April 18, 2021

You’re the Boss Blog: Deciding How Important It Is for a Business to Grow

She Owns It

Portraits of women entrepreneurs.

Alexandra Mayzler: The company is growing -- but slowly.Earl Wilson/The New York Times Alexandra Mayzler: The company is growing — but slowly.

At the most recent meeting of the She Owns It business group, we talked about the challenges of growing a business.

Alexandra Mayzler, who owns Thinking Caps Group, said her growth concerns are different than they were three years ago. Back then, she said she feared growth because she wasn’t sure she could find the right infrastructure and employees. Now, she said, she feels confident about the company’s infrastructure. The Thinking Caps playbook, which she recently updated, covers everything from how to draft an e-mail to the principles that underlie what the company does.

She said she believes that, with the resources she’s created, she can now communicate her vision to new employees. “I’m not saying I’m perfect and I don’t have a lot to learn,” she said, “but there’s enough infrastructure and training and leadership in place that you should be able to succeed unless it’s just not a good fit.” Now, she said, she needs to work on making the right long-term hires — and putting more focus on growth.

In the last few years, Thinking Caps has branched into Princeton, N.J., and Texas, with locations in Austin, Dallas, and Houston. It has also added a service called Prepare for Launch, a program for college students. “The company has been growing every year, but not a significant amount,” Ms. Mayzler said. The growth she has achieved, she said, has been primarily organic.

“At a certain point that sort of slows to a crawl, and then you need to put both oars in the water,” said Beth Shaw, who owns YogaFit.

“That’s exactly where I am,” Ms. Mayzler said. “In the beginning, you have to go out there pounding the pavement, and then it got to a place where we got our sort of low-hanging fruit.” The company is still growing — but slowly. Ms. Mayzler acknowledged she hadn’t made a concerted effort: “The conversation that I had with myself yesterday was, Is that good enough?”

“If you’re a true entrepreneur, it’s rarely good enough,” Ms. Shaw said.

Ms. Mayzler agreed. She conceded that she thought briefly about taking it easy. “I was like, Oh, this is fun, I can just take the summer off, this will be great,” she said. But when she woke up the next day, she said she realized she wanted to see the company “grow to the next level.”

And she said she thinks she finally knows what needs to be done. Much of her uncertainty, she said, was the result of her lack of infrastructure and her struggles to hire the right employees. “Maybe I have to deal with the fact that that perfect person doesn’t exist,” she said. She added that she had also realized that she may have to get better at making her expectations known to her staff and then following through when they fail to live up to them.

Looking back on the last two years, she said she now realizes she vacillated between micromanaging and stepping back too much. “I need to be consistent,” she said. “And I need to not be afraid of telling people what I think should be done. And when I’m evaluating things and when I think they’re not going well, I need to not be like, ‘Okay, let’s hope for the best next month.’”

With the infrastructure in place and some management lessons learned, Ms. Mayzler said she plans to “go after the middle-hanging fruit” in a strategic way. “We need to stop resting on our laurels and we need to get out there, and get out there in an organized way,” she said. In considering each location, she said she realized she had merely “gone through the motions” of expanding the business in New York. She added that she now sees she wasn’t truly committed to the idea because she was letting management issues distract her.

“I can say to myself, Oh, we didn’t get major results this year, but I tried,” she said of her efforts in New York. “But if I’m honest with myself, I don’t really think I really tried.” So, while she continued to work 12-hour days and cross items off her to-do list — for example, by sending a certain number of e-mails seeking partnerships with organizations like the Y.M.C.A. or the Jewish Community Center — her heart wasn’t in it.

But this summer, she is making plans. “I’m going to start September actually having very concrete goals because this year I was very flexible with myself,” she said. “I can’t wait for the school year to begin so we can actually do it.”

“That’s a big shift for you, because you haven’t been sure for a very long time,” Ms. Shaw said.

You can follow Adriana Gardella on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/growing-your-business-how-do-you-define-good-enough/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: The Bright Side of Unemployment?

On Thursday the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development released its latest report on the hundreds of unemployed workers it has been following (and surveying) for two years. As you might expect from the report’s title — “Out of Work and Losing Hope: The Misery and Bleak Expectations of American Workers” — the report’s findings are discouraging.



Dollars to doughnuts.

The typical jobless worker has been pounding the pavement for months and is running low on savings, friends and hope. Even the lucky workers who have found jobs are not exactly thriving, as most of the re-employed in the center’s survey have had to take pay cuts.

Even so, the report did manage to find some good that has come of its respondents’ unemployment spells:

DESCRIPTIONSource: John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development

The majority of the 675 workers surveyed in August — those whom the center was able to reach from its initial group of 1,202 workers first contacted in August 2009 — said they had worked on projects around the house.

