Yesterday somebody contacted me to say “but your articles are all about small businesses!” It is true that I have geared the discussion towards people who are just starting, or who started before but are struggling, or the one-man band. I have rather assumed that people with larger businesses have already learnt (usually the hard way!) all the dos and don’ts.
However, I will address some if the issues here, though it is still really for small businesses.
- The worst day of the week for a small business is invariably a Friday, when the owner of the business has to frantically run around hoping and praying that there will be enough money on the account to pay the staff. S/he probably spent the Wednesday and the Thursday phoning and e-mailing to remind his clients to pay up, and to pay up quickly. Very few staff will accept that there is no money on the account till next week, and the few that do are really worth your hanging on to at all costs. Not because they are willing to be paid late, but because they have demonstrated and understanding of what you have to go through. Most haven’t a clue (nor should they) and couldn’t care less.
Years ago we had a team of men work for us for no pay at all for 6 months – yes, six months! Their loyalty to my husband and their understanding and appreciation of our predicament was a real testament to my husband’s ability to instill pride and confidence in his team. They all knew they would be paid as soon as the money came in – which it eventually did. (I wrote about this situation in my book “A Call From France”). But on the whole you MUST pay the staff – any which way you can. They too have rents to pay and need to eat and it is not reasonable to ask them to work only to find you cannot pay on time.
- rules and regulations about employees are now so heavy on the business-owner’s shoulders that if we can manage without employees, we will. Here in France a huge % of workers (including government workers!) do so on the black, simply because the onus on the employer is so great that it is a nightmare to employ anybody. It is a shame. I have only once (20-odd years ago) interviewed a woman who was pregnant – she told me herself and it was clear that she didn’t want to work but that the ANPE (benefits people) had sent her along. I was grateful to her because no way did I want to get involved in maternity leave with the tiny income my business produced. Legally speaking we cannot refuse to employ a woman because she is pregnant, or even less because she is likely to become pregnant. I can see the employee’s point of view, but I can see the employer’s point of view too – boy oh boy I can! It is a shame because a lot more people would be in work (men, women, young and old) if the rules and regulations were not so impossible to adhere to.
- dealing with difficult staff. Frankly, if they are doing their job and doing it properly, and not jeopordizing your business in any way, let them be difficult. A lot of people miss out on a good deal because they cannot operate with so-and-so. On the other hand, if you can easily get rid of them (if they are working on the black, for example) then you might as well. Obviously, sit down and talk with them and try to outline what you do and do not expect, and outline what their problem is. I have one of my cleaning team who bitches constantly about the other cleaners and I told her “we must work as a team otherwise we cannot operate; if you don’t get on with the others, so be it, but keep quiet about it ” … so she soon piped down. Looking back on it I think she wanted me to see her as “better” than the others, ie give her a pay rise. Most disgruntled employees have an ulterior motive!
- interviewing people. Gut feeling! I think women are good at having a gut feeling about people, better than men. Qualifications only mean so much. Their personaility and their va-va-voom is vastly more important. Experience of life & work in general is very valuable, even if it not experience in your line of business. The University of Life and all that. If your gut feeling tells you that you won’t get along – then no. I had this situation myself not long ago when I found a man to translate my book “French Sand” – but there was no way I could work with him. Too noisy. Too bumptious. Both his French and his English, spoken and written, were perfect. But I knew very quickly that I would be unable to work with him.
Before I go, a few quick words about HEALTH. It does so annoy me when people don’t look after their health – this amazing gift that most of us are born with and we don’t take care of it. Ridiculous. You cannot expect to ever have much success if your days are spent fighting a hangover or wheezing as you go up the staircase. Energy creates more energy and a happy, wholesome and hard-working person has lots of energy. S/he eats the right things and takes regular exercise. And people who wail “but Ihaven’t got time” are even more annoying – we always have time for the things we really want to do.
tomorrow more – on the subject of bad reviews and dealing with them
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Catherine Broughton is a novelist. Her books as available on Amazon and on Kindle. For more of her blogs on all sorts of subjects go to http://www.turquoisemoon.co.uk