Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Develop your business plan Part 6

Here is part 6 on the Developing your business plan series. Once again their is some good information contained in here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series: The Executive Summary

Although the Executive Summary is the first section of the business, it is usually the last part you will write because as the name implies, it is a basic summary of all the parts of the business plan and it needs to spark an interest in the reader to move on to the heart of the plan.

The Business Plan Blog had a great explanation of the executive summary so I recommend you read that to get a good idea on what you should have in it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

List of Freelance Blogs?

Are you a freelancer?

The Bootstrapper Blog has a listing of 100 Blogs that could be of interest to you. It is a very comprehensive list and you should find something that will work for you. Also, even if you run a small retail business or something like that, often times the advice given to freelances work for the small business owner so go ahead and take a look.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Develop your business plan Part 5

Here is Part 5 of the Developing a Business Plan Videos. This one talks about doing the numbers of the plan. I have gone over the financial statements before but the video might make it a little easier to understand and help you make a better plan.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series: The Appendix

The final section of the business plan (although not the last part you finish), is the appendix. This is the reference section of your business plan and what it contains depends on your needs.

The SBA website has a complete list of items that you may or may not need in your appendix.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Make Money on your off time...

The Bootstrapper Blog has a listing of 50 ways to make money during your off time. The first one is a good one for all business people and that is Blogging. I have said before that all businesses should be blogging which can be used as a marketing opportunity.

Monday, March 03, 2008

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Starting A Small Business Series: Financial Statements

So what is the next section of your business plan?

It is your financial statements. We have already discussed the different business financial statements but to recap you have the Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet and the all important Cash Flow.

If your business has been in operation you will want to include previous financial statements going back 3 to 5 years.

Now if you are just starting your business you will want to have estimates for the first five years. You will want to insure that the financial statements match what you are requesting from your investors because they will be going over these numbers with a fine tooth comb.

Next we have the appendix then we go back to the first section of the business plan but the last done and that is the executive summary.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pay Pal Shops

Interesting post from Entrepreneurs-Journey blog about how you can find hot products over at Pay Pal Shops. Take a look and see if they will help you.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are you a state at home mom?

NBC's Today Show had a feature on work for stay at home moms (SAHM's).

While focusing on SHAM's, they have some good information for men or woman including selling on Ebay and becoming a professional shopper. Thank you to BIZ Chicks Rule for referring to this video.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Develop your business plan Part 3

Here is part 3 of the video series on doing your business plan. It follows nicely with my weekly post on how to do your business plan. Once I am done wrapping up the series on how to write a business plan, I will start going through an actually business plan step to give more practical experience for you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series-Financial Request

Now some of you may not need this section of the business plan as this section is the funding request section.

So how much are you requesting to fund your business? Not only will you want to show how much you will require today, but if you are going to need more money in the next five years to expand your business you will want to make sure that is included in this section of the business plan.

While your financial statements will show about where your money is going in this section you want to specifically mention how and where you will use the money from your investors. You will want to be specific on where the money will be going whether it will be capital, operations, or other things.

Finally you will want to discuss your future financial situation. If you plan to go public with your business in the next five to ten years you will want to include that information in this section. Another piece of information is that if you plan to sell your business at anytime in the future.

Next week we will go over the financial information.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Are you a freelance?

One of the things we stress is how important networking is to small businesses. We need to be networking gain customers and get valuable business contacts.

The Bootstrapper Blog has a listing of 50 Professional Networks for Freelancers. While tailored to freelancers there is valuable information here for any small business owner. Take a look and see what contacts you can use to improve your small business.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Develop your business plan Part 2

Here is part two of the video "Developing your business plan". Great information for those getting ready to start writing their business plan.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series: The Service or Product Line

The next section of the Business Plan is the product information.

You will want to detail what your product is from a customer perspective. How will the product meet the needs of the customer and why they are going to want it? Also how is your product or service going to be superior to that offered by your competitors?

Next you will want to talk about the life cycle of the product or service. Is your product or service on a growth curve or is it a mature market. If your product or service is going to be in a mature market, how will you turn that into an opportunity for you? How long is the life cycle of the business?

Next discuss any copyright or trademarks your product or service will have. Also are there any trade secrets included with your product or service and any current legal agreements.

Finally you will want to explain any research and development that will involve your product or service. Is your product still under development? How much research and development will have to be done to keep your product ahead of your competitors and how much will it cost the business?

Next week we will discuss the funding request.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Building a Business Plan Video

Since I have been going over a business plan, I found this series of videos that talk about the developing a business plan.

This is part 1 of 8.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series: The Marketing and Sales Plan

In this part of our developing your business plan series, we will go over the Marketing and Sales Management part of the business plan.

Here you tell your potential investors and yourself how you are going to develop the market for your business.

How do you plan to penetrate the market? How do you plan to expand your business through marketing? Do you plan to add locations, franchise, have distributors or any other ways you will look to expand your business. Also, if you are manufacturing a product how will you get it to market? Will you sell direct, to wholesalers, or some other way?

In the final part of the marketing strategy you will want to go into detail on how you plan to reach the market. Will you have an advertising budget that will allow for television or will you look to some other means such as newspapers and magazines. What kind of online presence do you plan to have? Will you have a basic website or a full blown e-commerce site? What other kinds of marketing do you plan to do such as catalogs, brochures, trade shows, or other kinds of promotions?

Next you will focus on sales. Will you have a internal sales force that people come in to visit or external that they go out and visit or both? Will the sales force be direct employees of the company or will they be contractors and the reasons you decided to make that decision. You will also want details on how you plan to recruit your sales people, train them, and compensate them. Explain all details and how you came to those decisions.

From there you will need a detail plan of how the sales force will sell your business. What their requirements are going to be and how they will get customers. Will they cold call on a list you buy or will they be knocking on doors.

Next week we will get into the product line part of the business plan.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Business Opportunities...

Looking to have a business from home?

The Home Biz Notes Blog has a listing of 13 on line businesses that you can start and operate from home.

While this is in no way a complete list they will give you some good ideas on what you can pursue yourself. Just make sure whatever you decide to do, you find something that you are going to enjoy.

There is many opportunities to make money out there, what is going to be yours?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Andrew Morrison...

Here is a video from Andrew Morrison from the Small Business Camp that gives some helpful information on building your business.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bad or Good Times?

The New York Times has an article about some of the things that Small Businesses are facing during these economic times.

While the NY Times paints a somewhat down picture (isn’t this what newspapers do?), the truth is this is a great opportunities for small business owners. At the first sign of troubles corporations start letting people go even if it causes them long term harm because they are only look at this quarters financial numbers.

This is the perfect opportunity for small businesses to show that they provide the best customer service and they will not slack during the off times.

Your suppliers will be looking to move inventory and that is good you. It’s time to get better terms from your suppliers as they are going to have access inventory and that is an opportunity for you to get better merchandise for the dollar.

Don’t listen to everyone who cries doom and gloom. Look at these times as an opportunity to grow and improve your business, it is an opportunity waiting for you.

Monday, February 04, 2008

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Starting A Small Business Series-Organization and Mangement

The next section of the business plan is the Organization and Management.

In this section of the business plan you go into details about how your business is going to operation.

You will also want to detail all the departments your business will have. If it is just you or one other person this is not critical but if there will be multiple people running the business you will want to detail what the departments and power will they have, and how will the fit into the operation of the business.

At this point you will also want to detail the salary and benefits that people will be receiving and justifying those costs.

Have a detailed organization structure for the business. Usually you will have the CEO on top with the flow down through the different departments. You will also want a narrative description of each section, and how information will flow so that things don’t have to go through multiple layers to get things done.

Once again you will want to detail what organization form you’re going to take: sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. You will want to name all the owners, their percentage of ownership, involvement in the business, and if a corporation what will the distribution of the stock be.

Next if there is going to be management beyond the owners you will want to detail the information from them. You will want to include their name and a good resume but that includes more detailed information. This information needs to justify what this person will be working for the business and not there just because they are a friend. If the company has been in operation for some time you will want to include years of service with the business.

Finally if you are going to have a board of directors you will want to follow all the above details with explanations on why they were chosen for the position and what they bring special to the company.

Once again you can go to the Small Business Administration Website for more information.

Friday, February 01, 2008

HR information

The Bootstrapper Blog which is a great resource for information I have discovered has a listing of 100 articles to help with HR. Even if you only need to hire one person this information can come in hand since there is so many issues that need to be dealt with.

Give a look to some of their links and remember to tell them that the Business Connect Blog referred you.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Partner with relatives?

Found this video on You Tube. Does a good job of discussing the pros and cons of having relatives as partners in your business.

Before going into the a partnership of any kind I would highly recommend you weigh the pros and cons and talk with an attorney and a tax accountant. In most cases a corporation is a better entity to use than a regular partnership.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Books from my reading list...

Here are some books that I recommend for everyone to read. The links will take you to Amazon to purchase if you are interested.

The first one is the autobiography of Zig Ziglar. Not only does he give you some of the background on the many stories he tells but you also learn more about how the became the person he is.

The second one is from a guy who started off as a nanny in Los Angeles and is now the Executive Producer of Survivor

Next one is from Brian Tracy who is a success and personal achievement authority. The book describes a trip he took when he was 20 and the many lessons learned on the journey that helps him through life.

The next one is one of Zig’s new books and I am currently reading it. It has some great stories.

These are good books and I hope you will take a look at.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

30 Second Speech...

Do you have your elevator speech ready?

You’re probably asking yourself, what the heck I am talking about having your elevator speech ready. Simply put, when you get in an elevator today, or on the light rail train, or any place were you meet someone, can you explain your business in 30 seconds or less?

I went to a meeting of consultants in Reno this past October. While there one of the sessions was talking about marketing yourself and one of the emphases was on being able to describe your business in 30 seconds or less. The gentleman who ran the session cornered me the first night and I tried to give one but I babbled on.

By the last day I was able to give a great 30 second speech on what I do for a living. While for some this may seem simple, we try to interject so much into talking about what we do, that we do not have a concise quick speech about it.

I would recommend you practice giving a 30 second speech until you get you have it down pat. Then you can meet someone and quickly promote yourself and impress the person you’re talking to. The Freelance Folder also has some information on this.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series-Company Information

In the first part of preparing your actual business plan we talked about the marketing section. This week we will go over Company Information.

As can you can tell from the title, this section of the business plan deals with your company and how it would be organized.

You will want to mention the type of business organization you have chosen and an explanation of why you choose that form of business. You will also want to include information about the people who will be running the business such as yourself including what you will bring to the table from abilities, knowledge and drive.

You will also want to make some comment on how all of these elements will work together to build a successful business. I have mentioned in the past how important mentors for you and would recommend mentioning that you do have mentors in your weak areas so that you can overcome those.

If your company is a corporation, have information about the board of directors and once again what they will bring to the table to make the business a success.

While this will not be a large section of the business plan, it is the section that you get to talk about what you bring to the table. This is not the time to be modest but on the other hand make sure that you are honest about your abilities. In fact, honesty in this point will gain you brownie points and gain more by saying that you have mentors in this area.

For more information see the Small Business Administration website.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Declutter your life...

I have found the Bootstrapper Blog to have some wonderful resources.

Today is no different as it has a listing of 50 online resources to help unclutter your life. Clutter is one of the things that does more damage than anything else in the house and in our cars.
I have to admit that for years I was a pack rat and kept everything that I might want to have sometime in the future. Meanwhile I collected more and more stuff to the point once my wife and I were married and she also happens to be a pack rat, combined with the fact that we are both sentimental, you can imagine how much stuff we had.

But after watching the TLC show Clean Sweep and reading a book from its main organizer Peter Walsh, I have slowly changed my ways.

My office is still pretty cluttered since it is also the only place with a spare closet, but we are slowly getting rid of most of access and we have set a goal of being uncluttered by Easter so we can have family over.

Take a look at the resources offered on the Bootstrapper blog and get clutter under control.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Working Capital

During the Starting a Small Business Series we have gone over some of the basics of making your business plan and will continue that series until you are ready to print it out and start selling it.

One of the most important things going to the operation of the business is going to be how much working capital you have. Under capitalization is one of the biggest problems facing many small businesses but on the other hand it is often the only way you can get started as was the case with me.

The Accounting Solver Blog has some more information on working capital so take a look at that as it could be a good reference for you.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tips for those working from home.

Top 30 Tips for Staying Productive and Sane While Working From Home

The Zen Habits blog has these 30 tips to saying productive and since some of you how are planning on starting their own business will be working from home, this will come in handy. Since my office is also at home I thought these tips were good.

I agree that you must have a define work space. That way you are away from the rest of the house. I also find it helpful to have a door that you can close so when you are doing important business you will not have to worry about noise.

Another suggestion they have is have a good chair. This is another item that is so important. You are going to spend many hours in your office working on your computer you need a good office chair with good ergonomics. I am one to talk right now since my office chair broke and since I have not bought a new you yet I am using a winged high back chair right now that is supposed to be used by visitors.

I would also have set times you need to be working. These times are work times and everyone should know not to bother you while you are working during these periods. Also track your time so you know how many hours you are putting in and don't fudge!!

These are a few that stood out for me. Go over to the Zen Habits blog and see what suggestions stand out to you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Invoicing Services

The Bootstrapper Blog has a listing of 20 on line invoice services. I also offered some comments on my other blog Biz Plan Hacks.

As a small business owner you need to keep cost down. When it comes to invoice software the most popular is Quickbooks which is also expensive although going down in price every year. However, there is cheaper alternatives that I don't recommend because of their lack of functionality.

What I said on my other website is to figure out your needs, look at all the alternatives, figure out of they meet your needs for the next couple of years, make sure they are easy for you to use and finally stick to one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series-The Marketing Analysis

We have talked about some of the important ingredients of a business plan, now it is time to get to the nitty gritty and start looking at the important sections of the business plan.

While you may vary your business plan depending on the type of business you are trying to start, you will want to make sure the basics are in your plan. The first of the basics is the market analysis.

The first part of the marketing analysis is the industry description and outlook. This is where you discuss the type of business that you plan to start. You will want to be very specific in all the details. If you are opening a retail store, what kind of retail store? Is it going to sell model trains, be a tourist shop, are you going to build something? Answer these questions. Then you will want to mention what the market is doing. Using the model train analogy you will want to mention that the market for model trains is going down due to market maturity and what the long term trends look like. If you’re opening a tourist shop what is the long term outlook for tourist in the area? Will a new tourist attraction open soon? Once again be very detailed.

Next you will want to identify your target market. How are you planning to sell to? How big is the market you are going after in your location? What characteristics does your market have? Are there needs already being met but you will offer something new and innovative? Once again the more detailed the better.

From the research you have done, why you will be able to sell to this market. How will you gain market share over your competitors. How much market share will gain from your geographical area and what is the market growth potential.

You also need to detail how the market is changing. If you were looking to start building computers you would need detailed information on how the computer industry has changed over the last 10 years and how you would stay ahead of the curve.

How did you come up with your marketing data? Potential investors will want to know the resources you used such as Chamber of Commerce data, census information, media outlets, trade groups and any other information you were able to find.

You will also want to detail any marketing tests you preformed and the data that was brought forth.

What will be the lead times? If you are building computers, how much time from the moment of customer order till the customer receives their product?

The next subject would be your competitive analysis. Who are your competitors and what advantages will you have over them? You will want to provide what you will be able to do well and what will be your weaknesses. While we don’t like to point out the negatives, you will have some disadvantages and you will want to spell them out otherwise your potential investors will feel that you are trying to sugar coat everything.

Finally you will want to discuss any regulatory hurdles you will have jump to start the business. You will want specifics on cost of applications, what you have to accomplish, legal fees, and time costs.Once again I have to stress that you need to have everything in the marketing plan to be very detail and specific. The more detail the better.

For more information look at the Small Business Administration Website.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Are you a procrastinator?

I have to say yes to this question unfortunately but I have found ways to over come it. The Putt it off Blog has 28 ways in which you can overcome it yourself.

I overcame it by setting very specific goals with specific targets and sticking to them. I also have a very competitive spirit so I use that to be a motivating factor.

Take a look at some of the suggestions and see what will work for you. Just because it works for person A does not mean it will work for person B, so you need to find your own path to overcoming this vise.

Here is another area where a mentor can help you. Seek someone that can watch over you and motivate you to overcome the problem. Don't let procrastination harm your potential for success, overcome the problem and be stronger for it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January is Building Time...

Time to get the shoppers back into your store…

After having lived through the Christmas season you almost feel like you can take a breather before you face the long year ahead. But instead of sitting back and relaxing, it is time to get those customers back into the store according to this New York Times article.

I have to agree with the article. While we all know the Christmas season is tuff, it’s the months between January and March that really make the business. While sales may not be what they are in the Christmas season, this is the time of the year to build your customer loyalty, really focus on the customer service, and turn those one time customers into customers for life.

The Babe of Business blog has eight things you can do to increase your business. While you should be doing these kind of things year around, now is the perfect time to entice customers into the store and build your loyal clientele.

Now is also a good time to building relationships and building joint marketing programs with complimentary businesses. Find businesses that sell complimentary products to yours or have complimentary services and work together to build business in your stores. You can do joint advertising, promote the other in your store, and build a long term relationship that will benefit both businesses.

January is not the time to rest, it’s the time to build your business and make your business a success year round.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Accomplishing Goals?

What action have you taken in 2008?

The Freelance Folder blog is asking what you have done so far in the 2008 year to do something new and get moving with your projects.

We are two weeks into the New Year so how are you doing on accomplishing your goals? Do you have your goals written down and are referencing them on a daily basis? Remember having written down goals is very critical to success. You need to have daily, weekly, monthly, short term (less than one to two years), medium range (1 to 5 years) and the all important long term goals (more than 5 years-the big goals).

Each time you accomplish a goal you will get excited. Now it’s the big goals that get you excited by every time you accomplish even a daily goal it creates excitement. I set goals for the day and every time I can scratch one of them off it gets me excited to get to the next one and the next one after that. Pretty soon you start accomplishing your short range goals which creates more excitement and one you reach on of your long range goals you are in heaven (not literally unless of course that was you ultimate goal).

So take a few minutes and write down those goals!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series-Business Plan Essentials:

I have started with the basics when it comes to getting your business plan up and going. Today I will show you some of the essential elements you will need in your business plan. In future weeks we will discuss each one of them and then talk about other things you may want to include in it.

From the Small Business Administration website here are the essentials you will want in your business plan:

Executive Summary

Market Analysis

Company Description

Organization & Management

Marketing & Sales Management

Service or Product Line

Funding Request



Your business plan may require more information since every plan is different. But this is the bare minimum you will want. Even though the Executive Summary comes first in the business plan we will talk about it last since you should write it last.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Get A PO Box

Do you have a PO Box?

My Organizing Biz has a blog on why you should have a PO Box plus your regular mailing address.

I post office box is a great place to send mail that you know is going to result in solicitations. When you apply for a business license it becomes public record and will be in the local business journal. While this is good because it is free publicity for you, there are many businesses out there that look at these listings as a source to cold call. When you have the official business sent to the post office box, all that junk mail will also go into the box and not into your personal mail box.

I would recommend going to the PO Box more than Kelly does in the blog. I visit my Post Office box at least one per week. That way I do get all the important papers such as government forms but also can get rid of the junk mail so my box doesn’t get too full since the local postal employees get upset about that.

For the most part PO Boxes are not that expensive although I am paying almost 3 times as much in Holladay, Utah as I did in Spokane, Washington so what area you live in does play a factor.

Avoid the hassles, get a PO Box.

Starting on a Budget

You can start a business on a budget?

Yaro Starak from the Entrepreneur Journeys blog goes into detail on how he started his businesses with little money but has made a go of it.

While we would all love to have tons of money to get started you there is economic ways to get started and the internet provides many of them.

