Presentations: Why I Hate Them Mike | April 21st, 2014

I am fortunate enough to receive a handful of invitations each year to speak at various gatherings, conferences, and trade shows. I take these opportunities seriously and understand that I have a responsibility to the event organizers as well as an obligation to the audience.  My goals when speaking are 1) to educate, and 2) to entertain.

Over time and with practice, I have gotten better at both and truly look forward to these engagements when they arise. When I attend these events I always try to watch a few of the other presentations to see what I can learn for myself, and to pick up some ideas from other speakers about how they go about engaging and entertaining the crowd. However, on virtually occasion I am uniformly disappointed. The speakers are boring, the material uninteresting, the presentation lackluster. I sit there in the audience as the bullet points and charts wash over me, fighting sleep and wondering if these speakers have ever heard the word pizazz.

Engaging audiences is not easy. The first step is in taking some time to understand them. Who are they and why are they here in the first place? What are they hoping to learn? With these answers in hands, it is best to think abut what NOT to do, and it’s pretty simple, really. Don’t be boring. Don’t lull them to sleep with endless bullet points. Don’t clog their brains with dense and complicated charts. Don’t drone on and on about the facts and figures that you might be interested in, but that they find irrelevant.

People like stories. If your presentation can tell a story, and if your story is accompanied by  rich, clean visuals  you will draw your audience in and open them to whatever it is you are trying to teach. For instance, if your goal is to teach them about a new method for teaching a foreign language, tell the story about how one person was able to do this effectively and how it changed her life. Give your audience a hook, something that they can easily get their minds around and something that relates to their own lives and it will allow you to deliver the information in a way that will be easy to absorb and will keep them entertained and engaged.

So about those rich, clean visuals? The trick is to keep them simple and uncluttered. Choose a background that will not distract, use a large font, avoid cluttered headers and footers, and use your voice to deliver the information with the slide supporting what you are saying. In other words, the more information you deliver orally and the less you deliver visually, the more successful you will be. Lastly, never, ever stand there and read the slides to the audience. Remember, most of them can read for themselves – they’re looking to you to teach them what they re there to learn; your slides are there to supplement your words and not vise-versa.

Here then (in presentation form) my rules for great presentations:

Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #219 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 18th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is a parody commercial filmed in the style we’ve recently seen on television from AT&T. If you’re a fan of HBO’s show True Detective, you’ll enjoy it.

smallbusinessblog

Extending Unemployment Benefits: Why it Matters to Small Business – crowdspring.co/1qy0hXb

Pivot if you must, but don’t twirl | by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1eBetgu

25 Small Business Social Media Trends You Need | Heidi Cohen – crowdspring.co/1ijBmUJ

startupsblog

Fred Wilson Interview | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1eBcoRO

Pivot if you must, but don’t twirl | by Howard Tullman – crowdspring.co/1eBetgu

Why Amazon Is Copying Zappos and Paying Employees to Quit | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1ijCiIW

Inside Story of Clinkle | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1m4hpls

socialmediablog

Ad Fraud Creates Worry For Some, Opportunity For Others | Advertising Age – crowdspring.co/1kXIaGI

10 Charts That Are Changing the Way We Measure Content | The Content Strategist – crowdspring.co/1eBfm8P

25 Small Business Social Media Trends You Need | Heidi Cohen – crowdspring.co/1ijBmUJ

Why Custom Audience targeting proves that email has won the internet – crowdspring.co/1m4jXQE

designblog

10 Crucial Lessons From History’s Greatest Graphic Designers | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1iOPHGx

If 27 Famous Artists Designed Buildings | Co.Design – crowdspring.co/1ijAhfB

24 Creative Birds Inspired Products | InstantShift – crowdspring.co/1m4ctNu

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Light Typefaces | UX Movement – crowdspring.co/1ijB4gI

70 Really Cool Business Card Designs for Inspiration | iBrandStudio – crowdspring.co/1ijEjEL

Read the rest of this post »

Extending Unemployment Benefits: Why it Matters to Small Business Mike | April 14th, 2014

Unlike large corporations, small businesses are highly vulnerable to the peaks and valleys of the economy. In good times, when people have money to spend, small businesses can thrive as they attract more customers.

