Should You Ever Do Business With a Good Friend?

Many people warn against hiring or partnering with friends, but it’s not always a bad thing. You just have to know what you’re getting yourself into, writes OPEN Forum contributor Dorie Clark:

…You may assume you know all about your friend based on your experiences with them. But it’s likely you’ve only seen a slice—probably the most fun side—of their personality. They may be entirely different under high-pressure situations… 

Be on the lookout for warning signs: If you’ve seen them discuss clients or employees in a problematic way (such as a pattern of blaming other people, or making choices you disagree with), be wary.

Read on for five more tips on whether or not you should work with your friends.

In this week’s Top Two Tips, Larry Cheng, managing partner at Volition Capital, and The Story Exchange’s Director of Digital Media Colleen DeBaise, join us. They share what magic number you should remember when you tweet and why not all customers are created equal.

This Is How You Can Become More Productive

A new survey shows that the top 10 percent of productive employees worked an average 52 minutes before taking a 17-minute break.
Read more on OPEN Forum.

Being on the road doesn’t always guarantee you a break from the office. The work is never done for many small business owners. Here are five ways to stay focused and be productive during any trip from Under30CEO.com.

10 Powerful Business Lessons from Alexa von Tobel of LearnVest

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Alexa von Tobel took a huge gamble when she took a leave of absence from business school and invested all of her money into LearnVest, a site that provides financial management tools and advice, at the start of the recession. But it was a chance that paid off: LearnVest has since raised $72 million in funding.

So what were some of the lessons she’s learned in the five years since her company has launched?

1. Consider Whether It’s the Right Time to Take the Plunge

Starting a company requires time, money and expertise. Do you know enough about the field you’re interested in? Is there a course you should take or a skill you might need to learn first to ensure that your business is a success?

2. Be Willing to Put Your Own Money on the Line

Investing your own money will make you even more focused. In December 2008, when people were hiding cash under their mattresses, I took a leap and invested most of what I had saved since college into starting LearnVest.

Of course, it’s important to first save up an emergency fund for at least nine months so that you’ll have your basic expenses under control should you get off to a rocky start. But putting your money on the line makes starting your own business personal.

Read on for von Tobel’s eight other pieces of great business insight on OPEN Forum.

Flickr user: Courtney Boyd Myers

5 Ways to Avoid Wasting Other People’s Time

As a small-business owner, you and everyone you work with are busier than ever. Here’s how to stop wasting other people’s time, so you can build solid relationships.

1. Don’t misrepresent why you’re meeting. 

2. Don’t “just drop by.”

3. Don’t create endless communication loops.

4. Don’t skimp on preparation.

5. Don’t create false deadlines.

Read more on OPEN Forum.

Predictions are already in for the 2014 holiday season, and retailers may have something to be jolly about this year.

AlixPartners, a consulting firm, predicts that 2014 holiday retail sales will rise 4.1-4.9 percent, according to ABC News. E-commerce platform Volusion predicts that small and mid-sized businesses could see their online holiday sales rise 9 percent year-over-year in 2014.

Read on for more holiday shopping season news on OPEN Forum.

Predictions are already in for the 2014 holiday season, and retailers may have something to be jolly about this year.

AlixPartners, a consulting firm, predicts that 2014 holiday retail sales will rise 4.1-4.9 percent, according to ABC News. E-commerce platform Volusion predicts that small and mid-sized businesses could see their online holiday sales rise 9 percent year-over-year in 2014.

Read on for more holiday shopping season news on OPEN Forum.

How do startups that go through accelerator programs scale so quickly? One reason is because they collaborate with and get advice from peers outside of their industries.

“Every Tuesday we come in here and go over everyone’s fundraising deck,” says Maisie Devine of Poacht, a candidate-minded recruitment platform. “Everyone gets feedback on what they’re seeing and what’s confusing. When I think about my deck before I came into this program and where it is now, you wouldn’t even believe it came from the same person.”

Read on for two more reasons why accelerated startups see results faster.

Women business owners at the OPEN for Women: CEO BootCamp event share the best business advice that they have received. These tips—from “take risks” to “be authentic”—are sure to help you in your business.

This Is Why All TED Talks Are 18 Minutes

"[That’s] long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention," TED curator Chris Anderson said in an interview with Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. “By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”

Read on to learn ways to make your presentations more engaging on OPEN Forum.

Flickr user: TEDx Somerville