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Archives for March 2019

Performance Reviews

Conducting successful performance reviews

Your staff are the backbone of your business, and their success is going to help your business succeed. An important, but often-overlooked part of this is holding regular performance reviews.

Rather than being an administrative drag, or something that you or your staff members dread, performance reviews can be a really valuable and constructive process. They can enhance your relationships with employees and the performance of your organisation. Here’s what you need to know:

They need to happen on a schedule

Whether they are every year, every six months or even every three months, it’s important to set a schedule and stick to it. If it comes to the day and your employee finds that their meeting with you has been bumped due to a ‘more important’ commitment, this can send a very clear message to them about how much you value their contribution. Instead, make sure you both know when these meetings are happening. This will also give both parties time to really consider what you want to discuss. Turn up prepared and ready for a two-way conversation.

Prepare for the meeting

Whether you’re having a tough conversation or giving praise, go in with specific examples, and chat with other senior team members to get their supporting feedback. It’s important that you pay special attention to anything that isn’t borne out by the experience of other staff members. This is a valuable opportunity to examine any biases that you might be holding. A tough process, but a necessary one for any manager.

Create the right environment

Put some thought into the environment you want to create. If you have a strong relationship with your employee and you’re looking forward to another constructive conversation, perhaps this is a chat that can happen over an off-site coffee. If this is a more serious check-in chat, make sure you’ve got a private meeting room where you can both talk candidly without worrying about anyone listening in.

Keep a record

Working with an employee over time can be a wonderful thing for your business. It’s really important that you have records which reflects the progress that they have made and the ways in which you have been able to support them. It’s essential to take notes during each meeting and record these notes in a way that you’ll easily be able to access later. This also gives you a reference for what you need to follow up, such as whether you’ve discussed a schedule for a pay increase, professional development opportunities or additions to the employee’s role.

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What you need to consider before you take your business overseas

A globalised and digitally connected world means that your business isn’t restricted to one country. Expanding your business overseas gives you access to new audiences and a little protection should anything happen to destabilise your home market.

But, as with all things in business, proceed with caution. While the saying ‘no risk, no reward’ holds true, it’s important to fully understand what’s at stake before making the decision.

What you need to consider:

Tax implications

It’s essential that you understand the tax implications of this new market before you invest any money or time into your business development. Make sure that this is your first step, and talk to us, we can help.

The local market

Don’t assume that what’s working for you locally will necessarily transfer to a new market. It’s important to research trends, and set objectives specific to the new market. Your product or service might enjoy a lack of competition at home, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find an equal overseas.

As well as market trends, pay attention to the political and economic climate. Make sure that you’re engaged with what’s happening in the area, and understand anything that could be poised to disrupt your business success.

Increased costs

Whether you’ll be shipping from your home country or looking to despatch locally, it’s likely that this could cost you more than it does at home. Don’t forget that if you are using local services for either shipping or production you will probably need to make at least one trip to meet the team who will be supporting your business.

Your website

There are a number of changes that you may need to make to your website. Customers may prefer to shop in their own currency rather than relying on a conversion at check out. You may decide to include some local imagery or add other touches to demonstrate that your new potential customers aren’t just an afterthought.

If your new market speaks a different primary language, you will have to decide whether you will translate your site or let Google Translate do the job for you. Also, find a local language speaker who can check that your product names or company name don’t mean anything that could offend once translated.

Finally, if your new customers are in the EU, you will need to make sure that your business and the way you plan to manage customer data is GDPR compliant (a regulation that protects the data and privacy of EU citizens).

Customer support

Dealing with customers in a different time zone may mean hiring additional customer support staff so that any queries can be dealt with quickly. Companies like CloudPeeps can be good places to find support and marketing team members in different parts of the world.

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6 ways to measure the health of your business

6 ways to measure the health of your business

When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activity and lose sight of the big picture. Taking stock of the health of your business is important. Knowing where you’re allows for more effective planning, early warning about any issues, and the chance to better chart a course for success.

There are some quick ratios that will help you in order to gauge the health of your business. We can help you to assess your business health and show you how to calculate these vital checks.

Liquidity Ratios

Liquidity ratios are about how quickly you can turn your business assets into cash – which helps you assess whether you’ll be able to pay the bills.

High ratios are better, as this means you’ve got more assets than liabilities.

Current ratio

Current ratio = Total current assets / Total current liabilities

As a general guideline, 2:1 is a good current ratio, but this does depend on the kind of industry you’re in, and the nature of the assets and liabilities.

Quick ratio

Quick ratio = (Current assets – stock on hand) / Current liabilities

This measure excludes your existing stock, which you may not be able to quickly turn into cash, and is seen as a more realistic quick snapshot of your position.

Solvency ratios

Solvency ratios look at sources other than cash flow to see whether your business will be able to settle debts.

Leverage ratio

Leverage ratio = Total liabilities / Equity

This is a measure of whether your business is reliant on debt financing or equity to fund your assets. A higher ratio can make it harder to borrow money.

Debt to assets

Debt to assets = Total liabilities / Total assets

This tells you what percentage of assets is being financed by liabilities.

Profitability ratios

Profitability ratios will let you know how efficient your business operations are. Where possible, it’s good to measure your business against others in your industry.

Gross margin ratio

Gross margin ratio = Gross profit / Total sales

This ratio tells you whether you can cover the necessary business overheads from your sales.

Net margin ratio

Net margin ratio = Net profit / Total sales

This measure tells you the percentage of sales dollars left after you’ve settled your expenses, except for your income taxes.

Checking in on your business health is a great habit to get into. Using these ratios helps you to understand your current business health and allows you to plan. Talk to us about how to calculate the factors in these ratios in order to keep your business on the right track.

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The Weakest Link: Security

The weakest link: Why security is everyone’s responsibility

For many of us, the internet is not just an intrinsic part of our lives, it’s integral to how we do business. It enables businesses to connect to global markets and complete transactions in minutes.

As we take advantage of the opportunities the internet has to offer, online security becomes a priority. This means being vigilant about keeping sensitive data and information secure from hackers and cybercriminals – just as you’d keep your home or your car safe by locking it.

Statistics from online security software vendor Norton show that 978 million people in 20 countries were affected by cybercrime in 2017. It’s an unfortunate fact that the impact of cybercrime is a reality for all businesses.

However, a system is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Security needs to be strong on all fronts and it’s important that businesses are committed to protecting themselves and their customers from attacks. As a business, it’s your responsibility to safeguard not only your own information but, more importantly, the sensitive data that your customers and employees have entrusted you with.

Here are some simple, easy-to-implement steps that will help you better protect your information and that of your customers online.

Have strong, unique passwords

Over 80% of breaches occur due to stolen or weak passwords. Always use a strong, unique password for each site you log in to. While this may seem extreme, particularly in an age of multiple logins, different passwords will help prevent a compromise of one login becoming a compromise of many. You can use password manager software to help you use your multiple logins and to generate strong passwords for you. Password manager software securely stores all of your usernames and passwords, on your desktop or in the cloud, so you just need to remember the password for your password manager.

Use two-step authentication

2SA or two-step authentication equates to having that extra deadbolt on the door. 2SA works by having

two layers of security: first you enter your existing password, then another verification code is generated by an app on your smart device.

Update your software

Security threats are changing all the time and new software vulnerabilities are identified every day. Keeping your operating system and applications up to date is your first line of defence. Many attacks exploit a known software vulnerability that could have been patched. Set your system preferences to update automatically and delete applications you don’t use.

Having up-to-date anti-malware (anti-virus software) is another simple but effective way to protect yourself. Anti-malware will scan your attachments and downloads as you use them and alert you to any malicious software detected. Make sure your anti-malware is updated regularly so it’s able to detect new viruses, trojans, ransomware, and the like.

Backup your local data

While computer hardware is pretty reliable these days, failures still happen. Then there are malicious acts such as theft and ransomware, and accidents and disasters that can prevent access to your data. You need to store copies of your backups at a different site from the source systems so a local disaster doesn’t destroy the backups along with the original data. Cloud backup services can address this need and make your data available from anywhere with an internet connection.

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