Here’s How You Really Look After Your Employees

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Employee welfare and business success are more connected than you may think. An organization full of happy and satisfied employees will definitely see more success than the exact same company with unhappy employees. In general, people work a lot better and are more effective when they’re happy.

It’s a simple fact of life, and you can test it out by looking at yourself. How hard is it to find the motivation to work when you’re not happy or feel unsatisfied? More to the point, remember when you had to go to work and spend hours doing things for your boss? It was hard to work well when you didn’t feel looked after or valued. Your employees will feel the same way unless you show them how much you value their work. The best way to do this is by looking after them, and here’s how you do that:

Offer A Degree Of Flexibility

To kick things off, you should address the main source of employee discontent; long and strict work weeks. People hate working 9-5 every day, and it slowly begins to pile in on them. They stop looking forward to work, which means they start being less effective in their role. To change this, you need to offer a degree of flexibility to your employees.

All this means is that you give them more options with regards to how they work. Instead of strictly working 9-5 each day, you could introduce staggered shifts where they might start later one day and continue working past 5 to make up for it. Or, you allow them to spend a couple of days working from home. Either way, they no longer have such a long and strict working week to look forward to. This makes them much happier at work, more relaxed, more cared for, and miles more productive.

Provide Food & Drink At Work

Food is the quickest way to someone’s heart. How often have you been at work and just wished you could get a quick snack? Or, perhaps you wanted to eat lunch in the office as the weather is horrible and you haven’t got any food? I’m sure this happens to your employees all the time, and issues with food and drink can cause them to get very grouchy and unproductive.

So, why don’t you provide food and drink at work? Depending on your business, you could have a little cantine area where they can all sit and eat lunch. Or, perhaps you just get some vending machines full of snacks and coffee to satisfy them when they get cravings? There are loads of cashless payment solutions you can use to ensure they can just pay using a card or special fob as well, which eliminates situations where someone forgets to bring any change. By doing this, you’re giving your employees an excellent benefit that they’ll appreciate greatly.

Offer Mental Health Counseling

I think this is such a big thing that should be mandatory for all employees. Yes, some companies offer healthcare as a benefit, but all businesses need to have mental health counseling for their staff. This is because we live in a world where stress and mental anxiety are literally big killers. They won’t just ruin your employee’s efficiency, they’ll destroy their lives. To make matters worse, a lot of their mental health issues are probably caused or amplified by work!

For me, you should give them access to mental health counseling or therapy whenever they need it. If anything, you should encourage them to use it if you feel like they’re suffering. To your employees, this shows them how much you care as you’re actually trying to help them out. As a result, they will work harder for you and be more productive. Plus, you can help them get over their mental hang-ups, which will help them be even more useful for the team.

Actually Pay Them Well

Is a business really looking after their employees if they don’t pay them enough to go home and look after themselves? Money is one of the main factors when it comes to employee welfare and satisfaction. A lot of people will leave your company if they’re not paid well or rewarded for their efforts. Anyone that doesn’t leave will probably only stay as they don’t have much choice and can’t risk being out of a job for a few months. So, their heart isn’t in it, and they’re very much absent at work without performing to their peak capacity.

It’s so simple, all you need to do is pay your employees a salary they deserve. Don’t undercut them just to try and save money, and give them bonuses at the end of the year if they’ve done well. It seems like a substantial business expense, but you will 100% make more money with a team of workers that are happy and satisfied with their job. Pay them poorly, and they’ll always do the bare minimum, meaning your company will go nowhere.

Extend Their Holidays

Briefly, I want to touch upon the idea of extending employee holidays. This comes from Scandinavia where countries like Denmark and Sweden offer more holiday allowances for their employees. The aim is to give them more time off so they can be more refreshed throughout the year.

Realistically, this might not be possible for all businesses. However, providing more than the expected holiday time will definitely benefit your employees, so give it some thought.
In conclusion, these ideas will ensure you really look after your employees. As a consequence, you will be surrounded by a happy team of workers that are pleased to work for your company. They’ll have little to complain about, which means they focus on their work and become more productive. From this, you could see an improved output, which may influence sales. On a different – yet equally important – note, you should also reduce your employee turnover. Fewer people will leave, meaning you don’t have to spend money trying to hire new people, which means your business will save cash as well.

