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INSURANCE
Don't Let Disaster Close Your Doors Forever
Have you thought about how a natural disaster could send your business plans on a drastic detour? These events can cripple a small business, and many find it difficult to recover. Reopening your doors requires strategic effort. Use the following tips to weather the storm and successfully rejoin the marketplace post-disaster.

Contact the team: Communication is key after a disaster. Confirm that everyone is safe, and then determine if anyone is able to report to work. Remain in frequent communication with your team about the status of the business and plans to move forward.

Claim the loss: Before you begin cleaning or restoration, contact your insurance provider. Start the claims process as soon as possible. Consult with your agent to determine whether you can begin repairs or whether you should wait for authorization to ensure coverage.

Relocate the business: Determine whether you will be able to reopen in the same location or whether you need to find a new home for your business. If your location is temporarily unusable after the disaster, but you can't afford to shut down completely, look for an interim solution. Consider offering services to another company in exchange for space for your temporary operations.

Restore the records: As you clean up from the disaster, save all files you can recover. Make repairs to salvage as much as possible, and request fresh copies of any records you cannot recover.

Assess the safety: Before bringing any employees back on-site, take proper precautions with signage and caution tape to mark any areas that remain hazardous.

 
HOT BIZ TRENDS
Top Marketing Strategies for Start-Ups
 
Effective marketing efforts are born from clear strategies that target specific marketing objectives.

A start-up needs to make people aware of the company and its products and services and should focus on tactics that provide broad visibility. If yours is a B2C company with offerings aimed at local consumers, place ads in local directories or newspapers. If it's a B2B company, a direct marketing campaign targeted to businesses that match your ideal customer profile is a sound use of marketing dollars.

As the business grows, the focus can shift to attracting new customers. Include a reply coupon in your ads to capture prospects' contact info. Follow up via an email or a text directing prospects to your website or store for special offers or discounts.

Meanwhile, incent existing customers with customer loyalty initiatives. Offer discounts based on increased levels of spending and reward people for spreading the word about your brand. Customer advocacy and referral programs encourage current clients to send new customers your way with discounts, free services, upgrades, or special access to new products.

When it comes to online marketing, consider both organic and paid strategies. Organic marketing leads viewers to your shop, site, or brand through online content. You can drive their journey by posting engaging videos, blogs, tutorials, and social media content.

Paid marketing pushes ads and content to a specific target audience and typically is more upfront in its sales focus. Paid online marketing includes tactics such as banner ads, social media ads, and pay-per-click campaigns.

Don't be afraid to try new tactics if they are based on tried industry trends. Use the technology available to make it work for your business. Invest a little, and you could see big returns.

 
HUMAN RESOURCES
Recruiting and Hiring in the Digital Age
Finding and hiring the right team is vital to the success of any start-up or small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). However, these processes can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help small businesses streamline the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes.

To begin, check out online job boards like Indeed, SimplyHired, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, or CareerBuilder. Use one or more of these sites to prequalify candidates by location, skill requirements, and other criteria.

Next, invite prequalified candidates to take an online survey framed around the knowledge, experience, credentials, and specific skill sets your job opening requires. Online tests can evaluate skills, personality, and behavioral characteristics, including traits that indicate whether a candidate is aligned with your company's values and culture.

Having narrowed the field, your next step is to interview selected candidates. Customizable online interview templates offer a consistent way to interview candidates and enable you to compare them using apples-to-apples criteria.

Once you have determined final qualifiers for your job opening(s), the next task is to verify past employment, education, and background, and check criminal and credit reports. Sites such as BeenVerified, Truthfinder, and Checkmate consolidate these searches efficiently and cost-effectively.

Finally, streamline the all-important step of checking references by making candidates responsible for getting reference letters to you directly via email.

Once you have found and hired the right person, the onboarding process can also be streamlined using customizable online templates, digital signatures, and platforms that store and recall data when needed.

 
INSURANCE
Need Business Insurance? Ask These Questions First
 
You own a small business. You know you need insurance. But what specific coverage do you need?

Before you buy insurance, you must ask yourself several key questions to determine the exact coverage your company requires. The answers to these questions will help guide your conversation with your insurance agent to create the ideal insurance portfolio for your business.

Do you have employees?

