Devious Dealings: Handling An Errant Employee Properly

Providing a comprehensive security in your business isn’t just relegated to your IT infrastructure, you have to consider the human aspects too. There are some industries where this can be low down on the priority list. But, there are personal issues that are very difficult for a business to deal with. An errant employee, either one who isn’t pulling their weight, or is even committing fraudulent activities on site, is something that every entrepreneur and business owner can have a struggle with. Firstly, it reflects poorly on the business if any employee does anything to undermine the company, but also, dealing with the person can be a very sticky situation. So, generally, how can you deal with the person, but also, how can you make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

Astute Observation

For something like an employee committing fraudulent activities on site, you need to make sure you gather enough evidence. Nowadays, there are so many different approaches to collecting this data, there are companies like WesTec Services that provide video security, so you can see exactly what is going on. On top of this, if the offending employee knows how to cover their tracks, you may need to spend a lot more time developing more sophisticated ways to keep tabs. You have to be very careful when amassing evidence, because if you are accusing someone of something that they will flat out deny, whether it’s a criminal offence, or if it’s something relating to their personal attitude towards the work, you need to ensure that you can display this evidence clearly before progressing with any form of punishment or feedback.

The Punishment Matches The Crime

For something like criminal behavior, it’s more clear cut; it’s usually an instant dismissal. But when it comes to making sure that the person who isn’t pulling their weight in a business is adequately punished, this is where semantics is best discussed. Especially, with regards to HR rules and regulations, you need to make sure that you are developing the member of staff appropriately, and not punishing them needlessly. Learning and development, as well as constructive criticism are things that will help, but also, implementing specific deadlines can be something to ensure that they are taking the feedback seriously. This is why quarterly reviews and one-to-one sessions are so beneficial now.

Give A Clear Message

It’s a very overused sentiment, using someone else “as an example”, but it’s important that you give a message to the other members of staff who are going down this slippery slope. For something like criminal activity, an instant firing can give the right message to the employees, but for those employees who are underperforming, using someone as an example is certainly a great way to make sure all that other workers are performing to standard. In addition to this, this communicates to clients and people outside of the company that you have a handle on dealing with these types of employees appropriately.

It’s very difficult from the perspective of a business owner, because you have your own reputation as well as your business’s reputation to maintain. You don’t want these types of employees to show up your company, and this is why you have to have something in place that deals with these errant types effectively.

How to Get the Most out of Attending a Business Webinar

Webinars have become very popular with organizations and audiences of all kinds on virtually any subject you can imagine. Business webinars can be simply marketing channels for the people behind them, but many are informational and provide you a convenient learning tool for growing your own company. If you’ve never attended one, the information provided can become overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your next webinar.

Learn the Meeting Guidelines

After you’ve signed up for the webinar, you should receive a confirmation email wish all the details, particularly the time the event will take place and the URL link that you need to visit. Be sure to clear your calendar for the time and date required, test the URL to be certain it works, and check that you have any software that’s recommended. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little research of your own if it’s a subject that’s new to you.

Log in Early

It could be a good idea to visit the webinar about 10 minutes before it starts. That way you can make any adjustments you need to ensure you’re getting good audio and video. Also, some webinar hosts will hold a little Q&A session with audiences prior to the official start. This will give you a chance to introduce yourself and ask any questions you need to. Be sure to mute your phone and minimize distractions.

Take Notes

Taking notes is a good way to get more from any learning experience. Keep a notebook handy or a program like WordPad open in a separate window to quickly type things out, including any questions you might have, or resources suggested by the host. If you think something is important, it’s worth jotting down.

Be Part of the Experience

Although you might be busy keeping up and taking notes, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or answer them. Let the host know your thoughts on what you’re hearing. A webinar can be a place to not just learn something new, but spark further conversation and make some new online friends for example, if you’re an attorney looking to expand your practice, consider attending a free legal marketing webinar where making new contacts helps increase your name recognition and gain referrals

Behave!

If someone says something you consider rude or foolish, try to be tolerant of the opinions of others. Keep your own questions as brief and to the point as possible so you aren’t wasting everyone’s time. Thank the host for their hard work, and you may be remembered if you show up for other business webinars they hold.