Let’s Talk About Personal Development

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Let’s talk about personal development. What is it and how can it help you?

Personal development is the process of looking at your skills, your core beliefs, your qualities and how you can improve them and use them to best reach your potential. If you are a freelancer, the chances are you have already put some time and effort into what makes you tick and the path that you want your career to take. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more of that good stuff.

Personal development actually starts very early in life. It begins with our experiences within our family unit, and eventually extends to school life and our first relationships and so on. Sometimes when people finish education, be that college or university, they find a job and stop learning more about themselves, or stop trying to improve.

Why is it important? Well, Maslow (1970), suggested that everyone has a need for personal development that is built in. It actually appears in a table called the Hierarchy of Needs.

How to Get Started

Think about what your vision is. While personal development can just be a fun addition to your life, for others it can be a fulfilling and enlightening process that helps you find a new purpose, and greater motivation for everyday life. Having a clear idea of where you want to be in the future is essential. Sit down and write a plan, think about where you are now, where you want to be and the steps you’ll need to take in both your personal and working life.

Actively look for blogs, books, and speakers like kevinabdulrahman.org.

A few things which can really help are performing a Personal SWOT analysis, taking the time to think about what you feel are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Be as honest as you can when you do this, it might be tempting to write, for example, that you are fluent in French, but what you mean is, you have basic conversational French ability. Honesty is key.

Knowing how you learn, can help you learn faster and more efficiently. There are a few methods that you might like to use to work out your learning style. However, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford proposed the following styles:

Pragmatist – Does it work? Does it have a practical application?

Reflector – Think it through. They like time to consider things thoroughly.

Theorist – Does this fit? They like things to fit with their knowledge framework.

Activists – Let’s get stuck in. They learn by doing.

Work out which one you are, and learn to work in a way that fits with it.

Write it all down. Make notes, keep track of your progress and pay attention to what is working and what isn’t. Making a record of your success and development will encourage you to keep growing. You might even like to create a learning log, where you can reflect when things get a little tricky.

Review and revise. Real personal development is unlikely to be a smooth path. Taking stock every once in a while will ensure you stay on track and motivated.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Counselor

You love listening to your friends’ problems and weighing in with your thoughts. You love delving deep into your romantic partners’ emotional states, revealing vulnerabilities to better understand them and yourself. Everyone always says you should go into counseling – but would you actually make a good counselor?

An ear for gossip or a nose into other people’s business aren’t good traits for those wishing to enter the counseling profession. Before you enroll in your first psychology class, you should devise your answers to the following important questions.

Do you care about others?

Above all else, counselors should want to make other people’s lives easier. It might seem silly to ask this question – any supposedly good person should immediately answer yes, right? – but the fact is that plenty of people are more selfish than they care to admit. If you are primarily interested in the counseling career for its flexibility, its autonomy, its salary or any other benefit it would give to you, you might not be a successful counselor.

Can you keep a secret?

It isn’t just polite to keep your clients’ confessions to yourself – it’s the rules. The American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics dictates that anything said during a counseling session is confidential, unless it pertains to certain types of crimes in certain jurisdictions. Therefore, if you can’t help but share the latest gossip, you should probably pursue a different career, like journalism.

Are you inquisitive?

Counselors need to dig deep into scenarios to understand them fully and develop solutions. Ideally, your personal drive to know as much as possible will push you toward uncovering the root of patients’ problems. A good indication of your natural curiosity is your drive to learn – perhaps even your enrollment in an online counseling master’s program – as well as your observant nature and astute ability to ask the right questions at the right times.

Are you tolerant?

Clients come to counseling seeking help for problems they can’t bring to other people or else can’t resolve on their own. Often, these problems concern the deepest, darkest secrets imaginable, and many clients will explain thoughts, emotions, behaviors and actions that run counter to a counselor’s personal moral beliefs. However, it isn’t your job to spread your own beliefs; thus, as a counselor, you will need an abundance of tolerance for alternative lifestyles and an ability to keep deleterious judgements to yourself.

Are you creative?

We might never know exactly how the human brain works; it is much too complex an organ – and we are much too simple in our comprehension – for us to be able to resolve complex mental struggles with a high degree of rigor. As a result, all counselors must be creative in their methods of searching for, identifying and treating problems faced by their patients. Every case is unique, and every case will require you to develop new strategies for success, which means creativity is key.

Are you good at listening?

If you talk more than you listen, you aren’t well-suited to this profession. Counselors must listen attentively – not just with their ears but also with their eyes and their emotions. People communicate subtly with their entire beings, and counselors must be able to pick up on the smallest cues to identify challenges and find solutions.

Are you comfortable talking to anyone?

This is somewhat related to the issue of tolerance, but you should also be comfortable around all types of people. You should be able to open up to clients of all races, political parties, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions and cultures, so that they will feel comfortable opening up to you. If you are incapable of holding a conversation with someone slightly different from you, you might not feel comfortable as a counselor.

Can you solve puzzles easily?

It might sound silly, but you might want to start practicing riddles. Almost always, the answers to patients’ problems are not obvious; counselors need to apply logic to limited information to sift through the useless data and identify issues. Having a natural talent for lateral thinking or being adept at solving puzzles swiftly can be a major boon for would-be counselors.

Do you understand yourself well?

The last thing a struggling client needs is to deal with a struggling counselor. Before you embark on a career in counseling, you should take time to understand your own biases, your personality and moral convictions, your past traumas and more. By performing regular introspection, you can reduce the likelihood that your problems will impact your clients, which will make you a more successful counselor for years to come.

Health Insurance Coverage For Entrepreneurs & Freelancers

Working for yourself as an entrepreneur or freelancer has its perks. You’re your own boss, and you don’t have to worry about anyone breathing down your neck all day to get things done. Your schedule is up to you and you alone, but there are some downfalls not many people realize when they start their own business. The biggest luxury of a traditional job with a company is that you have a set of insurance plans and benefits offered to you. If you’re working independently, you’re on your own for health care.

Finding health insurance yourself is possible, but it’s not as straightforward as insurance through an employer. You’ll need to make choices about the type of coverage you need, and you’ll have to decide just how much you’re willing to spend for that coverage. As of 2015, one in three workers was choosing to earn their income independently. This number is only rising, and with it comes additional opportunities for entrepreneurs to get the coverage they need.

Understanding the Options

When deciding your insurance plan, you’ll need to be prepared to do some research. There are both government-backed programs and private insurance options, but these each come with their own limitations. One thing that’s for certain is that you do need coverage. Even if you’re young and in good health, accidents happen. You don’t want to be caught unprepared if a medical emergency strikes.

It’s also in your best interest to purchase insurance yourself if you want to avoid government penalties. As of 2018, not having insurance will cost a penalty of $695 per adult. That’s a big price to pay for not having coverage, so take this process seriously. Let’s talk about your options for health insurance as an entrepreneur or freelancer.

Through a Family Member

The easiest way to get insurance as someone who’s self-employed is through a family member. If your spouse currently receives coverage through an employer, you can qualify to be covered under their insurance benefits for an additional premium. Even if you’re not officially married you still might qualify under a domestic partnership.

If you’re under the age of 26, you might qualify to be on your parent’s health insurance plan. The law recently changed to allow youth up to 26 years old to be included in their parents’ health insurance as dependents. This is a good safety net if you’re in that age category. However, there are some limitations to this such as supplemental dental and vision plans not carrying over.

Federal Programs

Since the Affordable Care Act, self-employed individuals are able to insure themselves through the healthcare marketplace as an individual or a small business. These programs are affordable and open to all, even if you have a preexisting condition. You will need to make sure you enroll during the enrollment period if you want to receive coverage for the upcoming year.

Another federal program available to those who are eligible for social security benefits or those who are 65 and older is Medicare. This program is divided into four parts, and it’s an incredibly affordable way to receive coverage as you age. Once again, you’ll need to look for your unique enrollment window to ensure you receive care and avoid a fee.

(source: https://www.healthmarkets.com/content/medicare-part-a-b-c-d/)

The Freelancers Union

The Freelancers Union is an alliance for self-employed people across America. They offer benefits specifically geared towards freelancers, and this can be perfect if you want a private insurance plan but don’t know where to start your search. These programs are only available in certain regions, however, so you’ll need to review your eligibility.

The Freelancer Union also has resources for finding supplemental plans in your area. You can find anything from dental plans to travel medical insurance. Ultimately, this is a great resource for those who work for themselves.

Local Programs

Finally, look local for insurance eligibility. Check with your local chamber of commerce as well as local professional groups to see if they qualify for insurance. By purchasing insurance through a group, you’re able to have a similar effect to employer insurance. You’ll likely need to purchase a membership to one of these professional organizations, but it can be well worth it.

Final Thoughts

Health coverage isn’t optional in this day of age. As the cost of medical care continues to rise, you need to protect yourself and your business against any medical emergencies. Browsing for an insurance plan doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you know where to start your search. Utilize the resources above to find a plan that’s right for you.

It can be hard to justify the extra costs of insurance as a freelancer. Remember, your health is the most important thing you have. Without it, you can’t keep living your dream. That’s why it’s essential you have a plan to protect it.

4 Ways a Strong Online Presence Can Uplift Your Brand

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We all know that using the internet to our advantage is one of the surest ways for us to launch a brand successfully. A digital presence is incredibly strong when used correctly, but it takes a lot of planning, research and a well-executed strategy in order to make the most of the internet.

In this post, we’re going to look at four ways that a strong online presence can grow your brand, expand your business and ultimately help you succeed in the competitive world of business.

  1. Websites are like virtual storefronts

The first encounter a customer has with your company is going to be the first impression they have and, much like in other areas of life, first impressions count. A website acts much like a virtual storefront; it’s your first encounter with a business (outside of perhaps their social media accounts) and the way it’s presented will make a lasting impression. This is why it’s crucial that you make a website that’s informative, well-designed, coherent and fits on both desktop and mobile devices to ensure a great customer experience.

  1. Social media is huge

Social media is one area where you can spend little capital for big gains. With the exception of hiring a social media manager, it’s one area where you spend little money for a huge competitive advantage–assuming you know how to use it. Some crucial social media marketing steps include understanding your audience, being consistent with social media and also latching on to trends whenever possible. It’s also about increasing engagement with your customers to show that you listen and are willing to interact with them.

  1. Word of mouth is powerful

The internet is a place used by billions of people around the world. While you might only realistically target a small portion of those users, there’s nothing that physically prevents them from purchasing something from you as long as they know your website. However, exposing your website to them involves spreading the word, hence why word of mouth marketing is so strong especially on the internet. All it takes is an organic backlink and suddenly you’re known to a completely new group of people that could continue to spread the word.

  1. Staying competitive

One of the biggest reasons to have a comprehensive online presence strategy is because you need to stay competitive. There are many strategic IT consulting services that you can rely on to help you create a plan and stay competitive, but you need to understand that success in this area doesn’t build up overnight. Instead, it’s all about staying consistent, adapting to trends and understanding the audience that you’ve built. Without knowledge about your customers, it becomes incredibly difficult to make sense of the internet and how it can become such a huge driving force that promotes your brand to new audiences.

At the end of the day, a strong online presence can benefit you in many different ways. Although it can be expensive at times, it’s also crucial to have and a worthwhile investment.

Is Your Marketing Strategy Missing The Mark?

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In business, an effective marketing strategy can make the difference between success and failure. Marketing is designed to get your brand name out there and enable people to discover what your business is all about. If you’ve noticed a dip in sales, your web traffic has decreased, or you’re not getting as much attention as you’d like online, your marketing strategy may be missing the mark. Here are some suggestions to help you turn your fortunes around.

Targeting the right audience

If you’re attempting to ramp up your marketing campaign and increase sales, your priority should always be your target market. There’s no use in spending money on marketing if you’re aiming at the wrong crowd. You want to reach out to people who are likely to have a genuine interest in buying your products or making use of your services. Make sure you know exactly who you’re trying to attract before you start making any plans. It’s also wise to ensure you’re aware of who you’re up against. Look at competitors, and see how they market their products and services. A brilliant marketing strategy should enable you to target the right customer and persuade them that you are the best choice for them.

