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Business Owners Lead in the Polls
A bipartisan survey finds that Americans agree on something: 90 percent have a favorable view of business owners, and 73 percent have a favorable view of entrepreneurs.
Here are today’s highlights:
After fighting so hard to staff up, companies do not want to let employees go.
That big post-Labor Day return to the office isn’t happening.
Whole Foods may be losing its standing as the place to go for emerging brands.
To get a cannabis license in New York, you have to have both a marijuana conviction and experience running a profitable business.
The hoarding of employees has begun: “Chad Pritchard and his colleagues are trying everything to staff their pizza shop and bistro, and as they do, they have turned to a new tactic: They avoid firing employees at all costs. Infractions that previously would have led to a quick dismissal no longer do at the chef’s two places, Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria and Bistro Provenance. Consistent transportation issues have ceased to be a deal breaker. Workers who show up drunk these days are sent home to sober up. Employers in Provo, a college town at the base of the Rocky Mountains where unemployment is near the lowest in the nation at 1.9 percent, have no room to lose workers.”
“Provo’s desperation for workers is an intense version of the labor crunch that has plagued employers nationwide over the past two years — one that has prompted changes in hiring and layoff practices that could have big implications for the U.S. economy.”
“‘Companies are still confronting this enormous churn and losing people, and they don’t know what to do to hang on to people,’ said Julia Pollak, chief economist at the career site ZipRecruiter. ‘They’re definitely hanging on to workers for dear life just because they’re so scarce.’”
“Policymakers are hoping that after struggling through the worst labor shortages America has experienced in at least several decades, employers will be hesitant to lay off workers even when the economy cools.”
“That may help prevent the kind of painful recession the Federal Reserve is hoping to avoid as it tries to combat persistent inflation.” READ MORE
WFH is still beating RTO: “The grand migration back to offices after Labor Day that many CEOs and civic leaders envisioned hasn’t materialized. Flexibility to work where and when they want has become a non-negotiable aspect of many white-collar staffers’ lives, and while hiring has slowed in certain sectors like technology and construction, the labor market is still tight enough for skilled workers to maintain leverage. U.S. job openings fell in August to lowest in more than a year, suggesting labor demand—while still robust—is moderating.”
“Average office occupancy in 10 U.S. cities for the week ending Sept. 28 declined slightly from 47.3 percent to 47.2 percent the previous week, according to card-swipe data from security company Kastle Systems.”
“Half of the cities Kastle tracked showed declines over the period, in particular the New York metro area, where just 43.5 percent of workers showed up, down from 46.1 percent the week earlier.”
“The stickiness of flexible work arrangements could reduce the value of New York’s office buildings by about $50 billion, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.” READ MORE
A survey finds that supporting entrepreneurs and business owners is one of the few things this country can agree on: “Amid political polarization intensified by the coming midterm elections, a new bipartisan survey of American voters reveals a surprising unity. Despite our differences, Americans are united about entrepreneurial dreams. We hold a shared belief that every individual should have a fair opportunity to start and grow their own business. This unity—which is so rare today—provides a path to pull the nation together and catalyze the growth of future businesses and jobs. The poll was conducted jointly by North Star Opinion Research, a Republican-oriented polling firm, and Hart Research, a Democratic-oriented polling firm.”
“Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are all more likely to support a political candidate who emphasizes making it easier for citizens to start and grow new businesses. That’s true even though most voters don’t realize that new businesses create most new jobs.”
“Americans almost unanimously agree that ‘it is important to America’s future that citizens have a fair opportunity to start and grow their own business’: 94 percent agree, 2 percent disagree, and 4 percent are not sure. That near-unanimity crosses party lines—with 95 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Independents, and 92 percent of Democrats agreeing.”
“American voters similarly have an overwhelmingly favorable view of small business owners (90 percent favorable vs. 4 percent unfavorable) and entrepreneurs (73 percent vs. 10 percent). Fewer voters have a favorable view of large businesses—46 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable, with 14 percent having no opinion.” READ MORE
Whole Foods is quietly raising prices on small brands: “The price increases have occurred over the past few months, according to brokers and consultants who advise food brands on their Whole Foods strategy as well as the founder of a brand that sells its products at the grocery chain. Some of the increases have added as much as a dollar or two to on-the-shelf prices of products that sell for $20 or less, according to the people. Grocers regularly raise prices in order to protect their margins and cover costs. But the people Insider spoke to said that the increases are more than they would expect to see from Whole Foods, even with retail food prices rising at historically fast rates.”
“The price increases are also the latest sign that Whole Foods has lost its reputation as a place for emerging brands to get their start.”
“Sarah Delevan, a consultant to early-stage food brands, said two companies that she works with have seen price hikes at Whole Foods in the past few months.”
“Now, Delevan said, the brands are worried about customers looking for cheaper alternatives or simply avoiding their products.”
“Few early-stage brands can afford that, since many get into Whole Foods expecting to attract new consumers and keep them buying, Delevan said.” READ MORE
Producer prices rose more than expected in September: “Prices paid to U.S. producers rose in September by more than expected, suggesting inflationary pressures will take time to moderate and keeping the Federal Reserve on its aggressive interest rate-hike path. The producer price index for final demand climbed 0.4 percent from August, the first increase in three months, and was up 8.5 percent from a year ago, Labor Department data showed Wednesday.”
