The beginning is the most important part of the work — Plato
We’re knee deep in to January and you probably resolved to kick some bad habits and to adopt some new, good habits.
Here are some good habits you may want to pick up for your business:
We’re not talking about vinyl. If you didn’t keep good records in the past, make this the time to do it. The IRS Publication 583 is a fine starting point, and your accounting department — whether it be a staff of 1 or 100 — should have one handy.
If you have issues with the existing record-keeping system, this is the time to address/update/overhaul it.
Good records are records that are kept in the ordinary course of business. Kept contemporaneously with what you do. Look into modernizing and automating your processes to keep those records.
As an example of a good reason for keeping your records in the ordinary course of business, and contemporaneously with the business,let me describe the case of one our client, Mr. Real Estate Professional.
Mr. Real Estate Professional was a small, start-up real estate person, and claimed so on his tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service disagreed. We took the case to Tax Court for trial. The Tax Court judge was sympathetic. The Tax Court judge wanted to agree with Mr. Real Estate Professional.
Judgment for the Service. Why? Mr. Real Estate Professional did not have good records of his activities kept in the ordinary course of business and kept contemporaneously.
Ready HR for the Comings and Goings
They should always be attentive, but there’s a lot for your hiring and human resources manager(s) to anticipate at this time of year. For starters, if you issued year-end bonuses, expect some two-week notices in January. Some employees kept quiet about intentions to move on until after that holiday stipend cleared.
Now you’re two or three weeks in to the year and need to hire a replacement. Make finding candidates a priority. Don’t rush it, but don’t procrastinate. Start with internal candidates and then referrals. If the sparks aren’t there, then post it publicly. Studies indicate that the fourth candidate statistically gets the job. I personally believe the first two options are best — they foster loyalty to the company and among the staff.
As a small business owner/operator you should be involved in the interview process. Give everyone a fair shot, no matter what your methods, but go with your gut about the right candidate. However, don’t hire to have bodies. It never ends well.
The Strategic Plan for the Year: Revisit and Reveal
Once you have your committed full-timers on board, either reveal or remind them of the strategic plan for the year and how that positions the company for the next three. The plan should have some built-in flexibility and at the big unveiling some feedback could make it even better.
“Make work more fun” is not something I’d encourage incorporating.
Reschedule Your Weekly Meetings
Mondays at 9 a.m.? Really? Your employees are fully aware of their jobs and processes. Let them finish up whatever was left over from last week so that they’re not off to a great stop.
I’m not advocating for the employees, mind you, I’m advocating for the work to get done.
The productivity lull often hits at around 3 p.m., or roughly an hour after lunch ends. Over the course of a traditional Monday-to-Friday work week, productivity may be at its peak in the middle of the working week, say on a Tuesday or Wednesday, according to a British study. Many of the items on the to-do list have been checked off. This is a good time to convene for that weekly Monday or Tuesday meeting.
Keep It Short and Lively
Try to get as many people in a room and away from their desks as possible. It’ll feel like a break from their respective screens and smartphones and force some interactivity. The routine should not be for them to “space out” after lunch, but to get back to work. You’re all on the clock, so this is work.
Make them talk to you. You should lead a productive conversation, not be yessed to death. This is how you can maintain some energy — provided the meetings are short enough to hold the collective attention span.
Own the new year. Keeping this enthusiasm can be a challenge and we’ll eventually explore these and other best practices further.
Feel free to contact us to discuss your small business needs.