Tips to protect your home from criminals

Criminals are looking for homes that are easy targets. There are specific ingredients that make a perfect crime. And you might be unknowingly contributing to being a victim.

Surprisingly most burglaries happen between 10am and 3pm. Most people are not at home at these times, making their homes vulnerable to opportunistic thieves. And they usually start in the master bedroom first because it has the most valuables.

There are many ways to protect yourself from criminals by making sure you adequately secure your home.

Join the neighbourhood watch.

When you are a part of the neighbourhood watch you will be more secure. You will be able to find out which areas are crime hotspots and which routes to avoid when going to work or coming home. The neighbours will also let each other know of any suspicious-looking people roaming the area and also any recent criminal activity that has occurred in the neighbourhood.

Cover your garage windows

Protect your cars by ensuring that you have blinds or curtains for the windows in your garage. And always lock the gates and close the garage doors. If you don’t lock the doors and your windows are bare, you make yourself vulnerable to criminals. So put curtains on windows. If you leave your cars and motorbikes visible then criminals are likely to target your house.

Install burglar bars in your home

The harder it is for criminals to get into your house, the more secure it will be. Install them all on your windows and get gates for your  sliding doors.

Install an alarm system

An alarm system is one of the best ways to guard your house. It gives you peace of mind during the day when you are at work, knowing that your house is protected. And if you are present in your house, you are comforted knowing that help is only a press of a button away. Intruders are also usually wary of houses that have alarm system signs on their walls, windows or gates.

Check your house for any hiding places

Trees and shrubs are perfect hiding places for criminals. Prune your trees so that criminals will not be able to use them.

Be wary of what you post on social media

You wouldn’t announce to your whole neighbourhood that your house will be vacant because you are going away. So why do it on social media? When you’re going on vacation, don’t post it on Facebook, Twitter or any social platform. There might be a perpetrator reading and they might take the opportunity to raid your house. You should also avoid posting personal information such as your address.

Be careful where you hide your spare key

There are some instance that require you to leave the spare key at home. Maybe your child comes early from school or you will be away for a weekend. Don’t leave your spare house keys under mats, dustbins and pot plants. Criminals know these hiding spots and they’re  the first places they will look. Rather choose to leave your house keys with neighbours that you trust.

Motion sensor lights

Motion sensor lights will alarm thieves because they’ll be caught off guard.

Passive infrared detector – These type of lights detect heat, such as a human body, when it passes under the light and it sounds the alarm.

Active ultrasonic sensors – They detect moving objects. An intruder will be alarmed and then might take off.

Keep away from exposing your assets

Park your expensive cars and motorbikes in the garage. If you have just bought new appliances, computers, laptops and flat screen TVs, shred the boxes of these appliances and put them in black plastic bags.

Don’t leave your mail lying around

When you go away on vacation for a long time, ask a friend or family member to take collect your mail for you. A mailbox that has letters and bills overflowing from it is a dead giveaway that you are away. Criminals usually monitor a neighbourhood beforehand. And if they can see your house is empty, they will target it.

Protect your business

If you have a home-based business, make sure that it’s secured. Criminals are more likely to target homes that are used for businesses. It could be any business, a hair salon, spa etc. Criminals are more likely to target a house that also has a business in it because sales will be made. And they can steal any money made that day. And they can also take assets such as computers, fax machines, printers and cell phones.

Cameras are always a good idea

If you have the budget, you can splurge on security camera’s and video wall controllers that will help you monitor any activity. This will give you actual footage if a crime had to take place in your home and will show you when there’s an intruder.

Protecting the home is a vital tool for your peace of mind. When you are away for long periods, you will not have to stress. The more secure your home, the more criminals will be deterred.

 

5 ways to renovate your office space

The office is the place where you work, but does it work for you? Most employees spend about 40 hours per week at work – in other words, the majority of their time per day. Do you work in an office that desperately needs an injection of vibrancy and colour? Your workspace needs to be interesting and encourage productivity.

You can bring change to the whole office, from the CEO’s office to the creative side. Making your office look attractive and appealing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. All you want is for employees to come to work in an inviting and engaging environment. Giving your offices an upgrade will make your employees happy and more productive.

Try to create a more modern office space that’ll make employees excited to be there. Spaces impact our energy levels, moods and the comfort level at which we work. Many spend most of their time, even the occasional weekend, in office. So it needs to be designed in a way that fosters creativity, productivity and cheerfulness.

