Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

First day on the job – pretend you just moved in together

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Think of the hiring process like ‘dating’ your candidate. There’s no commitment, you’re feeling each other out, trying to see if she is ‘the one’. You’re building a relationship that you hope will not only be long-lasting, but also, mutually beneficial.  Things are going well, you’re both into each other so you decide that you’re ready to move to the next level and you make an offer. An offer to ‘move in with you’. It’s a commitment, a big step up from your current relationship. There are logistics to work out, and costs involved. She will have to give notice on her old ‘place’, but you’re both excited about this new relationship so it’s worth the risk.

Now imagine it’s moving day, and she arrives at your place to find that you’ve made little to no preparations for her arrival. There’s no room for her stuff, you haven’t gotten her a key, the place is a mess and you aren’t there to greet her when she arrives. How do you think she’s going to feel about this relationship that she was so excited about? What do you think her disappointment  is going to do for the potential long-term success of this new relationship? There’s no way anyone would be that un-prepared right?

And yet, we see it all the time when we start new jobs. We show up on the first day of a new job and there’s no computer for us, no email, no phone, or even no desk. We aren’t introduced to the people we’re going to be working with. Nobody takes the time to show us where the washroom or the coffee is. We aren’t made to feel welcome at all and all that goodwill that was generated throughout the hiring process goes right away instantaneously.

It’s an easy problem to avoid. Create a detailed on-boarding checklist that’s followed for every new employee. Be as ready for them on their first day as you expect them to be ready.

Categories: Small Business

Why losers get hired – The Stigma of Uncomfortableness

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Every organization out there, big or small has made a bad hiring decision. Some organizations are riddled with B, C and D players. We spend hours crafting interview questions and agendas, we check references, and yet people who aren’t very good continually find ways to get themselves hired. Why does this happen?

Mark Horstmann at Manager-Tools once said that interviewing is about looking for a reason to say no. Unfortunately most people aren’t looking very hard because it’s uncomfortable to do so. When a candidate avoids a question by giving a canned response that doesn’t really answer the question it’s uncomfortable to drill down and MAKE them give us a real answer. When we ask “what are your weaknesses?” and a candidate for a sales position answers “well I’m not very technical so don’t ask me to change the toner.” we don’t press for a real weakness that’s job related and what they are doing to work on it. Putting people on the spot is hard. It’s not something you probably do in your social life, and it doesn’t come naturally to most of us as interviewers.

The good news is that it doesn’t take very much effort to be just a little bit better than every one else. Force yourself to make candidates answer the question that you ask, don’t shy away from making things uncomfortable, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of reasons to say no to someone to whom you might have said yes.

Categories: Small Business

Measurement Manifesto

“The things that get measured are the things that get done. Companies measure the stuff they care about.” – Mark Horstman

“That which is measured, improves.”

Measure everything.

There are 2 distinctive measurements you should use to capture and accurate picture of the performance of your business. The first and most common are lagging indicators. These are measurements of results and include examples such as: revenue, expenses, average days outstanding etc.

The second and far less measured type are leading indicators. These are generally measurements of activities and behaviours that should lead to successful outcomes. They might include such things as: number of cold calls per day/week, or days from date of sale to date of invoice.

Not only is it important to measure both leading and lagging indicators in order to ensure things get done, but it’s also important to ensure that we’re constantly improving.

Having a wide variety of good data is also going to ease the decision making process by removing a great deal of the uncertainty.

Measure everything.

Categories: metrics, Small Business Tags:

The best presentation is NO presentation

A great article by everyone’s favorite blogger Seth Godin. I can’t tell you how many ineffectual presentations I’ve sat through that could have just as easily been sent around in an email. Presentations should only be used when persuasion or buy-in are required. If the purpose is solely to update or provide information, send an email.

The Best presentation is no presentation

The Power of Free

McDonald’s Corp. said global sales rose 6.9 percent in April based partially on sales of the new McCafe line of coffee beverages. McDonalds promoted the new line by offering free small coffees for a period in April. The cost of the free coffee to McDonald’s is fairly insignificant, but the perceived benefit to the customer relatively high, especially if that customer is someone who is buying a coffee every morning as many of us do. Nobody illustrates that better than Photographer Chris Jordan who’s series Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait demonstrates the immense scale of our consumption.

Read more…

Categories: Marketing, Small Business

Small business killer #1: Cashflow

This will be the first entry in a series I’m calling “The Small Business Killers”. Unfortunately the list of problems that can sink a small business is very long. My goal here is to provide real actionable steps that can be taken to mitigate the impact these problems can have on your business. So let’s get started.

Poor cashflow is like the zombie apocalypse we see in so many horror movies today. It starts out a small problem, an isolated outbreak, but over time it builds and builds, mostly under the radar, until your business becomes overrun by it and unable to survive.

What’s worse is that, just like zombies, it spreads from company to company. Company As bad cashflow causes them to pay their vendor, Company B, slowly, who in turn has to pay their vendor, Company C, slowly as well, and so on and so on.

The good news is that there is hope. A few behaviors added on a regular basis can dramatically improve your cash position.

Read more…

Categories: cashflow, Small Business Tags: