The 7 Risks All Small Business Owners Need To Be Aware Of

Every business exists in a world of risks. As a small business owner, you face certain risks that are specific to owning a small business. Knowing how to handle those risks is key to directing your small business to success.

Here’s a look at some of the most common risks associated with owning a small business and a few things you can do to mitigate those risks.

Damages To Property

Accidents happen to the best of us. Some accidents are small, like accidentally bumping into someone when you turn a corner. But some accidents can cost your business money, especially when the accident leads to damage to your property. For example, if you spill coffee on your computer, you suddenly have to budget hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to get a new one.

One way to minimize the impact of damage to your property is with a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). This is a type of insurance that basically combines general liability insurance with property insurance. It will protect your furniture, equipment, and tools that you need to keep your business going.

Customer & Counter Party Risks

Sadly, there are times that customers or suppliers won’t hold up their end of the bargain. They will back out of deals or refuse to pay you or suddenly disappear when it’s time to get your supplies. While this is a fact of doing business, you can reduce your customer and counterparty risks by being scrupulous about who you do business with. The more you can reduce your risks by doing your due diligence about suppliers and vendors, the less of an impact this risk will have.

Running Out Of Cash

To keep your business running, you need enough cash to reach the milestones you need to hit to attract new investors to your business. It’s a critical question to ask: how much cash do you have? As money is moving in and out of your business, that will determine your business’s ability to grow.

Without enough cash, many businesses take on debt. While this might be an easy short-term solution, it won’t help you in the long run. Instead, if you find yourself struggling with your cash flow, look for ways to bring more cash in. Whether that’s new products or services or finding ways to monetize other areas of your business, improving your cash flow into the business is the first step.

Having The Wrong Team

Being strategic about who you bring into your business is crucial. Without the right team, you won’t have the help you need to take your business to the next level. Using your execution power to know what positions are needed to ultimately bring your products and services to market will make the most difference.

Make sure that during the hiring process, you are finding people with the hard skills that you don’t have. They will need to execute ideas and carry your business through the commercialization phase so it’s imperative that they understand where your business is and where you see it going in the future.

Hacking

Cybercrime is a fact of owning a business in today’s market. If you’re accepting credit cards, digital payment types, or keeping confidential customer information, you’re at risk of experiencing a cybercrime. To protect yourself against hacking and other forms of cybercrime, you need Cyber Securities Insurance.

With Cyber Securities Insurance, potential cybercrime against your business will be prevented, detected, and mitigated. Cyber Securities Insurance covers your privacy, data, and network exposure. If you are doing business online, it’s worth the investment. It also provides you with immediate, long-term support in the form of data breach response, data recovery, and coverage for losses from business interruptions.

Injury & Illness

As the owner of a small business, it likely feels like you can’t take a break, even in the event you get sick or injured. In a way, that’s true. Since you’re the driving force behind the success of your business. To protect yourself and your business in case you personally get injured or sick, you need business insurance.

Included in your Business Owner’s Policy, there should be some contingencies to cover the loss of time and wages should you be injured or sick. Other than that, the best thing you can do is live a healthy lifestyle. Stay current on your routine medical appointments and keep a healthy routine for eating and sleeping. That will be a preventative measure that will benefit multiple areas of your life.

Reputation Risks

In today’s marketplace, reputation means a great deal. Consumers want to shop with companies that align with their values. And as your reputation grows, it can evolve to be an important asset. That being said, just a little bad press could be your downfall. Because negative publicity moves so quickly, it’s important to know the fast and easy ways to manage your company’s reputation.

For this, turn to social media and online review sites. They allow you to directly interact with your customers and address any concerns they might have. When doing so, be professional and authentic in your responses. Customers will pick up on the times you’re being phony. Instead, address any complaints with dignity and respect. It’ll go a long way with your customer base.

5 Steps To Land Your Dream Job Today

Every kid is asked what they want to be when they grow up. Once you’re grown up, it feels like you’re supposed to be established in that dream job. Yet many are finding it difficult to land a position they’ve dreamed about for so long.

Instead of struggling to get into that dream position, try these five tricks that will help you stand out and get noticed in the hiring process.

