Small Business News
Pinterest users are primed and ready to buy. If you're not yet marketing to them, you should. Get started with these tips.
No time or resources to create or enhance your presence on Pinterest? I have a few stats that might just change your mind.
According to Sprout Insights, Pinterest's share of social-media referrals soared from .68 percent to a whopping 26 percent in just one year, generating more than 400 percent more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 percent more than Facebook. Do you want to increase the likelihood of a purchase? Well, then you should know that shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to follow through with a purchase than visitors from other social networking sites. Pure and simple: Pinterest can be the star of your social-media sales and marketing efforts.
But remember: The members of your social-media audience don't want to feel as if they're being pitched. They are not there to be sold to; they are there to connect, learn, and relax. So make sure to offer creativity and value in your pins: humor, statistics, interesting facts, and beauty. Pinterest is about the senses; if your visuals aren't appealing to the eye and your words don't stimulate the imagination, your followers will move on.
Below, I've created a quick resources and how-to guide for Pinterest success. Begin by creating your business account. If you have a personal account, you can convert it to a business account. You'll find an analytics tool and other great business features to support your campaign. When you are ready to begin pinning, download the Pinterest button from the goodies page and place it on your website.
But first, you'll want to create a list of ideas and a collection of fabulous pins--your Pinterest plan. Here are a few ideas, tips, and resources:Share infographics and checklists.
What are some interesting facts about your industry, consumer habits, or your product or service? If you are a coach or consultant--Pinterest isn't just for product companies, you know--create a colorful infographic about productivity or procrastination. If you are a florist, gather statistics on the most popular flowers, occasions for gifting, and other interesting tidbits about your industry.
Checklists are fun, too. A cleaning service could post a handy spring-cleaning checklist. Or how about a "things we need for the new baby" checklist created by a nanny service or baby-furniture retailer?
Make sure your images are pleasing to the eye and evoke emotion. Use enticing words and phrases that engage the senses. If you are pinning food, use words that make people hungry, such as succulent or mouth-watering. If you're pinning accessories for women, use words that make women feel sexy, stylish, and beautiful.Teach with tutorials.
DIY ideas are hugely popular. Tutorials rank high for click-throughs and traffic generation. These, too, can be in the form of a checklist, infographic, or even video. What do you teach or manufacture? Create a stripped-down version to generate interest and get your audience engaged.Engage with videos.
When you think Pinterest, you're most likely to think pictures, but videos are one of the highest forms of engagement on the site. Pin your videos from YouTube, and get plenty of mileage out of them.Use a call to action.
Everyone loves a bargain. Create a cool background image and overlay a coupon code or special offer. A call to action increases engagement by 80 percent, so include text like: Click Here, Repin This, or Comment Below. Make sure to include a link that makes it easy to buy the product.Grab them with teaser text.
Create interest and curiosity with teasers like "five tips to a stress-free day" or "how to build your own chicken coop." Use attractive background images with eye-catching colors.Boost your SEO.
Pinterest helps rank in search-engine optimization, so make sure to get your account ranked for keywords. Pinterest has a root domain that ranks high with Google. Use keywords in the About section, on pins, in board titles, captions, and links (type in a URL in the image description area). Also use hashtags.
If you add prices to your caption with the $ sign and a numeric value, it indexes you into Pinterest's popular Gifts category.Schedule your pins.
You may be accustomed to scheduling your social updates. Not to worry; you can do the same on Pinterest with Pingraphy. Schedule a good number of your pins during the high-traffic times on Pinterest, which are early in the morning and late at night, with Saturday morning ranking top of the list.
Both employees and employers benefit from the innovation that comes with valuing team democracy.
The tech giant announced plans to release a software kit that will help developers create Android-based wearable devices.
Google is throwing its weight into the wearable-technology space, potentially opening up opportunities for developers.
At the South by Southwest conference in Austin on Sunday, Google senior vice president Sundar Pichai announced that in two weeks the tech company will release an Android-based software development kit for wearable device makers. The company also announced plans to release its own smartwatch--manufactured by LG Electronics--in June, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The software kit will offer developers outside the Google ecosystem a "playbook" of sorts to follow in making wearable devices.
In his announcement, Pichai said that Google hopes to get feedback from developers on the software kit before unveiling its smartwatch later in the year. The move could also be a way for the tech giant to identify and attract new developer talent, the Journal reported.
Don't be the jerk who derails and lengthens meetings beyond the point of usefulness.
Meetings can be a huge time suck. That's why it's in everyone's best interest to do all they can to keep them productive. Want to do your part? Stop saying these eight unproductive things:1. Let me give you some feedback on that...
Feedback in and of itself isn't a bad thing--when it's constructive, feedback helps the group get to a better solution. But most of the time when someone says they want to give feedback, it's another name for a takedown of the idea in question. If you're not willing to offer some solutions and move the discussion forward, keep your feedback to yourself.2. I already sent you an email.
Face-to-face discussions are invaluable, so letting someone know you already communicated by email is not that effective. Instead of implying the person should read their email more closely, just go ahead and summarize the topic right then.3. That's a secondary issue.
This phrase comes up often in meetings. I'm all for prioritizing tasks, but the term "secondary" is dismissive--it makes me wonder: secondary to what? To someone in accounting or marketing, it might be a high priority. And just because some topic isn't the highest priority, that doesn't mean it should be dismissed out of hand.4. No one agrees with you on that.
A meeting isn't supposed to be a playground tussle. When someone uses this phrase in a meeting, be on your guard. While it may be true, it's possible that the person who came up with the idea is actually onto something. In fact, sometimes the best ideas are those that everyone thinks will fail miserably. If anything, pay a little extra attention to ideas no one likes.5. There are no bad ideas.
While you shouldn't necessarily dismiss an idea no one likes, there are such things as bad ideas. There's a reason why Steve Jobs famously used to question why people were at his meetings. Sometimes, bad ideas come from people who shouldn't be there. Making employees feel too comfortable in expressing any idea that comes to mind could lead to a lot of unnecessary discussion.6. I'm in charge here.
I've heard this one more than a few times. It's a way to exert control over the attendees, dismiss ideas, and maybe try to get things back on track. Yet it's a major red flag. It means the person uttering that phrase is feeling out of control, or that the meeting isn't really intended as an open forum for discussion.7. Let's find a real expert.
