Millions of buyers from growth companies rely on Business.com to acquire the knowledge, products and services they need to run and grow their businesses. Our mission is to help people grow their businesses.
The United States is alone among the world's major economies in not federally requiring mandated paid leave for family time and illnesses. However, employers should think twice about foregoing paid leave just because it is not legally required. While paid leave does represent a cost, consider it more of an investment than a simple expense. The bottom line is paid leave policies are good for businesses as well as their workers.
"One of the arguments against having a paid leave policy is that it forces businesses to move somewhere that is more 'business friendly,'" said Karen White, director of the work and family programs at the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. "The truth is that doesn't happen. We've found time and time again that paid leave does not break the bank."
Researchers have demonstrated that offering paid leave results in higher productivity, greater employee morale, and a net cost savings for companies in the long run. So, while budgetary-minded business owners might initially be wary of the additional expenses added to the balance sheet, the numbers show that paid leave more than covers itself in the end.
Family and medical leave
In some states, paid family leave is offered through state-backed Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs, meaning employees pay into the system but, generally, employers do not. In states without a TDI program, however, the only mandated requirement is that companies extend 12 weeks of job-protected leave – without pay – to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Paid sick leave, on the other hand, is generally an employer-sponsored plan not mandated or supported by the government in any way. It's important to note this distinction when discussing the types of paid leave policies and who is funding them. Each offers important benefits, though, to both companies and workers.
One of the major benefits of implementing paid leave policies is improved productivity. Research conducted by the Center for American Progress in 2016 found that of 753 survey participants, 87 percent reported no cost increase associated with a paid leave program, and 89 percent reported a positive effect or no noticeable change in overall productivity.
In terms of paid sick leave, workers who would otherwise come into work sick – either because of a need to make money or fear of losing their position – are free to stay home, thereby protecting the rest of the workplace from infection. The spread of communicable disease has a devastating effect on productivity; for example, a New Jersey restaurant was forced to shut down for more than a week after a sick worker caused a mumps outbreak.
"Presenteeism is when people go to work sick and cause public health issues," White said, "and the fact is that if people were able to take the time to stay at home and take care of themselves [with pay], this would not happen as often."
On the family leave side, many employers already offer family leave, even if they are not required to do so by law. However, many small businesses do not or cannot extend paid leave to their employees. When workers have the security of knowing they won't miss out on pay due to caring for a newborn or a family member, they tend to be less stressed in the workplace and more focused on their assigned tasks, reducing mistakes and increasing overall productivity.
"A happy, more satisfied employee who is not stressed out about family care issues is much more able to focus on doing a better job," White said.
Heightened employee morale
Paid leave policies also have the impact of boosting employee morale, which leads to improved retention rates and better talent acquisition. By offering paid leave, companies are promoting a healthier work-life balance, which also contributes to the aforementioned stress reduction that translates into better day-to-day productivity.
"We're in a time where workplace policies need to keep up with the realities of workers and their families," White said. "Workers are paying attention to the kinds of benefits they're being offered when they consider new jobs."
In other words, if you want to bring on the best talent available, you need to meet their demands for good compensation and benefits like paid leave.
"We did research on women in law firms, and what we found was that law firms invest an enormous amount of time and resources in hiring and training new attorneys, but if they don't provide paid family leave, when female attorneys go off on maternity leave, they are less likely to return," White said. "So off goes all those training dollars, time, and resources invested in that person."
By offering a paid leave program and boosting retention rates, companies can avoid losing workers they've already substantially invested in and who know the way the workplace operates.
The case for paid leave
Paid leave, particularly family and medical leave, offers tangible business benefits that not only improve workplace morale but can help boost profitability in the long-term. From improved employee retention to heightened productivity, business owners reap the rewards of offering their employees what they need.
As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records has said, putting your staff first translates into success for your customers, your shareholders, and your overall business. Paid leave isn't just a cost, it's an investment in your staff, and it pays big dividends.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business this year? If you're like many leaders and executives, the issue keeping you up at night is talent – how to build a culture that is primed to attract and retain talent in the 21st century.
In fact, it's a battle out there for the best talent. With baby boomers retiring at a pace of about 10,000 a day, there's dearth of talent ready to replace them even as job growth creates more opportunity for today's workers than ever before. Technology like social media makes it easier to find people, but it also makes it easier for those same people to jump ship if they're dissatisfied, and to spread the word to others about cultures that don't measure up.
All of this is putting organizations in an all-out battle to attract and retain skilled talent, with culture as the secret weapon. To win, start with a visit to the bookshelf. I've been fortunate to have early access to some of 201's most eagerly anticipated books on organizational culture. Here are five that are must-reads if you're ready to build a more engaged culture.
"The Science of Story" by Adam Fridman, Andy Swindler and Hank Ostholthoff. As part of their research for this book, Fridman and Ostholthoff interviewed more than 500 business leaders from some of the country's top brands and most innovative startups about the purpose that drives their organizations. The result is "The Science of Story: Brand is a Reflection of Culture," which outlines Fridman, Swindler's and Ostholthoff’s findings from those conversations. It's backed by solid research into culture, engagement, positive psychology and more. This book is one of the most highly anticipated culture and branding books of 2018. It is a must-read for culture leaders and branding enthusiasts seeking to understand how brands can communicate what they believe, discover their purpose, ignite and engage internal and external tribes, and create an impact around the beliefs and purpose that drive their organizations.
"The Culture Code" by Daniel Coyle. Wondering what skills the best cultures possess and others don't? "The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups" breaks down the essential three skills that are found on the best teams. They include an emphasis on building safety, sharing vulnerability and risk, and establishing purpose. Building safety means signaling connections to build bonds of identity and belonging while sharing vulnerability is about mutual risk driving trusting cooperation. The third and most important skill is establishing purpose through storytelling that creates a narrative of shared goals between the group and the individual. Coyle's findings on safety and purpose echo recent research by Google teams around psychological safety and meaning. According to Google, high-performing teams must feel safe to take risks and feel that their efforts have meaning and impact.
"Alive at Work" by Dan Cable. What causes people to engage with their work, or not? "Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do," seeks to answer this question from the perspective of neuroscience. According to Cable, professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School, humans are not wired for the type of repetitive and emotionally unrewarding labor they're often asked to do. Instead, we evolved with a "seeker gene" that makes us desire the stimulation of new tasks. In the past, organizations leveraged fear to keep people in line. Today, organizations must build cultures based on the science behind human motivation; cultures that deliver opportunities to learn and grow that humans are genetically engineered to seek out. The book is due out in March. For those who can't wait, Cable previewed his approach in a series of YouTube videos that share some fascinating insights about how the relationship between people and work is changing in the 21st century.
"The Captain Class" by Sam Walker. It seems that every year out comes a book about sports teams that purports to have applications to business organizations. "The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams," was 2017's entry into the genre. Walker, the former founding editor of the Wall Street Journal's sports section, examines sports teams and the seven traits of leaders that have taken teams to the greatest success. Among these traits? Extreme doggedness, testing boundaries, willingness to lead from the back (or servant leadership), democratic communication style, nonverbal motivation, courage of one's convictions and emotional control. With significant lessons about how leaders set the tone for teams and organizations, "The Captain Class" is one sports-themed book that deserves its place on the culture bookshelf.
"Powerful" by Patty McCord. McCord was a co-founder of Netflix and co-author of the Netflix Culture Deck (one of the most-read culture documents in Silicon Valley). In "Powerful, Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility," she shares insights about how Netflix's culture enabled it to handle the exponential growth it experienced as e-commerce, then streaming, replaced video rentals. One "powerful" insight? "A company's job isn't to empower people; it's to remind people that they walk in the door with power and to create the conditions for them to exercise it." One of the practices at Netflix that she credits with the company's ability to create that type of culture was replacing policies and procedures with coaching. Recent studies support the wisdom of the approach, particularly for managing younger workers: Surveys indicate that millennials seek coaching and feedback 50 percent more often than other workers.
It's a battle out there for talent and the minds of your employees and customers. To win, you must build an engaging culture with a compelling story to tell about what sets it apart from other companies. Further, it must be a culture that's lived, not just claimed by recruiters and marketing materials. It should also be one that delivers competitive advantage to the organization and purposeful engagement to its people. These are the books that can take you there.
Social media is one of the most powerful tools for restaurants and the culinary industry as a whole. With the widespread use of networking sites, consumers often refer to different platforms to confirm whether a dining spot is any good.
Today, online restaurant reviews are more powerful than any marketing strategy – they could make or break any spot. This is the very reason why business owners should make sure they deal with online reviews in the best way possible.
How important is a good restaurant review?
A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that people looking for information on restaurants, cafes and bars rely on the internet. In addition, in the spring of 2017, there were 89.46 million internet users in the U.S. who'd checked restaurant information online in a span of 30 days. These statistics show that a restaurant's online reputation can indeed influence a consumer's dining and purchasing behavior.
A recent social experiment also proved this in the most interesting way. Oobah Butler, a journalist for Vice UK, created a fake restaurant in his backyard and published fake positive reviews on TripAdvisor in an attempt to turn his make-believe restaurant into London's No. 1 dining spot. In just six months, and after several fake marketing materials and online reviews, Butler was able to make a fake restaurant the top spot in London, all thanks to social media.
While this obviously is not the best way to use social media, the experiment only proves how important a positive presence on social is for any business, especially restaurants, cafes and bars. Notably, a 2012 ModernComment infographic revealed that 52 percent of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has positive reviews.
How to deal with bad reviews
According to a ReviewTrackers survey, 51.7 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online reviews within seven days, and 21 percent of those expect a reply within 24 hours. Moreover, ModernComment confirmed that 78 percent of reviewers believe businesses that respond to reviews actually care about them. So it is imperative that restaurants reply to reviews, and all the more if they are negative.
So, how should restaurants, cafes and bars respond to bad reviews? Here are the four R's to a good restaurant review response.
1. Read the review carefully.
Do not act in haste. Take the time to read the comment before responding to any of it. This helps managers and owners understand the issue better, plan a course of action and formulate the best response.
2. Review the issue and what you can do to resolve it.
According to a restaurant owner, 80 percent of complaints happen online, with restaurants finding out about the issue after negative reviews have already been posted on Yelp and TripAdvisor. If this is the case, restaurant management may not even be aware of such a problem. This is why researching the issue is important.
Learn where the problem started and which staff members were involved, and listen to their side of the story. Knowing every detail behind the complaint will help you respond to the consumer in the best way possible.
3. Respond with an apology and a promise to do better.
Ever heard the saying "the customer is always right"? Restaurant owners and managers need to understand that customers have the power to make or break a business. So it should be a top priority to make them feel that your business cares about them enough to address any issues they may have.
All responses should start with an apology, to appeal to the consumer's emotions and make them feel heard and understood. Whether the problem was caused by the restaurant or other parties out of the business's control, it's always best to apologize and follow it with an explanation. At the end, make sure to reassure the consumer that the issue will be dealt with.
4. Reinforce the customer's positive experience.
The response doesn't have to be all negative. If the review had any positive input, make sure to reinforce it. Thank the customer for any good point or compliment they raised in the review. This way, other consumers reading the response will be reminded of the positive details of the restaurant's service.
Whether your restaurant is responding to a review or on Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor or Foursquare, or replying to a comment on Instagram or Twitter, it's important to make the customer feel understood and be empathetic. With a good response to a negative review, any business can turn a hater into a returning consumer.
As 2018 gets moving, cybersecurity remains at the front of many business leaders' minds. Data breaches are a constant threat to your organization's customer data, which means organizations must remain vigilant in their attempts to prevent a cyberattack from breaking through or causing damage.
As attacks develop, so do awareness and defensive tools. To help you be more proactive in preventing these cyber-issues, we asked 12 entrepreneurs from YEC to weigh in on the best tips or applications to improve cybersecurity at your business.
