Category Archives: Management

Was your business decision wrong, or was it just a bad quarter?

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Making business decisions is hard. Sometimes I think about a business decision and rethink it for years. I often come out with completely different solutions as time goes on. The problem is that assessing a business decision after the fact is not so easy.

Let’s say you decide to add more workers to your company, but then profits went down in the 3rd quarter. Did profits go down because you added new workers, or was it just a bad quarter? You have to take a closer view at what really happened with the new workers, and where the loss of profits was incurred.

I made a stupid decision last month. I tested my analytics after I removed many of our older reviews and added mobile pages at the same time. Since I did two changes at the same time, I cannot know if the decline in my stats was because my reviews were removed, or because Google didn’t like my mobile pages. Hmm. When you make changes to your business, if you want to get a clear analysis of the results of your change, you have to make one change at a time and measure the change over a reasonable period of time — and what is reasonable may vary based on what type of change you made.

Large companies like Samuel Adams experience huge ups and downs purely based on quarterly income. My stock plummetted two days after I purchased it. I lose 15% in a day. Then, I had to wait six months and they had a good quarter and the stock went up to 1.5% above where I purchased it at. So, I sold it because I decided that I didn’t like the volatility.

Another mistake is to base business decisions on short-term results. Sometimes business decisions might help you five to ten years down the road and you can’t measure what happens the following quarter when assessing long term plans. It is common for Asian auto manufacturers to sell cars at below cost to get the market moving overseas. They will wait for a decade and then start selling cars at cost, and twenty years before they make a profit. I might be exaggerating here, but long term business practices require patience, and if you have no patience, perhaps being a business man is not the right career for you!

How to Outsource Your Entire Business

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Why Small Businesses Have to Spend Money to Make Money with Outsourcing

Outsourcing is the new buzzword in online business. After all, why do a job yourself when you can get someone else to do it at a lower ultimate price? With around 100,000 e-commerce businesses generating significant income online today, it’s no wonder that people are looking to get more bang for their buck to be in with a chance of topping the competition. But, like with any service that feeds into any business, outsourcing needs to be done properly to work well.

The simple economics of ROI for outsourcing
It’s tempting to just go for the cheapest option available when it comes to outsourcing, thinking that this will give you the biggest profit margin in the long run. But for the process to be effective, you need to think in terms of return on investment for a smart and long-term result. If you choose someone to write content for your website at 1 cent per 200 words, for example, your initial outlay will be small – but do you really think you’ll get highly attractive content that will bring in traffic and encourage conversions? The simple answer is: no. Instead, consider paying 2 or 3 cents per 100 words, increasing your initial expenditure, but creating authority and lasting value for your website visitors that will drive sales, conversions, and shares in the long terms and win you a much better ROI.

A careful selection process
When it comes to choosing a freelancer to outsource work to, it’s better to have a process in place that determines whether an individual fits your specific needs. Rather than a scattergun approach that welcomes applications from all and sundry, focus your requirements, spending the time or money to create a decent advertisement and provide a routine set of questions for candidates to answer. This will save money, time, and stress in the long term.

Contact the specialists
Running the gamut of sifting through the thousands of freelancers available for outsourcing across the globe can be a gruelling process littered with traps for the unsuspecting small business owner. By 2020, one in two business-people may be freelancers, evidence of the growing trend and overwhelming number of potentials to choose from. Consider using the services of a reliable outsourcing agency like ours, with a directory of freelancers, including verified information on past work, proof of qualifications and aptitudes, and a sophisticated system of managing correspondence between you for time-effectiveness.

How often do you give raises?

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How often do you give raises? The art of raises and rewarding your employees for deserved behavior, but avoiding running the risk of overly rewarding them and making them think they deserve another raise before they’ve earned it.

My solution was to give raises every 90 days to full-time people and every 180 days to part-time. I realize that this is a powerful strategy, however there were a few kinks to work out. Someone full time will feel a sense of moving up in the world if they are always getting raises. Keep in mind that you need to set their starting salary a little lower for them to merit raises. Also keep in mind that they need to merit the raises with an increase skill set and hard work. Most people are very short sighted which is why 90 days raises are so effective. Google uses this strategy by the way! After a year or two, the raises will become a little smaller. You also have to give people more responsibility otherwise they will not feel useful. Letting them learn new skills is very important to many employees who want to feel like they are growing, while others specifically do not want to grow at all.