Here are a few things to remember when renovating your office.

Decide on your style

Before you hire a handyman or open a can of paint, it’s important for you to have a style in mind. Are you staying true to the building’s history? Are you opting for a more modern look? You should look at which style will best represent your business. It is difficult to decide about fixtures, furniture or layout if you don’t start the renovation process with a clear vision of your style. If you’re renovating a historic building keep in mind that there may be both drawbacks and perks.

Bring light into the office

Natural light in an office is the way to go. If you have the available funds to install more windows or a sliding door in your office, go for it. Employees that work in natural light tend to be more productive and feel more positive. Dark spaces can actually create depression. If natural light isn’t an option, then you should opt for bright lighting. Try to change the light bulbs of your office as soon as they begin to flicker or dim. Brighter lighting can make a room look more cheerful and spacious.

Create space

If you can manage it, give yourself more surrounding space to work from. Another option to create space is by decluttering. Get rid of everything you don’t need or use in the office. It includes getting the stationery organised, storing stock safely and ensuring you make the most out of the space you have. If your office has wall-to-wall cubicles then it’s definitely time to bring some change. In a modern office, workers sit together in  an open space demarcated into specific departments or groups. Employees will feel more at ease if they have plenty of space available.

Update security

Are you concerned about the security at your office? Security is important for every business today, therefore you have to install security features to help you keep your office, employees, visitors, property and so on completely safe. Technology has progressed in such a way that people now make use of tags and cards to enter their offices. Check out how turnstiles work and perhaps you can install this instead of a normal door with a key. This will cost you some money but it’s a good investment to make for your company. For visitors, one of the best ways to boost your security is by having your visitors sign appropriate legal agreements.

Create a caffeine station

In most offices, the coffee station is the first stop for incoming employees. Many can’t start their day without having that first sip of coffee. As more people enter the office and grab their morning java, the office transforms. Coffee is a staple in most workplaces, the caffeine gives the employees a need energy boost and the atmosphere will feel alive. In every modern office, you’ll find a coffee station. So, if you’re opting for a modern look and feel then this is the way to go. It’ll ensure your employees to feel valued and encourage communication among them. For your office to really feel alive, you’ve got to maximise its energy resources.

Many people spend most of their time at the office. It’s almost like their second home. For a space that you confine yourself to for most of the time, it’s important to make it as practical and comfortable as possible. It’s important to have an inspiring and beautiful workplace, however, it’s also important not to overdo it. Don’t create something that’s too busy for the eye.

The financial goals your business should have

Every business should have financial goals. After all, without them, how will you know where your business is headed? Just like every person should have goals, financial and otherwise, your business should too. And financial goals in particular all have one outcome in mind: financial success. And of course you want that for your business so while these are usually personal goals consider their adaptations for business.

Spend what you have and not more. This is the number one lesson in personal finances. Don’t borrow money to pay your bills, not in your own life and not in business. All this does is result in you always being behind on your bills and never being able to get ahead. Your time will be spent trying to find funding. When that doesn’t work you may have to research how to apply for a personal loan online so you can fund things for a while. There’s far better ways you should be spending your time. You should only borrow money for your business for the biggest expenses – like a bond to house your offices or a loan to move your business forward with clear outcomes and payment terms defined.

Keep your expenses low. When it comes to your personal finances, this speaks to living in a small home and driving an affordable car. In business, this is relevant in many different ways. There’s really no need to have your office in the fanciest part of town. Simplifying simple aspects of the way you do business can have a major impact on your bottom line. And the good news is there’ll be almost no detriment to you or your staff.

Avoid unnecessary expenses. Yes, you want to provide lunch to your workers every day. But you don’t need to buy expensive takeaways daily. Those kinds of costs add up quickly and can lead to you having to retrench staff. And they’d much rather keep their jobs than have burgers or pizza every day.

Increase your business’ net worth. In personal finance, this one is simple. Pay off all your debts and have money saved so you won’t have to work again. Your business works in the same way. Pay off your debts and loans. Turn a profit monthly so you won’t have to worry about covering your expenses. Have money left over at the end of the month so you can pay yourself a salary, share profits with staff and reinvest what’s left over into the business.

