Loading...

Menu
866.311.TEAM (8326)
3 Ways to Develop a Business Success Barometer

Studies show a direct correlation between goal-setting and success, and it’s easy enough to see why. Having goals gives you purpose and a sense of direction. Goals put you in the driver’s seat, allowing you to take control of your business and your future success.

But like all good things, goals that are too vague can be tricky to measure. This is unfortunate, because an objective that can’t be measured, or quantified in some way, is little more than wishful thinking — no matter how noble it may be.

Related: The Only Report You Need to Run a Successful Business

Just as important as goal-setting is developing a way to track your progress. Having barometer, so to speak, will show you how you are progressing — and how close you are to reaching your goals. Seeing your progress will also help keep you stay focused and motivated, providing that rush of energy that you need to keep at it.

In short, having a business barometer will keep you on track for success. If you have big plans for the future and need a way to quantify them, a business barometer may be just what you need. Here’s why.

1. Metrics matter.

The best metrics are the ones that allow you to see whether you’re moving towards your goals. For best results, metrics need to be implemented throughout all levels of an organization. But even for single-person enterprises, or for those who are just starting out, having a way to measure progress toward a goal isn’t just a good idea — it’s central.

“Performance metrics are a way to keep your strategic planning activities honest,” says Justin LaChance, senior vice president of financial planning and analysis at GE Capital. It’s important to identify both short-term and long-term operational goals so that you can create metrics that align with them.

2. Define success.

What does success look like? Success is different for everyone. For me it’s about being able to influence causes that I care about and taking on a mentorship role for young and hopeful entrepreneurs.

For you, success may be a financial number — a specific amount each year. That’s fine, but don’t forget about other factors that could also spell success. What about growth, scaling your company? Or publicity, dominating your industry? Take some time to develop a three-year or a five-year plan, listing a set of goals that you hope to accomplish during that time. Each of your milestones will factor in to create your own definition of success.

Related: Measure the Success of a Marketing Campaign Through the Product and the Brand

3. Create your barometer.

Once you have your goals written down, you’ll want to develop a way to measure your progress. Whenever possible, try to quantify the results you’re after with a specific measurement — time, money, or a percentage. Here are some examples of metrics that could be used for different goals.

If your goal is to dominate your industry, measure your progress by calculating your market share.

If your goal is happy customers, track customer referrals, online reviews, feedback and repeat customers.

If building brand awareness is important to you, media mentions, speaking opportunities or social media followers are all great indicators that you’re on track for success.

If you have a specific dollar amount in mind, your barometer will be financial reports: revenues, sales quotas, cash flow and burn rate. See a list of financial metrics you should be tracking.

Metrics are most telling when looked at collectively. Identify key metrics, and then look at them together to get the big picture. For example, you may decide that you want reach a specific financial benchmark in three years. In this case, you’ll want to look at revenues, sales quotas, profit and expenses collectively to get a more telling story.

Institute weekly, monthly and yearly reporting systems that you can hold yourself accountable to. Analyse the metrics, and see how well different aspects of your business are performing in relation to your goals. Over time, you’ll be able to see trends — which will show you which areas may need improvement.

Keep in mind that your definition of success will most likely change as your business continues to grow. Don’t be afraid to pivot from your original version of success, to set new goals, develop new plans — and then readjust your business barometer accordingly.

Remember, the old adage is true: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Having goals and a system for measuring your progress is important. It’s the best way that I know to make things happen, and the only way to ensure that you’ll end up where you want to be.

How do you quantify and measure your goals?

By: Brenton Hayden

Want to inspire action? An effective way to do that is to speak publicly. Because, when you present from a stage, you’re the expert. And from that vantage point, you just might change the way people see the world.

