As a small business owner, should you turn your back on an employee who is stealing office supplies? How do you address it? Join hosts Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks as they discuss this hot topic, and how to manage your own work hours as a business owner on this episode of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast.


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Elizabeth: Hey, everyone, welcome back to another episode.

Gene: Hey, guys. That sounds so funny. Hi.

Elizabeth: Hey, guys.

Gene: You know it’s funny, I follow on Snapchat … I’m going to admit this to everybody, as a 52-year-old man I’m admitting this publicly, I do follow Kim Kardashian …

Elizabeth: I knew you were going to say that.

Gene: … And Khloe Kardashian on Snapchat. I know that sounds incredibly creepy, and I guess it is. My wife also follows them as well. I’m a huge fan of hers, and I’m fascinated by their lives. You just reminded me, what Kim Kardashian does on Snapchat, and Khloe does, that people send them products. She’ll be like, “Hey guys, look at all this great new cosmetics I got from this company,” or like, “Hey, everybody.” That’s the way she talks on Snapchat, it’s very funny.

Elizabeth: This is a big topic. We should talk about this some other time, but there’s a huge industry out there of influencers who influence their marketing. If you do have a product, and you want to do some research.

Gene: If you want Kendall Jenner, Kim’s younger sister, to send a tweet, I read it’s $150,000.

Elizabeth: That’s crazy.

Gene: You’re in the wrong job, that’s all I can say. So am I. Isn’t that amazing? That’s what they charge, one tweet.

Elizabeth: There are a lot of influencers, mostly fashion bloggers on Snapchat, who if you send them … I don’t think you have to pay them for this. They will go through and open the boxes, and boxes, and boxes of products they get every day and just be like, “Oh, isn’t that cute. I got another pair of shoes from J.Crew.”

Gene: You have to pay them for that? Really? They’ll do it for free?

Elizabeth: I don’t know. I think they do that for free.

Gene: I would think they get paid for it.

Elizabeth: I guess I’m just really naïve.

Gene: Yeah, that’s naïve. Why else would they do it, I’m sure they’re going to get paid.

Elizabeth: I thought the Kardashians always said, “Hey, dolls.”

Gene: No, I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: “Hey, guys.”

Gene: Kim hasn’t called me in a long time. It’s more like, “Hey guys, Hey everybody, look at this really cool …” Their Snapchats are great. What’s also cool on Kim’s Snapchat … By the way, she stopped doing them for a while after the whole incident in Paris when she was tied up and all that. Before that she would be snapping backstage at Kanye’s concert and stuff, and it’s cool. It’s fun.

Elizabeth: It is cool.

Gene: I think it’s really fun.

Elizabeth: Question for you.

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: Do you ever scroll through your phone at night when you’re getting ready to go to bed?

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: Have you heard about blue light?

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: Just for the record, listeners, I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to be one. Apparently the blue light admitted by all our electronic devices …

Gene: This I have not heard, go ahead.

Elizabeth: … kind of simulates sunshine, which you’re not supposed to see at night. As soon as it gets dark out, your body’s supposed to be winding down. I purchased a pair of glasses on Amazon because I’m, again, really naïve and I just am like, “Oh, that’ll help, I’ll buy that.” They were eight bucks. They’re so ugly. I walk around with these orange glasses on. As soon as it turns 9:00 I put my glasses on to watch TV, look at my phone. I have to say-

Gene: Hold on, wait. Step back. Are these prescription glasses?

Elizabeth: No.

Gene: You’re walking around the house after 9:00 with these orange ugly glasses. Every night you’re walking around.

Elizabeth: Yes.

Gene: Only because they limited the blue light.

Elizabeth: They limit the blue light. I think it’s, when you have blue light your body doesn’t produce melatonin, which you need to go to sleep.

Gene: Guys, I want you to know right now, this is Gene talking, my co-host is a lunatic. She’s going insane. She spent $8 on a pair of glasses to limit …

Elizabeth: The blue light.

Gene: … the blue light, yeah. She wears them around her house at night. That’s insane.

Elizabeth: You know what, guys, I’m an early adopter. You’re all going to be hearing about this soon. There was recently an article in the New York Times about this. Anyway, it blocks the blue light. Then when you go to bed and you try to go to sleep, you fall asleep easier and you stay asleep longer. I have to say, I’ve been using them for about three weeks, it has worked. I don’t have sleeping problems, so it’s just made my sleep even that much better. I’m going to link to those in the show notes and you can try them out. If you’re a business owner, you’re busy, you’re feeling frazzled and stressed, the best thing you can do for yourself is get a good night’s sleep.

Gene: Yes, that’s true.

Elizabeth: I know all business owners are sitting there right before they turn the light out, the last thing they do is scroll through and check their emails.

Gene: This is also true.

Elizabeth: You can just slip your orange glasses on.

Gene: That’s not going to happen, but what I’ll try and do is limit the amount of viewing of my emails before I go to bed.

Elizabeth: There was actually a Freakonomics podcast about this. I’m going to link to that too, I think you’d enjoy it. We’re going to be right back with our first question about an employee who’s sealing Post-It Notes, I bet Gene’s going to love this one, after we hear from our sponsor.

QUESTION #1: Employee Theft

We’re back, our question is from Hayam in Port Charlotte, Florida. We have a lot of Florida listeners, including your mom.

Gene: That’s right. My mom again, go ahead.

Elizabeth: He writes, “I’ve noticed one of my employees stealing Post-It Notes. Honestly, I’m angrier about the cliché than the theft. Should I address it, and if so, how?” Gene, I am just going to let you answer this one.

Gene: Stealing is stealing. You shouldn’t be stealing anything. Everybody in the world steals office supplies from whatever company, that is just going to happen. It depends on this employee. Maybe that’s your reason to fire the employee because the employee is terrible in other parts of their job. Maybe they’re helping you by giving you that reason, because they’re stealing from the company. If the employee is a decent, competent employee, or a good employee, and they happen to have a thing for stealing Post-It Notes for whatever they’re using it for, the very least that I would do is make note that I know. Like saying, “You know, hey, you know, John, I, you know what’s going on with the Post-It Notes? I notice that you’ve been taking them home. Is there …” I would kind of make a joke of it, but I would make it at the same point like, “I see that you’re taking these Post-It Notes,” and leave it at that. It ain’t to run your business or not.

Elizabeth: I feel like if he wasn’t trying to get rid of this employee, it wouldn’t bother him.

Gene: Clearly it’s an employee that annoys him. By the way, when you run a company, even a company my size with 10 people, everybody’s not going to be your favorite person.

Elizabeth: Not everyone can be your Corey.

Gene: Not everyone can be my Corey, that’s exactly right. There are oftentimes people that are in your company where you’re like, “Yeah, I don’t like this one. Like, I’m not crazy about them.” But they show up to work every day, they do a good job, they do their thing. I don’t expect to be best friends with everybody in my company just because they work for my company. If this guy annoys you but he still is a good worker or whatever, I wouldn’t let your emotions get involved, then say, “Oh, this is it! The Post-It Notes. This guy is getting on my nerves, and now I hear he’s stealing Post-It Notes, he’s out of here.” If he’s a productive employee you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. Meanwhile, if he’s a lousy employee and this is one a few things that he’s doing, you can use it as ammunition against him.

Elizabeth: I have to say, I hate Post-It Notes. I like the idea, but then when you walk by someone’s computer … Our producer Mike Kelly is like this. He just has a million Post-It Notes.

Gene: That guy is unreal, what a mess.

Elizabeth: Mike Kelly is the one who got me into the orange glasses, too.

Gene: Is he wearing them at home as well?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: For goodness sake. I’ve got to talk to him when we’re gone. Oh my goodness.

Elizabeth: Maybe we’ll put some selfies of us wearing our orange glasses up on the show notes.

Gene: That I would like to see, so that we can mark them up and make fun.

Elizabeth: They’re so unattractive.

Gene: As for Post-It Notes, I guess people still use Post-Its. I never use them. Everything I do, I take notes online.

Elizabeth: Take notes online, or I have one notebook that I use.

Gene: I have a notebook as well.

Elizabeth: If I start using different notebooks, forget it. Things will be all over the place. I know people are really committed to Post-It Notes.

Gene: The Post-It Notes issue is that it’s an overriding. If I could just make sure I also say office supplies, I said this earlier, they get stolen by employees. It happens to every single company. It’s almost like this rite of passage. Employees just feel like it’s an extra bit of compensation, take home a few pens. It just is what it is. You’ve got to make the choice if you’re going to a curmudgeon about it or not.

Elizabeth: Agreed.

Gene: Again, if somebody is stepping over the line a little bit, assuming they’re a decent employee but they’re taking too many Post-It Notes home, you got to make them aware that you know it and hopefully they’ll be smart enough to know to cut it out or limit it.

Elizabeth: We’ll be right back with question two about working evening hours instead of a nine to five schedule, after we hear from our sponsor.

QUESTION #2: Work Schedules

We’re back. This next question is from Esther in Bowling Green. Esther writes, “I run a small consultancy and find that I’m much more productive in the evenings. Do I need to stick to a nine to five schedule on days when my employees work from home?”

Gene: What do you think?

Elizabeth: I feel like, don’t most business owners just work 12 hours a day anyway? If your employees are going to be asking you questions … Basically as a business owner, you are the decision maker.

Gene: It’s your company.

Elizabeth: You’re making the decisions. I don’t think you can blow your employees off.

Gene: You hit it right on the head. It’s your thing, man, it’s your business. You want to work just in the evenings and not work during the days even though your employees are working during the days, go ahead, suit yourself. I wouldn’t do that if I knew that my people were working during the day, and they had questions. By the way, the rest of the world is working during the day even though you like to work in the evenings. I would be accommodating that and changing my schedule. It’s my business.

The other thing is I also think, when I talk about my people as well as my customers, I’m there to serve them. I want my people to do the best job possible so they could make me money. Whatever I can do to help them do their best job possible, I want to do because it serves me. If that means I need to be available during the day because they have questions or issues come up, and if they don’t get answered on time it’s going to cost me money, that’s not in my best interests.

Elizabeth: I can see maybe you work in the morning, in the afternoon you have some errands to run or something for a couple hours, but you have your phone with you. You’re checking your email, you’re available. Maybe in the evening, that’s when you do your deep thinking tasks. You do your goal setting, your projections, your planning when no one’s around, no one’s going to bother you. Although, I’m assuming that if you run a consulting business, clients are probably bothering you all the time.

Gene: In my business, as you know, I travel a lot and I’m kind of always running around. A lot of business owners I know are the same. I never have an out-of-office message on my phone. My people, mainly because everybody’s out spread around at jobs and projects, nobody knows when I’m off the clock or on the clock, they just assume I’m on the clock. I have this thing, it’s called a smart phone. I get my emails on it throughout the day, and I respond and stay current. This whole work hours thing is kind of old school. You choose the hours that most suit the profitability of your business.

Elizabeth: We’ll be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

Gene: Yes.


Elizabeth: We’re back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

Gene: I have a word for you today, and that word is recruiting. The reason why I bring up the word recruiting is recently Facebook has announced a big competitive service to go against LinkedIn, and it’s for jobs. It’s called Facebook Recruiting, and what it does is there are new tools so that if you have a company page on Facebook now, you can actually list jobs that are available on Facebook. A lot of people are on Facebook coming and visiting your page, looking for jobs, searching around. 58% of people that are searching for jobs nowadays are searching on social media.

Before, and really right now, LinkedIn is the dominant place. If you’re looking for a job, you’re going on LinkedIn and looking around and that’s good. LinkedIn is nothing more than a database of resumes, isn’t it, when you think about it. LinkedIn has profited off of that, they built a whole line of business for businesses to use to recruit employees and also for employees to apply for jobs. Now Facebook’s getting into it. There are 50 million small business pages on Facebook, and two billion users on Facebook. It is a huge, huge place, and a big place where my small business clients are. Now, if you’re a small business, if you’re active on Facebook, and your customers are there, and your employees are there, now you can actually list jobs in your company there as well. If people reply to those jobs and you can message them, communicate with them about any job opportunities there. I think it’s a big thing for a lot of businesses.

Elizabeth: That’s great. You got to go where people are, and they’re on Facebook.

Gene: They’re on Facebook. You just look for Facebook jobs, Facebook Recruiting tools, and you’ll see a whole bunch of cool stuff that’s available for you to use.

Elizabeth: That’s going to do it for this week, and we’ll be back next week with another episode of the Small Biz Ahead podcast. Recorded, yay.