Don’t Forget To Network

Even if you don’t get the job, every interview you do is a chance to build your network. As important as it is to connect with business owners and hiring managers, it’s also important to connect with the people in your industry that have the job you want.

While there are many ways to make these connections, one of the most effective ways today is through social media. Professional sites like LinkedIn can help you identify the people who hold the same position as the one you want. By talking to them about how they found their way to that position, you can develop a road map to achieving your dreams.

Be Qualified (But Know Your Value)

Education is important. Whether you are looking for an office job, a position as a mechanic, or a spot on a dog grooming team, you need some amount of education. Before you go chasing your dream job, know what qualifications companies are looking for. If you don’t meet those qualifications, identify what you can do to tackle them.

Yes, you need to be qualified. Who wants a surgeon who only watched YouTube videos to learn how to remove your appendix? That being said, education isn’t everything these days. Real-world experience and the quality of that experience are just as important, if not more so to some companies.

As you’re job hunting, remain humble, regardless of your qualifications. You could be the most qualified person in the room, but if you have an attitude of arrogance, chances of you being hired into that dream job are slim.

If you’re just starting out in the field, take any opportunity you can. Even if it’s a temporary place-holder, it’s money coming in and it’s building your real-world experience. Always remember that any progress is good progress toward your goal.

Finally, be realistic with your expectations. You might find your Number One dream job, but if you don’t meet their qualifications, you should be honest with yourself about your chances. It will save you a lot of disappointment in the long run.

Know What You Want

To achieve a goal, you have to know what the destination looks like. By identifying what you want in life personally and professionally, you’ll be able to dream big without being aimless in your endeavors.

Make sure to take into account what your dream job will do to your life. You might want to be an accountant more than anything in the world, but if you have a child, you need to factor in the cost of childcare and the impact of you not being at home during the day. Impacts like this one will be there, regardless of what your dream job is. The secret is learning to accept those things or moving on to another dream.

Take Action

You also won’t go anywhere if you aren’t trying. Get a head-start from your competition by setting alerts for new jobs on your job bulletin. You should also plan on starting early. Even if you’re not quite done with college, you can still apply for the jobs. You might end up in a position you aren’t thrilled with in your dream company. Take it and enjoy the experience.

Set Your Story

The days of anonymity are gone. People are posting all of their personal lives on social media and that collectively tells a story. Be aware of the story you’re telling with your actions and words. And of course, be sure to package yourself creatively, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad.

While these seem like easy solutions, they can have a lasting impact on your health and professional development. By applying every one of these changes, you’ll be able to land that dream job in no time!

How To Craft An Effective Newsletter In 6 Easy Steps

One of the easiest and most effective marketing tools you can use is an email newsletter. It allows you to build your brand, engage with your customers and even close sales. As you send email newsletters on a regular basis, you’ll also be able to build a relationship with your customer base and demonstrate an industry knowledge, creating more trust and leading to higher sales volumes.

Here are a few of the areas that you should focus on when crafting your email newsletter.

Plan It Out

To start off, you need to plan out your email newsletter. It seems easy to just write it up and send it out, but that won’t get you the result you’re looking for. First, know what kind of newsletter you want to send.

Whatever the focus of your email newsletter will be, keep it consistent. If you’re sending out a newsletter focused on business tactics and tips, you shouldn’t include a recipe for your grandmother’s cornbread.

You also have to give your customers a reason to sign up for your newsletter. You can incentivize them by offering a discount or coupon. Once you do that, be sure to set expectations from the get go, as for how often you’ll be sending newsletters and what content the readers can expect.

You should also figure out the look of your email newsletter. Pick a color scheme, one that follows the same look as your official website. You should stick to this color scheme going forward. You should also pick out a newsletter template that you’ll stick to. This will make your newsletters predictable for your readers.

Start Strong

With everything planned out and ready to go, you can finally write your newsletter. Nothing will kill your open rate like not starting strong. The first thing most of your readership will see is the subject line. These are statistics from leading data about newsletters:

  • 35% of the recipients will open an email newsletter based solely on the subject line.
  • 69% of people report emails as spam based on subject lines. That means your email subject line has the power to make or break you.
  • 82% of marketers say a personalized subject line leads to more opens
  • 75% of experts agree that a personalized subject line drives higher click-through rates.

