I recently left a company that was having some personnel problems. Shortly after my leaving I heard that they made everyone who remained sign a document stating that they would not solicit any of their current coworkers to go work somewhere else. This includes passing on an email about a job opportunity that a current coworker might find more fulfilling.
I worked there for quite a while and still would like to see them do well, but this makes me a little concerned about that company’s future. Consider which company you would work harder for and would feel more loyalty toward:
A) A company that tries to hide opportunities from you and threatens legal action if you tell a work friend about an opportunity the friend might find really fulfilling, or
B) A company that is so confident that they are providing a superior work environment that they are not afraid of you looking around to see what else is out there.
Something else to consider is that a company that artificially restricts the competition for their workers is sort of sticking its head in the sand. Attrition is an important indicator of problems within a company. By artificially restricting that indicator it’s kind of like ignoring the pain in your side that might be cancer. The longer you wait to deal with it, the worse things are probably getting.
It may seem a little backwards given that the tendency is to try to stop people from leaving, but companies might consider encouraging people to leave on a regular basis with “leaving bonuses” to find out how good of a workplace they are providing.
If a particular person takes the offer, then you probably didn’t want them hanging around dragging down your productivity with a bad attitude anyway. If many people take the offer, then you know you’ve got some work to do in making the workplace better.
But if people aren’t taking the offer, then you know you’re providing a better working environment than anyone else around. Which means you probably have happy productive workers, and consequently happy satisfied customers.
There’s actually at least one company that’s currently doing this, the shoe-seller Zappos.
So what does this have to do with dividend investing?
I often find that when an idea occurs to me, it seems to be a congealing of many things that I’m thinking about at the time. The independent topics and questions all click together and shine light on an idea that I hadn’t seen before.
First, in this case I was considering that a lack of open competition leads a company like my former employer to stop improving and get sick, fat, and slow. So I started thinking about how I could make sure that I was openly competing so that my business, Dividendium, would keep growing and stay healthy, lean, and quick.
Second, I’ve been reading about startups (Paul Graham and Founders at Work), since that’s kind of what Dividendium is. One of the things I’ve read is that if you want to open a shoe store, don’t do it in a town that has no shoe stores. You’re better off choosing one with lots of shoe stores. Why? The cost of educating the consumer has been spread across all of the shoe stores. So your consumer already knows what they want, and in some cases they can even tell you what you should be selling and what you shouldn’t. So I was also thinking about how I can better educate my website users and whom else I can get to help with that.
Third, I’ve been reading about happiness research. There’re lots of interesting implications for investing and finance there, which I’ll get to in another post, but the one that tugged at my thoughts here is that we get lasting happiness from friendships and from helping other people. I’ve noticed this good feeling myself when I get feedback that an article was helpful or some specific advice turned out to be just what a person needed. And it makes me want to work on the site even more. So I was now “selfishly” thinking about how I could be even more helpful to other people, so I can get that good feeling and the extra boost in drive to work on the website.
Fourth, I’ve been looking at how to improve Dividendium as a business. For a website this means increasing traffic to the site. But I wasn’t sure how much more I could grow the traffic. It seems to me that the best indicator for how high traffic can go is what kind of traffic your competitors are getting. So I looked them up. Wow, Dividendium is by far the underdog.
Looking at that from a “glass is half-full” perspective that means it has lots of room to grow. And from my own experience people who consume investing information will generally read as much as they can get. So all those users at the other sites are likely going to be interested in Dividendium as well. They just don’t know about it yet. So now I was thinking about how I could get those other people to know about Dividendium so they can try it out too.
So my goals are to encourage competition, educate users, help more people, and reach the same or higher levels of traffic as my competition.
It seems the best way to accomplish the first and second goals of encouraging competition and educating users is to openly acknowledge the competition and tell you what I see helpful that you can find there. Then if you see something on those sites that you would like to see done slightly differently, like perhaps at a lower price, such as free, let me know at contact us. And I’ll get to work implementing them on Dividendium and hopefully making it a better resource.
