Monthly Archive for July, 2020

Make Working From Home Work For Your Business

The chaos of the Coronavirus pandemic has not only had us confined to our homes. It has also meant a massive change in the way both small and large business work. In fact, this change has manifested as an increased reliance on online services and remote working. Of course, this has been a double-edged sword for many businesses. The reasons being that while saving costs and boosting efficiency, there are other issues with home working that need to be resolved if it is to be a viable option. Luckily, you can find out all about these and what can be done to solve them in the post below.

Touch base daily

First of all, a typical working from home issue is lack of guidance and interaction with other members of the team. In fact, some employees may feel isolated when working from home. The good news is that there are plenty of tactics that can help minimize this issue.

The first is to schedule a daily meeting or check-in with the whole team. Preferable through video chat where the team can all see each other and interact. This will provide that sense of cohesion that your organization needs to function as a whole.

Secondly, don’t forget that part of working from home is having access to instant communications whenever necessary. To that end, managers should encourage questions via messenger and email throughout the day.

Finally, it’s also important not to forget that if you do have an issue or a query, you can call your team member and discuss it in person. In fact, this is often the most efficient way of doing things as the language signals used in spoken speech are not lost as they can be in text form.

Provide the right equipment

One of the most significant benefits to working from home for a business is that it means a lot fewer overheads. After all, there is no rent or utilities to pay. However, when working remotely, one thing that employees cannot do without is a reliable computer.

Unfortunately, IT hardware does have a tendency to freeze, break or otherwise become unusable just at the worst possible moment. Of course, the solution to this is to find a firm that offers trusted computer repairs that can serve your entire business. In fact, if you have an agreement with such a firm even before they are needed, you can vastly expedite the repair process. Something that means your employee will have their hardware back with them as fast as possible, and that your productivity loss will be minimized.

Use collaborative software

Lastly, remember that just because your team is not in the same location, does not mean that they cannot work collaboratively. In fact, there is plenty of software that allows multiple people to work on the same document or piece of content at the same time.

In particular, look out for the Google suite of programs which includes comment and edit features as well as multiple users. Then there is Microsoft office 2019. These also includes collaborative features that will help your team work together, no matter where they are based in the world.

Tips for Managing Your Business Post Lockdown

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Everyone is looking forward to living in a post lockdown world. It’s nothing less than a step in the right direction. As much as that’s great news, it’s still going to be a bit of an adjustment for people and businesses alike. Already, businesses of all sizes have taken quite a hit, so, there’s going to be a lot of work to be done. The thing is, this is a very delicate predicament the world is in. As such, it’s advisable to take things easy and not act impulsively. Altogether, if the aim is to run a profitable business after the lockdown, here are some tips to that effect.

  1. Implement CDC Guidelines into Your Systems

Before even thinking about resuming work and operations, it’s important to ensure that the right safety measures are in place. You probably already have certain measures in place, but COVID-19 is a unique situation. So, whatever you have in place has to be tweaked to accommodate the CDC guidelines.

The basics, of course, include the proper use of face masks, the use of hand sanitizers, and social distancing among both employees and customers. Besides keeping all your stakeholders safe, this also shows them that you are playing your part in terms of social responsibility. So, make sure you put all necessary systems in place and equally put things in place to gauge compliance and efficiency.

  1. Test, Test, Test

For the most part, reopening your business is hinged on having a safe workspace. So, you have to equally set up systems that will ensure your employees are in tip-top shape. The aim here is to ensure that your business can be up and running without endangering anyone’s life. In order to do that, it’s important to set up checkpoints for various levels of testing. If possible, it’s a good idea to designate a holding area so that the right parties can be notified if an employee or customer is sick.

Don’t only stay on top of things in terms of the virus, also maintain previous systems that were in place. Everything from meth testing to alcohol testing should still be in place to ensure that efficiency is maintained. With this in place, you have a better chance of pushing through the trying times ahead, because they will be trying.

