Health and Safety Problems to Bear in Mind for your Physical Business

Photo: Eroyka

A popular route into setting up a business nowadays is to start out online. It makes sense. Online retail is great for startups: no overheads or rent costs, relatively cheap setup and your customers can take a look at your stock 24 hours a day. If things don’t work out, then you haven’t lost all too much. But as your business grows and expands, you might like to consider setting up a real life tangible shop. A store gives your business the benefit of interacting directly with your customers. Great customer service increases customer loyalty. It also allows your brand to reach out to an audience who aren’t online. There are so many things to bear in mind when starting up a physical business. Health and safety don’t usually come top of the list of people’s priorities, but it’s such an imperative part of physical business that you just can’t allow it to be swept under the carpet.

Why is Health and Safety Important?

Health and safety should always take priority. It’s of the utmost importance. Regardless of the workplace environment, there are bound to be hazards. These pose the risk of accidents which can cause problems with an individual’s health or serious injury. Whether that person is you, a staff member or a customer, it needs to be avoided. You need to be personally and socially responsible.

Precautionary Measures

Health and Safety Management System

Every business should have a health and safety management system in place. Everyone working for the business should be fully aware of it: always give a debriefing to any members of staff before they are in the workplace. If you employ more than five people, you’ll have to put your system onto paper in a written health and safety policy statement. Employ a competent legal aid to help you draw this up.

Risk Assessments

“Risk” is the significant probability that an accident will occur. You have to assess the potential risks in your workplace and draw up an assessment of them. This is a legal requirement. The main point is to ensure that everyone in the workplace is aware of potential risks.

Risk Control

Risk control involves training employees to prevent accidents and deal with accidents if they are to happen. Remember that all incidents must be reported, so have a book handy for staff to note down anything dangerous that occurs in the store. Make sure that there’s a first aid kit in easy reach and that everyone knows where it is stored.You must also take out employers’ liability insurance.

Creating a safe retail space

So, how do you go about creating a safe retail space? This might all sound like a lot of hassle, but it is all worth it. Most of the work will take place when you open up your business. Here are some key things to bear in mind.

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Fire Safety

Every single store is at risk of fire hazards. From electrical faults to improper storage of cleaning products: risks lie everywhere. To ensure that you are prepared for any first that may arise, you must have fire extinguishers in store and train your employees in how to use them, should they need to. You should also schedule regular fire drills and fire inspections to verify that all staff are briefed on fire procedures and your equipment is working correctly.

Lighting

Certain stores prefer low lighting to create a certain atmosphere. But reduced lighting, unsurprisingly, results in more accidents. Customers are more likely to collide with displays and one another. There is also the increased risk of staff not noticing spills on the floor, which could cause somebody to slip and injure themselves. If possible, use bright lighting. Both in your store front and back in the stock rooms.

Air Quality

Not all stores have windows to air the space out. Think of stores located in malls or other large retail spaces. If your store doesn’t have windows, make sure that you have a good quality air ventilation system in place. This will prevent the growth of mould and bacteria in your retail space.

Photo: Mike Mozart

Temporary Hazard Signs

Make sure that your store has temporary hazard signs that can be put out. The most important of these is a wet floor sign. If there has been a spill, it will need to be cleaned up. But one of these signs should be placed in the wet area to warn customers of the safety risk until the floor is completely dry.

Photo: Jonathan Rolande

Store Fittings

Every retail space will have fittings to display stock. This could be rails, shelves, table tops or any number of display units. It is important to check that these remain in good condition. As time goes on, you may find that wood splinters, shelves become loose, and display units develop sharp corners. When installing colored fittings in your store, try to ensure that they are powder coated. This means that the coloring won’t transfer onto your stock and customers. For more information, contact companies such as http://www.reliantfinishingsystems.com/.

Different Perspectives

Remember that a whole range of people will be visiting your store. Including babies, toddlers, and children. Take a look at your retail space from different perspectives to ensure that there aren’t any underlying hazards that you have overlooked. Scour your store from top to bottom. Put up warning signs for low ceilings where the tall may bump their heads. Make sure there aren’t any exposed wires at ground level.

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Manual Handling

Chances are that at some point your staff are going to have to do some form of lifting or manual handling. This can be something as simple as moving a box in a storeroom. It sounds simple enough, but weeks of work have been missed from employees pulling muscles in their back while shifting stock. Train your staff in how to properly lift and move items. If you will need particularly heavy items moved, make sure that the proper equipment is in place and that everybody understands how to operate it.

