Month in Review: August 2021


We started off August with steps to an effective SEO content strategy and ended it with a call for MYB writers. Take a look at some of our favorite content on the blog in August.

How to Build an Effective SEO Content Strategy in 4 Steps
If content is king, then an SEO content strategy is your ace-in-the-hole. From identifying your target audience to actually sitting down to create content, check out these four simple steps to creating an effective SEO strategy to get your small business noticed.

What Every Small Business Needs to Know About Onboarding New Employees
In July, we discussed the increased frequency of workforce turnover as a result of the pandemic, and how to tell if an employee might be quitting. In August, we encourage you to take a careful look at your onboarding process. Check out our tips for effective onboarding to ensure that your new hires feel at home at your small business, and to help your retention rate outshine your turnover rate.

How to Work With a Recruiter
Recruiters can really help your business grow and flourish—but they are not one-size-fits-all. It's important to find a recruiter who is the right fit for you and your business. This article is bursting at the seams with effective tips, questions to ask, topics to cover and more when it comes to working with a recruiter.

Become an MYB Blog Contributor: Share Your Expertise, Promote Your Business
The response we received from this call for writers has been amazing! We are looking forward to showcasing new writers in the months to come. But we still have room for you!

Do you consider yourself an expert in your field? Would you like a free way to promote your business? We are looking for a few good COSE members to write for the Mind Your Business blog. Your articles will be featured on our website, in this newsletter and on social media. No blog writing experience required!
Here are some of our top-performing articles from this year—this could be you! 
Maintaining Culture and Connection in a Virtual World by Erin Longmoon, Zephyr Recruiting
How to Set Up an Effective SEO Content Strategy in Four Steps by Nachum Langsner, LocalBizGuru
How to Tell if an Employee Might be Quitting by Tim Dimoff, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services
If you are interested, please contact Marie Zickefoose to find out more.

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  • Next up: Month in Review: March 2021

    Month in Review: March 2021


    With winter behind us, and warmer weather and vaccines on the horizon, we are excited to spring into April (see what we did there?). But before we do, let’s look back at some of our favorite posts on the blog from March. These articles follow the theme of the times—virtual working and recruitment—and are full of tips you can implement with your small business.

    Is it Time to Bring Back Your Workforce?
    Are you considering bringing your team back into the office? What will a post-COVID workplace look like? From determining who should return and how you will mitigate illness in your office, check out these guidelines for planning your return.

    3 Things to Know: One Year Into COVID
    It's been a full year since phrases like social distancing, "You're on mute," and Zoom happy hours have entered your daily language. Here are three things we think you should know now that we are one year into COVID and remote working.

    Maintaining Culture and Connection in a Virtual World
    We may be living in a virtual world, but that doesn't mean we can't still feel connected to our colleagues. Here are four tips you can implement today to maintain your company culture and connection with your team, even from a distance.

    Cleveland Internship Summit: 5 Takeaways from Virtual Recruitment Best Practices
    A roundtable discussion at GCP's recent Cleveland Internship Summit focused on virtual internship programs and recruitment. Participants shared tips and ideas for a successful program that you can implement in your own business. Check out these five takeaways from the session.

    What was your favorite article from March? Let us know on Twitter.

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  • Next up: Month in Review: September 2021

    Month in Review: September 2021


    We officially closed out summer with another month of hot topics on the blog. Check out some of our favorite articles from September.

    Steps to Dealing with Aggressive Customers
    As a small business owner, you carefully consider the policies you institute at your workplace. But not everyone will agree with every decision you make for your business. Occasionally customers may even turn aggressive—we've seen this happen recently in response to mask policies.
    Here are steps to take when faced with aggressive customers so these situations can go from hostile to harmonious as quickly as possible. 

    BBB Business Tips: Requiring Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination from Customers
    It's a question on every business owner's mind these days: To require vaccinations or not? Our newest MYB contributor Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland recommends the following tips to help you develop and implement a plan for requiring your customers to be vaccinated.

    FAQs With Phil: Why Do My Employees Stink at Communicating? And… How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?
    We’ve received so many questions pertaining to effective communication among teams and across all levels that it warranted its own mini-series, which we wrapped up with the last two articles in September.

    You have that one employee who appears unengaged, and maybe even a little rude. But could it be that they are lacking good communication skills? In the second article in this three-part series on workplace communications, we focus on reasons why your employees may be poor communicators.

    And… In the last article of the series we provide 10 tips to excellent communications. Check them out and you'll be well on your way to confidently claiming "My company rocks at communicating!"

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  • Next up: FAQs With Phil: How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?

    FAQs With Phil: How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?

    We’ve received so many questions pertaining to effective communication among teams and across all levels that it warranted its own mini-series. This last of three articles includes 10 tips to excellent communications.


    In this Mind Your Business series, FAQs With Phil, COSE’s own Phil Stella answers some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners and employees have regarding how to communicate effectively*. 

    Reaction to the last two pieces has been great. If you didn’t get a chance to read them, check out Why are Some Leaders Poor Communicators—and it’s counterpart, Why Do My Employees Stink at Communicating?. 

    It looks like you enjoyed poking fun at both bosses and colleagues who were poor communicators. We concluded that many of them were hired or promoted in spite of their communication skills, rather than because of them.

    And the reasons were ironically similar:

    It's not on the “test.” Few organizations place written or verbal skills on the “gotta have” list when interviewing candidates for any level position, unless they’re in sales or customer-facing areas. 

