Basics to Consider Before Writing Nondisclosure Agreements



If you have business secrets to protect, you might want to use a confidentiality policy. That will inform your employees and other stakeholders what’s important and what you want to keep in confidence.

To assure privacy, you might also consider a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with your employees and strategic partners. They are typically appropriate and lawful.

Assessing your situation

Before you decide what to do regarding an NDA, assess your situation, for instance:

Do you have to protect proprietary information? Such information might be unique marketing and sales strategies, proprietary research or maintenance of confidential data belonging to your customers that need to remain private.

Do you have to stop leaks? You don’t want employees to be careless with your proprietary information. So, convey your concerns about confidentiality.

Take precautions such as only giving information to certain employees on their need-to-know basis and discipline anyone who violates your trust.

Do you have to guard against theft? You will probably need to inform your employees to keep your proprietary information secret. They need to know you’re serious enough to use lawful means to back up our policy.

For legal success, you have to make certain your information is not publicly available outside your company.

Noncompete agreements

In addition to issuing a confidentiality policy or an NDA, you might also consider a noncompete agreement with key staff.

Basically, a noncompete agreement is usually a contract designed to keep proprietary information secret and prevents an employee from working for your competitors for a certain length of time.

However, for any chance of success with a noncompete, the company must demonstrate it’s reasonable and necessary to guard against unfair competition.

Note: Consult a good local employment attorney to make certain a noncompete is valid in your situation.

Each state has its own laws about whether a noncompete is lawful. Many states restrict or don’t enforce noncompete agreements usually because they’re too broad.

Some will enforce some provisions in business-trade secrets but not the work restrictions.

The good news is that companies often prevail in court if an employee signs a noncompete and gets an extra payment before the start of employment. That’s because the court will rule the noncompete was part of the employment package.

However, if the agreement is signed after the start of employment and without extra payment then the pact is likely to be invalidated.

Also, the agreement will likely not be upheld depending on the states where the company is domiciled and where the employee is situated. If one of the two states restrict noncompete agreements, then it likely won’t be upheld.

In some cases where companies have terminated employees for refusing to agree to a noncompete, the employers have been found guilty of wrongful termination and of unfair trade practices for acting in bad faith to enforce a noncompete.

Determining feasibility of an NDA

To determine the likelihood of prevailing in court if you ask your employees to sign an NDA, consider some scenarios:

  1. Your information must not be available outside your business. Your information must be purposely limited within your business.
  1. You must take logical precautions to protect the confidentiality of your information.
  1. The information must be valuable to your business and to your competitors.
  1. To develop your information, it must cost you considerable resources and time.
  1. It must be difficult for competitors to either get or develop the information.

Before you create a confidentiality policy and/or an NDA, be sure to state what is confidential and propriety. Provide some specifics. And be sure that people understand that the information is not limited to your example specifics.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant HR tips:

10 Tips for Hiring the Right Attorney for Your Business — In selecting the right business attorney, talent and skill levels are among the crucial traits needed for your success. Here are Biz Coach 10 tips.

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary.

Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks — If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

HR Tips to Avoid Legal Hassles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — Employers have been having problems with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Here’s how to avoid issues.

“Confidentiality is a virtue of the loyal, as loyalty is the virtue of faithfulness.”

-Edwin Louis Cole


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Want to Win in a Negotiation? Implement These 7 Key Points



Consider that negotiations are synonymous with skills in marketing and sales.

It’s important to make certain you’ve done everything possible to avoid regret in the end. As in marketing and sales, the best outcomes from a negotiation results from due diligence in preparation.

So, obviously, to successfully negotiate any issue, you must identify your goals while understanding the motivations of the people with whom you negotiate.

This means you must take the time to become fully aware of the important points to discuss, plan and to rehearse.

To accomplish all of this, you need to become fully aware of seven key points:

1. Understand your skills and your important positions

Evaluate your skills and decide where you need to improve for a successful negotiation.

Identify, assess and prioritize what’s important to you. This can be monetary and non-monetary, and short and long-term.

2. Know what will motivate the other party

Do what you can to build trust.  Listen carefully when the other party is talking and pay close attention to their reactions.

Understand the interests and motivations of the persons sitting across the table from you. It could be they’re just representing themselves.

It could also be they’re teamed with others not in the room; stakeholders whom are likely to be affected by any outcome. Get to know their concerns, too.

3. Create value for both parties

Again, before going into any negotiation, take precautions to develop a positive rapport with the other party. This entails discussing mutual interests.

Diplomatically remind the other party of the value you bring to the table.

Agree that there’s room for negotiation. Go as far as you can to learn and address their inclinations.

There are a couple approaches you can take. You can either learn their bottom-line preferences by asking open-ended questions. Or, you can directly ask what they want.

4. Anticipate the most persuasive and relevant tactics

Know what commitments you’re willing to make, and what points or arguments will likely be the most effective – both for you and the other party.

Use best practices in communication. That starts with intense listening and promoting your concerns and addressing those of the other party.

5. Prepare for contingencies

Recognize there might be surprises. Think about all possible scenarios. So, anticipate and prepare for any possible surprises.

You’ll have a better chance to enhance your position and to satiate the other party.

But be prepared to walk away.

6. Whenever feasible, think big picture

If it’s an important relationship that you’ll need for the long term, consider whether you’ll risk winning a battle in the short term but losing the war long term.

In other words, if you insist on something that benefits you in the short term but would alienate the other party over the long haul, walk softly.

Instead, consider “log rolling” as a plan B. That means yielding if it will hurt you long term.

7. Consider what you’ll do next, if you don’t reach an understanding

Realistically, you can expect to win but you must anticipate that you might have to consider plan C if you don’t get what you want.

That goes for the other party, too. Research and know the options. Know your fallback alternatives, if any.

If you’re not successful, this means you must know two walkaway positions – theirs and yours. You might have to walk away.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional relevant tips for successful negotiations:

The 22 Dos and Don’ts for Successful Negotiations — No matter what you need to negotiate, there are easy strategies to get anything you want. But you must first remember it’s important to reach a fair compromise – with win-win negotiating skills. President Reagan showed us how to do it right.

11 Tips to Negotiate Your Commercial Real Estate Lease — Depending on your locale, commercial real estate is either readily available or hard to find. Either way, it requires due diligence and skills to negotiate the best commercial real-estate lease.

Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Applicants — Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. Here’s what to do.

In Negotiations, Chit-chat Pays off More for Men than Women — FYI, some small talk just before a negotiation provides a boost for men but not women, according to academic researchers. So, if you’re a man, a little chit-chat before the serious discussion helps you make a better impression for better results. But it’s just the opposite if you’re a woman. Men benefit 6 percent more than women.

Complete Guide — How to Market Your Ideas to the CEO — Whether you’re an executive — in finance, human resources or marketing seeking to be a partner in the C-suite — it’s vital to communicate effectively with senior management. To market your ideas to senior management, here are the four best practices.

“If your first objective in the negotiation, instead of making your argument, is to hear the other side out, that’s the only way you can quiet the voice in the other guy’s mind. But most people don’t do that.”

-Christopher Voss


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Marketing/Sales: How to Win Like a Big-League Player


Plus, a motivating Salesforce infographic, “The Big Leagues of Marketing: How to be Successful in Enterprise Marketing.”



A St. Louis, MO marketing company provides some marketing truisms.

“Let’s face it: Doing business in the modern, global workplace means that you and every one of your departments are pulled in multiple directions all the time,” says Jessica Pyykkonen of Ghergich & Co. (ghergich.com).

“It’s not just customer service and sales but production and marketing, too,” she explains. “And developing an enterprise marketing system or effort can feel overwhelming. It’s hard to focus and it’s easy to fall back on the impersonal, to the detriment of your customers.”

How to tap into customers’ emotions?

“They need to feel as if you are tending to them and to their needs and wants,” she says.

“And smaller companies may feel as if they don’t have enough resources to devote to something that’s big in execution,” she adds. “But both of those approaches would be wrong.”

A better option?

“It just comes with access to a method known as the Ansoff Matrix, which helps guide companies through their decision-making process,” she contends. “That matrix is a great way to think about opportunities as they relate to increased sales.”

Yes, indeed.

“While the layman may understand enterprise as ‘marketing for big companies,’ this … breaks down the strategy necessary for large-scale marketing,” she concludes.