Since the market crash of 2008, our economy has struggled to revive. Unemployment has remained at stubbornly high levels and the number of “long-term” unemployed workers has remained at historic highs. In the first quarter of 2014, 2.6% of workers  have been jobless for at least 27 weeks and have now run out of state benefits, leaving them at the mercy of their savings (if they have any left), their families (assuming they are doing any better), and private charities such as food banks and shelters.

The problem is staggering – long-term unemployment is at all-time highs in forty-one of the fifty states with over 2.8 million workers, yet the share of jobless Americans receiving aid has fallen to an all-time low. When the Federal program that provided extended unemployment benefits expired at the end of December, these workers were left in the cold, further exacerbating the threat of high structural unemployment which continues to grow.

When Congress allowed benefits for these workers to expire, serious damage was caused, not just to the families of the unemployed, but to the economy at large and small business in particular. Washington has been struggling to find a way to extend the benefits, but it has been a rough and winding road, with fierce resistance to providing additional benefits. Last week the US Senate passed a bill which would restore federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for those 2.8 million long-term unemployed.

Why is the restoration of unemployment benefits important to small business? Because the economic impact of high unemployment effects small businesses most profoundly. When consumers have less cash to spend, revenues drop as demand contracts. And where a large business would typically have resources sufficient  to weather a down year or two, most small businesses have reserves that might get them through a bad quarter at most. In addition, the population of unemployed drains other resources: many wind up on disability, food stamps, or early Social Security, which places additional burden on all taxpayers. The cycle is vicious: as small business is impacted, more workers are laid off. And as these newly unemployed struggle to find work, employee retention rates actually rise (in down times, people tend to hold tightly to a “job in hand”) reducing the number of open positions available.

People want to work and business and government should remember that the unemployed represent a wasted resource; this is capacity waiting to be utilized and wasted capacity is wasted opportunity.

Photo: Unemployed outside a soup kitchen — Wikimedia

Twitter Link Roundup #218 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | April 11th, 2014

chicago1909

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The image above shows a typical rush hour in Chicago in 1909. Few things have changed – rush hour is still insanely busy, but at least nobody is moving logs through the center of the city.

smallbusinessblog

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors - crowdspring.co/1lL1sTK

Don’t Allow Failure To Kill Your Business | LinkedIn - crowdspring.co/1lL9b4b

While struggling to build companies, some founders also quietly battle depression | BetaBoston – crowdspring.co/1mUNP1y

How to Make Better Reference Calls - crowdspring.co/1e9bls4

Negotiating Tips for People Who HATE Negotiating - crowdspring.co/1mZymNH

Why the Best Entrepreneurs and Creators are Humble | The Next Web - crowdspring.co/1e9b5t3

5 Bad Excuses Not To Start a Business | Entrepreneurship Compass - crowdspring.co/PUUAFR

startupsblog

Don’t Allow Failure To Kill Your Business | LinkedIn - crowdspring.co/1lL9b4b

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors - crowdspring.co/1lL1sTK

“38% of venture-backed founders are over 40 years old” - crowdspring.co/1hywYgv

Here’s Why You’re Not Hiring the Best and the Brightest - crowdspring.co/1lLnBBm

Five Reasons Not To Raise Venture Capital, by Rachel Chalmers | Model View Culture - crowdspring.co/1lIlpYH

How Old Are Silicon Valley’s Top Founders? Here’s the Data | Harvard Business Review – crowdspring.co/1lLgAjK

Inside Sequoia Capital: Silicon Valley’s Innovation Factory - crowdspring.co/1hyz3sN

