One of the best parts of building a company is hiring great people so that your business can benefit from their skills, their ideas and their enthusiasm.
But as Merrin Muxlow has pointed out over at the Resource Nation blog, recruiting new employees involves a host of tricky legal and ethical issues including background checks and employment law compliance.
Maxlow makes useful recommendations about getting an applicant’s consent before running a background check, being careful about accessing an applicant’s social media profiles, knowing all the applicable anti-discrimination laws (Federal, State and local) that apply to hiring procedures, and taking the time to verify necessary licenses, credentials and employment eligibility. Maxlow suggests that E-Verify can prove useful for this last task.
Need more advice before bringing a new hire on board? Guidestar published an article earlier this year that contains lots of good advice on Avoiding Common Hiring Pitfalls. For instance, Guidestar notes that it’s vital to properly define the position you’re trying to fill before seeking candidates. If you’re too ambitious in defining the scope of the position, you may have trouble finding applicants who contain all the skills and competencies you’re requiring. Guidestar advises being realistic in defining the position and making sure that you budget a salary sufficient to attract the caliber of employee you’re seeking.
Like the article in Resource Nation, Guidestar emphasizes the importance of checking references and not rushing the hiring decision. That doesn’t mean that you should dawdle either. Instead, create a timetable and then stick to it. Proceed at a deliberate pace while acting with consideration toward the candidates and trying to envision the process from their perspective.
If all these seems awfully challenging, you might enjoy Will Helmlinger’s look at hiring “Pitfalls and Pratfalls” on Inc.com’s website. Helmlinger has some great advice in this story, including a suggestion that the hiring manager should let candidates do most of the talking during the interview process and to avoid misinterpreting what candidates say.
For instance, Helmlinger offers the hypothetical scenario in which a hiring manager asks if an applicant is willing to work overtime. If the applicant says “Yes,” the hiring manager may assume the applicant is willing to regularly burn the midnight oil. But Helmlinger notes that the hiring manager has no grounds to jump to that conclusion without first asking how often and how long the applicant might expect or be available to work beyond regular hours.
Phew! That’s a lot for an employer to remember. But investing some time and effort up front in finding and vetting the right person for the job will prove invaluable to building a stable, loyal and enthusiastic team of employees all pulling together to help build your business.
How do you handle tricky hiring tasks? Do you perform background checks yourself or outsource the procedures? How do you ensure your company doesn’t run afoul of anti-discrimination hiring rules? Share your thoughts, experiences and suggestions in the Comments below.
December 14, 2009 No Comments
There’s nothing wrong with having nice things like a comfortable late-model car — as long as you can afford them.
Of course, if you can’t afford to purchase expensive products outright, a bank or lender will often lend you the money up front and let you pay it back on an installment plan.
Sounds generous — until you realize just how much extra this arrangement can cost you in interest fees. To find out the dirty details, try punching some numbers into the calculator at Cars.com.
Just for example, let’s say you wanted to buy a $30,000 luxury sedan, but only had $10,000 on hand. According to the Cars.com calculator, financing $20,000 of the purchase at 7.45% interest over 4 years will end up costing you $541 per month.
That sounds manageable, but if you crunch the numbers and multiply the monthly payment by the length of the loan (48 months), you’ll discover that the lender recoups a shade under $26,000.
That’s right – you pay almost $6,000 for the privilege of spreading out the purchase over four years.
Paying all cash up front lets you save loads of dough in the long run. If you don’t have enough cash on hand for such a large purchase, consider buying a more affordable model so that you won’t have to finance as much of the purchase price.
Once you’ve got the car paid off, put off the temptation to trade it in for a newer model. As long as the car is mechanically sound and doesn’t require expensive repairs, you should be able to drive it for many years. As the author of the No Credit Needed blog points out, every month that you don’t make a car payment to the bank, you can pay yourself and make a deposit into a savings account.
Instead of accumulating debt, you’ll be earning interest on those savings, stashing away money for a rainy day so that if you do encounter a major expense, you can handle it without resorting to loans or credit cards. And if you invest the money wisely, you could even supplement your income and create more wealth.
