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Opportunities for disabled workers at small businesses



Two tax credits make it more affordable to accommodate disabled workers in small business.

According to Small Business Trends, The Disabled Access Credit guarantees a credit of up to $5,000 on expenditures of up to $10,250 for modifying equipment, hiring sign language interpreters, providing Braille documents and more.

The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction allows for a tax deduction of up to $15,000 for building new ramps, curb cuts, parking spaces, and other accessibility options at their place of business to accommodate those with special needs.

Generally, the disabled population has a harder time securing full-time employment and statistics show that the unemployment rate among this group was around 8 percent in 2017 compared to 4.1 percent of the non-disabled population. Employers may avoid hiring disabled workers because they feel as though it would be difficult to fire them for poor performance or they don’t understand or don’t want to deal with accommodating someone with special needs.


Nice-to-have employee benefits



When narrowing your job search, be sure to look into what employee benefits are offered. You probably already know to investigate things like health insurance, flex hours and number of vacation days. But there’s also no shortage of new and interesting benefits cutting-edge companies are offering their employees. Here are some of the more noteworthy ones.

Health perks
These benefits can include anything that positively impacts the health and well-being of employees. Health perks can be offered as on-site yoga classes, paid gym memberships and the availability of healthy snacks.

Paid volunteer days
This benefit suits socially conscious employees who want to get out of the office and make a positive difference in their community.

These are benefits that help employees manage their day-to-day lives. Some popular ones are dry cleaning pickup and delivery, on-site daycare and free parking (possibly with an on-site car wash).

Benefits that allow you to let off a bit of steam while at work can be a nice add-on. Some companies — following the lead of giants like Google and Facebook — offer ping-pong, foosball or video games in their break room. Some don’t go quite so far but still provide a homey and comfortable space for employees to unwind.

Sweet perks such as these are worth taking into account when mulling over job options — they may well swing the balance one way or the other when it comes time to make a decision about where you want to work.

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Cube versus open work space debated



Since the introduction of cubicles to the workplace a half-century ago, the pros and cons of their existence have been well-debated.

But today cubicles are being compared, often favorably and sometimes fondly, to open work spaces.

Open work concepts save floor space and encourage camaraderie, they also convey a false sense of productivity, in which movement and sound translate to only intermittent concentrated quiet, according to the International Facility Management Association.

On the other hand, open work spaces are often most suitable for telecommuting employees who only visit offices occasionally.

But those who work in the open office tell IFMA surveys that privacy is at an all-time low and 74 percent of workers are concerned about it.

The question is whether gains in office communication, brainstorming and camaraderie justify the open space. According to Business News Daily, a cubicle environment can also foster a sense of community, motivation and accountability. Open offices and cubicles also are easier to manage.

Separate office space ranks highest in terms of concentration, privacy, and personalization. But ranks lower in community.

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The qualities of leadership and how they evolve



According to Inc. Magazine, the fundamental reason for the years and sometimes even decades it takes to produce an extraordinary leader is the learning curve.

For example, instead of focusing on the daily grind, the burgeoning leader is combining daily work with extended goals. The person who is growing in leadership is trying hard to understand the strengths, weaknesses, goals, and desires of others.

Often, leaders don’t seek to be liked: They seek respect. While the aspiring leader knows cordiality is necessary for the here and now, he or she may well have to sacrifice short-term likability for enduring respect.

Real leaders encourage others to reach goals, happy when a team member achieves something worthy of praise.

The developing leader will empower people with honesty and transparency. All things being equal, he or she demonstrates respect for them and helps them do good work.

A natural leader understands that if the team falls short, he or she is responsible — regardless of who screwed up. When it is obvious who’s the root of a problem, the emerging leader will privately meet with the employee and inspire the entire team to do better.

Natural leaders are not always concerned with process and instead focus on promising results.

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Starting a family business has unique problems



Starting a business with a spouse, parents, siblings, children or other family members is not like the typical startup.

According to the Family Firm Institute, family-owned businesses comprise two-thirds of the companies worldwide. However, only 30 percent endure into a second generation, 12 percent to a third, and 3 percent to a fourth.

The typical snare of a family business is putting too much weight on family and not enough on business. Rarely are the qualities of a healthy business entirely compatible with family harmony.

When the business is going well, there will be jealousy. When it is going badly, there will be blame.

The earliest stages of a family business are the most ominous. Family members can join the promise of a new venture without clear definitions of their roles, duties, compensation–and, should they become problematic, exit arrangements.

To avoid miscommunication and hard feelings in the future, advises, always put family business relationships in writing.

While various family members may qualify for similar duties, they must be divided up to avoid conflicts. Significant decisions can be reached together, but disputes over minor procedures impede the overall progress of the business.

The dominant structure of a thriving family business is having one person serve as the ultimate leader of the endeavor. When this leader is resilient and competent, he or she can persevere, stay focused, and proceed with their responsibilities and intentions despite the obstacles and challenges.

These capabilities are especially essential in a family business where professional and personal issues frequently become intertwined.

Leaders of strong family-owned businesses know that setting boundaries among participating family members is critical to continuing success. Precise methods of communication must be installed.

Since business quandaries and differences of opinion are inevitable, consider weekly meetings to assess current progress and plans, air differences, and resolve disputes. Moreover, keep family issues out of the boardroom and office.

Keeping pace with the times is vital to any business, more certainly those with multigenerational roots. Regardless of age, family members must continuously evolve and deliver or risk alienating both employees and customers.

Furthermore, so-called sympathy jobs should not be open as a last resort to children, cousins, or other family members for any reason. Employment must be based on the experience, knowledge, or skills a family business demands.

For leadership and staff positions the business demands, look outside for the qualities family members do not possess.

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Beware of the pitfalls of hiring gig workers



Self-employed gig workers save businesses money, but they can also cause big headaches.

With a 4 percent unemployment rate, the market for quality workers is tight, which makes hiring a gig worker tempting. And, there are a lot of gig workers. According to a recent study by Intuit (owner of TurboTax), about 34 percent of the workforce in the United States is composed of gig workers. By 2020, the number is expected to reach 43 percent.

With those numbers, small businesses can find a huge pool of talent, but unless managers choose carefully, projects can take a major hit in reliability, unanticipated costs, and quality of work.

As Satya Purna, founder of ZAG Studios, a brand strategy company, told Business News Daily (BND), “It’s a mixed bag. It’s difficult to find freelancers who can keep up a high quality of work. They also have their own preferences. They may change their focus midway (through a project), so you’ll need to find a new person.”

Gig work is often used to supplement income and that means a gig worker’s allegiance is somewhere else. According to Shiftgig, a survey of gig workers showed 51 percent of them had full-time jobs.

Gig work can also be an impulsive decision. According to Shiftgig, the momentum of gig work is driven by the smartphone. “ItÕs as easy to book a side hustle as it is to order pizza,” one CEO told Talent 10X.

One small business owner said she has had problems with gig workers dropping projects cold. Even contracts don’t help small business because to enforce one means going to court.

If you are planning to hire a gig worker, focus on true freelancers who aren’t working full-time for another company. Assign projects in small steps, with clear guidelines on what is to be done and when. Pay well and stress that a gig worker can also be hired for the next step in a project should the work be acceptable.

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Empathy + Ego = Sales



Among the wealth of extraordinary articles in the Harvard Business Review Classics series is one, published in 1964, entitled, “What Makes a Good Salesman.”

Before writing it, David Mayer and Herbert M. Greenberg spent seven years pursuing the clues. During that time, a fellow HBR contributor, Robert N. McMurray, wrote, “We must look into the mysteries of personality and psychology if we want the real answers.”

Mayer and Greenberg’s conclusions: “Based on the insights we gained about the basic characteristics necessary for a salesperson to sell successfully, our basic theory is that a good salesperson must have at least two basic qualities: empathy and ego drive.”

According to Webster’s, empathy is “understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing” the feelings of others. Moreover, according to Mayer and Greenberg, no salesperson can sell consistently without the skilled use of empathy.

Mayer and Greenberg declare that empathy is vital to the process of obtaining honest, accurate customer feedback. Once provided with a strong sense of the customer’s feelings, the empathetic salesperson can react accordingly. With the use of his or her ego-driven techniques, the agent can alter the pace of discussion and weigh alternatives and options before making whatever creative adjustments are necessary to close the sale.

On the other hand, the authors assert that ego drive — a subtle need to conquer–pushes a salesperson to make the deal or else. It becomes a mission, a mandate.

Mayer and Greenberg conclude, it is an active blend of empathy and ego drive — each reinforcing the other — that will best serve the interests of a salesperson’s career.

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