She provides an informative infographic courtesy of Salesforce:

The Big Leagues of Marketing: How to Be Successful in Enterprise Marketing

From the Coach’s Corner, related marketing and sales tips:

Marketing Psychology: Choose the Best Colors for Online Sales — Here are color tips to improve visitor experience and to capture customers – including a great infographic on 40 facts about the psychology of colors.

Best Sales Pipeline Tips: Content Marketing, Follow-up and Marketing Automation — Here’s how you can maximize your sales pipeline with effective content marketing, prioritizing follow-up and marketing automation.

Best Strategies to Manage Unpredicted Business Growth — Fast growth can present difficult challenges for a business, if it isn’t prepared. That goes for any sector – from service businesses to manufacturers. Here are five best strategies.

Psychological Pricing Tips to Sell More Products, Services — Depending on your products or services, psychological pricing is based on the idea that certain prices are more appealing. Here are six options.

7 Voice Tips for Professionalism If You Can’t Get Face Time — Face time is best for making sales calls, negotiating with associates or in job hunting. But if you can’t meet in-person, here are the phone-voice techniques used by top broadcasters and sales pros.

Tips for Your Success with Effective Follow-up Emails — Ever wonder why you’re waiting nonstop for emails – why you’re unsuccessful after you send follow-up emails? It might be because of your approach.

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

-Peter Drucker


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




As Tech Disrupts, HR Strategies to Meet Future Staff Needs



With the ever-increasing skills gap faced by businesses despite the record unemployment in a stronger economy, the millions of unfilled jobs serve as a conundrum to companies.

Innovations in technology such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and driverless cars further threaten businesses that already have challenges in human resources.

Hence, a big red flag: To avoid workforce pain, how to strategically plan for the decades ahead?

Obviously, all of this points to the need for strategic planning.

In the tech revolution, prepare for four HR challenges:

  1. Fix your culture to prepare for rapidly evolving technology
  2. Recruit people who can propel your business
  3. Retrain your current workforce
  4. Terminate employees who cannot adapt

Your company is not terminally unique. Worldwide, in the decade ahead, countless businesses will have hundreds of millions of workers who need reskilling or face laying them off.

Employees who have a self-direction aptitude for adapting and reskilling will be at a premium for companies.

In this competitive marketplace, it’s definitely not going to be enough to outsource and or to hire new people. Retraining is vital. This might require a cultural change.

Arguably, constant technological change means many people won’t adapt.

Therefore, it’s vital to implement the Pareto Principle – the 80/20 rule. Like it or not, only 20 percent of your workforce will contribute to 80 percent of your future operational performance.

Focus on rewarding these people and retrain the rest. If they can’t be retrained for the right skills, enhanced recruitment and layoffs will be needed.

Unfortunately, the optics as well as implications for society with long unemployment lines will be unfortunate.

It might seem harsh, but automation means major change. A heavily unionized company will face unacceptable choices. Given political change in public policy, it might be difficult to terminate unproductive workers.

It’s critical for companies to identify the future skills and roles they’ll need in their staffing, and to make needed changes.

As technology evolves, there will continue to be new jobs with new demands for workers.

The competition for skilled workers will intensify – resulting in a crisis for each HR department. So, employers and workers must enthusiastically participate in reskill planning.

Companies that excel in identifying future HR needs will compete the best.

Seven strategies to meet your future needs:

  1. Evaluate your culture for its potential to adapt. Employee accountability is vital.
  2. Analyze and visualize your personnel gaps and skills you’ll need in the years ahead. Concurrently, understand the value to your company.
  3. Develop a series of plans that include recruiting, hiring, reskilling and outsourcing.
  4. Renovate your operational infrastructure and talent pool to create high performance.
  5. Seek ideas from your best talent.
  6. Be disciplined in your timely execution of making needed changes.
  7. Continually fine-tune strategies when necessary.

In conclusion, you should have a mindset to prepare for a workforce war. You’ll have a battle in prepping your culture for needed changes, recruiting the right workers and in reskilling.

From the Coach’s Corner, here relevant tips:

For Profits, Align Your HR Program with Your Business Strategy — For profits, a successful human-resources management strategy should complement your overall business strategy. Here’s how.

Hiring Applicants: 5 Deadly Sins of Even Savvy Managers — In this competitive and litigious marketplace, small details in human resources can make or break a company. Even though an organization’s performance matters, many managers unfortunately take shortcuts in the hiring process.