If you have employees, you will need workers' compensation insurance. This covers your costs in case of work-related injuries and illnesses. You'll probably also want to carry Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), which protects you if you are sued by an employee over harassment or discrimination issues.

Do you own or rent a business space?

If your business has moved beyond the folding-table-in-the-garage phase, you'll need commercial property insurance to cover the space you use for your operations. This provides coverage for damage to the building that houses your business. Typically, you'll obtain this coverage as part of a bundle policy known as a Business Owner Policy (BOP), which includes property insurance, general liability insurance, and personal property insurance.

Do you accept credit cards?

In today's marketplace, few companies don't conduct some form of business via online payments. While this adds convenience and opportunities, it also opens up your company to risk of cybercrime. Cyber liability insurance provides for costs associated with data breaches.

Do you use commercial vehicles?

Whether you own a fleet of commercial trucks or require employees to use personal vehicles for business trips, you'll need commercial auto insurance. If you're a small shop and use your own vehicle for business, consult with your carrier to determine appropriate coverage. Your personal auto policy might not be sufficient.

Do you manufacture a product?

If you distribute products to the public, you need product liability coverage. This is typically included in the general liability policy that you can obtain as part of the BOP package.

Do you have a lot of reserves?

Some small businesses have a stockpile of cash in the bank that is readily available in case of emergencies. Others do not. If you don't have a lot of reserve cash, an umbrella policy can prove useful in a pinch. This coverage extends your other policies in case a claim exceeds standard policy limits.

Can you afford insurance?

The real question is: Can you afford not to have insurance? The answer is no.

For many small businesses, one natural disaster, one employee accident, or one unhappy customer can prove catastrophic if the proper insurance coverage is not in place. It might be tempting to put your hard-earned funds toward other aspects of growing your business, but those premiums could ultimately save your business from closing. A small investment each year is worth the protection and peace of mind you receive in return.

What's the next step?

Once you've asked these questions to gain a better idea of the coverage you might need, contact your insurance carrier to review your answers. Your agent can provide additional input and help you choose the right policies to keep your company properly protected.
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
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How to Win Big in Today's Economy
The altered economic landscape presents innovative and nimble businesses with opportunities to thrive.
Find out how by requesting my free report "How to Win Big in Today's Economy" by replying to this email.
Just reply to this email and I'll send it right out to you.
 

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What are the Galilean Satellites?

Worth Reading
Prioritize Which Data Skills Your Company Needs with This 2x2 Matrix
By Chris Littlewood
 
Harvard Business Review
 
More and more jobs require workers who can analyze and use data effectively. Opportunities to learn these skills may seem endless. Deciding which to learn can be difficult. This article offers a matrix to help you prioritize. The best skills are those that take little time to learn and are the most useful for you now or in the future.

Battle of the Bots

Hubspot

As messaging apps continue their popularity, companies are increasingly using bots to interact with customers. The intent behind these bots is good, but bots can quickly become as frustrating as their predecessors. This article describes how your business can maximize the power of bots. The key is to understand how bots can create conversational experiences orientated around helping customers.

How to Create a Big Online Presence for Your Small Business
By Andrew Gazdecki


Forbes

Small businesses cannot afford to neglect the power of digital marketing. Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to attracting new customers and keeping old ones. This article breaks it down into three parts. First, companies need to show up by having a digital presence. Second, they need to invest in the space. Just like owning physical properties, digital spaces need to be maintained. Third, companies succeed by studying competitors’ achievements and failures.

LINKS YOU CAN USE
This Month - Business Budgeting
Expenses. Profits. Revenue. The bottom line. Some business owners love these terms and enjoy crunching numbers. Others cringe at their mention and hate the thought of budgeting. Either way, they're an essential part of managing a business. Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum, use the following links to enhance your business budgeting:

Not sure how to get started? Here are the basics:
How To Start a Business Budget

If you need a few tips to improve your budgeting methods, find 10 here:
10 Budgeting Tips For Your Business

Wondering how much of your budget should be devoted to advertising and marketing? Gain insight with these facts and figures:
How Much Do Small Businesses Spend on Advertising and Marketing?

Does your budget match your business strategy? Use these tips to keep these two in alignment:
The 5 Essentials for Aligning Your Budget With Your Business Strategy

Budgets that were good only at New Year's aren't good at all. Discover how to build a year-round plan:
How to Build and Use a Business Budget That's Useful All Year Long
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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