Avoiding loans so that you can pay yourself instead of paying the bank helps you save money in the short run and in the long term.
How do you handle car purchases – cash, loan or lease? Do you have a savings strategy for ‘paying yourself’ every month? How do you resist the temptation to splurge and stick to purchases that you can afford? Share your stories in the Comments section below!
December 11, 2009 No Comments
Winter is going to be harsh this year— that’s what the experts are saying—and you don’t have to look too far to see that the experts might just be right. Just last night, Arizona was slammed by an impressive amount of snow.
If you want to sustain during the coming winter months (and maybe even reduce your heating bills), stock up on DollarDays’ Marc Gold wholesale fleece blankets.
And if you use the coupon code MGFREE at checkout, you will get 12 free blankets if you buy 12 at $3.99. What a deal!
Other Winter Gear
December 8, 2009 No Comments
Dollar Days Blog is pleased to present the small business expertise of Joel Dubinski, Head of SMB Sales at InterCall, a company that offers conference call solutions for businesses including audio conferencing, web conferencing, and video conferencing.
Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Please provide a brief bio and description of your company.
Joel Dubinski - I drive InterCall’s growing Small-Medium Size Business presence while maintaining its emphasis on customer’s needs and quality of service. I oversee a team of Inbound sales representatives responsible for InterCall’s online sales, while also managing multiple teams that are solving the collaboration gaps of InterCall’s small-medium size business. During my time at InterCall, I helped form a strategic partnership with Huddle creating the world’s first unified collaboration, communication and social networking platform.
InterCall is the trusted advisor to the small-to-medium sized business owner. Our company specializes in providing a variety of toll-free audio, web and video conferencing solutions, facilitating thousands of meetings each day. Our investment in the latest technology and bridging systems enable our clients to enjoy the highest level of quality and service from each and every conference call and web conference.
DDB - What is web conferencing and how can small businesses benefit from using it to run more effective, efficient meetings?
Dubinski – Web conferencing is an essential tool for small businesses. It allows them to reach a larger customer base without increasing their overhead costs. Web conferencing can demonstrate to their audience that they are in tune with advancements in technology and are willing to use something new and innovative to increase their productivity. With the use of web conferencing a small business can shorten their business cycle which will lead to an overall stronger output in sales, growth and reach.
DDB – How can web conferencing help SMBs project the image of successful, stable companies?
Dubinski - Many SMBs are start ups in every sense of the word. SMB owners may be working on a shoestring budget or even working from home, all the while trying to do the best they can to generate a perception of an established business so they can compete with larger companies. A professional looking and sounding web conferencing service conveys the perception of professionalism and an established business. Instead of using a sometimes unreliable home phone, landline or mobile phone to conference multiple parties in and possibly incur static or lost connections, a web conferencing service ensures clear, effective and efficient conference calls every time. Calls can be recorded, many parties can dial in and video conferencing can easily be added to enhance meetings.
DDB – What are some of the lessons that InterCall has learned from providing conferencing services to small businesses over the past 15 years?
Dubinski - Personally, I have learned that some business needs do not change. Regardless of how big or small a business is, people will constantly be looking for better ways to communicate and collaborate. InterCall is unique because our mission is to help provide conferencing and collaboration services to all businesses to help them communicate more efficiently and effectively regardless of size. It is also true that although a business may start as what is labeled SMB, it has the potential to grow into a larger enterprise company. InterCall wants to be there every step of the way and help them achieve their success.
DDB - Are there any new/exciting developments coming down the pipeline that SMBs should know about in the web conferencing market?
Dubinski – As web conferencing becomes more and more evolved, the ways to communicate change. The addition of VOIP and audio broadcasting to web conferencing solutions are becoming more popular as are virtual webinars. As web conferencing is becoming more and more commoditized these enhancements will help different providers differentiate themselves.
DDB – How can SMBs choose a web conferencing provider? What should they look for and what questions should they ask?
Dubinski - As SMBs start to choose a web conferencing provider there are a few things they should be looking for.
