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The EPIC Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries designed to enlighten, challenge, inspire and equip. #BeTheChange

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Encased by Contentment

March 27, 2018

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This is a familiar battle cry for times when we are entrenched in the myriad of difficulties that can stop us in our tracks. We marinate on these words, or on some semblance of them, and we find the intestinal fortitude to persevere. We pull ourselves up from the floor one more time, dust ourselves off, refocus on our dreams and goals and let the inner passion that was the impetus for beginning our journey be the driving force behind our forward motion towards overcoming obstacles and turning our dreams into reality.


But what about when things are going well? Maybe we aren’t completely crushing it (or maybe we are), but everything is pretty good and nothing is falling apart. How can we stay charged up and continue to innovate and revolutionize? How do we overlook our current successes and see that we HAVE to continue to do the things that got us to this point or else we will most assuredly begin backsliding? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….right? Why risk breaking stride and disrupting momentum, slow as it may be, when all is well? These are all great questions.


Too often we can become encased by contentment. Sure, everything seems like it’s humming along nicely, but as soon as we begin to settle for good enough, we have taken the first steps towards our inevitable demise. Good becomes the enemy of great when we forget what has gotten us to this point, namely a dogged determination to fiercely attack the status quo. Yes, we should absolutely take a moment to celebrate our minor victories, but we cannot rest in yesterday’s accomplishments if we truly intend to cast out mediocrity in ourselves and in the world around us.


When you feel yourself getting settled and you begin catching yourself believing that you’ve done all you can do, ask yourself these 6 questions.

1. Why did I begin this journey in the first place?

2. If I do not continue, who will?

3. If now is now the time, then when?

4. What will happen if I do continue?

5. What will happen if I don’t?

6. What is the legacy I wish to leave after I’m gone?


By virtue of honestly contemplating these few queries, my hope is that the spell will be broken and you will, once again, rise up and challenge yourself and those around you to disavow business as usual and rejoin the army of those of us who will be the change we wish to see in the world around us.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

What to do When "Never" Comes True

4/10/2018

“Never” is a very big word, far larger than its five little letters. It communicates that there is zero chance of something ever happening under any circumstances, no matter what. We often use the word for special emphasis for how steadfast is our resolve in ensuring a particular outcome. Unfortunately, there are many things that we have absolutely no control over and, as such, the end result of a given situation may be far different than we had originally envisioned. Therefore, no matter how much we may want something to happen (or not happen, as the case may be), we must have a plan in place to accommodate the outside chance that “never” may come true. Let’s take a closer look at this concept by working through an example.


As a very proud small business owner, you might declare with all your heart that you will never seek outside funding because you don’t want to surrender any of your control over your business. While this may be a very noble idea, what if your business begins to take off and the only way to take it to the next level is by gaining an influx of fresh capital? Maybe you need to go on a massive hiring spree, or perhaps you need new equipment. You’ve checked with the bank and you’ve been denied. You simply don’t have that amount of cash in the bank and your friends and family can’t help. You can choose to either stay where you are and possibly miss the upswing and allow your business to stagnate, or you can adjust your sails and accept that 80% of something is much better than 100% of nothing (or of something much smaller). If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank on TV, this is something that many of the contestants seem to have never considered before their appearance. This is mind boggling! Make sure that you and your team have worked through this scenario and will be able to act decisively should you encounter this fork in the road. Otherwise, paralysis by analysis may set in and you could find yourself on the outside looking in, having missed your window of opportunity altogether.


The thing to keep in mind is that all sorts of “never”s happen every single day. Contingency planning is a vital part of ensuring that your small business or nonprofit is able to remain vital and viable as conditions change. No one can ever think of all of the possible outcomes and plan for all of the variables, but don’t let that keep you from trying. Our economy and our society depend on you keeping your train on the tracks and headed towards success, however you define it. Take the time to plan your work, and then work your plan. Remember: the only shortcut is to do it right the first time. Good luck in all your endeavors and let us know if we can help you along the way.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Five Strategies for Protecting Business Assets

4/24/2018

Starting your own business can be a rewarding and amazing adventure that offers you the freedom and financial compensation that you've always wanted as part of your career. Running your own show or being part of a team of like-minded entrepreneurs is for some people what the American dream is all about. Finding your way in the business world has a lot of details that will need your attention, and if you're in a brick and mortar environment, security is one that will be on the top of your list. Here are some tips on getting a system that works for you set up right.


Think Like Goldilocks

When you're first getting started, being budget conscious will be second nature. Be sure that the security system you install is the right size for your space. You might think you can never be too secure but your bottom line will tell you differently. Whether you have one big space or several smaller rooms will impact how many cameras and other sensors you need. Choosing what you need covered before you contact providers will help you and them get the technical specifications right.


Pricing and Flexibility

One of your goals is most certainly for your business to grow, and that means the space you work in might be expanded or even moved to a different location. Check out the flexibility of any contracts before you sign them so that you know your security system and the coverage your provider offers can grow with you. A scalable contract is what you want. Compare any other security vendors' quotes to the ADT pricing model to give yourself a point of reference from a well-known security industry provider.


Mobile Functions and Alerts

Just because you're based out of a physical building doesn't mean as the business owner you're going to be there 24 hours a day. Having a system that has mobile options and alerts will give you the peace of mind to leave your workplace and go out and get more business. Make sure you set up alerts that are important but not a nuisance that you tune out because you get so many.You don't need to know the back door is ajar in the middle of the day while your staff is doing inventory.


Owners and executives work hard to build their businesses, their teams, and their assets. In some ways the modern age has given us more access to more markets with fewer barriers to entry than ever before. Still, serious security concerns exist. Don’t allow security shortcuts to leave you exposed to theft or property destruction. To protect what you’ve built, take time to evaluate the exposure of your various assets - especially capital assets and inventory. Identify gaps in your current security strategy. Make a plan to close those gaps, then evaluate your options. Given the right tools, strategies, and resources, you can protect what you’ve built, and ensure the survival of your business interests for years to come.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

What Hiring Managers Should Know During the Interview Process 

4/28/2018

A company's hiring manager is the driving force behind the entire employment process, from beginning to end. As the key individual who both initiates and concludes the act of hiring a new employee, a hiring manager needs to be informed all along the way. Your job is to make sure the company is doing its best and working through the best people for the job. Here are some tips for hiring right the first time around.


Competence is Only Part of the Puzzle

Every hiring manager needs to determine whether a candidate is able to perform the job's duties. This is usually the primary piece of information that human resource teams want to learn about a prospective employee. Fortunately, an applicant's resume usually tells the story clearly enough, but follow-up questioning by the hiring team is crucial. If, based on education and prior experience, the team determines that a candidate is able to perform all job duties, it's time to move on to the next step.


Candidate Likeability Plays an Important Role

Personality plays a much larger role in the hiring process than many people think. Young job applicants tend to believe that the process is all about skills and education. However, hiring managers work hard to find out whether an applicant will be a good fit within the company culture. That means things like manners, conversational ability, friendliness, and the ability to get along with a diverse team are of the utmost importance during the interview process.

Hiring managers will often scan a candidate's social media sites to gather clues about personality and likeability. Blogs, websites, and popular social sites offer a wealth of data to the savvy hiring manager.


Motivation is of Paramount Importance

Even when personality and competence are checked off the list of successes, hiring managers still need to find out whether a candidate is motivated to succeed in the job. If there are clues that the applicant might lose interest in the position, human resource teams want to learn about them sooner rather than later. There is nothing worse for a hiring manager than bringing someone on board only to have that person resign two or three months down the road. Make sure you provide resources for immigrants and veterans. People who you might not first consider could be the best fit, and become the most loyal.


A hiring manager's job includes a wide array of activities, some of which are technical and some of which are not. From the initial staffing meeting to the actual hiring of a new employee, anyone who holds the job title of "hiring manager" is invested with multiple responsibilities.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

​What Every Startup Needs in the Beginning Stages

5/3/2018

Many people dream about owning their own business. However, only a handful take the next step and turn their business concept into a real startup venture. If you have decided to move forward with launching your business concept, you may be wondering what initial steps you need to focus on to improve your chances for success. When you turn your attention to these essential factors, you can more easily launch your startup and gain success.


A Budget

All businesses need to have a functional and realistic budget. It can be difficult to accurately determine all aspects of your budget before you get started. However, the more realistic and accurate your budget is from the get-go, the more easily you will be able to manage your finances. You can list out all anticipated expenses, including one-time and recurring fees. Then, get quotes for each line item in your budget. When your budget is complete, you will be able to determine how much income you need to generate to break even as well as to produce enough income to support yourself personally. You will also determine how many months you may realistically operate before you generate a sufficient level of income to support the business and yourself.


Access to Capital

Most businesses will need access to a significant amount of startup capital. You may need to invest in products, equipment, technology, marketing, and more. You may also need to find a way to supplement your own income and pay your bills for a few months until the venture starts to turn a profit for you. When you create your budget and project income growth for your business, you can better determine how much money you will need to get your business going. Then, you can explore financing options available to get the money you need, such as small business loans, the personal injection of capital from your own bank accounts, crowd funding, and more.


The Right Technology Services

Technology is a critical aspect of running a business today. At the most basic level, you will need access to business internet and phone service. Focus on finding a service that is reliable and meets your need for speed and bandwidth. You may also need to upgrade your technology devices, such as your laptop, desktop, tablets, and smartphone. Explore related accessories, such as adapters that turn your smartphone into a credit card payment terminal. By upgrading your access to technology, you can more easily begin serving your customers.


A Marketing Plan

Some business owners don’t start thinking about marketing until they have launched a website and started actively trying to solicit business or sell goods. This can easily backfire on you. You need a detailed and well-thought out marketing plan to properly budget for expenses in the coming months. You also need to know who your target audience is and what the most cost-effective ways to reach them are. Your marketing plan should focus on what aspects of your products or services may appeal to your target audience and how to position your marketing efforts to be successful in this effort. It takes a bit of research, but is well-worth the effort.


Before you formally launch your business, you should complete a considerable amount of planning and research in the areas mentioned. Formally preparing a detailed business plan will cover your bases on many of the points described here, and this step can also help you to seek financing, to guide your business decisions and more. In addition, you should think about preparing your work environment from a technological standpoint so you can better perform business-related tasks and serve your customers. While there are many steps to take to launch your startup, completing these important steps will get you started on the right foot. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Tips for Financially Supporting Your Startup on a Budget

5/16/2018

Becoming an entrepreneur can be an exciting time, but is also a little stressful. It gives you a chance to live your dreams and be your own boss, but funding a startup business can be a challenge. The good news is, there are several things you can do to fund any kind of business on a budget.


Be a Minimalist

There are certain things every business owner needs to have. Fees for permits, licenses, and safety equipment are just a few you will have to spend money on up front. However, there are some ways you can cut costs on other things. For example, instead of buying state-of-the-art equipment, you can get pre-owned office supplies like desks and chairs. Get the bare minimum at first and see how you can stretch your budget with unnecessary items you’ll only need later on.


Get a Grant

A grant is the best type of financing you can get because you do not have to pay it back. There are a number of local and federal agencies that provide certain businesses and nonprofits with funding. It is important to research the different opportunities, find out about the requirements for the grant, and submit the application on time. A good agency can even help you craft funding applications to help this process become even smoother for you.


Partner Up

If you are a solo business owner, you may want to consider teaming up with another colleague. This will not only benefit you financially, but also allows you to expand your existing market. However, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration. First and foremost, you will need to make sure this person is a good fit for your company. This person should also have to be willing to commit to a partnership and be willing to grow with you.


Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is when a business, individual, or organization asks the general public for monetary support. One does not have to repay the funds that are donated with the expectation that your organization will pay back with products, events, and amenities. Most people who use crowdfunding to raise money will provide perks to donors as well. For example, people who donate money can get a free product or service.


Self-Funding

There are many ways you can self-fund your business. For example, if you have a valuable asset such as a boat or second home, then you can sell it in order to get cash back. You can also use your personal savings to fund your business. Additionally, if an attorney helped you get a settlement after an accident or suit you can also use that money as a baseline. These options will allow you to fund your business without going into debt.


Starting a business can be an expensive endeavor. Crowdfunding, grants, and self-funding are just a few of the many ways you can fund your startup. You should also cut expenses wherever you can and look into better ways to budget as you go along. Talk with a consultant and see where you can get started funding your new business. All it takes is a little direction and creativity, and your financing will go far. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

5 HR Policies Your Startup Needs Immediately

5/18/2018

In recent years, major human resources scandals have rocked Silicon Valley giants such as Palantir, Uber and Zenefits. These companies have more in common than scandalous HR incidents; all three started as audacious startups that quickly became the darlings of the tech world.


Tech analysts and venture capital firms are paying close attention to the aforementioned HR scandals because they believe that there are valuable lessons that can be learned from each situation. With this mind, here are five policies that every startup company should adopt as early as possible:


Focus on Employees

This should go without saying, but it is ruefully ignored by tech startups: a business enterprise can only be as successful as its employees can make it, and they need to feel comfortable as they seek success. This should be more than just a policy; it should be adopted as a company philosophy.


Employee Handbook

Venture capital firms often require their target investments to write an employee handbook as one of the conditions that they should meet prior to funding. The two most important policies to be stated in this handbook should be discrimination, as well as sexual harassment or sexual assault. All it takes is one complaint related to one of these issues to prevent a startup from making it past the planning stage.


Employee Agreements

The sexual harassment or sexual assault policies spelled out in the manual should also be incorporated in the employee agreement along with other expectations such as salary, days off, vacation, grievances process, responsibilities, expectations, and duties. The last thing a startup founder wants to do is rely on handshake agreements when hiring new employees. Written agreements should be refreshed and modified as needed; for example, when an associate is promoted or when she is given stock options as an incentive.


Secure HR Files

Personnel files should be stored and managed with the utmost security for a few reasons. First of all, they are highly sought after by identity thieves; second, a data breach involving HR records could result in a devastating lawsuit. Employees have very high expectations of privacy and security from their HR departments, and they truly deserve them.


Management Style

Entrepreneurs seldom make references to their preferred management styles until they have already hired managers. The desired style of management can only be enforced if it is actually spelled out as an HR policy that appears in the employee agreement.


In the end, it is important to remember that startup companies that do not establish HR policies are twice more likely to fail within their first few months of operation. Take the time to plan things out and create the policy-based infrastructure that will keep your organization out of trouble so it can focus on ongoing growth and viability. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

What Business Owners Should Know When Considering Company Vehicles

5/20/2018

You’re thinking of investing in a few vehicles for your company. The question on the table now is how to go about choosing the right ones. Selecting the right company vehicles does not have to be a tiresome or anxiety-inducing chore. By keeping a few basics in mind, you can come up with choices that will serve the business well for a long time.


What Function Will the Vehicles Serve?

Before setting out to look at any vehicles, take the time to decide how they will fit in with your business model. Many business owners find that they need two or three different kinds of vehicles to cover all the practical applications.

For example, perhaps you are thinking of investing in a great-looking sedan. Its function will be mainly to transport important guests to and from the airport. With this vehicle choice, the emphasis is on presenting a professional appearance, a sense of style, and providing your guests with a comfortable ride. If you are searching for options to transport things rather than people. The emphasis should be on space and compactness. Make sure all your materials you will transport will fit inside.


Lease or Buy?

Another point to ponder is whether leasing versus buying would provide access to the kinds of vehicle you want. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Depending on the type of business you operate and the intended purpose of each vehicle, you could find that leasing one type while buying another works best.


