Showing posts from March, 2012

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business. In the months since my biography of Jobs came out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some of those readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on

Three Rules for Innovation Teams

Follow these rules, and you'll see a dramatic difference in your own team's ability to innovate: 1. Manage Creative Friction The wrong type of friction on teams makes people hate each other and hold back, but the right type gets results. How do you encourage good creative friction? Share the experience. The whole team, including the client, work together through all steps of the ideation process from consumer learning, to analysis of possibilities, to envisioning the final idea. Working with consumers directly to understand their needs and aspirations is an especially powerful bonding experience that gives the team a common sense of purpose, and creates a shared foundation of facts and feelings. Remove communication barriers. People communicate in different ways, so we do social styles analyses to help people understand how their teammates tend to communicate. Are they a driver, amiable, expressive or analytical? They learn that it is not that Harry is necessarily overb

Reintegration Grants Provide Opportunity to Rebuild Lives

Communities benefit when formerly incarcerated individuals are able to effectively reintegrate into their neighborhoods. But all too often, people who have been convicted of crimes face difficult employment challenges when they are released. Two out of three incarcerated adults had jobs before they went to jail, but we’ve seen that incarceration can reduce their earning potential by as much as 40 percent when they get out. If people are unable to secure jobs when they are released from incarceration, they cannot support themselves or their families – and there’s an increased chance that they will return to a life of crime. Nationally, recidivism rates are substantial, but for participants in the Labor Department’s Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program, the recidivism rate is just 14 percent. This initiative’s success is something we’re proud of – and poised to build upon. More here .

Unemployment Rate Among Post-9/11 Vets Still Falling

On March 21, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2011 report on the unemployment situation of Veterans. Unfortunately, some news outlets and Veterans organizations have keyed on a single statistical measure—the mean (average)—that, when taken out of context, is a bit misleading. For that reason, it’s important to look at the bigger picture and note what’s actually happening: While we still have a long way to go, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 (Gulf War II-era) Veterans is—and has been—in an overall downward trend since January 2010. In covering the BLS report, one news headline blared, “Unemployment Rises for Afghanistan and Iraq Era Veterans.” Another called the situation “bleak.” And one Veterans organization called the report “discouraging.” But, in fact, these reactions aren’t entirely accurate. Below, charts demonstrate the reason why. For more, here .

Managers Need to Up Their Game with Social Media

Using social media to accomplish a meaningful purpose involves more than providing new technology and praying for success. Successful mass collaboration places new requirements on an organization, particularly its managers. While many organizations are technically ready for social media, they should question the readiness of managers to embrace new ways of working collaboratively to achieve social success. Why? Because social media and mass collaboration fundamentally challenge the relationship between responsibility, resources, and management. Normally, managers accept responsibility provided it comes with control of the resources required to deliver on that responsibility. The connection between responsibility and resources sits at the heart of management authority, control, accountability, and organizational design. Look at an organization chart and you will see the distribution of resources and responsibilities — the currency by which managers measure themselves and compare thems

Cuomo Announces Small Business Barnstorming

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will send a team of officials from at least six agencies — including the departments of State, Labor, Taxation and Finance as well as Empire State Development, State Liquor Authority, and the Workers Compensation Board — to every region of the state to talk about rules and programs intended to help small businesses. The program is a subset of the state’s economic development efforts; it’s dubbed NY Open for Business. One of the first sessions will be held in the Capital Region on 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at Schenectady County Community College, 78 Washington Avenue in Schenectady. For more information on the sessions and the initiative, visit HERE . “This program is all about creating jobs because when small businesses do well, New York does well,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It so important for us to get out of the office and go into communities to see how we can help anyone who wants to start, grow or improve a business and that’s what this program will do.”