Knowing your customer

There is no universal solution when it comes to marketing. As a business owner, you have to be able to adapt the way you market your company to suit your customer. What works for one group of people may not work for another. If you have plans to launch a new product, or you’re taking your business overseas, for example, you’ll need to get to know that new target market before you can implement a new campaign. Marketing in the US is very different to China marketing. If you’re trying to drive international sales, you’ll have to modify your strategy to ensure that it delivers for both markets and also make sure the products you sell are geared towards different customers. If you take McDonald’s as an example, you’ll find that the menus are completely different in China to the US. If you can make time to get to know your customer through market research and produce a tailored campaign that caters for your audience, you should find that you stand a much better chance of success.  

Being inventive and innovative

One of the most significant aspects of marketing is setting your business apart from the crowd. There’s a tremendous amount of competition out there, and it can be difficult for new or small businesses to make a splash in a large pond. To get people talking and make your business stand out, be original and creative with your marketing campaign. Give consumers something they don’t see every day, and leave them wanting to know more about your business.

Is your marketing strategy struggling to make its mark? If so, it may be time to try and work out what’s going wrong and identify solutions. When refreshing and reviving a tired campaign, focus on your target market, get to know your customer, and be inventive and innovative.

Modern Ways Of Pleasing Today’s Customer

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Pleasing a modern target audience can be tough for any business. The market is always changing, and your company needs to work hard to stay on top of its game. You need to keep rethinking your business strategies to make sure that you’re appealing to the modern consumer. If you’re struggling on that mission then here are some modern ways of pleasing today’s customer.

Rewarding people.

If you start rewarding your customers then you’ll probably notice more repeat purchases. Discounts, vouchers, and even giveaways are a great way to get people buying from your business in the first place, but such rewards can also keep customers returning to your business. If customers see they’ll get 50% off their second or third purchase, for example, then they’ll be more likely to buy from you again. You really have to appreciate the power of word of mouth marketing, too. Happy customers will tell their friends and family about you. In fact, you could even use rewards as an incentive to get people talking about your brand. If you offer discounts to customers who refer your company to their friends then you’ll probably notice a bigger influx of new clients. Rewards are definitely a good way to build a long-term bond with your client base.

Creating an enticing online presence.

Another great way to satisfy the modern-day customer is to create an enticing online presence. Most people search the internet for the things they want to buy. If your digital marketing game isn’t up to scratch then you’re missing out on potential sales. You might want to read about conversion rate optimization because the goal of digital marketing is to gain paying customers. Boosting traffic on your website is a good start, but your company isn’t going to improve if none of those visitors actually buy anything from you. You need to find ways to improve your website’s design and content to impress people who visit your homepage. With an enticing site, your business could see a much better conversion of traffic to sales.

Listening to them.

Finally, the best way to please today’s customer is to simply listen to them. This has always been the case, but it’s something that many modern businesses neglect to do. Giving the consumers what you want to give them isn’t going to get you the sales you want. Like it or not, the customer is always right. If you want your business to do well then you need to meet the needs of the market. Do your research to find out what your target audience wants. You could run polls on Twitter or invite people to leave feedback online.

Find out what clients like and dislike about your business, and ask them for their opinions on rival companies in your industry. That’s the best way to gauge the current consumer mentality in your marketplace. Once you start listening to customers, you’ll have a better understanding of what they want. And, in turn, you’ll be able to deliver a service that pleases today’s customer. You might even be able to find gaps in the market that your competitors have missed. It could be a chance for your brand to really stand out in its industry.

Spend Money to Make Money: Three Areas to Invest When You’re Launching a Business

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As the old saying goes – you have to spend money to make money in business. And it’s true, if you’re establishing a company from scratch there are lots of overhead costs that you’ll need to cover just to get to the stage where you can open your doors or begin trading online. You have an app and a website to invest in, premises to hire, insurances to cover and stock or materials to buy amongst other things. As a new company who are yet to make any profit, chances are this will be funded using savings or commercial loans, so it’s tempting to want to cut costs and make savings in as many places as possible. However, there are some areas that you simply need to spend the money in – since cutting corners would jeopardize your venture. Here are some examples.

Recruitment

Finding the right staff for your business is absolutely key. These are the people that will keep things running, it’s their day to day tasks that keep your business moving forward and turning a profit. You need the right people for the job, employees who care about the company’s success and are good at their job. You can hire based on experience, or you could hire on potential if you’re happy to train them yourself. But either way, a strong workforce is key to your success and so you need to recruit carefully. Don’t just accept the first applicant that comes your way- don’t be afraid to create aptitude tests or request second or even third interviews. You want employees that are going to stick with you and be productive in their roles.

