Board Software Transforms Your Meetings

Board Software Transforms Your Meetings

Board meetings are rarely high up on anyone’s list of favorite activities, as even the directors who sit on them complain about how long and tedious they can be. The work of the board is essential, overseeing management and providing organizations, businesses, government agencies, and financial institutions with direction and strategy. That should be compelling stuff, but director engagement remains a challenge for many.

Enter the board portal: a board software solution that digitizes board documents and puts collaborative tools in directors’ hands that they can use between meetings. Board software is the tool that can make meetings more efficient, more focused, and revive engagement by offering a few key features.

Easy Updates – At the heart of board software is an easy solution to the problem of distributing board books and other documents. Back in the days of paper board books, administrators would struggle to keep every director informed of the latest updates, especially when documents or financial reports were updated last minute. It cost a fortune to courier everything to directors who could be anywhere in the world at any given minute. Today, electronic board books are much more common, but board portal software offers superior security compared to other file sharing methods, especially as many have become popular tools for masking cybercrime attacks.

Collaboration Between Meetings – Board software should come with tools that make it easy for directors to do their job in between meetings. For example, annotation tools are used in Aprio Boardroom, a leading board software solution, that let directors mark up documents either with private notes or to share with their peers. Everyone knows that when an idea strikes, you can’t wait until the next meeting. If you want to develop a more thorough conversation, you have to be able to work in between meetings.

Another great feature of Aprio is the freedom to vote remotely with an electronic signature. It helps boards make more time for key decisions, as the freedom to vote remotely means matters like agreeing on minutes can be dealt with beforehand.

Desktop and Tablet – Flexibility is key for directors who regularly travel and split their responsibilities. Any board software you consider should be compatible on Android, Apple, and Windows tablets, as well as offer offline access to documents.

For many organizations, board portals are already standard, but if you’ve been using this transformative technology already, consider how the industry has changed over the last few years. If your board’s contract with your current board software vendor needs to be renewed, now may be a good time to reassess. In the early days of board software, portals offering better security – the kind of security required by financial institutions, health agencies, and Fortune 500 companies – came at a premium. Those security options are now no longer so expensive, though some portal vendors are still charging higher rates. You can learn more about how security has changed, and become more accessible for all, at Aprio.net and exploring their options for board software. Whether your board’s contract is up or you haven’t yet made the shift to secure electronic board books, do your due diligence, request several demos from vendors, and be sure to compare products based on customer support, security, and price.

Your Reputation Should Be Your Number One Concern

Your Reputation Should Be Your Number One Concern

If you want to be able to do business online, you have to make sure that you keep your name visible to potential customers. But you also have to make sure that what people see is positive. This is why SEO and branding is hugely important, but reputation management should be your top priority.

Building a Positive Reputation

Before any of your marketing and SEO efforts can pay off, people have to recognize your brand as a trustworthy and authority source. Once you have established that reputation, you have to make sure it is maintained as well. If you are a new business, your first step should be, therefore, to create positive content and to nurture this as much as possible. This is a lot of hard work, particularly since the world is so competitive nowadays. Customer service has to be your top priority, as this will help to build your positive reputation.

You simply cannot leave this as an afterthought. If you do, any other effort you engage in to build trust won’t work, and you will end up having to invest heavily in damage control. Hence, reputation management should be your first important action if you want your business to succeed.

You Need Positive Feedback

Every business wants to have happy, satisfied customers. Your goal should be to make them talk about that, however, thereby building your reputation. You can achieve that in a variety of different ways. Firstly, you need to list any products you sell on websites that allow for reviews, such as Amazon. Secondly, you need to have a Facebook business page with review options switched on. Thirdly, you need to make sure your website has a customer feedback form included on it. Last but not least, you should list on local directory sites, such as Yelp and Google My Business, again ensuring that people can find you and talk about you. You should also make sure that you link to all of these pages on your website, your social media accounts, and any online communication and newsletters you send out.

Stand Out with Reputation Management

You must pay very close attention to what is said about you, so you can truly benefit from it. Indeed, you can even benefit from negative comments, so long as you address them properly. If someone looks you up and sees a negative review, but then also sees that you have tried to remedy the issue, they will be far more forgiving. They old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” continues to ring true today.

You may feel confused about choosing a marketing plan that works for you, and that is no surprise considering everything is suddenly online, competition is fierce, and changes are made on a daily basis. But if you take reputation management as your starting point, and consider that everything you do online is to give people the opportunity to see you in a positive light, you will come a long way.

