Telling the truth about SME life today

One of my directors is completely burnt out. I think that he’s in need of a break. If times were good, I’d suggest it like a shot. But all hands are needed at the pump. What do you suggest?

Don’t let a short-term crisis put your director’s future health at risk. An extended holiday may be the answer – but have you discovered his real problem?

Put the business to one side for a day and find out how you can give this close colleague the help he needs. Why is he frazzled Is it work or something at home Has his partner been diagnosed with cancer” Does he have money worries” Is he going through a divorce

If he has a pressing personal problem, he won’t be giving his full attention to work. Is it simply that you are expecting him to do too much” Stress is often caused by asking a good man to do the impossible.

Just knowing you are there to help may be enough to lift a weight off his mind but you are not an expert – recommend that he goes to his doctor.

Your concern will come as no surprise – he knows he is not on top form and will be worried about letting you down. Pay for his holiday to show how much you value his contribution and provide the confidence booster he needs.

I need some extra cash for my business to help us get through the recession but I keep hearing that the banks won’t lend to me. Who else can I turn to” If I can’t get funding, is this the end of the road for my company?

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but banking has gone through a big change – borrowing is no longer a human right and lenders expect to get their money back.

Why do you need the extra cash” Is trading behind budget” Are your creditors not paying on time Are you planning some new projects?  Whatever the reason, make an honest assessment of your predicament by answering these questions:

•    If you were a banker, would you lend money to your business” •    If you asked a friend to invest, would they get their money back?

If you secretly know your long-term prospects are poor, it is time to shut up shop. If you have faith in the future, control your daily cash and keep pestering the banks.

Talk to them all – loyalty has been another casualty of the credit crisis. One day, banks must start lending again; that’s the way they make their money. If all else fails, buy a few lottery tickets and hope that you can hit the jackpot.

One of my employees has been stealing from my office. I’ve tried to identify the culprit and have threatened to cease buying further office supplies. But the printers need cartridges and my staff need pens to keep working. What shall I do?

The answer is simple and not as draconian as it sounds – put in hidden cameras. An expert can fit these tiny devices outside office hours and no-one will spot the difference the following morning.

My business has been using this technique to detect internal theft for the past 15 years (historically cobblers had a bit of a reputation in this regard).

Paul, our security manager, and his chief super-sleuth, Steve, target those places where we think there is a problem. We install the cameras and, in 90 per cent of cases, the results justify our suspicions.

We warn all our employees that hidden surveillance may be used and give anyone caught on camera the chance of a fair hearing and the right of appeal. But we also take the inevitable disciplinary action – every thief gets the sack.

Picture: source



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