Category Archives: Business Tips

How to Handle Appointments Safely During COVID-19

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Even as states and businesses open up once more, COVID-19 remains a major concern. To prevent another wave from decimating your company or driving customers away, you need to implement some basic safety precautions.

Maintaining social distancing guidelines not only ensures the success of an appointment during these uncertain times, but it also helps customers feel more comfortable booking a slot with your business. 

You need paying customers to stay afloat, after all. Use this guide as a way to continue operations safely.

Keep Guidelines Posted

After so many months of the pandemic, you’d think that everyone would already know the drill. No matter how many times we’ve heard the guidelines, however, it never hurts to have a reminder. 

For your business, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Posting coronavirus safety guidelines at your business serves two purposes: It offers needed safety information and indicates to employees and customers that the practices will be enforced.

When businesses make safety expectations clear at the entrance, customers have no excuse not to follow them. Post this information prominently, and maintaining social distancing becomes that much easier. 

Require Face Coverings

The CDC considers face masks a vital tool in the fight against the coronavirus. What’s more, people who wear masks or face coverings are much more likely to follow social distancing guidelines than those who don’t. Mandated masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and remind everyone — pandemic fatigue notwithstanding — that precautions are still in place.

You will undoubtedly have customers who oppose a mask rule. Train your employees on the proper responses to prevent confrontations from escalating. Provide disposable masks at the door for customers who show up without a face covering, so they won’t have an excuse for not wearing one.

Rethink Your Waiting Room

Appointment-based businesses have designated spaces to accommodate walk-ins and allow customers to wait for their scheduled appointments. They strive to make these areas comfortable and welcoming to make the wait as painless as possible

With social distancing measures in place, you’ll have to mix things up a bit. Start with your seating arrangements. Keep chairs six feet apart, per CDC recommendations; if seating is conjoined, you’ll need to tape off every other seat.

For the time being, you should also reconsider some of the amenities you offer in your waiting room. Magazines and coffee bars can be passing points for illness, so consider substituting a TV and individually packaged refreshments.

Space Out Appointments

It’s better to space out fewer customer appointments over the course of day than not to have any customers at all. Forgoing some business for improved safety is a sacrifice you’ll have to make to continue to endure during COVID-19. 

With fewer appointments bunched together, you won’t have to worry about a crowd forming. That’s important because your socially distanced waiting area won’t be able to accommodate as many customers as it used to. When you keep everyone six feet apart, there’s less room to fill before safety precautions go out the window.

Even with spaced-out bookings, though, you should be able to keep yourself plenty busy. When customers feel safe and comfortable at your business, they won’t hesitate to book repeat appointments or recommend you to their safety-conscious friends.

Order Some Plexiglass

Plexiglass barriers are one of the most common solutions you’ll see businesses implementing during the pandemic. These barriers act as cough and sneeze guards, protecting employees and customers from accidentally infecting each other through airborne droplets.

Often used to separate cubicles or retail counters, plexiglass has seen a huge spike in usage over the last few months. Hair salons, for example, can use plexiglass sheets to separate customers seated next to each other at stylist stations. While customers still have to be masked up with their stylist, this added safety precaution can reduce virus spread in a droplet-heavy environment.

Apply Social Distancing Stickers

Floor stickers are another frequently seen adjustment that businesses are making. Each sticker is placed six feet apart to show customers where they should stand when waiting in lines. Stickers are inexpensive and easy to remove once COVID-19 has finally been laid to rest.

When dealing with customers who have appointments, you’ll need to check them all in as they arrive. Arrival times often overlap, especially when you also accept walk-ins. Having these stickers in place will help customers keep their distance in line to protect each other.

Ease Your No-Show Policy

Companies that rely on appointment bookings often have a no-show or late policy that customers must adhere to. This prevents customers who reserve appointment slots from disappearing, which wastes company time and prevents other customers from taking that slot. 

This makes perfect sense in normal times, but during COVID-19, a layer of lenience might be called for. If a customer has any indication that they might be sick, encourage them to stay home without no-show consequences. Offer to reschedule appointments with no charge even if your policy states otherwise.

Sick customers will appreciate your flexibility and reward you with their business when they’re well again. Healthy customers will appreciate your commitment to helping them stay that way by keeping sufferers out of your waiting room.

Automate as Much as Possible

The less touching involved in an appointment, the better. You can reduce physical interaction by automating as much as possible. Processes that normally would be done by hand can be eliminated to reduce virus spread through contact and help maintain social distancing.

One of the best examples is payment methods. Allowing customers to pay online takes away the need to pay in person at your business. Card and cash transactions can spread germs just like any other contact, even if all other social distancing measures are in place. 

While everyone’s health and safety is of extreme importance, your business is important, too. Social distancing offers the best of both worlds. By taking these steps, you will help keep your customers safe and your business running. 

Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive: 10 Ways to Get There

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It’s no secret that positive work cultures are more productive. That’s because these types of environments lead to more creative, happy, and collaborative employees. Research has even found that happy employees work harder and smarter. If positive work cultures are more productive, how can you establish a more positive work environment? Well, here are ten ways to get started today.

1. Develop a set of core values and priorities.

The development of a set of core values and priorities will vary from one business to another. A foundation of any positive workplace culture starts with clearly defined values and priorities. Establishing these items give your work meaning and guides you in how you treat your team and customers. Knowing these goals will help you find the right personalities for your startup and aligns everyone towards a common goal.

What’s interesting, however, is that these core values can be whatever you want. “One of the exciting things I found from the research is that it doesn’t matter what your values are. What matters is that you have them and that you align the organization around them,” said Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

“And the power comes from the alignment, not from the actual values,” he added. “We’re not out there telling people [that they should adopt the Zappos values] and culture because that would probably not work in most cases. Our message is more ‘you should figure out what your values are and then align the entire organization around them.”

2. Greet your team.

“A little hello goes a long way in the workplace,” Ashely Alt writes on the SnackNation blog. “Your team members want to feel and be happy, so give them a little nudge in the morning with a big old smile that says, ‘I’m happy you are here, and I want you to love your job.’”

Additionally, make it a point to get out of your office and walk around the office. Do a quick pop in to check on your team and ask them if there’s anything you can help them with. If they’re taking a short break, go ahead, and chit chat with them so that you can both get to know each other better personally.

While it may sound simple, kicking the day off on positive note with a smile and a “Good morning!” sets the tone for the day. It can even turn that crummy morning into an awesome day. “Being upbeat and genuine in your approach boosts your team’s self-esteem, causing them to be more motivated and reminds them that working with you is pretty great,” adds Ashley.

3. Enhance your emotional intelligence.

There has been a lot of emphasis on emotional intelligence over the years. And, for a good reason. Those with high EI are more productive, successful, and effective leaders. In a nutshell, this is because of what EI can do for an individual.

