advertising is no longer the future of advertising growth it is the present.

Have a great week overcoming your challenges.

Written by pacelinebiz

May 18, 2015 at 8:02 am

Small Business Blunders

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Small Business Blunders

Small Business Blunders

I am suffering from writer’s block this week so this week’s blog is a list of some things I would like small business owners to stop doing.  This is in no way a comprehensive list and they are listed in no particular order.

  1. Stop paying people as independent contractors when they are employees.  This will get extra scrutiny when Obamacare becomes effective for businesses with over 50 employees.  It has been a hot topic for years in avoiding payroll taxes and withholding. 
  2. Trying to avoid paying overtime when an employee is entitled to overtime pay.  Check out the Department of Labor’s website about overtime pay here.
  3. Being too slow to embrace new technologies.  I don’t think small business owners need to be on the cutting edge or be early adopters, but they need to take advantage as soon as they can to save time and money. 
  4. Not re-allocating money from older forms of advertising like yellow pages or newspapers to social media like Facebook pages for businesses, email marketing and Twitter.  Many of these new social media platforms are designed to work without having a high level of skills in marketing or graphic design.
  5. Not taking advantage of outsourcing.  It is fairly common to outsource payroll but what about HR, safety compliance, and other special skills that are not needed by small businesses enough to justify an in-house resource.  Many companies offer really good package deals in these areas.  
  6. Not seeking legal advice.  Check out this list from the US Small Business Administration.
  7. Failing to pay your payroll taxes.  The IRS fines and penalties can be extreme.  Do anything you can to pay your payroll taxes.
  8. Not having an adequate emergency plan in case you are not available to run your business and not having some controls in place to stop employee fraud.  Read my blogs about these two issues here and here.

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

November 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

Business Lessons From RGIII

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Lessons From The Grid Iron

Lessons From The Grid Iron

Robert Griffin the third is an NFL quarterback for Washington.  He is mobile, athletic and deadly accurate when passing the football.  He also is the new norm for NFL quarterbacks.  The old standard of the drop back pocket passer such as recent greats Peyton Manning and Tom Brady is fading away.  Today’s topic is not about Robert Griffin III or the NFL.  It is about what we can learn from the new development in the NFL quarterback and implement it into our businesses.

Are you still confused?  This is what I am talking about.  RGII as he is called; is the product of challenging the status quo and finding a different way to do something.  To use a worn out cliché; it is thinking outside the box.  I like to call it Turning Things On End To Achieve Results!  The way to stand out from the crowd is to innovate.  My definition of innovation is; “exploiting the status quo to your advantage”.

The rate of change in this world is growing exponentially.  Technology and our culture are two good examples.  As businesses owners we need to embrace technology and use it to our benefit and also recognize changes in our culture so we can adapt to operate in an environment that is much different than 20 or even 10 years ago.  We could easily be in an era similar to the industrial revolution but not realize it.  Perhaps someday history will have a name for this period.  Maybe we can call it revolution by disruption.  Entire industries are fading away rapidly.  Look at what Amazon has done to retail.  The traditional newspaper delivered to your door is facing a very uncertain future.  Entertainment and information dissemination is finding new pipelines via Twitter, Facebook and, streaming content on smart phone or TV’s.

If you want to be different and to make a mark in the industry that you operate then you need to exploit the status quo to your advantage.  Find a new way to do something or offer a different twist on a product.

Have a great week exploiting the status quo.  You’ll thank me later.

Written by pacelinebiz

September 30, 2013 at 8:01 am

High Def Has Arrived To My Low Def World

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Television is now TV

Last November I ranted about High Definition Television and proudly proclaimed that I did not own one and would not own one until my old tube television broke.  I am here to boldly tell you that I WAS WRONG!  As I write this, I am having a High Def TV (yes TV not television) delivered to my house.  My tube TV works fine with picture quality as good as the day it came out of the box near the turn of the century!  However; I did not lie to you in my blog last year when I said I would not buy one until my old one broke.  Apparently there are invisible forces in play that I was unaware of at the time – my wife and her remodeling plans.  So, today about 11 months after I drew the line in the sand, I am entering the high def world, low def eyes be damned.

As I queried salesmen and researched online I learned a lot of how much I was “missing”.  Our new TV is a 47 inch LED, 1080p, 120 Hz, Wi-Fi enabled, 3D picture wonder of modern technology.  We sampled the 3D picture effects at the store with the stylish 3D glasses (that come free with the TV) for a minute or two and I promptly got eye strain and a headache.  I won’t be using that feature for sure as I can get a headache by eating ice cream real fast and that is a much better experience before the onset of the pain.  (Incidentally, I am on a Coffee Ice Cream kick right now.)  Now I can post videos to Facebook with my TV!  Too bad I somehow missed the Facebook craze and never got an account. 

