/Managing People

Should I Call My Employee an Associate or Representative?

Small business owners often struggle when coming up with a job title for their new employee or when listing an open position at their business. Although we’d all like to think that a job title doesn’t mean that much, it’s actually really important from both an employer and employee point of view.

What Job Titles Mean – and What They Can Do

According to Fast Company, 80% of companies they surveyed use job titles to demonstrate an employee’s position in the company hierarchy. And 92% use job titles to define an employee’s role within the company.

Perhaps even more importantly, job titles can be used as recruitment tools. Since small businesses often struggle to recruit and retain employees, using job titles to find and attract potential applicants is a great tactic. The same Fast Company survey found that only 37% of companies think of using job titles as a recruitment tool, so using this tactic can give small businesses a competitive edge.

Clearly, job titles are more important than one might think at first glance. If your business is growing to the point where titles are important, there are ways to structure your system for clarity, consistency, and communications that will help your business thrive.

Choosing the Best Job Titles for Employees

Job titles help maintain structure within an organization. They serve as a shorthand and communications tool to help employees understand where they fit into an organization and how others do, too. And because they don’t cost anything, they can be used as a recruitment and retention tool.

So how do you go about choosing the best job titles for your employees? Consider these seven points when discovering the best titles for your company.

  1. “C” titles stand at the top of the hierarchy: The “C-suite” is a designation for the highest level of the company and is a common way to show decision-making power and authority. Reserve “Chief” titles for those in charge of multiple people and/or departments and with corresponding levels of increasing responsibility.
  2. Give everyone who manages staff a similar title: A consistent naming structure where people who are responsible for the performance of others all share similar designations helps people within the company understand roles and responsibilities. Whether you call them Managers or Directors, anyone who directly manages the actions of others should share a common title.
  3. Associate or representative? It can be difficult to choose between these two titles. Usually “representatives” designates a slightly higher rank than an associate. People often view associates as a starting position. Representatives “represent” their companies and as such, usually reflect deeper company knowledge and a longer tenure with a company.
  4. Titles aren’t analogous among companies: Job titles vary considerably in the scope of work assigned to the title. Look beyond titles when hiring, and make sure you designate via a written job description exactly what each position and title is responsible for so that there is no confusion.
  5. Use titles as part of a candidate’s compensation package: Many good candidates will negotiate compensation and other perks of the job. One area where it’s easy for you to compromise without affecting salary and benefits is in their job title. Consider changing or adjusting job titles, if warranted, to attract and keep great candidates for a job.
  6. Avoid “title-less” organizations: There’s been a trend over the past few years of “flat” organizations. This means that the organization eschews job titles and prefers to view everyone as colleagues. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it can lead to confusion. Customers, clients, vendors and others are used to a system of titles and responsibilities and will still ask for the Director of IT, Operations, Marketing, and so on. Even if your work environment is highly collegial and collaborative, you still need job titles.
  7. Base titles on job descriptions: It’s helpful to begin with the job descriptions you’ve created for your company and decide on titles based on descriptions. At small businesses, employees often wear many hats, and the scope of their responsibilities is broader than at larger companies where people can specialize. Decide the appropriate category for a job title such as accounting, marketing, finance, operations, etc. Then think about the amount of responsibility someone has and what that might mean in terms of job title.

Love them or loathe them, job titles remain an important consideration for employees and employers alike. As you structure your small business, structure your title system for clarity, consistency, and accuracy. You’ll set up your organization for strong growth ahead.

How Job Titles Can Help You Hire Great Talent

So it’s a new year, and you’re looking to hire new talent. You start off by posting a job online, but you’re not finding many candidates, at least not the great ones your company needs. How come? You may not realize this, but the job titles on your postings might be the reason.

Professionals care about the job title a company will provide them with (as well as one they’ll be proud to boast on their resumes in the new year). If you spend enough time looking at other job descriptions and titles, you’ll begin to notice a trend. There’s an increase in outside of the norm job titles. Riding this trend could help you recruit better candidates.

So what should you do heading into the new year? Spend more time crafting your job titles.

Here’s why job titles are so important in the hiring process.

They Help You Target the Type of Person You’re Looking to Recruit

Millennials are looking for different types of job titles than seasoned professionals, so depending on who you want to attract, you may need to tweak your titles accordingly. Those who have been around the block in their careers may be searching for more traditional job titles, while the fresh-out-of-college set may like funkier titles like “Brand Evangelist.”

Your Job Title is Your Welcome Mat

The first thing a potential candidate sees on a job board is your job title. Consider it your click-bait: if the title is boring or uninspiring, some job seekers won’t click to see what qualities you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you spend time coming up with a concise job title, you’ll attract more candidates to choose from.

Being Specific Narrows Your Applicant Pool

On the other hand, you may not want tons of applicants but prefer to have only highly-qualified folks with a very specific skillset submit their resumes to you. Be sure to use precise terms like “Senior” or industry knowledge keywords you want in the job title to winnow down those that will apply.

But Being Overly Zany Might Put You in the Corner

Yes, companies like Google are replacing older keywords like “Human Resources” with “People Specialists,” but that might not be the best strategy for your company. The problem with getting too off-the-wall is that people won’t be searching for your one-of-a-kind job title. Even if internally, you call your programmers “Awesomeness Creators,” you can still use more traditional job titles in your search to ensure that people find your posting.

Your Job Titles Speak Volumes About Your Company Culture

Just like you will be assessing job candidates, those same professionals will be assessing your company. If your job titles are more creative, you might give off a startup culture vibe, which is appealing to many. Or, your more traditional titles might lure experienced professionals looking for stability and familiarity. Consider the ethos you want to portray with your company as you craft your titles.

Creating Better Job Titles

Just because you’ve had a Marketing Manager for years doesn’t mean the next person that fills that role needs to have the same title. Before you post your next open position on job boards, review what that role currently consists of. It likely has evolved over the past several years, and the job title should reflect that. Maybe now that role looks more like a Content Marketing Guru or a Social Media Manager. The more specific you get with the title, the more appealing it will be to the right candidates.

See what your competitors are calling similar roles and determine if you want to mimic those titles or branch off from them. You want candidates to be able to find your job listing, so you might not want to get too creative.

And skip the acronyms or abbreviated words, as well as internal reference IDs (Marketing Mgr Ex75-4). These only make it harder for job seekers to search for your position.

Above all, keep your job titles short and searchable. Leave the details for the job description itself. Consider what a candidate might search for to find your position on a job board. Search there yourself to see how good a fit your role is in search results. And if over time, you don’t get the caliber of candidates you’re seeking, you can always update that job title; it’s not set in stone.

When you post an open position, you are, in a sense, marketing it to potential buyers — or applicants. If you want qualified leads — applications — you’ve got to put the effort into developing the most relevant and appealing job title possible.

How to Handle Payroll for Your First Employee

Business is booming, and it’s time to hire your first employee. Finding great talent, hiring someone, and making sure that all of your new hire paperwork is in order is often a steep learning curve for entrepreneurs. Fortunately, once you go through the on-boarding process with one employee, you’ll be ready to handle many more as your company grows.

Do You Really Need to Hire an Employee?

First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you truly need to hire a full-time or part-time employee or whether contract labor or a freelancer can do the job.

Understanding the difference between the two main categories of employees versus independent contractors is critical, since mistakes can lead to hefty IRS penalties for not paying the appropriate employment taxes. An independent contractor has more autonomy in how they work, where they work, and how they complete each task, while an employee works directly under your supervision on set tasks, at the time and place of your choosing.

You cannot keep someone as an independent contractor status and treat them like an employee. The IRS takes a dim view of this approach since some companies use it to avoid paying unemployment taxes and other benefits. You must also be quite clear about job hours, since there are different insurance and tax requirements for part-time versus full-time employees.

Consider how you’ll track employee hours. If it’s just one employee, it may be easy to note when they arrive at work and when they leave. If you plan to expand your workforce, a computerized tracking system may needed to accurately track hours for benefits and payroll.

Once you’ve settled upon hiring an employee, create a job description for the position. Include roles, responsibilities, requirements for the job, and a list of tasks associated with the job itself. This will guide your hiring process and help wanted ad, too, so it’s an important task.

Finding Great Help

You can hire locally through newspaper or online classified ads. You can also place ads on job boards such as Indeed, Monster, and other sites. Base your job posting on the description. Receive resumes, review them, and interview the three most promising candidates.

Congratulations! You’ve found your candidate and extended a job offer. If they accept, it’s time to begin the hiring process, step by step.

The Hiring Process, from Start to Finish

There are certain legal and tax rules you must follow when you hire a new employee.

  1. Obtain an EIN: An EIN, or employer identification number, is a number used on many legal and tax documents. You apply for an EIN on the IRS website
  2. Register with your state’s labor department: You must register with your state’s labor department to pay the appropriate unemployment compensation taxes.
  3. Purchase Worker’s Compensation insurance: States require employers to carry Worker’s Compensation insurance to cover their employees in the event of an accident or injury on the job. Each state sets its own policies regarding Worker’s Compensation insurance, so check with your state’s labor department for the rules for your state.
  4. Set up your payroll system: You can set up your own payroll system or work with online payroll software to handle weekly payroll filing needs.
  5. Complete forms: Each employee should fill out a W-4 form, the withholding allowance form, and an I-9 form with verification of eligibility for employment. Photocopy proof of eligibility, such as driver’s licenses, etc., and return the originals to your employee.
  6. Report the employee: You must report employees to the state’s hiring agency. The state then checks against records of people who owe for child support.
  7. File IRS Form 940: You’ll need to complete IRS form 940 each year to report federal unemployment tax.
  8. Set up personnel files: Setup files for your new employees that includes copies of their resume or job application, employment verification, IRS forms, and emergency contact information.
  9. Sign up for benefits: If your company offers benefits, review them with your employee and ask them to enroll.
  10. Finish the process: Create an employee manual and hang up required “Employee’s Rights” posters. Follow all OSHA workplace safety regulations. Get your new employee the tools they need to do their job – a desk, computer, cash register, car or whatever else you need. Then welcome them aboard!

Other Considerations

Depending on your business needs, you may need to include in your hiring process an NDA. NDA stands for “Non Disclosure Agreement”. It is a legally binding contract that prevents employees from sharing trade secrets with anyone else. This protects your business if you have any important information that you don’t want getting out into the public.

9 Ways to Show Your Employees You’re Thankful for Them

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our thoughts naturally turn to what we’re grateful for in life. As a small business owner, I know you’re thankful for your employees. After all, how would you run your business without them? In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 9 ways to say “thank you” to your employees.

  1. Give out bonuses. Let’s face it: Most people are highly motivated by money. There are a couple of ways to handle bonuses. You can set performance goals and give employees bonuses for meeting them—for example, giving a bonus to salespeople who surpass their quotas for the quarter. Or you can give out smaller, “surprise” bonuses, like handing a $25 gift card to a customer service person who goes above and beyond to make a customer happy.
  2. Show some PDA. (That’s “public display of appreciation.”) A thank-you means more when it’s shared in front of the whole team. Whenever you praise employees, take a moment to call everyone’s attention to what you’re doing. It not only makes the employee you’re praising feel great, but also shows the rest of the staff what type of behavior you want to see at work.
  3. Spread the word. Go beyond spotlighting your employees’ achievements in the workplace: Highlight your high-performing staffers on social media, on your website or in your marketing materials. Choose an “Employee of the Month” and profile him or her on your website or in your email marketing newsletter.
  4. Have a food fest. In my experience, one of the best ways to show employees appreciation is through their stomachs. Offer bagels or doughnuts every Friday morning or order pizza every Friday for lunch. Have a potluck where employees bring in their all-time favorite family recipes or dishes from their ethnic heritage. Holiday season? Hold a bake-off with different departments competing for a prize.
  5. Make it personal. Who wants to get an engraved plaque with their name on it? Yawn. Make employee rewards more meaningful by tailoring them to the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Get passes to a big game for a sports fan, or a gift card to a spa for a busy mom.
  6. Write a note. It’s easy to say “Thank you” in passing or send a nice email, but a thank-you note is something a recipient can save and savor. Take time to make your notes concrete and specific; this shows you’re really paying attention to what your employees are doing.
  7. Upgrade them. Having the latest equipment helps employees be more productive and do their jobs better—but, it also shows them how much you value their hard work. Update computers, provide mobile devices for work, spring for better-quality headsets or buy ergonomic office chairs.
  8. It’s about time. Comp time off is always a great way to thank employees for a job well done. Flexible work hours can also show employees how much you value them. Try offering different shifts, such as 8 AM to 4 PM or 10 AM to 6 PM, instead of the standard 9-to-5.
  9. Offer employee benefits. Beyond health insurance, there are tons of other benefits you can provide for your staff. For example, even the smallest business can set up a 401(k) plan to help workers plan for retirement. Life insurance, disability insurance, financial services and even pet insurance are other benefits that can show your employees you care.

