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// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Mar. 4, 2016 0 comments
Buying or Selling a Small Business

Ever thought about starting a business but weren’t sure if you wanted to build one from the ground up? Buying a business could be the best way to fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams.

Our new infographic, “It’s a Great Time for Buying or Selling a Business,” looks at how small businesses change hands in the United States.

After jumping in 2013, small business transactions have remained stable with around 7,000 businesses bought or sold each year. “Part of the reason transaction activity stabilized in 2015,” BizBuySell reports, “may be that small businesses continue to grow financially healthier, allowing owners to ask for more money, creating a more balanced market.”

The price of purchasing a business is rising -- and that’s good news for anyone considering selling. Last year, businesses tended to sell for just $25,000 lower than their asking price.

Internet B2B companies cost the most to buy, so be prepared with about $365,000 if you’re in the market for one. Meanwhile, you can likely buy a dry cleaning shop, restaurant, convenience store or barber shop for under $200,000. In fact, restaurants accounted for 22 percent of business sales in 2015, the highest of any industry.

But before you write a check, you’ll want to follow a few financial guidelines. Don’t invest more than 15 percent of your net worth into buying a business, and keep at least 10 percent of your liquid assets free for future business needs. “It is important to have a little bit of a financial buffer, in case some emergency would arise or the business would suddenly need some extra operating funds,” Jason Rueger of FitSmallBusiness advises. “Instead of investing all your liquid assets and being stuck with no cash, buffer gives you a financial cushion which you can draw from when needed.”

Thinking about selling your business? Don’t wait until the last minute -- start doing your research and planning for sale two to five years in advance. Be sure to review your finances, as 31 percent of brokers surveyed reported bad financial health as a major reason why businesses don’t sell.

Check out the infographic for more details. If you’re considering buying a business or selling one you’ve built, contact a SCORE mentor. These seasoned volunteers can guide you through the process -- and may have personal experience to share!

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Liberty Tax Service / Mar. 3, 2016 0 comments
proprietorship

In developing your business plan, you need to decide which structure your business should operate under for legal and tax purposes.

Consult your attorney and tax preparer at the very beginning of the process.

Sole-Proprietor
Plan to report any business income on your personal 1040. Plan to also have full liability for the business -- your personal assets will be at risk.

Downside: This choice can be a disadvantage for long-term growth and raising capital.


C Corporation
For legal purposes, incorporating can limit any potential liability to corporate assets and thereby protect your personal assets. If filing as a C corporation, tax is due on any earnings at the corporate level. With this option, you are creating a separate legal structure allowing for certain tax-deductible business expenses.

Downside: One disadvantage is "double taxation." Your profits are taxed when earned and taxed again when distributed as shareholders' dividends. Shareholders also cannot deduct any corporate losses.
 

S Corporation, LLC or partnership

A corporation can elect to file as a Subchapter S corporation where earnings and losses flow through to the shareholders' personal tax returns. This is known as "pass through taxation." It also applies if a business is organized as an LLC (limited liability company) or partnership. Both corporations and LLC’s provide a good measure of personal liability protection.

Downside: Partnerships are like sole proprietorships from a liability standpoint.

Whatever your decision, you typically need to file paperwork to register your business and then to report on operations each year. 

Liberty Tax Service
SCORE Corporate Patron
Liberty Tax, Inc.

Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, Liberty Tax, Inc. (NASDAQ: TAX) is the parent company of Liberty Tax Service. Liberty Tax’s online services are available through eSmart Tax, Liberty Online and DIY Tax, and are all backed by the tax professionals at Liberty Tax locations and its nationwide network of approximately 35,000 seasonal tax preparers. 
Liberty Tax.com | @LibertyTax | Facebook | More from Liberty Tax

// by Dex Media / Mar. 2, 2016 0 comments
full email inbox

Your customers’ email inboxes are as crowded as a New York sidewalk, and the biggest bit of real estate you get to grab their attention and convince them to open your marketing message is the subject line, maybe 50 characters max.

Here are five tips to help you write the best email subject lines and win the click:

1. The First Rule: There Are No Rules, Just Measurement

Long or short, funny or serious, all that matters is what types of subject lines get results with your particular audiences. In email marketing, it’s easy to measure success: how many subscribers open a message, how many go on to click something in the message and ultimately convert to customers. Also, your email service should provide an easy way to test one subject line vs. another on segments of your audience before you send to the whole list. Worth doing, though the results won’t always be definitive.

2. The “From” Line Is Part of the Subject Line, Mentally

Email users see both and weigh both in deciding whether to open the message. “From” could actually be more important at times. Consider this: Barack Obama raised millions for his 2012 re-election on email campaigns with subject lines like “Hey” and “Wow” because his “brand” was so strong with his supporters. A large part of the effect of your subject lines will be determined by how likeable you’ve made your brand and the expectations your previous email messages set for value delivered.

3.  Tell, Don’t Sell

“The best subject lines tell what’s inside, the worst ones sell what’s inside,” email vendor MailChimp concluded after a study in which straightforward lines (like this snoozer: “Preliminary Floor Plans for Southern Village Neighborhood Circle Members”) consistently beat on open rates hyper-ventilating, sales-y wording (like “SALE ends soon – up to 50% off all bras at Kara!”). Why? Because they promised a specific value for the click that was relevant and timely for the customer--and they seemed likely to deliver the value not the hype.

4.  The Lengthy Debate about Length

For years, email marketers split on whether shorter (say 4-15 characters) beat longer (like 50 or more characters) and cited studies of open rates one way or the other. The consensus in the business seems to have settled down to: It doesn’t matter. But know the physical limits. On a desktop computer, an inbox displays about 60 characters of the subject, on a mobile device, just 25-30 characters.

5.  ALL CAPITALS & OTHER EYE CATCHERS????

Email marketers have used capitalization, punctuation, hot button words (“call now!”), and recently emojis to make subject lines stand out. Just be cautious here. Email service providers (Yahoo Mail, Gmail, etc.) run spam filters behind the scenes that check subject lines and a long list of other factors you’ll never know to decide whether to block your messages or let them pass.  Anyway, users are wary of spammy-looking pitches. The best defense is to keep your subject line consistent with your brand and the content of your email message, and not try to win the click by waving bright, shiny objects at your subscribers.

Learn more about email subject lines and why your customers don’t read your marketing emails on the Dex Media blog.


Jeff B. Copeland is a senior manager for content at Dex Media, where he works on the Dex Media blog and email newsletter, the consumer information site EnlightenMe.com and other content projects.

Dex Media
SCORE Corporate Patron

Dex Media is dedicated to working with local businesses to provide them marketing solutions that will help them grow their business and be successful. Dex Media helps level the playing field and give these businesses the edge to compete in today’s digital marketplace. We’re here to give them the solutions they need to connect with customers, wherever they may be.
DexMedia.com | @DexMediacom | Facebook | More from Dex Media

// by Rieva Lesonsky / Mar. 1, 2016 0 comments
Young Entrepreneurs

It seems as if every day, I hear about another Millennial entrepreneur launching an innovative new business. Indeed, more than half (51 percent) of Millennials (ages 18-34) either own or would like to own a business someday, according to a recent survey by the Small Business Majority. But apparently, those numbers could be even higher — if only financial concerns weren’t holding would-be Millennial entrepreneurs back.

Here are some of the disturbing numbers the survey found:

Nearly half (48 percent) of Millennials paying off student debt who currently own or have plans to own a business say their student loan payments have hurt their ability to start a business. And 38 percent of the Millennials interested in starting a business but who have no current plans to do so say their student loan payments affect their ability to start a business.

Student debt is also making it more difficult for Millennials to invest in their businesses or to hire employees. Among those who are still paying off student loans, 43 percent of those who own or have current plans to own a business, and 38 percent who would like to own a business but have no current business plans, say their student debt affects their ability to invest in the business or hire new employees.

Even more than student debt, concerns about retirement are hindering Millennials from starting businesses. A whopping 75 percent of Millennials who either own, plan to own or would like to start a business one day say the lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan is a barrier to entrepreneurship. More than one-third (36 percent) say it is a “serious” concern. Not surprisingly, those who are still paying off student debt are more likely than other respondents to be worried about not having an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

We've all heard a lot in recent years about the problems that student debt is causing for young people, their families and their futures. But if student debt continues to hinder Millennials from following their entrepreneurial dreams, our country’s role as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship will suffer, too.

The good news is that Millennial entrepreneurs still have the DIY spirit startups are known for: Almost three-quarters (76 percent) started their businesses themselves. Just 12 percent inherited the business, while 8 percent received it as a gift or through marriage.

