3 Steps to grow and improve your business in the new year

 

A new year means new business goals and exciting opportunities to take a business to the next level. Business owners have a chance to evaluate where their business is, how they want to grow and then put a plan together to achieve their objectives. It’s important to establish a plan to attack the market in the coming year and to re-evaluate and adjust that plan when circumstances change. Sometimes that process is aided by getting the input of key business partners, like your banker.

Business owners who put together a plan, execute that plan and find ways to work successfully with partners should be able to leverage favorable market conditions to grow their business.

Kurt Kappa, chief lending officer at First Federal Lakewood, shares three steps they can take to get started. 

1. What financing opportunities should business owners consider and/or potentially act on in the new year? 

When exploring financing opportunities for the new year, there are two areas business owners may want to consider — their current cash position as well as utilizing debt. 

Businesses should look at their cash position and how it sets them up for future growth, and keep in mind that it’s possible to fund growth via loans or lines of credit instead of cash. If a company is cash positive at the moment, it is a good time to talk with your banker about tapping into a working line of credit.

However, depending on the economy and if debt is inexpensive, it may be a good time to fund a business expansion, whether that’s through organic growth or through acquisitions. When it comes to the latter, inexpensive debt can be used to help fund an acquisition, but the high company valuations might mean it will take buyers time to find the right opportunity. 

2. What unique opportunities or conditions exist in the market and how could they affect a business? 

Many businesses are entering succession planning and ownership transition periods. This is mostly because baby boomers who are in leadership or ownership positions have reached an age where they are looking to transition, either through succession planning or through a sale. For these owners, now is a good time to really evaluate which path is best: a sale of the business or by growing and bringing on other team members to run the business in their place. 

3. What conversations should business owners have with their bankers this year to get the most out of the new year?

Business owners should talk with their banker about all that is happening, and what they would like to happen, with their business — what their growth objectives are, what could hold back their growth and how they can navigate those obstacles to achieve their goals. 

It’s common for business owners to get so caught up in running the day-to-day operations of their business that they often struggle to step back and take a bigger picture look at the organization and where it should be headed. Taking some time to talk with a banker can create the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about the strategic vision, get some outside perspective on how they and their organization are currently set up to achieve it and build accountability into the plan.

 
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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Employment Law
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  • 3 Things to Know: Employment Law

    Correct classification, smart use of business tools and dealing with workplace misconduct—as a business owner, there’s a lot to know when it comes to employment law. We’re looking back at some of the articles that touched on this topic from Mind Your Business.

    We’ve written a lot about employment law and covered a variety of related topics. Here are three things we think you need to know.

    The first thing you need to know: Correct classification is crucial. Misclassifying employees can be pricey with taxes and penalties that can add up. One common misclassification is treating contractors as employees. Be aware of the distinctions between your employees and your independent contractors. Another step in avoiding major lawsuits and other costs is to understand the differences between exempt and nonexempt employees as laid out in the Fair Labor Standards Act. And, here are 10 things you should know about mitigating exposure to employment-related lawsuits.

    The second thing you need to know: Be smart with your business tools. There are many forms, contracts and other tools that are helpful to your business—if you use them correctly. Non-compete and non-disclosure agreements are often regarded in the same light, but you’ll want to know the differences in how they work and why they are important. If you feel overwhelmed when it comes to the many different types of employment contracts, agreements and lingo, join us as we take this deep dive into the 13 essential employment contract provisions.

    The third thing you need to know: Dealing with workplace misconduct is part of the gig. Ideally, you’ll have pretty good success at keeping the peace in your workplace. But in the event that you find yourself in a sticky situation, here are some guidelines for dealing with employee misconduct. If a sticky situation escalates to something more intense, be sure to know when, where and how to conduct employee workplace searches. And no matter what kinds of situations arise, as a business owner it’s necessary to know the limitations of employment at will.

    Join us for BizConCLE 2018 on Nov. 1 as we offer workshops that delve into such topics as the top 10 HR mistakes to avoid and much more. Click here to learn more and register.

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  • Next up: 3 Ways to Prioritize Your Eye Health This Fall
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  • 3 Ways to Prioritize Your Eye Health This Fall

    September is Healthy Aging Month and we’re sharing three impactful ways you can make your eye health a priority as the seasons change.

     

    Your vision is one of the first senses you may notice changing as you get older, but there are some easy things you can do to benefit your aging eyes.

    1. Reduce Screen Time
    Shorter days can mean more time spent indoors staring at a phone, television, or computer screen. Since lengthy screen time can contribute to digital eye strain, it’s important to give your eyes a break. Practice the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and stare at something at least 20 feet away. This trick can help alleviate the strain on your eyes. 

    2. Wear sunglasses, even on overcast days. 
    Did you know increased exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can up the risk for cataracts in aging eyes? It’s important to remember to grab a pair of sunglasses when you head outside, even if it’s overcast. Plus, as an added bonus, sunglasses protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

    3. Add eye-healthy foods to your grocery list. 
    According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “...foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids are linked to lower risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, perhaps even dry eye later in life.” Add some nutrient-rich foods to your grocery list, such as oranges, strawberries, sunflower seeds, avocado, seafood, and leafy green vegetables to help protect your vision and keep you healthy. 

    Ready to prioritize your eyes? 
    An eye exam is an easy way to stay on top of your health. If you make it a priority to see your eye doctor each year, they will be able to track your vision changes over time to keep your eyes as healthy as possible as you age. If you haven’t done so already, schedule an appointment with your VSP® network eye doctor. If you don’t yet have one, find a VSP Premier Program location near you.

