TIME Careers & Workplace

Your Email Is Killing You: 9 Ways to Survive

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Here's what to try instead

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Question: If you believe that email can be a productivity killer for your employees, what strategies have you implemented as a manager to make sure that your people do not get bogged down from accomplishing “real” work?

Standardize Subject Lines

“Client requests often come in at all hours of the day, and in order to ensure we can work on projects and not just respond to email all day, we like to use “URGENT” and “FYI” in our subject lines. This helps identify issues that need to be addressed immediately and notifies us of emails that can wait until a more convenient time.” — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

Kill Long Threads

“If an email thread goes past three replies, then I prohibit continued back-and-forth nonsense. Pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of wasting time on paragraphs of spell-checked pontification. Keep email actionable, brief whenever possible and easy to read.” — Seth Talbott, CEO and Startup Advisor

Use P2 Instead

“P2 is a WordPress theme we use internally for all communication. Instead of sending an email, just make a post to P2. It cuts out on long email threads. It’s searchable and indexable for later. And it’s way more transparent.” — Wade Foster, Zapier

Implement a 5-Minute Limit

“You cannot let emails accumulate. So, if you can answer the email in fewer than five minutes, you should answer it immediately, and stop procrastinating.” — Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME

Create Mailboxes For Tasks

“We have established a ticket system, and we are gradually moving away from using emails because it is a productivity killer. In the meantime, we have created new mailboxes where scheduled daily tasks are delivered to keep our general email accounts clean. We also ask our employees to immediately unsubscribe from emails that are distracting.” — Evrim Oralkan, Travertine Mart

Hang Out on Google

“We leverage Google Hangouts a lot in our work. We can set up immediate, unplanned chats where we can talk things through and move on, rather than cluttering inboxes with hundreds of messages that may be misinterpreted and take much longer to respond to in writing. Just talk to each other, and drive on with business!” — Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

Track the Productivity Metrics

“At our company, we track all the productivity metrics of our employees. One particular metric we track is the amount of time spent on email. So, as an example, I spent 16 percent of my workday on email. As a general rule, we try to keep email use under 20 percent, and if it’s at anything over that, we look at what that person is doing.” — Liam Martin, Staff.com

Unplug

“Spend 60 minutes offline. At Lemonly, we have a mandatory hour in the day offline. No email, no Skype and no browsing. This is the most productive hour of the day for most of our team, and people focus on larger projects.” — John Meyer, Lemonly

Set Up Your Space For In-Person Collaboration

“We encourage our team to talk to each other to quickly resolve issues instead of waiting on an email answer. This means being respectful of your team and not interrupting unless the question is really worth the interruption. We have found that this helps us remove obstacles more quickly than using email, and it keeps communication flowing internally.” — Sarah Schupp, UniversityParent

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

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Failure is not the opposite of success

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Question: What’s your best tip for overcoming the fear of failure?

Diversify

“When I have many irons in the fire, I feel far less desperation around the success of any one. In fact, it is their cumulative successes that has created our brand identity at RTC.” — Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

Embrace a Terrible First Draft

“We tend to compare our own blooper reel to everyone else’s highlights reel. Instead just start with a first draft and embrace the fact it might be terrible. But the second try or draft will be better, the third even better. For me the only failure is not improving (or trying in the first place).” — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

Failure Is Not the Opposite of Success

“If you chose to do something and “failed,” you received valuable feedback on what to do or not to do in the future. If you chose not to do something (this most often takes the form of “waiting” or “thinking about it”), you are guaranteed to be in the same position until you decide to do something about it. Failure is progress. Stagnation is what should be feared.” — Brennan White, Cortex

Failure Is Growth

“The risks of starting and running a business are great, and there are times when you may be tempted to throw in the towel. However, it’s important to remind yourself that with every failure you experience in business, there is another lesson learned that will aid your company and team moving forward.” — Zach Cutler, Cutler PR

Travel Will Broaden Your Perspective

“Go to the Third World, get out of your bubble and realize that even if you fail, life is not so bad.” — Raaja Nemani, BucketFeet

You Won’t Succeed Without Overcoming

“If fear of failure is disabling you from trying or starting at all, then you won’t succeed or truly fail. Instead, you will remain the same — which in the business world is as close to failure as you can get without calling it that. Realize that by encouraging a fear of failure, you have failed yourself and your business because you will neither succeed nor improve with lessons learned.” — Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize

So What If You Fail?