“Many companies have successfully passed on much, if not all, of the increases in input and labor costs, but it’s unclear how long they can continue to do so as consumers begin to balk at higher prices.” READ MORE
A startup founder says venture capitalists pay him to write tweets for them: “Ghostwriting tweets for venture capitalists is my side hustle. Last year I made about $200,000. Some VCs will pay you per tweet. I've done $100,000 threads to announce a big funding round, and I've also done $100 tweets. Other VCs pay you per month. For $5,000 to $10,000, I'll write 10 original tweets a month. And the rate goes up quickly from there. A single tweet I write can generate as many as 4 million impressions for my clients. They have accounts that range in size from 2,000 followers to 200,000. Oddly, the smaller the number, the more they're often willing to pay. Those are the clients who need the distribution more.”
“Deals used to start with a meeting at the Pacific-Union Club. I don't know anyone who goes there now. It all happens on Twitter. Twitter is the new social club.”
“Taking risks can lead to greater attentional rewards, but the precise level of risk I'll take depends on the client. Some clients don't care. They're shock jocks. They'll tweet anything. Others are more careful.”
“For example, how many hours should you work? That's a classic. If a VC feels they're not getting enough attention, they can just tweet, ‘You have to work 80 hours a week to be successful.’”
“Everyone will come out to tell you that you're canceled. It taps into money, privilege, class, ability to sacrifice. People have a lot of emotions about those subjects.” READ MORE
That reusable shopping bag may help save an industry in India: “When shoppers in places like America take a woven reusable bag to the store, they aren’t just saving the planet. They are reviving a storied industry thousands of miles away in India. Jute, a coarse fiber used to make fabrics like burlap, has been cultivated for centuries in the warm and humid climate of the Ganges Delta. Some of India’s jute factories have been in operation for more than a century, and today the country is the world’s largest producer.”
“Now, though, what had been jute’s weakness is its potential strength. As much of the world seeks biodegradable alternatives to synthetic materials like plastics, Indian jute is making its way around the planet, from supermarkets in the United States to fashion houses in France to wine producers in Italy.”
“Jute is more durable than cotton, needs fewer resources for its cultivation and has a shorter growing time. To many, it has a rough aesthetic appeal. And cheap labor keeps its costs down.”
“The global jute bag market is expected to grow from $2.3 billion in 2021 to $3.38 billion in 2026, Mr. Gupta said. Shopping bags accounted for a quarter of the roughly $400 million in jute products that India exported in 2021, and over the past five years, the country’s jute bag exports had more than tripled, Mr. Gupta said.” READ MORE
New York may seem to have a dispensary on every corner, but none of them are legal: “New York’s weed situation is a bit of a mess. There are a lot of regulatory affairs to get in order between marijuana being legalized in the state and products actually hitting the shelves, and those affairs take time. The state has placed a social justice emphasis on its process, meaning it’s trying to give a leg up to people in the legal industry who have in the past been hurt most by the war on drugs. It’s done so in a well-intentioned but somewhat awkward way that has shut a lot of people from the legacy market — meaning people who have been selling cannabis and marijuana for years — out.”
“Now, a so-called gray market has popped up across the state and city in the form of smoke shops and dispensaries and trucks and delis selling cannabis. Some of them are engaging in a gifting scheme, where you pay $60 for a sticker or other token product and they give you weed as a present alongside it, since gifting marijuana is now legal in the state.”
“New York set out to award its initial retail licenses in a way that both takes social justice into account and is a little wonky. Applying entities must be ‘justice involved,’ meaning they or a family member have to have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense in the past. Applicants also had to be at least the 10 percent owner of a profitable business for two years.
“You can start to see where the Venn diagram problem resides here: Because of so many structural barriers, the stigma of criminal convictions, and racial inequality, there aren’t a ton of people walking around with marijuana convictions who then went on to run profitable businesses — at least not legal ones.” READ MORE
Robert Toll, co-founder of Toll Brothers home builders, which redefined American suburbs by building McMansions: “The brothers built their first model colonial-style homes in suburban Philadelphia after founding Toll Brothers in 1967. The company soon became among the most ambitious developers pushing to build a new generation of tony commuter enclaves farther out from cities in farmland and wooded groves. The Toll Brothers blueprint includes targeted land purchases, appeals for quick zoning approval and pre-designed houses — now often selling for $1 million or more and typified by high-ceiling great rooms and elaborate master suites — that allow buyers to make some personalized changes. The business model made Mr. Toll and his brother wealthy and put the company on the Fortune 500 list.”
“It has been targeted with various complaints over the years for alleged construction flaws and by opposition to ‘McMansion’ subdivisions disrupting life in once-bucolic areas.”
“In April, activists in Ann Arbor, Mich., climbed into trees in attempts to block a 57-home Toll Brothers development known as Concord Pines.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
Dana Opens in Dallas: This week, Dana White tells Paul Downs and Jay Goltz how her move to Dallas is going, including hiring a manager, firing a publicist, tweaking her business model, and for the first time, confronting competition. Dana also explains the surprising way she managed to get the financing to open her first salon on a military base, which she now thinks could be up and running by the end of the year. Plus: Paul has had to make adjustments to handle a sudden influx of business. And Jay is still looking for a head of HR. Should he post the ad on ZipRecruiter or Indeed? Should he offer a salary range in the ad? And is it reasonable for him to expect a follow-up note after an interview?
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Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren