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2 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss

Tips from Santa

Posted by Steve Strauss Dec 22, 2014

Happy holidays all. Being as it is that magical time of year, it got me thinking about ‘ol Kris Kringle himself, Santa Claus.

 

What does Santa have to do with your business, you ask? Plenty, as it turns out. If there was ever a brand to be envied, it would have to be Santa Claus. So let me suggest that if you want to add some holiday cheer to your small business, you would be wise to be like Santa:

 

Ask them what they want, then give them what they want: A SCORE counselor gave me this tip many years ago, but it just as easily could have been shared by Santa. Santa of course, gets requests from children around the world and in turn works to give those good boys and girls the gifts they ask for. That is part of his appeal – his desire to please his audience.

 

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Your small business should do the same. Ask your customers what they want, and then give it to them. I know a guy who owns a deli and when he started, he refused to put mustard on the tables, concluding that his chefs knew better about how much mustard belonged on a particular sandwich. The ensuing mustard uproar caused him to change course within a few months. “If they want to use mustard as they please," he told me, “who am I to stop them?”

 

  1. Exactly.

 

Know your brand, and reinforce it again and again: Quick, what is the name of the jolly old chubby man in the red suit and white beard? Santa Clause, of course. Santa knows he is the brand and he is not seen in public without his trademark red suit.

 

And by the same token, Santa knows the value of a good tagline, his infamous: “Ho, ho, Ho!” He uses it repeatedly, to good effect.

 

It is sort of like the Nike swoosh and catchphrase, Just Do It. We all know the swoosh stands for Nike, and we all know that Nike stands for just doing it. Having a brand and catchphrase used consistently is a smart way to get your message across in a flash.

 

Be an inclusive manager: One thing that is certain about Santa Claus is that he must be a good manager. For starters, Santa clearly has a great team around him. Whether it’s the elves, Mrs. Claus, or his reindeer, Santa’s team is focused on the goal and they all work together to accomplish that goal.

 

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By the same token, it seems obvious that like any good manager, Santa doesn’t mind sharing the credit for a job well done. Moms and dads often take credit for the work done by Santa and his elves, but he clearly doesn’t seem to mind.

 

Finally, Santa seems very willing to promote from within and trust that his troops are capable. Take the case of Rudolph. It took a management genius like Santa Claus to see that Rudolph actually was a born leader waiting to shine. He is not just a little reindeer with a red nose.

 

Don’t be afraid to start from where you are: No, you may not have all the money you need to get started, but look at Santa – his business is based from his home and he employs his family. Use what you’ve got and go from there.

 

And finally, love what you do: Enthusiasm is infectious, and people love to work with enthusiastic people. Witness the global growth of Santa Claus. His passion, giving nature, positive energy (and ability to hit a deadline on time) have catapulted him to global success.

 

So this year, I say to you dear readers, be like Santa, give it away, and we hope you have a Happy Holiday season!


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



I have a colleague who has had three assistants over the past seven years. Although it may look like a pretty good track record, hiSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngs first assistant lasted for six years, the second was gone in a month and the most recent one was on the job for less than a year.

 

One might conclude that my friend either 1) got lucky the first time, 2) is a poor judge of talent, or 3) both 1 and 2. In all likelihood, the third factor is at play here. Hiring for a small business is a tricky proposition and finding the right person is not always easy.

 

In fact, according to a recent survey from staffing firm, Robert Half, the “biggest challenge” facing 60 percent of small businesses surveyed was finding the right person for the job. “While large companies may benefit from a big pool of available talent, small businesses don't have those same advantages when trying to find new employees,” according to the report.

 

So where should you turn to when you need to hire the right person? Here are several resources to consider:

 

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Referrals: For most small business owners, referrals are often near the top of the list when it comes to finding talent. Often, those referrals come from one’s current staff because who knows your business and its needs better than your current employees? An added bonus is that you can rest assured that the person they recommend will likely be a strong fit. After all, few people would risk their own job and reputation by recommending their friend to you for friendship’s sake.

 

Other good sources of recommendations include:

 

  • Business partners
  • Friends and family members
  • Vendors and customers

 

Job boards: Personally, I have great success finding top talent using Craigslist, although the challenge here is that you usually need to sort through a lot of resumes and cover letters to separate the wheat from the chaff. But once you do, you will almost always find some hidden gems in the stack of applicants.

Other job boards include:

 

  • Monster.com
  • CareerBuilder
  • SimplyHired

 

However, the problem with these sites is that they are so broad in scope, which can make it more difficult to find the right talent. Therefore, when it comes to job boards, it is important to think niche and focus on industry sites as well.

 

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a job recruiter’s dream. With this social media site, you can input the exact requirements of the person you seek and can expect that your search results will yield some very qualified candidates. As with the job boards, the key here is to be very specific when describing the open job.

 

LinkedIn also has an area just for job recruitment called LinkedIn Recruiter, which has tools to help you pinpoint the right person.

 

It also helps to join the right LinkedIn group for your industry or the position to help spread the word about the opening.

 

Generally speaking, other social media platforms – Twitter and Facebook in particular – tend to be less useful when it comes to finding a potential employee.

 

Community collegepull quote.pngs, colleges, and universities: Traditional resources, such as institutes of higher learning, can be a resource as well. Job fairs, job boards, career days, career centers, newsletters, and even bulletin boards are a few of the many ways you can use colleges to recruit potential employees.

 

Finally, whatever method you use, there are two key things to keep in mind when recruiting:

 

1. Know the job: It is vital that you know what the job entails and that you convey to the employee both the responsibilities and the benefits of the job in a positive light.

 

2. Stress the intangibles: Small businesses usually cannot compete with larger businesses when it comes to salary and benefits. But to quote the great and mighty Wizard of Oz himself, “You've got one thing they haven’t got: A heart.” When talking to potential employees, it is important to emphasize the benefits of working for a small business, including opportunities to grow and gain experience.

 

What resources do you use to find talent? Share your story below.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss

http://www.smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/people/Steve%20Strauss/content

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here