Meetings are for open dialogue. Insisting that no one present is qualified enough to provide the right perspective almost immediately shuts down discussion. Sure, you might have some scenarios in which it would be helpful to have an outside perspective, but announce this at your own risk. It's easy to sound like the jerk who doubts everyone's credentials.8. Let's have a follow-up meeting.
I've always hated this one. It means the meeting you're in right now isn't a good use of time. I prefer when someone says a follow-up meeting won't be necessary because the person responsible for resolving an issue is going to update everyone.
Have a few to add yourself? Disagree with these? Post in comments.
A roundup of the day's business news curated by the Inc. editorial team.1. Look Out, Mama
This week, Neil Young will begin taking pre-orders for his high-quality, $399 iPod competitor called the PonoPlayer. If it's successful, the "high-resolution digital music" device could offer a lesson in how startups can compete with the likes of Apple on quality.--The Verge2. Takin' It to the Streets
Nasty Gal, the fast-growing e-commerce site for young women's fashion, is expanding into bricks-and-mortar stores sometime this year. Much like Warby Parker, the online eyeglasses seller, and Bonobos, the men's clothing site, startups are finding physical stores can inform customers' purchase decisions just as much as online browsing.--Inc.3. Tethered
Gogo demonstrated its new text-messaging app at SXSW in Austin--or more precisely, in a jet thousands of feet above it. For better or for worse, soon you may be able to stay in touch with your office and business contacts by text while flying.--Adweek4. A Better Box
The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has reignited debate about black-box technology and why a more advanced solution is not already the industry standard.--The Guardian5. Gender Stereotypes
It turns out men aren't from Mars and women aren't from Venus: neuroscientist professor Gina Rippon of Aston University says science shows male and female brains are essentially the same. "There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology," Rippon says. It's time to put an end to those stereotypes in the office that assume women have inherently better social skills and men naturally have better perceptive abilities.--Telegraph
If they're going to leave, you should at least know why.
Any Silicon Valley hiring manager will tell you that engineering talent is rare and valuable. And we all know the true cost of turnover is far greater than your balance sheet may suggest. So it stands to reason that you should understand why your top technical hires are most likely to leave.
That's the premise behind a new Glassdoor survey that asked 1,400 software engineers this critical question: What are the top reasons you would leave your job?
The top five responses--and the percentage of engineers who gave them--were as follows:
1. Compensation: 78 percent (though it should be noted that more than half of the engineers said they would take less money to work in a great culture or for a great brand)
2. Career growth opportunites: 76 percent
3. Type of work: 58 percent
4. Company culture: 53 percent
5. Location and commute: 41 percent
The corporate defenses against some of these risks are stronger than others. It's no shock that raises and promotions are powerful HR levers. But things like type of work and company culture are less flexible, at least in the short term--and speak more to the cultural fit between the employee in question and your company.
The silver lining? Software engineers aren't terrified of sunlight after all. Only 12 percent said frequency of required travel would cause them to leave.
Check out this infographic for more of Glassdoor's findings:
As you prepare to sell your business, consider these key numbers as indicators of how financially successful your exit will be.
Facebook recently made news when it acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. That's a lot of money. It left many wondering how Facebook could justify spending that much for a messaging-app startup.
But despite rampant speculation about Facebook's motives, you can bet that its decision ultimately boiled down to numbers. Facebook evaluated a set of key metrics that are important to the company and determined that WhatsApp was worth the investment.
Although the dollar valuations are a lot lower for sellers of small and midsize businesses, buyers in the business-for-sale market place a similar emphasis on numbers. In fact, there are at least six important numbers that business sellers need to consider when they prepare to market their companies to potential buyers. They are:1. Revenue
Gross revenue is a major concern for business buyers. When buyers evaluate potential business acquisitions, annual revenue totals help them gauge the size and potential of the business, as well as its relative position within the industry.
As a business seller, it's important to show a trend of positive revenue growth. A top-line growth curve creates confidence that the buyer will be able to generate sales and revenue after the business changes hands. In many cases, a positive revenue trend can justify a higher sale price--especially if you can demonstrate a significant amount of recurring revenue.2. Seller's Discretionary Earnings
Seller's Discretionary Earnings (SDE) speak to the cash flow of the business and represent net income before taxes, interest, depreciation, amortization, owner's income, owner's benefits, and nonrecurring expenses.
A figure that's often associated with Seller's Discretionary Earnings is EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization). However, EBITDA is usually only used in larger mergers-and-acquisitions deals. Business with earnings below $1 million and sales prices in the $2 million and under range tend to use SDE.
Discretionary Earnings averages over the past three to five years matter to buyers because they provide a realistic gauge of the financial benefit a new owner can expect to receive from the business on an annual basis.3. Earnings Multiple
Seller's Discretionary Earnings directly affect business valuation by way of an Earnings Multiple. Most Main Street businesses ultimately sell for a price that's one to four times the annual Sellers Discretionary Earnings figure.
Of course, Earnings Multiples vary according to the attractiveness and appeal of the business that's being sold. Some of the factors that justify a higher multiple include business performance, financial records, product line, recurring revenue, brand reputation, competitive position, key staff that will remain with the business, and other variables that make it easier for a new owner to successfully operate the company.4. Valuation
The valuation of most listed businesses is based on cash flow or Seller's Discretionary Earnings modified by an Earnings Multiple, plus the cost of inventory and real estate assets.
If the valuation figure is too high or too low, it can easily jeopardize your ability to sell the business in a profitable and timely manner. Since business sellers often lack the expertise and objectivity to accurately value their companies, the assistance of an experienced business broker is critical during this stage of the process. A good broker will also use comparable sales of similar businesses when determining the appropriate valuation for your business.5. Asking Price
The determination of an asking price is one of the last challenges to be addressed prior to listing. The idea is to identify an asking price that is competitive with other listings and will attract a significant number of qualified buyers, but not so low that it will be impossible to realize full valuation at closing.
Based on the thousands of closed small business transactions that are reported on BizBuySell.com each year, the average business ultimately sells for 87 percent of the asking price. Again, your business broker's expertise will be essential in setting the right asking price for your company.6. Net After-Tax Sale Proceeds
Net After-Tax Sale Proceeds is another number that should be on the radar of all business sellers. Since a certain portion of sale proceeds may be required to go to the government in the form of taxes, it's important to know the amount you will clear when you walk away from the sale.