Software

In modern business, much of the work is done online. The right softwares can make tedious tasks much quicker and easier (meaning you can use your staff to their best potential instead of them being stuck on jobs that a computer could do instead). It also means you can hire less staff in many cases, software can often completely automate some areas of business which will save you money. Using software to do certain tasks means you eliminate human error and stay as productive as possible. While there are all kinds of business softwares out there you can utilize, your best bet is to contact a company offering software development consulting services and have your own custom designed. That way it’s bespoke, it works exactly to your company instead of you having to make workarounds.

Marketing

Chances are you’ve put a lot of effort and research in before starting your business. By the time you launch, you know that you’re offering something that people actually want – and at the right price. However, this simply isn’t enough. You need marketing to get your name out there, competition in business is fierce and you need to be discoverable amongst your more established competitors. Don’t let marketing costs catch you out, they can be expensive but they’re essential.

Unexpected Things That Can Derail Business Success

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You’d hope that if you just have a good idea, work hard, and have a pinch of luck, then your business triumph is assured. Alas, this is not the case. While these things will guide you towards success, there’s no guarantee that you’ll experience long-term success. This is because there are many things that can derail your path towards glory. Some of them are within your control, while some are beyond your control. Below, we take a look at a number of somewhat unexpected aspects that can derail your company’s upward trajectory, as well as offer some advice on how you can prevent them from happening and handle them if they do.

Personal Issues

They say you should keep your personal life and professional life separate, but it can’t always happen this way. It can be relatively straightforward to leave your working side at the office, but keeping home problems from interfering with your work? That’s easier said than done. If you’re going through a rough emotional time, then you won’t be able to push through and work extra hard; it’ll be a case of taking care of what needs to be done, and waiting for your energy to return before taking on more tasks. If you have a personal crisis, such as being arrested for a DUI or something, then there’s no way that won’t impact your business in one way or another. The trick is just to limit the damage it can do.

A New Competitor

Everything might be going swimmingly. Business is growing, demand is high, and things are all-around looking rosy. But there’ll soon be a problem if a competitor moves in on your turf. Your profits will take a hit, there’s no doubt about it; but will it be a significant dip, or a manageable one? When a competitor moves in, it’s important to carry on doing what you’ve always done. If people loved you before, they’ll be happy to carry on supporting you even though there’s another option for them. If it’s a giant corporation who has opened up nearby, play up your small local business credentials. People are more likely to support an independent business rather than a big business than they were in the past!

Hiring the Wrong Person

Your staff is the bedrock of your success. You’re an important figure, for sure, but you’re only one person: your staff is a team, and when they all work together well, your business runs smoothly. When they don’t, the good times can be hard to find. While it shouldn’t necessarily be this way, one bad employee can have a hugely detrimental effect on the team’s success. Morale can drop. Communication can break down. As such, it’s important that you’re hiring the right person always. Easier said than done? Maybe, but you can increase your chances of success by developing a robust hiring policy. If you follow the guidelines that you yourself have established, you’ll be less likely to end up with a dud of an employee who brings everyone down.

Staff Leaving Abruptly

Hiring the wrong person can be damaging; losing your best employees can be even worse. You’ll have created a system that depends on your employees delivering their best work. If one or more of them suddenly leave, then it’s going to be difficult to get back up to the standards you were operating at before. There are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of this happening, however. For starters, you can treat your employees well; that means offering them a platform to grow professionally, and paying them well. You can also ask them to give you plenty of notice if they want to leave, so you have time to find a suitable replacement.

The Elements

It’s not just what happens inside your business premises that affects your success; what takes place outside has an impact too. Take the elements. After a heavy rainstorm, you could arrive at work only to discover that the place is flooded. On that day, you won’t be able to work, and you may have lost important documents and infrastructure that were critical to your success. Now, you can’t control the weather, but you can control how you prepare for severe weather. Start by working with waterproofing specialists so that your offices are unaffected by heavy rainfall. You can also keep any important documents and electrical equipment stored away in a waterproof container, especially when you know that there’s a lot of rain on the way.

