Last August, we introduced the key theme of the next IX Research report: the role employee engagement plays in the innovation process. We started with a premise that innovation thrives in organizations that have established a culture of innovation. But what exactly does “a culture of innovation” mean? We hypothesized that an indispensable element of this culture is… Continue reading →

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Once again the government is there to teach us a valuable leadership lesson. And this has nothing to do with politics or party affiliation. It’s not about Democrat or Republican, nor about whether you like or dislike the current administration. It’s about setting and following through with clear expectations and consequences. The Story: Hillary Clinton sets up her own server in her home and uses it for all of her email communications, both personal and business, while she is Secretary of State. At the same time, government employees are told to conduct all government business through .gov email addresses. “Leaders” in government, including Mrs. Clinton tell their employees to only use their .gov emails for government business. All government employees sign form OF-109 confirming that they have returned all unclassified documents to a responsible official upon their resignation or retirement from government service. However, whether she signed the document or not, it is unclear if Mrs. Clinton ensured her documents made it to a responsible government official when she left the Secretary of State’s office. And she isn’t saying whether she did. Dan Metcalfe explains this situation in a Politico article . While it’s a little too snarky for my taste it does lay out the case from the viewpoint of someone who would know. Where was the oversight? Where was the commitment to policy? To expectations? And what were the consequences of following or not following policy? The Business Case: This type of situation is played out on a daily basis in businesses around the world. There are employees making their own decisions about how they are going to conduct themselves and which rules they are going to follow. And there isn’t anyone holding them accountable. This doesn’t only impact that employee. It impacts the entire company and its ability to succeed. 1. The leadership is in less control and in many cases is unaware of the impact the actions of these employees is having on their bottom line. 2. Other employees are watching and making their own decisions based on what they see. They are also developing a perception of the company leadership — one that usually isn’t very good. 3. Good employees leave because they see the negative effect of these situations and don’t want to be collateral damage. 4. In many cases, the company’s finances are negatively impacted as well. The Solution: In order for an organization to run smoothly and properly address the challenges it encounters, the leadership has to be in control. That means they have to not only create expectations with consequences, but they have to communicate them consistently, and most importantly, follow through with them. People need to know that there really are consequences to their actions — both good and bad. It’s up to the leadership to follow through with those consequences so everyone knows they are real. This is how they build respect and how they ensure people will follow them. It’s how they move forward effectively. The cleanup that happens when someone doesn’t follow the policies and guidelines in an organization takes everyone’s energy away from the goal. Isn’t the point of leadership to get people to follow you to the goals you seek? Employees need to know you mean it — all the time. Otherwise you are telling them you don’t mean it at all. And that is a failure of leadership. Hillary Clinton photo via Shutterstock This article, ” A Failure of Leadership: What Business Owners Can Learn ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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As small business owners, we all want our businesses to survive and thrive. Sometimes, that means making personal sacrifices. But a new study by Experian reveals that women business owners may be making too many sacrifices when it comes to their personal finances — and it’s putting their personal credit ratings at risk. The study of both male and female business owners examined both business and personal credit data, then analyzed the differences between the credit profiles of the men and women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they found: Women business owners have lower incomes than male entrepreneurs. Just 17.4 percent have a personal income of $125,000 or more, compared to 21.2 percent of men. Women business owners have an average business credit score of 34 (out of 100, with 100 being the least risk); men business owners average 35. Women business owners’ consumer credit scores average 689; male business owners’ consumer credit scores average 699. What’s behind the discrepancy? Women entrepreneurs in this study were most likely to own