Generations Law - February 2020

The Business Brief

February 2020

Developing Your Company’s Culture

answer their questions. Not surprisingly, many of your employees won’t have a clue about business financial statements. Sharing financial information will help employees see how their work contributes to their success and the profitable growth of the business. Be sure to frequently remind your managers and employees that each one of them contributes to your company’s success. Highlight career advancement paths, showing employees how contributing to the company’s growth puts their future career growth in their hands. When employees realize they are trusted by and can trust management, they’ll step up and perform their work in an engaged and thoughtful manner. Strive to create an ownership culture in which employees see the business in the same way you do. People will fight for what they have helped create and will understand how their contributions relate to the success of the enterprise. Overcome the typical situation where employees only see their work in isolation and never know the direct tie on how much they are helping (or hurting) the company. Besides, letting your employees in on the “inside” scoop will elevate their status and let them know they are in a unique group and privy to information that people at other organizations are not.

should be to support the greater good of the business by improving employee relations so employees know what they are working for, feel valued, and deliver results that support continual and sustainable company growth. Some business owners worry that opening up information like financial data for everyone to see will harm the business. Often the fear is that competitors will end up getting hold of key financial information. While it’s true that outsiders could obtain financial data from your employees, the reality is that it probably won’t make much difference. Sharing company financial information with employees should be limited to simplified data that doesn’t provide any competitive insights. Another common concern is that giving employees financial information might lead to unintended internal consequences. This includes staff members finding out how much revenue the company generates and requesting larger salaries or finding out how little the company makes and jumping ship. However, what usually happens is that employees feel more involved in driving the company’s success. It's important to note that compensation figures should not be shared, and each employee’s privacy must be protected. It’s also a good idea to invite the company’s CPA to come in for a couple of hours each month to explain the financial reports to the employees and

One of the challenges every smart business owner faces is developing a company culture. Most consultants recommend establishing a culture that breaks down the walls of “us versus them” between management and employees. You can accomplish this by creating transparency as a part of your company culture and encouraging the open sharing of information and accountability at all levels. Your goal should be to develop company policies that make sharing and decision-making an integral part of your company’s philosophy and not just an empty saying or catchphrase. Creating trust and openness with your workforce will build a family-like culture and make your business the kind of company people want to work for. Accordingly, you and your managers need to share information on the company’s direction, strategies, and financial outlook. Creating an open business environment encourages employees to look out for the company’s best interests. Your objective

–Tom Walker

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The line between technologies that are beneficial for large businesses and those beneficial for small businesses continues to blur. While the latest software programs were once only available to large companies that could afford them, some of these programs have also become available and profitable for small businesses to use. In an age of increasing connectivity, these are a few tech trends that small businesses should watch out for. interaction, using AI software programs for small tasks — like email marketing, data entry, accounting, and some low-stress forms of customer service — is invaluable to small businesses. Delegating menial tasks to AI can free up time for you to focus on those more important face-to-face interactions with your customers. Increased Use of Data Analytics “Big data” is intimidating. For years, sifting through customer data and extracting valuable information that can be used to grow businesses was something that only the largest companies had the time, funds, and expertise to do. However, more programs that reduce the upfront investment and expertise necessary to contextualize customer data are popping up. If you can make use of your customers’ data, you can give them an experience with your business that they won’t find many other places. Continued Reliance on Social Media Social media marketing remains an effective tool for attracting customers to your small business, even if the tools continue to change. While marketing on Facebook and Instagram might seem like old news, marketing on trendier apps, like TikTok, Pinterest, or Snapchat, can still work to your business’s benefit. A recent study showed that 45% of consumers head to social media when they have a question about something — are you going to be there to answer it? 3 Tech Trends to Accelerate Your Company KEEP UP WITH THE BIG BUSINESSES Collaboration With Artificial Intelligence While it certainly shouldn’t replace every customer

