Three green text bubbles on the left, to symbolize positive reviews, next to three red text bubbles to imitate negative reviews.

Getting positive reviews going may take a while, because people are really only likely to publish a good review if the service was particularly spectacular. But if given some sort of prompting, like a verbal asking of “hey, would you mind leaving a good review for the store later on if you have a chance?” or a reminder on a receipt can go a long way. When a review page starts getting those glowing reviews going, it’s something worth being proud of and even sharing with the business’ employees.

But, inevitably, not everyone is going to be happy with the services they receive. Upset customers are over 50% more likely to leave a negative review. If a business on average has more positive interactions with customers, the concern over negative reviews can be mitigated. It may not feel great to have a negative review left, but as a business grows it’s bound to happen.

What’s a problem, though, is fraudulent reviews. Customers that are upset for reasons probably way beyond what happened with a company may not just leave one negative, but several, some of which may be made up. Or, petty competition may throw up some bad reviews to make themselves look better. Getting rid of fraudulent reviews isn’t always easy, but there are ways to go about it. Reporting those fraudulent reviews is usually the way to go about that, but there will have to be sufficient evidence that the review is fake so there’s no “he said/she said”.

Whatever comes a business’ way, it’s important to look towards the future, and work hard. That positive attitude will transfer over into better customer interactions, until even a few bad reviews can’t dim the shine of the tons of positive reviews a business might someday have.

Businessman with many hands- productivity concept

Whether you’re the CEO of a company or an entry-level worker, we can all agree that inspiration to be more productive is never a bad thing. Let’s face it; we all have bad days where our focus is shot, and we feel like we can’t accomplish anything. While there are many reasons for a productivity slump, these books are sure to give you inspiration and help you get more done in your day with less headache.

1. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Studies conducted on workplace productivity have shown that stress can have a huge impact on your ability to focus and be productive. Allen makes a strong case that the more you can relax, the greater your ability to get things done. Offering tips on overcoming anxiety, goal assessment, task delegation, project planning, and confidence building, this book is sure to help you get the most out of your time at the office.

2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Tips to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Procrastination is damaging to productivity; often times, we put off our most difficult tasks because they’re overwhelming or discouraging. Tracy argues that these are the tasks we should be starting our day with when our productivity levels are higher. Once you complete that dreaded task, the rest of the day should be a piece of cake. He also includes some excellent time-management tips for those of us who can’t seem to find enough hours in the day.

3. The Productive Person: A How-To Guide Book Filled with Productivity Hacks & Daily Schedules for Entrepreneurs, Students, or anyone Struggling with Work-Life Balance by James Roper & Chandler Bolt

Having a poor work-life balance can have a huge impact on your performance at work. Without time to recharge, you’re left returning to work the next day with your mental resources tapped. This book stresses not only time management and scheduling ideas, but also how to let go of guilt and allow yourself to take some time off from work now and then.

4. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Life for many of us these days consists of endless distraction; from emails and notifications coming in on our smartphones to the never-ending options you find at the grocery store, our attention is constantly pulled in multiple directions, making focusing on anything for very long difficult. Newport’s book discusses the valuable skill of being able to tune out distractions and how to master your mind’s ability to focus in our fast-paced, overstimulating world.

5. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s book isn’t focused on work; it’s a self-help book devoted to changing the way you view life. As many of us know, perspective can have a major influence in your life, both on a personal and professional level, and several studies have suggested that the power of positive thinking can increase productivity. Sometimes a simple re-framing of a problem or looking at a situation from a different perspective is all we need to get over a hurdle. Covey focuses on a holistic approach to being positive, using personal stories and anecdotes to drive home the message that you are in control of your perspective and attitude.

 

Smiling employees standing around a desk- positive workplace culture

The culture of a company can shape every aspect of it: morale, productivity, turnover, quality of service provided, how the company as a whole is viewed — even the types of clients a business attracts. Culture is everything, which is why cultivating a positive one is so important. We’ve compiled a few of the best tips to ensure your company culture is as positive as possible.

