A Business With Its Feet On The Ground: Reducing The Risks In Your Enterprise

Time and again, we’re told that starting a business is a risk filled venture. There seems to be no question that you can make a go of things unless you’re willing to risk all your money and step out on a limb. Hence, many entrepreneurs are risk takers.

And, that is one way of going about things. If you’re willing to put your savings on the line and step into the fast lane, good for you. But, most of us aren’t happy to accept risk in such a massive undertaking. And, nor should we. Would you spend that much money anywhere else risks were involved? Few of us would accept paying for a new car with no guarantee that we can keep it.

reducerisks1

PxHere Image

Which is why we’re here to tell the non-risk takers among you that it’s possible to succeed without risking everything. And, to prove the point, we’re going to look at the top three ways you can reduce the risk factor.

Avoid taking out loans

Let’s be honest; most start up risks are financial. To some degree, that’s always going to be the case. You are going to need to put some money into a business which might not work.

But, you can reduce the risk significantly by not getting a loan. While this is often seen as an attractive option, it’s a risky move. If your company doesn’t work, you’ll lose the money, and find yourself unable to repay. Before you know it, debt will come chasing you.

Instead of getting a business loan, use only your own money. And, to reduce the risk even further, keep costs as low as possible until you see a profit.

reducerisks2

Free Great Picture Image

Remove liability

As a sole trader, you’re liable for anything that happens in your business. If a customer decides to sue, they’ll be suing, not your company.

Which is why you may want to consider opting for a limited liability company. There’s plenty of advice out there about how to start an llc, and it’s worth looking into. When operating a limited company, liability falls on your company, and not you. You may think they’re the same thing, but the law sees things differently. This way, lawsuits or payouts come from your company, not you. There is still a risk, of course, but your company’s protection reduces it.

Many pies for your fingers

Another significant risk is to focus on one thing. If that one thing fails, you won’t have anything to turn to.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, ensure you put as many fingers in as many pies as you possibly can. That’s not to say you need to operate different companies at the same time. Just that you need to attempt making your business a success in a few different ways. Working in a physical space and online, for example, would ensure you at least had a fallback plan. If your physical company didn’t work out, you could simply push your online company forward, and vice versa.

3 Ways You’re Jeopardizing Your Business’s Security

As a business owner, you entrust your employees with sensitive and valuable data numerous times and in various ways each day. Your customers, likewise, entrust you with their data and personal details.

While you might think that the entire system is set up to work flawlessly, the reality is that data security in your business may not be quite as effective and perfect as you might think. In fact, you may face numerous risks and issues with data security on a daily basis that you may not be aware of and that may even put your customer’s vital data at risk.

When you understand more about these potential risks, you can take action to improve data security in your company.

jazz1

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

1. Employees Lack Education and Training

According to a 2015 survey performed by Insider Risk Report, as many as 93-percent of valued employees surveyed, who had access to a company’s vital or sensitive data, stated that they used a high-risk activity that put that data at risk. This could have included something as simple as using a weak password or not changing a password frequently enough or sharing a password with someone who they shouldn’t have shared it with. While these may have been unintentional or seemingly harmless risks, they were nonetheless risks to the company.

As an employer, you must observe and understand what your employers are doing wrong in the area of data security. In addition to observing risk factors in this area, you must take the additional step to correct the behavior and to adequately train them in the proper data security methods.

You should be aware that most of your employees are not maliciously trying to circumvent safety and security protocols, and most of your team usually wants to take the proper steps to keep data secure. However, they may not be aware of what the right steps are. It is up to you to properly train them and to provide them with the tools to keep data secure in the most time-efficient ways possible.

jazz2

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

2. Outdated Technology

At times, new technology is introduced rapidly, and it can be challenging to keep up with all of the changes and innovations as they occur. More than that, some business owners have a false conception that security hinders business growth. This type of thinking actually carries a certain risk because it does not promote the use of new and more advanced security features that may currently be available and that may be most effective for the business owner to use.