Related: 10 Tips to Beat Your Fear of Public Speaking

I interviewed Michael Port, New York Times bestselling author, most recently of Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches: How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life. Based on his remarks, I’ve summed up 10 lessons Port offers that you can apply immediately to your own next presentation:

1. View public speaking as a performance.

Performers don’t steal the spotlight of other speakers. They turn speeches into experiences that are remarkable. So, see yourself as a performer. Treat every speech and presentation as a performance. And make sure all your performances are authentic. If the performance is not authentic, you won’t be invited back.

2. Build trust first.

Have you seen speakers who try to make a dramatic impact at the beginning of their talks? For a presentation about investing, imagine starting with, “Raise your hand if you’re in debt.” But, trouble is, the audience doesn’t know you. How can you expect your listeners to tell the truth?

Now, consider this: Before asking the world to embrace the idea that all people are born equal, the Rev. Martin Luther King first earned their trust. Of this approach, he would later say, “To change how people see the world, build trust first.”

3. Have a big idea.

Your big idea doesn’t have to be different. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Focus on sharing your idea and connecting with the audience. When you connect, you create impact.

4. Make a promise.

Your promise supports the big idea. Port’s big idea is that, “All speaking is about performance.” He typically promises his audience, “I can make you a better speaker, guaranteed!” and gets people’s attention immediately. You, too, should have a big idea and promise, so your audience will be interested in what you say.

Related: 3 Steps to Your ‘Unfair Speaking Advantage’

5. Pain before gain.

When you introduce the benefits of what you have to say, first, people will think, “Great but impossible.” So, instead, “build pain” to first scare the audience. Show the consequences of not taking action on your big idea. Then share the rewards of adopting that big idea and achieving the promise. Your audience will be more likely to take action.

6. Organize with frameworks.

A clear structure helps you remember what to say, and helps the audience understand what you say. Choose one of these five frameworks for your next talk:

Numerical. This framework is easy to use, and flexible. Stephen Covey organized his presentation according to his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When he had 60 minutes, he could cover all habits. When he had only 20, he might cover three points.

Chronological. Your step-by-step process should go in a particular order, to make it easy to follow.

Problem and solution. Audience members want you to solve their problems. For example, you might point out that many people are nervous about speaking in front of groups. Then share how to overcome that same fear of public speaking.

Compare and contrast. If you have two different concepts, use them both. Jim Collins structured his presentation, “Good to Great” by comparing and contrasting the pros and cons.

Modular: This framework works particularly well in full-day workshops and events. In his live event, Port might divide the day into three modules: performer’s mindset, principles and public speaking master class.

7. Create a great experience.

Marketing expert Scott Stratten focuses on making an extraordinary experience for the audience. He makes sure people learn and have a great time. Similarly, make your own presentation enjoyable. People will learn more effectively.

8. Have fun.

To help people have a great time, you need to have a great time. When we focus on ourselves, we turn the audience off. Meanwhile, it’s okay to make mistakes. As someone who once fell off a stage and knocked over the light, Port says, “The audience will forgive you if you’re trying to serve them.”

Focus on the audience. You’ll feel less nervous and more confident.

9. Borrow techniques from another industry.

Most speakers copy what other speakers do. Result: They sound the same. Port takes a different approach: He brings acting and performance techniques into the world of public speaking, and this approach helps him stand out.

So, go to other industries, and find out what is new that you can bring into speaking.

10. Public speaking is becoming more important.

As more people communicate online, the question is, will public speaking go out of style? Absolutely . . . not.

Public speaking is becoming more important because people expect you to be able to perform in all contexts, including online. On Skype, you’re performing. On a webinar, you’re performing. In a YouTube video, you’re performing. When speaking in public, then, see yourself as a performer. Build trust with the audience.

Have a big idea and promise. Introduce pain first. Use frameworks to organize your presentation. Create a great experience. And apply techniques from other industries. Most importantly, have fun.

By: Jonathan Li

Sometimes, I’m selfish. I do things for my own needs, not yours. Sorry.

Today is such a day. I’m not writing this post for you. Sure, you might get some benefit from reading it, but I’m really not writing it for you. I’m writing it for me. Because I’m annoying.

