Tag Archive | "small business"

12 Things Successful People Never Reveal About Themselves at Work


You can’t build a strong professional network if you don’t open up to your colleagues; but doing so is tricky, because revealing the wrong things can have a devastating effect on your career, reports Entrepreneur.

Sharing the right aspects of yourself in the right ways is an art form. Disclosures that feel like relationship builders in the moment can wind up as obvious no-nos with hindsight.

The trick is to catch yourself before you cross that line, because once you share something, there is no going back.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). Emotionally intelligent people are adept at reading others, and this shows them what they should and shouldn’t reveal about themselves at work.

The following list contains the 12 most common things people reveal that send their careers careening in the wrong direction.

1. That They Hate Their Job

The last thing anyone wants to hear at work is someone complaining about how much they hate their job. Doing so labels you as a negative person, who is not a team player. This brings down the morale of the group. Bosses are quick to catch on to naysayers who drag down morale, and they know that there are always enthusiastic replacements waiting just around the corner.

2. That They Think Someone Is Incompetent

There will always be incompetent people in any workplace, and chances are that everyone knows who they are. If you don’t have the power to help them improve or to fire them, then you have nothing to gain by broadcasting their ineptitude. Announcing your colleague’s incompetence comes across as an insecure attempt to make you look better. Your callousness will inevitably come back to haunt you in the form of your coworkers’ negative opinions of you.

3. How Much Money They Make

Your parents may love to hear all about how much you’re pulling in each month, but in the workplace, this only breeds negativity. It’s impossible to allocate salaries with perfect fairness, and revealing yours gives your coworkers a direct measure of comparison. As soon as everyone knows how much you make, everything you do at work is considered against your income. It’s tempting to swap salary figures with a buddy out of curiosity, but the moment you do, you’ll never see each other the same way again.

4. Their Political and Religious Beliefs

People’s political and religious beliefs are too closely tied to their identities to be discussed without incident at work. Disagreeing with someone else’s views can quickly alter their otherwise strong perception of you. Confronting someone’s core values is one of the most insulting things you can do.

Granted, different people treat politics and religion differently, but asserting your values can alienate some people as quickly as it intrigues others. Even bringing up a hot-button world event without asserting a strong opinion can lead to conflict.

People build their lives around their ideals and beliefs, and giving them your two cents is risky. Be willing to listen to others without inputting anything on your end because all it takes is a disapproving look to start a conflict. Political opinions and religious beliefs are so deeply ingrained in people, that challenging their views is more likely to get you judged than to change their mind.

5. What They Do on Facebook

The last thing your boss wants to see when she logs on to her Facebook account is photos of you taking tequila shots in Tijuana. There are just too many ways you can look inappropriate on Facebook and leave a bad impression. It could be what you’re wearing, who you’re with, what you’re doing, or even your friends’ commentary. These are the little things that can cast a shadow of doubt in your boss’s or colleagues’ minds just when they are about to hand you a big assignment or recommend you for a promotion.

It’s too difficult to try to censure yourself on Facebook for your colleagues. Save yourself the trouble, and don’t friend them there. Let LinkedIn be your professional “social” network, and save Facebook for everybody else.

6. What They Do in the Bedroom

Whether your sex life is out of this world or lacking entirely, this information has no place at work. Such comments might get a chuckle from some people, but it makes most uncomfortable, and even offended. Crossing this line will instantly give you a bad reputation.

7. What They Think Someone Else Does in the Bedroom

A good 111% of the people you work with do not want to know that you bet they’re tigers in the sack. There’s no more surefire way to creep someone out than to let them know that thoughts of their love life have entered your brain. Anything from speculating on a colleague’s sexual orientation to making a relatively indirect comment like, “Oh, to be a newlywed again,” plants a permanent seed in the brains of all who hear it that casts you in a negative light.

Your thoughts are your own. Think whatever you feel is right about people; just keep it to yourself.

8. That They’re After Somebody Else’s Job

Announcing your ambitions at work when they are in direct conflict with other people’s interests comes across as selfish and indifferent to those you work with and the company as a whole. Great employees want the whole team to succeed, not just themselves. Regardless of your actual motives (some of us really do just work for the money), announcing your selfish goal will not help you get there.

9. How Wild They Used To Be in College

Your past can say a lot about you. Just because you did something outlandish or stupid 20 years ago doesn’t mean that people will believe you’ve developed impeccable judgment since then. Some behavior that might qualify as just another day in the typical fraternity (binge drinking, minor theft, drunk driving, abusing people or farm animals, and so on) shows everyone you work with that, when push comes to shove, you have poor judgment and don’t know where to draw the line. Many presidents have been elected in spite of their past indiscretions, but unless you have a team of handlers and PR types protecting and spinning your image, you should keep your unsavory past to yourself.