And if you agree that it’s a better resource then you can help me out with the third and fourth goals of helping more people and increasing traffic by letting more people know about the site. Evidently one of the bigger factors in search engine rankings and traffic generation is having your site linked on other sites. So for example, if you like this article, use the share links at the bottom to post it to Digg or whatever news aggregation sites you prefer. Or if you like the whole site, suggest it to other people by posting the address (www.dividendium.com) in forums or in the comments sections of blogs or articles that you read. The more external links the site gets, the more traffic it will get and thus the more people it’ll help.
So Who’s the Competition?
The obvious first one is Ex-Dividend.com. They’re actually the reason I created Dividendium in the first place. I didn’t want to pay for their service and figured I could do it just as well or better. I’ve never used their service, but as of this writing it looks like they charge $29.90 for basically the ability to see ex dividend dates, which you can see right here on Dividendium’s ex dividend calendar. If there are other benefits that readers know of, please post them. I also see in their free data that they provide a list of dividends increased and dividends reduced. Since increasing dividends generally points to a healthy company and decreasing dividends generally leads to a lower stock price, these might be good services to watch.
The next one would be Dividend Detective. Harry Domash is a long-time columnist and author and so there’s lots of info on this site including explanations of some of the more specific types of dividend paying companies, like REITs, MLPs, Canadian Royalty Trusts, and Closed End Funds. The site also has a “Big Dividend Stock List”, which is just an alphabetical list of stocks paying between 2.4% and 20%. There is also a “premium feature” that’s a list of the 50 highest yielding stocks on that list, but you can find that here for free on Dividendium’s highest paying dividend stocks. Just move through the list until you get to the 20% area and count off the top 50. Then, there is a premium service of $15 per month that appears to be access to 3 sample portfolios of minimizing risk, fastest growing stocks, and highest yield where they have done their own research and analysis and picked out what they think are good stocks. I don’t know anything about the results of these portfolios, so I can’t comment on the worth of the service.
Another dividend related site is Dividend Investor. The site is nice looking, but just about everything on it is hindered in some way unless you are a paying customer. The cost is $24.99 per month. The offerings I see that they have that aren’t here at Dividendium (yet…) are the stocks that pay monthly dividends, the stocks that have 5, 10, 20 year increasing dividends, and a specific screener that looks for preset criteria. If you think the monthly dividends list sounds interesting, let me know at contact us as I know I can implement that and post it for free if people will find it useful. The remaining two from that list can be done at Kiplinger. They have a sample screen called “Dividend growers” up in the right hand corner, or you can enter your own screening criteria. The “consecutive yrs dividend growth (max 20 yrs)” criterion is the one that is probably most important about that screen. It doesn’t look like it can search on the payout ratio, but it seems like after you narrow the list down you can check the payout ratios on Yahoo fairly easily.
The last one that I’ve been looking at is The Dividend Guy Blog. He’s been writing very consistently for a long while and has lots of excellent information, although it looks like there’s a little bit of confusion between “advertisements” and “sites of interest” on the right side bar, so watch out if you’re clicking around there. The archives are on the bottom of the page. His focus seems to be long-term value investing. In terms of fundamental investing information and sheer content mass, he’s definitely got Dividendium beat. It seems one way you get lots of interest from search engines (and thus traffic) is to post very frequently like every day or multiple times a day. But as I’ve pointed out before, that isn’t always good for the readers. And in this case it also tends to hide some of the better articles, so I find I have to wade through the fluff to get to the meat in some cases. (But maybe you feel that way about my writing. If so, let me know in the comments or at contact us.)
If you know of other sites that you find useful for investing (of any kind, dividend or otherwise, pay or free), please feel free to post them in the comments of this article or any other article if you find them later, even if it’s a site that you run.
And as I said previously let me know if you see a feature that you’d like to see here at Dividendium for free or done a little differently than the site that currently does it. And if you find Dividendium useful, it would really help me out if you could let some people know about it by posting the link at various places on the web. And if you really do find it useful, then you’ll be helping them out as well by telling them about a good tool, and it turns out that can make you feel pretty good, too.