Do Your Workers Need More Education?

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If you are reviewing your employee benefits package, you may want to consider continuing education.

While not one of the traditional components of benefits packages for employees, it is an attractive addition.

People like the idea of getting education for free to help their careers and income potential to grow.

Benefits for Employers

Offering continuing education doesn’t just benefit the employee; it provides advantages the employer as well.

The most obvious advantage is the fact that you can promote from within when a higher position opens up. Instead of hiring strangers to take a supervisory position, you can place someone you already know and trust in that job.

It also helps reduce the cost of turnover because employees are more likely to stay with an employer if they feel they can continue to grow and advance.

They also know that they will make more money if they can promote up through the department or even move into a new department within the same company.

Happy Customers

The better trained your staff is, the better satisfied your customers will be.

This translates into more revenue for you. Even small businesses can benefit from helping their employees get more education.

For example, say you own a beauty salon.

As the following article looks at, by offering your staff the opportunity to take cosmetology online classes, they can learn new techniques or expand their knowledge while continuing to work. They can sell their new skills to customers in the form of additional services.

This concept works for just about any small business, so explore how it can help your company.

Are There Any Downsides?

Even if you can see all of the advantages to offering employees continuing education, you may wonder about the downside. The first is the cost.

Of course, you can limit the cost by offering to pay only for tuition or for a portion of the tuition.

To prevent your employees from getting the training and then leaving immediately, you can also include a requirement of service for a reasonable period of time.

For instance, an employee may need to be employed for at least a year and plan to stay at least a year after completion of education.

The other big disadvantage to employers is that employees have gained new skills that they can take elsewhere. However, this is not as big of a problem as you might think.

By offering educational help as part of the employee benefits, you show that your business cares about the people who work there. It inspires loyalty in the staff and the employees are less likely to leave.

People who make a decent salary and have the opportunities to grow and face new challenges in their jobs are less likely to look elsewhere for jobs.

Instead, they will turn their focus inward when they are ready to make changes.

By offering continuing education to employees, you equip them to become even more valuable to your organization and encourage them to stay and share their new skills with your company.

Photo credits: Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Got Credit

 

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including business and education.

Is Your Website a True Hit?

If you wish to maximize your profits and expand your business, you should consider making your products or services available to consumers in foreign countries.

The Internet has made it possible for businesses of all sizes to go global, but you may have to localize your website if you want to reach out to a non-English speaking audience.

Website localization refers to the act of modifying a website to make it comprehensible, usable and suitable to specific local markets, and it can be beneficial to your business in many ways.

Here is a look at why you should localize your website….

Cross Language Barriers

English is presently the most widely used language on the Internet, but this may change in the future as the number of Internet users outside North America and Europe continues to grow.

Many businesses are beginning to realize that English may no longer be the global language, and they need to localize their websites if they want to be competitive in foreign markets.

According to an article entitled “Website Localization Key to Improving Customer Experience“, a survey conducted by Common Sense Advisory in 2014 showed that consumers in foreign countries were strongly biased towards localized websites, and a large percentage of them avoided English websites.

In Europe, it was estimated that only 44 percent of Internet users were open to using non-native language websites.

Website localization enables you to cross language barriers and attract and engage consumers in foreign countries as effectively as native language websites.

Increase Revenue

Most Internet users prefer to buy products from companies that can communicate with them in their native languages.

Being able to understand product information clearly and communicate meaningfully with companies can help them make better informed purchasing decisions.

By localizing your website, you can reach out to potentially millions of new customers and increase your chances of converting them. This can lead to a significant increase in revenue.

Improve Search Engine Visibility

Another benefit of localizing your website is that it can help you achieve higher rankings in native language search engines.

The translated parts of your website will be indexed by native language search engines, and they will be more easily found by Internet users who perform searches in their native languages.

As such, you will see an increase in traffic to your website.

Build Credibility

Generally, consumers have greater respect for companies that can communicate in their native languages and offer products and services that are tailored to their cultures.

