Archive for the ‘: Personal Company Name, Goodwill, Value, McGraw-Hill, Standard & Poor’s, integrity, honesty, Business Week, Aviation Week, S&P, founder’ s name, growing trend, small- and medium-size busi’ Category

Flex, Remote Workers — Should Your Business Be Using Them

July 17, 2016

When JetBlue Airways Corporation first launched, many if not most of its reservation personnel operated from their own homes.

This highly successful approach reduced start-up costs and worked until more centralized operations were installed as it grew much larger.

For years the typical worker sat at a desk under the watchful eyes of a manager. But much like Jet Blue’s initial workforce, tomorrow’s employee may be miles away working in their home and/or not the standard Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm schedule.

While the jury is still out as to the overall effectiveness from such an approach, there are compelling reasons companies are considering flex and/or remote workers.

  • Bigger, more diverse pool of talent for a larger geographic area to choose from
  • No need to relocate employee
  • Less time commuting leads to fuller work days
  • Happier workers, reduces attrition and enhances quality of work
  • Accommodating a worker’s schedule nurtures loyalty and increase productivity
  • May not have to pay benefits, if not full-time jobs
  • Provides ability to adapt to seasonal, cyclical, and growth needs of the business
  • Workers spend more time working, less time commuting
  • Save money: real estate, parking, capital to run the business, etc.

Employees benefit in some of the following ways:

  • Flexible schedule: not everyone is productive during the same time of day, this allows them to work the hours they prefer and/or what fits their lifestyle
  • Saving money: commuting expenses, out-of-home meals, work wardrobe, child- and/or elder-care
  • Feel more in control of work life
  • Way to keep working while balancing other commitments
  • Less exposure to others’ illnesses and sick days off
  • Fewer days off for personal reasons such as errands, deliveries, appointments
  • Fewer office politics to deal with
  • Limiting in-person contact causes employees to make the most of their time on conference calls and in meetings
  • Inspiration to others seeking work

No matter how one feels about these matters, some clear trends are emerging that should be considered by leaders of all sizes.  They include:

  • Job sharing and telecommuting is on the rise
  • At-home employees continue to rise
  • Most organizations are not monitoring their ROI when it comes to flexible work
  • Moving full-time positions to non-full-time workers (contingent workers)
  • Online communities developing to support these types of workers
  • Millennials are the largest generation in the work force; they prefer to telecommute ad flexible work options
  • Flexible work positively impacts health, providing more time to exercise

Mitigating against these trends are:

  • Not all employees adjust well to remote or flexible work
  • It is harder to mentor and train remote and flexible workers
  • Company culture may weaken because personal relationships and contact between staff members is limited
  • Harder to schedule in-person meetings with a group
  • Communication becomes primarily digital, losing the body language communication can lead to communication being strained and miss-communications via email and text
  • Workers may feel more isolated
  • People who tend to overwork may struggle with work/life balance if working at home
  • Need for worker to have at-home dedicated work space suitable for their personal productivity
  • Technological issues are more detrimental and can isolate remote employees
  • Workers’ comp and other liability issues can be associate with remote work
  • Remote work can also be a way to avoid third-party child- or elder-care costs, causing less productivity
  • Lack of interactive feedback may lead to less creative ideas and brainstorming

 

Company leaders should consider all of these factors when thinking about future employment practices for their organizations.

There may be different answers for different companies. Find the best answer for your company.

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Finding Success In The Future Often Means Looking At The Past

April 11, 2016

For 30 years starting in mid-1980s, many mega-store organizations ended the profitable model of individually own stores and solo salespeople in diverse sectors of the economy.

Now, in turn, most if not all of these huge chains are feeling the pinch of the Internet, much to their chagrin.

Online boutique offerings in sectors as diverse as socks, hardware, shaving implements, insurance, movie distribution are impinging on the continued success of larger, better known conglomerates. Particularly hard hit are office supply chains, food markets, drug stores, auto parts, and car dealerships.

Despite efforts to make themselves more Internet driven, the situation is becoming more acute as the Internet permeates society more deeply each day.

Ironically, in the age of the Internet it is attention to old line, small business strengths leading the way for new entrepreneurs. They include:

  • Know your audience
  • Be flexible in product offerings
  • Attention to detail
  • Become closer to the customer
  • Focus on quality
  • Be there when the customer is ready to buy
  • Keep a tight rein on the money

Interestingly, these admonitions are found in many 20th century books on leading a small business.

