Q. How do you know if you hired the right person?
A . The short answer is that you know you hired the right person when he or she is delivering the results you reasonably expect, want, and need within the cultural norms of your organization. However, you need to make sure that you are setting your employee up to succeed. To do this, follow these five steps:Read more ...
Q. Would you please give us your thoughts on how best to handle employment gaps? Right now, I am looking for a new position and I very honestly listed the reason for departure from a position several years ago as TWINS. How would you recommend addressing these family gaps and still demonstrate that you are committed to your professional life even if you have a gap?
A. Gaps in employment on a resume can be a red flag for some hiring managers. They can raise concerns about why the candidate wasn’t working. Did he or she lack the ambition to secure a job? Gaps can also raise concerns about skill degradation. An office worker, who has not worked for the past several years because he or she has been raising a family, caring for a sick relative or other completely legitimate reasons, may be seen as lacking skills in current technology. If you have a gap in your employment history, you’ll have to decide how to handle it on your resume. Below are three tips that will help.Read more ...
Q. There's often an assumption that growth is almost always good for small businesses. If revenue is at $500 thousand, $1 million would be better. Once you're at $1 million, $2 million is better. Does that assumption hold up? Is growth always good?
A. There is an oft-repeated mantra in business, “Grow or die!” Many people subscribe to it. The problem is―it’s wrong. In conducting research for our book, Let Go to Grow; why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential, we encountered numerous business owners who debunk this myth. They have successfully operated very lucrative businesses for decades, but have made conscious decisions not to grow their enterprises.Read more ...
Q. My husband and I are in the process of launching our new business. A marketing company wants us to spend more than $20,000 on a host of marketing services (e.g., developing a company name and logo, business cards, letterhead, brochures, graphics standards manual, website, social media campaign, etc.). We could do this, but we would have to dip into our limited savings. Do you think this is a good idea?
A. Probably not, but let’s explore the issue before jumping to a conclusion. Decisions about how to market your business are some of the most important you will make. Obviously, you will have to market your company to succeed. Whoever said, “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door,” was lying. If the world doesn’t know you have a better mousetrap, no one will be knocking on your door. Building a better mouse trap, by itself, is not enough. To succeed, you have to tell the world about your offering—you’ll have to market.
On the other hand, marketing can become a black hole into which you throw your life savings with no return. Too many marketing and advertising companies have a suite of things they offer. They then try to sell this same suite of products to every prospective customer, without regard for whether or not you will benefit from them. Because the only tool they have is a hammer, everything’s a nail. Be wary of such firms. They are happy to take your money but have little to no concern for whether or not your business grows. In our opinion, it’s unethical.
Dollars spent on marketing are an investment, but like any investment, there are good ones and bad ones. To be a good investment marketing dollars must have a positive return. That is a dollar spent on marketing must return more than a dollar. In our experience, few marketing and advertising firms are willing to hold themselves to this standard—find one that is.
Here’s a way to think about your marketing investment. First, you are going to need a few basics:
· Business name – It may be a good idea to hire someone who knows what they are doing, but don’t pay for an exhaustive study. A few hours of a professional’s time and a couple of brainstorming sessions should be sufficient. If not, you hired the wrong person.
· Business cards – In most businesses, without cards, you won’t be credible. You may want to get some help designing your cards, but don’t spend thousands of dollars. Shop around for a fair deal.
· Letterhead and printed envelopes – Our advice is to get printed envelopes, but insist that your letterhead be electronic so that you can print it on your color printer. We let a marketing company sell us printed letterhead and have probably used about one sheet per year. By the way, make sure that whoever develops the electronic version of your letterhead sets things up so that pages of your communication beyond the first one look good.
· Website – These days, every business needs a website. Most people will check out your website before doing business with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to explain your business proposition clearly and concisely. It also needs to contain your contact information so that people can get in touch with you.
· Email address – Your business email address should be your name @ your company’s URL.com. When deciding on a company name, make sure that the URL is available. Don’t use a yahoo, gmail or hotmail account. It will hurt your credibility.
Beyond these basics, don’t spend money on marketing until you know the segment of the market you are targeting and the best way to reach them. Answer the three questions every business must answer:
1. Why should a prospective customer buy my product or service rather than a competitor’s?
2. Is there a segment of the market that values the thing that differentiates my offering and is it large enough to support my business?
3. How will I reach this customer segment with my marketing message?
Only after you have clear answers to these questions can you put together a marketing plan that will have a positive return on your investment. Marketing is necessary. It can be costly. After you have the basics described above, make sure you have a clear plan for generating a return on your marketing investment before spending more money.Read more ...
a. In our opinion, asking applicants (female or male) whether they have children is not a good practice. That’s a can of worms that you just don’t want to open. It’s also completely unnecessary. You can get the information you seek without asking questions that may be perceived as inappropriate.
Having children does not necessarily make an employee less reliable―parents may have childcare arrangements. In our fifty-plus years of business experience, we have disciplined many childless employees for attendance issues. We have also worked with many colleagues who had children and showed up to work on time every day. Our opinion aside, you have already answered your own question. If you want to know whether a person will come to work, on time, every day when scheduled, the first step is to ask that question.