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volume six issue five

TURNING A

DREAM

I N TO A REALITY

JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Do They Have Any Value In Your Business? T I P S T O L E A D Y O U R B U S I N E S S T O S U C C E S1 S www.risbj.com | volume six issue five


AD V E RT I SE M E N T

Making Your Business Energy Efficient Is Easier and More Affordable Than You Think

Small businesses need to minimize costs to stay competitive. Efficiency upgrades in lighting, HVAC systems, refrigeration, and specialized equipment are just some examples of where small businesses can save money by reducing their energy bills. Fortunately, making these upgrades is easier, less disruptive, and less expensive than you may realize.

Small businesses will benefit from more than just having lower energy bills. Increased efficiency also lowers maintenance costs on equipment and lengthens its life span. Efficiency upgrades also provide a better working climate, increasing employee productivity. Saving energy is also good for the environment, which benefits everyone. Seeking energy efficiency should be a top priority, and here are four reasons why it’s easier than you think. Expert help is available to you

Minimal disruption of your operations

An experienced Energy Specialist will make recommendations for improvements, and work with you to select the right efficiency upgrades for your facility. After the appropriate areas are identified, he or she will work closely with you and your schedule to complete the work.

Efficient upgrades eligible under the Small Business Direct Install Program are minimally invasive, and take only hours to complete. This means little to zero downtime for your business operations.

It’s balance sheet friendly Up to 70%* of the costs of efficiency upgrades are covered by incentives from National Grid. Spend less to save more.

You can spread out costs Certain businesses may be eligible to spread out the balance of the project costs over time as part of their energy bills. The “on-bill” repayment option allows businesses to better budget energy efficiency capital investments.

Visit ngrid.com/smallbusiness to schedule an assessment of your business and start saving. *Restrictions apply. See website for details. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2017. These programs are funded by the energy efficiency charge on all customers’ gas and electric bills, in accordance with Rhode Island law.

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©2017 National Grid.


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contents

volume six issue five

INSIDE THIS ISSUE

8

6 Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea 8 Veteran-Owned Small Business 10 Rhode Island Real Estate Guide 12 Real Estate News: Multi-Family Homes 13 Your Home Could Be Your Greatest Asset 15 Lead Your Business To Success 16 The Importance Of Having A Buyer’s Agent 17 Professional Growth Monthly Activities 20 Disorganized Offices? What’s In Yours? 22 Job Descriptions: Do They Have Any Value?

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ON THE COVER volume six issue five

24 Personnel Practices

TURNING A

DREAM

I N TO A REALITY

26 Business Trade Mission To Ireland 29 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

15

12

JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Do They Have Any Value In Your Business?

Featured Real Estate in Rhode Island

27

Tips To Lead Your Business To Success

TIPS TO LEAD YOUR BUSINESS TO SUCCESS

Mission Benefits:

www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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SECRETARY OF STATE | Nellie M.Review Gorbea& Forecast SMALL BUSINESS |What Real Estate Clams Me About SMALL Manage A Remote Worker or Office SMALL BUSINESS BUSINESS || How Dear To Mom: A Taught Letter Home From ALeadership One Day Warrior

S

e c r e t a r y

O

f

S

t a t e

Nellie M. Gorbea

NEWS FOR NOTARIES DURING THE BUSY REAL ESTATE SEASON by Secretary Of State Nellie M. Gorbea

Spring is here and with it, the beginning of a busy real estate season. As homes are bought and sold, legal documents and closing agreements will need to be notarized. Real estate and loan documents are only a few examples of the many documents that require notarization every day. An individual who is commissioned to notarize documents is known as a Notary Public. Notaries Public in Rhode Island offer an important service and are authorized by the Governor to take acknowledgments; administer oaths and affirmations; execute jurats; witness signatures; certify copies; execute protests; and issue subpoenas to witnesses. This year, I convened a task force of stakeholders to look at national best practices and identify ways to modernize our notary public law. With their recommendations, I am now working with the General Assembly to make important improvements to the law. The current notary process only allows for an outdated, multi-step procedure of locating a notary, filling out forms,

OUR PROPOSED LEGISLATION ADDRESSES THE NEED FOR THE NOTARY PROCESS TO REFLECT MODERN COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS BY PROVIDING FOR ELECTRONIC NOTARIZATION 6

RISBJ | rhode | rhode island small businessjournal journal island small business

stamping documents in the notary’s presence, and filing the documents wherever appropriate. This can cost businesses time and money. Our proposed legislation addresses the need for the notary process to reflect modern commercial transactions by providing for electronic notarization. Electronic notary services create an opportunity for significant cost and time savings, as well as ensure documents are transferred quickly and efficiently. Already about half of the states across the country authorize electronic notarizations and it is time for Rhode Island to follow suit. In addition to electronic notarization, the legislation requires education for notaries and will ensure we protect consumers by establishing clear advertising requirements for notary services.

