Golden Business Ideas


Hiring Smart

With the employment scene so tight—especially for high-quality, experienced people—you should consider a better way to recruit employees.

Instead of seeking out new hires only when you need them, plan ahead.

Start by tracking your field’s trade press, and use conventional networking with friends and colleagues to build a list of “rising stars”—people who are making a difference in that field. Then, when an occasion arises, invite one of them to do a brief freelance project.

If the candidate doesn’t work out, you’ve lost a few dollars. But if he or she does a good job, not only do you have an excellent candidate for a future job, but that person now knows something about you and your organization. This means a shorter learning curve should you eventually hire him or her.

Making Brainstorming Succeed

Whether your company makes tires or produces television films, its most valuable resource is creative thinking. And one of the best ways to stimulate the flow of ideas is through brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, such sessions often tend to be more stormy than brainy. That’s because, in a typical brainstorming session, lots of negative psychological reactions come to the surface: competition among the participants, fear of criticism and change (even when it’s apparent the old way is “broken”) and an irrational need to please—or at least not criticize—the boss.

Impose these ground rules during the session to overcome, or at least minimize, the obstacles; but you’ve got to follow them 100%—no exceptions for anyone:

  • Ignore the hierarchy. Rank doesn’t count. Invite everyone involved in a project or issue—from the lowest level employee to the highest, and insist that not even the boss can veto a brainstorm idea.
  • Suspend judgment. Make it clear that ideas are being gathered. Period. Not judged. No one should be allowed to say, “Oh, we tried that before….” Every single idea—even if it appears to be off the wall—gets posted to the idea list.
  • Encourage quantity—not quality. Tell the group the goal is to get as many ideas down on paper as possible; the fine-tuning, and appraisal, will come later.
  • Nurture a no-limits session. If the ideas seem pedestrian, kindle creativity by asking such questions as, “What would our most successful (or even least successful) competitor do in a case like this?”
  • Don’t rush it. Don’t set a fixed time to end. Serve refreshments. Afterward, as a reward, take the group out to a nice dinner.

Save on Airline Tickets

While it may be inconvenient, one of the best ways to save on airline tickets is to book them between midnight and 1 a.m.—either on the Web or by phone. That’s when most airlines load their low-price fares into the computer and restore the bargain seats that were booked but not ticketed. To be sure that’s when your airline updates its computers, give the company a call and speak to a supervisor.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( zarowin@mindspring.com ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.

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