Seemingly “Safe” People Bets That Can Trip Up CEOs
According to experts, nearly 50% of executive transitions fail. With a track record like that, it’s no wonder new leaders sometimes resist making changes, especially to existing leadership teams. But playing it safe can be just as problematic as being too aggressive. Follow these guidelines to step out on the right foot: 1) Realize that new business and talent strategies often go hand-in-hand. 2) Look for track records in candidate performance versus impressive diplomas. And 3) build a team that’s diverse in thought, background, and style.
by Elena Botelho, Shoma Chatterjee, and Kim R. Powell on Chief Executive
Why Building a Company to Last and Building a Company to Sell Are the Same Thing
Cigna. Dupont. Colgate-Palmolive. The origins of these companies can be traced back more than 200 years. Want to build a business with that kind of longevity? Follow these simple rules: 1) Don’t take shortcuts. 2) Always make decisions with the long-term health of the company in mind. And 3) implement best practices (like nurturing strong customer relationships and getting certified financials) that will continue to add value to your business and make it attractive to potential buyers—even if you have no intention to sell.
by Norm Brodsky on Inc.
Say Goodbye to the Information Age: It’s All About Reputation Now
In a world where “fake news” seems to run rampant, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused by the items reported in the media each day. Instead of spending endless hours trying to track down the “truth” on the Web, stop and ask yourself these key questions: Is the information coming from a reputable source? Who are the authorities who believe in it? What are your reasons for deferring to those authorities? Taking time to question and assess the reputation of a source will help you ascertain whether the information should be believed.
by Gloria Origgi on Fast Company
Emerging Trends in Financial Analytics
Savvy entrepreneurs know that businesses should invest most of their time in activities that will create the most shareholder value. This idea applies to every area of a business, including finance. Fortunately, social platforms, data science, enterprise mobility, and other tech trends are making it easy for finance teams to focus on high-value activities, such as artificial intelligence, a “crowd-sourcing mindset,” and multi-dimensional graphics, that will drive digital business transformations and create competitive advantage.
by Rob Jenkins on Digitalist
A Simple, Surprising Way for Leaders to Increase Employee Engagement
Want to bump up engagement, build community, and foster trust among your employees? Stop relying on town hall meetings and mass emails when delivering leader messages. While these methods are efficient, they lack the personal connection employees need to fully support a leader’s vision. Instead, try connecting casually by walking around, having 10-minute chats, or grabbing a coffee with different team members. By reaching out informally, you’ll gain direct access to all levels of employees and reap the benefits of their candor.
by Alison Davis on Inc.
The Curiosity Machine
Ask any business expert for their secret to a running a successful company and the answer you’re likely to hear is “data.” But data alone can’t take a business where it wants to go. At the very least, a business needs people to make sense of all those numbers. And we’re not talking regular, boring, run-of-the-mill people. To stay innovative, companies need folks who are curious, who will use those numbers as a springboard for asking questions, and who can turn the answers upside down to formulate fresh ideas.
by Shane Atchinson on CEO
Small Business Guide to Investing in Technology
Ever wish you could turn to an easy-to-read online tech guide whenever you’ve got questions about the latest business technology, are wondering whether to invest in a new app, or want to know what tools you should be using for your small business? Fortunately, online financial technology company Kabbage, Inc., has created a handy, in-depth guide just like that—filled with everything you need to know about using technology to launch and sustain a small business.
by the Content Team at Kabbage.com
Could a Nontraditional IPO Be Right for Your Company?
