The American business landscape is littered with CEOs who, for one reason or another, showed the public, investors and their peers precisely the wrong way to run companies. At the time of their tenure, some of these former industry heads were first touted as business geniuses. Now they’ve become examples of how not to behave if you want to run your own business.
Jonathan Schwartz – Sun Microsystems
Founded in 1982 by three graduate students from Stanford University, Sun Microsystems grew to be a giant in computer hardware and services. Jonathan Schwartz was named CEO in 2006 by the founding CEO, and prior to that point, the company had grown aggressively and showed steady profits. Nearly every move Schwartz made ended poorly, acquisitions failed, the stock tanked, and thousands of employees had to be laid off. Ultimately, the company was sold to competitor Oracle.
Startups are powered by their people more than any claim to a reputation, an established corporate structure, or any other resource readily available to big corporation budgets. As such, they have to be very careful when it comes to their hiring guidelines. Below are four essential rules that startups should keep in mind when it comes to hiring if they want to avoid superfluous employees.
1. Identify from the start the positions that require people with more experience.
As a startup working on a budget, you won’t be able to hire dozens of people across the board, but you should have one or two team members with stellar credentials to bring to the table. Just assigning them whatever role is open isn’t wise though – you have to put them in roles that deserve their expertise.
Love him or hate him, you must admit that Vito Corleone, head of the fictional New York crime family in the film The Godfather, adeptly built a thriving “business.” Nefarious goals and bloody outcomes aside, what can we learn from him about effective business operations?
1. Branding is in the details. The Godfather without strong branding would have been nothing more than a petty criminal with an annoying voice. Instead, he built a rock solid brand, a reputation that was paramount to his success. No detail went unnoticed in establishing his powerful presence, from his dark attire, to the mood lighting in his office, to the theatrical application of that gravelly mumble. In today’s business environment, branding is the difference between being remembered and getting lost in the fray. A successful brand should be carefully crafted and bolstered with attention to detail similar to Corleone’s, including staff selection, wardrobe choices, even the font in your emails.
2013 was a great year for Guidant. We celebrated our tenth anniversary, launched a new website and helped hundreds of people realize their business ownership dreams. As the year comes to a close it’s tempting to mentally check out and enjoy the social parts of the season. But I’ve found that the quieter time that comes with people being on vacation is perfect for doing some deep thinking about want I want to accomplish in the coming year. Here are my resolutions for 2014:
1. Provide even greater value to our clients through education.
Knowledge is power, and when people have the facts about the different ways they can become business owners, they are empowered to choose what’s right for them. Our new website has a section called “Study Hall” devoted to educating would-be business owners.
2. Raise the awareness of Rollovers as Business Startups (ROBS).
The greatest challenge of our business is that potential business owners have either never heard of ROBS, or, because of its complexity make the faulty assumption that there is something quasi-legal about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For any business owner, sustainability and growth are always top of mind. You want to invest in growth while realizing a positive return. As you contemplate your long-term goals, here are the top three investments to consider:
1. Technology infrastructure – It’s important to operate off a scalable technology platform – one that enhances employee performance. Because technology impacts every sector of your business, it’s important that it provides a simple and flexible experience for your team members so that they can maximize efficiency.
Keeping up with cutting edge trends that you can implement first in your industry is a great way for your company to stay ahead of the curve and stand out. Don’t be afraid to take risks!
26 letters of the alphabet and accompanying blog posts later, we have reached the end of our ABC’s of small business and conclude with letter Z for Zeitgeist. While the definition of zeitgeist is associated with the intellectual, cultural, and moral climate of an era, we’re using the word to describe the zeitgeist theory of leadership.
The zeitgeist theory of leadership stems from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy who believed that leaders, and the characteristics that they exhibited, were products of social circumstances during a specific time, acting out to situations that are beyond their control. This theory clashed with the great man theory from Thomas Carlyle that discussed how leaders weren’t made, but born, having said characteristics from very early on that would lead them into positions of power.
Starting a business as a student is an exciting and eventful experience where you will have to face many hurdles in order to become successful. Throughout the process of starting my own business, I went through several challenges that many students who own businesses face and learned a lot of lessons that I want to share today.
Worrying about your finances is perfectly normal for students and one where having a full savings account, wealthy parents, or another source of capital would certainly come in handy. Starting out on your own can still be done with a small capital, no matter what your financial situation looks like. Continue reading
Small business leaders wear many hats. They do it all — from high-level strategy to opening the mail and taking out the trash. They’re accustomed to being producers and getting things done and done well is all within their nature.
Unfortunately, this spirit of self-reliance can be a major obstacle when it comes to building and managing a team. When you’re used to single-handedly running the ship, it can be difficult to relinquish control to your crew members. But doing so is often the key to taking your business to the next level. Continue reading
About two weeks ago our CEO Deborah Sweeney was featured over at Mike Michalowicz’s great blog with her tip on negotiation tactics. The actual topic was ‘How to Win a Negotiation’ and Deb had 500 characters to distill her philosophy regarding negotiation into an easily digestible blurb. We liked the topic and all of the tips provided so much that we decided to take negotiation topic (sorry Mike!) and give Deborah a chance to expand on her quick little answer through a longer post. Plus it’s her blog, so she can use as many characters as she wants.
Can’t we all just get along?
So we don’t have to re-print the answer, you can either go read all of the responses over at Mike’s blog (which you should, because it really is a useful site and psst, Deborah’s tip is number 28), or you can settle for the quick and dirty version – when approaching a negotiation, be honest, be prepared, and be willing to compromise. Continue reading
By David Nilssen, CEO & Co-founder, Guidant Financial
Before you make the leap into business ownership, it’s a good idea to ask yourself some tough questions to make sure you’re up to the job:
1) Are you self-motivated?
2) Are you organized?
3) Are you proficient in finance, accounting, sales, marketing and customer service?
4) Are you willing to put your business first?
If your answer to any of these questions is a firm “no” you may want to re-think your plans for entrepreneurship. If not; keep in mind there is more to starting a business than enjoying the excitement and joy of potential success. Continue reading