“Most entrepreneurs are playing a high-risk game, so fear of failure comes with the territory. In the worst case scenario, you fail, but so what? It will free up your time to work on your next business, and you will have more knowledge about starting and running a business. Just remember: fear makes you human, and when you hit rock bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.” — Nikki Robinson, Gloss and Glam

Regret Is Worse Than Failure

“When I fear failure, one thing that never fails to overcome that fear is thinking about the terrible feeling of regret. Regret lasts much longer than failure, and it is a thousand times worse. When you fear failure and quit, be warned that regret will always be right around the corner.” — Phil Chen, Systems Watch

Failure Is Like Practice

“I try to think of failure like exercise or practice. You’re going to do things, and you’re going to be terrible at first. The more you do it, the better you will get as time goes on. You will learn a lot if you look at failure as practice.” — Henry Balanon, Protean Payment

You Must Fail to Learn Success

“Do something incorrectly. Make a mistake. Mess up. Then, learn from it. Don’t run from the failure. Evaluate your shortcomings, and use that to propel yourself into your future endeavors. If you never fail, you will never know when you’ve reached true success.” — Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Leadership Tips for Women in Tech

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Being a woman in the fast-growing tech space can work to your benefit

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The tech sector is a notoriously difficult place to be a woman. A congressional report shows that only 7% of women-founded businesses receive venture capital funding. Every time we turn around, it seems there’s another gaffe that causes a rise within the community — this ranges from major companies’ lack of women in board positions to distasteful overheard conversations.

While most everyone in the tech sector has an opinion on the issue, for me, being a woman in the fast-growing tech space has actually paid off. In fact, I think that in most ways, being a female in tech has worked to my benefit.

Maybe it’s the dynamic between me and my co-founder Eileen Murphy Buckley, or the fact that we’re an ed-tech company that operates in a female-dominated industry (nearly two-thirds of teachers in the U.S. are women). I’d like to think it’s because we built an amazing product that helps great teachers teach better. So far, all signs point to the fact that we’re doing something right: ThinkCERCA is now available in schools nationwide, and we’ve secured $1.5 million in funding. We were a graduate of the Impact Engine Accelerator’s inaugural class, and we won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Literacy Courseware Challenge in July 2013.

So how can you navigate the complex male-dominated tech world and succeed?

Combine Skill Sets

You have to be strategic about whom you partner with and bring onto your team. Our biggest success had nothing to do with gender. It had to do with our team’s unique combination of skills. I come from an entrepreneurial background, and have years of experience taking businesses from concept to launch, growing them in both revenue and size. Eileen is a teacher turned entrepreneur, and the former director of curriculum and instruction for a major school system. So while I brought the entrepreneurial know-how, Eileen brought the industry expertise and a firm basis of pedagogy and research. This helped us create a product that principals, teachers and students really need. Her deep knowledge continues to help us meet our core goal: helping students achieve college and career readiness.

I believe it’s this combination of skills that has not only helped us build a successful business, but also secure funding.

Never Shy Away From the Hard Stuff

So much of our success can be attributed to our dedication to our customers. Sometimes that means going against what others are telling you to do. While the ed-tech market continues to boom, there’s still the age-old problem of the chicken and the egg. Several investors wanted ThinkCERCA to be something it was not. They told us we either had to be a content publisher or a technology platform. Despite this feedback, based on our expertise and what our customers were telling us they needed, we decided to be both. Technology alone wasn’t the answer. Content alone wasn’t either. Focusing on both, and using a research-based approach, we have carved out a place in the ed-tech ecosystem and are poised for continued and rapid growth.

