In elementary school, one of my teachers stood out, with a can do attitude and an easy smile. She would encourage us during the hardest parts of our studies, reminding us not to cheat ourselves. What she meant by this was taking the easy way out, while often a tempting option, cheats your future self of the benefits of the learning experience. The toughest struggles can stand in front of us seeming as impassible as a cliff face. It’s only after struggling up that incline step by step, pulling ourselves along as needed, that we can arrive at the other side of a dilemma with the full benefit of the experience behind us. This hard won learning usually teaches the most worthwhile lessons in our lives, and thanks to the difficulty inherent in gaining it it is also the last to be forgotten. How small business owners can avoid cheating themselves. A common deterrent to trying something new is not only the fear that things won’t

  The view of Hurricane Irene from space fails to evoke the true meaning of the storm. A flat white disk when safely orbiting above New York state, Irene was a rain lashed, wind whipped reality that small business owners had to deal with, whether they were prepared or not. Hurricanes are becoming a common feature, and thus something that small business owners need to take serious precautions to anticipate, lest they have their business damaged or destroyed without a plan in place for recovery, leaving them waiting on disaster loans to rebuild. Hurricane preparedness does not have to interfere with regular business operations, but business owners and staff should be prepared for the possibility that a hurricane will effect their business and know what their plan of action is if a disaster should occur. Know your zone. In most cities where Hurricanes are a common occurrence, there will be information available regarding evacuation zones. These are typically areas with lower elevation that are more prone

The cloud, free CRM tools, and digital calendars can help small business owners reach levels of organization and efficiency that would be impossible without the benefit of technology. However, much in the same way that e-books can never truly replace a paper copy for some bibliophiles, the utility of physical note taking should not be ignored by small business owners, even in the event that they are also using digital organizational aids. There are multiple reasons to take notes, and in lieu of pen and paper, many tablets support handwriting style data entry, which for some business owners compounds even further on the utility of physical note taking by converting it into organized digital outlines. It can help business owners remember important points more easily. The act of physically writing is linked to stronger retention of information, and according to lifehacker, allows for a deeper connection with the meaning behind what is written in comparison with typed notations. In business, when recall of important details is

The LA Times summed it up in their article lamenting the foul-heavy, ungraceful play style that the Brazilian team espoused during their run at the World Cup before the match even began. Now, with Germany having punished the host team with a final score of 7-1, there’s not much to do but take a step back and apply some lessons from the debacle. The Brazilians became famous in the soccer world for producing a long string of dynamic players known for their ability to play with a trademark grace, but in the semi-final match, just one game away from the final, something went very wrong to the level that it could not solely be blamed on the absence of two key players. Stick to what you do well when in doubt. One major pitfall that business owners can often stumble into is deciding to change their game to an extent that is bad for business. This is the same issue that plagued the Brazilians. Usually so graceful

While working as a small business owner, taking a vacation can become something that seems less important in the face of all the responsibilities of the day to day. Fantasizing about a week off can become the closest thing to a break that business owners allow themselves, but without taking any break whatsoever business owners can become stressed to a level that is actually detrimental to the health of their business and themselves. Even small rewards can make a real difference. Instead of working themselves to a point where they may make major errors due to overexertion, business owners should consider resetting their mental clocks with a micro-vacation. A micro-vacation refers to taking a vacation that, while only lasting for a short time from a couple days to just a half day- allows for some relaxation away from the demands of the true work week. What should business owners plan into a micro-vacation? A short vacation can still be a reprieve for small business owners provided

Hiring is tough for small business owners. For one thing, it takes a long time to process the large number of applications that almost any well written job posting will get. Another problem is that a resume alone doesn’t tell the whole story behind a candidate’s qualifications, but, unless it is for a very specialized position, calling in every single applicant to interview may not be possible. What should you look for as positive indicators on a resume? It will of course vary depending on the resumes you are looking at, but here are a few guidelines that may be able to provide some additional clarity to small business owners in doubt. A concise and well organized layout. One issue that is common in resume writing is the tendency to want to put too much information on a single sheet of paper. A full paragraph for each piece of job experience can become tedious to read over and over, making bullet points, clean sentences and a

As a small business grows, staying in direct contact with employees can become more difficult on a day to day basis, necessitating strong mangers to be put in place in order to unite different departments and report to the owner of the small business. Along with a larger managerial infrastructure comes more standardized processes of evaluation, including annual or bi-annual formal evaluations that are a fixture of corporate life. While evaluations are usually dreaded on the part of employees, they can be beneficial if handled with competent managers in place who are focused on meeting business goals and not on the idea of exercising power of employees in an arbitrary fashion. Be willing to answer employee questions. As a small business owner, you realize that your employees work for you, but you may not actively think about the fact that by steering the course of the organization that they work for you are responsible to them as well. Asking questions is generally a good sign among

Managing employees is not an easy feat, especially within the often hectic environment of a growing small business. However, it is precisely in this type of environment that the engagement levels of employees have the biggest overall impact on productivity, since with fewer staff and many different things that still need to be done, whether or not an employee can be counted on to get things done and stay accountable will have a disproportionate impact on the productivity of their peers and ultimately the entire organization. For this reason, cultivating employee engagement should be a high priority for business owners, with attention paid to the positive and negative effects of encouragement on each member of staff. Give feedback. This is an often stated staple of management technique, however in a small business context where communications are generally quite fluid and occur regularly regardless, business owners may not feel that there is a need to give feedback within the thick of business operations. However, this discounts the

School is out for the Summer for many College students across the country, and a large number of them are either currently interning or searching for an internship to gain valuable skills and experience they can take back to school with them in the Fall. There are many benefits to having an internship program, for both business owners and for the interns themselves, so if your business is looking for some extra help with entry level tasks, it can be a good idea to take advantage of the flood of college age talent returning home over the Summer looking for something productive to do. Should you choose to bring on some interns, as a courtesy to them (and to ensure that you can get some new ones next year) here are a few things that you should take care of in order to make everyone’s experience a positive one. Make sure they understand the compensation you are offering. Interns are able to either work for a

One of the main challenges of managing projects with remote employees and contractors is the fact that face to face communication is not always an option, yet it is through face time that many breakthroughs are able to happen. Often, a project will be broken up between people who communicate with a project manager, but rarely with each other. Unfortunately, that can often lead to a slower rate of progress due to a need for revisiting and tweaking results. Imagine assigning a team to assemble a puzzle. Each team member is given a number of pieces and told to meet up again when they have finished putting their share together. The problem is that each team member is both removed from the insights of the other people on the project and they also will have a harder time envisioning what the fully assembled picture will look like. The metaphor of separate rooms with puzzle pieces represents the challenges faced by a team of remote workers.

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