Blogs by William Manchee
Defending the Small Business - Part 19 - Employees, Double Trouble
1/11/2009 6:23:29 PM
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Employees are often a critical part of the small business operation, but managing them is difficult and fraught with peril...
Good employees are critical to the success of any small business. The owner usually canít do everything himself, although some owners try. Itís important to find employees who are capable, dependable, and have a good, positive attitude. But often that is a very long and time-consuming process, which few employers have the time or patience to perform consistently. Consequently, the process is often short-circuited, resulting in substandard employees and performance.
In my own situation, finding good employees has been one of my most difficult tasks. Good legal secretaries and paralegals command high salaries. In my early years of practice, I couldnít afford an experienced paralegal or even a top notch legal secretary. As a result I had to hire inexperienced secretaries and train them. This wasnít a very efficient way to operate, as I was forced to spend my valuable time training employees.
To make matters worse, after I got a secretary or paralegal trained, she often would get lured away by a big firm who could pay her a much larger salary. This is just one of many problems in dealing with employees. Another big one is finding competent employees.
Prospective employees tend to exaggerate their experience and training. Few small business owners have the time or patience to thoroughly test employees to verify their skill level. Nor do they bother to verify resumes. Itís human nature to trust people and to believe what they tell you. Unfortunately, in todayís world, this is a very perilous practice.
The process of screening and selecting employees can be delegated to professionals or employees trained specifically to perform that task. However, this can be very expensive, and there is no guarantee that the employee placed with your company will be any better than someone you personally hand picked.
Once you select and hire an employee, you then face a whole host of other issues such as payroll, health insurance, sick time, vacation pay, workmanís compensation, and retirement. All of these are highly complex issues which few SBOs enjoy dealing with, yet failing to effectively deal with any one of them could be fatal to a small business.
For an SBO many of these issues can be handled by others. A payroll service can be employed to handle payroll, and a good insurance agent will do the paperwork for all your insurance needs. An actuary or brokerage house can handle your pension or 401K needs. Itís important that the SBO is not distracted by these types of problems. Delegate them to other employees and professionals who are trained to handle them. Just be careful in the selection process. Get a referral from someone who has used them in the past and is very satisfied with their performance. Beware of second-hand and "brother-in-law" referrals, in which the person giving the referral has no personal knowledge of the professional's competence.
Next - Getting an attorney
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