Yes, I said it. I’m annoying to other people. I do things that irritate those around me — probably a lot. After all, I am an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs are some of the most irritating people on earth.

This post is to remind myself of my annoying quirks so I can avoid being pushed off a cliff by those around me. Confession is the first step toward remediation, so without further ado, I give you the five most annoying habits of entrepreneurs (myself included!)

1. Constantly talking about how busy they are

I haven’t slept in three weeks with all the work I’ve been doing on the new product. I’m just so busy these days!

Look, we get it. You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy.

Related: 6 Insufferably Bad Work Habits and How to Treat Them (Infographic)

Let’s stop using that as some sort of “badge of accomplishment.” Entrepreneurs often try to use their “busyness” as a way to show that they are successful, or at least on the path there. If you get a few entrepreneurs in a room at the same time, it quickly turns into a one-up contest on how busy they really are. Entrepreneurs believe, falsely, that he or she who is the busiest, wins.

The truth, however, is that busyness and success have very little correlation. In fact, I’m more impressed by the entrepreneur who isn’t running around “crazy busy” but still can accomplish what matters in their business and home lives.

2. Humble bragging

I’m so exhausted from all the press coverage our site has been getting lately. I sometimes miss the days when no one knew who we were.

Please, stop.

Humble bragging is the art of stating a self-depreciating comment about yourself designed to actually show how great you are. It’s worse than bragging because it’s wrapped in a lie.

An entrepreneur must be confident in their business and bragging comes with the territory. I get that. It’s not a bad thing. But let’s not patronize others through the humble brag!

3. Job shaming

I don’t understand how anyone could work a day job. You can never be free working for someone else.

Entrepreneurs often believe that their way is the best way. Yes, entrepreneurship can be amazing, but so can working for a great company or doing work you love, even if that means working for “the man.” Some people simply love to teach math. Some people love to fight fires. Some people love to build companies without being the head person with a noose around their neck.

If you are an entrepreneur, understand that your journey is but one path, not the only path.

My unique position is that I am an entrepreneur in my real-estate investing business, but I also work for a larger company (BiggerPockets.com) because I want to. I could do just real-estate investing, forging my own path, and I’m sure I’d be happy and successful. However, I love being a part of a company that is having the kind of impact that BiggerPockets is, being able to work with some of my best friends on a project that has the potential of being a billion-dollar company.

For more on the benefits of working a full-time job, read 5 Reasons Why I Quit My Own Business to Work for Someone Else.

Related: 7 Healthy Habits That Maximize Your Productivity Every Day

4. Canceling plans at the last minute

Hey, something came up at the office and I’m going to have to postpone our coffee meeting. Rain check?

I’m sure you’ve seen the quote around the web that says, “Entrepreneurs are people who work 100 hours per week so they don’t have to work 40 for someone else.” I think a better description would be “Entrepreneurs are people who commit to 100 hours of work that they try to fit into 40.”

Last-minute cancelations happen with everyone. But with entrepreneurs, they happen all the time. The reason is typically too much commitments due to an inability to say no combined with overzealous optimism. If you don’t want to do something: don’t say yes. If you say you are going to do something: do it.

“Rain checks” belong at the grocery store, not in your calendar.

5. #FirstWorldProblems

I’m just so irritated! How could our profits drop 3 percent this month? I hate my life!

Entrepreneurs tend to complain, a lot. Then they let that complaining wreck their entire day, week and “entire life.” Their numbers drop a bit, and their attitudes change significantly.

The payment processor went down for 12 minutes.
The customers aren’t coming in as often as they did last week.
The competition is releasing a new product that stole their ideas.

Yes, these situations can be detrimental to an entrepreneur’s business, but let’s be honest: these are generally first-world problems!

There are billions of people on earth unsure of where their next meal is coming from. War is ravaging a good portion of the population on this planet. According to Unwater.org, “783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.”

Still think your server issues are worth dominating every conversation with? Is your life really that bad? It’s time to put things into perspective and stop agonizing about our #FirstWorldProblems!

