November 1, 2016
The gig economy is most often associated with lower skilled work, such as the omnipresent ride service drivers. However, as the culture around gig work evolves and the number of opportunities rises, increasingly talented and skilled workers are seeking short-term positions, including in the IT space.
The key to finding the right employees for your business is in taking a close look at your own business’ data, and matching it with the skills and needs of IT gig workers.
Here are three key facts about the gig economy, and how businesses can leverage the increasing number of IT workers who prefer temporary work:
- 53 million Americans work as freelancers. And that number continues to grow. That means businesses can turn their attention to finding the best employee for the job, even if that person interviews and works entirely from home. The IT field has many unique opportunities for telecommunication rather than on-site work, which opens up businesses to a vast pool of potential temporary workers, depending on the project.
- IT departments can save around 30% on payroll costs with temporary hires. While this requires some attention to detail with picking the right freelancers, the payoff is plainly large. As skilled IT professionals continue to turn to the gig economy as their primary income source, it is increasingly tenable to plan projects around scaling active staff to the exact needs of the moment.
- Not every IT job requires a permanent position. By predicting when a current high level of need is potentially going to taper off, using short-term subcontractors can save money and avoid the issue of having a large IT team with months of downtime.
By following these three small business tips and tricks, you can lower your IT overhead and focus on scaling your staff — and expenditures — based on the work at hand.
October 28, 2016
Manufacturers all around the business world are bracing for change. The ever-changing face of digital technology has led to reinvention of manufacturing. There is no place the impact of digitization hits more than the shop floor, which is the heart of any organization. To understand the impact, consider the following factors.
Reliability and efficiency are the driving force for any manufacturing enterprise that yearns for success and make an impact in the market. Changes in the way you can configure, make, assemble, and pack items is what determines efficiency.
For this services to pan out perfectly for better productivity, better and improved systems are imperative. Personnel at this level understand meeting customer’s current expectations is next to impossible at most. In most manufacturing enterprises, profits or losses occur at the shop level, so it is important to have up to date systems. Digitization does not only determine increase or decrease of reliability of systems, but it also improves the efficiency of services at this stage. Strategy teams in a manufacturing enterprise should prioritize improving the shop floor first.
Examinations of core systems
Evaluation of revenue generation opportunism is critical. Managers and directors understand which areas have loopholes, where the enterprise is falling short of expectations, where there is poor communication, or where there is unavailability of data that slows down the decision-making process. Often the stumbling block for systems is inefficient ERP solutions. If any manufacturing enterprise is to make progress in the competitive market, then their ERP solutions should meet the challenge of digitization.
October 25, 2016
“Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy this year and many of those shoppers, who will spend on average about $74, will turn to pop-up Halloween shops.” ~ The National Retail Federation
Halloween is only a few short weeks away. As you can see, it’s full of money-making opportunities for businesses (yes, this includes your small business too). Of course, this requires you to do some marketing.
While the money you spend on Halloween marketing is tax-deductible, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to make a lot of money. There are lots of great small business Halloween “tricks” you can use to ramp up your marketing while utilizing a small budget, including:
- If you sell any products that people could use in their Halloween themed projects, now is the time to showcase these. If you have a few of these products that lend themselves well to a specific Halloween theme, create a package so you can offer them together at a discounted rate.
- Encourage your customers to use social media to show you what they’re doing here as well.
- Create a special hashtag for sharing your products and your customers’ creations.
- Incorporate Halloween symbols in your marketing. Even a small pumpkin or Frankenstein on the special signs you hang around the office this month are enough to show off some Halloween spirit.
Many of these ideas are also quite easy to put into action. Hopefully, you can use some of them to collect revenue (instead of candy) this Halloween, making it a “spooktacular” one for your business.
October 21, 2016
In late September the World Trade Organization (WTO) revised its previous forecast for global trade for both 2016 and 2017, reducing its growth estimates to 1.7% and 1.8%, respectively. This presents a stark contrast its projection from a year ago, which estimated that trade would expand by 3.9% this year.
