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Here's how the Best Places to Work have led in 2020



The world’s great companies have led the way in an unprecedented year. The new report captures the inspiring stories of Cisco, DHL Express and Hilton, top of the Great Place To Work list.

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October 16, 2020 4 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

  • Here’s how companies like Cisco, which tops the 2020 Best Places to Work list, transportation and logistics provider DHL Express, second, and hotel brand Hilton, which ranked third, are leading the way in a year like no other, according to Great Place To Work.

Undoubtedly, 2020 has become a year of many challenges, the arrival of COVID-19 , caused the closure of businesses and with it the cessation of some economic activities with the aim of “flattening the curve”, a fact that caused a recession similar to the Great Depression of the 1920s.

But the year 2020 is also a story of the deeply human response to Fortune magazine’s Best Places to Work . In a banner year, these organizations found the opportunity to be even better by being creative in caring for employees, deepening their commitment to their communities, and staying connected in new ways.

That’s how companies like Cisco, who heads the list of Best Places to Work 2020, the provider of transportation and logistics DHL Express, second, and hotel brand Hilton, who took third place ranking is led the way in a year like no other, according to Great Place To Work.

  • The value of connecting . As millions of workers around the world required remote communication, the demand for Cisco’s collaborative technology tripled. Collaborators had to work hard to provide those critical connections for teams. For their part, Cisco leaders dared to trust customers by opening new lines of credit. The boldness continued as Cisco worked, the racial issues raging in America were actively addressed, effectively creating spaces for important conversations and support for the people.
  • A commitment to the community . When the pandemic started and trade came to a virtual halt, DHL Express continued to deliver on its promises to employees, customers, and society at large. It sought to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being of its people and focused on the health crisis as a reason to redouble its mission to improve lives. Thus, the most global organization in the world deepened its commitment to the community.

  • Creativity in care . The hotel industry was devastated by COVID-19. But even when it was necessary to unlink employees, Hilton leaders came up with new ways to support them into other positions. The administration, using creativity, provided rooms to house medical professionals who were on the front lines of the pandemic. During the crisis, Hilton has innovated to live up to its mission of being the most hospitable company in the world.

This year has been a box of surprises for everyone, the example of great organizations can inspire us to seek creative ways to continue coping with the economic and health crisis.


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The 10 Biggest Mistakes My App Development Company Made in Our First 10 Years in Business



October 20, 2020 11 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ten years ago, on October 14, 2010, right before I graduated college, I went to Boston City Hall, paid a filing fee and registered my company, Yeti, LLC

I soon brought on my business partner, Rudy Mutta, and now, 10 years later, we’re still in business and, despite Covid throwing us some major curveballs, growing.

We are a bootstrapped service business, so compared to some of our peers in our hometown of San Francisco, we can really only claim modest success, having never IPO’d or become a billion-dollar unicorn. 

Looking back on our decade running this business, we’ve had the highs of being in a Netflix documentary, building high profile apps with top-tier clients and making it into the Fortune 5000. But, what you don’t hear a lot about from entrepreneurs is the mistakes they’ve made.

As we look back over the past decade, those mistakes are the moments when we learned the most. So, instead of touting 10 years of triumphs, I thought I would share 10 of my biggest mistakes and the lessons that came out of them. Knowing very little about running a company 10 years ago, I could have saved myself a lot of time, money and energy knowing these things.

1. The taxman cometh

In our first year of business, we thought it would be wise to show just how profitable we were. We even made sure we cashed a massive check from a client at the end of December to close out the year with even more earnings. 

We didn’t realize that no one really cares about your profits at this stage, but the taxman cares that you pay what is due. 

Not having kept track of our expenses properly, not paying monthly or quarterly taxes and not saving adequately left us almost completely decimated after our first year. 

In hindsight, it would have been hugely beneficial to understand some of the basics of business tax going into this venture.

2. The world is not flat

When we started our company, we got really excited about the idea of keeping our organization completely flat, where everybody had the initiative and self-organized to hit company goals. This works when your company is six people, but as it grows, it becomes impossible.

Reflecting back, I think it was because I was scared of doing the work necessary to be a leader. I had one business coach eventually tell me, “It sounds like you are trying to operate a pirate ship.” That might sound fun, but in actuality, pirate crews don’t perform very well.

Leadership is an artform that is important to study and practice — you can often give people more freedom and job satisfaction by providing them with a structure to do their best work.

