Spanx Founder Sara Blakely’s Guide to Surviving Anything

July 7, 2020 9 min read This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Maybe your article should be titled “What to Do When Your Panties Are on Fire. ha ha”   That’s what Spanx founder Sara Blakely emailed me after we talked. It was March. The pandemic had just begun. Blakely is famous for a few things: She’s a rare female billionaire, the defining personality in the estimated $1.8 billion global shapewear category, and just about every photo of her features a showstopping smile bright enough to reach the nosebleed section. But she has fallen on that happy face more than once.  “I believe a lot of really important, incredible innovation comes out of dark times,” she tells me. Spanx turns 20 this year, surviving September 11, the 2008 recession, and personal tragedy — and she expects no different now, despite closing her stores, watching […]

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7 Ways to Build a Stronger Business During a Crisis

July 7, 2020 6 min read This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Nikki Howard and Jaqi Wright, founders, The Furlough Cheesecake  Lesson: Stand out when others aren’t. In 2018, Nikki Howard worked in recruitment at the FDA and Jaqi Wright (right) was an analyst at the Department of Justice. But in December, the sisters were both furloughed in what turned out to be the longest government shutdown in history. By New Year’s, they were worried about feeding their families. To cheer everyone up, Howard baked one of her sweet potato cheesecakes for church. “It was our mother who sat down with a pot of coffee and told us, ‘You should sell those,’” Wright recalls. The sisters jumped on it. They registered their company, The Furlough Cheesecake, threw up a website, and went out to friends and family on social media. Their first 24 hours in business, […]

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How 5 Entrepreneurs Pivoted To Thrive During the Pandemic

July 7, 2020 7 min read This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Christina Stembel, founder, Farmgirl Flowers Old idea: Carefully curated products New idea: More options at lower cost When the pandemic forced Christina Stembel to change her business, she was horrified. Then she was relieved. And now she has a stronger business as a result. Stembel is the founder of Farmgirl Flowers, a San Francisco–based floral arrangements company. She started it in 2010, when she saw a way to stand out in a crowded market. The internet is full of floral companies, but most of them outsource fulfillment, surrendering control of the quality and design of their bouquets as a way to boost margins. Stembel did the opposite. Her arrangements had a point of view, she offered a small variety of them, and everything would be created in-house —­ ensuring high quality. Flower lovers […]

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3 Ways to Build a Sustainable Business Post-COVID, According to Jon Taffer

Creating a strong operation for the future will require thinking ahead – and acting now. July 7, 2020 4 min read This story appears in the July 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » When there’s a problem, entrepreneurs fix it. But it’s not enough to just solve today’s problems anymore. That’s reactive and short-sighted. We have a massive opportunity to thrive after this pandemic, but it’ll only happen if we spend today solving tomorrow’s problems. Look out into the future, and create the solutions that will resonate in the months and years to come.  You don’t need to be a fortune-teller to do this. I’ll give you an example. Related: What You Can Learn From the Rise of Sustainability-Focused Entrepreneurship Let’s say a guy named Joe has a favorite burger place. They make a great burger, and he can’t wait to eat there again. But when his local lockdown is finally […]

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Now Is the Time for Hustlers

Your ability to help your company solve its toughest issues and bridge gaps is your greatest asset. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! July 6, 2020 3 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Getting or staying employed in 2020 has less to do with following your job description to a tee and more to do with finding and solving the hairiest problems that exist in your sphere of influence. All of us are now required to do more with less. That’s why it’s so important to think about how you add value to your employer. Any employee who can solve problems in the gap between what a company is today versus what they hope to become will find safety as well as leverage for future pay and promotions. Here are the key questions to help you find the gaps and […]

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The Navigation of a Crisis for a Small Business

July 1, 2020 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Covid-19 has wiped out dreams, created a psychological nightmare, and torn a country apart, with individuals questioning what is the right, or wrong, thing to do. The result? Nobody has been untouched. But, like any crisis, there are lessons to be learned. In the business world we had to rethink employee communications, crisis strategies, technology capabilities, messaging, external communications, new business strategies and business operations – all practically overnight. We had to have all-hands-on-deck and we had to take an honest look at what was in place, what was missing, and what we had, but was no longer relevant. We had to take a solid look at what happened and where we landed to fully understand how we could successfully ride the storm and move forward, with the least amount of destruction. But there can’t be […]

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How to Future-Proof Your Business and Prepare for the New ‘Normal’

Learn how to anticipate expectations going forward and understand the tools and resources needed to reimagine operations. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! June 29, 2020 2 min read As businesses have reopened, navigating “business as usual” while maintaining rigorous, science-based safety standards is essential. Make the wrong moves, however, and you could jeopardize your customers, employees, and even your brand. Join us for a free webinar, How to Future-Proof Your Business and Prepare for the New ‘Normal’, presented by Salesforce and Entrepreneur. We’ll cover the areas businesses need to think about as they reimagine operations—everything from how to communicate and deepen relationships with customers to planning for customer safety to ensuring supply chain success and more. We’ll help small and midsize businesses anticipate expectations going forward and understand the tools and resources they’ll need to future-proof their business.  The speakers will […]

