Small Business Can http://www.smallbusinesscan.com Share ideas, get advice and promote your business today. Fri, 24 Apr 2015 08:29:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=199 Fraud Prevention for Small Businesses http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/fraud-prevention-small-businesses/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/fraud-prevention-small-businesses/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 08:00:51 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=81053 According to statistics released by the ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners) for 2014,  “28.8% of all companies with less than 100 employees are victims of fraud with an average loss of $154,000.” Additionally, 77% of all the frauds covered by the study came from internal departments such as accounting, […]

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According to statistics released by the ACFE (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners) for 2014,  “28.8% of all companies with less than 100 employees are victims of fraud with an average loss of $154,000.” Additionally, 77% of all the frauds covered by the study came from internal departments such as accounting, operations, sales, customer service, and finance. Let’s specifically look at fraud prevention for small businesses.

According to Forbes, the same report revealed that small businesses can expect to lose 5% of their revenue each year.   These are numbers can be very depressing for existing small businesses or anyone just starting out.  If you are a small business owner, you need to take smart steps to make sure that you and your investments are protected from fraud, and there are five particular areas where you can make the most out of some small actions to get great fraud prevention.

  1. Credit Cards and Bank Accounts

Doing your best to protect this information is your best defense when it comes to fraud prevention. Some basic ways to keep your account numbers safe are mostly just common sense and good judgment—don’t give your card out to anyone other than trustworthy employees or businesses, make sure that bills are delivered to a secure location that can’t be accessed by just anyone, and keep your personal accounts separate.

  1. IT

As with most things these days, the battle lines for fraud prevention are drawn pretty squarely in the digital sphere. Here again, you will want the basics such as a solid firewall and anti-spyware/anti-virus. If you have a business that deals in particularly sensitive information, it could be worth the investment to speak to professionals who will give you the extra security you need. But, for every business, make sure there are firm policies in place regarding access to passwords for employees, put all of your banking information and access on one singular computer if possible, and use a trusted source for payment processing that puts security first, like www.propay.com.

  1. Employees

Fraud prevention can begin and end with one decision: who to hire.

Of course, it can be nearly impossible to tell who is lying based on one interview, that’s why background checks are a great way to find out if any potential hires have been hiding something from you.

  1. Education

For those employees that you do trust, embrace the possibility that even though they are the most likely suspects, they might also be your best chance at catching someone in the action before real damage is done to your accounts. Educate your employees on the signs that fraud might be occurring in their departments, and encourage them to speak up if they see something suspicious with their co-workers, clients, or anyone else who might have access.

  1. Records

A simple, but incredibly powerful line of defense is record keeping. Make sure that your employees are preparing for random audits. This will keep them honest and also give you access to great files that should show any funny business upon close inspection.

About the Author
Scott has more than 29 years of professional product marketing and executive management experience in the high-tech industry. For the past six years Scott has worked for ProPay helping small businesses grow their businesses through online payment acceptance.

Scott earned dual bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University in Marketing and Finance. He also earned an MBA from Colorado State University.

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Establishing Your Brand as a Small Business Owner http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/establishing-your-brand-as-a-small-business-owner/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/establishing-your-brand-as-a-small-business-owner/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:00:42 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=80850 In today’s world, owning a small business isn’t enough. For your business to be successful, you have to build your own personal brand to help establish yourself as a household name and to bring in more business. Luckily, building your brand is easier than you probably think. Don’t Try to […]

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In today’s world, owning a small business isn’t enough. For your business to be successful, you have to build your own personal brand to help establish yourself as a household name and to bring in more business. Luckily, building your brand is easier than you probably think.

Don’t Try to Imitate Anyone

You might be tempted to try to mimic the look or personality of the bigger and more successful businesses. After all, you might think, these companies have done well, so I’m sure to do well also. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. It’s important to come up with your own look and personality for your business, not to try to mimic someone else’s. This individualism is what will set your company apart and will make your customers appreciate what you bring to the table.

Use the Internet

You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get started with your personal brand. In fact, you can get started for free — or for a very low cost — by utilizing the resources that are available on the World Wide Web. For example, you can create free social media profiles and pay for an inexpensive website to get started.