Google, Apple or IPO: What’s Next for Square? | Re/code - crowdspring.co/1embSqM

5 Lies That Come Out of Entrepreneurs’ Mouths | by Gene Marks - crowdspring.co/1g18f4s

Exploring the Series B Crunch - crowdspring.co/1gTQuYS

Negotiating Tips for People Who HATE Negotiating - crowdspring.co/1mZymNH

5 Bad Excuses Not To Start a Business | Entrepreneurship Compass - crowdspring.co/PUUAFR

SaaS Pricing: 3 Rules for Effectively Using Discounts - crowdspring.co/1knI2Es

The decline of the mobile web - crowdspring.co/1lIlKL4

Cash Piles, Paranoia Fuel Tech Giants’ Buying Binge - crowdspring.co/1gKTw1y

Remaking Open Offices So Introverts Don’t Hate Them | Co.Exist - crowdspring.co/1lLo46l

Why the Best Entrepreneurs and Creators are Humble | The Next Web - crowdspring.co/1e9b5t3

The startup explosion | The Economist - crowdspring.co/1gTSjVC

How to Make Better Reference Calls - crowdspring.co/1e9bls4

While struggling to build companies, some founders also quietly battle depression | BetaBoston – crowdspring.co/1mUNP1y

Benchmarking Box’s S-1: How 7 Key SaaS Metrics Stack Up | by Thomas Tunguz - crowdspring.co/1dysrz8

Good insight from @benedictevans about the TV industry - crowdspring.co/1lzf4RO

How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago Today - crowdspring.co/1hmrR2j

How Sleep Deprivation Drives The High Failure Rates of Tech Startups | Forbes - crowdspring.co/1e8AHAF

The Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift - crowdspring.co/1e8Acqg

socialmediablog

“Real Time” in Display Advertising Doesn’t Really Mean Real Time - crowdspring.co/1hyAnvG

Good reminder from Seth Godin that in social media, what matters is to matter - crowdspring.co/1gnu0ee

Study: Expert Content 83% More Effective Lifting Purchase Considerations Than User Reviews – crowdspring.co/1e8zfyc

Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inks Profit-Sharing Deal with Razorfish | Advertising Age – crowdspring.co/1hmm2C4

designblog

20 Most Creative Product Packaging Designs - crowdspring.co/1mqyhFi

Free Fonts for Free Download | Graphic Design Junction - crowdspring.co/1giJLaD

Read the rest of this post »

Small Business and Startup Tips: Managing Remote Vendors Mike | April 7th, 2014

The modern miracle that is the Internet provides us with tools that allow many of us to work anywhere, anytime. For instance, with the assist of a strong wifi signal and a headset, crowdSPRING’s crack customer service team can work their shifts from any random Starbucks or local cafe. And with SaaS project management software, such as Basecamp, chatrooms like Campfire, Help Desk tools like Zendesk, and video conferencing services like Google Hangouts, and internet based phone services like Skype and IfByPhone teams have the ability to work remotely, while fully engaging with their teams and companies.

That’s cool, you say, but what about working with vendors and contractors? Many of us have deep relationships with these talented people and companies and find it difficult to collaborate as closely as we would like to. They may be miles or even oceans away, yet we often need to be together to work productively and creatively with them. The bad news is, remote relationships with vendors can never be as productive or efficient as those with whom we can meet in person on a regular basis. But the good news is that the very same tools that many of us use to work with our own teams can be leveraged to wonderful effect when collaborating with service providers.

  • Call them! Skype is a great tool for making internet-based calls, especially if the person you are calling is based outside of your country. The rates to call most countries are pennies per minute, and if the other person has a Skype account, the call is completely free. Set up a weekly phone call, share files, links, and other resources using Skype’s built in chat tool, and even bring video into the mix when the other person is logged in!
  • Collaborate across the divide! Just a few short years ago, creating and collaborating on shared documents was a matter of creating one in Microsoft Word or another word processor, emailing it to your confederate, waiting for them to send their redline changes to the next person in the group, and twiddling your thumbs until it had made the rounds through the entire team and was back in your hands. Google Docs has changed all of that and working with vendors and contractors will never be the same (not to mention the myriad documents you need to share in-house). Creating a document, spreadsheet, or presentation is easy and sharing it with as many associates as you like couldn’t be simpler. Collaborators can edit together in real-time, aided by clever brightly-colored cursors so you can easily see who is doing what in the document. Versions are saved, making it simple to restore a prior edition if the changes made are not to your liking, and there are tools for formatting, exporting, and commenting which are particularly useful when leaving notes for the others.
  • Combine and conquer! Basecamp and other project management tools allow you and your vendor to work together on projects efficiently and effectively. Manage multiple projects easily; share files, pictures, and text; and set up To-Do lists that can be updated by any number of authorized collaborators on a project. You and your vendor can use the tool together in real-time or asynchronously, allowing users in vastly different time zones to work to successfully collaborate systematically and constructively.
  • Conference time! Google Hangouts has made it easy and affordable for small companies to host video calls for one-on-one meetings as well as conferences with larger groups. Did I say affordable? What I meant was FREE! Simply set up a new hangout room, send out the invites, and your vendor can be in a meeting with you and your team in real time, anytime. All they need is their own Google+ account, a simple browser plugin, a video camera (built-in or usb-powered), and a microphone or headset. The audio and video quality or phenomenal, the interface simple to use, and the available features are indispensable. Real-time text chat, remote muting, and full-on screensharing allow users to make presentations, share notes, and control for the inevitable crying baby in the next room.