The Biggest Dangers Facing A New Business

There’s a reason that not many people start a business, and even less of them succeed. The bottom line is, it’s hard. There are so many risks involved and then you have to consider all of the factors that are outside of your control. Sometimes people can fail even if they get everything right, but a lot of the time people tend to fall prey to the same things. There are a few mistakes that people seem to make over and over. Knowing what these issues are and how to avoid them before you get started can massively improve your chances of success.

Increasing Revenue

Most new businesses tend to start off getting a few clients, it feels like everything is about to snowball. Then it all slows down. The clients aren’t coming in as quickly as they were and the cash is starting to run out. This can often happen because companies get complacent after their initial success. If you fail to increase your revenue then you won’t be able to keep your head above water for very long at all. Just because you’ve had a few good clients, don’t stop pursuing them. Being proactive about finding business is the key to bringing in more money. If you are struggling then consider a merchant cash advance company to give yourself a bit more breathing room.

Hiring Employees

Any business leader worth their salt knows that good employees are vital to a winning business. They are responsible for the day to day running of the business so if they aren’t the best people for the job then you’ll run into all sorts of efficiency problems. When hiring employees, always think quality over quantity. There’s no use paying lots of people that don’t offer any value in the business. It’s better to have a small staff of people that each bring something to the operation. When you interview, it is important to consider all of the usual things like qualifications etc. but don’t neglect personality. A team that works well together will be far more productive so choose people with a similar outlook to your own.

Government Regulations

You can’t blink without filling out a form these days. Government regulations have wormed their way into every single aspect of our lives. The regulations around businesses are particularly restrictive. Unfortunately, you can’t just avoid them. If you are caught operating outside of these regulations you’ll find yourself being hit by a hefty fine that you can’t afford to pay. It could kill your business there and then. Although it is an extra expense to take on, it might be worth hiring a lawyer to help you navigate the legal minefield and make sure that you don’t make any costly errors.

Healthcare

Health Care for your employees is one thing that is majorly affected by government legislation. There are certain rules that need to be adhered to. Any business with more than fifty employees is legally obliged to provide health care. Smaller businesses aren’t obliged, but if you want to get the best people working for you, it is a good idea to provide some kind of package.   

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Quick-Win Marketing Solutions

If you are looking for some fresh marketing ideas to inject some life into your business but you don’t have much time or money to invest into it, then there are still some ideas that you could look into:

Facebook Live – As you will know, Facebook is a hugely popular social networking site that reaches huge numbers of people on a daily basis. While the site was set up predominantly for social interaction, more and more businesses are using the popularity of Facebook to generate more business leads.

Therefore, you will probably already have set up or at least considered creating a profile for your business on Facebook. Video content is expected to take up to 90% of all Facebook content by 2018. So, video is going to be a dominating channel to interact with people. This is because video is the format chosen by consumers, it is the easiest, quickest way to get information and it is much more engaging than for example, a page of text.

For you are to tap into the potential of video marketing for your business, you need to also listen to consumer demand and cater for the predicted change in content consumption. Facebook Live is an easy way to get your business out there, all you have to decide is how to appeal to your target audience. For some lines of business, this will be harder than others, but with some creative thinking, you should be able to identify a successful solution.

If you run a pub that has a band playing and everybody is up dancing and having a good time, you can capture it on Facebook Live. A restaurant? Show a clip of taking a birthday cake out to a customer. There are lots of different things you can do. For a corporate business, if you take part in charity events then that too could make for great Facebook Live content. When you spend a bit of time planning your ideas, you will see that more and more opportunities come along as you get thinking about it.

Podcasts – A large section of businesses also produce podcasts as part of their marketing plan. A great thing about podcasts is they are so easy to create. You can simply record a monologue or discussion that covers an interesting topic that your target audience are interested in using your laptop or smartphone. Then you can upload it onto a platform like SoundCloud to share it with the world via your other marketing channels i.e. on your website, through email, social media, etc.

If you don’t have the resource to promote your podcast heavily, then there are other solutions to get your content more attention, such as purchasing SoundCloud likes. This will quickly get your podcast higher up in the rankings and encourage more people to listen to your content.

These are just two quick wins that you can create with great ease, but by keeping up to date with innovative marketing methods, more ideas like these will come along.

