4 Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore

By Brian Moran

It’s tough talking to business owners these days: No one seems to have time anymore because they’re too busy putting out fires in their companies. Whether it’s due to customer complaints, employee issues or problems with vendors, business owners are losing sight of the bigger picture.

Getting Out of the Weeds

This happens when you spend more time working “in” your business, dealing with day-to-day problems, than you do working “on” your business, focusing on the long-term goals and health of your company. It’s a vicious cycle. The more you get caught up in the weeds, only seeing what’s 3 feet in …read more

Ariane Goldman of HATCH: Disrupting Fashion for Moms-to-Be

By Katie Morell

A frustrated and pregnant Ariane Goldman was suffering from a sleepless night in mid-2010 when she sat down at her computer and started searching for fashionable maternity wear. Typing “chic maternity” into Google brought up nothing but cheap, circa-1999 trends (remember the empire waist?). Entering “how to look hot while pregnant” also brought up nothing of note.

And that’s when a light bulb went off: Why not create a luxurious, high-end maternity collection?

“Yes, there were other nice maternity designers out there, but the styles were uncomfortable and not me—lots of snaps and buttons,” Goldman says. “I wanted to create something chic …read more

Think Smaller and How to Ask for Help

By JJ Ramberg

In this week’s Top Two Tips, CNBC contributor and former investment banker and investor Carol Roth, and John Jantsch, marketing consultant and author of the book, “Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer,” join us. They share what you should keep in mind when asking for help and why thinking smaller will make you and your company more efficient.

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Why You Should Tell Your Team Exactly What You Earn

By Barry Moltz

For small businesses looking to recruit employees, closed doors, private offices and secrets must be a thing of the past. Today, employees want to work for companies that are transparent and authentic—which means business owners are expected to disclose the business’s financial results, including compensation.

This open book management philosophy is about sharing almost all financial and operational information with every employee in order to make a firm more profitable.

In the past, company financial statements of private corporations were only shared with senior executives. Open-book management strives to extend this feeling of responsibility to every team member and forge trust with …read more

Sharing Economy 2.0: Sharing a Peek at the Next Generation

By Kelly Spors

The term “sharing economy” entered the American lexicon just a few years ago when a few quirky-named startups began popping up. All were founded on the concept that people could use online tools to borrow or rent things from each other.

Over the past few years, however, this sharing economy has exploded in ways that seemed unimaginable. Concepts that were once farfetched are now among the hottest companies on the block. The $10 billion valuation of “couchsurfing” platform Airbnb, for instance, means it’s now worth more than Hyatt Hotels, which had about 75,000 employees and nearly 500 hotels as …read more

Forget Business Books: Why Reading Fiction Is Better for Your Business

By Rohit Bhargava

If you had a bucket list for this summer, chances are, reading a book for pleasure might have been on it.

Whether you managed to check that aspiration off the list or not, it reveals a bias that many of us have when it comes to thinking about books, especially fiction: They’re great reality diversions we can leave behind once we get back to “real work.”

The truth is, reading fiction can be as valuable to your business as reading a business book. For busy entrepreneurs, taking the time to sit down with a great book, though, can certainly seem like an …read more

The Right Time To Fire Yourself and Building B2B Relationships

By JJ Ramberg

Small business consultant Barry Moltz and Christiane Lemieux, the executive creative director at Wayfair.com, answer viewer questions about the right time to fire yourself from your own company and how to access the decision makers when trying to build B2B relationships.

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Top 10 Business Tips From This Week’s OPEN Forum

By Anthonia Akitunde

1. Show why your topic is important. A great story can boost a business or product into the stratosphere, but storytelling can just as easily bring you crashing to the ground if it’s not compelling to an audience, writes OPEN Forum contributor Mike Michalowicz. Great storytelling in public speaking does more than stating facts; it should compel the audience to act after hearing it. (From “5 Ways Storytelling Can Kill Your Message,” by Mike Michalowicz)

2. Follow the cues your body sends. Pushing through fatigue isn’t always the best idea: It can lead to you submitting sloppy …read more

Here’s How Small Businesses Can Provide Stellar Customer Support

By Julie Bawden Davis

As a small-business owner, you likely went into business to provide customers with a stellar product or service. Somewhere along the line you realized you also had to provide customer support, too—but didn’t know where to start. This topic was broached recently when OPEN Forum community member T.S. Praveen Kumar, CEO and founder of Animonks Animation Pvt. Ltd., asked:

“How do you guys handle customer support for your startups/companies? You may get a lot of email support tickets, calls from clients and on-site live chat support—how are you handling it? Even if you want to hire a …read more

What Do the Fast-Food Wage Protests Mean for Small Business?

By Kelly Spors

Fast-food workers in 150 cities across the United States protested on Thursday, demanding that their employers pay them at least $15 per hour—a campaign called Fight for 15 being led by the Service Employees International Union.

The protests even led to many arrests in Detroit, Pittsburgh and New York.

The call for higher wages in the fast-food industry echoes the debates happening in many cities and states over the minimum wage. Seattle and several other local and state governments have enacted new, much higher minimum wages this year; labor activists and low-wage workers say paying all workers …read more