Some Considerations to Make if You Use Email in Your Business

Some Considerations to Make if You Use Email in Your Business

Email conversations can be professional or just a bit of fun. Either way, it is information that comes out of your head, which means that you own it. Not just that, you may even suddenly find that you actually need it again, at which point you have to be able to find it somewhere among the thousands of emails you have sent. That is when you suddenly find you need email archive solutions.

These solutions are in place to make sure you are compliant with a range of different federal regulations. Those have been put in place to make sure businesses comply with e-discovery requests, and they have a legal obligation to be able to do that. But organizations have multiple employees, who all send hundreds of emails a day. So how is it possible to find anything in among all of that?

Why Are Email Archiving Strategies Needed?

Different regulations have put rules in place in terms of how long emails have to be stored. Consider, for instance, that you probably come into work on a Monday morning to around 200 unread messages, and you will start to understand the volume of this task. Yet, you have to keep all of those messages somehow because you could face some very serious penalties if you didn’t.

Some of the risks you run by not having email archiving solutions include:

  • Hefty financial penalties.
  • Imprisonment.
  • Having to settle in lawsuits because you cannot provide the necessary information.
  • Losing a lawsuit because you cannot evidence your point of view.
  • Loss of intellectual property.

One of the worst offenses you can commit is destroying emails that do not go in your favor. This is classed as obstruction of justice and can lead to your imprisonment. Not just that, in a litigation, you will be presumed guilty for destroying the evidence.

When someone provides you with an e-discovery request, you only have a limited amount of time to present the evidence they have requested. This means that you have to have solutions in place that allow you to quickly and accurately retrieve information. Email archiving solutions can do this, and you even have three options to choose from. Those are:

  1. On-site solutions.
  2. Hosted solutions.
  3. Cloud solution.

There are a few things you need to consider to help you choose between these different solutions, including:

  1. Is the solution cost-effective? Generally speaking, having a solution on site is the most expensive, because it means you also have to run, operate, maintain, and update the service. Cloud storage is usually the cheapest.
  2. Is the solution reliable? If it is unstable, clunky, or regularly crashes, you still won’t be able to comply with e-discovery requests.

E-discovery and email archiving may sound complex, but it isn’t all that bad. Once you have the right solution in place for your needs, it basically runs itself. Just make sure you spend some time comparing the available options to get the right one.

4 Tips to Fostering a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Business Owner

4 Tips to Fostering a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Business Owner

Running a business is hard work. Lots of business owners struggle finding a good balance between their work and home life, as many tend to be “work-aholics”.

After all, that mindset and drive is likely what led them to owning and managing a business. But, at the same time, it can wreak havoc on quality of life outside work.

Plus, burnout can happen, and no one can operate a business effectively at their wit’s end.

If you’re looking to find a healthy work-life balance, below are 4 tips you should try.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are important in many different facets of your life, but they are especially important in your work life.

Business owners and other entrepreneurs tend to work 24-7, foregoing evening and weekend activities in lieu of squeezing in a few extra hours of work. That’s no way to live.

When you stop to consider the longer term effects of working around the clock, you’ll realize that it’s simply not sustainable. Sooner or later, your body will break down and you’ll be forced to take a break, if not step away forever.

Setting strict work hours and times for people to contact you about work-related issues is a great start to fostering a healthy work-life balance.

Schedule Time to Do Things You Love

With your boundaries set, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have outside of work.

It’s super important to get involved in hobbies and doing things you enjoy to boost mood and even improve your work life, too.

No matter how small the activity, if you enjoy it, do more of it.

Like to go rock climbing but haven’t in a while? Schedule a trip.

Enjoy vaping on your breaks to take the edge off? Go buy the best ejuice you can find and get after it.

The key to a happier life is doing things you love, so it only makes sense that it would be critical in creating an effective work-life balance.

Hire Well and Delegate

If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll end up doing some things fairly well, but most things really poorly. Plus, you’ll work long hours and drive yourself crazy.

It’s important to know your limits and be able to determine tasks that are critical for you to perform, and those which can be handled by someone else.

In a small business of one, that means reaching outside your company for help from freelancers or virtual assistants. If you are lucky enough to have employees, then learn how to delegate appropriately.

Ask for Help

If you’ve done all of the above and you’re still drowning, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people have at least one person they can turn to who would be more than glad to step in and give aid to a friend or family member in need.

Or, consider hiring a business mentor – someone who has been in your shoes before and has made it through successfully.

Asking for help isn’t considered a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage and intelligence.

Closing Thoughts

Work-life balance doesn’t just affect you, it affects everyone around you. Use the tips above to run your business effectively while maintaining a healthy personal life.

