In my career, I have often held the accounting/human resources/everything else no one wants to deal with position. So, I’ve been faced with quite a few fun scenarios. Here are a few…
2) Naked Lady Cake – Once upon a time I worked in a manufacturing environment. The shop was 99% male (only myself and one other female employee). One day, I came to work and found a naked lady cake on the breakroom table. CLASSY! I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that’s a pretty clear cut sexual harassment issue waiting to happen. Mind you, I understood those guys and it was all meant to be in good fun (and was actually brought in by the other female). However, we did have customers and vendors who would happen by the shop. So, I did it. I was the mean HR lady who made them cut up the cake, so the shape was no longer recognizable. At least I didn’t just toss the cake!
3) Adult videos for Christmas – At the same classy establishment, we had annual holiday parties. I was in charge of setting it up and getting our vendors to give us items to raffle off at the party. My dear boss liked to have his porn delivered to the office (did I say classy?)…well, it was always packaged so you could only see the return address, but I’m not a moron. I would put it in his mail and never ever mentioned it. Well, one day, just before the party, said boss opened his mail at the desk next to me. One happened to be an "adult" video. He promptly tossed it on my desk and declared "give that away at the Christmas party". I don’t remember my exact response, but it was a HR lecture of sorts and the video was promptly returned. (the lesson – DO NOT have that mail delivered to your office and certainly DO NOT present it to an employee!)
Today, I was pondering some of the interesting scenarios I have run across in my professional career. I thought I would share some, just in case anyone is facing these types of issues.
I’ll start off with an encounter from very early in my career. This story arises in almost every interview I do (either giving or receiving).
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there was a small business owner who didn’t care much about the IRS or piercing the corporate veil. Within 2 weeks on the job, this business owner asked me to record a $20k expenditure on the business books. The expenditure was for a repairs to a friend’s home (this was not a remodeling business). Although young and naive, I was a college graduate with high moral standards. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know now that many bookkeepers would do whatever the owner asked and simply make a disclaimer that they only record what the owner tells them to. Well, not I! No way! I was an employee and I needed this job, but even way back then, I couldn’t allow myself to sell out my values (and the IRS standards, etc) for anyone. What to do, what to do?
One of the big issues small business owners face is how much to charge for their products or services. There are many ways to market your business and your pricing will naturally be a function of how you market your business. I’m not a marketing expert and I won’t advise on which methods business owners should choose for their respective businesses, but I’ll share a story and my personal philosophy.
I was recently helping someone through the process of leasing a commercial space. Normally, in real estate, market price prevails. In this situation, there were very few spaces that fit the bill. The location had to be just right and buildings of the desired size were hard to find.
We ended up with 2 satisfactory spaces. Space A (we’ll call Cheapo) was the larger of the 2 spaces and quite a bit less expensive than space B (we’ll call Premo). In the real estate world, Cheapo was definitely the right choice…bigger, less expensive. How could we go wrong? Well, let me tell you.
So, the potential “recession” is a big topic these days and there are numerous posts out there about how to “recession proof” your business. Here’s what I have to say about all of that… There isn’t any “magical” advice to give. The bottom line is you have to be smart. Run your business well, be better than your competition. The strong will “survive” and the weak will not.
1) Don’t be caught off guard if the slowdown hits your company.They go on to say you should be conservative and assume a 10 to 20% drop in revenue. In my opinion, whether a recession is pending or not, you should prepare for worst case scenario. Any number of things can cause a drop in revenue. You should always be aware of your financials and make timely decisions to bring costs in line with revenue.
I recently read the book “Fire Someone Today” and I found it to be a great resource for tactical managment advice. The title will prohibit the book from being displayed in your work library ( unless that’s your style of management…), but it provides good insight nonetheless.
A couple of my favorites from the book:
Don’t Fly Blind – Build a Dashboard:A Profit & Loss statement is not a dashboard. A monthly report is not a dashboard. These financial statements tell you what happened in the past; a dashboard tells you what is happening now. A dashboard can even tell you what is going to happen next.