Small Business News
Take every opportunity to remind users that there are humans behind the business.
When you're getting your company off the ground, caring intensely about your early users is crucial.
Use the expertise from building your business to create content and turn yourself into a thought leader.
Alexis Ohanian talks about the origin of the Reddit alien and the value a mascot or icon can bring to a business.
As consumer tastes evolve and technology advances, it's essential for businesses of all sizes to learn how to adapt.
If you can deliver a service that is better than piracy, you will succeed.
The reddit co-founder talks to Inc.'s Scott Gerber about the open internet, valuing your users, the importance of the reddit alien, and more.
When a customer decides to move on from your business, how you respond makes all the difference.
There comes a time in many businesses when a customer moves on, outgrows you or you move on. It happens all the time.
And why is that? Maybe you don't offer a product or service that a subset of your customers wants, or you have a service or product you can't carry or support anymore. It can be tempting to say "yes" to every request your customers have, but in many cases you may try to please them, but end up disappointing them, which can make matters worse. Or, perhaps they just need more than you'll ever have to offer.
Let's look at an example, 37Signals. A wonderful company led by entrepreneur, author, and speaker Jason Fried. He started his company with an online project management tool called Basecamp, which I'm sure led to customers requesting everything and anything. Because Fried and his team were trying to be in service to their customers, they obliged. But when you spread your business too thin, you need to rein it in and focus. With their announcement here they're doing just that. Focusing.
We experienced this ourselves a few years back at my email marketing company, VerticalResponse.
We released a product that some of our larger customers could use. It definitely wasn't a leading feature, but it worked and did the job. The problem was it was difficult for us to scale and maintain. When we started to see that maintaining the feature for just a few customers was taking time away from our focus on our core customers and their needs, we made a decision to have a difficult talk with the larger customers.
We let them know that we were not going to be able to continue to support their needs, but proactively provided them recommendations for vendors that would be a great fit. We didn't just leave them high and dry and that made all the difference in their response, which was overwhelmingly positive since we helped them make the transition.
This post was actually inspired by a personal experience I just had. I've been going to a great guy for acupuncture for years. On my last visit he gave me the news that he lost his lease and was combining his city and his suburban business which is located about 40 minutes away.
I asked him for a recommendation for another provider in the city and he simply said, "Check out Yelp." So after years of doing business with him, he just left me standing out in the cold, no needles to be recommended.
Have you ever had to help a customer leave you? Share your experience in the comments.
Discover which potential blind spots could be holding you back - from leaning on something too much to a negative influence that's draining your ability to perform.
For most people, the key to becoming a better leader lies not in training or skills development, but in self-awareness. For most of us, it's our blind spots that hold us back, not the things we already know we need to improve on.
So here, in the interest of self-awareness, is a checklist of where I've learned over the years to look for my own blind spots, and for those of the leaders I coach.
Your answers to the 31 questions below will each have one of two obvious applications: either you'll become more aware of leaning too much upon something; or conversely, you'll become consciously aware of things that affect you negatively, draining your ability to perform.
Note: I'm not a psychologist or therapist, so I've stayed away from deep questions such as 'What do you fear?', and 'What motivates you?' and focused on information that's actionable. Answering the questions below will generate an inventory of real tasks, people, things--even places--to either develop or discourage in your day-to-day leadership. So, why not grab a legal pad and get started:
1. What drives you crazy?
2. What makes you lazy?
3. What gets you excited?
4. What's your preferred outgoing communication style (how do you like to convey information)?
5. What's your preferred incoming communication style (how do you like to receive information)?
6. What type of people can't you stand?
7. What type of people do you fall for too easily?
8. To what basic knowledge or skill do you return when faced with a difficult problem?
9. What can't you know enough about?
10. About what have you heard all you ever want to know?
11. What type of environment juices you creatively?
12. What type of environment drains you creatively?
13. In what type of environment do you most effectively complete tiresome work?
14. In what type of environment do you least effectively complete tiresome work?
15. When is the best time of day for you to undertake creative work?
16. When is the worst time of day for you to undertake creative work?
17. When is the best time of day for you to undertake tiresome work?
18. When is the worst time of day for you to undertake tiresome work?
19. What is the best day of the week for you to undertake creative work?
20. What is the worst day of the week for you to undertake creative work?
21. What is the best day of the week for you to undertake tiresome work?
22. What is the worst day of the week for you to undertake tiresome work?
23. Do you have monthly and/or annual 'creative / tiresome' time rhythms you should be aware of?
24. What do you believe your core skill to be?
25. What do you believe you bring most to your organization?
26. What do you take on that you should leave to others?
27. What do you leave to others that you should be doing?
28. What usually convinces you of the truth of an argument?
29. What makes you stop listening to people?
30. How do you act differently when you're in a group or team environment?
31. How do you act differently when you're with people you love?
Looking for additional insights on how to enhance your leadership skills? Download a free chapter from the author's book, "The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success" which provides a comprehensive model for developing yourself or others as an exceptional, world-class leader.
Plenty of people take pride in being called an entrepreneur. Not Jan Koum. Here's why.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum doesn't like to be called an entrepreneur, even though he created a massively successful messaging company.
Journalist Nastya Chernikova interviewed Koum at Barcelona's World Mobile Congress conference and asked him why he doesn't like the word.
Koum thinks the word entrepreneurship is for people who create businesses to make money. He says it's more fitting for people who sold web companies in the 1990s and are now creating mobile apps. Koum says he just wanted to build a great product, not find wealth. He thinks it's "silly" when people compare founders like himself to rock stars.
The interview was written for a Russian website. Here's Koum's Google-Translated response:
"I've been thinking about why I'm hurt that word. Looked in the "Wikipedia", word came from «entrepreneur», trying to understand what it means. As I understand it, the entrepreneur - a person who creates a company and the company with the task to make money. I am not one of those people.
"I started WhatsApp, to build a product. I do not want to create a company around it, the goal was not to earn. Entrepreneurs -people using the time and opportunity to create a company that will be financially successful. [all sic]"
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
When you're just starting out, you need to project an air of sophistication and establish that you have indispensable skills and knowledge.
Most small business owners I know salivate at the prospect of landing a large customer. But having listened to the woes of entrepreneurs in my field and others, I know most don't know the strategies necessary to lure and land that first big account.
I do. When my business partner Ed Moed and I opened our shop from his squalid, one-bedroom apartment in 1995, we had a measly $12,500 in seed money and my Rolodex of leads. We didn't have a single customer, large or small.
While we employed a host of different strategies to get Peppercomm where it is today, these are the five best tips I can share to help increase your awareness, credibility, and attractiveness among the big boys:1. Separate yourself from the pack.
By developing a unique value proposition, a small business can immediately differentiate itself. Consider Akvinta Vodka, for example. When the small vodka business began a few years back, it was competing against the likes of Smirnoff, Grey Goose, and Stoli, to name just a few. But Akvinta was different. Its vodka featured 100 percent USDA certified organic content--unlike competitors, it didn't contain any impurities, preservatives, or chemicals.
Akvinta's marketing campaign underscored the difference, billing its product as "the honest vodka" and promising never to hide any ingredients. As a result of its authenticity, Akvinta began being served at Jean-Georges and Nobu (two top Manhattan restaurants) and was named Virgin Atlantic airline's exclusive vodka.
My firm also made a point of separating itself literally from day one. Our first tagline read: "What separates us from our competition is helping to set clients apart from theirs." Those bon mots not only told large customers we provided strategic positioning, it also struck some as quite clever.
In fact, the chief communications officer of a global insurance company called me and said, "If you're smart enough to coin that phrase for yourself, I'd like to hire you to create something just like it for us."2. Position yourself as a thought leader.
Small businesses can attract big customers by positing a smart or unexpected point of view on subjects of interest to prospects. When we were still in an embryonic stage, I pitched a column on the subject of branding to a leading public relations trade journal. My angle was simple, but unique: I would conduct man-on-the-street interviews with about 20 people, asking them to tell me what type of person they thought a large company would be if it suddenly were to come to life. Would ExxonMobil, for example, be a man or a woman? Rich or poor? Young or old? Liberal or conservative?
I conducted the interviews on an industry-by-industry basis. The trade journal hired an illustrator to draw cartoons to accompany my text and depict exactly how people described AT&T, GE, or GM. As a newly-minted thought leader, I began receiving calls from some of those same organizations asking if I could help them change their image from that of an old, conservative white man to a hip, young woman of color.
Select a subject in your industry on which you can take a unique point of view, and approach a trade journal to suggest authoring a feature article about it. I'll bet you a year's subscription to Inc. magazine you get a bite--and a significant sales lead--as a direct result.3. Help large customers compete.
The top executives running sales, marketing, and just about every other function at a large organization love to know what their peers think. Small businesses can win large accounts by conducting proprietary pro bono research, and sharing the exclusive results first with targets.
One of our partners, Deb Brown, called 10 top marketing executives and asked them if they'd answer one question. She told them she'd be asking nine of their peers the same question, and would share the results before submitting the research to our top industry journal, PRWeek.
As a result of sating prospective customers' need to know what their peers felt, Deb was able to arrange numerous one-on-one meetings with some and scored a few nice wins with others. Here's how the final article turned out (subscription or purchase required).
In another example, a tiny, Cambridge-based consultancy called Integral lured huge clients away from the likes of Bain, Booz-Allen, and McKinsey by conducting unique studies showing large organizations how to disrupt their competitors. We in turn helped publicize Integral's work in Fortune, an article that generated 843 leads and several large clients for the small upstart. Here's the Fortune piece.4. Sophistication implies size.
The smallest companies can suggest size and sophistication with the right website design. Matt Lester, our creative director, says small business sites shouldn't be brochures: "Too many small businesses use their sites to sell. Instead, a site should be educational, informational, and entertaining." Matt says sites should show their savvy by "stating in no uncertain terms that they know what's broken in the industry, and that large customers can count on them to fix it." As examples, he cites GoPro, Zillow, and Warby Parker.
A single employee, too, can make all the difference in the world when it comes to landing large customers. The fourth person I hired after hanging out the Peppercomm shingle was a British receptionist/administrative assistant. While her roots may have been Midlands working class, she oozed British sophistication over the phone (and in person). Prospects assumed we were far larger and more diverse than we were simply because we had a charming and polished young professional as a frontline ambassador. Small businesses that understand the critical importance of a first impression will attract and win large customers.
That said, a single employee can also undermine small business's success. Prior to starting my own company, I labored for a global image and branding firm whose receptionist would have made Pol Pot seem like a good guy. The agency had been experiencing a long, slow death at the time, and is now gone. I believe the receptionist was one main reason for its demise.5. Doing good does a whole lot of good.
Smart small businesses will sometimes agree to help charities and nonprofits by donating their accounting, legal, and marketing needs in exchange for references and testimonials.
We once agreed to publicize the work of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In exchange, we asked that they serve as a reference. As a result of the nonprofit's referral, we were able to attract a major multinational corporation that was trying to win military contracts. The work we produced for the nonprofit also won awards and enabled us to attract other large customers. Doing good will help a small business do very, very well.
The management skills that got your business off the ground may now be holding it back. Here's how to adapt as you grow.
Your company needs engaged employees who can think conceptually and solve problems, but there is a very real chance that your management style is doing just the opposite: stifling employees' innovation and morale.
Why? Because many entrepreneurs rely on an autocratic, command-and-control model in which the boss tells the workers what to do. That style was born in the 19th century, when we needed employees for their brawn more than their brains. But changes in technology, workplace demographics, and the global economy demand a new paradigm. Old-school management techniques no longer cut it because in a centralized decision-making model one person is doing all the thinking.