  • Strengthens our self-awareness so that we know what our strengths and weaknesses are.
  • Helps us self-regulate our emotions.
  • Encourages us to be more self-motivated.
  • Increases our empathy.
  • Using the methods of emotional intelligence will help you develop stronger interpersonal skills like active listening and conflict resolution.

As you can see, when you sharpen your EI, you’ll be better suited to communicate with your team, as well as handle how you to respond to them. After you’ve worked on improving your emotional intelligence, provide opportunities for your team to strengthen their own.

4. Show your gratitude.

Think about how you feel when someone thanks you or acknowledges your hard work. Even if you have an ego that’s in check, it still makes you feel great about yourself. So, imagine how your team feels when you show your gratitude.

The best thing about this is that there are a variety of ways to achieve this. For example, you could give an employee a shoutout at the beginning of a team meeting. You could send them a handwritten note. Or, you could engage in random acts of kindness like buying them lunch or surprising them with a gift, raise, or new perk like flexible hours.

5. Grant employees autonomy.

A tried and true way of cultivating a more positive and productive work environment is to stop micromanaging. Instead, offer your team autonomy. Micromanaging makes your team ineffective and nervous. Independence in work conditions means giving them the freedom to work however and whenever they like — within reason of course. It also encourages them to share their opinions and feedback.

On your end, however, this involves learning how to delegate more effectively. You also have to hold your team accountable, frequent feedback, and making sure that your team has the tools to succeed.

6. Improve the physical workplace.

It’s almost impossible for you to be in a good mood and productive when you’re not comfortable. As such, you may want to look into making your office more comfortable. Some great places to start is by keeping the office at a steady temperature, letting in as much natural light as possible, and filling the office with plants.

Additionally, provide your team with ergonomic furniture and encourage them to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Also, keep the workplace clean so that germs aren’t spreading like wildfire. And, don’t be afraid to let your staff personalize their own workspaces.

7. Be respectful of everyone else’s time.

Time is the most valuable resource we have. Because of this, if you aren’t respectful of everyone else’s time, then it shows your team that this is a less then ideal culture. After all, if you can’t be respectful of other people’s time, then how can you be trusted in other areas?

There’s no one way to do this. But, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Don’t leave for vacation or business trip without debriefing your team. They should know what to do while you’re away.
  • Always start and end the meeting on time.
  • Do not annoy your employees during their “off-hours,” like nights and weekends.
  • If your employees are at full capacity, then do not add to their workload.
  • Clearly define any guidelines and expectations so that they do not always have to redo their work.
  • Create and share a team calendar so that everyone knows what’s going on.

8. Encourage fun.

Your team is working their tails off for you. Help them blow off some steam while showing your appreciation by having a little fun. Recognition and fun could be as simple as celebrating milestones or even events like birthdays. You could also take everyone out of the office and go on a retreat or volunteer in the community.

As an added perk, this could be an excellent way to strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration among your team. It can also boost morale.

9. Prioritize your team’s well-being.

There’s a strong correlation between your well-being and productivity. I mean, how can you have the energy and focus on getting work done when you’re stressed, sleep-deprived, and feel like garbage because of your diet?

While it’s not always your responsibility to improve other’s health, you can at least encourage a healthier lifestyle at work. You could fill the healthy with healthier snack options instead of the standard vending machine options. You could offer gym memberships, hold more standing meetings, or provide weekly meditation sessions.

10. Don’t use fear.

Mistakes will happen. So, instead of freaking out on your team whenever they slip up, use that as a learning opportunity. The last thing that you want is to have your team be afraid of you. That’s not a healthy work environment for anyone to work at. And, fear is not an effective way to motivate your team.

10 Deliberate Sacrifices You Must Make if You Want to be Successful

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10 Deliberate Sacrifices You Must Make if You Want to be Successful

Despite the negative connotations, we all make sacrifices. For example, reflect on the years you spent in college. You might have gone out with your friends on Friday night — but never during finals week. Here are ten deliberate sacrifices you must make if you want to be successful.

Fast forward to being an adult. If you want to purchase a new vehicle or home, you need to make some financial sacrifices, like skipping an exotic vacation. When starting a new business, you may not see your friends or family as much.

Here’s the thing though, these were deliberate choices to reach your goals. While not exactly fun, you’re probably not in pain over this.

“Not all pain and suffering, however, amount to sacrifice,” explains Gianpiero Petriglieri is an HBR piece. “The difference is not just philosophical,” but also is practical. “Sacrifice might be hurtful and exhausting, but it is a conscious choice.”

“Suffering is the result of feeling that we cannot slow down or else we will be shamed and lose control,” adds Petriglieri. “Sacrifice makes us who we are. Suffering keeps us captive.”

“When putting our bodies through hell at work, at least for a while, is worth the rewards we get and the contribution we make, it is sacrifice,” he states. “But if you can come up with many reasons for hurting at work, but see little purpose in it, then it is not.”

Moreover, these sacrifices are usually temporary. They will also change to align with your priorities over time. And, even though not pleasant, they can also help you build confidence, resilience and maintain your motivation.

With that in mind, here are 10 sacrifices that you will make at some point in your life if you want to be successful and productive.

1. Sleep

I am in no way advocating that you surpass sleep. Your mind and body need a good night’s rest to recover and recharge. In fact, a lack of sleep will destroy your productivity.

I am saying that sometimes you aren’t going to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. If you’re a parent, then you’re well aware of this fact. But, you also know that it’s temporary, and you will eventually get back to a somewhat normal sleep routine.

The same is true when it comes to your work life. You will have tasks or projects that require you to put in 12 hour days. You will definitely stay awake at night thinking about your next move like your a Bobby Fisher level chess player.

So, while sleep should be a priority, you also have to be real. There will be some long nights when you’re only going to get a couple of hours.

2. Relationships

Bear with me here as this might seem like a broad topic. If you’re married or have children, then I’m a firm believer in a family comes first. Simultaneously, you might have to scrap a two-week vacation and replace it will a long weekend instead.

But, I’m really talking about those relationships outside of your inner circle. It would be great to catch-up with a friend from college. But, if you already have a packed calendar, that might have to go on the back burner until you have the availability.

Networking is obviously a proven way to grow your business. However, if that’s preventing you from reaching your goals, you might have to scale back. For instance, instead of weekly get-togethers, make it a monthly occurrence or focus on online networking.

And, above everything else, remove toxic individuals from your life. You know who I’m talking about. These are the folks who drag your down or aren’t respectful of your time.

3. Evil Urges

Get your mind out of the gutter! These are unhealthy habits that are holding you back. For instance, you can look at your phone whenever you receive a notification or stay way pat happy hour with your colleagues.

I’ll be honest. We’re all guilty of slipping up every now and then. And I don’t think that you should be too hard on yourself when you do. But, that’s different than making this a recurring issue.

