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I Stand Corrected: Blogging is More Than Random Thoughts and Voyeurs

Posted on September 11, 2008 by Jeff

Several months ago, we, the staff of Gordian Project, set out to author a blog. Not that all of us immediately found the prospect as inviting as others, but we generally engage a team spirit; thus the eCommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog.

I understood the blog’s driving purpose to be sharing our personal experiences within our given area of discipline as it relates to all things eCommerce. After several months of participation, I thought I would review our blog.

Caveat: I’d never read a blog going into this project, nor had I any desire to. The actual thought of sitting around reading peoples random thoughts makes me feel a bit voyeuristic. After reading Wikipedia’s definition of voyeuristic, it certainly isn’t that. Still, to this day, I’ve had no desire to read blogs other than for the purpose of this review.

I’m not sure it counts as “reading” but the one key area I check out on our blog each month is the Authors section of the home page. The key here is to identify how many posts I have in relation to other staff. I’m not sure what about life turns everything into a competition. This post will launch me forward to eight posts, however, I know I’ve written a couple that haven’t yet made it past the cutting room floor so this number isn’t hard and fast. But going with eight puts me in a respectable position.

Vanessa’s an over achiever at 40, but in all fairness she administrates the blog. I doubt any of her posts have hit the cutting room floor. If light reading and interesting tidbits is your thing, Vanessa’s Variety for the Week delivers. She shares what’s going on around other blog spaces, here at the office, and perhaps her life more than any other contributor.

Matt is our Development Manager. We’re among the elders of the office so I’ve truly appreciated our friendship. I don’t read his posts. I don’t understand what he does beyond the fact that I know he can fix or improve just about any internal process. Any time I walk past his desk he has a monitor filled with gibberish. I simply figure I won’t understand his posts either. Nice picture of his son in his most recent post though.

You might also notice Zach has 11 posts as of today. I’d read his if you only have a few minutes each day. Scanning through his titles, (that counts as reading I don’t care what anyone says) I find his posts most on topic: They include Website Improvements: Test Basic Usability Before Advancing, Google Sitelinks: Capturing My Proverbial Moby Dick, and Google Search Engine Results Pages Illustrated.

As a partner of Gordian Project I have to say bang up job Brian! I particularly enjoyed your Soft Economy Priorities? Time to Paint Your Parking Spaces; that’s leadership.

I’d like to thank Josh for his most recent post, The iPhone 3G Saved My Life. It truly inspired me to write this post. All this time I’d banged my head against the desk trying to come up with another post showcasing the thrilling world of Supply Chain, when all I needed was an iPhone post. Below, the desk I bang my head on as taken with my iPhone.


Jeff's Desk Taken with iPhone


Over time, you’ll notice that Elizabeth stopped contributing as often. I have mixed emotions on this one. Elizabeth so desired to be a mother and now she is enjoying that gift with her daughter, Kara, as a stay at home mom. Congratulations Liz! However, Elizabeth also worked in Supply Chain and guess what that means, I’ve had to cover Supply Chain blogging without her. Thanks Liz!

I’ve actually loved reading Ellen’s posts for the first time as I prepared for this post. Ellen has taken the reins of a department that everyone loves to hate, HR. She sifts through all the big issues like food programs and political sensitivity. What a fun department to be in. Blog post ideas just shoot across Ellen’s desk, I’m sure. Ellen also manages Accounts Payable but I’ve yet to see a post with any real hard numbers.

Ryan takes his job seriously. He’s building a career, a future. He’s a smart guy who understands this isn’t just a 9 to 5 but an opportunity for him to build a foundation for his future. He’s always learning and looking for how to add value to the company. His posts are read as a “Where’s Ryan?” I just hope he’s not building his resume based on Ryan’s Randomness for the Week of June 20th, 2008.

Tim, as partner, bang up job! Please don’t break your run on providing an image in every post. No one does it better than you.

Our blog was launched just prior to Simon’s moving on to launch his own business. Nice work getting in a post you can use as a business cardSmile.

Before you jump to any conclusions about why Emily posted her first and, to this day, last post May 19th 2008, I dare you to read it (Dealing with Difficult Customers: Best Practices for Addressing Customer Complaints). She is right now over there fighting the good fight. Without her and her team keeping those customers happy there’s no need for this eCommerce and Entrepreneurship blog.