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Three Ways Your Business Can Communicate Internationally

These days, international business is not restricted to established companies with ample resources. If you have a strong website and desirable products, people from all over the world can find you and request your services. Obtaining international clients is an exciting accomplishment, but it can also present some logistical problems you may not have considered. One of the key issues international businesses face is how to communicate clearly, courteously, and cost-effectively with their clients. Here are three communication techniques you may not have previously considered.

  1. Messaging Apps

Texting is not a traditional medium for professional communication, but it could be appropriate in your case depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you are creating commissioned artwork for a client, then he or she may wish to receive frequent visual updates on your progress. If your client lives abroad, then you can simplify your working relationship by using texting apps. There are numerous texting apps available that use an internet connection to send messages. If you and your client have the same apps, you can quickly exchange messages and then get back to work.

  1. Internet Phone Calls

As useful as texts and emails are, sometimes you need to speak to clients directly. Unfortunately, video messaging services are not always reliable internationally, and it can be expensive to place international phone calls. So how can you speak to your clients without spending an arm and a leg?

Emerging technologies such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) make it possible to place international calls using your internet connection. After paying a minor flat fee, purchasing a single device, and installing the device on your computer, you can use your regular phone to make calls. MagicJack is the leading provider of this type of service, and its offerings are growing. Under the leadership of chairman Donald Burns, MagicJack and its app have been installed and downloaded millions of times.

  1. Translation Technology

The more international clients you have, the more likely it is that you will encounter translation problems at some point. Even if you and your client are fluent in the same language, there is always the chance that struggles will arise just when they are least welcome. This is where translation apps can come in handy.

Some translation apps can record your phrase and play it back to your audience in their preferred language. Others can translate pictures of foreign text. There are apps available for almost every language, so you do not have to limit yourself to clients who speak languages you vaguely remember learning in high school. While it is not necessarily wise to rely on these apps exclusively, they can supplement your ongoing language acquisition while helping you and your clients overcome momentary hurdles.

Get to Work

As you can see, international business communication has become a relatively simple undertaking. The good news is, these are just a few of the ways you can connect with clients from around the world. Now that you know more about your international communication options, you may be more comfortable leading your enterprise into uncharted territories. Go forth and explore new markets, knowing there are numerous ways to communicate.

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Recruitment: Finding The Perfect Employees

Photo: Hypnoart

Do you want to know what makes a business successful? It’s the people that work there day after day. Without the ‘lackeys’ doing the ‘donkey work,’ your business can never reach the heights that it intends. Indeed, the ones that wallow at the bottom tend not to choose wisely regarding staff. Therefore, that means your job is to find the perfect employees that will take the firm to new heights. Are you ready? Good, because you’re about to delve into the murky waters of recruitment.

It isn’t nice or pretty, but it’s necessary if you want to locate the ultimate workforce.

Resume

The Americans call it a resume, whereas the British call it a CV. Don’t worry about the name though because the syntax isn’t important right now. What is important is how the resume looks and feels. For one thing, it should look and feel sharp. A resume is a reflection of the individual, so always take into account its appearance. Also, it should be structured and easy to follow. You have hundreds of people to interview, and you can’t waste time reading essays. The best candidates know this, so they tailor their submissions to your benefit. Finally, the great employees have qualifications like IMC masters programs and leadership courses. As a result, their CVs should have more to say than the average person.

Mandatory Skills

Before you start to think about them more as a person than an employee, you need to know they can do the job. Simply put, hiring a person that can’t complete their tasks on a daily basis is a bad fit. In fact, they are a terrible fit. With this in mind, you need to test their ability and business acumen. There are plenty of ways to do it, from asking open-ended questions to setting test questions to a time limit. What you need to take from it are two things. The first is, did they have the ability to perform the tasks to the required standard? And the second is how do they rank against the other candidates?

Motivation

You never know if someone is a good fit until you know what motivates them as a person. You see, motivation is what keeps people working hard and maintaining their standards from their first day to their last. If they lack the necessary amount, they will start to flounder after a short while. Everyone has a trigger, and you need to find it. They might want money, they might want adulation, or they might plan to run the business in the future. Hopefully, they will want all three mixed with a passion for the work. There are lots of things that drive people, but passion is the most effective. To figure them out, ask them questions about money, work, and work-life balance. The answers should be enough to put you on the right track.

Finally, always look beyond what the person says in the interview. Interviews are notorious for changing people into different versions of themselves. You, however, want the natural one that clocks in at 9am and leaves at 5pm.

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