 

                               

How to Attract and Retain Skilled Workers Through Culture

If you want your startup business to succeed, it is vital to cater to millennials, now the largest generation in the American workforce, according to Pew Research Center. Professionals born between 1980 and 1996 crave engagement at their jobs, and if they aren’t satisfied, they’ll leave, 2016 Gallup research shows. Fortune Magazine reports that leaders of the top 100 best companies to work for in the United States cite culture as their most important tool to achieving success. By showing employees you value their work-life balance, giving them opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and recognizing their good work and rewarding it with fun activities at the office, a company culture thrives and motivates employees to produce better work and stay at your business.

Happier employees are 12 percent more productive, too, according to 2014 research by the University of Warwick. Decreased stress leads to less time off due to illness or accidents, as the Harvard Business Review reports that 60 to 80 percent of workplace accidents are caused by stress. Moreover, high-pressure companies spend more than two times the amount on healthcare costs than other businesses.

Taking all these factors into consideration, here is how to make your business culture stand out to those searching for jobs and how to sustain it for those who work for you.

Show off on Your Careers Page and Social Networks

Give potential candidates a glimpse of what they can expect from your company culture through the descriptions and imagery throughout your website, especially your careers page, and social networks. Write in a voice that conveys the personality of your company. Display your mission statement on your website. Create a video that gives a tour of the office. A great example of this is Toms shoes. Its homepage features the slogan “one for one” prominently, showing off its goal of donating a pair of shoes for every pair that is bought.

Include testimonials from staff about why they are passionate about working for your company. Photos of smiling faces provide evidence your business is an attractive place to work for. You can share content about your culture on everything from your Facebook profile to your LinkedIn page. If you’re looking for a good example of what to include, Amway posts updates about the company on its LinkedIn page. Posts cover everything from pictures of new employees to information about new products to trips its team leaders take.

Provide Training and Development at Work

Jobs are no longer only ways to make money for today’s employees. To stay engaged, employees require learning opportunities that help them add to their skill repertoire. This benefits your business as training enhances your employees’ competence and creativity. The Gallup poll found that 87 percent of millennials say on-the-job development is crucial to increasing their loyalty and stimulation at work.

Ways to implement development range widely and include:

  • Department-wide enrollment in online courses related to the profession
  • Cross-department training to improve how employees understand and work with each other
  • Company-wide training on skills that benefit the whole workplace, such as interpersonal communication or conflict management

Your business could employ a training professional to conduct lessons or send out a casting call for employees to lead training sessions for each other, which might make the learning more meaningful.

Respect Employees as Humans, not Just Workers

A company culture that chains employees to desks and doesn’t recognize personal needs is draining and restrictive. Employees who feel like they are able to fulfill their familial duties or personal passions while still working full-time for you will be more engaged when they’re at work. Ways to improve a work-life balance at your business include:

  • Provide childcare benefits and maternity and paternity leave
  • Offer incentives for prioritizing health, such as a paid gym membership
  • Partner with local businesses to get discounts for your employees on services such as auto repair or massages

One of the best things you can do to improve the work-life balance of your staff is to offer flexibility in hours worked, whether that means allowing them to set up their own schedule throughout the week or work remotely part of the time or when needed. A 2014 study by telecommuting job site FlexJobs found that 74 percent of people say work-life balance is affected by the flexibility of their work hours. The ability to work remotely at least part of the time decreases stress related to commutes and family or personal obligations. Working from a home office may also increase productivity for some employees.

Company culture can constantly be improved upon, so it’s a good idea to periodically survey your current employees about what is working and what is needed. When you involve your employees in creating the culture themselves, they’ll be more likely to support it and be invested in it.

 

                               

By | November 15th, 2016|Managing People, Running A Small Business|2 Comments

Hiring the Best Candidates: 3 Filters to Add to Your Interview Process

Some studies estimate that the cost of hiring someone is approximately six to nine months’ of their salary. An employee making on average $40,000 might cost $20,000 or more to find if you factor in the time to recruit, screen, hire and train new employees. With so much on the line for finding a great candidate, it’s critically important to do your best to screen potential employees as rigorously as possible.

