I am continually amazed by people who take a vision and attempt to turn it into a business reality. Of course, this requires passion, intelligence, insight, and commitment. However, it also requires something else – the realization that the effort is an experiment.

As Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble teach us in “The Other Side of Innovation,” “… the innovator’s job cannot be to deliver a proven result; it must be to discover what is possible, that is, to learn by converting assumptions into knowledge as quickly and inexpensively as possible.”

One such innovator who is in the throes of running an innovation experiment is 34-year-old Ashley Poulin, CEO of SharpHeels. Ashley’s vision with the website is to provide professional women a forum to learn, share and obtain knowledge and services that will help them enjoy, as well as advance in, their careers. She started this as a hobby while working as a marketing leader at a leading computer-hardware company and now dedicates herself full-time to the effort. (read more…)

There is one advantage that quiet people have over those of us who like to hear the sounds of our own voices. They are good observers.

This is a point that actor Liev Schreiber made about the title character he plays on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” During an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Schreiber said that Donovan’s character, who in Dave Davies’ words “doesn’t say much,” instead spends time taking things in. That is, he listens to what people tell him.

A quiet leader is one who values his own strengths but also has the ability to see the world as others do for one simple reason. Such leaders listen. Knowing how another thinks is essential to persuasion.

Speaking less and listening more is a good exercise for any leaders. It’s an advantage that introverts may have but it is a learned behavior that extroverts can make it work for them. (read more…)

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Understanding the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act is a formidable task, and we’re all learning as we go. But the basics of health care for small-business owners are actually pretty straightforward.

Here are a few things you should know:

On Jan. 1, 2015, the ACA employer mandate kicks in. For employees to be covered by Jan. 1, they must be enrolled by Dec. 15, but new employees can be added throughout the year.

  • Businesses with 100 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees will be required to provide health insurance to at least 70% of those employees. (A full-time employee is anyone who works at least an average of 30 hours a week. Two people working a combined 30 hours are considered a full-time equivalent.) The annual penalty for not providing insurance will be $2,000 for every employee after the first 30.
  • Businesses with 50 to 99 full-time or full-time equivalent employees have until the following year before they’ll be penalized
  • Businesses with fewer than 50 employees remain exempt.
  • (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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What is one question remote managers should be asking their team members every week or month to gauge their level of engagement?

yec_Juha Liikala1. Do you need help with anything?

Managing a team where members are highly determined and conscientious is a wonderful thing. There are times, however, when conscientious can become an issue. A team member might be afraid to admit that he/she has a problem he can’t figure out by himself. This leads to delayed deadlines and unnecessary stress. Avoid this by asking, “Is there anything at all you need help with this week?” – Juha Liikala, Stripped Bare Media

yec_Adam Stillman2. (read more…)

Change is a deeply human phenomenon, activating deeply human responses that don’t always help to advance organizational goals relative to change. But given today’s business environment — in which it seems that constant and escalating change is the fuel behind much progress and results — leaders must quickly master their ability to understand and constructively respond to the range of responses that could inhibit success.

Any leader who’s been on the job for more than a day has seen evidence of some of the most frequent and noticeable employee responses to change:

  • Open resistance, characterized by the obvious and verbalized messages that let you know clearly that someone is not supportive. As frustrating as open resistance can be, the good news in these situations is that there are no surprises. You know where others are coming from.
  • Quiet resistance, which may look like a smile to your face but undermining behavior behind your back.
  • (read more…)