The flaw in my system is that my part-timers seem to put in as much time as they feel like. This is not good for long-term employment. Those who are not reliable in their hours will not last long, or will not be that valuable as employees. It seems more sensible to have a starting wage while in training. Then have them put in 400 hours before getting a raise. If they are slow pokes and do five hours a week, it might be two years before their first raise. But, this way the raise is based not only on how much they learned and produced, but how much loyalty and hours they put in too which is a very important factor.

Someone who sticks with you in the long run is valuable, especially when combined with versatile work skills. So, reward people for everything.

These days with millennials, especially in India, there is a lot of job hopping. You cannot get ahead in any career by job hopping. But the time you half know what you are doing, you’ll be at the next company. For managers, knowing they have someone good to do a job is important. How well will they know your work if you hop from job to job? If you are dealing with perpetual job hoppers, I would give them a lower starting salary simply because you’ll have to invest time hiring and training them only to have them quit. Let them pay for this out of their salary and reward them later on if they stay.

Every time you call and get someone charismatic will make your business seem amazing

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When people call your business, what kind of people do they get to talk to? Do your prospects or customers talk to smart people, dumb people, helpful people, ignorant people, or charismatic people? If you give your customers a good phone experience, that can make quite an impression. Charismatic people might not come cheap, but neither is losing out on hundreds of great customers that you are losing by hiring losers to answer your phone.

Nobody has to know the truth about your company. Nobody has to know that you hire lousy people. If people call and get to talk to a different interesting person every time they call, they will have the impression that everybody that works for you is amazing. The truth might be that only four out of two hundred is amazing, but the customers won’t know that unless they visit your office. And even if people visit your office, have the charismatic people jump out at them and chat them up and offer them some coffee or chai.

It doesn’t matter what the ratio of great employees is to terrible ones. What matters is the perceived ratio. If every interaction I have with your staff is amazing, I will have an amazing impression. If most of your workers are amazing, but you only let me talk to the terrible ones, my impression will be terrible. You can manufacture an experience at your company, so design it the right way to make the right impression.

You can’t be behind when you behead

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The joke is that extremists in Iraq who like to cut people’s heads off were late to an appointment. All of their friends were there wearing ski masks with the video equipment ready, but two guys were late to the beheading. The leader of this satirical extremist group scolded them on their tardiness and said, “You can’t be behind when you behead! Next time will be your last!!!” The late guys said, “Gulp?”

But, having a business is just like fighting a war. You are in a sense beheading the competition or getting your head chopped off by them. If you are always behind on your work, your business will never grow. Your customers will always be upset with you for your sluggishness. Most businesses want to use manpower efficiently and make sure that each labor resource is used to its maximum. The problem with this is that you won’t have time for last minute emergency projects, not will you have time if existing projects take longer than anticipated.

If you want to grow your business, hire more people, buy more computers, buy more inventory, make things bigger. If you have a little extra available labor resources, your business can grow. If you are always up to capacity, there is no room to grow. The analogy is having a city on an island. If the city takes up all of the island like Singapore, then there is nowhere to grow unless you find a way to build into the water. You need new land to put your buildings and farms.

So, stop being behind. Start finding ways to have more labor capacity and more managers ready to assist. Have people who are ready to answer phones who can communicate well. I wonder what the Mayans would say about this article — they did lots of beheading back in the day!

Solid business practices never change

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Solid business practices never change. You can learn new technology, but good old quality customer service never dies. So many companies these days claim to be experts on Facebook, or have some fancy application that tracks the progress of your hi-tech project. Others claim to be experts in some fancy topic. When you boil it down, certain principles in business never change. Here they are:

1. Writing Skills
Some people are “Twitter experts.” Being good on Twitter amounts to having good writing skills. The actual skill to be able to run a Twitter account is not rocket science. You follow, unfollow, like, retweet, and post. Those skills you can learn in minutes and master in a few months. The harder skills are writing skills. If you didn’t do well at school, and if you are not talented as a writer, you won’t do well on Twitter. Furthermore, the type of writing skill used on Twitter is much harder than article writing. You need to be able to pack a punch in 140 characters including a link. If your post doesn’t grab attention, and the right type of attention, your Twitter account will never make it in the big leagues and worse yet — Kim Kardashian will never recognize you!

