This post was inspired by Michael E. Gerber book, “The E-Myth.”
Many people say, “I want to be my own boss.” The thinking is that since they’ve got some marketable skills, they’ll be successful in business. Plus, they won’t have to answer to anyone and can set their own hours.
The truth is that when you’re self-employed, your boss is a jerk. You work holidays and late evenings or early mornings. You aren’t truly the boss; your work is. And work has no essence of time or empathy.
However, being a business owner is an entirely different ballgame.
On the surface, there appears to be no difference between a self-employed individual and a business owner. Both require a business license; there may or may not be an office. In reality, the difference lies under the surface: it’s all in the mindset.
If you think of yourself as self-employed, that’s all you’ll ever be. And you’ll be stuck toiling the days and nights away, since your boss is your work.
However, if you’re a business owner, you are truly the boss. Your work works for you. So do your employees, if you have them already. Business owners who accept help have much more time to think strategically and enjoy life outside of their business.
Thinking about learning a new language? You might want to consider making that language shorthand.
If you’ve been an office administrator or executive assistant for several years, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of shorthand. But what exactly is it?
According to Wikipedia, “Shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to a normal method of writing a language.”
Here’s an example of what shorthand looks like:
Basically, shorthand pretty much looks like gibberish to anyone who doesn’t know it.
The use of shorthand, also referred to a stenography, dates back to Ancient Greece, but has been used and adapted for years. In fact, there are several different kinds of shorthand, the two most popular being:
As I write this article, I’m six miles above the ground, on my way to Germany with not a single team member on the plane. In other words, I’m working virtually. Because we’ve got the right procedures and technology in place, the team can basically carry on as if I were back in San Diego.
Virtual teams are no longer a hypothetical discussion by the prophets of the 90’s; they’re a reality today. There are a few factors that have converged to create and allow for this climate such as a global economy, reliable technology, and a *mostly* tech-enabled world (full disclosure: I’m typing this article on my iPhone as there are no power outlets for my laptop on the plane–so we’re not quite there yet).
It turns out that I’m not alone: according to a Society for Human Resources Study, 46% of organizations polled use virtual teams. Naturally, virtual teamwork is even more common in large multinational companies, with 66% reporting the use of virtual teams.
That’s a lot of virtual communication! However, before we address how companies succeed in this, it’s important to understand why organizations operate this way.
In 2013, news stations were a flurry with coverage of 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani who found a way to save the federal government $136 million each year: change the standard typeface from Times New Roman to Garamond. Garamond is an elegant serif font like Times New Roman, but has thinner and smaller letters. Thinner letters = less ink.
Typography nerds and the cost conscious rejoiced!
However, there was one big problem: the Garamond typeface was compared with the Times New Roman typeface, both at size 12. However, not all font sizes are created equal. Garamond at size 12 is naturally smaller than Times New Roman at size 12. Therefore, the government may need to print Garamond at 13 points, which uses slightly more ink than at 12 points, thus negating the cost saving effects of Garamond. Oops
Regardless, bravo to Mirchandani for his resourcefulness and to you as well for seeking out ways to conserve ink and thus save money.
Luckily for all of us, we don’t have to conduct a massive study to learn how to reduce our use of ink.
Here are some tried and true ways to conserve ink:
Flexible work arrangements, flex hours, flexible schedules–whatever you want to call it–one thing remains the same: flexibility. Offering employees flexibility in their hours shows that you trust them and fuels empowerment. Even the President supports flexible working hours.
However, flexible work arrangements shouldn’t be entered into lightly and may not be for every workplace.
They have quite a few pros such as:
They also have potential cons:
- Communication difficulties
- Hampering of innovation
- A decrease in productivity (Yes, the opposite is also listed as a pro)
If you’re contemplating a flexible work arrangement for your employees, here are the steps we suggest taking:
The words stress and burnout and are often used interchangeably. “I’m feeling stressed,” and “I’m feeling burned out,” are usually both used to communicate the same thing: that we are doing too much and are paying for it.
While stress and burnout are related, they aren’t the same thing.
Stress is usually short-lived. You might be stressed because of a project you have to finish by tomorrow or because you’re running late for a meeting. You know the feeling: your heart is racing and you’re quick to anger. Burnout is what happens when that stress is felt for a long time. Healthguide.com’s article puts it perfectly when it states, “If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up.”
It turns out that burnout is much more serious than stress.
According to Psychology Today, burnout “is a state of chronic stress that leads to:
- Physical and emotional exhaustion
- Cynicism and detachment
- Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment”
As you can see, burnout affects it’s suffers on a deeper level than stress. What does burnout look like?
Oh, the holidays! Sweaters, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and … lowered productivity.
What causes this slump near the holidays?
- Online shopping. According to CareerBuilder’s 2013 Cyber Monday Study, 54% of employees shop online, while on the clock.
- Holiday parties. Preparing for–or recovering from–holiday parties definitely lowers productivity.
- Gloomy weather. Not everyone is based in sunny San Diego like we are here at TonerHaus. Gloomy weather and the accompanying cabin fever can lead to lowered moods during the winter, with the extreme being Seasonal Affective Disorder.
It’s great when holiday cheer abounds in your office, but business also must continue. How can you strike that delicate balance between working hard and playing hard during the holidays?
Every third news article seems to be about ebola. Ebola certainly sounds scary. However, statistically, it’s not as scary as the flu. Business owners and office managers have an important duty, especially in cold and flu season, to help prevent the spread of viruses throughout the office. That’s a big task! But an important one.
The impact will not only be felt by employees: healthy employees are actually good for your business’ bottom line. According to the CDC, the flu alone ends up costing U.S. companies $10.4 billion annually. Add productivity-destroying viruses into the mix and companies are in bad shape.
Luckily, there are several things you can offer to employees or encourage of them to prevent the spread of colds and flus in your office:
You need to print and ship a package of important documents TODAY. All the final edits are made, and the packaging materials are lined up. However … the printer isn’t holding up its end of the bargain and now there’s something blinking on the printer’s LCD display. That’s enough to ruin your day!
If you’ve followed the instructions regarding any error messages displayed by the printer and have turned the printer off and back on again, but still have no luck, don’t lose hope: it may not be time to call printer support just yet.
The first and most obvious step is to look up the error message in the printer manual and follow the troubleshooting instructions it provides.
It’s also important to know that Microsoft has a program called Fix It that can help you diagnose and treat printer problems. If that doesn’t help, know that many printers also have online communities to address problems specific to their model. HP has a print and scan doctor and Canon has a vast database of videos.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common and easily solved office printer problems. Maybe you’ll be able to send that document today after all.
Two of the most common job interview questions are, “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” If you’ve ever sought advice on acing an interview, you may have been told to spin your weaknesses into positives. While this may fool impressionable hiring managers, there is no fooling yourself: to be successful, especially in a leadership role, you must know yourself. This begins with knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
Great! Now, where do you start?
Depending upon how much experience you have, you may already have a sense of your strengths and weaknesses. However, a sense is just that: a sense. Knowing yourself requires that you take a non-biased look in the proverbial mirror to reflect upon things that you already know about yourself, things that surprise you, and things that you’d like to improve about yourself. This can be a very difficult thing to do as identifying your strengths requires more than just 10 minutes of list-making.