Why is Complex Problem Solving so Important?
Complex Problem Solving Defined
- Identify the problem. This is not always as easy as it sounds. The problem itself may be buried beneath a number of adverse effects showing up in a system.
- Identify the causes. These could be the task itself, or systems control issues, equipment, people, even personality clashes, or any combination of these factors.
- Look for solutions. Here is where human judgment comes in. You will evaluate possible outcomes and seek the one that produces the most desirable solution. Here you may wind up settling for the least bad outcome you can find.
- Make a decision and put it in place. Pick an answer and go for it.
- Evaluate feedback. Is your solution working? Or not? Use feedback to adjust your solution to achieve maximum results.
Here is the Opportunity
The first blog post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ) I listed the top ten skills necessary if you are to triumph in the ongoing upheaval in the worldwide job market. Today, I want to discuss the #3 skill, Creativity.
Why is Creativity so Important?
There is one simple reason why creativity as a skill is so much in demand. Robots and software technology can’t do it. Here is one area where human beings can beat the bots. Every time.
Freelancers need this skill to solve problems with new programs and procedures. Clients and different departments implementing new programs and services will require new solutions to problems that arise.
I have a favorite saying I think sums up the need for creativity in the business world. It comes from General George Patton, the famous tank corps commander in World War II. “The best battle plan in the world isn’t worth a damn after the first shot is fired.”
General Dwight Eisenhower also weighed in on this subject when he said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”
Freelancers know this. When it all goes to hell, you’re going to have to get creative and think your way out of it.
How Can You Define Creativity?
I admit this is hard. Creativity is one of those things that everyone knows when they see it, but find it difficult to define.
Let’s take a shot at it. Creativity is:
- The ability to think outside the box.
- Coming up with something that’s never been done before.
- Applying old methods in new ways.
- Perceiving the world in new ways.
There are more. Here is a link taking you to a Copyblogger Post with 21 different definitions of creativity ( http://bit.ly/2jEEKTH ). (Hint… the list starts about halfway through the post).
Can I learn to be more creative?
How many times have you heard it? “I’m just not a creative person.”
Wanna bet? Actually, we all start out being very creative, and then we unlearn it. In 1968, a man by the name of George Land devised a test to measure creativity ( http://bit.ly/2ykJSzE ). He then gave the test to 1600 children, age 3 to 5 years, enrolled in a Head Start Program. The results were amazing. The 5-year-old kids scored 98% on the creativity test. He retested the same kids 15 years later. Guess where they scored? 12%. Adults given the same test scored 2%.
This means our society is teaching us to unlearn creativity.
So it’s really not an issue of learning to be more creative. It’s remembering how to be as creative as we once were.
The common misconception is that creativity belongs to artists, writers, musicians, and maybe a few computer geeks. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all creative. Like all skills, it is one where proficiency is gained by practice.
Remember the old joke? A kid carrying a violin case goes up to a cop in New York City and asks, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” The cop looks at the kid and says, “Practice, practice, practice.”
The best part is improving creativity is fun. A lot of fun.
I’m Sold. Where Can I go to Learn?
Online of course. Google “Learn to be Creative.” You’ll get more than a million results.
Now as for books? One of the best I have ever read on this subject is “The Artists Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron. I read this book when it first came out over 25 years ago when I wanted to begin developing my writing skills. I have reread at least 3 times since then. Don’t be put off by the title. This book is considered the seminal book on creativity. It’s for people in every walk of life seeking to enhance their creativity skills. There is also a great workbook that goes along with it I would recommend as well.
I have included links below if you would like to get these outstanding books. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
In my original post in this series ( http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I listed the 10 skills critical to your success as a Freelancer in the growing upheaval of the worldwide job market. Today I’m going to discuss Skill #5 Coordinating With Others.
Why is Coordinating With Others So Important?
First and foremost, it is the #5 critical skill employers will be looking for in Freelancers as technology continues to eliminate jobs in the coming years. When you think about it, coordinating with others is one of those things that appears to be self-evident. Yet, when I began to research this as a single subject for this blog, I found…almost nothing.
