by Attorney Carl E. Person

(July 1994 Revision)

Office and Telephone Consultations Are Free

Carl E. Person, Attorney at Law
325 W. 45th Street - Suite 201
New York, NY 10036-3803

Tel: (212) 307-4444
Fax: (212) 307-0247

Table of Contents

  1. Earn More Money by Understanding Your Employer
  2. How to Look for Small Business Employment
  3. How to Handle an Interview
  4. Employment Contracts and Typical Provisions
  5. Differences between Small Business and Big Business
  6. The Most Valuable Asset of Your Small-Business Employer
  7. The "Personal Assistant" - $600/Week to Start Your Most Valuable Asset - Take a Guess (answer provided)
  8. Breaking Down the Business Day of Your Own Boss
  9. Developing the Money-Making Small-Business Attitude
  10. How Technology Should Make Money for You
  11. Wear Many Hats Including a Chauffeur's
  12. The Role of Telephone Calls
  13. Addressing, Wrapping, Postage, Mailing, Express & Messengers
  14. Repairing/Servicing Copiers, Computers, Etc.
  15. Copying, Collating, Binding and Perfection
  16. Supplies, Disruption and You
  17. Accounts Receivable - A Source of Profit for You
  18. Accounts Payable - "My Boss Isn't in Today"
  19. Computer Calendars
  20. Cost Monitoring and Controls
  21. Lead Maintenance and Follow Ups
  22. Shared Vision with Your Small-Business Employer
  23. Understanding Goals and Priorities
  24. The Key to Getting Things Done - A Secret Worth $1,000,000 to You
  25. Competition
  26. Filing Systems, Storage and Record Destruction
  27. Compensation and Profits
  28. Payroll, Payroll Taxes and Payroll Services
  29. NYC/NYS Business Taxes
  30. Personal Tasks - It's All Business
  31. Relationships with Other Employees
  32. Titles, Positions and What's in a Name
  33. Benefits - Not the First Question to Ask
  34. Expenses
  35. Additional Training
  36. Ascertain Skills You Should Develop
  37. Confidentiality and Trust
  38. Valuable Experience for You
  39. At the End of Your Employment
  40. Model Resume for You to Use
  41. Computer Literacy - a Must
  42. Small Business Training Programs in NYC
  43. Acquiring a Low-Cost Computer and Computer Skills
  44. Hours of Work - Don't Count Them
  45. Banking, Credit Cards and Your Role
  46. Taxes and Tax Problems
  47. Family of the Owner - They're the Owner Too
  48. Financing Matters
  49. Honesty, Ethics and the Attractive Gray Area
  50. Claims, Litigation and Legal Audits
  51. Finding a Lawyer
  52. Accountants
  53. A Final Word
  54. Appendices

1. Earn More Money by Understanding Your Employer

The purpose of this booklet is not what you think - to make a profit for the writer or to enable you the reader to earn more money than you are now earning. Yes, the booklet should do both of these things. But the underlying purpose is to be able to tra in persons to work for small business, so that I and other small-business employers don't have to train you at our own expense. This training (through understanding the matters discussed in this booklet) will enable you to be of significant help to small business, which will help me and other small businesspersons prosper.

Many of us cannot prosper because of the failure of our school systems to train people to work for small business. Thus, we as small businesspersons are forced into either (a) conducting a training program for new employees, only to see the employees go elsewhere for money after they have been trained at the businessperson's expense; or (b) don't hire any employees (or hire fewer employees), which is why many small businesses don't and can't grow.

This booklet is a training program for persons who want to work for and prosper from small business.

There are many things you must know, which small businesspersons don't have the time to teach you when you are working for the business.

Accordingly, by reading and understanding this booklet, and applying the principles to your career in small business, you will become a highly valuable employee of small business, and no doubt go on to become a partner of the business (or another), or bec ome the founder and owner of your own small business.

Enough with the reason that this booklet has been written. I just want you to know that what is offered is the result of more than 25 years' experience in small businesses of various types, including the practice of law as an individual (sole) practition er.

By reading this book carefully, and applying its teachings, you will be able to understand what motivates a small businessperson, which will give you the insight into what is being asked of you, even if the small-business owner doesn't have the time to te ll you these things himself/herself.

This understanding is the key to your success. If you can give me what I need as a small businessperson, you are going to be very valuable to me, and I will reward you appropriately, because it is good business to do so, and because I don't want to lose you.

2. How to Look for Small-Business Employment

I'm really putting the cart before the horse, but I want you to know that there are things you can do to obtain employment with small business when competing with many others for the same position.

The key is to let the prospective employer know that you are aware of the things he/she needs from you, and that you are quite willing (if not even a little bit anxious) to do these things. I'll let you know the key thing later on in this book which is v irtually irresistible when heard by the interviewing employer. As long as you appear (and should be) honest in your expression of the key phrase to the prospective employer, and know how to develop the concept, it seems very difficult for the employer no t to put your resume on the top of the list.

Businesses don't generally categorize themselves in their classified employment opportunities advertising. You have to know how to read the ads to figure out whether the job is being offered by small business or something else.

If you see a well-known company name, the chances are about 99% that the company is not a small business. Also, if the employer is a government agency, then obviously the agency is not a small business. A cautionary note, however, is that within large c ompanies and governmental agencies you might well have small, independent divisions which function similar to a small business. You might well wish to consider opportunities with such divisions or agencies.

