If you are among the 60% of entrepreneurs who are collecting data but not using it to make decisions, the solopreneur and author of this article demonstrates from her own experience why big data isn’t just for big business. By “trusting the numbers and making decisions to act based on the data I collected,” she describes how she eliminated a revenue source and still doubled her income in a year by tracking and continuously measuring three types of data: monthly expenses and revenue, which led to her decision to drop her contracted commercial office space; granular customer data – “anything and everything you can measure” – which allows for making changes throughout customer cycles and helps with future sales; and monthly evaluation of the efficiency of systems for repetitive tasks, such as invoicing.
Drawing on the experience of how the president and CEO of Campbell’s Soup turned the company around 180 degrees from its utterly dysfunctional state in 2001, the author details five practices to adopt to do the same for any toxic workplace. Premised on building relationships and trust, they are: get down and dirty; show some love; set the example; humble yourself; and lastly, be constructive.
He concludes: “If you hold a leadership position, whether you’re the CEO, middle manager, or team lead, never underestimate the power of your influence. Every time you get down and dirty, every word of commendation or thank-you note you give, every time you set the example, every mistake you admit, and every piece of constructive advice you give will contribute to building deep and trusting relationships. And help you turn toxic into thriving.”
Of this year’s Inc. 500 companies, there are only a few that were founded in the 20th century – in fact, 85% of this year’s top honorees were founded in 2010 or later. But what they may lack in dynamism they’ve made up for with resilience, adaptability, or flat-out luck, demonstrating that even elder companies can achieve “so-called hockey-stick growth.” Here the author tells the business stories behind three of them: ZPower, a manufacturer of rechargeable silver zinc batteries that spent 14 years searching for a market; UCW Logistics, re-invented from a family-based cotton warehousing company dating back to 1925; and the Language Group, a translation-services business founded in 1999 that happened to be in the right position, albeit 11 years later, to benefit from a translation mandate from the U.S. Affordable Health Act of 2010.
While building a team that embraces diversity and inclusion can be challenging for any business, it arguably can be even more so for tech companies. Here the author shares his interview with Kate Glazebrook, co-founder and CEO of Applied, a hiring platform that uses behavioral and data science to remove bias from hiring decisions. The specific subjects discussed in some depth are: how diversity makes your team stronger; common roadblocks to building a diverse team; a new “de-biased” hiring methodology; and what you can do today to structure the hiring process to remove bias.
In his annual letter to Amazon shareholders in 2014, Bezos outlined what makes for a good business opportunity: “A dreamy business offering has at least four characteristics. Customers love it, it can grow to very large size, it has strong returns on capital, and it’s durable in time — with the potential to endure for decades.” He was referring to three Amazon initiatives that were years in the making – Marketplace, Prime, and Amazon Web Services – and none of which were immediately successful. Bezos should know, having steered Amazon’s growth from a small online bookstore to an enterprise valued at nearly $1 trillion.
Most often, people speak of exercise in the physical sense. But what about becoming more mentally fit? The author states that by becoming “mentally strong,” you will be better at regulating your thoughts, managing your emotions, and boosting your productivity. Here he discusses 12 specific things mentally strong people practice that makes them – and their businesses – resilient, from overcoming their inner critic to respecting (and even liking) their competitors.
If you’re not investing in capital improvements and increasing wages to attract quality candidates, then you’re likely behind the curve. According to the May 2018 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index survey, 67% of small businesses are making capital outlays while 35% report they are boosting wages. The optimism index is at its second highest level in its 45-year history, notably in May, with gains in sales, compensation and profits. Viewed as a trend, it indicates a high point in the overall business cycle, which also means it won’t stay at record levels indefinitely.
The City of Toronto has announced its adoption of the Fundica Funding API to assist Toronto entrepreneurs and businesses by providing easy, timely access to grants, tax credits and other government incentives. Fundica President Mike Lee describes its API as an “intelligent funding discovery, tracking, and matching technology” to accelerate access to funds for entrepreneurs. You can learn more about the API and test it for free at the Fundica website.
It is common for startups founders to “operate in stealth mode,” offering no details about their idea or progress until “the big reveal and rollout.” The author notes that the reason most often cited is to prevent a competitor from stealing their idea and beating them to market, but argues this approach costs them far more than they risk by being open. Of course, you shouldn’t ever disclose patent details before filing, but by seeking visibility and feedback for your idea and solution, you can still make pivots and corrections at minimal cost. In the new business culture of “coopetition,” whereby entrepreneurs talk to customers and competitors talk to each other, the author puts forward seven key reasons that being open is better for your startup than trying to fly under the radar. They include: evaluating customer response prior to development; getting competitors to surface early; demonstrating a minimum viable product; and meeting investors before asking for funding.
When you’ve decided it’s time to further grow your company, one strategy is to employ a remote workforce. In turn, this may require scaling, and scaling a remote workforce involves specific issues that must be addressed which are different from growing on site.
Here, the author details seven key strategies for successfully scaling your remote workforce, each with specific suggestions: don’t rush, as there will be many details to tend to and there’s the risk of expanding to quickly; don’t ignore physical spaces, such as shared incubator hubs for remote teams; hire high-quality talent, as bad hires are not only costly, but will consume too much of your time; invest in quality technology for remote collaboration; build a positive workplace culture, using collaboration tools such as Slack for both work-related and non-work employee interaction; consider attention to onboarding essential; and finally, delegate, as it will be essential if growth is to strengthen rather than weaken your business.