If you want to be productive and successful, then you need to take care of your health. You need to decline those late night functions. You need to ditch mentally unhealthy habits like perfectionism, comparisons, catastrophizing the future, and blaming others.

4. Fear

Being afraid isn’t always a bad thing. Fear, after all, can keep us safe, force us to live in the present, and can even be exciting. However, when left unchecked, it can interfere with your happiness and paralyze you.

While it’s natural to be afraid, like when taking the leap to start your own business, you need to overcome it. There are several ways to go about this, like understanding and embracing your fear. Others have found visualization, role-playing, or questioning the fear to be helpful.

If you’re really struggling with this, I strongly suggest you reach out for help. You could speak with your support system or seek out a mentor. There’s also no shame in working with a mental health professional as well.

5. Stress

Stress just won’t prevent you from reaching your true potential. It can also literally kill you. No wonder it’s been dubbed the silent killer.

As with fear, stress is a natural part of life. But, you can’t let widely grow out of control. Instead, you need to maintain your stress by using techniques like properly:

  • Regular physical activity.
  • Spending time with close family or friends.
  • Offloading some of your workloads.
  • Breathing exercises.
  • Identifying triggers and eliminating them.
  • Using essential oils.
  • Slowing down and celebrating your accomplishments.

What does that have to do with sacrifice? Well, when you feel like you’re on the edge of burnout, you might need to take a personal day. Work will have to wait until you attend to your own well-being.

6. Hobbies

“Before 2008, I was playing golf three times a week,” writes entrepreneur and best-selling author Grant Cardone. “What was I thinking spending time on the golf course, or anything for that matter, when I could have been spending time getting my financial house in order. I had gotten distracted and entitled, had started to rest on my laurels, and put my family at risk.”

“I know life is not just about work and money but notice how many people are not having much of a life because of work and money,” adds Cardone. “I decided to master my work and my money, and if my golf game or social status suffer, so be it.” As he concludes, “It’s all right if you sacrifice fun today for freedom tomorrow.”

At the same time, hobbies can help you hustle. The reason? They are non-work activities that can improve your mood, help you find inspiration, and develop problem-solving skills. The key is striking a balance.

In other words, if golf is your passion, hitting the links three times a week when you’re trying to start a business won’t gel. But, you could cut back to just once a week. Or, you could get a putting mat and practice your short game during a short break.

7. Other People’s Opinions

Asking for advice and feedback can come in handy. Both can be used to help you gain fresh perspectives and ideas. At the same time, don’t harp too much on what others think.

As Richard P. Feynman said, “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”

8. Time-Wasters

Last weekend it was cool and rainy. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting much time outside. What’s more, I had a hectic week and just needed a day to veg.

I don’t do this frequently. Sometimes you just need a day to lay on the couch and watch Netflix. But, I also admit that this is a huge time-waster.

On a day-to-day basis, you should avoid these time thieves. In addition to television, other time-wasters would be getting sucked into social media feeds, unnecessary meetings, and bulky to-do-lists. Determine what wastes your time and avoid them as much as possible.

9. Pride

By all means, be proud of your accomplishments. After all, you’ve earned it. At the same time, don’t pride consume you.

You still need to hold yourself accountable when you slip-up. In my experience, failure is one of the best ways to learn and grow. And, more importantly, sometimes, that means doing things that are beneath you.

For example, you might have to pick up a side gig until your business takes off. Even then, there might be tedious takes that you dread. I’m talking about responding to emails, bookkeeping, or literally cleaning-up your workspace. You might be responsible for these tasks until you have the resources to delegate or outsource them.

Until then, you need to squeeze them into your packed schedule. One simple way to do this would be through batching. In this case, you would set aside a small block of time each day to clean out your inbox or declutter your work area.

10. Worrying About Being Productive 24/7

Wait. Isn’t this counterproductive? Absolutely not.

As opposed to obsessing about productivity, you should focus on being intentional. In other words, instead of maximizing every minute and working 80-hours a week, focus on the vital few. When you do, you’re dedicating your time and energy to what’s truly important instead of the unnecessary.

Should You Offer Unlimited Vacation Time?

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To employees, unlimited vacation time is a dream come true. But the question isn’t how to sell the perk to your employees; it’s whether or not offering it is a smart business decision. 

Giving unlimited vacation time to workers comes with obvious concerns. How do you ensure no one abuses this benefit? How much will it cost the company? Will it inconvenience the team?

Unlimited vacation time has its benefits, but it’s not without drawbacks. Before you roll out this benefit, think through them carefully. 

Why You Should Offer Unlimited Vacation Time

Just ask your team: There are plenty of reasons to make vacation time an unlimited affair. With the policy in place, you’ll:

  • Attract and Retain Top Talent

If you want to hire the best talent, you need to give them benefits they won’t find elsewhere. Top candidates will have several options available, and they’ll look beyond salary numbers to make their decision.

Offering unlimited vacation time is a perk that stands out. Only a handful of companies, like HubSpot and Sony, currently offer it. Make sure you can compete. 

  • Increase Employee Happiness

Everyone wants work-life balance. Both new hires and tenured workers will be happy to see this perk added to your benefits package. 

Taking breaks frequently helps to cut down on the stress and burnout of a 40-hour work week. While you can’t afford for employees to take time off every week, they’ll appreciate simply knowing they can step away when they need to. 

  • Promote Ownership and Accountability

Employees who take control of their time are more effective than those who don’t. They’re more willing to think outside the box and need less hand-holding for everyday tasks. An unlimited time off policy can instill that sense of ownership in your team.

The good news is, this policy can also promote accountability. No matter how many days team members take off, they still need to fulfill their responsibilities. Learning to balance their obligations and free time will help everyone grow. 

  • Save Money

Did you think you could cut costs by offering unlimited vacation time? The truth is, you can. As long as employees aren’t abusing the system, this policy has lower overhead costs than a traditional vacation plan.

With traditional vacation plans, employees accrue sick and vacation time based on hours worked. Companies were expected to pay this time out, even if employees left before taking their allotted hours off. With unlimited paid time off, employers only incur costs when workers actually take time off. 

Why You Shouldn’t Offer Unlimited Vacation Time

Not all organizations offer unlimited vacation time, and for good reason. Weigh these concerns against the positives:

  • Abuse of Privilege

While management always has the final say on whether workers can take time off, employees may still try to abuse the privilege. A worker who takes months off at a time with no thought as to his or her duties is not an asset to the company.

With unlimited paid time off, you have to be careful about how long of a leash you give. Allowing one employee to take a ton of time off for no other reason than because they want to can cause other workers to do the same. 

  • Underuse of Vacation Time

As strange as it sounds, some employees with unlimited vacation time actually take less time off than they otherwise would have. In fact, researchers suggest underuse of the policy is a bigger problem than overuse

Why? Because the policy can promote a competitive culture, in which employees take fewer days off to keep pace with their coworkers. They may fear taking too many days off will disqualify them from promotions or pay raises. 