Consider a few subject line options and try testing them out. Over time, you’ll hone your skills and know what will work best for your readers.

Along with making your subject line engaging, you have to pay attention to the opening of your email to grab their attention. If they aren’t interested in what you have to say, they’ll click away.

Context Clues

The content of your newsletter is crucial to building a successful following rather than having a bunch of people unsubscribe. To set yourself up for success, you need to connect with the reader, showing them how your brand and your products can provide them something of value or improve their lives.

Keep your content and your design short and simple so the message of your newsletter is clear. This will also help you personalize your content.

Throughout your newsletter, stick to the goal and focus of your newsletter. If you are jumping between topics or trying to cover too much ground, you’ll lose your audience. Instead, focus on being relevant.

Whether it’s highlighting new products or teaching your readers how to do something, make sure you’re on topic and relevant, it’ll matter to the reader. You want to keep your newsletter about 90% educational and 10% promotional.

Another thing you can do to connect with your reader is to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your operation. Introduce them to your workers. Show them your packed stock room. Send them pictures of your notes. Whatever your behind-the-scenes view is, give them a peek. It’ll help them feel a part of your business.

Visuals

While the content of your newsletter is critical to keeping your readers reading, visuals can certainly help. Adding simple things like pictures, graphics,, and animations can give you new ways of condensing information in an easy-to-read format. You might also consider using a brand mascot that helps with brand recognition.

An important part to adding visuals is adding alternative text to them. Better known as alt text, this is a way to add a short description of your visuals in case your readership has their images turned off for emails or in case you have readers with visual impairments.

This will also keep you from having chunks of blank space in your newsletter, keeping it more visually appealing and easier to read.

Nail The Closing

Just like you need to start strong, you have to finish strong. Consider closing with an offer, discount, or coupon. This will help incentivize your readers to keep reading in the hopes of another savings.

You might also have the offer connected with your primary call to action. Making sure you only have a single call to action is important or you’ll split the deck on what people choose to do.

You need to include links to your brand’s social media pages. This further allows your readers to engage with your brand. It can also help you in offering social proof, or demonstrating that a large group of people your readers trust would recommend and use your brand. This can improve the chances of your readers making a purchase.

Final Touches

Once you’ve sent the newsletter, you have to track, test, and optimize each one. That’s how you will know what to use in the future. You also have to come up with a way to send your email newsletters consistently. If you aren’t sending them on a schedule, your readers will likely miss them in their inbox.

As you do these things, you’ll find your email newsletters becoming your favorite marketing tactic. Along with marketing, it’s a way to connect with and form a relationship with your customer base. This will help you as a brand to grow and thrive.

How To Motivate Your Customer Service Team For The Long Haul

Your customer service team is your first line of defense when it comes to customers. They handle customer complaints, concerns, and questions. They are actually who your customer will likely interact with and how your customers will develop an opinion of your brand. And because of that, your customer service team has to stay motivated for the long haul.

Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about how you can better motivate your customer service team.

Encourage Individual Growth

One of the best ways to motivate your team is to help them grow both professionally and personally. For their professional growth, you should engage in regular training sessions that actually help them learn the techniques to be better in customer service situations. Things like deescalation training, how to make small talk, ways to connect with the customers, and how to multitask are all great places to start.

You may also want to look into seminars and conferences or classes that your team could attend. These should have experts giving more insight into their position and providing the advice your team will need to be excellent in their day-to-day activities.

Personally, you can help your team grow, too. They spend a huge amount of their lives at work, making it important that their personal growth makes an appearance at work. Help them identify their goals in life and how they want to accomplish that. For example, you can help your team achieve better health by creating a wellness program for them. It will improve their lives while helping them feel more motivated to work hard for the company.

Give Them The Right Tools

Obviously, your team can only be efficient and effective with the right tools. Make sure they have all the equipment they need to do their job well, from training to physical equipment. Stay up-to-date on the best tools in the industry and consider having a part of your budget there to cover the expense of new equipment.

