Communicate Important News Internally

An effective internal communications strategy on Agen ceme is essential when trying to encourage a cohesive team to work together toward the same goal. Especially when it comes to announcing important news to your team, using the right internal communications approach is of utmost importance. The right communications strategy ensures the intended message is clear and easily understood, leaving no room for error. That’s why we asked 15 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following:

“What’s your best tip for internally communicating important news (key hires, funding, etc.) to the entire company, and why is this key to ensuring the message is communicated well?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

  1. Be Transparent
    “Be transparent as much as you can and as soon as you can. Nothing is worse for morale than employees thinking they are not in the loop or an equal member of the team. This is especially true if the news will impact that employee financially, organization-wise or responsibility-wise.” ~ Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
  2. Communicate in Person
    “Any time a major development happens in a corporate setting, communicating the information personally is a major asset. I have frequently sent emails to discrete groups of individuals and then spent the time to personally meet with each group to deliver the news. This way you have control over your audience but also can deliver a personal feel.” ~ Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP / White River Consulting, LLC
  3. Build a Cadence
    “Build a cadence. We have a 10-minute all-hands meeting every day where we rotate through what different teams are working on and share company news. Especially since we’ve now gone all remote, this is the central “heartbeat” of our company and where everybody comes together. Monthly, we have a more formal all-hands meeting where we dive deeper into things that take more time.” ~ Tony Scherba, Yeti

President Trump Calls for Standalone Relief for Small Businesses

Business groups have long sought to get Congress to pass individual aid packages. Trump just opened the door to the opportunity.

After instructing his staff to shut down stimulus talks until after the election on Twitter, the President later showed enthusiasm for individual bills providing additional assistance for small businesses and airlines. He also tweeted that should Congress pass a standalone bill offering $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans, he’d sign it.

The reaction among business groups to his initial move to shut down stimulus talks had been swift.

“Washington’s failure to enact additional Covid relief will be felt on Main Streets and at kitchen tables across the United States,” Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, said in a statement. “It is especially disappointing given that less than a month ago a bipartisan group of members of Congress outlined a reasonable compromise that would have provided the economy with the support it needs while helping our nation recover from this pandemic. Republican and Democratic leaders should follow their example.”

While dizzying, the new course may hearten businesses–many of which may now be on the brink of closure after other aid has expired and revenue remains hobbled. In recent weeks, business leaders and advocates had pressed for the passage of smaller bipartisan small-business-relief bills piecemeal, like the Continuing Small Business Recovery and Paycheck Protection Program Act and the Restart Act–which received wide support from the business community.

Business leaders also called for fixing existing programs, including the Main Street Lending Program, operated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, a longstanding business aid program from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The former program has so far failed to catch on with businesses for a variety of reasons and the latter has been capped at just $2 million, well under the scope of what many businesses say they need to bridge them through the crisis.

How to Fix the Tech Industry’s Empathy Problem

Tech entrepreneurs often tell Maëlle Gavet that empathy is a weakness in business–that kindness gets in the way of making tough decisions, or that bruised egos and hurt feelings are a necessary cost to changing the world.

Gavet couldn’t disagree more. “If you define corporate empathy as the ability of a company and its leadership to understand what’s happening in the world around them–and how their decisions impact people inside and outside the company–I think you actually have a better company,” said the 42-year-old tech executive, speaker, and author during a roundtable discussion and Q&A at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Wednesday.

And she should know: A former Priceline executive and CEO of Ozon, Russia’s version of Amazon, Gavet wrote a book on corporate empathy, Trampled by Unicorns: Big Tech’s Empathy Problem and How to Fix It, published last Tuesday. Plenty of tech companies, she said, work hard to take care of their employees–and plenty have empathetic people working for them. None of that is enough, she argued: “It has to include your customers, and it has to include your local community and your community at large.”

Gavet, who most recently served as the chief operating officer at New York City-based real estate startup Compass, pointed to Facebook as the epitome of a unempathetic company, because of its seeming inability to make decisions that benefit anyone other than Facebook itself. An inverse example, she said, is Nike, which used employee feedback to launch a line of athletic maternity clothes last month–and quickly sold out.

“Empathy and being human-centric is actually good for business,” Gavet said. “I’m a capitalist. I’m not telling all these companies to become nonprofits. I’m just saying that if you want to have a company that’s still going to be around 20, 50, 100 years from now, you have to take into account the well-being of the world you rely on.”

Such a transformation probably won’t happen overnight. Still, Gavet recommended three actions for any company–tech or otherwise–looking to improve:

1. Rewrite your job descriptions.

Empathy requires access to a diverse set of life experiences, and standard job descriptions tend to attract the same types of job candidates. Work to attract candidates who can talk to others, understand varying points of view, and translate that into their work–whether they’re designers, engineers, or anything in between.

2. Reward employees for both behavior and results.

Most companies, Gavet said, issue promotions or raises purely on the basis of results–allowing jerks to rise through the ranks. “Your behavior matters,” she noted. “I’m continually shocked by the number of companies that reward employees exclusively on results.”

