Tag Archives: business

6 Security tips to keep your business safe

The aim of a business is to make money and that’s what attracts criminals. Which is why you need to protect your business and your staff with adequate security.

It’s important you analyse your office space to check if you have adequate security. Look at your building from a criminal’s perspective. Are there burglar bars, alarm systems, security cameras and other security in place to protect your company?

Shred documents

There are criminals that make a living on identity theft and prowl on vulnerable individuals. You need to shred any documents containing sensitive or private information once you are done with them. If you simply throw them away, the information will be lying in a dustbin for anyone to take. Don’t leave a doorway that’ll leave criminals the opportunity to steal from you.

Criminals can also use the information from the documents they steal to open accounts in your name. If any of your paperwork contains signatures on it, medical details or account numbers, they should be shredded so you’ll be safe. These details can be found on a number of documents, such as bank receipts, CVs, bank statements and medical records. You should also look out for other documents containing personal information, such as your name and identity number.

If you can’t afford to shred the documents because you will need them later, make sure that you store them in filing cabinets that can be locked.

Assess potential employees

When you hire new employees in your business you need to assess them carefully. And this means doing more than just simply interviewing them. You should check their criminal record and history, as well as follow up on their references. If they stole from their previous employers, they might do the same to you. Sometimes crime doesn’t come from the outside but from within the company.

Install security

Make sure that you equip your premises with adequate security systems. Install burglar bars on windows, alarm systems, surveillance cameras and a video wall controller. The more secure your place is, the more criminals will see it as too much of a risk. And if you have security cameras installed, when a criminal comes in and tries to steal from the company, there will be sufficient evidence to give to the police. Many criminals have been caught in the act because companies had video footage of the perpetrator in the building.

Security guards

Security guards are usually positioned around the perimeter of the building so they can easily take stock of who goes in and out.They can also write down the registration number of every car that enters the premises. And perpetrators are always lurking in parking lots. So, if you have no one looking after your parking lot, they can steal your staff and clients’ cars. Or if a car isn’t looked after, they could do a smash and grab and steal any items in the car. Criminals aren’t likely to go out to a car if there is a security guard roaming the area.

And if you have an emergency that requires immediate help, the security will only be a call away to help you. Sometimes, by the time the police come, the perpetrator has already left the scene. Having a security guard nearby will leave you feeling less vulnerable.

If your employees find themselves working extremely late hours, they’ll feel safer knowing there’s security in the area and they don’t have to scurry off to their cars alone. They can even ask the security guard to walk them to the car and wait until they leave.

Lighting around your building

If you’ve got access to perfect lighting around your building, you could be safe from criminals. But if you don’t, criminals may take advantage of this. Criminals like dark, secluded areas where they won’t be easily exposed. They’ll think twice about entering a place with adequate lighting because criminals don’t like smashing windows or climbing walls if they can be clearly seen. Motion-sensor lighting is perfect because, when the lights come on, they will catch the criminals off guard, resulting in them fleeing the scene.

Protect important information on your computer

Makes sure that all your employees have a password on their computers to safeguard against any information theft. It’s important to also ensure that your antivirus and your web browsers are always updated.

It may cost you to keep your business secure but it’s definitely worth it. Analyse your place and decide where you can improve it in terms of security. You need security on your premises, so even when you’re not around you can feel safe knowing that all your assets are protected. The more secure your office is, the more peace of mind you will have. And your employees will also feel protected.

Asset finance companies in SA you should be looking at

Whether you’re creating a startup that will be able to disrupt every industry imaginable and change the face of the world, or a factory that prints t-shirts, you’re going to need some assets. Your company will need PCs, lots of machinery, or just printers in order to get it off of the ground, and thankfully there are a lot of asset finance companies in South Africa.

As the founder of a brand new company, or someone with an idea for one, you probably don’t yet have the financial backing to afford everything your business needs. There’s where these companies come in order to help out businesses. Think of them as bankers – well some of them are – who create flexible options to either rent or lease the equipment you need.

Below is a list of some of the companies you should be looking at, and in no particular order.

Spartan

A private company that was established in 1981, Spartan only finances small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and nothing smaller or larger. The company looks at applicants that have been trading for over three years, and have between 10 and 50 staff members. Spartan covers asset financing for machinery, specialised equipment, technology, software, and fit-out (office furniture) finance.