Maybe purchasing utility vehicles makes a lot of sense since they will see quite a bit of use. Leasing might still be the right option for a company car that will only be used for things like trips to and from the airport, taking clients out to dinner, and similar tasks.


Reliable Service

No matter what type of vehicles you have in mind, they must be well built. Even if you are leasing, go for makes and models that have an established reputation for requiring little more than basic maintenance. Knowing the vehicle is always ready to go when you are ensures you and your team can take care of errands and other tasks on time. That will mean a lot in terms of maintaining positive rapport with your customers.


Safety Matters

The range of safety features included on any vehicle make and model must also be taken into consideration. As any truck accident attorney can tell you, having the right combination of safety features is just as important as proper maintenance. The right features minimize the potential for being involved in an accident. At the least, those safety measures will increase the odds of your employees making it through an accident without serious injuries.


Sit down today and make a list of what you need in the way of company vehicles. Consider your options carefully before making any selections. The right choices will save the company money over the next few years and ensure the right type of transportation is always on hand.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How POS Systems Are Hacked

5/25/2018

Most people in the modern world have been in the vicinity of a Point of Sale System -- or a simple cash register. In a world dominated by technology and transactions, there are not very many places where a business is run without one. They keep track of how much money is in the register, calculate totals, and can sometimes record personal information such as credit card numbers. However, companies with a P.O.S. system from the smallest corner store to the largest franchise in the world are susceptible to hackers who have the skill to retrieve private information.


RATs

Using Remote Administration Tools, a hacker has the ability to take control of a server computer from anywhere in the world. The only information they need is the type of software that the target company uses to monitor their cash registers, the IP address of the main/server computer at the target location, and a password. Usually, the passwords that are used are not very complex, and may even have it written down somewhere. That means success for anyone pursuing to hack the company. From there, they can place viruses into the network, replace sensitive information, or steal valuable assets.


Keyloggers

Sometimes, hackers are not people outside of the system attempting to hack into a company. They are usually people who have access to the main computer in a grocery store, restaurant, or business, and can simply insert a small external drive to any of the computers at will. They have the ability to upload what is known as a Keylogger to the computer their boss uses, leave it there for a few days, and take it back once it collects information. Basically, it will record keystrokes -- every click on the keyboard. Just by using the tool of time, the password of the company will be recorded onto the device, and the hacker can use them to do anything they want to their cash registers.


There will always be ways of exploiting the system to retrieve data, avoid paying fees, or to steal from companies without them knowing who committed the crime. Companies all across the globe pay over thousands of dollars each year to prevent hackers from circumventing their securities, and some hold competitions with cash prizes to see if anyone can actually make their way past their security. The best way to prevent these attacks is to be aware of their methods and to utilize security software that is kept current. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

5 Ways to Grow Yourself as a Leader

6/2/2018

Becoming a business leader is not about having a title. In fact, many times the ​​true leader in any group is not always the person with the most senior rank, title or position. Not only is it never too early to start developing good leadership skills, it's also never too late. Some of the most established business leaders are still learning and growing on a daily basis. Here are 5 ways to grow yourself as a business leader.


1. Never stop learning

Whether you call it sharpening the saw or lifetime learning, the best leaders never stop pursuing their own personal education. There are very few great leaders that are not conversant on a wide variety of topics and educated in a broad number of fields. This may take the form of traditional or online formal education, or nanodegrees focused on specific skills. In addition to developing skills that can propel your business forward, actively learn about yourself as a person and as a leader so you can better play from your own strengths. Find a coach and a mentor who can give you honest feedback about your personality and leadership style.


2. Take the jobs that no one wants

As Simon Sinek says in his book Leaders Eat Last, “It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius.” Too often, people think one of the perks of being boss is being able to take on the most cherry assignments and delegate all the less desirable tasks to their underlings. You don't have to always save all the worst jobs for yourself, but assigning plum tasks to your subordinates and taking less desirable tasks for yourself on a regular basis will gain you a far more loyal following. Lead by example, and be a servant leader.


3. Understand every job in the company

Too often, businesses are compartmentalized with one department having no idea what the other one does. This makes it very hard to function efficiently as one unit. As a leader, it's important to have a firm grasp on what the job of every individual in the company is, how that job contributes to the overarching task of each individual department and how each department contributes to the company as a whole. If possible, learn which personality profiles correspond to success in different roles, so you can better profile candidates for those jobs. Of course, you will only be able to answer that question if your business has a unified mission at the core of its operations.


4. Put People First

Leaders don't lead companies they lead people. Meeting the needs of employees can often seem to cut into profits. Conversely, however, employees that are well compensated often far outperform employees that are under compensated. Treat your employees well and they will treat your customers well. Nothing is better for business than happy customers.


5. Stay Humble

Most businesses are hierarchical and while this does have some advantages, it can also lead to some people feeling they are better than others, or don’t need to listen to others, because they have a better title or higher rank or position. Always keep a firm grasp on the fact that being above someone in the organizational pyramid doesn't actually make you a better or more important person than them. As you rise through the ranks, your intellect should swell but not your head. 


Like the old saying goes, if you think you're a leader but no one is following you, you're just out taking a walk. Anyone can give you a title - including yourself - but only the people you seek to lead can actually make you a leader. Sitting behind a desk issuing commands doesn't make you a leader. Setting an example, growing yourself, and growing your team are the essential elements that truly makes you a leader.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How to Hire the Best Employees for Your Startup

6/5/2018

As far as business management is concerned, learning to hire the right people for your startup is one of the most important things you need to do. Unless you plan to run your business alone, the people you hire will play a major role in the results that you can expect from your effort. As long as you hire the right people for the job, your team will take your business to the next level, and you will know that you are moving along the right path. The following information will show you how to get started with confidence and peace of mind.


Write Detailed Job Descriptions

When people launch startups and start looking for employees, they often make the mistake of not writing detailed job descriptions to let potential employees know the job expectations. Falling into this trap will make the hiring process more difficult than it needs to be, because you will have to let people go and repeat the process until you find a good fit for the position. To avoid that situation, list the requirements and nature of each position as clearly as possible.


Consider the Whole Person

Make sure that the people you hire fit in with those already on the staff or team. One way you can do this is by adding a personality assessment, like the DiSC profile, to your hiring process. It could be part of the application or you could place it as one of the final steps of the interview process, to weed out the last few candidates who don’t quite fit. StrengthsFinder is another useful assessment that finds the strengths of your applicants or employees. Knowing this can help you place your employees to benefit your business the most. By using these types of skills and personality assessments, you can build strong, cohesive teams.


Leverage Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are great resources for those looking to bring the right people on board. You can create ads, targeting them to people employed and/or looking for jobs in your business’ industry. You can also reach out through your network of contacts (like on LinkedIn) to look for potential recruits.


Sell the Position

If you want people interested in your positions, it's important that you highlight the main benefits people will enjoy by joining your team, like paid time off, employer contribution matches to health savings accounts, relaxed dress code, or the culture of the team/company. Take some time to consider what you have to offer to your employees and pitch those attributes to potential applicants. This will entice more candidates to fill out applications.


Encourage Candidates to Ask Questions

Finding people who will enjoy working for your startup and stick around for years is one of the best ways to succeed. Unfortunately, not every entrepreneur knows how to find that drive in their applicants. When you interview candidates, don't just ask them questions about their qualifications and why they want to work for you. Those things are important, but by inviting your candidates to ask questions about the position and the company, you’ll learn how interested they are in the position and can assess your candidates better.


Final Thoughts

Hiring people who will contribute to your bottom line and want to put in their best effort is not always easy, but following a proven plan will improve your odds of success. Finding the perfect candidates is the foundation on which you will grow your startup and optimize your profitability.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

5 Options for a Struggling Business

6/6/2018

Many businesses run into rough patches, but some financial issues are easier to overcome than others. There are various resources and options available for business owners to use when they run into money issues. Because each situation is unique, the business owner should carefully analyze the situation to determine the best course of action.


Apply for a Loan

If your financial situation is related to several unexpected expenses that have piled up or to an unexpected slow period, applying for a small business loan may make sense. However, you should reasonably be able to see the slow period improving before you apply for a loan. Keep in mind that a loan requires you to make regular monthly payments, and this means that your total expenditures will increase for several months or years.


Get an Advance on Accounts Receivable

If your business is struggling financially because of slow payments from customers, getting an advance on accounts receivable is a good option to consider. You will need to pay a fee for this benefit, but you can receive funds necessary to pay your own bills in a timely manner. Because this issue likely will continue, you may need to find a way to improve your billing system. Improving your billing system will prevent you from relying on expensive accounts receivable loans.


Take on a Partner

There are some instances when your business is struggling because of your lack of expertise in an area or your inability to handle all of the tasks that need to be done. In some situations, it makes sense to take on a partner or investor. The partner may provide funding to smooth your financial situation as well as knowledge or assistance in specific areas.


File for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is a worst-case option for your business to consider. It will clear your debt balances and give you a clean slate to start with. Some businesses will collapse after bankruptcy, but others may thrive. It is wise to speak with a bankruptcy attorney about the pros and cons of this option in detail before making a decision. When determining the fate of your business, consider if wiping debts away will resolve your issues or if you are operating in the red.


Alternative Options

Other options include reviewing expenses to trim the fat, reviewing operations to improve efficiency (time is money), selling off company property, discount prices/ run a sale to generate short term revenue and to increase brand awareness. These are just a few options that are much less drastic than bankruptcy.


Business owners have many financial options to consider when profits take a nosedive. As you can see, some of these solutions are more well-suited for specific situations and events than other. Take time to analyze the cause of your financial challenges, and determine if the issue likely will continue before you decide how to proceed. It might even be in your best interest to hire a business coach to help you figure out the best way to resolve the situation. They provide focus, perspective and the skills necessary to make your business practices more effective.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

4 Tips to Move Up in Your Field

6/12/2018

There is no doubt that there are certain life lessons that stand us in good stead in every area of our lives. Many times, the qualities that help us maintain stellar business relationships can also help us in our personal lives and vice-versa. In that same way, no matter what field you are in, there are certain habits, disciplines and practices that will almost universally help you succeed. 

Here are 3 tips to help you excel in your given field, no matter what it is:


1. Work hard

No matter how many times our parents, mentors and business gurus emphasize this concept, it still seems to be somewhat revolutionary. Hard work will get you farther in life than talent, privilege, education or any of the other tools or trappings of success. Working hard doesn't have to mean putting in 80 hour weeks or sacrificing your health for the sake of work, but it does mean applying yourself consistently day in, day out, year after year.


2. Play fair

While life may present many opportunities to move up the ladder more quickly by cutting corners, it is almost never a good idea to do so. Those that do often reach the top to find they are standing on a very weak and unsteady foundation. The fall from grace is a long and painful one, make sure as you climb the ladder of success, you are building a firm foundation beneath you as you go.


3. Keep learning

Many people live under the misguided assumption that once they graduate a certain level of schooling, they will know everything they need to know to make it through the rest of their life. In reality, the world around us is constantly changing as new advancements and new discoveries are made. To keep pace, we must keep up - which involves constant learning, study and exploration. Working adults, especially nurses and other careers that involve long hours, it can be hard to imagine returning to school. That’s why schools have begun offering online courses. For example, online courses give anyone wishing to continue their education, the ability to work while pursuing a higher degree.


4. Develop A Relationship With A Mentor

In the employment world, there is the saying that ‘it’s all about who you know.” Developing a relationship with someone who has experience and knowledge that you can apply to your job and career is extremely important. It is a way to establish trust, confidence and work ethic as well as gain a reference. Having a relationship with a mentor is not only beneficial to the employee. It is also beneficial to the employer and the person doing the mentoring.


Success in any area of life is generally dependent on a few key principles. Generally, adherence to these principles will bring about success no matter where you apply them. By working hard, playing fair and always continuing to learn, you will inevitably end up at the top of your field and the top of your game.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How to Communicate More Effectively in Your Business

6/22/2018

Communication is broadly defined as the act of passing information from one party to another. Successful businesses invest heavily in improving communication practices and tools within their companies. An effective business communication system helps in marketing the products and services of the company as well as improving interoffice relationships, projects, and time. Having a proper connection will make more sales and build more confidence in your business. Nowadays, many companies are using advanced technology to communicate with their global customers within a few minutes. Here are some ways to improve communication within your organization.


Communication Plan

You need a solid communication plan in place from the beginning. A well- structured plan will always strengthen your business culture. The program should include the company’s mission, vision, and objectives. A business with a purpose and a vision will boost the client’s confidence. If possible, integrate your own project management dashboards or taking with activity logs, forums, or discussion boards as well. This makes it easy for employees to collaborate and see all their work and communicate about it in one place.


Understand Your Audience

You should have a clear understanding of all your employees’ roles and their roles within the company’s hierarchy. Your employees in turn, should know who to go to for help, where to report projects, and more. This will help you in preparing the right speech or information for the right people. Good and open communication enables the employees to respect the company’s management.

Respect between the administration and the employees facilitate a proper understanding of the company and increases productivity. As Strategic Alignment says, "In order to stay competitive, organizations must devise viable, creative strategies for business success and growth. And in order for corporate strategy to do its job, an organization must maintain strategic alignment throughout every level of the business."


Choose the Best Communication Channels

Choosing the best channel to pass your information through is a vital part of communication that leads to more success. It is advisable to consider various communication channels and weigh out the advantages and disadvantages before choosing the best one for your business. There are numerous channels which are used today when communicating with employees or clients. Emails are one of the biggest tools used when addressing large audiences. Nowadays, businesses owners are using social media platforms to communicate with employees and potential clients. Many people prefer using social media platforms because they offer an interactive communication medium between the speaker and the audience.


Use Positive Language

Business people who use positive language when communicating with their clients or employees are most likely to achieve positive outcomes. Positive language encourages people and offers more alternatives and solutions to business challenges that crop up. Always use a positive language when negotiating with suppliers and other stakeholders. Additionally, it is advisable to have an effective meeting strategy, which motivates the stakeholders and makes them feel safe when doing business with your company.

A speaker should apply the best possible style of communication when addressing an audience. Use a confident voice, and simply and clearly state your position. Effective communication will help your business to grow, reaching many potential customers across the globe or even just the office. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Security Considerations for Small Business Owners

6/25/2018

If you are a small business owner, you know painfully well just how every dollar counts. When you lose money or have to spend it to repair damage or replace merchandise, it can wreak havoc on your budget and your prospects for future growth. One thing you can do to safeguard at least one aspect of your business’ future (and budget) is to make sure you’re protecting what you have.


Smoke and Fire

Some of the biggest threats to businesses are not thieves, but natural elements. A coffee pot left on too long or a fault in your wiring can cause a fire. A broken gas pipe can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Investing in the proper insurance and early warning alarms provide a huge protection for your business and make it easier to recoup your losses in the case of an accident.


Video Monitoring

When it comes to protecting your business, security cameras are a lifesaver. They allow you to view what is happening remotely at any time. With modern systems, all you need to do is login and view it remotely from your phone, tablet, or computer. You can also customize your security monitoring to include audible and visual elements that will discourage criminals or other unauthorized activity.


Alarms

You can't be in your office or store all the time, even if you are working a lot of hours. When you are gone, you need to know that your business will be protected. An alarm serves two purposes: scaring off potential threats and bringing the police to your location if anything is set off. This lets you sleep with peace of mind that someone is always watching your business, even if you are not there. It can also help you identify lost items and track them down via police reports.


Security Guard

This isn’t something that everyone will need, but if you have a history of break-ins, your business is located in a dangerous area, or your merchandise is particularly valuable, this may be a good investment. A lot of criminals will return to the scene of a previous crime to try again, so using a security guard to beef up your system can be a good way to protect your investments.


Running a business is expensive. With so many companies popping up online, they often have less overhead than the standard small business. If you are going to compete, you have to find a way to protect your assets and minimize costs. The security considerations above can help you stay above the dangers of modern criminals and continue to put your business in the best position to succeed. If you have any other concerns about running your business, check out our coaching services.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Presentation Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

7/5/2018

Throughout your life, you'll likely have to a give a few presentations. Considering that, most entrepreneurs need to give presentations to a wide variety of individuals. Whether you're seeking funding or working to land a new partnership, it's essential to have the right presentation skills. With that in mind, here are four presentation skills every entrepreneur needs.


Looking the Part is Incredibly Important

Forbes reports that someone has only seven seconds to make an excellent first impression. If you walk into give a presentation looking unkempt, you're likely to make a wrong impression on your audience. Instead, consider taking a little time for self-improvement. This means grooming yourself properly, a fresh shave and haircut will look great. Dress nicely for your presentation which involves wearing a nice shirt, tie, slacks, and freshly shined shoes and a charming smile. Never underestimate the role appearance plays in business presentations, to up your charm spend time on your grooming and ask your dentist about teeth whitening and other cosmetic services.


Preparation is an Important Factor

After looking the part of a professional, it's time to prepare for your presentation. This doesn't mean having to memorize every line. That being said, you also don't want to spend the whole time mindlessly reading off of your presentation screen. Considering that, remember the key points of your presentation and look at the screen when you need to.


Show Plenty of Enthusiasm

Imagine the teachers you spent time listening to throughout school. It's was likely tough to remember much from teachers with no enthusiasm. On the other hand, you likely had a much easier time following along with lesson plans given by an enthusiastic teacher. With that in mind, you'll want to bring this same enthusiasm with you to your presentation. His feeling is often contagious which means showing enthusiasm will likely make your audience feel the same way.


Knowing How to Handle Questions Properly

It's courteous to allow your audience to ask questions about your presentation. Not answering questions might leave your audience feeling confused. You'll want to ensure your audience knows whether to ask questions as they arise or if they'll need to wait until your presentation is over. This helps to prevent you being thrown off by questions coming up during your presentation. But when answering questions in front of everyone, you can show your confidence and knowledge, so long as you do it right. That means addressing the audience and not just the person talking and doing so fairly and gracefully.


To summarize, there are several presentation skills that every entrepreneur should have. Utilizing these skills to your advantage can significantly improve how you conduct presentations. Whether pitching ideas to a business or new customer, honing these skills will definitely help ensure you're winning over your audience and help achieve your goals

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

4 Most Commonly Outsourced Parts of a Business

7/16/2018

More business owners are starting to see the benefits of outsourcing. It’s no longer necessary — or even efficient — to do everything that their business needs to function in-house. Here are 4 commonly outsourced parts of a business.


Call Center

Call centers have evolved over the past few years. Call centers exist as a cheap alternative for customer service, providing technical support, accepting orders, selling products, and more. But most business owners outsource customer service because it saves money.


Lower operating costs is the goal of most businesses. And that’s why more than 50 percent of businesses now outsource customer service. The cost of training employees, paying managers, buying supplies, hiring staff, and payroll expenses far outweigh the cost of using a call center. It’s estimated that a company can lower their expenses by at least 50% when outsourcing customer service.


Payroll

Payroll involves tax laws and regulations that confuse most people. But business owners don’t have time to study tax law. That’s why more are starting to outsource payroll. One simple mistake in this area could cause anything from a dreaded tax audit to your business being fined thousands of dollars.


Outsourcing payroll to a reputable service helps avoid costly mistakes. Then there’s the savings of not paying a full-time accountant.


Marketing

Marketing is more complicated than ever. Competition is fierce, and it’s more difficult to get a business noticed. That’s why some business owners outsource marketing to specialized marketing firms. These firms have expert employees whose capabilities help them perform more efficiently.


Marketing firms also know how to tap into several marketing strategies. Some businesses only know to focus on printed advertisements. And then newer businesses might focus only on inexpensive online strategies. But specialized marketing firms know how to develop a well-rounded marketing strategy.


Website Development

Every business needs a professional website, and website design continues to grow and change on a daily basis. There’s much more to building a successful website than learning a bit of code and throwing something together.


Web development firms have experts who offer tremendous expertise and experience. Businesses get better results than they would from someone who isn’t an expert.


Outsourcing Strengthens Business

These are only a few types of tasks that businesses outsource. Look at how your business is doing. You might want to outsource any tasks with which the business is struggling. If it makes sense cost-wise, then you might want to consider the benefits of outsourcing.


Are you ready to change the world? Contact EPIC Mission today!

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How to Use Business Intelligence to Grow Your Business

7/20/2018

When it comes to growing your business, you can strategically make decisions and base marketing tactics off of business intelligence. You can collect and analyze information to better focus your marketing strategies or to bolster the productivity of individuals in your workplace.


The number one goal of companies using data analytics is to improve customer relationships. Use business intelligence today to help your business flourish more than it has ever been able to before.


Know Your Audience

Collecting analytics about your business can help you better understand your audience. This can be collected by surveying who is visiting your various social media accounts for example. Take advantage of the markets that are visiting your business the most.


Create a Better Plan

When you collect business intelligence on your audience, you can target the right demographic to focus your business on. With this information, you will be able to craft a better and more successful business model. Use the data you have collected to be able to better predict patterns that will occur throughout your business. This strategic planning can help your business flourish more than ever.


Strategic Marketing

When you have a better idea of your audience, you can design ad campaigns and marketing materials that are directed to cater to the needs of this specific demographic. For example, if you find that your audience is mainly composed of millennials, you would want to focus your tactics more on Instagram because that is where this age group spends their time. On the other hand, if you wanted to target seniors, you would probably want to focus your marketing efforts on Facebook. This data will help your marketing campaigns be more effective because you will be able to tailor these ideas to a specific audience.


Plan Your Expansion

If you're able to better know your audience, you will be able to target the best areas to expand your business. In the event you want to expand your business to a new location, you can use the data you have collected to target the most suitable area possible.


Increase Productivity and Improve Performance

Use business intelligence and data analytics to maximize the productivity of your staff and employees. If there’s a hiccup in your company's workflow, you can target this area and improve. Don't surrender to mediocrity. Take this information you learn about your business and adjust accordingly.

Want more details about business analytics and marketing strategies for your business? We provide coaching services for entrepreneurs and businesses on this very topic. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!


References:

IBM | 5 ways business analytics can grow your business

RizePoint | 5 Ways Business Intelligence Helps Companies of All Sizes

Xactly | Seven Ways to Manage Employee Performance with Business Intelligence

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Everything You Need To Know About SEO to Kick Off Your Business

7/23/2018

Suddenly, from the moment a business owner decides to create an online presence, pressure mounts because of so many questions about “how” flood the minds of those involved. That’s understandable due to misinformation about a website’s real purpose, the structure, and most importantly, how to attract visitors. Soon, you’ll see that creating an online presence is a process that when done correctly will play a large part in helping your business reach its goals without breaking your budget in the meantime.


Content Creation

From an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective, writing content that is engaging and compelling always outperforms other types of advertising for several reasons. It has long been said that proper SEO can be your answer to gaining more organic traffic to your website. The reason for this has its roots in how search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo) work and how they rank your website based on its content and ultimately, its popularity.


SEO may seem straightforward and easy to handle at first read. However, the rules of SEO have changed dramatically over the past several years. Google, for example, is the king of search and if your website stands any chance of gaining traction with the search engines, you must learn and follow the rules. The rules are not there to hinder your progress.


