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What is the Future of Your Collection

Many entrepreneurs and business owners are collectors. You can see this among your friends, in TV programs about famous collectors, or at estate sales. I know a number of military medal and militaria collectors through a family connection.

Many small business owners neglect to plan for their death or disability’s impact on their company – and many collectors do not think ahead about their collections. If you have been a collector for even a few years, you have heard the sad and bad stories of spouses ripped off by ‘friends’, families riven by arguments on ‘Dad’s collection’, or the whole lot dumped into the trash/Goodwill bin.

Planning what happens to your collection is vital. You know better than anyone what you want to happen to it. And if you love your heirs, you want to be sure that they know too. Collectors have three big considerations in their disposition decisions: emotional ties to the collection, financial aspects, and the time invested. These will influence what decisions you make and how difficult it is to get an action plan developed.

This outline, from an OMSA Convention seminar, is designed to help you think through the process and document your desires effectively. None of us like to think about our death, but it still is necessary.

What Do You Want to Do with your Collection?

A. Gift it

The first thought of many collectors is to pass it on within their family. But if there is not someone already interested, it is unlikely that will change unless yours is a young family. The same is true for friends. So if you are thinking of gifting your collection to someone, do confirm their interest now. Also consider: some family members or friends might […]

By |April 14th, 2019|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on What is the Future of Your Collection

Six Steps Forward

These ideas are each based on research which shows that they enhance business success. Take a look and see which you are already doing well – and pat yourself on the back for those. Then pick another one or two to practice over the next few months, with a bit of effort you can make each a habit before the year ends. You will thank yourself for it!

Keep Learning
Schedule time to learn on a consistent basis. Learn how your brain works, study newer technologies, pick up ideas from other industries, learn areas far removed from your daily work or career field. Try books – in print, online, or audio. Sign up for some newsletters from your favorite publications – I like a number of those from Smartbrief.  Go to events, visit a museum, take in a concert. Use these to keep your mind active, develop new ideas, and make your work effective.

Network Effectively
You may know you should network but are you really nurturing yours? A good network keep you informed, helps you keep learning (as above), and creates business opportunity. Do you, as I do, have a pile of business cards and LinkedIn contacts that you meant to talk to but haven’t? Get going – make a plan, even 10-15 min a day can make a big difference. Don’t be the person who only is in contact when they need help – be the one who keeps in touch regularly. Connect one person you know to another whenever you think they might interest each other. Say hi or have coffee just to catch up. Adam Grant’s “Give and Take” is an excellent look at valuable networking.

Do More of What You Do Well
This is vital to […]

By |February 12th, 2019|Executive development, networking, productivity|Comments Off on Six Steps Forward

What You Need to Know on Federal HR Laws

Many entrepreneurs and founders fear legal risks from human resources/labor laws. Common sense goes a long way in mitigating risks.  However, you do need to understand the basics. Here is a discussion of the most important federal laws for you to plan for and comply with.  Resources to understand these, as well as required posters, are listed at the end.

Laws that Apply with your First Employee

1. Wages and Overtime

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime requirements among other aspects. This law is probably the most difficult for many small employers as even employment lawyers, human resource professionals, and other advisors argue over some of its definitions. Written during the Depression, it governs what jobs must be paid overtime (often called non-exempt) and which may be exempt from those rules.

FLSA guide – Job Status and Exemptions

Small employers tend to try to make as many jobs as possible exempt in hopes of reducing overtime costs and that can get you in trouble.

While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, a majority of states have higher rates as do some cities and counties. There are also special rules for jobs such as some tipped workers.

State and local wage and hour laws also govern requirements for paid or unpaid breaks, child labor, and tipped workers.

2. Immigration laws

Immigration laws, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), the Immigration Act of 1990 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), are designed in part to ensure that employers only hire candidates who are eligible to work in the U.S.

Employers must verify candidate eligibility through documentation ( I-9 forms) […]

By |January 8th, 2019|Business planning, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on What You Need to Know on Federal HR Laws

Avoid These Hiring Errors

Recently I wrote a post for ClearedJobs.net on the myths and mistakes too many employers make. These errors are not confined to those in the cleared world, many organizations of all sizes and focus make most of them.