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How the Behavior of Job-Seekers Has Changed Since February (Infographic)

Jobvite’s annual Job Seeker Nation Report found sharp changes in survey responses between February and April. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! June 29, 2020 1 min read Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a few short months ago the stock market was riding high and unemployment was a mere 3.5 percent. Now, three months into social distancing and lockdowns, Americans’ job prospects have taken a dramatic turn.  Recruiting software company Jobvite puts out an annual report on the behaviors, views and preferences of the modern workforce, and its 11th edition of that report comes amid a global health crisis that’s causing soaring unemployment rates and job insecurity.  Related: 10 Job Search Tips to Help You Find Your Best Opportunity Every Time In this year’s report, Jobvite looked at data from two surveys — one done in February and a second in April […]

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What’s Your Pandemic Pivot? 4 Key Steps for Startups to Survive Catastrophe.

June 18, 2020 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Back in 2008, I was happily running a thriving ad-tech business — until the day the economy tanked. I woke up that morning to find my inbox overflowing with about 50% of my customers writing to cancel their services. Pretty soon, I was having to lay off dozens of smart, hard-working employees and move our office, along with a handful of survivors, into a barn. I had to give up my family home, too, and move with my wife into a moldy studio apartment. Unable to pay my remaining employees and also myself, I spent my weekends refinishing furniture and selling it at yard sales to make ends meet.  Related: Hurricanes Irma & Harvey: Leading Your Business In the Aftermath Of Disaster Unfortunately, many startups are now staring down the barrel of a crisis that threatens to dwarf […]

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Amazon Develops Social Distancing Tech Using Augmented Reality

Workers in Amazon’s warehouses get real-time visual feedback showing if they are keeping a safe distance from their colleagues. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! June 16, 2020 2 min read This story originally appeared on PC Mag It’s hard to know exactly how close you can get to someone without breaking the social distance rules, but Amazon has made it easy for warehouse workers by using red and green circles. Posting on the Amazon Day One blog, Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer in Amazon’s Robotics department, introduces a newly-developed system called “Distance Assistance.” It’s technology aimed at helping Amazon’s employees to remain socially distant from each other at all times, and it was made possible through a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality. In practice, Distance Assistance consists of a 50-inch monitor, a camera, and a computer combined […]

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How Leaders Can Help Prevent Emotional Exhaustion at Work

June 13, 2020 9 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Our natural response to fear — our fight-or-flight response — is widely understood. On perceiving a threat, the hypothalamus in our brains sends the message to our adrenal and pituitary glands to release hormones that prepare the body for action. When the perceived threat is gone, the brain stops triggering the release of these hormones, and homeostasis begins, with our bodies gradually returning to their normal states. Easy-peasy. Things start to break down, however, when our brains start continuously getting signals that there is a threat. When that happens, the natural fear response basically short-circuits, with the body stuck in a continuous cycle of releasing hormones then trying to normalize. This creates chronic stress, which drains the body’s adaptive energy and leads to emotional exhaustion. Hans Selye, often referred to as the “father of stress research,” named it […]

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A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Thriving in Close Quarters, Part 6: Exercise

June 11, 2020 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The sixth and final action to the R.E.M.O.T.E. lessons learned while leading SEALs in submarines is Exercise. As simple as it might sound, exercise is the most important action you can take when faced with mountains of uncertainty and isolation. All of the actions I have shared with you over the past few weeks have been about focusing on the few things we can control. In fact, that’s what SEAL training is all about: mastering what I call our “controllables.” In Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, one of the first tenents we are taught is understanding our weapon’s platform, which is simply our mental, emotional and physical capabilities. I call this our action platform in my most recent book: UNSTOPPABLE TEAMS: The 4 Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership. How we think, what we believe and our subsequent ability to take […]

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How to Save on Your Business Insurance During a Crisis

June 9, 2020 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The continued spread of COVID-19 has challenged businesses and individuals everywhere by radically reshaping our economy overnight. Amidst all of this sudden change and unexpected chaos, many companies are finding it effectively impossible to keep the lights on and are searching for new, innovative ways to cut down on the costs of doing business. Increasingly, saving money on business insurance is being viewed as the cost-cutting method to rely upon during a crisis. By carefully shopping around, investing in package policies and investing ahead of time, you can save on business insurance during times of crisis. Do your homework before you buy  The most important thing that any business owner should understand when it comes to saving on business insurance during a crisis is that the purchasing decision can’t be rushed. By doing your homework and carefully […]