And with global GDP expected to grow 2.2%, the WTO notes that 2016 will mark the “slowest pace of trade and output growth since the financial crisis of 2009.” Several issues were presented as possible causes of the diminished outlook, including Brexit’s long shadow, financial volatility in developed countries and the possibility that anti-trade rhetoric will impact trade policy.
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent World Economic Outlook report was similarly stark, stating that the volume of world trade has “grown by just over 3% a year since 2012, less than half the average rate of expansion during the previous three decades.” The Fund, which in July had forecast 2.2% economic growth for the United States in 2016, revealed concerns regarding U.S. trade and manufacturing, weakening its predicted U.S. growth to just 1.6%.
In the midst of this global trade slump, and looking out onto a horizon of disappointingly slow growth, the leader of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, stated that trade restrictions would leave U.S. workers and families “worse off.” She also warned that “to turn our back on trade now” would “[choke] off a key driver of growth.”
However, all is not lost. As detailed by U.S. News, the strong dollar and weak outlook on global growth may mean that we can expect U.S. manufacturing to “flatline.” However, they estimate that service industries and construction may step as leaders to propel the economy forward.
October 20, 2016
Recruiting and hiring the best talent is a rigorous, time-consuming process, and one that can be especially high-stakes when you are a small business in the midst of growing a strong workforce. And if your hiring decision is high-stakes, keeping your talent on-board is critical.
The Cost of Employee Turnover
Employee turnover carries a high cost, much of it hidden from the balance sheets but no less real. According to INC., the cost of losing an employee is roughly 150% of the employee’s annual salary. Some of these hidden losses include:
- Lowered productivity
- Overworked employees
- Replacement hiring, recruiting and training costs
Why Onboarding is Important for New Hire Retention
According to Small Business Trends, onboarding is a “crucial development opportunity.”
- It’s your chance to make a good first impression, establish expectations, and introduce the new hire to the company’s culture.
- A well-structured, organized onboarding program will reassure, not scare away, your new hire.
- Data from WaspBarCode affirms the importance of onboarding: new hires are “58 percent more likely to stay with the organization after three years” when a well-developed onboarding program is in place.
Tips to Keep Your New Hire Onboard
- Have a written onboarding plan and revise it as your company grows and your culture matures.
- Train your onboarders in the onboarding process so that they introduce the new hire to the company in a structured, organized manner.
- Give new hires time to acclimate and learn their position, the company, and culture. Slow and steady wins the race!
- Establish two-way communications. Give your new hire the opportunity to ask questions and clarify information.
A well-crafted onboarding program provides the long-term benefits of consistent expectations and a cohesive workforce. To start crafting your onboarding program, you can download a Standard Operating Procedure template from North Carolina State University.
October 18, 2016
Like a scene out of the latest sci-fi movie, the robot armies are coming. And while it is generally accepted that they will be friendly to humans, they bring with them an undercurrent of danger. They will arrive initially to serve mankind, to perform tasks considered too mundane or harmful to human health. But as they get smarter, their ambitions may grow, until the next thing you know, they’ve stolen your job!
Sound far-fetched? Far from it. The very near future is likely to bring with it a landscape populated with ever increasingly sophisticated computers and robots. As technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mature, the capabilities of these devices to perform more “human-like” tasks will increase exponentially. The economic impacts of this coming revolution could be dire if the technology is not managed properly. Many experts are predicting that future generation AI-driven robots will essentially be able to perform any task that humans can do today, from driving a bus to operating on a patient. The question then becomes, what will humans do in a world without work?
The threat to the economy is very real. According to the World Economic Forum, jobs lost to AI-driven automation could number 5 million by 2020. And another report, co-authored by Citibank and the University of Oxford Martin School, predicts that in the US alone, a whopping 47% of jobs could be at risk. Even if these worst-case scenarios don’t come to fruition, the disturbances to the global economy as a result of AI-enabled automation will certainly be profound.
Governments and businesses alike need to consider the ramifications of the coming ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Advanced automation will result in a sea change in the way organizations both large and small conduct business. And society as a whole will need to decide how to best harness this technology for the greater good of humanity, rather than allowing it to spawn economic hardship and inequality.