WesBank

This sister company of FNB not only covers asset finance for businesses, but personal finance for cars, loans, and leisure items. WesBank is more lenient when it comes to the size and state of businesses and offers customers the choice to purchase or lend assets as payment options. Some of the sectors that WesBank offers finance to includes mining and construction, fleet, agriculture, IT rental, and transport and aviation.

Standard Bank

Much like WesBank, Standard Bank also offers different asset finance options for personal and business clients. The bank supports financing for manufacturing, mining equipment, aviation, and the technology sector.

First Asset Finance (FAF)

A sister company to First Health Finance, FAF tries to differentiate itself from competing companies by offering better services and a faster turnaround time. The company doesn’t have any limits on transaction size and offers operating rentals, rent to own, instalment sales, and secured medium term loans solutions. The company supports a range of industries, from energy and marine to construction and printing.

Mercantile Bank Limited

A subsidiary of Mercantile Bank Holdings Limited, Mercantile Bank focuses on business and commercial banking solutions to local and international customers. The company offers leasing, installment finance, and rental finance to companies for assets such as motor vehicle, fleet, and capital equipment.

ABSA

One of the oldest banks in SA, ABSA, like its competitors, offers a range of asset finance management solutions to customers. ABSA offers asset finance to the same sectors as others on this list, but also gives the example of financing trains. Its differentiator to many others is the Islamic Vehicle and Asset Finance option.

Nedbank

What is there really to say about another bank offering an asset finance solution to businesses? While Nedbank offers mostly the same things, it also includes Full Maintenance leasing to facilitate vehicle administration, and Managed Maintenance to facilitate with vehicle downtime and administration.

The Rental Company

This aptly named company comprises of staff who have been in the active players in the office equipment rental industry for over 16 years. Some of The Rental Company’s clients include Coca Cola, FNB, ITEC, and Nestlé, which means they must be doing something right.

Utho Asset Finance

This is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Utho Investment Holding (Pty) Ltd, which is 100% black economic empowerment company. Launching in 2004, Utho offers asset finance in technology, office automation, software, and more. The company looks to offer flexible payment solutions to customers.

Other options

Besides standard asset finance solutions, there are a range of other options out there thanks to the financial technology startup boom. If you’re confident that your company will be able to pay back a large loan in a short amount of time, then options such as LulaLend exist, which specialises in short term loans.

For those who want to shop around, there’s also RainFin, which is a loans marketplace that lists many different loan options. The company used to be part of Barclays.

A solution to fit any business

There are a range of asset finance options for almost any company in SA, whether you want to deal with a bank or a wholly private entity for your needs. While many of these companies may look the same at face value, each one offers some or other unique way in which it can help your business grow. Be sure to always enquire about what is on offer and will suit your needs.

4 tips to manage projects effectively

 

Being in charge of a project or campaign is a big responsibility. If you’ve been put in charge of one, well congratulations. You were presented this opportunity because your boss saw that you have the necessary skills to tackle this task. While you’re excited because this might be your first big project, it can be frightening at the same time. “How do I get started? How do I build a high-performance project team?”are just some of the questions that might arise.

 

Sometimes things will run smoothly and according to plan and other times you’re going to face obstacles. Creating realistic project plans, estimating time and effort, and doing things according to your capabilities are just some of the things you should be able to do as a project manager. Fortunately for you, those things can be learned. By doing a project management training course it’ll teach you all the ins and outs of being a good program manager.

 

Given the high rate of project failures, you might think companies would just want their projects over and done with. However, that’s not always the case. Despite the odds, organisations want projects to be done faster within a restricted time frame and on a cheaper budget. The only way these objectives can be met is through the use of effective project management processes and techniques.

 

Here are four tips on how to manage any project effectively.

 

Communication is key

 

You need to learn how to communicate effectively within your team. Good communication skills are key to a successful life.If you are a good communicator you can look forward to having fulfilling work and personal relationships. As a project manager, you’ll work with a team who’ll assist you on the project. And for that reason, constant communication is necessary in order to achieve success. Good project managers usually are easy-going communicators who don’t even flinch at the thought of communicating with others. You should be able to speak to your team about a variety of topics. An age old aphorism goes, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

 

Communicating well with your team will help to eliminate misunderstandings and can encourage a healthy and peaceful work environment. If you don’t want your project to fail, then checking up on your team and communicating on a regular basis is crucial.