One of the crucial tools for success is autonomy. Your team needs to know that you trust them to make certain decisions. Without a mutual trust, they will never feel like they are progressing in their position and you will continue to see a large number of calls referred to supervisors. Instead, make sure your customer service team is well-trained and fully equipped to handle the majority of situations.

Strengthen The Team

Your team will always work better when working as a team. Start to encourage this by listening to their feedback. You are an essential part of the team and you should trust the feedback you’re getting when making decisions.

Additionally, you need to regularly help them participate in team building activities. These can be something as simple as a team coffee break or as elaborate as going out into the community and doing charity work together. The act of doing something together outside of work can help broaden their relationships and given them experiences together they may not have gotten otherwise.

You can also help them build as a team by fostering friendly competition. You don’t want to pit one employee against another, but having a little competition will incentivize them to work harder while also helping them appreciate the skills of other team members.

Focus On Appreciation

Think about the last time someone asked you for something. Chances are, if you chose to help them out, you knew you would be appreciated. Appreciation is an excellent motivator. You can use this with your customer service team. Try placing some focus on their purpose and importance within the company. As they see why they are coming to work every day and why others rely on them, they will have context for their daily activities.

You can also help the team show appreciation for and take pride in the brand. Fundamentally, people want to work for a company that they respect. Whether it’s the mission of the company, the quality of the products they’re selling, or the good treatment they get from upper management, there is something that will help them stay connected to the company and the brand, which will then motivate them further.

You should also get in the habit of showing appreciation for the team. Regularly show appreciation for them during team meetings, throughout the week, and individually. This doesn’t always have to be an elaborate thing that you do. Simply bringing in a treat or sending a thoughtful email can make a huge difference.

Know What Motivates Them

Generally speaking, people are motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically. If your employees are intrinsically motivated, consider encouraging their creativity. As they improve their problem solving skills and in their position, that intrinsic motivation will continue to be met.

If you have some employees who are more motivated extrinsically, consider coming up with an employee incentive program. How you structure this is completely up to you! It might be based on how many customer service calls they take in a day or their average rating by customers or even the length of their calls. However you decide to make your incentive program, it can be a great outside motivator for every employee.

How To Host A Great Virtual Holiday Party

Ah, the holidays. It’s the season of giving and gratitude, of chilly nights and short days, of lights and parties. Unfortunately, parties have become somewhat tricky due to the global pandemic. Although gathering in person may be off the table, you can still enjoy an amazing holiday party.

Whether it’s for your family, your friends, or your office, there are tons of ways to celebrate the holidays virtually. With the development of so many video conferencing platforms and many companies offering more online options, you can throw a holiday party that’s just as festive and fun as ever.

Here are a few areas to consider when planning your holiday party. To make your party feel complete, consider picking something from each category. You can also have a themed party using one category or simply pick one event for your virtual holiday bash.

Activities

One of the best parts about holiday parties are all the activities that go along with it. Even virtually, you can still enjoy these activities together. There are the holiday classics like an ugly Christmas sweater fashion show, for instance. You can also try something a little more unique, like taking an online class together.

If you’re planning an office holiday party, use this time to toast your team, acknowledging their hard work during an especially tough year. You could also have a team awards show. With a little planning, you could even send a small trophy or certificate to each member of your team with the award they’ve won.

For a party with friends, you might consider a gift wrapping party. This will help you all get those presents wrapped in time but do it in a fun, communal way. Another fun interactive activity is an at-home scavenger hunt, with points awarded for how many items a person can source from their house. The winner could win holiday cookies or a gift card.

Contests & Games

A little competition can provide a ton of fun to a party with very little extra effort. With so many people making holiday cookies this time of year, why not turn it into a contest? Have everyone decorate some holiday cookies and then vote on which looks the best. A variation on this would be an ornament decorating contest or wreath making contest.

Depending on the size of your group, you could also have a holiday-themed talent show. This will make sure that everyone gets involved and you never know what you might learn about someone in your group.

For a more traditional game night, you could try holiday-themed charades. Have everyone submit their ideas ahead of time and have a moderator send out the suggestion. If you have the time to plan it and know your holiday trivia, try holiday-themed Jeopardy. You will all learn something and have a ton of fun doing it.

