The Employment Process: 3 Things You Need To Know

If your small business has grown during the last twelve months, you might want to employ some staff members. That is a brilliant situation because it means your company is becoming successful. Of course, the employment process isn’t always easy. There are lots of things you could get wrong if you don’t have experience. For that reason, it’s vital that you get all the advice you can find. Today, I’m going to provide you with three things every entrepreneur needs to know. With a bit of luck, this information will assist you in avoiding mistakes and wasting time. So, put it to good use during the next couple of months.

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  • There are good and bad ways to advertise a vacancy

Firstly, I wanted to talk about how some entrepreneurs promote jobs. Many company bosses make the mistake of using government-run websites. That would be a brilliant idea if there weren’t so many unemployed people. When you use government sites, you will always receive applications from candidates who are unsuitable for the job. That is because the state forces out-of-work individuals to apply for roles to get their benefits. So, do yourself a favor and avoid those websites altogether. There are plenty of niche job boards you could use to achieve better outcomes.

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  • Your interview technique is important

As you receive applications, you will create a list of candidates you want to interview. That should include no more than ten people for the best results. After all, you don’t want to spend weeks trying to find someone to fill the role. When the interviews begin, you’ll have to think long and hard about your approach. The goal is to learn as much as possible about the individual. However, you can’t do that by just looking at their CV. You need to dig a little deeper if you want to make the right decisions. Ask the candidate about their hobbies and interests, and get to know them on a personal level.

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  • Lawyers should create employment contracts

There is no getting away from the fact that you require watertight employment contracts. In most instances, you will have to pay a lawyer to create those documents. Failure to do that could mean you get something wrong and end up in trouble. The files should contain information about job descriptions, salary, and responsibilities. You can then store them all using the latest enterprise contract management software. That is the best way to ensure the contracts are kept safe, and they are always to hand. You never know when you’ll have to refer to the document during the disciplinary process.

If you consider all those points when navigating the employment process, you should find it plain sailing. At the end of the day, there are specialists you can call for assistance at every step. If your think your interview skills require some work, just research the subject online. Many blogs like this one provide excellent advice that any entrepreneur could use. Whatever happens during the next few months, I sincerely hope your company continues to grow!

The Foremost Factors Of Any Transportation Company

When it comes to setting up a new business, there are many different kinds to choose from. One which is almost always likely to be a good idea, however, is that of transportation. There are certain kinds of business which are likely to always be needed by certain industries. Going for these kinds of business is therefore a relatively safe way to get started in the world of business. This makes them a good option for those who do not have much – or any – experience in running a business. Transportation is the perfect example of such a business. Of course, that doesn’t mean that running a transportation company is easy or straightforward. There is a lot to it, and you need to know as much as possible before you get started to ensure your success. Let’s have a look at some of the foremost factors of any transportation company. Here are your main considerations.

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Find Your Place

As we have seen, the major benefit of a company of this kind is that it is always going to be needed by someone or other. Of course, there is another side to that: you are likely to have a considerable amount of competition as well. Competition is not necessarily a problem as such, but it is definitely something that you want to consider and take on board as early as possible. Before you even get started, you need to decide on a location for your transportation business. In one respect, you might say that the location is not all that important for a business of this nature. After all, the main task is transportation. But the location of the depot does matter – and so too does the area that your business is likely to service. So how can you find the best possible location for your new transportation business?

Above all, you want to try and find somewhere that does not have too much in the way of competition. This can be hard to discern to begin with, but with a little research you should be able to find out a good location in your area before long. You want to try and place your business physically so that you are as likely as possible to get as many customers as you can. It might help if you draw your desired radius of operation on a map, and try from there to work out the ideal location for your depot. Wherever it ends up being, you want it somewhere neither too cluttered, nor too distant from anything else. You should be locatable, but not dwarfed by other, well-established businesses all around your depot. You would be surprised at just how important this kind of detail really can turn out to be.

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The Fleet

Regardless of what kind of transportation you are going to be involved in, you will need to get your hands on some vehicles. Finding your vehicles is one of the most important early stages of setting up a transportation business. You should endeavor to spend a lot of time on trying to find only the very best for your fleet. What you want to end up with is a fleet of trustworthy and well-maintained vehicles with a good history. If you can’t trust the vehicles that your colleagues will be driving, then you will find that you lose faith also in your business, so be sure to find the best vehicles that you can.

