Guest Post: 5 Crystal Clear Signs to Consider Hiring

Please welcome guest Blogger Matt Wilhelmi.  His contact and other info is below.

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At the last YourBizDr.com Workshop, I spoke on the importance of a budget and cash flow management. After the workshop, I was approached separately by more than a few people about when and how to expand their workforce. Small business owners are often reluctant to ask questions about hiring. Maybe they think hiring is too expensive, or giving up control will tarnish the brand they’ve strived to create. They all seem to want to know the same thing about hiring, “How do I know when to hire my next (or first) employee?”

Business decisions, and hiring is a great example, can’t be made in a vacuum. So instead of just giving you a list of conditions that, when met, means you must hire an employee, I’m going to give you 5 signs that you should consider hiring. Consider this statement: “If you don’t manage yourself, it’s going to be very difficult to manage someone else.”

Do you know how many hours you worked last week? I mean hours worked, not hours checking Facebook or LinkedIn. What about your last few projects; do you know how many hours it took you to complete? Were you profitable? What pay rate did you pay yourself for that work? What were your margins on those projects? If you hired someone to do that work, and they were 80% as efficient as you (I’m being slightly optimistic) and you paid them a fair rate, what would your margin be? How many more hours would you have to do other things?

Many business owners and entrepreneurs think that hiring employees will make their life easier. Don’t get me wrong. That’s the goal! However, if your operations, process, and finances are messy now, adding staff will amplify this problem. If you have a solid foundation of sound operations, smooth process, and profitable finances, adding staff will help build your organization.

 

Once you’ve ensured that you have solid operational systems in place, look for these 5 Crystal Clear Signs to Consider Hiring:

  1. Decreasing Quality: Missing deadlines due to an abundance of work
  2. Missing Revenue: Turning down opportunities for work because you’re too busy
  3. Work/Life Balance: Spouse or friends complaining because you are too stressed out to enjoy life
  4. Consistent Revenue: You’ve built a steady stream of revenue from a diverse book of business and the work isn’t something only you can do
  5. Objective Measurables: Very efficient way of forecasting and determining profitability

To be clear, this list doesn’t necessitate hiring an employee. I mean that, just because you can check off each one, doesn’t mean you should go out and hire someone right away. These are simply signs you should consider hiring an employee.  As I said earlier, business decisions can’t be made in a vacuum and many other things should be considered before hiring an employee. What’s your Business Strategy? What’s your financial position? How long will it take to train someone? Are your systems set up to handle additional users? I don’t mean to overwhelm you with cautionary questions as they are simply supposed to provoke thought.

So now you are properly framing your thoughts around whether it is the right time to hire. Once you decide to hire, though, you want to be sure to do it right.  In my next guest blog post, I will share 6 Critical Rules to Avoid a Hiring Debacle.

Thanks for reading.

Matt Wilhelmi ( matt@individualadvantages.com )

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Our guest blogger today is Matt Wilhelmi with YourBizDr.com.  Matt is a Business Consultant at Individual Advantages, LLC, the parent company of YourBizDr.Com. Matt is an entrepreneurial minded professional who works well with complicated business strategies and excels in developing and implementing operational processes to achieve business goals.

6 keys to dealing with business bullies.

There are people in business who see their key to success as the ability to intimidate others in order to get their way.  I personally like these people a lot.  Because it is exceptionally fun to say no to them, often setting them off into a tirade that can be very entertaining to watch.  But there are some key things to do right when dealing with a bully.

Most small business owners are relatively nice people.  And some unscrupulous types like to take advantage of this and prey on the natural tendency of people to avoid conflict whenever possible.  The easiest way to avoid conflict with a bully is just to give them what they want.  But sooner or later, what they want will be more than you’re willing to give them.  The hassle of dealing with them becomes less painful than the price of what they are asking for, and it’s time to meet them head on.  Here are some tips.