and operate businesses in these six industries: Business Services Beauty Shops Retail Stores Personal Services Building Maintenance Restaurants Men were most likely to own and operate businesses in these six industries: General Contracting Business Services Real Estate Restaurants Motion Picture Distribution Retail Stores Although there is a lot of overlap here, general contracting and real estate businesses may be more likely to generate larger sales than the typical businesses run by women. Women-owned businesses typically generate lower revenues: Only 14.5 percent have sales of more than $500,000, while 24 percent of men-owned businesses do. In addition, women-owned businesses pay their bills 8.4 days past due, while male-owned businesses pay theirs an average of 8.1 days past due. Women’s more limited access to commercial credit is reflected in the study. Just 18.5 percent of women-owned businesses have one or more open commercial trade accounts, while 22 percent of men-owned businesses do. As a result, women are more likely to turn to their personal credit to finance business operation and growth. Over 25 percent of women entrepreneurs have 10 to 19 tradelines open on their personal credit files; just 17.5 percent of male business owners do. Women are also more likely than men to have delinquent personal credit accounts. In the last 24 months, women entrepreneurs had an average of 1.3 personal credit accounts become 90 or more days past due, compared to an average of 0.9 for male entrepreneurs. What gives? When women business owners can’t get access to capital and credit they need through commercial channels, they’re forced to turn to their personal credit to keep their businesses running. This can be risky, affecting your ability to pay off personal obligations and ultimately hurting your personal and business credit rating. What can you do if you find yourself in this bind? Do everything you can to cut costs so you don’t need as much capital. Look into alternative sources of financing that rely less on your business credit rating. Invoice-based financing or equipment financing, for example, allow you to turn receivables or planned equipment purchases into “collateral” for loans that can help you grow. Seek loans or investments from friends and family to avoid hurting your personal credit rating. Be sure to treat them as you would any type of loan or investment, including issuing stock and drawing up loan documents. If you’re launching a new product or service, consider crowdfunding your growth via peer-to-peer sites such as Kickstarter. Businesswoman Photo via Shutterstock This article, ” Are Women Entrepreneurs Putting Their Personal Credit at Risk? ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Did you know that back in 1982 the high-tech entrepreneurship rate was 60 percent in the U.S.? You would think that with the advancements that have been made in technology during recent years that rate would have increased — or at least remained at a high level. That hasn’t exactly been the case. By 2011, the rate of high-tech entrepreneurship fell to 38 percent. Even more disparaging is the fact that most tech startups fail within 20 months after receiving funding . Does this mean that the tech industry is doomed? Of course not. According to the Pew Research Center , the number of tech-industry jobs has risen from around 2.2 million to 4 million jobs from 1997 to 2012. Furthermore, according to the Kauffman Foundation, tech entrepreneurship can still pack an economic punch. The wearable technology field, for example, is a $700 million industry . And, with both the economy and entrepreneurship on the rise, there’s still plenty of opportunities for a tech business to survive. Defining apps in the beginning is crucial for many reasons, especially as you grow as a business. If apps are not defined, employees may turn to their own apps for computer and mobile usage, leading to Shadow IT issues that you may have to clean up later, which can be expensive to clean up in the future. If you want to make the commitment to launching your own tech business, here are some tips for setting up a tech business from Scratch. Mention Before starting any business, it’s imperative that you conduct market research. Mention can be used to see what people are saying about your industry, since it aggregates user generated content from social media platforms, forums, blogs and websites in real-time. In short, you can use Mention to see if there is a buzz surrounding your particular industry. If you notice that there is an interest in your tech product, you can continue to use Mention to discover what the online world is saying about your product and business. Mention also has the ability to share these findings with team members so that you can collaborate accordingly. Pricing starts at $29 per month and comes with a single interface that can be used on your desktop or mobile device. GitHub If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of , or even used, GitHub. After all, it’s a powerful Git repository hosting service that has helped