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A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Thriving in Close Quarters, Part 5: Take Breaks

Stress is real, and it can creep up on you if you don’t take a few simple steps to control it.  June 5, 2020 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The fifth action in our R.E.M.O.T.E. strategy for thriving in close quarters is as crucial as the previous four: Take Breaks. Whether you are leading special operations teams or startup squads, leaders must be on point to prevent burnout. We all need downtime, and it can be particularly difficult to get a respite when we are living in the cramped quarters of a submarine (as I have done many times) or an apartment. Maybe you aren’t living in cramped spaces but still feel stressed because you are operating in a blended work environment that now includes pets, kids and a spouse. I get it. I have four boys, two Labradors and five fish, and my “work from home” office is 10 […]

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Prepare for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

What you can do to protect your business, your employees and yourself during times of unrest. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! June 1, 2020 4 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The civic unrest spreading across the U.S. and other countries offers yet another challenge for entrepreneurs. From the managers of big-box chains to the corner mom-and-pop liquor store, it turns out that our business troubles have not ended with the post-quarantine reopenings. What strategies can a business take right now, today, that will help ensure that their businesses survive and come back to thrive when this unwieldy time comes to an end? 1. Protect your assets During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the social unrest spilled out into my placid suburb 18 miles from the downtown area. Looters tore apart local stores and burned many. Later, the business owners I knew […]

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Follow These 6 Steps to Bulletproof Your Digital Business Strategy

May 29, 2020 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. The current crisis has forced us to live in a world where we can’t go outside. Although this change is temporary, imagine if it weren’t — how would businesses survive? What technology could possibly be used to cater to such a world across industries? As restaurants have proved during the stay-at-home orders, just about any business can be brought online. In fact, I believe that by 2030 we could see entire businesses sustained through just mobile orders, whether they’re retail, food service or something else. It all depends on how smart the technology medium connecting businesses and consumers is.  Related: Why You Should Bet On the Future of Ecommerce A bonus of all this? By targeting both traditional in-person channels and online sales, businesses that successfully adapt during and after the crisis can potentially double their sales, all while serving their customers better. […]

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A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Thriving in Close Quarters, Part 4: Opportunity

The fourth action in my R.E.M.O.T.E. acronym speaks to the experience of starting and leading companies, especially when you are confronted with uncertainty. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! May 29, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Remember this: Every uncertainty comes with an equal amount of opportunity. The challenge is shifting our focus from the fear of uncertainty to the realm of opportunity. That can be even more difficult when we feel overwhelmed while reacting to the challenges that uncertainty creates. I get it. I have experienced this firsthand leading SEALs and starting companies. When dealing with uncertainty, the trick is to develop a structure that brings some certainty back into focus. Routine, Engage and Manage are the first three actions of R.E.M.O.T.E. and they help you and your teammates create that structure of certainty. And […]

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5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for the Post-Coronavirus Business World

May 24, 2020 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Social distancing. Telemedicine. Self-quarantine. These are all words that at the start of 2020 weren’t part of our vocabulary, but several months into the new decade we are all hearing and using them daily. There is no denying that the coronavirus outbreak has dramatically changed just about every facet of just about every person’s life around the world. From a business perspective, the stock market saw its largest one day loss and largest one day gain in history. The U.S. saw the largest job-loss report ever. We are in uncharted waters, and how long we will remain in them remains uncertain. However, there is one thing that we all know, and that is that this outbreak will change the lives of everyone for years or decades to come. Nearly 20 years after 9/11, enhanced airport security, no-fly […]

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If Coronavirus Is a War, Let’s Do What the Military Does to Get Through It

May 24, 2020 9 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. I’ve had the privilege of serving in the military and experiencing life as a startup entrepreneur. As a leader in both worlds, I’ve learned that sound organizational decision-making is key to survival. I’ve also learned over time through my formal business education and work experience in corporate America that group decision-making skills are not stressed as much in the business world as they are in the military. Today’s coronavirus crisis is commonly referred to as a war. It may be valuable, then, to visit how military units make decisions in a real war. Related: Why Veterans Take the Initiative to Explore Entrepreneurship One hour to prepare I was serving as a Company Executive Officer (XO, second in command) in the world’s only air-droppable tank battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on Thursday, […]

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How to Prepare for Evolving Consumer Demand

May 23, 2020 7 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, I only saw one option for our company: we weren’t going to take it on the chin and resign ourselves to pushing pause for the year. We swiftly and unequivocally chose to make the best of the situation, working proactively to mitigate the negative impact on our business.  To forge ahead as a leader in the time of crisis, it’s necessary to develop a perspective early on. A framework, or a way for everyone to wrap their heads around what is happening now, and what we anticipate in the next one month, three months, six months. It is easier said than done to “make the best of it” during a period during which you are certain your bottom line is going to suffer. As challenging as it can be […]

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