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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 02:20
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You can't position your company as cutting-edge if your employees think it's run-of-the-mill. How we're giving our company culture a boost.

It is impossible to position your brand as avant-garde and unique if your employees and partners don't believe it is. In an era where competition and options abound, this single issue can sink you.

One of your key distinguishing factors is human capital--the combined worth of your employees' skills, knowledge, and experiences. It is a crucial asset within your organization, and should never be underestimated.

Company culture, which influences the strength of your human capital, is built by helping your employees have fun at work and experience things they wouldn't get to do at other companies. 'Star' employees (the ones that add huge value to your human capital) look for companies that create interesting and highly enjoyable experiences.

We learned this lesson the hard way, when a key employee transitioned out of the company. Since then, we've made it a point to establish some traditions that enhance our company culture, and our company has transformed as a result.

Here are a few things we do to keep things interesting:

1. Terrifying but Liberating: The 'Try-on' Party

Picture this: The champagne is popped, the music is on, and everyone's equal parts excited and terrified. We announce the styles, divide the staff in groups, and they come out wearing our luxury bikinis as we discuss the fit based on women's varying and beautiful body types. After a few claps, a few wows, and some giggles, they're not shy anymore. And no, our male employees do not attend!

The goal: As a luxury swimwear company, we should understand the challenges of purchasing a swimsuit without trying it on. That is why decided to start the staff Try-on Party, where our employees increase their deep knowledge of the products by trying on a group of styles and then discussing how they fit based on their body type.

2. Eccentric Holiday Shindigs

Every Christmas, my business partner and I host an inventive holiday party, where employees compete in a series of contests. This year, we pushed the boundaries of originality with a holiday song karaoke challenge, an ugly hand-crafted sweater contest, and a down-low dance contest. At the karaoke party, singing was mandatory. No lurking allowed! We have tons of pictures of the staff singing carols like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman in crazy sweaters.

By putting together a unique party full of events and laughs, we ventured outside of the normal holiday gathering and made lasting memories for the team.

3. Sharing our Meaningful Experiences

After our recent trip to Napa Valley, we shared two exclusive bottles of wine with our small team. By toasting to the new year with this special wine that we'd brought back, and showing them pictures of our trip, we conveyed our gratitude for 'holding down the fort' in our absence and being part of our inner circle. Even to the non-wine drinkers, it meant a lot.

If your internal company culture does not embody your brand, the uphill battle is steep and treacherous. The power of human capital becomes even more evident when you see the pitfalls of a negative company culture. Make a great culture a priority.



Wednesday, 30 January 2013 02:00
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Four tips to help you sell ideas, even if you hate sales.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 23:04
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This blog post is the final part in our series on & and#8221;how to market your New Zealand business with surgical precisionand#8221;. Part 1 in the series provided an understanding of why New Zealand businesses need to know exactly where theirand#8230;and#187; read more

Read the full article here: Part 3 – Share Content That Secures High Value Online Followers

Tuesday, 29 January 2013 09:30
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A startup incubator in The New York Times Co.'s Manhattan headquarters will nurture companies that are rethinking the future of media.


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Tuesday, 29 January 2013 04:58
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Outside money is never "no strings." Some advice on how to expand your business without compromising what you've already built.

Dear Norm,

My partner and I are working on a new, cloud-based software application that we're convinced has some serious potential. The problem is that our existing company doesn't have enough cash flow to fund the project, so we'll need to look for outside investment. My gut tells me that I should start a company specifically for this application and keep it separate from our existing company, which is successful on its own. I'm just not sure how to structure the new entity, considering that my partner and I want to retain majority control.

--Justin Farmer
President, Kernel
Aurora, Colorado

Taking on outside investors is a much bigger deal than most entrepreneurs understand when they go out looking for capital. The money always comes with strings attached. For that reason, if no other, I agree that Justin Farmer and his partner should create a separate business entity for their new application, especially because it has nothing to do with their main business. That business provides IT professionals to oil and insurance companies operating in remote parts of the world. The application is a tool for tracking the location of equipment and other assets. Neither one adds value to the other, and there is no connection between them.

At this point, the application is little more than an idea. The partners are still trying to get a prototype built. Even then, they'll have to demonstrate the size of the potential marketplace for the product before they'll be able to raise the $150,000 they think they'll need to get the program up and running. Meanwhile, they should keep in mind the old rule that the earlier you try to raise money, the harder it is to get and the more equity you have to give away if you do find a willing investor.

As for the structure of the new company, I thought Justin and his partner would probably want a C corporation or an LLC, a limited liability company, but I told them they should talk to their accountant about it. They should lay out the entire situation to him or her and follow his or her advice. Questions of corporate form are best directed to a specialist with all the details at his or her fingertips.

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