One solution is to set a minimum. Perhaps employees must take at least one week off per year, but they’re welcome to take more if they wish. 

If you go that route, establish a norm. Do most workers at your company take between four and six weeks off per year? Then say so when explaining your unlimited vacation time policy. 

  • Misuse of Vacation Time

With an unlimited-paid-time-off plan, setting expectations is key. If this allowance involves trade-offs, make sure employees understand them.  

For example, must employees on the plan take calls and emails from work while out of the office? If employees are expected to be available for work every time they want a day off, they may not be so keen on the policy after all. 

Every business owner will weigh these factors differently, and that’s OK. Do what makes sense for your team; if it doesn’t work, try something else. Experimentation, including with employee benefits, is how great companies are built. 

How Do You Deal With Always Being On?

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Without trying to boast, I love being an entrepreneur. Being my own boss means I get to pursue what I’m passionate about. I can set my own schedule. And, all of the hard work I put in is for my family and me — not someone else.

At the same time, there’s a dark side to entrepreneurship. I know we tend to put individuals like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos on a pedestal. But, we are rarely open-up about the setbacks, stress, and “always-on” culture that it entails.

For example, Musk seems proud of the fact that he works 80 to 100 hours per week. In crunch time, that may be a necessary evil. But, that’s just not sustainable over the long run. In fact, it’s been found that working over 50 hours per week makes you less productive.

Additionally, we fall poisonous tropes. These include putting on the persona that you’re perfect and unshakable. We also can’t separate ourselves from our companies. And, being a founder isn’t just tricky; it can also be alienating.

Because of all the above, it’s not surprising that there’s a mental health crisis in entrepreneurship. Just how bad is it? According to a study by the University of San Francisco researcher Michael A. Freeman, founders are

  • 2X more likely to suffer from depression
  • 6X more likely to suffer from ADHD
  • 3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse
  • 10X more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
  • 2X more likely to have psychiatric hospitalization 2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts

So, how can this be resolved? Well, removing the stigma surrounding mental health and seeking help is a start. But, I also believe that you need to make self-care a priority. And, most importantly, learn how to stop always being on.

1. Set priorities, not tasks.

“Founders and A-type personalities tend to live and die by their calendar and their task lists,” writes Jake Chapman for TechCrunch. “Unfortunately, task lists are just reminders that there are countless things to be done.” And, because “task lists are infinite, “this is a recipe for unbearable mental strain and unmanageable cognitive load.”

“The definition of anxiety is when we perceive that our ability to achieve is overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, which is inevitable when our tasks are ill-defined, too large or seemingly unending,” adds Chapman. So, scrap your task list and replace it with a daily priorities list.

What exactly is this? Well, it’s merely where list only the urgent AND essential items. “Completing these items may be more difficult, but getting them off your plate is infinitely more satisfying,” Chapman says.

But, what if everything is a top priority? Take a second and really think about that. The chances are that’s not true. But, if you need help determining this, try to focus only on the items that push you closer to your goals.

If that doesn’t help, use factors like due dates, ROI, or the consequences of not following through. You could also use the popular Eisenhower Matrix to determine.

2. Build your willpower.

Those who have the power to self-regulate “can mitigate the stress of constant connectivity,” explain Charn McAllister, DJ Steffensen, Pamela L. Perrewé, C. Darren Brooks, and Gang Wang for HBR. We also call this “willpower.” And, it’s merely the ability to resist temptations, like responding to emails during family game night.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. Just imagine you’re anticipating an important message or phone call from a team member, client, or investor. You probably can’t resist the urge to check your phone every couple of minutes.

However, just like any other muscle, you can build up your willpower. But, this won’t just happen overnight. You have to keep working at it over time.

Even better? Willpower has been found that be universal. That means that “the willpower used to resist that second piece of cheesecake is the same willpower that can keep you from checking your phone for the 14th time this hour,” explain the authors.

How can you strengthen your willpower? The authors recommend starting with the basics. For example, since you’re primarily working from home because of COVID-19, continue making your bed, eating healthy, and sitting-up straight when working.

“All of these little, minor disciplines are small workouts that strengthen your overall willpower and will ultimately help you in separating your work life from your home life,” they add. Promaiarly, when it comes to setting and sticking to your boundaries. When you “clock-out” for the day, then you’re done with work until tomorrow.

3. Kill your ideas.

“For a passionate person, the more you care about what you do, the more you’re trying to solve a problem, the more ideas you’re going to come up with,” says Scott Belsky, co-founder of Behance. “There’s a tendency to be addicted to the energy and excitement of new ideas, but that’s not a long-term high – it’s short-term.”

Like most entrepreneurs, I definitely belong in that group. As a result, my mind is always racing with a million ideas.

Personally, I think that this is both a blessing and a curse. Thankfully, Belsky, who is also the author of Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, says you can counter this by killing your ideas. And, you can do this by:

  • Listening to those you trust. “When we come up with ideas ourselves, we’re drunk on them,” he says. “We don’t have a sober bone in our body to recognize what’s working and what’s not.” That’s why you should bounce ideas off others to get their honest feedback.
  • Having a bias towards saying “no.” “In day-to-day operations, the tendency should be to kill new ideas that can get us off track or over budget,” says Belsky. Wait. Isn’t that the antithesis to innovation? Belsky argues that it’s more about timing: “You have to know the difference between regular operations and one percent of the time when you’re coming together to brainstorm and solve problems. It’s during that 1% that you have to suppress the immune system of the team and let new ideas take hold.”
  • Being stingy with your resources. “An idea happening is the perfect storm,” Belsky says. “There’s a confluence of events that needs to happen. You have a need for whatever the idea proposes; you have time when you can focus on it and pursue it, you have the resources required, you have the capacity.” If you don’t meet those criteria, you don’t want to continue pursuing it.

I’d also add that whenever an idea pops up into your head, you write it down. I always keep a notebook on my desk. But, when I’m out and out about, I’ll put any thoughts into my phone’s notepad.

Besides getting these thoughts out of my head, I can then determine what to chase. As for the bad ideas or thoughts bothering me, I rip them up and toss them in the trash.

4. Clean-up attention residue.

You just responded to an email or crossed off an item from your to-do-list. You’re feeling pretty good. And, while that can help you build momentum, it can also stay with you.

We call this phenomenon has been called “attention residue.” In addition to having a negative effect on your productivity, it can make it difficult for you to “turn-off” — especially when working from home.

But, there are ways to control attention residue. For example, when work is done for the day, quit your email, social media, and messaging programs. You could even turn off your phone. That may cause anxiety. However, I’ve learned that if it’s essential, they’ll leave a message and I’ll get back to them when I can.