Second-stage entrepreneurs need to think hard about how to manage effectively because success now becomes more tied to how you manage your social system rather than how you manage your economic system. In startup mode you focused on how to make money, add value, and capture a market. Once you expand beyond 10 employees, however, the continued success of that system depends on how you manage your workforce. Indeed, Gallop estimates disengaged workers cost between $450 billion and $550 billion annually in lost productivity.They Want What You Want
Think about why you launch your company in the first place. Having a purpose was probably high on your list, as was autonomy: You wanted to work without someone looking over your shoulder. You wanted to do compelling work, be around people you found stimulating, and control your destiny.
Your most talented employees are looking for the same thing--it’s not just about a paycheck.
One second-stage entrepreneur who really gets this is Luke Ford, founder of My Computer Works (MCW) in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ford launched MCW, which provides remote computer repair, in 2005; today the company generates about $4 million with 70 employees, including 50 technicians who work virtually.
Ford has embraced a management style of empowerment, which he attributes to his years as a sales executive at Fortune 500 companies where he had “responsibility for everything and the power to do nothing.” As CEO of his own company, Ford engages employees by:
Enabling workers to do what they love. That starts with hiring. At MCW aptitude and attitude trump experience. "We look for people who have a real passion for computers and technology and then train them how to be excellent technicians," Ford says. "We believe that if you really love something, you’ll excel at it." What’s more, MCW has developed proprietary analytical software that frees its technicians from more mundane tasks, such as performing diagnostics on hardware, so they can focus on problem-solving, which is what they really enjoy.
Encouraging constructive conflict. Late in 2013, Ford divided his company into seven cost centers and assigned one or two to each of his senior managers. Their objective: make sure costs don’t exceed a certain percentage of revenue. "It’s created a tremendous amount of empowerment," Ford says. "If I make decisions that are going to be expensive, they can call me on the carpet. I don’t have the ability to spend money without their permission--or, at least, without them questioning me."
Stretching skill sets. Ford believes that it's critical to give high performers more responsibility. Case in point: When his CIO wanted to take his children to Europe as part of their home schooling experience, Ford didn’t blink. Nor did he need to call the CIO once during that six-week period. "That proved just how good he was," Ford says. "He had empowered his teams to operate without him. When he came back I promoted him to COO and tripled the number of his direct reports."Make Flexibility a Core Value
Another example of innovative management is Stuart Carlin, founder of Machine Tools.com, a Michigan-based online marketplace for buyers and sellers of new and used machinery, which generates about $3 million in annual revenue.
"Whenever we hire a new employee, where they work is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on what’s best for that individual," Carlin explains. Today he has 18 employees: 10 work virtually, five work from MachineTools.com’s headquarters in West Bloomfield, Mich., and three work from its Ann Arbor office, in office space that Carlin opened when he wanted to hire someone who had just become a father. "I didn't want him to have to work from home with a baby," Carlin explains.
That flexibility extends to employees' schedules. MachineTool.com has no vacation policy. People take time off when they need to, and they don't need to ask for permission as long as a colleague covers their duties.
Carlin gets a lot of raised eyebrows about his management model: "People always ask me how I know if employees are really working. First of all, everyone uses Skype, so it's easy to tell when they're at their desks. If you're working, your Skype is on. If you're away, your Skype is off. I don't care if people take a two-hour lunch break or if they suddenly need to take the afternoon off. I trust that my people know what needs to be done and that they’ll do it. When you trust people, you get so much more back."
Carlin is an employee-centric leader. Like Ford, he has a high degree of trust. He doesn't try to impose his working style on employees but instead recognizes them as individuals with different wants and needs. He has created a results-driven organization and allows employees to decide how they will complete tasks and hit goals. What especially impresses me is that he doesn't have a vacation policy, but allows his employee to decide when they need time off. This is really throwing old-school thinking out the window. People talk about work-life balance, but Carlin lives it.Question (Your) Authority
Remember, as CEO you're the architect of your organization's design. You can design it any way you want, so don't try to force-fit a management style. Step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you're building a new company in a new era.
