The Importance of Compliance in Business

Compliance As you use your smartphone and connected devices more and more, a vast digital data-based footprint is created based on your behaviour. From a regulatory perspective, an important consideration is who owns all this data – the user or the service provider who stores it? If it’s the service provider, then what obligation does it have to store and protect your data? And to what extent can data be shared with third parties? As a result, compliance legislation is evolving to keep up and to protect individuals, consumers, and organisations.Compliance It’s vital for professionals today to understand the importance of compliance in business, as failure to comply with these laws could result in significant business risk. More than that, businesses and individuals who not only comply, but embrace these regulations can use it to their advantage – optimising customer experiences and building consumer trust.

GDPR in Europe

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented on 25 May 2018 and is intended to harmonise the data protection rules throughout Europe. It grants greater rights to individuals but also imposes significant new burdens on organisations with increased fines and penalties for breach of the rules.

Requiring data protection ‘by design and by default’, in addition to the right to access and the right to erasure amongst others, companies will need to validate their ability to comply with data security, to uphold the extended rights of individuals, to produce documentation and security audits, as well as data breach notifications.

Non-compliance can result in imprisonment of up to 10 years, and up to 4% of global revenue or €20 million, whichever is greater (GDPR) – as well as the accompanying brand reputation damage to those found short.

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GDPR in Hong Kong and Singapore

The GDPR primarily affects organisations operating within the EU. However, any company outside of the EU that offers goods or services to data subjects in the EU, or monitors the behaviour of data subjects in the EU will need to have GDPR compliance in business. The location of the organisation that collects the personal data is irrelevant; the rules apply when personal data is collected from an individual who is located in an EU country when the data is collected and processed, whether they are an EU citizen or not. Similarly, he GDPR does not apply to EU citizens when they are outside of the EU.

According to consultancy EY, nine out of 10 companies in Singapore do not have a plan to cope with GDPR.

Hong Kong businesses may be subject to greater data protection obligations under the GDPR than they currently experience under the Hong Kong Personal Data Privacy Ordinance. The key provisions are:

  • Consent – The GDPR requires organisations to obtain freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous consent before collecting personal data from a data subject, unlike in Hong Kong where businesses generally do not need consent when collecting data, unless for marketing purposes.
  • Data Protection Officers – The GDPR requires data controllers, or Data Protection Officers (DPO), to implement technical measures to build privacy by design and to conduct compulsory data-protection impact assessments, amongst other measures. There are no equivalent mandatory provisions in Hong Kong.
  • Mandatory breach notification – Under the GDPR, should a DPO experience a breach of security, they will need to notify the Data Protection Authority in the relevant Member State within 72 hours of discovering the breach, unless the breach is “unlikely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals”. In Hong Kong, there is no mandatory breach notification requirement.
  • New and enhanced rights for individuals – The GDPR gives data subjects certain enhanced rights that are lacking in Hong Kong’s policies:
    • The “right to be forgotten” – The right to request erasure of personal data that they have posted online.
    • The right to data portability – The right to switch personal data between service providers.
    • The right to object to processing (including profiling).
  • Data processors – The GDPR imposes statutory obligations directly on data processors – currently not the case in Hong Kong or Singapore _– including maintaining records of their processing activities. This means that data processors can face repercussions directly for data breaches.
  • Appointment of a designated representative – Non-EU business must appoint a representative to act as a point of contact for requests by the supervisory authorities or data subjects and represents the controller or processor.

How this has affected business

Email marketing

In section 66 of the POPI Bill, it states companies are not allowed to send any form of electronic marketing messages – such as emails and newsletters – without being granted permission by the recipients to do so.

POPI outlines the following about direct marketing and how companies should act in order to remain compliant in business:

  • Collect personal information directly from the data subject
  • Collect personal information for specific, explicit, and lawful purposes only
  • Only process personal information with the data subject’s consent
  • Don’t keep personal information for longer than necessary
  • Make it easy for personal information to stay accurate and updated
  • Notify the registrar and appoint an information officer
  • Protect the security and integrity of personal information
  • Any 3rd party/operator must contractually comply
  • You must be able to report on the data if asked to do so
  • You can only send direct marketing messages if you have the consent of the data subject to do so
  • You may request consent
  • The data subject must opt-in to every channel
  • Where the data subject has requested a change, or opts out of a particular channel, this request must be honoured immediately

Digital marketing

While marketing via email and text requires an opt-in consent, the digital marketing world falls somewhat in a grey area. To determine whether you need the consent of consumers to serve personalised advertising, or not will depend on what it is you want to do. When it comes to personalised advertising, consent is not the only way to justify it. In the EU, many digital marketers use the ‘legitimate interest’ argument where the impact on consumers’ privacy is measured by the interests of the business. However, efficient data management by recording when, why, and how the information was collected, and that it was only used for the original purpose, will ensure you can demonstrate that your use of data is, or was, compliant.

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Communicating with customers

In terms of section 11 of the POPI Act, a consumer may either refuse to accept, pre-emptively block, or require another person to discontinue any communication which may be seen as direct marketing. This includes telephone calls, e-mails, brochures or letters in the mail. Businesses will need infrastructure and systems in place to receive and record consumers’ specific preferences and abide by these expressed preferences.

The business risks

To ascertain your business’s compliance, in lieu of POPI or GDPR, an initial complete survey of the business’s current personal data processing activities should be carried out. This can include its data protection and privacy policies, notices, international data flows, agreements and templates, products and services using personal data, and advertising/marketing activities and operational protocols. Assess which of the existing procedures and policies are adequate, and which are lacking or absent.

Consider the following when reviewing these according to low, medium, and high-risk areas.

  • The risk of exposure – for example, is this a public-facing privacy notice?
  • What category of fines this non-compliance falls under
  • Whether there is a nonconformity that was already required under an earlier law
  • What reputational concerns are at risk
  • Whether something can be made compliant quickly
  • Whether agreements with third parties or business operations are at risk
  • Whether regulators have already signalled interest in particular areas or issues

The opportunities

When people think ‘big data’, they usually think of major online retailers or social media giants. However, organisations of all sizes and sectors are getting closer to their data to improve and personalise the customer experience. This often creates new opportunities, and can even transform entire industries. The UK’s NHS Business Services Authority utilised recent data that has helped improve patient care and save nearly £600 million.