And finally I’d like to say welcome to Arianna. She brings so much to the table: customer service experience, multilingual, eye for detail and now she’s a vital part of Supply Chain. FYI Arianna…I’m going to need at least one post a monthSmile.

So those are my “collective of experiences, thoughts, processes and updates from people that are not only actively working in ecommerce but are also zealous about the industry.”


Mixing Parties and Policies

Posted on September 4, 2008 by Ellen

The professional world of eCommerce can often be more relaxed than other businesses.  With fun and work being commonly intermingled, it’s sometimes like a mullet: Business in the front, party in the back.  Among the various in-house amenities like basketball and foosball, outside parties are also useful for maintaining a “fun” work environment.  

This is where it gets messy.  How do we apply in-house policies to outside parties while still utilizing the “hangout outside of work” feel?  Where can we draw the line between camaraderie and debauchery?  Company party misfits can not only ruin the occasion, but can expose the company to costly liabilities.

I have come up with four standards that can be used when laying down the law at work parties that still allow for parties to be productive:

  • Be Prepared:  Where my boy scouts at?  Anything can happen, so limiting unwanted variables can contribute to the success of the event.  A well organized party with specific activities, such as well defined games and interactions, will lessen the chances of having inappropriate behavior.  Our most recent example of this was at our company anniversary party.  While the party was casual with excitement at the pool and food at one’s convenience, we had a set schedule of our own Backyard Olympic Games.  Teams participated up through the championships while others watched and cheered.  Given that party goers had the opportunity to focus on fun and friendly competition not much room was left for unwanted actions or behavior.

  • Gordian Project 4th Anniversary Pool Party


    Gordian Project Backyard Olympics


  • Executives and Upper Management Set the Tone and Demeanor:  If your boss brings a flask to the 4th of July picnic that gives everyone else the OK to do the same thing even though this type of behavior is not ordinarily acceptable at the office. 
  • Encourage Family Participation:  A good way to keep it G rated is to invite the kids along.  Not only does this help set the tone for a G rated event, but it promotes family.  Family promotion can be especially important for the husband/wife dynamic; this creates an environment devoid of the stress of the feared ‘Company Party Sexual Harassment”.  Not only does this add sensibility to the occasion, but employees will generally have a better appreciation of the festivities if their families are not only invited but encouraged to attend company functions.  It’s a win-win. 
  • No Exceptions - Be Consistent:  Give your Employees a chance to succeed.  All of us in HR can sympathize with the difficulty that comes from ever changing rules and regulations. . Keep that in mind when legislating your own company rules.  Just as enforcing the rules consistently among employees is obviously important, keeping the expectations the same from party to party is just as vital. 

The human resources rep doesn’t have to be the stick in the mud at the party and with the proper planning and expectations no one will have to take on that role either.  Summer’s coming to an end so keep these tips in mind as we move toward the up and coming holiday parties.

 

Managing Growth: Invest in Infrastructure Before Moving Forward

Posted on September 3, 2008 by Archives

Fish or Cut Bait?  This phrase came to mind this week as I have been putting off some new development to assess our website’s infrastructure. Lately I’d noticed more and more lag time and performance issues and wanted to take a look under the hood before it became a serious problem. Since our current systems were developed, we’ve added scores of thousands of products, orders, and customers to our databases, and experienced high site volume and traffic growth. And while things are still working pretty well, I thought it was time to address these issues.  That is before we hit that next level in daily orders, data storage, etc., and overwhelm our current systems.

Fish or Cut Bait? 

For you land-lubbers unfamiliar with the term “fish or cut bait”, this term refers to the age old fishing operational dilemma: Is my time better spent catching more fish now, or cutting bait so I can catch more fish later? If I decide to fish now, I may catch more fish, but soon I will run out of bait. Or I could cut bait right now, but that means I will not be catching fish. It is a valid question, and one that is almost as inextricable as the “Tastes Great – Less Filling” debate. 

My Son Fishing

Running an eCommerce business is very similar in that regard, especially if you don’t have the resources of Amazon. Do you fish (go after new sales, new business, and develop new projects) or cut bait (optimize and stabilize current systems and regroup)?  Both fishing and cutting bait are very important to the success of the organization.  

Obviously, fishing is far more appealing. We all get excited when sales pour in, new suppliers are established, new markets are tapped, and new systems are implemented. Fishing is fun. Fishing feels good. Fishing is what makes the world go ‘round.