Build a Team of Mentors and Advocates

While Eileen and I have a great partnership, we have strived and will continue to work to create a team that complements our skills and builds off of what the two of us have created. We now have 16 people at ThinkCERCA whose expertise ranges from technology to sales to marketing. In addition, we’ve had an incredible group of mentors and advisors, such as Chuck Templeton, the former Managing Director of the Impact Engine accelerator. Our mentors have provided the encouragement we need but also given us hard-nosed doses of reality from time to time. Our mentors aren’t the people who always tell us what we want to hear. They’re always looking out for us and telling us what we need to hear.

As our business has grown, so have we. When we came together, Eileen was “the educator” and I was “the entrepreneur.” Now, we have both learned and have each assumed both roles. We are able to fluidly assume the voice of the customer and the voice of the business, which allows us to brainstorm and problem solve, and — most importantly — switch hit. Thanks to our complementary skill sets, dedication to our customers, and our refusal to accept the stereotypical limits that go along with being a woman in tech, ThinkCERCA is doing great things for the future of education.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Small Habits Can Transform Your Life

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Don’t let little time wasters or poor habits bring down your performance

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When you’re starting a business as a young entrepreneur, it seems like there are an infinite number of tasks to juggle. That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of the details, no matter how tiny or tedious. Small changes, like reducing the amount of time you spend each day managing email or your remote team, can quickly add up, meaning you can spend your time growing your business instead of your to-do list.

Managing Time Wasters

One of the most insidious time sucks in the modern workplace is at your fingertips every day, and worse, it’s legitimately work related. Ask almost anyone what they spend the most time on while at work, and the answer is bound to be email. Email is the basis of communication in the 21st century workforce. Why not make sure you’re being as efficient as possible when you’re doing something so important?

Professional email etiquette is just as crucial as efficiency, and it’s more than just good manners; it’s good management. For instance, knowing how to start and end a professional email takes a lot of the guesswork out of communicating with co-workers, clients and customers. A professional greeting lets the recipient know that the topic is business, and a cordial and appropriate sign-off can eliminate the need for unnecessary responses as well as the need to go back and read them.

Knowing when to CC or BCC someone can also go a long way in saving time on email distribution. Create folders to keep all emails of a certain type together, and regularly archive emails that you have handled but that still contain information you may need to refer to later. Email search will also save you tons of time when tracking down old emails, so make regular use of this feature even if your inbox is completely organized.

Checking your email the right way can also help keep you on task. A good way to do this is to set aside certain points of the day to check your email, and check it at only those times — if that’s realistic for your situation. Try setting your email program to only check for messages at your decided times if self-control isn’t enough to keep you from clicking that envelope.

Developing Good Habits

Structuring your day and managing your workflow are the two pillars of any successful productivity strategy. Tasks should be outlined at the beginning of every day or at the end of the previous day, and nobody in the office should ever be unsure of what they are supposed to be doing. Setting productivity goals at the start of each day gives both you and your employees concrete objectives to work toward instead of an endless procession of menial tasks.

Good physical habits are often an underrated part of an entrepreneur’s success. As clichéd as it may sound, a good diet, moderate exercise and the appropriate amount of sleep will actually help you feel better and miss work less often, maximizing your potential as a leader and decision maker. Work habits are important as well, and business owners in particular must evaluate their methods on a regular basis to ensure they’re still best for the business. A clean physical and digital workspace minimizes distractions and promotes clarity of mind, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

Putting your business in the best position for success means managing your resources wisely, and time is the most valuable and irreplaceable asset a business has. Time truly is money, and making sure not to waste either in the early stages of growth can make the difference for your company.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Questions You Should Never Hesitate to Ask

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Do you know how your employees are doing? If not, you may be asking them the wrong questions

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What is one question every boss should ask employees regularly? We asked several bosses to chime in.

