Some great tips to retaining talent in your firm

Its great to hire an employee who is talented, professional, intelligent and willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. However, retaining such an employee in a world where talented people can be literally snatched from your firm by the bigger fish or by competitors is a true challenge.

Here are some tips to help you retain your talent pool:
1. Competitive Salary Package
You may not be able to match the deep pockets of a larger company but you should still make an earnest effort to keep your staff salaries reasonably competitive. Generally speaking salary is not always the only reason why a person will switch a job. However, this is only true when the salary is more or less reasonably competitive. Although conditions may vary across geographic regions and industries you can make rough estimates.

2. Appreciating by Differentiating
Wonderful people need to be treated wonderfully. Simple and plain. Make sure that your best employee gets the best salary package in your firm even if that person is younger/less experienced. While there may be resistance from a lot of quarters questioning your judgment, remember that its business. Businesses get most benefit from their best staff and everyone in the staff should be amply clear about what will get them the best bucks at your place. A letter of appreciation as the best employee for the year will surely help as will a bonus based on performance.

3. Job assignments
Try to give the best and most challenging job assignments to your best staff member. This will help to fulfill their desire for more growth by helping them polish their old skills and learn new ones. Moreover, it will help them to see that they have a future at your place and that your firm is not stangant.

4. Perks
Try to see if you can afford some small perks for your staff. Ofcourse, this may not be possible given the size of your firm and your financial standing. Younger companies are generally struggling in their first couple of years to get out of the red and start earning profits. However, if you can afford to do it then don’t hesitate to hand over some perks based on the competency of the staff.
It great if one can do all of the above but remember that its easy to lose focus of the whole situation. Focusing on the best of your talent is just one piece of the puzzle and it should not make you forget about the remaining of the rest of the staff.


The top 5 types of tasks to outsource

Outsourcing can be good or bad. It all depends if you gained new work because of it or if you lost your job because of it. However, my opinion on the topic is that its really something cool for the entrepreneur. The reason is simply that it allows you to tap onto a diversified set of talent without having you hire people (translate that as maintain payroll, benefits and costs!!!). The use of intelligent outsourcing allows you to get the best talent in the world and help you focus on whats really your business.

Here are some ways that I think outsourcing can really help you:

1. Help desk support
Need someone to answer the basic questions while you work on marketing and promoting your product and services? Look for a firm providing you with help desk support. You can get 24 hour support or support for just a few hours every day. Email based support or online chat support. The choice is yours to make depending on how much you are willing to dish out.

2. Data entry
Do you need to enter old paper based records into your brand new software system? Definitely don’t do it yourself(unless the info is highly personal). Hire a firm/team to do the job for you. You can not only help to get the data in electronic format but also get someone to do basic review if you provide the right guidelines.

3. Online marketing
Even if you are good at it – don’t spend all your time doing it yourself. With all the new techniques and rules coming up all the time it’s really a full time job for someone. So go ahead and outsource it. Make a budget and hire someone to provide measurable results on that budget.

4. Market research/analysis
Outsourcing research is a great way to help free up the busy entrepreneurs mind for the more important tasks. Remember that as a small business owner you are already spending quite a lot of your time wearing different hats and organizing your business. However, always ensure that this task is carried out by someone with whom you can connect. Talk/discuss online with the person who will be undertaking the assignment. Does the person see what you are trying to do? Is your goal clear and have you communicated it clearly?

5. Event scheduling
Do you want to spend the whole of your time arranging up your meetings and setting up appointments? Probably not! Get someone to do it for you. Use all the different online tools for easy collaboration with the service provider to ensure hassle free communication.

These are really the top 5 types of tasks that i believe a small business owner must look consider for outsourcing. Outsourcing these tasks should help you free up your day so that you can take your business to the next level.

Sending large files

Online collaboration needs have grown to such a large extent that the 10MB file attachment limit of most email providers now appears insufficient. Videos, rich media and presentations now easily exceed the limit and transferring such files is a trouble. There are those who would love to break a file into pieces and request the person at the other end to download a tool that would re-join those pieces. However, I think that file sharing services are the real solution to this problem. Here are a couple that I have used in the past with good results:

1. Yousendit
This is my hot favorite! It provides an easy interface and is a good way to transfer a huge file. With the paid option you can send a file that is 2 GB in size. However, if you are apprehensive then you can sign up for a free trial which allows for sending of 100MB file with a total limit of 1GB for the monthly download limit.

2. SendYourFile
This is a great solution if you want to have the facility to send large files right from your outlook(software download needed)! The great thing is that using their software to transfer a file means that a connection breakdown will not be a problem as it resumes broken transfers. Multiple files can be sent in a single go without a need to attach each file individually(sent as a zip file to the recipient).

A list of other sites offering similar services is below:
1. ShareFile
2. SendSpace (Now closed)
3. 4Shared
4. DropSend
5. TransferBigFiles
6. SendThisFile

The era of peer to peer sharing has also caught up with sending/sharing large files. Peer to peer software allows sharing large files and speeds up the process by allowing the files to be doanloaded at the same time that they are being uploaded!

Some cool sites to check for these are:

There are plenty of other services around. The above list is just a listing of the more popular websites that I have found useful.

Happy sharing but remember not to send onwards files that you do not own and definitely encrypt them if they are confidential!

Online networking for beginners

Social media sites are now everywhere and while the large ones(digg, facebook, myspace, ibibo) have huge fan following there are those that cater to niche groups of people. The key to utilizing social media websites for your benefit is to interact in these sites. Many people tend to ignore these websites in their online marketing/branding strategy and could not be more wrong. Social websites are today developing much like online forums and online interaction points and can be a key to improving your business visibility. Some mistakes that people make are:

1. I don’t sell online. So why bother about social media?
This is a wildly inaccurate belief with many people. You can be a carpenter or be selling table lamps. There is surely a website that either caters to your niche or has a sub-category that fits your business. With many people now starting to use the internet as a starting point of their search for a product or services it only makes sense to have an online website or a blog that is visible to those who may be searching just for you!

2. I need to be a technical wiz right?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Social media sites are developed for easy access for all. If you can use a computer and browse the internet then submitting your site link to social media sites and interacting there is hardly a difficult proposition.

3. Submit a link to the site and then wait
Wrong! Social sites are what their name suggests them to be – social. Its not an ad site where you place a link and then go to sleep. Its a place where you share your opinions, join like minded groups, give comments on other posts and so on. A number of people will only get to know about you (and incidentally about your products and services) when they see your name in the people who have commented on their posts. If your comments are “juicy” then people will look up your profile, the stories that you share and ofcourse your website, blog, services and products.

4. Hey I don’t have time
While entirely true for a lot of people, the power of the internet has made it much easier to work around this problem. Social media sites will require time to do the registrations, click on all the confirmation links and then remembering the passwords, the links you have submitted etc. However, you can easily hire an online internet helper to help you out with the task. Thanks to offshore outsourcing to places like India, Pakistan, China and Philippines this is today much easier and cheaper to do than ever before.

Social networking is here to stay. Its best to participate and benefit from it. So take the plunge and work on it for a while. Don’t consider it work. Enjoy it 🙂