The good news is that there are various strategies that can be used to minimize or defer taxes, resulting in a larger portion of sale proceeds going into your pocket at closing. Common tax minimization strategies include delaying the receipt of sale proceeds, converting from a C Corp to an S Corp or LLC, transferring stock to family members, structuring asset purchases to obtain a more favorable capital-gains treatment and using trusts to reduce estate taxes. Consult with your business broker and/or a tax-planning specialist to determine how to maximize the proceeds from the sale of your business.
Selling a business isn't just about the numbers--it's a combination of art and science. But by understanding the numbers that matter to potential buyers, you can better position your business for a smooth selling process.
The age old crime of embezzlement is alive and well, and so are other white-collar crimes. Here's how to protect yourself.
Maybe your idea of embezzlement comes from the 1960s thriller film Psycho, when Janet Leigh drives off into a blinding rainstorm after rooking the real estate office where she works of $40,000. As she makes her getaway, her boss thinks she's depositing the cash in the bank. We all know how that story ends.
For John Tschohl, president of Service Quality Institute, of Bloomington, Minnesota, much of his own embezzlement story echoes the famed noir film (minus the gory shower scene). And like the Hitchcock film, his own experience with embezzlement will haunt him forever.
At Service Quality Institute, Tschohl and his team of eight staffers, whom he trusted implicity, provide customer service-training programs for other businesses. The42-year-old company has about $2 million in annual revenue. For two years, starting in 2011, an employee stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his business. Tschohl never saw it coming. And he's unlikely to ever see a dime of that money.
Yes, embezzlement and other white-collar crimes are alive and well in the U.S., and small businesses need to protect themselves against them just as much today as 50 years ago. While extreme, Tschohl's experience is illustrative of the kind of malfeasance that even the most aware business owners fall prey to.
And it's particularly important to keep vigilant, as white-collar crimes can go on for a long time before they are discovered, often taking months or years for investigators to gather the evidence they need to simply get rid of the perpetrator. Many embezzlers never wind up in jail, often because of the personal relationships they have with you or other key management, and the money they steal is rarely recovered.
"Never trust anyone, never," Tschohl says. It's a sad lesson to learn.
For Tschohl, the final tip-off came when his bookkeeper, a woman who had worked for the company for five years, whom he trusted so completely he gave her authority of accounting, bank accounts, and check signing, handed him a hand-written note. Tschohl knew his company had just received a $48,000 wire transfer from a client, but he couldn't see it anywhere in the company books.
Tschohl had asked the bookkeeper to provide information about the transaction while he made afternoon phone calls. A few minutes later, she presented him with the note, giving him details about the wire, rather than the printed spreadsheet he expected.
"I kept asking about it, and I was not seeing where the wire was going," Tschohl said. "It raised my suspicions."
Two days later, while Tschohl and his employees were enjoying themselves at the company picnic, on his boat on Lake Minnetonka, Tschohl instructed his accountant to go to the company's empty office and review the books. It didn't take him long to discover lots of irregularities, including recent changes to vendor accounts, double payments of the bookkeeper's salary, and checks she'd written out to herself for thousands of dollars. The magnitude of the scheme began to unfold upon closer inspection. It turns out the bookkeeper had been embezzling about $20,000 a month from the business for close to two years. All told, the losses to Tschohl are about $330,000, he estimates, much of it lost to gambling sprees at casinos on a nearby reservation.
"I had a minor heart attack," Tschohl says. "I am a small business owner and that is real money."
Unfortunately, Tschohl is not alone, either in Minnesota or the nation in general.Fraud's Snapshot
About $3.5 trillion of corporate fraud happens annually worldwide, about 60 percent of which occurs in the U.S., according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in its 2012 global fraud study, its most recent.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation pursued 726 cases of corporate fraud in 2011, compared to 529 in 2007, an increase of 37 percent, according to the FBI's most recent numbers.
Asset misappropriation, which includes embezzlement, makes up about nearly 90 percent of white-collar crimes, according ACFE. And it's costly. The median loss for frauds committed by owners or executives is $573,000, while the median loss caused by managers is $180,000 and the median loss caused by employees is $60,000, ACFE finds.
The consequences of white-collar crime can be particularly threatening for you and your small business.
"Smaller companies are dealing with a number of factors that might create a perfect storm for impropriety in their ranks," says Eric Yaffe, co-chair of white-collar investigations at Gray Plant Mooty, a law firm in Washington D.C. "They have less money and don’t necessarily have funds to take steps to prevent criminal activity, like lawyers and compliance experts and other personnel, who might help them."
In Tschohl's part of the country, corporate crimes are quite common, says Cory Cardenas, a detective with the Bloomington Police Department who investigated Tschohl's case and scores more like it over the past decade. The city is ideally situated near the Mayo Clinic, the Mall of America, and the Twin Cities. So it has thriving service and retail industry. To Cardenas, Tschohl's case is a cookie-cutter example of the other white-collar crimes he's seen.
"She was the stereotypical bookkeeper working for the typical business that uses Quickbooks for finances, and they trusted her," Cardenas says. "She was the vice president and a manager, and essentially she was a one-stop shop."
Cardenas and other experts say there is usually a specific personality associated with embezzlement. Generally speaking, they can tend to be a little arrogant and have a big feeling of entitlement.
More specifically, perpetrators tend to be better-educated than the average, often with a college education, ACFE's research indicates, and they often live beyond their means, as can be witnessed by fancy cars that exceed salary level, or other extravagances. In fact, Cardenas says, a financial crisis, like overwhelming debts, can often kick would-be embezzlers into action.Little Recourse
Unfortunately, your prospects of recovering assets once the crime has been discovered are next to nil, experts say. Part of the reason is that it usually takes a long time to discover what's happened--about 18 months, according to ACFE. After that, depending on the complexity of the crime, it can take months or even years to gather enough evidence to prove the crime.
"In order to have a solid fraud examination, you need someone who is unbiased," James Ratley, chief executive of ACFE says. " Never let the employee know they are suspected of anything and bring in a professional."
That includes conducting a financial audit, rounding up all the appropriate documents from banks and other financial institutions, obtaining search warrants, and then waiting for a usually overworked state district attorney to prosecute the case, assuming you decide to go to trial.
"Your case has to be tied up with a nice bow," Cardenas says.
Still, nearly two thirds of white-collar crimes like embezzlement wind up in court, ACFE reports, and more than half of those cases plead guilty or no-contest. But nearly half of cases result in no recovery of losses because the money has been spent.