This is weird, I thought. I must be doing something wrong. So I went back and changed the search criteria in every way I could think of and came up with…almost nothing. No books. No courses. No forums. Nothing.
Yet this skill is listed in almost all the lists of critical skills needed for the future. Who am I to argue with the World Economic Forum?
Then it dawned on me. This skill is not so much a stand-alone skill. It really is one of the qualities of great leadership. And, the Freelancers of the future need to be great leaders. They need to bring together companies, clients, departments, and other freelancers to make projects succeed.
At the same time, leaders need to be followers as well. If you’re not the lead, you need to be willing to subordinate your interests to the team and the project. For, it is the project’s success that is paramount.
What’s Involved in Coordinating With Others?
When you coordinate with others you will need to:
- Be organized yourself.
- Organize and describe the roles of others.
- Create directives so everyone understands their role in the project.
- Be an active listener.
- Be able to deal with emotions. Both yours and others.
- Juggle multiple balls.
- Deal with obstacles.
- Build teams.
Do all of these sound familiar? They should. They are all elements of great leadership. The good news is you can learn to be a great leader. Like most skills, it takes time and practice. There’s an old saying that great leaders are born, not made. The real truth is some leaders are born, but most are made.
OK! Where Can I Learn to be a Great Leader?
Lots of places. For starters, if you google “Where can I learn about leadership” you’ll get about 700,000 results. One intriguing site is Learn to be a Leader ( http://bit.ly/2x8AD8q ). Here you can find a long list of sub-categories to search through.
Then there’s always books. (You just knew I’d have a book, right?) One excellent book I found was Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. This is a fascinating book that uses a fictional story to focus on a basic, but very important, tenet of leadership that is rarely discussed. Master this one skill, and you’re a long way down the road to great leadership. There is a link below if you’d like to order this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate.)
In my original blog in this series (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm), I said there were 10 skills critical to your future success in the coming turbulent job market. Today I want to discuss skill # 7, judgment and decision-making.
The Importance of Judgment & Decision-Making Skills
Futurist Thomas Frey estimates 2 Billion (that’s Billion with a capital B) jobs will be lost by 2030 worldwide. (http://bit.ly/2w4whhN) Those jobs will be lost to robots and software technology. There will also be lots of new jobs created. But…the new jobs will require a skill robots and software don’t have. Human judgment and making the decisions arising out of those judgments.
Your job as a future Freelancer will be to make those judgments and decisions for your clients. And…this will be one of the most sought after skills.
You could be called upon to decide:
- Whether a program or service will even work for your client.
- If the program or service is desirable, how will it be integrated?
- What departments or divisions will fill new roles?
- What existing jobs may be eliminated or repurposed?
- Who will be responsible for the maintenance and updating of the new programs?
As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless.
Please define Judgment and Decision-Making
Judgment is the ability to evaluate a situation as objectively as possible. Typically this will involve:
- Defining the challenge or opportunity
- Coming up with a list of possible solutions.
- Listing pros and cons of each solution.
Decision-Making is: Choosing a solution and implementing it.
Sounds simple, right?
Ah, if it were only that easy.
There are a few other elements involved, such as:
- Taking risks
- Having the courage to put a decision into play
- Admitting you’re wrong if it doesn’t work.
- Gathering feedback to try again.
Often This Whole Process is Defined as Leadership
“Wait a minute!” I hear you say. “If I’m a Freelancer, why do I have to be a leader?”
Any one who has ever been in the military will tell you; leaders exist at every level. From the smallest unit of 3 people, to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, someone is always in charge.
As a Freelancer, you will be responsible for integrating and coordinating many things. That means you will be leading. You should be confident in your ability to do research, implement it, and manage conflict amongst others. You need to be a keen observer, able to spot difficulties early before they grow into a crisis. This requires an action orientation and an assumption of risk.
The distressing part of this whole thing is that research shows most people make decisions based on emotion. Then they try to justify that decision with logic.
It will be up to you to show your clients a better way.
Where Can I go to Learn About Judgment?
