The Value Of Specialists To A Business

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Society and business alike have been united in recent years in applauding the “self-made” and the “hustler” – the one-man bands that do a little bit of everything in their business to keep costs low and streamline processes. There is, for sure, an advantage to knowing a bit about everything; as a boss, it will make you a more assiduous hirer and hopefully a better decision-maker. However, there can be no doubt that the “jack of all trades” can swiftly be shown up as a “master of none” in times of need.

The existence of specialists – experts who zone in on one specific aspect of one specific sector – is essential, even if some people question the benefit of experts. Whether you are a business owner looking to make the right choices, or a job-hunter looking for a way to make themselves more employable, the following examples are all reasons why specialists are vital in the modern business world.

Experts don’t need to listen to explanations

There are countless doctors in the world, but the number of expert cardiologists is significantly smaller, because qualifying in a speciality takes longer and requires more specialized knowledge. However, you’re going to be in much better hands if you have a heart issue and go to see a cardiologist – because they eat, sleep and breathe their speciality. Similarly, if you’re working in the oil and gas industry, you could hire just any accountant or someone qualified by the likes of Copas.org who specializes in your sector – the former will be easier to find, but the latter will have an innate knowledge of what your business entails, and will work quicker due to that knowledge.

Specialists make everyone around them smarter

If you hire a generally talented individual in your business, then they will be beneficial in their role, and they’ll get a lot done. However, when they go away not only have you lost their skills; you will also have missed out on the additional knowledge a specialist can impart to those who remain behind. Any business, to operate well, needs a combination of versatile generalists and specialists who zone in on an X Factor. Think of it like a sports team; there will always be the team players who no team can do without, but they will all be elevated to another level by an expert who specializes in penalty kicks or three-point shots. Not only do they bring their special talent, but they can pass on tricks of their trade.

You can hire a specialist whenever you need one

Without a doubt, it could be seen as an extravagance for your business to have a real estate attorney on the payroll if you’re not a realtor; or to employ a structural engineer if you’re not in construction. Those kinds of hires would only make sense for the biggest, wealthiest companies. However, specialists will mostly work on a contracted, for-hire basis. It is easier to carry a leaner staff, and then hire a specialist when they are needed, than it is to cover all bases “just in case”.

The benefits of hiring a specialist are clear; and if you are considering a specialist career for yourself, it’s worth knowing that your skills will always be in demand.

Reducing the Stigma of Trade Careers

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When you think of a successful career, what jumps to mind? An engineer? A doctor? A lawyer?

What if you were told that not all successful careers needed multiple years of education? Here’s the honest truth: you can get paid incredibly well at careers that don’t need a lot of education and experience. 

The trades, typically more manual positions, include electricians, plumbers, mechanics, medical imaging positions, law enforcement, and cosmetologists, just to name a few. While each of these requires specialized training, the cost and time associated with each are much less than that of a more traditionally “successful” career. Don’t automatically assume that you won’t be fulfilled with these positions, either!

It often takes decades to become a partner at a law firm, as an example, but with just a few years under your belt, you could be running your own electrician or plumbing company, and spend less time working than many people who go to school for 8+ years to earn their degree. You can earn good pay while also being fulfilled by running an entire business – that’s nothing to scoff at. 

So, if the pay is good, why is there a stigma about trades? 

People often assume that if you’re working in a trade or specialized position that your job has long hours, is dirty, and unfulfilling. Why is this? Honestly, a lot of it has to do with a lack of information regarding those positions, lack of exposure to these positions, as well as old stereotypes that aren’t true. 

According to a survey done by The Manufacturing Institute, 52% of all teenagers aren’t interested in the trades as a career path, and of those teenagers, 61% perceived manufacturing careers as dirty and taking place in dangerous places.

When you work in a machine shop, for example, the idea is that there are piles of old rusty metal just sitting in corners. Not true. In reality, a successful machine shop is well-lit, clean, and employees wear appropriate protective clothing and gear, including hearing protection. 

In the end, there is just a clear lack of information so kids don’t enter into these positions even though they are often high-paying, good careers.

If you’re looking to change up your dead-end career or thinking about what it would take to switch into a trade position, consider what you find enjoyment in. If you like trouble-shooting and working with your hands, something like an electrician would be an ideal position for you. ABC Heart of America has an electrician apprenticeship program that can put you on the right pathway to get your career started. If you’re looking for a more creative or artistic position, going in to cosmetology might be an option worth looking in to. 