As a business owner, it is important that you stay updated as much as possible with the latest innovations available in the marketplace. You should always ensure that your hardware and software products are properly supported and compatible with the security features that you are using. Spend ample time learning as much as you can about authorized access to data, taking screenshots, analytics, forwarding data files and more before implementing the use of new technology and security features. This will help you to make full and ample use of security features without concern of negative impacts associated with its use.

jazz3

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

  1. Keeping Sensitive Data

The unfortunate reality is that all businesses have sensitive data that malicious sources may want to target. Regardless of the size of your business or the type of business that you run, there is a possibility that your business may be targeted through a ransomware attack.

For example, a public institution, such as a hospital, police office, school or government office, may have access to a huge number of public records. This could include public records that contain profiles on the general public and that could be breached for malicious purposes. Another example involves e-commerce businesses, such as luxurious brands. A ransomware attack could target the high-end customers of a luxury brand so that the customers’ personal information and, with that, material possessions are at stake.

Any time a customer’s vital and sensitive data is jeopardized, the person stands to lose a considerable amount of money, and fraud is always a concern as well. Your primary goal should be to protect the privacy of your customers. Therefore, you should avoid collecting data that you do not need, and you should not store data that you do not need for too long.

More than that, you should encrypt all data that you have possession of in the most secure fashion possible. Generally, this involves the use of SSL certificates or other highly secure formats. Remember that a data breach can impact your business’s reputation as well. Customers may no longer trust your business if you cannot safeguard their vital and sensitive data. This could have a long-term and negative effect on your business.

To Recap…

Business security is of vital importance regardless of the niche or industry that you work in. You need to focus on all aspects of business security, and you must take steps to safeguard data at all levels. While you need to train your employees about data security and how to properly safeguard and encrypt data at all levels, you also need to take steps to prevent ransomware attacks and use SSL certificates with vital customer data. Now is the ideal time to take a closer look at your data security efforts and to make upgrades and enhancements. If you notice any areas that need to be improved and enhanced, now is the time to do so.

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. She was rummaging through her grandma’s clothes before it was cool and she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, but delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88.

 

5 Ideas For Running Effective Team Meetings

Sadly, a lot of leaders today hold meetings that are essentially dull, make time pass by ever so slowly, and leave people exhausted and frustrated. If you want to run effective team meetings, you need to make it an interesting event that is filled with energy, so that it drives all the team members to collaborate in order to come up with decisions and solve issues. It makes all the difference how you plan and run the meeting. In this article, we are going to discuss 5 ideas on how you can run effective team meetings.

Have a Positive Attitude for the Meeting

A positive attitude is an essential aspect of every team meeting. Your task is to get people involved and actually work with them in order to come up with results, solve issues, make decisions, inform, inspire, and motivate them. This means that you simply have to occasionally get everyone together in a room and hold a meeting that is going to keep the spirits high. It’s a fact that you can’t simply manage people from the office via email. So make sure that you hold meetings that inspire everyone to take part in them actively.

Have a Purpose for the Meeting

The meeting needs to have a particular purpose. Having a meeting just because you always have one isn’t really a purpose. When you set up a meeting, you actually have an opportunity to do a variety of things. It’s the time when you get to find out how everything related to your business is panning out. It’s a chance to learn how each and every team member is handling their own end, and try to help them out with issues. It’s the perfect time to emphasize your mission statement and remind everyone what their goals are. Team goals should be the focus of every meeting.

Come up With an Agenda for the Meeting

Every purpose must have its own agenda. It’s basically a list of things that need to be covered during the meeting. By looking at it, you will know how much time you can devote to each item. The fact is that time is important when it comes to meetings. Every meeting should start on time and last for a given time. If not every item of the agenda is covered, they should be moved to the next meeting. If it’s urgent, a separate meeting needs to be held. There also needs to be a regularity when it comes to meetings. Decide how many times a week a meeting should be held, and make sure everyone arrives on time.

Encourage Team Members to Participate

You want each member of your team to participate in the discussion and take part in making decisions, if the purpose of the meeting is relevant to them. You can go around the table and get everyone’s ideas. Use glass white boards to put everything down and brainstorm. Furthermore, you don’t always have to be in the focus. Let another team member lead the discussion if they have something valuable to contribute. People will feel inspired about meetings if they are encouraged to take part in them and see that results are achieved. They will feel like their contribution is valued.