Why It’s Important to Invest in Your Employees Training and Education

Why It’s Important to Invest in Your Employees Training and Education

Do you look for ways to continually improve your employee’s skills and increase their working knowledge? If not, your business could be losing out and it could affect the success of your organization. However, by investing in your employee’s education and training, your business could benefit in many different ways. Below are some of the reasons why it’s important to invest in employee training and education.

Employees Get Better at Their Jobs

In most cases, a business is only as good as the people who work in it. If your employees are highly skilled, they are more likely to be more efficient and they will produce higher quality work. For example, if you want certain members of your business to lead and carry out business functions on your company’s behalf, they should have completed a relevant business course such as the online MBA degree. Once your employees have completed a business course like the masters in business administration online program, they will have much more confidence in their ability and possess the tools required to do their jobs much better.

Employees Become Leaders Themselves

You should view your business as a well-oiled machine where teamwork is a priority. However, for any team to function properly, you need a number of different leaders. Training and educating your staff members will make it more likely that leaders emerge who will ensure that your business becomes a much more professional outfit.

It Improves Morale

Most people want to feel appreciated and they also want to feel that they are an important part of a business. Sending your employees on regular training courses is a clear indication that you want them to keep improving at their jobs and that they have a key role to play in your organization. This, in turn, is almost certain to motivate your employees and increase the likelihood that they will become much more efficient and professional and show more loyalty to you and your business, unlike employees who are neglected by their employers.

It Enhances Your Business Reputation

If people and organizations outside of your business realize how much you invest in your employee training and education, this will enhance your business’s reputation in different ways. Other companies and individuals will want to deal with you because of your professional approach to this area of your business and high caliber workers will want to join your company.

It Increases Overall Efficiency and Profitability in Your Business

Ultimately, a business has to make money and a highly educated workforce gives you a much better chance to do this. Fewer mistakes will be made, there should be less waste and more people and businesses will want to buy your products or services, so your bottom line should look a lot healthier when you invest in your employee’s education and training.

There are many good reasons to invest in your employee’s education and training. Once you do make this investment, it should pay you back.

The world is a better place to be than 30 years ago – here’s why

The world is a better place to be than 30 years ago – here’s why

Let’s be honest – 2017 hasn’t been the greatest year so far. At the rate things are going, many are beginning to wonder whether the world is about to take a prolonged turn for the worse.

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have increased instability, with news media contemplating some truly dark scenarios for the days ahead.

Taken with their usual breathless coverage of the latest terrorist event or mass shooting, it is easy to conclude that something really bad is about to happen.

Before this pessimism leads you down a very dark path, remember this: the media makes its money by amplifying negative stories, as their urgent nature cuts to the core of our primeval brains.

John Bradberry Charlotte NC instead chooses to focus on the progress that we have made over the years. A born optimist, he believes in a future that is mostly bright, despite the serious issues we all face.

If you can’t see how things have gotten better, we’ll make it our mission in this post to show you how our planet has become a better place over the past 30 years, and how it is poised to become better still over the next generation.

1) Peace is winning the battle against war

We might get laughed out the room in some quarters for suggesting this, but it’s true. Cable news viewers are among the biggest dismissers of this premise, as their favorite medium shows them non-stop conflicts, terror attacks, and premonitions of chaos to come.

When you look at actual hard stats, though, the number of hot wars is at an all-time low. Despite the non-stop coverage ISIS has been getting, there have been fewer victims of terror each year since 9/11. At home, violent criminality has been on a constant downward trend since 1990.

Things have been getting better, and by all indications, people around the world are continuing to lay down their arms and choose peace, understanding, and reconciliation over death and destruction. 

2) Hunger is becoming less of an issue worldwide

The late 20th century was a dark time, as close to 20% of us couldn’t get enough to eat on a regular basis.

Africa was particularly hard hit by drought at this time, as they were overly dependent on primitive farming techniques that didn’t provide nearly enough food for their exploding population.

Then, something magical happened. From 1990 to 2017, the modernization of food production induced a drop in the number of malnourished people worldwide from 1 billion to 800 million.

With 7 billion humans calling Earth home in 2017, only 11.4% worldwide suffer from malnutrition as we speak.

With continued advances in crop yields and by filling irrigation canals with ever cheaper desalinated water, this number will continue to sink towards zero in the coming decades.

3) Poverty may be eradicated within the next generation

Of all the problems we face in this life, not having the cash to buy basic essentials is among the biggest. Poverty is responsible for a myriad of issues like lowered life expectancy, land pollution, epidemic levels of violent and property crime, and many others.