Management Strategies for Productive Applicant Interviews — You must be assertive – ask the right questions and listen intently to cut through the morass of canned answers to get the answers you need to make good hiring decisions.

HR — Succession Planning Is Essential for Business Success — To keep growing a business, it’s vital to preserve the trust of customers, employees, partners and investors. No matter how small or large your company is, a strategically written succession plan for the chief executive officer and talented employees is critical for sustainability.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company — If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

-Jimmy Dean


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Tips to Avoid Legal Stress from Nonexempt Pay Errors



If your pay program for nonexempt employees isn’t kosher, you’ll likely be confronted with legal hassles.

Such hassles will result in having to pay back wages, overtime, liquidated or double damages.

So, to prepare for payroll audits, the quality of your records is paramount.

Employees will be successful in suing your company – up to three years for willful errors and up to two years for non-willful errors.

A compliance program is important to avoid violating wage-and-hour laws.

You must implement and enforce policies that prevent your workers from working unpaid overtime.

Here are precautions to take:

1. Pay for employees’ work performed at different sites

If you have employees who work at multiple locations during the same week’s duration, total their hours correctly and pay them accordingly.

2. Don’t pay an average rate for different hours in the workweek

For instance, if an employee works 50 hours in one week and 30 hours the next week, you must pay overtime for the extra 10 hours in the first week. Therefore, don’t average the two weeks totaling 80 hours.

3. Pay for each of your workers’ hours – before and after business hours

Remember all activities, pre-work and post-work, must be paid. That includes seemingly minor tasks such as responding to off-hour emails and texts.

4. Pay for work during meal breaks 

Make certain your software doesn’t deduct pay for meal breaks.

5. Pay for wait time 

Employees’ waiting time must be compensated. Your workers who must wait to perform their duties should be paid.

That includes workers who have to spend their time waiting for work areas to be cleared after their shifts have started.

6. Pay for travel time 

Naturally, you don’t have to pay for employees’ commute time. However, if your employees must travel to different work sites, they must be paid for it.

7. Pay for 1 ½ times of their hourly rate for overtime work

All of the hours employees work must be compensated, and overtime hours require time-and-a-half.

Additionally, pay for any bonuses, commissions and other incentives including shift differentials.

8. Accurately pay for all telecommuting

Make sure your telecommuting employees keep accurate records of their agreed-upon work hours. In advance of starting a telecommute schedule, this includes full documentation with a written, signed and dated agreement.

Keep an eye on their production. Make certain workers aren’t working over 40 hours a week unless more time is needed for your business.

The bottom-line: The right policies and implementation are vital. You never know when you’ll be required to prove your pay program is above board with documentation.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant tips:

Checklist to Audit Payroll Processes to Avoid Costly Mistakes — Payroll mistakes can be costly, if your company fails to comply with changes in the tax code. To avoid issues with the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service, it’s best to review your payroll processes.

16 Best Practices to Stay out of Legal Trouble with Employees — Generally, in human resources, companies find themselves in legal hot water because they inadvertently make mistakes with their employees. It’s important to triple down on preventative measures and responses to legal hazards when necessary. Here are Biz Coach tips.

Employee Records: Which Ones to Save and for How Long — You don’t want to keep unnecessary employee records. Nor do you want to make a rash decision on whether to destroy records. Here are the laws you need to know.

The Planning That’s Vital to Pay Competitive Wages for Performance — Two of the most salient steps you can take in management – create a compensation plan that competitively pays your employees and rewards them for excellence. Enlightened compensation plans inspire performance and incentivize productivity.

Tips for Handling Your Employees’ Wage Garnishments — Handling wage garnishments of your employees’ paychecks – including communication – is a very sensitive issue. Here are four management tips.

 

“People are the most important thing. Business model and product will follow if you have the right people.”  

-Adam Neumann

 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Time Management Tips for New Bosses



Managers, especially new managers, risk burnout from not managing their time effectively.

New managers are naturally ambitious, but succumb to burnout because they try to do-it-all in performing their personal duties as well as in managing others.

It’s best to learn the important concept of displacement and how to say no at work. Displacement means if you’re doing one task it prevents you from doing another.

Prioritize A, B or C

When you get a request or project, prioritize its effect on your staff and company – starting with big-picture goals and responsibilities.