Tapping into that attitude, here are some suggestions for ways that young entrepreneurs can overcome the hindrance of student debt.

  • If possible, see if you can live with your parents while starting your business. This makes it more feasible to pay off your student debt or, if it's currently deferred, to invest in your business.
  • Do you have parents or other relatives who are willing to invest in your business? Consider asking if they are willing to help repay your student debt instead. This enables you to put earnings back into the business, without having two types of debt hanging over your head.
  • Set up your own retirement plan. No, you won't get an employer match, but there are retirement plans designed for the smallest businesses, even those with just one employee (you).
  • Buddy up. Consider starting your business with a partner or partners to share the burden of startup costs.

Need more advice, suggestions or just moral support? You can get all three for free any time from your SCORE mentor. Visit www.score.org to learn more.

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Tom Reddon / Feb. 29, 2016 0 comments
work place safety

Accident. That is a hard word to swallow. Why? Because we know that accident is something we could avoid. No matter how severe the aftermath of an accident may be, we are often left with the gnawing guilt that “X would not have happened if Y were done.”

Sometimes accidents leave permanent scars, reminding us each day of our negligence (or recklessness). For those of you who have been a victim or perpetrator of a costly accident, you probably could relate to the pain and agony accidents could bring. Oftentimes, the lot of guilt falls heaviest on those in the workplace, especially the ones in the managerial position. So how do employees, managers, and supervisors cope with workplace accidents? Here are a few tips to help you to minimize the probability of accidents with a healthy outlook:

Understand the Nature of Accidents

Dictionary.com defines accident as “an undesirable or unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage, or loss; casualty; mishap.” In other words, accidents are unplanned events that sometimes come with one or more unpleasant consequences. One thing for people at the workplace to realize is that accidents are never intentional. They are not done with the premeditation to do harm. Instead, accidents are simply the dreaded surprises that life throws our way.

Accept Human Limitation

To err is human. People make mistakes because they are not only imperfect, but are also limited by their experience and fragility. Feelings like fatigue, anger, and anxiety can altogether cloud our judgment and make us more prone to overlook minor (even major) details. As one study has found, fatigue can have similar effects to alcohol consumption. This is why WorkSafeBC recommends employers to create shift schedule that allows for continuous sleep, while encouraging employees to get at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night.

Accept the Challenge with Faith

While it’s impossible to avoid every single accident at your workplace, there are steps you can take to keep the rate of accidents at bay. As OSHA shares, building a safe workplace culture requires everyone’s cooperation. Employees should be required and motivated “to go beyond ‘the call of duty’ to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them.” According to Arbill, managers also need to demonstrate their commitment to a safe culture by putting safety before everything else. Encourage your employees to stick to the instructions, clarify any shortcoming in the instructions, and avoid shortcuts in the name of expediency.            

Be Prepared for the Surprises

Because accidents are going to happen no matter how careful you are, it’s good to also train your employees to respond to accidents properly and promptly. As SmallBusiness.Chron states, every workplace should “develop a detailed action plan on how to handle injured employees.” Train your workers to know the emergency numbers, inform them the nearest medical facility, and make first aid kits accessible at all workstations. Keep your team up to speed with safety training by equipping them with the skills and tools to respond to accidents and emergency. After all, “Safety training is not an option, it is a priority.” Start training your employees now to be prepared for tomorrow.

Tom Reddon

Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.

// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Feb. 26, 2016 0 comments
Two Roads Accounting

Chad Ridner knows the importance of good recordkeeping for small business success. He also knows that a good relationship between a business owner and a bookkeeper or accountant can make the difference between filing paperwork and making wise financial choices for business success.

He started his bookkeeping and accounting service, Two Roads, in 2011 to “Empower business owners with proactive financial information that helps them throughout the year to be even better at what they do,” Ridner says.

Getting advice around tax time is great, but going beyond reactive advising toward proactive planning and advising builds relationships.

That’s where Ridner and a team of four professionals shine, working with various small business clients they proudly refer to as “partners.”

Repetition builds healthy habits

Ridner turned to SCORE for a fresh, holistic perspective of his business.

“We all run our businesses, to an extent, like a horse with blinders — a limited perspective,” Ridner admits. “I knew I needed the input of an objective outsider, someone that cared about me and my business, but wasn’t necessarily on the inside.”

He met with mentor Chuck Christiansen from Greater Knoxville SCORE who was able provide introductions to additional mentors to help with trouble spots. Ridner meets with Christiansen about once each month. “It is the repetitive nature of meeting regularly that really helps. Otherwise, mentors can only get a snapshot of your life and business, and their help can be limited,” Ridner says.

“One of the biggest things Chuck has done was to tell us, ‘No, that is a bad idea,’” Ridner recalls. “We were looking to add some product offerings in the past and were ready to pull the trigger. After meeting with Chuck, he told us that we first needed to be excellent at our core product offerings, and only then, look to add to it. I’m glad we listened to him because it would have really been a detriment to our business if we had moved forward.”

Balancing growth with sustainability

As Two Roads has grown, Ridner has needed to hire additional professionals to keep up with the company’s client base. “Sometimes you’re caught in between ‘the chicken and the egg’ — do I hire before I actually need people, or do I wait and end up playing catch up?” He wonders. “It’s a tricky balance.”

And having the capital to hire doesn’t guarantee a new employee is the perfect fit. Ridner’s been challenged by the task of hiring employees who both have technical experience and the personality to match with Two Roads’ personable, intimate company culture.

“Early on, we hired people with great personalities but less technical expertise, and we got burned,” Ridner says. “We realized that there are certain things that only experience can teach, so we’ve learned to marry great people with great technical ability.”

Two Roads has been recognized as a Top 50 Cloud Accountant of 2015 by Hubdoc, and Ridner accepted the company’s 2015 Firm of the Future Award at Intuit’s annual QuickBooks Connect conference.

Could your business benefit from a checkup? Find a SCORE mentor near you who can help you determine the next steps for your small business. 

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by The UPS Store / Feb. 25, 2016 0 comments
building trust strategy

The definition of a small business can vary. It can be defined by the number of employees, the annual revenue or where the business is based. Even a one-person shop working from home is considered a small business. But in today’s world, customers want to feel confident in the companies they give their business to, so it’s important for small business owners to consider the ways they can legitimize their company.

If you are a home-based business, here are five ways you can legitimize your small business:

  • Establish a location with a street address. When starting a small business, establishing a physical street address is one vital step that can help legitimize a business. Rather than using a P.O. Box or a home address, a business mailbox with a street address helps keep personal information private and adds to the professional image of a business.  A street address also ensures that your business will be found in search results and increases your search engine rankings. Finally, having a street address through a business mailbox is also important for receiving mail and packages in a secure, efficient way.

  • Invest in print materials. In today’s digital world, the importance of printed marketing materials can be overlooked. Don’t underestimate the positive impact a business card or a professional brochure can have on a customer that appreciates a physical reminder of the business. It’s important to consider which print materials make the most sense for your business. By choosing the right print materials to invest in, you’ll be able to promote your business and grow. If you don’t have a creative background or team member, The UPS Store online print site provides templates to build your own materials.

  • Create a digital footprint. Having an online presence through a website and social media is extremely important for any small business because it opens the door to a vast audience of new customers. Online engagement allows communication with new and existing customers across multiple platforms and through multiple formats. Whether it’s a social media post or a blog post on your website, it’s important to have a robust online presence to appear as a legitimate business.

  • Share customer success stories, and ask customers to share. Satisfied customers are also a great marketing tool. Capitalize on the stories of loyal fans who can share their great experience with others to elevate the brand. Social media and your website are great places to share customer stories and encourage potential new customers.  Your loyal customers will also help by sharing their experience organically; word of mouth marketing is one of the best ways to retain and grow customers.

  • Collaborate with the right business partners. Look to others who share different talents or expertise for help. Where are the holes in the business, and who can help? For example, use resources like The UPS Store for back office services, local tax or accountant services to help manage finances or fellow small business owners as mentors for advice. There are also local small business organizations where you can tap fellow business owners for their expertise in certain areas.

Whether you’re a seasoned small business owner or a one-person shop just starting out, there are many ways to legitimize your business for greater success. The UPS Store can be a great resource for small business owners for products and services that your business needs to be successful. 