  1. Update Your Business Plan

As the whole world changes, there is no doubt that the business landscape will have to change too. Chances are that your business took a bit of a financial hit once everything shut down. This is the time to dust yourself off and look for a way out of the trenches. Ask yourself this, will you need a loan to stay afloat or do you have enough in your cash reserves to power through. If you do need a loan, don’t waste time, get to know what your bank’s stand is on lending.

Also, look into any cash cuts you can manage at the time, go ahead and do so within reason. If a particular supplier or service is vital, look for ways to keep them on. With that said, it’s very important to look for avenues to increase revenue. But, before you do that, further ensure that all your books are up to date. This is a fresh start of sorts, so do everything you can to treat it that way.

  1. Communicate

Now more than ever, communication is key. Whether it’s to your employees or customer base, you need to let your voice be heard. There are so many uncertainties now and you have to make sure all doubts are cleared. For your employees, it’s important to keep them updated when it comes to business dealings. Are they coming back into the office, or are they going to continue working from home? If they are going to work in shifts, you need to let them know as well.

Also, ensure that you share updates on the journey your business is taking. They need to be in the loop when it comes to the steps you are taking to improve efficiency. As for customers, what you’ll need to do is reassure them that you still have their best interests at heart. Let them know that you are committed to serving them in the most health-conscious way possible. Also, fill them in on any changes you are making to serve them better post-lockdown.

  1. Update Your Services

The world is truly a different place, it has changed quite a bit since the pandemic hit. You need to make sure that your business adapts to these changes if you want to do more than stay afloat. Do you have an online presence? If so, how strong is it? For the most part, people are turning to the internet to get their goods and services, so get with the times. In the case that it’s possible for your service to be mobile, ensure that you cover that front.

Basically, anything you can do to make your services more accessible to your customers is not mandatory at the moment. There are so many other organizations out there that would be glad to take your spot. The only way to guard against this is to ensure that you adapt to the times.

  1. Stay Informed

This may sound like a cliché,  but these are uncertain times. The major way forward is to arm yourself with information. Besides all the regulations that guard businesses right now, it’s important to know if there are any changes in your area you should be conversant with. What’s allowed now, could be discredited in a minute, and vice versa.

As much as it’s advisable not to saturate yourself in everything the media releases, don’t hide under a rock. Altogether, never cut yourself off from a healthy stream of information.

In Conclusion

COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused quite a stir in every area of life. Owning a business in a time like this is nothing less than nerve-wracking. But with the above points and more, it’s possible to manage a business successfully. The whole situation may seem like a cause for alarm, but when you have some sort of direction it’s a lot easier. So, don’t pack up just yet, it’s very possible to manage a business post lockdown.

What Do Construction Project Managers Do?

If you’re about to undertake a construction project of any kind, it’s important to consider the role of a construction project management company. They offer a range of services that make the process of completing your project that little bit smoother and easier to manage. Pushing ahead without a good project management team in place can often turn out to be a mistake.

As well as overseeing all the administrative tasks that come with undertaking a construction project, they’ll also offer a range of other services. One of the most important of which is the role of management. Being in control of a project and managing every aspect of it is what a good team will do best.

That might sound obvious but a lack of good management will cause far more problems than you imagine, and it’s why emphasising the role of a strong project management team is so important. Other things such as costs and safety have to be managed effectively as well. Failure to get those things right can also cause big problems that you won’t want to deal with.

The infographic below has been put together by Alpha14. It makes it clear what construction project management teams do and the role they play in making sure a construction project runs smoothly from start to finish. Take a closer look at the infographic if you’re interested in hiring a construction project management company and first way to find out more about the services they provide.

 


Infographic designed by: Alpha14

10 Tips To Protect Your Business Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Thousands of small businesses across the world have collapsed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and countless others are struggling to survive. They have lost customers, been forced to close their doors, and now face uncertain futures. While lockdowns persist across the world, and the virus continues to cause damage, there are several risks that all business owners must face. Crucially, you have to contend with the direct threat of COVID-19 and take action to prevent contributing to the spread. But at the same time, you want to do what you can to draw in more customers and stop business from dwindling. If your doors are still closed, you will have an increased risk of break-ins and vandalism, while technology-based companies may fall foul of the slew of opportunist cyber attacks that have grown in recent months.