Now that you’ve set goals for your business, how about giving your business finances a makeover? Sometimes you feel a little tired and in need of a break, a refresher and new start. This can happen to your business too. If your business is fairly old and has been around for a little while, it could be running automatically. And that’s when you know it might be time to give your finances a makeover. These tips might help to bring some much needed enthusiasm into the finances of your business.

Separate personal from business. This step shouldn’t need to be mentioned. There should be absolutely no overlap between your finances and that of your business. Yes, it’s easy to just reach for the nearest credit card when you’re at the grocery store. But that should never be done. A business bank account is totally essential for responsible management of your businesses finances.

Create a budget for your business. A budget is essential for you to manage your own personal finances. Your business is the same. The reason they’re so ubiquitous is that they work. Make sure to look at your budget constantly and make adjustments. It’s important that you ensure your spending is in line with your budget.

Automate your business expenses. Make sure that all recurring expenses are automated. This could be your rent, salaries, utilities and so much more. This will make your life just that little bit easier every month. As a business owner, you have a lot of balls in the air that you need to juggle. You’ll want to make sure everything possible is automated so they can happen without you even thinking about them.

Pay off debt. Carrying debt is never a good thing, not for you and not for your business. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes you might even need it to grow your business. Make sure you make an effort every month to pay off your debt as quickly as possible so that you avoid paying too much interest.

Keep a close eye on your bank statement. If you don’t keep a close eye on your bank statements, you may miss something important. A missed payment, a scam, a double debit – all of these are possible. The only you’ll know is by spotting it yourself. A good idea is to use your bank statements to compare against your income statement and balance sheet. This’ll enable you to see how your business is progressing and to find any potential problems.

By following these steps, your business finances will soon be refreshed and it’ll be ready to grow. It’s important that you take some time to think about your business and its goals.

What you need to know before starting a small business

Starting a new business can be scary. There’s so much you don’t know a single thing about. But the good news is that behind every successful business is an entrepreneur who was once right where you are now. These are the people who know exactly what you are going through. They’ve been there. They have been uncertain about where to turn and who to ask for help. It’s very likely that they hesitated before taking the next step. Theirs is the advice you should be looking out for.

 

Take advice from the pros. Apple boss Steve Jobs used to say that it’s important to be selective about the challenges you choose to tackle as an entrepreneur.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1 000 things.”

His Virgin counterpart, Richard Branson, said business owners should focus their companies on the thing they need and the changes they’d like to see.

“Think about changes you’d like to see as a customer – even if you’ve just noticed little details that need tweaking. Those little changes may add up to a big idea that leads to a new and truly disruptive product or service. This is essentially how we, at Virgin, launched our first successful businesses.

“We were very sensible when we started out, setting up connected enterprises like most other companies do. We went from running a small record shop to starting up a record label with recording studios and then added our large music megastores to our portfolio.”

 

Planning your next move. When you’re just getting started, it’s important that you know what your next move is and where you plan to be in the next five to 20 years. Only then can you really begin to plan your next move and way forward. You’ll need to draw up a business plan to guide you onward. It’s essential that you’re constantly measuring your success, taking note of the factors which help you and which hinder you along the way.

 

There are many factors which could potentially impact you, as a small business owner. In South Africa especially we have to protect ourselves from the twin issues of crimes and cost increases. Making sure you have the necessary security in place and planning your finances carefully should assist in putting your mind at ease.

 

Next up, you’ll need to start thinking about making your startup a success. It’s likely you’ve read thousands of articles, listened to many podcasts, spoken to friends who’ve done the same thing and scoured the stores for books on your subject.

 

And your startup is beginning to show the signs of your hard work. So, how do you take your business to the next level? If you’re looking to grow, here are some tips for moving your business to the next level.

 

Think about your timing. Just like everything in life, you need to be at the right place, at the right time. You need to be able to spot a gap in the market and get in there quickly. You need to realise what consumers want or need, before they even do. In order to do this, you need to always have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening, what they want and where there’s a need. You’ll need to always keep updated about everything that’s happening in your particular industry.

 

Spend time building your brand. Your brand is everything. It’s what will come to mind every time a consumer thinks of your product or service. You’ll need to connect on an emotional level with your consumers and ensure your brand is thought of as a leader and influencer. For this, you’ll need to pay attention to a number of different factors:

 

  • Choosing the target market that’s right for your product or service
  • Connecting in the right ways and in the right places with your target market
  • Making sure you and your brand are always known for providing excellent customer service

 

When all of these factors begin to come together, consumers will choose your brand over others. That’s when you’ll know you’ve made it.

