‘One of the biggest problems for a growing business is hiring the right people,” says business coach Marshall Calman, of Action International, based at 5 Almond Court, Princeton.

Calman discusses how to hire the right person — along with other ways business owners can build their businesses in “Six Steps to Building a Winning Business.” Two identical two-and-a-half hour sessions will be offered, on Wednesday, June 21, at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Westin at Forrestal Village. The workshops are free by reservation. Call 609-275-1008.

Most small business owners choose a new employee using two processes: the interview and a reference check. But, says Calman, this is like “looking at an iceberg. The reference check and interview are the 10 percent that you can see above the water. The other 90 percent of the information is below the water where you can’t see it.”

Building the team. Putting together the best team for your business begins with identifying current “team members” who are already performing well in your business and looking at their traits and characteristics, then turning that into a profile of the new person you want to hire.

“The problem many business owners run into in interviews,” says Calman, “is that they go on instinct. The ask ‘do I like this person?’” Instead, they should look for the type of personality traits needed for the specific position. “Maybe the person you talked with isn’t right for the sales job but would be great in a different position in your company.”

Putting key people in place is one of an entrepreneur’s first tasks. Filling in the supporting roles is an ongoing task, and a critical one. Once the team is assembled, and a blueprint for adding and replacing employees, is drawn, it is time to move on to other vital tasks.

Mastery Level. This is the level where the business owner works on the foundations of his business, says Calman. “We have several types of mastery. Money mastery, which includes managing your budget, along with time mastery, are basics that every business owner needs to learn.” Understanding the mastery level is the difference between chaos and control.

Finding your niche. The niche level is all about “understanding how to compete in the marketplace in ways other than price,” says Calman. “Competing on price is a death spiral for any business. There is always someone out there who is willing to undercut your price.”

Learning to compete instead on the value side of the equation will help a business start to generate better cash flow, have better margins, and expand its market and its market position.

Leverage level. This level is about building an effectiveness and efficiency in your business. It’s about looking beyond your base to opportunities that make sense for the skills and contacts your company has developed.

Finding Synergy. The synergy level is “the level where your business becomes a well-oiled machine, a commercial, profitable enterprise that works without you.” Hiring the right people, especially an operations manager or general manager, is one way that a business owner frees up his time to work on other areas of his or her business.

Reaping results. The final level in the six steps is the results level, says Calman. “This is the time when a business is running well and the owner can start to think about expansion.” Because his business is now working well without him, he can think about adding locations or specialties or franchising the business. Or he can consider acquiring a second business or diversity in another way.

In other words, says Calman, a business owner who reaches the results level has more time to do the things he has always dreamed of doing, and that is exactly the reason most people decide to build a business.

Before becoming a business coach Calman had over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, sales, business development, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction programs for Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies. He holds an MBA in marketing. After his long corporate career, he is doing what he always wanted to do — building a business around helping others to build businesses.

— Karen Hodges Miller

Thursday, June 22

For Women Going Back to Work, But

Not to the Rat Race

In the ever-changing world of work, things just keep getting more complicated. From the need to be fluent in the latest computer software to the continual threat of company downsizing, today’s worker has her work cut out for her. While this can be a daunting fact for those who have been employed their whole adult lives, it is doubling challenging for women who have been out of the work world for a while.

“Women returning to the work world know two things about themselves,” says Vidhya Srinivasan, a human resources professional. “They know that they have skills and they know that they can get back to work. But what many women need is a boost. There are employers out there who will welcome women back to work. It`s a question of matching your skills and finding the right fit.”

Srinivasan, along with career consultant Jo Leonard, heads up a summer career series for women at the YWCA in Princeton. It is specially designed for women entering the workforce after a long break. The series focuses on such topics as life assessment, career search strategies, building your resume and portfolio, using the Internet to search and apply for jobs, interview skills, and career alternatives. The workshops take place once a week, from Thursday, June 22, through Thursday, August 3, at 5 p.m. at 59 Paul Robeson Place in Princeton. The cost for the series is $160 and YWCA membership is required. However, YWCA executive Pat Orr stresses that the organization realizes that unemployed women may be running low checkbook balances. The YWCA is prepared, she says, to offer financial assistance to anyone in need. Call 609-497-2100 for more information or visit www.YWCAprinceton.org.

“Many women want to go back to work, but not necessarily rejoin the rat race,” says Pam Elmi, who has been the director of program development at the Princeton YWCA for the past six years. “There are a number of options now potentially open to them. Telecommuting now is an option that many women may not have had in the past when they were last in the work world.” Born and raised in Edison, Elmi earned her degree from the College of New Jersey and has worked in the non-profit business for the past 15 years.

Elmi, who came up with the idea for the summer series last year after receiving a number of requests from women, says that the time is right for just such a series. “There are many women who go through a transitional period in their lives in which they could use some feedback and a little direction,” she says. “I think in the society right now there are a lot of women going through some difficult changes. Over 70 percent of our participants have been women in their mid-40s who are either looking to get out of corporate work and go into non-profit — or vice versa, or those going through life changes such as a divorce or the death of a spouse, and who find they have to fine tune their skills in order to survive.”

But Srinivasan says that women of today have an advantage that their sisters of the past, even just a decade ago, did not have. “The Internet is a very useful medium to gather useful information,” says Srinivasan. “Today a woman can stay at home and still be connected to the workplace. Now it is possible to find those companies that make it their business to welcome such women and the many employers who allow employers to telecommute from home.”

While all job seekers hope for that perfect working situation, Srinivasan cautions that at first it may be a bit of a battle to land a near-perfect job. She recommends that women leave their options open. “Some may find it necessary to adopt other strategies, such as taking courses from the community college to add to their skills or volunteering in non-profit companies,” she says. “Volunteering can be a very useful way of working, although it may be for free. But you can expand your skills and knowledge and meet other people doing the sort of work you are interested in.”

Born and raised in southern India, Srinivasan earned her bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics at Chennai, India, and went on to earn an MBA degree in human resources management. She then worked as a career counselor in a small business before moving on to a multinational bank in India, where she focused on recruiting, compensation, and benefits. She moved to New Jersey in 2001 when she married her husband, Ramesh Lakshminarayanan, who works as a software engineer for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

For women looking to return to the work world after an extended hiatus, Srinivasan offers the following tips.

Research. Nearly all major companies have their own websites, and it is valuable for job seekers to spend a little time researching companies on the Internet before submitting a resume. Srinivasan recommends that women study a company’s stated mission, products and services, expansion, diversity, as well as potential job openings.

This information can be used to custom tailor a cover letter and resume suited to the needs of the company. “You can really learn a lot about a company just by researching on the Internet,” says Srinivasan. “You can be more informed now.”

Be creative. It might be a good idea to pass on the most popular job search websites that attract nearly everybody. Instead, consider taking a different approach. Ferret out niche websites, including those that cater specifically to women. Many offer information on networking, tips on creating the right resume or portfolio, how to perform in a big interview, how to dress professionally, as well as advice and inspiration.

Some examples include www.knockemdead.com, www.womenwork.org, and www.womenforhire.com. “You don’t have to go out to do this sort of research,” says Srinivasan. “You can gather a world of information and tips right at your fingertips on the Internet.”

Don’t browse, be specific. Go to websites that will give you solid tips and ideas and will ultimately shorten your search time. Use the Internet, but don’t let it take you over. “Just browsing the Internet can take you a lot of time and not always offer useful results,” says Srinivasan. “Narrow your search by being specific about your skills and the types of employers that you interested in.”

Build up your network. Sure, you have a network — and very probably many networks. Use all of them — your neighbors, parents of your children’s friends, old college pals. Let all of them know that you are eager to take on new challenges. And don’t stop there. “Contact past employers, go to gatherings where you may potentially encounter those who may help you find the job you are looking for,” says Srinivasan. “It is a challenging process, but it is important to be patient.”

Prepare to drop back to move forward. Women who re-enter the workforce may have to accept a lower salary while they are working their way back up the ladder. A recently published study found that professional women who step off career tracks for family or other reasons earn approximately 18 percent less once they return to the workforce. Career businesswomen earn even less, with an earnings drop an average of 28 percent when they return to the workforce. In addition, the longer a woman is away, the deeper the cut in salary. Women who take less than a year earn about 11 percent less, while those women who take three years or more see an average drop of about 37 percent.

Move into a job sideways. One way to counter this trend is to jump on a moving train rather than wait on the platform. Do this by taking a good look at your skills and packaging them for sale — perhaps by taking on freelance or contract work. Once your work is known to an employer, it is very possible that you will be offered a job. It is also possible that — happy with contract compensation — you will decide that you don’t want a steady job.

No matter what the strategy, looking for new work takes patience and planning, says Srinivasan. “It can be difficult at times, but it helps to know that soon you will be working at the job that you want,” she says. “Believe in yourself and use the resources that are available to you.”

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