While terms like a startup and home business are legitimate business terms, they are not as useful as you might imagine. And in some ways, they’re detrimental to the way you conduct your business. Many people use these terms as excuses to treat their employees poorly. Uber has been cut a lot of slack for atrocious behaviour because it is seen as a successful startup.
Change the terminology to a giant corporation, and one wonders how this company has not been regulated or even sued out of existence.
Even Amazon tries to get away with murder under the aegis of running like a startup.
The same type of thing is true for home businesses as well.
In the same way that smartphones are just phones, home businesses are just businesses. There is no implied excuse for poor performance.
Home business startups have to run like businesses. And even if you are not legally obligated to offer benefits with a capital B, there are many small B benefits you can afford to offer. Here are 4:
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1. Pharmacy Discount Cards
Obviously, medical benefits are not affordable for most businesses. But that doesn’t mean that you are helpless to act positively.
You can at least point them to something like the LowestMed pharmacy discount card which helps them to compare and find the lowest prices for all their medications.
You could also help employees set up an HSA, then add $5 a month into the plan to help them save for doctors visits. These are small steps that can make a big difference to people who have no health coverage at all. No one is saying you have to provide full BS/BC. But doing the little things will go over big for those who work for you.
2. Act Like a Business
Remember a home business is just a business. So do your employees the courtesy of treating it like a business by following business essentials.
Carve out a professional space to work. Put some effort into marketing. Set up a decent website. Get a business address other than your home address.
The people who work for you have forms to fill out too. They have to say what company they work for, and provide a business address. Don’t make them write down that they work for some dude out of his mother’s basement. One of the best benefits you can give your employees is to operate like a real business.
3. An Occasional Day Off
Again, it is obvious you are in no position to offer a proper vacation package. That is not the point, nor is it necessary. You don’t even have to offer paid time off. What you can do is allow people to take a day off a few times a year without giving them grief, or forcing them to explain why they needed the time.
A couple of times a year, there could be a 3-day weekend. Perhaps you can give them the option to work 10 hours a day for 4 days, instead of 8 hours a day for 5. Again, this is not a paid vacation. But it is the kind of flexibility that can feel like one.
4. Generous Spiffs
You don’t have to give your employees a $ 200-holiday bonus to make it feel like Christmas any time of the year.
All you really have to do is pay for their artisanal coffee drink from time to time in the form of a reward for good work. It does not have to have anything to do with direct sales.
It could just be for showing up at assignments in a timely manner.
There are surprisingly few companies that can afford the kinds of benefits packages enjoyed by the 1%, or even 20%. But almost every company can afford to point employees toward medical and pharmaceutical discounts, provide professionalism, make a flexible schedule, and the occasional gift card for no good reason.
At the end of the day, it is less about the benefits and more about treating the humans who work for you as an important part of your company.