The UPS Store
SCORE Corporate Patron

The UPS Store comprises the nation’s largest franchise system of retail shipping, postal, printing and business service centers. In addition to packing and shipping services, your locally owned The UPS Store offers professional printing services, mailboxes with a street address, notary, direct mail services, and more.
The UPS Store | @TheUPSStore | Facebook | More from The UPS Store

// by Jaleh Rezaei / Feb. 24, 2016 0 comments
Fruit and vegetable market

When I was growing up, my dad was my hero. Sure, when you’re a kid, everything your parents do is larger than life. But my father was different. As the owner of a few supermarkets, I witnessed first-hand how he grew both his family and his small business.

As I’ve gotten older and further along in my career, the lessons my father taught me in my formative years have become more relevant and critical. Seeing how he runs and grows his business has taught me three important things:

  1. Why it’s important to know your customer
  2. Why you should treat your employees like family
  3. Why you find passion in your work

Whether you’re operating a supermarket or a startup, I think these lessons from my father are universal:

Know Your Customer

My family lives in a very diverse neighborhood. Before my dad opened his first supermarket, he did a lot of research. He learned about stocking and logistics. When the store door first opened, it was already built with love and best practices. But he quickly learned that his customers had different buying habits than some of the other stores he had researched. In order for his store to be successful, he had to adapt to his customer.

A good business owner knows the customer. My dad reached out to his community and learned what they wanted from their neighborhood store. For example, he saw that certain brands of athletic shoes were very popular. For Christmas, instead of just stocking ornaments, my dad stocked Nikes. My dad also knew the post office was far away. So he added stamps to his inventory to prevent his customers from going out of their way.

The best businesses know their customers intimately. My dad’s supermarket was successful because he listened to his customers and adapted. When he opened his second store, he didn’t just copy exactly what he did in the first. He connected with his community to see what they wanted. It’s such an important lesson, even large chains like Whole Foods are going local. Of course, I’m not sure if they can compete with my dad!

Treat Your Employees Like Family

My dad has always treated his employees like family. The joke here is that many of us helped out in the store, so some of his employees were literally family. But the lesson isn’t to hire your nieces and nephews. Rather, one of the most important things my father taught me about team building was building trust.

A supermarket is a cash business. Not only are checkout attendees handling a lot of cash on a daily basis, having a healthy cash flow is important for all the inventory that comes in and out of the store. Over time, my father built a deep level of trust with his employees so that he felt comfortable with them handling cash.

He did this by helping out his employees in times of need. For example, when his employee’s mother got sick, my dad let him borrow his car every day to drive his mother to a clinic that was 30 minutes away. The best part was that my dad didn’t have any expectations when he offered his help. It came from the heart. He cared about the well-being of his employees and their families. In return, his employees treated him like family. 

How does building trust impact your business? For one, it helps your team become more efficient and productive. By trusting his employees to handle cash, my dad didn’t need to hire extra senior managers or create complicated processes and permissions. That is how I like to work with my team. When we have transparent communication, we spend less time optimizing for how things should “look” and more time optimizing for how things should “work.”

Find passion in your work

We’re called Gusto because we believe in a work environment where everyone works with Gusto. This name was inspired by our small business customers. They operate and grow their businesses with passion, with love, with gusto! My dad is the same. His business not only provides his livelihood, it is his livelihood. He loves going to work every day and serving his community. I know for many SCORE members, this also rings true.

At Gusto, we believe that every business has the potential to be the best place to work for their employees. We spend so much of our life at work, so it’s important you value the work and feel valued at work. For my dad, knowing his customers and treating his employees like family is his passion. The job isn’t easy, but it’s the one he picked. That gives him gusto.

Jaleh Rezaei
Head of Marketing
Gusto

Jaleh Rezaei leads marketing at Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll), which reimagines payroll, benefits, HR, and personal finance by automating the most complicated, impersonal business tasks and making them simple and delightful.
Gusto | Twitter | Facebook | More from Jaleh

// by Rieva Lesonsky / Feb. 23, 2016 0 comments
business teamwork hands in pile

Starting a new business is hard—and running a growing business is no picnic, either. That's why it's so important for me to get support, insights and ideas from other businesspeople. As my business partners will attest, I love learning from other entrepreneurs. Not a week goes by when I don't meet with several people for lunch or coffee combined with brainstorming and exchanging advice and ideas.

Whether you’re a natural extrovert or on the shy side, every small business owner needs a support system to keep going. Do you have a strong support system? It can make all the difference in whether you fail or succeed—and, on a less dramatic note, in giving you the energy and inspiration to get through each business day.