 

Plan ahead

 

After you know what needs to be done with your project, you can start with planning right away. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Not knowing what you’re working towards can be stressful, especially if you’re trying to stay on track with other responsibilities. Knowing for what you’re aiming for creates the likelihood of reaching your destination. Without planning in advance and having a clear objective, you set yourself up for failure. However, with a plan in place you’ll also be able to share with management what it is you’re planning to ensure the project is a success.

 

Never assume, ask first

 

You should always ask when you don’t know something. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Many people make assumptions rather than asking questions and the results can often be disastrous. Unfortunately, your projects will fail when assumptions are made that ultimately are unfounded. Part of being a good project manager is having all the information on hand and knowing when to brief your team and when to ask questions.

 

Prepare yourself for conflict

 

Any type of conflict has a simple solution, it goes back to communication. In every team working  together towards a specific goal, conflict will arise throughout the process. Sometimes people are just difficult to work with, mostly because it’s difficult to adapt their work style. And, no two people are identical or have the exact same work ethic.There’s no way to avoid conflict, you just have to look for ways to deal with it. It can sometimes be healthy to have conflict in your team, that way you’ll know how the other person is feeling about specific situations. When conflict arises, take the person aside and listen to them over a walk and talk. Try to relax them and calm them down.Then allow them to share their thoughts with you. It’s always best to take the person outside so it’s not confrontational and in front of an audience (other team members).  It’s less about confronting the problem and more about addressing the cause of the problem.

 

When taking on a project, you have to be comfortable with it. Being a program manager and not enjoying what you’re doing won’t be a fun experience. As the leader, you need to be able to work with a team in order to achieve your project goals.

How to own a shop

So you want to own a shop? That’s not an uncommon dream for many entrepreneurs. Nowadays the more popular option is to open an ecommerce store as this is online and easily managed remotely. However, having a brick and mortar store for your clients to visit is often a great idea and works very well in conjunction with your online presence.

 

What’s more, some entrepreneurs want to have a shop as opposed to simply having an online presence. In fact, they prefer the idea of having a space to display their goods and interact with their customers face to face. Using their ecommerce store as a secondary means to service clients outside of their area of trade. Also, if you are interested in offering niche products or running a boutique type of shop then having a brick and mortar store is better.

 

So, if owning a shop sounds like the type of entrepreneurial venture you’d want to set up then you must consider what you’ll need to run a successful store.

 

Signage and marketing

 

Without signage no-one will venture into your store. Nothing says poor quality like a bare shopfront. In fact, you could go so far as to say that your customers won’t trust you. You need to invest in an outdoor sign at the very least. Something that has your name and logo is perfect and if possible include more signage inside the store too, indicating categories. What’s more, you need to market the presence of your shop. If you are based inside a mall then see if you can place signs showing customers where to find you or have a sign board set up. You can even employ promoters to hand out flyers. And, of course, flood your social media platforms with information on how customers can find you.

 

Point-of-sale system

 

This is a must-have before you open your doors. You need to be able to process payments as working on a cash system will not only see you losing out on customers who expect to pay with their bank cards but it will also make you vulnerable to robberies. There are a variety of different point-of-sale solutions available which have been created for different type of businesses and different sized businesses. You could consider the likes of Snapscan as a payment solution too. And, you must have a cash register on site that is secure as you need to be able to store the cash you do receive and have cash available to pay for deliveries and the like.

 

Security

 

Unfortunately, you cannot be too careful. No matter what you are selling in your shop you need to make sure you are secure and safe at all times. Having visual security systems in place is ideal. If you are a part of a mall you might find they insist on you displaying a sign indicating their security is in place. The mall security will have a sophisticated security system in place. You should make sure you have open lines of communication with them and have access to the security measures. If possible you should install CCTV cameras and have a video wall controller in a private back room, where you can view exactly what the cameras are seeing. Petty theft is rife within shops and having visible cameras will deter criminals. If you happen to experience an incident then you will be able to spot the criminal by having a look at the footage. No matter your shop size you can find a CCTV solution to suit you and have a video wall controller made to fit your space.