With more organizations using webinars, you’re liable to find more events than you have time for. By following these tips, you stand to gain the most from each webinar you attend.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Let’s Talk About Communication

Almost every single problem in the office comes down to communication. Deadlines missed: communication. Unhappy clients: communication. No milk in the fridge: communication. For a species set apart by our incredible linguistic skills, we are pretty terrible at making ourselves understood.

In business, there is a lot of potential for communication to go horribly wrong. From the staff who simply don’t understand what you are asking from them to the clients who feel they can’t get in touch to discuss an issue, finding the best ways to improve communication isn’t just a good idea – communication is vital to your success.

Methods of Communication

Given how much we like to natter, it’s no wonder that there are so many methods for talking. However, choosing the right format and method could be the difference between stellar communication and pointless chitchat.

Clients like to have lots of different ways to get in touch with companies including social media, phone and email. This is why it is so important that you have fully capable business phone systems so that you can take every message and respond properly. The sooner you can respond with a positive action, the better.

Communication between staff is more difficult to regulate. However, there should be meetings to discuss things, emails to create a paper trail of actions to be taken and follow up messages to track progress.

The Importance of Listening Properly

While we all think we are very good at communication, one of the main things we tend to fail at is actually listening to what is being said back. We are so focused on saying what we need to say that we often forget that there are two people in a conversation. For clients and staff alike, listening is the best way to make sure that everyone is on the same page in order for problems to be solved well.

Listening is even more important when someone is complaining. People tend to complain for two reasons: either they want to solve the problem and improve things, or they want a long rant where you just apologise and they go away. In both instances, you need to be prepared to sit and listen until they have talked themselves out and then offer a solution to suit everyone. You can’t please everyone but you can listen.

Actions Speak Loudly Too

Once you have listened and you have some actions to take, you need to make sure that you do them. One of the most undermining things you can do is sit in a meeting looking all the world like the perfect communicator and then fail to do the things you said you would. The second part of communication is showing that you understood and getting on with it.

While communication will always be something of an ongoing battle and there will always be times when you struggle or misunderstand something, continuing to try different methods and show willing should at least be an improvement. Learn from every mistake or less than satisfactory outcome and you will see some excellent progress.

Clicks, Customers and Communication: Perfecting Your Business’s Online Presence

In a world where everything is now becoming downloadable and digital, it is now fundamental to have a business with a strong online presence. Many consumers won’t even consider investing their money in a business if you can’t find it online, read reviews or follow them on social media. If you’re new to running a business or aren’t sure how you can up your game in the virtual world there are several things you can do to make your company stand out from the crowd. From social media tactics to effective web design, these methods might seem time consuming and daunting at first, but they will truly help you to take your business to the next level.

Dazzling Designs

A website is the first go-to feature for building a strong online presence; your potential customers will head straight to your site and will want to see exactly what you can offer them. It needs to be speedy, slick and smart, so you might want to consider a company which can offer professional web design for seo. With SEO optimization and a stunning, eye-catching design your company will jump to the top of search engines and draw in a higher volume of potential consumers.

Advert Advantages

Online advertising is a must have if you want to be discovered on the web. Your brand name, service information and promotions can easily be displayed on the web using pay per click adverts. This is an extremely effective method of marketing as you don’t have to pay until someone physically clicks on your advert and visits your website. Set your own budget and assess how well it works for you; you might be able to increase this over time as your online presence and engagement increases. Within your advert you should include some form of enticing ‘free’ deal, where people input their email addresses into a form and receive a special offer. This will allow you to gather a collection of contacts which you can then target with email marketing campaigns. You get two birds with one stone, using a relatively low cost tactic.

Consumer Communication 

Make sure you’re actively engaging with your potential clients when they ask you questions about your product or services. You have the power to persuade them to spend their money, so don’t ignore their queries. Offer them five star customer service, using a friendly and welcoming approach either via social media messaging or online comments.

