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Business Weekly



A special supplement to the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

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Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.


Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly 3306 Independence Drive Fort Wayne, IN 46808 (260) 426-2640 Fax: (260) 426-2503

Tips to make your small business great

Randy Mitchell Publisher Lucretia Cardenas Editor

Starting a business is difficult – whether you have plenty of capital or not. Making that business profitable and maintaining it can be even more difficult. This is why we have compiled columns from several local experts to discuss topics that affect many small business owners in the region. We hope that owners and managers can gain some insight from the information enclosed in this special section to Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly. Some of the columns offer new insight into issues you may be dealing with as an owner or manager. These include the new overtime rules that come into play by the end of this year, as well as navigating the paper trail of government filings. Other columns provide advice on issues you are certainly going to be forced to deal with at one point or another, such as managing the growth of a company and bringing on new employees, as well as responding to criticism because, unfortunately, it is impossible to make everyone happy.

Linda Lipp Associate Editor Aimee Ambrose Reporter Doug LeDuc Reporter Whitney Wright Reporter Claudia Johnson Marketing Manager Beth Welty Fort Wayne Paginator Kylee Malone Researcher Andy Eads Advertising Director Ann Saggars Creative Manager Tracey Robideau Special Sections Designer & Paginator MARKETING CONSULTANTS Wendy Krzyzanowski Nate Woenker Debra Steele

Lucretia Cardenas Editor

An interesting addition this year is advice for family owned businesses. A local expert who studies the family dynamics in companies and specializes in succession planning, provides insights on how to successfully bring a family member into the fold – whether it be a spouse, child, sibling or other relative. With so many businesses consuming the entire family, we thought it was important to provide some insight into this area. We hope you enjoy this year’s Small Business Information Guide and are able to takeaway a few pointers for your company. We wish you all the best of luck.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Licensing and Permitting ................................................................. 4 Growth Mode .................................................................................... 6 Taking care of business and paying overtime ................................ 8

George O. Witwer Publisher Emeritus

Handling the inevitable complaints ................................................ 9

Terry G. Housholder President Randy Mitchell Chief Executive Officer

Bringing a family member into your business............................... 10

S. Rick Mitchell Chief Financial Officer

Nine stages of startup ...................................................................... 13

Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly is a publication of KPC Media Group Inc. ©2016 All rights reserved.

Keeping the good employees going ............................................... 12

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

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Licensing and permitting: Where to find out what’s required to start your small business SCORE, (Service Core of Retired Executives), is a national organization of over 300 local chapters set up by the Small Business Administration to offer free mentoring to entrepreneurs and small business startups. A common question we get is “What type of licenses or permits are needed before I can initiate my business?” Here are some quick rules of thumb a prospective new business owner should consider: 1. Government red tape or necessary evil America’s economic system of capitalism and free enterprise is still the envy of the world. However, our government, at the federal, state, and local level still needs to be involved for the benefit of everyone. To what degree their involvement becomes a hindrance or a help to business is always debatable but the new entrepreneur needs to become familiar with the potential governmental requirements prior to initiating a business. Recognizing the need to know what you don’t know is an important first step. Fortunately, most states and localities have offices or websites that act as a one stop shop to help the future business owner understand what type of licenses or permitting are required at their level of government. As a general rule of thumb, licensing and permits will typically follow the following protocols. A. Local government-Specific licenses for type of business, public health requirements, construction permits and local zoning restrictions. B. State government- Licensing of professionals-(health professionals, lawyers, and engineers,), registration of corporations and business name, state with-holding number and retail merchant certificates. C. Federal government- Federal employee identification number for with-holding employee taxes,safety and environmental permits or requirements too numerous to mention here that may or may not affect your type of business. 2. Zoning- the first hurdle Time and again, you read in Page 4

SCORE Chapter 50 Guest column

the paper of a new start-up that is requesting a variance to a zoning restriction after having purchased the property. This is a risky strategy to say the least. Zoning and planning commissions exist to control growth and development for the good of the community and just filing for a variance is no guarantee for approval. If a future business owner believes that a specific location is necessary for its growth and success, thorough research and planning should be devoted to how the property is currently zoned or if re-zoning is planned for the future. Locally, you should contact the department of planning services for both city and county. A zoning verification request can be made that should give you an answer on whether or not your business location will be allowed. Visit their website at for more information. If you plan on operating your start-up from your home (as many SCORE clients tend to do) you must follow the home based business regulations available at the above website. Operating out of your home is a tried and true way of keeping overhead down until a business can sustain a more traditional location should one be desired. One last consideration should be any covenants from a home owners association should you belong to one. Although many Associations will look the other way for a cottage business, if your business involves retail customers, increased traffic or heavy equipment, there’s a good chance you could be shut down by a restrictive covenant. 3. Business licenses and permitsWhere do I Start ? As stated above, most localities will maintain a one stop shop website or office where you can get the majority of your questions answered regarding necessary licenses and permits. Fort Wayne and Allen County are no exception with detailed information available at

business.html . The website has an excellent document titled “Starting a Business Guide, Permits, Taxes, & Licensing.” Inside this document is a partial list of occupations requiring licensing/permits. The list goes thru the majority though not all types of occupations requiring licenses or permits in the city and county. The list gives the licensing or certification agency for that occupation along with contact information. Should you not find any information regarding your planned business, additional information from the State of Indiana can be obtained from the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center at or the state of Indiana-State Information Center at For Federal Permits and Licenses, the Small Business Administration at contains excellent reference material under business/business-licenses-permit. At SCORE, the SBA remains our go to site for any business related questions. 4. Special requirements for food handling or restaurants One of the most popular types of start-ups is a restaurant or café. It also, according to the SBA, has the highest rate of failure during the first three years of operation. It is imperative that anyone wishing to start up a business that involves food handling become familiar with the permits and licensing involved. In Allen County, the Public Health Department has helped streamline the process by creating a single form that must be signed off by the departments of public health, planning and building. In addition, the facility must pass an inspection by the fire department before occupancy is allowed. For any business that prepares food, at least one individual must have a food handler certification. The establishment itself will typically need an annual food service permit that is specific for the type of facility. This can range from anything like a full service restaurant to a seasonal ice cream truck permit. As you might expect, any business that n


Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.


LICENSING & PERMITTING: Building can come with a long process

Continued from PAGE 4

prepares and serves food is subject to ongoing inspections conducted by the county board of health. One last note, buying an existing business that prepares or serves food does not mean that the existing permits and certifications are transferred with ownership. A separate set of guidelines for change of owner/operator for food establishments must be followed that are very similar to the permitting and licensing of a new establishment. 5. Facility requirements for construction or occupancy If your start up plans include either building a new facility, expanding, or improving an existing facility, you will need to go thru the building permit process after having obtained approval from the zoning and planning commis-

sion. The process can be somewhat laborious as it involves submittal of plans and application for an Improvement location permit and certificate of compliance before you can apply for the building permit. In addition, building a new or buying an old facility is fraught with the potential permitting and certifications required by state and federal agencies, such as Indiana Occupational Safety and Health along with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. At SCORE, we highly recommend that clients budget and spend the money to hire professional architects or engineers to properly guide them thru the building process. So there you go. Licensing and permitting can sometimes be compared to crawling through a mile of broken glass just to get where you want to go.

However, most governmental agencies with the addition of new technology have contrived to improve and speed up the process with many applications for permits achieved on line. We at SCORE also stand by ready to help free of charge. Provided by SCORE Chapter 50 in Fort Wayne. SCORE is a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 business experts who volunteer as mentors. SCORE offers free mentoring and low-cost workshops nationwide. Call SCORE Chapter 50’s office, 110 W. Berry St., Suite LL101, at (260) 422-2601 for a free counseling session or visit SCORE Chapter 50’s “Ask SCORE” column appears monthly in Business Weekly.


based on your business needs.