Keep Focus on your Strategic Goals

Continuity is an important aspect of business meetings. Every meeting should stay focused on your general strategic goals. After all, they are what connects all of your business efforts. Generally, the best way to do this is to start every meeting with a point in the agenda that consists of quickly going through all of these goals. That way, your team will discuss all the issues while still having the big picture in mind.

Be Positive

It is essential that you hold a meeting that encourages all the team members to participate. There has to be a purpose and an agenda, and you need to keep your focus on your strategic goals. And, of course, a positive attitude is important.

Optimizing Your Online Presence For Global Expansion

Widening your net to land a much more international audience is a great way to grow your company and get your product, service or even just your brand into entirely new territories. However, it isn’t as simple as many would naively believe, especially when you consider you have to cater for all the nuances that come with an international audience: cultures, laws and online behaviors.

That is why we have come up with a few things you should consider when it comes to launching your global marketing strategy; the reason being these will help you successful cater to the new audiences you hope to reach.

Going Cross-Culture

If you want to be a success across multiple cultures then you need to understand the cultural barriers that you and your business will need to overcome. Of course, a great place to start is having a website that has been translated into multiple languages because this will give you a huge advantage. However, the deeper you are able to delve when it comes to understanding other cultures the more you will able to tweak your strategy to meet the different nuances. As such, we recommend you learn from people in the target audience you are hoping to reach.

Different Laws

Every country – and often every region – has different regulations when it comes to products, marketing, and sales. As such, it is worth making sure you know the local regulations on all three of these fronts before you commit to launching your online campaign. To give you some more context, doing business in Russia will mean different product laws to doing business in America with regards to chemicals used, safety standards, packaging designs, language used and quality assurances. The same goes for advertising laws. While America is very relaxed on competitive messaging, places like Germany and Belgium have much stricter regulations.

Search Engine Needs

Choosing the right search engine, localizing content and understanding how keywords are interpreted; these are areas you need to give careful consideration to. Every region uses different search engines, so you need to know which is used by your target audience in every location you are launching in. Yes, Google has the top spot in English-speaking countries, but local markets tend to be best served by local search engines. Another thing to bear in mind is translations. It isn’t enough to just directly translate your content; you need to localize the messaging and the product to each market you are looking at serving. And let’s not forget the importance of knowing what the native keywords to use are.

Website Design

You may think you have got the perfect website in terms of design and user functionality and, yes, that may well be the case for your American market. But it doesn’t mean it will be for the Russian market. Simple things like the colors you use can have a completely different meaning because they are so deeply ingrained in cultures. White in the western world means marriage and purity, but in the Eastern world and Africa, it symbolizes mourning. That’s just the start as well. You’re social media accounts will need to be setup to adapt to the different languages too, while most of the customer services do’s and don’t will need to be addressed as well. You’ll also need to make sure that your users see the cost of something in their local currency and you’ll want to save yourself the headache of having text that can’t be translated in your graphics.

You Don’t Need To Be An Accounting Genius To Keep Business Costs Down

There are a lot of costs when running a business, no-one can deny that. The people, the tools, the processes, the products, they all cost money. It can become a tangled web where every cost has to be balanced precariously to fit a budget. However, if you’re having trouble with high costs, the solutions might not be all that complicated. There are a few practices to start putting in place across the board that can result in giving you a bit more balance to your budget.

cost1

Credit

There’s always another supplier

Every physical asset you bring into the business can likely be found elsewhere. In most cases, if you need an industry level of supply, then you want to go straight to the source. Instead of a commercial front, go to your supplier’s supplier. That might be the manufacturer themselves or their distributor in the company. For everything else, spend a little more time comparing prices across the board. Sites like DontPayFull.com are a good starting point to source different deals of assets of all kinds. From hardware to furniture, there is always more than one option to get the resources the business needs. Of course, for certain supplies like paper and printer ink, it’s a good idea to create a business account with a local supplier. Long-term relationships with suppliers often tend to lead to better deals and discounts over time.