Dr. Keith Webb also recommends physical movement, such as standing up in-between tasks. For the last couple of months, I’ve transitioned from “work” mode to “home” by taking a walk as soon as I’ve wrapped up my obligations for the day.

5. Make an appointment with yourself.

Finally, to ensure that you make time to do things outside of work, use your calendar. Just like booking appointments with your team or priorities, block out time during the things you enjoy. It could be an hour in the morning fro exercise or lunch with your best friend.

The idea is to add non-work priorities to your calendar. Now you don’t have the excuse that you “don’t have time.” Better yet, this can be could for your mental health and provides a much-needed distraction from work.

I would add that you don’t want to overdo this. Instead, you need to strike a balance. That means putting your priorities into your calendar first. But, also leaving room for flexibility. For instance, you’re at the store and run into an old acquittance. Your calendar is free for the next two hours, so you offer to buy them coffee and catch-up.

8 Fall Activities Every Team Will Enjoy

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Fall is the best season of the year. The kids go back to school, and the weather cools down to a bearable level. But as workers break out their sweaters and jackets, they may need a boost before winter.

Team-building activities can provide this energy for your company. They’re a way for employees to renew their motivation and tighten the bonds of teamwork. After a summer of vacations, they glue everyone back together.

With that said, seasonal team-building events are key. Solely doing evergreen activities won’t provide the same spark. These activities are especially suited to the fall:

1. Take a camping trip.

Fall is one of the best times to go camping. You don’t have to worry about sweating so much or freezing to death. Plus, the mosquitos are gone, so the bug spray won’t be flowing heavily. 

If you take your team camping this fall, assess everyone’s comfort level. Some people may be thrilled, but others may be apprehensive. 

The good news is, camping doesn’t have to be hardcore. Cabins may be a better move than tents. The more experienced campers can always rough it on their own time.

To round out your trip, choose at least one of these outdoor activities:

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Bonfires
  • Singing
  • S’mores 

Nothing helps people unwind like getting outdoors. And there’s no better time than fall to do it.

2. Visit a corn maze.

Another delightful outdoor fall experience is a corn maze. This classic activity provides some healthy competition in a low-pressure setting. 

Employees can do their best to get out of the maze in the fastest time. For maximum team-building value, try it in teams. Assigning roles like “scout” and “navigator” reminds participants everyone has a part to play. 

While you’re there, why not have a picnic? Bring along food and drinks to unwind after everyone exits the maze. 

3. Go apple picking.

Get your baskets ready for this team-building activity. Heading to an apple orchard is yet another way to enjoy the spoils of fall. 

At an apple orchard, you can collect bushels of fruit. But there are a variety of other things you can do as well. You can shop for different products, take a hayride, and get some cider. 

This experience makes for great family fun. Encourage everyone on the team to bring their kids and spouses along for the fun. 

4. Carve some pumpkins.

Now that it’s pumpkin season, help your team get their creative juices flowing by carving up these squash. Head to a pumpkin patch, and grab a big pumpkin for each person.

For a competitive aspect, announce a caving contest. After an hour or two, get everyone together to vote on their favorites. 

Afterward, these pumpkins can make great decorations for the office. Put them beside your front door, or in a conference space where everyone can admire each others’ work. 

5. Head to an Oktoberfest celebration.

Oktoberfest occurs from late September to early October. Chances are good that there’s a celebration happening in your area. Why not take the whole team out for some hearty food and beer? 

 If you can’t find a celebration near you, you can always throw one yourself. Cook up some German favorites together, or host a cooking competition. Make it a potluck for sake of variety.

Make your Oktoberfest celebration a party by playing trivia games related to the occasion. Does anyone know when the first Oktoberfest was celebrated?

6. Rake leaves for your community.

Looking for a way to have fun while helping others at the same time? Sign up to rake leaves for local businesses or elderly community members. Doing so unites your team around a common cause while giving them some exercise.

Maybe someone in your group knows someone who needs help with the leaves. If not, you can partner with an organization oriented toward community service. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and nonprofits could certainly use the help. 

Nothing feels better than making a difference for others. Ring in the season by doing it together.

7. Do a Halloween escape room.

Your team is full of smart cookies. Put your puzzling skills to the test by heading to an escape room. Find a Halloween-themed one to fit with the season.

Be sure to book a time around Halloween before things fill up. Work through the clues together without scaring yourselves into a tizzy. Do it in record time, and your team will earn a spot in the escape room’s record books.

8. Go to a Haunted House.

As another suspenseful activity, you can go to a haunted house this season. Even the calmest of your colleagues will have trouble holding it together. See who’s the most scared, and make memories you can laugh about for years to come. 

Don’t let the season go by without a bit of team building. It doesn’t take a lot of planning to enjoy each other’s company. And whatever your team’s preferences, fall has something fun for everyone.

How to Make Your Company Vision Resonate with Employees

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How to Make Your Company Vision Resonate With Employees

You may find your company vision inspiring, but do your employees? Does it encourage every team member to put their best foot forward? If not, you’ve got some work to do.

If your company’s vision resonates with employees, they’ll gain a sense of purpose that makes them more engaged. In turn, you’ll be more likely to actualize that vision.

No company is founded without some sort of vision. But putting it in just the right terms can be tough, much less keeping it top of mind on your team. Check out the following ways to make your vision hit home with your employees>

1. Connect the vision to your employees’ values.

Employees sometimes have trouble connecting their values to their work. This can lead to apathy, burnout, bare-minimum work, and frequent turnover. If this spreads across the team, even leaders can fall into this mode.

The solution? You need to show how it connects to their values. Workers generally gravitate toward careers that align with their values. Having a vision that aligns with those values is critical.

Performance reviews and team building sessions are great opportunities to do this. Think of them as chances to get to know your employees better and ask about their values. Once you find those connections, you can make them clear to your workers. 

Furthermore, identifying your employees’ values can open up different avenues for accomplishing your vision. Community involvement, for example, is a great thing to incorporate into your vision. Considering that your employees are community members themselves, they’ll see tangible impacts of their work.

2. Include your company’s culture.

Your company vision shouldn’t be some lofty statement disconnected from your workplace. A holistic vision should connect to the environment of your company. 

Make sure your vision statement includes taking care of people. You might get specific by mentioning:

  • Fair compensation
  • Generous PTO
  • Healthy office relationships 
  • Leadership and growth opportunities
  • Recognition for good work
  • Freedom to take risks
  • Diversity in the workplace

Factoring employee care into your vision will help workers see themselves in it. Who doesn’t want to work for a company that cares about them?

3. Embrace transparency.

In just about any company, hierarchies exist. While hierarchies can enable efficiency, they can also obscure information and seed distrust between employees and their leadership. These tensions can jeopardize the team’s cohesion.

In a transparent work environment, information flows freely. By extension, employees are more likely to share their perspectives and feedback. And with this culture of trust, workers are better able to align themselves with the company’s vision. 