From erroneous ideas to problems identified in recent studies, take a look at this article and check out your organization’s practices. A tight labor market is tough enough without adding unforced errors to your hiring process.

Hiring Myths and Mistakes

By |January 1st, 2019|hiring, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on Avoid These Hiring Errors

Small Biz Lessons from a Road Trip

Just back from a cross-country driving trip, first in many years. I was pleased to note that there were wind turbines in every state as we drove to Colorado. Much else along I-70 looked very much as it has for decades, except in those cities which have grown. While I enjoyed the break, I noticed some lessons for many of us.

How do you publicize your business?

Talk about realizing how little I have been doing in recent years to attract new business! Reminded me how many organizations I know which have not changed their advertising or publicity much in recent years either. This thought first came to me as I moved into the land of billboards. I do not see billboards much in regular activities so their profusion was noticeable. But as I paid attention, I saw far more. There also were smaller signs on farmer’s fences. There was more advertising on cars and trucks. Several of the hotels we stayed at had far more available in pamphlets and flyers for area businesses and attractions, a few even had 10% discount coupons at the registration desk.

None of these may work for you. But what I am recommending is that you take a look at what you do now and whether it is what you really need.

Do you have an active plan that is relevant to your business or non-profit’s work?
Are you using the right social media and using it effectively?
Do you have a referral program?  Are you working it regularly?
Are you active in local business and professional organizations?
What else can you do that will help you continue to succeed?

What steps are you taking to build in diversity and inclusion?

Even as […]

By |September 4th, 2018|Business planning, hiring, Small Biz|Comments Off on Small Biz Lessons from a Road Trip

Start ’em Right: Ensuring New Employees Succeed

Whether you call it on-boarding or orientation, you need a process to help a new hire become a valuable part of your team. Yet, I have seen far too many businesses which were not really prepared for someone to start. No-one is there to welcome the person the first day. There is no plan for the day and other things take priority, so the new person is ignored. Equipment is missing. There is no training on how to access computer systems, much less the software in use.

An advantage of being a small organization is your ability to treat a new hire well from the first moment. Doing so helps you both succeed! Plus it helps retention.

In Advance

Make a plan for the first week, first month, and 90 days. Start with a review of the actual work to be done. Use a job description if you have one. Create some specific steps and goals for the person. Figure out who will show the person how your systems work and have a login ready. Ensure any equipment and entry keys, if needed, are ready.  Define what ‘success’ looks like at each period’s end.

If you have hired a more senior person, be sure you talk to anyone else whose role will be changed in advance. Explain the reasons you have added this new person and position to the staff too. This helps everyone understand the organizational goals and feel as if you are keeping them up to date.

The First Day

Welcome the person yourself or have their manager do so. Show them the layout including basics like bathrooms, coffee machines/refrigerator, or employee rest areas. Start the welcome process by reminding the person why you hired them and why […]

By |June 25th, 2018|hiring, productivity|Comments Off on Start ’em Right: Ensuring New Employees Succeed

Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity

For many enterpreneurs, solopreneurs, and non-profits, even thinking about cyber-anything is frightening. You know there are dangers but who can keep up, how can you understand the problems you face? Still, you must. Small businesses and individuals are targets for hackers, fraud, and other efforts that require some understanding and actions.

These risks are real and they can seriously hurt you and your business if ignored.  You know that but what to do…

Recently Elizabeth Moon of Focus Data Systems and I did a webinar on common issues you need to understand and address. We talked about the issues and trends in cybersecurity and how you can work to minimize risks at every level. If you have employees, we covered some of the major issues we have seen in what and what not to do with employees to enhance your organization’s security.

Watch and listen – Small Biz Nightmares – Cybersecurity

By |June 17th, 2018|Business planning, culture, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity

Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?

