Posted by Oliver Meredew on March 11th, 2016.
With 2016 now well underway, it might seem as though it’s too late to change company policy or practices without throwing a spanner into the works of your carefully-crafted business. That kind of outlook can be limiting, however, and it’s worth remembering that while it seems like a bit of a strange concept, having an ‘agile’ attitude is the key to success when faced with a constantly evolving business world.
While physical security is obviously incredibly important when it comes to keeping your stock in the storeroom and the premises burglar-free, digital security is increasingly becoming one of the big issues out there for small business owners.
Having a good understanding of how cyber criminals can infiltrate businesses and companies is key in the 21st century, with SMEs being most at risk due to a sometimes reduced focus on the cyber security side of things. Just as security systems are getting more sophisticated by the day, so too are the people who try to bypass these defences for profit.
In addition to the usual system-destroying viruses, there is also the threat of ransomware, where a hacker can steal data from your computer or make it inaccessible until you pay to ‘release’ your own information.
With so many threats out there, it can be difficult to know where to begin in shoring up your company’s digital defence. Thankfully, the government-backed measure Cyber Essentials scheme provides an overview of the dangers and defences present, as well as a short quiz which effectively identifies areas for improvement when it comes to company security.
Knowing what the market is likely to do before it does it is always beneficial, but this tip applies most strongly to the impending minimum wage increase, which will come into effect in the UK on April 1st.
The basic details are that workers aged over 25 get a minimum of £7.20 an hour instead of £6.70, which sounds simple in practice but could mean that you have to shift things around in your organisation in order to retain staff and keep operations running as usual.
In more general terms, staying up to snuff on any new policies or measures before they’re put into place will benefit your business greatly as you can take pre-emptive measures to make the transition as smooth as possible.
‘Big Data’, or business intelligence, is a modern trend that has been a long time coming in terms of the positive impact it can have on your business.
The idea is a potent one – by taking statistics and information about your enterprise’s daily operations and going through it with a fine tooth comb, it’s possible to identify precisely where the business model is excelling and conversely which aspects of your company could do with a bit of polishing.
In addition to making a useful timeline that shows how the business has been getting along, the real power of ‘big data’ lies in its ability to shape the way the way a company approaches the future, by identifying untapped areas of the market that are ripe for expansion and could benefit from the services that your company specialise in.
There are plenty of programs out there that correlate company information into an easily digestible format, but even without these you can make a go of rifling through previous annual reports and picking out any patterns that seem like they could make or break your current business model.
This is a tip that has been decades in the making and revolves around the increasing tech-savviness of the average consumer. While you might previously have gotten away with a dated website or the occasional jarring experience with a customer, those times are a world away from the plugged-in, switched-on attitude of 2016.
Millennials have grown up with technology moving forward in leaps and bounds before their very eyes and in most cases, are quite capable of using these developments in potentially beneficial or detrimental ways against your business.
Smartphones are now ubiquitous and given that ratings sites are treated as gospel, the average visitor is no longer content to take a bad experience lying down. If you decide to undergo a makeover in response to this tip, consider developing an app for your business.
These simple squares can ease customer access into your service (if applicable) and at the very least will ensure that the company stands shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the pack when under the ever-discerning eye of the millennial.
It’s 2016, so this point really shouldn’t be on here, but the treatment of women in the workplace (and in general) is increasingly becoming a driving force for change in the business world. The gender pay gap, in particular, is a space that companies are increasingly looking to close in order to put women on a long overdue level pegging with their male counterparts.
On a wider scale, there are a number of what may seem to be radical policy measures that can be used to push your company to the front when it comes to appealing to prospective employees.
These include expanding the current parenting scheme (Netflix made headlines in 2015 when they promised paid parental leave a year after the birth) and extending the same level of benefits and perks to all staff, regardless of how high they sit on the totem pole. While this might mean a bit of readjustment for the company as a whole, the retaining power granted by such measures can be more than worth the cost.
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