    See Well. Be Well.® If you haven’t already, take advantage of your COSE member benefit and opt-in to VSP vision insurance. Contact your COSE sales representative or broker for more info.

    Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

    ©2021 Vision Service Plan. VSP and See Well. Be Well. are registered trademarks of Vision Service Plan.  All rights reserved. All other brands or marks are the property of their respective owners.

     
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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Employing Millennials
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  • 3 Things to Know: Employing Millennials

    The topic of millennials in the workforce has been a hot one recently. Find out what you need to know in order to have success with your millennial staff.

    Selfies, avocado toast and a laid back attitude—there is no shortage of stereotypes that come to mind and images that are conjured up when thinking of millennials. Mind Your Business has featured many articles focusing on this generation, bringing you the real scoop on millennials as workers. Find out what’s important to them, how to attract them and how to keep them engaged.

    The first thing you need to know: Millennials are going to be a force on the employment scene for some time. Research indicates that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. So you should have a good understanding of the characteristics that make up this group of workers and what sets them apart from other generations. And, it’s no secret that millennials are influenced by social media.

    Here are things to consider when using social media to attract them to your company.

    The second thing you need to know: It’s not all about money for millennials. Money talks, but money can’t buy happiness. Millennial employees like to be recognized and rewarded, but that doesn’t always have to mean breaking the bank. Here are five tips on how to reward and recognize without digging too far into your pocketbook.

    The third thing you need to know: There are many out-of-the-box ways to engage millennials. The average amount of time this generation of workers stays in a position is approximately 1.8 years. You can increase their longevity at your company by giving them a lot of face time with leadership and taking action on issues that are important to them. Check out this how-to guide for effectively engaging your millennial workforce and also consider these tips on how to make your company millennial-friendly.


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  • Next up: 3 Things to Know: Office Safety
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  • 3 Things to Know: Office Safety

    No matter what business you own, your most important job is keeping your employees and customers safe. Here are some informative articles from Mind Your Business that shed light on this critical topic.

    We can hope and have faith that we would never be confronted with a violent incident in our workplace. But having policies that address workplace safety, understanding the warning signs of a potential threat, and knowing what steps to take following a serious event can actually help prepare you and your team to handle whatever comes your way.

    Here is a detailed look at three of the things you need to know about workplace safety based on the information provided by our experts over the years.

    The first thing you need to know is policies are crucial. If you have critical business information, you write it down—right? Vacation time, benefits, nondisclosure agreements and other significant policies are all commonly included in a company’s employee handbook. The same thing should apply when establishing policies regarding workplace safety—violence, harassment, bullying and other dangerous behaviors and how those behaviors will be handled internally should all be included in detail. Ideally, writing policies to keep your company safe will go beyond your employee handbook; the most well-prepared workplaces even go as far as having an active shooter plan. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    The second thing you need to know is the potential warning signs. Warning signs can be different in every scenario and can certainly also be signals of other things going on. But, having a basic understanding of the many different warning signs of a potential threat or violent situation could prove to be priceless when it comes to keeping your company and people safe. Here are three dozen possible warning signs that you should be on the lookout for, as well as a list of possible triggers that have the potential of resulting in a dangerous situation.

    The third thing you need to know is what next steps to take. So you know the warning signs, but what do you do next? Here are four steps to take to address a potential threat in your workplace, as well as expert advice on how to follow up with your team and others involved in a threatening or violent situation. And, once the immediate threat to anyone’s safety is over and the scene has been secured, there are five things to think about in the following 60 minutes. Don’t forget to practice all of these critical steps in routine crisis drills.


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  • Next up: 4 Reasons a High School Intern Could be a Fit for Your Business
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  • 4 Reasons a High School Intern Could be a Fit for Your Business

    When you’re evaluating potential candidates for your internship program, don’t discount students who might still be in high school. These younger candidates can bring unique value to your business.

    In the lead up to the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 27, Mind Your Business will be running a series of articles previewing some of the sessions that attendees will have the opportunity to sit in on. Today’s preview focuses on the legal aspects of internships. Click here to view the other preview articles for this year’s Internship Summit.

    When looking to fill internship programs, businesses oftentimes automatically go straight to college students. While these students can certainly prove to be competent internship candidates, these businesses might also want to set their sights a little younger.

    JumpStart’s Zerrine Bailey and Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s Craig Dorn—panelists on the “Why Employers Should Consider High School Students for Their Internship Programs” session at the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit Feb. 27—took time recently to highlight some of the reasons high school students can be just as good of a fit for internship programs as college students are.

    Listed below are just four of the reasons why your business should not be so quick to dismiss potential high school internship applicants.

    1. They are tech savvy. These young people have proven to be very tech savvy, especially as it relates to activities such as social media. Having a high school student assist with a social media marketing campaign can prove to be a great value add for businesses.

    2. They are trainable. High school-age students in particular have shown themselves to be moldable and open to constructive criticism. This kind of feedback can help guide their future career choices. And speaking of future career choices …

    3. They are eager to learn. Many times, high school students have not yet settled on a potential career path and because of this, are open to learning as much as they can about many different aspects of the business. A college student on the other hand who takes an accounting internship, likely knows that accounting is what their post-internship profession will be and thus will be more focused on learning about that particular subject.

    4. They bring diversity. Young students bring a fresh perspective to the office. And has been noted before, such workplace diversity holds a lot of positives for businesses.

    Register today for the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit, taking place on Feb. 27, to learn more about internship program best practices.

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