Robotic Process Automation for Small Business

A Robotic may be defined as a computer that is created artificially and that can complete research and other tasks as typically performed by humans. A robot is designed to operate automatically, or by following remote control instructions. The analysis of how robots work or act is known as robotics.

RoboticRobotics development influences many facets of the job and the house. Robotics can constructively turn lives and work processes, improve productivity and protection standards and offer improved service rates. Across factories around the world, machines are used in assembly lines to make it far harder for humans to do the job. Robots are utilized in vehicle sequential construction systems and they have a reliable yield.

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Why Robots are chosen over Humans in Most Areas

Time and expense are critical considerations in the market. Robots are utilized in vehicle sequential construction systems and they have a reliable yield.

Repetition

Within a certain period of time people get sick of repetition. When time goes by, our performance and competitiveness is beginning to wane. Worse, fatigue in the long run can contribute to injuries such as carpal tunnels that may potentially force a person out of work. Robots aren’t suffering from these problems. They are able to execute activities regularly without reductions in efficiency.

Accuracy

By their own definition, robots are more accurate than humans. We can execute functions more effectively with a high degree of precision, without human error. Everything machines are now doing is sensitive things like filling medications or finding the correct dosages.

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What is Robotic Process Automation

Robotic Process Automation is the technology that helps us to program machine machines now, or a “robot” to simulate and implement the behavior of a person working inside automated networks to conduct a business procedure. RPA robots allow use of the user interface to collect data and control programs much as humans do. They translate, activate responses and interact with other devices to work on a wide variety of routine activities. Just significantly better: a computer with RPA tech rarely sleeps and commits zero errors.

Filling in as a virtual business right hand, bots complete dull undertakings, saving time for representatives to focus on all the more captivating, income producing errands. Some portion of the magnificence of mechanical procedure mechanization innovation is that it offers even non-specialized workers the instruments to arrange their product robots to settle computerization challenges. RPA robots can imitate several – if not all – behavior of human users. They can sign in to programs, transfer files and directories, copy and paste data, fill out reports, retrieve structured and semi-structured data from records, crawl apps, and more.

RPA’s fluid design separates it from historically proven automation approaches, making it a valuable platform for automation enabling digital innovation and the future of work. Bots just obey the directions to obey, which have an audit trail background for each move. Bots may often reflect on their previous acts if portions of a procedure need analysis. The regulated design of bots renders them acceptable only to the strictest levels of conformity.

Perfect Business Plans In 8 Simple Steps.

This article is to know why a company needs a business plan. So, what you think- why any company or organization need a plan? What is the purpose of these plans for the successful business? Is this important to plan before executing your business or to establish your business?

Plans

In this article, all the questions regarding business plans are clarified as you read it step by step. According to today’s era, planning and plotting are really important for any organization or company.

WHAT ARE BUSINESS PLANS?

A business plan is a strategic map. It lays out where you and your business currently stand today your resources, abilities, and goals and maps out where you will be in the future and how you’ll get there. It is just a plan that how your business working to work and how you’re going to make it succeed.

A business plan is a written description or we can say a blueprint of your business’s future. Even, that’s all there is to it a document that describes what you plan to do as well as how you plan to do it.

Business plans can help achieve a number of tasks for those who write and read them. They’re used by investment-seeking entrepreneurs to conduct their vision to potential investors. Secondly, they may also be used by firms that are trying to interest key employees, the prospect for new business, deal with suppliers or simply to understand how to succeed their companies better.

According to your business strategies, there are a few some major points that should the organizer take care of.

How long should your plan be?

  • To establish any business it takes time to settle and perform things. It’ s all depending on what you’re using it for, a useful business plan can be any length, from a mark on the back of an enclosure to, in the case of an especially detailed plan describing a complex enterprise, more than 100 pages.
  • Secondly, a standard business plan runs 15 to 20 pages, but there’s room for wide variation from that norm. Much will depend on the nature of your business that what kind of business you are doing. It may be like launching any website or launching any product according to the audience interest.
  • If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. On the other hand, if you’re introducing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a bit of explanation to get the message across.

How should you present your business plan?

  • It is really important to present your business plan in the right manner. According to the demand and the audience interest.
  • Business plans should only become printed documents on select occasions, like when you need to share information with outsiders (cl or team members. Otherwise, they should be dynamic documents that you maintain on your computer.
  • The plan goes on forever, meaning that you’re constantly squeezing it because you’re regularly evaluating your business health, so the printed version is like a snapshot of what the plan was on the day that it was printed.

Who needs business plans?

All companies even it is well established or start-up companies, all need a business plan. As above mentioned that business plan is a blueprint of your business strategies. It is pretty sure that there are two types of companies who need a business plan:

1- Start-up companies,
2- Established and existing companies.

Startups.

  1. The classic business plan writer is an entrepreneur supplies funds to help start a new venture. Many, many great companies had their starts on paper, in the form of a plan that was used to convince investors to put up the capital necessary to get them underway.
  2. Most books on business planning seem to be aimed at these startup business owners. There’s one good reason for that: As the least experienced the potential plan writers, they’re probably most appreciative of the guidance.
  3. However, it’s a mistake to think that only cash-starved startups need business plans. Business owners find plans useful at all stages of their companies’ existence, whether they’re seeking financing or trying to figure out how to invest a surplus.

Established companies.

  1. Not all business plans are written by master-minded entrepreneurs. Many are written by and for companies that are long past the startup stage. Existing businesses use business plans to strategically manage and steer the business, not just to address changes in their markets and to take advantage of new opportunities.
  2. They use a plan to reinforce strategy, establish metrics, manage responsibilities and goals, track results, and manage and plan resources including critical cash flow. And of course, they use a plan to set the schedule for regular review and revision.
  3. These middle-stage enterprises may draft plans to help them find funding for growth just as the startups do, although the amounts they seek may be larger and the investors more willing. They may feel the need for a written plan to help manage an already rapidly growing business. Or a plan may be seen as a valuable tool to be used to convey the mission and prospects of the business to customers, suppliers or others.

