Golden Business Ideas

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Organize Your Time
When faced with an oft-postponed decision, how frequently do you say, “I can’t work on that problem right now. I’ve got to stay flexible so I can handle today’s emergencies.” That’s a sure sign that you’re not planning strategically. Schedule 10 or 15 minutes every day to work on problems that are not emergencies.

The Positive Side of Mistakes
Don’t waste time criticizing subordinates for making errors. Instead, use the opportunity to help correct mistakes and identify lessons that can be learned from them.

Remember, while many mistakes are the result of bad planning and poor thinking, some are from trying something new and failing to anticipate the unexpected. Those latter types of errors make for a great learning experience.

In the long run, encouraging innovation nearly always pays dividends: It builds staff confidence, and you never know what improvements can result from trying new things.

Make Meetings More Productive
When announcing a meeting, give it an action title that explains its purpose: Fact-Finding, Brainstorming, Information Exchange.

If the meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m., lock the door at 2:01; the message that promptness is mandatory will spread quickly.

Purposely vary seating arrangements to get people from different parts of the organization to mix and to put space between buddies, who typically distract each other.

Distribute written material either before or after—not during—the meeting so participants don’t focus on reading instead of paying attention.

Select a different meeting “leader” each time. It nurtures responsibility and develops management skills.

Better Cells in Hotels
If your cell phone doesn’t work well in a hotel—either your call can’t get through or reception is garbled—don’t jump to the conclusion it’s the fault of your phone or carrier. Some hotels, in an attempt to reverse the sharp decline in in-room telephone revenue since cell phones became popular, have failed to take any steps to enhance wireless communications. Due largely to the use of cell phones, the average annual revenue per hotel room dropped to $152 from $644, or 76%, in the past four years, according to the hotel consulting firm PKF in San Francisco. Instead of complaining to your carrier, try making your call near the window or stepping outside.

STANLEY ZAROWIN, a former JofA senior editor, is now a contributing editor to the magazine. His e-mail address is zarowin@mindspring.com .

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

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QUIZ

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When professionals prepare written material for readers inside their organization or outside, they should make sure that no errors distract from the message they need to convey. Take this short quiz for practice in subject-verb agreement.