Set aside some time to question generally accepted management practices and your current management techniques. Are they improving things for your employees and helping them do their best work? Or are you operating by antiquated assumptions that are doing more harm than good?
Experiment. If something works, keep it. If it doesn't, throw it out and try something different. Find out what works for you in this century.
Think giving is easy? Think again.
Think about people you truly respect. Think about people you truly admire. Think about people you love to be around. They may not be rich. They may not be highly accomplished. They may not be household names.
Yet you love to be around them--and you would love to be more like them. What sets them apart from everyone else?
They give: generously, selflessly, and without expectation of return. They give because their happiness--and their success--comes from someone else's happiness and someone else's success.
Here's what they give:
1. The gift of praise. Everyone, even relatively poor performers, does something well. That's why everyone deserves praise and appreciation. It's easy for most of us to recognize great employees; after all, they do great things. (Of course it's very possible that consistent praise is one of the reasons they've become great.)
Relatively few of us work hard to find reasons to praise the person who simply meets standards. They know that a few words of recognition--especially when that recognition is publicly given--could just be the nudge that inspires an average performer to become a great performer.
Remarkably giving people can often see the good in another person before that person sees it in herself, providing a spark that just might help her reach her true potential.
2. They give the gift of requesting help. When you ask for help several things happen. You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice. You show you respect that person's experience, skill, and insight. And you show you trust that other person, since by asking for help you've made yourself vulnerable.
While it's relatively easy to ask for help, it's harder to ask for help when the assistance is personal.
I once went to a meeting to talk about layoffs; by the time I got back to the plant word had already spread that cuts were coming. One of my employees said, "So, layoffs, huh?" I didn't have to confirm it; he knew. I said, "I have no idea what to tell our employees. What would you say?"
He thought and said, "Just tell everyone you tried. Then talk about where we go from here." Simple? Sure, but powerful too. He later told me how much it meant to him that I had asked for his opinion and taken his advice.
Unfortunately I didn't do it often enough. Remarkably giving people frequently ask for help, in part because they realize the person who provides that help receives a lot in return in terms of self-respect, self-esteem, and self-worth.
They receive one of the greatest gifts of all: knowing they made a difference in someone else's life.
3. They give the gift of patience. For some people, we're willing to give our all. Why? They care about us, they believe in us, and we don't want to let them down. Showing patience is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly care about them. Showing patience and expressing genuine confidence is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly believe in them.
Showing patience is a remarkable gift--because, ultimately, it shows how much you care.
4. They give the gift of privacy. Everyone shares. Everyone likes and tweets. Lives have increasingly become open books. Gradually, we've started to feel we have a right to know more about others than we ever did.
Sometimes we don't need to know a right to know. Often we don't have a right to know. Often the best gift we can give is the gift of privacy, of not asking, not prying--yet always being available if and when another person does want or need to share.
Remarkably giving people not only respect another person's privacy, they help them guard their privacy--because they know it's not necessary to know in order to care.
5. They give the gift of opportunity. Every job has the potential to lead to greater things. Every person has the potential, both professionally and personally, to accomplish greater things.
Remarkably giving bosses take the time to develop employees for the job they someday hope to land, even if that job is with another company. Remarkably giving people take the time to help another person find and seize opportunities.
Many people have the ability to feel another person's pain and help them work through that pain. A few, a special few, have the ability to feel another person's dreams and help them work towards those dreams--and to help open doors that might otherwise have remained closed.
6. They give the gift of sincerity. Lip service is easy to pay. Professionalism is easy to display. Much more rare are the people who can be highly professional yet also openly human. They're willing to show sincere excitement when things go well. They're willing to show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They're wiling to show sincere disappointment--not in others, though, but in themselves.
They openly celebrate. They openly empathize. They openly worry.
In short, they're openly human. Remarkably giving people blend professionalism with a healthy dose of humanity--and more importantly allow other people to do the same.
7. They give the gift of tough love. I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. We all want to be better than we are. Yet we all fall into habits, fall into patterns, develop blind spots, and that's why we all need constructive feedback.
That's why we all need advice, guidance, and sometimes a swift kick in the pants. It's relatively easy to provide feedback during evaluations. It's relatively easy to make one-off comments. It's a lot tougher to sit someone down and say, "I know you're capable of a lot more."
Think about a time when a remarkably giving person told you what you least wanted to hear and yet most needed to hear. You've never forgotten what they said. It changed your life.
Now go change someone else's life.
8. They give the gift of respect. Some employees aren't outstanding. Some are far from it. They aren't as smart. They don't work as hard. They make bigger mistakes. (Some employees ultimately deserve to be let go.)
Still, regardless of their level of performance, all employees deserve to be treated with respect. Sarcasm, eye rolling, and biting comments all chip away at a person's self-respect.
Remarkably giving people allow others to maintain a sense of dignity even in the worst of circumstances.
After all, I may have to fire you, but I never, ever have to demean or humiliate you.
9. They give the gift of freedom. There often is a best practice, so most leaders implement and enforce processes and procedures.
For employees, though, engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. You care the most when it's "yours." You care the most when you feel you have the responsibility and authority to do what is right.
Remarkably giving people create standards and guidelines but then give employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best within those guidelines. They allow employees to turn "have to" into "want to," which transforms what was just work into something much more meaningful: an outward expression of each person's unique skills, talents, and experiences.
10. They give the gift of purpose. Fulfillment is often found in becoming a part of something bigger. We all love to feel that special sense of teamwork and togetherness that turns a task into a quest, a group of individuals into a real team.
Anyone can write mission statements. Much tougher is creating a mission that makes a real impact. Even tougher is showing other people how what they do affects their customers, their business, their community...and themselves.
Remarkably giving people give the gift of caring--and the gift of knowing why to care.
Others in this series:
The hard work of keeping your company going begins the day after a transaction closes.
Many CEOs believe a true test of their leadership occurs when their company is being sold, or when it acquires another company. An even more important test: how to lead the new company.
Right now, several thousand CEO's of private middle market companies are involved in an M&A transaction or contemplating one soon. Many follow a careful approach to acquisition planning. They read books and articles, and attend conferences and seminars that present best-practices for selling, buying or acquiring add-ons to their business. They attempt to learn all they can about M&A by themselves.
All that prep work is a good start. Here are the next five steps to take ensure success after closing:1. Re-establish the company's vision and values.
Vision and values drive success. Every employee must understand and buy into your vision or they probably won’t support or promote it. After a transaction closes the cultural change may be significant enough that a fresh vision is needed. When employees understand your new vision and values, it is more likely they will embrace it. This gives employees a sense of ownership and commitment and that drives both their success and your company’s success.2. Share information and knowledge.
After a deal gets done, people wonder what it all means for them. Will their job change? Or worse, could they lose their job? At a time when integration and growth are vital, sharing information and knowledge can become difficult. Co-workers lose trust in each other. In the case of an add-on transaction, the new employees have no bonds with the new company. There is little or no trust. C-level executives must step up and share information freely and openly with these new employees to assure employees regarding their job status. Doing so will improve job satisfaction and ultimately employee productivity. This will translate into post-transaction success for the firm.3. Be a good communicator.
After a deal is done, things can quickly become hectic and busy. Sometimes, due to increased workloads, the CEO and the executive team hold up in their offices and rarely venture out to talk with employees. Or worse, instead of making human contact they send out emails and memos. There is no substitute for getting out and actively engaging with employees. While email and other documents may be valuable and necessary, there is no substitute for spending time with people face-to-face. One-on-one visits are especially helpful and improve employee morale. Don’t wait - communicate early and often!4. Delegate.
Leadership does not mean being the lone kingpin. The best CEOs create organizational leaders. Few things rapidly create shareholder value as when the CEO can turn to a strong group of lieutenants to make things happen. Companies need cool-headed leaders who can motivate and lead employees. You can’t do it all. Lead your leaders!5. Actively develop the company's culture.
