4 Helpful Tricks Your Startup Could Be Using

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When starting a business, you often see your fair share of challenges. You want to bring in the best talent while, get an edge over the current competition, and so forth. So how can you do this and lead a successful business?

Below are a few seemingly small things that can make a big difference.

1) Get your elevator speech down pat.

An elevator speech is a short, effective explanation of what your company does. Having a quick and effective mantra means to explain to anyone you meet exactly what you do and what value it offers them allows you to take advantage of brief social encounters to spread the word and possibly get noticed by the right people. However, the most important reason to develop your elevator speech is for the mental clarity it will give you. It is a small investment that pays big dividends.

2) Know when to hire and when to do the job yourself.

In the early days, you may have to do most things yourself. However, you need to guard against being penny wise and pound foolish. Hire the job out when doing it yourself will cost you money or opportunities or when hiring an expert will grow your business. Some experts make sense to hire in the early days. A little of their expertise can be critical to making the business work.

3) Use your small size and ability to be nimble to your advantage.

Make sure you understand how your small size can be an asset. One way a small company has an advantage over a large, established company is speed. Your small company can resolve customer concerns swiftly or put projects and programs in place quickly, sometimes before a big company has even put it through their chain of command.

4) Work to acquire enough customers to weather change.

If you have a startup and you provide service for one or two large companies, you may have plenty of work to do and adequate revenue, but may have less security. If that company’s needs change and they stop using your services, you can be suddenly in big trouble. Consider how your business will be affected if one of your major customers leaves.

Starting a company is certainly a lot of work but good information and the right support can help lead you towards a successful business.








10 Ways to Hold on to Great Employees

Large corporations, entrepreneurs, and startups increasingly struggle to retain great employees. They see the same cycle repeat over and over again: an energetic new employee comes on productive and full of new ideas for several months, but after the first eighteen months the employee stops taking initiative, their attendance and reliability changes and their work quality suffers. They aren’t likely to make it to the three year mark without leaving for another position elsewhere. What can employers do to retain the talent they worked so hard to bring into the company and keep them happy?

1. Provide ample opportunities for training and support self-improvement.
There are many types of training and you need to offer options that meet the learning styles of different employees. This means you may bring in training consultants to do department or company-wide group trainings, you may need to send employees out for training or you may need to help employees arrange one-on-one or online training. Everyone learns differently and providing training that works for your employees will go a long way towards showing them your respect their current skills and are investing in them to stay up-to-date. Knowing they have potential with the company is a great motivator.

2. Provide your employees the tools they need to do their job.

Most frequently this is about investing in sufficient technology, but it also means have the other supplies and tools they need to be able to efficiently and effectively do their tasks. Employees become frustrated quickly if they don’t have what they need to complete the things you ask for.

3. Be transparent about your company and their role in the future.
From the outset, be honest about expected company growth, how and when you expect the employee’s role to change and if you need flexibility or willingness to remain in one position for some time. Don’t sell them grand ideas of a rapid rise to management. If your department is reliant on funding be honest about the timeframe that you have secured funding for and efforts you are making to ensure sustainable funding. Part of retaining talent is bringing in someone who knows what they can really expect, and you’ll find that employee engagement flourishes when your hire feels they are getting the truth.

4. Provide growth opportunities and promote internally.
Make sure your employees know you value them and want them to stay. Like training, opportunities to grow into other positions motivates an employee to give their best. They will stay if you can offer them more than someone else can.

5. Structure salaries to remain competitive and don’t forgo raises.
Be competitive in your field and location, and make sure you give annual and cost of living increases. Nothing loses a talented employee faster than feeling underpaid and unappreciated.

6. Maintain one-on-one and open communication.
Direct supervisors should have scheduled meetings one-on-one with staff to discuss goals for the position and give the employee a chance to alert them to any concerns they have. Open door communication also helps your employees to feel safe to come to you if they feel overwhelmed or have any issues with completing their work.

7. Respect their personal time.
Respect that your employees have lives away from work and honor that the same way you would want them to honor your personal time. This is an especially fine line to walk in a start up setting. Among other things, improving the culture of your startup can start by trying to strike some form of work life balance, although hours simply can’t be as steady and predictable as an established company.

8. Provide and encourage the use of paid time off.
Your employees need to recharge and time away from work is essential to keep things in perspective. Provide a reasonable paid time off or vacation policy and encourage them to use the time they have accrued. Be thoughtful that if you sense an employee is unhappy, it may be a good time for them to take a week off, but address it in a way that doesn’t make them feel their job is at risk or like it is a paid suspension.

9. Take their ideas serious and give them the credit and appreciation.
When employees are new, they bring fresh energy and ideas to the table. It only takes being told “we’ve tried that, it didn’t work” a few times or having someone else get the credit for their brilliant idea for them to stop offering anything. This takes a toll on their morale and impacts their work overall.

