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Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

The Ethics of Outsourcing

November 24th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

These days, you can outsource anything. You can have a virtual assistant in India checking your phones, a call center in the Philippines handling your customer service and a manufacturer in China creating your product. But there are some ethical questions that go along with the decision to outsource your business’ tasks. Those questions won’t stop you from outsourcing, but they may cause you to think about what you’re outsourcing and how.

Am I Being Fair to My Employees?

If you’ve been working with certain employees for the long term and plan to fire them once you outsource the tasks they currently handle, it’s worth thinking about what that will mean for your employees. You have no obligation to keep on an employee if you find an outsourcing opportunity, but if you have a great working relationship with your employees, simply letting them go can be an uncomfortable prospect. Take a look at the situation and see if there are other opportunities, like offering them some of the tasks that simply can’t be outsourced.

You might also think about your new employees. You might find an outsourcing company that swears $1.50 is a fair wage overseas, but it’s important to look into that for yourself and decide if you’ll really get the value you need from an employee paid at that rate. You may find that not all local organizations are comfortable with the idea that you might be paying such a low rate for your labor, and you’ll need to be able to assure them that you’re paying a fair wage if you want to work with them in the future.

Am I Providing the Best Value to My Customers?

It may sound well and good to hand your customer service off to someone else, but that can easily mean that the first person a new customer interacts with doesn’t speak English as a first language. That’s not necessarily as helpful for your customers as you might hope, and it can make for a less than ideal experience for customers whom you would like to continue selling to. The same goes for manufacturing and other parts of your business you might outsource. You want to be sure that your customers are continuing to get the value they expect from your business if you outsource any part of your company.

If you can’t guarantee that value, that might be a stopping point for your outsourcing plans. You may have a lower margin of profit using local labor or doing something yourself, but you might have lower profits entirely if you can’t keep your customers happy. The changeover just may not be worth it for a small business.

Image by Flickr user Marc Smith (Creative Commons)

How to Apply Marketing Strategies to Attract the Best and Brightest When You’re Hiring

November 10th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

Though I currently have two superb interns, I know that eventually I will have to write a job description and craft an ad to hire my first employee.  Because I’m a marketing person, why not apply some marketing strategies to attract only top quality applicants?  Why not indeed!  Finding great candidates for a job opening is basically lead generation.  You need to define your target market, position the job and your company in a way that is most attractive to your target market, and promote it through select channels.

Here is how to apply marketing and lead generation strategies to attract the best and brightest candidates when you are hiring:

Define your target market

Write a profile of your ideal candidate, and make it as detailed as possible.  Include:

  • All job experience, education, and certification requirements
  • How much supervision they will need
  • Traits they’ll need to thrive: motivation and energy levels; creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills; familiarity with specific technology, tools, and methods; sales and business development skills, etc.

Sell that job!

Write an energetic, attractive, and clear one-page description of the job that lists all responsiblities and expectations.  Action verbs, adverbs, and adjectives are your friends!  Be sure to specify what, if any, job requirements are non-negotiable.

Include a request for a cover letter and portfolio of work, if applicable.  If the job is a creative one and/or requires a great deal of critical thinking or problem solving, create a hypothetical situation and ask all candidates to describe (within a specified number of words) how they would address the situation/solve the problem.

Position your company as a great place to work

If your company is growing; the job is challenging; there is a great opportunity to learn new skills, lead projects, and grow with the company; the work environment is casual; employees can bring their dogs; telecommuting is allowed…mention it!

List all aspects of the company that make it especially attractive.   Start with your location and include information on your office building, qualities of the neighborhood, access to public transportation, and convenience to restaurants and shops.  Discuss salary and benefits in as much detail as you’re comfortable sharing.

Promote the job

Skip the large online job boards.  Post the ad on your website, relevant professional interest listservs, niche job boards, your Facebook page, and industry-specific LinkedIn groups.  (I would avoid Twitter unless you have a very industry-specific following.)  E-mail the ad to clients, business partners, and professional associations; include a note requesting that it be forwarded appropriately.

Image by Flickr user HiredMYWay (Creative Commons)

What Your Hiring Process Says About Your Company’s Brand

November 4th, 2010 :: Karen Axelton

By Karen Axelton

As the economy shows signs of picking up, more small businesses are considering hiring employees. If yours is one of them, take some time to think about your hiring process and what it says about your firm.

While many of us think of the hiring process in terms of how our businesses can be hurt (for instance, if we neglect to do a background check, we might hire a criminal), few of us think about the point David Lee makes in this article: Creating a poor hiring experience can permanently hurt your business brand.

