May 23, 2013 - Welcome to our second guest on this blog! Andrea Herran, Principal of Focus HR, is knowledgeable in the full spectrum of human resources activities. Her passion is in assisting small businesses achieve success through their people. She works alongside entrepreneurs, managers, and owners as a consultant, coach, or mentor. Andrea has lived and worked overseas in Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa.
We asked the popular presenter on HR topics the following questions:
What are some of your favorite HR resources for small business owners and operators (books, websites, magazines, etc.)?
In print there are limited resources. On the internet you can find much more and it is a matter of finding a style you are comfortable with - more casual, step-by-step or thought provoking and formal. There are countless blogs on Human Resources. My own blog, focused on practical and use now information for business owners, can be found at http://FocusHR.biz/blogging
What are a few of the most common mistakes you see small businesses making, and what advice would you give in order for businesses to avoid those mistakes?
The biggest mistake and the most costly (if you’re audited) is not having the proper paperwork for your employees. All employees, regardless of how many you have, need to complete an I9 form (http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf) and read the instructions. Keep the form separate from the employee files. Place the proper posters on your wall where everyone will see them (http://www.illinois.gov/idol/EmployerInformation/Pages/posters.aspx) for State and Federal requirements. Lastly, W4 tax forms.
The other is not being clear on expectations. When someone comes to work for us, we give them some training and then expect them to live up to our expectations. This is wonderful, if the person knows what they are. Most times, we don't take time to write out what we expect a person to do - either generally or very specifically. For example: customer service person is to respond to all inquiries. This is what we tell people which is appropriate but you want the customer called back within a certain time frame. Tell them the time frame - 2 hours, 5 hours, overnight, etc.
What kind of leadership advice can you give women working for or running small businesses?
Be yourself. Don't feel that you have to compete in a man's way. You will gain more respect and clients by being you. Many times we think we need to act like our male counterparts or be "one of the boys". I have had more success by standing out as the girl in the group.
When leading others they can spot fake or someone who doesn't appear comfortable in their own skin. You have to find a leadership style that works for you and allows others to want to work with you. You can read all the leadership books, articles and blogs you like, take in the information and make it your own.
Any quick tips or hints you can give on improving internal (corporate) communication?
This is one of my favorite topics. You need to be able to write in a way that speaks to everyone. Regardless of what you are communicating remember to include the WIIFM (what's in it for me) for your reader. When writing to employees it is not about you, it is about them and why should they take an interest in what you are saying. Apply the information to them, tell a story and make it relevant.
On an individual note, acknowledge people for their hard work, great job or the way they handled a particular situation. While not everyone is looking for public recognition, a pat on the back or a handwritten thank you note can go a long ways.Add a comment
May 16, 2013 - E-readers, check it out! We just added these business titles to our OverDrive collection.
Download these hot-off-the-press titles today...
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May 14, 2013 - Welcome to the first in our new series of guest posts! Nathan Delack, owner of Delack Media Group, graciously answered some of our burning questions about videos for businesses. Thanks, Nathan!
What companies are known for great videos? (who should I be looking for on YouTube for examples)?
If you're looking for social media marketing inspiration, check out The North Face. They're constantly evolving their social platforms, which includes a huge presence on YouTube. Their channel (http://www.youtube.com/thenorthface) has over 1.6 million views with unique content that viewers want to share. Their videos not only include product specs but the brand also uploads lifestyle-related videos; featuring outdoor enthusiasts using their products in beautiful settings. They are creating a dedicated following by providing information the consumer wants without throwing a direct sales pitch.
University of Phoenix doesn't have a huge number of views or subscribers to their channel. However, that isn't important to their online marketing objectives. What's important to them is that they have at least one video that connects with a prospective student who searches for an online school or visits their channel.
The Home Depot (http://www.youtube.com/user/HomeDepot) is a perfect example of how brands can use YouTube to educate their consumer base without being over-the-top in promoting specific products sold. By posting educational how to videos, The Home Depot is: establishing themselves as a trusted expert, indirectly promoting products/tools sold, and giving a personal face to a huge corporation.
Etsy (http://www.youtube.com/user/etsy), the online marketplace for handcrafted items, runs regular profile videos of its members on their YouTube channel. The message portrayed to the viewer through their "Handmade Portraits" series is that they care about their sellers. They also run "How to Tuesdays", where members share their advice frequently via video with other users.
What kind of equipment/software do you recommend for those just getting started with video marketing (and on a budget)?
It is possible to create online video content with a shoestring budget. The question to ask yourself is...will the videos I create match my company's current image and branding? You can easily create an online video with your iPhone on a tripod, iMovie, and a lavalier microphone. Video gear can also reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. So, it's important to set a budget and work within that budget for equipment purchases.
How can small businesses promote their videos, in addition to YouTube and their websites?