While the market pauses to see how Spotify’s recent launch of a nontraditional or “direct list” IPO plays out, small business owners are weighing the pros and cons of following that trend. On the plus side: 1) There’s no financial middleman so the costs of going public are reduced and 2) there’s no holding period after the launch so stockholders can liquidate immediately. Possible cons? These types of IPOs are highly volatile due to their lack of underwriting and, without the usual launch hype, early stock performance could be lackluster.
by Julie Bawden Davis on American Express
How to Fire Employees Without Killing Company Culture
Hiring and firing employees: Both come with the territory when building or maintaining a business. Of the two, handing out pink slips is certainly the most fraught. Handled the wrong way, a poorly enacted dismissal can send shock waves across a business, instill doubts and insecurity, and degrade employee morale. Retain workers’ confidence by speaking openly and honestly about decisions as they’re made. Acknowledge the burden placed on remaining teammates, and back up your words with supportive—and tangible—actions.
by Lauren Dixon on Talent Economy
Leaders, Stop Avoiding Hard Decisions
Leaders often put off making difficult decisions for one or more of these reasons: 1) They want to be fair, 2) they want to reduce employees’ pain or stress, and 3) they want to make absolutely sure they’re making the best decision. Unfortunately, taking an egalitarian approach can have disastrous—and irreversible—results. To avoid inciting gossip, eroding trust, and sparking skepticism, transparently share difficult news as soon as possible. Here’s why postponing a tough call could be the worst decision a leader makes.
by Ron Carucci on Harvard Business Review
A Simple Proposal to Help Fix Corporate America’s Cybersecurity Problem
Another day, another security breach. The latest population hit? Customers of Sears, Kmart, Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, and Delta Air Lines. Could a simple cybersecurity grading system protect consumers? Maybe. One thing’s for sure—what’s been done to beef up digital security so far isn’t working. To say the situation is out of control would be an understatement, and solving it has proved both difficult and complex. Assessing a company’s cyber preparedness with an A-F grading system could go a long way toward easing consumer anxiety.
by Craig A. Newman on the New York Times
Four Ways Forecasting Goes Wrong
Every entrepreneur knows that having accurate information about the future is vital to running a successful business. Follow these tips to keep your forecasting efforts on track: 1) Never forecast without a budget (and vice versa). 2) Make sure your projection process aligns with your business strategy. 3) Focus on “big picture” forecasting (work through details in the budget). 4) Follow the 80/20 rule. 5) Translate real-time data into the right balance between internal and external metrics.
by Ashish Pareek on CFO
The Fairness Factor in Performance Management
Despite efforts to improve their performance management systems, many companies continue to struggle, with some reinstating review systems they’d previously abandoned. Why? Because they aren’t addressing the “fairness factor.” To improve perceptions of fairness, companies need to: 1) Transparently link employees’ goals to business priorities; 2) give employees a say in setting their own goals; 3) invest in management coaching; 4) embrace the “power curve” for standout performance; and 5) reward extraordinary contributions with spot bonuses.
by Bryan Hancock, Elizabeth Hioe, and Bill Schaninger on McKinsey Quarterly
Moving from Best to Better and Better
In a world moving faster than ever before, companies need to find ways to create value that go beyond cutting costs. John Hagel and Maggie Wooll of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge looked at companies like Royal Caribbean Cruises, State Street Bank, and GE Appliances, which are leveraging their own employees to develop and deliver creative solutions to complex and unexpected problems. Hagel and Wooll suggest implementing small diverse internal work groups to collaborate, create friction, and push boundaries.
by Tanya Ott on Deloitte Insights’ Press Room
Six Ways Your Best Customers Can Help Market Your Business
Whether they’re proud employees who love touting your business as a great place to work or loyal customers who can’t help bragging about your products on social media, brand advocates can be an entrepreneur’s most powerful marketing tool. Encourage your best customers to share their enthusiasm by asking them to provide a written or video testimonial, starting a VIP panel that routinely asks for input and provides exclusive access to new services and other perks, and offering discounts and special offers when they help spread the word.
by Rieva Lesonsky on U.S. Small Business Association
How Are You Underwriting for Cyber Risks? What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
As the Facebook data breach continues to unfold, opportunities to offer cybersecurity insurance for all kinds of businesses are opening up for insurers. Before offering to underwrite cybersecurity, however, smart insurers will take a close look at certain unpredictable and challenging risk factors, including the behavior of your business’s employees. Key questions on the table: Have the data of any employees been breached? If so, what is the current financial situation of those affected? And are those employees active on the dark web?