Exchanges

A favorite part of the holiday season for many people is the chance to give. Presents and gifts are an excellent way to show someone you care, whether it’s virtual or not. Consider organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange. Especially for an office party, this can be a great way to bring your team together. For a little tongue-in-cheek spin on Secret Santa, have a White Elephant gift exchange. You never know what you could end up with! If you try these, make sure you have everyone send their gifts in advance.

A less expensive way to have everyone give a little holiday cheer is with a recipe exchange. Just like you would a Secret Santa, have everyone send a recipe to another person. For added enjoyment, have everyone make their recipe to enjoy it during the party. Tasty goodies are characteristic of the season, so why not enjoy them together?

Food & Drink

The holidays are a time for food and drink. Everywhere you turn there are treats, rich foods, warm drinks, and spicy beverages. In a real-world party, food and drink would be an obvious thing to provide, but that can often be forgotten in a virtual party. Consider sending out a couple cocktail or mocktail recipes for everyone to enjoy during your holiday party. It will bring a little warmth during this chilly season.

Another way to incorporate drinks into your holiday party while also enjoying a fun activity is with a wine tasting. Because of the pandemic, many liquor stores are offering delivery. Send out a couple vintages to your party attendees and taste them together.

For a family-friendly virtual gathering, try having a hot chocolate and s’mores party. You could send out the ingredients to make the hot chocolate and s’mores before the party, then make them together. The simple act of enjoying something delicious with the people you love is so iconically part of the holidays that it will really accent any party well.

Entertainment

Whether it’s the Hallmark channel Christmas movies or the latest holiday movie on Netflix or a favorite holiday classic, movies are an important part of the holidays for many of us. Luckily, many streaming services are offering party features where you can stream the movie together.

To really make your holiday movie night special, send out some seasonally specific treats, like candy canes, cookies, hot chocolate, popcorn, or cake. Really, any little treat will add that extra touch to the festivities.

Takeaways

We all miss getting together to celebrate, whether for the holidays, a birthday party, or the weekend. But you don’t have to celebrate the season alone. With a virtual party, you can enjoy some of your favorite holiday traditions and with a little creativity, you might find a new holiday tradition that will last for years. Make the season bright with a virtual party and you’ll have a beautiful memory to hold on to forever.

Freelancing: A Better Way To Work And Why

Think about the last desk job you ever had. Maybe you’re sitting at a desk right now, pushing paper from one place to another, watching the hours drag by and wishing for an escape. Desk jobs don’t have to be a requirement to advance your career or the way you live your life. The answer to your boring desk job is freelancing.

The life of a freelancer is one of flexibility and opportunity. Freelancers have the benefit of a deep pool of job opportunities, all of which help advance their career. Along with being a great opportunity to have the life you always dreamed of, it’s an incredibly lucrative industry.

To top it off, with every project you take on, your knowledge of the world grows. As a freelancer, you get a free education about a wide range of topics, all from the comfort of your own home.

There are tons of benefits to choosing the freelancer life and there are many ways to begin your freelancer journey. Here are a few reasons to consider making the leap into freelancing.

Work From Anywhere

Imagine waking up near a tropical, sandy beach with the ocean air gently moving and the smell of paradise surrounding you. This could be your office. Or if you’d prefer, you can go right from your cozy bed to your home office.

You can work absolutely anywhere with an internet connection when you freelance. The world is your office and this allows you so much freedom to explore it or to stay comfortably close to home. Either way, it’s a convenient and pleasant way to work.

Advance Your Career

One of the biggest perks to freelancing is that every effort you put forth is rewarded. Gone are the days where you put forth every ounce of yourself only to have those efforts overlooked or go unacknowledged. With freelancing, you choose the work you do and the clients you work with, allowing you to advance your career as fast as you’d like. Along the way, you’ll earn more and have more potential for income as you advance.

More Opportunity And Better Job Security

Being your own boss is one of the most commonly appreciated parts of freelancing. With that comes the chance to take on bigger and better projects. There is no shortage of companies looking for freelancers so putting forth even a minimal effort can open up a world of opportunity.

And you don’t have to worry about getting fired when your supervisor is yourself. One reason freelancers are so bulletproof is because they are generally multitasking, taking on multiple projects and contracts at a time. Doing so will keep you bringing in money, even when the economy turns.

More Freedom And Control

As a freelancer, you make the rules for yourself. There’s no more office politics to deal with or people to answer to other than yourself and your clients. You control how much work you take on and you control how dynamic your work life is.

If you wanted to, you can focus on a niche area and become a master. Conversely, you can take on many projects from a variety of areas and gain a broad base of knowledge. You control how exciting every day is.

Flexibility

Ever part of freelancing is flexibility: your hours, your dress code, your office, your projects, your workload. Along with that flexibility, you can create your ideal work day easily. You choose the projects you work on and that determines how much money you bring in.

You decide what works best for you as far as your work hours. You get the freedom to dress how you’d like and to have a life outside your job. It’s an entire world of flexibility waiting to be tailored by you for you.

Learning Opportunities

A lesser-appreciated aspect of freelancing is the chance to learn. With every project, you learn a little more. Because you will likely take projects from many different types of businesses and industries, you’ll start to gain an insight into a huge variety of areas.

This will of course make you a more interesting cocktail party guest, but it will also improve you as a person. Where else can you get such a broad education and get paid for it?

The Takeaway

Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you. If you can be disciplined with your time, you can have the workplace and work life of your dreams. With a ton of flexibility and freedom, you will earn more and be happier.

How To Have A Positive Workplace For Your Employees

Think about your ideal workplace. What are the people like? What is your direct supervisor like? How do you feel being there? How do you feel going home?

The fact is, we all want to work somewhere we are appreciated, treated like a human being, and encouraged to be our best. And no one likes leaving work feeling completely emotionally drained, nor the feeling of waking up dreading the 8 to 10 hours you’ll spend at the office. So, what’s the main difference between the ideal workplace and the worst case scenario?

It’s whether a company and leadership can put their employees first or not.

Why It’s Important

In the traditional workplace, there was a straight forward transaction: an employee clocked in and traded time for money. It was as though the company rented someone by the hour. As business and people have evolved over the years, more is expected of companies and their leadership. Rather than simply lording over employees, managers and supervisors are expected to actually care about their employees.

But why? Why should it ever be more than the transactional relationship of yesteryear?

Because the old model didn’t work nearly as well as the new age one. The old model existed with a culture of fear and anxiety permeating offices. People were afraid to mess up because they had anxiety about being yelled at and the terrifying possibility of losing their livelihood. While this might keep someone on the clock, it doesn’t necessarily make them more productive.

Finally, we started paying attention to what motivates people. It turns out people are motivated more by loyalty and a feeling of appreciation than the feelings of dread like before. Keeping your employees in a constant state of uneasiness only manages to distract them and make them less productive.

They’ll also be more likely to quit and move on to a company that values them. That means more turn over and more wasted time and money on your end.

Benefits Of A People First Work Environment

Think back to a time you felt truly appreciated. Did it make you want to quit or did it make you want to keep trying your hardest? Likely, it was the latter. When we feel appreciated and valued, we try harder to do better. As you put your employees first and work to improve the business environment they’re in for 40 hours every week, they’ll prove to be more productive and have better output than before.

Another benefit to this environmental shift is that your employees will start working together as a team. The days of cut throat business cultures aren’t necessarily dead, but it’s phasing out and that’s primarily due to all employees feeling valued rather than pitted against each other.

Competitiveness can be a good thing, but when it’s the primary feeling of your company’s culture, then you stand little to no chance of employees actually working together. This will lead to less work getting done and what does get done won’t be nearly as good as it could have been.

Ultimately, having employees who leave work happy will make for a society of better citizens. When you leave work after an awful day and then run right into traffic, many of us turn to expletives and hand gestures. We go home to our families upset and irritable, making their lives miserable, too.

The problem snowballs and society is the worse for it. In contrast, having employees who feel valued and appreciated will lead to happier employees at the end of the day, so their off time is spent in better moods, spreading the joy rather than the anger.

How You Can Improve Your Company Culture

Changing an entire company’s culture doesn’t happen overnight, but it does start at the top. You have to be the one to start caring. Care about your employees and their lives, what they’re going through, how they’re feeling. Care that they are human beings and treat them as such, rather than treating them as underlings.

Place a focus on employee growth. If your employees feel that you are investing in them, they will invest in you. Doing the same thing every day can become monotonous but offering training or education benefits can motivate your employees with new skills. They will repay the investment ten fold.

You should also consider a company wide focus on wellness, both physical and mental. There’s been a shift in the last few years where people are focusing on their self care. As you start to care about your employees’ wellness, they will start to care, too. This will make for a healthier, happier, more balanced team of people who come to work more days of the year and are willing to work even harder for you.

Finally, learn to put people before business. Say you have an employee who’s just lost a close family member. Instead of having them fill out a bunch of paperwork to simply take a couple days off to grieve and attend a funeral, offer them a couple of weeks.

Do you know your employee is having trouble getting to work on time because they have to drop their kids off at school? Why not figure out an arrangement that works for both of you?

The most important thing to remember is that your employees are just people, the same as you. The only difference is who gets the bigger office. Everyone has issues in their life and everyone is motivated by the same things: feeling appreciated, feeling seen, and feeling special.

As you put your employees first, your company culture will change and this change in environment will have an impact on both your business and the people who devote their lives to it.

Overwhelmed? These 10 Techniques Can Help You Cope With Uncomfortable Feelings

Whether it’s financial stress, your relationships, a big work deadline, or just the world we live in, stress is all around us. It finds its way into almost every aspect of our lives, leading many of us to begin to fall in a mental hole: becoming overwhelmed.

While we use one word to describe the feeling, being “overwhelmed” actually includes symptoms of depression, tension headaches, anger, anxiety, panic, even isolation. All together, this cluster of feelings and symptoms can lead to a poor diet, less exercise, and an overall decline in our health and wellness.

Instead of getting trapped in the same cycle you do every time you get overwhelmed, try some of these techniques the next time you start to feel like it’s all too much.

Focus On Boundaries

A commonly known phrase says that fences make for better neighbors. The same is true when we put fences up psychologically in our lives. For example, creating a boundary about what work you will and won’t bring home, or what favors you are and are not willing to do for certain people in your life.

Take some time to identify what things are contributing to your feelings of being overwhelmed and decide what boundaries you need to set up to create more harmony within yourself.

Don’t Be Afraid To Vent

You know that feeling when you just need to unleash all your stress and frustration, so you go to a trusted friend or partner and suddenly it all comes out? That’s the perfect example of venting. We all need to vent sometimes.

Even if you don’t have someone you can talk to, you can still vent to yourself. Get a journal or notebook and spend a few minutes every day venting about the things making you feel overwhelmed. Chances are, you will feel loads better after.

Let Some Things Go

As much as we would like to be able to say yes to everything and do everything, it’s just not feasible. If you find you are constantly overbooked and overwhelmed because of it, consider letting some of the things on your to do list go. You don’t necessarily have to give up on everything.

Consider using the 4D’s method: Delete; Delegate; Defer; and Do. You can simply cancel certain tasks or obligations. Others you might be able to delegate to another person. If you can put off something, go ahead and do that! What you’re left with are your “Do’s,” the things that you actually need to worry about.

Remove Yourself

Just like we do with our children, sometimes we need to put ourselves in a time out. Even a few minutes removed from a situation that is making you feel overwhelmed can help you to gain some perspective and come back to it with a fresh mind.

Be careful of falling into the trap of procrastinating too long or using this as an excuse to avoid your responsibilities. Simply set a timer and let yourself mentally and physically remove yourself from the overwhelming task.

Focus On One Thing At A Time

We all think we are great at multitasking, but science says otherwise. You will never be as productive on something when your attention is split. Instead, let yourself work on a single task for a determined amount of time. Once that amount of time is over, you can switch to the next thing and come back to the first task.

Be Okay With Imperfection

The quest for perfect could be your top reason for feeling overwhelmed. Take the example of drawing a perfect circle. You might go into the task of drawing a perfect circle feeling confident.

You’ve drawn plenty of circles in your lifetime! But once you draw the circle, you notice a flaw. Not a problem, you try again. Then you see another flaw. Soon your whole sheet of paper is filled with nearly-perfect circles and you have to get a new piece of paper and start over entirely!

