The Innovators Jan 15, 2016
2 Simple Ways to Further Personalize Your Marketing Outreach

When a new company attacks a market, it often takes a niche approach. The company tries to speak to an audience that is currently underserved by existing players with a message or feature that resonates. Whether you call it the "thin edge of the wedge" or establishing a "beachhead," the logic is that every group – all the way down to the individual person – has slightly different...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 15, 2016
5 Ways to Keep Your Eyes on the Prize as an Entrepreneur

When you're an entrepreneur, it is easy to get distracted and lose motivation as you are building your business. Whenever you switch on your computer or watch the news, you probably see all kinds of success stories about other entrepreneurs, and that may cause you to question your own approach and goals. You may begin to compare yourself to these people and wonder when – if ever – you'll...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 14, 2016
Let's Stay Together: One International Company's Approach to 'Holistic' Culture

Doug Smith is president of EDSA, a landscape architecture and urban design firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida – but when he started at the company 28 years ago, he was just a lowly entry-level employee. "I started here my first job out of school, and I'm still here," Smith says. Smith's story of rising through the ranks at EDSA is impressive, but isn't exactly unique: According...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 14, 2016
Dealing With a Toxic Employee? That Might Be Your Fault

Everyone has heard about the "toxic employee." There are books about this person. You pay consultants to show you how to deal with them. There are websites, articles, and social media posts dedicated to them. But how and why do employees become toxic? There are a lot of possible answers to this question, but I want to talk about one in particular today: The Toxic Customer I think it's...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 13, 2016
How to Find the Right Office for Your Startup: a Case Study

Finding an office for your startup can be a difficult process. It's imperative to select a space of the correct size, in the right neighborhood, and at a manageable price. A technology startup headquartered in San Francisco recently contacted us at TheSquareFoot about finding an office space for its growing New York City team. Before coming to us, the team was operating out of a...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 13, 2016
3 Ways to Turn Your Hobby Into a Small Business

Yesterday, I explored a few questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to give it a go and turn your hobby into a small business. You may find your hobby liberating and stimulating right now, but if you turn it into a job, you may find all the positive aspects of your hobby turning into stressful commercial baggage. Hence why I encouraged all potential entrepreneurs to do some...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 12, 2016
3 Questions to Answer Before Turning Your Hobby Into a Business

Does your job feel like a nine-to-five grind? That may be a sign that you need to make a change. A career change can be a great way to alleviate boredom and reengage yourself. The problem, however, is that making a career change often means you have to start at the very bottom and work your way up. If you've already climbed the ladder in your current career, the prospect of heading...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 12, 2016
10 Game-Changing Business Strategies From a Serial Entrepreneur

There will come a time when your company is no longer a startup or small business. I've been there. Back in 2011, I started Pixloo, a virtual platform for selling your home, with my mentor and fellow entrepreneur, John Rampton. We slaved away for eight months before launching the business. When we finally went live, it was incredible. We had thousands of customers every day. We sold the...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 11, 2016
4 Ways to Shake Up Your Performance Management Process

It's easy to talk about shaking up your performance management process, but when it comes to actually doing something about it, many employers fall short. Why is that? The answer is simple, really: Employers get busy, and they get stuck in their ways. Lacking the time to take on a comprehensive overhaul of their performance management processes, many employers just decide that their...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 8, 2016
Why Payroll Is Such a Bummer — and What You Can Do About It [Infographic]

Payroll is a necessary component of any business. Simply put: You can't run a company without paying some people to work there. The problem is, however, that payroll can be a tremendous pain. A new infographic from HR software purveyors Namely points out that a quarter of payroll leaders spend more than half their days on mundane payroll activities and that payroll mistakes cost employers...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 7, 2016
The Ins and Outs of Applying for a Small Business Term Loan

When most people are in the market for a small business loan, they think of a 3-5 year term with monthly payments. The problem with the business lending industry is that many business lenders are offering bad credit business loans. Small business term loans are very different from what the majority of the industry offers. My company, Ventury Capital, helps businesses access capital for...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 6, 2016
Ready to Promote an Employee? Read This First

If you've found the perfect person to take on more responsibility at your company, then it's your responsibility to make sure they're equipped to handle their new role. Many employees – especially the development-oriented millennials – expect their employers to train them as they climb the corporate ranks, but very few employers actually do. Be the company that defies expectations and...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 5, 2016
3 Ways to Keep Your Business on the Brink of Innovation

One thing I have learned about growing a business through my own experience cofounding a nontraditional marketing agency is that it's crucial to always keep thinking of new ways to be creative and innovative. No matter what you're selling, you have a lot of competition. You need to stand apart and show people what makes you special. Over the years, I've gotten several invaluable pieces of...

