December 6, 2014

The sheer size of today’s corporations virtually ensures that companies will have to wrangle with lots of legal red tape. Most top executives spend as little time as possible dealing with law, choosing either to avoid it or grudgingly comply with the restrictions they face. In the former case, a company may try to move some operations into another country to dodge certain taxes, while in the latter executives simply do the bare minimum necessary to make it through the Continue reading

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November 25, 2014

 

In a world of Amazon and e-readers, there’s just not much room for independent bookstores. Over the past five years, mom and pop bookshops have seen revenues decrease by an average of 3.2 percent annually. But not every company in this discouraging industry is feeling the squeeze. In fact, the Dallas-based retailer Half Price Books is growing at a rate of five stores per year. Revenues rose from $50 million in 1995 to $240 million in 2013, remarkably avoiding Continue reading

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November 15, 2014

Thanks to tough legislation and widespread public education, the number of U.S. smokers has declined 50 percent since the habit’s heyday in the 1950s. Although this significant customer drop-off has hurt many tobacco companies, business has been booming over the last few years for the iconic lighter brand Zippo. The Bradford, PA-based company earned $200 million in sales last year, a record for the lighter maker. What’s more, Zippo’s expanded global presence and diversified product line has increased sales by Continue reading

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October 2, 2014

 

Passion and confidence are essential traits for any entrepreneur, but these same qualities can also lead aspiring business owners to ruin. If entrepreneurs are too assured and optimistic, they risk losing sight of the enormity of the task they have undertaken. For instance, passionate people can believe so deeply in their business idea that they become blinded to its actual market viability. They are driven by the notion that since they would love to buy this particular product or Continue reading

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August 26, 2014

Economists have long argued that a skills gap is growing among the American workforce. Hundreds of businesses both large and small have echoed this sentiment, claiming that there aren’t enough qualified people to perform certain jobs. However, in most cases this line of thinking simply doesn’t add up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed people exceeds the number of jobs available in every industry. In durable goods manufacturing, for instance, there are approximately 576,000 idle Continue reading

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August 11, 2014

In 2014 a judge granted Northwestern University’s football players collective bargaining rights. Although it was later overturned, this landmark decision heightened the debate about compensation for college athletes to a whole new level, and it didn’t take long for another major legal ruling to follow it. In early August a U.S. district judged found in favor of former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and 19 others regarding the image rights of athletes. According to the ruling, the NCAA violates anti-trust Continue reading

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July 14, 2014

For millions of people around the world, social media is a vital tool for everyday life. However, there are millions more who don’t have a Twitter handle or even a Facebook account. These mostly middle-aged or older absentees simply didn’t get swept in the social networking tide like so many others. To retirees, remaining unfamiliar with the subtle workings of a service like Instagram is not a huge loss. But for managers at many companies, social media skills are becoming Continue reading

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March 11, 2014

 

When Kevin Hartford lost his consulting job in the mid-1990s, the knowledge and expertise he gained after years of hard work should have been enough to land him another job quickly. However, potential employers became hung up on one particular item not included on Hartford’s resume: his stutter. While his speech impediment had never been a problem at his previous job, Hartford says that it put off recruiters as he went on countless interviews. “I applied for job after Continue reading

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October 15, 2013

Wal-Mart became the world’s largest retailer by keeping margins low on everything, including employee compensation. For the Florida-based grocer Publix, however, keeping staff motivated through strong financial incentives is a recipe for success rather than instability. Publix’s net margins of 5.6 percent trounce Wal-Mart’s 3.8 percent, making it the most profitable grocery chain in the nation. With $27.5 billion in sales, it’s also the largest employee-owned company in America. Staffers control 80 percent of the company thanks to a policy Continue reading

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October 11, 2013

The hierarchical structure of modern corporate offices can be traced back to 19th century railroad companies. With vast networks of track stretched across the country, transportation magnates needed to designate clear lines of communication among their far-flung operations. A system of middle managers and regional executives eventually rose to prominence and ensured that things ran smoothly. Over the course of the 20th century, businesses of all stripes adopted this top-down structure as their own, eventually leading to the Continue reading

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