I have an idiosyncratic view of life in small to medium sized companies based on a lifetime of experience, and I think that there is a real employee culture problem out there.  What I see with a number of the owners I work with is that when it comes down to the true essentials many owners are actually afraid of their employees.

Outsourcing Payroll

The prize for the “worst single waste of time for a business” must go to those who handle payroll internally rather than outsourcing it. Payroll is the ultimate commodity where, for a miniscule outlay a month as a percentage of payroll, you can offload a complex, time consuming task.
If asked, most of us would say that our business was focused on what our customers need. The reality, however, is often a little different as many businesses tend to spend more attention on their own issues than they do on their customers’ needs.
A number of business owners that I meet tell me that the reason they prepare their monthly financials in the format they do is because that is how they report to the IRS. “We pay taxes on a cash basis, so we prepare all our financials that way”.
Most businesses require both an inside person and an outside person. The skills and personality required for each are quite different, and they seldom reside within the same individual. As a result, the business owner is likely to be much better at one than the other...and therein lies the problem.
When I first started my business life and found myself in negotiations with hard-nosed, unscrupulous people, I felt at a disadvantage in a number of ways. They weren’t at all interested in win:win, and the issue that I found the most difficult to cope with was the addition of additional negotiating points after I’d made a concession.

Delegate the Insomnia

If you have ever woken up at 3 AM worrying about your company, you probably felt pretty lonely. That’s the worst time, and it feels as if the whole burden lies on your shoulders.....and it usually does. It is natural for people who own the business to own the worry as well….but it doesn’t have to be that way. 
I hear many business owners talking about getting the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats.  This important concept comes from Good to Great by Jim Collins, and while it has become popular in business usage, I’m not sure how many people are actively pursuing this philosophy in real time.
Business owners today are finding it increasingly difficult to find employees, and one on the best ways to solve the problems created by a tight labor market is to reorganize your business using 80/20 principles. When you have gone through the reorganization process described in xxxxxxxxx, it creates a significant opportunity to hire within your existing employee pool. 

The $100 P&L Education Exercise

One of the issues in business is that your employees think you make a lot more money than you actually do.  They see the revenue side of the equation and probably think that your revenues are greater than they are.  More damagingly, they don’t see your costs clearly and almost certainly underestimate what it costs you to run the business.

The Death of the Apostrophe

A number of the articles in the ‘Unintentional Humor’ section are here because of the incorrect use (or lack of use) of the apostrophe. This is a simple, yet much misused, grammatical device that has a vital role in making writing unambiguous. Its death was spurred on this week because a society dedicated to preserving the correct use of the apostrophe shut down.
As I work with business owners, we often talk about accomplishing their personal vision of taking more time off, and there are any number of things that make this difficult. The biggest challenge lies in organizing the business to be able to function without you, but there are some simple things you can do that will make it much more likely to happen.
One of the most frequent weasel words you hear as an employer are some variant of: “it’s not for me but for my family”. Beware when you hear this…it often signals the need for a pay raise, but it can also be an indication that what is coming is not only self-serving but that it will probably cause you some pain and may in some way be unethical.
One of the easiest and most important things to outsource is COBRA administration. Not only does it meet my VICE criteria, but it is something that carries a big potential liability and can create significant discord in the workplace.
When tough economic times arrive, there are so many different actions that business owners need to take that it can become bewildering. What is needed is a road map and here is a checklist of 50 important items for surviving and prospering in a challenging economy.
One of the mistakes I most frequently see in business is owners not making a clear distinction between their ownership position in the company and the role that they fulfill, and this can be very damaging. As an owner, you should be paid a salary for what you do and get a return on what you own. You should be paid for the job that you actually perform and the financial reward for your ownership will come as a return in the form of profits and growth in the value of your equity. 
Meetings can be the curse of business, and if you are not careful they can be the single biggest impediment to productivity. The danger is that if you run meetings that are unfocused and don't accomplish anything, then you not only waste your people's time but also demotivate them. You can actually reduce communication rather than improve it.
Business owners often balk at giving personal guarantees but they are a fact of life in most banking relationships for small to medium-sized businesses. What guarantors often overlook is the benefit to them of the bank having adequate collateral for the loan and ensuring that it has been properly perfected.
Business owners pay their employees regularly, but many don’t pay themselves at the same time,  and this is a serious mistake that can lead to failure to achieve key personal financial goals. One major reason to own a business is to make more money for yourself than you could by working for somebody else, yet many people put themselves at the bottom of the list, get paid after everybody else and end up making less, not more. 
We all have a time of day when we are at our most productive. For most people, this is limited to about three hours, and it comes at different times of day for different people. This is the time when you have the most energy, the time of day when you can really get things done. I call that Prime Time, and identifying it and protecting it is a critical component of The Time Edge process.  

Using a Negotiation Process

When you come up on the short end of a negotiation, it is almost always because you haven’t prepared and paid attention to the process. A strong process will help you avoid the twin pitfalls of neediness and focusing on the result and help you prepare for and focus on the things you can control within the negotiation. 

Patients Rewarded

This was an email I received from my local Y. 
I hadn’t realized until I saw the notice that the clientele is largely doctors who refer their patients for exercise therapy. 
You get the behaviors you pay for, not the ones you say you want. It is essential that your incentive compensation plan matches your marketing plan, and they must be kept synchronized during the year if your incentives are to drive the business that you want.  
On June 14th 2016 The Alternative Board put together a panel of digital recruitment specialists to discuss how to find more candidates using online tools. The panel was moderated by Tristram Gillen - Customer Success Manager: Global Accounts, LinkedIn.
A client of mine had a huge backlog in one area of his business. It was frustrating him greatly and he couldn’t seem to get it under control. As we discussed the problem, it emerged that the backlog had been there for years but wasn’t getting any bigger, and this led to a major AHA on his part.  
By Jamie Herzlich  Newsday BUSINESS•COLUMNISTS
When the US space program was sending people into outer space it was reported that $12 million was spent on a pen that would write at zero gravity. The result was a technical marvel that once again showed American ingenuity at its best……but the Russians achieved the same practical result at zero cost by arming their astronauts with a pencil.
How often have you found that what you accomplished didn’t bring the result you expected? All too often, business owners find that they don’t get what they thought they were getting. When they get there (wherever there is), they find that what they have done has essentially been a waste of time and effort, that it has simply become an exercise in futility. This is a process that I call “capturing Greenland”.

Use 80/20 to Manage Your Time

I’ve talked for years about how Time Management is a poor name because you can’t manage time. What you can manage is the way that you spend your time, and the activities that you allow in your day. Using 8020 principles is the best way to figure out how to restructure your day.

Employee Financial Education

Business owners tend to think their employees understand more about finances than they actually do and simply shrug their shoulders when the topic of educating employees comes up.  They are nervous about sharing financial information, but what your employees don’t know can hurt the company and educating them is very important.
While your company may have many different lines of business, it is very important that you appear to have as much specialization as possible in whatever product or service you are promoting at any given time.  Let’s say you are a full-service accounting firm that, alongside your core accounting services, also specializes in clients in the construction industry.

PPP Application Form

SBA Form 2483
While partnerships can deliver great value in running an organization, the behavioral styles of the partners are often very different. This can lead to irritation and confrontation that not only puts a significant strain on their relationship but also damages the culture and effectiveness of the company.
Absenteeism is visible; Presenteeism isn’t. It is the problem right in front of your face, the one you can’t see. To see the problem, you need to put in systems to measure effectiveness rather than attendance – to focus on measurable results rather than just being there.
This section comprises ten basic hiring mistakes that I see companies making over and over again. I will look at the 10 most common mistakes, identify where they fit into the hiring process and offer suggestions for how they can be corrected.
One of the areas where owners and managers consistently fail is in putting things in writing to their employees, and in an increasingly litigious employment environment, this can be both damaging and costly.

Employee Behaviors

I started my own company from the ashes of another corporation I was running, and brought about seven people over with me. I then grew that organization to 225 employees over the next 11 years, and probably had in the region of 400 different people working for me in the company.
How many things are you doing in your business that could be handled by another organization that specializes in just that task and does it better than you ever will? By insisting on handling it yourself, how much time do you waste and, more importantly, how much risk are you taking?
Over the years I have done a large number of direct mail campaigns followed up by telemarketing.  The big question has always been where to buy the list to be mailed, and I have always felt that the quality of the list was much more important than the price I paid for it.  This really is one of those areas where the more you pay the more it's worth.

Are you Hard of Listening?

We all use the phrase ‘hard of hearing’. We generally apply it to older people, but there is an affliction that affects people of all ages…..an inability to listen. I call that being ‘hard of listening’ and it is something well worth taking time to correct.