Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

Special Feature: Why Every Office Should be a Home Office

Now here’s an interesting article about transforming your office into a home office. Ben Lempert’s article, Why Every Office Should be a Home Officeprovides various suggestions for making your office more comfortable, healthy, and conducive to focused work along with advocating for a results-oriented work environment. Take a look at this list and let me know what works for you!

Who doesn’t love a home office? You can show up to work in sweatpants, you can get your laundry done, and you can eat when and what you want. Honestly, it’s awesome.

There are plenty of articles out there telling you how to set up a home office to avoid distractions. But what happens when you have to work in — gulp — an actual office? You know, not at home?

My proposal: start thinking of every office as a “home office.” This means: make every office a place where you can be relaxed and productive, comfortable and focused.

How to do that? Here are some suggestions.

Read more at Why Every Office Should be a Home Office

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Applications of Statistics for Measuring Company Growth

This post was written by Erik Stettler, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

Once you have obtained your top-line growth metrics, the analysis can really begin.
Figure out what aspects of growth you want to measure then create a benchmark.
Start building an analysis process: Weed out red herrings and look towards continual improvement via machine learning.

 

In part as a follow-up to my previous article on how to identify the drivers of growth in businesses, I now want to go further down the rabbit hole and look into how you can then measure the impact of growth initiatives. I will provide some tools for assessing the impact of actions such as product updates, PR, and marketing campaigns on customer growth, retention metrics, and engagement. This represents reflections from my previous work as a statistician, helping companies to assess the impact on their valuation of internal and external events via the reactions of their traded securities.

I believe that statistical impact tools, more commonplace in the hedge fund and Wall Street world, can be of far more use to technology companies for managing growth than how they are currently applied. Due to technology making a range of high-frequency information available to us on user or client behavior, a skilled statistical or data analyst can be a real asset within commercial teams.

There Are Many Ways to Measure the Impact of Growth

As an example of measuring statistical impact on valuation, let’s assume that a publicly-traded company announces a new product and wishes to know the extent to which it impacted its valuation. Estimating the real impact requires accounting for: Read more of this post

Security Check: Are You Ready for a Cyber Attack? [Infographic]

Submitted by Tony Huynh at Siege Media

Edited by Lynn Patra

Doing business online has brought companies not only many opportunities but also many dangers. From attacks on Equifax to Instagram to even the IRS, cybercrime continues to threaten business information, company finances, online reputation, and relationships with customers. The growth in number and complexity of crimes means it’s no longer a matter of if your company will be attacked, but when.

As a small-business owner, you might think a cyber attack would never happen to you or, if it did, would have minimal consequences. Unfortunately, research shows that cyber attacks are a problem for small businesses too—last year alone, 61% of breaches impacted smaller businesses, costing them between $84,000 to $148,000 to rectify the situation. Financial damage is only one part of the equation, as companies also have to deal with the loss of information and trust with customers.

In this age, your organization’s success in the digital economy is tied to your cybersecurity practices. You need a sophisticated, layered strategy that is built into your company operations and takes preventative measures through your password practices, data protection, software, employee training, and compliance standards – all areas that are prone to a cyber attack entry.

Curious to see where your cybersecurity practices stand? Follow this infographic from Varonis to assess each step of your security and uncover any weak spots that need to be improved. Read more of this post

Exploring Evergreen Funds with a VC Investor Who Raised One

This post was written by Alex Graham, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

What Are Open-ended and Evergreen Funds?
How Are These Funds Different from “Traditional” Funds?
What Is Some Advice from Someone Who Has Raised and Operated an Open-ended VC Fund?

 

Earlier in 2018, through Toptal, I worked with Rodrigo Sanchez Servitje from B37 Ventures on a project related to its open-ended VC fund. Such funds are still a relatively unknown and misunderstood type of funding vehicle, with a dearth of “in the trenches” information out there about how they operate. With this article, I am looking to correct that.

As someone who has raised and operated an open-ended VC fund, throughout the piece, I will refer to Rodrigo for invaluable insight regarding B37 Ventures’ experiences.

What Are Open-ended and Evergreen Funds?

In venture capital fundraising, as the adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” For years, funds have toed this line by raising capital through closed-ended vehicles. This refers to a management company raising a set amount from external investors via a limited partnership legal structure for a fixed number of years (typically ten). After this process, the doors close, money is put to work and, at the end date, the fund is wound up and repaid.

Despite investing in disruptive and innovative industries, the landscape of VC fund structures has largely remained unchanged.

The most obvious alternative would be the inverse of a closed-ended fund: an open-ended one. In these such funds, capital is invested directly into an LLC on an ongoing basis with no termination date. It is essentially investing preferred equity into a company. Investors buy units of a fund with a yield attached (the hurdle rate) and they can buy more, or sell, whenever they wish.

This type of fund is also liberally referred to as a permanent capital vehicle or evergreen fund. The ethos between the names is largely the same, in that it’s referring to structures with no end date or fixed capital quotas. A core distinction is that an evergreen fund can recycle returned capital while open-ended funds (like B37 Ventures) distribute to investors. Read more of this post

Special Feature: How to Find the Right Internship — and Make It Work for You

For those finishing up college and planning what to do next, this might be the article for you! In fact, if I had this knowledge way back when I was a college graduate, my life might’ve played out differently. So, I’m sharing this with you because this article, How to Find the Right Internship – and Make It Work for You, written by Clicktime.com administration is that invaluable.

