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For the economy, declining unemployment rates are great news, but when the labor pool shrinks, small business owners may be hard-pressed to attract talent to their company. Attracting and retaining in-demand employees can be difficult at the best of times for many small businesses. When unemployment dropped to 4.6% at the end of last year, businesses began to feel the stress of a shrinking talent pool. If you are concerned about losing good employees to better job offers or attracting talented people to your workforce, keep the following ideas in mind.

Invest in Your Team

Retaining top-drawer employees isn’t a question of luck, but rather, commitment. Savvy business managers make strides to develop their employees’ potential and encourage them to pursue continuing training and education. Many employees understand that ongoing education opportunities are just as valuable as a bonus or a raise. From coursework to seminars, opportunities for career development benefit employees and ultimately benefit your company too.

Market Your Benefits

If your business is cash strapped as many small businesses are, you may be worried about attracting talent. It’s true that many job seekers want to achieve a great salary, but many also care intensely about job benefits. If you can’t beat your competitors’ salary offers, work on ways to improve your benefits package and be sure to market them to would-be employees. From flexible work hours to top-notch insurance plans, your benefits may be the factor that convinces a candidate to accept your employment offer.

Get Help

Running a business can be tough enough without scrolling through job board resumes to find that ideal candidate for your company. While many CEOs have suggested that recruitment agencies can hit or miss, they can definitely help when you feel as though you’ve hit a dead end in your search. Moreover, if you can establish a long-term relationship with a recruiter that understands your business climate, you stand to benefit from their expertise and knowledge of your company’s specific needs.

Be Cool

If your employees would rather show up for a root canal than work, you have a problem. To retain and attract terrific employees, you need to demonstrate authentic leadership and develop a community that prizes employee morale and employee success. Happy employees are less likely to begin job hunting than disgruntled employees. When attempting to attract prospective employees, it’s a good idea to discuss your mentoring program during the interview as opposed to you employee review process. An over-emphasis on corporate-speak can turn off employees who are in search of a company that values the human experience.

No matter where unemployment rates are at, it’s important to keep these tips in mind to ensure that you are doing all you can to retain your best employees and attract new talent to your employee pool. By focusing on your company culture and getting innovative with your benefit offerings, you can create a business where talent flocks to you.

If you would like to discuss your specific circumstances, please give us a call. We’d be happy to speak with you.

Sources

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/02/504115031/unemployment-rate-drops-to-4-6-percent-lowest-level-since-2007

https://www.inc.com/adam-heitzman/7-ways-to-attract-and-retain-incredible-talent.html

No matter whom you voted for in the recent presidential election or where you stand on the divisive issues plaguing the country today, you are likely well aware that change is afoot. If you are a small business owner, you’re probably extremely worried or, conversely, very hopeful about how these changes will affect your business. Although the administration is still getting its feet wet, it’s wasting no time putting its agenda into place. If you’re a small business owner, here are some things to keep in mind moving ahead into this president’s term.

Regulations

In the course of the past few weeks, President Trump has reaffirmed his commitment to reduce the regulations that affect both large and small businesses today. This appears to be positive news to business owners who find government regulations to be highly restrictive. The president has proposed to eliminate two regulations, according to Forbes, for every one that’s enacted. While this has a positive ring to it, business owners are still concerned about how this promise will play out. What regulations will be scrapped, in other words? Moreover, business owners worry about the arbitrary nature of this promise and what it will ultimately boil down to. For now, there’s uncertainty regarding these regulations, but it’s almost certain that the president will try to axe as many as he can.

Lower the Business Tax Rate

During his campaign, Trump asserted that he would lower the business tax rate. This appeared to be something all businesses could get behind, but if you’re a small business owner, you might not be quite so quick to wave your pom poms in cheer. According to USA Today, the majority of small business owners “operate as “pass through” entities – sole proprietors, partnerships, “S” corporations, LLCs – which are not allowed to retain profits within the business. With this detail, it’s likely that only “C” corporations – generally larger corporations – will benefit.” In addition, small businesses will need to closely examine the tax loopholes that the president wants to shore up. Deductions that many small businesses count on could be lost with a more simplified tax code. Now, that hasn’t come to pass, but it’s something the small business owner should keep an eye on going forward.

Health Care

President Trump and Congress are committed to doing away with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is still largely unclear what will – if anything – be put in its place. Naturally, many small business owners are concerned about this uncertainty. For instance, female business owners have found it hard to pay for insurance that included maternity coverage. Some experts fear that solo proprietors of businesses will find insurance premiums go through the roof, especially if they are in a high-risk category or have a pre-existing condition.

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage change slated for implementation this past fall (2016) is still held up by an injunction issued by a federal judge in Texas.  It is unclear what will happen next with the federal minimum wage.  However, many state and local agencies have already taken steps to increase minimum wage on a local and state level.  Of course businesses are required to pay the largest of the local, state and federal standards.