 

Illustration: Video telephony in the year 2000, as imagined in 1910, Wikimedia Commons

Twitter Link Roundup #217 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | March 28th, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above is a creative and fun take on the song “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry, performed in 20 different musical styles (as it would have been performed by Queen, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frank Sinatra, etc).

smallbusinessblog

Understanding the Power of Your Human Networks – crowdspring.co/1faDoBX

Success can build a culture of arrogance that will destroy a company – crowdspring.co/1diGeKi

startupsblog

Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Found a SaaS Startup – crowdspring.co/1mqljr6

Understanding the Power of Your Human Networks – crowdspring.co/1faDoBX

Silicon Valley Investors, Low Interest Rates, And The Tech Bubble | Business Insider – crowdspring.co/1gkKBnb

Ageism In Silicon Valley Is So Bad People In Their 20s Are Getting Cosmetic Surgery – crowdspring.co/1lgVtFQ

Free Startup Docs: How Much Equity Should Advisors Get? | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1dylWfX

Success can build a culture of arrogance that will destroy a company – crowdspring.co/1diGeKi

socialmediablog

The Secret About Online Ad Traffic: One-Third Is Bogus – crowdspring.co/1mql4we

Billion Dollar Dart Throwing – crowdspring.co/1hyw8Aq

Facebook brands and organic reach: Why no one likes your self-promoting posts anymore – crowdspring.co/1fd4SqG

Problem of bogus Web traffic and ads is clearer when you realize how many buys are automated – on.wsj.com/1mpcqOC

The Two Words Steve Jobs Hated Most – crowdspring.co/1iKL42s

“every Facebook Like will cost you $1.82 in Promoted Post payments.” – crowdspring.co/1gkKmJ0

TV Advertising: What I Miss – crowdspring.co/1gi1NKj

Intriguing study reveals the secrets of successful infographics | Webdesigner Depot – crowdspring.co/1gyOlkv

The 10 Best Minimalist Print Ads – crowdspring.co/1ihKtEA

designblog

20 Free, Minimalist and Clean Icon Sets Every Designer Should Have – crowdspring.co/1gyKAM3

Create a Vintage Notebook Illustration in Adobe Illustrator – Tuts+ Design & Illustration Tutorial – crowdspring.co/1gyOsgb

Really smart and creative packaging for meats – crowdspring.co/1mgb09e

Read the rest of this post »

TV Advertising: What I Miss Mike | March 24th, 2014

Recently, as I binged through multiple streaming episodes of the Wire on HBO, House of Cards on Netflix, and Homeland on Showtime, I had an uneasy feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Something was missing from the experience. An absence that the marketer in me noticed but, at first, could not quite put my finger on. Sitting back watching Season 2, as Kevin Spacey channeled the Danish Prince and Robin Wright hit the perfect notes as Lady MacBeth of our nation’s capital, it suddenly hit me. What I wanted was a big ol’ bowl of popcorn! No, wait. I don’t like popcorn. What was missing was a popcorn commercial!