As I said in the beginning, this column was written for me.

These are the things I know I do to others and must work to change. These are also the irritating traits I see in other entrepreneurs all the time. We’re all cut from the same cloth.

If you’ve seen any of these five annoying traits pop up in your own life, I encourage you to enter confession with me and share this post on your Facebook wall. Admit your faults to your family and friends, laugh about your annoying traits and move on a better, less irritating, person.

Finally, if you have any other annoying traits you notice in entrepreneurs (or yourself) share them in the comments section below. We’ll have a laugh about them together.

By: Brandon Turner

I was slightly reluctant to write a piece about the common characteristics of excellent entrepreneurs. Despite having strong opinions on the matter, most times, for obvious reasons, these pieces do not include enough data points to support the conclusions that are made by the writer. However, I truly do believe that it’s important for budding entrepreneurs to understand what will be required of them to successfully start a business. And even for existing entrepreneurs, I hope this piece may provide some insight into the things that you want (and need) to focus on in leadership.

1. Great entrepreneurs blend vision with execution.

We tend to think of successful entrepreneurs as big-picture people and visionaries. This may be true, in some cases, but the best ones I’ve worked with can blend their “vision” with the ability to get things done. In fact, I’d even advise aspiring entrepreneurs to avoid spending too much time on developing business ideas. Most ideas are going to have to be heavily revised when you get out to market. Successful entrepreneurs are highly goal oriented, blending their big-picture strategy with a laser focus on execution and results.

2. They have an ability to find backdoors.

Good entrepreneurs tend to be skilled problem solvers and analytical, but they also approach problems in a creative fashion. The very good entrepreneurs that I have met are not trying to be eccentric or unconventional; they simply tend to think a little bit differently and creatively. Without question, there’s a “cult of the entrepreneur” in this country. Part of this involves assigning an almost mystic quality to individuals who start successful companies from scratch. I’m very reluctant to do this. Successful entrepreneurs are not sages or mystics. They are resourceful and creative folks who burrow a little bit further and try different angles than other people. They tend to be good at finding backdoors and keys to locks that other people don’t see.

Related: One Bad Apple Can Ruin the Barrel

3. They’re willing to work the long hours.

Facebook went from an idea in a dorm room to a billion dollar company in a flash. That is the exception not the rule. The truth is that the task of building a successful business is a thankless and grueling one. The hours are intense. The rate of success is relatively low. It takes a long time to generate momentum. The amount of work involved is unfathomable for those who haven’t tried it yet. I don’t mean to trivialize the success of great American entrepreneurial stories like Facebook. But the story behind entrepreneurial success seldom resembles “The Social Network.” It’s probably closer to “All at Sea.”

4. They can either sell or build.

Good entrepreneurs tend to fall into one of two buckets: those who sell stuff or those who can build great products. Some of them, a rare breed, can do both. Companies live or die on the strength of their products and their ability to market and sell those products. To successfully lead a company, you have to be able to drive at least one of those pillars. Steve Jobs was a good communicator, but his skill lay in products. Even though Bill Gates had technical expertise, he was actually a sales and marketing specialist. Scott Cook at Intuit is a product entrepreneur. Donald Trump is a sales entrepreneur (among other things).

Related: Work-Life Balance Is a Myth

5. They can reduce complicated data into something manageable and actionable.

Even extremely complex business problems usually reduce down to three or four important components. Good entrepreneurs are able to identify the few key factors that are important to a decision or a business. Shark Tank is an entertainment show, without question. But notice how the judges on the show (all of whom are successful entrepreneurs) really know what they are talking about. They rapidly get to the success or failure points of the business almost every time. Regardless of the industry or product, they can almost immediately home in on the two or three key points that the business’ success depends upon.

