Archive for February 14th, 2012

DSEF & CBBB: So Facebook Goes Public. So what?

DSEF & CBBB: So Facebook Goes Public. So what?

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB):

What will it mean if Facebook, currently a private company, goes public this May or mid-2013, or at some other date predicted by pundits?

For investors, plenty. Experts disagree as to whether or not the high-priced stock will be worth it. Some think obscene wealth will be within reach; others think that the company may burst like a dot-com bubble. Remember the rules. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose, investigate before you invest, and do your homework. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is a good resource for learning about the stock market.

For Facebook users? The Internet verdict (from blogs and news articles) is almost unanimous: Less privacy. According to an article in the L.A. Times, Facebook will most likely “step up its efforts to harvest its users’ information as it tries to meet Wall Street expectations.

“The richest IPO in history is all based on the harvesting and sale of users’ information,” [says Jeffrey]Chester, [Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy]. “The IPO makes clear that Facebook intends to further friend the most powerful advertisers on the planet, help them better target the vast social network audience.”

(Speaking of preferences, did you know that your friends’ “likes” influence yours? The U.K. Guardian states: “…if I “like” Whole Foods on Facebook, you, as my friend, are presumed to harbour a preference for organic food as well – hence you are more likely to see a Whole Foods advertisement when you log on.” My best friend and I must be skewing their system—we are complete opposites.)

A Little Bit of Background
As the company prepares to become an even bigger deal in our marketplace, here are three things you should know about Facebook.

First, where does the money come from? An article in PC World quotes the company’s SEC filing as listing “digital cows, crops, and mafia hit jobs” as large revenue streams for the company. “Social game maker Zynga was responsible for about 12 percent of Facebook’s [some reports say $3.71 billion] revenue in 2011.” If you’ve played Farmville, you’ve supported Zynga.

Second, who are Facebook’s current shareholders? The Washington Post lists companies like DST Global, Accel Partners, Goldman Sachs, and T. Rowe Price along with company executives and its board of directors (including the Post’s CEO Don Graham). Another famous shareholder  is Erskine Bowles, a former White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton. Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg owns 56.9 percent of the voting shares.

Third, who are FB’s major advertisers? According to the Huffington Post, the top five include AT&T,, and Google. This January there was a bit of an imbroglio over an alleged scam site, but that has since been removed.

Final Thoughts

“When Facebook goes public it will be under increased scrutiny, held more accountable, and required to be more transparent,” says the Guardian. “But, at the same time, the need to maximise returns means the use of personal data is likely to increase, only raising privacy concerns.”

In November the company settled with the Federal Trade Commission over alleged “unfair and deceptive” practices of making public information that users thought was private.

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. for more information. 

How to Build a Unique Business

How to Build a Unique Business

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see a red bullseye? If you’re like most people, your answer is Target.  What is it about Starbucks that makes it different from other coffee establishments?  Perhaps it’s the taste of the coffee itself, the blended language of their drink sizes, or maybe even the first place to bring the culture of Italian espresso bars to the U.S.  These are exceptional examples of a million dollar idea, but they are also standards that we can look up to.  Sometimes it seems as if everything has been done before.  Even so, your business can be a unique endeavor if you can apply and incorporate your own individuality.

  • Focus on your personal strengths.  Even if your business is very similar to others, there is only one you.  Do some serious personal reflection to pinpoint what makes you different.  What can you bring to the table that no one else can?  For instance, you may be one of many direct sellers in your area working for the same type of company.  However, use your strengths to make yourself stand out from the rest.  A consultant with a background in theatre might do very well using his/her knowledge and expertise to create an entertaining and polished sales presentation unlike any that customers have seen before.  Your business is a reflection of who you are, so take advantage of that, and give it your personal flair.
  • Choose a micro-niche.  Instead of casting a wide net and trying to cater to a large market, narrow down your business and your target market.  The more narrow and specific you make it, the more recognized in your field you will become.  For example, a hair salon might focus on children’s hairdressing.  A micro-niche would be a salon that specializes in children’s hairstyles for the pageant circuit.  Now, a very specific target market can be reached, and the business can become a well-known one among those in that circle.
  • Make customer service a top priority.  Considering experiences you have had with other small businesses, what were their strong points?  Where were they lacking?  Use this knowledge to perfect your own customer relations.  Is there something you can offer that goes above and beyond what your competitors are doing?  Think about learning your customers’ names, something personal about them, and what they could get of your business that would somehow make their lives easier or more pleasant.  Modern technology has stolen much of our culture’s person-to-person interaction, so the better your customer service is, the more memorable you will be.
  • Use unusual interests to your advantage.  Whether you are starting a brand new business or looking to make an existing one more innovative, take a close look at your own interests.  Is there something unique or unusual about them?  For example, a forward-thinking individual named Jason Sadler developed an idea for wearing t-shirts to advertise companies wanting viral exposure.  His website has become its own community of people viewing and sharing his team’s content.

The key to building a unique business is identifying your own personal distinction.  What other ways do you bring originality to your business?  Share with us in the comments section below!