Key Mistakes Made During the Interview Process


When interviewing a potential employee it is easy to make one or more of the following mistakes.  By exploring these, hopefully you can navigate around them and find that quality person to fill your need.

We ask all YES/NO questions:
    “Did you do well in your last position?”    “Have you ever had a problem with attendence?”
What is the candidate supposed to say?  Have a few open ended questions.  They talk, YOU LISTEN

We talk too much:
“Hi, Jane.  in this job we’re looking for someone who can blah, blah, blah, someone who is flexible, can multi task, etc…etc…. Now Jane, please tell me more about your job experience and background.” You just gave away all the details of what you are looking for.  The candidate can answer to make the match.

We apply the halo error:
    Often, the business owner gets referrals from clients, other employees, etc… Just because the candidate is the daughter of your best client, doesn’t necessarily mean she will be right for your job opening.

We expect to get a bargain
    What do you think will happen if you offer much less than what their skills are worth in the marketplace?  They will be with you for six months and still be applying for other positions and you will need to start the process all over again.

Finally – We fail to check references
This is a NO BRAINER and yet we don’t do it.  Ask for a former supervisor and call directly with open ended questions about areas of achievement and subtle questions about areas of concern you have from the interview will go a LONG WAY toward insuring you get a good hire.

Guest Blog provided by Jackie Van Ahn.  Jackie spent 25 years as the Director of Human Resources at Kirke-Van Orsdel and the last 10 years consulting through her own business HRLink.  For questions or to talk to Jackie in more detail, you may reach her at (515)225.6230.


Why should I outsource my HR department?


Happy New Year! At InFocus Partners we had a great year and are very thankful for our value customers. As a Client Service Administrator, I am very excited to see what 2012 bring to our organization!

In this month’s blog I would like to highlight some of the key reasons Human Resources are invaluable to organizations.

  1. Outsourcing Administration: It can help you get back to growing your business. As business owners, we need to focus on increasing revenues for expansion. By outsourcing administrative tasks, such as human resources, you can free up time for your goals and plans to make your business successful!

  2. Accountability: At InFocus Partners, it is our goal to always be aware of changes in regulations and procedures.  By utilizing a Human Resources Departments, you can rely on experts to keep your business compliant with situations in the work place. Again, help you get to your business, your ultimate goal.

  3. Business Relationship: Business is built on a strong foundation of trust and common sense. At InFocus Partners, we strive to provide the best customer service with a relationship you can trust and seek guidance. Having a good human resources department can help you through positive and challenging situations you face. It is critical to be able to pick up the phone with a contact you trust.

In summary, human resources is a critical piece to your business. At InFocus Partners, our motto is to help our customers focus on their business and help them be the best they can be!

Best Wishes,

Michelle Swanson
InFocus Partners

Am I Personally Protected if my Business is Incorporated?


             One of the main advantages to incorporation of your business is that you can protect your personal assets from business creditors.  This protection however, is not absolute. Here are a few additional tips to about what you can do to protect your personal assets:

  1. Sign All Bills and Contracts as the Business Owner.  Too often business owners get in the habit of just signing their name to contracts, bills and other legal documents.  They assume that because the contract is with the business this means they are protected.  This is not necessarily the case.  There have been situations where the Courts have allowed a creditor to sue the owner personally when the owner signed the agreement without making it clear they were signing in their capacity as the business owner.  For this reason I tell all my clients to 1) make sure the contract clearly states it is with your business and not you and 2) get in the habit of adding your corporate title right after your name (i.e. President, Manager, etc.).
  2. Avoid Signing Personal Guarantees.    Often contracts have a provision in the body of the contract or at the end of the contract that is called a “personal guarantee.” If you sign a contract with this provision you have agreed that you will be personally liable for the debt.  For this reason it is very important to read what you are signing BEFORE you sign it.  Many times the other party will agree to delete that provision from the contract if they want to do business with you badly enough.
  3. Keep Your Business Assets and Accounts Separate From Your Personal Accounts.  Courts will only treat a corporation as a separate entity if you yourself treat it like one.  You need to keep your books and bank accounts separate.  If you use your company bank account to buy your groceries and pay your personal bills and your company is sued, there is chance the Court could “pierce the corporate veil” and allow the person suing you to reach your personal assets.  The same is true if you use your corporation to commit a fraud.  The moral of the story is to keep separate books and make sure you use your corporate debit and credit card for true corporate expenses.

Kimberley Baer, Baer Law Office, 3835 University Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa (515)279-2000.

Introducing Michelle Swanson with InFocus


I’m happy to introduce Michelle Swanson as our guest blogger and hopefully future full-time blogger of human resource topics with the business Warriors.  Michelle is originally from Des Moines. After graduating form University of Iowa, she joined Hewitt & Associates in Chicago as a Business Analyst.  Now with InFocus Partners, she provides services in the following areas:  payroll, Employee Benefits and Human Resources Administration.  The goal is to let businesses focus on their business while leaving the back office HR details to her and the InFocus team. 

Michelle strives to grow professionally, earning the Distinguished Toastmasters Award in 2009 and graduating from the West Des Moines Leadership Academy in 2011. 

