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Protect Yourself from an IRS Audit, and 6 More Tips for Print Managers This Winter

Plus, why you should keep a separate card for auto-payments.




STAFF Time for Fine Whine

What do you do when a staff meeting turns into a bitch session? Roll with it – for four minutes. As Steve Errey writes on, “When I’m in a coaching session with someone, it’s pretty obvious if they’re in a bad mood. When that happens, I say to them, ‘Right. You have four minutes to Bitch, Moan, and Whine all you want. When the four minutes are up, there’s no more moaning, deal?’ Then they let rip for four minutes. Taking just a couple of minutes for a BMW (as I like to call it) can get everything right out there, everything that’s bubbling away. The key is not to pause or think; a BMW session is just getting it all out there. Often, you’ll find you run out of steam before the four minutes are up and sometimes you’ll just end up laughing.

Either way, when you’re done, you’ll feel lighter.”

FINANCE No Good Deed …

What’s the single biggest thing that prompts an IRS employer audit? According to Eva Rosenberg, author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy, it’s when a non-employee you were paying in cash is let go or gets sick, and files for unemployment or disability insurance – something millions of workers are doing this year. Maybe it was even a friend you were helping. But when they realize they need to have been formally employed to get government assistance, they will often file – and turn you in. To protect yourself, you need to be able to prove the person was an “independent contractor.” That means a Form W9 (a request for taxpayer ID), business card, or contract.

SALES Negotiate Referrals

Never be scared to ask a discount-seeking customer for a referral and use this to your advantage in negotiations, says Megan Crabtree, president of Crabtree Consulting. She suggests the phrasing: If I can get you to the price you’re requesting, can you send me a referral? “Eight times out of 10, the customer will say yes,” she says.

STAFF Don’t Hire Employees; Hire Talent

Do you think of your staff as payroll, employees, human resources, or talent? Author Seth Godin thinks you should view them as “talent,” arguing that such an understanding holds the key to success in today’s skills-based business environment. “What if you started acting like the VP of Talent? Understand that talent is hard to find and not obvious to manage,” Godin writes on his blog. “Talent is too smart to stay long at a company that wants it to be a cog in a machine. Great companies want and need talent, but they have to work for it.”

MONEY Keep a Separate Card for Autopayments

Most banks have accommodating policies for credit card theft. However, it can still be kind of a pain to cancel your card and all its automatic payments. NerdWallet writer Virginia McGuire has a solution: Designate one credit card exclusively for automated bill payments. “I now keep that credit card at home – well-hidden and protected by a burglar alarm – and carry a different credit card for daily spending,” she says. “That way, if my wallet takes a walk without me a third time, I won’t have to change the payment information on my Netflix account.”


SALES Try to Avoid “No”

People are used to getting what they want. Do whatever you have to in order not to give customers a flat “no.” At popular New York City drink spot Please Don’t Tell, staff are instructed to always try to find a way to say “no, but …” “No, we are all booked up at 8:30, unfortunately, but how about 11?” or “No, we don’t have brand X, but we have brand Y. Would you like to try it?”

WEBSITE Small, But Powerful

Does your website have a favicon? That’s the little icon that appears next to the URL in a web browser – like Facebook’s blue box with the “F.” If you haven’t set one, you might have a generic one (e.g., a globe on Google Chrome or Internet Explorer’s halo-ed “E”) or one that indicates your web host or content-management platform. Anyway, it’s a small, but noticeable, professional touch to make one specifically for your business. Create your 16 x 16-pixel square masterpiece, name it favicon.ico, and place it in your web server directory. Bam, you’re looking better already! (See our favicon at

PAST-YEAR REVIEW Go Back Through Your Calendar

Forget goal setting, says productivity blogger Tim Ferriss. Do a past-year review instead. It involves going back through your calendar, journal, or diary and highlighting what left you feeling uplifted and like you were making personal progress, as well as what floods you with negative memories. And then it’s just a matter of scheduling to do more of the former and less of the latter. The idea is to leverage the things you do well and make you feel happy. Go here for details:



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