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Strange Business: The Old Faces of Business Startups

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How much PDA is too much in the office?

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The Old Faces of Business Startups
Source: DLP Corporate

When you hear the word "entrepreneur," you may conjure up an image of a younger individual like Mark Zuckerberg building Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) in Silicon Valley. However, a survey of 1,431 business owners conducted by Kauffman Foundation and LegalZoom reveals a different picture. Most startups -- in fact, approximately 55% of new businesses -- have someone 40 years or older at the helm.

While this is not an overwhelming majority, people have been known to begin slowing down their careers in their 40s. Of the respondents, two-thirds said they used their own money as startup capital. It appears the younger demographic has struggled to raise capital in the down economy.

Romance in the Office

How prevalent are romances at the workplace? Glassdoor, a career and jobs community website, surveyed 1,000 of its users and found that more than half of respondents believe it's okay to be romantically involved with a co-worker, and over one-third have been romantically involved with an officemate. Some couples blur the lines between work and love a little too much, though -- 12% of respondents admit to "making love" in their workplace.

Stop Complaining About Airline Fares

Rising fuel prices over the past few years have caused travelers to grumble about the subsequent rise in airfares, especially as competition decreases and airlines merge like US Airways (NYSE:LCC) and American Airlines (PINK:AAMRQ) recently did. Customers might feel better if they knew airline ticket prices have declined by 50% over the last 30 years, according to the American Enterprise Institute. What's the reason? Deregulation of the industry in 1978 allowed airlines to cut prices. From there, pricing tickets turned into a race to the bottom in an industry that sells services that can't be considered necessities for a large number of people in the same way that food or fuel can. So instead of complaining while looking for deals on Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN), travelers should recall that in 1965 only 20% of people in the US had ever flown on planes because of expensive ticket prices.

A Predictable Alliance

Starbucks
(NASDAQ:SBUX) and the New York Times (NYSE:NYT) reached a deal yesterday: Now coffee drinkers can access fifteen free articles per day on the newspaper's website. When logged onto the Starbucks Digital Networks in US shops, readers may view three articles from five different sections in a 24-hour period.

Spurious Correlations

Should you blame your spoken language as the reasons for your poor savings habits? Keith Chen, a behavioral economist, thinks so. In a paper and TED talk that made headlines recently, he posits that a culture's spoken language can indicate whether or not people will likely plan and save for the future. Specifically, people who speak languages that mark the future tense differently from the present tense -- such as English -- plan and save less for the future because their future selves seem detached due to the influence of his or her language.

Critics have already jumped on the idea, and linguists, such as Sean Roberts, have pointed out that Chen may be committing the classic error of confusing correlation with causation. Roberts agrees a statistical link exists; however, cultural traits tend to be correlated since the traits emanate from the same culture in "bundles." Further investigation will validate or refute Chen's hypothesis as other linguistic variables may be stronger predictors of decision making for the future.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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