developers collaborate, review code and manage tasks with their open source projects. For example, Sam Lavigne used GitHub to create a pretty handy program that converts any text into a patent application. With more than 20 million repositories, GitHub has more than tools to help young businesses grow. For the times that you’re on the go, GitHub does have an app so that you’ll be able to keep tabs on your project. Wrike When launching a business managing a project is an absolute necessity. That’s why a tool like Wrike comes in handy. With Wrike, you can collaborate with team members to assign tasks and keep track on the progress of a project. With this software you can plan product management with either Agile or Waterfall planning. And, when it’s time to market your product, you can use Wrike to establish your marketing campaign. Another huge benefit with Wrike is that it integrates with tools like Gmail, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, GitHub, WordPress, HipChat, LinkedIn and Quickbooks, to name a few. Wrike is free to use if your team is under five members. For larger businesses plans start at $49 per month. Evernote Evernote is probably one of the most useful tools for any business owner. Not only can you create shopping or to-do-lists, you can also use it to review prototypes, draw up concept sketches and collect everything from handwritten notes, and business cards to news articles and images. The Evernote Business features include a workstation for team members during brainstorming sessions or product launching. You can even convert your ideas into presentations without taking the time to create slides. Yet another perk of Evernote is that it’s able to connect with business apps like Feedly, CloudMagic and Zapier, to name a few. The Evernote app is free to download, however, Evernote Business starts at $10 per month per user. WeVideo Instead of trying to explain how your product works, why not create a video that actually demonstrates it in action? With the WeVideo app, you can easily edit and share your videos with everyone from co-workers to investors to potential customers. Best of all? All of your hard work is stored on the WeVideo Cloud, so you don’t have to be concerned with eating up your mobile device’s memory. And, you even have access to reports that show you important data like how many times your video has been viewed. The WeVideo app is free to download, but if you need something more powerful you may want to consider a Business plan that starts at $15 per month. Image: Evernote This article, ” 5 Essential Apps For Setting Up a Tech Business From Scratch ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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I came across this faucet design on c|net and I thought to myself, now there is a smart design that brings a bit of the wonder of a dancing water show into the bathroom. It’s called the Swirl and was designed my Simin Qiu. He won the 2014 iF Haier special prize student award for the design. The faucet has… Continue reading →

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There is a lot of dicussion around how customer orientation effects innovation. Ralph Ohr dives into research by V. Govindarajan, P. K. Kopalle and E. Danneels which studies the effects of customer orientation on a firm’s innovativeness. Continue reading →

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How many times do you get distracted during the day? I can tell you that I sat down to write this particular book review at least three times. I would write a sentence or two and something would grab my attention as being more important than the next sentence. In fact, I just stopped writing in mid-sentence to clean up a breakfast mess I was looking at from my desk. Ugh! And what about running your business? It’s one distraction after another that takes your attention from running your business to “putting our fires” and addressing the proverbial squeaky wheels. It’s no wonder that the phrase, “Working on your business instead of in it,” is so popular. Then, there are your customers. If you are this distracted, what about them ? Of course, they are distracted by the same things that distract you. These days, it’s the human condition. Captivology Gives You a Blueprint for Grabbing Attention. It’s this dance between attention/distraction that has captured our imagination like no other topic in the 21st Century, as evidenced by the success of books like “Made to Stick”, “ Enchantment ”, “ Hooked ”, “Fascinate” and many others. If you’re a fan of these books, then lean in, because I’ve got some killer brain candy for you called “ Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention ” by Ben Parr ( @BenParr ). Parr is an award winning journalist, entrepreneur, investor, and expert on attention. He was the co-editor and editor-at-large at Mashable and served as a columnist for CNET. Parr was named one of the top 10 tech journalist in the world by Say Media and named to the Forbes 30 under 30. Personally, I love books written by journalists because of