Entrepreneurs Growing Forward

TEntrepreneurs Growing Forward – today our guest blogger Lindsey Harper Mac writes about the choices  small companies may have to make to survive the economic winter.  Lindsey is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Entrepreneurs Growing Forward

When a business has been in existence for a few years, has solid cash flow and all is running smoothly, the life of the business owner can look easy to outsiders. But chances are, getting the company to that point required the owner and founder long hours of hard work and great financial and lifestyle sacrifices.

Independent small business owners often start their businesses by investing their life savings, taking out small business loans and even maxing out their credit cards to get the company started until funds from client billings start coming in. Many don’t even give themselves a paycheck for the first year or longer. This is a huge risk and sacrifice they and their families make. Even if the business succeeds, it means that numerous purchases, vacations and any spending that is not absolutely essential must be put on hold until the business gets on solid financial ground.

Likewise, the new business owner must often work long hours to get the business running smoothly and to get enough client billings in the pipeline so there is sufficient cash flow. This can take several months and sometimes years, creating an unbalanced lifestyle that is essentially all work and no play. Not everyone is willing to make these sacrifices. They aren’t willing to work that hard, that long or do without the things they want to make it happen.

But, if they don’t, and the business should fail, all the money they borrowed to invest in it is gone and must still be paid back.

Entrepreneurs Growing Forward –  established companies must make hard decisions

Additionally, even owners of established companies must make hard decisions when the economy takes a downturn, or when a major client decides to cut costs and do in-house what they had been outsourcing to your small company.

One small company, Quality Environmental Professionals, Inc., or QEPI, headquartered in Indianapolis, had tough decisions to make late in 2008 and early 2009 when the economy took a downturn.

QEPI owner, Deb Peters, cut her company’s reliance on color copying, which was costing $9,000 every quarter, and implemented sharing files electronically, and using black and white copies when paper was necessary. Another change she made was in the employee break room, where she stopped buying employees’ coffee in individual packets and began purchasing large cans of coffee from Sam’s Club. By making these and other cuts, Peters was able to keep all of her 34 employees instead of making cuts by layoffs.

Other small businesses cut back on hiring cleaning and lawn care help and asked their employees to help with those tasks to prevent in-house layoffs. A survey of 100 human resource executives conducted by consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas found that more than 66.7 percent of these companies cut travel expenses, and more than 6 percent began letting their employees telecommute to cut office space expenses. Work instead could be done through online conference calls and other technology, such as instant messaging, to communicate with their customers, materials suppliers, vendors and with company employees in satellite offices. In some cases, the satellite offices were dispensed with altogether, resulting in even more savings, and employees in those offices now work from home.

Working together to get through lean times usually strengthens a business overall and positions it for growth during the next economic boom.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.

Also by Lindsey Harper Mac

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The War for Talent

Today we have a guest post from Susan Popoola. Susan is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

The War for Talent

Are you aware that there is actually a global war going on at the moment? Because of the recession and the high unemployment rates that exist at this point in time, it’s not immediately apparent but there is currently a global war for talent which will become very apparent by the time we truly get to the end of the recession.

But even now if you look closely and talk to a number of different businesses you will see the signs of it. You will constantly hear employers talking about the need for young people coming into the workplace to have employability skills. Whilst the British NHS is still highly run/supported by a significant number of doctors and nurses originating from Africa and Asia, at the same time there are an increasing number of nurses working within the NHS who are, or are thinking of, migrating to places such as Canada and Australia, due to the better pay and working conditions offered in such countries.

Furthermore, I recently had a conversation with the Managing Director of a small but very successful technology firm. Inadvertently we also spoke about the challenges that he was facing in getting people with the skills that he needed for his business. He further explained that he had got where he was because people had seen the potential in him and offered him opportunities that he hadn’t always had the ready skills for, but had supported his development in order to effectively fulfill the role in question. Taking account of this he pointed out that he was more than willing to cross-train individuals, but had been struggling to fill two particular roles for over six months, even though he had done direct searches, recruitment agencies and even the job centre.