In Tschohl's case, the bookkeeper took out cash via checks made out to herself, and then spent the cash in casinos that aren't liable for the losses.Prevention Is Paramount
Fortunately there's plenty you can do to prevent such white-collar crimes from happening.
Start by conducting a thorough background check of your employees before you hire them, including an examination of criminal records. Tschohl didn't do that. If he had, he might have discovered, as Cardenas soon did, that his bookkeeper had been dismissed from her previous job because of credit card fraud.
Even more important, never give one person total control of your books and your finances. Make sure you divide those tasks up, and set up a system of checks and balances, preferably with two to three people. Tschohl says now he's the only one who signs checks for the business, which forces him to review everything before it's sent out. Other experts, like Ratley, say you can make your environment even safer by assigning one person to bookkeeping, one person to accounts receivable and payable, and another person to signing the checks.
Regularly review all of your bank statements, Tschohl advises, and conduct a full audit of your books every year. While the total sum of these safety precautions could cost you several hundred to several thousand dollars a year, it's much better than losing a crippling sum of money by letting things slide.
"Many small business owners are very trusting people who are doing their jobs and creating their businesses," Tschohl says. "The point is there are many people who will rip you off left and right."
The founder of the subversive fashion brand explains her improbable rise and her 'no assholes' leadership style.
"I never expected to end up the CEO of what's now a corporation," NastyGal founder Sophia Amoruso said today at South by Southwest before a mainstage audience. "It was my full intent as a teenager to smash capitalism and eat dumpster food. It's been one hell of a ride."
In a wide-ranging interview with Inc. Senior Writer Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Amoruso talked about her improbable rise to creating and leading an innovative fashion retailer and the keys to her success. Among them: trust in her aesthetic instincts, a natural affinity for social media, and knowing how to surround herself with the right people.Angst and Anarchism
After launching as an eBay store selling vintage items, NastyGal became a standalone ecommerce destination in 2007 and quickly pivoted from selling vintage to selling subversively sexy new clothing to 18-to-24-year-old city girls, Amoruso explained. By 2011, the company collected $24 million in revenue, and that number reached a reported $100 million in 2012, landing Amoruso on Inc.'s 2013 30 Under 30 List.
Before all that, she was "a pretty angsty teenager who frequented anarchist book fairs," she said. Her first job was as a Subway Sandwich Artist. Other jobs included selling stolen books on Amazon and working the security desk at a San Francisco art academy. During that last job, she spent a lot of time on MySpace, the reigning social network at the time, and noticed a lot of people promoting their eBay stores selling vintage items.
"I could do that," she thought. At the time, she was 22 years old and wore nothing but vintage clothing herself. She knew where to buy good stuff at lower prices than her would-be competitors, and realized she had a good sense for what would sell and how much to charge.Talk to Them Where They Are
Through Myspace and eventually other emerging social-media channels, she was able to amass a large following at zero cost. "What people pay for on Facebook today I figured out how to do for free," she said. "I had 60,000 friends on MySpace."
"I grew up on the Internet, and it seemed like the natural thing to do," she added. Customer service, never her strong suit in traditional retail jobs, became another benefit of Amoruso's early social-media strategy. "It was easy for me in my bathrobe to provide really great customer service. As an introvert it's really much easier to do than when standing in a retail store."Don't Tolerate Assholes
Today Amoruso is the boss of 300 employees in Los Angeles. "Day by day, week by week," she watched her company grow and developed as a manager simply by being closely involved at every level, because she didn't have co-founders. Through experience she learned, however, that "there are some things that to get it right, you can't control everything."
She learned to "hire people and trust them," she said. "I'm really good at hiring good people. If they want to work for a female-led company that's venture-backed, the opportunity here is way cooler than that." She looks instead for people who understand that NastyGal is building a unique brand that disrupts the way sex appeal is used to market to women.
As a manager, she follows a strict "no assholes" policy. "I have fired someone on the spot for being an asshole," she said. "It's an office full of girls, and no one is bitchy. It's just not OK.”What's Next
Amoruso has written a book, #GirlBoss, that talks about her leadership style and will hit stores later this year.
In the next year, NastyGal has its sights on a move from being a retailer to a full fashion brand. Amoruso plans to launch a line of shoes, clothing, lingerie, swimwear, and home design.
A physical retail store is planned to follow that. Amoruso is seeking to bring her "community into the store, bring our tech into the stores. Being online first, we can do that in a way that others can't. Most retailers are bogged down with legacy systems that will take them five years to replace."
At SXSW, Wharton professor and author Jonah Berger shared what 10 years of research taught him about word of mouth.
On the second day of South by Southwest Interactive hoards of hungover techies and early birds streamed into the Hilton Austin to hear marketing expert and Wharton School professor Jonah Berger.
Berger's talk centered around something rather old school: Word of mouth.
The topic is a passionate one for Berger. Before his talk, Berger told me over coffee that he's not so sure about the of-the-moment advertising strategies often positioned as the only way business owners--especially small-business owners--can expand their brand and engage consumers. "Word of mouth is still very powerful," he added.
In a crowded conference room of about 300 people, Berger unleashed example after example of big brands that have succeeded--or failed--in generating word of mouth, and which strategies can work for you.Why Word of Mouth
"Word of mouth is 10 times more effective than traditional ad," he said.
Why? Because consumers don't trust ads--even ads with beloved celebrities. "When I see Joe Montana doing an ad for Sketcher Shape Up sneakers, I don't think of Sketchers, I think what's going wrong with Joe these days?" Consumers, he argued, trust their friends.
Another interesting point: He reminded the audience that, according to his research, only 7 percent of word of mouth is online. So the best way to understand word of mouth is to understand people in real-life settings.
Berger's book Contagious outlines six well-researched, data-backed reasons that people share information with other people. In his talk, Berger took a deep dive on a few.Social Currency
Berger defines social currency as having access that, in turn, gives a person value.
He outlined this using a dive hot-dog restaurant in New York City. In the back of this well-worn, no-fuss place is a phone booth, where the rotary phone accesses the host of a swanky secret bar behind the wall. It's called Please Don't Tell.
"This place makes people feel like insiders, and when people feel like insiders, they tell their friends because they feel cool," he added.