 

Pivot your brand. This is when you move away from what’s not working and find a solution that does work for your small business. You definitely don’t want to do this too soon. But eventually, you’ll want to diversify and become known for something else. When the time is right, you’ll need to apply for the asset finance solutions to help you grow your business. Be sure to stick to related products or services as you grow because otherwise you’ll begin to feel disjointed. This could be confusing for your customers and push them to your competitors.

Your brand needs to be online. Seriously, get online now. What are you waiting for? The world is becoming increasingly digital and every company needs to be online. Make sure your website can be found easily by using use of some simple SEO strategies. You should also be using social media in the correct ways and to your advantage.

 

Take your time to grow slowly. But don’t wait for too long because someone else will have the same idea as you. They’ll move faster and you’ll never get anywhere.

 

Being a business owner is tough. That’s especially true when you’re starting out. But if you believe in your project and know the risks, you should go for it. That’s when you’ll not only survive, but thrive.

6 tips on managing a factory

 

dirty-industry-stack-factory

You’ve finally been promoted to management. Or perhaps you’ve just landed your dream job at a new company. Either way, you’re suddenly in charge of managing a factory and are starting to wonder how you’re going to, well, manage. It’s a big job, after all. You’re in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly, every job is completed properly and the staff on the floor are happy and productive. It can be a bit overwhelming at first.

But don’t worry, you’ll soon figure out how to do everything and remain in control at all times. You were given this job for a reason. However, if you need a little help to get you started, here are six tips on managing a factory.

Know your staff members’ names

You’re not going to get anywhere with your new staff members unless you know their names. If you were previously working on the floor, then this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re new to the company, you need to start learning names and quickly. You don’t want to be the manager who can’t greet a staff member on the staircase because they haven’t bothered to remember their name. In the beginning, it’s a good idea to walk around the factory and introduce yourself to everyone and familiarise yourself with what they do. Of course, if there is a large workforce, you probably won’t be able to remember everyone’s name at first. In which case it’s okay to ask for the first few weeks. But once you’ve been there a month, you should be acquainted with everyone.

Learn who works what shift

You need to be on top of things. That’s your job. You need to know what’s happening and when. And that means you should always know who is working what shift. Are there specific people who work night shift and day shift? Or do they switch according to a schedule? If so, you need to know that schedule. You need to be able to make sure that everybody is where they’re supposed to be at the time they are supposed to be there. If you don’t have this knowledge, people may take advantage of your ignorance. You may trust your staff and that’s a good thing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check up on these things.

Keep an accurate record of leave days

You can’t just jot down people’s leave days on post-it notes and stick them on the wall of your office. That’s not going to work. You need to be far more organised than that. Sure, the finance or HR department will have this information but you need to have your own record as well. You need to know when someone is going to be away from the factory so you can make a plan if you need someone to replace them for that period of time.

Check the machines are being used correctly

Part of your job is to ensure that the machinery is in working order. And that means you have to make sure your staff members are using the machines correctly. When equipment is used incorrectly, it gets damaged over time. Which will result in your employers having to apply for additional machinery asset finance. And they will not be pleased about that in the slightest. Just like you are in charge of the workforce in the factory, you are also in charge of the machinery and equipment.

Organise a social event every now and then

If you want your staff to respect you, you have to be firm with them and ensure they are always doing their jobs correctly and to your standards. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t get to know them and encourage them to get to know each other on a social level. Once in a while, ask the company if you can organise a braai or drinks after work to encourage people to interact without the loud noise of the machines. You’ll find that internal politics and rivalries among your staff members will lessen if they start to chat informally with one another.

Review processes regularly

Efficiency is key in any factory. In fact, it’s key in any department of any business out there. It’s about getting the most work done without compromising on quality or safety. And that’s why processes are so important. Processes can make or break a factory. You need to ensure you’re doing things the best way possible while you’re managing the factory. Which means you should research the latest processes, compare them to what you’re currently doing and consider trying new methods in an effort to improve productivity and efficiency.

Well done, you got the job. Now you need to do the work. It’s time you get to know your staff, organise schedules, encourage interaction and make sure the factory is running as efficiently as possible.