Do You Have Everything You Need?

“You want to empower and equip your employees to go out and execute to the best of their abilities at all times. Asking your employees regularly about their needs will help you discover any hidden inefficiencies or dependencies that might be preventing your employees from performing at an optimal level.” — Matt Ehrlichman (@mattehrlichman), Porch

What Can Be Improved?

“Asking employees which aspects of your business can be improved upon accomplishes two crucial things: You get free and immediate feedback from the people who know you best, and employees know that you value their opinions.” — Brennan White (@Brenomics), Cortex

What Did You Accomplish This Week?

“It is crucial to have a handle on what your employees are working on and accomplishing regularly. If an employee isn’t accomplishing anything, then what is he good for?” — Josh Weiss (@bluegala), Bluegala

Are You Happy?

“People who are doing what they love and who feel supported produce far better work and do so more efficiently. Support a happy work environment, and your productivity will improve.” — Alexis Wolfer (@AlexisWolfer), The Beauty Bean

What Do You Love About Your Job?

“My job as a leader is to scale what my employees love about their work with RTC and replace them in areas of their job that aggravate them or simply don’t bring them joy. In most businesses, employees love 20 percent of what they’re doing and tolerate the rest. We’ve been able to flip those percentages around, and our staff are inspired to bring their A-game because of it.” — Corey Blake (@CoreyBlake9000), Round Table Companies

How Am I Doing?

“It’s a simple question: How am I doing as a leader? Your employees are a reflection of yourself and a reflection of the company. An honest answer will open any door that needs opening.” — Kevin Cauley, Advanced Media

What’s Keeping You Up at Night?

“This question can be incredibly eye-opening. You get to hear about stress at work (and sometimes at home), which affects the employee’s productivity and performance. You can then work with the employee to figure out how to address the situation.” — Bhavin Parikh (@bkparikh), Magoosh Inc

Are You Having Fun?

“In order to be successful, employees need to be passionate and engaged. It’s important to me that everyone at my company is excited about what we do and enjoys being a part of our team. Even when things get crazy and we’re all swamped, I’m still having fun, and I want to know that my employees are, too. When they stop having fun, that’s a sign that something has to shift.” — David Ehrenberg (@EarlyGrowthFS), Early Growth Financial Services

How Are You Spending Your Time?

“The majority of the time, what management thinks is happening day to day and what is actually happening are two totally different things. Understanding what an employee’s day looks like can help lead to conversations about better processes, work load balance and new techniques for approaching daily issues.” — Kim Kaupe (@kimkaupe), ZinePak

Did you feel challenged?

“While you are striving to build and sustain your growing company, it’s important to remember that keeping a motivated and devoted team is key to your company’s success. Making sure employees are challenged and involved in core company projects and decision making is a great way to achieve employee satisfaction.” — Zach Cutler (@CutlerPRteam), Cutler PR

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

9 Ways Daily Mindfulness Will Help You Succeed

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Long story short, enjoy the journey

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Many of us are drawn to the peace and happiness promised by a life of mindfulness, but we often abandon it in our daily lives because practicing mindfulness can seem at odds with our desire to succeed.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are nine simple ways that incorporating mindfulness into your busy work life can actually help you succeed:

  1. Forgive and forget. Workplace politics are draining, and a waste of time. Don’t let yourself get sucked into drama. Save your mental energy for your own success by forgiving those who slight you, forgetting who said what about whom, and moving on to more important things.
  2. Breathe before you blast. Try not to shoot off emails when you’re angry. Take a deep breath first and reflect on what’s behind your anger. Anger-driven emails almost always do more harm than good, to sender and receiver alike.
  3. Stop being ‘judgy.’ Mistakes are an opportunity to learn, not an excuse to look at yourself or others with negativity. Assessing mistakes from a neutral perspective allows you and your team to grow from them. Harping on them only serves to bring you (and those around you) down.
  4. Do what you want. Mindfulness gurus often talk about the idea of “intention.” But what does intention really mean? It means to make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. And to do what you want. If you feel like you are wasting time in your current occupation, stop doing it and start something new.
  5. Salute the sun. Starting your morning with a quiet mind will help you be more effective throughout the day. Carve out time in the mornings — before the day’s madness ensues — to do a few sun salutations, eat a leisurely breakfast, go for a jog or engage in whichever activity helps you to still your mind.
  6. Salute your enemies. The word “namaste” means “I bow to the divine in you.” Having respect for your enemies will help you learn from their strengths and be more objective about your own weaknesses. So salute your enemies. You may find yourself with fewer of them if you do.
  7. Take victory in stride. It’s important to celebrate milestones. But don’t get addicted to them. If you let yourself become too attached to your victories, you will be less able to cope with defeat. And the ability to persevere through failure is essential to success.
  8. Sleep more. According to the Dalai Lama, “Sleep is the best meditation.” Get more of it.
  9. Enjoy the journey. Life is short, and you will spend most of it working. Work can either be depressing, or it can be an incredible ride. It’s up to you. The more you enjoy what you do, the better you will be at it.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Ways to Stay Focused at Work

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You can never get everything done, but you can set up productive habits

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As the owner and CEO of a successful business, I’m constantly pulled in many directions. Our salespeople need information, a client calls with an issue or I’m due downtown for an industry meeting. To keep on top of it all — and stay sane — I’ve developed 5 daily habits that help keep me one step ahead.

  1. Set three daily priorities. Each day, my priorities vary. If I’m at a client’s office, I’m engrossed in what they need; yet when I’m in the office, a variety of matters need my attention. Each day, I try to write down the three things that must be achieved that day. This helps me keep focus on what I truly need to get done — and feel good about my accomplishments. Naturally, life gets in the way, but the trick is to set attainable expectations.
  2. Reduce interruptions. This is incredibly hard to do, but very important. My entire team is remote, so when I’m in the office, I don’t have to worry about anyone physically interrupting me … but I do have electronic interruptions. To reduce these, I try to spend an hour a day without email, the phone or instant messaging. There are days I can’t make this happen, but it’s important to find a way to reduce interruptions when I haven’t finalized my daily priorities.
  3. Check email less frequently. Time management experts recommend checking email only a few times a day rather than every five minutes. This is a great tip! I generally check email early in the morning before the day begins, then periodically in between meetings and at the end of the day. When traveling or waiting for someone, I check email on my phone. The point is this: I am not a slave to email; if I were, nothing else would get done.
  4. Rely on my CRM. I preach automation and integration to my clients because I know it makes a huge difference in keeping them on track, thereby saving time and money. In my own business, the best tool we use is our CRM, QuickBase. We chose QuickBase because it can be customized to meet our needs. It keeps track of clients and prospects, monitors their activities, manages proposals, contracts and signatures, and sends reminders for various activities that we need to do. In addition to sales and prospect management, there are project management and HR components that allow us to stay on top of all the activities going on in our business.
  5. Set a timer. One of my team members set up his computer to announce the hour, sort of like an old fashioned cuckoo clock. I recently adopted his habit. It allows me to keep better track of time when I’m knee-deep in a project. An important side benefit is that it reminds me to eat; I no longer get the afternoon doldrums because I forgot to eat lunch.

Remember, you can never get everything done — I call that “job security.” But, having some simple daily habits to improve productivity means I have more control over my day with more time spent on the activities that brings me and my company the biggest results.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Things You Should Definitely Do Before New Year’s Eve

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Don’t forget to do the following before you unplug

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Question: What is one thing entrepreneurs forget to automate, systemize, or build processes around before they shut down for holidays?