An easy way to think about it: Parties. "Parties have the same effect," he said. "There's a list, you have to rsvp…it's access to something exclusive and the people there will share that."
What's more, consider what's happening at SXSW. "You all are tweeting about South by, and the South by brand is along for the ride."
Another way to think of social currency is through identity. Berger says that from the clothes someone buys to the car they drive, choices communicate information. A minivan, for example, says: Soccer mom.
So for businesses, get in the mind of your consumer and understand the social implication of your product. If you understand that, you'll be more likely to succeed when coming up with a word of mouth strategy.Triggers
One simple element of word of mouth is a trigger.
Berger used the Geico "hump day" camel ad, that features a snarky camel walking around an office asking people on a Wednesday what the day was.
"It's not a particularly clever ad, but it did really well," he said. "When I looked at the data further, there was a spike on social chatter…every Wednesday. People talked about that ad on Wednesday because they were reminded of it."
Another example is the ephemeral McRibb sandwich from McDonald's. Since consumers never know when it's coming, when it does arrive, it triggers a chain reaction that spikes the word of mouth.
In other words: If it's top of mind, it will be talked about.
If talent is so important, why aren't more companies investing in leadership development?
Here's an interesting contradiction: According to a survey from executive team consultancy Gap International, executives overwhelmingly agree that talent can make or break a company; yet only a minority actually say they invest in leadership development programs.
How important is maximizing a company's talent? Very, said 85 percent of execs surveyed. In addition, 83 percent said the same of empowering employees to succeed. The problem: the "maximization" bar is set too low.
Only 37 percent of leaders surveyed said they believe their employees can become top performers. What's more, less than half said they would "invest innovation efforts" in leadership development or employee performance training this year.
That data points to a disconnect between how employers think and how they act regarding talent development. If it's really that important, why aren't more companies investing in leadership training programs?
Gap International CEO Pontish Yeramyan says this disconnect is understandable. She tells Inc that leadership development programs often just don't work very well; the ROI is not clear, so companies don't invest much effort or money into them. Before companies can invest serious energy into leadership development, they must put plans in place that guarantee strong outcomes of the programs, she says.
Yeramyan acknowledges the chicken-or-the-egg paradigm here, and sees it manifest in other data, too. For example, she says, only 32 percent of leaders say they "strongly agree" that they can predict whether their teams will deliver the results they've promised. That, too, indicates a need for executives to refocus on outcomes and results as it pertains to talent management, she says.
CIO Scott Chacon revealed a bit about what makes the company's culture tick.
On the first day of South by Southwest Interactive, Github CIO Scott Chacon sat down with Inc.'s senior writer Christine Lagorio-Chafkin in front of a crowd of about 100 at Austin's Pine Street Station.
Their talk, sponsored by Dell and Inc., shed light on the company's incredibly liberal (and fascinating) company culture.
For starters, about two-thirds of the social network's 250 employees are remote, Chacon said. "It shouldn't matter where you work, as long as you contribute and perform. We don't care what you do with your time."If it ain't broke…
Chacon said the culture began with a few early employees--and they did not make a deliberate decision to embrace a work-from-home-tolerant culture.
"Most of the early employees worked from home in San Francisco, and we would just meet at a bar once a week to talk about what we needed to do to move forward," he said. "It was just easier that way for all of us."
GitHub launched in 2008 as a service to help coders share and comment on code. The company grew quickly and in all has received about $100 million in funding.
"As the company grew, we just kept that same mentality going," he said. "Some companies make the choice to institute a culture. We didn't. It's just always been there."Keeping in touch
When asked how he handles meetings between so many remote employees, Chacon said something rather counterintuitive. Instead of more meetings, he typically champions fewer. Each department is different, so he didn't have an ideal number of meetings per month. But for GitHub, unless a meeting has a clear purpose and can work for everyone--it just doesn't happen.
"For example, developers don't need a lot of meetings. Maybe once or twice a month, then it's heads down," he said. "It's really important to us that meetings mean something for the people attending."Big payoffs
One major plus GitHub's seen from this casual attendance idea has been in recruiting.
"We want the best in the world. So we can't be taking 'ass-in-seat' metrics," he said.
It also doesn't hurt that GitHub can authentically say its employees have a good sense of work-life balance.
"If someone wants to take Monday off to be with their son, that's great," he said, adding that most employees do take advantage of owning their own time.
As the company has grown, it has also developed ways to sniff out those employees who perhaps abuse the freedom. For Chacon, a big red flag is if the employee is on a team, and the team members all have a problem with one person.
"That's a huge sign to us, but it really depends on the situation," he added.
People don't underperform because they lack technical skills. People underperform because they lack soft skills.
A few years ago, a senior engineering executive at a high-tech Silicon Valley company asked me to teach a two-hour course on assessing "soft skills". His company had mastered the art of judging candidates' technical skills. It conducted day-long interviews focused on programming languages, server skills, and data analysis. Then, in the final 45 minutes, the hiring manager would turn his attention to the soft skills. If felt like an afterthought, perhaps because it was.
For that reason, I responded to the executive by asking a very pointed question: "Do you consider the following to be soft skills?"
- Consistently completing high-quality work on time
- Collaborating with cross-functional groups on major projects that require technical compromises to hit deadlines
- Making presentations to customers, executives, and other internal teams
- Persuading others to consider different technical points of view
- Appreciating the end-user's perspective from a UX and design standpoint
- Coaching and being coached on technical and non-technical matters
- Taking direction from project managers in a matrix environment
- Working successfully for a variety of managers, each with their own unique style
- Remaining flexible enough to handle rapidly changing design requirements, yet still hitting deadlines
- Making tough decisions with limited information and often dealing with ambiguity
- Challenging conventional wisdom and authority
- Helping team members who are struggling
- Taking over without being told a project that's in trouble
- Managing multiple projects to a timeline
- Meeting budget restraints
- Prioritizing with little direction
His immediate response was a stunned silence; the expanse and impact of a candidate's soft skills had perhaps not occurred to him before. I think he realized quite quickly that 45 minutes tacked on the end of an all-day interview was not enough.
But he was eager to push forward, so I continued to probe:
Do people underperform at your company because they lack these soft skills or do they disappoint because their technical skills aren't up to snuff?
"Soft skills are almost always to blame -- that's why we need to get better at measuring them."
Do your best managers have the strongest technical skills in the company? Or do they excel on the soft side?
"Soft skills set our best managers apart."