3. Establish core values

As our business grew, so did our team. However, we kept hiring and losing employees, which, as it turns out, is quite costly. In fact, a conservative estimate puts the cost of replacing an individual employee at one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary.  

What was frustrating is that there wasn’t always a tangible reason some people didn’t work out. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it. After consulting with many other business owners, I learned that having established core values would help us make sure we were aligned with employees during the interview process before bringing them on board.

We made it a priority to have constant communication with the team about our core values and have since used them to promote and retain employees. It is important to have everybody understand and align around these. It makes for more harmony in the business.

Related: 9 Common Mistakes Made by New Entrepreneurs

4. Enjoy the moment

Running any business is going to come with its headaches. I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who has had an entirely stress-free go of it. Whatever the struggles, be it struggling for cash or dealing with personnel issues, it’s important to appreciate the moment and time and space your company is in. 

For a while, we tried to be a company that we really weren’t and it took a toll. We were trying to be who people thought a software development firm in San Francisco should be. It resulted in a lot of wasted time and money and left us frustrated and dissatisfied, chasing something we were not. 

5. There are no silver bullets

When you are growing a business, it’s really easy to think, “I just need to make this one silver bullet hire or execute on this one tactic. After I do that, we will get to the next level.”

It never works out.

The honest truth, which it’s taken me many attempts to learn, is that no one person or thing is going to come in and solve all the problems at your company or just immediately take you to the next level. It’s all an iterative process, and you need to find the people that want to go through that process with you. Make very clear to everyone on your team that you all are in the business of working on the business. 

Even if someone you are thinking of hiring has been amazing at another company and has done awesome things, it’s not the same company as yours and it will take work to make your company that way. One person alone, new to your company, isn’t going to do it.

What’s most important with any new strategic initiative like hiring is to take your time, know your core values and share honestly with your team where you are and the work it’s going to take to level up. Get people aligned so they know the path you are on — running a business is more about creating and navigating a roadmap than going out searching for silver bullets.

6. Design your culture to have a cadence

Company culture doesn’t mean “cool” swag, being BFFs with your co-workers, or in-office happy hours every Friday. Those are superficial. 

I started this business right out of college, so you can imagine that, at first, this is exactly what I thought company culture was. We rented a fun office with a roof deck, had bands come and play, threw parties. It was a lot of fun, but the business didn’t really gain much … and I lost a lot of Saturdays cleaning up beer bottles.

The company would have benefited from more meaningful team bonding, and I’m pretty sure we lost some clients when they saw our office looking more like a hacker house than a place where professionals worked.

As I’ve grown into becoming a “real”” business owner, I have realized culture is how your team all comes together, holds each other accountable, supports one another, gets the work done and celebrates victories together. We now have more structured team days and meetings focused on themes with actionable takeaways that our team finds more impactful.

Build the systems, make space and have a cadence for how these things are done.

Related: 8 Huge Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs Don’t Realize They’re Making

7. Marketing should be authentic

Any entrepreneur who’s been in the business long enough can give you a laundry list of marketing tactics they’ve tried. 

It’s hard not to fall for some of the “get rich quick” schemes out there, ourselves included. (We’ve literally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars learning this lesson, folks, so if you don’t take any of the other advice, at least listen to this tip.)

But what we have found is that when it comes to sales and marketing, if it seems too easy too good to be true, it absolutely is. This sort of thing works in the movies and people love to brag about how they gamed the system but in actuality, nothing replaces doing the hard work.

We have found that to resonate most with leads and potential customers, we need to be authentic and true to who we are as a company. The more authentic you can make your outreach and communication, the more you’ll resonate with people — maybe not everyone, but the people who are right for your business.

8. Focus on building relationships

As a young company, we didn’t realize the power of relationships in our business, but as we’ve grown up, we are continually reminded of how important they are.

When we started out we were very focused on getting a job done and then moving on to the next one. We were very focused on the here and now. We weren’t looking at the bigger picture of three, five, 10 years and beyond. 

No matter how much “lead gen marketing” we’ve done, the primary driver of our business has been referrals. They may not be referrals we get right after we finish a project with someone, but putting effort into maintaining and strengthening our relationships has absolutely paid off over the years. (Plus, people on my team and I have made some lifelong friends along the way!)