Transparency is easy to call for but tougher to implement. Leaders must be willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Workers must take bad news in stride.

4. Reference the vision in planning sessions.

Following from transparency, employees must see your company’s vision carried out in its work. During planning meetings, point out the connection between each plan of action and the vision. That way, individual actors see how they are contributing. 

Not only does this make employees feel significant, but it reinforces your company vision by making it tangible. Pointing to specific components of yours when making decisions speaks volumes to the team.

5. Pass it down through mentorship.

Mentorship is a great approach to professional development, but it’s also valuable in the context of your vision. By pairing employees who have already internalized the company vision with those who are just starting out, you ensure your vision trickles throughout the team. 

You don’t need a rigid mentorship structure to make this happen, either. Informal one-on-ones, like lunches, spread your vision more surely than top-down commands. There’s no need to play drill sergeant when it comes to promoting your vision. 

6. Tell stories.

Storytelling is part and parcel of making your company vision resonate. Humans are story-driven beings, so tell a vision story your employees can relate to. 

Think about the way that your company began: Did you start it in your garage, highlighting your company’s hardscrabble ways? Maybe an angel investor gave you a leg up, speaking to your vision of lifting others up. 

Keep an eye out for times when you can tell these stories. They can happen at retreats, meetings, or even one-on-ones. Keep it fresh by weaving in fresh insights based on the occasion. As long as they are genuine, you’ll help people resonate with your vision. 

Remember, your vision isn’t only — or even mostly — for you. Your team needs regular reminders of why you do what you do. If you can articulate your vision well, you’ll motivate your employees to go above and beyond. 

12 Ways to Encourage Your Team to Speak Up

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Communication is a skill that all successful leaders need to acquire and maintain — not just in business, but also life. Having the ability to speak in a calm, concise, and clear manner will help your team be able to do likewise. Sharing your vision, goals, and expectations is only one piece of the puzzle. It takes an accomplished communicator to encourage a team to speak up. After all, excellent communication helps strengthen relationships, allows the exchange of ideas, and assists your organization in overcoming barriers. There are 12 ways to encourage your team to speak up.

Unfortunately, a study from VitalSmarts shows that “one percent of employees feel “extremely confident” when it comes to voicing their concerns in the workplace at critical moments.” Additionally, “a third of employees say their organizations do not promote or support holding crucial conversations.”

How can you change these types of statistics? Start by implementing the following 12 techniques.

1. Get to the root of the problem.

The absolute first step you need to take is identifying why people aren’t raising their hands. If you don’t know why, then how can you fix the problem? It’s like if your car doesn’t start when you leave in the morning. You can’t repair a problem unless you know precisely what’s wrong in the first place.

You could interview your team or conduct focus groups. Someone other than you should do this interviewing, as they’re probably afraid to tell you why they don’t raise their hands. You could also issue surveys to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The issue may be because they’re afraid of being criticized by others on the team, or being overlooked for a promotion. Or, they may not understand what you expect from them.

In short, you need to find out what’s holding people from voicing their opinions. Then you can find ways to correct the course.

2. Don’t overwhelm your team.

Let’s say that you have everyone gathered for a team meeting. Without even giving attendees a chance to get settled, you bombard them with way too much information. Even worse, what if the assignments you’re throwing at them are abstract, complex, or even utterly boring.

If every member of your team has their head spinning, or they’re yawning, then they’re not going to be engaged. How can they ask questions or provide input when they don’t know exactly what’s happening? Or, they don’t even have the opportunity to participate because as the CEO, manager, or boss — we’re jumping from topic to topic too quickly.

Whenever presenting information, keep it as simple as possible. Skip the jargon and only focus on the top one or two issues. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything right now. Save the less critical stuff for another time.

3. Apply radical candor.

Kim Scott, a former executive at Google, coined the phrase “radical candor.” It may sound like a complex system. But, in reality, it’s merely creating a bs-free zone.

“Radical candor is clarity offered in the spirit of genuine support, where people feel it’s their responsibility to point out one another’s weaknesses to give them a hand up to the next level,” explains Grainne Forde on Teamwork.com. “Scott illustrates radical candor with an example in which her very inconsiderate boss told her she had a lousy speaking habit.

Scott was saying, ‘um’ too often. In front of the group, he told her that “um” made her sound unintelligent — and then offered to pay for a speaking coach to improve the problem.” Some would consider this a bit harsh, “her directness compelled her to take the feedback seriously and improve.”

I’ve found the degree of “radical candor,” Scott is talking about, should be saved for a one on one. Then after your “radical candor,” hand out a little extra encouragement. With one small compliment, your employee doesn’t consider you an enemy.

To achieve radical candor, both leaders and employees need to realize that feedback is constructive because it allows for growth and development. Additionally, there needs to be transparency. It’s the only way you’ll be able to assist them in working through their weaknesses.

4. Reward people for speaking up.

I vividly remember the first year I went away to a summer camp. The first couple of hours, I was fine. But, I became incredibly homesick later that night. After a couple of days, I was over my bout with homesickness and had no problem enjoying myself.

Towards the end of the week, the other kids in my group began discussing who would receive an award along the lines of, “camper of the week.” I suggested that maybe I would get nominated. This lead to the camp leading asking, “Why? You were homesick and didn’t say anything for a couple of days — and now you talk?”

Some people might think that he was out of line. But, he was right. Sure, I was engaged and did my best to be an ideal camper. But, that didn’t mean I deserved an award. At the same time, the person who did receive this award mentioned that they were proud of me. Now, that recognition was an awesome feeling.

My point is this. You don’t need to throw a party for an employee who asked a question during a meeting. But, you can still show them that you appreciate their contribution when they offer a comment. For example, if they make a high point during a meeting, genuinely thank them for participating. A genuine thank you can be two words. Thank you!

Hemant Kakkar and Subra Tangirala write in the Harvard Business Review, “[I]f you want your employees to be more vocal and contribute ideas and opinions, you should actively encourage this behavior and reward those who do it.”

5. Make meetings more engaging.

Meetings can be a serious time-waster. They can also crush productivity and morale when not when properly. However, there times when meetings are necessary. That’s why making them more effective should be a priority.

While there a multitude of ways for you to improve meetings, making sure that they’re engaging should be at the top of your list. You can achieve meetings worth showing up for, by:

  • Kicking things off with an icebreaker like telling a story or playing a fun game or activity.
  • Not using industry slang or terminology.
  • Asking invitees to leave their phones somewhere else.
  • Saving handouts until the conclusion of the event to avoid distractions.
  • Leaving time for a Q&A at the end.
  • Sending out an agenda in advance so that no one is surprised. Also, this gives invitees an opportunity to review any relevant information and prepare their questions or concerns.