Notary Renewals

In Rhode Island, notaries public serve four-year terms and file their applications with the Department of State. The current number of active notaries registered in the state is 20,686 with 1,794 new commissions issued so far this year. This year, more than a third (8,010) of active notaries are set to expire. In our effort to engage and empower all Rhode Islanders and move commerce forward, the Department of State has been working to notify those expiring notaries of their need to renew for another four-year term. In addition, we have a page on the Department of State website [ http://sos.ri.gov/ divisions/notary-public/becomea-notary/ ] that provides specific information such as listing requirements, answers to frequently asked questions, and a PDF download

of the reappointment/renewal form for those seeking a notary renewal. To renew, notaries must mail or bring the completed application along with a check for $80, made payable to the Department of State, to our Business Services Division at 148 W. River St., Providence, RI 02904. Whether you are a new or an established small business, the Department of State’s Business Services Division is here to help. You can reach us by calling (401) 222-3040, emailing us at corporations@sos.ri.gov or visiting our office at 148 West River Street, Providence. Please feel free to contact me directly with any thoughts or suggestions at secretarygorbea@sos.ri.gov or visit our website sos.ri.gov. We look forward to working with you to grow your business or non-profit in Rhode Island.


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Turning a Dream int

aReality 8

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to

V E T E R A N - OW N E D SMALL BUSINESS GETS NAVIGANT SBA BACKED LOAN On May 17, 2017, the Rhode Island District Office gathered with the business lending team at Navigant Credit Union in Smithfield to celebrate Smoke & Squeal Barbeque, a veteranowned small business, and recent recipient of a SBA 7(a) loan. Smoke & Squeal Barbeque food truck setup shop in the Navigant parking lot while owner Adam Batchelder served a horde of hungry employees. Adam Batchelder, a veteran of the United State Marine Corps Reserve, served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in motor transportation, achieving the rank of corporal before his discharge. During Adam’s reserve service he was also enrolled at Johnson & Wales, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts in 2006. Since that time he has become an accomplished Executive Chef, Culinary Instructor and Food Service Director for a multi-national company. Five years ago, Batchelder began planning his dream to become his own barbeque food truck owner and operator. Being a native of Massachusetts, he saw the saturation of food trucks in the area and opted to focus in Rhode Island. New and more flexible food truck legislation passed in Rhode Island, paving the way for him to open in the Ocean State. He carefully researched all food trucks across the state, including the six or so barbeque trucks, to identify their queue times, menu offerings, and their routes to best identify how he could differentiate his future business. Batchelder knew barbeque was his passion and specifically researched the best barbeque smoking equipment for almost a year before selecting his current smoker, a Southern Pride SGR400 smoker, which he incorporated into his food truck. Serving hot “out of the smoker” food versus reheated and transported barbeque separates Smoke & Squeal from his competition. His passion to succeed is demonstrated in every careful detail of his business. In July of 2016, Adam began working with the Amit Basnet, Business Counselor at the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, a prime grantee of the Small Business Administration. “Adam had been working on

this idea for a long time, he had solid industry experience, so when he came to me he was already a very prepared client and that made my life a lot easier.” said Basnet, “Over the next six months we polished his business plan, we did a lot of market research and looked at market analysis and we also did rigorous work on his two year projections to get them as good as possible before we reached out to the banks.” he added. “I wish I could clone Adam because he is one of the most prepared, most open-minded, most detail oriented clients I have ever worked with and he’s always open to ideas and suggestions and he’s always two steps ahead of the game.” Upon completion of his business plan, Batchelder approached Pamela LeBreche, Assistant Vice President and Relationship Manager, at Navigant Credit Union. “What resonated with me from the minute I met Adam is his passion for barbeque,” said LeBreche. “We meet with all types of business and Adam came in so well prepared not only for business ownership but for selecting something he could put his heart and soul into.” she added. For LeBreche, the choice was easy. Within four weeks, Batchelder had secured a $100,000 SBA 7(a) loan through Navigant. Speaking to the importance of the loan, he stated, “It wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I needed a loan, and if I wasn’t going to get the loan or the loan wasn’t going to happen in the timing that I needed, it wouldn’t have worked.” “Adam Batchelder and his Veteran-owned small business, Smoke & Squeal BBQ, are a testament to the Rhode Island small business community,” praised Regional Administrator (A) and Rhode Island District Director of the Small Business Administration, Mark S. Hayward. “By using the resources available to him like the SBDC, Adam was able to ensure he was best prepared to garner the capital he needed from Navigant Credit Union. The SBA loan programs are made specifically to aid small business owners like Adam and we couldn’t be happier to help a veteran of the armed forces create their dream.” added Hayward. www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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RHODE I REAL