Travel Ban

The President’s temporary travel ban which targets seven predominantly Muslim nations has been put on hold by the three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  One interesting point, the Court concluded the executive order could be applied to existing permanent residents as currently written.  This could have obvious ramifications to the labor force. It will be interesting whether the White House elects to take this issue to the U.S. Supreme Court, rewrite the order or take a different path entirely.

As you can tell, there is still considerable uncertainty. The biggest impact on small businesses now is how these prospective changes are cause for concern among small business owners. There’s no doubt that the political climate is stressed, but one thing is certain—Trump has always had a soft spot for business. Whether that soft spot will encompass small business owners remains to be seen.

If you would like to discuss your specific circumstances, please give us a call. We’d be glad to speak with you.

 

Research shows that 90% of what we communicate to others is non-verbal.  60% is our body language.  Tone of voice makes up another 30%.  Speaking loudly does not mean you will be heard. In fact, speaking loudly often makes it harder for people to understand what it is you are saying. Aggressive speech and harsh tones may also elicit a variety of unintended emotions from people, especially from those at which the message is directed–feelings of anxiety and suspicion to fear and resentment. When intense emotions come into play, that manager is no longer able to do what is expected of them–and that is to manage a company with a calm, powerful sense of self-confidence, compassion and business acumen.

Training the Ego To Speak Without Shouting

Some managers are under the impression that they need to speak above others to be heard or to emphasize their presence when entering a room or conducting a meeting. Managers possessing the necessary skills, experience and intelligence to have been put in a position of leadership should not lack faith in their ability to be heard above the noise of conflict without shouting.

Understanding how and why the ego behaves the way it does can help managers learn to lead without shouting. Sigmund Freud conceived the concept of the ego when he formulated his psychoanalytic theory of human development almost a century ago. Although Freud considered the ego to be a sort of rational mediator between our childish, selfish impulses (the “id”) and our overly rigid, ritualistic “superego”, the notion of the ego today involves how much self-esteem, self-pride and self-admiration a person has. As with everything in the world, too much of something is usually not a good thing–especially a manager’s ego.

Check Your Baggage at the Door

To be an effective and trusted company leader, you often have to check your ego at the door and realize that excellent leadership draws its strength from other people, not from the leader themself. Although one may think they can lead by being “bigger than life”, the truth is you cannot be a good leader without respecting the egos and needs of other people. Empathy plays a huge role in being an effective manager, although the ego often resists being demoted from first place to last in line.

“Passionate Leaders aren’t Loud–They’re Deep”

This great quote by Erika Anderson writing for Forbes reiterates the validity of leading quietly but passionately while refusing to let that pesky ego insist on shouting at everyone in a vain attempt to come across as a “strong ” manager. The best way to earn the respect and loyalty of another is to make them feel meaningful. The search for meaning in life is one of our many innate drives that compels us to seek out relationships with others.

Whether that relationship is a business, social or intimate relationship doesn’t matter. What matters is that peers and subordinates feel a deep satisfaction in realizing that someone else sincerely respects their abilities, their talents and their thoughts. This is what Anderson means when she describes passionate leaders as deep–not loud.

 

Why should you be concerned about data security?

The risk of data loss may not be viewed as a high priority in all organizations. However, it is viewed as a high priority by their customers, vendors, clients, employees and trading partners. So by extension, the damage to brand, customers and employees is a critical issue to the success of every company, even those who do not have a full appreciation for the risk of their own information loss. The potential damage to reputation, not to mention the cost of fines and incident response, should be regularly discussed by every executive team.

The average cost of a data loss incident in the United States is $3.8 million, per a benchmark study in 2015 by Ponemon Institute. The cost to affected businesses averages $154 per lost data record. And according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 121 million data records were compromised in the U.S. in 2015. This represents an increase of more than 70 million compromised records, nearly a 150% jump, over just the past two years.

The simple fact is the people you do business with have the expectation their sensitive data will be handled with due care and that you will take appropriate steps to safeguard their information. These business partners want to know they will not be put at undue risk when connecting with your systems and sharing files in the normal course of doing business together.

One trap the business operator may fall into is lacking the imagination to value data in the same way the criminal does. For example, most people would be surprised to learn their own health care record could fetch as much as $28 on the black market. A criminal can use your stolen medical history to submit fraudulent medical bills. Due to this, medical records could be worth 10 times more than a stolen credit card record.

Another common mistake the business owner rarely considers is what they would be willing to pay to have access to their own business data. In an increasingly common scheme, the criminal finds a weak point in to a system, encrypts all of the business’s electronic records, and then demands the owner pay a “ransom” to regain access to their own systems.

State sponsors of industrial espionage are real. Intellectual property, trade secrets, and anything else of value are foreign government targets. One country in particular is believed to have committed a multi-billion dollar budget to their economic espionage program. Victims range from the small operator to industry giants like Google.

Common schemes prey on the lack of employee training to defend against the fraudsters. Some examples include social engineering to get the employee to unknowingly expose data, “spear fishing” schemes that launch harmful email attachments onto the host’s system, and carefully disguised emails sent to finance managers (who believed they were written by their own company’s CEO) with instructions on “paying an invoice”.

These are just a few of the many reasons why businesses must closely examine the controls in place for protecting their information, networks, and systems.

Some of the critical data which needs to be protected:

  • Passwords
  • Customer lists
  • Business plans
  • Proprietary processes and data
  • Pricing lists
  • Contracts
  • Employee contact information
  • Employment records
  • Health care records
  • Credit card data
  • Financial records
  • Social Security numbers
  • Payroll data
  • Research and Development

A review of a business’ risk portfolio is an important first step in formulating an overall information security strategy. This will keeps the business records safe from tampering or alteration, make sure that critical information is available when needed, and lower the likelihood that critical data falls into the wrong hands.

Many new business owners remain unaware of a piece of legislation passed just a few short years ago that could help them access funds that facilitate growth of their company.

In 2012, the House of Representatives passed a bill designed to help start-up businesses raise funds. According to House majority leader Eric Cantor, the bill “provides a real shot in the arm to…small business men and women” by eliminating the confusing red tape that often prevents small businesses from getting off the ground. In addition, Cantor stated that the bill is conducive to “retaining and creating jobs”. Called the “Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups Act“, this bill easily passed the House by a 390 to 23 vote.

Although the bill is similar in some respects to a proposal set forth by President Barack Obama, some analysts, securities law experts and investors have remarked that what the bill actually promotes is the freedom for corporations and companies to ignore disclosure requirements and other oversights for five, six, or seven years following public acknowledgement.

Additionally, the bill also negates the Securities and Exchange Commission rules as well as vital financial industry regulations that divide securities analysts’ activities from colleagues involved in investment banking at businesses underwriting preliminary public offerings for companies that are considered “emerging growth” businesses. When a company’s stock is traded, this type of business would be exempted from shareholder sanctioned guidelines as well as disclosure on executive reimbursement passed as a component of the Dodd-Frank bill.

Emerging growth businesses are defined by the “Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups Act” bill as companies earning less than $1 billion each year, a definition that analysts consider to be too broad and vague. Chairwoman Kathleen Smith working for Renaissance Capital, a firm that tracks, invests and analyzes initial public offerings, states that “by definition, we would have to provide relief for over 90 percent of business deciding to go public. This includes companies retaining extremely large market capitalizations as well”.

Ms. Smith insists that a different definition of an emerging growth company needs to be limited to smaller companies that offer the public total market capitalizations and $50 million, which includes insider shares of around $250 million. This is in response to an independent part of the bill meant to reduce initial public offering costs for small businesses by adding to the limit on I.P.Os that bypass registering with the S.E.C., increasing it from $5 million to $50 million.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners praise the bill because it loosens regulations that often prevent small businesses from accessing funds. However, the bill does have it critics. Consumer advocate groups and unions state their concern for parts of the bill that strip away beneficial protections from investors wanting to back initial public offerings. A recent New York Times editorial also talked about the potential negative effects of eliminating regulations vital to safeguarding investors from deception as well as regulations ensuring efficient and equitable allocation of funds to business owners.

Rescue Your Business with Financial Management Software

Missing deadlines, losing revenue because of unnecessary expenditures, an inability to make important decisions due to a lack of information, misplacing vital documents–these problems are actually symptoms correlating to a serious “disease” affecting businesses that have failed to capitalize on the advantages offered by workflow automation software.

Automating the operation of any size business with workflow automation and financial management software eliminates the potential for processing disasters that directly compromise the continuing operation of a business. Rapidly growing at a dizzying pace are complicated activities involving acquisitions, mergers, diversification and the globalization of corporations that make it consistently more difficult to coordinate, implement and evaluate vital processes responsible for supporting the financial foundations of any successful business.

Benefits of Using Financial Management Software

Workflow automation dissolves residual problems by streamlining the interaction of information, processes and people involved. Because a company’s workforce is mentally assimilated by automated software, the resulting transparency eliminates costly and time-consuming issues previously affecting all facets of financial management.

  • Integrate necessary information derived from various sources–from accounting software to text documents–makes data instantly accessible and usable.
  • Construction of complex flowcharts detailing workflow processes using interfaces that are intuitive and simple.
  • Maximize expensive resources to reduce overhead costs–specifically employees and lengthy wait times between the completion of directed tasks.
  • Eliminate disjointed and fragmented financial operations and increase efficiency with financial management software that conjoins different departments by assembling information in one piece of software that everyone can access.
  • Create a reputation of consistency, accuracy and productivity with the ability to project a global perspective of a company’s financial condition.
  • Maintain compliancy with regulations by automating financial management software upgrades.