6. Stop dominating the conversation and listen.

While I wouldn’t say this trait is part of all entrepreneurs — I do think that some of us have such a healthy ego that we love hearing ourselves talk. The problem is that if you’re always dominating the conversation, others won’t even bother chiming in. What’s the point when they know there’s hardly a chance to be a part of the discussion.

While there are times when you need to speak, work on talking less and listening more. It may take some practice. But, this is probably one of the most straightforward strategies to get your team to speak up more often.

7. Be aware of body language and power cues.

Body language and power cues are probably not something on the top of your mind. But, your nonverbal communication most definitely impacts the people around you. Think of it this way. How likely would you be to “willing” share your thoughts with a leader who is continuously frowning and standing there with their arms crossed? Probably very unlikely.

But, what if they smiled, made eye contact, and stood in a relaxed, upright posture? You wouldn’t feel as intimidated. A quick couple of words about mastering your body language — soften power cues. For example, leave the expensive wardrobe at home and wear something that doesn’t intimidate your employees. Consider replacing your office’s rectangle desk with an oval one so that you can sit next to them.

8. Boost teamwork.

“When employees work in teams, they actively practice sharing their thoughts and speaking up to accomplish tasks as a group,” writes Eric Friedman over at eSkill. “This gets them used to talking about their work, whether it’s sharing new ideas or concerns, and can be applied on a wider scale to the entire company.”

Fridman adds, “Teamwork also works on a psychological level by bringing employees closer together, helping them form bonds to each other and the work, which will help them feel more confident to speak their minds.”

9. Accept different types of feedback.

When you need to collect feedback, use a variety of methods to do so. Allow your team to express themselves; however, they’re most comfortable. If they have no problem speaking, then don’t force them to write down their thoughts. If they don’t want to discuss a sensitive issue out in the open, block out time for a one-on-one or place a suggestion box in the office.

10. Explain the consequences of participating.

Explaining the consequences of participating does not mean retaliating against employees whenever they share their thoughts. Nor does it indicate that you’ll punish those who aren’t contributing to the conversation. Instead, a consequence in this setting means letting your team know the importance of speaking up.

For example, what if an employee isn’t crystal clear on a task that was assigned to them during a meeting? They might be embarrassed about asking for more details in a meeting. But, by not raising their hand, they aren’t able to complete this responsibility, and likely there were a few others that didn’t get the information. As a result, this can impact not only their career, but also this action can put the rest of the team and organization in jeopardy.

11. Encourage them to take a public speaking class.

In the early days of my career, I was terrified about speaking in public. But, this was a fear I had to overcome. So, I took a public speaking class. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, but it also made me feel more at ease in front of a crowd.

If there are members of your organization, why have nightmares about public speaking, recommend that they also take such a class. It could be online, at a community college, or through an organization like Toastmasters. Here: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers

12. Lead by example.

Do you think that your team will feel comfortable enough to speak their minds when you aren’t? Of course not. It may sound off a vibe that this isn’t an environment where people can openly share thoughts and ask questions.

While you should certainly listen to what others are saying, the other part of being a great communicator is clearly expressing your expectations. It’s also asking precise questions and not being shy when it comes to public speaking.

Moreover, don’t hide in your office all day. Walk around and chat with your team. Check-in with them to see how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Go to lunch. These connections may not seem like a biggie, but the relationship shows that this is a workplace where people can comfortably speak up.

5 Ways to Show Customers You Care About Their Privacy

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Trust is the currency of every relationship, including those you have with your customers. Establishing it early is key for closing sales, while maintaining it over time lets you build loyalty. 

Among a host of other factors, ensuring your customer’s privacy is crucial for trust. Just because people often agree to privacy policies without reading them doesn’t mean they don’t care about privacy. 

Without trust, relationships deteriorate when they hit a rocky patch. Imagine that, god forbid, your company faced a data breach. Customers who trust you to make things right will continue to do business with you.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike. The smart move is to proactively address your customer’s privacy concerns. Here’s how to do it:

1. Conduct a privacy audit. 

In order to allay your customers’ privacy concerns, you need to assess your company’s current protocols. If not, the security promises you make will be viewed as empty. Your ultimate goal is to protect your customers, not merely to convince them that they are protected.  

Start with storage: Where do you house customer data? Who has access to that system? Is its software updated and patched properly? 

But storage is just the start. Think about transference. Beware of: 

  • Third-party programs that take liberties with your customer’s data 
  • A lack of encryption software
  • Insecure information exchanges between employees
  • Printouts tossed in the trash before being shredded

2. Make privacy policies accessible. 

No matter how strong your privacy policies, they won’t generate trust unless your customers can access them. Post them on your website, print them out for new customers, or do both.

Making the information accessible means breaking it down in ways every customer can understand. To promote accessibility:

  • Don’t put privacy information in legalese.
  • Use summaries, headers, and highlights to make your policy skimmable.
  • Include a contact number for comments and questions. 
  • Offer policies in multiple languages, especially those common among your customer base.

These steps cater to “privacy actives,” who make up about a third of your customer base. Deeply engaged with privacy matters, these people will switch companies if they feel their privacy concerns aren’t addressed.

3. Go above and beyond with tips. 

Beyond featuring your privacy procedures on your website, give customers tips on protecting themselves. This demonstrates an investment in their lives beyond what they can do for you. 

Realize this also benefits your company. Customers who are more careful with their own data won’t do things that create liabilities for your company, like send sensitive data to you insecurely. 

What privacy content should you be creating? Everything from changing passwords frequently to tweaking privacy settings on social media is fair game. Point them to data security blogs they may be interested in. 

4. Welcome criticisms and suggestions.

Despite your best efforts, there will always be a customer who insists on stricter privacy controls. Maybe you institute 128-bit SSL encryption — but a customer asks for 256-bit, the type many banks use.

Invite these conversations. Not only might you get some easy-to-implement suggestions, but actually addressing them shows you care about your customers’ feedback

What if you can’t implement a certain security measure? Be transparent about it. Explain why you don’t think it’s needed, or why it simply isn’t cost-effective. Suggest workable alternatives, such as exchanging information in person rather than by email. 

5. Provide avenues to opt out.

You never want to make your customers uncomfortable. If they don’t want their data shared with a certain partner, give them that choice. Let them say “no” by submitting a written opt-out to parts of your policy they object to. 

Remind customers, however, that certain types of data collection are critical for your service. For example, you can’t send text-based appointment reminders to customers if they aren’t willing to give you their cell phone number. 

Balancing privacy and convenience often means making trade-offs. Work with your customers to decide what they’re comfortable with. Allow them to change their minds with written notice, especially after you change how you store or use their data. 

Everyone wins when you store customer data securely. You’re able to improve your marketing game, send reminders, and offer promotions your customers want. Your customers, in turn, don’t have to fill out the same form every time they step into your place of business. 

