What Types of Documents Should Your Company Shred?

To remain in compliance with laws that require you as a business owner to destroy all of your sensitive data in a safe and secure manner, it’s imperative that you shred the documents that can be a risk to the identity of your customers, suppliers, or even your staff members. Once a document has served its purpose or it becomes no longer viable to your business operations, it should be shredded by a team of professionals who provide shredding services to businesses like yours here in the UK. What types of materials should you shred? Let’s take a look at some of the paperwork that should be considered as you select documents to be shredded by your team.

Human Resources Documentation

After they are no longer needed by your HR department, you should shred applications, payroll documentation, performance reviews, disciplinary records, medical information, contracts, and any correspondence that your company had with the employee. You will also want to discard any training documentation, personal family data, or CVs that contain all of their contact and personal information.

Client Information

Protecting your clients is also very important to your company; you do not want this information to fall into the hands of your competitors or those criminals wishing to do harm to these business associates. You should shred all contracts, payment information, invoices, payment schedules, legal documentation, and client passwords or other sensitive data that is unique to the client.

Business Development Data

Remember that this section of documentation is the lifeblood of your company, so it’s imperative that this information be shredded once you are finished with it. This should include all company proposals, product development, research data, drawings, strategies, meeting minutes, training information, internal reporting, supplier information, purchase orders, and any data related to your corporate budget.

Additional Data to Shred

There will be data and documentation specific to your company and niche; for some ideas of additional data to shred you should visit www.simplyshred.co.uk where you can find a wealth of helpful information. You’ll want to be sure to shred all of your desk memos, diary pages, meeting notes, agendas, and your private notes regarding your business operations. If you’ve printed out emails from clients, suppliers, board members, or other business associates these should be shredded as well. If you have any queries about what to shred or not shred, your team of shredding professionals can offer you their expertise as you decide.

The amount and type of documents that you shred depend primarily on your business niche and the type of company you have. With the shredding process, one size does not fit all; the team with which you partner can offer you sound advice about which documents should be shredded and which ones should be filed in your vault. They will also recommend that you not try to shred any metal items, sharp objects, cardboard tubes, pressurised containers, or batteries. Many of these items can be discarded safely and securely with corporate initiatives that collect and destroy them in a method that is safe to our environment.…

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Business Etiquette in Brief: Professional Image Tips for Women

This week, in Business Etiquette in Brief, we’ll be taking a look at some professional image tips for the ladies.  That being said, there is a saying that says you should always strive to dress for the job that you want, not for the job you already have.  Now, in this day and age that could be good or bad.  Let’s take a look at what Ann Sabath suggests:

Suits- Typically, safe suit colors include navy, grey, taupe and black.  While brighter colors function a bit differently and aren’t disallowed, you still have to be careful with what your company will and will not allow.

Skirts- Skirts should be no shorter than slightly above the knee and fall no lower than just below mid-calf.  Mini-skirts or short skirts have no place in the professional environment. EVER.

Blouses- According to Sabath, the color of your blouse has a definite impact on your overall look.  Solid colors always work best and are typically the better investment.  Choose colors that won’t wash you out and which will look nice with whatever suit you’re wearing.

Hosiery- As a good rule of thumb, it is typically better to stick with skin-toned stockings or hosiery.

Shoes- If you can stand them, heels are always an acceptable (and preferred option) in the business/corporate world.  If you absolutely cannot withstand all that is involved in wearing high heels, a low heel or flat dress shoe is fine.  A solid color in leather will always look more professional, and the heel shouldn’t measure more than 2-3 inches in height.

Handbags/Briefcases– Again, it is always best to invest in leather accessories and try to stick to solid colors. If you’re going to carry a handbag as well as a briefcase, then you need to make sure that your handbag is significantly smaller than your  briefcase

Jewelry- Your choice in jewelry is a direct reflection of who you are as a person.  Whenever possible, try to match up your jewlery items. (i.e. whit gold on white gold).  As for earrings, long dangling earrings are not advised for a businesss setting nor are giant hooped earrings or anything else that may seem gaudy.  Remember that simple is always better!…

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3 Simple Steps to Help Optimize Your Return Policy

Let’s face it, dealing with customer returns is going to happen. How you as the business owner chooses the handle the returns can make or break your business. Even if you deal with one return a year or deal with returns on a regular basis having a solid return policy in place will help with the overall structure and flow of your business. While no business likes to have returns there are a few things that you can do to keep your customers loyal.