When you understand why Google puts rules in place for SEO, it’s because they want to make sure their search experience is easy, accurate, and quick. When your content meets their requirements, they reward your website with much-improved search engine rankings, and in turn, more exposure and profit for you!


Images Make Your Content More Interesting

Content includes the written word as well as relevant images. Pictures speak a thousand words, and the content on your website is no different. Images have their own SEO requirements and ignoring them can have an adverse effect on the overall ranking of your site. For example, a “heavy” or large image will affect your site speed, and if you have several heavy images on your site, you run the risk of slow-loading pages, which decreases your overall site speed. This is a ranking factor used by Google.


For images, always stay within recommended file sizes which is around 60 kilobytes. The trick is to keep the file sizes as low as possible and while keeping the image crisp and clear. Optimizing images is a hot topic, and many products exist for this specific purpose. Image editing software also does a great job with optimization.


The search engines look other aspects of your image content in addition to the size of your images. The “alt” tag for your images must be added for every picture. The alt tag is a text description of the image that is readily available, so anyone can read the description without seeing the picture. This might occur on a slow connection or in a browser that shows only image placeholders to increase browsing speed.


The Importance of Keywords

Bear in mind that the search engines do not consider the keyword meta tag as relevant and stopped this practice several years ago. However, this does not mean that keywords lost their importance. In reality, the opposite is true. The search engines use keywords entered by visitors and deliver their best listing of the sites with the most relevance to the search keyword.


Several years ago, a simple one-word keyword sufficed for most searches, and a website could rapidly climb the search engine ranks by using the same one-word keyword dozens of times in a single article. Today, this is called keyword stuffing, and any website caught doing this will be relegated to obscurity in the SERPS (search engine results pages) or de-indexed from the search engine’s database. As the search engines matured and as people started using detailed search strings, one-word keywords used in SEO didn’t produce specific results, and a website’s ranking dropped as a result.


The current practice for keyword use is in the use of long-tail keywords. In other words, a phrase that contains the keyword that is around five words or more tend to rank much better and also adds value to the content because it becomes more relevant to the reader.


Mention your keyword once in your article and use long-tail keywords sparingly throughout. Also, use a variation of the keyword in your compelling title. There’s no need to use the exact keyword here, as long as you use the long-tail keyword phrases that give the search engines (and your reader) a good idea of what the article is about.


Quality Content is King

As you develop your SEO strategy, you will no doubt hear the phrase over and over that Content is King! We know the search engines rely on great content to fill their SERPS. However, through all your efforts to produce the best website on the Internet, one thing to always keep in mind is your reader.


Your reader is by far the most essential part of SEO, more than any other factor in existence. If you do not have readers, you won’t have an online presence. The number one rule in SEO is to always create content with your reader in mind.

Your content should always answer a question or address a concern. People constantly search for an answer to a question, or to get advice. This is where your content comes in. Keep your content to the point and make it interesting. If you can hold your reader’s attention and answer their question, you will have a gained a loyal reader!


Once you have a loyal following of dedicated readers, Google will notice and reward your site with higher rankings. From there, the sky's the limit!


Go Social!

Never underestimate the power of social media! Once your site is up and running, and you are adding content regularly, reach out to your followers and offer them a chance to see your masterpiece! Yes, the search engines monitor your website’s social media footprint. It is another way they determine your popularity, and in turn, your ranking.


Conclusion

The points reviewed here should get you started in the right direction with SEO and starting your new business. As with anything worthwhile, the effort always pays dividends. Keep generating content that your readers love and always provide them with fresh and relevant information.


Do you need some help in generating content or managing your social media accounts? Not to worry! EPIC Mission has you covered. Contact us today!


Resources:

https://www.jeffbullas.com/5-extremely-actionable-tips-improve-content-writing/

http://blog.bearfoxmarketing.com/10-seo-mistakes-you-may-not-realize-youre-making

http://www.besocial.media/uncategorized/hello-world/

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/08/14/increase-traffic-to-my-website

http://blog.webcertain.com/want-better-user-engagement-the-importance-of-images-in-content-marketing/04/02/2014/ 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Maximize Your Business Efficiency with These Tools

7/30/2018

Regardless of what your business does, having the right tools can help you finish a job faster and better. This especially is true in small business where the deadlines are shorter, the clients demanding, and the pace breakneck. The following tools will give you the power to automate tasks, manage time, and satisfy customers without breaking the bank. Use these as you begin setting up your small business for more success.


QuickBooks

Many busy small businesses regard having bookkeeping and accounting as a luxury. After all, having time and staff stretched thin selling and servicing customers, record-keeping can often fall through the cracks. QuickBooks can help, especially now that it’s a cloud-based app.


QuickBooks’ mobile apps make selling easy either in your store, online, or at remote locations. Meanwhile, integration with most financial accounts and popular business apps helps you keep immaculate records without pulling you away from your other management tasks.


Womply

Small brick-and-mortar businesses face a vast array of daily challenges. These issues range from taxation and regulation, to earning enough revenue to help business owners prepare for retirement. Womply comes from a new generation of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that are designed from a business' perspective. As Toby Scammell points out, customer spending habits don’t always follow conventional wisdom, so using Womply to track their spending habits and establish patterns can put you ahead of the curve.


Slack

In a way, you could look at Slack as a social media platform for your business. The software brings innovative and powerful collaboration tools into your workplace, giving you incredible flexibility to coordinate the activities of individuals and groups.


Slack is an acronym that stands for “Searchable Lock of All Conversation and Knowledge,” alluding to its most valuable potential: Collecting data from your company’s daily operations and storing that knowledge in a way that provides a foundation for long-term growth.


Google

Google is a part of everything you do, but the business capabilities that you can leverage can make a huge difference. In addition to having your business email run through Google, you can also claim your business listing, manage reviews, use larger amounts of storage, and use hangouts to make face-to-face business calls. Google can provide almost anything that your business needs. There’s a reason that most businesses use at least some of Google’s services.


You can dramatically improve the efficiency of your business with the above-mentioned tools. As you put them to use, stay alert for other applications that you can use to make your business more profitable.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Why Businesses Need to Spend Time Managing Their Online Image

8/3/2018

Whether you are new to the business scene or you are a veteran, you know that your reputation is everything. It doesn't matter if you are a tiny entrepreneur or you have companies around the world. How consumers, fellow businesses, and your staff view, your company will have a significant impact on your success. The more positive the impression you have made, the more likely that you are going to flourish. When everyone is talking about you, you want them to be saying something good. Otherwise, negativity could put you out of business. You work hard to make sure your reputation is reliable in your daily dealings with others. Don't forget to pay attention to your online image.


This is the Age of Digital Technology

You can't escape the internet in today's world. Even if you have somehow avoided building your own website for your business, make no mistake (we really recommend that you do so though). Feedback about your company is out there on the web. Testing out this statement is easy. Type in your company's name on a google search. You're going to pop up in some way. Try looking for reviews next. Don't be surprised when you find something out there. Your primary concern should be to ask yourself if people are saying something positive about you.


Google Reviews

Google reviews share testimonials about your product or service with others, and thus the credibility of a business depends heavily on google reviews. If they are positive, they'll draw more consumers your way. If they are negative, they could do the opposite. However, you can use any negative reviews as part of a learning curve for your business. See where you can improve. Listen to feedback and make changes. On the flip side, see what you are doing right. Continue on that path. If it isn't broken, you don't need to fix it. At the same time, you might be able to step it up a notch. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your business will move in the search rankings. People will find you first when the perform a google search. If you move to the top of the list, you are more likely to make a sale.


Tap Into Social Media

Whether you like it or not, most of your consumers are utilizing social media and are making business decisions thanks to it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are only a few examples of what is out there. Your business can flourish if you tap into social media. That means getting regular posts about your business out there. When you have a promotion, you need to post it. When someone likes your company, thank them. If you get positive feedback, be sure to respond. You can also respond to negative criticism by telling consumers you are dedicated to improving. Find out if there is something you can do to change a consumer's mind or improve their experience. You might offer a refund or a gift card. If you don't have time to manage your presence on social media or you aren't comfortable with it, find an employee that is a wizard with social media platforms. You can build a following that will continue to grow as your good reputation spreads.


