While retail businesses are entering a time when they need all hands on deck, not every small business requires the physical presence of their staff during the holidays, and in fact may benefit in terms of improving employee loyalty and morale from implementing a more flexible work schedule that can allow their employees to spend more time with their families and loved ones. The balance between personal direction and freedom and productivity is one that small business owners need to think about directly, as more freedom can lead to retaining better talent, but too much lenience can create the issue of insufficient communications and missed deadlines. Create a structured process for taking time to work remotely. Provided that your employees aren’t going on vacation, but are committing to working from home during part of the holiday season, you should think in advance in order to define the priority of assignments that you give them and make steps towards allowing them to be both flexible and accountable.

When running a business you will ideally be working with complementary personalities, and during the hiring process you can screen for qualities like attitude and fit within your organization. Even so, you still might wind up with two equally effective employees with personalities that don’t mesh very well. The ability of your business to function smoothly is contingent on employee cooperation, and when you need something to get done and must rely on your business’s version of the odd couple to take care of it, some management finesse may be in order. In general it is better to create a framework of cooperation that can help you avoid employee disputes, since taking the time to resolve an open conflict can be a serious time-sink. Clearly delegate responsibility and stay open to communications. People will often begin to squabble when there is a lack of clarity surrounding what they are working on, which is why goal setting followed up by open communications is the key to getting

The art of communications is exactly that; an art form, and one that deserves to be practiced in multiple mediums as opposed to ignored and addressed only when it is convenient. Being attentive to incoming communications, as well as proactive in order to keep key relationships strong is something that every business owner needs to be able to handle, but what about those times when you want to go a little bit further? Old school communication, meaning a face to face meeting, a physical letter, or an actual phone call, are a lot less glamorous than the slew of digitally based communication technologies that are now available to small business owners, but in a pinch they can show that you are really invested in the health of a relationship that means a lot to your business. A physical thank you note sends a strong positive message. Even more so if it written by hand. The reason is because it is a gesture that implicitly communicates that

According to a Chase survey on Small Business Outlook, one in ten small business owners claimed to be “extremely concerned” with attracting qualified talent to work in their businesses, with commonly cited steps to combat the deficiency being offering higher wages to targeted talent, offering non-financial compensation such as flexibility in hours or a larger stake in the company, and settling for lowered skill sets. It is this last strategy that is troubling, since smaller businesses often rely on hiring the right talent proportionally much more than larger businesses, which may have the effect of any individual employee diluted by the presence of staff with overlapping or redundant functions. Business owners can create strategies to vie for the talent that they need. Instead of accepting talent that may not be qualified, business owners should create strategies for bringing on the employees that they are really seeking. When it comes to things that small businesses can compete on with larger corporations, salary might not be one of

Cost management is an essential part of running a small business, and having money on hand with which to make strategic decisions and act on opportunities as they present themselves is another important consideration for business owners, since without any liquid capital they may find themselves flush with assets but lacking an ability to quickly act. Reducing costs without reducing customer service can be tricky, but it is manageable provided adequate thought goes in to tapering off spending. What is the value contributed by programs that you are considering tapering off? This question may seem like it is simple to answer, but in reality, you may want to ask your employees how they are effected by the use of certain programs before you cut them off. The reason why is that they may have come to rely on a certain service that is showing up in your accounting numbers that you are not personally involved with. If you don’t know what something is that you are

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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