SBA Announces New Partnership to Connect Small Businesses with Corporate Supply Chains

A new private-public collaboration will help small businesses strengthen their revenue streams by gaining access to more than $300 billion in combined supply chain spending by a consortium of 15 of America’s largest corporations, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced today. Supplier Connection, created by the IBM Foundation, is part of the Obama Administration’s American Supplier Initiative and is designed to help bridge the gap between small, nimble businesses looking for new opportunities and large corporations looking for innovative new ideas and diversity in their supply chains. “The American Supplier Initiative is part of a comprehensive solution to grow small businesses, create jobs and to ensure that America has a strong, deep and diverse supply chain,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “While it is clear that becoming a corporate supplier can lead to business growth, breaking in can be a challenge for small businesses. The Supplier Connection will be one tool

Export Nation 2012: How U.S. Metropolitan Areas Are Driving National Growth

The Great Recession reset the world economic map. Suddenly, with the bulk of the world’s economic growth transferred beyond the borders of a recession-mired West and into emerging markets, American metropolitan areas and the nation as a whole were left to cast about for new sources of growth. Such a search for growth is why, in the months after the crash, a chorus of business leaders and economists called for a new emphasis on exports in a "rebalanced" American economy. ... And it is also why the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings published in summer 2010 the initial edition of Export Nation — a first-of-its-kind analysis of both goods and services exports at the metropolitan level in the United States during the period from 2003 to 2008. ... This second edition of Export Nation updates and builds upon the results of the first analysis to examine changes across the metropolitan export landscape in 2010, the first year of the nation’s economic recovery.

How Good a Boss Are You?

I recently asked a struggling business owner how he thought he rated as a boss. He responded by asking, How do you know if you’re a good boss? What defines a good boss? No doubt, bosses and employees have different perspectives and can see things differently. To me, a good boss is someone who runs a good company and treats people well. Here are some questions that I think can help assess a boss’s performance:

'World's Most Ethical Companies' Revealed

Turns out successful businesses aren't concerned only with their bottom line. . Ethisphere Institute , which compiled the list, says it based its rankings on the following factors: ethics and compliance programs; reputation, leadership and innovation; governance; corporate citizenship and responsibility; and culture of ethics. (VIA here .)

Selling Online – Is It a Hobby or a Business?

From HERE : Are you doing business on the Internet? Selling on eBay? Promoting or advertising someone else’s products on your website or blog? Online money-making opportunities are plentiful – from selling your old books via online auction to promoting products and services for online merchants, or becoming an online merchant yourself. But at what point does this mean you are in business yourself and, since you are making money online, what are your tax and regulatory obligations?

The sharin' of the green: Cash mobs' descend on small businesses and snap up merchandise

From USA Today : Organized groups of do-gooders — "cash mobs," modeled after public-spectacle "flash mobs" — are descending upon small businesses, snapping up merchandise and rallying at pubs afterward to celebrate their pro-community mission. The shopping sprees have taken place in dozens of cities from San Diego to Buffalo. The packs organize on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, where they get details on where and when a strike will occur. Farmers markets, toy retailers and hardware stores have been on the hit list. Mob members typically spend at least $10 to $20. The altruistic acts provide much-welcomed economic and emotional support for small-business owners

Leadership: 5 Tips To Improve Communication

Great communication is a key to being a good leader. Communicating with the entire team can be a challenging thing to take on. An article posted in linked in highlights several key areas in which a leader can increase the level of communication with employees at all levels of the organization. The improvement in communication with employees will result in higher employee engagement. This blog post will highlight five key areas any leader can concentrate on to improve his or her ability to communicate more effectively. More HERE .

Blogging For Small Business Owners

"Do you have a blog for your small business? You should consider it. Blogging enables you to build credibility, expertise and thought leadership in and around your business. It is also a great way to showcase information about your product or service in a way that provides you flexibility to add information on-line without having to make changes to your primary website. Given all of these advantages the biggest challenges in blogging typically revolve around generating ideas to write about and the time to create posts." More HERE . I would add that you can take your blog and post the link on your Twitter or Facebook page. You DO have one, right?

How to Really Show Your Customers You Care

All businesses claim to be customer-centric. You'll see signs on the door that the customer is "the center of our business," or "always right," or maybe "our most important asset." We know from experience that only some businesses manage to rise above the noise to give us great "user experiences" and truly "customer centric" service. Today's panel on "All about You Them: The User Experience" at Inc.'s GrowCo conference brought together two women whose businesses not only strive to put the customer at the center, but also their businesses absolutely depend on that occurring. More HERE .

Employment in New York: Who Creates Jobs?

