It’s that time of year when the majority of us are thinking about our New Year’s resolutions or goals. A lot of us will decide not to set any New Year’s resolutions because we know we will just fail (and then feel guilty). On the other hand, we need goals and we want to do better. We don’t want everyone to think we’re New Year’s snobs and we just don’t have anything to improve upon.
What should you do? Well, I kind of like Robby Russell’s Agile New Year’s Plan. I don’t pretend to understand the tech talk and I’m certainly not well versed in the Agile method (beyond the most basic understanding). The fundamentals I take from Agile are: (more…)
That’s right folks, I’m giving away a Quick Start Coaching package on January 19th (valued at $530!). Register to win: FREE Coaching Package Giveaway.
Never fear, even if you don’t win, you’ll receive $75 off any CrackerJack Coaching package. Get your New Year off to a good start!
Here are some ways to use my Quick Start Coaching package: (more…)
Budgets are being slashed, small businesses are having difficulty surviving, and it’s that time of year when raises and bonuses are decided at many companies. These days it seems most employees should just consider themselves lucky if they have a job, never mind actually getting a raise or a bonus.
Wise business owners know that keeping their employees happy makes it much easier to stay within budget and keep the bottom line happy. The question is, how can you keep your employees happy without breaking the budget and the bottom line? What if you have little money for bonuses & raises? Here are 10 things you can do:
- Let them work from home. It doesn’t have to be full-time telecommuting, but let them know you understand that this work/life balance thing is hard and as long as they get the work done, it’s okay to work at home (at least when it’s really necessary).
- Potluck – Who doesn’t like a good potluck lunch or breakfast once in a while? Build it into your calendar. The last Friday of every month is Potluck. If you can budget it, buy a company grill and do some grilling in the summer or fry a turkey in the fall.
- Espresso Machine – For less than $1,000 you can get a fully automatic espresso machine for the office. Sure, you’ll buy more coffee too, but your employees are saving their Starbucks money and since they aren’t leaving the office to get coffee, they’re going to be back at their desks a lot faster (more productivity…what did I say about happy employees and the bottom line?).
- Performance Based Bonuses – Create a new bonus system. Make it based on team performance and tie it directly to the bottom line. Every month, review how the team is doing and what their projected bonus is (an actual chart on the wall would be great). When done correctly, you increase teamwork, the bottom line, and motivation. (Think this one through carefully, this can have negative impacts if not implemented properly).
- Flexible Time Off – Loosen up your vacation policies. Don’t force a half day of vacation if someone needs 2 hours to go to the dentist. Let them make that up another day. Also, don’t force people into lying about being sick to get a day off. Yes, set parameters around how it can be used, but make it easy. Again, let them know you understand their personal life is important.
- Cafeteria Plans – Medical, dependent care, and transportation flex spending plans are inexpensive to operate and they save you and your employees money (via tax savings).
- LISTEN – Everyone wants to be heard. Establish an open door policy and actively encourage feedback from your employees. Encourage them to bring you solutions (not problems). You’ll be amazed at the creative things your employees can come up with to solve problems that you didn’t even know existed.
- Extra Time Off – For hourly employees, this could hurt your budget, so be careful. Salaried employees usually do the work either before or after their time away, so it really doesn’t cost you much for them. If an employee has worked exceptionally hard or gone above & beyond in some way, why not reward them with a paid day off?
- Training & Workshops – If you can, try to budget in some training or seminars for your employees. You’ll increase their skills which helps them and you. When I work with companies to write a budget, I recommend setting a per person “professional development” budget. It’s important to find ways to help all of your employees develop their skills.
- Flexible Work Hours – Why does everyone have to work 8 – 5? Create a core set of hours that are mandatory, but let the rest be flexible. Some people are more productive in the morning, others in the afternoon. Some have kids to get off to school, others have night classes to get to. Give your employees a little flexibility in how they schedule their days. Watch productivity, not the clock.
I haven’t posted in quite some time. I’ve changed my business focus to coaching/consulting, taken a vacation to Mexico, and baked a ton of Christmas goodies with my kids. In short, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my work/life balance, goals, and as Michael Gerber says it, my “primary aim”.
In “The E-Myth Revised”, Gerber explains that your primary aim is essentially who you want to be in the world. What do you want your life to be about?
I’ll share my psychological self-assessment and my “primary aim”. I left employment almost a year ago. I started out as Acclaro Accounting… essentially a bookkeeping business that also offered management accounting. A new name for the business I had 2 years before. Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy in the last business, but I went back to what I knew instead of moving towards what I wanted.
I’m getting on my soapbox today. Today, I’m going to share one my pet peeves (pun intended) and why it’s necessary to “eat your own dog food“.
I have seen several website and graphic designers with business names, websites, logos, etc that are not creative. Recently, I was visiting once such website that was very “minimalist”. There were a lot of portfolio pictures, but few words… a website equivalent of a Flickr album. It didn’t have a logo and the company name was essentially John Doe Design. If I’m looking for a graphic designer, I’m looking for someone who is creative.
Creativity starts at your company name, your “identity”. Jeff Fisher’s article ‘Literally “making a name for yourself”‘ delves into this issue further. Jeff points out “coming up with a clear, explanatory, clever name is always a challenge, but it can be your most important introduction to the world”. He’s absolutely right and, in my opinion, anyone in the creative field should have a name that says “hey, I’m creative”. John Doe Design isn’t going to cut it.
I’m an honest person. Ask anyone who knows me to use two words to describe me and chances are they’ll be “direct and honest”. My former boss added loyal to the description (I suppose I am, but that sounds like I’m a dog!)
Over the summer, I spent a good amount of time working with Karrie Kohlhass (ThoughtShot Consulting). One of the first things she said was “we have to present your authentic voice”. If your marketing is authentically you, you’ll find the right clients. Interesting.
This week, I attended a webinar by Kent Lewis (of Anvil Media fame). The webinar was “Building Brands and Managing Reputations via Social Media”. One of the things Kent stated was you have to be honest in your communications.
I was passing by the television last evening where my hubby was watching “The Big Idea“. I stopped to see who was on and what they were talking about and what I heard astounded me.
Jim Cramer was on talking about the current state of the economy. He said that small business owners should swallow their pride, sell their houses, and move in with their parents, if that’s what they need to do to keep their businesses going, “to keep the American Dream alive”. WHAT?!?!?
I find this kind of advice completely irresponsible. Is this the right advice for some businesses? Maybe. For every business as a blanket statement? Hell no!