Look at Problems From an Outsider's POV and 4 More Business Tips From the Week
A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
During a time of crisis in your business, your employees will look to you for calm, level-headed leadership. But when everything you've built and worked for is on the line, your emotions can get the best of you. You shouldn't suppress your emotions, according to Allison Troy, a psychologist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., but you shouldn't let them rule you either.
One strategy for keeping a cool head in a crisis is to look at the problem like an outsider. "Distance helps you see the big picture," says Ethan Kross, director of the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. "You can think more clearly when you're not caught up in the details." Pretend that you're giving advice to a friend about the problem that you're experiencing. How would you help them arrive at a solution? A shift in point of view can help you calm down and see your way out of a mess. More: How to Stay Calm in a Crisis
Have a 'one-and-done' policy regarding negative comments.
Negative comments on social media or your company blog can be a drain on your time and energy. Though it's tempting to ignore or delete them, it's important to address the commenter, while also safeguarding your time. "I have a one-and-done policy," says John Jantsch, founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. "Every now and then I get something from left field, and I'll always respond but only one time." More: When Dealing With Negative Comments Online, Be Kind, Compassionate and Diplomatic
Recognize when you need to take over an important project.
The kingpin of a fictional drug enterprise may not be your typical business role model, but Breaking Bad's Walter White can teach you a thing or two about what it takes to build an empire, including when not to delegate important tasks. When White's partner in the meth business, Jesse Pinkman, fails to make a sale to a major buyer -- and gets beaten up in the process -- White steps in himself. After the buyer, Tuco Salamanca, laughs at him, Walt detonates a chemical explosive that blows out the top floor of the drug dealer's headquarters and intimidates him enough to make the deal. As a business owner with a million things to juggle, it's important to delegate some responsibilities. But there's no replacement for doing the big stuff yourself. More: Walter White's 5 Most Badass Business Moves in 'Breaking Bad'
Don't hire anyone out of friendship or obligation alone.
Hiring people out of a sense of friendship, duty or obligation can get you into trouble, says Matt Garrett, chief executive of TGG Accounting, a San Diego-based managerial accounting firm. He tells the story of a friend who hired another friend's daughter to be his bookkeeper. What he didn't know was that the woman was in debt and carrying a grudge against the world. She ended up stealing $439,000 over three years by siphoning money that should have gone to the IRS. Consequently, Garrett's friend lost his business, his shareholders lost their money and 15 employees lost their jobs. Instead of doing what he did, says Garrett, "Hire based on talent, and pay for that talent to perform at a high level of accountability and integrity." More: 4 Kinds of Fraud That Could Destroy Your Business
Save up or rein in expenses rather than extending the life of a student loan.
If student loans are burdening your budget, you can give yourself a break by extending the repayment period from 10 to 25 years. Or you could apply for Income Based Repayment, which adjusts your monthly payment to a percentage of what you earn, not what you owe. But neither of these strategies is your best option, says Monica Mehta, an investor at New York-based Seventh Capital and author of The Entrepreneurial Instinct (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Instead of minimizing your payment during a time of uncertain income, such as the startup phase of a new business, try to save up enough in advance to cover the loan for several months. Alternately, you could reduce your spending. As Mehta points out, extending repayment of a $35,000 federal student loan from 10 to 25 years triples the interest due over the loan's lifetime, from $13,000 to $39,000. More: How to Start a Business With Student Loans and Not Go Broke
Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.