Judge if it’s of low importance, so visualize its importance. If it isn’t unimportant, put it in the C category or just say “no.”

Normally, you’ll need to decide on the seriousness, urgency, productivity and growth as they impact your organization.

Delegation 

Many new managers don’t yet understand the intricacies of delegation, which is an important part of leadership. Delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth.

Managers who use best practices in employee delegation are more effective in leadership.

Twelve-hour workdays don’t usually help the company succeed nor is it conducive for a balanced personal or family life.

If you’re just launching your career in management in a small company or in your own startup, it’s usually best to wait in starting a family until it’s obvious you’re on your way.

Be careful about meetings

Many meetings are a time-waster.

Make certain a meeting has an agenda. If you have the option to decide whether to attend, determine whether you can add or learn something from the meeting.

If you’re scheduling a meeting, have an agenda. Plan to engage your employees in energetic, inspiring staff meetings to improve performance.

Sometimes people in business need a creative place at which to have productive conversations that are in out-of-the-ordinary locations.

Perhaps you have an employee whom you need to counsel. Or you have a peer that needs encouragement. For discussions on difficult issues, try walking meetings.

Hiring employees is expensive. So it’s important to use the right tactics in probation meetings for new employee success.

If you’re responsible for client relationships, you need to make certain they thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and respond well to your recommendations.

If they don’t, strategize for effective client meetings.

Regularly evaluate your schedule

It’s important to audit your calendar and do some fine-tuning when necessary.

You’ll find that some meetings or activities are no longer relevant. That’s why it helps to look at your calendar before the start of the month.

Decide which duties are no longer appropriate or are a time-waster for you personally. Again, delegation might be applicable for some activities.

Also, budget time for activities that are necessary on which you might tend to procrastinate or overlook.

Make lists

Don’t make the mistake of being put in the position of being a slave to your email inbox or always having to put out fires that could have been prevented.

Be assertive. Plan your schedule.

Again, prioritize A, B or C. Incorporate your projects, goals, and tasks.

And depending on your responsibilities and sector, categorize your lists and line them up horizontally. Bundle projects that are related in one way or another.

By late Thursday every week, you should be able to know your plans for the following week.

Make your job fun with “blue-sky” thinking

It’s boring and a beginning to burnout, if you omit fun. Build fun into your plans – work that you’d love to do.

You’ll enjoy more energy and inspiration. Remember in this day and age, it takes discipline to create fun, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant management tips:

So You Finally Got Your First Management Job? Now What? – There are 10 principles every new manager needs to know and use.

7 Management Tips – Communication with Difficult Employees – Multiple problems including loss of profit results from ineffectively dealing with difficult employees. Here are seven Biz Coach tips.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company – If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees – With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

Why Women Are Better Prepared than Men for Management – Many women are better prepared as managers because they have emotional intelligence — a desired characteristic for successful management. Here’s why.

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”

-John D. Rockefeller


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Got an Entrepreneurial Dream? Here’s Your First Important Step



Strong cash flow is critical for entrepreneurial success.

But 50 percent of all small businesses crash within five years because their founders are weak in financial literacy, according to a report by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

“Growth, Vitality, and Cash Flows: High-Frequency Evidence from One Million Small Businesses,” stems from data compiled from accounts at JPMorgan Chase.

It’s the nation’s largest bank and is an advocate for small-business education programs.

The report makes it clear that such small-business failures stem from a lack of knowledge about cash flow and maintaining a cash buffer.

“Small businesses don’t fail because it’s a bad business,” Chris Wheat, director of business research for the JPMorgan Chase Institute and the lead researcher on the study.

“They fail because of cash flow problems,” he explains.

The report’s conclusions emphasize establishing and maintaining an emergency fund, and fully understanding how to sustain cash flow – that’s income and expenditures.

Least successful startups

Mr. Wheat analyzed the businesses that suffer from poor cash flow. Restaurants fare the worst.

The study indicates restaurants only last 3.7 years. That’s the shortest lifespan of a dozen industries that were studied.

Why?

Restaurants typically are hit by unanticipated expenses while trying to cope with irregular income.

Negative surprises occur because restaurants must continually buy supplies at constantly changing prices vs. an unpredictable flow of customers. Changing seasons are a factor.