Here is a the February 2012 Employment in New York State newsletter. Note the lead article, "Who Creates Jobs?" One of the most widely held beliefs about the U.S. economy is that small businesses create the most new jobs. Statements over the past 30 years by political leaders (see above) reinforce this notion. However, recent research by John Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland and Census Bureau economists Ron Jarmin and Javier Miranda (hereafter listed as HJM) found that the accuracy of this idea is“subject to a host of statistical and measurement issues.” These issues include: • How large is a “small” business? • How do we measure “job growth”? • Is the age of the business considered? This article takes a closer look at the issues outlined above, using New York State data from the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics (BDS).

Grown in New York: FreshConnect

From the New York State Executive Chamber: Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the FreshConnect program in 2011 to create new farmers' markets and provide support to existing ones. In addition to providing farmers a consumer outlet, the FreshConnect program helped create local jobs for youth in urban areas and facilitated an increase in the sale of locally-grown food. After the success of last year's program, the initiative is now expanding to include not just farmers' markets, but other innovative projects that connect underserved communities with New York farm products. Click here to learn more. Potential expansion projects include: programs to increase access to farm products at food pantries delivery programs that send farm goods to areas in need programs for low-income individuals to access food directly from a farm new farmers' markets that are located in underserved neighborhoods satellite markets that purchase produce from an existing

Five Tools for Naming a Startup

Think about it: Most customers will hear your business name before they know anything about your products or services. Like all first impressions, you only get one, so you better make it count. Leonard Green, professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, suggests that a name be quick, unique and easy to remember. “You have 10, 15, 20 seconds to catch people’s attention,” he says. “Just get in there and do things differently than what everybody else is trying to do, because that’s where the home runs come from.” More HERE .

Is Starting a Business an Art or a Science?

Business as Art Fact: Entrepreneurship is an irrational pursuit. Founding a company--much less one that could "change the world"--entails insane amounts of risk, ridiculously low chances of success and zero work-life balance. Nevertheless, the value of risk-taking is incalculable, insists Steve Blank, professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, who pioneered the Lean LaunchPad course that the National Science Foundation adopted for its new incubator boot camp, I-Corps. Blank started a total of eight technology companies--two of them massive failures, one that set him up for life--before turning his attention to the next generation of visionaries, to whom he's been extolling the virtues of embracing his particular brand of irrationality. More HERE .

Sales Tax 101 for Small Business Owners and Online Retailers

Collecting sales tax is one of the most confusing aspects of transacting business – online and off! Whether you’re starting a new business or expanding into e-commerce, here’s what you need to know about your sales tax obligations. Read More

Free SEO Book for Small Businesses

The JM Internet Group, a leader in providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) training online, is proud to announce that the 2012 edition of their SEO Fitness Workbook - a leading book on Search Engine Optimization - is available free of charge as a review copy up to April 1, 2012. The new SEO book charts how to get a company or organization to the top of Google and Bing step-by-step and includes access to the SEO Toolbook, a compendium of over 100 amazing free search engine optimization tools for small business. More HERE .

Made in America is Hot: Small Manufacturers Driving Economic Growth, Job Creation

According to the Labor Department, more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since the start of 2010. America’s small manufacturers are a critical part of that. BLS and Census data reports that 98 percent of America’s manufacturing firms are small. More than one in three Americans who work in manufacturing, work at a small business. Read More .

Illegal job interview questions

If you are a manager at a large corporation with a well-staffed HR and legal department, you've probably gotten a wealth of training on how to conduct a job interview. But if you own your own company or are a manager in a small business, it might be up to you to keep yourself out of trouble when you start the hiring process. Do you know what kinds of questions you're legally allowed to ask? Knowing the limits will help you avoid lawsuits and make smarter hiring decisions. First of all, there are a limited set of topics that are protected -- in other words, you may not make hiring decisions based on these considerations. The good news is that the list is quite short and is mostly obvious stuff that common sense would dictate is off limits. Sometimes, though, applying this list in real-world situations can be confusing. More HERE .

Tips for Building a Strong Online Community Around Your Startup

Building a community around your startup can be one of the cheapest ways to create momentum for your product. A community is much more than a one-time marketing campaign, and can help you throughout your company’s life cycle if you take the time to grow it right. HERE are 10 tips for getting started.