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5 Low Cost Ways to Motivate Employees


Let’s face it. Motivating employees that are making pretty good salary is hard enough. Now try to do it for those who are making minimum wage in a small business and you understand the magnitude of the problem.
However, all is not lost in this battle. There are ways to motivate the employees who are working part-time, on a minimum wage as long as you know what makes them click.
Below we highlight the 5 best ideas we have collected from our own experience and those of our colleagues and business partners.
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Effective Techniques to Reduce Employee Turnover

Employee Turnover
If you own a small business and are not seeing employee turnover of greater than 30% per year you are doing something right and need to advise all the other small businesses. As we all know; for small businesses the employee turnover is a fact of life. One of our clients tells us – “I am not in the restaurant business. I am running a training business because of the constant need to train stream of new employees that I have to hire because of turnover”.
In order to find ways to reduce the turnover it is important first to understand the causes behind it. Some of the causes listed below are obvious and are common across majority of small businesses.
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5 Proven Ways to Reduce Credit Card Processing Fees


Most small businesses are overpaying for credit card processing. After the Mafia was eliminated from Italy this has become the next legitimate way of extorting money from businesses. Visa and Master Card are making billions of dollars in profit every year just for acting as a middle man to process the credit cards.
Is there anything businesses can do to lower this cost rather than just give this “extortion” money to credit card processing companies? Although there is no way you can eliminate this cost; there are few steps you can take to bring it down. Here are 5 steps you can explore:
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Are you Giving your Heart or just Hands to your Business?


If your heart is not in your business (or anything you are doing for that matter); you might as well not own the business. Your business is just going to drag along at best and in worst case it will fail causing you financial and emotional pain.
We say this from our experience at a concert we attended this past weekend.
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How to Overcome Challenges of Starting a Business in Bad Times


In our previous blog post Is this a Good Time to Buy a Business we argued that the difficult economic times present an excellent opportunity to start a business. There are a number of advantages and opportunities that bad economy; like current one; provides. The advantages include less competition, good talent available at reasonable salary and others.
While it is true that this is a good time to start a new business you cannot ignore the challenges that you will be facing in starting business in bad economic time. By understanding the challenges and preparing yourself to meet them head-on you will improve your success rate. Here are three most difficult challenges in our mind along with suggestions on how to overcome them.
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What can you learn from Zappos.com’s $1.6 Million Mistake


If you are not standing by your core values at the time of crisis and instead take a myopic view of the situation you will miss out on building a long-term, thriving business. Just look at what Zappos, the popular shoe site, went through on May 23, 2010. It lost $1.6 Million dollars within matter of hours. But it’s what it did afterward that is the real story.
For those who don’t know Zappos; it is an online web site that sells shoes. In the process it has built a Billion dollar business!! It has done this by focusing on core tenets of providing exceptional customer service at any cost. Amazon.com just bought the company last month for $928 million.
So what happened?
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How to Succeed at Multi-unit Operations


Despite its lure of higher sales and profit the multi-unit operation is hard work and can be prone to failure. If you are not careful you may end up losing it all. In our previous blog we laid out the pros and cons of multi-unit operations. Here we will outline some of the steps you can take to make multi-unit operation succeed. I will say it again – operating multi-unit business is challenging. At the same time if you take care of the pitfalls that come with it you can not only succeed; but thrive.

The basic philosophy you have to adopt when moving from single unit to multi-unit operation is to take advantage of your scale; while at the same time standardize and apply the proven formula at multiple locations. These are the principles behind the concept of franchise; which is essentially multi-unit operation on steroids. If you want to learn how to succeed at multi-unit business; study how any franchise you operates.

Let’s look at the steps you need to take in more detail:

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Pros and Cons of Multi-unit Operations


Many of the business owners who expand from a single unit to multi-unit operations fail and even end in a worse situation than before. It’s human nature to think of a simple math – if you are making $100K from one unit; you should be able to make $200K from two, right? They may go even further thinking that the outcome should be more than $200K when you include all the synergy you can derive from multiple units.
Even though there is some truth in this argument the reality is operating a multi-unit business is hard work. You need to think long and hard before expanding and consider the pros and cons of multi-unit operations before making a decision. Below I have tried to highlight some of the key points to consider in terms of the benefits and pitfalls.
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Does Your Business have Social Media Strategy?


If you don’t have a strategy to deal with Internet and social media you might be in a danger of losing lot of business. Just look at this article in Detroit Free Press past Saturday. To summarize the article – a student from Western Michigan University claims his car was illegally towed from his apartment complex by the tow truck company. He created a Facebook page to fight with the towing company and attracted 11,000 “fans” on the page; who joined him in the revolt saying they too had similar complaints against this company. The result was that that towing company lost half of its commercial accounts.
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Do NOT Hire a Close Friend to Work in Your Business


Here is an advice for all small business owners – DO NOT HIRE FRIEND OR RELATIVE TO WORK IN YOUR BUSINESS, if at all possible. I know it sounds harsh and may be even counter-intuitive. After all, in small business you need someone who you can trust with your money and who else would be better suited than a close friend or a relative who you know very well and can trust.

I am not arguing with the benefits of having a trusted friend or relative in the business who can watch for your good. However, you have to weigh this against the downsides that come with it. From what we have seen and experienced the downsides exceed the benefits; which calls for avoiding the situation, if possible.

So what are the problems and issues that come along with the hiring of a close friend or a relative in your business? Wall Street has good examples of the problems here. Here is my list based on my experience and that of some of our business colleagues:
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