Lots of places. As always, there are books. One of the best I have found is by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis titled Judgment, How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls. This book deals mainly with senior leadership in large organizations. It is still a good tutorial for developing the skills needed for good judgment. Plus, there’s a nifty handbook included at the end. There is a link below if you would like to buy this book. (Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate)
There are also lots of courses available. Just Google “Decision-Making Courses” and a ton of choices will come up.
Finally, there’s plain old everyday practice. We all make decisions. Lots of them, every single day. Some turn out well, others not so much. Analyze the good ones. What did you do right? Learn from the bad ones. What could you have done better or differently?
The important thing is to start now. The better you are, the more prepared you will be when that Freelancing opportunity appears.
In my recent blog on the great opportunities for Freelancers arising out of the rising chaos in the world job market (http://bit.ly/2v8mXJm ), I promised a thorough discussion of the 10 skills crucial to your success you’ll need to develop in the next few years. The countdown is on. Here is skill #10, Cognitive Flexibility
What the heck is Cognitive Flexibility?
Cognitive Flexibility is a term used by psychologists to describe the ability to shift quickly from one concept to another. The easiest way to describe it is to think of switching channels on your TV. Suppose you have a tennis match on one channel and a college football game on another. As you switch back and forth, your mind must quickly adjust to a different set of rules, play, and circumstances. People who are not cognitively flexible find this difficult. It takes them a few minutes or longer before they can engage in the events happening on the new channel.
Why is this so important?
Millions of jobs are going to disappear in the next few years. But, there will also be lots of new jobs created. The problem is those jobs haven’t been invented yet. What types of jobs are these? Data analysts who can help decipher the huge amount of data generated by the internet of things. Specialized sales reps who can explain new products and services to customers and clients. Managers and consultants who can help steer companies through this process.
If you are a Freelancer filling one of these functions, you will need cognitive flexibility. You may be working for more than one company. Company A may be playing tennis. Company B, playing football.
Even if you’re working for one company, Department A could be playing soccer, while Department B…well, you see where this is going.
How Can I Learn Cognitive Flexibility?
There are several things you can do to improve cognitive flexibility
- Read – Reading stimulates several areas of the brain simultaneously. The more complex the subject, the better. Add to this by making notes as you go.
- Play games. Lots of games. Word games, crossword puzzles, chess. There are lots of online games that will get you thinking.
- Make lists of different wild and wonderful ways to accomplish the same thing.
- Try breaking big topics down into chunks.
Keep going with these activities until you feel you can easily switch topics without losing a beat. It’s easier than you think and can be a lot of fun.
Here is your challenge: The rise of technology is already eliminating jobs at an ever increasing pace. As this trend accelerates, workers will be displaced in two directions. Those who are unprepared will be pushed out into lower paying jobs. Those who start now developing the 10 critical skills essential to Freelancing will find themselves positioned to succeed in jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And…at much higher compensation.
Which one are you?
You’ve started a business. Now your challenge is to build your brand to attract new customers. Here is a great post by Annetta Powell that tells you how.
5 Effective Brand Building Strategies to Attract Customers
Brand building is an integral aspect of personal and business development. It not only increases the voice and consumer awareness of a brand, but it also gives it an identity and worth. The advent of participatory and interactive platforms has given many businesses the chance to enhance brand awareness and equity. If you have been thinking of building a personal or business brand, then it is important for you to know that brand building takes a great deal of time and resources. In the section that follows, we shall define brand building and also look at different types of brands and the steps to create a successful brand.
What Is Brand Building?
There is no one definition that actually captures the essence of brand buildingin its entirety. Many people think that brand building is all about communicating and exposing your brand. That is just one side of it. The best way we can define it is that it is a process of creating value to consumers. It encompasses all things that consumers know, feel, and experience about your business in its entirety.
Having defined brand building, we shall now look at 3 popular types of brands and what they stand for.
- Service brand- this brand is built on knowledge, culture, and experience that one has with the service delivering agency/company/people. Think of Geek Squad or Molly Maid.
