Golden Business Ideas

The Power of Praise

Every manager knows praise can do as much for an employee’s confidence and morale as a bonus check. But what some managers fail to understand is that when praise is mixed with criticism, its value is diminished.

For example, if you say, “George, that was a great report—now if you can only get your department to be more productive,” you can be sure the compliment is lost in the implied criticism.

Even worse is mixing praise with humor: “George, that was a great report—you even finished it on time for once.” The boss may have thought the zinger at the end sounded funny, but the employee probably did not.

Help Wanted: Experience Counts

In this period of low unemployment, finding and keeping good employees has become a priority. While the goal is to find employees who are young, energetic, healthy, bright and ambitious, maybe that goal needs a bit of tweaking. Consider the benefits of hiring older workers—the over-55 set. They possess valuable life and professional experience and generally bring a certain wisdom to their work. Also, as the population gets older, employers will have fewer options. So start thinking about how you should restructure your compensation and career-development options to make them more attractive for the older set.

Merger Opportunities

If one of your competitors is being acquired, you have a window of opportunity to gain new customers. But you’ve got to act swiftly.

Here’s how to take advantage of the merger: The successor company in a merger typically is so busy with the financial details it fails to plan adequately for how it’s going to serve the acquired company’s customers. That issue is usually addressed after the deal is consummated. As a result, until an integration plan is announced and implemented, the acquired company’s customers may feel somewhat ignored—even a bit vulnerable—because they don’t know what the future holds.

What a chance for competitors to rush in with an aggressive sales pitch! But remember, timing is everything.

Phone Protection

In most modern offices, the telephone is connected to a fax machine and a computer via a modem (which, in turn, is connected to a printer and possibly even a scanner). That’s risky. If lightning hits the phone line, not only will it destroy the phone, but also all the electronic gear it’s linked to. Don’t think you’re safe because the equipment is plugged into a simple power-supply surge protector: Lightning surges are so large they burn out ordinary protectors.

So what should you do: Buy a surge device equipped with both AC-power-line and phone-line protection.

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 ( ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.


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