What is the EX, or the employee experience, exactly? EX is not just about what it's like to work day-to-day in the office, and it's not about benefits, half-day Fridays, sleeping pods, beer fridges in the break room and other fun perks, though those things do enter into it. But EX is deeper and more meaningful than that. It's about truly engaging employees.
(BPT) - One of the latest business buzzwords this year is EX, or the employee experience. Organizations are beginning to realize that they need to create a positive employee experience in the same way they have focused on the customer experience. In this ever-tightening job market, it's mission critical to keep employees happy, fulfilled and challenged. Only then can they keep their customers happy. Focusing on EX means evaluating an employee's entire life cycle with the company, from before they even apply for a job to beyond their last day. It's so critical that Forbes even dubbed 2018 the Year of the Employee Experience.
What is the EX, exactly? EX is not just about what it's like to work day-to-day in the office, and it's not about benefits, half-day Fridays, sleeping pods, beer fridges in the break room and other fun perks, though those things do enter into it. But EX is deeper and more meaningful than that. It's about truly engaging employees. Employee engagement (EE) and EX are intertwined so closely they can be called one and the same.
The problem with EE: There's a disconnect
In a recent study, Dale Carnegie found that 70 percent of top executives believe that employee engagement has a strong impact on financial performance. In a similar study, Deloitte found that 85 percent of company leaders say EE is an important strategic priority, but Dale Carnegie found that just 31 percent of front-line employees and managers strongly agreed that their company is actually making engagement a top priority.
Clearly, there's a disconnect between what execs are saying and what employees are feeling. That's because there's a piece left out of this puzzle: the employees' managers.
The key to aligning executive priorities with what employees are experiencing lies in the management chain. Managers need to be enabled and empowered to engage their teams on a daily basis. It means getting managers the training they need to engage their teams, by making it a strategic priority and creating a culture of engagement. Dale Carnegie programs teach the skills managers need and can help organizations do the right things to increase overall employee engagement.
Ways to increase employee engagement
Focus on getting managers and supervisors the skills they need. Immediate supervisors and managers are on the front lines of employee engagement. Leaders at all levels need to understand that the way they interact with their employees and direct reports matters to the company's bottom line. Open a dialogue with managers about EE, and listen to what they're saying about what works and what doesn't, and if they're frustrated, give them the tools and training necessary for change.
Get CEO buy-in. If your CEO does not have employee engagement on his or her priority list, the effort is doomed to fail. Make sure the CEO has the facts on employee engagement, and the knowledge that it needs to start at the top. EE needs to be treated like any other strategic priority.
Align policies with EE. You need employee-supportive policies and procedures, such as a standard performance evaluation policy. But it also means changing policies that are barriers to engagement. Are there processes and procedures working at cross-purpose with engagement efforts? If so, change them. How are your rewards and recognition programs designed? What do you reward and recognize? Are they making your employees feel valued? It requires going through your policies with a critical eye, and the willingness to change what's not working.
Employee engagement needs to be on the top of the priority list for top executives, managers and supervisors, and that's no easy task. But in this ever-tightening job market, with greener grass just a click away on a job seeker's app, keeping all of your employees happy, engaged and fulfilled is the key to your company's competitive advantage.
Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
Take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
(BPT) - Small businesses are far more influential than most people may realize.
That influence is felt well beyond Main Street. Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., and these firms employ nearly half (48 percent) the workforce, according to the 2018 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In addition, take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
Big companies have big opportunities for small firms
Back in the 20th century, a large company would get things done in this very straightforward way. Wherever there was a need, they hired someone directly to perform that task, whether it was a driver or an accountant.
Under today’s leaner models, these big companies are finding it’s much more efficient to partner with other firms to fulfill certain needs. According to Deloitte, 31 percent of IT services have been outsourced, as well as 32 percent of human resources. This increasing acceptance of outsourcing is a huge growth opportunity for small businesses owners.
For example, Amazon recently announced it is actively seeking and helping entrepreneurs who are willing to deliver packages as their contractors. The mega retailer will even go as far as helping with startup costs so long as these smaller firms deliver their packages. Landing a contract with a big corporation is a significant milestone for any company, but starting out with that lucrative contract is sure to let these startups hit the ground running.
Better connections for greater flexibility
When today’s entrepreneur has a new role to fill, they’re not confined to the talent pool in their immediate community. Because we now have the tools and connectivity to work from anywhere, a business owner can expand the search across multiple states!
What’s more, these flexible, work from anywhere options can give business owners the inspiration to do things differently. Having greater collaboration means having access to more options to fit specific needs.