First, does the company have multiple options for web conferencing solutions? You do not want to be pigeon-holed into one platform if your needs change and evolve.
Secondly, SMBs should be looking to make sure that their web provider has a strong integration with audio conferencing as these services complement each other.
Finally, one should make sure the company is putting money back into its own products/services for enhancements and R&D, like InterCall does.
In regards to functionality SMBs should be asking the following:
- Is it easy to use?
- Is there a low barrier to entry?
- Is it a scalable product?
- Is this for small collaboration groups, large webinars, or both?
- Does it have the “core features” that almost all platforms have (Audio integration, App/desktop sharing, presentation uploads, chat capability, email integration)?
Those are some of the basic inquires I would be asking if I were purchasing a web conferencing solution.
Does your company use a web conferencing or teleconferencing product to communicate with customers, colleagues or vendors? Share your experiences and comments below!
December 7, 2009 No Comments
Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Please summarize your business expertise in a nutshell.
Mark Stevens – My expertise is to identify and address what it takes for a business to grow and to move from one level of profitable revenues to the next.
DDB - Your bio indicates hat you did not attend business school, but that you got your business education on the streets of Queens. What did you learn there that helped you to succeed in business?
Stevens – The streets provide a far more enriching education than Harvard Business School. They teach you to learn from people who may not look “polished” enough to help you. To expect the unexpected. To act when your back is against the wall. To be prepared for random acts of opportunity and challenge.
DDB – Please explain your idea (written in a recent blog post) that less is more when it comes to advertising.
Stevens – Find a single key point about your business or product. For example, Walmart has chosen ‘low price leader’ as its single key point. Then push the accelerator on that. Avoid the temptation to tell everything about your business. The key messages will be lost in fog!
DDB - You’ve achieved considerable success with your book, “Your Marketing Sucks”. What are some of the key takeaways from the book?
Stevens – Throw out the traditional marketing playbook. It was written by professors who have never marketed/sold anything. Most important, measure everything you do in terms of revenue generation and stop all initiatives that don’t produce measurable results. ROI is king!
DDB – Lots of people might think that the title of your new book (God is a Salesman) is pretty cheeky. How could an omnipotent being, Creator of the Universe be a salesman?
Stevens – He is not really, and I address that right up front. But he teaches us the power of belief and faith, which are both critical for every businessperson.
DDB - What is the single most important thing that every small businessperson should do and why?
Stevens – Make the decision to be a big business person. Small business people work for themselves. Big businesspeople build a team to work for them….and to build their wealth.
What do you think of Mark Stevens’ advice? Is less really more when it comes to marketing? Join the discussion and leave your comments below!
November 30, 2009 2 Comments
It’s that time of the year again! DollarDays is offering some huge savings on wholesale products. We feel small businesses should be able to save as well.
Listed below are some great products never before offered at low wholesale prices. Stock up now!
$35 Coby MP3 Player – Coupon Code CMP35
$95 Advent GPS with 4′ inch display – Coupon code CGPS95
Don’t forget, orders over $349 get FREE shipping!
Looking for more ideas?
Fleece Blankets $3.99
Wholesale Toys & Games – Huge Savings
Wholesale Women’s Perfume – Closeout Prices
November 30, 2009 No Comments
How often have you bought a book, started reading, realized it isn’t that good, but stuck with it doggedly anyhow just to ‘get your money’s worth’?
And even if you end up liking a book you buy, how many times do you pull the book down to reread once it’s found a place in your bookshelf?
It may seem like an old-fashioned suggestion, but you could save a good deal of time and money just by checking out the selection at your library.
Since you don’t pay a nickel to borrow a bike from the library, there’s no cost to stopping after 50 pages if you’re just not engaged.
And if you’re the type of person who likes to be surrounded by books at home, well the library could still prove to be a gold mine. Libraries frequently hold used book sales to clear out space for new arrivals. Show up early and you might find a good selection for a small fraction of the cost you’d pay to buy the book online or in a store.
These days, libraries have jumped wholeheartedly into the 21st Century. Many libraries have sophisticated websites that let you browse for books, audiobooks, CDs and movies online, then have your selections delivered to your closest library branch.