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WHY BUSINESS PLANS ARE IMPORTANT?

  • If you’re serious about business, taking planning seriously is critical to your success.
    Unfortunately, many people think of business plans only for starting a new business or applying for business loans. But business plans are also vital for running a business strategic planning whether or not it needs new loans or new investments.
  • Current or Existing businesses should have business plans that they maintain and update as market conditions change and as new opportunities as well as possibilities arise. Every business has long-term and short-term goals, sales targets, and expense budgets—a business plan encompasses all of those things and is as useful to a startup trying to raise funds as it is to a 10-year-old business that’s looking to grow.
  • About the only person who doesn’t need a business plan is one who’s not going into business. You don’t need a plan to start a hobby or to moonlight from your regular job. But anybody beginning or extending a venture that will consume significant resources of money, energy or time, and that is expected to return a profit, should take the time to draft some kind of plan.

8 SIMPLE STEPS OF BUSINESS PLANS

The Market Research:

Market research is further split into two varieties: primary and secondary. Primary research studies clients directly, whereas secondary research studies information that others have gathered about customers.

  • Primary research might be telephonic interviews or online polls or surveys with randomly selected members of the target group. You can also study your own sales records to gather primary research.
  • Secondary research might come from reports found on the websites of various other organizations or blogs written about the industry. For your plan, you can use either type of research or a combination of both.

The basic questions that trigger your mind in market research include:

Who are your customers?
What do they buy now?
Why do they buy?
What will make them buy from you?

The Business model:

A business model is a company’s plan for making a profit. It classifies the products or services the business will sell, the target market it has identified, and the costs it anticipates.

  • A new business in development has to have a business model, if only in order to attract investment, help it recruit talent, as well as motivate management and staff. Traditional/established businesses have to revisit and update their business plans that they often or they’ll fail to anticipate trends and challenges ahead. Investors need to review and evaluate the business plans of companies that interest them which is useful to both of them.
  • This is a description of the goods or services that a company offers and why they are desirable to customers or clients, ideally stated in a way that differentiates the product or service from its competitors.
  • A business model for a new enterprise should also cover extended the startup costs and sources of financing, the target customer base for the business, marketing strategy, a review of the competition, and projections of revenues and expenses.

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Marketing Planning:

Market planning is the process of organizing and defining the marketing aim of a company and gathering strategies and tactics to achieve them.

  • A solid marketing plan should consist of the company’s value statement, info regarding its target market or customers, a comparative positioning of its competitors in the market, advertising strategies, circulation channels, and budget allocated for the plan.
  • All relevant teams in the organization should refer to its marketing plan.  The marketing plan drafts the specific actions that carry out the interest of customers and the clients of your product or services.
  • As well as the marketing plan implements the market strategy which is like a goal of your market planning. It covers customers or client interests as well as hold the company’s brand name in the market.

Long Term Goals:

Always plan for the long term, even in the low budget set your goals for the long term with backups to solve the crisis.

  • Long term goal is considered as three or five years plans or more. Long term goals are generally a time frame that invests the assets in your business, whether it is any product or and website.
  • Always think about the long term and according to the audience. and the trends and need of the product and making the duration of the project set your goals in the business.

How to plan long term goals:
1. Increases sales,
2. Brand recognition,
3. Create some reputation in the market by advertising, and
4. Use social media platforms.

Team Building:

The best team always win the race. One organization has some many hands which named as team building.

  • The main aim of team building is to improve productivity and handle the whole organization together. With team-work, it is possible to complete the task or project on-time which is count as a plus point in the company. In an organization, everyone works as a family.
  • Team-building programs provide realistic experiences that allow individuals to contribute to common goals. The success of most organizations depends on the ability of individuals to build productive teams.

The benefits of team building:
1. Improves the qualities of the task/ product.
2. Finds the barriers that stop creativity
3. Improves the ability to problem-solve.
4. Clearly defines objectives and goals
5. Improves processes and procedures.
6. Improves organizational productivity.
7. Identifies a team’s strengths and weaknesses

Development Strategies:

The development strategies are for to develop your company it is the goal to increase the profit rate of your company as well as establish your brand name in the market.

  • Development Strategies is a combination of numerous individual tasks which has a goal of achieving and developing growth opportunities either within the organization or between two or more organizations. It is related to the all-round development of a particular business which makes it enriching and fruitful.
  • It is a mixture of commerce, business, and organizational behavior theories. Business development deals with the establishment of long term value factor for an organization from the point of view of markets, customers and their inter-relationships.

Benefits of development strategies:
1. Focus on your targeted audiences.
2. Socially active
3. Follow the trends
4. provide excellent services
5. Provide the qualitative product to your clients
6. Upgrade or improve your marketing according to the audiences.
7. Full the needs of the clients and consumers.

Trend Analysis:

Look after on the surrounding that what is going on in the market and what kinds of stuff people love to use or consider. Trend analysis is done accordingly, even nowadays, trends are changing day by day with new technology or fashion or any product.

  • Trend analysis is the process of comparing business data over time to identify any consistent results or trends. You can then develop a strategy to respond to these trends in line with your business goals.
  • Trend analysis helps you know how your business has performed and predict where current business operations and practices will take you. Done well, it will give you an idea about how you might change things to move your business in the right direction.

The benefits of the trend analysis:
1. Helpful for your company performance.
2. Identify the area of success.
3. Help to target the audience.
4. Comparison between the companies.

Personal Resources Of The Organization:

Personal resources are the resources that carry with the company itself like their website as well as social media account where the easy post and publish their brand name and other stuff. As well as which also help the company to increase its clients and popularity ratio in the market.

  • There are two main resources of the organization:

1. Financial Resources: Funding

The most important part of a business is funding. Even the most basic home business acquires a number of startup costs, including registering a business name, obtaining a business telephone line and printing business cards. As well as important for an established business.

2. Human Resources: Employees/Workers.

This resource is really important for every company, without employees and workers an organization doesn’t work. Secondly, the company’s success is denoted to the company employees who day and night work for them. According to team-building policy in the business, it is really important to have a team of excellent and hard-working as well as talented employees in your organization. Employees like managers and public relations as well as the project team and etc.