TOP RHODE ISLAN

TOTAL RI REAL ESTATE

7,445

number of properties for sale

$437,809

1,234

average listing price

number of properties for sale

Washington County

Providence County

$266,252 average listing price

3,552

number of properties for sale

$501,662

average listing price

“When investors are participating in the marke is high and there are still good deals out the competitively when sp

said Brenda L. Marchwicki, President of t 10

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


ISLAND ESTATE

ND REAL ESTATE COUNTIES

4

e

May/June 2017

Sales Information

Bristol County

Kent County

$297,759 average listing price

404

number of properties for sale

$529,608 average listing price

Newport County

y

1,319

number of properties for sale

$564,997 average listing price

859

number of properties for sale

et, that’s a good sign that consumer confidence ere. The trick is being able to act quickly and potting a hot property,�

the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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REAL ESTATE

NEWS

R I

S A L E S

S O A R

I N

T H E

M O N T H

O F

A P R I L

F O R

MULTI-FAMILY HOMES The multifamily home sector ruled Rhode Island’s housing market in April. Investors looking to capitalize on rising rents drove a 43 percent increase in sales over April of 2016. The median price of those sales rose 6.9 percent from the prior year, to $192,500 according to statistics released today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. “When investors are participating in the market, that’s a good sign that consumer confidence is high and there are still good deals out there. The trick is being able to act quickly and competitively when spotting a hot property,” said Brenda L. Marchwicki, President of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. In contrast to the multifamily home market, sales of singlefamily homes fell 4.1 percent. Such sales had a median sales price of $245,500, a 1.9 percent increase over the prior year. Condominiums sales showed the same trend. Condo sales

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

fell two percent last month but saw the most significant increase in median sales price of all property types with a 19.3 percent gain. At $234,900, the median price of condo sales in April was the highest it has been since November of 2014. “The availability of smaller and less expensive starter homes is extremely limited right now and investors are edging out first-time buyers in the multifamily market. Ultimately, that has made condos an enticing option for many people. And, since lending restrictions on condos eased last year, more buyers are able to seal the deal,” commented Marchwicki. The supply of homes for sale dipped among all property types last month and sales in process fell as well. Slower sales in the months ahead are likely as a result of tightening inventory. - See more at: http://www.riliving.com/News/ Article/1693#sthash.DM4CxoRd.dpuf


Your Home Could Be Your Greatest Asset | SMALL BUSINESS

Your Home Could be your Greatest Asset. Protect it. Here’s the good news: Property values continue to rebound after the Great Recession. In fact, Zillow.com reports that the median home value in the U.S. now stands at $187,300 — an increase of 5.1% in just the last year.1

by Ted Donnelly

So what’s the bad news? According to BloombergBusiness, housing represents 63% of the total wealth held by most Americans—a figure that includes personal savings, investments, and even workplace retirement accounts.2 Given these statistics, it’s easy to see why so many new homeowners are eager to purchase mortgage insurance from their lenders. That way, if something tragic happens, they can be sure that the lenders will be paid in full and that their families will retain ownership of this valuable asset. Be sure to consider all the options. It’s important, however, for homeowners to realize that there are other ways to protect the lifestyle and wealth of their families. Personally owned life insurance, for example, can perform many of the same functions as mortgage insurance, but it offers greater flexibility. That’s because