Definitely post your videos on your website. A video on your website makes your website look great. It's an instant eye-catcher and has been proven to improve user interaction on your site. If you already have social media fans, that's the perfect way to distribute your video content quickly and to the largest number of people. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all recommended avenues for onilne distribution. The video might catch one of your fan's eyes and they might share it with people you could never imagine reaching. Those people can share it with others and so on. This is all free advertising! If you have a blog, email campaigns or e-newsletters, embed your video in those as well. Industry blogs are always looking for content. Contact blogs specific to your industry and ask about their guidelines for submission. You can also put your YouTube URL on business cards, letterhead, and print/direct mail. If you want to get real creative, you can have your video looping on an in-store display, at a trade show/conference, or on a mobile billboard. The possibilities are endless and are completely up to your creativity!
What influences of ever-changing technology do you see in your field?
Technology is always changing. There's a new piece of equipment coming out every week. The way to distribute content is always changing. Vine, which is Twitter's video app, was just released about 100 days ago. I always encourage people not to get caught up in the gear. Focus on the content. Identify your audience and define how video can best serve them. Create meaningful content viewers will want to share. Develop an online video marketing strategy that best fits your industry and then ask yourself...what can I do to take this one step further?
Nathan Delack has over 20 years of video production experience and is an award-winning broadcast photojournalist and accomplished video producer, director, speaker, & instructor. Nathan has worked for various broadcast television stations within the top 70 DMA and has been responsible for creating thousands of television and internet videos. He’s received 7 Emmy and numerous industry awards for his broadcast television work. In 2009, he created Delack Media Group (www.DelackMediaGroup.com), which is based in Barrington, Illinois. Under his leadership, Delack Media Group has helped produce videos for clients ranging in size from small non-profits to large Fortune 500s.Add a comment
May 10, 2013 - The library has lots of resume books on the shelf waiting for you. Take a look at these titles when polishing your resume to make sure your marketing materials stand out (click cover to place a hold):
Don't forget The Careers College database. Learning Module (LM) #3 discusses resumes and how your can make sure your information makes it to interview stage. Access this database at the library, or Barrington cardholders can sign in from home.
Our Adult Learning Center is also accessible remotely to Barrington cardholders (or at the library for everyone). Upload your resume to have it critiqued by a reviewer, and download their comments and suggestions the next day.
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April 16, 2013 - Money Smart Week is almost here. Have you signed up for any of our special programs?
You can also tune in here on Saturday, April 20 at 9 am (CST) to watch Detroit Public Television's special Money Smart Week program Be A Money Smarty. Check back right here for the live webcast.
Created by Mark B. Robinson CIMA® AIFA® specifically for Money Smart Week, the Be a Money Smarty! presentation will be delivered in a high-energy ‘lightning round’ fashion, where 4 recognized experts ‘leave it all at the podium’ and share their ‘top 5 tips’ in just 10 minutes. Hosted by veteran television talent, Christy McDonald, this program will now be made available live, in real-time, via web stream, at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 20th. In this entertaining and informative lightning round format, you’ll obtain the latest, up-to-date information on today’s hottest money topics, including how to:
- Establish-Use-Maintain Credit, Manage Debt; Michigan State University Extension Educator Erica Tobe.
- Avoid Scams, Fraud, Identity Theft; Michigan Department of Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division Chief Katharyn Barron.
- Understand Annuities and Long-term Care Insurance; New England Financial-a MetLife Company Managing Partner Mike Amine.
- Get Control Over Your Money, Now: Mark B. Robinson, CIMA® AIFA® is the Be A Money Smarty! developer and moderator.
Free to view and free from sales pitches, you’ll receive top-notch information from a source you can trust; and no one will try to sell you anything! Developed and presented by Mark B. Robinson CIMA® AIFA® along with experts in debt, credit, housing, annuities, long-term care insurance, scams, identity theft and investment fraud, Be A Money Smarty! will be sure to entertain and inform. Tune in and get smart quick!
As a production of Detroit Public Television, the Be A Money Smarty! program will be made available for free on Saturday, April 20th at http://www.dptv.org/moneysmartyAdd a comment
Join us on Tuesday, April 9, at 7 PM as we welcome Nick Sarillo of Nick's Pizza & Pub!
Nick Sarillo is the founder, CEO and “primary keeper” of the Purpose and Operational Values of Nick’s Pizza & Pub (Elgin & Crystal Lake) – the sixth busiest independent pizza company in per-store sales in the United States. Nick’s Pizza & Pub has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant and boasts an 80 percent employee retention rate in an industry in which the average annual turnover is nearly 150 percent. Nick credits his company’s success to his purpose-driven culture, which is the focus of his new book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business. Nick is a regular speaker at entrepreneurship and HR conferences, and his insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Inc., Fast Company and Investor’s Business Daily.
We're delighted to welcome Nick to the Barrington Area Library, along with our cosponsors at the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce.
Share Nick's wisdom and insights for free, along with a sample of his famous pizza! Tuesday, April 9, 7 PM - seating is limited, please register online NOW for this fantastic opportunity.
March 18, 2013 - It is hard to miss seeing Sheryl Sandberg's smiling face and this book cover image on the news/internet/everywhere at the moment. If you haven't had a chance to read what all the buzz is about, reserve a library copy of "Lean In" by clicking here. (Also, some great interviews with the author here, here and here!). You can also place a hold on the e-book in Overdrive.