“Restaurants we consistently find have more pronounced small-business challenges,” says Mr. Wheat.

“Restaurants tend not to be holding a lot of cash in their accounts. And if you put that together with any amount of volatility, it’s not surprising to see they have the highest likelihood of exiting,” he adds.

Most-successful startups

On the other hand, the study shows the most-successful businesses are real estate firms. They average a nine-year lifespan.

Their income and expenses are more predictable and stable. That means they find it easier to maintain a good cash flow.

So, if you’ve got an entrepreneurial idea, make certain you’re strong in understanding finance. Get a mentor and take whatever financial training programs you can.

Do this, and your dream will come true.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are relevant tips for entrepreneurial success:

You Can Creatively Manage Your Cash Flow 7 Ways – If you’re taking the pulse of your business, of course, the first thing to consider is your cash flow. If your cash flow is poor, you feel poor because you can’t pay the bills nor can you use money for what you’d like to do.

For the Best Cash Flow, Manage Your Inventory Costs with 8 Tips – With proper inventory management, you can lower your expenses and increase your cash flow. For many businesses, it means taking a look at your inventory costs.

Checklist — 11 Tips to Increase Your Startup’s Cash Flow – Cash flow is the salient dynamic that leads to the failure or success of a business. Here are 11 Biz Coach ways to maintain positive cash flow.

Angel Investor: Tips for Increasing Cash Flow, Profits — A successful angel investor shares his tips for good cash flow and other profit issues.

Small Business Options for Year-End Cash Flow, Tax Benefits – The fourth quarter is the time for small business owners to reflect on options for year-end cash flow and tax benefits. In general, here are items to discuss with your accountant and tax advisor.

11 Tips to Win Your Entrepreneurial (Marathon) Race – For successful small firms, strong cash flow doesn’t just happen. Advertising firms to tech startups have a system. They plan and implement with precision. Using these strategies, you, too, will win.

12 of the Best Financial-Planning Tips for Entrepreneurs – Typically, there are critical mistakes made by entrepreneurs. In essence, they’re so busy putting out fires, they leave their financial security in doubt.

“Starting your own business is like riding a roller coaster. There are highs and lows and every turn you take is another twist. The lows are really low, but the highs can be really high. You have to be strong, keep your stomach tight, and ride along with the roller coaster that you started.”

-Lindsay Manseau


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Checklist to Audit Payroll Processes to Avoid Costly Mistakes



Payroll mistakes can be costly, if your company fails to comply with changes in the tax code.

To avoid issues with the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service, it’s best to review your payroll processes.

Here’s a checklist:

  1. Naturally, you should regularly perform security scans, change complex passwords and take other security measures as well as update drivers on the computers used in finance.

It’s also recommended that you check who has excess to your system and prohibit access by the people no longer allowed to use it.

  1. If you’ve been phished and hacked, you should alert the IRS right away at dataloss@irs.gov.

The IRS will want to know your company’s name, your employer identification number, your name, contact information, as well as a full explanation of what occurred.

  1. Verify to your satisfaction that your payroll software is performing well. For example, be sure of the recorded accuracy of the wages, tax deposits and tax returns.

Obviously, correct any mistakes and take steps to make certain the errors do not reoccur.

  1. Review your company’s paid time off or personal time off Be certain you compel your employees to either cash out or roll over unused time-off and leave during the current year.
  1. Verify all IRS records. Whether you have a payroll firm or do it in-house, obtain and then review copies of your tax records.

Check to be certain the right amounts of taxes are withheld, and that they are forwarded to the IRS as well as all applicable forms.

Did you know you can use the full suite of IRS e-services? If not, here’s the link: irs.gov/e-services.

  1. Double check your W-2 coding for your workers’ pretax deferrals into retirement accounts.
  1. For any employee who resigns or retires, classify the final wages properly. Be sure to adhere to all company policies or applicable laws.
  1. Review whether you make any payments to workers outside of your payroll system. A typical scenario occurs when you make taxable business-expense reimbursements.

If you do, develop a system that accurately records and processes such funds.

  1. Regarding fringe benefits, make certain that your deduction codes are accurate. Check the entire process.
  1. Make certain final 401(k) amounts or final paychecks are accurately issued. Review your process to guarantee these matters are properly handled.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional tips affecting your financials:

12 of the Best Financial-Planning Tips for Entrepreneurs – Typically, there are critical mistakes made by entrepreneurs. In essence, they’re so busy putting out fires, they leave their financial security in doubt.

