Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Make the Best Use Of Top Performers
Don’t be too quick to give all the hard tasks to your high achievers. If you do, those stars will soon become overloaded—and even worse—burned out and resentful of their extra burden.

What to do instead: If it’s necessary to occasionally overload them, explain the reason and acknowledge their effort by giving them a bonus, raise or some special reward, and be sure they are praised for their efforts immediately—not at their yearend review.

Even better: Arrange to have top performers train others so they can share the workload.

How to Make Meetings More Productive
Plan a “closing” statement for every business meeting. It should include specific agreements on who should do what and when.

Without such a close, you run the risk that each attendee might leave with a different view of the meeting’s results or their obligations.

So restate conclusions reached, actions taken, deadlines imposed and the results expected.

Insurance for Those Who Work at Home
If your office is in your home, be wary of depending on homeowner’s insurance for full protection. Working at home can alter your insurance risk, and a claim for damages could be denied if the damage was caused by the business.

Advice for Today’s Wanna-Be Entrepreneurs
Here’s some astute guidance for those who want to launch a business. It’s from the veteran venture capitalists and business leaders who preside over the annual Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Entrepreneurship Competition:

Don’t be deterred by the current economic climate. Money may be difficult to come by, but other valuable resources are very much available: seasoned executives who are between jobs, for example.

Get to know your customers and their “pain,” and be absolutely clear about how your product can uniquely mitigate that pain.

The mantra in the current business environment is customer, customer, customer. Find customers for whom your product or service is a must have, and they will buy from you again.

If you can avoid raising venture capital, do so. But if you can’t get money any other way, raise more than you think you need. Either way, once your business is under way, focus on sales and conserve cash.

Know your competition and find examples of companies that have succeeded in doing something similar to what you propose. Do this before writing a plan or trying to raise money.

Focus on how you’ll respond to competition. Too often, inexperienced entrepreneurs are so enamored with their product or service that they fail to prepare for challengers. Careful planning contributes to the likelihood of a new company’s survival.

Surround yourself with good people and let them do their jobs. Don’t get caught up in control issues.

Write Better Job Descriptions
Don’t just list the specific tasks an employee is expected to accomplish when putting together a job description. In addition, record how the employee is expected to behave in the job.

For example, it’s OK to state in the job description that the employee must be able to work well with coworkers. In that way you’re clearly telling the candidate the job can’t be done just his or her way; he or she must always consider the feelings of colleagues as well.

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 contributing editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com .

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