2. Prompt Communication
Some people think that because they are a genious programmer or that they work for a fancy company with a good name that is what is important. Not so. Being good at basic activities such as answering simple emails determines your success in business. If I am shopping around for companies and email twenty companies, the ones that email me back first with thoughtful answers to my queries will be most likely to get the job. Those that either don’t answer, or answer my email only to ask me questions without answer my questions will not be hired by me. It’s that simple. Those who answer their phone and return messages promptly win the game.

3. Good Communication
If you have an outsourcing company in some foreign country with an outstanding technical staff, then you are the right company to hire right? WRONG! You are the wrong company to hire because you put a moron on phones who is so incompetent that he/she/it cannot even answer the question, “What city are you in” without putting you on hold to transfer you to someone with half a brain. Put people with at least 3/4’s of a brain on phones, otherwise nobody respectable will ever hire you!

4. Meeting Deadlines
It doesn’t matter how good you are if you are never on time. Projects need to get done correctly and on time. If you get the job done, but leave bugs or errors, then you have to go back and fix those errors. If you take forever about fixing them, nobody with choices will hire you. Find a way to get your work done on time and every time, and that way people will trust you and respect you.

5. Pleasing Customers
I read somewhere that less than 1% of clients are satisfied with the service they receive from most businesses. This is a very vague and useless statistic, but the point is that most customers are not satisfied. If you can satisfy clients, you will be in the top 1% and you might get lots of referrals. You don’t need high tech 2016 type knowledge of cloud computing to figure out how to please a client. Find out what they want by paying attention to feedback and perhaps asking them what they want — and then give it to them. This is not brain surgery here — it is basic common sense.

6. Staying Open
If you are always closed whenever customers want to talk to you, they will find someone else to talk to. If you have a store that’s always closed (like the bagel store down the street) then people will get out of the habit of going there. If you run a BPO which is closed for every Indian holiday, and a few that you just made up because you didn’t want to go to work — your customers will put your company on a permanent holiday. Spend more days at work, or at least have a few staff members keeping shop open on holidays and weekends so your American clients will not feel you are playing hookey!

7. Hire People With Integrity
People hire based on technical skills and social skills, but the most important “skill” is integrity. Those who do not care about what they do, or about people they work with will not be good workers in the end. You need people who do not drop the ball, but pick up the ball when others drop it. You need people who will make sure the job gets done correctly no matter what. Most employees couldn’t care less, and flake on all types of things. Employees who will be pillars in your organization need to care and be conscientious about everything for your organization to succeed. You can teach someone with integrity technical skills, but you cannot teach integrity. That is something you either have or don’t have and it grows much more slowly within people. A technical skill can be learned in a year. Character can take several lifetimes to build and God knows what the result will be.

8. Don’t Bit Off More Than You Can Chew
Many new businesses want to start off fast and grow like crazy. You need to grow at the speed of nature. Start small, and build your way up to the top learning basic business fundementals the whole time. Those who are stable and succeed in the long run are stable and base their business on old-school business strategies which are solid. Those who try to grow too fast, also fall the hardest. In business, there is more to lose than to gain, so go slow so you don’t get yourself and others into big trouble.

Optimizing your processes at your BPO

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If you run a BPO or other business, there are many processes that you are involved in. The key to success in business is to know where to allocate your resources. If you put too much effort into one thing, you will have less resources for other endeavors that might be more critical

Example 1:
I was making calls to all of our new service providers and helping them fill out their listing. I saw it was taking up too much of my schedule and I had no time to take walks. Now, I just ask two questions, take notes on how they communicate and go on to the next listing. I now have time to focus more on marketing.

Example 2:
I was spending time running six social media campaigns. After analyzing the stats several times, I realized that one of them was getting more traffic. So, I cut down my time working on the others and focused on the winner which was Facebook. I am now putting double the effort into Facebook and getting 20 times the results. I plan to put even more time into it.

Example 3:
I was tweeting dozens of posts on Twitter. Later on I decided to see which ones were getting shares, and which were getting clicks. I also experimented with alternative titles. The result was that the posts that had merit were shared much more, and the other posts were not shared at all. I saved time and got a lot more clicks.