9 Best Biz Coach Tips for Cost-Savings Include Risk-Taking – To do a better job of cutting costs, successful entrepreneurs take risks by optimizing costs. They understand that linear cost-cutting is in reality an avoidable trap.

For Business Growth, the 3 Best Practices in Cutting Costs – You won’t achieve long-term profitable growth by slashing costs. By strategically cutting costs, you will develop a resilient business-growth model. Just as you differentiate your company to your customers, you must differentiate your costs to propel your business growth.

Tips for Strategic-Thinking in Finance: Your Staff, Individuals – Many companies want accountants and finance professionals who are strategic thinkers. But that’s not happening at most companies. Here are tips for managers and employees.

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth – Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

You Will Save Money on Business Travel with these 25 Tips – Everybody loves flying first class. But if you want to save money, you don’t fly first class, right? Here’s what else you can do.

“Many people remember to include miles to their clients or vendors. However, what about those trips to the office supply store, bank, post office? These miles add up. Do not forget the miles!” 

– Jeffrey A. Schneider


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Dreaming about Launching a Business? The Best Age to Start



An authoritative study reveals the ideal age to be successful in launching a business.

Technology startups results are included in the study, which makes the age-revelation even more surprising.

You see, the ideal age to launch a business is 45. That’s really surprising when you consider the rampant ageism in the technology sector.

Conducted by two MIT professors and the Census Bureau, researchers studied 2.7 million entrepreneurs who hired at least one person between 2007 and 2014.

In addition to revealing the ideal age for an entrepreneur is 45, the study discloses some fascinating information.

The odds favor a 50-year-old person over a 30-year-old. The former is 2.2 times as likely to succeed over the latter.

In fact, the odds favor a 50-year-old over a 25-year-old by 2.8 times.

Compared to a 25-year-old, a 40-year-old is 2.1 times more likely to prevail.

The odds even favor entrepreneurs older than 45. A 60-year-old entrepreneur is 3.1 times more likely to beat a 30-year-old.

Moreover, here’s an astounding statistic: The 60-year-old is 1.7 times more likely to reach a very high level of success – the top 0.1 percent of all businesses.

Key reasons

While younger entrepreneurs can have good ideas, naturally there are reasons why they typically don’t stack up to 45-year-olds and older.

What counts most are strategy, specific tactics and execution. With a richer background and experience, it’s much easier for an older entrepreneur to make decisions and execute strategies.

So, experience is the best teacher. Younger people simply don’t know what they need to know. And to succeed in entrepreneurism, leadership is a key quality.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurs launch their small business with big ideas. Certainly, the business and the owner are synonymous – everything is based on the person’s personality. At the minimum before you start, there are six key questions to ask yourself.

True, there are many considerations before launching a business. But if you’re thinking about starting a business and you’re the right age and have the creativity, drive, ideas and talent – pursue your dream.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are two relevant articles in which The New York Times quoted me:

Been There… Done That… Here’s How – New York Times.” That’s when The New York Times invited me to coach their readers on entrepreneurship.

Countless readers emailed their questions for my solutions to their business challenges, which were published in “Advice on Taking an Entrepreneurial Leap – New York Times.”

Related articles:

Startup: 8 Tips to Organically Grow Your Business – Organically growing a business is a lot like organic farming. Organic farmers rich sources of organic matter for growth. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, it probably makes sense to grow organically.

Planning – Tips for Avoiding Growing Pains in Your Startup — For startups, there are questions about getting the work done before hiring, and how to quit your job before starting a business.

Startup Financial Planning: How to Get a Pragmatic Forecast – Unless you have a lot of startup experience, it can be a little tricky to make down-to-earth financial projections for your new company. Pragmatic assumptions are important in such a forecast.

Checklist — 11 Tips to Increase Your Startup’s Cash Flow – Cash flow is the salient dynamic that leads to the failure or success of a business. Here are 11 Biz Coach ways to maintain positive cash flow.

Why Startups Fail – Biz Coach Strategies on How to Win – It’s vital to conduct a thorough needs-assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – followed by development and implementation of a strategic action plan.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

-Peter Drucker

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Hiring Applicants: 5 Deadly Sins of Even Savvy Managers



In this competitive and litigious marketplace, small details in human resources can make or break a company.