Here are some people every small business owner should have in their support system:

Your team of professionals. You may not turn to your accountant, attorney or insurance agent every day, but it's vital to have experts you can rely on helping you make key business decisions.

Businesspeople in your industry. Sure, some of them are your competitors, but you can still learn from each other and even work together to capture clients and customers. Participating in industry events, conferences and workshops, and talking to other entrepreneurs is invaluable in keeping you up to speed on industry trends and ways to overcome business challenges.

Businesspeople in your area. Every business faces local issues, whether it's with the zoning board, changes in local demographics or ups and downs in the local economy. By talking to other businesspeople in your area, either one-on-one or in local networking organizations, you can get ideas for how to get over these hurdles.

Businesspeople in other industries. I get some of my best ideas from connections who are in completely different industries. Brainstorming with someone with a new perspective on your business can spark ideas you would never come up with on your own.

Official advisors. In addition to the professionals who help your business, why not create a board of advisors? Ask professionals, retired business owners or others who may have valuable advice to offer to serve on your advisory board. Meet with them periodically to discuss problems your business is facing or plans you have in mind and get their opinions on how best to proceed.

Friends and family. Friends and family aren't always your best source of business advice—whether because they don't know anything about business or because they think all your ideas are fantastic. But they’re an important source of emotional support that every entrepreneur needs. Let them know they don't have to give you business advice—just a listening ear and shoulder to cry on can be enough. And remember to set aside time to spend with them to recharge your energies.

Mentors. Some entrepreneurs are lucky enough to have a business mentor—someone who's been with them from the get-go and always offers wise advice. But if you don't have one, it's easy to get one. Just visit www.score.org to get matched up with one of SCORE’s expert business mentors and get free consulting 24/7.

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Feb. 19, 2016 0 comments
hiring on website

If you’re thinking about hiring your first employee, you may be feeling so thinly stretched that you want to fill out paperwork and have someone start right away. That’s understandable, since adding staff to your small business can increase your ability to serve your customers. But if you’re not experienced at hiring and managing employees, it’s easy to make mistakes that can make it harder to serve as a consistent, fair boss.

Before you place your first classified ad for an employee, here’s what you’ll want to consider about the employer-employee relationship you’re about to embark on.

Know your responsibilities

What can you afford to pay an employee? What sort of breaks or holidays will you be obligated to provide?

The best time to learn about your obligations to your employees is before you hire your first one. In the recent ComplyRight sponsored webinar, Managing Time & Pay: Seven Lies Employees Will Tell You and the Truths That Can Protect Your Business,” management expert Alison Green notes that employees may come to you expecting time off, additional break time or even overtime pay in a wide variety of situations.

By familiarizing yourself with federal, state and local employment laws, you can be better prepared to develop consistent workplace policies for your employees.

Be prepared for laws to change. Some cities and states have considered raising the minimum wage. In New York State, Los Angeles and Seattle, for example, the law mandates that workers make at least $15 per hour.  It’s best to be prepared for what your market is offering, so you’re prepared for the investment of hiring employees. Green noted that there’s also a huge push right now to provide paid sick leave for employees in several states and cities.

Want to learn more about your expectations as an employer? Take Green’s SCORE webinar -- it’s free.

Know your limitations

Don’t be blinded by big companies that offer gym memberships, breakfast bars and dry cleaning delivery alongside their traditional benefit packages. Not offering these perks doesn’t exclude your business from being a great place to work.

As you consider employment costs, consider the potential costs of providing health insurance, retirement savings plans or other benefits you’d like to offer. This is another time to research what your municipality requires in terms of benefits for hourly or salaried workers.

Even if you can’t provide much in the line of traditional benefits, you may be able to offer learning opportunities or occasional perks for your hard-working employees.

Provide a roadmap

Once you hire someone, you don’t get to toss out the job description and wing it. Use your carefully crafted job description as a guide to create a roadmap for your new employee. Determine benchmarks for employee progress, and explain how reaching those goals over time will help the business succeed.

By reviewing these benchmarks regularly, you can track both employee and business progress. Providing incentives for meeting these goals can be a way to motivate your employee, but don’t feel pressured to provide material rewards each time an employee reports a win.

Want to discuss your hiring needs with someone who’s been there? Ask a SCORE mentor today.

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.