Whether you’re e ttrying ryin ry i g to g grow row your business or simply planning for the future, First Federal Bank wants you to feel confident that your organization can grow and overcome today’s challenges. Our business banker, Teresa Schomburg, will help take your business to the next level by: • Offering lending solutions that support your growth • Streamlining the loan approval process • Speeding up cash flow with a line of credit When your hard-earned livelihood is on the line, it never hurts to have a helping hand. That’s why we’re better together. 1595 W. Dupont Rd., Fort Wayne | 260-489-3036 9909 Illinois Rd., Fort Wayne | 260-432-0022

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Growth mode

As a business owner, you must find the sweet spots for funding, facilities, cash flow, pricing, labor workforce, etc. That last — labor workforce — can make or break a business venture. It’s your job to make sure you have the right people — and the right number of people — to keep your operation as efficient and sustainable as possible — especially during the venture’s formative development years. Nearly 80 percent of all U.S. small business establishments employ no one other than the owner, so-called “solo-preneurs”. Going beyond the owner/founder — growth mode — is a big deal. Now let’s say your business is in growth mode, and you feel it might be time to hire additional staff to properly execute on your potential customer and market opportunities. How can you really be sure the time is right to bring in additional staff, hire independent contractors, or partner with other companies to fill in the gaps and get to the next level? Remember growth isn’t always a good thing. Later this year, new overtime rules go Page 6

Navigate the choppy waters of an expanding business

Karl LaPan Guest columnist

into effect and they may change whether you want to hire in-house, or work with a more flexible workforce of freelancers and independent contractors. Additionally, in-house-employee-related benefits (health care, retirement, and taxation) can take a big bite out of the budget. Consider these tell-tale signs: 1. The sales of your “core” products or services have been increasing over time, and you identify the sales performance improvements as a positive trend — not a short-term blip. Be sure to know the difference between purchase orders and expressions of interest. You can’t go to the bank and deposit expressions of interest.

2. You’ve done the research and you see a clear opportunity for growth and expansion in your niche or related industries. Bases on that, you decide that now’s the time to get in on the ground floor. But current employees aren’t available to take on additional responsibilities, or you don’t have employees at all (you’re part of the 80 percent we were talking about earlier). If you are unsure the growth is sustainable, outsource until you see strong evidence of the demand you expected. 3. Your employee’s existing job skills and knowledge meet the company’s current level of productivity. But in order to expand, you’ll need to acquire staff with new and different set of skills and knowledge. You might consider WorkOne’s worker training programs, local recruiters, staffing companies, or university internship programs as potential resources for qualified people. 4. Revenue is at or above target and all signs point to a continued trend and the revenue is converting to cash giving

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

See GROWTH page 7


GROWTH: Remember there are no hard and fast rules, research costs

Continued from PAGE 6

you the self-funding you need to make strategic investments including hiring permanent team members. While there are no hard and fast rules, if the market potential is opportunistic or short-term in nature, you may consider outsourcing either to independent contractors or a third party. If there is strong evidence of proven market demand that materializes over time, it just might be time to add an employee. However, if you decide to take the plunge and hire/outsource the talent, you need to decide what you’ll do get the most out of your investment. Here are some tips that will help make the plunge more successful: • Set “tangible” milestones. Set some measurable performance milestones for determining what money you will invest, when you will invest it, and what you want to see in sales to continue to invest. Set triggers for when to pull the plug if the money is chasing a premature market opportunity.

• Identify skill gaps. Do some company visioning to see what you think you will need in job positions and competencies to meet future demands for your company’s products and services? Identify skill gaps and target training and development to address organizational deficiencies. • Be coachable. Seek growth coaching assistance from knowledgeable experts who can help you avoid potential pitfalls from potential over-optimism in your orders and sales forecasts. The coaches at the NIIC offer side-by-side coaching to help focus your efforts and results. • Recruit and select talent. Always be in continuous talent recruitment and selection mode. The best organizations are constantly looking to expand and upgrade their employee talent pipeline. “Right fit” talent is hard to come by so always have your “antenna up” for potential new hires. • Gain mentoring insights. Select seasoned and smart individuals who can offer insider advice on the day-to-day company culture and business building

efforts. Note: mentors should be well-respected individuals who have expertise and insights in the business development opportunities and challenges you are facing in growing your business. Their role is to give you unfiltered feedback and express their honest and candid opinions. As we observed earlier, poorly managed growth is not a good thing. There are many classic examples of “growing broke:” – this includes companies that were on an accelerated path to profitability who derailed because they didn’t have an early warning radar system to self-correct before they imploded. By being attentive to the tips above, your company may be able to navigate the choppy waters of growth and be profitable at the same time! Remember, your resources often lag your opportunities, and your businesses success might just depend on it. KARL R. LAPAN is the president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center Inc.