By contrast, cutting bait is not as exciting. Making the decision to slow growth, delay new supplier relationships, and hold back products until we stabilize shipping performance does not feel very rewarding. Putting off new development projects so that we can optimize database and site performance can feel like we are spinning our wheels and spending time and money on something that “already works”. And cutting mackerel and cod leaves your hands feeling slimy, and you smelling like, well a dead fish.

Why Not Fish and Cut Bait?

In a perfect world, we have fishermen AND bait-cutters. OK, pop quiz: raise your hand if you live and run your business in a perfect world. Unless your hand is raised (and by the way, you probably look a bit foolish to the person sitting next to you), you have to spend some time fishing and some time cutting bait just like the rest of us.

By nature, we want what’s new and exciting. We want to keep pushing ahead, keep forging new paths, and keep growing at a break neck pace. But in reality, sometimes that is the worst thing you can do. We’ve all heard stories of businesses that fail because they grew too fast. That seems paradoxical on the surface, as “growing too fast” generally means more revenue. But if you aren’t prepared to handle the rapid influx of business, you can get buried in the avalanche that you worked so hard to create.

So I encourage you to take a brief time out to sit back, evaluate your operations, and do a quick SWOT analysis before leaping into that next venture. Make sure your systems, procedures, and employees are prepared to handle the growth before you get there. Make sure your site, server, and databases can handle all the traffic you want to drive to it. Invest in the resources it takes to ensure solid operational performance for the sales you want to get. Make sure you are staffed to handle the influx of orders so you don’t overburden your employees. Then rinse and repeat as necessary.

It may not be as thrilling as landing Moby Dick, but then again that didn’t end well for Ahab.

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of August 29th, 2008

Posted on August 29, 2008 by Vanessa

This week we celebrated our 4 year anniversary of the launch of PlumberSurplus.com.  This is really exciting for us.  We are having a big party and Olympics challenges this weekend, but we also like to bring fun into the office as well.  Today is our official sports day.  Sports day is a day when you can wear whatever you want as long as it is sports related. 

You may have read Ellen’s post from earlier this week where she discussed happiness in the workplace and I think days like today breed that kind of happiness in the office.  It gives us the opportunity to dress comfy, express our love for our sport or athlete or team, and its fun to see what our peers come up with.  From a personal standpoint I am highly affected by my mood, it directly relates to my productivity.  When I am happy or excited I get a ton of work done, on the flip side if I am the opposite of content I really struggle to get through the day.  I think I am a pretty happy person in general so let me just express to my bosses that I am getting work done over here.  Needless to say, I figured I would take the opportunity to share with our readers some of the pictures of sports day.  Feel free to comment on what your company does to create a happy work environment, I would be curious to know what others are doing.

 

Tim and Ryan USC v. UCLA
 
Tim and Ryan in USC and UCLA respectively.  It's always fun to see who is going to try and outdo Tim when it comes to any kind of dress up opportunity as he is most always decked out from head to toe.  I think Ryan gave him a run for his money this time with the face paint.

 

Stephanie swims to Gold
 
Stephanie was obviously inspired by our Olympic swimmers.

 

Gordian Project Sports Day Participants

 

This is the Gordian Project Partipants for sports day.  Back row from left: Emily for USC, Ashley for the Lakers, Brooke cheerleading, Steven for the Lakers, Jeff our Texas fan, Matt our Canadian bowler, Ronnie for USC, Ellen our track gold medalist, Josh the Titan, Greg our basketball player, and Vanessa sporting old school Lakers.  Middle row from left: Priscilla for the Dodgers, Jordon our Patriot football player, and Stephanie our swimming gold medalist. Front row from left: Kelli our Laker fan with an updated Kobe jersey, Josh another Laker fan and still trying to get season tickets, Ryan our UCLA fan (which is a brave move around this USC filled office), Tim in full blown USC (unfortunately the image doesn't show his USC flip flops), and Zach our basketball player and referee between the two rivals.

 

The Laker Fans
 
The Laker fans Ashley, Josh, Kelli, Vanessa and Steven all unite.
 
 
The Gordian Guys Pose

 

Zach, Josh, Steven, Jordon, Matt and Ryan all pose for the camera.
 
