I’ve had the opportunity during my employment experience to work for half dozen small business owners or so– graphic designer, loan modification agents, caterer, writers/authors, financial adviser, real estate agents. That’s partly how I created Intel Boutique, through my service with them, I started seeing the needs of business owners in a whole new light. But not all my experiences were positive and rewarding. Some of them were a warning of who not to do business with and how not to manage my business in the future. And because my goal had been to go into business for myself, I kept my eyes peeled all the time, observing as much as I could and learning my lessons vicariously through them. And boy, oh, boy — there are some lesson I’ll never forget. But just as in life, you gotta take the good with the bad and even with the ugly.
Loan Modifications – I didn’t know how off centered this entire operation was until I was a month deep into it and those who had been there longer started revealing all the you-know-what that had hit the fan. Needless to say, I was there for 3 months and was happy to say good-bye. What I took with me:
- Never EVER make a client feel your absence. I don’t care if it’s some kind of ploy or tactic, it’s just bad practice. And it makes the client feel uneasy, especially when you’re handling their personal financial records. And anytime a client feels that uneasy, they bring in a lawyer to make you feel that uneasy too.
- Don’t change the rules/policies with your employees every 2-3 weeks. It’s ridiculous and it’s unprofessional. If something needs to be changed give them ample warning and reasons as to why you’re shifting gears. Bring them into the process rather than keep them from it.
- No micro-managing…EVER. If you can’t trust your staff to do their job, then you shouldn’t have hired them. Make the competent so you feel assured in their work.
Writer/Author– Such creative spirits to be around. But creativity doesn’t substitute for business sense or time management. What I learned:
- Always agree upon working schedule in advance — depending on works best for you and them . If they always need reminders the day of — it becomes more of a burden and not worth your efforts. Time is money, on both ends.
- Do not work outside the scope of which you were hired. You’ll be doing multiple jobs and getting one check. If they wanted you to handle more, then they need to compensate you adequately.
- Agree on a productive working environment condusive for success. Yes, you’re there to do a job, but you’re also there to do the best damn job possible. Keep your interest in mind too.
Financial Adviser – Talking about multi-tasking, this guy did it all from financial services, to managing commercial retail property in another state and to being health agent broker. I’m a firm believer in creating multiple income streams, so I don’t knock him there, but without help, he almost always seemed lost. What I saw wrong:
- Don’t let your staff create the systems you run your business with. When they go, so could those systems.
- You may not have the best memory, so take good notes. Keep track and follow up.
- Train all staff to do all tasks, or assigned specific tasks to specific staff members, Giving unfamiliar duties to staff members will lead to errors. Make it so that their jobs can run smoothly and that your business can run smoother.
You’ll find that in most of your work, whether it be for someone else or yourself, there are more lessons than there is actual work. Look for the lesson and see if that improves you work at all. You might just find a golden opportunity to be your own boss, too.