About: Ian Erickson

Ian Erickson, MBA is a business professional, with several years of experience in applied research and insight.

Posts by Ian Erickson:

Why External Auditors are a Good Investment

As a small business owner, you have enjoyed an up-close view of your organization. Starting entirely on your own, or with a very small number of people, you have been able to closely manage various responsibilities from business development to operations to accounting. Initially, this was simple due to the highly integrated nature of a small business.

However, as your company grows, you may wish to consider the advantages of using an external auditor. Different from an IRS auditor whose main focus is to look for errors, an external auditor is someone outside of your company who analyzes and assesses the way you run your business in order to improve it.


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When to Partner and When to Direct

For you, the small business owner, short-term projects can be excellent opportunities to grow the company while honing your team’s professional skills. However, they can also be nightmarish exercises in stress for you and your staff. Often, they are some combination of the two.

If this challenge was not daunting enough, as the owner of a growing company you will occasionally have to decide between listening to your staff members’ offers of advice in order to direct certain aspects of the project and asserting a more “top-down” approach in which you allocate responsibilities while offering your staff fewer options. Each approach is appropriate at certain times, and you need to know when to implement each.

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Blood Is Thicker Than Water


Over the last few years, your friends and especially family have watched you work the necessary long hours, including nights, weekends, and even holidays to ensure the business you started continues in its success. As they see your business grow, some of those same friends and relatives will begin to offer their assistance as an employee, contractor or even partner.  Likewise, you may start to look at those close to you as possible assets and even heirs to your company. The classic proverb states, “Blood is thicker than water,” and sometimes it is also a smarter job hire.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is not.


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All For One and One For All? When To Involve Multiple Departments In A Single Project

Since starting your own business, you have acquired much insight into management and prudent, effective growth. By way of your own decision making, as well as executing advice from consultants and staff members alike, you have overseen your company’s successful transition from a single person sole proprietorship to a small but expansion-minded company, which includes several junior partners. However, success brings with it new challenges, and one of which you are sure to face as your team grows, is the question of when to integrate different departments on specific projects.


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New Steps for New Year: Prioritizing Steps for Growth in 2016

2016 Calendar Target Showing Year Planner And Schedule

Over the past few years, you have committed a great deal of time and money to developing your small business. By reinvesting your business’s profits back into the company and keeping a close eye on the often unstable US economy, you have made strides in creating a profitable enterprise.

However, as a seasoned entrepreneur you are also aware that the only way to persevere is to continue to grow. The question is not whether you will grow; it is how to grow without overextending your investments or making other costly mistakes. Having a clear understanding of the landscape in which you intend to increase your business will clear the path for successful growth in 2016.


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Keeping it Inside – When To Only Use Internal Employees


There are many times, as a small business owner, you benefit from outsourcing a project to an external specialist, rather than assigning it to your full-time staff. For example, if you are planning an aggressive social media campaign for your financial advisory firm, you need a skilled professional who has the time and talent to focus on this objective and complete it by the deadline. For jobs like this, a freelance viral marketing expert is the practical choice.

However, there are situations in which the opposite is true, and in these cases you should look to your own employees. These situations often involve the need to:

Maximize Financial Savings –  It is true that outsourcing a project can be a great way for a small business owner to save money.  However, there are times when keeping a project in-house is less expensive than outsourcing.  In an article for Business2community.com, business advisor Jessica Bowers points out that by outsourcing, you are in fact hiring an additional employee.  This means that you should analyze your current budget to ensure that you have the funds to support this decision.  Along with actual numbers, scrutinize the amount of time you and your staff are truly focused on ongoing tasks; you may find that you and your-full time assistants have more free time than you think and can tackle an additional project without spending the extra money.

Maximize Company Brand –It can be a good idea to keep all projects that are within your company’s primary focus in-house. Doing this strengthens your small company’s brand as your team develops skills via new projects. Practical Ecommerce Contributing Editor Dale Traxler explains that most companies want to develop and maintain core operations that will differentiate them from their competition. For example, if your small accounting firm specializes in consulting for other small, local businesses, then you want have your internal staff handle such projects, while outsourcing occasional audits of private individuals.

Since an internal employee is familiar with your growing company’s proven methods, he or she will more easily complete the project within your organization’s culture. As with a baseball team whose players stay together year after year, your internal staff can scale its approach to projects and often complete them more efficiently than if you hire an outside contractor.

Maximize Control and Personal Oversight– When a manager needs to maintain confidentiality of a project, such as when your coffee shop is planning to announce a special seasonal flavor, you will want as much personal oversight as possible. An external contractor may compromise this.

In addition to confidentiality, quality can suffer at the hands of external consultants as well. An article in the online IT-related medium TechRepublic shares an incident in which a contracted company tried to use lower quality equipment in order to save money. Only the client’s meticulous supervision prevented the contractor from proceeding and possibly jeopardizing the company’s good name.

Maximize Your Company’s Long-Term Strategy: When it comes to growing your small company’s strengths and defining your long-term goals, your committed team of professionals are probably your best source of insight, especially if you foster an environment that encourages suggestions and even constructive criticism. To succeed, you will need to hire the best employees for each job. Rick Meekins, CEO and Managing Partner of Aepiphanni believes the key to building such a team is to balance flexibility with scrutiny when recruiting long-term employees.

Relying on internal employees is a good way to ensure confidentiality of a project as well as to strengthen your company’s core competencies.  However, failing to know when to involve an external consultant may backfire if your staff spends too much time on an odd assignment or on one for which it lacks adequate expertise. To ensure you make the right decision, call the consultants at Aepiphanni today for a free assessment of your options and how to make the best decision.

Ian Erickson is the writer for Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Managed, and Implementation Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. Ian Erickson has been advising managers and clients in a wide spectrum of industries on the most effective strategy for years. Ian discusses situations facing small businesses and how to turn challenges into opportunities.

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Recruiting 101

Steps to Recruiting and Keeping the Best Employees for your Small Business

You have managed your business, whether it be a direct mail marketing practice or pet care business for the last few years. As a disciplined, independent entrepreneur, you have managed every detail; the semi-comedic introduction plays out like this:
“Are you the CEO?”
“CEO, secretary and janitor.”

However, as a well-studied businessperson, you also understand that the key success is intelligent growth, and the key to growth is hiring passionate, intelligent professionals to manage the aspects of the business which have distracted you and hence bit into your revenue. The question you need to ask yourself is, “I know I need the right office manager, general assistant or sales coordinator, but how to I get him or her to join my team?”
In short: you need to be recruiting. [···]

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Climbing Your Own Corporate Ladder

How to Take Your Service-based Business to the Next Level

A few years ago, you decided to start your own service-based business, providing your company’s specialty to individuals and businesses. You followed the advice of respected entrepreneurship experts by starting slowly and capitalizing on a recognized niche. For example, your custodial service focused solely on servicing offices located within a concentrated area, or your accounting practice specializes in serving those medical and dental practices under new ownership.

In past few years, you have seen significant growth, but have recently noticed that revenue has begun to plateau, causing some concern. As a smart businessperson, you know that in order to survive, a company must grow.


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