Thursday, December 10, 2015

Meet The Interns

Justine Ebbert:

During the Fall Semester of 2015, I have been interning at the Kutztown University Small Business Development Center. My responsibilities include managing all the social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest while also assisting with the marketing portion of client consultation reports and recommendations. In addition, I am enrolled in four class towards my B.S. in Business Administration: Marketing with a minor in Spanish and a member of the University’s Track & Field Team. Being a student-athlete balancing class, practice, and this internship has helped me develop my time-management skills even further. Working along side with grad assistants and professionals to meet deadlines and help our clients has been a rewarding experience.

Marissa Fazekas:

These past four months of interning with the KU Small Business Development Center have gone quicker than I had expected. The opportunity I was given here to be an HR intern is one that I will forever be thankful that I had taken. I was able to be in the business environment and gain experiences that cannot be found in a classroom. I formed business and client relationships, experienced the professional environment, and I was influenced by business communication. As there are many Small Business Development Centers in Pennsylvania I was able to communicate and interact with business consultants through telecommuting and email. The clients that I had worked with alongside a consultant had confirmed my interest in being in a business career. There is nothing more rewarding than watching an individual make their dreams happen. To be an intern means you are willing to learn and to bring a sense of creativity into the environment. From research to job analysis to job descriptions, I was able to bring HR into the Small Business Development Center.

I will be graduating in the Spring of 2016 with my undergraduate degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Following that I will be attending graduate school for Organizational Development and Leadership. The experiences I’ve had here at the Small Business Development Center will carry along throughout my life.

Blog post by Marissa L. Fazekas

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Small Business: The Implementation of Rewards and Recognition

As a small business owner you may also find yourself being the head supervisor of your employees. Regardless of the type of product or service that you produce, you have individuals dedicating their time towards making your business successful. When business owners and employees consider the topic of rewards, they instantly assume that they come in the form of bonuses and raises in pay. In fact, many will be surprised that employees often appreciate other types of rewards.

Rewarding employees and motivating their performance in your business does not have to cost you a large amount of money. You will be surprised to learn that most employees prefer different types of recognition. It is important to remember that deciding upon employee rewards and recognition will not be an easy task as you choose what is best individually and collectively. But the overall goal of your rewards program is to maintain organizational commitment and culture that promotes appreciation for the work that the employees do.

This post will hopefully help you begin your own business rewards and recognition program.

1.       Identify what work behavior you want to recognize.
Are you showing appreciation for their job performance, attendance, and innovative ideas? This is the beginning of the process. Has the specific employee excelled in sales, team work, or leadership? You need to establish what it is that you want to reward to develop the core of the program.  

2.       Introduce the recognition program.

Your idea for this program may sound great to both yourself and other managers, but if your employees do not feel the same you will not have a successful program. Without the employees support of the program, you’re bound to see a decrease in commitment and lower performance. This is the time where you take your ideas and communicate with your employees to see what would motivate them. Together you can combine ideas to develop the best rewards.

3.       Alignment of rewards program and business goals.

Are you rewarding behaviors that promote the service or product of your business? Additionally, you should make sure that the rewards would be accepted in your culture. Introducing new ideas is fun, but you should make sure that the idea will fit into the organizational culture that you want to encourage.

Now that you have the plan, what are the rewards?

Recognizing the good work produced by your employees is important. People enjoy acknowledgement and gratitude for the work that they do. Following this theory, you will find that your employees are loyal to your business.

1.       Praise

You can acknowledge and thank your employees by simple word of mouth, through email, or a hand written note. It may seem silly to some, but this form of recognition goes far in regards to their performance. If someone acknowledges the work you have done and appreciates it, you are more likely to keep doing what you are doing because you feel valued for it.

2.       Flexibility

If an employee has demonstrated their commitment to seeing the product through in your business, giving them the flexibility of leaving early one day or changing their hours may be an option. This is the idea of family-work balance, by valuing the individual you can also respect the life aside from your business.


3.       Gift cards
This option indirectly includes money, but it’s more personable. It proves to your employees that you have taken the time to get to know them and their interests. Not only are you rewarding their performance, but you are demonstrating that you care.


4.       Opportunities and Responsibilities

If your employee has demonstrated success in a certain area of your business plan, see where else their talents could be used. Furthermore, you can involve them in decisions if you find them to have the knowledge required to do so. You can also think of other projects that they could lead or manage.

You can still give out those perfect attendance awards or plaques if you find that your employees appreciate that. But the best way of having organizational commitment and a motivated workforce, is to be aware of the uniqueness of each individual and how they impact the company. This rewards and recognition program has the ability to build a strong team environment, promote positive behaviors, and encourage continuous interest. The program does not have to be costly to your company. It is simply about the effort you put forth as the supervisor of your business, to appreciate the team that you have.
Written by:  
Marissa L. Fazekas
Kutztown University Small Business Development Center

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Small Business: The Application of Human Resources

Being the owner of a small business includes the responsibility of recruiting and retaining good employees. In order to survive and be successful in your business you have to have the talent within the business to demonstrate value. When you recruit and retain talent within your business, you are securing your future as a successful business. While it may seem relatively easy to hire good individuals, retaining them is not so simple, and that is when the field of human resources becomes important. It may come surprising to some small business owners that despite the low number of employees, human resources is still an important aspect.

The Society for Human Resource Management is a knowledgeable and valuable resource for you as a small business owner. Their article “10 Tips to Help Small Businesses Avoid Costly HR Errors” is successful in touching on the core aspects that affect you in your small business. I will briefly summarize their key points but I greatly encourage that you take a look at the article and the site for the resources that are available to you.

1.       “Don’t Delay Hiring Good Talent”
It is important that you have the basic hiring skills that are needed. When it comes to a small business, hiring talented individuals is a have to. In order to bring these individuals into your company you have to interview consistently. If you are unable to interview multiple individuals in one day, be sure to make your decision upon hiring the individual quickly.
2.       “Evaluate Employees”
When you take the time to hire employees that demonstrate the needed talent to be effective employees in your business, you protect yourself from lawsuits. If you hire someone who is a good employee you will not find much reason to fire them. In the event that you hire employees that end up disappointing you because of lack of good evaluation, you may choose to fire them. Depending on the circumstances with firing them you may have a lawsuit on your hands if the former employee is from a protected class. The use of performance evaluations is important in order to have documentation of an employee’s performance.
3.       “Get an Employee Handbook”
An employee handbook allows to policies to be stated and understood. The best employees are those who know their expectations, options, and the mission of the company.
4.       “Onboard Employees Immediately”
It is important to incorporate an employee orientation so that their expectations are known and they can begin to be a successful employee for you.
5.       “Give Feedback and Rewards”
Even though a business is small, it is important that you acknowledge and appreciate the employees that work for you. The motivation that your employees will have to perform their tasks will increase and you have the possibility of obtaining organizational commitment.
6.       “Ditch the Paper”
Bringing about technology in your business will prove useful in making things run smoothly and effectively. Even though you may have a small amount of employees in your company, keeping track of their hours may be better recorded through an online program. A program geared toward keeping a schedule of events for the business and even the use of email will assist in organizing your business. Additionally, the applications of potential employees can be sent to you through a program.
7.       “Keep Abreast of Laws and Regulations”
Make sure you are aware of what can and cannot be done in a business regarding the treatment of your employees. There are numerous laws and protections for individuals, make sure that you are never in violation of any of them.
8.       “Get a Good Attorney”
A “seasonal” attorney may be needed to clear up any issues that you may come across.
9.       “Mind the Compensation”
Classify the employees that you have correctly in order to prevent paying additional money for not being paid, make sure you follow the laws regarding wages.  
10.   “Don’t Go It Alone”
Connecting with external resources and companies may prove useful in maintaining a good human resources portion of your business.
The world of human resources is ever changing and extremely important. The 10 key concepts that SHRM has mentioned in their article are just the basics, your knowledge can extend much farther if you so choose. It is important that your business has the skills and talent that it needs, and the only way to do that is to have a hiring process that supports that. The ability to have individuals that are organizationally committed to your company will come as a result of how you treat them and the culture that you present within your small business. Remember to take advantage of the resources that are out there for you to be successful.

Written By:
Marissa Fazekas
Kutztown University Small Business Development Center  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Marketing: The Key to a Successful Business

Creating great products is no longer the way to obtaining successful business. New business owners often say, “My product/service will sell it’s self”, this is no longer the case. Too many businesses fail because of poor marketing.

Apple is one of the most successful technological companies in the industry. They produce what they call “High Quality” products at a “High Quality” product price. However, Apple’s competitor, Microsoft, offers products with much better “specs” than Apple products at a much lower price. How then could Apple be a competitor with an obviously “better” product from Microsoft?

This is where Apple’s genius lies. Apple focuses on what the consumer wants, rather than what the consumer needs. This gives Apple the upper class of technology feel. People want what they do not need and need what they do not want. For example, we need a car that is reliable and safe to drive, but want a car that is fast and exciting. They are both cars but one satisfies a need and the other satisfies a want.

Microsoft is the “need” company. They produce high quality products with the consumers need in mind. Therefore, it is a practical, not too fancy product that will give the consumer exactly what they need and paid for. Microsoft is a computer for productivity and “work.”

Apple is the “want” company. They produce high quality products with the consumers want in mind. Therefore, this machine is not “practical” in a sense because what the consumer really needs is a computer. But what they are getting is more of a piece of art. Apple is a computer for the creative and “fun” consumer, not the stiff business consumer.  

Apple focuses on appeal; they want their consumers to feel a sense of uniqueness or prestige. Since Microsoft obviously is the dominant computer in the business world, Apple focuses on the “personal” computer. Again, they make computers that people want to buy, not computers they need to buy.

Apple’s success is purely because of the marketing genius of Steve Jobs and the rest of the marketing team at Apple. Their products were not the one’s that caused the company to market, but it was their marketing that caused their products to be made.

Produce products and services that the market wants or will want and that product or service will surely provide you with a successful return. Do your research into what market you wish to sell to and develop a product or service that will enhance that market. We are no longer in a society where products create markets; we are now in a society where markets create products.