As the co-owners of a small business, my spouse/business partner and I have to pay for everything. By “everything,” I mean everything. We have to pay for things the employees break; new things to replace old things (most of which work perfectly fine, but are outdated); services provided by vendors; the air conditioning bill, even when work has been slow; and pretty much anything in the workplace that is necessary in order to perform our work. We also pay for employees’ meals when we have staff luncheons or dinners. We even had an employee who lived out of the area and stayed in our home when his work required him to be in the office; we paid for 100% of his meals, cooked them, and cleaned up afterwards (maybe my memory is selective, but I don’t recall him helping out, not even once!). My partner and I have noticed over the decades we have been in business that rarely do our employees have any idea where the money comes from; they think we should buy the latest and greatest equipment, computers, etc., but they fail to recognize that my partner and I have to have money to buy these items. When an employee breaks something, for example, a video camera that costs thousands of dollars, we have not been informed about the breakage until we need to use the camera, forcing us to lay extra for a rushed repair, all because the person who broke it decided not to say anything. When someone works for someone else, it is easy to believe money grows on trees, but when someone IS the company because he/she owns the company, we recognize that every dollar we earn has been due to our hard work and everything we spend comes out of our pocket (literally). So, if we don’t always have the latest and greatest of everything, it is because we don’t quite have the funds to buy it. And, just once, it would be nice for someone who works for me to buy my lunch!
This is one of those issues that separates the employer/employee personality. For most of my working life I have been in the owner position and have had to pay for everything. As a photographer, this included cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and film (yes, film and processing), and pens and paper and typewriters, then computers, and so on. And, when I worked for others, I understood this and appreciated items provided to me and other employees, such as sodas and snacks, in the rare instances when they were provided. But, it is interesting to both Melissa and me that some people who have only an employee perspective don’t know how things get procured and under what considerations. We have had employees lobby for a $10,000 video camera when a $500 one will get the job done. The same is true of computers, software, and many other things. When you own a business you have to buy the stuff. You budget and save for it when you can, or you buy on credit when you must. And, before taking home any residual “profit,” these things have to be paid for. These are the tools required to work. Without the tools, the work is impossible. And, what I, or what we, as business owners, need for employees to understand is that these tools will be provided and the employees should take good care of them. Further, if an employee believes a new tool would be productive, do the homework. Get the specs, get the costs, and demonstrate how it will pay for itself. The boss will appreciate the input and an educated approach to upgrading things rather than a demand for the latest and greatest.