When JJ Ramberg started a business in 2005, she asked job applicants if they were willing to put together an IKEA bookcase. Her company moved a lot so she wanted to hire people who were willing to help reassemble furniture.
Now that she has an established business — GoodSearch.com, an internet company that allows online searchers and shoppers to designate a charity to receive a share of GoodSearch revenue from advertisers — and a long office lease, Ramberg still asks the same question. How job applicants answer it gives her a sense of who might feel that tasks outside their formal job description are beneath them.
"Equally important, this question sends a message to the candidate that we do not have a hierarchical environment. When something needs to get done, everyone, from the CEO down, pitches in," says Ramberg, a 1998 MBA graduate of Stanford GSB.
Ramberg is also the anchor of MSNBC's Your Business, the network's only show on small business, which is in its seventh season. The question about assembling bookshelves is one of 183 tips for entrepreneurs and small business investors that she shares in her new book It's Your Business.
Most of the tips originate with other entrepreneurs or small business experts whom she interviewed for the show. Among the tips:
- barter services, don't buy
- be ready with photographs of your products or services on your phone because you never know when you will have a chance to use them to pitch your idea
- check out a local business school for possible students to do a marketing plan or human resources analysis for you
- and stand up to record your voicemail message because you will sound more likeable with less pressure on your lungs
Ramberg says her book began with scribbles in her notebook from interviews for the show. "My colleagues and I have interviewed thousands of entrepreneurs to find out what they've learned about running their own companies. And honestly, no two individuals are alike." The 183 tips in the book, she says, are mostly practical things that business owners either didn't think of before or know they should be doing "but haven't had the time to figure out how."