Where do you look for such vehicles? In general, it is a good idea to stay within the industry. Don’t go straight for private sellers offering incredible deals. More often than not, you will find that this results in poorer vehicles and a fast buck for them. Instead, look to reputable dealers whose reputation would be damaged if they sold you something of poor quality. You will need to make some executive decisions here regarding balancing your books and the quality of the transportation itself. But it is worth bearing in mind that the quality of the vehicles is something that will see your business through to the future, regardless of their short-term cost.

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It’s also hugely important that you do everything you can to keep your vehicles in proper working order. Being able to properly maintain them is a big part of running this kind of business. If you allow them to fall into disrepair, it causes a number of issues. For a start, it is not the most financially savvy move for your business to allow your most important assets to fall apart over time. But more importantly, you should not do anything to put your staff or clients at risk. So it is very important that you carry out regular checks on your vehicles, and give them everything they need to keep as good as new. When a vehicle has really had its day, don’t be afraid to replace it entirely with a brand new alternative. Look after your fleet; look after your business.

Staffing Levels

In any business, finding and keeping hold of the right staff, and the right numbers of staff, is always something of a challenge. For a business of this kind, it is no different – except that you need to make sure you are being pretty diligent with your recruitment process. You need to be very careful about the people you hire, not least because they are going to be driving your precious fleet and the cargo that you have chosen to transport in your company. You should be rigorous, put them through a lot of tests and so on, and make sure that you are hiring primarily for experience rather than motivation. As long as you are able to trust your employees, there is no limit to what you can achieve in your transportation business. But the moment that you don’t quite feel you can trust them, you will find that your business soon starts to fall apart. A strong recruitment is necessary, and so is a solid training program for all new members.

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Training is vital, because it ensures that you keep your employees in the right way from the very beginning. They need to know exactly what you expect of them and why, and this is the best way to get that information across without hassle. Training is not just for the start of employment, either – you should try to re-train your employees every now and then (about every six to eight months) just to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep them at their best. Get the staffing right, and you will have much more faith in your new business – the team themselves are the core of any business.

Safety

As an employer, you have something of a moral and legal duty to keep your employees as safe as possible at all times. For a lot of transportation businesses, safety is going to be hugely important. Clearly, for drivers in particular it is important that safety is given the status it deserves. The most beneficial way to approach this topic in your business is to have clear, defined rules that everyone knows they should follow. These rules should be clear to all, available to view or read at any time, and they should make sense to everybody. You should also try to encourage in your employees a sense of individual responsibility. At the end of the day, everybody is responsible for their own safety. Make sure everyone understands that, and it is much more likely that your employees will enjoy their work in safety.

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It’s just as important that your workers know their rights, should there be an accident of some kind. Whenever anyone in your employ suffers an injury as a result of a truck accident on the road, they have the right to contact a truck accident attorney. They also have the right to time off with sick pay – but how much should be delineated in your rules and regulations. It is vital that you allow your employees everything they are entitled to, otherwise they might not be quite so pleased, and before long you could find yourself in a much less reputable position with your employees. Safety ensures that you are taking care of everyone in your business, so this really cannot be overlooked.

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Licensing & Insurance

There are always certain legal procedures that any business needs to follow, and yours is going to be no different. For a transportation business, some of the most important regulations and laws are licensing and insurance. You need to have a license to carry out the kind of business you are engaged in – as a business and individually. You also need to make sure that every single person in your company is insured to drive. If they are not, you will find that your business gets into some very big trouble very fast. But as long as you have this satisfied, your business will be able to continue trading for as long as you like. And that is what you are likely to aim for in the early days of your business.