I wish I had spent more of my time focused on that in our early years. There are really simple things you can do to stay in touch, check in with people and develop relationships. For a service business especially, this is some of the best marketing you can do. 

9. Know when to say “no”

This one was a real struggle for us at first. We took on bad clients because we hadn’t identified how we bring value to the table. They had the money to pay us so, why not? 

It has always resulted in more pain down the road. 

Every. Single. Time.

For us, bad clients usually come in the form of independently wealthy individuals that have no business building apps but have stumbled upon a significant amount of money and have dreams of being the next Mark Zuckerberg.

At the end of the day, these people didn’t want to do the work to build the business or take the time to understand some of the complexities involved in building a product from scratch. We now have the experience to be able to identify specifically where we bring value to our client relationships and where we won’t be a good fit. 

Since building relationships is important to us, we now have tools that make it very clear when there are red flags during sales conversations so we can be honest and tell people when it’s not appropriate to hire us. This saves everybody time and money, even if it seems wrong to pass up a potentially lucrative opportunity.

10. Don’t let your gas tank run out

You probably would not believe how we managed our finances when we began (or maybe after reading this article, you would). We would periodically sketch out on a whiteboard all our receivables and payables and get a rough idea of when “D-Day” was. We used this to motivate ourselves to get new projects and complete work. 

As you can imagine, this was not super effective nor sustainable and scalable. As our business grew and got more sophisticated we nearly ran out of cash, this is very common as you grow and your expenses go up but you are waiting on payments. It’s scary as hell when you have 15 or more people who are depending on you for their jobs. I never had more sleepless nights.

We ended up with a 12-week cash flow forecasting tool which has been a vital tool to our success as a business. It means we know if and when we’ll ever run out of gas.

Using financial tools like this to help you properly plan for the future is essential to the longevity of your business and enables you to effectively communicate with your team why you are making certain decisions. Also, when in doubt, turn to the experts. Don’t be afraid to hire a consultant to help if finances aren’t your area of expertise. 

A good financial reporting structure and a basic understanding of your P+L and Balance Sheet will ensure you catch issues before they kill your company. Use accounting to hold yourself accountable!

It’s well said that you learn more from your mistakes than you do your successes, and I honestly believe that to be true. I like to think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve spent learning these lessons as my unofficial business school tuition.

If we hadn’t made the mistakes we did, we wouldn’t have been able to so effectively right ourselves. With the recent turmoil of the Covid pandemic, we are leaning on these experiences more than ever to navigate our way through it and come out stronger.

You’ll no doubt make your own mistakes, it’s how you’ll ultimately succeed. I hope these 10 mistakes can help you avoid some troubles but more so inspire you to overcome and learn from whatever challenges you face on your entrepreneurial journey.

As Richard Branson says “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”


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We Don’t Pay You to Think!



How those six words changed my approach to management forever.

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October 20, 2020 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Recently, my assistant Dana made a couple suggestions to me. Afterwards, she asked if I minded her giving these suggestions. I immediately said that not only did I not mind her ideas, I actually wanted her to share them with me. I then told her the following story about an experience I had many years ago. 

When I was 21 years old, I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in . I had scholarships to help, but I still needed to work a to pay for my living expenses. I found a good-paying position working for a large chain stocking shelves from midnight until 7 a.m. four days a week. Ugh. That was brutal. The night crew had some serious quotas for boxes that had to go up on the shelves each and every night. While it might not sound very hard, the is that it was back-breaking work and one of the most physical jobs I ever had. On some days, I would work all night, go home to get a shower and then go straight to classes at 9 a.m.  

Even then, I believed that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get to do what you want to do. Early on, I knew one thing for certain, and that was that I did not want to work at a grocery store stocking shelves (at any hour of the day) for a career. I came to that realization because of one conversation that I had soon after I started my

One morning as I was coming off a break, I suggested to the assistant manager that I help move the many pallets of boxes that had to be taken by dolly to every aisle in the store. It was a small suggestion, but I thought it might help. That’s when the assistant manager gave me a “life lesson” that I would take with me for the rest of my career. He said,“Ivan, we don’t pay you to think! We pay you to get lots of boxes on lots of shelves every single night. Now get back to work.”  

Related: 6 Tips on How to Be a Leader 

I remember so vividly standing there and thinking, “Someday, I’m going to own my own business, and I promise that I will never, ever, say that to anyone who ever works for me. Ever.” In fact, I decided I would tell them the opposite: “I pay you to think!” And that’s because I want ideas. I want input. I want engagement. 