1

RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

life insurance gives your beneficiaries the freedom to determine how the death benefit will be spent. Let’s take a look at why that might be important. You—and your loved ones—may want greater flexibility. While your family can always use the death benefit to retire the mortgage, there may be more immediate financial needs. With life insurance, they have the option of using the money to pay medical bills, cover funeral expenses, or simply keep the household up and running in your absence. It may also make sense for your loved ones to pay down the mortgage over time, so they can use the insurance proceeds for other purposes and take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction. What’s more, personally owned life insurance is portable, so as long as your policy remains in good standing, you will remain covered—no matter where you live or how many times you move. Of course, most people don’t buy a home simply for its value—but now, more than

ever, that is an important consideration. If your home—and any equity you have built up—represents your largest financial asset, be sure to weigh all your options and take whatever steps you can to protect it. No matter what you decide to do, there’s a good chance that you—and your loved ones—will sleep better for it. This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Ted Donnelly Agent, New York Life Insurance Company. To learn more about the information or topics discussed, please contact Ted Donnelly at 401-276-8728 or efdonnelly@ ft.newyorklife.com. As of July 31, 2016. “Americans’ wealth shrinks as middle-class take a hit from falling home prices,” The Guardian 12 December 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/ money/2014/dec/12/americans-wealth-shrinksmiddle-class-falling-home-prices

1

2

Ted Donnelly

Agent, New York Life Insurance Company

www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal


Lead Your Business To Success | SMALL BUSINESS

7

common reasons for leadership failure

LEAD YOUR BUSINESS TO SUCCESS: An Interview with Dr. Mary Kelly

Through her company, Productive Leaders, Inc., Dr. Kelly has been researching leadership for the past decade. Along with her colleague, Peter Stark, she found that there are seven main reasons why managers fail.

These common reasons for leadership failure include:

1. Arrogance. 2. Loss of trust. 3. Inability to manage

or motivate a team.

4. Perceived unfairness. 5. Demonstrated lack of caring.

6. Lack of vision. 7. Valuing popularity over respect.

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

This year was the 20th anniversary of the Bryant Women’s Summit, an event that draws hundreds of executives (comprising both women and men!) to enjoy an event that’s packed with information and inspiration. Attendees benefit from an array of activities designed to empower women, from educational workshops to provocative speeches. This year, the Bryant Women’s Summit welcomed several truly electrifying keynote speakers, including Academy Award winner Geena Davis.

“ L

A good leader must be willing to make the tough decisions that earn respect

by Aileen McDonough

ast year, I went to the Women’s Summit and had the opportunity to interview Carla Hall, one of the hosts of ABC’s “The Chew.” I was honored to be able to attend this event once again, this time participating in a media roundtable with two of the keynote speakers, leadership expert Dr. Mary Kelly and Nobel Prize activist Leymah Gbowee. Both women had a lot to say on leadership, and I’m excited to share their wisdom with Rhode Island Small Business Journal readers in a short series of two articles. Dr. Kelly is the author of several books on business management, and she speaks about leadership to corporations and organizations across the country. She believes that many problems (businessrelated and otherwise) stem from failures in leadership. How can we, as small business owners, become better leaders within our businesses and communities? According to Dr. Kelly, “We have to be consistent with our behavior. If people see you in the workplace in a leadership role as being consistent and fair all the time, you’ll be respected.”

Dr. Kelly learned a lot about leadership during her 25 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. “People think that the military is about war, but really it’s about change; it’s all about change,” she told me. “We’ve got entire branches of the military that are dedicated to humanitarian assistance, and I’ve been very fortunate to be part of that. I believe strongly that to whom much is given, much is expected.” So, what makes a good leader? Dr. Kelly emphasized one of the important skills: decision making. A good leader must be willing to make the tough decisions that earn respect, instead of making popular decisions that makes the leader feel good in the moment, but aren’t best for the organization in the long run. This decision making, often glossed over during easier times, comes into sharp relief when a leader is navigating an organization through difficult times. “When times are good, you don’t need leadership; you just need people to show up,” explained Dr. Kelly. “A good leader is a person you need when times are tough.”

Aileen McDonough 3am Writers www.3amwriters.com www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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SMALL BUSINESS | The Importance Of Having A Buyer’s Agent

The Importance of Having a Buyer’s Agent by Tina Monaco

Most buyers in today’s real estate market begin their search for a home using online websites like Zillow or Trulia. It’s super convenient, and a very low-commitment way to see what homes are out there in your price range. There is a downside, however - third party websites do not often contain the most accurate information. At times, the information can be misleading, misinterpreted, and just plain inaccurate. What if I told you that there is an even better way to begin your home search that is just as convenient AND just as low-commitment that will also provide dedicated, individualized service? What if I told you this individualized service was FOR FREE? This might sound too good to be true, but working with a realtor as a buyer costs absolutely nothing! Here’s what you need to know. As members of the RI Association of Realtors and Statewide Multiple Listing Service, we have the ability to set our clients up with our MLS system, and listings matching your criteria will be sent to you. You can view them in a portal, which gives you access to all the same information that realtors have - just like a third party website, without the errors. Unlike third party websites, you get advice and information about properties you are interested in that is in your best interest, from a local expert, and on your timeline. If you want to watch listings for 6 months without even venturing to an open house, that’s absolutely fine. We work with many buyers through all stages of the home-buying process. Wherever you are, that’s okay. There are also certain, important things that a listing agent is not permitted to discuss with prospective buyers. So when you attend an open house or showing without representation, you may not be receiving the whole picture. As a representative for the buyer, realtors are able to discuss surrounding property values with our clients, and provide a comparative market