  1. Know your facts.  Bullies love to rattle off facts to “prove” their position, but they also tend to love to distort facts or present only limited facts that help them.  They do so aggressively and apply time pressure to keep you on your heels.  But a mastery of your facts can be a great asset to rebut their partial truths or outright false claims.  Now they are on the defensive instead of you.  It also allows you to call out their empty threats.  We had a bully threatening to kick our client our of her commercial space later that day if they didn’t get their way.  I calmly reminded him that on a verbal lease in Illinois the best he could do was remove her on the last day of the following month.  Knowing the facts took the wind out of the sails of his empty threat.
  2. Only use facts to rebut.  Knowing your facts is important, but don’t rely on them exclusively.  It’s easy to get sucked into a debate about what did or did not happen, while entirely bypassing the basic truth that what the bully is asking for is fundamentally wrong.  With confidence, continually steer the conversation toward what is right, and what is true.  Use facts primarily just to rebut their lies and half-truths as noted above.
  3. Don’t allow distractions.  Typically, people are bullies because the facts are not on their side.  They substitute intimidation for simply being in the right.  Since the facts don’t favor them, they love to introduce distractions.  Your issue is with payment on five invoices that are seven months old.  They are trying to bring up the fact that last month one item was missing from their shipment.  “Okay, we’ll talk about that missing item once we’ve resolved these older open invoices.  Let’s take care of that first.”  Don’t let them distract you.
  4. Remain absolutely calm, if not cordial.  You notice in the quote above that my tone is absolutely calm.  I often enjoy actually being overly nice (to a degree, don’t overdo it) to bullies because they hate it.  They rely on their ability to make you angry, because people make poor decisions when they are emotional.  Make the conscious decision that you are not going to blow your top.
  5. Don’t allow false time pressure.  One of the most common tools of the bully is to invent false time pressure.  “I need an answer by noon today or I will do XYZ.”  If moving quickly is possible, then do so.  Don’t intentionally slow the process down if you don’t need to.  But when it will take time to handle the situation correctly, calmly inform the bully that their deadline won’t work but you will get back to them by XYZ date.  Be specific, don’t leave it open ended.  But don’t buy into their false sense of urgency.  But remember to know your facts.  If there is REAL time pressure in a situation, you need to know that before slowing things down and paying the price for it.
  6. Communicate via email, but never argue via email.  I’ve covered this in a prior post, but email is great for communicating.  It is terrible for resolving conflict.  When you get the inflamed email from the bully, pick up the phone and call them.  Pursue a solution, not an empty “email victory.”

Have an awesome day, and go launch, build and exit strong.

JDV

Control at Only 1%? Yes.

Can you sell so much equity in your business that you’re left with literally 0.51% but still retain control?  Yes.  As long as we structure your company to allow for control at even extremely low ownership percentages.

Control at 100% Ownership. The most iron-clad method of maintaining control of your business is to be a sole-owner.  Obviously, if you control all of the stock you can vote off any officer or board member who makes a power-play.  But being a sole owner does not prevent you from bringing on investors.  Instead of selling stock, the company borrows from investors.  Some investors have no interest in the day-to-day operations of the business and would actually prefer to lend.  The investors may bring requirements like security interests against company assets, etc. but they do not gain any control over the business by way of simply being a lender.  Properly documenting these lender relationships is critical.

Control at 51% Ownership. A second option is to maintain a 51% majority ownership.  This way you can still outvote all other investors combined but you are able to bring in at least some capital without borrowing.  You need to use caution in this strategy, though, because certain decisions (like the decision to amend articles of incorporation or dissolution) require a greater majority than just 51%.  Also, depending on the number of directors you have in a corporation, you will not be able to control the entire board with just a 51% majority because of a concept known as cumulative voting.  Each of these issues can be addressed in a good set of by-laws and a shareholder agreement.  So the 51% majority is a good strategy, avoids borrowing, but requires good documentation to keep you in control.

Control at 1% Ownership. A third option is to create a non-voting class of stock.  This is easily done in a limited liability company (LLC), but requires care in a corporation.  Most small businesses formed as corporations have made an S-Corp election.  This provides significant tax benefits to the business owners.  But you will lose your S-Corp status (and the tax benefits) if you create two classes of stock with different economic rights.  Voting stock and non-voting stock are allowed, but each class of stock must have equal rights to profits, losses, distributions, etc.  The main advantage of non-voting stock is that you can maintain a 1% ownership and still control the entire company as long as the other 99% is non-voting.  This option requires careful documentation just like the 51% option, and may require amending your articles of incorporation on file with the state.