     It's no big deal. Many employers don’t include written or verbal skills in their performance management system because they don’t see that much value in them.  

    They didn’t learn them in school. Most high schools offer few, if any, courses in presentation or interpersonal communication skills. The same is true for many college business curricula. So, organizations must often provide their staffs verbal and written communication training to make up for that. However, as you’re probably catching on… most of them don’t.

    We’ve talked a lot about the causes of the problem, but what about the solutions? What can organizations do about these scenarios? What can they do to make sure they can confidently claim, “My company rocks at communicating?” Let’s find out. 

    Check out these 10 tips to creating organizations that value excellence in communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 1: It starts at the top. C-level leaders must commit to creating and sustaining a culture that values and rewards effective communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 2: Or, split it up among departments. If focusing on c-level leaders is too big of a challenge, given the organization’s size and scope, then ‘enlightened’ executives can focus this effort on their respective division or department. So, if the whole organization can’t embrace the goal, maybe the Finance or Manufacturing departments could.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 3: Put it on the “test.” A key component of the process is to make sure communication competencies are “on the test.” That means adding these factors to the gotta have list for any open position, no matter the role or level. While they can’t be the most important criteria, they could be the tie-breaker between two otherwise similarly qualified candidates.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 4: Add it to performance management reviews. Once baked into the selection process, the next step is to include them in the performance management system. If employees at all levels see that demonstrating specific workplace communication skills as a piece of their objectives, they’ll pay attention.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 5: Make it quantifiable. If your employees’ performance evaluations include quantifiable skill improvements, they’ll pay more attention. 

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 6: Tie it into salary and promotions. If those evaluations directly impact their salary increases and readiness for advancement, they’ll really pay a lot of attention.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 7: Readily communicate about communication. Build communication strengths and weaknesses into the ongoing performance coaching process. With each conversation, include what’s working and what still needs more work.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 8: Create informal opportunities for feedback. Besides these formal conversations (performance reviews, etc), regularly include informal feedback on specific memos, presentations and interactions. 

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 9: Offer professional development programs. These programs can include topics such as writing, phone skills, meeting management and presentation skills. Make a commitment to empowering all employees to improve their workplace skills, including communication.

    Excellence in Communication Tip No. 10: Master the skills. Work hard to be a positive model of these competencies to influence staff. Regularly ask for feedback from them on your effort and results. Walk the walk.

    While improving an entire organization’s communicating competencies can be a daunting long-term challenge, simply start small with your immediate reports and watch it catch on and grow from there. Do what you can to make sure you can confidently say, "My company rocks at communicating."

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.   

    *If you have a question for Phil, please send him an email at

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  • Next up: Progress Made to Close the Digital Divide, but the Need is Still Huge: Here’s How You Can Help

    Progress Made to Close the Digital Divide, but the Need is Still Huge: Here’s How You Can Help


    There is some good news to share about Greater Cleveland’s digital divide: Since last August, the Cleveland-area corporate community has donated more than 6,000 computers to PCs for People for low-income families. These donations have allowed students to learn remotely, seniors to attend e-health conferences with their caregivers, and many more to work from home or find employment.

    However, the need is still huge. Currently, PCs for People has a waiting list of families in need of a home computer. At the same time, there has been a decline in PC donations over the past few months. We do not want to lose the momentum that we have generated since August. Our community has made progress, but if we are going to help close the digital divide, we cannot stop now.

    Please continue to donate your used computers and electronic devices to PCs for People. If you have not donated, and your business is interested in partnering with PCs for People, please contact Bryan Mauk, Executive Director of PCs for People Cleveland, at Or if you prefer to make a cash donation, please contribute to the Greater Cleveland Digital Equity Fund at

    Together we can continue to maximize our impact and work to eliminate the inequalities that are exacerbated by our region’s digital divide, but we must keep up the work.

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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Returning to the Office

    3 Things to Know: Returning to the Office


    With a decrease in the number of cases, a better understanding about all things COVID-19, and more people being vaccinated, a return to working in the office is either already here or on the horizon for many businesses.

    If you are in the process of or are considering moving from remote to in-person work for your team, check out these things we think you should know as you make the transition.

    First thing to know: You need a plan.

    You might think you can just pick up where you left off when your team was last in the office over a year ago. But a lot has happened since then—and a lot has changed. There is a greater awareness of germs and cleanliness for sure, but there’s also an increased understanding of which types of jobs could be conducted in person and which types of jobs need to be conducted face to face.

    Putting a plan in place should start with a thorough analysis and consideration of the needs and desires of your team, your customers, and other people and businesses your business does business with. Use these guidelines as you work on your plan to transition from remote to in-person working.

    Second thing to know: Keep a good work-life balance.

    One of the lessons coming out of COVID for many workers is that a good work-life balance is important. When people are back to in-person working, it means they spend more time getting ready for and commuting to work and less time with family. It also means certain logistics that were temporarily solved by remote working—including situations with childcare, pet care, and transportation—now mean additional stress for your employees. Being sensitive to these issues and finding ways to help ease the transition will be a win-win for your team and your business.

    If you are interested in creating more ways to support a good work-life balance for your team, check out these 10 ideas.

    Third thing to know: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

    All businesses are different, and not all workers have the same needs and desires. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to working arrangements and schedules. Perhaps a mix of in-person and remote working makes the most sense.

    If a hybrid option might be the best choice for your business, check out this recent webinar: The Transition from Remote to Hybrid Working Environments. Learn about industry trends related to in-person and hybrid working as well as the right communication systems for your needs.

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