Does it seem to you as if you see a lot of articles about decluttering your home? Have you seen articles for Boomers about the concept of death-cleaning done early and often? Or those about decluttering your business – usually around the new year? Still, few of us deal with our files and storage and stuffed desks unless forced to do so. I just spent some time watching a small business forced into such a ‘clean up’ by an unexpected relocation. It was tough and it was painful. Who knew that there were files from 10-12 years ago in so many places?

Disorganization costs you time – and money.

Sure, it is hard to take the time to fix your systems. This is not exciting work but it can be critical. Get it scheduled a little at a time and move forward.

Computers:
You need a solid filing system, automatic back-ups, and some external resources to cover your data and info if your system fails. I know that, you know that. But several years ago my own system failed and the back-ups were old and I did not have the data for my online software subscriptions handy.

Do it yourself or hire some help to get your systems organized. Install those malware/virus programs and set them up to run regularly.

Finances:
Be sure to talk with your accountant soon, if you have not already, about the many new tax law changes which will impact your business this year.

Every business, however small, needs a system, whether a simple book-keeping application or a more complex one. But you also need to understand and use it. Go for training. Or hire someone to help you set up your own chart of accounts and understand […]

By |June 12th, 2018|productivity, Smart practices|Comments Off on Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?

Future of Work: What do Longer Lives Mean?

My grandparents were born not long after the Civil War and lived into their mid-60s to mid-70s. My parents and their siblings lived into their late-70s to mid-90s. The Boomers have made ‘60 the new 40′ and millennials are likely to see passing 100 years old as pretty routine.

Have you thought at all about what this means for business? For your own future?

I suspect many people have not. When I speak about longevity, current audiences are almost as likely as those 15 years ago to assume they will retire in their 60s. Investment companies regularly report that retirement savings are not adequate for living beyond 10-12 years of retirement.

A recent book, THE 100-YEAR LIFE: LIVING AND WORKING IN AN AGE OF LONGEVITY by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, offers ideas and insights for our future. Businesses which begin to adapt now will have an advantage. Longer lives also mean different patterns of working and education. Yet most of us still build our business practices around some three-stage life notions of education in youth, 30-40 years of work, and then retirement.

The recent Great Recession brought some changes as more people worked into their late 60s and mid 70s. Retirees returned to the workplace in temporary, seasonal, and lower-skilled jobs. Today there are more people working past 55 and into their late 70s than at any time since before WWII.  But companies have not fundamentally changed their practices.

No-one can really save enough to retire for 30 – 40 years in a 35 – 45 year work life, especially now that pensions have become so rare. One of the early illustrations in the book is a scary look at this point. Someone born in the early 1970s, […]

By |March 19th, 2018|culture, non-profits, Smart practices|Comments Off on Future of Work: What do Longer Lives Mean?

It Can’t Happen Here….Sexual Harassment

From Ailes to Weinstein, across the military, and in far too many organizations, sexual harassment is a significant problem. And no, your small business is not exempt!

Such harassment is sadly, maddeningly common. You have seen the recent news, the social media storm over #MeToo. So first some basic facts:

Sexual harassment is not about sex, it is about power.
Whether it is verbal or physical, it is abuse and a form of violence.
Women are the most common targets, but men are also sexually harassed.

Such harassment represents a real threat to your organization now and in the future. It directly impacts productivity and morale. It erodes trust. It increases turnover. And it can result in both legal and reputation risks.

What Do You Do?

The first step is to create a workplace culture that encourages trust and respect.

This will support many good things beyond dealing with harassment issues. And it does make identifying and dealing with harassment easier. You need policies, practices, and leadership to create trust and respect within the work place. A good basic policy of how you expect everyone to respect and work with each other, your clients or customers, vendors, and others you work with is a good start. Be clear about your intent. State how the policy works in everyday activities.

The harder step is to live up to what you expect others to do. Plus you must communicate your policy and intent regularly. And you must take action when anyone, in any role, does not fulfill the policy and your expectations.

Second, you must be very clear that you will not tolerate any harassment or discriminatory behavior.

When you reach 15 employees, you have legal requirements related to equal opportunity which […]

By |October 29th, 2017|Communications, culture, Policies and Practices|Comments Off on It Can’t Happen Here….Sexual Harassment