Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

February 2016

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If you’re like most small business owners, you spend a lot of your time researching ways to save money. After all, running a business can quickly break the bank. There are office supplies to buy, employees to pay, and software to purchase and install, among many other things.

Don’t get discouraged over finances—there’s good news. Among other HR solutions, thorough documentation is a simple, effective way to protect your hard-earned money. Although paperwork is probably the bane of your existence, it can make a huge positive impact on your budget. Here are six ways good documentation saves your small business money.

Saving Money with Documentation

1. Tax Breaks
When you own a business, everything from gas mileage to business lunches can be written off as an expense and deducted from the amount of taxes you owe to the government. Even your internet bill can become a deduction if you work from home.

But what do you need to have in order to back up these expense claims? Documentation. Make sure to keep accurate records of all expenses you incur that relate to your business.

2. Hiring
Employee hiring is a time-consuming and often frustrating process. The cost of placing job ads and spending time reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates significantly affects your business’s bottom line, cutting into productivity and sometimes causing chaos in your office.

Proper hiring documentation—including employee applications—provides you with a reliable resource for finding the perfect job candidate in a timely manner.

3. Legal Compliance
Most forms used in the running of a business require certain legal considerations. Making sure your documentation is all-inclusive and meets these requirements saves your business money in legal fees.

4. Employee Efficiency
Policies and procedures manuals are vital to the productivity and engagement of your employees. When team members know what to expect right from the start, they have no loopholes to fall back on when they don’t want to comply with company policy.

Everything from time off to office dress code should be meticulously outlined, in detail, in your policies and procedures manuals. This could save your company money by keeping employees on track and productive.

5. Payroll
Sometimes small business owners don’t take payroll as seriously as they should. But that’s a mistake. Keeping proper records of things like hours worked, personal time used, and tax status prevents your business from inadvertently paying too much in taxes on the wages you pay to your employees.

6. Customer Satisfaction
In addition to improving small business HR processes, proper documentation helps boost customer satisfaction. When you keep accurate and detailed records of customer transactions and buying behavior, you’re better equipped to continue providing products and services that each specific customer needs and finds useful.

Working with MJ Management Solutions

Our HR WebForms service provides businesses with customizable, up-to-date, legal forms to meet all their documentation needs. With this service, you can easily get organized in your business and prevent unnecessary expenses. Reach out to us to learn how we can help you save money with HR Solutions for good documentation.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

Have you seen the 1976 movie, Network, staring Peter Finch? It’s the story of a TV news anchor, Howard Beale, who has a mental breakdown while on-air. He rises from his chair, ignores the teleprompter, and instructs his viewers to open their windows and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”

I’ve had days like that, have you? In fact, that’s the impetus to write about it.

Many business owners have one too many days wrought with frustration, anger, overwhelm, and annoyance. Yet, few talk about it or, worse yet, identify the cause so it can be corrected.

The Mood

I don’t’ know what caused it. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Perhaps it was something I ate. Although I couldn’t identify the cause, I was angry…and it was mostly at myself.

It was Monday. I felt overwhelmed and behind on my goals and plans…and the day hadn’t even started. Frankly, I wanted to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and pray that this crushing feeling of overwhelm magically disappeared.

Alas, it didn’t. So, I began to work through my angst.

I listened to relaxation tapes, read over my goals, took note of my achievements, and began to talk myself in, around, under, and through my annoyance and resentment. And, as is frequently recommended, I got busy.

Prioritizing activities based on goals (as I’ve often touted) wasn’t cutting it. I hunted high and low to see what sort of action I could throw myself behind. With a folder chocked full of tax documents staring me down, I dug in with the tenacity of a dog with a bone.

As the day progressed, my hissy fit began to ease. I moved easily from one account to another and another with ease—until a simple mileage log turned things upside down.

How could something as simple as a mileage log taunt me?

Unable to locate my digital mileage record, or anything resembling a backup, I set out to recreate my whereabouts by going through my calendar—day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month. Before I knew it—there it was again.

As I relived every day of the previous year, a storm began to brew. Given the diagnostic rear view glance into my business, it was a real eye-opener!

My calendar—jam-packed with commitments, meetings, agreements, coffee and dinner dates, exercise, business development, marketing, time with family…in a nutshell, was disappointing. It was certainty not what I would have suspected my calendar to resemble.

No wonder I was frustrated.

The Cause

In true coaching style, I questioned myself through discovering the cause of a calendar asymmetrical to my personal and business desires and goals. What I discovered was not thrilling—but it was true.

Although I desired to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants business owner, the truth is subconscious beliefs, anxiety, and needs drove much of my calendar—not the values, mission, passion, and goals I had hoped.

Instead of being sprinkled with goals, my calendar was littered with obligations—dates loaded with “shoulds, oughts, and have tos.” And, if that wasn’t enough, I was a “yes” waiting to happen.

It was icing on a malfunctioning almanac.

The Resolution

Before the sun set upon the horizon, I resolved to right size my chronology—to put myself, my dreams, and my desires back in the captain’s chair.

I dusted off my core values and posted them prominently as a reminder that achievement is built upon values—not obligations.

I created operating principles as a stopgap measure against the hair trigger “yes.”

I revisited my goals, removing all “oughts, shoulds, and have tos” from the roster.

I practiced saying “no” without explanation.

I prepared myself for any possible storm originating from without (i.e., peer pressure, non-acceptance, sarcasm) or within (i.e., guilt) when I no longer comply with expected behavior.

The Progress

How are things going thus far? It’s too new to say with any certainty.

I suspect there will be slip-ups and set backs—resets and reboots. That’s what business (aka life) is about anyway, isn’t it? But, I do no one thing for sure….

Like Howard Beale, “I’m as mad as hell (at myself), and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”

How about you? Can you relate to Howard Beale and his unpredicted outburst? Or, my angst and frustration over a misaligned calendar? What do you do to make sure your calendar reflects your goals?

Employee hiring is vital in building a desired culture within small businesses and organizations. Having a team that truly understands what your business is trying to accomplish and that works well together to meet common goals is the quickest path to success. But how do you get to that point? It all starts with finding the best HR solutions for the employee hiring process—more specifically, detailed employee applications.

You may think that accepting a resume should be sufficient, but using a comprehensive employee application saves organizations time and money in the long-run by making the hiring process more efficient.

Here are five reasons to develop and use a strategic employee application.

Reason 1: To Weed Out Obvious Wrong Choices
The employee application is your first chance to filter out those candidates who simply aren’t a good fit for your company culture. When you include relevant, behavior-driven questions, in addition to the basics, you’re better able to filter through applicants before ever meeting them in person.

Using the employee application form in this manner prevents wasted time on interviews that won’t produce qualified job candidates. It also frees you up to spend more time learning about potential employees in whom you’re genuinely interested.

Reason 2: To Be Prepared for Interviews
Scheduling and conducting interviews is a time-consuming process. More often than not, the majority of interview time is spent discussing job history, career and personal goals, and values. Knowing the answers to these types of questions before you begin each interview allows you to dive right in and get straight to the point.

A comprehensive employee application helps you prepare for interviews so that you can truly get to know every interviewee and determine if he or she is a good fit for your organization.

Reason 3: To Remain Legally Compliant
In today’s world, inadvertently asking someone the wrong thing can lead to serious legal repercussions. This holds true whether the incident occurs in person, in writing, or otherwise. Unfortunately for business owners and managers, there’s a fine line between getting the information you need and digging too deep.

It’s important to the success of your business that you know as much as is necessary to choose the right person for your team; the engagement of your employees depends on it. On the other hand, being too invasive could get you into trouble. Finding the right balance starts with developing an effective employee application.

Reason 4: To Eliminate Untruthful Candidates
When you use employment applications instead of relying on resumes only you have a strong base for rejecting candidates who are untruthful. Applicants can be required to sign an application and state that all information contained in the application is true. Failure to be truthful or omission of relevant information such as a criminal conviction can later be grounds for immediate dismissal. Resumes only give you the information the candidate wants you to have. An application can ask for information you need to evaluate the suitability of the candidate

Reason 5: To Streamline the Employee Hiring Process
Last, but certainly not least, developing a comprehensive and strategic employee application helps to streamline the hiring process, making it a more efficient and effective procedure. This relieves some of the stress that naturally accompanies times of transition and growth within organizations.

Now What?

At MJ Management Solutions, Inc. we offer HR solutions to keep your business in compliance while streamlining processes like employee hiring by providing customizable, downloadable forms. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you customize an employee application, or subscribe to our newsletter to receive one free form each month.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” so the song goes. Ugh! Anyone in the deep freeze of the season can relate to the idea of “settling down for a long winters nap” when the weather is gray and gloomy. But, what if you aren’t able to hibernate like a bear? After all, you have a business to run!

It’s no secret that the gray of winter leaves an indelible mark on mood and performance. Growing a business, which has its day-to-day challenges, is compounded by fatigue, depression, and listlessness when office fever sets in.

With 63 million people working from home, safeguarding your sanity to ensure ongoing business growth is priority #1.

Minus a long-term sabbatical, here are 10 actions to protect you from office fever:

  1. Get dressed. It’s easy to stay in your fuzzy bunny slippers and “jams” when the temperature gauge registers zero. But, donning your office best prepares you to meet the day with a sense of duty, professionalism, and discipline.
  2. Engage a business coach. You can’t grow a business in a vacuum—especially when it’s frozen! A business coach keeps you focused and on fire regardless of the weather report.
  3. Get moving. Thanks to technology, a 7-minute workout is only a click away. Exercise not only improves your mood and memory, it actually makes you smarter. Psychiatrist, John Ratey, author of Spark: The New Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain, says, “Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
  4. Stay connected with colleagues and clients. It’s natural to want to hunker down when cold winds swirl around corners and sneak through the cracks in your office. However, when 55% of communication is through verbal cues such as body language and eye contact, why not leverage Skype, FaceTime, blab, or Google hangout to not only speak with—but also see—your colleagues.

Plus, you’ll want to shower, get dressed, and maybe even brush your teeth to make a good impression earning double bonus points when it comes to warding off office fever.

  1. Let in the light. When your mood is as gray as the sky, it’s natural to want to leave the shades pulled and the drapes drawn. Needless to say, that’s only going to advance your office fever.

According to research conducted by the University of Leige, “light conveys a powerful stimulating signal for human alertness and cognition and has been routinely employed to improve performance.”

Throw back the shades and let in as much light as possible.

  1. Spend 10 minutes outside. Former client and research scientist, Dr. Lisa Berntsen’s recent study, Take Ten Outside, offers an excellent solution to sustainable performance. Simply stated, those who take short 10-minute breaks outside “reap the benefits in well-being, productivity, creativity, and reduced stress.”
  2. Play your favorite music. Television (or radio) with its 24-hour news cycle isn’t the best form of “companionship” to keep you from crawling the walls. Try on Pandora or Spotify for electrifying your mood. In fact, feel free to check out my favorite playlist to keep you out of the funk of office fever—Wake Up Happy by Spotify.
  3. Visit a museum, planetarium, or conservatory. This is what my Canadian client does when the dead of winter creeps in. What a brilliant idea! Not only will you uncover incredible beauty, and stellar views, you can’t beat the warm, uplifting experience—and comfy chairs.
  4. Take frequent breaks. Pierre Khawand wrote about the significance of breaks in his book, The Results Curve(TM): How to Manage Focused and Collaborative Time. After a decade of research, he discovered that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work followed by 20 minutes of collaboration. Combine with Dr. Berntsen’s “Take 10” and you have a power hour+ that dispels any inkling of office fever.
  5. Pamper yourself with healthy food. Nothing makes me reach for my favorite bag of potato chips than when cooped up by circumstances beyond my control. Poor food choices only amplify feeling out of sorts caused by office fever. Instead, select foods that elevate your energy—and your spirits. In fact, when I’m feeling chilled to the bone and want to curl up in my warm blanket, I reach for a warm glass of water with cayenne pepper. It warms my soul, hydrates my spirit, and protects me against side effects of office fever.

Regardless of the season, stay in top mental, emotional, and physical condition to keep yourself—and your business—alert, aware, snappy, and on the grow.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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