6. They are very effective with people.

As Americans, we tend to admire people who are out on the edge a little bit. At the risk of getting too philosophical, I think this goes back to the founding of our country by revolutionaries. We tend to admire people who represent fringe elements, even while we may criticize them. Entrepreneurs fall into this category. The popular media representations would make you believe that entrepreneurs are successful in spite of, or because of, their antisocial, “outlaw” tendencies. This results in an inaccurate portrayal of the entrepreneur as a loner or malcontent. Let’s briefly dissect this. Growing a business is a matter of getting people to work together; the probability of being able to build a business, without working well with others, is very, very low. This does not mean to say that good entrepreneurs, like the rest of us, do not have personal foibles, because they do. However, if you look a little bit more closely, it is obvious that the truly great entrepreneurs are very effective with people, or else they would not have achieved the same level of success.

By: Brian Hamilton

Moving is one of those things that everyone warns you about and corporate relocation takes the headache to a whole new level. Moving may seem simple enough, especially if you hire movers, but there are actually quite a few things to keep in mind if you want things to run smoothly. It’s a good strategy to use other people’s pitfalls to make sure you’re asking the right questions and making the right choices.

You see where this is going. I own a marketing company, and we made quite a few mistakes during our corporate relocation this summer. Read about 10 of them here so you can avoid them when you move yourself.

1. Not reading a moving company’s reviews.

When preparing to move, many people will search online for local moving companies, take a look at the website, talk with someone on the phone and set up a moving date. Unfortunately, this won’t let you know whether or not a moving company is actually reputable. Scams are incredibly prevalent in the moving industry, so reading online reviews is an absolute must. Remember that Yelp isn’t just for restaurants, and Google reviews are something to be taken seriously.

2. Not hiring a moving company.

On the flip side too many people take a “wing-it” approach, figuring they can “probably” move themselves. If you have your employees move their own things and then ask for volunteers to help move the rest, the thinking goes, how hard can it really be? While moving may not seem so difficult before you attempt to pick up your desk and move it down the stairs, maneuvering furniture is incredibly tricky and potentially dangerous. The very last thing you want is anyone to get hurt on your watch.

If you need your office moved smoothly by a certain date, consider opting for a moving service that specializes in corporate relocation—Allied Van Lines features custom tailored packages for “lump sum” corporate moving, while North American Moving Services and similar movers feature full-service packages that cater specifically to corporate moves.

Related: 5 Tips for Creating an Appealing and Memorable Brand

3. Putting too many heavy things in one box.

This is an obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s a common mistake. While it may seem like a good strategy to pack all of your books and papers into one box to keep them organized, this can end badly for obvious reasons (namely, the box will get incredibly heavy incredibly quickly, and could lead to injuries).

4. Moving every single item you own.

There’s nothing worse than moving into your new office space with lots of things that you don’t want or need. Use the move as an opportunity to clean out your office and maybe even make some extra cash by selling larger items on sites such as Craigslist. If the satisfaction of purging your extra junk isn’t enough, consider the fact that it will likely be cheaper to move fewer things because you can hire a smaller truck.

5. Not insuring your valuables.

Insuring all of your valuables in case they break or get lost during the relocation process is important if you want a smooth move. You can get insurance through your moving company (highly recommended) or even insure your things on your own if you’re not going to hire a moving company. Pay special attention to the type of insurance you’re getting — most moving companies offer between three to six different types of coverage, from full service (everything to moving company loads, moves or stores is covered) to truck rental (coverage only extends to the transit period of the move). If you’re hiring a moving company, there is often a lot of fine print, so don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure you’re getting the insurance that’s right for you.

It’s also worth noting that some of your smaller valuables, such as a printers and laptops, are things that you can move yourself without the help of a moving company. Chances are these valuables will not break, but they can be easily lost or stolen.

6. Moving during rush hour or bad weather.

Think about timing beforehand. Moving companies often charge based on the amount of time it takes to make the move, and this rate can sometimes double or even triple during rush hour.