October 14, 2016
Every business owner, especially small business owners, are looking for new ways to save more money, be more efficient, and ultimately as a result increase profits. Let’s explore some ways that small business owners can save more of their hard-earned money!
Get Rid of The Paper
Paperless offices are the way of the future. Thanks to an array of business technologies it is no longer imperative to have paper copies of everything. Document scanners allow businesses to share and send documents instantaneously and they save them on printing and storage costs while making the office a more efficient place overall. This also includes offering your customers electronic invoices.
Think About Leasing
When buying equipment for your office consider leasing it instead of purchasing it outright. Not only do you avoid spending a lot of money upfront for the equipment, but you also will save on maintenance and repair costs too since most lease agreements will also cover these expenses.
Collect a portion of cash upfront from the customers that you extend credit too. It doesn’t have to be a substantial percentage, but if you collect even say 25 percent upfront from your credit customers you minimize your risks, improve your overall cash flow, and save money in your collection efforts.
Payroll Debit Cards
Issuing payroll debit cards instead of cutting checks every pay period is a great way to save money on administrative costs since the expense of cutting checks is cut out, and you lower risk of fraud, which is a major benefit since according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 60 percent of all fraud incidents within a business involve employees.
Getting your business listed in online directories, like the North American Trade Registry, is a great way to make your business more efficient in terms of drawing more customers organically without spending too many of your resources on marketing efforts. Using trade registries is also a great way to generate more sales leads!
October 12, 2016
Video marketing and graphic animation, once a luxury reserved for big business, is an increasing necessity for small business, Graphic and video content engages customers and communicates your message better and faster than any other medium, according to the Rhode Island Small Business Journal (RISBJ). The reasons are simple: the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the written word while also engaging viewers on a “human level.” Recent statistics reported by Invisia corroborate the efficacy of video marketing, citing increases in conversion up to 80% on website landing pages and 20% or more on website home pages.
Before small businesses list in B2B Directories like the free US Registries, it is good business to have marketing plans in place, strategies for capitalizing on increases in incoming leads, and websites updated with engaging, informative information. Visit the US Registries website at: http://www.northamericantraderegistry.com.
Small business owners often state that graphic animation and video content isn’t apropos to their industry, according to RISBJ. But the medium’s power to engage, tell a story about products and services, and humanize your business is proven. A quick look at some of the websites listed on Forbes Best Small Companies In America, 2016 reveals how video content and graphic animation is utilized across industries to engage customers. From venture capital to manufacturing to consulting to banking to B2B, graphics and video tell the story and bring products and services to life.
Graphic Animation and Video Content: Use an Agency or Produce Yourself?
Most advertising and PR agencies offer high-quality, professional video and graphic animation services. While these services can take a large bite out of small business marketing budgets, 73% of businesses incorporating video into their marketing campaigns “report positive results to their ROI,” according to Invisia. Small Business Trends (SBT) recently reviewed Slidely Promo social video creation platform as an alternative for small businesses. In partnership with Getty Images, Slidely Promo lets businesses “create instant, stunning promotional videos for social platforms” for as little as $49 per month, according to SBT.
To learn more about inexpensive video and graphic animation using Slidely Promo, visit their website: https://slide.ly/prom
October 10, 2016
The United Kingdom’s controversial referendum and impending withdrawal from the European Union (commonly referred to as Brexit) caused shockwaves around the world. Ushering in turbulence and volatility in the European marketplace, the British exit will carry economic implications well across the pond, affecting U.S. businesses large and small.
As reported by CNN.com, Janet Yellen, chief of the U.S. Central Bank and a top monetary policy setting official, warned that Brexit “would negatively affect financial conditions and the U.S. economy.” And however dire that proclamation may be, small businesses in the U.S. may find that there are some positive effects among Brexit’s negative.
- Businesses may anticipate a brain drain from the United Kingdom whereby educated professionals move to the U.S. in order to pursue their careers. This influx of Brits would result in a more competitive labor market, creating opportunities for U.S. businesses to hire top talent.
- Due to higher risk and lower interest rates, more money from Europe will be invested in the U.S. market. Businesses may be wise to seek out foreign capital or investment for their business.