When you’ve weeded down job applications and resumes to a precious few, what do you do before you contact those candidates? You probably go online and search their names. Well, you can be certain that job candidates are doing the same thing with your company. And if anyone they know has had a bad experience applying or interviewing at your company, they’re likely to share those thoughts.

Before you place your next want ad or start networking for candidates, take some time to assess your hiring process with an outsider’s eye. Here are some basic questions to ask:

  • Is it easy to apply for a job? Your ad should clearly state the process by which people should apply. Specify who to contact and what to do (and not to do). This saves time on their end, and on yours.
  • Are requirements clearly explained? Any applications, tests or projects that applicants need to fill out or complete before a live interview should be clearly explained. The applicant should be able to contact a specific person at your business with any questions.
  • Are interviewees treated courteously? The environment of the interview gives applicants a glimpse into what it’s like to work for you. I’ll never forget one job interview where I was kept waiting for two hours in a chair next to the office copier while my future boss kept postponing the interview because she was swamped. That should have been a sign to me not to take the job.
  • Do applicants receive a response? It’s simple to set up an automated response by e-mail. Everyone who applies should get at least this courtesy. But you’d be surprised how many companies take employees through several interviews, then never contact them again. One of my friends recently traveled to another state at her own expense for a second interview with a major company. After an intense series of interviews with a team of executives, the firm never contacted her again. Not only that, but her voice mail messages and e-mails went unanswered.

No matter how busy you are, taking time to treat job applicants properly pays off for your business’s brand. More than that, it’s simply the right thing to do.

Thinking of Hiring? Do It Now to Benefit From the HIRE Act

October 29th, 2010 :: mhaubrich

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Are you thinking about hiring? With the economy showing signs of recovery, many small business owners are. If you’re one of them, it’s a good idea to get moving before the end of 2010. Why? Because through January 2010, you can still take advantage of tax breaks associated with the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.

The HIRE Act gives employers tax incentives to hire workers who have been unemployed for 60 days or longer. If a company hires such workers, wages paid to them are exempted from the employer’s 6.2 percent share of Social Security payroll taxes for the rest of this year. Employers can also claim a tax credit of up to $1,000 for each qualified worker they hire who is retained for one year.

As of August 2010, U.S. businesses have hired an estimated 8.1 million new workers eligible under the HIRE act, and have gotten billions in the tax exemptions and credits. The program can be especially helpful to companies in states with big pools of qualified unemployed workers, such as California.

You don’t have to have previously laid employees off to be eligible for the exemptions, and there is no minimum age requirements or minimum hours worked for qualified new hires. To get more information about the restrictions and details of the program, as well as the forms you’ll need to claim the tax credits and exemptions, visit the IRS website.

Image by Flickr user Andrew Magill (Creative Commons)

DISCLAIMER: The information posted in this blog is provided for informational purposes.  Legal information is not the same as legal advice — the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. The information presented here is not to be construed as legal or tax advice. Network Solutions recommends that you consult an attorney or tax consultant if you want professional assurance that the information posted, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular business.

Founder at Work: Mike Ramsay, Co-founder of TiVo

October 13th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

In the newest installment of my monthly “Founder at Work” series, I turn the spotlight on Mike Ramsay, co-founder of TiVo, which was launched way back in 1999.  As Jessica Livingston says in her book Founders at Work, TiVo, like Google, has become such an integral part of our lives that its name is now a verb.  The digital video recorder (DVR) has revolutionized the way we watch TV, and unlike VCRs, it is actually easy to use (no more blinking 12:00).

Here’s what we can learn from Mike Ramsay, who founded TiVo in 1997 with Jim Barton.

If it’s boring, make it fun. Mike, who is originally from Scotland, was very inspired by the confident, can-do attitude in the US, especially in Silicon Valley.  Even though he’s an engineer by training, he has the creative mind of an entrepreneur.  He wanted to do something with computers in the entertainment space, because most computer applications can be really boring.  At the time, he was working at Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) and spending a lot of time with movie people.  His one-time colleague at Hewlett-Packard, Jim Barton, was working on a video-on-demand system for SGI, but they knew they could do something better together.  After numerous lunch meetings, they decided to launch a company that made an easy-to-use, interactive television system for consumers.

Focus your business. TiVo was originally a “home server network thing” loaded with applications.  Mike and Jim quickly realized this was way too complicated and would be a hard sell for the average consumer.  Because it had so many apps, they decided to focus on the one killer app that consumers would go for.  They thought the DVR idea was the best.

