Profit Minded
  • Chip ConleyChip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels, discusses leadership, his bad first job, and the best business book he's ever read.

    Chip Conley (MBA '84) is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels, California's largest boutique hotel collection, which includes more than 30 properties. Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the parent company of Joie de Vivre Hotels, oversees a collection of restaurants, spas, and affiliate hotels, and operates on a revenue run rate of $240 million a year. Conley was CEO of JDV from its founding in 1987 until 2010. He is the author of four books, including Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness and Success and The Rebel Rules: Daring to Be Yourself in Business. Conley travels the world to speak about business and leadership, and gave 100 speeches in the first half of 2012.

    Far from retirement, Conley is building a new hotel in Palo Alto dubbed “The Epiphany,” set to open in 2013, as well as an 1,100-acre wellness center in Todos Santos, Mexico, on

    Read More »from The Power of “Noble Experiments” – Chip Conley on leadership
  • Web Hosting Considerations

    We have long reached the point where every small business needs to have a web site. Even street hot dog stands have them if for no other reason than to allow people searching for them online to find them. A business' online presence can be as simple as a one page website hosted almost anywhere. Or it can be as complex as any enormous corporation with built-in ecommerce and payment systems, memberships, subscriptions, communities and more: all part of the modern web hosting experience. Which begs the question: What exactly does a small business need in a web hosting service?

    Typical web hosting services provide all the basics: a location to host the content and any code, all the core server and language necessities for hosting a web site especially SQL database systems and language services like PHP. They also mostly include modules for add-ons like ecommerce and payment systems but this is where the small business has to start paying more attention. A typical web host only supports

    Read More »from Web Hosting Considerations
  • So you've been through a few job interviews and now you're down to brass tacks -- you're negotiating the offer. This can be complex, tricky business, and costly, too, if you don't do it well. But complexity also creates opportunities, at least for people who have done some homework. Deepak Malhotra is a professor at Harvard Business School who teaches negotiation skills. He's put together a pretty thorough list of 15 rules to follow when you're negotiating a job offer, which I highly recommend.

    "Every situation is unique, but some strategies, tactics, and principles can help you address many of the issues people face in negotiating with employers," Malhotra writes in a must-read article in the Harvard Business Review.

    After reading the article you might also want to watch a one-hour video where Malhotra gives a presentation about how to negotiate a job offer. I'll also embed the video below.

    Malhotra's first rule, "Don't underestimate the importance of likability," may not come as a

    Read More »from Negotiating a Job Offer? 15 Rules from a Harvard Business Professor
  • The Grommet Seals Future for Two Innovative Inventions

    O-rings from Increment Studios will be crowdfunded

    Opening Day at Fenway Park is still more than a week away, but two teams had big wins there on Thursday.

    The Boston-based product launch and e-commerce site for makers, The Grommet, known for bringing brands including GoldieBlox, SodaStream, FitBit, and Bananagrams to market, held its Second Annual Product Pitch and Game Day at the famous field last week, in search of the “next big thing.”

    In a competition to win a free crowdfunding campaign or the chance to bring an invention to market, The Grommet invited eight finalists to pitch their problem-solving consumer products to a panel of tech, design, and business experts including leaders of Indiegogo, TechStars, and the Boston Design Museum. Products had to be “ready for crowdfunding” or “ready for market” to qualify.

    Jules Pieri and Joanne Domeniconi co-founded The Grommet in 2008 to promote what they call “Citizen Commerce,” a movement to enable “product purchases that express powerful contemporary values around sustainability,

    Read More »from The Grommet Seals Future for Two Innovative Inventions
  • Credit Card Transaction Fees Killing Your Margins? Dwolla to the Rescue

    A soccer fan club saved more than $30,000 in PayPal fees with Dwolla

    The 18,000-member soccer fan club American Outlaws is offering $150 discounts on a package trip to the World Cup in Brazil this summer to members who pay online via Dwolla instead of PayPal. So far, the club has paid $58 in Dwolla transaction fees instead of $32,527 to PayPal.

    The Dwolla platform, which charges $0.25 per transaction, no matter the transaction size, has the potential to disrupt the credit card industry and save business owners a bundle of money.

    Credit card swipe fees are the bane of many a small business. Every transaction can cost 3 percent or more in interchange fees. For online retailers the fees are virtually unavoidable; even PayPal transactions cost a seller 2.9 percent.

    Large retailers operating on bigger margins can pass those costs along to the customer. But small businesses can’t compete that way. Swipe fees can reduce their profit margins by half—costing as much as a part-time worker, or a new piece of equipment would. What’s more, merchants don’t see the

    Read More »from Credit Card Transaction Fees Killing Your Margins? Dwolla to the Rescue
  • Countdown to Tax Day: Get Your Deductions in a Row

    In case you are clueless, with 25 days till tax day, accountants would like you to know that writing off facelifts, bail bonds, and pets as business expenses are surefire ways to invite an IRS audit. Those were among the more entertaining deductions reported by more than 400 small business accountants in a recent survey commissioned by the online accounting software provider Xero and conducted by Zogby Analytics.