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Taking care of business and paying overtime – the new regulations Vice President Biden may have formally announced in May the new overtime regulations in an ice cream shop but the implications for employers are far from sweet. The new rules – which take effect on Dec. 1 – are estimated to affect the pay structure of approximately 4.2 million workers and will affect how every business pays its employees. The default rule is to pay employees an hourly rate for the first 40 hours each week and 1.5 times that rate when they exceed 40 hours, i.e.“overtime”. However, employees can be “exempt” from the default rule of paying by the hour if: (1) their job duties meet the statutory requirements for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer employees; and (2) they are paid at least $455 per week. Enter the new overtime rules which more than doubled the minimum amount to $913 per week ($47,476 per year). This means that if an employee makes less than $47,476 per year ($913/week), then that employee is now eligible for overtime and must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. So, what does this mean for your business? First things first, you have to identify any employee who makes less than $46,476 ($913/week) yet is paid on a salaried basis. Those are the affected employees who are now eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Next, once the affected employees have been identified, you should consider a series of questions which

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Adam Bartom Guest columnist

relate to the economic effect of the new rules. For example: • Does the company want to reclassify the affected employees as “hourly” employees? • Alternatively, does the company want to give the affected employees a pay increase so that they hit the minimum salary threshold? • If so, will all other employees also expect and be given raises on par with their colleagues? • As another option, does the company want to decrease the affected employees’ number of hours or lower base pay to account for the new overtime premiums to be paid going forward? • Should the company strictly limit their employees to 40 hours a week? There are also practical issues that the company must deal with when implementing changes to comply with the new regulations, such as the perception of being “demoted” if reclassified as an hourly employee or, a decrease in employee morale due to a lack of flexibility in working hours. In addition to the economic issues, you must also determine how to track,

monitor, and control hours worked by your employees such as by asking: • Does the company plan to discipline employees who work overtime without authorization? • Does the company have a strong policy in place to track the hours worked by each employee? • Does the company allow (or require) hourly employees to work from home or telecommute? If so, how will those hours be tracked? • Does the company provide laptop computers or permit employees to access their work email from their personal smartphones (which would likely be counted as time worked) These are just a few of the questions that you should be asking yourself as companies prepare for these new rules to take effect on Dec. 1. Companies should consider creating cross-functional teams with members from legal, operations, HR, managers, payroll, IT and finance to collect information and assess the impact of these regulations on the company’s budget and bottom line. From there, it will be important to implement the strategy best-suited to meet your company’s needs and then educate your workforce on the changes. Swift implementation now will avoid substantial fines and costly lawsuits in the future. ADAM BARTROM is a partner in the Labor and Employment Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Fort Wayne office. He can be reached at or (260) 425-4629.

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.


Handling the inevitable complaints With the 24/7 availability of consumers’ ability to make positive or negative comments on the Internet, businesses cannot take the chance of letting a complaint slide under the carpet. It is important that complaints, or customer reviews, are dealt with immediately and professionally Before a business is accredited with Better Business Bureau, there is a code of business practices that they must agree and adhere to should a complaint arise. There are three or four business practices I would like to discuss that a business can use that may allay a complaint ever coming to fruition. Let’s begin with the “dos.” The best up-front defense is to tell your customer the truth before they purchase by honestly representing in clear and accurate detail your products and services in both written and verbal representations. Second, be transparent by disclosing your policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to by. Those disclosures include the best way to reach your business, meaning that you can be easily contacted if, for instance, you are a contractor; any guarantees or warranties accompanying a product; your return or refund policy; any recurring commitment into which the customer may be entering, and the total cost of the transaction, including tax, shipping and handling or other related charges. Leave nothing out. If you have promised your customer something, honor that promise. Fulfill your contract and correct mistakes as quickly as possible. Listen to your customer. If you have made a mistake, apologize to the customer and find a solution. Be responsive by addressing the dispute quickly and professionally. Don’t ignore it, even if you do not feel you are in the wrong. Regardless of whether the customer goes directly to you, or files a complaint with the BBB, address it immediately. Be professional. Address every issue the complainant has. Have evidence and documents that support your position. Explain why any relief sought by the complainant cannot or should not be granted. Exceed your customer’s expectation. Follow up with a phone call to the customer. That extra touch tells the customer you care. Don’t look at a complaint as always being a negative to your business. Granted, no business owner