Build a Blog

Creating a blog for your website offers an additional online platform for your business. You can personify your business and create worthwhile content that customers will be excited to read. There is also the opportunity to collaborate with other companies by advertising their services on your blog or gaining a sponsorship, so that’s extra income in your pocket straight away.

It has been proven than businesses thrive when their online presence is authoritative, professional and engaging, so make sure you are using the tools that the online world has to offer. Your company name will be publicized, your business will skyrocket, your profits will increase and your consumers will be content.

Signs That Your Company Is Growing Faster Than You Can Manage It

Who wouldn’t love to grow their business? It usually means more attention, more profits and more ideas, but there will always come a point where you’ll realize that your business is actually growing faster than you can manage it. If you want to detect the early warning signs that your business is growing out of control so you can manage it better, then here are a couple of things to look out for.

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  1. Your infrastructure is starting to cost too much

If your basic business infrastructure, such as paying for cloud services and salaries, is costing you far too much of your budget, then there’s a good chance that you’ve started to outgrow what you can manage and you might need to start shuffling your money and removing expensive services like freelancers and outsourced work.

  1. You’re running out of space to grow

Physical space is another concern. You can easily run out of office space if you’re not careful and you’ll want to ensure that you always have extra space for new employees to work and storage space for your products.

  1. You’re hiring people far too often

If you find yourself hiring people for every little task, then there’s a good chance that you’re going to run out of money extremely quickly. You’ll need to start training employees instead of just hiring someone for every problem you encounter.

  1. You’re investing in things you know nothing about

Whether it’s a laser drill, networked devices or a powder coating booth as part of your manufacturing line, if your employees are asking you to invest in things you know nothing about then there’s a good chance you’re starting to grow beyond your knowledge. Regardless of if you’re planning on upgrading computers or adding a laser drilling service as part of your workflow, it’s a good idea to learn more info about it so that you better understand how it plays a part in your business. If you lack this knowledge, then consider speaking to your employees and having them explain it to you without technical jargon.

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  1. Your team is starting to grow further apart

Have you ever noticed that your team are starting to disagree on more things and work less together? If so, it’s a clear sign that your business is growing large enough to need separate departments that will rarely ever speak to each other. 

  1. You and your staff are lacking in direction

If you’re lacking a sense of direction and you’re unsure how to approach your business growth or adapt to new market conditions, then you need to be wary because you could start making poor decisions that affect your success in the future.

  1. Your employees aren’t growing anymore

Once your employees hit a wall, it can be difficult to overcome it and teach them new skills. This is a problem that can be overcome with professional training, or you might need to bite the bullet and hire more agile and flexible employees to replace them.

  1. You’re failing to communicate with your customers

Lastly, if you’re failing to communicate with your customers in a meaningful way then it’s possible you’re starting to grow too large for what you can handle.

How to Rebrand your Brand

Your brand is the first and foremost image of your product, and the perception of your company in the mind of everyone in your surrounding, be it your customers, investors or your competitors. It is implied that the brand image holds great value. However, this reputation is extremely fringe, and there is nothing more disastrous than the brand image is tarnished and caught in a controversy in this world of digital media.

It takes years to build a brand image and seconds to destroy it. Although, even if you find yourself in such turmoil, there are ways in which you can revive your brand and re-establish its image. So here are a few ways that you must consider while you are rebranding:

  1. Plan ahead – Planning everywhere is one of the most essential things in any aspect. If you have planned ahead of the effect of any such misfortune, it won’t be that damaging. You should prepare a backup strategy beforehand in order to cope with the ill effects of any such thing that happens. Once such event has occurred, you can imply the plan that you have made and refurbish the brand image gradually.
  2. Acknowledge the issue – The very first step that you are supposed to do after an unfortunate event is to take ownership of the event and acknowledge it publicly. If it was a mistake that you made, then you must issue an apology in order to state that there was a mistake and by issuing this apology we are accepting the responsibility for the error. This will lay a basic trust foundation for your rebuilding process.
  3. Let the dust settle – You must realize that once your mistake has turned up, it will be spoken upon a lot, and today’s social media sites are famous for making a huge mess of a smaller matter. Do not lose your calm. Just wait for some time and let the controversy mellow down a bit. Once people are done talking about it only then try to intervene, else the situation might turn even worse for the brand.
  4. Identify your allies – Even in the event of your brand image being spoilt, there will be a particular section of your customers, and some of your business partners, etc. who will stay along with you. Recognize these well-wishers and ask for their further help, as they will be one of those links which will spread positivity for your company using their means. Thank them and reward them suitably.
  5. Start the rebuilding process – You need to assure your customers that you care about them. Seek sympathy by telling your customers that mistakes do happen and that you are trying your level best to re-adjust for the error that occurred. You must deploy various strategies and tactics that will enable you to regain the lost trust. You can hire rebranding consultants as they are experienced in their field and will help you fare through.
  6. Share your progress – Once you are on the road to rebuilding your brand and you are engaging all sorts of strategies and tactics to regain that lost trust, a better idea would be to share your actions and corrective measures affluently. This way people will realize that you are working hard to gain back your reputation. They will be ready and more acceptable to the fact of giving you a second chance, which is all that you need.

Rebuilding your brand after a PR disaster is not an easy task to perform. You must have a positive mind throughout the process, and you must make sure that you will not lose hope and your patience. Slowly with time, you will see your brand is regaining its image and is flourishing, with your reputation rebuilding again.

Author Bio: Neil Quiddington is the Managing Director of Simplify Branding, a reputed branding agency in the UK. Neil is passionate about turning small and big businesses into successful brands, through innovative strategies and unswerving hard-work.​

Tech This Out: 10 Steps To Migrating Your Business Into The Digital Age

Whether your business is a new venture, or one that has been putting off the inevitable for some years, now is the time to take it into the digital arena. This opens up the door to quicker growth, increased profits, and greater stability. Frankly, that’s everything that any entrepreneur could shoot for.

If you’re going to make this transition, though, the migration needs to be smooth. It can be a daunting process, especially when you’re not a tech wizard. As long as you focus on each of the elements below, you should be just fine.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s turn your outdated venture into a modern business that’s set for years of success.

#1. Reaching Digital Audiences

The main incentive for transforming the business comes from the potential to sell products to a far larger customer base. With over 1.3 billion live websites on the internet, grabbing your fair share of the audience isn’t down to luck. You must know how to work for it.

Search engines are your greatest asset by far as most consumers will turn to Google when searching for a product. Meanwhile, a strong social media marketing strategy should stop the threat of customers scrolling on. Just remember that different demographics respond to varying ideas. Therefore, you must know your place in the market.

It’s also worth noting that the methods used for local marketing should vary from those aimed at reaching universal audiences. Show that you understand the needs of an online audience, and the migration will be far smoother.

#2. Handling Online Payments

Gaining interest from the online audiences is one thing, but converting it into a sale is another altogether. Due to the nature of digital business, obtaining their trust needs to be one of the top items on the agenda.

There are many contributing factors to consider. But ensuring that the clients are able to complete their purchases in a convenient manner is one that must be perfected instantly. The choice of ecommerce system is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Accepting as many payment types as possible is key.

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If the business plans to accept credit repayment plans, it must also run the necessary credit history checks. Letting money slip through the net due to bad debts is the last thing any entrepreneur needs. And if you do allow this to happen, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

#3. Using Modern Staffing Management

Moving into the modern business arena isn’t just about the way you interact with clients. The entire operational process can benefit from the introduction of advanced ideas. This is particularly evident when considering the recruitment and management of your team.

Every entrepreneur needs to be supported by productive employees. In today’s climate, it’s important to consider the benefits of outsourcing tasks to companies and freelancers. Or you can look to incorporate smarter recruitment methods when finding permanent on-site staff. The combination of those two ideas should work wonders.

Perhaps most importantly, communication and morale need to be maintained. Automated tracking and staff rewards should have a positive impact.

#4. Going Paperless

Turning your business into a digital operation allows you to bypass many problems. The ability to remove paperwork and physical filing systems is one of the most rewarding elements. This one step can save time, money, and space around the commercial properties.