Weeding out those who aren’t qualified is easy, but screening the final group for the star performer in the mix is difficult. These three filters to add to your interview process can help.

 

Three Filters to Add to Your Interview Process

The typical hiring process includes:

  • Creating (or updating) a job description for the vacant position.
  • Writing and placing a help wanted ad.
  • Receiving resumes.
  • Screening resumes.
  • Telephone interviews to screen candidates.
  • In-person interviews with the best candidates.
  • An offer and someone hired.

Keep in mind, that selecting the right job boards to find employees online is important to your hiring process as well. Of course, at any point in the process, you may add steps or people, which lengthens the process but helps hire better candidates. Many companies now ask that a potential employee’s manager, coworkers and subordinates interview candidates so that they can assess how well candidates get along with people throughout the organization.

Adding the following three steps to your interviewing process won’t slow it down too much, but it will help you narrow down the candidate pool to the best-qualified applicants. This will actually save you time later since there will be fewer resumes to review and consider.

 

#1 Enhanced Job Description

When you start with a specific, enhanced and updated job description, you already start the process of being specific and choosy with your applicants. A highly-specific job description immediately attracts only those with such specific skills, while turning away others who do not possess them. The enhanced job description should detail every aspect of the position, including educational and experience requirements, specialized skills, and more. Take this information and include it in your job posting to encourage candidates with the best fit of skills to respond. When you are posting to job sites, the enhanced position description will make it easier to set up your job posting so that only the best-qualified will respond. This significantly cuts down on the number of unqualified candidates who apply, and saves you a great deal of time reviewing resumes.

 

#2 Pre-Employment Survey

After you receive resumes and cover letters from the initial job postings, it’s helpful to ask the most promising candidates to take a brief survey. You can ask them after the telephone interview or before it via an emailed response to their application. You can even add it to the application itself, before they even submit their resume. The survey can be created on a site like Survey Monkey to make it easier to collect the information. Ask questions pertinent to the job you’re hiring for, and make them specific so that it is difficult to fudge the answers. Provide scenario-based questions to see how potential employees would handle difficult situations, or ask questions that only someone with the right skill set can answer. The survey shouldn’t take too long to complete, but it will yield insights into the candidate’s’ qualifications and knowledge, so that you can save yourself time by scheduling telephone interviews with only the most promising candidates.

 

#3 Give homework.

A paid test assignment, or a homework assignment of some sort, is the final task that many employers can add to find great candidates. If you’re hiring freelancers, always offer compensation for their time completing a paid test assignment; many professionals won’t touch a free assignment even if the actual gig is promising. The test assignment can be a small sample of a larger project that the candidate would be expected to complete if actually hired for the job.

For full-time employees, a simple ‘homework’ assignment demonstrates several things. First, it shows you how committed and interested they are in the job. Next, it provides proof of their ability to complete work independently. Lastly, it provides you with insight into how well they can meet deadlines. These are three tasks that are difficult to assess from a resume but critical for job success.

See how the candidate responds to the test assignment. Those who are eager for the job will respond positively. Also listen for how well they negotiate deadlines and the questions asked about the assignment. This yields important clues about their work habits, ability to understand direction, and interest in the position.

 

Don’t Settle for Second-Best

It’s tempting to rush the hiring process along. A vacancy means lost productivity and extra work for your current team. However, rushing the hiring process never yields the best candidate. Take your time to find the best fit for your business and your business will prosper.

                               

Should You Hire Temporary Employees for Your Business?

30s young hipster man style working at office with ambient lightDoes this sound like you? You need help handling all the duties of your business, but you don’t want to hire additional permanent employees. Whether you’re looking ahead to holiday shopping season or suddenly need summer staff, temporary workers might be able to fill the bill.

Temporary workers can help a small business in many situations:

  • You are faced with sudden, unexpected demand for your product or service, but aren’t sure how long it will last.
  • You need workers to help with seasonal tasks, such as employees to help your accounting firm get through tax season or retail employees to handle the holiday shopping rush.
  • One of your permanent employees is on an extended leave, such as maternity or medical leave, and you need someone to handle their position.

