Set Boundaries for Accountability and Other Must-Read Business Tips

A look at why co-founders shouldn't always seek consensus, why millennials want feedback and more advice for business owners.

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By Brian Patrick Eha

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A roundup of the best tips of the week from

When Nicolas Desmarais and Daniel Saks decided to found AppDirect, a cloud service marketplace and management platform, they knew they wanted to do it together. Long-term friends in San Francisco, they couldn't wait to start working as a team in the city's startup ecosystem. Learning to navigate the co-founder relationship over the last four years helped them grow "from two guys brainstorming in an apartment to a staff of more than 100 people overseeing technology that reaches millions around the world," Saks and Desmarais say.

One means of accomplishing this tremendous growth required taking responsibility for discrete areas of the business. "New businesses need to be nimble and move fast, and getting consensus for every little decision will slow you down," the duo says. So you'll need to decide who will take the lead in certain areas. Figure out where your and your co-founder's individual strengths lie, and set the boundaries accordingly. Then respect each other's decisions in your personal areas of expertise. More: 5 Secrets to Creating Harmony Among Co-Founders

Learn to value millennials' creativity and provide feedback.
A sense of purpose is what drives millennials to perform at their best. According to an MTV survey, 83 percent of millenials want to feel that their creativity is valued in the workplace. And more than 90 percent will work harder if they understand the end result of their work. "In this environment, managers have no excuse for withholding an explanation for even minor tasks," says Joel Capperella, the vice president of marketing for Yoh, a Philadelphia-based staffing and recruiting firm. Of course not all tasks have a noble higher purpose, but millennial workers want their overall efforts to have a positive impact. "Millenials don't just want a job: They want to make a difference," Capperella says. More: Why Millennials Are Immature, Entitled and the Best Hire

Stop being a cash-only business.
Generally speaking, there are two reasons for being a cash-only business: avoiding transaction fees and dodging taxes. (The same goes for limiting credit card use to purchases of $10 or more.) But you're losing customers because of it, says Gene Marks, the president of The Marks Group, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm specializing in sales and marketing technologies. "Many people aren't carrying cash anymore. You will have to accept credit cards, and soon you will have to accept electronic payments." And if you still think you're coming out ahead, even though your competition may be siphoning off card-using customers, consider that the Internal Revenue Service has methods of catching tax evasion by cash businesses. For instance, says Marks, an auditor can spend a few days in your store to arrive at your average daily receipts, and then extrapolate that out for the whole year to arrive at your expected gross revenue. "Clinging to an all-cash business just to play games with your taxes is not a good model to follow," Marks says. "You will get burned." More: The Worst Mistake for Small Businesses to Continue in 2014

Generate a lot of questions to shed light on a problem.
There is power in asking the right questions, says Hal Gregersen, a professor of innovation at business graduate school INSEAD and the author of The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators (Harvard Business Review, 2011). One way to work through a challenge is to have a group ask rapid-fire questions about it, with someone recording all of the questions. Ask questions about why, what and how. "Most of us have a habit to give a preamble to a question -- why we're asking it," Gregersen says. "Don't explain why, just ask the question." Don't worry about answers for now. Try instead to elicit as many questions as possible in 20 or 30 minutes. Aim to generate at least 50 to 75 questions. More: Finding the Right Questions to Ask to Resolve Your Company's Issues

After losing out on a promotion, plan your next move.
Losing a promotion hurts, but once you're done with the pity party and its aftermath, it's time to figure out your next move, says Lindsay Broder, a professional coach in New York City. The fundamental question is simple: Go or stay? Realizing that you have the option will give you a sense of self-determination that may have evaporated with your recent setback. If you think sticking it out at your current company will bring rewards a little further down the road, then you may want to stay where you are. On the other hand, says Broder, "if you believe this is the end of the line for your career with this company, then start getting out there, network and find yourself a new venture. Doing so while you're still employed is much easier than waiting until you are terminated." More: How to Handle Being Passed Over for a Promotion

Brian Patrick Eha

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at 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.

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