Using SWOT Analysis to Plan for the New Year

Over the past few weeks, we have been working on year-end checklists, sorting paperwork and reviewing our actions over the year to understand where our business stands. A final step in analyzing the state of the business is reviewing the information we have gathered using the SWOT analysis to develop actionable plans that we can implement in 2019. Using the analysis tool, we took an objective look at our organization to identify the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities that can impact its ability to successfully meet stated goals and objectives.

Threats Or Opportunities Directions On A Signpost

State of the Business: Opportunities & Threats

Using the SWOT analysis tool, we’ve previously highlighted our internal strengths and weaknesses that can provide a competitive advantage in our operations. Today, in our journey for the continuous improvement of our businesses, we focus on identifying the opportunities and threats that can impact our business’ success. This analysis may require a little more effort to research data and regulations for your market.

Strengths And Weaknesses Computer Keys Showing Performance Or Analyzing

State of the Business: Strengths & Weaknesses

As 2018 winds down, we are continuing to work through our year-end checklist. While many businesses will use this time to simply eat, drink and be merry (which we do encourage), why not also use the last few business days of 2018 to make plans that will allow you to hit the ground running in 2019? To that end, this time of the year presents a great opportunity to evaluate the state of your business and the industry to create a strategic plan to set you off in the right direction in 2019. There is a popular saying that states, “you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been”.

Boxes with gifts.

Spread the Love: Holiday Gifting Tips

Cue the singing: ♪It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeaaarrrr…♪ The holidays have a way of bringing magic to the end of the year. As we are out here spreading holiday cheer to friends and family, far and near, let us not forget to show gratitude to the people whose support allows our business to be successful. This includes our employees, customers, vendors, service providers, investors, etc. who support and bring value to our businesses year-round.

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End of the Year Tax Preparation Tips

Like it or not, the Tax Man Cometh… As we continue our efforts to wrap up for the end of the year, we can’t forget one of our biggest obligations: tax preparation. For some small business owners, this will be an easy exercise since they have maintained records throughout the year. For others, it is time to pull out the boxes and bag of notes and receipts to organize. Whether you fall in Camp A, Camp B or somewhere in the middle, here are some year-end tax preparation tips to consider so you will be ready to meet your obligations and form submission deadlines.


Preparing for Year-End Employee Reviews

Employees and management dread the task of preparing performance reviews, often because they are unsure of how to write them or what they should include in them. The truth is, employee performance reviews serve as a crucial evaluation tool, both for the employee and for the business. Employees can use the year-end reviews to assess their work and accomplishments against their goals and competencies. Management can use the reviews (and the matrixes created for them) to ensure that all employees are fairly assessed, have a sense of accomplishment and understand how their individual work contributes to the overall success of the organization.


Year-End Checklist for Small Business

Santa is not the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice this season. With 2019 upon us in T-minus 33 days, if you haven’t already begun, now is a great time to complete some of the back-office work needed to keep your business running. While the fast and furious holiday activities are calling for our attention, setting aside time to complete some housekeeping in your business can help you hit the ground running in the new year.


Online Sales Surge 26.4% On Black Friday

Black Friday signaled the launch of the annual consumer holiday shopping spree with the trend of consumer purchases being made online surging 26.4%. As reported in the WSJ, internet sales reached $12.3 billion according to an estimate by Adobe Systems, Inc., which tracks activity on thousands of websites.


Marketing Your Business Beyond Cyber Monday

Today marks one of the busiest online shopping days of the season – Cyber Monday. Started in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, Cyber Monday offers the savvy shopper deals on soft goods such as clothing and personal care items as well as electronics. Cyber Monday does not have to be only for retailers. With shoppers scouring the internet for deals and great finds, today can be a day to connect with old customers and introduce your brand to new clients.

Entrepreneur Name Tag

National Entrepreneur Day

If National Entrepreneur Day passed you by without much fanfare, have no fear: today, we celebrate YOU. The resilient and passionate innovator, creator and market disruptor who is taking your industry by storm while helping to rebuild the economy. From mom and pop establishments to the tech companies churning out the latest apps and gadgets, entrepreneurial products are ingrained in our day to day lives.

Change Sign

Navigating Your Employees Through Change

There are popular sayings about change such as “change happens”, “change is everywhere” and “change is constant”. This concept is well understood in the world of business; to be successful and competitive, one must constantly be fluid, developing new strategies and be agile to respond to changing market conditions and customer preferences.

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Preparing Your Business for the Holiday Downtime

It’s baaaacccckkk…!! Now that we’ve jumped the hurdle of Halloween, the holiday season is officially upon us. In the blink of an eye, we will be flying through holiday favorites such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukah and Kwanzaa and landing dazed and confused at New Years’ Eve. For many businesses, the holiday season is met with excitement; it is their showtime, the main event where business will be booming, and they pull out the stops to complete orders, manage staffing levels and maintain adequate inventory.

Internet Security System

Cybersecurity and Your Business

Technology has become intertwined in all aspects of our lives, from our cell phones and televisions to our home appliances and vehicles. It is understandable then, that nearly every business uses technology in some aspect of their operations. While the use of technology for business has the potential to provide a competitive edge in the marketplace, it can also present a liability to the business due to the risk of data and security breaches. Businesses can mitigate these threats by implementing cybersecurity measures. Cybersecurity is defined as the protection of Internet-connected systems, including hardware, software, and data, from cyber attacks.

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Understanding Your Organization’s Culture

How would you describe your organization? What is your company’s culture? An organization’s culture is defined as the set of shared meanings and values held by a set of members in an organization that distinguish the organization from other organizations. This shared identity is what will help employees understand the company's values and internalize them to make them their own. The culture can be manifested in two ways within an organization: a dominant culture or a subculture. A dominant culture is the core values shared by most of its members. The dominant culture is also the public face of the organization, what they are known for. By contrast, a subculture within an organization shares different ideas from the dominant culture.