If you don't do this, no one else will. I remember being part of a significant transaction a number of years ago, and almost immediately after the transaction closed the culture began to deteriorate. Morale dropped and people were leaving for jobs at other companies. The turnover was extremely detrimental. Instead of engaging to address the negative culture, the CEO assigned a task force to do it, and he was not on the task force. Within two weeks, four of the seven members of the task force were gone, taking positions at new companies. A transaction can change the culture of a company and make it better, but, the CEO must set the tone and lead to create a high-performance culture.
The leadership of the CEO and the executive management team will be vital to the ultimate long-term success of any M&A deal. It is the perfect time to step up.
On Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to withhold services based on the religious beliefs of the owners.
Business owners in Arizona cannot withhold services to customers based on their religious beliefs now that the state's governor has knocked down SB 1062, or the so-called "Turn Away the Gays Bill," The Washington Post reports.
"I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owners' religious liberty has been violated," Governor Jan Brewer said in a press conference Wednesday night. "The bill is broadly worded, and could result in unintended and negative consequences."
As Inc. has noted, the legislation passed by Arizona's Senate and House of Representatives last week is part of a national debate unfolding at the Supreme Court level this year, with two cases, called Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. Both have potential to change the way businesses abide by anti-discrimination laws, while allowing broad exceptions for businesses based on religion.
In Arizona, business owners were among the staunchest opponents to SB 1062, claiming it would be detrimental to business and was discriminatory to boot. The Super Bowl host committee, which will be held in Arizona next year, vehemently spoke out against the bill, along with other prominent companies such as Apple and American Airlines.
Earlier this week, Barry Broome, chief executive the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, one of Arizona's leading economic development groups, told Inc. that businesses were largely against the bill.
"The response to the bill is overwhelmingly negative, but the good news at this point is every business group, every economic development group, and every leadership group in the state has requested the governor to veto the bill," he said.
Chad Griffin, who heads the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, agreed, telling The Post that Brewer's decision "spared her state from institutional discrimination and economic catastrophe."
Should businesses be exempt from anti-discrimination laws? Share your thoughts in the comments.
At Google, a set of five key attributes guides every hiring decision. You already have your own set of principles--you just have to identify them.
Hiring is very serious business at Google.
For a long time, the search giant was known for lobbing complicated brainteasers at applicants--puzzles such as how many golf balls fit into a school bus?--in the name of hiring the smartest people around. But last year, VP of people operations Laszlo Bock told The New York Times that Google had discovered those brainteasers "are a complete waste of time." So the company instead began conducting "structured behavioral interviews" to learn more about candidates' real-world experience.
More recently, Bock revealed another facet of Google's meticulous hiring processes to Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Friedman wanted to know some interviewing advice to pass on to young people. The most important point Bock made was that Google has a set of five traits it looks for in hiring throughout the company:
- The ability to learn and pull together disparate pieces of information on the fly
- Emergent leadership skills, in which employees take leadership roles in a team when appropriate and then step back and let someone else lead
- Ownership of work and projects
- The humility to accept the better ideas of others and to take a strong position but then change in the face of new facts
- Last, and least, is expertise, because the answers may be obvious to an intelligent person and habitual practice might skip useful new answers
The head-slapping why didn't I think of this moment an entrepreneur might have at this point shouldn't result in simply copying Google's list. That's nothing more than slavish imitation. The thing to learn is that any company will likely have a set of particular characteristics that help employees succeed, given the industry and its maturation, business model, strategic imperatives, and other characteristics.
Maybe yours is a professional-services organization and demonstrating expertise is key to gaining the trust of clients so they'll hire you in the first place. Maybe you specialize in the innovation of incremental improvements--learning to do something far better than competitors--and not in devising breakthroughs. Perhaps tenacity is top of your list, because you run a sales-oriented business where you must keep going despite one rejection after another.