TWITTER ME THIS The Storied History of Evan Williams’ Journey to Success

The journey of entrepreneurship is akin to finding your way through a jungle with a poorly drawn map. Navigating all the obstacles can be terrifying, but thankfully, the many entrepreneurial odysseys that came before us offer great opportunities to learn. Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter, went on a wild journey himself while finding his way out of the metaphorical jungle and into success. Williams began his career running irrigation for his family farm in Nebraska. After only a year and a half of working for tech startups in Florida and Texas, he found his way back to the farm but didn’t give up. He persevered, moving to California and eventually working with Meg Hourihan, pioneer of online blogging and fellow internet entrepreneur, to co-found Pyra Labs in 1999. Together at Pyra, they developed Blogger, a journaling platform that became the launch pad for Williams’ entrepreneurial prosperity. Unfortunately, after venture capital and company resources were depleted, Pyra Labs’ employees, including Hourihan, quit en masse, and Williams forged on alone to keep Blogger afloat. In 2003, Google acquired Blogger, which is successful to this day and credited as one of the first blogging sites. Fun fact: Williams also coined the term “blogger”! After Blogger’s acquisition, Williams' new startup, Odeo, was poised to be a premiere platform for podcasts and podcasting software. However, due to a laundry list of problems, including a lack of vision and the rise of Apple, Odeo experienced a less-than-stellar launch and simply could not compete with iTunes, a platform already holding a major foothold in the podcasting community. At that point, Williams turned his attention to another side project under Odeo’s umbrella: Twitter. Learning from their abysmal launch, the team focused on making a social networking service. With this singular focus, Twitter’s popularity exploded and garnered attention from entrepreneurs and consumers everywhere. Today, Twitter is the sixth most visited website in the world and boasts 330 million active users. In the third quarter of 2019, Twitter’s revenue amounted to $823.7 million. Evan Williams’ journey to success is one for the ages, and it’s a lesson every entrepreneur can learn from while trying to find the one opportunity that will launch them into the big leagues. If you’re interested in learning more about Williams’ path to entrepreneurial glory, check out the bestselling biography “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal” by Nick Bilton.

Keeping up with the latest and greatest tech trends in small-business management can be exhausting, but in an age where

technological advancement is accelerating faster than ever, it’s necessary for the survival of businesses of all

shapes and sizes.

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‘Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman’ How Patagonia’s Founder Set a New Standard for Environmental Responsibility

From the very beginning of his 2006 memoir, “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman,” it’s clear that Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, is not the typical entrepreneur. As a kid, Chouinard wanted to be a fur trapper, and rather than going into business with dreams of getting rich, he started making climbing gear to fund his passion for scaling cliffs and adventuring in the outdoors. “Let My People Go Surfing” follows Patagonia’s meteoric rise through its victories and rough patches — including the stalled growth that led to layoffs of 20% of the staff in the 1990s — but its main focus is on the company’s ideals. In plain, forthright, and sometimes irascible language, Chouinard lays out Patagonia’s growth goals, culture aims, and environmental stewardship efforts. The last of which is truly the core of the brand. Patagonia prioritizes minimalism, function, durability, and reparability in all of its products, from backpacks to jackets. It tracks the energy and water use of its facilities, works to eliminate pollution, focuses on recycled and recyclable materials, participates in environmental activism, funds environmental organizations worldwide, and even encourages shoppers to send in worn-out apparel for reuse and repair. In short, over HAVE A Laugh

the course of 272 pages, Chouinard proves he not only talks the talk but also walks the walk — and has made millions championing his cause. He encourages other entrepreneurs to do the same, laying out Patagonia’s footsteps and philosophies for readers to follow. Many already have. “Let My People Go Surfing” was updated and rereleased in 2016, but either version will make entrepreneurs think twice about their environmental impact and what they can do to reduce it. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “Whether you're a manager or business owner looking to motivate your employees and create a sustainable business, or a fan of Patagonia, or someone curious about how to live a life you can feel good about, this book should work for you.”

PUZZLE

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Inside This Edition

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Developing Your Company’s Culture

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Important Tech Trends for Small Businesses to Keep Up With Evan Williams’ Entrepreneurial Journey Yvon Chouinard’s Rise From Wannabe Fur Trapper to Billionaire Entrepreneur

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Have a Laugh

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Selling With Compassion

Sell With Your Heart Avoid a Bad Sales Reputation With These Tips

also lets you learn from happy and dissatisfied customers. You can discover what worked, what didn’t, and what they wish they had known before buying. Picking up the phone — or dropping in — to leave a post-sale impression could be more valuable than you realize. Just Listen A good salesperson knows what their customers want. They actually listen to what customers are saying and don’t second-guess customers’ needs. Many people associate salespeople with smooth-talking and wittiness. But in reality, a good salesperson just needs to be a good listener. When a customer says, “I just want something that works,” they are not looking for the latest and greatest model. They just want something that works. Selling with your heart is easier than it appears, and these methods are a solid foundation for creating strong, lasting customer relationships.

Let’s face it: Salespeople get a bad rap. Scammers, con artists, and inexperienced or unempathetic sellers make it hard to convince customers you have their best interests in mind. Here are three qualities every salesperson must have to convincingly sell with heart. A Win-Win The most important trait of an ethical salesperson is having a product or service that is honest and true. You can’t ethically peddle something that doesn’t have value for your potential customers. Sure, it’s exciting to make a sale. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, and the payout isn’t too bad, either. But if what you’re selling doesn’t also benefit your customer , then you’re no better than a swindler. Your product has to be a win for the customer, and you have to believe in it wholeheartedly to succeed. The ‘How Ya Doin’?’ Call The sale is done. The dotted line is signed. The customer is happy, and you are excited. Time to forget about them and move on to the next sale, right? Wrong. You have to follow up with customers after a successful sale. If anything has gone wrong, checking in will allow you to be proactive in fixing it. Being proactive builds trust and bolsters your chance of a referral. It

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