- Retail brand- this brand is built on a mixture of products and service experience. Think of Chick-fil-a, Kroger, or KFC
- Product brand- is built on the experience that one has with a specific product. Think of Nike, Ford, or Sony.
Having looked at the 3 popular types of brands, we shall now proceed to look at steps involved in brand building.
1.) Define Your Brand
The first stage in brand building is defining your brand. This is a very critical step as it ultimately determines what your brand truly stands for. When defining your business brand, you should create a checklist of its core strengths. Similarly, if you’re defining a personal brand, you should look at the skills and expertise that you possess especially those which stand out. On the same token, you also need to know what your brand stands for and what is important for your brand (brand values). Your values should in one way or another show that you are contributing to environmental, social, and economic well-being of consumers. You may not realize some of these important aspects of brand building immediately, until you look at them objectively.
2.) Differentiate and Position Your Brand
Before embarking on brand building, you have to take time to differentiate it so that you can attract attention and stand out from competitors. To differentiate your brand, you have to create a unique advantage in the mind of consumers not merely getting attention by brand building colors or logos or other superficial elements. Once you come up with a unique value proposition, you should use a good branding strategy to position your brand in a way that will help consumers see and appreciate the greater value of your brand over competing ones in the market.
3) Build and Expose your Brand
As I indicated earlier, brand building is not a one off thing. Building a unique and powerful personal or business brand takes time and consistency. To build your personal brand, you have to keep reinforcing your values and skills by taking up new roles and assignments that will give you more exposure. Alternatively, you can use promotional channels, blogs, forums, and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) to create a voice for your personal or business brand.
When building your brand, you should also endeavor to develop brand personality (what people know, think, and say about you). This is what drives or motivates people to identify with and engage with your brand. The truth is; if you execute your brand building strategies consistently, then you will easily establish a pattern that will forever be associated with your brand name.
4.) Personalize your Brand
If you want your brand building campaign or brand to be successful, then you have to personalize it. It is important to give your brand an identity. Let consumers see and experience the personality of your brand in its entirety. Look at your brand as something that a consumer wants to identify with pretty much as they would with their favorite cars, cellphones, or computers.
As you engage in brand building, you should also invite customers to be co-creators of brand values so that they can feel that they also own it and relate with it. Top brands encourage consumer-brand interaction by personalizing products to meet the needs and preferences of consumers. When you personalize your brand, you give consumers reason to participate and engage with your brand for a lifetime.
5.) Review Your Brand
Your brand is not static; it will go through a range of motions in its lifetime. Depending on your brand strategies, your brand will either grow in strength, or remain dormant, or recede with time. In the brand cycle, new events, changes, and circumstances bring challenges and opportunities to enhance the value of your brand or re-establish it. All these possibilities should give you the impetus to take charge of your brand building activities.
As your brand name grows, so do the responsibilities and expectations to continue with brand building. The best way of ensuring brand growth is reviewing your activities and evaluating your successes through metrics such as levels of brand awareness and levels of engagements. Regular reviews will help you seize and exploit new opportunities while upholding your commitment to remain true to your vision and brand strategy. It will also help you steer your brand in the right direction and keep it relevant as you move into the future.
As you can see, brand building is not a one off thing. You have to define your brand, differentiate, present it, and review what your brand stands for from time to time. It is very important to be clear about your branding strategies and how you’re going to implement them. You should also adopt brand strategies that will add value to your consumers and help them develop the right impression of your company and what it truly stands for.
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As small business owners we wonder whether blogging is worth the time and effort. After all, our days are filled with enough activity as it is. Here’s a great post by Jeff Charles giving you 10 great reasons why you need to do this.
10 Important Reasons to Work Seriously On Your Small Business Blog
How the heck do they do it?
You know who I’m talking about. I’m talking about those successful small business entrepreneurs who get tons of business and engagement online.
Sure, they hustle just as much as you do. They attend the same networking events. But there’s a difference.
They seem to have much more business than you do. They’re closing more deals. They’re generating more leads through their website.
So what’s the difference between you and them?
They’re probably blogging. They’re probably using their small business blog to build an online audience that is engaged with their brand.
If you’re a small business entrepreneur or solopreneur, you have probably heard of content marketing, right? No doubt you’ve heard of the importance of creating valuable content for your website. But maybe you haven’t taken that first step yet.
A small business blog is one of the most-used and effective content marketing tools at your disposal. Simply put, if you’re not blogging, you’re leaving money on the table.
Here’s some stats for you:
- Marketers that use blogs get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
- 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
- Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.
- 61 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
- 60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to consider how you’re connecting with your audience. Since you might not have the huge marketing budget of a mega-corporation, you will have to use other means to build and connect with your audience.
One of the best ways to do this is by blogging. It’s been shown to be highly effective at generating quality leads for your business.
Many business owners overlook the potential rewards that blogging can provide. But you’re a savvy entrepreneur, so you’re not going to make this mistake, are you?
This post is going to give you ten benefits that a small business blog can provide for your business. When you read through this post, you will learn various ways you can use your blog to generate more business, earn more credibility and make it easier for prospects to find you online.
Why You Should Have a Small Business Blog
1. Market Research
Having a blog with many articles allows you to more effectively understand what your audience really wants. From the back end of your site, you can spy on what pages people are viewing the most, and this gives you an idea of where their interest lies. When you know what types of content perform the best, you know what types of content to continue to create.
Also, you can use your blog to request feedback from your audience. If you have an engaged following, it’s very likely that they will be happy to answer the questions you have.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As you probably know, there’s not much of a point to having a killer website if nobody can find it. One of the biggest keys to getting more traffic is making sure that people will find your site when they use search engines. As a matter of fact, search engines are the no. 1 driver of traffic to content websites! SEO is something that you can’t ignore if you want to have a viable online presence.
The more relevant content you have on your website, the more likely it will be that you will rank for certain keywords. This is where a small business blog comes in. Consistently publishing high-quality content on your blog will do wonders for your search engine optimization efforts.
When you produce useful content, Google’s algorithms will rank your site higher. Over time, your site will make its way to the front page of search results. Not only that, but when people read high-quality content, they’re more likely to link back to it. Earning quality backlinks from other high-authority blogs will do wonders for your SEO efforts.
3. Customer Engagement
Engagement is immensely important for any online business. It’s not enough to just create great content. You also need to interact with your audience as much as you can. You can’t have any success by just talking at your audience. You need to have ongoing conversations with them. It will help you know your audience better. It will help your audience know you better.
That’s what you want.
If you enable comments on your small business blog, you can discuss topics and get feedback directly. This can tell you a lot about your customer base. Not only that. It shows your audience that you are interested in interacting with them. This will increase loyalty and help you form a deeper connection with your audience.
4. Communicating Your Mission
One of the most important components of effective branding is purpose. Connecting with your audience means embracing a unique brand perspective that can give your audience something they can connect with on an emotional level.
This is where blogging comes in.
Your blog is a place where you can communicate your brand purpose. This is important because establishing a strong brand is an important part of encouraging customer loyalty. When you communicate a brand purpose that goes beyond what you sell, it helps you stand out from your competition.
For example, if you are a business that sells vegan meat substitutes, you can express your brand’s purpose by posting animal welfare material on your site. This shows your audience that your company is focused on something more than just making money.
5. Communicating With Customers
If there’s something going on with your service — for example, there will be a planned outage or lack of availability — you don’t have to keep your clients in the dark. Having a centralized place to post announcements is extremely important because people don’t always read their email.
6. You Can Offer Promotional Material
A small business blog is also a great place to offer occasional promotions. If you already have an engaged audience that consumes your content, they will be able to see what discounts or promotions you are offering. It’s a great way to keep your customer base informed.
Sure, you can spread your coupons around Facebook, but it’s better to get into the habit of compelling your audience to visit you at your own site, especially if it’s an ecommerce site. Keep them coming back for more by posting your promotions on your blog.
Here’s a caveat: you don’t want to overdo this. While blogs can be great for offering promotions, it shouldn’t be used solely for this purpose. Most of your content should focus on offering informational value to your readers. If you only post promotional content, your audience will not continue to visit your blog.
7. Showing Your Human Side
People want to know that there are actual human beings behind the business that they buy from. Post some personal stories and talk to your customers through your blog.
This is an opportunity for you to let your personality shine through. When you’re writing blog posts, don’t smack your reader in the head with a bunch of “corporatespeak.” Nobody wants to read that. No really, they don’t!
It’s much better to write in an informal style that people can relate to. When it comes to blogging, it’s not just about what you say, it’s about how you say it.
8. You Can Become a Source of Value
The key to effective blogging is providing value. Nobody is going to read your content unless they get something out of it, right?
If you want to build influence, you have to be valuable. You can do this by providing helpful information to your readers through your blog.
Arjun Reddy, the founder of Super Baby, builds credibility with his website’s “resources” section by giving actionable tips to his visitors.
“Our visitors are parents who are looking for fun ways to help their children become smarter. The advice we give in our resources section is designed to provide helpful parenting tips for our readers.”
The reason Reddy is enjoying success is because he’s providing value up front. When you do this, you show your potential clients that you are valuable to them. That’s why content marketing works. When you’re creating content, you should be asking yourself what your reader is going to get out of that particular piece of content. Each piece of content should be designed to inform, educate, or entertain. If possible, you should do all three!
When you have built an audience and gained some notoriety, it can attract other entrepreneurs to you. For an entrepreneur, networking is important, isn’t it?
If you’re able to grow your readership effectively, you will gain more credibility. This will attract other influencers in your niche. You never know who might be paying attention right?
This could lead to other opportunities for your business. You might be able to take advantage of the key relationships that you form through your small business blog.
10. Building Credibility
Having a small business blog gives you a presence in your niche. A blog is a record of quality value and experience that you are bringing to your audience. This will give you instant “street cred” when someone finds your content.
Lissette Palencia, CEO of Sleeping Angels has built a steady stream of clientele by using her blog to provide valuable information to her website’s visitors.
“As you can guess, when you run a nanny agency, your clients are parents who are concerned about the safety of their children. They want to do the research first. When they visit our website, they find tons of valuable information that helps them make the right decision for their family. Not only does it inform them, it makes them more comfortable with doing business us.”
This is essential for your business. Your blog is a tool that you can use to establish credibility in the minds of your potential clients. Prospects will read your content and gain value from it. Then, they will become far more willing to buy from you because you have already given them a significant benefit through your blog.
Here’s the thing. If you’re looking to expand your online presence, you need to be creating high-quality content on a consistent basis. A blog is one of the best ways to do this.
These are just a few reasons to keep a blog if you’re an entrepreneur, but there are much more. Just remember that anything that can bring value to your audience is something that you should consider adding to your business.
If you’d like to see more on this and other topics for small business owners, just sign up for my emails by filling in the form in the right hand column.
Running your small business by yourself can be a lot of fun. But, if you grow, sooner or later you will have to hire some help. Here’s a great post to help you decide if the time is right.
Is It Time to Hire an Employee?
If you own your own business and find that you simply don’t have enough time on your hands to be able to do all the things you need to do, you may be asking yourself should you hire an employee?
If you’ve already got employees, your question will be similar, when is the right time to hire another employee? Regardless of the structure of your business, there will be times when you need to make this decision and it’s not always as simple as acknowledging there’s too much on your plate…
To help you figure things out, we asked entrepreneur Kurt Johnson, a Los Angeles resident who has created several businesses including his most recent fitness venture, Swollforlife.com, to help us figure out what to consider before hiring.
Start with a list of advantages and disadvantages
Figuring out whether the time is right, may be as simple as making your own pros and cons list. This is a good first step before you look into cash flow, last year’s financials and your workload. Consider this testing the waters. Here’s an example list:
Advantages of hiring a new employee:
- You’ll have more help to handle the tasks that are overwhelming you.
- A new employee can breathe new life into your business and generate new ideas.
- Someone will be there to share those exciting moments. As Johnson says, you’ll have “someone to high five” when things go right.
Disadvantages of hiring a new employee:
- An employee costs you money.
- There are more tax forms to juggle.
- A new employee requires a big time investment upfront.
- You’ll carry added stress of another person being dependent on your business.
- You’ll need to manage and monitor the new employee.
Once you’ve created your list, and perhaps once the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, you can move on to the next step – genuinely trying to work out whether or not you should hire a new employee.
Should you hire a new employee?
Administrator of the SBA, Maria Contreras-Sweet, believes there are 4 things to consider before you take the plunge:
- What is your vision for your business? Do you really need staff or additional staff or could you do just as well with virtual assistants or temporary workers? At this stage you’ve got to be honest with yourself – do you want to keep the business small or do you want to become a larger business?
- Where do you need help? Review your workload and your project pipeline. Is there anything you could offload on a new employee and if so, what ‘type’ of employee does this work suggest you need to look for? Perhaps a sales rep? Maybe a cashier? Or what about an accountant? Even if your goal is to hire in order to free up your own time, make sure you have a good handle on where that time should be spent so that you can look for someone with the appropriate skill set.
- Can you manage people? This is an important consideration. What have your past experiences taught you? If you believe you’ve got the ability to manage, what about the ability to make a good hiring decision? Do you need help?
- Can you afford it? Right, so this is probably one of the trickier parts. Take the time to build a picture of the costs and overheads your business will incur as a result of a new employee. Some things to consider: wages, unemployment tax, workers compensation insurance, medicare and social security taxes, recruitment and training costs, benefits, payroll costs, new equipment, software licenses, etc. Once you’ve got a realistic idea of the potential cost of a new employee, try to align this cost with the benefits you’ll get from that new employee. How much new work will you be able to take on? Take a look at your income and expenses from the previous year to assess whether you have the capacity to afford someone. If it looks possible and profitable, consider your pipeline and cash flow. Can you live with not being profitable in the short term or will this cripple your business?
If you’re still unsure about whether or not you can justify hiring an additional employee, it may be worth sitting down to to see if you can pinpoint those signs that say you really should bite the bullet.
Four signs you’re ready to hire
1. When you turn down work
If you have to turn down work because you can’t fit another project into your schedule, it’s a good indicator that your business is ready for help.
“If you’re growth is being inhibited by the hours in a day that you can work, then it’s time to start thinking about another employee so you can retain all available revenue,” Johnson says.
No business owner doesn’t want to earn more money, but some don’t want the added work or complications that come with hiring someone new. Again, you’ll need to be honest with yourself.
2. If you identify a new revenue stream but need additional skills
Diversifying your business is a smart move. Along the way, you’ll probably find a new source of revenue that you could tap, but might lack some of the skills necessary to really dive in.
“Sometimes you will come up with great business ideas that you are just not personally equipped to execute on,” Johnson says. “This is a great problem to have and the right employee can truly make the difference in taking your business to the next level.”
3. If complaints are rolling in
If you’re spreading yourself too thin, it shows.
If customers start complaining about your work or about your timeliness, it’s a sign that you’re spread too thin. If you’re not able to commit yourself to each and every project, you’ll want to hire an additional employee. Bad word of mouth can damage your reputation and revenue, so you should hire someone soon if this is happening at your business. Even if you are just bringing someone in to answer your phones, field emails, or tackle your accounting practices, you will get those hours back to commit to clients.
4. When you have a steady stream of revenue
It takes a while for businesses to gain a steady stream of income, and you don’t want to take on an employee until that happens. An employee can help your business grow, but before making any staff additions, you’ll want to make sure you have the revenue available to pay him or her.
Weigh your options
If you decide that your business is ready to hire an employee, you do have several options. You can hire someone full or part time as a W2 employee, or you can hire someone on an as needed basis as a 1099 employee. If you hire someone as a W2 employee, you are responsible for paying taxes. If you hire via a 1099, the employee is responsible for his or her own taxes.
Johnson suggests starting with a part-time 1099 employee to see how much help you need and how the additional employee works within your business. Once you’re ready to bring on a full time employee, Johnson suggests consulting an attorney to make sure your business complies with all tax and healthcare regulations.