As a business owner, you are in a difficult situation. You have to balance your need to keep your company going strong, with the ethical considerations that the pandemic has raised. Fortunately, help is at hand. Here are ten tips to help you protect your business from the most significant threats the virus poses.

Coronavirus

Businesses are beginning to open up and attempting to return to normal. But we are not yet in the clear. The virus is still very much active, and businesses have an obligation to ensure that they do their bit to prevent the spread. Customers and employees can’t carelessly mingle, and social distancing must be maintained at all times. The importance of cleanliness and proper hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Here are a few ways that businesses can help to prevent contamination.

  1. Reduce the number of staff

This doesn’t mean laying people off, but instead reducing the number of workers who have to go into the office each day. Minimising travel outside the home is one of the best ways to slow the spread, and if your employees can work from home, they should do so. Video conferencing software such as Zoom makes it very easy for colleagues to communicate and collaborate from wherever they are in the world. Your staff will still be able to get the job done, and their productivity may even benefit from a more flexible schedule and less time spent commuting.

These measures don’t apply to all businesses. Workers in the manufacturing or retail industries cannot do their jobs remotely, so they will need to come into work each day. But if this is the case, then you may still be able to ensure multiple workers are not operating in the same area.

  1. Re-evaluate your cleanliness procedures

Coronavirus can live on surfaces for several days, so proper sanitation is absolutely crucial. You no doubt have a cleaning process in place, but it will need to be re-evaluated to match the risk of COVID-19. If you only clean your business once a week, now is the time to ramp up the frequency and ensure that all employees take care to clean up after themselves. Enforce the necessity to wash hands thoroughly. And that’s not just a quick rinse but 20 seconds of thorough scrubbing. Stock up your office with hand sanitiser and disinfectant and ask employees to clean their desks, computers, mice, and any other objects they may have touched.

  1. Keep employees up to date

The global situation is changing daily, and government guidance is constantly having to be refined and improved. You need all of your staff to be on the same page about the necessary precautions and measures, so ensure you communicate any changes in a timely fashion. Keep them posted by emails or memos and have mandatory company meetings held remotely through Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Keeping your employees informed will not only enable them to follow proper procedures, but it will also help to manage any panic, stress and uncertainty about the situation.

Loss of customers

As well as facing the risks of a deadly virus, businesses must also contend with dwindling profits and a fall in customers. People are being careful with their spending and minimising any non-essential excursions at present, which includes leisure activities such as shopping and eating out. As a result, many businesses are struggling to attract enough customers to maintain positive cash flow. This particularly affects the service industry, but companies of all kinds are fighting to stay afloat amid this wave of uncertainty.

But the pandemic will end, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few ways that you can help to attract customers while setting yourself up for success when things return to normal.

  1. Go online

If your physical store remains closed, the internet is your only way to promote your business to the world. Consider whether there are aspects of your product or service that could be provided to online customers instead. Many gyms and personal trainers have offered online workouts to keep their customers fit and healthy throughout the lockdown. Drinking establishments have organised virtual pub quizzes, and there have even been online dating nights, cooking classes and book clubs. The power of the internet is incredible, and with the improvements in remote collaboration technology and the vast number of people stuck at home, the possibilities for online success are endless.

  1. Adapt

Even before the pandemic happened, we lived in a constantly changing world. We are always seeing new trends, technologies and behaviours that shape the way consumers make decisions and how companies do business. Any successful business must be able to adapt to a changing world, and there are plenty of opportunities for brands to make money in different ways. Several restaurants and bars have seen success in offering takeaway meals and drinks for customers, meaning they can still make money without breaking social distancing guidelines. Others have focused their retail efforts on deliveries rather than in-store purchases. Perhaps there is a way for you to offer new services or implement new tools to allow you to operate more safely under the current circumstances.