You need experience to get a good job, but you need a job to get good experience. What’s a college student to do?

This is the dilemma of undergrads everywhere. Fortunately, there’s a solution: Internships.

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 95 percent of employers want to hire people with experience. This includes new college grads.

Since college students most likely do not have much in the way of real-world experience to offer an employer, an internship might be the best way to obtain that experience. So, think carefully before you take that summer position waiting tables, and consider an internship in the field you want to enter instead. (Especially one that pays a stipend!)

Once you’ve landed an internship, focus on getting it right. Success here can mean a reference, recommendation letter, or even a permanent job.

Read more at How to Find the Right Internship – and Make It Work for You

Estimating WACC for Private Company Valuation: A Tutorial

This post was written by David Turney, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

Common Roadblocks in Estimating Private Company Discount Rates and How to Overcome Them
Discount Rate Estimation of a Privately-Held Company – Quick Example
Why Would You Need a Discount Rate for Private Company Valuation?

Introduction

Nowadays, an increasing number of companies are opting to stay private for longer, bypassing regulations and public stakeholders. While the total number of US companies continues to grow, the number of those traded on stock exchanges has fallen 45% since peaking 20 years ago. As reported by The Economist in 2017, the number of publicly listed companies was 3,671, down from 7,322 in 1996. Thus, private company valuation has risen to the forefront, especially since it is required for anything from potential acquisitions to corporate restructuring and financial reporting. Understanding how discount rates are estimated and their role in financial decisions is important to both private business owners/operators and investors/valuation professionals. Unlike public company valuation, private company valuation often lacks publicly available data. However, both types of valuation have something in common: usage of the discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis, which requires (1) estimation of future cash flows and (2) a discount rate.

This article focuses on best practices for estimating private company discount rates, or the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), drawing on my 12 years of experience performing private company valuations and various editions of Cost of Capital: Applications and Examples. The discussion begins with an overview of the DCF analysis and the WACC, followed by detailed instruction around the components of the WACC. While this article will cover WACC as taught in accounting classes and the CFA program, it will also demonstrate how best to handle challenges encountered in practice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of classroom rules break down in the real world. And, since variables for estimating WACC are not simply pulled from a database, much analysis and judgment is required. Read more of this post

A History of Projections About the Future of Work [Infographic]

Now the following infographic is very interesting as it illustrates various projections (both optimistic and pessimistic) about ways in which technological advancement would affect our lives. In doing so, the creators of this infographic argue that many of these have not come to pass. With that said, there are various points that you might agree and disagree with. Personally, I don’t think conceiving of public education as a “protracted imprisonment” is too far off the mark. Ha!

However, take a look at this and let me know what you think! Read more of this post

Risk vs. Reward: A Guide to Understanding Software Containers

The original post was written by Jonathan Bethune, Python Developer for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Those of us who are old enough can remember a day when software was delivered primarily by physical media. The spread of broadband internet and smartphones has led us to the age of the web service—software hosted in the cloud accessed by user clients such as browsers and apps.

Not too long ago, web applications were run directly on physical machines in private data centers. For ease of management, these applications were usually monolithic—a single large server would contain all of the back-end code and database. Now, web hosting services like Amazon and the spread of hypervisor technology have changed all of that. Thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and tools like VirtualBox, it has become easy to package an entire OS in a single file.

Using services like EC2, it has become easy to package machine images and string together sets of virtual servers. Along came the microservices paradigm—an approach to software architecture wherein large monolithic apps are broken up into smaller focused services that do one thing well. In general, this approach allows for easier scaling and feature development as bottlenecks are quicker to find and system changes easier to isolate. Read more of this post

Advanced Financial Modeling Best Practices: Hacks for Intelligent, Error-Free Modeling

This post was written by Alberto Mihelcic Bazzana, Finance Expert for Toptal.

Submitted by Michelle Young at Toptal

Edited by Lynn Patra

Executive Summary

What Are Recommended Strategies for Building Financial Models?
The Top Tricks and Tips for User-Friendly, Smart, Error-Free Modeling
How Can a Finance Expert Help You/Your Company?

Introduction: A Financial Model

Financial models are an indispensable part of every company’s finance toolkit. They are spreadsheets that detail the historical financial data of a given business, forecast its future financial performance, and assess its risks and returns profile. Financial models are typically structured around the three financial statements of accounting—namely: income statementbalance sheet, and cash flow statement. The management of most corporations rely, at least in part, on the details, assumptions, and outputs of financial models, all of which are critical to said companies’ strategic and capital decision-making processes.

This article serves as a step-by-step guide for the novice and intermediate finance professional looking to follow expert best-practices when building financial models. For the advanced financial modeler, this article will also showcase a selection of expert-level tips and hacks to optimize time, output, and modeling effectiveness. Let’s begin. Read more of this post

My answer to a Quora question: How do you handle someone stealing your parking spot?

Recently I was named one of Quora’s Top Writers for 2018. I’m not exactly sure what the standards for this award were as I’ve witnessed other members’ confusion on this matter. However, to commemorate, I’m sharing an answer which enjoyed a surprising degree of popularity.

At first blush, this subject might seem unrelated to this blog’s theme. However, knowing and being able to employ underhanded tricks to oust someone out of your designated residential parking spot may help you arrive to work on time the next day just as this did for me. Enjoy this excerpt from How do you handle someone stealing your parking spot? by Lynn Patra: Read more of this post

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