Finances

“Before you take off, ensure that the finances of your business are handled, including paying employees, accepting automated payments from clients, handing pay failures and paying your own invoices. By automating, you won’t return to an empty bank account and overdue bills.” — Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

Time Management

“Entrepreneurs and business owners don’t plan on not being busy. Holidays are meant for friends and family, and although we need to see business boom, you can still plan to focus on your social time without the distractions of a phone, tablet or laptop. Plan your days to be carefree, and “budget” time to check in with work — not the other way around.” — Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group

Holiday Shipping and Returns

“Clearly communicating holiday shipping and return information before shutting down is crucial to customer conversions and satisfaction. You can do this in several ways. Your can use language such as, “final day to order to receive by Christmas” on product descriptions and shipping pages. You can also set up an email autoresponder for the emails typically associated with customer questions.” — Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Customer Support

“You can’t assume that your customers aren’t working just because you’ve taken off for the holidays. You can’t even assume that your customers celebrate the same holidays that you do. So make sure your customers can at least get a basic level of assistance while you’re away. Even writing up fixes for the most common problems they might encounter is a step in the right direction.” — Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

Proper Notifications

“Make sure you clearly communicate to people that you’ll be out of office, whether it’s through an email autoresponder or a message you post on your Facebook page. As long as you take the due diligence to announce your impending shut down, your customers and partners will be mostly satisfied with their inability to reach you. ” — Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

Team Vacation Tracking

“Because our teammates have different dates they are taking off during the holidays, we wanted to be respectful of everyone’s days off. So, we had everyone update the company calendar with the dates they will be available and unavailable during the holidays.” — Nanxi Liu, Enplug

This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Tips for Taking Some Real Time Off Before the New Year

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There is never going to be a perfect time to take a break from your business

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Question: What’s one tip you’d give a fellow business owner who wants to take some real time off before the new year?

Do It

“If your business can’t run without your presence for a week or two, then you have bigger issues at hand. With that being said, take some time to get refreshed, gain perspective and return to work with a clear head and new ideas. ” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Book Your Trip Now

“If you want to guarantee your time off, then book your trip now. Put it on the calendar, and make the trip non-negotiable by booking with others. It’s inevitable that something will come up attempting to deter your plans. However, when we commit to others, there’s an accountability that doesn’t exist otherwise. ” — Antonio Neves, THINQACTION

Automate Your Processes

“Want to create a situation where you can leave for good amounts of time? Great! Automate your processes. I don’t just mean turning what is manually done into a digital program — although that helps as well. You need to alter the processes that you are involved in to function when you can’t be there. If your business falls apart with your absence, you need to rethink your strategy.” — Adam Callinan, Beachwood Ventures

Mirror Your Clients

“Take time off when your clients take time off. For a lot of people, this is during Christmas or Thanksgiving because work typically slows for everyone. For most businesses — other then retail — November and December are generally slow periods.” — Phil Chen, Systems Watch

Leave Your Electronic Devices at Home

“Take a brief, electronic-free vacation. Commit to avoiding the Internet, and only use your smartphone for phone calls. Arrange for someone back at the office to handle all responsibilities, and tell them to communicate with you only in extreme emergencies.” — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

Talk to Your Family First

“I don’t consider spending time with my family at the holidays to be a true vacation — but it can be crucial to healthy family relationships. Before you plan your time off for this time of year, I’d suggest finding out what your family has planned and your obligations to those plans.” — Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

Share the Wealth

“Take the time you need, but before you do, make sure your employees know that you value their hard work as well. Encourage your team to strategically recharge, and make sure you’re providing the means for this.” — Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

Implement a Good Leadership Structure

“As executives, it’s our responsibility to structure our business, so we can enjoy some form of balance in our lives. This means having the right leadership structure in place beneath us, so we can take some time off without the whole thing falling apart. But, this only applies if your startup is in a good place! If it isn’t, then there’s no vacation or sleep for you until it is.” — Danny Boice, Speek

