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Resisting the Urge to Micromanage

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

New business owners sometimes invest their life’s work into business ideas. The possibility of a failed business can be devastating and a hard pill to swallow. The emotional and economic commitment might lead to unhealthy management tactics in the early stages.

The practicalities of meeting the bottom line should govern early management decisions. These practicalities often require interpersonal skills. In other words, the entrepreneur should work with subordinates rather than overpowering them. “Helicopter management” may be off the table as the team develops processes to best exploit human resources within the company itself.

Respect and trust should govern the onboarding process. Management should stay mindful that, when they finally must navigate the hiring process, they are bargaining for talent. Talent merits the respect and should be treated well.

Of course. business owners need to monitor employees. At the same time, never forget the importance of healthy boundaries. Lines must be drawn between the autonomy of employees and the visions of their employers. These lines ensure the proper balance between the employees’ dignity and the employer’s bottom line. This balance could bring about the harmony that leads to the fulfillment of a company’s potential.

From the perspective of an employee, controlling managers cause anxiety that may diminish work performance. However, the temptation to micromanage may overwhelm a new Veteran Business Owner. These new frontline workers, after all, may hold the business owner’s life aspirations in their hands. 

Business owners need good results to stay alive. Good business processes and operations are key to the bottom line. However, employees themselves bring their own skills into the business enterprise, which managers should exploit to everyone’s advantage. In some cases, perhaps establishing a 1099 relationship might allow greater synergy between the needs of the employee and employer. A 1099 relationship may increase the employee’s independence while allowing the employer more flexibility as well until the employment relationship solidifies into something more traditional.

The middle ground for an entrepreneur is to find the right “processes” for your business. “Processes” should lead the business on the most efficient path to its bottom line. However, “business processes” are not the same thing as “red-tape.” For-profit businesses have no business administering bureaucracies that interfere with worker productivity. One function of a new business is to find the right functions and operations to increase efficiency.

Businesses build relationships with their workers as each of them grows into their respective roles, and better understand their needs within each of their own niches of the economy. Good relationships with front-line workers always play crucial roles in a business’s capacity to function. 

Business owners should always stay mindful of the needs of their workers as well as their own needs. Often, new businesses adventure into diverse paths in their roads to viable moneymaking status. Likewise, these workers often bring in their own skills that may function in diverse ways to the benefit of the business. Rather than belittling their front-line workforce, business owners should integrate employees into their developing business processes in a manner that decreases costs while increasing the quality of the workday for everyone.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Self-Marketing for Entrepreneurs

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Marketing is its own field within the business world. Specialists in marketing often come out of school with vast coursework and little experience. The generalities acquired by “professional marketers” often fail entrepreneurs seeking their niche in the economy. 

Every company is different. Each entrepreneur likely has their own set of values, as well as their own understanding of the niche of the economy they seek to occupy. Outsiders may provide guidelines and principles, but the core of a marketing strategy must come from the source of the business idea itself. Successful marketing ultimately comes from within.

Remember the sitcom Family Ties from the eighties? Consider the episode “The Spirit of Columbus.” In a classic standoff between money-obsessed Alex P. Keaton and his opposite, the artist Nick, Alex usurps Nick’s greatest artistic triumph and markets the sculpture “in volume” as home decor. In several fabulous colors to boot. 

These days, marketers rely largely on online strategies. Professional marketers know the web, social media, and other such channels. Entrepreneurs know their own hearts and the goals of their companies. Efforts of marketers fall impotent absent coordination with the leadership of their clients. Consider the ongoing lament of online gamers in the face of recent waves of offbeat, sometimes offensive marketing campaigns. “Why do they do this? The game is nothing like that!”

Entrepreneurs do their best to market themselves, often with advice from ad agencies. Marketers should stick to their roles. These days, marketers do have irreplaceable functions on the online and social media fronts. However, unless the marketer and entrepreneur are one and the same, no one can sell that great idea better than its originator. A marketer can filter the idea. A marketer can find the right channels. However, no one can express the idea’s heart and soul better than the entrepreneur themself.

There are strategies that business owners can use to market themselves. First, no matter the niche product or service, business owners should make their outreach efforts personable. Sometimes, a little creativity can liven up not only the brand but even the lives of its patrons. Perhaps the Michelin man can be an example. The iconic 120-year-old character is as old as the company itself. Over the years he has evolved from grease-monkey to symbol of fine dining. The Michelin brothers needed no marketing agency to accomplish that.

Second, entrepreneurs should ensure focus on their fundamental message. Marketing ideas should have organic roots in the core ideas of the company. Whatever the original focus of a business venture, a marketing campaign should beam this inspiration into their target clientele with laser intensity. A “meeting of the minds” does wonders between owners and clientele, at least in the early stages. Third-party marketers have the potential to complicate this process. Business owners should always stay in control of their message, at least until the enterprise diversifies and becomes too complex.

In the end, business owners should never allow third parties to market their idea in far-off directions, at least in the early stages. Marketers have their place and their own expertise, especially in the age of social media and other forms of online exposure. However, while the business owner provides the capital, the business owner provides the leadership. When the visionary separates from the vision, only broken dreams loom on the horizon.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

Pandemic Labor Shortage Hiring Strategies

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The pandemic continues to keep workers at home. Real concerns about the Delta Variant loom large. Plus, continuing financial support motivates low-wage employees to stay home. Lower-wage employees often have the best reasons to snub less-than-optimal work arrangements. Concerns of such employees may range from childcare to vocational development. The result burdens many small businesses with serious labor shortages. Hence, current economic circumstances have only increased the necessity of wise hiring practices.