    But even less outrageous missteps—such as taking a large number of deductions, deducting as business expenses those that could appear to be personal, mistaking or misstating the status of your workers, or writing off a home office—could trigger an audit, accountants say.

    How to avoid that? Accountants, no surprise, suggest seeing your accountant. Others say don't shortchange yourself. If a deduction is legitimate, take it, but be ready to back it up with documentation in case you are flagged for an audit.

    Though they warn against mixing your business and personal expenses,

    Read More »from Countdown to Tax Day: Get Your Deductions in a Row
  • Open Door

    In interviewing a client at the end of our project I learned how ineffective “open door policies” are by organizational leaders. My client said, “Before we started our work together I couldn’t understand why employees who knew I had an open door policy, didn’t come to me when they knew another employee was doing things that could put our company in danger.”

    I told him, “that’s not unusual.”

    When there is low trust in a work environment, employees have uncertainty as to how a boss will react when they bring issues to them. So they don’t.

    Additionally, in low trust work environments, employees go into survival mode. Typically, employees will band together creating an “us” against “them” culture. When this occurs it renders an “open door policy” worthless. It also shows the organizational leader, who continues to remind everyone about their open door and ask for it to be used, to be clueless and out of touch.

    In these environments, even if employees know about and use the “open door

    Read More »from Open Door Policies Don’t Work
  • Leveraging the Cloud to Boost Your Bottom Line

    Looking for ways to whittle away some of your fixed costs of doing business? Leave it to a tech company to tell you there’s an app for that.

    Mike Pugh, VP of marketing at J2 Global, is helping his customers bring down their expenses now to prepare themselves for the day minimum wages rise. And he says small businesses can really simplify and streamline their operations by getting rid of the hardware and software that impose fixed costs. He recommends moving any front- or back-office function that is not adding value onto the cloud where companies [like J2] provide services to manage them professionally.

    Here’s his advice for engaging the latest cloud-based apps to save dollars.

    Ditch your fax. “Faxes are key to commerce,” Pugh says. “Accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, and loan officers love them.” But cloud-based fax services mean that no startup company ever need invest in a fax machine again.

    Do a Yahoo search for “cloud based fax services” to find the plethora of

    Read More »from Leveraging the Cloud to Boost Your Bottom Line
  • A Texas Startup Exports Consumer Electronics to China

    Oransi air purifiers in a shipping container in China

    There are two remarkable facts about a consumer electronics product designed and manufactured by a 16-person startup called Oransi: it's American made, and it's selling like hotcakes in China. Oransi CEO Peter Mann expects to do $10 million in sales of his high-end air purifiers this year. Half of that revenue will come from filling up empty shipping containers going out of New York harbor. Oransi's Chinese distributors are trying to keep up with demand from homeowners there who are desperate to combat severe air pollution. Mann says the first 500 units he shipped to China sold out in 3 days.

    Mann, 47, is a former Naval officer who held executive positions at Tech Data and Dell before starting, and selling, his own high-end appliance e-commerce company in Austin, Texas, and then investing $200,000 in 2010 to make a business of building hospital-grade residential air filtration systems. He conceived the idea when his infant son was battling life-threatening asthma and every system he

    Read More »from A Texas Startup Exports Consumer Electronics to China
  • There’s a (Big Data) Science to Keeping Your Customers

    Retention Science Uses Data to Keep E-Commerce Customers ComingIt costs significantly more to win new customers than it does to retain the ones you have, and it’s easier to get existing customers to spend more money than it is to sell to those who don’t know your brand. So why do so many businesses work harder on getting new customers than they do on retaining the ones they already have?

    E-commerce entrepreneur-turned-marketing pro Jerry Jao confesses he was guilty of the same. “I was constantly getting new customers, but I didn’t have any plan for retaining them. I spent a lot of time and 100 percent of my marketing budget on acquiring new customers through new channels,” Jao says.

    He cites Advertising Age data that indicates that repeat customers spend 33 percent more on brands than new customers do, and that 80 percent of a brand’s future profits will come from 20 percent of its existing customers. “Small businesses start off with a smaller customer base and are always thinking about how to grow, but they forget they have a gold mine to dig

    Read More »from There’s a (Big Data) Science to Keeping Your Customers


(447 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

Got a tip? Let us know!

Profit Minded Authors

Owen Linderholm

Editor for Yahoo! Small Business

Follow Owen Linderholm on Twitter Follow on Facebook Add to Google+



How to subscribe

Roll over each section to subscribe using Add to My Yahoo or RSS Feed feeds.

Yahoo News offers dozens of RSS feeds you can read in My Yahoo or using third-party RSS news reader software. Click here to find out more about RSS and how you can use it with Yahoo News.

Friend's Activity