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Lemonade Stands and Big Business

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I have a great employee. She almost never complains, at least not about the work, does the little work I have for her after about the third time I remind her and although most folks would say I am paying her too much – it all works out for the best. At 12 years old she is the youngest employee on our staff of two, but she has been with the firm for almost 6 years and that gives her some seniority.  Since her food and lodging is completely covered I know she is making good use of her paycheck, putting it toward clothes, school supplies and a growing college fund.

And that is only one of the many benefits of my home based business. Hiring my daughter, and previously my son, are part of the benefits of owning my own business. Home based or not family members can be employees of your business and you can avoid certain rules and paperwork requirements needed for regular employees. While the salary I pay my children can not be outrageous the IRS rules are perfectly okay with this hiring practice. Whether emptying the garbage, sweeping the floor, filing or making bank deposits it is both a good learning experience for them and a great way to transfer profits out of the business and into the hands of deserving family members. Since these dollars are now removed from the net income for the business they are not taxed and staying within the limits of income for your child can make them tax free to him or her also.

In order to set up a relationship like this – (no tax advice being given here – please check this over with your accountant)
you must actually have work that your child will perform.
your child must actually perform the work
set up a written schedule of worked performed and hours worked(good for them and good paper trail for taxes)
Open a bank account for your child. While a savings account is all that is really necessary we found that by opening a checking account and getting a debit card we were now ready to help our children spend their tax free dollars on clothing, school supplies and other parent approved items
And the most important – you must actually pay them. You can only claim salaries that were actually paid. And it would of course be best if you paid those salaries on a regular basis throughout the year. This is not an end of the year tax reduction idea. Make regular paychecks out to your employee for actual work performed. This is good for their learning the value of work, it is good for your business and it is good for the IRS.

This is only one of the many benefits in owning your own business. But for many of us the idea of opening a business is both scary and over whelming. It is also a concern about where to open the business, what type of business and who has the time for such a thing as business ownership.  Fortunately  there are a lot of good answers to all those good questions.

The cost of opening a business can be anywhere along a wide spectrum – from little or nothing to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  On one end of the spectrum is the lemonade stand and on the other is a manufacturing plant. Since my guess is that you are closer to the lemonade stand of thinking  we’ll address a few points here and more in later articles.

A lemonade stand is usually set up with items you usually already have around the house. A table, some chairs, markers and paperboard for signs, pitchers, water, sugar, disposable cups and frozen lemonade. If you care to upgrade to a classier clientle the investment into real lemons is a possibility but lets assume we are working on a shoe string budget for capital expenditures.

Now that you have your products and location set up it is important to set up a marketing department. This would usually consist of a few friends who take your carefully designed marketing signs, stand close to the curb and yell at passing cars.  If business doesn’t take off according to plan you can increase marketing by getting more friends, yelling louder or send them down to the corner where traffic is heavier.

In all seriousness – it is possible to set up just such a business in the adult world. Internet marketing has a lot of similarities. You can start with items you already have at home. A computer, a place to work, an internet connection and a glass of lemonade. When it comes to marketing, rather than yelling at folks to stop and see what you have to offer, you can move your lemonade stand to a place where a lot of thirsty people are looking for something to drink and have them come to you, money in hand.

And once your lemonade stand is up and running the kids can  work around you, emptying the garbage, filing the papers and making bank deposits. Want to put up a lemonade stand?

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Career

Do you trust your intuition?

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“The leader needs three intellectual abilities that may not be assessed in an academic way: one needs to have a sense for the unknowable, to be prepared for the unexpected, and to be able to foresee the unforeseeable,” so says Robert Greenleaf in his book The Power of Servant Leadership.
Sounds like a tall order, almost like a description of a super hero right out of the comic book pages. But a second reading reveals that at sometime in all of our lives we are that super hero.

Who are you leading? A company department, a small business, your family, yourself? Your ability, and your willingness to step up, trust your intuition and make a decision for you and those who look to you for direction defines your leadership.

Ralph Waldo Emerson talks of a ‘Blessed Impulse’, listening to that inner voice and going with it, all voices to the contrary. Is that the still small voice, the almost silent whisper that we grow to trust to be God whispering in our ear? How often do you ‘go with it, all other voices to the contrary’?

Taking leadership, regardless of the position you hold, requires a certain amount of abandonment. Taking a risk. In so many places people are looking for (someone else) to step up and lead. Scientist Mathilde Krim said “Growth requires curiosity to experience both the difference and the synchrony, to explore and immerse yourself in new surroundings, to be able to contemplate your experiences and get something out of them”. To simplify: doing the same old same old every day, not experiencing new things, not asking questions and not reflecting and learning from your experiences will stunt your growth. It will also block your leadership opportunities.

And leadership is anything but the same old same old. Greenleaf tells us: Every once in a while a leader finds himself needing to think like a scientist, an artist, or a poet. And his thought processes may be just as fanciful as theirs – and as fallible. Leaders are not superheros, they make mistakes, but they are willing to make mistakes, show their humanness and fully express themselves in the process.

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Career

Emotional Intelligence – how’s yours?

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Walter Bennis in the introduction of his book On Becoming a Leader lists the Four Essential Competencies of a Leader.

  • The ability to engage others by creating shared meaning
  • Having a distinctive voice
  • Having integrity
  • The ability of adaptive capacity

Having a Distinctive Voice is further described as a cluster of traits such as Purpose, Self-Confidence, and a Sense of Self. He then adds “the whole gestalt of abilities that we now call Emotional Intelligence. EI is a concept that has been around a relatively short time and one I am still trying to get my arms around. Look up Emotional Intelligence on Google and as expected you get 8.5 million sites.

One site says “ Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand other people and yourself.
Another site tells us ” In summary, emotional intelligence is the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection and influence. The following skills belong to the highly developed emotional intelligence: independence from your own feelings and ability to adjust yourself to them, ability to recognize, name and direct your feelings, discern the nuances of feelings and use them in positive way, and, as a consummation, derive actions from it. Emotional intelligence accompanies our daily life and in many cases as important as the “common” intelligence, especially in our modern society.”

And finally:

The Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence

Perceiving Emotions: The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others as well as in objects, art, stories, music, and other stimuli

Facilitating Thought: The ability to generate, use, and feel emotion as necessary to communicate feelings or employ them in other cognitive processes

Understanding Emotions: The ability to understand emotional information, to understand how emotions combine and progress through relationship transitions, and to appreciate such emotional meanings

Managing Emotions: The ability to be open to feelings, and to modulate them in oneself and others so as to promote personal understanding and growth

*From “Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), by J. D. Mayer, P. Salovey, and D. R. Caruso, 2002, Toronto, Ontario: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.

Our first lesson from this important book of leadership is that authentic leaders are in touch with both their own emotions and feelings as well as the people they serve and lead. Consider that truth, whether you lead a large organization, a small business, a family or yourself. Your ability to recognize how you feel, why you feel, and what to do with your feelings (positive constructive actions or negative destructive reactions) will play a big part in your leadership efficacy.

We are meeting as a small group of Life Long Learners reading, discussing and teaching one another from this book. Learn more by clicking here:   http://livingreal.net/on-becoming-a-leader-book-club/emotionalIntell

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Career

Powerful Words

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Words are powerful. They can be used to impress, persuade, seduce, incite and deflate. We’ve all used words to convince others, get what we want and influence the situation.

While I love the power that words have I am not overly impressed when someone uses a ten dollar word when a couple of simpler, more common words would do the job. Let me correct that. When I have to stop my reading to find out the meaning of a word, I realize that the writer stopped their writing to refer to a thesaurus in order to find this word only for me to reverse the process. But a person whose normal mode of speaking includes many multiple syllable words – well, that is impressive.

I’ll take this blog space to offer a couple power words, hoping you might add some of your own and then I’ll plan on adding more later.

er·u·dite adjective

characterized by great knowledge; learned or scholarly: an erudite professor; an erudite commentary. Synonyms: educated, knowledgeable; wise, sapient.

Which requires another look up of Sapient to satisfy the curiosity –

sa·pi·ent adjective

having or showing great wisdom or sound judgment.

Would you describe yourself as erudite or sapient?

 

 

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