A 4-year college tuition, which doesn’t guarantee a job, runs around $40,000 dollars, while a trade school is much closer to $10,000, and offers a higher chance of being put into a job immediately. Some trade schools will go so far as to place you in a position directly. 

While trade schools and careers don’t get a lot of the limelight, you can have a successful, well-paying, fulfilling position in a trade career.

3 Keys Spends For Your Small Business

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When you run your own small business you will no doubt be facing daily challenges around your costs and profits. Every business owner would like to reduce their outgoings, but today we want to flag a few areas that are worth investing in, these are 3 key spends for your small business.

Invest in your team

Investing in your team is one of the most powerful investments that your business can make. 

The first thing you will need to invest in is in hiring the best possible people to work with you. Finding the right person to fit in with your existing operation can be challenging and it can take a fair bit of time and money. You will need to feel confident that the applicant has the right skills and personality for your team and you will then need to ensure that you have put adequate training in place for them.

Training is key for all of your team, and you can choose to do this yourself or you might like to bring in outside trainers or send your staff out on appropriate courses. When all of your team members are well trained they are likely to be more effective, more productive and more confident in their roles. This should in turn free up your time, reduce any customer complaints and increase your business turnover. 

It is also worth spending the time and money training, coaching and rewarding your team to improve your staff retention and motivation. Take the time to recognize good work and behaviors to boost morale. 

Work closely with providers and suppliers

Few businesses can operate effectively in isolation. Most of us need to work closely with other providers and suppliers and spend wisely with them.

For example, your business might want to look into working with a good range of food suppliers such as umami foods along with local distribution centers and fleet management companies. You will be looking to strike that balance between getting the best deal at a price that you are happy with and forging a reliable and professional relationship with all providers so that you can trust that they will not let your business down.

It can be tempting to look for the lowest costs at every turn, and this can be an easy but costly mistake that startup businesses make. On occasion the cheapest might also be the best in the market, but do ensure that you are checking their dependability and service levels too.

Spread the word about all that you do

When you start your business, you are going to need to let people know about it and you must spread the word about all that you do. 

Your business marketing costs could vary hugely as there are so many ways that you could choose to promote your business. It is worth trying a few of the more cost effective options first and then finding out what works best for you. 

As a minimum, you are going to want to invest in a professional and user friendly website, utilize social media effectively and if you have premises, order some suitable signage.

It’s Vital You Reach Your Proper Audience

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Businesses, online initiatives, for-profit and non-profit efforts alike should always understand that they cannot operate without people. Unfortunately, for many of us, this is becoming a sad and rather worrying reality as of the time of this writing. Yet it’s true that at any other time of year, a business needs to find its audience. It needs to understand them, and then properly connect with them. Then, it needs to sustain its connection.

But how can you find your proper audience, and reach them appropriately? After all, it’s best not to limit yourself. A forty-year-old bricklayer may be just as interested in learning to ballet dance as a young girl just starting middle school may be. Of course, we cannot directly market to the outliers, but we can decide to complexify our reach so that we can be found to those who wish to find us, and vice versa.

So, how can you reach your proper audience? In a world where everyone is connected, things can seem too crowded to gain a worthwhile result here. But that’s not necessarily true, and we hope to explore that in the following advice: 

Correct & Worthwhile Promotion

We must promote with a message that resonates with those who are likely to hear it, and those who you intend to hear it. A certain kind of cadence in language, or verbose texture of words, or imagery, or snappy witticism, all of this can help you bring in a young audience. For middle-aged or elderly clients, a more professional, or warm and welcoming tone may be used. Format is not the only influence here, correct form should also be composed in the right way. This includes everything, from the written word to the 

Use The Right Platforms

Use the right platforms to promote your message. Think about how your audience comes about marketing material in their everyday life. Sometimes, you may wish to reach an audience in a highly specific market, such as advertising on a website fully dedicated to the coverage of Nintendo and their product offerings. Sometimes, you may wish to advertise more broadly, yet still ensure that the audience is discerning in the content they listen to and pay for, for instance, learning how to advertise on SiriusXM can be a great starting point there. Finding the right platform for your promotion is at least half the battle, if not more.

Stay Confident & Consistent

Tepid or worried marketing is not good marketing. We need to be consistent and confident in our approach. This means branding well using high quality outsourced graphic designers or jingle producers. It means theming all of our social media pages in collaboration with the marketing campaign we’re running. It also means measuring our interactions and engagement to ensure that we know we’re hitting the right marks, because this can instruct our next campaign. When so much money is on the line, no half measures should be accepted.