New Year Resolutions For Business In 2020

New The beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on your future business plans and how you want it to expand in the coming year. If you’re a business owner, it’s a great idea to make resolutions that will help simplify your life and grow your business.

New

Let’s focus on some high-power, super-efficient business goals for small as well as big businesses and look forward to building a rewarding and more prosperous business establishment.

Review your Business Plans Consistently

Whether you have a big successful established business or a small, medium-sized enterprise, you should have a business plan – a vision for how you are going to achieve these goals and ambitions for the future.

Plan carefully and specifically about what you expect from your business over a certain period of time in short, medium and long-term timescales and set out to achieve it.

Make sure you have clear and measurable targets to measure progress. Some businesses fall into the pattern of operating on a day to day basis instead of having a vision, this sometimes leads to many businesses failing out.

Regular Supervision of Social Media Strategy

No denying the fact that social media is invaluable to any business. As we enter this new year in 2020, make a resolution to use social media daily by doing these simple steps:

  • Interact with customers and other users
  • Answer questions
  • Post engaging content
  • Prioritize the network your customers are already using

For most businesses, this is Facebook and/or Instagram. Build your following on one of these platforms and then as per the response to the business, you can branch out to Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc.

Today we have several free social media scheduling tools that can be easily used to schedule a week’s worth posts all at once. Make full advantage of these great tools and sail through your business journey with greater ease and facility.

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Speed Up on Marketing Effort

Marketing is the process of telling consumers why they should choose your product or service over those of your competitors, and is a form of persuasive communication.

It is made up of every process involved in moving a product or service from your business to the consumer. Marketing includes creating the product or service concept, identifying who is likely to purchase it, promoting it, and moving it through the appropriate selling channels.

If the objective of your business is to sell more products or services this 2020, then marketing is what helps you achieve that goal. Anything that you use to communicate with your customers in a way that persuades them to buy your products or services is marketing, including advertising, social media, coupons, sales, and even how you display them.

Write a Blog

A blog is one of the easiest, cost-effective ways to add new content to your site. This is the most essential for SEO and as we all know that if one wants to grow in this digital marketing age content marketing needs to be followed diligently.

It allows you to share valuable information with your audience, gives you trending material for social media, and positions you as a leader in your niche.

Blogging doesn’t have to be a chore and you don’t have to post every day. In fact, one high-quality post per week is better than one poor-quality post every day.

And when it comes to what to write, get creative!! Even if you are writing for technology use creative, better ways to present your blogs. Place yourself in the reader’s position and then decide what to write and what to post.

Customer is the King

Your best clients are someone else’s best prospects. According to Outboundengine.com, getting a new customer can cost five times as much as keeping a current one. There are varying degrees of loyalty as well as reasons.

Always put your customer’s needs on top of your own, if you are looking to expand this 2020 and try finding answers to these questions:

  • Do your clients know you are growing your practice or business?
  • Do they know the type of prospect you want?
  • Do they know how you help other people?
  • Do you have a process that makes it easy for them?

It starts by letting them know you want to help people with needs or issues similar to theirs. Start communicating more with them.

Invest in Cyber Security Measures

Big institutions and technology firms aren’t the only ones that need to be concerned with online security. Every company should be taking proper measures to guard against cybercrime and implement the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other such online threats.

  • Regularly back up your company’s data.
  • Create a firewall that prevents outsiders from accessing your private network.
  • Invest in the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems on your company’s computers.

Keep a Close Eye on your Competitors

This one is very crucial for growing as well as for learning and creating something great. Never underestimate any of your competition and keep track of their achievements and mistakes as well.

Plan for 5 Years Ahead

The key difference between a business owner and a Leader is the difference of vision. How you plan for the coming years is that set the ball rolling for you. Always think ahead and have concrete strategies in place this 2020 if you are eyeing the top slot.

Build a Communication Plan

Agree, as a group, what needs to be communicated to the broader organization, who will deliver it, and when that is to happen. A town hall-type meeting with all employees is a great way to kick off a new strategic plan.

It should be followed up, however, with individual leaders sharing the plan in a smaller setting with just their team. The key to a successful communication plan is consistency and repeatability.

Fine Tune your Customer Service

Often businesses concentrate their resources on increasing the size of their customer base rather than on client retention. Many pieces of research suggest that it is up to 25 times more expensive to win a new customer than it is to persuade existing customers to make new purchases.

This 2020, aim to put that right – talk to your customers about how you can serve them better and what else they might want from you. That doesn’t mean giving up on new customers altogether – but put your current customers first.

  • The old saying, “the customer is always right,” means that if your customers ask for something you don’t carry, it’s time to fix that.
  • Is there something your customers have been asking about or even demanding? Look into how you can bring that good or service to them. They’ll thank you with dollar bills.

Network amongst Business Groups

Whether it’s a group specifically designed for networking or an organization dedicated to a particular type of business, in person or over the internet, making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business.

  • There’s nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas, refining old ones, and making contacts.
  • Approaching networking events with a strategy will make your next time out a more successful experience.
  • In 2020, make a resolution to attend a few networking events to meet fellow small business owners in your area.
  • Networking can help you find new opportunities, clients, collaborators, vendors, service providers, and even friends.

This is often ignored by many small business owners, but it’s so important. Use a service like Event brite to find events in your area. Chances are there are plenty of free networking opportunities already scheduled for the new year!

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Invest in Learning a New Skill

Most important of all-do not sit back on past laurels and achievement, Life is all about recreating, reanalyzing and renewing yourself each day.

Build your Brand

In business, planning for the future is as difficult as it is necessary. Branding your business, just like building your personal brand, means you have to think about the long term. What works in establishing your brand today. It’s impossible to know what the coming year might hold for your company — or others — but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing.

Future-prepping means trying to assess what your company is going to need, both in the short and long term.

Immediate planning means balancing budgets, identifying target markets, and anticipating industry changes. For longer-term planning, however, you have to think bigger.