their unique ability to do ridiculous amounts of research and craft their learning into content that is not only educational and informative, but fun to read. “Captivology” is exactly that kind of book, fun, entertaining, educational and actually filled with practical ideas that you can use in your own quest to grab your customer’s attention in an ever-crowded, information-overload world. Discover the Science Behind When we Pay Attention, When we Tune Out, and Why Parr dedicated several years of research into 500 studies on attention psychology and neurology to write this book. He interviewed more than 50 PhDs, researchers, and thought leaders, including Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, film director Steven Soderbergh, and illusionist David Copperfield. As a result, he categorizes attention into three distinct types: immediate, short and long attention. Then he takes this a step further and lays out seven triggers that grab attention and how to use them. Here is a short summary of each one: Automaticity: U se specific sensory clues like colors, symbols, and sounds to capture attention based on automatic reactions to certain stimuli. Framing: Adapt to or change people’s expectations to change what they pay attention to. Disruption: Violate peoples’ expectations to change what they pay attention to. Reward: Leverage peoples’ motivations for intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Reputation: Using the reputations of experts, authorities and crowd to instill trust and captivate audiences. Mystery: Create mystery, uncertainty and suspense to keep an audience intrigued until the very end. Acknowledgement: Foster a deeper connection between those people who tend to pay attention and those who provide them with validation and understanding. How to Use “Captivology” to Get What You Want – NOW One of my favorite examples in the book is in the Reputation Trigger chapter. Parr gives some specific advice to journalists and public relations professionals about how to get the word out about their company and product. He writes: “It’s no surprise that, when most startups pitch journalist to write about their businesses, they get no response. It’s because inexperienced entrepreneurs tend to do one, some, or all of the following: Cold call or send her a cold email. Write 10 paragraphs in the body of an email explaining your startup and its virtues. (the journalist never gets past the second paragraph) Feel very email with buzz words like synergy, game changing, next-generation, and never before seen. Buy Facebook ads to target specific journalists. Send a press release. (No journalist read through these press releases anymore.)” Each trigger chapter in the book has practical advice like this. In fact, I’ve dog-eared several of them and I know you’re going to as well. Add “Captivology” to Your Library If …” If you are a marketer, salesperson, small business owner, or even if you are in the non-profit area, “Captivology” needs to be on your nightstand and in your library. If you already own books like “Made to Stick” or Guy Kawasak’s “Enchantment” you won’t be able to resist “Captivology”. In fact, with graduation season coming up, “Captivology” is a great gift for the new graduate who is looking to stand out in a competitive job market. This article, ” Read “Captivology” And Learn How to Grab Your Customers Attention ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Open Innovation (OI) is a well-established way to increase options for innovation. It is quite prominent in areas such as Fast Moving Consumer Goods (CPG), but much less so in manufacturing industries. Kevin McFarthing recently find out more from Pete Longdon, who runs the OI programme at Tata Steel and details them in this post. Continue reading →

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We’ve got two big events right around the corner. If you haven’t checked them out yet you should do it now. AM DAYS Affiliate Management Days Conference is happening in San Francisco beginning Monday Monday 30. This event will help those with an existing affiliate program or those looking to create one. Checkout the discount code below to get 10 percent off a full conference registration. Also beginning this week is the ICON 15 conference. This is Infusionsoft’s annual small business user conference. Keynote speakers, ideas, training, and support are just some of the things you can take advantage of at this event. To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar . Featured Events, Contests and Awards AM DAYS Affiliate Management Days Conference March 30, 2015, San Francisco, Calif. The Affiliate Management Days San Francisco 2015 conference is an event for marketing managers and those responsible for their company’s affiliate marketing strategy, management and operations. Whether you have an existing affiliate program or you’re creating a new initiative, AM Days provides insight into how others are successfully implementing and managing their affiliate programs. Receive 10% off a full conference registration with the discount code: SBIZSF15! ICON15 March 30, 2015, Phoenix, Ariz. ICON is the signature small business event of Infusionsoft, for its customers, partners and in general, for passionate entrepreneurs, small business owners and industry experts to gather for three days of networking, education and inspiration. Over 4,000 are expected to attend in 2015. Moz Con July 13, 2015, Seattle, Wash. Not your average stuffy networking event, MozCon features three days of forward-thinking, actionable sessions in SEO, social media, community building, content marketing, brand development, CRO, the mobile landscape, analytics, and more. MozCon speakers share advanced advice on everything from building a loyal community to making data-driven decisions in your marketing. BlogHer July 16, 2015, New York City, N.Y. A conference celebrating women who blog. The mission is to create opportunities for women in social media to gain community, education, exposure and economic empowerment. The event will be co-hosted along with SheKnows Media in New York City at the New York Hilton. Adobe Max October 03, 2015, Los Angeles, Calif. MAX provides strictly unplugged, old-school inspiration with a mix of people from creative leaders, designers, broadcast and video pros, tech and business strategists, photographers, and more. This shared energy and passion sparks new ideas, drives new partnerships, and breaks new ground every year. MAX attracts inspirational and iconic speakers that share their personal stories. GRAMMY-award winning band Kings of Leon will be there and you can connect with 5,000 other creatives at daily social events. Dreamforce October 13, 2015, San Francisco, Calif. Whether you’re a company of five or a Fortune 500, you’ll learn a lot of innovative ways to improve your business at Dreamforce. With over 1,400 sessions and thousands of live solutions from the world’s largest cloud ecosystem, Dreamforce has tailored content specific to your business size and type, for any role in your company. Global Small Business Forum October 23, 2015, Chicago, Ill. The Global Small Business Forum 2015 held in Chicago will help entrepreneurs and small business owners export successfully and network with their peers. It will answer such questions as: What’s the best way to ship goods? How will I get paid? Do I need a license? Should I sell direct or indirect? Does my business have what it takes to sell in China? World Business Forum New York 2015 November 12, 2015, New York City, N.Y. In 2015 the World Business Forum will present two days of powerful stories; of individuals who face shocks – both personal and organizational – and who use those shocks to achieve the extraordinary. Speakers include Sir Richard Branson, Jim Collins, a former faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Walter Isaacson, once the 14th editor of TIME magazine in 1996 and named Chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, Adam Grant, author of the New York Times bestseller Give and Take and Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. More Events 2015 Women Build America Annual Leadership Conference March 29, 2015, Washington, D.C. An Event Apart 2 March 30, 2015, Online Getting on the First Page of Google: It’s Easier Than You Think March 30, 2015, Chicago, Ill. SAP Conference for Real Estate Management 2015 March 31, 2015, Chicago, Ill. SEJ Summit Dallas March 31, 2015, Dallas, Texas Payroll Research- How to do a Payroll-Tax Laws April 01, 2015, Online HOW TO WRITE COPY THAT MOVES READERS TO ACTION April 02, 2015, San Francisco, Calif. Grow Your Business with WBDC: An Intro to Services April 06, 2015, Chicago, Ill. Linked N Chicago LIVE Event at Trophy – April 7th April 07, 2015, Chicago, Ill. 2015 Workforce Live – New York City April 08, 2015, New York, N.Y. Employee Handbook -National Labor Relations Act April 08, 2015, Online 3rd Annual Social Media Summit April 08, 2015, Highland Heights, Ohio The Chicago Small Business Expo FREE! April 09, 2015, Chicago, Ill. The Chicago Small Business Expo FREE! April 09, 2015, Chicago, Ill. Project Management skills-HR Training April 09, 2015, Online Mediterranean Diet Roundtable (1 Day Event) April 09, 2015, New York City, N.Y. FundingPost Dallas Investor Roundtable April 09, 2015, Dallas, Texas Ignite Series: How to Talk to the Media- Interview Tips and Tricks: A Panel Discussion April 09, 2015, Milwaukee, Wis. FundingPost Dallas Investor Roundtable April 09, 2015, Dallas, Texas Florida Social Con April 11, 2015, Miami, Fla. More Contests Face the Future – Spark Tank May 04, 2015, Albuquerque, N.M. The Next Big SMB Marketing Makeover. June 01, 2015, Online NASE Growth Grant Awards December 10, 2015, Online This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology . Image: AM DAYS This article, ” Don’t Miss Out, AM DAYS, ICON15 Happen This Week ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Innovation Excellence community is a place to experiment and try stuff and invite you to join in. The Anti-Summit, April 23-24, in NYC is one of those experiments! Continue reading →

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