9 Reasons Business Owners Hate the Holidays

Run a small business? Then you’re keeping a big secret. C’mon … fess up. It’s about the holidays.

Sure, December is a festive, wonderful, joyous month. You’re not completely insensitive to the meaning of the season. You can party with the best, soak up the goodwill, and wipe away a tear when Will Ferrell gets everyone in New York to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

You love Christmas time! At least that’s what you tell everyone.

But deep down inside, behind that smile plastered on your face and your wishes of “peace on earth” and “happy holidays” there’s something else you’re feeling. It’s panic. For a business owner, the holidays churn up fears and bring out the worst of your financial anxieties. You know this is true. And you know the reasons why:

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Longtime Aramark Chairman Joseph Neubauer Stepping Down

Joesph Neubauer accepts the 2012 Philadelphia Award. Photo | HughE Dillon

Joesph Neubauer accepts the 2012 Philadelphia Award. Photo | HughE Dillon

In a statement yesterday, Aramark announced that Joseph Neubauer, the company’s longtime chairman of the board, intends to step down from that role after 30 years. Eric Foss, who succeeded Neubauer as the company’s president and CEO in 2012, has been elected by the company’s board of directors to be the new chairman.

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Four Reasons Philly Business Will Find Things Tougher Next Year

So far, the outlook for 2015 is pretty good. Most experts are predicting a continued economic strengthening with even one member of the Federal Reserve saying Monday that the “dreary days” of the economy may be over. The Hartford says both small- and medium-sized businesses are “successful” and “optimistic” about next year. Additional surveys of businesses conducted by Sage, Principal, ADP, PNC and others confirm the same: increased financial strength, growth and optimism as we head into the new year. Seems like good times ahead.

Uh … except for businesses in Philadelphia. Here, we face a few unique challenges. Challenges that may mean 2015 (and 2016) may not be so good. If you’re running a business in or around the city, be careful of these four potential bumps in the road.

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Picking the Right Husband for Your Career

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In the modern age, finding someone with whom we can share the rest of our lives is about so much more than butterflies and the sweetness of true love. With people jamming so much into their busy lives, compatibility is also about the achievement of personal and professional goals, and aligning with someone who can help make those goal attainable — or, at least, not get in the way.

For reasons fair and unfair, children are often cited as a roadblock that can inhibit the progression of a woman’s professional ascent. There is, of course, the professional pushback on women who decided to have children — their careers are maligned by fewer opportunities and less pay.

But a new study by Harvard Business School’s Robin Ely and Colleen Ammerman and Hunter College sociologist Pamela Stone suggest it’s not the children online who are the problem. It’s the partners that women choose.

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5 Ways Businesses Will Profit From Philly’s Coming Energy Boom

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Did you hear? An economic boom is quietly and slowly happening in Philadelphia.

“With little fanfare,” this report from last weekend says, “Philadelphia is undergoing a revolution powered by the U.S. energy renaissance. Renewed investment and activity in the region’s sprawling railway network and aging infrastructure is turning the City of Brotherly Love into a potential energy hub that some believe can rival Houston.”

Just this past month daily crude oil output in the U.S. topped 9 million barrels for the first time since March of 1986, and as Patrick Kerkstra wrote in this must-read Philly Mag piece: “The spoils of the Marcellus Shale gas fields will gush into the core of the city and its suburbs through broad new pipelines. Gargantuan processing facilities, built with billions of dollars of global capital, will rise like steel stalagmites along the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. New factories — lured by the abundant low-cost energy the pipelines provide — will hire thousands of working-class residents to make plastic, steel, cement and countless consumer goods. Air pollution will increase, but so will the local GDP, as energy traders and executives fill up downtown office buildings.”

Our city happens to be in the right spot with the right infrastructure. We’re a hop and a larger skip away from the shale oil fields of Western Pennsylvania and North Dakota, respectively, and located smack in the middle of the populous and energy-hungry East Coast. There are thousands of acres of industrial space along both rivers just waiting to be built and re-built. There are huge refineries already in operation near the airport and in Marcus Hook and other refineries and holding facilities in Trainer and Hunting Park. We’ve got the right rail connections and large ports. We’ve even got Patti Labelle, and she’s a national treasure.

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The President Is Wrong on Net Neutrality: The Internet Needs Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes

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You’re staying at a hotel. You get online. When you log in, you’re given a choice: You can use the free Internet service that the hotel provides or you can pay extra for “faster downloads.” Like me, you’re a cheapskate, so you choose free. And it works fine … most of the time. But how about first thing in the morning when you’re checking your email? Or maybe right after dinner? Notice something? Yeah, you did — it’s slower. Much slower. And I’m sure you can guess why. Every user of the free service who’s waking up or getting back to their rooms from the conference you’re attending are all complaining about the boring keynote speaker … .and checking their email. And because you’re all sharing the same, free service you’re all suffering from slower performance.

Welcome to net neutrality.

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What Taylor Swift Could Learn From Uber About Spotify

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I was in Las Vegas this week and the taxi driver taking me to the airport asked me what I thought of Uber, the company whose ride sharing service UberX is currently invading Philadelphia. Apparently, the company is also setting its sights on Vegas. After I told him (I’m a fan of the service), I asked him what he thought of Uber. He said, “I’m not entirely sure, but things are always changing in this world and we have to change with them.” Smart guy.

Which brings me to Taylor Swift.

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Philadelphia + a Pipeline (or Two) = America’s Next Energy Hub

The PES refinery in South Philly. Photograph by Jonathan Barkat

The PES refinery in South Philly. Photograph by Jonathan Barkat

About 1,400 miles from Philadelphia, at the northern edge of the Louisiana bayou, lies a spaghetti junction of steel tubing called Henry Hub, where 13 natural-gas pipelines converge amid farmland and little else. The nearest town, Erath, population 2,100, is about four miles away.

Gas from all over the country flows through the Henry Hub. Even gas extracted from drill pads just 100 miles or so from Philadelphia — gas sucked from the almost unfathomably rich reserves of the Marcellus Shale — is often pumped to distant Louisiana before making the long, and expensive, return trip to homes and businesses in Philadelphia.

Apart from Henry Hub, this section of Louisiana is probably best known for the bizarre cautionary tale of extraction run amok at nearby Lake Peigneur. There, in 1980, an oil crew dug too deep, puncturing a hole in a working salt mine that lay beneath the lake bed. As water rushed into the mine, a swirling vortex formed on the lake surface, swallowing two drilling platforms and 11 barges. The suction reversed the flow of a canal leading to the Gulf of Mexico, and within a few hours, a shallow fishing hole had turned into a 1,300-foot-deep saltwater lake.
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Construction Firm Moving Headquarters to Philadelphia

Hill International Inc., an international construction firm, is relocating its headquarters from New Jersey to Philadelphia, and expects to create more than 200 jobs here.

Area Development Online reports:

The company has leased nearly 60,000 square feet at One Commerce Square, located at 2005 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia, to serve as its global corporate headquarters, moving the site from southern New Jersey and merging with its existing office in the city.

As an incentive, the company received a funding proposal from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development including a $1 million Pennsylvania First Program grant that facilitates investment and job creation, $666,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits and $33,750 in WEDnetPA funding which will be used for skills training for both new and incumbent employees. Hill International has accepted the funding proposal, but must still apply for each program prior to award receipt.

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