Read More
The Innovators Jan 4, 2016
Entrepreneurship Advice: Whose to Take and Whose to Ignore

When you start your own business, everyone has an opinion. Your brother-in-law thinks you should hire his kid. Your neighbor thinks you should solicit investments from his friend, who is apparently a venture capitalist. Log into your social media accounts, and you become even more inundated. Put the word "entrepreneur" in your bio, and you'll find yourself spammed with advice from...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 31, 2015
How to Focus on the Big Picture in Your Business

Sometimes, small and mundane "check the box" tasks have to get done. It's a problem if you never respond to email or fill out administrative reports, but if you spend all your time on the small stuff, you'll get by, but you'll never get ahead. I believe that there's more for you in your life and career, so I wanted to share some insights gleaned from my own experiences as the founder of...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 30, 2015
Culture Q&A: No One Spends 30 Years at the Same Company — Except Happy Employees

The job-for-life is dead! As our own Kazim Ladimeji has pointed out many times, job hopping is the new normal, and the average worker only spends about 4.4 years at a given job. In short: Nobody stays at the same company for their entire career anymore. Thanks to the rise of telecommuting, the way the Great Recession radically reshaped the economic landscape, and the shifting desires of...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 30, 2015
Lessons Learned From Today's Top CEOs

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 to replace Gil Amelio as CEO, things turned around dramatically. Thanks to Jobs's vision to execute technological innovations, the company he founded in 1976 became an investor's dream. Jobs, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in October 2011 after resigning from his position as Apple's CEO, created one of the greatest success stories in the world...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 30, 2015
8 New Year's Resolutions for Entrepreneurs and Startup Leaders in 2016, Pt. 2

Following the somewhat hectic ramp-up to the holiday season, January can be a time of repose. In fact, studies show that the average worker spends fewer hours working in January than during other parts of the year. As a result, business leaders have a small window of opportunity during this time of the year to step back and think about how they can improve themselves and their...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 30, 2015
How Managers Can Leverage Top Values to Keep Employees Happy and Motivated

Keeping millennial workers happy is not as straightforward as providing a paycheck. Sure, compensation is a factor, but millennials are far more particular and exacting about what they want out of a workplace than previous generations. Not content to be "company" men and women, millennials hop from job to job, demand increasingly flexible and casual work environments, and seek satisfaction in the...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 29, 2015
Most Payroll Funding Contracts 'Suck' — But There May Be a Better Way for Your Startup

Staffing software company TempWorks has been offering payroll funding since its inception in 2007. For the most part, TempWorks used to play by the same rules as other payroll funding services: Startups and other small companies in need of financial assistance would come to TempWorks, sign a contract, and let TempWorks handle payroll for however long the contract stipulated. It's fairly...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 29, 2015
8 New Year's Resolutions for Entrepreneurs and Startup Leaders in 2016, Pt. 1

The start of the new year is as good a time as any to make some long-lasting improvements to the way you run your startup or small business. You've had that holiday period to wind down and take a step back from the daily grind, allowing you to see the big picture for the first time in a long while. This can provide you with some much-needed clarity and a new sense of focus. It's also...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 28, 2015
The First Leadership Skill Every Entrepreneur Should Learn

Entrepreneurs tend to be single-minded, a little obsessive (in a good way!), and completely convinced of their own vision. In the face of obstacles, this tunnel vision can be a very good thing, but if it is not tempered, it can also be an entrepreneur's biggest weakness. In fact, the singular focus of an entrepreneur may even bring about "founder's syndrome" and, eventually, the downfall of...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 23, 2015
The Secret Behind Real Startup Success

When your mind is constantly in motion due to the daily tasks and excitement of startup life, the best thing you can do to refresh is get away from it all. I would argue that intentional downtime is necessary for success – maybe as important as the idea for the business itself. Downtime not only helps keep the mind feeling fresh, but it also helps prevent burnout, something I faced...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 23, 2015
4 Ways to Re-energize Your Employees After the Holidays

Come January, your business will probably need a shot of adrenaline. Research suggests that, for many companies, productivity drops around the holidays, due in part to more employees taking sick days. Without doubt, you'll want to start the new year with a bang to make up for the lost output in December – but that's easier said than done. Once the holiday season comes to a close, many of...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 22, 2015
How to Handle a Disengaged Employee Who Missed Out on a Promotion