The keyword is “securely.” If you don’t keep your customers’ data under lock and key, you risk losing loyal customers and even facing legal liabilities. Don’t take the risk. Safeguard their privacy, and make sure they see you doing it. 

Determine Whether Working With a Friend is a Good Idea

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What to Do if Appointments Keep Running Long

There’s no way to sugarcoat this; starting a business is no easy task. You wear multiple hats; you’re continually building clients, don’t forget networking. If you’ve built many businesses, as an entrepreneur — you understand the very real possibility of failure. But how do you determine whether working with a friend is a good idea?

Indeed, it’s a wonder that anyone would ever contemplate starting their own business. But, as Jimmy Dungan said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have decided to make this journey just a little bit easier — by teaming up with someone else. For example, Bill Gates had Paul Allen, and Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. The reason? Each partner brings something different to the table — whether that be different skill sets, lessening the workload, or having additional access to funding.

Maybe you want someone to gripe to, or someone to run your ideas past and have a second set of eyes on a project.

But, instead of approaching a stranger or acquaintance, why not just go ahead and start a business with a friend? After all, it worked for Gates and Allen and Jobs and Wozniak. There have been many famous entrepreneurial teams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson — so why can’t it work for you and your friend?

Well, before you and your best friend get too far ahead of yourselves, you both should take a close look at the good and bad of working side-by-side with a friend.

Why You Should Start a Business With a Friend

You have a co-founder that you know and trust.

After spending years being acquainted with your friend, you know what their belief systems are, how they react to specific situations, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You also know how to get under each other’s skin, so hopefully, you’ll avoid triggering those emotions while in the workplace.

More importantly, they are someone you trust entirely — and know that they would never intentionally do you any harm. What more do you want of a co-founder or colleague?

As Stephen Covey said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

You can speak freely and comfortably.

When you have a trusting and honest friendship, you can pretty much say whatever’s on your mind freely and comfortably. Sure. There will be times when they’ll say something that you don’t want to hear — or that you don’t agree with — but you know what they’re saying is genuine and sincere.

As a result, you can keep each other in-check since you’re calling each other on your BS and ultimately do what’s best for the business.

Creates a positive work environment.

Having friends at work can be extremely beneficial. 70 percent of employees believe having office friends is the “most crucial” aspect of obtaining a fulfilling work life. What’s more, office friendships lead to higher engagement and productivity and a stronger connection to the company.

You have someone to bear your burdens.

Starting a business on your own, as already mentioned above, it no easy task. It can also be incredibly lonely.

But, when you have a friend by your side, you eliminate this loneliness. More important, you have someone to share your burdens with your — whether that be financial or completing tasks on-time. And, because they’re going through everything you are, you can vent to each, celebrate accomplishments, and even throw a couple of drinks back after a particularly challenging week.

You share the same vision.

Friends tend to think alike — that’s likely why you became friends in the first place. You and your friend being able to think alike is actually a great asset for your business.

You likely have the same goals, values, and vision for your business. Thinking alike can come in useful when you’re pitching an idea or your business to a client, prospective customer, or interested investors. If you know what your partner-in-crime is going to say next, then you can set them up seamlessly.

Decisions are easier to make.

As I just mentioned, friends tend to think alike and have a similar vision and belief system. That can make it easier to agree on business decisions — even if you have a different opinion personally.

Remember, spending too much time making a decision isn’t just time-consuming, it can also drain you mentally. You want to save that energy for more important decisions.

They accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s say that public speaking isn’t your thing, but you’re one heck of a coder. But, your friend is charismatic and loves speaking. Instead of them asking you to pitch your business to an investor or at a conference, they would instead ask you to make a killer website to impress others. They also wouldn’t get upset or frustrated in areas that you’re weak — and vice versa.

Simply put, you accept each for you are. As a result, you can leverage each other’s strengths and improve on your weaknesses.

More friend time.

When you work with a friend, it sometimes doesn’t feel like work at all. You get to shoot the breeze, have fun, and create memories. As a result, going to work becomes more enjoyable and relieves stress.

Why You Should Not Work With a Friend

It can be hard to distinguish between work and play.

At the same time, chatting and hanging out all day isn’t always great for productivity. Instead of focusing on work, you’re busy talking about a movie you watched over the weekend. On the flip side, when you’re outside of the office, you may start talking shop instead of just enjoying each other’s company.

No matter how much you love your business, you both need to set boundaries and separate work from play.

Also, you may let workplace difference spill over into your personal lives. For example, if you and your friend are disagreeing on the direction of the business, and it becomes heated, that could make your social life a bit awkward.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

As friends, you probably know a lot about each other. But, knowing too much of others can erode respect.

For example, if you don’t agree with the lifestyle your friend is living, you may feel that they’re someone you shouldn’t work with. Even despite the fact they’ve shown up to work every day bringing their A-game.

Who’s the boss?

Even if you’ve agreed on established roles, it can still be tough to take orders from your friend — and they probably feel the same. As a result, there may be a power struggle.

You must compartmentalize relationship issues.

Friends fight. But, you can’t let those little personal squabbles interfere with the business. No matter how ticked you are at each other — you must remain professional and discuss any disagreements calmly and rationally.

In other words, you need to learn how to compartmentalize any relationship issues you have. Just because you’re at odds personally doesn’t mean that you’re currently at odds with your business partner.

Performance issues can be awkward to address.

When an employee isn’t delivering the results you expect, the conversation isn’t complicated. You have a conversation with them, determine what the problem is, and discuss the ways that they can be more productive.

That conversation isn’t so straightforward with your friend. You may be too empathetic, or they’ll take what you’re saying too personal. It may be an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary if you want your business to thrive.

Friendships don’t always translate to business compatibility.

Sure. You and your friend may share similar values and philosophies. But, you may have completely different approaches to completing various business tasks. That can lead to conflict and when trying to build your business model and company culture.

You know the same people.

Networking is critical when starting a business. But, how much networking can you do when you and your partner know the same people?

Networking may be a greater challenge, but knowing how to find and establish new connections may not be challenging.

A failed business can lead to a failed friendship.

If you fail in this business venture — it can be the absolute worst-case scenario.

Let’s say the business fails, and you blame each other for the failure. You didn’t just lose business; you also lost your friend.

If you’re still on the fence about working with a friend, here are some questions you should ask yourself. Determinations will become more apparent with questions.

  • Do you share the same business goals and values?
  • Do your work habits and schedules align?
  • Can you complement each other’s skills and talents?
  • What roles and responsibilities should each partner take-on?
  • How will you resolve conflicts?
  • Are your personal lives stable?
  • How long have you known each other?

Just make sure that you cover all of the topics to do with your business that you can think of. A first business venture is usually the one that friends get together in. You want the best from your first business venture. Take the time to set up all of the parameters so that you and your friend can remain great partners through thick and thin.

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