Consider going outside the business

Not all costs are about the physical resources the business needs, either. A lot of spending will go to the work that has to be done itself. Not just the day-to-day tasks of facilitating the business and selling the products or carrying out the services that are central to the business. There are tertiary tasks, such as branding, marketing, creating a website, running an internal IT system and more. One of the issues that new business owners have is that they create new business roles for these tasks without considering how economical it is. Instead, it might make more sense to outsource for those tasks that won’t require ongoing effort from a full-time member of staff.

 

Hire smarter

Naturally, there are roles that have to be handled internally, as well. However, when it comes to cutting the costs of the people in the business, prevention is much better than having to scale down the number of employees in the business. By simply hiring smarter, you can save yourself the costs of excess staff. This means taking a fine-toothed comb to the different roles in the business. It might mean re-drawing the lines, accounting for new duties in existing roles and creating new roles only when the demand for duties can’t already be met by existing staff as MindTools.com suggests. In some cases, existing duties might be taken from current staff members if they can be fit into a position where they can be done more efficiently, as well.

 

Once you know the best ways to source resources and assets and how to handle labor, you’re being truly resourceful. Resourcefulness should always come before having to make any cuts. Hopefully, the tips above make it a lot easier to keep costs manageable in the business.

Are You Ready to Move into the Flexible Jobs Market?

2017 might be the year when flexible jobs explode. For many looking to wrest some control back over their working lives, this could be the year. Flexible jobs give people the ability to have more control over when and where they work. For some this means cutting down from full-time, 9 to 5, Monday to Friday working, while for others it means taking their job and moving it to the spare bedroom. Initial results are showing higher levels of job satisfaction and higher rates of engagement and productivity within the work itself.

Flexible Jobs with Potential

According to Forbes.com, there are 20 jobs above all others which are primed to be the top flexible jobs of 2017. These are:

  1. Statistician
  2. Product Manager
  3. Physical Therapy Assistant
  4. Operations Manager
  5. Operations Analyst
  6. Office Manager
  7. Occupational Therapy Assistant
  8. Nurse Practitioner
  9. Nurse – ICU
  10. Medical Director
  11. Information Security Analyst/Manager
  12. Genetic Counselor
  13. Front-End Developer
  14. Financial Analyst
  15. Data Scientist
  16. Client Services Coordinator
  17. Business Process Analyst
  18. Business Development
  19. Account Manager
  20. Account Executive

With 63% of employees believing the 8 hour work day will soon be a thing of the past, it is worth considering if flexible work is right for you. The main considerations are financial and practical. Can you afford to work less? And can your job be done from home? Or can it be shared? Then you have to see if your company is willing to enter into flexible working arrangements. Reduced work, for example suits those with savings, stable income from a partner, or a second job/side hustle to fall back on or build up. Those on low wages with financial insecurity cannot afford the less work option, but may be able to wrangle a work from home remote position if it improves productivity for your employer.

Can You Go 100% Flexible?

For the above, it is mostly about reconstructing or renegotiating jobs you are already in. For many, this is not an option. The first decade of the 20th century saw an explosion of jobs relating to the Internet. So far, the second decade has seen working patterns fracture and become more flexible with more jobs being related to servicing online needs or performing everyday business tasks and services online. The so-called gig economy has been around for a long time, but it seems more prevalent now and has allowed many people fired from work to instantly get back up on their feet and move forward with their lives. Instead of applying for a steady stream of jobs, many people are able to brainstorm how to turn their situation into a job or at least a steady income be it driving people around or delivering items.

Make no mistake, the flexible lifestyle of a freelancer can be stressful. You do have the ability to work when you want, as you want, but each gig is not always well paying, and they may be hard to obtain too. You need tremendous self-discipline and the ability to go out there and make things work for you. Furthermore, whether a freelancer or a remote worker, flexible work needs a lot of organization and an ability to ignore distractions. Strike the right balance, work hard, and it can be a very rewarding lifestyle.

Jenny Holt is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.