From the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

Jeepers, Creepers

When Anthony Crews was looking for office space for his Chicago startup, Leading Edge Recovery Solutions, a debt-collections agency, security was at the top of his list. He had worked at collections agencies with such loose security that when laptops were stolen, accusations were leveled at every employee in the complex.

Tenants at one-story and unguarded office facilities have reason to be paranoid. Thieves hang around, then strike-spiriting off small, expensive electronics. Atlanta security company Barton Protective Services Inc. has come up with a name for these thieves: creepers. They peek in windows, enter offices with groups, or act like they are lost while they are casing the joint. If they see something they want, they walk out with it, explains Daniel Millhouse, Barton's general manager.

The easiest way to combat creepers is to collaborate with other tenants on confronting loiterers and setting up a phone tree to spread the word about suspicious characters-a strategy Crews has already initiated at the office tower where his company is now located. Millhouse advises backing that up with a digital-camera security system that lets you share pictures of suspected thieves with other tenants and the police.

Taking Care of Baby?

Fewer companies have parental leave policies these days: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found in its latest national study of company benefits programs that 12 percent of organizations offer parental leave, down from 15 percent in 2001.

Here's your opportunity to shine. Having an official leave policy signals that you're hip to the concerns of new parents who want to take time off when a new baby arrives. And having a policy on the books makes it easier for parents to "claim" that time.

Parents are going to take the time off anyway, even if they have to negotiate a deal on the side with their bosses, says James Levine, co-author of Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family and partner with Levine Greenberg Literary Agency Inc. in New York City. He says, "There is more leeway than the policies and surveys reveal."

Adopt a flexible philosophy about parental leave, and you're actually giving employees what they want most: the ability to organize some time off when they need it. "That's often where small companies have their advantage," says Levine. "They don't get mired in corporate policies like big companies."


Almost
70
of owners of small and midsize companies believe their industries will see consolidation in the next three years.
SOURCE: DAK Group/Whitcomb Center for Research and Financial Services at Rutgers University

47%
of owners of small and midsize businesses say their exit strategies have been moderately or significantly affected by offshore and/or outsourcing services.
SOURCE: DAK Group/Whitcomb Center for Research and Financial Services at Rutgers University

Joanne Cleaver has written for a variety of publications, including the Chicago Tribune and Executive Female.