No matter the industry, every company or organization must have a stable platform from which to grow and successfully thrive. To create that stable platform, the emphasis should always be on the people, the policies and the processes according to Sherri McDaniel, founder and CEO of Sage Solutions Group in Livonia, Michigan. For over three decades, Ms. McDaniel worked as a human resources professional for many different industries from governmental to non-governmental agencies, union to non-union, and non-profit to for-profit companies. The guiding philosophy of Sage Solutions Group, the company she started with 3 other industry professionals, is the Stability Pyramid, which focuses on the alignment of the three aforementioned pillars: people, policy and process.
The Small Business Pulse spoke with Ms. McDaniel about her relatively new company, Sage Solutions Group, which has been in business for almost two years. She discussed some of the HR challenges that small-to-medium sized companies face today, which is the core of Sage’s business.
Sage Solutions helps businesses with compliance, HR and individual service solutions, but what was the biggest challenge for you starting your business?
The biggest challenge for us starting Sage was finding out that everything costs way more than we originally expected. If you’re a business starting out, whatever you think the cost is, triple it. At Sage, we didn’t use any bank financing to get started, however that is not possible for everyone. If you’re starting out, use the resources available to you in your community. Get help from your local bank or small business associations. People are willing to help, but you need to let them know you are out there starting a new business.
Now that you’re up, running and helping other businesses, what is Sage’s core focus?
No matter what company we’re working with, the one core thing we always understand is that people are people. Our unique understanding of people, policies and processes allows us to work in nearly any industry. For example, even though Sage does not have experience with the inner workings of a recording studio, we are able to help a recording studio when they are having a hard time getting their employees on board with their objectives to achieve their business goals. So, while Sage is not an expert in running recording studios, we are experts in human resources and motivating employees.
At Sage our sweet spot is small to medium-sized businesses, though we can scale up to partner with large sized businesses as well. For example, with larger companies, Sage can assist with training, employee engagement, recruitment and mergers and acquisitions. We also love startups because they have a fresh slate and often need help setting up a stable platform for their business to grow. Startup companies likely cannot afford an HR department so Sage can really help them with things like handbooks, policies and procedures, compliance, hiring practices and business planning and development.
Again, for Sage, the industry doesn’t really matter as our focus is always on the Stability Pyramid pillars – people, policies and the processes.
What are some practical measures to ensure stability?
Having a handbook helps with stability by putting procedures in place. It drives the mission, vision and value proposition of your company. It also outlines what you’re asking your employees to do to help your business achieve its goals. We work with companies to customize the handbook so that it specifically fulfills the needs of their business, not just a template downloaded from the Internet.
What are some of the biggest challenges small and medium-sized businesses face?
Legal compliance is a big challenge because businesses sometimes don’t understand what they don’t know. It’s vital to set up processes correctly from the beginning and then keep them going. For example, companies must fill out the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification for their employees. It’s a 2-page form that many small businesses get wrong, maybe without even knowing it’s wrong. The next thing they know, they’re being raided by I.C.E. for compliance, just like a restaurant recently in Ann Arbor. Sage can help companies understand their compliance level by providing a free audit of their HR processes. We can look over your employee files, I-9 forms, handbooks and safety plans to provide a detailed report of what you are doing right and where you need to improve. Then, business owners can decide if they want to tackle the issues themselves or allow Sage to help them become more compliant.
Businesses naturally want to focus on their customers and growing their sales, and in doing so, may forget to focus on being compliant. This is where Sage Solutions Group can help. At Sage we are always surveying for new laws or changes to existing ones that businesses need to know.
To learn more about Sage Solutions Group, go to www.sagesolutionsgroup.com.
This article was written for Small Business Pulse