Posts By: Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

360 Performance Review Templates & Instructions

Posted by in Small Business Hacks

When you first started your business, you probably had only a few trusted team members, and the feedback process was immediate, ongoing and informal. However, as your company grew (or grows) a formal review process became necessary—or depending on your viewpoint, a necessary evil.

Whether you chose to do formal reviews on anniversaries (likely making them a monthly chore), or at the end of each calendar or fiscal year (to get them all out of the way at once), there are things you can do to make them more valuable to both yourself and your employees, as well as things you can do to ensure they don’t create more problems than they solve.

The following resources provide a 360 degree peek into the performance appraisal process—covering viewpoints from the employer, the employee, and the humorist. If after digesting those you still need help with creating your review process, links to sources for performance review templates are provided at the end.

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Lisa Hephner

How Now Brown Cow: Three Small Business Lessons from the Milk Survey

Posted by in Tip of the Week


You’ve probably seen the headlines: Survey finds that 7% of American adults think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. If you are now sitting and pondering the overwhelming ignorance of 7% of your fellow citizens, remember that as a small business owner these are your customers—so rather than laughing at them, you need to understand them and you need to learn how to reach them, market to them, and serve them. The Milk Survey provides some valuable lessons that will help you do just that.

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Lisa Hephner

How to Make a Small Business Employee Handbook

Posted by in Tip of the Week

When you first started your business you were likely the only employee, and were focused on doing the work necessary to get and keep satisfied customers and to grow your business. As your business did start to grow, you probably needed help and hired people to fill your gaps on a full or part time basis. With only a couple of employees, it was easy to keep things such as sick time, vacations, and workplace conduct informally regulated. However, there comes a point where even in the most friendly, family-oriented work environment, things need to be put in writing—even if only to be sure that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations and consequences.

The best way to do this is with an Employee Handbook. It can be as simple as a one-sheet set of rules that outline what you expect of your employees in terms of their work practices, office behavior, and treatment of customers and the consequences for non-adherence. The Business Owners Tool Kit provides a sample work rules sheet that you can download here. (You’ll need to provide an email address to register and download the form.) For an overview of what to consider when creating these rules, read their General Work Rules overview.

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Lisa Hephner

Small Business Tips for Dealing with Robocalls and Other Unwanted Callers

Posted by in Tip of the Week


If it seems like these calls are getting more persistent and more frequent, you’re not growing increasingly intolerant; you’re right. According to the YouMail Robocall Index, 1.3 billion robocalls were placed in the US in June 2015 and 2.5 billion calls placed in April, 2017—that’s almost double!

Don’t sit back and take the call, learn how to fight back. Use these tips to unmask these callers, block them, or just turn the tables, mess with them, and laugh.

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Lisa Hephner

Small Business Security: Advanced Tips for Spotting a Phish

Posted by in Tip of the Week


It’s been said that when it comes to phishing and malware, there are two kinds of people—those who know they’re victims, and those who don’t. Last week’s Tip post, Small Business Security: Focus on a Speedy Recovery, detailed measures you can take to mitigate the damage in the (unfortunately very likely) event that your small business finds itself compromised by ransomware or other malware, or finds that an employee has been tricked into disclosing credentials.

That’s the pound of cure. This week we’ll focus on the ounce of prevention. After all, it is far better to detect a phishing email before you download a malicious attachment or click a link leading to a phishing page. And in the event that you don’t catch yourself before you click, it is critical that you pay attention to browser warnings and other signs that you are on a phishing screen rather than a legitimate website.

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Lisa Hephner

Small Business Security: Focus on a Speedy Recovery

Posted by in Tip of the Week


By now you’ve probably heard so much about the WannaCrypt/WannaCry worldwide ransomware attack that you are looking at every email with skepticism and expect malicious intent behind every link you see. While remaining vigilantly on the lookout for phishing attempts and steering clear of downloads from dubious origins is important to securing your computer and your small business network, caution to the point of constant second guessing that leads to business stagnation is as debilitating as becoming a cybercrime victim.

So what is a small business to do?

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Lisa Hephner

5 Videos: Small Business Problem Solving Experiments & Techniques

Posted by in Tip of the Week


One of the most effective things you can do to ensure productive problem solving (regardless of whether you do it yourself or with your team) is to begin with exercises that expose predispositions and blind spots as well as thought patterns that may be advantageous or detrimental to developing the best possible solutions to small business problems. The following five videos highlight experiments and techniques that will help you do just that.

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