10. How Intoxicated They Like to Get

You might think talking about how inebriated you were over the weekend has no effect on how you’re viewed at work. After all, if you’re a good worker, then you’re a good worker, right? Unfortunately not. Sharing this will not get people to think you’re fun. Instead, they will see you as unpredictable, immature, and lacking in good judgment. Too many people have negative views of drugs and alcohol for you to reveal how much you love to indulge in them.

11. An Offensive Joke

If there’s one thing we can learn from celebrities, it’s to be careful about what you say and whom you say it to. Offensive jokes make other people feel terrible, and they make you look terrible. They also happen to be much less funny than clever jokes.

A joke crosses the line anytime you try to gauge its appropriateness based on how close you are with someone. If there is anyone who would be offended by your joke, you are better off not telling it. You never know whom people know or what experiences they’ve had in life that can lead your joke to tread on subjects that they take very seriously.

12. That They Are Job Hunting

When I was a kid, I told my baseball coach I was quitting in two weeks. For the next two weeks, I found myself riding the bench. It got even worse after those two weeks when I decided to stay, and I became “the kid who doesn’t even want to be here.” I was crushed, but it was my own fault; I told him my decision before it was certain.

The same thing happens when you tell people that you’re job hunting. Once you reveal that you’re planning to leave, you suddenly become a waste of everyone’s time. There’s also the chance that your hunt will be unsuccessful, so it’s best to wait until you’ve found a job before you tell anyone. Otherwise, you will end up riding the bench.

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5 Ways to Balance Leadership and Parenthood


It seems to be common ideology nowadays that being the leader of a company and being a parent are mutually exclusive roles, and that just isn’t true, reports Entrepreneur. Although it can be difficult to strike a balance and be great at both, it is not impossible. All it takes is a little bit of strategizing and commitment. As the father of two young sons, 1 and 4 years old, and the CEO of a national sandwich chain, I’ve come across a few tips that have helped me balance the two roles:

1. Set your nonnegotiables and stick to them.

For example, I have set the rules that (1) I will never miss one of my children’s sporting events; (2) I will drop my kids off at school twice a week; and (3) I will wake up early enough to make and eat breakfast with my kids every day. On the days I am dropping them off at school, I come into the office late so that I can have that bonding time with my children in the car.

Setting these nonnegotiable items helps you to structure your schedule and make time to fulfill your role as a parent. Choose a few set things and make sure you fully commit to them, regardless of what work issue may come up. Once you start to let things slide, the entire purpose of setting these nonnegotiables has been lost.

2. Be cognizant that work can usually wait.

One thing I’ve learned in the years that I’ve been a CEO, is that work can usually wait. Letting work consume your life and infringe on the joys you get as a parent is unhealthy and a hindrance to producing great work. It’s important to take that time to breathe and focus on being a parent to your children. When I get home, I put away my phone until my kids go to bed and return emails and phone calls later on in the evening.

If something is a true emergency, my team knows how to get hold of me through channels other than email. The small window of time I get to spend with my kids at dinner and bedtime is incredibly valuable, and it’s perfectly fine to take off your work hat to put on your parent hat.

3. Privileges must be companywide.

If you expect your team to understand your priorities, whatever applies to you has to apply across the office. For example, our chief marketing officer works twice a week from home so that he can spend time with his kids. This applies to all Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop staff members: Their schedule can absolutely work around their roles as parents, as long as the bottom line is met and work is completed to our standards.

I let my team know that if any of them need to take time away from the office to be a parent, as I do, then they should take the time off. This policy not only creates a culture of support and understanding, but is consistent with our family-centered brand. Policies like these tend to help in retaining talent and creating an environment that fosters quality work.

4. Create small blocks of time that allow you to get away.

I will often spend my lunch break to see my boys at home; they are my absolute best friends. This practice gives me a brief block in the middle of the day where I can disconnect from work and focus on being a dad. Other ways professionals can do this include setting aside a time to call or video-chat with their children; whether that occurs every day or once a week, the objective is to establish a set time-frame and stick to it.

Work can get busy, but it’s not impossible to find those few minutes in the day where you can be a parent — calling home, for instance, while you’re en route to the restroom, getting your next cup of coffee or in your car — and not driving! — on the way to a meeting, to name just a few.