Pay Attention to What is Working

Look at other examples in the business world. What is working for others? What makes their company stand out online? You can do the same with your business to thrive. You don't have to copy, but you can take a model of excellence and aspire to do the same. This can also be a great opportunity to consult and review performance and future planning.


Remember How Easy it is to Go Viral

Anything that goes online can spread faster than you can catch your breath. If you are not careful about what is on the web, you could sabotage your business. You want to stress the positive. You need customers to do the same. Nip anything in the bud that creates a poor impression. Build up positive reviews. Give people a reason to check out what you have to offer. Consider doing giveaways for those who are saying something positive about you.


The bottom line is you need to have a positive image no matter whether it is in person or online. In the same way that you work on building good relationships with your clients, employees, and fellow businesses on an everyday basis, don't neglect your online image. You want a reputation that shines wherever you go. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

Get More Done in Less Time with Business Automation

8/6/2018

Automation in business is not only needed to run an assembly line. Office workers, restaurant managers, delivery drivers, and other professionals all benefit from using automated tools. It only takes making a few small investments to see major improvements. Learn how to increase the level of automation your business uses to save time and increase productivity.


Task Management Software

Track every minor and major assignment you task to your employees. Use task management software to create individual tasks with specific details like the start date, budget, and estimated completion date. Create projects that consist of the number of tasks you need for completion. Task management software helps you to track the progress of important projects and maintains worker productivity.

You can also use similar management software for more inner-office organization. Use tools to set priorities, plan meetings, chat quickly about projects, and more. These programs give you more flexibility to adjust your business, assignments, and tasks.


IT Management Software

A special area in business is IT asset management, which focuses on managing the equipment needed to run an IT department. Every business owner must invest in at least one computer and one software program.


IT management software helps you to manage the purchase and daily use of business inventory, computers, hardware, and software. According to Ivanti, these programs are built to discover and inventory IT assets, connect with vendors to monitor new purchases, and convert license data into an accurate license position.


Sales Software

Help your sales team by recommending the right software tools. If your salespeople aren’t focused on the people who actually want your services, then they aren’t going to close a deal, no matter how good they are. Even search engines are focusing more on people and less on keywords, so why not do the same with your sales?


Recommend lead tracking software that allows you to track the progress of working with each lead. Record the name, the number of follow-ups, and the results after making each contact. Using this tool, avoid the uninterested people and focus only on the ones who are genuinely interested in your services.


Self-Service Technology

More stores today are replacing new hires with machines that can do the same work. Large chain stores have self-checkout lines where customers scan and pay for items using touchscreen computer kiosks. Some design companies have online tools they use to make customizable designs. Overall, the use of self service technology helps to streamline the speed and efficiency of your business operations. Your buyers will become more independent and avoid having to wait or go around red tape.


The Bottom Line

Automated software and equipment are designed to improve the overall efficiency of your business, which means that business automation is rapidly becoming more of a requirement than an option.

With business automation, your employees reduce the amount of time they spend on repetitive administrative tasks—like filing papers, maintaining records, and taking orders from customers. Now, they have more time to focus on work that matters—work that will contribute to the growth of your company.


Looking for more ways to empower your business? Reach out to EPIC Mission to schedule a consultation. 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How You Can Solve Communication Issues with Consumers

8/13/2018

In today's increasingly digital world, consumers expect more communication than ever before. And if you don't have enough quality communication, then your customer service reputation could suffer. Don't let this happen. Here's how you can reach out and communicate with customers:


Appointments

From doctor's offices to dentists to salons, customers need appointment reminders. This is truer now than ever before. With the average person being so distracted with so many things between work, family, and social media, they are bound to forget. Even if they remember to put in their calendar, who do you know that checks their calendar every day? Software can issue appointment reminders based on customer preferences, doctor's needs, and more.


Social Media

There is no such thing as a good PR crisis. However, the only way you can make it go worse is by not putting out a response as soon as possible. When you find yourself facing bad press, you need to leverage social tools to get your version of the narrative out to detract away from the negatives and redirect the conversation when communicating with customers.


Updates

People don't often mind if their item arrives late, if the event is scheduled for another time, or if you have to cancel your meeting. However, what they hate is when they are not informed in a timely manner. That is why software that automatically sends updates helps you gain a better customer experience reputation. They can put up with the inconvenience if they at least feel that you are going to keep them in the loop.


Specials, Deals, and Promotions

If you are in the food industry especially, this can be a huge boost to your revenue. Using text or social media to communicate when you're offering special deals can be a game changer. It lets you get right in front of them when you choose, rather than relying on luck with billboards or traditional TV ads. Try tracking each text or social ad with a unique promo code so you can see which campaign is getting you the most traction and results in terms of sales.


If you want to have happy customers, then start with making sure you are communicating at the highest level possible. Using the right communication channels helps you save money, save time, and do things more efficiently for more profit left over on your balance sheet. So, use the tips above and enjoy happier customers and peace of mind.


For even more tips about how you can take better control of your business, talk to us about our coaching services

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

5 Helpful Hints for Reintegrating After Deployment

8/30/2018

The civilian world is incredibly different than the military world. Coming home after being deployed can be a struggle for even the toughest soldier. When you or your loved one comes home, it's best to have a plan for assimilation. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make the transition an easy one. Here are tips for helping the soldier in your life when they come home.


Utilize services available

There are many resources for people who come home from military service. They can introduce the soldier to people who understand their unique experience. That gives them friends and support to assist in the transition. Some of the services can even help someone find a house or a job.


Start a business

Being in the military can teach someone many skills, including accountability and a strong work ethic- two very important qualities to have when you are starting a new business. Starting a new business also gives soldiers something to keep them busy when they come home. Keeping busy will help them assimilate into their new life.


Connect with family

Being away can create a separation between a soldier and their family. It's hard to stay connected overseas. Go on outings with family to reconnect. Family can remind a soldier of the life they used to have and provide normalcy that they haven't known in a long time.


Focus on self-care

When a soldier comes back home, they may neglect themselves. Be sure to continue your workout routine like normal and tend to the things that you weren't able to take care of while overseas. Take care of that problem with your car, cancel or renew magazine and other subscriptions, and go through your budget.


Create a home for yourself

When a soldier comes back from deployment, they may not have a feeling of security and stability. Finding and purchasing a stable home is critical for anyone who wants to get readjusted to civilian life. Thankfully there are many loans particularly for veterans given through the the Department of Veteran Affairs (usually called the VA). It’s essential to personalize the new space with pictures and suitable decorations. It's important to keep up on the cleaning. Going through your things, cleaning out your closet and finding things to get rid of will help you feel better about starting a new chapter of your life.


Coming home can be difficult for a soldier, but there are steps you can take to make the process simpler. Don't be afraid to take time for yourself and give yourself time to adjust. Remember that your friends and family can help you!


If you need coaching for how to not only survive civilian life, but to thrive in it, then be sure to check out our coaching services. Not only that, but if you’re looking to go into your own business venture, our consultants can help you get your feet on the right path!


Resources:

Reintegrate into Civilian Life | ElPasoMoves.com

VA home loans | LowVARates.com

Transitioning from Service | MaketheConnection.net

Resources | Disabled American Veterans 

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

5 Management Mistakes New Leaders Make

9/8/2018

It makes sense. After all, you were chosen for your ability to improve the company's business. So, you begin your management job with passion and dedication and start making changes to improve the bottom line.


Unfortunately, this is where many managers shoot themselves in the foot by committing one of the following 5 new leader pitfalls, failing to recognize the realities of any organization.


Flying Blind

Managers, in general, are hired for their training and experience in managing people and projects. However, unless they were elevated, most new managers do not know the specific jobs of their employees. Not knowing that information will block their ability to effectively plan their resources or train new employees.


Discarding What Works

The temptation of many new leaders is to throw the baby out with the bathwater by changing everything. However, even failing organizations have elements of them that work rather well. Sometimes, attention was just paid to one element while other elements deteriorated. The wise manager starts by learning what works, before they cut away what doesn't.


Dividing Instead of Unifying

When a new manager enters the workplace, they usually do not know the weak spots. So, they often divide the employees to determine those weak spots. However, division only hinders true progress. For example, cubicles often make team members feel confined and unimportant, while group discussions enhance productivity.


Focusing on Cost

One of the first realities with which a manager becomes aware is cost. Since they are trying to increase the overall profits, they are tempted to start cutting costs. For example, two desks of work can become one with an increased workload. However, as workloads increase and resources are limited, the output and worker contentment will drop, and more resources will have to be dedicated to training new employees.


Avoiding Risk

The temptation to control costs leads directly to the final pitfall, avoiding risks. After all, if a manager is setting about in a systematic way to improve the company, cutting those elements that have the potential for failure is a natural conclusion. However, all too often upper-level management has hired an individual for the specific reason of gaining new ideas and opportunities and would be willing to accept that risk. If that is the case, a daring failure would be better for the new manager than a safe success.


Start with Success

Avoiding these 5 new leader management mistakes can help you achieve your management success and make you a valuable element to the companies that hire you.


Need a little more help in become an excellent manager? Have questions on how you can use your strengths to become an even more productive member of the company? EPIC Mission provides coaching services, enabling you to achieve the success you so richly deserve!


References:

https://www.davincivirtual.com/blog/4592/11-reasons-why-a-virtual-office-is-a-smart-move

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-tull/how-taking-risks-evokes-l_b_10843744.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/06/19/six-ways-to-become-a-better-manager/

https://www.business.com/articles/5-ways-to-be-a-better-manager/

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How to Plan for the Growth of Your Business

9/12/2018

Expanding a business can be very profitable. Growth can be produced organically as a company runs well. Yet, there can be many problems if expansion is not executed carefully. Here are some tips to plan for expanding a business operation.


Set Accurate Goals and Objectives

Many businesses have suffered bankruptcy due to aggressive over-expansion. When considering transforming a company into a giant infrastructure, it is essential to keep track of goals and financial outcomes. How much will the business cost to run if additional equipment and employees are added? 


Additionally, what happens if profits do not match expectations? A business owner should do what they can to make sure that they keep track of every scenario and have multiple plans in place to ensure the corporation can stay afloat. One does not know what the future may bring, but one still ought to act with prudence and not with recklessness.


Keep Inventory in a Warehouse

Often entrepreneurs will try doing it all on their own, some out of their own home or office, while others rent space in an effort to set up a warehousing system, which requires them to essentially now master two industries—their own industry along with warehouse and logistics management—and often both suffer in the end. Many companies are now looking toward virtual warehouses that are run and operated by third party companies which may sound more expensive but can actually save you a lot of money up because you don’t have to worry about rent, upkeep, and other things.


If renting or owning a warehouse on your own sounds good for you and your company, then make sure to understand the costs involved. It’s recommended to get a security company or hire your own security to watch over the warehouse during night hours to prevent crime. As well, purchasing a warehouse comes with a benefit of being able to keep all of one's inventory organized. There is almost nothing worse than to have an order for something and not be able to find it. Having a warehouse will also make your business look more professional, so it could lead to more clientele.


Obtain the Right Equipment

When considering expanding into the market, make sure you acquire the right technology. Shop with a keen mind in weighing the positives and negatives in purchasing business equipment. Although buying a used asset can yield savings, buying a new one could be more cost-efficient over a longer period of time. Look carefully at what the next phase your business will be in when you are purchasing equipment. You are expanding now, but in five years will you still be growing your operation? Is it more important to save money now or later? Practicing prudence in these matters could be the difference between profits or losses.


Growth must be managed carefully and wisely. A child experiences pain when they grow, but in the end, they will become taller. This is akin to business expansion. Growing a business can be difficult, but it can lead to a firmly established corporation. A child needs plenty of calcium to grow. In a like manner, a business's growth is fueled by wise decisions.


If you need coaching or consulting services or other business counsel, check out or website to learn more. Contact EPIC Mission any time with your questions.

EPIC Mission: Guiding the heroes of change.

How Leaders Can Make Work Spaces Safer

9/14/2018

If you are a leader, then it is your job to keep your work space safe. Your employees look to you to ensure that they will not be harmed. This includes sexual, physical, or other types of dangers. Here is what you should know about how to lead your team in being fun and safe in every situation.


Emergency Training

There are certain safety measures you should take in every business. This is true whether you work in finance, e-commerce, or anything else. Within the office, there are still hazards that must be understood and avoided. Have an emergency plan scheduled so that everything from fire extinguishers to escape plans are practiced ahead of time. That way it is second nature when it truly counts.


For instance, in the event of a fire, you need to have someone that is personally responsible for alerting the emergency services. Another person should have the first aid kit on hand to tend to anyone that might experience an injury.

These measures don't just help protect the health of your workers. They also prevent liability lawsuits from happening. Don't take them lightly and train often.


Reference: Occupational Safety Solutions | WHS Management System


Safety Reviews

OSHA and other organizations have priority in individual workplaces. They will dictate the rules of what is allowed or is not. Thus, you don't want to get a surprise visit from them. Instead, you should be on top of any hazards before they get too big.


Have regular safety reviews. If you don't, you could miss something crucial that puts you and your whole crew in danger. Nothing is worth giving up safety in your office, so create a schedule and stick to it.


HR Integration

Human resources is there to serve the company. They are able to insulate people from conflicts that should not be happening. For instance, certain harassment signs can show up early.


In these cases, you want to train your HR department to spot them and intervene. They should be an open door where anyone with a problem can come and talk to them without fear of revenge. That way, you eliminate unsafe situations or behaviors by anyone in the workplace.

Reference: Making HR Professionals Smarter | HR.com


Information Safety

Information is a key part of safety today. There are various risks to getting hacked by cybercriminals. Every company is vulnerable to this. It is not just large corporations. There is always information that is valuable to thieves.

For instance, your employees' personally identifying information is in a database on your computers in most cases. This means it just takes one line of code for them to steal the identity of everyone that works for you. If you don't take measures to stop this and keep them safe, it could have drastic consequences.


For better data security, you need to take a holistic approach. The first step is to train them on proper interaction with strangers online. If someone claiming to be from your company requests information, do not permit them to open the email or click on links. If they do this, a piece of malicious code could attack your system and give them access to everything you have. This is called phishing and is one of the most common types of attacks to defend against.


In addition, hire the right kinds of developers to improve the code on your website. Each time a person logs in, they should be prevented from executing certain scripts. This means they won't be able to spy on your employees via audio or video, or even seeing their texts.


Reference: Cybersecurity Services | IBM


Leading by Example Every Step of the Way

Employees learn best by the example of leaders. That is the case for every aspect of your business. Therefore, when it comes to making the workspace safer, you need to do things first. Don't ask your employees to do things that you aren't willing to do yourself.


One way you can take the lead is by using a VPN (virtual private network) when communicating about work-related topics. Even if you just hop on the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, fire up your security apps to make sure nothing is leaking. Another crucial element of leading with safety measures is ensuring your team to go by OSHA standards. These rules are in place for a reason and will keep your organization safe.


When it comes to the workplace, safety is the top priority. After all, if your employees are not safe, then none of your other goals can be met. So, make sure you are not putting your company at risk. Use the tips above and ensure you are leading the pack in making your work a safe environment in every way.


For more information on what you can do as a leader to ensure the safety of your business and employees, contact EPIC Mission now!

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