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Small Minded

The magazine for businesses that are small and are going to stay that way
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A lot of the more reactionary news site commenters appear to be small business owners. The story is always that they work harder than anyone else, customers are a herd of cow-doofuses waiting to be drained dry while also providing an excellent source of amusing work stories, and employees need to be constantly bullied and micromanaged. I once challenged one of these serial commenters as to why, if they were so hard working, they found the time to make twelve comments on an article between 11:30am and 2pm on a business day, and they replied it was because "I've got staff, duh!"

In the absence of a Digital Millennium Self-Restraint Act, the only way to make this annoying midge cloud go away is to give them something else to focus on. Enter "Small Minded", the magazine and site for small business owners, by small business owners. A sample of article titles you could find there:

- What to do about an employee that keeps demanding a wage they can live on

- The Customer is always right....NOT!

- Plausible deniability for "accidents" befalling tax auditors, food inspectors and health & safety officials visiting your premises

- PROOF: The Government has actually been created for the sole purpose of taking all your wealth, rolling their sweaty bodies in it and laughing like Dr Evil

oscil8, May 24 2012

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       I'm a bit more forgiving of small business owners, the buck stops with them during tricky times - if you're trying to steer a business through the storm there are 3 main problems to have to deal with and those are the ones you seem to have picked out from their comments: Customers, Staff and Government.   

       If you're on a wage, there's less to worry about, giving you the luxury to think on more lofty matters, like how annoying small business owners can be on internet forums. ;)
zen_tom, May 24 2012
  

       You've never owned your own business, have you, [oscil8]?
UnaBubba, May 24 2012
  

       //The Government has actually been created for the sole purpose of taking all your wealth, rolling their sweaty bodies in it and laughing like Dr Evil// Interesting proposition, but to be a scientific theory, it has to be potentially falsifiable. I.e. it has to be conceptually possible to present evidence against the proposition.
pocmloc, May 24 2012
  

       ... nor is he likely to.
8th of 7, May 24 2012
  

       I'm sure UnaBubba can answer for himself, but [21Quest] while I appreciate your frustration at those employers who flout immigration/minimum wage laws, it doesn't follow that ALL employers (even UnaBubba) do the same.   

       It is possible to understand the bemoaning of the vast swathes of bureaucracy required when employing someone, and since it takes time and effort to file all the necessary paperwork to do that legally, taking on the responsibility not just for paying them in the short term, but to make a long-term commitment to continue paying a living wage, no matter the market conditions, not to mention keep on top of ever-changing rules and regulations, it all comes at a cost (financial or otherwise).   

       Yes, some employers skirt around all of that and get rich as a result. Other employers (arguably those who have more integrity) can find the cost of supporting all the legal requirements of running a business (tax, paperwork, file keeping for production at tribunals etc) is all stuff that "gets in the way" of the enjoyable part of running a business - i.e. having ideas and putting them into motion.   

       I'm confused by your comment about preferring Wall-Mart (who I always thought were notorious employers of ille..ahem.. "undocumented" immigrants and who's business model crowded out lots of small business owners who as a rule are more law-abiding) - but you're being ironic, right?
zen_tom, May 24 2012
  

       Well, [21Q], if you didn't live in "THE GREATEST, FAIREST, MOST DEMOCRATIC ECONOMIC PARADISE ON EARTH" then your small business employers wouldn't have to employ undocumented workers. You'd also have a government that enforces labour laws to ensure foreign workers get the same basic wage as everyone else in the same position, at a minimum hourly rate that is well above the minimum wage in "THE GREATEST, FAIREST, MOST DEMOCRATIC ECONOMIC PARADISE ON EARTH"   

       I pay, as a minimum, $27.50 per hour to the people whom I employ. That rate is to our cleaner, BTW. I pay my contract bookkeeper $70/hour and I still seem to be able to make a profit. I must be doing something wrong.   

       The truth of the matter is that small businesses often don't have the revenue base to compete with large businesses in their same industry sector. They fall down because they can't spread their overhead cost across enough sales / units sold to be competitive.   

       Those business owners need to understand they have lost the battle in that market segment and they should either select a different industry or go and get a job. They'll endure less stress and probably make more money, if they select the latter.
UnaBubba, May 24 2012
  

       //... Meanwhile, I'll continue to do my shopping at Wal-Mart, thanks, where I can find a greater selection at a much lower price.   

       See, that's where small business owners shoot themselves in the foot, and are too blinded by greed to see it. They try to maximize profits by driving wages down and prices up, then complain when people (who have to live off such low wages) want to do their shopping at cheaper stores like Wal-Mart.//
(21 Quest, May 24 2012)
  

       !   

       You genius.
Loris, May 24 2012
  

       I once hired someone working illegally in this country, this Australian fellow on holliday. I paid him more than I usually pay starting apprentices because he had experience, and then I paid far more when he stuck the tip of his finger into the spinning blade of the table saw...   

       Wallmart isn't the same since Wally died.   

       Walmart also forces its workers onto the foists of public assistance and health care because it doesn't bother to pay them a living wage. And when they pack up and leave town, they throw all sorts of constraints in the mix as to precisely who can buy their derelict stores.   

       I wonder if UB would have a use for a washed-up auto engineer with a dead-end career...   

