Employees Verses Contractors

 

Employees Verses Contractors
7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

Not long ago I conducted a survey asking business owners and entrepreneurs, “What is your biggest planning challenge?”  To my surprise one of the answers I received was… “How do I manage contract workers?”  My immediate response was… “Why should it be any different?” When you hire a contract worker, they are working for you… their product or project is yours…. You have the right to dictate the specifics of the job, the measurements, and how you want things done.

 

In today’s internet world there are virtual assistants, online business managers, virtual staff, work for hour contractors, and many more.  For the most part you can hire any task you might want accomplished in your business virtually.  They might be long term employees or contractors, or maybe someone you hire for one specific task such as a graphic design or copywriting task.

 

First, there is the rudimentary difference between an employee and an independent contractor.  I suggest you look up the federal guidelines [I am not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV.]  A super resource is Jessica Eaves Mathews and her Leverage a Lawyer program.

 

There are several keys to managing employees and contract workers.  There really is no difference to managing employees and contractors.  Set yourself and your support staff up for success from the start.

 

7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

1.       Make sure you clearly know your specific requirements for the job or the project.

a.       Job descriptions should be clear, detailed and written including S.M.A.R.T. principles.

b.      Contracts should also be clearly written with all requirements of the job or project including timelines for deliverables and standards of performance.

c.       Communicate verbally and in writing your desired outcome.
 

2.       Include language in your job descriptions and contracts that includes an “out” for you if you are not satisfied with employee’s or contractor’s performance.  Sometimes you might want to include a probationary period so that you don’t get stuck with non-performance issues for contractors and employees.

 

 

3.       Always design a follow up or measurement aspect.  There are several ways to do this:

a.       Daily reports

b.      Staff meetings

c.       Status reports

 

4.       Hire slowly…. Fire fast.  This is great advice from one of my mentors Dan Kennedy.  Before you hire and simply throw a “body” at a project… Think!  Determine the requirements, the time line, the skills requires and everything you can think of before you hire.  Interview… Interview… interview!  On the other hand, once you do hire an employee or contractor, make sure your standards are clear and concise.  You will know quickly if someone isn’t working out. Don’t drag on with someone who isn’t working out.  NEXT! And QUICKLY!

 

5.       Set everyone who supports you and your business up for success from the beginning.  For example, be specific in the task requirement, the measurement tool or time line, final expectations, and encourage feedback.  Ambiguous instructions or tasks won’t work.  Assumptions will fail.

 

6.       Communicate!  Constant communication creates community and team.  Business owners, who communicate regularly, reward employees and contractors when good things happen and vice versa, will get better results and ward off more challenges.  Use staff meetings and measuring tools as a communication media. 

 

7.       Delegate…. Don’t abdicate!  Delegation is a wonderful thing!  Beware however, just because a task or entire job is delegated does not mean that your responsibility is relinquished.  You’ll definitely run into challenges.  For example, one business owner told her VA to do her marketing for a specific event.  The VA was not a marketer… what do you think happened?  Failure.  The business owner blamed the VA for the failure but soon realized that she was really the one who should have been the marketer and the VA the one who supported the marketing.

 

You might be wondering, OK, that’s good advice but HOW do I do this?

 

The illustration below generally depicts the flow down from your Strategic Plan to your job descriptions. 

  

Businesses which have developed systems and have an operations manual will definitely have an advantage.  Why?  Because the business owner has thought out and documented “how they do things and to what standard”.  Job descriptions that are written based upon the strategic business and marketing plan, and operations manual, logically fit together hand in glove.  As you develop your strategy and implementation plan the skills required by individuals to get things done will most likely become obvious.

 

If you need a little assistance developing your S.M.A.R.T. management tools and job descriptions a S.M.A.R.T. Start Partner may help.  Visit here for details.


Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com. Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching. 

 

 

Money On The Table

YOU Are Leaving Money On The Table

When You Don’t Test…. Period!

 

Let’s face it, no plan is perfect! Sometimes events fail…. Sometimes your results aren’t what you expected…. So what do you do now?

 

First relax! It’s time for evaluation and adjustment. (Hint: You should PLAN for testing in your overall action steps.)

 

There are many reasons an event might not bring your desired results.  The key thing is to evaluate each step or element separately. One thing at a time.  Why?  Because one small tweak in a website or copy could turn the results around. 

 

A big mistake many marketers do is change everything all at once.  They change their offer, copy and marketing strategy all at the same time.  The truth of the matter is that you must TEST one element at a time so you can pinpoint the out of whack piece.  Otherwise you will never really know what was broken. 

 

One way to do this is by A/B split testing.  For example, you might want to see which headline on your squeeze page is more compelling and gives you better opt in rate.  Create 2 web pages each with a different headline.  Using a system like Infusionsoft, Google Website Optimizer or 1 Shopping Cart (Ad Tracker), set up the web pages so that they alternate for your viewers. Analyze your results over a few days and see which headline actually draws better responses. The next step is to test your offer or copy around your offering using the same method.

 

YOU are leaving money on the table when you don’t test…. Period!

 

      1. Use split testing to better understand your visitor behaviors and how they use your site.
      2. Use split testing as a diagnostic tool to find out what is going wrong and how to fix it
      3. Use split testing to dramatically challenge the assumptions you may have about the best way to design or write a page.

 

You can actually split test anything including: Page Copy • Forms • Images • Colors • Head Lines • Pricing • Offers • Font • Layout • Registration pages • Advertisements

 

Here is a basic visual of what a website split test might look like.

 

 

It’s obvious by this illustration that element B wins out.

 

Don’t limit your split testing to just websites.  It can also be used very effectively with direct mail as well.  The same principles apply…. One element at a time.  In the case of direct mail, you might have 2 different headlines and you mail both mail pieces at the same time.  Measure the results of registrations, revenue, or responses from each different mail piece and you’ll know which one works the best.

 

Split testing is S.M.A.R.T. The M. stands for measurable.  Keep your business S.M.A.R.T. by testing and measuring. Don’t leave your money on the table.

 


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Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com

 

Solving A Great Debate

Solving a Great Debate
Goals Verses Objectives

 

Many people have asked me the difference between Goals and Objectives.  Both have some of the same elements especially if your goals are S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Both terms define an effort to reach a desired outcome or the target that your efforts is desired to accomplish. Goals are more generic in nature toward the achievement or accomplishment of specified actions.

An objective has a similar definition but is a clear and measurable target. Objectives are specific targets or action steps within the general goal. Objectives are time-related to achieve a certain goal.

When your goals are S.M.A.R.T., it’s easy to create specific objectives toward reaching you’re ultimate goal.  You might think of your objectives as the action steps… with a specific time frame or deadline. The collection or identification of your objectives within a specific goal provides a roadmap of actions.  Some strategic planners would call these steps your milestones; however these are essentially the same.

Below is an example of what goals verses objectives might look like.

 

Goals Verses Objectives Example

 

 

Although this is a fictitious example, you can get the idea. By assigning dates to your goal and supporting objectives it’s easy to enter the dates on your calendar or in your planner and set your plan in motion.

To stay organized in the process of creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Objectives for your business or even personal reasons, you may want to create a template.  There are many templates out there you could use; however, I recommend using “A Simple Guide To S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting”.  On page 3 of the “State Your Goals Worksheet” you will find a template that helps you turn your Goal into Action Steps or Objectives. 

This simple guide is everything you need to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals for your business, family or personal life.  When you finish and complete the simple worksheets in this system, you will have written S.M.A.R.T. Goals; and you will have turned each of your goals into action steps or Objectives for easy implementation. Also, as part of the overall thought processes any obstacles to accomplishing those goals will be identified as well as the solutions. 

For more information about S.M.A.R.T. go to http://gailsaseen.com.

Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com

 

Who’s Pointing Fingers At Whom

 

S.M.A.R.T. Accountability
5 Tips On Developing Team Accountability

 

Some favorite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job. . . No one told me. . . It couldn’t be helped.” Break the cycle of finger pointing and get down to business.

 

What is accountability?  Accountability is simply the ability to accept responsibility or be answerable for the results (good or bad) of a task or project.  Accountability cannot exist without proper preparation, leadership involvement and measurement tools. What that means is that business owners must develop some leadership skills so that they can clearly communicate tasks and projects at hand, assign responsibilities and measure the results.  If you think about it, the absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

 

 

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey

 

Being accountable means being willing and able to accept full responsibility of the consequences as a result of certain activities or events in your business. First it starts with your own accountability.  As the leader in your business, of course you are responsible for everything…good and not so good, however, remember if you talk the talk and walk the walk your team will line up behind you easily.  Next it’s with achieving individual staff or team accountability. With each member of the team being accountable for their actions, team accountability can be easily achieved – each and every member of the team becomes accountable of the actions of the whole team. Achieving team accountability eliminates the concept of finger pointing or the blame game which only creates discontent and is counterproductive in achieving your business goals and objectives

 

When you create a culture of accountability within your business, it ultimately encourages better performance.   Creating a culture of accountability is not always easy since most people think that the concept of having to accept responsibility is often negative. It’s important to also consider the positive aspects of accountability. 

 

Reward positive actions and results.  Highlight positive actions.  Team members will react and perform better by holding them accountable in a positive way and that creates a culture for business success.   When that occurs, it’s natural for people to strive for positive recognition and it will become your powerful secret weapon towards obtaining your business goals and objectives.

 

5 Tips To Build Team Accountability

 

 1.       Clearly establish and publish performance goals and behavior standards for the team. Collectively and publicly state exactly what needs to be achieved, which needs to deliver what, and how everyone must act in order to succeed.  This is exactly what clearly written job descriptions and Operations Manuals are for.  Be specific!

 

 2.       Develop simple tools to measure and monitor systems to track progress at regularly scheduled staff meetings.  Always measure and follow up. This is a task that can be accomplished with your team leaders or business manager.

 

3.       Be ruthless if need be and prepared to resolve team performance issues “head on” if necessary.  As one of my mentors says, “Hire slow and fire fast.” [Dan Kennedy]  Performance that is not acceptable must be dealt fast and consistently throughout your entire organization. 

 

4.       Publicly declare results. Teams that are willing to commit publicly to specific results are more likely to work with a passionate desire to achieve those results.  Praise them individually and as a team for great work done.  You will get more fro praise and “at-a-boys (girls)” than by ruling by fear.  Fear breeds resentment and is counter productive to the success of your business and your reputation.

 

5.       Establish results-based rewards. A very effective way to ensure that team members focus their attention on the tasks at hand is to tie their rewards, especially compensation, to the achievement of specific team outcomes, versus individual outcomes.  There are many creative ways you can do that such as: time off, bonuses based on results, lunches, dinners, or gift cards.

 

These are just a few pointers on building a great responsive team and accountability.  The bottom line is that you must “set the bar”, set the standards, communicate performance standards, follow up and hold people responsible for their actions.  Reward successes always!

 

Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com

 

The Chicken or The Egg?

The Chicken or The Egg? 
Keeping Your Business Focused On YOUR “WHY”

 

Chicken or the EggWhich came first…? The Chicken or the egg?  A humorous debate, but what in the world does this have to do with entrepreneurialism and your business?

 

The chicken is full grown, running around clucking and scraping for food.  The egg however, is the beginning of growth.  It needs nurturing, warmth, and a soft place to crack and break open to become a chick.  Business is similar especially for entrepreneurs.

 

Most entrepreneurs start quickly and jump in with both feet.  Looking for the next opportunity.  They have so many ideas that many have a tendency to run around “like a chicken with their head cut off”… please excuse the expression.  Entrepreneurs move quickly.  Then all of a sudden they find themselves over their head when it comes to structure in the businesses.  Typically this occurs because the business of their business is not in their “unique ability”.

 

If you can relate to this, it’s time to slow down just a bit and become the “egg”.  Formalize the direction of your business by creating your Mission, Vision and Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  Really think about it.  After all there is a reason you are doing what you are doing, right? Your reason is your “why”. 

 

Here are three tips to help you determine your “why” and bring focus and clarity to your business.

 

3 S.M.A.R.T. Tips to Add Clarity to Your Business

 

1.      What is the mission or purpose of your business? Why are you doing what you’re doing?  What difference will it make in the world?  How will your business change lives?  Are you committed? Do you know your life purpose and is your mission aligned with your life purpose?

 

Write a clear mission statement about what you do and why you do it.  Make your statement specific and quantifiable.  Print the mission statement and post it on the walls in your office, on goal cards, and communicate your mission statement with your staff or team so that everyone knows the mission of your business.  Everyone must understand your purpose and mission so that everyone is working on the same page.  A team united and “pulling in the same direction” with understanding is very powerful.  Your mission statement should answer the following questions:

 

          • What you do?
          • How do you do it?
          • Who do you do it for?

 

Here is a great example from Zappos:     Zappos is an online shoe store that sells all kinds of men and women’s shoes, from dress shoes to casual shoes, to athletic shoes, and the like. They also sell other items such as accessories, bags, etc.

 

Mission Statement
Our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the Zappos brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes.

 

 2.      What is your vision for your business?  Your vision creates the climate upon which your staff or team will operate to accomplish your mission.  Your mission and vision must be in alignment.  In other words your vision supports your mission.  How do you “see” your mission being accomplished?  How will you feel?  How will your customer and clients feel?  How will your staff or team feel? 

 

When creating your vision, think big and stretch yourself, and be realistic.  Your vision should clearly state what you ultimately envision for your business in terms of growth, values, what kinds of customers and contribution to the world.

 

Here is a simple formula for writing your own vision statements.

 

When or how Long, [your company name] will have [what] _______________ by ___________.

 

 Example:     Five years from now, Computer Services Ltd. will have annual revenues of over one million by consistently providing timely, reasonably priced repair and instructional services.

 

 3.      Unique Selling Proposition is a summary of what makes your business unique and valuable to your customer and clients. Your USP should be in line with your mission and vision as well.  It answers the question: How do your business products and services benefit your clients better than anyone else can?

 

Here are a few examples:

  • Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”

 

In conclusion, ask yourself the question:  Are you in chicken mode?  Slow down and incubate the mission, vision and USP for your business.  Clarity is so important to moving forward and being highly successful.  S.M.A.R.T. Support can help you put it all together.