For example, what is the very nature of being a small business owner? It’s dealing with a fluctuating volume of work. Tapping into the talent pool of freelancers to work on these specific, short-term tasks and projects is easier than ever, because for a segment of workers, freelancing is increasingly becoming a way of life. Freelancers currently make up 36 percent of the workforce, according to a study from Upwork. And, if trends maintain, most Americans will be freelancers by 2027.
Thanks to remote options with easy access to talent, small businesses can easily set up temporary or ongoing as-needed work arrangements. When you partner with Dell for your computing needs, you’ll get the expert help and support so you can set up the perfect flexible workspace system.
More automation brings better efficiencies
Without a doubt, new technology works in favor of small businesses and entrepreneurs because they have many tools at their disposal to automate labor intensive processes, be more productive and cut costs. For example, entrepreneurs can use software to process client payments and even set up automated payments, saving hours and costs associated with collecting, processing and reconciling under the traditional paper check payment system. That translates into a more efficient billing department that can spend more time focused on complex issues.
Let Dell equip your small business with the right tech tools, tailor made for your venture and backed with support, so you can focus on running your business.
How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business. Where can entrepreneurs turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
(BPT) - How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business.
Growth is one of the biggest indicators of small business success. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 500,000 businesses have between 20 and 99 employees as of 2014. These established businesses are in the upper end of growth but have not yet met the threshold of being a medium business. In fact, 39 percent of growing companies — between three to five years old and seeking more than $100,000 — consider accessibility to capital their greatest concern. It’s during this stage businesses typically are faced with growth challenges.
Where can they turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
1. Lines of credit
Lines of credit, provided by online lending platforms like Kabbage, offer established businesses in all industries the flexibility and convenience of accessible capital.
With Kabbage there are no fees to apply for a line of credit or annual costs to access funding. Small businesses don’t pay a thing to see for how much their business can qualify. Kabbage offers access to lines of credit up to $250,000, helping small to mid-market businesses access funding for operational costs and strategic investments like cash flow needs, purchasing specialized equipment, business expansions and launching high-growth marketing projects. There are also no obligations in how much a business is required to take. Businesses can take the amount they need from the line of credit when they need it, with no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties.
Lines of credit are faster and more flexible than traditional loans. In fact, Kabbage offers a loan application that can be finished in minutes — even through a mobile app — eliminating the time usually spent waiting in lines or filling out numerous forms.
2. Merchant cash advances
Some established businesses turn to a merchant cash advance (MCA) due to lower credit ratings, not having enough assets to provide as collateral, short-term financing needs or the flexible repayment terms.
Essentially, an MCA is an advance on future credit card payments. The cash advance is decided upon by the funding company, with the specific amount being paid back in full plus fees and interest.
With merchant cash advances, borrowers pay a set percentage of their credit card sales and make payments every time they receive credit card payments from clients.
3. Invoice factoring
Invoice factoring is another funding option established businesses use in lieu of bank loans. Factoring is the process of selling accounts receivables to a financing company for immediate cash.
Factoring helps businesses receive cash much faster than waiting for clients to pay their invoices. The financing company, known as the “factor,” pays the business the majority of the invoice upfront. Once the business receives payment from the client, they send those funds to the factor. The factor then pays the remaining percentage to the business.
Factors are more concerned with the financial health of the business’s clients rather than the business itself. These companies collect directly from a company’s clients and customers, sometimes requiring payment history validation from the business. A benefit of factoring is not assuming debt for money received; however, if clients are not creditworthy, you may not receive funding.
To maximize this growth, consider looking online at www.kabbage.com/yes to learn about and find new options that fit your business. Merchant cash advances, invoice factoring, and lines of credit are three alternative solutions that help growing businesses go beyond traditional financing methods.
(BPT) - Small businesses still struggle to obtain credit; nearly half of those who applied for credit in 2016 didn’t get all the funding they sought, and 17 percent of those who didn’t apply for financing skipped it because they didn’t think they could get what they needed, according to the Federal Reserve Banks’ Small Business Credit Survey. However, a growing number of small businesses are turning to alternative sources of financing.
“The process for accessing and receiving funding can be slow and cumbersome and alternative forms of lending are greatly helping to improve the availability of financing for small business owners,” says Jacqueline Reses, head of Square Capital. "Ensuring that the financial system is more inclusive and addresses the needs of small business owners who may have been previously underserved by traditional lenders is paramount."
The Federal Reserve study has shown steadily increasing numbers of small businesses, with annual revenues of less than $1 million, seeking financing through non-traditional sources such as online lenders. In 2014, just 18 percent applied to online lenders, while in 2016, 21 percent did.
