The blueprint for a simple, powerful profit-sharing program.

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If there’s one thing owners, employees and contractors agree on, it’s that it is always nice to have some skin in the game, especially when business is thriving. A successful profit-sharing program inspires and motivates your employees. It allows you, as the owner, to give back to your team. It even makes for a great story when an employee experiences a windfall.

But for a small business owner, setting up a simple and effective profit-sharing system is a daunting challenge. I know, because I spent the last year building mine.

In today’s article, I’ll show you how to go beyond the common (but misleading) examples of public and venture-backed companies and set up a simple, easy-to-manage, easy-to-understand profit-sharing system that will make you and your team members proud. …

A simple framework for honest, equitable compensation.

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Earlier this year, I transitioned my company to an equal-pay policy. Among our seven software developers, everyone is compensated in an identical way, and those numbers and formulas are public to the whole team.

It almost goes without saying that equal pay and financial transparency are good things—they’re critical to closing the wage gap as well as building a strong, cooperative and dedicated team. Nonetheless, many companies (including those who talk-the-talk about equity and inclusion) have large, irrational pay disparities among workers who do very similar jobs.

As my company has grown, I’ve had the opportunity to hire new people and build systems that will help us all prosper. My philosophy has been to design a business that I would be happy to be a part of — regardless of my role or position in the hierarchy. It’s easy to make policies that benefit the CEO — but could I build a company where I would feel I was treated fairly at the entry-level, mid-level and executive level? In short: Would I want to work at my own company? It’s a pretty high bar, especially coming from someone who eschewed traditional employment for entrepreneurship early in his career. …

How to retain great tech talent

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There’s a paradox you’ll discover as you’re building your technology team: even though hiring great people benefits everyone, nobody really enjoys the process.

Creative agency owners and entrepreneurs struggle to write job descriptions, conduct interviews, and make judgment calls about the best candidates. Candidates hate the process of searching for opportunities, crafting resumés, updating portfolios, and feeling like they have to sell themselves to one company after another.

This is an excerpt from the free Agency Owner’s Guide to Hiring Web Developers

I’ve met thousands of creative and technology professionals in my career — and not a single one chose their career because they love sales. We’re creative! We want to create cool stuff! And the hiring process is really just sales by another name — the company sells itself to candidates, and candidates sell themselves to the company — which means we’d all like to get it over with as quickly as possible. …

We’re praised for being decisive, ingenious and disruptive. And yet many of us are stuck in a rut that is centuries out of date.

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Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

You and I are small business owners — and even though it doesn’t always feel like it, that means we have a lot of power. Collectively, we employ almost half of all workers in the United States.

We’re praised for being decisive, ingenious, and disruptive. We pride ourselves on being quick thinkers and taking daring, unconventional leaps of faith.

You’d never catch us with an out-of-date iPhone, and we’re always testing the latest productivity hack or working on a lifestyle redesign. …

We can’t keep blaming human behavior on the robots

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Photo: Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When in doubt, blame the robots. As Facebook has fallen from grace and struggled to reconcile its role in spreading propaganda and stoking political anger, the company has proposed a familiar solution:

If the algorithm has failed, let’s just build a better algorithm.

It’s a noble goal for the next hackathon. As a mechanism for real change, however, the focus on software misses the point.

Facebook’s problems can’t be solved with more data or better code. They’re simply the most potent and alarming example of the fact that the internet has failed as a public forum.

Not long ago, the scientists and software developers who pioneered the World Wide Web thought it would democratize publishing and usher in a more open, educated, and thoughtful chapter of history. But while the internet and its offshoot technologies have improved society and daily life in many ways, they have been an unmitigated disaster for the way people communicate and learn. …

We love to hate social media and search because they’re an uncomfortable mirror of our culture.

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Another day, another public relations disaster for Silicon Valley. Whether they’re selling highly targeted ads to hate groups, allowing Russian hackers to pose as angry Muslims, or spreading misinformation after a mass shooting, the refrain is the same:

“Google and Facebook, you have a responsibility to filter the Internet.”

The problem, of course, is that Google and Facebook aren’t really filtering companies, and they definitely aren’t journalism companies. They’re advertising companies, and their goal is not to shape the world — but simply to reflect it and then sell ads to people looking at that reflection.

Facebook is full of misinformation and conspiracy theories because humans love disseminating misinformation and subscribing to conspiracy theories. Facebook’s mission isn’t to create a better world — it’s simply to augment the world that already exists by making communication easier. That includes the good parts of life — like event invitations and vacation photos — and the horrible stuff too. …

I grew up under a barrage of brainwashing, overstimulating commercials. Streaming services offer the next generation a neurological reprieve.

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You don’t have to say it — kids these days watch way too much TV. According to a 2016 Nielsen report, children between the ages of 2 and 11 watch even more than teens, clocking 23 hours of television every week.

There is no doubt that I would prefer my son to get outside. But if you’re going to have some TV time in your home, the Internet has brought us a silver lining: streaming services with almost zero ads.

It’s trendy to say that all media and entertainment are bad for everybody — and there’s certainly a lot of low-brow programming out there to support that theory. But as someone who’s built his career in technology and communication, I won’t accept going off the grid as a solution. I want to help my son see both the incredible value and significant dangers of television and media so that he has the tools and experience to navigate an increasingly connected world. …

It’s creative, unscripted, exploratory play — not computer science — that builds innovative, tech-savvy kids.

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The toy store shelves bristle with code robots, code caterpillars, logical turtles and bumblebees who love to take commands. Grab a book called Coding for Kids for Dummies, then download an app or three so your kids can code on the road.

It’s natural to want our children to succeed — computer programming is, after all, the next big thing, and it barely existed as a career option when many of us were born. But in the endless aisles of colorful coding creatures, we’ve lost sight of the real reason children are inspired to learn.

The direct, singular focus on teaching kids to code ignores the reality that software development as a profession tends to be boring, repetitive and easily commoditized. Coding is an honorable trade, but we’ve accidentally adopted the fantasy that learning to code is a surefire path to becoming an innovative, independent thinker. …

How I went from “why bother?” to “all in” on a new business model.

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This week, I committed the mortal sin of e-mail marketing — I closed my free newsletter and went all-in on Patreon. It took me a long time to take the leap — in part because I’ve spent the last year rapidly experimenting with a dozen business models for writing and journalism, but also because people who publish on Patreon (and its many budding competitors) have such a bizarre mix of positive and negative outcomes.

It’s easy to find the success stories — the company trumpets them as examples and inspiration (and many are, indeed, inspiring). I’ve been a patron, on and off, for the last few years, so I could even name a few big winners off the top of my head. …

Lessons from my first $1,000

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Medium sent me something really exciting in the mail last week — a tax form, with my name on it, proving they’d paid me $1,019 in 2017.

By Medium’s own admission, I’m in the minority. Last month, 57 percent of writers who posted a members-only article made no money, which means the median writer income was $0.00. (The average for the month was $76.50.)

I find that statistic pretty grim, and it could easily be the basis for a “the program is failing” diatribe. Instead, this 6-minute read will help you break into the profitable 43 percent — and, perhaps, much higher — with the best tools and tactics I’ve discovered across 7 months and 33 member stories. …


Rob Howard

CEO of | When every pixel matters, creative agencies trust us for handcrafted WordPress solutions

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