Even though an organization’s performance matters, many managers unfortunately take shortcuts in the hiring process.

The reasons range from being too busy for due diligence in screening resumes to inability to take sober looks at applicants in the interview process.

This can drastically affect businesses’ cultures such as leading to lack of teamwork, inattention to details or poor customer service. Ultimately, profits are adversely affected.

All positions in the organizational chart, including receptionists, are important.

For instance, if a furniture retailer hires the first person to walk in the door to work in the warehouse, the wrong employee will hurt customer service and sales – either in the slow delivery of products or the delivery of wrong products.

Managers need to avoid five deadly sins:

Inadequate checking of references

True, in our litigious environment, businesspeople are increasingly reluctant to answer questions and to give accurate information.

But a skilled boss knows how to call the applicants’ former bosses and references about specific matters to ask open-ended questions, not close-ended questions. In this way, they get better answers.

Moreover, the questions should correspond to an HR tool: A reference-verification form.

The form asks the applicants questions such as how they believe their former companies will evaluate them in precise matters.

In this way, the bosses can compare the applicants’ answers to the answers of the former employers.

Complacency about honesty

Many bosses are too complacent about honesty and attitudes. The right applicants are people who want to do a job well. Don’t settle for just anybody who can do the job.

Astute bosses won’t focus on trying to catch applicants in lies. They have a process to help them determine that will prompt applicants to tell the truth.

Assuming applicants who interview the best will perform the best

Not true. Consider this fact: Applicants, who are mesmerizing in their interview answers, typically have the most experience in answering questions.

They’ve had lots of coaching and practice in smiling and answering obvious questions.

Case study:

As a business-performance consultant with a home office, I’ve had to be very careful in hiring personal assistants. I asked people I trusted for referrals. Once, I asked for a referral from the owner of my dry cleaners, who had been doing an outstanding job on my apparel.

She recommended a retired Air Force mechanic to me. But on the surface, there were some reasons for me not to hire the person. She appeared to be very shy with no bookkeeping experience.

But I saw something special in her. She was due diligent in showing up for the interview, asked good questions and asked her husband to interview me as the employer. Upon getting his blessing, she accepted the job.

Not only did she prove to be honest, accurate and extraordinarily dedicated in managing my receivables and payables, she did a stellar job in other unrelated tasks for three years.

She literally saved me a lot of time and money by performing at a high level. Years later, I’m told she launched her own business based on her experience in working at my firm. That’s a very proud memory for me.

The moral: Always keep an open mind to consider all factors.

Failure to place a high value on each position

If you hold your applicants to highest-realistic standards, you’ll benefit from their performances.

On the other hand, if you don’t place a high value on positions – at all levels – the employees will get the impression they don’t matter.

You should want people who want to perform well at the best company.

Overconfidence in hiring

If your instinct about an applicant is positive, look for every possible reason to disqualify the person. Don’t ever make a snap judgment in hiring. Make absolutely certain the person is right for the job.

On the other hand, if your instinct is not to hire an applicant, don’t. Always keep in mind this adage, “When in doubt, don’t.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

Hiring An Impact Person Starts with Screening Resumes — 5 Tips — If you want to hire an impact person, your hiring process is really important. The place to start is using best practices in screening resumes.

Risk Management in Hiring: Pre-Employment Screening Tips — Here are two questions about hiring: 1) what’s the biggest mistake companies make in hiring employees; and 2) what’s the biggest legal obstacle employers face in hiring? Here’s what to do about background screening.

Hiring a Personal Assistant? Hire for 8 Qualities — The right choice of a personal assistant can make a huge difference in your operation. Basically, you need someone who can manage you – represent you well in a variety of tasks – an assistant who can make you look good.

Increase Profits by Hiring Talent with the Best Trait — You’ll increase your odds for profits with high-performing employees with the right culture — if you hire for the right personality trait – enthusiastic people. That’s right. Look for people who have the makeup to being committed and who will care for the welfare of your company. You’ll increase your chances for the strongest results.

Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Applicants — Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. Here’s what to do.

“If hard work is the key to success, most people would rather pick the lock.” 
-Claude McDonald

 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.