Build Lasting Relationships

Once you gain interest in your company, it’s important to work on building lasting relationships with customers and potential customers. This can be done in a few ways. If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, you can use loyalty cards and written postcards or “thank you” notes. You can also send out email newsletters, coupons and more, or you can interact with customers and potential customers on social media. Many find that a good combination of all of these methods is a great way to build lasting relationships and to help promote loyalty to their brand.

Be Innovative

Don’t be afraid to be unique or to do something that other companies have not done. People love companies that are willing to be different, especially if they are taking a stand for something that they believe in.

Remember That What You Do Affects Your Business

Remember—in today’s day and age, it is easy for people to find out what you are up to, especially online. Remember that what you, as the owner or a higher-up in the community, do will have an impact on your business. Therefore, it’s important to be careful when using social media or otherwise communicating on the Internet.

Start With People You Know

It’s always good to start with the people that you know when you are working on branding for your small business. Start promoting your business on your personal social media sites, and give business cards and other promotional materials to the people in your community. Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to promote a business, and if you start by promoting your brand among the people who you do know, you will help get the word out more quickly than you probably think.

Remember Branding at All Times

Don’t lose sight of the importance of branding at any time. Any time that you communicate with customers or potential customers, make sure that you let them know about what your company stands for and what you have to offer. Don’t be afraid to promote your brand whenever possible—on vehicles, business checks and even in casual conversations. By constantly reminding people of the products and services that your small business offers, along with the things that your company believes in and is working for, you can help promote your business in the best possible way.

Establishing your brand as a small business owner is exceedingly important, especially in today’s competitive world. Luckily, following these tips will help you promote your brand in the best way possible.

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Supplier Procurement Survey 15 Infographic – The top 10 observations http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/supplier-procurement-survey-15-infographic-top-10-observations/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/supplier-procurement-survey-15-infographic-top-10-observations/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:31:05 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=81228 The TenderScout Survey provides insight and illuminates the world of public procurement as seen by those most impacted – small and medium enterprises! This highlights of this survey undertaken with Amarach Research include: 22% of companies don’t request a debrief from the buyer – they are unlikely to ever improvetheir performance 43% […]

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The TenderScout Survey provides insight and illuminates the world of public procurement as seen by those most impacted – small and medium enterprises! This highlights of this survey undertaken with Amarach Research include:

  • 22% of companies don’t request a debrief from the buyer – they are unlikely to ever improvetheir performance
  • 43% of companies are unlikely to collaborate with other businesses – effectively ruling them- selves out of many opportunities
  • 29% is the average success rate for suppliers – indicating a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach to tendering
  • 58% of companies don’t use competitive intelligence – they lose twice as often as those that do
  • €25 million is the amount spent by suppliers competing for tenders that are ultimately can- celled
  • 69% of contracts are awarded primarily on price – this is the most significant factor in winning or losing
  • 57% of suppliers wait over three months for the result of a tender competition, which impacts their ability to operate their business efficiently
  • 26% of suppliers are more encouraged to participate as a result of Circular 10/14 – but they’re not likely to be successful without other measures
  • €2.7 billion is the value of government contracts that aren’t advertised because they are below threshold
  • >70% of tendering companies have fewer than 50 employees – they win less than 20% of the time

Download the full report here.

TenderScout Infographic

TenderScout Irish Procurement Survey & Analysis 2014:15 Infographic

 

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Public tendering lessons learned at the smart business show http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/public-tendering-lessons-learned-at-the-smart-business-show/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/public-tendering-lessons-learned-at-the-smart-business-show/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 12:10:57 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=81266 Smart business public tendering session I had the pleasure to chair a session about the state of public tendering in Ireland at the Smart Business Show. The panel consisted of Ross McCarthy of Keystone Procurement, Tony Corrigan of Tenderscout and Tony Clarke of Kendlebell. Learned a lot Learned a lot. […]

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Smart business public tendering session

I had the pleasure to chair a session about the state of public tendering in Ireland at the Smart Business Show. The panel consisted of Ross McCarthy of Keystone Procurement, Tony Corrigan of Tenderscout and Tony Clarke of Kendlebell.

Learned a lot

Learned a lot. The size of public procurement in Ireland is 9 billion. With another 4 billion by the agencies. It is about 16% of GDP and a bigger chunk of GNP. That is a lot of money. Surprisingly only 26,000 companies are registered for e-tender and only 15% of those 26,000 is active.

Hot topic

Public tendering has been a hot topic on Smallbusinesscan and my impression was that SMEs still don’t get a look in. However things seem to start to change. And it is not all the fault of government. Apparently the quality of the tenders of Irish SMEs is not very good and needs to shape up if they want to be taken seriously.

Networking is important in public tendering

Tony Corrigan made the point, that tendering is not just about the tendering process. it is about getting to know the buyers and as with all business is about networking and account management (before you tender). You need to be know and you need to be liked and respected.

Different rules

The other Tony said that public tendering is very different to “normal” tendering and different rules apply. Ross said that public tendering only makes sense after you have made an assessment if it makes commercial sense and compares favourably to selling to commercial clients. You need to score at least 90% on the tendering criteria. Below, tendering is pointless. It cost on average    € 4,500 per tender to tender.

Public tendering  is a skill

It is a skill, but once you are in and have learned the tricks, it is a serious opportunity. You should visit the public tendering workshops that Enterprise Ireland, Intertrade, DCU and/or the LEOs provide.

Competitive dialogue

We talked about the problem of start ups getting access to public tender. If you are an innovative start up, you should look at the competitive dialogue route and find an innovate, buyer willing to work with you to develop a product or service that doesn’t exist using this innovation clause.

Consortia, professionalisation,  social impact

We touched on consortia. Ross suggest that they can only work if the companies work to develop a commercial relationship that is as strong as a JV. What you build, when clustering successfully, is essentially a special purpose vehicle to win specific types of public sector work.

We touched upon the professionalism of the buyers, which is improving. We talked about cost/price being an important criteria for public procurement (maybe too much) and we talked about scoring social impact (which is not yet included as a criteria).

Opportunity

I am not doing the conversations and the questions of the audience justice. My conclusion is that is an underestimated opportunity, that the opportunity cost are still high and if you decide to go for it, you need to be professional about it. There is a learning curve, but once you are in, you have creating a competitive advantage. And now is the time.

The experts

If you have any question, I am not the one to ask. Here are the linkedIn profiles of the real experts.

ie.linkedin.com/in/rossmccarthy/en

ie.linkedin.com/in/kendlebellnaas/en

ie.linkedin.com/pub/tony-corrigan/0/362/97b/en

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Improve your business by using ancient mind techniques http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/improve-your-business-by-using-ancient-mind-techniques/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/improve-your-business-by-using-ancient-mind-techniques/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:40:12 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=81220 The explosion of research and indeed the apparent exponential growth in universities from all round the world publishing papers on the benefits of practising meditation, mindfulness and what some call ‘calm’ is wonderful opportunity for all of us. Our brains This together with the ever increasing availability of evidence and […]

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The explosion of research and indeed the apparent exponential growth in universities from all round the world publishing papers on the benefits of practising meditation, mindfulness and what some call ‘calm’ is wonderful opportunity for all of us.

Our brains

This together with the ever increasing availability of evidence and understanding of how our brains actually work through popular acceptance and interest in neuroscience proves beyond doubt that there is direct improvement in functioning as a result of regular practice. All of this gives us legitimate permission and I do mean permission because as we know so many people – in fact maybe the majority of folks seem to need proof even empirical data and evidence that what we do will work before venturing forth.

Magic

Magically, at the same time there are those who are less inclined to need all this and who are even much more confident with more spiritual explanations for what its all about, but nevertheless it still works wonders for them too. So wherever people are on that continuum you can be sure that you will gain all manner of benefits that otherwise would not come to you if you choose to practice with your tools or better still attend one of our up and coming events to get some more. In MindStore we say “it only works” and it has been doing so for over 25 years while it continues to evolve and grow no matter what explanations are postulated for why.

Spiritual not technical

That said, to be honest I can swing in either direction in-terms of explanations though I am more inclined to sit towards the spiritual emphasis. However I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy my smart TV and what it can do, likewise my iPhone and since I was 18 driving around in cars. Each of these things that have continued to evolve and have become central to my life I don’t have a clue about how they work. I’ve got techie friends and a petrol head mate who do and seem love reading about what’s happening under the bonnet or behind the screen. However I can’t be bothered even spending a minute with this, however I absolutely respect their passion for doing so and wish them well with it.