As an entrepreneur or small-business owner, you'll face a lot of pain points. One of the most challenging is what to do with an unhappy employee who has missed out on a promotion and grown disengaged as a result. Employees who are overlooked for promotion can become bitter, and they may even spread their negativity around, damaging morale in your business. As if that weren't bad enough, an...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 22, 2015
How to Actualize Your Next Big Business Idea

It happens to all of us: You wake up, have your coffee, take a shower, – and suddenly, you have an epiphany. You think it's a real game-changer – that it will lift you out of your drab or uninspired lull and into a world of opportunity. You think you should tell everyone you know about how you intend to overhaul the personal counseling industry, write a New York Times best...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 21, 2015
Culture Q&A: Good Things Happen When You Put Employee Happiness First

When you think of innovative company cultures, your mind probably jumps immediately to the tech giants of the world: the eternal summer camp vibes of Zappos, the "20 percent rule" at Google, and Airbnb's $2000 travel stipend all shine pretty brightly as examples of game-changing approaches to culture. Or maybe you go smaller. Maybe, for you, agile startups represent the epitome of unique...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 18, 2015
10 Best Tips for Empowering Your Team on a Daily Basis

Ever since I sold my first company, I've been thinking a lot about what I could have done to make it more successful. Some people might think that selling a company for a decent check is a good thing --and I would totally agree. But that doesn't change the fact that I could have done better, and I am always trying to achieve more. I have realized since founding my last successful company that...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 17, 2015
Are You Ready? The Value of Preparing for Meetings

Abe Lincoln* once said, "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four sharpening the axe." Whether or not you agree with the proportion of time that Lincoln would have you spend on preparation, it's hard to argue against the idea that doing your homework will serve you well. How do you prepare for big meetings or presentations? Has that changed over time, or do you...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 16, 2015
Culture Q&A: At 15Five, Employees 'Work Toward Their Greatest Selves'

You would hope that 15Five, as the purveyor of an employee engagement solution, would have a great company culture. After all: If the employees at the company aren't engaged, why would you trust the company's product to make sure your employees were? Based on my conversations with some 15Five employees – as well as the CEO himself, David Hassell – I can confidently say there's no need to...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 16, 2015
4 Great Ways to Drive Down Startup Costs

Entrepreneurs are great at coming up with innovative products and taking the market by storm. Sometimes, though, they're also great at getting swept up in their own hype – and that can lead to a dangerous loss of financial perspective. In the early days of a startup, all eyes may be drawn to booming sales reports. Meanwhile, more mundane – but absolutely critical – metics fall off the...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 16, 2015
6 Tips for Improving Your Startup Valuation

For business owners, the topic of startup valuation can cause a lot of angst, raise a ton of questions, and get the emotions blazing. But let's take a step back: Why are valuations even important? Valuations are what an investor, acquirer, or the public (in an IPO) is willing to pay for your business. They are based on intangibles, such as the quality of your founding team, the size of...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 15, 2015
How the Grinch Stole Workplace Appreciation (and How to Get It Back)

It's a Christmas classic. Every year, we enjoy the journey of the Grinch -- from ninja-level curmudgeon, to repenter of his ways, and, finally, to the hero of the day. The Grinch remains an interesting character. He's so filled with anger and resentment that it clouds his vision and, certainly, his judgment. He embarks on a journey that he thinks will fill the hole in his small and fragile...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 15, 2015
How to Get Employees Excited About Your New Efficiency Initiative

Organizational efficiency initiatives are often viewed with skepticism – probably because they don't always work, and even when they do, many don't actually attribute the company's success to these initiatives. If this happens regularly, then employees in your company may simply view any and all productivity initiatives as nuisances and distractions. This, in turn, means employees will be...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 14, 2015
How Flexible Work Arrangements Can Make Your Startup Stronger

Starting a business used to be easy! Okay, it was never easy per se, but at least in the old days you could focus on your product/service and your company branding. In today's talent-starved environment, however, you also need to worry about employer branding if you are ever going to attract the best talent to your organization. If you need a skilled barista and not just someone to stand...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 11, 2015
When an Employee Isn't Working Out, Is It Better to Terminate or Reassign Them?