Consuming television the “new way,” via a stream from an online content provider is completely devoid of commercials (so far, at least). Just a few short years ago, I simply cranked up the TiVo and enjoyed my shows the old-fashioned way, using the 30-second skip button to avoid the commercials. And in the years before that, I sidestepped them via the fast forward button on the VCR remote. It seems eons ago that I actually had to watch those insistent little messages that cluttered my rooftop-antenna-provided “stream.” Is this evolution a good thing? Hmmmm not quite sure. There is a part of me that misses both the artform of the 30′ spot as well as the rhythm the commercials imposed on the structure of a television episode. Back in the day TV dramas especially had a very specific 4 act structure that was forced upon them by the nature of advertising in that medium. A typical dramatic episode began with a short “teaser” scene followed by the opening credits. This was followed by an advertising break and then the real drama began, in 4 formal acts, each bookended by advertisements.

And some of the commercials were fun! Jaunty jingles, high-toned announcers, shimmering product shots. Of course for every great spot, there were probably 50 or 60 clunkers, but you could always get up from the sofa to turn the channel knob and choose from one of the other 4 stations available, or you could head to the kitchen to make that bowl of popcorn! Here are a few that I actually kinda miss from the 1970s era of the 4-act drama. But I can’t really hang around talking about it, because Kevin Spacey takes no commercial breaks and I do not intend to miss what happens next!

1. The Oscar Mayer Kid  This guy was so cute and the jingle so catchy, that there wasn’t a reasonably warm-hearted person in the whole USA who could resist. The spot set a tone that was oft copied by other brands, but Qscar Meyer was the king of cute!

 

1. Slinky means fun  In the days before Lego made movies and before Nintendo, kids actually played with toys that were, essentially, simple machines. The Slinky was the greatest of these and the spot (as well as the memorable jingle) was an inspiration. A flight of stairs, a tightly would metal spring, and a kid could have hours of fun. All that and check out those outfits we used to wear. Who knew? Read the rest of this post »

Twitter Link Roundup #216 – Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More Ross | March 21st, 2014

Every day on the crowdSPRING Twitter account and on my own Twitter account, I post links to posts or videos I enjoyed reading or viewing. These posts and videos are about logo design, web design, startups, entrepreneurship, small business, leadership, social media, marketing, and more! Here are some of the links that I’ve liked and shared this past week!

The video above was created by student Brian Hull. In the video, he sings the hit song “Frozen” in the voices of 21 Disney and Pixar Characters. Most are spot on.

smallbusinessblog

13 B2B Newsletters That Really Shine – crowdspring.co/1dagMGF

Four Important Small Business Insights – Marketing in 2014 – crowdspring.co/1eRYMvL

Sick Leave for Your Employees: Why it Matters – crowdspring.co/1gFez17

Online commenter critical of business can be sued for defamation, Oregon court says – crowdspring.co/1d6RpW8

startupsblog

4 Hard Earned Lessons from Ben Horowitz – crowdspring.co/1emJcIa

When Does Establishing a Good Startup Culture Outweigh Being Cheap? | by Mark Suster – crowdspring.co/1g0di8W

Sick Leave for Your Employees: Why it Matters – crowdspring.co/1gFez17

Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem – crowdspring.co/1gFjLC8

13 B2B Newsletters That Really Shine – crowdspring.co/1dagMGF

Good long video interview by Frank Gruber with Jason Fried about Chicago, Basecamp, building great teams & more – crowdspring.co/1gEsBUD

For Tech Investors, The Midwest Is Flyover Country No More | TechCrunch – crowdspring.co/1mfz1wZ

“To be trusted is a much greater compliment than to be loved.” | by Howard Tullman -crowdspring.co/1l24JO5

Online commenter critical of business can be sued for defamation, Oregon court says – crowdspring.co/1d6RpW8

Good read for entrepreneurs & startup employees on liquidation preferences – crowdspring.co/1neVvzy

How Aaron Levie & childhood friends built Box into a $2 billion business, without stabbing each other in the back – crowdspring.co/1emK8w1

“Chicago’s venture funding performance is improving [but] Chicago is still trailing several major metro areas.” – crowdspring.co/1lPU1Ks

socialmediablog

13 B2B Newsletters That Really Shine – crowdspring.co/1dagMGF

How to get your first 100 email subscribers – crowdspring.co/1d6QjcX

Mobile Ad Market Soars 105% in 2013 | eMarketer – crowdspring.co/1g0eF7x

Read the rest of this post »

12 Questions: Meet Tayo Adetola (Nigeria) Audree | March 18th, 2014

In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING community. For these interviews, we pick people who add value to our community – in the blog, in the forums, in the projects. Plainly – activities that make crowdSPRING a better community. Be professional, treat others with respect, help us build something very special, and we’ll take notice.