Localizing your website is a way to show your foreign customers that you are truly a global player, and you are committed to giving them the best shopping experience possible. It will help you gain their trust, loyalty and long-term business.

As the business world continues to become more global, an increasing number of companies are localizing their websites to gain a stronger foothold in foreign markets.

You need to do the same if you want to stay competitive.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to growing your business.

Study up Before Going the Franchise Route

Are you thinking about purchasing a franchise business?

Many people are drawn to franchises because they allow you to be a business owner with much of the legwork already done.

The business plan, what the store will sell, the logo and the advertising are all taken care of for you.

Franchises are often viewed as the best of both worlds because you run a business and start making a salary immediately, whereas if you opened your own new business, it could take months (if not years) to see results.

Businesses that can be purchased as a franchise include Allstate, Arby’s, Chick Fil-A, Econo Lodge, Subway, U-Haul and hundreds of others.

Study Up Before Purchasing

If you’re thinking about owning a franchise, it’s important to study up beforehand to make sure that it’s the right business for you.

The best way to start out is by reading books on franchising. There’s no better way to understand the scope of the industry than by learning from those who have been there before.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out the top 8 books to read for franchising.

The top three books on the list include The Educated Franchisee by Rick Bisio, Become a Franchise Owner by Joel Libava and Franchising for Dummies by Michael Seid and Dave Thomas.

Is Franchising Right for You?

In addition to reading books on franchising, it’s important to learn all you can about the industry to make sure that it’s what you want to do.

Just because the business plan and product are taken care of doesn’t mean the work is going to be easy. You can expect long hours, little vacation time (especially when starting out) and other stressful situations that will arise.

To be sure franchising is for you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you willing to run the business someone else’s way? – This is perhaps the biggest question you will need to ask yourself. Yes, you are in charge of the franchise, but the systems are already in place and more than likely, the owner is not going to be willing to change them just for you. Make sure you’re willing to work under someone else and adapt to their way of running a business, not your own.
  • Can you afford the start-up costs? – Franchise start-up costs can range from a couple thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Before choosing a company, make sure you can afford the cost it will take to get your store up and running. If you can’t afford it, consider picking up a part-time job, working overtime or selling unused items to bring in some extra money.
  • Is running a franchise something you will enjoy? – The best way to test the waters when it comes to franchising is to talk to other franchise owners. Ask if you can meet them for coffee and learn what they like, what they don’t like and what the challenges are which come with the job. If you see yourself being happy by running a franchise, then by all means, go for it.

Running a franchise requires discipline, a support system and the motivation to see your franchise succeed.

Once you’ve done your research on franchising and figured out if it’s right for you, it’s time to move forward with running your own franchise business.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on a variety of topics including small businesses, social media and personal finance.

Happier Employees Make for Better Results

Can you say with certainty that you have a bunch of happy employees? What if it is just a few?

Whether the numbers are high, medium or low, happy employees make for a world of difference in the business world.

For those individuals running large companies, there is sometimes a disconnect with the workers. This may not be due to an unpleasant owner, but more so because there are so many employees for one to keep track of.

Meantime, those running smaller operations can have an advantage in that they oftentimes have one-on-one relations with the various employees, especially the managers of different departments.

No matter what your relationship is when it comes to owner-employee, there are a number of ways you can increase the odds of having happy employees, employees who typically will turn out to be more engaged and more productive.

Insurance Brings Peace of Mind

There are various opportunities for medical coverage, wellness, and growing with the business you can offer your employees. They include:

  • Health benefits – Next to one’’s salary, having the proper healthcare coverage in place is likely paramount for the majority of employees. Locating affordable health care plans does not have to be an agonizing chore for you as a business owner. If you don’’t like the one you currently have in place and/or are just interested in seeing what else is out there, you have several roads to travel. While your HR (human resources) head may be tasked with the assignment, you or they can network with other business owners you are friendly with to see who they use. You can also turn to the Internet and use social media and blog posts to learn more about employee health insurers’’ who may be a good fit for your company;
  • Fitness – Going hand-in-hand with health benefits, encourage your employees to stay or get fit. Not only is it for their benefit, but healthy employees are less likely to miss work days or be out of action for an extended period of time. You can offer something as simple as gym memberships to qualified and interested employees (typically after their probationary period is over). Having a solid wellness program in place benefits your employees and your overall business goals;
  • Advancement – Lastly, if you worked at a company that gave you little or no room to grow and advance, would you stay there very long? In most cases, the answer would be no, so make sure your employees have options to move up the corporate ladder no matter what size business you run. Not only is there financial incentive for employees when having the opportunity to move up in the business, but there self-esteem and ability to work better with co-workers and customers will grow too.

When you give your employees the ability to care for themselves and their families, not to mention achieve some personal professional goals, you are more likely to have an overwhelming majority of happy employees.

As a business owner, what makes your employees happy?

About the Author: Adam Griffith writes on different topics for the Internet, among which are business, health and finance.

Time for a Move to Boost Your Career?

As the U.S. economy continues to gain momentum, rising employer confidence has led to stronger employment gains.

The job market performed exceedingly well in 2014, and it is not expected to let up this year.

Some cities are projected to experience faster job growth than others, and they are becoming increasingly popular destinations among job seekers.

If you are looking for a job, it is recommended that you give these cities a try:

U.S. Employment Outlook for 2015

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 2.95 million jobs were created last year, making 2014 the strongest year for job growth since 1999.

Unemployment rate slipped to 5.6 percent in December, which was significantly lower than the 6.7-percent rate recorded a year before.

This year, economists are expecting employers to become more bullish on employment, resulting in average monthly job gains of 250,000 to 300,000.

Some of the industries that will be seeing significant job growth in 2015 include the restaurant, retail, healthcare, finance and construction industries.

As mentioned in an article entitled “$800 Million Springfield Resort Casino to Create 2,000 Temporary Jobs“, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the U.S. construction industry will add about 30,000 jobs this spring.

Top 5 Cities for Job Seekers

In a recent survey, Manpower Group asked 18,000 employers from 100 metropolitan statistical areas about their hiring plans for the first quarter of 2015.

Below are the top five cities for jobs in 2015, according to the survey.

Cape Coral, Florida

About 32 percent of employers in Cape Coral, Florida said that they will be stepping up their recruitment efforts. The city is known as one of the top cities for startup businesses, and it is experiencing rapid job growth because of its booming tourism and hospitality industries.

McAllen, Texas

Located at the U.S.-Mexico border, McAllen is home to major facilities belonging to big corporations such as General Electric and Nokia, thanks to the U.S.-Mexico tariff-free trade agreements. These corporations and other employers are fueling job growth in the city, with 29 percent of them projecting an increase in employment.

Deltona, Florida

Deltona ranked joint-third on the list with Grand Rapids, Michigan, with 26 percent of employers planning to hire. This city is producing many new jobs in the hospitality and professional services industries.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a hub for auto and aviation manufacturers, as well as office-furniture manufacturers such as Herman Miller. About 26 percent of employers in the city are expecting to hire more workers.

Oxnard, California

Oxnard, California is home to a major port between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and therefore, it is a city that is driven by international trade. 24 percent of employers from this city indicated that they will increase hiring.

Your ability to land a good job depends mainly on your work experience, academic qualifications and skills.

However, you can increase your chances of success by targeting potential employers that are located in a city with a high job-growth rate.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to careers.

Time for a Career Consultant?

Are you feeling stuck in your career? If your career is a little lackluster, a career consultant can help you get it back on track.

A career consultant is a worthwhile investment of time and money if you need some help moving forward, but naturally you want to choose the right consultant to make sure you get a return on that investment.

So how can you do just that?

Follow these four tips to help find the right career consultant for you.

  1. Know Your Goals

A career consultant can help you find what you want to do, gain clarity and narrow down your options. However, they will be much better able to help you if you start off with a clear idea of your aim.

Are you looking for a complete change of career or are you more interested in moving forward in your current field? Do you have specific goals regarding earning more money or being able to work from home?

It’s ok to have a lot of unanswered questions – that’s why you’re hiring a career consultant – but try to start out with an idea of your overall aims. That way, you’ll be better placed to choose a consultant whose methods and track record are well suited to those aims.

  1. Research Their Credentials

As the article “How to Find the Right Career Consultant for You” points out, anyone can set themselves up as a career consultant.

The lack of consistent accreditation can make finding the right consultant seem like a minefield, but don’t worry.

There are other ways to find out how well qualified your career consultant is:

  • Search engines. By searching for their name, you can see what others have said about them online;
  • Professional references. Ask if they can provide you with professional references to follow up;
  • Find out if they have previous clients who would be willing to talk with you;
  • A good consultant will usually have some level of visibility, such as books, papers, social media or speaking engagements.
  1. Make the Most of Your Consultation

Any career consultant worth your time will be happy to offer you a free initial consultation, either in person or by phone or email. This helps you both assess one another and figure out if you’d be a good fit.

Prepare some questions before hand to learn more about how they work and what exactly they can help you to achieve.

The consultation is also a good opportunity to see if there’s chemistry between you. Do you feel you could work well with this person?

A career consultant doesn’t occupy the same place in your life as a friend, but a certain level of rapport and ease of conversation is a must.

  1. Assess Their Methods

Every career consultant works differently.

Some are more hands on than others. Some lean more towards “tough love” while some are more holistic. All good consultants will help you with goal setting, but some will have a more formal approach than others, and some will set very specific homework.

As well as getting a feel for how they work and what kind of success they’ve had with those methods, finding out more about how they approach coaching will help you to decide if their methods are right for you.

Everyone is different, so be honest with yourself about which methods are most likely to motivate you.

A career consultant can help you turn your career around and guide you in the best direction for you.

Of course you’ll still be responsible for the work needed to get there, but the right consultant will act as your trail guide, showing you the best routes and helping you avoid the rocky ground.

About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, career consultants and changing careers.

Is Your CEO Taking the Company to New Heights?

Chief executive officer, or CEO, is usually the highest-ranking executive officer in a company, and he or she is responsible for overseeing every aspect of the business.

As a business owner, you have to make sure that you have a competent CEO, because he or she can make a big difference to your company’s performance.

Here is a look at the role of a CEO and how he or she can contribute to the success of your business.

Responsibilities of a CEO

Your CEO is tasked to ensure that every aspect of your company is running smoothly and effectively, including operations, human resources, financing, marketing, sales, public relations, fundraising and others.

While some of the responsibilities of your CEO can be delegated, others cannot be delegated, such as building company culture and establishing the senior management team.

Basically, your CEO’s main responsibility is to develop a vision and business plan for your company.

He or she will set the direction for your company and make decisions concerning budgets, partnerships, product lines, market entries, brand identity and others.

Another important duty of your CEO is building culture. His or her every action will send cultural messages to your employees, giving them a clearer idea of what is acceptable or unacceptable in your company.

Additionally, your CEO is responsible for capital allocation and hiring, firing and leading the members of your senior management team.

How Your CEO Can Be a Greater Asset to Your Company

Be Humble

According to successful entrepreneur Cecilia Ibru, CEO of Oceanic Bank International, CEOs should try to refrain from being overly arrogant even though they hold a higher position than most people in their companies.

It is fine if your CEO wants to be in the spotlight to help your company gain visibility and establish a firm foothold in the marketplace. However, he or she should be willing to do whatever is best for your company at any given time, even if it means putting aside his or her ego.

A humble CEO will be able to gain the trust of your employees and create a more closely-knit workforce.

Make Full Use of Data

The success of your company depends a lot on your CEO’s decision-making ability.

One thing you can do to ensure that he or she will be able to make better decisions is to implement big data analytics.

With a big data system in place, your CEO can analyze your company’s data more efficiently and effectively, and derive valuable and actionable insights that can help him or her make well-informed decisions.

Communicate Clearly

Whether your CEO is communicating with the board, investors, employees or clients, it is essential that he or she knows how to communicate and inform clearly.

The people whom he or she is communicating with should be able to understand his or her visions, goals and strategies. Clear communication can lead to greater efficiency and productivity, as well as higher work quality.

In most companies, the CEO is the person who has the greatest influence on business performance.

If you have a capable CEO, you will have the peace of mind that your company is in good hands.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to running a business.

Is Your Organization Financially Sound?

ID-100262910If you are planning to start a business or nonprofit organization, one of the biggest challenges that you will face is securing funding.

There are many ways to get funding for your venture, and you can determine which funding option best meets your needs by doing some research.

Here is a look at some of the funding options that are available….

Loans

Getting a loan is the most common way of raising money for a new business.

One thing you can do to find a suitable loan opportunity is to contact the Small Business Administration (SBA).

There are a number of specialized loan options for you to choose from, ranging from startup loans to microloans. SBA loans are usually easier to secure than bank loans because they have less stringent requirements.

If you decide to get a loan from a bank, it is advisable that you start with smaller banks in your locality. These banks will have a better understanding of how your business will fit into the local landscape.

If you are starting a non-profit organization, you can try to get a loan from funding sources such as the Nonprofit Finance Fund, as well as banks and other financial institutions.

Grants

Grants are usually offered by the public sector or charitable organizations, and they do not have to be repaid. Since they are pursued by many organizations, they are extremely difficult to secure.

Grants can come in many forms, including business startup grants, business expansion grants, research grants, financial education grants and others. There are grants that are specifically offered to aspiring owners or owners of certain types of organizations, as well as demographic groups such as women, minorities, single parents and others.

As such, it is a good idea to define your niche before you apply for a grant.

You can increase your chances of getting a grant by creating a detailed business plan that shows how your organization will stand out from others.

Federal, state and local governments offer a wide range of grant programs for businesses and nonprofit organizations, and you can find out about these grants by doing research on the Internet or contacting your state or local government offices. Grants can also be obtained from organizations such as the National Financial Educators Council.

As the following article shows, this organization offers financial literacy grants and funding to help organizations further their financial education initiatives.

Crowd-funding

Crowd-funding is becoming an increasingly popular method of obtaining funding for starting businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Presently, there are many crowd-funding websites that provide excellent platforms for organizations to locate startup funds. However, the increased popularity of crowd-funding also means greater competition.

In order to raise enough money for your start-up, you need to devise effective strategies to attract the attention of investors.

Securing funding for your new business or nonprofit organization does not have to be a complicated task.

If you can create a good business plan and make a great pitch, you will significantly improve your odds of getting the funding you need.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to Cloud computing.

Are You in the Business of Apps?

apps-kids-blocks-shows-application-software-and-computing-100303643In today’s business world, it is all but a necessity to be up to speed on the latest technology.

For many small business owners, the lack of time and effort when it comes to technology can ultimately lead to missed business and lost revenue.

So, which areas of technology should you be focused on moving forward in order to build your company?

Consumers Love Apps

Living in a fast-paced world means many consumers want their products and services yesterday and not today. In order to meet such demands, business owners must utilize the best technology available, allowing them to stay a step ahead of the competition.

Among the technological devices that should be standard in today’s business world are apps.

For starters, much of that necessary technology must come from within, meaning your office and your employees need access to it in order to best serve customers.

One of the top apps that should be in your arsenal is a mobile app.

With millions of consumers sporting mobile devices, your mobile app can be a treasure trove of new and existing business.

Face it; you should be catering to a large swath of the population who can and should be using your products and/or services.

You can provide customers with a wide-range of specials (mobile coupons, deals etc.) that will likely keep them coming back to you for years. The mobile app also allows you to do business instantaneously, lessening the chances customers will go elsewhere.