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

analysis. Similarly, a buyer’s agent can advise you how to make an offer as strong as possible, which is especially important in a seller’s market when there are multiple offers. Buyer’s agents are able to negotiate on behalf of their buyer, and can recommend a trusted inspector, closing attorney, and other vendors during the home buying process. As a home buyer, you are the expert in what you are looking for. And we get it, no one wants a third wheel tagging along pushing you into a home before you’re ready. A misconception is that signing an agency agreement with a realtor binds you till death-do-you-part, and if you don’t buy a house, you will have to pay them a commission anyway. An agency relationship disclosure just legally protects you to be assured you will have all the information you need to make the best decision for your family. It makes it clear who has the responsibility to the interests of the buyer and of the seller. The duration of the agency agreement can always be discussed. If you change your mind before the agreement expires and don’t buy a house - services are still free. Many buyers eventually decide to work with an agent, but we encourage you to reach out to a realtor much sooner in the process. In an era where we are checking out our own items at the grocery store, Real Estate continues to be service driven and relationship based. Take advantage of our services!

“The Monaco Group offers a team of agents, with complementary strengths, to provide you with a customized approach to fit your individualized needs. Affiliates of Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Reality, we provide exceptional service to buyers and sellers in Rhode Island. Contact us today at (401) 787-4307, or email us at themonacogroup@mottandchace.com.”


Monthly Activities: Engagement | PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

Professional Growth Monthly Activities Engagement by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

Are you and your team members really engaged when someone else is speaking? Is everyone listening to the speaker’s message and responding to the speaker’s questions with appropriate answers? Frequently, listeners are not engaged in what a speaker is saying. Instead, they may spend the time when the speaker is talking formulating how they will respond. The listener may miss important details. They may respond to a question they thought the speaker asked or argue with a point they thought a speaker made rather than addressing the speaker’s real messages. You may have observed this at meetings when two attendees are each speaking for a couple of minutes making the exact same point that the other speaker made over and over again. One of my former colleagues, Jody Borer, referred to this as being in “violent agreement.” Listening to and appropriately responding to an employee, a customer, client, or supplier may be a great way to show appreciation, increase commitment and engagement. Begin discussions with customers, clients, team members and suppliers by providing specific examples of how they have demonstrated their loyalty and thanking them for their engagement. This simple gesture may help you to set a tone for reaching a desired result rather than an impasse. It is easy to take for granted (or forget) all of the positive impact others may have had and instead focus on a recent disagreement or two. Counteract this tendency. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on and thinking about the best ways to

recognizing the engagement shown by the people who help make your business a success. Let these examples of positive engagement rather than occasional disagreements guide your business (and personal) relationships. This month’s professional growth activity focuses on engagement.

The Engagement Activity

Objective: Illustrate how easy it is to: 1) answer a question that a listener thought was being asked rather than the actual question and 2) adapt to and consequently overlook something very important to you. Participant: Amanda DeOliveira, a middle school special education teacher at the Holy Trinity School in Fall River, MA who participated in the Mind Games program at the 2017 New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) conference at the Rhode Island Convention Center (RICC)2 appears in the accompanying photo. The audience selected Amanda as the outstanding participant at the program. Amanda makes an extra effort to make the learning experience as enjoyable as possible for her students. Activity: I blindfolded Amanda and placed some lotion on her right hand. I asked her what is on your right hand? Amanda responded lotion, which was correct. I then touched her left hand and asked her what is on your left hand? Amanda responded lotion, which was not correct. I touched her hand again and she responded nothing, which was not correct. After several repetitions of my touching Amanda’s hand and her responding incorrectly I asked her to describe her engagement which was a great story. I touched her hand again, asked her what was on her hand and she again replied nothing. Finally, I asked her if her husband gave her anything for an engagement present. She responded correctly, my ring! Summary: Amanda helped demonstrate 1) how easy it is to adapt (and thus overlook) something very important (her engagement ring) and 2) how easy it is to change a question when I asked Amanda what is on your hand? and she responded to the question she thought I asked her what did you put on my hand? You might try this activity at one of your meetings or events to encourage people to spend extra energy focusing on positive aspects of their relationships and what is really important to them. Encourage your team members to understand questions being asked. This additional focus may help to yield some positive business results! I would like to thank Industrial Consultant Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments. 2 The NELMS conference is presented every year at the RICC, because of the quality of the center!!!

Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro

Independent Consultant in Human Factors, Learning and Human Resources

www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

17


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Disorganized Offices? w h a t

s

i n

by Kristin MacRae

People in business will say to me all the time that they don’t have time to get organized. They can’t take 3 hours out of their day to get organized. I wonder if they realize how much time they’re wasting by not being organized! I wonder if they realize how much money, stress and how many clients they’ve lost due to their disorganization. All people in business that are disorganized function the same way. They aren’t functioning. There’s chaos and it shows in their offices and how they present themselves. If you’re embarrassed to have me come in, I wonder how you feel when potential clients, co-workers, or managers see your office. When I see a disorganized desk, I don’t think to myself, “Wow, this is a disaster!” I think about how I can make this person more efficient

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| rhode island small business journal rhode island small business journal

y o u r s ?

and productive and set up working organized systems that will keep them organized. When going through offices, I constantly hear “I was looking for that” or “I forgot I had that.” Can you relate? If so, you’re in need of organization. You’ll be more efficient, more productive, less stressed, have more energy and your clients will have more confidence in you. Once you get organized your time management skills will improve because you are able to see clearer once the clutter has been removed. When you’re finished organizing your office, you’ll be motivated, energized, and ready to tackle another project. It will feel like you’ve been cleansed and have a brand new office. You will be excited to go into work the next day. Yes, really! Kristin MacRae Organizing and Efficiency Expert, organizinginri.com


Disorganized Offices | SMALL BUSINESS

The following is a list of what I find in disorganized offices. As you go through, highlight the ones that apply to you. If you’re disorganized, I bet you can relate. No processes or procedures in place. No organized systems in place. Attempts at organization that have failed. Piles of papers that usually get thrown out after we go through them. Organizing supplies i.e., filing trays, vertical trays not being utilized in an efficient manner. Files in drawers that aren’t hanging, they are just thrown in the drawer. Expired medication. Expired food. Money in the form of checks, cash, and gift cards. Abundance of writing utensils.(Most of them don’t work.) Empty file drawers. Cluttered file drawers. No drawer organizers being utilized.

Office supplies stored in all different areas.

When I see a

Duplicate files stored in all different areas in the office.

disorganized desk, I don’t

Files and binders that have not been gone through in years. (Most get thrown out.)

think to myself, “Wow,

Too much work material on the desk.

this is a disaster!” I think

Bulletin boards full of cluttered memos.

about how I can make this person more efficient and productive and set up working organized systems that will keep them organized.

Too many chatzkies on the desk.

Papers taped to the wall. Bookshelves full of books or binders that are no longer being utilized. Credit card receipts and bank receipts in all different places in the office. Take out menus in all different drawers. Binders not labeled. Space not being maximized. Time management skills need some tweaking. Dirty, dusty desks. No system for business cards. www.risbj.com | | volume volumesix sixissue issuefour five www.risbj.com

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SMALL BUSINESS | Job Descriptions: Do They Have Any Value In Your Business?

JOB DESCRIPTIONS DO THEY HAVE ANY VALUE IN YOUR BUSINESS?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU REVIEWED YOUR OWN JOB DESCRIPTION?

DO YOU EVEN HAVE A JOB DESCRIPTION? by Larry Girouard Do members of your management team, or staff, have job descriptions? If job descriptions exist in your business, have they been modified in the last 5 years, or longer? In nearly 20 years as a business consultant I have never worked with a company that actively used job descriptions beyond their application during the hiring process. Prior to consulting I recall working for only one company where job descriptions were used quarterly as the foundation for a bonus program. While in practice job descriptions can best be described as a static document, in reality they can be one of the most important documents in the

running of a business. Everything from recruitment and training to performance evaluations and compensation all stem from that document. The activities you expect your employees to perform are addressed in this document. Since it is rare that a business is static in the world of fierce competition, it would be unrealistic to assume that job descriptions would be static. Businesses evolve, and likewise so must the work of the employees and their corresponding job descriptions. That said, few HR professionals have a regular policy for updating them. I submit that this is because job descriptions are not used as documents that are referenced as being an integral part of running your business.