Whatever the particular mix is for your company, it already exists. You'll see it in the successful employees, if you can step back and see what they might have in common. You can consider the employees who didn't make the grade, review their interview reports, and remember what it was that you found compelling when hiring them.
With steps like these, you can begin to build a model of what works for your company (and keep an eye as to what might change over time). Know what you really need to look for in hiring, and chances are you'll be far more successful in the process.
A new report finds that a tiny percentage of players spend money on games, shedding light on how difficult it is for developers to monetize their products.
With all the buzz about Flappy Birds and the IPO filing by Candy Crush Saga maker King, it's clear that the mobile gaming market continues to be white-hot. But according to a study released this week, getting people to pay for games is actually a major struggle for developers.
The report from app-testing company Swrve found that a mere 1.5 percent of players spend any money at all on mobile games and that 50 percent of all in-app purchases on free-to-play games came from 0.15 percent of players.
The data suggests that mobile game makers are extremely reliant on players the gaming industry refers to as "whales"--those who spend huge amounts of money on in-app purchases while enjoying free-to-play games. Outside of these select few players, many game makers are having a hard time monetizing games, a potential business model flaw.
In other mobile gaming news this week, a district court dismissed a lawsuit filed against Zynga by shareholders who claimed the game maker misled them about its financial state prior to going public.
As competition in its core business heats up, the San Francisco startup branches out by acquiring online appointment-booking company BookFresh.
In a move to diversify its services, San Francisco-based mobile payments startup Square acquired BookFresh, an online appointment booking service that's been described as "the OpenTable for everything but restaurants."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Re/code, BookFresh's software could be used to help customers book appointments with businesses.
Eventually businesses also could work with Square to let customers prepay for services such as hair salon visits or pet grooming. Beyond that, Square could also charge customers fees for securing appointments during holidays and other peak business periods.
Jack Dorsey's company reportedly is also testing a new mobile app called Square Pickup that lets people order take-out food from Square merchants. And last year, the company began offering a custom-built iPad stand for customers using its point-of-sale software.
Square isn't the only mobile payments startup trying to be audacious. San Francisco's Stripe is thinking even more broadly--earlier this month, the company, which builds payments infrastructure for Web developers, announced it was launching a service that allows businesses to accept payments in 130 currencies.
A new study finds that playing Tetris can help fend off unhealthy vices.
Can a video game actually help you be healthier? A somewhat surprising new study suggests that yes, it can.
Researchers at Britain’s Plymouth University found that a short burst of Tetris can actually squelch cravings for far less healthy vices, such as fatty foods, alcohol, or cigarettes--offering potential implications for companies that want to prompt better habits among employees. In other words, bye-bye cigarette breaks and hello, Tetris!
In the study, 119 people were asked if they were craving anything. If the answer was yes, they were asked to rank the strength, vividness, and intensity of the craving. Half the participants then played Tetris for just three minutes. The other half waited for the game to load on their computers. Compared to the people who were stuck waiting for their computers, the people who had actually played Tetris found the strength of their cravings had dropped by 24 percent.
The study was designed as a test of so-called elaborated intrusion theory, which holds that cravings are visually-based. According to this theory, if you’re craving, say, a cupcake, you’re actually visualizing a cupcake. Playing Tetris forces that visualization out of your mind and gets you to visualize something else.
“Episodes of craving normally only last a few minutes, during which time the individual is visualizing what they want and the reward it will bring,” says Professor Jackie Andrade, one of the researchers, on the Plymouth University web site. “Often those feelings result in the person giving in and consuming the very thing they are trying to resist. But by playing Tetris, just in short bursts, you are preventing your brain creating those images, and without them, the craving fades.”
Professor Andrade goes on to say that the stress of playing Tetris can replace the stress caused by the craving itself.
The study did not address the longer-term effects of playing Tetris, so it’s not clear if the cravings returned full-strength after the participants stopped playing, or if you’d need an awful lot of Tetris to fend off a cupcake once and for all.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the Small Business Administration, released its annual report entitled, Report on the Regulatory Flexibility Act F