If you began your business on your own, when did you decide to hire your first employee, and what made you decide? Share your stories and advice in thecomments below.
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Lisa Furgison is a journalist with a decade of experience in all facets of media. Follow Lisa on Google+
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Think about this simple statement. It almost sounds too easy doesn’t it?
The great myth.
As Americans, we are all taught as children to aspire to success. What does it really mean and how does one get it? Is it a bigger house, nicer car, more money in the bank? Do you have to work 16 hour days, 7 days a week, plot to destroy your competitors or anyone else that gets in your way? This is the great American myth. The way to happiness is paved with the accumulation of more “Stuff”. Put another way it’s, “He who dies with the most toys wins”
What is success?
If we want to achieve something, don’t we have to define it first? There’s an old Yogi Berra quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” So, just what is success?
First, I believe success, like happiness is an inside job. Only you can decide what success is for you.
This is the hard part isn’t it? There is no one arbitrary, one size fits all, definition of success. There’s no check the block list that, once completed, earns you a certificate from the US Department of Success.
If you win the nobel prize in physics but don’t have a dime in the bank, are you a success?
Then there’s the nagging question, what happens when you get there? Do you then “live happily ever after?”
So, What’s the Answer?
I believe success is not a place or a thing. I believe success is a wonderful, long, never ending journey. One that is filled with sorrows, joys, trials, tribulations, celebrations, and fascinating traveling companions. For, if we are fortunate enough to attain success, we will not do it alone.
How do I get started?
This brings me back to Zig Ziglar’s quote that led off this article, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
What this means to me is that life is really about service to others.
No, I am not talking about giving away all your earthly possessions, taking a vow of poverty, and moving to a monastery.
What I am talking about is simply devoting your time to helping other people get what they want. When you do this, people are glad to pay you for your assistance.
I used to be a mortgage banker. I originated residential mortgage loans for people. What I was really doing was helping people to buy homes. I got paid very well for helping potential home buyers get what they wanted. At the same time, my employer wanted mortgage loans to add to their servicing portfolio. So, by helping home buyers, I also helped my employer get what they wanted.
See what I mean?
Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” Make a list of things you really love to do.
Now pick one or two things on the list and ask, “How can I take this one thing I love to do and use it to help someone else get what they want?”
It’s a two way street
When you think about it, success really is a two way street. We can only be successful by helping someone else be successful.
Let’s look at an example. With apologies to accountants everywhere, I’ve tried to pick something that sounds pretty boring. Taxes. Did you know that at the end of 2014, the Federal Tax Code was 74,608 pages long? (http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/look-at-how-many-pages-are-in-the-federal-tax-code/article/2563032)
Let’s say you are an accountant. Your specialty is taxes. You are passionate about being able to pick apart the tax code to find all the little inconsistencies, faults, loopholes, etc., that people can use to reduce their tax bill come April 15th. The more complicated the issue, the happier you are.
I’m a guy with a very sophisticated business situation involving multiple partnerships. I’m trying to find someone to help me get my taxes done on time, yet pay the lowest amount due. Do you think I would be happy to pay your fee to help me accomplish my goal?
Joseph Campbell became fascinated with mythology. He theorized there was a single myth (the monomyth) that was the pattern for all great myths no matter their origin or time of creation.
“Wow,” you say. “That sounds pretty dull.”
A professor at Sarah Lawrence College, Joseph Campbell became one of the most prolific authors and teachers of the twentieth century. One of his most famous books was The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
This book has influenced untold numbers of writers and film makers in the art and practice of story telling.
George Lucas used the ideas in this book to shape the stories in the Star Wars Trilogy.
Joseph Campbell, was the one who said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
I believe this is true. I also believe, if you follow this course of action, you will be both happy and successful. But, remember…you are the only one who gets to decide whether or not you have achieved success.
Pick something you love to do. Find some one who needs it done. Go do it for them. Be patient and persistent in your service. Have lots of fun along the way. Most of all, don’t let anyone else define your success.
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