Do a Trial Run

“Before I go on vacation, I do a trial run. I unplug for a “mini” vacation to test it out. I’ll immediately find out how well I delegated, who needed something from me and what came to a halt when I left. All these problems come to light through trial and error. Do a trial run, fix the issues and then do the real thing. You’ll be able to more comfortably disconnect.” — Phil Dumontet, DASHED

Make Sure Your Clients Feel Supported

“If you have daily interaction with your clients and customers, be sure to make them feel supported, and have a strong backup plan in place just in case. Disconnecting is valuable for your sanity, but it can be really scary for your clients who rely on you regularly. By ensuring that they feel supported and have direction on what to do while you’re out, you’ll be sure to come back to happy clients.” — Erin Blaskie, Next Dev Media

This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

Should You Work With Family Members?

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How to answer one of the most difficult questions in business

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Question: Working with family members: yes or no, and why?

No: How You Get Along Personally and Professionally Might Be Different

“My wife has been my business partner at my startup for the past four years. I’ve been lucky enough to find a wonderful partner in her, both personally and professionally. However, I never advise working with family. It’s too risky. Getting along with a family member personally is no indication of how you work together professionally. Money and business can damage your relationship. It’s not worth it.” — Eric Bahn, Hustle Con Media

Yes: You Can Be Compeletely Honest With Each Other

“My twin brother is my partner in my oldest company, and it’s great because we can be honest with one another, and I trust him significantly more than I’ve trusted partners in the past. It also just so happens that our skill sets are completely opposite and complementary. If you can share a womb, you can share a business!” — Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

Yes: They Are the Most Loyal

“We actually have 10 family members that work with us, and they are very loyal and always watch our backs. Although, I will say it is very important to define roles and boundaries with family immediately. They do tend to push the limits of what is acceptable if rules are not clearly defined.” — Laura Land, Accessory Export, LLC

Yes: It’s Less Expensive Than Using Consultants

“My immediate family members each work in the marketing, entertainment and retail industries, which is the complete opposite of my area of expertise (finance). They were able to give me constructive criticism when I ventured into their major areas of expertise, and their advice and help has allowed me to grow the business without having to pay for an expensive consultant.” — Derek Capo, Next Step China

Maybe: Your Relationship Could Get Stronger, or Get Worse

“It depends. If you put family first and sure you always will (and they do too), then it can create complications and risks. But if you’re willing to accept those complications and risks, it could also enhance your relationship with your family.” — Dan Price, Gravity Payments

Yes: There Are Fewer Trust Issues

“We love hiring family at our companies. The upside is that you know you don’t have to worry about trust issues. Having that out of the way is a huge plus. However, you must make it clear that business is business. This means not taking things personally and accepting criticism just as you would from any other co-worker.” — Peter Awad, GoodBlogs

No: The Risk of Losing The Relationship Is too Great

“While I love my family, starting a business is a risky proposition. While it’s nice to think about the upside of your family getting rich, I prefer to think about hedging risk. The downside of losing money — and possibly a friend if there is contention — is too great to ignore.” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Maybe: Only if You Can Separate Personal and Business

“Working with family can be great, and it can be terrible. If you and your potential co-working family members have the ability to completely separate personal and business, it can work well. But if you can’t, which is really difficult, it can be disastrous. If you do indeed take the plunge, it’s important you understand that other workers will view your relationship as if there is special treatment.” — Adam Callinan, Beachwood Ventures

No: People Are Different at Home and at Work

“The people you know and love in the family room can be polar opposites of themselves when they’re sitting in a conference room. People sometimes act differently in the workplace, and you might not like what you see or hear. If you value your family relationships, be prepared to experience another side of your family that you haven’t seen. Depending on the person, this could be a good or bad thing.” — Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Yes: Family Will Stick With You Through Good and Bad

“Family is the strongest bond that you will ever make in your life. Friends may come and go at their own convenience, but family will stick through the good and the bad, which naturally make good business partnerships. However, you need to set clear expectations up front to ensure that each family member involved understands what’s expected of him or her.” — Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey

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