Marjorie Stephens

Social media dos and don'ts

Guest columnist

wants to have a complaint. It can work to your favor if you handle it at the onset. The customer who will never be happy… There are clearly circumstances that no matter what you try to do to resolve the issue, your good intentions will never satisfy the complainant. If you feel that you have done everything as professionally and humanly possible to resolve the complaint, you need to let it go. Some customers n


1. Do respond in a professional manner to negative posts that detail legitimate problems, complaints or criticisms. 2. Do some research into complaints first; get context about the issue and the person making the comment.

1. Don't delete that post.

It's like "throwing gasoline on the fire," Erb said.

2. Don't try to resolve serious issues through the social media page.

Move the conversation offline; seek an amicable resolution that way.

3. Do see negative posts 3. Don't ignore serious as opportunities for complaints or quality improvement; criticisms. evaluate what's That lets the claims and working and what isn't. problems linger for 4. Do feel justified in anyone to see. deleting posts that 4. Don't overreact and contain vulgarity, respond to every post. threats, racial or Find a balance. bigoted slurs. 5. Do remember 5. Don't engage "trolls" business pages on who want to provoke sites like Facebook negative reactions. are marketing tools. See #4: Learn to Don't become overly invested in using them.

distinguish legitimate issues from trolling.

Source: based on advice from local social media experts Andrew Lamping of Cyclone Social and Kevin Erb of Ferguson Advertising Beth Welty/KPC Media Group Inc

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Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

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Bringing a family member into your business? Here are some things to think about as you do Why do 88 percent of family businesses fail by the end of the third generation? That’s not a number to be very proud of when you are running the family business. Let’s review a checklist of things you should reflect upon to put your business on the 12 percent side that continues for multiple generations. The most important thing you can do is have regular, intentional conversations with this family member about your thoughts of bringing him/her into the business. It’s important they know what you are thinking, and, just as important, you need to know what they are thinking. You should make it clear that it’s not a birthright. That breeds entitlement thinking and generally leads to disastrous results. Here are things that the successful business owners talk about: Proper education. You may have learned the tricks of the trade through hard work over many hours of winning with some ideas, but learning just as much from ideas that didn’t fly. You could cover your tracks with energy and commitment, but today in this hi-tech world, make sure that this family member has educational tools to solve problems and understands how they can be applied in a hi-tech environment. Experience. As an owner, you gained valuable experience on the job. The business was at risk many times, but you believed in what you were doing and fought through numerous issues by sticking with the task at hand. Your family member needs to experience similar challenges; not just work in the business in the summer when school is out. Find a task that will require hard work but also will require some problem solving skills. Don’t be afraid to allow failure for a particular task to become an on-the-job learning experience. Think back, those are the experiences that allowed you to grow with confidence the same should occur for your family member. Emotional attachment. Your business was likely your idea, or you tweaked it to make it your major area of interest. You likely wanted to be the best at what you do. You were willing to pay whatever price necessary to make it Page 10

Jerry Nuerge Guest columnist

work. Not so for your family member. Tell them your story. What key lessons, good and bad, have you learned at critical points that made you so emotionally attached? If they know about these things, they are more likely to explore how their role will bring a similar attachment by adding to an already cool story. Share how you turned some real negatives into strong positives, then give them the opportunity to experience a challenge from within the business. If they make a mistake it likely will not kill the business, but it will allow them to develop a larger emotional attachment. Work ethic. You cannot create what you did by only working 20-30 hours

a week. It likely took 80 hours several times to keep things on target. Provide your family member with a task that will require extra work and thinking to get it done, with a firm deadline to make sure she/he knows they are accountable to make sure it happens. Look back to situations that you experienced when the business was on the line - you either performed or bad things were going to happen. You worked whatever hours it took to get the job done. They need to feel the commitment necessary and the joy of putting in the effort to see how this kind of experience brings them closer into the entrepreneurial world. Some in, some out. What are the dreams and aspirations of your children? It’s highly likely that some will want to be in the business, but some will not. Are you prepared to respect a family member who shows no desire to be in the business? If you don’t, you probably will cause an unwanted and unintended split within the family. This kind of split is difficult to mend, it may take many n



Matt and Hallie Grant run Sailrite, which was founded by Matt’s parents in 1969. The Columbia City-based company has grown beyond products for sailing to providing fabrics and accessories for DIY home projects. Matt and Hallie bought out his parents about 11 years ago. The couple joined the business after graduating from Indiana University.

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.




Check internet often Continued from PAGE 9

are not always right, perhaps demanding things that were not part of the contract or agreement, and no amount of resolution will make them happy. As a business owner, it would be wise to have a staff member check the Internet often (whether you have a complaint or not) to be sure that you are alerted if someone is bad-mouthing your business. If you find this has happened, address the complaint concisely by stating your side of the case, but only one time. Do not get into a battle of words once you have stated your side. It will do you no good “to battle it out” with the person making the inference. Consumers reading the complaint, and the way in which you responded, will take your response to the review into consideration. MARJORIE STEPHENS is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana.

FAMILY: Share your vision with family

Continued from PAGE 10

years, or a couple of generations. Statistics show that family members not in the business can learn important lessons from real life experiences of knowing how dad or mom battled through tough times. They may not work in the business, but they will respect those family members who are in it more and be more open to cooperating with family issues that deal with the family business! Visionary path. Have you shared your vision of what your business will look like in 20 years with family members? Have you asked those who are interested in joining the business what they think it may look like? Sharing these thoughts and visions can bring an unclear future into better focus. Perhaps there are ideas from the younger generation that you never thought of? Perhaps adding an idea or two of generation two’s ideas might make the future brighter than you ever imagined. What character traits

in the younger generation have you identified that will help them stay on a successful journey to carry on the business? When you have identified these traits, share that this son or daughter has what it takes and guide them into experiences, at school, and work, that will allow you to see how they respond to true world pressure. On many occasions I have been told by an entrepreneur that he/she wished they had started intentional conversations about these things much sooner, rather than later. JERRY NUERGE has worked in the financial services industry for 45 years, has an MBA and has written, or coauthored, several books and articles on transitioning a business to the next generation, the most recent book being “unHeritage: 11 Pitfalls to Family Legacy and How to Avoid Them,” that can be found at centerforfamilyconversations. com. He is the creator of the Wealth Integration & Transfer System. He can be reached at

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

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The nine stages of a startup company STAFF REPORTS

Northeast Indiana entrepreneur Joel Nichols believes there is a cyclical pattern from startup to maturity. As CEO of Apollo Design he developed a list of nine stages that, based on his experience, every startup encounters - some companies remain in one stage longer than another. Nichols began Apollo Design in 1992, when he discovered how much a custom, steel gobo cost in the retail market versus the actual material cost of the product. A gobo is a stencil that is placed in front of a theatrical stage light used to create an image on a stage - think highly advanced, custom shadow puppet. Apollo Design is now a leading manufacturer and distributor of gobos, and has two sister companies - Blue Pony, a visual media and multimedia application design company, and Avid Labs, a corporate trade show lighting company. Here is Nichols personal nine stages: 1. This is great; this is crazy; we are smart. 2. I’m not sure we should have done this; we can’t afford this. 3. Maybe we should shut it down. (Only one of the four startups Nichols has led actually shut down at this stage.) 4. It’s going to make it. (This is the point in the process where orders may be coming in, customers are responding well.) 5. Wait! We have a problem; we should be making money. 6. Hard, honest truths — like the perfect people to start a business may not be perfect for sustaining and managing it, including the owner. 7. Being a real business. 8. This feels good. 9. Random returns to step 5. No business can afford to coast. Otherwise, they will be forced to step 3 and go out of business. Nichols has certainly seen his startups rise and fall over the years and each of his three current companies are at

An example of a gobo being used to form a shadow image.

different stages of the cycle. However, knowing when business is difficult that


a company is merely working through a stage in the process can be reassuring.

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Keeping the good employees going A how-to from some local companies recognized for retaining the best BY WHITNEY WRIGHT

Every company wants the best talent on its side, and with more people in the workforce now than ever before, finding those key hires is vital to a company’s success. The problem for many businesses is discovering a way to keep those valuable employees. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce makes a point to recognize phenomenal work places and annually releases its Best Places to Work in Indiana Top 100 Companies. Three of the companies on the two most recent lists include OrthoPediatrics and Lakeland Rehabilitation and Health, both in Kosciusko County, and Mike’s Car Wash, in Allen County. The strategies these companies are using to retain their best employees are no secret but the reason the companies are having success is because they are actively implementing the tactics. Here is a list of the top seven methods in these companies’ game plans: 1. Build a relationship

OrthoPediatrics’ CEO Mark Throdahl hosts coffee chats with employees from all levels, providing the chance for employees to ask questions and pick his brain. Employees of both Lakeland and OrthoPediatrics have the chance to acquire mentors within the company to ask questions and get advice. Mike’s Car Wash has two themes that have dominated its company for more than seven decades: “The customer is the boss,” and, more important for employee relations, “Treat your team members like family.” 2. Create opportunities

OrthoPediatrics financially supports its employees’ schooling and has a small library with books on medicine and business. Lakeland and Mike’s Car Wash both offer tuition reimbursement and training programs that encourage advancement within the company and for any skills for which an employee feels subpar.

Page 14


Employees at OrthoPediatrics. 3. Provide communication channels

The office at OrthoPediatrics is set up so everyone sits in the same area, even the CEO. The company also requires each employee to gather for a monthly “town meeting” to discuss company news. It recently hosted a series of “Lunch and Learns,” allowing each department to educate other employees on what occurs on typical day in that department. 4. Outline expectations and measure performance

Lakeland hosts a personal orientation process that allows employers to tell new employees their expectations and vice versa, said Nikki Mcmillan, executive director of Lakeland. Mike’s training program – often compared to the customer service program at the Disney Institute – is both extensive and informative. Each employee partakes, including the teenagers working their first jobs and senior-level members. Mike’s also has surveys available for managers to anonymously provide feedback to other managers, including suggestions and critiques. 5. Provide purpose

“Everyone is captain, everyone is crew,” is the CEO’s mantra at OrthoPediatrics. This means everyone has the opportunity to be a leader and everyone has the opportunity to take a back seat, said Mallory Trusty, a human resources representative. The company also encourages its

employees to work on projects that interest them, even if it is not in the respective department, like the company’s recent expansion into Japan. 6. Compete with wages, benefits, perks

OrthoPediatrics hosts a monthly employee event, such as a happy hour or football tailgate, and throws parties for events like birthdays and baby showers, alongside competitive pay and health benefits. Lakeland offers scholarships for its employees and their dependents, health benefits and a “wellness rate,” which can qualify employees for nearly free health care. Mike’s Car Wash recently revamped its wage structure, provides a competitive benefits package, conducts group outings and has a company-wide wellness program. 7. Keep up the good work

All three of the companies intend to keep their good reputations among their employees and in the eyes of the state, through persistence in competitive benefits and/or wages and increasing training resources and opportunities. Other companies hoping to increase employee retention, and consequently the company’s success, can look for ways to implement some of these techniques, many of which are doable on any company’s budget.

Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

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Small Business Information Guide • June 2016 • • ©KPC Media Group Inc.

Small Business Information Guide 2016