This led me to contact a Government Minister and point out my observations and make suggestions on possible solutions. In a nutshell, I would like to see a government skills database in place that highlights skills requirements at a local, regional and national basis, the idea being that employers would enter their key skill requirements into the database.

My dialogue with the Minister is ongoing, but it leads me further to what I see as a blanket argument that currently exists about immigration which does not take a real account of both business and economic needs, together with future implications.

As it stands we’ve lost a lot of manufacturing jobs to overseas countries. Not too long ago we had the HSBC talking about relocating to Hong Kong. Further to this we have recently adopted an immigration policy that will make it increasingly difficult for multinationals to send expatriate managers from other countries to the UK to set up, run or work within offices within the UK. There is a risk with this that such organisations may choose to limit their operations within the UK.

At the same time there are policies being proposed/put in place to minimise the number of foreign students that come to study within the UK. I find this somewhat ironic for two reasons. In the first instance, we recently had the student demonstrations over university fees which have been described as a necessity due to the deficit in university funding. At the same time I recently spoken to a young South African lady who told me that for the course that she really wanted to study, at her university of choice, she had been told that it would cost her up to £50,000 per annum as a foreign student. I would venture to say that a local student wouldn’t pay up to a fifth of this, even with the changes to university fees. Even if you see this as an extreme case, there is still a marked gap between the fees that local and foreign students pay and we are therefore losing out on crucial funding with a knock on impact on local students caused by the narrowness of our thinking on immigration.

It’s possible that some may argue that the advantage gained from overseas students fees may be lost by such students staying within the Britain for a period to work. I on the other hand would argue that there is something positive in helping to develop individuals who then use their essential skills to contribute to the UK economy before returning to their home country. This is specifically true as foreign students are more likely to study courses in core subject areas whereby they come out with qualifications critical to the economy. It also helps to develop and retain a deep connection between Britain and the students home countries.

And before you say it, yes there is a high graduate unemployment rate of 20% at this point in time, but I believe most employers would go for the UK Graduate if he or she had the same to offer as the foreign graduate.

I guess the counter argument to this would be that their home countries have an equal if not greater need for jobs. My point of view would be – what if such people were able to set up a company in the UK as the case may also be and then go on to set up offices within their home country such that everybody wins and obtains the optimal outcome?

Susan Popoola is an HR Specialist at Conning Towers which specializes in HR Transformation and Talent Management.  Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain which explores Disatisfaction, Disengagement and Diversity within Britain is her second published book.

>Transferable Skills


Today we have the first of a series of three guest posts from Ian Machan of Prepare4private Limited – “Levelling the playing field for Public Sector workers seeking jobs”. Ian has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. He is a Mechanical Engineer who has worked for blue chip organisations across a range of sectors including Heinz and 3M. For the last 12 years Ian has offered consultancy services to a wide range of organisations.

When you look to move to the Private Sector you may find it hard to find a direct equivalent to the job you are leaving.  Job adverts may leave you feeling despondent, but don’t worry. 
What you have to do is consider in particular your transferable skills. These will be the skills that you have acquired over the years of your employment, and outside of employment that are relevant to a new employer. Sit down with a cup of coffee and you CV, and go through the document jotting down the skills that you used in each position, e.g.:
  • Leading a team of people
  • Setting up and delivering a project
  • Negotiating change
  • Setting up a new spreadsheet to analyse an area. 
Now also think about your hobbies, sports, or even how you run your house. I remember talking to someone who was working in fairly basic job, but who chaired the local cricket club. He was responsible for a project to demolish and re-build the clubhouse. He was controlling the contractors, managing the money etc.
This is no time to hide your capabilities, so summarise your skills, and make sure they come through on your CV.
Now go and look at those job adverts, or job descriptions through the lens of your skills, not the shades of your old jobs.

Ian Machan “Levelling the playing field for Public Sector workers seeking jobs: www.Prepare4Private.co.uk