  1. Use your downtime productively

With business on hold, you will no doubt have plenty of time on your hands. Although it may be frustrating to see your customers and profits dwindle, you should use this extra space in your schedule to do something productive. Any business owner has tasks on their plate that they keep meaning to get around to, and now is the time to do so. Use the opportunity to focus on things that will set you up for greater success when the economy kickstarts. This could include working on your marketing strategy, refurbishing your store, and any other steps you can take to future-proof your business.

External attacks

With all the uncertainty occurring in the world, businesses are more vulnerable than ever to malicious attacks and external threats. Here are some tips to keep your company and its employees safe.

  1. Install extra security

Throughout the pandemic, many countries have seen a surge in break-ins, burglary and vandalism. This has predominantly targeted empty town centres, shops, and commercial sites. It is an excellent time to consider updating your security measures. This could include fitting your office with alarms or security cameras, installing secure automatic commercial roller doors, and ensuring all valuables and sensitive data are under enhanced protection.

  1. Check on the office

Opportunist thieves are likely to target properties that have been vacant for extended periods. Even if your office is officially closed, it would be a good idea to check in on it every now and then. This will deter criminals as well as enabling you to spot any malicious behaviour as soon as possible.

  1. Implement a working from home policy

If your employees are working from home, there’s a good chance sensitive company information is being taken out of the office. This could be private customer data, financial details, or intellectual property. Office systems generally provide a lot more security than home networks, in the form of firewalls, advanced antivirus software, and blacklisted IP addresses, so there is more risk for remote workers. Manage the possibility for things to go wrong by providing full guidance to your staff about how to safely operate from home, including storing devices properly and using strong passwords.

  1. Be prepared for cyberattacks

Since the outset of the virus, there has been a rise in coronavirus-themed cyber attacks, including malicious apps, websites and phishing emails. These have primarily been targeted towards vulnerable individuals and organisations, but all businesses should be careful to avoid the risk. This would be a good time to address any potential cyber-vulnerabilities in your system and be extra cautious of suspicious emails and messages. Conduct a review of your cybersecurity policies and procedures and identify any areas where you could improve your defences. Ensure all company devices are secured and encrypted, and all data is backed up in case it is lost in an attack. Keep IT support available for remote employees working from home.

Keeping your business going in these turbulent times is undoubtedly stressful and uncertain. Business will be unpredictable for a while, but the pandemic will be over soon enough, and things can start to return to normal. In the meantime, you must take steps to protect your business from harm and act to improve your chances of bouncing back in the future.

4 Ways To Take Control Of Your Own Business

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2020 has brought a lot of change to the world. With the world in the midst of a pandemic more significant than any other seen in modern times to contend with, many people are finding themselves out of work. Of course, though, as one business closes, it always makes room for something else to take its place.

While starting a business in the current climate may seem risky, there are a lot of benefits to breaking the ice in times like these. To start, if your business can survive through a recession, it will almost certainly flourish when the economy begins to recover. Along with this, the number of businesses that have had to close their doors has left huge gaps in the market for others to take over. But how exactly should you go about taking control of your own business? Let’s find out.

Starting From Scratch

For many with dreams of owning a small business, a big part of the journey will be the process of building it up. Starting a business from scratch will be hard, but the payoff will be great if you’re able to make it successful, as this will give you the chance to choose the field you want to work in. The first step in this process is going to involve choosing the type of company you’d like to run. You should think about your hobbies and interests, your previous work experience, and any other skills you have when you’re making this pick.

Next up, it will be time to start planning and preparing your business to open its doors. Some companies will be extremely cheap to start up, while others will be a lot more expensive. Finding funding for this can feel almost impossible when you haven’t been through this process before. Brokers can help you to find loans, though it could also be worth looking for investment in the private market. You may be surprised to find just how many websites are dedicated to helping people to put money into businesses.