Document Your Processes

With all the positive changes you’ll be making in 2020, it’s important to document your processes, especially if you haven’t done so in the past. Documenting your day-to-day operations, onboarding, business plan, company goals, etc will make things easier on yourself and your employees throughout the year.

Work Hard

This one is the key to achieving anything in life and it should be practiced with more focus this new year 2020 if you are planning to restructure, modify or boost up your business plans.

Follow Your Goals Diligently

Many times people make up big plans for every new year and don’t follow up on these goals with passion and focus, resulting in underachievement. This should be completely avoided this 2020 and followup on your plans with complete dedication and focus.

Set Realistic Goals

Goal setting is a valuable habit—if the goals lead to success rather than distress.

The next step in creating a strategic business plan is to identify and clarify your goals. Where are you, and where do you want to be by the end of 2020 (and beyond)?

Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals based on your analysis of current business trends and market opportunities.
Resolve that the goals you set will be achievable. If you have trouble setting realistic goals, there are ways to map out a formula that makes sense for you.

Put Your Strategy Into Action

Building a good, strategic plan for the next few years takes a lot of work upfront. Split the team up into groups of 3-5 and give them each a goal for the year. Have them brainstorm 3-5 strategic initiatives that would help bring you closer to achieving that goal.

A strategic initiative is a focused project for that year that will add up to realizing that annual goal. If you successfully execute your strategic initiatives, you should be fairly certain you’ll achieve your annual goals this 2020.

Learn from the Past Mistakes

Begin by asking everyone on your team for the top 2 or 3 things that went well in their department this year and what 2 to 3 aspects they would do differently. Trap their ideas on flipcharts and then transfer them over into a shared document to have them in one central place. Take a moment to review the successes of your team across the whole year. This gives you the momentum to take into your discussion for next year.

It’s essential to set your planning for next year in the context of your overall vision. Any goals or strategies you set for 2020 should actively contribute to you achieving your vision in the long run.

Give back to the community

Whether you are serving somewhere or you own a business, it is of prime importance to give back to the society we are living in and contribute to the upliftment of the underprivileged community. Many people place a high value on social responsibility. If you are not focusing on this area up till now, start this 2020 and contribute and feel the joy of sharing!!

People and other businesses in your community support your business. What do you do in return? You might contribute to charities, but do your clients and the general public know that? Start finding answers to these burning questions this 2020.

Tips for Starting a Virtual Assistant Business

Virtual Businesses of all sizes need administrative help, but having a full-time employee onsite can be cost-prohibitive. Enter virtual assistants (VAs), administrative professionals who offer a wide variety of services remotely, operating as their own small businesses.

Virtual

Through technology like cloud collaboration software, video conferences, project management apps and instant messaging, entrepreneurs who want to start a virtual assistant firm have all the tools they need to successfully work with business clients.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of this lucrative business opportunity and becoming a VA, here’s some expert advice on how to make it work.

Operating as a VA on your own can feel like you are all by yourself, but in fact, there are professional groups, online forums and books to support you in your business dream. By reading and researching what services a VA can perform, you can narrow down your own offerings. And by networking with other VAs, you can benefit from subcontracting work or advice from more established VAs.

“Most VAs are more than happy to help out someone who is new to the field. And even if they don’t have any subcontracting work, they may be able to refer you to someone who does,” said Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, MBTI Certified, with All Things Admin.

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As with any business, you need to develop a business plan before launching a VA company. A business plan is an outline of your company and how you plan to operate. The business plan acts as a timeline for your company. Also, if you plan to seek out loans or investors for the VA business, lenders will request a copy of your business plan.

Structuring your business is a requirement before making your services public. There are multiple business structures available. According to the Small Business Administration, a sole proprietorship is ideal for low-risk business ventures or individuals who want to test the waters with their new company before formalizing plans. Additional structure options include corporations, LLC, and partnerships. All structures have tax advantages and disadvantages.

Before launch, check with your municipality about any licensing requirements you may need for your new business.

There’s a lot more to being a VA than helping with the tasks your client needs you to do. Having office experience will help you in your day-to-day duties, but as an independent business, you need to learn the ropes of how to run it.

“Working virtually means you must exercise great discipline,” said Tim Petree, senior vice president of BST Concierge. “You’re your own boss, (but) those corporate rules that once seemed to be a drag can save you from financial ruin when you’re the CEO or sole proprietor. If anything, you must now be conversant in all areas of business administration – sales, marketing, IT, customer service, project management, receivables, payables and compliance.”

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As with any type of virtual work, not being in the office for face-to-face interactions with your clients can present some difficulties if your or their communications are unclear. VAs perform many of the important day-to-day tasks that keep a business running, so knowing what’s required of you as a service provider is key to customer satisfaction.

Marketing is essential when developing a successful VA business. Keyword research will help you get started on a marketing plan for your company. Find out what keywords clients are using to find VA services. Tools like Moz are useful in researching keyword terms. Once you select your keywords, integrate them in all marketing materials for the VA business. Your marketing efforts should include a professional and user-friendly website. An optimized and well-designed website will attract new clients. Social media marketing should also be a part of your strategy for your VA venture.

As a VA and as a business owner, you’ll need to be able to deliver exactly what each client needs. It’s a good idea to determine the best structure for your service packages and pricing based on what your clients are looking for.

“A VA provides business owners with the opportunity to get exactly what they need, when they need it, like ordering from a menu,” Anastasio-Festi said. “Because most VAs offer a wide range of services to various industries, it becomes confusing as to who needs what most. [Our firm] is moving away from hourly retainers and more towards customizing individual monthly packages that are tailored to each client’s needs.”

7 Traits Every Successful Business Leader Needs

There is no perfect skill set for a successful business owner, and the ‘cookie cutter’ approach some people take is wrong. Businesses vary, and as a result, the skills needed to own and run them vary also.

Successful

That being said, the following are 7 traits every successful business leader needs:

1. Optimism

You must be an optimist because at some point, you have to see beyond the hard times to see the better times. Optimism and confidence tend to go together. You, as the business owner, must be able to make it through the tough times because you know in your heart that it will get better.

2. Ability to Sacrifice

Being in the bottom spot on the totem pole is something that you are going to encounter as an owner. Your business takes precedence over just about everything else. You most likely will not be taking any vacations in the beginning. Your financial needs are the last ones to be met. You only get paid after you have paid your employees, your expenses and your vendors.