A narrow majority (51 percent) also said they had “spent more enjoyable time” with their families as a result of being unemployed.

Smaller shares cited opportunities for self-improvement they had seized upon, such as additional education, training and volunteer work.

And a slim minority — 16 percent — even became “healthier through exercise.”

Clearly none of this means that all these workers would have been worse off if they’d kept their jobs. But it’s comforting to know that there has been a glimmer of silver lining for at least a few of the nation’s jobless.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=484b0a3716f1e776bc59ca854f6771ac

Many With New College Degree Find the Job Market Humbling

Now evidence is emerging that the damage wrought by the sour economy is more widespread than just a few careers led astray or postponed. Even for college graduates — the people who were most protected from the slings and arrows of recession — the outlook is rather bleak.

Employment rates for new college graduates have fallen sharply in the last two years, as have starting salaries for those who can find work. What’s more, only half of the jobs landed by these new graduates even require a college degree, reviving debates about whether higher education is “worth it” after all.

“I have friends with the same degree as me, from a worse school, but because of who they knew or when they happened to graduate, they’re in much better jobs,” said Kyle Bishop, 23, a 2009 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh who has spent the last two years waiting tables, delivering beer, working at a bookstore and entering data. “It’s more about luck than anything else.”

The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008, according to a study released on Wednesday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. That is a decline of 10 percent, even before taking inflation into account.

Of course, these are the lucky ones — the graduates who found a job. Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007. (Some have gone for further education or opted out of the labor force, while many are still pounding the pavement.)

Even these figures understate the damage done to these workers’ careers. Many have taken jobs that do not make use of their skills; about only half of recent college graduates said that their first job required a college degree.

The choice of major is quite important. Certain majors had better luck finding a job that required a college degree, according to an analysis by Andrew M. Sum, an economist at Northeastern University, of 2009 Labor Department data for college graduates under 25.

Young graduates who majored in education and teaching or engineering were most likely to find a job requiring a college degree, while area studies majors — those who majored in Latin American studies, for example — and humanities majors were least likely to do so. Among all recent education graduates, 71.1 percent were in jobs that required a college degree; of all area studies majors, the share was 44.7 percent.

An analysis by The New York Times of Labor Department data about college graduates aged 25 to 34 found that the number of these workers employed in food service, restaurants and bars had risen 17 percent in 2009 from 2008, though the sample size was small. There were similar or bigger employment increases at gas stations and fuel dealers, food and alcohol stores, and taxi and limousine services.

This may be a waste of a college degree, but it also displaces the less-educated workers who would normally take these jobs.

“The less schooling you had, the more likely you were to get thrown out of the labor market altogether,” said Mr. Sum, noting that unemployment rates for high school graduates and dropouts are always much higher than those for college graduates. “There is complete displacement all the way down.”

Meanwhile, college graduates are having trouble paying off student loan debt, which is at a median of $20,000 for graduates of classes 2006 to 2010.

Mr. Bishop, the Pittsburgh graduate, said he is “terrified” of the effects his starter jobs might have on his ultimate career, which he hopes to be in publishing or writing. “It looks bad to have all these short-term jobs on your résumé, but you do have to pay the bills,” he said, adding that right now his student loan debt was over $70,000.

Many graduates will probably take on more student debt. More than 60 percent of those who graduated in the last five years say they will need more formal education to be successful.

“I knew there weren’t going to be many job prospects for me until I got my Ph.D.,” said Travis Patterson, 23, a 2010 graduate of California State University, Fullerton. He is working as an administrative assistant for a property management company and studying psychology in graduate school. While it may not have anything to do with his degree, “it helps pay my rent and tuition, and that’s what matters.”

Going back to school does offer the possibility of joining the labor force when the economy is better. Unemployment rates are also generally lower for people with advanced schooling.

Those who do not go back to school may be on a lower-paying trajectory for years. They start at a lower salary, and they may begin their careers with employers that pay less on average or have less room for growth.

“Their salary history follows them wherever they go,” said Carl Van Horn, a labor economist at Rutgers. “It’s like a parrot on your shoulder, traveling with you everywhere, constantly telling you ‘No, you can’t make that much money.’ ”

And while young people who have weathered a tough job market may shy from risks during their careers, the best way to nullify an unlucky graduation date is to change jobs when you can, says Till von Wachter, an economist at Columbia.

“If you don’t move within five years of graduating, for some reason you get stuck where you are. That’s just an empirical finding,” Mr. von Wachter said. “By your late 20s, you’re often married, and have a family and have a house. You stop the active pattern of moving jobs.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=13fef1b24340d720ebc1f9d180307acd