We’re very proud to feature Tayo Adetola (crowdSPRING username: HisP1611 ) today. Tayo lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

Tayo Profile

1. Please tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Tayo Adetola [HisP1611 on Cs]. My wife Peace and I both live and work in Lagos, Nigeria. We recently moved back into Nigeria last year, having spent 7 years in the United Kingdom. I have a diploma in Architectural Technology and a BSc. in Architectural Design Technology/Building from Coventry University. I have worked with several architectural firms both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. I currently run a small design studio called His-P Design Studio whilst still freelancing on cS. Did I mention that I ComEd 01am an “Arsenal” fan? COME ON GUNNERS. And also have a thing for TIES, just love to wear them, most especially SUNDAY mornings to church.

2. How did you become interested in design?
Pretty much from junior high. I used to so much cartoon DVDs and still do. I became very much interesting in illustrations, characters, and anything and everything design wise. I have always wanted to become an architect, I worked as one for years and decided to change career to graphics design. I am proud to say I am an architect turned graphics designer [self-taught]. And I love my job.

3. You were awarded for designing the new ComEd Bill. What was your process for organizing all that information into an easy-to-read format?
ComEd Bill, one of my favorites till date. I was born to design this bill. :] From the very first day I read the brief, I just knew it was made for me. I am a sucker for infographics and this just fit the bill for me. [Touché]. The brief was well detailed enough and it just like speaking to the client face-to-face and knowing what they wanted. I had to go back and forth on the previous bill, the comments their already customers made with regards to the look of the bill and what they wanted changed. I always keep my notepad with me during the time spent on the project; illustrating new ideas, icons, what needed to be added to make reading easy for users. My approach to this project was, what if I am a ComEd customer, how would I like my electricity bill to look like? That really was the key thing for me to producing such a design.
Read the rest of this post »

Sick Leave for Your Employees: Why it Matters Mike | March 17th, 2014

Beginning next month businesses in New York City that have 20 or more employees will be required to provide a minimum of 5 paid sick days for those workers every year. This could represent a meaningful expense for many of those businesses, but also represents a meaningful opportunity to increase productivity, improve employee morale, and develop a stronger company culture of caring and confidence.

Is the tradeoff worthwhile and is it fair that businesses (especially small businesses) should have to meet this requirement? According to a new survey from FindLaw.com,  a strong majority of the American public believes that paid sick leave protects workers from being fired if they need to take time off when they are sick or if a child or spouse becomes sick. In addition, paid sick leave laws improve overall public health by keeping sick workers and students at home where they avoid contact with vulnerable colleagues and in turn leads to a healthier company workforces.

Current Federal law mandates that employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons, without losing their health insurance or being in danger of losing their job. But recently states and municipalities have been enacting laws requiring paid sick leave. San Francisco, for instance, in 2007 passed the first such law and in 2012 Connecticut became the first state requiring such coverage. The trend has continued, in cities such as Seattle, Portland and the District of Columbia states have also enacted laws requiring paid sick days, with Vermont being the latest to consider new rules.

Why is this good for small business? Among other reasons, these laws encourage workers to take better care of themselves, incentivize employers to provide health coverage that focuses on prevention, and improves productivity by reducing overall absentee levels. This last may seem counter-intuitive, but when a sick employee comes in to work because it is their only alternative to having their pay docked, they can infect others whose productivity is then also reduced. Businesses large and small can also benefit from reduced employee turnover rates and a healthier, happier workforce.

Photo: Country Doctor — by W. Eugene Smith/Life Magazine