If there is any profit at that point, you can take some salary. But if you want to continue to grow, you will probably have to reinvest the profits and take little or no money. At least that will be the case in the beginning. Driving an older car, living in an older house and postponing vacations are just a few of the sacrifices you must be willing to make.

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3. Ability to Manage

I did not say management experience because people tend to think that means the ability to manage people. What I’m talking about here is the ability to manage everything.

Things like accounts receivable, accounts payable, vendor problems, advertising, customers, the banker and your lawyer all have to be managed. And the most important thing you have to manage in the beginning is your family. They have to understand what you are doing and know that it’s going to be tough in the beginning.

4. Interpersonal Skills

Running any business, even an Internet business, requires interpersonal skills. If you run any business, then you have to be able to get along with more people than you realize. Some people go into business for themselves because they can’t get along with their bosses.

These same people are surprised when they find out that getting along with their previous boss was a piece of cake compared to getting along with irate customers (even if they are wrong, they will think they are right), demanding employees and quirky vendors. You will be a referee, a judge, a boss, a cohort and a friend.

5. Common Sense

You don’t need a Harvard education to run a successful business, and you don’t need a college education to come up with a good business idea. What a business owner must have is the ability to anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them. Successful businesses look to outsiders as though they rarely have any problems. What they don’t see is a business owner who is keeping his/her finger on the pulse of the business and the industry.

When successful leaders anticipate change, they take steps to prepare their businesses in case it comes about. That preparation and willingness to change can make the difference between success and failure. Done well, it’s just about invisible to anyone except the business owner.

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6. Organization

People, especially your employees, will always be looking to you for answers. Answers about your products, your market, your competition and just about everything else. As the owner, you are expected to be able to answer any question relating to the business or the industry. It’s human nature to want to be led and to want someone to explain why something happened or didn’t happen. If you can’t handle being pulled in a lot of different directions all at the same time, then you should rethink your desire to go into business for yourself.

This is a real problem for some people. If you can’t juggle lots of things at the same time, then you shouldn’t go into business for yourself. There is never just one thing going on when you own a business. There are customer problems, there are vendor/supplier problems and there are competition problems.

7. Business Experience

This is one of the biggest reasons for failure, in my opinion. There are lots of people who are great at their jobs. Maybe they are the best carpenter, or the best painter, or the best salesperson or the best cook. There is a tendency for people to believe that just because they can do their current job well (maybe better than anyone else they know), that means they would be a great business owner.

The best mechanic I ever knew decided that he should open his shop. To my knowledge, there was no one smarter than him when it came to troubleshooting a problem with a vehicle. He was brilliant. So, he saved his money and opened his shop.

How to Write a One-Page Business Plan

Business plans can be long and complex, but they don’t have to be. In fact, a one-page business plan can often be better and more powerful than a traditional plan. Writing a one-page plan is also a useful exercise because it forces you to think critically about your business and get right to the point of what you’re doing.

Plan

Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t create a standard business plan. You should. But a one-page plan does have some advantages a standard plan doesn’t have.

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The one-page business plan:

– Enables prospective investors and partners to quickly understand your business idea. Serves as a type of pitch document for your business, much like a beefed-up elevator pitch.

– Serves as a type of pitch document for your business, much like a beefed-up elevator pitch.

– Offers an approachable way to get your business plan in front of the right people in the form of a single sheet of paper, a single PowerPoint slide or a simple copy-and-paste email.

– Delivers a powerfully succinct message, enabling you to grab your audience’s attention and spur them to action.

– Forces you to condense your thoughts and explain yourself clearly. There’s no room to fudge or hide behind a torrent of words and numbers.

So, what do you need in your one-page plan? It’ll follow the same basic structure as a standard business plan but with certain aspects highlighted and others either shortened or omitted. We’ll take this piece by piece, focusing on the elements of a traditional business plan that you should also include in a one-page plan.

Market Analysis

Include a couple of sentences about:

• Primary target market segment
• Customers in target market
• Customer needs in target market

In your one-page plan, you need to focus almost exclusively on the segment of the market you plan to target. Leave the macro market information for a standard plan. Describe your market niche, keeping in mind that the more specific the target market, the better.

Also, save a few words for how you plan to differentiate your product when going after your target customer base (and note for the record that price is rarely an effective differentiator on its own).

Competitive Analysis

Write no more than two or three sentences about:

• Competitive products/services
• Opportunities
• Threats and risks

In your shorter plan, zero in on answering a few questions: Which products and services are most competitive to yours? Where will your product or service have the greatest opportunities? Where will you face the most serious threat? Remember to keep your answers short and to the point.

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Strategy

Focus a couple of sentences on:

• Key competitive capabilities
• Key competitive weaknesses

This where the brevity of a one-page plan becomes both difficult and useful. What you need to do here is crystalize why your business is going to be different from that of your competitors. It will be difficult to shave this section down into just a few sentences, but by doing so you’ll not only have a clearer idea of what you’re doing (and whether or not it makes sense), you’ll also potentially have a great elevator pitch.

Remember to focus on why your differentiation will matter to customers and to your audience. This has to be painfully clear and succinct. If it isn’t, rethink and do it again—or rethink your whole business model.

Products and Services

Write a sentence or two on:

• Positioning of products/services
• Competitive evaluation of products/services

Here again, you’ll want to lay off detailed descriptions and focus on differentiation. (That’s really a combination of “positioning” and “competitive evaluation.”) The point here is not get into deep technical detail—there’s no room for that—but to talk about what you’re bringing to market that nobody else is.

Marketing and Sales

Write a sentence or two on ONE of these, whichever is stronger:

• Marketing strategy
• Sales tactics

In your shorter plan, you’ll need to practice some discipline and focus on the one marketing or sales method that’ll be your calling card. Don’t scatter-shoot too much, even if you’re planning a multi-pronged approach; focus the bread-and-butter effort that’s going to drive the most results. Is it publicity? A top-notch sales force? Inbound marketing via the Internet? Describe what you’re going to do and—more importantly—how it’s going to generate revenue.