Some libraries, like the New York Public Library, are even experimenting with downloadable media – meaning you don’t even have to take a trip to the physical library branch to pick an audiobook or some music. The concept of libraries providing downloadable media may only gain force as e-book readers like the Kindle become more widely available.
Of course, the question of whether or not to use the library will come down to convenience for some people. It’s certainly easier to click a mouse on Amazon or Netflix and have a book or DVD arrive in the mail, but going to the library can be a pleasant experience in itself. While browsing the shelves, you might come across a book or movie you would never have considered. You might run into friends from the community or find out about a lecture or other event that the library is hosting.
If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, stop by or just visit the website to see what’s going on. You might just find the library can fill most of your reading, viewing and listening needs – saving you some substantial cash in the process.
How often do you use your library? Have you borrowed videos, CDs or audiobooks? Have you tried downloading anything online from your library? Has it helped you save money? Share your experiences, rants or raves in the Comments section below!
November 27, 2009 2 Comments
This week, we’re having a huge sale on wholesale hand sanitizer. With the recent outbreak of H1N1, it’s becoming common for businesses, schools and many other public establishments to supply some free hand sanitizer.
Buy 24, Get 24 FREE!
Use code: HAND24
Hand Sanitizer. 8 oz., With Vitamin E & Other Moisturizers, Kills Germs Without Water, Ethyl Alcohol 62%
2 Days Only! Ends 11/25
Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter for daily updates of specials and sales. We’ll be announcing some Thanksgiving specials, Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings.
November 24, 2009 1 Comment
Dollar Days Blog is pleased to share the small business expertise of Adam Ishaeik, CEO of Hunter/Wellman, a company that assists small businesses with acquiring federal contracts.
Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Can you please provide some brief background on yourself and your company?
Adam Ishaeik - I have been involved with federal business development for 6 years. After my I received my MBA degree, I did a short stint with a large federal contractor and worked at the Department of State doing software release management as well as proposal support tasks. I really enjoyed the business development aspects of the job. While developing small business subcontracting plans (which outline how a large business will allocate work to the small business community), I realized there were a lot of small businesses that would benefit from having sales support in the Washington DC area.
I broke off from the large contractor, and started working with small business vendors seeking to do business with the government. As my success as a consultant grew, I knew the best way to grow was to incorporate as a company, bring in as many agency experts as possible and offer a full range of services to assist companies with their federal business development activities.
Thus, Hunter Wellman was born and we are proud to announce FY 09 was our best year to date.
DDB - How big is the opportunity out there to win federal contracts?
Ishaeik – The Federal Government is the biggest customer in the world, with a yearly budget of over 500 billion dollars. I would say the opportunity is huge.
DDB - What kinds of businesses have a chance at winning these contracts? For instance, is federal contracting just for defense industry businesses?
Ishaeik – The government utilizes almost every type of service and product imaginable, from janitorial work to cutting edge information technology design. Every federal agency procures a wide array of services and products from the private sector. To get an idea if your service or product is in demand; simply go to www.fbo.gov and type your service or product into the search field.
DDB - What are some of the techniques and tactics that you recommend small businesses use to compete against much larger competitors in seeking federal contracts?
Ishaeik – The first item is to assess whether the federal government is a desired client. It is a labor intensive activity to break into this market, however, once entry is achieved – the company can rely on steady income as many contracts are up to 5 years in length.
Second, treat the government like you would any other client – with a lot more bureaucracy and red tape. The importance of building relationships with the users of your services and products, offering a unique product or service, providing competitive pricing, and all the other tried and true rules of effective business development all apply. The element that separates government contracting from the private sector is the existence of comprehensive rules and regulations outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the contracting offices that are set up for each agency and sub-agency engaged in private sector procurements to enforce these rules.
Third, identify agencies that procure your offerings and the program managers who represent the end users. It is critical to meet with these program managers to build trust and reduce the risk in their mind of sourcing their requirements to unknown entities. The best way to do this is to bring in a connected sales professional who can navigate you through these waters – competent ones run about 250 K a year. If your sales budget does not accommodate this figure, contract with a company like Hunter Wellman to manage this activity for you – there are a lot of federal business development companies in the beltway, all with differing specialties that can assist your sales efforts.
Lastly, establish a contracting vehicle such as a GSA Schedule, a SBA small business certification that allows sole source procurements (i.e. 8a, HUBZONE, SDVOB), or any other MAS IDIQ (Multiple Award Schedule Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity)
Ishaeik – This is a great way to get started – partnering with a prime contractor. The opportunities are huge, but you have to bring something of value to the table. Relevant past performance is the most valuable thing you can bring. For example, if a large prime contractor is pursuing a contract with the Transportation Security Administration, the big company may seek small businesses that have experience at the agency to provide inside information and strong qualifications to their proposal. Another option is to presenting resumes of individuals at your small business who have experience at the targeted agency and offer their support with proposal development. If your small business pursues this option, make sure you get a legal review of the teaming and subcontractor agreements or you run the risk of putting significant resources into helping the large company win the contract without any guaranteed work.
DDB – Finally, what is the single most important piece of advice you think small business owners and executives need to know?
Ishaeik – Be patient, work smart, think positively and recognize the value that building relationships with government procurers can have for your business development units.
What do you think of Ishaeik’s advice? Have federal contracts been a valuable source of revenue for your small business? If not, does Ishaeik’s advice inspire you to try to capture a federal contract or partner with a larger company on work for the federal government? Share your thoughts and comments below!
November 23, 2009 2 Comments
Children may be priceless to their parents, but the cost of raising them can be calculated.
According to the BabyCenter calculator, a baby born in 2010 to a Midwestern middle-income family will cost more than $230,000 to raise and send to a public college.
So moms, dads and other adult caregivers can surely appreciate any Frugal Living tips that help them whittle away at that hefty bill while simultaneously enjoying a dinner out and freedom from cooking and doing the dishes.
Here is where the Internet comes in handy with sites like Kids Eat For (available via app on iPhone and iPod Touch) and KidsMealDeals.com giving you zip code searchable information on restaurants where children eat for free or get dining discounts.
Kids Eat For advertises itself as the largest and most accurate collection of listings where children eat for free or get special meal deals.
Since meal specials can depend on the day of the week, clicking on any Kids Eat For city brings up a calendar with top meal deals for Sunday, Monday, etc. In Philadelphia, for example, there are 27 listed Sunday meal deals. You can click links at the bottom of the calendar to see all the meal deals for any given day. Check back often because deals may be time-sensitive. For example, a Boston Market kids-eat-free deal was shown as expiring three days after we checked the site.
It looks like Kids Eat For may indeed have more listings than some of its competitors. For example, KidsMealDeals.com did have the Boston Market deal listed on its site for Philadelphia, but it lacked listings for some of the local restaurants featured at Kids Eat For. The difference could be attributed to the fact that KidsMealDeals.com returned results only for Philadelphia proper, whereas Kids Eat For showed deals in the greater Philadelphia region. (You can get around this geographical limitation at KidsMealDeals.com by searching within the radius of a particular zip code.)
Of course, Internet sites are constantly changing. No doubt both these players will seek to improve their offerings and new competitors will enter the market. For example, a different site called Kids Eat Free (searchable only by state) seems to rely more on user-submitted content.
Want some more choices? You can also try searching the listings at My Kids Eat Free or Coupon Divas’ list of places where Kids Eat Free. Another good idea is to look at online forums such as the one at Mommy Savers where site visitors contribute suggestions for places where kids eat for free. (Be sure to check the dates on some of the forum contributions though because certain deals are for a limited time only…)
It’s also important to look at the specific rules for each restaurant since kids’ dining deals may be limited to a specific time or a specific day.
Do you regularly seek out special dining deals for your children? What’s the best free or discounted kids meal deal you’ve ever encountered? Do you know another website or app that has good information on discounted/free meal deals for children? Share your tips in the Comments section below!
November 20, 2009 No Comments