5. Don’t forget about your support system.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing wife who is incredible and supportive. She understands that work can get crazy at times and does all she can to lighten my load at home so I can focus on being a dad when I’m there. Now, while not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of support system in their house, that does not mean you can’t find it elsewhere. Consider working out a system with a neighbor, friend or colleague. It’s all about finding the support system that works best for you.

While juggling leadership and parenthood can be a daunting task, it is certainly achievable. All it takes is making a commitment to both roles. Finding the small ways to manage both can have an enormous impact not only on the quality of your life, but the quality of your children’s.

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4 Surprising Questions Great Companies Use to Hire Well


When most people go about the process of hiring on a new employee, they tend to focus on “skill” and “will,” reports Inc. In other words, they look at what skills a person has–like their experience, areas of expertise, and other things they list on their resume–as well as whether that person is willing and interested in working for the company.

But there’s a third category of analysis that most people tend to leave out: culture fit. And frankly, if you want to spend a large amount of your life in contact with them. You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your employees!

While we didn’t know it at the time, the most important thing we ever got graded on back in kindergarten was how well we worked and played with others. The same thing is true when it comes to making great hires.

We all know people who are incredibly bright and competent, but who are also not very nice people. They tend to be selfish and self-absorbed and seem to suck the energy out of the room. You simply don’t want to spend time with them. I call people like this “cultural terrorists” because of the damage they can wreak on an organization. That’s why the best companies do everything they can to avoid hiring these people in the first place.

But how do you know how to assess whether someone is a cultural fit or not?

I’ve found that the companies who do the best job at screening potential hires for cultural fit ask some variation of these four simple questions:

Would I like to have a cocktail with this individual?
The best interviewers begin by asking whether they’d be willing to spend an hour or so talking casually with this person after work. Are they interesting enough to have a conversation with? Or are they difficult to deal with, socially awkward, or even so self-absorbed you can’t get a word in edgewise?

Would I play a round of golf with them?
Golf is not only a great way to spend a day networking and talking shop; it’s also an investment of four to five hours of your time. Is this person someone you’d be willing to ride along in a cart with or even walk beside for that long? If you don’t play golf, substitute, “go to a baseball game” and see if you are excited or thinking of ways to get out of it.

Would you sit next to this person on a flight to Tokyo?
Upping the stakes even higher here, but is this the kind of person you could tolerate chatting with over an 11-hour international flight or would you be tempted to lock them (our yourself) in the bathroom instead?

Would you want this person in your foxhole?
It’s one thing to ask yourself how you might get along with someone in the best of times. But how do you think this person would react to the worst of them? If you found yourself in the middle of a battlefield, say, with bullets and explosions all around you, do you think you could count on this person to watch your back? Will they remain cool and collected or will they freak out and run for the hills? Assessing how someone might react to a stressful situation is critical for every entrepreneur to ask because sooner or later, you’ll be facing that kind of situation in your business. And you’ll want to count on your team to stand their ground no matter what the odds are.

Now if you can answer yes to all four of these questions, and the candidate also passes the skill and will test, what are you waiting for: make the offer!

But, if you hesitated on answering any of these culture fit type questions, and questioned whether you would truly enjoy working with this person, then just say no. After all, life is too short to work with people you don’t like.

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Never Say This to an Employee!


Sometimes, employers make comments to employees without realizing the impact of their statements, reported ADP. Misconstrued statements may lower employee morale, or worse, result in breach of contract, discrimination or other employee complaints.

Here are some statements to avoid in the workplace:

Promises

Avoid: “Don’t worry—you will always have a job with us.”
Reason: If you promise an employee permanent employment, you may jeopardize their at-will employment status. “At-will” means you can terminate an employee for any reason, at any time, as long as the reason is a lawful one. To maintain at-will status, it’s a best practice to avoid statements that could be interpreted as a promise of future employment. Business conditions may change or the employee’s performance may slip, and you will want flexibility to make employment decisions that are in the company’s best interest.
*Note: There are exceptions to at-will employment created by contract, statute, the courts, or public policy. In addition, at-will employment is recognized in all states but Montana.

Avoid: “Money is tight this year so there will be no raises, but we will make it up to you next year.”
Reason: While you may have good intentions, an employee may interpret this statement as a promise of continued employment. Additionally, if there isn’t money in the budget, or the employee’s performance doesn’t warrant a raise, don’t make a promise that you may be unable to keep.

Harassment

Avoid: “You look great today.”
Reason: Comments about an employee’s appearance are generally inappropriate, and may be construed as harassment or bullying. Unless your remark is related to a dress code violation, conversations should focus on an employee’s performance, rather than how they look.