At this point, you should be ready to start thinking about opening your doors. Your company’s launch will be a big day, but it will only be the beginning of a lot of work to come. Many people find themselves struggling to get themselves started at this point. Having a partner to help you can be a good idea, as this will take a lot of the weight off of your shoulders. Along with this, though, you could also think about the idea of looking to hire some employees with whatever investment you were able to get together.

Franchises

Starting a business from scratch isn’t the only option you have when you’re trying to take control of your own company. Franchises provide an excellent way to buy into a successful business without having to spend the GDP of a small country on it. There are loads of companies that offer themselves as franchises, from fast food places to car dealerships. Of course, though, you won’t be able to get into something like this without paying the price. The fee you pay will depend on the business you’re working with, though it will usually include a lot of the things you need to get started.

Finding a franchise to become a part of isn’t too hard. You can look for businesses you like on search engines with the term “franchise”, collecting a list of the most promising options. They won’t give you all of the details upfront, and you may even have to organize a meeting to learn about what you’re getting yourself into. This process can take quite a long time, and it will usually be fairly costly to get started. It will be hard to find an investment for something like this, though you may be able to get a loan or other type of finance from a broker.

Getting started with a franchise should be nice and easy once you’ve signed the dotted line. Most companies like this will help you to get your new store up to scratch, providing you with the furnishings and tools you need to get started. Of course, this sort of equipment is expensive, and this is why your franchise fees are so high. People will already recognise the brand you’re trying to sell, making it all the easier to get people through your doors as soon as you open.

An Existing Business

Getting your hands on a franchise can be tricky, and you may not be able to find one that matches the type of company you’d like to run. Buying an existing business can provide a convenient alternative to this, and will often be even easier to start making money with. You will have the chance to make sure that the company is able to make money, you won’t have to go through the process of setting up shop, and you may even be able to get a very good deal if you keep your eyes open.

There’s a large market for buying and selling businesses. This makes it easier than you might expect to start finding them for sale, with loads of marketplaces on the web offering this service. Due diligence is crucial, and you need to make sure that the companies you look at are making the money they say they are. You will have the opportunity to look over their books, though it could be worth paying a professional to do this for you to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes along the way.

Getting the money you need to buy a business will often be one of the trickier parts of this process. You can get a loan or investment, but financing the purchase of an existing business will always mean that you have to prove that the company is going to be able to make money. This won’t be an easy task, and many people fail at this stage when they’re trying to buy a company, making it a good idea to be careful as you go through it. As time goes on, you will learn more and more about business finance, making it easier to get yourself in the right position.

Climbing The Ladder

Finally, as the last idea to consider, it’s time to move away from buying or starting a business. Instead, you will be starting as an employee, working your way up to become one of the leaders of the company. This will come with many of the benefits of owning your own business, though you will get the chance to work at the forefront of a much larger company, and this will be a unique experience. Of course, this won’t be an easy climb to make, and you will need to make sure that you’re joining a company that has room for this kind of growth.

Getting a business qualification can be extremely helpful when you’re first approaching this. Many companies will only take on directors if they have the right background, and this means that you will either have to study or get an entry-level position, and studying is often much faster. You will be aiming for a job that is respectable and reasonably high in the business, with plans to take over over the next couple of decades. While this is a slower burn than the other options, you will be making a good salary from the word go.

This isn’t the sort of process you will need to find investment for or take out loans to achieve, but you will still have to work extremely hard. People only manage to make positions as CEOs or other important executives when they are able to push their business forwards, and this often has to occur long before they ever make it to the top spot. Of course, this won’t be easy, but you don’t have to be exceptional to perform exceptional feats. It’s well worth doing some learning and research before you approach climbing the ladder in a modern company.

Owning a business is something that a lot of people dream about. In times like these, having this sort of security could be a huge benefit. The issue of COVID-19 isn’t going to subside anytime soon. While countries are trying to get back to normal, the threat of a second wave is still very much looming. This reprieve could be an excellent chance to start working on your own venture, even if you already have a job that is nice and secure.