As far as the weather goes, it’s true that it isn’t entirely in your control. If it’s going to rain, it’s going to rain. Pay attention to the weather forecast and plan ahead, though: take out umbrellas and start putting down tarps in advance if looks like it will rain on your moving day.

Related: Should You Let Your Employees Telecommute?

Whenever possible, minimize weather risks. The easiest way to do this is to move in the summer months as opposed to the winter ones.

7. Moving too close to your move-out date.

When you’re moving, it’s a good idea to be prepared for something to go wrong. With that in mind, make sure you have plenty of time between when you’re moving out and when the new people are moving into your office space. The last thing you want is to be in a rush or not have everything moved before the new tenants arrive with their stuff. If that happens, you could get charged for not being out by the time you said you would be gone.

8. Not getting price estimates before making a decision.

Always shop around before committing to a moving company. Looking at reviews is crucial, but chances are you’ll find multiple companies with good reviews. Asking for a price quote can sometimes get you a better deal then if you were to simply book online, so make the call. It could save you a substantial amount of money.

9. Forgetting to “move” your website.

This is a bit unconventional, but it’s something I wish I’d known before I moved. We decided to move first and deal with everything later because things were so hectic, but the sooner you change your online presence to represent your new offline location the better. Local SEO success requires that your business maintains a consistent presence across the web, which means having multiple listed addresses and phone numbers will hurt you on search. Make these changes before you move so that when you get to your new location, you’re ready to go. You can learn more about how to make this happen here.

10. If you move on your own: not spending the extra money on moving tools.

If you do ultimately decide to order a truck but not hire movers, you’ll have the opportunity to rent moving blankets, a moving dolly and more moving tools. If you’re taking the “wing-it” mentality towards moving, you may think that you don’t need this equipment, but that can be a huge mistake. Again without proper planning, moving can cause serious injury not to mention major headaches. So pay for the tools in order to be safe. It’s worth the money in the end.
The takeaway.

In the end, when it comes to corporate relocation you have to expect that something will go wrong. Nothing is perfect — you just want to make sure that your valuables are insured and moved as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can move on to other things.

Do you have any moving traps or pitfalls that you wish you’d known before your corporate relocation move? Any personal moving stories? Let us know in the comment section below.

By: Scott Langdon

By John Boitnott

An old adage wants us to believe that “clothes make the man.” The implication here is that we should strive to dress formally and professionally. However, in recent years the wardrobes of many successful men and women have leaned toward casual. A billionaire tech company CEO is more likely to be seen in jeans and a t-shirt than a business suit. In fact, in later years, Steve Jobs was rarely photographed wearing anything dressier than casual clothes and sneakers. The result was a more warm, approachable image that let the world know his first priority was business.

For great minds like Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Einstein, wardrobe choices have more to do with time and energy than comfort. Like many other brilliant people throughout history, these men simply didn’t waste space in their brains for clothing. Wherever you are in your career, scaling down your outfit can help you in a variety of ways.

1. Save mental energy.

While he doesn’t wear the same outfit every day, President Barack Obama chooses to wear only gray or blue suits in order to “pare down decisions.” When you spend 10 minutes trying to choose between the outfits crammed into your closet, you waste 10 minutes that you could have put toward decisions about your business. The effort may also distract you from a productive train of thought about your newest project or a presentation you’ll be giving later in the day.

2. Save time.

A full wardrobe requires spending time shopping, in addition to the time you waste pairing shirts and pants each day. Even if you have a favorite store, you’ll likely need to spend an extensive amount of time each year browsing racks and trying on clothes to find the right look.

When you settle on a top and bottom that fits well and looks good, you don’t have to return to that retailer until your existing wardrobe begins to wear out.

3. Free up closet space.

Organization experts say the average person wears only 20 percent of his or her wardrobe. If that describes your own closet, you’re likely dealing with wasted space that could be put to something else. Purchase enough of your “personal uniform” to get you through several days without washing and use the extra space as storage.

