Workplace hacks can streamline your day

(Shared by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Advisor, OSU South Centers)

Life hacks are all the rage these days. Now Elle Kaplan of offers some work-specific hacks you can use to make your day more productive and pleasant:

  1. Email smarter.Make entering the recipient’s address the last thing you do so you can review what you write before you send it. The ability to reconsider a message written in haste or the heat of the moment can save you some regret.
  2. Keep a clean workspace.Kaplan cites a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience that found that multiple stimuli are taxing for your brain. Removing inessential or obsolete clutter from your immediate work environment can take a load off your brain. In other words, a clear and focused workspace might translate to a clear and focused mind.
  3. Arm yourself with healthy snack options.We all know that healthy snacks make more sense, but we also tend to go with what’s most easily available. Bring in some fruit, nuts, or energy bars at the beginning of each week so you’ll have them on hand when hunger hits.
  4. Learn to delegate.Taking on everything yourself will deplete your productivity. If you feel like you’re the only person who can handle a certain task, take the opportunity to teach someone else how to do it, too. You’ll increase your own productivity and protect the organization from being left in the lurch if you’re not available.
  5. Make yourself comfortable.Put ergonomic advances to work for you. Use back supports, wrist rests, and similar products to reduce the strain on your body.
  6. Ask questions.Kaplan notes that it can be impossible to solve some problems without asking the right questions, whether of an expert, a colleague, or even yourself. “What can I accomplish today that will have the biggest impact on my business?” “Who can I talk to today to help overcome the obstacle at hand?” Questions like these prepare you to have a clear intent and a resourceful perspective.
  7. Use colors.Scientists have found most people associate certain colors with certain qualities. For example, we usually connect green with growth and creativity. Incorporate color in your workspace to influence your moods and inspire yourself.
  8. Give your eyes a break.If your job requires you to spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, follow the 20-20-20 Rule to reduce the resulting eye strain. Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and look at an object 20 feet away.

New Start Up Business Guide to Bookkeeping

(Shared by Ryan Mapes, Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

By Bob Mason, Tax Buzz

When you embark on a new business venture, your focus is likely on the service or product that you’re providing, and not on the record-keeping responsibilities that come with the territory. Still, as nice as it would be to set aside things like general ledgers and accounting, they are an essential element of making your business a success, so it is important that you have a good grasp of the bookkeeping that needs to be done.

What Bookkeeping Tasks Need to be Completed?

Keeping good records serves a number of purposes. It lets you keep track of the health of your business at a glance. It also provides you with the data that you need to submit to the federal and state government every year at tax time. The more accurate and complete your financial records are, the better the information that will be available for both purposes.

Comprehensive bookkeeping will contain information about your revenues, your profits, and how much money is flowing out of your business for expenses, wages and other transactions.  Being able to easily extract this information will definitely prove to be a benefit – you just have to decide how to go about it. It is a responsibility that can be outsourced to a small business accountant, or you can take it on yourself. There are advantages to both strategies – it can take some time to learn the process, but keeping your own books will ensure that you are always aware of your business’ health. By the same token, letting a professional do the job will free you up to concentrate on what you do best and are most interested in.


Half of Millennials Want to Start a Business: Here’s How to Get Going

(Shared by Brad Bapst, Director, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

By Kali Geldis NAV

If you were born between 1977 and 1995, there’s over a 50% chance that you would start your own small business if you knew where to get help to make it happen.

America’s SBDC, the face of a nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), collaborated with the Center for Generational Kinetics to better understand how different generations view entrepreneurship. The findings indicated that millennials were especially eager to start businesses of their own, but there were some things standing in their way.

Millennials stated that they’d like help writing a business plan, and they rate money high on the list of things holding them back from starting a business. In fact, 45% of the study respondents said that finding capital to start a business was their biggest barrier. That’s not a huge shocker — there are more than 44 different types of business financing out there, and they come with unique interest and fee structures.

Here are five tips that can help any millennial, no matter their entrepreneurial dream, get started. 

1. Make Sure You’re Ready to Start a Business of Your Own

Don’t be in too big of a hurry to become your own boss. Make sure you’re ready to take this giant step. Ask yourself these questions:

• Do you want to start a business for the right reasons? Don’t start a business because you’re frustrated with your job search or you’re in a job you hate. Make sure you’re running toward your dream, not searching for a hiding place.

• Do you have financial resources to support the startup period? One of the first things you’ll work on is establishing business credit and obtaining initial financing, but those things probably won’t happen on day one. Make sure you have the resources to support yourself until the business generates a paycheck for you.

2. Create a Plan

You need a written business plan no matter how wonderful your idea is for your new company. Creating this plan will teach you a great deal about how to run your business. Put it in writing so that you can revisit it often and update it as situations change.

You can write the plan yourself. If you’re not an expert at writing business plans, there are free resources to help you. Look up your local SBDC or the closest resource provided by the Small Business Administration. They offer free consulting.

3. Set Up the Best Company Structure

There are a variety of company structures you can use, from LLCs to S-Corps. Seek professional advice from your accountant and lawyer to ensure you make the right choice.

4. Get a Small Business Startup Loan (If Needed)

If your business plan calls for obtaining startup funds to support initial growth, look into your options as soon as possible. Many small business loans are reserved for companies that have a business history because they’ve been in operation for a couple years. Make sure you understand if it’s possible to fund your startupwith outside funds.

5. Establish Credit for Your Business

Even if you don’t need startup funding, the odds are that you will need financing at some point to expand your company and grow. The most common reason for needing funds is to take advantage of growth opportunities that require more cash than you have in reserves. Make sure that you establish credit for your business before you need it. (You can check your personal and business credit scores for free on Nav to get a full picture of your business credit profile.)

If you’re an entrepreneurial millennial, take advantage of all the resources that are available to help you succeed in starting your own business.

Customer Service: A Sense of Mission

(Shared by Jennifer Dunn, Program Assistant, Endeavor Center, OSU South Centers) by:

Job satisfaction isn’t something we tend to naturally associate with the position of customer service representative—which is why the team at Kars4Kids is worth a closer look, even if your business doesn’t have a dedicated customer service department.

Burnout isn’t a foregone conclusion for the team working phones at this nonprofit car donation program. One of the reps has, in fact, been with Kars4Kids for seven years. The manager of the customer service team has been on the job for 11 years.

That’s an incredible record, considering the data. These are dedicated customer service people; their sole responsibility is to interact with customers.

Customer service burnout: What the data say

In general, just how bad is the burnout associated with people who work directly with customers? The turnover rate should give you some idea. Back in 2013, turnover for customer service representatives was running at an incredibly high 30 to 45 percent, whereas the average turnover rate of employees for all industries in the United States was 15.1 percent.

Researchers have struggled to understand what might help prevent burnout. More money? Job security? Because if we could only help our customer-facing teams feel good about what they do, the theory goes, it’s likely they’d stick around longer and generate more customer loyalty. There’s generally a limit, on the other hand, to how much an organization can pay people in those roles. That means you’re going to have to find a different way to satisfy those employees so they won’t walk out in a huff.

One research trial found that more important than the money, more important than job security, is that the team member sees  himself as “playing a positive role within the wider organization.” Managers can help with this by keeping the team well-informed about the organization’s mission, even in for-profit companies. The manager can also convey to team members that they are valued and that their contribution is important. Finally, if reps feel they’re benefiting from company practices, they are more likely to feel good about their place of work and stick around a spell.

The right attitude can help prevent customer service burnout

Preventing customer service burnout, in other words, is about attitude. Team member attitude can be influenced by how well management keeps the team in the loop about the bigger picture. At Kars4Kids, this means sharing stories with the customer service team of kids helped by the organization. The customer service representatives come to know that each car donation represents another child mentored, or a scholarship to TheZone, a summer camp focusing on the personal growth of the campers.


Read more…

Employee Files

(Submitted by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Specialist, SBDC Export Assistance Network, OSU South Centers)

Sourced from:

Information that should not be in your employee files:

  • Age (unless a minor)
  • Citizenship
  • Disabilities
  • Marital status
  • Medical history
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

Information that should be in your employee files:

  • Employment application, pre-employment tests, notes on reference checks,
  • and hire date
  • Job title, job description, and employee classification (exempt or nonexempt)
  • Salary history
  • Promotions, transfers, or demotions
  • Skills inventory
  • Scheduled and completed training
  • Performance evaluations and performance goals
  • Accident and injury reports
  • Discipline reports
  • Request for reasonable accommodation of a disability


Job Postings

There are two job postings we wanted to share.

The first is a full time Program Assistant position at The OSU South Centers.  This position will provide a broad range of basic to complex office support services relating to document preparation, workshop preparation, reception and work flow; edits newsletters, proposals, and manuscripts.  Interested individuals should log onto: and apply before January 28th.

The second is a part time contractual Business Counselor for the Cincinnati Region Minority Business Assistance Center (MBAC) – Piketon office at the Ohio State University South Centers. The focus for this position is:

  1. Meeting all state required Key Performance Metrics (KPMs)
  2. Counseling MBAC business clients throughout the various phases of growth
  3. Maintaining client records
  4. Identifying contract opportunities with (federal, state, city & corporate) organizations/agencies for small businesses
  5. Assisting business owners with the State of Ohio certification processes for: Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Encouraging Diversity Growth and Equity (EDGE), and Veterans Friendly Business Enterprise certifications
  6. Planning outreach events
  7. Marketing of MBAC programming
  8. Designing training seminars and working with strategic partners
  9. Maintaining Piketon Facebook page

The full description for this position can be found here: 2018 Business Counselor Contractual Position PT-23oz0u0

Keeping Good Records

(Submitted by Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist, Small Business Development Center, OSU South Centers)

January is typically the month we all try to start fresh.  New resolutions, new goals, and new opportunities.  January is the perfect month to continue or start keeping good records for your business. Why keep records? Here’s some reasons for keeping good records:

  • Detail tracking – Whether it’s customers, sales, or inventory, these details help run your operations smoothly.
  • Planning – Keeping good records helps anticipate seasonality of your business. You can run a sale this March to get customers in the door if you know last March was slow.
  • Tax Prep – There’s no need to scramble around at the last minute to get your tax paperwork in order. Maintain those records that you know you’ll have to report quarterly or annually for federal, state and local requirements.
  • Legal Compliance – Having a good record system of your contacts, leases, agreements with suppliers, licenses, permits and insurance just allows your business to run seamlessly. If a problem arises, you’ll be able to show the documents necessary to keep everything on the up and up.
  • Payroll and Personnel – If you have employees, there are numerous records you are required to keep – even after your employee leaves your business.


If you already keep good records for your business, great!  Keep it up!  If you are not up to par, don’t stress!  Start this year fresh and then build upon that.

10 Ways to Thwart Cyber Threats at Work

(Submitted by Kelly O’Bryant, Business Specialist, SBDC Export Assistance Network, OSU South Centers)

Sourced from:

  1. Use strong passwords.
  2. Change passwords regularly.
  3. Do not share user names or passwords.
  4. Make regular backups of critical work.
  5. Avoid clicking on links to websites provided in e-mails.
  6. Use discretion when opening e-mail attachments.
  7. Confirm that an e-mail request for sensitive information is authentic before complying with it.
  8. Be wary of unexpected changes in established protocols for financial transactions.
  9. Ask IT before installing or connecting any personal software or hardware to the organization’s network or hardware.
  10. When traveling on business, keep laptops and other mobile devices hidden from view, and do not leave them unattended in unsecured areas.