There are things I wish I knew three years agowhen I first took the plunge as a full-time entrepreneur.
“Learn to live, let go and operate in your own excellence.”
However, without any regret, I am grateful for having to learn my way through many of them. To the credit of first-hand entrepreneurial experience, I have a good running list of things I wish I knew three years ago.
Thank you to the YFS team for sharing my story!
A few days ago, news began to circulate that Harris Wittels was found dead in his home at the age of 30. He was a writer for such shows as Parks and Recreation, and The Sarah Silverman Program. The cause of death is being reported as “most likely” drug overdose.
Wittels was a smart, financially comfortable, well-connected, much loved, young, good looking professional at the top of his game. His struggle with drug addiction was no secret to either peers or fans. He had been in and out of rehab quite recently. As a stand-up comic, his act, up to the point of his death, focused on drug use.
During one of his relapses, when he first turned to heroine, he would leave his office at the end of the day, and go directly to Skid Row looking to score the good stuff. He hung out at needle exchanges with homeless people as he learned the ways of the heroine addict. He is quite candid about these details in episode 236 of “You Made it Weird”. His story is all the more tragic because one can’t help but believe there was something more his company could have done for him.
At the very least, it can be argued that the corporate world has the same responsibility to an addict as they have for an employee with diabetes. Like any other medical treatment, addiction recovery treatment can be rather expensive depending on the type and setting. It will often be done as in-patient treatment, meaning that there might be significant time loss from work. Time loss equals income loss.
It is equivalent to major surgery and recovery. Corporate responsibility, in this case, involves providing insurance that covers addiction treatment, and a return to work policy for the successful conclusion of said treatment.
Another thing corporations can do is to donate to nonprofits with a proven track record of facilitating recovery. Michael’s House profiles the top five nonprofits treating addiction. These are:
- To Write Love on Her Arms
- Faces and Voices of Recovery
- Gearing Up
- Legal Action Center
Putting People First
One of the things Wittels said in the afore mentioned interview is that he was able to perform the duties of his job at a high level, even when strung out on drugs. Still, one would think his coworkers would notice that something was amiss. If they did notice, they lacked the incentive to do anything about it. As long as the addict is functioning, then the team or company is still benefiting.
Functioning addicts can be the worst kind because they can hide the severity of their problem for a long time. Employers who are aware of the addiction will be less likely to act. That is what happens when we put the function before the addict. Corporations have to be made up of the kinds of people who care enough about functional addicts in their company to intervene, even when that person is still profitable for the company.
Take Responsibility for the Corporate Culture
What does success look like at your company. Do the high-rollers have an image of heavy partying with the free-flow of drugs and alcohol? Is every corporate function anointed with free booze and an open bar? Some industries are just known for providing a safe haven for risky behavior.
Irresponsible use of recreational drugs is considered a reward for the successful entertainer. It is not just entertainers. Successful sales people can easily get away with coming to work drunk or high, just as long as they keep selling. Politicians have been known to use illegal pharmaceuticals to help take the edge off. A company cannot act shocked when someone’s drug problem is outed, when drug and alcohol abuse is a known part of the company culture and industry norm.
Finally, every individual can help by developing a zero tolerance mindset. That means that we stop enabling the people we care about, and start insisting on treatment. We can move the needle of progress when we stop treating addiction as a moral failing, and start treating it like the medical problem that it is.
Organizations with big workforces run best when entrepreneurs have the right set of tools to handle different aspects of the firm, such as employee management. Without the tools, employee management can be a challenging effort.
And keeping track of their contracts? Even worse. Imagine having to keep track of employee contracts and related documents in a large organization without having an effective application to facilitate the process. Expect the same hassle when it comes to performance reviews and other similar tasks.
Luckily, you can utilize some great tools to manage employees in an effective manner. Here are 4 tools that should get you doing in 2015:
Employee productivity tool
Worksnaps is a tool that provides extra details to entrepreneurs who want to keep track of the productivity of their employees, inside and outside office premises. The tool takes a screenshot every 10 minutes, as well as logs mouse movements and keyboard strokes. It catalogs the applications used by employees, so you can see how much time they spent working on a Word document or reviewing an Excel spreadsheet.
It also enables a user to measure the work performance of employees in-depth, and therefore helps in better employee management through reports and charts. You can see these graphs and reports to understand productivity analysis and working patterns, and the data can be used for timeline estimation and work division.