As the alternative lending industry continues to grow, small business owners should keep five points in mind when evaluating loan offers, Reses says:
Total payback amount of a loan
Knowing how much a loan is going to cost isn't always easy. For a small business owner, being able to see exactly how much you will need to repay and accounting for that in your budget is crucial, and you should always look for transparency. Total payback amount is the dollar value that represents all costs, so business owners know exactly what they will owe over the life of the loan.
Businesses should look for this when they assess loan offers. Assessing offers solely on other metrics like APR may not always provide a fair or easy comparison.
The ease of repayment is also important to consider and there are some unique options available to small businesses looking for flexibility when it comes to repayment. With Square Capital for example, a fixed repayment amount is automatically deducted from the business’s daily card sales processed through Square until the loan is repaid, enabling the business to pay more when things are busy and less if things slow down. Businesses also have the opportunity to repay early and without penalty at any time before the end of the loan term.
Traditional small business loans can take weeks to process from the time you collect all the paperwork to apply, to the time you actually get approved, to when you see the money in your account. Yet, according to the Fed's survey, the majority of small businesses that applied for credit in 2016 did so in situations where time was a factor; 64 percent wanted to expand their business or take advantage of a new opportunity, and 45 percent needed the money to cover operating expenses.
While some funding sources have a reputation for being faster to approve, getting the money can still take time small business owners don’t have. Others have been able to tackle both of those challenges. For example, Square Capital can see the health of a small business based on its sales and transaction data, allowing it to evaluate the business's stability and actual ability to repay over time. With this unique insight, it can assess eligibility for a loan and deliver offers right to the small business owner. From there, an application takes as little as a few clicks to complete and once approved, funds are deposited as quickly as the next business day.
Business owners may know how much they need, but be less aware of what size loan they can afford. It's important to accept a loan offer that your business can repay within a reasonable time period while also helping it grow.
Square Capital's ability to use unique data to assess the eligibility of a business for a loan also enables it to provide access to loan offers tailored to a business's cash flow, reducing the risk of businesses borrowing more than they can afford to repay. Loans are sized based on a reasonable projected payback period so that a small business can use its funds to grow and not be stuck in debt for extended time periods.
Before applying for credit from any lender, it’s important to do your research. Know how they present their offers, look for transparency and flexibility that puts the borrower first and understand customer satisfaction and lender dependability. Working with a trusted brand is important to many small business owners and should be to you as well.
While online lenders are opening up access to the financing small businesses need to run and grow, it's important to do your homework and carefully determine which financial partner best meets the needs of your business. To learn more about small business loans through Square Capital, visit www.squareup.com/capital.
If you’ve ever wondered how national food brands are promoted, now’s your chance to dive into the history of some exciting public relations campaigns through a PR pioneer’s candid tell-all that offers tips, tales of successes and mishaps, and insights gained from publicizing a large variety of clients.
A Historical View of Food Publicity
(Family Features) If you’ve ever wondered how national food brands are promoted, now’s your chance to dive into the history of some exciting public relations campaigns. “Adventures in PR,” a new book from PR pioneer Leo Pearlstein, offers an insightful and informative perspective on the history of food publicity. In his book, Pearlstein recounts a number of interesting adventures – both good and bad – with classic movie and television celebrities over the past 60 years, and shows readers how to apply these experiences to their own business activities.
When Pearlstein founded Lee & Associates, Inc. Marketing in 1950, he had no idea he would one day be referred to as a "Legend of Food PR.” Over the years, Pearlstein, who personally supervises all phases of the agency's operations and members of his firm, has won numerous awards for outstanding accomplishments in food-industry public relations, marketing and merchandising from many organizations.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers, food conglomerates and major corporations have called on Pearlstein's expertise in corporate communications. He pioneered California agricultural commodity and generic promotions, and created and supervised successful programs for more than 40 different food advisory boards, trade associations and co-ops, as well as state and federally funded marketing groups. And, because of his great knowledge of food, Pearlstein was invited to participate in the first President's Council on Nutrition at the White House.
Pearlstein's candid tell-all offers tips, tales of both successes and mishaps, and insights gained from publicizing a large variety of clients. “Adventures in PR” also contains many historic photos and behind-the-scenes stories with stars such as Jayne Mansfield, Abbott and Costello, Steve Allen and others. Anyone interested in the PR industry – or foodies wanting to know how national brands are promoted – will find this book an enjoyable read.
“My stories are about adventures that happened as a result of opportunities” Pearlstein said. “There were two types of opportunities. If something happened in the press, we would see if we could react with positive information that would be complimentary to our client. There were also opportunities that we could create by working with someone else and including their product information with our messages. We call them ‘tie-ins.’ We would share costs for media and production, or we would include their product in our recipes and they would include our product in theirs. We would both benefit with increased exposure without additional costs.”
For more information about “Adventures in PR,” visit adventuresinpr.com.
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