First and foremost, you must look to improve the organization of anything related to the company’s finances. Investing in a new Accounts Payable system puts you in far better control of the firm’s accounts. However, you must learn to appreciate the importance of change management as well as the project management. After all, the human input is still central to the overall output.

Making the office spaces paperless isn’t just about the invoices and contract agreements. Your company handles many document types. Going digital enables quick access, even when you’re not in the office.

#5. Providing Digital Customer Care

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When thinking about the clients, your initial concerns revolve around the ability to gain their custom. In reality, as is the case with offline ventures, the key to sustained success comes from gaining their loyalty.

The lack of human interaction can encourage digital businesses to forget that consumers are still human. If anything, online interactions have an even greater need to be supported by great customer care. This can range from adding Live Chat to your website to providing telephone care and online FAQs. Either way, showing clients that your commitment doesn’t end with the sale is key.

It’s equally imperative to ensure that the company has established a fair returns policy. Removing any doubts can remove customer apprehensions. Crucially, it protects the company too.

#6. Protecting Your Assets

Avoiding the possibility of unnecessary returns is just the start of protecting assets on the digital platform. As part of the bid to provide a safe transaction, you should have invested in strong data protection. After all, one breach of data could bring long-lasting problems.

Once you become a digital business, intellectual theft becomes a far greater problem. The fact that you’ve reached a bigger audience means that your content could be seen by people that try to steal your ideas. Protecting your brand trademarks and innovative ideas is essential. Running a successful business is tough enough at the best of times. Allowing others to profit from your work is not an option.

There’s still a need to take care of physical assets, including your stock, particularly when you still run an offline store. Once again, though, digital tech and CCTV facilities are your greatest asset.

#7. Joining The Community

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The online community is simply massive, and your business needs to become a part of the conversation. Many entrepreneurs that are new to the digital arena assume that it’s them versus the world. While some companies are your direct competition, not everyone is an enemy.

It’s possible for two companies to share a similar audience without being in direct competition with each other. When this is the case, joint marketing ventures can pay dividends. Alternatively, sharing market insights can help both parties stay ahead of the crowd in their respective crowds. As a digital business, you must grab hold of every opportunity that comes your way. This is one of them.

On a separate note, you can embrace the community vibe by encouraging existing clients to spread the word. Testimonials, customer reviews, and referral schemes can all help the audience grow at a rapid rate. In most cases, this will be far more efficient than your marketing schemes too.

#8. Incorporating Time Savers

Time is the most valuable asset in any business venture. Embracing the digital arena to its full capabilities gives you the best chance of maximized efficiency. Investing in video conferencing systems can be a great starting point, as it removes the need for unnecessary travel.

It’s often worth choosing computerized systems to handle key business activities. From automated stock management to email marketing workflows, the time saved allows you to focus on other areas. If nothing else, reducing the threat of human error should provide a better customer experience.

Forms can also be used to save time during recruitment processes as well as customer interactions. Apart from saving time, it should make life a lot less stressful. In turn, this should promote greater clarity when making other crucial decisions.

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#9. Tailoring Your Operation

Every digital business is unique and should embrace its strengths to find the best route to success. However, it’s equally crucial to remember that those characteristics may need to be altered in some geographic locations. This is because cultural variances impact customer trends.

All customers need to feel comfortable. This is why you must understand the importance of presenting information in their natural language. Even if they can read English, many clients will prefer to use a website that’s easier to navigate. Besides, this step shows that you’ve actively thought about their needs.

With this in mind, many digital businesses find that hiring external help is the best way to branch out. Turn the company into a franchise, and the small profits in each new location will increase the overall takings without any extra work.

#10. Maintaining Offline Endeavors

Transforming your offline company into a digital one can take everything to the next level. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon the existing company model. If you’ve been making money from those traditional ideas, there’s nothing wrong with continuing them alongside the new ones.

In truth, the digital presence is likely to increase the company’s local presence. Still, printed marketing materials and promotional events can still play a positive role. If you make the transition to the digital playground without appreciating your old clients, they may feel alienated.

Besides, a company that achieves success on both platforms is sure to reach its goals far sooner. Given that this is the whole point of taking the venture online, this should all the incentive that you’ll ever need.