- The E.U. may relax some of the strong regulations that prompted the U.K.’s exit after similar campaigns for referendums have begun cropping up from politicians in other European countries. Decreased regulations may allow U.S. businesses that were previously unable to participate in the E.U. marketplace, opening a new population of European consumers to their products.
- As would be the case with an influx to the talent pool, the competition in many different niches for U.S. businesses may increase as British business owners seek to move operations.
- According to Willie Schuette of The JL Smith Group, should the duplication of the U.K.’s current trade deals not occur, small businesses may be forced to “separate European distribution; meaning lower margins and higher shipping costs.” Further, contractual agreements “will be impacted” as “new rules, agreements and laws” are rewritten.
- Small businesses have to adjust plans to account for long-term uncertainty regarding the actual effects of Brexit, which could take up to two years to finalize. Jeff Stibel, Vice Chairman of Dunn & Bradstreet, described how businesses typically operate well in good economic times and have created back-up plans so that they may survive the tough ones, however “[businesses] are uniformly bad at operating in times of uncertainty.”
- The British pound has fallen after Brexit, while the U.S. dollar rallied. Although a strong dollar is good for American travelers, it will cause U.S. products sold overseas by businesses to be more expensive, and thereby less attractive to consumers.
September 15, 2016
NAROFF ECONOMIC ADVISORS, Inc.
Joel L. Naroff
President and Chief Economist
INDICATOR: August Retail Sales, Industrial Production, Producer Prices and Weekly Jobless Claims
KEY DATA: Retail Sales: -0.3%; Excluding Vehicles: -0.1%/ IP: -0.4%; Manufacturing: -0.4%/ PPI: 0%; Excluding Energy: 0%/ Claims: +1,000
WHAT IT MEANS: If you have missed my economic missives, it was because of the dearth of information. Well, today, the economic data mills released a ton of numbers and they all seemed to say the same thing: Not much is happening in the economy. August retail sales were pretty soft, but we knew that would be the case from the decline in vehicle sales. However, even excluding vehicles, sales were down. People did eat a lot, both at home and in restaurants, and back-to-school clothing sales were good. But that was about it, as almost every other major category was either flat or down. Electronics and appliances did eke out a small gain.
With households not buying, manufacturers stopped producing. Industrial production fell in August as manufacturing output declined. Eight of the eleven durable goods producing industries and seven of the nine nondurable components were either flat or down. Why there was such a major retrenchment is strange in that the numbers looked like something we would get when the economy was in a major downturn. You know something is weird when the strongest sector was oil and gas production.
If the Fed members were hoping to see inflation pressures starting to build, their wishes were not granted. The inflation genie is still in the bottle as the Producer Price Index was flat in August. Energy prices fell sharply, but even excluding energy, wholesale costs went nowhere. About the only positive aspect of this report, at least for the Fed, was that goods inflation has finally flatlined. With services costs rising, wholesale prices could increase, year-over-year, going forward. And as far as the pipeline is concerned, intermediate level, non-food and energy costs are firming. That hints at slowly rising inflation as well.
The one truly positive number released today was unemployment claims. They rose minimally and the level remains near record lows, when adjusted for the labor force. The labor market is tight and firms are just not cutting staff.
MARKETS AND FED POLICY IMPLICATIONS: We will find out next week if the Fed is really data dependent as the recent numbers hardly argue for a rate hike. Vacations and a hot August may have depressed activity, something we will not know until the September numbers are released. Of course, those reports will not be released until after the meeting. The economy is moving forward at the pace we have seen for the past few years. The string of roughly 1% growth rates should be broken this quarter, but that would just start bringing us back to 2%, which most economists think is underlying the growth rate. The recent disappointing data places the Fed in a difficult position. If the FOMC raises rates, then it would give lie to the argument that the Fed is data dependent. If the Fed is data dependent, then the next time a hike would likely come is December, since the November meeting ends six days before the election. It looks like the Fed will have missed another opportunity to start the normalization process because the “data dependent” argument has placed the members in an untenable position. Maybe they should just drop the phrase. It’s dumb, as the data are so volatile, and weak numbers box in the members. With strong data, the Fed doesn’t need an explanation, as the markets will be expecting, if not demanding a move.