Create a playground atmosphere at work. Mike was very worried about attracting a great team of engineers to design the best DVR possible.  The best and brightest look for a challenge—they want a playground that gives them the freedom to play around and figure out a solution.  The DVR required a user-friendly interface, it had to be controlled by remote, and the very complex technology behind it was totally new—it had to simultaneously record and playback and be easy to program and use.  Because it was a consumer product, it couldn’t be outrageously expensive, but it had to work perfectly.  The challenges were big enough that within 6 months, they had assembled a brilliant team of engineers.

Don’t underestimate the competition…to make mistakes. Back in the early days, TiVo had one competitor, Replay, which launched a DVR right after TiVo.  The competition between the two companies was fierce, but eventually Replay did TiVo a big favor.  They introduced automatic commercial skipping and they let you share programs over the Internet.  The media companies went ballistic and sued Replay.  TiVo suddenly looked like the good guy in the DVR market, and media companies from Disney to Viacom put money into the company.  Mike said he still doesn’t understand why they did so, but he acknowledged that TiVo is now a media company rather than a consumer product company.

How to Grab a Good Employee from Another Company

June 10th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

We’ve all done it. We’ve seen a top-notch employee at another company and thought about how wonderful it would be if that person was working for us. We’ve considered how we might be able to lure that wonderful employee away. But, no matter how much you think that a prospective new hire could help your business, handling this sort of project requires a certain level of care.

Don’t Put the Employee in an Awkward Spot

Many people look for new jobs even when they already have a pretty good gig going. But that doesn’t mean they want their current boss to be aware that they’re considering other options. It’s important to keep your search for a new employee from interfering with their day-to-day work. After all, you wouldn’t want someone to come into your office and try to hire one of your employees when they were on the clock.

Rather than trying to discuss a job opportunity at a prospective employee’s current job, tell him or her that you have an opportunity that you’d like to discuss and invite them to call you when they’re off the clock.

To the same end, there are plenty o employees that are comfortable where they currently are. You may get a simple ‘not interested’ when you’re trying to recruit someone and it’s important to leave it at that. If someone enjoys their current job, they may not be interested in any opportunity you give them and may not work out as well as you might hope.

Be Willing to Negotiate

Great employees earn perks and if you want to convince a good hire that they’ll enjoy working with you as much as their current employer, you have to be willing to be flexible. It comes down to what will convince an employee to move jobs. For some people, it’s simply a question of more money. But for many others, they may be happy with the same salary if you can provide a flexible work schedule, health insurance or some other benefit that they simply don’t have right now.

Ask what your prospective employee wishes was different about their current job and start from there. Opening with an offer of a higher salary (especially if you don’t know what someone’s current salary is) can be a harder sell.

Examine Why You Want This Employee

If you have a gut reaction that an employee would be a good fit in your business, that’s not a bad thing. But it’s important to look deeper: if you notice that someone is a fabulous salesman, but you’ve already got a pretty good salesman in place, it may not be worth going through the hiring process. It takes time to get a new hire up to speed and if your business can’t already support any employees you want to bring on, it can be tough to bring in someone new. Make sure that you can’t afford to wait until you were planning to hire if you really want to grab an employee from another company.

Image by Flickr user Oskay

Prospective Employees and Social Media: What Are the Rules?

April 15th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

When you’re hiring someone new for your business, it’s tempting to go online and search for his or her name. The information that Google can give you can help you quickly decide whether you really want to hire a particular person. But you do have to be careful with what you go looking for in terms of a prospective employee’s social networking accounts and other information available online.

The Question of Discrimination

Many HR professionals will automatically reject candidates who include a photo or personal information with their resumes. Having such a policy is meant to prevent accusations of discrimination: if you don’t know what a prospective employee looks like or details like religion, you can’t be accused of discrimination if you choose not to hire that particular person. But a wide variety of information is available on the average social networking account.

For instance, on Facebook, you could see information about not only an applicant’s religion, but also his or her relationship status, orientation, political views and far more. That sort of information makes it very easy for a potential employee to claim discrimination if he or she chooses. Unless there is a very good reason otherwise, it’s typically best to simply not visit a prospective employee’s social networking profile. LinkedIn is typically an exception to that rule, since the site is geared towards employment and includes very little problematic information.

Beyond Social Networking

There’s a lot more to the internet than just Facebook and other social networking site, and much of that information is fair game. However, it is important to be cautious when looking up a prospective employee. It’s not always easy to tell if the John Smith interviewing for a position with your company is the same John Smith who pops up as the first result in Google. Try to narrow things down as much as possible.