1. Hardware security
"Most businesses pay due attention to cloud security, but hardware security is often ignored. With 100 employees, securing a single cloud structure would be simpler than securing 100 workstations, no doubt, although security-centered risk management gives you easy means to minimize risk. HP's Touchpoint Manager, for instance, lets you monitor protected systems and reduce security vulnerabilities." – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns
2. Data encryption at rest
"This is basic, but it is shocking how many applications do not do this. If you store sensitive customer data, you absolutely must encrypt your data 'at rest' when it is stored in your database(s) and in backups. This takes some extra engineering effort to be able to encrypt and decrypt data during database read/writes, but it protects you in the case of a breach." – Luke Liu, Albert
3. Around-the-clock monitoring
"You can have the best applications, great IT staff and the latest hardware, but unless you have someone watching your back around the clock, you are still vulnerable. Services such as Virtual Auditor remotely monitor your company from top to bottom and make sure you are secure. Further, these companies work to keep current with updates and patches as well." – Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley LLP
4. Cybersecurity education
"No matter how paranoid your IT department is, the people in your organization are going to make decisions every day that impact your risk level. The more you can educate your team on the concepts behind cybersecurity, like privacy, the less likely your team is to do something that could cause a problem (like picking up a USB drive in the parking lot and plugging it into a company computer)." – Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide
5. Blockchain technology
"Blockchain technology will add considerable security to your processes and transactions because it removes extra people and steps in the process where there can be vulnerabilities. Additionally, it is nearly unhackable." – John Rampton, Calendar
6. LastPass Enterprise
"We give each employee a single login to remember and install a browser extension to do the rest. LastPass can automatically log off when the browser is closed or after user inactivity. It can auto-fill passwords, logins and credit card info by giving access to the info rather than giving the information itself. The best part: when people turn over, we can lock them out with a few simple clicks." – Anthony Johnson, Attorney Group
"1Password is the best password manager where all passwords are stored inside a master password. The passwords are encrypted using AES-256 algorithm for best security. The encrypted keys are protected inside a strong master password. 1Password can also be used to generate new strong passwords. It's an all-in-one, safe, secure and reliable app to manage passwords for protection against cyberattacks." – Liam Martin, Staff.com
"We recently invested in Yubico's YubiKey software for our employees. This is a safe and inexpensive way to protect your company and employees from phishing threats. The software is simple to use, and we've implemented it through Gmail. I'd honestly recommend it to companies of all sizes." – Shawn Rubel, Vecteezy
"Duo provides an extensive suite of security solutions, including two-factor authentication. To verify identity, you will need something you know (like a password) and something you have (such as a mobile phone or token). Duo prides itself on simplicity and strength. In today's extremely hazardous cybersecurity environment, those are two qualities you can't live without." – Thomas Smale, FE International
10. Intrusion detection system
"Implementing an intrusion detection system, such as CrowdStrike and Cylance, helps aggregate real-time events from across your enterprise. This helps you respond quickly to any potential intrusion and keeps you from getting hacked." – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
11. Insider threat protection
"Protecting your data from external threats is a given, but something that doesn't garner as much attention in the realm of cybersecurity is the importance of protection from internal threats. A security threat from the inside can be caused by a malicious or careless employee. Constant monitoring and heavy encryption should be emphasized with special tools and a dedicated cybersecurity team." – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
"Use a secure web-hosted end-user password reset management platform that allows users to execute self-service account unlocks and password resets. This type of platform does not require users to have any IT experience. Since this platform is easy to use and it allows all business information to be stored in a secure database, it protects sensitive information and boosts staff productivity." – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
On February 15, 2018, Google rolls out new ad-blocking functionality on its Chrome browser. The most popular browser in the world, with 59.3 percent market share, will now start automatically blocking ads it rules as intrusive. Those include video ads with sound that automatically play, large sticky ads that overtake the bottom of a computer screen and ads that blanket the entire screen. If your company is using any of these tactics in its online advertising, prepare to see click-throughs go way down.
By conforming to the new Better Ads Standards, though, you can avoid those traffic mishaps. The standards outline 12 types of ads it deems "particularly annoying." They were developed from public consumer research by the Coalition for Better Ads, a group focused on improving the web surfing experience. They surveyed more than 40,000 people in North America and Europe to determine the specific elements people hated most about online ads.
Other examples of soon-to-be-blocked ads include ads that fill your screen as you scroll over them on a phone, flashing animated ads, and mobile ads that take up more than 30 percent of your screen.
Going forward, Google will examine a sample of web pages from your site. If your site is running these types of ads, Google will contact you and offer you the opportunity to fix the issues and remove the ads within 30 days. It will tell you if your site is passing, warning or failing.
If you're failing and you fix your issues, you can ask Google to re-review your site. To see how your site ranks, review your ad experience report on Google's Search Console. As of February 12, 2018, Google says 42 percent of sites that were originally failing resolved their issues and obtained a passing grade.
For websites that display problematic ads, Chrome will post a message indicating that an ad was blocked. The user can disable the ad-blocking feature by selecting the "Allow ads on this site" option. The feature will roll out to Chrome browser on all devices running Android, Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS but not iPhones.