       I seem to recall a story about the crops down south rotting in the fields because the state passed an aggressive immigration law. Despite unemployment amongst US citizens being rather high, they simply weren't willing to stoop to the hard work of picking crops.
RayfordSteele, May 24 2012
  

       //Rather than pay them hourly, the employers insist that it's fair to pay them some arbitrary and unlegislated number by the amount of crates they pack per hour or some ridiculous metric like that, and even the hardest working people were averaging less than minimum wage.//   

       That's an interesting point. While I don't disagree that this would be a disreputable way of avoiding minimum wage legislation, the fact remains that workers do have the option not to take the deal.   

       //You pay per hour, and if you feel you aren't getting your money's worth from an employee who doesn't work hard enough you can fire him for being unproductive.//   

       I would imagine that doesn't work so well for short-term labour, which is where piecework is usually practiced.   

       IIRC Germany had a similar problem with its asparagus crop - although the pickers were initially legal working visitors, a law was passed which prevented that happening. The locals were not inclined to work (actually quite skilled work) for the rates offered.
In the case you mention it seems to me that the real issue is that America is not dealing with the foreign labour appropriately. There are probably other vested interests.
  

       Regarding Wal-Mart (or rather, large companies in general; particularly supermarkets), the issue is not just what they pay their workers, but also how aggressive they are in reducing their purchasing costs.
If a business is selling to lots of different customers, they don't have to cede to demands for a reduced price. If there's one large customer buying from multiple much smaller businesses, that customer can take advantage - and supermarkets do.
Loris, May 24 2012
  

       What on earth is an illegal immigrant? Is the Earth not the common treasury of all men? Who abrogates the rights to themselves to say what parts of the earth a fellow human may or may not walk?   

       Also, why is it good when an individual puts on their "customer" hat and seeks out the cheapest deal, but bad when the same individual puts on their "employer" hat and seeks out the best deal? To be consistent, either shopping cheap is good and so is hiring cheap; or hiring cheap is bad and therefore shoppers have a moral duty to patronise more expensive businesses.
pocmloc, May 24 2012
  

       //What on earth is an illegal immigrant? Is the Earth not the common treasury of all men? Who abrogates the rights to themselves to say what parts of the earth a fellow human may or may not walk?//   

       Hear hear.   

       //the employers insist that it's fair to pay them some arbitrary and unlegislated number by the amount of crates they pack per hour or some ridiculous metric like that, and even the hardest working people were averaging less than minimum wage. That simply isn't how it works in this country. You pay per hour, and if you feel you aren't getting your money's worth from an employee who doesn't work hard enough you can fire him for being unproductive.//   

       Hahaha.
Welcome to my last couple of decades. Nothing but piece work, 'and' I have to guarantee all of the work and pay my own taxes/benefits.
I kind of detest working by the hour and wouldn't have it any other way. When both competency and speed are required to get just an incremental raise the skill of the worker goes through the roof.
  

       When I hire apprentices I have no choice but to pay them by the hour until I see if they are worth their salt. I switch them to a percentage of the labor after a year or so. (they cost me money for about six months, then they make me money for about six months, then we're square)
It's the only way I've found to get them to think for themselves. Before that, what incentive do they have to excell and make me 'more' money unless doing so also lines their pockets?
  

       The price per square foot here hasn't changed in over a decade, but I'm still squeezing out raises.   

       //businessmen in general are dishonest cheats,//   

       Another critic who's never been in business for themselves, I would surmise.
UnaBubba, May 24 2012
  

       // THE GREATEST, FAIREST, MOST ECONOMIC PARADISE ON EARTH //   

       Dubai?
Alterother, May 24 2012
  

       [21Quest] Says //businessmen in general are dishonest cheats, and it is the rare businessman who conducts his business honestly.// then a few annos later complains how businessmen //slanders us citizens// Irony much? A few sweeping generalizations too many here maybe?   

       I'd like to spend time drafting some more focussed slanders at you [21Q] but I have to go to the office to calculate and remit my Payroll Tax and then do the calculations to figure out how much Child Support I'm supposed to deduct off one employee's wages because he never bothers to pay it himself - so naturally the gov't decided to just coerce me to do it on his and their behalf. (Then there's that whole "don't argue with a fool" thing).
AusCan531, May 24 2012
  

       That's the one, [AusCan]...   

       "You should never argue with idiots. They just bring you down to their level and beat you with experience."
UnaBubba, May 24 2012
  

       Machiavelli wasn't / isn't actually a role model, unless you're planning on becoming a psychopath, [Simple]
UnaBubba, May 28 2012
  

       Stockholm Syndrome.
UnaBubba, May 28 2012
  

       // a stronger force through your martyrdom// So what are we suggesting here, a small-business person's jihad? Pack up your accounts forecasting spreadsheets brothers, we are destined for martyrdom! (Point of clarification, when we say, "martyrdom" we just mean filing our expenses after the official deadline, right?)
zen_tom, May 28 2012
  

       Hmmm a bit of a hornet's nest this one.   

       I didn't mean to slag off all small businesses, but the impression I get is that many of the small business owners who have so much to say on certain news sites are the type of people who can't operate in a team environment - they don't compromise, aren't interested in being polite and like to be in total control. The impetus for starting their own business is "screw the man" - aimed at former bosses, colleagues and the government. Their ambitions don't go much higher than a life of leisure where underlings do all the work. Often they express a shocked and annoyed frustration that running a small business is so much work.   

       You're right, I've never owned a small business, but a couple of people I know who have had a go have come unstuck because they were focused on doing something great instead of watching their back, and they ended up getting shafted by their business partners. This doesn't exactly get my fire started
oscil8, May 29 2012
  

       If you're out of your depth, [oscil8], it's probably best to shut your mouth, lest you drown. Just saying.
UnaBubba, May 29 2012
  
      
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