It is worthwhile to look at any blog or website an applicant maintains, especially if it’s relevant to the field that you work in. You can quickly get an understanding of who the person you may soon be working with operates. It may also give you an idea of how that person might portray your business in the future. A blog shouldn’t be a sticking point in hiring someone, either. If there’s an issue, you can always explain your business’ policies on social media before making a job offer.

After the Hire

It is more acceptable to look at social networking profiles and other sensitive details after you’ve extended an offer of employment and your prospective employee has accepted. At that point, you can also ask your new hire to conform to your business’ social media policies, which may include cleaning up their profile or eliminating certain information from their blog. If your new hire is very active in social media, it may be important to have a conversation about their goals and plans in that area.

Image by Flickr user @boetter

Ready To Grow Your Business? Know Thyself Before Hiring

March 29th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

From Aidan Jones on Flickr

I recently met a super cool CPA.  I do realize that statement is (usually) an oxymoron, but this guy is pretty much the opposite of what I expect a numbers-loving, detail-oriented accountant to look and act like.  Jason Howell is one of the nicest, funniest, most friendly people I’ve ever met.  He is full of energy, quick to laugh, and very engaging.  In other words, he’s my kind of people.  After talking to him a couple of times, I realized that not only is he really smart, he is also overflowing with advice for small businesses.  We sat down one recent warm, sunny afternoon to talk about small business finance and money matters.  This post is the first in a series of three based on the wisdom that Jason so generously shared with me.

The idea of hiring my first employee, full-time, part-time, or temporary, is exciting and scary at the same time.  I’m getting busy enough that I don’t really have time for networking anymore.  In the next few months, I should also be on the verge of turning away prospective clients.  In this economy, that’s pretty cool.  On the other hand, hiring an employee strikes fear into my heart.  Just thinking about the additional paperwork (we all know how much I love accounting/finance/tax stuff) and time needed to manage others stops me cold.

Jason said that before you or I think about hiring, we need to think about our business and what we most enjoy doing.   Simple enough!  He said all small business owners have varying levels of expertise in following three areas: 

  1. Technical skills.  We are technically proficient at whatever it is we do.   We might not love everything it is we do, but we are good at doing it.
  2. Management skills.  Some of us are very good at delegating responsibility and leading and managing others.  You can hand over the aspects of your business you don’t enjoy to focus on what you do enjoy.
  3. Sales skills.  Some small business owners think very strategically and are totally sales-focused.  They have a long-term vision of how they can grow their company, and they are good at selling their company’s products and/or services.  These people live for networking and closing the sale.

When you’re ready to hire people, simply figure out which skill it is you enjoy the most.  Is it doing the work, managing others who will do the work for you, or networking and selling your products and/or services?

If you enjoy the technical aspect of your work…Hire a salesperson to network and drive sales.  Train the heck out of that person so they know your business inside and out.  They need to have several elevator speeches ready for different audiences and have the charm and persuasive skills to set up meetings and close deals.  They will be out and about constantly, leaving you time to focus on doing what it is you do.

If you like managing others…Replicate yourself.  Hire people who have the same and/or complimentary skills and pass work over to them.  You’ll still get to do some technical aspects of your business if you choose—the ones you like doing best.  Say you’re a bakery owner.  You specialize in artisanal breads—it’s what you love doing and what you’re known for—but you also make pastries, which you don’t enjoy as much.  Employee A can help you with the bread baking, while Employee B can make the pastries.

If you’re a born salesperson…Find technicians to do whatever it is your company does.  This will allow you to be out networking, selling, and closing deals.

Thinking of Hiring? 5 Questions You Need to Answer First

January 19th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

276639499_f2b002ceaaIn order to grow your business in the next year, you may need a spare pair of hands. But the idea of hiring someone can be intimidating, especially if you’ve been running your business on your own for a while. You’re not just handing off responsibility for your business — you’re also taking responsibility for tasks like making sure your employee gets paid on a regular basis. These questions will help you make sure that you cover all your bases before you start interviewing applicants.

  1. How are you going to handle payroll and other human resources tasks? As an entrepreneur, your time is at a premium. Making sure administrative tasks are completed may not be your highest priority — in fact, that may explain why you’re hiring someone. There are a variety of options for payroll, like having your CPA handle it or using a payroll service. You may not be offering benefits to your employees, but you’re still required to handle payroll taxes and Social Security.
  2. What will your employee do? You may have a general job description in mind, but it’s worth going through and figuring out the tasks you would assign your new hire, as well as how long they’ll take. You may find that you need a part-time employee, rather than a full-time worker, or you may find that you actually have a series of projects in mind, rather than on-going responsibilities. In that case, bringing in a contractor, a temp or a freelancer on an as-needed basis may be a better deal for you.
  3. How do you plan to communicate with your employee? There are a number of communication issues that can come up when you add a new member to your team. If you’re out of the office on a regular basis, it’s best to address that fact before you actually hire someone who you need to train and assign tasks to. If you have a partner in your business or another employee in place, it’s also important to address what the chain of command looks like in your business.
  4. How will you reward your employee? You can get a decent idea of what’s considered market rates for the type of employee you need by looking at help wanted ads. But you may not be able to offer the type of benefits that big corporations can. While you don’t have to offer much beyond a pay check upfront, it’s worth considering in advance what you’re willing to negotiate and whether you want to do something like get health insurance for your employee down the road.
  5. Have you read up on the process of hiring a new employee? There is plenty of bureaucracy that goes along with hiring your first employee, from getting workers’ compensation insurance, registering with your state’s new hire reporting program and verifying employees’ eligibility to work. Depending on the state your business operates in, there may be additional legal steps required by law before you can actually hire your first employee.

Photo — MadeByTess

The top 10 Tips to Hire Right! By Lorne Epstein

October 2nd, 2009 :: Lorne Epstein

The top 10 Tips to Hire Right! By Lorne Epstein

I have been recruiting for 14 years and wanted to share with you my top 10 tips for hiring the right people at your organization regardless of its size or frequency of hire. I have found over my 14 years of recruiting, these 10 tips can be applied to both the largest of organizations as well as the smallest. I would ask you to compare your costs of hiring an employee who never meets your businesses needs to that of taking a methodical approach to interviewing and hiring. They are not listed in a particular order and you may find some not applicable to your situation as they are written but the spirit of point is well worth examining for your specific situation.

  1. Source candidates who are as excited and interested in working for you as you are in hiring them. Never over sell candidates nor try and pull them from an employer just because they are successful there. There are many reasons someone is successful at a company that might not transfer to them working with your organization.
  2. Have several “hoops” for the candidates to jump through. I recommend using phone interviews, written screening questionnaires, on-line personality profiles, and more than one in-person interview. You can come up with more screens based on what the job is.
  3. Make a clear and speedy choice so that an offer can be made within a few days or less of the last in-person interview. The longer you take to extend and offer or rejection, the more it costs your employment brand. Set the candidates follow-up expectations by telling them what will happen after the interview and meet them.
  4. Be honest and up front with candidates by telling them the good and the bad things about working within your organization. This screens candidates and leaves them feeling respected and treated like a professional. I believe you have a moral obligation to be honest.
  5. Tell all candidates that you pass on to keep you in mind as their career develops. As candidates grow and develop they could make a better fit in the future. Work to make every candidate a client or add them to your newsletter, blog feed, etc.
  6. Apply a uniform, concise, and reproducible interview and hiring process. Ensure buy-in from everyone in the hiring process. Train your staff to interview in a cohesive fashion so each interviewer is drilling down into a specific aspect of the candidate. Leave no stone unturned so that when you are done interviewing you are a clear yes or no on extending an offer. If you leave the interview with a maybe you have not done your job.
  7. Focus on delivering an exceptional candidate experience. From the moment candidates hear about your company until they are hired or not, strive to give each candidate a Disney-esq experience so they are more likely to apply again in the future and recommend your company to their friends all of which increase your qualified pool of candidates.
  8. Write clear and accurate job descriptions and commit to what you want applicants to do. This involves writing job descriptions that tell the applicants everything they could possibly want to know. It will help create the screen to bring forward the best candidates. If you bait and switch with the job description it will create negative street credibility, poor moral and decreased productivity.
  9. Leverage your current talent pool to source applicants. Internal referrals put employees at stake for hiring candidates that perform and are a fit. Offer your employees a few thousand dollars to not only send their friends your way, but to qualify them before hand. Set up a process so employees screen candidates.
  10. Take some level of responsibility in preparing candidates when they come in to interview. Let them know who they are interviewing with, about how long it will take, what to expect, and what they expect to learn about from the candidate. Set the candidate up to win. The candidate still has to prepare and do their homework, throwing up obstacles limits the learning you will have during the interview.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article. Please comment below as I appreciate any feedback you have to offer. Pass this along to other business owners if you see fit. I am available to consult with your organization on applying these tips.

Lorne Epstein – CEO of Arlington Soho, has created one of the top ( job applications on Facebook called “InSide Job” ( Lorne is the author of “You’re Hired! Interview skills to get the job”, a step-by-step guide on what to do before, during and after the interview to get the job you want. You can contact him at [email protected]