3. Institute ethical oversight.

At universities, research projects are governed by ethics oversight boards–yet no such requirements exist in the business world. “When an engineer launches a test, that should be discussed with someone who isn’t looking at it from a pure code perspective,” Gavet said. “Is it ethical? Should we actually be testing that?”

For This Haunted House Business, Halloween During Covid Is Extra Scary

The zombies have been practicing at home. They stand before mirrors, screaming and grunting through their masks. “They want to make sure they are loud enough,” says Jennifer Condron. “That people can hear their snarls.”

Condron is the founder of New York City-based BulletProof Productions, whose centerpiece is Bane Haunted House, transplanted last year to Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood from New Jersey. Most Halloween attractions aren’t much creepier than Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Bane, rated by BuzzFeed as one of the nation’s scariest, is more like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The gore is cinematic, the spaces tight and disorienting. Visitors are separated from their parties and forced to undergo the terror–which includes crawling, sliding, and spinning in the dark–alone.

In this uncertain season, Halloween business owners like Condron are enduring their own kind of terror. Just 25 percent of small-size haunts are opening this year, according to the Haunted Attraction Association. To diversify her revenue stream beyond the crucial weeks of September and October, Condron in the spring built a new suite of escape rooms, into which she sunk around $275,000. But those rooms are mothballed until next year because of coronavirus. 

Condron has spent another $100,000 preparing Bane for Halloween 2020. That investment includes normal expenditures–refreshing the space with new scares, hiring actors, marketing–and Covid-related ones, like equipping the zombie hordes with PPE and installing MERV 13 air filters on all five floors.

Normally Bane would have begun welcoming fear fans by the end of September. Now Condron is hoping for October 16. She says she has been cleared to open by the state but can’t get a straight answer from the city. “Over the past two months, we have been hearing rumblings that we can’t because we are indoor family entertainment, and the city is not allowing those attractions to open in phase four,” says Condron, referring to the current stage of New York’s reopening plan. She has put in multiple calls to the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “It is always, ‘We don’t know,'” Condron says. “‘We will get back to you.’ This has been going on for weeks.”

So Condron is proceeding with fingers crossed. That means reimagining Bane–whose rules include “Don’t touch us! We may touch you!”–for current conditions. In the back of her mind lurks the fear that for her business, Halloween may be dead. “Anything could happen,” she says. “It is scary.”OCT 8, 2020

Chip and Joanna Gaines on the ‘Secret Ingredient’ Behind Their Next Venture

When it comes to building a business empire, Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t afraid of breaking a few rules. The husband and wife renovation experts–Chip is a general contractor while Joanna’s background is in design–have never let their résumés prevent them from launching ambitious ventures in other industries.

Since rocketing to stardom with their HGTV home renovation show Fixer Upper, the couple has launched a popular retail brand, opened a bakery and restaurant, and created a slew of media properties, including the magazine The Magnolia Journal. With their newest project, Magnolia Network, a TV channel set to replace Discovery’s DIY network, the Gaineses are once again breaking with convention.

“Our secret ingredient to good television is finding people who do not want to be on television,” Chip said while speaking, with Joanna, at theFast CompanyInnovation Festival on Wednesday. He explained that working with people who are reluctant to step into the spotlight makes for better storytelling, as they bring a refreshing authenticity and passion for their work.

Following a somewhat counterintuitive business strategy is a theme across all of the Gaineses’ business ventures. While branching out into so many different professional endeavors can be chaotic, doing what feels right and “flying by the seat of our pants” keeps working for the Waco, Texas-based duo, according to Chip. Here are some more strategies the Gaineses say have helped them build their empire.

Do what feels meaningful–even when you lack experience

Neither of the Gaineses ever thought they’d be launching a TV network or running a magazine when they first started their careers, but the pair say they navigate their work lives by leaning into what they love and what feels meaningful, even if it means figuring things out later.

“One thing we learned throughout the magazine process was the thing we love most was not actually us being on the show, it was getting to highlight other people, their stories, their passions and kind of curating that,” Joanna said.

The SBA Makes It Easier to Apply for PPP Loan Forgiveness

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering to make it even easier to apply for PPP loan forgiveness–but only for the smallest borrowers.

On Thursday, the SBA along with the U.S. Treasury Department issued a new, streamlined loan forgiveness application for businesses with Paycheck Protection Program loans of $50,000 or less. The measure, as outlined in an accompanying final interim rule, further simplifies the loan forgiveness process, following the SBA’s release of a more borrower-friendly “EZ” loan form in June. Businesses have been able to apply for forgiveness since August 10.

“We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”

In addition to requiring fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers, the new form–Form 3508S–does not require borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less to reduce their loan forgiveness calculations if they’ve cut head count or salaries.

Previously, to get full forgiveness, borrowers of any amount had to maintain head count through the covered period and at the time of forgiveness. They couldn’t cut employee pay more than 25 percent during the 24-week covered period, either. A safe harbor was granted to employers that were unable to reopen fully or at all during the pandemic, as well as to firms that tried to rehire an employee who refused to return.

While the new application is available to the approximately 3.57 million borrowers–out of 5.2 million–with loans of $50,000 or less, not all borrowers will be able to benefit.