by Gary Stockton on Experian
Eleven Ways to Build Stronger Teams
Higher quality work. Faster problem-solving. Better customer service. These are some of the benefits of cultivating a high-performing team. To keep team connections strong, promote unity, and encourage growth, try these tips: 1) Spend an hour a day with your team, either on the floor or in the field. 2) Ask employees to define the team’s purpose. If you’ve already got one, discuss how the group is living up to—or falling short of—that vision. 3) Help employees understand competitors’ products and brainstorm new ways to outpace the business’s key rivals.
by Desda Moss on SHRM
Three Remarkably Powerful Leadership and Life Lessons from Jazz
In a world where everything around us is constantly changing, being able to keep playing after hitting a wrong note is the key to success. Here are three things your team can learn from jazz musicians: 1) When the unexpected happens, improvise and adjust. 2) Remember that every team member has an instrument to play and deserves a moment in the spotlight. 3) When it comes to growth, risk and failure are as important as achieving success. Don’t be afraid to take chances and suggest new ways to play familiar tunes.
by Peter Economy on Inc.
Your Most Valuable Selling Skill and Other Important Insights
Buyers’ mindsets are always changing. To succeed in 2018, sales professionals must be willing to change along with them. Respondents to Selling Power magazine’s 2018 Selling Challenges Study shared the biggest challenges facing sales professionals today and how they’re able to overcome them. Topping the list? Understanding the customers’ own needs and challenges and directing them toward solutions the sales pro can provide. Runners up: Succeeding against low-cost providers, understanding buyer decision-making, and coaxing buyers out of their comfort zones.
by Ben Taylor on Selling Power
Should Your Bank Be Allowed to Micromanage Your Business?
In anticipation of the poor decisions borrowers might make, lenders typically charge higher interest rates to offset their risk. New research suggests that a “Ulysses Pact,” an agreement that gives lenders the right to take over some of a company’s decision-making if the market value of its borrowing base drops sharply, might be a better option. The pact offers lenders more security while encouraging borrowers to make more prudent business decisions and saving them from high-interest lending rates. Here’s how.
by Edmund L. Andrews on Stanford Graduate School of Business
Fixing Poor Engagement Starts with Understanding its Cause
If employee morale and performance are waning, send your HR department straight to the source—your employees—to find out why. Start by sending out an anonymous survey and holding focus groups where you can have direct conversations with a broad range of workers. Ask how people feel about leadership, career development opportunities, company pride, and working relationships. Then assemble larger town hall meetings to publicly clarify any issues the surveys and groups uncover. Be prepared to act on what you hear.
by Mark Feffer on SHRM
The Next Generation Board Room
Want to better engage your board members and give them a chance to “live” in your company’s world? Try granting them access to real-time data. Josh James, CEO and founder of Domo, a Utah-based software company, did so when he realized directors were spending too much board meeting time reviewing data versus planning for growth. Ultimately, James found that providing a consistent feed of real-time data made it easier for board members to ask questions, offer guidance, and have a meaningful impact on the business.
by Josh James and Glenn Solomon on CEO
Here’s Which Social Network Has the Best Community for Your Business in 2018
Wondering which social networks offer the best bang for small businesses? While the nine platforms on this list may not surprise you—usual suspects Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are among them—the reasons they rank just might. For example, did you know that 50 million small businesses use Facebook to connect with customers? Or that your best bet for reaching students or graduates is LinkedIn, which boasts more than 39 million student members? Or that 59% of Internet users between 18 and 29 use Instagram?
by Warren Knight on Business 2 Community
Take It or Leave It: How the New Tax Plan Impacts Small Businesses
Tax season is in full swing and you’re probably wondering how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect your business’s bottom line. Here’s what to watch out for if you’re a small business owner: 1) Average tax rates will go down for businesses that are structured as C corporations and have taxable incomes that are more than ~$90,000. 2) The new pass-through deduction should provide tax savings for many non-corporate taxpayers. 3) For taxpayers purchasing new equipment, the new bonus depreciation rules should provide tax savings and cash flow benefits.