Today, there are common threads to the reasons small businesses often outperform their bigger rivals. Those factors contributing to these successes, include:

  • Ease of marketing: The Internet has made it possible for new start-ups to reach target audiences at relatively low cost. Lists are available for almost any consumer or B2B marketing effort.  Big data is also transforming the way small businesses market, challenging bigger organizations in sophistication.
  • Cheap warehousing/distribution: There are services now storing, shipping, charging product and leaving the key sourcing and marketing functions to the entrepreneur. Offerings including free shipping has made physical locations less important than having the right mix of products.
  • Better customer service: Smaller enterprises can focus on interacting with their customer because they are closer to the buyer. Larger entities are trying to catch up but have a long way to go.
  • Ability to act quickly: Consumer and B2B trends rise and fall rapidly; alert small businesses can move faster than larger entities. Small businesses also appear in recent years to have a better ear to the ground then their larger rivals.
  • Expanded sales range: Over the last five years, the average selling range for small businesses has increased from 55 miles from a physical location to almost 100 miles. At the same time, large organizations have seen their selling range reduced to under 50 miles as mega-stores have increasingly become lost leaders.
  • Changing financial sources: Until recent years, financing options for small businesses were limited to banks, factoring organizations, friends and family; and venture capitalists. Today there are online lending groups and other non-traditional sources.  The result is a greater variety of challenges and successes in the small business sector.

Small business success requires hard work, intelligent design, a modicum of luck and an understanding of history.

Successful small business leaders have all of them.

Small Businesses Formations Slowing? A Warning About Future Economic Growth

March 13, 2016

For much of the past 50 years small businesses formation has been a bell weather of how the economy would behave over the next 12 months.

Today, some economists are striking a warning note.

Despite low financing rates and better tools for managing an enterprise, small business formation has slowed during the past six years.

In fact, there are 70,000 less small companies today than in 2010 according to John Schlagenhauf, a former congressional economic advisor.

This statistic is jarring considering recent surveys by Intuit and other respected sounders say small business leaders are optimistic about the future.

However, some other trends support his thesis and our own research points to this trend. After reading about Schlegenhauf’s number, our company Information Strategies, Inc. went back to its database of seven million plus companies and surveyed a representative sample of firms in business five or more years.

Normally, a company in business for five or more years has an average life of 10-plus annual cycles. Of the 1,300 surveyed 1,227 were still functioning.  Research determined 46 were acquired or morphed into new entities but 27 or 2.1% were no longer in business. According to economists, the normal attrition rate in a similar grouping should have been 1.5%.

Then too, computer equipment forecasts along with other startups associated goods and services have been cut, another indication formation numbers are not increasing.

But there are factors at work today that did not exist or were not as pervasive affecting many small businesses.  They include:

  1. Greater federal, state, and local regulations affecting many small business. In particular financial, environmental, and wage regulations.
  2. Obamacare has had a particularly negative affect on many small companies.
  3. Many companies used up their cash and other resources surviving the recession and are still waiting for economic good times which have not come back.
  4. Generational changes in entrepreneurship has meant many younger sons and daughters do not want a small business and its 24/7 management requirements.
  5. The concept of the sharing economy with thousands of independent contractors fighting for business in such industries as taxis, art direction, IT maintenance has reduced the number of full-time businesses.

Since the first surveys were done more than 40 years ago, small business formation has always exceeded closures. This new data, if accurate, should be a warning about the economy because as most everyone concedes small business is the economic driver of our economy.

What’s In A Personal Company Name? A Lot Of Goodwill, Value

February 13, 2016

Another American business name icon is going by the boards.

The venerable publishing company McGraw-Hill will cease to exist this spring.

After its next board meeting the company will be known as Standard & Poor’s.

For almost a century McGraw-Hill publishing was noted for providing information across a broad spectrum of industrial sectors.

Its name bespoke of integrity and honesty. Not the least for its rating services under the Standard & Poor’s name, known to most of us as S&P.

All of the publishing units, including Business Week and Aviation Week are gone.

S&P is under siege for its role in the financial meltdown.

McGraw-Hill is the latest of many companies in today’s world abandoning their founders’ name for different titles.

A recent analyst done by Information Strategies, Inc. (ISI) revealed this is a growing trend.

But there are lessons to be learned by small- and medium-size businesses from this trend. In a famous speech Harold McGraw Jr. once estimated his name on the door was worth ten dollars of the firm’s stock price.

So too is a person’s name on the company worth money. They include:

  1. It meant something to consumers that someone stood behind the company’s offerings.
  2. A personal name forged a bond between seller and buyer.
  3. In today’s world it is easier to get a unique internet domain name.
  4. Adding a son or daughter meant longevity.
  5. Going world-wide eliminated any offensive connotation in other languages.
  6. Your company appears affordable.
  7. Makes your company transparent and personal; available to respond to your client’s needs.
  8. Can be memorable: if people can remember your business name, they can remember you name and vice-versa.

Choosing a personal name can jump start a company in any sector.

Bear this in mind when choosing a name for your company.