Have a Simple Return Policy

Maintaining customer relations is what a return policy should be all about. In the event that your customer is unsatisfied with their purchase you still want to leave the door open that they will return to your business at a later time. Have your return policy as easy as possible and have your return policy posted. A great idea is to have your return policy printed on the back of receipts or on the bottom of invoices. Make sure that all your staff fully understands the return policy and that they can accurately convey the return policy to the customers.

Try and Turn a Refund into a New Sale

In a land based store the customer will be right in front of you. Find out what they did not like about the product and offer some suggestions of something they may like. Consider offering them a discount on their next purchase. Provide them with outstanding customer service and the chances are great that your refund may have just turned into a new sale. By providing them with outstanding customer relations they may even tell their friends and family members about the service they received and how understanding the store was. If you are doing business online never underestimate the power of positive customer service. One method is to follow up with your customer after the online return has been made. Consider sending an email with a special discount as well.

Get to Know Your Customers and Clients

A return policy is going to vary a great deal and will depend on the type of goods and services sold as well as the individuals who buy the products. Small businesses will be able to benefit from being able to know your customers on a more personal basis. By knowing your customer and working with them one on one can go a long when it comes to time to return something. Not all businesses will be able to know their customers on a personal level but there are ways to find out what your customers want and need in terms of returns. Surveys are a great option to offer. Provide a way for your customers to give you feedback and most importantly take the time to listen to what the want.

Having a return of merchandise does not always have to be a negative thing. Returns are going to happen if you have a return policy. Take the time to get your plans in place and provide your customers with superior customer service.…

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How to get your business noticed

In a competitive marketplace, it can be hard to attract the attention of potential customers and so far, you might have found that your marketing strategies have lacked the cut-through you’re looking for. To help give your business a kick start this year, here are three ways to get noticed in 2016.

Reach out to consumers directly

There’s no shortage of promotional tactics available to companies these days. From social media campaigns and other web-based marketing tactics to traditional print, TV and radio ads, there are various ways to connect with potential customers. However, impersonal approaches like these don’t always achieve the results firms are looking for. To really get your company on consumers’ radars, it can pay off to reach out to them directly by taking advantage of field marketing campaigns. Face-to-face sales are a tried and tested promotional approach and well planned campaigns can bring impressive results.

Don’t panic if you lack field marketing experience. Rather than organising the projects yourself, you can enlist the help of experts to do it for you. In addition, to help keep your costs in check, you could find a field marketing specialist that operates a performance-based model. For example, Chris Niarchos’Appco Group only charges for the results it actually delivers. This can take the stress out of planning a field marketing campaign.

Get involved in the debate

As well as promoting your products or services, it’s wise to raise awareness of your organisation more generally and to showcase yourself as a thought leader in your field. By sharing useful and engaging information via social media and blog posts, and by generally getting involved in the debates taking place within your industry, you can enhance the profile of your organisation. If you possess the necessary time and resources, and you have something interesting to say, you may also benefit from creating and sharing e-books, whitepapers or YouTube videos that demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It may take a little time and effort, but these activities needn’t cost you a lot of money and they can work wonders to raise awareness of your brand.

Consider sponsorship

Another way to get your business noticed is to set aside some money for sponsorship. This could be of a person, cause or event. Before you agree to hand over money though, think carefully about how you can get the best possible exposure. For example, make sure that the occasions, individuals or causes you sponsor fit in with your overall brand message and will be seen by your target audience.