Today's question comes from a busy entrepreneur: Is it better to terminate or reassign an employee that is not working out? I have spent a lot of time training an employee. She is a great person, but I have to remind her several times to do something. I am not sure if she is just not in the right role or if she will always need so much oversight. I am curious how others have handled...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 11, 2015
4 Ways to Raise Prices Without Driving Away Customers

Creativity, innovation, and marketing expertise are crucial to the success of your business – but so is a good pricing strategy. As I discussed yesterday, poor pricing strategies – including undercharging for your good or services – are a common cause of startup failure. To maximize revenue and ensure their businesses stay viable, entrepreneurs need to know how to price their goods and...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 11, 2015
Why You Should Let Your Employees Make Mistakes

You've come a long way since your days in college. Scratch that. You've come a long way since you began your leadership role. It doesn't matter if you've been in the position for two weeks or two decades: Leadership requires a constant evolution of skills and management techniques. But what leaders often don't know how to handle – no matter how long they've been in leadership roles –...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 10, 2015
5 Red Flags That Your Startup's Prices Are Too Low

Research from CB Insights found that poor pricing strategies are one of the most common reasons why small businesses fail. When it comes to poor pricing, overcharging is only one aspect of the problem. Undercharging for goods or services can be just as damaging to a company. Many cautious entrepreneurs choose to adopt a low pricing strategy in order to win business and gain market share. The...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 10, 2015
The Business Benefits of Taking a Daily Stroll

Like many companies, we at Due are always trying to be more productive and more health-conscious at work. A couple of months ago, I read that Stanford University recently conducted a survey that concludes that daily walks improve productivity and creativity, so I decided to put this idea to the test. For 30 days, we asked that everyone in our office (if physically able) take two...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 9, 2015
Building a Culture Where Your Employees Would Rather Be at Work Than on Vacation

Ryan Fitzgerald, cofounder of digital marketing firm Net Conversion, sees his company as a family. "Everyone has each other's backs and will pitch in and help when needed," Fitzgerald says. "I make sure I know what's happening in everyone's lives – not just on a work basis, but on a personal basis. I make sure everything's okay." But we've all heard that kind of thing before, haven't we?...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 8, 2015
4 Traits You Should Look for in Future Business Partners

As cofounder of three companies, I've been asked by many young entrepreneurs how I select the people I go into business with. The following criteria are common traits shared by all of my current business partners, and I believe these traits form the basis of any successful business partnership: 1. A Positive Attitude In life, there are some people who always leave you feeling enthused,...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 8, 2015
Do Away With Goals (Seriously) – Just Give Out Medals When Things Get Done!

Welcome to the end of 2015. Right now, goals and annual plans are being finalized for 2016. Employee performance reviews are being conducted. And whether your company does 360, 180, 90 44.5, 11.6,  peer reviews, or uses the "latest and greatest" impersonal goal measurement software, it's time to understand one thing: most employees totally forget about the goal-setting process once it's...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 7, 2015
Protecting Intellectual Property: From Big Ideas to Branding

Do you have an idea? Great. You can probably start a business with it. From crafty blogs to the latest apps, great ideas are spurring the creation of new businesses left and right. But once you start your new business, you have to consider how you're going to protect its most precious assets: intellectual property (IP). Most modern business have more than one type of IP that must be...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 7, 2015
How to Give Your Freelance Business the Right Name

So you want to be a freelancer. You need to launch yourself as a brand and build a strong online presence. But what do you do first? Well, you're going to need a name – but what name do you pick? Naming your business is one of the most critical steps in building your brand. Your name will be your first introduction to many potential clients, and it has the potential to either draw them...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 4, 2015
Launching a Startup? 4 Tough Questions You Need to Ask Yourself First

There's never been a better time to start your own business. No, really! Following the Great Recession – and all the corporate scandals that preceded it – consumers have grown increasingly wary of the big guys, and as a result, they are more willing to patronize small businesses and startups. If you've always dreamed of heading into business for yourself, now may be the time. In fact,...

Read More
The Innovators Dec 1, 2015
Don't Let Fear Keep You From Making Your First Hire

When InstaNatural, an online retailer of natural health and beauty products, made its first sale in September 2013, the entire company was composed of one man: founder and current chairman AJ Patel. The company started with one product. Now, it has an inventory of 45 products, and there are many more in the pipeline. These days, InstaNatural pulls in seven figures of revenue every month, with...

Read More
The Innovators Nov 27, 2015
7 Lessons in Efficiency From Small Business Owners [Infographic]

To get by in business, you have to be efficient. Unfortunately, this is something that many business owners often fail to realize. To ensure that your business remains a success, you need to take a careful look at how you can run things more effectively. Whether that involves putting more trust in the members of your team or making a few alterations to your own list of everyday tasks, even...

Read More