Operations

Write one or two sentences about ONE or TWO of the following, whichever is strongest or most relevant:

• Key personnel
• Organizational structure
• Human resources plan
• Product/service delivery
• Customer service/support
• Facilities

Take a look here at what might not necessarily be obvious. What are one or two things about your operations that will give you a competitive advantage? Great employees? Truly exceptional customer service? A state-of-the-art facility? Talk about those things. Again, play to your strengths, and stay focused. Just make sure that whatever it is will be a genuine differentiator for your business.

4 Lessons Businesses Can Learn From COVID-19

Lessons With unprecedented changes sweeping nearly every institution across the globe, COVID-19 has taken mere weeks to single-handedly redefine life as we know it. Inexorably transformed is the workforce as it shifts to accommodate the new normal – new modes of communication, new work patterns, and new team dynamics.

Lessons

But amidst all the change, there is a silver lining – the invaluable lessons we’ve learned on supporting our business operations even in the strangest of circumstances:

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1. The cloud is an essential piece of business infrastructure.  It should come as a surprise to no one that cloud computing is here to stay – and in light of recent developments, in fact among the most valuable technology a business can offer. As on-demand needs skyrocket, the cloud responds in turn; providing anyone with an internet connection unlimited access to a vast collection of applications and tools. Organizations offering SaaS are already intimately aware of the advantages a cloud delivery model can enable, including the ability to share one infrastructure among multiple customers. But it’s not just customers driving the cloud’s success.

2. Organic mobile processes enable workers. A cloud-based solution is an important first step, but not a catch-all for success. Supporting every worker requires implementing modern, mobile-first solutions – especially for those working remotely or out in the field. Visibility into every minute of employee time in detail is necessary to see emerging patterns hidden within complete data sets. Only then can meaningful adjustments be made that positively affect company and employee productivity. Allowing for employees to capture real-time information makes all the difference – rather than waiting for data to come in, managers can use the information they receive as it happens and use it to create the biggest impact on productivity.

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3. Social is key. Using social is the best way to connect with workers, remote or otherwise – but this isn’t the social most would imagine. While social media does play a powerful role in connecting workers, customers, and organizations, the “social” referred to here is a bit more nuanced. It refers to an organization enabling employees to work together, with a solution built to support collaboration and communication using workflows across teams, departments, regions, and countries. The goal is to enable these critical working alliances with a flexible and scalable unified platform, replacing manual workflows and eliminating multiple siloes to protect businesses – especially in times of need.

4. Manual and on-premise solutions no longer make the cut.  Many small, mid-sized and even global organizations today still rely on ad-hoc, manual processes to get the job done – but relying on error-prone manual administration only guarantees that sooner or later, processes will break. An ERP implementation may appear stable on the surface, but the moment trouble arises – a pandemic, for example – the system is effectively shut down, rendering it inaccessible if it is entirely on-premise. It’s time to use these uncertain times as a wake-up call, and ensure safety and security is built-in to an organization’s system from the get-go.

Project and time tracking are core processes to any business. Today’s challenges have shown us that we need resilient enterprise systems to help us with these processes as they tie directly into resource productivity, utilization, project and business profitability, and other critical business metrics. Investing in an effective solution can revolutionize how you manage your projects and resources when the world throws you a curveball.

9 Tips for Growing a Sustainable Business

for Creating and growing a sustainable business is good for several reasons, chief among them being that we live, work, and play on one planet, and we need to take care of it for the benefit of all. However, good conscience aside, a sustainable business model may also be a successful business model.

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As Raymond Ackerman, founder of retail group Pick n Pay, is known for saying, “Doing good, is good business.” Ackerman used a sustainable business model to combat the human injustice of the apartheid-era South Africa, by investing in multiracial employees – funding additional studies where needed, and encouraging entrepreneurship in their communities. Ackerman grew his four retail outlets into a highly successful, multinational enterprise this way. Nelson Mandela, former South African president and Nobel prize winner, said of the Ackermans, “Raymond and Wendy are in the forefront of that group of good men and women who feel they should plough whatever resources are in their command in order to develop a community which has been neglected for more than three centuries.”

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According to a global consumer survey by Unilever there is a $1 trillion market opportunity for businesses that highlight their sustainability endeavours. The Global 100 is a report by Canadian sustainability-focused financial information company Corporate Knights, that ranks large enterprises around the world based on their ability to reduce carbon and waste. The 7,500 companies that do this best also generate over $1 billion in annual revenue.4 The “Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s” report shows that sustainable business is one of the most lucrative business sectors.

It is easy to understand why investing in sustainability is becoming a more mainstream idea for business executives. Today, over 90 per cent of CEOs believe that sustainability is imperative for their business success, and are now focusing on introducing sustainability initiatives and strategies, such as:6

  • Innovation around sustainable products and services
  • Creating positions such as a chief sustainability officer
  • Producing sustainability reports

Sustainability is not limited to established enterprises: the number of first-time entrepreneurs who are developing their companies around environmental protection and services has grown, which has brought about an increase in the number of promising start-ups that focus on long-lasting, eco-friendly and recycled goods.7

What is a sustainable business?

In 2015, world leaders at the United Nations (UN) agreed on 17 goals that would create a better world by 2030. These goals focus on eradicating poverty, fighting inequality and ending climate change.

A sustainable business that wants to line up its sustainable business goals with the UN’s goals might start with responsible consumption and production. To do this, they would need to ensure that their supply chain supports environmental goals, such as climate action, life below water, and life on land.

Organisations would also look at their staff and management structures to ensure gender equality and reduced inequalities. They could assess their immediate communities and see how they can initiate or contribute towards the goals of good health and well-being, quality education, clean water and sanitation, and sustainable cities and communities. All of these goals work together to bring about a positive impact.

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How to grow a sustainable business

According to Unilever’s “Better Leadership, Better World” report, there are key leadership endeavours that are pivotal to successfully growing a sustainable business in accordance with the UN’s Global Goals. Here are some tips on how to make your business more sustainable.