 

HR Strategies: Consider Efficiencies and Leave the Layoffs and Downsizing

Posted on August 26, 2008 by Ellen

Don't Jump the Gun

In this negative economy, I get a lot of HR emails about layoffs and downsizing.  It is surprising how quickly companies turn to downsizing to solve their problems that relate to their bottom line.  This is the time to find efficiencies and areas of opportunity; not run for the hills and give up.  Understandably, there are times when layoffs are necessary and downsizing is a last resort, but it should not be the first thing that pops into my inbox as economic stresses increase.  Not only do they make us HR folk grow gray hair and get heartburn, they are expensive, reduce performance and diminish one of the company’s most central investments. 

I’m Going To Need You To Get Outside The Box 

In combination with other strategies throughout the company, try some efficiency tactics through the HR department.  First, reevaluate job descriptions and roles in all areas of the company.  People do their best when they are doing something they love; happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster.  Changing a couple of employees around or even simply adjusting their scope of responsibilities to involve areas of interest can impact employee enthusiasm and create a more efficient and excited workforce.  This philosophy will not only raise the level of efficiency per employee, but will also give a much needed “fresh” look at the overall picture.  Maybe that employee in customer service has some great ideas about supply chain, but has never been given the forum to express these new and exciting thoughts.  At a time when competition is fierce and the opportunity to get ahead narrows, this tactic could produce the “out of the box” thinking a company really needs to get back on their feet and diminish the impact of the depressing economy. 

 

Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of August 8th, 2008

Posted on August 8, 2008 by Vanessa

The 2008 Summer Olympics started today; opening ceremonies have already taken place in China, but will not be available for viewing on T.V. in America until this evening.  Did you know that the Olympic Rings is the world’s most recognized symbol?

 

 

  • For those of you that are as excited about the Olympics as I am you can catch an estimated 2,000 hours of online footage via the NBC Olympics site.  If there is a particular event that you are looking to see that won’t be broadcast domestically, Leo Laporte, the “Tech Guy”,  will be giving out websites that are broadcasting events both legally and illegally on his radio show tomorrow.  To listen on demand visit this link
  • If you have followed our blog or speakers at conferences you have probably heard us talk about hiring “shining stars” or “analytical aces”, these are the top notch employees that help to grow the company and vigorously love their jobs.  We may have an advantage at this since one of our fearless leaders is a professor at a University and is able to give semester long interviews to students without them even knowing it, but what about the rest of eCommerce?  Harry Joiner, specializes in recruiting and filling online marketing executive slots, he says “If the candidate senses online is an afterthought [to the hiring company], then they are not going to work there. It’s essential the company sees ecommerce as a pie-enlarging value proposition, not just a pie-rearranging proposition. Because at the end of the day, “A” players want to go where they are going to matter.”  If you tend to agree with him, then I would suggest reading this interview with Joiner by Alan Rimm-Kaufman. 
  • Dan Kaminsky of IOActive Inc, a security consultant firm based in Seattle, discovered an internet security flaw that has the ability to affect emails.  According to the article when Kaminsky spoke at this week’s Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas, the room was packed and had people sitting on the floor to hear what he was going to reveal about the security hole.  Most vendors and many providers have fixed the issue, but some have not, which could leave some at risk.  According to Kaminsky “The industry has rallied like we've never seen the industry rally before”.  For those of you who aren’t so technical (myself included), some of our fellow blogger nerds provided some insight about the security risk:
    From Jordon: “It works kind of like a man in the middle attack, where the attacker can respond to a DNS request before the actual DNS server.  When DNS isn’t using port randomization it’s only responds on port 53 which it makes it easy to intercept the response because you know what port it is on.  If port randomization is enabled then the response can come back on any of over 65 thousand ports making it harder to respond on the correct port. 
    So you would think that the odds are over 1 in 65,000 to make the attack work, except the attacker can respond quicker than the DNS server, say like a hundred times.  So then the odds of getting a correct response becomes 1 in 650, which is much more reasonable.  Port randomization helps but doesn’t completely solve the problem.  So they had to fix some code and other stuff that I don’t completely understand yet.”
    From Zach: “Yea that sounds right, when I was reading about it last week several people said it had to do with some DNS configurations not randomizing correctly. Instead of the ports being random they might be linear or have some kind of predictable pattern so if you can figure that out then you know where to point the attacks.”
  • 38% of female blog writers make their online purchasing decisions based on information they have found in a blog according to a BlogHer/Compass Partners study.  This may be an untapped area for internet retailers as the study also shows that 35% of all women in the US participate in the “blogosphere”. 
  • Avinash Kaushik of Occam’s razor posted on using Google Trends for competitive analysis.  It’s a great post, but be sure you are prepared before you try to take on this task, Avinash explains “Doing competitive intelligence analysis without knowing enough context about your competitive space, your general ecosystem, is like going to play a football game naked. Won’t lead to a great outcome for you (even if you paid a ton of money for your players - tools :)).”  For those of you who feel you are prepared for the task the post is highly informative.
     