The rise of the “freelance economy” has made temporary work more appealing for many people. Last year, the number of temporary workers in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 2.9 million, according to the Commerce Department. But temporary workers are also appealing to small business owners for several reasons:

  • Hourly temporary workers typically are paid less than hourly permanent workers in the same roles, the Commerce Department reports.
  • You don’t pay the workers directly, which saves you time and headaches dealing with payroll, withholding, insurance and benefits. Instead, the temporary agency handles payments to the workers. (However, keep in mind that the total, or “bill rate,” you’ll pay to the agency includes a fee for this service and any benefits the workers receive.)
  • If business slows down, you can let temporary workers go immediately, without having to provide any type of severance and without the emotional strain of laying off a permanent employee.
  • If a temporary employee doesn’t work out as expected, you can generally just request a replacement. No need for the time-consuming and costly process of advertising a job, conducting interviews and hiring a new employee.
  • If the temp does work out spectacularly, and your short-term need becomes ongoing, you can offer the temp a permanent job.

Most temporary workers are in industrial (37 percent) or office/administrative/clerical roles (28 percent), according to the American Staffing Association. But 13 percent work in professional/managerial roles; 13 percent work in engineering, IT or science fields; and 9 percent work in healthcare jobs. This growing specialization in the temp industry means it’s easier to find the exact type of temp you need.

Nor are temps just entry-level workers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Many skilled employees prefer temporary work for its flexibility and as a way to try out potential employers in hopes of getting a permanent job offer. (More than one-third of temps have received a permanent job offer from an employer according to the American Staffing Association.)

If you think temporary employees might be right for you, here are some steps to ensure a successful temporary hire:

  • Be clear with the temporary agency about your needs and expectations. The more specific you can be, the better fit they will be able to find for you.
  • Be sure you understand all the terms of the temporary agreement, including the fees the agency receives, whether you can make a job offer to a temporary employee and whether there are additional fees for doing so.
  • If you know going in that you want to hire temporaries with the potential to become permanent employees, ask about “temp-to-perm” arrangements. Not all temporary workers want permanent jobs, and you don’t want to find the perfect worker only to discover that he or she prefers being a temp.
  • Once temps come on board, treat them as you would any new employee — provide a work space, training and appropriate tools to do the job, and make sure they’re made to feel at home.

Is your business growing and you still need to Incorporate or form an LLC?  Call CorpNet anytime for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638. We would love to help you incorporate a businessform an LLCfile a DBA and more across all 50 United States!

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

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Five Ways To Keep Your Business On Track When School’s Out For Summer

A super happy boy is smiling at the camera while on the beach, isolated against the sky, with vintage style color.

School’s out for the kids in the summer, but there’s no such thing as a summer off from work for people starting a business or running a business who have school-aged children. Entrepreneurs like you and me, who want to do stellar jobs as professionals and parents, often struggle during this time of year. I thoroughly enjoy having the kids at home, but I admit it’s sometimes daunting to find ways to occupy their time and give them the attention they deserve while also focusing on my business.

Sound familiar? I’ll bet it does!

Here are a few ideas that might help if you’re struggling to figure out how you’ll manage family and work responsibilities this summer:

  • Take advantage of your ability to set your own schedule. If you run your business from home full-time, consider starting work earlier in the morning and/or working later into the day or night so you can take breaks during the day to spend quality time with your kids. If you have another office location, you might think about splitting your time between the office and home. For example, I usually work in the office Tuesdays through Thursdays and then from home on Mondays and Fridays during the summer months. When at home, I work super early in the morning before the kids wake up and then at night after they go to bed—that schedule allows me to stay on track professionally while giving my children lots of time, too.
  • Enroll your children in day or overnight camps. I’m amazed at all the options available. There are camps devoted to nearly every interest or activity—sports, theater, band, nature, church, etc.—and they give kids a wonderful opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills, and circle of friends while you keep your nose to the grindstone.
  • Get a membership to your local public pool. Depending on the ages of your children, you might feel comfortable dropping them off for a few hours of fun with their friends while you go back to the office. Or why not go to the pool with them and soak up some sun while you tackle some work on your laptop or tablet?
  • Let them spend time with friends. Even if their friends visit your kids at your house, it’s possible to accomplish some work tasks from home while they hang out. I love this option because you know where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing—which frees your mind to get things done.
  • Plan ahead! Your best bet for successfully juggling having the kids at home and tackling your business obligations this summer is to prepare for the change in working M.O. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants from day to day. Plan ahead for each upcoming week (ideally for each upcoming month) so you’ll have an agenda secured for your kids—and in turn, the ability to plan your work more effectively.