Is it possible you have excluded some candidates with extraordinary soft skills because they didn't meet your company's benchmark for technical brilliance? These are the people who would have become your best managers.
My client refused to answer this question, but the look in his eye was a definite "Oops!"
Given all of this, why do you spend 5-6 hours measuring technical skills and only 45 minutes measuring soft skills, when the latter is clearly important?
"Because this is the way it's done here, and we're not about to change. But we know it's important; that's why we want you to develop a 2-hour course to help us accurately measure soft skills."
Before my work began, I made a few demands:
1. Let's stop calling them soft skills. The squishiness of this minimizes their importance. Instead, let's call them non-technical skills.
2. Let's embed some of these non-technical skills assessments into the technical assessment process.
3. Make it a point to measure non-technical skills in earlier interviews, rather than leave this critical assessment to the very end. This way, potentially great managers wouldn’t be inadvertently excluded.
4. Finally, why not spend at least two hours assessing these critical non-technical skills instead of just 45 minutes?
Finally, I said I didn't think everything could be covered in a two-hour course; I'd need at least twice that amount of time. He said he couldn't budge on this one. A week later I reluctantly agreed to conduct the course in two hours and he reluctantly agreed to increase the time spent measuring non-technical skills to an hour and 15 minutes. At the end of the day, I considered this a complete failure of my soft skills; my client considered it a huge win.
Coupons.com had one of the strongest IPOs in recent history, doubling its stock price on the first day. It waited 15 years.
Sometimes good things are worth waiting for.
And you could say that for Coupons.com, which went public today after 15 years of operating as a private company. The Mountain View, Calif.-company started out in the old dot com world, where it toiled away quietly, only to go public in the Web 2.0 world where it's core product, digital coupons, met with strong investor excitement, if not a frenzy.
It's a lesson to small business owners to focus on building lasting value, and not to jump on every promising ship that passes by. In the first two months of 2014, there were 42 initial public offerings, more than double the number of offerings during the same period in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing data from Dealogic.
Coupons.com, which listed its expected share price at $16 on Thursday, saw its stock nearly double in value, closing at $30, despite larger market trends that saw the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 waver between gains and losses. Coupons.com, which digitized the moribund coupon-clipping world in the 1990s, raised $168 million, far surpassing its stated goal of raising $100 million.A long way to go
On its public filing documents, submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, Coupons.com reported a net loss of $12 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, a decrease of nearly 75 percent for the same period in 2012. For the full year 2012, it reported a loss of $59 million, a 98 percent increase compared to the full year 2011.
It also listed $170 million in liabilities, about what it grossed through the IPO.
The company's losses come on top of revenue of $115 million for the first nine months of 2013, about double the revenue for the same period a year earlier. For the full year 2012, Coupons.com reported revenue of $112 million, an increase of 23 percent compared to same period a year earlier.
Steven Boal, Coupons.com's founder and chief executive officer, was unavailable to comment by deadline today. In an interview with Inc. Magazine in 2012, Boal talked about Coupons.com's importance as a disruptor.
"What we have done over 14 long years is we have taken a technology that has existed offline, and we have assisted moving it into the modern age," Boal said.Risks of a flame-out
Still, among the risk factors noted in the company's public filing documents are the company's losses, which it says will likely increase as Coupons.com invests in sales and marketing, research, infrastructure, acquisitions, and expansions into new markets.
Swagbucks.com, a partner of Coupons.com which offers customer rewards for spending with coupons, says it is bullish on the discount market and thinks there's still a huge opportunity for consumer deal companies.
"Coupons have been an accepted part of retail culture forever," says Scott Dudelson, chief operating officer of Swagbucks.com, who adds that consumers searching for discounts in the digital world have become even more entrenched since the recession.
Self-funded through revenue since 2007, however, Dudelson claims Swagbucks.com is profitable and not necessarily interested in a flashy IPO exit.
Everything you do in the early days, in one way or another, helps you build your company. But it helps to have a plan.
In the early days of a startup, you should have a one-track mind: Everything you do is helping to build your company.
"Honestly, everything is selling. Everything is marketing, everything is support when you're at an early stage," Toutapp CEO Tawheed Kader said at a Senator Club Meetup Thursday night in San Francisco. The event drew about 70 attendees, mostly sales professionals from startups. "If you think about it in the holistic sense like that, you'll start succeeding."
Toutapp is a three-year-old sales communications SaaS company. Crunchbase reports that it has raised a total of $4.6 million from notable investors such as Esther Dyson, Dave McClure, and Eric Ries. Though Kader got each of them on board under quite fortuitous circumstances, he says his overall success isn't attributable to luck.
Throughout his presentation, Kader, a solo founder, offered tips that could help you replicate some of the scenarios that opened doors for his own company.1. Ask, what will get you 1,000 signups?
Often very young B2B startups will spend their energy trying to attract one big corporate customer. Kader says that at this stage in your company's short life, that's really hard to do. Instead, he recommends finding early adopters elsewhere--specifically where you already know they exist.
Toutapp's target audience, sales professionals, spend a lot time using customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Kader saw his opportunity to meet them there by partnering with Basecamp (formerly known as 37Signals), creator of a popular CRM system called Highrise. Three days after Toutapp's template emails had been integrated with Highrise, Toutapp was signing up its own customers.2. Say yes to everything.
In Kader's experience, saying yes a lot paid off. His newfound philosophy of openness is what led him to Toutapp's angle investors. For example, at the annual South by Southwest event, Kader reluctantly decided to get dinner with an acquaintance. When he realized they were waiting for a third guest, Kader asked who else was coming. That's when he found out they were waiting on investor Dave McClure.
"So we ended up getting dinner with Dave McClure! And he ended up investing in Tout," Kader says. "You gotta be open to saying yes because you don't really know how you're going to get that deal."3. Keep a diary about the ones that got away.
You'll no doubt have good insights into your company's own startup story and growth strategy if you document it. When your company has matured a bit, and you've hired employees to help you with sales, encourage them to keep diaries. "If you win a deal, write one paragraph why. If you lose it, write down two paragraphs," Kader says.4. Manage your fear and stress.
Once you've started to make some revenue, you have to remember to congratulate yourself--for your own sanity. "This is probably the hardest part of the business so far, going through that stage. And making it through. And getting up in the morning and saying, 'Let's do this,'" Kader says. He admits he sometimes has trouble enjoying the company's successes. Even when Toutapp was doing relatively well, he developed problems sleeping.