Ad blocking is not a new phenomenon. More than 25 percent of current web surfers use ad-blocking technology on the desktop and 15 percent on mobile, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. IAB says that 20 percent of those people were convinced to turn ad blocking off for a site because they were not able to access the site's content. Ultimately, companies following these online ad guidelines may improve ad performance. However, some $12 billion in ad revenue is still expected to be lost by the year 2020 as a result of this type of technology.
There is rarely any notice before a disaster strikes. Even if you have a little bit of time, there are many things that can go wrong, and events often unfold in the most unlikely ways.
This is why you need a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan is vital if you want to survive events like natural disasters, fires, cyberattacks or any other event that could negatively impact operations.
Here is how you can create a business continuity plan that will give your organization the greatest chance of surviving.
What exactly is business continuity?
Business continuity (BC) is the ability to maintain business functions or resume them immediately after a natural disaster, fire or cyberattack. The BC plan runs through processes and instructions the business needs to pursue in the event of a disaster to protect business partners, processes, assets, and human resources. It's not a disaster recovery plan – many people think these two plans are the same – but it's just as important.
Is a business continuity plan essential?
Your business wants to stay competitive, that's a fact. It's essential to retain your customers while gaining new ones. The best way to test your ability to do this is following an unfortunate event.
The future of any business relies on its team and processes. You must ensure you can handle these incidents effectively if you want to make a good name for your company and boost customer confidence. Not doing so can harm your company's reputation. Failure to properly prepare can result in business failure due to lost productivity and financial loss.
Never underestimate the impact of natural disasters and the havoc they can wreak on businesses of all sizes when they are ill-prepared. This is why a BC plan is so important.
The framework of a business continuity plan
If you don't have a plan prepared, it's time to implement one. Assess your business to determine which parts are the most vulnerable. Consider the impending losses if any of those processes are down for one day, three or four days, or even a week.
Use this information to develop a BC plan. This includes these general steps:
Recognize the extent of the BC plan.
Determine critical business areas.
Identify key functions.
Pinpoint dependencies between areas of business and their functions.
Determine the maximum amount of downtime acceptable for each function.
Create a solid plan to sustain all operations and return to normalcy as quickly as possible.
A simple checklist that highlights all equipment and supplies, the location of your backup sites, where to locate the plan and who needs access to it is all you need to put together your BC plan. Don’t forget necessary information, such as phone numbers for your team, emergency responders and site providers.
As you assemble your BC plan, talk to your team to see who has successfully experienced an event in the past. There are ways to become a better leader, and one of those is turning to your team for input and empowering them. These individuals are valuable and can share stories about their experiences along with techniques and helpful ideas that worked in the past. Their insights will likely prove valuable as you craft your BC plan.
The significance of testing the plan
You made sure to follow the important steps in starting a business, now you need to ensure your business continues to thrive. If you don't test your plan, how will you know if it will do its job? Of course, a real disaster is the only true test to realize if the plan works, but controlled testing still provides you the opportunity to pinpoint any gaps in the plan and fine-tune it to improve it.
Rigorously test the plan to ensure that it's inclusive. When you test your plan, make the scenario challenging. If you only do the minimum, you won't really know if your BC plan is strong, and you won't feel as confident when something goes wrong.
Test the plan at least twice per year. The frequency with which you test it will vary based on your business, the turnover of your team, and the number of IT changes and other business processes that have been updated since the previous time it was tested.
These are the most common tests:
A tabletop test involves the team carefully inspecting the plan searching for gaps.
A structured walk-through where each member of the team reviews and acts out his or her portion of the BC plan to identify any weaknesses.
Disaster simulation testing is much more involved and needs to be performed annually. First, you have to create a setting that imitates the disaster and addresses the supplies, equipment and the people it would affect. This will determine whether or not you have the ability to carry out vital business functions in a crisis.
Evaluate and further develop the business continuity plan
There is a lot of effort required to create and test a BC plan. Many business owners forget about the plan once its final draft is complete as other business tasks take precedent. If this happens, the BC plan may become stagnant and is therefore useless when needed.
As technology continues to evolve, team members leave, and new ones are hired, the plan will need to be updated accordingly. The core team needs to reconvene at least twice a year to examine the plan and mull over any parts that should be modified.
Seek feedback from your team and use it to better the plan. Invite people from all departments to assess the BC plan as well.
You want to ensure your business survives a crisis. This is why an up-to-date, tested plan needs to be in the hands of every member in charge of carrying out part of the BC plan. Failing to have a plan in place means your business will take longer than it should to mend from a disaster, and it will face a number of risks that could hurt its bottom line.
You might think accounting is the same across the board, but it can actually differ quite a bit from industry to industry. So what sets restaurant accounting apart? On the surface, it's really not all that different from standard accounting practices – restaurant accounting uses many of the same costing methods, as well as profit and loss (P&L) statements and cash flow reports just like many other industries do. However, much like a restaurant comes with its own unique expenses, restaurant accounting has its own nuances. Here are some of the main things you need to know.
Like other industries, restaurants can use the cash method or the accrual method to do their accounting, though there are some subtle differences. According to Chron.com, restaurants that generate less than $1 million per year can choose their method, but those that generate more than $1 million must use the accrual method.
The cash method is the most common accounting method for restaurants because customers pay for their food and services rendered right away. That means they don't owe you money later on (like what might happen with a construction project). This also means restaurants probably won't have an accounts receivable balance. With this method, activities are simply recorded when payment is received. While this might be the easiest method for restaurants, it's not necessarily the most accurate.
The accrual method, on the other hand, records transactions as they happen, regardless of when payment occurs. As Chron says, this allows for a different analysis of activity and shows a more accurate perspective of how expenses are incurred and income is generated, and how income compares to expenses.
Of course, in the restaurant industry, along with the standard tax considerations for employees, there's also the need to factor in tips. Tips (not including automatic gratuities, which work differently) are considered employee income, not restaurant income, and are not subject to withholding. However, that doesn't mean you don't need to consider them in your accounting process. Employees at your restaurant are still required to report tips to you, and both they and you are required to pay taxes on them – you just don't need to report them as part of your restaurant revenue.
Since the day of the week tends to affect business (for example, a Friday night might be busier and bring in more customers, thus making you more money than a quiet Tuesday), it's useful for restaurants to use a four-week accounting period instead of a monthly accounting period, according to Orderly. A four-week accounting period would look at four weeks at a time, each starting on a Monday and ending on a Sunday. That way, you can combine time periods from year to year. July of last year and July of this year would have a different number of Fridays and Saturdays. In other industries, this wouldn't be a big deal, but it's essential to note in the restaurant business.
While other businesses, like retail stores, might not need to take stock of their inventory on such a frequent basis (many businesses can get away with doing so monthly, quarterly or even once a year), it's important for restaurants to monitor their inventory on a weekly basis. Why? Because restaurant inventory is food, much of which is perishable and will spoil before a month is over.
Cash flow and P&L statements
Like with inventory, some businesses might do profit and loss statements on a monthly or quarterly basis (though you can really do them as often as feels necessary). Chron notes that weekly P&L statements are smart for restaurants, because it can help with managing inventory. Cash flow reports should also be more frequent for the same reason.
You're a tech entrepreneur who has developed an awesome new product that can disrupt the way an old-school industry operates by making it easier to get the work done. The only catch? More often than not, leaders and professionals in industries like these go long periods experiencing little change in how their businesses run, so they typically subscribe to the old-school mentality of "If it ain't broke, don' fix it."
How do you persuade an entire industry that doesn't typically buy into new technology to trust you and your creation? To get those industry members on board, you need to show them exactly what kind of value they would derive from investing in your product.
Successfully pitching a new-school gadget to an old-school audience can be as difficult as taking a cellphone from a millennial. I've discovered a crucial element of overcoming skepticism and objections: It's not necessarily the technology that turns off these prospective buyers – it's the way it is pitched.
Tailoring the message to convince the skeptics
It's all too easy to get pulled into the weeds talking about the details of how your technology works. You're excited about your product, and you want to share all the amazing details and features, which is totally understandable. However, you first need to make sure that potential customers understand not only what they would be getting but also why they should care about what you're offering.
When pitching to executives and owners – especially those in industries such as mining, oil and gas, civil engineering, and their adjacent spaces of construction and manufacturing – you must be able to address these questions:
If what I'm doing now is working, why do I need your product?
What are the risks of changing the way my employees and I work?
What is your product actually saving me?
I had to learn how to answer these questions when I launched Strayos, a product that combines drone technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to empower professionals in the mining and blasting industries. Needless to say, it was challenging at first to help those in charge see how we could help them harness better data, increase agility and improve decision-making. I've found that it's a much smoother process if I can assuage their concerns upfront.
