Meet 7 Entrepreneurs Who Determine What’s Cool for the Rest of Us

By Darren Dahl

By their very nature, entrepreneurs disrupt the status quo. Just think about how today’s household names—established businesses like Apple and Amazon all the way to newer successes like Uber and Airbnb—each brought a new perspective to their sector and changed it forever.

I recently connected with a group of emerging entrepreneurs who are disrupting their industries by changing the conversation about what we think is possible. Here, these entrepreneurial trendsetters share what changes they have in store for us.

Chris and Marty McCurry, Highland Craftsmen

When Chris and Marty McCurry first started Highland Craftsmen back in 1990, few people were talking …read more

6 Ways to Get Over Your Fear of Conflict

By Vivian Giang

Have you ever been rudely interrupted during a meeting? How about having to deal with a business partner who just can’t keep up their end of the bargain—ever?

During these uncomfortable situations, you may have avoided confronting the other person because you weren’t sure what to say and didn’t know how the conflict would affect your relationship. That’s a fairly common response, because no one wants to be the “bad guy” or have the awkward conversation that’s necessary to work things out. Instead, most people just want to be liked and accepted by others, so they simply let it go.

But if …read more

Why Simplicity Is the Key to Success

By Brian Moran

You’ve probably heard the term “big data.” It’s a buzzword that refers to the huge amount of data that is available thanks to modern technology. According to IBM, every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—so much that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Some of this data is brief, such as a post to Twitter, and some of it is lengthy, like a complex scientific study. For many of us, it’s a mixed blessing: The Internet is an unlimited source of information, much of …read more

What Your Business Can Learn From the Best Small Ad Agencies

By Rohit Bhargava

If there’s an argument against using a small advertising agency, I’ve probably used it. After 15 years leading work for dozens of clients at two of the biggest ad agencies in the world, and participating in close to 100 pitches—I know how to argue against a smaller competitor. Yet for more than a year now, I have become that smaller competitor. I run my own consulting group, and I work with those large agencies as an outsider now.

So when the annual list of Small Agency Awards are announced by AdAge, as they were a few weeks ago, I …read more

Paddleboard Panic: One Company Keeps Its Head Above Water

By JJ Ramberg

How many points of failure do you have in your business? If a supplier doesn’t come through or an employee quits, what effect would it have on your company? The owner of a paddleboard business in Oregon shares his story of a massive setback after a fire destroyed a factory.

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3 Ways To Improve Your Voice and Body Language In Meetings

By JJ Ramberg

In business meetings, your audience is noticing a lot more than what youre saying. How you present the information and what you sound like are equally important. Your body language and your quality of voice have more clout than in the past. Susan Berkley, the CEO of the Great Voice Company, shares three ways to represent your brand in the best way possible.

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Top 10 Business Tips From This Week’s OPEN Forum

By Anthonia Akitunde

1. Find out if an interviewee will fit into your company’s culture. Sure, you want any job candidate to have the requisite years of experience and killer resume. But if they can’t get along with your other employees, they’re ultimately a no-go. To avoid hiring someone who’s a bad fit for your company, try to make sure as many people from your company interact with them as possible, advises Pat Petitti, co-founder of HourlyNerd, an online talent marketplace featuring MBA grad students and alumni. (From “What You Should (and Should Never) Ask When Interviewing Job Applicants,” by Geoff …read more

A 5-Step Plan to Lowering Your Energy Costs

By Bruce Stewart

In many states, local utility is no longer the only game in town when your business buys electricity or natural gas supply. In restructured markets, customers can choose to shop for a competitive energy supplier instead, to find the best deal and service for their needs—and that can mean big benefits for small businesses. The local utility still maintains the grid reliability, including the poles and wires, and still handles outage repairs and meter readings. State law mandates that all customers must be treated the same regardless of their choice of energy suppliers.

To start comparing your energy options, head to …read more

The Most Productive Times to Hold a Meeting

By Carla Turchetti

It’s Monday morning. The first thing you do to kick off the new week is gather your team and start with a meeting. That’s productive, right?

“Monday morning meetings are not a good idea,” says Patrick Sanaghan, president of The Sanaghan Group, an organizational consulting firm in suburban Philadelphia. “When people get to work on Monday morning, they need to center themselves and get on the same page with their people.”

Even if the meeting only involves the most senior level of employees, the Monday morning get-together slows down progress for everyone.

“If the senior leaders are all in a group together Monday …read more

Mind Mapping: 5 Ways a Visual Plan Can Energize Your Business

By Angela Stringfellow

Small-business owners thrive on ideas and plans. Didn’t your business start as an idea? And didn’t you create a business plan to help you launch that new idea?

Now that your business is up and running, your plate is likely overflowing with daily tasks and responsibilities—with no room for planning out how new ideas can best fit into your business.

One valuable visualization tool that’s being increasingly used for business applications is mind mapping. Mind maps are useful for brainstorming, planning and visualizing everything from marketing strategies and meeting notes to complete business plans.

Mind maps can take a variety of forms, but …read more