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Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in this arranged photo in San Francisco, Calif. (David Paul Morris/© 2011 Bloomberg Finance LP)
Facebook Inc. logo is reflected in the eyeglasses of a user in this arranged photo in San Francisco, Calif. (David Paul Morris/© 2011 Bloomberg Finance LP)

Small Business Briefing

What Facebook's IPO can teach entrepreneurs Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Lessons learned from big business

If Facebook files for an IPO, as expected, its valuation could be one of the largest ever. Shares of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will likely debut in May, following the SEC’s review of the file, which normally takes three to four months.

Investors have been longing to get a stake in the biggest trend hitting the Internet since Google brought its powerful search algorithms and lucrative advertising model to the markets in 2004.

In the meantime, smaller companies and their owners, Inc's Erik Sherman writes, can learn some valuable lessons from the path Facebook has followed to the public markets.

Here's a brief look at the six ideas he came up with:

  1. Take your time
  2. Focus on revenue, not just customers
  3. Get ready for the limelight
  4. Banks are not your friends
  5. Things take off after funding
  6. Ask for an allowance when Dad's smiling

Working to 'eliminate open defecation'

BRAC, a global development organization based in Dhaka, Bangladesh is financing the start-up of more small businesses in a bid to reach households trapped in extreme poverty. With a new round of financial assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization is rolling out the second phase of its water and sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program. The first phase has already reached more than 25 million people. “We look forward to the second phase of the program, where we’ll direct our attention to the ultra-poor, or people living at the bottom 10 per cent of the economic pyramid," says program director Babar Kabir. "We are working to eliminate open defecation in Bangladesh.” BRAC is scaling up market-based solutions in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, with most of them developed in its home country of Bangladesh.

A novel idea in a buyer's market

Marketplace Homes, a business that helps people buy new houses by turning their old ones into rental properties managed by the firm, started in the suburbs of Detroit and has now spread to 17 states. The company payroll has increased to 60 employees from 16 in the past year, Fox Small Business Center reports. "The most common client is a growing family," says owner Mike Kalis. "They feel stuck and a lot of times, because of the economy, their old home isn't worth what it used to be worth. We're telling people there is a simple solution of leasing out your home so that they can get into that new home they really need." In order to qualify, a homeowner needs to be cleared for a second mortgage. If you can meet the requirement, Mr. Kalis said, you can take advantage of the buyer's market. Marketplace gets 6-per-cent to 8-per-cent commission from the builders.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Search for the best in the world

Three International finalists from around the world will be chosen for the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Award, and they will receive a free round-trip airline ticket to attend the JCI World Congress to be held in November in Taipei. The prize package also includes a free hotel stay at the congress headquarters hotel, and one free JCI World Congress registration. One finalist will be selected by a panel of international judges as the 2012 JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur: the top creative young entrepreneur in the world.

How to leverage social platforms

Accelerating Growth in our Economic Times is an event for small and medium-sized business owners looking for actionable growth ideas. Attendees will hear from leaders in the social and online space about how they can leverage social platforms and online tools. A panel of small business owners will also be on hand to bring to life the issues affecting business growth in Canada. They will provide firsthand insight into how they’ve tacked obstacles on their way to success. Takes place in Toronto as part of Social Media Week on Feb. 16, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the BMO office at 55 Bloor St. W.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Nip office politics in the bud

Grumbling employees are one thing, but the co-founder and chief executive officer of Toronto-based Dine.TO has suffered the consequences of situations like a former staffer bad-mouthing the business to clients and another trying to spread dissatisfaction with the company’s employee benefits program to others. Our experts weigh in on how to deal with office politics.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Pair Facebook with corporate website

Facebook pages have become popular as a way for companies to establish a stronger presence and engage with the fast-growing Facebook population. Since Facebook pages were introduced in late 2007, millions have been created by large and small companies. The ability to easily update Facebook pages with fresh content – photos, videos, status updates, polls – make them a good complement to corporate websites, which, for the most part, are fairly static. The combination of a Facebook page and a corporate website can provide a company with a solid one-two digital punch to meet the different needs of consumers, Mark Evans wrote in February, 2011.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

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