A blog about making your business leaner, faster and smarter

7 Ways Small Business Owners Can Negotiate Better

Negotiation techniques are life skills that are quite useful but rarely broached in an academic setting. Rather, most people experience negotiation trial-by-fire when we decide to purchase a car or a home. But small business owners have more use for negotiation skills than practically anyone. Indeed, starting a small business can sometimes seem like an endless series of negotiations – from leasing an office or storefront to dealing with vendors and suppliers and even securing server space for your website – everyday is a new negotiation and even one unsuccessful deal can turn into a major obstacle to long-term success. Not everyone can have the natural tendency to haggle that some do, but the following negotiation tips and techniques can help even the most confrontation-averse to negotiate painlessly and effectively. Clarify Your Objectives You should always know exactly what you want to get out of a negotiation, even before you …

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General Counsel Guide to the Legal Implications of Big Data

By now, most lawyers have been exposed to the term ‘Big Data’ but they may not understand exactly what it refers to or how it will impact their clients. To understand the legal implications of Big Data, it’s important to understand the meaning of the term. The term Big Data refers to collections of data that are so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using standard database management tools or traditional processing applications. It describes large volumes of complex and variable data that require advanced techniques and technologies to capture, store, distribute, manage and analyze the information. The following are some interesting statistics from Wikibon about Big Data: Walmart handles more than 1 million customer transactions every hour, which is imported into databases estimated to contain more than 2.5 petabytes of data. (Source) 94% of Hadoop users perform analytics on large volumes of data not possible before; …

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Buying Up Main Street – Resources for Commercial Real Estate Investors

Commercial real estate is known to be one of the important indicators of economic health, and it has been in the throes of a major slowdown across the country for the last decade and a half. Big cities around the globe have been left with a glut of office space that is pushing up vacancy rates. Cushman & Wakefield indicate that vacancy rates in Mumbai and New Delhi have topped 20% – the second highest after Chengdu in China. According to experts in commercial real estate in India, prices of commercial real estate have fallen 35-40% since the start of the global financial crisis, and most insist that prices have truly reached bottom in most cities. Direct ownership of commercial real estate is making a comeback around the globe, and rightly so. Historic lows in interest rates combined with rock-bottom prices still depressed from the real estate bust make this …

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Email Management for Lawyers

Despite a nearly constant stream of think pieces about the death of email, in most businesses, including law practices, email is far from dead. According to market research firm, The Radicati Group, an average corporate email user receives 78 email messages every day. Another report, published by management consultant firm McKinsey & Company, notes “the average interaction worker spends 28% of the workweek managing e-mail.” As a late night infomercial would say: there’s got to be a better way. As an attorney, your time is valuable both to you and to your clients. If you make the effort to spend less of your time wading through unwanted and unimportant emails and more time attending to actual work, you, your clients, and your family are likely to be a lot happier overall. Establish a Routine Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, says the most compelling way he has found to avoid total …

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5 Sure-fire Steps to Close your Startup Financing Faster

No startup business owner goes into the process of raising capital without some trepidation. Most entrepreneurs would much rather spend their time growing their business by building more products and enhancing the services – anything other than the grueling endurance test that startup financing usually proves to be. Start-up fundraising for the third quarter of 2013 totaled $559.4 million, according to Elsevier Business Intelligence, down from last quarter’s big rally ($907.2 million) but still up from the sluggish first quarter ($398.7 million).  Pinterest announced in October that it raised $225 million in new funding – just 8 months after raising $200 million. Then came a $60 million raise by Nextdoor which had also secured capital in February, 2013. Snapchat is seeking new funds a scant four months after putting $60 million in the bank. Unless your business has a solid track record of business success and/or excellent sales capabilities, the …

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Why Start Up CEOs Must Master Management Skills

Although it comes along with a lot of prestige, the role of CEO has never been an easy one to fill. Likewise for that of a company founder, and entrepreneur. And where things become even more difficult is when an entrepreneur decides to transition in to that CEO role. Not all of the skills required to be a great entrepreneur are applicable for a great CEO. In many cases, the conflict comes down to the idea of management. Whereas entrepreneurs are often communicators, hustlers, and creative, they are not always comfortable with the degree of management necessary to be an effective CEO. But there is still hope. With a clear understanding of what a good CEO looks like, an entrepreneur will be able to take on the CEO role with confidence. Hiring Well Builds Trust Because a CEO is not as involved in the work, per se, she needs to …

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5 General Counsel Tips to Manage Temporary Attorneys without Going Mad

Still reeling from the effects of the 2008 recession and housing market meltdown, many companies are employing more temporary workers – this includes temporary attorneys hired by general counsel. This new ‘third tier’ of the legal world has done little if not illustrating how post-recession belt-tightening has permanently altered some professions. During and after the downturn, legal departments are more fiscally cautious about ramping back up to pre-recession levels and are instead taking advantage of the availability of qualified contract or temporary attorneys to respond more efficiently to the natural ebbs and flows in workflow demands. Being able to expand and contract the general counsel workforce simply provides greater cost control to increase profitability. The rise of legal process outsourcing, or LPO, firms have stepped up the game by harnessing technology and cheaper lawyers just as corporations began demanding a break from pricey billable hours. The LPO industry’s revenues are …

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Learn to Look at Real Estate Investing with an Entrepreneurial Mind

Real estate investors are first and foremost entrepreneurs. After all, what is an entrepreneur but a person who engages in business and is willing to risk financial losses in order to make significant amounts of money?  Real estate investors don’t get into the business because they want to be life-long employees, they want to be entrepreneurs. As the U.S. housing market crosses back over the line of correction into stabilization, there are new phases to come: recovery and revival. Any way you approach the real estate investing game, there is an entrepreneurial vibe to it and tapping into that realization can be the key to your real estate investing success. 3 Common Traits of Entrepreneurs We’ve all marveled at successful entrepreneur who build or transform industries against all odd, but when you look into the common traits of entrepreneurs, you see why they are successful. They common traits of entrepreneurs …

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The Foundations of Traffic Acquisition for Solo and Boutique Practitioners

When you work at a big law firm, cases are thrown your way and work seems to keep rolling in no matter what you do. The realities of being a solo practitioner or a lawyer at a boutique firm are much different. In order to keep clients flowing in, you have to actually go out and get them. Business development and client acquisition becomes a key part of sustaining your practice. The introduction of the internet and online marketing throws another wrench into things. In order to compete as a solo or boutique practitioner, you not only have to have a respectable website, you have to actually generate traffic to that site. Traffic acquisition can be understandably intimidating for those who lack experience in online marketing, but it doesn’t have to be. We’re going to break it down into its key components so that you can start generating quality traffic. …

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Why Startup Founders Hate HR – and What to Do About It

If you ask most startup founders what their greatest challenge is and human resources inevitably rises to the top. The HR department (if you have one) is not usually considered a critical player at the table where the strategic decisions are made. More often than not, HR concerns are dealt with on an ad-hoc basis and only when the problem reaches the point of nearly no return. Most startup founders see HR concerns as of little value and they fear becoming completely bogged down in what could be seen as ‘other people’s problems’ at a time when they simply cannot spare the time. What Startup Founders Need to Know about HR Here’s what startup founders need to understand about human resources responsibilities because you work with them every single day (yes, you read that right). Sure, you know that when you hire, fire, or promote an employee, that’s an obvious …

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