Example 4:
My friend needed to hire people, but interviewing took too much time. So, he formulated a bunch of questions for his assistant to ask the applicants. My buddy would scan the results of the interview questions and then schedule a second interview with those he liked. He cut out 80% of the time he was spending before with interviews.

Example 5:
A friend in India had 20 employees. They all had lunch from 12 to 1. He thought about how much work could be done if he starved his employees, and he did. Several threatened to quit, although they were so weak from not eating that their threats were in a weak tone of voice. So, he decided to have lunch delivered to the office, and they ate all together, and then had twenty minutes to take a walk around the block. Their lunch went from 60 minutes to 40 minutes, so the boss got more work out of them without losing any employees to starvation.

Thats all for now, but if you take a closer look at the hundreds of processes your company does, there are better ways, and more efficient ways to do them all.


Is Amazon too tough on their workers?

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Rumors are that Amazon management tolerates nothing less than peak performance out of their workers. The workplace is intense and often cutthroat. Workers who have health problems, other personal issues, or who just can’t measure up often get penalized or fired.

Two Times reporters wrote a 7000 word piece on Amazon after they had interviewed many current and former Amazon employees. They wrote about the grueling and competitive conditions the workers had to endure. After Jeff Bezos read this featured article, even he wrote a letter stating he would not tolerate the “shockingly callous management practices” described in the article. He urged employees to contact her directly if they heard of abuses.

However, reviews on Glassdoor indicated that 82% of employees approve of CEO Bezos and most would recommend Amazon to a friend. A program manager in Seattle wrote that Amazon had small teams, interesting and innovative projects, and very smart people. There were quiet work areas, a beautiful campus, and a startup feel. To me, it sounds a lot like Google. There were many mixed reviews on Amazon with the pros commenting on the vibrant fast paced culture while the cons were more about the office politics.

My feeling is that the companies that are getting ahead today like Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. tend to embrace a high energy culture of overachievers who work in an innovative setting creating new and better ways for society to function, buy, sell, and enjoy life. If workers want to work in a slower paced company, an innovative front-line company doesn’t seem like a good place. Becoming a librarian in a small Tennessee town seems like a better idea for someone who wants a quiet, yet fulfilling life. But, on the other hand, companies that make their workers put in too many hours can burn people out. In the long run, we need quality of life, not just some success that leads to ultimate burnout. And when we get pregnant or have personal problems, it is nice if our company understands what we are going through. After all, we’re all human (my cat is nodding her head at this point.) Well, she is not human, but the rest of us are!

You might also like:

Is it time to Uber-size your outsourcing business?

Young workers want a positive social atmosphere

America invented and forgot about customer service

Compilation of best managementv& success blogs

When you slow down, I slow down

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I have noticed that in my handling of people who work for me, I tend to mirror their behavior. When I first hire someone, I am very attentive to them. In fact, I normally delay hiring new people until they will be able to have my full attention. There is a lot I will have to explain to them and a lot I would need to do to check up on them.

Since I am very short of time most of the time, I have to prioritize where my time goes. If I am not done on a project, and someone needs my help. I have to choose. Should I delay my project to deal with someone’s project or finish my BPO project? If that new helper is putting in a lot of hours helping me, I would be more likely to get back to them quickly since I value them. Please keep in mind that I hire freelancers which might be part of the problem. On the other hand, if they slack off, and deliver far less than they promised me, I tend to keep them waiting as they are no longer critical to my survival. If someone quits who doesn’t do much, I am not losing much either.

In real life, I need to find a way to get more done and always be ahead on my schedule so I have time to deal with hirees. That way I never have to keep anyone waiting. I hope I find a way. That means outsourcing a higher percentage of my work so I’m not bogged down as much. Another thing that I need to think about is hiring people who speed me up, so I mirror their behavior, because I am always behaving like a mirror!

How I cut five hours a month off my routine

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I have a routine for how I do my work. Everything I do is regimented to a point. I have a routine and system for everything. However, those routines evolve over time. I get rid of some, refine others, and create new ones as well. Part of my system for running several directories is to give a welcome call to new members. I used to spend a long time on these calls. However, I realized that those who couldn’t give straight answers to questions didn’t do well on our outsourcing directory in the long run and did poorly on test questions indicating poor competency. So, I learned a shortcut. If people I called did poorly on basic questions, I learned from experienced (and tracking numbers) that they would do poorly in the long run. So, I ended the call with these people early. That way, I could spend more time with those who showed promise and future potential. The key here is not to spend less time but to invest your time in people who are worthy and end correspondence with those who aren’t.