Here are three steps you should take each time you pitch your high-tech product to an old-school audience.
1. Tie your product to individual goals.
Once you know how to answer "What’s in it for me?" in a way that satisfies your customers, you can tailor your message to speak to those pain points.
In the beginning, we focused on how great the software is, how it works, and what the computer and machine learning components are. What we needed to do was focus on the things our customers truly cared about, like how the decision-making process and their day-to-day operations will improve.
We weren't speaking to our customers in a language they understood. As we grew, we learned to speak directly about the value each stakeholder would find in our product: For example, whereas a blasting engineer's motivation is to create a more streamlined process, a quarry manager would use our technology to gather more accurate data.
All stakeholders have different skill sets and work on different action items each day, so they'll each view the product differently. Therefore, highlight how your product can solve the specific problems each stakeholder is facing.
2. Get your hands dirty.
You have to work hard to maintain open and transparent relationships with old-school audiences. The only way to know what value your product actually brings to your customers is to ask them.
To that end, we visit our clients' sites and physically work side by side with them to see how they're using our technology and to show them how they can utilize other features to get the most out of it. This reassures them that we understand who they are and what they do.
Demonstrating that you understand customers' businesses and will continually try to help improve them not only strengthens your customer relationships, but it also helps you land new business. The knowledge you've gained will help convince potential customers that they can trust you.
3. Make it personal.
Meeting new customers is not all about business. We spend most of our time in our office or boardroom, but I also try get to know customers and prospects in more casual environments where we can just talk. Informal conversations help me get better ideas of why the customers started their businesses, how they got into the industry, why they're successful, what makes them tick, and who they are as a company and as leaders.
This piece of the relationship is key because it shows that, unlike the stereotypical salesperson, I truly care about their business. When 65 percent of B2B customers head into such discussions expecting someone in my position to be a poor to average salesperson, I can mitigate their inherent skepticism and gain their trust simply by actively listening to their pain points.
Look at every interaction, every conversation and every moment you spend with a current or prospective customer from their point of view: Would you want to work with people who can't clearly explain how their technology fits your actual needs or who ignore the very real risks you might be taking by investing in their product?
Of course, you wouldn't. To avoid putting your own customers and prospects in that position, always put them and their concerns front and center. What goes around comes around. Make sure your message is positive, helpful and personalized according to prospects' specific goals and pain points.
If you want to remain competitive in the future, you have no choice but to succumb to the rise of the internet of things (IoT). However, even with all of the benefits, it's becoming increasingly difficult to deny the security risks IoT presents.
IoT security risks: alarming and pervasive
If you spend any time studying cybersecurity and recent attacks on businesses – small and large – you'll come away from the experience fearful. The landscape is brutal right now, and the intensity and frequency of attacks are expected to pick up in the coming months.
According to the 451 Global Digital Infrastructure Alliance Report published at the end of 2016, endpoint security is the number one IoT security concern for businesses. Roughly 63 percent of respondents reported physical unsecured endpoints as their chief concern while poor authentication of these endpoints followed closely at 55 percent.
When you look at the IoT from a broader perspective, 50 percent of respondents said security was their biggest inhibitor to adopting formal IoT policies. This makes sense, as each additional device a business connects to its network ultimately establishes a new entry point to the network.
According to a study conducted by Fortify, 70 percent of popular consumer IoT devices can easily be compromised by professional hackers. In other words, more devices equal more problems.
Then there’s the dilemma of the astronomical proliferation of data. With more devices collecting and storing data, there's more for hackers to steal. There's also more at risk for businesses and individual consumers. As a result, there's a greater need for sophisticated security measures to keep confidential data out of the hands of malicious hackers.
5 tips for making your IoT policy more secure
From a business perspective, you need to come up with a sophisticated IoT security policy that eliminates points of vulnerability, secures data and keeps your organization out of harm's way. Below are a handful of suggestions.
1. Only connect devices when necessary
Just because you can connect devices, doesn't mean you should. Each device you add to your network adds functionality to your business, but it also increases risk. If you don't have a functional need for connecting a particular device, there's no sense in adding the risk.
In fact, you should probably think long and hard about how many devices you allow employees to connect to your network. It might sound like a good idea to let each employee use a smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computer, but slow down and consider the situation. There's already a bunch of inherent risks involved – don't push yourself even further behind the eight ball.