I kept track of that assistant manager for about 10 years after I left the company. At that point, he had been promoted to “Main Shift Assistant Manager,” and I was well on my way to building a global enterprise that now has operations in more tha 70 countries. And while I have no where he is today, if I ever met him again, I would tell him that I appreciated his admonishment, because it cemented my beliefs about accepting input from others.

Not all will be gems, but listening shows you care about them and their ideas. It also encourages engagement and possibly even a certain amount of when an employee feels that their input matters. I may not have applied this perfectly over the years, but it is something that I have truly strived for.

Related: 4 Crisis-Proofing Lessons for Owners

I believe that “paying people to think” is exactly what entrepreneurs and managers should always be willing to do. Sometimes we get our life lessons from people who give us great advice, and sometimes we get our life lessons from people who give us horrible advice. By applying a little discernment, they can both be a gift.  His certainly was for me. And I did my best to never, ever follow it. 


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Fighting Zoom Fatigue? These Cards Can Help



The co-founder of DigiCards shares how business owners can increase engagement with teams that are working remotely.

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October 20, 2020 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Courtney Spritzer is the co-founder of , a and marketing agency, and co-host of the podcast Entreprenista with her partner Stephanie Cartin. She spoke with Jessica Abo about how her company adjusted to remote work and the genesis of DigiCards, sets of cue cards for virtual meetings.

When Covid hit, Spritzer and Cartin had to make changes to how they ran their business. 

“We had a lot of learnings and some things that we had to implement right away,” Spritzer says. “We wanted to make sure that we were still having face-to- with all of our employees and our employees were getting that face-to-face time with each other.” 

Months into working remotely, Spritzer and her team found themselves on about ten video meetings a day. She says laying down ground rules from the beginning helped the company transition smoothly.

“We had to share with everyone what it means to work from home and share expectations,” Spritzer says. “Everyone still has to be available. You still have to communicate with each other. You have to over-communicate during this time. And I’m really thankful that our company was set up on Slack because now we really, really leverage Slack for interoffice communications and to quickly stay updated on what’s going on.”

Spritzer and Cartin have put extra time and energy into helping their employees feel connected. “We meet once a month as a team,” Spritzer says. “We do a virtual lunch and send everyone a gift card. Everyone orders lunch in advance, and we get together and play games and catch up and try to bond during that time.”

Spritzer says they also remind their team to take breaks. “You don’t really have that balance anymore of getting out of bed, getting out of your apartment or house and going into an office. Now it’s all blended and we have hours back in our day, and a lot of people are filling those hours with more work.”

After experiencing Zoom fatigue, the co-founders decided to create a product to make video meetings less painful.

“I remember that back in May I called my business partner Stephanie and said, ‘This has to be better and it can be better. What can we do to make this better?’ And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had very colorful cards that we could use to communicate over video?’ Because a lot of times there are technical glitches and sound issues, so the best way to communicate is just holding a sign, essentially.”

Spritzer and Cartin created a set of 20 colorful cards that focus on different aspects of a video meeting to help people know they are on mute or to let everyone know when someone has an idea they want to share. “We made the product for ourselves,” Spritzer says. “It worked so well that we decided to roll it out as a business solution for other businesses. And we also saw that it could be used for remote . So now the product is also available to teachers and students.”

They are also making customized packages for brands. “Something that I realized in my business, and also in talking to other business owners, is that the of a lot of businesses is really suffering during this time, since there’s no longer an office for a lot of businesses to go to and build that camaraderie,” Spritzer says. “So we can custom-make cards for businesses. And now businesses are hiring us to redesign the DigiCards to put their on front, send this out as gifts to their remote workers to keep them more engaged and then also customize the individual card so that it ties back to their values and their unique business culture. Right now we are offering ten percent off to help entrepreneurs and educators with the code Entrepreneur10.”

Spritzer says that if you have an idea you feel passionate about, go for it. “Do your research, the idea, see if it already exists, see if this is something that people want,” Spritzer says. “Ask your network, ask your friends if this is a product that they would buy. Collect as much feedback as possible and then based on that, decide if it’s worth your time to push the idea forward.”

Related: How Small Business Owners Can Bounce Back from the Pandemic


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