Because Small Business is Big Business

Posts by Michael D Mitilier

Know Competitors? Google Does

Know Competitors

There are many different ways of getting to know competitors, but the best way is – without comparison – via the omnipresent Google. The internet has revolutionized many aspects of having a business, and the way that you as an entrepreneur can gather information about competitors.

Formerly, it took greater effort to identify the other players in your field, or simply to get a sales brochure from a competitor. Today, this information is available to us the minute we look for it. With Google Alerts, for example, we do not even have to look for the information, but will receive an email when there is news about a product or a competitor. However, the internet is not the only place for us to get more knowledge about the market.

Other places include magazines and professional papers where the advertisements themselves hold a lot of information. You can often collect information from associations, and get the opportunity to meet and talk to your competitors. The same applies if your branch holds a congress or an annual conference. Finally, it is also possible to get information about the market from your own clients. To get an insight into the prices in the market, you might ask your clients what they usually pay for orders such as yours

 

And Other Duties as Assigned

Job descriptions are on equal turf with performance evaluations as tools that are operating below their potential. Most organizations take a “one and done” approach to job descriptions and only dust them off when the position is posted on a job board. We figure that as long as we include the notorious “and other duties as assigned” disclaimer at the end of job descriptions we really don’t have to take them seriously. But when done right, the job (or position) description can be a key piece of the performance puzzle.

I’ve written a lot of job descriptions throughout my career. I’ve found that it’s both an art and a science – using best practices from a career field or industry is a good place to start, but putting the unique organizational spin on a description ensures I’m hiring people that fit with my company.

Using competency modeling helps create a job description that not only reflects the technical requirements of the role, but captures the cultural nuances necessary for success in my particular setting.

Korn/Ferry, a leader in the field of workplace competencies, defines competencies as the skills, behaviors, and attitudes that lead to high performance. (Lombardo, 2009) Defining what makes a person competent in a specific role has impact on both an organizational and individual performance level.

Trying to find a well-rounded person with a cross-section of competencies may not be best for your success. Hiring an accountant who can also sell may sound like a great “two for one” deal, but you might end up with a mediocre accountant or a frustrated salesperson.

Defining competencies for a specific job takes some skill, but there are resources available to help you identify what competencies will lead to the best performance from the individuals in your organization.

Follow these steps to identify the job competencies for each position in your organization:

  1. Make several copies of the table of competencies here. Get 2-4 colleagues together (including anyone already doing the job) and have each person circle the top 10 competencies they believe are necessary to be successful in that job.
  2. Identify the ones you agree on, then narrow the list down to 5-6 by discussing any of those that you differ on. Get to the most critical competencies. 
Use the definitions from the web site, and discuss what the term means to you and your organization. It’s important that everyone has the same understanding of the term.
  3. If you have a job description already, review it to see if what you circled matches with what the job description reflects. If they 
do not match, what is different? Make any adjustments based on your review.
  4. Use the list of competencies to clarify the job description and job posting templates.

Additional Helps

Note: As you consider which of the competencies are required for a particular position in your organization, think about how you define the item. For instance, “negotiating” may mean something very specific to you, but something very different to your colleagues. Come to agreement on how you define each competency. You may also identify competencies not listed on the web site table. This list is just to get you started.

A Google search of particular competencies will likely lead to some definitions that already exist. You may also want to check out the Lominger (Korn/Ferry) book, FYI: For Your Improvement, which provides greater detail on competencies and how to use them. Their competency card decks are pricy, but an excellent tool if you’ve got several positions to evaluate.

Once the job description is complete, it’s important to use it as both as a mirror and a  compass. As a mirror, each incumbent in the role should reflect the image of what the position exists for. Not that every individual should look identical, but each should have the core knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies required for the role. As a compass, the job description identifies performance management and training focus to ensure continued alignment and skill development.

 

Regular review of job descriptions should be built in to the audit cycle of the organization. Annual position description audits might be too much for some company’s, but every couple of years makes sense. Any time there is a change in organizational design, or whenever new technology is introduced that has a significant impact on the role, the position should be evaluated and the description updated.

 

Maybe we don’t hate job descriptions as much as we do performance reviews, but we need to stop blaming the tool for failure. Operations and human resources leaders need to figure out how to build the right tools for their organization, and work together to get them to function for the organization and its human capital, not against. Maybe then people won’t be so cynical when they read “and other duties as assigned!”

 

 

Take a Break

When you are busy trying to meet deadlines, it is easy to just keep plugging along hour after hour.  You might be one of those dedicated individuals who doesn’t take breaks – not even lunch or grabs a quick bite at your desk while you continue to try to work.  However, more and more studies are showing that productivity actually decreases with continued unbroken effort and increases with breaks.  They don’t need to be half hour coffee breaks.  In fact, some articles are suggesting that taking a 17 minute break every hour is the most effective while other articles claim a 15 second break every 10 minutes is more beneficial.  OnlineBusinessDegree.org has a clever infographic which states that a 15 second break every 10 minutes can reduce fatigue by 50% while taking a 5 minute break every hour can help reduce the pain in wrists and hands.  They go on to suggest a 2 minute break really isn’t long enough but at least you can stand and stretch and give your eyes a rest by looking at something that is 20 feet away instead of your computer screen.

Whichever method fits best with your work schedule, the idea is to give your brain and eyes a rest from the intensity of the current project.  Adding a positive emotional moment can enhance the effect even more.  That might be as simple as complimenting a co-worker or even looking at a favorite vacation picture.  So give yourself a break – in fact, give yourself several breaks today.

 

 

Small Business Events

Small Business EventsIn a world saturated with innumerable modes of instant but occasionally impersonal online communication, small business events, today something of a throwback, can be a unique way to connect with potential customers. If they’re done right, small business events are a classic way for businesses to engage their customers as well as bring in potential customers. The personal interaction with a targeted demographic can build loyalty or generate new interest, adding to a customer base and building business.

Do you have a venue that can hold 20 to 150+ people? Then let us help you get some great exposure for your business by hosting Small Business Events

Here is how it works: You would host a Small Business Events on online marketing, led by  one of our experts.  In return, you’d get

  • Promotion to over 7500 of our contacts
  • Your logo and website on the event page and all marketing materials
  • Time to give a short talk about your business, and distribute brochures or literature
  • Event loaded on Local and National Calendars
  • Free seminar invitations for your customers
  • Door prizes for your event guest
  • A front-row seat to learning that can help you build your own business

Sound good? Then fill out our quick Event Form. We’ll be in touch with more details

 

Email Marketing

emailtoaster_animated_200x110We recently partnered with Constant Contact, providing you with access to the marketing tools you need to grow your business, like Email Marketing. Today, more than 500,000 small businesses use Email Marketing from Constant Contact to acquire new customers and engage with existing ones.

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With a rich set of professionally designed email templates to choose from and one-click editing, it’s easy to create great looking emails quickly and see results fast. Email Marketing from Constant Contact helps you expand your potential audience as your customers can easily share your message on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

It’s also affordably priced for small businesses and with free personalized coaching and support, you’ll always have the help you need when you need it. Email Marketing remains the best way to promote your franchise. It returns approximately $40 for every dollar invested. Find out how well it will work for you –take the free 60-day trial now.