2. Create separate networks
One practical way to protect your business is to create separate networks for different purposes. The classic example of this involves guests in your office. While you might need to offer internet connectivity to visitors and/or customers, do you really want them on the same network that you store confidential files and important data? Creating a secondary network removes some of the risk you face in these situations.
3. Use cloud-based SD-WAN
If you want to secure your mobile users, one of the best things you can do is invest in a cloud-based SD-WAN solution. Some options include built-in next-generation firewall (NGFW) and firewall as a service (FWaaS). Both of these features work together to protect mobile users and locations from external threats – something the IoT makes individual users extra vulnerable to.
Even if IoT devices are unable to be patched, the advanced threat protection features found in a cloud-based SD-WAN solution give your IT professionals the ability to implement virtual patching. This added layer of security can prove to be quite helpful in situations where individual devices are targeted.
4. Practice good password hygiene
Many IoT attacks actually start with a single compromised password that gives a hacker access to other information that can be used to cause further damage. To protect your business from these attacks, better password hygiene is a must.
In addition to creating stronger, more sophisticated passwords, encourage your employees and users to implement unique passwords for each account.
5. Provide proper training for employees
While you might understand what it takes to protect your business from IoT-related threats, it's entirely possible that your employees are unaware of the external risks facing the company. Training employees on proper BYOD and IoT security will help them understand their role and what can/should be done in certain scenarios.
In addition to conducting employee training, regularly check in and see how things are going. The guidelines will probably need to be updated as factors change, so don't be afraid of refreshing your network's users on proper protocol.
Be prepared to evolve over time
While we've been talking about it for years now, it's important to remember that we're only in the beginning stages of the IoT. When we look back in 10 or 12 years, 2018 will be considered IoT's infancy. Having said that, things are still developing at a rapid pace, and you must be prepared to evolve with the changes over time.
You can't set an IoT security policy and neglect it. If you're serious about protecting your business and keeping data safe, you have to regularly evaluate what's happening within your company, in your industry, and on the larger cybersecurity stage.
If you make a commitment to keeping your policy current, you'll do well. There's no guarantee you won't be attacked, but at least you'll have a proper strategy for handling whatever is thrown your way.
Frederick Taylor's scientific management theory, also called the classical management theory, emphasizes efficiency, much like Max Weber's. However, according to Taylor, rather than scolding employees for every minor mistake, employers should reward workers for increased productivity.
"The principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee," said Taylor. "The words 'maximum prosperity' are used, in their broad sense, to mean not only large dividends for the company or owner, but the development of every branch of the business to its highest state of excellence, so that the prosperity may be permanent."
While the theory makes for more efficient workers, it is not without flaws. Many of these subtasks are menial, causing workers to feel like part of an assembly line, rather than creative additions to their team.
However, productivity is still a valuable result of this practice; and depending on the industry, the theory could be a great addition to businesses today. Here are four principles of Frederick Taylor's management theory.
Editor's Note: Looking for performance management software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
Break down assignments into subtasks
Rather than assigning an entire project to one individual and allowing them the proper time to complete it, managers break down larger tasks into smaller parts. These subtasks are meant to make the process more organized and efficient, with multiple employees working on one assignment – each taking care of their own piece.
Delegate responsibilities and train workers
Executives measure the most efficient way to do a given task, then delegate the subtasks only to employees with the proper skills and abilities. Those workers are then trained by management.
Workers' roles tend to be specific and fixed, and their tasks basic and repetitive. Often, employees feel insignificant, completing the same chore hours on end. But to Taylor, each worker plays a crucial role in the company's success.
Supervisors ensure each worker below them is doing their job efficiently; and if a more productive practice is discovered, workers are re-trained to implement it in their work.
Because employees must repeat the same mundane tasks, incentives are high. Workers are motivated to deliver quality work because they are financially rewarded based on their performance. The more efficient the worker is, the higher their pay will be.
Allocate work between managers and employees
Most companies have various levels of workers, from supervisors to part-timers. Typically, the more experience and drive you have, the more likely you are to land an executive position. This is how much of the business world operates.
Taylor believed in a similar hierarchy of three levels, with the most powerful workers on top. Each level is given exact responsibilities and detailed instructions specific to their role. They respect and adhere to those above them and do only what is assigned to them.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.