As such, providing everyone with the food, water, housing, clothing, and education they need has the potential to transform society dramatically for the better.

We have made significant progress on this file over the past 30 years, as only 17% of people around the world languished in abject poverty in 2012.

The next 30 years may see the end of this scourge once and for all. AI (artificial intelligence) and automation will drive down costs to unprecedented lows, while UBI (Universal Basic Income) will provide every citizen with a stipend sufficent enough to cover basic needs.

Top Tips To Help You Believe In Your New Business

Top Tips To Help You Believe In Your New Business

My buddy David J Turlington and myself very often head around the country giving motivational speeches at business seminars and answering questions from business owners and those who are interested in a career in business. I have been doing this for a few years now and occasionally I will see the same people who I saw some years ago. The one thing that always strikes me in this situation is ‘why’? The reason for this is because usually these are the people who came to me and told me that they had a great idea and they wanted to know how to execute. Worryingly, when I speak to these people again, they are yet to get things up and running.

I thought about this for some time, the reasons behind why people don’t move forward with their idea for a business and the key them that I keep coming back to is a lack of belief. For that reason I wanted to offer a few tips on how to overcome a lack of belief in your new business, and go ahead and get it off the ground.

Ignorance

If you have naysayers around you who do not think that you have got what it takes or that you do not have a strong enough idea for business, you need to be belligerent and ignore them. This is not always easy and the best way to work out who to ignore and who’s constructive criticism to listen to is to see how they are telling you, is it from a standpoint of jealousy or nastiness? If so then cut those people out of your life and push on regardless. If you cannot stomach the necessary criticism now, you won’t do very well when you get into business.

Lose Fear

What are you afraid of? Sit down and make a list of all of the worst case scenarios, you will find that there are actually very few and financial failure is probably about as bad as it can get. Nobody will die if you fail at business and you life will not be over,  highlight the fears that you have and tackle them head on.

Obstacles

If you are truly passionate about your idea and you think that it can be a success then you need to hold on to this and use it to defeat any obstacles that are in your path. Once again, write a list of the obstacles that stand in your way and that make a strategic plan as to how you will overcome each and every one of them. Many people fail to focus on what their obstacles actually are, they just have it in their mind that they exist. If you can actually detail what the things are that are standing in your way then you can own them, beat them and stop them from preventing you form believing in yourself.

Three Ways to Streamline Your Business

Three Ways to Streamline Your Business

In today’s business climate, companies large and small alike can ill-afford the excessive inefficiencies that come from poor management. There are numerous ways of reducing your company’s waste and streamlining your operations, and any areas you can identify for improvement are worth exploring. Here, we look at three of the most popular and efficient means of streamlining a business. The specific steps will depend on the type of business you run, but the broad steps outlined below are applicable to just about any kind of business.

Automation

Automation is a big part of any streamlining initiative and, as the name suggests, involves automating as many tasks as possible so that they can be completed without tying down a member of your staff and taking up valuable and unnecessary time. If you have any talented programmers on staff this is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of their skills and provide them with a new challenge. You should consider which administrative tasks your company is currently doing that could easily be done by a specially designed program; data entry tasks are always good targets for automation.

Invest in New Skills for Existing Employees

When looking at gaps in your team’s skillset, consider whether it would be more economical and a better long-term investment to train an existing employee with the necessary skills rather than hiring from the outside. An increasing number of companies are finding themselves with employees who hold degrees and other training that they are not currently deploying. Many of these employees represent a huge missed opportunity in terms of a potential pool from which an employer can draw talent.

Online degrees are a cost-effective method of investing in your staff over the long term. For example, if you are operating a relatively small business whose accounting needs are simple, you could consider selecting an employee to undertake an online masters in accounting degree. An online MSA program will equip your staff member with the necessary skills to carry out accounting for your business. Other good degrees to consider are coding and programming, which will assist in automation, as well as degrees relating to skills such as marketing that you would often have to outsource.

Make Data Work for You

Data is one of the most powerful tools modern businesses have at their disposal, allowing you to learn about your employees, your company, and your company’s performance and efficiency. Data analytics is the science of analyzing and interpreting data and while you will need to get the permission of the relevant parties to collect data on them, you should consider hiring a data analytics firm to help you identify if and how you can use data collection and analysis to your advantage. Data mining is the process of obtaining data and generally it is most efficient to do this in a passive and broad manner.

Streamlining your business needs to be part of an ongoing process of constant review and evaluation. In this way, you can build new ideas upon old ones and grow and evolve your strategy.