The key to keeping your kids happy and satisfied and not missing a beat with your business in the summer will depend on several variables—unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Consider the ages of your children, their level of independence, and their interests while also assessing your business goals, workload, resources, and client expectations. It may take some trial and error to figure out your secret formula, but have patience. The best of both worlds can be yours each summer.

Ready to take your business to the next level this summer? Contact the CorpNet.com team to incorporate, form an LLC, file a DBA and more across all 50 states! Call anytime at 888.449.2638 for a free business consultation

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How Being A Mom Makes You A Better Business Owner

FullSizeRender-22While many people may think that parenthood and running a business collide like oil and water, I can tell you from direct experience they’re mistaken.

My family has always fueled my successes rather than stand in the way of me achieving them. And as Mother’s Day 2016 approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the many ways being a mom to my four children has made me a more effective and intuitive entrepreneur. I want to share them here because I believe other entrepreneurial moms (and moms-to-be) out there should feel confident in embracing how motherhood strengthens them professionally, too.

How Can Being A Mom Make You A Better Entrepreneur?

  • You learn to listen.

As a mom, I’ve become more adept at actively listening, so I truly understand what’s happening with my kids and how I can guide them. Listening, of course, is a critical skill for earning the respect and trust of clients, too.

  • You develop patience. 

Yes, children can and will test your patience from time to time. I can vouch for that. But over time, I’ve learned that getting frustrated or angry never helps. As a parent, you’ve no choice but to work on becoming more patient—and that’s a characteristic that helps immensely when working with customers, as well.

  • You become more punctual and organized.

Whether you have one or ten children, parenthood demands that you have your act together. As a mom, I’ve become better at planning, paying attention to schedules, setting priorities, and keeping details in order.

  • Your public speaking skills improve.

When talking to children, you need to keep the message clear and you need to make your point before their short attention spans expire. That’s very similar to what you’re dealing with when speaking publicly. I’ve found that when I’m speaking—whether at large events or in small group settings—I’m more direct and clear as a result of being a mom.

  • You learn to establish boundaries.

While it’s tempting to try to be your kids’ best friend, that can have devastating effects in the long run. The same can be true if you put being a best friend ahead of being a good leader to your employees.

  • You open your mind and learn not to overreact.

While I’m happy my children appear to feel comfortable telling me anything and everything, I admit that I’ve been caught off-guard on occasion. Rather than overreact, I’ve learned to keep an open mind and calm demeanor so as not to alienate them or betray their trust in me. Applying that same objectivity and composure in challenging business situations can help lead to solutions faster than getting caught up in the drama.

  • You realize the importance of setting a good example for others.

Seeing how my children look up to me as role model, I’ve become more in tune with and aware of my actions and reactions. This helps in business, too. Actions really do speak louder than words. Lead by the example of how you conduct yourself rather than telling people what you expect of them.

As you can see, there are many correlations between being a mom and being a business owner. Whether you have a family and are just starting a business or have a business and are just starting a family, embrace how the two entwine to make your life—personally and professionally—all the richer.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Small Businesses & Retirement: What You Need to Know

Top view of male hand assembling the word Retirement with white cards over textured rustic wooden desk.

Did you know that 68 million employees don’t have a retirement savings plan at all? This is often due to the fact that their employers — often small businesses — don’t offer employer-sponsored retirement plans. And small businesses aren’t eager to offer retirement plans for employees, either because they don’t know how to go about doing it or they can’t afford to.

But that may soon change. Illinois is leading the pack with recent legislation that will make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement planning to employees without a lot of paperwork.

Why Hasn’t This Happened Sooner?

Illinois isn’t alone in its concern over this topic; about half of the US states are considering similar plans. But what’s held them back is fear of being sued under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which puts the U.S. Department of Labor in charge of regulating retirement plans.

Illinois’ plan will reduce liability for states and employers and make it easier for other states to follow suit. It’s still early days, and the guidelines likely won’t be implemented until sometime in 2016. The retirement savings plan will be provided by the state, not employers, which takes the pressure off of them. Continue reading “Small Businesses & Retirement: What You Need to Know” »

By | December 14th, 2015|Business Finance, Managing People|0 Comments