There’s no escaping the fact that getting noticed in today’s crowded marketplace can be tough for companies. However, by taking tips like these on board, you stand a better chance of raising interest in your products or services.…

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6 Very Useful Office Do’s And Don’ts

Infographic: Basic do's and don'ts for employees to prevent workplace  violence | CDCOver the average lifetime, a person will spend a total of 10.3 years in the office. If your office sucks, you’re in for a VERY long ride..

Research shows that office environment has a profound effect on a person’s happiness levels and productivity. Employees who are happy with work are 12% more productive and take 10x fewer sick days. Furthermore, they outperform competition by an average of 20%.

The more conducive your office is to employee happiness and job satisfaction, the better your team will perform. Need suggestions on how to make your office a better place? Here are some very useful office do’s and don’ts.

Do:

  1. Communicate Your Thoughts

According to MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, good communication is the best predictor of a team’s success. Communication ranked better than all other criteria including intelligence, personality, and skill put together. Leaders who identified as good communicators enjoyed 44% more profit and 50% more productivity from their teams.

The secret to good communication is simple, be kind. After years of looking for a formula for team success, Google’s Project Aristotle found that the simple things like mutual respect, honesty, and psychological safety–in other words, kindness–were the biggest factors of team success.

  1. Cultivate Office Relationships

Close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. Even moreso, 74% of employees agree that a positive relationship with their boss contributes to job satisfaction and overall motivation.

While it isn’t always good to bring personal matters to the workspace, it is important to cultivate real friendships with your co-workers and employees. Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you can’t make real friends. Reach out and get to know the members of your team–you might just learn something new!

Want to get in the trenches with your team? Get out of the cubicle and find a virtual office like Common Desk.

  1. Invest In Good Lighting

A change in lighting and ventilation can increase job satisfaction by over 24%, improve employee productivity by 16%, and reduce absenteeism. Open the shutters and let as much natural light in the office. Proper lighting and ventilation can improve alertness and mood as well as curb depression and anxiety.

Don’t:

  1. Entertain Interruptions

Workplace interruption costs the US economy almost $1 trillion every year and takes away up to 60% of employee hours.

Stay productive by setting aside some alone time during the day. Having focused work periods allows you to get things done and get them done faster. The Do-Not-Disturb sign is your best friend.

If you still can’t get away from interruptions, consider an office space for rent. Companies like Common Desk offer workspaces for both individuals and teams, perfect for some alone time and a change of scenery.

  1. Hold Unnecessary Meetings

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t call a meeting. Small issues and trivial matters can be settled via email or a short chat.

According to executives, about 67% of meetings are a waste of time. If you really need to set a meeting make sure you prepare a clear agenda and get through every point as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Also, don’t invite people unless they really need to be there.

  1. Clutter Your Workspace

According to the National Association of Professional Organizations, clutter can take away up to 4 hours of your work week.

When you’re at your desk, you want to be working, not worrying about where you put the stapler or which folder your files are in. Tidy up your desk before you leave work and set aside a day each week to do some general cleaning. You don’t want to be scrambling at your desk when your boss asks for your reports.…

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Steps To Plan And Grow A Business Venture

Business planning is a huge part of modern operations. It is really important to plan everything properly in order to be sure you will be able to grow everything in an appropriate way. Basically all businessmen in the world know that they have to plan all in a proper way. Charles Phillips is now CEO of Infor and knows everything about planning and growing businesses, leading every single company he worked for to new heights. He offers really important advice that you can take advantage of right now.

Implementing costs, management and many other problems are going to appear. You want to have patience and analyze everything that you can as you prepare for what is about to happen in the future. Remember the following.

Planning The Business Venture

  • Create the vision. This is definitely the first thing that you want to remember. You want to envision the size of the firm that you want to build and see exactly where you want to find yourself in 3 to 5 years. For instance, as a retail store owner, you may want to start with a mini-chain, creating 10 stores as your goal.
  • Next you need to define the market need that is present at the moment. Estimating market size or how many potential customers can exist is vital. Define product/service benefits for all the customers. Bring the services and products to the market only in the event that there is a very strong desire to actually buy them. Benefits need to be relative when looking at competitors.
  • Formulate the company’s business model. See what revenue streams the company needs to develop in order to end up being profitable. For instance, the manufacturing company needs some extra revenue streams that could be obtained from product repair and service.
  • Analyze the competition. This is definitely something that counts since you need all the information that is needed in order to be able to reach a competitive advantage while identifying weaknesses.
  • Develop your marketing plan. Many first launch the business and then think about marketing as they want to grow it. This is a bad idea. You want to do this before you even launch the firm.
  • Create the personnel plan so you know exactly what human resources are necessary.
  • Create your financial plan, or a forecast in order to prepare for all that will happen.