Starting a Consulting Service- Building Credibility

Starting a Consulting Service- Building Credibility

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In a previous article, we talked about several business ideas you can test over a weekend. There are plenty of opportunities to explore, especially in today’s growing market. Aside from developing your own mobile app and starting a service company based on market demand, you can also offer consulting services.

Aside from skills and experience, there is one crucial equity you need to jumpstart your consulting firm: credibility. Developing credibility is not something that can be done overnight, but the tips we are about to discuss in this article will help you get started right away.

Credentials

One of the first things you need to do to start developing your credibility as a consultant is gathering credentials to support your skills and expertise. You may already have certificates and degrees that back your expertise in a specific field; these are great starting points to build on.

Of course, you can also choose to pursue a higher degree in the specific field of your choice to earn more credibility. If you want to open a public relations consulting firm, for example, pursuing an online public relations degree is a good investment to make.

I said an online degree because online degrees are easier to access, more affordable, and equally valuable compared to offline degrees. Reputable universities such as George Washington University are making their online SPR program – and programs in other fields – widely accessible.

These are accredited programs, so you can rest assured knowing that your master’s degree will be just as valuable as an offline degree. In fact, online courses are usually more in line with market demands, so you will also pick up relevant new skills along the way.

Online Presence

The next important ingredient to add is an online presence. You can’t expect to reach success in today’s market without having and maintaining a strong online presence. Establishing a strong social media presence and setting up a representative website to tie everything together is something you should do as soon as possible.

We are used to searching for products and services – and other information – we need online. Potential clients will also search for your past work and other details online. With a strong and positive online presence in place, converting potential clients into paying customers will be a lot easier to do.

Happy Clients

The most important ingredient of them all, however, is a reference. Happy clients are your best marketers. They will tell others about your exceptional work, boosting your credibility to new heights while attracting more potential clients in the process.

Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to ensure maximum client satisfaction when working on projects. The happier your clients are, the bigger the investment you make to your credibility and future success. It won’t be long before you start getting calls from friends of past clients, asking if you can help them with their projects.

Credibility is everything in the service industry, especially if you are offering consulting services. These are some of the elements you need to develop a strong credibility and achieve the success you are aiming for from the beginning.

What To Know About Entertaining Clients

What To Know About Entertaining Clients

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Entertaining clients has become standard practice for most corporations, whether those clients come to you from around the world, or you travel to them. Businesses tend to understand the value that can come with entertaining clients, including completing deals and fostering stronger relationships. At the same time, it can be tricky to master some of the ins and outs of these scenarios.

There are things to consider such as how to manage technicalities like business expense receipt submission, to what would be considered professional in an out-of-the-office situation.

The following is a general rundown of what to know about entertaining clients in any industry.

Documenting Expenses

While many large corporations do have a good deal of client entertainment and outside meals happening, they might also experience fraud or inefficiency when it comes to documenting expenses. This can be avoided with a modern expense management software solution, which will not just make it easier for employees to keep track of their expenses, but it will also simplify oversight and create visibility and transparency.

If anyone in your organization is responsible for entertaining clients, a comprehensive expense reporting solution should absolutely be in place.

This eliminates the gray area that can come with using company cards, submitting receipts and defining things such as the reason for the meeting.

It’s also important that along with using a software solution, corporations have a well-defined policy in place for managing expenses and entertaining clients.

Keep It On Track

When employees are entertaining, it’s important that they keep the conversation on track with the business at-hand. There are IRS guidelines in place stipulating that entertaining has to be directly related to business.

While this can get really murky, as an employer you have to be firm on this for your own tax-related purposes, and also to make sure you avoid fraud when your employees invite clients for meals.

In general, only 50 percent of an entertainment-based meal is deductible according to the IRS, although this might not always be the case.

Remain Professional

This might seem obvious, but all-too-often employees will start to think entertaining clients is synonymous with party time. They may be drinking too much or be too loose-lipped, and not only can that be problematic for your company’s reputation, but it can distract from the business that’s supposed to be going on, and can lead to even bigger problems for example if your employee starts to become inappropriate.

It’s important that you train employees on how to maintain a strict sense of professionalism so that lines don’t become blurred when they’re out with employees.

Above all else, your goals as a corporation when you have employees responsible for entertaining clients to ensure that a system is set up to prevent fraud and abuse, and also keep costs in check. There should be precisely defined guidelines for spending, and you should encourage employees to stick with policies through the use of expense reporting software. It’s also important that clients are well-trained on what’s appropriate and what isn’t, both regarding spending and reporting, and also behavior when they’re representing your company.