Take a look at some of the ideas presented as they could be the catalyst for you and your adventure. Just remember that not everything is going to work for everyone but take things that will work best for you and build on it.

You will never know what you can achieve until you give it a try. Remember to believe in yourself.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Six Lessons from Stephen King?

The Freelance Folder Blog has six lessons learned from Salem’s Lot and Stephen King about Freelancing. While it was written toward freelancers, it has information that applies to most any small business.

Lesson one is to trust the prickling on your neck. In other words if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do just for the business. Many times people just starting out or smaller operators want the business so bad that they are willing to deal in situations that may not be for the best. Remember it is better to turn down work that is going to end up being a bigger nightmare than it is worth than accepting the sale or project and having a living nightmare on your hands.

Lesson Two is if the locals say the house is haunted, don’t go ghost hunting. In other words listen to the warning of others. If someone says they have had problems with this person or this company or they have other warnings about dealings, make sure you take their warnings to heart. Once again if you don’t you could end up with a nightmare on your hands.

Lesson Three says do not hang around with people that suck the life out of you. In other words avoid people who are emotional and spiritual vampires. I have a sister in law like this; she will suck every emotion out of you. We feel drained after having to deal with her for just a short time. Find people that stimulate you and make you feel good, whether it be an employee, partner, spouse, or friends.

Lesson Four is if the problem is bigger than you get help. In other words find a mentor who can help you with your business. Find people that you can collaborate with and build your business.

Lesson Five is that there is three ways out of a situation gone bad: 1. Stay and Fight and Die a miserable death, 2. Stay Fight and Barely Survive, or 3. you can run and hope it doesn’t catch up with you. Well you probably won’t die from a business project gone bad (ok, I guess that depends on who the project was with), but you may wish you were dead. There are times you just need to cut loose, lick your wounds, and deal with the losses.

Finally Lesson Six is Keep the Faith. Have faith that in the long run you will be build your business and become the success that you see fit.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Starting A Small Business Series-Cash Flow Statements

We’ve talked about the Profit and Loss Statement and the Balance Sheet and now we come to the important cash flow statement.

While a P&L will tell you if you made money, the cash flow statement tells you how much cash you have to operate your business. I will give you the basics of the cash flow and you can find more information at the Accounting Coach website.

First you start off with your balance of cash in the bank. So say you have $1000.00 left over from December as you enter January, that will go to the top of your cash flow. Next you add in any cash payments you have receive (or are projecting to receive). Next you add in payments you receive from credit accounts (accounts receivable). Finally you add in any investment income. This would be any investment you make into the business for example say you put $1000.00 towards a computer out of personal funds.

Then you subtract any payments you make during the month. This will include every cash payment you make such as rent, utilities, operating supplies. You subtotal that amount, and then add any capital purchases, loan principal and any draws you take. Say you take out $10.00 to go get your self lunch; that is taken out of your cash flow because that money is no longer there for company purchases.

You then subtract your outgoing from your incoming cash and you have your ending cash balance. Your ending cash balance from January then becomes your beginning cash balance for February and you start all over again.

Here is a sample Excel spreadsheet showing a cash flow statement.

Cash Flow Statement

Next week we will start detailing what you need in your business plan.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Lazy Employee?

Do you have a lazy employee?

The Bootstrapper Blog has 20 Fail-Proof ways to expose a lazy employee.

Now there are a couple of problems with this. First of all if you have only one employee and they are the one that is lazy, trying to get rid of them is going to be a lot of hassle and you will have to do everything yourself until you find a new employee.

The other thing to consider is what some of these items will have on the moral of your people. While you may have one bad employee by installing cameras or some of the other items talked about could make other employees feel as though do not trust them.

I once worked for a rental car company and the owner of the franchise wanted to install cameras on the front counter to insure that the employees were working constantly and not standing around. Guess what, it did nothing to the lazy employee, it just caused the other employees to feel like the owner hated them and the company loss several good employees.

The best thing I could suggest is to be observant and make sure to make sure everything you do is written down and documented. Many times a lazy employees fellow employees will take care of the situation themselves.