As business owners, we want to remain optimistic about our business’s future. But life can happen, and we need to be prepared. A good business owner thinks about all the risks to their business and has a plan in place to reduce or eliminate them. In 2017, we’ve already had floods in the Midwest and California, a healthy dose of tornadoes, and an ice storm earlier in the year. And those are just the weather disasters. Are you ready?
In 2015, Nationwide ran a survey that revealed that three out of four small business do not have a disaster plan. The same survey noted that 52 percent of small business owners thought it would take three months to recover from a disaster.
The most common solution is to create two plans:
- A disaster recovery plan, which details the steps needed to recover the business from a catastrophic loss
- A business continuity plan, which details the steps needed to keep the business running in case of a major loss, such as a loss of electricity, location, or key personnel
There’s a lot of help online to help you create your plan. A few of the major items that should be covered include:
- Employee safety: you’ll need an evacuation plan in case of a disaster that is life- or health-threatening.
- Communication plan: how will you reach employees in an emergency?
- Electricity contingency: will you need to access a generator?
- Internet contingency: can your business survive without the internet for long periods of time, or will you need to find a way to get connected?
- Location contingency: if your worksite is inoperable, do employees have another place to report to?
- Employee roles: who will carry out the plan?
- Private data: how will you safeguard private company and customer data?
- Systems: do you have an inventory of hardware and software, including vendor technical support contacts? How will you prioritize which system to get back up first? Do you have agreements with vendors who can come to your aid quickly?
Creating a disaster recovery plan can be the lowest priority item on your to-do list as a business owner – until it isn’t. If you have a lot to lose, then consider spending some time on a plan to give you peace of mind.
One of the hottest buzzwords in marketing this year is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing uses key people in thought leadership positions to spread the word about your brand. These people may be paid or unpaid spokespersons for your brands, products, and services.
The profitable thing about influencer marketing is the leverage. Instead of marketing or selling to one person at a time, you are marketing to key leaders with followings who can influence many people at once.
Influencer marketing varies by industry; here are some common examples:
- Locating photos of your product already on social media and reaching out to those people to do more
- Hiring a social media expert with a large following to talk about your clothing line
- Having a prominent lifestyle blogger post a photograph containing your juice product
- Starting a referral program for a makeup company so “regular” women will spread the word
The common theme to all of the above examples is finding people who have a huge number of followers that just happen to be your ideal customers.
To take advantage of this marketing method, ask yourself who is influential in your industry that has the ear and respect of your customer base. How could you partner with them so it’s a win for you, them, and their following? You may or may not need to compensate them, depending on their revenue model.
There are plenty of apps to help you locate influencers relevant to you. A favorite is Ninja Outreach at ninjaoutreach.com.
Try reaching out to influencers to leverage your existing marketing and make your marketing dollars go farther.
For business owners with employers, payroll is a necessary task that can slow your day and tie you down if you let it. If you’re looking for a way to make payroll less time-consuming, here are five ideas you can put to good use:
- Employee Onboarding
If you hire a lot, empower your new hires by letting them do their paperwork for you. A good payroll system allows employees to “onboard” themselves, completing the I-9, W-4, and direct deposit authorizations electronically, even before they show up for their first day. You’ll still need to ask for ID on their first working day, but at least you won’t have to do their paperwork for them.
- Integrate Employee Benefits
Rather than hire several separate companies to handle benefits, some payroll systems allow you to integrate benefits solutions right in their dashboard. That way, you won’t have to re-enter employee data in multiple systems, which often gets out of sync. Deductions and payments can also be integrated to save accounting time.
- Delegate Timesheet Entry
Require non-exempt employees to enter their own time; all you should have to do is approve it. The right timesheet application can take care of that, and a great timesheet application will allow employees to enter time from multiple options, including timecard, cell phone, and others.
- Eliminate the Annual Worker’s Compensation Audit
Tie your worker’s compensation vendor to your accounting system, and you’ll be able to avoid that time-consuming annual reconciliation report required by your worker’s compensation insurance company. You can also avoid the large annual payment because the insurance will be taken out each payroll cycle.
- Reduce the Frequency of Payroll
It’s not always possible, but if you can pay employees less frequently, you might be able to cut your payroll time in half. Pay weekly employees every two weeks or pay bi-weekly employees monthly. Reducing payroll frequency boosts cash flow as well.
Try one of these five ideas to streamline your payroll time and costs in your business. And as always, let us know if we can help.
- Discourage employees from excessive web browsing. This can be a hard rule to enforce, as some employees probably need internet access for research, timecard entry, and other work-related tasks. Create a firm policy legislating what workers can and can’t do on company-issued equipment (including tablets and smartphones) or any personal devices that use your wireless network.
- Ask employees to refrain from using public networks on work equipment. Enforce the rules vigorously, and make compliance an element of performance evaluations.
- Minimize app installations on business smartphones. Employees should ask for approval. Viruses and malware get in that way, as well as through some websites and email attachments.
- Use monitoring software. If you can’t afford to pay for “managed IT” (a la carte, third-party IT services), install an application that alerts you to problems.
- CREDIT DEBIT (A specific card type may be shown here if you’ve indicated the customer’s preferred payment method in his or her record.)