Effective Leadership - What’s Your Style?

There is a popular saying that states, “heavy is the head that wears the crown”. This phrase aptly describes the weight of responsibility business owners face daily. Many people want to be leaders, but they do not realize that it is more than titles and perks; it comes with the heavy task of making decisions that can make or break a company. It also entails effectively managing a workplace that continues to be diverse, made up of individuals from different backgrounds and with different motivations and finding the right influencer to motive them to creativity and productivity.

Workplace Conflict

Managing Conflict in the Workplace

Conflict in the office happens. It is defined as “any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work”.  Conflict is inevitable whenever you put people with different personalities, backgrounds, and expectations, etc. in the same space. Since most people dislike conflict, they often ignore disagreements between employees. Ignoring the smaller issues or brushing them under the rug can cause them to fester and escalate into full-scale issues. Do you know what conflict in your workplace is costing you…?

Based on a study commissioned by the Myers-Briggs Company:

  • U.S. employees spend 2.1 hours per week involved with conflict, which amounts to approximately $359 billion in paid hours (based on an average hourly earnings of $17.95), or the equivalent of 385 million working days.
  • 85% of employees experience some kind of conflict
  • 34% of workplace conflict happens among employees on the front line
  • 12% of employees say they often see conflict within the senior team
  • 49% of workplace conflict happens as a result of personality clashes and egos
  • 34% of workplace conflict is a result of workplace stress
  • 27% of employees have seen personal attacks arise from conflicts
  • 25% of employees have witnessed absence or sickness due to conflict
  • 9% of employees have seen projects fail because of workplace conflict

As an owner, you have a vested interest in ensuring that conflict in your workplace is kept at a minimum. Constant conflict can lead to low employee morale, disengaged employees and high turnover rates. Luckily, all hope is not lost.  When managed effectively, conflict can stimulate progress, deepen trust and strengthen relationships — all of which enhances productivity and optimizes bottom line results.

Here are some key conflict resolution strategies for handling conflict in your workplace:

  • Set Team Ground Rules: Put some formality to the way your team works together by collectively establishing a set of ground rules that are inclusive of all members’ boundaries. The list should include the best way to communicate, cooperate and be productive. By deliberately establishing positive group norms, you can prevent the team from going toxic.
  • Devise and Implement a Conflict Resolution Model for Your Company: Having a plan in place that outlines a protocol for employees to take when faced with conflict streamlines the resolution process. An organization’s approach to conflict resolution should be proactive, not reactive, as much as possible.
  • ‘Ignoring It’ is Not an Option: When company leaders hear of an issue through the grapevine, they may cross their fingers and hope the issue resolves itself. The truth is, it won’t. If an employee brings up a problem, odds are it’s been developing for a while. Unresolved workplace issues lead to resentment, frustrated employees and dysfunctional work teams. HR professionals and company leaders alike must take the time to investigate, question and make effective decisions based on facts. The success of your organization may rely on it.
  • Invest in Conflict Training: There is an assumption that co-workers will act professionally at work and that they know how to do that. Smart employers don’t assume. They insist on a culture where conflict is managed at the lowest level, by the parties themselves, and offer training to make that possible. This stance allows the business to speak a common language and share behaviors meant to be inclusive, not divisive. The smaller the company, the more essential conflict training becomes to ensure the company stays on track and moves ahead without the burden of infighting.
  • Put Value in Team Culture: Proactively investing in the “upkeep” of team synergy has been vital to creating and maintaining highly effective teams. allocating resources for “team time” and milestone celebrations can go a long way to foster a more supportive environment that helps to minimize the occurrence of the ultimate productivity killer, petty conflict.

The strategies noted above show that an ounce of prevention is more important than a pound of cure. With an effective strategy in place, you should be able to protect your business from the negative effects of conflict in your workplace. Despite our differences or opposing views during a conflict, we must continue to work with one another to find constructive and positive solutions to the issues. This will ensure we are able to work again in the future with other team members, groups or companies.

Help Wanted

Is Now the Time to Hire Additional Staff?

As a business owner, one of your most important tasks is workforce management. It's your job to make sure you have the right people--and the right number of people--to keep your company running smoothly. But how do you know when the time is right to hire additional staff? It may be time to consider hiring more team members if your business meets one or more of the following conditions:

Vendor relationships

The Importance of Vendor/Supplier Relationships

John C. Maxwell said, “Teamwork makes the dream work, but the vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team”. This quote applies well when looking at an organization’s supply chain, which is the network of organizations that participate in producing goods or providing services. The purpose of the network is to work well together, to facilitate the flow and transfer of goods and services, from raw material extraction through use by the final consumer. Establishing and maintaining solid vendor relationships is crucial to customer service, cost efficiency, quality, and market development.


Coaching & Mentoring: Helping Employees Succeed

Organizations spend a lot of time and money ensuring that their workforce is well-trained. This is because they realize that employees are the lifeblood of any organization, the ones who carry out its objectives and goals. Employees are often tracked into different roles through career development initiatives that consist of all the efforts and activities conducted by individual employees and the organization to help each person choose and follow the best path. Feedback on development can be provided in two ways: coaching or mentoring.

Studio Shot of a Large Mixed Age, Multiethnic Group of Men and Women

Managing Multiple Generations in the Workplace

We are in a unique time where the workplace has become the meeting ground, and often the battleground, for multiple generations of employees. From Baby Boomers and Generation X to Xennials and Millenials, they are all present in the office, working side by side. This environment presents a challenge for managers to determine how to foster a collaborative workplace with the right culture to meet the needs of all of the members of the work group.

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