Why Some Business Owners Think Now Is the Time to Sell

This article was originally published by the New York Times on Wed., Dec. 21, 2011.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Looking back, Cyndi Finkle wishes she had sold her craft services company, Sunday Night Dinner, early in 2008 when the economy was booming. With a track record of 30 to 50 percent annual growth for each of the previous five years, it could have been a compelling transaction.

At the time, however, she was not emotionally ready to part with a business she had started in 1997 and built into one of the largest suppliers of services to television crews and casts in Los Angeles. When her husband suggested selling, “I burst into tears and looked at him as if he were telling me to cut off my arm,” Ms. Finkle said. “Then everything changed, and I realized he was right.”

But the recession hit, and Ms. Finkle’s annual revenue dropped sharply along with declining television advertising and production budgets — making it impossible for her to sell. “I’ve had to work really hard the last three years to save my company and get it back, a lot of times working for free,” she said. “It was no longer about building it, it was about keeping it going until things got better.”

When working from home just doesn't work

There's no denying that working remotely provides tremendous benefits, but more organizations are finding that virtual collaboration also comes with significant limitations.

This article was originally published by Fortune.com on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis, contributor

FORTUNE – Once a year, leaders of Community Options come together from its 35 locations for a retreat. The nonprofit organization runs a variety of entrepreneurial ventures that create job opportunities and provide housing for people with disabilities.

At the most recent summit, the chief financial officer was bemoaning the wasted flowers at the organization's New Brunswick, N.J. floral store, due to the inevitable difficulty in managing inventory to meet customer orders.

Listening in, a graphic designer from Community Options' Daily Plan It, which rents shared office space and provides support services such as document shredding, thought they could use the dead, unsold flowers to create potpourri. As a result, Community Options is now launching a line of potpourri, which will be packaged and sold by people with disabilities.

"It's all because a group of people got together and came up with this idea," says Robert Stack, founder and chief executive of Princeton, N.J.-based Community Options. "People play off each other."

How to groom Gen Y to take the company reins

Start talking about younger workers, and pretty soon the word "entitled" comes up. But several companies have started programs to help the younger set learn the corporate ropes.

This article was originally published by Fortune.com on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis, contributor

FORTUNE -- If you want to liven up a group of senior managers, raise the topic of the youngest employees in the workforce. Suddenly, the conversation turns animated, with strong opinions on everything from their flip-flops to their conversational style. "They are always multitasking," managers complain. "And why do they need so much feedback? Can't they just figure it out?"

Sooner or later, the word "entitled" is bound to come up, as executives compare the way they behaved as new workers with the attitudes of the Millennial Generation, those employees born between 1978 and 2000, says Lauren Stiller Rikleen, an inter-generational consultant and author of a new report on Millennial leadership for the Boston College Center for Work and Family.