Form completion and management tool
SignNow is a tool that lets employees and management complete forms electronically from anywhere within seconds. It has features to keep track of document status in real-time and verify exactly when a document is viewed, opened and signed. It also has the ability to store and archive signed offer letters, policy acknowledgements, NDAs and benefits documents in the cloud.
The tool makes it simple for employees to return contracts, and can be used from any mobile device. A document can be sent from 1-1,000 signers at a single time. And PDF copies of signed documents can be delivered to all parties automatically. This not only keeps you on top of employee contracts, but also eliminates the cost, time and environmental impact of shipping, printing, physical storage, faxing and postage.
Project management tool
Trello is a project management tool that removes the need to keep track of lengthy email threads from employees or the hope that they keep updating tracking spreadsheets. The tool presents a card system that organizes the team by creating a task list that can be updated any time.
When particular tasks are completed, the cards can be dropped and dragged between different lists, and progress can be updated. The lists can be reordered when the need to reprioritize tasks arises. Trello is free to use at the basic level, but the Business Class tools offered by the web-app gives entrepreneurs more control over the boards. It is so simple that everyone can get used to it quickly and the status of each task can be seen as it moves through stages.
Problem recording tool
15Five is a survey tool that enables employees to write a report for 15 minutes, and then the owner can send 5 minutes reading the report. It can be used to surface problems, reward goal achievement, and keep a foothold on impending problems. Companies can ask their own questions or even create a custom set of questions for different departments.
The tool can be a great way to boost engagement by enabling employees to voice their concerns. Sharing challenges, ideas, and achievements every week forges teamwork and bonds. It can also boost morale and employee retention via easy and regular communication.
Outsourcing can improve productivity and competitiveness 10- to 100-fold, states Michael Corbett in his book “The Outsourcing Revolution.” Those are big numbers, so it is not a surprise that around 90 percent of companies surveyed for the book viewed outsourcing as crucial to their business success.
Outsourcing allows you to draw on the skill sets you need without having to set up a designated department in your own company. The overhead of employing a full-time staff member, according to Drexel University, is about 30 percent above their standard salary. Therefore, for many companies, it makes sense to outsource functions that require more specialized skills.
The trick is knowing what functions to outsource and which to keep in-house. Consider the type of maintenance required and also give a thought to costs in terms of updating skills at a later stage. An independent contractor will make it their business to keep their skills up to date whereas if you employ someone, it becomes your responsibility to train him or her.
If you’re still struggling to know what business functions to outsource, here are three commonly outsourced tasks:
IT can be a specialized field that needs to be outsourced. According to a 2006 report by Aberdeen Group, 63 percent of survey respondents cite cost reductions as their top reason for outsourcing IT. However, you need to carefully vet these companies before you give them access to secure and confidential information so you don’t end up in a bad position with your clients or customers.
Many companies decide to outsource their accounting departments to avoid the hassle and stress. However, paying a professional accounting firm can be expensive, especially if they capture all the data. The problem is that getting the books right is essential. Especially when you are starting out, you need to know whether you are earning a profit or not.
Fortunately, there is a middle-ground between doing it yourself and hiring an accounting firm. Find an online accounting program that makes invoicing and tracking payments easy. It also should sort your entries into the correct financial accounts to help make your year-end tax returns as simple as calling up the necessary reports. Systems like Sage One offer online accounting software solutions that allow you to find the perfect balance between a cost-effective solution and the professional skills needed to get your financial accounts into order.
Typing and Transcription Work
There are many companies that provide transcription or typing services for reasonable prices. Outsourcing this kind of work can be very cost-effective because it requires few special skills and may not be worth paying a full-time staff member. Beyond the financial reasons, outsourcing can be beneficial by offering your documents in the cloud and improving report accuracy and turnaround times. If your staff is rushing to complete this extra task, costly mistakes can be made.
Services like Transcription Outsourcing complete medical, law enforcement, legal, academic and financial transcription. This company ensures quality control with designated account managers and transcription teams for customized work.
Outsourcing routine business tasks can greatly benefit your business. In addition to saving you money on a full-time employee and training, outsourcing can be more efficient and accurate for your business in the long run. So, take a look at your IT, accounting and transcription positions in your company and decide whether it’s beneficial to outsource them or not.
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