With this advice, we hope you can reach your proper audience as is vital in any industry.

Ensuring You Retain Your Top Talent

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Top talent is hard to come by. While low-skilled or introductory workers are appreciated and can be trained in your ways, potentially even rising the ranks to the very top of your business, it can also be worthwhile to hire the very cream of the crop from time to time, as even regular consulting from individuals like this will have its limits.

No matter if you’re looking for new managers, or a new head of department, it’s important to note only learn how to appeal to them, but also to retain them. After all, headhunters are paid hefty sums of money in the corporate world to seek out talent to bring onside, largely for the same reasons you found them in the first place, only now they have been fully invested in on your behalf.

So, how do you convince someone to stay, but not as a bribe, rather as a forgone and natural conclusion? Perhaps following this effort can help all of our staff members feel satisfied in our roles. With that being said, please consider the following advice:

Worthwhile Incentives

No matter how worthwhile life is at our firm, you can bet that if the offer of a much greater sum of money is given to our best professionals, they will have little choice but to move. They have their families to think about, after all, and while it can seem as though the quality of life of an employee is very high thanks to a high salary, their living conditions and requisite bills will also go up. But more than that, it’s important to offer a more comprehensive and satisfying work experience, with incentives that make sense, and aren’t used as simple bribes. Click here to see the best thinking on this topic by far.

Responsibility

It’s true that your higher-ups will be more involved in your firm to begin with, but some firms do struggle to actually use top talent where they can, in the best possible way. Structuring responsibility in this vital context can be very important, then, because we need top talent to feel as though they have influence, and ability, and that their voice is valued. Otherwise, they are liable to become bored and leave. Think of how someone at the peak of their career would wish to operate. They wish to exercise their skills and improve. For that reason, opening a more collaborative environment between qualified individuals is an essential component of any excellent business path.

Innovation & High Standards

While you needn’t be the most innovative firm to attract top talent, it’s important to ensure that you keep up with the cutting edge of research, and that you push for the highest standards you can. We must always seek to improve. If top talent cannot be at the forefront of the industry, they will certainly feel satisfied helping build a firm to be better, and to reach higher and higher without losing sight of its primary vision. 

With this advice, we hope you can retain your top talent effectively.

Key Ways to Use Technology to your Company’s Advantage

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In technology, if you aren’t making progress, you’ve already fallen behind. Technology evolves rapidly, and things that were keystone a decade ago are quite outdated today. (Just take a look at some of the old photos you took with your phone 4 years ago, let alone a decade!) So, what are some ways to make sure that you’re using technology to the best of your company’s abilities?

Stay one step ahead of the competition

Frank Abagnale is a man best known for his con artist skills by masquerading as an expert in multiple fields.  When he was finally questioned as to how he got away with pretending to be a sociology professor, his answer was simple, “All I had to do was read one chapter ahead of the students.” This might sound trite, but it’s a very useful perspective. Stay one step ahead of your competition, and you can be an expert in your own field. Sure, a single step is not always enough, but it certainly beats being behind your potential competition. It also is a great reminder to work forward and to not get caught up in perfect and thus sacrifice any progress. 

Don’t assume your clients know what they want

This might sound a little presumptive, but listen to your clients, then make decisions for them.

In a SAAS company, for example, it can be easy for customers to say what they think they want, but many times those are just past behaviors that could be simplified or changed. 

If you are part of a technology company, your customers are relying on you to simplify their workday or lifestyle, even if it means not giving them exactly what they ask for. 

Think about this: when address and phone books were first created and utilized, it was because people had a specific need. They needed a way to quickly reference a phone number that they would then dial in manually. 

Now, if you were to ask someone before cell phones existed how to use a cell phone, they’d likely have typed in each individual number, not scrolled to a name and pressed “call.” It is up to you to improve things by being innovative.

Think outside the box

When something is done over and over again in the same manner, it’s ingrained. It just becomes second-nature. Forward-thinking technology companies should not just be re-creating what is accomplished without technology but using it to drastically change how it’s being done. Don’t rely on your customers to know what they need. Instead, be there to hear their concerns and challenges, and then create better ways to accomplish those tasks.

Recently, Chaucer, a (re)insurance company focused on providing specialized underwriters, paired with Artificial, a company that uses AI products to deliver great insurance experiences for commercial insurance companies. Together, Artificial and Chaucer are working towards delivering superior underwriting services while relying on up-to-date machine-learning technology. 

At first glance, this might sound risky, but thinking outside of the box is one of the ways that companies can succeed. Taking risks is at the heart of innovative and successful companies.