If you want to rise to the next level in business, the most valuable skill you can learn is how to allocate your valuable time. If you can get the same result in 50 hours that another can get in 160 hours, you can use your remaining time to grow your business!

Compilation of posts about offices

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Some of our most popular posts have been about offices. So, here is a
compilation about office related posts.

Handling stress in a call center office

Working in an office vs. at home

How to find great offshore companies to do your back-office work

Judge a book by its cover; Judge a company by its office (2016 version)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your office in the Himalayas?

Finding a lucky feng-shui spot for my office

Creating a corporate culture like Google’s and a customized office to match!

A 20 minute office visit reveals the character of a company!

Rates for office space around the world compared

Office in nature concept

3 ways for startups to save on office space


Younger workers want a positive social atmosphere

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Most companies are owned by older folks or people who are focused on work. But, to attract the younger crowd these days, you need to focus on what they want. Millennials expect a lot from their job and from their boss to the point that it might seem like you are working for them and not the other way around. In addition to salary, they want a positive social atmosphere, fun, and they want to grow their skillsets and develop in a way that will enhance their future career. Many are willing to sacrifice salary if they feel that growth is a possibility.

The point here is that the boss of such a company has to think not only of the most efficient way of getting work done, but how to create jobs that will provide satisfaction and evolution to their younger (and demanding) counterparts.

India’s work culture
In India, the traditional cultural model for the workplace is to have some older guy who is an ogre who is very harsh and critical towards workers. The workers who like the boss tend to huddle around him as they feel insecure without the stability of a superior thinker and leader around. The millennials or younger generation in India (and America), but especially India in the tech sector hops from job to job faster than you can say aloo-gobhi-paratha. In real life, to have any meaningful work relationship that grows into something you need to stick to the job for at least four years, not four months. It takes a year just to develop trust in an employee enough to trust them to do any meaningful and critical tasks.

Designing a dream job
If it were me designing the perfect job, I would make the worker pay their dues for a year doing work that is not fun to prove themselves. People jump boat so fast, that why should you invest in their comfort when they are not even going to be there. But, having a guaranteed fun job after twelve months is enough to entice a serious employee to stay. They will see the others who stuck around having fun doing all types of tasks. Even if you cannot have someone do meaningful work forty hours a week, they could do 10-15 hours a week so they could feel they were growing. You could have them do innovation, manage others, and more tasks that might make them feel important.

Does fun just happen spontaneously, or do the proper conditions need to be met? For me, fun happens when I am doing fun things with fun people. Fun is also unexpected, and you never know when you will find a task to be interesting or get a good laugh. Sometimes you need to throw in some unexpected or unusual activities in your day to increase your chance of having fun. Many call centers have regular contests, outings, and activities to boost the fun quotient.

Hire fun workers even if they are not good workers
My recommendation for having a fun work environment is to hire a certain percentage of people who are fun, even if they are not as good workers as you might desire, they will boost the spirits of the others. In China, they hire pretty girls to play ping-pong and talk to their male workers just to make them feel better. The girls can’t do any type of “real work,” but they do raise morale. It might be more efficient to hire people with desirable social (or physical) traits who are also capable of doing something productive even if they are a little less productive than the others. Or, you could have all workers be somewhat fun — with some being more fun than the others. How many fun people to have is up to you, but my only definitive piece of advice is to avoid people who are dampers to people’s enthusiasm or those who are hostile to others with little or no provocation as they will ruin the mood of your company really fast.

Don’t ruin the “fun”
Another easier way to have fun lies deep in the mystery of the Chinese culture. In China, fun is a type of noodle typically made from rice or mung beans. Fun is often a wide type of noodle which I enjoy eating. If you don’t know what to have for lunch at your company, try a group lunch where you eat fun — after all, you are what you eat. Unless you pronounce it the way they do in “other” (non-Cantonese) dialects in which it might be called “fen” which would ruin the “fun.”