Growing The Business Venture

  • Always assess progress. It is vital that you take a really critical look when you look at the company and see the performance that appeared. Areas where improvements are needed have to be known.
  • Look for brand new opportunities that can appear. Make sure that you also take advantage of them.
  • Improving operational efficiency is also very important. You want to keep upgrading all that you offer. This even includes customer service systems. Your company should operate in a way that is as effective as possible. Never make moves without being aware of advantages and disadvantages that can appear. That would only lead towards various problems.

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How to Determine if Your Business is Just a Hobby

The difference between a business and a hobby is pretty easy to spot: A business is intended to earn money. A hobby might make you money, but you’d be doing your hobby whether or not it ever earned you a dime. A business that never makes any money is a failure, but you can be a successful hobbyist whether or not it earns you anything, and whether or not it costs you anything.

It really is as simple as that. Everything else that makes up a business, from business cards and apps to corporate accounts and corner offices- that will come later. It will come to you as you need it. If you’re just starting out, then you can officially start calling your business a business the first time you take an honest shot at making a sale, or from the minute you slap a banner ad on your website, or as soon as you begin work on your product. A business is just a system by which the owners, employees and contractors try to earn an honest dollar. If you think you need anything more than a solid product or service to in order to call what you do your business, you don’t. So don’t waste any money renting out office space for all the employees you don’t have or buying advertising for a product that isn’t nearly finished yet.

This leads us to a follow-up question: When is it time to call it quits?

The answer to that one is a little more complicated, but it starts with those two words we all hate to hear, “It depends.”

It depends on how much time you’ve given your business to flourish, what your business goals are, and whether or not you can afford the time, money and energy to keep it afloat until you hit your profit point. Of course, the answers to these questions will vary from one project to the next. A traffic school, for instance, has very clear goals: Teach people to drive better. The same goes for a restaurant: Feed people good food, get paid for it. The clearer your goal, the easier it will be to know whether or not you’re reaching it.

Money and other resources, on the other hand, are the deal breaker. Even if your business isn’t costing you much in the way of cold hard cash, at some point you have to figure out whether or not it’s worth the energy you’re putting into it. Again, for a hobby, this isn’t a serious concern: A hobby is worth however much time, money, and energy you enjoy putting into it. Sooner or later, a business needs to give more to you than it takes from you.

As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to put anything into your business that you can’t afford to lose. We hear fairy tales about people mortgaging their homes and quitting their jobs in order to pursue a new business idea. In reality, those who succeed will generally keep their job, keep their home, and explore business ideas that have a low bar of entry. Once you’ve made your first few thousand with the website that’s only costing you ten bucks a month to keep online, then you can think about getting in a little deeper.…

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Capture Your After Dinner Speech for Training Purposes

Using some of your after dinner speeches for use in your company’s training programme can be an effective tool that adds meaning to your corporate professional development. When you gather helpful information for the attendees of a company dinner, you can easily have this data transcribed into a format that you can use with new employees as well as seasoned veterans who need a refresher course from time to time. If you’ve ever tried to transcribe some of your own videos or audio recordings of discussions, interviews, or important meetings you know the importance of having quality sound that is clear and easily understood. When you decide to outsource your needs for transcriptions of your after dinner speeches, you should know some tips for creating good recordings so that the team of professionals working for you can do an excellent job quickly and efficiently. Let’s take a look at some guidelines for creating videos and audios that experts can use to develop accurate and reliable transcripts for your company.