We welcome your questions and feedback to her blog.  WELCOME, Michelle!
Posted by 
Mary Anne Kennedy
Primary Source, Inc.
and The Business Warriors Promotional Products / Marketing Contributor      

Looking for Ways to Motivate Employees? Five Categories…


Thank you to Mary Anne Kennedy for inviting me to blog for The Business Warriors!  My work at InFocus partners in helping to drive small businesses decisions and maintain momentum.
Human Resources is a big part of that so I want to highlight points made by John Amato, who says there are Five Basic Ways to Keep Employees Motivated.  He suggests the following five categories:
1. Flexibility
2. Food
3. Acknowledgement
4. The Healthy Approach
5. The Environment

To dig deeper, here’s a a summary of each point….
–  Point One highlights the value of time and how creative programs with flex time can increase the value an employee feels in a company.  This is a great way to establish additional benefits to an employee benefits package.
 – Point two indicates employees like onsite and healthy food options at work.  Also, when companies are able to do so, some form of free snacks and/or beverages makes employees feel
 – Point three illustrates a phrase John Amato mentions very clearly. 
Random Acts of Kindness make a huge difference!  Typically rewards can be gift cards or paid time off, but simple words of encouragement and thanks will increase employee morale, contribution to the team and motivation for continued great work.
 – Point four discusses the significance of employers who encourage healthy lifestyles with their staff.  Offering discounts on gym memberships or possible flex-time for employees to use a gym or workout facility is a great bonus.  This helps create a balanced approach to work and life.
 – Finally, point five suggests increasing awareness of the workplace environment and its affect each day.  Not only the physical surroundings, but the social environment.  That is, employees are motivated more in transparent, open and honest organizations. 
As a result, creativity and productivity increase!

Do you have specific human resource or payroll administration questions? Please pose them to me and watch for the monthly blog topic!  If you’d like to concentrate more on your business and less time on the administration of payroll, employee benefits and HR, contact the experts at InFocus Partners!
Michelle Swanson
Infocus Partners 

Marketing Fitness – Baby Steps to Simple Success


If you are behind on your marketing strategies…no worries. Here are a few simple economical steps to improve your customer connections that you can try today.

1. Refine your print marketing to be Emarketing
No, don’t send potential leads your print version pdf of your latest brochure. Have your brochure tweaked to view professionally as a stand alone electronic piece as well. 
Here are few suggestions:
  • Brochures or flyers can have hyperlinks added to your website, ordering page and email address for easy information gathering and inquiry questions. Now you’ve just made it one step easier for your customer to do business with you.
  • Have your business card saved as a web-safe jpg and use it in your email signature.
  • Reformat the outside of your company brochure to view nicely as one page. Sometimes it is a simple as moving the cover panel to the left and shifting everything else to the right so the page reads from left to right. Here’s an example:

2. Check your branding
When is the last time you sat down and spread out all your visual marketing in one place and reviewed what your company looks like. I have done this with a couple clients and we are always surprised at the inconsistencies we find. Does your website look like the same company as your brochure? Do you use a template for your sales flyers? Keep simplicity in mind and refine each piece that your potential customers see. Have them updated to look and speak a unified message. 
3. Ask for the business
Where and do you ask for the business? This most basic strategy is easily overlooked. Here are a few “ask for the business” techniques:
  • Add a question at the end of every sale, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
  • Sending a survey to your top clients and ask for leads.
  • Send a thank you and state that you are ready to work with them again.
  • Ask to set up the next appointment at the end of your meeting.
  • Stop by and pay a friendly visit to your top clients. Sometimes some face time is the best branding a business has.
If you look at all the places where you come in contact with your customers and have those areas include inquiries for a lead or another project you will find yourself recession proof in no time. 
Simple tweeks can add a lot of value to your bottom line. What simple strategies have you used to polish your business? I’d love to hear them.
Author: Lucinda Sperry,

Warrior Spotlight: Lucinda Sperry,


Here is a little info about Business Warrior contributor Lucinda Sperry, owner of

If you are looking for a creative design and marketing business that provides professional marketing design and ideas without the agency price tag…you’ll want to get to know Lucinda Sperry is the creative drive behind the business with 20 years experience in the graphic design, publishing and marketing industries. has provided designs for logos, brochures, newsletters, newspaper/magazine ads, high-impact business cards, website design and more for over 11 years. Clients also receive print pricing services to get the absolute best price and quality for design projects.
Get to know by visiting my website  or check out the portfolio .

Lucinda Sperry
Graphic Design & Creative Marketing

Warrior Spotlight: Janis Robinson, The Robinson Equation


About Janis Robinson

Janis Robinson, business consultant and international inspirational speaker/teacher, grew up, in the USA, in Missouri in an entrepreneurial family.  She had the unique experience of attending parochial schools where she was considered too outspoken, uncontrollable and was expelled in 8th grade as a result of questioning authority too much.  Janis realized from this experience she had a skilled gift of public speaking, questions the status quo and teaching.   Janis has a BS in Nursing(Union College- Lincoln, NE) and an MBA from (University of Nebraska-Lincoln).  While pursuing her MBA she became aware of how much she enjoyed personal development and analysis of human behavior, systems, & business strategies.   Janis then began her quest to study from over 30 proclaimed experts in business, personal development, systems management and human behavior.  Janis continues to research and study in these areas to ensure she is sharing the best of the best information.  
One of Janis