"Celebrate every small win," he says. Kader designed the Toutapp signup system so that each time a customer buys Tout's service, Kader's phone goes off with a cash register ring. "It will go off at 3 a.m., but there's a little smile on my face," Kader says.
In the lifestyle guru's online question-and-answer session, her interlocutors seemed interested only in her personal life.
A variety of different personalities have participated in Reddit's "Ask Me Anything," or AMA, threads. Visitors to the social networking and news site have even had the opportunity to query the likes of President Obama, Bill Gates, and Sir David Attenborough.
Now entrepreneur and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart has joined the ranks of famous AMA participants, taking part in an online conversation with thousands of Redditors on Thursday. Friday morning, the Internet was abuzz with what Martha shared--from her top sex tip (always bathe before and after) to her lament that she isn't better friends with rapper Snoop Lion.
And though it's incredibly entertaining that Redditors posed questions that prompted Stewart to discuss her love of singer Pharrell Williams and her strong anti-tattoo stance, there was a missed opportunity in the AMA: No one asked Stewart how she managed to build a multimillion-dollar company and to maintain her reputation even after her stint in prison for securities fraud.
It appears people care more about what types of Moroccan food Stewart enjoys than her personal branding secrets. Still, it was nice to see a softer side of Martha. Here are a handful of things you probably didn't know about her:
- Stewart's favorite movie of the year was The Wolf of Wall Street.
- She doesn't think that truffle oil belongs in anyone's kitchen.
- Stewart changes her bedsheets everyday. She says, "It's a luxury."
- Stewart's favorite parody of herself was Ana Gasteyer's portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live.
- She has been modeling since the age of 13.
- She ate a whole taco on Wednesday--after which she was still hungry.
- If Stewart were to have a completely free day, she would watch the new season of House of Cards.
- She paints over the red soles of her Louboutins because one of her personal rules is "not to be a slave to fashion."
- Stewart doesn't believe that kale is overrated and she never buys soda.
- She has never eaten cookies baked by Snoop.
- Stewart thinks the South Park episode she was in was "really cute."
- She found the food in prison to be unremarkable.
So even though it was a little surprising Stewart didn't answer a single business-related question, it's safe to say that the AMA was not a disappointment.
When your memory fails you during a presentation, fall back on these three tips from a public-speaking expert.
Ever draw a blank while giving a talk?
Of course you have. Who hasn't?
I reached out to Abrahams so he could elaborate on his public-speaking advice. Here, again, are his three tips for a graceful recovery, plus some extra guidance he shared for nailing a presentation of any kind.
1. Paraphrase what you just said. Say something like, "So just to step back for a moment, I've already covered how X and Y are relevant." This gives you a moment to remember point Z--and to frame it as a point you're building toward.
Of course, properly paraphrasing is an art unto itself. Abrahams' pointers for paraphrasing include:
- Use verbal cues to help your audience recognize that you're paraphrasing. For example: "The bottom line is..." or "What's important to remember is..." or "Your key takeaway should be...."
- Save the paraphrase for a transitional moment in the presentation, such as between key slides or salient points. You might say something like, "Now that we understand the market opportunity, let's explore our offering."
- Select a keyword or phrase from what you've just said to begin the paraphrase. If you just detailed the changes your organization needs to go through, you can begin your paraphrase with something like, "Change management...."
2. Ask your audience a question. It can even be a rhetorical one. For example, "What seems to be the most important point so far?" A question allows you to collect your thoughts, and boosts your confidence because you know the answer. Providing that answer will likely get you back into the flow of your talk.
Other questions that work well include:
- "How does what we just covered affect you or your work?"
- "In what I just presented, what excites or concerns you?"
- "Can you share an example that illustrates what I just discussed?"
3. Review your overall speaking purpose. Your go-to phrase, for this purpose, should be something like, "So we can see that [insert your core message here] is really important." When you're struggling to remember your place, this tactic can act like a homepage of sorts, helping you return to the essential importance of your message.
The main point, Abrahams emphasizes, is not to be too hard on yourself if you draw a blank. It happens to everyone--even seasoned professionals, like politicians. Your audience is more forgiving than you think it is. "Some may actually be thankful for the pause," he writes, "because it allows them time to process what you've presented."
Recognizing employees for a job well done is important, but it's not always easy to discern which ones are the most deserving.
As a leader, you need to make sure you're crediting the right employees for their hard work. It may sound like an obvious, easy task, but it's not one you should discount. If your employees feel like their recognition is being stolen away from them by a manager, soon your hard workers will not work as hard.
Sachin H. Jain, chief medical information and innovation officer at Merck and a physician at the Boston VA Medical Center, writes in the Harvard Business Review about what happens when leaders give credit accurately and inaccurately.
"If a company reliably assigns credit to deserving individuals and teams, the resulting belief that the system is fair and will honestly reward contributions will encourage employees to give their utmost," Jain writes. "On the other hand, if credit is regularly misassigned, a sort of organizational cancer emerges, and individuals and teams won't feel the drive to deliver their best because they won't trust anyone will recognize it if they do."
Below, read Jain's advice on how to make sure you're giving credit where credit is due.Double check a job well done.
Some employees are unabashed self-promoters, while others will understate their contributions. It's your job to find out who's poaching others' credit and who's downplaying their own. One thing you can do to make that easier is to set a precedent of honesty in your culture. "It is important to demand that individuals be honest about their true contributions to projects and initiatives. And their claims should be cross-checked," Jain writes. "Individuals whose careers developed in organizations where they had to fend for themselves will often err on the side of overstating their contributions."Recognize the recognizers.
The employees who take time to recognize their colleagues' contributions should be noted. These types of people are the ones helping you spread the right type of culture through your office. "In addition to verifying individual accomplishments, there is a lot of value in recognizing and highlighting cases when individuals take the time to recognize others. It sends a signal that generous and honest attribution of credit is something that the organization values," Jain writes.Pay attention to quiet performers.
Jain says that your strongest contributors are usually the quietest. Even if they aren't worried about getting credit, Jain writes, you need to make sure they're recognized. "Taking the time to identify and reward the quiet heroes can generate good will across an organization because it creates the sense that there is real integrity."There's enough credit for everyone.
Jain writes that one of his mentors once told him that "credit is infinitely divisible," meaning that everyone can be recognized. But you have to be careful: "That said, credit quickly loses meaning when everyone gets it, including people who didn't do anything," he writes. "Highly specific attributions of credit always trump blanket statements of praise. And the value of praise and credit is always higher when leaders and organizations deliver criticism with equal discipline."
Want your team to get more done? Wrap up all group meetings with these two steps.
The Super Bowl was a big test for the back-end companies that manage brands' website performance. Here's how one lesser-known company blew past the competition.
Compared with a content-only website, running an e-commerce site is tricky. You've got to track what's in someone's cart, you have to handle orders, and there's just generally more functionality going on that's harder to manage on the server side, particularly when it comes to traffic spikes you might get at certain times, such as on Black Friday, during holidays, or after a big ad is aired.
That last scenario consumed the attention of Chicago-based website development and hosting company Americaneagle.com for the six months leading up to the Super Bowl last month. That's because one of its long-time clients, automotive-accessory retailer WeatherTech, decided in August to do a Super Bowl ad, meaning Americaneagle.com had a slew of new things to think about.
Fast forward to the day after the big game. While everyone was consumed with counting hashtags and voting on which ad was the cleverest, Americaneagle.com CTO Ryan McElrath was eyeing other metrics, such as how well WeatherTech's site performed compared to big brands such as Coca-Cola, Doritos, and all the automotive companies.
McElrath knew things went well--he had a team camped out in a war room all weekend glued to status monitors for not only WeatherTech's site but also the websites of MetLife Stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also Americaneagle.com clients. But it wasn't until he stumbled on a blog post by Internet and mobile cloud testing and monitoring company Keynote that he fully grasped how well WeatherTech's site had nailed it. Of the 28 advertisers Keynote measured in terms of performance across desktop, smartphone, and tablet, WeatherTech came in second, while behemoths such as Pepsi and Budweiser were rated dead last.
Want to crush it like Americaneagle.com did? Take McElrath's tips.1. Research the heck out of what might go wrong, and do it early on.
Americaneagle.com had never had a client do a Super Bowl ad before but the company had seen the kind of traffic spikes that can ensue when Oprah or The Today Show mentions a product, or when professional sports team clients land in a major playoff.
Still, from the minute it learned WeatherTech was doing a Super Bowl ad, Americaneagle.com went into research and testing mode, not only estimating just how much extra traffic WeatherTech would get on February 2 and the days afterward but also testing the site to see where bottlenecks existed that might cause problems in the event of a huge traffic spike.
"We started doing daily performance reviews of the site," McElrath recalls. "We do performance reviews anyway, but we just started doing those more regularly. We do running traces where we look to see if there [are] any operations that are taking a little bit longer. If you start getting more traffic, that could cause a problem."
Another thing Americaneagle.com did in the months prior to the Super Bowl: load testing, which is where you make a copy of the site and simulate higher levels of traffic.
"Until you push these different elements of the site you don't really know what's going to break first," McElrath says.
Want a cautionary tale of a website that probably didn't do adequate load testing? Since launching last fall, Healthcare.gov has been an epic failure in terms of its ability to simply work.2. Use a content-delivery network.
Because e-commerce sites are complicated and dynamic, compared with straight-up content sites that can easily be made static to handle traffic, McElrath says it's important to be particularly vigilant when it comes to dispersing traffic load via a CDN, or content delivery network. Americaneagle.com recommended Akamai to WeatherTech because it's used by 96 out of the top 100 e-tailers.
"[A] CDN is kind of a first layer, so when someone in L.A. is going to WeatherTech's site they first go to an Akamai CDN server, probably in an L.A. data center, and those CDN servers keep as much content on those servers as they can to minimize how many trips are made back to our servers in Chicago," he explains. "So a lot of the images, style sheets, a lot of the HTML pages they serve out there. So when we ran the ad, we had it set up so like 95 percent of the traffic was offloaded to Akamai's network and only 5 percent came back to us."3. Don't just add more servers.
Americaneagle.com doubled the number of Web servers WeatherTech employed, increased RAM memory tenfold, went from one to five database servers, and made sure WeatherTech was running the most current version of Windows SQL Server software. But there's more to it than all that.
McElrath says it's a common misconception that scaling an e-commerce site is all about adding servers. While doing so is certainly part of the equation, programming and database optimization are equally important. Here's why: When an end user is pulling up pages, putting items in a cart, or submitting an order, it's essential these operations happen in a couple of milliseconds.
"If that goes up to even a hundred milliseconds, which is like a tenth of a second, it's just enough--if you're getting a certain amount of users coming in--that all of a sudden it starts queuing up, and that's where you have outages," McElrath says.4. Scale servers up and out.
A lot of times, companies think the best way to scale a website is to add capacity to a server, when really they ought to also be adding more database servers.
"We did it so we could scale up and also scale out, and we did that with some Microsoft SQL Server replication functionality. So we had this one database server that was used by WeatherTech personnel as kind of a master database, and then we had other servers that we viewed as public-database servers which handled the traffic for shoppers, like putting stuff in their carts, submitting orders," he explains. "[T]hat's more complex programming, but we really felt we had to do that in order to have some more buffer to handle the number of orders they could possibly get."5. Don't favor beauty over performance.
Most of the companies on Keynote's ranking delivered content optimized for smartphones and tablets. But many of them bombed when it came to actual mobile performance, indicating that plenty of big brands haven't yet figured out how to deliver a mobile website that's both fast and beautiful. And paradoxically, that's especially the case for events in which they're throwing down millions of dollars to get high levels of user engagement.
For this year's Super Bowl, "The average load time for advertiser sites on a smartphone was nearly 20 seconds, and only six sites came in at less than 10 seconds," Keynote noted on its blog. "That's well past user expectations of four seconds."
For its part, Americaneagle.com says it only made sense to be intentional about mobile performance, considering the vast numbers of people sitting around watching the game with a device in hand.
"One of the things that we thought through planning this is that the percentage of mobile users would be definitely higher than it typically would be because a lot of people have the game on and would just bring [websites] up on their phone rather than jump onto a computer and look," McElrath says.
In the end, Americaneagle.com's successes appear to be paying off. The company was recently named to Inc.'s "The Build 100" list, a ranking of midmarket companies that sustain growth year-over-year even during hard economic times. Last year, the company added 70 employees to its roster (head count is one signal number crunchers say indicates growth) for a current total of more than 250.