How To Keep Your Employees Safe

The people that work for you are your greatest resource. They are more versatile, creative and productive than any other aspect of a small business. As great as technology is, its intelligence is still artificial and many supposed smart systems actually just use brute force in the form of processing power to solve problems that humans require a great deal less work and energy to figure out. Besides, computers cannot come up with new ideas or offer the sort of professional and personal support that makes an office a productive, successful environment. That is not to say that computers are not useful, it is just that they are a tool rather than the core of your business. With this in mind, it is apropos to consider how you, as the business owner, can best protect the people that work for you. This concern is obviously of a moral character, but it is also has a more practical, possibly cynical, component. That is that if someone is injured on your property, you could be liable. Lawsuits are expensive. When you win, you still have to pay all of your legal fees. This is why it is important to invest in professional liability insurance. However, prevention is better than the cure in this case too. Here are a few ways that you can help ensure that your office is a safe, happy environment that is not a threat to the people who work there:

You may not give much thought to the value and usefulness of electricity until it is not available, but it is also quite dangerous. With the average volts running through the sockets in your building being 110 to 120, it is imperative that the system is properly maintained. A shock from 120 volts is exceptionally serious and can kill. As a responsible employer, you should make sure that you regularly invest in rcd testing. This refers to a residual current device which prevents accidents from occurring by detecting and disconnecting the power to your system. However, it is not just the electronic aspects of your building that you need to worry about. The threat of fire is quite serious, not only to you and your employees, but also to the continued viability of your business. You should also consider investing in commercial property insurance, as it will also cover you in the event of flooding, burst pipes, storms and subsidence theft. However, to make sure that these things never happen and that your insurance remains just a useful salve for your peace of mind, you should learn about the fire codes in your area and ensure that your business is compliant. If you do have a fire break out and your office is destroyed, you may get all of the money back, but the time and stress involved in rebuilding is simply not worth it.

Not every threat is so concrete though. A strong, dynamic HR department is crucial if you are going to ensure that your employees feel safe while at work. A lot of cases have been coming to light recently that involve charges of discrimination or other types of abuse. These are not only reprehensible, they can also be expensive. Ensuring that these things don’t happen in your office is a matter of communication.

The Little Things That Make A Big Difference

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Every small business we have ever spoken to has wanted to grow into something bigger. But the common denominator in all of this has been money. Small business owners believe they need money to grow because growing can only spout from big movements, like opening up in a new location or licensing a product or offering their business as a franchise; all of which requires a lot of funds.

However, there are ways you can grow your small business into something bigger without spending a ton of cash you maybe don’t have. What’s more, we have gone and done the legwork for you and come up with a few ideas for you to really sink your teeth into.

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Make Your Business More Simple

A lot of small business owners try and spread their risk by offering a wide range of products or service. The thinking behind this is logical; the more you offer the better chance you have of hooking a customer. But the reality is somewhat different. As such, it may be time you scrutinized your business and stopped selling anything that is turning over a profit and anything that is proving hard to sell.

Organize Yourself Better

This can mean a variety of things, but the more you do to be organized, the more efficient you will be and, well, time is money. Perhaps you could rearrange your shop so that it is less cluttered and more helpful to shoppers. Maybe it is time you learned how to create an organizational chart instead of sticking post-it notes all over your office walls. It could simply be a matter of tidying up your desk and buying a filing cabinet. The easier you make your operations the better your chances of growing.

Try Delegation For A Change

All small business leaders believe they need to do everything. It is as if they don’t trust the people they employed to do a certain task to do that task as well as them. Perhaps you are right. But there will be certain things that you do that increases revenue and other things that have no impact at all. As such, concentrate your efforts on the tasks that help your revenue and delegate everything else.

Give Your Employees Freedom

One of the most successful methods of improving your success is to allow your employees to take responsibility for their work. That means letting them set their own goals and the strategies to reach these goals. You will find that they are determined to achieve the desired the results as a way of rewarding your trust and allowing them some independence.

Value Your Employees

All too many employers believe that their employees are motivated by money. However, studies show that this is only eighth on the list. The feeling of being appreciated, working in a friendly environment and the chance to enjoy a good work/life balance are the top three things that will see their productivity increase, and thus your growth. So tailor your motivational methods to meet your employees needs.

 

 

 

 

5 Social Media Security Risks for Your Business

People love social media. Social networks provide limitless opportunities to have fun and communicate with other people. Unfortunately, social media has also become the focus of an increasing number of cyber attacks. Knowing that so many employees use social media while at work, hackers have had success attacking companies by compromising their data and harming their reputation.

Although cybercriminals routinely infiltrate popular social networks with fake accounts and malicious software, social media users often represent their most valuable asset. Regardless, you must accept responsibility to secure your company from all online threats. Learn about the following five social media security concerns so you can improve your business’ security.

1. Information Leakage

Employees can choose to use the same social media platforms at work that they use at home. Using familiar tools and a familiar interface in order to work together and share files makes sense to many employees. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, however, can convey a false sense of intimacy that can result in the sharing of sensitive information that businesses owners and managers would prefer to keep secure.

Sharing and chatting on social media for business can cause substantial damage to organizations, especially when personal accounts are used. Social media sites do not have the same security features, such as access control, that project management software has. As a result, information shared on social media can often fall into the hands of distant “friends of friends” or public users who can attempt to profit from it.

If your company wants to prevent information leakage, it must implement and enforce acceptable use policies that prohibit the use of social media for internal business processes. Such a simple precaution can prevent the loss of trade secrets and reputation damage. Similarly, businesses should also enact guidelines and provide tools that encourage communications and file sharing using secure tools.

2. Social Scams and Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks use messages that appear to originate from a familiar person. Users believe they can trust the sender and open the messages, allowing hackers, scammers and other malicious users to obtain login credentials for various websites, including social networks. The scammers use those credentials to gain access to victims’ accounts and then attack more people by sending them spurious messages with enticing subject lines.

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Social platforms saw the number of phishing attacks on their users more than double in 2015. Hackers use the compromised accounts to post scams that install malware or perform other nefarious tasks. These cyber criminals can then direct their efforts at your company by attacking your customers or by impersonating your customer service agents. Some scams can offer long-term reputation damage and also compromise confidential information.

3. Malicious Apps

So-called “bring your own device” policies in the workplace have opened the door to business data networks via malicious software. This type of attack works because companies often have insufficient control over employee-owned devices. Although cyber criminals have had limited success with virus distribution via social media, they can easily hack the smartphone social media apps, converting them to act as gateways to your network and the data it hosts.

4. Malware Attacks and Hacks

Malware can enter business networks via social media sites and thereby give hackers access to customer and trade data. Malware can also modify user information and corrupt databases to deny employees access to vital applications and data.

Sometimes cybercriminals post security disinformation online and thereby mislead social media users into compromising their accounts. As a result, well-meaning employees can unwittingly release confidential information and harm the reputation of your firm.

5. Uneducated Employees 

Employees continue to rank near the top of business security threats. Dissatisfied workers who have access to vital business secrets can post sensitive information to social media and thereby cause irreparable damage to your company. When employees get bored or want to get revenge on a co-worker, they also can, for either fun or spite, release inappropriate information via social media sites without understanding the repercussions of their behavior.

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Employees who have never been educated and trained in proper security practices can easily click on phishing links or reveal information to a fake social media account without realizing that they have compromised security.

Get the best protection for your business by training your entire labor force to understand the importance of data security. As part of the process, make sure either you or your IT manager teaches your employees how to recognize malware, malicious applications, phishing attacks and other social-media-based threats. You should also prohibit your employees from using unauthorized software to do their job.

Recognizing the above five social media security threats will boost your awareness of threats that can harm your business. The online landscape continually changes, so you should monitor technology news to stay forward of new cybersecurity developments. You should also ensure that you have the latest internet security software installed on your workstations as well as on employee-owned devices.

Educating yourself and your staff will continue to play a vital role in securing your business. Begin the process by publishing guidelines for the use of social media in your company and holding periodic training sessions that help employees recognize threats. Taking control over social media in your biz will do much to safeguard your company’s data and your brand.

Author byline:

Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money. Find him on Twitter @josh8mcallister

Why the Internet of Things is for Your Business not just Your Home

Businesses should be looking to exploit the interconnected world in which we live. Thanks to the Internet of Things, or IoT for sure, many homeowners have thought about an interconnected home where devices talk to one another and can be controlled remotely by those with access to the system. These include turning lights on and off, opening the garage door or preheating the oven en route home. Smart businesses have not only got on the act in terms of creating and selling IoT products, but exploiting this technology for the benefit of their own businesses. In a world of integrated devices, it’s never been easier to grow a dynamic, responsive business.

Integrated Work Spaces

As we’ll explore below, some businesses can work purely online with no physical presence. However, many businesses from retail to manufacturing need a physical bricks and mortar presence. The IoT is perfect for creating smarter workspaces by allowing businesses to better control lighting and heating for example. This includes creating fake nighttime lighting programmes to give the appearance of the offices being used or more focused security lighting.

Integrating Diverse Employees

Many service and some product-based companies can actually work purely online now. The IoT allows for companies to design or access online work platforms such as Slack or Trello as well as communication tools like Skype. The former allows businesses to build a range of chat channels and personal conversations, Trello is a pinboard for tasks and checklists, and Skype is the most famous chat and video conferencing app. Information can also be shared using cloud storage services which allow for a need to know access to particular photos, files or data across a wide range of devices and locations. In doing so, if well organized, the data flows better across verticals and separate work groups and divisions. If you know the term, Big Data, then this is how it was accrued – services and products can send real-time data back while it is easier for separate departments to access and process the said data then share their results across the company.

The Flexibility to Expand or Contract

Not all of the staff accessing the above IoT applications need to be full-timers. Access can easily be gained or removed on a needs basis. Furthermore, there are a huge number of gig and freelance websites and services such as UpWork, which allow businesses to quickly sale up with new PAs, new writers, designers, delivery drivers, and sales reps as needed. Each freelancer takes care of their own financial arrangements, and as work is paid on an item by item or hour by hour basis, if there is no work needing to be done, there is no expenditure for the business.

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.

3 Tips for More Workplace Efficiency

How efficient are your employees when you stop to think about it? As a business owner, you want to get the most out of your employees when it comes to efficiency in the workplace.

Sure, most of your employees likely give you a good day’s work by the time they leave the office each day, but could they be even more efficient? If so, what tools and resources would you need to prove them with to accomplish this?

If your business could be more efficient when all is said and done, will you move now to make that happen? If the answer is yes, what will it take in terms of time, effort, even money to accomplish this?

Always Be Thinking Ahead

So that you are able to have the most efficient workplace possible, take note of the following tips:

  1. Your employees

First and foremost, you have to make sure you are hiring the cream of the crop as it relates to your workers.

No matter what role or roles each individual you hire will be responsible for, you can’t afford to be hiring employees who are not team players. They also have to be willing to provide input as to how best to get the job the done.

Although you hire managers (maybe even yourself) to guide your workers, those employees should be encouraged to speak up on what is and is not working.

Finally, be sure that have regular company meetings to discuss efficiency in the workplace. You should even have a suggestion box, one where employees can anonymously leave suggestions on how to improve the flow of work.

  1. Your tools

As great as an employee might turn out to be after you hire them, he or she will require some tools and resources to actually accomplish all of the goals (and more) that you want from them.

That being the case, look at the tools you are providing your workers, reviewing to see where some deficiencies might be. Once they’re found, do you quickly correct them or let them linger?

In order to be a successful business, doing the former is a much better way to see your sales revenue increase over time.

Such tools as audio dictation for better workplace efficiency, video conferencing, credit card readers for sales out in the field etc. can all benefit your employees and your brand. Each of these (and many other tools) assists your employees in being more efficient and ultimately more productive.

Most importantly, be sure that each tool you bring in to your company is thoroughly vetted; meaning of course the respective vendor is too.

You do not want all kinds of hassles with each and any tool you use, hassles that can slow down your company’s ability to efficiently serve customers.

Do You Offer a Winning Workplace Atmosphere?

  1. Your rules

Last but certainly not least, what kind of workplace atmosphere do you offer your workers?

When employees come to work energized and ready to roll up their sleeves, you are much more inclined to get a productive day out of each and every one of them.

Yes, some you hire simply will not pan out over time, so don’t be shocked and/or disappointed when this happens. If you hire dozens and dozens of employees even over just a couple of years, you are going to hit a few bumps in the road along the way.

The most important factor here is making sure that you offer a workplace that is conducive to both business production and career satisfaction.

As employees see a chance for themselves to grow within your business, many of them will take full advantage of such opportunities.

Instead of a workplace that feels like a grind each day, most will view it as an opportunity to succeed professionally and personally.

In turn, you field a much more efficient workplace.

As a business owner and/or manager, how are you striving for workplace efficiency within your company?

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.