  1. You should inform the attendees at the dinner that you are recording the session to be transcribed later; this will be their cue to avoid making noises with glasses and other eating utensils that may remain on the table. It is also a good idea to ask them to avoid talking or speaking when your speech is being recorded.
  2. Ask the staff at the dinner to keep the area free from background noise; be sure to turn off fans, buzzing lights, or other noisy features that can disrupt the quality of sound that you are getting. You will want to have all doors and windows closed to prohibit outside noises from permeating the room and remind the staff to fix any creaking chairs or tables if possible before your speech begins.
  3. Place the microphone in a good location and don’t move it around once your speech starts; transcription services professionals can provide you with a more accurate copy of your speech and any questions that are asked if they have a clear sound of your voice and the replies that you give to the attendees that can be shared with your employees in a written format after the speech has been transcribed.
  4. When your after dinner speech is ready to be transcribed, include your recording along with a copy of the acronyms used and any other spellings that are specific to your company; this will help the transcription services professional provide you with a more accurate copy for your records. When you speak with your transcriber after the job has been completed, it’s a good idea to ask for suggestions that can be implemented for your next after dinner speech. They will know how to improve the quality of your sound, how to eliminate more background noise, and what additional information they need to meet and exceed your expectations.

Providing a good recording for your transcription team to use will ensure that the final result you receive is accurate, reliable, and a credible account of the details of your meeting, training session, or presentation.…

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How You Can Enhance Your Businesses’ Reputation

Enhancing your businesses’ reputation is crucial to success. Often a business’s reputation precedes them and potential clients form judgements based on what they hear from others, so learning how to enhance yours is a worthwhile skill. Here are some top tips to help you improve your businesses reputation with ease:

Focus on quality

Focusing on improving the overall quality of your business is important when wanting to enhance your reputation. This could be improving the quality of the customer service you offer and things like working on staff training and customer relations could help to benefit this, or it could mean focusing on improving the quality of your product offering. This is easier to do in some trades than others, for example in the building trade using better quality tools like the ones from SGS can hugely improve the overall finish and quality of your products or in the online retail trade using an experienced courier can benefit your reputation more than using one of a poorer quality.

Work with the community 

One of the most common ways you can boost your businesses’ reputation is by working with your local community. This instantly makes you look like a more responsible employer and shows that you have an interest in working with the wider community to help develop the local area. There are a number of ways you can easily do this, such as by sponsoring a local football team or by donating to a local charity. You could even do some work in the community one day by litter picking or packing bags at the supermarket.

Review your social media 

Social media is one of the main ways that people find out about your business and where people go to read up on it. Its popularity is also one of the things that make it so dangerous if you get a bad review or negative feedback from a customer as it will remain there for all to see. By reviewing your posts and twitter feed to check for negative feedback and responding to this feedback by apologising or offering some kind of amends, you’ll begin to look like a much more responsible employer.

Working on enhancing your businesses reputation is really important and so easy to do. By following the above tips you’ll easily be able to build a better reputation as a reliable and good quality business, leading to more work and future success.…

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Business Etiquette in Brief: The Art of Business Conversation

How to Start & Sustain a Conversation:

  • Listen more than you speak-Ask open-ended questions that will require more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Be a good listener- Not sure whether or not the other person is done speaking?  A good rule of thumb is to count to two before opening up to speak.
  • Paraphrase- A good way to let others know that you’ve heard what they said is by reiterating the point.

Different Kinds of Talk:

  • Small Talk- While many people loathe small talk, it can be a great way to get a conversation going as well as break the ice if you’re meeting someone for the first time.
  • Medium Talk- This type of talk deals with information specific to a group.  For example, two employees might be having a conversation about the companies they represent while others may not be able to participate in the conversation.
  • Large Talk- Large talk deals with very specific information.

How to Gain Control of a Conversation:

  • Be open and friendly.
  • Take risks.
  • Be the first to say ‘Hello.”
  • Be genuinely interested in people.  They’ll be flattered and interested in you.
  • Be open to new ideas.
  • Accept people as they are.

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