Suppliers In Difficult

You’re not trying to succeed in business all on your own. You’ll be working with other businesses as you try to build your empire. If one of these companies falls into difficulties and has to stop trading, you could find yourself without the goods and services you need to operate.

Changing Moods

The world is ever in flux. What is current and relevant today could be obsolete in years to come. There really are no guarantees! Your business may be popular now, but what is the world moves on? If some of the world’s biggest corporations can be left behind, then so can your small business. The best way to prepare is to keep an eye on trends, and to not take anything for granted. If it seems like the tide is beginning to turn, then refocus your energies. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have an open mindset about where you’ll be taking your business, rather than having a clear, unalterable vision.

Final Thoughts

Life is full of surprises; that’s what makes it so exciting. Alas, not all of these surprises can be good. Sometimes, you’ll be hit by something that causes your operations to stutter, or perhaps pause altogether. If you’re unprepared for them and they occur, then don’t panic. It might not be an ideal situation, but keep the bigger picture in mind: this is just a blip on what will hopefully be a long and prosperous journey with your venture.

Protecting Your Staff

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When you start your own small business, there is a lot that you need to think about. You’ll be worried about boosting sales, defining your marketing strategy, finding your audience, scouting out the competition and recruiting and training staff. One thing that many small business owners neglect, is looking after those staff once they’ve been hired.

This is a mistake. Failing to look after your staff can mean that turnover is high, they’re not motivated to work to their best, that they don’t enjoy their jobs and it can even mean that you are open to lawsuits.

There are many ways to look after your team. You need to offer them flexible working and comfortable working conditions. You need to look after their emotional needs and make sure that they are treated fairly and with consideration. You have to protect them from any bias and workplace discrimination, and you need to protect them from injury and illness. It’s a lot to take on but offering your staff the correct protection can mean that they can do their jobs better, they are happier, they take less time off sick, and they work for you for a lot longer, allowing them to build their skills and become better at their jobs. It’s good for them, and it’s good for you.

Train Them

The first thing that you can do to protect your staff is offering them the training that they need to do their job safely, without endangering themselves and others. Don’t just give them a quick walkthrough and then throw them in. Spend time on a thorough training program, and buddy them up with a more experienced member of staff for a while before letting them work unsupervised. Then, offer extra training to anyone that needs it, and when anything changes.

The training program that you offer depends on the nature and specifics of your business. But, it should be in-depth, covering every area and not just the tasks they’ll be responsible for day to day.

Perform Risk Assessments

A crucial part of protecting your staff is knowing what it is they need protecting from. Performing regular, and adequate risk assessments gives you a chance to assess the environment of your workplace. To spot things that could be a risk to the health and safety of your staff, and to find ways to minimize that risk with training, avoidance, equipment, and precaution.

Make sure you do different risk assessments for groups like pregnant women, disabled staff and anyone else who might be at a higher risk, as your work environment may pose them different threats. Once completed, keep a record of these risk assessments, the findings and any changes that you have made to reduce risks, should you need them in the future.

Provide them with the Tools they Need

Training is the first tool that your employees need to keep themselves safe. Risk assessments are a tool for you to keep them safe. Then, there’s the industrial safety gear that your staff needs to do their jobs to the best of their ability without injury or accident. Don’t scrimp on this. Pay what you need to get it right, to keep your staff from getting hurt while they do their jobs.

Then, regularly take the time to check this gear, to make sure it’s still in good condition and working well. Replace it when it needs it, checking the market for updates and improvements before making your purchase.

Look After Machinery

Safety gear isn’t the only thing that you need to keep your team safe. You also need to make sure that any machinery and equipment that they use is safe, effective and free from danger. Check the basics yourself every day, install a cleaning and maintenance checklist to keep everything working well and have machines and equipment serviced regularly and repaired and replaced as needed.

Keep an Open Door

A crucial element of health and safety is communication. Your staff needs to be able to come to you if they have a problem, if they are ill or hurt, or if they are worried about their safety. They need to feel comfortable coming to you if they need to take time off, or if they are concerned about how the workplace is affecting your health. You also need them to come to you if they notice a problem with machinery, equipment or other staff, that needs addressing. So, make sure your workplace has an open-door policy. Encourage open communication and honest on the shop floor, and you’ll always know what’s going on.