10. Create a diverse, inclusive and culturally competent environment.
Ensure that you have policies both in your hiring and promoting as well as in how you address gender, racial and other identities. Create fair policies that ensure everyone feels safe, respected and confident that they are being judged on their professional merits and nothing more. This is one of the biggest issues facing employers today, as many provide policies but their employees that feel they are being harassed or discriminated against also do not feel that they can trust the issues to be resolved and simply look for a more inclusive environment to move to.








Dashboard Behind the Wheel: Better Data for Better Decision-Making

Focused on slaying alligators rather than draining swamps, companies large and small are migrating toward SaaS (software as a service) enterprises. Businesses want to focus human capital resources (executive to working level) on fulfilling missions rather than maintaining expensive centralized on-site computing hardware, software, voluminous data and security responsibilities. Value is in performance and productivity, not cost. Cloud computing gives companies the latest software and data analyses on demand through measured services with flexibility in metrics. Dashboards allow businesses to take data management a leap further, and entrepreneurs and companies are embracing this new technology.

One for Many

In a world where time and information are money, SaaS companies are serving every industry, including finance, real estate, manufacturing, storage, distribution, medicine, science, the arts and human talent.

Companies are turning to cloud computing and data gathering to gather insights about their own internal workings and using that data to provide data driven customized training to their employees with huge increases in productivity and efficiency.

These companies specialize in offering levels of connectivity, standardization and real-time transparency through customizable data dashboards that track and display metrics tailored to specific users. Best of all, companies have invested heavily in ensuring systems are user-friendly, even for novices. Tour various SaaS dashboard offerings, and prominent website promises of simplicity abound: design your own, drag and drop, point and click, user-friendly charts, graphics, messaging, seamless interface and what-if visualizations. Key points are easy access to living data and sophisticated tools to use it in achieving business objectives.

Levels and Levels

Much of the dashboard’s utility is recognition that data must serve many masters in many ways, but boundaries remain necessary. In his article “3 Dashboards Every SaaS Company Should Maintain,” Intronis CEO Rick Faulk suggests three functional levels: a financial dashboard, one for management and one specifically for the board of directors. Each dashboard’s metrics display would be tailored to user-appropriate levels, allowing current data sharing yet protecting sensitive information. The three levels correspond with operational, tactical and strategic viewpoints and apply to small and large businesses alike.

Executive View. Dashboard tools offer executives quickly digestible pictures of an organization’s cash flow, customer count and churn, and other selected statistics. Analytic summaries include the vital ability to drill down, parse levels of data, cross-analyze disparate data sources and visualize analyses in correlative graphics. Such a dashboard can provide centralized overviews of marketing expenditures for the past x days, for example, or plot high-level expenses versus yield for the past 18 months. Any anomalies or dips can be explored to pinpoint specific causes and afford timely resolution. Strategic and operational views allow executives and investors to monitor company performance at a glance in terms of high-level metrics.

Employee View. At working level, many companies are finding that dashboard use builds organization cohesiveness and mission clarity. Listen to employee dashboard users, and striking are issues of responsiveness, connectivity and organizational awareness. The dashboard is a constant reminder of mission objectives, interim progress, and personal and professional accountability. Individuals can track how they are fulfilling team expectations. Teams can monitor their own progress against that of others. With open communication, fewer efforts are duplicative or off-track, and everyone has access to pertinent scheduling milestones, as well as necessary data.

Everyone Everywhere

With cloud-based dashboards, businesses enjoy the benefit of access from any device, no longer tied to on-site-only data access. Telecommuting without issues of discontinuity becomes possible. Teams or individuals can deploy off-site and maintain ready access to live data and data management tools through laptops, tablets, smart phones or other personal devices. If clients or collaborative partners raise prospective questions, data, analytical tools and answers are at hand.

Uses for dashboards are endless. Why is one team more productive than another? Why is a large facility trailing a much smaller one in profit yield? What are projected expenses for expansion, and how will that impact company resources? How many customers has a company gained? Where did it gain them? What was cost per customer?

Outlook

As in any industry, those companies who consistently offer the best products to the most businesses will survive and grow. As more companies and even government entities rely on SaaS companies and incorporate dashboards into their corporate culture, dashboards will become the standard, attracting greater investment and talent. SaaS company dashboard data management tools represent opportunity for tremendous powerhouses to develop and may, due to their decentralized nature, reduce significant data breach risk. External hackers, phishers and even employees within an organization remain threats, but for most organizations, benefits far outweigh risks.

Sophisticated customized data management tools have much to offer: convenient visualization of tailored analyses from disparate sources to answer important questions about what path a business must take.  Dashboards are moving the business world further toward that ideal of one-stop, all-encompassing data management for decision-making, from the highest, strategic levels to sales representatives on the street. Secure data collection, manipulation and management will forever drive the information technology industry.