Zenefits Scandal Highlights the Perils of Rapid Growth

18state-illo1-master675Stuart Goldenberg

Zenefits can serve as a cautionary tale of a startup that grows too quickly and results in as much of a tremendous failure as growing too slowly. Zenefits is a health-insurance brokerage firm and offers small businesses HR benefits without the middleman. The HR software was highly favored and brought high expectations for serious growth. These promises led investors to pour $500 million dollars last year at a $4 billion valuation, one of the largest recent financing rounds.

Unfortunately, just last week, Zenefits announced that Parker Conrad, its co-founder and chief executive had resigned and that the company had become irrespon
sible in its culture and ethics.  In return for the massive fundraising valution, Zenefits over promised and undelivered. Mr. Conrad had promised the moon, but instead he was unable to grow a tiny start up to unattainable goals and the company spiraled out of control.

Zenefits began hiring people who had little experience in the software sales in highly regulated industry that led to a growth from 15 to 1,600 employees in just one year.  With all the speed bumps and things that can get in the way of such incredible rapid growth, Zenefits inevitably fell short of its revenue goals. Changes in management, and changes in their business ethics only made things worse.

What can we learn from this? Growth is important for any business but it should not be a race. As a small business owner for many years, I know short cuts are not worth it in the long run. Rapid growth is not for everyone, and certainly not for the faint of heart. And most of all, integrity counts, especially if you want to be in business for the long run.

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Digital Buyers Will Make Purchases on the Smartphone Within Two Years


Google has stated that there are more searches now on mobile devices than on desktop in over 10 countries. Next year, more than half of digital buyers will use a smartphone to complete a purchase. Shoppers are moving from browsing and searching to making online buys.

Although eMarketer forecasts that 95.1 million Americans ages 14 and older, or 51.2% of digital buyers will make at least one purchase via a smartphone, challenges still remain. More shopping sessions are initiated than are completed on the mobile device. To get consumers to make purchases, retailers need to update their website and make it mobile friendly.

What can we learn from this? As a small business owner for many years, I know the importance of adapting to new technology advances. In order to increase sales and prepare for the changing trend, I suggest that businesses make their website fully optimized for a mobile platform which should include simple steps to checking out.


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Adam Grant Reveals His Workplace Secrets

Recently, I read a New York Times interview with Adam Grant where he explains the basis of his argument behind his new book, “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.” He speaks on his secrets to a more creative workplace. Before becoming the youngest professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, he was a magician. Now his magic involves bringing organizational change, motivation at work and groupthink to the forefront of the conversation.

His argument includes the belief that everyone has original ideas, but most of us do not act on these ideas. Creativity can be defined as generating ideas that are useful but being an original means going beyond dreaming of it and making it into a reality.

What can we learn from this? Originality can start out as tiny everyday acts that allow you to think creative to improve the workplace. His secret is that the shortcut to creativity is diversifying your experience and trying something new.

Through my experience as a small business owner, I can offer you this advice; as you increase motivation at work, adopt Adam Grant’s perspective and embrace originality. Diversity breeds creativity and keeps the workplace from being stagnant. Trust your instinct and the next time you have an idea, act on it.

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How Bill Gates Monitored Workplace Productivity

I recently read an interesting article in the Washington Post about Bill Gates from his early years growing Microsoft to becoming the man invested in many philanthropic efforts with a net worth of $56 billion. During his rise to tech superstardom, Bill Gates was known for pulling all nighters and crashing at the office because of his dislike for downtime. He worked weekends and knew every employee’s license plate to monitor when they would arrive to work. Former colleagues recall his intense passion and describe the early days of the company as a high stress environment. At the same time, Gates respected people who stood their ground and pushed back. Gates understood the talented team he had and how vital they were to Microsoft. As the team grew bigger, he adjusted his management style to create a less hostile and more thriving environment.

What can we learn from this? As a business owner with experience at many start-ups I can relate to being fiercely driven to produce great work. Yet, there has to be a healthy balance to keep employees happy to help you build your business. Having a great team that is collaborative lets you achieve your goals quicker.

As you start your business or are looking to grow your company, think about Bill Gates. You may be wise to adopt some of his common sense methods for increasing productivity while also adopting a more subtle and inspirational approach.

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How much are you worth to Facebook?


I recently read an interesting article in The Washington Post about how much money you – yes, you – are worth to Facebook. In the United States in 2016, the average Facebook user is worth $13.54.

You read that right – Facebook is making $13.54 off each and every one of us who uses their social network. The value per user is based off of impressions on mobile and video ads and content.

Of course, if you use Facebook to market your business through organic content and ads, you are probably worth a bit more, as you are spending advertising dollars with them. Other interesting takeaways from the article were that Facebook’s active user base was up 14% over 2014, to 1.59 billion total monthly active users. There was also a 52% increase in revenue from the same period in 2014. Facebook had truly stellar performance in the past year.

The next time you log on to Facebook, think about how you are contributing to the bottom-line of one of the hottest-performing technology companies.

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