by Brock Blake on Forbes
“The Workplace Is Killing People and Nobody Cares”
Welcome to the modern workplace. According to recent polls, job satisfaction and engagement are low; distrust in management is high; and wage growth overall has stagnated. While the gig economy is growing, so is economic insecurity. And a strikingly high percentage of people, even those still covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, are forgoing treatment and medications because of cost issues. In his recently published book Dying for a Paycheck, author Jeffrey Pfeffer examines the toll that today’s work culture is taking on employees’ health.
by Dylan Walsh on Insights by Stanford Business; also listen to an interview with Pfeffer on KQED’s Forum
What Kind of Leadership Works Best at Your Company?
Just as clothing designs go in and out of fashion, so do leadership styles. For example, challenge-driven leadership, which thrives on ambiguity and endless opportunity, seems made for the high-tech industry but may never be the right fit for a small-but-growing family-owned business. The trick is to home in on the vision of leadership your company supports and then do what you can to nurture and preserve it. If you’re having trouble pinning yours down, pay attention to who quits or gets fired. Talent movement can reveal the leadership skills that matter most.
by Deborah Ancona and Hal Gregersen on Harvard Business Review
Thirteen Lessons of Innovation to Guide You through 2018
Fast Company magazine’s 2018 list of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” is brimming with examples of creativity, discipline, and positive change. Here’s what top companies like Apple, Patagonia, and Spotify can teach your business about risk-taking in the year ahead: 1) Keep your eyes focused on the horizon, but don’t lose sight of the details that could trip you up. 2) Being transparent about your business can level the playing field and keep your competitors on their toes. 3) Machines aren’t taking over…yet…but they are enabling new activities.
by Robert Safian on Fast Company
Planning to Apply for Business Credit? Three Guidelines for Success
Did you know that lenders can request a credit check on a business’s owner as well as the business itself? It’s true. To make sure your credit scores and reports don’t unearth any surprises, conduct a little due diligence in advance. First, order a copy of your company’s business credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies and review them for accuracy. You’re also legally entitled to one free copy of your personal credit report each year from annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, request an investigation and get the results in writing.
by Marco Carbajo on U.S. Small Business Administration
How to Harness Employees’ Emotional Energy
Emotional energy—that special something that makes employees feel proud to work for a business and spurs them to go above and beyond on the job—is critical to understanding employee engagement. Here’s how it works: A company’s unique strengths (the way its products enhance or change consumers’ lives, for example) feed workers’ emotional energy, driving them to work harder to help the company achieve its goals. Achieving those goals fills employees with pride, motivating them to repeat the cycle and strive for even greater success.
by Alice Zhou on strategy + business
The Rise of the Servant Leader
Servant leadership, touted as a practice that “enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world,” sounds lofty and idealistic. What does it look like to a manager with a budget to maintain and goals to meet? It looks like this: Through thoughtful and conscientious action, you approach difficult situations without judgment, blame, or control. You resolve problems firmly, with compassion. And you support, encourage, and strive to understand employees, treating them with respect at all times.
by Ken Blanchard on Chief Learning Officer
The Biggest E-commerce Trends You Need to Know About
According to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales in the U.S. soared to $453.5 billion in 2017, up 16 percent from the previous year. To build similar momentum, you’ve got to double-down on your successes, learn from your mistakes, and find new ways to capture attention, drive conversions, and secure customer loyalty. Tap into this year’s leading trends—like messenger automation, influencer marketing, and augmented or virtual reality—to reach a broader audience and provide better service and shopping experiences for your customers.
by William Harris on Business 2 Community
What to Do (and What to Avoid) When Negotiating With Venture Capitalists
When it’s time to negotiate your next funding deal, wouldn’t you like to have a few advantages on your side of the table? Start by pitching your company to more than one VC and see if you can land simultaneous offers. When it’s time to draft your terms, reduce legalese by using a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) contract. During negotiation, prioritize landing the best terms in the category that’s most important to you (i.e., financial or control). Also, pay attention to the smallest of details and identify the deal-breakers that would make you walk.
by Annalyn Kurtz on Inc.