Each of the options above carries with it certain benefits and certain drawbacks. Ultimately, if you are seeking investors, the plan you go with is the plan that attracts the right investors.  The best plan in the world means little if you can’t get investors to buy shares.  There are many options available to a small business owner seeking to bring in additional capital without losing control of the small business.  When choosing an attorney to help you, it is important that you work with someone who has experience in both corporate formation and corporate litigation.  An attorney who has fought through a power play is much better equipped to help you avoid one.

Have a great day.

JDV

 

Getting ownership percentages right.

This questions comes up frequently, and is a simple misunderstanding that is easy to clear up.  It primarily pertains to corporations, but can apply to LLCs as well depending on how they are set up.

Rule #1: Your percentage ownership in a company is not based on the number of shares that are authorized.  It is based on the number of shares that are issued.  Corporations always issue ownership in terms of “shares” and the Articles of Incorporation set a maximum on the number of shares the company can “issue” and we call this the number of “authorized” shares.  The company can issue fewer than this number.  But it can’t issue more.  Your percentage ownership of the company is based on the number of issued shares, not the number of authorized shares.  For example, a company may be authorized to issue 100,000 shares.  But right now, there is one shareholder who only holds 20,000 shares.  Even though more shares could be issued, so far this one owner holds all of the issued shares, and she owns 100% of the company.  If you are then issued 20,000 shares you own 50% of the company.  Why?  Because you have the same number of shares as the original shareholder.  The fact that there are more shares authorized doesn’t mean anything until those “available” shares are actually issued to someone.  For now, you hold 50% of the company because each of you owns 20,000 shares.  Your percentage is calculated by dividing the number of shares you hold (20,000) by the total number of shares everyone holds, including you (40,000 total).

Rule #2: Watch out for “dilution”.  In the example above, it’s true that you own 50% of the company right now.  So if that’s the case, then why bother setting a specific number of “authorized” shares if that number doesn’t actually affect the percentage of the company that I own?  The reason is that there may be more shareholders coming in the future.  If the company eventually issues the full 100,000 it has authority to issue, your same 20,000 shares you’ve always held are now only 20% of the company.  This is because your 20,000 didn’t change, but the number of total issued shares (including yours) has risen to 100,000 total.  So the number of authorized shares is very important.  It tells you how much your ownership can be “diluted” if the company issues that maximum number of shares.  When buying your 20,000 shares, if staying at 50% is important to you, you need to enter into an agreement with the other shareholder that the company will not issue more shares.

Rule #3: Five-percent isn’t as simple as it looks.  Consider business owner “Steve” who runs a software company, and he’s always been the only shareholder.  Steve holds 1,000 shares in his company.  He has a great employee, Alex, and wants to give him 5% of the company.  Simple, right?  5% of 1,000 is 50 shares.  But this is not correct.  Steve wants to keep his whole 1,000 shares.  If he issued 50 shares to Alex, and reduced his own shares to 950 then the percentage would be right, and Alex would have 5% of the company.  But this would technically be a sale of shares by Steve to Alex.  And Steve doesn’t want to report a sale of stock on his tax return.  He just wants the company to issue new, never-before-issued-shares to Alex.  This is a better tax result for Steve.

Why is this more complicated?  Can’t we just issue 50 shares from the company instead of “selling” them out of Steve’s shares?  No.  The number 50 doesn’t work anymore.  If Alex received 50 shares, we would calculate his percentage by dividing 50 into the total number of issued shares including the 50 he just received.  So Alex’s percentage would actually be 4.8% (50 divided by 1,050 equals .0476).  This is too far from 5% to allow for rounding.  To get Alex the 5% he has been promised, you would need to issue him 52.6 shares.  52.6 divided by 1,052.6 equals .0499 which can be properly rounded to 5%.

That’s all for today.  Have an excellent day.

Launch Strong.  Build Strong.  Exit Strong.

JDV

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