Employer-Employee Rules for Successfully Running A Small
You've just been in a serious
car accident. You've got massive internal injuries and a
broken jaw. You're going to be in the hospital at least a
month. Your jaw is wired shut so you can't use the phone.
Will your business run easily and well while you recover?
Will your customers be served while you are gone? If you've
just experienced heart failure over this prospect, the
following list is for you. The information below, if put
into practice, will reduce your stress, increase your
business' productivity, and give you the vacation you so
richly deserve. Here's the top ten things you can do to make
your business run as smoothly as possible.
1. Hire wisely.
Most businesses hire bodies for particular jobs rather than
people to help build a future. Your business is only as good
as each individual employee's contribution to its
functioning. Therefore, look for the three i's when you
hire: intelligence, initiative, and integrity. For every
position, from receptionist to packing clerk, hire only the
best you can find. Conversely, if you have current employees
who are not performing well, consider whether they are a
wise investment of your money.
2. Build a team, not your
Many employers let their egos dominate their interactions
with their employees. Stop the pattern. Instead, trust your
employees to do their jobs. Make each employee feel that
they are an invaluable member of the company team. Let each
employee know they are an integral part of the company's end
product. Set the example for positive interaction at all
times between members of the team even when ideas or
performance must be corrected.
3. Reward well.
When you get good employees, reward them financially and
emotionally. Be sure their pay is at least at market rate.
Take time often to acknowledge each employee's contribution.
The two biggest loyalty builders are two simple words--
4. Be hands on.
Know each employee's job and how to do it. This not only
gives you an automatic reserve employee and trainer(yourself),
but has an added bonus. If you show an employee that you are
willing to learn or have learned his/her job, you are
communicating that you believe their work has value. Every
employee needs to know that whether they are emptying trash
cans, setting the presses, or selling the large accounts,
their work is worthwhile and valuable.
5. Make your employees
In a small company, every employee should know how to do at
least two jobs, particularly on the technical and service
sides. For critical tasks, at least three employees should
know how to do each job. Thus, you always have an
on-the-premises reserve who can step in when needed.
6. Give away tasks, but not
What is it you do best? Are you the idea man, the best
salesman in your company, the organizer? Find your best
talent and then delegate all other tasks to your employees.
Train them appropriately to do their job, let them know you
have confidence in their ability to perform well, and then
let them do their jobs. Adding responsibility with
confidence will increase your employee's willingness to work
and their pride in the company's end result. At the same
time, you must maintain ultimate leadership. In any well run
ship, the captain makes final decisions and you are still
the captain, albeit a benign one.
7. Communicate, communicate,
You must talk with your employees, solicit their
suggestions, and positively correct their mistakes.
Conversely, you must create an atmosphere where employees
are willing and able to talk with you. The two best sources
of information on how your business is doing and how to
improve it are your employees and your customers. Pay
attention to both.
8. Give your best and always
and encourage the same in your employees.
Pride in the company and its product or service always
begins at the top. If you give a half effort or let a
sloppily produced product go out the door to a client, you
are sending a message to your employees that you do not
respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt
that view as well. If you set the example of giving the
extra effort, pitching in when needed,caring about your
fellow team members, working as a unit to be the best in
your particular business, and taking care of the bottom
line, your employees worth having and keeping will follow
9. Encourage innovation and
Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month,
have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how
to improve your product, service, efficiency, or bottom
line. Give monetary rewards when the ideas produce increases
to the bottom line. Give positive encouragement for the
10. Have a second in command.
No general goes into battle without a major who can take
over if he is felled by a bullet. You are your business'
general and must act accordingly. Find someone you trust
within your company who has the same goals, ideals, and a
similar business style. Train him/her appropriately. Let
others know he/she has your confidence and authority when
you are gone. When that is done, leave on vacation and test
the theory out. If you have completed steps 1-9 above, your
business will run easily and well and you will have regained
a healthy balance in your life.
Great qualities of entrepreneurs that cause
It's easy to criticize an
entrepreneur, especially if you're married to one, work
for one or are coaching/consulting one. Entrepreneurs,
like any pioneer, have their own set of (always evolving)
rules and strategies. Many entrepreneurs are successful in
spite of themselves. The key in working well, and
enjoying, entrepreneurs is to fully understand their
weaknesses, because these are often their biggest
strengths, although YOU may not think so! Here is a list
of weakness and the strengths that they "are." Subpoint 2
Focus, lots of ideas, runs in circles.
If the entrepreneur could
focus, they'd be a bookkeeper (no offense to bookkeepers;
I was a CPA for years). The enterpreneur's currrency is
ideas, often a flood of ideas. This is good. Encourage
MORE ideas, don't try to pin them down. When they feel
your support in challenging them to come up with more and
BETTER ideas, the flow is restored and they'll find the
one to really NATURALLY focus on. Really. The reason they
can't focus is that they haven't yet flushed out all of
the half-baked ones.
2. Not good
Duh. Why should they be.
Sure, it would great if they would focus on details, and
in fact, many entrepreneurial-types fail or have lots of
stress (think ValuJet's CEO), specifically because they
won't or cannot sweat the details. But given many won't
deal with details well, suggest they give up even trying.
Sure, this may create a mess, but challenge the
entrepreneur to solve the mess as if the mess was a new
business! That'll get 'em thinking! (Entrepreneurs are
like kids; it's good to divert them.)
3. Feel odd,
different, alone, strange.
Entrepreneurs are simply
wired differently and they SHOULD feel this way, because
it's TRUE and there is nothing wrong with it at all. In
fact, if you can help the entrepreneur to relish their
unique, contrary, leading edge ways, you'll help them feel
better about themselves (their different-ness), which will
increase the flow of ideas and success. Educate the
entrepreneur to understand not just themselves as
individuals but to understand about the species called
4. Good at
starting business, bad at running them.