Nine Times You May Need an Attorney in the Workplace

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We all know we need an attorney when we get divorced, or if we’re accused of committing a crime, and we tend to overlook the daily legal disputes taking place around work. Here are nine times you may need an attorney in the workplace:

  1. Workplace Safety: if you injure yourself or someone else at work, you may well need an attorney’s advice. Check your employer (or your business) is appropriately insured. If you own a business and someone gets injured, you may well need legal advice. You could also seek legal advice before getting insurance to ensure you have the maximum cover.
  2. Unlawful Dismissal: this could be for any number of things; it could be related to inequality, sexual harassment, or several other things. If you are unsure whether your termination is lawful or not, see an attorney
  3. Equality Rights: equality covers a vast array of things from gender to sexuality to a disability, and of course, race. If you feel like you’ve been unfairly discriminated against at work, don’t take it lying down, get some legal advice, and fight back. 
  4. On Social Media: with the onslaught of workplaces utilizing personal social media accounts to check out staff, there have never been more legal cases involving your favorite social network site. Make sure your accounts are set to private if you don’t want them accessible to your employer. And be very careful if you have your boss on your friends list. Only put out professional content if you’re using a public profile—nothing you wouldn’t want an employer or client to see.
  5. Labor Union Activities: if you are involved in labor union activities, you may well end up needing legal aid. Labor unions are notorious in legal history for the number of lawsuits surrounding them. Check out your union’s policies and don’t get involved in anything that may jeopardize your job. 
  6. Maternity and Childcare Debates: there are still a surprising number of cases involving an employer’s actions towards pregnancy and childcare. Know your rights and ask an attorney to help you fight for them. Dads included!
  7. Privacy Invasion: you have a legitimate case against your employer, or even a colleague if your right to privacy has been violated. That includes on the internet or even your handbag. 
  8. Sexual harassment: you can experience sexual harassment, whether you’re male, female, nonbinary, old, young, or bright blue. It is never ok, and you don’t have to live with it. Find an attorney and put your foot down.
  9. Contractual Arguments: we all sign legal contracts when we take a job, but how aware are you of your rights regarding that contract? Make sure your contract is fair and lawful. Any good contract attorney can help you here. You can find specialists at firms like Boppre Law Firm who can help you negotiate the best contract, or smooth the waters through any contract-based disputes. 

Make sure you know what your rights are and stand up for them when they’re abused. If you do get into a legal dispute at work, don’t panic. Call your attorney and let them help you.

Tips To Help Improve Your Website

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Improving your website is an important part of growing your business because so many of us are spending more time online. And with so much potential reach out there that could translate into customers, you should be taking full advantage of this where possible. Here are some tips to help improve your website.

Utilize Call To Action

A call to action is where you provide an opportunity for your reader to do something. That could be commenting on an article or clicking on a link to take them to another part of the website that needs more traffic. It’s basically asking them a question, and they are choosing whether to answer it or not. Having more of these calls to action on your website can help with engagement and to give your readers an opportunity to make themselves more known to you as a company. It also helps you learn more about your readers so that you can tailor your website even more to suit them. So try and utilize the call to action option where you can.

Make It Mobile Friendly

When it comes to your website, there’s a number of things you can do to improve its functionality, but the main thing you want to focus on is how mobile-friendly it is. As more people hop online, more tend to use their mobile phones than anything else and so a website that doesn’t function well on a phone isn’t going to be great for business. If text is too small or buttons don’t function the way they’re supposed to, you’ll likely have more of your audience switching off out of boredom or frustration. Seek feedback from your audience about the response on phones as they can be different depending on the type of phone they own. It can be good to know so you can do what you can to improve it. You might want to look into app developers to see if an app version of your website is more appropriate.

Improve The SEO

Search engine optimization is important to get your website out there and ranked high on search engines which will essentially bring more traffic to you. There are lots of basic SEO practices that you can do like compressing images and just creating good content for your website. However, it might also be worth getting in the experts to take over management of this as it can tend to be a job that might take up a lot of time.

Fix Broken Links And Functions

And finally, try to fix any broken links and functions on your website when you spot them because it can be highly frustrating when you have new users going onto your website for the first time. Try to make it a regular thing that you check on so that it doesn’t start piling up and your website loses its ranking.

Improving your website takes time and effort on your part as a business, so implement the changes to make sure you’re making the best of it for your company.

