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Nancy Black, a personal swim trainer, demonstrates how to complete correct turns while swimming laps on April 28, 2011. (JENNIFER ROBERTS/JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Nancy Black, a personal swim trainer, demonstrates how to complete correct turns while swimming laps on April 28, 2011. (JENNIFER ROBERTS/JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Small Business Briefing

Intense exercise helps you make cool stuff 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

Out of the chair, on to the treadmill

The physical state of our bodies can either serve or subvert the quest to create genius, Fast Company member Jonathan Fields blogs in a recent post.

Life, he says, seems to value output over humanity and the ability to sustain genius, and as a result, attention to health, fitness and exercise almost always take a back seat. But choosing art over health, rather than art fuelled by health, he argues, kills you faster. And it makes the process so much more miserable, leading to poorer, slower, less innovative, and shallower creative output.

What does this have to do with entrepreneurship?

For entrepreneurs, and any other driven creators, exercise is a powerful tool in the quest to help transform uncertainty, fear and anxiety into something less toxic, and potentially into fuel for ideas and business building.

The point, Mr. Fields says, is to apply the lessons from a growing body of research on the therapeutic effect of exercise on anxiety and fear to the often sustained low-level anxiety that rides along with the uncertainty of creation. "Anyone involved in a creative endeavor should tap exercise as a potent elixir to help transform the uncomfortable sensation of anxiety from a source of pain and paralysis into something not only manageable but harnessable."

Exercise, it turns out, especially at higher levels of intensity, is an incredibly potent tool.

But a large number of artists and entrepreneurs, Mr. Fields argues, fail to recognize how much it can help them do what they most want to do: make cool stuff that speaks to a lot of people.

On the bright side, it could have been worse

The U.S.-based National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has released its September small-business confidence report, and while the news isn't bad, it isn't good either. The index gained 0.8 points, which ends a six-month decline, but according to the report's authors "about the only good thing to say about it is that the Index didn't go down." The net percent of owners expecting real sales to improve became "less negative" by 6 points, "rising" to a negative 6 per cent. The net percent of owners expecting better business conditions in six months "rose" 4 points to a negative 22 per cent, "not exactly a euphoric development." The future for small-business sales remains weak south of the border, the employment picture remains bleak, and fewer owners are investing in their businesses.

Entrepreneurs are 'the secret sauce'

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Pittsburgh Tuesday to rally the public behind a jobs bill that faces a hostile opposition in Congress, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, America Online founder Steve Case and others are hosting a separate event on the city's South Side with about 40 entrepreneurs. The session will focus on high-growth entrepreneurship, and it comes a week after Mr. Ravenstahl announced a partnership with business leaders and the university community to foster growth in the city. Mr. Case, co-chair of the Obama administration's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and chairman of the Startup America Partnership, says his message to the president will be that entrepreneurs are "the secret sauce" of economic growth.


Cast your vote in worldwide competition

The People’s Choice is a category in the Prince's Youth Business International (YBI) Entrepreneur of the Year competition in which anyone around the world can vote for their favourite entrepreneur. The nine finalists are drawn from YBI members across the globe, from Canada to Bhutan, Britain and India. Check out the films and head to the bottom of the page to cast your vote.

Enterprising Minds want to know

Blackberry Innovation Forums will be held over the next two months in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Enterprising companies discuss and share what motivates and inspires them in their work and operations. The first event was held in Johannesburg on Oct. 6, and you can view a video with Rory O’Neill, VP of marketing EMEA at RIM talking about this year’s theme: Enterprising Minds. Regular updates from the events will be posted online, and you can follow @BBEMEABusiness on Twitter for updates, or join the conversation with the #BIF11 hashtag.


The importance of gross margin

One of the most important statistics predicting the likelihood that a startup will survive is its gross margin: how much money is left over to cover operating expenses after paying the hard costs of what it sells. The fatter your gross margin, the more mistakes you can afford to make in figuring out your business model. In his continuing 'reality' series with Ugi Fitness, columnist John Warrillow was disappointed to see the company offer a $25 price discount for its “Ugi at Home System” as a reaction to supply problems delaying customer shipments. He argues it will tap their cash resources even further.


Seven generations and counting

Consulting giant McKinsey & Co. has estimated that just one-third of family businesses make it to the third generation of family leadership. The Macgregor/Wicksons clan, owners of Macgregors Meat & Seafood Ltd., a $100-million-plus Canadian business, has survived and thrived through seven generations of family ownership. To find out how the Macgregors pulled it off, check out Mr. Warrillow's Q&A with co-presidents, brothers Duncan Jr., 38, and Don, 43, who in August, 2010, discussed their success and some of the ins-and-outs of running a family company.

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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