Avoid: (Upon receiving a harassment complaint) “They are just having fun—grow a thicker skin.”
Reason: Federal, state, and local laws prohibit harassment in the workplace, and employers have a responsibility to take steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment. Take all harassment complaints seriously and investigate each complaint promptly. If an investigation reveals that a violation occurred, take immediate and appropriate corrective action to remedy the situation.

Discrimination

Avoid: “You wouldn’t be interested in that promotion—it requires a lot of travel and you have a family.”
Reason: Never make assumptions based on an employee’s family status or caregiving responsibilities. Employment decisions based on an employee’s caregiving responsibilities may implicate nondiscrimination laws if all employees are not treated fairly and consistently. Focus solely on job-related factors when making employment decisions.

Avoid: “We need to hire someone young to really understand this new technology.” “We need younger employees to compete.”
Reason: Excluding older workers from certain jobs because of their age could violate nondiscrimination laws. Identify the skills, knowledge, and experience needed for the job and select candidates based on those criteria, not age or another protected characteristic.

Avoid: “Are you pregnant?”
Reason: Even if an employee’s pregnancy seems obvious to you, avoid asking the employee whether she is pregnant. Questions about an applicant’s or employee’s pregnancy are generally viewed as non-job-related and problematic. In addition, an employee is generally under no obligation to inform her employer that she is pregnant unless she is seeking pregnancy-related leave or an accommodation.

Avoid: “You are pregnant? Great, we’ll transfer you to a less stressful position and reduce your hours, so you can focus on your baby.”
Reason: It’s generally not a best practice to make employment decisions based on pregnancy. As long as the employee can perform the essential functions of the job, she has the right to continue working in her current position. Even if the employer has a concern for the health of the pregnant employee or her fetus, the concern will rarely justify sex-specific job restrictions.

Leave of Absence

Avoid: “All this leave you are requesting eventually will have an impact on your job.”
Reason: Many federal, state, and local laws give employees the right to job-protected leave and prohibit retaliation against employees who exercise their rights to take leave. Comments like the one above could be interpreted as an attempt to interfere with the employee’s right to take leave.

Avoid: “I don’t think men should take parental leave. Can’t your wife take leave to be with the baby?”
Reason: A number of state and local family and medical leave laws, as well as the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, give both the father and mother the right to leave to bond with a newborn or to care for a child with a serious health condition. Don’t deny an employee leave because of his or her gender.

Performance

Avoid: “Your performance was perfect, so we don’t need to do a performance review.” “We are too busy to conduct performance reviews this year.”
Reason: All employees—from the top performer on down—should receive regular performance reviews. They are important not only for assessing past performance and giving praise when due, but also for establishing goals and communicating performance expectations for the next review period. In addition, they provide documentation to support future employment decisions.

Avoid: “Tell the client I am out of the office—I don’t feel like dealing with him.” “It is OK to break that rule because I am the boss and I am telling you it is OK.”
Reason: Employees tend to follow the example set by their leaders. If a supervisor ignores rules or is dishonest, employees might follow suit. To succeed, establish an ethical business culture in which everyone from the chief executive officer to the entry-level employee respects and follows the rules.

Conclusion

No matter how well-intentioned, certain statements made to employees could be misconstrued, creating problems you never intended. When communicating with employees, choose your words carefully, and train your supervisors to avoid statements that could be misinterpreted.

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5 Ways to Get the Most From the Cloud


Most businesses rely on cloud-based services for email and web hosting now, whether they realize it or not. Your company may also benefit from moving even more of its files and tasks to the cloud, due to the savings and convenience it provides. To benefit most from the cloud services you choose, carefully consider your needs and what each service offers. Mapping one to the other will help you make the right decisions, reported Business Circle.

The following lists will help you to identify the cloud service features that are most important to your business and leave you better equipped to make an informed choice.

1. Back up and store your data in the cloud

Cloud-based backup services can eliminate the need for manual backups and save time for your company. If you are considering the cloud for online PC or Mac® data backup and storage, look for a service that:

  • Automatically and continuously backs up data with little or no downtime
  • Allows you to access and view files from most Web-connected and mobile devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Provides unlimited storage.
  • Immediately restores lost data.
  • Saves your company money on in-house servers and IT support.
  • Includes search features to help you locate files quickly and easily.
  • Uses advanced encryption and other security safeguards.
  • Offers support for PC and Mac.
  • Retains older versions of backed-up data.
  • Provides 24/7 U.S.-based customer support for backup-specific issues.

