Time for Your Annual Checkup
Key Questions for Small Business Owners
Robert Half Management Resources has identified 10 key questions for small business owners to address when conducting an annual business checkup:
1. Is it time to update your financial systems? Outdated systems can hinder business performance. Identify a project manager to oversee the update and consider the impact on internal personnel during implementation, integration and staff training.
2. Does your company have three-, five- and 10-year business plans? Determine if you have the intellectual capital to drive your company’s growth. Have an expert determine if projected growth is attainable.
3. Is your business secure? E-mail viruses, worms, unauthorized systems access and data theft can leave a company vulnerable. Check security systems and technical support safeguards, and update employees on policies and guidelines for protecting the company’s systems.
4. Are business costs under control? Prior to the annual budget review, brainstorm ways to help offset rising healthcare and other general business expenses.
5. Are you adhering to current accounting best practices? Consider how your existing financial team can enhance its knowledge of best practices in accounting procedures. Key staff members can benefit from attending industry conferences or training courses.
6. Have you experienced another taxing tax season? Companies should have qualified accounting and finance professionals in place to identify tax-saving opportunities and make sure all necessary paperwork is in order.
7. How do you rate on the corporate governance scale? Determine how you are affected by regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, HIPAA, the USA PATRIOT Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
8. Are you holding onto your best people? Offer competitive compensation and benefits to help your organization recruit and retain qualified employees.
9. Are you losing market share to the competition? Ask clients and business associates if the company measures up to the competition, and solicit ideas to improve products, services and customer satisfaction ratings.
10. Has your company been a victim of fraud? Bring in internal auditors to work with accounting and other departments. They can implement checks and balances to help improve internal controls and prevent fraud.
Who Will Win the Talent War?
Ajilon Professional Staffing has issued a white paper on the impending talent war for increasingly scarce skilled employees. Ajilon advises that companies need to acknowledge this potential talent shortage and prepare themselves for a high-demand, low-supply job market. Some of its findings include:
By 2010, it is expected that the U.S. will face a shortage of 10,033,000 workers. Seventy million baby boomers are expected to retire over the next 15 years and only 40 million workers will enter the workforce in the same period.
Service industries that require knowledgeable workers with a degree of specialized skills will be hit the hardest.
Technology and scientific innovation demand that employees work faster and more efficiently than ever.
This talent war will initiate a more in-depth vetting process to ensure potential employees fit a company’s culture and that they can meet and successfully beat the challenges a job presents.
As the talent war heats up, the market may force companies to offer substantially higher compensation to new employees.
Training managers will have an increasingly important role in grooming new talent, because training will be a key component in maintaining the workforce.
Supermarkets Celebrate 75th Anniversary
This year marks the 75th anniversary of a uniquely American innovation: the supermarket. Created during the Great Depression, the supermarket first delivered self-service and low prices, then boundless variety, healthy fresh foods, one-stop shopping and convenient prepared foods, and now gourmet, ethnic and organic offerings.
The first supermarket was a King Kullen store that opened August 4, 1930 in Queens, N.Y. This store, comparable to today’s no-frills warehouse outlets, served as the catalyst for a new age in food retailing, selling more than 1,000 products.
According to the Food Marketing Institute, key to the early success of the supermarket were the shopping cart, introduced in 1937, the automobile, free parking lots and mechanical refrigerators in the home and store. The Institute reports that the supermarket helped America:
Endure the Great Depression: The impoverished American public welcomed the unprecedented low prices, boundless variety and the opportunity to select products directly from the shelves.
Create the middle class: The supermarket’s low prices freed up substantial funds for families to spend on cars, homes, education and other needs and amenities of life.
End the Cold War: Between 1958 and 1988, some 50,000 Soviet citizens traveled to the U.S., most touring an American supermarket on their trip. The supermarket showcased how a free-market economy could deliver abundant, affordable food and became a metaphor for what capitalism could do and Communism could not.
Lower food costs: The cost of food today is nearly 6 percent of disposable U.S. family income, the lowest of any country in the world, and down from 21 percent in 1930 and 50 percent in the 19th century.
Pioneer new technologies: Supermarkets have led implementation of technologies designed to improve efficiency and customer service, most notably the bar code, now scanned more than 5 billion times a day worldwide.