Make the Workplace More Productive

Apps are also beneficial to business owners when it comes to handling a host of workplace needs from organizing data to scheduling meets.

If you are looking at companies who are tasked with developing android apps and other such tech devices, look for a provider who can offer you some of these needs:

  • File storage – Filing of company and computer data is one of the biggest tasks facing any small business. Use the right app to view and manage your PDF, Excel, Word and other such files. This will also allow you to share sizable documents in one link inside the creation of an email, thereby allowing you to skip attachments;
  • Customer invoices – Staying on top of your customers’ invoices is critical in order to keep your finances healthy. The right app allows you to neatly manage the invoices, including the all-important bills. One of the biggest challenges any business (but especially small businesses) faces is collecting payments from those individuals/companies who can be lax at following through after being billed. Delinquent accounts can end up costing the business owner time and money, both of which he or she may be short on. Make sure your app has all the numbers up to date so you can easily see which client or clients are falling behind on their financial commitment to you;
  • On-the-go – Many small business owners and/or their employees end up having to be out of the office at any given time of the day. Whether it is to make deliveries, meet with clients or attend networking events, they want to stay in touch with the workplace. This can be done via an app which will permit you to team up with your PC. You can then review any files you may need, especially if they are relevant to meeting with clients;
  • Reaching out – It is not uncommon for small business owners to need to reach out to current and potential customers with pitches, special offers and more. The right app helps you by storing details in a business letter, something you can then send off to clients. You can save a particular template and design so you do not have to repeat the process over and over again.

As you can see, apps have a wide-range of helpful options for the man or woman running a small business.

If you have not used much in the way of technology before, see what apps can do for you moving forward.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes for a variety of websites on topics such as marketing and technology.

Credit Reports Matter for Businesses and Consumers

credit-history-represents-debit-card-and-bankcard-100297005Whether you run a business or are just your everyday consumer, you more than likely know how important your credit history is, especially when it comes to meeting your financial needs.

For the small business owner, one’s credit score is very important in order to solidify yourself as being financially sound, most notably in the event you need to acquire a small business loan.

For the typical consumer, a solid credit score rings important when trying to get a new or used car loan, a loan to buy a home and much more.

With that in mind, do you truly know whether your credit report is thumbs up or thumbs down?

Obtaining a Loan or Credit Card

Typically the top reason you want a positive credit score is when it comes time to try and obtain a loan. The same holds true in looking for your first or an additional credit card.

Whether you get your information from CreditSesame.com or another such provider, your score will go a long ways in determining whether you get the funds you seek.

For starters, do you know where you stand when it comes to your credit score?

While the number range can fluctuate to a degree, the following scores mean:

  • 630 or below (Bad credit) – This range means you likely have missed some credit card payments, you have no credit card history, or you at some point filed for bankruptcy (personal reasons such as high medical bills and/or a small business that has gone under). One of the down sides to numbers in this range is that you will have to deal with larger interest rates and fees moving forward;
  • 630 to 689 (Average credit) – This range puts you in with millions of other Americans. While not the worst, your credit could be better if you did away with a sizable portion of bad debt hanging around. Numbers in this range can make it difficult to get a loan;
  • 690 to 719 (Good credit) – This range allows you to be eligible for a variety of different credit cards, with lenders also viewing you as a good risk in most cases;
  • 720 to 850 (Excellent credit) – This range is as good as it gets for consumers. Many will have the opportunity to receive cards that offer great rewards.

Check Your Report in Detail

When you get a copy of your credit report, make sure you go over it with a fine tooth comb.

Look for any inaccuracies, especially given today’s world of identity theft.

If you find something amiss, reach out immediately to the fraud departments of those you do business with and have your account placed under review, making sure no money can be withdrawn until the matter is cleared up. You should also have a security hold placed on your credit report.

Whether for personal or professional use (running a business etc.), your credit report and your history of handling credit will go a long way in determining your financial future.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes for a variety of websites on topics such as marketing and small business.