2. Use cloud-based email

Cloud-based email can provide businesses with task management and mobile synchronization capabilities. If you are considering a cloud-based email service, look for one that:

  • Is fast and reliable
  • Permits you to use your company’s domain name
  • Allows email to be accessed from almost anywhere and on just about any device.
  • Provides features for easier collaboration, such as calendar and contact sharing.
  • Filters for malware and spam
  • Syncs calendar and contacts with mobile devices
  • Supports all major email protocols
  • Updates functionality regularly and automatically.

3. Host your website in the cloud

Cloud-based website solutions include Web hosting, eCommerce, and mobile website creation and support. If you are considering the cloud for your website solutions, look for a service that:

  • Cloud-based website solutions include Web hosting, eCommerce, and mobile website creation and support. If you are considering the cloud for your website solutions, look for a service that:
  • Provides easy-to-use website design tools, including site templates.
  • Offers services from professional designers.
  • Permits easy updating of sites.
  • Includes built-in analytics tools to monitor site traffic.
  • Provides eCommerce website design and 24/7 store management tools.
  • Offers mobile website design and support.
  • Experiences little or no downtime.

4. Share files and improve collaboration

The cloud can help facilitate collaboration through file sharing, online conferencing, and other capabilities. If you are considering sharing files or collaborating in the cloud, look for a service that:

  • The cloud can help facilitate collaboration through file sharing, online conferencing, and other capabilities. If you are considering sharing files or collaborating in the cloud, look for a service that:
  • Permits mobile access to files so employees can collaborate from any location.
  • Integrates voice, Internet, and video communication.
  • Enables team members to share files using Web links, eliminating the need to send large files using email.
  • Supports the desktop applications used by your company.
  • Syncs easily with laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.
  • Allows users to arrange virtual meetings and videoconferences on the fly.
  • Allows employees in different locations to create, share, and work on documents together in real time.
  • Protects documents with the latest encryption and other security features.

5. Increase your computing power

The cloud provides businesses a cost-effective way to handle spikes in demand (such as temporary traffic increases to an online retail site during the holiday season) and to build and test applications without the need for in-house servers. If you are considering using the cloud for additional computing power, look for a service that:

  • Scales automatically with your business.
  • Reduces your costs for servers and IT support.
  • Can handle spikes in usage.
  • Supports software to meet business requirements, such as virtualization or database software.
  • Charges only for the resources you use.
  • Provides the security needed to support compliance requirements.
  • Guarantees minimal or no downtime.
  • Offers 24/7 tech support.

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Here’s Where it Pays the Most to be a Small Business Owner


Many small business owners around the country are pretty fed up with Washington, reported the Washington Post.

But for those who actually live in the nation’s capital, there may not be much reason to complain.

Self-employed individuals in Washington, D.C. enjoy a higher median income than their counterparts in the 50 states – and it’s not even close. The median annual haul for District business owners is $91,644, according to new data released Wednesday by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. Second on the list is Massachusetts, where the median income for self-employed individuals is $61,434.

Of course, the District of Columbia is comprised of a dense, urban area (compared to the mix of urban and rural areas found in most states) brimming with professional services businesses, which undoubtedly skews the numbers higher. Still, $90,000 is a high median income.

North Dakota ($60,602), New Jersey ($60,089) and Connecticut ($59,067) round out the first five on the list, while Alaska, California, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware complete the top 10, each with median incomes for small business owners north of $52,000. The median income nationally is $49,363.

Montana’s small business owners make the least, with median annual pay of $38,234. The only other state where self-employed individuals make less than $40,000 a year is Mississippi ($39,953).

The figures come from the SBA Office of Advocacy’s state profiles report, in which the department every year compiles a litany of information concerning the makeup and success of small companies in each state. Here are three other notable rankings from this year’s report.

The survivors: States where the highest percentage of small businesses survived from last year.

  1. Washington state, 87.4 percent
  2. Delaware, 84. 7 percent
  3. Wisconsin, 83.1 percent
  4. Connecticut, 82.1 percent
  5. Utah, 81.8 percent

The exporters: States where small businesses are responsible for the largest share of total exporting value.

  1. Washington, D.C., 78.7 percent
  2. Montana, 70.8 percent
  3. Florida, 68.6 percent
  4. Rhode Island, 63.2 percent
  5. Wyoming, 61 percent

The employers: States where small businesses employ the largest share of the workforce.

  1. Montana, 67.6 percent
  2. Wyoming, 62.3 percent
  3. South Dakota, 59.2 percent
  4. Vermont, 58.9 percent
  5. North Dakota, 58.6 percent

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