View Job Descriptions through the Lens of the Value Proposition In past RISBJ articles, I wrote about aligning company activities to optimize the elements of the value proposition as being essential for market penetration and brand development. Step back for a moment and think about all the job descriptions you have written, or read, as they apply to managing an employee. They are usually written as a word document, with bullet points that highlight some of the key responsibilities of the position. Rarely, if ever, are there metrics associated with the listed responsibilities. Put yourself in the employee’s position for a moment. It begs the question; how is my performance being evaluated? continued next page

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Job Descriptions: Do They Have Any Value In Your Business? | SMALL BUSINESS

Performance reviews usually become more of a subjective discussion with painfully few metrics to fall back on for both the employee and the manager.

as it serpentines its way through the organization.

The goal is to reduce the overall time to respond to a quote. Using this approach you can now begin to think about how you might apply a performance metric to most line items in an employee’s job description, with these metrics directly linked to the value proposition. The employees can then readily see the fruits of their effort, and the value proposition measurably improves.

For example, take a customer’s request for a quote. The time it takes to respond to a quote is an important part of a company’s value proposition. For nonstandard products/services, often the quoting process crosses functional

Here is a suggestion: Organize your job descriptions in Excel with each responsibility having its own line. You can then sort these responsibilities based on the type of company activity being performed, and Performance reviews usually become then align these activity based Employee involvement is important. more of a subjective discussion with responsibilities with other The best job descriptions begin job descriptions around the with outlining the current state. painfully few metrics to fall back on for same activity. I often reference What do the employees do now... both the employee and the manager. company processes as plays every day, week, month etc.? By for a sports team. Each team organizing these line item activities member must execute their part of the lines, and involves several employees. according to the company processes, play if the process is expected to be By organizing job descriptions around employees now have the advantage of optimized. It is rare that an employee business processes, you can then apply seeing the importance of bigger picture, is an island unto themselves. Most of a metric to the overall process, like the and their role in it. the responsibilities every employee time to produce a quote. You can then performs are part of a process that drill down to the individual performance is usually cross-functional in nature, of the employee in that process.

The Business Risk While job descriptions are an essential tool in managing your employees, they also reduce your risk of liability. If job descriptions are not kept up to date, and there is an employee claim against your company, this can work against the company in the face of this grievance. In our overly litigious world, the stakes are a lot higher. Job descriptions need to be crystal clear in outlining the responsibility of each employee. This includes management. If you have a performance expectation that does not appear on the job description, you could open yourself up to some level of punishment. The point is, employees must be able to perform their essential job duties, with or without a reasonable accommodation. The job description serves as the basis for establishing the essential job functions. It therefore serves as the most effective defense to any claim. So while job descriptions are not legally required, without one in place, you are in a much more vulnerable position should an employee file a complaint against you for any reason.

Timing Most experts say that job descriptions should be updated a least once a year. It makes sense that job descriptions be reviewed at the same time as the business plan for the upcoming year is being developed. In this way key initiatives in the business plan can be reflected in the job descriptions.

Also, the fact that the job description updates coincide with the next year’s business planning will prove to be most beneficial because it helps to educate employees on next year’s plan, and their role in achieving the business goals of that plan.

Larry Girouard President, The Business Avionix Company A Business Consulting Firm www.risbj.com | | volume volumesix sixissue issuefour five www.risbj.com

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LEGAL | Personnel Practices: Age Discrimination In The Workplace

Personnel Practices A G E

I N

D I S C R I M I N A T I O N

T H E

W O R K P L A C E

by C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. and Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.

The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has reaffirmed its commitment to enforcing the ADEA and rooting out age discrimination in the workplace. For example, the EEOC has recently pursued charges against several national restaurant chains for discrimination against older workers. Under both the ADEA and a similar Rhode Island state law, workers who are 40 years of age or older are protected from employment discrimination based on their age. This relatively low age threshold is significant because most workers in the forties would not consider themselves to be “older workers.” Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median age of United States workers was 42.2—meaning that more than half of the US workforce is entitled to protection from age discrimination. The following provides a summary of protections for older workers in Rhode Island, as well as best practice tips for employers to reduce age discrimination claims. Federal law: The federal ADEA forbids discrimination on the basis of a worker’s older age in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Harassment of an older worker because of his or her advanced age is also prohibited under the ADEA. Notably, the ADEA applies only to employers with twenty or more employees; however, best practice dictates that all employers refrain from discriminating against workers on the basis of their age. The EEOC processes and investigates claims under the ADEA. Over the past decade, the EEOC has received an average of more than 20,000 age discrimination claims annually.