Here are some additional titles available at the library about women in leadership.
While you are waiting for "Lean In" in arrive, out some of the great resources for women in business offered by Illinois WorkNet, the Small Business Administration, and the Barrington Chamber of Commerce:
Women Business Owners Symposium & Webinar
The Women's Business Development Department of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity will be presenting a Women Business Owners Symposium at the UIC Forum on March 29, 2013 from 8:30 am-3:00pm.
On March 26, 2013 at 1:00pm, Illinois workNet will be hosting a webinar featuring guest speakers who will be panelists at the Symposium, Ms. Joanne Tica-Steiger, Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative and Ms. Meg Herman, Director of Entrepreneurial Services at the Women's Business Development Center-Chicago. They will answer many of your questions about opening your own business, getting started, facing challenges, and finding resources and supportive services.
At the national level, "SBA provides resources to help women business owners to succeed. From registering your business, to hiring your first employee, we’re here to help you start and grow your small business." Find links to a wealth of information & resources specific to women business owners here.
And last but not least, at the local level, consider groups like Barrington's own Women's BizNet, a networking group that is part of the Barrington Chamber of Commerce. Attend educational & informational networking lunches with other women business owners and community members in the area.
Ladies, what else are we missing? Or what additional resources would be useful for you? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!Add a comment
Don't Miss This!
DROP OFF OLD ELECTRONICS AT THE BARRINGTON COMMUNITY EXPO SATURDAY, MARCH 9
Gather up all the "retired" electronics from around your home and office and bring them to the Barrington Community Expo this Saturday, March 9 between 10am and noon, when Vintage Tech Recyclers will be accepting used electronics. Drop-off is free and open to the public at the Expo site, Langendorf Park Fitness and Recreation Center, 235 Lions Dr. in Barrington.
Accepted items: computers, wires and cables, scanners, laptops, computer parts, microwave ovens, CRTs and LCDs, battery back-ups, cell phones, monitors, computer mice, CD/VCR/DVD players, printers, keyboards, stereo equipment, TVs, MP3 players, fax machines, PDAs, video game consoles.
Recycling raw materials from end-of-life electronics is the most effective solution to the rapid and ever-growing e-waste problem. Most electronic devices contain a variety of materials that can be recovered for future uses.
Consider these recycling facts:
- In the U.S., 300-400 million electronic items become obsolete every year - but less than 20 percent of that e-waste is recycled.
- The average American household has at least 24 electronic products.
- Recycling one million desktop computers prevents the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of 16,000 passenger cars.
- By recycling 100 million cell phones, approximately 7,500 pounds of gold could be recovered - allowing that amount of gold to go into new products.
- One metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the U.S.
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 US homes in a year.
Don't add to our already overfilled landfills - there IS a better way to get rid of those old electronics!Join the Barrington Chamber and Vintage Tech Recyclers to help the environment - bring your unwanted electronics to the Barrington Community Expo this Saturday, March 9 from10:00am til noon.
The annual, family themed, admission-free Barrington Expo this year features more than 40 exhibitors, including a health care fair and the Lions Hearing Screening van; family entertainment with a performance by the Bataille Academie of the Danse (11am-noon) and pictures with Elmo; child ID fingerprinting by the Barrington Police Dept.; and concessions by Francesca's Famiglia.
Along with plenty of raffles, giveaways, and prizes, everyone who visits the Expo is eligible to register for a chance to win a $500 Barrington-area shopping spree.
For information about the Expo, visit www.barringtonchamber.com or call Christina Keeley, 847-381-2525 or email email@example.com. For more information about Vintage Tech Recyclers and recycling services, visit www.vintagetechrecyclers.com
The Barrington Community Expo is proudly presented by the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce
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March 6, 2013 - From Illinois WorkNet:
Are you tired of navigating the maze of "resume help" online? If so, register to attend this great webinar to get first-hand advice on resumes from our panel of experts. They will cover a series of questions and review resume examples with you in real-time. Make sure to come ready with questions!
This webinar will address the different types of resumes, give you the must haves and things to avoid at all costs, and provide practical guidelines for selecting the best resume format for the situation.
This is the first in a two part series to help you showcase your talents.
There will be two sessions for this webinar:
March 19th at 10:00 a.m. (CST)
March 21st at 1:00 p.m. (CST)
February 19, 2013 - The Barrington Area Library is pleased to present local business Fancy Art. Located at 113 E. Main St. in Barrington, Fancy Art is in a central area of our community. Learn more about the artwork and services available at Fancy Art in this video. For more information, visit http://www.fancyartnfp.com/ or call 877-FNCY-ART or 847-307-4045.Add a comment
- New business books in Overdrive
- IRS tax assistance for small businesses
- Tips for attending job fairs from Illinois WorkNet
- Become a twitter expert!
- Something for everyone...
- How the Cloud can benefit your business:
- The Careers College at the Barrington Area Library
- Barrington Business: Acacia Organics
- Data Security Requirements for Businesses
- Business programs: January 2013