The main way to read the classified advertising, however, is to see the extent to which the job is specialized and limited. The more limiting the job, the larger the employer, is a general rule you can follow. If you see an ad seeking an assistant, admi nistrative assistant or other job reciting a variety of different tasks to be performed, you are probably dealing with a small business or someone who is a manager of a division.

Another sign is salary. Small business is more apt to pay less than big business or a government agency. This doesn't mean that small business is not the place to work. It means that small business needs someone like you to help make it grow, so that y our salary can be increased substantially, beyond what could be paid in a large company for persons with your experience.

When looking for other employment, you have to do what is best for yourself, and take the consequences of your employer into account. Try to avoid leaving the employer in the lurch. But also protect yourself by not giving any signs that you are looking for a job (because the employer may worry about what you plan to take when you leave and terminate you on the spot, leaving you in a financial plight).

I have seen the signs over the years, which are calls from someone name "Marie" or "Joseph", please call back right away. These probably are guarded calls from employment agencies trying to arrange for an interview. When I see these signs, I recognize t hat the employee is going to leave. Some employers may decide to fire at that point. So be careful and figure out a better way of maintaining contact.

3. How to Handle an Interview

When showing up for an interview, dress for the part. Don't show up in blue jeans, for example. Overdress rather than underdress. Be prompt, after all the first impression you make may well be decisive. The small-business employer is seeking a person who is responsible and reliable, and by showing up late for this important interview, it is clear to the interviewer than you lack both traits and really don't care whether you get the job or not. Obviously, you should not be offered the job unless your overpowering personality and knowledge of what the employer is seeking is strong enough to overcome your late arrival.

Don't tell the prospective employer that you are interested in benefits (for there may not be any), and don't say that you will only be using this job as a stepping stone, and intend to leave when something better comes along. Also, don't give the impres sion that you will be dissatisfied and unable to live on the salary which is offered. If you have to have more than the amount mentioned, you should state why you have to have such amount, and hope that the employer agrees with you, which he might. He m ay have misjudged the marketplace because, as a small businessperson, he/she might not be keeping up with current salary levels.

Don't tell the employer that you are going to have a second job, and that you have $60,000 in student loans to pay off and that you are saddled with the medical expenses of your two crippled parents. The employer is heartless but he/she doesn't want to be burdened with your problems. He/she has enough problems already.

The interviewer (who will be the owner of the business, or someone very close to that person) would like to believe, from what you say, that you are understanding of his/her problems and that you are going to dedicate yourself to helping him/her solve tho se problems, and free up the small businessperson to do other, more important things.

Also, don't tell the interviewer that you expect to work 9 to 5 with every weekend and numerous holidays off. Small business requires more than 9 to 5 and if you want to succeed in small business, as in many other situations, you must apply yourself beyo nd the nominal working hours of 9 to 5. You'll find that you will want to complete a task even if it requires you to stay late. You might tell the interviewer this, saying that this will enable you to start on a new project first thing at the start of t he next day.

Understand and be prepared to talk about priorities, long-range goals and short-range strategies to reach the goals. You'll learn about many things in this booklet which will be of interest to your prospective employer, and you might even refer to the booklet and suggest that it would be a good thing for his/her other (if any) employees to read. This would make you app ear, to the interviewer, to be a team player to maximize profits in his/her business even though in doing so you are increasing the value and competition of your (prospective) co-employees.

4. Employment Contracts and Typical Provisions

If you prevail, and I'm confident that you will, more quickly than persons who haven't read this booklet, you may be offered a contract. Or maybe you will not be offered a contract.

New York is an "at will" state, meaning that you can be fired at will if you have no contractual protection, other than for any unlawful employment discrimination (and possibly other than for certain types of whistleblowing, which is rarely protected, I s hould quickly point out). Thus, be prepared not to have any contractual protection.

The small-business employer has various reasons that he/she may not want to give you a contract. One of them is the lack of money to assure that there is sufficient money to pay you and keep the business going for the duration of the contract. The busin essperson may want to keep his/her options open and be able to terminate your employment if things are getting rough financially, or if you don't work out, or if you can't get along with the owner's spouse or paramour.

On the other hand, you may be able to obtain an employment contract, which you would want to have in writing, rather than oral, but you might suggest that you prepare a simple one-page agreement for him/her to review. This will enable the employer to avo id legal fees, and the one-page feature makes it appear that you will be writing it yourself, when in fact you should have your lawyer prepare it for you, but making it look like you prepared it.

You would want to have the length of your employment, what your job is to be, the salary, that the contract may be terminated for cause (a provision for the employer), that you will agree not to compete within a 1-mile radius for a 2-year period after ter mination of your employment (another provision for the employer), that you will hold in confidence whatever trade secrets you learn from your employer or while on the job - let your lawyer discuss this one with you before using it); that any inventions re lating to the employer's business belong to the employer (also, discuss this provision with your employer). Basically, try to get a contract of a certain number of years' duration but give the employer certain protections in return.

5. Differences between Small Business and Big Business

Let's get down to some basic things. You must realize that small business and big business are miles away from each other. Let me try to list some of the main ways: