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NASA employees Devin Kipp and Steve Sell, on the timing of the parachute deployment during Curiosity Mars landing, at a news briefing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 10, 2012. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
NASA employees Devin Kipp and Steve Sell, on the timing of the parachute deployment during Curiosity Mars landing, at a news briefing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., Aug. 10, 2012. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Small Business Briefing

What you can learn from Mars team training Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Lessons from space

NASA wants humans to set foot on Mars by the 2030s. Those who choose to accept the mission, Entrepreneur.com states, will face some of the same challenges as startups and small businesses.

“We offer classes on cross-cultural training, conflict management, self care and self-management, and we review teamwork lessons from past expeditions,” says Walter Sikes, an aerospace psychologist for the Behavioral Health and Performance Element at NASA.

It’ll be quite some time before we reach 2030. In the meantime, Entrepreneur has come up with four skills related to the Mars mission to help your company’s team become more efficient and effective now:

  • Teach people to follow before they lead.
  • Don't let conflict get in the way of a goal.
  • Build a shared mental model.
  • Debrief after mistakes.

China’s under-the-radar tech powerhouse

Forbes magazine calls him “China’s Steve Jobs.” Two years ago, Lei Jun founded mobile phone business Xiaomi Technology, and in August he said revenue in the first half of the year had reached nearly $1 billion, with more than three million smartphones sold. The Irish Times writes that he’s “fast emerging as China’s most successful tech entrepreneur.” But Mr. Lei is atypical. He did not study in the United States, he doesn’t speak English, he tends to keep his investments close to home, and he generally avoids getting involved in higher-profile companies. The result? According to China Daily, Xiaomi has increased its staffing levels to 1,400 employees from its initial six.

Failing to fight the good fight

In a guest post for VentureBeat, entrepreneur Mario Schulzke concludes that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is “irrelevant.” For the past few weeks Mr. Schulzke and two companions have been organizing events for entrepreneurs in all lower 48 states. “The only way one can organize three events per week across three different states is by reaching out to local organizations and influencers to ask for their help in choosing the right speakers and venues and to get butts in seats,” he writes. There’s been a lot of support from outside organizations along the way. But local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce, he points out, have responded to his requests in one of three ways: They don’t answer or call back. They hang up on us. They tell us they organize events themselves, so this is competitive to them. “All three are equally troubling for an organization that publicly states its goal is to fight for business.”


Lean Startup Vancouver presents ...

The Entrepreneurs (The Lean Crossroads) is an event for the startup community in Vancouver. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, an emerging business, a non-profit organization, or an intrepreneur, this session will touch on several “high-impact” subjects. It takes place at the Fletcher Challenge Theatre on Aug. 21 from 6 pm to 9 pm. Tickets are going fast.

Engage with your audience

IABC Toronto holds its kick-off professional development session of the season on Sept. 20, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the downtown Hilton Hotel. Whether you are working on 2013 communication plans, always on the hunt for new and creative ways to engage with your audiences, are a social media junkie, or just an interested IABC member or non-member, check out Successful Social Media. Prices range from $35 to $60.


How to design an org chart

Most owners define their business by the people in the existing positions and not by what the business actually needs. The business doesn’t need “Tom – President” and “Mary – General Manager.” And it doesn’t need to know what Tom or Mary do in a day. This way of thinking about an organization is backwards. Instead, your small business’ organizational chart should assign the names of individuals at the end of the process.


What it means to be a mentor

In March, 2010, Report on Small Business asked three mentors to write opinion pieces. They were tasked with the following: Why is mentoring important, and how did you first get involved in it? Here are links to their essays.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.comJoin The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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