With the holidays here, small business owners aren’t only making sales; some are making purchases of gifts for staff, business partners and mentors. When it comes to picking a perfect, business appropriate gift, there are a few elements that should influence the type of gift that you get, those being the level of familiarity you have with the recipient, their relationship to you and your business, and how much you know about their personal preferences. Giving a gift during the holidays, even a small gift, demonstrates your commitment to a successful relationship and can be a nice way to show your partners that you value them. The gift you get should reflect your relationship with the recipient. The more time you spend with someone, the more you start to pick up on their personal preferences. When it comes to buying gifts, you can use all that you have observed to help you purchase a gift that reflects their tastes on a deeper level. When you work

  In an article which appeared on Entrepreneur.com, Jim Joseph related an unfortunate incident where, walking into a small business and seeing something he liked, was unable to get any information, even a price, on the object from the employee in the store at the time. Having no choice but to leave, the employee in question neglected to even offer a follow up with the information at a later time, not only losing the sale, but also leaving a very poor impression of the business in question, precluding any chance of the author going back at a later time. What small business owners should take away from this unfortunate incident is the high importance of communicating their expertise to their employees, in particular their sales associates, but really extending to every member of the business, all of whom play a crucial part in ensuring it operates with efficiency. View skill sharing as an opportunity to increase the value of your business. When you neglect to pass

We love our family and friends, but when it comes to running a business, the stress of the situation has the potential to throw a serious monkey wrench into important relationships. If you are sure that you want to go into business with someone who is close to you, making sure that you take pains to minimize the risk and mitigate the potential for disputes down the road is of the essence, lest you find yourself short of both a business and your business partner. The good thing about having someone you are close with on your team is that you already have a strong rapport, trust each other and share passion that can be explosive behind the right idea. Whether your intention is to turn your business into a family business that can last for generations, or to turn a longtime dream you’ve shared with a friend into a reality, make sure that you cover yourselves against every chance of conflict. While you will

The Fall season continues on, with the specter of colder temperatures ever approaching and the memory of last Winter’s polar vortex fresh in the minds of many small business owners all over the country. While the thought may be grim to some, business owners have no choice but to prepare as best they can to meet with unpredictable business patterns ranging from glacially slow to unpredictable boom. In an article on northjersey.com, a few case studies were looked at, from an auto-body shop preparing for a surge in accidents on icy roads, to a gym planning on opening new locations as well as a home healthcare service planning for sever weather in advance. Business owners need to account for the possibility of greater demand, or on the flip-side being forced to remain productive while snowed in. Review the numbers from last Winter. What happened last Winter is a likely indicator of how things stand to go this year assuming that there is a similarly enduring cold

We’ve written before on this blog about some of what goes into creating a pet friendly workplace, and while it’s not always easy to set up the means to support having furry friends in the office, for business owners who either have employees who place a high value on time with their companion animals, who themselves have pets or  see the potential to do more business by creating a pet friendly atmosphere, it can be worth it provided they have an understanding of the potential cons as well. Is your entire staff ready for pets, or will this cause divisions? Having an animal in the office may be logistically safe after you spend the time needed to identify potential hazards and remove them, but will it create problems among your employees? Making sure that your staff is on the same page about wanting animals in the office should be done before changing your policy. It may be the case that an employee is allergic to animals

Meetings can be necessary to bring your team together and onto the same page, and when used strategically they are a powerful tool. The energy in a room full of engaged employees who are communicating face to face can often form the catalyst for powerful innovations and progress. That said, when you overdo it with meetings, not only do they being to bore your employees, but through dreading them they will often actively disengage and reduce the value that they are intended to create. Instead of calling a meeting for every situation, instead ask yourself if there is an alternative action you can take that will enable more productivity. Whenever you feel the need to call a meeting, stop yourself and ask yourself a few questions in order to determine if it’s really a meeting that you need. How many team members are involved? If your whole team doesn’t need to be there to get across the reason you feel the need for a meeting, then

In the course of running a small business, you are extremely lucky if you never have a bad employee experience. That being said, bad employees are a lot of the time good employees with bad habits, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, may not be the best answer for every infraction. Knowing what classic signs of bad behavior are is important, but it’s also important to be able to differentiate between an unfixable problem and something arising from a lack of coaching. Here are three simple suggestions that you can use to check up on an employee with an issue and diagnose what the appropriate action should be for dealing with them. Ensure they have the resources they need to be productive. A lot of the time employees who appear to be slacking are just not sure what they are supposed to be doing, or lack a tool that can enable them to be efficient. It may be that they are

Business owners are, in most cases, comfortable moving quickly on projects and while developing new ideas. The entrepreneurial stereotype is  a person willing to spend long hours and sacrifice certain creature comforts in order to make sure that things get done, and quickly too. This can be a great thing, meaning that their businesses are able to grow and adapt to changes in their markets much faster than bigger companies where bureaucracy and indifference on the part of employees can get in the way of improvements. However, the old adage “patience is a virtue” holds true in many situations in the business world, where rushing something too much can actually cause more harm than good. When to be patient. Patience can be a boon when dealing with third parties in particular. Many small business owners hire outside contractors to handle tasks that they are not comfortable taking care of themselves. Common examples are accounting and web design. Why is patience useful in these cases? It’s because

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