  1. Connect with the need. Business leaders can look at pictures and videos, and read studies that show how much damage has been caused to the environment, but progress will be slow unless business owners begin to feel connected to these issues themselves. If a business as a whole wants to commit to becoming sustainable, the first step is a personal connection to the need to take care of the planet.
  2. Repair social trust. Ever since the global financial crisis, trust in business has deteriorated. Business leaders need to work on regaining the trust of society, their consumers, employees, and the communities they are present in, and repair their license to operate. Partnering with governments, customers, workers and civil society, and contributing positively to the community, and then openly communicating their sustainable interactions with society, will go a long way in rebuilding societal trust in the business.
  3. Make sustainability a core principle. Sustainable businesses genuinely believe that climate change, unethical resource consumption, and pollution are high on the list of concerns, and that they can contribute to the solution. If sustainability is to become central to how a business operates, the leadership team needs to educate themselves on what sustainability really means, and why it is so important. Reading articles about the topic, attending sustainable-focused conferences, and joining industry coalitions that are focused on bringing the Global Goals into fruition are a good start.
  4. Do research. Businesses that only have a superficial interest in sustainability will go after whatever mainstream eco-friendly strategies are trending at the time. Typically, this will be used as part of their marketing strategy in the hope to gain more brand equity and consumers. However, these activities are typically more in an attempt to check the ‘sustainability’ box, than as part of a deep-thinking sustainability approach. True leaders know that sustainability endeavors are more complex and will require more from them. To understand the impact of the business, business leaders can carry out deep-dives. These investigations can help them uncover the state of the community, the environmental and human impact across their entire supply chain, and the materials life cycle. For sustainability to take root, research needs to be done. Businesses need to examine all the elements of a decision by including sustainability experts in the process and considering life cycle analysis (LCA) tools.
  5. Innovate. Applying a sustainability lens to every aspect of the business means there may be a need to change business strategies. Innovations will arise out of the need to adjust the business towards greater sustainability. These include:
    • Empowering board members and business leaders to focus on sustainability and drive execution
    • Strategically planning and developing products or services that produce sustainable outcomes
    • Marketing products and services that evoke sustainable choices from consumers
    • Using the Global Goals to inform leadership development strategies
  6. Incorporate diverse leadership. Sustainable businesses look to the Global Goals as their road map to greater sustainability. These are not only focused on the environment, but include greater equality, fair wages, and investing in diversity. The “Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals” report argues that gender equality in the workplace can help unlock more than $12 trillion in new market value that is linked to the Global Goals. It comes as no surprise that 30 per cent of the board members of Chr. Hansen Holding, the business that took first place on the Corporate Knights’ Global 100 list of most sustainable businesses, is made up of women.
  7. Set a long-term, holistic vision. Understand that sustainability is more than a token response to keep consumers happy. Sustainable businesses set targets that are well-researched and achievable. Goals may include reducing their carbon footprint by 50 per cent or eliminating it altogether. Or, eliminating pollution across their supply chain.
  8. Be accountable and constantly improve. Many inspiring sustainable businesses are exceedingly transparent, with in-depth information available on their websites about where they source their products, how they manufacture, their labour practices, how sustainable their materials are, and areas they are working on to improve. Being transparent makes businesses more accountable, and removes complacency. Being accountable ensures businesses are constantly striving to find new ways to decrease their footprint further, and fosters more credibility with consumers.
  9. Embrace competitors as collaborators. When one key player in a sector becomes openly sustainability-focused, it drives others within that sector to follow suit. This type of competition is encouraged by sustainable businesses, not only because of the positive impact on the environment, but also because it forces them to continue their sustainability innovations. Leaders find like-minded competitors and non-profits to collaborate with to develop innovations that might be out of reach for a single organisation.

For businesses of all sizes, emulating international giants, such as Apple with their Eco-friendly headquarters or Tesla’s new 5.5 million-square-foot Giga factory, both of which use solar energy, is only possible if the sustainability budget runs into the millions. However, individuals and companies can start small: recycle waste, use tap water instead of plastic bottles, utilize natural light in the office. Most of these things are already happening in the workplace; how much more can be achieved with continuous focused thinking on sustainability? The power of business to provide a change that positively impacts on the world is vast. With its unmatched powers of ideation, production, and distribution, the business world is well-positioned to bring the change needed at scale.

Is Mobile Clocking right for your business?

The challenges that a mobile workforce has are vastly different from a stationary one. Since they do not have an office to sign in to as such, business owners have a tough time calibrating employee performance. If you have a construction business or a software house that outsources certain project, then you know what this is about.

Clocking

The good news is that mobile clocking can take care of this problem immediately. These are excellent options when it comes to organizing large remote teams and highly efficient when it comes to measuring productive hours. They also allow HR to take care of important tasks faster and thus spend more time on recruiting than paperwork.

Since most mobile clocks have easy to use interfaces, so that employees can clock in or out as quickly as possible. Some mobile solutions also come with GPS tracking capabilities that allow managers and contractors in particular to see where their workers are in real time all the time. This allows them to generate an accurate account of each worker’s performance and the total hours they work.

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Mobile solutions for remote employees also allow managers to manage the workforce easily and some can also be designed to track rest periods, clocking in and out and also set reminders for important tasks.

They can also be used to keep employees informed about important memos and how many days they can take off or the number of sick days they have left. Since they can access that information straight from an online portal no matter where they are, they will always be aware of the time they have left and what they can do to maintain their track record.

In addition, allowing employees to set their own time slots according to the standard number of hours they have to work will increase production. All of this can be done through a simple mobile clocking device but only if it provides that option. However, the investment is worth the hassle you will not have to deal with.

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Sorting through mountains of paperwork is time consuming and stressful for your accounting team who have more important matters to attend to after all. The paper that is wasted during this time can be saved with a cloud-based solution that will always have the data they need to make those performance reports. Every single time in and break will be accounted for.

If your business is spread out over a number of offices across the state for instance, a payroll system that can be managed remotely and used remotely will be a boon for your business. Not doing so can land you in legal trouble with worker rights groups and/or distract employees from their main duties.

mobile clocking application and system can ensure this does not happen and its management only requires a couple of people. So if you want maintain production, increase your retention rate and boost employee morale, then investing in a remote clocking system will be a good idea.