Building Workflow Applications with Financial Management Software

Knowing the processes that need automated to produce desired goals is the initial step in building workflow application. Pinpoint the conditions that cause unwanted events in the process, describe what occurs when they arise and include all people involved in the process. Define objects influencing workflow issues so that software can be optimized to improve the effectiveness of these objects or remove them from the process altogether.

Most of the work involved in automating financial processes is done by the software’s algorithms that independently facilitate management of these processes. Businesses choosing to automate workflow with financial management software typically enjoy reductions in overhead expenditures, accounting errors and transparency issues that previously had a negative impact on company operations.

What Mobile Really Means for Small Business Marketing

Mobile marketing through short message service (SMS) via smartphones allows small business owners to send valuable information to customers concerning sales events and products. SBOs can also take advantage of MMS, or multimedia message services, that provide customers with video and audio-based advertisements.

Push Notifications

Several years ago, Apple introduced Push Notifications to smartphone and iPhone users. Push Notifications were later popularized through the operational system perfected by Android, which placed notifications at the top of a smartphone’s screen. This helped consumers who opted into the application to communicate with end users simply and effectively. However, small business marketers quickly learned to moderate their use of Push Notifications, since consumer research found that inundating application users with notifications quickly alienated consumers by overwhelming them with interruptions to current phone activities.

Quick Response Codes

QR codes are recent developments in the mobile marketing industry that allow consumers to instantly access a website by scanning an image with a smartphone instead of entering the website’s URL address manually. U.S. companies known for utilizing the QR code are Home Depot, Calvin Klein and Starbucks. Additionally, the Apple application called Passbook, originally implemented as an exclusive application for iOS6, offers QR code technology to facilitate interaction with iPod Touch and iPhone users and small businesses capitalizing on mobile marketing.

Real Advantages to Mobile Marketing

The evolving technology and advertising insights provided by mobile marketing means that small businesses can engage consumers on all depths and intensities of advertising which supports the viability of the mobile marketing industry. For example, the omnipresence of the individual cell phone guarantees that SBOs are always within inches of presenting potential customers with a variety of persuasive advertising forms. One way of looking at the mobile marketing is that it literally assimilates the person rather than just the location. Previous marketing technologies were only capable of integrating into a consumer’s location rather the person.

Persuading Consumers to Make a Purchase Has Never Been Easier

Enhanced data management and a significant reduction in targeting errors represent other powerful benefits of mobile marketing. The implementation of phone numbers that are unique for each individual also creates new and improved customer relationship management (CRM) strategies for SBOs who once had to rely on ineffective techniques linking transactions to customers, such as cookies, flash cookies, IP addresses and postal addresses.

With the ability to access a stable ID during mobile marketing interactions, businesses can dramatically supplement organizational plans to personalize and satisfy the expectations of targeted customers. More importantly, the rapidly expanding use of WiFi to connect with mobile devices is expected to boost the growing number of advantages associated with mobile marketing technology.

The Power of Viral Marketing

Mobile content is more readily shared than content designed only for personal computers. This means SBOs have the power to initiate an impressive viral marketing campaign capable of reaching thousands of people within a matter of a few hours. By creating irresistible buzzwords, catchphrases or quirky images that capture the public’s attention and imagination, SBOs can rapidly increase awareness of their brand and promote sales based on the self-replicating ability of an innovative advertisement.

If you are not 100% sure about when to pay overtime, you are not alone.  Every day there is a new story about a big employer being hit with a lawsuit for back overtime pay.  The list has included Major League Baseball teams, NFL teams, FedEx, and countless other high profile businesses.  For a small employer, being in a position to pay multiple years of back wages could ultimately close the business.  The best way to avoid this unwanted surprise is to spend the time on creating accurate job codes for your entire staff.  And approach each job as being overtime eligible unless you can prove otherwise with a job analysis.  Otherwise, you are leaving the door open to issues you do not want to deal with.  If you still have questions, contact a qualified HR professional or labor attorney.

 

 

With continued unrest in Ukraine threatening economic stability in eastern Europe, Russia is practicing the predictable refrain of “there is nothing to see here”.  Potential economic sanctions and lack of confidence in the Russian economy could have far reaching effects on multiple industries.  This article highlights the concerns within big pharma.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101592426

That is not a typo.  The 88% jump in premiums is the projection from Ohio’s Department of Insurance.  To lend greater credence to the estimates, Millman Consulting and the Society of Actuaries have predicted similarly drastic increases in premiums for the state of Ohio.

Hold on to your hats – 2014 could be a bumpy ride for individuals and employers alike.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/06/10/ohio-dept-of-insurance-obamacare-to-increase-individual-market-health-premiums-by-88-percent/