4 Tips For Protecting Your Business Against Cyber Crime

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More and more businesses rely on technology. In turn, this means the types of crimes that can occur against companies are changing; cyber crime is on the rise. It can be hard to find and prosecute those who commit cyber crimes without the help of skilled cyber security & computer forensics experts. This is why it is essential to make sure that you have taken all the right measures to ensure that your business is as protected as possible from all cyber crimes and data breaches:

Make sure all your software is up to date

Any software that is used by your company needs to be kept updated to the latest versions. Updates are created to add new features and improve stuff, but they are also created to solve any problems that users have had with the software. If you don’t have the updates, your software and technology are easier to attack, meaning criminals could steal important data and information, or cause damage to your technology.

You should include all of your anti-virus software on your update list, and although many things tend to update themselves automatically, some things need to be manually checked so that you do not miss any important updates.

Train your staff

Your business should have a policy for staff to follow when it comes to cyber security. It may also be helpful to train them so that they are aware of the things that are likely to be suspicious. Your employees need to know what a strong password is, and that they should be using them for all of their accounts, especially work accounts. It would help if you also taught all of your team members about how cyber criminals try to trick people. It could be a phone call or an email that even seems legitimate unless you pay closer attention. Create policies about giving information out over phone or email along with other strategies that will keep your business safe.

Encrypt and backup your data

Important data needs to have layers of security so that they cannot be accessed by just anyone. All of your business data shouldn’t even be accessible to all of your employees, only those who need to use it. After all these levels of security, encryption is still required for sensitive information and customer and employee details, as if anyone manages to get through all the security, it means that they will not be able to understand what any of it means.

Backing up your data is also essential because some cyber crime involves damaging your software or technology so that you cannot access your data. Cloud services are a handy tool when it comes to data storage. Cloud services are also useful if some of your employees work remotely.

Get a cyber security audit

If you want to know whether you are doing enough to protect your business from cyber crime, you could hire a company to perform a cyber security audit. They will be able to check the software that you have in place and find any weak spots. Once they have found your business’s cyber vulnerabilities, they will be able to help you install some more software or take other precautions to protect these vulnerabilities.

Reduce The Risk Of Driver Error In Your Business

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When you are running any type of business which involves collection and deliveries of either people or packages, you need to be sure that your drivers are adhering to the best possible driving practices.  This is not just for their own protection, but that of your clients and the reputation of your business.

We’ve all read reports, and seen footage of drivers who have been distracted by their cell phone, and not reacted quickly enough to conditions ahead of them, resulting in horrific accidents, that could so easily have been avoided. 

Taxi drivers in particular are often faced with threatening behavior, or passengers who are abusive. On the other side of the coin, sometimes it’s the passengers who report that their driver has verbally or physically assaulted them.  Sometimes it’s hard to know who to believe.

So if you run a fleet of vehicles, or even just one or two, how can you ensure your drivers are behaving responsibly whilst on the road.

The answer could be to install video dashcams in all of your vehicles. 

This great bit of kit, enables you to watch your drivers behavior in real time, to make sure they are all adhering to good driver behavior.  The safety of your drivers is so important, and you do need to be aware at all times of how they are driving, and the conditions they are facing. 

Viewing remotely, you can see instantly if any of your drivers are not wearing their seatbelts, if they have anyone else in the cab with them, and if they have any distractions such as if they are eating whilst driving, or take a sneaky peak at their cell phones, even if it is for a short period of time. 

So who should really consider installing video dashcams.

Taxi drivers and owners.

Don’t risk your reputation by being accused of employing rude or unsafe drivers. By being able to view everything live, if your driver feels that something isn’t quite right, then you can see the situation instantly, and not have to rely on his account of things, or the passengers verbal complaint. It protects everyone in the taxi, and protects your business against false accusations and possible lawsuits. 

Truck Drivers and Haulage Business.

Truck drivers have such a responsibility at their finger tips.  Often driving for long periods of time, very precious cargo, in huge container lorries. Being able to view and record their driving standards, helps enormously to structure training to match more closely with driver capabilities and potentially dangerous driving situations. 

Benefits

The main benefits of installing a video dashcam in your vehicles is that it reduces the cost of your insurance premiums. 

It’s inevitable that accidents will happen, but if a collision involving one of your employees does take place, you will be alerted at the point of impact. As well as having minute by minute information about what has happened, you will be able to inform your insurance company about your driver’s behavior and road conditions during the lead up to any accidents. 

Don’t underestimate the peace of mind a video dashcam can bring you. Get them fitted to your vehicles before the inevitable happens.