The Dog Days of Summer: What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Bringing Pets to Work

The Dog Days of Summer: What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Bringing Pets to WorkIn ancient times, when the night sky was not obscured by artificial lights and smog, cultures in different parts of the world discovered images in the sky by connecting the dots of stars through constellations. They saw bears, (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), twins, (Gemini), a bull, (Taurus), and others, including dogs, (Canis Major and Canis Minor). The brightest of the stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which is also the brightest star in the night sky.

In the summer, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets in conjunction with the sun. The ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days.” While this varies somewhat with latitude, today, the dog days occur during the period between mid-July and the end of August.

A different sort of dog days is happening in the workplace. Almost 20% of companies in the United States allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. Many of these are small start-up companies who recognize the need for a flexible work environment or tech firms that seek to capture the interest of prospective employees or to better retain current employees. Some of the benefits they cite for allowing pets in the office are increased staff morale and worker productivity, decreased absenteeism and levels of stress, and greater camaraderie among employees.

Personally, I am all for dogs at work, though I realize it is not for everyone, nor appropriate for every type of business. If you are seriously considering it, be sure to develop and communicate throughout your entire organization a clear policy with guidelines and expectations. Most of the rules will be common sense, but more importantly they will ensure everyone’s comfort and safety.

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6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in Kindergarten

6 Leadership Lessons We All Learned in KindergartenIt might be an overstatement to say we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten, but it’s not far from the truth either. We did pick up some valuable skills in that tender phase of life, like sharing our blocks and saying you’re sorry when someone’s feelings got hurt. Here in the adult world, some of these universal, yet oft-forgotten, truths can still improve our daily lives and those of our employees if we continue to practice them in the workplace.

1) Share.

Sharing sounds like childish, but it’s actually a complex concept. It requires an understanding of empathy and compassion, seeing the needs of others and responding accordingly. Stable leaders have a natural instinct for practicing these traits in the workplace, and when you show your team that you care, it harbors a sense of trust and stability that improves both morale and productivity.

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4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team Efficiency

4 Surefire Ways to Improve Team EfficiencyOn a regular basis, you probably know by heart that team spirit is very important and that your employees need to come together as a team in order to be successful in whatever branch of business you may be. Even when job applicants submit in a resume, they’re always careful to include a mention that they’re team players and consider what they can bring to the business to be imperative to the team’s overall success. But simply being supportive within a team is not enough. You also need to be able to step up and take all the necessary steps to make the team efficient. Every team has many members and personality types and leading and managing this kind of team isn’t easy to do either. If you want to be successful, you need to inspire your team to reach that point along with you.

Know how to put the team together.

How do you know what kinds of people will best work with you and what characteristics you need to have on board to help out? You can’t compose a team consisting solely of just managers – everyone would be fighting each other to take the reins of the project at all times! If you aren’t even sure of what you should be doing within a team, try taking a test with Belbin.com to find out more about what role is perfect for you and then give the same test to your employees to take for themselves too. You may know your employees well enough already to ensure you don’t need to take this kind of test, but be sure to note that when you assemble the team everyone is able and willing to work together to meet the same goal.

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Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

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Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of Experiences

Why You Should Hire For Personality Instead of ExperiencesIf your company is going through or has gone through the hiring process, you probably know it is not easy to select a potential candidate. Sifting through hundreds of resumes and cover letters can be not only tedious and frustrating, but sometimes it doesn’t even help you find the best person for the position.

Next time you’re looking for a new hire, instead of hiring someone based on how good they look on paper, try centering your hiring process around personality instead. Here’s why a new hire with a great personality can be a better candidate than one with more experience.

You Can Train From Scratch

In many cases, hiring a candidate with a lot of experience is not always a good idea. Their previous positions may have had different methodologies and strategies than your company, making it difficult for your new hire to do things the way your company likes to. An employee hired with less relevant previous experience, but the right personality, can often have the perfect skills for the job with the help of a little initial training. By training a new hire from scratch, you can teach them exactly what you want, without previous experiences and practices getting in the way.

Every Job is Different

If you are looking at the resume of a seemingly qualified potential hire, chances are they may not be as qualified as their paperwork makes them appear. A one or two sentence job description on a piece of paper and a list of past job experiences does not tell you much about a prospective hire’s past work, making it hard to determine if their past experiences are applicable to the new job you are hiring for. However, picking up on a candidate’s passion, energy and hard working spirit in an interview is something that is hard to miss and can often speak volumes more about a candidate than a resume.

More Personality Means More Passion

By choosing a new employee who truly is interested in and passionate about your company’s goals and services, you will be hiring your company’s next best advocate. Hiring someone who has less experience, but more energy, will help bring you a more committed employee who will work hard to learn new skills to help ensure your success.

For a case study, let’s look at Hydroworx, who specializes in water rehab therapy. They do a lot of sports rehab with NHL superstars like Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson. When they were voted in the top of “Best Places to Work in PA” for the fifth year in a row, I asked them how they pulled it off. Their answer was simple: they hire people who were passionate about helping people. They’d pick the person who loved sports rehab over the person who had 10 years of experience but was just looking for a paycheck.