Hire for Culture

Culture is shaped by every individual who works at a company — from the top managers to every employee. This makes the hiring process for all positions crucial to the shaping of the company culture. An interview isn’t just a time to discuss a candidate’s qualifications for the position, it’s also an excellent opportunity to ask questions that can determine a candidate’s values to see if they align with that of your company.

Recognize and Commend the Team

Employees who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to work harder and stay with a company longer than those who aren’t. Recognizing milestones like birthdays, employee anniversaries, or simply telling them they’re doing a great job can go a long way for morale. These recognitions don’t need to break the bank; they can be as simple as an email or announcement thanking everyone for their hard work, or the boss giving everyone a big shout out at a meeting.

Allow for Work-Life Balance

Even if your employees enjoy their job immensely, having a strong work-life balance is important for productivity and to prevent job burnout. This could mean different things to different employees; some may want the weekends off to spend time with their family or need to take the occasional early day to take a pet to the vet. To some, it could mean that their workday is confined to work hours so that there are no duties encroaching on their personal time at home. Or it could mean all of the above. Having flexibility for employees’ needs makes for a more positive culture where people feel they’re able to work while still taking care of the things that matter in life.

Open Communication

Open communication is important in all types of relationships — even that of an employer/employee. Creating an environment that allows for openness, whether through “open door” policies or asking for employee feedback, is crucial for allowing employees to feel valued and heard. Performance reviews, while dreaded by many employers and employees alike, can be an excellent time for both parties to get on the same page and ensure that any of the employee’s concerns are addressed. Having open communication shows that a company cares and is concerned for the employee’s well-being, making the employee care more about the company in return.

These small steps can go a long way to ensure everyone feels happy and valued, and it ultimately leads to the betterment of the company. Employees are more enthusiastic, more productive, and more devoted when the culture is a positive one that is designed to make everyone’s workday the best it can be.

Should businesses stay out of politics?

Keeping up with the news means sometimes seeing articles about what companies have donated to, and some people taking that personally. Some vocal people say that businesses should keep their noses out of politics, but in reality, that is up for the business to decide.

Depending upon the size of the company, there are various things to consider. If it’s big enough to have shareholders, it means having to consider what they think before donating. If the company is smaller, there may not be a whole lot to donate in the first place. And even if a donation is made, it likely won’t make front page news anywhere. But in the smaller company, employees might take it more personally if business profits are given to a cause they feel strongly against.

Outside of the business, going back to the idea of current and potential customers not liking any sort of political involvement, that idea seems to mostly come from older crowds. There’s a newer idea, at least being vocalized more, that consumers are okay with businesses donating to causes that align with their ideals, because then the consumer can choose either to support that business or not.

There’s another bit of truth that businesses can’t entirely avoid politics, even if they aren’t actively donating to a cause. Business practices like deciding who to hire or what regulations are enforced more strictly than others can be seen as political statements by consumers. At that point, it becomes a matter of deciding what principals they want to back, to stand firm by those values, whether they’re called political or not.

Small businesses might not be as small as you think.

A business may feel large or small, depending on factors like building size, customer to employee ratios, and so on. Actually being defined as a small business in a legal sense, though, has more defined parameters. Deciding to stay a small business or working toward growing into a big business — that all comes down to the personal choice of a business owner.

The legal definition of a small business would likely surprise many readers. A business that has $7 million in annual generated revenue and 500 employees, depending on the industry, could still count as a small business. The numbers can go even higher for industries such as railroads and certain food services. When talking about small business, that’s not going to be what the average person thinks of. Most often, they’re imaging a small store with an employee count that doesn’t hit double digits and brings in a moderate amount of money. A business owner might have a different perspective on these numbers, but for the 95 percent of business owners that make up small businesses, they might still seem odd.

However, when thinking about how large certain businesses and industries are in America, those businesses can certainly seem small in comparison. Wal-Mart Stores was reported to have generated over $350 million in revenue; a big enough difference to bring to light what kind of scale is in effect here.

Growing to become a big business may take much more time and effort than a business owner was originally anticipating. But for some, the challenge may be worth it. For others, the business may expand over time, but the owner will have no problem remaining in the rather large parameters of a small business.