Hiring for Tasks or Hiring for Ideas: Taskmaster vs. Analytical Ace

Posted on August 6, 2008 by Ellen

Small, fast growing companies thrive off of nimble, entrepreneurial, growth infested staff at all levels.  The thought is that eventually, you will be able to fill from underneath, as the company grows-up and develops a strong upper management team.  But finding the turning point between hiring for ideas and hiring for tasks is challenging; and there is a point. 

The small business e-commerce entrepreneur must understand that even when hiring for entry level positions, it is better to hire the analytical ace then the taskmaster.   For example, just because someone might say they want to start their own company someday when interviewing for an entry level position, doesn’t mean they won’t be an excellent employee for the two years they do spend with your company, and by no means should it be an immediate turn off.  Yes they might leave in a year or two, but it is better to hire employees that can grow the company with their ideas and complete the tasks, then worker bees that complete the tasks but require additional management. 

The truth is that both the “taskmaster” and the “analytical ace” suffer turn over and it has just as much to do with the nature of the position as it does the nature of the employee.  Finding the tipping point when your company is huge enough, and I mean huge enough, to support worker bees is a fine science.  However, judging this pinnacle could make or break your growth and efficiency.  Especially in this down economy, when investments should be even more calculated and on target, it is better to invest in someone who can grow you, rather than save a few dollars on someone that can sustain you. 

 

Consumer Research: An Insight to the Buying Patterns of the Online Hispanic Shopper

Posted on July 29, 2008 by Arianna

Providing excellent service in today’s highly competitive marketplace is somewhat difficult for call centers. Even more difficult is the task of servicing multilingual customers.  Dealing with Hispanic customers encompasses customer relationship opportunities that are not necessarily typical to other demographics. There are a few differences that make it more difficult to “seal the deal” on a purchase, but that can create a pathway to repeat purchases.  I know these things from experience, not only am I myself a Hispanic, Bilingual woman, but I come from a family that encapsulates the Mexican culture.

From my experiences I have learned three key things about Hispanic consumers who decide to purchase from an unknown company and these are the things the look for prior to completing a purchase.  The three key elements I am referring to are: simplicity, relationship and security.

Simplicity

Having a website that is easy to browse and understand is essential when dealing with Hispanic consumers. They want to feel like they understand and have control of the website, not fearing that they may get tricked, or that there is a chance they make a costly mistake. Another feature that may be the most important is the ability to locate a contact phone number; which brings us to the next feature they look for, a relationship.

Relationship 

Having a relationship with our customers can be very time consuming and costly, especially when time is money. With Internet sales sky rocketing, the seller-consumer relationship has dropped considerably. There is no need to talk to someone if you can do it alone, online. Hispanic consumers however, think differently. Though they might be using a different mean (store vs. online) by which they are purchasing an item, a relationship is still essential. Spanish speakers want to be able to ask many questions, talk about the products, and even want to be walked through the ordering process. But the relationship does not stop there. After the sale has been made, Hispanic consumers expect a phone call or an email with updates on their order.  Just as simplicity builds upon the relationship aspect of this purchasing decision, relationship builds on the next point, security.

Security

The relationship that is started with a Hispanic customer brings about a sense of security for the customer. They know two things:

  1. They purchased an item from an actual “person”.
  2. That person took the time to know who they were and what they purchased by simply picking up the phone.

These two simple facts reduce any fear that they might have had from purchasing from a new vendor. Thus allowing the customer to relax and patiently wait for their order.

These three features, while often difficult to provide, can and will give a company a competitive advantage. When fully satisfied with the above, a Hispanic customer is more likely to become a return customer. Loyalty has to be one of their greatest attributes. When a Spanish speaking customer finds a company that provides them with a relationship, that company becomes a “friend”; a friend whom you trust and continue to do business with. 