This is very true of many
entrepreneurs, but you know, many entrepreneurs think that
they have an obligation to run their businesses and become
a great manager. 90% will never be great managers; they
shouldn't even try -- too much stress on everyone! The
solution: Help the entrepreneur to set a "sell date" right
now, so they know they're getting out and when! This
relieves some of the pressure and also forces the
enterpreneur to create a sell-able company vs one that is
just a monument to their ego (and I mean this lovingly).
It's essential that you and the entrepreneur get that
there's no reason an entrepreneur can't start and sell 25
businesses. Selling is not failure; it's good business and
lets the entrepreneur play instead of being saddled with
responsibilities and accountabilities that they just don't
want, but feel that they should have. Help the
entrepreneur to "get" that they'd really rather NOT run
their business and that they prefer to start new ones.
This will turn a perceived weakness into a profitable
reigns in the company.
This is fairly common, for
several reasons. First, the entrepreneur LIKES chaos and
is unlikely to attract or be able to hire a manager that
is cross-platform: able to both manage the
people/operations and ALSO be able to put up with the
personality or constant flow of ideas and changes that the
entrepreneur is likely to have. A solution is to design
the company so that it can afford the chaos and the
financial stress that chaos usually bring. A second
solution is to educate the entrepreneur and staff that
chaos CAN be good business and not to worry about it.
Another solution is to ask the entrepreneur to solve the
chaos problem by thinking of it as a foundering business
that the entrepreneur has purchased. His/her job; Turn it
into a profit center! This will get the juices flowing.
Another solution is to help the entrepreneur to create
fully automated and foolproof systems, usually managed by
outside contractors or vendors who are not IN the business
day to day. This works well, because it forces the
employees/owner to use the systems, which are mostly
computer based. Boys will be boys and it's better to save
them from themselves sometimes! Systems to this. Remember:
Creation IS messy! It shouldn't have to be, but often is.
6. They fail.
And fail again.
This one's tricky if you
look at the failing business as a problem or as a
reflection on the entrepreneur's ability and strengths. In
this case, their weaknesses were bigger than their
strengths and the business failed. But, just like a kid
has to fall a couple of times when learning to ride a
bike, so do entrepreneurs fail as they learn how to be
successful. Remember, it's the SPARK that the entrepreneur
has that is the REAL source of profitability. It's just
that there is often a learning curve as the entrepreneur
learns to compensate for his/her weaknesses by delegating,
outsourcing, maturing, and learning new skills. The Spark
usually wins in the end. Note: Just like you can't really
tell much to an adolescent because "they know it all," you
often can't tell much to an entrepreneur because they DO
know it all! Don't try to parent the entrepreneur; you'll
lose. Just love them and be there when they fail. That
helps them learn faster.
exaggerate and are too optimistic.
This is good! Encourage the
entrepreneur to exaggerate as much they want to. This is a
reverse way to get them to tell the truth. It works.
Exaggeration and pipe dreaming are as important to the
entrepreneur as faith and believing are to Christians and
other religions. It just comes along with the lifestyle.
It's part and parcel. It's hard to have one without the
other. Entrepreneurs are so out in front of the rest of us
that they NEED to exaggerate how well things are going, in
order to keep the faith -- hey it's lonely out in front
(or in left field, depending on how savvy the entrepreneur
is!). Exaggeration, pipe dreaming and denial are the tools
and comforts of the trade of entrepreneur ism. Sure, many
entrepreneurs grow through this, but don't try to take
away their blankie until they're ready. They need it.
8. Always at
the edge financially.
This one's a toughie,
because of the "unnecessary" stress it can cause to the
entrepreneur, the business, employees, families. What I've
sought to do is to educate the entrepreneur who is always
at the edge that there is an emotional dilemma that they
are trying to heal, via their business. The psychological
source of this "always at the edge" may be an addiction to
adrenaline, the pleasure/high of "pulling it off" at the
last minute, of the high that victory brings, the need to
be better than everyone else/compensate and even the
inability to establish a reserve of cash and time so that
they function without this stress. In my own case, I
pushed so hard that I was always just barely making it,
even though sales kept growing significantly. When I
learned that this was because of self esteem (technically,
a "havingness level" problem (meaning that I couldn't let
myself "have" what I was earning)), I was able to make a
couple of minor changes and establish such a healthy
reserve that I am set for life (and can play with projects
such as these Top Ten Lists!) The traps the entrepreneur
will fall into is to increase their lifestyle just as
quickly as their company grows. Mistake. But, back to why
being at the edge financially is a such a strength. It's
because the entrepreneur has proven, time and time again,
that they are resourceful, can survive and bounce back
from adversity. This is GREAT! Now, direct the
entrepreneur to direct this energy into creating a healthy
savings account instead of leveraging so much, and you'll
have a successful entrepreneur.
9. Family of
the entrepreneur, suffers.
Another toughie. You didn't
just marry a man/woman or a businessman/woman. You married
an ENTREPRENEUR! And he/she didn't come with instructions,
warning labels or antidotes. Oops! If entrepreneurial
genes were find-able in the DNA, they'd be considered a
strong, strong drug. Reality aside, it's best that you
develop your own strong interests and let your
husband/wife do their own thing. You'll always be #2
(well, maybe # 1 and half). You can have a great marriage
if you get this.
Sales dip because the
entrepreneur has turned over some or all of the sales
function to others. Take this as an invitation for the
entrepreneur to get back to selling, where they usually