The Worcester Business Resource Alliance (WBRA) is a loose network of business professionals, technical assistance providers, lenders, and community development organizations that provide services to entrepreneurs, small business owners and managers in Central Massachusetts. Each month, representatives meet to collaborate and update each other on upcoming events. Current WBRA member organizations are outlined for the convenience of prospective clients at http://wbra.wordpress.com/organizations/.
The latest update of upcoming WBRA business events is found at http://wbra.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/.
Can employers get in trouble for using criminal background checks in the hiring process? Technically, yes.
SCORE spokesman Raj Tumber says background checks are crucial both for the protection of the employer and for the safety of other employees working at a business.
“Legal issues can sometimes backfire for the company,” when hiring an employee with prior criminal convictions, says Tumber.
He says small businesses should follow guidelines of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to ensure all checks are legal.
Published May. 23, 2013
People are the most important asset in every small business, yet few entrepreneurs are well-versed in the nuances of human resources and the laws and regulations governing hiring, compensation, and management. Human Resources expert and author Mary Anne Kennedy shares her insight on professional HR and hiring practices for the success of your business.
We often think of human resources revolving around hiring employees, administering benefits, and complying with regulations. What is the “true” role of HR in a small business?
Navy veteran Joel Goldberg founded Aurico Reports in 1991, running it out of an extra bedroom in his home. Over twenty years later, the company occupies a 3 story office building in Arlington Heights, Illinois and provides a comprehensive array of in-depth background screening, drug testing, assessment tools and related resources that help companies find and retain the "A" players - the best people for the job opening they seek to fill. Aurico is recognized as an industry leader due to their exceptional commitment to accuracy, consistent quality, fast turnaround, and solutions-based approach. By partnering with an organization’s Human Resources department, they increase that organization’s efficiency, lower their recruitment costs and improve their organizational performance.
Aurico is committed to support its employees and their community. In 2011, they added 12 new full-time positions to their staff and now support 63 employees in their hometown. They’ve made a significant investment in employee cultivation, often promoting from within their own ranks and offering continuous employee training and development. In 2011, Aurico was nominated for the "Business of the Year" Award in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and was also cited as an INC 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Company in the US. The company works closely with the town government and Chamber of Commerce to support events in the Arlington Heights community. Every member of the management team is involved with volunteer activities throughout the community by serving on boards, supporting PADS for HOPE homeless shelters, volunteer coaching and supporting the local YMCA, community libraries and United Way.
How SCORE Helped
Beginning in 2009, SCORE mentors Leo Dietlin, Don Crossett, Jerry Hicks and Jay Rowell began carefully evaluating Aurico’s operations, corporate structure and strategic plan, looking for new opportunities for growth and planning the company’s long-term course of action, including incorporating the talents and experience of the founder’s son, Ben Goldberg. The SCORE team recommended a strategy and goals that the Aurico team now uses to benchmark its accomplishments and develop annual planning and directions. The results were obvious – they now serve 2,500 clients nationwide and boast a 97% client retention rate since 1991. They continue to regularly meet with their team of SCORE mentors to assist in managing their resulting growth.
For many people, trying to read or write another language can be a slow, mind-numbing exercise in frustration. For Beatriz Bonnet, it's a business opportunity. Her 11-year-old company, Syntes Language Group, has translated documents, manuals, and correspondence between English and more than 100 other languages. Although the firm has only 14 full-time employees, Beatriz expects Syntes Language Group to top $1.5 million in sales this year.
Not bad for a former teacher and part-time musician who "inherited" the firm in 1988. "I had a background in languages and had done some translating work for a friend, who had started the company [then called Global Communication Services] as a sideline," she recalls. "He was finishing law school, and offered to sell me the company in exchange for lunch. At the time, I thought, 'I'm just a flute player; what do I know about running a business?'"
Beatriz renamed the company Global Translation Services and most recently changed the name to Syntes Language Group. Initially, the company wasn't foremost in her life either; there was her music, teaching responsibilities and a master's degree to complete first. But word of the firm's services spread, and in 1990, Beatriz decided to devote herself full-time to expanding her company's solid reputation for quality work. When Beatriz and her husband relocated to Denver in 1995, Syntes Language Group moved with her. Yet she kept the Houston office open to serve the region's strong market for translation services.
With success, however, came many challenges, such as finding and retaining good translators, and managing two offices 1,000 miles apart. Beatriz had to make sure her employees were capable of handling the often complex assignments, as a misplaced word or wrong verb tense could easily cause headaches of literally global proportions. Fortunately, there was a resource that could help make sense of these complex issues—SCORE.
"I had been trying other resources as my business grew," Beatriz says. "While attending a business expo, I visited the SCORE booth and spoke to a mentor about my administration and human resources management concerns. He said that SCORE could provide exactly the kind of assistance I needed."
What's Great About My Mentor?
SCORE Mentor Phyllis Milway began applying her extensive knowledge of human resources and administration to Syntes Language Group's unique needs. She guided Beatriz through the maze of structuring compensation programs, interviewing and selecting candidates, checking references, and conducting new employee orientation, as well as the sometimes difficult process of termination.
Phyllis also offered suggestions on developing accurate and relevant job descriptions, employee handbooks, policies and procedures, and other personnel functions that are so vital—yet often overlooked—in supporting a company.
Phyllis currently serves on the board of advisors for Syntes Language Group. "Phyllis brings a breadth of experience that I couldn't have developed myself. She has been more than a great counselor," Bonnet says. "She's also a great friend."
After accomplishing his goal of earning a college degree, marrying his childhood sweetheart and becoming a restaurant manager in New Bern, North Carolina, Queretero, Mexico native, Arturo Guillen accomplished another enormous feat; in 1999 he became the proud owner of Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant. Attempting to gain better understanding of his financial records and improve his managerial skills, Arturo contacted SCORE.
With New Bern attracting more residents and serving as a waypoint for beach-bound tourists, the future is full of promise for Arturo and Jaqueline Guillen. Their restaurant continues to grow in popularity, and a second location is under consideration. Since working with SCORE, Arturo has learned a lot about delegation and staff organization therefore he is able to maintain a successful and thriving restaurant and still spend quality time with his family.
What's Great About My Mentor?
“Les and other SCORE counselors really cared about me and my business,” Arturo says. “They provided lots of valuable feedback about my financials and operations. I went in thinking they would just look at the financials, but they’ve been able to help me with everything I’ve needed. Les is more than a mentor; now, he’s a friend.”
How SCORE Helped
In addition to the financial statements, SCORE volunteer mentor Les Babcock, a veteran executive with a local corporation, advised Arturo on his taxes, legal obligations, marketing strategy, insurance and business planning. Les also drew on his Human Resources experience to help Arturo assess his personnel needs and develop an employee handbook. “Although running a business can be very stressful, you may be reluctant to delegate tasks to others,” Arturo says. “SCORE helped me improve my staff organization, which allows me to have more time to spend with my family.”
With guidance from San Diego SCORE, entrepreneur Heather Nelson is using her Social Betty Web site to help ease tough economic times for the local hospitality industry.
Launched in January 2008, www.socialbetty.com connects venues and event organizers who are planning events, both private and corporate. Organizers simply post their event’s details, free of charge, and tell the venues what they want and details about their needs. In turn, venues fill the requests of the organizer in order to fill available space and generate more revenue.
“In addition to helping event planners, many venues benefit from using Social Betty because they now have greater opportunity to generate additional revenue that would otherwise expire at the end of each business day, especially during non-peak hours, slower weeknights and vacant times,” Leslie says.
In the first quarter of 2009, Social Betty Web site traffic increased by more than 200 percent over the previous quarter and the event organizer and venue registrations have nearly doubled. Nelson is finalizing the second phase of her Web site design, which features a new look and more user-friendly components. As Nelson prepares to offer Social Betty’s services nationwide, she continues to work with Dick Leslie on strategic planning, raising capital, and managing overall operations of her company.
Social Betty has been featured on the local FOX, CW and ABC news stations as well as in Pacific San Diego magazine and The Daily Aztec.
What's Great About My Mentor?
“When I was getting my first business off the ground, I attended the Tax Considerations for Small Business workshop and the Women’s Networking Breakfast, which led me to several free counseling sessions with various SCORE mentors,” Nelson says. “After I started Social Betty, I contacted SCORE again and was linked up with San Diego SCORE Mentor Dick Leslie, who has been instrumental in helping me obtain financing, hire a team of sales contractors and create a pay structure and work parameters.”
Nelson continues to use SCORE’s services as Social Betty grows. “I look forward to working with Dick and San Diego SCORE in the near future on the company’s strategy for growth as I will be expanding Social Betty’s reach to Orange County and Los Angeles and eventually expand the Web site nationwide,” Nelson says.
How SCORE Helped
Nelson recognized a need for increased communication among event planners and restaurants, hotels and nightclubs. She had utilized SCORE’s service when starting her first business in 2004, and when she needed assistance with financing and hiring sales contractors for Social Betty, she contacted SCORE once again.