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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Avoiding Hiring Headaches

While it is true that we all make mistakes, some have the ability to become costly and difficult to correct.  For business owners, hiring the wrong person is top among the mistakes that are to be carefully avoided.  The consequences of hiring the wrong person for the position can be long-lasting, so follow some simple guidelines when hiring your next team member.

  • Don’t Rush the Hiring Process – While many times there may be an urgency in filling a vacant position don’t forget about thoroughly vetting an applicant.  Finding out about past employment, qualifications and personality fit can take a few weeks.
  • Not Checking or Asking for Enough References – While many managers will give a good review, also ask for peer references to be sure the fit is appropriate.
  • Not Hiring an Expert – Many employees in certain fields such as technology are generalists who know a little about a lot of areas.  Try to avoid someone who is a “Jack-of-all-trades”  and find someone who is more specialized for what you need.
  • Not Clearly Defining the Job Position – While a vague job description may seem like a good idea to get a wide applicant pool, it may come back to haunt you later when an employee claims they do not have a needed skill.
  • Don’t Rely on Job Posting Alone – Some of the best candidates are the ones who are not “looking” but rather are the ones who their peers point of during networking or conferences as an expert who would be a perfect fit for the company.

Improving your Social Media Strategy

Your business is on several social media platforms, posting regularly, and trying to engage viewers.  But you feel your social media campaign could use some help, possibly to increase following, fans or even trying something different to get better results.  Here are a few suggestions of how to shake things up a bit and boost your engagement on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platforms.

  • Video or Audio – Perhaps you have a “how-to” video or informational video that you think may help readers relate to you and your company better.  They are easy to make- even with an iphone and fairly easy to download onto your social media site.  Videos and audios are yet another way for viewers to engage with your services, products and employees.  Take the leap and try it to see what kind of results you may get!
  • Use Games and Quizzes – Social media is meant to be fun and interesting so make unique games and quizzes related to your field.  You may find that viewers stop and think about your question thus thinking about your brand!  Using trivia games to bring in more likes, follows, and traffic is a great way to build up engagement and bring in more customers. It can also be a lot of fun!
  • Ask Viewers to Share – Ask your consumers to add to your posts by giving a testimonial or comment about the product or service.  Be sure to be on top of these in case criticisms are posted.  Those should be handled professionally and in a way that is true to your brand.
  • Use Custom Photos – Consumers are savvy enough to know when stock photos are being used.  Custom photos can show off the people in your business and the physical office.

Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law – Are you compliant?

As of July 1, 2015 the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, § 148C, took effect.  Depending upon size of the business, most Massachusetts employers are subject to this new law.  MA Sick Time Law may be broadly applied but it does not impact every employer the same.  Let’s look further at this new law and guide you to some resources that will aide your Human Resources Department as well as companies who operate without one.

In brief the MA Earned Sick Time Law allows that all employees who work predominantly in Massachusetts are eligible to earn sick time. It, however, does not impose the same requirements on all employers. Employers that maintained an average of 11 or more employees on its payroll during the preceding benefit year must offer paid sick leave. Employers that maintained an average of less than 11 employees need only provide unpaid sick leave. Employers determine their average number of employees by dividing the total number of full-time, part-time, and temporary employees on their payroll during each pay period by the number of pay periods.

More specifically, for employees and businesses that fit this description, eligible employees must accrue sick time at a minimum rate of 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked,(3) up to a cap of 40 hours per benefit year.(4) Salaried employees must accrue sick time based on their “normal work week,” which is assumed to be 40 hours per week unless their job specifies a lower number.

To find further resources on this law as well as complete summaries, complete regulations and frequently asked questions see the following links:

Mass Gov:  Earned Sick Time

AIM Webinar on Earned Sick Time Massachusetts

In House Advisor
TriNet:  How Earned Sick Time will Impact your Business

Key Steps to Starting your Own Business

So you have decided to take the leap take the idea that has been milling in your head for months or possibly years and put it into action by starting your own business?  This is thrilling and at the same time frightening.  Where do you start?  How do you make your idea a reality?  Is this even possible?  You probably have a million questions, so let’s start with some basic steps from the United States Small Business Association to get your business started off in the right direction.

  • Plan – Write a Business Plan that includes all of your ideas, questions, and concerns. This plan should include: market analysis, management organization, financial projections, company description, and a service or product outline.
  • Educate and Network – The Small Business Association has many free courses and trainings to help you get started on financing, marketing and physical location of your business.  Start talking to as many people in the field as possible to learn what you are up against and how to avoid mistakes that others have made as they began their business.
  • Secure Financing – This task may seem insurmountable but is critical to having a strong foundation to build your idea into a success business. Do your homework when looking for loans: whether private or government back one, investors, or any number of financing methods.  See the following link for more resources on this topic.  (Financing- Small Business Association)
  • Make it Legal – Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative. Consult with a qualified attorney to complete the proper paperwork, get a tax ID, fill out the right tax forms and business licenses. An expert attorney in this field can help you find resources to understand your legal requirements with the state and federal government as well as what requirements you must live up to with employees.

Best Practices for Writing on Social Media

Blogging, Tweeting, Posting and Pinning. Social Media is a huge undertaking and critical for businesses large and small to engage with their audience, showcase business services and products, and, in the end, create brand awareness. Writing posts and tweets may sound fairly simple but it should be a carefully planned marketing strategy in order to take it from “yet another company trying to market on the web” to a well-thought-out strategy that will turn viewers into consumers. Let’s review some of the Best Practices used by Social Media Experts for blogging, and posting on all social media platforms.

  • Know your Audience – First and foremost know who you are trying to reach on your social media platforms. Use analytics to find out your target audience since each social media platform has a different demographic that uses it.
  • Know your Goal – Every social media expert will tell you that knowing your goal is imperative. Are you writing/posting to sell products, introduce new services, entertain, engage your audience, or inform? Knowing this will help your social media campaign be focused.
  • Keep Posts Short – The average consumer does not have very long to read a lengthy article especially since many people are viewing via a mobile device while on-the-go. If they want to read further they can follow a link to your site. In fact many social media platforms such as Twitter limit messages to 140 characters. Facebook allows you to share larger posts, but again, it isn’t wise to bother your readers here, and make them click the “see more” button all the time.
  • Be Human – When writing posts use a voice that is not just professional but friendly, approachable, and if possible, conversational. Posts, blogs and tweets should be able to not only give information about your company, product or service but show the human side of your company as well.
  • No Hard Sells – Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels are meant to be fun so avoid hard selling your services/products. Post things that are interesting and uses imagery to attract viewers. Hard selling can cause viewers to tune out and become disinterested.
    Proofread – Social media is riddled with typos, spelling errors and grammatical issues. Try to avoid these problems by editing and having proofreaders look over each post to be sure that it is written well and puts forth the ideals of your brand.