Alpha state

I am much more interested in what you and I can do with it all because that’s just  how I am. So for all these years I have been exploring what can be done in the alpha state, how far can I push myself and what kind of tools and programs will help people change their lives for the better? However there has never been a better time to own up to being an enthusiast and for encouraging your colleagues at work or indeed family or friends to take a closer look. Both they and you will certainly benefit from doing so and that empirically is a fact. Like never before has there been such an open willingness in folks to want to know and indeed learn about how to practice and improve with this kind of stuff.

Mindfulness

With newspapers, magazines and endless other sources people will certainly have heard of “mindfulness” which is a word that covers all sorts of possibilities and it’s certainly increasingly becoming more mainstream. So no there’s no need for any of us to get embarrassed or be shy to say that we practice meditation type techniques. After all they are now without question proven to improve all manner of aspects of our lives. After 25 years pedigree and all those companies and leading figures not to mention thousands of success stories  with our House on The Right Bank or Island have as much credibility as anyone else in this field and probably much more.

Many tools and techniques for improving personal and group performance

It’s also becoming much easier for me to teach more advanced material too, even to beginners, because the sceptical resistance is melting away and there is a genuine hunger to have as many tools and techniques for improving personal and group performance. Quite simply – it’s just normal now and it’s even beginning to look like not having access will limit folks opportunities especially in their careers.

Bruce Lee

Think for a moment of the folks around you at work, your neighbours and of course family and friends who are moving through this life that is all too short but who still don’t have the range of tools and techniques we have that absolutely give us proven advantages. However, as I say repeatedly “it’s not enough to get this intellectually” we only have the added potential if we actually do it. Bruce Lee said “Knowing is not enough we must apply, willing is not enough we must do.” I know without doubt that the vast majority of “graduates” of MindStore programs have no doubt about the benefits of practising but it’s remembering to do it that is the challenge.

I also know that having people around you who are “graduates” too is more inclined to make it the thing to do, and as a result everything associated with MindStore begins to dramatically improve.

Whether people feel the need to mitigate and free themselves from the downside of modern life or are more inclined to want to unlock the upside and achieve much more of their potential then now is the time to get to it.

Is stress and anxiety part of your day to day life or do you suffer from poor sleep?

So is stress and anxiety part of your day to day life or do you suffer from poor sleep? are you inclined to have headaches? tend to feel overwhelmed at times? or are unable to hold your attention or have a general sense of uncertainty and helplessness? there is no doubt that that’s increasingly the norm especially with most folks working longer and harder. Someone has to be making up the statistics of 70% of doctors visits being stress related and spare a thought for the 1/3 of workers in the city of London for example who are reported to be suffering from mental health complaints. If that’s what is going on than MindStore can tackle it and provide much more besides.

On the other hand we are able to enjoy deeper sleep, more self-control, compassion, focused attention, a better quality and more useful decisions, enhanced emotional intelligence, improving relationships with more self-awareness through more empathy and compassion. MindStore promises a much more authentic you with a brighter outlook, more energy and much more fun.

Active approach

Our approach in itself is not a passive method, one of reaching a state of absolute stillness and quietude, though that is very special in its own right. Our entire approach which does include the peaceful state is actually a dynamic meditative method providing enhanced thinking where all our facilities come together empowering us to achieve way beyond that which is possible rather than if you go about things without our methods, tools and techniques.

I am finding that by and large there are two camps emerging in first time attendees or in in-house events and with conference audiences. First, there is a sizeable portion that do need the security and back up of knowing that science and research is right behind it all and has an abundance of data proving without doubt all the beneficial claims of this overall movement. When I started I was a pioneer in the UK facing huge cultural blocks that I had to slowly chip away at but that has all changed over time.

The Field of Pure Potentiality

On the other hand there is a growing acceptance and belief in the notion of a higher self, higher intelligence, universal consciousness or what Deepak Chopra calls “The Field of Pure Potentiality.” Many more are comfortable with the notion that when we find our way into the meditative state that there is a kind of “connectedness” or “inter-connectedness” with a higher power or communal wisdom. Indeed there is a growing acceptance of the ideas around spirituality anyway, even in hard business settings and that explaining all the benefits form this place is as valid as relying on the scientific and empirical evidence coming from academic research.

The scientists and the philosophers can’t prove or disprove what each are saying about consciousness itself but they do accept that it exists. Maybe it’s enough to have the desire to improve on what we are doing with it and for me probably more important than explaining what it is one way or the other. I have definitely witnessed extraordinary change and improvement in those who seek “to do” and “apply.”

Bring this to your business

We are now bringing these techniques to businesses as well. Hence the Business Master class in Dublin  on 12 June.

You can book your place here 

Keep Smiling

Jack

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Small Business Project Management http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/small-business-project-management/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/small-business-project-management/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 08:00:17 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=81094 Project management is a process that is always evolving through various processes and methods, and businesses of all sizes are on the lookout for ways in which it can be managed more efficiently. For small businesses in particular, project management is a powerful tool when used smartly. Not only can […]

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Project management is a process that is always evolving through various processes and methods, and businesses of all sizes are on the lookout for ways in which it can be managed more efficiently. For small businesses in particular, project management is a powerful tool when used smartly. Not only can effective project management improve the performance but it can empower. Small businesses can use faster project speed as a competitive advantage, can train quicker and reinvent projects with specialised skills and teams, something a large business can often overlook.

History of Project Management

To really understand how important project management is and how effective methods can be you should take a look back through history and examine the changes, impacts and developments you can learn from. To help you on this learning curve, take a look at the Telegraph Courses Project Management Timeline data graphic which explains why project management is so important and how it has been used and developed throughout history through to modern day builds.

The timeline starts by looking at the Great Pyramid of Giza, composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, 450ft high and built in 2570 BC. This amazing piece of history took in total around 20-25,000 workers to complete the project. It is estimated that it took around 20 to 30 years to build. Following on from this is the Great Wall of China. This build would have been comparable to around £300bn in costs today.

In those times there were basic management systems put in place, which shows the beginnings of Project Management in action. These included people management, time management and materials management. As the data goes on to show more modern builds such as the Shard, the tallest building in Europe have adopted different project management approaches.

Industry Growth

The industry in the project management field is growing as the data goes on to show. This is really useful for small businesses and start-ups to see as it gives an insight into the types of project methodologies used and predictions for the future.

Looking at the global Project Management Outlook, it provides an overview of sectors to watch in various countries. This is interesting as it explains how sectors are progressing. For example, in the United Kingdom it is suggested that IT and construction are two main industries to watch, as there is a huge demand for those working in Project Management with the correct skills. So should your next project build be targeted to these sectors as they look likely to provide success?

One thing small businesses/start-ups should be keeping track are these trends. Furthermore, some of the future Project Management Industry trends include remote project teams, independent consultants, mobile Project Management apps and the usage of big data as a project management tool. All of these are important for small businesses and startups to understand as it helps gain a step forward as being aware of these future predictions means being prepared and ready to adapt to them.

Future of Entrepreneurs

Just like the Pyramid build do you feel you have the capable skills to develop your business from the ground up and project management it? If you are not sure then you can use the data graphic to answer this question. If you answer yes to the following then you should have what it takes to become an entrepreneur PM which is crucial for the success of a small business.

Do you get the big picture?

Can you cope with uncertainty?

Are you patient?

Are you a leader/motivator?

Are you proactive?

Can you delegate?

If the Pyramids can still stand strong today then so can your small business, it just means adopting the right methods, principles and methodologies.

The Commitment in project management is shifting and although the change is slow the key focus is still on entrepreneurial skills, youth entrepreneurship in particular is becoming a framework for teaching the 21st century. So it is evident to see how important the shift will become already and how businesses will strive in the future; learning from the motivated youth entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

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Internet Of Things – Fueling Marketing Revolution with Connected Life http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/internet-of-things-fueling-marketing-revolution-with-connected-life-2/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/internet-of-things-fueling-marketing-revolution-with-connected-life-2/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 07:00:27 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=80626 In our everyday life, we come across various technological revolutions that impact everything we do. However, how many of us have actually been impacted with a new gigantic wave that has completely changed the entire technological realm. Today’s topic of discussion revolves around one such gigantic advancement that has provided […]

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In our everyday life, we come across various technological revolutions that impact everything we do. However, how many of us have actually been impacted with a new gigantic wave that has completely changed the entire technological realm. Today’s topic of discussion revolves around one such gigantic advancement that has provided marketers with countless opportunities to create a WOW experience for customers.