Know Your Capacities

Small businesses must stay mindful of their own needs and capacities. Some companies over-hire, leaving unnecessary workers to be idle and bored. Others burden a small number with an impossible workload. Before the start of the hiring process, owners should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to gain a clear understanding of their human resources needs.

Bored and idle workers become dissatisfied, even as they remain on company time. At the same time, overworked employees could simply walk off the job and leave the owners in the lurch. A healthy business provides a well-planned, balanced workday. 

Hence, management should gauge each task for the time and effort requirements. Not infrequently, an overwhelmed business may panic at their workload and over-hire. The resulting crowd of low-level workers may feel undervalued, undertrained, and ignored. Similarly, an employer may under-hire. Often, employees are expected to hit the ground running due to their experience or qualifications. Sometimes these expectations unduly burden newcomers and managers alike.

Granted, businesses cannot always afford expensive training programs. Sometimes expecting a hire to “hit the ground running” is the only option. However, ideally, this cost-benefit analysis regarding both training and the number of employees aids in the creation of a well-balanced workforce.

Know Your Platform

The Internet has long taken over the hiring process. The shift from paper to online applications has yielded pluses and minuses both for applicants and businesses. From the perspective of Veteran Business Owners, this shift opened the floodgates for countless frivolous applicants. Shifting through irrelevant, frivolous, or downright silly applications has become par for the course. When possible, business owners need to seek out jobs sites that specialize in their field. For example, encore.org and idealist.org specialize in nonprofit positions. Itjobspro.com connects employers with skilled IT professionals, and salesgray.com links business owners with sales professionals.

The list is endless. General job sites provide a cheap alternative but add to the burden of the hiring process. Small business owners generally spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the hiring process itself. A bad fit may cost still more in training costs, as well as the cleanup following termination. The miracle of the Internet provides countless opportunities to zero in on applicants who have at least done their own work to tailor their applications to their own interests and skillsets. Specialized jobs platforms are key resources to streamline the hiring process.

Involve the Team in the Hiring Process

Especially for a long-term commitment, consider the splash a new hire could make in the company pond. The involvement of future colleagues could ensure a “good fit” in the hiring process. In many cases, coworkers will spend many hours a day together. Often, the involvement of the team could safeguard long-term office tranquility should the newcomer take root in their new office home.

However, this process should ensure fairness. Many workplaces have corporate cultures that discriminate, explicitly or implicitly. Some interview practices may land certain employers on shaky ground. Beware of excessive prying into recreational activities, hobbies, and interests, or home or family life. Short of landing employers in legal hot water, such questions may simply deprive both parties of fruitful opportunities.

Conclusion

As always, balance is key. An employer’s rewards in the hiring effort will likely be proportionate with their investments. Companies should plan wisely and implement judiciously. The result following onboarding should leave a balanced, satisfying workday for everyone.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

Largest Increase in 7 Years For VA Disability Compensation

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By Debbie Gregory.

The VA Disability Compensation Rates will increase 2.8 percent in 2019. This is the largest increase since 2012. These increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year’s numbers. If there is an increase, a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is made. If there is no increase, there is no COLA. The COLA affects about one of every five Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees and retired military members. In 2018, the COLA was 2.0 percent; in 2017, retirees saw a 0.3 percent increase. There was no increase at all in 2016; the last time COLA increased by more than 2.8 percent was 2012, when compensation rates got a 3.6 percent hike.

The VA has strange computation rules that make working out the exact rates impossible. Therefore, the final amounts are not yet available but we can approximate the 2019 benefits based on the cost of living increase. These benefits are paid the first of each month for the prior month. Below is an unofficial approximation of the increases for various levels of VA Disability just for the Veteran and not including spouses or dependents:

10 percent – $140.05
20 percent – $276.84
30 percent – $428.83
40 percent – $617.73
50 percent – $879.36
60 percent – $1,113.86
70 percent – $1,403.71
80 percent – $1,631.69
90 percent – $1,833.62
100 percent – $3,057.13

We are grateful to every Veteran who served and sacrificed.

Halfaker & Associates Awarded $10M Support Services Contract

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Congratulations to Halfaker and Associates, LLC on the $10M VA Software Engineering Support Services Revenue Cycle Management contract award.

The technology solutions provider received the award under the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology Next Generation (T4NG) contract vehicle. Halfaker will work with VA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) Revenue Operations (RO) to improve user experience and the quality of Veteran-facing systems by providing project management, requirements analysis, design, development, integration, and testing focused on the Accounts Receivable (AR), Integrated Billing (IB) modules of Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), Consolidate Billing Statement System (CBSS), and Veterans Billing Statement System (VBS). The SE RCM task is a two-year, $10M program that will support VA’s OCC Revenue Operations.

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, Halfaker was founded by Army veteran Dawn Halfaker, who also serves as the company’s CEO.

“As the OCC RO continues to assess, monitor and drive VHA compliance with healthcare regulatory requirements, the systems that enable these operations must continuously mature and evolve in a rapid and scalable manner,” said Ms. Halfaker. “We are ready to support VA’s OCC RO in every aspect of enhancing critical VistA modules so that they can continue to serve our Veterans.”

With a track record of strong VA customer relationships and outstanding performance across large, enterprise-level modernization programs, Halfaker delivers feature-driven agile development, leveraging automated build, test, and deployment processes to guarantee rapid, reliable, timely, and high-quality software releases. Halfaker leverages diverse teams to conduct operations and achieve all program objectives in adherence to VA’s Veteran-focused Integration Process (VIP) guidelines. Their cloud technology experts engineer customer-centric solutions by adapting the latest tools, standards and techniques to meet the client’s strategic goals, modernize mission-critical applications, reduce backend risks, and increase scalability for future optimization.

 

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