4. It becomes your signature.

People often think of hoodies and jeans when they picture Zuckerberg. Jobs was known for his mock turtlenecks and jeans. You can establish your own look that will become your signature, setting you apart from the many others in your field.

Your look doesn’t have to be completely casual. You could opt for button-down Oxfords and khakis or golf shirts and jeans. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s versatile enough to move from the boardroom to late nights at the office. You may even want to keep a dressier outfit around for special presentations where professional attire is expected.

5. Save money.

If you’re building a business, you’ll likely need to put every dime toward supporting its growth. This means every dime you save on clothing is money you have to put into your business. Wherever you are in your career, you can always use a few extra dollars each year. A full wardrobe costs money and if you aren’t wearing the vast majority of the clothing you buy, most of that money is wasted.

There’s a reason very successful people choose to limit their wardrobes. You don’t have to wear the same outfit every day to save time, money, and mental energy. You can purchase a few simple items that can be easily paired with other items in your wardrobe to keep you from spending much time matching every day. The result will be a streamlined process that allows you to get ready to work more quickly every morning.

Photo by: foto76 (freedigitalphoto.net)

by John Boitnott

Like it or not, alcohol is part of socializing. At both personal and professional gatherings, people have grown accustomed to using a favorite alcoholic beverage to break the tension and relax. Some offices have even started sending bar carts around for employees who are working late, especially on Fridays.

However, as popular as it might be, there are potential issues connected to providing alcohol to employees including some that might involve lawyers. Others may put your client relationships and work output quantity and quality at risk. Before you take that next sip of alcohol on work time, here are a few things you should consider.

Drinking in the office.

Shows like Mad Men feature liquor cabinets as part of the executive office. It still persists in some of those places. But over the years, liquor has been mostly phased out of the conference room, leading to a work world where alcohol is seldom seen in the office. As businesses, especially startups, attempt to provide amenities to hard-working employees, however, alcohol is gradually making its way back into the office environment, but is it a wise idea?

There are a couple of issues attached to allowing alcohol in the office environment, whether during or after work. The biggest issue is employer liability, since the employee could leave work inebriated and injure someone or cause an altercation. Additionally, in-office drinking could lead to a case of sexual harassment or aggressive behavior toward co-workers, introducing an HR nightmare.

Added to this risk is the fact that intoxicated employees will sometimes continue to send emails or answer phone calls after having a few drinks, leading to errors that could cost a business valued clients.

Office parties.

Employers have long enjoyed throwing an occasional office party, allowing employees to socialize outside of the often-serious work environment. Office parties can be a great way to build a team, since workers will have a personal connection. Over the recent Halloween weekend there were many office costume parties around the country that illustrate this. They generally included alcohol. Drinking seems to naturally flow at these events, whether they’re held at the office, the home of the boss or another employee or at a restaurant, bar or event venue.

Wherever the event is held, the employer could be subject to social host liability, where the host is held responsible for something that happens as a result of serving alcohol at an event. To reduce liability, an employer should emphasize that attendance is voluntary and make sure licensed bartenders and servers are handling alcohol distribution. They are generally trained to recognize and handle a person who has had too much to drink.

Drinking with clients.

Client events involving alcohol can be especially tricky, since a professional can often feel pressured to drink alcohol when the client is drinking it. If an employee gets in an accident as a result of a client meeting, the employer could be held responsible if that employee was encouraged to drink as a part of winning clients.

Employers should avoid encouraging employees to drink in any way to reduce its own risk. Even if an employee was never told to drink as part of a client meeting, the employer could be held responsible if the employee states he only did so because he felt it was necessary to win the account. However, an employer can only be held responsible for behavior that is performed as part of the scope of employment. That means if an employee drinks excessively on his own accord during a client event, the employer may not be viewed as liable.

When an employee’s alcohol consumption can be tied directly to the scope of his work, the employer may be liable, especially if it can be proven that the employer made it a condition of work. To protect themselves, business owners should make sure any event involving alcohol is optional and licensed bartenders and servers are on hand to monitor alcohol consumption.