Small business weekly: Why looks matter

A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a special focus on Washington.

Small businesses split on wage hike: A new poll by the left-leaning advocacy group Small Business Majority found that a majority (57 percent) of small-business owners nationwide support the president’s push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as many think the move will boost consumer spending. Conversely, a survey of small firms by Express Employment Services showed that one in five would be forced to cut workers, and half said they would raise prices if lawmakers raised the wage floor. (NL/NA)

For male entrepreneurs, appearance matters: A new study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal suggests that attractive men are more likely to raise venture capital for their start-ups than both women and their not-so-handsome male counterparts. Historically, the authors of the study say, fewer than 10 percent of VC dollars have gone to women, though that rate has ticked up of late. (WP)

Black business owners missing out on federal loans:Small business with black owners borrowed 8.2 percent of loan money backed by the Small Business Administration in the years leading up to the recession, representing 11 percent of the total number of loans. That number has now fallen to 2.3 percent of total loans, with black small-business owners receiving only 1.7 percent of loan dollars backed by the SBA. (WSJ)

Another lender expands to small businesses: Lending Club, one of the largest online peer-to-peer lending services for consumer borrowers, is expanding to facilitate small-business loans. The company will evaluate a company’s performance and set interest rates it deems appropriate, and then individual investors can chip in to fund the loans. The platform will offer loans for between $15,000 and $100,000. (WSJ)

GE unveils temporary space for inventors in D.C.:GE on Friday opened a downtown workspace for inventors, engineers and hackers to come design and build new manufacturing tools and “intelligent” (software-driven) devices. Open through April 9, the “GE Garage,” as its called, will also host several entrepreneurial education sessions and panal discussions with local investors. (TC)

Local chipmaker carves out a niche: Route 11 Potato Chips, a small Virginia chippery, has been cooking up Kettle-style cult favorites for decades and has carved out a niche in what has become a $9 billion per year industry. However, with competition from leaders like Frito-Lays, keeping up hasn’t come without its challenges. (AP)

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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