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RISBJ | rhode island small business journal

Rhode Island law: Rhode Island’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age. As does the ADEA, FEPA also protects workers age 40 and older. Unlike the ADEA, however, FEPA applies to Rhode Island employers with four or more employees and thus affects many small businesses. The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (RICHR) processes and investigates claims under FEPA. The RICHR also has a contractual relationship with the EEOC such that it may investigate ADEA claims. Approximately 25% of all claims received by the RICHR in 2016 involved an age discrimination allegation. Best practice tips: • Implement a broad nondiscrimination policy to prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of age, as well as other protected classes. The policy should set forth a procedure for employees to raise concerns about discrimination in the workplace and prohibit retaliation against employees for reporting such concerns. • Carefully craft job postings to avoid unintentional age discrimination. It is not uncommon to see postings seeking “young,


Personnel Practices: Age Discrimination In The Workplace | LEGAL

The results are often dire, as the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60 percent of small businesses close their business within six months of experiencing a cyber attack energetic workers” or “recent college graduates.” However, such a description of an ideal candidate would likely be construed as discriminating against older workers. • Avoid asking questions or seeking an applicant’s age or date of birth at the preemployment stage. Although employers can ask for an employee’s date of birth after the employee has been hired, it is typically unnecessary to obtain a potential employee’s age or date of birth on a job application or other pre-employment communication. Such questions at the pre-employment stage may be construed as intended to exclude older workers. • Beware of requiring job applicants to utilize online job applications, particularly where the ability to use a computer is not a necessary job qualification. The reliance on online applications may have an impermissible, disparate negative impact on older workers, even though this practice may not be intentionally discriminatory.

C. Alexander Chiulli, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP Kristen M. Whittle, Esq. Associate, Barton Gilman LLP www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

25


Rhode Island: Business Trade Mission to Ireland This mission, organized by the partnership of The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University, and OCO Global will help Rhode Island firms gain valuable market insights, make key industry contacts, solidify business strategies and advance specific projects.

Grow Your Business and Export Opportunities! Registration deadline: June 30, 2017 Qualified RI exporters may be eligible to receive funding through the STEP program to help offset some of the costs related to the Trade Mission.

Ireland—Market Overview

For details on mission budget and fees, please contact Rhode Island Commerce Corporation.

The U.S. and Ireland enjoy a close cultural affinity and longstanding political, economic, and commercial relations. With a GDP of $243 billion in 2015, Ireland is one of the most open trade-driven economies in the world.

Leading Sectors for U.S. Export:

Ireland is a wealthy country with a per capita GDP in 2015 of $44,084. GDP in Ireland increased by an underlying 7.8 percent in 2015 making it the highest and best performing economy in the EU.

• • • • • • •

Computer Software Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Electrical Power Systems Household Consumer Goods Medical Equipment Safety and Security Travel and Tourism

In 2015, U.S. exports to Ireland exceeded $8.9 billion (€7.9 billion) and included chemicals and pharmaceuticals, computers and electronic products, aircraft and transportation equipment, power generation technology, medical devices, electrical equipment and travel and tourism.

Source: Data as of 1/17/17 export.gov

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Week of September 18, 2017

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Mission Benefits: Pre-market Assessment: Evaluation of companies’ products and services to determine marketability; review of company readiness to enter market.

In partnership with:

Customized One-On-One Business Appointments: Individual, pre-screened business appointments based on your corporative goals and objectives. Market Research: In-country market research presented by industry specialists from OCO Global. In-country Promotional Campaign: Marketing and promotional campaigns promote your products and services in the local markets. Networking Events: Receptions and/or dinners where you may connect with business leaders, dignitaries and potential business partners. In-country transportation and logistical support: Help with hotel arrangements, in-country group transportation, airport pick-ups and drop-offs, optional tours, etc.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Briefings and educational events: Pre-departure briefings on current economic and political conditions, as well as cultural and social practices from local trade specialists and U.S. Commercial Service staff. Also in-country breakfast briefings by local trade specialists.

Rhode Island Commerce CORPORATION

For additional details please contact: Katherine Therieau

Director, International Trade Programs Rhode Island Commerce Corporation 401.278.9139 KTherieau@commerceri.com www.risbj.com | volume six issue five

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