Quality Over Quantity

If you are choosing between someone with more experience and a candidate with a better personality, keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. If you are noticing that the person without as much experience knows more and seems more enthusiastic about your company, then they could be the better overall candidate than someone with more previous relevant work experiences but less enthusiasm. Sometimes a candidate with fewer experiences can be better than an experienced one who has had bad past experiences and may be burnt out.

Choosing the right candidate for your company’s open position doesn’t have to mean hours of reading and comparing resumes and cover letters. It can be as simple as going with your gut.  Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink shows that your gut is right more often than you give it credit for.  Getting a good feeling about a candidates personality is often much more important than a long list of experiences, and it can lead to finding a better candidate.  So make your next job search about passion and personality, and expect nothing less than a great new hire.

Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. He lives in Pennsylvania and with his wife and son, writing about social media and doing research for UB Solutions. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington.

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How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right People

How to Develop Lasting Relationships with the Right PeopleAs an entrepreneur, relationships are some of the most valuable assets you’ll ever create. There are the relationships that you form with your customers, with your suppliers and with other small business owners. . You won’t find a column for “relationships” on your balance sheet but you should always be working on growing this asset no matter what.

When you focus your marketing activities in the following three steps, you will be working towards building strong relationships with customers and potential customers. By becoming an authority in your industry, building connections and bringing great value to the table, you’ll find yourself with a stable of strong business relationships in no time.

1. Establish Credibility in Your Industry

The first step is to position yourself as an authority in your industry. Don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials! Take advantage of inbound content marketing and create an informative blog, write a newsletter, and learn to use social media effectively. Every one of the aforementioned avenues are great places to build, grow, and nurture an audience.

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Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small Business

Understanding the Necessity and Limitations of a CGL Within Your Small BusinessAs a small business owner, you’ve invested a great deal of time and money creating a company you take pride in. In order to protect it, you may consider purchasing a commercial general liability insurance policy (or CGL for short). But what is a CGL and how can it help protect you and your business? Keep reading for a breakdown of the basics.

What is a CGL?

Commercial general liability insurance policies are designed to protect businesses when they are sued. They usually protect against claims of bodily injury or property damage. According to the American Bar Association, these policies are written using forms generated by nationwide insurance industry organizations. The ABA points out that, “Because CGL policies are products of insurance industry draftsmanship, courts in most jurisdictions construe any ambiguities in favor of the policyholder.”

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How Your Business Can Fail If You Aren’t Careful

How Your Business Can Fail If You Aren’t Careful One of the least understood aspects of entrepreneurship is why some businesses fail while others succeed. The painful truth, according to a recent study by the University of Tennessee Research is that most businesses fail for one of the following three reasons.

1) Incompetence

46% of businesses fail due to emotional pricing, reckless spending, nonpayment of taxes, lack of planning, record keeping problems, and no knowledge of financing. Companies that succeed take pricing seriously. The prices they set are influenced by facts instead of emotions. As you set your prices consider the cost of material, labor, and overhead. Also, remember to keep in mind competitor pricing. Does this mean that you have to be the cheapest to compete? Absolutely not. You don’t have to compete on price, but you can’t ignore how much your competitors charge either. You can’t succeed on pricing alone, but your business will fail if you can’t get your pricing right.

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How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated

How to Keep Your Sales Team MotivatedThere is no denying that your sales team can either make or break your business. If the members of the team hit their marks, then success is going to be in abundance for the entire team. But if one team member is unable to uphold their responsibilities, that requires everyone else to work even harder.

While this competitive drive can sometimes be exactly what a business needs to grow, the fierce competition that comes with working in sales can sometimes lead to a loss in motivation among its team members. Seeing the same person always surpass their sales goals can be disheartening to other members who are having a hard time hitting the mark. That is why keeping your entire sales team motivated matters so that everyone can continue to do their best and keep the company moving forward.

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What Your First Website Needs to Know About SEO

What Your First Website Needs to Know About SEOAs a new entrepreneur, the prospect of running your very own website may seem daunting, but in reality it’s not difficult at all. Registering for a domain and setting up your site are fairly easy to do. It’s getting your website read by others and using search engine optimization (SEO) that is the most challenging part – but we’ll help you tackle everything:

Your Domain Name Matters

Your site’s domain name is a huge part of its brand. Great domains showcase exactly what the website is about, so the visitor knows what to expect before hitting ‘enter’ on their browser’s URL bar. For example, domain names like buyfauxstone.com and motorcyclelawyercalifornia.com have very clear, focused keywords in their domain names. This gives them a big advantage when someone is searching Google for the exact words “buy faux stone” and “motorcycle lawyer California.”  When you’ve settled on the perfect domain, check out sites like Dreamhost that offer affordable domain-hosting combos that are easy to use.

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