Viewpoint: How to Steer Clear of Ageism in the Workplace
A recent lawsuit filed against several U.S. employers including Cox Communications, T-Mobile, and Amazon has put a spotlight on ageism in the workplace. To protect your organization against charges of age discrimination, add these tactics to your HR team’s arsenal: 1) Use terms like “entry-level” or “senior-level” when describing job openings, 2) consider all applicants for every job, 3) ask an age-diverse panel to interview and evaluate candidates, and 4) make sure your anti-harassment policy covers ageism.
by Kathy Gurchiek on SHRM
The Dangerous New Dance as Corporations Balance Business and Social Risk
In response to public pressure spurred on by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #BoycottNRA, businesses are taking the lead on social concerns. Companies that fail to recognize how social consciousness (or a lack thereof) can impact their bottom line are playing with fire. Responding poorly—or not at all—to a major event like the Parkland school shooting can cost businesses valuable talent, customers, and market share. Here’s why choosing to stand up instead of stand by can mean the difference between business success and failure.
by Barie Carmichael on CNBC
The Power of a Free Popsicle
In their book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chip and Dan Heath explain how “thinking in moments” helps companies create memorable experiences. Case in point: the Popsicle Hotline at the Magic Castle Hotel in Hollywood. Visitors at the pool use a special phone to request a popsicle and minutes later, an employee wearing white gloves delivers a complimentary popsicle on a silver platter. Small moments like these cost little to produce but pay off by delivering something visitors will talk about for weeks.
by Theodore Kinni on Insights by Stanford Business
Most Companies Have No CFO Succession Plan
While the field of corporate finance is known for being highly disciplined, there’s one area where CFOs display a surprising degree of complacency: their own plans for succession. Despite a trend toward internal CFO appointments, a new Korn Ferry survey of finance leaders revealed that only 34% had a succession plan in place for their role. Shocked? Maybe you shouldn’t be. That’s because most businesses focus on their CEO’s succession plan first and worry about how they’re going to fill supporting roles later.
by David McCann on CFO
The Ins and Outs of Team Interviewing
Adding team interviews to your hiring process can be a great way to identify candidates’ collaborative and interpersonal skills, see how they interact with potential coworkers, and allow them to ask questions about company culture and management. But don’t pile everybody into a room without preparation. Make sure interviewers: 1) Decide in advance what to ask, 2) give everyone a chance to talk, 3) keep the gathering professional and on-topic, and 4) clearly understand how the final hiring decision will be made.
by Roy Maurer on Association for Talent Development
The Best Brands Are the Ones that Build “Belonging”
In all parts of the world, people in every household, community, and organization share a common fundamental need: to belong. Despite the growing number of ways we have to engage technologically, communication via device is isolating more people than it’s connecting. Enter companies like Crossfit, SoulCycle, Apple, and Starbucks—they’re filling the void with in-person classes, events, and gatherings that foster a sense of shared purpose, create commercial opportunities, and build deep brand loyalty.
by Sebastian Buck on Fast Company
How to Boost Revenue through Operational Improvements
While many companies are quick to boost revenue by ramping up sales efforts or revising pricing and promotion strategies, few stop to look at whether a hiccup in operations could be causing a shortfall. Review your company’s processes and procedures first and you could uncover an easy way to reverse revenue deterioration fast. Here’s how one company increased its revenue by 15 percent by homing in on—and quickly correcting—deficiencies in its quote-to-ship process.
by Renee Fellman on the Business Journals
Want Better Cash Flow? Listen to Your Credit Team
Want to maximize your company’s cash flow right now? Enlist the help of your credit team to increase your chances of landing sales that lead to profits: 1) Grant your field sales team access to your customer relationship management system and provide them with real-time credit decisions, 2) develop a list of pre-approved leads/targets and set pre-approved credit limits for prior customers, and 3) use risk-based, predictive scoring to identify customers who’ll pay quickly and are unlikely to go out of business.
by Eric Dowdell on CFO