Good reads issue #8: Why small businesses fail, a controversial view of WalMart, and help with your press releases

One of the reasons I like Twitter is that I frequently come across useful articles there. That is the case with two of the items in this month’s potpourri of  interesting and helpful articles relating to business that I’ve read in the past few weeks. The other two pieces were sent to me via people who know I’m always looking for grist for my blog, including one from SucceedingInSmallBusiness.com contributor Karen Utgoff, who alerted me to the New York Times story cited below. Keep ‘em coming, folks; keep ‘em coming!

• In “Top 10 Reasons Small Businesses Fail,” the article Karen put me on to, Jay Goltz, who bills himself as a “thinking entrepreneur,” points out that if you ask a former small business owner why his/her business went down the tubes, you usually won’t get at the real truth of the matter. He then proceeds to give us 10 reasons that ring true to me from my experience of working with and observing small businesses. What do you think? What common causes of failure has he missed?

• In “Small Business Owners: Stop Whining and Learn to Love WalMart,” writer Donna Fenn presents unique viewpoints that bicycle retailer Chris Zane has about WalMart. Basically, Zane thinks WalMart had helped his small business by, for example, driving priced-focused customers out of his store. While I agree with most of his reasons for loving WalMart, I think he overlooks the negative macro economic impact the retail giant has had on the American economy, such as driving manufacturing jobs overseas. That said, there is still something to be learned from his thinking.

• A newly released study from PWR News Media shows that 87% of journalists prefer to receive their press releases via e-mail. What a turnaround this is. Just eight years ago I had an opportunity to interview a roomful of trade journalists and only about 30% of them said they wanted to get everything via e-mail. The PR Daily article on this poll includes other important tips that can help you with the media.

• More good advice for your publicity efforts comes from the Journalistics blog. In an article entitled “When Communicating, Start with ‘Why’”, writer Jocelyn Broder explains why starting your press releases by answering the why question – why does this matter and why should anyone care – is the most effective way to grab attention right from your first paragraph. Excellent advice!

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