 

Customers needs

 

You need to consider what your customers will want when they visit your shop. This means you need to pay attention to your decor, you need to have your items correctly displayed in cases or on mannequins. If you are selling clothing or fashion accessories then you need to kit out your store with mirrors and changing rooms. They will also need bags in which to pack and carry their purchases. You must make sure you have everything your customers might want to make their shopping experience easy and convenient. Have gift wrapping services available and make sure you have baskets or trolleys if your items are big. And of course, keep your shop clean.

 

There are a variety of things you need before you can open your doors for customers to visit your shop. You need to make lists and budget for everything you can think of. It’s a process of elimination and always a good idea to prepare properly.

 

What 2016 tells us about financing a business

If we’ve learned anything from 2016, it’s that there’s plenty business can and must do to help protect themselves from events they could not have foreseen. To that end, it’s worth thinking about what we can do, as business people, to help keep our businesses afloat while the world goes on. Businesses won’t stay up because we want them to, but through hard work. We need to be able to handle what occurs and look out for dangers that might threaten their continued existence. Just as we care for any loved one, we must be mindful of what could pose a threat to businesses – 2016 shows us that many of the biggest dangers could come out of left field. To that end, let’s look at ways to protect our businesses from any possible dangers.

Look for bargains

We make our own success, but it also involves knowing where to find opportunities for that success to blossom. One clear way to make success into a reality rather than a dream is to find the best deals and bargains. For example, here is a detailed way one American finance writer managed to get an expensive electric car reduced in price. Instead of spending $35,000 on a brand-new electric car, he got it for under $14,000. Businesses must look at their financing options in terms of the best way to make the most out of a little – or, perhaps, how to get exorbitant prices reduced.

Beware “gurus”

Nobody can predict the future, yet many make their money off selling their beliefs to businesses desperate for a path. These finance gurus tend to offer vague reasons for their predictions, forcing businesses down paths they would otherwise have never gone. Consider some of the worst financial predictions in history, by some of the smartest people in the world. For example, in 2010, entrepreneur Richard Branson warned that “the next five years will see us face another crunch – the oil crunch,” predicting a severe supply shortage. Of course, six years later, the price of oil is actually lower than it was then. Businesses must on the evidence they have, that will benefit themselves and shareholders, not the words of those who claim to have knowledge they could not possibly have. The smartest people in the world did not think Donald Trump would get elected or that Britain would leave the European Union – yet both of these large events occurred and have dramatically changed the landscape. How many businesses were prepared when these events occurred? How many were protected from the financial fallout? For example, did these companies have protection for their immigrant employees? Did they have proper health coverage (the repeal in America of the Affordable Care Act has left millions without healthcare, meaning they might not be able to work – a reduction in people able to suddenly work will have a massive impact on businesses and therefore the economy).

Be creative

Business people must be more creative than ever, as they go forward. It’s using plant and machinery finance in clever ways to create more jobs, services and so on. It’s creating new advertising campaigns, drawing in younger people, getting active on social media. Creativity means standing out from others, an expression of individuality that draws people in so they want to work with us in various capacities. 2016 showed that creativity is key, especially in a world that is increasingly competitive.

Proper hiring and proper management

Our business is only as good as your least talented staff member. Hiring the best people must be at the top of our list of priorities. Businesses are made of teams, so if one person messes up, it falls sideways and upward. That is, it affects everyone, not just the work of the person who made a mistake. Competency must be paid for and rewarded, which means it is on us to treat our staff properly, doing what we can to retain them for as long as possible.

The longer someone works for us the better for everyone, since this establishes a long-standing dynamic that gives a measure of stability to the constant shifting market. For example, we could listen to various studies that indicate working from home has enormous benefits. Not only do people then feel more inclined to work for us, but their work improves, too. If our concern is that people need rigour and micromanagement in order to complete their work, the failure is ours not theirs – we should not be hiring people who can’t work when left by themselves. Otherwise we’re being teachers and watch dogs, not managers focused on production, ideas and so on. Implementing new strategies for the benefit of staff will go a long way to making a business better than it ever could be.

People are always looking for ways to stay employed after all and no one likes the sense of fear, when leaving. There’s no guarantee any job is forever and the lack of job security is one reason people tend to stay in position longer than before – after all, even advanced degrees are not guarantee we’ll be employed. Yet that shouldn’t stop us as business people putting effort into retaining the staff we do have.