The same cycle is repeated when you approach your work and life tasks with the same sense of perfectionism. At some point, you have to let yourself be a little imperfect. A nearly-perfect completed task is better than an incomplete task.

Get Out Of Your Own Way

Going along with letting yourself be a little imperfect, you have to learn how to get out of your own way. We all have a tendency to overthink things, especially when they have to do with our professional lives.

The problem with overthinking is that it can stunt you, even damn you, in once place. You could stay in that same spot for years because you are simply overthinking.

The root of this is fear: fear that you won’t be good enough, that you can’t do something, that it won’t be perfect. Instead of letting yourself wallow in that fear, overcome it by acting! Just make one little step toward your goal or the completion of your task and you will find it’s likely not as scary as you thought.

Take Aways

Whatever the reason for your feeling of being overwhelmed, there are ways to overcome it. Instead of letting fear and perfectionism weigh you down, take one step toward the finish line. Let yourself focus on one thing at a time, and if you need to vent then do it! Take a time out and allow yourself to reset. And never be afraid of eliminating some of the causes of your overwhelmed feeling.

How Technology Has Become the Catalyst For Business Innovation

In our technology-driven marketplace, consumers are constantly evolving. We are inundated with new products and platforms, and the constant change that comes with it. Because the needs and attention of consumers are always shifting with these changes, businesses must adapt through their own innovations.

When we think about how innovation happens, we may find a few ingredients to help a business that wants to adjust their strategy. There is no set formula for effecting necessary changes, but leading experts tell us that one of the most important parts involved in changing business tactics is also one of the things initiating these movements in the marketplace: technology.

Technology’s role in marketplace changes

To explore how technology spurs these marketplace changes that are requiring businesses to innovate, we can look at the example of print media.

For generations, print media – for example, newspapers and magazines – were the source of our news. These were our main way of staying informed. For local communities, it was how changes within a community were progressing. And then came the internet.

We all saw as print media began to suffer. The new-kid-on-the-block was stealing the focus and the physical products were becoming obsolete. In the last two decades, many people have transitioned from getting the daily newspaper or having a magazine subscription to simply catching the stories they want to read online. They look to social media platforms and digital print.

So, print media adapted. They used technology to adjust their model and innovated their product to become enticing to the consumer. Now, major publications have online subscriptions; they still use ads to bring in revenue, though these are now online; and they use social media to increase their readership.

How technology fits with innovation

As we see with the example of print media, the same technology that could be the reason to consider a change could also be the way you make that change.

In fact, innovation in business could be boiled down to meaning a new way to drive efficiency. One of the hallmarks of technology is its ability to help us become more efficient.

Anyone who has worked in the marketplace has the memory of a time before computer systems were so widely used, when paper was king and stacks and stacks of files were everywhere, even requiring their own room in the workplace.

As technology advances, it finds ways to make our businesses more efficient. A survey by PwC showed that “70% of CEOs invest in IT to reduce costs and become more efficient, and 54% allocate funds to emerging technologies to help drive growth.”

Why is technology so important for innovation?

Technology is improving business in many ways. One that we can’t ignore is how much it improves the human element. More and more technology is being developed to identify and resolve human errors. It also allows us to test out products, our marketing campaigns, our message in a low-cost and at speeds that were once considered a fairytale.

Technology is also helping to create new markets. An example is AI technology. It is becoming a more readily available and widely used tool in business thanks to its increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

According to a Harvard Business Review survey, “25% of the 250 business executives in their survey think AI will help them pursue new markets.” With this we see that technology is helping to forge a path for businesses to explore new avenues.

Finally, technology is innovating the way we reach customers. Social media platforms in the last decade have allowed for lower advertising costs and the concept of “going viral” is the goal of many new companies.

On the opposite side of the coin, customers are using the new advancements in technology to find small businesses they may not have had access to before. Ultimately, technology is innovating our business’s relationship with the consumer.

Take-aways

Technology is here to stay, but not here to stay the same. It will constantly evolve and we can and should evolve with it. It will help us become even more efficient through new methods of reaching customers and new ways for customers to find us.

In the recipe for business success, technological innovation is key