Opportunity for Growth

According to ambicultural.com there are 37 million Hispanics in the United States alone.   An estimated 15 million use the internet, and this number is expected to increase by 20% year over year.  Based on these attributes and our desire to create these relationships, we ourselves have been able to track remarkable results in this demographic.  We have experienced a 4.7% increase in repeat purchases with this customer base. We understand that a customer will not be purchasing a faucet monthly or even yearly, but the fact is that with our Hispanic customers, loyalty stands and we see that revealed in our numbers.  As this market continues to grow so does the opportunity for all internet retailers. 

 

Soft Economy Priorities? Time to Paint Your Parking Spaces

Posted on July 2, 2008 by Brian

If you’ve ever leased commercial space you’re likely aware that parking spots can be an important concern.  In the past it has been for us.  How many spaces do we get, what lot are they in, is the lot shared, and so forth.  A good lease will answer all of these questions for all tenants involved.  Luckily in our current location the issue isn’t of much concern.  We do share a lot with our neighbor but there is ample space for all employees and visitors.  We’ve never once exhausted the available parking.  

None the less, a few days ago our neighbors decided to paint their business name on a handful of the parking spaces closest to their building.  Bare in mind, closest to their building means 20 steps closer than the furthest available space.  As one of my partners and I stood in the lot chuckling at this discovery we found ourselves thankful that (1) in this soft economy our business is busy enough that we don’t have time to unnecessarily paint parking spaces and (2) we knew all of our employees are graceful enough to gladly walk the extra 20 steps if it made our neighbor’s day a smidge better.  Just a fun share from the life of an entrepreneur.

 

Federally Mandated Paid Sick Days: A Benefit Entrepreneurs may not be Seeing

Posted on May 28, 2008 by Ellen

Regardless of political affiliation, in times of economic uncertainty, governments traditionally become more involved; i.e. more legislation, rulemaking, enforcement, and influence.  The situation today is without exception.  At the same time Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke finally orated “recession”, various departments at various levels of government increased their involvement in the economy.  Multi level policy making not only means that various levels of government will act, but their actions will affect multiple levels of society.  Realizing Bernanke is known best for his research on inflation and the Great Depression, leaves little surprise that the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns.  Similarly, with the ferocious presidential contest of only Senators that has engaged even the traditionally uninvolved lower socio-economical and vulnerable members of society, it seems timely that Congress is now working with the mortgage lenders on loan forgiveness instead of foreclosure as a cost savings strategy.  These policies coordinate to create an economic stimulus by reducing the individual burden of market participants. 

Senator Ed Kennedy has vowed to call a vote on the Healthy Families Act soon that would allow “7 days of sick leave with pay annually for employees working 30 or more hours per week; or a pro rata number of days or hours of sick leave with pay annually for employees working less than--(A) 30 hours per week on a year-round basis; or (B) 1,500 hours throughout the year involved.”.  On the campaign trail, both Democratic frontrunners Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama express support for mandatory sick days.  This is not officially labeled as part of any of the candidate’s economic stimulus plan, if there is one, but it does have characteristics of a stimulus.  This legislation would give sick days to part time employees, and lower level employees which are not currently entitled to paid sick days.  It creates happier, more productive lower level employees, in an economically stressful time requiring increased efficiency.  For a single mother of two working two part-time jobs, paid sick days could be the difference between eviction and a healthy family.  

Some question the rationale behind mandating employers to implement costly benefits in a recessional time of cutbacks, slimming margins, and dwindling profits.  These situations leave this legislation ferociously unpopular in the small business community, but it is worth another look; you might actually see it has some positives.  Employee rights are a tool in the government’s artillery to create economic stability and consumer confidence; a tool that an individual small business owner cannot brandish with the same far reaching impact. In fact, if one small business owner decided to implement paid sick days in a recession, they would be forced to raise prices to cover costs.  However, without the competitor’s participation, the small-business-owner-with-the-paid-sick-days will be dominated by their competition, and might even be pushed out of the market completely.  In all actuality, the negative effects of rising costs related to mandated employee benefits are minimal.  Business owners would be forced to raise prices together and pass on increased costs elsewhere, thereby decreasing the burden to individual businesses.  Meanwhile, the small business owner will benefit from the well-known positive impacts of employee benefits, while not having to shoulder the burden alone.  Governments have the supremacy to equally mandate improvements to the bottom rung employees, and produce far reaching positive economic impacts.