Internet of Things (IoT) is driving every marketer to bring some smart revolutionary changes in the technological sphere. According to recent research, IoT ranked as the second most important area in 2015 in many countries and would have the biggest effect on marketers by 2020. The installation base of IoT devices worldwide would rise from 4.88 billion to nearly 25.01 billion between 2015 and 2020. The UK Government announced that they will spend an additional £45m on developing Internet of Things enabled technology. Not only in technology, but IoT has successfully influenced other sectors such as insurance marketers for better engagement of consumers.

Internet Of Things (IoT)

IoT is the network of dedicated physical objects that comprises of embedded technology to sense and interact with external environment or their internal state. IoT contains an ecosystem that consists of applications, data analysis, things and communication.

What Can Be Currently Achieved With IoT, From Marketing Perspective?

The buzz is that every device will soon get connected to the internet, which will boost productivity and reduce energy needs.

Easy Availability Of Customer’s Data And Feedback

When every device can be programmed and tracked, it becomes easier for the marketers to collect and analyse the ever-increasing varieties of behavioural statistics of the consumers. The cross-correlation of data helps in revolutionising the targeted marketing of products and services. Marketers can now find the doors to any machine-to-machine derived information. They have enough opportunities to interact with consumers in new and exciting ways. The wealth of data can be utilised to deepen customer insights and optimise customer performance.

With new IoT devices being invented every other day, it represents opportunities to market new products and services. Marketers can deliver more personalised and engaging information to customers in the most relevant channels. Also with customer’s instant feedback, especially when a product isn’t living up to the expectation, retailers are able to cut their losses much sooner than later.

Smart Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

IoT when used in conjunction with CRM tool helps in gathering and organising client data. The technology embedded devices can streamline the buyer’s chain of command and decisions and help retailers understand where the prospects are in their buying journey. This enables marketers serve the right information and nurture the clients to close a deal.

It Is Not Just Banner Ads Or Pop-Ups Anymore

No longer will marketers have to rely on banner ads and pop-ups to let the world know about their products and services. The increasing numbers of connected devices fitted with sensors and constant network accessibility has entirely changed the face of advertising. With IoT advertisements, no prospects will be served with an advertisement that does not align perfectly with their interests, behaviours and past purchase. Not only will the consumers save time by being served with relevant ads but also the marketers save thousands of pounds after irrelevant advertisements.

The Smart IoT Devices And Marketing

With smart glasses such as Google Glass, marketers can display ads when users look at a particular item or take its picture. They can also deliver the right information at the right place and time especially when consumers use the device to check prices and research products while shopping.

Similarly, smart lighting system has enabled retailers to interact directly with visitors’ smartphones. For instance, it allows retailers to give shoppers directions to specific store items. Some of the LED system can also be connected with a mobile app that can be used to send targeted messages and coupons when customers are at a particular location within the store.

Most interestingly, if marketers can use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, it can present a number of potential opportunities for them. RFID serves as a tool to customise and enhance customer experience. Some retailers are using RFID smart tags to play tunes to the clothes that shoppers are trying on. They’re using the tunes or songs of celebrities that best match the style of the apparel. The aim is to put customers in the right purchasing mindset and help them imagine themselves wearing the perfect clothes. Undoubtedly, this creates an overall pleasant shopping experience.

A mass-market application of IoT in UK is the use of Hive. Hive is an app from British Gas that allows householders to control their central heating process via their smartphones. This innovation has substantially improved people’s everyday lives. The users can get hot water only when they need to, thereby reducing energy waste and saving money.

With data collected from the adopters of wearable tech, brands can better understand where and when shoppers might take action on a trigger. This is where the marketers can provide value and convenience to people using such devices.

How IoT Can Benefit An Organisation’s Business Goal?

As IoT can afford new opportunities in the next few years, it can drastically

  • Enhance customer satisfaction and engagement
  • Increase productivity operation and infrastructure
  • Improve product design and build new products
  • Reduce maintenance cost and system downtime.

Connected products provide brands with a direct, real time interface and interaction point with consumers. Marketers are looking forward to more limitless opportunities enabled by IoT. And with billions of new things becoming smarter with Internet Of Things, marketers will surely not let their marketing strategy remain ineffective.

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On The Leading Edge – Maven TM Finalist For SFA Business Awards 2015 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/on-the-leading-edge-maven-tm-finalist-for-sfa-business-awards-2015/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/on-the-leading-edge-maven-tm-finalist-for-sfa-business-awards-2015/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 08:01:20 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=80663 As many businesses know only too well, finding the right sales leads can cost dearly in terms of time and money. Maven TM saves its clients on both fronts by doing the hard work for them. IN 2011, as businesses found it difficult to generate sales leads, Mark Cradock spotted […]

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As many businesses know only too well, finding the right sales leads can cost dearly in terms of time and money. Maven TM saves its clients on both fronts by doing the hard work for them.

IN 2011, as businesses found it difficult to generate sales leads, Mark Cradock spotted an opportunity for a new Irish company. Cradock had been working in technology, sales and marketing since 1998, and identified a need in the market for a company that would find and create sales opportunities for IT firms.

He set up Maven TM in Carlow, a business-to-business telemarketing and sales lead generation company. The definition of maven, incidentally, is a trusted expert or connoisseur.

20-Fold Return on Investment

“At that point in the recession, companies were having challenges finding new business and churn of customer. I could see a need for us to bring our skills to bear with IT companies to help them win new business. We do a combination of market research and telephone calling. We research the market on behalf of our customers to identify companies that are suited to them and in buying mode,” says Cradock.

He adds that, typically, the firm’s clients achieve in excess of a 20-fold return on investment in Maven TM’s services.
“The key to our success is simply the good work we do. If we deliver success to our client, they get a strong margin on their investment. That’s led to strong repeat business.”

Growth

In just four years, Cradock has built up a team of 30, and in 2014 grew sales revenue by 82pc. He says one of the challenges he’s faced is in ensuring the company is growing at the right rate.

“We don’t want to grow too fast but want to make sure we have the resources to fulfil our campaigns successfully. We have clients now in over 10 countries, we conduct campaigns into 23 countries, and we cater to 12 languages.”

Maven TM has clients in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the US, with international markets comprising 40pc of the work it does. Last year, it won a significant contract with Vodafone.

The company became a client of Enterprise Ireland in 2014, which helped with its expansion overseas.

Enterprise Ireland Support

“It’s always great to get support like that. It helps accelerate the growth, and to secure more of the jobs in the company,” says Cradock.

A key strategy for the firm in 2015 is growth and development of partnerships for the US market. Cradock expects it to double its revenue from now until the end of 2016, and to double its head count in that period.

The firm is also planning to move premises within Carlow this year, to accommodate its growth.

This all lead to Maven TM being shortlisted out of 500 applicants and finalists in the service category.

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A Mad New Start-Up! http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/mad-new-start/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/mad-new-start/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 07:00:14 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=80700 Madinks.ie is a mad new start-up. A new innovative website that makes shopping for Printer Ink as easy as possible for the end user. Our goal is to provide customers with a high quality, competitively priced product, and make the shopping online experience as much fun as possible!  We have […]

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Madinks.ie is a mad new start-up. A new innovative website that makes shopping for Printer Ink as easy as possible for the end user. Our goal is to provide customers with a high quality, competitively priced product, and make the shopping online experience as much fun as possible!  We have developed an award winning website that has simplified the process of buying printer ink, while offering customers the best prices on printer ink on the web. Our cartridge finder shows customers a picture of their printer, to help identify what cartridges they need to buy. Customers can then save their preferences making repeat purchases as easy as possible. We have also partnered with An Post Courier service ensuring deliveries throughout Ireland are speedy and next day!

Best Micro e-Commerce website

Since we have gone live, within the first month we managed to win Best Micro e-Commerce website at the 2014 Web Awards. This was an incredible achievement considering the intense competition, and acknowledged all the hard work that had gone into the site development over the last number of months prior to launching the website.  It was also the most fun you can have at an Awards ceremony, and we are really looking forward to this years show!

Shortly after this we managed to win Best Digital Retail Experience at the Eircom Spiders 2014 Awards ceremony.  This was very much unexpected, and considering our competition we were absolutely shocked to have won in such a difficult category. The Eircom Spiders is a very prestigious award, and both ourselves and our development team at Artizan were over the moon to win in such a competitive category.

So why ink? Well I had previously been trying to order printer ink, and found the whole experience soul destroying!  After perusing through outdated websites, which seemed to make the process as difficult as possible for the customer, and lack of sites configured to the new technology platforms such as iPhones, smartphones, iPads etc., I was left perplexed!  This in itself was an eye opener, as the industry seems to have stood still for the last number of years, unwilling to catch up with the times.

Friendly Buying Experience

The new world is a hectic one, whereby people want to buy via their smartphones while watching TV, so I thought to myself why not?  We then put a team together to investigate why the process was so difficult, and to try and make the buying experience a friendly and easy one…. And we did!

At Madinks we have taken the boring and difficult part out of ordering ink online. All the hard parts are already done for the customer, so the ordering process is made as simple as possible. We have a facility within your account that allows the system to remember your printer, so next time you are ordering, you are only two clicks away from finding the correct cartridges from your machine. This has sped up customer interactions and made the process exceptionally easy to follow.

We also developed a brand character named “Carter”, who is our site mascot designed to help customers by guiding them through our website, and offering live support to answer any and all questions. We felt adapting to new technologies would separate us from our competitors in the market place.

In terms of competitiveness we have found that the majority of customers are more interested in service and support rather than focusing in on price.  We have found an increasing number of students are now buying from the website to avail of our remarkably low prices! On average we have managed to price our product 20-30% cheaper than our competitors. Our high customer demand and low overheads have managed to keep our buying power strong, and all of our savings we pass on to the end customer. This strategy coupled with our cutting edge technology has secured our position in the market place and instilled thrust and loyalty from our customers.

For more information and great deals on printer ink cartridges check out https://www.madinks.ie

We are constantly updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts and we also use Google+, all of which can be accessed directly from our website!

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What Happens if You Can’t Afford an Employee Redundancy Payment? http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/what-happens-if-you-cant-afford-an-employee-redundancy-payment/ http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/what-happens-if-you-cant-afford-an-employee-redundancy-payment/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 08:09:57 +0000 http://www.smallbusinesscan.com/?p=80845 Over the last 7 years, a significant number of companies have faced financial difficulty, often necessitating making employees redundant. However, it is often the case that the employer can’t even afford to pay the employee redundancy payment given the financial position of the business. So what happens here? Employee Redundancy […]

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Over the last 7 years, a significant number of companies have faced financial difficulty, often necessitating making employees redundant. However, it is often the case that the employer can’t even afford to pay the employee redundancy payment given the financial position of the business. So what happens here?

Employee Redundancy Payment Entitlements

Pay An employee is entitled to redundancy pay by virtue of Schedule 3 of the Redundancy Payments Acts. If an employee is made redundant then they qualify for statutory redundancy pay if they have 104 weeks’ continuous reckonable service or more with the employer in question.

Statutory redundancy pay amounts to two weeks’ pay per each year of service, plus one bonus week. Thus, if an employee has exactly 3 years’ service they are entitled to [(3 years x 2 weeks) + 1 bonus week] = 7 weeks redundancy pay. The weekly pay is based on the normal weekly wage earned by that employee during their employment, including commission or other varied payments, but it is subject to the statutory ceiling of €600 per week. Thus, if the employee with 3 years’ service earned €800 a week then their statutory redundancy is capped at (7 weeks x €600) = €4200. Any part years’ service should be included on a pro rata basis when calculating the employee’s redundancy entitlement.

Inability to Pay the Redundancy

Payment Given the financial climate of recent times, more and more companies are finding the need to inform their employees to claim redundancy through the Social Insurance fund. This situation arises when the company does not have enough financial means to pay the redundancy lump sum payment. Once an employee is formally being made redundant, the employer must pay your employee the lump sum on this date.

If you do not have the financial means to pay the lump sum payment, then the employee can apply to the Department of social Protection for direct payment from the Social Insurance Fund. The employee should complete and sign the RP50 form which is still required under the Redundancy Payments Acts. The employer should also submit evidence verified by a suitable person, such as an accountant or solicitor, which verifies that the employer has an inability to pay the redundancy lump sum (e.g. an audit of accounts). The employer should state that they are unable to pay and request that the payment be made from the Social Insurance fund.

It is worth mentioning that seeking recourse under the social insurance fund, will only pay the redundancy statutory lump sum payment and not the notice period, annual leave or public holiday entitlements due to the employee cessation of their employment.

Once your employee has enough social insurance contributions they may be entitled to job seekers benefit. If they do not have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for Job Seekers Allowance which is a means-tested benefit.

If a company has been liquidated or is in receivership, the completed RP50 should be send in by the liquidator or receiver on behalf of the employees.

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