As I enter this brave new world of high def, I will periodically keep you posted on my experiences.  I am sure you are wondering if I have a blue ray DVD player so that I can get the maximum out of my new TV.  Not surprisingly, the answer to that is no.  My DVD player is not blue and I call it Drew V. Donaldson when I am engaging it in a formal conversation and simply DVD when we are shooting the breeze over a refreshing beverage.  Do I plan to stream content using Netflix, Hulu or Hulu+ for only a few dollars a month?  What do you think? When I hear the words stream content, I think of fish, water and other stuff that floats in a babbling brook.

Before I continue babbling, let me end and wish you a good week full of high-definition images for your low def eyes.

Written by pacelinebiz

October 8, 2012 at 9:12 am

Facebook Fizzles

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What were they thinking?

A few weeks ago the much anticipated Facebook IPO (Ticker symbol FB) hit the market and the stock has disappointed so far in trading action.  As I write this, it is down about 25% from its first day closing price.  The stock performance is really not what I wanted to talk about today.  I want to talk about what was going on inside of the heads of those at the company and the underwriters who rolled this out. 

How can so much anticipation and excitement before the IPO turn into such a flop once going public?  First of all I want to acknowledge that it has been less than a month since the IPO and no one can say what the long term performance of the company or the stock will be.  That being said, how is it that after the stock was issued all sorts of problems with the company were identified?  A few big contributors of the stock price falling are the ineffectiveness of its advertising and the difficulty to take advantage of the mobile internet space.  Weren’t these issues present before the IPO?  I believe so.  What were they thinking?

Right before the IPO, General Motors announced it was going to stop advertising on Facebook because they said it proved to be ineffective.  The growth of the internet is largely coming from the use of smart phones and tablets.  This fact has been known for some time. In fact, many computer companies and chip makers have been under pressure to justify their stock prices since it is anticipated that they will lose market share to companies that make these new devices that are being used more and more for internet browsing.

I am not a user of Facebook and have always had a hard time to see the value of the company – 900 million users or not.  Yes, they do have billions of revenue from advertising but this is coming from a medium – traditional computer internet usage that appears to be losing share for an up and comer – mobile browsing.  If Facebook can’t figure out how to take advantage of this newer technology their chances of success will diminish.  See newspapers and other print advertising media for an example.

Before we write off Facebook we also need to understand there is value with all those users and all that information that they share such as demographics and their “likes”.  Maybe they can figure out a way to use that data from those 900 million users to become the next new search engine and knock Google off their throne.  For stockholders of Facebook I hope they can turn the fad of the last decade into a viable business for the future. 

Have a good week.  I know I will by actually talking face to face with my friends.

Written by pacelinebiz

June 4, 2012 at 10:06 am

Costs… And Benefits Of New Technology

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Hi, I'm a QR code

Technology has created additional needs for businesses and many people, including myself, focus on areas of these new costs that did not exist in the mainstream that long ago.  A few items that come to mind are:

  • High speed internet for website, email, Facebook page, remote connectivity to the company network and E-Commerce
  • Social media ad campaigns using QR Codes in mobile text messaging, Facebook and Twitter to name a few
  • Data plans for smart phones
  • Smart phones
  • Point of sale technology – “Pay at the pump” etc

The cost of the items listed above are substantial but to be fair let’s look at things that have been reduced or eliminated as a result of the technology.  Employee productivity has gone up simply due to the ability to work when out of the office using remote connectivity to the company network and smart phones for email on the go.  Many forward-looking companies have reduced office space needed by implementing a telecommuting policy.  By doing so, other overhead costs are reduced such as electricity and office supplies since more work is being done at the employee’s home.  The employee on the other hand does not mind because they win by working from home and many times work more just because they can and bottlenecks caused from being out of the office are reduced. See the blog I wrote about telecommuting by clicking here.

The cost of point of sale equipment can be significant but also can reduce the need for labor in the form of cashiers handling customers.  It also increases the speed of the transaction so that more transactions can occur in the same amount of time. Doing more with less without sacrificing service is always a plus.  Think about the swiftness of transaction via debit and credit card versus handling cash and counting out change.  Another benefit is reduced cash drawer shortages since the amount of cash handled has been greatly reduced.  The cost of debit and credit card transactions are not inexpensive, but you must take into the account the positives when counting the cost of the transactions fees that the card companies charge   See my recent blog about credit card company fees by clicking here.

Social media ad campaigns have reduced the need for traditional advertising and marketing media such as the yellow pages and direct mail.  Many studies have also suggested that these new forms of advertising are many times more successful compared to the traditional forms.  Companies with large advertising budgets need to consider reducing their spending in traditional area and taking the savings and devote it to the new social media of Twitter, text/mobile for discounts and coupons using QR codes and Facebook to engage with their customers.

The message we need to understand is that we should be objective and look at the additional costs AND cost savings in the new age of business before making final decisions. I encourage everyone to embrace the technology available today.  If you don’t you may be left behind by your competition and may lose customers who are no longer being reached in traditional ways.

To be fair and balanced, next week I will poke fun at technology.  Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

February 6, 2012 at 10:11 am