Take Care of your #1 Employee—YOU!

In the last issue of Small Business Advocate I discussed a GRANDSLAM strategy for success in life. I don’t want to be just another inspirational writer you’ve read; I want YOU to get what YOU want out of life. So drag it out your last Advocate issue and dust it off, we’re about to use it! Here’s your first opportunity.

With a new year upon us, let’s make sure to take care of your #1 employee — you! Often as business owners we take care of our customers, our employees and our businesses, but not ourselves.  You will get more satisfaction, pride and success out of having your own business if you also take care of yourself. Pick just one of these great ideas, then implement it using our GRANDSLAM success method.  Let’s not just think about doing it — DO IT!

Give yourself a written plan — Knowing where you want to go and having a plan for getting there is a surefire way to increase the odds that you’ll achieve it. Build a plan for your business goals for the year and for your personal goals.  Put it in writing; it will energize you and bring focus to your efforts.  Share your goals with your best friends; you’ll work even smarter to make sure you later get to tell them about your success.

Add to your employee retirement plan — Your best employee deserves to eventually sip Mai Tai’s on the beach, play golf, or visit your grandchildren.   Beef up your retirement savings.  There are several new plan types that give small businesses more flexibility to increase retirement savings.  Talk to your financial planner to see what suits you best.

Build yourself a skill-building support team — Identify some areas in your business where you want to build your skills. Then go find your own personal support team. Fill your team with people who want you to succeed.  If you want to improve your financial position, make sure there’s a finance coach on your team.  If you want to improve your marketing skills, make friends with someone who is great at marketing their own business.   If you want some new sales skills, call the best salesman (or woman) you’ve met recently. These three or four people can be your sounding board for new ideas and give you invaluable feedback.

Set up emergency savings accounts — What would your business do if you became sick or disabled? What if you died?  Beef up your emergency funds. Put 2% of your income away in emergency account until you have at least 3 months of normal business expenses set aside.  You’ll feel smart, savvy and strong.  Make sure you have disability insurance should you be unable to work for several years. Consider key man life insurance for you and your business. Your financial advisor who has affiliations with insurance companies can help you make the best choices for your emergency needs.

Give yourself a goal-savings plan — Stop putting off saving for that house addition, RV or world tour you’ve always wanted. Put aside money every payday. If you already are saving, find a way to increase your monthly contribution by 10%. Having money set aside regularly will increase your feelings of wealth, well-being and success. Even $200 more each month will make a big difference over time for a big-ticket item.

Take time for yourself — Your best employee deserves some break time.  Get a massage.  Take an afternoon off to visit an old friend.  Take your kids to the movies in the afternoon.  Your time off will be well spent if it leaves you feeling more productive and inspired to find ways to create more time in the future. Put it in your day timer and keep that appointment.

Create yourself a new, company-paid benefit — Let the company wash your car once a month, take you and your favorite client to lunch, or buy a new office decoration. A little reward to yourself will make you appreciate your employer and owning your own business.  Don’t forget to check with your accountant to make sure it’s deductible.

Put yourself on the bonus plan — Design a reward and recognition system that will keep you motivated and help to mark your accomplishments. If you’ve recently made some sales goal, buy a memento of the achievement such as a new briefcase. If you’ve made your sales goals for the year; take a weekend retreat with your spouse.

Send yourself to training — Every employee should get the opportunity to learn something new. What do you want to learn? Ask your support team for feedback on where to get the best training for the skill you want. Your employee development plan should include at least 5 days of training each year.

Don’t you just love working for a boss who cares about your
best employee? Hey, that’s also you.  By picking just one of these items and carrying it out, you will have made working for yourself more satisfying. You will have increased your energy to keep going. You will have made another step towards the results you planned to achieve with your business; a better future for yourself and more satisfied with your work.

As a former SCORE Counselor, small business profitability consultant, Certified Financial Planner and active member of the Berks chamber’s small business programs, Merra Lee Moffitt keeps her eye on the pulse of Eastern PA Business.  Having created and built her own 30-person company, she KNOWS how to solve small business problems. A recognized expert on service business issues, Merra Lee can be reached at 888-920-2030 or MerraLee@CaptureProfits.com.  © Copyright 2003 Merra Lee Moffitt.